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# Thursday, 31 March 2011
Ohio Genealogical Society Conference
Posted by jamie

The Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference kicks off today in Columbus. Throughout the weekend, genealogists will share tips and best practices, and family history organizations and companies will exhibit their products.

The keynote speaker for the conference is David E. Rencher, chief genealogical officer of FamilySearch International, who will address attendees at 8 a.m. Friday. In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Rencher said he will announce that a number of Ohio records will be soon be available online for the first time on (Click here to read the entire interview.)

Our publisher and editorial director Allison Stacy is at the OGS conference representing Family Tree Magazine, and she is sharing a booth with our podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke. If you're attending the conference, be sure to drop by our booth and say hello.

Genealogy Events
Thursday, 31 March 2011 13:58:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Family Tree University Civil War Research Course
Posted by jamie

The Civil War — also known as the War of the Rebellion or the War of Northern Aggression, depending which side your ancestors were on — generated more casualties, dissention and records than any other conflict in American history. If your ancestors lived in the United States between 1861 and 1865, they undoubtedly felt the effects of the war. And if they were males in their prime, they probably served in a military unit.

If you're ready to learn more about your Civil War roots, then our Family Tree University Civil War Research course is for you. Let FTU instructor Diana Crisman Smith teach you the organization and structure of the militaries and militias, what sources to look for on the home front, how to order compiled service records, and how to find pension records and veterans organizations.

The next session starts April 11, just in time to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the war between the states, and lasts four weeks. Click here to register.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree University
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 12:01:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Shop Family Tree March 30 and Donate to Japan
Posted by jamie

Like the most of the world, we awoke March 11, to the shocking news that a massive earthquake rocked Japan. Watching tragedy unfold halfway across the world — the aftershocks, tsunami and threat of a nuclear meltdown — left us wondering how we could help.

So, we're donating half of all profits from purchases made on Wednesday, March 30, to the American Red Cross. The organization is currently on the ground in Japan supplying people with temporary housing, food, water and other necessities, and it needs our help more than ever.

We hope you'll join our campaign to help Japan by shopping with us Wednesday. Click here to visit Sales
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 12:30:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
Tech Tips with Lisa Louise Cooke: Online Family History Books
Posted by Lisa

Canadian author and genealogist Dave Obee recently opined on his Facebook page, “I've been hearing about the pending death of the book for several years now. One of these days, the prediction might turn out to be true.”

Obee’s comment kicked off an interesting online conversation. For many genealogists, the surge in online books can sound like a threat to the paper tome. But, as with all things, the market drives business and innovation, and the convenience and flexibility of digital books is very appealing. Here are some Tech Tips to help you dive in and reap the benefits of this growing phenomenon:

Get Started
Allison Stacy, editor of Family Tree Magazine, made this great video for getting started with Google Books.

See How Other Genealogists Use Google Books
Miriam Robbins Midkiff, author of the popular genealogy blog AnceStories: The Story of My Ancestors was featured in this video produced by Google.

Search Within a Book
After conducting your initial search and selecting a particular book, you can search within that book by simply typing specific keywords in the search box found in the column on the left side of the book’s page. This box searches only the book currently being viewed and makes quick work of finding a desired surname on individual pages of a large volume. (Find this tip in my new book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.)

Keep Up To Date
The Inside Google Books blog is a great way to keep up to date on the latest news at Google Books. Add the RSS feed to your iGoogle page or favorite reader by simply clicking the Feedburner button found in the column on the right.

Google eBooks
Have you noticed that the Google Books homepage looks different these days? That’s because they have introduced the Google eBookstore to the offering. Here’s a terrific little video that explains the benefits of online books in a fun and simple way:

Google eBooks
Don’t skip Google eBooks just because they offer books for sale. Try this handy tip to unearth free gems:

1. Go to Google Books.
2. Click blue Go to the Google eBookstore Now button
3. Type family history in the search box and click the Search All Google eBooks button.
4. Click the Free Only link in the light blue box at the top of the page.
5. You’ll get a results list full of free books, many hard to find self-published family histories.

Look Elsewhere
When it comes to digital family history books, Google Books isn’t the only game in town Check out the Family History Archive, then watch the video below to learn more about how to use this robust resource.

I've had such a great time sharing Tech Tips with you these last 2 months. Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll join me at the free Family Tree Magazine podcast and Genealogy Gems podcast for more lively conversation about genealogy!

—Lisa Louise Cooke

Genealogy books | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice | Videos
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 09:12:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 28 March 2011
Give us Your Feedback and get 15 Percent Off
Posted by jamie

Penny for your thoughts? Well, maybe not a penny, but how does 15 percent off at sound? Just fill out the Family Tree Magazine subscriber survey and we'll send you a 15 percent off coupon code and an opportunity to win one of 10 great prizes as our way of saying thanks.

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete, and your responses will be extremely helpful for planning and improving both Family Tree Magazine and Thank you, in advance, for completing this subscriber survey. We look forward to receiving your valuable input!

Click here to complete the subscriber survey. Sales
Monday, 28 March 2011 16:23:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Sunday, 27 March 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 6 Recap
Posted by jamie

Spoiler Alert: If you don't already know what happened during Steve Buscemi's episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” you are about to find out.

 "Who Do You Think You Are?" has been on hiatus for a few weeks, so I've really been jonesin' for the NBC family history hit. And Steve Buscemi's episode delivered a one-two punch of drama and mystery that had me on the edge of my seat.

Buscemi, a native New Yorker, began his genealogy journey by meeting with his parents. His family wanted to know more about his mother's ancestry because Amanda Van Dine, Buscemi's mother's mother, took her own life in 1928, leaving a void on in the family tree.

The death certificate of Amanda Van Dine's mother, Jane Van Dine, reveals her parent's names, Julia Vanderhof and Ralph Montgomery, as well as her address when she died. Coincidentally, the address is now a restaurant Buscemi frequents.

The 1880 census lists Jane Montgomery as an 11-year-old live-in servant in Camden, N.J. A researcher explains to Buscemi that it was common for children to enter the workforce, especially poverty stricken families.

Buscemi then searches's user-uploaded family trees to find more on Jane Montgomery's parents. Another user has posted a tree with information about Ralph Montgomery, who was born in 1834 in Milton, Pa. Buscemi contacts the person who made the tree, to get more info from them.

In the mean time, he heads to Harrisburg, Pa., to visit state archives. Ralph Montgomery is listed as a dentist in tax records, but the 1860 census indicates he was a grocer and married to woman named Margaret with two young children. Buscemi is stunned to learn his great-great grandfather had a family before he married Buscemi's great-great grandmother Julia Vanderhof.

Buscemi then takes to microfilmed copies of the Pennsylvania Telegraph to try to learn more. He discovers a small snippet about a suicide note signed by Ralph Montgomery found near the Susquehanna River. Clearly, he did not complete suicide, but this must have been a particularly trying time for Ralph Montgomery.

Court records reveal Ralph Montgomery was charged with assault and battery in 1859, but the charges were later dropped. He disappears from tax records in 1861, the year the Civil War began.

This leads Buscemi to search military records. Muster cards reveal Ralph Montgomery enlisted in Pennsylvania's 91st regiment. He deserted June 1962 in Alexandria, Va., a common occurrence for a citizen army, and returned August 1962. He fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, a bloody loss for the Union. After fighting another battle, he deserted for the last time. (For more on the war between the states, see Life in Civil War America.)

The special Civil War veterans schedule of the 1890 Census lists Ralph's first wife Margaret as a widow; she assumed Ralph was dead when her husband never came home.

Buscemi then get a hold of Ralph Montgomery's New Jersey death certificate. The document indicates he was a dentist and died of tuberculosis. He was buried in strangers row, where indigent or unknown people were buried in unmarked graves.

Buscemi then returns to Brooklyn to meet the person who posted the family tree. Carol Olive, Buscemi's third cousin, reveals Julia Vanderhof, Ralph Montgomery's second wife, remarried to Charles Brandenburg. Her children who were working as servants, including Jane, are again living with their mother in Brooklyn in the 1892 New York census. (For more on Empire State ancestors, see our on-demand webinar.)

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.

And if you haven't already, check out the bonus scenes for each episode of "WDYTYA?" on

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War
Sunday, 27 March 2011 10:39:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, 25 March 2011
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire 100 Years Later
Posted by jamie

The top three floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory blazed shortly before quitting time March 25, 1911, trapping 146 people, mostly women, in the inferno.

A stray cigarette or match dropped into a bin of fabric scraps is credited with starting the the fire. The exits were locked by supervisors, who claimed the workers would steal things if they weren't carefully monitored, trapping them inside. Fire ladders and hoses couldn't reach the top floors. The fire escape collapsed under the weight of fleeing workers. Many women jumped to their death rather than burn alive.

The Triangle factory is near the Lower East Side, a hub of Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s, so many Jewish women worked at the factory and consequently died in the fire. The factory still stands and is now a New York University classroom building, with three plaques memorializing the devastation. (Click here for more on Jewish women in the fire.)

Ironically, the very garment these women were making under deplorable labor conditions is viewed historically as a liberating fashion. The shirtwaist (depicted below) was paired with a skirt to give women more physical mobility, which lead to social mobility as women flooded into the workforce and into the streets to claim their independence. It was certainly a far cry from the bustles, hoop skirts and corsets that confined women for generations prior.

A woman wearing a shirtwaist and skirt |

A list of the victims reveals horrifying details about the dead. Ignazia Bellotta's body was identified by the heel of her shoe. Esther Harris died after she broke her back climbing down an elevator chute. The stocking of Julia Rosen was stuffed with $842, several years worth of wages and the equivalent of $19,000 today. Srar Kupla survived her eight-story jump to escape the fire for fire days before she died. (View the entire victim list here.)

Six of the 146 people who died in the fire remained unidentified for nearly 100 years, until independent researcher Michael Hirsch matched the victims with their names and relatives. After the fire, investigators had assumed these unidentified victims were recent immigrants with no family in the United States to claim the bodies.

And while the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was a horrifying American tragedy, it spurred sweeping reforms, including new safety and fire regulations, child labor laws and workman's compensation. It also ignited the American labor movement and union membership.

If you subscribe to HBO, catch the documentary "Triangle: Remembering the Fire". It premiered March 21, but check local listings for repeats or visit HBO's website for more information.

We also created this slide show of photos from the fire.

For more on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, visit Cornell's website.

Friday, 25 March 2011 13:30:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 23 March 2011
20 Percent Off Family Tree University Courses
Posted by jamie

If you've been looking to boost your family history search skills, one of our interactive Family Tree University courses may give you the jumpstart you need. The next session starts Monday, March 28, and here's what we're offering:
Use coupon code FTU0311 when you register to get 20 percent off your course, and you'll also receive the Organization Made Easy expert webinar free.

Family Tree University
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 14:47:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Free Civil War Webinar
Posted by jamie

Good news, family historians! We're offering one of our interactive online seminars for free to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Learn what life was really like during the war between the states for the soldiers who fought and died in the conflict, as well as the civilians they left behind at home. Take a virtual trip back to the 1860s with Michael O. Varhola, the author of the new book Life in Civil War America, to discover what your ancestors wore, said, ate, earned, did for fun and more.

Registration for the live session includes:
* participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
* access to the webinar recording to view again as many times as you like
* PDF of the presentation slides for future reference
* coupon for purchase of Life in Civil War America or 2011 Civil War desk calendar

The Life in Civil War America webinar is scheduled for April 6 at 2 p.m. Click here to reserve your spot.

If you cannot attend the free webinar when it is being broadcast, you can still access the recording and handouts afterward by registering for the webinar. Click here to register.

Civil War | Webinars
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 12:21:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Federal Judge Blocks Google Books Expansion
Posted by jamie

Hopes of expanding the already voluminous Google Books collection (7 million books and counting) were shelved by a New York federal district court Tuesday, the ruling citing anti-trust concerns.

Google previously reached a settlement with authors and publishers to digitize and display excerpts of out-of-print books, even if the materials are not in the public domain or explicitly authorized by publishers to appear in Google Books. This agreement was challenged by the Authors Guild and subsequently struck down because it gave Google a virtual monopoly on digitized books. The settlement also raised privacy rights concerns because it would allow Google to track the books users read.

Despite the setback, the current digital collection allows users to search and preview books, periodicals and other materials from libraries and publishers around the world. Google books is an especially useful tool for genealogists, as users can often find complete copies of published genealogies, directories, local histories and other useful materials. (We've bookmarked some of our favorite family history titles in our Google Books library.)

For more on using Google Books for genealogy, read this Genealogy Insider blog post or watch the video below:

Genealogy books
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 09:49:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Only 50 Ultimate Family History Starter Collections Left
Posted by jamie

Each month we'll release a new collection of carefully selected, discounted products to help you achieve your genealogy goals. A limited number of copies of each collection will be available, so get ‘em while the getting’s good.

For March, we've put together the Ultimate Family History Starter Collection. This multimedia bundle brings you our most invaluable tips, tricks and how-tos to help you jump start your genealogy research. There are only 50 copies of this collection left for March.

The Ultimate Family History Starter Collection contains:
  • Discover Your Roots Spring 2011 digital issue
  • Family Tree Essentials CD
  • Beginner's Guide to Genealogy digital download
  • Your Unofficial Guide to Tips, Hints and Hacks for Finding Your Ancestors on-demand webinar
  • Family Tree Magazine Web Guides CD
  • Discover Your Family Tree Family Tree University course
If all the items were purchased separately, the price would add up to $122.94, but we've bundled them together for $49.99. Save $72.95 by purchasing the Ultimate Family History Starter Collection on

Tuesday, 22 March 2011 14:05:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
Tech Tips with Lisa Louise Cooke: WDYTYA Revisited & Photo Gems
Posted by Lisa

When I got back from the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in London at the end of February, I not only had a bag full of dirty laundry, but a slew of recorded interviews with fascinating genealogy experts, exhibit hall brochures, treasured purchases and a mountain of digital photographs.

After firing up the washing machine, I sat down at my desk and wondered what I would do with all those JPEG jewels. Photographs capture once-in-a-lifetime moments and treasured family memories that we certainly don’t want to forget. But assembling them in a way that can be enjoyed for years to come is not as simple as it was in the old days when we sat down to our scrapbooks and prints.

Here are three tips for assembling your precious pics in a way that will delight you and those you share them with:

Go Interactive
Genealogy Blogger Mark Tucker recently emailed me a link to one of his posts on, a website that allows you to create interactive displays of your favorite photos. This is really slick for high-resolution shots that you want your audience to explore more in depth.

Here’s a of Hinchingbrooke House just north of London. If you’re a regular listener of my Genealogy Gems podcast, then you will not only know the significance of this house to the Cooke family, but also how incredible it is that I have any photographs of this part of our trip at all! (Hear the full story in episode 106.)

To learn more about how to use yourself and to see a great example of how it can be used with your own family history photos, check out Mark’s post Interactive Online Family History Photos.

Create a Photo Collage
When assembling a presentation of photos, sometimes less is more. By picking out the cream of the crop, you’ll ensure that your audience will stay enthralled.

But when it comes to creating a photograph collage with, more is better After downloading all of my photos to my hard drive, I just went to and downloaded the free software, navigated to the folder of photos on my hard drive and added them. By selecting Text and typing "WDYTYA” my photos assembled themselves in a creative way to tell the viewer what they were all about.

Video Slideshow
Video production software can also do a nice job of showing off your pics. Here’s my collection spanning the three days of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011. It’s the next best thing to being there!

Photos | Tech Advice
Tuesday, 22 March 2011 08:38:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 17 March 2011
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day With Our Free Roots Resources
Posted by jamie

St. Patrick's Day started as a celebration of Ireland's patron saint. During the 5th century, a shepherd was called to serve the people of Ireland through the Catholic church, taking on the Christian name Patrick.

According to legend, Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, but the island had no snakes at that time; this is most likely a metaphor for him converting the Irish to Christianity and driving out paganism. Another myth has Patrick using the Shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity.

The holiday falls on March 17, because that is the day Patrick died. Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. The day is widely celebrated in America as a recognition of Irish heritage.

Celebrate your Irish heritage with our roots resources:

For more on St. Patrick's Day, watch a video by the History Channel here.

Family Tree Magazine articles | International Genealogy
Thursday, 17 March 2011 08:37:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Online Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by jamie

Jump start you family history search with our Online Genealogy Crash Course. Stop wasting time aimlessly wandering the web — learn how to find your roots online in four hour-long video classes. This DVD brings you recorded webinars with family history experts. Discover valuable tips and tricks for googling your ancestors, using census and vital records websites, and searching the grandmother of all genealogy websites,

The DVD contains these tutorials:
Search Engine Tips and Tricks
Streamline Google searches with techniques for using search engines efficiently and effectively. You'll learn:
    •    tips for phrasing your searches
    •    how to tailor your searches to fetch what you're looking for
    •    hints for tools such as Google Books and News Archive
    •    presented by Lisa Louise Cooke

Online Census Secrets

All US census records are online, but finding your ancestor isn't as easy as typing in a name — you need to know where to look and how to make the most of census websites. You'll learn:
    •    key facts about US censuses
    •    how to access free online census records
    •    search strategies for locating hard-to-find ancestors
    •    presented by Allison Stacy and Diane Haddad

Vital Records
Vital records are keys to any genealogical pursuit. We'll show you the basics of how to locate vital records online. You'll learn:
    •    major sites with vital records and indexes
    •    how to get offline records with the help of online resources
    •    presented by Lisa Louise Cooke

Unofficial Guide to

We'll show you insider tricks and techniques for teasing out ancestor information from the site's tens of thousands of databases. You'll learn:
    •    tricks for finding the databases you need
    •    tips for finding elusive ancestors
    •    presented by David A. Fryxell

As a bonus, when you order our Online Genealogy Crash Course, you will receive a coupon for 20 percent off a live webinar. Visit for more information and to preorder this DVD.

Editor's Pick | Sales
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 14:17:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1] Unveils Irish Collection
Posted by jamie has launched a new collection of Irish records in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

The collection contains records Irish historical documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including maps, photographs and land records.

The Irish Collection, 1824-1910
  • Griffiths Valuation, 1847-1864: Over 2.5 million records that provide a snapshot of ancestors who rented land or property throughout Ireland in the 1850s
  • Tithe Applotment Books, 1824-1837: In 1823, a law was enacted requiring all land holders to pay a tithe to the Church of Ireland, regardless of their religious affiliation. With details like tithe payer, acreage of their land and amount of their tithe, these 600,000 records in effect provide a census of pre-famine Ireland.
  • Ordnance Survey Maps, 1824-1846: The first detailed mapping of Ireland undertaken during the 1830s and 1840s, the later part of which was produced during the height of the famine.
  • Lawrence Collection, 1870-1910: This collection of 20,000 photographs showcases the length and breadth of Ireland, through the eyes of William Lawrence's photography studio in Dublin.
Click here to search's Irish collection. | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 13:06:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
Free genealogy search engine launches
Posted by jamie

The world's largest free genealogy search engine,, launched today, providing family historians access to free genealogy content on the web.

Search engines like Google rank results by popularity, how recently the webpage was posted and how many times the webpage is linked to. But genealogy content may not be often linked to or refreshed regularly, so it may fall to the bottom of the rankings. Unlike other search engines,'s search results are indexed by people who chose exactly want the engine crawls. This allows users to tap into content that would be hard to find on Google. includes billions of names, dates and places worldwide, seeking to index all free online genealogy information. Rootsweb,, Allen County Public Library, Library of Congress, National Archives, Ellis Island, Find A Grave, various U.S. state archives, and tens of thousands of genealogy sites built by individuals are already searchable through

“ has the capacity to index every single piece of free genealogy content found anywhere on the web, and will be growing by leaps and bounds in the coming months”, said Cliff Shaw, the online genealogy heavyweight behind, the Smart Matching algorithm, GenForum, GenCircles, Family Tree Legends and “We expect to shortly offer all of the web’s free genealogy information, searchable and accessible to all -- something that has never been done before." also crawls free message boards on, but does not return results for premium content, like census images. is working to index FamilySearch content.

Click here to search

Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 12:41:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 14 March 2011
Tech Tips by Lisa Louise Cooke: How to Dig for Genealogy Gold
Posted by Lisa

The other day I was flipping through TV channels when I stumbled upon the reality TV show “Gold Rush Alaska.” As I got lured into watching a couple of episodes (they were running a marathon that day), it all looked very familiar:

Huge excavators were pulling up great bucketfuls of material from the ground. The huge volume of earth would then tumble its way down sifting machines, eventually run across a wave table. The ultimate goal was to sift out the gold nuggets.

Then it hit me: That’s what we do with Google!

Yes, more than once after doing a simple search I have felt like a huge bucket full of earth had been dropped on me. I would stare at the hundreds of thousands of results and wonder, “How am I ever going to sift through all this to find my genealogy gems?” (This concept goes right back to the early days when I began the Genealogy Gems Podcast in 2007. My first gem was on Google, and I have frequently featured the search powerhouse on the show ever since.)

On the show, newbie miners were struggling to figure out which specialized tools they needed to sift immense quantities of dirt and rocks down to the type of material that carries the gold -- the fine black dirt. Then they had to use another set of unique tools to sift the fine black dirt in hopes of finding gold nuggets.

So what are the right tools for the job of sifting through the seemingly endless material on the Internet? And how do we get that unwanted material out of the way so we can get down to the good stuff where our genealogy gems may be hidden?

In the first installment of this Tech Tips Blog Series I shared with you one of my favorite “sifters” –- the dot dot dot (…) technique. But that is just one of a cache of search sifting tools -- known in the search world as operators -- available to family history researchers. Let me share a few more favorites from my new book The Genealogist's Google Toolbox (Genealogy Gems Publications)

Understand the underlying concept: Search is art, not a science!
While search operators behave scientifically and logically, we must construct our search queries artfully. Sometimes it’s what you add in, and sometimes it’s what you leave out, that determines the quality of your results.

Exact phrase sifter
When you want to find an exact phrase in a website, enclose the phrase in quotation marks. For example, “U.S. federal census” will bring up websites with that exact phrase and eliminate all other variations.

Words apart search
While quotation marks can help you zero in, in some cases they may actually prevent the ideal results. (There’s that “art” thing again.)

We have to keep in mind that sometimes the words that we are looking for won’t appear next to each other even though they normally do. For example, you may be looking for a city directory, and normally you would expect to see the two words together as a phrase: city directory. But by using an asterisk to set them apart, you may find the perfect result that searching for them together may have missed.

city * directory

Results could include:

city phone directory

city telephone directory

city and county directory

Related Search
For this little gem, watch my video from the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel.

I hope these gems bring you a family history strike! Good luck!

Genealogy books | Podcasts | Research Tips | Tech Advice
Monday, 14 March 2011 23:24:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 11 March 2011
News Corral: March 11
Posted by jamie

Ireland's archival collections are now indexed online on the Irish Archives Resource website. The collection includes records of current and defunct government and local government agencies, individuals, landed estates, clubs, societies, trade unions, religious organizations, and cultural and political organizations. Click here to search the collection.

Early-bird registration ends today for the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference, scheduled for May 11-14 in Charleston, S.C. Editors from Family Tree Magazine will be exhibiting there, so make sure to stop by our booth for free handouts and special prices on CDs and books. Register for the conference here.

The 1916 census of Canada's western provinces is now available at the Library and Archives of Canada website. Unfortunately, the census has yet to be indexed, so searching for individuals will be slow unless you know exactly where to look. Click here for more information.

Family Tree Firsts blogger Nancy Shively received our special Civil War issue of Family Tree Magazine in the mail, and she's using it to explore her Confederate roots. Read her full story on

And while we're on the subject of the Civil War, the Confederate constitution was adopted 150 years ago today. Click here to view the original document.

Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, 11 March 2011 15:24:16 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Classes Starting Monday with a Coupon!
Posted by Grace

The next batch of Family Tree University courses starts on Monday, March 14. Click through on any of the titles below to learn more and sign up! PS: If you use the coupon code FTU0311 you'll get 20 percent off your registration in any March course! See all of Family Tree University's courses here.

Family Tree University
Friday, 11 March 2011 14:37:45 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Lesson Learned and Family History Innovation
Posted by Lisa

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the new and innovative RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. (Check out my blog about it here.) The wide range of family history and technology developer classes was something we really haven’t seen in mainstream genealogy conferences. And the exhibit hall was hands-down the most exciting high-tech genealogy space (and most expensive!) that family historians have ever seen.

It was quite amazing considering it was a first time event for FamilySearch. As Jay Verkler commented in my interview with him, they fully expected to make a few mistakes here and there, and strive for continuous improvements. The commitment has been made: RootsTech will be an annual event, and it will just get better and better.

While FamilySearch’s RootsTech roared onto the genealogy scene, it was the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event in London (Check out my blog about it here.) that featured a simple and yet very effective technological component: hands-on computer access.

As I scoured the vast aisles of the Olympia Conference Centre, everywhere I looked attendees were not just browsing exhibits, but they were also interacting with them. While there were banks of computers provided by FamilySearch in both the Internet Café area and the Family History Library area of the exhibit hall at RootsTech, a hands on experience was not the norm at most vendor booths. Of course, the challenge for vendors is that power hookup at events like these can be quite costly, and yet exhibit stalls from the largest to the smallest seem to be able to pull it off at Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

Having the ability to put their hands on keyboards, test drive software, search for ancestors kept attendees fully engaged and prolonged their stay at each stall. The level of engagement achieved at WDYTYA? Live is a great role model for future RootsTech conferences. Perhaps FamilySearch can work to negotiate lower fees in exchange for a larger number of power and Internet hookups. As so often happens with technology, it’s the access and hardware that tend to be the biggest hurdles, as there is no lack of interest or innovation!

And speaking of innovation, check out my newest video interview with Mike Dowdle of GenerationStation. Mike is the perfect example of someone who saw a need, had an idea, and succeeded in converging technology and family history into a cool new website tool.

You can view many more videos recorded at the RootsTech 2011 conference at the the Genealogy Gems Podcast Channel at YouTube.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun
Friday, 11 March 2011 10:10:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 10 March 2011
Family Tree 40 Best Blogs Winners
Posted by jamie

Genealogy blogs are serving a more and more important role in family history research. Anyone with internet access can maintain their own blog, sharing their best tips, research stories, information about their ancestors and more. Even our Family Tree Firsts blogger Nancy Shively has stumbled upon distant cousins by chronicling her research online.

Blogs are invaluable to the online genealogy community; that's why we started the Family Tree 40, our annual roundup of the best genealogy blogs as decided by our readers. The results are in — visit for a roundup of all the winners.

Family Tree Magazine articles
Thursday, 10 March 2011 15:03:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 09 March 2011
March Madness for Genealogists Free Webinars
Posted by jamie

If you're not a basketball fan, join Family Tree Magazine contributor Lisa A. Alzo for her March Madness for Genealogists free webinar series. Space is limited to the first 100 attendees, so you must reserve a spot to participate.

The available webinars include:
Getting Started in Genealogy: The Basics
Saturday, March 12, 1:00 p.m. EST
Register here.

Silent Voices: Tips and Tricks for Tracing Female Ancestors
Saturday, March 19, 1:00 p.m. EST
Register here.

Life Stories: How to Write a Compelling Family History Narrative
Saturday, March 26, 1:00 p.m. EST
Register here.

Read more about the free webinars on Lisa's blog The Accidental Genealogist.

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 11:45:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 08 March 2011 News Corral
Posted by jamie ended 2010 with 1.4 million subscribers, up 31 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009. The genealogy website also posted sales of $82.7 million for 2010, up 38 percent from a year earlier. Read the full financial report here.

If you have a British black sheep in the family, you may be in luck. has published parole records of some of the United Kingdom female prisoners sentenced during 1853 to 1871, and 1883 to 1187. The database includes 4,400 records and 500 photos, and is available to U.S. members with a world subscription. Click here to search the Licenses of Parole for Female Convicts collection.
Ever wish you could access your family history easily anywhere? Now there's an app for that. has unveiled a new genealogy app for iPad and iPhone. The Ancestry app features multi-generational family trees complete with images of family records and photos, giving users access to their family history on the go. The app is available as a free download in the iTunes Store. | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, 08 March 2011 14:13:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Our Civil War Issue on Sale Now
Posted by jamie

We're celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War by devoting our May 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine to the war between the states. In this issue, we give you the inside scoop on tracing Blue and Gray ancestors, tips for preserving military uniforms, a guide to ordering an official military grave marker and more. It even includes a special excerpt from our new book Life in Civil War America.

Our special Civil War issue of Family Tree Magazine goes on sale today. Look for it on newsstands or purchase a copy from

Editor's Pick | Sales
Tuesday, 08 March 2011 09:36:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Saturday, 05 March 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 5 Recap
Posted by jamie

Spoiler Alert: If you don't already know what happened during Lionel Richie's episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” you are about to find out.

Singer-songwriter Lionel Ritchie explored his great-grandfather's history on his episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Richie began his journey at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where his mother, father and grandmother were professors. Gathering clues with his sister, Richie uses his grandmother's Social Security application to find her father's name — John Louis Brown.

He heads to his grandmother's birthplace of Nashville to learn more about J.L. Richie searches an old marriage registry and finds J.L. married Volenderver Towson on April 6, 1890. An archivist then shows Richie a copy of a divorce complaint, revealing J.L. was 50 when he married the 15-year-old Towson. A judge grants the divorce because J.L. abandoned his young wife for over two years.

Perplexed, Richie searches city directories from the 1880s, which list J.L. as a member of a black fraternal organization Knights of Wise Men. The group, founded in 1879, offered financial benefits to all members for illness and death. The Knights of Wise Men was a prototype of modern organizations that propelled the Civil Rights Movement, and J.L. was the national leader of the group.

According to an 1891 Chattanooga, Tenn., newspaper article, the Knights of Wise Men eventually collapsed because the group had to pay out a large amount of death benefits at once during a small pox epidemic; the treasurer then ran off with what was left of the money. For more on researching African-American ancestors in newspapers, see our Family Tree University independent study course here.

A 1929 Chattanooga city directory reveals J.L. was caretaker at a black cemetery, Pleasant Gardens. J.L.'s death certificate indicates he was buried in that cemetery. The document also lists J.L.'s father as Morgan Brown and his mother as unknown.

Richie visits Pleasant Gardens, distraught to see the graves overrun by weeds and grass. J.L. is buried in the pauper section of the cemetery, where most of the graves are unmarked.

Richie then finds J.L.'s pension application. At first he thinks J.L. was a soldier in the Civil War, but he was actually body servant — a butler to soldiers. Slaves were hired out for this dangerous job, and free blacks did it for low pay. J.L.'s owner was listed on the pension application as Morgan W. Brown, meaning J.L. could have been a slave and his owner could have also been his father. Learn more about tracing slave ancestors here.

At the Nashville Public Library, Lionel discovers there are two Morgan Browns in the area: Dr. Morgan Brown and his son Morgan W. Brown. Dr. Brown's journal reveals he owned a working slave plantation and one of the slaves, Mariah, gave birth to a son, Louis, in 1839, an unusual notation for a master to make in his journal. Dr. Brown was about 80 years old when Louis was born, but his son Morgan W. Brown was 39 at the time. It is still unclear which Morgan Brown is J.L.'s father.

Dr. Brown wrote his will during Mariah's pregnancy, granting Mariah and her child freedom, land and money for education of the child upon Dr. Brown's death. It is unclear if the executor of the estate, Morgan W. Brown, carried out Dr. Brown's wishes. For more on researching African American ancestors, see our guide here.

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Civil War
Saturday, 05 March 2011 11:15:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 04 March 2011
News Corral: March 4
Posted by jamie

Genealogy has gone prime time. NBC gave "Who Do You Think You Are?" the green light for a third season. "Faces of America" will return to PBS for another season. And on this week's "Top Chef All-Stars," contestants traced their family treed and competed at Ellis Island, cooking up dishes based on their family's heritage. Read more about the genealogy TV trend here.

GenealogyBank is offering a yearly subscription to its newspaper collection for 75 percent off. This offer is good through March 14, and you can learn more on

Family Tree Firsts blogger Nancy Shively discovered her great-grandfather suddenly came into money and lost it all, and she's determined to find out more. Read her full story on

The last living World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, died Sunday. Buckles drove an Army ambulance in France in 1918, after lying about his age to recruiters. He was 110 years old. Read his full story here.

The National Archives at Atlanta will present a Civil War Symposium, a day-long program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The event features scholars and historians from leading archival and academic institutions, as well as an exhibit of 19th century African American newspapers. The symposium is slated for April 16 and costs $20 to attend. Visit NARA's website for more information.

Don't forget about our Ultimate Family History Starter Collection. This multimedia bundle brings you our most invaluable tips, tricks and how-tos to help you jump start your genealogy research. There are only 150 copies of this collection available through the end of March. There's more information in this Genealogy Insider blog post.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Family Tree Firsts | Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Friday, 04 March 2011 15:49:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Baby's First Family History Center Visit
Posted by Grace

Diane's on maternity leave for a few more weeks, but that hasn't stopped her from continuing her genealogy research. She brought baby Leo with her on a recent trip to a Family History Center to request some microfilm. I am sure he was a very popular guy! Look at those hands -- he's just itching to get his mitts on some microfiche.

If you're planning on taking a trip to a Family History Center for the first time, you've got to read our article "Family History Central" (available to Plus members) from the January 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

FamilySearch | Genealogy for kids | Genealogy fun

Friday, 04 March 2011 11:05:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 03 March 2011
Our Last Discover Who You Are Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by jamie

We celebrated the return of NBC’s "Who Do You Think You Are?" with a giveaway. While celebrities explore their genealogy on the show, we wanted to give you the opportunity to explore your own family history with our Discover Who You Are Sweepstakes!

Each week in February, readers entered the sweepstakes by commenting on the Genealogy Insider blog and our Facebook fan page. Our last lucky winner:

So what's the prize? Four lucky winners received Discover Your Roots Kits, which include a bookazine for genealogy beginners, a Family Tree University course, a subscription to Family Tree Magazine, our State Research Guides CD and the Family Tree Pocket Reference eBook — a $205 value.

We loved interacting with you all on Facebook and the blog. And while the sweepstakes is over, we hope you keep in touch.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy fun
Thursday, 03 March 2011 09:41:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 02 March 2011
Who Do You Think You Are? Live Wrap-up Report with Lisa Louise Cooke
Posted by Lisa

Once again, the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in London attracted thousands of eager visitors anxious to learn more about their family tree. It was my great pleasure to not only participate as a speaker this year, but also to report on the event for the Genealogy Insider.

The exhibition hall was packed for WDYTYA? Live.

According to Else Churchill, genealogist for the Society of Genealogists in the UK and organizer of the society’s workshops at the event, BBC Magazines Bristol has purchased a major share of the show from Brand Events, who has organized it for the last five years. The new owners will be managing the event from this point forward, and they are already busy making big plans.

I was very excited to bring a technology topic to the event with my Make Google Work Harder for Your Family History workshop. On the heels of RootsTech, WDYTYA? Live will be looking toward technology and social media and their role in genealogy, expanding those topic areas next year.

Lisa teaching her Google workshop at WDYTYA? Live.

Churchill and her team worked tirelessly to organize the Society of Genealogists workshops, and their Ask the Expert booth, spearheaded by Lori Weinstein, was a big hit once again. I participated in a 2 hour shift on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed working one on one with eager attendees.

Visitors also really appreciated the expanded gallery area upstairs and from what I could see, they made very good use of it. They found more room to roam in the military and photographic exhibit areas, plenty of tables and seating (where my husband and I held an impromptu family reunion with three other distant British Cooke cousins!), and even a pasty pie stand (which, of course, I felt obligated to taste test – yummy!).

One of the unique aspects of WDYTYA? Live is the inclusion of celebrities profiled on the BBC TV series "Who Do You Think You Are?" Monty Don ("Gardener’s World"), Hugh Quarshie ("Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace"), and celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott kept audiences riveted as they recounted their personal family history journey.

Additional News:

  • The British Library announced its digitization of the India Collections
  • Deceased Online has added Scottish MIs
  • will be adding transcriptions of Scottish census records only
  • The Genealogists is adding war memorials

And here's a few more photos from the event: scanning booth

Lisa with Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor.

Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives booth

Lisa interviews a representative of the Western Front Association.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | | Genealogy Events | Podcasts | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 09:14:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 01 March 2011
Celebrate Women's History Month By Finding Female Ancestors
Posted by jamie

March marks National Women's History Month, a celebration of the often overlooked contributions women have made to history. The month evolved from National Women's History Week, established in 1978 by the Education Task Force of Sonoma County, Calif., to coincide with International Women’s Day.

In 1981, Congress issued a joint resolution supporting Women’s History Week. In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to expand the celebration to the entire month of March. Since then, the National Women’s History Month resolution has been approved every year with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

Celebrate Women's History Month by researching your female ancestors.  Here are a few of our online resources:

Female ancestors
Tuesday, 01 March 2011 12:12:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Ultimate Family History Starter Collection
Posted by jamie

Each month we'll release a new collection of carefully selected, discounted products to help you achieve your genealogy goals. A limited number of copies of each collection will be available, so get ‘em while the getting’s good.

For March, we've put together the Ultimate Family History Starter Collection. This multimedia bundle brings you our most invaluable tips, tricks and how-tos to help you jump start your genealogy research. There are only 150 copies of this collection available through the end of March.

The Ultimate Family History Starter Collection contains:
  • Discover Your Roots Spring 2011 digital issue
  • Family Tree Essentials CD
  • Beginner's Guide to Genealogy digital download
  • Your Unofficial Guide to Tips, Hints and Hacks for Finding Your Ancestors on-demand webinar
  • Family Tree Magazine Web Guides CD
  • Discover Your Family Tree Family Tree University course
If all the items were purchased separately, the price would add up to $122.94, but we've bundled them together for $49.99. Save $72.95 by purchasing the Ultimate Family History Starter Collection on Sales
Tuesday, 01 March 2011 09:50:49 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]