Friday, May 23, 2008

In Flanders Field the Poppies Blow . . .

Memorial Day is the day to honor the fallen, and has come to be a day when we remember all who have gone before. In her article, "The History of Memorial Day," Gena Philbert Ortega provides background for this important holiday and the wearing red poppies on this day, which has truly great meaning.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

MacFamily Tree 5.2 offers 3d Virtual Tree

According to a recent press release, Synium has rolled out its MacFamily Tree 5.2 public beta with the new 3D Virtual Tree.

Never get lost. Navigate even the most complex kinships - in 3D. With our new Virtual Tree, MacFamilyTree 5.2 intuitively displays all kinds of family relations. Hobbyists as well as genealogy experts will fancy the Virtual Tree, making it easy to inspect and navigate one's entire family tree database.

From all perspectives, close-up and from a broader angle, MacFamilyTree renders a three-dimensional mesh of persons and their relations. Highlight common characteristics using different colors and shapes. Navigating the Virtual Tree is simple: just point, click and drag with your mouse, or use a dedicated Navigator to literally fly through your own ancestry.

MacFamilyTree 5.2 also significantly enhances GUI and workflow for editing families. Additionally, GEDCOM import is now even faster than before, and HTML export has been improved to better handle Media contents. This most recent update to version 5 is currently available as Public Beta and fully compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and its predecessor.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ancestry announces new partnership with National Archives

As announced on, " partners with National Archives," those interested in finding out whether their great-great-great grandfather was a German farmer or an Austrian shoe cobbler may have an easier time doing so, thanks to a new partnership between and the National Archives. The D.C.-based Archives and the genealogy Web site signed an agreement Tuesday that would allow to digitize many of its records and make them available online for family tree enthusiasts.

“The National Archives has, truly, billions of documents and without partnerships like this, they have no really good way or substantial budget to digitize them themselves,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive of

Under the agreement, will make INS passenger arrival and departure lists between 1897 and 1958 available. Researchers will also be able to find death notices for U.S. citizens abroad between 1835-1974.The company previously worked with the Archives to put census records online, Sullivan said, and will put up additional information as their relationship progresses.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Take one kerosene cube and call me in the morning."

Researching the social history of our ancestors is interesting and can tickle the funny-bone. Makes you wonder fifty years down the road, we are doing now that will amuse our great-grandchildren the clothes, for sure always the clothes. But what about our daily life and the things we take for granted, what new medicines will make the common pill a primitive treatment? In her article, "Medicine in Rural Appalachia," Melissa Slate takes an incredulous look at home remedies from days gone by, and while it may seem shocking and amusing all at once, it is also enlightening, helping us to better understand and appreciate our ancestors.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

FamilySearch and FamilyLink. bring German collection online

FamilySearch recently announced an inaugural project in concert with, Inc., to digitize and index a valuable German genealogy collection containing over 3.5 million names from the period of 1650-1875. The Brenner Collection contains 3.5 million names on more than 750 rolls of microfilm, representing between 900,000 and 1.5 million images. A final count will be determined once all of the records have been indexed. The complete Brenner Collection database is scheduled to be online at by the end of this year, although segments of the database will be launched in the interim.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

FamilyLink and FamilySearch partner to improve FHL Catalog searches

Be looking for a new way to access and use the Family History Library Catalog. In a press release yesterday,, Inc announced it has teamed with FamilySearch to improve the user experience of the Family History Library Catalog. The new features include improved searching, making the catalog searchable by major online search engines and guided searching to help users decide which sources might be most helpful based on what they want to know. Another enhancement will allow for greater interactivity. Every catalog entry will link to an online or digital resource, if available, allowing users to buy the book or search for the nearest copy.

“We are excited to work with FamilySearch and to add this extensive catalog to our database collections,” said Paul Allen, CEO,, Inc. “We have looked at doing this collaboration for quite a while. We will enhance the catalog by connecting it with new innovative tools, along with the best resources of our databases, the social networking site, and our We’re Related application in Facebook. Putting all of these resources together will dramatically change the meaning of 'search' in genealogy.”

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Century-old Tombstone Found on Houseboat

Lost and found, one tombstone. An engaging story by Melissa Slate, "Century-old Tombstone Found on Houseboat," tells the story of one child's tombstone found in an unlikely place and restored to the family through the efforts and expertise of a genealogist.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Footnote gives 1860 U. S. Census a new twist

As noted on, the 1860 U.S. Census made an appearance at historical records subscription site this past week and brings something "a bit different to the table," - allowing users to enhance census listings by adding photos, stories, comments and related documents. has included the 1860 U.S. Census to its Civil War collection which also includes service records of Confederate soldiers, a pension index for Union soldiers, and Southern Claims Commission files. Footnote is also working with FamilySearch and the National Archives to digitize the actual pension applications for Union widows -- this alone is excellent news!

The new 1860 U.S. Census database is available online to paid subscribers at, and is also available for free to users at local Family History Centers and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. If you're unable to locate someone you expect to find, don't panic. As of today the 1860 census database is only 66% complete, with the rest to come.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The right to privacy vs freedom of information -- respect is key

Genealogists may be confronted by certain legal issues in the gathering of family history information. It's important for researchers to be aware of the issues and respect the concerns, at the same time working toward demonstrating responsible use of information acquired and shared. In his article, "The Law and Genealogy," Alan Smith explores specific areas of potential conflict.


England and Scotland research guides now available

FamilySearch has announced the release of two research tools, "Finding Records of Your Ancestors, England" and "Finding Records of Your Ancestors, Scotland." Free copies can be viewed, downloaded, or printed online at

The guides are designed for those who have already gathered some family history information about their English or Scottish ancestors and are ready to search public and private records. The guides explain different types of records in England and Scotland, and instruct the user when and how to use specific records. Also included are maps, key dates in English and Scottish history, and guides for reading respective genealogical records.

The two guides are the latest additions to a series of free online publications. Others topics include African-American, Danish, Finnish, French, Icelandic, Italian, Jewish, Mexican, Norwegian and Swedish family research.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008 adds GEDCOM upload feature

Family networking site announced in a recent press release that genealogists can now import their family history into Geni using the popular GEDCOM format. The new feature makes it easy move existing research into Geni and share it with others. David Sacks, CEO of Geni, stated, "Genealogists have been asking for the ability to import their GEDCOM files to Geni and now they can." Since its launch in January 2007 as a simple tool to create a family tree, has continued adding social networking features and enhancements.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day 2008

Although its traditions and dates may vary, Mother's Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, dating back to ancient Greece. Honoring mothers, it seems, is a natural thing to do. In her article, "Mother's Day: More Than a Commercial Holiday," Melissa Slate reminds us of the origins of Mother's Day, and its long tradition in the U. S. and in England.


Friday, May 9, 2008

Update to U.S. vital records online

Vital records are those primary source documents genealogists have spent many hours, many dollars, and, at times, much frustration researching and acquiring. Today, the task is much easier (though not always less expensive), and the hope of finding a key record is much higher, thanks to the massive digitation efforts underway in many camps across the globe. In her article, United States Vital Records Online," Gena Philibert-Ortega observes, provides an update on vital records available in the U. S., noting, at this time, she is referencing only actual vital records documents, not all documents in which vital information may be found. So take heart -- even if the information you seek is not in vital records documents, it may well be someplace else. Among the records available online, a great many are indexes, which are subject to error. As the author points out, the information in indexes may vary across information providers. Information in one index may not include information revealed in another index, or information in one may be in error and another more accurate. So it's not all cakes and pies, kids. Even though more records are increasingly made available, considerable research is still required -- it's just a little easier today.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

NGS and the Southern California Jamboree, coming up

Two big genealogy conferences are coming up, NGS in May and the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in June.

As announced previously, The 2008 NGS Conference In the States and Family History Fair will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, 14-17 May 2008, while the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree and Research Expo will hold its annual Jamboree, June 27-29 in Burbank California. There's still time to register for either conference; be sure to reserve your hotel as soon as possible.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Genealogy Wikis

Pretty much anyone who uses the Internet is familiar with Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Wikipedia differs from all other other online encyclopedias in that its information can be added and edited by anyone. That is, of course, both and good and bad. The goal is to build on the collective knowledge of everyone interested in the topic with the aim of arriving at an accurate record. Genealogy wikis have the same aim. You can add to and edit an online family tree or add new information to help to build a more complete picture of your family, collectively with all your kin, near and far. Wiki is another type of social network. Even FamilySearch has jumped on the wiki bandwagon. In her article, "Genealogy Wikis," Gena Philibert-Ortega exlplores the benefits of wikis and directs you to current wiki sites.

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FamilySearch and focus on British records

FamilySearch announced in a press release today it is working with the UK family history Web site and The National Archives of the United Kingdom to increase access to select British historical records. The first major projects will provide access to millions of names of deceased British soldiers and seamen from the eighteenth to twentieth century. and FamilySearch were recently awarded licenses by The National Archives to digitize and make available both the Chelsea Pensioners retired soldiers records between 1760 and 1914, and the Merchant Seamen's collection of records dating from 1835 to 1941.

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