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# Friday, October 29, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Oct. 25-29
Posted by Diane

  • British genealogy subscription site FindMyPast.co.uk has released a collection of records from the Second Anglo-Boer War including details on 260,000 British service members and 59,000 war casualties. The database compiles information from more than 330 sources, and resolves errors and conflicting information in some of those sources. The war was fought from 1899 to 1902 between the British Empire and the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State.
  • The Troy (NY) Irish Genealogical Society has posted the records of Italian midwife Alesandra Matera, who practiced in the Troy area during the early 1900s. The transcribed records span 1909 to 1923 and document mostly Italian births, with some Syrians in later years. You can download the transcriptions as PDFs ordered by the father’s, mother’s or child’s last name (the transcriptions themselves are in chronological order, but you can use the Bookmarks bar in your PDF viewer to see the names in alphabetical order). Originals are in the archives of the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

FamilySearch | Historic preservation | NARA | UK and Irish roots
Friday, October 29, 2010 9:48:40 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 28, 2010
French Records Free This Weekend at Ancestry.ca
Posted by Diane

Subscription site Ancestry.ca, the Canadian sister site to Ancestry.com, is celebrating All Saints Day by making many of its historic records from France—roughly 50 million names—free to search from this Saturday, Oct. 30, to Nov. 1. 

This weekend's free Ancestry.ca records include:

  • Paris, France records, featuring more than 200 years of birth, marriage and death records
  • Marne, and Saone-et-Loire, France, birth, marriage and death collections, which feature vital records spanning nearly 400 years 
  • Upper Brittany, France, records collection, including rare immigration and military records, as well as vital records dating back to the early 1500s
  • Marseilles, France Marriages, 1810-1915, with nearly half a million records

You can see the French records collection and access the free databases (starting Saturday, Oct. 30) at <ancestry.ca/toussaint>. (You’ll need to set up a free registration with the site to view your search results.)

All Saints Day, Nov. 1 in Western Christianity, is a celebration of all the saints. It’s sometimes called All Hallows or Hallowmas. The night before, or “All Hallows Even,” is believed to provide the origin for the word Halloween.

You'll find a French-Canadian genealogy research guide in the June 2006 Family Tree Magazine, available as a digital download from ShopFamilyTree.com.


Ancestry.com | French Canadian roots | Vital Records
Thursday, October 28, 2010 4:57:02 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Putting the Ha! in Halloween
Posted by Diane


Put a little ha-ha in your Halloween with the funny tombstone photos in our book Grave Humor, by M.T. Coffin. To quote the FatallyYours.com book reviewer: “It’ll delight you with its witty jokes, quirky gothic illustrations and funny photos.” Aw, shucks.

This is my favorite stone—we found this unfortunately named lady in a local cemetery.

(See more funny tombstones from the book—and pictures other folks have submitted—at GraveHumorBook.com.) 

And I love our skull-people alter-egos (that's me, fourth from left):

You can get even more skull people in our 2011 Grave Humor Desk Calendar

Grave Humor is available from ShopFamilyTree.com. (Until October 31, you can use the code HISTORY10 to save 15 percent.)



Cemeteries | Editor's Pick | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 10:00:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Finding Genealogy Clues in Historical Books
Posted by Diane

Why are historical books important to your research? Because your family didn’t live in a vacuum, says Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Nancy Hendrickson.

I got a sneak peek today at her Historical Books on the Web webinar (taking place tomorrow, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. Eastern time). She says that clues you’ll find in books about the history of the places your ancestors lived include the big events that impacted their lives, what their everyday lives were like and, when you lose their trail, why or where they might've moved.

Some examples of local events you might learn about in historical books:
  • 1848 to 1849 cholera epidemic, which killed 4,000 in New York City
  • 1888 Children’s Blizzard in the Great Plains (so-called because many children were caught unaware in schoolhouses on what had been a relatively warm day)
  • 1869 Indian Raids in Kansas
  • Order No. 11 (a Union Army decree that forced the evacuation of rural areas in four western Missouri counties in 1863)
  • Great Fire of 1846 in Nantucket

You can get started looking for historical books about your ancestral locales by Googling history of [insert the town name], visiting county pages at USGenWeb, searching library catalogs (WorldCat is a good site for doing this) and searching for period books at sites such as Internet Archive and Making of America.

Nancy will get into detail about what you can find in historical books, and where and how to find them, in tomorrow’s webinar, Historical Books on the Web: Millions of Tomes at Your Fingertips. You can register to attend at ShopFamilyTree.com (you'll receive our new Discover Your Roots guide with your registration)—and use the code HISTORY10 for 15 percent off with our Family History Month storewide sale. 


ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Social History | Webinars
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 3:47:34 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Update on Family History Library and FamilySearch Centers
Posted by Diane

Before there was FamilySearch.org, there was the Family History Library and its network of FamilySearch Centers (as the library is starting to call its local Family History Centers). Patron Services director Don Anderson gave an update on the network during last week's Blogger's Day.

The Family History Library, located in Salt Lake City, started in 1894 with 11 donated volumes. Today it has the largest genealogy collection in the world, with 330,000 annual visitors and a staff of 700 employees and volunteers.

The library has begun surveying visitors to gauge their satisfaction with their visit. About 63 percent discover an ancestor they set out to find, and 86 percent would recommend visiting the library to a friend. The scores are better for patrons who have more genealogical experience and stay longer in the library—making the biggest area of opportunity, says Anderson, in helping new researchers.

You can borrow the library’s microfilm and microfiche by going to one of the 4,600 volunteer-run FamilySearch Centers around the country, which receive 6 million visits a year.

About 100 FamilySearch Centers are added every year, mostly in Latin America (few are being added in North America). Anderson says FamilySearch is working on a system that’ll let you go online—rather than visiting an FamilySearch Center to fill out a request form—to order microfilm for delivery to your FamilySearch Center (folks in Europe already can do this).

Because the centers are volunteer-run and have different kinds of facilities and resources, visitors will have varied experiences depending where they live. Anderson says he'd like to standardize the services offered in various types of FamilySearch Centers.

Also in the works is a plan to give FamilySearch Centers space on FamilySearch.org—perhaps the Research Wiki—to list hours, classes and what’s in their permanent collections.

Click here to learn more about visiting your local FamilySearch Center.

See my Blogger’s Day disclosure in this post.


FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 2:24:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, October 25, 2010
Inside FamilySearch's "Renovation Project"
Posted by Diane

One of the most interesting parts of the FamilySearch Blogger Day was a talk by Dan Lawyer, the guy in charge of what he termed the “big renovation project” that is the FamilySearch.org makeover.

“Genealogy is hard” is a conclusion his team reached after studying how genealogists were using FamilySearch. Which isn't news to family historians who've done some research, but Lawyer pointed out three factors that can make it difficult:

  • Life circumstances may not allow people the time or other resources needed to do genealogy.
  • Logistic and technical hurdles, such as getting online and knowing how to use a computer.
  • The way genealogy is often presented to a newcomer can make it appear not-so-engaging.

Do you agree with these findings? Click Comments at the end of this post to let us know.

So the goal for the renovated FamilySearch site—which FamilySearch Beta will become—are:

  • Make genealogy easier.

  • Make the site suitable for beginners and advanced researchers—so you don’t have to be a genealogist to use it, but even advanced researchers will find it useful.

  • Facilitate giving and getting research help on the site, as well as learning how to research.

Though researchers have been using the beta site for months (as of earlier this week, it had 35,000 visitors from 17 countries in October alone), it’s still being tweaked.

User input into the site is spurring improvements in features such as, to name some minor ones: the hard-to-find arrows that let you expand search results (see the tiny gray triangles on the right side of the screen shot below) and the loooooong Advanced search panel on the left side of the search results (it continues beyond this screen shot).

Within the next three to six months, Lawer says, updates will include adjusting search forms, adding browsing filters, boosting the quality of results, and adding how-to content. (Interestingly, but not surprising to me, was the finding that new genealogists don’t look around the site at that how-to content until after they’ve used the search function.)

The Pedigree Resource File from the current FamilySearch.org will be added to the beta site's Family Trees search, which already contains the Ancestral File.

The beta site will probably become the official FamilySearch site sometime between December and February, Lawyer said. “New” FamilySearch, the online tree-building software available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, likely won’t become part of the site for some time, as developers work out a way to handle conflicts among different users' trees for the same lines. 

See my Bloggers Day disclosure in this post.

Learn more about "classic" FamilySearch and other popular genealogy websites in our Web Guides digital downloads, available from ShopFamilyTree.com.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, October 25, 2010 12:29:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Sunday, October 24, 2010
FamilySearch Research Wiki
Posted by Diane

Another Diane—FamilySearch genealogical community services manager Diane Loosle—talked about the FamilySearch Research Wiki at last week's blogger day. The wiki is where where FamilySearch consultants and other genealogists have contributed articles about genealogy research topics and related Family History Library holdings (a wiki is a site to which anyone can add or edit an article).

The wiki, available in Spanish and Swedish in addition to English, has had 5.5 million page views and 1.25 million unique visitors since its launch in 2008.

Loosle talked about a few special projects, including:

  • Tennessee genealogists beefed up the Tennessee pages before the summer’s Federation of Genealogical Conference in Knoxville 

See more projects here

You can use the wiki by typing a search term—such as a place you’re researching, a war your ancestor fought in, or a type of genealogical record—into the search box on the home page. You also can use the Browse by Country link to find articles about your ancestral homeland; many articles link to related records on the FamilySearch Beta site or listings in the Family History Library Catalog.

For help getting started, click the Tour link on the wiki home page.

(See my blogger's day disclosure in this post.)


FamilySearch
Sunday, October 24, 2010 4:30:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, October 22, 2010
Inside FamilySearch Online Records
Posted by Diane

You’ve probably used the record search on FamilySearch Beta, the site where Familysearch is putting digitized records and volunteer-created indexes to those records. At the FamilySearch blogger’s day yesterday, I got a look inside this process.

In 1998, FamilySearch started digitizing the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm and 1 million microfiche in its Granite Mountain vault (where film and fiche masters are preserved). More than a third of those records have been digitized.

Of the records in the vault, 1.1 percent have been published as online images at the FamilySearch beta site. Beta site indexes cover 2.6 percent of the records in the vault. 

Why the gap between the number of records FamilySearch has and the number published online? Copyright.

FamilySearch doesn’t own the vast majority of all those records, but has negotiated agreements with each record-holding repository to microfilm and provide access to the records through the Family History Library. Once technology opened up the possibility of online access, FamilySearch began renegotiating with all those repositories for digital rights.

The initiative to index the digitized records began in 2006. So far, more than 375,000 volunteers have indexed 300 million names.

Depending on the agreement FamilySearch can negotiate, you may get free online access to both the record images and indexes, to just the indexes with links to the original repository to see the record (sometimes for a fee), or to just the images. If you need the records that fall into one of the latter groups, see if you can get broader access by using the computers at a Family History Center.

Besides the vault, other sources of records include genealogical societies and archives who can provide both access to the records and volunteers to index them, as well as agreements with commercial entities such as Footnote.com and FindMyPast.co.uk.

The indexing goal for 2010 is 200 million names, with 148 million indexed so far. (Last year, 139 million names were indexed.) One of the biggest challenges is a need for more indexers who read non-English languages.

To provide records access as quickly as possibly, FamilySearch often will add record images to the beta site, even if the index isn’t completed. You can browse those record images by date and place.

You can learn more about being a volunteer indexer and see what projects are underway at the FamilySearch Indexing site.

(See my blogger's day disclosure in this post.)


FamilySearch | Free Databases
Friday, October 22, 2010 9:52:58 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 21, 2010
FamilySearch Bloggers' Day
Posted by Diane

You might’ve read on the blogosphere that FamilySearch is hosting a bloggers’ day at its Salt Lake City headquarters, with about a dozen genealogy bloggers in attendance and one on the phone (you can see their tweets on Twitter with hashtag #FSBlogDay).

Most of what was covered was context: a look at the changes in FamilySearch products and services over the last few years, and what direction future developments might take. Over the next few days, I’ll share what I’ve learned that'll be especially helpful to you.

Sometimes it’s helpful to have an overview. You might be using parts of the FamilySearch website in your research right now, but not know that other parts exist. Eventually, all the parts will be integrated into one site where it’s easier to move from one to another, but for now, here are the parts and where to find them:

  • “Classic” FamilySearch: This familiar site has Ancestor File, the International Genealogical Index and other pedigree databases, the Social Security Death Index, the Family History Library Catalog, research outlines, and more.
  • FamilySearch Record Search Pilot Site: For a few years, this is where Familysearch was publishing its digitized records and volunteer-created searchable indexes. The site is still there and will remain for awhile, but new records are no longer being added. Instead, those new digitized records are being added to …
  • FamilySearch Beta: This is where new FamilySearch features are being incorporated, and it’ll be the main FamilySearch site in the future. Right now, it has all of FamilySearch’s digitized records and the volunteer-created searchable indexes, searchable family trees, plus links to FamilySearch online classes, the Research Wiki (with articles you can search for genealogy advice), a new version of the Family History Library Catalog, a Family History Center search and a FamilySearch news blog.
  • Forums: I just learned about this resource--post your research questions here, and genealogists (including Family History Library or Family History Center consultants) lend their expertise. No need to register if you don’t want to.
  • FamilySearch Indexing: FamilySearch has mobilized volunteers around the world to help index its digitized genealogy records. Here is where you can join the volunteer effort and see what projects are in the works.
  • “New” FamilySearch: This is a place (eventually to be called FamilySearch Family Trees) where users can post and collaborate on family trees. It’s currently available only to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as kinks are worked out. We got a look at some of the kinks, which include how to reconcile differences in trees for the same family.

Of course, FamilySearch also has the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the branch Family History Centers (also called FamilySearch Centers).

In the interest of full disclosure: FamilySearch covered travel expenses and meals for participants in the bloggers’ day. There were no agreements regarding whether or how any bloggers would cover the event.


FamilySearch
Thursday, October 21, 2010 11:25:08 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Ancestry.com-Footnote Deal Closes
Posted by Diane

I just wanted to point you to this blog post from Footnote about the official closure of Ancestry.com's purchase of Footnote's parent company, iArchives. From the post:
"You may be curious about how this deal affects members of Footnote.com? The plan is to continue to run Footnote.com the way we have always run Footnote.com—continuing to do what we believe is best for our brand, our customers, and our business."
That'll be reassuring to those concerned about the effects of the deal on Footnote. The post adds that "we are excited to leverage some of Ancestry.com’s resources and expertise to take Footnote.com to the next level."

You can read the full post on Footnote's blog.


Ancestry.com | Footnote | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, October 21, 2010 9:59:28 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Fun Facts From the December 2010 Family Tree Magazine
Posted by Diane


Here are a few of the things you’ll learn from the December 2010 Family Tree Magazine, just out on newsstands (it’s available from ShopFamilyTree.com both in print and as a digital download):


  • In the early 1900s, lamination—now an archival no-no—was a celebrated new tool at repositories nationwide. Thousands of historical documents were laminated, including the Emancipation Proclamation. Find out how archives are working with these documents in the December 2010 Genealogy Insider column. 
  • About 125,000 US troops, both Army regulars and new volunteers, served in the Philippine Insurrection from 1899 to 1902. The 1900 US census has information on military personnel stationed in the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

    Read more in our December 2010 guide to records from America’s lesser-known military conflicts. 
  • The Washington State Digital Archives holds more than 90 million records, with 28 million searchable online. Find more state genealogy resources in our guide to 75 of the best state sites for genealogy research (also online). 
  • The Irish National Museum has a firkin of butter buried in a peat bog (once a common storage practice) in the late-17th or eary-18th century. The grayish substance no longer resembles butter. Brush up on butter in the December 2010 History Matters column. 
  • To help kids learn about your family’s genealogy, you can get Hearth Song’s stick-on family tree wall mural to personalize with relatives’ names and photos. Get more kid-friendly genealogy ideas in the December 2010 article Legacy Lessons.
  • Some 250,000 Scots-Irish are thought to have arrived in the United States between 1717 and the American Revolution, with later waves in the 1740s, around 1754, and between 1771 and 1775. Many headed for central Pennsylvania, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and the Carolinas, eventually migrating into and across the Appalachians.
Learn how to trace these ancestors (also called Ulster Scots) in our December 2010 guide to Scots-Irish Roots.
  • Most PCs come with Window Movie Maker, which makes it easy to turn digital photos and videos into family movies. See a tutorial in the December 2010 Toolkit.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy for kids | Genealogy Web Sites | Historic preservation | Military records | Social History | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 12:15:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ancestry.com Launches Ancestry Labs, Person View
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com has launched a new section of its site called Ancestry Labs, a website similar to FamilySearch Labs and Google Labs, where Ancestry.com can test ideas and gather your feedback on them.

You can see a demo of how Ancestry Labs works here. Leave feedback by using the green Feedback tab on the left side of the Ancestry Labs site.

“The projects we place in this area are likely to be early prototypes, and although some of them may make their way into the main Ancestry.com site, some may not,” reads Ancestry.com’s announcement.

The first idea at Ancestry Labs, called “Person View,” includes two components: 

  • Web Records: This feature searches for your ancestor on the internet, shows you basic information (name, date and place) from web pages mentioning your ancestor, and links you to those pages. Sites searched include free databases such as the Western States Marriage Record Index. In a demo in August, project manager Brian Hansen said Ancestry.com is attempting to avoid duplication by not searching the same collections that are already included in Ancestry.com databases.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Ancestry.com offered a similar search in the maligned Internet Biographical Collection, which was pulled down shortly after its introduction in August 2007 amid copyright and other concerns. The difference is that the Internet Biographical Collection actually cached web pages’ content and displayed the results on Ancestry.com, so traffic wasn’t directed to the site and the content’s creator wasn’t credited. 

Ancestry.com is hoping to avoid the same mistakes with the new Web Records view. “In providing access to these, it’s very important to us that we are respectful to the publishers of these websites,” the announcements says. “We will always strive to follow web industry standards for website crawling permissions ... We will put in place processes to remove the content from our search if the website/content owner requests, with the goal of doing this as quickly as possible. We will clearly publish how to contact our team to do this.”

  • Person Consolidation: This way of viewing Ancestry.com search results groups matches by person, rather than just listing each result. The search algorithm decides whether records are for one person, and your results show a person’s name with links to categories of records—Ancestry Records, Family Trees (with no living people included) and Web Records—for that person. Click one of those links to see more links to view each record in that category. The search results also list a person’s family members, and you can click these names to see that family member’s records. 

Person View gives you just the first 10 matches to your search. The advantage is that it Person View simplifies your search results, but the algorithm can make mistakes by grouping together records for two different people, or displaying one person as two different people.

Here’s my first PersonView search for Henry Seeger:

And the first match, which consolidates content about Henry Seeger from 15 Ancestry.com family trees (no Ancestry Records or Web Records were found for this Henry). It lists people the search engine believes to be in Henry's family (I'd have to look at each tree and decide whether I think they're all really related to Henry). Clicking on a name, such as Henry’s son Charles, will perform a new search for that person.

Clicking on Henry’s name brings up a timeline of events from those trees, with a little map showing places mentioned in the trees: 

Links on the right bring up information about each tree and let you save the event to your tree:

If your matches contain Ancestry Records, the timeline will link to information from the record (a WWI Draft Registration card, in the case below, was the source for a February, 1873 birth date): 

Web Record matches bring up similar basic information, with a link to the site that has the record (you can't yet save Web Records to your Ancestry tree): 

Click Comments to let us know what you think of Ancestry Labs and Person View.


Ancestry.com
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 8:06:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Monday, October 18, 2010
Got Ancestors From Oakland County, Michigan?
Posted by Diane

The clerk’s office in Oakland County, Mich., has added an online genealogy search with an index of marriage and death records back to 1941. Older records will be gradually added.

Home to the city of Pontiac, Oakland County is just north of Detroit and considered part of the Detroit metro area.

You can search by name and the year of marriage or death if you know it. Marriage record matches give the couple’s names and marriage date; death record matches show the person’s name and date of death.

If you find an index entry for an ancestor, you can click to order a copy of the record ($15 for the first copy, $5 for additional copies, plus a $5 “enhanced access fee” for online orders).

If your ancestor married or died in Oakland County between 1935 and 1941, you can order records from the clerk’s office online even though they’re not yet in the index. If the marriage or death occurred before 1935, you must order records by mail or in person.

Oakland County also has birth records, but Michigan birth certificates created less than 100 years ago are restricted to all but the person named in the record and his or her parents. However, according to the state vital records office website, “an heir may request a copy of a birth record less than 100 years old if they can provide an out-of-state death certificate, or the death information if it was a Michigan death, with the request.” 


Free Databases | Vital Records
Monday, October 18, 2010 4:57:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, October 15, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Oct. 11-15
Posted by Diane

We’ve got a host of announcements in this week’s roundup:
  • BackupMyTree, the free genealogy file back-up service that debuted last month, has added support for Reunion for Mac. Although the BackupMyTree software still works with only Windows, users of any operating system can manually upload files—now including Reunion files—through their web browser. Next week, BackupMyTree will add support for The Master Genealogist software, as well as a feature that allows users to include and exclude files in bulk.
  • Genetic genealogy testing company GeneTree is offering two new services designed to help you maximize your genetic genealogy testing efforts. If you buy a DNA Makeover report ($14.95), GeneTree staff will translate your Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA results from another lab into a GeneTree profile. For the Family Tree Diagnostic Service (also $14.95), a GeneTree consultant will review your family tree to find relatives you should consider having tested and what tests they should take to help you achieve your research objectives.
  • Leland Meitzler, organizer of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour annual research trip to Salt Lake City, announced that genealogy technology and social networking expert Thomas MacEntee will present eight classes during this year’s tour. A few topics are Building a Research Toolbox, Facebook for Genealogists, Build a Genealogy Blog, and Twitter: It Isn’t Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Anymore. The tour takes place Dec. 5 through 11, and you can register here
  • The Pennsylvania State Archives will close from Monday, Oct. 18 through Feb. 3 of next year for renovations. The $250,000 project will expand and modernize the lobby and public research areas. (Plans are still in place, though, to eventually replace the facility, which has water leaks and lacks environmental controls and fire suppression system.) Staff will continue to respond to telephone, e-mail and postal inquiries during the closure. You can download the press release as a PDF from the archives’ website.

Ancestry.com | census records | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Genetic Genealogy | Libraries and Archives | Webinars
Friday, October 15, 2010 3:39:31 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 14, 2010
Discover Your Roots With Us!
Posted by Diane


Are you (or is someone you know) somewhere near the starting line of a genealogy journey? Especially for you, we’ve put together a 132-page getting-started “bookazine” guide called Discover Your Roots.



Articles cover everything you need to know when you begin your family history search:
  • filling out forms
  • calculating cousin relationships
  • myths to avoid
  • choosing genealogy software
  • using popular websites
  • researching at the library, courthouse and cemetery
  • using genetic genealogy
... and more. (You can see the whole list of articles at ShopFamilyTree.com.)

The guide also has a starter kit of 14 essential genealogy forms, plus a decorative, fold-out family tree you can fill in and frame. Even better, your purchase includes several money-saving bonuses:
  • a seven-day free membership to Family Tree Magazine Plus
  • a seven-day free trial to genealogy records site Archives.com
  • $25 off a Family Tree University course
  • 15 percent off a purchase at ShopFamilyTree.com
See page 1 of Discover Your Roots for details on redeeming these discounts.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Thursday, October 14, 2010 9:30:39 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 13, 2010
October 2010 Family Tree Magazine Podcast Just Posted
Posted by Diane

This just in: the October 2010 Family Tree Magazine podcast is now available for listening! Here’s what host Lisa Louise Cooke has in store for you in this episode:
  • Allison Stacy, Family Tree Magazine’s publisher and editorial director, fills you in on Family History Month events
  • Get started paring down your collection of papers with tips from online editor Grace Dobush on what to keep and what to toss.
  • Lisa and I talk about Ancestry.com's acquisition of iArchives, Footnote.com’s parent company, and some questions genealogists are asking.

You can listen to the Family Tree Magazine Podcast in iTunes and on FamilyTreeMagazine.com. You can get the show notes on our website, too.


Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Ancestry.com | Footnote | International Genealogy | Podcasts | Research Tips | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 1:41:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Talk on Good Morning America
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com’s Anastasia Tyler and The Journey Takers author Leslie Albrecht Huber appeared on "Good Morning America" today to talk about Ancestry.com’s most recent celebrity roots announcement: President Barack Obama is 10th cousins on his mother’s side with two of his biggest political critics, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.

As Huber says in the clip, if you can trace your roots to colonial New England, you’re likely related to all kinds of well-known people. Although most genealogists realize 10th cousins isn't a big deal (it means the most recent common ancestor is a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent), it’s fun to see genealogy make an appearance in the national media.

You can watch the video on the "Good Morning America" website.

Read the Ancestry.com announcement about the Obama-Palin and Obama-Limbaugh connections here.

Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 1:04:19 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Family Tree Magazine 2011 Desk Calendar Winners!
Posted by Diane

Thanks to everyone who entered our drawing for Family Tree Magazine’s 2011 desktop calendars, both here on the blog and on Facebook.

Congratulations to the winners! Here are their names and their genealogy to-do list items:

  • Marisa, proud soon-to-be owner of the 2011 Civil War Desk Calendar: My goal is to get old photographs scanned! I want to keep copies in their corresponding "people" folders and also add them online so far away family members can enjoy them.
  • Rebecca Morgan Kinnie, proud soon-to-be owner of the 2011 Grave Humor Desk Calendar: I want to determine if my great-great-grandfather actually died while fighting in the Civil War, or if he deserted. This would explain why he was named the father of my great-grandfather, who was born eight years after he supposedly died!

Peter, Marisa and Rebecca, please e-mail us your mailing address by next Tuesday, Oct. 19, so we can send your calendar.

If you’re not Peter, Marisa or Rebecca and you want your own calendar, you can use the discount code HISTORY10 to get 10 percent off the calendars at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Genealogy fun
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 12:04:57 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, October 11, 2010
NOAA Releases Free Civil War Map Collection
Posted by Diane

I was surprised to get an announcement about a new collection of Civil War maps, charts and documents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but it actually makes perfect sense:

Under the auspices of the NOAA is the Office of the Coast Survey, which president Thomas Jefferson established in 1807 to produce nautical charts that would provide for maritime safety, defense and the establishment of national boundaries. By the start of the Civil War, the Coast Survey was a leading scientific agency, charting coastlines and determining land elevations. It still surveys coasts and produces nautical charts today.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011, NOAA has gathered materials the Coast Survey prepared during the war years into a free, online collection called Charting a More Perfect Union.

The collection, which will help you visualize terrain, ports, and coasts as they were from 1861 to 1865, includes:
  • 394 maps and nautical charts used for naval campaigns, and troop movements and battles. You can search the maps by keyword(s), state or region, year or chart number. If you click Search without entering terms, you’ll get a list of all the documents in the collection (not in alphabetical or chronological order).
In your map search results, click to preview the map, such as this map of Atlanta, in the site’s image viewer:



Links in your list of search results let you open a high-resolution version of the map as a JPG or a MrSID (a kind of graphic file). A Cincinnati-area map I found opened very slowly as a jpg, but it enlarged to incredible detail. You can right click (on a PC) or control-click (on a Mac) and choose Save As to save the map to your computer.

Find more Civil War resources in our Civil War genealogy toolkit.

Research your Civil War ancestors with help from our guide, available in the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine digital edition.

Civil War | Free Databases | Military records
Monday, October 11, 2010 1:43:04 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, October 08, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Oct. 4-8
Posted by Diane

  • A friendly reader told us about another genealogy app for the iPhone called Traces, which searches the databases at the FamilySearch beta site. beta.familysearch.org. The reader (who’s not affiliated with the product other than using it) recommends it as “far and away the best iPhone app ... I've found to facilitate actual genealogy research and database searching.” See a list of iPhone/iTouch genealogy apps on the MobileGenealogy.com website.
  • The National Archives is holding a day-long symposium called The Civil War: Fresh Perspectives on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, at its Washington, DC headquarters. It’ll feature panel discussions related to themes from the archives’ special exhibit, Discovering the Civil War. Registration is required, along with a fee of $50. Click here to learn more and register.
  • UK family history subscription website Findmypast.co.uk and FamilySearch are beginning a project to digitize the Greater Manchester County Record Office’s cemetery registers and institutional records (from gaols, schools and workhouses), which date as far back as the 16th century. When the project is complete, you’ll be able to search indexes free at FamilySearch. The indexed information will link to the records at FindMyPast.co.uk, where you’ll be able to view the record images for a fee.
  • There’s more for those with UK roots: Old-maps.co.uk has added 60 more years of town plans and other maps to its collection, which now covers 1850 to 1996. In addition, new spy maps produced by the Russian military from 1950 to 1997 cover 16,000 sq km of the UK, including 103 major towns and cities. You can search and browse maps for free and purchase printed or downloadable PDF versions.


FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | NARA | UK and Irish roots | Vital Records
Friday, October 08, 2010 3:10:24 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, October 07, 2010
How to Win a 2011 Genealogy Desktop Calendar!
Posted by Diane

We’re so happy our three 2011 desktop calendars are available for pre-order at ShopFamilyTree.com, that we're giving away one of each. Those include ...

... the 2011 Genealogy Desktop Calendar, full of beautiful ancestor photos from Family Tree Magazine readers.

2011 genealogy desktop calendar

... the 2011 Civil War Desk Calendar, with historical photos of readers’ Civil War ancestors, as well as camp life and other scenes, plus facts from our forthcoming book Life in Civil War America.

2011 Civil War Desk Calendar

... the 2011 Grave Humor Desk Calendar, featuring the adorable skull people from the Grave Humor book illustrator Marc McChesney.

2011 Grave Humor Desk Calendar

So how can you win a calendar?? Just click Comments at the end of this post and add a comment answering this question:

What’s one thing on your genealogy to-do list for 2011?

At 10 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday morning, Oct. 12, we’ll draw three winners—one for each calendar—from the folks who comment. We’ll announce the winners’ names in a post on Tuesday, so you’ll need to visit the Genealogy Insider blog Tuesday to see if it’s you! 

PS: If you'd like info on how to Comment on Genealogy Insider blog posts, please click here.

Genealogy fun
Thursday, October 07, 2010 10:31:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [157]
New Records, Printable Trees on FamilySearch
Posted by Diane

This week, FamilySearch published its first digital Chinese collection, along with additional digital image collections from Belgium, Germany, Guatemala, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines and Puerto Rico.

Note that the indexes are still being created for these records, meaning you can’t yet search them by typing in a name. Instead, you view them as you would microfilm, by browsing the record images for the place and/or time period when you think your ancestor’s record was created.

You can view these records on the FamilySearch Beta site.

To find the database you want to browse, first scroll down and click the region under Browse by Location. For German collections, for example, click Europe.

Then you can use the Place filters on the left to home in on the place you need.



If you clicked the Germany filter, you’ll see seven German databases. The one with the “Browse images” link is the just-added database.



FamilySearch also added 20 million more records to the Civil War, Revolutionary War, and the 1851 England and Wales census collections. The Civil War collection lets you search an index, and links you to the subscription website Footnote to view the record. You’ll need a subscription to see it. The 1851 English and Welsh census collection employs a similar arrangement with subscription site FindMyPast.co.uk.

As a side note, if you click the Getting Started link from the FamilySearch Beta home page, you’ll see links to some pretty family trees you can download, then print and fill out.



Thursday, October 07, 2010 10:05:16 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, October 06, 2010
October's FTU Class Lineup
Posted by Grace

If Family History Month has you thinking about expanding your own genealogy knowledge, it's a great time to sign up for a Family Tree University course. The spooky October session begins Monday the 11th, and we've got three new courses for you—one of them is free! Read on for the whole course catalog.

NEW THIS MONTH: MORE CLASSES AVAILABLE IN OCTOBER:
Strategies: Ethnic ancestors: Records and sources: Sharing history:


Family Tree University
Wednesday, October 06, 2010 3:33:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Best State Websites for Genealogy
Posted by Diane

Location, location, location: That’s what it’s all about in genealogy, because finding out where your ancestors lived is key to locating the records they left behind.  

That’s why, for the December 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine (now mailing to subscribers), we put together a list of 75 of the best US state-focused websites for genealogical research.

As a Family History Month gift, we’ve posted all the state websites online for everyone to check out, free. You’ll find at least one website per state.

Take some time to explore the sites for the states where your ancestors lived—you might find digitized documents, indexes to records, historical articles, finding aids, catalogs of holdings and more. I’ve already mined the Ohio Historical Society website for its death certificates index and the catalog of resources available at the state archives; and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission site is where I learned how to get records of Texas state penitentiary inmates (and thus confirm a family story).

Get more how-to resources for state research, include our downloadable State Research Guides, at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 2:17:38 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Monday, October 04, 2010
Be Our Family Tree Firsts Blogger!
Posted by Diane

In another of our Family History Month happenings, Family Tree Magazine seeks a genealogy newbie to blog about exploring his or her roots.

We're looking for someone who enjoys writing and is interested in his or her family history, but is just starting—or hasn't yet started—to research it.

To enter, compose your first blog post and fill out our entry form.

Magazine editors will select a winner based on the strength of the application to be our Family Tree Firsts Blogger. Then, over six months, the blogger will have access to our how-to genealogy products, classes and webinars, and products, services and surprises from our partners. The blogger will blog twice a week to tell the world about his/her genealogical experiences and finds, and he/she will even appear in a future issue of Family Tree Magazine.

We’re super excited about seeing the world of genealogy through the eyes of a newbie! If you’re new to genealogy and you love to write, click here to apply. Or if you know someone who fits the bill, send him or her to this post. The deadline is Oct. 31.


Family Tree Firsts
Monday, October 04, 2010 1:35:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, October 01, 2010
Enter Our Ultimate Family History Giveaway Sweepstakes!
Posted by Diane

Yesterday, I mentioned a couple of Family History Month surprises up our sleeves. Here’s one: The Ultimate Family History Giveaway!

Enter once per day for a chance to win more than $2,000 worth of genealogy products! They includeThe sweepstakes ends at 11:59 PM Eastern time on Oct. 31, 2010. Click here to enter.



Friday, October 01, 2010 4:21:21 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Genealogy News Corral: Sept. 27-Oct. 1
Posted by Diane

  • The UK family history subscription and pay-per-view site Findmypast.co.uk has launched a collection of transcribed Devon parish records in association with the Devon Family History Society. The records include baptisms from 1813 to 1839, marriages from 1754 to 1837, and burials for 1813 to 1837.
  • Cheri Hunter of Decatur, Ill. will receive the Community Service Award
  • Fred Katko of Peoria, Ill., will receive the Special Recognition Award
  • Christian Bender a student from Oglesby, Ill., will receive the Youth Award
  • Curt Witcher Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., will receive the Distinguished Service Award
  • Margaret Collins of Springfield, Ill., and Daniel W. Dixon, of Auburn, Ill., will receive the Individual Writer Award as co-winners.

  • In a late addition to today's roundup, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society announced today that all issues of the society's NYG&B Record (563 issues dating back to 1870) are accessible to society members on the society's website. You can search every word of the issues, or use a new surname search engine.

Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, October 01, 2010 10:30:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]