Friday, November 30, 2007

Researching Your Quaker Ancestors

The Quakers or Society of Friends is another religious group that took issue with the Church of England and participated in the founding of America. Most notable among them, perhaps, is William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. This year marks the 325th anniversary of Penn's arrival in America. An informative article by Gena Philibert-Ortega on "Researching Your Quaker Ancestors" provides considerable useful information and online resources for this select group.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New online Wales and England burial records date back to 1538

According to an article today in ic Wales, "New online family research sources," online family tree researchers will be able to delve 300 years further back into their histories from today, thanks to a new register of burials in Wales and England. The database, available on, dates back to 1538, predating the centralised registration of deaths in Wales and England, which began in 1837. It includes details of more than 13 million burials contained in parish registers, non-conformist registers, Roman Catholic, Jewish and other registers as well as cemetery and cremation records. All the records are cross-searchable, making it possible to search for ancestors by surname without needing to know where in the country they came from.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Online resources available to advance your genealogical education

As we look toward the new year and the beginning rounds of genealogy conferences and seminars, you may want to consider getting a head start on your genealogy education. In her article, "Genealogy Education," Melissa Slate offers some online "resources to enhance your genealogical learning."

WorldVitalRecords to sponsor 4th Annual St. George Jamboree announced in a press release today its major sponsorship of the 2008 St. George Utah Genealogy and Family Heritage Jamboree to be held on February 8-9, 2008.

"Being a sponsor of this event is an awesome opportunity and privilege because we have never had sponsors before," said Kimberly Savage, VP of My Ancestors Found. "I have attended conferences for 20 years, and this is an excellent conference. Professionals who are on the cutting edge of learning will be attending, along with the leaders in the industry, such as, Footnote, Ancestry, and FamilySearch.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 announces beta release of Genealogy Maps

Plot your family history using Google Maps. In a press release today, the Beta release of their new Genealogy Maps. These new tools take location information already present in GEDCOM or online family trees, and provide a unique graphical view of a family history: Ancestor Map shows all known locations of an individual's ancestors, showing many generations at one glance; Family Map displays where the parents and children of an individual were born, allowing the family historian to step-by-step through the family's past just by following the links to each family member; Descendants Map provides a single view, showing how an ancestor's offspring spread throughout the world.

"We aren't trying to be the leading research site, or provide the largest database of names to search," explained Vandana Rao of TribalPages, "What we do is help you present your family history to the world. These new Genealogy Maps are a great new way to do that. Seeing where your ancestors came from and where their families ended up is a very powerful experience."

TribalPages is one of the last online services offering completely free online family trees, with no trial periods or gimmicks. "We're happy to provide these Maps to our free family trees, " says Rao, "We feel that the more usable and powerful our platform is, the more likely our free customers will choose to pay for the additional photo storage and premium features our paid sites provide."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Extensive account of Native American tribes reprinted

An article in the Tribune Star, "Genealogy: 'Indian Tribes of North America' quite an undertaking," notes this year’s reprinting by the Genealogical Publishing Co. of “Indian Tribes of North America” by John R. Swanson. This "extensive volume" originally published in 1952 by the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology, the report says, encompasses every known tribe in North America from upper Canada, Greenland and Alaska, through the lower 48 states, and culminating in Mexico, Central America and the islands of the Caribbean. It focuses on the time period of 1650 in order to document the tribes that existed before being relocated by the encroaching Europeans. This book seeks to fill in the huge gap in our knowledge of Native American tribes before the period of removal to Indian Territory (what later became Oklahoma), when record keeping was established. This 726-page authoritative volume with its four, large fold-out maps is priced at $75 and can be ordered from the Genealogy Publishing Co.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Memento mori: Funeral Photography

Many of us have in our possession or have seen old photos of an ancestor lying in a coffin, and many have thought this photographing the dead a very macabre practice. But it does have a long and respectable tradition. In her article, "Memento mori: Funeral Photography," Judy Rosella Edwards examines the history and uses of funeral photography.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A CD of your old family photos -- a perfect gift

You know the old saying about putting all your eggs in one basket. The rule applies to many things, including money and your treasured family photos, something money can't buy. Thanks to modern technology, we have a way to preserve and protect old family pictures by scanning them. As Shelley Poblete notes in her article, "Photographs: The Importance of Sharing," scanning preserves the image in its current state, even though the original may continue to deteriorate. But she also notes that scanning them and storing them in your own home is not enough -- to finish the job of preservation, they need to be distributed. You need to share them. With the holiday season at hand, a CD of your old photos may be the perfect gift.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Family History Library hosts holiday event, Dec 1

As announced in the Deseret Morning News, "Family History Library is planning holiday event," a special holiday event will be held at the LDS Family History Library and the Museum of Church History and Art, located immediately to the west of Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. The event takes place on Saturday, December 1 and features activities for families, including presentations on holiday traditions in various countries. For a schedule of activities, go to and click on the link under the Family History Library heading. Parking is available for a fee at the northwest corner of West Temple and North Temple streets.

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.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Encyclopedias may open new doors in research

Encyclopedias, even those you've had sitting around the house for years, may contain historical information relevant to your genealogy. In her article, "Finding Aids: Encyclopedias," Gena Philibert-Ortega discusses the ways in which encyclopedias might be used to assist genealogy research, suggesting the types of encyclopedias researchers might find useful, along with some specific titles. Among the resources suggested is one of my favorites, The Handbook of Texas Online. The great thing about encyclopedias is that they also direct to additional source information, some of which may be entirely new to you and send you down a new path.

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.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New approach to interpreting African American DNA

If you watched the PBS miniseries, "African American Lives," you are familiar with its host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., a Harvard University professor. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, "Harvard's Gates Refines Genetic-Ancestry Searches for Blacks," explores Gates new venture, emphasizing DNA research is not yet a perfect science.

The article notes, In 2005, Dr. Gates, an African-American Studies scholar, had his DNA tested again and was told by another commercial genealogy service that his maternal lineage didn't track to Egypt, or even to Africa. Instead, it went back to a European in colonial America, who historians believe was a white indentured servant . . . the second version of Dr. Gates's lineage turned out to be the right one. But the mistakes made by the burgeoning genetic-ancestry industry have continued -- prompting Dr. Gates to start his own DNA-tracing company, one that he says will be able to take a more refined look at African-American ancestry. Dr. Gates's new company, African DNA LLC, aims to use historians and anthropologists to explain which of various genetic possibilities prompted by DNA traces is more historically likely.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nauvoo, Illinois -- a new look

A fresh perspective is always welcome in the world of genealogy. In her article, "Nauvoo Retains Its Place in History," Judy Rosella Edwards takes a look at Nauvoo, Illinois after the Mormons were driven out, pointing out that ethnic and religious groups have a history in the area. Among the newcomers was one Christian Jung, a German immigrant and staunch Lutheran who spent his life "devoted to reinventing Nauvoo." The article also mentions the French Icarians, a group of French idealists attempting to establish a Utopian society.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WorldVitalRecords announces new scanning service announced in a press release yesterday a new genealogical service to preserve photos, documents, videos and slides. decided to offer this service after discovering that 91 percent of the survey panel said they were concerned about preserving their family photos, videos and/or documents in a digital format. Videotapes, it says, have an expected life of 7-15 years before the quality deteriorates, whereas DVDs have an expected life of 100-500 years. Over time, photos and film can fade, discolor, deteriorate, dry out or become brittle, regardless of how well they are stored. In an effort to preserve these valuable tapes, photos and documents, now offers the its Preservation Package services, including converting a variety of film and tape media to DVD; scanning photos and documents; digitizing slides and negatives, and providing secure storage filing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Partnership focuses on history of family names

According to a recent article in TechRockies, ", BookSurge Partner On Family History Books, " BookSurge, the on-demand publishing arm of online retailer, reports that it has collaborated to produce a series of family history books. BookSurge said the series, called "Our Name in History," comprises more than a quarter of a million volumes and will be sold on The series details the most common 279,000 surnames in the United States and is based on historical records dating from the 1600s. To research the books, studied more than 5 billion names from U.S. Census data, as well as immigration, birth, marriage, death, military and other historical records, BookSurge noted.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Special research day at Family History Library, Nov 17

If you are in the Salt Lake area on November 17 and are struggling with research on American Indian ancestry, you will have an opportunity to learn from experts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Family History Library, 35 N. West Temple, with free classes, according to an article in the Deseret Morning News. The topics include "Searching for Southwest Indians," "Records at the National Archives" and more. Also that day, the Family History Library is offering an all-day series of classes, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., that can help you research your military ancestry. Additionally on Nov. 17, the Family History Library will sponsor free classes on the new FamilySearch Indexing program, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on any of the classes, go to

Friday, November 9, 2007

MacFamilyTree 5 final release announced

In a press release today, Synium Software announces the full release of MacFamilyTree 5, their popular genealogy application. On October 1st, 2007, MacFamilyTree 5 had entered Public Beta and received a widespread acclaim from users worldwide.

MacFamilyTree 5 is the most advanced genealogy software on the Mac and is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard). Rewritten from the ground up using XCode and Cocoa, MacFamilyTree sports a much faster database engine, and a completely redesigned user interface, marking Version 5.0 as the most significant update in the application's history.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Orphan Trains: The Illinois Apprenticeship Agent

The idea put forth, justifying the shipping the children across the country on so-called Orphan Trains, was for children without family and without means to be placed in the protective care of an adoptive family. Many of the children ended up as indentured laborers in a forced labor situation, in which there was really no escape until they became of age. In her article, "Orphan Trains: The Illinois Apprenticeship Agent," Judy Rosella Edwards give a brief history of the New York Juvenile Asylum and recounts the placement of children "apprenticed" through the organization's Chicago branch, some 4, 557 children.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

National Oprhan Train Complex Now Open

In her article, "National Orphan Train Complex Opens," Melissa Slate says it is estimated that around two million people are descended from an Orphan Train rider, children orphaned for one reason or another who were shipped across the country and to Canada and put up for adoption. The Museum offers resources for those who have . . . or suspect they have . . . orphan train ancestors.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

SMGF partners to expand Central Asia DNA collection

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) and the International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK), in a press release today reported significant progress in their collaborative research partnership to study genetic genealogies, migration and demographic patterns of Kyrgyzstan's various populations.

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked Central Asian country characterized by dramatic, rugged mountain terrain and strong nomadic traditions. Despite a relatively small population (just over 5.2 million in 2006), the country contains a wide variety of ethnic groups, with a large number of primary languages. While approximately 65 percent of the population is comprised of indigenous Kyrgyz residents, more than 13 percent of residents have Uzbek ancestry, and 12.5 percent of residents are of Russian descent - a reminder of the fact that Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1864. The country achieved independence from the then-Soviet Union in 1991.

The Kyrgyzstan project is a major addition to SMGF's Central Asia collections. In September 2007, SMGF partnered with the National University of Mongolia to complete the largest DNA collection in the history of Mongolia. For more information about SMGF's DNA collections throughout the world, visit

Monday, November 5, 2007

Family Tree DNA introduces latest innovations

According to a recent press release, Family Tree DNA, at its 4th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy, announced the launch of the first comparative database for Full Mitochondria Sequences; the introduction of MyMaps, the world’s first personalized interactive genetic mapping system; and the novel “A Walk Through the Y Chromosome” test that allows participants to map genetic relationships through the male-inherited Y Chromosome. These represent bellwether innovations that pair the science of genetic testing and the world of genetic genealogy with the computer technology that makes worldwide networking a family affair. To learn more about Family Tree DNA and its services, or contact or 713-868-1438.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Collecting your family's medical history

Thanks to the U. S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative, launched in 2004, the Thanksgiving holiday season has become a time to take advantage of all that family togetherness and gather as much family medical history as possible. Alan Smith's most recent article, "Medical Family History," keeps us reminded of the importance of collecting a this information and how it can help you identify important health patterns through the generations. So you may wish to begin now, preparing for what you can learn this holiday season.

To aid families, is the new, revised version of the tool, "My Family Health Portrait," a collaboration between the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Human Genome Research Institute. In case you are not familiar, "My Family Health Portrait" provides a place for you to record and story your personal family health information. This is a web-enabled program that runs on any computer that is connected to the Internet and running an up-to-date version of any major Internet browser (Mozilla, Internet Explorer, etc.). The new version of the tool offers numerous advantages over previous versions, which had to be downloaded to the user's computer and was available only to those running the Microsoft Windows operating system. This new version is accessible to all and is free to use.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fourth Annual National Family History Day, Nov 22

This Thanksgiving is the fourth annual National Family History Day, as declared by the U.S. Surgeon General. The American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG), in a press release today, encourages every American to know their family medical history and if they haven't already gathered this potentially life-saving information, to start the conversation about family medical history this Thanksgiving, often the only time when extended family is gathered together.

Why is family health history so important? Knowing your family's medical history can help your health care provider to predict conditions for which you and your blood relatives may be at risk and help you take actions to minimize risks and protect your health. A family health record is among the greatest gifts you can leave your children and grandchildren," said genetic counselor, Judith Benkendorf, MS, CGC, Project Manager at The American College of Medical Genetics.;

You can discuss family health history by starting with questions like, "Are there any health problems that are known to run in our family? If so, what are these conditions, who has/had them and at what age were they diagnosed?" You may also want to talk privately with certain family members about potentially sensitive topics.