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Thursday, 31 December 2015
What's Wrong With This Record?
Posted by Diane
We at Family Tree
Magazine are always urging genealogists to find their
ancestors' original records, rather than relying on an index or on
what another family tree says.
Even original records can contain mistakes, though. For
Looking at the birth and death dates on this 1918 death certificate,
you might think Alex died at about 6 weeks old. Those are the
birth and death dates shown in search results, too, which originally
caused me to scroll past this record.
But when you view the record, you notice that Alex was married and
employed as a conductor. Which makes sense for someone whose age is
28 years, 1 month and 15 days.
Looks like the person who filled out this death certificate in 1918
accidentally wrote 1918 for the birth year, instead of 1890. (I used
genealogy birth date calculator to figure the right year). He
probably was writing an unusually large number of death certificates
due to the
Cincinnati area's ongoing flu epidemic.
It's still important to locate the original record whenever
possible, but also be sure to examine the entire record for
consistency and use other records naming the person to confirm what
Thursday, 31 December 2015 11:13:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Free in January: Millions of Vital Records on AmericanAncestors.org!
Posted by Diane
Happy New Year! The New England Historic Genealogical Society is
access to three important vital records databases on its
AmericanAncestors.org website for the entire month of January
2016. If you have family in NewEngland, you'll want to take
advantage. Free databases include:
You'll need a free guest user account to access the free databases
(I just learned a free guest account also entitles you to
free access to every new database for the first 30 days after NEHGS
adds it to the site). Click here to get
- Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910: Each index entry
includes the person’s first and last name, the town or city
where the event occurred, the year, volume number, and page
- Vermont Births, Marriages and Deaths to 2008: The
collection includes more than 1.5 million birth records, more
than 1.8 million marriage records, and more than 1 million death
- New Hampshire Births to 1901, Deaths and Marriages to 1937:
This database includes records of more than 475,000 births, more
than 1 million marriages, and more than 915,000 deaths.
Here's another help for New England ancestry: The New
England Genealogy Value Pack at ShopFamilyTree.com is loaded
with expert webinars, easy-to-use State Research Guides, and more to
help you discover your family history in Massachusetts, Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Free Databases | Vital Records
Thursday, 31 December 2015 09:56:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Great Gifts for the Genealogist on Your Christmas List
Posted by Diane
Buying a holiday gift for someone who's into genealogy and family
history? (And it's totally, 100 percent acceptable if the person you
have in mind is yourself.)
Here's a list of gifts that I and the other genealogists I know
would love to find under the tree. If you're ordering from
ShopFamilyTree.com, take shipping deadlines (at the bottom of this
post) into account, or choose one of our many downloadable genealogy
guides, cheat sheets or videos.
- A membership to the person's local genealogical society.
Search online for the town or county and genealogical
- A DNA test from one of the above subscription sites or from Family Tree DNA.
Some important dates for ordering ShopFamilyTree.com books and other
- Help and company while scanning old photos and documents,
traipsing through a cemetery or looking up local records at the
library. This might not sound like much, but many genealogists
would give anything to have a loved one express interest in his
or her research.
- Wednesday, Dec. 16: last day to order in-stock items to
arrive before Christmas with standard or ground shipping
(orders over $25 include free standard shipping in the lower 48
- Friday, Dec. 18: last day to order in-stock items to
arrive before Christmas with 2-day shipping
- Tuesday, Dec. 22: last day to order in-stock items to
arrive before Christmas with overnight shipping
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 12:35:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, 11 December 2015
MyHeritage Launches New, Free Collection of Old Books
Posted by Diane
Genealogy website MyHeritage
launched a Compilation
of Published Sources collection, containing 150,000 digitized,
keyword-searchable genealogy and history books published over the
past four centuries. Even better, you can search the collection and
view your search results for free.
Books include city directories, government publications,
periodicals, association newsletters and others.
I initially thought
they might be from the FamilySearch
Books digitized collection, but that's not the case. "The
collection does not come from FamilySearch, Mocavo or any other,"
MyHeritage Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz said when I asked.
Instead, the collection is sourced from various published texts that
are copyright-free. A team of curators examines each digitized book
for relevance to family history research, and enhances its metadata
if they decide to include it.
Here's a search I ran for my Depenbrock family, who lived in and
It's a relatively unusual last name, so I didn't
add a first name. If you're looking for someone with a more-common
name, you could search for a first and last name, plus a keyword
such as a town, street or employer.
Because a book mentioning an
Ohio ancestor might have been published elsewhere, I left the
Publication Place "Match Optional." That means matches in books published in Ohio will be ranked higher
in my search results than books published elsewhere.
Results show the publication title and year, and the portion
of text containing the name. Click on a title to see the page. Looks like my
third-great-uncle George Depenbrock was a justice of the
peace in Colerain Township, serving a term that expired Jan. 3, 1907:
Below the image is a detailed description of the publication—in this case, Ohio: The Federal, State, County Officers
and Departmental Information, 1903, vol. 1903-05, published in 1911
by the Ohio Secretary of State in Columbus, and contributed by the
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Note that the search does pick up first and last names that both appear on a
page, but don't necessarily belong to the same person, as in this
result for my search for Edward Norris:
If you click the full screen button above the page image, you'll get a Download icon you
can click to download the record to your computer. You also can
register for a free or a premium MyHeritage account and create a
family tree, then attach the record to that person in your tree.
more about the Compilation of Published Sources Collection on the
Learn how to master MyHeritage with help from our Make
MyHeritage Work for You Webinar, available
now in ShopFamilyTree.com.
MyHeritage | Research Tips
Friday, 11 December 2015 10:31:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 09 December 2015
Ancestry.com Announces End of Family Tree Maker Software
Posted by Diane
You've probably heard by now: Ancestry.com announced on Tuesday that
it will discontinue its Family Tree Maker software. (I feel
compelled to mention here that Family Tree Magazine isn't
related to the software or to Ancestry.com.)
In a post
on the Ancestry blog, Senior Vice President of Product
Management Kendall Hulet said Family Tree Maker will no longer be
sold as of Dec. 31, 2015. Ancestry.com will continue to provide
support and fix bugs "at least through Jan. 1, 2017." During that
time, Tree Sync, the feature that syncs your Ancestry Member Tree
with Family Tree Maker software, will continue to work.
Why retire a popular program? "We’ve taken a hard look at the
declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being
able to continue to provide product enhancements and support that
our users need," Hulet writes.
Software in other fields is moving to versions available only via
the cloud by subscription, such as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign
software. Advantages include the ability to automatically roll out
updates, access from multiple devices, and online data storage.
But switching can be a pain, especially when you're using older
desktop software that's not compatible with the cloud version, and
you need to find new tools or create a new workflow, and you feel
forced to keep information in the cloud, where you have less control
over it (remember the Ancestry.com
DDoS attack last year, when the site was inaccessible for
My guess is that Ancestry.com will try to move Family Tree Maker
users to Ancestry Member Trees—hopefully, by enhancing the online
trees (at least for subscribers) with features such as reporting and
easier source citation.
If you do go with a member tree (or you already have one), make sure
you download the records you find to your computer. Otherwise, if
ever you let your subscription lapse, you'll lose access to them.
If you want to stick with a desktop application, look for offers
from other software companies who want to acquire former Family Tree
Update: Several other genealogy software companies have set up special pricing and information for Family Tree Maker users looking to find another desktop program. Here are links to those we know of:
Software Toolkit on FamilyTreeMagazine.com can help you scout out your options.
Lisa Louise Cooke has helpful
perspective and user tips for dealing with the end of Family Tree
Maker on the Genealogy Gems blog.
Update: Here's another helpful post from Genea-Musings, on short-term and long-term options for what to do with your data.
can read Kendall Hulet's announcement on the Ancestry blog here.
Ancestry.com | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 09:20:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 08 December 2015
The Terrible Summer of 1897: Finding My Third-Great-Grandmother
Posted by Diane
I've written before about my third-great-grandmother Elizabeth
Teipel, who married Louis E. Thoss in 1876 and died sometime between
the birth of their son, Henry, in 1894 and the 1900 census.
Your Research Obstacles Digital Pack is designed to help you
with genealogy stumpers like mine—finding out when, where and
why Elizabeth died.
A few months ago, my hope for an answer was revived by a
mention of Elizabeth's death in her mother's will in connection with 1895 loan to Elizabeth's husband.
Ancestry.com has digitized Kentucky death records covering this period. I searched for Elizabeth T*oss born
1857 in Ohio, with a death in 1895 plus or minus two years in
Kentucky. I swear I've run this search before. I must've done something
different and wonderful this time, or my mind was more open.
When I narrowed the results to birth, marriage and death records, I
Was Elisabeth Toss, who died Aug. 29, 1897, the same Elisibeth whose
son Bernard died just over a month earlier, on July 23? And was she
Examining Bernard's death certificate, I noted he died at age 10
from "overheating while convalescing from ... " followed by what
looks like the beginning of "diphtheria"
but runs off the page.
Elisabeth died at age 40—the right age to my relative—of "collapse,"
with the predisposing condition "birth of hydrocephalus and rupture
of ..." which also runs off the page (as if the documents were
trimmed during binding). The spaces for her parents' names were
But most interesting was the records' identical place of death: "1230
Garrad Ave." (I guessed this was Garrard, a local street.) Not an address I had for my
third-great-grandparents. Nor did I have a Bernard as their son, a possible case of a child whose short life goes
undiscovered due to the missing 1890 census.
Things were looking promising, but I had to do some work to find
out whether Bernard and Elisabeth were my relatives:
- Look for a record with the Thosses at 1230 Garrard
in 1897. It wasn't hard to do in Ancestry.com's city
directories collection, although I had to find the 1897
directory and browse rather than search. They can't have lived
there very long, as directories for surrounding years list the family
elsewhere. It's hard to keep the Elizabeths, Edwards and Louises straight, so I've labeled them:
- Search for Bernard's baptismal record in the Kenton County
Public Library's (KCPL) GenKY
index. I ordered a copy of the record for "Thoss, Bern. Lud." in
The Latin record from St. Joseph Church showed Bernard's birth on "die 26 Augusti" to "Ludovici Thoss et
- Look for newspaper obituaries or death announcements for
Bernard and Elisabeth. There was nothing in the largest local
paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer. I'd searched a few times for Thoss KCPL's Northern
Kentucky newspaper index, which includes the Kentucky
Post, but this time I typed Toss. I ordered those records, too.
I've also looked for a death and baptismal record for the infant
born with hydrocephaly referenced in Elizabeth's cause of death, who would have been the fourth child Elizabeth and Louis E. lost, but I didn't find anything. That must have been an awful summer.
My takeaways from this process?
Your Research Obstacles puts together expert books and video
lessons to help you solve your genealogy problems. Visit
ShopFamilyTree.com to see what's in this brick wall-busting
- Search with alternate name spellings and wildcards.
- Don't rely on the census alone to provide family members' names.
- When one record lacks information that will answer your question, look for another.
- Look for another record even when one does supply the information you need.
- Don't give up your search for answers (but setting it aside for awhile may help).
Tuesday, 08 December 2015 10:48:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 01 December 2015
Best Sources to Find for Your Czech or Slovak Ancestor's Place of Origin
Posted by Diane
Between 1850 and 1914, around 400,000 Czechs and 620,000 Slovaks
flocked to America's shores. Finding your immigrant ancestor's place
of origin can be hard no matter where he or she is from, but
changing Eastern European borders and unfamiliar alphabets add to
the challenge of tracing Czech and Slovak ancestry.
Start with these sources for clues to the birthplaces of your Czech
and Slovak ancestors:
- Church records of baptisms, marriages and funerals
- Alien registration records (AR-2), which non-naturalized
citizens had to complete between 1940 and 1944
- Home sources, such as letters (be sure to check the envelopes)
and family Bibles
Want to learn more about your Czech and Slovak roots? In our How
to Research Your Czech and Slovak Ancestry webinar on Tuesday,
Dec. 15, Lisa Alzo (author of the Family
Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide) will show
- Newspaper obituaries, including foreign-language papers
As always, everyone who registers will recieve a PDF of the
presentation slides and unlimited access to a recording of the
more details about our How to Research Your Czech and Slovak
Ancestry webinar and register at ShopFamilyTree.com.
- how to begin your Czech and Slovak genealogy research
- what records are available and how to access them
- how to overcome the language barrier and understand naming
International Genealogy | Webinars
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 15:53:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)