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Wednesday, 06 August 2014
New, Free Website Has Millions of World War I Prisoner of War Records
Posted by Diane
Documents about millions of soldiers and civilians captured during
World War I are now available free on the Prisoners of the First World
War website, created by the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Eight million soldiers and 2 million civilians were sent to
detention camps during the war. The combatants would periodically submit
lists of prisoners to the ICRC's International Prisoners of War
Agency, established in 1914. The agency received documents recording prisoners' names, capture,
transfers between camps, and deaths while detained.
Staff made an index card for each prisoner, with references to
records about that person, and filed the cards by nationality and
military or civilian status. Here's one for Albert
Smith, a British soldier, giving his date of capture, rank and unit:
It also indexed relatives' correspondence—since destroyed—requesting
information on their captured loved ones. Part of the ICRC's mission
was to help prisoners find their families after the war. Here's a
correspondence index card for Albert, with information about him (including his birth date and place), the person who inquired about him with a home address, and his transfer between prisons:
According to the ICRC, 90 percent of the 5 million cards on
prisoners and 500,000 pages of records associated with these cards
are now searchable on the Prisoners
of the First World War website.
You can search
for names with the person's nationality (British and
Commonwealth, French or Belgian, Romanian, German, American, etc.)
and military or civilian status. If you find a relative's
card, hover over it to click a link for "More information about this
person." Then you'll be able to enter one of the reference numbers
on the card to see the associated document, or click a link for help
reading the card.
When I selected the letter code PA and typed the 35004 that appeared
on Albert's card, I saw this prisoners list (he's at the
The site also has examples of index cards (click the link in the
site's navigation bar), prison camp
information and postcards,
Researching an ancestor (male or female) who fought or volunteered in the Great War? See the July/August 2014 Family Tree Magazine for more top World War I genealogy websites and resources.
Free Databases | Military records | World War One Genealogy
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 12:25:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, 05 August 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, 05 August 2014 15:11:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, 01 August 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
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.
- 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
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
Ancestry.com | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, 01 August 2014 14:01:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
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, 01 August 2014 12:09:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, 31 July 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
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
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:
A few resources from ShopFamilyTree.com to help you do genealogy
research in newspapers:
- 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.
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, 31 July 2014 10:35:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, 30 July 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
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, 30 July 2014 09:45:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, 28 July 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, 28 July 2014 16:19:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, 25 July 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, 25 July 2014 10:47:24 (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, 25 July 2014 10:11:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, 24 July 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, 24 July 2014 10:09:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)