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<2013 November>

More Links

# Monday, 25 November 2013
Tips to Find and Share Old Family Recipes
Posted by Diane

Food takes center stage at the holidays, when many families enjoy old recipes passed down from grandmas and great-grandmas. Occasions such as Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa are ideal times to gather up family recipes, find out relatives' memories about the dishes, and share them.

Collect and share old family recipes with these guidelines and our Preserving Family Recipes Value Pack:
  • contact relatives near and far and ask them to contribute their family recipes, or their favorite memories of foods they ate on special occasions

  • Host a potluck dinner or family reunion. Invite family members to bring their favorite dishes, along with the recipes, to a holiday dinner or reunion.

  • Take a picture of each relative along with the dish he or she brought.

  • Ask relatives what they remember eating on special occasions, and for their memories of the dish.

  • You can create a simple recipe book with recipes, stories and inserted photos in Word. Make copies at a copy shop (where you can have it spiral bound if you want). Or use an online photo book service; many of which have pre-designed templates especially for creating recipe books.

  • You also could create recipe cards (using a template such as this) and give them in recipe boxes.

  • Invite family members over to cook together. It's a nice way to learn a special recipe from the expert and/or teach it to the next generation. Take photos or record the process. If you need help with old measurements, get our free, printable conversion chart (it's pretty enough to double as frameable kitchen art).

  • If you don't have family recipes, books like these and these about ethnic and historical cooking can help you learn about what your ancestors probably ate.

The Preserving Family Recipes Value Pack gives you a nicely discounted price on our From the Family Kitchen book plus video and written lessons on researching and sharing your family's food history. Get yours while they last in

Family Recipes | Social History
Monday, 25 November 2013 08:49:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 22 November 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Nov. 18-22
Posted by Diane

  • Heredis 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.
  • 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 keyword.
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 blog. | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, 22 November 2013 14:52:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
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 online.

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.

Current OCR 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:
  • 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.
Matt Garner, a developer Mocavo inherited last year when it acquired Ready Micro, has been instrumental in developing the software.

On 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," he writes.

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,, and other genealogy websites. Check it now at

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 22 November 2013 09:54:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 21 November 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:
  • 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
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.

Go here to learn more about the Massachusetts Genealogy: Beyond the Basics webinar and to register.

Thursday, 21 November 2013 11:40:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 20 November 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,,, and (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:
  • Five 60-minute on-demand webinar classes, viewable whenever it's convenient for you during the week (or download to view later)
  • one video class, also downloadable and viewable at your convenience
  • two printed how-to guide downloads
  • web search makeovers and message board Q&As with Nancy Hendrickson
View the full Mastering the Best Genealogy Websites workshop program on

Save $35 when you register by using coupon code WORKSHOP!

Editor's Pick | Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 10:34:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 19 November 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
  • 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 grocery store.
  • Identify potential cluster research subjects (i.e., the neighbors).
  • Understand your ancestors' neighborhoods.
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.

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 files.
  • Hargrett 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, 19 November 2013 12:11:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 18 November 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 mementos.

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 family.

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 clients.

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 it."

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, 18 November 2013 13:44:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 15 November 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
  • 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 website.

  • 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, 15 November 2013 13:22:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 14 November 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! and 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 ancestors. 

Here's a rundown of the topics you'll find information on:
  • 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.

Research Tips
Thursday, 14 November 2013 09:21:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Making the Most of 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, 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, 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 in Co. 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 webinar, on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 7pm ET (6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT). Presenter David A. Fryxell will show you
  • 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 the military
All webinar registrants will receive a PDF handout of the presentation slides, plus access to watch the recording again as often as you want.

Click 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, 13 November 2013 14:45:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]