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# Wednesday, March 31, 2010
New GeneTree Research Services Help You Understand DNA Results
Posted by Diane

Genetic genealogy company GeneTree is offering new research services to help you make the best use of DNA testing in your family history search.

In addition to ordering a mitochondrial DNA or Y-DNA test, you can access two levels of service:
  • a $49.95, one-hour self-service consultation to help you understand your DNA test results and work up a plan for using them in your search—for example, which relative to test next for comparison. GeneTree CEO Jeff Wells compares this to “teaching people how to fish.”
  • a full-service report, in which GeneTree staff will analyze your DNA results, use the company's resources to find genetic matches, and analyze pedigrees of potential relatives for family connections. The consultant also will use other, non-GeneTree resources. The cost is $49.95 per hour, with a five-hour minimum.
GeneTree resources include the databases of its parent, the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which has been gathering DNA data coupled with pedigree charts for years.  The relationship "enables GeneTree to combine sophisticated DNA analysis with traditional genealogical research to provide our customers with the most complete picture of human identity available anywhere in the world," Wells says.

See descriptions of GeneTree’s new services on its website.

In addition, GeneTree's redesigned website features more educational information including DNA tutorials, explanations of mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA and a Live Chat option.

What Wells calls a “reorientation” comes after his observation of customers’ experiences. “After I came on as CEO last summer, I went to conferences and talked to people about GeneTree experience,” he says. “I asked ‘What do you do with test results?’”

He found that many people were confused by DNA test results and how to use them. “Although we were providing a great products I like the idea of drilling down into the research and helping people not be confused by process,” Wells says.

The full-service approach is becoming more popular among genealogy companies. In 2007, African DNA launched to couple African-American family history research services with genetic testing, and Ancestry.com started its Expert Connect service last year.


Genetic Genealogy
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 9:09:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Tips for Researching Orphaned Ancestors
Posted by Diane

One thing that jumped out at me during last Friday’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” was when Matthew Broderick discovered his grandmother grew up in an orphanage.

I knew that my grandfather grew up in an orphanage from letters he wrote as an adult seeking his birth records, but through research I've been able to find out a lot more. His parents weren’t dead; rather, his father had gone to prison and I’m still trying to find out what happened to his mother (the family later reunited).

Fortunately, my grandfather seems to have had a positive experience. I’ve found newspaper articles about his hard-working ways and awards he won. Soon after his father retrieved him from the home, he returned to finish high school there.

Here are some of my tried-and-true tips for researching ancestors in orphanages:
  • Search census records. You may see an orphanage resident referred to as “inmate” in the census. The name of the institution is usually written at the top of the schedule that lists the residents. Typically, the census taker didn’t talk to each child. Instead, he’d transcribe names from the home’s records (which is why residents may be listed in alphabetical order).
If your orphan ancestor was around during the 1880 census, he or she may have been listed in the special schedule of “Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes.” You can download a PDF guide to finding these records from FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
  • Run a Google search on the name of the institution. My grandfather lived in the Corsicana State Home in Texas. From the online Handbook of Texas, I learned which entity has authority over the home—the Texas Youth Commission—so I visited the commission’s website and found out how to request records related to my grandfather. If you find the state home where your ancestor lived has been shut down, chances are any surviving records were sent to the state archives.
For an orphanage run by a religious group, search online for denominational archives. You also may find historical records of homes affiliated with churches or other private organizations at state and local historical societies, local libraries, or on Family History Library microfilm.
  • Follow request instructions. Orphanage records may be considered sensitive and more-recent records may be restricted. I included with my request copies of my grandfather’s death certificate and my driver’s license. I also provided his name, his parents’ names, and the years I believed he lived there. Months later, I received an envelope with his admission records.
  • Explore orphan trains. If you think your ancestor was on one of the trains that transported orphaned children from Eastern cities to adoptive families in the West, try these sites listed on Genealinks.
Related resources from Family Tree Magazine


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Research Tips
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 10:19:31 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 29, 2010
Behind the Scenes of WDYTYA?: Matthew Broderick Episode
Posted by Diane

Last week’s episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” started with Matthew Broderick talking to his sister about their grandfather, but that didn’t actually happen until researchers had already begun their search.

A “behind the scenes” e-mail from Ancestry.com’s Anastasia Tyler said researchers started with only information the actor himself knew knew, and had a hard time at first pinpointing the right James Joseph Broderick in records.

Ancestry.com, a subscription genealogy website, partnered with NBC to create the series.

Here’s Tyler's full e-mail about researching Broderick’s family tree:
Matthew Broderick’s first step in this week’s episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" was to talk to his sister, who shared details about his paternal grandparents and started him on his journey. Information from family members can be priceless when researching family trees, but what happens when family members aren’t immediately accessible? That’s the scenario the research team faced when they started researching Matthew Broderick’s tree.
 One of the fantastic things about the format of Who Do You Think You Are? is that the celebrities really are starting out with what they know. We watch them on screen learning information from their families or from records for the first time. Likewise, the research team started out only with the information that the celebrity knew.
A Common Ancestor
For Matthew Broderick’s tree, the researchers had the name of his paternal grandfather, Joseph Broderick, and a few other clues about Joseph’s life. Using these facts, the researchers set out to discover more about Joseph Broderick.
They quickly ran into somewhat of a brick wall. “When we started the research for Matthew’s tree, all we knew was that his paternal grandparents were Joseph Broderick and May Martindale,” says genealogist Krysten Baca of Ancestry.com. “We were quickly stuck; there were many Joseph Brodericks and not enough information to determine who the correct ancestral Joseph was.”
Don’t Overlook Anything
But Matthew was able to provide the research team additional clues – his grandfather Joseph Broderick was a postman in New Hampshire. The occupation was a small, perhaps seemingly insignificant detail, but in this case it broke down the brick wall. Immediately after learning this information, the team found a record for a James Joseph Broderick working in the Post Office in Manchester, NH.
This record matched Matthew’s tree in three ways: (1) the name Joseph Broderick, (2) the location of New Hampshire, (3) the occupation of postal worker. In addition, Matthew’s father was named James Broderick. Based on these pieces of information, the team hypothesized that James Joseph Broderick was the ancestral Joseph Broderick, Matthew’s grandfather.
Breaking through the Brick Walls
Focusing on this hunch, the researchers looked for additional records about James Joseph Broderick of Manchester, New Hampshire. The records they found matched the few additional details known about the ancestral Joseph Broderick and allowed the researchers to confirm that James Joseph Broderick was indeed Matthew’s paternal grandfather.
The records gave the team another brick-wall-breaking clue—an alternate name for Joseph’s wife. Previously the researchers knew her only as May; the additional records listed her as Mary. This information allowed further discoveries about Mary and her life before she married James Joseph Broderick.
Of course, Matthew’s sister held some of this information all along. But similar to many researchers’ experiences, sometimes research begins before family members can be consulted. “If this case proves anything,” says Krysten, “it’s that even the smallest clue could be the key to unlocking a family tree.”  
If you missed this week’s episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?", you can watch it online.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 29, 2010 8:01:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, March 26, 2010
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 4 Recap
Posted by Diane

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t yet seen the Matthew Broderick episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” and you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading.

Matthew Broderick start the episode with his dad’s line, and he visits his sister Janet to learn the basics. Their grandfather James Joseph Broderick (“Joe”), he finds out, was in the First World War. Janet had heard he received money because he’d breathed in poisonous gas during the war.

Broderick goes to the National Archives facility in New York City to research military records. Joe was in the 106th infantry, 26th division in France in March 1918. “I’m dying to know what happened,” Broderick says. Who among us hasn’t uttered those words?

He goes to France, to the battlefield where Joe, fought. A historian is describing the battle, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (also called the Battle of the Argonne Forest). Joe was the first responder to injured soldiers on the field. Joe received a Purple Heart for being wounded on Oct. 27, 1918.

Broderick and the historian visit the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, where more than 14,000 American soldiers are buried. He pays respects to those from his grandfather’s division, some of whom died the day Joe was injured.

Joe received a commendation for performing his duties with bravery. Good quote: “It’s because of his service and all of these men that our family has the life we do today…. It’s like learning there’s something different in your being than what you always thought.”

We switch to Joe’s wife Mary Martindale’s at the Connecticut State Archives. Broderick seems to be covering more branches than those in the other episodes—I like it.

It’s an Ancestry.com census search lesson. She lives in an orphanage in the 1910 census, which it looks like Matthew never realized. They go into the vault—I wonder how many real-life people get to do that.

Coroner’s records show Mary’s mother had died and her father was killed in 1908 in an accident while working for a railroad company.

Next we look at Mary’s father William in an 1870 census book for New Haven. William’s father isn’t listed with the rest of the family. They go to the 1850 census and find a 27-year-old Robert Martindale, William’s father. Matthew Broderick has found his great-great-great-grandfather. They’re all missing from the 1860 census. A logical explanation? The Civil War.

The archivist and Broderick look in a card index—in an old-fashioned library card catalog drawer—of those who served in the Civil War by town. On to enlistment records. He volunteered in 1862. There’s a physical description. The archivist seems concerned for Broderick. “It’s a lot to take in,” he says.

We see a shot of Broderick as Robert Gould Shaw in Glory, a movie I love. The archivist brings muster rolls, showing that his ancestor fought at Gettysburg, and survived. Broderick traces the regiment to Atlanta and the battle of Peachtree Creek in July 1864. He meets a Civil War historian on the field and learns Robert Martindale died July 23, 1864, with a musket ball to the head—a bloody but quick and painless death, the historian reassures him.

Another historian, Brad Quinlin (who, incidentally, appeared as an extra in Glory) meets with Broderick. They find the makeshift cemetery where the soldiers from the battle were buried.

After the war, many of the soldiers were reinterred in newly established national cemeteries. We visit Marietta National Cemetery, where 10,000 Union soldiers were buried. 3,000 of the graves are numbered but unidentified. Quinlan is able to study records for the entire regiment and figure out which numbered stone is Martindales: 2469.

Broderick is “gobsmacked.” I’m amazed they can track him nearly 150 years later. Quinlan is going to send the paperwork to the VA and the grave will be identified.

You can search burials in national cemeteries with the Nationwide Gravesite Locator.

I like that we heard so many stories in this episode, but it feels a little fast-paced to me, like the emotion hasn’t had time to sink in. Maybe it’s because last week’s episode was so emotional, and I’m typing the whole time and the dog is whining because I’m ignoring her. But I like how Broderick sums it up: “We’re all related to the generations that happened before us. What they went through shaped our time.”
"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Friday, March 26, 2010 8:28:32 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genealogy News Corral: March 22-26
Posted by Diane

Tonight is Matthew Broderick’s big night on “Who Do You Think You Are?” Looks like we’ll see some parallels between Broderick’s character, Robert Gould Shaw, in the 1989 movie Glory (which I love) and the actor’s real-life Civil War ancestors. Tune in at 8 pm/7 pm central.

You can follow the National Archives' upcoming Civil War sesquicentennial (I love that word!) exhibit on Twitter. Tweets will highlight people and stories of the Civil War and link to images of items in the exhibition. Part I will be open April 30 to Sept. 6; Part II will be open Sept. 10 to April 11 of next year.

The Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society is holding its 27th annual Gene-O-Rama Conference—themed Researching Your Female Ancestors—this weekend. You can register at the door for $40 (members) or $45 (non members). Get more information on the society’s website.

Ancestor Seekers, a company that provides research services and organizes genealogy trips to Salt Lake City, has started a fundraiser program for genealogical societies. Guests attending a trip can request to have 5 percent of the fee go to a participating society. Interested societies can contact Ancestor Seekers for more information.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Canadian roots | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives
Friday, March 26, 2010 1:09:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 25, 2010
$3 Back Issue Sale
Posted by Diane


This week’s Editor’s Pick is short and very sweet: All the print Family Tree Magazine back issues from 2004 to 2007 are 50 percent off—just $3—at ShopFamilyTree.com. (Tip: Start browsing on page 3 of our back issues store.)

It’s great for filling in holes in your collection or getting that research guide you need. Get them while they last!

Remember that Family Tree Magazine VIP members get an additional 10 percent off ShopFamilyTree.com purchases, including sales.


Editor's Pick
Thursday, March 25, 2010 8:16:53 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Special Censuses: Veterans Schedules
Posted by Diane

Our “Best of Family Tree Magazine” series, which delivered advice from our pages back to our inaugural year in 2000, draws to a close with this week's guidance about a lesser-known genealogical resource: special censuses.

These extra enumerations, usually taken at the same as the regular federal census, focused on certain segments of the population, from the “defective, dependent and delinquent” (1880) to farmers (1850 through 1880 records survive).

This excerpt from our July 2009 article by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack tells you about special censuses relating to veterans:
The US and state governments counted veterans a number of times, both during and between regular censuses.
Revolutionary War pensioners: Names and ages of these pensioners were recorded on the backs of 1840 population census sheets. Their names are in A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services, available free through Google Books.
 
1890 veterans schedule: Although the bulk of the 1890 census was destroyed, the schedules of Union veterans and surviving widows survived for half of Kentucky and the states alphabetically following it. Check this census even if your ancestor fought for the Confederacy. Although enumerators were supposed to count Union veterans, some also recorded those who fought for the South. Officials who reviewed the schedules in Washington, DC, simply drew lines through the Confederates’ names, leaving them still readable. The schedules are online at Ancestry.com and on microfilm at the Family History Library (FHL) and National Archives facilities, as well as large genealogical libraries.
 
What can you learn from this enumeration? The name of the veteran or his widow, rank, company, regiment or vessel, dates of enlistment and discharge, length of service, disabilities and remarks such as whether the veteran received a pension. As with population schedules, you don’t know whether James or someone else supplied the information, so look for a military service record to corroborate the data.
 
Special military schedules: During the 1900, 1910 and 1920 federal population censuses, enumerators created separate schedules for military personnel, including those stationed on naval vessels and at US bases overseas. For 1900, these are on National Archives microfilm T623, rolls 1,838 to 1,842 (find a Soundex index on film T1081, rolls 1 to 32). For 1910, military and naval enumerations are on film T624, roll 1,784; there’s no Soundex. The 1920 schedules for overseas military and naval forces are on film T625, rolls 2,040 to 2,041; the Soundex is on film M1600, rolls 1 to 18.
 
The 1930 population census included servicemen, but you’ll find special schedules for merchant seamen serving on vessels. Search them on Ancestry.com, or browse them on microfilm at the FHL and National Archives.
Family Tree Magazine Plus members can read the rest of the special censuses article on our website.

Related resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:


census records | Family Tree Magazine articles | Military records
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 10:07:31 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Massachusetts Bill Threatens Vital Records Back to 1841
Posted by Diane

The National Genealogical Society UpFront blog is reporting on another threat to vital records access, which could make it harder for genealogists to learn about their Massachusetts ancestors.

Massachusetts Senate Bill 820 would close the state’s birth and marriage records dated after 1841, the year statewide record keeping began, so only the person named in the record or his parent, guardian or attorney could see it or get a copy.

From the UpFront blog: “The bill's text eliminates the current section that closes out-of-wedlock births and replaces the entire section with text that closes all births and marriages ... the last sentence states, ‘The provisions of this section shall not apply to such records, returns or notices recorded or filed prior to January first, eighteen hundred and forty-one or to such copies thereof.’”

Right now, you can order certified copies of vital records dated 1841 to 1915 from the Massachusetts State Archives—it's unclear how Senate Bill 820, if passed, might affect that service.

Some post-1841 Massachusetts vital records and indexes are available at sites such as the NewEnglandAncestors.org subscription databases and in the free FamilySearch Record Search pilot, as well as on Family History Library microfilm.

Many states restrict records for up to 100 years—after which the person in the record is likely to be deceased—but closing 169-year-old records seems unnecessary. See the UpFront blog for information on to whom you can address your concerns regarding the legislation.


Public Records | Vital Records
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:02:48 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Turner Publishing Takes Over Ancestry.com's Book Business
Posted by Diane

Independent publisher Turner Publishing will take over Ancestry.com's book publishing business, according to an agreement announced today.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, Turner will assume control of most existing inventory and related publishing contracts for Ancestry Publishing, a division of Ancestry.com.

Turner, which has a genealogy book line, will be the vendor for more than 100 Ancestry titles, including The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, and 1-2-3 Family Tree.

Turner will support the newly acquired titles with additional marketing and distribution efforts. The agreement also grants Turner limited use of the Ancestry.com name for publishing purposes.

Ancestry.com appears to be focusing on its digital business. Earlier this year, the company announced it would cease publication of 25-year-old Ancestry magazine with the March/April 2010 issue.


Ancestry.com | Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 11:41:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, March 19, 2010
"WDYTYA?" Episode 3 Recap
Posted by Diane

Spoiler alert! Don't read if you don't want to know yet what happend in "Who Do You Think You Are?" episode 3.

In tonight's "Who Do You Think You Are?" Lisa Kudrow explores her ancestry in Belarus. This is the episode she’s said in interviews is very tough emotionally, because it deals with the Holocaust.

This episode starts at home as the other ones did, with Kudrow talking to her dad. His parents are East European Jews. Her great-grandmother was killed during the Holocaust along with others from her shtetl. Many years later, her dad was deeply affected at the retelling of how he learned what had happened in the town from a boy named Yuri.

From the beginning, Kudrow is looking to explore this side of the family. Her great-grandmother was killed during the Holocaust along with others from her shtetl. Her dad was deeply affected even this many years later.

She’s headed to Minsk. Anyone remember the Friends episode when Phoebe’s boyfriend Max had to go live in Minsk? I’ve heard some people express frustration with the recaps after each commercial break, but I like the opportunity to catch up and digest what’s going on.

Imagine learning your ancestor suffered a terrible death--was “killed and burned,” like Kudrow’s great-great-grandmother. It’s hard to believe something like that could happen in the charming place where Kudrow’s grandmother grew up.

She hears the story from an old woman who witnessed the devastation, and tried but wasn’t able to save a young girl from the massacre. After the break, Kudrow reads how the community’s Jews were rounded up and killed in the marketplace. Yes, this is hard to watch.

It’s striking me that this episode is more personal and impactful than history classes I’ve taken.

Now Kudrow is in Poland in search of her cousin Yuri Barudin, who had told her dad what happened to his grandmother long ago. He’d changed his name to Boleslaw, one that sounds more Polish. She lets her fingers do the walking looking for his son. This is the “I think we’re related” scene in the promos—it’s a happy scene.

The family recognizes Kudrow from television. What would it be like if a TV star showed up at your door? Yuri didn’t witness the massacre, he had managed to get away and later learned of the story. Kudrow telling her dad about meeting Yuri is the happiest part of the show for me.

Dad and Yuri are Skyping, and we hear how Yuri left $50 long ago when he met Kudrow’s dad. This shows how even after tragedies rip families apart, family history can bring them together across oceans.

If you missed it, you'll be able to watch this episode on Hulu.


"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Friday, March 19, 2010 8:21:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
Genealogy News Corral: March 8-12
Posted by Diane

  • The second week of NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” increased its viewership by 13 percent in adults age 18 to 49, and 4 percent in total viewers. The show finished in the ratings within a tenth of a point of first place for the 8/7 central time slot in adults age 18 to 49, and is tied for No. 1 among the major networks in adults age 18 to 34.
Tune in to tonight’s episode as Lisa Kudrow searches for her roots in Belarus.
  • The UK’s General Register Office (GRO) has announced a restructuring of its charges for ordering birth, marriage and death records. Starting April 6, you’ll select from two instead of eight options, so it’s simpler, but the fees for standard service are going up from  £7.00 to £9.25 (about $10.60 to $14). See the GRO website for more information
  • Ancestry.com is offering a free webinar about using Family Tree Maker 2010. It’s May 19, 8 pm EDT (thanks to the person who commented below to let me know about the new date!). Watch as the experts demonstrate advanced features available in Family Tree Maker 2010. Read more and register on Ancestry.com’s website.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Ancestry.com | UK and Irish roots
Friday, March 19, 2010 11:27:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Three Ways to Recharge Your Genealogy Research
Posted by Diane

Seeing results can motivate you to work harder at everything from getting in shape to learning a new skill. Maybe that’s why my genealogy efforts tend to flag when I haven’t made any new discoveries recently.

So a I was browsing my Family Tree Magazines for our “Best of 2008” installment, Sharon DeBartolo Carmack’s “Recharge Your Research” article from the July 2008 edition jumped out at me.

Here are three of her 12 techniques for injecting new energy into your genealogy search:
Write a report. After writing dozens of family histories and a zillion research reports, I firmly believe there's no better way to see the holes and faulty logic in your research than by stringing together those facts into sentences. As you start writing—both to tell the ancestor's life story and explain why you think your Miles Johnson in Allamakee County, Iowa, is the same Miles Johnson in Whiteside County, Ill.—you'll surprise yourself by how much you know (or how much you don't).
Think of it as writing yourself a report on your research. This is often why professional genealogists can solve some sticky research problems. As they explain their thought processes and theories to a client, they're also analyzing their research. When you start writing a report, you'll realize, “Gee, I missed checking the such-and-such record” or “That Wallace surname is cropping up a lot in the ancestor's records.” Savvy professionals write reports as they're researching, because it helps them sort what they're gathering and keeps them on the right track.
Consult county and local histories. You've looked at county and local histories for places your ancestor lived, but have you gone back for a second look after doing more-extensive ancestor research? On your first pass through these histories, you might've been skimming for a mention of your forebear. This time, look at what was happening when your family lived in the area.
Sarah Collins' son Rodalphus, died in Tyringham, Mass., March 2, 1783, at age 13. His death record didn't reveal the cause. When I looked at a local history, I discovered the town suffered several smallpox epidemics after infected soldiers brought the disease there in 1777. The community was still battling the disease in 1785. Even though the book didn't mention Rodalphus Collins, it helped me understand what might've taken his life. This made me take a closer look at other family members in the area who died during that time.
Read a state or county guide. Maybe ancestral answers lie in some place-specific record you didn't know to check. How to learn the secrets of your kin's locale? Family Tree Magazine published State Research Guides for each state from 2005 to 2009. You can buy a compilation CD or download individual state guides from ShopFamilyTree.com. Another helpful reference is The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists (Family Tree Books), which provides county-by-county records information for the United States.

Look for locality-specific guidebooks, too, such as Virginia Genealogy: Sources & Resources by Carol McGinnis (Genealogical Publishing Co.) and Chicago and Cook County: A Guide to Research by Loretto Denis Szucs (Ancestry).
Family Tree Magazine Plus members can read the entire "Recharge Your research" article here.
  • Related resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:
  • State Research Guides compilation CD or book



Tuesday, March 16, 2010 8:45:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, March 15, 2010
Editor's Pick: HeritageQuest Online Web Guide
Posted by Diane


In Family Tree Magazine, we often recommend HeritageQuest Online—a database service offered through many public libraries—as a free alternative for finding US census records, family and local history books, Revolutionary War service records and Freedmen’s Bank records.

Not all of the census records on HeritageQuest Online are indexed, though, and the databases can be tricky to search.

Enter our HeritageQuest Online Web Guide.



It’s available from ShopFamilyTree.com in a few forms:
In this Web Guide, genealogy technology guru Rick Crume explains how to access HeritageQuest Online, what records are in its databases, and the best ways to search each database.

Like our Web Guides to other popular genealogy sites, the HeritageQuest Online guide has
  • an in-depth description of how to use the site and its collections
  • a quick-start guide and need-to-know statistics (such as the site’s contact information, major content areas and any fees)
  • step-by-step search demos
  • a cheat sheet of quick links, resources, hacks and shortcuts
  • hyperlinked URLs so you can click through to all the websites recommended in the guide
Remember, Family Tree Magazine VIP members get 10 percent off ShopFamilyTree.com purchases!


Editor's Pick | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, March 15, 2010 12:10:16 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Behind the Scenes of "WDYTYA?": Researching Emmitt Smith's Roots
Posted by Grace

Ancestry.com's PR and events manager Anastasia Tyler offers this behind-the-scenes look at the second episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?":
Seasoned researchers know that discovering the slavery roots in a family tree can be time consuming and difficult -- perhaps even seemingly impossible. But, as Emmitt Smith's story shows on this week's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?," African-Americans can discover their heritage. The genealogy team who worked on Emmitt's tree shares a behind-the-scenes look at how they made the jump from post-1870 records to pre-Civil War records as they documented Emmitt's enslaved ancestors.
 
Post-1870 Research
Vital records, census records and other primary sources allowed the research team to document Emmitt's family tree back to great-great-grandparents -- William Watson and Victoria Puryear. A 1900 census record from Monroe County, Ala., indicated William and Victoria were both born in Alabama during the Civil War. These facts suggested that William and Victoria could have been born slaves, and perhaps their parents as well.
 
Since Victoria and William were born in the early 1860s, it was likely that records created post-1870 could shed some light on their parents. Vital records were especially helpful here; Victoria's death certificate included the names of her parents, Prince Puryear and Annie McMillian.
 
The 1870 census added clues: Prince Puryear and his family (including young Victoria) were listed in Monroe County, Alabama. Additional Puryear households were also found on the same census page. The ages for the heads of the Puryear households made them potential brothers of Prince. These heads of households also had the same racial designation as Prince -- mulatto. Finally, one of the households listed a 55-year-old mulatto woman born in Virginia named Mariah Puryear. "Our first thought was 'Could Mariah be Prince's mother?'" says genealogist Joseph Shumway of ProGenealogists. If the answer was yes, if Mariah was Prince"s mother, then Mariah would be Emmitt's fourth great-grandmother.

Pre-Civil War Documentation
The research team needed to establish whether Mariah Puryear from the 1870 census was Prince Puryear's mother. Slave research involves looking at records pertaining to the slave-holding families. Vital records were not kept for slaves, but slaves may be mentioned in records created when the slave owner dies and in records pertaining to deeded transactions. So the research team first had to determine the identity of the slave-holding family. Once found, the family's records could reveal further information about Prince Puryear's family and his potential connection to the woman named Mariah.
 
Emancipated slaves, in general, didn't stray too far from their most recent owner's property. In addition, many former slaves retained the surname of the former slave holders. So the researchers turned back to the 1870 census, looking for white families in the same vicinity as Emmitt's Puryear ancestors. Interestingly enough, there was a white Puryear family living in Monroe County, Ala. This family, potentially, could have been the slave-holding family.
 
The Puryears, like many slave owners, had extensive real estate, so the team looked for the family's land records, deeds, and probate records. In the Monroe County probate records (on microfilm at the Family History Library), the researchers found probate records pertaining to the 1850-51 estate of Mary Puryear. The inventory of Mary's property was a key document. In it she listed Mariah and her children, by name: "Mariah and children Henry, Mary, McTom, Victoria and Prince Albert." Henry and Thomas were the names of two potential Puryear brothers who appeared on the same 1870 census page with Prince and Mariah. The inventory "matched the information we"d found in the census," says Joseph. "With the combination of names and location, there was no doubt."

Further records showed that Mary Puryear was the widow of slave owner Alexander Puryear and helped to solidify the connection between Prince, Mariah and the Puryear slave-holding family. "There are records out there," Joseph concludes. "Just be persistent."


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 15, 2010 8:48:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
'Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode Two Recap
Posted by Grace

As I settle in with some popcorn to watch the show, I'm really interested to see if Emmitt Smith can make the jump from America to Africa like he's hoping.

Emmitt Smith gets a DNA test done and goes home to Florida to talk to his family. His dad mentions a cousin with a genealogy website -- that's real luck! Emmitt's next stop is Burnt Corn, Ala., where he stops at a general store and runs into a cousin.

It's so nice to see Emmitt taking notes -- it felt like all the info just fell into SJP's lap. We're getting into some heavy history at the Monroe County Courthouse as Emmitt encounters segregated turn-of-the-century vital records. The archivist says Emmitt's ancestor Bill Watson was born into slavery; another researcher determines Bill's wife's maiden name.

Now we're tracking down the name Prince Puryear -- was it the surname of a slave owner? We hope to find out by digging into the 1870 census, the first to list African-Americans by name, researcher Marjorie Sholes tells Emmitt.

Emmitt finds a slave-owning family named Puryear in the 1850 census. Letters reveal the man was a slave trader, even. Emmitt finds Prince Puryear in a will -- with a price. It's clear Emmitt is totally blown away by this. The researcher points out that the cemetery they're sitting in is only for white people -- Emmitt's black ancestors' graves are grown over and forgotten in the woods.

Going into Virginia to track down the Puryears seems like it's going to bear lots of fruit. Mecklenburg County, Va., was built by the Puryears, a historian says, and the slave trade was big business. They dig into the local records, and pull out deed book No. 22, which freaks Emmitt out! (His football jersey number was 22 through his entire career.)

Historian says the slave owners raised and bred their slaves like horses -- but they treated the horses better. His ancestor Mariah appears on a deed at just 11 years old. It seems that slave trader Samuel Puryear is Emmitt's fifth-great grandfather.

It seems that Mariah is as far back as Emmitt can go, as earlier records are difficult to find. But then Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak comes to the rescute with the results of Emmitt's DNA test. She says Emmitt's ancestry is about 81 percent African, 7 percent Native American and 12 percent European. She never sees people with 100% African ancestry, and his background is very strongly African.

Emmitt is going to Africa! Benin, specifically, part of West Africa's former "Slave Coast." But the past is drawn into the present -- he's told that trafficking of children is still happening in Benin. The orphans he's meeting were sold by their parents for money.

Emmitt visits the courtyard where Africans were held before the strong ones were loaded onto slave ships. He has a teary reunion with his wife on the beach, where he tells her what he's discovered. It's an amazing example of how bringing history to light can change your life. Emmitt says, "History is my story right now." That's a wrap!


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 15, 2010 8:44:11 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, March 12, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: March 8 to 12
Posted by Diane


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy Events | Vital Records
Friday, March 12, 2010 9:24:28 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, March 11, 2010
Footnote's Census Records: Free for a Limited Time
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Footnote is making its US census records free for a limited time.

Footnote spokesperson Justin Schroepfer says there’s not yet a firm ending date, but the records will be free at least through the end of this month. You’ll need to register as a free member to view the records. 

Footnote is  carrying out plans to host the complete US census back to 1790. Here are the census records on the site so far:
  • the complete 1860 census
  • 5 percent of 1900
  • 3 percent of 1910
  • 3 percent of 1920
  • 98 percent of 1930
When you find a relative’s record, click the “I’m Related” button for a name on the document to identify yourself as a relative and see others who’ve done the same. You also can see others’ photos, stories and comments related to the record. (See Footnote’s tips for starting family history and making the most of its interactive census collection.)

The offer will help Footnote capture the family history interest stirred up by network television programs such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Faces of America.” The getting-started page bills Footnote as the “unofficial, affordable and premiere resource for Who Do You Think You Are?”

Footnote also has launched its improved record viewer, which I blogged about yesterday.


census records | Footnote | Free Databases
Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:46:50 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
10-Years of Family Tree Magazine on DVD (in a Pretty Box)
Posted by Diane


Just look at the packaging for our 10 Years of Family Tree Magazine 2000-2009 DVD. It’s so pretty, you might not want to open it.

But go ahead. Here’s what you’ll find:


A DVD with the past decade’s worth of Family Tree Magazine issues. All our genealogy research guides, tips, tools and tutorials—more than 4,700 pages, Allison declared after one-on-one time with a calculator—on a convenient, space-saving DVD.

A Family Tree Magazine library, if you will.

All the issues are PDF files; open them with the free Adobe Reader on a Mac or a PC. You can click to browse each issue from the Start page, or search (also from the Start page) for topics of interest to you.

The enhanced files let you click through to recommended websites. Bookmarks make it easy to navigate to your favorite stories and sections of the magazine.

Stop by ShopFamilyTree.com for more details and highlights of the issues it contains. The DVD is available for pre-order now at 20 percent off the regular price (the estimated shipping date is March 31).

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:02:55 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Finding Immigration Records With One-Step Search Forms
Posted by Diane

Finding an ancestor’s immigration record is the goal of many a genealogist, which is why I’m selecting an excerpt from Rick Crume’s February 2007 Family Tree Magazine article on Stephen P. Morse’s One-Step search site for this week's “Best of” installment.

Morse has searches for many sites, but his Ellis Island search forms are among the most popular. I have a soft spot for them: I found one of my ancestors by using the Gold form to search passenger lists month-by-month around the arrival date given on a naturalization record.

Just before the issue was printed, Morse's Gold form replaced the old Blue and Gray forms. That's about the only time we've had to say "Stop the presses!" 
When Ellis Island launched its database of New York City passenger arrivals from 1892 to 1924, genealogists viewed it as the greatest advancement since pedigree charts. The ability to freely search records of 22 million immigrants, passengers and crew—and view digital images of the lists—was a huge research boon. But as great as the site was, people became frustrated with its limitations: Searching on just first name, last name and gender wasn’t adequate for finding everyone’s immigrant ancestors.
Those limitations inspired the first One-Step tools. Although EllisIsland.org has since expanded its search options (they now include features that debuted on the One-Step site, such as name-spelling flexibility, birth year, ship name, town of origin and ethnicity), Morse’s White and Gold Ellis Island search forms still offer extra options for ferreting out hard-to-find immigrant ancestors. For instance, the Gold Form lets you search for town names that sound like your search term; both forms let you search on port of departure and age.
By default, both forms hunt for matches that start with your search term. That way, if you search on Glasgow in the town field, you'll catch both Glasgow and Glasgow, Scotland—whichever way it was recorded.
A key distinction between the forms: The White Form employs the same search engine as the Ellis Island site. The Gold Form uses a different search engine, which works faster when you search on name fragments.

Morse advises using the Gold Form for most searches, and the White Form when you need a “fresh perspective” for your search.
Morse unveiled the Gold Form to provide maximum flexibility in searching all 25 million people in the Ellis Island database. It melds the best of his old Blue and Gray forms, offering added parameters for searching all the records—including traveling companion, exact arrival date and marital status. Want to search for everyone from a particular village? Specify the town, but leave the name fields blank.
Family Tree Magazine Plus members can read the entire article, which covers many of Morse's other One-Step searches, on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 1:42:11 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Footnote Debuts Enhanced Record Viewer
Posted by Diane

I just saw on Twitter that subscription genealogy site Footnote’s new image viewer is now live. (We told you last month how to get a sneak preview of the “Newer Viewer.”)  

This is what it looks like (that's my great-grandfather's Petition for Naturalization):



The viewer controls are better organized by function, and it’s easier to navigate within the collection and to other records. More specifically, the changes include:
  • The source information panel has moved from the right to the left side of the page (you can click an arrow to close the panel).
  • The filmstrip of record images at the bottom of the viewer defaults to closed (use the Open filmstrip link to open it).
  • A Find pop-up box lets you search for a name or other word in the record.
  • Controls to manipulate the record image (such as magnifying and rotating it) were separated from out and moved from above the image to the vertical toolbar on the left.
  • Sharing features (such as adding a note to the image and—new in the viewer—posting it to your Facebook page) are above the image.

  • The breadcrumb trail showing you which collection you’re in, and letting you navigate within it, is above the sharing features. (Previously, this breadcrumb trail was located inconspicuously above the filmstrip.)

Footnote | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, March 09, 2010 12:25:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Roots Television to Stay Online
Posted by Diane

Good news for fans of genealogy video site Roots Television: After being flooded with e-mails and tweets in response to her announcement of the site’s shutdown, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak will keep Roots Television going.

"I honestly had no clue how valued it was by the genealogical community, and I agree with the many of you who pointed out that it serves a somewhat different purpose than the prime time programming that's on TV at present," she says in an e-mailed message to the site’s newsletter subscribers.

Roots Television videos will soon feature commercials to help defray hosting and streaming expenses. "Unfortunately, I don't have the resources to customize [the commercials], but I'll experiment with ways to make them as painless as possible," Smolenyak says.

She’s also seeking advertising for the site. Smolenyak reported that at least 20 organizations or individuals expressed interest in adopting the site.


Genealogy Web Sites | Videos
Tuesday, March 09, 2010 8:57:24 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, March 08, 2010
Behind the Scenes of "WDYTYA?": Researching Sarah Jessica Parker's Roots
Posted by Diane

For those of you yearning to know more about how a small army of genealogists uncovered Sarah Jessica Parker’s Gold Rush and Salem Witch trial ancestry, shown Friday night in NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” premiere, Ancestry.com has provided a look at the behind-the-scenes research process.

I'll send you over to Geneabloggers, where Thomas MacEntee has posted it.

For even more details, see Kimberly Powell's About.com Genealogy post about a letter she found that mentions Parker’s ancestor John S. Hodge.

The show came in second in the ratings for the 8 p.m. time slot, with 6.85 million viewers—not bad for a Friday evening. If you missed "Who Do YouThink You Are?" you can watch on Hulu.

And set your DVR to record "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Tuesday, which promises to be a geneafest as Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon, Lisa Kudrow, Brooke Shields and Emmitt Smith talk about their family history finds for “Who Do You Think You Are?” Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. also will discuss his findings on the PBS series "Faces of America" and, it looks like from the video clip, touch on Gates’ July 2009 arrest for disorderly conduct (which occurred upon his return from filming Yo-yo Ma’s family story in China).


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, March 08, 2010 10:49:48 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, March 05, 2010
'Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode One Recap
Posted by Diane

We’ll be doing quick recaps of every “Who Do You Think You Are?” episode right here. So if you haven’t yet watched the Sarah Jessica Parker episode and you don’t want to know, stop reading this second.

Here are some of my thoughts (and Facebook posts) while I watched:

Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) and her brother are joking about being related to a Mayflower passenger. I smell foreshadowing.

SJP's father is Eastern-European Jewish, but she has lots of questions about her mother’s side. Her mother born and raised in Cincinnati’s German Community (just like my mom’s dad). SJP visits her mom and learns her great-grandmother's last name was Hodge.

SJP goes to Cincinnati's Clifton Public Library, about 10 minutes from where I am right now, meeting with genealogist Natalie Cottrill. (Read more about her visit in this Cincinnati Enquirer article.)

SJP’s great-grandfather John Hodge is reported dead in 1849 in a newspaper article, but appears in the census in California the next year.

First Ancestry.com commercial.

Now she’s at the Museum Center, formerly Cincinnati’s Union Terminal train station (a great place to visit if you're ever in town), meeting with UCLA history professor Stephen Aron.

Hodge invested $200 in a gold-prospecting company. He left for California, leaving his wife (whom he may or may not have known was pregnant). It’s neat to see SJP’s genuine excitement and curiosity. Now off to California.

I’m concerned viewers will think you actually have to visit every place your ancestors lived in order to research. That might make it even more fun and exciting, but it’s definitely not required!

John Hodge did die after he arrived in California. Sad.

SJP says it's “extraordinary” to think your ancestor was part of such a profound event in history. That’s what I love about genealogy.

Now Josh Taylor from the New England Historic Genealogical Society is telling her about John Hodge’s family. 1849 to 1635 in 15 seconds flat.

Now we’re on to the Massachusetts Historical Society. (You can read more about the MHS visit here.)

SJP is looking at an online index and sees the word “warrant” by her ancestor’s last name. Cut to commercial!

I love the little review after every commercial break.

SJP’s ancestor Esther Elwell was arrested for performing witchcraft against her neighbor, Mary Fitch, causing Fitch to die. SJP is so surprised, she’s stammering.

Another commercial break!

Whew! SJP’s relative was arrested near the end of the trials, and ended up never having to go to court. She lived to age 82.

I feel like there should be a disclosure telling us how many hours and how many people all this research took. But, I really enjoyed watching someone else enjoy the process of genealogy. It was fun watching along with my Facebook genealogy friends. I think the show told a great story, introduced us to (or reacquainted us with) historical events, and got across how meaningful family history research can be.

Update: For more details on how the research into SJP's ancestry was done, see our March 8 post.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, March 05, 2010 9:20:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
Genealogy News Corral: March 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • The National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, is holding its sixth annual Genealogy Fair April 14 and 15th. Look for free classes and workshop, as well as a "Help! I’m Stuck!” table staffed with genealogy experts. Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, author of the “Who Do You Think You Are?” book, will present a talk April 14 at 7 p.m. Also appearing is Andrew Carroll, editor of the books War Letters and Behind the Lines.
  • The state of Georgia announced a partnership with Ancestry.com to offer grants for local governments and historical repositories. Eight organizations will receive up to $10,000 in scanning services. Ancestry.com will digitize and index records and make them available to subscribers. Repositories will receive digital copies of the records and index; they can make the index public immediately and the index after three years.

  • In other Ancestry.com news, the site's version of the Social Security Death Index will now be updated every week.
It seems like there was something else I wanted to add .... let's see ... oh, right: Remember to watch the premiere of “Who Do You Think You Are?” tonight at 8 pm (7 pm central) on NBC!


Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Friday, March 05, 2010 2:41:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, March 04, 2010
Maine Legislature May Close Vital Records
Posted by Diane

Dick Eastman’s blog caught my eye with a post about a Maine bill that might close birth and marriage records.

The bill is LD 1781, An Act To Allow Electronic Filing of Vital Records and Closing of Records To Guard against Fraud and Make Other Changes to the Vital Records Laws, was the subject of a hearing yesterday before the legislature's Health and Human Services committee.

You can see the text of LD 1781 here. It was sponsored by Rep. Anne C. Perry of Calais, Me.

Sec. 12. 22 part 2706, Disclosure of Vital Records, reads “After 100 years from the date of birth for birth certificates, after 100 years from the date of death for fetal death certificates and death certificates, after 100 years from the date of marriage for marriage certificates and after 100 years from the registration of domestic partnerships, any person may obtain informational copies of these vital records in accordance with the department's rules.”

That would effectively close records to all but immediate family or legal representatives for 100 years after they’re created, throwing a big obstacle in the way of family historians with Maine ancestors.

It’s an unnecessary obstacle. As Dick says, vital records are rarely used for fraud. Most identity theft happens when people with access to sensitive information, such as employees of financial institutions or government agencies, steal data and sell it. Stolen wallets, credit cards and mail are other sources. (Follow the links in Dick's post for more details.)

The bill does let record custodians “permit inspection of records, or issue certified copies of certificates or records, or any parts thereof, when satisfied that the applicant therefore has a direct and legitimate interest in the matter recorded.”

But there’s no allowance for uncertified records, unofficial documents that many states issue for genealogy research.

Visit Maine's state legislature website for legistators’ contact information.


Public Records
Thursday, March 04, 2010 11:15:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Easy Ways to Help Your Friends Get Started in Genealogy
Posted by Diane

So pretty soon, your friends who’ve seen “Who Do You Think You Are?” and know you’re into genealogy might start asking you how they can start digging into their family history.

Here are some beginner friendly resources:
Also don’t miss our “Who Do You Think You Are?” landing page, where beginning and experienced genealogists can learn more about the show, see the latest Tweets about it, discuss episodes on our Forum and get the lowdown on even more celebrities’ family trees.

Related resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:
  • Census Secrets CD with in-depth information on one of the most-used genealogical records


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Research Tips
Thursday, March 04, 2010 10:17:32 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 03, 2010
We're Bundled Up
Posted by Diane

…. and we don’t mean because of the weather.



We took our CDs, books and webinars that offer genealogy help with three of the topics you’re most interested in, packaged them up into themed “bundles” and discounted them to give you a great deal. Three bundles are available at ShopFamilyTree.com:
  • The Organized Genealogy Bundle: Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD, Organization Made Easy webinar recording, Organize Now! book, 2010 Family Tree Magazine Desktop Calendar
You'll find more details on the contents of each bundle in ShopFamilyTree.com.

Editor's Pick | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy books | Research Tips
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 4:40:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Video: "Who Do You Think You Are?" on "Today"
Posted by Diane

Lisa Kudrow appeared on "Today" this morning to talk about “Who Do You Think You Are?” which premieres (in case you hadn’t heard) this Friday on NBC at 8 pm (7pm central).

She describes the episode about her own roots (airing March 19) as “relentless” because it deals with the Holocaust—but if you hang in there, she adds, there’s a "happy surprise" at the end. Kudrow also calls Emmitt Smith, whose episode airs March 12, a “great teacher.” Here’s the "Today" video:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Looks like the Today anchors, who’ve explored their own ancestries for television, plan to tune in.

See the Genealogy Gems blog for a schedule of upcoming “Who Do You Think You Are?” promotional appearances.

And here’s an episode lineup:
  • March 5: Sarah Jessica Parker
  • March 12: Emmitt Smith
  • March 19: Lisa Kudrow
  • March 26: Matthew Broderick
  • April 2: Brooke Shields
  • April 9: Susan Sarandon
  • April 23: Spike Lee


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Videos
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 1:23:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genetic Genealogy: Oh, the Possibilities
Posted by Diane

Interest in genetic genealogy was expanding beyond genealogy circles by April 2006, when this week’s “Best of Family Tree Magazine” article was published. Colleen Fitzpatrick shared an example of how DNA testing can help you theorize how and where your family may have migrated.

Though not everyone’s looking to trace their roots back to the Vikings, I like this example because it shows some of the possibilities of genetic genealogy—a field where scientists continue to make door-opening discoveries for family historians.
Follow genetic fingerprints to new theories. DNA can point to a previously unrecognized episode in your family's past. “Oddball” test results sometimes signal nonpaternity events (adoptions, name changes, illegitimacies), which can link you with unexpected people and places.

Take my Fitzpatrick surname study. Although the DNA profiles (haplotypes) are relatively diverse, most of the 75 participants match one another on 20 or so markers out of 26. This shows that we share a common background—it's just far back in the past. Three people don't fit that mold, however: They match the rest of the group on no more than seven markers.

Two of these three men—a Catholic priest from New Jersey and a retired engineer from New South Wales, Australia—match each other exactly. And they've traced their families back to two small towns only 10 miles apart on the west coast of Ireland. The American's Fitzpatrick family immigrated during the Great Famine; the Australian's Fitzpatrick ancestors went “down under” in the early 1900s. How could these men match each other exactly but be so different from the rest of the Fitzpatrick study group?

Our questioning has led to some interesting theories, developed from what we know about the history of western Ireland. One potential explanation is that the men descend from a Viking who made a pit stop on his way around coastal Ireland, leaving behind a genetic souvenir. Another possibility: The pair descends from a survivor of the Spanish Armada's 1588 wreck on the west coast of Ireland.

As online databases grow to include a more diverse collection of haplotypes, we may find more matches to these men. If they match an Erikson or a Peterson, we can further probe the first possibility. If they match a Lopez or Garcia, we can explore the second theory. Or we may devise altogether new theories. But whatever we discover, they'll have a fascinating new chapter to add to their family sagas.
Family Tree Magazine Plus members can read the entire article online.

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genetic Genealogy
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 12:20:10 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, March 01, 2010
Roots Television Site to Close
Posted by Diane

Roots Television, a website launched in 2006 with genealogy videos, will close March 10—unless an interested party acts quickly to adopt the site.

An e-mail to Roots Television mailing list subscribers from Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, who launched the site along with media producer Marcy Brown in September 2006, said other outlets are now helping to fill the “genealogy channel” void.

“Genealogy is finally going mainstream. Some of you are probably already watching 'Faces of America' on PBS and 'The Generations Project' on BYU,” Smolenyak writes. “And many, I'm sure, have heard of the imminent launch on NBC of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' (a series I'm proud to be affiliated with, and for which, I wrote the companion book). The non-genealogical world is finally waking up to the long overlooked potential of what we roots-sleuths do on a daily basis.”

The message linked to an online article about genealogy popping up in mainstream media such as "The Simpsons," "Faces of America" and “Who Do You Think You Are?”

“I hope that you have enjoyed the hundreds of high quality videos that RootsTelevision.com has produced or selected. From the viewing numbers and kind comments, I know that many of you have. It's been a privilege to give the genealogical community this resource, but this seems the appropriate time to move on,” Smolenyak writes.

The message ended with a note that anyone interested in acquiring the site should contact Smolenyak immediately.

RootsTelevision.com will feature some of the most popular videos in the coming days. A few of my favorites: “Heir Jordan," the Unclaimed Persons videos and the Down Under series.


Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, March 01, 2010 8:12:53 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]