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<2014 June>

More Links

# Friday, 20 June 2014
Genealogy News Corral: June 16-20
Posted by Diane

In addition, to commemorate Juneteenth, FamilySearch has added to its collection of records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, or the Freedmen's Bureau. These document the post-Civil War era and include marriage records legalizing marriages of former slaves, labor contracts, military payment registers and more. Read more about the records in FamilySearch's announcement and link to the Freedmen's Bureau collections (which organizes by state) here.
  • The Civil War Trust is launching a fundraising campaign to save the North Anna area of the Jericho Mills battlefield in Virginia. Matching grants, donations from private foundations and other funding means the trust already has 90 percent of the purchase price needed to acquire the area. It likely will eventually be made part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Learn more about North Anna and the campaign to save it on the Civil War Trust website.

African-American roots | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy TV | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 20 June 2014 11:08:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Best Facebook Comments Re: DDoS Attack
Posted by Diane

In case you haven't heard, was down part of Monday and most of yesterday, and intermittently today, due to what the company says was a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. Find A Grave and RootsWeb also were affected.

In such an attack, multiple perpetrators use "bots" to bombard a website with traffic, so that the site can't respond to legitimate traffic. Both Evernote and Feedly were targets of DDoS attacks last week; their attackers demanded payment to stop the attacks.

On its Facebook page and in a statement, said the attack has been neutralized, but users may still experience intermittent outages or slowness while the site recovers. They should clear their cookies and cache before logging back on. Family Tree Maker users should switch the program's sync setting to manual until service is fully restored.

No members' family tree or personal data were compromised in the attack.

The site outage drew Facebook comments ranging from supportive to accusations of site mismanagement and demands for refunds or subscription extensions. There were lots of capital letters and exclamation marks.

Someone even suggested the real reason the site went down is all the dads taking advantage of the Father's Day subscription special. (Way to spoil it for the rest of us, dads!)

But I'll focus on the clever Facebook comments I saw. These appeared in response to Facebook page updates:
  • Has ancestry deleted their cookies and emptied their cache?
  • Karma. Old Search is exacting its revenge.
  • Day 2.5 of my captivity.. my captors torment me with comments about "intermittent" outages. Withdrawal symptoms are setting in ... eyes blurry from staring at screen, mouse hand shakey ... I have even tried gardening ... sorting my books alphabetically ... even cleaning shower recess ... family is getting concerned
  • Retire MyFamily, MyCanvas,, Mundia and the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, and the internet gods retire you!
  • Still can't get on the site. What am I supposed to do, actually get some sleep or something?
  • How am I supposed to discover which vastly wealthy relative I'm related to now?
And this:

And this is the winner, which West in New England blogger Bill West posted on his own Facebook page:
And lo, the servers of Ancestry were beset by the Plague of DDOS, and then were the genealogists locked out from the Realms of Ancestry. Neither could they work on their family trees, nor add photos nor memorials to Find A Grave. Then great were the lamentations of the genealogists, and many were beset with frustration, weeping and gnashing their teeth in the outer darkness as they waited for the servers of Ancestry to once more open unto them.

Meanwhile, others turned to worshiping the false idol, Television....

Subscribe to Family Tree Magazine.

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014 14:15:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
Reading Ancestors' Old Records: Problems to Watch Out For
Posted by Diane

When I look back at the letters my grandma wrote to me when I was in college, I'm in awe of her beautiful handwriting. Most of us would agree that handwriting isn't what it used to be. Thanks to computers and email, we're all out of practice.

But that doesn't mean all the old, handwritten records you've discovered through your genealogy research are a piece of cake to read. Old writing styles, unfamiliar characters and abbreviations, fading ink, and individual writers' idiosyncrasies can make the documents extremely difficult to understand. 

In our Tricks for Reading Old Handwriting webinar, taking place Thursday, June 26 at 7p.m. ET, professional genealogist D. Joshua Taylor will show you strategies for understanding those hard-to-read old records—including these letters and other characters to watch out for:
  • u, n, w and m; a, o and u; v and r: These letters that can look alike in lower-case form.
  • as, os, us: These letter combinations often appear similar in lowercase form.
  • i, t: Undotted is and uncrossed ts can resemble each other, or an e or an l. Also watch for misplaced crosses and dots (in the name below, Miller, the dot is over the e, making it look like an i).
  • I and J; M and N; S, L and T; T and F; U and V: These capital letter groupings may look alike.
  • ē: A double-letter formation may be abbreviated as a single letter below a horizontal line.  
  • do or ": These abbreviations for “ditto,” common in records formatted in rows (such as a census) mean “same as above.”     
  • Ƒ or ƒ: The s, especially in a double-s formation, may have a long flourish. This “long s” is easily confused with a p or an f. (This word is "blessing.")
  •   : This character, called a thorn, occurs in very old texts and looks like a y. It represents th, so the example here (from the 1620 Mayflower Compact), with an e over the thorn, means "the."
  • 3, 6, 8: These numerals may look alike. If the record has page numbers, copy pages one through 10 to use as reference samples. 
Got old, handwritten records you're having a hard time reading? Check out our Tricks for Reading Old Handwriting webinar in

Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:46:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 17 June 2014
British Genealogy Company Findmypast Buys
Posted by Diane

British family history company, part of DC Thomson Family History, announced today that it has bought, another genealogy site focused on British and Irish research., according to the announcement from, is the first company to set up a pay-as-you-go model for accessing online genealogy records. Its records include marriage indexes, poor law records and the National Wills Index. will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Findmypast and its founder Ian Galbraith will continue to work for the site on collection development. The site will continue to run as usual, though its records also will become part of Findmypast's offerings.

"This rich collection will help descendants of early North American settlers to bridge the gap to the old country, as well as anyone with UK ancestry looking to delve beyond 19th and 20th century records,” says Findmypast partnership director Elaine Collins.

Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 11:32:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 13 June 2014
Genealogy News Corral: June 9-13
Posted by Diane

  • Are you planning on attending the joint RootsTech/Federation of Genealogical Societies conference,  February 11-14, 2015, in Salt Lake City? Four Salt Lake City hotels are now taking reservations with reduced rates to conference attendees. I have a feeling hotels will be sold out, so book early. FamilySearch's announcement about conference hotels is here.
  • The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) will hold its fourth annual Forensic Genealogy Institute (FGI) March 26-28, 2015, in Dallas. Intensive courses are designed for those interested in researching genealogical cases with legal implications (for example, to establish inheritance in court). You'll find details about the courses on the CAFG blog, and you can learn more about FGI here. Registration will open this summer.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Land records
Friday, 13 June 2014 12:48:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 12 June 2014
"Retirement" Tips for Ancestry Y-DNA & mtDNA, MyCanvas and Customers
Posted by Diane

By now you've probably heard's announcement about the retirement of Mundia,, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, MyCanvas and

I haven't seen many expressions of sadness about (whose trees are duplicated in Ancestry Member Trees) and (whose forums, family sites and popular articles will remain online in read-only format). But users of the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, MyCanvas and have a lot to say.

If you're a member of one of these services, here are some tips and blog posts I've found to save your information and move it to another service.

AncestryDNA Y-DNA and mtDNA
  • You should receive an email with instructions for downloading your raw Y-DNA or mtDNA  data as a CSV file (which you an open in Excel).
  • Then you could upload to another photo service, though you may need to convert the files to JPG format first—this website has four ways to convert PDFs to JPG (click the "Four Methods" links at the top, not on the big green arrow). Of course, because the pages are images, you won't have the ability to edit them as you make new research discoveries.

  • If you want to save written text so you can update it and publish a photo book elsewhere, you can go into the edit mode for your project, copy what's inside each text box, and paste it into a Word document.
Thursday, 12 June 2014 10:54:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, 10 June 2014
How to Use Your Tablet to Make Genealogy Research Trips Easier
Posted by Diane

I have to admit, I don't use my Android tablet much except to surf the internet or read in bed (when I really should be getting to sleep).

As a minimal tablet user, I wanted to try out the video classes planned for our Maximize Your iPad (or Tablet) for Genealogy one-week workshop, taking place online June 23-30. 

I watched "Using Your Tablet on a Research Trip" by workshop instructor and self-professed tablet-aholic Kerry Scott.

When she said that she no longer brings her laptop computer on research trips, I was hooked. Boy would I love to stop lugging that thing around at conferences, trying to use it half open on a plane when the guy in front of me reclines his seat, and getting possessive about the single electrical outlet within walking distance of wherever I am.

Kerry uses her tablet when planning a trip, while traveling, and while researching at the library or archive. Here are a few ways she does it:
  • She puts all her travel documents, confirmations and notes in Evernote and shares them with her husband.
  • Downloads reading material and music, as well as PDF versions of research guides for the place she's going
  • Makes a lookup list of records in Excel (which she likes for its sortability) and saves it to the cloud (Dropbox, in Kerry’s case; I’d keep mine in Google Drive). These are her newspaper lookups:

  • Downloads a flight-tracking app such as FlightTrack, plus the airline’s travel app (which usually lets travelers quickly rebook when flights are canceled or delayed)
  • Downloads traffic apps for states along the driving route, a restaurant-finding app, and news apps for big cities on the itinerary (you know, in case the place shuts down due to a grasshopper plague)
  • Uses Evernote's camera feature to capture record images (such as from microfilm) along with source information for easily pairing the record with its citation. Her video has a demo of how this works.
  • Uses a family tree app for quick lookups while at a repository
  • Downloads apps for libraries she's visiting (if available) for catalog searches
  • Downloads a note-taking app, which would be a biggie for me. Kerry uses a stylus to "write" notes on the tablet, like so:

The tips will work for both iPads and Android tablets—Kerry mentioned apps for both, and the course has videos for both. Now I can't wait to check out the rest of the video courses and chat about apps on the workshop message board.

Click here to see the course lineup and other features for our Maximize Your iPad (or Tablet) for Genealogy one-week workshop

Family Tree University | Genealogy Apps | Webinars
Tuesday, 10 June 2014 15:28:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 06 June 2014
Genealogy News Corral, June 2-6
Posted by Diane

  • British technology company brightsolid (part of DC Thomson, which owns has a new game called Family House you can play on your iPhone, iPad or Facebook. Players build and restore a "family house," moving in more family members as they explore their family history. Players even can represent these virtual family members with avatars dressed in period clothing. Download the app from the iTunes store or play it on Facebook.
  • The subscription-based digital archive of The Stars and Stripes, a newspaper published for the American community in Europe, has been updated with WWII-era editions from London (1942-1945) and Northern Ireland (1943-1945). The archive launched in 2008 with papers from 1948 to 1999. Subscriptions range from $4.95 for a one-day pass to $47.40 for one year.
  • Registration has opened for the Foundation for East European Family History Studies' 2014 conference, taking place Aug. 12-15 in Salt Lake City.  The opening reception features Eastern European hors d'oeuvres—yum!—and classes cover German, Russian, Austrian, Polish, Czech, Jewish and other Eastern European ancestry.  See a program and register at the conference website.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Events | Military records | Newspapers
Friday, 06 June 2014 12:57:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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]