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<2014 August>

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# Thursday, 21 August 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?" With Kelsey Grammer: Genealogy Sources for Tracing Pioneer Roots
Posted by Diane

I mentioned in yesterday's post that the pioneer era is one of my favorite eras of history to learn about. Maybe it comes from my childhood love of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" book series.

So I especially appreciated the second part of last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?", when Kelsey Grammer drove to Baker City in eastern Oregon to walk in ruts left by thousands of covered wagons crossing the high desert on their way to Oregon's Willamette Valley. It's fascinating to me that the ruts are still there.

Grammer's third-great-grandparents Joseph and Comfort Dimmick, along with their many children and other relatives, followed the trail from their homes in the Midwest to land near Salem, Oregon, that they received under the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850.

Grammer read from a pioneer diary the Dimmicks' nephew kept during the journey. It described how the oldest Dimmick son drank contaminated water from a creek and died of cholera, one of the most common diseases trail migrants suffered. He was buried alone along the trail.

There's no single comprehensive list of westward pioneers. WDYTYA historians were tipped off to Grammer's pioneer ancestry because of the time period and birthplaces in census records: A family that lived in Oregon before railways reached the area had parents and older children born in the Midwest.

Do you have pioneer roots? Here are some resources for tracing them, from Family Tree Magazine's guide 7 Tips for Researching Pioneer Heritage:
You'll find help using these and other pioneer research resources in our downloadable 7 Tips for Researching Pioneer Heritage, available in

You can watch the full episode on the "Who Do You Think You Are?" website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Research Tips
Thursday, 21 August 2014 10:23:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Kelsey Grammer Discovers Pioneer Roots This Week on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Posted by Diane

Tomorrow on "Who Do You Think You Are?" Kelsey Grammer, Frazier Crane from "Cheers" and "Frazier," learns about the early life of the grandmother who raised him. One of the mysteries that'll be revealed on the show is why his grandmother wasn't raised by her parents, either.

Grammer also discovers that his third-great-grandparents traveled the Oregon Trail with their 12 children. The pioneer era is one of my favorite periods of history to read about, so I'm especially looking forward to that part of the episode. (And 12 children? Could you imagine? Just driving a few hours with my two kids in the car is enough to make me swear off road trips.)

Plus, the show stops in Portland, Ore., where I used to live, and the Genealogical Forum of Oregon, where I've visited. I enjoy seeing places I recognize.

Here's a preview clip for you:

"Who Do You Think You Are?" airs Wednesdays at 9/8 Central on TLC. And now you can watch full episodes of this season on the "Who Do You Think You Are?" website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 15:33:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Research Australian Genealogy Records Free on MyHeritage
Posted by Diane

Those researching in Australia, here's an offer for you: Genealogy website MyHeritage is celebrating Australian National Family History Month in August by granting free access to many of its Australian records collections through this Friday, Aug. 22. You'll need to set up a free MyHeritage account (or log in, if you already have one).

That includes Australian birth, marriage and death records, electoral rolls, school records and more. You can start searching MyHeritage Australian records here.

Even if you don't have ancestors Down Under, you might have cousins there if relatives migrated to Britain's Australian colonies.

Read the MyHeritage announcement about the records offer here.

For help searching MyHeritage, check out Family Tree Magazine's MyHeritage Web Guide, available in

MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 13:25:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0] Won't Retire MyCanvas After All
Posted by Diane

Good news for users of the MyCanvas photo book service (including me—I used it to create my wedding album), which owners had planned to retire in September. just announced that instead of discontinuing MyCanvas, it will transfer the site to Alexander's, the Utah-based printing production company that already handled the printing of MyCanvas photo books, posters, calendars and other products.

Eric Shoup, executive VP of product at, wrote on the blog that the transfer, which will take about six months, should be a smooth one for MyCanvas users. Users' projects will remain available on until the site moves over to Alexander's. More details will be available as the transition moves ahead. | Photos | saving and sharing family history
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 11:13:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 14 August 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, 14 August 2014 14:07:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 12 August 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

Libraries and Archives | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 12:40:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 08 August 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?" | | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, 08 August 2014 10:48:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 07 August 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 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, 07 August 2014 10:57:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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 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, 06 August 2014 12:25:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# 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)  #  Comments [0]