Friday, February 27, 2009

Historical Influences on U.S. Immigrants

The subject of immigration is complex due to the social, economic and political issues associated with the topic. Alan Smith discusses these issues in four parts. The first, Immigration History & U.S. Ports, Part One revisits immigration push and pull, those things that drove or encouraged immigration to the United States. It also explores the attitudes with which immigrants were received at various time, which sometimes influenced where immigrants may have settled.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Online Database Memberships: Are They Worth It?

Fee-based databases abound. Are they worth the money? Whether you are a professional researcher or doing your own genealogy, this is a valid question. In her most recent article, "Online Database Memberships: Are They Worth It?" Judy Rosella Edwards explains how the more you know about searching databases, the more valuable databases become for you. Which one(s) and how many depends on your individual resources.

Ancestry.ca announces release of 1916 Prairie provinces census

In a world first, Ancestry.ca , Canada’s leading family history web site, today launched online the 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, which contains 1.7 million names and more than 38,000 images of original Census pages in an indexed and fully searchable format. From 1906 to 1956, a separate Census was taken for the Prairie provinces five years after every national Census, providing a more complete picture of Canada’s west at this time. By law, the collection was kept private for 92 years and this is the first time ever that Canadians can view these important records online.

Family and social history enthusiasts can search the collection by first and last name, residence, place and year of birth, by father, mother and spouse’s name. This Census was also the first ever in Canada to ask about military service, providing much more detailed information about one’s ancestors. In addition to recording basic population and demographic statistics, the Census recorded primary migrant communities, which originated from England, Ireland, Scotland, the U.S. and Russia. In fact, 1916 was the year that the famous Doukhobors - a group of Christian Russian immigrants that would come to play a great role in building the Prairies - first arrived in Alberta.

Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, Ancestry.ca, comments: “The 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is a fascinating and valuable snapshot of the Canadian Prairies and the people living there during a time of tremendous significance in the shaping of our country. Not only are Census records one of the most vital resources for family history researchers but they help paint a picture of the times in which these people lived and the many challenges they overcame.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

MyHeritage announces "significant" search improvements

Leaving no stone unturned, another good place to run those family names is MyHeritage.com, one of the leading family history web sites, now with expanded search capability. MyHeritage announced today, "significant improvements: and expansion to its search engine. The updated “MyHeritage Research” now provides access to some 12 billion names in 1,526 genealogy databases from across the Internet. New sources included in the search include, Facebook, Digg, and others. MyHeritage Research accesses only genealogical resources which helps researchers find those websites and databases most relevant to their unique family histories. This allows you a much quicker and efficient search, so you don't have to wade through volumes of non relevant records. You can access the search at http://www.myheritage.com/research.

Researchers can perform a name search using different spelling options: Exact, Soundex, or the unique Megadex spelling variations. Megadex allows you to choose from the most commonly used spelling variations of last names, cutting down on the time needed to research name variations. MyHeritage services are free of charge and available in 34 languages.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: The Knomenclature of Knights

In her most recent article on language, Jean Hibben explores the "Knomenclature of Knights," as always with a few surprises. We think of knights, the age of chivalry and rescuing damsels in distress, as the pinnacle of masculinity. But some very feminine words and accouterments derive from these knights of old.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

5th Annual Family History Expo, Feb. 27-28

It's time once again, the 5th Annual Family History Expo, February 27-28, 2009. The event will be held at the Dixie Center, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George, Utah, 84790. For complete details, visit the Family History Expos web site. .

Friday, February 20, 2009

Refresher on "Using Genealogical Indexes"

Gena Philbert-Ortega, in her latest article, "Using Genealogical Indexes," provides a refresher on the value of genealogical indexes, along with examples of various indexes, some available online. As the article points out, "While indexes are not a substitute for primary documents, indexes can assist you in finding ancestors and lead you to primary documents."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

GenealogyBank provides new tools to allow more targeted research

GenealogyBank.com, a leading provider of digitized historical and recent newspapers for family history information, in a recent press release announced a new set of advanced search tools that let family researchers gather information from one specific newspaper or group of newspapers, as well as search newspapers by state, city or only recently added content.

"GenealogyBank's new search enhancements are excellent new tools to help genealogists fine tune their family research," reports Tom Kemp, Genealogy Director at NewsBank, inc. "We appreciate the feedback we receive on the site and often heard from users who wanted to search a specific newspaper by title or by city and narrow searches by type of article--for example, just birth notices or just marriage announcements. And now you can! We also added the ability to search only the most recently added content over the last one to three months. Researchers of any level can use these and other tools to hone in on hard-to-find family history information and document the lives and times of their American ancestors over four centuries."

Additionally, GenealogyBank recently added more than six million articles, documents and death records. The site's online family history archive now features more than 3,800 newspapers, including over 144 million fully searchable historical newspaper articles articles and 113 million obituaries and death records.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Genealogists like Speed, right?

I don't know about fast cars or fast trains, but I do know genealogists prefer fast databases. Last night, I released an update to the core Live Roots search that improves performance significantly. Searches that used to take 40 seconds are now returning in less than 10! Also, you may have noticed that the Team Roots program is now available on LiveRoots.com (as well as GenealogyToday.com) via the new top menu options. While presently members enjoy only a few perks on LiveRoots.com, in the near future there will be some very interesting features just for members. Stay tuned! Live Roots was mentioned on the Genealogy etc. blog.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Megan Smolenyak was Genetealogically Speaking in Secaucus, NJ Today

I had the pleasure of attending a very informative talk by Megan Smolenyak at the Secaucus Public Library, hosted by the Hudson County Genealogical Society. Genetealogy is a term that Megan coined for the growing offshoot of genealogy focusing on how genetics can supplement traditional genealogical research.

I've sat through other genetic genealogy talks and read dozens of articles, so I had a general understanding of the topic. Megan's talk, however, was wonderful as she reviewed each of the genetic testing options and how they relate to genealogy. She highlighted many misconceptions about DNA & genealogy, and suggested ways to counter them when persuading those stubborn relatives who haven't opened their mouths for you to swab.

Many genealogists are driven to research to find deeper connections to their ancestors. What better way than through the DNA running throughout our bodies! One quote from Megan really caught my attention. She said we are all "living representatives of our ancestors," which is a great way of looking at this. All men carry the same Y-Chromosome as their male ancestors, and women share common MtDNA with their female ancestors.

What I love about Megan's talks is that she keeps them very current. Her active role in the industry allows her to share trends she has observed and make predictions as to where this all may lead. She relates which projects are just launching, and which have been around (and thus have a larger DNA sampling databases).

While I had a Y-33 test done of myself back at the end of 2007, there haven't been any exact matches yet, but a quick check on DNA.Ancestry.com is showing more close matches have appeared since my last visit. Megan shared with the group the websites that have DNA searches, so I really should take my haplotype data and check for matches in those other projects. My quick visit to DNA.Ancestry.com also revealed they have refined their haplogroup predictions. When I got the results in 2007 they said it was J2. Now they are saying its J2a1h, also known as the "Cultivators".

If you hear about an upcoming Megan speaking event in your area, make sure you attend. If you don't have that luxury, you can always purchase her Trace Your Roots with DNA book and perhaps learns some new tricks for breaking down those brick walls.

Thanks go to the Hudson County Genealogical Society for hosting this excellent genealogy session. If you have roots in Hudson County, New Jersey, be sure to join this group. They publish a quarterly newsletter that includes a schedule of upcoming meetings.

Turning Michigan-Canadian Research Upside Down

Through a series of examples, in her article, "Turning Michigan-Canadian Research Upside Down," Judy Rosella Edwards illustrates her thesis that "Immigrants did not always follow a straight and obvious route. Michigan-Canada migrations create an intriguing panorama of people on the move. Browsing through biographies from the 1800s it becomes obvious that arrivals from the Old World traipsed back and forth between the United States and Canada." The article also shows how an understanding of the early geography can direct or redirect research.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Using the "Images of America" Series for Your Family History

The "Images of America" series is a collection of books covering a wide range of topics in American history, including local area histories that may be relevant to your own genealogical research. Gena Philiber-Orgtega, in her article, "Using the 'Images of America' Series for Your Family History," explores the wide range subjects found in these books, their limitations, and how to make them useful.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Using eBay in Your Genealogy

In her article, "Using eBay In Your Genealogy," Gena Philibert-Ortega provides a basic introduction to the eBay auction web site, and offers suggestions on various ways eBay can be used in doing genealogy. In addition to finding deals on genealogy reference books, eBay may also be a resource for finding information and/or photos on individual families. And while eBay is a valid resource for such materials and can benefit those who have the bidding savvy and financial resources, I find it a bit sad to see such personal items auctioned off in such an impersonal way. The hope is that some of those items might find their way into the hands of family members who will treasure them.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Footnote.com celebrates Black History Month with launch of African American Collection

In celebration of Black History Month, Footnote.com is launching its African American Collection, as announced in a recent press release. Footnote.com has been working with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C., to digitize records that provide a view into the lives of African Americans that few have seen before.

"These records cover subjects including slavery, military service, and issues facing African Americans dating back to the late 18th century," explains James Hastings, Director of Access Programs at NARA. "Making these records available online will help people to better understand the history and sacrifice that took place in this country."

Footnote.com has spent the last two years with NARA compiling this collection and is currently working on adding more records that will be released in the upcoming months.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Licensed Ordinaries: Liquor Licensure Throughout American History

Although hard to imagine today, there was a time when towns were required by law to have a tavern and tavern ownership was a government appointment . . . "with perks." Seems THAT tradition goes back a long way. In her article, "Licensed Ordinaries: Liquor Licensure Throughout American History," Judy Rosella Edwards shares the background of early "ordinaries" and their role in the community.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Heritage Books Cataloged on Live Roots

Wow! I didn't realize how many unique books, maps and cd-roms were produced by Heritage Books. They are all loaded into the Live Roots catalog and geocoded. I'm working with some additional publishers to obtain copies of their catalogs for inclusion on Live Roots as well. I've been getting some good feedback regarding the way results are sorted and will be making some changes within the next week. There's also a significant amount of name data for the Live Roots index in the queue, which should be online shortly.

Canadian Civil Servants Lists, 1872-1900, now online

Ancestry.ca, Canada's leading online family history web site, announced in a recent press release, the online launch of the fully indexed Canadian Civil Servants Lists, 1872-1900, which features more than 78,000 records of those employed in departments of the Canadian Government during the country's early days of Confederation.

Before online databases existed, there were physical record books kept of employment at government offices. Like the Victorian equivalent of today's corporate intranet or internet site, these record books would have been used to find out who did what, when and where. The records give family history researchers a unique opportunity to find out how an ancestor's career might have progressed and how much they earned, as well as offer personal individual information such as birth date, age, date of first appointment, years at post, promotion to present rank, creed or religion and nationality of origin.

The records are available fully indexed and fully searchable online for the first time and help paint a more vivid picture of the working life of Canadians just before the turn of the 20th Century. They also provide a fascinating comparison of how the salaries and job titles differed from today.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Oldest Genealogy Sites - Class of 1995

After developing the Genealogy WHOIS service on Live Roots, I thought it would be interesting to see which web sites were launched right when (or a few minutes before) the World Wide Web started becoming mainstream. Here they are:
This is, of course, based on the date the domain name was registered, and does not indicate that the web site went online at that time. Likewise, there were probably a bunch of genealogy sites popping up on public domains (e.g. aol.com, compuserve.com) that I don't have an easy method of capturing. The class of 1996 looks to be a bit larger... stay tuned! (If I missed one, please share the details with me so I can add it)

Additions after original post:

Trusting the information that Genealogists discover online

I'm an advocate of transparency when it comes to online genealogy, especially since this is such a passionate hobby. You read articles all the time stressing the importance of "citing your source," and yet so many web sites fail to post the information needed for completeness. Today I launched a new feature on Live Roots that helps you to determine who owns the domains of the resources in our catalog. Along with the ownership (if available), I am providing links to several popular domain tracking sites including Alexa, Quantcast, Compete and the McAfee Site Advisor. If the company behind the domain is accredited by the BBB, a link to the certificate is provided. And, if I am able to find a clearly visible link to the site privacy policy, it will be included as well. A shortcut to this new service is GenWhois.com

Monday, February 2, 2009

FGS/AGS 2009 Conference Program and Registration Now Online!

"A Conference for the Nation’s Genealogists" is an annual event of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. It moves all around the U.S. and the 2009 host is the Arkansas Genealogical Society and the place is Little Rock, Arkansas. The conference theme is Passages through Time which symbolizes the journey taken as we learn more about our ancestors, their place in history, and the lives they led.

Join your fellow family historians, librarians, editors, archivists, historians, writers, professional genealogists, software developers, book and database vendors, volunteers, and the growing number of younger genealogists as we network, learn, share, and even have some fun. You might meet a 3rd cousin you didn’t know about or someone from an ancestral home town.

This year’s conference is being held in Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center. The Exhibit Hall, on-site registration area, and the lecture rooms are conveniently located in the same building that is easily walkable. One host hotel, the Peabody, is attached to the convention center. The Doubletree is less than a block’s walk.

For registration information, visit the FGS Conference Website. Once you are on the page, the links to the conference program and registration are on the left. The registration link for the Exhibit Hall is also live. Be sure to check the Conference Blog.   FGS and AGS invite you to join us as we learn more about Passages through Time.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More Genealogy Data and Genealogy Books

Today I worked on cataloging resources from Accessible Archives, The Godfrey Memorial Library (unique resources), and Heritage Books, Inc. (still in progress). Also, more broken links were fixed, and links to dozens of newly discovered transcriptions were added. Earlier this week, I began developing the Live Roots on Second Life outpost for genealogists, where you will soon be able to research you roots in new and exciting ways.