Saturday, May 30, 2009

Facebook for Genealogists

Most family history researchers are familiar with the more popular social networking sites dedicated to genealogy, sites aimed at connecting families and providing a platform for sharing information. Another branch of social networking are the sites previously thought to be the domain of the young, used by teens and college kids to connect with friends, Facebook being the most popular today. However, the demographics on Facebook have expanded to include pretty much everyone, regardless of age. Facebook is the place to find people and to be found by others. Its popularity has made Facebook a real powerhouse in connecting people. In her article, "Facebook for Genealogists," Gena Philibert-Ortega, explores how Facebook can be used to enhance or advance your genealogy, lending encouragement, perhaps, to those who have yet to dip a toe in Facebook waters. 

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Friday, January 2, 2009

MyHeritage announces release Family Tree Builder 3

MyHeritage, a popular family Web site, announced in a recent press release the launch of Family Tree Builder 3, a powerful software program members can download and use to build family trees, research family history and add content like photos and videos. One of the nice features of MyHeritage is that it’s free, with moderately priced plans for additional functionality and features. Several new features are outlined.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Heritage teams with FamilyTree DNA

MyHeritage, the genealogy social networking web site, is offering users a "cheek scraper" DNA test for under £100, as reported recently in the Guardian (UK). The site is teaming up with FamilyTreeDNA to help identify living relatives with common ancestors. According to the article, Israeli-based MyHeritage's 27 million registered members, who are mostly in the English-speaking world, use the site to document their family trees and research missing connections or relatives.

A Y-chromosome test identifies paternal descent, while a mitochondrial DNA test shows the maternal line, and both cost $129 (£87). A combined test, for men, is $219. The DNA test can identify if a member has Native American, African or Jewish ancestors and trace relatives to a migration map of the US, the article says. Both MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA are "keen to emphasise" that records are not shared or published and are held securely.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Are you careful enough?

A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, "Are you careful enough? Expert tells Utah cops everyone's vulnerable on the Web," highlighted the potential for exploitation of information available on the Internet. Reporting on the Utah Attorney General's Economic Crime Conference in Salt Lake City, Internet expert Linda Criddle reminded those present, "Every one of you . . . is a commodity. Somebody is willing to pay to know the color of your eyes."

Criddle described a family tree her own father posted online to display the fruits of his genealogical research. He took it down once she pointed out that "mother's maiden name" is a common security backup question for online accounts. That kind of personal information can give criminals access to financial accounts, help them select and profile potential victims, and even put users' friends and relatives at risk, Criddle said.

I have long been concerned about the level of personal information available on the web, and not in genealogy only, but also through social networking and the latest trend, family and personal blogs. Trying to stop it would be like the child with his finger in the dyke trying to hold back the flood. The only real prevention rests with individuals rethinking what they put online and at what level of security.

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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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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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Saturday, October 27, 2007

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, 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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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Latest in social networking, the Encyclopedia of Genealogy

As reported in the Cincinnati Post, "Encyclopedia of Genealogy created, updated by readers," the powerful and progressive impact of social networking sites continues to transform the Internet as well as online genealogical research with the ever-increasing popularity of interactive web sites such as the free-content Encyclopedia of Genealogy. Similar to the tremendously popular and sometimes controversial web-based interactive encyclopedia, Wikipedia, entries within the Encyclopedia of Genealogy are created, edited and updated entirely by its readers. The project is sponsored by Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and online genealogy bookstores and

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