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More Links

# Friday, 28 March 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 here.

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 in photos).

Canadian roots | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 28 March 2014 10:24:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 27 March 2014
Findmypast to Digitize 1939 Register of England and Wales
Posted by Diane 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 name.

The 1.2 million digital images in the 1939 Register collection will become searchable on 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 been authenticated.

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, 27 March 2014 09:52:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 25 March 2014
What Does Your Last Name Mean? How to Find Out
Posted by Diane

Our Unpuzzling 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 Wikipedia page.
  • Seeger: I looked up this name, which comes from my German ancestor H.A. Seeger, in the last name search on, 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 name Sigiheri." 
  • Norris: 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 hair."
  • 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 woodland." 
  • 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

The Unpuzzling 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 | German roots | Research Tips
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 14:57:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 18 March 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 our Finding 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 more. 
  • 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 marriage record.

  • Early divorces often had to be approved by state legislatures; look for these records in legislative records (usually at a state archive).

  • 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 middle name.
  • One chatter reminded us not to assume that someone listed by initials in a record (such as M.A. Smith) is male.
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 earned.

PS: Here's where you can find out about our Fall 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference, happening Sept. 19-21.

Female ancestors | Research Tips | Sales
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 15:31:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
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
  • creating source citations in Evernote
  • accessing your Evernote notes faster with tools like shortcuts and quick keys
  • setting reminders
  • 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 help you
  • understand more about genetic genealogy
  • figure out which test to take to solve which types of research problems
  • how to interpret your test results
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.

Click here to find out more and register.

Genealogy Apps | Genetic Genealogy | Webinars
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 13:37:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 17 March 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 A. Fryxell.

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.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

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Genealogy Web Sites | German roots | Research Tips
Monday, 17 March 2014 10:38:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 14 March 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 26). Find times and locations on the National Archives' website.

FamilySearch | Free Databases | NARA
Friday, 14 March 2014 13:34:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
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, 14 March 2014 08:04:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 13 March 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, 13 March 2014 11:14:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Free Irish Records on 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 has opened up its collections of Irish records for free through March 17.

The free records include
  • 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
Search the Irish record collections here. You'll need to register for a free 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. 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 in Family Tree University's How to Maximize One-Week Workshop, starting March 21. Learn more about it here.

Also see our four tips for discovering ancestors in Ireland on | Free Databases | UK and Irish roots
Thursday, 13 March 2014 08:01:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 12 March 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

You can read more about this project and see photos on the MyHeritage blog.

Cemeteries | MyHeritage
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 11:20:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
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, 12 March 2014 08:57:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 07 March 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 midnight; learn 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, 07 March 2014 12:40:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Sliding Around: Rolls Out New Sliders to Edit Search Results
Posted by Diane

Genealogists are starting to see'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:
  • 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
If you don't enter one of these terms, such as a birth, you won't see a slider for that term.

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 but does appreciate the pursuit of genealogy, and he thinks the sliders are cool.

You can read's post about the sliders here.

This update is being coupled with limiting access to the "Old Search" experience, which 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. 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's Help Center.

Get help working with these changes and finding your ancestors on in Family Tree University's How to Maximize One-Week Workshop, starting March 21. Learn more about it here.
Friday, 07 March 2014 10:00:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 05 March 2014 Releases Find A Grave Mobile App for iOS
Posted by Diane 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'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— 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. | Cemeteries | Genealogy Apps
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 13:47:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
FamilySearch, WorldCat Partnership Helps Genealogy Researchers
Posted by Diane

We blogged 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. 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 information.

Searching WorldCat
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 website.

Searching FamilySearch
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, 05 March 2014 13:20:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
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 Evernote efficiency.

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:
  • Search attached documents with Evernote’s optical character recognition capability, which converts images of printed documents into searchable text.
  • Link notes to keep related information together.
  • 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 accounts (IFFFT), 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.)
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.

Genealogy Apps | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 11:30:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]