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# Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Tips to Get Ready for a Genealogy Research Trip
Posted by Diane

Genealogists including yours truly are headed to Fort Wayne, Ind., Aug. 21-24 for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) annual conference.

Fort Wayne's Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, of course,  has the top public library genealogy collection in the United States. Its resources cover not only Indiana, but also the entire United States and even beyond.

I'm not sure how much genealogy research I'll get to do there, with getting into town at the last second and leaving as soon as the conference concludes. But I'm doing a little prep work in case I can sneak over to the library during the Genealogy Center's extended research hours.

I'm using materials from our Genealogist's Research Trip Value Pack for help getting ready:
  • The Genealogist's Research Trip Planner ebook with guides to visiting popular genealogy research destinations such as courthouses, cemeteries, the Family History Library and FamilySearch Centers, plus advice for packing, saving money and more.

  • two of our popular pocket references: The Family Tree Pocket Reference and The Genealogist's US History Pocket Reference

  • the easily searchable, printable and portable Family Tree Magazine 2012 Annual CD
  • a sturdy padded binder where I can keep my online catalog printouts of materials I want to view, along with notes about the people I'm searching for in each resource. There's an included notebook, plus pockets for pens and pencils and my handy ruler/magnifier.
Here's the binder stuffed with my stuff; it will come to you with the notepad but otherwise empty and ready for your stuff.



As a bonus, The Genealogist's Research Trip Value Pack comes with a 25 percent off coupon to our Organize Your Research With Evernote on-demand webinar.

The Genealogy Center is super-strong in its collection of family and local histories, so I'll use the online catalog to find any I should check while there (many also are digitized at FamilySearch.org, for those of you watching from home).

Another helpful tool is this web page listing the Genealogy Center's resources by place, with call numbers.

I hope to use the library computers to search PERSI. PERSI, aka the Periodical Source Index, indexes genealogy and history journals published in the US and Canada for the past 200 years. Genealogy Center staff create PERSI from periodicals at the library, so it'll be easy to request copies of articles while I'm there. (Read more about PERSI here, and how you'll soon be able to search it at findmypast.com.)

Will you be at FGS, too? Stop by to see us in booth  519!  Get an exhibit hall map and a directory of exhibitors here.


Editor's Pick | Research Tips
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 1:10:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Tips to Find the Genealogy Records Christina Applegate Used
Posted by Diane

Last's night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" with Christina Applegate is a good example of how much you can learn even if you start with very little information. All she had to begin her search for her paternal grandmother was her father Robert's birth certificate and his mother's name.



Robert thought he remembered a few other details, such as when his mother died, but those vague memories turned out to be wrong. At one point he even said "I thought I was older."

Yes, I teared up at the end of the show when Robert appeared devastated to learn of the violence in his parents' marriage and his mother's death caused by tuberculosis and alcoholism. And then when Christina comforted him by pointing out how he's had a positive life despite having every reason not to. And again when he left flowers at his mother's grave, knowing she had wanted him buried by her side.

Genealogy can be healing.

Documents consulted in the episode include: 
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates. Almost all states had mandated keeping these by the early-to-mid-20th century. (A few leave marriage records to counties.) They're generally available from state vital records offices, but often access is limited to immediate family for privacy reasons. Download our free chart of statewide vital record-keeping dates from here.
I liked how the archivists helped Applegate examine documents for clues beyond just names and ages. In the 1940 census, for example, they looked at the years of schooling for each household member as well as the months out of work. They put those details into the context of the lingering Great Depression and what that meant for the family.

If you missed the episode, keep an eye on the "Who Do You Think You Are?" website for a link to watch it online.

To find Family Tree Magazine guides and video classes for doing genealogy research in vital records, the census, newspapers and other records, visit ShopFamilyTree.com. You can use the search box at the top of the site or browse the Genealogy Records category.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | census records | court records | Newspapers | Research Tips | Vital Records
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:15:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, July 30, 2013
It's "Who Do You Think You Are?" Night!
Posted by Diane

Remember to sit yourself down in front of the TV or set your DVR tonight for "Who Do you Think You Are?" with actress Christina Applegate. It airs at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on TLC (and it looks like each episode will become available for viewing online).

I look forward to Tuesdays now not just because genealogy's on TV, but also because I get to pick what we watch. "It's for work" is a pretty good excuse.

In this preview video for the episode, Applegate is surprised to learn her grandparents had a troubled relationship and separated before her father was born.



"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 9:29:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 29, 2013
The Mystery Men in the Family Plot: Turning Genealogy Clues Into Answers
Posted by Diane

More than a year ago, I visited my great-great-grandparents' family cemetery plot in Cincinnati. I knew who would be buried there: besides my great-grandparents H. A. and Frances Seeger and six of their children, there were Frances' parents, Joseph and A. Marie Ladenkotter.

But when I got there, I also found these two guys:

Who were Joseph and John Dierkes?

My search for their identities involved using online and offline clues, as Lisa Alzo suggests in our Turn Online Clues Into Ancestor Answers webinar.

Clue No. 1
I noted that a Joseph and a John Dierkes lived in the Ladenkotter household in the 1850 and 1860 census. Besides my great-great-grandmother Frances Ladenkotter (really Francisca), born in 1852, there was an Elizabeth Ladenkotter, born in 1846.

Lisa advises formulating a theory to explain a genealogical problem. After comparing the Dierkes boys' birth years to those of the Ladenkotter girls, I theorized that the boys were A. Marie's sons from a previous marriage. But they also could've been her much younger brothers, or nephews to her or Joseph Ladenkotter, or even nonrelatives.

My census searches for other Dierkes in Cincinnati turned up lots of results. I gave up looking at them; there was no way to tell if any of them were related to John and Joseph.

Clue No. 2
I put on my big-girl genealogist pants and searched the 1840 census. That census is scary because it names only heads of household. Everyone else was counted within age ranges, so it's hard to tell if you've found the right family. (We have a video class about how to research in the 1840 and earlier censuses.)

I found a household for a Joseph Dierkes, containing a male aged 30-39 (that's Joseph) and a female age 30-39. A. Marie was born in May 1812, according to her gravestone, so she would be 28 when the 1840 census was taken June 1. That and the faded census return made this not a slam dunk.

Clue No. 3
Haphazard web searches led me to the Hamilton County Genealogical Society's (HCGS) online marriage index, with information found in newspaper notices, church records, probate court records and reconstructed court records (there was an 1884 riot at the courthouse). An Anna Maria Dirkers and a Joseph Ladenkotter married between 1840 and 1849, according to church records.

The printed book from which the online index came gave the exact marriage date, May 4, 1845. If the Dierkes boys were A. Marie's sons from a previous marriage, this marriage date would fall nicely into a gap between the children's birth years. 

Clue No. 4
If Dierkes (or Dirkers) was Anna Maria's maiden name, the boys were probably her relatives, not sons. I requested the marriage record from the church.

A volunteer sent me the information from the record (the books are too old and fragile to copy)—the marriage place and date, the priest's name, and the names of two witnesses, Herman Henrik Meyer and Maria Hinken. No name other than Dirkers for the bride, although those witnesses could be related.

Clue No. 5
I felt stuck. There was more haphazard searching. Then I found an entry for Anna Maria Ladenkötter in HCGS online death indexes from newspapers. I noticed a name several blank columns away: Weyer. I held my breath and scrolled all the way up the page. Yes, this was a maiden name column. I hadn't thought about a death notice giving a maiden name.

The notice was from microfilmed German-language newspapers. Through the HCGS website, I found a researcher familiar with German and hired him to get a copy. Eight death notices (I got other relatives' notices while I was at it) ended up costing about $50, worth it for something that would've taken me all day and maybe then some. He could have translated them, too, but I wanted to try it.  

I'm still working on that, but it's easy to tell the notice gives the name as "Anna Maria Ladenkötter geb. Weyer." Geb. is an abbreviation of the German word for "born."

I'm betting that male witness to her 1845 marriage is really Herman Henrik Weyer.

Ancestor Answers
John and Joseph Dierkes are very likely Anna Maria Weyer's sons from her first marriage. What would really clinch this—here's where my strategy for turning these online clues into ancestor answers comes in—is to find her marriage record to Joseph Dierkes, death notices for Joseph Dierkes (naming his survivors) or the boys (I have scoured the HCGS index for these, to no avail), and/or baptismal records for the Dierkes boys.  

... And More Questions
I also want to learn why the boys died (just a few years before Cincinnati birth and death registers began). Civil War, I thought, but I can't find them in the Soldiers and Sailors Database or other Civil War records. That's another genealogical problem to tackle.

The recording of our Turning Online Clues into Ancestor Answers webinar will be available soon in ShopFamilyTree.com.

You'll also find online genealogy research strategies in the book Discover Your Family History Online by Nancy Hendrickson.


Cemeteries | Research Tips | Webinars
Monday, July 29, 2013 11:36:43 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, July 26, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 22-26
Posted by Diane

  • Royal genealogy has been a hot topic on the interwebs since the birth of Prince George of Cambridge Monday bumped his Uncle Prince Harry out of the No. 3 spot in the line of successtion to the British throne. MyHeritage has the Royal Family Tree here. I found the Modern View easier to use; you can use the tabs at the bottom of the page to toggle between this and the Classic View. Click on a person to see details about him or her on the left.
  • Ancestry.com has updated its free Shoebox Mobile App (for Android and iPhone), acquired along with 1000memories in 2012. The photo "scanning" app lets you take high-quality photos of your family photos and documents, map their location, and edit, date, and tag them. If you have an Ancestry Member Tree, you can then upload the images to the profile of someone in your tree. Learn more about the app here.


Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Jewish roots | MyHeritage | Photos
Friday, July 26, 2013 11:10:33 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
How to Turn Online Genealogy Clues into Ancestor Answers
Posted by Diane

Doesn't it seem sometimes like everyone else gets lucky in their online genealogy searches, producing family tree revelations with a few taps on the keyboard? While your searches turn up only the 400 other Michael Smiths in your ancestor's neighborhood?

We're presenting a special edition webinar that'll help you work through web searches and small clues to put together answers about your ancestor's life.


In Turn Online Clues Into Ancestor Answers, veteran genealogist Lisa A. Alzo will show you how to:

  • formulate a step-by-step online research strategy
  • set realistic expectations for what you might find online   
  • work around the shortcomings of internet research to follow clues to your ancestor's identity

This 30-minute presentation is Tuesday, July 30, at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT). Your $29.99 registration includes a PDF of the presentation slides and access to view the recorded session as many times as you like (that goes even if you're registered but you can't attend on Tuesday).

Find out more about the special-edition Turn Online Clues Into Ancestor Answers in ShopFamilyTree.com.


Webinars
Friday, July 26, 2013 11:09:17 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, July 24, 2013
A Short Quiz on Royal Roots
Posted by Diane

I'm not too cool to be excited about the royal baby. I'm not going to send a present or anything, but a healthy baby welcomed by the world is happy news for a change. And babies are cute.

And I could be related to the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Well, OK, according to the genealogy research I've done so far, the odds I have royal roots are pretty slim.

You might have better chances: More than 60 percent of Americans are descended from royalty, according to Gary Boyd Roberts, author of The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants (Genealogical Publishing Co).

Please note I'm not knocking plebian roots (that's what I have). I find all types of family trees equally interesting, and very occasionally equally boring.

So let's welcome His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge with a short quiz about royal roots. Answers are below:

1. True or false: An ancestor with a title such as duke, earl or baron means you come from royalty.

2. If you're American, your chances of finding a royal ancestor are best if
a. You come from German stock
b. Your ancestors were potato famine immigrants
c. You go back to New England Puritans, Pennsylvania Quakers or Tidewater planters
3. The British royal family adopted a fixed surname
a. by about 1400, same as most others families in England
b. in 1917
c. in 1952
d. last year
4. Good resources for researching royal roots include (choose all that apply)
a. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage (two volumes) edited by Charles Mosley
b. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis
c. Jones genealogy: a Welsh family with the ancestry, and some of the descendants of Rev. Rowland Jones, first Pastor of Bruton Parish, Virginia, connected by marriage with President George Washington by Gustave Anjou
Answers
1. False. The term “royalty” applies to the rulers (kings, queens, princes, princesses) and their immediate families. Nobles are the families of high and hereditary rank, often descendants of kings' younger sons, but not always related by blood to royalty. Moreover, being noble didn't necessarily mean you got a title.

2. c. The immigrants who brought royal blood with them to the New World were most likely Puritans settling in New England, Quakers (often Welsh) in Pennsylvania, Scots in mid-Atlantic states, and Anglican “cavaliers” to Tidewater Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. If you have a sizable number—50 to 100—of immigrant relatives in one or more of these areas, you “can expect to find a royally descended forebear,” Boyd says.

3. b. 1917. Before then, members of the British royal family had no surname, but only the name of the house or dynasty to which they belonged. In 1917, WWI anti-German sentiment prompted George V, of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to adopt Windsor as his surname. “Windsor” came from the castle of that name. In 1952, Elizabeth II’s surname and that of her descendants was modified to Mountbatten-Windsor, adding her husband Prince Philip’s surname.

4. a and b. Avoid genealogies by Gustav Anjou (1863-1942), known for falsifying the family histories he wrote for clients.

Our guide to researching your genealogy connections to royalty is in the Spring 2011 Discover Your Roots, available in ShopFamilyTree.com.


Celebrity Roots | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 2:28:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
You Don't Have to Be Kelly Clarkson to Research Your Civil War Ancestor
Posted by Diane

Did you watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” last night?



In the season premiere on TLC, singer Kelly Clarkson traced her third-great-grandfather Isaiah Rose from Marietta, Ohio, to his imprisonment at the notorious Andersonville Civil War prison, and back home after his escape. There, he served as county sheriff and a state senator.

The story is common: Lots of Americans have Civil War soldier ancestors, many of whom were held at Andersonville and other prisons. The genealogy research is very doable—and you don’t have to drive around the country like Clarkson did, or meet with a slew of Civil War experts.

It’s neat for "WDYTYA?" viewers to see the original historical records, but the same records Clarkson used are available online or by ordering from repositories. For example: 

Note that many public libraries and FamilySearch Centers offer patrons the use of Fold3 and Ancestry Library Edition for free.

These are just a few of the available resources for tracing your Civil War ancestor. You'll find many more Civil War genealogy resources, tools and how-to information in Family Tree Magazine's Civil War Genealogy Value Pack, which happens to be on sale now—click here to learn more about it.

All that driving from place to place adds historical interest to the show, but it's not realistic for most of us. Thank goodness it's also not necessary for researching in Civil War records.

PS: TLC shared on Facebook where you can watch the whole episode online.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Civil War | Libraries and Archives | NARA
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 9:59:15 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Online Public Access Search Replaces NARA's Archival Research Catalog
Posted by Diane

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is shutting down its 10-year-old Archival Research Catalog (ARC) on Aug. 15. ARC catalogs the archives' holdings, with links to holdings that are digitized online.

It's being replaced by NARA's Online Public Access (OPA) search, which combines several searches from the website: You can use OPA to identify holdings that relate to your genealogical search and access digitized records. OPA also provides access to nearly a million electronic records in the Electronic Records Archives, with more to be added. And it searches the websites of the National Archives and the presidential libraries for web pages with terms related to your search.

Your OPA search results are grouped into categories based on the type of result:
  • Online Holdings: Search results including digital copies of records.
  • Description Only: Descriptions of records NARA holds that are related to your search terms. To see the actual record, you would need to request copies from NARA, go there yourself, or hire a local researcher to search for the record you need.
  • Archives.gov: Web pages on Archives.gov with matches to your search terms.
  • Presidential Libraries: Web pages on presidential library websites with matches to your search terms.
  • Authority Records: NARA's website describes these as "Organization and Person authority records from the Organization Authority File and Person Authority File in ARC. These contain organizational histories and personal biographies." From what I gather, authority sources are sources (such as The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names) that were used to index descriptions in ARC. The "organizational histories and personal biographies" are in the sources themselves, not part of OPA.
OPA search tips are here. NARA also plans to provide tips for searching OPA on its NARAtions blog. Here's what the Basic OPA search form looks like.



You could search for a name, a research topic such as Civilian Conservation Corps (maybe if your grandfather was a CCC worker) or a record type you want to find out more about, such as War of 1812 Pensions.

I ran a search on a surname I'm searching, Seeger. My results included nine Online Holdings. One is a recent photo including a person named Seeger, and two are digitized 1918 Alien Application Permits for men named Seeger. Not my relatives, as far as I can tell, but in case they could be yours: They lived in Atchison, Kan., and it looks like they were born in Düsseldorf, Germany.



I also received 84 Description Only results,  13 results from the Archives.gov website, 20 results from presidential library sites and five authority records.

Go here to try your own OPA search.

From the Social Security Administration to the FBI, what US federal agencies might have genealogical records of your ancestors? And how do you find them? Check out our guide to researching your genealogy in US government records.


NARA | Research Tips
Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:58:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, July 19, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 15-19
Posted by Diane

  • Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers and High-Definition Genealogy has launched a new website, Hack Genealogy. With the tagline, "Repurposing today's technology for tomorrow's genealogy," it'll focus on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry, and how it applied to your family history research.
  • The Civil War Trust has released a Civil War In4 video series to answer frequently asked questions about the American Civil War in a modern, digestible format, and in four minutes. So far, the series has 13 videos; watch them at civilwar.org/in4.
  • The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has named its first ever executive director, Walter Louis Powell. The appointment comes after a yearlong search, and is part of a program to modernize the 116-year-old organization. Powell has worked as an historic preservation consultant, and as a visiting history instructor and interim director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. 


Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, July 19, 2013 9:11:01 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, July 18, 2013
Genealogy Tools for Tracing Ancestors Across the USA
Posted by Diane

Hey, fellow US family history sleuths! This Family Tree Magazine July genealogy value pack celebrates your American heritage with resources to trace your ancestors all across the USA.

The USA Genealogy Value Pack includes:

  • our popular CD of State Research Guides for every US state, newly revised and updated with the latest information and resources
  • the Family Tree Sourcebook: Your Essential Directory of American County and Town Resources
  • our City Genealogy Guides e-book, with essential research advice for 31 cities across the United States
  • our Researching Revolutionary Ancestors video class with D. Joshua Taylor (yes, the Josh Taylor you've seen revealing ancestral information to Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelly Clarkson and other "Who Do You Think You Are?" guests)
You'll get place-based research guidance, resource listings and maps for every US state, detailed county-level source information, help with municipal records, and demos of strategies for finding Patriot ancestors.

The USA Genealogy Value Pack is on sale in July for $49.99—that's 66% discount. Check it out in ShopFamilyTree.com.

ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Thursday, July 18, 2013 10:31:55 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Free New England Genealogy Records Through July 21 on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com is offering free access to recently updated collections of New England genealogy records through July 21.

The free records include:
  • Massachusetts, Birth Records, 1840-1915
  • New Hampshire, Birth Records, 1659-1900
  • Massachusetts, Marriage Records, 1840-1915
  • New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947
  • Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915
  • New Hampshire, Death and Disinterment Records, 1754-1947
  • Connecticut, Hale Cemetery Inscriptions, 1675-1934 
  • Rhode Island, State Censuses, 1865-1935
  • Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 
  • Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 
  • Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990
Go here to search these records. You'll need to sign up for a free basic Ancestry.com account to view full record details in your search results.

Find expert genealogy research help for New England ancestors in Family Tree Magazine's New England Genealogy Value Pack, on sale now for 44% off in ShopFamilyTree.com.


Ancestry.com
Thursday, July 18, 2013 9:04:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Can Findmypast.com Take PERSI From Most-Overlooked to Most-Used Genealogy Resource?
Posted by Diane

PERSI, aka the Periodical Source Index, may be about to go from one of the best most-overlooked genealogy resources to one of the best most-used.

Brightsolid, the British company behind findmypast.com and other genealogy websites, has agreed with PERSI's creators at the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library (ACPL) to publish the index—and the company plans to make each index entry link to an image of the article it refers to.

Let's back up for a minute and talk about PERSI: It's an index to articles in thousands of genealogy and local history periodicals published in the US and Canada back to 1800. Any of which could contain information that helps you with a family or place you're researching

Allen County librarians began creating PERSI in 1986. It now has about 2.5 million citations and adds 100,000 per year, according to the Journal Gazette.

The index was made searchable on Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest Online (which has a more recent version you can search at libraries that offer HeritageQuest Online). You can run a search, and then if you find an index entry that mentions a family or place of interest, you can order a copy of the article from ACPL.

That's been the only way for you to access all those genealogy periodicals. You know, unless you want to subscribe to all of them, and then read them. And then find the periodicals no longer in publication, and read those, too.

Until now. If brightsolid can secure permission from publishers, findmypast.com subscribers will be able to search for articles related to their ancestors, and then link to digitized images of the articles. That can't happen soon enough as far as I'm concerned.

Read more about PERSI in the Journal Gazette.

Don't want to wait? Learn how to use PERSI and other databases in HeritageQuest Online (including family and local histories, censuses and military records) with our HeritageQuest Online Web Guide.



findmypast | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:05:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, July 15, 2013
Watch the "Who Do You Think You Are?" Kelly Clarkson Episode on iTunes
Posted by Diane

The US show "Who Do You Think You Are?" doesn't debut on TLC until July 23, but you already can watch the first episode, featuring singer Kelly Clarkson, on iTunes. Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers tells you how (you'll need to sign up for an Apple ID if you're not already on iTunes).

This morning I watched along as Clarkson traced her Civil War ancestor Isaiah Rose from Ohio to Georgia, where he was imprisoned at Andersonville, and back.

Kelly Clarkson is a hugger. It seems weird to me to hug the archivists and historians at the library, but then I'm not a big hugger in general. If you're learning remarkable and humbling new stories about your ancestors, maybe hugging would be part of your genealogy happy dance.

I don't want to give too much away before the episode airs. So all I'll say is that viewers get to visit the Andersonville National Historic Site, see historical illustrations and photos (including a shocking image of a man who was held there), and hear a contemporary account from a prisoner. To me, that's the best part of the show—you learn about the history that might have affected your own ancestors and that shaped our country.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, July 15, 2013 4:33:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, July 12, 2013
House Histories: Do You Believe in Ghost Signs?
Posted by Diane

This was a totally  unexpected find: I was casually searching the Library of Congress website for old images of Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, where several ancestors lived. This photo popped up in my results:



The building closest to the camera was once my great-great-grandfather's cigar store and family home. The picture is part of a group of shots from the neighborhood, taken in 1982 for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). There's an accompanying PDF document with history and architecture notes.

When I opened the giant high-resolution TIFF of the image, I saw this:



Do you see it, too? It's a "ghost sign"—the outline of some of the letters from the store's "H.A. Seeger Cigar Manufacturer" sign. Here's a closer look at part of it:



My mom once drove us kids by the building, and we saw where the letters had been. I've often wished we took a photo during that stop—the building's been renovated and that ghost sign is gone. So this is an extra-special find.

This copy of a photo from my family collection shows what the sign looked like back in the day:



In an earlier picture I've posted before, the sign's lettering was different and there was no street lamp or window on the first floor. If I can figure out when those updates happened, it'll help me date this photo.

Time to learn more about this building. Are you researching an ancestor's house? Our guide to constructing a house history is a $4 download in ShopFamilyTree.com.

Here's how found the photo: On the Library of Congress site, I searched for the term Cincinnati German and limited my results to "Photo, Print, Drawing," like so:



The group of pictures was second in my search results. Not everything in the LOC catalog is digitized online, but luckily, these are. I knew to click on it because the streets in the description are the ones around the building.



We list more websites with databases of old photos here. Many state and local archives digitize photos for online memory projects, too.

You can learn more about finding, identifying and preserving old photos from our Photo Detective Collection, with study materials from photo historian Maureen A. Taylor and digital photography expert Nancy Hendrickson.


Libraries and Archives | Photos | Research Tips
Friday, July 12, 2013 11:11:44 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral, July 8-12
Posted by Diane

An online petition to release the 1921 Canadian census is circulating. You can read more about it and link to it on the Olive Tree Genealogy blog.


Canadian roots | Celebrity Roots | findmypast
Friday, July 12, 2013 10:18:57 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, July 11, 2013
Using Evernote to Organize My Genealogy Research
Posted by Diane

My former method of genealogy research organization was to email myself notes and records, or use notekeeping gadgets on my iGoogle page.

But with the emails getting buried in my in-box and the impending retirement of iGoogle, I wasn't very organized.

Then I started hearing more about the Evernote web clipper and note-taker, and we began planning an Evernote for genealogists webinar with Lisa Louise Cooke (it's July 25—more details below).

So I gradually started using it, like this:
  • I set up a Genealogy notebook "stack", and within that, notebooks for branches I'm researching.
  • When I need to put a record to request on my genealogy to-do list, I make a note in the appropriate notebook (usually I just copy and paste a catalog record and URL from a repository website) and tag it with the last name, the repository or website, and other relevant tag.

  • Next time I plan to visit some repository, or if I want to focus on a particular family, I can pull up all my notes with the right tags, and there's my to-do list.
  • If I'm away from home, I can add a note using the Evernote app on my phone. I can snap a picture of a record or photo and attach the image to my note.
Here's a peek at what it looks like. Everything in one place, and viewable from anywhere:



I'm feeling a lot less scattered, genealogy-wise, these days. I also use Evernote to keep my grocery list and save business cards, and it helped me get organized for our vacation last month. It's free, unless you need a LOT of storage.

I'm sure there's a lot more I could be using it for—sounds like you can share notes with other researchers and relatives, perform text-recognition of images to make them searchable, annotate images using something called Skitch, set up tables, and more.

So I'm looking forward to the webinar with Lisa. It's called Organize Your Research With Evernote, and it's on Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m. ET (that's 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT).

And you can save $10 if you register now (this early registration offer expires July 18).


Genealogy Apps | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, July 11, 2013 10:25:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Keys to Creating a Great Family Tree Website
Posted by Diane

Do you want to share your genealogy research and connect with cousins through a family history website? Or maybe you want to improve the genealogy website you already have.  

The best family tree websites share these key elements, says Nancy Henrickson, adviser for Family Tree University's Make a Free Family Website in One Week online workshop:
  • Focus
  • Organization
  • Adherence to best practices
  • Consistent updating
To make sure your site is on track in these areas, Nancy suggests asking yourself these questions:

Focus

  • Is the site about a single surname or everyone you're researching?
  • Will you include images?
  • Is it clear to site visitors what the site is about?
  • Is this a research-based site?
  • Do you know the goal of this site?
Organization
  • Have you created logical categories for your posts?
  • Is the site easy to navigate?
  • Have you made it easy for people find out how to contact you?
  • Have you thought about how to organize data?
  • Will you have a photo gallery?
Best Practices
  • Is information presented in small bites vs. large areas of text?
  • Have you added ALT tags to your images?
  • Have you clearly titled each post?
  • Have you selected well-defined tags for each post?
Consistent Updating
  • Do you update your site at least once a week?
  • Do you have a plan for what you'll post? Optimized Images
  • Are your images resized at 72dpi?
  • Are your images in .jpg format?
  • Have you cropped images to highlight the important areas?
In the Make a Free Family Website in One Week online workshop (July 24-31), you'll watch video classes and receive guidance from Nancy. By the end of the workshop, you'll have built a basic genealogy website. Find out more on FamilyTreeUniversity.com.


Editor's Pick | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice
Tuesday, July 09, 2013 12:52:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Watch a Preview of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on TLC
Posted by Diane

Excited for the fourth season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" premiering July 23 on TLC? Here's a video preview.

It's longer than the teaser that was released at the end of June, and drops clues to the family history surprises in store for some of the celebrity guests. You'll see them in the video: Kelly Clarkson, Zooey Deschanel, Chris O'Donnell, Christina Applegate, Jim Parsons, Cindy Crawford, Trisha Yearwood and Chelsea Handler. (We posted here about who these people are.) 



"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Videos
Tuesday, July 09, 2013 12:23:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, July 05, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • You can search for Oregon ancestors in the digital archive at Historical Oregon Newspapers. The newspapers come from more than 20 Oregon cities and date between 1848 and 1922. Search all the papers on the home page, or click the Search tab to run an advanced search. You can click a city on the Oregon map to browse papers from there.

    The site is part of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program, and you'll also find these papers digitized on the Library of Congress' Chronicling America website.


FamilySearch | Newspapers
Friday, July 05, 2013 1:27:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Find American Revolution Ancestors in SAR Applications, Free Through July 7 on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

Researching ancestors who fought in the American Revolution? Ancestry.com has made its collection of Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications free through July 7.

The collection has 145,000 applications for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) lineage society, based in Louisville, Ky., that were approved between 1889 and Dec. 31, 1970.

Applications contains pedigrees and supporting genealogy information that the applicant used to prove a relationship to an ancestor who supported the cause of American Independence between 1775 and 1783. The supporting information could include church records, Revolutionary War pension documents, court records, deeds and more.

You can search for anyone named in an application—the applicant, the Patriot, or anyone who links the two. You also could search for a SAR member number.

Note that the database doesn't contain data on every man who fought in the American Revolution—only on those named in SAR applications approved from 1889 to 1970.

Click here to search Ancestry.com's SAR membership applications. You'll need to register for a free Ancestry.com account to view records.


Ancestry.com | Military records
Friday, July 05, 2013 9:05:07 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Putting It All Together: The Write Your Family History Value Pack
Posted by Diane

I've been doing genealogy research since I started at the magazine 10 years ago (in more earnest in recent years). Lately as I update my family tree, I have this niggling thought: How do I put it all together?



I don't want to just record family history. I want to package it all up in words and pictures, to both summarize and detail my ancestors' lives, and make it easy for people to see all those connections and family events.

This is a comment I've heard in one form or another from many of you. Here's something that might help: Our Write Your Family History Value Pack. It has articles and tools that'll help you carry out a family history writing project, big or small, from start to finish. This value pack includes:
  • Writing Your Family Memoir independent study course from Family Tree University
  • Seven Tips to Write Your Family History article download
  • Personal Historian 2 software on CD
  • Writing Life Stories book download
Learn more about each of these components here. Buying them together in the Write Your Family History Value Pack saves you 66 percent!

The Write Your Family History Value Pack also comes with 25 percent off an instructor-guided Family Tree University course (such as Write Your Family History: Create a Captivating Record of Your Family’s Story or Creating a Family History Book: Guidance for Assembling and Printing a Family Keepsake).

saving and sharing family history | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 1:40:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Did You Know ... ?: Declaration of Independence Edition
Posted by Diane

Like any group effort, the writing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence involved some give-and-take and even drama.



These seven facts relay some of the Declaration's back story:
  • The youngest signatory was 26-year-old Edward Rutledge, who was initially opposed to independence from Britain, but voted to adopt for the sake of unanimity. He later was captured by the British but eventually released. Good old Benjamin Franklin was the oldest, at 70.

  • Signatory Richard Stockton also was captured by the British and recanted his signature under duress. 
  • In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner, included slavery among his list of grievances against King George of England:
"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere"
This grievance was edited out at the request of delegates from South Carolina. This Wikipedia article discusses how rebuttals challenged the document's "all men are created equal" claims and the impact on American slavery.
  • In what might resemble a writer's worst nightmare, the members of the Continental Congress spent two days editing Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence. He sent copies to several friends with changes indicated, and Henry Lee consoled him, "I wish sincerely, as well for the honor of Congress, as for that of the States, that the Manuscript had not been mangled as it is."

  • Whether the Declaration was signed on July 4 is up for debate. The version of events generally accepted by historians is that Congress adopted the Declaration on July 4 and its president, John Hancock, signed, along with his secretary. On July 19, a handwritten copy was produced to bear all the delegates' signatures; most signed Aug. 2. The Library of Congress website shows all this on a timeline for you.
  • Gen. George Washington read the Declaration of Independence to his troops in New York City on July 9. Soon after, they destroyed the statue of King George III at the foot of Broadway and used the lead to make musket balls.

  • Of the 200 broadsides John Dunlap of Philadelphia printed on the night of July 4, 1776, 26 are known to survive. One was the flea market find of a lifetime: In 1989, a shopper discovered the broadside behind a framed painting he bought for $4. In 2000, it went for $8.14 million at auction.

Learn even more about the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives Charters of Freedom exhibit.

Let genealogy expert and "Who Do You Think You Are?" researcher D. Joshua Taylor help you find your Patriot ancestors in our Researching Revolutionary War Ancestors video course.


NARA | Social History
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 11:51:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, July 01, 2013
Ancestry.com Surveys Users on Old Search
Posted by Diane

In light of the online commentary over the impending discontinuation of Old Search, Ancestry.com has set up a survey to gather your feedback on the site's search function.

Ancestry.com spokesperson Matthew Deighton said the company wants Old Search users to know that it plans to preserve the functionality of the Old Search, and merge it into one consolidated search experience.

In a note to distributed to bloggers Friday, Ancestry.com asked users to take the survey. It also linked to an educational video about the current (aka "New") search experience and to an article with a side-by-side explanation of achieving the same results with New Search as Old Search.

The note also says that some of the functions Old Search fans have lamented losing are present in New Search (I added the bullets to this quote):
"Many of the recent concerns and comments have cited functionality that actually exists in current search, as well as in old search—specifically:
  • Our current search experience allows users to view search results as a list of ranked records or as a consolidated list of categories.
  • Our current search experience allows users to do 'Exact Match' searches.
  • Our current search experience allows users to specify a 'Collection Priority' to filter results by country. "
Read Ancestry.com's note here and take the survey here.


Ancestry.com
Monday, July 01, 2013 12:58:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]