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Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Partnerships Add Burial Records and Obituaries to MyHeritage.com
Posted by Diane
Halloween talk of death won't scare many genealogists, who are acutely interested in when, where and how their ancestors died. But what's scary sometimes is the search for
evidence of an elusive ancestor's death.
Maybe this will help:
MyHeritage has joined with the BillionGraves
cemetery records website and the memorial website Tributes.com to add 5.5 million
gravestone images and records, and 3.5 million obituaries, to its
These records are available for free on SuperSearch, MyHeritage's
search engine for historical records on the site. Those with family
trees on MyHeritage will receive Record Matches to alert them to
matches in these new collections. (The Tributes.com obituaries will
tend to be recent deaths.)
In related news, MyHeritage is holding a Halloween
photo contest: Enter your most creative and original Halloween
family photo by Nov. 3, and three entrants will win a one-year
MyHeritage data subscription. Get
details on the MyHeritage blog.
Need advice for finding out about your ancestors' deaths? Try our Death
Records Workbook eight-page download, available for $4.99 in
ShopFamilyTree.com. It has instructions and resources for finding
death records, substitute records that can provide death
information, sample records, and a form to help you organize
your death records search.
MyHeritage | Vital Records
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 1:09:11 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The Genealogy Event Packs a Lot of Family History Into One Day in NYC
Posted by Diane
Are you lucky enough to be in the Big Apple this weekend? (I'm
in New York" right now.)
If so, you should definitely take some time out this Saturday, Nov. 2, to
see what The
Genealogy Event is all about. This family history show at New
York City's Metropolitan Pavilion is a day full of how-to sessions,
expert consultations, and exhibits of resources and tools.
The 36 half-hour sessions and four 45-minute mini-workshops
focus on a range of research topics, including Ancestry.com
searching, genetic genealogy, photo research, using maps, criminal
ancestors, and others.
You also can register for a free 15-minute
professional consultation in the Expert Lounge (so practice
succinctly pitching your question—the longer you talk, the less your
pro can talk).
And check out the resources of 27 exhibitors including Family Tree Magazine
in booth 217. Pick up a free issue of the magazine (while they last)
and say hi to our publisher Allison Dolan!
The Genealogy Event is open Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Appointments with experts begin at 10:15 a.m. and sessions begin at
You can purchase an All-Day Pass at the door for $35 or online
for $30 (plus a $1.50 online transaction fee). A Twilight Pass
($25 at the door, $20 plus $1.50 online)
gets you in from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 2:14:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, October 28, 2013
8 Photo and Document Scanning Tips for Genealogists
Posted by Diane
Does a pile of papers and pictures stand between you and your dream
of a digitized family archive? Digitized files are easier than their paper counterparts to
share with relatives, back up, and turn into a family history book
Get started scanning with these quick tips from our upcoming One-Week
Workshop: Digitize Your Genealogy Documents, Photos and Heirlooms.
1. Not sure where to start? Start digitizing your most valuable and irreplaceable items
2. Set an achievable goal, such as scanning 10 items a week, or
participating in Scanfest
(genealogists meet online the last Sunday each month and chat as
3. You could speed up the scanning process by scanning multiple
photos at once. Some photo software (such as Adobe
Photoshop Elements) automatically separates the scanned images
into separate files.
4. Choose the right resolution—usually, 300 dpi for documents and at
least 600 dpi for images. If you plan to print an enlargement or
zoom in for detailed retouching, go up to 1,200 dpi.
5. Consider saving master copies of photos as TIFFs,
and use JPG copies to share and for everyday viewing. The PDF format is a good choice for documents.
6. Before you scan, clean your scanner glass with a soft, dry cloth.
If it's really dirty, spray a little glass cleaner on the
cloth (never on the glass). If the photo or document is dusty,
gently brush it with a soft, dry brush.
7. Organize digital files as you scan. Decide on a file structure
for your scanned images and file them right away. If you use
photo-organizing software, tag images with the name of the person or
family associated with the item, plus a place, date, type of record,
and other pertinent information.
8. Back up your scans in multiple locations, such as to the cloud,
to an external hard drive, and on your sister's computer.
Your Genealogy Documents, Photos and Heirlooms one-week workshop,
happening Nov. 15-22, will help you
The workshop gives you access to four pre-recorded video classes
with presentations and demos, excerpts from Family Tree University's
popular Digitize Your Family History course, plus daily
message-board discussions and a Q&A with digitization expert
Denise May Levenick, author of How
To Archive Family Keepsakes.
- create a manageable plan for your digitizing project
- work with fragile and bulky items
- learn the best options for digitizing items
- Learn how to back up your digital files
for the Digitize Your Genealogy Documents, Photos and Heirlooms
workshop before Nov. 11 to save $35 on tuition with code
Photos | Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Monday, October 28, 2013 3:44:07 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Eight Family Tree Tips to Take Away From "Genealogy Roadshow"
Posted by Diane
Genealogy television shows like TLC's "Who Do You Think You Are?"
and PBS' "Genealogy Roadshow" are meant to entertain us, but that
doesn't mean we can't learn a thing or two from them.
In fact, our Tuesday, Nov. 12 webinar, 10
Essential Research Tricks from "Genealogy Roadshow," is full
of such lessons from co-host D. Joshua Taylor.
Here are my own favorite takeaway family tree research tips from
- Don't believe everything your family told you about your
ancestors. Whether it's the year Great-grandpa arrived in
the United States or a rumored link to George Washington, treat
family stories as theories that require research to prove or
- You can't get away from the "start with yourself and work
backward" principle. No matter what family claim the
"Genealogy Roadshow" experts were researching, the research
started with the present and moved to the person's parents, then
grandparents, etc. You didn't get details about every generation
in the show's quick segments (remember the entertainment factor), but those generations were listed
in the trees that flashed by.
- You're related to lots of people. Among them is
probably someone famous and someone infamous (remember this next
time one of those announcements comes out about which
celebrities are related—it's really not anything unusual). The
way to document a connection between two people is to research
both family trees as you normally would, and find a person
common to both trees.
- Build on others' work. "Genealogy Roadshow" sometimes
used already-existing, reliable research about famous folks.
Don't be afraid to look for clues in published family histories
and family trees you find online—just make sure you do research
to verify all the names, dates and relationships in those
resources, so you don't end up repeating someone else's mistakes
and claiming the wrong ancestors.
- Once you get beyond your garden-variety first or second
cousin, figuring out exactly how you're related to someone can
seem complicated. The trick is to find the most recent
common ancestor to the two cousins in question. If there's a
different number of generations between each cousin and the most
recent common ancestor, the cousins are "removed." The number of
removes is equal to the number of generations that separates the
two cousins. We explain
cousin relationships here and have a free
relationship chart PDF download here.
Josh Taylor's 10
Essential Research Tricks From "Genealogy Roadshow" will help
you do better family tree research whether you watched the show or
not. And you'll save $10 when you register
- Sometimes genealogical discoveries come quickly, and
sometimes it takes a lot of research to find answers. The
show's hosts often used the word "we" when talking about records
discovered. Behind the scenes, full-time, professional
researchers were devoting hours upon hours to tracing guests'
family trees. You might not be able to devote that much time at
once to your research, but keep plugging away a little bit at a
time. And keep track of what you've done so next time you can
pick up where you left off.
Genealogy TV | Research Tips
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:50:06 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Genealogy Resources for Hard-to-Find Virginia Ancestors
Posted by Diane
Virginia genealogy researchers, meet the Library of Virginia. And
the University of
Virginia Library, and several other resources for tracking
down your Virginia roots.
In our Oct. 24 webinar Virginia
Genealogy: Beyond the Basics, you'll become well-acquainted
with these repositories and other resources for Virginia-specific
genealogy records, both online and offline offline records at
Virginia genealogy expert Shannon Combs Bennett will let you in on
her favorite tricks and strategies for tracing hard-to-find Virginia
ancestors (including dealing with the state's burned counties).
Here's a sampling of the Virginia genealogy records covered in this
And you don't even have to worry about scribbling notes, because all
webinar registrants receive a handout of the presentation slides and
access to view the recorded webinar again as often as they like.
county records including wills, deeds, court orders, vital records
and naturalization oaths
chancery records and other court records
official vital records, including those before statewide recording
tax records, including those of poll taxes, personal property and
record sets focusing on non-English groups
Genealogy: Beyond the Basics webinar takes place Thursday,
Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain, 4 p.m.
Pacific). Time's running out to register! Learn
more about the webinar and sign up today in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 2:40:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, October 18, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 14-18
Posted by Diane
- The International Society of Family History Writers and Editors has
opened its 2014 Excellence in Writing competition. Entries are due
by June 15, 2014. Both members and nonmembers, published and
unpublished, can enter to win cash prizes. Entries must fall into
one of six categories—see
them here. For additional details and entry
the entrant packet here.
updates previewed to 6,000 AncestryDNA customers in September
are now available to everyone who's tested with Ancestry.com. The
updates offer a more-detailed ethnic heritage analysis, including
for African ancestry, a redesigned user interface, and a database of
results from more than 200,000 customers. There's no additional cost
for those who've tested with Ancestry.com; a new DNA test costs $99.
more on the Ancestry.com blog.
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Genetic Genealogy | saving and sharing family history
Friday, October 18, 2013 12:54:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, October 17, 2013
FamilySearch Partners With Findmypast.com Owner D.C. Thomson
Posted by Tyler
FamilySearch is forming yet
with a commercial genealogy company—this time, with DC
Thomson, formerly called Brightsolid, owner of the findmypast.com subscription website.
DC Thomson will "deliver a wide range of projects including digital
preservation, records search, technological development and the
means to allow family historians to share their discoveries." No
additional specifics are being offered about the projects.
DC Thomson, in turn, received access to more than 13 million
records from FamilySearch.org, including major collections of
births, marriages and deaths covering America, Australia and
Ireland. Those records have already launched on findmypast.com.
About 600 additional collections containing millions of records will
follow. Those records will continue to be accessible free at
The organizations have previously collaborated on digitization and
indexing projects including the 1940 census and British army
I wonder how these partnership agreements affect each other. Is FamilySearch trying not to play favorites, or does it have fingers in too many pies? For example, can
the records digitized and indexed as a result of Ancestry.com's
$60 million investment with FamilySearch then be shared with
Ancestry.com's competitor MyHeritage.com (which has agreed
to give FamilySearch its Smart Matching and Record Matching
technologies) and/or with DC Thomson (in exchange for the
As has become FamilySearch's practice with such announcements, the
organization has posted an FAQ here. (Question #2 makes it sound a
little like findmypast records are launching on FamilySearch, which
is the opposite of what's happening.)
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Industry | MyHeritage
Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:00:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Create a Family History Book Workshop Registration Giveaway!
Posted by Diane
Maybe you've thought about putting all your family history research
together into a book. I have. It
seems like the best way to make all this work available to my family, in a
digestible way and an easy-to-find, permanent place.
And to honor the ancestors I've gotten to know through my research.
It's a big project. Scary, even.
We want to get you started on your family history book in our Create
a Family History Book One-Week Workshop, Oct. 25-31, guided by
published genealogy author Nancy Hendrickson. The video classes,
written lessons, and message boad interaction with Nancy and
workshop participants will help you
Don't worry, you won't have to do it all now. But the workshop will
prepare you with a start and a plan, so you can chip away at your
genealogy writing project as you're able.
- learn to build a solid foundation for your book
- put together images, documents, stories and research into a
- share your book with your family or a wider audience
can win a free registration for this workshop—click here to enter
our giveaway. The entry deadline is Monday. Oct. 21 at 11:59
Think you need to first "finish" your research or retire first?
Nope! Here are five
comon excuses family historians give for not getting started—and
how to get past those writer's blocks.
Here are some smaller-scale ideas
for family history writing projects that can serve as building
blocks for your family history, or stand on their own as ways to
share your research.
here for the Create a Family History One-Week Workshop details and
Family Tree University | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 3:30:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Genealogy Clues Your Ancestor Was a Black Sheep
Posted by Diane
One of the folks on this week's "Genealogy
Roadshow"—the last one of the season, filmed in Austin,
Texas—had a Civil War ancestor who, perhaps suffering from
post-traumatic stress disorder, shot and killed his wife years after
the war. A very sad story.
Such family tree discoveries can be unsettling, even when family
rumors hint that something bad happened (as they did for this
Genealogy Roadshow guest). On the other hand, genealogists often
relish having ancestors who committed less heinous crimes—maybe
horse thievery or bootlegging—because that means records to
"Black sheep" are more common than you might think: Investigating
our family stories of my great-grandfather's time in prison for
bootlegging led me to the unexpected
discovery that his wife had filed for divorce and claimed cruel
treatment (the case was dismissed).
On the other side of
the family, I was completely surprised to discover that my
third-great-grandparents were divorced
in a sensational case, and a few years later, my
third-great-grandfather was stabbed in a knife fight over a woman
he'd become obsessed with (I still need to blog about this).
Here are a few clues that you may have a black sheep ancestor on
Strategies: Criminal Records download helps you track down
court, prison and other records of ancestors who strayed to the
wrong side of the law.
- Family stories. They aren't always true, as we've seen on
"Genealogy Roadshow," but there's often a grain of truth behind
- An unexplained disappearance from the family. It could
indicate an unrecorded death or migration for work, or it could
mean the person deserted the family.
- Your ancestor is listed in prison on a census. You'll usually
see the institution listed at the top of the form, and he may be
listed as an "inmate" or a "prisoner." (Not all inmates were in
prisons, though: In 1920, my bootlegger's son was an "inmate" in
an orphanage. It was just a term for someone who lived in an
If you know or suspect your ancestor was imprisoned, you can
find some records or indexes online. For federal institutions, check the National
Archives' Online Public Access search. For state prisons, check the state archives' website. Also look for prison records you can borrow on microfilm through interlibrary loan.
- You find newspaper articles about a divorce filing, desertion
(wives would sometimes post newspaper ads for missing husbands),
arrest, or a court action. I've been unable to find the court
records for my great-grandfather's bootlegging trial, so newspaper
mentions of it are all I have (so far).
- You find court records. When I was checking a court index in
search of the bootlegging case, I came across an entry showing
my great-grandparents as plaintiff and defendant: their divorce
Criminal Court Records on-demand webinar with Judy G. Russell
delves even deeper into the trial process, what court records it
might have generated about your ancestor, and how to find those
Watch this week's "Genealogy
Roadshow" online here.
court records | Genealogy TV | Newspapers
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:58:21 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
MyHeritage, FamilySearch Form Partnership to Exchange Technologies and Records
Posted by Diane
Genealogy website and family network MyHeritage has announced
a long-term strategic partnership with FamilySearch in which
MyHeritage will provide its Smart
Matching and Record
Matching technologies to FamilySearch, and FamilySearch will
share 2 billion records
from all over the world and family tree profiles
By the end of this year, FamilySearch records—including vital
records, censuses and more—and family tree profiles will become part
of the SuperSearch
on MyHeritage, and will be matched with MyHeritage members' family
Some of the content will be available free to MyHeritage
basic members, and some will require a MyHeritage.com data
subscription to view. FamilySearch's volunteer-indexed records will
continue to be available free through FamilySearch.org, according
to a FamilySearch FAQ.
When MyHeritage.com technologies are implemented on FamilySearch.org
sometime in 2014, SmartMatching will automatically find connections
between FamilySearch user-contributed family trees and MyHeritage
family trees, and Record Matching will find historical records
relevant to people in FamilySearch family trees.
MyHeritage members who don't want their family trees Smart Matched
with FamilySearch family trees can use the settings under "My
Privacy" to turn off Smart Matching with other MyHeritage websites
and partners (see
instructions in this FAQ).
This comes on the heels of FamilySearch's
partnership with Ancestry.com, which has Ancestry.com putting
up $60 million over the next five years to digitize a billion
FamilySearch records, in exchange for the records and indexing
Learn more about the MyHeritage/FamilySearch partnership from this
MyHeritage blog post and FAQ. Also see
FamilySearch's FAQ here.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | MyHeritage
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:19:50 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, October 11, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 7-11
Posted by Diane
- The Federation of Genealogical Societies is running a three-part webinar series on genealogy society membership and communication. The webinars are presented by our friend George G. Morgan (author of Family Tree Magazine’s Document Detective column) and include:
- The Shape of the 21st Century Genealogical Society (Oct. 22)
- Harness the Power of Email in Your Society (Nov. 4)
- How to Develop and Implement Affordable Membership Benefits (Nov. 18).
Learn more on the FGS Voice blog and use the links in the post to register for each one.
FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy TV | Webinars
Friday, October 11, 2013 9:19:11 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Free eBook: Finding Ancestors With GenealogyBank
Posted by Diane
I've blogged before about my family history finds in newspapers,
first "big" one, on GenealogyBank—a 1924 Dallas Morning News
article about my grandfather, then a boy in a Texas orphanage. It
even had a photo of him.
GenealogyBank is letting us offer a
free ebook you can download about how to find your ancestors
in records on the site (which is known for its huge newspaper
collection, although it also has historical documents and books).
here to get your free How to Search GenealogyBank.com ebook.
Genealogy books | Newspapers
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 1:53:57 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
In Which I Do Some Genealogical Decorating With Pretty (Easy) Family Tree Charts
Posted by Diane
I promised our Genealogy
Insider email newsletter readers that I'd show the framed
family tree charts I put in my children's rooms.
You can get
these charts as type-in downloads or as blank paper versions at ShopFamilyTree.com. You also can win
a framed one—more on this below.
Leo's tree is the 8x10-inch Watercolor design.
Why not hammer in the picture nail with what your two-year-old has immediately at hand?
For Norah's tree, I used the Floral design, also the 8x10-inch size.
Until Daddy takes care of the picture ledge
item on his honey-do list, its home is on Norah's dresser (next to her hairbow frame, inspired by something I saw on
Pinterest. Yes, I actually completed a project I
These obviously aren't my research charts or a complete record of all of the kids' known ancestors. Nope. Instead, they're a beautiful way to
display the names of my children's parents, grandparents and
Because these trees are in children's rooms, I chose frames in kid
colors. (I printed copies for their baby books, too.)
You also could use a more-versatile gold-tone frame, like our
giveaway family tree. I think these decorative family trees
would make lovely gifts for the holidays, a baby shower or a
Three family tree chart designs are available in ShopFamilyTree.com—the Floral
trees I used, and this Vintage
The family tree charts are available two ways in ShopFamilyTree.com:
Here's how you can win the 11x14-inch Watercolor family tree chart,
printed with your family names and framed: Enter
our drawing. That's it!
- a downloadable PDF, which includes three sizes—8x10, 11x14 and
16x20. You can type names right into the spaces on the PDF file and print it on your
printer (what I did), or take the file to an office store to be
- a printed chart. You get an 11x14-inch blank chart that you fill
out by hand (trace lightly with pencil first, or type names on
your computer and print them onto clear labels). It looks like
this option might be temporarily out of stock, though.
Oh, the giveaway deadline is Nov. 1, and you can get extra chances
to win if you get friends to enter. See details on the Family
Tree Chart Giveaway page.
Editor's Pick | Family Heirlooms | Genealogy for kids | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 9:39:04 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
"Genealogy Roadshow" Seeks Guests for Possible Season 2
Posted by Diane
Word on Facebook has it that "Genealogy
Roadshow" is seeking guests for a second
season. (Whether there'll be a
second season hasn't been announced, so we'll have to keep our fingers crossed.)
Want "Genealogy Roadshow" researchers to investigate your family stories? Click here to fill out the
Tuesday, October 08, 2013 4:08:36 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Chinese Immigration and Angel Island
Posted by Diane
One of my favorite aspects of PBS'
"Genealogy Roadshow" is the mention of historical people and
events that have become fuzzy memories for folks who once learned
about them in a history class. The show elaborates on some of these
people and places, and others have me googling on my phone.
Last night, Genealogy Roadshow was set in San Fransisco's US Mint
building, with stories ranging from the 1860 Wiyot
Massacre to the 1906
earthquake and fire. The California
Gold Rush came up when a guest wasn't related to James
Marshall, whose gold discovery in the American River started
San Francisco's Chinese community was highlighted when a young
Asian-American woman wanted to know about her family and its fabled
connection to gangster Big Jim Chen. Researchers weren't able to
prove the story because Chen apparently hid his tracks well.
A history segment focused on Chinese immigration and the Chinese
Exclusion Act of 1882. Here's a little more about Chinese
immigration through San Francisco:
Angel Island in San Francisco Bay
was the immigration point for many Asians entering the United States
between 1910 and 1930 (along with Australians, Candians, Central and
South Americans, Russians and others).
station there served mainly as a place to to detain and
interrogate immigrants, mostly Asian, who were trying to enter the
country. When the 1906 earthquake destroyed San Francisco birth
records, it presented an opportunity to get around the
Exclusion Act, which made an exception for the children of US
citizens: Chinese who'd naturalized could claim to have had
additional children during a visit to China, then sell the "slots"
to those wanting to immigrate.
Immigration officials tried to identify these "paper
lengthy interrogations about the immigrant's home, family and
village in China. Visitors to Angel Island still can see some
of the poetry detainees carved into the walls as they passed
Nearly 250,000 case files were produced for Angel Island immigrants;
they're at the National
Archives at San Francisco. UC Berkeley has a database
with 90,000 of these immigrants' names and case file numbers.
You also can read some
immigrants' stories on the Angel Island Immigration Station
You'll find a guide to researching Angel Island ancestors and
locating their case files (even if they're not in the UC Berkeley index) in
2010 Family Tree Magazine.
You can watch the San Francisco "Genealogy Roadshow" online. Next week's
episode takes place in Austin, Texas. That's where my grandfather went to college in the 1920s and '30s, so I'm hoping to pick up some local history.
Asian roots | Genealogy TV | immigration records
Tuesday, October 08, 2013 3:59:14 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, October 04, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 30-Oct. 4
Posted by Diane
- Those researching ancestors in Ireland, may be relieved to hear this announcement from the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO): “In recent weeks stories have been circulated by some within the genealogical community that the new Freedom of Information Bill will restrict access to Ireland's civil registration records. CIGO can categorically state that these rumors are completely unfounded. No such change is contemplated and this has been confirmed by Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State in the Irish government.” Read more on the CIGO website.
- UK genealogists have launched a free Register of One-Place Studies website, where researchers can register historical studies covering the entire population of a particular place. Click the link for each study for basic details and a link to the study website. Most listings are for the UK, with some from elsewhere.
FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Friday, October 04, 2013 2:07:16 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Genealogy How-to for 13 Countries and Regions
Posted by Diane
As you might guess, I enjoy asking people I've just met where their
ancestors are from. Here in Cincinnati, the answer often involves
Germany, so then I ask about their surnames to see if we have anyone in
common. (Then I wrap it up before people start thinking I'm
Every once in awhile, someone will answer my ancestor inquiry with, "Oh, I'm a mutt" and rattle
off a bunch of ancestral homelands.
Well, this is for all you genealogy mutts: The
Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Your Essential Guide to Trace
Your Genealogy in Europe.
collects genealogy research guides to 13 countries or regions of
Europe, plus European Jewish ancestors. You'll learn
It's a good way to get expert instructions for researching ancestors
across Europe in one economical package. The
Family Tree Guidebook to Europe is available now in
ShopFamilyTree.com (where you'll see the list of countries covered).
- what records are available and where they're kept
- which records you can get from here in the US using the web, microfilm, books and other sources
- how to get records from overseas
- how to deal with language barriers and boundary changes
- what websites, books, organizations and archives can help in
You also can get The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe as an ebook.
Genealogy books | German roots | International Genealogy | Italian roots | Jewish roots | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, October 02, 2013 2:43:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Your Ancestor's Immigration Experience and the Ellis Island Myth
Posted by Diane
Many of the guests on last night's "Genealogy Roadshow," filmed in
Detroit, had done their own research into family history claims. I love to see all that genealogical interest, and the impact that
family history knowledge can have on someone.
The young woman at the
center of my favorite story was adopted as part of an open adoption. She knew a lot
about her white birth mother's family tree, and little about her
African-American birth father's family. All four parents were with
her as Kenyatta Berry took her back in time along her paternal
Among the other stories was a woman whose English ancestors founded a royal bookstore that still exists today—but later in that line, a physician ancestor went to jail for murder. The final guest learned she was in fact related to Ponce de Leon.
One thing that surprised me in this episode was the show's handling of a
guest's tale of his family name change at Ellis Island, a common belief.
Taylor told the man (I'm paraphrasing) that Ellis Island arrivals
were brought into a room with a clerk at a desk, and the clerk may
not have spoken the languages of the immigrants. When the
clerk asked the passenger's name, he would write down what he'd
heard, which often wasn't the spelling the passenger used.
He made it pretty clear that Ellis Island officials didn't deliberately change passenger names because they were hard to pronounce or not American
I've always read, though, that passenger lists were
created by shipping line agents at ports of departure, and turned
over to US officials after arrival here. US immigrant inspectors
would then check off the passengers' names on those lists—they
didn't write down any names. Ellis Island also employed translators
in a wide range of languages to speak with immigrants. TV shows are often heavily edited, so what was
actually said could've been quite different from what ended up on
You can read
more about the Ellis Island name-change myth in this article
by Marian L. Smith, a historian at the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (now the Citizenship and Immigration
Service). The New
York Public Library has a similar article, with details about how
passenger lists were created.
Update: Here's a statement from Josh clarifying his comments on the show.
Many immigrants, like the one in question on last night's show,
changed their own names after arrival. Someone could do this legally, but more
often, people would just start using the new name.
Two good resources for learning about your ancestor's immigration
Also keep an eye out for the December 2013 Family Tree Magazine,
which will have a workbook to help you find your ancestors on
passenger lists. Also
check out these immigration research resources.
You can watch last night's "Genealogy Roadshow" here. Next week's episode takes us to San Francisco. I'm hoping to see some Gold Rush stories!
Genealogy TV | immigration records
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 2:34:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
How the Government Shutdown Impacts Genealogists
Posted by Diane
The government shutdown means that some of you who had big genealogy
research or historical travel plans are up a creek:
US mail will still be delivered, so research requests sent to
non-federal repositories won't be affected.
For the sake of those
more profoundly affected and for genealogists' sake, let's hope this gets resolved soon.
Land records | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 9:09:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)