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<January 2014>

More Links

# Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Four Ways I've Found German Ancestors' Birthplaces
Posted by Diane

Finding a birth place for your ancestors from Europe is the genealogical Holy Grail, because it opens up the possibility of finding overseas records, particularly church records.

For German ancestors, our German Genealogy Crash Course webinar next Thursday, Jan. 16, has information about resources that can help you trace your roots back to Germany. It also gives attendees a chance to ask questions of presenter James M. Beidler.

In case any of you are ready to throw in the towel on finding your ancestor's place of birth, I wanted to share the places I found birthplace information (unexpectedly, in a couple of cases): 
  • My fourth-great-grandfather Edward Thoss was a founding member of the Covington (Ky.) German Pioneer Society, which I was surprised to discover on the Kenton County Public Library website through a Google search. The overview there gives his birthplace as Langenweisendorf, Schleiz. The library has a 25th anniversary book, published in 1902, which lists "Langenweizendorf Fürstentum Schleiz." I believe this should be Langenwetzendorf.
  • My third-great-grandfather Joseph Ladenkotter immigrated in 1836 from Rheine, in the district of Steinfurt. I discovered this from the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s (it's in print at many libraries, or search it on, which in turn led me to a list of emigrants called Auswanderungen aus dem Kreis Steinfurt (Emigration From the County Steinfurt) by Freidrich Ernst Hunsche. I searched WorldCat and found this publication at the Allen County Public Library, so I ordered copies through the Genealogy Center 's Quick Search service.
  • The obituary of my third-great-grandmother (Joseph's wife) Anna Maria Weyer, printed in the German-language Cincinnati Volksfreund newspaper, gave her birthplace in Schapen. (The alphabet chart in our German Genealogy Cheat Sheet helped me read it.)
  • My great-great-grandfather H.A. Seeger was born in Steinfeld, as noted in his 1907 passport application, which I found on I had no idea he ever traveled overseas, so this was a thrilling find.
For a couple of other families, I've had luck by finding people I'm related to and contacting them about their research. Here's a map of birthplaces I've found so far. That cluster in northwest Germany is my Cincinnati ancestors; Edward Thoss is the one in the bottom right corner.

Besides the German Genealogy Crash Course webinar, we also have a couple of seats left in Family Tree University's German Genealogy 101 online course. It's starting this week, though, so you should register ASAP.

Family Tree University | German roots | Webinars
Wednesday, January 08, 2014 2:04:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, January 03, 2014
Your First Genealogy News Corral of 2014
Posted by Diane

This is a catch-up genealogy news corral—aside from a day spent at the Kenton County (Ky.) Public Library and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, I didn't do much genealogy over Christmas and New Year's. Here's a summary of what's been happening in the genealogy-sphere:
  • Family Tree DNA announced it has fully integrated X-chromosome matching into Family Finder, its autosomal DNA test. On their matches page, Family Finder test-takers can use a filter to display only X-chromosome matches, or X-Matches. You'll find a good explanation of this feature, and a link to more information on X-chromosome inheritance patterns, on the DNAeXplained blog.
  • The National Genealogical Society has issued a call for papers for its 2015 family history conference in St. Charles, Mo. (just down the road from of my college stomping grounds in St. Louis).  If you're interested in lecturing at the conference, check out the guidelines on the NGS website and mark the April 2 submission deadline on your calendar.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Friday, January 03, 2014 3:03:34 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 02, 2014
Genealogy Research Identifies Faces in Historic Murals
Posted by Diane

Genealogy detective work and crowdsourcing, led by our local Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, solved a hometown history mystery: the identity of factory workers in 16 huge mosaic murals in Cincinnati's Union Terminal train station, now the home of local history museums and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives. (Fourteen of the murals were moved to the airport when the train station concourse was demolished, and nine of those will be moved again, when the airport terminal they're in is demolished.)

The murals, created by Winold Reiss in 1933, depict industrial scenes of unnamed workers in unnamed factories. The main part of the article tells how the newspaper, with help from local history buffs and readers, identified the workers using the artist's reference photos, Union Terminal financial records, genealogical records, interviews, and nearly 3,000 emailed suggestions.

Of course I turned to the worker profiles right away in hopes of finding a relative. I didn't, but it was fascinating to read about each man and the work he did, and to compare his image in the mural to the reference photo. You can read their stories and see the murals and photos here.

Thursday, January 02, 2014 11:58:14 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
How to Start the Day Right: Coffee and Genealogy
Posted by Diane

The promise of hot coffee was about the only thing that made me drag myself out of bed before dawn this morning, with three inches of snow on the ground and more falling as I got ready for my first day back at work after the holidays.

But I've been looking forward to showing you what my thoughtful husband gave me for Christmas:

That's the 1860 census with the household of my third-great-grandparents Edward and Elizabeth (Butler) Norris on the coffee mug, and several photos and records from research on my Haddad side on the mousepad.

To make them, Greg sneaked into my digital files and uploaded several images to a photo-gift website. He even used the file name of the census record to make sure the right family was displayed. 

I hope you're starting the year with genealogy inspiration around you. Happy New Year!

Genealogy fun
Thursday, January 02, 2014 10:36:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, January 01, 2014
10 Genealogy Resolutions for 2014
Posted by Diane

In January, we at Family Tree Magazine typically note an uptick in family history interest, perhaps a result of holiday nostalgia and family get-togethers.

If you're feeling inspired to preserve family memories or kick your genealogy research into a higher gear, we suggest making (and keeping) a few of the following resolutions in 2014.

You could resolve to:
  1. Scan old family photos and other mementos, and share them with relatives. Be specific—resolve to scan one item every Saturday, for example. How to Archive Family Keepsakes has instructions for digitizing and organizing old photos and other family treasures.

  2. Set up a genealogy research log and to-do list database using a cloud service such as Evernote or Google Drive, and faithfully maintain it to streamline your genealogy workflow.

  3. Organize your records—on your computer and in your file drawer—in a way that makes sense for the way you research. Schedule 30 minutes once a week or once a month to file accumulated papers. (For serious assistance, consider our Organize Your Genealogy Independent Study Course Download.)

  4. Finally call great-aunt Betty and ask to talk about your family history.

  5. Pick a family and, for each place they lived, run a place search of the Family History Library online catalog. Records that are digitized on the free will be linked. Otherwise, order promising film online for viewing at a nearby FamilySearch Center. 

  6. Commit an hour or so a week to volunteering for a records indexing project. Try FamilySearch Indexing or’s World Archives Project, or see if your local library or historical society could use your indexing assistance.

  7. Join a genealogical society for your hometown or for a place where your ancestor lived.

  8. Reach out to other genealogy researchers online through genealogy message boards, blogging, posting an online tree, or using a social networking site such as Facebook or Google+. If you find someone with common research interests, propose a research collaboration.

  9. Start a family history tradition: Institute an old family recipe night, for example, celebrate an ancestor's birthday, or make an annual day trip to the family hometown.

  10. Start writing your family history. Take it one ancestor at a time. Our intensive eight-week Write Your Family History online course will get you well on your way, or start smaller with the prompts in our digital download.

It would be a lot to keep all of these resolutions, so think about what you really want to accomplish this year.

Once you make your resolutions, you'll find the how-to help you need to follow through in Family Tree Magazine and at, and you can post genealogy questions to our Facebook page or email them to me.

Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, January 01, 2014 9:50:11 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, December 25, 2013
African-American Genealogy and Slave Ancestry Research Group Blogfest!
Posted by Diane

Look for more African-American genealogy blogs to come online in the next couple of weeks: Our Georgia Roots blogger Luckie Daniels, who started the 200-member African-American Genealogy and Slave Ancestry (AAGSAR) Research Group (a closed group hosted on Facebook) in August, is planning the AAGSAR Blogfest for Jan. 5.

Daniels' goal is to bring all the AAGSAR community members online with a blog or family website, creating a fantastic source of information and inspiration for African-American family history researchers. "We very well could see the likes of 75-plus new genealogy blogs online before 11:59p.m. Jan. 5," Daniels says.

See a list of AAGSAR genealogy blogs here, and look for it to grow on Jan. 5.

African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 8:53:05 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [17]
# Monday, December 23, 2013
6 Simple Ways (3 Are Free) to Use
Posted by Diane

Genealogy website encompasses some 31,000 databases with more than 9 billion historical records. Where’s an overwhelmed genealogist to start? Here are six suggestions (half of them free) for family tree tasks you can do on the site.

For search demos and tips that'll help you get the most out of your subscription (or figure out whether to subscribe), consider our Jan. 23 webinar 10 Simple Strategies for Using

1. Explore what’s available for free. The site also offers a surprising number of free data collections. To find them, go to the Card Catalog, type free in the keyword blank and click Search. And remember that many libraries and FamilySearch Centers offer free access to almost all the site's databases through Ancestry Library Edition.

2. Create or upload your family tree. It's free to put your own family tree files on, a way to share information and organize your research. A subscription will allow you to view the site's suggested matches in records, as well as see other members’ trees that overlap with yours.

3. Follow hints. Once you’ve created a tree, the site will automatically search for record matches. A leaf icon in the corner of an ancestor’s box indicates there's a “hint” for that person. Click the leaf to see the hint (you'll need a subscription to see most hints). If you determine the suggested match really is your relative, you can attach the record to your tree.

4. Scour message boards. The site's vast array of message boards (identical to those on RootsWeb) is free to access. Check boards for all the surnames you’re researching, as well as places where your family has lived.

5. Search. You’ll get the best results by clicking Show Advanced in the upper right portion of the home page and using the advanced search options. Sometimes you get better results by searching a category of records (such as immigration or census records) or a single database. To search a category, select it from the drop-down list under Search. Use the card catalog to find individual databases.

6. Search other trees. See who else is researching your ancestors (and what they're saying about them) by searching the site's Member Trees. As with any online tree site, remember that the information isn't independently verified and may contain errors. Examine any attached records and sources cited, contact the submitter for more details, and do your own research to verify the names, dates and relationships.

The 10 Simple Strategoes for Using webinar takes place Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT and 4 p.m. PT). It includes a handout of the presentation slides, plus access to view the webinar again as often as you want!

Register now for the early bird discount at | Webinars
Monday, December 23, 2013 8:48:43 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, December 19, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Dec. 16-19
Posted by Diane

This genealogy update is coming to you a day early because I'm looking forward to a little time off to spend with the family over the holidays (and I'm hoping to squeeze in a library visit for some genealogy research):
  • The Lincoln Library, the public library of Springfield, Ill., signed a deal with NewsBank to offer patrons a digital archive of the Illinois State Journal and Illinois State Register from 1831 through 1950. You can access the archive at the Lincoln Library, or online with a library card.
  • The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has issued Genealogy Standards, a 100-page manual for best practices in genealogy research. This revision updates and reorganizes the original 2000 edition of The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. The 83 standards cover the process of researching family history and the finished products of the research—documenting sources, reasoning, writing and more. You can order it here
  • RootsTech has released a mobile app for its 2014 conference (Feb. 6-8 in Salt Lake City). It lets you create a class schedule, get speaker and exhibitor information, connect with other attendees and tweet about the conference. It's available from the Apple App Store and Google Play, and there's a web app, too. Learn more here.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:24:30 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, December 16, 2013
Last-Minute Genealogy Gifts—and No Shipping Worries!
Posted by Diane

Don't worry, you're not the only one who's freaking out because Christmas is next week and your list isn't even checked once, let alone twice. has many digital gifts you can order for your favorite family historian (it's OK if that's yourself!) even on Christmas morning, and give that day. For example:
  • a seat in our German Genealogy Crash Course webinar, taking place Thurs. Jan 16 at 7 p.m. (all registrants receive access to view the webinar as often as desired, so you're covered even if the recipient already has plans Jan. 16)
  • a Family History Starter Kit, which has downloadable and printed components, so your recipient will have part of the gift on Christmas and can look forward to receiving the rest by mail (this kit is on sale!)
  • a gift card—choose from $15, $25, $50 or $100
Want a book or CD? Up through Dec. 18, you can select two-day shipping when you order from, and you'll get it in time for Christmas. 

Browse all our downloadable genealogy guides, as well as books and CDs, at Sales
Monday, December 16, 2013 1:05:39 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Decorating My "Family Tree" With Christmas Ornaments Made by Grandma
Posted by Diane

My family's Christmas tree is finally up and decorated. Well, at least the top half of it is (to help protect it from little hands).

My favorite ornaments are the ones my grandma made. She'd create one for each grandkid (there are 15 of us now) every year. Here's my collection:

Looking at them is like viewing the evolution of craft. Sewing, painting, beading, needlepoint, cross-stitch, plastic canvas—Grandma could do it all.

Some of the ornaments have the year stitched in or painted on the back. And can you tell I had a thing for teddy bears as a kid?

The angel ones remind me how Grandma would call us "Angel," and now that's what she calls my children when we visit.

Each one is a treasure to me. I'd love to hear about your favorite ornaments, too. Merry Christmas!

Family Heirlooms
Monday, December 16, 2013 10:58:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]