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# Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Search Revolutionary War Records Free on Footnote July 1-7
Posted by Diane

I blogged earlier about Revolutionary War resources, including subscription genealogy site Footnote’s pension and service records.

Lo and behold, Footnote announces those records will be free to all starting tomorrow, July 1, through July 7.

You’ll need to register for a free basic Footnote membership to search these records. Get started at

Footnote | Free Databases | Military records
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 15:35:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Resources for Revolutionary War Ancestors
Posted by Diane

Do your US roots run all the way back to the American Revolution? This Independence Day, research your Revolutionary War ancestors using these resources:
  • Revolutionary War Websites:15 websites where you can learn more about the struggle for US independence and research your Revolutionary War ancestors.
  • Black Loyalists: Our History, Our People: As many as 30 000 American slaves took advantage of Britain’s promise of freedom to slaves who joined the British troops. As the war ended, many moved to Canada with other Loyalists.
  • Sons of the American Revolution: This lineage society with a research library in Louisville, Ky., is for males who are descended from a Revolutionary War Patriot.
Need help researching your Colonial and Revolutionary War ancestors? Check out these resources from

Military records
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 13:53:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Access the 1911 Canadian Census Free Through July 4
Posted by Diane

Got Canadian ancestors? In celebration of Canada Day tomorrow, Canadian subscription genealogy site is making its 1911 Canadian Census records free through July 4.

You’ll need a free basic registration with the site to access the  records. Get started by clicking here.

The census includes the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan; and the territories of Yukon and Northwest. You may find an individual’s address, occupation, place of birth, immigration year, family members, religion, and parents’ birthplaces.

For more help  researching your Canadian roots, see these resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Wednesday, 30 June 2010 09:28:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 25 June 2010
Genealogy News Corral: June 21-25
Posted by Diane

Thanks to the World Cup, you can once again access records on British genealogy site free for a limited time this weekend. You’ll need to register for a free account by midnight June 26 for access between 9a.m. Sunday and 9a.m. Monday (note that these are UK times—midnight June 26 in the UK equals 7p.m. EST June 25, according to the World Time Converter, so you'll have to get a move on). Get details about this offer on

FamilySearch is starting new indexing projects for civil births in Jamaica (1878–1899); Arkansas WWII draft registrations (1942); Washington, DC, deaths (1874–1959); and North Carolina Freedmen Letters (1862–1870) from former slaves to the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. The indexes will eventually be searchable free on FamilySearch. To volunteer for any of these projects, visit FamilySearch Indexing. has announced its discovery that actor Robert Pattinson, star of the popular “Twilight Saga” vampire books and movies, is related to Vlad the Impaler (considered by some to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula) through the British royal family. Genea-Musings blogger Randy Seaver points out, though, that the company doesn’t specify the exact relationship, and that Pattinson’s link to British royals and their link to Vlad the Impaler doesn’t guarantee Pattinson is related to Vlad. | Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 25 June 2010 14:37:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
See the world with Google Earth
Posted by Grace

We're putting together four new classes for the next session of Family Tree University, which starts July 21! Lisa Louise Cooke's new class Google Earth for Genealogists will show you how to use a powerful free program in your genealogy search. Here's a taste of what you'll learn:
Because land doesn't move, it's one of the few elements of our ancestors' lives that we can always count on. Consider an old photograph: Buildings may have changed but the surrounding landmarks such as hills, valleys and rock formations still stand today and can aid in identification.

Let's start using Google Earth by searching for an address that you probably have to get a feel for what I mean by this: the house where one of your sets of grandparents lived.
  1. In the Search panel type the address in the Fly To box and click the magnifying glass icon.
  2. The globe in the 3D viewer will start to turn and very quickly will zoom in to that location.
  3. Place a placemark on that location so you keep track of the exact spot by clicking the Placemark button in the Viewer Toolbar.
  4. When the New Placemark box opens, label the placemark with the exact street address and your grandparents' names.
  5. Click OK.
You have now located your first ancestral home on Google Earth. Great job! 
Learn more and sign up here

Family Tree University | Research Tips
Friday, 25 June 2010 12:49:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 24 June 2010
Historical Photo Database Shows NYC's Lower East Side Tenements
Posted by Diane

The Tenement Museum in New York City’s Lower East has launched on online database of more than 1,300 images from the museum’s collection.

Photos show the neighborhood, historic and contemporary photographs of 97 Orchard Street (the restored tenement where the museum is located) and historic portraits of people who lived and worked there.

You can browse, run a basic search by keyword, or run an advanced search on a name, place, year range or other terms. If you click on an image in your search results, you can enlarge it or save it to your favorites (in which case you’ll need to create a free account).

By 1900, more than 80,000 tenements had been built in New York City, according to About 2.3 million people—two-thirds of the city’s population, many of them poor immigrants—lived in tenement housing. The building at 97 Orchard Street was home to 7,000 people from more than 20 nations between 1863 and 1935.

Author and photographer Jacob Riis exposed the miserable conditions of tenement houses in his book How the Other Half Lives, published in 1890. (Read it on Google Books). The book was instrumental in urban reforms regulating the construction of tenements.

Free Databases | Museums | Photos | Social History
Thursday, 24 June 2010 11:04:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
10 Reasons to Enroll in Family Tree University
Posted by Allison

Family Tree University is the only program that combines a friendly, accessible style of genealogy instruction—popularized by Family Tree Magazine—with a state-of-the-art online learning environment to make genealogy education rewarding and fun.

Whether you're a family history newbie or veteran researcher, here are 10 reasons to take a Family Tree University course:

1. Easy-to-follow lessons show you how to find and use genealogy resources. Too often, how-to seminars and articles tell you that resources are available to you, but don't explain how to actually use them or where to get them.

2. The content is developed by experts who know genealogy and frequently write and teach about their course topics. You benefit from the expertise of someone who's been there and has experiences to share.

3. Courses are designed specifically for people who do genealogy for fun. Our students are people who, like you, want to get more from their hobby. Family Tree University isn't for professionals seeking certification (although you will get a "diploma" for each course you complete!).

4. There's a course for every genealogist. Class topics cover everything from using different types of records to preserving and sharing your research—check out our complete course list. (Don't see the course you'd most like to take? Email us.)

5. You can go to class in your jammies. There's no set time you have to show up for class—you can log in at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning, whatever's convenient to you. And there's no one else in the room to see your bedhead or bunny slippers.

6. Connect with other genealogists. Each course has a private message board just for the students and instructor, where you can bounce around ideas and share your challenges with other researchers just like you.

7. You'll become a better researcher. The time, effort and money you invest in taking a Family Tree University course will pay dividends by teaching you how to trace your ancestors more efficiently, confidently and cost-effectively.

8. See research tools and techniques in action. Some concepts are easier shown than told. Family Tree University courses integrate photos, screen shots and even video demos into the lessons to enhance your learning experience.

9. You can save class materials for future reference. Each lesson and reading assignment is available as a PDF download, so that even after your course session concludes, you can keep all the materials to refer to later.

10. You'll make research progress. Our classes incorporate exercises that allow you to practice techniques and apply what you've learned to your own family history work.

Be sure to watch our "crash course" video to see a demonstration of how our courses work.

Family Tree University | Research Tips | Videos
Thursday, 24 June 2010 10:30:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 23 June 2010
French Canadian Roots? Search the Drouin Collection Free June 24-26
Posted by Diane

Got French Candian ancestors? You’ll be thrilled to know that subscription genealogy site (the Canadian sister to is making its Drouin Collection—best available French Canadian genealogy resource—free for three days from June 24-26.

See the full announcement on Dick Eastman’s Genealogy blog. The freebie celebrates Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, a national holiday of Quebec on June 24. You’ll need a free registration to access the records.

(Note that the Drouin collection also is on, but isn’t being made free there.)

The Drouin Collection has millions of names from family books of the Drouin Genealogical Institute, founded in 1899. Information comes from Quebec vital and notarial records, Acadian Catholic church records, Ontario Catholic church records and early US French Catholic church records. The collection dates from the beginning of European settlement to the 1940s, documenting many Quebec families over three centuries.

Want more information on researching your French  Canadian ancestors? See the French Canadian research guide in the June 2006 Family Tree Magazine, available as a digital download from (Family Tree Magazine Plus members can access the guide on | Free Databases | French Canadian roots
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 13:10:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Tried the Free FamilySearch Record Databases Lately?
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch sent out an announcement that it’s added millions of names and digital images in 29 collections at the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot Site.

The same content is searchable at FamilySearch Beta, where a new interface and search options are being tested. Click Show Advanced to see all the search fields, which include birth and death year and place, as well as information about parents and spouse. You also can add year ranges designate search terms as exact.

I searched for the same ancestor on both sites, and the beta site seemed to do a better job of weeding out irrelevant results.

Many of the new records are international, comprising church, civil registration or census records from Costa Rica, France, Hungary, Mexico and Spain. In addition, the 1910 US census index grew by nine more states.

In all, the site has 428 record collections and counting. You can see them listed both on the Record Search Pilot and on FamilySearch Beta site.

You can get help using the genealogical resources of FamilySearch on

FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 12:42:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Here's to the First Decade ... and Many More!
Posted by Diane

As Family Tree Magazine approached its 10th anniversary in 2010, podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke decided it was time to invite back frequent contributor David Fryxell for a behind-the-scenes look at the magazine’s first decade. Cooke wrote this post about their conversation:

As the founding editor, Fryxell couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic about Family Tree Magazine’s early years and vast amount of ground covered since.
In Family Tree Magazine Podcast Episode 20, Fryxell explained the difficulties staff faced in getting the magazine off the ground—starting with the lack of a good, compiled list of genealogists to mail to. But thankfully word spread and interest grew quickly.
Fryxell summed up his feelings about the expanding reach of the magazine this way: “It’s really been gratifying to see over the years how many people it has helped. People are still excited to discover the magazine!”

And that is so true. I experienced that just last week at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. My Genealogy Gems Podcast booth was set up next to the Family Tree Magazine booth, and there were plenty of newbies whose eyes lit up when they discovered free podcasts and a magazine passionately devoted to family history.
While articles, graphics and fonts change over the years, Fryxell is confident that some things never change. “The mission was and continues to be to provide you with the tools to make progress in your family history.”
But in this high-tech, online world, what does the future hold for a print magazine? Fryxell is confident that with its mission still firmly in place, Family Tree Magazine has much more to offer now and well into the future.
“The print medium serves as an entry point to all the stuff that’s online. Family Tree Magazine can show you how to find useful sites and useable search results!” Fryxell declares.
I couldn’t agree more. With thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of genealogy websites, it’s more important than ever to have a trusted friend who can help you sift through all the noise and get to the information that will provide genealogical success.
And with the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, we like to think we're giving that trusted friend another voice.
Thanks for listening!
Lisa Louise Cooke is the voice of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, as well as an instructor for Family Tree University, writer for the magazine, and publisher of the new DVD Google Earth for Genealogy, available at

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Family Tree Magazine articles | Podcasts
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 13:43:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 21 June 2010
A Look at the New Land Ownership Maps on
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site recently added a collection of US land ownership maps—about 1,200 county land ownership atlases digitized from microfilmed at the Library of Congress. The atlases come from 20 states and date between 1860 and 1918.

Maps show land parcels labeled with owners’ names. They vary in appearance depending on when and where they were published. This one shows Van Buren Township, Ind., in 1914.

You can search the collection by state, county, year or owner’s name. When you click to view an image, it may take awhile to hunt for the name you need (use the magnifying glass in's record viewer to enlarge the image).

Once you find a relative's parcel, look at the other names. You may see names of people who’ve appeared as witnesses on family documents, or families who’ve married into yours. If you can determine when your ancestor purchased the land, you can contact the county (usually, the county clerk or the recorder's office) to request a deed of sale.

It helps to have a good idea of where an ancestor lived and when he owned land before you search this database. The maps offer no identifying information about the landowners, so if you just search on an ancestor to see if he shows up, you may have a hard time deciding if a match is the right person.

The M. Reuter who owns land at the top of the above map may be a relative of mine (I’m guessing my great-grandfather’s brother).

I found the family in the 1920 census ...

but then I realized I have other work I need to get done today. I’ll let you know what I find out about this.

In the mean time, you can learn more about how to find your ancestors' land records in these resources from Family Tree Magazine: | Land records
Monday, 21 June 2010 13:38:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 18 June 2010
Genealogy News Corral: June 14-18
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has added records from Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, and the United States to its Record Search Pilot site and Beta Search site. US additions include indexes to the 1910 census for several states, Massachusetts death records, Minnesota probate court wills.
  • Michigan residents can access state history-related documents (such as personal narratives, memoirs, pamphlets and political speeches) and historical essays through Gale’s collection Michigana, Sources in U.S. History Online, available as part of Michigan eLibrary. (Some eLibrary material is accessible to only those who log in with a Michigan library card, driver’s license or state ID.)

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 18 June 2010 14:55:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Make a Family History Book
Posted by Grace

Have you thought about creating a book about your family but didn't know where to start? One of our new Family Tree University classes, Creating a Family History Book, takes you step-by-step through the process!

Instructor Nancy Hendrickson gives you advice for determining a theme, collecting the information you need for the book and putting the whole thing together. She's also got tips for great family interviews:
Anecdotes are the heart and soul of interviews—they are those wonderful little stories we all love reading. But how do you get those anecdotes? Author John Brady writes, "If he says, 'I owe my 40 years of marriage to absolute understanding and compatibility,' ask him, 'What do you mean by understanding and compatibility? Can you give me some examples?'"
Asking follow-up questions is important because it lets the subject know you're genuinely curious and interested in what they’re saying. Although you have a prepared list of questions, don't be afraid to follow one of your subject's comments off into unexpected territory. 
If this is your first interview, you may feel nervous and awkward. Take heart. You'll improve with practice. When you think the interview is over, ask one last question: "Is there anything else I should have asked you?" You'll be surprised at the great information this question elicits.
This class starts Monday, June 21 and lasts for four weeks. It's self-paced, so you can work on the exercises and your book project whenever it's convenient for you, and Nancy will give you personalized feedback on your work! You can download a copy of the syllabus here and sign up for the class here.

Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree University
Friday, 18 June 2010 10:07:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Stuck? Tips From Our Brick Wall-Busting Webinar
Posted by Diane

If you didn’t make Tuesday’s Brick Wall Busters webinar, you missed out on some great advice from David Allen Lambert, online genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). Over the course of the hour, David tackled the research challenges attendees threw at him. Just a few of the helpful tidbits he shared:
  • When you get stuck in the early 1800s, make the last known county your adopted home—that is, camp out with the microfilmed deeds, probates and other records for that place and look at all the people with your ancestral surname.
  • Middle names came into common usage around the 1790s. If you see earlier folk recorded with middle names in compiled genealogies or other family charts, be suspicious of their accuracy.
  • Have a New England immigrant who didn’t naturalize? Many New England tombstones have the deceased’s specific places of origin inscribed on them.
  • If you suspect an ancestor died at sea, look for a “cenotaph”—a memorial (e.g., marker) for a deceased person whose body is not at that site.

  • Military pensions provide much useful detail about your ancestors, but generally won’t name a soldier’s parents.
Hear all of David’s insightful tips and strategies in the on-demand Brick Wall Busters webinar recording, available now on

And be sure to check out the NEHGS Online Genealogist Question of the Day.

Genealogy societies | Research Tips | Webinars
Friday, 18 June 2010 09:35:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 17 June 2010
4 Genealogical Questions You Always Wanted to Ask ...
Posted by Diane

While hosting the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, Lisa Louise Cooke has discovered answers to some burning genealogical questions. She shares them in this post:
As I continue my trek down Family Tree Magazine Podcast memory lane, I’m struck by how many talented and knowledgeable people I’ve had the good fortune to interview. Even better, I get to ask those questions that are on all of our minds:
  • How did the DeadFred photo-reunion website get its name? 

  • Can you get copies of materials from the Library of Congress (LOC) without being there in person? 

  • If I get my DNA tested, does that mean the FBI can look at my profile and compare it to criminal cases?

  • How many DNA markers should I have tested?
Inquiring minds want to know, and on the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, I do my best every month to find out!
In the July 2009 podcast episode, founder Joe Bott spilled the beans behind that wacky website name. “Sometimes you need a hook to get people’s attention!” he said. He came up with the name while looking at an old photograph of the deceased Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

That catchy name coined back in 1998 has lured thousands of people to post their mystery photographs, resulting in over 1,500 photos being reunited with their families in the past 10 years. Bottom line: DeadFred works! (Learn more about online photo sharing in our Photo Sharing 101 webinar recording.)
The question about getting copies of LOC materials was front and center in my mind after I heard James Sweeny, an LOC reference services librarian for 20-plus years, reveal some impressive stats:
  • The LOC is the largest library in the world.

  • It has more than 60,000 genealogies from around the world.

  • It has 20 million cataloged books.

  • Its unmatched US city directory collection covers 1,200 cities, towns and counties across the country.

  • The library building  has 20 reading rooms.
In the September 2009 podcast episode, Sweeny encourages listeners to check out the LOC website and use the “Ask the Librarian” feature. It turns out that staff will make a limited number of complimentary (yes, free!) copies and mail them to you. This is great when you need to check a book's index or look up a surname in a hard-to-find city directory. If you need a lot of copies, you can arrange the service for a fee without ever leaving home. 
Another little-known fact about the LOC's mostly non-circulating collection:  Many of its genealogies and local histories are also available on microfilm, which does circulate to your local library. Again, check the online catalog and ask a librarian for more information.
And finally, Dusty Rhoades of DNA testing service and social networking site GeneTree answers that nagging question about DNA testing and criminal cases in the November 2009 podcast episode.
“Genealogy DNA testing can’t tie you to the scene of a crime,” says Rhoades. That's because genetic genealogy tests and forensic DNA tests look at different parts of the chromosome.
Another common question is “how many markers should I test?” Rhoads recommends between 33 and 46. Testing only 12 markers can lead to false positives. And though a connection may appear strong with 33 markers, testing 46 markers may show it’s not as strong as it looks. 
And of course, when it comes to DNA, it’s a case of the more the merrier.
“The more people who get involved, the easier it is for us to find you matches” says Rhoades. (Find more genetic genealogy answers in the December 2009 Family Tree Magazine's Complete Guide to Genetic Genealogy.)
When it comes to questions, the Family Tree Magazine Podcast has answers!  And because it’s pre-recorded, you can find the answers today and well into the future. Got a burning genealogical question you'd like to hear about in the podcast? E-mail it to us!

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Libraries and Archives | Photos | Podcasts
Thursday, 17 June 2010 09:18:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Group Genealogy Is Fun! 5 Upcoming Conferences
Posted by Diane

Where can you combine family history research, learning and socializing into one neat and satisfyingly exhausting package? Genealogy conferences, of course—just ask the people still basking in the afterglow of last weekend's Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree.

Consider attending one of these upcoming events:

The Federation of Genealogical Societies national conference has extended its early bird registration discount to June 21. The conference takes place Aug. 18-21 in Knoxville, Tenn. Find out more about the classes, special events, exhibit hall (which we at Family Tree Magazine will call home for the four days) and local research opportunities on the FGS website.

This year’s International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference, place July 11-16 in Los Angeles, will feature more than 130 speakers and 250 programs, plus an on-site Jewish genealogy library (staffed with translators), Jewish genealogy film festival, field trips and more. Learn more and register on the conference website.

You can choose from more than 100 classes at Brigham Young University’s Family History and Genealogy Conference, July 27-30 at the BYU Conference Center in Provo, Utah. Register and get more details on the conference website.

Midwestern Roots is another conference you’ll want to put on your calendar. This Indiana Historical Society event is in Indianapolis, Ind., on Aug. 6-7, with pre-conference activities (including a writing workshop, computer labs and migration panel discussion) on Aug. 5.

The Ohio Chapter Palatines to America German Genealogy Society is holding its annual fall seminar Oct. 16 in Columbus, Ohio. Special presentations will cover indentured servitude and immigration to America in the 18th century. Learn more on the organization’s website.

Headed to a genealogy conference? Read our tips for preparing and getting the most out of the event. Check with your local genealogical society to find a conference close to home.

Genealogy Events
Wednesday, 16 June 2010 14:25:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Beefing Up Your Genealogy Know-How
Posted by Diane

Working at a genealogy magazine is educational. I’ve been picking up knowledge while working on some of our Family Tree University genealogy classes, starting up again June 21.

From Diana Crisman Smith’s US Military Records class, for example, I’ve learned all about Compiled Military Service Records (CMSRs). These are the cards that the War Department compiled for soldiers from the Revolutionary War through the Philippine Insurrection, taking information from muster rolls, pay lists and other service records. I learned how you can go from the card to the record that was the source of the information, and saw some examples of CMSRs and muster rolls.

Other lessons in this class cover military pension records, bounty lands, draft registrations and terminology.

Our second session Family Tree University classes start June 21, with the first session's favorites and new offerings including the military records class, finding German roots, creating a family history book and more.

Whether you could use an introduction, a refresher or advanced learning, take a look at our course list, meet our expert instructors and see if there’s a course for you.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree University | Military records
Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:57:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1] to Buy Genline
Posted by Diane

The biggest US-based genealogy company will acquire the biggest Swedish genealogy company. Subscription genealogy site has agreed to buy Genline, a subscription site featuring virtually all Swedish church records, for about $6.7 million, according to Global NewsWire.

Read more about the transaction here. | Genealogy Industry | International Genealogy
Tuesday, 15 June 2010 08:12:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 14 June 2010
Free British Genealogy Records During England's World Cup Matches
Posted by Diane

Don’t tell my husband I said this, but it’s almost enough to make an American genealogist want to cheer on England's footballers: British subscription and pay-per-view site is free during England’s World Cup soccer matches!

The World Cup match schedule is here. Thirty minutes before kick-off, will stop charging for 3 hours.

Get full details on You’ll need to sign up for a free registration to access records.

Among FindMyPast's records are:
  • British civil registrations (akin to US vital records) starting in 1837
  • 1841 to 1911 English and Welsh census records
  • passengers leaving British ports (which includes those whose journeys originated elsewhere in Europe but brought them through British ports, such as Liverpool)
  • death duty registers of probates generating taxes (1796 to 1903)
  • British Army Service Records 1760-1913
  • National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918
  • Army Roll of Honour 1939-45
  • specialist records (civil service records, directories of the medical professions and clergy, crew lists, shareholders of the Great Western Railway)
Need help practicing for your soccer-fueled genealogy search session? Download our Web Guide, available for $4 from

Free Databases | UK and Irish roots
Monday, 14 June 2010 08:46:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 10 June 2010
Solutions to Genealogy Stumpers
Posted by Diane

There's a yawning gap in my dad’s line from 1918 to 1924. It’s not filled by the 1920 census (as I’ve concluded after years of searching and browsing records), city directories or other records I’ve looked for. What now?

Sooner or later, every genealogist gets stuck like this. If you’ve hit the dreaded brick wall, next week’s webinar is for you:

During Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Real-Life Stumpers, Family Tree Magazine publisher and editorial director Allison Stacy, along with New England Historic Genealogical Society online genealogist David Lambert, will walk you through strategies for getting around tough research obstacles.

You'll learn:
  • How to analyze your research problem and break it into manageable chunks
  • Ways to surmount common brick-wall scenarios
  • Professional genealogists’ favorite methods for conquering research challenges
As a registrant for the live event, you’ll be able to submit your own brick wall to get personalized advice. Our presenters will tackle brick walls from selected participants during the webinar. And everyone who registers and sends in a question will receive a personalized strategy e-mail from the presenters.

The hour-long webinar is Tuesday, June 15 at 7 p.m. Eastern. You'll find more details at

Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, 10 June 2010 09:24:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Footnote's Civil War Records Are Free Through June
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site Footnote is making its Civil War records collection free through the month of June.

This is a great opportunity to begin researching your Civil War ancestor (right in time for next year's sesquicentennial of the war's first shots). Get started searching the collection at <>. You'll need to register for a free Footnote basic membership to gain access to the records.

Footnote’s Civil War records, digitized through a partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration, have information on both Union and Confederate soldiers. Among the records are:
  • Union and Confederate service records for many states (these records are being added as they’re digitized)

  • Widow’s pension files (records are being added as they’re digitized)

  • Emancipation documents and slave records

  • Confederate amnesty papers and citizens files

  • Lincoln assassination investigation and trial papers

  • Civil War photos and maps
A good first step to confirm your Civil War ancestor’s service is to search the free Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, which has 6 million names of those who served in the war.

These resources from Family Tree Magazine have more on how to search for Civil War ancestors and use the records on Footnote:

Footnote | Free Databases | Military records
Thursday, 10 June 2010 08:35:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 08 June 2010
Family Tree University's Google classes
Posted by Grace

Everybody googles. Heck, I google things about every 4.5 seconds, it seems. And no genealogist should be without a solid working knowledge of this beast of a search engine. That's why we've got a whole Google track over at Family Tree University. Our courses starting June 21 include two just on Google.

In Lisa Louise Cooke's Google Tools for Genealogists, you'll learn about Google Earth, historical maps and more. Here's a sample:
A new feature in Google Earth is Historical Imagery. Click the clock icon on the Tool Bar and a slider bar will appear at the top of the map indicating how far back map images are available for your location. In the case of San Francisco we can turn the hands of time back to 1946 image. To return to modern day just unclick the clock icon or move the slider back up to the current year.
In the new Mastering Google Search class, Cooke gives you the tools to harness the search engine's power. Here's an example of using Google's image search:
Go to Image Search and look for a portrait of a historical figure such as George Washington. In the results pages you'll see many faces of George Washington. However, as you move on through the search results, soon you'll come across other things, like a photograph of George Washington’s false teeth. Not exactly what you were looking for.

To eliminate the unwanted images and narrow in on the desired images, go back to the search box and click the Advance Image Search link. You'll see a blue box near the top and then a white box below. Within that box the first option is Content Types: return images that contain. Click on Faces and click the Search button again.  

Now every search result is a facial image. It might be a portrait on a stamp or on a coin, but it will be a face. We have succeeded in narrowing the original search results down from 6.7 million images to 548,000 images. Think how well this might work with an ancestor who is not quite is famous as George Washington!
Not sure how online classes work? No problem! Just sign up for our free FTU Crash Course that's happening tomorrow! In the half-hour webinar, you'll meet some of our instructors, get a guided tour of the virtual campus and learn how online learning works. One lucky registrant will win a free FTU course of his or her choosing, and everyone who attends get a valuable coupon code. (Even if you can't attend the webinar live, sign up and you'll get a link to view the recording and still be entered into the drawing!)

And remember -- Family Tree University's June webinar, Brick Wall Busters, is still taking registrants at the early bird price until tomorrow (June 9) at midnight. You can sign up for just $39.99 and submit your own brick wall for some expert advice.

Family Tree University | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, 08 June 2010 16:55:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Shoestring Travel Sites and Other Favorite Tips From the Podcast
Posted by Diane

In celebration of the free Family Tree Magazine Podcast's second birthday, host Lisa Louise Cooke remembers some of her great guests and favorite advice with this guest post:

It’s a kick traveling down memory lane as we celebrate the 2nd birthday of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast this month. What really struck me as I was preparing to write this blog post are some of our stats. In two years we’ve had more than 40 expert guests, including:
In total, we’re talking about 15-plus hours of content so far. It’s like attending a virtual genealogy conference from the convenience of your own home! And sometimes you learn surprising things that you might not otherwise hear.

For example, Maureen A. Taylor is known as the Photo Detective, but did you know that in her family she’s also referred to as the Family Cheapskate?  In the February 2009 podcast episode, she pulled some of her best tips out of her article Research Trips on a Shoestring (March 2009 Family Tree Magazine).

I could easily see where this label came from! Not only does Maureen have a knack for seeing critical clues in photos, but also for spotting good deals online. She recommended some of her favorite-yet- less-well-known travel sites, including, and Travelzoo. I'd never heard of any them, but now regularly check them for deals.

In that same podcast episode, my conversation with Patricia M. Van Skaik of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was also an eye opener.

As a Californian, I hadn't considered libraries in Ohio to be high on my list of research locations, but Patricia changed all that. Cincinnati Library genealogy holdings cover all 50 states and 23 foreign countries, and the collection is more than 150 years old. In fact, back in 1850, Cincinnati was the sixth largest city in the nation—which makes it a hotbed of records from that time period. Add in a map collection ranked in the top three in the country and I’ll never look at distant libraries the same way again!

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Libraries and Archives | Podcasts | Research Tips
Tuesday, 08 June 2010 15:12:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 07 June 2010
Ways to Walk in Your Ancestors' Shoes
Posted by Diane

According to their passenger list, my Haddad ancestors first arrived on US shores Nov. 11, 1900. That was five days after President William McKinley was re-elected, beating challenger William Jennings Bryan. The next day, the World’s Fair in Paris closed. A little more than a month later, the new main building of the Ellis Island Immigration station was opened.

Want to find out what was happening on or about an important event in your family’s history? These sites can help:'s This Day in History: You’ll see a top story from on today’s date in history; click View Calendar to select another date.

Any Day in History: Pick a date and get a list of famous people’s birthdates, holidays and a timeline of historic happenings on that date.

New York Times On This Day: Find events on today’s date, or click the tiny Go To previous date link for a clickable list of dates. Select a date to get a list of historical events on that date.

BrainyHistory: Select a year range, then a year, and get a list of events that happened on most days of the year.

Library of Congress Today in History: Get a look at some library materials related to historic events on today’s date. Click archives to enter another date.

On This Day in History: Pick a date and see events, births and deaths that happened on that day.

What happened in my birth year?: Type in your birth year (or any year) and you’ll see a countdown and get an essay—letter by letter—about what life was like and what happened that year. This cool tool only goes back to 1900, though. Find out what happened this week in history and browse timelines such as American history, technology, famous people and sports. At the bottom of the page, click What Happened On to select a date.

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Social History
Monday, 07 June 2010 15:41:40 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 04 June 2010
National Doughnut Day slideshow
Posted by Grace

The Salvation Army declared the first Friday of June National Doughnut day in 1938 to commemorate the World War I soldiers' affinity for the sweet treats. Women volunteers with the Salvation Army handed out doughnuts to the men on the front lines, who then took their predilections home with them. (That's where the name Doughboy comes from.)
We scoured the Library of Congress' photo archives for historic pictures of doughnut-eating in action.

Visit our website to see the slideshow (You can click through to our Flickr page to see the details and descriptions of the photos.)

Genealogy fun | Libraries and Archives | Photos
Friday, 04 June 2010 14:35:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Jamboree Time!
Posted by Diane

The hip and happening Southern California Genealogy Jamboree is June 11-13 next week in at the Los Angeles Marriott Hotel Burbank.

If you’re going, visit booth 117 to see the latest Family Tree Magazine genealogy books and CDs, and say hi to two of our BFFs: Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor and Family Tree Magazine Podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke.

On the Southern California Genealogy Society website, you’ll find a schedule of classes and special events, registration information and an exhibitor list on the Southern California Genealogical Society website.  Check out the Jamboree blog, too.

Cooke is hosting a live episode of her own Genealogy Gems Podcast with guests Taylor, “Who Do You Think You Are?” insider Suzanne Russo Adams and Chris Haley, archivist and nephew of Roots author Alex Haley. It’ll take place Sat., June 12 at 1 pm in the hotel Pavilion. I hear audience members could win prizes! Here’s more info via video:

Friday, 04 June 2010 13:11:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Which Family Tree Magazine Cover Do You Prefer?
Posted by Diane

These are the two cover options we're looking at for our November issue, with a lead story about organizing your research and saving space. Which do you like better, A or B?

Click Comments to reply (we also have these on our Facebook page if you'd like to comment there). Thanks for your input!

The November 2010 issue starts mailing to subscribers in mid-August and will be available in starting Sept. 7.

Family Tree Magazine articles
Friday, 04 June 2010 12:41:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [36]
# Thursday, 03 June 2010
Search the 1901 Irish Census Free Online
Posted by Grace

The National Archives of Ireland has released the 1901 Irish census in a free online database. All 32 counties—encompassing both of what’s now the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland—are covered in this census.

You can search by name, county, and other factors. You can use an asterisk as a wildcard in a surname. The site automatically adds a range of plus or minus five years to ages. (The site was slow when I tried it this morning, so you might need to let the initial rush subside before trying your search.)

The 1911 census also is searchable on the site. The 1901 and 1911 censuses are the only surviving full Irish censuses open to the public.

The Irish census is unique because you can see the original household manuscript returns (the forms filled out by the head of each household on census night), rather than just transcribed enumerators’ books.

The basic topographical divisions for the census are county, district electoral division (or DED), and townland or street.

A number of townlands/streets are missing from the database 1901 and 1911. According to the Irish national archives website, these forms weren’t microfilmed or digitized. The material will be put online as soon as possible.

More Irish genealogy resources from Family Tree Magazine.

census records | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, 03 June 2010 08:24:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 01 June 2010
Free FTU webinar next week!
Posted by Grace

Have you been curious about Family Tree University but didn't know exactly what it was or how it would work? Have we got a webinar for you!

Join us Wednesday, June 9, at 1 p.m. Eastern (that's 10 a.m. Pacific), for a free half-hour tour of FTU. Some of our fantastic instructors will be on hand to talk about their courses and answer questions.

By the way -- if you can't call in during the live webinar, you should still sign up and you'll receive an e-mail with a link to the recording so you can watch it any time you like.

PLUS: One lucky registrant will win a free course from Family Tree University! The winner will be randomly selected from all registrants. We'll announce the winner during the Crash Course, but you don't have to be present to win -- we will contact the winner by June 11.

Sign up for the free webinar today!

Family Tree University | Webinars
Tuesday, 01 June 2010 17:15:58 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Happy 2nd Birthday to the Family Tree Magazine Podcast!
Posted by Diane

In celebration of the free Family Tree Magazine Podcast’s entry into its terrific twos, producer and host Lisa Louise Cooke is writing several guest posts on her favorite podcast memories. Here’s the first:

You know how toddlers are … they explore their surroundings, get their hands dirty, and chat with anyone and everyone. Now that our busy toddler the Family Tree Magazine Podcast is turning 2 years old, I thought it would be a great time to pull out the scrapbook and reminisce about the first two years.

It all started back in early 2008 when I met editor-in-chief Allison Stacy at a genealogy conference, and the podcast was just a twinkle in her eye. Over the next two years I’ve been a kid in a candy store exploring the world of genealogy with the folks at Family Tree Magazine.

Right out of the starting gate, it was clear the podcast offered the perfect opportunity to give the magazine’s authors a new voice—literally and figuratively. I loved David A. Fryxell’s article on genealogical freebies called “No Purchase Necessary” in the June 2006 issue. But it was even better to chat with him on the show and not only discover that he shares my passion for maps, but also learn that free website tools such as and The National Map were his favorites from the article.

Another big advantage to the podcast is that it has offered a unique opportunity to get to know library treasures around the United States. In Episode 5, Susan Kaufman, director of the genealogy library at the Clayton Library in Houston, makes a strong case for a strategy often missed by genealogists: scouting for records in libraries NOT in the area where your ancestor lived.

When I asked Susan to name one of her favorite collections (is that sort of like asking a mom to name her favorite child?!) she included the Cuban Papers. It turns out that the Cuban Papers' only connection to Cuba was the fact they were once archived there. The collection of 1,400 microfilm rolls covers early colonial records (1500 to 1700) pertaining to the development of the Gulf Coast area—and yet reaching surprisingly far beyond into states like Illinois! I imagine many podcast listeners found their field of research expanding after that episode.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be back to continue this trip down memory lane as we celebrate the Family Tree Magazine Podcast turning 2 years old!

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Tuesday, 01 June 2010 10:11:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]