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Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Parks, Polka and Portuguese: A Little Massachusetts History Trivia for You
Posted by Diane
And now, in honor of next week's Massachusetts
Genealogy: Beyond the Basics webinar, some history trivia
about the Bay State:
- In 1634, Boston Common became the first public park in
- Puritans established the first public school in America in
1635 at the home of schoolmaster Philemon Pormont. It was later
moved to School Street.
- Lowell, Mass., was America's first planned industrial city, a
textile manufacturing center.
- The state of Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820.
- The Massachusetts flag was two-sided from 1908 to 1971. The
state seal was on one side (an Algonquin Indian on a blue
shield), and a pine tree on a blue shield was on the reverse.
- Massachusettsans invented vulcanized rubber (1839), the
sewing machine (1845), volleyball (1895), and the first automatic digital computer
- Since 1998, Massachusetts has had an official polka, "Say
Hello To Someone From Massachusetts" by Lenny Gomulka
- In 1795, the population of Massachusetts was nearly 95
percent of English ancestry. Today, Irish and part-Irish are the
state's largest ancestry group.
Massachusetts has a relatively large population of Portuguese
descent. Immigrants came from the Azores in the 19th century to
work in the whaling industry; later arrivals worked in textile
and other factories.
In the webinar Massachusetts
Genealogy: Beyond the Basics, professional genealogist Laura
Prescott will show you new resources and strategies for tracing
The hour-long session is Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7p.m. ET (6p.m. CT,
5p.m. MT, 4p.m. PT). Registration includes a PDF of the
presentation slides, plus access to view the webinar again as
often as you want. Click
here for more on what you'll learn.
Social History | Webinars
Wednesday, December 04, 2013 2:45:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
12 Gift Ideas for People Who Appreciate Family History
Posted by Diane
I wanted to give you a little help with your holiday shopping list.
These are my favorite things from ShopFamilyTree.com, and they'd be
great for genealogists, but not just for genealogists. Anyone
with an appreciation for family history would enjoy these gifts.
See below the image for the numbered descriptions and links to learn
more. PS: A lot of these are on sale for Cyber Week!
the Family Kitchen by Gena Philibert Ortega is a pretty,
hardbound book with food history, old recipe resources and pages to
record family recipes. It would be nice for the family chef,
for Grandma or a new daughter-in-law, perhaps with a few recipes already
2. The Children's
Preservation Kit has the archival storage materials a new
parent needs to preserve baby's coming-home outfit, a baptismal
gown, favorite toys and more.
3. A parent, grandparent or other photographer who likes capturing
faces will appreciate the photography tips in Expressions:
Taking Extraordinary Photos for Your Scrapbooking and Memory Art.
4. For the Civil War buff, Life
in Civil War America has interesting and surprising details
about what it was like for our ancestors who lived during the Civil
5. Our Historical
Map Sampler genealogy desktop calendar is a nice
stocking-stuffer for genealogy and geography enthusiasts.
6. Not sure what to give? A
Cup of Comfort for Christmas has heartwarming stories
that celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
7. The Flip-Pal
Mobile Scanner is on the wish lists of many family historians
who want to digitally preserve old family photos discovered on
research trips and visits to relatives' homes.
8. Got a writer on your list? My
Life and Times by Sunny Jane Morton, a book in a
three-ring binder, is full of prompts, exercises and fill-in pages
to help memoirists write their own life story.
9. You can get the Watercolor
Design Family Tree as an 11x14-inch paper chart or as a
type-in PDF file (includes three sizes) that you can download, fill
in with family names, save, print and frame. Print copies as
keepsakes for all your relatives.
10. If you're been wanting to give compiled genealogy
information to your Mom or Dad, you could give the Family
Tree Memory Keeper, filled
out. It's a workbook for keeping genealogy
information, family stories and records, old recipes, important
dates and more (so you might want one for yourself).
11. If your family is proud of its Irish roots, 101
Things You Didn't Know About Irish History: The People, Places,
Culture and Traditions of the Emerald Isle will make
your relatives even prouder.
12. The Floral
Design Family Tree is similar to the Watercolor Design,
available as an 11x14-inch paper chart or as a type-in PDF file (three sizes included),
just with a different look. I have this framed in my daughter's room.
Genealogy fun | saving and sharing family history
Tuesday, December 03, 2013 3:51:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, November 25, 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
- 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.
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, November 25, 2013 8:49:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
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)