Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tracing Your Roots to Germany, Part Two: The Nomenclature

Tracing an ancestor back to his or her country of origin is very exciting. The process of continuing the search in the records of a new land can be intimidating, especially where a foreign language is involved. In "Tracing Your Roots to Germany, Part Two: The Nomenclature," Alan Smith offers some first-hand suggestions for those who are just beginning.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cemeteries - not just for tombstones, anymore

They say necessity is the mother of invention. So what do you do when you visit a cemetery in which you are certain a person in buried, but you cannot find the grave? In her article, "Cemeteries - not just for tombstones, anymore," Cindy Drage suggests looking for cemetery or "interment" records. Many people are buried without headstones, for one reason or another. Finding the location of the grave is one objective, but interment records may offer a great deal more. Even when there is a headstone, this is a resource you might not want to overlook.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 launches British Prisoners of War database

With the 70th anniversary of the start of World War Two (September 1, 2009) approaching, has launched online British Army Prisoners of War, 1939-1945, which contains the records for more than 100,000 prisoners of war (POW) captured during the conflict, including the names of many ancestors of living Canadians. Nearly one-third of Canada’s population claims British heritage, which means that many Canadians with ancestors who fought for or alongside the British Army may be able to find ancestors in this collection.

As one of the few World War Two archives not subject to the UK’s ‘75-year rule’,  this collection is a vital resource for anyone looking to trace British and Commonwealth soldiers captured by German Forces during the war. The majority of World War Two records are not yet available to the general public as individual records are still protected by the rule.

In addition to the POW records, has also published online the UK Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945, featuring the records of all British Army personnel killed in action during World War Two.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Genealogy of Communities

Most of us are aware that a variety of non-traditional communities exist in our society, and have existed in the past, places where are drawn together for one reason or another, possibly employment, but the people are generally unrelated. Take the California Gold Rush, for example. Researching family members who might have been part of such a community is the subject of a new series by Judy Rosella Edwards. In her first article, "The Genealogy of Communities," Edwards introduces these "intentional" communities, so-called because they are artificially created outside the traditional family community, and suggests the first steps to researching them. Additional articles in the series will cover specific types of communities, including logging camps, fishing camps, seminaries and prep schools, etc. Even if your community of interest is not covered, and it would be hard to detail them all, the techniques and resources explored will certainly transfer over. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

What the heck is "data rot" and why do we care?

If you have ever experienced a system crash, you know how devastating it can be -- the challenge of trying to reconstruct information that has been damaged or irretrievably lost is the computer user's nightmare.  As beneficial as computer technology is, and it's revolutionized the field of genealogy, it still comes with a powerful caveat: be aware of "data rot"; that is, the deterioration of the medium on which information is stored (CDs, DVDs, hard drives, magnetic tape, etc.) and the problem of accessing data when medium and the equipment to run it becomes obsolete. "The Ten Commandments on floppy? Where would we be?" explores the issues and what can be done to preserve valuable information.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How to start your own "genea-blog"

"Discover the online tool that will have people searching for your information instead of the other way around. A genea-blog is a way to have long-lost relatives and fellow researchers in the same fields come to you." In her article, "Instead of Searching the Internet, Have the Internet Search for You: Start a Genea-Blog," Rita Marshall explains how these blogs work and how to get started.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Salt Lake Family History Expo, Aug 28-19

If you are in the area, mark your calendar for the Salt Lake Family History Expo, to be held August 28-29, 2009 at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, Utah. In addition to other presentations, FamilySearch will offer classes on New Family Search -- a class certain to be a hit. The New FamilySearch, currently available only to a select group is eagerly awaited by the genealogy community at large. For details, visit the Family History Expo website.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lots of free data still available online

Is free genealogy a thing of the past? asks Kimberly Powell in her article, "101 Ways to Research Your Family Tree for Free." Apparently, the answer to her question lies in the title to her article, lots of free data is still available. Check it out to be sure you are taking advantage of the many free resources available.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Heads Up! "The Human Family Tree" film airs August 30

If you have not yet submitted your DNA to the National Geographic, Genographic Project, a new film, "The Human Family Tree," airing August 30 might inspire to do so. For those who are not familiar, the Project is a a five-year research  partnership led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells, aimed at studying the migratory history of the human species through DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world -- everyday people like you and me. The film provides insight into how the Project works and what can be learned: "On a single day on a single street, with the DNA of just a couple of hundred random people, National Geographic Channel sets out to trace the ancestral footsteps of all humanity." To learn more, visit The Human Family Tree web site. The site offers a convenient Time Zone button to indicate when the film will air in your area. 

Map Reading 102

Reading a map is not easy. Ask all the frustrated drivers who have to stop and ask for directions, or turn to their digital navigation system! They still need to pass Map Reading 101. In her very informative article, "Map Reading 102," Judy Rosella Edwards lets us in on some lesser known map reading strategies.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Replacing the 1890 Census — City Directories

Pretty much every U.S. family history researcher laments the loss of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census, which was destroyed by a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington D.C., in January 1921. Filling in the blanks left by the loss of that census can be challenging, indeed. Fortunately, other resources do exist for the time period, often at the local level. It just takes a bit of sleuthing to discover what records might be available for your particular area of interest. In her article, "Replacing the 1890 Census -- City Directories," Cindy Drage suggests a source, while not at the federal level, certainly widespread, that of city (and county) directories. If you know how to read them -- and the article provides tips and hints for doing just that -- city and county directories can provide a lot of good information.

Friday, August 7, 2009 on Wall Street

Some of you may remember the old insurance company slogan, "Buy a piece of the Rock," meaning the Rock of Gibraltar, the company's logo. Well, soon it may be possible to own a piece of the tree -- the family tree, that is. A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, " plans to go public," reported this week that is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) of company stocks, joining the ranks of other publically owned companies on Wall Street. Formerly known as The Generations Network (earlier than that and earlier than that, of all things,, the company has now come full circle with its most recent name change, back to the brand, perhaps, having the mind share to carry the company into its public offering.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's new at your local Family History Center? — in a word, LOTS

A recent article on, "Mormon Family History Centers get trove of new documents," reports how LDS Family History Centers (and consequently their patrons) are proving the beneficiary of the Church's new indexing program. "Among the new databases: the 1915 Rhode Island state census; Mexican Catholic Church records dating back to 1627; Delaware birth records from 1861 to 1908; and Canadian censuses from 1851, 1861 and 1871." The article goes on to say, "Although it has become increasingly easy to research ancestors from the comfort of a home computer through Web sites such as, the Mormon Family History Centers have access to microfilm and international collections that are unavailable on many of these sites, said Paul Nauta, public affairs manager of" And the real beauty of the Family History Center is there's one near you -- there are 4,500 Mormon Family History Centers around the world, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, which is visited by more than 2,000 people a day. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Specialty publications, another place to look

A recent GenWeekly article highlighted the value of newspapers, beyond the obituary. This week we look at and beyond the traditional newspaper. In her article, "Digging Through History's Pages: Using Newspapers and Other Periodicals To Find Ancestors," Rita Marshall explores specialty periodicals, in addition to newspapers, how they can aid your research and where to find them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Incentives for publishing your research

If you have long "thought" about publishing your genealogy research but haven't seemed to quite get around to it, you might be interested in a recent article from the, "New England Genealogy 101: top 10 reasons to publish your research." Sometimes all we need is the right motivation.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Historical Pageants As a Genealogical Tool

We often talk about the value of non-traditional sources and encourage readers to visit the Genealogy Today, Family Tree Connection database, absolutely THE place for researching non-traditional sources. In her article, "Historical Pageants As a Genealogical Tool," Judy Rosella Edwards provides a little background on historical pageants and their value, in particular, pageant programs, for historical data. Event programs are also known as "ephemera," printed items intended for one-time use. As it turns out, these one-time use items, in some cases, have become highly collectible, and can also be valuable clues for pinpointing an ancestor in time and place or indicating something of his or her life. Of course, in addition to the program, local newspapers carried news of local pageants, a more traditional source of information. Two for the money.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Newspaper Treasures -- Beyond the Obituaries

"Newspapers are gold mines for obituary information," says Judy Rosella Edwards in her recent article, "Newspaper Treasures," and they are, indeed. In addition to the more familiar genealogical use of newspapers in finding obituaries, birth and marriage records is the reporting of everyday events -- events that may contain significant information and leads. The article suggests ways you can digitize any information you might find, for personal use. I might also add, today we are lucky to have a wealth of newspapers already digitized: many  are subscription-based but may be available for free through local public libraries and Family History Centers. Some newspaper sites and other commercial sites that contain newspapers, offer trial subscriptions for a nominal fee. Newspapers are a valuable resource definitely worth pursuing.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: From Logs to Log Cabins

What has the world "lumber" to do with a pawnshop? Well, it's a long and winding road and not the most intuitive connection. Such is language. In her article, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: From Logs to Log Cabins," Jean Hibben explains this and other entertaining, but seemingly far-fetched connections.