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Monday, July 28, 2014
The 101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2014
Posted by Diane
Funny that the release of Family Tree Magazine's milestone 15th
list of the 101 Best Sites for tracing family history
coincides with my milestone 40th birthday.
Both online genealogy and I have come a long way in 15 years. But
you care more about online genealogy, so let's talk about that: Our
first list of 101 Best Websites for genealogy, back in April 2000
(before I was on staff here, although I did write for the magazine
at the time), includes a number of websites that are no
longer around, a bunch of how-to sites, and lots of looooong URLs.
Nowadays, expectations are high: Genealogists want genealogy data,
a powerful yet easy-to-use search, and to see the records with our
ancestors' names. We want to be able to share records with family
members and connect with long-lost cousins. We want to find what
we're looking for in just a couple of clicks, and we want a bargain.
Whether we genealogists admit it or not, we can be hard to please,
and so my hat is off a dozen times to the businesses, organizations,
individuals and volunteers who manage the sites on the 101
Best Websites list for 2014.
can find links to all the 2014 101 Best Websites for Genealogy
sites and a little about each one—focusing on new features and
content—on FamilyTreeMagazine.com (a free article).
in the September 2014 Family Tree Magazine, which is now
mailing to subscribers and will be on newsstands and at ShopFamilyTree.com
Of course the best genealogy site for you is the one that has the
information you need, so don't stop with this list. Individuals and
organizations work hard to maintain
zillions of genealogy websites big and small. Use our list as a
springboard to other sites related to the surnames, places and
historical eras of interest to you. These
simple web search tips can help you find them.
We love to hear about great genealogy websites, so please comment on
this post, find us on Facebook
or Twitter, or email us about your favorite
websites for family history research.
Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, July 28, 2014 4:19:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, July 25, 2014
Black Friday in July Sale on Genealogy Guides in ShopFamilyTree.com!
Posted by Diane
I just wanted to let you know that ShopFamilyTree.com
is having a Black Friday in July sale this weekend! You'll get 40
percent off your purchase when you enter offer code SUMMER40.
So if you've been wanting to
... now's the time! Do
your genealogy shopping at ShopFamilyTree.com and enter SUMMER40
when you check out. Hurry—this offer expires on Monday
at 11:59 p.m. Eastern!
(Note that this sale doesn't include magazine subscriptions,
VIP memberships, and products from other companies that ship
directly from those companies.)
ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Friday, July 25, 2014 10:47:24 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Genealogy News Corral: July 21-25
Posted by Diane
- This Sunday, July 27, the National World War One Museum in Kansas
City, Mo., will broadcast online a "One Century Later" panel
discussion about the ways World War I—which started 100 years
ago—continues to shape our world. The discussion takes place at 11
a.m. Central Time, so be sure to translate that into your local
time. You can watch at www.theworldwar.org.
more about this event here.
FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives | Military records | NARA
Friday, July 25, 2014 10:11:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Genealogy Tips From the “Who Do You Think You Are?” Premiere With Cynthia Nixon
Posted by Diane
Who watched the season premiere of "Who Do You Think You Are?" last
night? (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
The show followed Cynthia Nixon's search along her paternal line and this discovery: Her third-great-grandmother
Martha Curnutt killed her abusive husband in 1843. Only the second woman held in
the Missouri state penitentiary in Jefferson City, Martha gave birth in
prison more than a year after entering, suggesting she was
raped. The prison's mistreatment of Martha and
her baby inspired a long list of people, including prominent local
politicians, to petition for her pardon. It was granted two years
into her sentence.
You can see part of Cynthia
Nixon's visit to the old prison on the site of the building where
Martha was held in this clip. Check back on the
"Who Do You Think You Are?" website for the full episode.
As is typical for celebrity guests on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Nixon crisscrossed the country to visit archives, and benefited from
the extensive legwork and expertise of researchers.
Yes, it would be great if we all could get these perks! But
the rare, priceless publicity the featured archives and researchers
receive is good for those archives and people, which is good
for all of us genealogists.
It takes a little longer to do this type of research on your own,
but it is possible. Here are a few of the genealogy takeaways I
picked up from the show:
- Use a variety of genealogical records together:
Researchers started with censuses and moved back and forth between death
certificates, marriage records, military pensions, court records,
county and local histories, newspapers and pardon records.
- Look to military records in the mid-1800s: When Nixon
wonders why Martha appears in the 1850 census husbandless and
with three children who have her maiden name, a New York state archives
researcher says he always considers military records during this time
Martha’s son Noah (who isn't in Nixon's direct line—cluster research at work!) was the right age to serve in
the Civil War, and a pension
record based on his service could be rich in family details. A Civil
War pension index on Ancestry.com lists a pension Martha
filed as a parent dependent upon her son's support. Civil War
pensions aren’t microfilmed or digitized (except for a
small number on Fold3.com), so Nixon went to the National Archives in
Washington, DC, to get the record. (The rest of us might
hire an on-site researcher or order
copies for $80.)
Sure enough, she learns that Noah died in the war, and his
father died in 1842.
- Use local histories and contemporary accounts: Local
history books and newspapers provided several clues.
A county history said Martha had killed her husband, and a newspaper
article described the circumstances of the husband's
"unnatural" treatment of her and his statement one morning that she'd be dead by sunset. A book by another
prisoner at that time describes Martha's
Such books and newspapers might be at a state
archives (the Missouri
State Archives in this case) or historical society, a
public or genealogical library, or even online at sites such as
Google Books or Chronicling America.
What did you think of this episode? Did you pick up any genealogy
research tips? You'll find a ton of help getting your genealogy
research started in our new summer
2014 Discover Your Roots guide—learn more about it in
- Ask for help: You don't have to be a celebrity or a
film crew to get expert advice from librarians and archivists.
They probably won't do extensive research for you, but if you succinctly explain your problem, they can
direct you to resources and get you started using them.
Update: You can find out more about the genealogy research conducted for this episode on Ancestry.com's blog.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Research Tips
Thursday, July 24, 2014 10:09:38 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, July 21, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?" (US) Premieres This Wednesday
Posted by Diane
It's my turn to take over the TV at our house this Wednesday at 9
p.m. (Eastern), when the new season of the US series "Who Do
You Think You Are?" (WDYTYA?) premieres on TLC.
The first episode features the family tree of actor Cynthia Nixon,
known for her role as Miranda in "Sex and the City." I never got
into "Sex and the City," but you can bet I'll tune in to "WDYTYA?"
for the genealogy.
Watch a trailer for the episode below. In it, Nixon views court
records and visits a prison where it sounds like one of her female
ancestors was incarcerated.
Other celebrities featured this season include Valerie Bertinelli,
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lauren Graham, Kelsey Grammer, and sisters
Rachel and Kayleen McAdams. We'll also see some older episodes, from
the show's run on NBC.
Ancestry.com sponsors the show (which you'll likely gather from its prominent positioning in each episode).
If you can't watch on Wednesday or you don't have cable, most
episodes are posted to the "Who
Do You Think You Are?" website after airing. Anybody know if they'll be on Hulu? I searched, but found only clips, not full episodes, from last year.
We'll post a recap
here on the
Genealogy Insider blog, too.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy TV
Monday, July 21, 2014 10:38:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Apply to Have Your Family Mystery Solved on "Genealogy Roadshow" Season 2
Posted by Diane
Here's some good news: We have official word that
"Genealogy Roadshow" is coming back to PBS for a second season.
It'll premiere in winter 2015 with season one experts D. Joshua Taylor and Kenyatta Berry, plus Mary Tedesco,
founder of the Origins Italy
If you didn't see "Genealogy Roadshow" last year, it applies the
idea behind "Antiques Roadshow" to genealogy: An audiences line up
outside a local historic venue, and a lucky few get to share a
family mystery with the show's experts. The expert uses family
heirlooms, documents, photos and online research to investigate the
truth behind the family story.
This season will feature participants and stories from three
American regions: St. Louis, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Here's the
"Genealogy Roadshow" website where you can apply to participate at
Looks like there'll be a genealogy fair around filming at each site,
too: The producers also are looking for genealogy societies, vendors
and research firms to exhibit their products and services at the
events. Tables and exhibit space are free. Dates (all Saturdays and
Sundays, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.) are:
The announcement instructs interested "Genealogy Roadshow" filming
event exhibitors to contact a
- St. Louis: Aug. 23 and 24
- New Orleans: Sept. 6 and 7
- Philadelphia: Sept. 13 and 14
Monday, July 21, 2014 10:01:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, July 18, 2014
Genealogy News Corral: July 14-18
Posted by Diane
- The UK-based genealogy company Findmypast and Wall-to-Wall,
the "Who Do You Think You Are?" TV show production
company, are working together on Who Do You
Think You Are? Story, a website to help you
"produce" your family story. You'll enter information about your
immediate family and upload photos, and the site will play an
"animated retelling" of your family story, including events that
may have affected your family. It will draw from historical
records and British newspaper articles at FindMyPast. You can be
notified when the site launches by entering your
email address on the Who Do You think You Are? Story website.
Read more about the service on
the Findmypast blog.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage | saving and sharing family history
Friday, July 18, 2014 9:48:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, July 17, 2014
FamilySearch Releases Tree & Memories Apps for Your FamilySearch Family Tree
Posted by Diane
FamilySearch has introduced two
new mobile apps for working with your family tree on
- FamilySearch Tree lets you view your family tree on the
FamilySearch.org website; add photos, stories and audio
recordings; and search for photos, documents and stories about
your family. The app doesn't yet let you add and update ancestor
details such as names, life dates and relationships, but this is
coming soon. FamilySearch Tree is available for iOS 7 and higher
and Android 2.3 and higher.
You can click through to these apps in the Apple App Store or Google
Play from this
post on the FamilySearch Blog.
- FamilySearch Memories lets you use your phone to
capture images of old documents, old photos, and family events;
audio recordings; and written stories, tag them, and add them to
your FamilySearch family tree. FamilySearch Memories is
available for iOS 7 (there's no Android version, and
FamilySearch hasn't said whether one is in the works).
FamilySearch | Genealogy Apps
Thursday, July 17, 2014 8:56:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, July 14, 2014
WWI Genealogy Records Free on MyHeritage Through July
Posted by Diane
WWI began 100 years ago July 28, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire
invaded Serbia. All of Europe and countries beyond were drawn into
the conflict—including the United States in 1918. You
can see our timeline of war declarations in World War I here.
More than 70 million military personnel worldwide were mobilized and
9 million were killed over the course of the war. Up to 8 million
civilians died as a result of the war.
To commemorate the centennial, MyHeritage
is making WWI genealogy records free to access from now
through the end of July. The collection includes 11
WWI records databases, mostly for European soldiers. Check
out the list on the MyHeritage Blog.
For resources and strategies to trace your World War I
ancestors—both soldiers and the women who volunteered in the war or
stayed on the home front—see
the July/August 2014 Family Tree Magazine.
Military records | MyHeritage
Monday, July 14, 2014 10:22:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Time-Saving Genealogy Tips: How I Keep My Research Log
Posted by Diane
I'm on a pause in my genealogy research. Aside from the usual running after the kiddos, trying to keep up at work, and summertime family events, we're packing
up and moving our house.
One thing I've been doing that I hope will help me pick up my
research after this short (fingers crossed!) break is recommended in our
upcoming Time-Saving Tools and Techniques for Genealogists weeklong
online workshop: I've been keeping my genealogy to-do list in a
research log on Google Drive. Here's what it looks like:
I include columns for the
I can access my research log on Google Drive from my home or work
computer, as well as my phone. It's sortable by any column, so if
I'm visiting the Public
Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's (PLCH) well-known
genealogy collection, for example, I can sort by the
Repository/Site column and gather all the tasks that need to be done
at PLCH—saving myself some time in the long run. Or if I want to see what needs to be done for my
second-great-granduncle Frank Thoss, a Civil War veteran, I can sort
- Status: I can mark this to do, in progress or done
- Research Task: a description of what needs doing
- Repository/Site: I'll include the name of the
repository or website I need to visit or send a request to
- Name: the name of the main person(s) named in the
record, plus anyone else who should be included
- Place: the city or town where the repository is located
- Notes: any details that will help me find the record I
need, such as places I've already looked, volume and page
numbers found in an index, the repository website, etc.
- Prep Work Needed: Anything I should do before I visit a
repository or request a record goes here
- Findings: Once a task is done, I can record whether my
search was successful
Tools and Techniques for Genealogists weeklong online workshop,
happening July 24-31, has a video class called Research Logs for the
Rest of Us, which helps you set up and use a research log.
Another video class from this workshop that I'm excited about is Source Citations for
Regular People. It shows you how to break down creating
source citations into chunks, so crafting them and inputting them
into your software doesn't take forever.
You can get details on the rest of the week-long workshop classes,
which cover online searching, genealogy goal-setting, time
management and more, on FamilyTreeUniversity.com.
Because genealogists are
often inspired by each other, Time-Saving
Tools and Techniques for Genealogists workshop participants
also can share tips, best practices and questions on a conference
Register here for the Time-Saving
Tools and Techniques for Genealogists online workshop.
Family Tree University | Research Tips
Tuesday, July 08, 2014 3:41:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)