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# Thursday, 31 January 2008
World Vital Records Launches International Collection
Posted by Diane

Starting Monday, Feb. 4, FamilyLink's World Vital Records subscription database site will be outfitted with a new, gargantuan World Collection of international records.

Built through partnerships with more than 20 record-holding organizations, the World Collection has more than 1.5 billion records from about 35 countries, including England, Canada, Australia, France, Ireland, Scotland, Hungary and Portugal. It’ll double World Vital Records’ offerings.

Some of the new collection's major components:
  • UK census records (1851 to 1901) from, to be posted county-by-county through out the year, including record images
  • newspapers from Australia, the Bahamas, Chile, Ecuador, England, Ireland, Canada and Mexico
Other partners include Archive CD Books businesses in Canada and Australia, Irish reference publisher Eneclann, the Godfrey Memorial Library in Connecticut, UK records site British Origins and Australian book distributor Gould Genealogy.

The World Collection, which includes the US Collection records already on World Vital Records, costs $149.95 per year, but you can sign up for $99.95 until Feb.4. [Note: We've just learned of a new World Collection discount—$119.95 if you sign up by Feb. 11.]

The US Collection by itself costs $49.95 per year, or you can get two years for $79.95 if you sign up by Feb. 4.

We're going to give the World Collection a whirl and report back. If you try it, click Comment and let us know what you think.

Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Thursday, 31 January 2008 17:02:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Great Registers are Great California Resource
Posted by Diane

California’s “Great Registers”--the voter registration lists counties published by law every two years—are now searchable on the subscription database service

They contain more than 30 million names of people who registered to vote from 1900 to 1944 (and through 1968 for a few counties). Their frequency makes them great for filling gaps between federal censuses.

Search by name and county, then click on a name in the results to see a digitized images of the registration books page showing that person. You’ll see his or her name, occupation, address and party affiliation. Some registers show an age, and early ones may give naturalization details. This one is from 1916.

Women received the right to vote in 1911 in California, so you won’t see them in the Great Registers until 1912.'s images came from the collections of the California State Library in Sacramento—where you can access the lists from 1866 to 1898, too. Local libraries and genealogical societies in California often have Great Registers for their areas, and many counties' lists are on Family History Library microfilm (you can borrow it though your local Family History Center).

Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Thursday, 31 January 2008 09:23:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 30 January 2008
25,000 Acres of Civil War Battlefields Protected
Posted by Diane

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), a group that preserves Civil War battlefields from encroaching development, did some math and announced its 2007 stats.

Last year, CWPT secured the permanent protection of 1,616 acres at 12 battlefields in five states: Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia

One of those site is the Glendale battlefield (also called Frazier's Farm) in Henrico County, Va., where three Confederate divisions converged the retreating Union Army June 30, 1862.

An estimated 75 percent of Glendale's core fighting area is now preserved, at a price of $4.1 million. CWPT works by purchasing acreage or conservation easements (legally enforceable preservation agreements with landowners).

CWPT's 2007 totals pushed it past the 25,000 milestone: Over two decades, the group has protected 25,289 acres of battlefields at 99 sites in 18 states.

On tap so far for 2008: Passage of the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, which reauthorizes government funding for matching grants to preserve Civil War battlefields.

Historic preservation
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 15:10:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 29 January 2008
New Online Magazine Highlights African-American Genealogy
Posted by Diane

The Washington Post today launched The Root, an online magazine for African-Americans.

It covers current events and culture, but its name says genealogy. So does its editor—Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard University history professor who became a household name after helping Mae Jemison, Oprah Winfrey and other well-known African-Americans find their roots in PBS' 2006 series “African-American Lives.”

One of the online magazine's three main sections, Roots features an article on getting started, a video about ethnic DNA testing and several book recommendations. It also has video clips from this season’s "African-American Lives 2," in which Gates works with more famous folks and one applicant from the ranks of everyday citizens.

From there, the Mapping and Family Tree links both go to a free family tree builder (you must register to use it). The DNA link, after flashing past a disclosure faster than one could hope to comprehend the first sentence, takes you to Gates’ AfricanDNA testing and research service.

I’m hoping to see this site grow—especially considering its name, there’s so much more to African-American genealogy research and resources than it currently covers.

African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 15:58:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 25 January 2008
Search Great Western Railway Shareholders on British Site
Posted by Diane

British genealogy database site FindMyPast has added the first names from an index to Great Western Railway Shareholders.

This release has records dating from 1835 to 1910. Ultimately, you’ll be able to search information on 290,000 people—including 77,000 shareholders, plus executors and spouses—dating from 1835 to 1932.

Most of the records cover shareholders’ deaths, since the change in share ownership had to be registered. If your ancestor’s in here, you could see his or her name; address; date of death, probate, marriage or other event; and the names of the other parties.

The Great Western Railway, built so Bristol could compete with Liverpool as a commercial port, was founded in 1833 and became the Western Region of British Railways when the railway was nationalized in 1948. It linked London to the West Country, South Wales and the southwest England.

FindMyPast registered users can view details on shareholders with seven pay-per-view units ($14.30 for 60 units) or an Explorer subscription (about $178).

The original shareholders’ records are at the Society of Genealogists’ London headquarters.

Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 25 January 2008 15:50:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 24 January 2008
SeqWright Launches Genome Profiling Service
Posted by Diane

Someone else wants to map your genome. Houston-based SeqWright Inc. just launched SeqWright GPS, a genomic profiling service that evaluates your miniscule genomic variations called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, or SNPs (“snips”).

Similar to the recently launched 23andMe, SeqWright customers can use online tools to learn your risk for certain diseases, compare your traits to those of family members who’ve been tested and explore your ancient ancestry. You won’t learn whether you’re related to someone, but rather, which broadly defined population groups you most likely come from.

SeqWright’s Web site is less friendly-looking than 23andMe's, which obviously benefits from Google’s financial investment, and doesn’t make quite as much effort to explain scientific lingo. At $998, SeqWright’s test is $1 less than 23andMe’s.

Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, 24 January 2008 16:04:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Reconstructing East German Records
Posted by Grace

East German citizens were aware the Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security) could know everything about their lives. At its peak, the Stasi, as it was familiarly known, employed 91,000 agents in the country of 16.4 million and had hundreds of thousands of informants. But it was not until the GDR began to crumble in 1989 that the concept became palpable, Andrew Curry reports in Wired magazine.

It was discovered that the Stasi had generated enough paper to fill 100 miles of shelves, and it indexed and cross-referenced 5.6 million names in its central card catalog. In the Stasi's final days, officials destroyed about 5 percent of its records before citizens stopped them. Truckloads of paper were taken to industrial shredders, and as the end neared, agents began ripping files by hand. They stored the scraps in paper bags in the archive.

In the mid '90s, a team started piecing the 45 million torn pages together manually, at a rate that would have led to completion in about 700 years. But a new scanning project looks like it will lead to the files being recreated—and shared with the public—much sooner.

Funded by the German government, the Fraunhofer Institute has created a method for double-sided scanning of the scraps and sorting the images by color of paper, type of paper and method of writing. If the pilot project for 400 bags of scraps is successful, it will get the go ahead for tackling the remaining 16,000 bags of paper. It's estimated to cost about $300 million, but the archivists say it's worth it. Wired reports:

Günter Bormann, the BStU's senior legal expert, says there's an overwhelming public demand for the catharsis people find in their files. "When we started in 1992, I thought we'd need five years and then close the office," Bormann says. Instead, the Records Office was flooded with half a million requests in the first year alone. Even in cases where files hadn't been destroyed, waiting times stretched to three years. In the past 15 years, 1.7 million people have asked to see what the Stasi knew about them.

To read the entire fascinating article, click here.

Libraries and Archives | Social History
Wednesday, 23 January 2008 13:13:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 22 January 2008
Changes for FindMyPast; FamilyLink
Posted by Diane

Two news bits on the genealogy biz:
  • Scotland Online, parent company of the genealogy data service ScotlandsPeople, has purchased the UK records site FindMyPast with plans to “establish a world-class online network of family history resources.”
ScotlandsPeople has birth records, censuses, vital registrations and wills from Scotland. FindMyPast (the former 1837Online) is known for its British vital registration, census and outgoing passenger records. Each company’s online resources will be unaffected by the merger and niether will relocate its headquarters, according to an announcement.
  • Back stateside, the genealogy database and social networking business World Vital Records is changing its name to FamilyLink. The renamed company will still call its database site World Vital Records, and its social networking site FamilyLink.

Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, 22 January 2008 08:39:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 21 January 2008
Sites About Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
Posted by Diane

Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day—that’s today—by learning a bit about the man who received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. These are some of my favorite Web sites about King and the history of the movement:

Civil Rights, 1954 to 1963
This timeline links to King's “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and John F. Kennedy’s June 11, 1963, speech supporting passage of the Civil Rights Act.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
This Web site for PBS’ program explains the laws that enforced segregation from the end of Reconstruction through the 1960s.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home Tour
Take a virtual tour of the home at Atlanta’s 501 Auburn Avenue, King was born Jan. 15, 1929.

Civil Rights Walk of Fame
Meet other leaders in the Civil Rights Movement.

Social History
Monday, 21 January 2008 09:15:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 18 January 2008
Studying the States
Posted by Diane

You might notice I've been slightly quieter around here lately. That’s because I’m cramming for an appearance on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

OK, that’s not actually true. But I feel like I am. I’ve been learning all kinds of interesting facts about US history and geography while editing Family Tree Magazine State Research Guides like crazy for a compilation CD we’re planning to put out this spring.

Oh, haven’t we mentioned that already? Yes, the CD will contain our research guides for all 50 states, plus bonus material including help tracing roots in Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. So I’m back to reading about Mississippi school censuses and the Vicksburg National Military Park, and you can bet we’ll keep you updated.

Have a great weekend!

Family Tree Magazine articles
Friday, 18 January 2008 17:00:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 17 January 2008
How not to Begin Your Family History
Posted by Grace

After an excruciatingly long absence, the Genealogue has returned to regular blogging, with a hilarious list of the 10 worst ways to begin your family history.

For example:

4. "My father, Mr. Smith, was probably between eighteen and forty-eight years of age when he met his future wife, Mary [--?--]." 

The list had Allison giggling in her cubicle like a schoolgirl. Click here to read the whole story.

Genealogy fun
Thursday, 17 January 2008 16:16:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 15 January 2008
A Photo Doctor That Makes House Calls
Posted by Allison

On this blog and in our January 2008 issue, we introduced you to some batch photo-scanning services that will quickly and affordably digitize hundreds and even thousands of family photos. The drawback with really old photographs, of course, is you'd have to let those irreplaceable images of your possession.

A Seattle company has the remedy to that dilemma: Memeria will actually bring a high-volume scanner to your house and scan your photos on site—accomplishing in a couple of hours what might take you weeks or months to do on your home scanner, says Memeria president Anthony Miller. "This gives people more time to work on their scrapbooks and genealogy instead of scanning."

The service costs 25 cents per photo, with minimum orders ranging from $50 to $200. Memeria currently serves only the Seattle area, but plans to expand. If you live nearby and are considering a photo digitization project, give the service a look.

Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, 15 January 2008 14:05:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 14 January 2008
Family Tree Firsts—Part Four
Posted by Grace

This weekend I made my first excursion to a Family History Center. Practically every article we publish in Family Tree Magazine recommends going to your local FHC, not only because you have access to the Family History Library’s massive collection of microfilm but also because the volunteers are so helpful!

I gathered my ever-growing file folder of notes and photocopies and headed to the FHC in Norwood, Ohio, to see what I could find. The center is only open for a few hours a day, and since it was a Saturday, there were researchers at nearly every microfilm and computer station.

I struck up a conversation with the volunteers and learned quite a bit about their holdings. The Norwood FHC has many rolls of microfilm on permanent hold from the FHL, and quite an impressive selection of Cincinnati-specific records. They've got most of their rolls of film indexed in the card catalog you see above. (The volunteers recommend asking before you request any roll of microfilm to double-check if it is available locally. You could save $5.50!)

Most of my family is in Northeastern Ohio, but I did find a roll of Cuyahoga County birth records in the local holdings. One of the volunteers retrieved it for me and helped me get set up at a microfilm reader, and I began poking around the index and the recorded births. My great-grandmother's birth record didn't appear to be on the roll, but the index for her year did not seem to be complete. An FHC volunteer told me that births in the early 1900s were often recorded months or even years after the fact, so there's no telling where my great-grandmother would show up.

I did make one big discovery while I was at the FHC—I found out that I get very queasy looking at microfilm. Will this be the end of my genealogy quest?

Earlier in Family Tree Firsts:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Family Tree Firsts | FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives
Monday, 14 January 2008 13:12:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 11 January 2008 Tree Migrations Hit a Rough Patch
Posted by Diane

I was surfing around, seeing what’s going on, and came across an issue causing quite a stir.

A few weeks ago, The Generations Network announced it was shutting down the technologically ancient Online Family Trees system, which members have used since 1999 to store genealogical information online free.

The company will focus on the newer, also free Ancestry Family Trees system, introduced in 2006.

OFT users have until March 2008 to migrate their trees to AFT. It seems the migration process has been rife with problems, as you'll see on the blog (also see's 24/7 Family History Circle blog).

OFT users have complained of lost notes (notes are private in AWT, or take the form of stories and comments), data transfer errors and displeasure with the AWT system.

The Generations Network's blogger, Kenny Freestone, says a heretofore unknown GEDCOM format problem has caused errors in about 30 percent of the migrations from OFT to AFT, and that the problem will be fixed.

In the meantime, if you have a tree on OFT, don’t delete it (migrating your tree doesn't automatically delete it), and go ahead and export a GEDCOM and save it to your hard drive.

Note this doesn't affect the files in Ancestry World Tree, which contains the same files as RootsWeb's WorldConnect.

Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 11 January 2008 17:14:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 10 January 2008
Morse Adds One-Step Tools for Genetic Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Steve Morse, creator of the One-Step search tools Web site, has added genetic genealogy utilities to his site.

Rather than find matches in genetic genealogy databases (we’d love to see that utility), these free tools help you learn more about your DNA test results. Three of the tools work using data from the FamilyTreeDNA Web site, so customers of other companies will have to pass on those. The tools include:
  • FamilyTreeDNA Markers: Use this one to view your Y-chromosome test results from FamilyTreeDNA—just enter your kit and code numbers.
  • Haplogroups: Anyone who's taken a Y-DNA test can get a pretty good idea of his haplogroup by entering his STR marker values. (If you're a FamilyTreeDNA client, just enter your kit and code number.) As Morse explains, haplogroups are defined by SNP markers, but you usually don’t get SNP values in a Y-DNA test report. STR marker values, though, can predict a haplogroup.
  • Group Chart: Here, you can generate a DNA chart for a group of people for easier test results comparison. Each group member must have tested with FamilyTreeDNA.
  • Distances: FamilyTreeDNA clients can use their group chart (generated with the Group Chart tool) to compute the genetic distances among members of the group.   
  • Migration Details: Select your haplogroup from a dropdown menu to get a description of your ancient ancestors’ migrations across the globe. You’ll see shifts in haplogroups and the mutation numbers that defined the shifts, along with the geographic location and time range the mutation took place.
  • Migration Map: Select your haplogroup to generate a visual representation of the migration details described above.
See the DNA toolkit on for genetic genealogy advice, explanations and resources.

Steve Morse also has created One-Step Tools for searching online databases such as and (you must subscribe to to see search results from its databases). You'll find hints for using the tools in the February 2007 Family Tree Magazine

Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, 10 January 2008 13:18:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
"No, not a gerontologist"
Posted by Grace

Schelly Talalay Dardashti has posted a question on her Tracing the Tribe blog: How do people react when you tell them you're a genealogist?

As Schelly writes:

Do they ask how many babies you've delivered—thinking you said gynecologist; what caves or oil fields you've discovered—confusing you with a geologist; or simply think you are strange for happily shlepping through cemeteries looking for dead people (which, you must admit, is a good place to find them)?

Read the whole hilarious post and post your own comments by clicking here.

Genealogy fun
Thursday, 10 January 2008 09:25:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 09 January 2008
Blog Readers Await WWI Soldier's Letters
Posted by Diane

A British war blog is getting a lot of attention lately. What’s unusual is that it’s from World War I—in a way.

On WWI: Experiences of an English Soldier, blogger Bill Lamin is posting letters his grandfather William Henry "Harry" Bonser Lamin wrote from the trenches in France, Italy and elsewhere in Europe during World War I. Each letter appears 90 years to the day after it's dated.

Readers don’t know whether a letter is Harry’s last, just as Harry’s family—sisters Kate and Annie; brother, Jack; wife, Ethel; son Willie; and niece, Connie (whom Harry and Ethel cared for)—didn’t know.

The letters, which Lamin found in his parents’ home, are filled with battle descriptions, complaints about tight quarters and spare rations, thanks for parcels from home, and requests for more missives from family. Harry dated this letter July 14, 1917:
I’m in good health but we have had a rough time this last week or two going on working parties at night digging trenches and one thing and another. One night we were between our lines and the Germans but we all came out alright. It’s a bit rough but it might be worse.
Lamin supplements the letters with photos, updates from genealogical research on the family, and details from the battalion’s official war diary, which you also can read in a separate blog. (Learn more about British battalion and unit war diaries here.)

If you want to find out more about an American WWI soldier, see the WWI research guide in the November 2007 Family Tree Magazine and use the WWI resource toolkit on

Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | Social History
Wednesday, 09 January 2008 08:35:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 08 January 2008
Web Updates on Geni, NEHGS
Posted by Diane

We got some updates on a couple of genealogy Web sites this week:
  • The free family networking site Geni has added two features for members. Now you can create a visual history of events in your life by setting up a timeline. Each timeline event, in turn, has its own page, where you can add more information, photos, attendees’ names and comments.
And a new family news page lets you track the latest goings-on in your family—additions to the family tree, birthdays, photos, discussions and more. All your family members’ new events are automatically included on the news page unless the member opts to keep something private. Or, relatives can post directly to the news page.
You can see what these features look like by visiting Geni’s blog.
  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) ended 2007 with another 3.2 million-plus names in its online databases, thanks in part to more than 100 volunteers who help scan and digitize the paper collections in the society's Boston library.
New databases include Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (and a project to add record images is halfway complete), early New York probate records, Connecticut vital records, Massachusetts census records (1855-1865), and New York calendar of wills (1636-1826).
NEHGS marketing director Tom Champoux says in 2008 you can look for significantly more records from Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Maine.

Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 08 January 2008 08:14:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 07 January 2008
The Best Scrapbooking Blogs
Posted by Grace

If you're the crafty type, you're probably at your best when you're among creative people or when you stumble across something beautiful that makes you cry out I want to do that. What's that old saying—no scrapbooker is an island?

The March issue of Family Tree Magazine's Preserving Memories column was conceived while thinking of the crafter in dire need of inspiration. Our very scientific process of visiting approximately a bazillion blogs resulted in this list of five fabulous sites.

Bookmark these babies and enjoy!

Lessons from the Scrapbook Page: On this inspirational blog, you can watch the latest installments of Real Women Scrap TV.

Mad Cropper: Keep up-to-date with news from the scrapbook world and plenty of step-by-step projects.

Memory Makers Blog: The editors of our sister magazine give you a peek at their latest pages (like the one you see at right).

SimpleStudio: Simple Scrapbooks serves up advice plus lots of layouts and photos.

Sprague Lab: This "studio of scrapbook alchemy" focuses on computer-assisted scrapping.

Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy fun
Monday, 07 January 2008 15:49:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, 04 January 2008
Find Northern NY Ancestors in Free News Database
Posted by Diane

Did your ancestors live in New York’s Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego or St. Lawrence counties?

Yes? You’ll want to search the Northern New York Library Network’s free Northern New York Historical Newspapers database.

There, access 910,000 digitized pages from 27 newspapers printed mostly during the 1800s and 1900s. The Plattsburgh Republican is the earliest paper featured, with the coverage starting in 1811; Clarkston Integrator issues range from 1920 all the way up to last year.

You can’t search all the papers at once, so click a title from the list, then type your search terms into the box on the left. Narrow your search by putting phrases in quotation marks ("harold smith") and use Boolean tools (such as a minus sign to exclude a word, as in lake –placid).

See the How to Search page for more tips, and Frequently Asked Questions for a trick to limiting searches by issue date.

Matches show sentence fragments containing your search term, so it can be a bit hard to tell whether a result is relevant.

Just click on a match to download a PDF of that newspaper page. You can zoom in, but your search term isn’t highlighted, so get ready for some reading.

Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 04 January 2008 09:29:49 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 03 January 2008
The Master Genealogist 7.0 Released
Posted by Diane

Wholly Genes Software has released version 7 of The Master Genealogist, billing it in an announcement as “the most comprehensive family history software on the market.” New features include:
  • an Associates Window listing all the people connected to the focus person (for example, as witnesses to an event)
  • customizable pop-up reminders to aid in data entry
  • the ability to make annotations on images
  • more-easily customizable sentences in narratives generated from the program
  • relationship calculation through spouses
  • new filtering and reporting options
The company’s announcement also touts a “long list of interface changes [that] make the program easier to use, especially for novice researchers.” The Master Genealogist is known for its intense orientation to detail which, noted Family Tree Magazine’s April 2002 review of the previous version, resulted in a “steeper learning curve” than other programs.
The Master Genealogist comes in two editions: The Gold Edition ($59 for a download; $79.95 for a CD plus 400-page user manual) has some reports and publication tools—including HTML output for Web pages—not in the Silver Edition ($34 download or $39.95 CD).

The cost to upgrade depends on the version you own; you can upgrade from version 6.12 for $29.95. TMG 7.0 is compatible with Windows 2000, XP or Vista.

Genealogy Software
Thursday, 03 January 2008 08:47:37 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 02 January 2008
10 Biggest Genealogy News Stories in 2007
Posted by Diane

Here are the top genealogy developments of 2007… at least in our humble opinion. Got one to add to (or kick off of) the list? Got an opinion which news is the biggest? Click Comment (below) and get it off your chest.

Competition comes back
For a few years there, after industry leader (now The Generations Network) purchased second-place in 2003, industry competition ebbed and online innovation slowed. Today The Generations Network is still the giant, but the growth of relative newcomers including World Vital Records and Footnote, plus FamilySearch’s records-digitization initiatives, are keeping the genealogy business on its toes.

Records digitization accelerates
In October, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced it was teaming up with FamilySearch to digitize case files of approved pension applications from widows of Civil War Union soldiers. That’s part of an even bigger arrangement that has FamilySearch volunteers stationed at NARA to scan all kinds of records. Footnote also has agreements to digitize NARA records, and FamilySearch has mobilized thousands of volunteers to index scanned records.

Partnerships proliferate
Organizations are joining forces right and left. World Vital Records, which launched in 2006, has built its genealogy database largely through partnership agreements. That site, Footnote, ProQuest and the Godfrey Library announced in May they’d provide access at FamilySearch’s Family History Centers. Nonprofit libraries and archives, including NARA, are using partnerships to increase records access without blowing their budgets.

Social networking explodes
As contributing editor Rick Crume points out in his January 2008 Family Tree Magazine social networking guide, Web 2.0 has allowed sites to be more interactive than ever. In addition to the popularity of photo- and family-history-sharing sites such as Geni and Amiglia, and genealogy networking sites such as FamilyLink and WeRelate, database sites such as FindMyPast have added social networking features.

Family Tree Maker 2008 disappoints
Surely you’ve seen the comments from customers who bought the revamped genealogy program after a brief beta period, only to be disappointed by missing reports, data importing problems and other bugs. If not, let us help you out from under that rock, and take a look at readers’ comments in our products forum.

DNA testing gets higher profile
Your options for genetic genealogy testing—and the number of companies that’ll test you—jumped this year. The Generations Network hopped on board with DNA Ancestry. Mainstream media regularly weigh in on topics such as newcomer 23andme and the usefulness of testing for ethnic roots. PBS’s "African-American Lives" has brought genetic genealogy to prime time.

NARA rates rise
NARA's new rates for ordering copies of records, which included $75 for a Civil War pension file (up from $37), made us wonder about national priorities regarding the public’s access to historical records. Thank goodness for all that digitization (above).

Everyone’s blogging
It’s not hard to find genealogy news, resources and research updates from people in the know—just go to Google Blog Search and type in genealogy. You might come across The Ancestry Insider (an “unofficial, unauthorized view ...”), Geneablogie (the author’s “exploration of his American family of families”) or one of the tens of thousands of other blogs about family history. Heck, Family Tree Magazine got in on the act, too.

Online videos are everywhere
Thank Roots Television for this one. It actually launched in 2006, but expanded its coverage this year by sending crews to genealogy conferences and on cruises, and adding RootsTube (a genealogical version of YouTube where you can upload videos). Founder Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak says the site's roughly 400 shows (divided into 1,100 smaller chunks) are "pushing half a million video views."

Genealogists get younger
A survey recently released found younger people expressed higher interest in learning heir family history. Empirical evidence—young people at conferences, youth branches of national societies (see our Web site for links) and Facebook genealogy add-ons—also tells us this. This means genealogy can continue its status among the country’s popular pastimes.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 16:12:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]