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Friday, November 22, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Nov. 18-22
Posted by Diane
2014 for Windows is now available, with highlights
including a Search Wizard that lets you display known
information about a relative and those around him, helping
you note areas where more research is needed. A new Migrations
map displays ancestral migrations with numbered pins and lists
of life events that happened in each place. See
all the new 2014 Heredis for Windows features here.
- Ancestry.com has a collection of data from Associated Press
news articles. The collections include a name index to AP
stories (1905-1990), a subject index to AP stories (1937-1985),
and AP stories and news features (1937-1985) that were selected
by news libraries as being "of national or international
importance." The latter two collections are searchable by
Two additional collections, which you can browse, the AP
Service Bulletin (1904-1927) and The AP World (1943-2001) are
publications for news organizations and journalists. These may be
most useful if you're researching someone who worked in the media. See more details on the Ancestry.com blog.
Ancestry.com | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, November 22, 2013 2:52:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
A Genealogy Dream in the Making: OCR Software That Reads Old Handwriting
Posted by Diane
Mocavo announced this week that it's making progress on optical
character recognition (OCR) software that will read cursive
handwriting, which could revolutionize how digitized records are put
OCR software is often used to index typeset genealogy records, such
as newspapers, city directories and family history books. It lets
you search every word in those records, without any person ever having to
read the record and extract names and dates.
software is pretty good at reading those typeset documents, although it
makes mistakes when documents or digitized images have problems such
as fading, blurring and ink spots. When I search OCR-indexed records
for my last name, I get a lot of irrelevant matches containing the phrase "had had."
OCR software that can read not just typed or printed words, but also cursive handwriting of various languages,
historical eras and styles, means digital records could become searchable online a
lot faster. Potential benefits include:
Matt Garner, a developer Mocavo inherited last year when it acquired Ready Micro, has been
instrumental in developing the software.
- There would be no need for armies of volunteers to index records.
- You would be able to search the entire text of documents,
not just the names and dates captured by indexers.
- Full transcriptions of documents would be readily available.
the Mocavo blog, company founder Cliff Shaw described the process,
which first involved developing OCR software that could
"perfectly separate handwriting from typewritten text."
Now, Shaw says, the company is getting closer to the "Holy Grail" of
being able to accurately read handwritten text. "With limited
vocabularies (potential answers), we’re achieving 90-95% accuracy,"
They still have work to do to achieve the ability to read handwriting of a wide range of styles, and to overcome problems with faded or ink-spotted documents I mentioned above. Read
about the software and see examples on the Mocavo blog.
Our Master the Best Genealogy Websites one-week online workshop will make you a research wizard at Mocavo, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com and other genealogy websites. Check it now at FamilyTreeUniversity.com.
Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, November 22, 2013 9:54:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Beyond-the-Basics Genealogy Resources for Tracing Massachusetts Ancestors
Posted by Diane
Around Thanksgiving, you might stand a bit taller with pride in your
Mayflower Pilgrim roots.
Whether your Massachusetts ancestors include Pilgrims (who were
actually headed for Virginia, but strayed off-course during a
storm), Massachusetts Bay Colony settlers, Irish or French
Canadian immigrants, or other Bay State residents, you can delve
deeper into their genealogy records with help from our Massachusetts
Genealogy: Beyond the Basics webinar.
If you've already done basic research using federal censuses
and state-level vital records, take this opportunity to learn about
more-advanced resources from Massachussetts genealogy expert Laura
Prescott. Examples include:
The webinar is Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT,
4 p.m. PT). Anyone who registers gets access to view the webinar
again as often as desired, plus handouts of the webinar slides.
- Massachusetts and Maine (then part of Massachusetts) Direct
Tax List of 1798
- Massachusetts state censuses in 1855 and 1865
- school, business, meeting, freemen and other town records (in
Massachusetts, towns are the basic record-keeping unit)
- probate, land and other court records
- the resources of the New
England Historic and Genealogical Society, Massachusetts Archives
and other state-specific repositories
Go here to learn more about the Massachusetts Genealogy: Beyond the
Basics webinar and to register.
Thursday, November 21, 2013 11:40:27 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Become an Online Genealogy Research Wizard
Posted by Diane
As a modern genealogist who has a lot to do in addition to looking for
ancestors, you probably spend most of your research time—what
precious minutes you get—online.
We'll help you find more family information in your limited online genealogy research time with our
weeklong online workshop Mastering
the Best Genealogy Websites, coming to a computer near you
Dec. 13-20. (Pssst! See below for a money-saving coupon code.)
This workshop will help you master content-rich sites including Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Fold3.com, and Mocavo.com (which has recently added thousands of databases
as part of its "Free Forever" initiative), as well as online tools
with strong genealogy application, such as Evernote and Google.
You'll learn the best ways to navigate these sites, find out what
databases they contain, and search them for records about your
family. You'll also be able to consult with Discover
Your Family History Online author Nancy Hendrickson
about your online genealogy questions. The Mastering
the Best Genealogy Websites workshop includes:
the full Mastering the Best Genealogy Websites workshop program on
- Five 60-minute on-demand webinar classes, viewable whenever
it's convenient for you during the week (or download to view
- one video class, also downloadable and viewable at your
- two printed how-to guide downloads
- web search makeovers and message board Q&As with Nancy
Save $35 when you register
by using coupon code WORKSHOP!
Editor's Pick | Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:34:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Four Free Websites to Find Old Maps
Posted by Diane
Plan of Cincinnati and Vicinity, S.A. Mitchell, Jr., 1860, David Rumsey Map Collection
In genealogy research, old maps can help you
In our 5
Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy With Old Maps live webinar,
happening Thursday, Dec. 12, Lisa Louise Cooke will show
you the five kinds of maps you should look for and the best ways to
use them to solve genealogy research problems.
- Pinpoint the location of your ancestor's property.
- Follow migrating ancestors across the ocean, around the
country or through the city.
- Answer questions such as where two branches crossed to produce
the next generation.
- Figure out where a family went to school, church and the
- Identify potential cluster research subjects (i.e., the
- Understand your ancestors' neighborhoods.
In the mean time, try these four websites to find free maps of the
places your ancestors lived.
- David Rumsey Historical
Map Collection: The maps and other
cartographic images here focus on rare 18th- and 19th-century
North American and South American materials. You can view
maps, compare them side-by-side and download hi-resolution
Library Rare Map Collection: This University of
Georgia site features maps depicting the New World, Colonial and
Revolutionary America, Revolutionary Georgia, Union &
Expansion, the American Civil War, Frontier to New South,
Savannah and the Coast and Transportation.
Free Databases | Land records | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 12:11:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, November 18, 2013
How My Sister Tracked Down a Family for Old Photos Found in a Thrift Store Dresser
Posted by Diane
Lawyers and genealogists have a lot in common (just ask the Legal
Genealogist), including investigative skills. My lawyer sister
used hers recently to find a home for a collection of family
It's a happy story, so I asked if I could blog about it.
A stranger called my sister, Jen, at work, about old
photo albums, papers and trinkets she found in a dresser she bought at a St.
Vincent de Paul thrift shop.
(Reminder to double-check inside any furniture and behind picture frames before you donate them!)
The woman looked for a name, found Jen's married surname
with a photo, googled it, and found Jen's profile on her law firm's website.
Jen went to pick up the stuff.
She pored over it with her husband
and his sister. It was a big collection. "There were nine photo albums of old black
and whites from about the early 1900s to the 1960s, plus an album of
color photos from the 1970s and '80s, old Disabled American Veterans
and American Legion hats and pins, and Freemasons certificates and
mementos," Jen says. (She didn't take a picture; the box pictured above is just for illustration.)
Except for the one photo, which showed my brother-in-law's
great-aunt and -uncle, none of the items appeared to be from his
Another name appeared a few times amongst the items
(not included here for privacy purposes). Jen googled the
names and came up with two obituaries for a husband and wife. One was fairly recent and
mentioned no surviving children, only unnamed nieces and nephews.
Jen put on her lawyer hat and reasoned the family might still be
dealing with an estate. She visited the Kenton
County (Ky.) Property Valuation Administrator's website and
found a home listed under the deceased couple's names. She googled
the address—it was for sale. Then she tracked down the real estate
agent in charge of the listing, contacted him with an explanation
about the stuff, and asked him to forward her contact information to his
A few days later, one of the nieces called Jen. "I described what
was in the photos and what some of the names listed in the photos
were, and it was all familiar to her. She came to the
office to pick everything up, and was super excited about getting
The niece is related to my brother-in-law, at least through
marriage, because his great-aunt and -uncle are her relatives, too. Happy ending!
Family Heirlooms | Research Tips
Monday, November 18, 2013 1:44:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, November 15, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Nov. 11-15
Posted by Diane
- FamilySearch has added
more than 3.2 million indexed records and images from Austria,
BillionGraves, Brazil, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the
United States. See the
full list of new and updated collections here; just click a
database title to search or browse (for unindexed records) the
collection for free on FamilySearch.org.
- Harvard University is launching a Colonial North America project to
digitize some of the 30 million pages of 17th- and 18th-century
manuscripts in its libraries. They include journals, Harvard
administrative records, student notebooks and more.
Collections at Harvard and other repositories, including the
Massachusetts Historical Society and the Boston Public
Library, will be digitized for the Colonial Archives of North
America project. These projects will make it possible to virtually
reunite Colonial-era documents that were scattered over time. Read
more about these projects in the online Harvard Gazette.
- The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is seeking nominations for
its National Genealogy Hall of Fame. Nominees must have been
deceased at least five years, have been actively involved in
genealogy in the United States for at least 10 years, and have made
significant contributions to the field. The nomination deadline is
Jan. 31. See nomination guidelines and download the nomination form
on the NGS
- MyHeritage has enhanced its record extraction feature by letting you extract information from a historical record on the site directly to a multiple family tree profiles related to that record. For example, if you find a census record for a family, you can extract the census information into your MyHeritage family tree profiles for all the household members. Learn more about this feature on the MyHeritage blog.
FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives | MyHeritage
Friday, November 15, 2013 1:22:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Expert Answers To Your Genealogy Research Questions
Posted by Diane
Elizabeth Shown Mills, author of the must-have genealogy source
analysis and citation reference books Evidence!
Explained, is answering New York Times reader
questions about family history research.
In these genealogy-focused articles in the paper's "Ask An Expert"
series, Mills offers advice on online genealogy research, finding
old records, DNA testing, and Jewish and African-American
Here's a rundown of the topics you'll find
- Part 1: In
the first installment of the series, published last week,
Mills answers questions on starting genealogy research (she
recommends our Family
Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising,
available in print and as an e-book); genetic genealogy; and
using online family tree sites.
(As an aside, The Family Tree Problem Solver is part of our limited-time, nicely discounted Ultimate Genealogy Problem-Solver Collection, which also includes video classes and written lessons on tracking ancestral migrations, telling apart same-named individuals in records, cluster research and more.)
- Part 2: Questions
addressed in Part 2 involve Jewish families
from communities with "memory holes" created by the Holocaust; Holocaust survivors who migrated to Argentina; old family photos (Mills suggests the
work of Family Tree Magazine's Photo Detective, Maureen
A. Taylor); source citations; genealogical
numbering systems; railroad employees; genealogy in India; and becoming a professional genealogist.
- Part 3: In next week's installment, Mills will answer
questions on researching enslaved ancestors and doing genealogy
in New York.
Still have questions? Family Tree Magazine's genealogy experts answer readers' research questions in each issue, and we also include genealogy Q&As in our weekly Genealogy Insider email newsletter. You can submit your genealogy question by posting on our Facebook page or emailing us.
Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:21:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Making the Most of Fold3.com: My Relative's Civil War Service
Posted by Diane
Did Veteran's Day get you thinking about your ancestor's military
service and how you can learn more about it?
One research option is the subscription genealogy website Fold3.com, which has records on
conflicts from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War,
Indian Wars, Civil War, Spanish-American War, world wars I and II,
the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. (Although the site switched its
focus to military records a few years back, it also has some
nonmilitary records, such as city directories, American Indian
censuses, naturalizations and more.)
When we started working on a webinar
about researching on Fold3.com, I went looking for family
members' records there. Here's a page from the compiled military
service record (CMSR) for my third-great-granduncle Frank Thoss
(brother of my third-great-grandfather Louis Thoss), a private
A, 53rd Regiment, Kentucky Infantry.
Frank's widow filed for a pension in 1886, according to this pension
index card, so I can send for a copy of the application from the National Archives (select
widows' pensions are digitized on Fold3).
You can search Fold3 for your ancestors' names, and view records with a subscription (some libraries and FamilySearch Centers
let patrons use Fold3 on their computers, so check out that option).
Free Fold3 collections are
marked with a small green "Free" in the site's database listing.
Get help finding your ancestors' records on Fold3 in our Making
the Most of Fold3.com webinar, on Thursday, Nov.
21, at 7pm ET (6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT).
Presenter David A. Fryxell will show you
All webinar registrants will receive a PDF handout of the
presentation slides, plus access to watch the recording again as
often as you want.
the site's collections, including lesser-known records that might
have information on your family
how to navigate the site
the best strategies for searching it (the search works
differently from other genealogy sites you might be used to)
when you should browse instead, and how to do it
how you can find records on ancestors who never actually served in
here for more details on the Making the Most of Fold3 webinar, and
to register for your seat.
Fold3 | Military records | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 2:45:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Search Canadian Old Military Records Free Through Nov. 11
Posted by Diane
In honor of Canada’s
Remembrance Day, which coincides with Veterans Day
in the United States, subscription genealogy website Ancestry.ca is
providing free access to more than 4.4 million military records
now through Nov. 12.
The records come from the First and Second World War, the Rebellion
of 1837 and the War of 1812.
You'll need to register for a free Ancestry.ca account (or log into
your account, if you've already set one up) in order to view records
that match your search. Learn more about
Ancestry.ca's free military records offer and start your search
Researching ancestors in Canada? The tools in our our Canadian
Genealogy Value Pack (now on sale for $18 off) will get you
started. Find Canadian immigration records with our Canadian
Immigration Records video class or our Canada
Immigration Genealogy Guide download.
Canadian roots | Military records
Thursday, November 07, 2013 9:07:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)