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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
How to Connect With Genealogists on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube
Posted by Diane
I'm old enough to remember Web 1.0, when you could view online content, and that was about it.
Wow, have things changed.
Now, we learn about genealogy not only from those with the
wherewithal to create and maintain a website, but also from each other, through
social media. Friending and following your fellow genealogists can
lead you to new genealogy resources, strategies, stories and
Plus, it feels good to participate in a community of people as
passionate about something as you are.
Yesterday we announced our roundup of 40 genealogy Social Media Mavericks to follow on blogs, Facebook, Twitter,
Pinterest and YouTube. You can see the roundup in the March/April
2014 Family Tree Magazine article by Lisa Louise Cooke of
Genealogy Gems, and on
These mavericks are great "curators" of online
genealogy information. They share news and research advice, provide
inspiration, ask thought-provoking questions, and offer insight
into historical records and photos. I'm glad they're around to help
us manage the intimidating amount of online family history
Of course, there are a lot of other influential social media
channels. If you're new to social media, or you're just beginning to
add it to your genealogy bag of tricks, Lisa suggests using these
Social Media Mavericks as a starting point. Then branch out to
individuals and groups that meet your research needs.
For example, on Facebook,
I've joined groups and liked pages related to places my ancestors
lived and the orphanage where my grandfather grew up.
Here are ways to connect with researchers on Facebook, Pinterest,
blogs, YouTube and Twitter:
- Once you sign up for Facebook,
in the "Search for people, places and things" box at the top,
type a term such as German genealogy. Don't hit Enter.
You can choose from the options that automatically appear, or
click See more results at the bottom of the list to see more
groups (open or closed, meaning you must request to join),
pages, people, events and apps related to your search terms.
- On Pinterest, try entering
genealogy into the search box at the top left. You'll see
pins related to your search. Click the Boards tab to see other
Pinners' boards with genealogy in the title, or click Pinners to
see pinners with genealogy in their name. If you've registered
for Pinterest, you can repin a pin or follow a board or pinner.
Otherwise, click on a pin to link to the source blog or website
(although not all pins link to more information). (Here's
our guide to using Pinterest for genealogy.)
- To find blogs about ethnicities or places of
interest to you, use the GeneaBloggers search
or run a web search on a topic and genealogy blog.
- YouTube lets you search for
videos using the search box at the top of the page. Once you
find a video you like, you can click the red Subscribe button
(if you're a YouTube member) to make it easy to find that
- On Twitter, you can use the
search box at the top to find Twitterers to follow (similar to
Facebook). Use a hashtag (#) to search for posts tagged with a
particular topic. For example, search for #rootstech to find
posts about the RootsTech genealogy conference.
- Finally, ask your genealogy friends (on Facebook and in real life) who they follow and friend. If your friends find it helpful, there's a good chance you will, too.
Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips | Social Networking
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 3:24:13 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
11 Things I'm Looking Forward to in the Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference
Posted by Diane
2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference starts this Friday, Feb. 28,
and goes through Sunday. Now's the time to register if you haven't
In no particular order, here are 11 things I'm looking
forward to about this weekend:
- Watching 16 genealogy video classes on the laptop when it's convenient,
which for me means during naptime (my kids', not mine) or after
bedtime. Or downloading classes to watch later.
They cover ethnic research, records (including land, tax and
occupational records), strategies, online genealogy and more.
- Sneaking downstairs to go to live
chats with genealogy experts. Six are scheduled on topics
from translation tools to forensic genealogy, and I'll be able
to download transcripts for any I miss.
- The Find Your German Town of Origin class with James
M. Beidler: I've found
hometowns for some of my German ancestors, but a bunch
more still have "Germany" or "Prussia" as a birthplace. I'm
hoping to learn new strategies from the author of The
Family Tree German Genealogy Guide.
- The conference Message Boards, where people share
surnames, ancestor stories, research questions, favorite
websites and resources, family recipes and embarassing library
- The Female Ancestors and the Law chat with Judy G.
Russell of the
Legal Genealogist blog: Half of me wants to learn about
the legal hooey my female ancestors put up with, and the other
half doesn't want to know. But I'll go with the first
half, because those laws determined what kinds of records were
created about women.
- Rick Crume's No Index? No Problem: Tricks for Browsing
FamilySearch.org Records class: I'm eager to get my paws
on the records FamilySearch puts online even before you can
search them by name. Browsing these unindexed records is
time-consuming (I'm looking at you, Ohio,
Hamilton County Records, 1791-1994), so I need these tricks.
- The Mobile Genealogy Apps and Hacks chat with Kerry
Scott: Kerry is a riot (check out her Clue Wagon blog), so this
will be informative and fun.
- The Pain-Free Family History Writing Projects
class with Family Tree Magazine contributing editor
Sunny Jane Morton: Gathering my family history research into a
book is a long-term goal, and I'd love to learn about
small steps that can get me on the path.
- The Brick Wall Busters: Solve Your Stumpers chat with
Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Lisa A. Alzo:
It's a chance to ask questions and get input from Lisa and others in the group. There are always pretty smart cookies at the Virtual Conference, and someone might have dealt with a similar problem to yours.
- Not packing a bag, getting on a plane, having sore feet at the
end of the day, or missing my family.
- Doing all of the above wearing my sweats.
the link to the Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference program—just
click the blue Register button on that page to sign up.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | German roots | Social History
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:47:37 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
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)
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)