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# Friday, 29 April 2011
This Week's Life in Civil War America Winner!
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to Malina Duff, the final winner of our Life in Civil War America book sweepstakes. Here’s her entry:

Thanks everyone for telling us about your Civil War ancestors as part of this giveaway—we've enjoyed reading your stories!

There’ll be many opportunities to learn more about your family's experiences as the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration continues. We’re looking forward to sharing them with you.

Genealogy books | Military records
Friday, 29 April 2011 15:20:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral, April 25-29
Posted by Diane

The National Archives has posted the class handouts from its recent Genealogy Fair for you to download as PDFs. They’re from experts’ presentations on the 1940 census,, Footnote, federal land records and more.

The Civil War Trust is coming out with another smartphone “Battle App,” this one helping tourists locate and learn about historic sites at the Fredericksburg battlefield. Download and learn more about this app and the Devil’s Den & Little Roundtop app at

Want to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, Calif., June 10-12? You could win a registration from GeneaBloggers. Click here to learn more and enter

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Military records | NARA
Friday, 29 April 2011 14:47:34 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Boogeying Down to Charleston for NGS
Posted by Diane

We’re coming right up on the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, May 10-14 in Charleston, SC (inspiration for the popular 20s dance The Charleston). There, genealogists will attend more than 186 lecture sessions and browse an exhibit hall boasting 90 genealogy organizations

Family Tree Magazine will be in exhibit hall booth 131 with a selection of our CDs, books and South Carolina research kits.

Attendees can log into their NGS accounts and download the conference syllabus as a PDF

A free trolley will run from the seven convention hotels (Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Residence Inn, Hyatt Place, Crowne Plaza and Hampton Inn Airport) to the convention center.

Local research opportunities include the South Carolina Room at the Charleston County Library and the South Carolina Historical Society, both in Charleston’s historic downtown. See more Charleston and South Carolina research sites here

The conference isn’t downtown, but NGS is organizing group tours of Charleston for a fee

I was lucky enough to visit a few years ago, and IMHO it’s totally worth taking the time out (or adding to your trip) to see local sites such as Fort Sumter, Rainbow Row, The Battery, Waterfront Park and Magnolia Plantation. To get to Fort Sumter (this Civil War sesquicentennial year would be a great time to go), you can take a ferry from downtown Charleston

Planning to go to the conference? Here are some tips on how to get ready and what to bring.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 29 April 2011 09:07:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 28 April 2011
Ideas for Mom on Mother's Day
Posted by Diane

I have Anna Marie Jarvis to thank for my upcoming breakfast in bed this Mother's Day (my first as a mom). She established the day in 1908 with backing from Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker. The state of West Virginia declared the holiday in 1910, and the rest of the states followed suit.

Mother’s Day is coming right up on May 8, so I’ve been dreaming up gift ideas a family history-minded mom might go for. Here are some I’ve come up with:

Framed photo: If you have one of those three- or four- (or more) generation photos of moms in your family, that would be perfect. Or a picture of you and your mom. Or maybe find pictures of you, your mom and her mom at about the same age, and frame them together.

Photo gifts: Use a digital photo and a website such as Shutterfly or Snapfish to create anything from coffee mugs to mousepads.

Family Tree: Create a decorative family tree with photos. You can use your genealogy software to do this, or download a decorative tree from a site such as FamilySearch, then print and fill it out. Several sites let you fill out a tree online and either print it for free or order a professionally printed version. Here’s our roundup of sites for generating or ordering a decorative family tree

Family history or memoir book: Try the fill-in book Family Tree Legacies  or Grandma’s Memories, which has prompts to help mom share her life stories. 

Mom advice: Books such as 150 Tips and Tricks for New Moms, All About Mom or A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers might have just the advice or inspiration a mom in your life needs.

Genealogy helps: You can find all kinds of items at to help mom discover her roots. If you're not sure where to start, try a State Research Collection  for a state she’s searching in, or our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD to help her keep her research shipshape. 

How are you honoring your mom this year?

Female ancestors | Genealogy fun
Thursday, 28 April 2011 16:37:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Find Your California Kin
Posted by Diane

Our ancestors poured into California from all walks of life: They were early Spanish missionaries, Gold Rush migrants, wagon train pioneers, railroad workers, immigrants through West Coast ports, Great Depression-era “Okies,” and fortune-seekers from any era.

California’s population grew explosively before record-keeping was well-established. So how do you pick out your ancestor from all those people? Get help tracing your Golden State roots in our next webinar:

California Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your Golden State Ancestors

You’ll learn about helpful records for California research, the best websites to search, and hints for dealing with common obstacles such as long waits for vital records and the San Francisco earthquake and fire. With your registration for the live session, you’ll get:

  • 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 your future reference
  • PDF of our California State Research Guide

The $39.99 early bird price ends May 14. Learn more and register here.

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Thursday, 28 April 2011 09:38:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Resources for Researching Your Royal Roots
Posted by Diane

You might have royal roots, even if they’re not recent enough to get you invited to the big wedding this Friday.

More than 60 percent of Americans descend from royalty, says Gary Boyd Roberts, author of The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants (Clearfield Co.). Most of those have New England Yankee, Pennsylvania Quaker or Tidewater planter ancestry.

The immigrants who brought their blue blood with them to the New World were most likely
  • Puritans who settled in New England
  • Quakers (often Welsh) in Pennsylvania
  • Scots in mid-Atlantic states (some in Virginia)
  • Anglican “cavaliers” in Tidewater Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina.

Having a sizable number (50 to 100) of immigrant ancestors in one or more of those areas is a good indication you have royal roots. Also look for ancestors with gentry-level occupations such as a wealthy farmer or merchant, governor, minister or military officer.

If you suspect royal roots, your research strategy will be similar to that of any ancestry: Work backward generation by generation, keeping an eye out for the link to a royal family. But watch out for forged published genealogies, which might've been created as families tried to prove distinguished heritage.

Here are some free articles with royal roots resources:

You’ll find our guide to researching royal roots in the Spring 2011 Discover Your Roots (also available as a digital issue). 

And check out the books Colonial Americans of Royal & Noble Descent: Alleged, Proven, and Disproven by Patricia Scherzinger and, for more-distant royal links, Blood Royal: Issue of the Kings and Queens of Medieval 1066-1399: The Normans and Plantagenets by T. Anna Leese. 

I'd love to hear about your genealogical connections to the royal family!

Celebrity Roots | Research Tips | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 09:36:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Quiz Yourself on the Royal Family
Posted by Diane

Are you related to royalty? Well, even if you're not, you can test your knowledge of the British royal family with a little quiz we put together in anticipation of Friday’s royal wedding between Prince William and Kate (officially, “Catherine”) Middleton.

Quiz yourself here.

Americans can watch the wedding, taking place at 11 am in London (6 am on the US East Coast), on several network and cable channels. Of course, coverage of pre-wedding events will start much earlier. Here’s a website to help you plan your tv viewing

I love to see a girl become a princess as much as the next person (maybe more), but sleep is precious in my house these days, so I’ll be snoozing away at 6 a.m. if the baby lets me.

Do you plan to watch? Are you related to any British royals? How'd you do on the quiz?

Later this week, I'll post some resources to help you discover your royal roots.

Update: Geni shared this royal family tree (complete with longest-lived royals and other fun facts) with us. Have a look!

Celebrity Roots | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 12:40:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 25 April 2011
Rapper to Trace Roots on VH1 Show
Posted by Diane

Rapper 50 Cent will trace his roots in a VH1 “Rock Docs” documentary called “The Origin of Me,” to air May 23 at 9 pm.

The show follows 50 Cent to South Carolina, where his family lived before migrating to New York City in the 1950s. He visits relatives, investigates his roots at the Edgefield County Archives and meets the descendants of slave owners.

From the press release: “50 also learns that in the years following the Civil War, his ancestors faced the infamous ‘Redshirts,’ the precursors to the KKK, giving him a new perspective on the violence he encountered as a young man in Queens.”

VH1 promises to show a different side of the hard-edged rapper, whose albums include Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003) and Before I Self-Destruct (2009).

Born Curtis James Jackson III in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York City, he was 12 when his mother was murdered, he served prison time for drug-related charges and he survived being shot nine times at close range.

Read more about the show and 50 Cent on VH1’s blog.

African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Monday, 25 April 2011 12:19:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 22 April 2011
Genealogy News Corral, April 18-22
Posted by Diane

  • Searching for an ancestor’s marriage in England or Wales from 1837 to 2005? This is your week. To mark the occasion of Britain’s royal wedding, is offering free access to its English and Welsh marriage indexes through April 30. The records from 1837 through 1915 already were free, but this is a good chance to search for 20th-century marriages. You’ll need to set up a free registration with the site to access search results.
  • The Federation of Genealogical Societies is debuting an Internet radio show dedicated solely to genealogy societies. It’s called My Society, and it’ll air every Saturday from 2-3pm Eastern (1-2pm Central, 12-1pm Mountain, 11am-12pm Pacific) starting tomorrow, April 23. To listen, go to (under Upcoming Broadcasts, if you click the blue “more” link, you’ll see a phone number you can use to call into the show).
  • The Southern California Genealogical Society has created an interactive smart phone app for the Genealogy Jamboree conference, taking place June 10-12 in Burbank, Calif. The app lets you review lecture sessions and add them to your calendar, search for exhibitors on a trade show floor map, get news updates and more. Download it using the links provided in the conference blog

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 22 April 2011 16:22:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Our Third Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by Diane

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Our third winner is Barb Stevens,m who posted a comment to this blog:

My husband's ggg grandfather Conrad Tschummi—and his son, same name, served in a CT unit in the Civil War. The father made it home safely, but his son died of disease. I did research at our CT State Library and found they had the original handwritten records of the entire tour of duty listing injuries, deaths, pay, punishments for not following the rules—I could follow the entire tour by these original records. They are incredible and a find I never dreamed ever existed.

Due to the fragile condition of the large, rolled sheets of paper and the fact that they probably won't be safe to unroll many more times, I paid to have them copied by the library and now they are safely in a roll in a large mailing tube.

Anyone looking for Civil War documents, ask at the facility if they have any records kept off site like they do in CT. These were brought to me to read in an enclosed and guarded area and I actually had tears in my eyes as I read them.

To enter, like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our wall a few details about a Civil War ancestor, or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider blog post about Life in Civil War America (like this one).

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts. The winners will each receive a copy of the Life in Civil War America book.

The sweepstakes started April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here

Civil War | Genealogy fun | Military records
Friday, 22 April 2011 14:57:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 21 April 2011
Color Your Family Tree Green
Posted by Diane

Our ancestors reduced, reused and recycled more than we do. Think of the stereotypical grandmother who grew up during the Great Depression with the phrase "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without:" She might save slivers of soap, darn socks and collect rainwater for the garden.

During World War II, our ancestors had to get by on less gasoline, butter, sugar, meat and other rationed items. They grew Victory Gardens and saved kitchen scraps, rubber tires and garden hoses, and aluminum cans to be recycled into bombs and tanks. 

Modern life presents us with different opportunities to be green. Here are a few ways you can incorporate environmentally friendly measures into your genealogy research:

  • Does your FamilySearch Center have a microfilm reader that lets you load record images onto portable media? Bring a flash drive when you go to check film, and save the paper. You also could use a digital camera to capture images of microfilmed records.
  • Avoid printing out e-mails, websites and online newsletters if you can help it. Or you can print on both sides of your paper (but check your printer manual first—some manufacturers caution against printing on the back of paper that’s already been run through the printer).
  • Your computer and other electronics that stay plugged in draw energy even when turned off. Plug them into a power strip and switch it off when you’re not using the devices. (Read more about “phantom loads” here.) 
  • Going to a conference? Opt for a syllabus on CD, if available.
  • If you use a digital camera, don't print all your pictures—just the ones you’d like to put in an album or on display. (Make sure you back up all those digital pictures, though.)
  • Get together with genealogy pals and carpool to the library, the cemetery and society meetings. Make lists of every research task you want to get done so you don’t have to take another trip.
  • Instead of buying bottled water, bring a water bottle on your research trips and fill it at the drinking fountain.

  • Email or use Facebook to send your family newsletters and reunion invitations, rather than printing and mailing them (just remember to call the folks who don't use social media or email). 
We'd love to hear about the ways you're making your genealogy research greener. Happy Earth Day!

Research Tips
Thursday, 21 April 2011 15:38:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Get Your Family Tree Magazine Digital Subscription!
Posted by Diane

I take reusable shopping bags with me to the grocery store. If I forget them, the plastic bags live a second life as garbage can liners or doggy pick-up bags.

I try to be Earth-friendly in my own life, so this Earth Day, I was glad when I found out Family Tree Magazine is helping you do the same by offering digital subscriptions.

We’ll send you an e-mail when each issue is ready, then you can download it to view as a PDF in Adobe Reader. It works for PC and Mac systems. Added bonus: The e-mail goes out when we start mailing subscriber print copies, so you’ll be among the first to see each issue.

Use these links to get started:

You’ll also have the digital subscription option when you renew online.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011 12:31:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Family History Game Launches on Facebook
Posted by Diane

Move over, Farmville. A genealogy-themed game is now available for play by the general Facebook population.

Family Village lets you create a pedigree chart (or input data from the FamilyLink Facebook app) and “immigrate” ancestors from the chart into your Family Village. You can outfit them in historical attire, assign them jobs, and build out the village with houses, landscaping and more (including heritage-related items like international flags and the Eiffel Tower).

The game also searches several websites for free genealogy records related to the information in your pedigree chart, and let you import those records into a family library. You can invite Facebook friends into your village to check out the library.

Partnerships with additional providers of genealogy records and other content are in the works, says Jeff Wells, CEO of Family Village developer Funium. He cautions, though, that the game is “not a research tool.”

You can play Family Village for free, with the option to spend actual cash (in the form of “game dollars”) on some of your ancestors’ purchases. For example, every ancestor gets a newspaper printed on the day he or she was born. You’ll view the headlines, and you can buy a copy of the whole thing.

The game adheres to Facebook privacy standards, wells says, with privacy settings you can adjust.

Wells got the idea for Family Village when his family didn’t share his excitement over his genealogical finds. “We wanted to do something that would end up being a segue way for people who don’t have the interest to get involved in family history,” he says.

According to Wells, 300 million people play social games each month, and 3 to 4 percent of those players spend money on the games. He’s hoping genealogists’ spouses and teenagers will get interested in Family Village and learn more about their heritage.

Will you play Family Village? Do you think it'll appeal to those already into genealogy, or will other people get hooked on it, too?

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Industry | Social Networking
Tuesday, 19 April 2011 10:45:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [10] Grows By Thousands of Sites
Posted by Diane

The free genealogy search engine announced today its added thousands of new sites to its index. That includes more than 3,000 genealogy blogs and other sites submitted by users since launched a month ago, such as, the Australian Cemeteries Index and TheShipsList crawls websites similar to the way Google does, except it focuses on free genealogy content—making it easier for you to find relevant family history information on the web. You can read genealogy-technology blogger Dick Eastman’s enthusiastic comments about here

Click here if you’d like to suggest a site to Mocavo’s developers, who plan to update the site more frequently. 

Get Family Tree Magazine Web Guides, Family Tree University courses and other online genealogy helps from

Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Tuesday, 19 April 2011 09:33:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 18 April 2011
Using Indexed Records on (and a Question for You)
Posted by Diane

Here’s that post I promised on tracking down my grandfather in Texas church records using indexed information in

I kept up with my Google blog reader (sometimes at 3 a.m.) while on maternity leave, so I noticed the regular record updates at That’s how I got a surprise hit on my grandfather while casually searching collections from states my ancestors lived in.

The match, from the collection Texas Births and Christenings, 1840-1981,  has indexed information (so, no image of the record itself) from a church baptismal register in Gonzales, Texas:

The information was close to a baptismal certificate I already had from our family papers. In 1960, my grandma wrote the church where my grandfather was baptized to request the baptismal record. Apparently she needed it so my grandfather, who didn’t have a birth certificate, could participate in his company pension program. Here’s what the priest sent her:

I was never 100 percent confident in the birth information on this certificate, since it was created when he was almost 60 and my research gives two birthdates and places for my grandfather. So I was excited when I saw on the microfilm number for the original baptismal register (circled in red above).

I ran a Family History Library online catalog search for the film number and found this catalog record: 

It's hard to read here, but the baptismal register is from Sacred Heart Church, formerly called St. Joseph, in Gonzales, Texas, part of Archdiocese of San Antonio. (Note the 1960 baptismal certificate says St. James Church at the top.)

I printed this catalog page and took it to the FamilySearch Center to rent microfilm no. 25152. 

When the film came in, I quickly found my grandfather’s record (thanks to the page number provided in my search result). Here’s the first page, with my grandfather at the bottom:

My great-grandfather Mike Haddad appears in a few records as "Fadlo" (probably short for his pre-immigration name)—I believe that's why he's recorded as "Daddlod" here. 

And the second page, with columns for the sponsors, the minister who performed the ceremony, details on the person's Confirmation (another Catholic sacrament, usually received around age 13), and “remarks.”

See the note on the far right in the Remarks column? That reports my grandfather’s marriage t0 my grandma in 1942 in Cincinnati.

The handwriting was uniform throughout the entire book. From the title and publisher pages, 

it looks like this was a blank register book printed in 1944, which someone later filled in with information from diocesan church records going back to 1883.

My guess is that the (?) in the sponsor column next to Saida’s name—a symbol also appearing by several other names on the page—means the person who copied the original records into this book couldn’t quite make out the handwriting.

In 1960, when my grandma sent her request to St. Joseph, she must've provided her marriage information. Then the priest who answered her letter would’ve looked at this book in order to fill out the baptismal certificate, and added the marriage details to the notes column. 

So this still isn't the actual record that was created in 1902 when my grandfather was baptized, but I have more confidence in that 1960 baptismal certificate (and the birth date it provides) now that I've seen where that information came from.

One question: Why does the baptism certificate sent to my grandma in 1960 say "St. James" at the top, when the church register is from St. Joseph (later changed to Sacred Heart)? Perhaps the diocese routed all records requests like my grandma's to St. James? What do you think?

Church records | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Research Tips
Monday, 18 April 2011 11:23:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, 15 April 2011
Our Second Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by jamie

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Here's our second winner:

To enter, like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our page a Civil War ancestor story or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider post about Life in Civil War America (like this one).

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts, and they will be notified by an announcement on Family Tree Magazine's Facebook page. The four winners will each receive a copy of the Life in Civil War America book. Check our Facebook page and Genealogy Insider blog frequently for upcoming posts where we'll comment on and/or answer the questions we receive about Life in Civil War America.

The sweepstakes starts April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here.
Civil War | Genealogy fun
Friday, 15 April 2011 11:15:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [10]
Genealogy News Corral, April 11-15
Posted by Diane

From April 10 to 24, digital content provider Gale is celebrating National Library Week by providing free access to several resources. Those include the NewsVault (more than 10 million pages from historical newspapers and periodicals) and Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive (antebellum newspaper articles and books focused on slavery). Usually, you must use Gale databases via libraries that subscribe to them, but you can search the databases directly during this free access period

It’s DNA Day! Today only (Friday, April 15), genetic genealogy company FamilyTreeDNA is offering a promotional code you can use to get a discount on several types of DNA tests. See FamilyTreeDNA’s Facebook page for details.

Family Tree University professor Tim Pinnick sent us a note that he’s moderating the new African-American-American Newspapers forum on the Afrigeneas website. Stop by to ask questions and share your finds from Black newspapers

FamilySearch announced this week that it’s released 500,000 new US county marriage records, as well as records from Costa Rica, England, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Spain, in the Historical Records Search. Click here to see the list of the updated collections. (Look for our guide to the new website in the September 2011 Family Tree Magazine.)

Subscription genealogy site Archives just announced the addition of 3.5 million new US vital records to the website, including the obituary index from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Ohio (also searchable here). Other updated collections come from Texas, Kentucky, Maine, South Carolina, Arizona, South Carolina and Colorado.

iArchives, the records digitization arm of subscription site Footnote, announced plans to collaborate with the Federation of Genealogical Societies to digitize 180,000 War of 1812 pension applications. They’ll eventually be available on Footnote. Read more details on the FGS Voice blog.

FamilySearch | Footnote | Free Databases | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | Military records | Newspapers
Friday, 15 April 2011 09:52:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 14 April 2011
Get Help Researching Military Ancestors
Posted by Diane

Does tracing your ancestors' military service seem like an uphill battle?

For most wars after the American Revolution and the birth of the federal government, you’ll consult the National Archives and Records Administration, which has compiled service records, pension files and other federal records (some are on microfilm and/or digitized, some are still only in paper form).

To see a list of what military records NARA has on microfilm, go to its Order Online system, click Microfilm at the top of the page (ignore the log in fields unless you actually submit an order), click Advanced Search, select Military Service Records from the Subject Catalog pull-down menu, and click Search.

If you see a microfilm you’d like to search, you can look for copies of the film at the Family History Library (and borrow the film through a local FamilySearch Center) or see if the film is digitized on the free, or on a subscription website such as or Footnote.

If an ancestor fought in a Colonial war—that is, any war taking place before the American Revolution—you’re more likely to locate state militia pay lists, muster rolls and military hospital records in state archives and military historical societies covering the war or the place where your ancestor enlisted. It’ll be easier to find records if you can learn which regiment or company your ancestor was part of.

This is a little taste of the advice is from our new Military Research Guide CD, which has Family Tree Magazine’s best in-depth guidance and tools for researching ancestors who served in the US armed forces. 

Click here for more details about the research topics and worksheets covered in this keyword-searchable, Windows- and Macintosh-compatible CD. It’s available now at

Editor's Pick | Military records | Research Tips
Thursday, 14 April 2011 09:25:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Civil War Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane

The American Civil War began 150 years ago this week. But you already knew that. What you maybe didn't know is that the National Park Service has a Civil War Sesquicentennial Home Page with a play-by-play of that first Battle of Fort Sumter, as well as contemporary news reports.

As part of our Life in Civil War America sweepstakes, we’ve heard from many of you who’ve taken advantage of newly available Civil War records such as those from and the National Archives (free on through April 14; you also can check out Footnote’s Civil War records free through April 14) to start learning about your Civil War ancestors.

Interested in taking your research further? Here are some resources that may help:

  • The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System: More than 6 million names of soldiers (those who served in more than one regiment have multiple listings) from the Union and Confederacy, as well as African-American sailors. You can learn basic service details, find regimental histories and listings of soldiers by regiment, view battle summaries and see records from Andersonville and Fort McHenry prisons. 
  • Civil War Women: Diaries, letters and other primary sources from Duke University 
  • Civil War Sesquicentennial Tools: Links to online tools and podcasts (such as Longwood University’s weekly review of key Civil War events taking place exactly 150 years ago) that help you research your family’s Civil War history.  
  • Civil War Genealogy Toolkit: Link to state archives’ online Civil War records, Civil War history sites, how-to articles, Civil War history organizations and more. 
  • Military Research Guide: Our free guide will show you how to research your Civil War and other military ancestors. 

Other Family Tree Magazine Civil War research helps include:

Military records
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 15:02:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Hello Again!
Posted by Diane

It’s been awhile. My first couple of days back at Family Tree Magazine HQ after the past few months just taking care of this little guy

(look at those chubby little cheeks!) have been a whirlwind of figuring out where our projects are and what’s going on in the genealogy world.

Here’s what my lovely coworkers had waiting for me on my first day back: 

I’ve eaten, slept and breathed family history for the past seven and a half years on staff at Family Tree Magazine. That’s in my job description.

But while I was on maternity leave, my genealogy life was a lot more like yours: Reading news blogs and searching online databases when I had a few minutes, finding someone to watch the baby while I squeezed in trips to the FamilySearch Center (baby Leo even accompanied me on a short microfilm-requesting stop). I'd watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" on Hulu in the middle of the night while I was up with the baby.

I’ll do another post about what I discovered on that FamilySearch microfilm. But I definitely feel more one with you!

I hope you can offer some advice: How do you fit genealogy into your everyday life? When do you squeeze in your online and library research? Thanks!

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 10:04:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [13]
# Monday, 11 April 2011
Our First Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes Winner
Posted by jamie

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Here's our first winner:

To enter, like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our page a Civil War ancestor story or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider post about Life in Civil War America (like this one).

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts, and they will be notified by an announcement on Family Tree Magazine's Facebook page. The four winners will each recieve a copy of the Life in Civil War America book. Check our Facebook page and Genealogy Insider blog frequently for upcoming posts where we'll comment on and/or answer the questions we receive about Life in Civil War America.

The sweepstakes starts April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here.

Civil War | Genealogy fun
Monday, 11 April 2011 13:34:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 8 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

Actress Ashley Judd has proud southern roots. Her mother Naomi Judd and sister Wynonna Judd are country music superstars, and Ashley is an eighth-generation Kentuckian on her Judd line. So she got a few surprises when exploring her father's family.

Judd began her search by meeting with her father Michael Ciminella in Louisville, Ky. While looking at a photo album, Ciminella tells Judd about Elijah Hensley, an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. Judd searches for Elijah on, discovering Hensley served in 39th Kentucky Infantry for the Union.

This leads Judd to the State Archives in Frankfort, Ky., where she finds Hensley's muster cards, indicating he enlisted at age 15 and was captured 32 days later. He was held for about five or six months in a prison in Richmond, Va., and was released in a broad exchange of Kentucky prisoners. He was later wounded in the Battle of Saltville and taken prisoner a second time. He was discharged in 1865 because of disability.

The search continues in Saltville, Va. Muster cards indicate Hensley's right leg was amputated on the battlefield by medics. An historian demonstrates what the amputation would be like, horrifying Judd. He also explains that Hensley's regiment would have retreated at the battle and left those injured to be taken prisoner by the Confederacy. Judd then reads a brief write-up about Hensely, indicating he worked as a farmer in Kentucky after he was honorably discharged. (For more on tracing your Civil War roots, see our Ultimate Collection.)

Judd then heads to New England Historical Society in Boston, Ma., to research her paternal great-grandfather William H. Dalton. Death records indicate Dalton's grandparent were E. & E. Brewster, a long-standing New England surname. NEHGS researches trace the Brewster lineage back 12 generations to William Brewster, who was born in 1566/7 England and was bailiff to the Archbishop of York. He immigrated to America in 1620, coming over on the Mayflower and signing the Mayflower Compact. (For more on Massachusetts research, see our state bundle.)

The travelers on the Mayflower were fleeing religious persecution, so Judd travels to York, England, to find out more about Brewster and the Pilgrims. She discovers William Brewster was a gentleman who attended Cambridge and looked after the archbishop's affairs.

Around 1607, Brewster became a central figure of the Puritans, a group of religious radicals who wanted to separate from the Church of England. He was summoned to court for speaking out against the Church of England and tries to flee the country. He first travels to Boston, England, and is soon jailed. Judd looks in his cell where a plaque dubbing him the "pilgrim father" hangs.

Brewster was imprisoned for months; upon his release, he traveled to Holland, where there was some degree of religious freedom. About 10 years later, Brewster obtained a charter from King James to settle Plymouth.

"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
Monday, 11 April 2011 10:56:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, 08 April 2011
Genealogy News Corral: April 8
Posted by jamie

Kodak has sold assets of its microfilm products and equipment business to Eastman Park Micrographics. Kodak will continue supplying current microfilms, as well as to provide service and support for microfilm equipment and Eastman Park Micrographics will take over Kodak’s data conversion services business, which converts data between analog and digital formats. Read more on

The Cincinnati Railroad Club is digitizing its 70,000-item collection, a project estimated to take three years to complete. Most non-copyrighted materials will be available online, including geomapping of the library’s thousands of original photographs. Read more on

Newport Beach Library is considering a revamp that would maintain the most of the library's current services, but ditch the books. The proposal is a reflection of the economy and patron habits. Read more on the

The city of Chicago is relocating about 1,200 graves from the 161-year-old Bensenville cemetery to expand O'Hare International Airport, but not without controversy. The city hired a genealogist to track down the closest living relative for those currently occupying the graves, but isn't contacting every descendant, leaving some family members in the dark about their ancestor's final resting place. Read more on the
Season one of "Who Do You Think You Are?" is now available on DVD. Re-watch all your favorite celebrities discover their roots on NBC's family history hit. Read more on

If you missed any of the simulcast RootsTech conference sessions, you can now watch them on-demand at Bonus video interviews with conference speakers are now on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Cemeteries | FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 08 April 2011 15:02:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Free Civil War Records
Posted by jamie is offering free access to it's Civil War collection April 7 - 14, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the war between the states.

The subscription website has worked with the US National Archives to bring millions of original records online for the first time. Researchers can access soldier records, photographs, original war maps, pension files, court investigations, slave records, Lincoln records and more from a one-stop search box.

Click here to search the Civil War database.

Civil War | Genealogy Web Sites | Military records
Friday, 08 April 2011 10:18:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 06 April 2011
South Carolina Genealogy Crash Course
Posted by jamie

Researchers with South Carolina roots have 500 years' worth of records to explore. We'll show you how to navigate Palmetto State resources from early Colonial days to the 20th century in our South Carolina Genealogy Crash Course live webinar.

During our live webinars, audio is delivered over your telephone or computer speakers. Power Point presentations and desktop or document sharing are presented over the Internet. This is like a talk-radio program with visuals on the web. You'll be able to have a live Q&A chat with the speakers.

From the South Carolina webinar you'll learn:
    •    Essential South Carolina history
    •    Details on vital records and immigration in the state
    •    What ethnicity-based records your ancestor may have left
    •    The best websites for South Carolina research

Registration for the live session includes:
    •    Participation in the live presentation and Q&A session
    •    Unlimited access to the webinar recording
    •    PDF of the presentation slides for future reference

The webinar is April 20, 7 p.m. EST, and will run for one hour. If you register before April 13, you'll receive 20 percent off. Click here to register for the South Carolina Genealogy Crash Course live webinar.

Civil War | Editor's Pick | Sales
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 14:06:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Enter the Life in Civil War America Sweepstakes
Posted by jamie

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, each week we're giving away Family Tree Magazine's Life in Civil War America book! Simply like Family Tree Magazine on Facebook and share on our page a Civil War ancestor story or a tidbit from our Life in Civil War America webinar or Life in Civil War America book. You can also enter by posting a comment on any Genealogy Insider post about Life in Civil War America.

Each Friday in April, a winner will be chosen from that week's comments and wall posts, and they will be notified by an announcement on Family Tree Magazine's Facebook page. The four winners will each win the Life in Civil War America book. Check our Facebook page and Genealogy Insider blog frequently for upcoming posts where we'll comment on and/or answer the questions we receive about Life in Civil War America.

The sweepstakes starts April 6, and runs through April 29.

Need more details? Read the official rules here.

Civil War | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 12:51:26 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [17]
Free Civil War Records
Posted by jamie

To mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, is opening up millions of Civil War records, including the 1860 and 1870 US censuses, for free searches April 7 – 14.

The American Civil War Research Database is Ancestry's effort to compile and link all available records of soldiers who fought in the Civil War. The collection contains state rosters, pension records, regimental histories, photos and journals.

The database is divided into soldier records, regiment records, battle histories, and officer records. By searching soldier records, you can discover the soldier's name, residence, date of entry, regiments, companies, rank, promotions, transfers, events (such as POW, wounded, etc.) and how and where the soldier exited the military (discharge, desertion, muster out, or death). Some states also include in their official records a soldier's birthplace, age at enlistment, occupation, and physical description.

Click here to search Ancestry's American Civil War Research Database. | Civil War
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 10:29:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 04 April 2011
Share Your Family Recipes and Food Traditions
Posted by jamie

Food is a key ingredient in every family's history: Dad's Saturday morning pancakes, the marzipan Granny served every Christmas, your Sicilian great-great-grandmother's spaghetti sauce recipe. And we want you to share your family's food traditions with us.

Family Tree Books is collecting short essays for a book about real family recipes and the memories that surround them. We'll select eight submissions to feature in the book based on these criteria:
  • Submissions should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
  • Essays should tell the story of a real tradition, including:
  • What is the tradition?
  • Who started it and when?
  • What cultural or regional background does the dish or tradition represent? (for example, is it a US regional specialty or a product of your ancestry in Germany, Sweden, Mexico, etc.?)
  • What does the tradition mean to you and your family?
  • Submissions should include the recipe described in the story and a family photo—of the original chef, people described in the story or yourself. (Pictures of the dish itself may be submitted but likely will not be published.)
To enter: E-mail your essay to with the subject line Family Food Traditions no later than July 13, 2011. To be considered, submissions must adhere to the following specifications:
  • Essays must be in Microsoft Word (.DOC or .RTF) or plain-text format (.TXT). Do not paste your essay into the body of the email.
  • Photos must be in JPG or TIFF format, with a resolution of 300 dpi or higher.
  • Your name, mailing address, phone number and email address must be included in the email message and the essay document.
For full entry details and official rules, click here.

Genealogy books | Genealogy fun
Monday, 04 April 2011 12:59:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Saturday, 02 April 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 7 Recap
Posted by jamie

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

The daughter of actress Blythe Danner and producer/director Bruce Paltrow, Gwyneth Paltrow has Hollywood roots. But the actress looked past her famous family to explore her ancestors' extraordinary stories during her episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Gwyneth began by researching her mother's side of the family at the New York Public Library. She finds an obituary for her great-grandmother Ida May Danner, which lists her parents as David and Isabel Stoute Yetter. Isabel's death certificate indicates her a full name is Rosamond Isabel Yetter, born in Barbados, West Indies, and she worked as a domestic servant.

Using this information, Gwyneth finds Isabel and her sister Martha on a passenger list for a commercial sailing ship traveling from Barbados to America. The pair are the only two passengers on this voyage, somehow managing to travel on cargo ship instead of a passenger ship. Isabel is age 18 when she immigrates to America.

Gwyneth then travels to Barbados to find out more about her great-great-grandmother Isabel. At the department of archives, she searches baptismal records, discovering Isabel's father was a merchant clerk — a respectable middle class occupation. She then searches a burial register, finding Isabel's mother and father were both dead by the time she was 13 years old. (For more on searching vital records, see our on-demand webinar.)

During Isabel's time in Barbados, females greatly outnumbered males, so marriage prospects were very limited. Job opportunities were also in short supply for unmarried white women because free black women in Barbados would work for lower wages. And without family ties except each other, Gwenyth concludes the sisters moved to the United States to see what opportunities awaited them there.

Gwyneth then researchers her paternal grandfather Arnold "Buster" Paltrow's family. Buster often spoke ill of his mother Ida Hymen Paltrow's parenting skills, and she seemingly exhibited signs of a severe depression. Gwyneth wanted to know more about Ida and what may have caused her depression.

Ida attended Hunter College, known as Normal College in 1897 when she studied there. The school was a teacher's college, the top profession for a New York woman. Ida was often absent, according to student registries, and she was discharged from the school in 1898. Death certificates for Ida's mother Rebecca Paltrow and Ida's brother Samuel Paltrow indicate Ida attended to them as they died months apart in 1897, explaining her absences from college.

Gwyneth continues her search at the New York City Municipal Archives. The 1920 census lists Ida's family with the surname Paltrowitz. Ida's oldest daughter Helen Paltrowitz, who was 1 in the 1910 census, is not found in the 1920 census. Gwyneth then searches death records, discovering Helen died at age 3 when she was run over by a wagon. Gwenyth concludes these tragedies contributed to Ida's depression.

Gwyneth then focus on one last ancestor, Ida's husband Meyer Paltrowitz. She discovers Meyer's grandfather was Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Pelterowicz, a master of Kabbalah, a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an eternal and mysterious creator and the mortal and finite universe. Books about Hirsch indicate he was regarded as an extremely holy man and a miracle worker. (For more on tracing Jewish roots, see our guide.)

"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?" | Research Tips | Vital Records
Saturday, 02 April 2011 10:51:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, 01 April 2011
Ultimate Civil War Anniversary Collection
Posted by jamie

Each month we're releasing 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.

In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, the April ultimate collection is packed with must-have titles for anyone interested in Civil War family history. This multimedia bundle brings you our most invaluable tips, tricks and how-tos, as well as books on civil war artifacts, historical perspectives, and what life was like in that day and age. There are only 99 copies of this collection available through the end of April.

The Ultimate Civil War Anniversary Collection contains:
    •    Life in Civil War America
    •    Family Tree Magazine May 2011 digital issue (our special Civil War issue)
    •    Online Military Records: Document Your Family's Service webinar
    •    US Military Records Family Tree University independent study course
    •    Civil War Diary Quilt
    •    Family Tree Magazine 2011 Civil War Desk Calendar
    •    Warman's Civil War Collectibles
    •    The Everything Civil War Book

If all the items were purchased separately, the price would add up to $254.88, but we've bundled them together for $79.99. Save $174.89 by purchasing the Ultimate Civil War Anniversary Collection on

Military records | Sales
Friday, 01 April 2011 09:27:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Vote on Our April Cover!
Posted by Grace

We've got a special digital edition coming out today, April 1 -- and you can vote on which cover you like best! Click the image above to see it larger. And here's a sneak peek of the inside:

Click the image to see a larger version and read all the insider tips about the 1940 census. You can download a copy the 1940 Census cheat sheet to share here. (To help interpret some of the markings, you may want to watch this video.)

By the way, happy April Fools Day! :)

And here's some real census advice:

census records | Genealogy fun | Videos
Friday, 01 April 2011 09:05:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]