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# Thursday, 28 February 2013
Go on a Scavenger Hunt for Family Heirlooms (and Maybe Win Prizes)!
Posted by Diane

You might've seen the news about the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt that the folks over at Houstory have put together for next week.

I love how it will encourage genealogists to record and share the stories behind their family heirlooms, so I'm happy to be part of it. Plus, you can win a bunch of prizes, including our Family Tree Magazine 2012 Annual CD; How to Archive Family Keepsakes from the Family Curator herself, Denise Levenick; Preserving Your Family Photographs from Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor, and more.

Scavenger hunt days are March 4, 6 and 8, with a prize awarded each day plus a grand prize at the end.

To go on the hunt, you'll need to visit four blogs on their designated hunt day—that's Monday, March 4 for this Genealogy Insider blog. Click here to see the list of all four blogs you need to visit on Monday.

Each blogger will post about an heirloom he or she has logged in Houstory's Heirloom Registry. The post will provide that item's registry code. After you visit each blog, you'll go to the Heirloom Registry website, look up the heirloom using the registry code, view the Registry Certificate for that item, and find a secret code word. Then you'll include the code words from the four blogs on the entry form you can link to from this page.

You'll find all the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt instructions here, and you also can get updates by following Houstory on Facebook and Twitter (#HoustoryHunt).

So I'll see you back here on Monday for the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt, and I'll share a little about one of my favorite family heirlooms. 

Family Heirlooms | Genealogy fun | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, 28 February 2013 14:51:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Researchers' Favorite Genealogy Books and History-Related Reads
Posted by Diane

Last weekend's Family Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference was informative, inspirational and just plain fun. Over the next few weeks, I'll share some tips I picked up from the live chats. (And I'll keep you posted on the next Virtual Genealogy Conference, scheduled for September.)

The genealogy books chat made me plan a trip to the library and start surfing A bunch of conference attendees got together and talked about their go-to genealogy reference books and favorite history-related reads, including those below (for books we carry in, I've linked to the listing):
  • Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills

  • The Family Tree Sourcebook by the editors of Family Tree Magazine

  • The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy edited by Loretto Szucs and Sandra Luebking

  • How to Archive Family Keepsakes by Denise May Levenick

  • A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

  • Women and the Law of Property in Early America by Marylynn Salmon ("helps when looking at court records and understanding how women were treating in regards to their rights to own property," said the chatter, and it covers "1750 to 1830ish")

  • Finding Your Father's War by Jonathan Gawne ("for researching WWII soldiers")

  • Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McCutcheon

  • The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising ("the perfect book for when you're stuck on a line and need inspiration"), which also comes in a digital version

  • Reading Early American Handwriting by Kip Sperry ("the first part explains about the differences in writing styles, while the last three-quarters of the book has examples of documents with the transcriptions")

  • Genealogists Handbook for New England Research edited by Michael J. LeClerc

  • The Genealogist's Companion and Sourcebook and The Sleuthbook for Genealogists by Emily Anne Croom

  • Finding Indiana Ancestors by M. Teresa Baer and Geneil Breeze

  • Bringing Your Family History to Life Through Social History by Katherine Scott Sturdevant

  • Black's Law Dictionary, 4th edition ("the 4th edition is the most recent one that still has the old terms, as I understand")

  • No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting by Anne MacDonald, recommended by a chatter who is into knitting

  • Your Digital Afterlife....When Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter Are Your Estate, What's Your Legacy? by Evan Carroll and John Romano

  • Norwegians on the Prairie by Odd Lovoll

  • Italian Genealogical Records: How to use Italian Civil, Ecclesiastical and Other Records in Family History Research by Trafford Cole

  • Only a Few Bones by John Philip Colletta

  • Finding Italian Roots by John Philip Colletta

  • The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England ("written like a travel guide for people traveling from today back in time to the 14th century")

  • Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg

  • The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood
Would you add any books to this list? Click Comments below and let us know!

Family Tree University | Genealogy books | Genealogy Events
Thursday, 28 February 2013 09:29:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Photo Detective to Uncover Stories of Revolutionary Generation in New Film
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine's Photo Detective, Maureen A. Taylor, is turning her books The Last Muster: Images of the Revolution and the forthcoming The Last Muster: Faces of the Revolution into a film that breathes life into the long-ago Revolutionary War era.

Maureen has discovered and authenticated more than 200 photos of Americans who witnessed the Revolutionary War and survived into the age of photography. "Ten years ago, I was presented with an old photograph and asked to analyze it," she says. "Suddenly, I realized that I was looking into the face of someone who was a young adult during the Revolutionary War."

In "Revolutionary Voices: A Last Muster Film," you'll follow Maureen as she searches for genealogical records of those folks, locates places where they lived and interviews their descendants. See some of those photos and hear about one man in particular, Eleazer Blake, in this video:

Maureen and documentary producers Verissima Productions are raising funds for the project through You can learn more about the "Revolutionary Voices" film and pledge to support it here.

Military records | Photos
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 16:27:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Learn How to Interpret German Genealogy Records
Posted by Diane

You're looking for genealogy records of your ancestors in Germany, and perhaps you've even found some. They might look like this:

And it makes you understand why everyone talks about how hard it is to understand German records: Not only are you dealing with an unfamiliar language, but the script makes the words difficult to interpret.

Most German Catholic church records are in Latin; Evangelical (Lutheran) records may be in Latin or German. Records as late as the 1930s are usually written in the old German Gothic script.

But there are tricks you can use to figure out what these church records say about your German ancestors.

Our March 14 webinar, Interpreting German Records, will teach you how to work with German genealogy records, from basic translation to decoding hard-to-read handwriting and typeface. German genealogy expert James M. Beidler will show you
  • tricks for reading German script and type
  • resources for building your vocabulary of German terms and deciphering abbreviations
  • a methodology for solving the quirks of the printed Gothic/Fraktur typeface
  • strategies for transcribing and translating the handwritten German cursive script
The Interpreting German Records webinar takes place Thursday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (that's 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain and 4 p.m. Pacific). You'll save $10 on your registration if you sign up before March 7!

Family Tree University | German roots | Webinars
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:23:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Rumors Fly: Kelly Clarkson Filming "Who Do You Think You Are?" for TLC
Posted by Diane

Genealogy blogger Dick Eastman spotted an online report that the cable network TLC (The Learning Channel) will pick up the US series "Who Do You Think You Are?," which NBC cancelled after last season.

According to the report on the Taste of Country website, announced that singer and "American Idol" Season 1 champ Kelly Clarkson is filming an episode of the genealogy series. referenced mjsbigblog (taglined "American Idol—I love This Cheesy Show), which in turn cited a tweet from a man who met Clarkson in Andersonville, Ga., as well as a brief report from that town's paper.

I hope these folks are right! Rumors of TLC's interest in the series circulated last year, and I think it's a great way for the channel to redeem itself after "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

Celebrity Roots | Genealogy Industry
Tuesday, 26 February 2013 09:41:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Friday, 22 February 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 18-22
Posted by Diane

  • has opened its AncestryDNA test to all US residents. From last May until now, the test was open just to subscribers. This autosomal test analyzes more than 700,000 DNA marker locations and cross-references them with's catalog of DNA samples.

    The AncestryDNA test also breaks down your ethnic heritage by percentage from 20 populations. See the September 2012 Family Tree Magazine for The Genetic Genealogist blogger Blaine Bettinger's take on the AncestryDNA test.
  • Planning that long-awaited trip to the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City? Take note that the library will change its Saturday hours in April. Beginning April 13, the FHL's Saturday operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (current Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.).  “This change is being made so that valuable staff and volunteer resources can be allocated to other busier times during the week that have greater patron demand,” says library director Don Anderson. | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 22 February 2013 13:49:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Jump-Start Your African-American Genealogy
Posted by Diane

As we enter the last week of Black History month, I wanted to make sure those researching African-American roots know about this new Value Pack of genealogy tools:  our Jump Start Your African-American Genealogy Value Pack.

Slavery and segregation present unique obstacles to tracing African-American family history—but finding those roots isn't always impossible.

The books, articles and classes in this new value pack will help you formulate strategies and uncover sources to help you deal with brick walls in African-American genealogy research. You'll also learn about resources that exist just for African-American ancestors.

The Jump Start Your African-American Genealogy Value Pack contains:
  • Find Your African-American Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide
  • Best African-American Genealogy Sources article download
  • Best African American Genealogy Websites half-hour video class
  • Reconstruction 101 for African-Americans half-hour video class 
Getting all these resources in one Value Pack means they're yours for just $29.99 (instead of $75-plus).

Click here for more details on the Jump Start Your African-American Genealogy Value Pack.

African-American roots | Sales
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:32:01 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
London Calling
Posted by Diane

No, I'm not blogging about The Clash. I'm posting about what's drawn some of your favorite American genealogy bloggers across the Atlantic this week: the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! genealogy show Feb 22-24 in London.

That's "Who Do You Think You Are?" as in the BBC television program that inspired the American version, which NBC cancelled after last season (boo!).

Who Do You Think You Are? Live! is known for its high attendance (about 13,000 last year) and large, vibrant exhibit hall. The 2013 show has more than 160 exhibitors and sections for:
  • National Archives Theater with workshops on using British national archives resources
  • Celebrity Theater with guests from the "Who Do You Think You Are?"
  • Photography Gallery focusing on old family photos (and featuring our own Photo Detective and Family Photo Detective book author Maureen A. Taylor)
  • Military Pavilion where experts from museums display artifacts and answer military research questions
  • Ask the Experts area for 20-minute consultations with genealogy pros
  • DNA workshop area
The British Society of Genealogists also is offering family history workshops.

We'll bring you conference-related news announcements, as well as Maureen's reports on the Photography Gallery.

Feeling left out? Don't: There's no need to spring for an airline ticket, book a hotel or wear holes in your walking shoes to attend our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference—it also takes place this weekend, but at a computer near you. You can view 15 video classes, interact with instructors and your fellow exhibitors, and open up a swag bags of genealogy goodies, all while sporting your bunny slippers. Click here for more information.

The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by

Celebrity Roots | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:10:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Making the Most of Mocavo
Posted by Diane

And so we continue our peeks inside the video courses you can watch if you attend the Family Tree University Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, taking place this weekend, Feb. 22-24.

Here’s Family Tree Magazine contributing editor David A. Fryxell with a scoop on his class Making the Most of Mocavo (Mocavo being a genealogy search engine that also offers records and lets you upload your tree and genealogy documents):

My presentation will walk you through getting the most out of Mocavo, which bills itself as “the world’s largest genealogy search engine.” Like Google for genealogy, it searches sites containing more than 6 billion indexed names; unlike Google, though, Mocavo focuses strictly on sites with genealogy information. Mocavo also offers its own specialized collections of digitized books, most notably 3.5 million yearbook pages, and family trees and documents uploaded by its users.

Beyond the ins and outs of search, though, we’ll also explore uploading trees and your own photos and documents to Mocavo. Once your tree is online, Mocavo will begin scouring for “Smart Tree” suggested matches and sending you alerts based on your tree and your saved searches.

But trees aren’t the only things you can upload to Mocavo, which does all the dirty work of making documents searchable—by you and other researchers. Uploading to Mocavo is also a handy way of storing your family-history finds “in the cloud.”

We’ll also look at Mocavo’s mobile app for iOS and Android, which lets you view your documents on the go. When you search using the mobile app, too, those searches get saved for the next time you login on the Mocavo website. You probably didn’t know Mocavo could do so much. After my presentation, you’ll be a Mocavo pro!

Register for the Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference here.

See these guest posts from other Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference instructors:

The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 14:44:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 15 February 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 11-15
Posted by Diane

  • At the new, free website from Herthstone Legacy Publications called My Genealogy Hound, you can access thousands of biographies extracted from pre-1900 county history books. Biographies from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee are available now, with more states to come. Search the site or browse biographies by surname or state and county. The site also has a selection of free, old county maps from Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kanasas, Missouri, Oklahoma (including Indian nations) and Tennessee, with more to be added.
  • The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has implemented student discounts for registration to its 2013 Family History Conference, May 8-11 in Las Vegas. Students can register for the full conference for $50 (NGS members) or $60 (nonmembers), nearly 75 percent off regular rates. To qualify, students must submit a letter on college or university letterhead from the dean or department chair. See the NGS blog for additional details and qualifications.

FamilySearch | Genealogy books | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage
Friday, 15 February 2013 14:49:45 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 14 February 2013
Reprise: Swoon-Worthy Love Letters From History
Posted by Diane

Happy Valentine's Day! This is a reprise of a favorite post of mine, from Valentine's Day in 2010—quotes from great love letters in history. Got one to add? Click Comments and share!

In 1797, a British publisher printed The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which suggested sentimental verses for wooing the ladies. Need similar inspiration this Valentine’s Day? Here are a few swoon-inducing quotes from love letters of the past, and where you can read the rest.

Revolutionary War Gen. Nathanael Greene to his wife, Catharine
"There is not a day or night, nay not an hour, but I wish to fold you to my heart.”
I couldn’t find the full letter online, but you can read more about the correspondence of this couple and their contemporaries in Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts.

Poet Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning, Jan. 10, 1846
“It seems to me, to myself, that no man was ever before to any woman what you are to me.”
Samual Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain) to Olivia Langdon, Dec. 31, 1868, transcribed at the Mark Twain Project Online
"The Old Year is passing. … It found me careless of the here & the [hereafter]—it leaves me with faith in the one & hope for the [other. It] found [me. my ] heart scorched, bitter, barren, loveless—& leaves it filled with softening, humanizing, elevating love for the dearest girl on earth, Livy—& I, the homeless then, have on this last day of the [die dying] year, a home that is [pre priceless], a refuge from all the cares & ills of life, in that warm heart of yours, & am supremely happy! And so with grateful benediction I give [Godspeed] to this good Old Year that is passing away. If I forget all else it has done for me I shall still remember that it gave me your love, Livy, ..."
Civil War soldier Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah, July 14, 1861, a week before he was killed in the Battle of Bull Run (this letter was made famous in Ken Burns’ documentary "The Civil War")
"… something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. ... How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness ..."
Harry Truman to his wife, Bess, May 7, 1933
“I still believe that my sweetheart is the ideal woman…”

Genealogy fun | Social History
Thursday, 14 February 2013 08:50:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 13 February 2013
FTU Virtual Genealogy Conference: Things You Didn’t Know Your Genealogy Software Could Do + Using Irish Censuses
Posted by Diane

Here's another inside look at a class available during our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference—courtesy of the instructor himself. Take it away, Rick Crume:

The most popular genealogy programs have tools to help you record your family history efficiently, plan your research and search online databases. But if you’re a typical genealogy software user, you don’t take advantage of all of those features.

You’ve probably mastered entering birth, marriage and death information in your genealogy software, but have you customized your program to fit your unique needs?

You're doing better than most genealogists if you document your sources, but are you taking advantage of timesaving techniques for this crucial, but mundane, task? And are you exploiting your program’s tools for searching within your family file and in online databases?

In my class 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Your Genealogy Software, I'll show you how to use these and other features in Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic.

I'm also teaching a class on Identifying Ancestors in Irish Census Records. Because so many Irish census records have been lost over the years, you might assume they're of no use in your genealogy research. In fact, it’s well worth checking Irish censuses, especially now that most of the existing ones are online and easy to search.

Most 19th-century Irish census records have been lost, but the ones you need just could have survived. (Mine did!) And fortunately, the 1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland survive and are easily accessible online for free. I'll show you several tips for searching them and suggest how they can be useful to your research even if your ancestors left Ireland before 1901.

Family Tree University's Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, Feb. 22-24, gives you an all-access pass to 15 half-hour video classes, live chats with genealogy experts, and exclusive message board to network with instructors and attendees, and a swag bag of freebies. Click here for more details on the conference.

See these guest posts from other Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference instructors:

The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Tech Advice | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:10:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 12 February 2013
I think I've got it!, or, Cluster Genealogy Works!
Posted by Diane

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my third-great-grandmother's hard-to-read maiden name in her divorce case file from 1879 to 1881. Many of you offered suggestions for searching for her family in the 1850 and 1860 censuses—thank you!

I tried those searches and I kept examining the case file for clues ... and I'm 98 percent sure I have the maiden name! It shows that cluster genealogy works. Here's how it happened.

I saw this in my third-great-grandmother Mary Frost's testimony:

Her oldest child—my great-great-grandfather—George, stayed with Mary's sister (unnamed here) and worked for the sister's husband, George Hartke, in his grocery store.

I searched for George Hartke on and found this in an 1878 city directory for Covington, Ky.:

I then found his family in the 1880 census, under "Harke":

My great-great-grandfather is listed in the household as "nephew." Interestingly, he's double-enumerated in his mother's household in 1880:

I turned my focus to George Hartke's wife and Mary Frost's sister, Elizabeth. Death records often name parents, especially in the 20th century (Mary's doesn't, though), so I looked for Elizabeth's. Lo and behold:

Let's take a closer look:

Elizabeth's Oct. 22, 1931, death certificate reports her parents as Henry Wolking and "Eliz." Evers, both born in Germany. I did some more census searching and believe the informant, "Mrs. Henry Harke," is Elizabeth's daughter-in-law.

I still haven't found the Wolkings for sure in 1850 and 1860 census records. My best candidate so far is this Wolkins family in 1850:

The father's name doesn't match, which isn't great but also isn't a deal breaker—he could've gone by his middle name or the census taker could've talked to a neighbor, or Mrs. Henry Harke could have been wrong on the death certificate. This family does have a Mary, Tilda (the divorce records refer to Mary's sister Matilda) and Lizzie of the right ages.

Learn more about how to use cluster genealogy in your research from our on-demand webinar, Using Cluster and Collateral Searches to Beat Brick Walls, presented by Thomas MacEntee. It's available in

Originally posted at the Genealogy Insider blog. | census records | Female ancestors | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 11:48:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
How to Use Google for Genealogy
Posted by Diane

You've probably searched for information on your ancestors using the Google search engine, but have you also waded through a flood of irrelevant search results to (maybe) find useful genealogy information?

Have you taken advantage of Google's other free tools, such as Google Scholar and Alerts? Language tools?

In Family Tree University's next webinar, Lisa Louise Cooke, author of The Genealogist's Google Toolbox, will show you how to research your family tree using these and other Google tools.

Our Googling Your Genealogy live webinar takes place Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (that's 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain and 4 p.m. Pacific). You'll learn:
  • Basic and Advanced Google search techniques to hone in on your family (even if they had a common name)
  • How to set up timesaving Google Alerts
  • How to use Google Scholar, Google Patent and other tools to find genealogy information
  • How to leap language barriers with Language Tools
  • ... and more
Webinar registrants will receive a PDF handout of the presentation slides and access to watch the webinar again as many times as you like. You'll also get Family Tree Magazine's Step-by-Step Guide to Google article.

Click here to register for our Googling Your Genealogy live webinar with Lisa Louise Cooke (sign up before Feb. 21 to save $10!).

Editor's Pick | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 11:02:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 11 February 2013
African-American Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane

Black History Month started in 1926 with "Negro History Week," set during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. February was first celebrated as Black History Month at Kent State University in 1970; the US government first recognized the celebration in 1976. The UK observed Black History Month beginning in 1987 and Canada's House of Commons followed suit in 1995.

This month shines a spotlight on those researching African-American ancestors—and the challenges that slavery and segregation have placed in their way. These are some of our favorite resources to help you face those challenges and commemorate the lives of your ancestors:
Looking for more in-depth advice on how to research your African-American ancestors? Try these:

African-American roots | Family Tree University
Monday, 11 February 2013 11:31:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
We're Giving Away a Copy of Family Photo Detective
Posted by Diane

Here's our Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor's new book about researching your family photos (and those mystery photos that might or might not be your family):

... and you could win a copy by entering your name in our Family Photo Detective giveaway.

What's inside Family Photo Detective? You'll learn how to:
  • Determine whether you have a daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cabinet card or other type of image
  • Use clothing, accessories and hairstyles to help date the image
  • Research photographer imprints
  • Compare facial features in multiple photos to help identify individuals 
  • Interview family members for information
  • Use photo props and background to add context
The Family Photo Detective giveaway ends Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET. And if you refer a friend who enters (by sending the link in your entry confirmation), you'll get two extra chances to win. Good luck!

Genealogy books | Genealogy fun | Photos
Monday, 11 February 2013 10:53:51 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 08 February 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 4-8
Posted by Diane

  • PBS has gathered its African-American history content into one place to help you celebrate Black History Month. Watch programs including Freedom Riders and Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr., take a quiz about miletones in African-American history, get ideas for celebrating the month with kids and more.
  • Know a young genealogist who could use $500 toward genealogy education, plus a free registration to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree? Applications are being accepted for the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant, created to honor the mother of The Family Curator blogger Denise Levenick. It's open to any genealogist who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and has attended school in the last 12 months. The recipient must attend the 2013 Jamboree in Burbank, Calif., to receive the award. Application deadline is March 18, 2013, at midnight PST. Learn more here.
  • is giving its registered users the opportunity to watch the BBC show Find My Past, which reveals how ordinary individuals are related to people from significant historical events.  With a free registration, you can watch episodes that first aired during the past 30 days. Thereafter, episodes will be available to the sites subscribing members. Learn more on
Also new in's World subscription is a collection of 200 British newspapers from England, Scotland and Wales from 1700 to 1950.

African-American roots | Genealogy for kids | Genetic Genealogy | MyHeritage | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 08 February 2013 15:04:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy Cold Cases: A Step-by-Step Process
Posted by Diane

Want a closer look at the 15 video classes in our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, Feb. 22-24? In the next couple of weeks, several of our expert instructors will stop by to share what you'll learn in their presentations.

Without further ado, here's Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, who's put together the class Genealogical Cold Cases: A Step-by-Step Process:
 When it comes to brick walls, sometimes you need to think outside the genealogy box. Cracking a cold case requires a proven process to guide you through the challenging waters. And in looking for a solid process that could drum up new leads, my thoughts continually returned to criminal investigators. They face many of the same challenges you do, even if your ancestor wasn't a "black sheep."

Genealogical Cold Cases: A Step-by-Step Process is a presentation I've been wanting to do for a long time, and I couldn't be more pleased to to present it at the Virtual Genealogy Conference. I'll draw on some of the best ideas from cold case investigators to create a process that can guide you through the lengthy process of breaking through genealogical brick walls.

In each step, I'll give you a cache of strategies you can put into play right away. Each is designed to keep you organized and focused while generating new leads.

So dig out that old cobwebbed case file you'd just about given up on, and join me in the Genealogical Cold Cases: A Step-by-Step Process class at the Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference.

The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events
Friday, 08 February 2013 11:35:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 07 February 2013
The Virtual Genealogy Conference Sweeps Winner Is ...
Posted by Diane

I'm happy to announce the lucky winner of our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference sweepstakes!

My fellow Ohioan Maureen Buckel from Hartville has won a registration to the conference, taking place Feb. 22-24.

She'll get access to 15 video classes organized into tracks for technology, research strategies and ethnic ancestors; exclusive live chats with our expert instructors; and a message board for conference participants to exchange questions, ideas and surnames.

Congratulations, Maureen! I look forward to "seeing" you at the conference.

Learn more about the Virtual Genealogy Conference, check out the program of classes and chats, and register here. Only two more weeks are left to sign up!

The Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Newspapers
Thursday, 07 February 2013 11:10:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Find Polish, Czech & Slovak, and Hungarian Ancestors With New Ultimate Genealogy Collections
Posted by Diane

Update: The Ultimate Polish Genealogy Collection is sold out, and we have just a few left of the Czech and Slovak and the Hungarian collections. Get yours while they're still available!

If you're researching ancestors from Eastern Europe, you've probably encountered your share of name variants, translation troubles, records access challenges and other obstacles.

We've got three new Ultimate Collections to help you overcome these research problems:
Each collection has a Family Tree Magazine expert guide, Family Tree University in-depth independent study course, a 30-minute demo-packed video class, our International Genealogy Passport CD, and a language or records reference book.

Here's what you'll get:
  • expertise on how to research ancestors from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, or Hungary (depending which collection you opt for)
  • strategies for discovering your ancestor's birthplace
  • where to find records
  • techniques for learning immigrants' original names
  • the best websites and offline resources to use
  • language help
Plus, receive a coupon for 25 percent off any future online genealogy course at Family Tree University.

Only 50 of each Ultimate Collection are available, and to further entice you, they're discounted by 63 percent or more.

Check out our new Polish, Czech and Slovak, and Hungarian ultimate genealogy collections to start finding your Eastern European ancestors today.

immigration records | International Genealogy | Research Tips | Sales
Thursday, 07 February 2013 09:08:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 06 February 2013
Ellis Island Immigration Museum Archive Relocated
Posted by Diane

The National Park Service has moved treasures from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York Harbor to a federal storage center due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Oct. 29, the hurricane flooded Ellis Island and water filled the basement of the Immigration Museum, which houses the Great Hall where millions of immigrants started their lives in the United States.

Fortunately, the water didn't touch the museum's archive of records and immigrant artifacts, which were located elsewhere in the building. But it did knock out the island's electricity, wreaking havoc on the museum's carefully controlled climate and causing mold to grow on the artifacts and condensation to build up on walls.

You can learn more about the move and see photos and a video in this TribecaTribOnline article.

Both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (on nearby Liberty Island) remain closed. Park Service plans call for reopening, but a date is yet to be determined.  You can get updates on the Statue of Liberty Hurricane Sandy Recovery page.

Historic preservation | immigration records | Museums
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 11:06:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 05 February 2013
Tabloid Divorces Have Nothing on These Ancestors
Posted by Diane

Last week I promised to tell you how I got my third-great-grandparents’ divorce record. 

It went on my genealogy to-do list after a random search of historical newspaper website GenealogyBank resulted in newspaper notices when my third-great-grandmother filed for divorce in 1879 (below), and again when the divorce was granted two years later.

You know when you think something is going to be a big ordeal so you procrastinate, then when you finally get the ball rolling it turns out to be a piece of cake and you wish you did it ages ago?

I had checked, and USGenWeb to see if I could get digital or microfilmed copies. Nope. So I thought I’d have to figure out which of the two county courthouses to go to, find time to make the trip, get a babysitter, search out the records, and so on.

When I started planning a visit and called the courthouse (after first checking online for info on old records), the nice lady there said, “Oh, we don’t keep records that far back,” at which point I may have made strange choking sounds. Then she continued, “You’ll have to call the state archives in Frankfort.” 

I checked the Kentucky State Archives’ website and learned it does have divorce records from the time and place I needed, and you can print a request form to fill out and send with a $15 fee. Easy peasy.

A few days later, I had an email from a state archivist. The file was 103 pages(!) and I’d need to send an additional fee for copies of the whole thing.

When I called to pay over the phone, I asked the archivist what’s typically in a historical divorce file, just to make sure I wouldn’t be ordering a bunch of blank pages. She flipped through and said it looked pretty meaty, with lots of depositions. “We’ll get this copied today and sent out tomorrow,” she said.

After a few days impatient days, The Big Envelope was in my mailbox.  The first page had this on it:

I spread out the pages on the counter, squinting at the handwriting and trying to glean all the clues I could—such as my third-great-grandmother's maiden name—while protecting them from my 2-year-old's applesauce splatters.

"Meaty" is an accurate description. So far I've found all the makings of a tabloid-worthy divorce: accusations of cruelty and mental instability (along with a physician's testimony about my ancestor's "cycles"—I guess doctor-patient confidentiality was still in the future), custody fights, and insinuations of an improper relationship between my third-great-grandmother and a younger man.

I'm still going over the papers and I'll blog more later about genealogical clues I discover (that way I can call it work). 

Thinking about researching your ancestors' court records? Click here for tips on finding the right courthouse.

Then check out our courthouse research guide digital download, available in

Depending on the type of court records you're looking for, you'll also find in-depth help in our Using Guardianship Records in Genealogical Research video class with Marian Pierre-Louis and our Using Criminal Court Records on-demand webinar with Judy G. Russell.

court records | Female ancestors | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Tuesday, 05 February 2013 09:11:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, 04 February 2013
Simple Tips for Solid Genealogy Source Citations
Posted by Diane

This guest post on simplifying source citations is from Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton, one of the expert instructors for our Virtual Genealogy Conference, happening Feb.  22-24:

I know great genealogists who never share their research because they’re scared of source citations. They dread going back through their files to identify exactly where they learned a birth date or the name of Granddad’s church. They worry they didn’t copy down every little piece of publication information, like a volume number or editor’s name. And formatting footnotes sounds exactly NOT like the way they want to celebrate finding their family.
My presentation “Simple Tips for Solid Source Citations” focuses on a process of managing sources all the way through the research process to prevent most of those fears. What I'll show you is a way of thinking that makes us better researchers: more aware of our sources from the get-go, more organized and more confident in our conclusions.
First, I’ll talk you through the process of evaluating sources the first time you use them. I’ll talk about what information to gather, both from the source and about the source.

One valuable tip I share is how to find full source information on websites like, and some less user-friendly data sites. You’ll see different ways of capturing source data, whether you’re a paper-based person or a paperless person (or a combination). I’ll show you how to store source data in a way that links it to the information you found in it, so you don’t scramble years later to put the two together.

Finally, I’ll talk about options when you’re ready to write—yes, we’ll talk a bit about footnotes and Why They Are Not So Scary.
By the end, you’ll know how to handle sources well and, better yet, you’ll want to! Don’t miss out on learning this core skill during the Virtual Genealogy Conference.

I love the idea of managing sources from the start—so you can evaluate how reliable the information is, easily create a source citation and keep that citation with the data you found. I'm looking forward to Sunny's video class!

The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by | Family Tree University | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Monday, 04 February 2013 09:19:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 01 February 2013
Genealogy News Corral: Special Black History Month Edition
Posted by Diane

In honor of Black History Month this month, today brings you a special African-American history-themed news roundup:
  • An interactive online map—a companion to the PBS "American Experience" documentary The Abolitionistslets you explore the story of the abolitionist movement in America. Powered by History Pin, the Abolitionist Map of America has images, documents and videos from dozens of libraries, museums and other institutions.

    Cincinnati, located on the boundary of free and slave states, was a major Underground Railroad stop. Our Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Genealogy Local History Department selected images and recordings on subjects such as the site of local antislavery newspaper the Philanthropist, the focus of two anti-abolitionist riots in 1836; and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, where the Uncle Tom’s Cabin author lived with her family for various periods of time from 1833 to 1836. 
To find African-American genealogy events near you, check with your local genealogical or historical society, or public library.

Check out articles on researching African-American roots here.

African-American roots | | Fold3 | Genealogy Events | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 01 February 2013 13:45:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogists Win With FamilySearch/OCLC Partnership
Posted by Diane

Two indispensable genealogy resources are joining forces, resulting in a win for genealogists wanting to access offline family history materials.

FamilySearch and OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center) have reached an agreement to list the holdings of the FamilySearch genealogy catalog in WorldCat, the OCLC's online search portal to catalogs from 74,000 repositories in more than 70 countries.

Under this partnership, OCLC will incorporate data from FamilySearch’s catalog into WorldCat, and FamilySearch will use OCLC cataloging services to continue to catalog its collections in WorldCat. FamilySearch will also incorporate WorldCat results into search results returned by FamilySearch genealogy services.

Once they're combined, instead of searching WorldCat for family and local histories and other sources, then searching FamilySearch for genealogy records, you'll be able to run a search at either site for results from both.

That'll also make it easier to see when a library near you holds copies of FamilySearch genealogy resources—including printed books, which FamilySearch doesn't circulate to its local FamilySearch Centers.

On WorldCat, you can set up a profile to create your own bibliographies, review materials, and more. WorldCat also has a Facebook app so you can search from within Facebook.

Get the most out of WorldCat by downloading our WorldCat search tutorial for genealogists from for $1.99.

Once you find materials you want to borrow from the FamilySearch Family History Library, you'll need to plan a visit to a FamilySearch Center. Click here for our tips on doing genealogy research at FamilySearch Centers.

Read more about the FamilySearch/OCLC partnership in the organizations' press release.

FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 01 February 2013 09:44:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]