Sunday, April 29, 2007

FamilySearch databases online -- a summary

An article in the Terre Haute Tribune Star, "GENEALOGY: Family Search putting three new databases online," summarizes databases recently added to FamilySearch web site, including Nova Scotia birth, marriage, and death records. As the article reports, Nova Scotia is the first Canadian province to digitize its vital statistics and offer them for free on-line viewing. Utah death certificates, 250,000+ certificates from 1905 to 1954 linked with index and images. Birth records in the county will be put on line after 100 years and death records after 50 years, to comply with privacy laws. Additionally, the Personal Ancestral File database also adds the ability to view names in family tree format. The article also notes details of the West Virginia vital records online access, added in 2005. More than 1.4 million scanned records of births, marriages, and deaths from the counties of Calhoun, Gilmer, Hardy, Harrison, Mineral, and Pendleton.

Episode Twelve: Podcast Available

Click to LISTENIf you missed our twelfth episode, you can listen to the archived version, or feel free to download a copy to your desktop or mp3 player.

The quickest way to download is to right click on the "download a copy" link above and select "Save Link As" (Mozilla) or "Save Target As" (Internet Explorer). You will then be given options where on your computer to store the file. Our podcasts are 60 minutes long and average approximately 12mb in size.

If you use Apple iTunes (available for Mac and Windows) to listen to podcasts, click here to subscribe via iTunes to Family Roots Radio.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Organizing research saves time, effort, and heap of frustration

One of the most frustrating things in genealogy research is retracing your steps, either at the library or online, and not for any new insights, but because you forgot where you found a piece of information or you did write down what you found. Organizing research is almost an eternal quest. Why? Because it takes time and many people are averse to detail. In her article "Organizing Your Research," Gena Philibert-Ortega provides tips for organizing as you go, to help avoid procrastination. Simplicity is the key to keeping up with the task, and the article discusses a variety of forms along with a number or resources aimed at making do-able.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Britain colonial slave records online

As reported in an article on, "Britain's slave trade records go online," the records of nearly 100,000 British colonial slaves and their owners become available for free on the Internet for the first time. It is hoped the Black History collection on www. will help people fill in gaps in their family histories. The database contains the names of 99,349 slaves and their owners from registers in Barbados between 1815 and 1834 – the year slavery was abolished in British colonies.

Common Surname Research is Topic on 26 April Show

If you've been putting off research on one of your families because the surname was too common (and all of us do it!), this is the show for you! It's not just Smith and Jones. There are hundreds of common surnames, and they often require some additional strategies in our ancestral pursuits. With noted surname genealogist Christine Rose on board for our interview, we will also take some time to explore some web sites that provide particularly useful help when seeking common surnames.

Get ready to review Genealogy Forum with us to see some helpful material they have gathered. Then we'll look at GenForum to discuss getting the most out of the larger message boards. Then we'll scoot across the pond and introduce the Guild of One-Name Studies, a fantastic resource for British research. We'll also expose the fallacy of several so-called "surname sites." They're helpful to a point, but. . . . Naturally, you won't want to miss the tip from the pros, or the software tip of the week. Then there's always our free data site of the week to help you find more ancestral answers. So, tune in, and enjoy!

Do you want a little homework before you listen to the show? Check out a couple of your surnames to learn how common they area at this surname frequency site from the U.S. Census Bureau. For more information on surname frequency, review our 15 March show.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Auto maker sponsors "Who Do You Think You Are" LIVE event

An article in MarketingWeek, "Daihatsu celebrates centenary with BBC genealogy show," reports Japanese car marque Daihatsu is to sponsor the first Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE event as part of its strategy to celebrate its centenary. The live show is a spin off of the hugely successful BBC television series, following celebrities as they discover their ancestry. It takes at Kensington Olympia May 5 to May 7, and Daihatsu says it has decided to link to event as it ties in with its 100-year-history, while the visitor profile fits its target market. Other brand partners at the event include The National Archives, The History Channel and Alongside exhibits the event will host talks, workshops and an historical fashion feature. Guests at the event include genealogist Nick Barratt and historian David Starkey, as well some of the celebrities who featured in the BBC TV series, including Colin Jackson and Ian Hislop.

Genealogy plays role in researching heart disease

In Salt Lake City, LDS Hospital researchers say genealogy could provide some of the answers to the causes of heart disease. KUTV, a local television network, reports that researchers have been pouring over family history databases and now hope to take their efforts a step further. Doctors say there is no doubt that heart disease is genetic. Now they're hoping pedigree charts from families with history of heart disease will help answer some questions. Right now the database has about 10 million names, and researchers have collected blood samples from 15,000 patients with family histories of heart disease. For more on this story, see the Salt Lake Tribune article, "LDS Hospital looks at family history for heart disease clues."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Christine Rose to Guest on 26 April Show

We have the rare privilege of having one of America's best and most respected genealogists joining us on Family Roots Radio on 26 April. We are very excited to be welcoming Christine Rose, one of just 50 Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists as we discuss a subject we all have to deal with: researching a common surname. Well known as an excellent genealogist, author and speaker, Christine Rose has spent much of her time pursuing the Rose families. Her experience in sorting out people with a common name, and researching in over 500 U.S. courthouses will be of interest to all researchers. She has also authored several significant reference books, including the quintessential guide to courthouse research. You won't want to miss our discussion about these topics with one of genealogy's leading ladies.

Genealogical Research on a Shoestring Budget

In her article "Genealogical Research on a Shoestring Budget," Karen Pittman gives encouragement to beginning researchers, suggesting how simply and inexpensively it can be to get started on genealogy research: " Many people think that beginning genealogical research requires a huge outlay of funds. This is not the case. A notebook, a pencil and an interest in the past are enough to get a researcher started on his or her family history trail."

Monday, April 23, 2007

More Library Links from 19 April Show

We sure hope you enjoyed the discussion with Tom Kemp about using libraries effectively, and his introduction to GenealogyBank. We touched on a couple of items in that show for which we wanted to give the web links. Tom told us that there was now a free example of a source posted at GenealogyBank, so we wanted to link to that 1819-20 passenger list.

In our review of state libraries, we also mentioned that there is a great list of links to virtually every state repository: archives, libraries and societies. You can find the best list of such websites here at Cyndi's List.

Although we profiled three state library sites, here are some others you'll want to check out:
Indiana State Library's Genealogy Databases & Indexes
New York State Library Genealogy page
Ohio State Library Genealogy Services, including their online catalog
Library of Michigan Genealogy Resources, with some very useful databases
Pennsylvania State Library discussion of their genealogy collections
Massachusetts State Library Guide to Genealogical Resources
Maine State Library Genealogy Resource Materials

Well, the list could go on and on. Check the state library for your states of research, and then try some local libraries. There'll be some great new finds!

Don't forget the free data site, and those fascinating funeral cards at Genealogy Today. There's a very helpful article that outlines the nature and use of those unheralded records.

Stay tuned, we've got an important show coming up next! announces second surge in user-uploaded content

In a press release today,, announced that more than 1 million family photos have been uploaded since the site's new tree-building and sharing features launched in July 2006. In fact, users are now uploading photos at a rate of 10,000 per day. Over this same period, users have also created more than 1.7 million new family trees, added an estimated 257 million names to their trees, sent 316,000 invitations to share their family tree and attached 18 million family history documents directly from's 24,000 historical records collections.'s tree-building tools enable family members to build multimedia family trees together whether living next-door or across continents. Families can upload photos, write stories, enter life events and names on a shared family tree -- all for free. These visual portraits of history are organized into specific categories on the site for easy searching including, Portrait/Family Photo, Place, Object, Historical Event, Headstone, Document/Certificate, Map, and Transportation. To view a sample of these one million unique family photos added to

Cemetery symbols may provide insight to individual beliefs

Symbols on headstones often indicate something about the life of the deceased. Owing to a recent ruling, one of the more controversial symbols can now be added to those allowed on headstones in government cemeteries. An article in the International Herald Tribune, "Wiccans symbols allowed on grave markers in government cemeteries," reports the Wiccan pentacle [or pentagram] has been added to the list of emblems allowed in United States cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of fallen U.S. soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday. A settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans adds the five-pointed star to the list of "emblems of belief" allowed on VA grave markers.

Wicca is said to be a nature-based religion based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons, but variations of the pentacle have been used in horror movies as a sign of the devil — a usage not accepted and vehemently denied by Wiccans. The pentacle has been added to 38 symbols the VA already permits on gravestones. They include commonly recognized symbols for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, as well as those for smaller religions such as Sufism Reoriented, Eckiankar and the Japanese faith Seicho-No-Ie.

VA-issued headstones, markers and plaques can be used in any cemetery, whether it is a national one such as Arlington near Washington or a private burial ground.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Insights into the 1830 U. S. Census

An article on, "Genealogy: 1830 federal census underwent some changes in format and protocol," highlights some distinct differences between the 1830 U. S. Census and those of previous years, information that may provide new insights for researchers. While the focus is on the 1830 census, the comparison to other censuses is also revealing. The 1830 federal census, like those before it, was under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court in each state and was carried out by U.S. marshals who hired and organized the enumerators. However, there were some changes in the 1830 census format and protocol from previous censuses. Of particular interest may be that that duplicate copies were made of the 1830 census, which creates an even greater margin for error. The article gives tips on how to identify whether the copy you are using is an original or duplicate.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Review of Virginia Immigrants and Adventures

As promised on our 12 April show, we are publishing here a review of Virginia Immigrants and Adventures:

Martha W. McCartney, Virginia Immigrants and Adventures 1607 – 1635: A Biographical Dictionary (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007). 833 pp., $49.95.

Martha McCartney provides an excellent collection of biographical information on the early colonists along the James River from difficult to obtain primary sources. Virginia Immigrants and Adventures 1607 – 1635: A Biographical Dictionary will no doubt become a favorite work of students and genealogists of colonial Virginia history. That said, this is clearly a reference work. The format of the book is alphabetic for the most part, except where family groups appear listed together. This means that if the person being sought was identified with his/her parents, it may be necessary to search all the entries of the surname to locate the pertinent biography. This problem is negated, however, by the index included at the end of the book, making the book fairly easy to use.

In addition to the biographical information, McCartney has used her knowledge of the early geography of the area to link individuals to a particular place within the area. A map shows the areas where information on the individuals included in the book resided. Each biography references this map. This will be helpful in tracing individuals from the period in which counties govern the area, to this early period where individuals are identified by plantation or now defunct city. The first portion of the book also includes a brief description of the colonization of this area, describing, in great detail, each of the locations referenced on the map.

Clearly a work of many years diligent effort, scholars and genealogists alike may expect to benefit from the wealth of information McCartney has amassed. Unlike most histories and biographies covering this time period, McCartney has clearly tried to gather information on every person mentioned in the available records for this area. This makes it a source for information about the lives and habits of people which are widely available nowhere else.

Amanda Sims, MA (Pending, in history)

Practical tips and hints for cemetery research

Gena Philibert-Ortega, in her article "Lessons Learned from the Cemetery," provides us with insights gained while conducting research for her book on the cemeteries in the Inyo and Mono County regions of California. The article offers practical tips and hints to help family history researchers better understand common situation to improve their success in locating ancestral graves.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Episode Eleven: Podcast Available

Click to LISTENIf you missed our eleventh episode, you can listen to the archived version, or feel free to download a copy to your desktop or mp3 player.

The quickest way to download is to right click on the "download a copy" link above and select "Save Link As" (Mozilla) or "Save Target As" (Internet Explorer). You will then be given options where on your computer to store the file. Our podcasts are 60 minutes long and average approximately 12mb in size.

If you use Apple iTunes (available for Mac and Windows) to listen to podcasts, click here to subscribe via iTunes to Family Roots Radio.

US woman donates 30 volumes of Nova Scotia genealogy

If you have ancestry in Novia Scotia, you might want to reveiw an article in, "US woman leaves 30 volumes of genealogy to Pictou group." While certain family names are specified, others are also listed that may in some way be related. The article reports a county heritage group is the beneficiary of an American woman’s lifelong interest in Nova Scotia genealogy. Hazel Arnold MacIvor bequeathed 30 volumes of information to the Pictou County Genealogy and Heritage Society, to be stored at the Hector Centre archives in Pictou. MacIvor, a retired Detroit teacher who died in the mid-1990s, compiled the information after many trips to Scotland and Nova Scotia.

The genealogies include census records, wills, land grants, family records, Bible records, birth and death records and marriage certificates from Canada, the United States and Scotland. Ms. MacIvor’s work, which began as a hobby, spans the MacLean, Marshall, Fraser, Matheson, Ross, Stewart, Simpson and Nichol families, among others.

Effective Library Research on 19 April Show

Libraries are one of the genealogist's life lines. So many records are in so many libraries, we can't live without them. However, sometimes it's hard to live with them as well! With noted genealogical librarian Tom Kemp on board, we have the opportunity to discuss more effective ways to conduct your library research. One of those ways is through a new service called GenealogyBank, available at a growing number of libraries.

In addition, we'll have the chance to look at some of the great state libraries in the U.S., through their websites. Our "Interactive Website" segment is scheduled to explore the Library of Virginia with their great collection of databases, as well as the Connecticut State Library which provides great guides to their collection. And, it would not be complete if we did not take a peek at the Illinois State Library for an example of their important catalog of materials.

If that's not enough, our tip from the pros will tell you how to find more of these great libraries, and our free site of the week will introduce you to a record type you may have never thought of, and an index to thousands of such records. Then, of course, there's our software tip, notice of what's new and more, so listen in!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Berlin's many cemeteries a popular attraction

Of interest to those who might be planning travel to Germany this summer is an article in Jurnalo, "Tourists flock to see Berlin's historical cemeteries," which provides an interesting summary on the many cemeteries in and around Berlin. As stated in the article, some Berlin cemeteries were devastated during World War II and a few in the border area during the city's post-war division were sealed by the communists and spiked with watch towers and border installations after the Wall went up in 1961. These problems apart, Berlin's collection of cemeteries currently look in remarkably good shape, having been handsomely restored, often by volunteer working groups.

"The city's cemeteries are something of a magnet for tourists nowadays," says Pohren-Hartmann. "Especially for visiting ex- Berliners who have moved abroad. They make guided tours of the more famous burial places, feeling they are reliving history when doing so," he says.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tom Kemp to Guest on 19 April Show

Family historians love libraries, in large part because they have so many records. Who better to discuss the effective use of libraries with than Tom Kemp, one of America's premier genealogical librarians. Not only has Tom worked as a genealogical librarian in several libraries, he has served as the director for two major genealogy libraries in New England. He has also worked for two major library vendors, including his current position as NewsBank's Director of Genealogy Products. That will give us a chance to discuss America's Genealogy Bank, one of the newest major collections of information available online for genealogists. We'll also discuss ways to make your library research more efficient, and what every genealogist needs to know about libraries. So, tune in for more research success!

New Scotland genealogy center to open in 2009

An article in the Buchan Observer highlights a new genealogy research center scheduled to open in 2009, in harmony with Scotland's Year of Homecoming. According to the article, historians from all over Scotland, the UK and the world, with Aberdeenshire lineage, will soon be able to trace their family history when the region's first genealogy centre opens in Peterhead. The centre is being established by the Peterhead Tourism Initiative (PTI) which has been working hard to secure funding for the project. It will be hosted in a room at the Arbuthnot Museum at Peterhead's St Peter Street where a wealth of documentation can already be found. It is believed the project will attract new visitors to the North-east and will tie in with the Scottish Executive's Homecoming project scheduled for 2009. Scotland's Year of Homecoming is a year-long event which will showcase Scotland as a 'must-visit, must-return' destination. The year coincides with the 250th anniversary of the birth of national bard Robert Burn which will be celebrated through a series of events.

Group works to include ancestry on 2010 US Census short form

The future of the US Census as a prime source of family history information is in the news again. Dedicated researchers, always conscious and grateful for the information contained in available census records and our access to them, have equal interest in seeing that benefit continue into the future. This week, a short piece in SitNews notes a coalition of U.S. ethnic groups wants the next decennial Census to quantify the ingredients in America's melting pot. The "Ancestry Working Group" - which represents those of Italian, Irish, German, Arab, Greek, Iranian and Caribbean descent, among others - is calling on the Census Bureau to include a question on ancestry in the 2010 short Census form. The group won an earlier battle with the bureau to keep the question on the 2000 long form. The agency maintains that the short form simply doesn't have room and that adding an ancestry query would bump more vital questions.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Early Marriage Customs

The institution of marriage and the customs that surround it are a facinating historical study. In her article, "Early Marriage Customs," Melissa Slate gives brief insight into the marriage customs of Colonial America, fitting during the 400th year anniversary of Colonial Jamestown. Consider the thimble and its use in place of today's custom of giving a ring.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

NARA historical document price increases -- Voice your opinion

According to an article by Leland Meitzler on Genealogy Blog at the National Archives, NARA (the National Archives and Records Administration) is proposing a large increase in the costs of ordering historical documents. These rate increases would greatly affect family historians trying to order military records, pension files, land records, ship passenger lists, and other files, and would make obtaining some records financially difficult for genealogists.

As a representative example are the proposed rates for obtaining Civil War and other war (Revolution, 1812, etc.) pension files, which will go from $37 to $60 up to $125, depending on which war is of interest.

There will be a public comment period on the proposed rate increases until April 27. To comment online, go to and follow the instructions to fill out an online comment/complaint form. Or fax your comments to (301) 837-0319; mail your comments to Regulations Comments Desk (NPOL), Room 4100, Policy and Planning Staff, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Rd., College Park, MD 20740—600.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Episode Ten: Podcast Available

Click to LISTENIf you missed our tenth episode, you can listen to the archived version, or feel free to download a copy to your desktop or mp3 player.

The quickest way to download is to right click on the "download a copy" link above and select "Save Link As" (Mozilla) or "Save Target As" (Internet Explorer). You will then be given options where on your computer to store the file. Our podcasts are 60 minutes long and average approximately 12mb in size.

If you use Apple iTunes (available for Mac and Windows) to listen to podcasts, click here to subscribe via iTunes to Family Roots Radio.

More Links from 12 April Show

We're sure you enjoyed our conversation with Martha McCartney, and her fascinating insight into the sources to learn more about those early settlers. You can find Martha's magnificent book, and others like it, at Genealogical Publishing Company.

Indeed, in the Interactive Website segment, we discussed how some similar but older books are now available at Google Books. Time only permitted us to walk through finding Revised History of Harlem (by James Riker), but we've also found the following there (just type in the title words in the Google search box):

Connecticut Puritan Settlers, 1633-1845 (by Hinman)
Register of the Early Settlers of Kings County, Long Island, N. Y. (by Bergen)

In addition, has posted the following similar books about early settlers:

Great Migration Begins (Robert Charles Anderson)
Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Nineteenth Century
Massachusetts Pioneers (Charles Henry Pope)
Plymouth Colony, History and People (Eugene Stratton)
Maine Pioneers, 1623-60 (Charles Henry Pope)

Of course, they're not all online yet. Some are still under copyright, so you'll want to visit your local library. Consider these two examples:

The Palatine Families of New York (Henry Z. Jones)
Opening the Ozarks (Marsha Hoffman Rising) [Although not colonial, it is similar]

If you're interested in the early Pennsylvania Germans, check your library for several books by Annette K. Burgert. Of course, sometimes there are too many early settlers for a book. Those interested in early New Amsterdam (now New York City) should seek out the CD-ROM by David M. Riker, New Netherland, Vital Records 1600s which is really his Genealogical and Biographical Directory of Persons in New Netherland from 1613-1674 (as the print title is known)

Those of you who want to pursue the original records behind such research were alerted to one such example in our free data site of the week. The Colonial Records of Connecticut are available online, with a good search engine. Enjoy!

Another place to look for that elusive marrage record

So who is Gretna Green or, what is it? In her article, "Gretna Greens and Your Ancestor's Missing Records," Gena Philibert-Ortega explains: "Gretna Greens are cities where people went to get married. They are named for a place called Gretna Green in Scotland," where marriage regulations were few. Gena provides information on the hisotry of Gretna Greens and the Scotland equivalents in the United States. Learning more about marriage laws within your various areas of interest may open up new possibilities. For example, marrying a first cousin is legal in some states but illegal in others -- there are, no doubt, other motivators. Something else to consider in searching for an elusive marriage record.

Ancestry offering access to Ellis Island records, through April 30 has also announced, to honor the 100th anniversaries of the largest year and single day of immigration through Ellis Island, it is offering free access to the only complete online set of Ellis Island passenger arrival records (1892-1957) from April 12 to April 30. In addition, is inviting users to relive the remarkable journeys of their gateway ancestors at the click of a mouse at -- an interactive, multimedia tour of this national landmark. More than 11,500 immigrants passed through America's "Golden Door" on April 17, 1907, the single-day record. In total, some 1 million immigrants would come through the island in 1907 alone, making it the busiest year in Ellis Island's 60 years of operation.

Ancestry releases Scotland Census Collection, 1841-1902

Almost 5 million Americans who claim Scottish ancestry can now discover their Scottish ancestors among the more than 24 million names in the complete Scotland Census Collection, 1841-1901, announced in a press release yesterday. These censuses offer snapshots of history, from names and occupations to place of birth and residence, providing insight into the forces that shaped the lives of many Scottish ancestors. Interestingly, U.S. passenger list records indicate a spike in Scottish immigration during this period, making it easier for individuals to trace their ancestors from America's shores to Scotland's Highlands. The complete Scotland Census Collection adds to's growing international census collection, which already includes the only complete online collections of fully-indexed and digitized U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 to 1930, England and Wales censuses from 1841 to 1901, and the 1851, 1901, 1906 and 1911 Canadian census.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Photo collection offers hope for Australia's "stolen generation"

An article in the South Australian, Advertiser Adelaide, "Help finding family faces, " indicates aboriginal people will be able to access a new collection of more than 8000 photographs at the South Australian Museum to help them identify relatives. Dating back to early European settlement, the pictures will be announced as an addition to the museum's Aboriginal Family History service. The service can help establish family connections for members of the so-called stolen generation, those who until the 1970s were taken as children to be placed in state care. A worker at the museum said "one lady who came in had never seen a picture of her mother before, then she found out she had a brother she never knew about. It gives you goosebumps". People interested in tracing their family history can call Mr. Abdullah-Highfold on 8207 7381.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Colonial Settler Biographies on 12 April Show

With an award winning colonial historian like Martha McCartney on the show, it seems good to explore the growing field of biographical sources for colonial settlers. Her new book is certainly not the first. Genealogists have been writing such books for more than a century. Now there are a growing number of websites devoted to the topic. We'll explore some of them, including the People of Colonial Albany as well as Mayflower History. Researchers with Pennsylvania German ancestry will want to learn about the Palatine Project, while all will appreciate the introduction to Google Books and how it pertains to this topic.

Add to that discussion our regular features, including the news of the week, the free site selection as well as the software and professional research tips, and you won't want to miss this show. Tune in right on time, since our question of the week may be considered mildly controversial as well.

Oregon State Library exhibits early pioneer historical timeline

An article on, "State Library Exhibits its Most Unusual Holding," gives an overview of a new exhibit and provides insight on the merits of an early pioneer scroll, the work of Oregon pioneer and resident of Salem, Sebastian C. Adams. Adams' twenty-one foot scroll, A Chronological Chart of Ancient, Modern, and Biblical History, a "best seller" of the 1870s, is today a treasure to antiquarians but little known to the public. An exact photo-replica of the first edition of the entire scroll will be on display at the Oregon State Library, beginning April 18, 2007. A second framed copy of a later edition of the original scroll will also be exhibited.

The Chronological Chart is in the tradition of historical timelines that were very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sebastian Adams was born in 1825 and survived an arduous journey over the Oregon Trail in 1850 . . . Throughout his life, Adams was a scholar and lecturer on the subject of world history and religion. His knowledge is well illustrated in this outstanding example of 19th century chromolithography which taught colorful and dramatic lessons in history. The exhibit of Sebastian Adams' Chronological Chart will be on view on the second floor State Library through the end of the year. The State Library is located at 250 Winter Street, across from the State Capitol in Salem and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Jamestown 400th Anniversary celebrations in the news

Organizers of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown say researchers will help visitors trace their ancestry.
Ancestry. com will run a booth during "America's Anniversary Weekend" on May 11th through 13th. The event precedes the 2007 NGS Conference that May 16 to 19 in Richmond. For information on Jamestown celebrations, visit America's 400th Anniversary. For information on the NGS Conference, visit the National Genealogical, Rediscover America web site.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Historian Martha McCartney to Guest on 12 April Show

You won't want to miss this one! You don't know her yet, but you certainly should. So far, our guests have been well-known in genealogical circles, but it's also important for Family Roots Radio to introduce others who have had a significant impact on the field. Martha McCartney is an historian-archeologist who has applied her careful and diligent findings to genealogy and the field of family history is much better off for her efforts. A multiple award-winning research historian, with a focus on Jamestown, Virginia, Martha has recently published an 800 page biographical dictionary, Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635. With biographical sketches of 5,500 early settlers, everyone with Virginia ancestors should take notice.

But, we're not limited to Virginia. We'll be discussing the kinds of sources and strategies Martha used to develop these biographies. Every researcher will want to learn from her experience. Come listen in, and become a better family historian!

More Links from 5 April Show

Once again we wanted to thank Megan Smolenyak for sharing her time with us on April 5th. Her insights into a variety of research aspects were very helpful. And, the work she does for the U.S. Army brings so much comfort to families. It's great to see genealogical skills used to help mend families. In her discussion about researching Rev. Sharpton's African American ancestry, she mentioned Tony Burroughs, a noted African-American researcher. Those interested in knowing more about the work Tony does can find his profile at the website of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC). There is also an interview with him about his work on the BBC TV show, "The Real Family of Jesus."

We explored some great and helpful sites for finding living relatives, and there are more out there. One that genealogists should be aware of is a database at Their U. S. Public Records Collection provides better information than some of the sites we mentioned, and has almost a billion entries! So, if you've got an Ancestry subscription, be sure to use it. Another "private investigator" site you may want to check out is U.S. Search, while another helpful telephone directory is White Pages.

The free data site of the week was the wonderful Missouri Death Certificates, which, as always, is also linked from the Genealogy Sleuth. Stay tuned, there's always more in store!

Hatfields and McCoys -- a new look at an old fued

We've all heard of the infamous fued between Hatfields and the McCoys. What we probably didn't know is that is the fued may have some genetic underpinnings. In her article, "Genetic Health Found in Famous Feud Family," Melissa Slate, who writes on the genealogy research in the Appalachian region, discusses a rare genetic disease affecting those on at least one side of the fence, the McCoy family. Among the symptoms . . . increased rage. But as Melissa points out, this is more than a historical anecdote; being genetic the disease can be passed down, and researchers are keenly interested in locating descendants of McCoy family.

Monday, April 9, 2007 reaches 150 million names

An article in the Tribune-Star, "Genealogy: Family Search Web site reaches 150 million names," announces the Family Search web site has reached 150 million names on its free genealogy database at This database has grown by 19 million names per year since it was launched in 1999.

One feature of the online databases is the Pedigree Resource File, or PRF. Family files in the PRF are submitted by visitors to the Web site. To submit files, a user has to download the free Personal Ancestral File genealogy software at the site, or submit the information using a GEDCOM file from another genealogy software program.

A new search feature on the advanced search screen allows users to check a “show all events” feature to view extended generational information that they were unable to view before to this addition. The advanced search screen is at

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Alex Haley's "Roots" 30th Anniversary rebroadcast, Easter Sunday

A Munster Times article, "Cable revives 'Roots' on 30th anniversary," announces the 30th Anniversary rebroadcast of Alex Haley's "Roots." The groundbreaking 1977 miniseries returns to television Easter Sunday. TV One, a national cable station featuring African-American programming and Comcast Channel 172 in Chicago, is pairing with African Ancestry, a company specializing in using DNA testing to determine African lineage, to bring back the tale of African-American experience that captivated the nation 30 years ago.

"Roots," an adaptation of Alex Haley's book by the same title, traces the journey of a West African man sold into slavery from Gambia to the U.S., and follows his family through emancipation in the post-Civil War South.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Episode Nine: Podcast Available

Click to LISTENIf you missed our ninth episode, you can listen to the archived version, or feel free to download a copy to your desktop or mp3 player.

The quickest way to download is to right click on the "download a copy" link above and select "Save Link As" (Mozilla) or "Save Target As" (Internet Explorer). You will then be given options where on your computer to store the file. Our podcasts are 60 minutes long and average approximately 12mb in size.

If you use Apple iTunes (available for Mac and Windows) to listen to podcasts, click here to subscribe via iTunes to Family Roots Radio.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Allen County LIbrary teams up with

An article in the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, "Put family records online," announces the
Allen County Public Library's endoresement of, a new genealogy web site. Several months ago, the library began talks with the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy, a Utah nonprofit, which was founded to create a place on the Web for genealogists to contribute material. Those talks gave birth to, which is based on the Wikipedia model. The Web site allows people to upload and correct genealogical information, research projects and geographic information.

“We wanted a place virtually where we could encourage people to record their family history,” said Curt Witcher, manager of the library’s genealogy center. “Any everyday person can go onto the site and upload information.”

The site is free to use, but registration is required. As on Wikipedia, users will be able to update and correct information on the site. They can also make “read-only” entries that can’t be changed, Witcher said. “Wikipedia’s popularity draws a large crowd of people who can constantly correct misinformation, he said. “If you build enough people, it’s very self-correcting. We’re hoping to build the same thing.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Finding Living Relatives on 5 April Show

We all have them, it's just that sometimes we don't know where they are. What's that? Living relatives. Oh, sure, you may know where your brother and his kids live, but what about your second cousin, once removed? What about relatives you don't even know you have? Family history research includes coming forward and seeking descendants of our ancestors, as well as searching for earlier ancestors. There can be great value in finding living relatives. They may have pictures and records (think: family Bible) we don't have. With a guest like Megan Smolenyak, we'd be missing a great opportunity if we did not discuss some of the ways to locate these living, but often unknown, relatives.

So, in the "Interactive Website" segment, we're going to explore a couple of the more controversial websites, those that provide information on living persons. Names, addresses, phone numbers, ages may already be out there (gathered from public records). We'll look at a couple of "phone book" sites, such as Switchboard or Directory Assistance Plus. But, there's more, including what some call "private investigator" sites. While sites like PeopleFinders charge a fee for a complete report, you can get a lot of information for free. The same with Intelius. But, the champion of free data, and controversy, is ZabaSearch. We'll explore and explain why.

Of course, you'll want to hear the news of the week, as well as our research tip from the pros, our software tip and our popular free data site. Be ready to link to the Genealogy Sleuth for that one! We'll be there on your Internet connection. Tune in and enjoy!

Evaluating genealogy publications

In his article, "Summary on Genealogical Publications," Alan Smith offers some guidelines for evaluating various genealogical resources and targeting those most applicable to a particular objective. Smith suggests there are two main types of genealogical publications: "The first is very specialized and concern a unique geographical area and can hold actual documents and family tree data which mainly concern state and county locations. The other type of publication has a ‘human interest' slant for a generalized public or a "how-to" approach. Both can help, but sometimes a researcher has to stop reading "how-to" articles and start doing research."

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Megan Smolenyak to Guest on 5 April Show

She's been all over the television on network news shows, and now, we've got her at Family Roots Radio! Megan Smolenyak, one of the founders of Roots Television will be our guest on April 5th. Learn the inside scoop on the search for Rev. Sharpton's roots and hear about the great additions at Roots Television. But, most of all, enjoy Megan's wonderful insights as we discuss ways of locating some of your missing, but living, relatives. With experience as broad, and touching, as hers, you won't want to miss this show. Be listening!

Genealogical Software, Links and More from 29 March Show

Well, that was a great show with Dick Eastman, and we thank him for his insights and comments about genealogy software and other issues. We've already posted the links for the software we talked about, but we also talked about a great site that has reviews of 14 different software packages, and has ranked the software on numerous criteria. You'll want to spend some time at Top Genealogy Software to see who has the features you want.

There's also a couple of comparison charts online that show you the different features of different software. They're a bit dated, but are still a useful place to look. Check out Richard Wilson's chart, as well as Bill Mumford Report Card. Of course, we don't know who's selling the best, but with the help of, we can tell which software seems the most popular on their site. So, based on their sales ranking and figures (which are open to interpretation in many ways), here's the 15 top selling genealogy software programs there:

  1. Family Tree Maker
  2. RootsMagic
  3. Family Tree Legends
  4. Legacy Family Tree
  5. Heritage Family Tree
  6. GSP Family Tree
  7. GenoPro Family Tree
  8. The Master Genealogist
  9. Generation Family Tree
  10. Ultimate Family Tree
  11. Family Tree Quick & Easy
  12. Family Tree for Dummies
  13. Easy Family Tree
  14. Softkeys Family Tree
  15. Multilingual Family Tree

In our news segment, we mentioned that vital records for Nova Scotia are now on line. The free data site of the week was the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. Well, all of that should keep you busy till the next show. Be listening then!

Article offers help utlizing French family history web site

An article in the Terre Haute Tribute Star, "Genealogy: French Web site offers myriad of information," offers great tips for accessing information a new French genealogy web site. According to the article, a French Web site has recently been created with a database of 439,770 records including 225,700 baptisms, 69,799 marriages, and 144,271 burials from the parish records in the French department of Haute-Saone, a part of the Franche-Comte region. Haute-Saone is located in the northeast of France and was created in 1789 during the French Revolution. The Web site contains records (“actes”) from 113 communities and parishes. These records are from the years 1637-1932, but the majority are from the 1700s and 1800s.

"Even though the site is in French, it is fairly easy to use," and the article proceeds to walk you through some steps and offers some basic translations. I walked through the first steps for one of my French surnames, although this is not my region of interest. If it's yours, this site may have something for you.

A second French site at is still incomplete, but, when finished, will list the names of all French soldiers who died in 20th-century wars. The site also has a searchable database. It can be translated into English by clicking on the small British flag icon.

Ancestry releases Canadian Border Collection

Great news and one more place to check -- online -- for those who have not yet found their immigrant ancestor in U. S. passenger lists. In a recent press release, announced announced the release of a new Canadian records collection, offering 4 million names of individuals who crossed the U.S.-Canadian border between 1895 and 1956. These historical records are the latest addition to's Immigration Records Collection, which also includes more than 100 million names from the largest online collection of U.S. passenger lists, spanning 1820 to 1960.

An often-overlooked, but major U.S. immigration channel, the U.S.-Canadian border typically offered easier entrance to the United States than sea ports such as Ellis Island. This new collection includes immigrants who first sailed to or settled in Canada before continuing to the United States as well as U.S. and Canadian citizens crossing the border. Among the busiest ports of entry on both sides of the border were Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Detroit, Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.The border crossings also contain a surprising number of nationalities with Russians, Italians and Chinese among the most common nationalities of people crossing the U.S.-Canadian border.

While you do pay to access the records, you can search the records without charge. To learn more about the collection, see Border Crossings: From Canada to U. S., 1895-1956.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Roots Television - watch, learn, participate

An article today on summarizes Roots Television, a privately owned company founded by professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak and media producer Marcy Brown. Roots Television is an Internet-based viewing channel dedicated to genealogy. According the site's itself, "Roots Television™ is by and for avid genealogists and family history lovers of all stripes. . . . You’ll find everything from DNA Stories, to Flat Stanley’s Family Tree, to the lectures from the latest Genealogy and Technology Conference." Not only can you watch and learn, but Roots Television also accepts user-submitted content on its new "Roots Tube" Channel, and to get people interested is holding a WildRoots contest, where users tell the craziest thing they've done in pursuit of their family tree. It's a brave new world!