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.