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# Monday, 30 April 2012
"Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.": Using DNA to Research Ancestors in Slavery
Posted by Diane

Researching enslaved ancestors was the theme of last night's "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr."

All three of the show's guests—Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University; Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, and now on the faculty at Stanford University; and actor Samuel L. Jackson—grew up under segregation. Simmons' parents were sharecroppers; as a child she picked cotton alongside her brothers and couldn't attend school regularly until the family moved to Houston.

Condoleeza Rice was the only one of the three I knew much about, and I admire her for achieving such success despite living in a system designed to prevent her from believing that kind of achievement was possible.

All three also have family stories about white ancestors in their family tree, and identifying them was the focus of the episode.

The show showed some research in genealogical records, but concentrated on using genetic genealogy testing in confirming relationships. For each guest, a potential white cousin was tested.

In the case of Simmons, the test confirmed a relationship, and she and her brothers met the descendants of the man who owned the father of their great-grandmother Flossie.

Each guest—along with high school students participating in the Continuum Project—also took an admixture test, which evaluates percentages of African-American, European and Asian/American Indian heritage along either the Y-DNA line (for a man) or the mitochondrial DNA line (for a woman).

Some tests also can compare an African-American's DNA to that of members of African tribes that were the source of the slave trade, estimating what tribe the person's ancestors in that Y-DNA or mtDNA line came from.

You can watch the show online to see all the test results. Also check the Your Genetic Genealogist blog for a post with more details about the DNA testing in this episode.

My sense is that it's not so much which African tribe a person might be from, but just being able to say that they're from a particular tribe. I feel a certain pride and sense of belonging when I can tell people my ancestors came from Germany, Syria, England and Ireland, and that's missing for people descended from slaves.

African-American roots | Celebrity Roots | Genetic Genealogy
Monday, 30 April 2012 11:02:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Rob Lowe and His Revolutionary War Ancestor
Posted by Diane

In Friday's "Who Do You Think You Are?" actor Rob Lowe learned about his Revolutionary War-era ancestor.'s Josh Taylor helped Lowe find him in the Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogical Research System, which lets you search online for a Revolutionary-era ancestor on which a DAR member's application is based, or for people named in the lineages in DAR applications.

(You can download our tutorial on searching the DAR database on sale for just $1.59 from

But something was wrong: The application had been "closed" because it was discovered that Lowe's ancestor John Christopher East had been mixed up with a similarly named soldier.

Previews hinted at a twist in this episode. It came when a historian showed Lowe his ancestor on a list of prisoners who'd been part of Rohl's Regiment. A sparkle in the historian's eye hinted that he knew something, but only when he showed Lowe George Washington's personal papers did Lowe realize Rohl was a commander of German Hessian troops.

East (listed under his German name, Oeste Cristophe) was among the troops Gen. Washington defeated in the Battle of Trenton, when his soldiers crossed the Delaware River to surprise the Hessians at Christmas.

I remember learning in grade school about these 30,000 men the British hired to fight the Americans, and we kids thought that was pretty bad.

But Lowe's research revealed Cristophe as a sympathetic figure: Among the youngest of eight children, he wouldn't have inherited land or even had the means to marry in Germany. He took a risk in leaving for America at age 22—then staying (as about 15 percent of the Hessians did) after his release from prison.

This story has a happy ending. Taylor's researchers found Christophe on a list of Americans who paid a tax levied to raise money for the war. Lowe is descended from a Patriot after all and he was invited to apply for the Sons of the American Revolution lineage society.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy societies | German roots | Social History
Monday, 30 April 2012 09:03:33 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 27 April 2012
Genealogy News Corral, April 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • Registration is open for the Illinois State Genealogy Society’s (ISGS) Fall Conference, Oct. 19 and 20 in Rockford, Ill. Nine genealogy experts will lead more than 15 workshops on topics such as “Breaking Through Brick Walls” and “Discovering the Real Story of Your Immigrant Ancestors.” Friday will also feature youth workshops. Visit the ISGS website for more details or to register.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Historic preservation | Photos | Social History
Friday, 27 April 2012 14:53:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 26 April 2012
Access a Library of Genealogy Resources With Family Tree Magazine's New E-Books Site
Posted by Diane

If you love getting your genealogy how-to help and guidance digitally, we've come up with a convenient way for you to access Family Tree Magazine's library of genealogy resources.

It's our new Family Tree Magazine E-Books website. With one subscription, you'll get access to hundreds of genealogy books and magazine articles that can teach you how to research your family tree and get the most out of your genealogy hobby.

The e-books (see the available titles here) cover genealogy, history, heirloom identification, sharing and preserving your family history, and more. You'll also get dozens of information-packed issues of Family Tree Magazine.

Use the library anytime online on your computer. (E-book reader apps for Android and iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch support are coming soon!)

This demo video shows you how the site works and the e-reader's features (you even can bookmark places in the text and take notes, and save your bookmarks and notes).

For $79.99 per year, you'll have an entire online library of genealogy resources full of new tips and tricks for discovering your roots.

Editor's Pick | Genealogy books
Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:24:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
This Friday on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Rob Lowe
Posted by Diane

In the first new "Who Do You Think You Are?" in a few weeks, this Friday's episode has actor Rob Lowe exploring his roots. I've heard whisperings that this is a great episode with some surprising stories.

This promo video sure has a lot of superlatives:

Watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" Friday on NBC at 8 Eastern/7 Central.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, 26 April 2012 11:58:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2] Acquires Addressing Genealogists' Concerns
Posted by Diane

It's been all over the genealogy news since yesterday that plans to purchase for $100 million.

About 40 employees of will become part of

Until the acquisition goes through the regulatory approval process, the companies will continue to operate as separate entities. It's unclear how long the process could take.

In a conference call last night with the genealogy media, CEO Joe Godfrey and president Tim Sullivan addressed issues of concern to many family historians.

Here, I've summarized their comments as they relate to some of the questions I've been hearing from genealogists:

Is just trying to eliminate a competitor?'s parent company Inflection is focusing on public records and people-searching (it owns the people-searching website peoplesmart), diverging from's historical records mission. Godfrey and Sullivan say this acquisition makes sense for all parties.

Current plans call for to remain largely as is. "We see a different experience in It's priced and positioned differently [from]. It's another important service that we can continue to invest in," Sullivan says. He vows to invest in's content and technology.

The acquisition gives the opportunity to offer a genealogy product at a lower price point ( subscribers pay $39.95 a year, to's $155.40).

Nor is the acquisition a response to the entry into the US genealogy market of companies such as brightsolid (owner of and MyHeritage, Sullivan says. He emphasized a positive view of the genealogy category's growth and the increase in competition, saying it's an indication of the health of the category.

Sullivan says may work with Inflection in the future, describing the potential opportunity as "tremendous."

Will the sites be too similar?
Sullivan and Godfrey say there's some overlapping content on and, but that how the user experiences each site's content is different and will remain so. "One thing we won't do is make like the user experience," Sullivan says.

"Even though some content might overlap, the way it is presented will have different value propositions to different users," Godfrey adds.

What will happen with the 1940 Census Community Project?
The project, whose partners FamilySearch, and are recruiting volunteers to index the 1940 census, won't be affected, say both men.

Godfrey encouraged volunteers to continue indexing. "Nothing will change as far as the partnership, and nothing will change as far as making the index available for free," he says.

Sullivan says that when FamilySearch was seeking partners in this volunteer indexing project, leadership discussed it at length and ultimately decided that "it wasn't structured in a way that completely was in sync with what we wanted to do with 1940."

He added that would support's participation in the project.

Does this form a monopoly?
They couldn't elaborate on the regulatory approval process for the acquisition, but neither Sullivan nor Godfrey foresees problems. "We're doing this for the right reasons. There's no negative for consumers," Sullivan says. | | Genealogy Industry
Thursday, 26 April 2012 11:51:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, 25 April 2012 to Acquire
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site just announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire competitor for approximately $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities. is owned and operated by Inflection LLC, a Silicon Valley-based technology company.

Since’s launch in January 2010 (before that, the site was called Genealogy Archives), the site has grown to more than 380,000 paying subscribers who pay approximately $39.95 a year. offers access to more than 2.1 billion historical records, including birth records, obituaries, immigration and passenger lists, historical newspapers, and US and UK censuses.

Inflection secured the contract with the National Archives to design and host the archives' website for the 1940 census records, released April 2. also is a partner in the 1940 Census Community project, which has FamilySearch volunteers indexing the 1940 census. is using a paid contractor to create its own 1940 census index. I'm curious to see what happens with this.

From's press release: "This transaction will enable to add a differentiated service targeted to a complementary segment of the growing family history category. In addition, will welcome a team of talented engineers, digital marketers, and family history innovators into the fold and also gain access to a proprietary technology platform that has supported’s rapid growth."

Upon completion of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including expiration of the HSR waiting period, will continue to operate separately retaining its brand and website. Many Inflection employees are expected to join the team.

We'll bring you more on this story as it develops. | | Genealogy Industry
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:40:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Tuesday, 24 April 2012
10 Reasons to Visit Family Tree Magazine at the NGS Conference!
Posted by Diane

We at Family Tree Magazine are super-excited our Cincinnati hometown will be the center of so much family history enthusiasm at the National Genealogical Society 2012 conference.

Here are 10 reasons to visit us in exhibit hall booth 432:

1. Ask what goetta is (hint: you might find it on a menu). Or you could cheat and read this blog post.

Pick up a free copy of the May/June 2012 Family Tree Magazine featuring our Cincinnati research guide plus our complete 1940 census guide, Greek genealogy primer, guide to tracing Jewish ancestors, and more.

Ask about local resources we’ve used to research our own Cincinnati ancestors.

Meet the author of My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories, Sunny Jane Morton, Friday, May 11, 2 to 3 p.m.

5. Browse our newest family history books including the Genealogist's Census Pocket Reference, Discover Your Family History Online, From the Family Kitchen and Family History Detective.

Pick up favorites such as our Organize Your Genealogy Life! CD, Family Tree Magazine 2011 Annual CD, My Family History Research Planner and more.

See what we have for helping you trace German ancestors (Germans were about 60 percent of Cincinnati's population by 1900) and African-American Ancestors (Cincinnati was a Great Migration destination in the 1900s).

Drop your name in our fabulous door prize drawing.

Take advantage of show specials for Family Tree Magazine subscriptions and renewals.

Ask for directions to our excellent Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County or the nearest place to sample Cincinnati chili.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy books | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 16:32:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 23 April 2012
"Finding Your Roots": Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.
Posted by Diane

Last night on PBS' "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. learned about their families' histories.

You can watch the episode online at

Though not related, the two had a lot in common: Both were expectig baby No. 2 at the time of filming, both have parents in the film industry, both have Eastern European Jewish roots on one side of the family, and both also have ancestors in America before the Revolutionary War.

Gates' team could trace the Jewish roots only to the third-great-grandparent generation, but for each actor's other branches, Gates unrolled an enviably long family tree with many generations. (See closeups on the Genea-Musings blog.)

Gyllenhaal learned how her family really got its last name. The story was that a Swedish ancestor created a beautiful book about butterflies and the king rewarded him with a wonderful home known as "Golden Hall." What really happened was that an ancestor took the name after being knighted during the Thirty Years' War.

But like many family stories, there was a grain of truth. Another relative had amassed a collection of beetles that later became world-renowned.

Each star also took a DNA test, and Gates prompted them to compare the roles of nature versus nurture in making up their being. My favorite question of the night was when he asked Downey "Do you think that what happened in your family tree between 1300 and 1965 [the year of Downey's birth] has shaped who you are?"

I do believe that our ancestors' successes and struggles affect the next generation, that each of us can't help but carry these experiences inside us. Genealogy is partly a way of figuring out what's in there.

BTW, in the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine, we'll have Gates' answers to five of our burning questions about his genealogy work.

Related resources from Family Tree Magazine:

Celebrity Roots | Videos
Monday, 23 April 2012 15:30:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Friday, 20 April 2012
Genealogy News Corral, April 16-20
Posted by Diane

  • Military records subscription site Fold3 has added records relating to the Sultana disaster. That's the steamboat whose boilers exploded April 27, 1865, killing 1,700 (mostly Civil War Union soldiers recently released from Confederate POW camps). The ship was carrying 2,200 passengers—far more than the 376 she was built for. Records include lists of former prisoners who survived and those who died. The records are free to search, at least for the time being.

  • The Center for Jewish History (CJH) has announced a partnership with Jewish genealogy expert Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots Foundation (RTRF). CJH will incorporate RTRF’s Eastern European Archival Database and Image Database into its online catalog, expanding access to genealogy resources from Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. Weiner will serve as senior advisor for genealogy services at CJH's Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute.

  • Besides adding 1940 census records and coordinatng the 1940 Census Community Project, FamilySearch has continued adding other records to the free The new resources include seignorial records from the Czech Republic; city records from Nördlingen, Bavaria, Germany; church records from Estonia, Portugal and Slovakia; and marriages from New Jersey. See the updated colelctions and click through to them here.

  • Remember to watch "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on PBS, which will feature actors Robert Downey Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The European-immigrant stories in both stars' pasts are common to many Americans.

  • NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" tonight will repeat the popular Reba McEntire episode. Next Friday will be an all-new episode featuring actor Rob Lowe.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | FamilySearch | Fold3 | Jewish roots
Friday, 20 April 2012 12:41:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 19 April 2012
Genealogists Won't Go Hungry in Minnesota
Posted by Diane

When I heard Minnesota described as a "meaty" state for genealogy research, I couldn't resist asking local expert Paula Stuart-Warren for sneak peeks at what she'll cover in our upcoming Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course webinar.

Here's what Paula sent:

  • Your ancestor wasn't a U.S. citizen in 1918? There might be a two-page Minnesota record with his her name, date and place of birth, residence, occupation, names of children and relatives, arrival in the United States and more. And it's indexed.

  • How many avenues are there to locate a birth, death or marriage record? We'll count the multiple ways.

  • Military service from Minnesota? You'll learn about the state's special questionnaires and bonus applications for the 19th and 20th century.

  • Need a wedding story, business ad, obituary, or other newspaper item? Learn the best place to obtain these.

  • Census indexes? Are there more for Minnesota than other states? Hmmm...

  • What's the largest ethnic group in Minnesota? (It might not be the one that immediately springs to mind.)

  • Are there really 10,000 lakes?

  • What do genealogy, baseball, Prairie Home Companion, the Minnesota State Fair, WCCO Radio, and the Lennon sisters all have in common?

Well, now I'm getting really curious! The Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course webinar with Paula Stuart-Warren is next Wednesday, April 25, at 8 p.m. (now available On Demand!)

Find out more about the Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course here.

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Thursday, 19 April 2012 11:17:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Digitized Lutheran Church Records Coming Soon to
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy website has formed a partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to digitize and index 1,000 reels of the church's microfilm containing millions of the church's baptism, confirmation, marriage, and funeral records.

The parish register ledger books document Lutheran congregations throughout the United States from 1793 to 1940.

The records will become available at later this year. I'm crossing my fingers it'll be in time for our guide to genealogy research in Lutheran records, which will be in the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine.

The guide is part of our new religious records series, which so far has covered Catholic (in the March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine) and Jewish (in the May/June 2012 Family Tree Magazine) genealogy research.

See the full announcement about Lutheran records on here. | Church records
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 15:13:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Researching Genealogy in Land Records
Posted by Diane

Researching your genealogy using land records—deeds, patents, plats, etc.—is often considered advanced. But a genealogist of any level can find an ancestor's land records using the help in our Family Tree Land Records Research Value Pack.

The tools in this collection include:
  • Land Records 101 Family Tree University Independent Study Course download: Master the basics of US land records research, including what documents to look for and where to find them, online and offline

  • Platting Metes and Bounds Properties on-demand video class: If your ancestor's property was surveyed under the metes and bounds system, land records describe it in terms of trees, rocks, fenceposts, streams and roads along the boundaries. This lesson will help you make sense of those descriptions and map out what the property looked like.

  • Platting Rectangular Survey System Properties on-demand video class: Learn how to plat ancestral properties surveyed using the rectangular survey system, also known as the public land survey system.

  • Using Land Records article download: Our guide to land records explains land records from early headrights to claims under the Homestead Act. You'll also learn about property deeds and "dower rights," which can be informative about female ancestors.
The Family Tree Land Records Research Value Pack is deeply discounted this month only: just $49.99! (You'd pay $163.97 to buy each tool individually.)
Click here to get this deal.

Land records | Sales
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 11:02:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 17 April 2012
1940 Census Records and Indexes Update
Posted by Diane

Now that sites have completed their 1940 US census image collections and are working on indexing the records, census news is coming more slowly. Here's where to find 1940 census records and the indexes that are available so far:
  • Record images for all US states and territories are available free, as are searchable name indexes for Delaware and Nevada. An index for Washington, DC, is "in process." A chart on the 1940 census page lets you see indexing progress.
  • FamilySearch: Digitized records are available here for all US states and territories.

The name index for the state of Delaware is now completed and available to researchers. Search Delaware here.

You can use the map at FamilySearch's 1940 census site to see the indexing progress of the 1940 Census Community Project. The darker the state, the more records volunteers have indexed. The completed indexes will become searchable free on FamilySearch, as well as its commercial partners and

The 1940 census record images also are available on, which MyHeritage purchased last year. You'll need to register for a free account on the site (if you don't already have an account there) to view the records.

  • National Archives: Records for all states and territories are available here for free.
P.S. The Ancestry Insider blog has a good comparison of the census record image viewers on the four sites listed above. It might help you decide which site to use for your 1940 ancestor search. | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 16:35:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 16 April 2012
Tips From My First Courthouse Research
Posted by Diane

This post would be more exciting if my courthouse research last week (right before I womanned our Family Tree Magazine booth at the Ohio Genealogical Society conference in Cleveland) had panned out.

But it was kind of a bust, genealogically speaking—no new information and some red tape.

I did learn a few things about courthouse research, though. If that’s what’s on your genealogy to-do list, these tips might help:

1. Ask a local. Cleveland genealogist and Family Tree University instructor Diana Crisman Smith gave me the lowdown on the Cuyahoga County courthouse, parking and other details. If you don't know someone knowledgeable about the place you’re headed, see if the local genealogical society has an online message board.

2. Have backup parking plans. The parking garage was full, so I drove around downtown and finally snagged the last space in a surface lot. Smaller towns might not have the same issues.

3. Be as prepared as possible. The Cuyahoga County probate court has an online docket you can search to find the case file numbers you need.

Other ways to be prepared: Call ahead and make sure there isn't a furlough day or special holiday on the day you plan to go. See if there are any restrictions on what you can bring (such as pens or backpacks). Bring cash for parking, copy fees and other expenses.

3. Don't be afraid to ask. I'm sure things work differently in every courthouse, but there was a procedure here. And there was no hand-holding, so I had to ask. I was told to write the case number on a request card for a clerk to retrieve the file. But for my relatively recent probate files (1980s and 90s), I was to use the computers to get microfilm numbers, then pull the film.

I thought all the microfilm readers were equally bad, but I should have asked about that too—a clerk walked by and showed me a better reader. Because the computerized docket didn't extend back as far as my great-grandfather's death, I had to ask about any earlier files, too (and unfortunately, I found out the court didn’t have anything for him).

4. Keep a smile on your face. Even if you think you’re bugging someone with your questions, a smile increases your chances of getting the help you need (as does a succinctly worded question).

5. Bring a camera. There was no place to photocopy the microfilmed records, so I photographed the reader’s screen with my cell phone.

I don't have a tip for this situation: The file I most wanted to look for, a 1924 commitment hearing for my great-grandmother to the Cleveland State Hospital, was confidential—if it exists. Disappointing.

I politely asked enough questions (is it possible to request a search just to see if there’s a file? how long are the records closed? what's the law declaring them closed? what's the procedure for having a file opened?) that I got to speak with a magistrate. He complimented my interest in genealogy, asked about my family history, and said that if the record exists—and chances are slim—the only way to have it opened would be a change in the law.

In the excellent book Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret, journalist Steve Luxenberg describes his quest to uncover 1940s-era institutional records in Michigan for an aunt he’d only recently learned he had. I don't think I want to let this drop quite yet, but I'm also not sure I'm ready for a struggle like Luxenberg's. I'll dig a little and maybe be able to offer tips in the future.

Get Family Tree Magazine's guide to courthouse research, a $4 download, from

court records
Monday, 16 April 2012 13:51:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 12 April 2012
Free WWII, French Canadian Records
Posted by Diane

Free access is coming to two records collections:

The Fold3 (formerly Footnote) World War II Collection is free through April 30. Records include Old Man's Draft Registrations (so-called because men ages 43 to 62 had to register), Missing Air Crew Reports, European Theater Army Reports, photos and more., the Canadian sister site to, is offering free access to French Canadian records from April 17 through 22. Collections include the Drouin database of 37 million names in baptism, marriage and burial recordsfrom Quebec; the Tanguay collection on French-Canadian families; plus church records from Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England.

Thursday, 12 April 2012 16:11:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 10 April 2012
1940 Census Update
Posted by Diane

  • Record images for all US states and territories are available free, as are searchable name indexes for Delaware and Nevada. An index for Washington, DC, is coming soon.
  • FamilySearch: Available record images are Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington

You can use the map at FamilySearch's 1940 census site to see the indexing progress of the 1940 Census Community Project. The darker the state, the more records volunteers have indexed. The completed indexes will become searchable free on FamilySearch, as well as its commercial partners and

The 1940 census record images also are available on, which MyHeritage purchased last year. You'll need to register for a free account on the site (if you don't already have an account there) to view the records.

  • National Archives: Records for all states and territories are available here for free. | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 16:39:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Titanic 100th Anniversary: Genealogical and Historical Resources
Posted by Diane

This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Four days into her maiden Atlantic crossing, at 11:40 pm on April 14, the ship collided with an iceberg. She sank less than three hours later. Of the 2,223 passengers and crew on board, 1,517 died.

The 705 survivors were taken aboard the Carpathia, which docked in New York City April 18. (I've seen sources numbering survivors anywhere from 700 to 710, but I most often found 705.)

Several parts of the world are observing the anniversary: Belfast, where Titanic was constructed; Southampton, England, whence she departed and home to most of her crew; Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the dead were transported and 150 victims rest; and the United States, where the ship was to dock in New York.

This is a great time to learn more about the Titanic and those on board, especially if a passenger or crew member is on your family tree. These are some of our favorite Titanic genealogy and history resources:

  • Encyclopedia Titanica: Find lists of victims and survivors, crew, deck plans, research articles and more.

  • Partial Manifest of Titanic Survivors: These manifests, completed on the Carpathia, name survivors from second- and third-class cabins.

  • Sinking the Myths: Get the truth behind Titanic legends, including the “unsinkable” claim.

  • RMS Titanic: The companion website to traveling artifact exhibitions is from the company that has conducted seven research expeditions to the site of the disaster.

  • Sinking of the RMS Titanic: Get a play-by-play of the disaster, including iceberg warnings that never made it to Titanic’s bridge.

  • Titanic in Nova Scotia: Read about passenger burials in three Halifax cemeteries.

  • Titanic Stories: Learn about the ship’s construction in Belfast.

  • RMS Titanic records: This subscription sites have added Titanic fatality reports from the Halifax Coroner, a Titanic graves list, Titanic outward passengers, deaths at sea, and crew records. Better yet, the Titanic records are free through April 15.

  • Titanic records: This British subscription/pay-per-view site recently published a collection of maritime birth, marriage and death records, which name Titanic crew members and passengers who died at sea. Also new are the White Star Line officers' books containing service records of officers and commanders on the Titanic and other White Star Line vessels. | Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records | NARA | Social History | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 08:50:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Direct Me NYC Helps You Find New Yorkers in the 1940 Census
Posted by Diane

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has developed an online tool to help you find New York City relatives in the 1940 census and find out more (or share what you know) about the places they lived.

Reading about it makes me wish I had family in New York City in 1940.

At the Direct Me NYC site, you can look up relatives by last name in digitized 1940 New York City phone books.

Then once you have the person's address, you can enter it into a search field to find the census enumeration district (ED) number. Clicking the ED links you to the census records on the National Archives 1940 Census site.

In addition, Direct Me NYC pins the address to both a 1940 map and a contemporary map, so you can see how the area has changed. You also can attach a note to the pin, such as memories, names of those who lived there, what the neighborhood was like, or questions for other researchers. Such a neat tool!

"As people use the site, we’ll build a cultural map of New York in 1940 that will assist both professional historians and laypeople alike," says NYPL spokesperson Kate Stober.

census records | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips | Social Networking
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 08:38:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 09 April 2012 to Release AncestryDNA Autosomal DNA Test
Posted by Diane

Before the 1940 census came out, genealogists on Facebook were buzzing about a new DNA test has been teasing but hasn't yet released.

Blaine Bettinger, who shares his expertise on on using genetic genealogy for family history research on his The Genetic Genealogist blog, tried out the new test for Family Tree Magazine. In this guest post, he explains what it can do for your family tree:

With each year, it seems, genealogists get new tools for examining their family trees. 2012 has already given us the 1940 census to spend countless hours with, and now plans to launch a new autosomal DNA test, AncestryDNA, later this year.

Autosomal DNA tests examine thousands of locations throughout your genome, and that information is used to estimate the percentage of the genome that's derived from regions around the world (called "admixture"). Test results also can help you identify genetic cousins by comparing your DNA to all other DNA in the company’s database.

AncestryDNA offers both admixture and matching, which they call “Genetic Ethnicity” and “Member DNA Matches:”

  • Genetic Ethnicity: This calculation is based on roughly 22 populations around the world from proprietary and public databases, with more likely to be added.

  • Member DNA Matches: This tool shows the individuals with whom you share DNA through a common ancestor. You also receive an estimate of the predicted relationship range (such as third cousin, fourth cousin). This tool also offers what I believe is the most interesting aspect of the AncestryDNA test: the automatic comparison of matches’ family trees.

    In other words, if John Doe and I share DNA, AncestryDNA will compare my family tree to his (if he has a public tree on to determine whether any surnames or even individuals overlap. If there are overlaps, both users will be notified.

    As someone who's spent many hours comparing family trees looking for common ancestors with genetic cousins, I believe this tool will prove to be very useful.

AncestryDNA is currently in beta and isn't yet available for purchase. No pricing information is available yet.

Disclaimer: This information is based on the beta version of the AncestryDNA test. Accordingly, results and features are subject to change before the full launch of the test. Further, I received a complimentary test from in order to evaluate the product. | Genetic Genealogy
Monday, 09 April 2012 09:59:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Edie Falco
Posted by Diane

Actress Edie Falco straightened out some family stories on Friday's "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Her mom's cousin had made a family tree with Falco's great-grandfather George Megrath born in Wales; it said George's mother left his father there and took her son to America. Megrath was his mother's surname; his father's surname was Brown.

But at the New York Public Library, censuses show George was born in Wisconsin, with his father from England and mother from New York. Falco compares family stories being passed down to a game of telephone, in which the details get altered with every retelling.

Charles Brown was the "shadowy figure" referred to in episode promos. When an archivist at the Milwaukee County Historical Society helps Falco find "CC Brown" in an 1875 Minnesota census, Falco wisely asks "We don't know for sure this is him?" Brown is a common name.

But the archivist had done additional research in local histories to confirm it was the right man. Turned out he was a newspaper man who married and divorced several times.

Charles mother was a "Sister Katherine Brown," born "at sea" to a sea captain father based in Penzance in Cornwall, England. Unless I missed it, the show never did explain whether she became a nun or how the "sister" became part of her name.

My favorite part about this episode was Falco's search to figure out the truth about family stories. Here telephone game analogy is so true. You can watch it online at the "Who DO You Think You Are?" website.

This deleted scene shows more about another ancestral divorce in Falco's family:

Monday, 09 April 2012 09:29:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
"Finding Your Roots": Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon
Posted by Diane

On last night's "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." Gates revealed the roots of Hollywood couple Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. (You'll be able to catch it online if you missed it.)

I was relieved to learn at the very beginning of that Kevin Bacon's caveman hair is for a movie role. Wondering about it would've been distracting.

Both come from distinguished New England families. A few years back I read the book In My Blood: Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family by Sedgwick's uncle John Sedgwick. I was glad to see him interviewed for this episode, and unsure what work the show's researchers would have left to do.

But they did discover something new: Family patriarch Theodore Sedgwick, a prominent lawyer in Colonial Massachusetts, owned a slave. This was surprising because he took on the case of a slave named Mumbet who sued for her own freedom, claiming that the new Massachusetts constitution made all men free—and she won.

Kevin Bacon's Quaker ancestor also owned slaves, though Gates pointed out that at least his will directed they should learn to read and be freed at age 35.

Gates' visit to a high school classroom demonstrated how little-known it is that slavery was so widespread in the northern colonies. I didn't realize that Quakers hotly debated the issue of slavery before setting themselves against it.

Sedgwick also took a DNA test revealing that she is half Jewish, and she seemed to express relief. But at the beginning of the show, she was described as half Jewish through her mother, so I didn't understand that emotion—perhaps some explanatory scenes were edited out.

And the big drumroll: Gates revealed to the couple that they're ninth cousins once removed (which is very, very distant). Even without the news reports coming out before the show, I would've seen this one coming a mile away, as soon as Sedgwick said at the start of the episode "My biggest fear is that we're cousins."

Celebrity Roots
Monday, 09 April 2012 08:52:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 06 April 2012 Maintenance
Posted by Diane

Just a quick housekeeping note to let you know is undergoing scheduled maintenance and may be unavailable for a brief period. If you visit and aren't able to find the genealogy how-to product you need, please wait a short time and try again. Thank you! Sales
Friday, 06 April 2012 15:30:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
1940 Census Status Update: PM Edition
Posted by Diane Record images for all US states and territories are available, as are searchable name indexes for Delaware and Nevada.

FamilySearch: Available record images are:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia

MyHeritage: Records for all states and territories are available now, as is an index to Bristol County, RI

National Archives: Records for all states and territories are available.

Check for books, article downloads, online classes and CDs on how to research your genealogy in census records. Enjoy looking for your 1940 ancestors this weekend! | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Friday, 06 April 2012 15:26:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]'s 1940s-Era Records Collection Free Through April 10
Posted by Diane

If you don't yet know your ancestor's address in 1940 for purposes of finding him or her in the 1940 census, here's a resource for you:'s collection of 1940s-era records is free to search through Tuesday, April 10. The collection includes birth, marriage, death and military records from the 1940s, plus US city directories and the 1930 US census.

Search the 1940s-era records collection here.

Note this collection doesn't include the 1940 census.'s 1940 census is a separate records collection, available free here. | Free Databases
Friday, 06 April 2012 09:54:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
1940 Census Status Update: Where to Find Your Ancestors' Records
Posted by Diane

You'll now see an "Index Status" column on's census progress chart. has published the first searchable name indexes to the 1940 census for Delaware and Nevada.

The site has almost finished uploading records for the states, predicting completion this morning. At this time, has record images for all states and US territories except Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and South Carolina.


FamilySearch has added a color-coded map showing its progress. Hovering over a state highlights the records-posting and indexing progress for each state (if nothing happens when you hover, try a different browser). On the map, Texas shows as "records unavailable," but they are online at FamilySearch, at least for the counties I tried.

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia


Records for all states are available here, as is an index to Bristol County, RI

National Archives:

All states are available. | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Friday, 06 April 2012 08:41:41 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
Tonight on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Edie Falco
Posted by Diane

Tonight on NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?," (8p.m./7 Central) Edie Falco—the actress who played Carmela on "The Sopranos" and the title role on "Nurse Jackie"—explores her roots.

In this preview, she tries to find out the identity of an unknown figure on her family tree.

Here's another preview:

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Friday, 06 April 2012 08:21:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 05 April 2012
1940 Census Status Update: Where to Find Records for Your Ancestor's State
Posted by Diane
  • Complete: Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Panama Canal Zone, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

  • Almost complete: Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, North Dakota

  • Next up: Maryland, Minnesota, Puerto Rico, South Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
MyHeritage: Records for all states are available now, as is an index to Bristol County, RI

National Archives: all states available | census records | FamilySearch | Free Databases | MyHeritage | NARA
Thursday, 05 April 2012 16:24:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Get Minnesota Genealogy Tips & Resources
Posted by Diane

If you've got roots in Minnesota, you should know the state has a lot more than lakes, the Mall of America and Garrison Keillor.

Minnesota also is a resource-rich state for discovering your family history, as you'll learn in our April 25 Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course: Find Your North Star State Ancestors webinar.

Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course webinar Family Tree Magazine

Lifelong Minnesotan and genealogy expert <a href=" http:="""" target="_blank" border="0">Paula Stuart-Warren will spill secrets and share her favorite sources for finding Minnesota ancestors, which include the terrific Minnesota Historical Society (it has great online resources, too) and regular state censuses from 1865 to 1905. 

Whether you come from Minnesota's American Indian residents, early fur traders and soldiers, or later German and Scandinavian settlers, you'll learn how to find ancestor answers.

Here are the details: 

  • Date: Wednesday, April 25
  • Starting time: 8 p.m. Eastern (7 Central/ 6 Mountain/ 5 Pacific)
  • Presenter: Paula Stuart-Warren
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Price: $39.99 when you register before April 18

Click here to register for the Minnesota Genealogy Crash Course at

Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, 05 April 2012 09:49:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Just How Popular Is the 1940 Census?
Posted by Diane

Remember how it was nearly impossible to access the 1940 census on the National Archives website Monday? (Things are much better now that, which designed the site, has made improvements, and other 1940 census websites are taking on some of the traffic burden.)

These statistics, which made nice and pretty for you, explain why:

1940 census | census records | NARA
Thursday, 05 April 2012 08:32:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 04 April 2012
1940 Census Status Update, PM Edition: Where to Find the Records You Need
Posted by Diane
  • Complete: Alabama, American Samoa, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missuori, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Panama Canal Zone, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming

  • Almost complete: Illinois, West Virginia

  • Next up: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin
  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Virginia

FamilySearch also reported that 1940 Census Community Project volunteer indexers have finished indexing records for Delaware; the index is being processed (it's not yet on the site).

MyHeritage: Records for all states are available now, as is a name index to Bristol County, RI

National Archives: Records for all states are available

See Family Tree Magazine's expert census research tools and guides in | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 16:45:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
1940 Census Searches Done for You
Posted by Diane, a site from brightsolid—a partner in FamilySearch's 1940 Census Community project, creator of the recently launched site, and future host of 1940 census records—has announced a new "We'll find them for you" service.

Visit, submit the name and state of the person you plan to search for, plus other details you might know, and you'll get an email from when the person’s indexed record becomes available on the site.

This will start working as name indexes are made available for 1940 census records. is promoting something along similar lines include —if you have a family tree there, you'll get a notification when a 1940 census record matches anyone on your tree.

On, you'll presumably get a "shaky leaf" hint if an indexed 1940 census record matches someone in your Ancestry Member tree. | census records | MyHeritage
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 15:45:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Using 1940 Census Records on MyHeritage
Posted by Diane

That was fast! MyHeritage announced last night it's the first commercial company to complete its collection of 1940 census images.

The company also published the first searchable index, for Bristol County, RI.

I checked out the MyHeritage 1940 census collection while searching for my grandfather in Bellevue, Campbell County, Kentucky. My mom has taken me to see the house, so I was able to use the One-Step Ed finder to determine the enumeration district.

Then on the MyHeritage site, I chose a state and plugged in the ED number. (If I didn't have the ED, I could use the keyword field to type terms that might appear in an ED description, such as a street name or institution name.)

This pulled up census records matching that ED.

Clicking on the title brought a page with the ED description and a small view of the first page. I clicked the Full Screen button.

Here's the first page of the records in the Myheritage image viewer:

It's pretty straightforward: Zoom in or out with the buttons on the left, use the arrows to page forward and back, and use the X in the top right to close the viewer and return to the record description. The only thing that bugs me is that you can't type in a page number. If you're on page 20 of the records and you want to go back to page 2, you have to click the back arrow 18 times. 

I easily found my great-grandmother and her family, including my grandfather, on Covert Run Pike.

A "suppl quest" label to the left of Great-grandma Mamie's name indicates she answered the extra questions at the bottom of the schedule.

She was 20 when she married and this was her only marriage, and she had four children (the schedule states stillbirths aren't to be included in this total, but unless we have a big family secret, she did count her stillborn baby boy).

Click the download icon at the top right of the image viewer to save the record image. On my computer, this opened the file in a new browser tab—just right-click or control-click to save it to your computer.

census records | MyHeritage
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 14:17:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
1940 Census Status Update: Where to Find Records for the State You Need
Posted by Diane
  • Complete: American Samoa, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Panama Canal Zone, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington
  • Almost complete: Kansas, Nebraska
  • Next up: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oregon, Vermont


  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Virginia

MyHeritage: all states available

National Archives: all states available | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 09:58:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Using the 1940 Census Collection on FamilySearch
Posted by Diane

We've blogged about using 1940 census records on the National Archives site and

When FamilySearch uploaded records for Florida, I started looking there for my great-great-grandfather who died in 1942 at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America retirement home in Lakeland, Polk County.

I didn't know when he moved there, but I was hoping it was before 1940.

The One-Step Unified ED Finder gave me 22 potential enumeration districts (EDs) to search. Yikes.

FamilySearch 1940 census

But on FamilySearch's 1940 census pages, you can type in keywords from an ED description. I was hoping "Carpenter's Home" would be in the description for the ED I needed. Here's how it works:

On FamilySearch's 1940 census page, I clicked Florida. On the next page, chose the county and typed carpenters home into the box labeled "city, township or enumeration district description."

FamilySearch 1940 census

I clicked search, and sure enough, there were two EDs containing the words "Carpenter's Home." So much better than 22. (Interestingly, these EDs weren't in the list I got from the One-Step ED Finder. Even though the home's address is Lakeland, I see that the EDs are categorized as "outside city limits.")

FamilySearch 1940 census

I went with the first option and clicked the link for Election Precinct 23 Carpenters Home (ED 53-85). Here's the first page of that ED:

FamilySearch 1940 census

I used the gray arrows at the upper right to flip to the next pages. On page four, the entries went from being handwritten to typed in alphabetical order (perhaps these residents were unable to answer the enumerator's questions, and their answers were compiled from the home's records).

There was my great-great-grandfather George Frost.

FamilySearch 1940 census

The columns for residence as of April 1, 1935, show he'd moved into the home by that date.

I clicked Save at the top of the page to download the record. The file is named "record image," so you'll want to rename it right away to something meaningful for your research.

census records | FamilySearch
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 09:47:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 03 April 2012
1940 Census Status Update: Which States Are Where
Posted by Diane

1940 census record images for the entire United States are at Here's where else to look for records from your ancestral states:

  • Complete: American Samoa, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Panama Canal Zone, Rhode Island, Virgin Islands
  • Almost complete: California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington
  • Next up: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon & Vermont.


  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Oregon
  • Virginia


  • California
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island (an index for Bristol County, RI, is available)
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 17:02:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Finding Family in the 1940 Census on
Posted by Diane

When I noticed last night that had posted 1940 US census records for Indiana, I decided to look for relatives there even though I hadn't done my enumeration district (ED) homework for them. I did know where these particular relatives lived.

I started with's collection of 1940 enumeration district maps.

In this collection, if you search, you'll get the ED descriptions (listing boundaries of the ED, or areas covered), which are linked to maps. Enter the city, county and state for the location, and a word, such as a street name, that might appear in the description.

If you browse, you go straight to the maps (annoyingly, it doesn't seem easy to go from the map to the accompanying description—this is done much more easily on the National Archives 1940 census website).

I decided to browse. I chose the state and county, and selected "other places" for the city.

This ED map has four pages, and it was easy to find Fairland on the first page.

I wasn't sure which number on the map was the ED I needed, so I opened a new window to search' 1940 census records. (Wouldn't it be SO COOL if the ED maps were linked to the census collection? But they're not, so you'll wan to have the map available to refer back to if you need it.) 

Under Browse This Collection, I chose Indiana, Shelby County, and since Fairland wasn't listed under Populated Place, I picked Brandywine, the township it's in. 73-10 popped up as the ED, which looks right from the ED map. 

I clicked on 73-10 and the first page of records from that ED appeared. I flipped through the pages using the arrows above the record (you also could type in a number to jump ahead several pages).

Tip: If you know the street name where your family lived, check the left edge of the page. Enumerators wrote street names here, so you can see if you're on the right track or skip to the page(s) with the street you need. 

Except my family wasn't in these records. 

Back on the ED map, I roughly traced the farm's location. It's a little north of Fairland, near where Van Buren is marked on the map. 

Now back in the 1940 census collection, I clicked on Brandywine in the "breadcrumb trail" at the top of the page and switched to Van Buren township.

More clicking through pages—and I found them! My great-uncle was one of the two people per page to answer the supplemental questions. (Learn more about the 1940 census questions here.) 

That was fairly easy, since the family lived in a small town. Trying to find my Cincinnati ancestors without an ED was a different story. I had no problem finding where they lived (circled) on an ED map:

But what's the ED number? The map has several faded numbers on it. I tried browsing records from EDs 91-11, 91-12, among others, but none were for this area. Searching the ED descriptions wasn't helpful, either. It would've been a lot faster to use the One-Step 1940 ED Finder before beginning.

On the plus side, I did unintentionally find my grandfather who wasn't from Cincinnati! I noticed the YMCA was in one of the EDs I was searching, and remembered a story from when I was little about my grandfather staying there (we talked about it whenever we heard the "YMCA" song). But I didn't know when. Well, it just happened to be in 1940. Once I find my grandmother, maybe I can figure out where a farm girl from Indiana met a guy from Texas and Cleveland. | census records
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 11:45:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
1940 Census Update: Which States Are Online & Where
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and continue to make improvements to, and it's working better today than it did yesterday.

That's still the only site with all the 1940 US census records, but other sites are quickly adding them. Here's where else you can find which states/territories as of now:

  • American Samoa
  • California
  • Delaware
  • DC
  • Guam
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Panama Canal
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Washington


  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Kansas
  • Oregon
  • Virginia I can't find an at-a-glance list here. You'll see all states in the search dropdown menu, and when you search on one that's not yet available, you'll get results but with a "coming soon" message. Update: The folks at MyHeritage sent me this list of available records, with more coming soon:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Virginia | | census records | FamilySearch | Free Databases | MyHeritage | NARA
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 09:51:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1] Statement on 1940 Census Site Problems
Posted by Diane, the company that designed the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) 1940 census website, reassured genealogists on its blog that problems with the 1940 census website are being addressed.
"As the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) official development partner on this project, is responsible for the website performance and stability. We take full responsibility for the technical issues that have occurred and are very sorry for the inconvenience you may have experienced."
Yesterday after the census was released, many researchers (including yours truly) couldn't get record images to load or even access the site. That was due to traffic that, according to, "exceeded even our own most optimistic estimates several times over." 

NARA reported 22.5 million hits within the first few hours after launching the 1940 census. Last night on its Facebook page, NARA reported 37 million hits. has been working with to add server capacity. This morning before work, I was finally able to access the census records I needed quickly and easily, and found my great-grandfather in Cleveland.

Read the post from here. | census records | NARA
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 08:38:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 02 April 2012 to Provide Searchable Database of 1940 Census
Posted by Diane

Henderson, Nevada-based announced it's now indexing the records to provide a searchable database and census images to both companies and individuals.

The census images are being added at (I don't see any there yet), and the indexed database will be updated as data entry is completed beginning this week.

You'll be able to search basic fields for free, but you'll need a subscription to run advanced searches. Subscriptions range from 24 hours in length to one year. will license the indexed data, along with the images, to genealogy companies and other interested groups.

The press release claims RootsPoint "has a 15-year track record of delivering a high level of completion and accuracy across many different censuses with a detailed quality control process to make sure records that have faded or have poor legibility are not skipped or misrecorded."

RootsPoint's parent company is Intelligent Image Management Inc. (IIMI). "Indexes from other census work from have been independently tested and determined to have among the highest quality ratings in the industry with an accuracy of 99 percent." says IIMI president Upal Rahman.

census records | Genealogy Industry
Monday, 02 April 2012 16:28:58 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
NARA's 1940 Census Site Overwhelmed
Posted by Diane

The huge number of visitors today to the National Archives 1940 census website,, is causing long wait to load pages and blocking out many would-be census searchers altogether. The archives posted this update to its Facebook page:

After waiting for 10 years for the release of the 1940 census, we know that you are frustrated with the difficulties we're experiencing on our site. We completely share these frustrations! Since 9 a.m. EDT (when the site went live), we've had about 22.5 million hits to the site, which works out about 1.9 million users. Although we developed detailed plans and our testing indicated that NARA and Inflection would be able to handle the expected load,the number of visitors was huge. Thank you for your patience despite these frustrations. We're working to resolve the problem and we'll keep you updated on the situation.

census records | NARA
Monday, 02 April 2012 13:43:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
1940 Census News from NARA, FamilySearch and
Posted by Diane

We've gotten a few 1940 census-related press releases today:
  • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced the official release of the census at, which took place after a ceremony at the archives' Washington, DC., location. The 3.9 million images constitute the largest collection of digital information NARA has ever released.

    NARA also announced it has "joined a consortium of groups to create a name-based index." That's the 1940 Census Community Project, led by FamilySearch and two commercial organizations, (which designed NARA's 1940 census website) and brightsolid. Interesting. At least two other commercial entities— and MyHeritage—are creating their own census databases which also will be free (at least through 2013) and will compete with the FamilySearch/ version.
  • The 1940 census is of intense interest to people besides genealogists. will work with the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota to make data from the 1940 census available to the scientific community. This research database—separate from the one genealogists will search to find their ancestors—will include all of the information collected on the 132 million Americans recorded in the 1940 census.

    Scientific researchers will be able to link recent economic and health surveys and mortality records to the 1940 database. This will allow researchers to study the impact of early life conditions, including socioeconomic status, parental education, and family structure, on later health and mortality. In addition to individual and family information, the database will provide contextual information on childhood neighborhood characteristics, labor-market conditions, and environmental conditions. | census records | FamilySearch | NARA
Monday, 02 April 2012 13:10:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
First Look: Finding 1940 Census Records on
Posted by Diane

So far this morning, we're hearing from a lot of disappointed folks on Facebook and Twitter who aren't able to get record images to load for the 1940 census.

I'm in the same boat, but I took some screen shots from the site to show you how works:

The home page looks like this:

1940 Census Records

Click Get Started, then scroll down a little and you get three choices:

Search by location; search by enumeration district (ED), which also lets you convert the 1930 ED to the 1940 one; or access Help features (FAQs, etc.)

1940 Census Records

Search by ED

If you know the ED, look at the middle option, choose the state and type in the ED.

1940 Census Records

The result will show you the description of the boundaries for that ED.

1940 Census Records

You could click the maps tab to see the ED on a map, or click the Census Schedule tab to see the available schedules for that district.

1940 Census Records

Click on the census schedule thumbnail to see the pages for that district (theoretically—they never loaded for me) and browse through them for your family. 

If you hover over the thumbnail image, you get an option to download images, which some say works better, but the images never downloaded for me.

Search by location

If you know your family's location, but not the ED, look under "Do you know where the person lived?" and click Start Your Search.

1940 Census Records

On the left side of the next page, choose the state, county, city and street, if you know it. 

1940 Census Records

Your results will show descriptions of EDs covering that area.

You can view the descriptions and choose the one you think has your ancestor's household (use the Maps tab to see them on a map), or click the Census Schedules tab to start going through the schedules. 

1940 Census Records

It's pretty frustrating to wait and wait for census images to load, espcially after all the hype, but honestly I'm not surprised.

I'm going to try again in another couple of hours (or maybe tomorrow, depending how the day goes). While you're waiting, visit Family Tree Magazine's 1940 census page to formulate your research game plan and learn how to find those enumeration districts.

Also check whether, FamilySearch, or MyHeritage has uploaded records for your ancestor's state. | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Monday, 02 April 2012 11:05:48 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
1940 Census Records Coming Online Now!
Posted by Diane

UPDATED: The 1940 US census became available today for browsing on Other sites began posting the record images as early as 12:01 a.m.. Here's what's online now:

FamilySearch (browse records here)
  • Available (though I'm not sure whether all records have been uploaded for these states): Colorado, Delaware, Virginia, Kansas, Virginia, Oregon (See a progress chart)
  • Completed: Nevada, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, Indiana, Maine, Panama Canal Zone, Rhode Island, and the Virgin Islands
  • In process: California, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia (see the 1940 census page here): No information available yet. (here's the 1940 census page): No information available yet. | census records | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | NARA
Monday, 02 April 2012 08:21:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]