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# Friday, 28 September 2007
Oktoberfest in "Zinzinnati"
Posted by Diane

German is the ancestry Americans most often claim, and Family Tree Magazine’s hometown, Cincinnati, could run for flag-bearer. We're so German that one of the city's oldest neighborhoods is called Over the Rhine.

Our Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, which I attended last weekend, is the biggest Oktoberfest outside Munich. We’re proud of our world record for the largest group chicken dance: In 1994, the visiting Crown Prince of Bavaria led 48,000 of us in tweet-tweeting our hands and flapping our elbows to Der Vogerltanz. (We held the title until 1997.)

This year, BallinStadt, the Hamburg emigration museum that opened in July, even sent someone to tell Oktoberfest revelers how they could learn about their German ancestors’ departure for America.

Our Oktoberfest is also a gold mine for lovers of goetta (prounounced get-uh), aka "Cincinnati caviar." The story is German immigrants brought us this peasant dish, meant to stretch meat supplies.

Goetta is mostly ground pork and pinhead (steel-cut) oats seasoned with bay leaves, rosemary, salt, pepper, and thyme, then boiled, sliced into square patties and fried. My mom made it for breakfast, but any time is goetta time at Oktoberfest:

In summer, a local Goettafest offers even more variety, including, for the truly devoted, goetta fudge. Tasty.

Hungry? You’ll find recipes for goetta here and here.

Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun
Friday, 28 September 2007 16:32:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 27 September 2007
Facebook Adds A Family Tree Application
Posted by Diane

If you have a Facebook account, you can add an application called Family Tree to your profile that lets you, well, create a family tree. It’s from a new company called iFamily that specializes in developing applications for Facebook.

So far this is more a fun way to share your relatives’ names than a genealogical tool, since you can enter only basic information. You also can select up to three “heritages” (based on ancestral countries of origin) and designate Favorite Family Members (but maybe make sure the unchosen ones can’t access your profile).

Once you add the Family Tree application, you can view others who are using it, but you can’t see their trees—only the heritage and favorite relatives information is visible. Of couse, you need a Facebook profile before you can do any of this.

Family Tree developers promise GEDCOM imports, tree sharing and a family finder are coming.

Even without those genealogist-friendly attributes, Facebook's Family Tree app could be a cool way for the social networking set—which tends to be younger and probably hipper than most—to get into family history research. Users have downloaded the application 20,000 times and created more than 62,000 family tree profiles.

Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 27 September 2007 13:58:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, 26 September 2007
New Grand Army of the Republic Records Resource
Posted by Diane

If you read the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine article on Civil War ancestors, you know Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) records are a promising resource—some 40 percent of Union veterans joined their local GAR posts.

But you also know the GAR wasn’t a centralized organization, and post records are dispersed among state archives and historical societies (sometimes with microfilmed copies at the Family History Library), with sporadic indexes.

GAR help is here: Missouri historian Dennis Northcott is compiling a book series transcribing information from GAR death rolls. The three books he’s published so far include name, military unit and rank, death date, and post information for 90,000 GAR members in several Midwestern states: Illinois; Indiana; and Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. (Note if your ancestor moved, he would've joined a post in his new state, not the state from which he served.) Now Northcott's working on Ohio and Pennsylvania.

He's posted all the names from the series on his Web site. If you think you've found your ancestor, you can order the book ($30) or look for it at your library.

Armed with the GAR post location and information from the bibliographies in Northcott’s books, you can start your search for GAR rosters, meeting minutes and other records.

For more research resources, see our online Civil War genealogy roundup.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Wednesday, 26 September 2007 13:02:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Family Tree Magazine on Roots Television
Posted by Diane

I've made it to the small screen! You might remember my Aug. 16 blog about talking to Chris Haley (Maryland state archivist, actor, singer and nephew of Roots' Alex Haley) at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference.

Roots Television has posted our 5-minute interview. We chatted a little about Family Tree Magazine, but mostly about why genealogists do what they do. Check it out, along with other videos from the conference, and browse around the other instructional, historical and entertaining programming while you're there.

Hollywood, here I come!

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 15:21:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 24 September 2007
Watching "The War" on PBS
Posted by Diane

In case you missed the teasers: The War, a Ken Burns series airing this week and next on PBS, is definitely worth scheduling your evenings around.

Through interviews with more than 40 men and women, photos and footage from the era, the series shows how World War II impacted the lives of people from four towns: Mobile, Ala.; Sacramento, Calif.; Waterbury, Conn.; and Luverne, Minn.

I saw the first two parts last night. The descriptions of soldiers’ experiences in battle are powerful; so are the memories of people at home.

The series is airing in seven episodes; check your tv listings or for broadcast schedules. You can read more, meet the witnesses; and explore photos, letters and other source material by topic on The War’s Web site.

Genealogy Web Sites | Social History
Monday, 24 September 2007 10:03:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Proceedings of London's Old Bailey Courthouse Online
Posted by Diane

I came across a cool resource while researching our Now What blog question about convicts sentenced to indentured servitude abroad.

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1674 to 1834 is a searchable version of the accounts of more than 100,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.

Elizabeth Cox is one of the “non-elite” (as the site calls them) whose trials are detailed here. On Oct. 8, 1684, she was found guilty of petty larceny for stealing a silk gown from George Winterton’s shop. Her sentence? Whipping.

The same day, a “notorious thief” named Anne Parker, who’d been convicted three times of stealing silver from households where she was employed as servant, received respite from her death sentence due to pregnancy.

You can browse by date or search the trials on a name, date, keyword, crime, place and a variety of other terms. Click a match for a transcription of the trial account, links to other trials the same day, plus a digitized image of the account as it appeared in the original volumes of Old Bailey proceedings.

The site also offers fascinating background information on the courthouse, laws of the day, the gender factor in criminal proceedings, and London communities.

Even better, a digitization project is underway for trials from 1834 to 1913.

court records | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | Social History
Monday, 24 September 2007 08:51:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 21 September 2007
More New Genealogy Social Networking Sites
Posted by Diane

We've come across additions to the genealogy social networking world:
  • FamilyInHistory lets you create a tree by uploading a GEDCOM and adding photos and stories. You can grant others access to contribute images and stories, too. Though you can edit the stories, photos and events on your family’s timeline, you can’t edit genealogical data once it's on the site—instead, you’d need to upload a new GEDCOM.
After a 30-day free trial, FamilyInHistory costs from $8.49 to $18.49 per month.
Before signing on, check out similar free sites, such as SharedTree, Geni (where you can collaborate with relatives on a tree, but can’t yet upload a GEDCOM—a spokesperson told me to expect GEDCOM uploads by the end of the year) or Member Trees (you can build a free tree even if you don’t have an subscription, but nonsubscribers can’t access results of the automated database searches).
  • FamilyRelatives, a site with UK census, vital registration, parish and other records, has added free social networking. FamilyRelatives is more profile-based than most genealogy social networking sites: Rather than build a tree, you create a profile, enter family data (no GEDCOM uploads yet) and attach records (FamilyLink, which debuted earlier this year, works similarly). You can search and view other members’ profiles and leave comments, and the site automatically matches your relatives’ names with the same names in other profiles.
To search FamilyRelatives’ record databases, you’ll need a subscription ($75 for a year) or a pay-per-view account (50 units cost $10; 150 units cost $23.50).
We'll help you choose which social networking site best suits your needs in the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands and Dec. 18.

Addition: Yet another new site we've learned of,, is meant to function as Web-based genealogy software and a social networking site rolled up in one. A 30-day free trial lets you create a tree, import a GEDCOM, add 20 photos to an album, invite relatives to join in and surname-search all the site's trees. After the trial, you can opt for a $95.88 12-month or $59.94 six-month subscription.

If you take a pass on paying, you'll be moved to the free basic plan. Niether the trial period nor the basic plan lets you export a GEDCOM from your tree. (It's not clear on the site what other features the basic plan includes.)

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 21 September 2007 10:26:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Family Tree Maker 2008 Service Packs
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network has released a patch called Service Pack 1 to fix performance problems in its recently released Family Tree Maker 2008.

The company sent users an e-mail about Service Pack 1; those who’ve registered their programs should’ve received an automatic update notification upon opening the program. If you didn’t, go to Family Tree Maker’s Web site for instructions on downloading the patch.

The e-mail message also said The Generations Network will release Service Pack 2 in October to restore several popular report formats from previous Family Tree Maker versions. You can read the full text of the e-mail on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter blog.

Family Tree Maker 2008, a near-complete rewrite of the popular genealogy software, has inspired impassioned commentary from many who've tried it. See what some of them had to say on the Forum.

(PS: I always feel compelled to mention Family Tree Magazine isn't affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.)

Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 09:56:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 18 September 2007
Selected New York Times Articles Now Free
Posted by Grace

Great news this morning (via the Genealogy Blog): The New York Times has made large sections of its online archive free. Articles from 1851 to 1923 are in the public domain and available for download, and stories published in the last 20 years are also free. Articles published between 1923 and 1986 are available for a fee.

If you go to the New York Times site, you can enter your search terms in the bar near the top of the page and select whether you want to search articles since 1981 or before 1981. Once you have your results, you can select the Advanced option to limit your search to specific dates. The stories are downloadable as PDF documents. (If you happen across articles that aren't in the free years, they're $4.95 each, or you can get a monthly pass for $7.95 that allows 100 story downloads.)

I went hog wild and found a lot of fascinating articles. You don't have to have New York City roots to find good material. None of my ancestors' names turned up in the search, but I found great articles about the ships my ancestors came over from Europe on. (For example, two months before my great-grandfather arrived, an emergency appendectomy was performed on the S.S. Uranium with the E string from a violin.)

You should also try searching for your hometown, just for fun. I discovered an article about a Wellington, Ohio, dairy magnate's campaign against oleomargarine and "filled cheese" in 1894. After his impassioned speech, he raised $150 for the cause in just a few minutes.

Give the search a try, and leave me a comment about your own good finds!

Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Tuesday, 18 September 2007 10:33:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 13 September 2007
DNA Consulting to Launch Genetic Genealogy Forum
Posted by Diane

DNA Consulting is planning an online forum called DNA Ancestor Communities for genealogists who’ve taken DNA tests.

I got a sneak peek at the site, to launch this week at The forum has boards for people whose tests have revealed European, Native American, Melungeon and “World” (non-European) heritages, plus a general Q&A board.

On request from DNA Consultants customers, monitors for each category will search updated versions of the OmniPop DNA comparison database. (Users tested by another company can order searches and analysis for $120.) The OmniPop database, which DNAConsulting licenses, contains DNA test results from volunteers. It’s also free online but can be pretty tricky for laypeople to use.

DNA Ancestor Communities monitors also can help forum members learn to use another online comparison database from the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes.

DNA Consulting staff will answer genetic genealogy questions on the site's General Discussion board. Principal investigator Donald Yates says he hopes the site will help people understand results from DNA Consulting's DNA Fingerprint test, but you don’t have to be a customer to join the forum.

Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, 13 September 2007 08:06:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 12 September 2007
Campaign Raising Funds for Ellis Island Restoration
Posted by Diane

A “Save Ellis Island” ad on piqued my curiosity today. The ad is part of a national fundraising campaign called We Are Ellis Island that launched Aug. 17.

Genealogists and the American public are intimately familiar with (and grateful for) the Great Hall on Ellis Island, which was restored and opened as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in the 1990s.

Those behind We Are Ellis Island—a nonprofit called Save Ellis Island and Arrow, a division of clothing company Phillips-Van Heusen Corp—hope to raise enough to restore the deteriorating buildings that remain. That includes the three structures of the Hospital Complex (read about them here).

Arrow donated $500,000 to finish restoring the Ferry Building, which reopened April 2.

You can visit the We Are Ellis Island campaign Web site to donate, share your family’s Ellis Island story (you must register first) and upload pictures.

The campaign also includes television and print advertising. All feature photographs of famous folks, including actor Christian Slater, American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee and football star Joe Montana, wearing Arrow apparel and posing attractively inside the unrestored buildings. The celebrities’ Ellis Island stories are among those on the site.

Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 12 September 2007 16:31:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 11 September 2007
The Hottest News from 1775
Posted by Grace

Even if you don't trace your roots back to Colonial Massachusetts, you'll get a kick out of the attention to detail at the Boston 1775 blog.

J.L. Bell, the author of the blog, unearths tidbits every day about the beginnings of the American Revolution. It's "Back to School" week now, which means lots of information and anecdotes about past education practices.

The blog is a real trove of information. Links on the lower right side of the page let you explore the blog's archives by topic, such as dentistry, Continental soldiers and all names that are mentioned. On the left side of the blog, you can access links to related blogs and Colonial history resources.

Click here to get the latest from 1775.

Genealogy Web Sites | Social History
Tuesday, 11 September 2007 11:52:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 10 September 2007
Famillion Touts Celebrity Connections
Posted by Diane

Another free genealogy social networking site called Famillion has been in the news. It’s headquartered in Israel (as is MyHeritage, which recently purchased Pearl Street Software).

Famillion, which has family tree building capabilities, photo albums and profile pages, says its Tree Merging Technology will locate overlaps in trees and suggest relationships (this sounds similar to the SmartMatching feature in Pearl Street’s languishing GenCircles pedigree database).

Famillion also just announced a GEDCOM upload to ease the job of entering family information.

The site looks slick and its “connect the world” tagline is noble, but the webmasters seem drawn to hyperbole. The About window says “You might… find connections to the world's Albert Einsteins, Madonnas and Bill Gates. You may find yourself chatting with Angelina Jolie.”

Somehow I think Angie’s a little too busy with Brad, Maddox, Zahara, Shiloh and Pax to chat me up online.

That claim and the celebrity photos on the home page smack of a too-obvious attempt to capitalize on America’s Hollywood obsession. The same could be said of MyHeritage and its celebrity lookalike photo search, though that site redeems itself with downloadable genealogy software and a search engine.
On the plus side, maybe non-genies will come to these sites looking for celebrity connections and get hooked on exploring their own mere-mortal family histories.

Meanwhile, we’ll research celebrity roots if we think they commingle with our own, but we’re too busy climbing brick walls to be genealogical paparazzi.

Celebrity Roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 10 September 2007 10:42:11 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 07 September 2007 and More Swedish Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane has launched a Swedish Web site, Accessible with a $299.40-per-year ($29.95 per month) World Deluxe membership, the site contains Swedish emigration records with 1.4 million names, and vital records from 81 Lutheran parishes in Sweden’s Varmland County.

The same records are also available through’s US records collection ($155.40 per year). Note they’re not linked to digitized original records.

The original emigration data comes from a CD called Emigranten Populär. Data were culled from various records including passport lists, passenger lists and correspondence. For more on what you can learn from the records, see’s “about” page for that database.

You can buy a version of the database on a two-CD set called Emigranten for $190 from Göteborgs-Emigranten in Göteborg. Other Swedish record sources you can check out:
  • Emigrantslistor, passenger-list information from 1851 to 1940 the police department kept for Stockholm. The Family History Library has this on microfilm, as well as emigrations through other Swedish ports.
  • Emibas, a CD of 1.1 million emigrants listed in between 1845 and 1930. It’s available from Ancestors Swedish.
  • Genline has digitized virtually all Swedish church records and made them searchable in its database. Access costs around $370 for a year; you also can buy shorter subscriptions and take advantage of special offers.
  • SVAR, a division of Sweden's national archives, offers a smaller collection of digitized church records, as well as some censuses and vital records (click the English icon on the Web site). It costs about $146 per year, with shorter subscriptions and other packages available.
For more help, use our Swedish online ethnic toolkit and see the October 2006 Family Tree Magazine (sold out from our back issues store, but ask for it at your library).

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, 07 September 2007 17:03:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 05 September 2007
New Resource for Newspaper Personals
Posted by Diane

Speaking of newspapers (see below), the webmaster behind the GenealogyBuff search engine has helped start a site called with transcribed personals columns from old papers.

It's free to search or browse by place. The site's small, but you can submit your own transcriptions by e-mail. See the PersonalButPolite Update blog to keep track of additions.

Personals then were a far cry from today's "man seeking woman..." ads. You could find short announcements of local residents' comings and goings and births and deaths, as well as people looking for lost friends.

Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 05 September 2007 10:33:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Research Family Reunions in Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Next time you're using a database of historic newspapers, try this tip from Tom Kemp, of the GenealogyBank subscription newspaper site: Look for articles about your kin's family reunions.

Society pages in old newspapers would report on local gatherings, often with names of the family patriarch and out-of-town or well-known attendees. You can download a few examples from GenealogyBank's free downloads page.

Search for family surnames and the words family reunion. Try adding a place if you get a lot of hits. Kemp also suggests searching for reunions of high schools and colleges and military units.

A subscription to GenealogyBank costs $19.95 per month or $89.95 per year. Many public libraries offer cardholders free access to its sister database, NewsBank, through their Web sites.

Other resources include's newspapers ($155.40 per year in the US Records Collection) and the growing newspaper databases at World Vital Records ($49.95 for two years).

You'll find more options for finding newspapers both online and in libraries on

Also see the newspaper research guide in the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine.

Family Reunions | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Wednesday, 05 September 2007 10:12:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 04 September 2007 Launches DNA Beta Site
Posted by Diane

Back in June, The Generations Network (TGN) acquired Relative Genetics and its test results database from Sorenson Genomics. (See our blog report.)

Now we’re seeing the fruits of that union on the DNA Ancestry beta site. There, you can order Y-DNA tests for $149 (33 markers) or $199 (46 markers), or mtDNA tests for $179. On the overview and ordering pages, you get information on the tests, and you can see a sample test results report. Trace Your Roots with DNA (Rodale, $14.95) co-author Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak became TGN’s chief family historian early this year, so expect good-quality background information.

Those with a free registration will be able to search a test-result database and enter results from other companies’ tests.

The Relative Genetics site will be phased out by the end of 2007. See DNA Ancestry's FAQ page for more information.

Look for more genetic genealogy help in upcoming issues of Family Tree Magazine. Also see the October 2006 Family Tree Magazine’s user-friendly testing guide (sold out from our back issues store, but ask for it at your library).

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, 04 September 2007 09:24:34 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]