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More Links

# Friday, 29 May 2009
Genealogy News Corral May 25-29
Posted by Diane

News from the genealogy world wasn't overly earth-shattering this week, but we do have some updates that might interest you:
One addition, the Protestation Returns, which record religious loyalty oaths from males in England from 1641 to 1642, is free for 10 days (from May 28).
  • passed 8 billion records in its databases (a record in this case is a name, not a document). The vital records collection is biggest, with 1,100 million records and 38.9 million document images; followed by censuses at 900 million records and 27.7 million images.
On deck at Improving the census collection (1790 through 1900 censuses should be updated by year’s end), newspapers from 50 new cities and early city directories.
Click here to volunteer to index some records. | FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 29 May 2009 13:35:26 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 27 May 2009
New Navigation Makes Easier to Use
Posted by Diane

Genealogy subscription site changed its main navigation in an effort to make the site quicker and easier to get around.

The changes don't look huge, but you'll probably really appreciate them if you use the site much at all. Here’s the new nav bar (shrunk to fit).

My favorite change: Just yesterday, I was wishing for a faster way to get to the US census databases. Today, instead of clicking the Search tab on the home page and then waiting for the page to load so I can click more until I get to the database I want, I just hover over the Search tab for a drop-down menu of most-used databases—including the census (now they just need to list all the US censuses on the left side of the census search page, and we’ll be good to go).

The Family trees drop-down menu gives you quick links to your own trees, to start a new tree and to upload a GEDCOM. Under Collaborate (the former Community area), you’ll find links to the World Archives project, message board, member directory and your public profile. Learning Center options include getting started steps, the blog and FAQs.

The DNA, Publish and Shop buttons don’t have drop-down menus. Click these to go to, respectively, Ancestry DNA, MyCanvas and the store.

Buttons for your to-do list and quick links are in the top right corner of every page.

According to the blog, it may take a few days yet to add the new navigation to every page on the site.
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 09:26:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Donna Reed: A Pinup and a Penpal
Posted by Grace

A Memorial Day tale to warm even the coldest hearts: The actress Donna Reed corresponded personally with World War II GIs, keeping hundreds of the letters, which her children just made public.

Soldiers wrote lots of letters to pinup girls during WWII, but few of these ladies had the down-home appeal of Reed, who went on to star in "It's a Wonderful Life," and surely none were as prolific. From the article:

At 84, Edward Skvarna is retired and living in Covina, Calif. But in 1943, he was fresh out of high school in a mill town near Pittsburgh, newly enlisted in the Army Air Forces and training in Kansas to be a right gunner on a B-29 when he met Ms. Reed at a U.S.O. canteen and asked her to dance.

“I had never danced with a celebrity before, so I felt delighted, privileged even, to meet her,” Mr. Skvarna recalled in a telephone interview this month. “But I really felt she was like a girl from back home. She was from a smaller community, and we were more or less the same age, so I felt she was the kind of person I could talk to.”

Sent to Asia, Mr. Skvarna kept up a sporadic correspondence with her as he flew reconnaissance missions. On May 7, 1945, based in the Marianas, he wrote of receiving a letter of hers that made him “jump with joy” and of a visit he made to a rajah’s palace in India; he also sent photographs of himself and asked for a snapshot of her in return.

“It’s amazing to me that she kept so many of those letters,” Mr. Skvarna said. “It tells you something about the caliber of person she was.”
Click here to read the whole story and see a slideshow of images of her letters.

Historic preservation | Military records | Social History
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 17:32:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
GeneTree Offers Deal for Y-DNA Donors to SMGF Database
Posted by Diane

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of men who donated DNA samples and pedigree information to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), your genealogical largesse is being rewarded.

Genetic-genealogy and social networking site GeneTree is extending a special offer to SMGF Y-DNA donors.

Those men didn’t receive test results when they donated their Y-DNA to SMGF’s project, which began in 2000, to build a database linking genetic and genealogical information. The free SMGF database now holds details on 7 million ancestors and represents more than 170 countries.

But now, those Y-DNA donors can access their Y-DNA test results for $49.50 through GeneTree (about a third of GeneTree's regular cost for a test). To take advantage of this offer, follow the instructions on GeneTree

(Donors of mitochondrial DNA, which mothers pass on to their offspring, received a similar offer last year to access their mtDNA results.)

Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 15:42:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 22 May 2009
Genealogy News Corral May 18-22
Posted by Diane

Here are some quick genealogy news updates for the week. We hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and get an opportunity to reflect on your ancestors’ sacrifice for their country.
  • British subscription and pay-per-view site added more than 200,000 Canadian civil service records from 1872 to 1918. The records reveal the civil servant's name, position, department, length of service, salary and date of appointment. The earliest ones also provide civil servants' national origins and religion.
  • FamilySearch has added a total of 3.5 million-plus new records to 13 collections on the free FamilySearch Record Search pilot. The additions come from Brazil, the Czech Republic and Italy; and the US states of Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • The State Library of North Carolina and the North Carolina State Archives have posted a free collection of North Carolina family records including nearly 220 family Bible records and the six-volume Marriage and Death Notices from Raleigh Register and North Carolina State Gazette: 1799-1893.

Canadian roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 22 May 2009 16:38:34 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 21 May 2009
Money-Saving Deals on IAJGS and FGS Genealogy Conferences
Posted by Diane

Two upcoming genealogy conferences are offering ways to save on registration fees, plus some opportunities for extra edification and fun:
Among the IAJGS' special workshops are a document- and photo-preservation session ($10) and the delicious-sounding Tasting World Jewish Cuisines: Turkish, Syrian, and Ashkenazi-Italkeni Recipes, with cookbook authors Sheilah Kaufman and Aliza Green ($20). Click here to register.
Bonus for early arrivals in Little Rock: A free Ice Cream Social Tuesday, Sept. 1, 3-5 pm for registered conference-goers.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies is an umbrella organization for genealogical societies. Its conference, planned in conjunction with the Arkansas Genealogical Society, features classes, an exhibit hall, genealogy field trips and banquets.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Jewish roots
Thursday, 21 May 2009 17:33:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Find Revolutionary War Officers Free at GenealogyBank
Posted by Diane, the subscription site best known for its collection of digitized historical newspapers, has added thousands of US military records to its historical documents collection and made a portion of them free for a limited time.

The records include US military registers, which provide the name, birth date, location, rank and date of death of officers who served in the US Army, Navy or Air Force from the American Revolution to Korea.

In honor of Memorial Day, you can access the list of Revolutionary War officers for free (you'll need to register first).

It looks like search results mix the military registers with other historical documents. (So far, I've gotten error messages when trying to view images of the registers. I wonder if the site is overwhelmed.)

According to GenealogyBank's anouncement, it looks like we can expect millions more records added to the site this year.

Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Thursday, 21 May 2009 15:31:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Blog Reports From the NGS Conference
Posted by Diane

In case you missed one of our posts from last week's National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh, NC, here's a list. I've added reports from other bloggers, too:
Several folks were Tweeting, too. Read many of the 140-or-fewer-characters-at-a-time updates here.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 15:52:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ellis Island Hosts Stars, Expands Museum
Posted by Diane

Our lucky New York-based colleague Guy LeCharles Gonzalez attended the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards yesterday. He got the scoop on the latest Ellis Island exhibits and rubbed elbows with the stars (well, at least he was in the same room).

Here’s Guy’s report:

Emilio and Gloria Estefan (below) accepted the inaugural B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award in a star-studded 8th Annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards ceremony yesterday, hosted by actress Candice Bergen in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island.

The awards celebrate the lives and work of individuals who immigrated to America and their descendants; with the Forbes honor going to those who arrived through a port other than Ellis Island. It reminds us that America continues to be the destination for those seeking freedom, hope and opportunity.

Accepting the award alongside her husband, musician Gloria Estefan noted the common denominator shared with the day’s other honorees—Joe Namath, Eric Kandel and Jerry Seinfeld—that no matter where they or their families had come from, or when, they all sought to escape some form of tyranny. In America, they’d found a home where they could live freely and pursue their dreams.

Sponsored by the Forbes family in honor of patriarch B.C. "Bertie" Forbes, the Peopling of America award is also named for the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation's newest project: the Peopling of America Center.  

The center will expand the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to include the entire panorama of the American immigrant experience—from native American groups to today's New Americans, whose numbers are growing exponentially.

The new center is an ambitious $20 million effort to make Ellis Island even more compelling and relevant for the coming decades, with the goal of telling all of our stories about being and becoming Americans.

Its precursor, the Peopling of America exhibit, is in the Great Hall's former Railroad Ticket Office, where immigrants could make travel arrangements to their final destinations in the United States. Several displays visually chronicle the more than 60 million people who’ve come to the United States, voluntarily and by force, since 1600.

This map details sources and destinations of the Atlantic slave trade:

This exhibit compares immigration (blue arrows) to emigration (red arrows) by decade:

Other displays include an interactive Map of Diversity, which can show the number of people in each state who claim a certain race or ancestry (based on US census data); maps and charts of historical immigration patterns; and the American Flag of Faces, a "living and interactive exhibit" to which anyone can add a photo (names and captions are searchable online).

See more photos of the ceremony and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum here.

Celebrating your heritage | immigration records | Museums | Social History
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 11:16:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Where to Find a Genealogist-for-Hire
Posted by Diane

When it starts accepting clients in June,’s ExpertConnect service (read our post about it) will be just one option for hiring people to do research tasks, such as photographing a gravestone or photocopying a record. Here are a few others:
  • Genealogy Freelancers: This site lets you post your project details and get bids from professionals around the world.
  • Genlighten: Here, you also can collect bids for research tasks. The focus here is on lookups, record retrieval and similar services.
  • Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness: These volunteers have signed on to do simple research favors for free (except expenses such as mileage and photocopying fees). You’re encouraged to return the favor by helping out someone else. | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:59:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4] to Launch Professional Genealogy Service
Posted by Diane

You may have heard mentions of a soon-to-come service called ExpertConnect. It’s designed to let people who need research services—anything from simply getting a record or taking a gravestone photo to a full-scale research project—gather bids from people who can offer them.

After a bid is accepted and the service completed, gets a cut of the fee.

Anyone can register to offer lookups and other simple research services, but those offering services for more-involved research projects have to register as a professional with ExpertConnect.

That’s the source of some controversy, since there’s no industry standard for what makes someone a professional genealogy researcher. (See the Genea-Musings blog post on the Association of Professional Genealogists discussions last month.) settled on a series of qualifications; those offering professional-level services on ExpertConnect must satisfy several.

Other points of contention: Under the ExpertConnect contract, the client owns the copyright for any research reports the expert generates. And a ranking system similar to eBay’s lets clients rate the experts, leaving reputations vulnerable to clients who don’t understand the uncertain nature of genealogy research. says that experts will be able to request reviews of questionable rankings, and that the ExpertConnect system can head off problems by letting experts and clients renegotiate projects as they progress.

ExpertConnect will start accepting clients in June. You can check out the types of services available here; click Join to register as a service provider.

My next post will give you other options for hiring out your research tasks.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:38:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 18 May 2009
New Podcast Episode Has Census Tips and More
Posted by Diane

The latest episode of the free Family Tree Magazine podcast delivers census records help, genealogy social networking tips and more.

In this May 2009 episode, Curt Witcher, who manages the renowned genealogy department at the Allen County Public Library, chats with host Lisa Louise Cooke about special “non-population” census records and how to glean important genealogical information from them. Contributing editor David A. Fryxell serves up creative tips for using the census. And Justin Schroepfer, marketing director for historical records subscription site Footnote talks about I Remember, a brand new Facebook application just launched this month.

Listen now at or in iTunes. Click below for RSS subscriptions options: 

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

census records | Podcasts | Social Networking
Monday, 18 May 2009 14:02:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Saturday, 16 May 2009
Genline Updates Mean More Swedish Records
Posted by Diane

Swedish records subscription site Genline has added a bunch of records, made some user-friendly upgrades and formed a partnership that’ll help you discover free and low-cost photos and documents from all over Sweden.

Yesterday, I got a tour of the updates from Peter Wallenskog from Genline’s board of directors. Here's an overview:

  • Record additions underway include birth, marriage and death records through 1920. Coming soon: parish books and vital records up to 1937.
  • Household examination books (akin to censuses), which you currently find by browsing, are being indexed by farm name. Many farms were owned by the same family for generations. About 40 percent are already indexed; that’ll probably be 90 percent by the end of the year.
  • Genline is adding very high-resolution, clear images, with tools so you can enhance them by increasing contrast, remove specks, and more.
  • A transcription feature, introduced just a few days ago, lets users build a personal name index to Genline records by transcribing names as they find them. Other users can search on those names, vote for one or another transcription, and contribute their own version of a transcription. 
  • Familjeband is a Swedish family history site where users build family trees, upload photos and communicate on a message board. Through an agreement with local groups in the Sverges Hembygdsforbund (Swedish Local Heritage Movement), Genline is helping develop a section of Familjeband called Bygdeband (now in beta), where these local groups are uploading photos, letters, probate papers, deeds and other records. Related records are linked, and a map shows places associated with records in the database.

Familjeband is accessible through a free registration and is in Swedish. Later this year, it’ll get an English interface, and records in Genline will be linked to related records in Familjeband. Eventually, it’ll cost a little—maybe $4 a month, says Wallenskog—to access records in Familjeband.

  • Genline also hopes to partner with Swedish heritage groups on this side of the pond to add records and photos to Familjeband. So far, groups from Kansas are uploading documents from Swedish schools and churches. 

Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Saturday, 16 May 2009 10:25:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 15 May 2009
Sir Walter Raleigh and North Carolina Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Raleigh, NC, is named for Sir Walter Raleigh. He’s the English explorer whose royal charter to colonize “the Colony and Dominion of Virginia” (which at the time extended far beyond present-day Virginia) resulted in the lost colony of Roanoke Island in 1591—but also paved the way for later colonization in the New World.

Sir Walter’s statue outside the convention center looks like he’s surveying his dominion.

The area’s first permanent European settlers came south from the colony of Virginia around 1650. The Province of Carolina was established in 1660. In 1712, North Carolina split off’ it became a royal colony in 1729 and was the 12th state to ratify the US constitution in 1789.

Here are some North Carolina genealogy links:

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 15 May 2009 11:41:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0] New Search and International Updates
Posted by Diane

In yesterday’s bloggers meeting, held at the National Genealogical Society conference, leaders of several parts of the company talked about what the company’s been up to and goals for this year.

A lot of numbers were tossed out, which the company uses to understand which databases and features you use most. For example, after member-to-member messaging was moved onto the site (so instead of just sending an e-mail to another user, you send a message that’s stored in the person’s in-box on the site), members sent 25 percent more messages. Responses increased 35 percent.

Some interesting stats involved the new search interface vs. the old one. Use of the two is evenly split, with longer-time members sticking with the old interface and newer members favoring the new interface (I have to wonder if they just haven’t discovered the old search yet). “Old-search searchers” do an average of 37 searches a day, and “new-search searchers” do an average of 21 searches per day.

The guy in charge of developing a newer new search, Tony Macklin, was frank about what’s wrong with the new search (this is from my scribbled notes, so it’s not a direct quote): queries don’t always return consistent results between the two platforms, you get too many irrelevant results, browsing by place is too difficult, and the individual database search templates aren’t as customized (Macklin uses the old search for individual databases). His examples were coupled with user comments.

He said changing the search interface without changing the actual search was a mistake, and the goal is to eventually bring together the best parts of both platforms. 

Content-wise, has grown to 8 billion names. Family trees recently passed the census as the most-used data set.

Some upcoming additions include the WWII “Old Man’s Draft” for Illinois, newspapers from 30 new cities, Jewish records with two new yet-to-be-announced partners, Navy cruise books, pre-1850 city directories and vital records.

In a large reception held last night for conference attendees, senior VP Andrew Waite said the company is aiming for a balance of 30 percent upgrading current collections and 70 percent adding new ones—but that this figure has been more like 50/50 during the last few months.

Ruth Daniels from the UK office talked about negotiating digitization agreements in other countries, where records may be widely dispersed at state and local repositories, and laws and cultural attitudes differ around who should have access to records. For example, public access laws make UK records easier to acquire; Italy’s decentralized archives make things more challenging there. The just-released German telephone directories and records from the London Metropolitan Archives, launched in March and still being added, are two successes. | Genealogy Events
Friday, 15 May 2009 09:28:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Photos From the NGS Conference
Posted by Diane

Here are a few photos of the National Genealogical Society Conference in Raleigh, NC:

FamilySearch (above),, Footnote, ProQuest and other genealogical data providers do demos in the exhibit hall.

Here's a bird's eye view of the exhibit hall (it's toward the end of the day, so not as many folks are browsing around).

Here's another angle. You can see's booth at the top center of the photo.

Book vendors often bring boxes and boxes of county and family histories, how-to books, maps and other sources.

Genealogy Events
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 18:52:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
News From the National Genealogical Society Conference
Posted by Diane

This morning we had tons of booth visitors, fresh from the opening presentation by actor Ira David Wood III. He’s played Sir Walter and Old Tom in The Lost Colony, an outdoor show since 1937 produced by Roanoke Island Historical Association.

A few news bits so far:
  • Look for subscription historical records site Footnote to make its 1930 US census free for a limited time later this summer. The site also will come out with a collection of American Indian records within the next few months.
  • Swedish church records subscription site Genline is introducing a transcription feature. Once you find an ancestor’s record, you can easily transcribe the name and make it available to other users. As names are transcribed, they’ll be available for searching. Right now, you browse Genline by parish, but this means that eventually, you’ll be able to find ancestors without knowing their parish first.
  • We heard about some changes coming soon for genealogy resources catalog directory site Live Roots. One sounds really useful: A way to save online searches to a “project” so you’ll know which sites you’ve checked, when, and how many results were returned, and you could easily repeat searches. You could create as many projects as you want—one for each county, say, or each surname.

FamilySearch | Footnote | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:22:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 11 May 2009
Last Chance for $10 Off Census Webinar
Posted by Allison

The hours are waning to take advantage of the $10 early-bird discount on our next online workshop, Online Census Secrets: Best Web Sites and Strategies to Find Your Ancestors.

Diane and I will be leading this online seminar--"webinar" for short--May 27 at 7 p.m. EDT. If you've ever had trouble locating an ancestor in the census, you'll learn helpful tips and hints in this interactive session. We'll be demonstrating online census searching on screen, so you can see our advice in action.

Registration includes participation in the live workshop and Q&A session, of course, as well as these goodies:

• Online access to the workshop recording after the session concludes
• PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
• “Master the Census” article PDF
• Quick-reference chart showing which Web sites have which censuses and indexes

And until midnight EDT tonight (May 11), you can get $10 off the $49.99 workshop fee if you use coupon code: h6cl3cv7x4.

Visit our Web site for more details on the census workshop and to learn more about how webinars work.

census records | Genealogy Events | Webinars
Monday, 11 May 2009 17:58:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Live Roots Enhances Search of Online Databases
Posted by Diane

An update to last week’s post about searching popular genealogy database sites (both free and fee-based) from Live Roots’ search page:

The Live Roots webmaster has since added advanced search features to help you find resources in the subscription sites, Footnote, World Vital Records and GenealogyBank.

To access these features, go to Live Roots' partner sites search page and click the plus sign below the name of the site you want to search. Remember, you won’t get to see full details for matches in subscription sites if you’re not a subscriber. (Visit a Family History Center for free access to many subscription databases.)

The online catalog for the BYU Family History Archive collection is Live Roots' next big addition.

Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 11 May 2009 11:02:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Helpful Links for NGS Conference in Raleigh
Posted by Diane

Like some of you, we’re headed this week to the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference in Raleigh. Aside from our booth banner, handouts, door prizes and other supplies, here’s what we’ll be packing for the conference:
If you’re going to NGS, stop by and see us at Booth 319 in the exhibit hall. Admission to just the hall is free, and NGS lists a few other free events on its Web site

To attend classes, you must be registered—see rates and information for registration at the door.

Also, if you want to research North Carolina ancestors while you’re there, the state archives and the genealogical services branch of the state library are about a mile from the Raleigh Convention Center. (Here’s an introduction to research in the Tar Heel state.)

Got a Web site helpful for those attending the NGS conference? Click comments and post the URL.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Monday, 11 May 2009 10:06:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 08 May 2009
Genealogy News Corral, May 4-8
Posted by Diane

Here are the news bits that came across our desks this week
  • Subscription genealogy site launched a collection of German phone directories dating from 1915 to 1981. The books, which are, of course, in German, list names and addresses of more than 35 million people who lived in Germany’s major cities, as well as many businesses. 
  • British subscription and pay-per-view site added merchant seaman crew indexes with 270,000 names of seafarers between 1860 and 1913. British ships created these lists every six months, including everyone from captains to able seamen, from engine room staff to stewardesses.
  • The 1916 census of Canada is now available free at Family History Centers through their on-site service. (Meaning this census isn’t on the FamilySearch pilot site—you must go to a Family History Center to search it.)
  • A late addition: The New England Historic Genealogical Society is adding digitized back issues of the journal The American Genealogist, to its subscription databases at Vols. 1 through 8 (published as Families of Ancient New Haven) and Volumes 9–13 (dated from 1933 through 1937), are available now in separate databases. Additional volumes will be added. NEHGS memberships start at $75. | Canadian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 08 May 2009 14:02:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
"Today Show" Visit Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty
Posted by Diane

The "Today Show" broadcast today from Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The Ellis Island video features a “walk-through” of immigrants’ experiences with host Meredith Vieira and Save Ellis Island director Judith R. McAlpin. Here’s the video.

Another clip shows the anchors’ also climbed inside the Statue of Liberty to announce the crown will re-open to the public July 4. Read and watch on the Today Show site.

Also read our article (from the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine) about the immigrant hospital on Ellis Island.

immigration records | Videos
Friday, 08 May 2009 10:00:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 07 May 2009
Technical Issues
Posted by Diane

So. Our blog software had to be upgraded this morning, and the URL format for individual posts is different in the new version.

We discovered too late that the links to all our previous blog posts also have been retroactively changed. Which in one fell swoop rendered incorrect a number of links in our weekly E-mail Update newsletters and in the magazine.

We're going to do as much as possible to make it easy for you to find the posts you want. In the mean time, you can find recent articles on the main page of the blog.

To find past posts, you can use the date or topic categories in the left margin, or run a search using the Search box below the categories (enclose phrases in quotation marks).

If you're looking for some Genealogy Insider post in particular, leave a comment and we'll give you a link.

Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, 07 May 2009 16:50:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 06 May 2009
New Navigation Features Coming to
Posted by Diane

For those of you who subscribe to, I wanted to point out the Ancestry Insider's post about new navigation features coming to the site.

Those include a new record viewer that shows a record image and details side by side (which should reduce all the clicking back and forth and waiting for pages to load), and a new Person Page in Ancestry Member Trees that'll be easier to read and focus more on sources.

Learn more and see screen shots on the Ancestry Insider blog.
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 14:34:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
FamilySearch Adds Alabama Death Index and More
Posted by Diane

New records on the free FamilySearch record search pilot site this week include a statewide death index for Alabama—more than 1.8 million names—dating from 1908 to 1974. Note this is an index; the database doesn’t contain record images.

As FamilySearch digitizes records, webmasters often add the images before the indexes are completed. You won’t be able to search such collections for a name until the index is added, but you still can browse the record images.

To browse, click the region of interest in the map on the pilot site home page. You'll see a listing of collections by country; click the collection title you want. Next, choose from the subcategories (which might be counties, dates, or alphabetical ranges—it depends how the records are organized).

Afew of the collections containing images but no indexes (yet) are civil registrations from Jamaica’s Trelawney Parish, the 1892 New York state census and Catholic Church records from Avila, Spain.

To see a listing at indexing projects underway (read: get a peek at what’ll be available online), go to the FamilySearch Projects and Partner Projects Web pages.

FamilySearch | Free Databases
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 14:23:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Enter to Win Our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD
Posted by Diane

We’re hard at work putting together a CD called Organize Your Genealogy Life! with Family Tree Magazine’s best advice and resources for sorting and storing your genealogy research, computer files, heirlooms and photos. We hope it’ll make you a more efficient researcher and ease your clutter-induced stress.

Whenever we tell people about this CD, they describe their overstacked desks (or dining room tables), overflowing file drawers and overstuffed hard drives. Maybe something resembling this:

So we thought we’d hold a little drawing—you submit a photo of your disorganized genealogy space, and we’ll randomly select three photos whose submitters will receive this CD free.

There are two ways you can enter:
  • Uploading your photo to our Flickr group. This is be easy if you’re already on Flickr: Just click Join to join our Flickr pool. If you’re not on Flickr, you’d need to become a member, which requires you to have a Yahoo! ID—click the aforementioned Join link to be guided through the steps. It’s not hard; but it does take a few minutes, which brings us to option two.
Either way, your photo should be 72-dpi JPG files, and you should include your name, hometown and e-mail address. Post or e-mail your photo by June 16 (updated). By entering, you agree to let us use your name and submitted photo in any and all print and digital media.

Just for the record, the photo above isn't my genealogy space—it's that of the researcher who won an organization contest we ran in 2002. She also had stuff int eh trunk of her car. Just goes to show any year is a good year to get organized.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Research Tips
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 10:02:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 05 May 2009
Learn Secrets for Finding Ancestors in Online Census Records
Posted by Diane

Census records are among the first resources genealogists check for relatives. But it doesn’t take long to discover it’s not as easy as typing a name into a database and out pops your ancestor.

Our next Webinar will teach you secrets for finding census records both on free and fee-based sites. Online Census Secrets: Best Web Sites and Search Tips to Find Your Ancestors covers:
• key facts about US censuses and census Web sites
• how to access online census records for free
• how to use the major online census collections at, HeritageQuest Online and other sites
• a comparison of different sites’ records and indexes
• search strategies for finding elusive ancestors
The Webinar takes place Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. EDT. Registration costs $49.99, but you’ll get $10 off when you register before midnight May 11.

Not only will you participate in the live, interactive class (you see slides and demos and hear the presentation; you can ask questions at any time by typing into a box and hitting Send); but you'll also get access to the recorded Webinar after it’s over, a PDF of the presentation, our “Master the Census” article, and an online census records reference chart.

Learn more about our Online Census Secrets Webinar and register on

If you’ve never taken an online workshop before, click here for more details about how Webinars work.

census records | Webinars
Tuesday, 05 May 2009 09:31:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 04 May 2009
US "Who Do You Think You Are?" Will Premiere This Fall (Unless It Won't)
Posted by Diane

NBC's genealogy-reality TV series "Who Do You Think You Are?" will now premiere this fall, according to Genealogy Gems blogger and podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke.

Reports about the show surfaced last year (we covered it in the September 2008 Family Tree Magazine). Genealogists were thrilled when it was finally scheduled to begin in April, but the premiere was postponed. Let's hope this new date sticks.

The US version of "Who Do You Think You Are?", hosted by Lisa Kudrow of "Friends" fame, is based on Britain's successful show of the same name, which traces celebrities' family trees.

NBC's Web site for the show also says the network has partnered with to produce a microsite where users can start their own family trees and learn more about the featured celebrities' trees.

Celebrity Roots
Monday, 04 May 2009 16:38:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Create Facebook Pages for Family With New Footnote App
Posted by Diane

Footnote has created a new Facebook app that lets you create an “I Remember” Facebook page for someone, with photos and stories about the person. Others can add memories, too, by writing on the person's wall.

Here's an example of an I Remember Facebook page:

What's written on the Facebook I Remember page also shows up in the Comments section on the person’s Person page on Footnote:

Go here to learn more and download the free I Remember app to your Facebook page.

Footnote is a subscription-based historical records site, but it also has free social networking features that let you create Footnote Pages about people, places or events.

You must be be a registered Footntoe member—but you don't have to subscribe—in order to create or add to a Footnote Page. You can search existing Footnote pages here.

Footnote | Social Networking
Monday, 04 May 2009 15:03:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Live Roots Adds Family History Library Catalog Search
Posted by Diane

Just a heads-up that you can now search the Family History Library (FHL) Catalog from within the Live Roots online genealogy resource directory.

Go to Live Roots’ search page and scroll down to the list of partner sites. Type your search into the FHL box and select the type of search. The place and keyword searches are my favorites—the place search finds all kinds of records associated with the place you enter; a keyword search finds resources with you search term in any part of the catalog listing.

Then click the Search FHL Catalog button.

In the search results, click a record title for more details. You’ll see the listing from the FHL online catalog, except that the right side of the page has tips for accessing the record (including visiting a Family History Center near you).

In these instructions, you can click Help (at the bottom) for an in-depth explanation of FHL catalog listings.

Other Live Roots partner sites include the subscription sites, Footnote, Genealogy Bank, World Vital Records (you need a subscription to those sites to view results from their premium databases), eBay, Twitter and others.

Note that for some of these partner sites, particularly the genealogy database services, you may get better results by going to the site and using its search form. The addtional search fields for life dates, place, nationality, etc., will help you target your search.

For more information on Live Roots, see our previous blog posts.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Monday, 04 May 2009 09:38:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]