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# Friday, May 28, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: May 24-28
Posted by Diane

Library and Archives Canada has begun adding digitized copies of service files to its database of more than 600,000 men and women who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during World War I as soldiers, nurses and chaplains. When a photocopy or digital copy is requested, the file will be scanned and the digital images added to the database.

Subscription genealogy site Archives.com has provided all 9,000 members of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) a three-month membership. (Those who join NGS during the next six months also can take advantage of this offer.)  Archives.com also has added The Dictionary of American Family Names to its databases, letting members look up the origins of more than 70,000 US surnames. Read more about both developments on the Archives.com blog.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post about military research, subscription site World Vital Records is making its military records collection free through June 1. You’ll find more information in the site’s announcement.

This was a fun post on the National Archives blog: The staff compares modern facial hair standards for members of the US Army (only men can have it!) with photos of Civil War US Army officers whose mustaches might get them reprimanded today.


Canadian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | NARA
Friday, May 28, 2010 10:35:36 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, May 27, 2010
Memorial Day Sale! Save Big on Genealogy Books and CDs
Posted by Diane


We have a big Memorial Day Sale this weekend in the shop. When you spend $30 or more, you’ll get 15 percent off Family Tree Magazine products and free US shipping when you enter the offer code FTREMEMBER at checkout.
This sale is on now through June 2. Click here to start shopping.

Editor's Pick | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:25:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tips to Research Military Ancestors on Memorial Day
Posted by Diane

Many of us are off work next Monday for Memorial Day—what a great opportunity to explore online resources for researching military ancestors.

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day first honored Civil War soldiers. Grand Army of the Republic Gen. John Logan proclaimed a day of observance May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

New York officially recognized the holiday in 1873 and other Northern states had followed suit by 1890. After World War I, when the day came to memorialize all US war dead, Southern states also began to acknowledge the observance.

Wearing a red poppy on Memorial Day became traditional after WWI Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps surgeon John McCrae wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields” in 1915.

The name Memorial Day was first used in 1882, but it wasn't common for decades. Federal law didn’t declare it the official name until 1967. In 1971, the date was set to the last Monday in May.

Ready to research your military ancestors? You’ll find digitized military records collections on subscription sites Ancestry.com and Footnote. (PS: Footnote is having a 50 percent off subscription sale for a limited time.) World Vital Records has announced it's providing free access to its US military databases from May 27 through June 1.

Military records at the free FamilySearch RecordSearch Pilot site include Civil War pension index cards, Revolutionary War pension and bounty land warrant applications, and WWII draft registration cards for 1942 (not yet indexed).

For more military records resources, links and research help, see these free FamilyTreeMagazine.com articles:
How-to resources from ShopFamilyTree.com:


Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Footnote | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records | Research Tips
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 10:13:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, May 25, 2010
FGS Plans War of 1812 Pension Records Digitization Project
Posted by Diane

What’s great about 2012? The release of the 1940 census, of course, but what else? It’s also the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has started a Preserve the Pensions project to digitize National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) pension files from that war.

FGS wants to raise $3.7 million for the digitization. It's hoping to finish digitizing all 180,000 files before the 2015 bicentennial of the war’s end (the Treaty of Ghent was signed in December 1814, but battles continued until news of the war’s end crossed the ocean).

NARA’s War of 1812 pension files aren’t microfilmed; the archives receives upwards of 3,000 requests a year for photocopies.

What's in a pension file? Here’s one of several War of 1812 pension files on the Allen County Public Library website.

It has details about the soldier’s residence, marriage, military service, pension amount and more.

If you have a War of 1812 ancestor and can't wait for 2015, you can look for him in an index, then request copies of his pension file from NARA for a fee. Subscription site Ancestry.com has a War of 1812 application files index. The index also is on microfilm at NARA and the Family History Library, and it's transcribed in the book Index to War of 1812 Pension Files by Virgil D. White.

Read more about War of 1812 pension records in NARA’s research guide

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:


Military records
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 3:22:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, May 21, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: May 17-21
Posted by Diane

I had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago of talking to Vicky and Jen, of the Vicky and Jen podcast, about doing oral history interviews. We talked about questions to ask, tips for drawing out reticent people, ways to get kids involved and more. Listen on iTunes or at VickyandJen.com.

Subscription site GenealogyBank has added newspaper pages from more than 166 titles in 42 states. If you’ve searched the site before, you can use the “Search only New Content” pulldown menu at the bottom of the search form to search only content added in the past one to three months. (Get more tips in our GenealogyBank Web Guide download, available from ShopFamilyTree.com.)

FamilySearch announced the recipients of its 2010 FamilySearch Software Awards, which go to developers whose “products and technologies that integrate with FamilySearch’s emerging suite of products and services.” You can see a full list of the winning companies on Dick Eastman’s blog.

If you have an iPad, first, I’m jealous. Second, I came across a photo-editing app called Photogene for iPad that imports photos and lets you adjust color, contrast and levels, crop and apply special effects. Then you can save it and share via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter, if you choose. Here’s  a review.

Have a great weekend!


FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Oral History | Photos | Podcasts
Friday, May 21, 2010 4:35:06 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Millions of Historical British Newspaper Pages To Be Digitized
Posted by Diane

The British Library and Brightsolid Online Publishing, the company that owns British genealogy subscription site Findmypast.co.uk, have formed a partnership to digitize historical newspapers.

More than 4 million of the library’s newspapers will be digitized over the first two years. Over 10 years, up to 40 million pages will be digitized. The papers include 52,000 local, regional and national titles spanning 350 years.

The papers will be available through a new website. “I look forward to announcing the web service resulting from this partnership, which will launch and then steadily grow from next year,” says the library’s chief executive, Dame Lynne Brindley.

The digitized papers will be available free on-site at the British Library (it has locations in London and West Yorkshire). The library also will receive digital copies of all scanned materials.

Read the full announcement here.


Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, May 21, 2010 10:47:02 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, May 20, 2010
Sale on Our Expert Genealogy CDs and Webinars!
Posted by Diane


I wanted to let you know about a sale we’re having on select genealogy how-to CDs and all recorded webinars—until May 25, they’ll be 15 percent off with coupon code FTCD15.

So, for example:
  • Our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD (strategies for getting your paper records, digital files, e-mails and research habits in order), normally $19.99, becomes $17.
  • The Family Tree Essentials CD (research guides to 15 key genealogy records), which was already on sale at $14.99, is another 15 percent off, making it $12.74.
Note that your discount is taken off during checkout, after you enter your name and address and all that good stuff. Click here to start shopping!

Editor's Pick | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Thursday, May 20, 2010 9:21:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Taking Our Own Research Advice
Posted by Diane

Picking up research tips is among the fringe benefits of working for Family Tree Magazine. And the advice works! Here are two examples from my genealogy search:

For our August 2010 article on church records research (subscribers start getting this issue at the end of May), Sunny McClellan Morton interviewed Catholic records expert Ann McRoden Mensch.

Then and there (doing genealogy on the job is another fringe benefit), I went to Mensch’s Local Catholic Church and Family History Genealogical Research Guide, surfed around until I found information on the Cleveland archdiocese, clicked a link and filled out the archives’ online request form.

(Update: the Catholic research guide has moved since the August issue went to press. Many links to state information on the new site don't seem to be working, but see the Comments on this post for instructions on how to access the old site.)

A few weeks later, I received in the mail a copy of a funeral register from my great-grandfather’s church in Cleveland, showing his name (it's hard to make out here, but he's third from the bottom).



Last year, while editing our November 2009 federal records article by David A. Fryxell, I realized that that same great-grandfather—who wasn’t yet naturalized in 1940—would’ve had to register with the government under the Alien Registration Act.

That day, I requested his Alien Registration form (form AR-2) from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service’s online Genealogy Program. The record, showing his first name as “Fablo,” supports my case that the “Fadlo Hadad” I found on a 1900 passenger list is the right guy.

Our November 2009 issue is available in ShopFamilyTree.com; it’s also digitized on our 2009 annual CD.

Family Tree Magazine Plus members can access Fryxell’s article on our website.

Church records | Family Tree Magazine articles | immigration records | Research Tips
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 3:02:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
Preservation Groups List Endangered Sites
Posted by Diane

Two preservation organizations—the Civil War Preservation Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation—have released their annual lists of most-endangered sites this week.

Budget cuts are a culprit in both lists. “This year nearly 30 states have experienced cuts to parks’ and sites’ budgets, and a recent survey estimates as many as 400 state parks could close,” says the National Trust’s announcement.

Commercial development is a huge threat, too. One site—Virginia’s Wilderness Civil War battlefield—made both organizations' lists because of plans to build a massive shopping center at the entrance.

Read more about these endangered battlefields on the CWPT website:
  • Gettysburg, Pa.
  • Wilderness, Va.
  • Picacho Peak, Ariz.
  • Camp Allegheny, WV
  • Cedar Creek, Va.
  • Fort Stevens, Washington, DC
  • Pickett’s Mill, Ga.
  • Richmond, Ky.
  • South Mountain, Md.
  • Thoroughfare Gap, Va.
Find more about these 11 most-endangered historic sites on the National Trust website:
  • America's State Parks & State-Owned Historic Sites
  • Black Mountain, Ky.
  • Hinchliffe Stadium, Paterson, NJ
  • Industrial Arts Building, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Juana Briones House, Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Merritt Parkway, Fairfield County, Conn.
  • Metropolitan AME Church, Washington, DC
  • Pågat, Yigo, Guam
  • Saugatuck Dunes, Saugatuck, Mich.
  • Threefoot Building, Meridian, Miss.
  • Wilderness Battlefield, Va.


Historic preservation
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 1:11:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, May 17, 2010
Just Posted! May Podcast Covers Cemetery Records, NGS Conference News
Posted by Diane

We’re talking cemeteries in our May 2010 podcast, now available free through iTunes and at FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
  • Going behind The Editor’s Desk, podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke chats with Allison Stacy about our upcoming book Grave Humor, which finds the lighter side of cemeteries with contributors’ photos of hilarious headstones.
  • The Top Tips segment has Sunny Morton, author of the July 2010 Family Tree Magazine article “Tombstone Tales,” discusses the questions you should be sure you ask when searching for cemetery records.
  • In 101 Best Web Sites, Cooke talks to David Day about his Names in Stone cemetery mapping website.
  • For Safe Keeping, Family Tree Magazine online editor Grace Dobush offers advice for taking tombstone rubbings.
  • My News From the Blogosphere installment takes a departure from the cemetery theme to review some of the news that came out of the National Genealogical Society annual conference earlier this month.
Missed an episode? See details about earlier podcasts on our Podcast page.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast
Podcasts
Monday, May 17, 2010 9:28:36 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, May 14, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: May 10-14
Posted by Diane

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) released its annual endangered battlefields report, History Under Siege, yesterday. Gettysburg, Pa., site of the war’s largest and bloodiest battle, tops the list of 10 most endangered Civil War battlefields. See the rest of the report on the CWPT website.

FamilySearch added millions of new free records in eight searchable collections: Delaware birth records; the 1875 Minnesota state census; Cook County, Ill., birth records; name indexes for Alabama, Colorado and Illinois; and digitized church records from Litomerice, Czech Republic. Search them at FamilySearch’s Record Search pilot or beta search site.

British subscription site Findmypast.co.uk has made available the full Great Western Railway Shareholder Index, covering 1835 to 1932, along with images of the original records.

GenSoftReviews, a free website that lets you rate and review the genealogy software programs you’ve tried, now has more than 500 programs listed (including 244 full-featured programs, 170 utilities, and more than 80 other useful programs).

I got an e-mail from a new Stockholm-based website called MentoMori that sends your messages and instructions to your loved ones after your death, and will also handle shutting down your social networking accounts. See the FAQs here. Basic and Premium service packages range from about $46 to $92 per year.


FamilySearch | Free Databases | Historic preservation | UK and Irish roots
Friday, May 14, 2010 3:07:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, May 13, 2010
Walgreens Cancels Plans to Sell DNA Test
Posted by Diane

Walgreens drug stores canceled plans to sell a genetic testing kit because the FDA hasn’t reviewed it.

After Pathway Genomics announced this week that its Insight Saliva Collection Kit would be sold at Walgreens, the FDA told Pathway Genomics that the kit meets the definition of a device and is subject to FDA approval.

Though it's been discussed on genealogy websites, the test kit isn't a genetic genealogy test. Instead, it's meant to assess medical conditions and risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. (Pathway Genomics also sells ancestry testing kits on its website.)

The kit was to cost $20 at Walgreens. Then you’d send your sample to Pathway Genomics and pick which tests you want (Drug Response, Pre-pregnancy Planning and other Health Conditions) at a cost of up to $249.

The kit is raising concerns about people getting medical information without input from their doctors. Similar testing is available by mail from companies including 23andMe and DNATraits (part of Family Tree DNA).

Read more about this story here.


Genetic Genealogy
Thursday, May 13, 2010 9:44:29 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Bundles of Joy
Posted by Diane


We’ve added four new product “bundles” to our online store, each offering a discounted price on a group of products that help you with a particular area of your research:

To help you solve stubborn research problems, the Brick Wall Buster Bundle has the 101 Brick Wall Busters book, our best-selling book The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising and our Brick Wall Strategies webinar recording,

For optimizing your census research, the Census Bundle has the Census Secrets CD, the Online Census Secrets webinar recording, and the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine Census Extravaganza issue.


If you want to take advantage of all the internet has to offer your family tree, the Online Genealogy Bundle has our Trace Your Roots Online CD, Search Engine Tips & Tricks: Google Techniques to Boost Your Research webinar recording, and five of our popular Family Tree Magazine Web Guides.

If you're getting started, you want to ramp up your research or it's time to consolidate your collection of Family Tree Magazines, the 10th Anniversary Bundle has Family Tree Magazine 10-Year DVD with every issue of the magazine through 2009, our 2010 Genealogy Desktop Calendar (featuring reader’s ancestral photos and ShopFamilyTree.com coupons), our 10 Best–Ever Tips download, and 15 percent off any Family Tree University course.

See these and our other genealogy bundles at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Editor's Pick | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:38:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Archives.com, Gates Partner on African-American Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Historian and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, who’s hosted “African-American Lives,” “Faces of America” and other genealogy shows on public television, has joined online genealogy newcomer Archives.com as an advisor.

The site has a new African-American research section featuring Gates. According to the announcement, it also will publish a set of African-American genealogy records never before available online.

“Professor Gates will apply his knowledge and passion for African Heritage towards helping Archives provide the tools and resources needed to explore African American family history, and even trace roots back to Africa,” said the announcement.


African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:14:22 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Award-Winning Article Helps Jewish Roots Researchers
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to Tracing the Tribe blogger and Jewish genealogy expert Schelly Talalay Dardashti, who received a National Genealogical Society (NGS) Award of Excellence for her September 2009 Family Tree Magazine article "Ties That Bind."

The article provides guidance on researching your Jewish roots. Dardashti was honored in the Genealogical Methods and Sources category.

“The award is presented to an individual or nonprofit organization for a specific, significant single contribution ... that discusses genealogical methods and sources and serves to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advances or promotes excellence in genealogy,” according to the NGS announcement.

Need help researching Jewish ancestors? Dardashti’s award-winning "Ties That Bind" article is available in several forms:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Industry | Jewish roots
Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:18:47 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
How to Get a Decorative Family Tree Poster
Posted by Diane

So you’ve gathered a few generations’ worth of names and dates, and now you want to display your family tree on your wall.

Nowadays you have more options than ever—from free to pricey and do-it-yourself to full-service—for creating a decorative family tree poster. Here are some that we’ve come across:
  • Family networking site Geni announced yesterday that you can turn your Geni tree into a decorative family tree poster you can customize and order on archival photo paper for $29.99 (a framed one costs $119.99). Learn more on the Geni blog.
  • Most genealogy software programs, including RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker, will let you create a family tree chart to hang on the wall. Progeny Genealogy makes add-on "charting companion" software you can use to enhance the charting capabilities of several desktop family tree programs.
  • If you have a family tree on Ancestry.com, you can import the information into MyCanvas and design and print a chart for free, or order one on nice paper in a variety of sizes. (From your tree on Ancestry.com, click the Publish button in the navigation bar at the top of the page.)
  • Generation Maps’ new Family ChARTist service lets you create a decorative tree and print a free 8.5x11 version at home, or order professionally printed larger sizes.
  • You can buy decorative charts to fill out by hand from several vendors, including Fun Stuff for Genealogists and the Family History Store. Or type free decorative family tree chart into Google for blank trees you can download and print. Our Family Tree VIP members receive a printable decorative tree as part of their exclusive Family Tree Toolkit.


Celebrating your heritage | Family Heirlooms
Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:25:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, May 07, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: May 3-7
Posted by Diane

  • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) plans to launch a public wiki that will allow you to create pages on records or themes. If you can't attend the organizing meeting at the NARA building in Washington, DC, on May 7th, you can contribute ideas by e-mail—see the archives’ blog post for details.
Also check out the archives’ wiki for planning the wiki.


Asian roots | Canadian roots | NARA
Friday, May 07, 2010 3:21:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Scavenger Hunt Photo Challenge!
Posted by Grace

Do you live near West Texas? We're looking for an adventurous genealogist to take a photo for us in the Pecos Park Cemetery in Reeves County, Texas, to use in our upcoming book, Grave Humor.

Our target is Robert Clay Allison, who has an especially humorous epitaph: "He never killed a man that did not need killing." The cemetery is at 120 E. First St., Pecos, TX.

Take a high-res digital photo of the man's gravestone over the weekend, and we'll send you a copy of Grave Humor when it comes out. E-mail your image to ftmletters@fwmedia.com by Monday to win!


Cemeteries | Photos
Friday, May 07, 2010 10:27:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Mom Always Said . . .
Posted by Diane

One of my favorite Family Tree Magazine All in the Family challenges is when we asked readers to submit famous sayings of the moms in their family trees. In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, I’m sharing some of those momilies.
My sister and I had fun brainstorming the momilies we grew up with:
  • “For crying out loud!”

  • “Hold your horses” (and its close relative, “Don’t lose your britches”)

  • “If [fill in name of childhood friend]’s mom said she could jump off a cliff, would you want to jump off a cliff, too?”

  • I could’ve yelled from here.”

  • “Do you think someone’s going to steal your dinner?” (when I was hunched over my plate)

  • We were never allowed to eat suckers in the car, because “If I have to stop suddenly, it’ll go through the roof of your mouth.”

  • “You have until the count of three…”

  • “A birdie’s going to come and sit on your lip" (when someone was pouting)

  • “I have eyes in the back of my head.” (My sister says this to her kids, too, and her youngest thought for years that she really did.)

  •  “I don't have a favorite. You’re all my favorites.”
You'll hear many more momilies, set to the "William Tell Overture," in this  YouTube video:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Videos
Friday, May 07, 2010 8:58:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, May 06, 2010
Footnote Newspaper Collection Is Free in May
Posted by Diane

I saw this over at Geneabloggers this morning and wanted to pass it on first thing: Footnote is offering free access to its digitized newspapers collection for the month of May. You’ll need a free basic registration to access search results, then you’ll be able to download articles to your computer.

Take advantage of Footnote’ free newspaper collection offer starting here.

To see a list of available newspaper titles and coverage years, click here and then choose a state. Note that papers for many titles date from the mid- to late-1900s.

To learn more about searching records on Footnote, you can download Family Tree Magazine's Web Guide to Footnote ($4 from ShopFamilyTree.com).


Footnote | Free Databases | Newspapers
Thursday, May 06, 2010 8:17:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Get Better at Genealogy With Family Tree University Online Classes
Posted by Diane

You can improve your genealogy research skills and make progress in your family tree quest, even on your busy schedule.

Registration is now open for the first online course offerings from Family Tree Magazine’s newest educational endeavor, Family Tree University. Choose from these courses:
Courses start May 10 and last four weeks (after which we’ll begin offering courses on even more topics). Each self-paced course has four to six lessons that are “released” at regular intervals over the four weeks.

Once you’re registered, you’ll receive your student login and password via e-mail, with instructions on how to access Family Tree University’s virtual campus. Then, you just log on at your convenience to review each lesson (online or in a PDF you can print out) and complete an exercise or quiz to practice your skills.

The professional researcher who’s instructing your class will provide feedback on your assignments. (Meet the instructors here.)

In your “classroom,” you’ll also have access to the required readings for that lesson, a library of resources for further learning, a message board where you can talk with other students and your instructor, and a “journal” where you can communicate privately with your instructor.

You can save 15 percent off your first course by entering the discount code LAUNCH15 when you register. Tuition is regularly $99 per course.

To learn more and register for a course, go to FamilyTreeUniversity.com. We’ll see you in class!

census records | Family Tree University | immigration records | Land records | Photos | Research Tips | Vital Records
Wednesday, May 05, 2010 10:27:47 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Resources for Revolutionary War Soldiers and Criminal Research
Posted by Diane

Our own Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor’s book, The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation (Kent State University Press), is so new she only had one to bring to the National Genealogical Society conference last week.



The book is full of rare daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and carte des visite paper photographs of Revolutionary War-era men and women in their later years. You’ll also find genealogical information about each person.

Taylor is also the author of Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs (Family Tree Books), now on sale at ShopFamilyTree.com.

Last week, we showed you one character making the rounds at the conference. Another one was Ron Arons, founder of Criminal Research Press, who appeared both in gangster getup (below) and prison stripes.



He’s written WANTED! U.S. Criminal Records: Sources & Research Methodology and The Jews of Sing Sing. His website has a search of Jewish inmates of New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility, which was a temporary home to Arons’ great-grandfather.

For help researching criminals, also see the November 2009 Family Tree Magazine.

Genealogy books | Photos
Tuesday, May 04, 2010 9:11:58 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Saturday, May 01, 2010
WDYTYA? Recap: Spike Lee Episode
Posted by Diane

We’re at Ancestry.com’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” viewing party, watching the season finale with a few hundred of our best genealogy friends at the National Genealogical Society conference.

Here are a few of them:




First, we hear some behind the scenes info on the season from Anastasia Tyler, who coordinated the research for the show:
  • 6,300 hours of research went into the series

  • An average of more than 425 hours of research went into each show

  • Researchers did preliminary work on more than 20 trees, then whittled that down to 7 due to the celebrities’ schedules

  • A core team of 30 genealogists worked on the episodes, aided by scads of others who visited archives, did record lookups and more.

  • Places the crew researched around the world that didn’t make it into the show include Germany, England, Ukraine, Russia, Ireland, Korea and Canada

  • Repositories visited included the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts Historical Society and other state archives, local courthouses, public libraries, churches in New York City and France, and synagogues in Ukraine.

  • Filming all seven episodes took 9.5 months
Curtains up and the show begins. Director Spike Lee says his mother’s side of the family is a mystery. This show starts with Lee visiting his mom, but this episode is different from previous ones: He’s at her gravesite. Jacqueline Shelton Lee died of cancer when Spike was 19.

His grandmother “Momma” put him through college and helped him start his career. She died at 100 in 2006. Lee says he “squandered” opportunities to ask her about her family. “Being a filmmaker, I should’ve been filming her … you take stuff for granted” and let yourself believe that the person will be around forever.

Momma’s grandmother Lucinda Jackson was born into slavery. Lee looks for her death records in Dublin, Laurens County, Ga., with help from African-American history expert Melvin Collier. From Georgia death records on Ancestry.com, we learn Lucinda died in 1934.

Next is an obituary search in newspaper microfilm—a successful one. From Lucinda’s obituary, Lee is surprised to learn Lucinda had three sons, Isaac, Phillip and Wilson. But there’s no mention of the boys’ father.

Phillip’s death certificate reveals the answer: His father’s name is Mars Jackson. Spike recalls that when he called Momma to ask for a character’s name for his film She’s Gotta Have It, she suggested Mars.

Next, Lee heads to the Georgia State Archives to meet historian Mark Schultz. They search the 1880 census on Ancestry.com and find a Mars, a farmer in Twiggs County. The family has all the right first names and ages, but they’re under the name Woodall. Schultz says this could be the name of a former slaveowner.

On to earlier censuses, now searching for the slaveowning Woodall family. In the 1860 census, they find the only white Woodall family in the county. This is likely Mars’ owners. Woodall’s 1860 slave schedule, which enumerates slaves by age (not by name), probably includes Lee’s ancestors.

Because Mars was listed as a farmer in 1880, Schultz and Lee look in the 1880 agricultural census. They discover Mars owned land—80 acres of tilled land, plus 50 of wooded land, plus 75 acres of “other” land. Schultz says that when positive relationships existed between former slaves and owners, the freedman may have used those ties to get a start. Perhaps Woodall lent Mars the money to purchase the land.

Lee uses a map to find the acreage Mars owned. He puts on his Mars necklace from the film. “It all started here,” he says. He digs up some Georgia red clay and puts it in a TJ Maxx bag to take with him.

Now we look for Lucinda, starting with her death certificate. Her parents were Wilson and Matilda Griswold. In the 1870 census, Matilda, listed as mulatto, is a cook living with an Ebenezer and Eliza Grier in Griswoldville. There’s no Wilson.

Genealogist Daina Berry presents a contract for several slaves, including Wilson, to be hired out to work in a Samuel Griswold’s cotton gin factory. Berry points out that the fact that the slaves were named means they’re probably highly skilled. Another document (we don’t hear what it is) says that in 1865, Gen. Sherman’s troops destroyed the business and carried away five “negro” men.

Did Wilson go with Sherman? Was he killed? We head to Griswoldville, which has a plaque where the factory once was. The cotton gin company’s plant had been converted to a pistol factory to supply the Confederate Army—hence Sherman’s attack. Local historian Bill Bragg drives up with some records and a pistol that was manufactured at the plant. It was the biggest pistol manufacturer in the Confederacy. “My great-great-grandfather built this pistol…” Lee says. “Which was used to kill the people who were coming to liberate him,” finishes Braggs. The irony.

We see a picture of a grim Samuel and Louisa Griswold in 1860. Lee wants to know if he could be related to James Griswold, perhaps through Matilda, who was listed as a mulatto in the census. Certainly, Bragg says, it’s a possibility.

Berry says that Griswold’s daughter Eliza married Ebenezer Grier, and Matilda was probably gifted to her. Often, children of owners and slaves were sent away to another household. Circumstantial evidence points to Griswold as Matilda’s father.

Berry finds a descendant of the Griswold family on ancestry.com. Guinevere Greer is a great-great-granddaughter of Wilson Griswold, so she may be a third cousin twice removed to Lee. They sit on the couch and have a conversation. What do you say to someone whose ancestor your ancestor owned? You should definitely watch this part of the show. Watch the whole thing, but definitely this part.

“My grandmother, maybe she knew a lot, but she didn’t tell us because we didn’t ask,” says Lee. “I hope my children know they’re on the shoulders of great people.”

I thought this was the most educational episode because it seemed to offer more explanation about the records we were seeing. This episode also has a lot of humor in it--Spike lee's a funny guy.

You can read more about this episode on Ancestry.com.  You can watch the show on NBC’s website.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Saturday, May 01, 2010 2:12:54 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]