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# Monday, January 31, 2011
"Who Do You Think Are?" Returns Friday
Posted by jamie

The second season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" debuts Friday, and the first episode features Vanessa Williams exploring her father's ancestry.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O'Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie and Ashley Judd will also add new branches to their family tree this season. Through these celebrities' ancestries, "WDYTYA?" will tell the stories of a slave liberator, a colonist, a bigamist, a miracle baby and a Civil War prisoner, to name a few.

Before you watch the show, check out our "WDYTYA?" episode one sneak peek, and our Q&A with Williams and show producer Lisa Kudrow. After the episodes, join the discussion on our "WDYTYA?" forum.

"WDYTYA?" premieres Friday, Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.


"Who Do You Think You Are?"
Monday, January 31, 2011 4:11:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Black History Month Genealogy Resources
Posted by jamie

Black History Month is celebration of the role African Americans played in shaping U.S. history. The annual event started as “Negro History Week” in 1926, and blossomed into a month-long commemoration marked by every U.S. president in office since 1976.

Festivities kick off Feb. 1, and we'd like to help you celebrate your heritage. Discover your black history with some of our genealogy resources:


Look for a guide to tracing black ancestors using African American newspapers in our May issue, on newsstands March 8.


African-American roots
Monday, January 31, 2011 1:31:43 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral
Posted by jamie

Planning to attend the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) April 6-10 in Springfield, Mass.? Register soon: The deadline for early bird savings is Feb. 15—after that, the full-conference fee goes from $110 to $135. Learn more on the NERGC website.

Here’s another money-saving tip for you: If you’ve been thinking about joining subscription historical records site Footnote, we got an e-mail about a $49.95 membership sale going on through Jan. 31 (the normal annual membership costs $79.95). Click here to see the offer.

Starting Feb. 12, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis is hosting an exhibition called Red/Black: Related Through History about the interwoven history of African-Americans and American Indians. It gathers personal narratives, paintings, baskets, pottery, photographs and other rare items from across the country to tell the story of the two groups’ shared experiences. (You can read more about “Black Indians” here.)

The National Archives has launched a free mobile app called Today’s Document. It helps you learn what happened on a specific date, search for a document by keyword, or browse historical highlights from the archives’ holdings. You can view photos and documents, and read background information on the selection.  Learn more from this video, and download the app from the Android marketplace or the Apple iTunes Store.


African-American roots | American Indian roots | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Monday, January 31, 2011 9:39:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 27, 2011
FamilySearch Adds Naturalization, Border-Crossing Records
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch’s latest records update includes 3 million new U.S. naturalization records and Ancestry.com’s indexes for US border crossings from Canada to the United States  and Mexico to the United States. Previously, these collections were available online only through subscription-based sites. (You can find the records on microfilm at National Archives facilities, the Family History Library and many large genealogy libraries.)

See the FamilySearch website for a list of the rest of its recently added records. If you don’t want to search all the records on the site using the search form on the home page, here’s how to find the individual databases:

  1. Scroll down on the FamilySearch home page to Browse By Location and click the world region of interest.

  2. In the filter links on the left side of the page, click the country. (That’s as narrow as you can get when it comes to places at this time.) In the center of the page, you'll see an alphabetical list of all databases pertaining to that country.

  3. Below the place filters, you can use other filters to narrow the database list by year range and type of record.

  4. Once you’ve narrowed as much as you can, look for the database title in the alphabetical list in the center of the page. (Most US naturalization records are separated into databases for the relevant states, so they're alphabetized under state names for those.)

Using your browser’s Find function (Control+F or Apple+F) to search for a word in the title of the database you need will help you sidestep some inconsistent titling that can make a few collections hard to find.

For example, Revolutionary War pension records are in the database “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications Files,” listed with the Rs, but Revolutionary War service records are in the database titled “United States, Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783”—listed with the Us.

Also, “United States, Index to Naturalizations of World War I Soldiers, 1918” isn’t listed near the naturalization records from US District Courts, which are alphabetized by the name of the state the records are from, or with the WWII records in “United States, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.”

I noticed those WWI soldier naturalizations don’t show up when you use the Migration & Naturalization or Military Records filter (but they are included in the Court Records). I sent a comment about it; if you find a categorization or other quirk, you can comment using the orange Feedback tab on the right side of the site's pages.


FamilySearch | Free Databases | immigration records | Military records
Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:15:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Preview of "Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode One
Posted by jamie

Following our media conference call with "Who Do You Think You Are?" producer Lisa Kudrow and season two, episode one celebrity Vanessa Williams, we were able to screen the first episode.

While we won't reveal all the juicy details of Williams' ancestry,  here are a few things to look forward to in her "WDYTYA?" episode:

  • Civil War history buffs, rejoice! This episode is chock full of Civil War and Reconstruction history, including the effect of slavery and Jim Crow laws on Williams' ancestors.
  • Williams made history as the first African American crowned Miss America, but she isn't the only noteworthy person in her family tree. She delves into the astonishing history of one of her former slave ancestors.
  • On a trip to Washington, D.C., National Archives researcher Vonnie Zullo stumbles upon a rare genealogical find while researching Williams' great-great grandfather David Carll. The item is so unheard of, Zullo says it's the only one she's come across in her 20-plus years at the depository.
  • If the first episode is any indication of what's to come on "WDYTYA?", expect more air time devoted to original documents and what goes into tracing your roots.

"WDYTYA?" premieres Friday, Feb. 4, at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 1:49:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
Missouri Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by Diane


From St. Louis' gleaming Gateway Arch to Kansas City in the west and the Ozarks in the south, Missouri has been the Promised Land for some and a pit stop on the way West for others. 

American settlement there began as early as 1787, especially from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolinas. The population was about 57,000 when Missouri became a state in 1821. Joining descendants of those early French and American settlers were immigrants from Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, England and Czechoslovakia. In the mid-1800s, many Germans and Irish arrived.

We’ll help you trace your Missouri ancestors in our Missouri Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Show-Me State Ancestors live webinar.

The hour-long webinar is Wed., Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. Eastern time (that’s 6 p.m. Central/ 5 p.m. Mountain/ 4 p.m. Pacific). 

Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Nancy Hendrickson, a veteran Missouri researcher, and expert guest presenters Angela McComas from the Midwest Genealogy Center and Dennis Northcott of the Missouri History Museum will share essential history and migration information, details on vital records, the best websites and other resources for Missouri research, and more.

Among the great resources you’ll learn about are the state archives’ county-by-county listing of microfilmed records and Missouri Digital Heritage, where many important sources such as abstracted vital records and naturalizations are digitized. It’s enough to make me wish for Missouri ancestors!

Missouri Genealogy Crash Course webinar attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance, and be able to view the webinar again as many times as they like. For a limited time, you can save 20 percent on your registration at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Editor's Pick | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 11:11:28 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 25, 2011
MyHeritage Upgrades Smart Matching
Posted by Diane

Family networking and genealogy site MyHeritage.com has upgraded its Smart Matching technology to add new collaboration features.

Smart Matching finds matches between the people in users’ family trees on MyHeritage. To date, those trees total more than 680 million people in 17 million trees.

The updates include a new presentation of Smart Matches, plus more efficient organizing and reviewing of matches. The new Consensus Page aggregates data from all Smart Matches, presenting a “big picture” for each match. It summarizes the names, birth and death dates and places, marriage info, etc., and indicates the number of times each piece of information has been used in other family trees.

SmartMatching works in “real time” as users enter new information into their trees, as well as offline. Users are notified of new matches by e-mail. The service is free for MyHeritage.com basic members, but those on MyHeritage.com subscription plans also get enhanced options for contacting other tree owners and confirming or rejecting matches. If both tree owners confirm the match, the trees are linked, rather than merged, so each owner retains control of his tree.

See more about SmartMatching here.


Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 3:05:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
FTU Courses Starting Monday + Free Webinar!
Posted by Grace

If you've been thinking about taking a Family Tree University class (get cracking on that new year's resolution!), now's the time to sign up. Everyone who registers for a class in the next session, which starts Monday, Jan. 31, also gets free access to the Your Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com webinar recording! We're even kicking in all the bonus materials -- something you don't normally get when you buy a webinar recording in our store. So browse through our course listing below -- if something catches your fancy, now's the time to strike.


Family Tree University

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:58:13 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, January 24, 2011
Ancestry.com to Discontinue Expert Connect
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com will discontinue its Expert Connect service, launched in June 2009 to link those seeking genealogy research services with service providers, as of March 18 of this year, according to an announcement today.

New project postings, bidding and awards will be discontinued Feb. 3, according to a message sent to service providers.

"Though this service has been a positive experience, Ancestry.com has decided to focus on other business priorities," stated the announcement.

It continued, "Both experts and members currently involved in Expert Connect have been notified of this update. We encourage members to finish out existing projects with experts they have located through the Expert Connect service and if needed, continue relationships for future projects they may have."


Ancestry.com
Monday, January 24, 2011 4:31:39 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Q&A With The Folks Behind "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Posted by Diane

A little bit ago, editorial assistant (and soon-to-be frequent blogger here) Jamie Royce and I participated in a media conference call with “Who Do You Think You Are?” producer Lisa Kudrow and Season Two, Episode One celebrity Vanessa Williams.

Each journalist on the call got to ask two or three questions. When our turn came, we wanted to know whether Kudrow and Williams would have pursued genealogy to such an extent themselves, had they not been on “WDYTYA?”

Williams, who learns on the show that her African-American ancestors served in the Civil War and in the Tennessee legislature after Emancipation, is a bit of a history buff and had actually already set up a family tree on Ancestry.com (a partner in the series). She had the interest, she said, but not the necessary knowledge or access to the information.

Kudrow’s dad was way into in genealogy, as you might remember from last season’s "WDYTYA?," and had spent a lot of time at the FamilySearch Center in Los Angeles. He had a many names and dates, and Kudrow was able to flesh out that information and get in touch with living relatives through the show.

We also mentioned how hungry Family Tree Magazine readers are to see more of what goes into the research—how researchers uncover the records, what archives they visit, what the records look like—and asked whether this year we might see more of that detail in the episodes or even on the "WDYTYA?" website.

Kudrow acknowledged your desire to know more of the nuts and bolts of the research. Earlier in the call, she had noted how painful it is to have to cut video from each episode due to the 42-minute running time. “There just isn’t time,” she lamented.

So you probably won’t see much more nuts-and-bolts research in the episodes, but we’re hoping NBC will put more of that behind-the-scenes content on the website. Ancestry.com posted research recaps to its blog after each Season One episode, so we'll look for more of those, as well.

Thomas MacEntee of Genea-bloggers also was on the call—see the answers to his questions and other notes from the call here. Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems was there, too—keep an eye on her blog for her take

Kudrow talked about the value of personalizing history with stories like those featured on the show. You might think history was just something that happened to strangers a long time ago, but when you see how it affected your family, it has so much more impact.

“I hope it’s a history lesson for people, and I hope it inspires them to ask questions,” Williams said.

"WDYTYA?" premieres Friday, Feb. 4, at 8pm EST on NBC.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com
Monday, January 24, 2011 4:23:22 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, January 21, 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 17-21
Posted by Diane

  • The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) just unveiled a new website featuring links to ISGS records projects, links to other Illinois resources and a new members-only section. Visitors also will find archived ISGS Newsletters back to 2008, listings of Illinois genealogy events, free databases and more.

Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives | Military records | Newspapers | Photos
Friday, January 21, 2011 11:14:59 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Family History Project: Baby Book
Posted by Diane

You might’ve picked up from casual mentions on the blog that I have a tiny future genealogist on the way in the next week or two. So over the next few months, our other Family Tree Magazine editors and some awesome contributors will keep you up-to-date on genealogy news and resources (though I may pop back in to show a baby picture or two).

Being a family historian, I of course plan to record all the baby excitement for posterity. But I couldn’t find any baby books I really liked—ones where I could include all the information I want, add pages and pictures, and save keepsakes. So I’ve been putting together my own, and I wanted to share it in case it inspires ideas for your own babies or grandbabies:

First, I flipped through baby books at the store and googled baby book pages to get ideas for what type of things I’d want to write down (baby shower info, the baby's “firsts,” etc.). I ended up relying mostly on these printable pages, customizing them to my needs. I'll add a family tree chart, too.

I and went to the store for a cute binder (not vinyl, which isn't photo-safe), some acid-free cardstock and polypropylene envelopes. Here’s the binder:

The polypropylene envelopes (red was all I could find) got hole-punched and hold cards and other mementos:

I set up the pages in Word with fonts and borders I like (leaving a wider margin on one side for hole-punching), and printed them on the cardstock to fill in by hand. (You could type everything, if you want.):

An envelope on this page keeps baby shower memorabilia:

I also can print photos to include. A couple of tips for expectant families: Scan ultrasound images because the originals tend to fade quickly. Also, a friend advised me to take some cardstock to the hospital because the staff might make extra footprints for me.


Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun | Photos
Friday, January 21, 2011 8:48:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, January 19, 2011
More in Store
Posted by Diane

We’ve added on to our ShopFamilyTree.com genealogy store! You’ll now find many more how-to, reference and other helpful genealogy books.

My favorite way to find stuff I need is to type the name of a place (such as a state or country) or research topic (such as military or photos) into the keyword search box in the top left corner of the store.

If you’re a VIP member, remember to log in (click My Account at the very top of the page) for your 10 percent discount.

Here’s a sampling of what’s new:

  • US State Research Guides: Click a state for a list of our familiar State Research Guides, plus new products related to research in that state.


Editor's Pick | Genealogy books
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 1:48:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Good News for Canadian Roots Researchers!
Posted by Diane

I’ve heard about some exciting developments for those researching Canadian roots, so I thought I’d lay ‘em out here:

Perhaps most thrilling for Canadian researchers, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the country’s main repository of historical records, has announced plans to put most of its services online within the next seven years—in time to celebrate the confederation’s 150th anniversary in 2017. That plan includes several goals, among them:

  • Starting this year, you'll be able order digital copies of documents in LAC’s collection; paper copies will be phased out by April.
  • Over the next year, LAC will double the volume of its already exceptional online content, adding millions of genealogy images in partnership with Ancestry.ca (sister site to Ancestry.com).

The Canadiana Discovery Portal is a beta site that lets you search more than 60 million pages of Canadian content from archive collections in libraries, museums, universities and government agencies across the country. Just type a search term, such as a name, place or topic, into the box on the home page. You’ll get digitized books, photos. audio and video You can sort results by relevance or newest/oldest, and filter by language, media (image, audio or video), contributing archive or date range covered.

You can raise your glass to this: Ancestry.ca is honoring the 225th anniversary of Molson Brewery with “mug-rattling” family stories of the Labatt and Molson families, Canada’s most famous brewers. One such tale you can read about in old newspapers: Harry Markland Molson, great-grandson of John Molson, perished with the Titanic in 1912. 

If you're looking for some guidance in your Candian roots research, here are some of Family Tree Magazine’s resources to check out:


Canadian roots | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 11:55:24 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Got the Picture? Using Your Digital Camera for Genealogy
Posted by Diane

The March 2011 Family Tree Magazine (now on newsstands) has a guide to using your digital camera for genealogical purposes—such as capturing images of gravestones, ancestral homes, family heirlooms and your ancestors’ records.

It’s not as simple as taking a quick snapshot, though. Before you start a genealogical photography session, create a shot list of the pictures you want. Here’s what we recommend:

Gravestones Shot List

  • cemetery entrance
  • whole cemetery
  • stones of interest, with nearby stones
  • the whole gravestone, showing the inscription and carving
  • close-ups of the inscription and carvings
  • any creative shots you want of the beautiful artwork and scenes in graveyards

Ancestral Homes Shot List

  • the entrance to the street (a view your ancestor may have seen every day)
  • the house with neighboring buildings
  • the whole house (we suggest first knocking on the door to let the current resident know why you're taking a picture of his house)
  • as many sides of the house as you can capture without trespassing
  • interesting architectural details
  • the yard
  • any features mentioned in family stories (such as the tree Grandpa fell out of as a boy)

Heirlooms Shot List

  • full view of heirloom
  • heirloom with a ruler to show size
  • all sides of heirloom item
  • close-ups of interesting details, such as carving or painting
  • close-ups of manufacturer’s marks
  • close-ups of damage or other features affecting value

Records And Documents Shot List

  • title page of film roll or book
  • full record (be sure to get each page)
  • close-ups of hard-to-read areas
What pictures would you add to our lists? Any tips for others photographing these ancestral items? Click Comments to share!

Family Tree Magazine articles | Photos | Research Tips
Tuesday, January 18, 2011 2:20:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [12]
# Friday, January 14, 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 10-14
Posted by Diane

  • The University of Texas at Austin has launched a new history website called Not Even Past to provide “dynamic, accessible, short articles on every field of history.” Using the Read, Watch, Discover, Listen and Texas links at the bottom of the page, you’ll find book excerpts and articles from history faculty and graduate students at the university. Content is sparse so far, but this could be a site worth keeping an eye on.

Libraries and Archives | Military records | NARA | Social History
Friday, January 14, 2011 2:46:09 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 13, 2011
Archives Launches Grant Program for Genealogy Research and Preservation
Posted by Diane

Are you working on a family history or historical preservation project for your family or community, but don't quite have the funds to complete it? Subscription genealogy website Archives is launching a grant program that may help.

Each month, a recipient will receive up to $1,000 to help fund a family history research or historical preservation project. The first grant will be awarded at the end this month.

The company is seeking any project that “contributes to the promotion and advancement of family history research and preservation.” That might be document preservation, historical artifact restoration, record transcription or promotion of historical events.

Both individuals (whether amateur or professional) and organizations (such as libraries, historical societies and archives) are eligible to apply.

You can learn more about the grant program on the application page and send questions to grant@archives.com.

See Archives’ full announcement here.


Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Historic preservation
Thursday, January 13, 2011 4:22:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Ancestry.com Adds Swedish Church Records from Genline
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com announced in its most recent member newsletter that the Swedish church records from Genline, the Swedish genealogy website Ancestry.com purchased last summer, have now become part of Ancestry.com's online databases (they're still available on Genline). 

The records, dating from 1500 to 1937, comprise nearly 18 million images scanned from microfilm and microfiche of the original church records. The collection includes births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, burials, household examinations (akin to censuses), parish books, moving-ins and moving-outs.

You can learn more about these records here


Ancestry.com | International Genealogy
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 2:59:24 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Family Tree Firsts Blog: The Mysterious Michael Shively
Posted by Diane

Over at our Family Tree Firsts blog, newbie genealogist Nancy Shively (who you may recall was selected last November to blog about her research experiences) can't stop thinking about Michael, born in 1807, the oldest Shively on her tree. Information-wise, he still remains stubbornly out of reach.

Read about two neighboring Indiana land patents and other clues Nancy has found to the mysterious Michael’s whereabouts.

Also, Nancy mentions a Cincinnati connection that clicked for me—I wonder if a local park called LaBoiteaux Woods is named for the family of Michael’s first wife, Keziah Laboyteaux?


Family Tree Firsts | Research Tips
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 11:48:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Write Your Family History: Tips to Get it Together
Posted by Diane

One of the newest course offerings over at Family Tree University is an eight-week master class designed to help you make progress, step by step, on writing a family history book or personal memoir.

In the first half of Write Your Family History, you'll craft an outline for your book and start putting your family's legacy down on paper. The second half of the course is a workshop, in which you'll share your writing with instructor and professional writer Sunny McClellan Morton, and receive feedback on how to move forward. 

The Write Your Family History master class starts Jan. 17, and you can use coupon code FTU114 for 20 percent off your registration and a free 2011 desk calendar.

Here’s an excerpt on gathering and organizing your thoughts:

One of the most important habits you can cultivate as a personal or family historian is keeping a journal. Chances are you already keep one or have in the past; many writers do so almost instinctively. If you aren't in the habit of recording your personal thoughts, now's the time to make journaling a part of your routine.

Use whatever style suits you for writing your journal—you're the only one who will see what you write. Any scrap of memory or personal impression may become important later, so just get everything down now and worry about sorting it all out when the time comes. 

When you start thinking about writing a memoir or family history, it's natural to feel overwhelmed—so many colorful characters, inspiring stories, and dates and places to keep straight. You'll need to make some choices, perhaps difficult ones, about what will and won't fit into your book. Before you begin writing, it's important to devise a plan to organize your ideas and the information you'll be gathering as you complete your research.

We suggest you start by filling in the beginning and ending dates of your book, so you have the boundaries of your complete dateline. Then associate an event with each date. Use only a few key words or a phrase to denote each event—just enough to jog your memory when you refer to the dateline later.

After you've filled in as many dates and events as you can at this point, go back and determine the historical theme relevant to each event. The historical theme is crucial to your story; it will help place your "characters" into historical perspective.

Here are two examples of personal events with their historical themes:

Date: 3 June 1907
Event: Eleanor arrives alone at Ellis Island.
Historical theme: What was it like for a woman to go through processing at Ellis Island on her own?

Date: 25 Apr 1920
Event: Uncle Harry moves to Florida and buys land.
Historical theme: What drew people to Florida in the 1920s?

Register for Write Your Family History at Family Tree University.com (remember to use coupon code FTU114).


Editor's Pick | Family Heirlooms | Family Tree University
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 4:42:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Eight Genealogy Programs Receive User Choice Awards
Posted by Diane

Checking out reviews is a great step to help you decide which genealogy software program is best for you. The website GenSoftReviews, which has gathered more than 720 reviews in two years, has named its 2010 Users Choice Award recipients.

All programs with at least 10 reviews and user ratings of 4 or higher out of 5 received the Users Choice Award. Those are (in order starting with the highest-ranked):

You can get quick facts about these programs, as well as links to Family Tree Magazine reviews, from our free online Genealogy Software Guide.

See the full GenSoftReviews User Choice Awards announcement here.

What's your favorite genealogy software, and why? Click Comments to let us know.


Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:34:25 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, January 10, 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 3-7
Posted by Diane

Here's our weekly news roundup from last week:

The $99 early bird registration ends Jan. 15 for the RootsTech 2011 conference, taking place Feb. 10-12 in Salt Lake City. Learn more about the conference and register on the RootsTech website

RootsMagic is offering several free webinars to help you use your RootsMagic genealogy software. You can view the available classes and register on RootsMagic.com. Classes are limited to the first thousand people; a recordings will be available for viewing after a class takes place. 

Ancestry.com has made Family Tree Maker For Mac available for download from the new Mac App Store for $99.99. Learn more about the program at FamilyTreeMaker.com. The software also is available from Ancestry.com’s online store

A TV show in the works is looking for “families who reinvent traditional dishes to reflect their unique cultural backgrounds and their love of American cuisine.” The show also seeks family stories that revolve around food. See the casting call and instructions for responding on the Geneabloggers blog

The British genealogy subscription website Findmypast.co.uk has published more than 9 million records from the Society of Genealogists in London. They include Boyd’s Marriage Index (1538 to 1840), Boyd’s London Burials (1538 to 1872), Faculty Office Marriage License Allegations (1701 to 1850), Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Index (1750 to 1800) and more. You can search indexes and transcriptions with a FindMyPast subscription or pay-per-view credits, then order copies of some original records from the Society of Genealogists. More of the records will become available during 2011.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Monday, January 10, 2011 9:33:30 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 06, 2011
4 Reasons Why You Should Sign up for the MA Webinar Today
Posted by Grace

Our next webinar, the Massachusetts Genealogy Crash Course, will be happening live at 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Jan. 18. If you've got Northeastern ancestors, you're a lucky duck. If you haven't signed up already, here are four reasons why you should -- and fast:

4. We've got three top Massachusetts experts lined up: David Dearborn, Midge Frazel and David Lambert.

3. You get to ask them your most pressing questions about Massachusetts research!

2. You get a copy of the Massachusetts State Research Guide and a PDF of the presentation slides.

1. The early bird discount -- $10 off -- ends Friday at midnight, so if you want to save some cash, sign up soon so you don't miss out.


Family Tree University | Webinars

Thursday, January 06, 2011 5:29:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Young Genealogists: Tips and a Grant to Attend the Jamboree!
Posted by Diane

Know a young person who's gung-ho about genealogy? Genealogy writer Denise Levenick is sponsoring a $500 grant to send a young genealogist (age 18 to 25 as of July 1) to the 2011 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, Calif. June 10-12.

The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant honors Levenick’s late mom, who worked with youth organizations and enjoyed attending last year’s Jamboree.

The application requirements and instructions are on Levenick’s The Family Curator website

We get questions pretty regularly about how to interest younger kids in genealogy. You’ll find our suggestions in these free articles:

Now I’d like to open it up to you: What genealogy projects have you done with your kids, grandkids or students? What are your tips for holding their interest? Click Comments to share your ideas.


Genealogy Events | Genealogy for kids
Thursday, January 06, 2011 4:55:07 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Book Sheds New Light on Atlantic Slave Trade
Posted by Diane

I came across an article about a book you might be interested in, especially if your ancestors were African slaves or involved in the slave trade.

Between 1492 and about 1820, four enslaved Africans left the Old World for every European migrant. According to Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by David Eltis and David Richardson, we know more about this forced migration than about European migration during the time. That’s because the slave trade generated profits, which usually meant record-keeping.

The book is based in part on the data in the online Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, which Eltis co-edited, containing information on 35,000 slave voyages from Africa to the Americas. (Read our post about the database's online debut in 2008.)

Detailed maps in the book show how almost every port in the Atlantic world at the time organized and sent out a slave voyage. Almost half of those voyages came from ports in the Americas.

The data let the authors determine trading patterns, for example, the United States drew more slaves from the area of Senegambia south to Liberia (on Africa’s west coast) than did any other part of the Americas. The authors also found the slave trade was going strong at the time it was finally suppressed.

The book also gives you a more personal look at the trade with information about people and conditions on board the ships, as well as writings from and images of a few passengers. You can read more about it in the article here, and find it listed on Amazon.com here

For help researching African-American roots, see the articles in our online toolkit. Find eight steps to get started tracing slave ancestors here.


African-American roots | Genealogy books
Wednesday, January 05, 2011 1:07:12 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Finding Massachusetts Ancestors
Posted by Diane


Whether your ancestors stepped onto Massachusetts soil from the Mayflower or immigrated later through one of the state’s busy ports, a wealth of genealogical records is yours to wade through. Our next webinar aims to help. 

Massachusetts Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Bay State Ancestors takes place Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain, 4 p.m. Pacific). Our expert presenters include

  • David Dearborn, staff genealogist with the New England Historic Genealogical Society
  • Midge Frazel, cemetery expert and Family Tree University instructor
  • David Lambert, New England Historic Genealogical Society online genealogist since 1993

You’ll learn essential Massachusetts history, tricks for locating records, details on vital and immigration records, primary ethnic groups and records they may have left, and the best websites for Massachusetts research. Here's a peek at some of Frazel's favorite sites:

Your registration for the live webinar includes:

  • Participation in the hour-long presentation and Q&A session
  • Access to the webinar recording to view as many times as you like
  • PDF of the presentation slides
  • PDF of our Massachusetts State Research Guide

The 20 percent off early-bird special ends soon, so register today.


Genealogy Web Sites | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Tuesday, January 04, 2011 2:19:35 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, January 03, 2011
While You (and I) Were Out
Posted by Diane

I hope you had some quality R&R over the holidays! I finished up my shopping and wrapping, hosted 35 relatives for a lively Christmas dinner (everyone pitched in, nobody spilled and we had a great time), continued preparations for the baby’s arrival in a month or so, caught up on past seasons of “Bones” on Netflix and packed away the holiday decorations. A relaxing and productive break.

It’s hard making your brain return from vacationland and get back to work (at least it is for me), but here goes! Here are some genealogical goings-on from the past coupla weeks, including a few announcements from FamilySearch:
  • FamilySearch also has started several new volunteer indexing projects, including US censuses, tax and vital records, and its first project in Polish. See the FamilySearch blog for details on each project and a contact link if you can volunteer.
  • British genealogy site Genes Reunited has added the original householder schedules for the entire 1911 UK and Wales census. The records are available by subscription or on a pay-per-view basis.
  • A.C. Ivory, one of the young genealogists profiled in the November 2010 Family Tree Magazine (in one of my most favorite articles I’ve worked on), has given his Find My Ancestor website and blog a new look. You’ll find new downloads and resources, a new logo, easier navigation, social media integration and more.
  • Those named to new positions in the genealogy world include Matt Wright as editor of the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ electronic quarterly, FGS FORUM; and Laura Murphy DeGrazia and Karen Mauer Green as co-editors of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s New York Genealogical and Biographical Record

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Monday, January 03, 2011 5:26:38 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]