Saturday, January 31, 2009

Personal Blogs as Historical Documents

Today's blogs represent modern day journals, and as such should be preserved. The article, "Personal Blogs as Historical Documents," explores the personal nature of today's blogs and the importance of backing them up . . . offline.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Live Roots on Second Life

An interesting article written last year by Paul Mason, "Searching for the Soul of Cyberspace," compared the experience of genealogists researching their ancestors and times past to those fascinated with virtual reality. Both experiences, although "virtual" as opposed to "actual," evoke similar emotions and personal investment. Well, it appears, those two worlds are now combined. In an article released yesterday, "Live Roots on Second Life," announced Live Roots, a new site launched by GenWeekly publisher Genealogy Today, has come to Second Life (SL), perhaps the premier virtual reality world.

Exactly what is Second Life? Second Life is an Internet-based 3-D virtual world created by is Residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of Residents from around the globe. Now genealogists are flocking to SL for an alternate way to research their family history.

Live Roots on Second Life is a new area created to assist SL researchers, much in the way the RL versions does. In the Live Roots on Second Life area, you can easily locate all of the available SL genealogy (related) areas, and get information about a variety of database companies in the upcoming exhibitor area.

Popular RL blogger/chat host/author/speaker, DearMYRTLE, has coordinated some of the genealogy efforts at Second Life, and helps maintain a calendar of the voice chats. She also recently launched a new blog called Teach Genealogy, where she chronicles the progress of the Union of Genealogy Groups (UGG) genealogy voice chats in Second Life, which she considers R&D to see what folks are learning about on and offline research. For details on joining the Second Life service, be sure to read her post, "Get a SECOND LIFE, genealogists".

Future enhancements to the Live Roots on Second Life area will include being able to preview available results for a specific surname (or full name) you are researching on a variety of database sites.

To learn more about Second Life, visit. To see the Sytem Requirements, go to
Already a Second Life member? Jump to the Live Roots on Second Life area.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Orleans: Destination or Stopover

In her article, "New Orleans: Destination or Stopover" Judy Rosella Edwards provides insight into the where passengers arriving at the Port of New Orleans might have been headed, and shows how passenger lists evolved over time in their level of detail. The article also indicates a German settlement near New Orleans, an area that remains today.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Genealogists can now navigate Live Roots geographically

I released a new feature on that allows you to navigate around the globe and see what genealogy resources are available. The process of geocoding the cataloged resources is still in progress (currently about 85% complete). All new resources are being geocoded as they are added, and will automatically appear on the navigate feature pages. To accommodate this new feature, I modified the top menu bar options (refer to the About option for an explanation what each of the other options offer). Also, today I merged the Transcribed Ephemera results into the Surname Results, reducing the time it takes for a search, and the number of clicks it will take to view all the results.

Friday, January 23, 2009 demonstration RESCHEDULED for February 24, 2009

I'll be giving a Live Roots presentation on Tuesday, February 24th to the Bernards Township (NJ) Library’s Family History Interest Group (FHIG) at 7:00 pm. If you live in the area, and are interested in genealogy, please feel free to stop by and join us. For additional details, check out these newspaper articles covering the event: "New genealogy Web search tool topic of meeting" (Courier News) and "Family history interest group will meet Jan. 27 at library" (Bernardsville News).

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: All the World's a Stage

In her latest article, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: All the World's a Stage," Jean Hibbens goes behind the scenes to explore the language of the theater. What does it really mean to be "in the limelight" or to "ham" it up on stage? You may be surprised to find some of the most unlikely terms having their origins in the theater.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Good Is Genealogy?

In her article, "What Good Is Genealogy?," author Judy Rosella Edwards writes, "This is a common question. My answer is that it gives us a chance to correct the past, where necessary, and create a better future." That answer is at the heart of a movement that has grown out of one New England family's search into their own genealogy, as documented in the PBS movie "Traces of the Trade."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The National Road, Gateway to Ohio

The National Road served as one of the primary migration routes for thousands of settlers migrating west in early history the United States; it also represents one of first improved highways in the U.S., built by the Federal Government. In his article, "The National Road, Gateway to Ohio," Alan Smith reflects, "Genealogists can appreciate the date coincidence in many family migrations with the building of roads, railways, and canals. Suddenly we find entire families moving by leaps and bounds across America, instead of a few counties."

A Genealogy Flurry of Activity

Updates came in this week from Footnote, GenealogyBank, GPC and others. Today, I cataloged the FamilySearch projects available on their "Labs" web site. I also recently cataloged the Missouri History Museum Genealogy Index collection of 300+ documents. Every day I'm geocoding more links, making it easier to locate resources for the same location, and fixing more broken links. The Twitter API has been added to profiles of genealogists so you can view what they are sharing. Here's an example: Illya D'Addezio. If you are a genealogist, and would like to have a profile added to Live Roots, just contact me through the Suggest link.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weathering the past

A column earlier this month on, "What does the weather have to do with genealogy," encourages us to examine how weather may have affected our ancestors. The article notes, the 1595 writings of a minister named John King, "Our years are turned upside down; our summers are no summers; our harvests are no harvests." The article continues: Something was happening to the earth which greatly affect our ancestors. Temperatures were getting colder. The article goes on to explore the "Little Ice Age," and what was happening during this time period. My own family lived through the 1930s dust storms and I remember my mother telling how she just cried trying to keep the dust out. Many suffered lung damage and died  -- those caught outside in the storm, if they didn't perish, may have been blinded. So, indeed, weather has something to do with genealogy.  Again, local area histories and local newspapers, in addition to family letters and journals, are a good place to begin exploring the weather in your ancestors' time and place.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Myths of the Fathers

We all have them -- stories of family connections to famous (or infamous) people. In her latest article, "Myths of the Fathers," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers some practical ideas for verifying the fact or fiction of those stories.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Life, Death, and Everything in Between

“Everyone knows to look for federal, state, and county censuses. But what else is on that paper trail between Life and Death?” In her article, “Life, Death, and Everything in Between,” Judy Rosella Edwards reviews the kinds of documents that might be generated over a lifetime, with insights into researching these records in various state and local archives.

"My Family Health History," new version released

Today marks the release of a new version of the Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait," as announced in a recent press release. Aimed at helping consumers more easily assemble family health information that is important for their health care, the new Internet-based tool is ready for use in a patient’s electronic health records (EHRs). The software code for the new tool is also being made openly available for adoption by other health organizations, under their own brand.  The My Family Health Portrait software is a product of the U. S. Surgeon General's Family Health Initiative, which began in 2004 to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health history.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Genealogy and Internet Security

We cannot be reminded too often about securing our personal data online. Based on his own personal experience with hackers and security violations, Alan Smith, in his most recent article, "Genealogy and Internet Security," offers a few specifics for ensuring your personal information when working online. One point was addressed specifically to those who publish, which the average researcher might not have considered previously: "If you publish a book or a newsletter on family history, include a copyrighted message and warning that information in your publication is not to be posted on the Internet." Of course, that does not guarantee it won't be done, but it's a start. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New African American database traces slave ship routes

As noted in a recent article on Digital Journal, "African Americans Receive Major Boost in Genealogy Tracking," a new database reported by Alexandra Marks by the Christian Science Monitor on December 30, 2008, will allow African Americans to trace the slave ship routes as far back as the 16th century, and their genealogy, in the same way that Europeans have been able to track their migration. This is a result of research by hundreds of scholars over 40 years, a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The researchers compiled maps, images and relevant materials from 35,000 slave-trade routes that took place from Africa to parts of North American, Brazil, Europe and the Carribbean. This is a first, and an important one for a large group of people who had before been cut off from knowing about ancestral roots in the same way others have been able to do

Monday, January 5, 2009

U.S. "Who Do You Think You Are" closer yet?

We've heard it was in the works, but didn't know when it would air -- like the old joke, "It's coming . . . it's coming . . . ahhh . . . it's gone." Well, maybe not. Word is out, it is coming, but "in the spring," is about as specific as it gets.  According to a piece on Radar, Lisa Kudrow will feature in NBC's first episode of "Who Do You Think You Are," American style. 

The 46 year-old Friends star is making her US TV comeback by both producing and appearing in the show, which is based on the BBC version. Kudrow explained the show's premise to Parade magazine: "They (the producers) chose six people, all celebrities... and they trace our family trees and film us against those actual backgrounds." About her own very moving experience, Kudrow added: "They took me back to Belarus to find a cousin who survived the Holocaust but is dead now. . . It was not a vacation." The show -- an adaptation of the UK series is expected to air -- you guessed it . . .  in the spring.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ancestry collaboration brings Jewish records online

A recent article on, "Web site gathers millions of Jewish genealogy records online," highlights the launch of what it calls the world's largest online collection Jewish family history records.

Ancestry has partnered with two organizations for the project — JewishGen, an affiliate of New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The online collection,, features millions of historic Jewish records including Schindler's List — the names of almost 2,000 Jews saved by a German businessman who employed them. Their story was told in the Oscar-winning 1993 film.

Many of the 26 million documents are online for the first time — from photographs and immigration data to a list of people who died in Nazi concentration camps. The Joint Distribution Committee says it has digitized records of displaced Jews who were provided with food, medical care, clothing and emigration assistance by the JDC.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Brushing up on "Genealogy Lingo"

Genealogy is a hobby with its share of acronyms and its own vocabulary. In her article, "Genealogy Lingo," Gena Philibert-Ortega reviews some of the most common genealogy terms with resources for learning more.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Surname Message Boards and Twitter

You can now browse results from the surname message boards at and from within, and you can also search and see if anyone is chatting about your surnames. These options will also appear in the "Getting Around Live Roots" whenever you are in a surname-related area of Live Roots. When you try the Twitter search using a surname, I suggest that you include the word "genealogy" in your search to narrow down the tweets. If you haven't joined Twitter yet, and decide to, please be sure to follow me!

MyHeritage announces release Family Tree Builder 3

MyHeritage, a popular family Web site, announced in a recent press release the launch of Family Tree Builder 3, a powerful software program members can download and use to build family trees, research family history and add content like photos and videos. One of the nice features of MyHeritage is that it’s free, with moderately priced plans for additional functionality and features. Several new features are outlined.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Start the New Year Right - Cite Your Sources!

Yes, it's that time again -- the time for New Year's Resolutions. In her article, "Start the New Year Right - Cite Your Sources!," Judy Rosella Edwards challenges us to dig in and cite sources from previous work, and along the way provides a few guidelines. The old pattern of gathering information applies: who, what, when, and where. As the article points out, revisiting your sources can shed new light on old problems. 

Interesting Genealogy Finds of 2008

2008 was a busy year for my data entry team. Here are some of the more interesting documents that were transcribed as part of the Family Tree Connection project:

1926 Eligible List for Patrolman in New York City

List of Registered Maine Embalmers 1913

U. S. Army 1863 Invalid Corps Transfers, August 11th

U. S. Army 1863 Invalid Corps Transfers, September 3rd
U. S. Army 1863 Invalid Corps Transfers, September 7th
U. S. Army 1863 Invalid Corps Transfers, September 12th

NYC Badminton Club 1892 Roster

Little River Co., Arkansas 1898 List of Electors

American Magicians Society 1930 Members List

Plumas County Calif. 1910 Precinct Register Index

New Haven Soldiers who Lost Their Lives in the War of the Rebellion

National Selected Morticians 1929 Proceedings

West Virginia Casualties in the War With Germany

54th National Master Plumbers Association Directory

I expect that 2009 will be filled with many more of these unique resources. Stay tuned!