Friday, April 9, 2010

Beware of relatives seeking cash . . .

As the saying goes, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts," that in reference, of course, to the Trojan Horse. All is not as it appears. Today that might read, "Beware of relatives seeking cash."

Last week's issue of GenWeekly focused to some extent on genealogy fraud. This week, an article from the Colony Courier-Leader, "AG warns of grandparent scam,"reports a caution from the Texas Attorney General about scams targeting seniors, grandparents, in particular. The problem is not limited to Texas.

The scam "plays upon a grandparent's natural desire to protect a grandchild. Although variations of this scam have been around for a long time, it has become more sophisticated with the proliferation of information on the Internet. Con artists are more often using personal information gleaned from family blogs, genealogy Web sites, social networking sites, and online newspapers to add credibility to their calls. Reports from law enforcement agencies around the country suggest that the scam works too often." [italics my own]

We have noted on this blog and in various GenWeekly articles the dangers of putting too much personal information online, including family trees, social networks, and blogs. So this is just another word of caution.

"Law enforcement agencies encourage [residents] to always exercise some skepticism when they receive telephone calls urgently requesting money."

The article goes on to suggest ways to detect and avert a scam -- it's definitely worth taking the time to read.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Is Alice in YOUR family tree?

It may not be such a stretch when you consider authors often base their characters on real people. The inspirations for the works of James Barrie and Lewis Carrroll just happen to be well known. With all the hype over Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland, which is certainly a far cry from Disney, prompted one enterprising genealogist trace the original Alice's family tree, according to an article on Oxford Mail, "Rose Hill woman's 'Liddell' bit of Alice in Wonderland." More or less out of the blue, an Oxford woman, Lisa Liddell, received a call telling her she was a cousin three times removed from the original Alice. According to the article Liddell had some prior knowledge of a supposed link to Alice, but it wasn't fresh on her mind. What fictional character would you like most to be related?

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Hail to the Chief

Much has been written about the family trees of the presidential candidates and who they are related to, but what about you -- are you related to a presidential candidate or other politician? In her article, "Hail to the Chief," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers some resources for checking into any rumors or family tradition suggesting you might be related.

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World's longest family tree

With a history of over 2,500 years covering more than 80 generations, and the longest family tree in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, the fifth edition of the Confucius Genealogy will be printed in several volumes in 2009, according to an organizer of the Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (CGCC), it was reported in an article on, "New Confucius Genealogy out next year."

The Confucius Genealogy, originally recorded by hand, was first printed in 1080 AD during the Northern Song Dynasty. Since then it has been revised only four times, during the reigns of Ming Emperor Tianqi, Qing Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong, and finally in 1937 during the Republican period. . . . According to the genealogy's chief editor Kong Dewei, the fifth edition contains over 1.3 million new entries. Living descendants have to pay five yuan (70 US cents) to be included. The dead get in for free. The 1937 edition had 600,000 entries, so the new edition contains more than two million.

Kong Deyong said that after the People's Republic of China was established in 1949 campaigns against the "Four Olds" (old customs, culture, habits and ideas) meant that people stopped talking about their family trees and considered them relics of feudalism. Since the opening-up policy began in the 1980s, the situation has changed, but many people are still reluctant to talk about the subject. This extensive article goes on to discuss details, the controversy, and new discoveries of the project.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

On the go with MobileFamilyTree 1.2

Synium Software has announced MobileFamilyTree 1.2, the Mobile version of its popular genealogy application. MobileFamilyTree is an iPhone and iPod Touch companion for MacFamilyTree. In just about a month, MobileFamilyTree has gained high rankings at the App Store — the first and only genealogy tool for the iPhone and iPod touch.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Family tree mapping software integrates with Google Earth

According to a recent press release, a new software package entitled "Map My Ancestors" aims to link the world of Genealogy with the powerful mapping capabilities of Google Earth. Published in the UK by Integrated Earth, "Map My Ancestors" enables users who have exported their family tree from their favourite editing program in the industry standard GEDCOM format, to automatically read and identify places from their tree. A unique feature allows the user to view ratings for the locations which will help them to identify and correct any errors in the automatically assigned locations. Locations that have been corrected are remembered in an internal database so that the user doesn’t need to repeat the process next time a revised GEDCOM file is imported.

"Map My Ancestors" can also save the resulting geographic data in KMZ or KML format, ready to be emailed or published on a web site – enabling other relations or friends to view the data in Google Earth without any other Family Tree software. Since Map My Ancestors uses the online Yahoo Geocoding technology to locate places it has been possible to keep download sizes small enabling a trial version to be made available. Visit for more information to see a tutorial video, and to download and a free trial copy of "Map My Ancestors."

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Monday, January 7, 2008 adds new features

Genealogy and family networking website,, introduces new ways for families to preserve their history and stay connected, as stated in a press release today. Timeline and Family News are the latest features to be added to it's growing list of site enhancements. The launch of these features enables family and friends to begin working together to build digital scrapbooks of their lives and the lives of their family.

The Timeline is a new profile section that shows a visual history of the events in a person's life. Each event has its own page that can contain additional information, photos, attendees, and comments. When an attendee is added to an event, the event appears in their timeline too. In the process of building their own timeline users are likely to help complete the timelines of other family members.

"We are making the process of building family history collaborative, in the same way that we made the process of building the family tree collaborative," said Geni's CEO David Sacks.

A related feature that Geni has launched is Family News. Family News provides a single page where users can track everything going on in their family, including additions to their family tree and timelines, birthdays, photos, discussions, comments, and more. It does this by surfacing all the new content created on Geni by a user's family. Users can also quickly post news themselves. Privacy settings allow users to control who is in their Family group and which of their activity will appear in Family News.

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Monday, November 19, 2007 2.0 Beta adds online family trees from

It was in the summer of 2000, following a family reunion in Denver, that I first signed up with It has been a great "meeting place" for our extended family, from Alaska to Arizona, California to Tennessee. We have planned and executed two additional family reunions in the seven years plus that we have been online. We have shared much on the site, including family photos and announcements to all the family of both happy and the sad events. is now underway with a complete redesign, including the launch of its Family Trees application through the integration of's family tree service, which enables members to create and share family trees within their sites. With this release, members can now create, share, print and publish an online family tree. This new feature links users research tools and services provided by its sister site As noted in the press release, one of the most popular new features of 2.0 beta is SnapGenie, a photo slide show with voice narration that makes telling stories much more personal and captivating. Users can easily record their voice by calling a toll-free number and telling the story behind the pictures in their own voice. And while we are comfortable with the old and familiar, I'll be anxious to try out these new features.

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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, June 22, 2007

Take me out to the ballgame . . .

If someone in your family tree played professional baseball or even if you are simply an ardent fan, you will be interested in Gena Philibert-Ortega's most recent article, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Researching Baseball Players." While the basic methods of research apply to everyone, as Gena points out, the great thing about researching someone who may have gained some fame, even a small amount, is that they are more likely to have left a public trail for us to track, including newspaper articles and interviews, articles in magazines and books, etc. When it comes to baseball, Gena provides a number of resources, including research on the Negro leagues, women in baseball, and even prison leagues. Interesting and fun resources to browse, whether or not it applies to your own family tree.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Wanted: Liverpool's oldest family family tree

In a recent news item, "Wanted: Liverpool's oldest family tree," the Liverpool City Council announced a competition to "root out Liverpool's longest established family," with the winners becoming special VIPs on the city's 800th birthday, August 28. To assist families in their research, a special Liverpool 800 family history pack has been produced, which can be picked up at any of the city's libraries or downloaded for free at the Liverpool Record Office web site.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Ancestry users create 1 million family trees in six months

In a press release today,, announced that more than 1 million online family trees have been created since the site's new tree-building and sharing features launched in late July 2006. In building family trees, users have added an estimated 150 million names, uploaded 400,000 photos and attached 10 million family history documents directly from's 23,000 historical records collections.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

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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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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