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# Thursday, 30 December 2010
Inspiriation behind WWII Rosie the Riveter "We Can Do It!" poster dies
Posted by jamie

Geraldine Doyle, the inspiration for the iconic Rosie the Riveter "We Can Do It!" poster of World War II, passed away Sunday at age 86 of complications from severe arthritis.

Doyle was working at a Michigan metal factory in 1941 when a United Press International photographer snapped this photo of the slender 17-year-old laboring in a polka-dot bandanna:

Geraldine Doyle »

Artist J. Howard Miller was commissioned by the Westinghouse Corporation in 1942 to create morale-boosting posters for its factories. Miller was so smitten with the photo of Doyle, he drew upon it when producing the "We Can Do It!" poster:

"We Can Do It!" Poster »

In 1942, Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb composed the popular song "Rosie the Riveter," about the new women's workforce. Shortly thereafter, a Norman Rockwell illustration of a red-headed riveter with the name Rosie painted on her lunch pail graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post:

Rosie the Riveter illustration »

From then on, Westinghouse Corporation factory employees began associating the woman in the "We Can Do It Posters!" with the hard-working Rosie depicted in Rockwell's illustration.

Because the "We Can Do It!" poster was an internal Westinghouse Corporation project, the poster did not become a pop culture icon until her image was revived by advocates of women's equality in the workplace during the 1980s.

For decades Doyle was unaware she was the inspiration behind the "We Can Do It!" poster — she quit working at the factory one week after the photo was taken, because she feared she may permanently damage her hands on the equipment. It wasn't until 1982, when she came across the original photograph in a 1940s issue of Modern Maturity magazine, that Doyle realized she was the woman behind the classic image.

Doyle then began making appearances as Rosie the Riveter, signing autographs until her arthritis made it too painful for her to write.

"You're not supposed to have too much pride, but I can't help have some in that poster," Mrs. Doyle told the Lansing State Journal in 2002. "It's just sad I didn't know it was me sooner."

Historic preservation
Thursday, 30 December 2010 17:09:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Civil War News Corral
Posted by jamie

  • A retired CIA code breaker deciphered a 147-year-old message between Confederate officers. The dispatch indicates Maj. Gen. John G. Walker would not be sending additional troops to reinforce the Confederate hold on the Mississippi River. The same day, the Mississippi River fell to the Union.

  • Historians found a myriad of errors in Virginia history textbooks, and many of the errors relate to the history of the Civil War. The books include incorrect dates for the Battle of Bull Run and the end of slavery, as well as erroneous figures for the amount of men who led Pickett's Charge.

  • The United States Postal Service is celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by releasing commemorative forever stamps depicting the major battles in the war. Souvenir sheets of two stamps will be issued annually, and the first set will be available April 12.

  • Members of the Cincinnati Sons of Union Veterans are working with a civil war preservation group in Georgia to restore a monument in Chickamauga National Battlefield Park. The monument marks where Gen. William Haines Lytle, a member of one of Cincinnati's founding families, was killed while leading union forces in a counterattack.

  • Many states are facing cutbacks and budget turmoil, leaving little funding for Civil War sesquicentennial celebrations. New York, North Carolina and other states have yet to allocate any money for the festivities, but Virginia and Pennsylvania are leading the charge with budgets of $2 million and $5 million.

  • Family Tree is celebrating the Civil War sesquicentennial with our latest book Life in Civil War America and with a special issue of Family Tree Magazine. Look for it on newsstands March 8.

Civil War | Historic preservation
Thursday, 30 December 2010 11:16:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Turn Your Family Tree Into a Personalized Memory Game
Posted by jamie

Online family tree builder and genealogy website has created a virtual family history memory game. No, it isn't a pop quiz on your family tree, but a matching competition similar to concentration.

To create the game, you must register for a free account and upload a GEDCOM file to the site. Users can then automatically generate personalized picture cards of close relatives and ancestors based on their family tree.

Following the same rules as a typical memory game, users can play online against other family members or solo against the clock. With a webcam option, players can even include a live picture of themselves in one pair of the cards.

Families who enjoy the online version of the game can order a hard copy for $20.
Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:53:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
FamilySearch Adds New Records Online
Posted by jamie

FamilySearch has expanded again, adding over a million records and images to its already gargantuan digital depository.

It bolstered state-specific collections, as well as collections from Canada, Spain and Venezuela, by adding more names and digital images to existing indexes. FamilySearch also updated the U.S. Social Security Death Index database with more names and digital images, and created new databases of records that were not previously available online.

The new and updated collections include:

Note the indexes are free to access, but you must create a free account to view digital images of the original record.

View all of FamilySearch's online offerings on its historical records collections page.

court records | FamilySearch | Vital Records
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 11:01:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 23 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Family Tree Magazine VIP Membership
Posted by Diane

On the 12th day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … a Family Tree Magazine VIP membership!

Did you procrastinate on a gift for your favorite genealogist? Don't panic! The Family Tree Magazine VIP membership—a great last-minute gift that doesn’t require shipping—includes:

  • a subscription to the print Family Tree Magazine
  • access to the genealogy guidance in our searchable online article archive from past issues of Family Tree Magazine, as well as The Family Tree Sourcebook
  • 10 percent off purchases in
  • …and more! ;

Click here to check out the benefits of a Family Tree Magazine VIP membership.

12 Days of Genealogy
Thursday, 23 December 2010 23:13:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
12 Days of Genealogy: Beginner's Guide Download
Posted by Diane

On the 11th day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … the Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy download!

Was someone on your Christmas list bitten by the genealogy bug this year? Our downloadable getting-started guide has important information for beginners to know in a user-friendly, engaging presentation. That includes:

  • Research principles (such as starting with yourself and working back in time)
  • How to fill out basic genealogy forms
  • Finding and using essential records, such as censuses and vital records
  • How to keep your research organized
  • Common myths and research traps to avoid
  • Best websites for genealogy research 

The Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy download is a fully searchable PDF your giftee can refer to again and again. Click here to get it from

12 Days of Genealogy | Family Tree Firsts
Thursday, 23 December 2010 23:12:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 22 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Family Tree University Independent Study Download
Posted by Diane

On the tenth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … a Family Tree University Independent Study course download

You can give the gift of genealogy learning, even if it’s too late for shipping by Christmas. FTU Independent Study downloads include the lessons, recommended reading, resource lists and other materials from Family Tree University classes.

Nearly 20 courses are available, including Tracing Immigrants, which helps you find important clues for tracking ancestors in their homelands. In the first lesson of this course, you’ll learn what key facts that will help you start tracing ancestors overseas:

  • The immigrant’s name (before and after immigration—many immigrants Americanized their names once they got here)
  • Date of immigration
  • Port of entry
  • Port of departure
  • Town or village immigrant came from
  • Place immigrant settled in the United States
  • Names of siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins
  • Religion (may give clues to parish back home)
  • Native language 

Click here to explore the available FTU Independent Study course topics

12 Days of Genealogy | Family Tree University
Wednesday, 22 December 2010 17:11:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 21 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Family Tree Pocket Reference Download
Posted by Diane

On the ninth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … the Family Tree Pocket Reference download!

The Pocket Reference is a handy, timesaving collection of genealogy reference material—resources, tips, lists and need-to-know facts. The downloadable version is a fully searchable PDF. You'll get definitions for unfamiliar terms and acronyms, US state fast facts, family tree software at a glance, genealogy data websites, surname origins, cultural naming practices, census dates and questions, US immigration ports and more.

Here’s one quick example of what you'll find the military records section: 

Depending on when your ancestor was born, here are the war records to look for:

  • Born 1726-1767: Revolutionary War (1775-1783) records
  • Born 1762-1799: War of 1812 (1812-1815) records
  • Born 1796-1831: Mexican War (1846-1848) records
  • Born 1811-1848: Civil War (1861-1865) records
  • Born 1848-1881: Spanish-American War (1898) records
  • Born 1849-1885: Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) records
  • Born 1872-1900: World War I (1917-1918) records
  • Born 1877-1925: World War II (1941-1945) records
  • Born 1900-1936: Korean War (1950-1953) records
  • Born 1914-1955: Vietnam War (early 1960s-1973) records

Click here to get the Family Tree Pocket Reference from

12 Days of Genealogy | Military records
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 16:41:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
2010 Census Numbers Are In
Posted by Grace

The US Census Bureau in Washington, DC, announced today the first numbers from this year's census. As of April 1, 2010, the US population was 308,745,538. That's a 9.7% increase from the 2000 census.

The state with the biggest upswing in population was Nevada, which grew by 35% since 2000. Michigan and Puerto Rico had declines of 0.6% and 2.2%, respectively.

The bureau is required by law to report the population and congressional apportionment totals to the president by Dec. 31 of the year the census is taken. You can play with a neat interactive map of historical census data here.

Check out all our past articles on the census here. Or you might enjoy our Census Secrets CD or our Online Census Secrets webinar.

census records | Public Records
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 16:20:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 20 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Family Tree Magazine Subscription
Posted by Diane

On the eighth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … a subscription to Family Tree Magazine!

America's No. 1 how-to family history magazine delivers the tips and tools you need to discover your family’s past. Our user-friendly approach to discovering, preserving and celebrating family history makes genealogy a hobby anyone can enjoy.

Check out to see some of the genealogy advice you’ll find in our pages. Try these for starters:

Click here to order a Family Tree Magazine subscription in the United States

Click here for a Family Tree Magazine subscription in Canada

Click here for an international Family Tree Magazine subscription

12 Days of Genealogy | Family Tree Magazine articles
Monday, 20 December 2010 22:30:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
'Tis The Season For Family Traditions
Posted by jamie

Whether it’s trimming the tree, lighting the menorah or preparing a holiday feast large enough to feed a small army, the holidays are that special time each year when we spend  time with friends and family. And all that togetherness makes for great family stories and traditions.


My favorite holiday tradition is opening up just one gift on Christmas Eve, before the entire family is nestled in their beds. This tradition started when my sister and I were very young and could barely wait until 6 a.m. to open our presents on Christmas morning. The gift is usually something small — like new slippers or pajamas — but we get a sample of what’s to come in the morning, when we wake up to the bounty of presents from Santa.


Some of my family’s holiday traditions are generations old. My mother-in-law claims her family has celebrated St. Nikolaus Day since her grandmother emigrated from Germany. Every year she calls us on Dec. 5 to remind us to put out our shoes so St. Nickolaus will bring us presents. And sure enough, on Dec. 6, we receive a package St. Nickolaus filled with goodies.


If your family traditions don’t span back that far, you can start your own holiday legacy by incorporating your ancestor’s likely customs from the Old Country. You can find some inspiration here. 


Does your family have any exciting or unique holiday traditions?

Social History
Monday, 20 December 2010 15:54:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Sunday, 19 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: On-Demand Webinars
Posted by Diane

On the seventh day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me . . . an FTU on-demand webinar

Family Tree University downloadable on-demand webinars give you how-to advice on genealogy topics from online research to brick walls to researching ancestors in various states. You’ll be able to use your computer to watch an hour-long presentation showing you research strategies, tips and the best online tools.

This census advice snippet is from the webinar Online Census Secrets: Best Web Sites and Strategies to Find Your Ancestors Webinar:

The government designated an official census day for each census. Of course, the enumerating didn’t all happen on this day, but the information the census takers collected was supposed to be accurate as of that date. If a baby was born after Census Day, he was supposed to be left out of the census. If a person died after Census Day, he was supposed to be recorded. Ages were also to be reported according to the person’s age on Census Day. Census takers and informants didn’t always comply with these instructions, however. These are the official Census Days:

  • 1790-1820: first Monday in August
  • 1830-1900: June 1
  • 1910: April 15
  • 1920: Jan. 1
  • 1930-1940: April 1
Click here to peruse our on-demand webinar offerings at

12 Days of Genealogy | Webinars
Sunday, 19 December 2010 21:46:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Saturday, 18 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Family Tree Sourcebook
Posted by Diane

On the sixth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … The Family Tree Sourcebook: The Essential Directory of American County and Town Resources.

The Family Tree Sourcebook, a second edition of The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists, contains updated information on county-based records such as vital records, land records, probate records and more. You can look up a US county and find formation dates, parent counties, official contact information and websites, and available records and their start dates. 

You’ll also find a how-to article and books, organizations and websites for each state, as well as a listing of national genealogical sites and organizations.

And, the book comes with a month of searchable online access through a Family Tree Magazine Plus membership.

Click here to get yourself a copy of The Family Tree Sourcebook (on sale now at 33 percent off!).

12 Days of Genealogy | Genealogy books
Saturday, 18 December 2010 18:19:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 17 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Trace Your Roots Online
Posted by Diane

On the fifth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … the Trace Your Roots Online CD. 

This CD offers the instruction you need to find ancestors online, including the best websites to search, effective search techniques, time-saving computer tricks, social networking sites and more. You’ll also find online searching caveats, such as this research trap to avoid: 

Trap: It doesn't matter whether online information comes from a record, a transcription or an index.

Fact: An online record is an original document that's been digitized for viewing on the Web. For example, and have posted images of original census enumerations. When you pull information from one of those images, you’re looking at the original record.

You have to be more careful with online transcriptions, which have typed text from original documents. You'll find transcriptions of passenger lists (on the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild site, for example), tombstone inscriptions (at Find a Grave and and all sorts of other records. Remember that typographical errors easily can sneak into transcriptions. Even a careful transcriber might not correctly read the handwriting on an original document. Always verify spellings and dates by checking the original record. 

Online indexes can help you find references to your ancestors in state vital records, books, periodicals and other sources. An index will contain only a fraction of the information recorded in the original source. When you locate your ancestor in, say, the Periodical Source Index (searchable via HeritageQuest Online, free through many libraries), jot down all the information, and then look for the genealogical or historical journal where the data appears. Or if your ancestor's name is in an online death records index, note the certificate number and request a copy from the state vital-records office.

The Trace Your Roots Online CD is available from

12 Days of Genealogy | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 17 December 2010 16:28:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genealogy News Corral Dec. 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • Another new database from Library and Archives Canada is Medals, Honours and Awards, containing more than 113,000 references to medal registers, citation cards and records of military awards. It also has digitized images of some medal registers. You can search the database by name, regiment, rank and more; if you find a match, you’ll learn the medal awarded, the related battle or conflict, and a citation for the record containing the information. Because no service files exist for the Canadian military in the 1800s, these records may provide the only proof of service for 19th-century conflicts. 
  • FamilySearch has added nearly four million new digital images—nearly 1.7 million of them indexed—to its historical records collection. The additions include records from South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Guatemala, the Netherlands and the United States. Visit FamilySearch for a list of the collection titles with the new images, and how many of the records are indexed. Unindexed collections aren’t searchable, instead, you’ll need to browse those collections and view the records to find your ancestor’s name.
  • Richard Heaton e-mailed us about his site called Last Chance To Read, a searchable collection of thousands of pages of scarce British and Irish newspapers and other publications, most printed between 1710 and 1870. Once you register for a free account, you can do a search and order PDF copies of articles for about $4.75 via PayPal. See included titles here (scroll down).  
  • RootsMagic released a free update to version 4, version, which update adds several user-requested features and fixes a number of issues. Users may be automatically notified to download the update; if not, open the program and go to Help>Check for Updates or click here.

Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Military records | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 17 December 2010 16:06:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 16 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Family Tree Legacies
Posted by Diane

On the fourth day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … Family Tree Legacies!

The book Family Tree Legacies: Preserving Memories Throughout Time is great for beginners, newlyweds or anyone who’s ready to create a lasting family keepsake from their genealogy information. You can get a good look at what’s inside the book in this blog post

It comes with how-to information and pages for recording family information of all kinds, plus a CD so you can print extras. You can download the Military Service Record, for writing about ancestors who served their country, as a free PDF from

Click here to order Family Tree Legacies from

12 Days of Genealogy | Genealogy books
Thursday, 16 December 2010 16:26:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 15 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: Independent Study
Posted by Diane

On the third day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … an FTU Independent Study CD.

Family Tree University Independent Study courses have all the materials from FTU online classes, with the advantage that you can truly proceed at your own pace. The CDs cover about 20 course topics, including Finding Your Ancestral Village (shown above), Google Tools for Genealogists, Newspaper Research 101 and more. 

From the Land Records 101 course, for example, you’ll learn essential terms such as

Widow’s Examination: Required in many jurisdictions until the early 1900s. A wife was entitled to “widow’s rights” or “dower rights” (typically one-third) of her husband’s property—although she often could not directly control or sell it in her own right. Before he could sell the property, she was required to sign an independent statement that she was aware he was selling the property and she was therefore losing her dower rights. If she did not sign, the property could not be sold. 

You’ll also learn how to find and read deeds, land patents, bounty land warrants and more.

FTU Independent Study CDs are available for about 20 course topics. You also can choose a downloadable Independent Study course

12 Days of Genealogy | Family Tree University
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 13:44:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
NBC Reveals "WDYTYA" Season 2 Celebrities
Posted by Diane

NBC has revealed the celebrity lineup for the upcoming season of its “Who Do You Think You Are?” celebrity-genealogy tv series.

Friday evenings starting Feb. 4, you can watch country music star Tim McGraw; pop singer Lionel Richie; comedian and activist Rosie O’Donnell; and actors Ashley Judd, Steve Buscemi, Vanessa Williams and Kim Cattrall trace their roots.

The series is produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky of Is or Isn’t Entertainment. You can read more “Who Do You Think You Are?” news and Season 1 recaps here

Update: A press release today added actress Gwyneth Paltrow to the list of celebrities appearing on season 2 of the show, and promised that "From the trenches of the Civil War to the shores of the Caribbean, and from the valleys of Virginia to the island nations of Australia and Ireland, “Who Do You Think You Are?” will reveal the fabric of humanity through everyone’s place in history."

"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 08:50:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Tuesday, 14 December 2010
12 Days of Genealogy: 10 Years on DVD
Posted by Diane

On the second day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me … 10 Years of Family Tree Magazine on DVD!

We've packed 10 years of Family Tree Magazine issues onto one easy-to-use DVD full of genealogy tips, tools and tutorials. You can search all 60 issues at once, then click to the articles you want. And it’s on sale for $79.99 (normally $99.99).

Read more about the 10 Years of Family Tree Magazine DVD on

12 Days of Genealogy
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 15:59:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
New FamilySearch Website Unveiled
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has flipped the "switch" to release its redesigned website from beta. Now, when you go to, it looks like this:

The new FamilySearch home page has search fields that let you scour historical records, the Family History Library online catalog or family trees. You also can browse records by location.

On the right, you can link to the FamilySearch blog ("Changes at"—a good place to start for an overview on changes to the site), see online genealogy lessons ("View Online Lessons") and get information on FamilySearch Centers around the world ("Get Personal Help").

We'll keep you updated on news from FamilySearch. Let us know what you think of the site.

Update: I wanted to update this post with some official information from FamilySearch's press release. The new has millions of new records and images, more than 40,000 helpful articles, 100-plus how-to courses, and a forum for discussing your research. According to the announcement, "FamilySearch will continue to implement the new website in phases to ensure all critical elements are functioning as desired. Once complete, the website will be promoted more broadly."

Click here for links to a video and document about the new version of (Pages 8 and 9 of the PDF document has information on what became of the data from the International Genealogical Index, Pedigree Resource File and Ancestral File, which many commenters to the FamilySearch blog post asked about.)

You also can link to the prior version of the FamilySearch, which will remain available during the transition to the new site.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 14:24:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Gems Podcast App for Droid
Posted by Diane

Genealogy Gems podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke just released the Genealogy Gems Podcast App for Android phones. It allows genealogists to stream the entire catalog of 100-plus podcast episodes, as well as access bonus content such as videos, PDF files and more.

The new app is compatible with OS 1.6 or later. It’s available for $2.99 in the Android Marketplace or through the AppBrain website

Got an iPhone? Earlier this year, Cooke released the Genealogy Gems Podcast App for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

You can learn more about genealogy apps for mobile devices on the Mobile Genealogy website.

Genealogy Software | Podcasts
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 09:59:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 13 December 2010
NARA Invites Comment on 2010 Census Records
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is inviting you to have a say about what it’ll be like to research the 2010 census records in the future.

NARA is asking for public comment on the Appraisal and Records schedule for the census. These schedules list all the records created during Census 2010—not just the census forms you filled out, but also address canvassing maps, data summaries, various publications and more—and proposes standards for their retention or disposition.

For those records proposed for permanent retention, the schedule contains instructions for their transfer to NARA. For records are proposed for temporary retention, the schedule contains instructions for their later disposal.

The proposed schedule provides that the 2010 decennial census forms we all filled out will be preserved in the form of scanned images. (You can read about the archives’ preservation of digital images here.) It calls for those and other “permanently valuable” records to be transferred to NARA within 10 years after the census.

For more information and to link to the Appraisal and Records schedule, see this post on the archives’ NARAtions blog.

The documents are lengthy. You can get a summary of many of the documents proposed for preservation on the archives’ Records Express blog

Comments and questions regarding the proposed retention/disposition of records are being accepted on both of the above-mentioned blog posts through Dec. 30.

census records | NARA
Monday, 13 December 2010 11:15:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
12 Days of Genealogy: Questions for Grandma and Grandpa
Posted by Diane

While we love a calling bird and a lord-a-leaping as much as the next person, we’re not sure how those lovely gifts would fit into our family history research. So we’ve come up with our own countdown, 12 Days of Genealogy, that has ideas for genealogy presents you can give family or put on your Christmas list. The countdown commences now!

On the first day of Christmas, my genea-Santa gave to me: a great book called Questions to Bring You Closer to Grandma and Grandpa: 100+ Conversation Starters for Grandchildren and Grandparents

With questions such as “What is your favorite family memory?” “How did the world you grew up in differ from today's world?” “Is there anything in life you wish you did, but never have?” this book will help grandkids—young ones and grown-ups—start conversations that will bring the generations closer and pass on family lore. 

Questions come in nine chapters including “On Our Family History,” “On Children, Parenting and Being a grandparent” and “Grandma and Grandpa’s Favorite Things.” There’s plenty of space to write in the answers, and you’ll also find advice for starting the conversation and using the book.

Learn more about the book Questions to Bring You Closer to Grandma and Grandpa on

A quick reminder: Today, Dec. 13, is the last day to order for ground shipping delivery by Christmas.

Oral History | 12 Days of Genealogy
Monday, 13 December 2010 10:07:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Help Choose the 2011 Family Tree 40!
Posted by Diane

In the July 2011 Family Tree Magazine, we’ll name the 40 Best Genealogy Blogs—the Family Tree 40. And we’d like your help in choosing from blogs nominated by the genealogy community.

To vote, use the survey at

The nominees are divided into eight categories. In each category, please choose five blogs (you'll get an error message if you choose too many).

Voting is open until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20. You may vote multiple times. (If you have a genealogy blog, feel free to use this badge to encourage your fellow family historians to vote.)

Thanks a bunch to our Family Tree 40 panelists—Genealogy Gems blogger Lisa Louise Cooke, Genea-Musings blogger Randy Seaver, Myrt of the DearMyrtle blog and Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers—who helped in formulating the blog categories and qualifications, as well as narrowing categories with the most nominations.

For more on the Family Tree 40 blog categories and qualifications, see this Genealogy Insider blog post.

Click here to vote in the Family Tree 40.

PS: You can go here to easily click through to visit all the blogs in the Family Tree 40 voting!

Family Tree 40
Monday, 13 December 2010 09:32:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 09 December 2010 Improves Basic Search Flexibility
Posted by Diane

You’ll start seeing some changes to subscription genealogy website’s Basic search form over the next few weeks. says its users asked for more flexibility in entering place and date information: What if you don’t know when and where an ancestor was born—but you do know he lived in a certain place at a certain time?

So you’ll soon be able to enter a place into a “Name a place your ancestor might have lived” field. That will search records for any life events—birth, residence, marriage, military service and death—that match that location. User testing revealed this moved relevant matches up in search results, says product manager Anne Mitchell.

The new form also adds a “Calculate it” button, which will estimate a birth year based on when your ancestor lived in the place you specify.

If you do know when your ancestor was born, married, died, served in the military or lived someplace else, you can click an “Add an event” link to add one of these life events and the place and date of that event.

Finally, the links to clear the form and show the Advanced Search form have moved to the bottom of the Basic Search form, next to the Search button.

The changes will begin rolling out to some US members today and become available to all users over the next few weeks.

Visit’s blog for more information and to see what the new form looks like. | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 09 December 2010 10:09:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 08 December 2010 Holiday Shipping Info
Posted by Diane

If you're planning on ordering magazines, books or CDs/DVDs from as Christmas gifts, you'll want to be aware of these ordering deadlines for delivery by Dec. 25. The dates below apply to addresses within the United States:
  • For shipping via the US Postal Service, order by 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Wed., Dec. 8 (that's today).

  • For shipping via ground transport, order by 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Mon., Dec. 13.

  • For two-day and standard overnight shipping, order by 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Mon., Dec. 20.
  • Products labeled "This item ships directly from the manufacturer" should be ordered by Eastern Standard Time Mon., Dec. 13.

Remember that also offers many downloadable digital products, such as research guides, Family Tree University Independent Study courses, Family Tree Magazine back issues, on-demand webinars, books and VIP memberships, which of course don't require shipping. And most of these digital products still count toward your $25 order total to receive free shipping on other items you might order at the same time. Sales
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 12:02:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Great Gifts on a Budget in Our Genealogy Vault of Savings
Posted by Diane

Our Vault of Savings is the place to stop if you need a thoughtful gift for a genealogy pal, but you also need to stick to a budget.

For genealogists, you can pick up discounted books and CDs such as:

  • The Family Tree Guide to Finding Your Ellis Island Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack ($12.99, a 35 percent discount off the regular price)
  • Family Tree Essentials CD ($14.99, a 25 percent discount)
  • Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs by Maureen A. Taylor ($10, a 60 percent discount)
  • Family Tree Magazine State Research Guides CD ($37.99, a 40 percent discount) 

Memory crafters might enjoy:

  • Scrap City by Paul Gambino ($15, a 40 percent discount)
  • Modern Memory Keeper by Renee Parsons ($16, a 30 percent discount)

These are just some of the items in the vault.

Remember, you get free shipping on qualifying orders over $25. Family Tree Magazine VIPs also get an additional 10 percent of their orders (make sure you log into your ShopFamilyTree VIP account). 

Start shopping our Genealogy Vault of Savings here.

Editor's Pick | Sales
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 10:05:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 07 December 2010
Footnote Marks Pearl Harbor Day With Two Free WWII Collections
Posted by Diane

Today is the 69th anniversary of the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared “a date which will live in infamy.” The Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, caused more than 3,000 casualties and sank or damaged all eight US battleships anchored there. The next day, Congress declared war on Japan.

To mark the occasion, subscription historical records site Footnote has made two collections free during the month of December:

  • Pearl Harbor Muster rolls, the quarterly Muster Rolls and related documents for the United States Navy’s fighting ships, ground organizations, and shore facilities that were present on the island of Oahu during the attack. 
  • World War II Diaries, 1942-1945, submitted by most units in the Navy (most Marine Corps war diaries were submitted by aviation units such as fighter squadrons), provide a day-to-day record of operational and sometimes administrative activities. This database contains 251,082 document images, about 13 percent of the collection housed at the National Archives

Of course, Footnote’s Interactive USS Arizona Memorial, a searchable, life-size image of the memorial naming USS Arizona sailors killed in the Pearl Harbor attack, is always free.

Get help making the most of your Footnote subscription with our Footnote Web Guide, available as a digital download from

Wondering about your family’s WWII memorabilia? Learn more about it from the photos and information in Warman's World War II Collectibles by Michael E. Haskew.

Footnote | Free Databases | Military records
Tuesday, 07 December 2010 10:54:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 06 December 2010
Sneak Peek at the National Archives' New Website
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)—the agency that houses federal records including censuses, passenger lists, military service papers and more—will launch its redesigned website next Monday, Dec. 13.

You can preview the new site now at <> (click on the image for the new site). Note that the search on the preview site won’t work.

NARA developed the new site with help from users through surveys, voting, card sorts (a way of figuring out how users would organize the site) and usability testing. It’ll feature:

  • A new home page, selected by public vote in July
  • A new interactive map of NARA’s facilities nationwide
  • Historical documents and streamlined access to military service records (turns out that 81 percent of visitors are looking for this information)
  • Topically organized sections focused on the needs of both casual browsers and professional researchers (the current site divides articles for genealogists, researchers, members of the general public, etc., leading to multiple sections on the same topic)
  • Easy links to NARA's social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and blogs.

Read more about the redesign process on NARA’s website.

Genealogy Web Sites | NARA
Monday, 06 December 2010 15:51:36 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 03 December 2010
Genealogy News Corral Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Posted by Diane

Registration for the full event ranges from $175 to $245, depending whether you’re an NGS member, whether you make the early bird deadline (March 11), and whether you want a printed syllabus. You also can register for a single day of the conference, which costs $95 to $115.
  • Family networking site has launched Family Tree Builder 5.0, the latest version of its free genealogy software. New features include to-do lists, a Tree Consistency Checker (helps find mistakes in your family tree data by automatically identifying errors and inconsistencies in 40 categories), improved privacy settings, support for your DNA test results, custom reports, and the customizable family tree charts announced recently.

Learn more about Family Tree Builder at

  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society, which announced its new site in August, has officially deactivated the website (the old URL redirects to the new site). You can get a tutorial on searching the databases in the March 2011 Family Tree Magazine, on sale Jan. 11.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 03 December 2010 14:08:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Organize Your Photos with Nancy Hendrickson
Posted by Grace

The next round of Family Tree University classes start Monday, Dec. 6, including a new one from instructor Nancy Hendrickson: Organize Your Photos: Preserve Your Family's Pictorial Legacy.

In this course, Nancy (who also teaches our popular course Organize Your Genealogy) will offer advice on sorting through massive amounts of photos, creating a log to keep track of your images, and devising a system that can grow with your collection.

Here's what she has to say about determining what photos to keep and what to give away or trash:
By nature, genealogists are hoarders. The thought of getting rid of any old photos could very well send shivers down your spine. But the truth is, most of us have photos that aren’t worth keeping. Your first task is to do a rough pass through all the photos. You’re not organizing them yet. This time, you’re just making piles of images you want to…
  • keep and organize
  • scan and organize
  • discard
  • give away
  • or use in a scrapbook
As you sort into piles, you may find yourself torn between keeping something and throwing it away. For example, one image I have is very poor quality, and couldn’t be improved upon even with expert photo editing.

Did I keep it? Yes. Why? Because it’s the only photo I have of my grandfather with all of his children and their spouses. This is why considering the content of a photo is important when it comes to a culling your collection. Even if a picture is of poor quality, it may be the only one you have of a certain person or place.

NOTE: I want to stop here and point out that keeping or discarding an image is a matter of personal preference. Your choice may be to never discard an image, regardless of quality or subject matter. When it comes to editing photographs, you have to decide what’s right for you.
If you register with the coupon code FTU111, and you'll get 20% off your December classes plus a free 2011 calendar! Learn more about Organize Your Photos: Preserve Your Family's Pictorial Legacy and sign up here.

Family Tree University | Photos
Friday, 03 December 2010 10:10:37 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 02 December 2010 Adds Millions of Records
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site has added more than 40 million new digital records and 110 million scanned newspaper pages dating back to 1753.

The new record collections now available on include:

  • 40 million indexed vital records from states including Texas, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and Utah. These represent a 25 percent increase in the site’s US vital records. Information you’ll get varies by state, but generally includes the child’s name, sex, birth date and place, and parents’ names.
  • 110 million newspaper pages from Newspaper Archive, dating back to 1753 and containing billions of indexed names.
  • 300,000 indexed burial records through a partnership with cemetery mapping company Names In Stone. In the search results, users can view burial information and click the View Full Record link to see supplementary fields and a cemetery map on (no additional payment or membership required).

Since its July 2009 launch, users have spent more than 2 million hours on the site and performed 50 million searches. Users can search all records, search by record type (such as marriage) or state, or search by collection name. A subscription costs $39.95 per year; a seven-day free trial is available.

Cemeteries | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Vital Records
Thursday, 02 December 2010 08:38:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 01 December 2010
Find New York Ancestors With Our Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by Diane

Editors Pick

Did your ancestors spend time in the Empire State? Plenty of our forebears did, including many immigrants who arrived at New York City’s Ellis Island (and Castle Garden before that) and ports on the Great Lakes.

Our next webinar, New York Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Empire State Ancestors, will help you pick out your kin from the hustle and bustle of cities and rural farmlands. It takes place Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. Eastern time (that’s 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain and 4 p.m. Pacific)

New York Genealogy Crash Course

The state’s stages of development—early days under Dutch rule, an English Colonial era dominated by large landowners, a time as a pathway for people leaving New England, and the era as home to the nation's busiest port of entry—can make research here difficult.

Presenter James M. Beidler, a New York genealogy expert and frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine, will offer advice on finding vital, land, court and other records. He’ll also discuss ethnicity-based records your immigrant ancestor may have left, as well as the best websites for New York research.

Your webinar registration includes: 

  • Participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
  • Access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as you like
  • A PDF of the presentation slides
  • A PDF of our New York State Research Guide

Through Dec. 3, you can save $10 on your registration with our early-bird discount. Learn more about the New York Genealogy Crash Course webinar and register at

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 17:09:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Clues in's Sears Catalog Database
Posted by Diane

The polyester bow-tie blouses. The high-waisted pants. The corduroy jumpsuits?

In subscription site’s new database of Sears catalogs from 1896 to 1993, I couldn’t resist browsing the early 1980s doorstoppers of my childhood. As a kid, I’d "shop," choosing one item per page, and use the toy sections to create impossibly optimistic Christmas lists.

But for genealogical purposes, you’ll probably want to look at catalogs further back in time. Of course, you won’t find ancestors. But if your family farmed in the 1940s, for example, you can keyword-search catalogs from that era for equipment they might’ve used. If you fondly remember Grandma making cakes with her rotary egg beater, you can learn when she might've bought it and see an illustration. This one cost 30 cents in the Fall 1929 edition:

Need to date a photo? Search the catalog database for the dress style or an object in the photo. I entered shirtwaist, and among the results was this illustration from the Spring 1905 catalog:

Your searches find keywords in the catalogs’ product descriptions, so you may have to experiment with search terms to find a drawing that matches what’s in your photograph.

The blog suggests using the catalog pages to spark stories and reminisce with relatives—another handy way to gather family clues. 

You can learn about the history of the Sears catalog, which began as a simple mailer in 1888 and has been called one of the most-commonly read books in rural areas, on the Sears website. | Research Tips | Social History
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 09:19:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]