Friday, April 23, 2010

Resource Tips From a Pro

When it comes to genealogy resources, we all appreciate the essential, love to come across the innovative, and are . . . well, delighted . . . by the delightful. Even if you don't live in Canada or have Canadian ancestry. you may be interested to read the recent article by Tammy Tipler-Priolo, "Essentials, Innovations & Delights," on, as the author shares favorite resources used in her own "everyday research business." Among those mentioned are resources for Canadian, French Canadian, English, Irish, and Scottish research. When I was working in the software industry, in the field of human factors, the most successful programs went beyond functional to delight the users, which meant, exceeding expectation. To call a resource delightful is high praise, indeed.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

German Resources on the Internet

If you are just beginning your German research, Alan Smith, in his article, "German Resources on the Internet," suggests some Internet sites to get you started. As the author suggests, "studying a foreign country does present unique barriers," and may, at some point, benefit from the help of a local area researcher. Language can also present a barrier, although a little resourcefulness and familiarizing oneself with common words for common documents can help. In helping my niece with her Swedish research, I found a site that translated Swedish to English, allowing us to at least discern the key words in an important estate document. I'm sure similar problems exist for those on the other side, trying to locate ancestors who emigrated to the United States or another country.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

FREE Census Records Access on Footnote, through April

As noted on Randy Seaver's Genea-Musing blog, is offering FREE census records through the month of April.  The message indicates, "In order to view the images from the collection, visitors only need to register for free." Also noted was that Footnote is offering a "real deal" on its subscription rate to readers of the Dick Eastman blog: on $49.95, a $30 savings. You may want to check it out.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

All Things Irish

Included here in honor of St. Patrick's Day, those interested in Irish genealogy may enjoy The The Small-Leaved Shamrock blog, selected by Family Tree Magzine as one of the top 5 heritage blogs. Focused on the author's personal family history, this blog links to others of the author's blogs, including the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture blog, of more general interest.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Finding Relatives and Stories Lost in WWII

In her article, "Finding Relatives and Stories Lost in WWII," Rita Marshall discusses two free services that can be used to locate relatives who disappeared during the war, including those in concentration camp prisoners, forced laborers, or displaced persons. And where the family is known and accounted for, these resources can also help add to or fill in the blank spots in history. As the article notes, there is increasing interest in this information "from second and third generations that would like to learn more about their own roots."

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Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 Blogs may help navigate the seas

Earlier this week Family Tree Magazine announced its list of the 40 Best Genealogy Blogs. Everyone tends to follow a few favorite blogs -- there are way too many to read them all. But if you'd to expand your horizons or don't know which blogs to read, the top 40 categories may give you a place to start. Some have more eye-appeal and some make it easy to identify and navigate to items of interest. One such item caught my eye on the top-rated blog in the All-Around category, Creative Genes. I have been looking for city directories in New York City circa 1907-1910, so the City Directories link caught my eye. I found the blog offers a series of articles on city directories. While I've not read all articles in the series, and don't expect to find the answer to my specific question, the general information provided will, no doubt, be useful for anyone researching city directories. I remember in my early years of researching (pre-Internet), I was avoided city directories, thinking the field to vast an undertaking. The Internet has made the task less intimidating and more hopeful. I have since found some good information in city directories, and they are absolutely priceless for pinpointing a person in time and place . . . if one exists for your particular time and place. I'm not finding much encouragement for Manhattan city directories for my time period, but the search continues. So if you don't have a favorite set of genealogy blogs, you might use this year's top 40 list and take one or two a week to browse. 

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Friday, February 12, 2010

WorldCat -- A Mighty Kitty of Information!

Recently, in our Genealogy Guide, we gave a brief introduction to WorldCat, an international online library catalog. This week, our resident librarian, Larry Naukam expounds on the subject, telling us what WorldCat is and what it is not, "WorldCat - A Mighty Kitty of Information." We can more effectively use the resources and tools available to us when we understand their limitations as well as their benefits. For example, as extensive as it is, WorldCat does not catalog the holdings of the LDS Family History Library. WorldCat is a cooperative and libraries must opt in -- the Family History Library is not a member of the cooperative. Of course, the Family History Library maintains is own online catalog, so nothing is lost. The article identifies other reasons a legitimate library item might not show up in WorldCat. One nice benefit of WorldCat is that it does "point to" online digitized materials held by its member libraries (provided they have been cataloged); although it may not provide a live link to that resource, it can lead you the repository where the resource is held. As the author points out, WorldCat is a supplement to other online genealogical resources -- it does not replace them.

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Many records shed light on African-American genealogy

A recent article on, "Many records available that can shed light on African-Americans' genealogy," provides a good review of African-American resources, especially for the beginning researcher. The article points out the value of the 1870 Census the first in which slave families are listed by name -- the first census recorded after the Civil War and emancipation. The article gives encouragement also for finding information pre-1870 and suggests a number of resources, including census slaves schedules and Freedmen's Bureau records, among other, perhaps lesser known resources, recording various slave transactions, birth, deaths, etc.

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Resource includes Holocaust documents

A recent article on Information Today, "EBSCO Publishing and Footnote Expand Genealogy and Historical Document Resources," highlights the release of new document archives on, including the Footnote Holocaust Archives created in partnership with the National Archives and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. As reported, the database presents records pertaining to the seizure of Jews' assets by the Nazis during the Holocaust, as well as German property subsequently subject to restitution.The archive ncludes more than 600 stories of individual victims and survivors. Users can searchby name or browse the entire collection. is subscription site, but does offer a 7-day free trial to first time users.

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Time to revisit the SSDI?

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a staple for U. S. genealogy, post-1935. A recent article in the Genealogy column on, "Don't forget to revisit the Social Security Death Index", provides a good review of the SSDI, which is frequently updated. Included are some important points to remember; for example, not everyone who died after 1935 is listed in the SSDI -- the article tells you why. Also, you will want to remember that the SSDI lists a person's name at the time of death. As genealogists, we are accustomed to searching for our female ancestors by their maiden name, and without really thinking might enter a woman's maiden name rather than her actual name at time of death. Another really useful detail noted in the article, is that Social Security numbers starting with 700 and 728 indicate someone receiving a railroad retirement, which can to search for railroad records. Finally, the article provides a number of caveats and tips about using the SSDI that will help you better interpret information found. And one point I might make about the SSDI -- it is a secondary source record. There are errors. My own mother's death date in in error on the SSDI, even though a death certificate was submitted as verification of her death. Well . . . even the death certificate can be in error. On my mother's death certificate, she is listed as having completed 12 years of education, which is not the case. Being the informant on her death record, I have no idea where that information came from. So it pays to pay attention.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

African-American DNA research highligthed

February is Black HIstory Month, and it is no secret to African-Americans with a heritage dating back to the slave era that genealogy research is challenging, at best. A recent article on, "Family Trees: African-Americans find it difficult to trace history," outlines some of the main issues, and highlights DNA research, perhaps, of the greatest breakthroughs for African-Americans. For more on the subject, see author's complete interview with Dr. Rick Kittles, Scientific Director of African Ancestry, at African-Ancestry, Inc. and Associate Professor, The University of Chicago, Department of Medicine.

A couple of resources that might be of interest to researchers include, African Heritage Project and African-American Genealogy Blogs.

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Brief refresher of online genealogy resources

A recent article on, "Genealogy: Internet handy for genealogy research," by Tamie Dehler, provides a nice little refresher on some very useful, free online genealogy resources, with some emphasis on land records, but touching on vital records, as well.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

LiveRoots in the news

Our own Genealogy Today, LiveRoots website received honorable mention recently is an article on NewsOK, by Sharon Burns, "Site may help people break through walls." 

"Family historians and genealogists who hit walls searching for information about ancestors should try Live Roots at, a genealogy search engine. . . . The project, under development by D’Addezio and Genealogy Today, offers access to one-of-a-kind family history files working in sync with genealogy providers and files collected by D’Addezio."

As noted, the December/January edition of Internet Genealogy features an article by Tony Bandy, who discusses this site. 

For a first-hand look, come visit the LiveRoots website.

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Google Newspaper Archive

Another resource highlighted this week on is Google's online newspaper archive. As noted, "Google is digitizing periodicals, including newspapers, to create a global library. The company is doing this by accessing microfilm of the periodicals." The article points out that microfilm of The Dispatch goes back to 1889 and those early editions are available through Google, suggesting the scope of the archive. The project was launched back in 2008 and is a work in progress. To learn more, see "Bringing history online one newspaper at a time."

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Tips using the Find-a-Grave website

This seems to be a week for reviewing good resources. A nice article on,"Find A Grave can shorten the search,"  by Sharon Tate Moody points out the benefits of the Find-a-Grave website, with the caveat that nothing takes the place of visiting ancestor graves personally and making that "spiritual connection." The article provides some tips for a successful search. It also observes the site's focus on celebrity grave sites, while distracting (if not downright annoying) to  genealogists, is the very reason the site exists at all, so we can be a little tolerant. The site is definitely worth checking -- I've personally found burial information and photos it would take me a long time to find otherwise.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Hamilton County, Ohio Probate Records Online

It's always good news when new documents come online, especially those at the local level, as opposed to online subscription services. A recent article, "Documents -- some from 1791 -- now online," on reports that over 1 million Hamilton County, Ohio documents are now available online from the Probate Court. "These are probably some of the oldest records in the state," Probate Court Judge James Cissell said. "These records are part of history." 

The newly available documents, some 219 years old, include birth, death, marriage, estate, naturalization and other records, the article said. To see what's available, see the Hamilton County Probate Court Archived Records search page.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanksgiving, National Family History Day

We cannot be reminded too often the importance of gathering a family health history. Since 2004, the U. S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day, as part of the Family Health History Initiative. The aim is to encourage families as they gather throughout the holiday season -- and at other times -- to talk about and write down any health problems that may run in the family. This is one of those easy-to-procrastinate tasks, but what better time than the holidays to initiate a conversation?

As noted, health care professionals have known for a long time that common diseases can run in families. Tracing the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict the disorders to which you may be at risk and take action to keep you and your family healthy. To aid families in recording such information, My Family Health Portrait, was created. This is a web-based tool, which allows users to record, print, and share their family history information. In particular, families are encouraged to share the information with their doctors.

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New "Sources" on Irish Reserach

Here is some great insight to a source we might not all be perusing in our online travels.  Leland Meitzler, on his GenealogyBlog, highlights "The New 'Sources' Database for Irish Research." Described as "A new database of source materials for Irish research, entitled simply 'Sources,'has been  launched by the National Library of Ireland."

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Just in time for Veteran's Day - "Smart" Phone access to Veteran burial sites

Just in time for Veteran's Day, more convenient access to veteran grave sites. As announced in a recent AP article, "Want to find a veteran's grave? Get out your "smart" phone," the Department of Veterans Affairs has enhanced its Web site to make it easier to look up the grave sites of more than 6.7 million veterans on a "smart" mobile phone, such as a BlackBerry. It builds on an online service started in 2004 that helps locate the graves of veterans and eligible family members buried in national cemeteries or whose graves are marked with a government headstone. Once the site locates the cemetery, it offers users directions on how to get there.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

FamilySearch posts new data for several states

As published Friday in the Tribune Star, FamilySearch has announced that it has posted the Rhode Island state censuses for 1905 and 1935, the New York state censuses for 1892 and 1905, and the Minnesota state census for 1885. Also up are the Vermont state militia records (1861-1867), the Arkansas county marriage records (1837-1957), the Washington county marriage records (1858-1950), the Delaware birth records (1861-1922), the Georgia death records (1930), and the Salt Lake County, Utah, births (1890-1908) and deaths (1948-). Also of interest are the Ohio tax records (1825- ) the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, marriage records (1885-1951), and the Freedman marriages (1861-1869). A multitude of foreign records is also available on the site as well as many of the federal censuses. To access the site, go to the FamilySearch Labs web site.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Archives can yield unexpected treasures

While state and local archives may not be the first stop on your genealogical journey, they should be high on the list -- and most certainly not overlooked -- especially today when their holdings are more accessible than ever before. In his article, "Archives Can Yield Unexpected Treasures," Larry Naukam points out that archives can contain a treasure in primary resources, and "there are innovative ways of getting to them." Many archives have web sites cataloguing their holdings, and many offer links to materials that have been digitized. One of the main points of the article is that an archive in one place may very well have information on individuals and events someplace else. Life itself covers a lot of territory, and like breadcrumbs through the forest, life often leaves a paper trail.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lots of free data still available online

Is free genealogy a thing of the past? asks Kimberly Powell in her article, "101 Ways to Research Your Family Tree for Free." Apparently, the answer to her question lies in the title to her article, lots of free data is still available. Check it out to be sure you are taking advantage of the many free resources available.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Free Online Classes Through OpenCourseWare

There is no limit, it seems, to the information available on the Internet for the resourceful and curious researcher. In her latest article, "Free Online Classes Through OpenCourseWare," Gena Philibert-Ortega explores yet another useful -- and free -- resource. Universities around the world offer a wide range of non-credit classes in many disciplines, on topics that may inform your genealogical research. 

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

New FamilySearch: A Database to Capture Your Imagination

The New FamilySearch is being gradually rolled out. If you are aware of a correction that needs to be made to your existing FamilySearch data but you don't have access, how do you correct it? In her second article on the subject, "New FamilySearch: A Database to Capture Your Imagination," Judy Rosella Edwards tells us how.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Finding Digitized Books Online

"Millions of digitized books and periodicals exist on the internet that can assist you in your research. The secret is knowing where to find them. Just ‘googling' a book's title may not help you, but knowing what websites feature digitized books can." In her latest article, "Finding Digitized Books Online," Gene Philibert Ortega directs us to some new and interesting sources for finding books online.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

New FamilySearch, a sneak peek

FamilySearch is a free online genealogy database that has been around for a number of years. It is undergoing a major overhaul. The new database is not yet available to everyone, but Judy Rosella Edwards, in her article, "New FamilySearch: Depending Upon the Kindness of Strangers," shares her experience as one of the early users and offers advice on how to prepare for using the new system.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Online Database Memberships: Are They Worth It?

Fee-based databases abound. Are they worth the money? Whether you are a professional researcher or doing your own genealogy, this is a valid question. In her most recent article, "Online Database Memberships: Are They Worth It?" Judy Rosella Edwards explains how the more you know about searching databases, the more valuable databases become for you. Which one(s) and how many depends on your individual resources.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

MyHeritage announces "significant" search improvements

Leaving no stone unturned, another good place to run those family names is, one of the leading family history web sites, now with expanded search capability. MyHeritage announced today, "significant improvements: and expansion to its search engine. The updated “MyHeritage Research” now provides access to some 12 billion names in 1,526 genealogy databases from across the Internet. New sources included in the search include, Facebook, Digg, and others. MyHeritage Research accesses only genealogical resources which helps researchers find those websites and databases most relevant to their unique family histories. This allows you a much quicker and efficient search, so you don't have to wade through volumes of non relevant records. You can access the search at

Researchers can perform a name search using different spelling options: Exact, Soundex, or the unique Megadex spelling variations. Megadex allows you to choose from the most commonly used spelling variations of last names, cutting down on the time needed to research name variations. MyHeritage services are free of charge and available in 34 languages.

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Friday, February 6, 2009 celebrates Black History Month with launch of African American Collection

In celebration of Black History Month, is launching its African American Collection, as announced in a recent press release. has been working with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C., to digitize records that provide a view into the lives of African Americans that few have seen before.

"These records cover subjects including slavery, military service, and issues facing African Americans dating back to the late 18th century," explains James Hastings, Director of Access Programs at NARA. "Making these records available online will help people to better understand the history and sacrifice that took place in this country." has spent the last two years with NARA compiling this collection and is currently working on adding more records that will be released in the upcoming months.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Canadian Civil Servants Lists, 1872-1900, now online, Canada's leading online family history web site, announced in a recent press release, the online launch of the fully indexed Canadian Civil Servants Lists, 1872-1900, which features more than 78,000 records of those employed in departments of the Canadian Government during the country's early days of Confederation.

Before online databases existed, there were physical record books kept of employment at government offices. Like the Victorian equivalent of today's corporate intranet or internet site, these record books would have been used to find out who did what, when and where. The records give family history researchers a unique opportunity to find out how an ancestor's career might have progressed and how much they earned, as well as offer personal individual information such as birth date, age, date of first appointment, years at post, promotion to present rank, creed or religion and nationality of origin.

The records are available fully indexed and fully searchable online for the first time and help paint a more vivid picture of the working life of Canadians just before the turn of the 20th Century. They also provide a fascinating comparison of how the salaries and job titles differed from today.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Personal Blogs as Historical Documents

Today's blogs represent modern day journals, and as such should be preserved. The article, "Personal Blogs as Historical Documents," explores the personal nature of today's blogs and the importance of backing them up . . . offline.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Live Roots on Second Life

An interesting article written last year by Paul Mason, "Searching for the Soul of Cyberspace," compared the experience of genealogists researching their ancestors and times past to those fascinated with virtual reality. Both experiences, although "virtual" as opposed to "actual," evoke similar emotions and personal investment. Well, it appears, those two worlds are now combined. In an article released yesterday, "Live Roots on Second Life," announced Live Roots, a new site launched by GenWeekly publisher Genealogy Today, has come to Second Life (SL), perhaps the premier virtual reality world.

Exactly what is Second Life? Second Life is an Internet-based 3-D virtual world created by is Residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of Residents from around the globe. Now genealogists are flocking to SL for an alternate way to research their family history.

Live Roots on Second Life is a new area created to assist SL researchers, much in the way the RL versions does. In the Live Roots on Second Life area, you can easily locate all of the available SL genealogy (related) areas, and get information about a variety of database companies in the upcoming exhibitor area.

Popular RL blogger/chat host/author/speaker, DearMYRTLE, has coordinated some of the genealogy efforts at Second Life, and helps maintain a calendar of the voice chats. She also recently launched a new blog called Teach Genealogy, where she chronicles the progress of the Union of Genealogy Groups (UGG) genealogy voice chats in Second Life, which she considers R&D to see what folks are learning about on and offline research. For details on joining the Second Life service, be sure to read her post, "Get a SECOND LIFE, genealogists".

Future enhancements to the Live Roots on Second Life area will include being able to preview available results for a specific surname (or full name) you are researching on a variety of database sites.

To learn more about Second Life, visit. To see the Sytem Requirements, go to
Already a Second Life member? Jump to the Live Roots on Second Life area.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"My Family Health History," new version released

Today marks the release of a new version of the Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait," as announced in a recent press release. Aimed at helping consumers more easily assemble family health information that is important for their health care, the new Internet-based tool is ready for use in a patient’s electronic health records (EHRs). The software code for the new tool is also being made openly available for adoption by other health organizations, under their own brand.  The My Family Health Portrait software is a product of the U. S. Surgeon General's Family Health Initiative, which began in 2004 to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health history.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New African American database traces slave ship routes

As noted in a recent article on Digital Journal, "African Americans Receive Major Boost in Genealogy Tracking," a new database reported by Alexandra Marks by the Christian Science Monitor on December 30, 2008, will allow African Americans to trace the slave ship routes as far back as the 16th century, and their genealogy, in the same way that Europeans have been able to track their migration. This is a result of research by hundreds of scholars over 40 years, a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The researchers compiled maps, images and relevant materials from 35,000 slave-trade routes that took place from Africa to parts of North American, Brazil, Europe and the Carribbean. This is a first, and an important one for a large group of people who had before been cut off from knowing about ancestral roots in the same way others have been able to do

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ancestry collaboration brings Jewish records online

A recent article on, "Web site gathers millions of Jewish genealogy records online," highlights the launch of what it calls the world's largest online collection Jewish family history records.

Ancestry has partnered with two organizations for the project — JewishGen, an affiliate of New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The online collection,, features millions of historic Jewish records including Schindler's List — the names of almost 2,000 Jews saved by a German businessman who employed them. Their story was told in the Oscar-winning 1993 film.

Many of the 26 million documents are online for the first time — from photographs and immigration data to a list of people who died in Nazi concentration camps. The Joint Distribution Committee says it has digitized records of displaced Jews who were provided with food, medical care, clothing and emigration assistance by the JDC.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

GenealogyBank offers affordable trial membership

GenealogyBank, a leading online provider of historic and recent newspapers for family history research, announced in a press release the addition of over 3 million historical newspaper articles and modern obituaries to its online digital archive. GenealogyBank provides access to newspapers in all 50 states, from 1690 to the present day. November is a great month to research your family history on GenealogyBank. New members can obtain unlimited access for 30 days for only $9.95.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Online State Encyclopedias

Researching the local area history of one's ancestors is key to genealogy research, and local area histories for your town and county interest are a primary resource. In her article, "Online State Encyclopedias," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers another resource along with links for those available. Like the author, I have benefited greatly in my own research with use of The Texas Handbook Online, an absolutely stellar reference, and while not all states offer such a resource, many do.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Genealogy Today's new Live Roots web site

Wouldn't it be nice to have one resource that showed every site where a genealogical resource was available so you could select the closest or most affordable resource? And wouldn't it be nice to know if a particular resource was available ONLY by subscription or if it were also available online for free? -- in the vast world of available information, there is duplication. Further, wouldn't it be nice to know if you found a valuable resource that was not online but was available somewhere in print or on CD, that you could easily connect with someone who could check that resource for you? Such a service is the vision of Genealogy Today's new Live Roots web site, announced today.

Genealogy Today ( announced the release of a new web site designed to help researchers locate genealogical data -- both online and offline, and either digitized or in-print. Live Roots ( bridges the gaps between independent web sites, large commercial repositories and printed materials yet to be digitized and published on the World Wide Web.

Live Roots extends beyond the typical bounds of a traditional search engine or link directory by facilitating access to offline records and publications through partnerships with amateur and professional researchers who either own copies or are geographically close to the libraries and archives that do. In a few quick steps, visitors will be able to hire a researcher to obtain digital copies (scanned or hi-res photo) of pages referencing a specific name (or surname).

For many of the resources in its catalog, Live Roots captures names from their listings and aggregates the data into a searchable index. This makes it possible to locate names within resources, rather than just searching for keywords in titles and descriptions. This includes many of the resources that have yet to be digitized and/or transcribed online.

Using Live Roots, researchers will be able to clearly see where duplication exists among sites, and with its focus on the accessibility of the resources (i.e. online versus offline, free versus paid), they will be able to work more efficiently. By bridging the gap between online researchers and offline resources, Live Roots hopes to make more genealogical information accessible than ever before.

For more details, visit

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

MyHeritage acquires Kindo and opens operation in London

MyHeritage, a popular family web site, has announced the acquisition of family social network Kindo, according to a report on MyHeritage has more than 25 million members worldwide and is known for its powerful technology that helps families research their history and stay connected, including Smart Matching and automatic photo tagging. The Kindo team's experience in social networking, the article said, will help MyHeritage realize its vision to be the Facebook for families. As part of this acquisition, MyHeritage will also establish new commercial operations in London.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Ohio county histories online

Those with Ohio ancestry will no doubt be interested in a web site highlighted recently in The Norman Transcript,featuring local area histories for Ohio counties. The site, "Heritage Pursuit The Place For Historians And Genealogists," hosts two separate home pages, each offering different Ohio counties and databases. Most, if not all, of these county histories were published by W. H. Beers of Chicago and offer information about the townships within the counties, as well as biographical sketches of some individuals who lived in those counties at the time they were written. The county histories can be accessed by surname or other choices the researcher may make. The entire site can be searched or you can make a selection which includes individual counties, some specific databases within some counties, and various family trees that are applicable to the lineage of the webmaster. If you have Ohio ancestry you may want to check out this site to see if your ancestor is listed.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Online help for deciphering old handwriting

The Genealogy column on suggests a web site aimed at helping to decipher handwriting in old documents. According to the article, all genealogists are challenged to some degree when they have to read and interpret documents in original handwriting. And the further back in time the handwriting sample is, the greater the challenge, until our own language looks foreign to us. A Web site aimed at scholars and researchers aspires to change all of that. English Handwriting 1500-1700, An online course, is a remarkably professional and thorough course of study, certainly equivalent to a college class. The site is at and contains 28 self-guided lessons ranging in degree of difficulty from 1 to 5. Each lesson divides the computer screen into four sections, taking the user step by step through the process of analysis. The site also has lots of supporting data and sample transcriptions to "shortcut" the process for those not wanting to take the 28 lessons.

This is a great site to visit to refine your skills in transcribing old handwriting. Anyone graduating from this online classroom will be close to an “expert” by the time they are finished, the article said. The site is free to use with no registration.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Sharing Old Photos

Pretty much everyone has a collection of old photos, many with minimal to no identifying information. Such photos typically end up at the bottom of the picture box and stored away -- sometimes even thrown away. Similarly, there may be photos and other memorabilia of casual friend, acquaintances, or distant relatives that really have no place in the family story or the family album. These, too, may get stored away and eventually trashed. Today there are options for sharing these photos. The article, "Sharing Old Photos," discusses some of the options. It's possible to end up being the recipient as well as the contributor to the cause.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Site offers range of printable genealogy charts

Recent press release announced a new web site offering more than 20 printable family tree templates and blank genealogy charts with variations designed for everyone from the seasoned genealogy buff to schoolchildren working on class projects. All of the family trees and charts at can be instantly downloaded and printed for free in PDF form (compatible with Adobe Acrobat and similar readers), and a $4 premium version is available in .DOC format. The .DOC versions are fully editable with Microsoft Word, so users need only click and type to customize them and add family members' names to the already-formatted templates.

"These family tree templates will make it easy to record family roots," said Kevin Savetz, who created the site. "I've included a wide variety of family trees and charts, from multi-generational genealogy charts to cute, simple charts for kids. Also, we found that there aren't many printable family trees available especially for children who have been adopted, so we've included one on"

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Free SSDI now at GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank, a leading provider of historical and recent newspapers for family history research, announced in a press release that the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) will now be offered free of charge at Best of all, it can be cross-searched with the thousands of newspapers and government documents available through GenealogyBank, offering researchers unsurpassed firsthand perspectives of the triumphs, struggles and daily lives of their American ancestors.

"GenealogyBank's Social Security Death Index is unique with weekly updates, easy-to-use format and comprehensive coverage," says Tom Kemp, Genealogy Director for NewsBank, inc. "It's simply the most comprehensive index online. Making it available for free is our way of giving back to the genealogy community." Exclusive features include the full date of death (including day of the week) and the deceased's age (expressed in years, months and days).

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Monday, September 8, 2008

MyHeritiage launches face recognition feature

According to a recent article on, the Tel Aviv-based family tree site MyHeritage has received a $15 million second-round investment from London's Index Ventures, and is now launching a face-recognition feature said to help users organize photos based on who appears in the photos. It can also be used with photos on sites like Flickr, Facebook and Picasa, the article said.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

FamilySearch pilot project - check back often

FamilySearch announced that its pilot project continues to add names and data. About 1.2 million new images have been added to the Web site, bringing the total up to 43.6 million documents and records, according to an article in the Terre Haute News. Lately, the 1841 and 1861 British censuses have been added to the site with links to

Although the images from the pilot project are being tied to two commercial Web sites — and — FamilySearch ensures the public of its intention to keep the indexes to the databases free and open to all. However, access to the actual images may not always be free to everyone. This is a good reason to check back often as more databases are added to the pilot project and before they are turned over for fee-based viewing.

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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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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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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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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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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Update on FHL archives digitizing project

Don Andersen, Family History Division Director at the Family History Library, gave the keynote address Monday at the 40th annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University, and explored the changes that are coming in the Library's ongoing effort to digitize its archive holdings, a reported on, "Online data making it easier to do family history in pajamas."

Anderson estimates it will take about 10 years to convert the LDS Church's entire genealogical records vault into digital images and about 100 years to index all those records. . . . The Family History Library has around 300,000 family history books. Now they are being indexed electronically online at BYU's Archive. More than 15,000 of those books are now searchable online. Unlike using a book, however, readers do not need to look at them one at a time. They can search across all 15,000 books at once.

FamilySearch is currently indexing more than 1.5 million names per day and flowing them into record search in logical sets. "It wouldn't surprise me if we were closer to two million names per day by the end of the year," Anderson said, encouraging people to try indexing themselves.

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To be or not to be - FamilySearch and its commercial partnerships

On, this week Kimberly Powell discussed the prevailing angst regarding FamilySearch partnering with various commercial affiliates and what that might mean to the traditionally free access to FamilySearch records the public has come to rely on. On the surface it appears the data will remain free even if the associated images may require a fee, but there appear to be a few other caveats, as well.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Using Googe in Your Genealogy, Part 2

I remember a time when I was working in the software industry and Alta Vista was my search engine of choice; then came the new kid on the block with the funny name, Google. Since then, Google has become a powerhouse, and lest you doubt her theme that "Google is more than a search engine," you will be convinced in reading Gena Philibert-Ortega's second article, "Using Google in Your Genealogy, Part 2." Google offers some scaled down and user friendly tools that can help researchers, regardless of computer skills or Internet savvy, in addition to its continuing effort bring more resources online, in particular, out-of-print books, and to create easier access to online resources. This is not to disparage other search engines and tools, which are also growing and have their place in the research community.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Google is more than a search engine

Many of us are familiar with Google as a search engine, but it is much more than that, as noted in Gena Philibert's most recent article, "Using Google in Your Genealogy, Part 1." In addition to reviewing how to get the most out of the Google search engine, the article also reviews the Google Map feature, including Panoramio, which combines maps with user-submitted pictures of places found at different locations. Other benefits of using Google in your research will appear in Part 2.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Chinese-Canadian wiki now online

An article in the Vancouver Courier, "New wiki adds branches to family tree research," reports Chinese-Canadians searching for their roots now a new wiki to help them and others research their ancestors and tell their stories.The Vancouver Public Library and Library and Archives Canada have partnered to sponsor the Chinese-Canadian history wiki, a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. According to the article, the silver lining to measures once meant to exclude Chinese immigrants from Canada is that the personal records required by the government back then can be used to create a portrait of the early Chinese-Canadian community in Canada.

The article itself is enlightening on the issues. For example, as reported byJanet Tomkins, genealogy librarian at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, in the 1891 census records for the city of Victoria, for every single person of Chinese origin, "it was just put 'Chinaman' for every single one. So those people are nameless, and Victoria had the biggest Chinese community back then." In 1885 the federal government imposed a head tax on Chinese immigrants in an effort to exclude Chinese from entering the country; as a result of this registration, a listing of Canadian-born Chinese was produced; this Chinese Immigration List forms the basis of the Chinese-Canadian history wiki, called Chinese-Canadians: Profiles from a Community. The wiki only includes those born prior to 1901, for privacy reason. For those not familiar, "wiki" sites offer an opportunity for readers to participate and post information to the site.

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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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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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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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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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Friday, April 25, 2008

Discovering a sample of your ancestor's handwriting

If you are interested in finding a sample of your ancestor's handwriting, it might just be at your fingertips. In her latest article, "Google Books: A Source for Ancestral Handwriting," Judy Rosella Edwards suggests a novel approach for finding personal inscriptions and signatures. In the past, it might have been necessary to inherit books with a family inscription, or you might have "happened" upon such a book in the local library. While such signatures themselves are not indexed (yet), you might find success with a little creative sluething.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Digitzing in the Library World, Part 2

To genealogists, the promise of individual libraries digitizing their holdings is exciting to consider. This week, Larry Naukum continues his series, "Digitizing in the Library World, Part 2." The article provides the insider point of view on library digitizing decisions, and along the way, points to some useful resources.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

French-Canadian and Quebec vital records online

As repoted on, "Genealogy website offers centuries of French-Canadian records," has launched what it says is the largest collection of French-Canadian and Quebec vital records, spanning 346 years of history. . . . its searchable collection of baptism, marriage and burial records extends from the year 1621 to 1967. is an online database of family and social history in Canada with 400 million names pulled from collections such as the 1851, 1901, 1906 and 1911 censuses of Canada, Ontario and British Columbia, vital records from as early as 1813 and U.S./Canada border crossings from 1895 to 1956.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Researching Newspapers, an update

Newspapers chronicled our ancestor's lives, their friends and neighbors and their community. Researching newspapers can provide us with much more information than a simple obituary. In her article, "Researching Newspapers," Gena Philibert-Ortega brings us up to date on this valuable resource.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Digitizing the Library World, Part One

"There is a lot going on with digitizing records these days," writes Larry Naukum in, "Digitizing in the Library World, Part One," the first in a series. The series provides an insider's view, as the author heads the genealogy department of a major public library and is intimately involved in putting materials online. Understanding more about the challenges of putting digitized records online may give the individual researcher an extra pound of patience when accessing records; and if you have research in the Rochester, NY area, you may delighted to see what's online. For everyone else, the article may prompt you to check the web site of your local public library, state archive, and genealogical society to see what's available in the growing collection of records available.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Keeping in mind the "margin of error"

An article in the Tampa Tribune, "Use Caution When Accessing Newly Available Army Records," provides some background on how the process involved in bringing these records to greater public access may have compromised the data. While we consider military records "primary sources," we certainly have to keep in mind the margin of error and the problems of interpretation and transcription of data. This margin of error is good to keep in mind anytime you researching records other than "original" images that you can see and interpret for yourself.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

GenealogyBank adds Hispanic American Newspapers

Newspaper are a great resource for genealogists, and if you find digitized newspapers from your area of research, all the better. The good news is that more newspapers are being offered by a variety of providers, many are fee-based. Now, as announced in a press release Monday, has begun to supplement its historical newspaper collection with content from Hispanic American Newspapers. In addition to millions of historical newspaper articles, modern obituaries, military reports, books and other essential genealogical documents, researchers can now access to hundreds of fully searchable Spanish-language and bilingual newspapers -- a boon to researchers of Hispanic heritage.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

GenealogyBank expands historical newspapers collection

In a press release Friday, GenealogyBank, a leading online provider of newspapers for family history research, announced the addition of over 4 million historical newspaper articles and modern obituaries to its online digital archive.

"GenealogyBank now provides access to over 221 million family history records such as obituaries, marriage and birth announcements as well as interesting and often surprising facts about our ancestors," says Genealogy Director for NewsBank, inc., Tom Kemp.

This latest addition features big city dailies and regional weeklies including: Savannah (GA) Tribune (1875-1913), Boston (MA) Journal (1880-1917), Anaconda (MT) Standard (1898-1915), North (PA) American (1845-1879) and many others. To view the entire list, see the company's New Content web page.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Collaboration brings online access to over 600 databases

In a press release this week, Genealogical Publishing Company, the world’s largest publisher of immigration records in book form, has partnered with, Inc, to make their databases available on

Genealogical Publishing Company has 2,000 titles featuring content from early Colonial America to the Civil War. Some of these titles include Donald Lines Jacobus’ Families of Ancient New Haven, a three-volume work that covers every family in pre-Revolutionary New Haven, Connecticut, and Robert Barnes’s British Roots of Maryland Families, which establishes the origins of hundreds of pre-eighteenth-century Maryland families.

“While many of our books contain genealogical source records, a considerable number contain lineage records and other linked material. These titles combined include about 15 million people. The descendants of these 15 million people number in the hundreds of millions today. Our partnership with FamilyLink will enable many, many Americans to go back and trace their family to some of these early immigrants,” said Barry Chodak, President of, Inc., parent of Genealogical Publishing Company.

More than 600 databases from Genealogical Publishing Company will be launched periodically over the next few months at

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Online video guides African American research

As we come to the end of Black History month, and article from the Springfield's News-Leader, suggests an online resource out of Missouri that might be of interest to anyone researching African American history. African-American Genealogy: Putting Together the Pieces of Your Past is a five-part video created by the Missouri State Archives, a division of the Secretary of State's office. Family History Research Consultant Traci Wilson-Kleekamp provides tips on accessing the best Web sites, which records are most beneficial and how to get the most out of original records. Wilson-Kleekamp guides researchers through the process of identifying ancestors from the era of slavery through a variety of records and documents. The series and other information on researching African American history is available online at the State web site.

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Online resource for local history and biography

In a recent column, Mary Penner helps readers appreciate and use the Google Books resource. "Google Book Search is a regular pit stop in my genealogy journey." A few keyword searches can steer you toward a genealogical windfall. Launched just a few years ago, the project reportedly scans 3,000 books a day; exact numbers of scanned books aren't public knowledge, but computer users, with just a few mouse clicks, have access to well over a million books on the site. While Google Book Search has its critics, primarily those concerned with copyright issues, the ambitious digitization project can certainly benefit family history researchers.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Utilizing newsgroups as a genealogy resource

While some researchers may shy away or be unaware, a particular set of tools used in the computer field, Newsgroups, Mailing lists and Bulletin Boards, can be valuable in sharing problems in genealogical research. In his article, "Newsgroups and Genealogy Resources," Alan Smith seeks to clarify terms and simplify the process of accessing available information in this "growing resource."

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Over 1 million records added to UK National Burial Index announced that it has added another 1.2 million National Burial Index records to its existing online collection of UK family history records, according to a recent column on The new records cover the counties of Somersetsire, Dorset and Essex and have been contributed by he Somersetand Dorset Family History Society as part of an arrangement with the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) to transfer their local family history society records to

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

South Dakota 1940s era cemetery records online

As noted in a recent article on Keoland TV, the South Dakota State Historical Society has put a searchable index to a database of cemetery records online.

A 1940s-era collection of cemetery records is in the archives at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre and is a popular research tool for genealogists. Staff and volunteers have entered information from the records into a database during the past several years. The information is from a Works Progress Administration effort known as the Graves Registration Project. The inventory included the name of the deceased, the grave, lot, block and section number, date of death, age at death, gender and whether or not the person was a veteran. To check out the online database, go to

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ancestry adds new records to its African American Collection

Announced in a recent press release,, has expanded its online repository of African-American family history records with two new collections that provide unique insights into African- American family history: Freedman's Marriage Records and Southern Claims Commission Records.

"While these documents depict the horrors of slavery, they also provide invaluable information that help uncover ancestors' life stories," said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for "These documents further cement the fact that African-Americans can discover their family's heritage, even those ancestors enslaved prior to the Civil War. We're seeing an increasing interest among African-Americans in tracing their roots, especially as collections such as these are made available and accessible online, rather than stored away in archives."

Users can explore the African-American Historical Records Collection and begin piecing together their family tree at

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WorldVitalRecords launches World Genealogy Collection

In a press release today, (a service of, Inc.) released today its flagship product, the World Collection, an online genealogy database containing more than 1.5 billion names from 35 countries.’s World Collection launch includes significant collections from countries such as: England, Canada, Australia, France, Ireland, Scotland, Hungary, and Portugal.

“All over the world there are wonderful people who are digitizing and preserving historic records,” said Paul Allen, CEO,, Inc. “During the past year we have traveled and met with these content providers from more than a dozen countries. We are pleased today to announce that many of them have chosen to let us distribute their genealogical databases on the Internet.”

More than 20 companies have partnered with to make this new collection possible. They include Find My Past, Genealogical Publishing Company, Archive CD Books Australia, British Origins, Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Archive CD Books Canada, Eneclann, Quintin Publications, Gould Genealogy, Familias Argentinas, Godfrey Memorial Library, and Moravian Heritage Society.

The World Collection includes birth, marriage and death records, census records, passenger lists, immigration lists, emigration records, foreign newspapers, cemetery records, reference materials, land records, family histories, historical records, city directories, business directories, township histories, civil service records, telephone directories, government records, war records, and maps, atlases, and gazetteers. Individuals can access more than 5,000 genealogical databases, more than 2 billion names (these names are being added throughout the year), and the World Collection at

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ancestry launches California Voter Registration Lists, 1900 -1944

In a press release today, announced the launch of California Voter Registration Lists documenting more than 30 million names of Californians who registered to vote between 1900 and 1944. The collection, now searchable for the first time online, comes just prior to Super Tuesday, one of the most significant milestones in the 2008 race to the White House.

The unique collection reveals the political persuasions of California residents -- including famous celebrities who registered to vote during the first half of the 1900s. The collection also documents the voter's name, occupation, gender, age, street address, voting district, and city and county of residence. Many of the earliest voter registrations include detailed physical descriptions of the register and even naturalization information. Because the lists were updated every two years, the collection enables users to track their ancestors through time and serves as a valuable replacement for census records since California did not take state censuses.

"Peeking into the political preferences of our ancestors and celebrities is fascinating," said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for "Very few historical records actually reveal the opinions of our ancestors. With this collection of voter registrations, someone with California family ties can discover the political black sheep in the family or which ancestor changed their family's party affiliation forever."

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Monday, January 28, 2008

New Jersey's DataUniverse now offering SSDI

As reported in the CourierPost Online, "Now you can trace family history with Courier-Post's DataUniverse," the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is now available on DataUniverse, the free public records search offered by New Jersey's Courier-Post. The site also allows you to make the request online for a photocopy of your ancestor's original Social Security Application Card, the SS-5. While your search of the SSDI is free, there is a fee for the SS-5 application card.

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Society offers "virtual surname wall"

Here's a novel idea, the Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Library has recently introduced a “virtual surname wall” on its Web site that is free and open to the public, as reported on, "Genealogy: 'Virtual surname wall' is handy online tool," According to Society's web site,, the wall “provides a worry-free way to post information about your ancestors online and find others who are researching your families.” So, far, more than 1,000 family researchers have contributed their information to the virtual surname wall. The site allows participants to post up to 10 names and posts a disclaimer regarding the accuracy of information posted. There is one more caveat, "Participation in the project is your authorization to include your surname information in any printed or searchable online databases that may be developed."

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

GenealogyBank reports growth and offers trial membership

In a press release yesterday, GenealogyBank, a leading online provider of newspapers for family history research, reported explosive growth in 2007 increasing its digital archive with over 40 million historical newspaper articles and modern obituaries.

GenealogyBank is quickly becoming the fastest growing newspaper archive for family history research with over 3,300 U.S. newspapers in all 50 states. The exclusive collection features newspapers from the 1600s to the present day with over 106 million historical newspaper articles and more than 26 million obituaries now available for family history research. Each article is a single digital image that can be printed and preserved for family scrapbooks. To celebrate, GenealogyBank is currently offering a 30-Day trial for only $9.95.

"We are excited about the rapid growth of our newspaper collection and the vast breadth of family history information we now have available," says Genealogy Director for NewsBank, inc., Tom Kemp. "GenealogyBank provides exclusive access to more than four centuries of important genealogical information such as obituaries, marriage and birth announcements as well as interesting and often surprising facts about our ancestors."

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Scotland Online acquires family history web site

Scotland Online, the IT business owned by Dundee media dynasty DC Thomson, yesterday said it had acquired a leading independent UK-based family history website, according to an article yesterday in The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland). The company said it had acquired the business Title Research Group as part of its plans to establish a world-class online network of family history resources. . . . The merger will see Scotland Online's current online genealogy service, ScotlandsPeople, amalgamating with to create an enlarged resource to serve millions of family history enthusiasts worldwide.

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Ancestry Learning Center redesign announced

According to an article in the Press Register last week. The Generations Network announced a redesign of its learning center. The Learning Center focuses on those who are new to the site as well as those who are new to genealogy. The revamped Learning Center includes numerous short videos, featuring's Chief Family Historian Megan Smolenyak. The Ancestry Learning Center is available free of charge. You will have to create a (free) user name and password in order to use it. Also, many of the tutorials and other "how to" information will have links that point to content behind the "pay wall." That is, you will have to be a paid subscriber in order to access some of the items that are mentioned.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Remembering Martin Luther King and our African American ancestors

In her article, "African American Resources," Gena Philibert-Ortega reminds us, as we remember this month the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., it may be as good time to look at a few resources for those with African American roots. While so far, I have found no indication of African American roots in my own family, my grandmother did tell of an old couple living nearby "that had been slaves," whom she remembers fondly from her Texas childhood, just at the turn of the twentieth century. The two or three incidents she recalls are endearing, and so it has been my personal quest to find evidence of this family, although we have nothing but first names and a general location to go by. This update of resources may provide new avenues of research.

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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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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Narrated photo albums, new from MyFamily

Just in time for the holiday,, currently available as a "beta" or test site, will eventually become a regular feature of The Generations Network's popular, as reported yesterday in the Cincinnati Post, "Preserve Memories on" SnapGenie is a free, easy-to-use, online photo-sharing resource in which visitors can build narrated photo slide shows, then e-mail links to their slide shows to relatives or post them to a personal Web site, blog or their private family site for viewing by family members and friends using a code provided by SnapGenie.

Here's how it works. After signing up for a free account, users can begin building their own slide show by uploading images such as digital pictures, scanned heirloom photographs and other one-of-a-kind documents. (Note: SnapGenie does not accept images saved in the TIFF format.) Users can then dial a toll-free number, enter their access code, and record up to one hour of commentary to accompany the images -- and you can do this for any number of narrated photo "albums," although users are encouraged to prepare their comments, reminiscences and other captions ahead of time, before recording the audio clips. Once created, slide shows can be replayed as often as desired by family members and friends living in every corner of the world.

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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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Friday, November 16, 2007

GenealogyBank Announces 3 Million New Articles of Digitized Historical Newspapers

GenealogyBank, a leading online provider of historical and recent newspapers for family history research, announced in a press release today the addition of 100 fully searchable historical newspapers. These newspapers will add 3 million new articles filled with significant genealogical content. GenealogyBank now has over 106 million historical newspaper articles available online for family history research. Next month, GenealogyBank will add another 100 newspapers including over 2 million new articles. Now complementing more than 210 million family history records, this latest addition will expand coverage to over 2,200 U.S. newspapers in all 50 states.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Greater access to college yearbooks through latest collaboration announced in a press release today its partnership with World Vital Records, Inc., bringing greater online accessibility to thousands of names from hundreds of old college yearbooks. The partnership with will allow World Vital Records subscribers access to yearbooks from the late 1800's to 1960, containing rich data and images of the student body members, school traditions, faculty and staff members, clubs, Greek life, ROTC, intramurals, and more. E-Yearbook collection will be offered to World Vital Records on an exclusive basis for genealogy searches. has exclusive content license agreements with dozens of major universities such as the University of California Berkeley, the University of Iowa, the University of Kansas, the University of Michigan, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Texas (Austin). Some of the larger yearbooks that will be part of the collection offered at World Vital Records contain tens of thousands of names with associated images, as well as rich, historical data. For example, the University of Texas at Austin Cactus yearbook collection is the oldest publication on campus, containing more than 114 volumes of rich historical data. The University of California Berkeley published the first Blue and Gold yearbook in 1875.

Many genealogists find great value in using old yearbooks for research. In fact, using yearbooks for genealogical purposes is one of the most common reasons members utilize this resource. Additional college yearbooks will be included at World Vital Records as they become available through

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Monday, October 29, 2007

New genealogy web site focuses on natural disasters

An article in the Cincinnati Post, "New genealogy Web site focuses on natural disasters," observes, nearly every family, at some point throughout its history, has been impacted by natural disasters such as fires, floods and tornadoes, or been touched by tragic events such as explosions, building collapses and railroad accidents. For this reason, genealogists may be interested in a recently launched Web site called

As noted on the site's main page, "is a genealogy site, compiling information on the historic disasters, events, and tragic accidents our ancestors endured, as well as information about their life and death."

The Post reports, "This fascinating online chronicle includes an impressive array of photographs, transcribed newspaper articles and excerpted entries from historical books, all detailing hundreds of events - spanning from the 1800s to the 1950s - which affected the lives of past generations. Researchers may limit their search by state, or select from among the numerous disaster headings and then browse a listing of events in alphabetical order by state."

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Georgia death certificates 1919-1927 now online

FamilySearch has announced the completion of two new online projects and asks for volunteers to help them in a third, according to an article on, "FamilySearch completes two new online projects."

FamilySearch Record Services, the Georgia Archives, and the Georgia State Office of Vital Records and Statistics recently entered into a cooperative effort to place the Georgia death certificates online. Now approximately 275,000 Georgia death records from 1919-1927 can be viewed for free at one of two Web sites. The sites have an online searchable index that is linked to a scanned digital image of each death record. These can be viewed by going to (go to the virtual vault), or at

FamilySearch is also launching a Latin America project and needs 10,000 volunteers who can read both English and Spanish to help index Mexican, Argentine, and other Latin American records for placement on the Internet. The first records to be indexed will be the 1930 Mexican census. Volunteers would download one census page at a time onto their home computers, index that page, and send it back to Family search. Each page would take about 30 minutes to index and volunteers would work at their own pace, accepting only as many pages as they have time for. If you want to be a part of this exciting project, register at Por favor!

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Using DNA to create a global family tree

GeneTree, a new genealogy site launched this week, adds a new twist to online family history searches by allowing users to submit their own DNA and to collaborate with others using social networking tools. The new site is being launched by several companies owned by Salt Lake City-based Sorenson Cos., including Sorenson Media Inc. and the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), which operates a genetic database that contains DNA samples from 80,000 people in 170 countries, as noted in a Computerworld article, "Genealogy site uses DNA and social networks to trace ancestors."

Another article in AppScout, "GeneTree: Using DNA to Create a Global Family Tree," observes GeneTree is a whole new idea: It maps how everyone on Earth is related to one another, not based entirely on research and historical documents but based on DNA. . . . But the service is only as good as its database of genetic information. . . . so before it can help you answer the big questions about how you're related to your ancestors in Africa or Europe, its database of DNA information will have to grow significantly. In the meantime, you can use the service as a genealogy service and ancestry site.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

SOLD for $300 Million -- and sister sites

Definitely a sea change. The Generations Network, which encompasses,, and other genealogy web sites has been sold, it was announced yesterday. It will no longer be a Utah company -- the new owners, Spectrum Equity Investors are based in Menlo Park and Boston.

According to an article in Marketing Pilgrim, "The Generations Network Aquired for $300 Million," Spectrum, a private equity firm is a shareholder in The Generations Network since 2003. The company’s current management team will continue to lead the company, it says.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How to find those long sought-after books

Found Aunt Doris in a county history book? Want to own a copy of that book for future reference or just as a keepsake? In her article, "Finding Rare Genealogical and Historical Books," Gena Philibert-Ortega suggests a number web sites to help you find a copy of that treasured book, in addition to some tips and hints for evaluating books and finding one in your price range.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Redesigned Canadian Genealogy Centre web site benefits users

In a recent press release , Library and Archives Canada (LAC) announced three new online products to assist genealogists and family historians to access information on their ancestors in both LAC and other Canadian collections. Chief among these is the newly redesigned Canadian Genealogy Centre website, at The website makes available Canadian collections of immigration, military, public service, land and census records and provides advice and guidance to researchers. It was voted one of the world's 100-best genealogy websites by Family Tree magazine.

"The new Canadian Genealogy Centre website provides easy access to records of significant interest to Canadians," said Librarian and Archivist of Canada Ian E. Wilson. "The search tools allow Canadians access to a very personal piece of Canadian history-a piece relating to somebody's own family-with the click of a mouse." Mr. Wilson added that the new website and search tools demonstrate how LAC's priorities in digitizing its collections and in working through partnerships with other institutions, benefit Canadians wherever they may be.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

New tool aids Canadian genealogy research

A new service out of Quebec, Canada is in the news. According to a press release out today, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) announces a new Web site dedicated to genealogical research. Launched by BAnQ in partnership with Library and Archives Canada (LAC),, also available in French at, provides the public with a user-friendly and innovative federated search engine free of charge.

Designed to respond to the growing public interest in genealogy, features a set of search tools that even beginners can master rapidly. Maintained by BAnQ, the new search engine allows genealogists to conduct searches against several databases at once.

Most of the interface-compatible databases brought together at are hosted by federal, provincial or territorial Canadian libraries or archives centres. The project's leading partners are BAnQ, LAC and the Council of Provincial and Territorial Archivists of Canada.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ancestry launches Digital Scrapbooking tool

Announced in a press release,, today launched AncestryPress(TM), a tool that lets users create professionally printed, custom family history books, family recipe books and more. With this new state-of-the-art publishing tool, offers users a one-stop solution to build their family tree, discover historical documents about their ancestors, collaborate with their family members and create high-quality family history books for themselves or family gifts.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Researching Your Seventh-Day Adventist Ancestors

It goes without saying that church records are among the most valuable resources in genealogy. Many early church records have been microfilmed and are readily available, while others are more elusive. In her most recent article, "Researching Your Seventh-Day Adventist Ancestors," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers a variety of options for researching ancestors belonging to this church, organized in the mid-nineteenth century.

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Announced in a press release today, Allcensus has partnered with World Vital Records, Inc. to bring the Federal U.S. Census from 1790-1930 online at

“We, at Allcensus, are excited about this opportunity to assist a broader audience in tracing their family history. Our high quality census pages and correction of errors in pagination will make it easier for researchers to find the data they need in a very convenient and easy to use fashion,” said Jon McInnis, President,

The Federal Census online at contains more than 800,000 browseable images and 32 million names from select counties in every state, except Alaska. The Federal Census contains unique and pertinent information.

“The thing that I love about census data is that it helps connect the dots between many diverse genealogy data bases. The various census data sets, while not perfect, are the closest to consistent data collecting at any point in history,” said David Lifferth, President, World Vital Records, Inc. “With each successive census, more data elements are known and tracked. In most of the census you can get family group sheet info that is not documented anywhere else except for the family bible.”

The Federal Census database will be free to access at for 10 days after its initial launch.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007 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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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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