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# Friday, February 21, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 17-21
Posted by Diane

  • The College of Charleston has launched the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative to share exhibits that "highlight underrepresented race, class, gender, and labor histories within and connected to the Lowcountry region." Current exhibits feature photos and historical documents related to slavery and the struggle for civil rights. This map, for example, shows the plan of the Airyhall rice and cotton plantation in 1849.

  • The new family history mapping website Place My Past has made some updates, including a Gallery page of maps and datasets you can layer over your family tree. Recently added datasets include US cemeteries, churches and other genealogical points of interest from the US Geographic Names Information System. You can browse the main map on Place My Past for free; subscribers ($48 per year) can upload their family trees to be plotted onto a map, add notes, and overlay it with maps and visualizations of data from the Place My Past Gallery.

  • Findmypast's Australian genealogy subscription site, findmypast.com.au, has added more than 640,000 convict records. It's an especially handy database for Australians, as about 20 percent of them (according to findmypast) are estimated to have convict ancestry. The new records include more than 515,000 New South Wales and Tasmania: Settlers and Convicts 1787-1859 documents, and 125,000 Convict Transportation Registers. Read more about the collection on findmypast.com.au.
  • FamilySearch.org has added close to 4.2 million indexed records and images to collections from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Honduras, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. UK additions include WWI Women's Auziliary Corps Records (1917-1920), which aren't yet indexed, so you'll need to browse them. From the United States, notable additions include 1850 census slave schedules (browse only) and records form the Panama Canal Zone (1905-1937, also browse only). Click here to see a list and access each updated collection.


African-American roots | FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | International Genealogy
Friday, February 21, 2014 11:24:17 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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).

In 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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 MyHeritage blog.

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)  #  Comments [0]
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 file. You 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, I jumped 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 correct, which 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 microfilm 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 Challenges.



Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 2:37:59 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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
  • 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
You can listen to the Family Tree Magazine Podcast for free in iTunes or at FamilyTreeMagazine.com. Enjoy!



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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 sites.
  • 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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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.
  • 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), including FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, Geni, and Tribal Pages. Find other options listed at Cyndi's List.

  • 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 information.   
In the general genealogy advice category, I would add:
  • 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 living.

  • 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?

The Family 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)  #  Comments [1]
# 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:
  • 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 "Negro subversion"

  • ... and more titles. 
You'll need to register for a Basic Fold3 membership in order to view records. Here's the Fold3 blog post about this offer.

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 more here.

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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 down (see 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.
  • 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
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.


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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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.
  • 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.  
The Salt Lake Tribune has an article here with more on FamilySearch's commercial partnerships.

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 FamilySearch.org); PhotoFaceMatch 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)  #  Comments [0]