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# Tuesday, September 30, 2008
101 Best Web Sites: Online Newspapers
Posted by Diane

This week's installment of 101 Best Web Sites delivers two resources for paging through historical newspapers:
  • Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection
    Click on the county map to see what's available and where to find it in this collection of nearly 450,000 digitized pages from 136 Colorado newspapers, published from 1859 to 1933. Coverage spans 71 cities and 41 Centennial State counties. You'll need Internet Explorer to get the most out of this site.
  • Newspaper Abstracts
    Find your ancestors in the news—without getting ink on your fingers. At last count this volunteer project included nearly 52,000 pages of abstracts and extracts from historical newspapers, with an emphasis on items of interest to genealogists such as obituaries.
See the rest of the best sites in the Research Toolkit area of our Web site.


Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 6:34:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Monday, September 29, 2008
Technology in Plain English
Posted by Allison

With the online genealogy world embracing “Web 2.0,” you’re probably hearing a lot of related terminology that might confuse you a bit. Actually, I know you’re hearing it, because we use it on this blog and in the magazine—and since I’ve only learned about these things through writing about them, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that many of you would enjoy some accessible-to-the-average-person explanations of newfangled Web technology.

Enter the CommonCraft Show, which offers—you guessed it—“explanations in plain English.” On its YouTube channel, you’ll find short videos demonstrating social networking, Twitter, wikis, blogs and other online trends. I stumbled across CommonCraft’s RSS in Plain English video on the RootsMagic blog, and was pleasantly surprised at how well the videos convey the concepts in a way that’s accessible to anyone—and even entertaining.

Here's the RSS clip for your enjoyment:


Videos
Monday, September 29, 2008 3:43:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 26, 2008
FindMyPast Adds English Census, Baptism Records
Posted by Diane

If your ancestors were born or lived in London, you’ll want to take note of two new additions to FindMyPast’s paid-access online records:

  • In its ongoing effort to redigitize the 1901 English census—using new scanning technology to produce clearer images and better transcriptions than earlier versions of that same enumeration—the company added 4.6 million records covering the county of London.
This summer, FindMyPast and the Origins Network began working with FamilySearch to index the 1841 to 1901 British censuses (read our report). You can search the 1841 through 1861 indexes free on FamilySearch Record Search.
  • FindMyPast’s growing collection of parish records now includes 2.3 million new baptisms, including 346,000 from East London. The parish records are a joint project with the UK Federation of Family History Societies.


census records | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 26, 2008 10:01:48 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 25, 2008
101 Best Web Sites: Military History and Records Portal
Posted by Diane

Peruse this week’s highlights from our 101 Best Web Sites for family history:
  • eHistory: We put this free Ohio State University site in our military research category for rich records of conflicts—including the The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. (the OR), battle overviews, Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War, maps and timelines.
  • Access Genealogy: Besides oodles of links, this free portal also serves up census, vital, immigration, cemetery and military records; plus biographies and such Native American essentials as the 1880 Cherokee census and the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes (aka the Dawes Rolls).
You can search by surname, or go to United States Genealogy to browse databases by title.
See the rest of our 2008 101 Best Web Sites picks on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Thursday, September 25, 2008 2:15:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Tales of Terrific Family Tree Teamwork
Posted by Diane

Waaaaaay back in April, to play up the promising possibilities of genealogical research collaboration, we asked for your entries in our Terrific Family Tree Teamwork Contest.

We heard a lot of great stories, but managed to winnow them down to the winners, who're portrayed in the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine. There’s something to learn from each example:
  • Our grand prize-winners, Bev Ophoven Ewing and Kathleen Lenerz, have never actually met. In 1998 they discovered a cousin connection online. Now, they tackle family mysteries by bouncing ideas around, building off each other’s thinking and divvying up research tasks.
  • Gwendolyn Cameron and her cousins wanted to learn about their great-grandfather, a Civil War veteran. They traced him to the state hospital where he'd died. The group organized a memorial service, and since our November issue went to press, the hospital has restored its historic graveyard. A rededication is scheduled for tomorrow.
  • Susie Bullion recruited her team by creating a memory quilt with squares relatives filled with stories. To share the history, she and her siblings typed up the stories, researched background information and turned them into a family memory book.
  • Valerie Craft’s family history research began as a college project that never ended. Her mom served both as fan and teammate, especially helpful in putting Valerie in touch with distant relatives.
All the teams won our State Research Guides CD; the grand prize also includes Family Reunion Organizer software from RootsMagic, a Web site from MyGreatBigFamily.com and free batch photo scanning from ScanMyPhotos.

See these and other teamwork tales in our Exclusives for Registered Users Forum (note you must be registered with the Forum and logged in to view this section).


Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, September 25, 2008 9:49:27 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Update Your Christmas Card List
Posted by Diane

Two recent genealogy industry name changes to note:
World Vital Records created FamilyLink.com, then chose FamilyLink.com as its new corporate name (World Vital Records stuck around as the name of the company's database service). The name change lets FamilyLink.com become a full-on corporate Web site while FamilyHistoryLink.com remains a networking site.

Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10:53:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Resource Confusion? New Online Directory Promises Help
Posted by Diane

Genealogy Today’s Illya D’Addezio tells me he’s in the final steps of creating an online genealogy directory that’ll let you find and access multiple resources from one place.

Using the free Live Roots site, which launches Oct. 10, you can search a variety of genealogy databases and publishers’ catalogs, and learn where information from the same resource exists in multiple places, online and off.

With the same genealogy information frequently printed in books and hosted on numerous Web sites in a variety of forms (indexes, transcriptions, record images, narratives, etc.), this tool may help you sort out the confusion—and show you where to find the actual records all that data came from in the first place.

You'll be able to search Live Roots on a name, place or other keyword, then link to the online resources, learn how to access the offline ones, or click to commission a researcher who can get a record for you.

We’ll spill more details about the site as they’re available.


Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10:32:11 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, September 22, 2008
MyHeritage: Facebook for Families?
Posted by Diane

MyHeritage, the Israel-based genealogy site that made a splash a couple years back with its celebrity look-alike photo search, has made another step toward its goal to be “the Facebook for families.”

(This right after Footnote launched its “Facebook for the deceased.” Facebook has to be feeling really good about itself right now.)

MyHeritage just acquired Kindo, a London based, internationally focused online family networking service that’s reminiscent of Geni. Part of the deal has MyHeritage setting up operations in London.

Also boosting MyHeritage’s social networking aspirations is a recent $15 million venture capital investment (including funds from a former Facebook investor).

One more update: The site's new photo tagging technology uses the facial recognition feature that powered the celebrity look-alike search to let users automatically tag the people in their photos (similar to what Google is doing with its Picasa software).


Genealogy Industry
Monday, September 22, 2008 5:02:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 19, 2008
Free Database of the Week: Immigrants' Deaths in Quarantine
Posted by Diane

After perusing the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine article on the book and documentary Forgotten Ellis Island, reader Joan Griffis tipped us off to a free resource: a listing of immigrants who died in quarantine before reaching Ellis Island.

Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, located in New York’s outer harbor, had hospitals that served as quarantine stations in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Most of the sick were immigrants whom medical inspectors removed from ships before they arrived at Ellis Island.

Griffis sent us a link to researcher Cathy Horn’s listing of 418 people who died at the quarantine stations from November 1909 through June 1911. Their names and death information come from death certificates in Richmond County, NY.

You can search the names or browse them. Check out the background information about the quarantine stations, too.


Free Databases | immigration records
Friday, September 19, 2008 4:39:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
101 Best Web Sites: Free Immigration Info and Swedish Records
Posted by Diane

Here are the two 101 Best Web Sites picks we're highlighting this week:
  • Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild: This guild of volunteers has tirelessly transcribed more than 8,000 passenger manifests, many from less-famous ports. Search by surname, captain's name, port of arrival or departure, and ship name.
And there's more: The guild’s Compass section offers how-to help for researching immigrants; a new adoption section has advice for adoptees and birth parents who want to reunite with their biological family members.
  • Genline: Genline delivers images of 16 million-plus pages of church records (virtually everything available) to your computer. Subscriptions start at about $23 for 20 days. You also can go to the resources section to learn Swedish terms you’ll encounter in your research and get how-to articles.
Link to the rest of our 101 list on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records | International Genealogy
Friday, September 19, 2008 3:10:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 18, 2008
Footnote to Digitize Homesteaders' Case Files
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription service Footnote is embarking upon a project to post hundreds of thousands of US homesteading records online.

Those records comprise land entry case files of people who claimed land under the Homestead Act of 1862, which opened the door for Americans to own government land in exchange for making improvements (such as residency, raising crops and planting trees).

A land entry case file might include an application for land, witnesses’ testimonials, military records, citizenship papers and more.

Footnote already contains 1,824 case files for people who registered homesteads at the Broken Bow, Neb., land office between 1890 and 1908. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had microfilmed these; the rest of the General Land Office (GLO) records are still on paper.

You can search land patents at the Bureau of Land Management’s GLO records site, but until your ancestor’s full land entry case file is digitized, you’ll need to order copies of it from NARA. If your ancestor applied for a land claim but didn’t “prove up,” the GLO database won’t contain a patent for him.

NARA, the National Parks Service, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and FamilySearch are partners in the digitization project.


Footnote | Public Records | Research Tips
Thursday, September 18, 2008 4:17:44 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
I *Heart* Awards!
Posted by Diane

A great big thank-you to Renee Zamora over at Renee’s Genealogy Blog, who honored us with the I Heart Your Blog award!

Now it’s my turn to nominate seven—only seven!—blogs I heart. (I tried to avoid any repeats.) Here are my picks:

Geneablogie
I’ll forgive lawyer Craig Manson for coming up with this blog title before we could. He offers thoughtful takes on topics you don’t see covered many other places.

The Genealogue
I love me some irreverent genealogy humor. Chris Dunham probably spent half his grade school career writing on the blackboard (I’m half afraid of what he’ll say about getting an I Heart Your Blog award.)

Granite in My Blood
I can definitely appreciate someone who appreciates a cemetery. Midge Frazel (who’s related to none other than Isaac Denison) posts a potpourri of intriguing gravestone photos, family photos and research updates.

Library of Congress Today in History Blog
The library's director of communications Matt Raymond researches  blog-worthy historical events and then tells us about them . . . not a job I'd love at all.

Photo Detective
Besides writing our Photo Detective blog, Maureen A. Taylor keeps a photo news and research blog on her own site. It’s the first place I heard of a photosynth.

The Practical Archivist
Archivist Sally Jacobs has sound photo-preservation advice with titles like “The Chemical Sandwich of Doom.” And I couldn’t not like her blog description.

Q&Q Blog
I’m a writer, and Brian Klems of our sister magazine Writer’s Digest eloquently answers writers’ questions.

Here are the rules for award recipients:
1. Can put the logo on his/her blog
2. Must link to the person who gave the award
3. Must nominate seven other blogs and link to them
4. Must leave a comment on each of the nominated blogs

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, September 18, 2008 12:56:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
A Tale of Two Indexing Projects: Comparing FamilySearch Indexing and the World Archives Project
Posted by Diane

With two biggest organizations in genealogy seeking volunteers and historical records for their indexing programs, comparisons and questions about competition are inevitable.

Nonprofit FamilySearch began rolling out FamilySearch Indexing in 2006. Volunteers around the world use an online application to view and index digitized records.

Subscription data service Ancestry.com launched a similar program, the World Archives Project, this year. A recently announced partnership with the Federation of Genealogical Societies has societies providing volunteer indexers.

FamilySearch released a statement last week about the two programs. Though it started by welcoming all efforts “that provide more economical access to more genealogical and historically significant records,” subsequent claims that FamilySearch produces “More quality indexes, faster” and offers “Greater free public access to images” (among other assertions) struck a defensive note.

Read the whole statement on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

A little competition would make sense: If FamilySearch makes genealogical records free, wouldn’t Ancestry.com lose customers? Will FamilySearch lose indexing volunteers to the World Archives Project?

No, both organizations insist. When I questioned FamilySearch, spokesperson Paul Nauta replied “FamilySearch believes the introduction of records access initiatives will only serve to improve progress toward making the world’s genealogical and historical records more available economically—an underlying goal of FamilySearch Indexing.”

World Archives Project manager Christopher Tracy also downplayed any competition and emphasized the shared goal of increasing records access. “There’s plenty of work. Billions and billions of records out there haven’t been indexed,” he says.

“They have a great community and they’re bringing more and more people into the [genealogy] space,” he adds of FamilySearch. Ancestry.com reiterated his points in its own written statement.

The organizations collaborate on indexing the US census, and they’re avoiding indexing the same records. “Each company has strategic relations representatives that speak or meet regularly to help accomplish these goals,” Nauta says.

So, now that the air is clear, how do the two programs compare? We’ll break it down:

Records access for the public
  • FamilySearch Indexing: All record indexes and many record images will be free to anyone through the FamilySearch Web site. If FamilySearch isn't able to secure permission to put certain images on FamilySearch's public site, you can access them at a local Family History Center.
  • World Archives Project: All record indexes will be searchable free on Ancestry.com. Images of those records will be available to Ancestry.com’s paid subscribers, and they'll be free at public libraries that offer their patrons Ancestry Library Edition.

Benefits to volunteers (aside from the warm fuzzies of helping genealogists)
  • FamilySearch Indexing: Qualified volunteers (those who’ve keyed 900 names within a 90-day period) will receive free access to all record images, even those not on FamilySearch's public site.
  • World Archives Project: Active indexers (who've keyed at least 900 records a quarter) will get free access to all record images, and can vote on which records the project should index. Active indexers who subscribe to Ancestry.com will receive a 10 to 15 percent discount on renewals.

Benefits to partnering organizations
  • FamilySearch Indexing: Organizations that provide records for digitizing and indexing receive free copies of the record images and indexes.
  • Ancestry.com: Genealogical societies that index a record set receive a copy of the images and indexes, as well as free advertising from Ancestry.com (I'm not sure what form the advertising will take).

Other comparisons
Both programs have each record indexed twice, with an arbitrator to resolve differences. Having been around longer, FamilySearch Indexing has more record sets you can choose to index. Its indexing utility is Mac-compatible; Ancestry.com’s is PC-only.

The two programs’ indexing utilities work differently, and you might try both and decide you prefer one over the other. We’d love to hear about your experiences using the utilities—click Comments to post.


Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, September 18, 2008 9:07:03 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Spitting Becomes Fashionable
Posted by Diane

Fashionistas have found a new accessory for their Marchesa and Derek Lam: little plastic tubes of, well, spit.

The founders of genome profiling service 23andMe (one of Ancestry.com’s latest business partners) put a creative and chic spin on DNA test marketing by hosting a “spit party” during New York’s Fashion Week.

Well-dressed celebrities including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, film producer Harvey Weinstein (both of whom have financially backed 23andMe) and designer Diane von Furstenberg were in attendance. Between cocktails, guests could spit into tiny tubes to have their genomes profiled.

23andMe, whose test can tell you about genetic traits (such as whether you like broccoli), health risks and your ancient ancestry, was looking to promote its new $399 price (down from $999) and the online community it recently added.

The party went on despite a warning letter the State of New York sent 23andMe for performing medical testing without required licensing. (The company is negotiating a resolution.)

All I can say is it's a good thing I wasn't invited. I'd have to blow a few months' salary on something decent to wear, then I'd probably miss the spitting tube and ruin my new dress. Read more about the spit party in the New York Times.


Genetic Genealogy
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 4:01:23 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Congrats to Family Tree Magazine's FGS Door Prize Winner!
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to Noreen Manzella, of West Haven, Conn., who won Family Tree Magazine’s Federation of Genealogical Societies conference door prize. (Here's Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family Tree Magazine Podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke about to draw her name.)


 
And here’s Noreen's loot: a Family Tree Magazine tote bag stuffed with our State Research Guides CD, International Passport CD, The Family Tree Guide to Finding Your Ellis Island Ancestors, Your Guide to Cemetery Research and The Genealogist’s Question & Answer Book.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 9:24:08 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, September 15, 2008
Cast Your Vote for the Genealogy Difference Maker of the Year!
Posted by Diane

We've been profiling an unsung genealogy volunteer in our Difference Makers section of each 2008 Family Tree Magazine issue.

Now you can help choose one of these volunteers as our 2008 Difference Maker of the Year. That person will win $100 toward his or her pet genealogy project, plus a free year of Family Tree Magazine.

Visit FamilyTreeMagazine.com to meet all six of this year's Difference Makers and cast your vote for the Difference Maker of the Year. Hurry! Voting ends at midnight Sept. 24.

You also can see names of all the hard-working volunteers Family Tree Magazine readers have nominated as genealogy Difference Makers.

We're so inspired by these folks that we're continuing the Difference Makers series for 2008. Nominate someone you know who's made a difference in genealogy (scroll to the bottom of the linked page to make a nomination).


Family Tree Magazine articles
Monday, September 15, 2008 1:55:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Another SSDI-Based Obituary Site
Posted by Diane

Yesterday’s high winds in Cincinnati cut off power to Family Tree Magazine’s offices, closing us down for the day.

But I’m one of the lucky 10 percent of people in the area who haven't lost electricity, so I thought I’d blog (from the comfort of home) about a new Web site that’ll compete with Footnote’s just-launched Footnote Pages

Yesterday’s New York Times had an article about a memorial site called Tributes, started by the same guy who founded the job-hunting site Monster.com. Tributes' “soft launch” was this summer; the official launch is set for Sept. 23.

Like Footnote Pages, Tributes uses the Social Security Death Index as a foundation for online profiles of the deceased. You can link profiles together social networking-style and enhance them with words and multimedia.

According to the Times, Tributes members can sign up to get e-mail alerts when a person has died based on the person’s last name, school, military unit or ZIP code. “Eventually, users will be able to download their address book to the site to keep abreast of the passing of friends and relatives.” (Though this "death watch" tool  might seem a little macabre, it could be useful, say, if you've been unsuccessfully searching for your dad's WWII Army comrades.)  

You can create 300-word Tributes obituaries free; elaborate multimedia obituaries costs $80 per year or $300 for an unlimited time period.

Just by comparison, building profiles on Footnote Pages is free. It’s also a little more genealogy-oriented: if you have a subscription to Footnote’s historical records database, you can search it for records related to a deceased person and link them to his or her profile.

Of course, both sites hold the possibility you'll fill in blanks on your pedigree chart by finding an existing, tricked-out profile for an ancestor. 

Have you used either Footnote Pages or Tributes, or another memorial site? What did you think? Click Comments to post here, or post in our Web Watch Forum.


Footnote | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, September 15, 2008 1:10:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 12, 2008
101 Best Web Sites: Norwegian Roots and Maps Galore
Posted by Diane

Here's our weekly (roughly; I got thrown off schedule last week) look at two of Family Tree Magazine's 101 Best Web Sites for 2008.
  • Digitalarkivet was originally home to 1801, 1865, 1875 and 1900 Norwegian censuses, this national archives site is expanding to also encompass parish records—the most important family research tool in Norway.
Click Database Selector to find databases by county or year, or choose the Search in All the Database link (note this page doesn’t seem to have an English translation, but you can get a serviceable one by pasting the text into Google’s translator and selecting Norwegian as the language to translate from).
  • The Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection brings digitized historical maps from around the world straight to your computer screen. They’re sorted by category, so first scroll down and click Historical Maps, then a continent or country. From there, you can choose maps of cities, military maps and maps showing historical eras, territorial growth, populations and more.


Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, September 12, 2008 3:28:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 11, 2008
Familybuilder Announces Low-Cost DNA Tests; Global Network
Posted by Diane

Two big announcements from Familybuilder, the company that created the Family Tree genealogy application for social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.
  • First, Familybuilder’s new Global Network brings the Family Tree application outside of social networking sites.
Anyone can create a Family Tree profile on Familybuilder and link it to Family Tree profiles on social networking sites. (More than 20 million Family Tree profiles exist on such sites.) You’ll need a free registration to build a tree or access existing ones. 
  • Second, starting Oct. 15, Familybuilder will offer low-cost DNA tests, focusing on the social networking market. According to a written announcement, “No genealogy service caters to the 300 to 400 million people who use social networks to research their family trees.”
The offerings include a 17-marker Y-DNA test and a mitochondrial (mt) DNA test; both cost $59.95.

FamilyBuilder does have others beat: Compare its 17-marker test with FamilyTreeDNA’s 12-marker test ($149); DNA Testing Systems’ 13-marker test ($200); Chromosomal Labs’ 19-marker test is $260.

A 17-marker test is usually enough to tell you if you’re related to someone, but higher-resolution tests (those that test more markers) are more accurate. For example, it’s possible a 17-marker test may match on 15 of the 17 markers, where a 45-marker test of the same two people might match on 30 out of the 45 markers.

Note that a Y-DNA test doesn’t tell you how you’re related to someone; but it estimates how long ago a common ancestor may have lived.

Many genealogists go straight for the higher-marker tests (my guess is that's the market most traditional genetic genealogy companies concentrate on). Familybuilder says it plans to expand its DNA lineup and is “committed to continuously driving the costs of these tests down over time.”

Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, September 11, 2008 5:27:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Footnote Launches "Facebook for the Deceased"
Posted by Diane

Russ Wilding, CEO of subscription historical records service Footnote appeared at TechCrunch50 (an annual technology conference) to launch Footnote Pages, what CEO Russ Wilder described as "Facebook for the deceased."

 

The product would contain profiles of deceased individuals, populated with the 80 million names from the SSDI. Survivors and friends can find their loved one or start a new page. Then they add information and stories about the person; upload photos; and link profiles of people who went to the same school, worked together, were related or were otherwise associated during life.

 

Here’s where Footnote’s existing historical records collections come into play: You can search Footnote for records related to the deceased person and attach them to his profile.

 

Using the example of a friend who’d died in a motorcycle accident, Wilding added to his profile a map with the accident location, uploaded a high school photo, and linked him to another student at the school.

 

You’ll need a free Footnote membership to create a Footnote Page. To access Footnote’s historical records, you’d need a Footnote subscription ($11.95 per month and $69.95 per year).

 

Marketing director Justin Schroepfer says Footnote was one of 52 applicants selected  from more than 1,000 to present at the TechCrunch50 conference. He and his colleagues had to keep a lid on the news due to an agreement with TechCrunch. 

 

After Wilding’s presentation, TechCrunch50 judges critiqued the idea. One suggested the idea of building an online profile for a deceased person might be disturbing.


Similar memorials are already on other Web sites such as Legacy.com; but Footnote takes it a step further by starting with the SSDI and incorporating historical records.

 

Here’s what Footnote had to say about Footnote Pages in an announcement:

• Even for an audience that might not be as familiar with social networking, these pages allow multiple users to easily contribute content and insights helping to create a more complete picture of the people we care about.

• Maps, timelines, and photo galleries bring these pages to life and add context.

• Footnote Pages helps associate and link pages to others besides the immediate family; such as friends, prominent figures, etc.

• Footnote pages can be used to create tribute pages for family & friends, memorial pages for ancestors or research pages to gather information.

• Pages can also be created to document and discuss historical events, places and organizations (for example, the Vietnam War, the Assassination of John F. Kennedy or the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.


Footnote | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 6:13:51 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
SSDI Now Free on GenealogyBank, Too
Posted by Diane

You have another place to search the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for free.

The subscription historical newspaper service GenealogyBank has made its version of the SSDI—a database of people whose deaths have been reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA)—free. Most deaths listed in the SSDI happened after 1962, but look anyway—my great-grandfather, who died in 1949, is in there.

The SSDI can tell you when and where your ancestor died, and his Social Security number (SSN). You can use the SSN and death information to request his SS-5, the record of his application for a Social Security card. (Learn how in our associate editor's Family Tree Firsts post.)

Other places with the SSDI free include FamilySearch, FamilyTreeLegends, World Vital Records, NewEnglandAncestors.org and RootsWeb. Each site adds new death information from the SSA on a different schedule; GenealogyBank updates its SSDI weekly.

You can search several sites' SSDI databases simultaneously through Stephen P. Morse's One-Step search.


Genealogy Web Sites | Public Records
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:27:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, September 09, 2008
23andMe Demystifies DNA for Ancestry.com Cheek-Swabbers
Posted by Diane

23andMe, the Google-funded company that profiles customers’ genomes, is teaming up with Ancestry.com to beef up the genetic information for Ancestry.com's DNA customers.

Users of Ancestry.com’s DNA testing services will now get access to the same ancestral content available through the 23andMe Web site.

Ancestry DNA offers Y-DNA and mitochondrial (mt) DNA tests for $149 to $179. Y-DNA follows male lines and can help you search for potential cousins in DNA databases; mtDNA informs you about maternal lines and is best for exploring your ancient ancestry.

See an example of the educational materials Ancestry DNA test-takers will get with their test results.

Meanwhile, 23andMe now “democratizes personal genetics” with its $399 genome profiling service (previously, the only available test cost a pricey $999). This test gives you both health- and ancestry-related information about your genes.

Though its service would still empty out most people's piggy banks, the 23andMe Web site does a good job of explaining genetic testing to laypeople. Ancestry.com's DNA customers should benefit.


Ancestry.com | Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, September 09, 2008 8:38:22 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Sunday, September 07, 2008
A Peek Inside the FGS Exhibit Hall
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine’s home last week was in the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference exhibit hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

If you've never been to a genealogy conference, we wanted to invite you in for a look!

 

In here, you’ll find displays and representatives from genealogy publishers, genetic genealogy companies, software manufacturers, libraries and archives, genealogical societies and more.

Visitors also can try out online database services such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Footnote, ProQuest, Genealogy Today, GenealogyBank and others, and pick up tips from the people who help create those services.

Of course, genealogy conferences also offer a great chance to meet other researchers, seek advice from the experts, sit in on great classes and join field trips to local repositories.

Find more genealogy conferences and classes listed in our online events calendar.


Genealogy Events
Sunday, September 07, 2008 9:23:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, September 05, 2008
News From the FGS Conference
Posted by Diane

News-wise, it's been kind of a quiet Federation of Genealogical Societies conference so far, but here are a few of the tidbits we picked up yesterday:

  • The Bureau of Land Management has been quietly adding military warrants to its General Land Office records database.

  • The Irish Family History Foundation has launched an online research service called RootsIreland. Sign up for a free registration with the site, then use it to search nearly 40 million church records at genealogical research centers in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Results show you basic information from the record; viewing a record transcription costs 5 Euros (about $7). You’ll also get information on other records and research services available in your ancestors’ county.

  • ProQuest (the company behind the HeritageQuest database you can access in many libraries) has introduced Historic MapWorks, a service that lets you browse historical maps or search them by keyword, address or latitude and longitude.

Some of the maps have landowners’ names, and you can move around to look at the neighbors and compare the old map to a modern one. It's not in many libraries yet, but ask at your library's reference desk if it's available there.


Genealogy Events | International Genealogy | UK and Irish roots
Friday, September 05, 2008 8:10:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, September 04, 2008
Ancestry.com, FGS Partner on Indexing Projects
Posted by Diane

At today’s opening session of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference in Philadelphia, Ancestry.com and FGS announced the federation is partnering on Ancestry.com’s World Archives Project (now in public beta testing). The project enlists volunteers to index genealogical records.

FGS member societies will sponsor some of those indexing projects by recruiting volunteers and helping with access to records. Volunteers will transcribe information from historical record images, helping to create indexes that’ll remain accessible free on Ancestry.com.

Active indexers also will be able to access record images that are part of the World Archives Project. (Read more about the project in our blog post.)

Similar to FamilySearch Indexing, Ancestry.com will donate a digital copy of the sponsored index and images to the partner organization for a particular record set.

"We’ve been searching for years for the right way to partner with genealogy societies, and we think this project will allow us to help them attract new members by leveraging the popularity of Ancestry.com," says Tim Sullivan, president of Ancestry.com's parent company, The Generations Network.

"We appreciate the encouragement and support FGS provides and look forward to continuing our relationship as this project marches forward."



Thursday, September 04, 2008 8:57:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Conference Underway in Philadelphia
Posted by Diane

The Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Philadelphia got started last night with exhibit hall preview hours. The hall was busy with genealogists; a live events area features product demos and presentations. This morning is the opening session, followed by three days of conferencing—genealogy classes, meetings and exhibit hall shopping.

We'll keep you updated on conference news. Meanwhile, some show-and-tell. I got into Philadelphia early and tooled around to some of the historic sites, including:


Christ Church Burial Ground, whose walls guard Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite (not in this photo) and those of other founding fathers and Christ Church congregation members. Few of the headstones are still readable, but a church record book has told caretakers the inscriptions many stones used to bear.

 
Independence Hall, where the Constitutional Congress debated the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. (The chair at the head of the room is the one from which John Hancock presided over Congress; other chairs aren't original.)


… The Liberty Bell (this is the side opposite the famous crack), which used to be in the Pennsylvania State House. I learned it didn’t crack when the Declaration of Independence was signed—no one knows exactly when the large gap formed, but it was some time between 1817 and 1846.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Oral History
Thursday, September 04, 2008 7:58:58 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 03, 2008
We'd Like Your Feedback!
Posted by Grace

As you poke around our new site, please let us know what you think of it by taking our survey! All your feedback helps us make FamilyTreeMagazine.com even better.


Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, September 03, 2008 3:49:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Picasa Debuts Next-Generation Photo Tagging
Posted by Grace

Google's photo webware Picasa is venturing into the next generation of photo tagging this afternoon with facial-recognition technology. As CNET and TechCrunch report, the new feature labels people in your albums for you. Once you start using "name tags" on your photos, Picasa will suggest other photos that contain the same person (or similar-looking people, or a bike wheel, as one reporter encountered) so you can tag them all at once.

If you've had experience with photo tagging on Picasa or Flickr, you know that it can be a time-consuming process. But the CNET reporter says of the new Picasa: "It took me less than 15 minutes to tag close to 200 faces in a set of more than 100 photos, and that included some start-up time such as figuring out how the system worked, establishing names for various common subjects, and correcting a few errors."

My first question, of course, is how well this technology can be applied to old photos and identifying mystery ancestors. If you've tried tagging your ancestors, leave a comment and tell us about it!


Photos
Tuesday, September 02, 2008 2:53:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, September 01, 2008
Free Database of the Week: Erie Railroad Workers
Posted by Diane

In honor of Labor Day, this week’s free database is the Erie Magazine Last Name Index, created by a Milwaukee-based Erie Railroad fan.

It’s actually not truly a database, since you don’t search it—instead, you browse by last name. Names come from Erie Railroad Magazine, published for workers who helped build the railroad. It started in southern New York (because the upstaters got the canal) and eventually extended into Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois (learn more from the Erie-Lackawanna Historical Society). 

Look around the rest of this railroad enthusiast's great site, too, for historical information, employee rosters, rail officials’ names and resources for continuing your search for Erie and other railroad ancestors.


Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, September 01, 2008 10:11:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
101 Best Sites: Canadian Histories and European Places
Posted by Diane

This week’s highlighted 101 Best Web Sites for genealogy take us to Canada and Europe:

  • Our Roots/Nos Racines: Digitized local histories from across Canada have landed on this site with English and French versions. Topics include the Klondike Gold Rush, Irish immigrants at Grosse-Île, indigenous communities, historic forts and trading posts, and more. Once you've found a volume about the places and times your ancestors experienced, you can search for their names and other terms.

  • Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online: Stumped by European place names? This guide to more than 900,000 places in Europe and around the world covers current and historical geography. Many location listings give coordinates, helping you to find them on a map.

To see all our 101 Best Web Sites for 2008, visit the (new!) FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Monday, September 01, 2008 10:03:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]