Sunday, April 29, 2007

FamilySearch databases online -- a summary

An article in the Terre Haute Tribune Star, "GENEALOGY: Family Search putting three new databases online," summarizes databases recently added to FamilySearch web site, including Nova Scotia birth, marriage, and death records. As the article reports, Nova Scotia is the first Canadian province to digitize its vital statistics and offer them for free on-line viewing. Utah death certificates, 250,000+ certificates from 1905 to 1954 linked with index and images. Birth records in the county will be put on line after 100 years and death records after 50 years, to comply with privacy laws. Additionally, the Personal Ancestral File database also adds the ability to view names in family tree format. The article also notes details of the West Virginia vital records online access, added in 2005. More than 1.4 million scanned records of births, marriages, and deaths from the counties of Calhoun, Gilmer, Hardy, Harrison, Mineral, and Pendleton.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Organizing research saves time, effort, and heap of frustration

One of the most frustrating things in genealogy research is retracing your steps, either at the library or online, and not for any new insights, but because you forgot where you found a piece of information or you did write down what you found. Organizing research is almost an eternal quest. Why? Because it takes time and many people are averse to detail. In her article "Organizing Your Research," Gena Philibert-Ortega provides tips for organizing as you go, to help avoid procrastination. Simplicity is the key to keeping up with the task, and the article discusses a variety of forms along with a number or resources aimed at making do-able.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Britain colonial slave records online

As reported in an article on, "Britain's slave trade records go online," the records of nearly 100,000 British colonial slaves and their owners become available for free on the Internet for the first time. It is hoped the Black History collection on www. will help people fill in gaps in their family histories. The database contains the names of 99,349 slaves and their owners from registers in Barbados between 1815 and 1834 – the year slavery was abolished in British colonies.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Auto maker sponsors "Who Do You Think You Are" LIVE event

An article in MarketingWeek, "Daihatsu celebrates centenary with BBC genealogy show," reports Japanese car marque Daihatsu is to sponsor the first Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE event as part of its strategy to celebrate its centenary. The live show is a spin off of the hugely successful BBC television series, following celebrities as they discover their ancestry. It takes at Kensington Olympia May 5 to May 7, and Daihatsu says it has decided to link to event as it ties in with its 100-year-history, while the visitor profile fits its target market. Other brand partners at the event include The National Archives, The History Channel and Alongside exhibits the event will host talks, workshops and an historical fashion feature. Guests at the event include genealogist Nick Barratt and historian David Starkey, as well some of the celebrities who featured in the BBC TV series, including Colin Jackson and Ian Hislop.

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Genealogy plays role in researching heart disease

In Salt Lake City, LDS Hospital researchers say genealogy could provide some of the answers to the causes of heart disease. KUTV, a local television network, reports that researchers have been pouring over family history databases and now hope to take their efforts a step further. Doctors say there is no doubt that heart disease is genetic. Now they're hoping pedigree charts from families with history of heart disease will help answer some questions. Right now the database has about 10 million names, and researchers have collected blood samples from 15,000 patients with family histories of heart disease. For more on this story, see the Salt Lake Tribune article, "LDS Hospital looks at family history for heart disease clues."

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Genealogical Research on a Shoestring Budget

In her article "Genealogical Research on a Shoestring Budget," Karen Pittman gives encouragement to beginning researchers, suggesting how simply and inexpensively it can be to get started on genealogy research: " Many people think that beginning genealogical research requires a huge outlay of funds. This is not the case. A notebook, a pencil and an interest in the past are enough to get a researcher started on his or her family history trail."

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Monday, April 23, 2007 announces second surge in user-uploaded content

In a press release today,, announced that more than 1 million family photos have been uploaded since the site's new tree-building and sharing features launched in July 2006. In fact, users are now uploading photos at a rate of 10,000 per day. Over this same period, users have also created more than 1.7 million new family trees, added an estimated 257 million names to their trees, sent 316,000 invitations to share their family tree and attached 18 million family history documents directly from's 24,000 historical records collections.'s tree-building tools enable family members to build multimedia family trees together whether living next-door or across continents. Families can upload photos, write stories, enter life events and names on a shared family tree -- all for free. These visual portraits of history are organized into specific categories on the site for easy searching including, Portrait/Family Photo, Place, Object, Historical Event, Headstone, Document/Certificate, Map, and Transportation. To view a sample of these one million unique family photos added to


Cemetery symbols may provide insight to individual beliefs

Symbols on headstones often indicate something about the life of the deceased. Owing to a recent ruling, one of the more controversial symbols can now be added to those allowed on headstones in government cemeteries. An article in the International Herald Tribune, "Wiccans symbols allowed on grave markers in government cemeteries," reports the Wiccan pentacle [or pentagram] has been added to the list of emblems allowed in United States cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of fallen U.S. soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday. A settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans adds the five-pointed star to the list of "emblems of belief" allowed on VA grave markers.

Wicca is said to be a nature-based religion based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons, but variations of the pentacle have been used in horror movies as a sign of the devil — a usage not accepted and vehemently denied by Wiccans. The pentacle has been added to 38 symbols the VA already permits on gravestones. They include commonly recognized symbols for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, as well as those for smaller religions such as Sufism Reoriented, Eckiankar and the Japanese faith Seicho-No-Ie.

VA-issued headstones, markers and plaques can be used in any cemetery, whether it is a national one such as Arlington near Washington or a private burial ground.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Insights into the 1830 U. S. Census

An article on, "Genealogy: 1830 federal census underwent some changes in format and protocol," highlights some distinct differences between the 1830 U. S. Census and those of previous years, information that may provide new insights for researchers. While the focus is on the 1830 census, the comparison to other censuses is also revealing. The 1830 federal census, like those before it, was under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court in each state and was carried out by U.S. marshals who hired and organized the enumerators. However, there were some changes in the 1830 census format and protocol from previous censuses. Of particular interest may be that that duplicate copies were made of the 1830 census, which creates an even greater margin for error. The article gives tips on how to identify whether the copy you are using is an original or duplicate.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Practical tips and hints for cemetery research

Gena Philibert-Ortega, in her article "Lessons Learned from the Cemetery," provides us with insights gained while conducting research for her book on the cemeteries in the Inyo and Mono County regions of California. The article offers practical tips and hints to help family history researchers better understand common situation to improve their success in locating ancestral graves.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

US woman donates 30 volumes of Nova Scotia genealogy

If you have ancestry in Novia Scotia, you might want to reveiw an article in, "US woman leaves 30 volumes of genealogy to Pictou group." While certain family names are specified, others are also listed that may in some way be related. The article reports a county heritage group is the beneficiary of an American woman’s lifelong interest in Nova Scotia genealogy. Hazel Arnold MacIvor bequeathed 30 volumes of information to the Pictou County Genealogy and Heritage Society, to be stored at the Hector Centre archives in Pictou. MacIvor, a retired Detroit teacher who died in the mid-1990s, compiled the information after many trips to Scotland and Nova Scotia.

The genealogies include census records, wills, land grants, family records, Bible records, birth and death records and marriage certificates from Canada, the United States and Scotland. Ms. MacIvor’s work, which began as a hobby, spans the MacLean, Marshall, Fraser, Matheson, Ross, Stewart, Simpson and Nichol families, among others.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Berlin's many cemeteries a popular attraction

Of interest to those who might be planning travel to Germany this summer is an article in Jurnalo, "Tourists flock to see Berlin's historical cemeteries," which provides an interesting summary on the many cemeteries in and around Berlin. As stated in the article, some Berlin cemeteries were devastated during World War II and a few in the border area during the city's post-war division were sealed by the communists and spiked with watch towers and border installations after the Wall went up in 1961. These problems apart, Berlin's collection of cemeteries currently look in remarkably good shape, having been handsomely restored, often by volunteer working groups.

"The city's cemeteries are something of a magnet for tourists nowadays," says Pohren-Hartmann. "Especially for visiting ex- Berliners who have moved abroad. They make guided tours of the more famous burial places, feeling they are reliving history when doing so," he says.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Scotland genealogy center to open in 2009

An article in the Buchan Observer highlights a new genealogy research center scheduled to open in 2009, in harmony with Scotland's Year of Homecoming. According to the article, historians from all over Scotland, the UK and the world, with Aberdeenshire lineage, will soon be able to trace their family history when the region's first genealogy centre opens in Peterhead. The centre is being established by the Peterhead Tourism Initiative (PTI) which has been working hard to secure funding for the project. It will be hosted in a room at the Arbuthnot Museum at Peterhead's St Peter Street where a wealth of documentation can already be found. It is believed the project will attract new visitors to the North-east and will tie in with the Scottish Executive's Homecoming project scheduled for 2009. Scotland's Year of Homecoming is a year-long event which will showcase Scotland as a 'must-visit, must-return' destination. The year coincides with the 250th anniversary of the birth of national bard Robert Burn which will be celebrated through a series of events.

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Group works to include ancestry on 2010 US Census short form

The future of the US Census as a prime source of family history information is in the news again. Dedicated researchers, always conscious and grateful for the information contained in available census records and our access to them, have equal interest in seeing that benefit continue into the future. This week, a short piece in SitNews notes a coalition of U.S. ethnic groups wants the next decennial Census to quantify the ingredients in America's melting pot. The "Ancestry Working Group" - which represents those of Italian, Irish, German, Arab, Greek, Iranian and Caribbean descent, among others - is calling on the Census Bureau to include a question on ancestry in the 2010 short Census form. The group won an earlier battle with the bureau to keep the question on the 2000 long form. The agency maintains that the short form simply doesn't have room and that adding an ancestry query would bump more vital questions.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Early Marriage Customs

The institution of marriage and the customs that surround it are a facinating historical study. In her article, "Early Marriage Customs," Melissa Slate gives brief insight into the marriage customs of Colonial America, fitting during the 400th year anniversary of Colonial Jamestown. Consider the thimble and its use in place of today's custom of giving a ring.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

NARA historical document price increases -- Voice your opinion

According to an article by Leland Meitzler on Genealogy Blog at the National Archives, NARA (the National Archives and Records Administration) is proposing a large increase in the costs of ordering historical documents. These rate increases would greatly affect family historians trying to order military records, pension files, land records, ship passenger lists, and other files, and would make obtaining some records financially difficult for genealogists.

As a representative example are the proposed rates for obtaining Civil War and other war (Revolution, 1812, etc.) pension files, which will go from $37 to $60 up to $125, depending on which war is of interest.

There will be a public comment period on the proposed rate increases until April 27. To comment online, go to and follow the instructions to fill out an online comment/complaint form. Or fax your comments to (301) 837-0319; mail your comments to Regulations Comments Desk (NPOL), Room 4100, Policy and Planning Staff, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Rd., College Park, MD 20740—600.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Another place to look for that elusive marrage record

So who is Gretna Green or, what is it? In her article, "Gretna Greens and Your Ancestor's Missing Records," Gena Philibert-Ortega explains: "Gretna Greens are cities where people went to get married. They are named for a place called Gretna Green in Scotland," where marriage regulations were few. Gena provides information on the hisotry of Gretna Greens and the Scotland equivalents in the United States. Learning more about marriage laws within your various areas of interest may open up new possibilities. For example, marrying a first cousin is legal in some states but illegal in others -- there are, no doubt, other motivators. Something else to consider in searching for an elusive marriage record.

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Ancestry offering access to Ellis Island records, through April 30 has also announced, to honor the 100th anniversaries of the largest year and single day of immigration through Ellis Island, it is offering free access to the only complete online set of Ellis Island passenger arrival records (1892-1957) from April 12 to April 30. In addition, is inviting users to relive the remarkable journeys of their gateway ancestors at the click of a mouse at -- an interactive, multimedia tour of this national landmark. More than 11,500 immigrants passed through America's "Golden Door" on April 17, 1907, the single-day record. In total, some 1 million immigrants would come through the island in 1907 alone, making it the busiest year in Ellis Island's 60 years of operation.

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Ancestry releases Scotland Census Collection, 1841-1902

Almost 5 million Americans who claim Scottish ancestry can now discover their Scottish ancestors among the more than 24 million names in the complete Scotland Census Collection, 1841-1901, announced in a press release yesterday. These censuses offer snapshots of history, from names and occupations to place of birth and residence, providing insight into the forces that shaped the lives of many Scottish ancestors. Interestingly, U.S. passenger list records indicate a spike in Scottish immigration during this period, making it easier for individuals to trace their ancestors from America's shores to Scotland's Highlands. The complete Scotland Census Collection adds to's growing international census collection, which already includes the only complete online collections of fully-indexed and digitized U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 to 1930, England and Wales censuses from 1841 to 1901, and the 1851, 1901, 1906 and 1911 Canadian census.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Photo collection offers hope for Australia's "stolen generation"

An article in the South Australian, Advertiser Adelaide, "Help finding family faces, " indicates aboriginal people will be able to access a new collection of more than 8000 photographs at the South Australian Museum to help them identify relatives. Dating back to early European settlement, the pictures will be announced as an addition to the museum's Aboriginal Family History service. The service can help establish family connections for members of the so-called stolen generation, those who until the 1970s were taken as children to be placed in state care. A worker at the museum said "one lady who came in had never seen a picture of her mother before, then she found out she had a brother she never knew about. It gives you goosebumps". People interested in tracing their family history can call Mr. Abdullah-Highfold on 8207 7381.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oregon State Library exhibits early pioneer historical timeline

An article on, "State Library Exhibits its Most Unusual Holding," gives an overview of a new exhibit and provides insight on the merits of an early pioneer scroll, the work of Oregon pioneer and resident of Salem, Sebastian C. Adams. Adams' twenty-one foot scroll, A Chronological Chart of Ancient, Modern, and Biblical History, a "best seller" of the 1870s, is today a treasure to antiquarians but little known to the public. An exact photo-replica of the first edition of the entire scroll will be on display at the Oregon State Library, beginning April 18, 2007. A second framed copy of a later edition of the original scroll will also be exhibited.

The Chronological Chart is in the tradition of historical timelines that were very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sebastian Adams was born in 1825 and survived an arduous journey over the Oregon Trail in 1850 . . . Throughout his life, Adams was a scholar and lecturer on the subject of world history and religion. His knowledge is well illustrated in this outstanding example of 19th century chromolithography which taught colorful and dramatic lessons in history. The exhibit of Sebastian Adams' Chronological Chart will be on view on the second floor State Library through the end of the year. The State Library is located at 250 Winter Street, across from the State Capitol in Salem and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Jamestown 400th Anniversary celebrations in the news

Organizers of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown say researchers will help visitors trace their ancestry.
Ancestry. com will run a booth during "America's Anniversary Weekend" on May 11th through 13th. The event precedes the 2007 NGS Conference that May 16 to 19 in Richmond. For information on Jamestown celebrations, visit America's 400th Anniversary. For information on the NGS Conference, visit the National Genealogical, Rediscover America web site.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hatfields and McCoys -- a new look at an old fued

We've all heard of the infamous fued between Hatfields and the McCoys. What we probably didn't know is that is the fued may have some genetic underpinnings. In her article, "Genetic Health Found in Famous Feud Family," Melissa Slate, who writes on the genealogy research in the Appalachian region, discusses a rare genetic disease affecting those on at least one side of the fence, the McCoy family. Among the symptoms . . . increased rage. But as Melissa points out, this is more than a historical anecdote; being genetic the disease can be passed down, and researchers are keenly interested in locating descendants of McCoy family.


Monday, April 9, 2007 reaches 150 million names

An article in the Tribune-Star, "Genealogy: Family Search Web site reaches 150 million names," announces the Family Search web site has reached 150 million names on its free genealogy database at This database has grown by 19 million names per year since it was launched in 1999.

One feature of the online databases is the Pedigree Resource File, or PRF. Family files in the PRF are submitted by visitors to the Web site. To submit files, a user has to download the free Personal Ancestral File genealogy software at the site, or submit the information using a GEDCOM file from another genealogy software program.

A new search feature on the advanced search screen allows users to check a “show all events” feature to view extended generational information that they were unable to view before to this addition. The advanced search screen is at

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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Alex Haley's "Roots" 30th Anniversary rebroadcast, Easter Sunday

A Munster Times article, "Cable revives 'Roots' on 30th anniversary," announces the 30th Anniversary rebroadcast of Alex Haley's "Roots." The groundbreaking 1977 miniseries returns to television Easter Sunday. TV One, a national cable station featuring African-American programming and Comcast Channel 172 in Chicago, is pairing with African Ancestry, a company specializing in using DNA testing to determine African lineage, to bring back the tale of African-American experience that captivated the nation 30 years ago.

"Roots," an adaptation of Alex Haley's book by the same title, traces the journey of a West African man sold into slavery from Gambia to the U.S., and follows his family through emancipation in the post-Civil War South.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Allen County LIbrary teams up with

An article in the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, "Put family records online," announces the
Allen County Public Library's endoresement of, a new genealogy web site. Several months ago, the library began talks with the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy, a Utah nonprofit, which was founded to create a place on the Web for genealogists to contribute material. Those talks gave birth to, which is based on the Wikipedia model. The Web site allows people to upload and correct genealogical information, research projects and geographic information.

“We wanted a place virtually where we could encourage people to record their family history,” said Curt Witcher, manager of the library’s genealogy center. “Any everyday person can go onto the site and upload information.”

The site is free to use, but registration is required. As on Wikipedia, users will be able to update and correct information on the site. They can also make “read-only” entries that can’t be changed, Witcher said. “Wikipedia’s popularity draws a large crowd of people who can constantly correct misinformation, he said. “If you build enough people, it’s very self-correcting. We’re hoping to build the same thing.”

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Evaluating genealogy publications

In his article, "Summary on Genealogical Publications," Alan Smith offers some guidelines for evaluating various genealogical resources and targeting those most applicable to a particular objective. Smith suggests there are two main types of genealogical publications: "The first is very specialized and concern a unique geographical area and can hold actual documents and family tree data which mainly concern state and county locations. The other type of publication has a ‘human interest' slant for a generalized public or a "how-to" approach. Both can help, but sometimes a researcher has to stop reading "how-to" articles and start doing research."

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Article offers help utlizing French family history web site

An article in the Terre Haute Tribute Star, "Genealogy: French Web site offers myriad of information," offers great tips for accessing information a new French genealogy web site. According to the article, a French Web site has recently been created with a database of 439,770 records including 225,700 baptisms, 69,799 marriages, and 144,271 burials from the parish records in the French department of Haute-Saone, a part of the Franche-Comte region. Haute-Saone is located in the northeast of France and was created in 1789 during the French Revolution. The Web site contains records (“actes”) from 113 communities and parishes. These records are from the years 1637-1932, but the majority are from the 1700s and 1800s.

"Even though the site is in French, it is fairly easy to use," and the article proceeds to walk you through some steps and offers some basic translations. I walked through the first steps for one of my French surnames, although this is not my region of interest. If it's yours, this site may have something for you.

A second French site at is still incomplete, but, when finished, will list the names of all French soldiers who died in 20th-century wars. The site also has a searchable database. It can be translated into English by clicking on the small British flag icon.

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Ancestry releases Canadian Border Collection

Great news and one more place to check -- online -- for those who have not yet found their immigrant ancestor in U. S. passenger lists. In a recent press release, announced announced the release of a new Canadian records collection, offering 4 million names of individuals who crossed the U.S.-Canadian border between 1895 and 1956. These historical records are the latest addition to's Immigration Records Collection, which also includes more than 100 million names from the largest online collection of U.S. passenger lists, spanning 1820 to 1960.

An often-overlooked, but major U.S. immigration channel, the U.S.-Canadian border typically offered easier entrance to the United States than sea ports such as Ellis Island. This new collection includes immigrants who first sailed to or settled in Canada before continuing to the United States as well as U.S. and Canadian citizens crossing the border. Among the busiest ports of entry on both sides of the border were Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Detroit, Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.The border crossings also contain a surprising number of nationalities with Russians, Italians and Chinese among the most common nationalities of people crossing the U.S.-Canadian border.

While you do pay to access the records, you can search the records without charge. To learn more about the collection, see Border Crossings: From Canada to U. S., 1895-1956.

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Roots Television - watch, learn, participate

An article today on summarizes Roots Television, a privately owned company founded by professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak and media producer Marcy Brown. Roots Television is an Internet-based viewing channel dedicated to genealogy. According the site's itself, "Roots Television™ is by and for avid genealogists and family history lovers of all stripes. . . . You’ll find everything from DNA Stories, to Flat Stanley’s Family Tree, to the lectures from the latest Genealogy and Technology Conference." Not only can you watch and learn, but Roots Television also accepts user-submitted content on its new "Roots Tube" Channel, and to get people interested is holding a WildRoots contest, where users tell the craziest thing they've done in pursuit of their family tree. It's a brave new world!

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