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Monday, 30 March 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Sean Hayes Discovers His Irish Family History
Posted by Diane
Get a recap of actor Sean Hayes' search for his Irish roots—as well
as tips about the records he discovered along the way—from this "Who
Do You Think You Are?" recap by guest blogger Sunny Jane Morton:
I lost count of how many times Sean Hayes’ jaw dropped during last
night’s episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" After a certain
point, he just had to laugh as he learned more of the sad twists and
turns in his family history.
His story starts close to home, with a father who dropped out of his
own life. Hayes wondered what led his father to that decision.
Research confirms old gossip that his father was placed in an
orphanage as a child, after Hayes’ grandmother had hip surgery and
his grandfather disappeared from the picture.
Chicago documents trace Hayes' grandfather as a young man to a slum
known to house men who were down on their luck. Medical records were
a surprising and interesting find; these often are either lost or
privacy-protected. They hint at alcoholism and estrangement from his
family. The grandfather’s story ends with a death certificate at age
40. But it gives his father’s name, and the story continues back in
Hayes gets to open the original naturalization books for his
great-grandfather Patrick Hayes, Jr., which lead to more records
overseas: Irish prison ledgers. The free
FamilySearch.org has a searchable index of Irish Prison Registers,
1790-1924. If you're using the site at a FamilySearch Center
(or if you're a member of the LDS church with a Findmypast login),
you also click to see the record image for free. You
also can search these Irish prison registers and and view
record images with a subscription to Findmypast.com.
Here he finds Great-grandpa Hayes jailed a few times. One conviction
was eyebrow-raising: Patrick Jr. and his brother were jointly
prosecuted for attacking their father, Patrick Sr. The final jail
sentence ended just before the younger Patrick hopped a ship to the
The story of Patrick Sr., Sean Hayes' great-great-grandfather, is
spelled out in a long list of convictions over a 50-year span.
During a period of relative calm, Patrick Sr. married and started a
family. But a persistent streak of drunk-and-disorderlies follows in
the wake of his wife’s death, when Patrick Jr. was about 10 years
“There's definitely a cycle,” Hayes concludes of fatherly behavior
patterns in his family. “It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but you
kind of understand why. You have to have compassion.”
Got Irish roots like Sean? Pick up a copy of the excellent guide Tracing
Your Irish Ancestors by John Grenham, available
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | UK and Irish roots
Monday, 30 March 2015 09:07:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, 23 March 2015
8 Simple Tips for Genealogy Source Citations
Posted by Diane
Citing sources of genealogy information can be a confusing process:
How do you know what information to cite, what details to include in the
citation, and where to keep all your citations so they'll stay paired with the fact you're citing and the record where you found that fact?
So during Family Tree University's Virtual Conference a couple of
weekends ago, I was looking forward to the Source Citations Made
Easy live chat. It did not disappoint. Moderator Shannon
Combs-Bennett and our participants shared source citation tips
I found especially helpful—so I wanted to pass them on to with you.
- Cite any piece of information or fact you use in your
research, whether it's in the form of a family tree, story,
book, etc. Each name, date, place and relationship should be
labeled with where you learned that information.
- Several participants fessed up to gathering source
details about a newly discovered record, then crafting a citation later, when time allows. Here's one way to speed up the
citation-writing process: Make a list of sources you use most
frequently, such as a particular microfilm or online record
collection. Take a piece of information (such as an ancestor's
birthdate) you found in each source and write a citation for it. Copy these citations into a document to
use as templates for your future research. Our
Genealogy Source Citation Cheat Sheet has a bunch of
ready-made templates you can use.
- You can link your citation to the accompanying record in
several ways. Many of our chat participants use more than one of
- the source citation system of your genealogy software
and/or online family tree (look for the May/June 2015 Family
Tree Magazine, which will include a helpful article with steps
for citing sources in genealogy software)
- a sources or research log spreadsheet (you can include a column for a link
to the document image file on your computer)
- in your online tree, in the image notes when you attach a
document image to a person
- in Evernote (upload the image file as a note, and add the
citation in the note text)
- on the document itself. If it's a digital image, you
could use photo-editing software, the "Add a text box" feature
in Adobe Reader (for a PDF), or an app
for adding text to photos (here's a list
of apps for adding text to photos, though haven't tried them)
- You can note the reliability and provenance of a source when
you create a citation in your genealogy software, and/or set up
a column for this in your source citations spreadsheet. In a
family history narrative, when you cite information, the
citation can include a description of the source and its
- It's fine to start with the citations automatically provided
on many genealogical websites, but check that they contain all
the necessary information about the source. If one website
obtained its index or digitized record images created by another
website, your citation will reflect that.
- In addition to Evidence Explained, gather these
resources for using and citing genealogy sources:
- Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary Edition, by the
Certification of Genealogists (Turner Publishing)
Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W Jones
(National Genealogical Society)
"General Information Leaflet 17: Citing Records in the
National Archives of the United States" by the National
Archives and Records Administration (download
- If you haven't been great about citing sources, start now. Make a goal to review your earlier research a little at a time, creating citations as you go. The more you work with genealogy source citations, the more natural
Monday, 23 March 2015 13:28:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Angie Harmon Traces American Revolution Roots
Posted by Diane
Follow along as "Who Do You Think You Are?" correspondent Sunny Jane Morton recaps last night's episode, featuring actor Angie Harmon's hunt for her Revolutionary roots.
Last night’s "Who
Do You Think You Are?" is the first show this season to stay in the
United States. But I didn’t miss the exotic eye-candy of foreign
vistas. I loved the quintessentially American tale that led into a
little-known and surprising episode in US military history.
Celebrity guest Angie
Harmon explored the story of her fifth-great grandfather,
German immigrant Michael Harmon. She was surprised to learn how he
got to come to America in 1772: as an indentured servant whose labor
was sold to the highest bidder to pay off his passage. He finished
out his term of service as an enlisted man in the 4th Pennsylvania
regiment. Along with thousands of fellow troops, he suffered through
winter quarters at Valley
Forge under Gen. George Washington’s command.
The actor was feeling pretty proud of her ancestor until she learned
that his regiment mutinied a few years later. Fortunately she looked
for a little more historical context before she judged her ancestor
too harshly. The troops had lived for months on few provisions and
little of the pay that was owed them and. “Every man has his
breaking point,” she decided. They weren’t disloyal, just fed up, a
conclusion that seemed supported by the regiment’s rejection of a
British offer to buy their loyalty.
Several great record examples appeared as we learned more about
Michael Harmon: indenture records, regimental histories, a military
pay slip, tax records and a will. Examining the will, Angie Harmon
becomes noticeably excited as she finds the name of Michael’s wife
and seven children. An entire family reconstructed in a single
document: genealogical paydirt.
Wills are usually available in probate court (also called chancery
court or orphans court) records for the county where the will was
filed. FamilySearch has
many counties’ probate records on microfilm; try searching the
online catalog for the name of the county and then looking for
a probate heading. If the film is digitized on FamilySearch.org, the
catalog will link you to that film. If it’s not on microfilm or
digitized, you can write to the courthouse (if you know the date the
will was filed or have a file number, information that might
available in an index published by the local genealogical society)
or visit in person.
has some tips here for finding your ancestors' wills.
Angie Harmon brings along her three young daughters on a visit to
the ancestral farm in the rolling green hills of Kentucky. The last
reveal is the current owner: a cousin, Michael Harmon, 220 years
after the first Michael Harmon:
If you’ve got deep US roots, some of the record sets that proved
helpful to Harmon’s research could help yours, too. Enlist the aid
of military records with our US
Military Records independent study course. You’ll learn about
different kinds of records created over time, including service,
pension, bounty land and draft records. Then get up to speed on tax
records, estate files and other county-level records in our Courthouse
Research Crash Course OnDemand Webinar.
Next week's "Who Do You Think You Are?" features actor Sean Hayes and his Irish family history. Tune in Sunday, March
29 at 10/9 Central.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | court records | Military records
Monday, 23 March 2015 08:08:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, 20 March 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Angie Harmon To Trace Her American Revolution Roots
Posted by Diane
After a whirlwind
trip to Germany last week, this Sunday's "Who Do
You Think You Are?" stays close to home as actor Angie Harmon
traces her indentured servant fifth-great-grandfather, Michael
He served in the Revolutionary War at Valley Forge, mutinied
in protest of the lack of pay, food and clothing; and eventually
became a landowner in Kentucky. At the end of the show, Angie Harmon
brings her daughters to visit that land and meets the cousin who
owns it today.
The show airs Sunday, March 22, at 10 ET/9 Central on TLC.
can get a sneak peek at the Angie Harmon "WDYTYA?" episode on the
show's website. Come back here on Monday for our "WDYTYA?"
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, 20 March 2015 09:06:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Genealogy News Corral: March 16-20
Posted by Diane
- The New England
Historic Genealogical Society has updated its quarterly
journal with a new design and a broader editorial focus. The New
England Historical and Genealogical Register, appearing this
week in its 673rd issue, now features a full-color cover with a
contents listing and a modernized interior design. The
supplemental American Ancestors Journal will be integrated into
the Register to give it a national and international scope,
while still retaining an emphasis on New England, New York
State, and out-migrations from New England.
- Saturday, March 28, the Civil War Trust will hold its 19th
annual Park Day, when volunteers gather to clean up
historic battlefield sites across the country. This is the first
year the cleanup effort will include both Civil War and
Revolutionary War sites. Details such as event times and
registration procedures vary by the cleanup site. To participate
in Park Day, find
a site near you on this list.
Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies
Friday, 20 March 2015 08:29:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Ancestry.com Launches Genealogy Website for Searching Irish Newspapers
Posted by Tyler
Ancestry.com has introduced a new Irish genealogy research site
which contains searchable digitized pages from 63 newspapers
published in Ireland.
The papers come from the Irish Newspaper Archives
website, but IrishNewspapers.com offers them with a much more
user-friendly interface and search.
IrishNewspapers.com works much like Newspapers.com
site, with mostly US content): You can enter a name or other search
terms, then narrow your results to the most relevant dates, places
and newspaper titles. You can run a search without subscribing, and
the snippet views of your search results often provide enough
context to tell whether a particular result might be relevant to
your family history (and whether it's worth subscribing).
IrishNewspapers.com lists its digitized papers here.
Use this listing to get an idea whether the site could be useful to
you: Choose your ancestral Irish county from the filters on the left
to see papers published there and dates covered.
My family rumored to be from County Cork, for example, immigrated to
the United States during the 1840s, but the IrishNewspapers.com
papers published in Cork begin in the late 1800s. Of course, the
papers would be a good way to research family who remained in
Ireland, if I knew their names. I would first need to identify whom to search for and where they lived.
IrishNewspapers.com is a separate subscription from Newspapers.com, $19.99 per month or $99.99 per year (both
Note that if you have a Newspapers.com subscription, you have
access to that site's content from 16 newspapers published in
Ireland. Some of it overlaps what's on IrishNewspapers.com:
When I ran a IrishNewspapers.com search, clicked on a match and entered my email address to begin the registration process, the site reminded me that I already have access to that paper on Newspapers.com.
Ancestry.com | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:56:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 17 March 2015
Finding the Irish in My Family Tree
Posted by Diane
Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!
I was trying to explain to my four-year-old this morning in the car
that his fourth-great-grandparents, Edward Norris and and Elizabeth
Butler, came from a country called Ireland. After observing that
Elizabeth's name has a potty word in it, he asked where they lived
and wished he could meet them.
Me, too, buddy.
I'm still in the US-records-gathering phase with this family. Oral
tradition says they came from County Cork, but I haven't found
records stating anything beyond "Ireland." That and their common
names are slowing down my search.
Edward and Elizabeth had at least eight children. Their son, also named Edward,
is my great-great-grandfather. Another son, James, was a Cincinnati
firefighter during the 1900 and 1910 censuses. This had become the
full-time professional department in 1853, and
was the source of innovations such as the first practical fire engine,
powered by steam.
Although I couldn't find statistics, Irish immigrants often
dominated police and fire departments in large US cities. Many
departments today have Emerald
societies that demonstrate their members' pride in their Irish
heritage. (Here's an interesting New
York Times article about the Irish brogue in police and fire
James' youngest son, Raymond, followed in his father's footsteps to
join the fire department in 1916, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer
article. Ray received a leave of absence to enlist in World
War I. The Official Roster of Ohio
Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917-18 says
he was discharged a private first class in March 1919.
Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 18, 1920, p. 14
Back home, Ray joined the fire department's Engine Company 42. On Jan. 17,
1920, his company responded to a fire at the Newton Tea & Spice
Co. Ray was in a group of men spraying water from a bridge ramp
overlooking the building when an explosion sent a brick wall
crashing down on them. Ray was found laying over the hose, one of
four men killed. Fourteen others were critically injured.
James, as a former firefighter, probably knew what he might see
when he went to identify his son's body at the city morgue.
volume 15, certificate 196 : Norris, Ray, 1920-01-17
One day, when my kids are a little older, I'll share this piece of our family's proud Irish heritage with them.
If you have Irish roots, you'll want to keep an eye on the National
Library of Ireland's (NLI) plans to post Irish Catholic Church records
free online (starting this summer). Update: the registers are now online at the NLI website; you can search by name at Findmypast and Ancestry.com.
On FamilyTreeMagazine.com, find four
tips for tracing Irish roots as well as advice
for finding an Irish place of origin. You also might like our
Genealogy Cheat Sheet or Irish
Genealogy Crash Course webinar, both available in
UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, 17 March 2015 08:46:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, 16 March 2015
Trace Irish Ancestors in Poverty Relief Loan Records on Findmypast
Posted by Diane
Subscription site Findmypast
recently added Poverty Relief Loan Fund records to its Irish record
collections. These records document loans that local committees
provided to the "industrious poor." They contain nearly 700,000
personal names from counties Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim,
Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Tipperary, giving age,
occupation, fiscal history, and sometimes more.
ranges from 1821 to 1874, with most records dating from 1824 to
1846. They include the Irish Famine era, 1845 to 1852, when many of
our Irish relatives would've been most in need of assistance.
The records include follow-up information on the borrowers, who
might've emigrated, been punished for nonpayment, or died of
starvation or disease (so, maybe not the collection you want to
research if you're already having a bad day).
Findmypast blog post for tips on using the Poverty Relief Loan
Fund records, as well as an example of tracing a borrower from County Mayo,
Joseph Cannon, on his loan application (shown above) and ledger entries.
Findmypast subscribers can search the Ireland,
Poverty Relief Loans 1821-1874 database here (where you'll
also find much more information about this record set), or browse
the records here.
For tips on searching for ancestors in Findmypast, look
for our Findmypast Web Guide download in ShopFamilyTree.com.
findmypast | UK and Irish roots
Monday, 16 March 2015 15:36:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Josh Groban Explores His German Roots
Posted by Diane
This post is brought to us by guest blogger and our "Who Do You Think You Are?" special correspondent, Sunny Jane Morton:
Josh Groban didn’t
sing his way through last night’s episode of "Who
Do You Think You Are?" But the multiplatinum singer still
commanded center stage as he pursued the story of a distant
grandfather, eight generations back.
The story starts with a widow and her children arriving in
Pennsylvania in the late 1600s, according to the Passenger and
Immigration Lists Index. This resource, searchable
on Ancestry.com and in print at many large libraries, is
helpful for tracing early immigrants. The index transcribes
information from a variety of resources, such as emigration lists
and genealogical journals.
Groban followed the trail of the missing husband, his
eighth-great-grandfather, back to Germany. Here he discovered that
Johann Zimmermann was an educated Lutheran church deacon, astronomer
and singing instructor. It was easy to see how pleased Josh was to
hold a music textbook from which Johann would have taught.
Then Johann’s story turned sad. He observed Halley’s
Comet in the night sky, which he thought forecast doom for a
corrupt Lutheran church. He published this opinion under a
pseudonym, but was found out and got in big trouble with the church
court. He pleaded to keep his job, mentioning his "heavily pregnant"
wife in a letter to the duke. With each German document or book he
viewed, Groban also received a neatly typed English translation.
Desperate to hold onto his beliefs without causing his family more
suffering, he headed for Quaker Pennsylvania. He didn’t make it, but
they did. (Here's some behind-the-scenes, cutting-room-floor info on Johann's burial site in Rotterdam.)
In the episode, Groban took a whirlwind tour of German church and
university archives, where he paged through 17th-century books and
held documents written by his ancestor. He stood in the courtyard of
Johann’s university dormitory. He climbed to the belfry where Johann
may have stood to examine the night sky.
It was clear Groban wasn’t sure what to make of his ancestor’s
radical opinions. Many genealogists can relate to having ancestors
whose value systems differ markedly from our own. He didn’t try too
hard to judge the distant past by today’s standards. Instead, he
looked at other indicators of the man’s character, like his
willingness to sacrifice for his beliefs and his desire to take good
care of his family.
Until his "WDYTYA?" appearance, Groban had no idea he had German
roots—a heritage he shares with around 50 million Americans.
German-Americans played a major role in populating the United States
and constitute the largest
single ethnic group in the United States today.
If you're tracing German ancestors (and you aren’t a celebrity guest
on "WDYTYA?"), check our popular Family
Tree German Genealogy Guide by James M. Beidler. It has
advice on discovering where in Germany your immigrant ancestor came
from, as well as on researching in the records of Germany. Our
Genealogy Cheat Sheet is a handy quick reference, with a
German alphabet guide to help you read old records, a word list and
» Sunny Jane Morton
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com | Celebrity Roots | German roots
Monday, 16 March 2015 09:18:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, 13 March 2015
Genealogy News Corral, March 9-13
Posted by Diane
We have two genealogy website closures to report this week:
The Federation of Genealogical Societies has issued a call for
presentations for its 2016 annual conference, to be held Aug.
31-Sept. 3 in Springfield, Ill. The deadline for submissions is
April 10, 2015. Click
here for information on submitting proposals.
- The Place My Past website, which let you put your family tree
on a map, will close March 19. This is partly because Google is
retiring one of the main datasets Place My Past uses to find
locations in members' family trees, and partly because of
FamilySearch has added more than 2.2 million index records and
images to the free FamilySearch.org. Records come from Australia,
Philippines, Slovakia, Ukraine, the United States, and Zimbabwe. You
can see the list of updated collections and click through to
search or browse each onefrom the FamilySearch blog.
FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 13 March 2015 09:53:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Josh Groban Traces Ancestry in Germany
Posted by Diane
This Sunday's episode of "Who
Do You Think You Are?" features singer
Josh Groban and his genealogy search on his mother's side of
the family. That journey takes him to Germany and his
eighth-great-grandfather, a deacon and accomplished author on
astronomy, mathematics and science.
Here's a short peek at the episode:
Now I'm getting jealous—my dream trip is a visit to the little towns
in Germany where my ancestors came from. The episode airs this
Sunday, March 15, at 10/9 Central on TLC.
Also, don't forget to enter the Be
a "Who Do You Think You Are?" Star sweepstakes, with a prize
package that lets you discover your roots like a celebrity.
Celebrity Roots | German roots
Friday, 13 March 2015 08:41:31 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Bad News and Good News: Update on My German Genealogy Mystery
Posted by Diane
awhile back about plans to solve my German ancestral mystery
at the Family History Library.
the Ladenkotter family's place of origin, so I knew the right
church records to look for (more below about finding German immigrants' birthplaces with help from our upcoming Trace
Your German Immigrant Ancestors webinar).
Well, that search didn't pan out.
I found the German baptismal records
for brothers Joan Caspar Ladenkotter and Johannes Franz Caspar
they gave no clues as to which brother is my
fourth-great-grandfather, or any indication that the older Caspar
died as an infant (my sneaking suspicion).
On the other hand, my search for Seeger relatives went swimmingly.
Scrolling through unindexed church records on microfilm, I found the marriage
record for my third-great-grandfather Johann Henrich Seger and his
wife Maria Catharina Kolbeck, which also gives their parents'
In baptismal registers, I also found the names of three siblings to my great-great-grandfather
Heinrich Arnold Seeger. Only one, sister Maria Theresia, appears to have lived
beyond childhood. These registers were full of death dates, like so:
In the Ladenkotters' hometown, either everyone was exceedingly
healthy or noting deaths in baptismal records wasn't the practice.
Sprinkled throughout the records were surnames that matched my
ancestors', so I need to spend more time with the film to figure out
how and whether I'm related to all those folks.
I also noticed that the Seeger surname was consistently spelled
Seger in these German records. That could explain why Heinrich
spelled his name that way when he applied for a passport to return
to Germany in 1907, after having used Seeger in his other US records.
To find your German ancestors' church records, you need to know
where in Germany they're from. In our March 19 webinar, Trace
Your German Immigrant Ancestors, German research expert Michael D. Lacopo
will tell you about records that can reveal a German place of origin
(including lesser-known published resources), as well as the best
new German genealogy resources and websites.
Everyone who registers for the webinar will receive access to view it again
as often as they want. Find
out more today in ShopFamilyTree.com!
German roots | Webinars
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 09:43:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, 09 March 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Julie Chen Explores Roots in China
Posted by Diane
Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton serves as
our "Who Do You Think You Are?" special correspondent this season. She'll guest
blog with highlights and research tips from each episode, including
tips on where to find the genealogy records you
Here's Sunny's report on last night's premiere:
Do You Think You Are?" launched its new season yesterday on
TLC with a celebrity guest who's built her own career on
investigating other people’s stories: Julie Chen, TV
personality and CBS producer.
The episode takes us to China for the first time in the show’s
history. The story that unfolds about Chen’s grandfather Lou Gaw
Tong is “riches-to-rags-to-riches.” He became an emigrant who
continued to love his homeland. During World War II, he risked his
life smuggling ammunition through Japanese-occupied territory to the
Chinese resistance. He was a self-made businessman who started a
school in his home village that still thrives today, and that Chen
As Chen discovers, her grandfather’s interest in education reaches
back to a generation Julie knew nothing about. I won’t give away
everything she learns, for those who want to watch the episode later
(on your DVR, in a rerun, or possibly online if the episode becomes
the show's website). But there are some tender moments as she
learns about tough family history. By the end, she leaves China
with, she says, “a firmer understanding of who I am today and why I
am the way I am.”
Appropriately for a newswoman, Chen’s first real connection to her
grandfather’s story is through his obituaries. She learns the name
of his home province and village in China, more details about his
business, and about his philanthropy. Hints about his "unnatural"
troubled childhood intrigue her even more and drive her to search
for answers about his entire life.
Newspaper obituaries are often our first window into an ancestor’s
life story. It’s most common to find obituaries by the late 1800s
and especially the 20th century. These often contain clues that
censuses and even vital records may not tell us. You often find
biographical and personal details that person was remembered for by
partnership with digitized newspaper site GenealogyBank is making it
easier to find online obituaries. The names, death date and other
basic details are searchable
and indexed at FamilySearch.org; the full obituary is
available with a GenealogyBank subscription. You also can search sites
such as subscription-based Newspapers.com
and the free Chronicling
America. Some local libraries have obituary indexes you can search, and even digitized newspapers.
Learn more about newspaper research with our video class, Exploring
Digital Newspapers, available
in ShopFamilyTree.com. Or grab our Online
Newspapers Web Guide and start searching old newspapers right
away. See what stories they lead to.
Next week on WDYTYA?: Singer Josh Groban discovers his distant
grandfather was a renowned scientist who got the attention of the
great Sir Isaac Newton. Tune in on TLC on Sunday, March 15, at
You also can follow the show on
the TLC website, on
Facebook and on Twitter
» Sunny Jane Morton
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Asian roots | Celebrity Roots | Newspapers
Monday, 09 March 2015 09:02:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, 06 March 2015
Genealogy News Corral: March 2-6
Posted by Diane
- Don't forget! "Who Do You Think You Are?" (US) debuts this
Sunday at 10/9 Central on TLC, with Julie Chen's visit to China
to learn more about her maternal grandfather. See
the series schedule (including reruns) here. If you don't
have cable or you have to call it a night earlier than that,
episodes usually become available on
the show's website after airing.
can see the lineup of this season's celebrity guests here.
Also keep an eye on the show's "Be
a 'Who Do You Think You Are?' Star" sweepstakes, which isn't
open yet. It'll reward the winner with a trip to your family's
homeland and a professional guide, Ancestry.com products
(Ancestry.com is a show sponsor) and a trip to a Hollywood movie
The Institute of Museum and Library Services asks you to
share a story about your favorite National Medal finalist on its Facebook page—which
I did, after finding my
grandfather named in a Temple Daily Times newspaper article
on the Portal to Texas History.
To raise money for Alzheimer's disease research, the Global Family Reunion has launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo:
When you buy campaign perks, the proceeds go to The Alzheimer’s
Association New York City and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Perks include
tickets to the reunion (June 6, 2015, in New York City), a signed copy
of event organizer AJ Jacobs' upcoming book It's All Relative, or
a "computer visualization of how you’re linked to your 20,000 closest
Jacobs' grandfather's struggle with dementia inspired the fundraiser. Learn more and purchase your perks here.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 06 March 2015 14:34:16 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 04 March 2015
This Weekend Only: Search Findmypast.com Genealogy Records FREE!
Posted by Diane
You now have plans this weekend. Subscription genealogy website Findmypast.com is
giving everyone free access to the site's records this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
That includes collections such as
The free period starts Friday, March 6, at 7 a.m. ET, and runs to
Monday, March 9 at 7 a.m. You'll need to set up a free
registration with the site to view record images. When 7 a.m. on
Friday rolls around, start searching
Findmypast for free here.
- US censuses from 1790 forward
- military records including the American Revolution
- historical newspapers from across the United States and
British papers as far back as 1710
- ... and more
If you already subscribe to Findmypast, you'll benefit from the free-access period,
too: Their subscriptions will be extended by three days.
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 11:30:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 03 March 2015
New, Free Digitized Books Site Launches for Genealogy Searches
Posted by Diane
A new, free genealogy website, GenGophers.com,
will help you search for and download digitized books with family
history information. Books come from FamilySearch, the Allen County Public Library and
You can keyword-search book texts or titles. Here's the beginning of results for
my text search for Teipel:
You also can add a US state, Candian province or a country in the
Place field, but I didn't get any results with the place Kentucky
included. That's even though one search results was from "Kenton
County, Kentucky index #1 ..., " an inventory of court records.
Thanks to this result, though, I now
have several marriages to look up. Other matches came from city
directories, county and family histories, the Pennsylvania Archives
series and others.
Your search results include the name of the publication, plus a
"snippet" view from the page showing your highlighted search terms.
Underneath the snippet view, you'll see a notation such as +2 more if
multiple occurrences of the name appear in the book. Click to see a
view of the page and to search inside the book. The search doesn't
automatically find spelling variants, so you'll also want to try
You can download the publication from your search results for free.
GenGophers will return only genealogy-related books, unlike sites
like Google Books and Internet Archive, says founder Dallas Quass.
(If his name sounds familiar, it might be because he is a founder of
for On-line Genealogy, which sponsors the WeRelate.org
website along with the Allen County Public Library.)
He adds that GenGophers' search will work better than other sites'
searches for genealogical research. "While other websites can only
search for specific words contained in books, our engine uses
artificial intelligence to first identify and index all people
mentioned in a publication and then allows specific searches for
names, dates, and places associated with them. This approach
significantly increases the chance of discovering extended family
connections, stories about the lives of ancestors, and bringing
family histories to life.”
The site is supported by ads and Google Consumer Surveys, so you'll
be asked to answer a few market research questions once a day before
you download a search result (you can opt to skip the question,
Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 03 March 2015 14:54:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tips for Using the Free David Rumsey Historical Maps Website
Posted by Diane
Old maps can help you locate an ancestor's hometown and bring it to
life. Comparing maps of a place published over time can help you see
changing borders and jurisdictions.
One of the historical map resources you can learn more about in our
Maps of Europe Premium Collection is the David Rumsey Map
Collection website, which I used recently to find maps of my
great-great-grandfather's birthplace: Steinfeld, Germany.
share a few tips that might make it easier for you to find maps of
your ancestral places:
Try to find out as much as you can about your ancestral hometown.
The names of the country, state, district, other geographical
divisions, and/or nearby towns are clues to help you find the right
place on a map. And a
county, district, or other towns might share the name of your ancestral town. Other Steinfelds in Germany are in the districts of Main-Spessart, Bavaria; Stendal,
Saxony-Anhalt; Schleswig-Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein; and others. I want Steinfeld, Vechta, Lower Saxony (aka
Niedersachsen). It's near the city of Oldenburg, and
today it's often written as Steinfeld (Oldenburg).
Search for maps using the search box at top right. The
site search box located below that looks at web pages and blog articles, not
the maps collection.
Search not only for your ancestral town, but also for nearby towns
and other geographical divisions. Not every place named on a map is
part of the site's search: Searching for Steinfeld gets no
results. But searching for Vechta found this highly detailed
a legend here) that includes large-farm names, churches,
windmills, meadows and more:
Reichsamt fur Landesaufnahme, 1904
Lower Saxony found this:
Saxony, D. Lizars, Edinburgh, 1831
Oldenburg found this:
Deutschland, Justus Perthes, Gotha, 1821
Look for atlases. My Oldenburg search also brought
page from an 1859 atlas with a description of the Grand Duchy
of Oldenburg, which encompassed Steinfeld. It includes principle
occupations (agriculture, chiefly wheat, beans and hay),
religions (mostly Lutheran, with significant Catholic populations), and more.
266-267: Germany-Nassau, Oldenburg and Anhalt, JH Colton, New
There's a lot more you can do with these maps, including
georeference with a modern map so you can see an overlay, download
hi-res versions, order professional prints, and import into Google Earth.
Get tips for using
this and other online map resources, plus The Family Tree Historical
Maps Book: Europe and other map goodies in the Historical
Maps of Europe Premium Collection. Find
out more about it in ShopFamilyTree.com!
German roots | Maps | Research Tips
Tuesday, 03 March 2015 13:30:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)