Saturday, November 22, 2008

Genetic Genealogy Companies Under Fire - Comment

While prowling around my newsletters looking for a hook for my next newspaper column I ran across the blog article below on "Genetic Genealogy Companies Under Fire" on the Family Tree magazine blog. See

Now I am not going to beat up on Diane who posted the piece on the Family Tree Blog. I'm aiming at the fools at the ASHG and their statement issued at

Personally to stereotype all DNA testing companies by saying that they "aren't doing enough to make sure you understand the limitations and implications of DNA testing," is misleading at least and intellectually dishonest at best.

In their press release at the link above they made the following assumption,

"Ancestry testing is done on an individual basis, in an attempt to determine the ancestral origins or population(s) of origin for a person or family."

It is obvious these intellectuals do not have a clue what the majority of genealogist use DNA testing for. Like a majority of the genealogist who test, I was looking for guidance through Y-DNA to give me research guidance on my Vanhorn ancestoral line (narrowing down the candidates to advance my research). Do I care about haplogroups - nope. I understand the limitations.

If there are companies out there selling that sort of testing, I support the ASHG in their concerns. But to stereotype all DNA testing companies and genealogist in their use of DNA testing as they did in their press release, you folks need to get a grip and issue an apology.

I did my DNA testing with FamilytreeDNA

Monday, July 21, 2008

FamilySearch-Ancestry - New Images and Enhanced Indexes to the U.S. Censuses and FamilySearch, the two largest online family history resources, announced today they will exchange records and resources to make more historical records available online. The first project is a joint initiative to significantly enhance the online U.S. Federal Census Collection (1790 to 1930). The original census records are among the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

FamilySearch is digitally converting master microfilm copies of the original U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 through 1930 and, under this agreement, will give these improved images to All census images and indexes will be available on for subscribers. As projects are completed, images will be available for free in NARA reading rooms and FamilySearch’s 4,500 Family History Centers., which currently offers indexes and images to the entire publicly available U.S. Federal Census Collection, will give FamilySearch copies of its existing census indexes. Through its online indexing system and community of volunteer indexers, FamilySearch is already indexing select censuses. FamilySearch will merge the indexes with the new FamilySearch indexes to create enhanced census indexes, which will be added to both sites. Indexes to the enhanced censuses will be free on for a limited time as they are completed. Indexes will also be available for free on

Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States, welcomed this agreement as a significant benefit for researchers. He remarked that, “Census records are among the most important documents the American people have to trace their genealogy and know their family history. Having two of our partners working together to enhance the indexes and images of these essential documents will enable an unprecedented level of access and understanding.”

The first census exchanged is the 1900 U.S. Census. FamilySearch completed a 1900 index in addition to’s original. In the new index, FamilySearch added several new fields of searchable data, such as birth month and birth year, so individuals can search for ancestors more easily. The two indexes will be merged into an enhanced index, available on both sites. The new 1900 census images are now available on The enhanced 1900 index will be available for free for a limited time at and ongoing at will also provide FamilySearch its original 1920 U.S. Census index. Using the index as a first transcription, FamilySearch will create a new second index with added fields and arbitrate any discrepancies between the two indexes. The 1920 project is currently in progress. Individuals interested in helping create the improved index can volunteer at Once completed, the enhanced 1920 index will be available on both sites and will link back to images on

The 1850 through 1870 (partial) and 1880 and 1900 U.S. Censuses can be searched currently at; all publicly available U.S. Censuses are already available on

Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of, said, “This collaboration represents a significant step forward in making family history research more accessible. The enhanced U.S. Federal Census Collection that will become available through this agreement is a gold mine for family history researchers, and we look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch in identifying other opportunities to help people discover their roots.”

“The U.S. Censuses are arguably the most important collection of U.S. genealogical records. FamilySearch is excited to see the complete, improved indexes of these collections freely available online over the next two years. And we look forward to working with to enhance access to additional, significant collections in the future,” said Jay Verkler, Managing Director for FamilySearch.

Broaden Access to All Censuses for England and Wales by FamilySearch

FamilySearch announced today that it is joining forces with, The Origins Network, and Intelligent Image Management—companies that specialize in providing online access to British family history resources—to make significant British historical record collections more broadly available online. The first joint initiative seeks to publish online indexes to censuses for England and Wales from 1841 to 1901. The 1841 and 1861 Census indexes are the first targeted under the agreement and are accessible now at and

In the agreement, FamilySearch, in conjunction with The Origins Network, will provide digital images for the 1851, 1871, and 1881 Censuses. It will also extend the 1871 Census index. will provide FamilySearch copies of its English and Welsh Census indexes from 1841 to 1901. The Federation of Family History Societies will help complete the index for the 1851 Census.

Initially, users of will be able to do a free search by record type, given name, surname, age, gender, place of birth, and relationship to head of household (relationship was not recorded in the 1841 Census). The free search capability at will include additional fields of data in the future. Users will be able to search the full indexes and view original images for free at FamilySearch’s 4,500 Family History Centers or for a nominal fee at

The addition of’s English and Welsh Census Collections to FamilySearch’s online databases will increase the use of the valuable record sets and increase traffic to

Jay L. Verkler, Managing Director for FamilySearch, said, “The new images and additional information provided by FamilySearch will significantly enhance and improve the overall English and Welsh Census collection. And its addition to will increase awareness of the rich Web resources of FamilySearch affiliates and the likelihood of success for patrons doing British research.”

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at, commented, “ is delighted to be working with FamilySearch to launch the British Census Collection online. Censuses are the core building blocks for family historians and genealogists alike, and now, at last, here is the definitive version. This has been a very exciting project for us, and we look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch in the future to bring other important collections to an ever wider international audience.”
FamilySearch will utilize its impressive online community of volunteer indexers to add more fields of data to select censuses. When finished, the improved census indexes will be available on,, and Individuals interested in volunteering as online indexers for British historical projects can do so at

Ian Galbraith, CEO of The Origins Network and Upal Rahman, President of Intelligent Image Management (IIM) Inc. said, "The FamilySearch England and Wales Census project is clearly a milestone initiative in the history of genealogical research. It heralds a new era of easier accessibility to a mountain (literally!) of genealogical material available hitherto only to the privileged few, if at all. We are delighted to be working with FamilySearch and proud that they have chosen for the FamilySearch Website the 1841 and 1871 UK censuses—the most accurate available—which The Origins Network and IIM jointly developed."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The 50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites on the Net

ProGenealogists Inc earlier this year released a study that for the first time identifies the 50 most popular genealogy websites. This list was compiled using the "places rated" approach to average the website traffic rankings from four major web analytic companies.

The top two websites actually tied for first place -- (a subscription based genealogy records website) and their sister -- Sitting in third place is a little know website This Israeli based website focuses on genealogy community building and networking, and it boast over 23.8 million members worldwide (with a large European and Israeli presence).

In the fourth spot is another subscription service, also owned by the parent company of Ancestry (The Generations Network) - Rounding out the top five Internet genealogy websites is a longtime favorite of genealogists - This is a major data website sponsored by the LDS Church and includes instruction and reference help.

Nine of the 50 sites on this list are pay or subscription websites. Bryce Barnett, ProGenealogists Operations manager noted, "This illustrates that genealogists understand the value of paying for information."

Half of the sites on this list are data-oriented and another quarter are sites that provide links to genealogy sites on the Internet and data. Longtime genealogists favorite Cyndi's List was number 15 in popularity.

You can see the entire list and links for this top 50 list of Internet genealogy websites on the ProGenealogists website at

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Update on FamilySearch online databases

Shortly after I put my weekly syndicated genealogy newspaper column (Finding Your Roots) to bed, I received a telephone call from Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for the LDS church's FamilySearch Web site, letting me know that the FamilySearch Record Search pages have moved to a pilot page (

In addition, some new databases were added to the mix as indicated below"

Collection Name: Indexed Record Count/Unindexed Digital Image Count/Comments
1870 United States Census: 60,170 / 124,298 / New
1880 United States Census: 50,538,378 / 0 / Updated with add'l authorities
1900 United States Census: 79,191,470 / 1,663,024 / Updated with add'l relationships
Germany Baptisms 1700-1900: 4,905,598 / 0 / New
Germany Marriages 1700-1900: 1,347,321 / 0 / New
Mexico Baptisms 1700-1900: 1,926,938 / 0 / New
Mexico Marriages 1700-1900: 296,990 /0 / New
Michigan Births 1867-1902: 1,409,988 / 96,165 / New
Michigan Deaths 1867-1897: 507,342 / 24,628 / New
Michigan Marriages 1868-1925 : 1,533,863 /109,256 / New
West Virginia Births 1853-1930: 381,464 / 0 / New
West Virginia Deaths 1853-1970: 1,133,106 / 0 / Updated with add'l data
West Virginia Marriages 1853-1970: 415,770 / 0 / New

Total 143,648,398 / 2,017,371

I will have more on this in the next Finding Your Roots column. But in the meantime if you would like to help with the ongoing genealogical records indexing project being put online by the LDS church go to

I have been a record indexer for some time now and have had a ball working on index Louisiana Death records. It is nice to have a way of giving back to the hobby that has given me so much pleasure over these 30 plus years.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Free Online Genealogy Resources

You folks who have taken my genealogy classes know what my favorite word is . . . free! And the link below is an Adobe PDF list of free genealogy resources on the internet courtesy of the good folks at

I also have some other surprises but you will have to read my syndicated genealogy column in order to discover those.

Good luck and good hunting all,


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

RootsWeb Announcement

The following was written by Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, Inc. and is posted here at the RootsWeb blog:

As you know, The Generations Network has hosted and funded the RootsWeb online community since June 2000, thereby maintaining RootsWeb as the world's oldest and largest free genealogy website. TGN remains committed to this mission and believes that RootsWeb is an absolutely invaluable and complementary resource to, our flagship commercial family history site. We believe in both services and want to see both communities prosper and grow.

As part of this goal, we have decided to "transplant" RootsWeb onto the domain beginning next week. This move will not change the RootsWeb experience or alter the ease of navigation to or within RootsWeb. RootsWeb will remain a free online experience. What will be different is that the Web address for all RootsWeb pages will change from to www. Again, the RootsWeb experience is not changing.

The decision to host RootsWeb on is being made for one primary reason: we believe that the users of each of our two main websites can be better served if they have access to the best services available on both. Simply stated, we want to introduce more users to RootsWeb and vice versa.

Today, despite the fact that and are the two most frequently visited family history sites on the Web, only 25 percent of visitors to visited RootsWeb in January 2008, while only 20 percent of visitors to RootsWeb visited (according to Comscore Media Metrix). We think we will serve our users best by doing a better job of letting them know what is available on both and RootsWeb. Hosting RootsWeb on is the first step towards making this happen, but we will absolutely look for more and better ways down the road to advance this goal.

Hosting RootsWeb on will also make it easier for us to make changes and improvements to the RootsWeb experience in the future.

All old RootsWeb URLs will continue to work, whether they are bookmarks or favorites, links to or from a hosted page or URLs manually typed in your Internet browser. We will have a redirect in place so that all old URLs will automatically end up on the appropriate new RootsWeb URL. You will never need to update your old favorites or links unless you want to. We have worked to make the transition as seamless as possible for our users, and this change should have a minimal impact on your experience with the site.

RootsWeb will remain a free online experience dedicated to providing you with a place where our community can find their roots together. If you have questions regarding this change please email them to


Tim Sullivan

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New ways of finding elusive ancestors

It seems like fellow genealogist, Tom Kemp, is always coming up with creative ways of finding ancestors. In his blog, he explains how he used GenealogyBank to find historical documents about the Platter family.

He also alerted me to GenealogyBank's new pricing - just $9.95 for the first month. For the amount of data available at this site, it really is a good deal.

- Over 106 million historical newspaper articles (1690-1977)- More than 26 million obituaries (1977-current)
Read the whole story at:

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Relatively Speaking Genealogy program is on the air

I have found an interesting genealogy radio program that airs each Sunday from 4-6 p.m. MST (6-8 pm EST) on KSL-AM/FM in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Relatively Speaking is a new radio program hosted by long-time KSL NewsRadio personality Jackie McKay and features the genealogy expertise of Mary Slawson, a highly respected genealogy author.

If you don't get a chance to hear the program live, they have podcast of past episodes on the home page for this program on the KSL website. There is also some additional interesting genealogy material available on the program's website page.

So turn your web browser to and check out this new weekly genealogy program.

You can get more information on listening to the program live via the internet at

PBS Ancestors TV Series Links Available Here

For the benefit of my genealogy class students and others who visit this site, I have added links to each of the PBS Ancestors episodes from Season 1 and 2 to the resource portion of this blog (see the bottom of this blog). These are courtesy of the Roots Television website. Just click on the link and it will open up the webpage and media player so you can view that episode. These are excellent training videos and is the same material that I use in my Beginner / Intermediate classes at Tri-County Community College in Peachtree, North Carolina.

So if you miss a class, you can at least get the jest of what I covered by reviewing the associated video for that class at the links to the left. If you are new to genealogy, or a reader of my syndicated newspaper column - Finding Your Roots, you can learn more about how to do genealogy by viewing all of these videos in both series.

Hope you enjoy the service and be sure to visit the Roots Television website for additional material that can aid you in your family research (link in our "Genealogy Related Links We Recommend" section of this blog).

Saturday, February 9, 2008

New Genealogy and Family History Genealogy Blog Available

We are writing to tell you about our new blog, We hope you will check it out soon.

So why another genealogy blog, you may already be asking? Our purpose is to showcase our authors and their books/CDs and encourage you to contribute your own ideas and comments--it's that simple. As we say in our mission statement, "With 50 years of experience in the field, will use its blog to inform researchers at all levels and to promote dialog about a variety of topics including resources, techniques, and items of current interest. We’ll provide an inside look into the world of genealogical publishing through interviews with authors and dialogs with senior members of our publishing companies. We’ll also post excerpts from our publications ..., so there will always be something for you to read about."

The first blog article entitled “The Small World of the 17th Century" is now up running. We hope to post new articles approximately once a week. You will also find postings for upcoming speaking engagements by our authors, links to other blogs, and more items as time and space dictate. We hope that you will become a regular visitor and invite you to participate with us freely and frequently. To access the blog, follow this link: .
Your friends at

CONTACT US is the online home of Genealogical Publishing Company and its affiliate, Clearfield Company. For general information about our companies and their products, e-mail us at . To order on-line, you may e-mail us at

Friday, February 8, 2008

Family History Library now offering personal consultation sessions

The world's best library for genealogical research just got better! The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, recently added personal consultation sessions as one of their services. Sessions last from 30-45 minutes, depending on the nature of the problem.

Consultation sessions are not limited to genealogical research problems. They also include document reading, newsletters, organization, pictures/videos, PowerPoint, scanning techniques, and using flash drives.
Read more at:
(Source: Legacy News)

Just how good are the FamilySearch indexes ?

FamilySearch Indexing continues to grow. Today Headquarters announced that over 115,000 volunteers have signed up to help index records.

The fruits of the efforts are starting to help people more easily identify their ancestors. The completed projects, with the linked images, are freely available for searching at For
example, one of the first indexing projects was the 1900 U.S. federal census. The entire census (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) is now searchable at the labs website.
Read more on this at:
(Source: Legacy News)

Friday, January 25, 2008 Search Template

In my genealogy classes at Tri County Community college this week, the subject came up about the useless search basic and advanced search templates located on the home page of the popular genealogy service I mentioned in class that I would post a link to my favorite search template that I use on the site here on the blog.

So if you are looking for something a bit more user friendly, click on the "Search" tab at the top of any of the main pages or bookmark this link:

Take a few minutes to famaliarize yourself with all the options you have on this page including the locality search at the bottom of the page and the record category search down the right side of the page.