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# Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Now Available: February 2012 (Free!) Family Tree Magazine Podcast
Posted by Diane

The February 2012 edition of the free Family Tree Magazine Podcast, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems, is now available.

Here's what's in store:
  • the Records Preservation and Action Committee campaign to stop identity theft and save the SSDI
  • how hashtags can enhance your genealogy conference experience—even if you're stuck at home (part of the new Social Media Minute installment with online editor Kerry Scott)
  • how to get a genealogy education
  • our top tips from the Spring 2012 Discover Your Roots special issue
  • an interview with Michael J. Leclerc, Chief Genealogist at Mocavo
  • and more!
You can listen to the Family Tree Magazine Podcast through iTunes or on The show notes are on our website, too.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Genealogy Web Sites | Podcasts | Public Records
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 15:35:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Leap Day Sale on Genealogy Guides at!
Posted by Diane

A once-every-four-years date calls for a once-in-every-four-years sale. Leap Day Sale

Today through March 4, you can take advantage of our Leap Day Spectacular to pick up our best-selling genealogy guides, books and more for $2, $9 or $29. For example:
  • Our German, Irish, Scottish, Swedish and many other family history research how-to downloads are just $2.

  • Books including Remember That? and Family History Detective, and CDs including Research Remedies and our 2005, 2007 and 2008 back issues compilations, are just $9.

  • Collections including our Virtual Conference Ethnic Research video classes, the Problem Solver Double Pack, and the Discover Your Roots Kit are just $29.

As always, you get free shipping on orders over $25—digital downloads count toward that total.

Click here to see all the great $2, $9 and $29 deals in the Leap Day Spectacular. Sales
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 09:40:49 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Rumor has it ...
Posted by Diane


Word on the street is that tomorrow, Feb. 29—aka Leap Day—we're having a sale worthy of a day that comes around only once every four years. We hear that a whole bunch of our genealogy how to books, CDs and other ancestor-finding helps will be at $2, $9, and $29.

We'll see you Feb. 29 at Sales
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 11:30:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Free Database Has Info on Patriots of Color
Posted by Diane has published a free database called Patriots of Color.

These records contain information about men and women of color who fought for American independence as soldiers, skilled craftsmen and servants.

More than two years of research, facilitated by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, was dedicated to verifying the service and complexions of patriots from each of the 13 colonies using records such as pension and bounty land application files, muster and pay rolls, lists of troops, court records, legislative records, census records and more.

You can learn the person's name and alternate names used, complexion, state and type of service, and pension and bounty land warrant numbers (if applicable). Here's an example of a database record:

If you find someone of interest, click the Resources Used button at the bottom for more about the resources you can check to get additional information.

Click here to access the Patriots of Color database on

African-American roots | | Military records
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 09:44:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Saturday, 25 February 2012
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Blair Underwood
Posted by Diane

I caught last night's “Who Do You Think You Are?” Blair Underwood episode on Hulu (we went to my nephew's basketball game).

This was my favorite episode so far. More of it took place in libraries and archives than the previous episodes, with lots of looking at records and historians guiding us through their meaning. Second, the profound impact this research had on Underwood really came across.

After taking an DNA test to help trace his paternal side (which his brother Frank has researched in genealogical records—I wonder if Frank has read Family Tree Magazine?), Underwood crisscrossed Virginia from Richmond to Lynchburg and back (and forth again) to trace two branches on his mom’s side.

Among his discoveries in censuses and registers of free “negroes” was a free African-American ancestor, Samuel Scott. Scott owned two slaves, who we learn were probably his own parents.

Due to an 1806 law regarding freed slaves, the parents would’ve had to leave the state or risk being sold back into slavery if Samuel had not purchased them. This shows how important historical context can be when you’re interpreting historical records about your family.

(PS: This website has more information and some transcribed indexes of free African-Americans in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.)

In another branch was an ancestor, Sawney Early, who was institutionalized in the 1900 census. From newspaper articles, we learn about Sawney’s disputes with white neighbors who’d arrived after the war. Sawney was described as wearing odd clothing and believing himself to be the “second Jesus.” He shot a man’s cow that had wandered into his corn, and was himself shot several times. A historian explains Early was likely a “conjuror”—a spiritual leader and healer in slave communities.

At the end, the DNA test results come in and Underwood’s Y-DNA is a match to a man in Cameroon, so he and his father visit their African cousins. The cousin said he took a DNA test in 2005 for a project to connect people in Cameroon to families in America (I wonder if this was the National Geographic Genographic Project). 

A couple of things I want to point out: The DNA testing was very appealing and made it look easy, but I wonder what the chances are of finding such a clear match.

And the show seemed to give up when Sawney Early couldn’t be found in the 1860 census, when he was probably a slave. There are strategies to trace slaves using the 1850 and 1860 censuses, even though they’re not named, and you also can use resources such as wills and estate records and African-American genealogy websites such as these. (Perhaps the researchers tried these methods and came up empty-handed.)

The episode showed that African-Americans can have success tracing their roots in records and through DNA, and it showed how meaningful the journey can be.

Related resources from

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Saturday, 25 February 2012 11:14:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [28]
# Friday, 24 February 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 20-24
Posted by Diane

  • today announced a project to digitize the 3.5 to 4 million historical records from the Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies in England. The records cover parish churches and bishops' transcripts, spanning 1538 to 1990 (1910 for baptisms and 1928 for marriages). also added 359,000 records of UK merchant seamen records covering the years 1835-1857. Its sister site added Petty Sessions order books—court records from the lowest courts in Ireland—from 1850 through 1910.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | | Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 24 February 2012 14:36:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
Family Tree University Virtual Conference Sweepstakes Winner!
Posted by Diane

Congratulations to Barbara Lemley of St. Joseph, Mo., who won a registration to our Family Tree University Virtual Conference in this week's sweepstakes!

Want to join Barbara March 9-11 in a weekend of genealogy classes and networking—without leaving home? Find out more about the Virtual Conference on

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Friday, 24 February 2012 09:43:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Thursday, 23 February 2012
Last Day to Enter our Virtual Conference Sweepstakes
Posted by Diane

Heads up! Today's the last day to enter to win a Family Tree University Virtual Conference registration in our Virtual Conference Sweepstakes.

You could win a registration (a $199 value) to this weekend event full of video classes, live chats with genealogy experts, message board networking and more. No need to book a hotel room, fuel up the car or even change out of your pajamas.

The Virtual Conference, sponsored by Flip-Pal (whose Flip-Pal mobile scanner is at the top of many genealogists' most-wanted lists), takes place March 9-11. You can log in anytime over the weekend it's convenient for you.

Enter your name in the Virtual Conference Sweepstakes at before 11:59 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Feb. 23.

And find out more about the Virtual Conference at

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Thursday, 23 February 2012 10:26:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
This Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Blair Underwood
Posted by Diane

After last week's "Who Do You Think You Are?" hiatus, I'm looking forward to this week's episode featuring actor Blair Underwood. I've admired him ever since "L.A. Law." (I don't have to be a special fan of the celebrity to enjoy an episode, but it does add that extra element.)

In this preview clip, a genealogist guides Underwood through finding family in the 1860 census on—and Underwood realizes his African-American ancestor Delaware Scott was free in 1860, and owned real estate.

And check out this article, in which Underwood talks about filming the show and meeting relatives in Cameroon.

The episode airs at 8 p.m. Eastern/ 7 p.m. Central on NBC.

If you're researching African-American roots like Underwood, you'll find expert research advice in our African-American Genealogy Value Pack, on sale in during Black History Month.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | African-American roots | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, 23 February 2012 08:52:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Upcoming Webinars: Online Census Research and Tracing Indiana Ancestors
Posted by Diane

So much has changed in the online census landscape—and even more changes are in store, with the 1940 census release on April 2—that we're sharing search tips in our new Online Census Secrets webinar with presenter (and Family Tree Magazine publisher) Allison Dolan.

You'll learn key facts about censuses, where to find free census records, how to use the major online collections, search strategies for elusive ancestors and what to expect when using the 1940 census. Here's the basic info:

Hoosier Great-granddaddy? Whether you're descended from the native Miami or Potawotomi tribes, pioneers on the National Road, railroad workers of the 1850s, or African-Americans who migrated north in the early 1900s, it's likely that at some point, some of your ancestors were in Indiana.

In our Indiana Genealogy Crash Course webinar, professional genealogist Harold Henderson will show you his strategies for finding your Hoosier ancestors. You'll learn history essentials, how to find vital records and other important Indiana resources, the best websites for Indiana ancestor research and more. The basics:

census records | Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 14:46:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 21 February 2012
National Archives Announces Website for 1940 Census Records
Posted by Diane

When the 1940 census is released free online this April 2 at 9 a.m. ET, you can view your ancestors’ records free at

According to the National Archives announcement, no other website will host the 1940 census data on its April 2 release date. Shortly after, though, you’ll also be able to view records free on

The National Archives and the US Census Bureau also are starting a 40 Days to the ’40 Census campaign. You can follow updates on Twitter (the hashtag is #1940Census), Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, and the blogs NARAtions and Prologue: Pieces of History.

The video below gives you a behind-the-scenes look at census preparations and tips on how to access the data on April 2—such as figuring out the enumeration district (ED) where your family lived. We explained how to do this in a post about Morse's One-Step questionnaire that guides you through the process.

To figure out the ED, you'll need to know your ancestors' address (or the street name and a cross street) at the time of the census. If your family didn't move between 1930 and 1940, you also can use their ED in the 1930 census to determine their ED in 1940.

census records
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:24:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, 17 February 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • has added new records including FamilySearch community trees dating back to around 1500, and 1930 census images (the majority of the 1930 census images are now available, with more images from this plus the 1920 and 1920 censuses coming online over the next several weeks).
The additions bring the count of records available on to more than 2 billion.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | | census records | FamilySearch | Genetic Genealogy | MyHeritage | Public Records
Friday, 17 February 2012 12:43:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
Presidents Day Sale on Genealogy Resources at
Posted by Diane

Happy President’s Day! We’re marking the occasion with a big President's Day sale! President's Day Sale

You'll save up to 46 percent on selected genealogy books and how-to articles, including:
  • Guides to help you research ancestors in Illinois, Virginia and Washington DC

  • Our collected State Research Guides book with advice for tracing your ancestry all across the United States

  • Our Military Research Guide CD and other guides to finding records of ancestors in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I and World War II, and other American conflicts

  • The book Life in Civil War America by Michael O. Varhola

  • The book Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites by Brian Lamb
See for the full list of what’s included in our President’s Day sale.

As always, you get free shipping on orders of $25 or more, and Family Tree VIPs get an extra 10 percent off.

And if you suspect there's a US president in your family tree, check out our presidential genealogy research resources on Sales
Friday, 17 February 2012 09:25:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 16 February 2012
Free for a Limited Time: Canadian Vital Records, Japanese Internment Camp Records, 1930 Census
Posted by Diane

Two sites have limited-time free record offers:
  • is offering free access to two databases now through Feb. 23 to mark the 70th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which sent 120,000 Japanese-Americans and residents to internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor: 
  • Update: I also just received an newsletter stating that the site's 1930 US census collection will be free through Feb. 20.

In both cases, you'll need to set up a free account with the site (or log into your existing account) to view record matches.

Asian roots | Canadian roots | census records | Free Databases | Vital Records
Thursday, 16 February 2012 11:33:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [7]
Family Tree University Virtual Conference Sweepstakes!
Posted by Diane

Family Tree University is holding a Virtual Conference Sweepstakes! Now through Feb. 23, enter and you could win a free Virtual Conference registration—that's a $199 value.

The Virtual Conference, taking place March 9-11, is a weekend of family history learning and networking through video classes, live chats, a forum, a virtual exhibit hall, a swag bag and chances to win prizes. No plane tickets, hotel stays or other travel expenses—just log in and you're there.

Go to by February 23 to enter the Virtual Conference Sweepstakes. Good luck!

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Thursday, 16 February 2012 09:00:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Q&A With Dick Eastman, the RV-ing Genealogy Blogger
Posted by Diane

For the “Five Questions” interview of our March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine (page 12), we asked genealogy blogger Dick Eastman about his adventures in his new RV.

(March/April subscriber issues are mailing now, and the digital edition is available at The issue will be on newsstands starting March 6.)

It was hard to choose just five of Dick's answers for the magazine, so I’m putting all of them here. You can read even more about Dick’s peripatetic life from his RV blog.

Q. How long have you wanted to tour the country in an RV?

A. More or less forever. I don't remember when the idea first occurred to me, although I know it was many years ago. I have traveled extensively for business and for personal vacations most of my life. The "vagabond lifestyle" appeals to me. Now, for the first time, I am a homeless person and am enjoying it.

Q. Are RVs hard to drive?

A. Not really. Physically, motor homes are very easy to drive. They have automatic transmissions, power steering, and power brakes. The physical effort involved is about the same as driving an automobile.

However, the driver does have to remember that the motor home is wider and taller than an automobile and it doesn't stop as quickly. In other words, it doesn't stop on a dime. Anyone driving a motor home soon learns to leave a lot of space between the motor home and the vehicle in front of them. You also have to keep an eye open for low bridges and overpasses. 

Q. Where are you most looking forward to visiting in the RV?

A. Anyplace I have never visited before. While I have been fortunate enough to visit many well-known tourist attractions, I have missed hundreds of smaller "gems" and I hope to change that. I want to go to the balloon festival in Albuquerque, the huge airshow in Oshkosh, Wis., and drive the winding road in Deals Gap, NC and Tenn., which is supposedly the most winding road in North America, an attraction for anyone who owns sports cars. It has 318 curves in 11 miles. I hope to drive it in a sports car, not in the motor home. (I tow a car behind the motor home.)

Q. If 1 is someone who wakes up in the morning and decides on a whim where he'll park the RV that night, and 10 is someone who plans out every detail of his itinerary months in advance, what number are you?

A. Probably a 2 or 3. I deliberately do not plan very much. I prefer to be surprised. Occasionally, it backfires, but most of the time it works well.

Q. Have you ever gotten lost in the RV? (While driving it, not inside it.)

A. No. Never. Of course, I do carry four GPSs, a road atlas, a thick book of all campgrounds in the United States, a cell phone, and two two-way radios. It is difficult to be lost.

Q. What do you consider the most essential item for the RV-ing genealogist to possess?

A. Patience. The second most important thing is a good toolkit: pliers, screwdrivers, and things like that. Unlike your home, everything in a motor home shakes when you are driving down the road. The appliances in a motor home suffer a lot more vibration than home appliances will ever encounter. Wires under the dash shake loose, pictures fall off the wall (I had this happen), and other strange things happen. I am almost always performing some minor repair of an unforeseen problem.

Q. If you had to pick, which one of these bumper stickers would you put on your RV?: "This is how I roll" or "Genealogy is TREE-rific!"?

A. Genealogy is TREE-rific!

Q. If you could choose anyone from history as your RV copilot, who would it be?

A. OK, I have to give you two answers: Lewis and Clark. Those two adventurers set off to see things they had never seen before.

I would give honorable mention to several Arctic and Antarctic explorers, except that they spent much of their time in very cold weather. I have already done that. I was born in Maine, lived in northern Vermont, lived in northern New Hampshire, and spent two winters in the Canadian subarctic amongst the Eskimos in in Labrador. I've seen my share of cold weather! Now I am seeking sunshine.

Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | 5 Questions Plus
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 09:51:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Picturing Your Family History
Posted by Diane

Are you learning as much as you should from your old black-and-white family photographs? Are you doing as much as you can to preserve them?

You can make sure the answer to these questions is yes by taking the latest Family Tree University Power Course, Picture Your Family History.

In this one-week course, you'll learn how to:

  • How to analyze photos for clues to discover your family history
  • How to use those clues to learn when and where the photo was taken, and who might be in it
  • How to scan photos to get the best possible digital image
  • Tips to rescue worn, torn, scratched, faded or moldy images
  • Free online photo editing tools you can use to digitally repair photos
  • How to repair damage to facial features in your family photographs
  • Where to get help when you can’t do it yourself

Power Courses give you two intensive hours of learning you can immediately use to solve your family history problems. In the time it takes to watch a movie, you can become a better genealogist. 

Click here to learn more about the Picture Your Family History Power Course. Don't forget to use promo code FTU2011 to save 20 percent on your registration.

The photo above shows my great-grandfather and my grandmother in about 1930.

Family Tree University | Photos
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 10:29:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 13 February 2012
FamilySearch Raises Microfilm Rental Fee
Posted by Diane

Effective Wed., Feb. 15, FamilySearch will raise the fee for renting Family History Library (FHL) microfilm through FamilySearch Centers in the United States and Canada. The higher fee is "due to the increase in the price of raw microfilm stock and the decreasing availability of this product on the market."(The FHL typically reproduces films for loan to FamilySearch Centers.)

The price for a short-term film loan will be $7.50 per roll (that's up from $5.50), with another $7.50 to extend the loan. An extended film loan costs $18.75. A microfiche loan costs $4.75.

See the full announcement from FamilySearch here.

FamilySearch is posting millions of digitized records (which are being indexed by volunteers) on; see if the records you need are there before you pay to rent the film.

Learn how to maximize your FamilySearch Center visits with our guide, a $4 download from

Monday, 13 February 2012 10:02:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 10 February 2012
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Marisa Tomei Episode
Posted by Grace

Spoiler alert! Don’t read if you don’t want to know what happened on Marisa Tomei’s episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” on NBC.

I missed some of tonight’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” and here’s why:

But I did see that she started out at home in New York, where her mother retold the family legend about how Marisa’s great-grandfather Leopold was killed in a bar by a jealous husband or someone he owed money to. That was the story Tomei wanted to find out about.

In Italy, Marisa was at first thrown off track by a cemetery record that said Leopold had died of an illness. That would have been a major bummer after all the murder mystery buildup.

But later (after the part I missed except to notice the beautiful Italian scenery and Marisa Tomei’s enviable wardrobe), newspaper articles and court records show that Leopold was killed by a business partner who'd been fired. The man hired a fancy lawyer and got off with a minor charge, then disappeared.

I think my favorite part of the episode was the letter a cousin wrote to Marisa to share memories of Leopold’s wife Adelaide. What a dream that would be.

If you missed this episode, you can watch it on the show's website.

See our "Who Do You Think You Are?" page for beginning research resources including our free downloadable Getting Started Cheat Sheet, plus show news and tweets.

If you have Italian roots to research, consult our $4 downloadable Italian Genealogy Guide and the book Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans by John Philip Colletta.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Italian roots
Friday, 10 February 2012 21:57:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
CD & DVD Clearance at!
Posted by Diane

We're having a CD and DVD Clearance Event today through Monday at!

You'll save 50 to 75 percent on how-to genealogy products including
  • 10 Years of Family Tree Magazine 2000-2009 DVD
  • Trace Your Roots Online CD
  • Family Tree Passport to Europe CD
  • Research Remedies CD
  • ... and more!

Click here to see everything included in our CD and DVD Clearance Event! Sales
Friday, 10 February 2012 16:01:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 6-10
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has added another 30 million new, free records to its historical records website—16 million indexed names and 14 million browsable images. Highlighting the additions are new databases from Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Micronesia, Slovenia and the United States. The new records also include millions of US births, marriages and deaths, and over 9 million church records from Sweden. See the list of new collections here.
FamilySearch also has launched a free mobile app for the iPad, iPhone and Droid that lets volunteers index digitized records. You can find it by searching for FamilySearch Indexing in the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace.
  • Library and Archives Canada is starting a monthly podcast series called Discover Library and Archives Canada (LAC): Your History, Your Documentary Heritage. Episodes will introduce you to LAC services and archivists. You can subscribe to episodes using RSS or iTunes, or tune in on the LAC website.
  • Genealogists have formed the Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO), to develop standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history informaiton. The goal is to make data exchanging work with different genealogy websites, software, applications and other services. FHISO will sponsor the Build a BetterGEDCOM Project, a grassroots effort started last year. | Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Historic preservation
Friday, 10 February 2012 15:00:43 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Tonight on "WDYTYA?": Marisa Tomei Explores Her Italian Roots
Posted by Grace

Tonight on NBC's “Who Do You Think You Are?” actress Marisa Tomei explores her roots in Italy and tries to unravel a murder mystery in her family.

Here’s a preview video of Tomei receiving a letter from her 83-year-old Italian first cousin twice removed.

Of course we'll blog about the episode right here.

Ready to research your own Italian roots? Consult our $4 downloadable Italian Genealogy Guide and the book Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans by John Philip Colletta.

And see our "Who Do You Think You Are?" page for beginning research resources including our free downloadable Getting Started Cheat Sheet, plus show news and tweets.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Friday, 10 February 2012 08:48:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 09 February 2012
Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers FTU Course: Just $39.99
Posted by Diane

If you're researching African-American ancestors, we've got a great deal on our Family Tree University course Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers: Research Strategies for Success, with instructor Tim Pinnick.

Thanks to a sponsorship from GenealogyBank, registration in the four-week session starting Feb. 20 is just $39.99 (down from the regular $99.99). So if you've been thinking about taking this course, now's the time.

You can learn more about the class and see the syllabus here. Past students have been surprised at the number of newspapers that have been published in the United States covering African-American communities.

Also check out Tim's Newspapers forum at Afrigeneas, one of our favorite genealogy websites for those tracing African-American roots.

African-American roots | Family Tree University | Newspapers
Thursday, 09 February 2012 10:00:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
RootsTech News Wrap-up
Posted by Diane

The RootsTech conference was the talk of the genealogy world last week. For those of you catching up on conference news, here's a listing of our RootsTech posts: Keep an eye on and's YouTube channel for each organization's recorded presentations to become available.

Next year, RootsTech will be a little later in the year, March 21-23, in Salt Lake City. | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Videos
Thursday, 09 February 2012 09:10:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 08 February 2012
Save $$ With Our Virtual Conference Early Bird Rate!
Posted by Diane

I wanted to give you a heads up that the $50 early bird registration savings for our Spring 2012 Virtual Conference is good through next Monday, Feb. 13.

The Virtual Conference, taking place March 9 – 11, is packed with video classes, live chats, message board discussions, a virtual exhibit hall and more.

See all the Virtual Conference details at and use promo code FTUVCEARLY to get the early bird rate.

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 09:00:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 07 February 2012
RPAC Announces "Stop ID Theft NOW!" Campaign to Save SSDI
Posted by Diane

As part of its "Stop ID Theft Now!" campaign, today the genealogy Records Preservation and Access Committee (a joint task force of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society) plans to launch a petition drive to help preserve access to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

Update: Click here to read and sign the petition. (Note: The page took awhile to load for me.)

Click here to read FAQs about the petition and how to electronically sign it. I recommend reading them, as I encountered some hiccups in the process of creating an account and clicking to sign.

Last week, we blogged about genealogists' exclusion from a hearing of the House Ways & Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security. Read about SSDI threats including a bill that would eliminate it here.

The RPAC petition will urge measures that should immediately "curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from deceased infants and adults."

The SSDI issue came to light after heartwrenching news reports of bereaved parents contending with identity theft when criminals filed tax returns with their deceased children's SSNs.

But eliminating SSDI access won't stop identity theft, say many genealogists. It won't prevent hackers from stealing personal data from government and corporate computer systems, nor will it force the IRS to adopt better practices for preventing and investigating identity theft-related tax fraud, and improving handling of fraud cases.

RPAC encourages family historians and genealogical societies to start by finding out who their representatives are. lets you enter your ZIP code to find out.

Genealogy Industry | Public Records
Tuesday, 07 February 2012 10:29:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
They’re Alive! Get Genealogy Answers by Finding Living Relatives
Posted by Diane

So I think I finally found out whatever happened to my great-grandmother's brother, who was my grandfather's baptismal sponsor. But I'm feeling tentative about the next steps: researching that family forward and then (gulp) contacting a descendant to try to find out if we really are cousins. 

So I'm looking forward to this week's Family Tree University webinar, "They’re Alive! Finding Living Relatives."

"Living people can be found using some unlikely online tools," says presenter Thomas MacEntee. "You’ll be surprised at how much information is made public about a person and how to find it. And it is all legal and access is often free." 

If that makes you feel just a little bit like a stalker, don't worry—Thomas also will talk about the best, non-stalkerish approach when contacting possible relatives. Phone call? Email? Letter? What should you say?

Here's the webinar info: 

  • Presenter: Thomas MacEntee, owner of Geneabloggers and High-Definition Genealogy
  • Date: Thursday, Feb. 9
  • Time: 8-9 p.m. Eastern/5-6 p.m. Pacific
  • Bonus: Register today and you'll also receive a free download of our guide Research Strategies: Find Living Relatives.

Go here to learn more and register for our They’re Alive! Finding Living Relatives webinar.

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Tuesday, 07 February 2012 09:16:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, 06 February 2012
On a Genealogy Roll: My Research Finds
Posted by Diane

This is the year I was expecting to put genealogy aside while I run after a toddler and pry pieces of dog food out of his mouth. But I've been on a lucky streak, genealogically speaking. I made Some finds in January:
  • Then I tried out the Genealogy Today data service after I saw an announcement the Surname Search was updated. I try out resources on my family names, though I never expect much when I type in Haddad. But this time, the hit I got partially answered a longstanding question. The site has indexes from biennial reports of a Texas orphanage, which list my grandfather and his two siblings as "inmates." I knew my grandfather and his brother were there, but their sister's whereabouts at that time had been a mystery.
To top it all off, my husband asked for help with his family history, which is kind of like getting a present, so we did some genealogy together. Now I just hope I didn't jinx it, and this lucky streak continues. | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | Oral History | Research Tips | Social History
Monday, 06 February 2012 11:06:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Friday, 03 February 2012
“WDYTYA?”: Martin Sheen
Posted by Diane

Spoiler alert! If you don’t want to know what happens in season 3, episode 1 of “Who Do You Think You Are?” stop reading right now.

I got Leo settled into bed just before 8, so I got myself settled on the sofa to watch the premiere episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” season 3, featuring Martin Sheen.

Sheen’s Irish-born mother died when he was 11. I was kind of hoping this show would start like others, with a trip home—Sheen grew up in Dayton, Ohio, northern neighbor to my Cincinnati hometown—but we moved right into the stories of Sheen’s two revolutionary uncles.

His mother’s brother was an activist during the Irish Civil War of 1922 to 1923, but, it turns out, not on the side Sheen thought: He was opposed to the Irish Free State and the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Sheen’s father’s brother Matias stood up against Gen. Francisco Franco for the Spanish republic in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

Sheen visits prisons where each man was held. The show draws strong parallels with Sheen’s own social activism.

Next, Sheen delves farther back into his father’s family. He learns the names of his fourth-great-grandparents—and that his fourth-great-grandfather had several children with another woman (prompting a “Whoops!” from Sheen). The man also was a judge prosecuting a young woman in the community who’d had an affair, probably with a cleric.

And the better-than-fiction twist: This young woman’s descendant married the judge’s descendant –branches on the family tree from which Sheen sprang.

If you share Sheen’s Irish heritage, check out our Irish Heritage Research Guide digital download or the Irish Research 101 and 201 Family Tree University classes. 

Your ancestors hail from Spain, like Sheen’s paternal branch? Consult our Spanish and Portuguese Research Guide digital download.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, 03 February 2012 22:01:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Mocavo Rolls Out New Content, Features
Posted by Diane

Genealogy search engine Mocavo announced searchable content additions and new capabilities in conjunction with the RootsTech conference.

Content additions include:

  • Allen County Public Library’s Internet Archive records
  • Social Security Death Index
  •'s World Family Tree.

The new features are:

  • Historical Record Storage & Sharing Platform: You can self-publish high-resolution documents to for free. They're automatically digitized using Optical Character Recognition, and if you choose, your documents will be searchable by all Mocavo users.

  • Mocavo is releasing iPhone and Android applications (not yet available, but promised within the next 30 days) that let let you upload photos of documents and family pictures to the aforementioned document sharing platform. You also can use the app to search with Mocavo's Search engine.

  • The Mocavo Discovery Stream will deliver a constant source of new user-generated content—whether people are uploading family trees and documents or finding matches using the search engine—similar to the Facebook newsfeed or Pinterest.

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at

Genealogy Web Sites | RootsTech
Friday, 03 February 2012 15:19:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
GeneTree Introduces New Test, Consultation Service
Posted by Diane

Genetic genealogy company has introduced a new consultation service and test for getting in-depth genealogical information from your DNA.

The Family Consultation Service (starting at $49.99) is an in-depth examination of your genealogical data and DNA test results. It's designed for avid genealogists using DNA testing to identify ancestors in specific family lines.

Similarly, the Y-19 test ($94.99) is intended for those who've already done some DNA testing and know their haplogroups. "These 19 [markers] are very fast-mutating markers," says GeneTree CEO Scott Woodward.

That makes them useful for identifying more-specific family relationships, especially when several members of a family group have been tested.

The test is best used in association with a consultation, says Woodward. "Many genealogists don't know how to get the most out of the interpretation. For instance, there is a lot you can learn by one single little mutation that two people share. There are a lot of people who need someone to look at their genealogical DNA data and tell them what it means."

If you're at RootsTech, is offering free 10-minute genetic genealogy consultations.

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at

Genetic Genealogy | RootsTech
Friday, 03 February 2012 14:55:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [11]
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Premieres Tonight With Martin Sheen's Roots
Posted by Diane

Tonight's the night! Season 3 of the genealogy-reality series "Who Do You Think You Are?" debuts on NBC, with a look at actor Martin Sheen's Irish and Spanish roots.

Here's a quick preview of season 3 (I know that's not Martin Sheen below):

I was already excited about the season, but even more so after a media conference call with Sheen on Monday. He was brimming over with enthusiasm about the ancestors he discovered through the show. You'd think he met them in person.

I asked about the location where he felt most connected to his roots, and he spoke about the cathedral in Tui, Spain. (You can see it here.)

"That is a place that I have visited many times since 1969, when I made my first trip to Spain and to visit my father's community. And I only learned during this last trip with "Who Do You Think You Are?" that my great- great-great-great-grandfather is buried in that cathedral," Sheen said. "And I never knew that.

"In fact I used to walk over his burial spot in the cathedral. Everybody did. You are just walking along. And when I got to the show—I don't think it is included in the show—but they showed me where it was. I was not aware until we did the show of how intricately connected my heritage was with that town and specifically that cathedral."

The Martin Sheen episode starts tonight on NBC at 8 p.m. ET (check your listings for local times). If you miss it, you'll be able to catch it on Hulu and on the show's website (which is probably how I'll see it, unless a certain one-year-old observes his bedtime to the minute).

Of course we'll be blogging all about it. Keep up with this season and get our beginning genealogy guidance—for yourself or for friends who get inspired watching "Who Do You Think You Are?"—on our "Who Do You Think You Are?" landing page.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Friday, 03 February 2012 09:49:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 02 February 2012
1940 Census Community Project Update
Posted by Diane

Here's an update on the 1940 Community Census Project, a partnership among FamilySearch, and It was the focus of a RootsTech bloggers dinner yesterday.

The 1940 census images will be hosted on, the National Archives website. Archives has been awarded the digitization contract for these images.

Indexing will begin as soon as the records are released online April 2. Each page will be indexed twice, with a third arbitrator to resolve difference in the two indexes.

FamilySearch is making upgrades and doing "test loading" to make sure its site can handle the extra traffic the indexing project will generate.

Chris Van Der Kuyl, CEO of brightsolid (the British parent company of, described the 1940 project as "one of the most exciting crowdsourced projects on the internet." A video commercial to be released on YouTube will bill it as a "national service project" and genealogical societies will receive incentives for galvanizing members to index.

Part of the funding provided by brightsolid and will be dedicated to producing other free digital collections. The idea is that money that might otherwise be used to build competing census collections will now go to creating access to material that's not already online. It's "putting money into the community that would otherwise be duplicated," says John Spottiswood of

To volunteer for 1940 census indexing, sign up on the 1940 Community Census Project website.

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at | census records | FamilySearch | RootsTech
Thursday, 02 February 2012 15:40:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Brightsolid to Launch 1st Pay-As-You-Go Census Records Site
Posted by Diane

Remember how British genealogy company brightsolid was poised to announce plans to launch a new product for the US market? Here it is:

Brightsolid just announced a new pay-as-you-go site for US census records, 1790 to 1930, plus 1940 when it's released later this year. It'll be called, and is already live as as an early beta version that invites user feedback.

This is the first site that will let you search for your ancestors in the cnesus, then purchase the record with their names—a model that'll potentially make census research more affordable and accessible to those who don't want to commit to a genealogy website subscription.

No doubt brightsolid hopes—I know I do, too—that the pay-as-you-go service will lure casual researchers to get more involved in family history research. visitors will be able to search for free. To view documents and download them to their computer, they can subscribe or buy pay-as-you-go credits, which start at $7.95 for 1,000 credits (good for 60 days).

Pay-as-you-go costs could add up if you're not sure you've found your ancestor and have to check a bunch of records, but if you're sure you've found the right folks, this could be your most cost-effective approach.

With the confluence of several factors—a growing interest in family history, economic concerns, anticipation for the 1940 census, and "Who Do You Think You Are?" showing genealogy to the masses— is poised to be a big hit. What do you think? (Hit Comments below to share your thoughts.)

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at

census records | Genealogy Industry | RootsTech | Sales
Thursday, 02 February 2012 11:33:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [8]
Search Thousands More Family Histories on
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has moved its online books collection from the Brigham Young Family History Archive site to a beta site at (You also can go to and click the Books tab.)

Digital book operations manager Dennis Meldrum says approximately 17,700 books were moved, and a backlog of 13,300 books—which wouldn't fit onto the BYU site—were added.

That means you can now search upwards of 31,000 family history books at Another 4,500 will be added this week, with 25,000 more to come during 2012.

You can keyword-search the entire text of the books and download an entire book (instead of one page at a time, as was the case on the BYU site). "We are working to improve the download experience over the coming weeks," Meldrum says.

We're joining in the RootsTech excitement with conference specials for everyone! You'll get 20 percent off select online genealogy titles at

FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy books | RootsTech
Thursday, 02 February 2012 09:07:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, 01 February 2012
Ultimate German Research Collection
Posted by Diane

If you're like me and have German ancestors, you're part of the United States' largest heritage group: German ancestry is consistently the most-claimed ethnic background on US censuses.

This month's Ultimate Collection will help you research those folks! Our Ultimate German Research Collection has

  • Find Your German Roots: Family Tree University Independent Study Course download
  • German Newspapers in America (on-demand video class)
  • Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Germanic Ancestors digital book
  • Family Tree Passport to Europe CD
  • Tracing German Ancestry in Eastern Europe download

Plus, you get a 25 percent off coupon for the Family Tree University German Genealogy 201 online course (learn more about this course here).

This collection is a $184 value for $69.99, and it's available only while supplies last, and only in February. Get your Ultimate German Research Collection in

Editor's Pick | International Genealogy | Sales
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 14:30:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]