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# Thursday, June 30, 2011
Free SAR Records on Ancestry.com This Weekend
Posted by Diane

If you have a Revolutionary War-era Patriot ancestor, applications for the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) lineage society are a great research resource.

These applications are worth a search even if you don't know of a Patriot in your family tree, because they name other ancestors who link SAR applicants to Patriots. You may find an ancestor or collateral relative among one of those names.

Through July 4, you can search SAR applications dating from 1889 to 1970 free on Ancestry.com. (After you hit Search, you’ll be prompted to set up a free account to view your results.) The collection includes 145,000 applications.

Click here to start your search (then select the Free Access Weekend logo on the right).


Ancestry.com | Military records
Thursday, June 30, 2011 11:27:29 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
Research Tips for Your Virginia Ancestors
Posted by Diane


Let’s play the word association game. I'll start:

Virginia genealogy.

“Burned courthouses,” you say? “Early, hard-to-trace immigrants”?

Our Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar will show you how to get past research brick walls such as

  • courthouses (and their records) destroyed during the Civil War and in fires and floods at other times
  • hard-to-research Colonial-era immigrants
  • potentially confusing land records due to the carving up of Virginia’s enormous original territory into other states, a maze of courts, and many cities that are independent of their surrounding counties 

You’ll also learn about Virginia records including headrights and vital records, and the best websites for Virginia research (including the Library of Virginia, whose Virginia Memory site has digitized newspapers, military records and other genealogical resources).

The Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar, presented by Family Tree Magazine contributing editor David A. Fryxell, takes place Wednesday, July 27, at 7 pm Eastern time (6 pm Central, 5 pm Mountain, 4 pm Pacific).

Attendees will receive a link to view the session again as many times as they like, a PDF of the presentation slides, and Family Tree Magazine’s Virginia State Research Guide.

Click here to find out more about the Virginia Genealogy Crash Course webinar—and take advantage of the 20 percent off early bird registration special.


Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | Webinars
Thursday, June 30, 2011 9:44:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Finding Your Ancestor's 1940 Census Enumeration District
Posted by Diane

I read about the How to Access the 1940 Census in One Step quiz  on Dick Eastman’s blog this morning

The quiz, by One-Step Tools webmaster Steve Morse and friends, is designed to guide you through the site’s tools that help you determine your ancestor’s 1940 census enumeration district (ED). This is important because, when the 1940 census comes out April 2, 2012, you won’t be able to search by name. Instead, you’ll need to find the records for the ED where your ancestor lived and view pages until you find him or her.

(If you don’t mind waiting an as-yet-unknown length of time for a searchable name index to be created, probably by FamilySearch and/or a commercial entity such as Ancestry.com, you may not need to worry about the ED. I say “may not” because if your ancestor gets mis-indexed or the census-taker recorded his name in an unexpected way, you still might need to browse the records.)

Anyway, I tried the quiz for a spin and did indeed find the 1940 ED I needed. Here’s how it worked for me:

Question: Do you know where your family lived on April 1, 1940, the official 1940 census day?

Answer: I chose yes. This was my hint to check the address in my ancestor’s 1942 declaration of intention to naturalize:

Question: Did the family move between 1930 and 1940?

Answer: Yes.

Question: You know where your family was in 1940. Were they:
  • in a rural area or a small urban community (under about 5,000)?
  • in an urban area of 5,000 or more?
  • in an institution (hospital, jail, orphanage, etc)?
  • outside the US proper but under US jurisdiction? 

Answer: They lived in Cleveland, Ohio, an urban area of 5,000 or more.

Question: Check to see if the city is on the One Step 1940 Large City ED Finder Tool. Go to this tool, choose the state or possession, and look in the city dropdown box. Do you see your city listed there?

Answer: I clicked the link to the 1040 ED Finder, chose Ohio from the state dropdown menu, and yes, Cleveland was in the city menu. 

Question: OK, now to use the above One Step tool, choose the state and city and then enter the street and cross streets for the house at which your family lived.

Answer: I went back to the 1940 ED Finder, which looked like this:

I chose my ancestors’ street, Franklin Blvd, and was directed to choose a cross street.

Um, cross street? Luckily, at the bottom of the page you can enter a house number and generate a Google, Yahoo! or MapQuest map of the location, like this one:


I chose 47th W. as the cross street and was rewarded with:

The "View microfilm " link gives you a message that the 1940 census images are not available. Looks like Morse is planning to link the ED numbers to the record images when they're released on NARA's website ext year.

I tried other quiz answers, too: 

  • Basically, if you don’t know where your ancestors lived in 1940, you’ll get suggestions for records to check.
  • If you know where they lived in 1940 and they hadn't moved since 1930, you’ll be directed to the site’s 1930-to-1940 ED Conversion tool (EDs changed from census to census).
  • If your ancestors lived in a small-ish town or rural area, the area may not yet be covered in the One Step 1940 ED Finder, in which case you’re directed to National Archives’ ED maps (not yet online). Those will be easier to use if you know the street address. 
  • If you don't know the address in the small-ish town or rural area, you can use the One Step ED Definition Tool to choose a state and county, then search on a community name. If the name is in the definitions, you’ll get back a list of possible EDs where you can start your census search. 

Now, the trick is not losing the sticky note I wrote the ED on.

You can read all about the 1940 census in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine's Complete Census Guide. Family Tree Magazine Plus members can read the 1940 census article here.


census records | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:42:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, June 28, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: First US Naval Officer Killed
Posted by Diane

June 28, 1861, the Pawnee arrived at the Washington, DC, Navy Yard carrying the body of Capt. James H. Ward, the first US Naval officer killed during the American Civil War

The previous day, Ward, who was in command of a flotilla in the Chesapeake Bay, send a landing party to meet Southern forces at Mathias Point in King George County, Va. They met resistance, and Ward was shot after he moved the ships in to cover for the landing party as it retreated.

At the beginning of the war, the US Navy had just 90 ships; it grew to 670 ships and 50,000 sailors by mid-1964. The Confederate Navy had 130 warships and 4,000 men at its largest.

Dramatic events such as battles and shore bombardments were the exception to the rule for sailors, according to the book Life in Civil War America:

“Sailors spent the majority of their time performing routine duties or combating the effects of tedium. Running a ship required constant if monotonous activity; unlike soldiers, seamen tended not to have much idle time on their hands. An exception to this was, of course, Union soldiers on board blockading ships, who often complained of boredom in journals and letters.”

You’ll use different resources to trace a Civil War sailor than you would if researching a soldier. Start with the resources in this free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article on tracing Union and Confederate sailors.


Civil War | Military records
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 4:51:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
Get 'Em While You Can! Tips on Research Trips, Organization, SC Genealogy
Posted by Diane

I wanted to give you all a heads-up that we’re down to the last few days you can get these three ShopFamilyTree.com genealogy helps, at least at deeply discounted prices:

ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 9:44:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, June 27, 2011
Pointers for Finding Your Ancestors' Naturalization Records
Posted by Diane

Fitting that July 4, the day we commemorate adoption of the Declaration of Independence, is a popular day for citizenship swearing-in ceremonies. Big ones happen every year at Monticello, the Virginia home of Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson, and at Seattle Center, among other places.

(My immigrant great-grandfather, who wasn’t naturalized on the Fourth of July, gives his birthday on most records as July 4, 1881—I don’t know if he was actually born that day, or he just knew it was a big day in his new country.)

Here are some pointers on finding your ancestors’ naturalization records:

  • Not all immigrants became citizens, and some waited until long after they first arrived in the United States. Typically, men who were birds of passage (they traveled between their homeland and America several times before settling here) didn't rush to become citizens.
  • Your ancestor could file papers at any courthouse. He could even begin the process in one court and finish it another. Aliens more often applied at county and state courts than at the federal level because the fee was usually lower and it was often closer to home. To find naturalization records before 1906, you’ll need to check municipal, county, state and federal courthouses where the immigrant lived. 
  • After 1906, courts had to file copies of naturalizations with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now US Citizenship and Naturalization Services, or USCIS). You can order copies of these records for your ancestor from the USCIS Genealogy Service
  • Online sources of naturalization records and/or indexes to naturalization records for various parts of the country include subscription sites Ancestry.com and Footnote.com, and the free FamilySearch.
  • Many naturalization records and the indexes have been microfilmed. Search for them in the Family History Library Catalog by running a Place search for the state and county (the city, too, if it's a large urban area), then look under Naturalization and Citizenship. You can rent film through a branch FamilySearch Center near you.

You can see how I found my great-grandfather’s naturalization records here

Other naturalization records how-to resources from Family Tree Magazine include:


immigration records | Research Tips
Monday, June 27, 2011 4:30:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, June 24, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • The National Genealogical Society has created The NGS Weekly, a “newspaper” that pulls feeds from various genealogy blog posts. You can subscribe to get e-mail notifications when the page is updated.

Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 24, 2011 1:21:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 22, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Religion
Posted by Diane

On a site called Baptists and the American Civil War: In Their Own Words, I found a diary entry by John Beauchamp Jones, a novelist and reporter who went to work for the Confederate government in Richmond. (The site is a digital project by historian Bruce T. Gourley, executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society.)

June 22, 1861, Jones wrote about a chance meeting with Confederate president Jefferson Davis. It begins “Fighting for our homes and holy altars, there is no intermission on Sunday.”

He goes on to describe a chance encounter with Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the office on a Sunday, helping Davis find a letter in his secretary’s office. You can read the entire diary entry here.

A bit from Life in Civil War America about the Baptist denomination of the time:

On the eve of the Civil War, Baptists were one of the largest denominations in the country and among those that were considerably more widespread and influential in the South than in the North.

At the time of the war, there were some 11,219 Baptist churches in the country, with about two-thirds in Southern states (an especially telling proportion when one considers that the white population of the North was about three-and-a-half times larger than that of the South). Value of Baptist church property was an estimated $19,746,378.

In 1845, Northern and Southern Baptists split over the issue of slavery, and the latter formed a separate denomination under the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Other large denominations at the time included Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans and Roman Catholics, though Americans were active in many faiths. Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln was the first US president to use the phrase "One nation under God," but he wasn't baptized and never joined a church.

Here's our listing of organizations for researching religious records.

You can nominate a Civil War event for this series—just click Comments below or e-mail me.


Church records | Civil War | Social History
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 3:45:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Research Trip Tips in the Latest Family Tree Magazine Free Podcast
Posted by Diane

Hit the road with us this summer! The June episode of the free Family Tree Magazine podcast, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems, offers up advice for taking research trips and preserving your ancestors' souvenirs.

We’ll also discuss rapper 50 Cent’s journey to South Carolina to learn about his roots, the Early American Roads and Trails website, and our state research webinars.

You can listen through iTunes and on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.


Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

↑ Grab this Headline Animator


Genealogy Web Sites | Podcasts | Research Tips
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1:19:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Organize Your Family History Value Pack
Posted by Diane


I’m one of those people who get a little stressed out by clutter. When there’s too much stuff jumbled around—whether it’s papers on my desk, icons on my desktop, family photos or genealogy documents—my anxiety level ticks up ever so slightly. (My friends tease me about the day Leo becomes mobile and starts emptying the kitchen cabinets onto the floor.)

That’s why the Organize Your Family History Value Pack is this week’s Editor’s Pick. That and the price, steeply discounted through June 30

Whether you work on paper or do everything online or a combo of both, getting your research and your workspace organized is important to keeping track of your family tree.

Here’s what’s in the Organize Your Family History Value Pack:

  • Organize Your Genealogy Family Tree University Independent Study course digital download

  • Organization Made Easy: 5 Simple Ways to Get Your Family History in Order on-demand webinar

  • Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD

  • Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life by Jennifer Ford Berry 

It’ll help you research more efficiently—you’ll develop a system for filing notes, documents and photos (on paper and your hard drive); learn how to plan and accomplish your next research step; and make the most of your limited research time. And until the last day of June, the whole kaboodle is $49.99—72 percent off full price.

Click here to learn more about the Organize Your Family History Value Pack


Editor's Pick | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 11:20:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, June 20, 2011
Photo Gift Ideas
Posted by Diane

So I promised to share the photo gift my son (with some help from me) gave his daddy for father’s day:


I had a picture I snapped of Leo with his dad printed on canvas (that’s why there’s a shiny spot on the left side of the picture—it’s the flash reflecting off the canvas), so it resembles a painting. I took advantage of a great sale at CanvasPeople.com, but other photo-gift sites such as Shutterfly and Snapfish can do this for you, too.

The frame (minus the glass and backing) came from our local Michael’s store, and the canvas is hung from a picture hanger tapped into the canvas stretcher.

You’ll get more ideas for displaying family photos from our Family Photo Essentials CD

We also suggest family history-themed gifts in this free “Giving Trees” article on FamilyTreeMagazine.com


Genealogy fun | Photos
Monday, June 20, 2011 12:37:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [15]
# Friday, June 17, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: East Tennessee Convention
Posted by Diane

A second round of East Tennessee Convention meetings was held June 17-20, 1861, in Greeneville, Tenn. Delegates from East Tennessee and one county in Middle Tennessee drafted a memo to the Tennessee government asking permission to leave the Confederacy and form an independent state aligned with the Union.

The Tennessee legislature rejected the convention’s request, and the governor stationed Confederate forces in East Tennessee.

Late in 1861, Scott County resolved to break away from Tennessee and form the Free and Independent State of Scott. The law remained on the books until it was re-discovered and repealed in 1986, though neither the Union nor the Confederacy had ever recognized the state.

As early as the 1840s, Andrew Johnson, then a Tennessee state senator, introduced state legislation—which failed—calling for East Tennessee to separate from the rest of the state. After the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, Unionists and secessionists campaigned for their causes throughout the state. Early referendums failed on whether to hold a convention discussing secession, but June 8, 1861, Tennesseeans voted in favor of an ordinance to secede. Most eastern counties remained heavily against.

According to Life in Civil War America, more battles were fought in Tennessee than any other state except Virginia. After the Union victory at Fort Donelson in 1862, Johnson became the state’s military governor.

Remember, you can nominate a Civil War event for this series—just click Comments or e-mail me.


Civil War
Friday, June 17, 2011 12:22:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
Genealogy News Corral, June 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • The renowned genealogy portal site Cyndi’s List has been upgraded with improved navigation, a custom database, and a custom administrative interface to make using the site quicker and easier for both visitors and Cyndi. Visit the site at CyndisList.com.

Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, June 17, 2011 11:38:07 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
We Knew Him When!
Posted by Diane

Back in the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine, we had an article about Anthony Ray, a young genealogist, member of California’s Antelope Valley Genealogical Society and webmaster of The Berreyesa Researcher

Anthony, now a junior majoring in music at West Coast Bible College in Lancaster, Calif., has just been awarded the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant. (Can we spot ‘em or what?)

Here's Anthony:

He was introduced as the grant winner during a banquet at last week’s Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank.

You can read our 2008 article on Anthony Ray here and see the press release about the Suzanne Winsor Freeman grant here


Genealogy Events | Genealogy for kids
Friday, June 17, 2011 10:24:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, June 16, 2011
A Marriage Certificate Finds its Family
Posted by Grace

Whenever I find loose family photos or paperwork at antique malls (which is very often, because I love antiquing), I always feel sad for the families separated from the ephemera. On a trip home recently, my dad showed me a marriage certificate he'd found in an estate sale cleanout. (Guess where I get the antiques habit from?)

This beautiful certificate was for Walter C. Peck of Cleveland, Ohio, and Irene E. Kershner of Berwick, Pa., who were married on July 5, 1924, in Berwick, Pa., by the Rev. H.R. Shipe. I just had to know if this marriage certificate had a family that would want it.

So I did a little genealogical detective work on Ancestry.com.


(Click the image to enlarge it)

I found a Walter (age 31) and Irene Peck (29) living at 1273 Bonnieview, Lakewood, Ohio, in the 1930 census (recorded on April 5, 1930). They had two children, Clarke (5) and Carlos (8 months), and Walter was a ticket agent for a steam railroad. They rented their home for $50 a month and owned a radio set.

But Irene also showed up listed with her parents, William and Sarah Kershner, at 373 Monroe, Berwick Township, Pa., on the 1930 census (recorded April 8, 1930). Her two sons, Clark (listed as 4 and 11 months) and Carlos (7 months), are also included. (I'm figuring they were visiting during enumeration time.) I found the Kershners at the same address in the 1910 census, with Irene, 10 at the time, being among seven listed children.

Irene pops up in the 1920 census as a sister-in-law to Jacob and Lucretia Nagel in Lakewood, Ohio. She worked as a stenographer at a chemical company.

A WWI draft registration card filled out June 5, 1918, for a Walter Clark Peck living at 1339 E. 80th St. in Cleveland states he worked at a chemical company in Cleveland -- perhaps Walter and Irene had a workplace romance. Walter's emergency contact was his mother, Elizabeth Peck, who lived at the same address. Walter shows up on the 1910 and 1920 censuses living with his parents, Clark W. and Bessie Peck, in Cleveland.

Ohio death records show Walter C. Peck, born in 1897, died at home in Fairview Park, Ohio, on Nov. 13, 1961. I couldn't find a death date for Irene; Carlos Peck passed away in 2002.

But Clark Peck is still alive, and I called him on the phone today. He's a bit hard of hearing, so I mostly spoke to his wife, Beryl (Heiser) Peck, who confirmed pretty much everything I'd found.

Beryl said Walter Peck and Irene Kershner had met at Grasselli Chemical in Cleveland, where they'd both worked. Walter later worked for the Canadian Pacific Rail for many years; Beryl said Walter traveled around the world a couple times before he passed away in his 60s. Irene lived until the last 1980s. Now in his late 80s, Dr. Clark Peck practiced dentistry and taught at Case Western Reserve University for 30 years. He and Beryl now live in Westlake, Ohio, and have two children and many grandchildren.

By the time I got off the phone, I was tearing up from happiness. Beryl thanked me multiple times for contacting them -- I'll be mailing out the marriage certificate (and a copy of this blog post) to her and Clark today. I'm so glad that this beautiful record will return to its family -- and stay with them for many years to come.


Related resources:
Ancestry.com | saving and sharing family history | Vital Records
Thursday, June 16, 2011 2:49:24 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [11]
Build Your Genealogy Skills From Home at Our Virtual Conference
Posted by Diane

We’ve been keeping something up our sleeves for the end of the summer, but it’s time to let the cat out, at least a little bit.

We're planning our Family Tree University Summer 2011 Virtual Conference to give you an intensive dose of genealogy education without leaving home (or the library, or your sister’s house, or the table at the coffee shop where you’ve parked your laptop). 

The Virtual Conference is an online workshop from Friday, Aug. 19, to Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011. Attendees get an all-access pass to view 15 pre-recorded video classes and participate in live chats. You can join in every day or as your weekend schedule allows.

Classes are organized into three tracks:

  • genealogy technology
  • research strategies
  • ethnic research

A detailed list of classes and instructors is coming soon.

You’ll be able to download classes to watch again later or access ones you’ve missed, and you'll get a swag bag of ShopFamilyTree.com goodies.

Stop by Family Tree University for more Virtual Conference details and our early bird discount code on tuition (good until July 15)


Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Webinars
Thursday, June 16, 2011 11:08:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Free Webinar on Writing Your Memoir
Posted by Diane

If your family history research has led you down the path of writing—and maybe even selling—your life story, think about registering for this free, hour-long webinar hosted by our friends at Writer’s Digest magazine.

How to Write a Marketable Memoir, taking place Monday, June 20, at 1 pm Eastern (that’s noon Central, 11 am Mountain and 10 am Pacific), will give you tips on how to self-edit, “hook” readers, find your voice, and research the potential market for your work.

The webinar is presented by literary agent Paula Balzer, author of the book Writing and Selling Your Memoir.

Click here to register for the free How to Write a Marketable Memoir webinar.


saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 11:20:03 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, June 13, 2011
Father's Day Gifts for Family History-Minded Dads
Posted by Diane


Apparently, dads get the short end of the parental appreciation stick. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an average of $106.49 on their dads this year. Mother’s Day spending averaged $140.73 (but this gap has narrowed in recent years).

So in the interest of fairness this Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, I browsed around for some ideas for a dad who likes family history. (I’m dying to include what my little Leo is giving his daddy, but I’m afraid of spoiling his surprise, so I’ll show and tell after Sunday.)

  • A framed picture of dad with his kids or grandkids, or dad as a youngster with his dad, is a classic. Or I’ve heard about moms taking pictures of the wee ones wearing dad’s or grandpa’s shoes, tie and hat, and adding a frame. 
  • If you’ve been doing genealogy research, put together some of the items you’ve found into an album (here are some ideas), or burn a CD.

Editor's Pick | Genealogy books | Genealogy fun
Monday, June 13, 2011 5:03:57 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
Visit National Parks Free June 21
Posted by Diane

The US National Park Service will waive all entrance fees on Tuesday, June 21, the first day of summer. 

Among the beautiful and historic sites you could visit are Civil War-related places such as Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home, the Gettysburg battlefield and Appomattox Court House. 

You could convince Dad to take the day off work and celebrate a late, budget-friendly Father’s Day (Father's Day is next Sunday, June 19).

Use the Find a Park feature to find parks by name, location, activity or topic. If you scroll down and click a state on the US map, you'll open a page that shows you all the National Parks in that state.


Celebrating your heritage | Civil War | Museums | Social History
Monday, June 13, 2011 3:06:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 10, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 6-10
Posted by Diane

  • Manassas, Va., is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas (also called Bull Run) with an event July 21-24 featuring battle re-enactments, living history demonstrations and more, including an appearance by Patrick Gorman (Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood in the 2003 film Gods and Generals). Learn more and purchase tickets at ManassasCivilWar.org

Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Historic preservation | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Friday, June 10, 2011 10:02:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 09, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: US Sanitary Commission
Posted by Diane

June 9, 1861, the US War Department sanctioned a "Commission of Inquiry and Advice in Respect of the Sanitary Interests of the United States Forces." Abraham Lincoln signed the US Sanitary Commission into law a few days later.

The new agency coordinated the volunteer efforts of women who wanted to contribute to the Union’s war effort. Members worked as nurses, ran Army camp kitchens, operated soldiers' homes and lodges, made uniforms, organized fundraising “sanitary fairs” (including art exhibitions or teas) and more.

The group had more than 4,000 local branches, according to Life in Civil War America.

The Sanitary Commission was disbanded in May 1866, and is often considered the forerunner to the American Red Cross.

Looking for records? The Historical Society of Pennsylvania holds a collection of records from the Sanitary Commission Philadelphia Branch, a major hub of commission activity, mostly correspondence, receipts and financial papers.


Civil War
Thursday, June 09, 2011 4:19:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Break Through Stubborn Brick Walls
Posted by Diane


You can't find record of your immigrant ancestor's arrival. Great-grandpa has gone missing from the 1910 census—and his mother apparently had no maiden name. 

These are classic genealogy stumbling blocks—but you probably feel like you’ve run up against a brick wall anytime you’ve looked and looked and you just can’t find an ancestor.

Our newest CD, Research Remedies: Best Strategies to Beat Brick Walls and Track Elusive Ancestors, is just for you.

This CD has Family Tree Magazine’s best brick wall-busting help, including:

  • proven research techniques such as cluster genealogy and reverse genealogy

  • solutions to common problems such as elusive ancestors, burned courthouses, hard-to-use pre-1850 US censuses (which name only heads of households), early immigrants, and more

  • tips for finding and using often-overlooked and underused resources, such as coroners' reports, outbound passenger lists, nonpopulation censuses, marriage bonds and others, that may hold the answers you need

  • worksheets to help you organize your research strategy and track conflicting information

One of my favorite things about this CD is that you can watch the tips in action: It also contains our hour-long Brick Wall Strategies webinar.

Click here to learn more about the Research Remedies CD at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Editor's Pick | Research Tips
Thursday, June 09, 2011 9:11:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Enter to Win a Trip to Meet Long-Lost Family!
Posted by Diane

We’re getting together with family history site MyHeritage.com to host an online contest that’ll help you reconnect family ties lost through fate and time.

The contest is open to interested individuals who’ve discovered new living family connections or long-lost relatives through their family history research. 

The winner will get an expenses-paid reunion with a long-lost relative from anywhere in the world, plus a year-long VIP membership to Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-Plus subscription with MyHeritage.com. How’s that for a great prize? 

Two runners-up will win, as well: A digital subscription to Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-plus subscription on MyHeritage.com.

To enter, submit a few sentences describing your discovery and what it means to you by commenting on the MyHeritage.com Blog,  the MyHeritage.com Facebook page  or the Family Tree Magazine Facebook page. The entry deadline is June 15.

Click here for the full contest rules and guidelines.

I can’t wait to see how researching your genealogy has helped you connect with distant family. Good luck!


Family Reunions | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 9:40:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Anouncing our 101 Best Websites for Genealogy: Version 2011
Posted by Diane

We’re super-excited to announce the 101 Best Genealogy Web Sites for 2011—this year’s installment of our annual compilation of our favorite free sites for researching family history.


Many genealogy sites (and other sites that aren’t for doing genealogy per se, but are nonetheless handy for family history) have embraced Web 2.0; this year’s 101 Best Websites roundup tilts a bit in their direction. Unlike last year, when we singled out free websites, the 2011 list includes both free and subscription sites.

The 2011 list appears in the September 2011 Family Tree Magazine (which starts mailing to subscribers any day now, and will be available for purchase June 28), and we’ve also posted them free on FamilyTreeMagazine.com so you can click right through to these great tools for family tree research. 

The sites are divided into 11 categories (for “mega-mart” sites, USA-focused sites, tech tools, sites for researching immigrants, etc.). Just click a category name to see the sites in that category.

You’ll soon begin to see the selected sites wearing “101 Best Websites” badges. Congratulations to all of them, and a big thank-you for making it easier to discover our family histories.

For more help researching your family tree on the web, see the Online Genealogy store at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 4:41:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Mississippi Delta Flood Relief Day at ShopFamilyTree.com
Posted by Diane

Today, June 7, Family Tree Magazine’s parent company, F+W Media, will donate 50 percent of the day’s profits from sales in ShopFamilyTree.com (and our company’s other e-commerce stores) to the American Red Cross for flood relief in the Mississippi Delta.

Here’s just one news story about the impact of the flooding. Our best wishes to all those affected.



ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 9:22:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, June 06, 2011
Getting Ready for the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree
Posted by Diane

It’s almost here! The 42nd Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, one of the most anticipated genealogy conferences of the year, takes place this Friday through Sunday, June 10-12, in Burbank, Calif.

Attendees can choose from 130 class sessions covering a range of ethnicities and geographies, technology tools and research at traditional repositories. The focus ranges far beyond Southern California, as most of today’s Southern Californians have roots someplace else.

Even if you’re not a paid attendee, you can attend a JamboFREE session on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. Several sessions also will be presented as free webinars for up to 1,000 registrants.

In the exhibit hall, which also is free to the public, you can browse 70 commercial vendors—look for the friendly face of Family Tree Magazine's own Allison Stacy. A Society Row in the convention center lobby lets you see what genealogical societies and heritage organizations have to offer.

Allison also will be a guest on Lisa Louise Cooke’s live Genealogy Gems Podcast, Sunday June 12 at noon. There’ll be giveaways, so plan to be in the audience in the “big tent” (seating is first come, first served, and you'll want to arrive early—the event filled to capacity at last year's Jamboree).

Jamboree preregistration is closed, but walk-in registration is available for all three days, or just for one day (there are separate rates for Southern California Genealogical Society members and nonmembers). You’ll find links to those rates here (look under Jamboree Registration)

Keep up with conference news on the Jamboree Blog and on Twitter (the conference hashtag is #scgs11).


Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Monday, June 06, 2011 4:02:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 03, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Battle of Philippi
Posted by Diane

This June 3, 1861, battle, which resulted in a Union victory, was part of a campaign by Maj. Gen. George McClellan, then commander of the Department of Ohio, to protect mostly pro-Union western Virginia and secure railroad bridges.

What may be the first battlefield amputations were performed on the Confederate side. Horrible as it was, this common battlefield surgery, which generally took about 15 minutes, saved many lives, according to Michael O. Varhola in the book Life in Civil War America

One of the patients was 18-year-old James E. Hanger, who lost his leg. After returning home, he crafted an artificial leg from barrel staves with a hinge at the knee. He was commissioned to manufacture prosthetic limbs for other wounded soldiers and patented his device. He founded what is now the Hanger Orthopedic Group, still a leading manufacturer of artificial limbs.


Civil War | Genealogy books
Friday, June 03, 2011 9:52:20 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Genealogy News Corral, May 30-June 3
Posted by Diane

  • Family chart-printing service Generation Maps has changed its name to Family ChartMasters to better describe the company’s services. Visit the website at FamilyChartMasters.com
  • The AARP is holding a sweepstakes with genealogy prizes including a five-hour research consultation with professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak, signed copies of Smolenyak’s books, Family Tree DNA testing, an Ancestry.com subscription and a $1,000 gift card. You don’t have to be an AARP member to enter, but you do need to be age 45 or older. Click here to enter
  • Genealogy wiki WikiTree has announced that Tami Osmer Glatz (who’s written articles for Family Tree Magazine including the January 2011 guide to FamilySearch Centers) is the site’s new Cousin Connector. Her role is to suggest merges between trees and improving the quality of merged ancestor profiles.
  • Thousands of historical Massachusetts and New England maps from the Perkins Collection, the archive of a family-owned surveying business, is now part of Historic Map Works. Available as a home subscription and through many libraries, Historic Map Works links maps with geocode data so you can search them by modern address, keywords, town names, or year. You also can order prints from the site.
  • A new photo gift site called Snapily lets you create photo greetings with 3D effects (you move the card and decorative illustrations look 3D) and flip-animation (you tilt the card back and forth, and switch between two photos). Visit the website to see what each effect looks like. Prices for photo cards start at $2.99. 

Genealogy Web Sites | Land records | Photos
Friday, June 03, 2011 9:30:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 02, 2011
What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?
Posted by Diane

Did you know that in 1943, butter had its own food group? See (click the image for a bigger view):



(and that was before Paula Deen was even born).

From ever-evolving food groups to the War Food Administration during World War II, the government has influenced how and what we eat. The National Archives has a new exhibit detailing those efforts.

"What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government's Effect on the American Diet," open June 10 through Jan. 3, 2012 at the National Archives’ Washington, DC, headquarters, gathers folk songs, war posters, educational films, seed packets and more records dating from the Revolutionary War era through the late 1900s. The hundred-plus items are grouped into themes Farm, Factory, Kitchen and Table.

Here, curator Alice Kamps and Chief Culinary Advisor (how cool a job would that be?) José Andrés talk about their favorite aspects of the exhibition and a surprising discovery in late-1800s files from the Bureau of Chemistry:



Of course, our family heritage and traditions also influence what we eat. Family Tree Books is collecting short essays for a book about real family recipes and the memories that surround them.

If you have a sentimental spot for Aunt Barbara’s snickerdoodles, Nonna’s pasta e fagioli or Mom’s Sunday roasts, see the submission instructions here

Celebrating your heritage | Museums | NARA
Thursday, June 02, 2011 9:40:56 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Get Ready for Genealogy Research Trips With This Month's Ultimate Collection
Posted by Diane


Are you hitting the road (or air) this summer for family history—whether your destination is a library, FamilySearch Center, courthouse, cemetery or ancestral hometown?

You can get the most out of your trip—and save money while you’re at it—by using the advice in our Ultimate Research Trip Collection to prepare for your trip. Here’s what’s in it:

  • Genealogist's Research Trip Planner e-book download: This book (which was my pet project for a couple of weeks) has sections on planning research trips, what to pack and working out your budget; accomplishing your research objectives at the library, cemetery, FamilySearch Center or courthouse; and walking in your ancestors’ shoes via museums, re-enactments and historic trails. 
  • Family Tree Pocket Reference: This pocket-size book has handy reference material you can look up in a snap, including glossaries, acronyms, timelines, census facts and figures, common names, immigration statistics and much more. 
  • Cemetery Research 101: Family Tree University Independent Study Course download
  • Gravestones "Oldstone" Rubbing Kit for making rubbings of ancestral tombstones

100 copies of this collection will be available only during June, at a savings of more than 60 percent. When they're gone, they're gone! Learn more about the Ultimate Research Trip Collection at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Editor's Pick | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 1:59:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Win Prizes in a Scavenger Hunt for Illinois Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane

This sounds fun: The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) is holding an online genealogy scavenger hunt along with FamilySearch, with a goal to build the Illinois section of the FamilySearch Research Wiki

Everyone’s invited to participate in the Great Illinois Genealogy Scavenger Hunt, going on now through June 30.

All you have to do is find information on Illinois genealogy resources—websites, databases, how-to articles, etc.—and say why a resource should be included in the Research Wiki.

First, visit the Illinois pages of the FamilySearch Research Wiki to see what content is already there (your submitted resources should be original). Then submit your resource using the entry form.

Prizes include a RootsTech 2012 conference registration and a one-year ISGS membership. In addition, a prize will be awarded each day between June 1 and June 30, 2011 to someone drawn at random. For complete details, consult the contest rules.

See a full description of The Great Illinois Genealogy Scavenger Hunt on the ISGS website.

Need ideas for Illinois genealogy resources? See our $3 Illinois State Research Guide digital download, the Illinois section of the Family Tree Sourcebook (which has research tips, resource listings and county-by-county records guides for every US state), and the other how-to products in the Illinois section at ShopFamilyTree.com.


FamilySearch | Genealogy fun | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 8:57:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]