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# Thursday, 30 September 2010
Celebrating Family History Month in October!
Posted by Diane

Tomorrow starts an exciting month around here—Family History Month! In 2001, Congress first passed a resolution, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who wrote, "By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family.”

Similar legislation has passed in several years since. To my knowledge, there wasn’t an official declaration  this year, but family history organizations continue to observe Family History Month in October.

We’ve already told you about our free, beginner-oriented 10 Steps to Discover Your Roots webinar (Oct. 16) and Discover Your Family Tree Family Tree University course (running for two weeks starting Oct. 11).

We’ve also got a couple more surprises up our sleeves—stay tuned right here!

Family History Month often brings great opportunities to improve your genealogy skills, find out about new resources and meet others who share your passion for the past! Check program schedules for your local library and genealogical society to see what’s going on near you.

Here are some of the genealogy classes and other special events we’ve heard about (listed by state; click the link for more information on the event).

If your group is holding a special Family History Month event, please click Comments at the end of this post to share the news. Be sure to include a link where people can learn more.

Genealogical Society of North Orange County Family History Month 2010 Events, Yorba Linda area

California Genealogical Society and Library events (download a flier using the link about halfway down this page), San Francisco

Oakland Regional Family History Center Family History Month classes (click “See flyer” link to download schedule), Oakland

2 Norman Park Senior Center, Chula Vista, Annual Seminar

9 California Family History Day, Sacramento

Southwest Germanic Genealogy Society Family History Month series, Fort Myers (Fridays in October)

Ela Area Public Library Family History Month events, Lake Zurich

Robert W. Lowe Public Library District Family History Month genealogy consultations (by appointment), Sheridan

23 Illinois State Genealogical Society Fall Conference, Peoria

Allen County Public Library Family History Month events (click to download PDF of calendar), Fort Wayne

23 Indiana State Library Genealogy and Local History Fair, Indianapolis

16 Family History Day 2010 with and NEHGS, Boston

Muskogee Public Library Family History Month events, Muskogee

Oklahoma History Center Family History Month activities (click on the “registration form” link), Oklahoma City

Go ahead and hold your own party, too. Give yourself a whole Saturday at the library or Family History Center, ask a relative your burning family history questions, bake Grandma's famous cookie recipe, jot down a family story, or tell your state representative how much you appreciate your public library's genealogy resources.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives
Thursday, 30 September 2010 11:26:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Finding Family in Historical Books Online
Posted by Diane

After learning a few years back that her Railey ancestor owned a farm in Logan County, Ky., our own Allison Stacy had a “why not?” moment and checked the HeritageQuest Online collection of digital books (accessible through many public libraries).

She was flabbergasted to learn that in the early 1900s, an unknown-to-her descendant, William Edward Railey, had written two books with information about the clan: History of Woodford County and Sketches of Randolphs and Their Connection. The second one traces the Railey line from Colonial Virginia to Allison’s grandmother’s older brother.

Our next Family Tree University webinar, Historical Books on the Web: Millions of Tomes at Your Fingertips, will show you how to find old books— family histories, genealogies, county histories, church histories and more—contianing research others have already done about your family.

The webinar is Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 Central/ 5 Mountain/ 4 Pacific). Presenter Nancy Hendrickson, a contributing editor to Family Tree Magazine, will show you:
  • What you can learn about your family in historical books
  • Where to find free books
  • How to search books on the Web
Can't find a book about your family? No luck locating a certain title online? Registrants will have the opportunity to submit family information, and Nancy will demonstrate search techniques using several submissions from webinar attendees.

Registered attendees also receive access to the webinar recording to view again, a PDF of the presentation slides for future reference, as well as bonus handouts.

Sign up now—the webinar is 20 percent off in until Oct. 13 at 11:59 pm.

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 16:14:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 28 September 2010
The Hand-in-Jacket Pose in Old Pictures
Posted by Diane

Flipping through our copy of Hallowed Ground magazine, I was struck by several photos of Civil War army officers posed like this unidentified soldier:

Civil War soldier
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

I’ve seen photos like this before, and I always thought that the men were imitating the painting of "Napoleon in his Study." The emperor, I’d heard, clutched his torso because of a stomach ulcer.

But it seems odd (at least to me) that when you have what would’ve been a rare opportunity to capture your likeness for posterity, you'd decide to undo a couple of coat buttons and stick your hand inside the opening.

When I looked into it, I learned that men who posed this way weren’t necessarily imitating Napoleon, and that he wasn’t sticking his hand in his coat because of an ulcer (though he did have one, according to

I found many explanations online, such as “he didn't trust anyone and liked to keep his hand on his wallet” and “painters at the time charged by the limb.” But experts on Napoleon Series site’s FAQ say that the hand-in-jacket pose was  “a common stance for men of breeding” and appears frequently in 18th-century portraiture. Even some ancient Greek and Roman statues have hands in togas.

Napoleon probably didn’t actually sit for the painting; an admirer commissioned that work and the artist painted it from memory.

After consulting historians about the hand-in-jacket pose, author David Feldman writes that certain gestures were indeed part of photographers’ standard poses. For example, you’ll often see two men posed shaking hands or with hands on each others’ shoulders, meant to convey a friendship or familial relationship. Holding a Bible and pointing off-camera are other standard poses.

The historians also suggest that putting a hand in a jacket, or on a table or other object, also might’ve been a way of keeping the hand still for long sitting times.

Here’s Gen. George B. McClellan and his staff:

Civil War Ge. George B. McClellan
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Civil War resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Civil War | Photos | Social History
Tuesday, 28 September 2010 15:34:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 27 September 2010
Attention: Genealogy Beginners! Get Started With Our Free Webinar
Posted by Diane

Know someone who's kind of interested in genealogy but hasn't really been bitten by the bug yet?

In honor of Family History Month in October, we're offering a free webinar called 10 Steps to Discover Your Roots: How to Get Started in Genealogy. It’ll take place on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time (1 p.m. Central, noon Mountain, 11 a.m. Pacific).

Click here to register.

To share the fun of genealogy during Family History Month, we’re inviting genealogical societies and libraries to broadcast this live webinar to their members and patrons. If your organization is interested in receiving an event kit with instructions and publicity materials for hosting your own "viewing party," please click here to e-mail us.

Note that this free 10 Steps to Discover Your Roots webinar isn’t to be confused with our also-free, two-week Family Tree University course Discover Your Family Tree, starting the week of Oct. 11. Sign up for both if you want!

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Webinars
Monday, 27 September 2010 10:21:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 24 September 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Sept. 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • The California Family History Expo is coming up Oct. 8-9 in Pleasanton, Calif. The exhibit hall is free, but you must register ($65 in advance; $75 at the door) to attend classes. Here’s a neat option for those who can’t go to the whole conference: If you’d like to attend just a few classes, you can do so for $12 per class. Register on the Family History Expos website
  • The FamilySearch Beta site has added nearly 2 million new digital images of historical records this week from the Dominican Republic, Italy, Jamaica, Spain, and the United States.
Note that not all of the new records are indexed yet, which means that they’re not included in the search, so you may need to browse. Use the filters on the left side of the Collection List page to navigate to the country, then possibly the type of record and/or province, then select the record set you want to browse.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Friday, 24 September 2010 13:10:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 23 September 2010
More on's Acquisition of Footnote
Posted by Diane

Does it feel like’s been on a shopping spree, with this year’s acquisitions of Swedish records site Genline, research firm ProGenealogistsand now iArchives, parent company of historical records subscription service Footnote?

iArchives started in 1994 and provides document digitization services to libraries, universities, archives and newspapers across the country. Footnote launched in January 2007 as a way to bring that content to home users.

We suspect that even more than the Footnote website, values the relationships and contracts that iArchives has already established with record-holding institutions. That would make it easier for to negotiate content digitization agreements.

We love that when it launched, Footnote provided something different for genealogists at a time when online genealogical innovation seemed to have stalled. Footnote’s search interface, records viewer, social networking options and emphasis on history in addition to genealogy still distinguish it from other genealogy database sites.

We just hope Footnote doesn’t turn into another, a site purchased in 2003 and still maintains, but has allowed to languish while it pours resources into the stronger site. We’re also curious how this acquisition will affect another competitor,, which offers Footnote’s census indexes to its subscribers.

The genealogy of the genealogy industry does seem to always lead to Rather than a long explanation, here's a quick sketch of the acquisitions and major content partnerships I could think of ( has formed content partnerships with many organizations; I listed only two). | Footnote | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, 23 September 2010 11:56:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
Introducing Family Tree University Independent Study
Posted by Diane

I wanted to let you know about a new way to take Family Tree University courses that’s now available at

Family Tree University Independent Study Courses let you access all the course study materials—syllabus, lessons, exercises and Reading Assignment articles from Family Tree Magazine—on a CD or as a PDF download to go through at your own pace.

Available Independent Study Courses include:
All the courses were developed by genealogy experts (meet the instructors here) and include examples of genealogy records; step-by-step demos; links to related online content such as articles, videos and tutorials—everything you need to improve your research skills and develop an in-depth understanding of the topic.

So what’s the difference between Independent Study and regular Family Tree University courses? Independent Study offers the expertise for you to use now or weeks from now, as fast or slow as you’d like. Regular Family Tree University courses cover the same topics with a bit more structure, with a set four-week session and interaction with an instructor.

See all the Family Tree University Independent Study Courses here. The PDF downloads are available now; the CDs are available for pre-order with an estimated ship date of Sept. 30.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree University
Thursday, 23 September 2010 10:29:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1] to Acquire iArchives and
Posted by Diane announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc., and its subscription genealogy website

The purchase price will be about $27 million in a mix of stock, cash and assumption of liabilities. The transaction, which will make iArchives a wholly owned subsidiary of, is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010. As part of the transaction, expects to issue approximately a million shares of common stock.

“This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies,” states’s announcement.

Here’s the full announcement on’s iArchives acquisition.

Update: See our additional commentary on the acquisition here. | Footnote | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, 23 September 2010 08:41:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Register Now for FREE FTU Class: Discover Your Family Tree
Posted by Diane

When you’re a family history newbie, the prospect of diving into your roots research can seem overwhelming.

We’ll help you get started with our free, two-week Family Tree University course called Discover Your Family Tree: Genealogy for the Absolute Beginner.

This course, which begins Monday, Oct. 11, will start you on the fun and rewarding journey of discovering your roots. You’ll learn how to begin, where to look for information to extend your family tree, what to do with what you find and how to put it all together. Family Tree Magazine publisher and editorial director Allison Stacy is the instructor.

Family Tree University courses are self-paced. You download each lesson (two for this course; four for most others) and any accompanying articles and go through it at your computer, or you can print the materials. Each lesson concludes with a quiz or exercise. You’ll receive feedback from your instructor via e-mail, and you can communicate with the instructor and your fellow students on a message board.

Registration is open now at for the free, two-week class Discover Your Family Tree: Genealogy for the Absolute Beginner.

The next session of Family Tree University how-to genealogy courses begins Oct. 11. You can see all the offerings on

Family Tree Firsts | Family Tree University | Research Tips
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 13:41:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 21 September 2010
NY Historical Society Slavery Collection Goes Online
Posted by Diane

On the New York History blog today, I saw that the New York Historical Society has digitized nearly 12,000 pages of materials documenting US slavery, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement.

NY Historical Society Slavery Collection

The diaries, account books, letter books, ships’ logs, indentures, bills of sale, personal papers and institutional records date form the 18th and 19th centuries, and come from 14 collections. Among them are records of the New York Manumission Society and African Free School, papers of the Boston anti-slavery activist Lysander Spooner, records of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, and an account book of the slave trading firm Bolton, Dickens & Co.

The materials aren’t searchable by name, but you can browse them on the society’s website. Use the Quick navigation pull-down menu to choose a collection, then a record image viewer will open in a new window.

African-American roots | Genealogy societies
Tuesday, 21 September 2010 14:36:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 20 September 2010
Exploring German Roots
Posted by Diane

Here in Family Tree Magazine’s hometown of Cincinnati, where the population in 1900 was 60 percent German-Americans and a downtown neighborhood is called Over the Rhine, Oktoberfest is a pretty big deal.

The oldest and biggest Oktoberfest, of course, starts in late September in Munich, Germany—which is celebrating its 200th Oktoberfest this year.

Oct. 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen held a grand horse race in Munich to celebrate their wedding five days earlier. The successful event was held again the next year and the next, and Germans—who continue to claim the largest ancestor group in US censuses—brought the celebration to the United States.

Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest includes the Chicken Dance and plenty of goetta, aka “Cincinnati Caviar.” Supposedly, ours is the largest celebration in the United States. Other Oktoberfests take place across the country in towns such as  La Crosse, Wis.; Fredericksburg, Texas; and Tulsa, Okla.

Here’s our article about how a fellow Cincinnati genealogist unpuzzled surname variations to discover his German roots.

Our German Heritage Toolkit has helpful articles for you to explore your own German roots, including
... and more. For extra assistance, you can download our research guide to German ancestors, available from or look into our Find Your German Roots Family Tree University course

Family Tree Magazine Plus members with German roots can check out our online research guides to Prussian and Bavarian ancestors, and to Germanic ancestors who lived outside of German borders.

German roots | International Genealogy | Research Tips
Monday, 20 September 2010 14:54:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 17 September 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Sept. 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • recently added 5 million new indexed names and images to its free databases. These 48 new and updated collections come from 19 different countries, including the first records from Nicaragua and Sri Lanka. Also included are church and civil registration record from Brazil; baptism, marriage and death records from Canada; Swedish church records; vital, tax and other records from the United States; and more. You can search the records at FamilySearch beta.
  • I came across a website called Tools of History, a collaborative digitization project for historical manuscripts, photographs, maps, drawings, books and artifacts from south central New York State. Among the collection sare photos of the Daughters of Charity at Lourdes Hospital, Atlases of Chemung County and something intriguing called the “murder pamphlet collection” (looks to be old books, letters, sermons and other accounts of cases in the area). Definitely a site worth exploring if you have ancestors there.
  • has introduced a new feature called Suggested Records that, well, suggests records for you to check. The suggested records list is being tested on results pages in the 1900 census and the WWI draft registration collections.
If the record you’re viewing has been saved to any member family trees, the list will suggest other records have been saved to the same nodes on those member trees. Randy Seaver takes a close look at Suggested Records on his Genea-Musings blog. | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 17 September 2010 15:52:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Happy Constitution Day!
Posted by Diane

Today is Constitution Day, the 223rd anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution Sept. 17, 1787. (It wasn't ratified by the necessary nine states until 1788.)

Ours is the oldest and shortest written constitution among major governments. More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced; 33 have gone to states for ratification and 27 have actually become part of the Constitution. The first 10 of those are the Bill of Rights, added in 1791.

The law establishing Constitution Day was passed in 2004 (before that, today was known as Citizenship Day). Here are some links for more information:
  • The National Constitution Center’s Constitution Day website (you can see which Founding Father you’re most like and take a US citizenship quiz)
Find out more about the Revolutionary era in The Everything American Revolution Book by Daniel P. Murphy, Ph.D., available from

Social History
Friday, 17 September 2010 11:18:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 16 September 2010
Please Stand By ...
Posted by Diane

You might've noticed that this blog's links to pages and haven't been working for the past few hours. Those sites are down, but rest assured my colleagues a floor below me are working hard to get them back online.

For those who subscribe to our free, weekly e-mail newsletter, which contains links into the above sites, we're planning to hold it until tomorrow so we can make sure the sites are working properly.

We apologize, and thank you very much for your patience.

Update: It looks like we're A-OK again, and the newsletter has gone out. Thanks again for bearing with us!

Thursday, 16 September 2010 17:05:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
International Genealogy Passport Helps You Trace Ancestors Around the World
Posted by Diane

One of the newest additions to is our CD International Genealogy Passport: Your Ticket to Tracing Your Roots in the Old Country.

This is an update to the International Genealogy Passport we published in early 2007 (our very first CD). That one was popular, so we thought it was time for a brand-new version with updated listings of websites, books and archives for countries around the globe, plus some other enhancements.

Distance, language, hard-to-access records and travel costs can make it challenging to do genealogy research in your ancestral homeland, so the new International Genealogy Passport gives you a head start with:
  • country-by-country genealogy resources for Canada, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean
  • best websites for learning about history, culture, records and genealogical research (just click each URL to visit the site)
  • bibliographies of how-to books and published indexes to relevant records for each place. Book titles link to free online versions when available
  • addresses, phone numbers and websites of important repositories
  • expert tips for contacting overseas repositories
  • our guide to tracing your ancestors to the old country—without having to book a plane ticket
  • maps of 53 countries show you major administrative divisions, capitals and large cities
The new International Genealogy Passport CD is available now for pre-order for $14.99 at (it qualifies for our free standard shipping on US orders over $25).

If you’re a Family Tree Magazine VIP member, remember to log in to the store to get your 10 percent discount.

Editor's Pick | International Genealogy | Research Tips
Thursday, 16 September 2010 10:08:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Tips Galore in Our Latest Free Podcast
Posted by Diane

The September 2010 edition of the free Family Tree Magazine podcast, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems, is now available. You can listen in on chats abut family history resources and tips including
  • Space-saving ideas for your genealogy stuff, from Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Rick Crume
  • Grace Dobush talks about new scanners that are small enough to take along on your next research trip
Get the show notes (which list products and websites mentioned in the episode) on You can listen there, too.
Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites | Podcasts | Research Tips
Thursday, 16 September 2010 09:16:11 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 15 September 2010
FamilyLink to Offer Maps From Historic Map Works
Posted by Diane

In a new partnership, genealogy social networking company FamilyLink, (owners of the World Vital Records subscription site and the FamilyLink Facebook app, among others) will soon provide FamilyLink members with access to the historical maps collection of Historic Map Works.

Based in Maine, Historic Map Works has 1,510,883 online map images. You can search and view maps on the site, but you need credits or a subscription to access advanced features. (Some libraries also offer an institutional version of the site.)

According to FamilyLink's press release, the site will add more than 1.3 million maps and 1 million names from Historic Map Works. FamilyLink users will be able to find homes and properties of ancestors, and to overlay old maps on top of current ones to see exactly where their ancestors lived.

I’m not sure whether the maps will be accessible to FamilyLink’s basic (free) members, or whether they’ll be accessible to members of Family Link Plus, a new subscription membership that provides access to genealogy records. I'll let you know what I find out. Update: Gena Philbert Ortega, FamilyLink's Genealogy Community Director, confirms that the maps will be available to FamilyLink Plus members.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Social Networking
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 15:43:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Genealogy Tips for Hispanic Heritage Month
Posted by Diane

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on Sept. 15, the anniversary of the 1821 declaration of independence for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

September also is marks the independence days of Mexico (16th), Chile (18th) and Belize (21st).

President Lyndon Johnson approved Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan expanded the observation to cover a 30-day period ending Oct. 15.

The month celebrates the long and important presence of people of Hispanic descent in North America. The Spanish fortress of St. Augustine, Fla., founded in 1565, is the first continuously inhabited European settlement in North America. The Spanish explored the US Southwest in the 16th century and founded Santa Fe, NM, in 1610.

The website Our American History/La Historia de Nuestra América relates the part the Spanish and Hispanic Americans played in the American Revolution—a role I have to admit I’ve never learned much about.

You can research Hispanic roots with help from our Hispanic Heritage Toolkit, which has articles including
...and more.

In, you can snap up our digital research guides to Mexican roots and Spanish and Portuguese roots.

If it’s language tips you need (maybe for reading records or visiting your ancestral homeland), try our Everything Guides to learning Spanish and learning Brazilian Portuguese.

Hispanic Roots | International Genealogy
Tuesday, 14 September 2010 14:15:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 13 September 2010
Free Genealogy Backup Service Launches Today
Posted by Diane

BackUpMyTree, a free online backup service for your genealogy files, launched today.

After you install BackupMyTree software, created by the team behind Pearl Street Software and its Family Tree Legends genealogy program (purchased by MyHeritage in 2007), the software will automatically find family tree files on your computer. It creates a remote, off-site backup you can restore if necessary, and maintains multiple previous versions of your files.

You also can opt to manually upload files through your browser, rather than install the BackupMyTree software.

The service is free. “In the future, we will offer a Pro version of our service for a small yearly fee,” says creator Cliff Shaw. “This version will offer more features, but we will always keep the free version the way it is.”

In addition, there’s no limit on the file size you can store—yet. “If we impose some sort of limit in the future, it will be a very high limit, and we will let all our users know,” Shaw says.

Note that photos and other media included in your tree aren’t yet backed up. According to the site’s FAQ: “We plan on adding this in the near future. Family Tree Maker [genealogy software] often stores photos inside the file, so these photos are backed up as a function of being included in the file.”

BackupMyTree software works on Windows systems. The service supports the genealogy applications Family Tree Maker, Personal Ancestral File, RootsMagic 4, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Legends, Family Tree Builder, and GenoPro.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice
Monday, 13 September 2010 11:31:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, 10 September 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Sept. 6-10
Posted by Diane

  • Today (Sept. 10) marks the 20th anniversary of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum opening in 1990. More than 35 million people have visited the museum, which highlights the immigrant experience and the growth of America during the peak immigration years of 1880 to 1924. You can read more about the museum on the Ellis Island website.
For help searching online for your Ellis Island ancestors, download our Ellis Island Web Guide from or use the book The Family Tree Guide to Finding Your Ellis Island Ancestors (on sale for $12.99).
  • Pay-per-view genealogy website was officially relaunched with a new look and and new search features, including search results plotted on maps, to make it easier for you to find ancestors. The site offers records dating to the beginning of civil registration in Scotland in 1855, as well as parish records dating back as far as 1538.
  • FamilySearch’s army of volunteer indexers have started work on the 1930 census, currently the most recent US census available to researchers. As with several other FamilySearch census indexes, volunteers will start with indexes and create a second comparison index from scratch, then arbitrate discrepancies to reduce errors. FamilySearch also will extract additional fields of census data for improved searchability. You can read more about this project on the FamilySearch blog.

census records | FamilySearch | immigration records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 10 September 2010 10:03:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 09 September 2010
Course Preview: Trace Your Polish Roots
Posted by Grace

If you're among the more than 9 million Americans with Polish roots, Trace Your Polish Roots: Strategies for Searching in the US and Poland will help you find your Polish ancestors by debunking myths, explaining history and pointing you to the most useful records. Ceil Wendt Jensen teaches the class, which includes helpful information like this:
The first step to finding your Polish ancestors starts here in the United States. The core records to look for are the US census and naturalization papers. The census will pinpoint the date of arrival in the US for the family members and state if the males had alien status or were naturalized. It will also offer the key to finding the region the family hailed from: German Poland, Russian Poland or Austrian Poland. Poland was not on the map for 123 years, so ethnic Poles carried papers stating they were subjects of the governing countries.
Sign up here! The next session starts Monday, Sept. 13.

Family Tree University
Thursday, 09 September 2010 17:43:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
What's in The Family Tree Sourcebook?
Posted by Diane

I’m a little biased this week in choosing the book that was my baby for most of the spring and early summer.

The Family Tree Sourcebook, now available for pre-order (and on sale at 34 percent off), is a reference book with all the information you need to trace your roots across the United States:
  • A summary of genealogy research in every state, with a historical overview, vital records information, tips on other major records to look for and places to begin, and maps showing county boundaries.
  • Detailed county-level data telling you which county office to contact for court, probate, vital, and other types of records. Here’s an example:

  • Names, addresses, phone numbers and websites for helpful libraries, archives, and genealogical and historical societies in each state.
  • Bibliographies listing genealogical and historical books that will help you further your research in each state.

  • Special sections on the best websites for state-based research, as well as broader-scope, national resources.
The book comes with a free 30-day trial of Family Tree Magazine Plus, our members-only, online archive of expert genealogy articles from past issues of Family Tree Magazine. (The book’s content also is searchable online as part of a Plus membership.)

You can pre-order The Family Tree Sourcebook now (and get the sale price) at

Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Sales
Thursday, 09 September 2010 10:35:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 08 September 2010
Major Updates to FamilySearch Beta Site
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has announced a major upgrade of its FamilySearch Beta site. Its usefulness has already outpaced FamilySearch's familiar Pilot Record Search site. New features, including the following, make the beta site easier to use and nudge it closer to replacing
  • A new web address at  (though still works).

  • New records, including all those found at the Pilot Record Search site and more, for 450-plus collections.

  • Alphabetized browsing (click All Collections on the FamilySearch Beta home page to access it) so you can quickly find the collections you’re looking for. In most cases, the collection title begins with the name of the state or country where the records were created.

  • If you’re interested in only collections with record images, you can click All Collections, then check a box at the bottom left to see only titles of collection with images.

  • You can type apostrophes into the search fields to find names such as O’Hara.

  • You can filter your search results by collection category. 

  • When viewing a record, you can click to see the previous or next record image in the collection.

  • Census results now list all household members with their genders and ages.

  • If you’re searching Trees (a link on the FamilySearch Beta home page), where the information from FamilySearch’s Ancestral File is, you can find people by event year—that is, the year of birth, death or marriage.
  • For easier navigation and viewing of the site, you’ll find new labels in the header and footer, enhanced color contrast, and visited links that change colors once you’ve already clicked them.

Wednesday, 08 September 2010 11:31:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
Just Discovered: Rare Color Footage of London Blitz
Posted by Diane

Britain marked the 70th anniversary yesterday of the Sept. 7, 1940, start of the Blitz—Nazi Germany’s WWII bombing campaign that lasted until May 10, 1941. It began with 76 consecutive nights of bombing in London and hit many towns and cities across England, eventually killing more than 43,000 civilians.

Color footage of London during the Blitz was recently discovered in the attic of a London home. Alfred Coucher, the wartime mayor of Marylebone in west London and the local chief air raid warden, shot the footage. You can read more about the Blitz footage and see it on

Read correspondent Ernie Pyle's description of nightime raid on London here.

Also check out the West End at War website, which is adding the film, historical information, eyewitness accounts and more to document the impact of the Blitz on the London borough of Westminster.  

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Military records | Social History | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 10:36:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 03 September 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Aug. 30-Sept. 3
Posted by Diane

  • Wondering whom to thank for your Monday off work? Historians disagree on who should get credit for Labor Day. Most think it’s either Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, a machinist, secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, NJ, and secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Read more Labor Day history on the US Department of Labor website.
  • The National Archives in Kansas City has opened to the public 300,000 Alien Case Files (A-Files) for individuals born in 1909 and earlier. This is part of the group of immigration records transferred last year from the US Citizenship and Immigration services to the National Archives. The files themselves date from 1944 and later, but the records remain closed until 100 years after the birthdate of the subject of the file.
The files aren’t online; you can search NARA’s Archival Research Catalog for your ancestor’s name to see if there’s a file on your ancestor (after clicking a name in the search results, click Scope and Content for a few more details about the subject of the record). You can access the records in person or order copies from NARA.
Just choose an alphabetical range and you’ll be linked to an index page listing the vital events within that range. You can use your web browser’s Find function to look for a name. Once you’ve found the name, publication and date, click the Quick Links to Newspapers link to find the image of the page with the information you need.

immigration records | NARA | Social History | Vital Records
Friday, 03 September 2010 13:59:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 02 September 2010
Crash Course in Pennsylvania Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Awhile ago, we asked Facebook fans which state they’d most want to see a webinar about. Among the many states mentioned, Pennsylvania was the winner.

Philadelphia was the No. 1 port of entry for immigrants during the Colonial era and has remained a financial and cultural center, meaning many of you have ancestors who lived in Pennsylvania.

Ask and ye shall receive! You’ll learn resources and research strategies for tracing them in our next webinar, Pennsylvania Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Keystone State Ancestors.

“Many people have what I call the ‘1850 census birthplace problem,’” says presenter James M. Beidler.

“That is, they have an ancestor in a state such as Ohio, Illinois or California, and the 1850 US census shows Pennsylvania as the birthplace—but nothing else ties the ancestor to a particular part of Pennsylvania. We’ll discuss some ideas on how to break through this brick wall.”

In the webinar, you’ll also learn:
  • Aspects of Pennsylvania history that are essential to doing genealogical research there
  • Details on vital records, immigration resources and other records in the state
  • Ethnic groups that tended to settle in Pennsylvania and the records they may have left behind
  • The best websites for doing Pennsylvania research, such as the steadily expanding website of the Pennsylvania State Archives.
Beidler, himself a Pennsylvania resident, is a frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine and an expert on research in the state.

The hour-long Pennsylvania Crash Course webinar is Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. Eastern (that’s 6 p.m. Central/ 5 p.m. Mountain/ 4 p.m. Pacific).

Sign up for the webinar now to save 20 percent on your registration!

Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, 02 September 2010 09:21:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Research Immigration Records Free Through Labor Day
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site is making its entire US Immigration Collection searchable free through Labor Day, Sept. 6. (You’ll need to register for a free account to access full search results.)

The freebie celebrates the site’s release of more than 1,700 recorded oral histories from immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island. Starting in the 1970s, the National Park Service recorded of immigrants recalling the lives they left behind, why they left and the journey to America. Before now, the stories were available only to Ellis Island Immigration Museum visitors. The Ellis Island Oral History Collection will remain permanently free on

Also part of the immigration collection are nearly 2 million new US naturalization record indexes dating from 1791 to 1992, part of's World Archives Project. The indexes cover the states of Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington.

And the Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943, database has been enhanced with nearly 2 million records documenting crew members on ships who arrived in Boston.

Of course,'s Immigration Collection also has virtually every available passenger list for US ports, as well as the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, a good resource for tracing early immigrants.

Get tips for beating brick walls in your immigrant ancestor research on

For help searching, use Family Tree Magazine’s Web Guide, available on our Web Guides CD from

Update:, the Canadian sister site to, also is offering its immigration records free through Sept. 6. Here, you'll find Canadian passenger lists and border-crossing records, among other resources. | Free Databases | immigration records
Thursday, 02 September 2010 09:01:29 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]