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Thursday, February 20, 2014
Who Do You Think You Are? Live Genealogy Event Starts Today in London
Posted by Diane
The eyes of the genealogy world turn this week from Salt Lake City,
which recently hosted FamilySearch's RootsTech
conference, to London, where the Who Do You Think You
Are? Live event is going on today through Saturday.
This vibrant event, an outgrowth of the popular British "Who Do
You Think You Are?" television series, is expected to attract
10,000 to 15,000 visitors.
In addition to familiar genealogy
companies such as Ancestry.co.uk,
Family Tree DNA, findmypast and MyHeritage, organizations
with "stands" in the exhibit hall include other genealogy
websites, libraries, museums, family history societies, publishers,
heritage travel planners, archival suppliers and others.
Educational opportunities include Society of Genealogists workshops
and a special section in the exhibit hall; workshops on
Ancestry.co.uk, DNA research, MyHeritage, and how to do genealogy;
consultations with heirloom and photo experts; and a "Military
Checkpoint" in the exhibit hall for help with military research. World War I should be a hot topic in the military arena, due to its
upcoming centennial. The Great War began July 28, 1914 (the
United States joined April 6, 1917).
the Celebrity Theater, visitors also have the opportunity to meet
guests from the "Who Do You Think You Are?" BBC show.
We'll keep an eye on developments from the show and pass them on.
Researching ancestors in England, Scotland or Wales? Get expert British genealogy help in our UK Genealogy Value Pack.
Genealogy Events | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:57:20 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
MyHeritage and BillionGraves Launch Global Gravestone Recording Initiative
Posted by Diane
Genealogy website MyHeritage
and cemetery recording site BillionGraves
are collaborating to launch a crowdsourcing initiative to preserve
information from cemeteries around the world.
BillionGraves offers an app for iOS and Android that cemetery
visitors can use to upload gravestone photos and their GPS
coordinates to the web. Volunteers can then transcribe the images on
the BillionGraves website, making them searchable.
MyHeritage is helping to make the app available in 25 languages and
support Gregorian, Julian and Hebrew dates.
Over the coming weeks, MyHeritage users will receive information
about how to download the app and participate in this initiative. You
can read more about it and see what the app looks like on the
Update: The partners have opened up the website where you can register and get started recording graves.
Researchers will be able to search the gravestone information free
on BillionGraves.com (where volunteers have already uploaded
millions of gravestone records) and on MyHeritage. Anyone with a
MyHeritage family tree will receive free Record Matches to the data.
Cemeteries | MyHeritage
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 4:32:35 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Genealogy Problem Solving: 6 Strategies That Helped Me
Posted by Diane
Our Feb. 27 webinar Genealogy
Problem Solving: Creative Ideas for Overcoming Research
Challenges got me thinking about the strategies that have
helped me solve problems in my family history research. I looked
back on some old posts and came up with these six before I
realized what time it was:
1. Tracing family and friends, aka “cluster genealogy.”
This approach helped me discover my third-great-grandmother Mary
Frost’s maiden name, which wasn’t legible in her divorce case
can read about it in this blog post.
2. Looking for alternate sources of missing information. Six
or seven years ago, my request for records of my
great-grandfather’s 1913 bootlegging trial in Texarkana,
Texas, came back with a “found nothing” note. Not long after, at the Family History Library in Salt
Lake City, I
scrolled and scrolled through microfilmed Bowie County,
Texas, court records. Like the county clerk, I came up empty.
But while attending a
genealogy conference in Little Rock, Ark., in 2009,
at the chance to use microfilmed Texarkana newspapers
(Texarkana straddles the Texas/Arkansas border). They didn't
provide the level of juicy detail I’d hoped for, but several
articles had updates on the trial.
3. Using multiple sources for the same data. Using the Ellis Island passenger search,
Stephen P. Morse’s One-Step
search form for the Ellis Island site, and passenger
records on Ancestry.com eventually led
me to my Haddad great-grandparents in passenger list records
of ships arriving in New York.
4. Formulating a theory. When I found two
mystery men in a family cemetery plot, I looked at what I knew
about them and then came up with a theory about their identities.
From there, I could come up with steps to see if my theory was
you can read about here.
5. Researching a potential relative forward in time. I do this often when I'm
not sure whether a record I find is really my ancestor. For
example, I've found online trees with my great-great-grandmother
in a different family. I understand how it happened: She was born
just after the 1880 census and her
1890 census listing is, of course, toast. A similarly named
person lived in Indiana in the 1900 census.
What if I was the one with the wrong lady? I
researched the other person forward, and she ended up in northern
Indiana—so she couldn’t be my great-great-grandmother in
Covington, Ky. (I later found my ancestor in 1900, listed under a
nickname as a servant for an unrelated family.)
6. Keeping on keepin’ on. Continuing to research an
ancestor—not necessarily focusing just on my problem or
question—has probably been the most helpful strategy. It
also requires the most time and patience.
As an example: It was after I found my great-grandfather Mike
Haddad’s passenger list that I requested
his alien registration record (AR-2), which gave his first
name as Fablo. Later, I found a son's marriage record, which
gave his father's name as Fadlow. A few years ago, I ordered
of the baptismal register listing my grandfather. The register named his father as “Daddlod.”
Had I found these records before beginning my ship's list
search years ago, I would’ve looked harder at the passenger named
Fadlo Hadad—who turned out to be my ancestor.
But as it was, not realizing my great-grandfather Mike had
used that name, it took me several more years to identify him
in passenger lists.
What genealogy research strategies have you used to solve
questions? In our Genealogy
Problem Solving webinar, taking place Feb. 27 at 7p.m. ET, Gena
Philibert Ortega will share creative techniques she and
other professional genealogists use to overcome difficult
problems. Anyone who registers will receive access to download the
webinar for future viewing, as well as a PDF of the presentation slides.
Click here for more details on Genealogy
Problem Solving: Creative Ideas for Overcoming Research
Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 2:37:59 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, February 17, 2014
Now Available: Free Family Tree Magazine Podcast February Episode
Posted by Diane
The February 2014 Family Tree Magazine's podcast, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke and sponsored by Blackblaze online backup service, is now available for your listening pleasure!
The topics include
You can listen to the Family Tree Magazine Podcast for free in iTunes or at FamilyTreeMagazine.com. Enjoy!
- six simple ways (including three free ones) to use Ancestry.com
- Lisa's favorite free family history tools
- a peek at Family Tree University's upcoming Virtual Genealogy Conference
- what to look for in the March/April 2014 Family Tree Magazine, a special online genealogy issue
Ancestry.com | Family Tree Magazine articles | Family Tree University | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Software | Podcasts
Monday, February 17, 2014 12:48:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, February 14, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 10-14
Posted by Diane
Happy Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend!
We don't often think about slavery in northern US states, but a new
website called Mapping
Slavery in Detroit documents a University of Michigan project
to explore the history of slavery in Detroit. A chart shows stats on slaves and free African-Americans from censuses in 1773,
1779, 1782 and 1810, and an interactive map shows slavery-related
A Facebook post led me to a website about an Underground
Railroad route along a road I often travel here in Cincinnati. Hamilton Avenue Road
to Freedom has background information, a map, photos and more.
African-American roots | Celebrating your heritage | Social History | Social Networking
Friday, February 14, 2014 12:36:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, February 13, 2014
8 "Next Steps" For Starting Your Genealogy
Posted by Diane
This week, I had the pleasure of Skyping with a class of sixth
graders working on a genealogy project. Here's a photo their teacher Tweeted:
They'd already interviewed family members and done some research
into census records, so after talking a little bit about how I got
interested in genealogy and answering their questions, I suggested
some "next steps" they could take.
We had to stop before I could really unleash my inner genealogy geek
(lucky for my captive young audience!). I'll add to the list here for you
with tips from our Family
History Starter Kit.
I think these tips work for all ages, whether
you're starting from scratch or you've done a little genealogy and you want to
make sure you covered these steps:
- Look around your house (or your parents' or another relative's
house, with permission) for "home sources": old photos, letters,
yearbooks, military discharge papers, etc.
- Try to find a relative in World War I draft registration
records. This draft captured about 23 percent of the US
population in 1917 and 1918; all men living in the United States
between the ages of roughly 18 and 45 had to apply. That means
if you had relatives in the United States at that time, there's
a good chance you'll find someone. WWI
draft records are free on FamilySearch.org. (And with the
centennial of the start of World War I coming up, it's a good
time to learn about the experiences of ancestors of that era.)
- Find an old map of the place your family lived, and see if you
can locate their home and where they went to school or work. It
gives you a picture of the neighborhood and helps you see how
it's changed. The David
Rumsey website has a huge collection of maps you can
search by place and download for free (registration is required
for very high-resolution versions).
- Go to the library in your ancestor's hometown or visit the
website and browse the local history and genealogy collection.
All libraries are different, but you might find old city
directories (which are like telephone books, not that today's
grade schoolers remember those), newspapers, books about the
area, surname files of papers related to particular families,
indexes to local records and more.
In the general genealogy advice category, I would add:
- Search for relatives' graves in sites like Find A Grave, Interment.net and BillionGraves. Also look
for death information in the Social Security Death Index, also
free on FamilySearch.
- Run a place search of the FamilySearch
online catalog so you an see what type of records are
available for the places your family lived. See what's digitized
for free at FamilySearch.org
for those places, too. Continue your place-based research by
exploring the USGenWeb Project
state and county pages for places your family lived.
- Make a family tree chart so you can see how everyone in your
family fits together. You can do this on paper on a
five-generation pedigree chart, in a genealogy software
program, or on a family tree-building website. There are many
websites where you can build a family tree (usually, for free),
Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, Geni, and Tribal Pages. Find other
options listed at
- Start a research log with your genealogy to-do list of records
you want to look up and databases you want to search. A
spreadsheet works well for this, and you can note the record,
ancestor's name, repository or website, and other pertinent
- Gather information not only on parents, grandparents,
great-grandparents, etc. (your ancestors), but also on aunts,
uncles and cousins (your collateral relatives). Collateral
relatives' records could have information about your ancestors,
and they'll help you find distant relatives who are still
- Keep track of where you found each piece of new genealogy information. Write down the type of record; title of the microfilm, book, or online collection and website where you found it; author and publisher (a person and/or an organization); date and place of publication; the page number with the information; and date you accessed the website (if applicable).
What "next steps" and general advice would you suggest for a beginning genealogist?
History Starter Kit is great for folks who want to start
researching their family history or who've done a little genealogy
and aren't sure what to do next. The collection of how-to books,
downloads and printed lessons have a friendly approach that guides
you through those first steps—they're full of tips you can start
using right away to discover your family history. Learn
more about it here.
Genealogy for kids | Research Tips | Social Networking
Thursday, February 13, 2014 9:46:08 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Free Black History Records on Fold3 & More African-American Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane
In honor of Black
History Month this month, genealogy website Fold3 is offering
free access to its Black History Collection of records through the
end of February. That includes:
You'll need to register
for a Basic Fold3 membership in order to view records. Here's the
Fold3 blog post about this offer.
- Washington, DC court slave and emancipation records
- South Carolina estate inventories and bills of sale (1732-1872)
- US Colored Troops Civil War service records
- Southern Claims Commission records (which also mention
nonAfrican-Americans who made claims against the federal
government for property lost during the Civil War)
- War Department Military Intelligence Division records on
- ... and more titles.
Looking for other resources and records for tracing African-American
ancestors? Here are several other sites we like (the last three are
more how-to focused; the ones before that are more records-focused):
Learn how to research African-American roots during and after
slavery in Family Tree University's Finding
African-Americans in Newspapers four-week online course with
instructor Tim Pinnick. It starts Feb. 24—learn
You'll find our African-American genealogy guides in ShopFamilyTree.com.
African-American roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:22:59 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, February 07, 2014
Genealogy News Corral: RootsTech 2014 Edition
Posted by Diane
FamilySearch's RootsTech conference, going on through Saturday in
Salt Lake City, kicked off its Friday with a dynamic keynote
address by the Legal Genealogist Judy Russell. She started with an
archivist's statement that oral family history can be lost in just
three generations, because it isn't purposely and accurately passed
the exact quote on Judy's blog). The recording isn't yet
available on the RootsTech website, but it will be.
Remember that you can watch live streamed presentations on the RootsTech.org home page, too. (Try switching browsers if you just see a black screen. I had to switch to Chrome from my usual Firefox.)
Yesterday, I posted news
from FamilySearch, including a new obituary indexing
initiative and free access to Ancestry.com, MyHeritage and
findmypast.com at Family History Centers (and, for members of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from home).
Here are a few more news items:
- Subscription/pay-per-view website findmypast.com is
restructuring its subscription offerings to include a one-month
option. A one-month US subscription for $9.95, which includes
all records from the USA. A one month World subscription costs
$19.95, which includes access to records from around the world.
- Subscription genealogy site MyHeritage
has added 815 million US public records of US residents to its
SuperSearch. This compilation was assembled from telephone
directories, property tax assessments, credit applications,
voter registration lists and other records available to the
public. The information spans the last five decades, making it
helpful for finding living relatives. Read
more on the MyHeritage blog.
- Mocavo has added 20,000 new
databases, bringing its database count to more than 250,000.
They're free to access if you search one database at a time (find them listed here).
To view match details when you run a search across all
databases, you must be a premium member ($7 or $9 per month).
One thing you can do is search all databases for an ancestor,
view the match "snippets" for promising-looking records, note
the databases they're in, then go to the database listings and
search the ones you need.
If you want to see what it's like to be at RootsTech, Randy
Seaver at Genea-Musings is posting detailed daily reports
(including links to posts by other bloggers who are at the
conference), as is Miriam
Robbins at AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors.
- In a low-fanfare breakfast with a small group of bloggers and
media, representatives from subscription site Ancestry.com said that records
of Mexico and Germany are an area of content focus, among other
plans. I'll once again send you the extremely thorough Ancestry
Insider for additional details.
- RootsMagic, maker of RootsMagic software, just launched a
RootsMagic app for Android devices. You can access your
RootsMagic files, explore your tree, view all your RootsMagic
data and more. Read about
the RootsMagic app here, and download it here.
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Friday, February 07, 2014 4:20:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, February 06, 2014
FamilySearch Launches Obituary Indexing Effort & More News From RootsTech
Posted by Diane
FamilySearch held a media dinner last night before the start of the
RootsTech conference. The
Ancestry Insider has a great report on the key points. A few I'd like to highlight:
- This fourth-annual RootsTech has about 8,000
registrants. After the conference, 622 locations around the
world will hold events featuring recorded RootsTech sessions.
- FamilySearch is launching an effort to index 100 million
newspaper obituaries this year. A pirate named Capt. Jack Starling is
apparently roaming around the conference in promotion of this
effort, so don't be surprised if you see him popping up in your
Facebook news feeds.
Salt Lake Tribune has an article here with more on FamilySearch's
- Ancestry.com, findmypast and MyHeritage, each of which has
strategic partnerships with FamilySearch, will be free to use at
FamilySearch Centers. Each website also has plans to let users
transfer information between a tree on that site and a
FamilySearch family tree.
Update: According to blogger Dick Eastman, members of the LDS church (which operates FamilySearch) will receive free in-home access to these commercial sites.
In other RootsTech news, FamilySearch announced the winners of its
annual developer challenge, which rewards the most
innovative new concepts to family history. They are Genealogy
Systems LLC's Find-A-Record,
a searchable index of record collections (so far, mostly on
from Eclipse Identity Recognition Corp.; and the Saving Memories Forever
story-saving app. Read
more about the winners here.
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Events | MyHeritage
Thursday, February 06, 2014 11:15:04 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Findmypast.com Adds PERSI Genealogical Index
Posted by Diane
Was it really more than six months ago that
subscription/pay-per-view genealogy website findmypast.com
announced it planned to add the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to
its databases—and better yet, link each entry to an image of
the original article it refers to? Time flies!
now can search PERSI on findmypast.com. If you hover over the Search Records tab and choose Newspapers & Periodicals, then select PERiodical Source Index (or just click here), you'll see:
PERSI, created by librarians at the Allen County
(Ind.) Public Library Genealogy Center, is an index to
thousands of historical, genealogical and ethnic journals and
magazines. Most cover the United States and Canada, but some cover
Britain, Ireland and Australia.
The database on findmypast.com includes 2.5 million index
entries, and it will be updated on a quarterly basis. Some
entries link to the digitized articles, including the New
York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 1871-1920,
and more will be added over time. A partnership
with the Federation of Genealogical Societies to preserve
society publications is making this effort possible.
When I've searched PERSI in teh past, I've found it difficult to determine if
the source article was about my relative or someone else, and what
type of information the article contained. How great would it be to
just click and read the full article online?
You can search PERSI on findmypast.com by last name, place and/or keyword, and matches include
the article title, periodical title and year the article was published.
You can click for more information or the digitized article, if you're a
findmypast.com subscriber or have pay-as-you-go credits.
Don't limit yourself to name searches, because genealogical society
publications often contain descriptions of unique local resources, but not necessarily indexes.
Try searching PERSI just by place and/or with a keyword, such as a
church your family attended or a place a relative worked.
For PERSI entries that don't link to source articles, you can order copies from
the Genealogy Center (click the Services tab).
the full PERSI press release on findmypast.com.
findmypast | Genealogy societies | Research Tips
Wednesday, February 05, 2014 11:51:46 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)