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Monday, 22 February 2016
Google Retires Its Free Picasa Photo-editing Software
Posted by Diane
Have you been relying on Google's free Picasa software to edit,
store and share your digital photos and scans of old family photos?
Then you've probably heard that Google has announced Picasa'a
retirement. Photo-editing will still work if you have Picasa
installed on your computer, but support ends March 15.
Photos you've uploaded to Picasa Web Albums will be automatically
transferred to Google Photos on May 1. There, storage is free as
long as your photos don't surpass the upper limits set on
resolution. Google Photos has tools to enhance and edit your photos,
though not as extensively as other options. Sharing also is limited.
can read more about Google Photos in this PC Mag review (which
says it's "not the best option out there").
On the lookout for new options to edit and preserve digitized family
photos? Want to learn how you can digitally repair tears, spots,
fading and other photo damage at home—inexpensively? In Family Tree
for Genealogists one-week online workshop, How
To Archive Family Photographs author Denise Levenick
will show you a range of editing tools and techniques including
Photoshop Elements, PicMonkey and others.
for Genealogists workshop takes place online Feb. 29-March 6,
and includes educational videos, as well as written lessons and a
conference message board for asking Denise questions. See
a workshop program and register at FamilyTreeUniversity.com.
Monday, 22 February 2016 10:41:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 17 February 2016
"Finding Your Roots" Reveals Family Tree Surprises for LL Cool J & Sean Combs
Posted by Diane
This week's episode of "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates
Jr." showed the power of genetic genealogy in revealing answers
about family history.
Gates revealed the family histories of two African-American hip-hop
artists, LL Cool J (whose real name is James Todd Smith) and Sean
John "P. Diddy" Combs. The genetic genealogy surprises came in LL
Cool J's family tree.
(Spoilers ahead if you haven't watched yet!)
LL Cool J's mother, Ondrea, ended up genetically matching a woman
whose last name didn't show up anywhere in the family tree. The
amount of shared DNA indicated a first cousin relationship.
Researchers tested Ondrea's cousins on both sides of her family and
found no first cousin relationship.
Ondrea's parents Ellen Hightower
and Eugene Smith—the loving grandparents who helped raise LL Cool J—weren't her biological
parents. Gates delivered this news in a private phone call that
wasn't part of the show.
The match's nieces also took DNA tests, and one shared enough DNA
with Ondrea to be half-sibling. So researchers knew the name of her
biological father: Nathaniel Christie Lewis, a professional boxer in
the 1930s. But there was no Ondrea Lewis in New York City birth
Ondrea's birth certificate didn't name any parents, and it was
issued a year after her birth, but it did contain the number of her
original birth record. Back in New York City's birth register, that
certificate number belonged to an Ondra Jolly, born to a woman named
Ethel Mae Jolly.
If you've tested your DNA and you're ready to use your results to
explore your genealogy, get the guidance you need in Family Tree
Genealogy 201 online course, starting Feb. 2.
Although all the research was condensed into a single
episode, genetic genealogist CeCe Moore said
on Facebook that her part alone took hundreds of hours of work
to sort out the DNA evidence. Moore also shared
an interview Gates gave about LL Cool J's family tree.
In Combs' family tree, the show's research team discovered a long
line of free black ancestors in Maryland, which Gates said is
extremely unusual for an African-American. One man, who was captured
and accused of being a runaway slave, later volunteered for the US
Colored Troops in the Civil War (see
our tips on researching US Colored Troops soldiers here).
this episode on the "Finding Your Roots" website.
African-American roots | Genealogy TV
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 10:48:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Friday, 12 February 2016
Searchable Irish Catholic Parish Registers Coming to Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane
Those searchable Irish
Catholic parish registers that are coming to Findmypast in March
also will be available on Ancestry.com
That includes 10 million baptism, marriage and burial
records from 1,000 parishes in what's now the republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland. The collection consists of mostly mostly
baptisms and marriages; the handful of burials are largely from
Ancestry.com already has some Roman Catholic parish records,
accounting for the "55 million Irish records" total cited in
yesterday's press release.
Both companies' announcements say it's the first time the record
images have been linked with a searchable index online.
Trying to trace your Irish roots? Our Irish
Genealogy Crash Course on-demand webinar will help you find
genealogy records and tackle challenges unique to ancestry
research in Ireland. It's
available from ShopFamilyTree.com as a download you can watch
Ancestry.com | findmypast | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 12 February 2016 10:17:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, 10 February 2016
How Did "Finding Your Roots" Find the Military Ancestry of John McCain, Julianne Moore and Patricia Arquette?
Posted by Diane
This week's "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr." focused
on military service in the ancestry of Sen. John McCain
and actors Julianne
Moore and Patricia
Arquette. (And it just so happens that our
military records webinar is next week—I'll tell you more about
that in a minute.)
- McCain followed the footsteps of his father and
grandfather, both four-star admirals in the Navy. Researchers
discovered that McCain's Confederate second-great-grandfather
William Alexander McCane served under the brutal Gen.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, deserted, was captured by the Union, and was imprisoned in the notorious Irving
Block Prison in Memphis. Gates pointed out the
similarities to McCain's own horrific experience as a POW in
- Moore (whose real name is Julie Anne Smith), grew up in
what she described as a "peripatetic" military family. Her
ancestor Peter M. Smith fought in the Mexican War, and was among
the troops who successfully stormed
Chapultepec Castle Sept. 13, 1847.
The episode didn't go deeply into the historical records that
provided the information, but we did get a glimpse of a Civil War
muster roll for Pvt. McCane.
- Arquette was surprised to learn she had a Civil War
ancestor, one of the "Hundred
Days Men" who enlisted for short periods to serve as
guards and laborers, freeing up more-experienced soldiers for
combat duty. Her sixth- and seventh-great-grandfathers,
respectively, served in the American
Revolution and the French
and Indian War.
The basic record type for learning about your ancestor's military
service from the Revolutionary War up through the Philippine
Insurrection is the Compiled Military Service Record, or CMSR.
According to professional genealogist Shelley K. Bishop, author of a
service records guide in the upcoming May/June 2016 Family
Tree Magazine, the War Department created CMSRs for enlisted
men to facilitate processing later military pension applications.
A CMSR consists of a jacket with cards that summarize information
from muster rolls, hospital rolls, prison records, payment vouchers
Depending on the war, you might find indexes to CMSRs and/or
digitized CMSRs on genealogy websites such as Ancestry.com and
Fold3. CMSRs that aren't imaged online might be available on microfilm, or
you might need to order
copies from the National Archives.
From there, you can look for military pension applications,
regimental histories, state adjutant general records, battlefield
maps and other records.
Shelley's article will help you find CMSRs, and even before that
issue comes out, learn how to research several types of military
records in our Feb. 25 webinar How
to Find Ancestor Military Records (see
more details about it and register in ShopFamilyTree.com).
You can watch
the full military heritage episode of "Finding Your Roots With
Henry Louis Gates, Jr." on the PBS website.
Celebrity Roots | Genealogy TV | Military records | Webinars
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 10:51:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 09 February 2016
MyHeritage Releases Update to Free Family Tree Builder Software
Posted by Diane
MyHeritage launched version 8 of
its free Family Builder desktop genealogy software, which syncs to
your online tree on the MyHeritage website (you also can edit your
online tree on your smartphone with the MyHeritage app).
Version 8 looks
similar to the previous version, but the infrastructure of the program has
been totally rewritten. That has made Family Tree Builder faster and more
efficient, and it now supports trees of up to 500,000 individuals.
more about the new Family Tree Builder features on the MyHeritage
blog. You can download
Family Tree Builder for Windows or Mac from the MyHeritage website.
Genealogy Software | MyHeritage
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 10:36:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Findmypast News From RootsTech: Searchable Irish Catholic Parish Registers and More
Posted by Diane
Remember the National
Library of Ireland's Irish Catholic parish registers that went
online for free in July, and how the digital images on that
site aren't searchable? Genealogy website Findmypast just announced it will
launch an indexed, searchable collection of these records in March.
I can't wait! I'm hoping this will help me find a place of origin
for my Irish immigrant ancestors. See
more details on the Irish Genealogy News blog.
Findmypast also has released 33 million US marriage records in
partnership with FamilySearch (so you also can search these records
on the free FamilySearch website). Findmypast will continue to add
to this collection, which eventually will contain more than 450
million names from 2,800 US counties. This first installment of the
collection is free to search through Monday, Feb. 15. Read
more details here.
At last week's RootsTech conference,
Findmypast announced it has formed partnerships with several other
genealogy companies so the sites' record collections can be embedded
within the partner products. Partners include:
Want to take advantage of the growing genealogy record collections at Findmypast? Our Findmypast web guide can help!
findmypast | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 10:31:10 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, 02 February 2016
Family Tree Maker Returns PLUS Ancestry Partners With RootsMagic
Posted by Diane
Those of you wondering what you'll do with your family tree now that Ancestry.com
Family Tree Maker genealogy software will probably welcome
these two new options for storing your computerized family tree
data and records:
- Ancestry.com announced today it has sold Family Tree Maker
software to a company called Software
MacKiev (which has been the developer of Family Tree Maker
for Mac for six years). Family Tree Maker owners will receive
updates and be able to purchase new versions from Software
MacKiev, and they'll continue to be able to save their trees to
Ancestry.com, use hints and search Ancestry.com from within the
software. (The announcement doesn't specifically mention syncing, though.)
Update: Here's how Ancestry.com responded to my question about syncing: "Family Tree Maker will continue to have syncing capability with Ancestry trees, however this feature may evolve as Software MacKiev updates the software.
"It will use different underlying technology than our current TreeSync but it effectively provides the same basic functionality of allowing the user to keep data in their online tree and data in their desktop tree consistent."
- Ancestry.com also announced a new agreement with RootsMagic to connect the
Ancestry.com website to RootsMagic genealogy software by the end
of 2016. That means you'll be able to use RootsMagic as your
desktop software while using your Ancestry Member Tree as your
RootsMagic does say its software will sync with Ancestry trees, as well as directly import Family Tree Maker files (no need to export a GEDCOM first). Read more details and a Q&A on the RootsMagic website.
"We have heard your concerns and are working to provide the solutions you requested," states the announcement from Ancestry.com. "These new agreements will make it possible to preserve your work on Ancestry and Family Tree Maker and enable future features and benefits to help you discover your family history."
Wondering whether all the fuss could've been avoided when Family Tree Maker's retirement was announced in December? You're not alone. Ancestry.com spokesperson Matthew Deighton says that the software purchase contract wasn't yet signed when the announcement was made.
For more details on these agreements, see the Ancestry.com
Ancestry.com | Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 20:44:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
3 Reasons to Travel to the Old Country
Posted by Diane
No matter how convenient it may be these days to research ancestors without leaving home, you probably still dream of visiting your family’s homeland. Heritage travel is a booming industry and can provide you with an opportunity to go beyond the same old research strategies and discover those details you can’t get from online databases, books or microfilmed records.
Lisa A. Alzo, guest blogger and author of The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide shares three reasons you should do onsite research in your ancestral homeland:
- Meet up with long-lost cousins. We often start our research by tracing immigrant ancestors, but what about those ancestors who remained in Europe and didn’t make the journey across the ocean? By simply visiting an ancestral town or village, you can run into descendants who still live there and can show you around. And with blogs, Facebook and Twitter, it’s easier than ever to find and make plans with long-lost cousins, then stay connected with them once you return home.
- Walk in ancestors’ footsteps. If you’re yearning to see where your ancestors lived, stand in the church where Great-grandpa was baptized, enjoy traditional cuisine and understand what life was like for your ancestors before they made the journey to America, then practicing immersion genealogy can provide an opportunity like no other. With a trip to your ancestral homeland, you can experience firsthand the customs and traditions of your heritage, as well as discover more details about where and how your ancestors lived, worked and worshiped.
- Locate hard-to-get records. Contrary to popular belief, not all genealogical documents are online. The proof of your grandmother’s date of birth or details about the death of her parents could be physically stored in the dusty old church books or in the village’s civil registration office or archives. By visiting such repositories in person, you can get information that might not be easily accessible otherwise. When planning for onsite research, always contact the priest or staff in advance so they can better assist you during your visit and inform you of their availability or any planned closings or scheduling conflicts. And, if you aren’t comfortable with the language, hire a professional researcher who can assist with navigating the policies and procedures and help you communicate with staff or villagers who don’t speak English; look for recommendations from ethnic genealogical societies.
Learn more about heritage travel and get tips and resources for preparing a visit to Poland, the Czech Republic or Slovakia in The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide.
Czech roots | Polish roots | Slovak roots
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 13:55:50 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Find Ancestors in Fold3's Free Black History Records in February
Posted by Diane
In honor of African-American
History Month this month, genealogy website Fold3 is offering
free access to its Black
History Collection of records through the end of February.
... and more titles. You'll need to set up a free Fold3 registration
to take advantage of this offer. Start searching the free
African-American genealogy records on Fold3 here.
- Washington, DC court slave and emancipation records
- South Carolina estate inventories and bills of sale
- US Colored Troops Civil War service records
- Southern Claims Commission records (read about
this collections' contents here)
- War Department Military Intelligence Division records on
If you're researching black ancestors, you'll
find helpful websites listed on FamilyTreeMagazine.com. A few
of my favorite guide we've printed in Family Tree Magazine
for researching African-American roots include:
- The African-American
Great Migration, which helps you locate ancestors who were
part of the mass population shift from the rural South to
Northern cities from 1910 to 1940
Ancestors Research Guide, which offers a strategy and
resources for discovering enslaved African-Americans
Black Newspapers, a guide to finding and researching
ancestors in historical newspapers that were published primarily
for an African-American audience
Watching a show like PBS' "Finding Your Roots" can be helpful because you see what records might exist for your ancestors. Here's a link to our post about the season premiere.
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 13:17:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)