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<2013 December>

More Links

# Thursday, 12 December 2013
MyHeritage Adds 32 Million Genealogy Records From Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark
Posted by Diane

Genealogy website MyHeritage has launched a major initiative in the Nordic countries with more than 32 million records from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, plus dedicated social media channels. The records are accessible with a MyHeritage data subscription ($9.95 per month, billed annually).

The site also is investing millions of dollars and has agreements in place to digitize more Nordic content and add it over the next few years.

The new Nordic historical record collections comprise birth, death, marriage, baptismal and others, covering more than 90 million names. Here's a country-by-country breakdown of the new collections (click each country name to search MyHeritage records of that country):
  • Sweden: 11 million records with 31 million names, including baptism documents dating back to 1611, marriage documents dating back to 1630 and burial documents dating back to 1649
  • Norway: 10 million records with 30 million names, including baptism documents dating back to 1634, marriage documents dating back to 1660, burial documents dating back to 1666, and the Norwegian national census of 1875
  • Denmark: 5.5 million records with 14 million names, including baptism documents dating back to 1618, marriage documents dating back to 1635 and burial documents dating back to 1640
  • Finland: 5.5 million records with 16 million names. These collections include baptism documents dating back to 1657, marriage documents dating back to 1682 and burial documents dating back to 1725
MyHeritage, which has more than 470,000 registered users in Sweden, 350,000 in Norway, 300,000 in Denmark, and 200,000 in Finland, has also launched a blog, Facebook account and Twitter account dedicated to each country. You can access them from this MyHeritage blog post

Those users have added more than 70 million profiles in 730,000 family trees on MyHeritage.

Get help researching your roots in Norway, SwedenFinland, Denmark and elsewhere in Europe from the guides at

International Genealogy | MyHeritage
Thursday, 12 December 2013 09:13:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 10 December 2013
9 Useful Features for Finding Records on
Posted by Diane

With a genealogy website as gigantic as, searching for ancestors' old records can be overwhelming.

As I was putting together resources for our Power User Ultimate Collection, I thought it might be helpful to point out some of FamilySearch's most-useful features for searching records, viewing matches, and browsing collections: 


1. On the records search page, you can use wildcards in names when searching records and family trees. An asterisk (*) stands for any number of letters and a question mark (?) stands for one letter.

2. Matches automatically include similar name spellings. Click the boxes by the first or last name to search on exact name spellings.

3. You also can click Exact boxes to search for the exact place of residence, birth, death or other life event you specify.

4. Use the Search with a relationship section to search with the name of a spouse, parent, or other person who might appear in a record with your target ancestor. This can help the right records rise to the top of your results list, especially when you're searching for someone with a common name.

Viewing Matches

5. Use the arrow in the Preview column to view indexed information from each match.

6. To run a new search, instead of going back to the search page, use the Refine Your Search box to the top left of your search results page.

Filtering Matches

7. In your search results, the filters located on the left side of the screen let you narrow the results list by collection (such as 1920 census records or WWI Draft registrations); places and year ranges (1700s, 1800s, 1900s) for birth, marriage, death, residence and other life events; and gender.

Finding the Best Collections to Search

8. To find collections of digitized records that you can search individually or that aren't yet searchable (because they haven't been indexed), go to the Browse All Records page  and use the filters to narrow the list by place, year range, or type of record.

For example, if I want to look for church record databases related to places in Germany where my immigrant ancestors are from, I would click Place filter Continental Europe and then Germany. From Collections, I'd choose Birth, Marriage and Death (where church records are categorized). You also can search withthe Filter By Collection Name box, but you have to be able to guess a word in the collection title.

9. Collection titles with Browse Images in the Records column aren't indexed—you have to browse by locality, name, or however the records are organized.

Save more than 65% on the Power User Ultimate Collection in December! It has video classes, printed lessons and our Cheat Sheet to help you make the most of this huge, free genealogy resource.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 16:26:36 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
New: Place My Past Website Maps Your Family Tree
Posted by Diane

A new website called Place My Past (currently accessible to those who are invited) looks to be a hybrid of a family tree site, a mapping site and a social network.

Depending on your membership level, Place My Past lets you explore places and events using map tools; upload, share and view historical maps; trace your family's geographic roots; and explore their movements over time.

Users sign into the site with a MyHeritage account (so you'll need to create a tree on MyHeritage if you don't have one) and the site will import and plot your family tree on its map.

Although it's open by invitation only right now, you can ask to be notified by email when the site officially launches.

To give you an idea of what the site does, Place My Past created this US map with events from the Kennedy family tree.

When I clicked on Lancaster, Pa., a little pop-up had a city profile and gave me a link to view family events there.

Besides Events, you also could see media attached to that location and others following it.

Explore the site here, or take a tour (with comments pointing out features and tools).

There are three levels of Place My Past registration: 

  • A free Guest registration lets you view the site's main map with location details and "anonymized" information about people and events
  • A free Member can upload family trees; add and update people, places and events; and view public information from other members.
  • For $4 per month (billed as $48 per year), Subscribing members can view family migrations; upload and share historical maps; follow people, places and events; and connect with other members.

Love old maps? Learn five ways to use old maps to solve genealogy research problems in our webinar Five Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research With Old Maps, taking place this Thursday, Dec. 12, with Lisa Louise Cooke.

Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage | Social Networking | Maps
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 13:42:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 06 December 2013
Genealogy News Corral, December 2-6
Posted by Diane

  • Millennia Corp. has released version 8 of its Legacy Family Tree genealogy software. Updates include Origins and Migrations reports, animated Migration Mapping, instant checking for duplicate individuals as you enter new relatives, alerts to potential problems such as typos or unusual gaps between dates, source labels to attache to documents, source citations on pedigree charts, and more. The Standard Edition of Legacy Family Tree is free; Legacy 8.0 Deluxe packages cost $29.95 to $59.95 (upgrade packages cost $21.95 to $51.95). Learn more at the Legacy Family Tree website.
  • Online registration is open for the National Genealogical Society 2014 Family History Conference, May 7-10 in Richmond, Va. Full-conference fees range from $195 to $265 (save money by registering before March 24); single-day registration is $105 to $115. You can order a printed syllabus for an additional $25.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, 06 December 2013 08:56:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 04 December 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 America.
  • 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 (1944).

  • 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 Massachusetts ancestors.

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, 04 December 2013 14:45:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 03 December 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, 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!

1. From 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 written inside.

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 War.

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, 03 December 2013 15:51:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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]