Friday, July 31, 2009

The Bachelor, the Spinster, and the Childless

While many of us do try to record the birth, marriage, and death dates of collateral line ancestors, we may not always go to the time and expense of documenting the information, especially for those ancestors who never married or never had children. We may think such family members have little to tell us . . . but, think again, suggests Cindy Drage in her article, "The Bachelor, the Spinster, and the Childless." It may be they knew more than anyone else -- those familiar with "Arsenic and Old Lace," might agree. 

Getting Past the Native Ancestry Block: Can DNA Testing Break Through the Wall?

Proving native ancestry in North America is more than a little challenging, for a great many reasons. Today, DNA testing can help address some of the questions, but not as completely as one might hope. In her article, "Getting Past the Native Ancestry Block: Can DNA Testing Break Through the Wall?," Rita Marshall explores the various DNA tests, what they can and cannot tell us about our native ancestry, and how to proceed with what we learn.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Newspapers for Genealogy Research and Not Logic

The entire newspaper collection from has been cataloged into Live Roots, which added close to 4,000 new resources -- all with locations so they appear properly in the Navigate feature. In addition, I recently added "not" logic to the main Live Roots search. To negate a word in your query, place an exclamation point before the word (no space). For example, "johnson !county" would mean "show me all listings containing the word JOHNSON but NOT containing the word COUNTY." Keep in mind, the search is only as good as the listings in the catalog, so if a listing is about Johnson County, but doesn't include the word "county" in the listing, it will still appear.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Free Books for Genealogists

I posted the latest catalog update from the BYU Family History Archives project, about another 1,000 books. This is a wonderful project, similar to Google Books, but focused on resources of interest to genealogists. Also, posted yesterday, an update from, Teri Brown's growing collection of searchable group photos.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Why Splinter Genealogists Away from their Cousins

This week the folks at FamilyLink, in an attempt to generate another revenue stream, invited genealogists to join a Ning network site named, and in fact, offerred to pimp (oh, sorry, pay) some of them to make the new site look "lived in" with content prior to an official launch later this month.

I have no issue with Ning networks, and in fact manage two myself. The concept of creating your own themed social network is wonderful, and might be something Facebook should consider offering.

Where I think the GenealogyWise concept is a bit misguided in trying to splinter genealogists away from Facebook for the purpose of making it look like the "official" genealogy social network. This will undoubtedly help them attract non-facebook genealogists to the site, which they will need to do in order to generate revenue.

Rather than try to pry genealogists away from Facebook to connect with non-Facebook genealogists, why not come up with a slick way to draw more non-Facebook genealogists into Facebook? Oh, right, if they did that, how would they make money off of the reputations of hard-working professional genealogists and bloggers?

Where GenealogyWise cannot compete with Facebook, is in connecting genealogists with cousins that have (or have had) no interest in genealogy. I have no interest in abandoning Facebook (as some genealogists on Facebook have suggested) and the relatives that I've been able to connect with. I've seen comments from some genealogists new to Facebook to the effect that "they don't understand what Facebook is all about." Well, it's a phenomenal tool for connecting with distant cousins that you may not otherwise have been able to locate.

Sure, the Ning functionality is cool (like I said, I run two Ning networks myself), but something about GenealogyWise makes me feel uneasy. It just doesn't seem right that a for-profit genealogy company should be fueling a social network that should be independent and neutral (as Facebook is). Will the folks from or be joining GenealogyWise and contributing? Or will they remain on Facebook? I value my interactions with them.

And why not own up to it? Why doesn't the masthead banner say something like "A FamilyLink Service"? Do the 1,400 members realize that this site is operated by FamilyLink who will profit from their use of GenealogyWise through advertising? How come when flipped to (and added advertising), many genealogists chose to abandon the site, and yet "we" seem to have no problem with GenealogyWise doing the same thing?

Yes, I joined GenealogyWise and intend to stay involved, but I'd rather see the site turned into a neutral, not-for-profit network so everyone can participate. At a minimum, FamilyLink should step up to the plate and clearly disclose that they are the company behind GenealogyWise (just as Ancestry does on the RootsWeb home page).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What is Paleography?

As most researchers are aware, the task of reading and interpreting the handwriting and language of a bygone era is often quite challenging, and can sometimes be downright painful. There are those, however, who make it a regular practice, either for fun or as a career. In her article, "What is Paleography?," Melissa Slate gives a basic overview of the "art" of paleography and some of its uses.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Words of War, Part 3

In the continuing series on everyday words and phrases originating during war time, the American Civil War takes center stage, as Jean Hibben presents, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Words of War, Part 3. And who can reference the American Civil War without acknowledging Abraham Lincoln? Although Lincoln may have borrowed rather than coined the phrase, the concept (and potentially damaging consequences) of "swapping horses midstream" is accredited to him. This along with several other familiar words and phrases can be traced back to that same time period. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beyond the Paper Trail: Discovering Family History with Different DNA Tests

Molecular genealogy, the study of DNA to help genealogical research, has made big strides over the last few years, but some answers are still out of science's reach. Learn what you can and can't learn from the different genetic tests, and which ones may be right for you. In this her first article, "Beyond the Paper Trail: Discovering Family History with Different DNA Tests," Rita Marshall queries experts in the field and brings us up to date on this exciting and promising new branch of genealogical research.