Friday, August 29, 2008

New book sheds light on the Scottish settlement of Ulster

As recently reported on, "Book tracks Scottish roots of Ulster Plantation settlers," David Dobson's book, Scotland During the Plantation of Ulster, is designed to assist family historians researching their origins in Dumfries and Galloway during the 17th century. Since only three of 86 parish registers of the Church of Scotland prior to 1685 survive for this area, Dobson’s researches attempt to fill the void as best as possible. The volume is based, overwhelmingly, on primary sources in the National Archives of Scotland and Edinburgh, and is fully referenced.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNA Refresher, Part 1

For those not entirely familiar with the details of DNA testing relative to family history research or those interested in a refresher, Teresa Hilburn's article, "Genetic Genealogy & Family Tree Research, Part 1," aims at providing the basics in simple terms. The article identifies the purposes of the two types of DNA tests available, who qualifies for each type testing, and why. The article also makes clear that DNA testing is a non-invasive procedure, explores the cost, and gives tips on selecting a DNA testing company.


MacFamilyTree Update Includes Improved Chart Editing

As reported in PC World, "MacFamilyTree Update Includes Improved Chart Editing," Genealogy application MacFamilyTree has been updated to version 5.2.5, improving on several of the features in the application. Among the changes in the new version are some fixes for MobileFamilyTree export. MobileFamilyTree is the company's mobile genealogy for your iPhone or iPod touch. The update also includes fixes for the Virtual Tree, improved PDF export, the ability to generate kekule numbers directly from the ancestor or descendant chart, and improved chart editing.
The update is available from the company's Web site. For new users MacFamilyTree costs $49.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Photos as documentation? Maybe not . . .

We've all had the urge, no doubt, at some point, to completely erase a chapter of our lives or make a few tidy changes to the past. We now have that power, it seems, but at what cost? The article, "Photoshop vs. history," on discusses the practice altering photos using modern image-editing software and thereby altering history. Is it revisionist history or something more? Revisionist history is the revision of history based on new information or the reinterpretation of existing information. Given the types of manipulations, the question becomes, what can you trust? As the article suggests it's "just a tad scary -- to contemplate the possibility that many of the tangible artifacts our civilization leaves behind may prove to be, well, lies."

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Resources examine 1918 Flu

Today's article, "The Influenza Epidemic of 1918," on, Kimberly's Genealogy Blog provides some interesting additional sources for those researching ancestors during the 1917-1918 time period, including the Influenza Digital Archive out of the University of Michigan's Center for the History of Medicine and the Pandemic Influenza Storybook, among others. As noted in the article, "Most are aware that WWI had a devastating impact on our ancestral history, claiming an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic of 1918, however, killed an estimated 50 million people, nearly a fifth of the world's population. Yet, it is rarely afforded more than a footnote in the historical accounts of the time.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Keeping an eye out for census detail

Census records are among the most commonly used genealogical resources, and the Internet has exponentially increased access. Census records are available on many web sites, some free and some fee-based. In her article, "Looking "Into" Rather Than "At" Census Records," Judy Rosella Edwards emphasizes the importance of certain details in the census record that may be compromised in the process of transcription. Although indexes and other secondary sources may be great finding tools, where possible it's always good to view the original image, on microfilm or online and readily available, without charge, at many libraries and Family History Centers.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Local area news can inform your genealogy

If you have early Michigan ancestry, you might be interested in the Detroit Free Press article, "This week in Michigan history: Cholera epidemic ravages Detroit." On Aug. 24, 1834, a second wave of the cholera epidemic struck Detroit, the article reports. Hundreds of Detroiters are believed to have died in August and September 1834 of cholera, which results from a bacterial infection of the intestine and can cause acute diarrhea, shock and severe dehydration in a short time. . . . City officials typically rang a bell when someone died. The custom was discontinued when the ringing became so frequent that it caused panic. The cholera epidemic, which first appeared in 1832, returned to Detroit several times from 1849 to 1865.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Cook County, Illinois -- Genealogy Online

A new Web site offered by the Cook County Clerk's office aims at helping users research their ancestry, according to a recent article. Cook County Genealogy Online, a recently unveiled online database will make available more than 6 million historical Cook County vital records, with free index searches. For a fee, genealogists can download high-resolution scans of original documents. The site does not provide access to all vital records, however. As noted in the article, by Illinois law, genealogy records are defined as birth certificates 75 years or older; marriage licenses 50 years or older; and death certificates 20 years or older. For more information visit the Cook County Genealogy Online web site.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Added Value of Delayed Birth Certficates

Vital records are important sources of information, and one type of vital record may be particular interest, as discussed by Gena Philibert-Ortega in her article, "Delayed Birth Certificates." A delayed birth certificate is proof of birth available to those who birth, for whatever reason, was not registered at the time of the event, most commonly those who were born before civil (government) registration of births became mandatory. In applying for a delayed birth certificate various documents and affidavits had to be presented as proof. It is these accompanying documents and affidavits that give delayed birth certificates their added value.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

National Archives at Kew puts Indian Army medal index cards online

In a recent the press release, The National Archives at Kew (UK) announced the public can now search online and download the medal index cards of more than 20,000 soldiers who served in the Indian Army during World War One. The cards record the soldiers who were entitled to, or made a claim for, campaign medals - in particular the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Many soldiers were also awarded one or more clasps to go with the British War Medal, and this is also recorded on the cards. The Indian Army medal index cards can be found in the record series WO 372, within pieces WO 372/25 to WO 372/29. Unlike the other medal index cards, which have been scanned six per page, you will only receive one medal card per download.

For the first time you can now search and download service records of officers who served in the Royal Navy. These records were kept by the Admiralty from the 1840s and record service for warrant officers joining the Royal Navy up to 1931 and commissioned officers joining the service up to 1917, including King George VI.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In her continuing series on New Orleans, Judy Rosella Edwards presents "New Orleans Immigrant Origins," suggesting resources and providing insight into the ethnic origins of those arriving at the Port of New Orleans in the mid- to late-1800s. It was interesting to note that a research group interested in German immigration had transcribed complete passenger lists of vessels carrying German passengers, even if only one passenger on board was German. A boon for other researchers, as well. Although not everyone who passed through New Orleans remained, it was an important point of immigration.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

UK vital records web project halted

As reported August 16 on the, "Ancestry hunters stuck in the past as web project fails," genealogists reacted with anger . . . after it emerged that a government website, which promised direct access to 171 years of family records, had been delayed indefinitely following the failure of a Whitehall computer project.

An attempt to scan, index and digitise 250m records of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales from 1837 to the present day was supposed to result in a new public website that would let people trace their ancestors at the touch of a button next February. Now, three years after the government awarded the £16m contract to German computer giant Siemens, the deal has been terminated with only half the work done. It was hoped that the online record would slash costs and speed up the process of tracing ancestry. The collapse means family tree enthusiasts must continue asking for copies of documents by post, which can take seven days and costs £7 or £10 a time.

The failure drew strong criticism from genealogists who were already dismayed that last October the government removed access to paper ledgers that contained indexes of births marriages and deaths at the family records centre in London when it decided to launch the website.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

"Ratings Gold" -- "Who Do You Think You Are" returns

With all the press over actress Patsy Kensit's meltdown on the BBC series "Who Do You Do You Think You Are," its return to the air this season is old news. But it was all good news for the BBC. As reported in an article on Digital Spy, the show's return was "ratings gold" for the BBC with a 29.9% ratings, up from 29.5% the previous year. The show is now in its fifth season and has reportedly been renewed for yet another year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mapping the World and Its Data

Maps are excellent tools, fun and interesting, but can be intimidating, especially for those new to genealogy. Today's technology has made maps more accessible and the task of working with maps considerably easier; and yes, even fun. In his article, "Mapping the World and Its Data," Larry Naukam gives us a primer on super-imposing old maps onto Google Earth for a then-and-now comparison all for free.. If you haven't yet discovered Google Earth, it is satellite imagery that lets you zoom in to view virtually any place on the planet. Superimposing an old map onto Google Earth allows you to walk the land, so to speak and gain new insights into your family history.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New online resource for U.S. immigration services

A recent article on announced a new program started by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to streamline the process of finding information — but the convenience comes at a price. The USCIS Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program; a single index search is $20 and record requests are charged additional fees.

The USCIS has records dating back to the late 1800's documenting the arrival and naturalization of millions of immigrants, and also has records of people naturalized citizens between 1906 and 1956. According to the article, the new program replaces a Freedom of Information Act process that was required to get the information. USCIS reported receiving over 40,000 requests for historical records in the last four years. For more information, visit the USCIS web site.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

The value of patterns in genealogy research

As noted in her article, "Mustering Up the Courage to Delve into Military Rosters," Judy Rosella Edwards suggests an otherwise dry list of facts and/or names can become interesting when you begin to observe patterns and the inklings of story beneath the surface. Perhaps examining these lists in reference to your own ancestors and others who served with them may tell you more than you might have imagined, about the unit, the politics, or even the person.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

State Library of Pennsylvania Genealogy Day, Sep 20

The State Library of Pennsylvania will celebrate its second annual Genealogy Day on Saturday, Sept. 20, with exhibits and information sessions. The State Library is located in the Forum Building, Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street, in Harrisburg. For more information, contact Marc Bender at the State Library, (717) 705-6272 or To learn more about Pennsylvania libraries, please visit the Department of Education Web site at

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Early Colonial Life

It's hard for us to imagine today what life was like in Colonial or pioneer times, when people set out with their families into the wilderness to establish homes and make a life. It's hard to imagine the forces prompting people to endure such hardships and harder still to believe that any survived. In her article, "Early Colonial Life," Melissa Slate once again provides some insight into that early life. What might surprise you is the role that taverns played in the community.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sharing your genealogy through publishing

One of the most important aspects of genealogy is sharing your work with others, which is also one of the best ways of connecting with others and adding new information. In her article, "Is It Time To Publish My Family Tree," Teresa Hilburn offers some suggestions and encouragement for those considering taking that next step.

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