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# Tuesday, August 05, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Preview: Rachel and Kayleen McAdams
Posted by Diane

On tomorrow night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" sisters Rachel and Kayleen McAdams search together for their family history.

They explore their maternal roots, about which their mother knows little. They follow ancestors on both their grandfather's and grandmother's sides, a departure from the first two episodes focusing on one ancestor's story. They'll also delve into Canadian research, with visits to archives in Quebec, Ottawa and Ontario.

In this preview, the McAdams sisters meet in Ottawa with genealogist Joseph Schumway, who's put together a tree showing their mother's maternal family line in Canada.



You can watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 9/8 Central on TLC.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, August 05, 2014 3:11:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 01, 2014
AncestryDNA Improves Cousin Matching
Posted by Diane

AncestryDNA customers will soon see better cousin matches to their genetic genealogy test results.

All AncestryDNA customers to some extent, but especially Jewish and Hispanic customers, have been getting false cousin matches. Matches for Jewish and Hispanic testers seemingly would indicate they're cousins with everyone else of the same ethnicity.

In today's announcement, Ancestry.com's DNA team explains why these false matches can happen. All humans are genetically 99 percent identical, so there are two reasons that two people might have identical DNA:
  • IDB: the DNA is Identical By Descent, meaning the two people it belongs to are related
  • IDS: the DNA is Identical By State, indicating that the two people it belongs to are simply of the same ethnicity or are both human
Apparently it can be difficult it can be to tease out the DNA segments that are IDB from those that are IDS, but AncestryDNA has developed a new way to analyze results that can tell the difference.

In the coming months, according to the release, "all customers will see increased accuracy of their DNA matches, and significantly fewer 'false' matches." Existing customers will receive an email when their new matches are ready.

Read more about AncestryDNA's improved cousin matching feature on the Ancestry.com blog.


Ancestry.com | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, August 01, 2014 2:01:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral: July 28-August 1
Posted by Diane

  • Wholly Genes software owner Bob Velke has announced that The Master Genealogist software will be discontinued. In the company's July 29 newsletter, he stated that the market for the software's advanced features is insufficient to support the infrastructure necessary to continue developing the software. He added that health issues are a contributing factor.

    Official software support will end at the end of this year; sales will continue through September. The user-to-user support forum and mailing list will still be available.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Genealogy for kids | Genealogy Software
Friday, August 01, 2014 12:09:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, July 31, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Jesse Tyler Ferguson's Black Sheep Ancestor + Old Newspaper Research Tips
Posted by Diane



In last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" Jesse Tyler Ferguson's great-grandfather Jess Uppercue—the father of Ferguson's paternal grandmother, Jessie, with whom he was close—seemed to get into trouble wherever he went.

It started when he was arrested for the murder of an aunt he lived with at age 22. Although he had motive (he stood to gain a tidy sum when she died, having just insisted upon the rewriting of her will), the evidence was circumstantial. The first trial ended in a hung jury; the second, in acquittal.

Uppercue later turns up in Evanston, Ill.; Fargo, ND; St. Louis; and Philadelphia, each time being prosecuted for some money-related charge and managing to evade punishment.

Then, as the promoter for an expedition to the Alaskan Klondike in 1898, he brought so many participants and provisions, and so much mining machinery, that the group couldn't use the rugged trail. The expedition's secretary wrote letters to his hometown paper describing the terrible conditions, one man's death, and the early departure of nearly half the group, including Uppercue.

He again managed to bounce back, named in newspapers as a speaker at political events, and married his third wife, Ferguson's great-grandmother, who was some 30 years younger than he. The couple later divorced and their daughters stayed with their father.

Ferguson worked pretty hard there at the end to see his great-grandfather in a positive light, as someone who survived multiple setbacks and "stepped up" to care for his girls. But from what I saw as a viewer—which admittedly probably isn't as full a picture as Ferguson got—Uppercue just wasn't a good guy.

I do think it's natural to want to believe the best about your own family, especially when your closest link to that person was someone you respected as much as Ferguson did his grandmother.

As you could see in this episode (and as I've found in my own research), newspapers are a good source for tracing ne'er-do-well ancestors. Old newspaper resources include:
  • subscription site Newspapers.com , which was used on last night's episode (it's owned by "WDYTYA?" sponsor Ancestry.com)

  • subscription site GenealogyBank

  • the free Chronicling America, from the Library of Congress

  • newspaper services your local library may offer its patrons (ask at the reference desk or check the website)

  • Real genealogy gems may still be hidden in not-yet-digitized papers. You can search the Chronicling America newspaper directory to find titles of papers published in your ancestor's hometown when he lived there. The directory also tells you the names of libraries and archives that hold the paper on microfilm, microfiche or paper.
A few resources from ShopFamilyTree.com to help you do genealogy research in newspapers:
If you're dying to watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" but your Wednesdays are busy or you don't have TLC, you can purchase full episodes for $1.99 each or buy the whole season for $12.99 on the show's YouTube channel.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Newspapers | Research Tips
Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:35:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, July 30, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Jesse Tyler Ferguson Traces His Pioneer Ancestor's Expedition to Alaska
Posted by Diane

Tonight's "Who Do You Think You Are?" (9/8 Central on TLC) focuses on the ancestors of "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Especially if you have pioneer roots, this show might be of interest to you: Jesse follows his great-grandfather's 1898 expedition to the Alaskan Klondike, a difficult journey by boat and pack horse that resulted in the deaths of several men. The Klondike saw a gold rush from 1896 to 1899, drawing not only gold seekers, but also businessmen seeking to supply the prospectors.

Like last week's episode with Cynthia Nixon, we'll also learn about a shocking crime in Ferguson's family history. (Scandal seems to be common fodder for "Who Do You Think You Are?")

In this preview, Jesse Tyler Ferguson stands among snowcapped mountains reading what looks like a transcription of a trail diary from his great-grandfather's journey.



You can watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" with Jesse Tyler Ferguson tonight (Wednesday, July 30) at 9/8 Central on TLC.

If you're tracing pioneer ancestors, download our guide with seven genealogy research strategies to discover pioneer roots from ShopFamilyTree.com.

Read Tyler's comments about appearing in the episode in the Tyler's hometown Albuquerque Journal newspaper (I had to answer a survey question before I could see the article).


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 9:45:54 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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.

You 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).

It's also in the September 2014 Family Tree Magazine, which is now mailing to subscribers and will be on newsstands and at ShopFamilyTree.com Aug. 19.

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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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)  #  Comments [0]
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. Learn 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)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 period.

    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 experience.

    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
  • 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. 
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 ShopFamilyTree.com.

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)  #  Comments [5]
# 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)  #  Comments [0]