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<May 2015>

More Links

# Thursday, May 21, 2015
11 Free Genealogy Sites to Research Americans Who've Died in Military Service
Posted by Diane

Memorial Day, coming up Monday, May 25, honors Americans who died in military service to their country (more on the origins of Memorial Day here). To help honor those people, we've gathered these websites where you can search for those in your family tree who died serving in US wars:
  • Nationwide Gravesite Locator database from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, which catalogs burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA national cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, other military and Department of the Interior cemeteries, and private cemeteries (after 1997) when the grave is marked with a government marker
Don't stop with these resources—look also for print and digitized books naming those in your ancestors' area who died in a particular war (these may have been published by a genealogical society or a state adjutant general's office), and try to get burial records if you can find the place of burial.

Update: I received an email that is offering free US military records through May 25, so I wanted to let you know. Here's the link to start searching:

Trace your military ancestors with help from our Online Military Records on-demand webinar or a war-specific guide, such as our Civil War Genealogy Value Pack. | Military records | Research Tips
Thursday, May 21, 2015 11:22:29 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Free Colonial & Early American Military Databases on
Posted by Diane

In observance of Memorial Day, the website will feature several free databases to help you search for patriots in early American and colonial wars. The databases, free now through Wed., May 27, include:
  • Colonial Soldiers and Officers in New England, 1620-1775

  • Massachusetts Revolutionary War Pensioners’ Receipts 1799-1807

  • Massachusetts Revolutionary War Pensioners’ Receipts 1829-1837
Find more information here about these record collections. You'll need a free guest registration to to use these databases. Click the link at to register, then start searching for your Patriots.

Military records
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 3:37:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
7 Canadian Genealogy Tips
Posted by Diane

Upper and Lower Canada, 1838, David Rumsey Map Collection

Looking for ancestors in Canada? Whether you're a native Canadian or you're from the United States, you'll find guidance in our Canadian Genealogy Crash Course webinar on May 26, with professional researcher Janice Nickerson.

You can get more details on the webinar in, and in the mean time, let these Canadian family history tips tide you over.
  • In 1791, French-speaking Lower Canada was separated from English-speaking Upper Canada (these are shown in the 1838 map above). Confederation unified Canada in 1867. The Canada Act of 1982 made Canada a self-governing parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
  • Places are important to know because most records were created and stored locally. With 10 provinces and three territories, Canada's borders have shifted as new administrative divisions formed. The Geographical Names of Canada database can help you figure out place name changes. 
  • Starting in the 1870s, the Canadian government encouraged homesteading through land grants in the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, attracting many Europeans and Americans. Gold rushes, railroads and lumber work attracted many Asians to western Canada.
  • Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds federal records such as censuses, passenger lists and military records. Access searchable databases, record images and research guides in the Genealogy and Family History section of its website.

Ready to dig deeper into your Canadian roots with more tips and in-depth, expert advice? Register for our May 26 Canadian Genealogy Crash Course webinar in

Canadian roots | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 11:16:07 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, May 19, 2015
A Simple Four-Part System for Naming Digital Photo Files
Posted by Diane

Guest blogger Denise Levenick, who helps you manage your digital photo collection in the new book How To Archive Family Photos, is sharing these file-naming tips this week:

The key to organizing your photo collection is a simple and logical naming system. Start with simple file names that don't require a key to abbreviations. And make it a habit to import and rename images soon after a photo shoot or scanning session.

Long, complicated file naming schemes are difficult to maintain and cumbersome to use. The end of the name may be cut off in your computer folder view or printout. More words give more opportunity for misspellings or inconsistency.

As you develop your file-naming scheme, create a File-naming Cheat Sheet and post it next to your computer to help you maintain consistency. Here's a cheat sheet for my four-part file-naming scheme:

The four parts of my digital photo file names are
  1. Name: Surname-firstname
  2. Date: YYYYMMDD
  3. Location: from largest to smallest with two letter abbreviation used for states
  4. Event: obit, birth-cert, etc.
I separate the parts with an underscore, and use a dash to separate words in each part. The names are short and consistent, with all lowercase characters. Here's an example:
Whatever file-naming scheme you adopt, your files will be easier to organize and access if it’s simple and consistent for all your digital images. Learn more about working with scanned and newly captured digital images in How to Archive Family Photos and at my blog, The Family Curator.

Genealogy books | Photos | Tech Advice
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 4:07:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Monday, May 11, 2015
Why You Really Need a Digital Asset Management Workflow
Posted by Diane

This guest post with important tips for managing your growing digital image collection is from Denise May Levenick, author of the new book How to Archive Family Photos:

Genealogists who juggle hundreds of digital images can learn a few things from professional photographers.

When pros moved from film photography to digital media, they needed a comprehensive system to manage all those photo files. They developed a strategy called Digital Asset Management (DAM).

Like pro photographers, genealogists need different versions of their digital files—for sharing via email, archiving for the long term, and posting on the web. Also like the pros, genealogists need to add file names and organization that allows for easy access in the future.

In my new book How to Archive Family Photos, you’ll learn how to set up a system that suits your needs and helps you easily accomplish the seven basic steps of Digital Photo Management for genealogists:

1. Capture photos on your phone, digital camera, scanner or tablet
2. Import image files from your capture devices to one location
3. Rename image files from the generic device-generated names to something related to the image content
4. Back up files to your digital Image Library
5. Add content-related tags and keywords to your image files
6. Archive your images in a permanent, off-site location
7. Edit, export, and share select photos for others to enjoy.

Each step moves you toward curating, organizing, and identifying your digital files for long-term archiving and access. My book offers specific workflow strategies and tools for the Mobile Genealogist, the Family Photographer, the Vacation Shutterbug and others.

You’ll find inspiration and practical guidance in How to Archive Family Photos to help you get control of your digital photo chaos and become a more efficient family historian.
Genealogy books | Photos | saving and sharing family history | Tech Advice
Monday, May 11, 2015 11:25:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
10 Types of Apps Every Genealogist Should Have
Posted by Diane

When I first got my Android tablet, I thought I'd be able to use it like a computer, and I was disappointed when I couldn't. Although my tablet is a lot easier to carry around than my bulky laptop, it spent a few genealogy conferences at home.

I just didn't know what a handy genealogy assistant a tablet (or iPad) could be. In our upcoming Maximize Your iPad (or Tablet) for Genealogy online workshop, you'll learn how to take advantage of your tablet's tools and convenience to—as tech wizard Lisa Louise Cooke would say—turn your device into a "genealogy powerhouse."

Powerful apps optimized for mobile devices are a big part of what can make your tablet or iPad an essential genealogy tool, so they'll be covered thoroughly in the workshop.

Here's a sneak peek: 10 types of apps every genealogist should have on his or her mobile device, along with suggestions for each:
  • Note-taking: Evernote is highly popular with genealogists for taking and organizing notes (which can include record images), and it includes a web clipper. Microsoft One-note also is popular.
  • File storage and transfer: When you use your device to photograph records or microfilm at a library, you'll want a way to easily transfer those images to your computer at home. Dropbox and File Transfer (iPad/Phone and Android) are two options.
  • Library searching: WorldCat has a mobile app available in beta for iPad/Phone and Android. See if libraries in your ancestral locales have mobile apps, too, which might let you search the catalog and find your way around the library.
  • Recording: Interviewy (iPad/Phone) is a good app for recording oral history interviews.
  • Blog reading: Feedly is great for keeping up with genealogy blogs, as is Flipboard.
  • Storytelling/keeping: FamilySearch Memories lets you take photos, record memories and interviews, write stories, and add them to your FamilySearch family tree. Storypress (for the iPad/Phone) and Keepy let you take a picture and record audio or video to go with it.

The Maximize Your iPad (or Tablet) for Genealogy online workshop starts Friday, May 22, and runs for a week. It includes six video classes, advice from Lisa Louise Cooke, and an exclusive workshop message board. View the workshop program and get registered at

Family Tree University | Genealogy Apps | Tech Advice
Monday, May 11, 2015 10:49:04 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Free WWII Records on Fold3 Through May 15
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Fold3 is making its WWII content free  through Friday, May 15, in observance of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945.

Free records include:
  • Interactive USS Arizona Memorial
  • "Old Man's Draft" registration cards
  • Historical photos
  • war crimes case files
  • Army and Navy Judge Advocate General files
  • Holocaust records collection
... and others. Click here to see a list of WWII collection contents.

Click here to search Fold3's World War II collection. You'll be prompted to sign up for a free basic account before you can view a record. (I did run into a free trial signup a couple of times after modifying a search; if that happens, just return to the main WWII collection search page and run your search from there.)

Here's Fold3's blog post about this free records offer. If you have problems accessing the records, you can contact Fold3 here.

Fold3 | Military records
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 2:57:02 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, May 04, 2015
25 Keepsake Family Photo Projects
Posted by Diane

I've been dying to give you a look at this book by Denise Levenick, aka the Family Curator:

How to Archive Family Photos is about how to manage your collection of digital photos—of kids, grandkids, vacations, cemetery visits, microfilms, etc., etc.—which grows by the day and may be spread across multiple computers, websites and devices. You want to make sure it's backed up, that you can find photos easily, and that future generations will be able to find their photos.

Update: is giving away three copies of How To Archive Family Photos. Click here to enter before 12 p.m. CT on Friday, May 8.

Now that the book is available in, we can share some of Denise's advice from the book. Today, Denise is guest posting about photo gifts you can create so your family will have access to its visual history. 

From Denise:

Genealogists know there’s more to family photographs than the chores of scanning, file naming and organizing images. We want to get those photos out of our hard drives and into family history projects that bring life to our ancestry and share our heritage with family and friends. How to Archive Family Photos will inspire you to create new and unique photo projects with ideas, techniques and step-by-step instructions.
  • If too many choices or confusing instructions have stymied your attempts at creating a family history photo book or calendar
  • If your online projects seem boring or cookie-cutter and you want to add unique personal touches 
  • If you want to design custom photo gifts or even fabric
  • If you’re looking for mobile apps to make photo books more fast and fun

. . . you’ll find ideas, inspiration, and guidance in How to Archive Family Photos Part 3: CREATE. It gives easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for creative photo projects on a variety of websites and apps. If you're stumped about Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts, try one of these ideas: 

Photo-Book Projects

  • Custom Photo Book with Snapfish
  • Auto-Fill Birthday Book with Mixbook
  • Family Yearbook
  • Heirloom Reproduction Book
  • Photo Book for Busy People
  • Grandparent and Grandchild Memory Book
  • Remembering and Celebrating Book

Smartphone and Tablet Projects

Card, Collage, and Scrapbooking Projects Photo

  • Thank-You Card with Shutterfly Creative Effects
  • Collage Mouse Pad with Shutterfly
  • Holiday Greeting Card Collage with Snapfish
  • Ancestor Collage With PicMonkey
  • Facebook Cover Photo Collage with PicMonkey
  • Digital Scrapbooking Tribute Page with Snapfish

Calendar Projects

  • Wall Calendar with Mixbook
  • Perpetual Celebration Calendar with AdoramaPix
  • It’s a Party! Calendar
  • A Year in the Life Calendar
  • Kitchen Duty Calendar

Fabric and Home Décor Craft Projects

  • Vintage Holiday Photo Pillow with Spoonflower & PicMonkey
  • Photo Quilt Block

Next week, Denise will give you Digital Asset Management (DAM) tips. Visit to learn more about How to Archive Family Photos and how this book will help you organize your digital photos.

Genealogy books | Photos | saving and sharing family history
Monday, May 04, 2015 2:13:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
NGS 2015 Conference & St. Louis Area Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane

I'm getting excited for our road trip next week to the National Genealogical Society annual conference, May 13-16 in St. Charles, Mo., right outside of St. Louis.

Library of Congress

I love the chance conferences give to meet folks in our Family Tree Magazine genealogy community and to catch up with magazine contributors. I hope you'll come by booth 618 in the exhibit hall, where we'll be teaming up with these genealogy experts offering free, short Outside the Box sessions:

Here's the Outside the Box schedule for NGS 2015:

On the way to NGS, I'll also be able to wave to my alma mater in St. Louis. My five years as a St. Louisan happened long before I was working in genealogy, but among the local history lessons that stick out in my mind are:
  • the 1904 World's Fair, officially the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, is a major point of historical pride in St. Louis. The city's beautiful Forest Park and several features within it are relics of the fair.
If you have St. Louis, St. Charles or Missouri ancestors, you'll want to take the opportunity to research while at the conference. Many of the following resources also have helpful information online, in case you have to sit this one out: I hope to see you there!

Genealogy Events | Research Tips
Monday, May 04, 2015 12:19:48 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, April 29, 2015
How to Create a Research Plan in Evernote
Posted by Diane

A genealogy research plan can help you identify the genealogy information and resources you need to answer a family history question. You know, one like "When and why between 1894 and 1900 did my third-great-grandmother drop off the face of the earth?"

Not that I would know anything about this particular problem or anything.

Having your research plan handy on your phone or laptop can help you stay focused and let you check it when you're not at home. Keeping it on Evernote is a great way to do that, as you'll learn in our webinar Enhance Your Genealogy With Evernote: 10 Projects to Boost Your Family History, happening Thursday, May 7, with Lisa Louise Cooke.

Evernote also lets you organize your notes, upload record images to the cloud for later analysis, and more.

Here's a sneak peek at how to set up a research plan in Evernote, one of the projects Lisa will show you during the webinar:
  • Set up a notebook in Evernote and give it a name related to the question you're trying to answer.
  • Click to select the notebook in the left-hand column, then create a note for each of the five components of your research plan. Each note will include information specific to your project:
  1. Objective: What do you want to accomplish? Be specific, such as “Identify Hiram Hornhoffer’s parents.”
  2. Known facts: What have you already learned about your ancestors? Include relationships, dates and places.
  3. Working hypothesis: Note the probable conclusions that you hope to prove or disprove.
  4. Identified sources: Which records are most likely to provide information about your hypothesis? Create a list of possible sources and note where to find each source.
  5. Research strategy: This is your plan of action. Determine the order in which you’ll locate each source.
  • Create a tag for the project and tag any related notes.
When you're finished, you'll have something that looks like this:

Visit to see what other Evernote genealogy projects you'll learn in the Enhance Your Genealogy With Evernote webinar, and to register.

Research Tips | Tech Advice | Webinars
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 2:05:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]