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# Friday, 31 August 2007
The State of Genealogy in Germany
Posted by Grace

We don't need to tell you that genealogy's a big deal. But for the sake of backing up the argument, here are some numbers. A poll released by The Generations Network in 2005 said 29 percent have created a family tree—that's more than 80 million people. alone has 760,000 subscribers.

Now, about one in six Americans reported having German ancestry in the 2000 US Census—more than 43 million people.

Considering how many US genealogists might be rooting around in the archives of Baden-Wurttemberg and Brandenburg, it seems surprising that only about 30,000 Germans are tracing their family roots, according to German news channel N-TV.

But the lack of fervor in Deutschland has deep-seated roots.

Genealogy was at its most popular in Germany during the Third Reich—it was a way of proving Aryan heritage. Because much of the general population associated the hobby with national socialism, nearly all genealogical organizations were disbanded in 1945, and the hobby still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many Germans.

With the advent of Internet-driven research (and perhaps with the influence of countries like the United States and United Kingdom, where genealogy is big business), it seems like Ahnenforschung is making a comeback. TV stations are producing genealogy-focused programs like "Die Spur der Ahnen" ("The Trace of the Ancestors") and "Vorfahren Gesucht: Abenteuer Ahnenforschung" ("Ancestors Sought: Genealogy Adventure"). For those fluent in Deutsch, a German-language blog affiliated with gives an interesting take on family history.

So now I’m curious—what's the state of genealogy in other countries? Leave a comment!

Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, 31 August 2007 14:49:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 30 August 2007
Search Newspapers Free Until Sept. 6 on World Vital Records
Posted by Diane

Genealogy database site World Vital Records will provide “increased access” to the collection of, the largest online subscription newspaper database.

By “increased access,” World Vital Records webmasters mean they’re extracting vital information in newspapers dating from 1759 to 1923, resulting in half a billion records, and making it searchable on the World Vital Records site.

The first release of the data—40 million records—went up Aug. 27, and data for more titles were posted today. World Vital Records gives 10 days of free access for each site addition, so start searching.

After 10 days, databases are available with a World Vital Records subscription, which costs $49.95 for two years.

Find the data on World Vital Records’ Browse Databases page. For now, you have to search each title individually. You can search by name, place, year and keyword, and results are linked to (supersized) images of the original articles.

Update: Based on the comments, it looks like some are having trouble accessing the free newspaper databases in World Vital Records. To review: Each new database is free for 10 days after World Vital Records adds it. After the 10 days are over, you must subscribe to access that database.

To find the free content, use this link: Next to each database listed on that page, you can see how many days of free access remain. Click a database to search it. You don't have to register with the site to search it, or to view the results of your search.

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 30 August 2007 09:55:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9] and the Telegraph Launch White Label Site
Posted by Diane

If genealogy Web surfers think the new UK records site Telegraph Family History seems familiar, well, they're right. has produced the first white label genealogy database site, for the Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

A white label product is one a company produces for another company to brand and market as its own. Telegraph Family History is basically with a different "skin," so when you search Telegraph Family History, you're really searching's collection of British census, vital and emigration records.

Telegraph Family History launched Friday, bearing a “powered by” graphic. You'll need a free registration to search the records, but you must pay to see detailed results.

It also has researcher and author Nick Barratt’s Family Detective columns investigating famous Brits’ pedigrees. Barratt is a UK family history media magnet who appears on the BBC series "Who Do You Think You Are?"

You can subscribe to Telegraph Family History for the same prices as The Explorer package gives full access to all records for about $250 per year. You also can purchase pay-per-view units starting around $14. See for information.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 30 August 2007 08:55:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Are Your Ancestors in Google Book Search?
Posted by Grace

Copyright fights aside, one of my favorite search tools is Google's Book Search, at By typing in keywords just like in a normal Google search, you get results from all sorts of out-of-print and hard-to-find books.

I use it to research the histories of areas that aren't well-represented online, and to check dates when I don't quite trust Wikipedia. Some books show up in the results as full page scans with searchable text. Other books are restricted to just showing a few preview pages or a few paragraphs of excerpts. Some are downloadable as PDF documents. (Even if you can't see all of the information, Google gives you the publisher's information that gives you a head start on finding it at your library.)

Because I have a fairly uncommon surname, Dobush, I tried searching for it. Google Book Search turned up some academic works by people with my last name, as well as some Jewish history books (which is intriguing, because that side of my family is Catholic as far as I know). But the best find was a 1916 book titled "Songs of Ukrania: With Ruthenian Poems."

The book's old enough to be in the public domain, and I was able to download a PDF of it. There in the index, under the subheading Robber Songs, is an epic poem titled "The Death of Dobush." It describes an Alexa Dobush as a Carpathian Robin Hood who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Leads to chase for that side of my family tree just got a lot more interesting!

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Tuesday, 28 August 2007 09:31:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 27 August 2007
Genealogy Companies Merge, You Get Free Stuff
Posted by Diane

A genealogy industry merger is resulting in freebies for you. The Israel-based family networking site MyHeritage has finalized its purchase of software and database company Pearl Street Software, and it’s making Pearl Street’s products free.

Those include the $29.95 Family Tree Legends software and Family Tree Legends Records Collection, which debuted for $29.95 per year in 2005 with a variety of indexes to military, vital, court, biography and other records. Pearl Street also ran the pedigree site GenCircles, known for its SmartMatching technology that matches up duplicate search results for an ancestor. Lately, as owners looked for a buyer, the company's sites have stagnated and customers have noticed dwindling support services.

MyHeritage first made a splash back in 2006 with a facial recognition tool that found users' celebrity look-alikes. More gimmick than anything else, it nonetheless got attention from legions of Web surfers and doubtless padded the site's registered users stat to the current 17 million. (Facial recognition's genealogy application: It could match your uploaded photo of Great-Grandma with one your long-lost cousin submitted.)

The just-revamped MyHeritage is now available in 15 languages andhas a free Immersive Family Tree you can use to post your genealogy. Its “Megadex” search will look for surnames in online databases (results link you to the originating site, where you must be a subscriber to access paid content).

The new Look-alike Meter shows you which parent a child resembles more. And now you can create a collage of your famous twin. (I was a fan of TV’s recently concluded “Gilmore Girls,” so imagine my delight with my 83 percent resemblance to the show's Lauren Graham.)

GenCircles and Family Tree Legends will remain online for now, but MyHeritage is joining the sites' databases. To access the free software and record collection, visit Family Tree Legends.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 27 August 2007 11:00:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 24 August 2007
Family Tree Magazine, Simpsonized
Posted by Diane

I guess some people don't have enough ancestors to look for, so they go and research the genealogy of cartoon characters. You can see the family tree of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie on The Simpsons Sites. It lacks source citations and dates, but the researchers did manage to get images of everyone.

And you can masquerade as a member of the Simpson family tree at Simpsonize Me. You upload your photo, then customize your face, hair, clothes and accessories. The Family Tree Magazine staff made a Friday afternoon of it (hey, we worked hard this week).

So here we are: Kathy, art director; Allison, editor; Diane, managing editor; Grace, assistant editor and Pet-i-gree, faithful sidekick.

Genealogy fun
Friday, 24 August 2007 15:10:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 22 August 2007
More New Stuff Spotted at FGS
Posted by Diane

We’ve blogged about Federation of Genealogical Societies conference news from FamilySearch, The Generations Network, RootsTelevision and us here at Family Tree Magazine. We also found these new products and services meant to make your genealogical life easier:
  • World Vital Records has partnered with the National Genealogical Society to provide society management services including member benefits (in the form of World Vital Records subscription discounts), membership renewal processing, online data hosting and a Web platform (on FamilyLink) for member communication.
  • is a not-yet-available service that matches people who have well-defined research tasks that need doing (such as getting an obituary from library microfilm) with experienced—but not necessarily professional—researchers who'll complete them for a fee. Expect a launch by March 2008.
  • FacTree from The Genealogy Shop is a Windows utility for entering data into your genealogy software. The theory is, you type data into an online form that approximates the source document, and facTree puts the data in the right format and place in your software. You can try it free with the 1880 census; other facTree forms cost $3.50.
  • Ages-Online is a Web-based genealogy program you can access from any Internet-connected computer. It has features similar to traditional software and backs up your data nightly, though not all packages support multimedia files. Subscriptions range from $39.95 (Economy) to $109.95 (Deluxe) per year.
  • Several Web sites, such as Geni, Footnote, WeRelate and FamilyLink, have enhanced or added free social networking features that let you upload photos, post research information, build trees and collaborate with other researchers. Watch upcoming issues of Family Tree Magazine for more information on genealogy social networking.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 22 August 2007 16:07:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Made-Over Family Tree Maker Software Debuts
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network released Family Tree Maker 2008, successor to Family Tree Maker 16, after a brief (and unexpected) beta release period.

(The beta version stops working Aug. 24, so export your GEDCOMs now, folks.)

The new version got an extreme overhaul from the previous one, with a pretty look and new features including:
  • An interface that combines elements of a pedigree chart and a family group sheet  (here's the family view)

  • The ability to merge data from anywhere on the Web into your tree
  • Standardized criteria for rating genealogical sources
  • A place-name dictionary with more than 3 million locations
  • Lists that show people and events associated with a particular place
  • Timelines for your ancestors’ lives
  • Data imports from other programs, including Personal Ancestral File, The Master Genealogist and Legacy Family Tree
Read what Family Tree Magazine readers thought of the beta software in our online forum.

Family Tree Maker 2008 costs $39.95, or $54.95 with The Official Guide to Family Tree Maker 2008. As far as I could tell, an upgrade from Family Tree Maker 16 isn’t available, but we're checking on this.

Note Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.

Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 21 August 2007 16:04:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, 20 August 2007
NARA Record Request Fees Go Up Oct. 1
Posted by Diane

We’ve known it was coming since the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) proposed last February to raise its reproduction fees for records you order.

The good news is, it could’ve been worse.

Effective Oct. 1, NARA will charge $75 for a Civil War pension file of up to 100 pages, plus $.65 per additional page (for longer files, staff will contact the requestor with a price quote before filling the order). NARA will charge $50 for pre-Civil War pension files regardless of page count, and $.75 per page to copy other records.

While still a steep increase from the current $37 for a Civil War pension file, these fees are less than the $125 and $60 NARA originally proposed for Civil War and pre-Civil War pensions, respectively. (Still, save some cash by sending your request before October. The July 2007 Family Tree Magazine has instructions for ordering Civil War pensions.)

In the Aug. 17 Federal Register, national archivist Allen Weinstein attributes the change to public comment-inspired alterations in formulas for calculating document reproduction costs. Though its average pension file order was for 106 pages, 65 percent of orders were for files less than 100 pages.

NARA received 1,281 comments during the 60-day comment period. About half the commenters identified themselves as genealogists.

Looks like some comments hit a nerve by saying NARA’s proposal exaggerated actual copying costs. Weinstein wrote, “We firmly reject allegations that the  fees are being raised capriciously for the purpose of supplementing funding for the agency or reducing the number of reproduction orders received.”

He added it’s not practical to compare NARA’s photocopying costs with those of other entities because of archival document considerations including file retrieval and replacement, paper fragility, separating papers from fasteners, placing non-standard-size documents on copiers' glass platens and ensuring image legibility.

Weinstein said NARA lacks funding for digitizing all the Civil War pension files. The agency considers them prime candidates for a digitization partnership, but “there is no near-term alternative to the current process for fulfilling fixed-fee order requests for reproductions of Civil War pension files.”

Libraries and Archives | Public Records
Monday, 20 August 2007 10:25:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Saturday, 18 August 2007
FamilySearch starts new records-access project
Posted by Diane

In the next two years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' FamilySearch will release free online indexes for a long list of genealogical records—150 million images total. Thousands of volunteers are already working fast and furiously on FamilySearch projects to index digitized records, so the church is turning to another source for help with this one: businesses such as The Generations Network, Footnote and others.


For what’s known as the Genesis Project, FamilySearch—the church’s records-scanning arm—has put out a “request for information” seeking interested commercial service providers and records repositories.


FamilySearch will digitize the records, which spokesperson Paul Nauta says is the most expensive part of putting records online, and service providers would index them. Indexes would be free on FamilySearch and on the service provider’s and/or record repository’s Web site.

Targeted record groups include US and British censuses, US county naturalizations, Spanish parish registers, German SS records from the National Archives and Ukraine L’viv church records.
Those entities could choose to charge for access to digitized record images; the images would be free at the LDS church’s Family History Centers.

In other FamilySearch news:

  • FamilySearch’s Family History Library, Allen County Public Library and the Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library are joining to digitize and index 100,000 books in the libraries’ holdings of local and family histories from all across the country. It’ll be the largest collection of its kind on the Web with free access at the BYU library's site. Read more on FamilySearch.
  • Next up for the FamilySearch Indexing Project is the 1930 Mexico Census, Revolutionary War Pensions and Land Warrants, Irish Civil Registration and 1900 US census records for more states.

For more information on FamilySearch records access initiatives, look for the November 2007 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands and Sept. 11.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Saturday, 18 August 2007 10:39:11 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 17 August 2007
Genealogists Solve Audiocassette Mystery
Posted by Grace

Radio station WFMU posted an audio clip on their blog earlier this week—a 60-minute interview between a young woman and a 100-year-old lady, recorded in 1978. (The audio was captured from a cassette tape found at a Goodwill store.) The lady talked about early life in Kansas and her tips for playing the stock market. While the interview revealed some clues, there was no definitive identification.

Sounds like a job for a genealogist! Chris, who maintains the great Web site The Genealogue, did some digging with the little information revealed in the first half of the tape—she never married, her family settled in Newton, Kan., where she still lived in 1978, and her father emigrated from Germany. Using some free databases and a HeritageQuest search, he came up with a name for the woman and he issued a challenge to his readers—can you track down this centenarian?

A half-dozen people (including myself) had confirmed his identification by lunchtime. I won't give away the answer if you want to try to solve the mystery yourself.

Listen to the audio clips here.
See the Genealogue's challenge and the answers here.

Genealogy fun
Friday, 17 August 2007 15:13:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
What's New From the FGS Conference
Posted by Diane

We’re reporting live from the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (which is much better than reporting dead).

Here's visual evidence the Family Tree Magazine staff isn't just goofing off here in Fort Wayne:

In conference news, the social networking site Geni (it's pronounced “jeenee”) is exhibiting at its first national genealogy show, and the site has a lot more features than when we first told you about its debut several months ago. That includes various ways to view and navigate through your family tree, image upload and privacy options. It’s a pretty slick site, and it’s free.

The historical records subscription and pay-per-view site Footnote has enhanced its social features, too. Anyone with a basic (free) membership can create a profile, upload photo and documents, annotate them and add “story pages” about ancestors and records. Footnote webmasters made these elements more noticeable by showing the newest user contributions on the home page. You don’t have to pay to see records members have contributed, either.

Footnote users will be glad to hear a new, more-sophisticated search function is in the works.

Subscription Web site (another Web site you may have heard of) has announced a partnership with the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the oldest genealogical society in the country. You’ll hear more details in a few weeks, but the society will share records with in return for discounted subscriptions for its members.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 17 August 2007 14:48:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 16 August 2007
FGS and RootsTelevision Honor "Roots" 30th Anniversary
Posted by Diane

Chris Haley, nephew of Roots author Alex Haley, strolled into this morning’s Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference opening singing the Banana Boat song (the one that goes “Day-o”). Turns out it’s the 30th anniversary of the publication of Roots, the book some say propelled genealogy fervor to the big time.

The younger Haley—special guest of the genealogy-focused Internet tv station RootsTelevision—is associate reference director for the Maryland archives, makes films and acts (which is why he looked perfectly natural singing the Banana Boat song at 8:11 a.m. to a roomful of people who for a split second didn’t quite know what was happening). You want to see a love of family history personified, that’s him.

Later, Haley turned the tables and interviewed me for RootsTelevision. Snippets will be on the site along with those from other interviews.

RootsTelevision also has added 24 channels, each with segments specializing in a different genealogy topic. All but one are free and you can watch all of it at your convenience.

Genealogists get their own version of YouTube, too: You can upload your genealogy videos to RootsTelevision's RootsTube.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 16 August 2007 18:08:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Heaven at Allen County Library
Posted by Diane

Yesterday, the first day of the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Fort Wayne, Ind., the staff at the nearby Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center shelved 11,460 books and other materials.

That's just a fraction of the largest public library genealogy collection in the country, and conference attendees are eager for the chance to search for ancestors between lectures.

Astounding is a good word for the center. Yesterday we toured some of the giant collection of 350,000+ books (including 55,000 family histories; an impressive array of county histories, school yearbooks and records indexes) and 513,000 “microtexts” (microfilm and microfiche). Those include censuses, passenger lists and more.

Hoosiers and non-Hoosiers come here for the resources covering counties across America, plus countries overseas. The library’s staff are the folks behind the Periodical Source Index, too, which references genealogical and historical periodicals dating back to 1800.

Soon you can see more details in a video of the tour in an online video—we’ll let you know when you can see this truly quality visual experience.

Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, 16 August 2007 17:30:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
New Genealogy Society Fundraiser Announced
Posted by Allison

As the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference kicked off yesterday, the society announced partnerships with several genealogy companies, including our own Family Tree Magazine.

These partnerships are designed to help FGS and its 500-plus member societies earn much-needed funds for programs, volunteer projects and other efforts to benefit and grow the genealogical community. When individual members of FGS societies purchase the partners’ products, those companies will donate a portion of the sales back to the societies.

Family Tree Magazine initiated the partnership program with FGS, and we’ve launched a Web site that makes it easy for member groups to participate in our fundraiser. Societies can go to and download a button to put on their Web sites. Then individual members can visit to society’s site to sign up for a $24 new subscription, and we’ll donate $6 of the proceeds to that member society and $6 to FGS.

Further information and FAQs are on the Web site.
Other partners include genealogy records Web sites Footnote and, and Legacy Family Tree software.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Thursday, 16 August 2007 12:06:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Back to the Future
Posted by Grace

When you're trying to put some life into an ancestor, it's fun to imagine what they'd think of the world now. One of my new favorite blogs, Paleo-Future, gives you an inside look at how our ancestors (and our childhood selves) thought the future would be.

A menu on the right side lets you browse posts by decade, and the earliest (like this one about flying machines as imagined in 1885) are often accompanied by fanciful illustrations from the Library of Congress.

Soon, the blog will highlight responses to its Paleo-Future Project, which aims to preserve the collective memory of the future. If you want to get involved, dig out the digital camera or recorder and start asking questions! Paleo-Future offers a few talking points to get you started, such as "Did you ever try building your own jetpack?"

Here are some more gems:

More Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (1901)
Aerial Navigation Will Never Be Popular (1906)
Food of the Future (Indiana Progress, 1896)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)

Genealogy fun | Social History
Wednesday, 15 August 2007 09:50:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Live from the FGS Conference
Posted by Allison

Family Tree Magazine staffers are at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Fort Wayne, Ind., this week. During the conference, we’ll have the opportunity to tour the new Allen County Public Library facilities—featuring the largest public-library genealogy collection in the country—and catch up on the latest products, services and resources for genealogists. We’ll be sharing that news with you throughout the conference, so stay tuned to the Genealogy Insider blog for updates.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies
Wednesday, 15 August 2007 08:57:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 13 August 2007
Holocaust records on the way
Posted by Grace

Next week, the first batch of digital copies of a major trove of Holocaust-era documents will be transferred to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Allied forces discovered the files at the end of World War II, and they spent the next 60 years stashed away at the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany.

The museum says on its Web site the first installment includes 13.5 million pages, including records of camps, transportation, ghettos and arrest records. Later in the fall, the nearly 40 million index cards containing 17.5 million names will arrive.

Unfortunately, the archive won't be searchable online, but the museum plans to create a database that will let its own archivists quickly respond to your requests for information. When that database is up (watch the museum Web site for an announcement), queries from Holocaust survivors or on behalf of survivors will have priority.

Looking to explore your Jewish roots? Read more in the August 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine, which you can order here. And check out Tracing the Tribe, a blog all about Jewish genealogy.

Libraries and Archives | Public Records
Monday, 13 August 2007 17:14:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 10 August 2007
Calendar Proverbs
Posted by Diane

In earlier times, calendar-based sayings helped shape people’s lives. Family Tree Magazine author Nick D’Alto, who put together an article about online calendar tools for your genealogy research (look for his advice in the November 2007 issue, on newsstands Sept. 11), found a few:

Household Chores

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday.

The Little House Cookbook, which has recipes and background from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series, explains the logic behind the chore schedule: Clean on Friday and bake on Saturday to have a neat house and fresh bread for Sunday, on Monday you wash the dust and flour off your clothes (and do this hard work after a day of rest), then iron and mend the now-clean attire.

When to Marry
Monday for wealth,
Tuesday for health,
Wednesday best day of all,
Thursday for losses,
Friday for crosses,
Saturday, no luck at all.

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But a child born on Sabbath-day
Is always bonny good and gay.

I was born on a Sunday, so I suppose that bodes well. Do you know another calendar-based rhyme? Click Comment to share it.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Social History
Friday, 10 August 2007 15:12:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 08 August 2007
Immortalize Yourself Online
Posted by Diane

If you’re like most of us, you think your life story is nothing special. You know what? Your ancestors thought the same thing of themselves, yet 100 or 300 years later, here you are, doggedly seeking every last detail about their lives. 

Maybe your story isn’t the next New York Times bestseller, but one day your descendants will find it fascinating.

Posting it permanently online is one way to make sure they can get a hold of it (and read your version of events). That's the idea behind, a beta Web site from Eravita, Inc.

Once you register, you write a story and upload your main photo. You can add to the story, add multimedia files and keep an online journal. Anyone can view your pages unless you make them private or place them in a “time capsule” for later release. Family members’ stories are linked. is free for active accounts. After six months of inactivity, the site spends three months attempting to contact the account manager for the $1-per-megabyte “Forever Space" fee. Without payment, the story may be removed.

A user can purchase Forever Space at any time, though, to avoid posthumously sticking relatives with the decision to pay up or doom his opus to deletion.

The nonprofit Story of My Life Foundation gets part of the proceeds to use for keeping stories accessible and technologically current, and making grants to gather stories of people otherwise unable to tell them.

Family Heirlooms | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 08 August 2007 08:40:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 07 August 2007
HistoryKat Adds To Its US Postal Records
Posted by Diane

Do you suspect your ancestor was a mail carrier or other US Postal Service employee? Or maybe he committed mail fraud?

If so, a visit to HistoryKat may be in order. New postal records include:
  • index to railway postal clerks (1883 to 1902)
  • index to postal law violators
  • “first returns” listing postmaster appointees (1789 to 1832)
  • separation cards of terminated letter carriers (1863 to 1899)
  • records of substitute clerks (1899 to 1905) and mail carriers (1899 to 1903)
  • ... and more
Soon to come: postmaster appointments (1832 to 1971) and departmental reports (1837 to 1950). These postal records are hard to come by online.

HistoryKat (brought to you by the same folks who run the Genealogy Toolbox Web portal and TreEZy genealogy search engine) also has records of other government employees, the military, and selected state and territorial censuses. Subscriptions cost $24.95 per year.

Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 07 August 2007 10:21:26 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 03 August 2007
Faster, Better Web Searching for Your Ancestors
Posted by Diane

The following tips will help you target your online ancestor searches. Try them out on our 2007 list of the 101 Best Web Sites for Genealogy—you’ll find these sites in the September 2007 Family Tree Magazine and on

Take a minute to read a site's search instructions. They reveal tricks such as omitting a given name or including wildcards. In’s Exact Matches census searches, for instance, a * after three or more letters of a name represents up to six characters.

Use Boolean operators such as + and - to focus search-engine queries: “tom + clancy -hunt” would help weed out results for the author of The Hunt for Red October, who doesn’t happen to be your great-uncle Tom.

Use search engines to find information on a particular Web site. So to locate’s advice on researching riverboat passengers, you could go to Google and type in riverboat (Note this technique won’t find people in online databases—but see our next tip.) PS: The riverboat advice is on our Now What blog.

• Database searches call up your ancestor’s record only if an indexer entered the same information you’re searching on—so try different approaches. Start by entering all you know about the person. If you don’t get results, search with fewer terms and combinations of terms (such as the person’s name and residence, or his name and birthplace).

Seek alternate name spellings. Check the search tips to see whether a search automatically looks for similar names. Even if it does, try odd spellings: A census taker or an indexer might’ve interpreted the name so outlandishly that a “sounds like” search wouldn’t pick up on it.

• On Web sites with multiple databases, search individual databases one at a time. Those customized search engines often include fields you won’t get with the site’s global search.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Friday, 03 August 2007 12:09:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 02 August 2007
Allen County Library Records To Be Digitized
Posted by Diane

The subscription and pay-per-view records service announced it will digitize records in the Allen County Public Library's genealogy collection. That library, located in Fort Wayne, Ind., has the largest public genealogy collection in the United States.
The digitized records will be available free at the library and for a fee on Footnote. (We’ll let you know when we learn which records are up first, and when you’ll be able to access them online.)
Footnote has been around since 1997 (it was called iArchives), but made its splash on the genealogy scene early this year, when it announced a partnership to digitize records at the National Archives and Records Administration. It also has agreements with the Pennsylvania state archives, FamilySearch and other repositories.

Update: I spoke yesterday with Footnote's Justin Schroepfer, who said the Allen County Library staff is deciding which records to start digitizing—so of course, he doesn't yet know when you'll see the first images online. Stay tuned. 

A Footnote subscription costs $7.95 per month or $59.95 per year, or you can pay to view an individual record image for $1.95. The site offers a few free databases, including UFO reports.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, 02 August 2007 16:55:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]