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# Friday, 30 May 2008
Legislators Discuss Copyright Reform
Posted by Grace

Ever been hassled by a clerk who demands you have permission from the photographer before making copies of a 100-year-old portrait? Under current copyright law, you'll likely lose the fight with Wal-Mart's photo department. (Read more about copyright quandaries here.)

Legislation working its way through the House and the Senate focuses on so-called "orphan works"—creations whose copyright owners cannot be identified or located. When someone wants to use or reproduce a work that is likely copyrighted, they risk being held liable for infringement; this reform aims to free up orphan works for public use.

Although artists have concerns about the current legislation, copyright reform would be a boon for family historians, museums, libraries and educational institutions. You can read more about the legislation on the website of our sister publication The Artist's Magazine here.

Family Heirlooms | Historic preservation | Public Records
Friday, 30 May 2008 14:33:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 29 May 2008
"Last Doughboy" Honored on Memorial Day
Posted by Diane

This week, Photo Detective blogger Maureen A. Taylor posted about visiting the National World War One Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

Missouri also is the birth state of the last known Doughboy—the last living American-born soldier of the 4,734,991 who fought in World War I.  In 1917, Frank Woodruff Buckles convinced an Army recruiter he was 18 and went to England as a casualty retriever.

Spending Memorial Day in Kansas City, the 107-year-old Buckles toured the WWI museum and received a medal from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Washington Post syndicated columnist Gorge Will’s recent article tells more about Buckles’ extraordinary life story.

Social History
Thursday, 29 May 2008 16:38:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Go Behind the Scenes As Genealogist Searches for Next-of-Kin
Posted by Diane

Roots Television has launched a new show about the role genealogists can play in finding the families of unclaimed bodies at morgues across the United States.

“Unclaimed Persons” is a genealogical "CSI." It follows professional researcher Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak’s work on the case of one deceased man, presenting clues through interviews with his acquaintances and coroner’s office staff. No plot spoilers here; you’ll have to see for yourself how it ends.

A separate video gives more information on Smolenyak’s research.

"Unclaimed Persons" also shows you the beginning of another case you might be able to help solve—and maybe we’ll see how that one ends in a future episode.

Genealogy Web Sites | Videos
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 09:13:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
National Archives Opens Online Digital Vault
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is even more than a repository for the census, military and immigration records naming individuals.

NARA also holds pieces of our nation’s collective history—and it just launched a new Web site to display them. Digital Vaults hosts historical photographs, maps, posters and document images from NARA’s file drawers.

You start with an array of small images. Click one and it swirls to the center (above). Click the magnifying glass under it for a closer look and details about it (below).

Then click another document or photo and the screen starts swimming again until that selection surfaces in the middle. If you like an image, more clicks add it to your Collection or link you to related resources at NARA.

Look to the left to see the Filter window, which lets you filter records by time frame, media type (such as Photo or document) and other parameters. Tags lets you view items tagged with certain topics.

Click Pathways at the bottom of the screen to create a challenge for others to follow: You choose records or photos, and use the details about them to write clues about how your picks are related. Click Create to make a poster or movie using records from your collection or from preselected records, then save it or e-mail it to people.

You also can click Search and find, say, all the immigration-, World War II- or Elvis-related items.

Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Social History
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 08:21:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Can You Identify This Object?
Posted by Diane

Gold star to anyone who said “the remains of a wooden vessel in Florida’s Hillsborough River thought to be a Confederate blockade runner.”

After two years of searching, underwater archaeologists from the Florida Aquarium have identified the object as the Kate Dale—one of three blockade runners owned by then-Tampa mayor James McKay.

Confederate blockade runners stocked with goods snuck past Union blockades to trade with foreign countries. During the Battle of Fort Brooke in October 1863, troops from Union gunboats traveled up the Hillsborough River and burned the Kate Dale at her moorings, along with fellow blockade runner Scottish Chief.

Read more about the discovery in the St. Petersburg Times.

Historic preservation | Social History
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 16:09:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 23 May 2008
USCIS Genealogy Service to Handle Citizenship Record Requests
Posted by Diane

A rule published in last Thursday’s Federal Register announces the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the INS) will set up a fee-based Genealogy Program for responding to historical naturalization records requests. The rule takes effect Aug. 13.

Currently, requests are processed through the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act (FOIA/PA) program, which according to the agency, delays fulfillment.

The new program's fees will be $20 for an index search, $20 for record copies from microfilm, and $35 for copies of paper records.

USCIS initially proposed charging $16 to $45 in April 2006. During the ensuing public comment period, the agency received 33 comments, 28 of them positive and many addressing fee levels. You can see a comments summary in the Federal Register announcement.

Records you can request through this program include:
  • Naturalization Certificate Files (C-Files) dated Sept. 27, 1906, to April 1, 1956
  • Alien Registration Forms on microfilm from Aug. 1, 1940 to March 31, 1944.
  • Visa Files from July 1, 1924, to March 31, 1944
  • Registry Files, from March 2, 1929 to March 31, 1944. These records document the creation of immigrant arrival records for persons who entered the United States prior to July 1, 1924, and for whom no arrival record could be found later.
  • Alien-Files (A-Files) numbered below 8 million (as in A8000000). A–files were the official file for all immigration records after April 1, 1944. A–numbers ranging up to approximately 6 million correspond to aliens and immigrants who were in or entered the country between 1940 and 1945. A-numbers from 6 to 7 million date from about 1944 to May 1, 1951.
Documents dated after May 1, 1951, even if they’re in an A–File numbered below 8 million, are still subject to FOIA/PA restrictions.
Starting Aug. 13, you’ll be able to submit requests and credit card fee payments through the USGIS Web site on Form G–1041. For records naming someone born less than 100 years ago, you’ll have to prove the person is deceased.

To request an index search, you’ll need to supply the immigrant’s full name and date and place of birth (at least as specific as a year). To request copies of records, you’ll need to provide a file number.

Before the naturalization process was centralized under INS Sept. 27, 1906, local and federal courts kept citizenship records. See the May 2008 Family Tree Magazine and for tips on finding pre- and post-1906 naturalization records.

Family Tree Magazine articles | immigration records | Public Records
Friday, 23 May 2008 13:26:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Happy Blogiversary to Us!
Posted by Diane

Today’s the day—the Genealogy Insider’s first blogiversary. Not only has blogging here let us tell you about new family history developments, resources and tips faster than before; it’s also helped us stay in closer contact with all of you.

We've also been able to have a little fun here. My favorite blog post of the year has to be our staff's Simpsonized selves, which look remarkably like our actual selves (if we all had jaundice).

If you haven’t already entered our celebratory T-shirt contest, yesterday’s post tells you how. And you’re invited along with us on a quick, nostalgic look back at our inaugural year in Wednesday’s entry.

Genealogy fun
Friday, 23 May 2008 11:06:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 22 May 2008
Enter to Win a Genealogy Insider T-Shirt!
Posted by Diane

You, too, can be a Genealogy Insider! To celebrate the Genealogy Insider’s first blogiversary tomorrow, we’re holding a drawing for one of our new T-shirts.

To enter, click Comments below and answer these three questions:
  • How many times a week do you read the Genealogy Insider blog?
  • What is your all-time favorite Genealogy Insider blog post? 
  • What family history topics would you like to see the Genealogy Insider cover more often?
We’ll draw one commenter at random to win a short-sleeve T-shirt proclaiming his or her Genealogy Insider status. Remember, you must provide your e-mail address when you post—we’ll contact the winner for a size and mailing address. (Your e-mail address will appear with at, NOSPAM and dot to keep spam robots from harvesting it.)
You have until 5 p.m. EDT next Tuesday, May 27, to post your comment.
Want to guarantee you get a shirt? Genealogy Insider T-shirts and other gear are available in our CafePress store.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Thursday, 22 May 2008 10:19:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [75]
# Wednesday, 21 May 2008
The Genealogy Insider is Turning 1!
Posted by Diane

Seems like just yesterday Family Tree Magazine entered the blogosphere with our very first post on the Genealogy Insider. But time flies, and that was almost 365 yesterdays ago: May 23, 2007.

To celebrate our blogiversary this Friday, we’re taking a quick look at highlights from our first year:
  • A few of the names we tossed around when the Genealogy Insider was still an idea: Blog Wild, Twigged Out, Theories of Relativity, Root Points. We settled on the name that says "genealogy" and "news."
  • We’ve published 243 posts (not counting this one), around 4.7 posts a week.
Stay tuned for more first-blogiversary developments!

Family Tree Magazine articles
Wednesday, 21 May 2008 12:15:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Free Military Records 'Til May 31 Mark Agreement
Posted by Diane

To celebrate the signing of a five-year digitization agreement with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), The Generations Network (TGN) will make’s military records collection free May 20 through May 31. (Normally, you'd need an subscription at $155.50 per year.)

Some notable records in that collection include the Civil War pension index, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 bounty land warrants, and WWI and WWII draft registration cards.

Now for the new agreement: NARA and TGN already have been collaborating to digitize records, but now TGN staff and equipment will be on-site at NARA to speed up the process.

TGN will index the records and make them available to subscribers; access will be free in all NARA research facilities. TGN also will give NARA copies of the record images and indexes.

Digitizing will start with Immigration and Naturalization Service passenger and crew arrival and departure lists (1897 to 1958) and death notices of US citizens abroad (1835 to 1974). Neither record set has been available outside NARA research rooms.

In the future, look for immigration, birth, marriage, death and military records.

NARA also has non-exclusive digitization partnerships with other organizations, such as FamilySearch and subscription historical records site Footnote. You can see details of those partnerships on NARA's Web site.

Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Military records
Tuesday, 20 May 2008 11:22:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Genealogy: For the Dogs?
Posted by Diane

In last week’s E-mail Update newsletter, we announced the opening of our CaféPress shop, where you can get Family Tree Magazine T-shirts, tote bags, mugs and other sundries.

Janie begged for a dog T-shirt. She thought it looked delicious. I caved, so here she is modeling it.

Janie learned two things: First, the dog T-shirts run small—she’s about 38 pounds and the large is a bit snug (we also got some human T-shirts and they seem true to size).

Second, it’s very difficult to eat your T-shirt while it’s on your body.

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 20 May 2008 09:20:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 19 May 2008
Video: Sneak Peek at the Midwest Genealogy Center
Posted by Diane

While in Kansas City last week for the National Genealogical Society conference, we ventured a few minutes down the highway to Independence, Mo., where we were lucky enough to get a peek at the Mid-Continent Public Library’s genealogy branch and its soon-to-open Midwest Genealogy Center.

Around the beginning of June, the 12,000-square-foot genealogy branch will move its overflowing resources into the 52,000-square-foot genealogy center. But you'll get an insider’s peek at both facilities—and learn what you can look forward to after the move—in our short video. (Note the genealogy branch will close May 27 through June 1 while staff members pack and unpack.)

And you’ll see why the library’s genealogy collection makes it one of the July 2008 Family Tree Magazines Libraries to visit Before You Die.

Libraries and Archives | Videos
Monday, 19 May 2008 15:13:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Saturday, 17 May 2008
Could you be an Osmond?
Posted by Diane

Are you a little bit country … or a little bit rock and roll? Genetic genealogy company Genetree might be able to help you decide.


Genetree just launched a Web site about its partnership with the Osmond family (maybe you can name them all, but for the record: Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy) as they get ready for their anniversary tour.


Genetree is joining the tour for a bit and promoting a $149 mitochondrial test (which comes with a souvenir Osmond photo). You can compare your results with the Osmonds’ genetic profiles in Genetree to see if you might be related. Keep in mind a mitochondrial test won’t pinpoint common ancestors within a genealogically researchable time frame.


Big fan? Scroll down the site and check out Osmond family photos, which you can click for dates and IDs.

Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Saturday, 17 May 2008 12:15:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 16 May 2008
What's Happening on the FamilySearch Site
Posted by Diane

You may have heard whisperings about a new FamilySearch Web site underway, and wondered what it's like and when you’ll get a crack at using it. Today we got some information to share.


FamilySearch Labs is testing a variety of tools FamilySearch hopes to include on its Web site. The challenge, spokesperson Paul Nauta told us, is that each tool requires different architecture. FamilySearch’s main site (at hasn’t changed yet because its architecture must be updated to accommodate all the cool new features in the works. Eventually, the tools will be built into that site.


But you already can use some of these features on the domains where they’re being tested:

  • Record Search is a tool for searching the first digitized records—including censuses, church records, Civil War pensions and more—coming from FamilySearch’s many partnerships with repositories and digitization companies. It has a microfilm reader-like viewer (minus the elbow-busting crank) that lets you zoom in on an image, nimbly move around, and switch from black on white to white on black.

  • Family Tree (previously called Pedigree Viewer), which lets users build an online, collaborative family tree, is available in demo version to the public. It’s being rolled out gradually to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints locations, after which it’ll go public.

  • FamilySearch Indexing is the site volunteers around the world are using to create indexes to digitized records. It’ll tell you how you can volunteer, too.  

Those are the main tools, but there are a couple of others you can try at FamilySearch Labs.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 16 May 2008 13:19:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 15 May 2008
Seen and Heard at NGS …
Posted by Diane

There are the big National Genealogical Society conference announcements, then there are the news tidbits you pick up around the exhibit hall. Here are some of those:


Look for Genetree, the genetic genealogy-meets-social-networking Web site, to add Y-DNA testing to its mitochondrial DNA testing services in the not-too-distant future.


Arphax Publishing has put out the first three books (each covering one county) of its Texas Land Survey Maps series (another book will come out each week). You may find them extra helpful because Texas, a state-land state, didn’t follow the same survey methods you’re used to seeing in public-land states.


The new is kind of like eBay for genealogical research services: If you need someone to go to a courthouse or get a birth certificate for you, post a request. If you can provide the service, submit a bid. A rating system lets researchers rank how you did.


The New England Historic Genealogical Society has launched, a portal to the organization’s Empire State resources. Spokesperson Tom Champoux says the group wants people to know resources cover more than just New England.


The Oregon-California Trails Association created Paper Trail (I love a good pun), a database of names and other information from thousands of 19th-century trail-related documents.


Irish researchers can find a helpful Irish Roots Cafe podcast at


Next week, and NARA will hold a press conference to announce a new, large-scale digitization partnership.

Genealogy Events
Thursday, 15 May 2008 18:03:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Sneak Peek: New Midwest Genealogy Center
Posted by Diane

Last night, the not-quite-finished MidContinent Public Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center (which tried very hard to be open in time for the conference) hosted a recption to give National Genealogical Society conference attendees a chance to preview the new facility.


At 52,000 square feet, it’s more than four times the size of the current Genealogy and Local History Branch. That library was already a tremendous resource—in our July 2008 issue, we designate it one of the nine genealogy libraries to visit before you die—but the spacious new digs will make it’s materials and staff even more accessible and useful.


Tuesday, editor Allison Stacy and I took a look at the current genealogy branch (it’s truly bursting at the seams) and got our own hard-hat tour of the in-progress Midwest Genealogy Center. We’re putting together a video for you, but in the meantime, here are some pictures from last night’s reception.


A light-filled atrium is the first thing Midwest Genealogy Center patrons will see.



Here you can see the curved circulation desk and future public lounge (lower level). The upper level will be mostly open stacks.



These reception attendees stand in the future periodicals area.



Researchers can get staff help in two consultation rooms (right); a large classroom will host public programs.


Other rooms will house rare books, a computer lab (with equipment for digitizing your family photos or video tapes), microfilm cabinets and a microfilm reading room.

Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, 15 May 2008 10:44:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Breaking News From the National Genealogical Society Conference
Posted by Diane

The National Genealogical Society Conference just got underway here in Kansas City, Mo., and already the announcements are flowing:

  • FamilySearch and subscription records site Footnote announced they’ve reached an agreement for FamilySearch to provide free access to the Civil War Pensions index and the 1860 US census. You’ll be able to search indexes for both collections on FamilySearch as the project is completed, users will be able to search. Footnote subscribers can view the record images on Footnote ($59.95 per year) ; anyone can access them free at the 4,500 worldwide FamilySearch Family History Centers (FHCs).
  • FamilyLink (which brings you the World Vital Records subscription databases) is helping FamilySearch improve the usability of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Family History Library Catalog by adding Web 2.0 functionality and enhancements.

The catalog is a listing of the genealogical resources in the Family History Library, including millions of microfilms, microfichfiche and books from more than 110 countries. You can borrow film and fiche (books don’t circulate) by visiting an FHC.


Improvements include making the catalog searchable by major online search engines (such as Google) and letting users to annotate descriptions in the catalog. You'll be able to conduct a “guided search” with tools that will help you decide what you want to learn about your family, point you to relevant records, and help you get and use them.


You’ll also be able to browse the catalog, sort search results and perform multiple searches at once. A nifty tool will search your online family tree to determine which lines have the highest likelihood of success based on known sources (and maybe there’ll be a “pep talk” tool for those other lines).

  •  The Generations Network (that’s’s parent company) CEO Tim Sullivan has written a “letter to the public,” basically a review of newdatabases and services (such as DNA testing and Ancestry Press). He also offered news about upcoming features such as a historical newspaper collection doubled in size, more than 6,000 school yearbooks and new US city directories containing 50 million names. 

Ancestry Hints will send you automatic notifications when finds matches between people in your tree and its record databases. More user-friendly member profile pages also are in the works. You can read the whole thing on the Web site


International sites on the way include China (with Chinese family histories from the Shanghai library) and a Spanish-language sites.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 14 May 2008 13:53:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
I believe in genealogy miracles
Posted by Grace

Seattle resident Jan Burak Schwert and her husband traveled to Konstanz, Germany, to trace his ancestry. They hoped to find Schwerts in cemeteries, but they ended up snagging a live one. Read her story of serendipitous genealogy finds here, and add your own in our comments!

Via Tracing the Tribe

Family Reunions | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, 14 May 2008 11:09:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Looking for a job?
Posted by Grace

The Department of the Interior seeks a full-time genealogist to research American Indian ancestry in its Office of Federal Acknowledgement. (Meaning: determining if groups should be granted federally recognized tribal status.) The job pays to the tune of $82,961 to $107,854 a year. Boy, I got into the wrong line of work.

(Via Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter)

Genealogy fun
Tuesday, 13 May 2008 12:22:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 12 May 2008
Geni Adds GEDCOM Uploads
Posted by Diane

Genealogists everywhere are cheering: Geni, the free family networking site, has announced that you can now upload your GEDCOM to create a Geni tree. (GEDCOM, if you’re wondering, is the standard file format for genealogy applications.) Before, Geni users could download, but not upload, GEDCOMs.

Uploading a GEDCOM will start a new tree, not add to your existing tree—something Geni webmasters plan to change in the future. Read more on the Geni blog.

Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 12 May 2008 16:03:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 08 May 2008
Footnote Adds 1860 Census
Posted by Diane

The historical records subscription site Footnote has branched into census territory by adding 1860 US census schedules to its collection.

Footnote took a different angle with this addition—not surprising, since census records are widely available on the Web.

The site, which divides its collections by historical era rather than record type, has grouped the 1860 census with its Civil War collection and made the database interactive. That means subscribers can attach stories, photos and comments to entries in the census.

You also can use Footnote’s records viewer to adjust the brightness and contrast of digitized records and invert images (so they appear as white print on a black background instead of the other way around).

The viewer actually is pretty cool: You hover over an entry and a pop-up window tells you the person’s name. You click for other information, and to see other users’ comments (or add yours). At the bottom of the viewer is a "film strip" you use to navigate to other pages. Here's a look:

The Civil War collection also includes a pension index, Confederate soldiers’ service records and Southern Claims Commission files. Footnote is working with FamilySearch and the National Archives on a pilot project to digitize Union widows’ pension applications.

Annual subscriptions to Footnote cost $59.95.

census records | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 08 May 2008 13:12:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 07 May 2008
Catholic Churches Told To Keep Records From FamilySearch Digitizers
Posted by Diane

You may already have heard the Catholic News Service reports that the Vatican has directed Catholic dioceses throughout the world not to allow FamilySearch to digitize or index parish registers.

Father James Massa, executive director of the US bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, told the Catholic News Service that the directive, issued in an April 5 letter from the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, aims to prevent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) members, or Mormons, from using the records to baptize the dead.

The LDS Church operates the FamilySearch genealogy Web site.

The letter reads in part, "The congregation requests that the conference notifies each diocesan bishop in order to ensure that such a detrimental practice is not permitted in his territory, due to the confidentiality of the faithful and so as not to cooperate with the erroneous practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Posthumous baptism by proxy is central to the LDS faith: Mormons can offer baptism to their ancestors so families can be united in the afterlife. That’s why the LDS Church digitizes and microfilms records. Generally, FamilySearch negotiates contracts with churches to film their records.

The LDS Church makes the records available to members of all religions for use in genealogical research. And microfilmed Catholic Church registers are the major resource for finding ancestors in Europe before civil (government) registration began, usually during the 1800s.

Jewish groups also have criticized posthumous baptism, especially for Holocaust victims. The LDS Church agreed in 1995 to stop the practice of baptizing Holocaust victims, but some say it continues.

What do you think of the Vatican's directive? Click Comments to post here, or post to our Hot Topics Forum.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 07 May 2008 12:10:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [27]
# Tuesday, 06 May 2008
200 Years of Children's Books on Display
Posted by Grace

Before Webkinz and Tamagotchis, children had to find amusement in analog activities, such as rolling hoops, kicking cans and—gasp!—reading books.

I recently stumbled across the University of Delaware's online exhibit "World of the Child: 200 Years of Children's Books," which gives an in-depth look at what kids read as well as the education philosophies behind the often dry books.

You can view sample pages of instructional books, primers and poetry collections, as well as more modern pop-ups and storybooks. The explanations can give you a whole new perspective on your ancestors' childhoods:
"Until the middle of the nineteenth century, all books for children were religious books in the sense that all literature was seen as requiring a stated moral perspective. Since fairy and folk tales, beloved by children in both oral and written form, were seen as threatening to the established moral order, a body of literature was developed to ensure that children's reading would reflect the conservative Protestantism of the time. The high infant mortality rate and large numbers of women dying in childbirth, also contributed to the focus in children's stories on pious lives and early deaths."
Sure is a far cry from Pokemon. Click here to browse the collection.

Genealogy for kids | Libraries and Archives | Social History
Tuesday, 06 May 2008 09:46:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 05 May 2008
Eyewitness Report: UK's Biggest Family History Show
Posted by Diane

A giant family history show called Who Do You Think You Are? Live just wrapped up in London. Thirty-year British family history veteran Richard Heaton, who volunteered there, sent us this eyewitness account and some action shots:
Who Do You Think You Are is the biggest event of its kind in the UK, with attendance last year of 13,000 visitors. This year the numbers were probably higher still.

But it’s not just the numbers that make this show stand head and shoulders above the rest—it’s the scope of what’s available for visitors. It has representation from many UK local family local history societies, the online research database companies such as FindMyPast, software suppliers and expert lectures.

But it’s also attended by major archives in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; experts on local history, military history, archeology, conservation, the History Channel; even the London Times digital newspaper archive (below). All under one roof for three days.

Making available a great variety of resources and knowledge—some not immediately connected to family history as we’ve known it—gives the show appeal to a wide audience. The common theme? All exhibitors and visitors share a passion for history.
Over the two days I attended, I had the chance to hold (and of course feel the weight) of a Brown Bess rifle. Chatted to two enthusiasts dressed as Polish Lancers. Sampled lectures covering topics as diverse as Stonehenge, the Battle of Britain 1940, and Jewish family history research.

I also had a good look at the display of military vehicles, including a British WWI tank. I looked at historical objects (below)—coins, bells, buckles, clay pipe bowls and colourful fragments of medieval pottery—once discarded by our ancestors and since recovered from the mud of the Thames River in London. 

But I spent most of my time volunteering to help visitors with research queries, both in the Guild of One-Name Studies booth (below) and as an expert advisor for the Society of Genealogists (both are leading family history societies in the UK). Most visitors I saw came from the UK, but there were a noticeable number of visitors from Canada, Australia, the United States and Ireland.

Visitors’ knowledge levels were equally varied. The success of the UK television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” has clearly encouraged a lot of people to take an interest in their family history. Some were absolute beginners, excited to find ancestors in the UK censuses. Other seasoned researchers were equally pleased to get advice on new sources for 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century research. 
I finished on Sunday, a little tired and a little hoarse, but very satisfied, having had the opportunity in some way or another to assist over 50 fellow family historians.

Genealogy Events
Monday, 05 May 2008 17:21:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 02 May 2008
FamilySearch and British Partners to Digitize UK Records
Posted by Diane

A partnership among FamilySearch, British family history subscription/pay-per-view database site FindMyPast, and The National Archives of Britain will give genealogists access to millions of names of British soldiers and seamen from the 18th to the 20th century. The records include:
The records may include each ex-serviceman's name, age, birthplace and service history, physical appearance, conduct sheet, previous occupation, and in some cases, the reason for discharge. After 1883, details of marriages and children may also appear.
  • Merchant Seamen records from 1835 to 1844 and 1918 to 1941, which will provide the name and the date and place of birth. Many 20th-century records include photographs of the sailors and details of their voyages. Nearly a third of UK families have ancestors who were merchant seaman, according to FamilySearch's announcement.
For this three-year project, FamilySearch staffers will digitize the records at the UK National Archives, and FindMyPast will create indexes and transcriptions. When they're through, the indexes and images will be searchable at FindMyPast and FamilySearch.

I can hear you wondering, “Will they be free?” FamilySearch’s announcement didn’t say one way or the other, but in previously announced partnerships, records are to be free on FamilySearch and partner organizations have the option to provide fee-based access.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 02 May 2008 17:07:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
San Francisco's Historic Mission Dolores Cemetery
Posted by Diane

Last week after talking about kids’ genealogy in Sacramento, Calif., I met up with my sister in San Francisco for a couple of days (she lives 20 minutes from me here in Cincinnati, but was also out West on business).

One of my favorite sights was Mission Dolores, the popular name for the Misión San Francisco de Asís since it was founded June 29, 1776. The present mission chapel, built in 1791, is a block and a half away from the first location.

Still home to an active parish, it’s the oldest intact building in San Francisco—the thick adobe walls survived the 1906 earthquake. Next door is the Mission Dolores Basilica, first built around 1876 and rebuilt after suffering severe quake damage.

The walled Mission Cemetery, final resting place for Ohlone, Miwok and other indigenous peoples as well as notable pioneers, is the only cemetery left within city limits.

The cemetery is smaller today than it once was, but has been restored with native plantings.

You can find known Mission Dolores burials listed at FindaGrave. Read a bit more about the cemetery’s past in the transcribed historical newspaper articles on

Cemeteries | Historic preservation | Social History
Friday, 02 May 2008 09:03:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 01 May 2008
Missouri Opens Digitized Records Site
Posted by Diane

Missouri has launched a kind of one-stop shop for finding digitized historical records, abstracts and indexes from the state archives as well as libraries, universities, historical societies and other repositories throughout the state.

The Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative divides collections by subject area (some record sets appear under multiple topics). Genealogical material is mostly in the Family and Faith category, but you’ll also want to explore Military Records, Newspapers, Sports and Recreation and other topics. (To see a lineup of all the record sets, click All Collections at the bottom of the Collections main page.)

What will you see? Photos, maps, birth and death records, naturalization records, coroner’s inquest abstracts, a state supreme court case index, newspapers, Civil War letters and more. Here’s an ad page from an early 1900s Hannibal, Mo., city directory:

A few collections, including penitentiary and some land records, are still in progress. Some items are hosted on Missouri Digital Heritage; for other collections, you’ll be taken to partner sites. All the records are accessible free.

The Missouri Digital Heritage Exhibits section links to online exhibits about the Missouri State Lunatic Asylum, the state fair, Lamar, Mo.-born Harry Truman’s Whistle Stop Campaign, and more.

Another feature you won’t want to miss: The link to Missouri’s Local Records Inventory Database, where you can search inventories of local government records located primarily in county and municipal offices. You won’t find information about your ancestors in this particular database, but you can find out what office holds the records you need and what years are available. Search on a county name and keyword such as birth or probate.

Genealogy Web Sites | Public Records | Social History
Thursday, 01 May 2008 09:59:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]