Friday, September 28, 2007

Courthouse records are under-utilized but rich in data

In her article, "Meet Me At the Courthouse," Melissa Slate offers some insight on the wealth of information to be found in courthouse records, "a very under-utilized resource." The distinction between Civil and Criminal records is explained, along with the types of documents that might be found.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

WorldVitalRecords CEO earns pretigious award

Announced in a press release today, World Vital Records, Inc.’s CEO, Paul Allen, recently received the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) Fellow award at the 2007 UGA Annual Genealogical Conference held in Salt Lake City.

“UGA is pleased to present its highest award to Paul Allen. We recognize Allen’s long-time interest in trying to make genealogical information available to the public,” said Neal Southwick, UGA Award Committee Chair. “We applaud Allen’s leadership in the field of making genealogical resources more available on the Internet which affects genealogical enthusiasts worldwide.”

The UGA Fellow award is given annually to one or two living individuals in recognition of their contributions and on-going commitment to the field of genealogy that are major in scope. This may be evidenced by any combination of publications, teaching and speaking, or leadership. This may be evidenced by any combination of publications, teaching and speaking, or leadership.

Allen has made substantial contributions to the field of genealogy. He co-founded in 1997 and was its first CEO. He also served in several major roles before leaving the company in 2002. Allen is currently the CEO of World Vital Records, Inc., with a goal to provide access to billions of high quality records from all around the world to people who are doing genealogy and family history research. World Vital Records, Inc. also recently launched a free, social network for genealogists and families.

Labels: announces Family Tree Viewer, a free, social networking site for genealogists, announced its launch Wednesday of Family Tree Viewer, allowing individuals to upload their family tree and expand it with the help of local genealogists from all over the world.

"I am so excited about the new features of This is groundbreaking in so many ways. This site will change the genealogy world,” said David Lifferth, President, World Vital Records, Inc.

When individuals upload their family trees, they can quickly connect with other genealogists who live in the same places they are researching who can help them extend their trees by finding records they could not easily access for themselves. For example, suppose an individual has hit a brick wall who is doing genealogical research in Sweden. With a few clicks of the mouse, this person could easily find all the individuals who are currently researching Swedish records, as well as the individuals who are living in Sweden.

Although is free and accessible to anyone, users decide exactly who has permission to view their family trees, their profiles, as well as any information they post on the site. Founded by Paul Allen in 2007, is a worldwide effort to help individuals collaborate on a global scale.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The value of researching all marriages within a family

Experienced researchers recognize the value of collateral-line research; that is, in addition to researching direct-line ancestors, also researching the siblings within a family. In his article, "Searching All Marriages in a Family," Kevin Cassidy provides a substantial case for researching the marriage records for all siblings in a family to identify people and establish relationships. The marriage records when combined with the information from other available records can help significantly to pin down a considerable amount of detail about a particular individual and/or family, to say nothing of the additional information that can be discovered along the way. So rather than a deterrent, collateral-line research may be the most direct route to key information.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ancestry posts two new WW II collections

Announced in a recent press release, with regard to the highly anticipated premiere this week of Ken Burns documentary "The War," encourages Americans to honor the legacies of their family members or loved ones who served in WWII by preserving their unique stories online. For the 81 percent of Americans who say they have had a family member or loved one serve in the military, provides a wide range of services to archive and explore their family's military history, such as recording oral histories with its new audio storytelling service.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, America loses approximately 1,000 WWII veterans every day. Their vanishing legacies have sparked a growing consciousness to capture their stories.

For those interested in delving deeper into their military roots, hosts the largest collection of U.S. military records available and searchable online, featuring more than 90 million names that span the 1600s through Vietnam. This week, added two new collections pertaining specifically to WWII, including: WWII Military Personnel (MIA/Lost at Sea) and WWII "Stars and Stripes" Newspaper.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

UK National Archive nonconformist records go online

As posted on, "National Archives aids genealogy with new web birth, marriage & deaths service," the UK National Archives' collection of nonconformist birth, marriage and death records from 1567 has gone online for the first time. A new partnership project between The National Archives and S&N Genealogy Supplies means that you can now access images of these records online. BMD Registers provides access to the non-parochial and nonconformist registers 1567-1840 held in RG 4 and RG 5.

The National Archives holds 5,000 registers of a huge variety of nonconformist congregations, including Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Protestant Dissenters (known as 'Dr Williams Library') and Independents. There are also registers from a small number of Roman Catholic communities. Basic searching is free of charge, but there is a fee for advanced searching and to download images.The entries are rich in detail and may include material about up to three generations of a family.

When the project is complete you will also be able to access further miscellaneous birth, marriage and death records from the series RG 6-8, RG 32-36 and BT 158-160. These include records of Quakers, of foreign congregations in England and of clandestine marriages before 1754, as well as miscellaneous foreign returns, and records of life events occurring at sea.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Tips on obtaining burial information in the UK

If you've ever bumped into a problem locating burial information in the United Kingdom, you re not alone, according to an article by Shelley Poblete, "UK Burials: The Value of Persistence." In addition to persistence, she suggests, an "understanding of English burials can be extremely useful."

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Genealogy recap and prediction for the future

In a Computerworld article, "Coming Soon: The Mother of All Genealogy Databases." Mike Elgan writes, "I've always found genealogy boring. But it's about to get exciting, very exciting, and for everybody." The article summarizes where genealogy has come in the last 10 years, and what the author finds exciting is his prediction of where it will go in the next 10 years.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Boilerplate biographies may prove enlightening

As researchers, we are always happy be made aware of little known or under-utilized resources. This week's article by Judy Rosella-Edwards, "From Apples to Oranges: Portrait and Biographical Albums," brings attention to just such a resource, the "Portrait and Biographical Albums" of Chapman Bros. and Chapman Publishing, which contain valuable personal accounts of early immigrants and pioneers in select states and counties. The article discusses the benefit and limitations of these "boilerplate" publications. What I think is particularly interesting is even though an account may not be your own family member, the experiences within a given locality or time period may reflect experiences that parallel that of your ancestors, as the article points out. Certainly another resource worth exploring.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Louisiana Creole Cultural Conference, Set 22

A Times-Picayune article on, "Conference on Creole culture starts Sept. 22," announces the Louisiana Creole Research Association, two-day conference, Sept. 22 and 23, with the theme "Louisiana Creoles of Color: Inspiration, Admiration and Race Relations" at the Chateau Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans. For information about the conference or LA Creole, go to

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Survey suggests ancestors' lives not so different from our own

An entertaining article in the The Guardian, "Happy in our Skeletons," reports on an survey that reveals "you are far more likely to discover that your grandparents weren't married or your great uncle was married twice - but at the same time - than you are to learn that Prince William is your third cousin." The article makes the point that we tend to romanticize the past, but people then lived pretty much as we do today, with the same temptations and foibles -- it just wasn't as public.then as it is today, owing to modern news media and modern forms of documentation.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Argentine database online at

As announced in a recent press release, the largest online genealogy tree database of Argentinian people is now online at through a recent partnership with

“When I was contacted by I recognized immediately the benefits of this partnership. The database has a lot of family data that branches into North American family records. will be the key to reach them and to develop those links,” said Francisco Fernández Bell Fano, President,

Fernández Bell Fano started the project in an effort to learn more about his family. The project has now expanded to include more than 130,000 entries which are all connected to one another and not a loose list of individuals from different sources. This database is considered to be the largest genealogical database in South America.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Researching Libraries From Home

It is no secret the Internet has revolutionized genealogy, making it easier for researchers to locate records in far-flung places. In her article, "Researching Libraries From Home," Gena Philibert-Ortega explores online access to library holdings, showing it is now possible to "conduct research virtually anytime and, with a laptop computer, anywhere." The article provides links to key resources for accessing books and information at libraries worldwide.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Researching Extinct Counties in Virginia

As noted by Melissa Slate in her article, "They Came and They Went: Extinct Counties of Virginia," one stumbling block that beginning genealogists often encounter is the changing boundaries within the regions that they are researching. Boundaries may have changed many times during the course of a location's history, so it cannot be emphasized strongly enough to research the backgrounds of the localities in which you are doing your research. . . . Virginia is a particular challenge for researchers." The article provides information on specific counties in Virginia--many of which no longer exist, which experienced boundary changes.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Middle East DNA testing links to deep ancestry wall chart in Arabic

Announced in a press release yesterday,, offering Family Ancestry testing in the Middle East is now set to launch new wall chart in Arabic. Eastern Biotech & Life Sciences is set to launch a new Wall Chart of DNA Ancestry services to the people of the Middle East to help them invent their deep ancestors from 150,000 years ago. The roots of this tree lie more than 100,000 years in the past, at a time when our hunter-gatherer ancestors were living in Africa. As the branches of the tree multiply, they record the history of our species and the dramatic stories of how pioneering groups of humans explored and populated our planet. The different journeys they made shaped the world we know today.

From a simple mouth swab customers can identify key genetic markers within thier unique DNA. “By comparing these markers with genetic information taken from thousands of men and women living all across the world, we can reveal how your personal family history is descended from these epic events”, said Eng. Aida Omar, Marketing Executive of Eastern Biotech & Life Sciences.

DNA forms an unbroken chain from generation to generation, connecting you to your ancestors some 150,000 years ago, around 7,000 generations back. “Your DNA is passed from both of your parents. That is the reason we offer two paths (Paternal & Maternal) to construct your wallchart” said Eng. Aida Omar.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ancestry launches new Swedish-language web site

The Generations Network, Inc., this week unveiled -- a new family history Web site focused on Sweden, as noted in a press release. At launch, the Swedish-language site offers access to more than 37 million names of historical Swedish parish and emigration records, all of which are available for U.S. subscribers on

In 2007 alone, The Generations Network has introduced four international sites, bringing the tally of Ancestry sites to eight. The Ancestry suite of sites now includes in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Canada, in Australia, in Germany, in Italy, in France and in Sweden. As with other sister-sites, offers Swedish-language tree building tools and lets users tap into the world-wide Ancestry community -- the largest global community of individuals searching for their family roots -- as well as an ever-expanding collection of local historical records. . . . Included in these records are more than 1.7 million names in Swedish emigration records, online for the first time. These various emigration records were created in Sweden and cover the major exodus between 1846 and 1930, when about 20 percent of the Swedish population immigrated to North America.

Users will also find more than 36 million names in Swedish parish records on The records, covering more than four centuries of historical data from 81 parishes in the county of Varmland, provide interesting details such as names, dates and places of birth, and marriage and death information.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Old Cook County vital records to be online

As noted in the Chicago Tribune, "Old county records being put online," professional genealogists and people interested in researching their family tree will soon be able to access key records from home instead of ordering by mail or traipsing down to a musty office in the Loop, Cook County Clerk David Orr said Thursday. If all goes as planned, newly digitized versions of county records such as birth and death certificates and marriage licenses will be available beginning in January on one searchable Web site that will revolutionize how such research is done, Orr said.

The Web site is part of a massive yearlong effort to digitize the county's 24 million vital records, which date to 1871, when record-keeping began after the Chicago Fire wiped out previous stockpiles, clerk's office spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. The records have stacked up for decades in the basement area of the county's administration building at Clark and Randolph Streets, where conditions have not been ideal. . . . The process is expected to be complete by the end of the year, Quinn said.

Documents available online will be birth certificates that are at least 75 years old, marriage certificates more than 50 years old, and death certificates more than 20 years old, Quinn said. . . . Users can pay a fee to download records and print them at home. Certified copies, which are required to obtain official documents such as a driver's license, will not be available online. No Social Security numbers will be available on the online documents, she said.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Searching for Family Bibles

No question about it, Family Bibles are a treasure. I had the good fortune early in my genealogical career to personally view several family Bibles and photocopy important pages. The information is priceless. In her article, "Family Bibles Are Worth the Wait," Karan Pittman suggests taking a proactive approach to locating family Bibles and offers a variety of avenues to explore in your quest.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thousands of New Zealand headstone photos online

Good news on TVNZ, "Council puts the dead online." An online cemetery is proving a valuable tool for New Zealanders keen to trace their family history. Timaru District Council has put thousands of images on its web site after laboriously taking 35,500 photos of headstones. Council spokesman Bill Steans says the council took the photos from six cemeteries and loaded every single headstone onto their website. He says the site helps relatives find graves, whether they are local or living overseas, and is also used for paying respects. To search these records visit, Timaru District Council Online.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Maps aid and enhance research

Maps are great aids to genealogy research, and can help you understand more about your ancestor's environment. In his article, "Maps and Genealogy," Alan Smith gives a brief rationale for using maps and suggests a number of map resources. Of particular interest is the online University of Texas Libraries map collection web site which provides access to map in Texas and elsewhere, as well as providing links to other online map resources.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Who Do You Think You Are" now a magazine

As reported on Digital Spy, "BBC launches 'Who Do You Think You Are' magazine," the BBC is to launch a Who Do You Think You Are? magazine off the back of the successful genealogy series of the same name. The show, which returns for its fourth series on BBC One on Thursday, has already been the subject of a live exhibition at London's Olympia in May this year. Previous guests on the TV show, including Colin Jackson, Ian Hislop and David Baddiel, attended the event and talked their experiences.

The new 100-page full-colour magazine will be produced by BBC Magazines Bristol and launches on September 25 for a cost of £4.25. Each issue will include a DVD or CD with clips of the BBC show and archive material. A website to support the magazine goes live later this week. Genealogy website - which also sponsored the live show - will reportedly act as the data provider for the BBC web site. Production company Wall to Wall, which produces the series, has also announced a second live show for May 2008.

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Orphan homes played important role in times past

Those with Indiana ancestry might find interesting a column on orphanages in Vigo County,"Genealogy: Orphanages play important role in history." Although orphans’ homes are now a thing of the past in today’s society, they played an important role in earlier centuries, the article states. For genealogists, finding an ancestor or relative who was placed in an orphanage can be a challenge. But in Indiana, one local woman, herself an adoptee, has spent the past three years building some impressive Web sites to honor Vigo County’s three orphanages and their past residents. Jennifer Krockenberger has built sites that tell the history of each institution, feature a variety of pictures and photos, offer a place for former residents to post queries or reminisce, and provide links to the federal censuses for each institution. Visit these sites at,, and

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Ancestry DNA service in Beta

Not to be outdone, has launched a beta version of its new DNA Ancestry service, according to an article on Currently the service offers three genealogical tests, two Paternal Lineage tests (Y chromosome 33 marker and Y chromosome 46 marker), and a Maternal Lineage Test. Prices range from $149-$199, depending on the test, as reported on If you've already had your DNA tested with another company, DNA Ancestry has a function that will let users add their test results to the DNA Ancestry database and allow them to connect with others who share their DNA.

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Florida cemetery improvies information access and accuracy

Worth noting is an article in The High Springs Herald (Florida), "Newberry documents every grave site as part of major cemetery overhaul." According to the article, Newberry's General Services Department has updated and corrected the information on thousands of burial sites at the Newberry Cemetery over the past six months. A newly constructed kiosk, donated by local business owners, shows all of the compiled information so people can locate specific grave sites. In the kiosk is a large map of the cemetery and an alphabetical listing of those laid to rest. Following the names are detailed descriptions of where their site is located. Ideally, the kiosk will be updated every month.

While the records associated with the cemetery are now organized in an impeccably neat 5-inch binder as well as a computer program, the records used to consist of a single, old binder full of mismatched papers from nearly a century of records.

I could not find on the city's web site that this specific updated information is available online, I did find a transcription for Newberry Cemetery on Rootsweb.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

New family history web site launched in UK

According to an article on New Media Age in the UK, "Telegraph launches family history site," and the Telegraph Media Group today launched a white-label family history site, Telegraph Family History.

The has agreed a deal with to take on a white label version of the site that will be branded Telegraph Family History. The move will mean that visitors to the Telegraph site will have access to findmypast's historical records. The site offers unlimited and pay per view access. The new site will be available from the front page of the as well.

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Cemetery for US 'Flying Tigers' found in China

An interesting article in China Daily, "Cemetery for US 'Flying Tigers' found in China," indicates researchers have found in Southwest China a cemetery built during the Second World War where about 300 air warriors of the US squadron "Flying Tigers" were buried. The cemetery lies in the woods in Puzhao village in the northeastern suburbs of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, said Sun Guansheng, head of the Yunnan Flying Tigers Research Association. About 300 Flying Tigers members and 500 Chinese airmen were buried in the cemetery when it was first built near a nunnery in the village in 1943. The cemetery was moved to the current site in 1949, according to Sun.

"Many people came to pay their respect to the air warriors before it was moved. However, few people are coming at present," Sun quoted local elder villagers as saying.

Many tombs have sunk decades after they were built, and the cemetery as a whole lacks due protection, Sun said, adding that the association has called on the local government to repair and protect the cemetery.

The article goes on to give an account of the heroic Flying Tigers in China during the war.

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Israel-made web sites growing in popularity

An article in Israel Today, "Israeli-made genealogy websites all the rage," reporting on the growing interest in genealogy observes, a couple of Israeli Internet startups are trying to make the task of mapping one's family tree even easier, and they are gaining a huge following. Those mentioned My,, and are "only the latest in a long list of Israeli Internet and technology innovations," the article states.

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