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<2014 February>

More Links

# Monday, 03 February 2014
Tips for Tracing Russian Roots
Posted by Diane

This morning's news had me excited about the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics this week in Sochi, Russia.

Sochi is in Western Russia, on the Black Sea. Western Russia, including areas that are now independent countries, was the source of significant immigration to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Tracing Russian roots isn't easy, but it's also less of an Olympian task than it used to be. These Russian genealogy tips are from our guide to tracing Russian roots in the January/February 2014 Family Tree Magazine (you can get just the Russian guide as a digital download from Or if you're also researching genealogy elsewhere in Europe, you might want the collection of guides in The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe.
  • “Russian roots” encompasses more than the present-day country. "Russian" is often used  for heritage in places once part of the Russian Empire or the USSR, such as Ukraine and Belarus.
  • The largest influx of Russian immigrants came during the “great migration” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. More than 2.3 million immigrants from czarist Russia entered the United States between 1871 and 1910, most from western areas of the empire (outside Russia's current borders) including nearly 750,000 Jews from the "Pale of Settlement."
  • Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians transliterated their names from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet, resulting in numerous variants. This website gives the example of the common surname Муравьёв, which has more than 15 English variants including Muravyov, Muravev, Muravjev and Mouravief. Immigrants might have further Americanized their transliterated names.

  • Here's a list of terms for administrative divisions (province, district, village, etc.) in Russia and areas once part of it. You'll find other key terms for Russian genealogy here.

International Genealogy | Jewish roots | Research Tips
Monday, 03 February 2014 10:52:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 31 January 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 27-31
Posted by Diane

  • Arphax Publishing has updated its HistoryGeo online historical maps subscription service with new map-viewing tools and new content, including The First Landowners Project (nearly 8 million original landowners) and the Antique Maps Project (more than 4,000 maps from around the United States). HistoryGeo also has a new blog, training videos, and a surname search to help people use the site. (Anyone can run a surname search to see if your family surnames occur on any of the site's maps, though you must subscribe to view details on the matches.)
  • A new website that combines family history mapping and social media, Place My Past, has made updates including easier finding historical maps for a place you're viewing, ability to embed maps onto your blog or website, and the ability to overlay data (such as historical boundaries) onto your maps. You can upload a GEDCOM and view the main map as a free member. Subscribers can upload and annotate maps, connect with other members and more. See a comparison of member and subscriber benefits here.
  • If you have a tree on MyHeritage and you find a MyHeritage record for a relative not yet in your tree, you now can add the relative to your tree directly from the record (instead of going to your tree, adding the relative, then going back to the record and extracting information into the new profile). See how to do this on the MyHeritage Blog.
  • Do you plan to attend and blog about the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2014 Family History Conference, May 7-10 in Richmond, Va.? NGS has opened its Official Blogger and Social Media Press registration. Accepted social media press will receive a press kit at registration, access to the Press table, and limited license to use the conference official social media designation and logo. Social Media Press Registration closes Feb. 21, and those accepted will be notified by March 1.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 31 January 2014 10:45:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Free: Watch 15 RootsTech Conference Sessions Live From Home
Posted by Diane

RootsTech, FamilySearch's genealogy conference happening Thursday through Saturday of next week in Salt Lake City, has announced the 15 sessions you can watch online for free.

I won't reprint the entire live-stream session schedule here because it's already on the FamilySearch website, but below are some that I especially want to watch from my desk, and why. (I'll be here at the office while my intrepid colleagues Allison Dolan and Tyler Moss represent Family Tree University in booth #927.)
  • Thursday, 10:30 -11:30 a.m. MT, Top 10 Things I Learned About My Family from My Couch by Tammy Hepps, because who doesn't want to be able to do genealogy from the sofa?
  • Friday, Feb. 7, 1-2 p.m. MT, Tweets, Links, Pins, and Posts: Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media by Lisa A. Alzo. Social media is a resource I don't use much for genealogy, but it's a great way to crowdsource questions.
  • Saturday, Feb. 8, 10:30-11:30 a.m. MT, Become an iPad Power User by Lisa Louise Cooke. Although I don't have an iPad (we're an Android family), I'd love to increase my app knowledge.
  • Saturday, Feb. 8, 1-2 p.m. MT, Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results by Josh Taylor, because sometimes the problem isn't how to search, it's how to work through all those results, decide which ones merit further evaluation, and know when to stop looking at them.
  • Saturday, 5-6 p.m. MT, Five Ways to Do Genealogy in Your Sleep by Deborah Gamble. Funny how my list starts with the couch and ends with sleep.
I'm a little disappointed the keynotes aren't on the list. I wanted to see Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman, so you all will have to tell me about her talk.

You can watch the sessions at; the video player will be right on the home page. All the session times are Mountain time, and because you're watching live, you need to translate them into your own time zone.

I'll be keeping a close eye on the RootsTech conference and reporting the news from here, so stay tuned!

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 14:32:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Free and Low-Cost Software to Retouch Damaged Family Photos
Posted by Diane

If you're looking to scan and digitally repair old, faded and torn family photos, we have a webinar coming up that'll show you how to do it.

But first, you'll need photo-editing software so you can make the repairs. Good news: You can find good software for free.

See what photo-editing software might be already on your computer. Windows Live Photo Gallery, for example, lets you do basic retouching and adjust exposure and color. 

If you want to see what else is out there, look for free photo-editing software you can download. According to Gizmodo, Adobe is giving away an older version of its Photoshop software along with the Adobe Creative Suite (CS) 2. This version is suitable for most genealogy needs with tools such as Clone, Brightness/Contrast, and color balance. You do have to sign up for an Adobe account to download it, and Macs will need OSX 10.2.8 to 10.3.8, or the "translator" program Rosetta
Update: Unfortunately, it sounds like this offer is only for previous Photoshop owners. Thanks to the commenters who created an Adobe account, made this discovery and reported back here. (One also recommended Irfanview.)
Want other options for retouching old photos? Gizmodo lists 10 free photo-editors here. One of them is Google's Picasa, which we used for our step-by-step guide to fixing faded, spotted and creased pictures and for the photo above.

A relatively low-cost photo-editing software option that gives you a lot of functionality is Photoshop Elements, a "light" version of Photoshop.

Our Photo-Editing and Retouching for Genealogists webinar, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT) will show you what apps and programs are available for photo-editing on your computer and mobile device, how to retouch photos, and more. Check it out in

Photos | Research Tips | saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 13:25:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Friday, 24 January 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • British subscription and pay-per-view genealogy site now has record images and searchable indexes to the entire 1901 census for England and Wales. The site already has the 1841, 1861 and 1871 censuses. It will add the1851, 1881 and 1891 censuses in the coming months, to cover the full range of censuses from 1841 to 1901. Search the 1901 census here and the rest of the census collection here.

  • The University of Texas at Austin is digitizing and preserving more than 800,000 documents and photographs from the Central Lunatic Asylum for Colored Insane, a mental institution for African-Americans founded in Petersburg, Va., in 1870. Next up is finding resources to put the images online. It sounds like documents with individuals' names would have limited access, with more availability for papers such as annual reports. Read more on UT's alumni magazine website.
  • The Department of Defense signed a $5 million agreement with T3Media to digitize thousands of historical photos, many discovered in obscure places on base or offices that are closed or relocated. T3Media will have a limited period during which the can charge for access to the images (those inside the Department of Defense will get free access). Read more on

African-American roots | Civil War | FamilySearch | Historic preservation | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 24 January 2014 14:16:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Why Searches Don't Cover All the Site's Records & How to Find Collections You Need
Posted by Diane

When you search the free genealogy records on, what you might not know is that your search doesn't cover all the digitized records on the site.

That's because FamilySearch starts adding collections to the site even before they're fully indexed and searchable, in the interest of letting researchers access those records right away. And in one of the 16 video classes in our Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference (Feb. 28-March 2), Rick Crume will show you tricks for finding what you need faster in these unindexed and partially indexed record sets.

How do you find those browse-only databases in the first place? Follow these steps:

1. Go to FamilySearch's Browse All Published Collections page. It looks like this, with all 1,709 collections displayed alphabetically in the middle, and filtering options on the left:

2. From the Place filters on the left, select a region, country, state or other geographic division. Subfilters may then let you drill down to a state, province or country. The collections list will change to show only titles associated with the place specified. 

3. Additional filters let you view collections from a specific time period or of a specific type (military, probate and court, etc.).

If you regularly check here for new titles (like I do), click the Last Updated column heading at the top right to see the most recently updated collections listed first.

(You also could use the Filter by Collection Name field at the top left to search for words in collection titles, but this might miss collections not titled as you'd expect.)

A camera icon next to the database title means results are linked to digitized record images. A Browse Images link in the Records column means the collection isn’t indexed at all. Some databases are partially indexed, so you still may need to browse to find a record.

Click on a collection name for a brief description of it, a link to details about the records in the collection, a link to search the records (if they're at least partially indexed), and a link to browse through the collection.

Click here to see a list of all the video presentations and online chats you get with our Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 14:07:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 21 January 2014 to Add 1 Billion International Records From FamilySearch
Posted by Diane and FamilySearch have expanded their September 2013 agreement to put 1 billion never-before-published international genealogy records online over the next five years.

The expanded agreement will put another billion records from 67 countries on These records, provided by FamilySearch, are already digitized and will be added to over the next few months. The additional collections include more than 1 billion digitized and indexed records and over 200 million images containing birth, marriage, death, census and church records from Europe, Latin America, South Africa, South America, Asia and more.

FamilySearch has a similar agreement with MyHeritage, in which searches return matches from FamilySearch record collections.

In the September agreement, is investing more than $60 million to digitize microfilmed international records from the FamilySearch vault.

You can read the full press release on GeneaPress. | FamilySearch
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 15:28:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 17 January 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Jan. 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has launched a blog called Vita Brevis ("life is short") that will share genealogy expertise and news from NEHGS editor-in-chief Scott C. Steward and other staff. It's a great chance to get an inside look at NEHGS research projects, family stories and research strategies.
  • The Southern California Genealogical Society announced its 45th annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, June 6 to 8 in Burbank, Calif. It'll be preceded on June 5 by the daylong Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2014 conference. Learn more about both events at the Jamboree website.

Friday, 17 January 2014 14:03:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 16 January 2014
Genealogists Mourn Incinerated Records in Franklin County, NC
Posted by Diane

When genealogists talk about "burned records," we usually mean a courthouse fire that happened accidentally or during a Civil War battle.

But the term has taken on a new meaning in Franklin County, NC, where thousands of historical records, long-forgotten in the courthouse basement, were systematically incinerated last month. As word gets out, genealogists and historians across the country are expressing their shock on social media (see links to bloggers' reports below).

Here's the short version of what happened:

Last May, a new county clerk discovered the records in a state of disarray in the basement, along with assorted trash, mold and water damage. The local heritage society formed a plan to inventory and preserve the records, lined up volunteers, and secured the necessary funds and space. Members had started the work when they were ordered to stop and wait for further instruction. At some point officials from the state archives and various county departments were allowed to remove an unknown number of records.

On Friday, Dec. 6, after the end of the workday and without notice to anyone, a crew in hazmat suits cleared out the basement and burned the records in the local animal shelter's incinerator.

Explanations from local officials have mentioned hazardous mold, privacy concerns, official record retention schedules, and possibly others I've missed in reading articles and blog posts. The county manager, who authorized the incineration, has promised a written explanation.

What was lost? No one was able to do a complete inventory of the records, but examples of the basement's contents include an 1890s naturalization document, 1890s chattel mortgages, post-Civil War to Prohibition-era court dockets, and a letter from a WWI soldier serving abroad asking the court to make sure his sister and his estate were looked after.

Several bloggers are following these events and the backlash in detailed posts:
She's also posting about media coverage and public response.
  • Renate at Into the Light is a member of the Franklin County Heritage Society who witnessed the records being carried out of the courthouse basement to be incinerated. Read her story and see photos.

court records | Genealogy societies | Historic preservation | Public Records
Thursday, 16 January 2014 09:48:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 15 January 2014
My Genealogy Organization Score: C
Posted by Diane

In light of our Organize Your Genealogy in a Week online workshop (happening Jan. 24-31, and see below for a chance to win a registration), I thought it would be fitting to show you my genealogy organization "system."

First, there's this:


When I started researching genealogy, I printed or photocopied all the records I found. I still get the occasional record on paper (which I scan). For these, I have binders. One for my dad's side, one for my mom's, and one for my husband's family.

I have another small file of "stuff," such as papers from a great-aunt, receipts for my mom's school books when she was little, and my grandpa's Kentucky Colonel card.

It's all jumbled together and needs organization and better storage containers.

Most records I get now are in digital form. How can I put this? I won't even show you. Some of it's on our laptop computer, some of it's on our desktop, and some of it's attached to emails waiting to be filed. Some things are in two or three places.

My plan is to get all my digital files onto one computer. I've been pretty good about updating my tree online and attaching records, so at least the information is in an organized form. (From my "In Case I Get Hit by a Bus" to-do list, I do need to share my password with a genealogy-minded someone.)

As for my research log ... well, I need to be better about pausing in my research to update my to-do list. I've been using Evernote, but I want to see whether I'll be more consistent if I use a Google Drive spreadsheet.

So I give myself a C when it comes to genealogy organization. How about you? Could you use some help keeping track of what genealogy information you have and what you need, and putting it into some kind of order that makes sense?

The aforementioned Organize Your Genealogy in a Week online workshop has on-demand webinars and video classes, written lessons, and expert advice from How To Archive Family Keepsakes author Denise May Levenick via the conference message board (also a good place for sharing tips with other participants).

We're giving away a free registration to the Organize Your Genealogy in a Week Workshop! Click here to enter your name before Jan. 21 at 11:59 ET.

The workshop is Jan. 24-31 at—check it out here.

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 13:05:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]