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# Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Operation Genealogy Resolution
Posted by Diane

Have you made your genealogy resolutions for 2009?

I’m staying away from vows to find specific information (such as the year my dad’s grandparents immigration to America) because, well, what if I don’t find it?

Instead, I’m resolving to take more steps.  

Resolution No. 1 is to look at my research papers and plan what to do next. Resolution No. 2 is to write at least one information request, order one microfilm, visit one library—do something that makes progress—per month.

Gulp. Now they’re out there and I can’t take them back.

If publicizing your own genealogy resolutions will help keep you honest and prevent procrastination, post them to’s Back Fence Forum. (Note you must register with the Forum to post.)

Here's more genealogy resolution inspiration from Canadian columnist Diana Lynn Tibert, Genealogy’s Kimberly Powell, and the Genealogy Reviews Online blogger.

Research Tips
Tuesday, 30 December 2008 13:35:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 29 December 2008
In Case You're Wondering (Genealogy FAQs)
Posted by Diane

At Family Tree Magazine, we hear many of the same family tree-related questions over and over. I thought I’d answer a few of them here.

You’ll find even more FAQs (and the answers) on our Web site.

Q. How am I related to … [insert description of relative]?

A. It depends who’s the most-recent shared ancestor between you and the relative in question, and how many generations lie between each of you and that ancestor. Find an explanation here and a chart to help you figure it all out here.

Q. We’ve always heard we’re related to [fill in the famous name—John Brown, Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln are common ones]. How do we know for sure?

A. Lots of families have stories like this, and they’re not all true. To find out about yours, carefully research your family tree using reliable sources. You’ll also need to find the family tree of the person you might be related to (link to several famous trees here) and compare the trees to find people common to both.

Q. Why can't I find my ancestor on the Ellis Island Web site?

A. Ellis Island, open from 1892 through 1924, was the busiest US port of immigration, but it wasn't the only one. Cities all along the coasts received immigrants, including Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Galveston, San Francisco and others. Your ancestor may have arrived at one of these ports, or before Ellis Island opened, or overland from Canada or Mexico. See a list of ports and existing records for each on the National Archives Web site.
Q. My daughter learned she and her fiancé share an ancestor. Can they still marry?

A. It’s common for spouses to share an ancestor somewhere back in time—in fact, all states allow marriage between second or more-distant cousins. See a summary of state laws governing cousin marriages at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Celebrity Roots | immigration records | Research Tips
Monday, 29 December 2008 10:48:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 19 December 2008
101 Best Sites: Castle Garden Arrivals and Online Trees
Posted by Diane

Two highlights from our 101 Best Web Sites listing for 2008:
  • Castle Garden: If your ancestors arrived in New York before Ellis Island opened in 1892, turn to this database on 10 million immigrants who entered through Ellis Island’s predecessor, Castle Garden. Castle Garden opened in 1855, but the records here start in 1830.
  • Tribal Pages: This innovative collaboration site hosts family Web sites with more than 175,000 pedigree files, plus a database of names in those family trees. You can keep track of birthdays and other events, and generate charts and reports right from the site. Free sites let you store an unlimited number of names in your tree and up to 50 photos; after that, you can upgrade for a fee.
Link to the rest of our 101 Best Sites on

Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 19 December 2008 14:57:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 18 December 2008
Florida State Censuses Now on
Posted by Diane

Take note if your ancestors lived in Florida: The subscription genealogy site has added a collection of several Sunshine State censuses: 1867, 1875, 1885, 1935 and 1945 (these last two can help fill in gaps after the latest federal census open to researchers in 1930).

These records total 3.8 million names—some of which may sound familiar, such as actress Faye Dunaway, a 4-year-old in 1945; former attorney general Janet Reno, who lived in Dade County at age 6 in 1945; and NASCAR founder William France, Sr., a Daytona auto mechanic in 1935.

Not all states took censuses, but where they're available, they're great for researching between federal censuses. State censuses taken around 1890 can substitute for that missing federal census.

Find a state-by-state list of state censuses here. Records are usually on microfilm at the state archives or library, as well as at the Family History Library (you can borrow the film through a Family History Center near you). has censuses from states besides Florida, including Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, New York and others.

census records
Thursday, 18 December 2008 09:16:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Test Your Civil War Knowledge
Posted by Diane

Need a quick coffee-break activity this morning or afternoon? Try your brain at the Civil War Preservation Trust’s 10-question Civil War quiz.

You’ll also learn a bit about the trust’s battlefield preservation activities this year, which include saving 49 more acres of the Brandy Station battlefield and 117 acres on Morris Island, and launching campaigns focused on Bentonville and Shiloh.

Historic preservation | Social History
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:11:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Search Burials and Cemetery Maps on New Site
Posted by Diane

This site is just getting off the ground, but it’ll be really cool if it takes off.

Names in Stone is a cemetery mapping site—you can search for a grave and get a map showing where it is in the cemetery and whose plots are nearby.

Only a handful of cemeteries are covered as yet, mostly in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and California.

You can encourage larger, managed cemeteries to participate, or map smaller, volunteer-run cemeteries yourself and upload the data. (Get instructions on the site. More mapping tips are on an associated blog called Grave Mappers.)

It’s free to search on a name and see available details from that person’s headstone—could be birth and death dates, burial date, parents’ names, military service, etc.—as well as the grave location (shown below), cemetery name, cemetery map, address, GPS coordinates and driving directions.

You can purchase virtual gravestone décor; you decorate the stone yourself by dragging and dropping images of flowers and swags.

Paying members ($7.95 per month, $39.99 per year) can save searches, save a “cemeteries of interest” list, be notified of matches to automated searches and receive discounts on gravestone décor.

Cemeteries | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 16 December 2008 09:10:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 15 December 2008
101 Best Sites: Illinois Records and Free Data
Posted by Diane

Here are this week’s 101 best Web sites highlights (I’ve got a couple of week’s to make up for, so you may see more soon):
  • Illinois State Archives Online Databases: Illinois has put many indexes online. You can search statewide indexes of marriages (1763 to 1900) and deaths (pre-1916 and 1916 to 1950), plus veterans' records ranging from the War of 1812 to the 1929 Roll of Honor. An index to the Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (called IRAD) will tell you where to go next in search of records on your Prairie State ancestors.
  • 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). They’ve got a nice beginner’s guide, too.
See the rest of our 101 Best Web Sites on

Want to nominate your favorite site? Post the URL in our Nominations for 101 Best Web Sites Forum category and say why you like the site. Note you must be registered with the Forum to post.

Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 15 December 2008 16:32:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 11 December 2008
Genealogy Books Discounted at Warehouse Sale
Posted by Grace

And if you're in the Cincinnati area, you might remember the legendary warehouse sales F+W used to host—people came from all over to browse through thousands of overstock items.

This year we've brought back the sale in the form of with a bricks-and-mortar location where you can browse thousands of books under $10—including plenty of genealogy, family history and writing titles! The warehouse sale runs until January 4 at the site of the former Linens N Things:

Governor’s Plaza Center
9131 Fields Ertel Road (exit #19 off I-71)
Cincinnati, OH 45249

9 am-9 pm Monday through Saturday
10 am-7 pm on Sundays

Genealogy fun
Thursday, 11 December 2008 17:32:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 10 December 2008
New Site Details Slave Ships' Voyages
Posted by Diane

A new site just launched to preserve the story of the slave trade and the Africans who became part of the largest forced migration in modern history.

Voyages has an African Names database with details on more than 67,000 slaves who were captive on slave vessels during the 19th century.

None of those Africans made it to the Americas, though—the ships were captured by naval cruisers after Britain and the US outlawed the slave trade in 1807. (Britain abolished slavery altogether in the British West Indies in 1838; the United States prohibited it in 1865.)

For that reason, and because Africans were identified by given names only, it's unlikely you'll find an ancestor here.

A Voyages database details nearly 35,000 journeys of ships (but not the passengers) that did deliver slaves to the New World—you'll see the name of the ship, captain's name, year, and where slaves were purchased and sold.

Through its essays, maps and charts, the site sheds a fascinating light on the slave trade from 1514 until the last recorded slave voyage to the Americas in 1866. Estimates show 12.5 million African slaves were transported across the Atlantic between 1525 and 1866. As late as 1820, nearly four Africans had crossed the Atlantic for every European.

The databases were compiled from data scholars have collected over decades, and published online thanks to several grants. See Voyages' Understanding the Database section for in-depth guidance on using the site.

African-American roots
Wednesday, 10 December 2008 14:56:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 08 December 2008
Save Money on Photo Gifts
Posted by Diane

Still at a loss for what to give relatives this year? How about turning a calendar, mug, puzzzle, keychain, album or other item into a keepsake by adding a special photo (or photos)?

And you can save money with the holiday specials at several online photo services:
  • Snapfish is posting a new special every 48 hours. Until midnight tonight (Dec. 8), for example, 12-month photo calendars are 33 percent off.
  • Shutterfly is taking up to 30 percent off photo books and 25 percent off calendars, and giving free shipping on orders of $50 or more.
  • MyCanvas (part of is offering 20 percent savings on all products through Christmas Eve.
  • American Greetings' PhotoWorks has a buy one/get one free offer for photo calendars that ends Dec. 31. And now through Dec. 12, photo books are discounted and shipping is free on orders of $20 or more.
  • I didn’t see any holiday specials at Photomama, but you get 50 free prints for signing up and there are some unique gifts such as t-shirts, pet bowls and lollipops adorned with photos.
If you sign up with Ebates and then start your shopping from there (select the Electronics and Photo category, then Photo Services), you’ll get cash back for purchases on participating photo and other Web sites.

Celebrating your heritage | Photos
Monday, 08 December 2008 09:09:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 05 December 2008
Footnote Releases Web's Biggest WWII Collection
Posted by Diane

Subscription historical records site Footnote has posted the Web's largest collection of WWII records just in time for Pearl Harbor Day (Dec. 7)—and they’re free for a limited time.

Footnote CEO Russ Wilding and National Archives programs director James Hastings made the official announcement this morning at a Washington, DC, press conference.

The collection offers four main components:
  • An interactive version of the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii (it's similar to Footnote’s free, interactive Vietnam Wall memorial) showing servicemembers who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor. You can search for a name and link to its image on the memorial, as well as get details about the person’s service. Or you can manuever across a giant image of the memorial.
  • WWII Hero Pages—similar to the free, Social Security Death Index-based Footnote Pages released earlier this year—which lets you create an online tribute for your WWII ancestor with photos, timelines and stories. More than 8.8 million pages have already been created.
  • WWII photos, consisting of more than 80,000 digitized images from the National Archives that haven’t been online until now. You can browse by topic or search captions that highlight the people, places and events in the images.
  • WWII documents include submarine air patrol reports, missing crew reports, news clippings, Pearl Harbor muster rolls, JAG files and more.
Note the collection doesn’t include WWII military service records. These records, stored at the National Archives’ National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, are restricted for privacy reasons. A servicemember—or if he’s deceased, his next-of-kin—can request his file. See the center’s Web site for more information.

No specifics on how long the collection will stay free, though I’d hazard a guess that the USS Arizona Memorial and Hero Pages will be permanently free.

PS: I just learned that is the case, and the photos also will remain free. The document collection will be free for all of December.

Footnote | Military records
Friday, 05 December 2008 11:11:51 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Search Burials in Two English Counties (Mostly Free!)
Posted by Diane

Richard Smart wrote me from across the pond about an organization he directs, The National Archive of Memorial Inscriptions.

On its Web site, you’ll find a database of 170,000 names from 580 burial grounds in Bedfordshire and Norfolk, and it’s added to regularly.

You can search by name, a death date range, age range at death, county, and place. Wildcards work: ? stands for one letter; * (asterisk) substitutes for any number of letters.

You get quite a bit of information for free—first and last name, burial ground and county, and date of death. Buy the full inscription for 4 pounds (about $6), and for most records, add historical text, a photo of the church and/or a plan of the graveyard for 1 pound (about $1.50) each.

Fuzzy on the details of your ancestor’s burial, or want to see who else is in a graveyard?

Smart shared this tip for browsing: “If you enter any place from the Availability page, in either Bedfordshire or Norfolk, into the Place box on the home page, you will get free of charge a listing of all the data available from that place, except for the actual inscription.”

Cemeteries | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 05 December 2008 08:40:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 03 December 2008
Google Expands News Archive By 20 Million Historical Pages
Posted by Diane

Google has enhanced its historical newspaper initiative by buying 20 million digitized historical newspaper pages from Canadian company PaperofRecord. The purchase price wasn't available.

The pages—some dating back to the 1700s—will be part of the Google News Archive Search, launched in early September “to make more old newspapers accessible and searchable online.”

My search came up with a few interesting early-1900s stories on Haddads (none related, that I know of) in newspapers and books. I found the timeline search more useful—it was easier to pick out results from the era of interest.

PaperofRecord has digitized newspapers from Canada, the United States, Mexico and Europe.

According to the Ottawa Business Journal, the purchase—the end of a two-year agreement between the companies—will "essentially shut down" PaperofRecord. Its troubles started when companies such as ProQuest began paying newspapers to digitize pages—the opposite of what PaperofRecord was doing.

In another month or so, PaperofRecord's online database will redirect to Google.

Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 03 December 2008 14:11:37 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 02 December 2008
"Finest State Genealogy Library" Planned for Ohio
Posted by Diane

Ohio genealogists will soon get a new research destination. “We have achieved full funding for our new building project,” reports E. Paul Morehouse, president of the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS).

Construction starts early next year on "the finest state genealogical library in the country," says OGS spokesperson Wally Huskonen in an announcement.

The 18,000-square-foot library near Mansfield, Ohio, will have climate-controlled space for archives, a reading room, a preservation and digitization lab, meeting space, classrooms and offices.

In mid-November, a $350,000 grant from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission brought the total to $2,564,889—just past OGS' $2.5 million goal. Fundraising continues, though, to pay a loan from the Department of Agriculture and build a maintenance fund for the facility.

OGS is the country's largest state genealogical society, with more than 6,000 members in 95 chapters.

Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, 02 December 2008 08:47:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 01 December 2008
What Your Favorite Genealogist Really Wants From Santa
Posted by Diane

Funny how a weekend that seemed endless when I woke up that first free day passed by so quickly. But it was nice and full: celebrating with friends and family, walking the dog (I was at home during daylight hours!) and finishing 85 percent of my Christmas shopping.

With the onset of holiday shopping season, may we suggest these gifts for the family historian in your life:
  • Membership in a local genealogical society (do a Google search or see Society Hill for contact information)
  • Gift certificate to a Web site such as Snapfish or Shutterfly, where your favorite genealogist can turn old photos into photo books, collages, picture mugs, notecards and more
  • a chauffered trip to a research repository or genealogy workshop, maybe with lunch (your treat)
  • a day at a history museum
What’s on your genealogy wish list this year? Click Comments (below) to tell us (then slip your significant other the link to this post!).

For readers in Family Tree Magazine’s hometown of Cincinnati, our company is holding a warehouse sale that includes how-to books on sewing, writing, woodworking, painting and tons of other hobbies—including, yes, genealogy. Click here for the location and directions.

No matter where you live, you can check out this bargain book selection online at

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Industry
Monday, 01 December 2008 15:08:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]