Thursday, November 22, 2012 experiences DOS attack on Thanksgiving

Sometime around 2 A.M. on Thanksgiving morning, hundreds of web crawlers from Ahrefs Inc. began bombarding the Genealogy Today web site, making the site unresponsive for genealogists looking to query our unique collection of records. Requests to the company to halt this activity have been unsuccessful. We apologize to our customers and are working to remedy the DOS (denial-of-service) situation as quickly as possible.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Deja Vu: Genealogy Today updates delayed by Hurricane

It's been just a little over a year (since Hurricane Irene), and again the east coast (including New Jersey) was pummeled by a storm -- this time named Hurricane Sandy. Expect delays in the delivery of The Genealogy News and our regular database updates.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Angie's List isn't just for finding Plumbers

Read Unbiased Consumer Reviews Online at
Angie's List
Check our Genealogy Reviews
on Angie's List
When I saw a TV commercial for Angie's List the other night, it sounded like a useful service; but I really wasn't expecting to find genealogists reviewed. Well, surprise! There are plenty of them.

If you've been considering hiring a professional to assist with your family history research, now there's a web site you can visit first to see if any researchers in your area have been reviewed.

There is a slight down-side to Angie's List (well, sort of). Consumers are required to pay a membership fee to join. It's not a lot of money ($26/year), but might pose a barrier for many genealogists (who have a limited budget). According to their web site, "membership fees help ensure reliable data, provide actual staff support and enable publication of [their] award-winning monthly magazine, among other things." They do offer a 110% money-back guarantee, so you can always give it a try and then cancel if you don't find enough value for researchers (and/or other contractors) in your area.

While you might not be pleased to see that there is a fee, it hopefully reduces the fake (i.e. posted by company employees posing as consumers) and vulgar posts you often find on free sites that encourage customers to review the services they receive. Plus, Angie's List is not a complaint board, as members are encouraged to review any/all services rendered -- good and bad!

I have registered Genealogy Today with Angie's List, and encourage anyone who has subscribed to our database service to post a review. Also, as an added benefit for Angie's List members, I plan to offer a subscription discount (however, this option is not available until Genealogy Today receives some reviews).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Those Accident Prone Jobs of our Ancestors

Was "danger" your ancestor's middle name? There have always been jobs where the employees were prone to having accidents, sometimes fatal ones. And yet, these industries have always had people responsible for monitoring the work conditions and pushing for better safety precautions.

Mining Accidents

Even today, mining remains a very risky career, so its not surprising that many men were injured deep beneath the Earth's surface. In many states across the country, where mining was a prevalent industry, there were inspectors who produced reports documenting the fatal and non-fatal accidents that occurred during the year. Check out the growing group of these mining reports (and the transcribed accident reports) in the Genealogy Today Subscription Data collection.

Railroad Employees

Not only were railroad employees subject to the occasional accident, but railroad tracks all too often attracted people who ended up in the wrong place, at the wrong time. State Railroad commissioners had the task of recording the accidents that occurred along the lines running through their states. Likewise, many railroad fraternal groups offered insurance-like benefits to their members, and recorded events that sidelined members. Browse through this list of railroad reports and see if any of your ancestors suffered mishaps.

Boiler Explosions

When man discovered steam, the world became a warmer place (or at least the workplaces of our ancestors did). But with steam, comes incredible amounts of pressure, which often resulted in extraordinary explosions. When I stumbled upon a copy of The Locomotive, a newsletter published by the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, and saw that each issue contained a short report about recent accidents,   it seemed like an excellent (albeit somewhat gruesome) genealogical resource. Check out the insurance records page for a list of issues that have been transcribed.

Mother Nature's Angry Side

When someone mentions farming accidents, your first thought is probably "man plus tractor equals accident," but the weather, particularly lightning, was more of an ongoing problem. Lightning was a constant threat to some farmers, causing fires as well as killing livestock. Among the insurance records we've transcribed, are many instances of farmers making claims for lost horses, cows and even sheep. With all the trees and buildings, how does a little sheep get struck by lightning? As far back as the 1850's, farmers protected their livelihood by opting for property insurance, and many of the reports issued by insurance companies list the claims they paid during the year.

There are plenty of interesting resources that you won't often find in the genealogy section of libraries, but you fill find many of them transcribed at Genealogy Today. Whether its a report documenting factory accidents, or firemen injured in the line of duty, we're always looking for alternative sources of genealogical information.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Did your Ancestor have Cancer?

And were they CURED? Perhaps they visited Dr. Nichols Sanatorium near Savannah, Missouri back in the 1920's.

Dr. Perry Nichols (pictured) specialized in the treatment of Cancer, Lupus, Chronic Ulcers and Tumors, and claimed to be able to cure patients who made the journey to his medical facility.

He proudly listed former patients (over 6,000 of them) as References in his published work, "The Value of Escharotics or Medicines which will Destroy any Living or Fungus Tissue." A 1927 edition of this work has recently been transcribed and indexed as part of the Genealogy Today Subscription Data collection. We also own a 1923 edition and plan to index it in the future.

Also included in this publication are testimonials from several dozen patients (with their photos), and a staff listing. The References list shows patients travelled from different states, and now you can search to see if any of your ancestors are mentioned on the Dr. Nichols Sanitorium 1927 References & Testimonial Index. While a subscription is required to see the full details of the listings, anyone may search the name index for free.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Whoa Nellie! Don't Rush to Judgement, Genealogists

Yesterday, Thomas MacEntee and others, rallied up "the troops" to post comments on an article in PC Magazine written by Jill Duffy in which she reviews the web site. In Thomas's own words, "The author needs an education as to the reality of genealogy."

We need to take a moment and reflect on a few things... first, this is an article for a TECHNOLOGY magazine, and is about the technological ease that Ancestry offers "want to be" genealogists. In the past few years, Ancestry has made tremendous strides to bring genealogy to the mass market. If you think making little leaves (i.e. the hints) appear on a tree is easy, think again. That seemingly simple feature involves huge amounts of hardware and sophisticated software, and yet, it's probably the most effective feature that bridges the gap between novice and "the science of" genealogy.

Second, give PC Magazine some credit for even allowing one of its editors to review genealogy products and services. This is a GREAT thing for genealogy as it exposes the hobby to a very different audience. And again, remember this is a review of one service,, and NOT an article about online genealogy. PC Magazine is about technology, it's not a hobby enthusiast publication. And they're also in the business of selling products, so there's always that hint of "did they get a friendly nudge from Ancestry" to write this review.

Third, many of us (i.e. genealogists who've been doing this for years) need to recognize that there is a new breed of "family tree enthusiast." They're a younger crowd, engulfed in technology, used to having information at their fingertips, and (sadly) not so interested in doing the real work (and certainly none of the  DIGGING) that genealogy requires. So, for this growing audience, Ancestry has had the insight to adjust their service to reduce (not eliminate) some of the heavy lifting involved in genealogy. Many of you may remember a time (back say prior to 2006) when the main focus of the Ancestry home page was SEARCH, and then one day the search box disappeared, being replaced by a "build-a-tree" feature. All of the sudden, Ancestry changed their focus and market strategy from serving experienced genealogists to catering to "newbies."

We can certainly hope that Jill is permitted to review other (non-Ancestry owned) technology-driven services, like MyHeritage and FindMyPast, but we should NOT expect PC Magazine to publish an article highlighting the broad selection of genealogical resources available online.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

All in a Day's Work for this Genealogist

Yesterday, I transcribed an 1822 directory for Washington, D. C., and also posted some of the miscellaneous information it contained. It's been sitting on my desk for the longest time, patiently awaiting it's turn.

Like many city directories, reading it takes some effort, and I cannot imagine the work that was involved in putting it together. How did the interview go? Question: "So, where do you live?" Response: "On the south side of G street north between 17th and 18th streets west" Which was then translated into "s side Gn btw 17 and 18w."

Here's an amusing one, works at "corner Penn av and 21w" and resides "nearly opposite." Say what? I'm not sure exactly how that would have helped to find the person if you were living in 1822 -- this is what makes genealogy such a fun (and frustrating) hobby.

In the back of the directory, there were some job descriptions that I've also posted online, including Inspector of Flour, Chimney Sweeps, and my favorite, Scavengers. And there were some brief historical details for organizations like the Orphan Asylum (which at the time was only supporting females), the newly established Columbian College, and the Education Society of the District of Columbia (for pious young men).   All of the added information is linked at the bottom of the 1822 directory page.

This item is part of the Genealogy Today Subscription Data service, and a subscription is required for full access. The name index, however, can be searched for free, so check out the Washington Directory of 1822 and see if any of your ancestors were living there and working as a SCAVENGER!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Was your Ancestor a Sandbagger?

sandbaggers snipit
Check this out... it's the most interesting and informative article I think that I've ever posted. It comes from an old book about surname origins and meanings by Leopold Wagner entitled "Names: And Their Meaning -- A Book for the Curious."

There are so many terms that I've seen in documents, especially occupations listed on old census records, but have never understood. This article explains how they came about, but it also explains many commonplace titles that you may be surprised to learn of their true origins. Words like Teetotaler or Quack and many others!

The oddest item in the article... "The latest terror of the streets which, unhappily, abounds in American cities, are the Sandbaggers, so called because they stun their victims with an ordinary sand-bag, such as is used to keep the draught from penetrating between a pair of window-sashes; after which robbery becomes an easy matter." What? Stunning their victims with sand-bags? That's just crazy!

It's a rather lengthy article, but it's so interesting it reads quickly. Be sure to visit Class Names and Nicknames (1893) in the Archived Materials section of Genealogy Today.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Grandpa Was a Squirrel Hunter

In her new book, "From the Family Kitchen," Gena Philibert-Ortega explores the value of our food heritage and the importance of leaving a legacy for future generations. Among some of the old recipes found in the book is a method for cooking squirrels, although dated 1894 in Los Angeles, this cook's squirrels came from the market. Not so for my ancestors. According to my Uncle Jesse, who spent a great deal of time with his grandparents, Grandpa Durham was a squirrel hunter. I never thought to ask what he did with all those squirrels -- I suppose he could have sold or traded them, but I they probably ate a good few, as well. Grandma and Grandpa Durham migrated from Alabama to Texas soon after they were married in 1872. For many of the pioneers migrating West across America, squirrel was on the menu. Cookbook author Hank Shaw calls squirrels the "chicken of the trees."

Squirrel and rabbit, they say, are interchangeable, and apparently so is chicken, according to some of the recipes I came across in my newspaper search. In fact, newspapers are great place to look for old recipes (and social customs of every variety), especially if you have access to a digitized collection that lets you limit your search in multiple ways such the Newspapers & Publications on Giving it the old college try, I thought I'd see what kind of squirrel recipes I could find. On the search page for the newspaper collection, I entered only my location of interest "Texas, USA" and two keywords, "recipes, squirrel." Among the many entries was a 1935 recipe from the Port Arthur News, Port Arthur, Texas, for Brunswick Stew (an original squirrel recipe), and a little farther down in the same article a recipe for Squirrel Pie. In searching for recipes, you could also narrow the search by date, or even by ethnicity using the Collection Priority drop-down menu.

And true to the addage, "waste not want not," every bit of the squirrel was used. In addition to providing a meal, the skins might have been sold or personally used. Squirrel tail was (and is) used as a lure to catch fish (it was also used in the stew); the skins were used to make make banjo strings; squirrel pelts were used for hats, vests and blankets (and later, even fashionable women's coats); and the hide could also be tanned and made into a soft leather for pouches and other uses. And remember, this is history -- today it may seem almost barbaric, but for our ancestors, in many cases it was survival.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Where Is My Free Genealogy Data?

One of the things I like (and respect) about Thomas MacEntee is that he really puts himself out there, and his blog post today is another fine example as he revisited the question that I have heard at both small and large conferences, "Where Is My Free Genealogy?His post talks mostly to the service side of the industry (speaking, researching, etc), and so I wanted to briefly highlight some of the issues around making genealogy data accessible.

The following are the key components behind the "cost" of genealogy data: (1) acquiring the materials, (2) digitizing and transcribing it, (3) hosting it somewhere, and (4) providing search capabilities to mine through it all, and (5) achieving a higher level of quality and source-ability. And the more data you try to make available, the higher the costs in each of these areas.

Acquiring the Materials: For the most part, genealogical information is a plentiful resource, with treasure troves of data tucked away in libraries, churches, and local societies all over the country. Some resources, like cemetery tombstones, are simply sitting out there in the open. It's these smaller, more accessible items that are often posted online for free, typically at the generous effort of someone who volunteered their time to seek it out.

But, genealogists know the real value is in the larger collections, most of which have been microfilmed or remain locked away at state/national archives. Prior to the indexing efforts of FamilySearch, there were few if any large collections online for free. And don't be fooled into thinking that the stuff FamilySearch is posting online is "free"... it costs LOTS of money. We're just fortunate that they are absorbing all of those costs for the mutual benefit of the industry and their church members.

With my own project, for years I've been purchasing actual copies of the original documents that source the information in my database. Some of these items were produced in very low quantities and there are few remaining copies. Others are handwritten, one-of-a-kind, originals. I've spent an enormous amount of money putting together this collection.

Digitizing and Transcribing: While technology continues to improve, these two critical steps are very costly and time-consuming. Most of the larger companies delegate the work to offshore labor farms, where the costs are significantly lower. Even much of the online information you enjoy using was "Made in China," or some other country.

Whether a company is using offshore staff, or handling the process with our own citizens, the people doing the work deserve to be compensated for their time, and the costs add up. Think about this... whenever you visit your doctor or consult an attorney, a portion of the fee you pay them goes towards transcribing billing, insurance and medical information. The people that do that work get paid, so why do genealogists that the people transcribing genealogy data shouldn't?

Hosting the Data: Most genealogists that I've talked with (about this issue) have no clue as to just how expensive it is to host information online. They've simply seen too many examples (e.g. RootsWeb, etc.) where hosting pages of content is free or relatively inexpensive. But, that's not the type of service required to host large volumes of data and images. 

When Inc. acquired RootsWeb, they immediately felt the cost impact, which led them to place advertisements upon pages of free information. So, while the information remains "free" to use, we're forced to endure advertising and offers to join their service.

Adding Search Capabilities: Genealogy is not a simple process, and as a collection of information grows, the tools needed to search it effectively and efficiently become a costly challenge. You need teams of Programmers to create the tools, Database Administrators  to optimize the searches, and Designers to create productive  user experiences. These staffing requirements are not cheap.

Quality and Source-Ability: Prior to the major indexing efforts of, there were few projects that delivered free information with a high level of accuracy AND more importantly source-ability. One of my pet-peeves with a lot of free information posted on the Internet is that lacks clear source information, making it a challenge to utilize in your own research (if you are particular about that kind of thing). But, roll back the clock a few years, and even the industry leader, Inc., did only a mediocre job on this point.

When I decided back in 2003 to enter the genealogy data fray, data quality and accurate sourcing were two of the top priorities. I didn't always get it right, but I've continued to improve and expand in both of these areas. We get "excited" to see the information, but it's equally (or more) important to be able to identify where it originally came from, otherwise we have no way of verifying it's accuracy!

So, as you can see there are a lot of steps in the process from getting information from a piece of paper or microfilm to a searchable online database you can access from the comfort of your own home (or local library). It's great that FamilySearch is willing to commit millions of dollars to making their collection freely accessible, let's hope they are able to continue to do so for years to come.

But for the rest of the companies, and hard-working people who have chosen "genealogy" as a profession, the customer will most likely always be expected to help pay for these costs. And Thomas points out, genealogy services are very undervalued compared to other industries.

Being a small player in the genealogy industry, I am VERY appreciative of those researchers that support my project financially. But, it gets frustrating week after week trying to explain to those people who feel the need to complain (and some even with vulgar language) about my annual subscription which nets out to $0.09 per day. I keep asking myself, how is that so terribly unaffordable? And why is it necessary to be hostile about it?

Try adding up what you pay annually for your cellular phone or cable television and then calculate how much that costs per day... now that's something to be hostile about!

Thanks, Thomas, for reminding genealogists that the people working to make their research process easier and more fruitful "deserve" to be fairly (not barely) compensated.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Genealogy Today Expands Database Collection

This month we're pleased to announce that the Genealogy Today Subscription Data service has been expanded to include two unique research projects. Both projects were previously available only on CD-Rom, but now are online and searchable at Genealogy Today.

New England Early Genealogy Connections is a collection of 76,000+ records compiled by Alice Howe Palmer over the past fifteen years. This collection was started by Alice when it became clear that a database containing connected names could save significant amounts of time, effort and money for those searching for genealogy in the 1600+/- to 1700+/- time period.

Old Colony Ancestors is comprised of nearly 200,000 names with roots in Southeastern Massachusetts, complete with citations, containing information on over 57,000 marriages, with a total of more than 950,000 text records. Some families are followed for only 2-3 generations, but many are traced for up to 15 generations.

Both databases present their information in a tree format, allowing the researcher to traverse from individual to parents, spouses or children, depending on the facts. All of the names include any available basic data: birth, death, marriage dates, towns of residence, citations documenting sources.

Monday, April 2, 2012

1940 Census Edition of The Genealogy News

In just a few hours, the 1940 U. S. Census will be opened for public use. For  genealogists this has been a long time coming, and many are eager to begin the volunteer FamilySearch indexing project.

We've compiled the most popular news stories and articles into a special edition of The Genealogy News. This is a free service of Genealogy Today.

To read the Special 1940 Census edition, visit the News Center page and click on the link to open the Adobe Acrobat (PDF) formatted file. Included in this edition are links to all of the web sites that will be hosting 1940 Census indexes as they become available.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Did your Grandmother collect Buttons?

Button collecting was first recognized as an organized hobby through the founding of the National Button Society in 1938. Many state and local button clubs were established during the 1940's, and many of those clubs sponsored their own button shows.

We recently acquired and transcribed the member list from a copy of the National Button Society 1942-1943 Year Book. The listings include the member's present address and highlight how widespread this hobby had become just a few years after the national society was formed.

Do you collect buttons? Is this something your mother got you involved with? Did her mother collect? These are some of the questions a resource like an old membership list could help answer. In 1942, there were over 900 NBS members. Find out if any of your ancestors were members!

See also: National Button Society (official website), and Resources for the New Collector (Buttons In Time).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crescent College Students (1910-1915)

In 1908, the Eureka Springs Crescent Hotel was opened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women and served as an exclusive academy for wealthy ladies. Unfortunately, the school closed in 1924.

We recently acquired five annual catalogs for Crescent College and transcribed the names of the students and faculty. The years available include 1911-1912, 1912-1913, 1913-1914, 1914-1915 and 1915-1916. (Each catalog lists the students enrolled in the prior session)

The Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women was originally established in Little Rock, Ark., in 1898. It was non-sectarian and non-denominational, but distinctly Christian, and solicited its patronage from only the best and most refined families solely upon the merits of the institution. The building was erected originally for a high-class hotel, and nothing was spared to make it comfortable, convenient, attractive and safe. It is at once the most complete and substantial building and the most magnificent and expensively constructed property in the United States used as a young women's College.

For more details on the school, read the Crescent College historical sketch taken from the 1911-1912 catalog.

See also: Crescent College and Conservatory (The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture Project) and The Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs (Haunted Arkansas).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Was your ancestor a Commission Merchant?

National League of Commission Merchants of the United StatesWe recently posted a 1926 membership list for the National League of Commission Merchants, along with some background materials on the organization. While the list only identifies the member company owners, it offers some interesting information about their business.

For example, the A. J. Lemkau Co., Inc. in New York City was a produce distributor with a specialty of Celery. All of the sudden, you've got a unique fact that you may not have known before. What I love about these kinds of clues is that they open up new ways to search newspapers of the time. Instead of just focusing on the name, you can search for any mentions of Lemkau and CELERY!

If you'd like to learn more about the National League of Commission Merchants of the United States, I've posted an NLCM Overview and also an NLCM Historical Sketch, both from this original document.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Exclusive Data: Greene County, Tennessee Delinquent Tax List of 1892

Here is an interesting item for all you genealogy seekers. It is a small handwritten ledger of delinquent tax payers in District 6 of Greene County, Tenn. The book lists the names of each delinquent tax payer, the amount they owed, and when (if) they paid up. This is the original ledger, so you're not likely to find this information on any other genealogy website.

There are hundreds of handwritten documents in the Genealogy Today collection; however, only a few have been transcribed thus far. Expect to see more added to the database this year.

Please like/follow/recommend this item, if you agree that original materials such as this Green County tax list are helpful to your research.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Genealogy Today offers additional Real-Time Search Results

Genealogy Today logoEarlier this month, real-time search results from were added to the improved search engine at Genealogy Today. And today, results from the historical newspaper collection at were integrated.

These add-on searches work in parallel to whatever you've searched for within the Genealogy Today collection, and provide results using the same criteria. Click on one of these partner links and you'll be presented with matching listings without leaving our web site. If you find something of interest, click and visit the partner web site. As these are subscription sites, you'll need to subscribe to see the full details.

Here's what the results look like:

Examples of real-time search results at Genealogy Today

What makes these two additions different from the 19 other integrated real-time search results? Well, with these two resources, you can click down and view individual record detail; whereas, most of the other integrated searches only provide summary information on our web site, and you need to click to the partner for details. In some cases, however, the summary information may be more than you'll find at the partner web site if you're not a subscriber, making the Genealogy Today search engine an essential tool for genealogists.

The time savings is remarkable, as you are able to click from one search partner to another without having to re-key in your search criteria and/or navigate your way to the search box on their web site. Needless to say, I've received fantastic feedback from librarians, who are often challenged to find quick results for eager patrons.

Give the improved search engine at Genealogy Today a try.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mocavo vs. Google: Post-Match Analysis

I hope you've enjoyed this little demonstration, matching the search engine capabilities of Mocavo and Google. The items that I had selected were done so at random; they are names/records that I've never looked at before, but was familiar of the sites that hosted them. It was something I wanted to do for my own understanding of the two search engines, and thought it might be helpful to share with others.

While the idea of a free genealogy search engine sounds great, there are two important factors to consider: first, limiting your search to free resources leaves out a significant number of matches in commercial resources (which include most modern books still in copyright, like all of the records compiled by companies like Genealogical Publishing Company, and the extensive newspaper collection at Genealogy Bank).

And second, who is to say what is a genealogical resource? In limiting your search to a collection deemed to be "genealogy resources" you may fail to locate mentions of your ancestors in other online materials. But that's no different to visiting a library that hosts a genealogy room; where I've found many interesting family history information in books located in other sections of the library.

Genealogists really need a comprehensive search engine that indexes all materials, free and commercial, because at the end of the day, they want to find their ancestors -- even if it means that they have to pay out a little bit of money (sites like Ancestry now offer very affordable monthly options), or travel to the library (or archive) that has a copy of the document.

This was by no means an attempt to cast a negative shadow upon Mocavo, but merely a litmus test of how well they've progressed in their mission. On February first, they announced a major partnership with the Allen County Public Library, and the addition of a historical record storage and sharing platform -- the latter being a significant move towards bringing large amounts of new information online.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mocavo vs. Google: Round #3

New Castle Public Library's Marriage/Obituary Database
Welcome to Round #3, the final round, of the free genealogy search engine challenge, where we've seen newcomer Francisco Mocavo take a beating from long-time favorite Elmer Google. In this round, each contender will be asked to locate the 1942 marriage announcement record for Lt. Carroll Smithson and Elizabeth Czar in the New Castle Public Library's Marriage/Obituary Database.

The fighters step into the ring, touch gloves and await the ring of the bell. Francisco is moving a bit slower than in the previous rounds, and Elmer looks calm and confident. This time, Elmer Google throws the first punch, just missing Francisco, with some close matches on the search for "Carroll Smithson marriage 1942." Francisco swings back, and misses with listings for Carroll County outranking any with the first name "Carroll."

Elmer quickly throws a second punch, this time landing with a four position result on the search "Smithson Czar 1942 marriage." Francisco Mocavo unsuccessfully counters with a list of results mostly from online books from the project.

Both fighters realize the end of the round is approaching and there's just one last chance to aim for a knockout... Elmer takes a swing with "Smithson, Lt. Carroll and Czar, Elizabeth marriage," landing a direct hit and a number one position in the search results. Francisco is visibly shaken, and seems to have run out of energy. The same search yields 25 matches, but since the search engine only allows you to see the first page of results without registering, the referee cannot tell if the search engine was even able to find a close match.

And there goes the final bell ring, signalling the end of Round #3. The crowd is going wild, and Ricky Ancestry, who loves to show off, steps into the ring... entering Carroll + Smithson + marriage event + 1942 yields our intended record in the number one position. Yes, that's right, Ancestry indexes free records as well, all clearly labelled with "Web:" in the title.

The referee returns to the center of the ring with the judges' scorecards and declares Elmer Google as the winner of Round #3. That makes the overall challenge winner Google in a 3-0 victory over Mocavo.

Stay tuned for our post-match analysis.

New database of Homesteaders and their Descendants under development

The Friends of Homestead National Monument of America are developing a database of homesteaders and descendants.

The Homestead Act of 1862 transferred more than 270 million acres of land, or 10% of the nation, from Federal to private ownership. The only monetary payment for each 160 acre claim was an $18 filing fee. The Act  provided a robust opportunity for westward development of this country, and the needs of the homesteaders resulted in an explosion of inventions, industrial applications, and developments in agriculture, finance, art, photography, communications, transportation, medicine and much more.

Homestead National Monument of America, located in Southeast Nebraska, commemorates this Act and the far-reaching effects it had upon the landscape and people. And now the HNMA is seeking your help in locating people who filed claims under the Homestead Act. The goal is to locate and record the experiences of remaining homesteaders before the opportunity is lost.

For details, refer to the "Are You a Homesteader or Descendant?" section on the National Park Service home page.

Additional reading:
"Genealogy and Homestead Records" (PDF)
"Daniel Freeman 1st Homesteader"
"Homestead Records Groundbreaking Genealogy Research"

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mocavo vs. Google: Round #2

Welcome to Round #2 of the free genealogy search engine challenge. While newcomer Francisco Mocavo took some blows from the crowd favorite Elmer Google; he looks well-rested and ready for more action. In this round, each contender will be asked to locate a certificate of citizenship for Henry A. Foye in Arapahoe County, Colorado, 1894. I found this document at the Naturalization Records web site hosted by Olive Tree Genealogy.

The fighters step into the ring, touch gloves and await the ring of the bell. Francisco, eager to prove himself, charges at Elmer, but isn't able to connect on the search for "Henry Foye." While Mocavo provided about 4,488 search results, none on the first page were the citizenship certificate. Elmer tries to counter, but also misses with this broad criteria.

Francisco shuffles around a bit, then winds up what looks to be a knockout punch, but misses again, this time in the search for "Foye 1894 citizenship." Elmer spins around and his Francsico cleanly on the chin with the number one result being the page.

Francisco looks visibly shaken, but still musters the energy for one more attempt, but strikes out on the search for "Foye 1894 Arapahoe." Elmer lands another punch, with the number one result again.

The bell rings, and that's the end of Round #2. As the fighters return to their corners, here comes Ricky Ancestry again looking to show off. Ricky dazzles the crowd with an 1890 Denver, Colorado city directory listing, and a 1900 U.S. Census record showing Henry A. Foye living with his wife, Mary and their five children on South Pennsylvania Ave.(1)

The referee returns to the center of the ring with the judges' scorecards and declares Elmer Google as the winner of Round #2. Looks like the fighters need a break, check back tomorrow for Round #3 of the free genealogy search engine challenge.

(1) United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. (Courtesy

Thursday, February 2, 2012

U.K. Genealogy Company enters U.S. Market with a Census Splash

Today at RootsTech 2012, brightsolid announced its entry into the US genealogy market with the launch of a "pay-as-you-go" web site named that will let customers search all US census records from 1790 to 1930 and will house the 1940 US census records when they are released later this year.

"In short, will offer greater choice, flexibility and affordability," says Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of brightsolid. "Those researching their family histories will now be able to choose which payment method best suits their needs and their budget."

Visitors to will be able to search for free, but will have to pay if they wish to view documents, and download them to their computer. They will be offered the option of either buying a subscription in the conventional way or buying pay-as-you-go credits, starting at $7.95. Pay-as-you-go customers will be able to buy further credits at any time, giving them the freedom to spend as much or as little time and money on their research as they want. This approach to online database access has been commonplace in the U.K. for many years, but has yet to be successfully deployed in the U.S. market.

"The launch of is just our first offering to the US market," added van der Kuyl. "It will be followed later this year by the launch of, which will be our flagship American brand."

Since 1994, the brightsolid group has been delivering online innovation and pioneering the expansion of the genealogy market with leading family history websites including the findmypast global network, ScotlandsPeople, a partnership between the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Court of the Lord Lyon, and GenesReunited, together servicing over 18 million registered customers worldwide.

Genealogists get ready for an interesting year, filled with new resources ( and service options (pay-as-you-go), as overseas companies like brightsold and MyHeritage bring their years of experience to the U.S. market. This should prove to be more exciting than the 2006 launch of Footnote (now and owned by Ancestry) and WorldVitalRecords (turned and now owned by MyHeritage).

Mocavo vs. Google: Round #1

Gate of Heaven Cemetery and Mausoleum
Welcome to Round #1 of the free genealogy search engine challenge, pitting newcomer Francisco Mocavo against the crowd favorite Elmer Google. In this round, each contender will be asked to locate the burial record for Silvio Archilei, b. 1915, d. 1995. I randomly picked this name from a transcription of the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Hanover, New Jersey located at -- probably the largest online collection of cemetery records.

Throwing the first punch, Francisco Mocavo misses, with 1 result found for "Silvio Archilei," at Find A Grave. Elmer Google attempts to counter, and scores with a link to the Interment listing in position number four on the first page.

After dancing around the ring for a few moments, Francisco Movaco throws a left jab, and misses again in the search for "Archilei 1915 1995." Elmer ducks to avoid the jab, tries to counter and lands another punch, with the Interment listing at position number three.

Francisco looks a little shaken, but gathers himself and takes one last shot at Elmer, but misses in the search for "Silvio Archilei burial 1995," with no results. Elmer, barely breaking a sweat, returns the Interment link in the number one position for this query.

The bell rings, and that's the end of Round #1. As the fighters return to their corners, Ricky Ancestry steps down from the bleachers, beats his chest and offers the SSDI record and a 1930 U.S. Census record on a search for "Silvio Archilei." The 1930 Census shows Silvio (age 14) living with his widowed mother, Erminia, in Orange, New Jersey.(1)

The referee returns to the center of the ring with the judges' scorecards and declares Elmer Google as the winner of Round #1. Looks like the fighters need a rest, check back tomorrow for Round #2 of the free genealogy search engine challenge.

(1) United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. (Courtesy of

Mocavo vs. Google: The 2012 Showdown

In the past year, genealogists have been given a new option for locating free online resources. So, has it helped? While there have been a lot of positive reviews of Mocavo, launched in March 2011; I thought it would be interesting to put it to a test against the search market leader, Google.

Please note, this is a fictional portrayal of a bout between two search engines. The searches will be real, but the rest is simply intended to make this challenge more entertaining.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 2012 genealogy search engine showdown. This three-round title fight will challenge each search engine to locate a specific ancestor (that I have already located online). The winner of each round will be decided by the number of clicks and/or search attempts until the pre-determined record appears on the first page of search results. Failure to locate a record may result in the referee declaring a technical knock-out. In the event of a tie at the end of the three rounds, there will be a sudden-death-record search off.

In the red corner, weighing in at 150 pounds, Francisco Mocavo, who trains in Boulder, Colorado with coach Cliff Shaw. Cliff has been quoted as saying, "The market has been begging for it for over a decade. It's tough to say why others haven't tried, but there are definitely some serious technical hurdles to building a large-scale search engine, especially one as fast as Mocavo."(1)

And in the blue corner, weighing in at 175 pounds, Elmer Google, who has traveled all the way from Mountain View, California, with coaches Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Assisting in the blue corner is genealogical advisor, Dan Lynch -- author of Google Your Family Tree -- who tosses his own thoughts into the ring: "Sure, the fact that these services are free doesn't hurt . . . genealogists like free . . . but it's the relevancy of results and spectacular finds that keep us coming back day after day."(2)

Here are the challenges: Round #1: Burial record of Silvio Archilei, b. 1915, d. 1995. Round #2: Citizenship record for Henry A. Foye, 1894. Round #3: Marriage record for Carroll Smithson, 1942. The referee will start each round by searching for the name alone, and then adding one more fact with each search attempt. At the end of each round, there will be a brief intermission where heavyweight Ricky "Tricky" Ancestry with coach Tim Sullivan will attempt to locate the same ancestor.

What's your favorite search engine for genealogy research? Will you be cheering for Team Movaco? Or Team Google? Stay tuned as Round #1 of the free genealogy search engine challenge match takes place later today.

This event is neither endorsed nor sanctioned by any of the people mentioned above.

(1) "LAUNCH Instant 001: Mocavo," March 18, 2011.
(2) "Google Filtering Techniques For Family History Research," January 28, 2011.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hussar Jacket from the 3rd N. J. Cavalry on Display

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, in partnership with the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, presents a major exhibit, “Gone for a Soldier:” Jerseymen in the Civil War, which will be on view until July 1, 2012. Included in the exhibit is an 1863 wool Hussar jacket from the 3rd N.J. Cavalry on loan from a private collection.

Christened "The 1st U. S. Hussars" (a.k.a. The Trenton Hussars) the 3rd NJ Volunteer Cavalry’s eye-catching and distinctly European uniform was based on those worn by the troopers of Austria.

A Federal infantryman, imprisoned at Andersonville, was quoted as saying, "We dubbed these daffodil cavaliers 'Butterflies' and the name stuck to them like poor relations." The regiment defied the nickname and proved to be adept fighters, seeing hard service with the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac in the Shenandoah Valley and through to the war's end at Appomattox.

This, and other artifacts from the U. S. Civil War, are on exhibit at the Macculloch Hall Historical Museum. See our post, "U.S. Civil War Jerseymen Museum Exhibit in Morristown, New Jersey," for details.

Additional Reading: 3rd New Jersey Cavalry, The Butterfly HussarsA Horse to Ride and a Sword to WieldThese "Butterflies" have the Sting of a Wasp, and New Jersey Butterfly Boys in the Civil War (Peter Lubrecht, The History Press, Charleston, SC, 2011).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Historical Society of Pennsylvania Shares Birth, Marriage and Death Records with announced today that it has added, in partnership with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, over seven million records detailing more than 300 years of Pennsylvanians’ life history spanning from 1593-1908.

"The Historical Society of Pennsylvania decided to partner with to make more than seven million of our vital records more accessible to family historians," said Kim Sajet, president and CEO of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

The newest vital record additions, containing information from each county in the state of Pennsylvania, include:

  • Pennsylvania, Births, Church and Town Records, 1593-1708: The documents in this database are primarily Protestant church records from congregations in Pennsylvania, but there are additional sources as well, including funeral homes, cemeteries, newspapers, historical societies, and personal records, among others. (Original data: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania)
  • Pennsylvania, Naturalizations, 1794-1908: This database contains records created as aliens applied for U.S. citizenship through Pennsylvania courts. They include petitions for citizenship, certificates of citizenship, court naturalization lists, and other documents. (Original data: Supreme Court Naturalization Papers, 1794-1908. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission)

Kim added, "The vital records we have posted to are just a small portion of the genealogical records here at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. We welcome anyone interested in family history to visit our library in Center City Philadelphia."

These new vital record databases are available to current subscribers and can be found at

#RootsTech 2012: Download the Free Conference App to your Phone

Available for iPhone, Android, and other systems, The RootsTech App is easy to download and simple to use. While not a full replacement for the conference materials and syllabus, the app packs a lot of helpful features, particularly the schedule and maps which will certainly help you navigate around the Salt Palace.

The RootsTech app includes the following features: My Schedule, Maps (of the Salt Palace including the Exhibit Hall), Events, Speakers, Conference Documents, Photo Gallery, Videos, Twitter, Friends and News (from the official bloggers).

Here are links to download the free programs:

The RootsTech 2012 Conference App was developed by Core-Apps.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#RootsTech 2012: Let the Countdown Begin!

Check out this short promotional video. Discover emerging technologies and devices to improve your research; Learn from hands-on workshops and interactive presentations; Collaborate with technology creators to advance family.

RootsTech 2011
  • 3,000 registered attendees from 42 U.S. states, four Canadian provinces and 12 additional countries
  • 4,711 virtual attendees for streaming sessions
  • More than 40 key bloggers attended from Australia, Canada, Israel, the U.K. and the U.S.
  • 17 official sponsors: Microsoft, Dell,, brightsolid, BYU, NGS, NEHGS, FGS, Oracle, Novell, ViaWest, Family History Expos,, UTC, IIMI, Sprint
  • 94% of attendees reported they were very satisfied or satisfied with the value of the information received at RootsTech

“The scope of the RootsTech conference was unique. We wanted to try to fulfill a need to bring technology users (family history buffs and anyone interested in genealogy) and technology creators (developers, programmers, engineers) together in a unique, fun environment to collaborate and move the genealogy industry forward through technology,” said Anne Roach, RootsTech 2011 conference chair.

How will RootsTech 2012 compare? We'll find out in just EIGHT more days!

If you're attending, make you don't miss these major announcements: brightsolid is Coming to America with New Genealogy Product and Founder and CEO of MyHeritage to unveil New Research System.

(Source for RootsTech 2011 statistics:

Civil War Canteen Saves N. J. Infantryman's Life in 1862

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, in partnership with the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, presents a major exhibit, “Gone for a Soldier:” Jerseymen in the Civil War, which will be on view until July 1, 2012. Among the many objects in the exhibit is an 1862 bullet struck canteen, on loan from the Cape May County Museum.

Lower Township resident Swain Reeves was a corporal in Company A, 7th N.J. Volunteer Infantry and was wounded at Gettysburg in July, 1863 and again at Petersburg in June, 1864. The last wound confined him to Lincoln Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Swain Reeves enlisted as a Private on 23 August 1861, and then joined Company A, 7th Infantry Regiment New Jersey on 23 Aug 1861. Promoted to Full Corporal on 18 Jun 1864, and mustered out Company A, 7th Infantry Regiment New Jersey on 7 Oct 1864 at Trenton, NJ. (Historical Data Systems, comp., American Civil War Soldiers [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999)

Reeves credited his canteen for deflecting the bullet that struck him at Petersburg and preventing an even more severe injury.

This, and other artifacts from the U. S. Civil War, are on exhibit at the Macculloch Hall Historical Museum. See our post, "U.S. Civil War Jerseymen Museum Exhibit in Morristown, New Jersey," for details.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

#RootsTech 2012: brightsolid is Coming to America with New Genealogy Product

brightsolid CEO Chris van der Kuyl will be announcing the launch of a new product into the U.S. market at RootsTech, the major family history and technology conference, taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah from 2-4 February 2012.

Van der Kuyl will address a brightsolid-sponsored lunch on Thursday, 2 February with a talk on, “Why Everyone Deserves Their Own Episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and How brightsolid Will Help You Get There.” brightsolid has been at the forefront of technological innovations in family history for over three decades. It hosts over a billion genealogical records across its family of brands and was this month voted Best Genealogy Organisation in the online Gene Awards.

Since 1994, brightsolid group has been delivering online innovation and pioneering the expansion of the genealogy market with leading family history  websites including the global network of findmypast sites, plus  ScotlandsPeople, GenesReunited, and, together servicing over 18 million registered customers worldwide. Over the past year, brightsolid’s online publishing portfolio has introduced new and improved collections.

brightsolid is also proud to be part of the 1940 US Census Community Project, a joint initiative with, FamilySearch and other leading genealogy organisations, which aims to make the census searchable as quickly as possible after its release. The completion of the project will allow anyone to search for their ancestors in the 1940 census for free online."

At brightsolid we are committed to making family history accessible for all and believe access to these records will transform the family history market in the US,” commented Van der Kuyl.

brightsolid online innovation is owned by Publisher DC Thomson

Monday, January 23, 2012

#RootsTech 2012: Founder and CEO of MyHeritage to unveil New Research System

According to Daniel Horowitz, MyHeritage's Chief Genealogist, on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012, at the second RootsTech annual conference, MyHeritage CEO and Founder, Gilad Japhet will demonstrate a new online genealogy research system.

Recently, Israel-based MyHeritage acquired and, in a strategic move to enter the U.S. genealogy market. This was another in a series of acquisitions which have included Pearl Street Software, makers of and the Family Tree Legends software; free family tree backup service; European family social network market leader OSN (Verwandt) GmbH; Dutch family network ZOOOF; British family network and Polish family network MyHeritage is also the company that made waves several years ago when they developed and released facial recognition, a powerful photo-matching tool for genealogists.

It will be exciting to see if this new genealogy research system will provide an integrated search across the genealogical data they have amassed. If you're attending RootsTech 2012, be sure to get to the exhibit hall on Thursday February 2nd, from 1:30pm - 2:00 pm for a sneak demo and preview of some its (according to Daniel) amazing new features.

U.S. Civil War Jerseymen Museum Exhibit in Morristown, New Jersey

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, in partnership with the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, presents a major exhibit, “Gone for a Soldier:” Jerseymen in the Civil War, which will be on view until July 1, 2012.

This exhibit commemorates the participation and heroism of Jerseymen in a major turning point in U.S. history, and will bring together nearly two hundred objects from the Civil War from nearly thirty museums, historical societies, and private collections.

Among the many objects in the exhibit illustrating the significance of Jerseymen’s actions in the Civil War is an 1862 bullet struck canteen, on loan from the Cape May County Museum. Also on exhibit is an 1863 wool Hussar jacket from the 3rd N. J. Cavalry on loan from a private collection.

The museum also holds the largest single collection of Thomas Nast original works in the United States. Among this collection are many of Nast’s drawings of Civil War subjects such as A Gallant Color-Bearer (Harper’s Weekly, September 20, 1862) and The Drummer Boy of Our Regiment in Action (Harper’s Weekly, December 19, 1863), which were generally thought to influence the course of the war.

For museum hours and additional details about this special exhibit, visit the Macculloch Hall Historical Museum web site. You may also want to purchase a copy of the full-color, 140 pg. catalog to the exhibit, “Gone for a Soldier: Jerseymen in the Civil War”.

The Macculloch Hall Historical Museum (45 Macculloch Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey) preserves the history of the Macculloch-Miller families, the Morris area community, and the legacy of its founder W. Parsons Todd through its historic site, collections, exhibits, and educational and cultural programs. The museum has its own connections to Civil War history. Lindley Hoffman Miller, son of U.S. Senator Jacob Miller and grandson of George and Louisa Macculloch, led the First Regiment of Arkansas Volunteers of African Descent. Commissioned as a captain in 1863, Miller shared his war experience through letters to his family, which are on special display at the museum through December 22nd.

Union County, New Jersey, Civil War Sesquicentennial Exhibit

Civil War monument in Fairview Cemetery
The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Union County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee announce the opening of an exhibit to commemorate Union County’s role in the U. S. Civil War of 1861-65.

“This exhibit of Civil War artifacts and photographs will focus on the unique contributions of Union County citizens to the war effort,” said Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, chairman of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee. “We’ll place special emphasis on the experiences of Union County residents in the areas of the home front, the military, and the economic and political life of the County.”

The exhibit is scheduled to open on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 2 p.m. in the Union County Courthouse, 2 Broad Street, Elizabeth, New Jersey. The Civil War commemorative exhibit will be on display until 2015 and the displays will change from time to time.

For additional details, and to reserve a seat at the exhibit opening, visit the UCNJ web site.

About the Civil War monument pictured in this post: The Civil War monument in Fairview Cemetery in Westfield was “Erected by the citizens of Westfield and Vicinity to commemorate the services of the soldiers and sailors of Union County who served in the war for the Union,” its inscription reads. A series of photographs featuring Civil War monuments throughout Union County will be part of the exhibit.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kansas Drivers can now access Genealogy Records at Ancestry for Free

Kansas Historical Society
The Kansas Historical Society announced a partnership with allowing individuals with a valid Kansas driver's license free access to more than 8 million Kansas records on the popular family history website.

“This partnership allows genealogists, historians, and other researchers access to records with genealogical information otherwise only available when visiting the State Archives in Topeka,” said Pat Michaelis, State Archives director. Users visit and enter their name, date of birth, and Kansas driver’s license number. The number is authenticated, and the user is directed to

It's quite remarkable that a society could coordinate getting access to a state drivers license database that it then authenticates users to so they can access a genealogy web site. Has anyone heard of similar arrangements with other state historical societies?

To see the full announcement, read "Free Access to Selected Kansas Archives on" (PDF)

First Forensic Genealogy Institute Slated for October 2012

Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy
The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) just announced the first Forensic Genealogy Institute. It will be held October 25 through October 27, 2012, in Dallas, Texas, at the Wyndham Dallas Love Field hotel.

The Forensic Genealogy Institute offers twenty hours of significant hands-on instruction with real-world work examples, resources, sample forms and work materials. This intensive course was designed by professional forensic genealogists for working professional genealogists.

Formally established in March 2011, the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy is a professional business league dedicated to forensic genealogy.

For additional details, visit "Announcing the Forensic Genealogy Institute"

Want to know How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers?

Everything You Need to Know About... How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers
There's a new genealogy book on the horizon, this time from the Genealogy Gem herself, Lisa Louise Cooke. The blogger, podcaster and author has sent Everything You Need to Know About... How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers off to the presses, and has an offer on her blog to pre-order a copy and haved it signed (hopefully by the author... he he).

Here's a quick run down of the table of contents: An Exciting and Exasperating Record Group; What to Look For in Newspapers; Top 10 Tips to Remember Before Starting Your Search; The Newspaper Search Process; How to Identify Newspapers that Meet Your Criteria; Online Digitized Newspaper Collections; Portal Websites; Need More Help? Here's Who You Should Ask; African American Newspapers; Caring for Newspaper Clippings; along with several helpful website and library lists.

Lisa writes that she "really wanted to find a record of [her] Great Grandparents marriage in the newspapers. They were married just a year or two before the Great San Francisco Earthquake rocked the county courthouse. The official record no longer exists. Newspapers were [her] last hope." Her successes serve as a case study in Chapter 11.

To find out more about Lisa's new book, visit "Pre-Order Now Available for Signed Copies of How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers." I'm a fan of Lisa's other contributions to genealogy, and am sure this publication will be a valuable research resource for genealogists.

Personal information for more than 2,200 Veterans accidentally posted on Genealogy website

It's hard to believe, but according to an article in Stars and Stripes, more than 2,200 veterans had their personal information accidentally posted on the genealogy website last year. Apparently, some Department of Veterans Affairs officials supplied the information to in March 2011 as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. The records were supposed to only contain information on deceased veterans, but also included more than 2,200 living veterans due to a department error.

Since Genealogy Today tracks all new releases from database publishers, it was pretty easy to figure out the database in question. Looks like it was the "U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010," released on November 1st, 2011 and no longer accessible.

According to a statement released by Jerry Davis, the VA's chief information security officer, all of the information has been removed from, but it makes you wonder why it took so long for them to discover this error.

For additional details, read the Stars and Stripes article, "Veterans' personal information accidentally posted on"

Genealogy Today Wrap-Up for January 20, 2012

Not the day that I expected, but most never are... didn't get to work on the items I planned to, but instead focused on the Genealogy Today blog, search enhancements, permanent links for menu items and monthly site cleanup chores (guided by Google's Webmaster Tools).

I've decided to let the Genealogy Today blog (hosted by be a "blog" and not try to force it into the design layout of the rest of the web site. This will allow the use of the Blogger widgets, which promote social networking of the information that gets posted.

One of the more visible changes made today to the Genealogy Today search are the real-time results from the service. There are more features like this in the works. Oh, did you get a chance to read Randy Seaver's blog post at GeneaMusings about the improved Genealogy Today Search? He does a nice job (with screen shots) of showing off some of the features.

This is a weird item, but it should save me some time in the future... I went through the site layout/design and setup "permanent" URL's for the menu items which call dynamic pages. Sounds simple, and I'm kicking myself for not doing this years ago. Well, it's a geek thing, and kind of boring, but it's done and will begin propagating around the site next week.

And the last item is my review of Google's Webmaster Tools analysis of the site, and this month it found a bunch of mistakes made with some inter-page links. All cleaned up, so no more "page not found" errors. Google's WT is really a great tool for managing large amounts of content, and it's free!

One more thought, did you read the article "Is your Genealogy in the Clouds?: Cloud Computing for Genealogists" posted yesterday? Nice explanation of the cloud computing concept, its uses and value to genealogy, in addition to highlighting a variety of services -- many of which are free, that allow researchers to store data online and access it from anywhere there is an Internet connection. Of course, if you were signed up for The Genealogy News, you wouldn't have missed it!

While I was hoping to get some new data transcribed, I can still go to sleep knowing Genealogy Today is better off than it was before the day started! Happy Searching!

Friday, January 20, 2012

All in a Day's Work at Genealogy Today

Genealogy Today logoJust about every day of the week, something at Genealogy Today is improved, or new data records added, and that got me to thinking that perhaps I should write a short blog update at the end of the day. Looking back at my blogging history, I tend to only create updates for things that (I think) are the most interesting. And perhaps some genealogists would find the smaller changes interesting as well.

So, starting today (or tonight actually), I'll begin posting a summary of the day's activity. If you find it too terribly boring, just post a comment (or reply via Twitter) and let me know. By the way, are you following me on Twitter? If not, I would appreciate the support! Twitter ID: @illyadaddezio

I was also thinking of starting up a series of blog posts where I grab a screen capture from somewhere on the web site and explain what the particular service/feature is all about. Might be helpful in conjunction with the nightly posts to get feedback on specific areas that have been (or need to be) improved.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Genealogy Today gets a Haircut and a Shave for 2012

Genealogy Today logoWell, maybe a mini-facelift too (but I'll never tell). This weekend the search engine at Genealogy Today was released with a faster, simpler version that (and here's the key benefit) offers better results. In addition to the search improvements, the home page was redesigned and the site navigation was improved.

The improved search combines free and paid resources into a single result set, highlighting new and updated items. External resources are clearly identified with "Web:" before their titles, and free items announce themselves with a Free! indicator. There's also a new line at the top of the search results that displays the criteria used in the search. And (did I mention that) the Genealogy Today search is now much faster, more consistent between the different types of records and offers better results (for special cases and name variations).

Released with the search engine (as you might expect) is an improved search form that allows you to filter free/paid, local/external and restrict "fuzzy" name logic. The new form also does a better job of keeping track of what you've just searched on, and as you drill down into the databases, offers options to reverse direction and expand your search.

Still in the works... support for searching alternate names (e.g. maiden, married, nicknames, typos) and a real-time checker for external resources to better handle moved/dead links. And, of course, there will lots of new data added during 2012!

While the search engine may not look all that different on the surface, it drives a lot better... so go ahead and take the improved search engine for a test drive...