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# Friday, 27 February 2009
Genealogy News and Resource Roundup
Posted by Diane

Weekend in sight! Here’s a gathering of genealogy updates that made their way across my desk this week:
  • Subscription and pay-per-view British genealogy service  has a new collection of Professional member lists including Engineers Who’s Who 1939 (which has many engineers at work preparing for war) and the 1923 Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
  • New on subscription site World Vital Records this week are 10 databases of birth, marriage and death information from genealogy books on Ireland, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. See the details here.
  • Check out upcoming additions on its Coming Soon page. They include improved US census images, naturalization records, more WWII draft cards, circuit curt criminal case files and more. | FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 27 February 2009 15:39:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Start This Sunday With Genealogy TV
Posted by Diane

Family historians get a two-fer this weekend on CBS “Sunday Morning”: Topics include keeping your family’s memories technologically accessible and the first national census. Bet this show would go great with pancakes.

Celebrating your heritage | Genealogy Events
Friday, 27 February 2009 11:46:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 25 February 2009
FamilyLink Raises $2.85 Million in Capital
Posted by Diane

Look for continued growth from, owner of World Vital Records, FamiliyHistoryLink, the soon-to-come and the We’re Related social networking application (which is not related to the wiki We Relate).

The company has raised $2.85 million in “Series B” funding (the second round of preferred stock in a private company offered to venture capitalists). The initial round of funding in August 2007 brought in $1.25 million.'s announcement also notes the company turned profitable late last year. Thirty people work at its US offices in Seattle; Boulder, CO; and Provo, Utah. It has development offices in India and the Philippines.

Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 11:50:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 24 February 2009
South Carolina Slave Records to Go Online
Posted by Diane

More genealogy records are coming to Lowcountry Africana, a Web site and research project to study the Gullah/Geechee cultural heritage of those with African-American roots in South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida.

Working with the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Lowcountry Africana will digitize more than 25,000 documents from Charleston estate inventories dated 1732 to 1867. They include the names of more than 30,000 slaves.

More than 14,000 South Carolina bills of sale (1773 to 1872), most for transactions involving slaves, also will be digitized. They’re already indexed along with other resources on the South Carolina Archives Web site (click Series Descriptions to see what all else is there).

The index and digital images will be free on both Lowcountry Africana and the South Carolina archives’ site. You can volunteer to index the records at AfriQuest, another Lowcountry Africana site.

African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 14:08:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Our Organizing Extravaganza
Posted by Diane

If you’re feeling guilty because you haven’t jumped on that New Year’s resolution to organize your genealogy files, this post won’t make you feel any better. (But be consoled by the tips at the end.)

The accumulated paper and other stuff was getting to be a bit much here at Family Tree Magazine. So last Friday, we held an all-out, all-day organizing extravaganza.

Not a file drawer, bookshelf, box, or folder on the server escaped our critical “do we really need this?” collective scrutiny. (Here, Allison displays her recycling skills.)

Associate editor Grace Dobush and art director Christy Miller sorted through props and film from way back before photo shoots went digital.

Where was I? Taking care of my desk drawer, an “after” desperately waiting to happen.

It always looks worse before it looks better. We emptied boxes in a requisitioned cubicle and sorted and arranged. This …

became this …

and this …

I feel refreshed. Energized! Like our time investment in revising filing systems and straightening storage spots will make us more efficient and quicker on the job.

If you want to have your own organizing day, pizza for lunch helps the motivation. And see these tips on

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Research Tips
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 12:29:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Monday, 23 February 2009
Slave Spies Helped Win Civil War
Posted by Diane

Interesting article on CNN today about African-American slaves who helped the Union effort in the Civil War by spying on their Southern owners.
After Confederate president Jefferson Davis’ slave William Jackson escaped in 1861, he provided the Union with valuable information he’d overheard about supply routes and strategy. Harriet Tubman, Robert Smalls and countless others also delivered secret intelligence. Union soldiers called their reports “black dispatches.”

Ken Dagler, author of a book titled Black Dispatches (who’s also “written extensively on the issue for the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence”) tells CNN that slaves’ reliance on oral tradition gave them practice memorizing details.

For the life of me, I couldn’t find Dagler’s book online to link to. But I did find this article on the CIA Web site by a P.K. Rose of the CIA Directorate of Operations, and a Library of Congress listing for a book Black Dispatches also by P.K. Rose.

Waaaaaaait a minute. Dagler works for the CIA ... so does P.K. Rose ... are you catching my drift?

African-American roots | Military records
Monday, 23 February 2009 09:41:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 19 February 2009
Photo Book Discount at Shutterfly
Posted by Grace

Heard through the grapevine that Shutterfly is offering 20 percent off its photo books—plus two free 8x10s—with the promo code BOOKSANDPRINTS. Offer ends March 10.

Celebrating your heritage | Photos
Thursday, 19 February 2009 08:53:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Newspaper Site Unveils User-friendly Search Updates
Posted by Diane

The historical newspaper and document subscription site GenealogyBank just announced a few changes to its search:
  • You can simultaneously search all GenealogyBank's digitized newspapers from one or more states by clicking on Historical Newspapers and selecting your states.
  • To search papers from a city (or two or more) in the same state, start by clicking on the state, then select your cities from the map.
  • To search specific newspapers, select a city as previously described, then choose titles based in that city. (Looks like you can't search papers published in different cities.)
  • You can limit your search to recently added content, too, by choosing from the dropdown menu on any of the abovementioned search pages.
  • To limit your search to article category (such as obituaries or birth notices), click on the category you want on the left side of your search results page.
GenealogyBank subscriptions cost  $19.95 per month or $69.95 per year.

Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 13:52:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Pennsylvania State Library May Face Severe Cuts
Posted by Diane

According to the Web site, the State Library of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg will see massive cuts if Gov. Ed Rendall’s proposed budget for 2009-2010 goes through.

Of the library's 57 positions, the plan would eliminate 50 and transfer one, leaving six staff members to maintain public access to the library’s resources.

Those resources include government publications, a book collection Benjamin Franklin started, historical newspapers, and a genealogy room with maps, state and county histories, church and cemetery records, and more.

The library’s budget would be half its current $4.8 million.

Read the PennLive article here and see the budget proposal on the Pennsylvania Library Association Web site.

Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 12:23:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Chinese Canadians Profiled on Genealogy Wiki
Posted by Diane

Canada’s Vancouver Public Library (which started the Chinese-Canadian Genealogy Web site) and Library and Archives Canada have created a genealogy wiki centered around the country’s Chinese Immigration List.

The list bears the names of Canadian-born Chinese who registered with the government as required by the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923. Designed to curtail Chinese immigration to Canada, the act joined a procession of laws levying head taxes on Chinese immigrants. The regulations were finally lifted in 1947.

The wiki contains transcribed information on 461 people recorded on the list, covering the years from Won Alexander Cumyow’s birth in 1861 to Lee Kang Gee’s birth in 1900 (both were born in British Columbia, where most of Canada's Chinese residents lived).

Researchers with more details on any of the 461 individuals can help build their profiles—see the Participate page to get started.

You can search 98,361 names from Canada's General Registers of Chinese Immigration at the online Canadian Genealogy Center.

See the May 2009 Family Tree Magazine (now mailing to subscribers; on sale March 10) for more help researching immigrants to Canada from all over the world.

Asian roots | Canadian roots | Free Databases | immigration records
Tuesday, 17 February 2009 14:27:10 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 13 February 2009
Looking for a Genealogy Learning Opportunity?
Posted by Grace

A few genealogy events are coming down the pike, including:

Family History Expos—St. George: Family Tree Magazine is a sponsor of this laid-back conference in sunny St. George, Utah, Feb. 27 and 28. Registration costs $60 until Feb. 14 (get a move on!) and $65 after.

Ohio Genealogical Society: This large state society confabs April 2-5 in Huron, Ohio. (If you love roller coasters, Cedar Point isn’t far away.) March 15 is the early registration deadline; download the conference brochure for prices.

National Genealogical Society (NGS): We hope to see you at this conference in Raleigh, NC, May 13-16. Register before March 31 for the early-bird discount (check out the new NGS Web site while you’re at it).

Jamboree: This energetic Southern California Genealogical Society event is June 26-28 in Burbank. I didn’t see registration information yet, but you can book your hotel and sign up to get updates.

International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies: Online registration just opened for this conference in Philadelphia Aug. 2-7. (The program schedule listing classes is still to come.)

Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS): FGS is headed to Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 2-5. You can register online—it’s $175 until June 2. (Download the printable registration form to see at-the-door registration fees.)

See more genealogy events and post your group’s events in our online calendar. Posting instructions are in the FAQs and Updates Forum.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Friday, 13 February 2009 09:12:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 12 February 2009
More Civil War Records on
Posted by Diane

Subscription site has joined the records-posting party on this occasion of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. Here's what's new in the site's Civil War collection:
  • The Abraham Lincoln Papers includes more than 20,000 letters written to and from the president, as well as drafts of his speeches. (This collection is free.)
  • New Orleans Slave Manifests, 1807 to 1860, has ship manifests (from National Archives microfilm) documenting more than 30,000 slaves en route to New Orleans from the upper Southern states.
You can browse the record images, but you can't search them yet. World Archives Project volunteers are indexing them as you read this. See some transcribed information free on Afrigeneas.
  • Confederate Applications for Presidential Pardons contains records of former Confederates who requested pardons.
Lincoln successor Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation of general amnesty for Confederates, but it didn't cover certain groups such as government officials, higher ranking military officers and those with property valued at more than $20,000. Those people had to apply for pardons.
  • Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles has information on nearly every officer and soldier who fought in the Civil War (compiled from sources such as state rosters and regimental histories).

African-American roots | | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Thursday, 12 February 2009 10:07:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
What’s Up at FamilyLink
Posted by Diane

FamilyLink, the company behind the World Vital Records subscription data service and genealogy networking site, has a new, nice-looking corporate site.

Click Projects for information on upcoming products such as (now in private beta, it’ll let you view historical happenings by time, place, event or person) and GenSeek (billed as a service that'll "revolutionize" how you do genealogy, GenSeek is rumored to be the Web 2.0 incarnation of the Family History Library online catalog).

PS: For much more on GenSeek, see Tamura Jones' blog.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 12 February 2009 09:26:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 11 February 2009
ProQuest Expands Historical Periodical, Newspaper and Map Offerings
Posted by Diane

These news items come from ProQuest, which provides libraries with services such as ProQuest Historical Newspapers and HeritageQuest Online that are free to patrons.
  • ProQuest is getting together with the Center for Research Libraries (a consortium of 240 college, university and other libraries) to offer digital access to 3 million pages of US trade, special-interest and general periodicals from the 19th and 20th centuries. Magazines include American Annual of Photography, The Labor Journal, American Jewish Advocate and Woman’s Protest Against Woman Suffrage and others.
Even if these titles don’t mention your ancestor, they'll enlighten you about his of her occupation, hobbies and interests, and suggest where to look next for records.
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers is expanding to include The Baltimore Sun from 1837 to 1985. The span covers Baltimore’s role as a busy immigration and trade center, as well as Maryland’s role as a slave-holding border state during the Civil War.
Check your local library’s Web site or call the reference desk see if it offers access to these data services. You may be able to use them from home through the library Web site.

Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Social History
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 10:39:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 10 February 2009
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Moves Again
Posted by Diane

Our post about the debut of NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" celebrity-reality-genealogy TV series sparked some commentary on what humankind needs more: Another reality show or a hole in our heads.

Looks like you'll have more time to decide whether to watch (or be swayed by the success of the British show of the same name). Lisa Louise Cooke at Genealogy Gems reports the show's debut has been pushed back from April 20 to sometime during the summer. Learn more on the Genealogy Gems blog.

Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 08:30:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 09 February 2009
Finding Ancestors on Passenger Lists: What Can Go Awry (and How Not to Let It)
Posted by Diane

I’m 90 percent sure my long search for my immigrant great-grandparents' passenger list has come to an end. A few small but significant details dragged out my search—maybe my “lessons learned” will help you.

I’d searched passenger lists on, the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Ellis Island and the Canadian Genealogy Center. I tried crazy name variations, no names and 10-year arrival windows. Once, I realized I was on the 75th page of search results.

Since my ancestors tooled around the South for years, I decided they must’ve immigrated through Galveston and the 1900 hurricane ruined their records.

Then last week’s naturalization record discovery provided a port and date of arrival (New York, Oct. 15, 1900), and my great-grandfather’s name in Syria: Fadlallah.

But I still couldn’t find the passenger list!

So I went to Stephen Morse’s enhanced one-step search for Ellis Island, where you can search by date (rather than just year). First I entered the search terms straight from the naturalization papers. Nothing. I tried other months in late 1900. Nope.

Then the key step: I removed the first name and searched a month at a time. Fadlo Hadad jumped out on a Nov. 4 list. My great-grandfather used Fadlow on his WWI draft registration, and made it his son’s middle name. Could it be a short form of Fadallah? (If anyone’s in the know on this, feel free to comment.)

Beneath Fadlo on the record was wife Maria. My great-grandmother Mary also shows up in various records as Mattie and Marianna. The Ellis Island indexer kindly recorded her as Maria Hadad rather than wife. I probably came across this record early in my research and discounted it because I didn’t recognize Fadlo.

The 10 percent uncertainty level comes from the name, their ages—17 and 21, both two years too old, according to other records—and the origin of Turkey (albeit with the last residence Arabo, as the ship’s Neopolitan clerk recorded it). I do have another record giving Turkey as my Syrian ancestor’s homeland, and I haven't found any other Fadlos or Fadlows close to my ancestor's age in US records.

But I still couldn’t find Fadlo in’s immigration collection. I searched on Maria Fadlo, and Maria showed up, indexed as Maria Fadlo Wife. Below her in the results was her husband, indexed with Hadad as the first name, Fadlo as the last.

Another look at the list—the ship’s clerk switched from recording passengers last-name-first to recording them first-name-first. The indexer transcribed exactly what was on the record; the Ellis Island indexer did some genealogical deduction.

So, my lessons learned:
  • Look for evidence of different names your ancestor may have used, and repeat searches as you learn more.
  • Search different databases.
  • Try last-name only searches.
  • Search for women on the first name wife (another lady on the list was recorded the same way).
  • Try switching the first and last names in your search.
  • If you have a rough idea of an arrival date, browse by date.

immigration records | Research Tips
Monday, 09 February 2009 09:05:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Friday, 06 February 2009
101 Best Web Sites: African-American Roots
Posted by Diane

In observance of Black History month, this week we’ll highlight Web sites from our “Best for African-American Researchers” category:
  • Lowcountry Africana: This free site focuses on records that document the heritage of African-Americans in the historic rice-growing areas of South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida, home to the distinctive Gullah/Geechee culture. Records include those of the wealthy Drayton family, which owned several plantations, plus Freedmen's Bureau and Freedman's Bank papers.
See the rest of the 101 Best Web sites on, or go right to the African-American roots sites.

See our African-American genealogy research toolkit here.

African-American roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 06 February 2009 13:55:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 04 February 2009
Logging Lincoln's Life
Posted by Diane

A plethora of parties are planned to honor the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth Feb. 12. (That’s also the 82nd anniversary of my grandma’s birth and the ninth anniversary of my nephew’s birth, so I’ll have to divvy up my celebrating.)
  • Go to the Lincoln Bicentennial Web site to find local observances, get facts on the 16th president’s life and download the text of his speeches and letters.
  • Historical records site Footnote is showcasing its Abraham Lincoln "person page" with a timeline, stories and digitized photos and articles (including a reward poster seeking assassin John Wilkes Booth and accomplices John H. Surrat and David C. Harold).  
Rumors persist that Thomas Lincoln wasn’t Abraham’s biological father. They’re addressed in Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President by Edward Steers Jr. (University Press of Kentucky), available for preview through Google Books. Link to it from our Google library.
You may be a cousin and not know it—supposedly, Abraham Lincoln kept quiet about his family because he believed his mother was born out of wedlock. No one's found records to prove or disprove his suspicions. But maybe he didn't have to worry so much: the fact we're celebrating 200 years later shows actions speak louder than ancestry.

Celebrity Roots | Social History
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 15:48:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 02 February 2009
Genealogical Lightning Strikes Twice
Posted by Grace

Diane wasn't the only one getting lucky with Footnote in the office today—I found my great-grandfather's naturalization papers in Footnote's Northern Ohio naturalizations collection!

My great-grandfather's witnesses on his petition for naturalization have opened up a few new avenues into discovering Wasyl's life. (I don't recognize either of the names.) I feel lucky to have found such a great photo of him—I only have one other—and a signature, to boot? Goldmine!

I had a little fun with Google Maps, too—it turns out that Diane's great-grandfather and my great-grandfather lived a mere 2 miles from each other on Cleveland's West Side around 1940. Maybe they once met!

Family Tree Firsts | Footnote | immigration records
Monday, 02 February 2009 15:45:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
New FamilySearch Records Span the Globe
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch (the folks behind the Family History Library and branch Family HIstory Centers) has added a bunch of records to its record search pilot—40 million, to be exact, since Jan. 5.

Most are international, among them birth, marriage, and death records for the Netherlands and Ireland. Here’s a list:
  • Argentina: 1869 national census
  • Canada: 1916 census of the prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta)
  • Costa Rica: church records, 1595 to 1992
  • Germany: burials 1500 to 1900
  • Ireland: Civil registration indexes 1845 to1958
  • Mexico: Aguascalientes Catholic church records, 1616 to 1961
  • Netherlands: births and baptisms, marriages, and deaths and burials
  • Philippines: marriages
US additions include San Francisco-area funeral home records (1835 to 1931) and updates to the databases for the 1820, 1850 and 1880 federal censuses, as well as 1850 slave and mortality schedules.

FamilySearch | International Genealogy
Monday, 02 February 2009 13:43:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Naturalization Records Found—O Genealogy Joy!
Posted by Diane

My grandfather’s resume says his father was naturalized in 1944 in Cleveland. So a couple of years ago, I sent off a Freedom of Information Act request for those records to the Citizenship and Immigration Service. No dice.

Then when I noticed the subscription records site Footnote was posting citizenship papers from the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern District, I started eyeing the “percent completed” bar as it ticked upward.

Every once in awhile, I’d search. Still nothing. I wondered if my grandfather fibbed, thinking he’d have a better chance at a job if his dad were a citizen. (Grandpa made himself 10 years younger on the same resume.)

Friday I tried again. I clicked on a match, even though the first name was all wrong. And it was my great-grandfather! His address and birth date; his wife’s death information; and the kids’ names and birth dates confirmed it. Looks like his name in Syria was Fadlallah. I knew him only as Mike in US records—I guess if you're gonna Americanize your name, you might as well go all the way.

Best of all, his picture’s on the 1942 declaration of intention (also called “first papers”). I’d never seen him.

Also part of the file was an oath sworn by two associates and a 1944 petition for naturalization (“second papers”).

Naturalization papers state the immigrant’s date and port of arrival, and ship name (though I’m pretty sure my great-grandparents didn’t really sail on the SS Unknown). Now it’ll be a piece of cake, I thought, to find them on a passenger list.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Aside from getting creative with passenger list searching (I’m going to try Steve Morse’s Ellis Island One-Step Search), here are some things for follow-up:  
  • Naturalization papers give birthplaces for the applicant's children, so I'll look for birth records for my great-unces and great-aunt. 
  • The declaration of intention says my great-grandfather filed first papers in Cleveland in 1918—they would’ve expired without being followed up by second papers within seven years. I didn't find a 1918 record, so I'll look into what's going on with that.
  • Research the guys who swore oaths on my great-grandfather’s behalf.
See for guidance on locating your ancestors' naturalization records.

Footnote's naturalization records collection is here.

Family Tree Firsts | Footnote | immigration records
Monday, 02 February 2009 09:42:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]