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...