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<2014 June>

More Links

# Thursday, 05 June 2014 to Retire Five Genealogy Services
Posted by Diane today announced that it will "retire" five of its services as of Sept. 5, 2014:
  •, the family website service
  • MyCanvas, the photo book publishing service
  • (though the site will remain online with some content)
  •, the worldwide family tree site
  • Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing's executive vice president of product, Eric Shoup, said yesterday in a conference call with genealogy media that ending these services will allow to focus on its core products and mission.

Subscribers and active users of each service will receive an email with details on any refunds (if applicable) and how to retrieve their content, and each site will have retirement landing pages and FAQs for customers. Here's an overview of what will happen:
  • customers can export their group data using an Export Now button that appears on the site when you're logged in. Prorated refunds will be automatically issued to owners of active sites.
  • MyCanvas customers can complete projects through Sept. 4. After then, printing orders won't be accepted and saved projects will be deleted. Kinda makes me sad, because I created my wedding photo book here. You should be able to print a project for free at home by going to My Projects, clicking Preview for a project, then clicking the Print button (if you have trouble, try selecting pages to print a couple at a time).
  • subscriptions and member accounts will end, but the site will remain online (it would be silly to give up a domain name like with the message boards and Family Tree Maker home pages in read-only format, as well as the most popular educational articles.
  • Mundia family trees also are on, where you can search them for free (you must subscribe in order to contact tree owners, which is the case with all of's member trees). Mundia tree owners can download their family trees in their native language  before Sept. 5.
  • Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are no longer being sold on (but the company will continue to sell its AncestryDNA autosomal tests, and autosomal DNA customers aren't affected). Customers who've taken Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA tests can download their raw data by visiting the AncestryDNA website. Y-DNA and mtDNA customers' samples will be destroyed (it might become possible to upgrade samples to autosomal testing, such as for someone who is now deceased—stay tuned).

Click here to read's blog post on the discontinuation of these services
Thursday, 05 June 2014 12:06:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
Using Search Wildcards on Genealogy Websites
Posted by Diane

Searching for ancestors online is about more than just typing a name into a database or search engine, as you probably learned after the first few dozen times your search for a problem ancestor came up empty.

For example, my third-great-grandmother Elizabeth (Teipel) Thoss mysteriously vanishes sometime between her youngest child's birth in 1894 and the 1900 census, when her husband is a widow. She's not where she should be in death records, and searches on genealogy sites net few results. When I search collections indexed with optical character recognition software, I get hundreds of hits on the word "those."

There are a bunch of variants for Elizabeth's maiden and married names, too. Wildcards, which you'll learn about in our upcoming Secrets of Successful Web Searches webinar, can be helpful when you can't find an ancestor because the name in the record (whether the original or a searchable index) isn't spelled as you expect.

 secrets of successful web searches

Usually, a * wildcard stands in for zero or more characters in a name, and a ? stands for one character, but genealogy websites handle them differently:

You even can use * as a wildcard with some search engines: Put it at the end of a truncated word to find related words (such as Thos* to find Thoss, Thossen or Those). But on Google,  * stands in for a whole word.

In addition to wildcard searching, our Secrets of Successful Web Searches webinar will show you
  • Search secrets that work across popular genealogy websites, as well as with Google
  • How to use and Google to unlock family history information on
  • How browsing can help you find ancestors that searches overlook
  • How to get results by searching without a name
The Secrets of Successful Web Searches webinar is next Thursday, June 12, at 7 pm Eastern (6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain, 4 p.m. Pacific). You can learn more about it in | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, 05 June 2014 10:43:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 04 June 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Premiere Announced + More Genealogy TV News
Posted by Diane

Cable television network TLC has announced the premiere date and the stars of the 2014 season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" (US version).

The new season will start Wednesday, July 23, at 9/8 central on TLC. (If you don't have cable or can't watch that evening, the episodes usually become available on the show's website after they air.)

Six new episodes will air, featuring the family histories of:
  • Valerie Bertinelli, an actor whose work includes the 70s/80s series "One Day at a Time" and the current "Hot in Cleveland"
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson, an actor on "Modern Family"
  • Lauren Graham, actor on "Gilmore Girls" (one of my most-favorite-ever TV shows)
  • Kelsey Grammer, actor on "Cheers" and "Frasier"
  • Cynthia Nixon, actor on the "Sex and the City" TV series and movies
  • Rachel McAdams, Canadian actor in movies such as "The Notebook" and "About Time," and her sister, celebrity makeup artist Kayleen McAdams
In addition, TLC has acquired 10 of the episodes that aired on NBC during previous seasons. Those feature Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Rob Lowe, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Vanessa Williams and Rita Wilson.

You can read about the new "Who Do You Think You Are?" season on The Wrap.

In other genealogy television news:
  • "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.," will premiere on PBS Sept. 23. Guests will include actor Sally Field, Food Network chef Aarón Sánchez, actor Ben Affleck, singer Carole King,actor and comedian Tina Fey, political commentator Alan Dershowitz, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and others.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy TV
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 14:20:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Tips for Researching Norwegian Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Did you know Norway is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its constitution this year? In 1814, Norway's constitution was signed as part of the transfer of the country from a union with Denmark to a new union with Sweden. That set the stage for Norwegian independence in 1905.

David Rumsey Map Collection

You can see photos of the bicentennial celebration outside Norway's Parliament here.

In the United States, those claiming heritage from Norway are the 10th largest ancestry group, according to census data. FamilySearch posted recently about Norwegian roots and its Community Trees Project containing lineage-linked data from Norwegian bygdebøker (parish books) and other sources. You can search all the community trees here, or browse individual Norwegian parishes by scrolling down to Norway on this page.

If you're researching ancestry in Norway—or nearby in Sweden or Denmark—you'll find our Scandinavian Genealogy Guide helpful.

You can get in-depth genealogy research guidance in our Scandinavian Genealogy 101 Family Tree University online course. It starts Monday, June 16, and includes four lessons (take them at your own pace) along with guidance from instructor Diana Crisman Smith via the course message board.  You'll learn about Scandinavian patronymic, military, farm and geographic names; geography; resources such as websites, bygdebøker and censuses; language tips; and more.  View a Scandinavian Genealogy 101 course syllabus and register here.

FamilySearch | International Genealogy
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 09:28:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 30 May 2014
Genealogy News Corral: May 26-30
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch's recently updated collections come from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, and the United States. They include Quebec notarial records, Freedmen's Bureau records, and New York passenger arrival records from 1909 and 1925 to 1957 (that's after the time period you can search at, and it includes air passengers). Go here to read more about the updates and click through to search or browse each one.

  • Record additions at subscription website include Irish marriage and death notices from American newspapers, 4 million British army service records dating from 1914 to 1920, 19th-century marriage and death notices from New York City newspapers, and more. It's part of the site's 100 in 100 campaign to release 100 new record sets in 100 days.
  • The ScotlandsPeople website has added the wills of 31,000 soldiers from 1857 to 1964. They include records of 26,000 soldiers who died in World War I and 5,000 who died in World War II. A few hundred come from earlier wars. You can read more about this digitization project and sample records here (click Image Gallery). Register for free with the site to search the wills and view basic information; it costs 10 credits (about $2.90) to view a document.

FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy books | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 30 May 2014 12:00:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Your Comments Needed on New Standards for Genetic Genealogy Research
Posted by Diane

A committee of genetic genealogists and scientists have drafted ethical and usage standards for genetic genealogy research, and they're asking for your feedback by June 15, 2014.

You can download the Genetic Genealogy Standards and Ethics document as a PDF or view it online here, and click the Comment link on the left side of the page to contribute your comments.

The three-page draft has 21 guidelines intended for use when purchasing, recommending, sharing results of, and writing about the results of DNA testing for genealogy. They address topics such as:

  • privacy of test-takers (especially when the person who takes the DNA test is someone other than the person who purchases the test and/or uses the results)
  • DNA sample storage
  • raw DNA data (this refers to the data on the alleles at each single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP, that the DNA test analyzed)
  • unexpected test results
  • health information
  • understanding the types of available DNA tests and their limitations
  • interpreting results
  • combining DNA testing with other genealogical evidence
  • citing genetic genealogy sources (it looks like this standard is under development)
Click here to read more about the document's purpose and see names of members of the Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee

If you could use help understanding how to use DNA testing in your genealogy research, look into Family Tree Magazine's on-demand webinar, Using DNA to Solve Family Mysteries.  

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:58:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 23 May 2014
Genealogy News Corral: May 19-23
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has updated the Civil War record collections at the free and created a landing page with links to them, as well as to wiki articles about researching Civil War records. Civil War collections include service records, Army Register of Enlistments, Confederate pension applications, soldiers' home registers and more.
It's important to note that for some collections, such as Civil War service records, you can search an index on, but the index links to the record image hosted on, where you'll need a subscription to view it.

Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 23 May 2014 11:53:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 22 May 2014 Offers Free Military Genealogy Records Through Memorial Day
Posted by Diane has joined the sites offering free military records to help you research your family's service members this Memorial Day.

Select military collections are free through Memorial Day (Monday, May 26), totaling more than 145 million records. Free collections include this sampling:
  • Sons of the American Revolution membership applications (1889–1970)
  • the new collection of Alien Draft Registrations for selected US states (1940–1946)
  • also new, New York National Guard enlistment cards (1923-1947), as well as other New York military collections
  • WWI and WWII draft registration cards, a great source for learning about male ancestors even if they didn't serve.
Here's the WWI draft card for my husband's great-uncle. So far, he's the earliest Leo we've documented in the family. Leo also was my father-in-law's middle name, and it's the name we chose for our son. 

It gives his date of birth, address, employer (looks like a family masonry company I need to research), his mother's address (this card says just "mother;" on most, you'll also get the nearest relative's name), and more.

Click here to search's free military records. You'll need to sign up for a free account (or log into your account if you already have one) to view records. | Free Databases | Military records
Thursday, 22 May 2014 10:27:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 21 May 2014
FamilySearch Centers Add Free Scanning for Your Old Photos and Documents
Posted by Diane

If you have bunches of old photos and records you've been meaning to scan, here's a new option for getting 'er done: FamilySearch has added a free photo and document scanning and preservation service in more than 2,800 of its FamilySearch Centers in North America. (The service is in the works for international centers.)

The scanning equipment, called "multifunction products" (MPFs) is available through a partnership with Lexmark. The MPFs have software that scans your family history materials directly to your account on There, you can tag and share the images, and attach them to people in your FamilySearch family tree.

You also can opt to save your images to a flash drive to take home with you.

To use the service, just bring your photos and documents to your local FamilySearch Center (I would call first to double-check the center's hours and make sure the equipment will be available there for your use).

Use the FamilySearch Center Locator to find the closest location to you.

You can see what the scanners look like in the FamilySearch announcement. From what I can tell, they're flatbed-style scanners, in which you set the photo or document face-down on glass and lower the lid on top. That makes the service best for paper prints. It's usually safer to digitally preserve fragile items, old albums and cased images (such as daguerreotypes) by photographing them. (Here are tips for using your camera to "scan" photos and records.)

FamilySearch | Photos | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 14:40:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Free Military Genealogy Records on MyHeritage This Memorial Day Weekend 2014
Posted by Diane

Genealogy website MyHeritage is offering free access to US military old records over Memorial Day weekend. You can search and view the collection free from May 23 through May 26, 2014.

To see a list of the military collections on MyHeritage, go to this page and look under the headings for Draft, Enlistment & Service; Pension Records and Military Documents. Click on the "More" links for each category. Some of the collections are:
  • Korean War casualties list
  • WWII Army enlistment database
  • WWII draft registration cards from various states
  • index to service records of Civil War Confederate Soldiers
  • War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederation Armies (the "OR")
  • index to Revolutionary War pension records
  • Official US Army Register for various years
  • Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps and Reserve Officers on Active Duty for various dates
Click here to search MyHeritage military genealogy records (remember, the free period is May 23-May 28).

Get in-depth search help for genealogy records in our Web Guide digital download, available now in

Also, here's our post from last year about the origins of Memorial Day and the nationwide minute of silence and remembrance at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day.

Free Databases | Military records | MyHeritage
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 10:58:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]