Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Old newspapers contain rich information

In her article, "Don't Forget the Local News, " Karan Pittman provides a strategy for researching old newspapers, keeping in mind how old papers were organized, what information might might be found and where. "People often underestimate the type of information that may be gleaned from newspapers in the past. The papers need to be viewed a bit differently than those of today in order to utilize them effectively."

One thing I have learned about old newspapers over the years is how much personal information might actually be reported as "news," a father who abandoned his family, for example. Important stuff if that's your family, but at the same time, you are chagrined at its being aired for public viewing. But those were the times. However rewarding, searching old newspapers today can be tedious and must often be done in the dusty recesses of the local courthouse or archives. But as more and more old newspapers are digitized and come online, the greater our opportunity to browse and even search for our family members by name. Oh my, with that prospect in mind, when will I ever get anything else done?

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New approach to the genealogy search engine

Adding to the list of genealogy-specific search engines, in a press release today, announced its new "international" search engines, each dedicated to a specific country, aimed at narrowing search results by excluding other countries. International genealogy search engines for 11 different countries are now available, including Australia, Austria, China, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Philippines, Tonga, Turkey, and Ukraine. Search engines for Brazil, England, Ireland Japan, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the Ukraine are in the works. “We are really excited about these search engines. We have carefully scoured the Internet looking for the best genealogical resources for each of these countries,” said Brad Pace, VP Marketing.


Sit down for meal with those who share your Lithuanian family name

Family history tours are continually gaining in popularity, tours to Ireland, England, Italy are common. Now, if you are one of five-million Americans whose ancestors came from Lithuania, a a press release yesterday announced a new service that will take you there. You can learn more about these tours at

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New service to connect families online

Announced in a press release today is another online service aimed at connecting families. The site,, "combines the best of blogging, photo sharing, digital storytelling, and family history." Features include an interactive visual timeline and a library of over 2,000 prompting interview questions. The site offers free and paid memberships, and offers to have family stories turned into "heirloom-quality books, CDs and DVDs."

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Monday, January 29, 2007

LIttle things mean a lot

The article, "Finding My Grandmother Before I Become a Grandmother" by Vicki Boartfield is a success story, detailing how one woman realized the dream of finding her grandmother, with very little information to go on. It helps us not only appreciate the vast, ever-increasing store of information that is available today at our fingertips, but also brings home the importance of those little scraps of memorabilia that so often slip past our notice. So it may be good to take notice and keep those little bits and pieces that may not mean much today but have the potential of unlocking the past -- tomorrow.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Kiss me I'm Irish

A recent article entitled, "Ethnic Fraud?" reports on a new trend toward claiming and/or inventing Native American ancestry, spurred on by a increased interest in genealogy. The article cites a quote suggesting the sudden spike in citizens claiming tribal heritage is a symptom of "ethnic shopping." The term, it says, "refers to individuals who wish to change identities and simply don new ethnicities that are more personally comfortable or interesting."

The situation as reported in this article has serious implications, and without trivializing the issue, as St. Patrick's Day peeks around the corner, we are reminded that at one time the Irish were a highly reviled and persecuted group in America, but after the Civil War, the Irish culture was embraced and today Irish descent is claimed with pride and many, with great admiration, simply adopt Irish descent. There may be a similar romanticized view attached to our images of hailing from the Emerald Isle and the struggle of Irish immigrants and to our retrospective appreciation for the heroic struggle of Native Americans.

While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, rather than inventing ancestry, why not investigate your own -- It may be more interesting than you think!


Friday, January 26, 2007

St. George Genealogy & Family History Jamboree , Feb 9 - 10

Be sure to visit the Genealogy Today booth at the St. George Genealogy & Family Heritage Jamboree , February 9 & 10 at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George, UT. Now in its third year, this two-day event is drawing speakers and vendors from all over the U.S. It will feature 100+ terrific classes to choose from, more than 60 vendors and exhibitors, and the latest genealogy products and technology. Many free drawings and prizes each day! The event is sponsored by My Ancestors Found and the Washington County, UT PAF User's Group.

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Postcards may be a great way to enchance -- and enlighten -- your family history

Dedicated to helping researchers appreciate and explore the social history aspect of their own genealogy, Gena Philipbert-Ortega, in her article, Using Postcards to Illustrate your Family History, once again provides us with multiple links to great resources. With an emphasis on postcard collecting and enhancing your family's story through postcards, Gena directs us toward those great photo postcards of family members so popular at one time, and historical postcards of the times, places, and events that may have figured into your family's history.

I might also add, that you want to watch carefully for postcards received from family members, whenever searching through old family photos. These postcards are not only interesting, but can serve to document certain people in a specific time and place. I found postcards among my grandmother's photos from my uncle serving in France during WW II. I also found postcards from my aunt during their trek along the Alaska Highway back in the early 1950s, not long after the highway was first completed. Postcards are just one more of these often overlooked, non-traditional sources that may add one more piece to the puzzle.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wait, there's more . . .

We haven't heard the last word on techology and tombstones. An article out Wednesday in the Vancouver Province, Virtual cemeteries promise life everlasting, announced Microsoft is getting in the game. The U.S. computer giant is looking at ways for the dearly departed to store e-mail messages and biographical information for centuries. The information could be stored on tombstones or cremation urns, or in a virtual cemetery on the Internet. Microsoft is researching ways of storing the data for generations without having the storage devices break down. Instructions to access the data could come in multiple languages, even hieroglyphics.

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Everton Genealogical Helper Online Jan 31

A press release today announced Everton's Genealogical Helper will be made available online January 31 at at “Since 1947, long before the Web, Web 2.0, and community websites, Everton’s Genealogical Helper magazine has been connecting family history researchers and printing their research results, offering an invaluable aid to millions of other researchers,” said Walter Fuller, President and Publisher, Everton Publishers. The Genealogical Helper emphasizes content, continuing education, and research resources, for both professional genealogists and amateur family history researchers. Leland Meitzler, one of the founders of the genealogy industry, was recently named the managing editor of this magazine.

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New iFamily genealogy software for Mac

As reported on, Mac iFamily software remarkable, a new genealogy program for Mac users was announced. "Mac users have long envied the excellent genealogy programs for PCs and have more or less been resigned to using the far more basic offerings such as Reunion or Mac Family Tree. Now, iFamily for Tiger is a genealogy program for Mac users that is not only easy to operate but offers an innovative approach to mapping the family tree."

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Scotland's Old Parochial Records Now Online

According to an article published on, Genealogy: Scotland puts Burns' birth and marriage certificates online, the birth and marriage certificates of Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns, made their first appearance on the Internet yesterday, the 248th anniversary of his birth. Scotland's Old Parochial Records, which range from 1553 to 1854, are the last records to be transferred into digital images as part of a £3 million project to make all records held by the General Register Office for Scotland available online. The five-year digital programme aims to improve access and speed up searches on Scotland's genealogical archives. The records can now be viewed on the ScotlandsPeople web site and in the public search rooms of the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) in Edinburgh.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Genealogical Society of Utah, its function and services

In the article, The Genealogical Society of Utah, Donnie Boursaw attempts to clarify misinformation and help readers understand the function of the Genealogical Society of Utah and its services.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Chicago schools participate in Genographic Project

An article at, Chicago 10th-graders trace ancestry through DNA, reports one-thousand students from five Chicago high schools and their sister-city schools abroad will contribute DNA samples to the nonprofit Genographic Project. Chicago is the first school district to participate in the project. Contributions are voluntary, kids need parental consent and results are anonymous. The Genographic Project, is a five-year study that seeks to map humanity’s ancient migrations. The project has run aground in Alaska and elsewhere among native tribes fearing the analysis could confuse long-held spiritual beliefs and possibly jeopardize existing benefits for some natives, as reported in a New York Times, Dec. 10 article.

Labels: appoints Megan Smolenyak announced in a press release today the appointment of Megan Smolenyak as Chief Family Historian. An award-winning professional, author and co-author of four books, Smolenyak most recently "rewrote history" by uncovering the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant to come through Ellis Island. "We couldn't be more pleased to expand our relationship with Megan and have her join our stellar research team led by noted Loretto Dennis Szucs (Lou)," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Local area research is "limitless" in its value

Oftentimes it is information indirectly associated with our ancestors that provide vital clues, and local area research is an important step in the research process. However, as Karan Pittman points out in her article, Don't Forget Local Histories, "Regional, local and county histories don't always enjoy the best reputation, but they can be invaluable to the researcher when used correctly." The article is focused on helping readers makes the most of these valuable resources.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Isle of Wight cemetery data now available

An article out today in the, Gravesite survey team presents its findings, reports the availability of new cemetery data in the UK. A survey team has gathered information at 96 cemeteries for over 11, 500 graves and counting. The information was presented this week to the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors and will be made available to the general public at the Carrollton Library and Smithfield Library for genealogy studies. No word of its being online.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Combined resources still the best best in confirming family history

In his article, DNA Surprises, Alan Smith makes the point that for all its benefit, DNA testing has its limitations and historical research is still needed to fit all the pieces together. Reviewing the well-known Thomas Jefferson DNA study, Smith explores a similar inquiry in his own family history and the inherent challenges of researching two-hundred-year-old mysteries.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

19th century genealogical data used in scientific study

"What exasperated or overworked parent hasn't declared to a child at least once: 'You'll be the death of me!' Now we know -- with unprecedented precision -- just how true that can be."

An article this week in the San Franciso Chronicle, Genealogy study examines price of parenthood, reports on the findings of a recent study that utilizes data from 22,000 19th century families. "As raw material, the researchers, used a database of genealogical information kept by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, examining the reproductive history and survival of 21,684 couples married between 1860 and 1895. Each person was married only once, and polygamists were excluded." Along with other fascinating tidbits, findings from the study also show that younger children in a family had less chance of survival than their older siblings, and that losing a mother raised every child's risk of dying young. The data sample is said to be the largest used to estimate the cost of human procreation.

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TribalPages Genealogy site makes change to benefit users

In a recent press release, the family tree web site, announced a change to its web site, allowing users to share up to 1,000 high resolution photos regardless of the storage space consumed. With the recent explosion in the use of digital cameras and the drop in the cost of storage space, this move simply makes sense, " said Vandana Rao of TribalPages. Users of family tree websites can take advantage of the new policy immediately.

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"I think therefore I am Uncle Charlie"

You may have more in common with your children and grandchildren than you think. In the BBC News article, Searching for the soul of cyberspace, writer Paul Mason explores the link between genealogy research and virtual reality games. Both, it seems, have the uncanny ability of psychologically transporting people into a time and place removed from the present and generating a strong emotional attachment to their subjects (or characters, as the case may be). Now, suspend all arguments between the reality of "family" and the "unreality" of virtual reality. The comparison is an intriguing concept, which embraced, could generate greater tolerance and understanding across the generations. And goes to show, once again, that we are more alike than we are different.

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Internet-connected tombstones on sale now

A new, digital graveside technology containing the life history the dearly departed is now available to the general public. The Graveside Memory Capsule was announced in a recent press release. The "inconspicuously mounted" device can display pictures, text, audio, music, voice and video, and is immediately accessible at the grave site to anyone with a laptop computer and USB cable. It can even be downloaded on site for later viewing and sharing through CD-ROM or the Internet. The cost is $500.

Plans for a similar product called Cemetery 2.0, was discussed in a Dec. 31 article in, Tombstone technology tells story of deceased. "This is only the tip of the iceberg," predicts Bob Biggins, former head of the National Funeral Directors Association. We can say Amen to that.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

American Civil War, the rest of the story

If you thought there was nothing new to learn about the American Civil War, think again. In her article, Confederates in Brazil, Gena Philibert-Ortega provides insights into a group of Southerners who fled to Brazil at the end of the Civil War in search of a new life and cheap land.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Yet another world family tree

A press release today announced David O. Sacks, former Chief Operating Office of PayPal, has launched a new, free web site,, aimed at creating a family tree of the entire world. The site offers a simplified interface for entering family information, and through a sort of mulit-level marketing approach, users invite a family member to join by adding their e-mail address, then that person invites someone, and they invite someone, and so on and so and so on. "Each tree continues to grow as relatives invite other relatives." As one concerned about casting seeds to the wind on the Internet, I checked the site's privacy policy, which assures us that only the people in your family tree can see your tree or individual profile, and you can further restrict viewing of your profile through account settings. Even so, you have no way of knowing who has been invited down the road and who is viewing your personal information.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Tips for bringing life to your family history

People love stories. When it comes sharing family history, it's easier to engage an audience through stories than facts alone. Stories engage the emotions and help people visualize their ancestors within a time and place, making the facts more interesting and relevant. But what if you are not among the fortunate few to have stories handed down in the form of a diary, journal, or chain of letters? Melissa Slate, in her article, "From Prose to Form: Making Your Family History Come Alive," offers ideas and suggestions for building a story from what you do know of your ancestor's lives.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Family history resources in San Bernadino County, CA

With an area containing more land than nine states, San Bernadino County, California is the largest county in the United States. Early residents included native peoples, as well as pioneers looking for adventure in the West. The Mormons and some other religious groups were among the early settlers. In her aticle, "Genealogical Research in San Bernadino County," Gena Philibert-Ortega helps researchers become aware of available family history resources.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Project focuses on Cuban genealogy

“One of the consequences of any emigration is the loss to new generations of their families' roots, history and heritage.” An article in, UM Project helps Cuban-Americans trace ancestry to preserve heritage, provides information on project to preserve the history of the Cuban-American community and the various ethnic groups that called Cuba home. Because civil records are much more difficult to obtain in Cuba than in other countries, the goal is to get a family's research there done as soon as possible, according project leader, Jorge Piñón.

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Ancestry adds new German records and launches new German web site

Good news for those researching German ancestry. has announced the addition of six million names from German port and census records to its collection. The records include passenger lists, census and vital records, and other information. At the same time, Ancestry has launched a new German-language web site, "With more than 42 million Americans claiming German heritage, the launch of German historical records and creates an unprecedented networking opportunity for Germans and German-Americans to collaborate."

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Skilled genealogists may find new career paths

All too often people tend to limit themselves by job titles, rather than thinking in terms of skill sets. But if you take time to think about the many things you've done and the many skills you've mastered, you may find new ways of applying those skills and reinventing yourself. For example, a new service being announced may suggest a new career field for skilled genealogists. See “Growing Role for Probate Genealogists.”

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British ports of call passenger lists now online

For those of us -- which is pretty much all of us -- with long-standing brick walls, take heart. It may be a little patience is all that's needed today, as more and more important records collections come online. This week we have something to shout about. British emigration passenger lists are now online! The new web site,, details some 30 million passengers who sailed out of Britain between 1890 and 1960. As noted on the web site, these are not British emigrants only — many "European trans-migrants," people migrating from all parts of Europe passed through British ports to catch cheaper sailing to their destinations.

In the past these records were available only at the National Archives in Kew, southwest London. Passenger lists provide a rich source of family history information, including the name of each passenger along with departure date, destination, and in many cases address, marital status and occupation. You can view, download, save and print passenger list transcripts and images. While you can search for free, access to the full information is available at a nominal pay-per-view rate or you can opt for a subscription.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's not too late to develop a new resolve

“Everyday is a new life to a wise person.” Reflecting a general philosophy, this is one of my son’s favorite sayings – a way of looking at the world he is passing along to his two daughters. If we take the spirit of such optimism to heart, then: No, it’s not too late – it’s never too late to develop new resolve. In her article, “Genealogical Resolutions and Goals for 2007,” Karan Pittman offers some good ideas for jumpstarting your family research in the new year, and true to the first rule in genealogy research, it begins with YOU.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

"Brooklyn Genealogy" a historical panorama

Although its landscape began to change dramtically with the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, In her article, Brooklyn Genealogy, Heather Quinlan takes us on a genealogical tour of Brooklyn, the "anti-Manahattan, where Mom and Pop owned the corner stores, the Dodgers were "da bums," and there was a certain magic that shone over 300 years earlier, when the Dutch first set foot on its shores." Whether you have New York ancestry or not, you are sure to enjoy this historical panorama.

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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Allen County Library closes, Grand Opening Jan 27

In preparation for a move to its new location, the main library of the Allen County Library, 200 E. Berry St., Fort Wayne, IN closed to the public at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 5, two days earlier than had been scheduled. The Genealogy Department closed earlier, on December 23. The Library will host a Grand Opening at its new location, 900 Library Plaza (the former Webster Street site), at Noon on Saturday, January 27, 2007. The event marks the conclusion of a $66 million renovation and expansion project. The Allen County Library holds the second largest collection of genealogy materials in the country. For more information, visit the Library's web site at

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Exhibit features arts and crafts of Japanese internment camps

The article, Book leads way to art exhibit, appearing in the, provides information on "The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946," an exhibit by author and curator, Delphine Hirasuna whose own parents were interned in one of the camps. The exhibit runs until February 25 at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco. Admission is free on February 19, to commemorate the signing of Executive Order 9066, which brought about the internment. You can visit the Museum's web site at

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New insights on SSDI

An article in the Home News Tribune (NJ), launches ancestry-search tool, announces its new data web site. Among other forms of public data, this site features the Social Security Death Index for New Jersey. What is interesting about the article itself is it's general summary of the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), what it is and how it's used. So even if you are very familiar with the SSDI as a research tool, the article may provide some new and interesting insights.

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Jewish War Veterans urge passing of Native American Veterans Cemetery Act

An article on the Jewish War Veterans web site, JWV Supports Native American Veterans Cemetery Act, highlights legislation that would authorize states to provide grants financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs for the development or improvement of veterans’ cemeteries on tribal land. The group is urging Congress to reconcile bills passed in the Senate and the House, in order to get the bill passed and signed by the President. "Until now tribal governments have not been eligible for grants from the VA that would allow for the development of veterans’ cemeteries on tribal land. The bill would rectify this situation."

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Heralding the future -- a nuts and bolts review of the Family History Archives digitization project.

The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to herald the future. One the most exciting announcements to family history researchers came when the LDS Family History Library announced its plans to digitize its archive and make those records available free online. We have all, no doubt, wondered how this massive undertaking could be done and, most importantly, how long will it be? In this article, “The New Face of Family History,” Donnie Boursaw answers those questions in an first-hand look at the process.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Ancestry Announces Collaborative Features

In case you missed the announcement, recently introduced new collaborative features. Researchers are given the option of keeping their information private or sharing globally on If you choose to go global, it becomes searchable "far and wide," which suggests you want to be careful what information you make available to the world.


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Oakland Museum of California Honors Black History

Black History Month officially begins in February, but The Oakland Museum of California is getting a good head start with a host of activities, honoring the art, strength, and faith of African Americans, in California and nationwide. The program begins January 13 and continues through February 22, 2007. The Museum web site provides a detailed listing of events.

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Monday, January 1, 2007

You can teach an old dog new tricks!

The new year is commonly a time for evaluation and reassessment. In her article, “Sharpening Your Genealogical Saw,” Gena Philibert-Ortega gives good ideas for refreshing our skills and gaining a fresh, new perspectives.


GenWeekly -- Delivering a Fresh Perspective for Genealogists