Sunday, December 21, 2008

Broken Genealogy Links

I repaired 195 broken links on today. FYI... the changes are captured in a database, and if you search for an old link on Live Roots, it will let you know of the change and direct you to the current address for the resource. There are over 1,000 link change-of-address records currently cataloged.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Matching Genealogy & Geography at Live Roots

The first release of a new method for locating resources at Live Roots was made available today. When you click on geo-coded resources, you will now see that the Region and Location attributes are clickable and allow you to browse other resources for the same geographic area. You may also start with "United States" (other countries will be added) and navigate down to counties, cities, etc. The results listed in this new feature are limited by the quality of information provided to Live Roots. I have begun a review process of all un-coded resources, and am also working with the larger data providers to include more specific geo-coding information in the data feeds they provide. I also cataloged the databases at the Library and Archives Canada, which included a nice collection of city directories.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

German Parish Registers

I cataloged the books available at Family Roots Publishing, which included a series of German Parish Registers. Also, additional surname variations were added to the system. Live Roots was mentioned on Arlene H. Eakle's Genealogy Blog this week.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles, Part 2

If you feel like you have "too many irons in the fire" this Christmas season, you're not alone. But what does it all mean? In her second of two articles, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, Part 2," Jean Wilcox Hibben explores the occupational foundations for some of our everyday expressions, many originating with the town blacksmith.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to Contact Living Relatives

Through various online communities, the Internet has made it possible for family history researchers to connect with other family members in a way that might never have been possible otherwise. The collaborative effort has done much to advance genealogical research and forge new relationships. Even so, many of us have had the experience of being rebuffed in our attempts to make contact, and, given our own enthusiasm, it may be difficult to understand people who do not wish to be contacted or who may not be overly anxious to discuss or share their own research. In her article, "How to Contact Living Relatives," Gena Philibert-Ortega addresses this problem and suggests ways of tactfully and respectfully reaching out to other family members.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Making a Living in New Orleans

In her article, "Making a Living in New Orleans, Judy Rosella Edwards explores business enterprises in the city as early as 1823, by some accounts, second only to New York City. "Many of the business houses bore the name of their owners," a fact that can help family history researchers, in addition to a number of little known sources cited and linked in the article.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A face to scare the devil

I have long been admired beautiful and creative pottery -- this article from Pittsburgh Post, "Artist draws on family history to put unique spin on pottery," sheds light on the fascinating history of "jug art." Akin to quilt and song, the jug art provided expression in society not free to communicate openly.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wreaths Across America journey begins Sunday

The annual Wreaths Across America escort is scheduled to depart Harrington, Maine this Sunday and travel through southern Maine on its way to Arlington National Cemetery, according to an article in Kennebunkport Post.

For 16 years, Morrill Worcester, president of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, has decorated graves at Arlington with wreaths made by volunteers. The project was known locally as the Arlington Wreath Project until 2006, when the project was taken to the national level and called Wreaths Across America. The wreaths will be escorted to Virginia by riders from the Patriot Guard.

From the Wreaths Across America web site:

We invite you to join us in 2008 at any of the wreath-laying ceremonies to be held concurrently on Saturday, December 13th, 2008 at 12:00 noon EST. Click here for a complete list of participating locations.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Genealogy Gifts for the Non-Genealogists

Ah, 'tis the season . . . what to buy for those hard to buy for people. In her article, "Genealogy Gifts for the Non-Genealogist," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers some ideas, at least for those hard to buy for family members. Many of us have family members that are less than excited about our latest research discoveries, but many of those same people love to hear the research "translated" into something meaningful. My son, for example, abhors the idea of researching dead people, but loves to hear the stories -- stories are something he can relate to. In this article, the focus is on creative gift ideas that are meaningful and economical -- a good combination for this year's gift giving.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friends of the Family

Friends often play an important role in our lives, and the friends of our parents, grandparents, and ancestors may show up in their writings, collected letters, and photo boxes. Friends and family often have a shared history that is worth exploring. The article, "Friends of the Family," offers a few suggestions for researching friends and possibly sharing treasured stories.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Partnership brings new features

Announced in a recent press release . . . and just in time for Christmas, The Generations Network, Inc., operators of and other genealogy web sites, has teamed its virtual storytelling service,, with a photo-sharing site,, to provide user tools for creating custom photo books, calendars, and posters., launched a year ago as Ancestry Press but recently rebranded. Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Mountain View, Califormia, operates a photo sharing site.

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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

GenWeekly would like to welcome its newest writer, Jean Wilcox Hibben. Jean has published widely, and we are pleased to have her as part of the GenWeekly staff. In her first GenWeekly article, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch," Jean shares with us the historical origins of some everyday terms we take for granted.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Additional Integration at Live Roots

I added the ability to preview the resources of from within Live Roots. Also, cataloged today were the searchable indexes at NARA, and the newspapers from Genealogy Bank. The Live Roots catalog was updated this evening, many of the broken links were dropped, including pages from's members area that was retired on October 31st.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ancestry Global Search

I finished programming an integrated version of Ancestry's global search. Now you can preview what's available at without leaving Live Roots. Also cataloged today: transcriptions from the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library and indexes at the Utah State Archives.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rural Farm Directories

I have made available over eighty farm directories through the Live Roots Library Collection, for a nominal fee you can hire a live researcher to access the books on your behalf. Also today, I uploaded about sixty postcards of orphanages and other buildings. Last week, I cataloged the available newspapers in the Chronicling America collection.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Orleans Interments

Death and burial rituals may differ dramatically between countries, among cultures, and among religions. New Orleans, because of its location and varied culture, has always had unique and interesting cemeteries and customs. In her article, "New Orleans Interments," Judy Rosella Edwards explores burial practices in New Orleans during the mid-1800s when disease was rampant, and offers ideas and resources for research.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How about YOUR Personal History?

This time of year when we are encouraged to gather our family health history, it's also a good time to think about other aspects of our own personal history. As family history researchers we are so busy recording the histories of our ancestors, we may neglect our own. And you don't have to do it all in one sitting. In her article, "Your Personal History," Gena-Philibert Ortega offers suggestions and resources to help you get started. As the article points out, your descendants will be interested to know your life and times, as much as you are interested to in those of your ancestors.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gather your family health history this holiday season

It's that time of year again. As Thanksgiving approaches, we are reminded that 2008 is the fifth year of the U.S. Surgeon General's Family Health Initiative, aimed at encouraging families to take advantage of holiday gatherings to collect important family health information. In support of this initiative, the U.S. Surgeon General's Office has provided the My Family Health History Portrait tool and web site.

A recent article in The Lincoln Journal, "Five things you should know about your health,"provides a useful list of information to get you started, things we need know for every member of our family, which is also good to keep on hand in the event of emergencies.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's a long, long way to Tipperary . . .

Genealogy research of the future could mean visiting cemeteries far from home. A US funeral business that specializes in launching cremated human remains into Earth's orbit has begun taking reservations for landing small capsules of ashes on the moon, announced the company's founder, as reported in an article on AFP News.

"Celestis' first general public lunar mission could occur as early as 2010 and reservations are now being taken," said Charles M. Chafer, Celestis founder and president, in an email to AFP. "We can send up to 5000 individual capsules to the lunar surface," he said.

The company hopes to install a cemetery on the lunar surface to hold cremated remains of the dead, or a smaller symbolic portion of them, which one day could be visited by relatives of the deceased, said Chafer.

It's a long way to go.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Top UK genealogy software available in US and Canada

Family Historian 3, the highest rated family tree software in the U.K. is now available in the United States and Canada, as announced in a press release today. This top rated software is now available in nearly 1500 Target stores nation-wide. Enteractive Distribution also announces a new web site to provide useful information to consumers and genealogists. Family Historian 3 runs on Windows Vista, XP Home and XP Professional, 2000, ME and 98.

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.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unbreaking Genealogy Links

I spent the majority of the day fixing broken links in the Live Roots catalog, and am pleased to say that just over 400 links were corrected. When I started this project, I knew that dealing with moving (or vanishing) genealogy sites would be one of the greatest challenges. Reducing the number of broken links will certainly be an ongoing initiative. The link changes are actually recorded in the database, so you can use the Live Roots search to locate an updated address, if all you have is the old one. I am aware of the AOL situation, and in an upcoming release of the Live Roots catalog, all AOL links will be removed.

Group offers DNA guidelines

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has asked the question, "How accurate is your family tree," questioning the accuracy of modern DNA testing, as reported in Science Magazine. According to the article, there is a building concern among geneticists and others that the tests performed, both by companies and in academic labs, may not be very accurate, largely because they match samples to "reference" populations of a particular ancestor who may or may not perfectly fit the desired profile. Although not mentioned in the article, one high profile case that comes to mind is that of talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, who stated in 2005 that DNA testing proved her to be of the Zulu tribe. However, research and further testing done as part of Winfrey's participation in the television show, "African American Lives," showed otherwise.

"Even in the best databases that exist today, we know we have only a small sampling of human genetic diversity," says Michael Bamshad, who studies genetic variation at the University of Washington, Seattle.

At its annual meeting, a 10-person ASHG committee released five recommendations that aim to bring more accuracy, oversight, and collaboration to commercial and academic ancestry testing efforts. But it's unclear what effect the recommendations will have.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ships Ahoy!

The entire 10 volume collection at the Immigrant Ship Transcribers Guild was cataloged today. Additional work will be required to organize the ships by ports (arrival/departure). The table of contents for several genealogy magazines will now be cataloged as soon as issues are published. This includes materials from some archived issues. Access to ordering reprints is provided where available. As profiles are created for the writers, the articles will also be linked to them accordingly. Also added this week, a collection of vintage postcards of buildings (including many orphanages) and street scenes. Additional photos of buildings and group photos are in the pipeline.

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to remember not only our own heritage but the heritage . . . and history . . . of a nation. Many events are scheduled during the month, sponsored by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and others. For an historical overview, Wikipedia offers Native Americans in the United States, and for up to date information and resources visit the American Indian Heritage Foundation. Also, check the GenWeekly archive for articles of interest on Native American research.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And off they went . . .

A recent article in the Canadian Press tells of a family of ten brothers from Prince Edward Island, all of whom served in World War II. The story reminded me of the Sullivans, five brothers all serving together aboard the same ship during World War II who lost their lives when their ship went down in the South Pacific. Although the brothers from Prince Edward Island returned home, the war left its mark. Their story is kept alive by a daughter who says of her children and grandchildren, "We talk, they see the pictures." The article, "And off they went . . .," is a retrospective of these two stories.

Researching the veterans in your family tree

This week, in an article on, Kimberly Powell asks the question, "How Much Do You Really Know About the Veterans in Your Family Tree?" The author challenges readers to spend this week researching the many narratives, photos, histories and perspectives that can help fill out that veteran's personal story, and cites a good many resources for doing so. She writes, "Learn the history of any battles in which they fought. Learn what life was like at home for the family members they left behind. But most importantly of all, explore veteran oral histories - a treasure trove of feelings and personal recollections left behind by other men and women who experienced the same wars, battles, struggles and triumphs as your veteran ancestor."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Women Veterans

Contrary to what we might think, women in military service is not a recent phenomena. As far back as the American Revolution and the American Civil War, women have served, if covertly, even in combat. In her article, "Women Veterans," Gena-Philibert Ortega provides an historical overview, along with a number of resources for researching your own female ancestors and learning more about the women who served.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

British WW I naval service records now online

As reported on the UK, "National Archives puts naval WW I service records online," the service records of 40,000 members of the World War One Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) are now accessible online via the The National Archives. The records, previously available only to those visiting The National Archives in Kew, family historians can now trace their WWI naval ancestors through this new online resource.

The records can be found at DocumentsOnline. For more information on tracing your British World War One ancestors, visit the National Archive's Military History pages.

Friday, November 7, 2008

BBC offers WW I family history series

November 11 is Veteran's Day, known also as Armistice Day, a day marking the "symbolic" end of World War One. The signing of the armistice or treaty between the Allies and Germany took place at 11 o'clock in the morning, the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." Although hostilities continued in other regions after the armistice, November 11 has continued as the day to celebrate the end of the war, and has become a day to honor all members of the armed forces.

In anticipation of this anniversary, BBC One is offering "My Family at War", a series combining family history with events of World War I. As reported on Scottish Genealogy News and Events, the program, similar in format to the popular "Who Do You Think You Are," features celebrities discovering their ancestors' roles in the war, ranging from Dan Snow's discovery that a relative was a general who ordered men to their deaths at the Somme, to Kirsty Wark's emotional discovery of a letter written by her great uncle prior to going over the top, The celebrities are ably assisted by top military historian Paul Reed on their quests. Paul regularly writes for Your Family Tree magazine and has also been acting as the series consultant since May.

Not available in the US, the three most recent episodes are available in the UK on the BBC web site, My Family at War, for a limited time, "12 days left to watch," as of Nov 6. Episode Four airs November 14.

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.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box

Today I added an image viewer to Live Roots that you will encounter whenever browsing into the Transcribed Ephemera section and viewing one of the images. This viewer is Javascript-based and will be used for several collections that will be added in the near future. Also this weekend, I added built-in search options for several partner sites. The information from these sites will be integrated into Live Roots where is makes the most sense. Several days ago, I cataloged the transcriptions available at the Students of Southern California website.

Scrapbooking the Family Tree

Every so often we find a new twist on an old favorite. When I was growing up and when raising my own children, scrapbooks were not nearly as organized and themed as they are today. By the time the grandchildren came along, scrapbooking was almost a national hobby with scrapbook stores, scrapbooking classes, and just scrapbooking days spent painstakingly creating pages that were works of art. This practice evolved into elaborate family history scrapbooks, and today digital scrapbooking is where it's at. In his article, "Scrapbooking the Family Tree," Alan Smith takes a look at the hobby of scrapbooking and how it can be used to add a valuable supplement to family history research.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hail to the Chief

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

World's longest family tree

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

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

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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quoth the Raven . . .

On January 16, 2009, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a 42-cent commemorative stamp featuring Edgar Allan Poe, "one of America's most extraordinary poets and fiction writers," to honor the 200th anniversary of his birth. The event will take place in Richmond, Virgina, Poe's childhood home. Poe's stories are those often told this time of year, and with good reason -- the psychological horror in his works are chilling. Poe's stories are often thought to be a reflection of his own life. . . . fact or fiction? One of the most interesting stories about Poe took place after his death, befitting the master of mystery. The article, "Quoth the Raven," provides insight that might cause you to rethink Poe.

New resource for Irish research

A new data strategy to develop an online archive of Irish records has been launched, according to an article on, "Irish family history archive data strategy." An initiative of, the project will involve the uploading of Irish Wills 1536-1857 and the Irish Genealogical Guide as well as Land Records Ireland among other sources. The website's 10 million records will be online by the end of the year and quotes the Irish Genealogical Guide to emphasise the significance of the project:

"Wills being of paramount importance for the study of family and social history… the buildings of the Four Courts, Dublin, were destroyed on the 30th June, 1922… [Which] proved to be a serious set-back to genealogical research, as all the original wills deposited therein at the time were burned."

However, the records had not been lost forever as genealogists had duplicated the records, in a poignant data strategy that reinforces the importance of secure data management.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Can't Get Enough Data, eh?

I added the databases from Kindred Konnections (a.k.a. to the Live Roots Catalog. And for those longer searches, there is now a progress indicator so that you can see that the site is still churning through the catalog to locate resources.

Online research in Canada

For those doing research in Canada, an article published in the Time & Transcript, provides a list of favorite web sites. The author writes, "Each week, I spend hours visiting genealogy-related websites. Many are visited only once, but I've worn an electronic path to the front door of many others. . . . Like many genealogists, my research takes me all over Atlantic Canada, so some websites contain information for specific provinces while others cover the entire country.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Finding Clues through Fraternal Links

In her article, "Finding Clues through Fraternal Links," Melissa Slate reminds us of the many fraternal societies that existed and the opportunities for learning more about our ancestors through their fraternal society associations.

News and Articles added to Live Roots

The collection of articles from, including the subscription-based GenWeekly, have been added to the Live Roots Catalog. In addition, press releases from commercial genealogy companies are now included. The rapidly growing database collection from has been cataloged. The Resource Results now include matching listings from the Genealogy Knowledgebase developed by John Lacombe, Jr. The similar resources section now does a better job matching longer titles that start with common words. Live Roots was mentioned on the Web Site Host Directory blog today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Religion in New Orleans

In her article, "Religion in New Orleans," Judy Rosella Edwards presents an overview of the religions and cultural mix of those arriving in New Orleans and of the many who stayed. Of course, "religion and segregation went hand in hand," in those early days. Jews were at one time banned from Louisiana, yet a strong Jewish presence continued and flourished. Catholic missionaries made significant contributions to the community, including an order of Catholic nuns that provided care and shelter to all. Many churches had their own cemeteries, a great resource for researchers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Different Ways of Getting to the Same Place

I enhanced the Live Roots search to recognize when the keyword(s) you enter are a .com or .org (i.e. domain name) and conduct a web address search if the standard document search yields no results. I also implemented a common misspelling process that will prompt you if the search thinks you misspelled a word (this includes misspellings when you enter in a web address). An interesting collection from the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta was added to the catalog today. There was a post today on the Clinton Public Library blog about Live Roots.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

To Catch a Thief

Many researchers joke about finding a horse thief in their family tree. How about a horse thief detective? An interesting "society" was formed in the United States during its formative years and into the twentieth century that has left a body of records sure to be of interest to genealogists. The article, "To Catch a Thief," tells the story and provides a few tips and hints for tracking down the records.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Filling the gaps, one at a time

A bunch of website links and transcriptions were added today. Live roots was mentioned by M. Diane Rogers on here Canada Genealogy blog, and on the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog by Genealogy Blogger (a.k.a. Lorine McGinnis Schulze).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creating a Genealogy Web

I updated the database today. This version has fewer duplicate web addresses as I've improved the matching logic and a filter that weeds out inappropriate links (yes, some people have nothing better to do that submit viagra links to a genealogy site). This version also introduces more internal linking between resources. For example, take a look at the Wilmer Atkinson Company, a publisher of rural farm directories. The Live Roots system is now linking together resources with the same publisher, which gives you another view into common information, particularly useful when the titles vary significantly. I've also included a web address change process, so if you are aware of a page that has been relocated, you can update the database and help other visitors.

New Orleans: Healthy Life in a New World

In her article, "New Orleans: Healthy Life in a New World," Judy Rosella Edwards provides an overview of perils of disease and loss of life faced by emigrants crossing the sea bound for New Orleans, perils faced emigrants bound for any port. The article reports, "It was not until the latter part of the 1800s that ships were required to have a physician on board. Sickness on the larger, more crowded boats could quickly become and epidemic -- and did."

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.

Family Reunions -- thoughts on planning

Family reunions don't always turn out as one has pictured, and we learn through trial and error. It sometimes takes a little ingenuity and pre-planning to engage all family members. In his latest article, "Family Reunions," Alan Smith shares his retrospective and some ideas for including more family members in the genealogy experience.

The Walking Pioneers

In her article, "The Walking Pioneers," Judy Rosella Edwards differentiates some of the various groups that crossed the plains to Utah and reminds us of limits placed on those joining the handcart companies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sit Back and Relax? Never!

Another batch of icons came in from our designer today, and they were uploaded to the site. I updated the Subscription Data help page to clarify what the special offer covers. An exciting new feature will be released next week! And Kim Powell mentioned Live Roots on her blog today.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Even Smoother

I made some minor changes today, including making the pages printer-friendly, adding a navigation section on the bottom of page called "Getting Around Live Roots" and more tips to the Search page. Live Roots was mentioned on Dick Eastman's blog today.

DAR chapter encourages children to value heritage

According to an article on, "Local DAR chapter promotes education for democracy," members of the Indiana-based, Joseph Galloway-Nathaniel Prentice Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) have the right idea for helping kids appreciate their heritage. As part of their opening session, August 16, Regent Cathy Maxon reported on her Kid City activity, highlighting how she engaged local children in learning to value their family history. As one member noted, even children who’ve experienced divorce and remarriage can find a greater sense of identity through their own process of genealogy research. Besides encouraging family story-telling and DAR membership, the local chapter hopes to encourage education.

DAR member Elizabeth Greer of Rocky Mount, Va., recently lamented over the lack of basic knowledge of geography and history evident in today’s children and adults. She had conducted a “pop quiz” with over 200 people, aged 18 to 40. Only two individuals could accurately locate all the following cities on a map: Washington D.C., Richmond, Va., New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago. They couldn’t even find the Mississippi River. Seventeen out of 20 didn’t know who John F. Kennedy was. The schools and the culture have let them down, she said.

“Patriotism requires knowledge of history, people, places and events,” Greer added. The Galloway-Prentice chapter hopes to develop educational programs similar to the Kid City project for use in area schools, libraries, scouting and church groups. It's a program worth emulating.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Getting Closer

The index fix completed this evening, and is now live on the site. Document results should now be alphabetically sorted. Additional catalogs are being added this evening, including Dae Powell selected Live Roots as his Tip O' the Dae for 11-Oct-2008.

Tribute paid to first Ellis Island immigrant

A recent article in the Daily News reports the "overdue salute" to an Irish woman who was the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island. The Queens grave site of Annie Moore has been marked with an Irish blue limestone Celtic cross. As a 17-year-old from County Cork, Ireland, Moore was given $10 in gold when she passed through Ellis Island on Jan. 1, 1892, the article said. Historians long believed that the mother of at least 10 moved West and settled in Texas, but a dedicated genealogist debunked the myth while researching a documentary. In 2006, Moore was found in an unmarked grave in the cemetery, buried with six of her children.

"She stands for the countless hundreds of thousands of Irish people who crossed the Atlantic and settled here in New York," said Niall Burgess, Irish consul general. Ellis Island was the gateway to America for more than 12 million immigrants. As many as 5,000 people a day passed through the processing center at its peak in the early 1900s.

Tennessee death indexes online

An article in the Genealogy column on reports the death records for the state of Tennessee are now available online in three separate indexes. The information can be used to order original documents. Tennessee began recording death records in 1908. Here are links to those sites offering the indexes: Tennessee State Archives and Library, Index to Tennessee Death Records 1908-1912; Tennessee State Archives and Library, Statewide Index to Tennessee Death Records 1914 - 1926; Memphis Public Library History and Genealogy Index -- this index allows the visitor to search Memphis/Shelby County deaths (1848-1945) from the Memphis Death Register books and yellow fever deaths recorded during an epidemic in 1878. Also included in the database are the Freedmen's Bureau marriage index of 1863-4.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Time to Leave the Nest

Well, launch day finally arrived. The fix for the index issue is still running, hopefully this will finish by Saturday morning. Randy Seaver blogged about Live Roots on his Genea-Musings. The catalog of Family Tree Legends is being loaded into Live Roots.

Live Roots Launched Today!

I've been very actively involved in online genealogy since 1985. I've seen how the practice of genealogy research has radically evolved in a relatively short period of time. At the same time, I've seen how the rapid changes spurned by the widespread adoption of the Internet have made the pursuit of family history more challenging than ever. It has become almost effortless to locate vast amounts of information. Yet, a tremendous effort is required to determine if any of this information is truly relevant to the research in question.

It was just about a year ago when, during a conversation with a peer, I began to realize that this problem is becoming even more of an issue with the entrance of additional data providers (e.g. into the genealogy market. That's when I conceived the idea of Live Roots. What if there was one place you could go to see not only what's new, but what's being called new, but really isn't. Everyone's genealogy budget is tight, so doesn't it make sense to be diligent about your spending and make sure that if you're going to subscribe to another genealogy site that the resources it has aren't already on sites that you are a subscriber (or even worse: available from a free service).

I'm realistic, however, and realize that there's no way to launch a web site with these lofty objectives addressed from the onset. It will take months (possibly even years) to carefully review each item in the catalog to determine the source. And in some cases it will require the cooperation of the data provider to answer my inquiry for source details when they aren't clearly listed on their site.

Please do not expect Live Roots to have all the answers -- it's just not possible to achieve 100% coverage of an industry that continues to grow at a remarkable pace. While many genealogy sites boast about the large numbers of links they've captured, I plan to devote an equal amount of (or perhaps even more) time towards reviewing the quality of the resources cataloged.

Live Roots Meta Search Website

I'm a genealogy-junkie and have always tried to stay informed about new resources; but with so many outlets publishing new information, and no single place to search across different catalogs, it's not easy. That's what led to the concept of Live Roots -- a new website designed to help researchers locate genealogical data -- both online and offline, and either digitized or in-print. I'm partnering with major genealogy companies and many medium and smaller publishers to combine their respective catalogs into one repository.

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. This "live" part of the Live Roots concept lets your research continue even when the publication isn't available online. There's nothing more frustrating than finding a resource that could hold the missing link in your tree, and then discovering that there aren't any places online to access it.

The initial version of Live Roots was released today. Upcoming versions will expand the amount of information integrated into the catalog, add additional "live" partnerships and implement direct links with several online web sites; bringing seamless access to even more books and data.

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

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ready, Set, Go!

I added a % match feature to the search results, and now allow paging through all results (if you have cookies enabled). I've begun compiling frequently asked questions, and will continue doing so on an ongoing basis. There is a problem with the sort order in the Document Results. A fix is running now and should complete by Saturday.

Producer to revive "This Is Your Life" TV show

This item may be of interest to those old enough to remember, "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett is developing a remake of the classic TV show "This Is Your Life." The show, which surprises celebrity guests with people from their past, launched as a radio program in 1948. It aired as a TV series on NBC from 1952-61, and then had a brief revival in 1972. ABC developed a remake in 2005, but the project, to be hosted by Regis Philbin, never made it to air.

"'This Is Your Life' is one of the most enduring programs to air on television, and we are thrilled to be bringing it back with the top producer of unscripted entertainment," said Barbara Dunn-Leonard, president of Ralph Edwards Prods., which owns the rights to the format.

Broadcasters have shown recent interest in biographical reality shows. Fox's dark-side effort "The Moment of Truth," NBC's "Amnesia" and ABC's "Opportunity Knocks" are game shows in which contestants are quizzed about elements of their own lives. NBC and Fox also are developing genealogy reality shows, where researchers discover secrets about participants' ancestral history.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Home Stretch

I made some improvements to the search engine... it now attempts to automatically include surname alternate results (like "Mac Donald" if you search for "MacDonald") and the document search will revert to a simple title search if your query includes too many common words. There is now a discounted package bundle for all of the databases accessed under the Subscription Data heading.

George Washington, the man who would "not" be king . . .

According to an article reported on The Epoch Times, the would-be heir to the throne of the United States has been researched and reported by Although George Washington, America's revered first president, was offered kingship but refused, the "what if" question was explored. As George Washington had no children, the crown would have passed to one of his brothers’ sons. genealogists determined that since President Washington had an older half brother and a younger full brother, ultimately there were four possible succession paths, the article said. The site researched the descendants through each of these possibilities, which meant approximately 8,000 people could factor into the succession equation, with less than 200 of them bearing the Washington surname. As a result, according to the report, the "hypothetical heir" was reported to be Mr. Paul Emery Washington, an 82-year-old retiree living in San Antonio, Texas, who is a descendent of first president George Washington. Said the article, "Given a small twist of fate, Americans could be bowing down to the Washington bloodline today."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More, More, More

Today I added more links from a variety of sources, including Family History Online and Blacksheep Ancestors. I received an additional feed from that listed the free databases on their site, and I updated the Live Roots entries accordingly. The free databases on are already marked properly. The advanced search forms for name searching were completed -- you may now narrow your search by first name, year and/or location.

Voter registration may fill in census gaps

Kimberly Powell's Genealogy Blog on asks the question, "Did my ancestors vote?" In researching the question Powell examines the value of voting records and suggests some useful online resources.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Constant Polishing

The to-do list during the final days of any project seems to grow rather than shrink. I've been polishing up many of the features, adding help text where needed. Many thanks to those who have been previewing the site and giving me there feedback. Most (if not all) of the suggestions have been implemented.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Reaching Out

Today I added the ability to preview the recent titles from a variety of blogs right from within Live Roots. You may now also subscribe to the major genealogy magazines directly through the site. On Friday, I added the icon legend feature, and optimized the icon images to reduce their download time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Expanding the Web

I received the monthly catalog update from Genealogical Publishing Company and it has been added to the catalog. Also, the entire NARA microfilm collection has been included, and cross-referenced with databases from Ancestry and Footnote. There is now a different icon for CD-Rom based products (previously they were displayed with a book icon), and the new resource submission process has been completed.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wonder Roots

Most of the day was spent cleaning up loose ends. A feed of recently published books listed on was added to the catalog. Additional FHL microfilm resources were loaded. Added "Getting Your Resources Included in Live Roots" for data providers.

Multimedia support for Pocket Genealogist v. 3.30

In a press release out today, Northern Hills Software announced the release of Pocket Genealogist 3.30 with support for multimedia transfers to the device. As with all Version 3 releases, this is a free update for all those who have already purchased Version 3. The biggest change in this release is the ability to transfer photos and images to the handheld device for viewing along with other family history data. This feature does require the ‘Advanced’ version of Pocket Genealogist, and media objects are ‘view only.’ Pocket Genealogist, the award winning product of Northern Hills Software LLC, is the leader in genealogy software for Windows Mobile Smartphones and Pocket PCs. For the complete list of the other 15 changes visit the version change log on Northern Hills Software web site.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roots Without Limits

As I continue to develop the features of Live Roots (a process that will continue well beyond the initial launch), I'm learning new techniques that are also being applied to some of my existing sites, resulting in better performance for the server. Also today, I added an RSS feed for the Discover feature of the site for those visitors that wish to be kept up-to-date with the latest finds.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Site Changes

I implemented some changes that were suggested during the preview: (1) items which involve fees now have a "($)" listed after their link; (2) in the search box, if you enclose a phrase in double quotes, the site will perform a title search, (3) the first batch of FHL microfilm resources were loaded into the catalog, and (4) links to the NEGHS transcriptions have been corrected to point to their new locations. The site was mentioned on the Family History Tracing blog today.

The Arts in New Orleans

Continuing her series on New Orleans, in "The Arts in New Orleans," Judy Rosella Edwards reminds us of the great traditions in entertainment that take their roots from New Orleans and its diverse population. The article sheds light on researching ancestors who may have been among the many performers who came and went in New Orleans.

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.

Beyond the Index

indexes are invaluable tools for accessing original information; however, they are subject to error and can be deceiving. In the article, "Beyond the Index," the issue of transcriber error is discussed, along with some ideas for getting around the sometimes strange convolutions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Livening up the Roots

Today my focus was on the "live" aspect of the project, adding a more detailed explanation of the "Ask a Live Person" process. Throughout the day additional genealogists were invited to preview the site. Oh, and the Genealogy Insider mentioned the project this morning.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What is Live Roots?

The first day of testing went well, and some of the observations led me to make alterations on the site and add a better explanation of how to best use the services. It took me several hours to really focus in on the practical benefits, but was time well spent.

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.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Let's kick the Tires (a little)!

While I've pitched the Live Roots concept to many of my genealogy friends over the past year, allowing them play with it for the first time will provide me with much better feedback. Today, I cleaned up a few items and invited the first batch of testers to kick off an alpha test phase while I finish programming some of the minor features.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Countdown to Launch Date!

With a self-imposed objective of launching Live Roots by October 10th, there are just twenty days left for putting finishing touches on the site. This blog will serve to announce updates (both content and programming) made to the site before and after the launch.

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.

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.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Ethnicity of New Orleans Immigrants

Immigrants arriving at the Port of New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century defy stereotype, suggests Judy Rosella Edwards in her article, "The Ethnicity of New Orleans Immigrants." While the Acadian and Creole populations may be most commonly associated with Louisiana, many others passed through the city gates, some stayed, others were on their way elsewhere. "There was clearly a Jewish presence prior to the mid-1800s," and many others. The article highlights a number of useful resources for researching the diverse groups entering this important southern gateway.

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"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Highlights for September 14th, 2008

Schools for blind/deaf/mute often contain very interesting information. The Clarke Inst. for Deaf-Mutes 1881 Report not only includes the names of the students, but also the reason for their deafness.

Two reports for the Fire Department of the District of Columbia (1905 Report and 1908 Report) include rosters and casualty & injury reports for the year.

Here are two more newsletters from the Metropolitan Life company: The Metropolitan, Volume XIX, No. 11 and The Metropolitan, Volume XX, No. 1 (partial).

These are just some of the 21 resources published today. Every week I send out a complete listing of the items added. If you'd like to join this RootsWeb mailing list called GenToday-L, click here for instructions.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On the go with MobileFamilyTree 1.2

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

Migration Patterns Reflected by Township Government

We've all seen the "Twp" designation in census records, referring to a local township, and unless you are familiar with townships, you may assume a township to be a small, early American community akin to a village. In fact, the subject of townships is a little more complex, sometimes controversial, and even telling when it comes to understanding when and where townships were organized and by whom. In her article, "Migration Patterns Reflected by Township Government," Judy Rosella Edwards focuses on this latter aspect, the genealogical value of township research, clarifying the term and its dual meaning along the way. A study of early townships may be one way to trace your ancestors back in time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Memoirs Versus Written Family History

Summer is the time for getting out and doing research, visiting family, taking a trip, visiting a local library, cemetery, or courthouse. As fall sets in, followed by a long winter, it's a good time to reflect and get started on your family history. In his article, "Memoirs Versus Written History," Alan Smith lends encouragement and addresses some of the questions. Just one step at a time, and come spring, you efforts could produce into a solid piece of work to share with others.

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).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 announces new genetics partnership

In a recent press release, announced its partnership with 23andMe, a personal genetics service. According to the report, the 23andMe Personal Genome Service(TM) provides "unprecedented," individual access to genetic information, including deep ancestry analysis developed by the 23andMe science team. Users of the DNA service will now have access to the same ancestral content available through the 23andMe website, designed to give people a deeper understanding of their past.

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.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Highlights for September 7th, 2008

There are no updates this week as I am traveling for the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Philadelphia.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Colonial social custom and how to impress the guests

Always of interest is the life and times of our ancestors -- little insights into everyday living that help us see them as real people with intentions, motivations, and sensitivities no different than our own. In her article, "The Pineapple as a Symbol of Colonial Prosperity," Melissa Slate reveals how the "exotic" pineapple figured in the social life of Colonial America and it's potential to impress. What today, I wonder, would be the pineapple's equivalent, probably nothing quite as simple.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Family Footsteps, Austrailian TV series

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the History Channel's The Ties That Bind was a program offering that took Australians to the countries of their family origin. More recently, the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are aired here in its British and local incarnations, both equally compelling. The documentary series, Family Footsteps, the article says, is a "simpler, rougher-hewn exploration of identity in which the subjects undertake a similar journey of self-discovery." In the recently aired September 3 program, Perth's Andrew Paul visited Uganda, a country his family fled in 1971.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

DNA Refresher, Part 2

In this second article, "Genetic Genealogy and Family Tree Research, Part 2," Teresa Hilburn completes her discussion on the use of DNA testing in genealogy, and discusses the National Geographic Worldwide Genographic DNA Project, and her own experiences with DNA testing. While it may not answer all research questions, modern DNA research is fascinating.

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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Highlights for August 31st, 2008

A few months ago I picked up a small stack of newsletters for the Met Life company, each listing claims paid for certain states. Here's the first one: The Metropolitan, Volume XIX, No. 8 -- covering Illinois and Iowa.

More black sheep: New Hampshire State Prison 1860 Report

These are just some of the 17 resources published today. Every week I send out a complete listing of the items added. If you'd like to join this RootsWeb mailing list called GenToday-L, click here for instructions.

Friday, August 29, 2008

New book sheds light on the Scottish settlement of Ulster

As recently reported on, "Book tracks Scottish roots of Ulster Plantation settlers," David Dobson's book, Scotland During the Plantation of Ulster, is designed to assist family historians researching their origins in Dumfries and Galloway during the 17th century. Since only three of 86 parish registers of the Church of Scotland prior to 1685 survive for this area, Dobson’s researches attempt to fill the void as best as possible. The volume is based, overwhelmingly, on primary sources in the National Archives of Scotland and Edinburgh, and is fully referenced.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNA Refresher, Part 1

For those not entirely familiar with the details of DNA testing relative to family history research or those interested in a refresher, Teresa Hilburn's article, "Genetic Genealogy & Family Tree Research, Part 1," aims at providing the basics in simple terms. The article identifies the purposes of the two types of DNA tests available, who qualifies for each type testing, and why. The article also makes clear that DNA testing is a non-invasive procedure, explores the cost, and gives tips on selecting a DNA testing company.

MacFamilyTree Update Includes Improved Chart Editing

As reported in PC World, "MacFamilyTree Update Includes Improved Chart Editing," Genealogy application MacFamilyTree has been updated to version 5.2.5, improving on several of the features in the application. Among the changes in the new version are some fixes for MobileFamilyTree export. MobileFamilyTree is the company's mobile genealogy for your iPhone or iPod touch. The update also includes fixes for the Virtual Tree, improved PDF export, the ability to generate kekule numbers directly from the ancestor or descendant chart, and improved chart editing.
The update is available from the company's Web site. For new users MacFamilyTree costs $49.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Photos as documentation? Maybe not . . .

We've all had the urge, no doubt, at some point, to completely erase a chapter of our lives or make a few tidy changes to the past. We now have that power, it seems, but at what cost? The article, "Photoshop vs. history," on discusses the practice altering photos using modern image-editing software and thereby altering history. Is it revisionist history or something more? Revisionist history is the revision of history based on new information or the reinterpretation of existing information. Given the types of manipulations, the question becomes, what can you trust? As the article suggests it's "just a tad scary -- to contemplate the possibility that many of the tangible artifacts our civilization leaves behind may prove to be, well, lies."

Resources examine 1918 Flu

Today's article, "The Influenza Epidemic of 1918," on, Kimberly's Genealogy Blog provides some interesting additional sources for those researching ancestors during the 1917-1918 time period, including the Influenza Digital Archive out of the University of Michigan's Center for the History of Medicine and the Pandemic Influenza Storybook, among others. As noted in the article, "Most are aware that WWI had a devastating impact on our ancestral history, claiming an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic of 1918, however, killed an estimated 50 million people, nearly a fifth of the world's population. Yet, it is rarely afforded more than a footnote in the historical accounts of the time.

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.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Local area news can inform your genealogy

If you have early Michigan ancestry, you might be interested in the Detroit Free Press article, "This week in Michigan history: Cholera epidemic ravages Detroit." On Aug. 24, 1834, a second wave of the cholera epidemic struck Detroit, the article reports. Hundreds of Detroiters are believed to have died in August and September 1834 of cholera, which results from a bacterial infection of the intestine and can cause acute diarrhea, shock and severe dehydration in a short time. . . . City officials typically rang a bell when someone died. The custom was discontinued when the ringing became so frequent that it caused panic. The cholera epidemic, which first appeared in 1832, returned to Detroit several times from 1849 to 1865.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

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.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Added Value of Delayed Birth Certficates

Vital records are important sources of information, and one type of vital record may be particular interest, as discussed by Gena Philibert-Ortega in her article, "Delayed Birth Certificates." A delayed birth certificate is proof of birth available to those who birth, for whatever reason, was not registered at the time of the event, most commonly those who were born before civil (government) registration of births became mandatory. In applying for a delayed birth certificate various documents and affidavits had to be presented as proof. It is these accompanying documents and affidavits that give delayed birth certificates their added value.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

National Archives at Kew puts Indian Army medal index cards online

In a recent the press release, The National Archives at Kew (UK) announced the public can now search online and download the medal index cards of more than 20,000 soldiers who served in the Indian Army during World War One. The cards record the soldiers who were entitled to, or made a claim for, campaign medals - in particular the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Many soldiers were also awarded one or more clasps to go with the British War Medal, and this is also recorded on the cards. The Indian Army medal index cards can be found in the record series WO 372, within pieces WO 372/25 to WO 372/29. Unlike the other medal index cards, which have been scanned six per page, you will only receive one medal card per download.

For the first time you can now search and download service records of officers who served in the Royal Navy. These records were kept by the Admiralty from the 1840s and record service for warrant officers joining the Royal Navy up to 1931 and commissioned officers joining the service up to 1917, including King George VI.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In her continuing series on New Orleans, Judy Rosella Edwards presents "New Orleans Immigrant Origins," suggesting resources and providing insight into the ethnic origins of those arriving at the Port of New Orleans in the mid- to late-1800s. It was interesting to note that a research group interested in German immigration had transcribed complete passenger lists of vessels carrying German passengers, even if only one passenger on board was German. A boon for other researchers, as well. Although not everyone who passed through New Orleans remained, it was an important point of immigration.

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.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Highlights for August 17th, 2008

A very interesting resource for Nevada: Storey County 1916 Tax List -- listing all taxpayers for the county.

Here's the second copy of that newsletter I mentioned: Brotherhood Accident Company, Vol. XI, No. 3 -- claims paid for various cities across the country.

These are just some of the 13 resources published today. Every week I send out a complete listing of the items added. If you'd like to join this RootsWeb mailing list called GenToday-L, click here for instructions.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Ratings Gold" -- "Who Do You Think You Are" returns

With all the press over actress Patsy Kensit's meltdown on the BBC series "Who Do You Do You Think You Are," its return to the air this season is old news. But it was all good news for the BBC. As reported in an article on Digital Spy, the show's return was "ratings gold" for the BBC with a 29.9% ratings, up from 29.5% the previous year. The show is now in its fifth season and has reportedly been renewed for yet another year.

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.

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.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Highlights for August 11th, 2008

Here's some additional insurance claim information: Masons Fraternal Accident Assoc. 1897 Claims -- all losses and claims paid for the year.

More church member lists: Millheim Evangelical Church 1927-28, Vine Street Methodist Protestant Church 1913 (Indiana), Syracuse Plymouth Congregational Church 1872 (New York), Ogden Presbyterian Church 1866 (New York), and St. Louis First Presbyterian Church 1861 (Missouri).

These are just some of the 8 resources published today. Every week I send out a complete listing of the items added. If you'd like to join this RootsWeb mailing list called GenToday-L, click here for instructions.

The value of patterns in genealogy research

As noted in her article, "Mustering Up the Courage to Delve into Military Rosters," Judy Rosella Edwards suggests an otherwise dry list of facts and/or names can become interesting when you begin to observe patterns and the inklings of story beneath the surface. Perhaps examining these lists in reference to your own ancestors and others who served with them may tell you more than you might have imagined, about the unit, the politics, or even the person.

Friday, August 8, 2008

State Library of Pennsylvania Genealogy Day, Sep 20

The State Library of Pennsylvania will celebrate its second annual Genealogy Day on Saturday, Sept. 20, with exhibits and information sessions. The State Library is located in the Forum Building, Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street, in Harrisburg. For more information, contact Marc Bender at the State Library, (717) 705-6272 or To learn more about Pennsylvania libraries, please visit the Department of Education Web site at

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Early Colonial Life

It's hard for us to imagine today what life was like in Colonial or pioneer times, when people set out with their families into the wilderness to establish homes and make a life. It's hard to imagine the forces prompting people to endure such hardships and harder still to believe that any survived. In her article, "Early Colonial Life," Melissa Slate once again provides some insight into that early life. What might surprise you is the role that taverns played in the community.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sharing your genealogy through publishing

One of the most important aspects of genealogy is sharing your work with others, which is also one of the best ways of connecting with others and adding new information. In her article, "Is It Time To Publish My Family Tree," Teresa Hilburn offers some suggestions and encouragement for those considering taking that next step.