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<March 2015>

More Links

# Friday, March 06, 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.
You 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, products ( is a show sponsor) and a trip to a Hollywood movie premiere.
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 relatives."

    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, March 06, 2015 2:34:16 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 04, 2015
This Weekend Only: Search Genealogy Records FREE!
Posted by Diane

You now have plans this weekend. Subscription genealogy website is giving everyone free access to the site's records this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That includes collections such as
  • 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
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.

If you already subscribe to Findmypast, you'll benefit from the free-access period, too: Their subscriptions will be extended by three days.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 11:30:55 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, March 03, 2015
New, Free Digitized Books Site Launches for Genealogy Searches
Posted by Diane

A new, free genealogy website,, will help you search for and download digitized books with family history information. Books come from FamilySearch, the Allen County Public Library and elsewhere.

You can keyword-search book texts or titles. Here's the beginning of results for my text search for Teipel:

GenGophers website

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 those.

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 the Foundation for On-line Genealogy, which sponsors the 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, too). 

Free Databases | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, March 03, 2015 2:54:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
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 Historical 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.

Here, I'll 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 map (with a legend here) that includes large-farm names, churches, windmills, meadows and more:

    Vechta, Reichsamt fur Landesaufnahme, 1904

Lower Saxony found this:

Lower Saxony, D. Lizars, Edinburgh, 1831

Oldenburg found this:

Nordwestiches Deutschland, Justus Perthes, Gotha, 1821

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.

Historical Maps of Europe Premium Collection

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!

German roots | Maps | Research Tips
Tuesday, March 03, 2015 1:30:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, February 27, 2015
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • Subscription site Findmypast added several new UK, Irish and Australian record collections for Findmypast Friday, including 1832 cholera victims, British Trade Union membership registers,  Irish newspapers, New South Wales cemetery transcriptions and more. Read more about the updated databases on the Findmypast Fridays home page.

FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy TV | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 27, 2015 3:41:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Group Genealogy Effort Underway to ID Mystery Photo of Buffalo Soldiers
Posted by Diane

Genealogist Luckie Daniels, a blogger at Our Georgia Roots, is leading an effort to identify a recently discovered mystery photo of African-American Buffalo Soldiers.

(Here's a larger version of the image.)

A Taos, NM, woman discovered the old photo sandwiched behind an illustration in a cheap frame she'd purchased years ago at an estate sale in Los Angeles. (A good reminder to look inside old framed images you might be planning to get rid of.) An auction house appraiser told her the 10 men in military uniforms were members of the US Cavalry, 9th Regiment, Company G.

The Buffalo Soldiers were the first peacetime all-black regiments of the regular US Army. They originally were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, raised in 1866, but eventually included the 9th Cavalry, 24th Infantry and 25th Infantry regiments.

Historians disagree on exactly how they came to be called "Buffalo Soldiers," a name that likely originated from the Indians these soldiers were known for fighting. 

When the owner of the photo recently visited the Taos News for an interview about the image, Daniels, a staff member there, happened to be nearby. She started the blog Where Honor Is Due to centralize the efforts of interested researchers across the country. "All insights and leads are welcome," she says.

The blog's most recent post shares an image of 9th Cavalry Troop L wearing baseball uniforms, spotted in a video produced by the New Mexico History Museum and PBS, which might help narrow a time frame and location for the mystery photo. Buffalo Soldiers began playing competitive baseball around the 1890s.

You'll find a good introduction to this story on the Taos News website, and you can keep up with the ongoing research at Where Honor Is Due (here's the first post).

African-American roots | Military records | Photos
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 10:37:56 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, February 20, 2015
Genealogy News Corral: Feb. 16-20
Posted by Diane

  • MyHeritage is adding millions of Scandinavian genealogy records to its collections, most of which aren't available anywhere else online. The entire 1930 Danish census (which includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands) is now on the site. All other available Danish censuses from 1787 to 1930 will be added over the next two years, as well as parish records from 1646 to 1915.
Also being added are Swedish household examination rolls from 1880 to 1920. About 22 million of the 54 million records are already on MyHeritage, with the remaining records scheduled to go online before the end of June 2015. Read more details on the MyHeritage blog

The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) has added an Early Irish Birth Index to its website. The index contains more than 5,000 records of alternative sources for birth information in Ireland—censuses, newspapers, diaries and more. The birth  index is available only to IGRS members, however, its free to search for just a surname and view the number of matches. IGRS also has a marriage database that anyone can search for free.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | MyHeritage | UK and Irish roots
Friday, February 20, 2015 12:26:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, February 19, 2015
FamilySearch, NEHGS Form Resource-Sharing Partnership
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch and the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have announced a new resource-sharing partnership, and at the same time NEHGS revealed changes coming to its website.

Under the multi-year agreement, FamilySearch will provide NEHGS with more than 2 billion records from its global collections at and its online Family Tree. These records will be added to the newly upgraded, as well as an online family tree experience NEHGS is planning for the site.

The FamilySearch records NEHGS will add to its website include US census transcriptions (1790–1930); civil registrations for Italy, Germany, Scotland, and the Netherlands; English birth, christening, marriage, and death record transcriptions dating from the 15th century through 20th centuries; and census and vital records for states across the United States.

In return, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members will get free access to the genealogy databases at LDS church members can register for this access on the website (where they also can get free access to, Findmypast and MyHeritage).

Additionally, NEHGS will provide millions of its records to FamilySearch, including US and Canadian cemetery records, old tax records, early American military records, early New England marriage records, historical newspapers, and more.

FamilySearch | Genealogy societies
Thursday, February 19, 2015 1:49:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 18, 2015
"Genealogy Roadshow" Episode 6 Investigates Family Mysteries in Philadelphia
Posted by Diane

Last night's "Genealogy Roadshow" visited the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. This was the last regular episode this season, but it looks like next week, we'll see a "Best of Genealogy Roadshow" season finale with highlights from both seasons.

The stories, along with genealogy tips and resources gleaned from them, included:
  • A Methodist minister had heard that her ancestor was a horse thief and counterfeiter who'd given his spoils away, Robin Hood-style. Kenyatta Berry revealed that the great-grandfather, Ed Harmon, was indeed part of "Boss" Buck's gang of horse thieves in an area known as the Pennsylvania Wilds. Newspapers and court records recounted how gang members were arrested for trying to sell counterfeit money. There was no evidence, though, that the gang gave away their money, but Berry said later records did indicate that Harmon managed to become a law-abiding citizen.
  • Mary Tedesco helped a family get to the bottom of the story about a great-grandfather, Charley Flynn, who'd gone missing. Tedesco noted that the show's researchers were suspicious when they discovered the July 18, 1929, date of birth for Flynn's younger son was the same date Flynn's wife gave as her husband's death date. They found no evidence he died that day or even that year—but they did find a 1989 obituary with a matching name and other details. Charley appears to have simply left his wife in 1929, and later married another woman.
  • A young lady with her aunt and uncle brought a family story that their relative had started the world's longest-burning fire. It turned out that her great-great-grandfather, a miner, had been involved in a long, contentious strike in Ohio. A small group miners set the New Straitsville mine on fire, not expecting it to be burning more than 100 years later. The only person to admit his involvement never named his accomplices.
  • A woman with a family story about a seafaring ancestor found out her third-great-grandfather John Griffis was indeed the captain of a merchant ship, who was authorized by Congress to act as a privateer during the Quasi-war with France from 1798 to 1800. His ship's arrivals and departures were reported in newspapers, helping Roadshow researchers trace his whereabouts.
  • An African-American family had a story that a formerly enslaved ancestor, Orin Fulp, was fathered by a slaveowner. Berry traced him back in census records, comparing his 1910 listing as "mulatto" to his 1880 listing as "black." She pointed out that former slaves didn't always take the last name of their owner, but in this case, post-slavery census records show Orin farming on land he'd purchased near other Fulp families, white and black. (Use our guide in the January/February 2015 Family Tree Magazine to trace enslaved African-American ancestors.) No paper records provide a conclusive link, but a DNA test showed a match between the guest and a white family, suggesting her family story is true.

You can watch the Feb. 17 episode of "Genealogy Roadshow" on the PBS website.

I almost forgot: You can apply online to have your family mystery investigated on next season's "Genealogy Roadshow."

African-American roots | Genealogy TV | Jewish roots
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 12:39:24 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Exploring Your Family Tree in FamilySearch's New Family Discovery Center
Posted by Diane

Something cool I got to try during last week's RootsTech/FGS conference in Salt Lake City is the new FamilySearch Discovery Center, which I can best describe as an interactive museum about your family history.

The Discovery Center I visited is the pilot, located inside the FamilySearch Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Another one will be in Seattle, and a third will be in the Museum of the American Revolution, to open in 2017 in Philadelphia. Each center's exhibits can be customized to its location.

You'll get the most out of a visit if you have a FamilySearch family tree, but you can get a taste of the experience even without a tree. Either way, you'll receive images from your visit via email.

When you arrive, sign in on an iPad, either with your FamilySearch login, or as a guest by entering your name, birthdate, and sex, and taking a selfie. Then you carry the iPad with you from station to station, docking it at each one. Stations use your name, ancestor information (if you have a FamilySearch family tree), and uploaded images and stories to help you experience your family history.

For example, the first station showed me the meaning of my first name, stats on my first and last name, and events from my birth year (you can customize this to show highlights from any year during your life).

Another station used an Xbox Kinect-like device to let you pose in the ethnic dress of your ancestors (depending where they're from) and take a snapshot. If you have a FamilySearch family tree, the ethnicities are chosen for you based on birthplaces in your tree. Otherwise, you can choose from about two dozen.

Here I am as a (somewhat idealized) German fräulein.

The station below maps your ancestors' origins and places of residence as recorded in your FamilySearch family tree. On the touchscreen, you can pan around the map, select profiles from your family tree, and view photos and stories for those people. 

This one is really best if you have a FamilySearch tree. Otherwise, you'll see a map with statistics on immigration over time.

The next station takes you inside a room that evokes a time machine, with a large curved screen showing a living room in a home, and a large touchscreen that displays your FamilySearch family tree. The living room changes to reflect the time period of the person you select in your tree, and you see stories (not from your tree) about objects on the screen.

Although this station has an impressive setup, it was less personal than the others. My tour guide told me this exhibit is being tweaked because visitors aren't spending much time here.

Two story recording rooms—one for individuals (on the left in the photo below) and one that also can accommodate groups—let you record your answers to a personal interview conducted by a man on a screen.

You can choose a group of questions based on your age, and some of them are pretty deep (for example, what do I consider my greatest accomplishment and my worst failure, and what have I learned from each). In the future, people might be able to get their questions ahead of time, so they can think about the answers. You can bring photos on a flash drive to view and talk about, and your interview will be emailed to you.

The final station is a review, showing you the screenshots of your experience that you'll also receive later by email (that's me below in Armenian dress, the closest option to my Haddad ancestors' origin in Syria).

I found the Discovery Center a fascinating experience, one with the potential to get visitors excited about their family stories and help them leave a legacy of their own.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:29:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]