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Friday, March 28, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, March 24-28
Posted by Diane
Online registration is now open for the 2014 Federation of
Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference, happening Aug.
27-30 in San Antonio. Register
by July 1 for the early-bird discount. I'm especially excited
for this one because my dad's dad's family lived for a time in
Texas, although conference sessions—taught by many of the experts
whose books, blogs and Family Tree Magazine articles you
read—will cover topics to help you research across the United States
and abroad. Learn more about
the FGS 2014 conference, read the conference blog and register
Registration also is open for the Indiana
Historical Society's 2014 Midwestern Roots conference, Aug.
1-2 in Indianapolis, Ind. Coincidentally, my dad's mom's family is
from the Hoosier State. Among the speakers will be Genealogy Gems' Lisa Louise Cooke (who is
presenting a pre-conference Great Google Earth Game Show on July
31), Allen County Public
Library Genealogy Center Director Curt Witcher, professional
genealogist Amy Johnson
Crow and other experts. Learn
more about the Midwestern Roots 2014 conference and register here.
The Archivist at Pennsylvania's Bethany Children's home,
which was established in 1867 and remains in operation today,
emailed to let me know that MOcavo has digitized and indexed the
home's early records. They're in three collections called
Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, Bethany Children's Home Book of Children
One Index, Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, Bethany Children's Home Book of
Children Two Index, and Bethany Children's Home Book of Life Index.
On Mocavo, you can search and view records in one collection at a
time for free. With a subscription, you can search and view
records from multiple collections simultaneously. Learn
more about the Bethany Children's Home records on Mocavo's blog.
The Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is launching a portal to give
you access to photos
from residential schools dating from 1885 to 1996. The LAC
notes that 150,000 Aboriginal children attended more than 130
residential schools around the country. You already can see
65 photos from schools in Alberta, and you'll be able to find
more photos by province or territory as they become available.
Descriptions are included with dates, school names and locations
when available (so far I haven't found any names of students shown
Canadian roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, March 28, 2014 10:24:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Findmypast to Digitize 1939 Register of England and Wales
Posted by Diane
Findmypast.co.uk website owners DC Thomson Family History today announced plans to digitize the 1939 Register of
England and Wales over the next two years.
The British government created the register to record information
about citizens as of Sept. 29, 1939, as WWII broke out in Europe. It
was used to issue identity cards and ration books, and later formed
the basis of National Health Service records.
The register contains an individuals' full name, addresses, date of
birth, sex, marital status and occupation, and also notes changes of
The 1.2 million digital images in the 1939 Register collection will
become searchable on findmypast.co.uk within the next two years.
Information about living individuals, however, will be kept closed
for 100 years from their year of birth, or until proof of death has
You can read more about
this project and register to get updates here.
Learn how to locate the place your English ancestors came from with our video class Hedgerow Genealogy: A Three-Step Strategy for Finding English Origins, presented by English genealogy expert J. H. Fonkert.
findmypast | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, March 27, 2014 9:52:17 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
What Does Your Last Name Mean? How to Find Out
Posted by Diane
Ancestral Names Value Pack made me curious about my family
surnames and whether things I heard growing up about
where a name is from or what it means are true. Here's how I checked
out a few of the names I'm researching:
- Haddad: My maiden name, inherited from my
great-grandparents who immigrated in 1900, is the Lebanese
equivalent to Smith. I Googled surname Haddad and one of
the results was this
- Seeger: I looked up this name, which comes from my
German ancestor H.A. Seeger, in the last name search on
Ancestry.com, which uses surname meanings and origins from
the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names (a
reference you also might be able to find in a library). It also
maps where in the United States most people with that name
lived. The name is German and Dutch, "from the Germanic personal
This name, which belonged to my Irish third-great-grandfather
Edward Norris, is a place-based name for someone from the North
or who lived on the north side of a settlement. It also could be
a French occupational name for a nurse. According to the Irish
Times' mid-1800s surname distribution search, most
Norrises lived in County Waterford, with next-door Tipperary and
Kilkenny as runners-up. Family lore says Edward came from County
Cork, which also is on the list and borders Waterford.
- Frost: This surname, from my English
third-great-grandfather, gives me fits in online searches.
Besides all the weather reports, it's a pretty common name. It
helps to add place names, genealogy and -weather
or -winter to my searches. The name could be English,
German, Danish or Swedish, and it's based on a nickname for
someone "of an icy and unbending disposition or who had white
- Reuter: Google wants to show me Reuters news reports
if I forget quotation marks (as in "Reuter") when searching for
this name online. It's a German name, possibly for "someone who
lived in a clearing or an occupational name for a clearer of
- Ladenkotter/Ladenkoetter: Does anyone have ideas about
this German name? It's not in
the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names or on
surname sites, and web searches turn up mostly my own posts. I
even tried typing the name into Google translate to
see if it means anything in German (it doesn't). On the plus
side, it's unusual, and just about any Ladenkoetter records
I find are for a relative. Update: If you have German roots, the comments about this name's origins (including one from A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors coauthor Ernest Thode) are insightful. Thank you to Mr. Thode, K. Hewett and Fawn!
Here are seven
more surname research tips from FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
Ancestral Names Value Pack has resources for searching names,
understanding naming patterns, figuring out how surnames changed
over time, and discovering surname origins and meanings. Learn more
about it in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Ancestry.com | German roots | Research Tips
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:57:22 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Genealogy Tips for Tracing Female Ancestors
Posted by Diane
March is Women's History
Month, so it seems a good time to share tips and facts from Legal Genealogist Judy
G. Russell's "Female Ancestors and the Law" chat for our
Family Tree University Virtual Genealogy Conference last month.
You can get in-depth advice on researching women in your family in
Female Ancestors Family Tree University course, which starts
Monday, March 24. We also have a Discover
Your Female Ancestors value pack with an Independent Study
version of that course, plus a video class, a cheat sheet and
- Judy opened the chat with this interesting tidbit: Under common law, a girl could be betrothed
at age 7. She was entitled to dower at age 9. She couldn’t
choose a guardian until she was 14 or serve as executrix until
17, and wasn’t of full age until 21. But she could be married
off at age 12.
- A married woman was called a feme
covert, which literally means a woman hidden behind the
identity of her husband.
- Judy recommended Black's
Law Dictionary as a good resource for finding out
what laws governed women's lives in the places your ancestors
lived. It was first published in 1891, and you can see the 2nd edition,
published in 1910, for free here. Look for printed
editions at large libraries and law libraries.
- A widowed woman would have to be named guardian of her own
children in a probate court, or the court might name a male
relative to look after the children's inherited property (even
if they still lived with their mother).
- An underage woman usually had to have a male guardian's
permission to marry. Look for a record with the couple's
- Early divorces often had to be approved by state legislatures;
look for these records in legislative records (usually at a
- Prenuptial agreements, often found with deeds or court
records, weren't uncommon, even early on.
- Land records are excellent for researching
women. A husband had to sell land, even if the wife had
inherited it from her father, but the wife had to sign off on
it. That's called her "dower" right (not to be confused with a
dowry), and it was intended to provide some means of support
for a woman whose husband had died.
- "Property" transfers of slaves,
usually in chancery or equity courts, also can be a source of
information on female heirs.
- Chat participants have had luck finding maiden names in
children's birth, marriage and death records; and in male
ancestors' wills. Several said that
sons in their families received the mother's maiden name as a
I also wanted to share this
post from the New York History Blog, about a New York law, in
effect until March 20, 1860, that kept
married women from having any legal control over money they
- One chatter reminded us not to assume that someone listed by
initials in a record (such as M.A. Smith) is male.
where you can find out about our Fall 2014 Virtual Genealogy
Conference, happening Sept. 19-21.
Female ancestors | Research Tips | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 3:31:53 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
New Genealogy Webinars: Make Evernote Effortless & Using DNA To Solve Family Mysteries
Posted by Diane
I wanted to make sure you know about two webinar learning
opportunities we have coming up, on using Evernote for family history and on genetic genealogy:
The first one, this Thursday, is Making Evernote Effortless
with Lisa Louise Cooke. An expert on using Evernote to organize
research and streamline workflow, Lisa will talk about
source citations in Evernote
- accessing your Evernote notes
faster with tools like shortcuts and quick keys
- sharing notes
- hacking the mobile version to add
the web clipper to your tablet's web browser
You'll learn how to use Evernote to stop researching haphazardly and start organizing your approach and your
findings. Click here to register.
Next Thursday, March 27, we have Using DNA To Solve Family Mysteries
with the Genetic Genealogist blogger, Blaine Bettinger. He'll
Blaine has written on genetic genealogy for Family
Tree Magazine, and I have to say he's a very good explainer
of things—great at turning complicated genetic genealogy
information into concepts my brain can wrap itself around.
- understand more about genetic genealogy
- figure out
which test to take to solve which types of research problems
- how to interpret your test results
Click here to find out more and register.
Genealogy Apps | Genetic Genealogy | Webinars
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 1:37:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, March 17, 2014
Talking in German Genealogy, Digital Libraries & More in Our Free March Podcast
Posted by Diane
In the March
2014 free Family Tree Magazine podcast, host Lisa Louise Cooke talks
with German genealogy expert James M. Beidler about tracing
German-speaking ancestors. Jim shares tips from his new book, The
Family Tree German Genealogy Guide.
Podcast listeners also can tour of the Digital
Public Library of America (DPLA) website with DPLA executive
director Dan Cohen, and get tips on unpuzzling US county boundary
changes with Family Tree Magazine contributing editor David
Lisa also chats with Family Tree Magazine publisher Allison
Dolan and myself about solving genealogy research problems.
This Family Tree Magazine Podcast episode is sponsored by EpiGenealogy, a research
service for tracing family health history. Host Lisa Louise Cooke is
the founder of the Genealogy
Gems website and podcast.
You can listen in iTunes or on
Click here for show
notes, which include handy links to the websites mentioned.
↑ Grab this Headline Animator
Genealogy Web Sites | German roots | Research Tips
Monday, March 17, 2014 10:38:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, March 14, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, March 10-14
Posted by Diane
Orders for FamilySearch microfilm and microfiche numbered above
1,881,705 will be restricted for a two-week period in early April.
Half a million rolls of film plus numerous microfiche cabinets at
the Granite Mountain vault will be relocated into newly renovated
space. As a result, the Family History Library won't be able to
order the affected film and fiche. Film and fiche numbered below
1,881,705 can be ordered as usual. Read
the notice on the FamilySearch blog.
Planning research at the National Archives in Washington, DC, or
College Park, Md., in April? You might be able to plan your itinerary around
one of the archives' free genealogy programs, such as an
introduction to research in the archives' records (April 2),
nonpopulation censuses (April 16), tracing immigrants from the
West Indies (April 17), or a "Help! I'm Stuck" consultation (April
times and locations on the National Archives' website.
FamilySearch | Free Databases | NARA
Friday, March 14, 2014 1:34:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Genealogy Site Mocavo Lets You Try Gold Features FREE This Weekend
Posted by Diane
Genealogy website Mocavo is letting free Basic members try all the Mocavo Gold features for
free this weekend.
Gold-level benefits include searching across all Mocavo databases at
once (with the free Basic account, you can search one database at a time),
receiving "discovery alerts" when records match your uploaded tree,
downloading and printing documents, and more.
The free Mocavo Gold access period ends Sunday, March 16, at
midnight. You'll need to sign up for a free Basic membership to try out the Gold features. Read
more about this offer on the Mocavo blog.
Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, March 14, 2014 8:04:56 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Search Irish Wills Index Free on St. Patrick's Day
Posted by Diane
The Irish Origins website is making its Irish Wills Index
(1484-1858) free to search and access on St. Patrick's Day.
The index contains more than 102,000 names from records (original
documents, copies, transcripts, abstracts or extracts) at the
National Archives of Ireland.
Each index entry contains the name of the person leaving a will, or
being covered by a grant of probate or administration. It also
contains the person's address, sometimes an occupation, and the
place where the document was proved (i.e. a diocesan or the
Prerogative court). Almost half of the index entries name an
executor and that person's address.
The free period runs from March 17 at 12:01 a.m. to March 18 at 8
a.m. Greenwich Mean Time.
I used this Time
Zone Converter to figure out that in my local East Coast Time,
that's March 16 at 8:01 p.m. through March 18 at 4 a.m.
When the time comes, you
can search and access the Irish Wills Index 1484-1858 here.
The Irish Origins website also will take the opportunity to offer a 36 percent discount on its Irish Origins Monthly subscriptions, which let you access censuses, wills, directories, burials, marriages, electoral registers and more. Click here and use promotional code StPatrick2014.
Free Databases | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, March 13, 2014 11:14:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Free Irish Records on Ancestry.com Through St. Patrick's Day
Posted by Diane
Think you might be Irish every day of the year—not just on St.
Patrick's Day? To help you find out, subscription genealogy site
Ancestry.com has opened up its
collections of Irish records for free through March 17.
The free records include
Irish record collections here. You'll need to register for a
free Ancestry.com account (or log into your free account) to take
advantage of this offer. The free period ends Monday, March 17 at
11:59 p.m. ET.
- church and civil indexes to Irish births and baptisms,
marriages, and deaths (these are from FamilySearch)
- the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses
- Catholic sacramental registers
- Quebec vital and church records from the Drouin collection
- Griffith's Valuation
- New York Emigrant Savings Bank records
- Irish Canadian emigration records
Ancestry.com also is offering its
AncestryDNA test, which can break out your Irish ancestry from
the rest of the UK to show you where your roots might lie, for $89 (10 percent off).
Get help finding your ancestors on Ancestry.com in Family Tree
to Maximize Ancestry.com One-Week Workshop, starting March 21.
Learn more about it here.
Also see our four tips for discovering ancestors in Ireland on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
Ancestry.com | Free Databases | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, March 13, 2014 8:01:09 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
MyHeritage Employees Digitize a Cemetery to Kick Off Global Initiative
Posted by Diane
To kick off its global initiative to digitize cemeteries, a partnership
with the BillionGraves website and app, MyHeritage mobilized
80 employees at its headquarters in Israel to photograph an entire
cemetery's worth of gravestones—51,754
images in all.
The employees used the BillionGraves app to digitize and upload
stones in Sgula
Cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel. It's one of the country's
oldest cemeteries, established in 1888.
The images of the stones, inscribed in Hebrew, are available
for transcription on BillionGraves.com.
You can read
more about this project and see photos on the MyHeritage blog.
Cemeteries | MyHeritage
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:20:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
US National Archives to Close Three Facilities
Posted by Diane
The US National Archives and Records Administration will close three facilities over the next two years as part of
ongoing budget adjustments, according to a
statement by Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero.
The three closures are:
All employees at the affected facilities will have the option to
continue working with the National Archives, with relocation
expenses paid for workers at the Anchorage location.
These moves will save the archives about $1.3 million annually.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 8:57:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, March 07, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, March 3-7
Posted by Diane
- Family Curator Denise
Levenick has opened the application process for the 2014 Susan
Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant. The $500 award is
given in honor of Levenick's mother to a student genealogist between
the ages of 18 and 25. The recipient will also recieve a
complimentary registration to the 2014 Southern California
Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, Calif., and must attend to
receive the reward. The application deadline is March 31 at
more and download application forms here.
The National Genealogical Society will live stream 10 lectures from
the 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Va. You can purchase
"admission" to the lectures, grouped in two tracks of five each,
which includes viewing of the live streamed event plus three months
of access to watch the recorded sessions again. Learn
more on the conference website.
The Library of Michigan will add "Second Saturdays" to its regular
scheduled open hours during the week. Beginning April 12, the
library will be open the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. The library also is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to
5 p.m. See
more information in the library's announcement.
The National Archives building in Washington, DC, will feature a new
exhibit, "Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures," March 21
through Jan. 5 of next year. It will feature original signatures
from documents at the archives, and the stories behind them. You can
take a peek
at the exhibit on the National Archives Museum website.
Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives | NARA
Friday, March 07, 2014 12:40:35 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Sliding Around: Ancestry.com Rolls Out New Sliders to Edit Search Results
Posted by Diane
Genealogists are starting to see Ancestry.com's the new "slider"
feature on its search results pages, which the company is rolling
out to members as a way to quickly broaden or narrow search results.
I ran a search as normal for my great-great-grandfather Henrich
Seeger, who was born in 1852 in Germany, and lived in Cincinnati.
Here's what the sliders on my search results page looked like:
Once you've been upgraded, you'll see up to four types of sliders in
your search results:
If you don't enter one of these terms, such as a birth, you won't
see a slider for that term.
- First and last names of the person being searched
- Birth and death dates and places
- One "Any Event" fact (such as Lived in, Marriage or Military)
- One residence location
Dragging the sliders adjusts the filters applied to your search terms.
The further right you drag each filter, the narrower your
search. In the rightmost position, the slider sets the associated
search term to Exact.
As you drag the slider, a little pop-up window tells you how narrow
that search term is. For example, when I dragged the Birth date
slider two spots to the right, a window popped up to tell me the
filter was set at +/-5 years (which would find records with birth
dates between 1847 and 1857). Had I gone all the way right, the popup would say "Exact."
Then you would click Update to apply the new filter.
You also can click the Edit Search link to bring up the Advanced
Search screen (I cropped it in this screenshot), so you can adjust your filters manually:
The advantage of using the sliders is that it's supposedly faster
and easier—you don't have to take the step of opening the Edit Search
screen to adjust filters. I also see how the visual the sliders provide could help users understand how filters narrow or broaden a search.
I'll probably still use the Edit Search window over the sliders. It's just as fast and easy for me, and I like to see all the
search options laid out. For me, the sliders aren't a big
improvement, they're just another way of doing things, although I do
think they visually clutter the screen.
On the other hand, I showed this new feature to my husband, who
doesn't ordinarily use Ancestry.com but does appreciate the pursuit
of genealogy, and he thinks the sliders are cool.
can read Ancestry.com's post about the sliders here.
This update is being coupled with limiting access to the "Old
Search" experience, which Ancestry.com
announced last June would happen. I'm seeing a fair amount
of upset among Old Search fans on social media, for example, in this post from the West in New England blog.
Ancestry.com says it is enhancing the "Category Exact" mode,
which is intended to simulate the Old Search experience. See
instructions for using Category Exact to simulate Old Search in
Ancestry.com's Help Center.
Get help working with these changes and finding your ancestors on Ancestry.com in Family Tree University's How to Maximize Ancestry.com One-Week Workshop, starting March 21. Learn more about it here.
Friday, March 07, 2014 10:00:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Ancestry.com Releases Find A Grave Mobile App for iOS
Posted by Diane
Ancestry.com has released its free Find A Grave mobile app for iOS7,
which lets you search the Find A Grave online cemtery database from
your iPhone or iPad, as well as upload gravestone images and
information to Find A Grave. The app also lets you request photos of
gravestones from Find A Grave volunteers, and fill others' requests.
Here's where you can
find a description of the app's features.
You also might get some of your questions answered by reading
Ancestry.com's blog post and the comments, many of which come
from people who've used the app.
You can download
the Find A Grave app for iOS7 in the Apple App Store.
Before you ask—Ancestry.com is working on an Android version, and
does not say when it will become available. I have an Android phone,
too, so I feel your pain.
acquired the Find A Grave website last year, with a promise to
keep it free and invest resources in improving the site. Producing
a mobile app was among the first items on its to-do list.
Ancestry.com | Cemeteries | Genealogy Apps
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 1:47:04 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
FamilySearch, WorldCat Partnership Helps Genealogy Researchers
Posted by Diane
last year about efforts by FamilySearch
and WorldCat (the site that
lets you search holdings of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide) to
share holdings information so you can get results from either site
by searching the other.
Now you can see the fruits of those efforts: According
to the OCLC, which runs WorldCat, WorldCat now has links to
more than a million items in FamilySearch's Family History Library
(FHL) in Salt Lake City. FamilySearch.org now links to catalog
records in WorldCat.
That's great because it saves you time running searches on both
sites, and gives you more options for accessing genealogical
For example, on WorldCat, I searched for the subject Ohio
genealogy. My search results included the book Ohio Valley
genealogies: relating chiefly to families in Harrison, Belmont and
Jefferson Counties, Ohio, and Washington, Westmoreland, and
Fayette Counties, Pennsylvania.
The FHL (highlighted) was among the holding libraries, as were several local FamilySearch Center libraries. They were near the end of my list, which was ordered by distance from my location.
The listings showed that the FHL held the printed version plus "1
other formats." Clicking on that bit of information brought up a
popup window stating that other format is microform, which I could
borrow through a FamilySearch Center near me (printed books don't
circulate out of the FHL).
When I clicked the Family History Library link, I ended up on the
FamilySearch catalog page for this book, except it was the old
version of the catalog. The catalog links to digital versions
of the material if they exist on the FamilySearch.org website.
When a match to your FamilySearch Catalog search is also in the
WorldCat catalog, the FamilySearch listing will have a link to the
catalog listing at WorldCat (highlighted below).
This could help you get your hands on the item if WorldCat tells you
that a library closer to you has it, or if it's a printed book you
can't get without visiting the FHL.
FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 1:20:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Ways to Make Evernote Even Better for Genealogy
Posted by Diane
The free Evernote, which scores of genealogists have started using
to organize their family history research and iron out their workflow, is usually
described as an "online note-taking and web-clipping program you can
access from any device."
That's true, but it's not the whole picture. In our Making
Evernote Effortless webinar on March 20, Lisa Louise Cooke will
describe some of the lesser-known ways you can up your
In my quest to demonstrate there's a lot more to Evernote, I went
looking for often-overlooked features a genealogist might
find helpful. Here's just a handful:
attached documents with Evernote’s optical character
recognition capability, which converts images of printed
documents into searchable text.
Lisa Louise Cooke is an expert on using Evernote
for genealogy. In the Making
Evernote Effortless Webinar, she'll share lesser-known
Evernote tricks and her favorite work-with-Evernote apps for organizing her genealogy research
and streamlining her workflow. You
can learn more about the webinar and sign up here.
- Use apps that work with Evernote to: draw notes on photos (Skitch), connect your
Evernote and Gmail accounts (Powerbot for Gmail),
connect your Evernote and Feedly
easily clip web pages on your iPhone or iPad (Everclip), start typing a
note on your iPhone or iPad whenever the mood strikes and then
send it to Evernote or another service (Drafts), and more. (I haven't tried all these apps, but I wanted to let you
know they're out there.)
Genealogy Apps | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 11:30:46 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)