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Wednesday, March 04, 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, March 04, 2015 11:30:55 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, March 03, 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, March 03, 2015 2:54:20 PM (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, March 03, 2015 1:30:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
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)
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
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.
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
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
the first post).
African-American roots | Military records | Photos
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 10:37:56 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
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
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)
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 AmericanAncestors.org
Under the multi-year agreement, FamilySearch will provide NEHGS with
more than 2 billion records from its global collections at
FamilySearch.org and its online Family Tree. These records will be
added to the newly upgraded AmericanAncestors.org, 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 AmericanAncestors.org.
LDS church members can register for this access on the familysearch.org/partneraccess
website (where they also can get free access to Ancestry.com,
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)
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
The stories, along with genealogy tips and resources gleaned from
- 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)
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
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
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
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
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)
Friday, February 13, 2015
News From FamilySearch's RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City
Posted by Diane
FamilySearch held a dinner Wednesday for members of the media attending the RootsTech conference, happening in Salt Lake City through Saturday. Outreach director and chief marketing officer Shipley Munson shared an overview of the upcoming conference, news, and background on RootsTech's "Who Inspires You?" theme.
Munson gave an estimate of 20,000 registered attendees here, and said that's a conservative number. Every US state except West Virginia is represented, and attendees have come from 35 countries. Saturday will be Family Discovery Day, when members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attend special classes with their children.
RootsTech's selection of some keynote speakers and themes focused on topics such as storytelling and family togetherness has drawn criticism for the departure from the event's original purpose to unite genealogy and technology. Munson seemed to acknowledge this by referring to the "lifestyle" and the "genealogy" audience members at the media dinner.
He explained the conference's "Who Inspires You?" theme by talking about a book called The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler, a psychology professor at Emory University. His research team found that family history knowledge is an important component to family health and confident children.
"Family history is more than genealogy. It's about the collection of stories and photos that give meaning to families," Munson said. "The highest form of family history is the story, and you are the storytellers."
The FamilySearch Family Tree has about 1.1 billion people. The hints that match records to people in the trees is 98 percent accurate. FamilySearch is testing a new indexing system using character recognition software to create the "A-run" index for printed records, with a second pass by human indexers.
Next, FamilySearch's David Pugmire gave an overview of the FamilySearch Innovator Showdown, a competition among those who've introduced new genealogy technology tools and apps. Four finalists, chosen at Tuesday's Innovator Summit, will compete for $25,000 in prize money:
A live audience and judges will choose the winner after Friday morning's keynote presentation by former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager.
- ArgusSearch: A Google-like search engine that allows any user to search within any documetn, even most handwritten ones
- GenMarketplace: A place where you can post a genealogy lookup or other job, and the price goes up (to a maximum price you choose) until someone claims it and does it for you.
- Lucidpress: An app that lets you create publications for print, digital presentations and video
- Storyworth: A tool that lets you record family stories a bit at a time, via your responses to regular emailed prompts
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events
Friday, February 13, 2015 10:41:09 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)