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Friday, 19 December 2014
Genealogy News Corral: Dec. 15-19
Posted by Diane
- Ancestry.com has released a Find A Grave mobile app for Android
devices. The free app lets you search the Find A Grave database of
tombstone inscriptions, add new tombstone photos and inscriptions,
edit your Find A Grave user profile, and find and fulfill others'
requests for tombstone images. You can find the app in the Google
Play store (an iOS version is already available in the iTunes app
more about the Android Find A Grave app here and the
iOS app here.
Famberry, a collaborative
family tree building website, is offering new members one terabyte
of free space to store photos and memories (one terabyte is enough
room for about 300,000 photos). The offer is to celebrate the site's
move onto new, high-grade servers, part of a complete makeover.
Learn more about other site improvements from Famberry's
Genealogy website Mocavo is in the midst of a 12 Days of
Census countdown, in which each day brings free access to a
new US census. The records then stay "unlocked" for the remainder of
the countdown. The countdown ends on Dec. 24, when the entire US
census collection will be free. Access the unlocked records and read
more on Mocavo's
12 Days of Census page.
Ancestry.com | Cemeteries | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 19 December 2014 16:18:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Findmypast Launches Record Hints for Members' Family Trees
Posted by Diane
Subscription genealogy website Findmypast has launched the beta
version of record Hints
for its members' family trees.
Hints for an individual are activated when you add or update the
person's information in your Findmypast family tree. Hints will
search the site's record collections for matches to the person, then
display the hint for you to accept, further consider, or reject.
"Hints currently provide matches from our birth, baptism, marriage,
death, and burial records across the United States, United Kingdom,
Ireland, and Australia," says Findmypast's director of family
history, D. Joshua Taylor. Other record sets will be included in the
Members will see the number of hints available for an ancestor in
their family tree pedigree or family view (shown):
You can click on the orange My Hints button to see all your hints for
... or click on an ancestor and then on the Hints tab to see all hints
for that person:
Click Review to compare the information from a Hint record to the
information in your tree, and decide of they name the same person:
Then you can use the buttons at the bottom to reject the hint, continue considering it, or attach the
record to the person in your tree.
Building a family
tree is free on Findmypast, but you'd need a subscription to
view most matching records in your Hints.
Taylor says that Hints, which is currently in beta, will appear
gradually in Findmypast members' trees over the coming weeks.
For help using hints,
see the video and guide on Findmypast.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 14:31:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Announces 2015 Premiere & Partial Celebrity Lineup
Posted by Diane
TLC has announced the premiere date and a partial lineup for the
next season of the genealogy TV show "Who
Do You Think You Are?"
We'll see eight episodes of "Who Do You Think You Are?" this year,
with the premiere scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 10/9 central.
(This gives us an unbroken 14 weeks of Tuesday evening genealogy
viewing, as PBS' "Genealogy Roadshow" airs weekly Jan. 13-Feb. 17.)
Four of the celebrity guests who'll explore their family history on this season's episodes are:
The series is produced by Shed Media and Is or Isn't Entertainment,
and sponsored by Ancestry.com,
which also provides the research into guests' family trees.
Chen, television personality, who takes the series to
China for the first time
Harmon, actor, who learns a relative served under Gen.
- Sean Hayes,
actor/producer, who discovers his paternal Irish roots
Paxton, actor/director/producer, who learns about his
family's part in the American Revolution
Here's a quick preview of the 2015 season:
and a clip of coproducer Lisa Kudrow talking about the show on "The
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 10:52:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, 12 December 2014
Genealogy News Corral: Dec. 8-12
Posted by Diane
- FamilySearch announced another
big-name keynote speaker—actually, two—for the February 2015 RootsTech conference: Former
First Lady Laura Bush and her
Bush Hager, a special correspondent to NBC's "Today," will
present the keynote talk during the Friday morning general session,
Feb. 13. The former First Lady will talk about life in the White
House, the importance of family, and the days following Sept. 11;
Hager will join her to share family stories.
FamilySearch | findmypast
Friday, 12 December 2014 14:12:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
"Finding Your Roots" Reveals Genealogical Secrets in Guests' DNA
Posted by Diane
The final episode of "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates,
Jr.," which aired a couple of weeks ago (I'm just now blogging about
it thanks to holiday busy-ness), features actor Jessica Alba,
Massachusetts Gov. Deval
Patrick and Gates himself.
It also focused on the genetic ancestry of these and previous
guests, with analysis from genetic genealogy consultant and Your Genetic
Genealogist blogger CeCe Moore.
If you're considering DNA testing, or you've tested and you're not
sure how to use your results, this episode can give you an idea of the possibilities. I'll include the highlights here, but watch
the episode (soon—the video expires Dec. 26) and read
Moore's post on the show's blog for more details, including
information that had to be cut or simplified for the show.
(You also should consider taking the next session of our Family Tree
Genealogy 101 course, starting Jan. 12 and instructed by The Genetic
Genealogist blogger Blaine Bettinger.)
- Jessica Alba: Gates commented that Alba's ancestral
breakdown was one of the most diverse he'd ever seen, with
British, Iberian (where her Mexican heritage comes in), Italian
and French-German. Her Mexican family is among the two-thirds
of Mexicans of Mestizo
heritage, with a combination of European and native roots.
Alba's father's test revealed he has Native American (including
Mayan), Jewish, Italian and Middle Eastern ancestry, suggesting
roots. Genealogical research shows that his mother's line
includes fourth-great-grandmother Carmen Carillo. His
mitochondrial DNA matches who had Carmen in their tree also had
confirmed Sephardic Jewish ancestry, suggesting that she's the
link to Alba's Sephardic roots.
- Gates: Gates was able to solve one of his own
genealogy brick walls with genetic genealogy testing. Although
DNA shows that more than half of his ancestors were white, he
had never been able to identify them by name. Moore noted that a
Mayle family repeatedly occurred in his genetic matches, with
many of the matches' lines going back to a Wilmore Mayle, a
Genealogical research, much of it by Gates' newfound
cousin, Alexandra, revealed that Wilmore Mayle, born in England,
emancipated a slave, Nancy, in 1826, with the condition that she
remain with him "in the quality of [his] wife." After that, Mayle
appears variously in records as white, free black, and mulatto.
The family settled in an isolated area of what's now West Virginia
with other mixed-race families. On the show, Gates joins a gathering of Mayle relatives.
Other interesting genetic
genealogy-related tidbits in this episode:
- Deval Patrick: Patrick's DNA revealed he's nearly 40
percent European, with all of his Y-DNA ancestors originating in
Europe. Genealogical records for another line showed that
Patrick's African-American great-great-grandmother Emily
Wintersmith and her son purchased a farm from a white man, Dr.
Harvey Slaughter, for a very small sum. In analyzing Deval
Patrick's autosomal DNA, Moore observed that one of his matches
is a woman descended from a Capt. George Gray, the brother of
Harvey Slaughter's mother. This suggests that Harvey Slaughter
is Patrick's great-great-grandfather.
- Gates put to rest rumors of Native American ancestry in the
family trees of Billie Jean King, Anna Deveare Smith and
Benjamin Jealous. Those whose American Indian heritage rumors
did have merit include Anderson Cooper (who, to oversimplify it, has Chilean DNA on his 21st chromosome—see
Moore's blog post for the details) and Valerie Jarrett
(whose DNA corroborated her 7th-great-grandmother's baptismal
record suggesting that her mother was Algonquin).
- The average African-American today is a quarter European.
- Humans are genetically 99.9 percent identical. The part of our
DNA that makes us different "races" is miniscule.
Moore's post reports that production for next season is already underway,
with Jimmy Kimmel, John McCain, Sandra Cisneros and Soledad O'Brien
so far. (All I want for Christmas is to be on that list!)
- Jessica Alba is related to Alan Dershowitz, who appeared on a
previous episode; and Tony Kushner and Carole King also are
You can watch
the full episode online before Dec. 26 on the 'Finding Your Roots"
Visit the genetic genealogy section of ShopFamilyTree.com for guides such as our Using DNA to Solve Family Mysteries webinar and our DNA Success Stories download.
Celebrity Roots | Genealogy TV
Friday, 12 December 2014 10:59:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
MyHeritage Charms First-Time Users With "Instant Discoveries"
Posted by Diane
Genealogy website MyHeritage unveiled a new feature today called
Instant Discoveries, designed for first-time users of the site.
As part of the sign-up process, new members enter basic
information about themselves, their parents and their grandparents
(names, birth years and places, and death years). Within seconds of doing so, a new member will get a free, polished-looking Instant Discovery showing a
person likely to be his or her ancestor, plus information about the
family branch, names, photos and documents.
MyHeritage released a video showing
New Yorkers testing out the feature at Times Square, Grand
Central Terminal and elsewhere:
This is pretty smart. It's a great way to give people instant
gratification and spark an interest in genealogy. The people in the
video, and probably many others who try the site, are starting off
their MyHeritage relationship on a big positive note.
Like I said, it's for new users. Wanting to give Instant
Discoveries a try, I started a new MyHeritage account using a new email address, but the site remembered my name associated with my
parents' and grandparents' names and life dates from an old account
I had under a different email address—so no discoveries for me.
(Luckily, the MyHeritage folks who answered my questions said
they're planning something similar for existing users.)
Learn more about Instant Discoveries on MyHeritage from the
MyHeritage blog. If you try it, I'd love to hear what you think.
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 14:41:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 09 December 2014
"Genealogy Roadshow" Season Two Premieres Next Month
Posted by Diane
Mark your calendar for Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET: That's when family history TV series "Genealogy Roadshow"
returns to PBS for its second season, producers announced today.
The show, part "Antiques Roadshow" and part "History
Detectives," has genealogy experts Kenyatta
D. Berry, D.
Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco explore
guests' family history mysteries and legends. It's shot in talk show
format: We see an introduction to the guest, then the guest sits
down with the expert and the expert reveals the truth behind the
family story. A live audience (composed of both family history
enthusiasts and hired extras) looks on.
Shooting locations and highlights for the six episodes in season two
- Jan 13, New Orleans: A couple with ancestry in the same
small Italian town explore whether they're related, a woman
wants to find out who committed a murder in her family’s past, a
home held in one family for more than a century has a
fascinating story, and a woman discovers her ancestor's journey
from slavery to freedom.
- Jan 20, St. Louis: A woman discovers her mother's
life-changing secret, a woman finds out if she's descended from
the pirate Blackbeard, a mother and daughter want to know if
they're related to a famous author, and a young man seeks
connection to the Mali tribe of Africa
- Jan. 27, Philadelphia: A man learns about the historic
event that drove his family to Phildelphia, another may be a
Viking descendant, a family wants to know its involvement with
one of history’s biggest scams, a man hopes to confirm his link
to a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and two sisters
learn their ancestors were part of the great Irish migration
- Feb. 3, New Orleans: A local man wants to recover
history washed away in Hurricane Katrina, a woman discovers
connections to both sides of the Civil War, another unravels the
mystery behind her grandfather’s adoption, and a man explores a
link to New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau
- Feb. 10, St. Louis: A musician hopes to find family
connections to a famous St. Louis jazz composer, two sisters
find out if they're related links to a survivor of the Donner
party disaster, and an Italian-American woman learns whether
she's related to Italian royalty
You can see photos from each filming event, which also included a
family history fair with vendors, on the show's website.
Guests were cast earlier this year, after a call for
genealogists to submit their family mysteries.
- Feb. 17, Philadelphia: One woman’s ancestor may have
inspired labor laws, a pastor may have an outlaw in her family
tree, DNA testing helps a woman find answers about slavery in
her family, and another woman learns her ancestor may have
helped people escape the Holocaust
Taylor reveals the research strategies experts used to unravel
family mysteries during season one in our on-demand webinar, 11
Essential Research Tricks from Genealogy Roadshow. It's
available in ShopFamilyTree.com.
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 16:58:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
4 Favorite "Unofficial" Tips for Using Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane
Many of you use Ancestry.com
in your genealogy research, as do I. Lots of us get into a routine
with the site, searching the same databases in the same way every
time. Not surprisingly, the meaningful results start to dry up.
Guide to Ancestry.com book shows you the depth of the
site and the range of ways to find ancestral information. Here, I'll
summarize four of my favorite ideas from author Nancy Hendrickson,
who's also presenting our Making
the Most of Ancestry.com webinar on Dec. 18:
- Delve into the card catalog. Far, far into it. Explore the
categories and subcategories of databases, and type ancestral
towns and counties into the Keyword search box. You'll find such
obscure collections such as "California Narratives: The
Adventures of a Forty-Niner," "General Business Review of
Highland County, Ohio" and "Burlington Court Book" (court
records and historical information on Quaker, Swedish, English
and Dutch settlers in West New Jersey from 1680 to about 1709).
- Look for old photos of family and the places they lived. Try
databases including US School Yearbooks, Public Member Photos
and Scanned Documents, and Historical Postcards (separate
databases are named for 10 countries or regions, including
the US, Germany and Austria, Canada, Italy and others). Find
more with a card catalog search on the keyword pictures.
I've been on the lookout for old images of tiny Pickstown, SD,
where my dad lived as a child while his dad helped build the
Fort Randall Dam, and this is just one of the ones I found:
- Add notes to records you find on Ancestry.com. You might find
errors in the site's index, where the transcriber who read
the name in a historical record misinterpreted what the record
said. Or the census taker or
county clerk might have garbled your relative's name on the original
record. Or maybe the record shows Great-grandpa's given name, and
you know the nickname he more commonly used.
On the record summary page, you can
click the Leave a Comment button to leave a general comment with
more information on the record. Others will be able to see your user name as the person who left
a comment, potentially putting you in touch with more relatives:
Or you can add alternate information to transcriptions
for many records. When you view a record, click the green Index
button at the bottom to pull up a transcription of fields in the
record. Click on the line you want to edit, then hover over the
field you want to edit. An orange button appears; click the pencil:
You also can fill in some fields that weren't already transcribed. Here, I added "Lodger" to the Relation to Head of Household column in my grandfather's 1940 census listing. The alternate information becomes part of Ancestry.com's
searchable index along with the original transcription, a help to
others searching for those people.
the Most of Ancestry.com webinar on Dec. 18 will show you:
- Use Ancestry.com in conjunction with other sources. In many of
her examples, Nancy shows how she uses names and places found on
Ancestry.com as a springboard for searches on sites such as Google,
FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and Findmypast. The book also includes listings of other sites you should check for city directories, digitized books and
newspapers, and other types of genealogy records.
The webinar is Thursday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. ET (6p.m. CT, 5p.m.
MT, 4p.m. PT). All registrants will receive a PDF copy of the
presentation slides and access to view the recorded webinar again as
often as they like. Learn
more and register now for Making the Most of Ancestry.com in
- how to build your Ancestry.com searches for better, faster
- how to zero in on the best databases for your search in the
Ancestry.com Card Catalog
- how to use the site's many shortcut tools to make your
research more efficient and lead to additional relatives
- and lots more
Ancestry.com | Genealogy books | Webinars
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 09:44:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, 05 December 2014
Genealogy News Corral: Dec. 1-5
Posted by Diane
- Great news for Irish genealogists: Starting in summer 2015, the National
Library of Ireland plans to post its Irish Catholic Church
records online for free, according
to IrishCentral.com. The collection, consisting primarily of
baptismal and marriage records, dates as early as the 1700s and
covers more than 1,000 parishes.
Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 05 December 2014 12:42:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 03 December 2014
Ways to Solve Genealogy Problems With Cluster Research
Posted by Diane
Studying your ancestors in the context of their community of
relatives, friends, neighbors and associates is a tried-and-true way
to solve family mysteries. For example:
These cluster genealogy research tips are from next week's Cluster
Genealogy Crash Course webinar. There's still time to sign
- If you can't find an ancestor's parents' names, you
might be able to identify her brother and then establish his
- Getting your ancestor confused with someone
else in his town of the same name and age? Keep them
straight by identifying their wives, children, siblings and
- Want to understand why your
ancestor migrated to a particular place or took a certain job? He may have had friends in that place, or a family member helped him get the job.
- Start by creating a family group sheet for the ancestor's
nuclear family, including each person's name; birth, marriage
and death dates and places; and spouse's name.
- Cluster research candidates include others who appear in your
ancestors' records: neighbors in the census, land records
and city directories; ship passengers from the same place;
witnesses in marriage and naturalization records; sponsors in
baptismal and other religious records; survivors in obituaries;
heirs, executors and guardians in probate records.
- Next-door neighbors are sometimes separated by several
pages in the census because of the route the census taker
followed. As you read these pages, note other families of your
ancestor's surname or families with similar birthplace patterns
or other details in common. These families may need to be on
your cluster research list.
- Also make note if your ancestors' neighboring families
reported the same birthplaces for parents and children. You need
to study them: Did they migrate together? Were they related?
In the Cluster
Genealogy Crash Course webinar, professional researcher and
"Genealogy Roadshow" host D. Joshua Taylor
will show you the details of strategies for identifying your
ancestors' "clusters," researching those clusters, and adding up
the evidence to conquer your family history brick walls.
The webinar takes place next Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. ET (6
p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT). All registrants will receive a PDF
file of the webinar slides and access to view the presentation
again whenever you want. Learn
more about the Cluster Genealogy Crash Course here.
Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 10:11:49 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 02 December 2014
New Release: RootsMagic 7 Genealogy Software
Posted by Diane
RootsMagic has released version 7 of its genealogy software. The new
version includes both new features and updates that make the current
features easier to use, according to this press release from
RootsMagic. Here's the main screen:
New features in RootsMagic 7 include:
breakdown of all the RootsMagic 7 features, with icons to
indicate what's "new" and "better."
- WebHints: Hints to records from both FamilySearch and
MyHeritage that match profiles in your family tree. Read
more about the MyHeritage record matching here.
- MyRootsMagic: New accounts let you easily publish and maintain
multiple online trees, which you can make public or private.
- DataClean: find and fix problems (such as typos) in names and
places in your database.
- File Compare: Compare any two RootsMagic files side by side,
and easily transfer information or media between them.
- QuickGroups: Instantly add or remove an individual to or from
multiple groups at once.
RootsMagic is Windows software, though you can use MacBridge for
RootsMagic to run it on a Mac.
New RootsMagic users can purchase version 7 for $29.95. If you use a
previous version of RootsMagic or its predecessor, Family Origins,
you can upgrade for $19.95.
The free RootsMagic Essentials, a "lite" version of the software
that has many of the core features, also has been updated. It's
fully compatible with the full version.
Look for a review of RootsMagic 7 in an upcoming issue of Family Tree Magazine.
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 08:50:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, 01 December 2014
9 Tips for Writing Your Family History
Posted by Diane
Are you itching to put your genealogy research into shareable form
by writing your family history? If your goal is to discover the
stories of your ancestors, writing those stories in a book will help
make sure their legacy lives on (and that all your efforts to
document their lives won't be wasted).
Wanting to write your family history and actually doing it are two
different things. Writing is part of what I do for a living, so I
wanted to share some tips that have worked for me when starting a
1. Know what you want to write about. An outline gives you a
helpful framework for a story involving multiple individuals or a
long span of time. Next week in our online Genealogist's
Essential Writing Workshop, you'll work with workshop leader
Sunny Jane Morton to put together an outline for your family history
2. Don't begin at the beginning. If you're having trouble
getting started, just start writing a story you like—maybe it's a
particular ancestor's immigration story, military service or venture
to the wrong side of the law. The words will begin to flow from
there. You can always rearrange later.
Also, no one said you have to start your book with the earliest
chronological event. Instead, begin with the most dramatic moment,
such as your immigrant ancestor stepping off the ship that brought
him to America, or purchasing the land that enabled his family's
farming success. Then you can jump back to cover so-and-so's birth.
3. Use prompts. If you're still having trouble knowing what to
write, try answering the family history writing prompts in a book
such as Stories
From My Grandparent or a tech tool such as Saving
4. Remember: You're not carving in stone. You can
always edit your words and move the pieces around, so take the
pressure off yourself and don't worry about making the story perfect
in your first (or second, or third) draft.
5. Write naturally. If you're writing for relatives, pretend
you're telling your family story to a friend. If you're writing for
a publication, tailor your work to that publication's style.
6. Organize your thoughts with apps. Writing apps can help you
create an outline, organize and edit your story. I've heard good
things about Scrivener
($45), which is like Evernote but
especially for writing projects.
a link to more writing apps.
7. Seek inspiration. Read published family histories for
examples. One of my favorites is Family
by Ian Frazier.
8. Don't delay. Start now and work on your writing project a
little at a time once a week or every evening if you can manage it.
Imagine where you'll be a year from now!
9. Get help. Look for writers' groups and classes in your
community. Or try our aforementioned Genealogist's
Essential Writing Workshop, an online event running Dec. 8-15
at FamilyTreeUniversity.com. Besides outlining your family history
book, you'll learn how to incorporate your genealogy research and
how to manage the project, and you'll get started writing—all
whenever it's convenient for you throughout the week. See
the program of video classes and written lessons at
Family Tree University | saving and sharing family history
Monday, 01 December 2014 11:23:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)