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# Thursday, August 14, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Valerie Bertinelli Discovers a Coat of Arms, Explores Italian Roots
Posted by Diane



In last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" actor Valerie Bertinelli travels to Italy and learns her great-grandmother immigrated with two small children after her husband died—an unusual action for a woman at the time.

Then, seeking equally enlightening stories to share with her mom, she visits England and is presented with a family tree showing a long line of Claypooles.

At the beginning, Bertinelli says her son wants to know if the family has a crest—so you just knew the answer would be yes. And it was: At the College of Arms in London, she learns that her eighth-great-grandfather, who was born a yeoman and improved his family's circumstances, received a coat of arms.

Bertinelli also learned that her 19th-great-grandfather is King Edward I aka "Edward Longshanks" of England, who reigned form 1272 to 1307.

Coats of arms can be a sensitive subject in genealogy circles, surrounded by myths that help to propel the sale of fake family crest products. Pity the unsuspecting person who boasts about his family crest within earshot of a genealogist. Why?

Being of the same surname as someone who has a coat of arms—or even being a bona-fide member of the person's family—doesn't necessarily mean that you also have a coat of arms. There are a few little-known rules to go along with heraldry:
  • Coats of arms aren't granted to families. Instead, they're granted to individuals. Arms can, however, be inherited. 
  • Anyone whose uninterrupted male-line immigrant ancestor was entitled to use a coat of arms, also has the right to use this same coat of arms. If the uninterrupted male-line immigrant ancestor has no such right, then neither does the descendant. (Bertinelli described the "Claypool Coat of Arms" to her mom, so it sounds like she knew this rule.)

What an impressive pedigree to take home to Mom!

Going back to the Italian side of things: I can't let you go without letting you know about our Best Resources for Tracing Your Italian Roots video class with Melanie D. Holtz. You'll learn what genealogical records exist for Italian ancestors, where to find them, and the best resources to investigate your Italian ancestry.

You also can read Melanie's Italian research guide in the forthcoming October/November 2014 Family Tree Magazine. In the mean time, here's a head start for finding relatives' Italian military records.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, August 14, 2014 2:07:18 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Top Tech Tools for Genealogists: WorldCat for Library Research
Posted by Diane

The things genealogists can do with smartphone apps and online tools these days are amazing—and overwhelming. In our Aug. 21 webinar 10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can't Live Without, Lisa Louise Cooke recommends tools and apps to take care of the essential functions a genealogist needs: Online backups, file sharing, consuming online content (aka reading blogs, listening to podcasts, watching videos, etc.), remote access on your mobile devices, library searching, note taking, etc.

She'll also show you how to get started with the recommended tools. (I especially love that. For me, the getting-started hump will sometimes keep me from trying a new app or tool.)

In this post, I'll highlight one of the tools on Lisa's list: WorldCat for library searching.

The library in the town where your ancestors lived is a great place to start your research, but you'll also want to explore the collections of historical societies, state libraries and archives, large genealogical libraries, university libraries and more. WorldCat makes it easier to search all these types of libraries by giving you access to search the catalogs of 72,000 repositories in 170 countries and territories. No need to search catalogs on a hundred different library websites.

I tried it just now, searching for German immigrants Cincinnati, and found a few books to add to my to-do list, including this one:



My Cincinnati German ancestors settled here mostly in the early to mid 19th century. So far, all but one line originate near the Osnabruck area in Lower Saxony or Westphalia. From its description (which you find when you scroll down), this book could provide insight into what motivated my family to emigrate, what the journey was like, and where in the United States other emigrants from that area settled.

WorldCat also tells you which libraries hold each item, in order of proximity to your location.

The 10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can't Live Without webinar, presented by Lisa Louise Cooke, is Thursday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. ET (that's 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT and 4 p.m. PT). As with all our webinars, participants get access to watch the video again whenever they want, plus a PDF of the presentation slides. Register on ShopFamilyTree.com.

Libraries and Archives | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:40:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, August 08, 2014
Genealogy News Corral:August 4-8
Posted by Diane

  • Kids getting ready to go back to school also means the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) annual conference is nearly here. The 2014 genealogy confab is Aug. 27-30 in San Antonio, Texas, and Family Tree Magazine will be there in booth 2019 with free issues plus books, CDs, cheat sheets and subscriptions for sale. I hope to see you there!


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, August 08, 2014 10:48:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 07, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?": The McAdams Sisters Trace Roots in England and Canada
Posted by Diane



Last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" followed sisters Rachel and Kayleen McAdams (respectively, an actor and makeup artist to the stars) to England and then to Canada as they learned the stories of ancestors on their mother's side of the family.

A few of the things that hit home in this episode:
  • As one with two sisters close to my age, I liked that aspect of this episode. And many genealogists would give up their Ancestry.com subscriptions for a sibling, or a cousin, or anyone, to share their intense interest in family history.
  • The sisters initially disagreed on their English great-grandfather's job in the Royal service: pilot or mechanic? (They learned that "mechanic" is the more accurate description.) This shows how everybody remembers things a little differently, so it's helpful to interview multiple relatives—even those from the same generation—about your family history. 
  • The sisters traveled to two places where their ancestors lived: The upper-class home in England where their third-great-grandfather (I think—sometimes I lose track of the greats) William Gale served as footman (the top male servant in the household), and the site of the refugee camp in Quebec where their fifth-great-grandmother was quartered, along with other British Loyalists who'd fled the United States, during the American Revolution.

    Awhile back, I had the chance to interview Ian Frazier, the author of Family, one of my favorite books. He talked about how, when you're trying to understand your ancestors' experiences, it's important to get as close as possible to the places where they lived. You can't always visit your ancestral hometown, but you can read about it, find newspaper and other accounts from the time, look at old photos and maps, and talk to experts on the area's history. (Sunny Morton wrote a great guide to "visiting" ancestral locales without leaving home in the August 2010 Family Tree Magazine.)
Around 8,000 loyalists from the American colonies relocated to Canada after the war. If you're researching one of these Loyalists, you can find the Archives of Ontario's United Empire Loyalist research guide here.

There's also a United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, as well as a Black Loyalist Heritage Society dedicated to the African-American Loyalists who settled in Nova Scotia in the 1780s.

And if you're tracing British roots, you might be able to use our roundup of online resources for  English and Welsh civil registrations, like the marriage record the McAdamses viewed at the Plymouth Central Library in England.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, August 07, 2014 10:57:16 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 06, 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 bottom):



The site also has examples of index cards (click the link in the site's navigation bar), prison camp information and postcards, and ICRC correspondence.

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, August 06, 2014 12:25:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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]