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# Thursday, August 28, 2014
Ancestry.com Free Access Weekend Through Sept. 1
Posted by Diane

ancestry.com free access weekend

We hear that subscription genealogy website Ancestry.com is having a free access weekend!

You can search and view a billion new genealogy records from 67 countries around the world, from now through Sept. 1 at 11:59 p.m. ET. You’ll need to register for a free basic Ancestry.com account (if you don’t already have one) to view records.


Ancestry.com
Thursday, August 28, 2014 1:20:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Registration Opens for FGS 2015 Conference Feb. 11-14 in Salt Lake City
Posted by Diane

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), whose 2014 annual conference is going on now in San Antonio, just opened registration for the 2015 FGS conference.

What's special about the FGS 2015 conference, and the reason that registration is already open, is that it'll be held in conjunction with FamilySearch's 2015 RootsTech conference Feb. 11-14 in Salt Lake City. 

The two conferences will have joint general sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings, and will share an exhibit hall. They'll have separate classes. See the FGS 2015 program here.

You can take advantage of a special early bird registration fee for FGS 2015 of $139, which expires Sept. 12. Add on a pass to the RootsTech conference for $39.

Separate Rootstech registration will open Aug. 29.


Genealogy Events
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 10:53:50 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Interview With "Who Do You Think You Are?" Producer Dan Bucatinsky
Posted by Diane

I had the chance recently to interview Dan Bucatinsky, coproducer (with Lisa Kudrow) of TLC's "Who Do You Think You Are?"


Is or Isn't Entertainment

We talked about why the show researches celebrities instead of average-Joe genealogists, how casting and filming happen, and his wish list. My questions were inspired by comments we've heard from many of you on social media, by my own impressions of the show, and by the conversation.

You can listen to the whole thing by clicking here, and/or you can read the synopsis below. If you listen, know a few things first:

  • It's about a half hour, so get comfy.

  • You can barely hear me ask my questions (stupid recording device) (it’s probably something I did), but Bucatinsky comes through loud and clear, so I don't think that harms what you can learn about the show. I hate my voice in recordings anyway.

  • His kids run into the room about halfway through, which I thought was cute (much more so than when my kids do this to me).

  • You can tell this was just after the Jesse Tyler Ferguson episode, because he talks about the upcoming shows with the McAdamses, Valerie Bertinelli and Kelsey Grammer. Yes, it took me awhile to get this together for you.

If you can’t listen, or you just want to know what you’re in for, here’s the gist:

Why profile just celebrities?
The comment/question we at Family Tree Magazine most often hear about "Who Do You Think You Are?" is "Why doesn't the show trace the roots of someone who isn't famous?" ("Like me?" is usually implied.) So I asked.

Basically, the explanation is what I thought it would be: In order to stay on TV, the show needs to attract a general audience—not just a genealogical one. To do that, it needs the celebrity "hook."

While the show certainly is meant to inspire, Bucatinsky says, "There is a reality about television ... in order to get the high volume of viewership on any network or any website, you need to find a very, very high level of public interest, one that crosses many circles of demographics."

"The casting process is extremely intense, and if we didn't have the well-known ‘tour guides,’ we would have probably a very difficult time getting people to engage, even though it doesn't mean the stories would be any less interesting. Even if you get maybe 100,000 people who are interested in genealogy, which is a big number, it's not a big number for television."

He said the producers’ ratings research bears out this statement: The higher the profile of the celebrity featured, the higher the ratings numbers.

How are the celebrities selected?
Casting the celebrity guests can be surprisingly difficult. In the first couple of years, Bucatinsky and Kudrow reached out to people they knew personally. Now that word is out in celebrity circles, stars' representatives tell producers they're willing to participate, and they go on a list.

"Any celebrity who has done the show has raved about their experience on it," Bucatinsky says.

But that’s not all: Although it’s hard to tell when research begins where an ancestral story will go, producers aim for variety. TLC gets a say, too. “One thing we do, when we have control over it, is try to create as much diversity as possible,” Bucatinsky says. “We'll try to see if the preliminary research makes the story feel like it will be diverse. We get approval from the network ... [the talent] has to coincide with what they know their viewership wants to see.” 

The guest’s schedule also has to mesh with the show’s production schedule. “I can't even imagine another show that's as complicated to produce. The Rubik's cube of getting the talent approved, getting a story that actually feels like it's gonna break and be interesting enough to shoot, and getting a celebrity's schedule to tie in with our production schedule and the release dates is—I can't begin to tell you how complicated it is.”

How was the transition to TLC?
I also asked Bucatinsky about the show’s move from NBC to TLC before last season, and whether he feels it fits on a network that’s also home to shows like "Honey Boo Boo." (No offense to "Honey Boo Boo" fans out there—it's just a different kind of show from "Who Do You Think You Are?")

He thinks family history has a broad enough appeal that “Who Do You Think You Are?” is interesting to a range of audiences. "We certainly had our trepidation about 'hmm, I wonder if the audience for those shows is the same as our audience?' But there's no question there's a very wide audience for ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’” 

He added that TLC has been supportive of the show, and hasn’t asked for changes in the formula.

What’s the most popular kind of story?
I’ve seen a lot of “types” of “Who Do You Think You Are?” episodes. Some focus on one ancestor; some cover two or more. Some stay in the United States; some globe-trot. I like stories that stick with one person, but others might think that slows the pace too much. I wondered which approach is most popular with viewers. 

All of the above, Bucatinsky says. It’s the emotional connection that matters. "I feel like we've had really good success with stories where there's an emotional tie to the protagonist. Christina Applegate's episode last season was quite popular. It was partly because Christina herself has a wide audience, and partly because she was making the journey for her father, who never really knew his mother. And to come to so many amazing conclusions about his mother, and be able to bring her father to the gravesite of his mother—it’s hugely cathartic stuff. "

“I love an episode that really is emotional and bring insight into somebody's grandparents, who they remember as a kid but didn't know anything about," he adds. "And I also love the stories that take you back and you don't even realize that you had relatives that are part of the Mayflower or the Civil War or the Gold Rush—things you only learn about in history books, and the context makes it much more relevant.” 

“It's some combination of the popularity of the celebrity and the strength of the story.” He also pointed out that how engaged the celebrity guest is plays a role.

Are the celebrity guests coached to do or say certain things?
Sometimes, I think, the celebrity seems to ask just the right question to segue into the surprise discovery—almost as if the person was told what to say. That's not the case, says Bucatinsky. "They may be prodded to find the information that we need them to find. We know that they need to hit a page of a particular document that they're wearing gloves to look at, so they will get guided to it, but the discovery itself is always organic and authentic. There's very little coaching in the moment.” 

The celebrity doesn’t know what he’ll find or where he’s going next, but the archivists usually does. "Our archivist is someone who we've spoken to and found out information from ... they're there ready to meet our celebrity, and when the celebrity arrives, they will never have met before. ... Every bit of it that films our subject is filmed originally and in the order of the journey. It's not rehearsed. It's a documentary."

How long does it take to film an episode?
“A whole journey would be anywhere between 8 and 23 days, but that includes travel days,” Bucatinsky says. “We've had episodes that could probably have made really good two-hour episodes. We try to do the best we can. If we think the season's going to wind up on DVD, we'll put the scenes [there].”

Interestingly, an entire story line from Gwenyth Paltrow's episode didn't even make it on the show.

Who’s your dream guest? (and other things he’d love to do with the show)
“I don't really focus on the person, I focus on plans and stories that we haven't told before. I really want to tell a Latin American story.” (His family is from Argentina.) 

“We haven't been to Asia, and it looks as though we're going to this season,” he added. (Although the season finale is tonight, with Minnie Driver, and they stay in England. Did I miss a trip to Asia?)

Although it seemed like he was going to evade the question, he later added, “If one of the Obamas wanted to do it, that would be dreamy.”

I also asked about the possibility of a follow-up show that would tie up some of the loose ends—such as what happened to the former spouses of Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s great-grandfather. Bucatinsky mentioned the scheduling difficulties as an obstacle, but added, “What I would want to try to do down the line is just start with one: One person who wants to come back and revisit a story and see how it goes. There are other stories to be explored, and it would be fun to have someone that people love come back.”

You can listen to my interview with “Who Do You Think You Are?” co-producer Dan Bucantinsky here

Want to hear more? Here are a couple of Bucatinsy's interviews with other bloggers:


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy TV
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 3:06:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, August 25, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Season Finale: Minnie Driver Traces English Roots
Posted by Diane

This week's season finale of TLC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" features English actor Minnie Driver (fun fact—her real name is Amelia Fiona).


Photo: TLC

Driver was on the British "Who Do You Think You Are?" (which inspired the US version); I imagine this is the same show, perhaps re-edited. (You can see a clip from the BBC show here.)

If you're hoping for a look at 20th-century English research, you're in luck. Driver will learn about her father's career in the Royal Air Force during World War II, of which he hardly spoke. She researches back to his parents, and then forward to discover a relative who becomes the first paternal relative she's ever met. 

Among places viewers will visit are the Royal Air Force Museum, Rockside Hall (once a Royal Air Force psychiatric hospital), and several local libraries.

Watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" at 9/8 Central on TLC. Past episodes are available on the TLC website.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Monday, August 25, 2014 4:45:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 22, 2014
Smithsonian Launches Website to Crowdsource Old Document Transcriptions
Posted by Diane



The Smithsonian Institution has joined the crowdsourcing revolution: It launched a Transcription Center website where volunteers can help transcribe thousands of document images, such as Civil War diaries, letters from artists Mary Cassatt and Grandma Moses, and old American currency.

Over the past year, nearly 1,000 volunteers participated in a beta test of documents in high demand by researchers, resulting in about 13,000 pages of transcriptions. 

According to the Smithsonian’s press release, “In one instance—transcribing the personal correspondence of members of the Monuments Men held in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art collection—49 volunteers finished the 200-page project in just one week.”

A Reddit community devoted to the Applachian Trail transcribed the 121-page digitized diary of Earl Shaffer, the first man to hike the entire length of the trail. Hiking enthusiasts, naturalists and other researchers now can search the digital version, helping to preserve access while protecting the fragile original.

Another volunteer reviews each completed transcription before it’s certified by a Smithsonian expert. To participate, register here and click Tips for quick instructions. You can choose a project by theme (such as American Experience or Civil War Era) or by contributing repository.


Museums | Social Networking
Friday, August 22, 2014 11:11:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral: August 17-22
Posted by Diane

  • To celebrate back-to-school season, genealogy website Mocavo—one of our 101 Best Websites for genealogy—is offering free access to its universal search of all databases at once this weekend, Aug. 22-24. (Normally on Mocavo, you can search one database at a time for free, but you need a subscription to search multiple databases at once.) You'll need to create a free basic Mocavo account to use the open access offer, and it ends Sunday, Aug. 24 at 11 p.m. Eastern. You'll find more details on the Mocavo blog.
  • Findmypast.com has launched a Hall of Heroes campaign to help you share stories about heroic figures in your family history—whether their deeds have been officially recognized in some way, or are known only to you. You can submit your family hero's story and describe records where you found the information, and read about other heroes documented in the site's collections. Browse the Hall of Heroes website here.
  • Registration opens Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. Eastern for the 2015 Forensic Genealogy Institute. The event itself takes place March 26-28 next year in Dallas; find a course description here. Forensic genealogy is a profession involving genealogy research and reporting in cases with legal implications (such as heirship), and the institute is intended for those wanting to develop their skills in the forensic genealogy field.


FamilySearch | findmypast | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, August 22, 2014 10:01:41 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 21, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?" With Kelsey Grammer: Genealogy Sources for Tracing Pioneer Roots
Posted by Diane

I mentioned in yesterday's post that the pioneer era is one of my favorite eras of history to learn about. Maybe it comes from my childhood love of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" book series.

So I especially appreciated the second part of last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?", when Kelsey Grammer drove to Baker City in eastern Oregon to walk in ruts left by thousands of covered wagons crossing the high desert on their way to Oregon's Willamette Valley. It's fascinating to me that the ruts are still there.



Grammer's third-great-grandparents Joseph and Comfort Dimmick, along with their many children and other relatives, followed the trail from their homes in the Midwest to land near Salem, Oregon, that they received under the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850.

Grammer read from a pioneer diary the Dimmicks' nephew kept during the journey. It described how the oldest Dimmick son drank contaminated water from a creek and died of cholera, one of the most common diseases trail migrants suffered. He was buried alone along the trail.

There's no single comprehensive list of westward pioneers. WDYTYA historians were tipped off to Grammer's pioneer ancestry because of the time period and birthplaces in census records: A family that lived in Oregon before railways reached the area had parents and older children born in the Midwest.

Do you have pioneer roots? Here are some resources for tracing them, from Family Tree Magazine's guide 7 Tips for Researching Pioneer Heritage:
You'll find help using these and other pioneer research resources in our downloadable 7 Tips for Researching Pioneer Heritage, available in ShopFamilyTree.com.

You can watch the full episode on the "Who Do You Think You Are?" website.



"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Research Tips
Thursday, August 21, 2014 10:23:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Kelsey Grammer Discovers Pioneer Roots This Week on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Posted by Diane

Tomorrow on "Who Do You Think You Are?" Kelsey Grammer, Frazier Crane from "Cheers" and "Frazier," learns about the early life of the grandmother who raised him. One of the mysteries that'll be revealed on the show is why his grandmother wasn't raised by her parents, either.

Grammer also discovers that his third-great-grandparents traveled the Oregon Trail with their 12 children. The pioneer era is one of my favorite periods of history to read about, so I'm especially looking forward to that part of the episode. (And 12 children? Could you imagine? Just driving a few hours with my two kids in the car is enough to make me swear off road trips.)

Plus, the show stops in Portland, Ore., where I used to live, and the Genealogical Forum of Oregon, where I've visited. I enjoy seeing places I recognize.

Here's a preview clip for you:



"Who Do You Think You Are?" airs Wednesdays at 9/8 Central on TLC. And now you can watch full episodes of this season on the "Who Do You Think You Are?" website.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 3:33:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Research Australian Genealogy Records Free on MyHeritage
Posted by Diane



Those researching in Australia, here's an offer for you: Genealogy website MyHeritage is celebrating Australian National Family History Month in August by granting free access to many of its Australian records collections through this Friday, Aug. 22. You'll need to set up a free MyHeritage account (or log in, if you already have one).

That includes Australian birth, marriage and death records, electoral rolls, school records and more. You can start searching MyHeritage Australian records here.

Even if you don't have ancestors Down Under, you might have cousins there if relatives migrated to Britain's Australian colonies.

Read the MyHeritage announcement about the records offer here.

For help searching MyHeritage, check out Family Tree Magazine's MyHeritage Web Guide, available in ShopFamilyTree.com.

MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 1:25:02 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Ancestry.com Won't Retire MyCanvas After All
Posted by Diane

Good news for users of the MyCanvas photo book service (including me—I used it to create my wedding album), which owners Ancestry.com had planned to retire in September.

Ancestry.com just announced that instead of discontinuing MyCanvas, it will transfer the site to Alexander's, the Utah-based printing production company that already handled the printing of MyCanvas photo books, posters, calendars and other products.

Eric Shoup, executive VP of product at Ancestry.com, wrote on the Ancestry.com blog that the transfer, which will take about six months, should be a smooth one for MyCanvas users. Users' projects will remain available on Ancestry.com until the site moves over to Alexander's. More details will be available as the transition moves ahead.


Ancestry.com | Photos | saving and sharing family history
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 11:13:25 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, August 14, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Valerie Bertinelli Discovers a Coat of Arms, Explores Italian Roots
Posted by Diane



In last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" actor Valerie Bertinelli travels to Italy and learns her great-grandmother immigrated with two small children after her husband died—an unusual action for a woman at the time.

Then, seeking equally enlightening stories to share with her mom, she visits England and is presented with a family tree showing a long line of Claypooles.

At the beginning, Bertinelli says her son wants to know if the family has a crest—so you just knew the answer would be yes. And it was: At the College of Arms in London, she learns that her eighth-great-grandfather, who was born a yeoman and improved his family's circumstances, received a coat of arms.

Bertinelli also learned that her 19th-great-grandfather is King Edward I aka "Edward Longshanks" of England, who reigned form 1272 to 1307.

Coats of arms can be a sensitive subject in genealogy circles, surrounded by myths that help to propel the sale of fake family crest products. Pity the unsuspecting person who boasts about his family crest within earshot of a genealogist. Why?

Being of the same surname as someone who has a coat of arms—or even being a bona-fide member of the person's family—doesn't necessarily mean that you also have a coat of arms. There are a few little-known rules to go along with heraldry:
  • Coats of arms aren't granted to families. Instead, they're granted to individuals. Arms can, however, be inherited. 
  • Anyone whose uninterrupted male-line immigrant ancestor was entitled to use a coat of arms, also has the right to use this same coat of arms. If the uninterrupted male-line immigrant ancestor has no such right, then neither does the descendant. (Bertinelli described the "Claypool Coat of Arms" to her mom, so it sounds like she knew this rule.)

What an impressive pedigree to take home to Mom!

Going back to the Italian side of things: I can't let you go without letting you know about our Best Resources for Tracing Your Italian Roots video class with Melanie D. Holtz. You'll learn what genealogical records exist for Italian ancestors, where to find them, and the best resources to investigate your Italian ancestry.

You also can read Melanie's Italian research guide in the forthcoming October/November 2014 Family Tree Magazine. In the mean time, here's a head start for finding relatives' Italian military records.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, August 14, 2014 2:07:18 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Top Tech Tools for Genealogists: WorldCat for Library Research
Posted by Diane

The things genealogists can do with smartphone apps and online tools these days are amazing—and overwhelming. In our Aug. 21 webinar 10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can't Live Without, Lisa Louise Cooke recommends tools and apps to take care of the essential functions a genealogist needs: Online backups, file sharing, consuming online content (aka reading blogs, listening to podcasts, watching videos, etc.), remote access on your mobile devices, library searching, note taking, etc.

She'll also show you how to get started with the recommended tools. (I especially love that. For me, the getting-started hump will sometimes keep me from trying a new app or tool.)

In this post, I'll highlight one of the tools on Lisa's list: WorldCat for library searching.

The library in the town where your ancestors lived is a great place to start your research, but you'll also want to explore the collections of historical societies, state libraries and archives, large genealogical libraries, university libraries and more. WorldCat makes it easier to search all these types of libraries by giving you access to search the catalogs of 72,000 repositories in 170 countries and territories. No need to search catalogs on a hundred different library websites.

I tried it just now, searching for German immigrants Cincinnati, and found a few books to add to my to-do list, including this one:



My Cincinnati German ancestors settled here mostly in the early to mid 19th century. So far, all but one line originate near the Osnabruck area in Lower Saxony or Westphalia. From its description (which you find when you scroll down), this book could provide insight into what motivated my family to emigrate, what the journey was like, and where in the United States other emigrants from that area settled.

WorldCat also tells you which libraries hold each item, in order of proximity to your location.

The 10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can't Live Without webinar, presented by Lisa Louise Cooke, is Thursday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. ET (that's 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT and 4 p.m. PT). As with all our webinars, participants get access to watch the video again whenever they want, plus a PDF of the presentation slides. Register on ShopFamilyTree.com.

Libraries and Archives | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:40:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, August 08, 2014
Genealogy News Corral:August 4-8
Posted by Diane

  • Kids getting ready to go back to school also means the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) annual conference is nearly here. The 2014 genealogy confab is Aug. 27-30 in San Antonio, Texas, and Family Tree Magazine will be there in booth 2019 with free issues plus books, CDs, cheat sheets and subscriptions for sale. I hope to see you there!


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, August 08, 2014 10:48:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, August 07, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?": The McAdams Sisters Trace Roots in England and Canada
Posted by Diane



Last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" followed sisters Rachel and Kayleen McAdams (respectively, an actor and makeup artist to the stars) to England and then to Canada as they learned the stories of ancestors on their mother's side of the family.

A few of the things that hit home in this episode:
  • As one with two sisters close to my age, I liked that aspect of this episode. And many genealogists would give up their Ancestry.com subscriptions for a sibling, or a cousin, or anyone, to share their intense interest in family history.
  • The sisters initially disagreed on their English great-grandfather's job in the Royal service: pilot or mechanic? (They learned that "mechanic" is the more accurate description.) This shows how everybody remembers things a little differently, so it's helpful to interview multiple relatives—even those from the same generation—about your family history. 
  • The sisters traveled to two places where their ancestors lived: The upper-class home in England where their third-great-grandfather (I think—sometimes I lose track of the greats) William Gale served as footman (the top male servant in the household), and the site of the refugee camp in Quebec where their fifth-great-grandmother was quartered, along with other British Loyalists who'd fled the United States, during the American Revolution.

    Awhile back, I had the chance to interview Ian Frazier, the author of Family, one of my favorite books. He talked about how, when you're trying to understand your ancestors' experiences, it's important to get as close as possible to the places where they lived. You can't always visit your ancestral hometown, but you can read about it, find newspaper and other accounts from the time, look at old photos and maps, and talk to experts on the area's history. (Sunny Morton wrote a great guide to "visiting" ancestral locales without leaving home in the August 2010 Family Tree Magazine.)
Around 8,000 loyalists from the American colonies relocated to Canada after the war. If you're researching one of these Loyalists, you can find the Archives of Ontario's United Empire Loyalist research guide here.

There's also a United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, as well as a Black Loyalist Heritage Society dedicated to the African-American Loyalists who settled in Nova Scotia in the 1780s.

And if you're tracing British roots, you might be able to use our roundup of online resources for  English and Welsh civil registrations, like the marriage record the McAdamses viewed at the Plymouth Central Library in England.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, August 07, 2014 10:57:16 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 06, 2014
New, Free Website Has Millions of World War I Prisoner of War Records
Posted by Diane

Documents about millions of soldiers and civilians captured during World War I are now available free on the Prisoners of the First World War website, created by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Eight million soldiers and 2 million civilians were sent to detention camps during the war. The combatants would periodically submit lists of prisoners to the ICRC's International Prisoners of War Agency, established in 1914. The agency received documents recording prisoners' names, capture, transfers between camps, and deaths while detained.

Staff made an index card for each prisoner, with references to records about that person, and filed the cards by nationality and military or civilian status. Here's one for Albert Smith, a British soldier, giving his date of capture, rank and unit:



It also indexed relatives' correspondence—since destroyed—requesting information on their captured loved ones. Part of the ICRC's mission was to help prisoners find their families after the war. Here's a correspondence index card for Albert, with information about him (including his birth date and place), the person who inquired about him with a home address, and his transfer between prisons:



According to the ICRC, 90 percent of the 5 million cards on prisoners and 500,000 pages of records associated with these cards are now searchable on the Prisoners of the First World War website.

You can search for names with the person's nationality (British and Commonwealth, French or Belgian, Romanian, German, American, etc.) and military or civilian status.  If you find a relative's card, hover over it to click a link for "More information about this person." Then you'll be able to enter one of the reference numbers on the card to see the associated document, or click a link for help reading the card.

When I selected the letter code PA and typed the 35004 that appeared on Albert's card, I saw this prisoners list (he's at the bottom):



The site also has examples of index cards (click the link in the site's navigation bar), prison camp information and postcards, and ICRC correspondence.

Researching an ancestor (male or female) who fought or volunteered in the Great War? See the July/August 2014 Family Tree Magazine for more top World War I genealogy websites and resources.


Free Databases | Military records | World War One Genealogy
Wednesday, August 06, 2014 12:25:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, August 05, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Preview: Rachel and Kayleen McAdams
Posted by Diane

On tomorrow night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" sisters Rachel and Kayleen McAdams search together for their family history.

They explore their maternal roots, about which their mother knows little. They follow ancestors on both their grandfather's and grandmother's sides, a departure from the first two episodes focusing on one ancestor's story. They'll also delve into Canadian research, with visits to archives in Quebec, Ottawa and Ontario.

In this preview, the McAdams sisters meet in Ottawa with genealogist Joseph Schumway, who's put together a tree showing their mother's maternal family line in Canada.



You can watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 9/8 Central on TLC.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Tuesday, August 05, 2014 3:11:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 01, 2014
AncestryDNA Improves Cousin Matching
Posted by Diane

AncestryDNA customers will soon see better cousin matches to their genetic genealogy test results.

All AncestryDNA customers to some extent, but especially Jewish and Hispanic customers, have been getting false cousin matches. Matches for Jewish and Hispanic testers seemingly would indicate they're cousins with everyone else of the same ethnicity.

In today's announcement, Ancestry.com's DNA team explains why these false matches can happen. All humans are genetically 99 percent identical, so there are two reasons that two people might have identical DNA:
  • IDB: the DNA is Identical By Descent, meaning the two people it belongs to are related
  • IDS: the DNA is Identical By State, indicating that the two people it belongs to are simply of the same ethnicity or are both human
Apparently it can be difficult it can be to tease out the DNA segments that are IDB from those that are IDS, but AncestryDNA has developed a new way to analyze results that can tell the difference.

In the coming months, according to the release, "all customers will see increased accuracy of their DNA matches, and significantly fewer 'false' matches." Existing customers will receive an email when their new matches are ready.

Read more about AncestryDNA's improved cousin matching feature on the Ancestry.com blog.


Ancestry.com | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, August 01, 2014 2:01:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Genealogy News Corral: July 28-August 1
Posted by Diane

  • Wholly Genes software owner Bob Velke has announced that The Master Genealogist software will be discontinued. In the company's July 29 newsletter, he stated that the market for the software's advanced features is insufficient to support the infrastructure necessary to continue developing the software. He added that health issues are a contributing factor.

    Official software support will end at the end of this year; sales will continue through September. The user-to-user support forum and mailing list will still be available.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Genealogy for kids | Genealogy Software
Friday, August 01, 2014 12:09:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]