Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ancestral Lines Pairing System: A New Genealogy Numbering System

From our good friend Dick Eastman and the EOGN website:

"Genealogists have invented several different numbering systems over the years to keep track of the individuals in a genealogy. In situations where names are repeated often in a family, a numbering system helps identify the individual of interest. We already have Ahnentafel Numbers, d'Aboville Numbers, Henry Numbers, the Register System, the Dollarhide System, and the NGSQ System. Each assigns numbers, letters, or combinations of numbers and letters to each individual. Now, writing in the American Ancestors web site, Capers W. McDonald has suggested using a new numbering system: the Ancestral Lines Pairing System.

"Quoting from the web site:

"A new ancestral numbering system has been developed that visibly displays component lines and generations of pedigrees in either text or chart formats. This “Ancestral Lines Pairing System” meets essential requirements of being easy to read and understand while maintaining the integrity of its unique indicators, and of recording relationships briefly with as much useful information as possible.

"You can read an abbreviated version of the article at or an expanded PDF version at

"My thanks to Bill Bernardy for telling me about this article."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dear Abby

"I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can't afford to spend a lot of money to do it.

Any suggestions?"

Van in Texas



"Register as a Republican, and run for public office."


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ancestry Beta Testing a New Viewer

For the students who just finished taking my Internet and Genealogy class this last semester, "I told you so." I told them during the class that some time after the class concluded (this last week) and the end of the year, would make a major change to their site. It happens everytime I teach this class.

So imagine my shock (NOT!) when I got a notice from the Genealogy Insider blog via the FTM newsletter that Ancestry is now Beta testing a new image viewer.

The interface is similar to the previous viewer, with some new and improved features:

Faster image loading.

Works on more platforms and with more browsers than the previous image viewer, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Web browser issues were preventing a large portion of members from using the previous image viewer.

New tools, including rotating an image (handy for census returns with the address written along the side of the page), mirror (flips your record over so you're reading it backward, which I've heard can help with hard-to-read records), and new zoom controls.

Easy installation. Most people won't have to install anything (I didn't), though you might need to install a more recent version of the free Adobe Flash Player.

You can learn more about this by clicking here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

FamilySearch Volunteers to Index 1940 Census

FamilySearch is heading up a volunteer effort to index the 1940 US census when records are released to the public next April. They have created a webpage to recruit volunteers for transcribing the 1940 census, scheduled for release April 2, 2012 (142 days from today).

On April 2, 2012, NARA will provide access to the images of the 1940 United States Federal Census for the first time. Unlike previous census years, images of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be made available as free digital images.

Upon its release, FamilySearch and its partners will coordinate efforts to provide quick access to these digital images and immediately start indexing these records to make them searchable online for free and open access.

You can get more information on this project by clicking on the FamilySearch 1940 Census Index Volunteer Page link.

2 Million Records Added to U.S. Collections

A broad range of records were added to FamilySearch this week from 20 countries, notably Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, England, Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, Philippines, and the U.S. The U.S. additions include a variety of records from California, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin (See the full listing of new updates below)

Collection Records Images Comments
Australia, Tasmania, Miscellaneous Records, 1829–1961 0 9,723
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Austria, Carinthia, Military Personnel Records, 1846–1897 0 238,473
New browsable image collection.

Austria, Seigniorial Records, 1537–1888 0 29,522
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Canada, Saskatchewan Provincial Records, 1879–1987 0 57,903
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Chile, Santiago, Cementerio General, 1821–2006 0 65,853
New browsable image collection.

Colombia, Catholic Church Records, 1600–2008 0 9,710
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Dominican Republic, Catholic Church Records, 1590–1955 0 165,106
New browsable image collection.

El Salvador, Catholic Church Records, 1655–1977 0 589,990
New browsable image collection.

England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538–2010 0 11,979
Added browsable images to existing collection.

England, Lancashire, Oldham Cemetery Registers, 1797–2004 0 45,387
New browsable image collection.

England, Warwickshire Parish Registers, 1538–1900 399,299 0
Added new records to existing collection.

Germany, Württemberg, Schwäbisch Hall, Probate Records, 1833–1905 0 21,584
New browsable image collection.

Honduras, Catholic Church Records, 1633–1978 0 37,672
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Hungary Catholic Church Records, 1636–1895 261,188 0
Added new records to existing collection.

Isle of Man, Parish Registers, 1598–1950 410,460 42,054
New index collection.

Italy, Napoli Castellammare di Stabia, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809–1936 6,134
Added new records to existing collection.

Italy, Potenza, Lagonegro, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866–1910 0 154,261
Added browsable images to existing collection.

New Zealand, Probate Records, 1878–1960 0 89,600
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Paraguay, Catholic Church Records, 1754–1981 0 303,041
New browsable image collection.

Peru, Catholic Church Records, 1687–1992 0 76,341
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Philippines, Civil Registration (National), 1945–1980 0 265,673
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592–1910 0 594,660
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Spain, Consular Records of Emigrants, 1808–1960 0 20,978
Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S. Social Security Death Index 113,448 0
Added new records to existing collection. Records now current as of 31 Oct 2011.

U.S., California, San Mateo County Records, 1856–1967 0 114,986
Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., California, State Census, 1852 188,578 0
New index collection.

U.S., Illinois, Macon County, Decatur Public Library Collections, 1879–2007 0 64,268
New browsable image collection.

U.S., Indiana, Marriages, 1811–1959 87,711 0
Added new records to existing collection.

U.S., North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663–1917 7,112 130,600
Added new records to existing collection.

U.S., Ohio, Stark County Coroner's Records, 1890–2002 0 39,054
Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Oregon, Columbia County Records, 1854–1958 0 29,284
Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Texas Birth Certificates, 1903–1934 422,956 423,803
Added new records to existing collection.

U.S., Texas Deaths, 1977–1986 0 59,536
Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Texas, Bexar County, San Antonio Cemetery Records, 1893–2007 0 38,892
New browsable image collection.

U.S., Texas, Matagorda County, School Census Records, 1923–1946 0 52,548
Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Washington State County Naturalization Records, 1850–1982 0 169,740
Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Wisconsin, Probate Estate Files, 1848–1935 0 179,977
Added browsable images to existing collection.

United States, National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866–1938 165,432 0
Added new records to existing collection.

Venezuela, Civil Registration 0 13,194
Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates Website

I mentioned in our Thursday night Internet and Genealogy class a website on the Internet where you can search the Journals of the US Senate and House of Representatives for possible mentions of your family members.

Click here for a link to this site

Thursday, November 3, 2011

1883 U.S. Government Military Pension List Online

GenealogyBank has announced that it has the five-volume List of Pensioners-1883 online, to help with your family history research. These U.S. federal government military pension records are a valuable genealogy resource actively used by genealogists to trace family lineage.

List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883; giving the name of each pensioner, the cause for which pensioned, the post office address, the rate of pension per month, and the date of original allowance. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1883. Senate Document. Serial Set Vol. No. 2078, Session Vol. No. 5; Report: S.Exec.Doc. 84 pt. 1-5.

The List of Pensioners-1883 lists the pensioners by U.S. state and county. Volume 5 includes the lists of pensioners that lived overseas.

Each military pension record entry gives:
· Name of pensioner
· Pension certificate number
· Date of the original pension
· Reasons why the pensioner received the pension
· The monthly pension payment
· U.S. Post Office where the pensioner receives their mail

Types of military pension records included:
· Veteran disability pension records
· Army pension records
· Navy pension records
· War widows pension records
· War orphans pension records

Genealogy Tip: This is a crucial genealogical resource for identifying pensioners from all American wars still living in 1883 and it pinpoints where they were living—anywhere in the U.S. or around the world. This extensive U.S. military pension list includes pensioners from the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and more—making it easier to trace your veteran ancestors and relatives who received survivor benefits.

Volume One
Connecticut; District of Columbia; Maine; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Rhode Island; Vermont

Volume Two
New York; Pennsylvania

Volume Three
Illinois; Iowa; Ohio

Volume Four
Alaska; Arizona; California; Colorado; Dakota; Idaho; Indiana; Kansas; Michigan; Minnesota; Montana; Nebraska; Indian Territory (Oklahoma); Nevada; New Mexico; Oregon; Utah; Washington; Wisconsin; Wyoming

Volume Five
Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Mississippi; Missouri; North Carolina; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Virginia; West Virginia

Countries of the World, including Hawaii (which was listed as the "Sandwich Islands.") Africa; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Denmark; England; France; Germany; Ireland; Italy; Madeira Island (Portugal); Malta; Mauritius; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Peru; Romania; Russia; Scotland; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Wales; West Indies; Foreign Address Unknown

You can explore the List of Pensioners-1883 online at GenealogyBank.

Important Changes Made to the Public Death Master File (DMF) and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)

Courtesy of our old friend, Dick Eastman's newsletter at EOGN

Effective 01 November 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) changed its policy on what records it will use as source material for adding new entries in the Public Death Master File (DMF) which, in turn, is used to create the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

The Agency decided that it can no longer use state death records to add new entries to the DMF. Furthermore, the SSA will remove approximately 4.2 million records currently on the SSDI because those entries were made based on information from state death records.

You can read a lot more about the new changes in Steve Danko's blog at as well as from a Fact Sheet from the Social Security Administration’s website at

Monday, October 31, 2011

Google Ditches the (+) Search Engine Math Symbol

Just as I put my last syndicated genealogy newspaper column to bed last week, there was a major change made at the Google search engine that conflicted with what I wrote in that column.

Google has changed the way one of their most useful search operators works: The (+) plus symbol operator.

Next time you want to make sure any single word or phrase appears in your search results, wrap it in quotation marks. To get exact results include specific keywords, you used to be able to add the (+) plus symbol operator to the front of a term, such as: +Georgia Atlanta

The search above would tell Google that the word "Georgia" must be on every search result and would ignore pages that don't have that word, such as a page that says, "Atlanta, Texas."

Now, rather than adding the (+) operator, you need to wrap the word or words in quotation marks, such as: "Georgia" Atlanta.

This will now give you the same results as if you had used the plus sign in the old way of searching on Google.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The iPhone: a Scanner in Your Pocket

Another great article courtesy of my friend and fellow ham radio operator Dick Eastman.

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at This article was originally posted on Dick's blog and newsletter at

The next time you read a document that contains information about your ancestors, wouldn't it be nice to immediately scan an image of it and email the image to yourself? Even better, how about uploading the image immediately to Dropbox or to MobileMe iDisk? If you own an iPhone, you can do that right now by installing a bit of low-cost software.

Scanner Pro converts your iPhone into a scanner. How well does it perform? Click on the thumbnail-sized image to the right to see a larger picture of a page I scanned today with Scanner Pro on an iPhone 4. The page is from The Book of Dow written by Robert Piercy Dow and published in 1929. I think it is a great image for a cell phone camera! Best of all, I always have the iPhone with me so that means I also carry a scanner with me everywhere I go.

Scanner Pro handles any type of documents ranging from simple one page letters to multipage legal documents. It can add, move, delete pages and even combine pages in landscape and portrait orientations. The program first scans whatever you wish and then displays the image on the iPhone's screen. It even features automatic edge detection and advanced image processing. However, if the automatic edge detection doesn't match your needs, tap anywhere on the screen and manually adjust the crop area. I did that with the book shown above as I wanted only a section of the page, not the entire page.

The program stores all images as industry-standard PDF files. Once stored in your iPhone, the image(s) may be exported to Evernote, to Google Docs, to a photo library (such as MobileMe iDisk, Box.Net, Humyo and any other WebDAV enabled online storage system), or sent to any email address. The image is standard PDF and can be used by any Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer as well as by many handheld "smartphones."

Multi-page documents can be scanned and processed together as a single batch. For instance, perhaps you wish to scan ten pages from a book. Once scanned, you can export all the pages at once to Evernote, to Google Docs, to a photo library, or to email.

I have only used Scanner Pro for a short time but have fallen in love with it. I will be taking it to every library I visit from now on. In fact, I always take my cell phone with me everywhere. In the past, I would enter a library and then go looking for a photocopy machine. I was always delighted whenever I found such a machine that created digital images. Not all libraries have digital imaging available. Thanks to the new Scanner Pro software, I now have digital imaging capability with me at all times. Not only can I use the iPhone in libraries, but also when visiting a relative.

Of course, Scanner Pro can be used for thousands of non-genealogy purposes as well. This morning, I had to send an email message to my insurance company about the new license plates on the motorhome. I snapped a picture of the license plate using Scanner Pro and sent it as an email message to the insurance agent.

Ever see a "for sale" sign of interest on the bulletin board at the local supermarket? Snap a picture and send it to yourself or perhaps to a friend who may be interested in the item.

I often write articles about new products and I use them for a day or two. Not this time. This one's a keeper! I plan on using Scanner Pro often for a long, long time.

Scanner Pro costs $6.99 and is available in the iPhone App Store or you can learn more about it at

NOTE: Any iPhone can snap a picture of a book or most anything else and send it by email. You don't need Scanner Pro for that. However, Scanner Pro adds convenience, the ability to create PDF files, multi-page documents, automatic page edge detection, and image processing. It also adds the capability to add, move, delete pages and even combine pages in landscape and portrait orientations. You cannot perform those functions with the software included with the iPhone. I'd suggest the program is worth a lot more than $6.99.

My thanks to newsletter reader Claudia Breland for telling me about Scanner Pro.

Monday, August 22, 2011

1940 Census Will be Free on

Subscription genealogy website has decided to make the 1940 census images and index—which will be on the site after the 1940 census is opened next year for research—free to search and view through 2013.

That’ll be more than 3.8 million images with 130 million records. Even better, they’ll be indexed by 45 fields, meaning you’ll be able to search on the name, street address, county, state, parents’ birthplaces and more.

The records won’t be on right when the census is released April 2, 2012, by the National Archives.’s press release says they’ll commence “streaming onto the website in mid-April 2012.”

The digital images will be accessible free of charge at NARA facilities nationwide through our public access computers as well as on personal computers via the internet.

The 1940 Census will not have a name index when it opens on April 2, 2012. In order to locate someone, you will need to know his or her address and the Census enumeration district in which that address was located.

What can you do now in preparation for the opening of the 1940 Census?

1. Make a list of all the people you want to look for in the 1940 census. Think broadly--ancestors, their siblings, cousins, etc.--anybody to whom you are related.

2.Collect addresses for these people for whom you plan to search.

Sources for addresses include:

City Directories (NARA has original Circa 1940 City Directories for Washington, DC. The Library of Congress holds a large nationwide collection of city directories and many libraries hold local directories.)

The 1930 Census (useful for people who did not move between 1930 and 1940). If you have a person's enumeration district (ED) number from the 1930 Census you can use "The Converting between 1930 and 1940 Census ED1940s in One Step" search utility at to find the equivalent ED for the 1940 Census.

World War II Draft Records (contact the National Archives' Regional Location for the state in which your ancestor lived).

Naturalization Petitions or Declarations of Intent filed close to 1940 (contact the National Archives' Regional Location for the state in which your ancestor lived)

3.Identify the enumeration district (ED) in which each address was located. There are currently several ways to do this:

Search the 1940 Census Maps for Enumeration District Numbers
Go to the Archival Research Catalog (ARC):

Enter 1940 Census maps + the county + the state: 1940 Census maps Sussex Delaware

You can narrow the search by including a town name in the search: 1940 Census maps Sussex Milford Delaware

Note: Not all towns will have individual maps. You may need to look at county maps for some towns. In the search results, click on the map to see a larger version of the map.

More to follow as we get closer to this major genealogical event.

Thursday, April 7, 2011 Post New NARA Civil War Records Online

Blog Editor Note: This digitization of Civil War records is part of a five-year deal with and NARA. The public will have free access starting April 6 for a week before a paid subscription is required to access the records.

WASHINGTON, DC and PROVO, UT — 04/06/11 — (NASDAQ: ACOM), the world’s largest online family history resource, and the National Archives, today launched millions of newly digitized Civil War records that are now available online for the first time. This effort is part of an ongoing partnership between and the National Archives to make important historical records more easily available to the American public.’s entire Civil War Collection of more than 42 million records, including 25 million records from the National Archives, will be free to access for the general public for one week beginning on April 7. Existing members will have immediate access beginning today.

Included are the entire U.S. Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865 and the complete 1860 and 1870 Censuses. These Civil War collections are in the National Archives and have been digitized by to help preserve the original records and provide convenient online access. They now serve as a vital source of information for an estimated 17 million Americans(1) who have an ancestor who fought in the conflict. The entire Civil War Collection can be accessed for free at

The highlight of the Civil War Collection is the newly digitized Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865. These records are among the most popular in the National Archives Civil War holdings and served as a virtual male census for the northern states during the war period. Famous 19th century Americans such as Andrew Carnegie, future President Grover Cleveland, Aaron Montgomery Ward and multiple Rockefellers are all found in these records. Previously only available by request in original form in the Research Room of the National Archives, the public will now be able to easily access these records on without having to travel to Washington, D.C.

“The significance of these records, which document one of the most important events in American history, cannot be overstated,” said Ken Burns, director and producer of the award-winning documentary THE CIVIL WAR and longtime board member of the Foundation for the National Archives. “I’ve been able to make multiple discoveries about my own great-great-grandfather Abraham Burns through these and other records from the National Archives. I’m excited that more people will now be able to have similar discoveries through” is providing another special experience in searching for Civil War and National Archive information through the new interactive Military Headstone Archives. Dynamic visuals and multimedia tools will enable users to ‘virtually’ explore the cemeteries of the Civil War’s most famous battlefields at Gettysburg, PA; Sharpsburg (Antietam), MD; Stones River (Murfreesboro), TN; Petersburg, VA; Shiloh, TN and Vicksburg, MS. Users can search for their family’s heroes in’s unique collection of headstone photographs from 33 national cemeteries in the North and South. The new Military Headstone Archives can also be accessed by visiting:

Since 2008, and the National Archives have worked as partners to make important historical records available to the public as part of a shared commitment to preserving America’s heritage. A key component of this collaboration includes digitizing as many of the original paper National Archives’ Civil War records as possible and publishing those records on

“The National Archives continues to be a model for preserving important U.S. history and making those records available to the public,” said Josh Hanna, Executive Vice President for “We’re honored that our partnership with the National Archives has made millions of records, including the new Civil War Collection, available to the many Americans who want to learn more about their family history.”

“We are pleased that our partnership with is making these important records available outside of our research rooms,” said Susan Cummings, National Archives Director of Access Programs. “This is just the first of many series of Civil War records that will be made available online that are scanned from original records, instead of from microfilm in the years to come.”

The expanded Civil War Collection now includes new National Archives records such as:

● U.S. Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865: This collection lists all Civil War Draft Registrations. There were four drafts between 1863 and 1865, which included 3,175,055 people in its rolls, although of those, just over 46,000 actually entered into service. Historically, the 1863 draft was one of the most tenuous moments in the Union outside of the battles fought on Northern soil. Most of the concern was due to the draft riots that took place in New York in 1863. These records include more than 630 volumes of registries and are lists of individuals who registered for the draft.

● U.S. Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865: This collection contains indices of compiled military service records for volunteer Union and Confederate soldiers who served with units organized in more than 20 states. The indices also include Confederate soldiers who later served with the Union Army, Union and Confederate soldiers, Generals and staff officers, and other enlisted men not associated with a regiment. Individual records contain both military and personal details useful for locating an ancestor in time and place by tracking his movements during the course of the Civil War.

Other additions to the Civil War Collection include:

Union records

● Kansas Civil War Enlistment Papers
● New York Civil War Muster Rolls
● New York Civil War City Registers

Confederate records

● Alabama Census of Confederate Soldiers
● Confederate Pension Applications from AL, AR, TX and VA
● Georgia Civil War Correspondence
● Register of Officers of the Confederate States Navy

To begin searching The Civil War Collection, current subscribers can visit and new users can visit For further stories and updates related to Civil War family history research, please follow on Facebook and Twitter.

About Inc. (NASDAQ: ACOM) is the world’s largest online family history resource, with nearly 1.4 million paying subscribers. More than 6 billion records have been added to the site in the past 14 years. Ancestry users have created more than 20 million family trees containing over 2 billion profiles. has local Web sites directed at nine countries that help people discover, preserve and share their family history, including its flagship Web site at

About the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration, an independent federal agency, is the nation’s record keeper. Founded in 1934, its mission is unique — to serve American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. It supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives meets a wide range of information needs, among them helping people to trace their families’ history, making it possible for veterans to prove their entitlement to medical and other benefits, and preserving original White House records. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blogger Disclosure Statements

I guess I'm the last genealogy blogger on this planet to discover the 2010 FTC regulation requiring bloggers to have a disclosure statements on their blogs.

This afternoon after Thomas MacEntee's live Legacy webinar, while looking at one of his blogs, I discovered to my horror, the new requirement by the FTC (that is the Federal Trade Commission for those of you who do not speak governmentese) to have a an FTC disclosure statement on your blog. If you mention any products, services, etc that charge real money for their stuff you have to have one of these statements posted somewhere on the blog. The fine for not doing so is $11,000 per post.

Now for some of you, including old Bill Gates, that may just be folding money. For the poor like us, that is food on the table. Now while I may not agree with the FTC and this ridiculous intrusion on free speech, I just can't afford that kind of cash to prove a point.

So that we are complaint with the imperial government's regulation, I have added a FTC Disclosure Statement to all of family of blogs that we maintain.

Bottom line, a big Family Roots and Branches "Tango Uniform" to Thomas MacEntee for the head's up. We poor mountain folk here in western NC do appreciate you looking out for us.

To learn more about blogger disclosure issues, go to Why You Need a Blogging Disclosure Statement at Geneabloggers. To get your own disclosure policy statement for your blog (yes, it is free), go to

Do You Recognize the Organization They Belong To?

I have a friend here in the Brasstown area of western North Carolina who passed along the picture above to me and is asking for some help. He (and me) would like to know what fraternal or religious organization these fellows could have belonged to.

My best guess is this photo was taken sometime between 1900-1910, may have been taken in northern Georgia (Towns or Union County) or in Delta County, Texas.

My best guess is that these fellows belong to a IOOF (Independent Order of Odd fellows) lodge, but I am not 100% sure of it.

So if you have some insight and can help ID the organization that they belonged to, contact me at our email address teakpub at brmemc dot com. I do appreciate any and all input on this blog post. Launches as World’s Largest Free Genealogy Search Engine

Industry breakthrough provides instant search results for billions of names, dates and places worldwide

BOULDER, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)™ (, a free search engine geared toward genealogists and people interested in learning more about their family history, launches today. enables the search of more than 50 billion words - including billions of names, dates and places, all within fractions of a second. fills an important industry need by providing the first large-scale, free search engine for family history research. Coupled with the speed and accuracy by which search results are produced, represents a major technological breakthrough within the genealogy world. has already been met with critical acclaim by several industry experts. Dick Eastman, writer of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and a top blogger in the field, wrote, “All my future genealogy searches will start on I've been using the site for a while during its testing and have been very impressed. I suspect you will always have better luck searching for your own surnames of interest on than on any other search engine.”

Randy Seaver, writer of the popular Genea-Musings blog, said, “ promises to be a genealogist's dream - a search engine focused on free online genealogy resources." Mr. Eastman’s and Mr. Seaver’s full reviews can be found at and, respectively.

Starting today, the general public can use for free. Visitors to are simply required to type in the names of interest and click on Search. All related results from industry sources such as genealogy message boards, family trees, state and local historical societies, the Library of Congress, National Archives, Ellis Island, Find A Grave, the Internet Archive, various U.S. state archives, and many tens of thousands of genealogy sites built by individuals will be displayed. Similar to other search engines, honors site owners by linking directly to their content.

Cliff Shaw, founder and CEO of Mocavo Inc., identifies the current trouble for genealogists and the solution that provides, “Genealogy has always had the problem of information and potential clues being spread across thousands of disparate web sites and sources. Imagine a world where you have all of the Web’s free genealogy content at your fingertips within seconds. That is”

“ has the capacity to index every single piece of free genealogy content found anywhere on the web, and will be growing by leaps and bounds in the coming months,” said Mr. Shaw. “We expect to shortly offer all of the web’s free genealogy information, searchable and accessible to all – something that has never been done before. It’s set to become the go-to search engine for every family history enthusiast.”

Mocavo Inc. is the brainchild of Cliff Shaw. Mr. Shaw is well known in the industry, having created four successful companies and many innovative technologies, including Smart Matching™, the most successful ancestor-matching algorithm. He created GenForum 14 years ago and it quickly grew to become the number one community for genealogists (now owned by® (NASDAQ:ACOM)). In the early 2000’s, Mr. Shaw launched GenCircles and Family Tree Legends, becoming the number two family tree publishing site and number two family tree software package respectively (both are now owned by More recently, Mr. Shaw launched the well-received, the industry’s only automatic tree backup solution.

About Mocavo Inc.

Mocavo Inc. operates the world’s largest free genealogy search engine,, giving genealogists access to the best free genealogy content on the web including billions of names, dates and places. Founded by industry veteran Cliff Shaw, and backed by prominent angel investor, David Cohen, (founder and CEO of TechStars), seeks to index and make searchable all of the world’s free genealogy information. While discovers new sites every day, some of the existing sites searchable on include genealogy message boards, family trees, state and local historical societies, the Library of Congress, National Archives, Ellis Island, Find A Grave, the Internet Archive, various U.S. state archives, and many tens of thousands of genealogy sites built by individuals. For further information, visit

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quick-Tip of the Month for Preservation--Scan and Share

by Dawne Slater-Putt and courtesy of the Genealogy gems newsletter published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center.

Perhaps the best way to preserve photographs is to ensure that the ones you have are not the only copies in existence – scan and share!

With improved scanning technology, it takes very little time to scan a photograph. Some libraries, including The Genealogy Center, have a scanner that patrons can use. The Genealogy Center’s scanner allows patrons to choose a file format (tif, jpg, etc.), scan their photos and send the digital copies to their own email addresses.

Once photos are scanned, the possibilities for sharing them are endless, ensuring that the images are preserved for future generations. Consider the possibilities:

*Email them to relatives
*Upload them to an album in Facebook or to another social media or photo sharing location
*Use a different ancestral photo as your Facebook profile picture each month
*Post them on a blog
*Upload them to a family website
*Print them and mail to relatives
*Include them in a print or online family newsletter
*Include them in a print or online local or state genealogical society newsletter
*Mass produce mugs, tee shirts, calendars, mouse pads … with ancestral photos and give as gifts or give away/sell at family reunions
*Include them in a family history book
*Insert them into your genealogy computer program
*Upload them to’s family tree area
*Create a photobook using computer scrapbooking software

Scanning photos can seem like an overwhelming task. Prioritize!

Perhaps handle your oldest photos first, or those of your direct ancestors. Or tackle one side of the family, then the other. By scanning just a few photos at a time on a regular basis, you can make significant progress in a short period of time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Who Do You Think Your Are? Renewed for Season 3

According to the TV Line website (, NBC has renewed their Friday night hit, Who Do You Think You Are?. We will now have a third season of celebrity genealogy.

WDYTYA has had good ratings. For instance, the episode of Who Do You Think You Are? that aired Friday had 5.9 million viewers and a 1.3 in the imporant 18-49 demo.

So I hope to have more in the near future on who we will see next season. In the meantime, enjoy the remaining episodes this season at 8 eastern/7 central Friday evenings on NBC.

Storing CDs and DVDs

This quick tip is courtesy of the Genealogy Gems newsletter published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, Steve Myers & Curt Witcher, co-editors.

Store CDs and DVDs in the same manner you would store books: on end, not flat. If you have a large number of discs, stacking them on top of each other can increase the chances of some cracking or being scratched by dust trapped between the discs. Ideally, each disc should be in its own case with each case bearing an appropriate descriptive label.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Western North Carolina Legacy SIG to meet this week

The Western North Carolina Legacy genealogy software Special Interest Group will hold its monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 9 at 6:30 pm at the Moss memorial Library in Hayesville NC (weather permitting). If you are interested in using Legacy software in your research, this free meeting is well worth your time.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wilkinson Co GA Cemetery Book Now Available

If you are interested in the cemeteries of Wilkinson County, Georgia, a new reference book, published by the county genealogical society, may be the ticket to new family connections.

The Cemeteries of Wilkinson County, Georgia book has been published and is now ready for delivery. If you want a copy, drop a check in the mail to the Wilkinson County Historical Society, P. O. Box 476, Gordon, GA 31031, and Jimmy Lord will mail it to you immediately. The cost is $55.00 plus $6.00 S&H.

You can contact the Society directly through their websote at

Saturday, February 5, 2011

RootsTech Conference Will Broadcast Select Sessions Free Online

RootsTech, a new family history and technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 10-12, 2011, announced today that six of its popular sessions will be broadcasted live and complimentary over the Internet. The live broadcasts will give those unable to attend worldwide a sample of this year’s conference content. Interested viewers can watch the live presentations at The first-year conference has attracted over 2,000 registered attendees.

The free online sessions include some of the keynote speakers and a sampling of technology and family history presentations. Following are the six broadcasts, speakers, and times of the presentations. All times are in Mountain Standard Time (MST):

Thursday, February 10, 2011

· 8:30-9:00 a.m., A world of Information, Shane Robison, chief technology officer, Hewlett Packard

· 9-9:30 a.m., Turning Roots, Branches, Trees into Nodes, Links, Graphs, Jay L. Verkler, chief executive officer, FamilySearch International

· 3-4:00 p.m., Digitally Preserving Your Family Heritage, Barry Ewell, founder of

Friday, February 11, 2011

· 8:30-9:30 a.m., The Changing Face of Genealogy, by Curt Witcher, manager of the Historical Genealogy Department, Allen County Public Library

· 9:45-10:45 a.m., Cloud Computing: What is it and how it has been used to create the next, by Brian Pugh, senior engineer, FamilySearch International

Saturday, February 12, 2011

· 8:30-9:30 a.m. Personal Archiving and Primary Documents, Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archives

· 1:45-2:45 p.m., Virtual Presentations Round Table and Collaborative Panel Discussion, Thomas MacEntee, professional genealogist and technology specialist

· 3:00-4:00 p.m., The Power of PDF: Tools for Every Genealogist , D. Josh Taylor, Director of Education and Programs at New England Historical Genealogical Society.

About RootsTech

RootsTech is a new conference designed to bring technologists together with genealogists to learn from each other and find solutions to the challenges faced in family history research today. The conference’s activities and offerings are focused on content that will help genealogists and family historians discover exciting new research tools while enabling technology creators to learn the latest development techniques from industry leaders and pioneers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are Season 2 Starts Tonight

NBC's acclaimed alternative series "Who Do You Think You Are?" begins its second season tonight at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST on most NBC TV affiliates. The show will feature the compelling genealogical story of Vanessa Williams.

In this season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" they will follow some of today's most beloved and iconic celebrities as they embark on personal journeys of self-discovery to trace their family trees. From the trenches of the Civil War to the shores of the Caribbean, and from the valleys of Virginia to the island nations of Australia and Ireland, each episode will reveal surprising, inspiring and sometimes tragic stories that are often linked to events in American and international history.

The celebrities that will be featured in this second season are Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams and Ashley Judd.

Each week, a different celebrity is taken on a quest into his or her family history. The search is one of surprising and deeply emotional encounters, resulting in one of the most compelling reality formats of recent years. During each episode, viewers will be taken on a personal and often mysterious quest following some of America's best-known celebrities into their ancestral pasts, as they uncover stories of heroism and tragedy, love and betrayal, secrets and intrigue, that lie at the heart of their family history.

At the same time, "Who Do You Think You Are?" celebrates the twists and turns of a great nation and the people who made their way here in search of freedom and opportunity. As each celebrity discovers his or her unknown relatives - most of whom overcame hard times - the show will take viewers back through world history to expose how the lives of everyone's collective ancestors have shaped our world today.

From Executive Producers Lisa Kudrow ("Friends," "The Comeback") and Dan Bucatinsky ("Lipstick Jungle," "The Comeback"), in conjunction with their production company, Is or Isn't Entertainment, and Shed Media U.S., the series is an adaptation of the award-winning hit British television documentary series from Wall to Wall Productions, created and executive produced by Alex Graham. Jennifer O'Connell and Al Edgington also serve as executive producers.

You can see a preview of tonight's show, watch shows from season one, and much more at The show is sponsored in part by

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Athens Historic Newspapers Archive Now Available

The Digital Library of Georgia is pleased to announce the availability of a new online resource: The Athens Historic Newspapers Archive .

The Athens Historic Newspapers Archive provides online access to five newspaper titles published in Athens from 1827 to 1922. Consisting of over 57,000 newspaper pages, the archive provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date. The site will provide users with a view into the history of Athens in its early years as the home to the first state-chartered university in the nation and its eventual growth into the largest city in northeast Georgia.

The archive includes the following Athens newspaper titles: Athenian (1827-1832), Southern Banner (1832-1882), Southern Watchman (1855-1882), Daily/Weekly Banner-Watchman (1882-1889), Daily/Weekly Athens Banner (1889-1922).

The Athens Historic Newspapers Archive is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia as part of the Georgia HomePLACE initiative. The project is supported with federal LSTA funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Digitization is also made possible through a grant provided by the Francis Wood Wilson Foundation, Inc.

Other newspaper archives available through the Digital Library of Georgia include the Atlanta Historic Newspapers Archive (1847-1922), the Macon Telegraph Archive (1826-1908), the Columbus Enquirer Archive (1828-1890), the Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive (1808-1920), the Southern Israelite Archive (1929-1986), and the Red and Black Archive (1893-2006). These archives can be accessed at

And for my students the service is "free."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Families for Android Op System Now Available

Last Tuesday night one of my students in my beginner Legacy class asked if there was a Legacy app for the Android operating system. My answer was not yet. After class I go home, check my email inbox and that answer has now changed. I had the press release below in my inbox.

TelGen Limited is pleased to announce the release of the first version of Families for Android. This app provides the same functionality as the popular Families app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, but now on the Android platform.

This application is designed to operate in conjunction with Legacy Family Tree, the leading Windows-based genealogy software from Millennia Corporation. Legacy family files can be easily transferred from a PC to your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or Android device, enabling them to be viewed and edited wherever you are. Families supports the following functionality:

•Multiple family files
•New family files can be created from scratch
•Family View and Pedigree View
•Index, searchable by Given Name, Surname or RIN
•To Do Lists
•Master and Detail Sources
•Locations and Addresses, with geolocation via Google Maps
•Alternate Names
•Pictures, including the ability to add pictures from camera or photo album
•Portrait and Landscape mode on all views
•Full screen support on the iPad
•Legacy file versions 6 and 7 are supported

Families uses a highly efficient database implementation, allowing very large family files to be supported. Users have successfully displayed and edited files containing over 300,000 individuals on an iPhone and a sample family file is included.

On iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad Families requires access to a Wi-Fi network or use of iTunes via a USB connection in order to transfer family files between your device and your PC. USB transfer uses iTunes File Sharing which requires your device to be running iOS 3.2 or above.

On Android Families uses a USB connection to transfer family files to and from your Android device's SD card.

Families requires a companion program running on the PC to transfer family files to and from the device. This program, Families Sync, can be downloaded free of charge from here. For iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, iTunes must be installed in order to use this program.

Families for Android can be purchased from Android Market for £8.99 or equivalent in other currencies (approximately US$14.30)

For more information see or email

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Ancestry iPad, iPhone and iTouch app

How would you like to be able to see and navigate your family tree on your iPhone or iPad so you can more easily share family stories visually? How would you like to be able to view the Census and other records you’ve attached to people in your family tree on your iPhone or iPad at your next family gathering? Well good news – now there’s an app for that.

This week Ancestry announced the availability of an enhanced version of their iPhone app, Ancestry, that now has universal support for the iPad and offers several new features:

•Lighter version of your family tree
•An interactive family tree viewer to visualize relationships in your family history
•Information is automatically available when you log in to your account from your computer
•Easy to upload photos, add ancestors, correct dates, include notes and more, from within the app.
•Ability to view attached historical documents and source citations attached via
•Access to family trees that were shared with you
•An improved user experience, Intuitive to use, with iPad functionality

Built with the tablet experience in mind, the new Ancestry app brings to life on iPad’s large screen multi-generational family trees complete with images of original family records and photos, making iPad a powerful tool for you to display and share your trees with family and friends in an interactive, highly visual way.

So check out

Don’t have an iPad or an iPhone? Do not despair since Ancestry is considering the creation of an Android version of their Ancestry app down the road.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A headstone leads deputy to old grave

Thanks to my friend Al Swint on the ClayCountyGenealogyGroup Yahoogroup for the link to this interesting story. An Oconee county deputy sheriff and genealogists identified the cemetery from which came an old, mysterious headstone found on the side of a road near Athens, Georgia. It is a great story and thanks Al.

Oconee County sheriff’s Lt. David Kilpatrick makes a photographic documentation recently of the spot where he returned an infant’s gravestone in an abandoned cemetery. (Picture via link courtesy of the Athens Banner-Herald Online Athens website)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Legacy for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad

Got an iPhone, iPod Touch, or an iPad? With the Families application from TelGen Limited you can now easily transfer your Legacy Family Tree files from your PC to your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, enabling them to be viewed and edited wherever you are. Any changes you make on these devices can then be synced back to your Legacy file on your PC.

Features of Families:

•Family, Descendant and Pedigree Views
•Support for display and editing of privacy fields
•Pictures, including the ability to add pictures from camera or photo album
•Locations and addresses, with geolocation via Google Maps
•Multiple family files
•New family files can be created from scratch
•Index, searchable by given name, surname, or RIN
•To Do Lists
•Master and detail sources
•Alternate names
•Portrait and landscape mode on all views
•Full screen support on the iPad
•Legacy file version 6 and 7 are supported

Families uses a highly efficient database implementation, allowing very large family files to be supported. Users have successfully displayed and edited files containing over 300,000 individuals on an iPhone.

Families requires a companion program running on the PC to transfer family files to and from the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. This program, Families Sync, can be downloaded free of charge. Note that iTunes must be installed in order to use this program.

Families is available in the App Store for $14.95. For more information, and to view screen shots of Families, please click here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tips For Using Your Digital Camera for Genealogy

A digital camera has been part of my genealogy bag of trick for a number of years now. I own a Nikon D5000 DSLR (left) with a bag full of lenses and stuff. I can't imagine doing genealogy without it.

If you own a digital camera here is some goodies from the Family Tree Magazine Genealogy Insider Blog:

"You have a great research tool in your digital camera! It can capture images of gravestones, ancestral homes, family heirlooms and your ancestors' records. But it's not quite as simple as taking a quick snapshot.

"Before you start a genealogical photography session, create a shot list of the pictures you want. Check out our recommendations on the Genealogy Insider blog."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Editor has fun with marriage announcement - 1835

Got this cute piece courtesy of the good folks at the GenealogyBank blog. The newspaper editor of the Norfolk Advertiser had a little fun with this marriage announcement.

The last marriage reads: At Onondaga Hollow (now Syracuse, New York), Mr. Sier Patterson to Miss Precious Little, all of that town. Mr. P. has made up his mind to enjoy Precious Little during the remainder of his life. (22 August 1835, page 3).

For newspaper research I highly recommend GenealogyBank. I have made significant genealogical discoveries in the last few years regarding my family via their service. You can read about some of them on my personal blog at There is a link to GenealogyBank in the Genealogy Research Site section of this blog (right side of page).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Legacy Family Tree 7.5 update now available

Just minutes ago I downloaded the long-anticipated Legacy 7.5 update! This update adds additional New FamilySearch support (for those with a LDS account) and includes several minor bug fixes that have been reported to their support team.

How to Update

For Deluxe Edition users, all you have to do is connect to the Internet, start Legacy 7, and click on the "Install and Download Now" link on the Legacy Home tab. If you're reading this from within the Legacy Home tab inside of Legacy 7.0, you'll first need to click on the Home button in the top left of the Legacy Home tab.

If you are a Standard Edition Legacy user, you will need to visit the Legacy website. Go to and follow the instructions.

The Top Ten Indicators That You've Become A Gene-Aholic

From Alan Jones' webpage via the GAWILKIN Mailing List

10. You introduce your daughter as your descendent.

9. You've never met any of the people you send e-mail to, even though you're related.

8. You can recite your lineage back 8 generations, but can't remember your nephew's name.

7. You have more photographs of dead people than living ones.

6. You've ever taken a tape recorder and/or notebook to a family reunion.

5. You've not only read the latest GEDCOM standard, you understand it!

4. The local genealogy society borrows books from you!

3. The only film you've seen in the last year was the 1880 census index.

2. More than half of your CD collection is made up of marriage records or pedigrees.

1. Your elusive ancestor has been spotted in more different places than Elvis!

Genealogy Wisdom

Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business.

When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with which to share his fortune.

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away.

"I may look like just an ordinary man," he said to her, "but in just a few years, my father will die, and I'll inherit $65 million."

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later, she became his stepmother.

Understanding Geneaology has its value.

Blog: Five Interesting Genealogical Web Sites

Sometimes the road less traveled can make a difference in our genealogical research. Genealogist, writer, blogger, and indefatigable researcher, Carolyn Barkley travels that road and details five Internet genealogical stops that may make a difference in your research. Check out her article on the at

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Really Simple Explanation of Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

A Really Simple Explanation of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) by Dick Eastman

Blog Editor's Note: The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

The World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee when he launched the first web site on 6 August 1991. That web site described a new protocol that Berners-Lee had invented, called "HyperText Transfer Protocol," or http. Tim Berners-Lee's invention has become very popular in the eighteen years since that modest beginning!

How info-glut wastes valuable time

Of course, the World Wide Web has encountered various problems and "growing pains" in the past eighteen years. One of the biggest problems, in my mind, is simply that of popularity. There are millions of web sites available today. I like to check frequently with a rather large number of web sites to see what has been added recently. However, I find that checking each web site by using the 1991 technology that uses http protocol is time-consuming. Going out to each site and manually scanning to see what is new can consume quite a bit of time, especially if you want to check several hundred web sites!

Luckily, there is a simple solution: skip the http and use RSS instead.

The newer, easier, and faster way

Instead of you going out, make the new info come to you. In effect, your computer can retrieve all the new information and store that information on your hard drive.

The new RSS (Really Simple Syndication) protocol simply adds a method of automation: instead of performing repetitive tasks yourself, let your computer do them. After all, computers are really good at performing repetitive tasks.

In the old-fashioned http method, you (the user) open a web browser and go out to various web sites of interest and retrieve information. That process works well but is really slow. Checking a few hundred web sites might require hours.

In the newer method of using RSS protocol, your computer (or web program) will go out to the Web and retrieve any new information on web sites that you have specified in a list. You manually create the list, but the computer does the repetitive checking and retrieving of new information. The new information is then stored on the computer's hard drive, waiting for you to read it. Since the information is already stored for you, there is no waiting for web pages to display. Reading new articles that have been stored on a local hard drive is as fast or perhaps faster than reading new e-mail messages in an e-mail program.

Speed is the key here. In fact, if you connect to the Internet via a dial-up connection, you need RSS! However, even users of the highest speed fiber optic connections will find RSS to be pleasantly faster than retrieving information in the old-fashioned way. You can now check hundreds of web sites for newly-added information within a very few minutes, not hours.

What you need: a reader and subscriptions

First, you need an RSS reader. There are many to choose from for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Palm, SmartPhone, and Apple iPhone operating systems. Most of them are available free of charge; a few with advanced features cost a few dollars. I'd suggest that you start with a free RSS reader and use that until you become experienced enough to understand the advantages of a commercial reader. I suspect that most users never upgrade; they keep using their free RSS readers for years.

An RSS reader might be a bit of software that you install on a local computer or it might be software that runs on a distant web server in the best "cloud computing" manner. Free web-based RSS readers are available at (, Newsgator (, Bloglines (, and many others.

Installing an RSS reader in your own computer usually results in faster operation, especially for people who do not have high-speed internet service. Hundreds of such newsreaders are available. However, if you are new to RSS, I would suggest that you start with one of the following:

* Windows: FeedDemon -
* Macintosh: NetNewsWire -
* Web-based: Google Reader -

You can easily switch to a different RSS reader at a later date if you wish to. Your list of monitored web sites can be exported as an OPML file and then imported into any other modern RSS reader; you won't have to manually create your list again.

Next, you need to "subscribe" to the web sites you wish to monitor. In this step you find web sites that offer information in RSS format. Luckily, millions of web sites do just that today. Most major news services, stock market information services, weather forecasts, sports reports, and much more are available as RSS feeds. I even monitor my checkbook entries via an online RSS feed!

In addition, almost all blogs offer RSS feeds. One estimate claims there are more than 50 million blogs, and that the number is increasing rapidly.

My EOGN web site has offered RSS feeds for more than five years, and there are many other genealogy web sites that also offer RSS feeds.

Subscribing means creating a list of sites you are interested in monitoring. The exact process will vary from one RSS reader to another, so you will need to read the program's documentation to find the exact steps for creating that list in the RSS reader you selected. With most RSS readers, you use a normal web browser to first find a web site of interest, then switch to the RSS reader and give it a command to "check this site often." In many cases, you can simply enter the URL for a favorite web site in a subscription search box. If that site offers an RSS feed, it will automatically be added to your list.

Most RSS readers check for updates at least daily; most can check even more often than that. Should you wish to, most RSS readers will even check hourly.

Use your computer for automation

Instead of manually going out to find new information, you can make that info come to you. In effect, your computer retrieves all the new information and stores that information on your hard drive or on the hard drive of a single web server. The end result is simpler, easier, and much faster operation.

New articles will start arriving in your RSS reader without any action on your part.

I can say two things about RSS readers: they simplify your life, and they are almost as addictive as genealogy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Technology Tip of the Month--Inserting Images into Shapes Using Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010

From the Genealogy Gems newsletter (No. 82, December 31, 2010) published by the Fort Wayne Library by Kay Spears.

I know I promised an article on footnotes; however, thanks to an alert reader we are going to cover inserting images into shapes using Microsoft Word version 2010 (version 2007 is similar). The instructions in the previous article worked for version 2003.

Newer versions of Microsoft Word combine the standard menu bar, taskbar and toolbars into what is called a “ribbon.” The tabs on the “ribbon” are: File, Home, Insert, Page layout, References, Mailings, Review, and View. Choose the Insert tab, click on Shapes, and then select one of the many shapes available. As soon as you pick a shape, your cursor turns into a cross. Holding down the left click button on your mouse, drag and your selected shape will appear. The easiest way to insert an image into the shape is by right clicking on the shape. When you do so, the old drawing toolbar and a shape menu will pop up. I will now explain how to insert an image by using each of those tools.

The Paint Bucket method: Click on the Paint Bucket drop down arrow and four options for further action appear: Fill Colors, Picture, Gradient, and Texture. Click on Picture. An Insert Picture dialog box will open. Locate the folder with your image in it and click on that image, then click on Insert at the bottom of the dialog box. Your selected image will fill the shape.

The Shape Menu method: Right click on the shape and find Format Shape at the bottom of the menu. Click on Format Shape, and then Fill. Select Picture or Texture Fill, then click Insert From: Fill. An Insert Picture dialog box will open. Locate the folder with your image in it and click on that image, then click on Insert at the bottom of the dialog box. Your selected image will fill the shape.

Once your image is inserted into a shape, the Format Shape dialog box becomes a Format Picture dialog box. Those who have worked with Adobe Photoshop or Elements may be familiar with some of the visual effects tools that Microsoft has placed in this dialog box. I’d recommend experimenting with these options: Reflection, Glow and Soft Edges, Picture Correction, Picture Color and Artistic Effect. I think you'll
be pleased with some of the effects you can produce with these tools.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Preserve Your Family History for FREE at

This morning while scanning my surname genealogy message newsgroups I ran across this sentence from one of the posters:-

"I have info on this family but only on paper since I lost everything on the computer."

The one big thing I preach in my classes over and over is to backup your genealogy. It is a must. My genealogy students have also heard this many times. My favorite word is . . . wait for it . . . FREE!

So when I saw this interesting article on the morning feed from my friend Dick Eastman, I had to check it out.

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

BackupMyTree is a FREE (I've taught Dick well-LVH), automatic backup service that is focused exclusively on genealogy files. I have written before about BackupMyTree at However, the online service has matured significantly since my earlier article. New features have been added and one or two shortcomings have been corrected.

I was impressed to learn that BackupMyTree now backs up more than three terabytes of family tree data for more than 16,000 registered users. I decided to try the newest and latest version of BackupMyTree.

What happens to all your genealogy data when your hard drive crashes? Note that I wrote "WHEN your hard drive crashes," not IF it crashes. All hard drives will crash sooner or later. If you have a recent backup available, a hard drive crash can be inconvenient. If you do not have a recent backup available, the same hard drive crash will be a disaster.

BackupMyTree is designed to save you when your hard drive does crash. BackupMyTree backs up your data NOW to multiple hard drives under control of the company. Even if one of the company's hard drives later crashes, your data remains safe and secure on the remaining drives. You can restore your data at any time.

In short, BackupMyTree works with many of today's most popular genealogy programs, although not with all of them. It is an automatic backup program to preserve your data and allow you to retrieve that data at any time. BackupMyTree automatically finds and backs up industry standard GEDCOM files as well as data files created by Family Tree Maker, Personal Ancestral File, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic (version 4 or later), Family Tree Builder, Family Tree Legends, Ancestral Quest, Ancestry Family Tree, Reunion for Mac, and GenoPro. Note the inclusion of Reunion for Macintosh. The rest are all Windows programs.

When your hard drive crashes, you first repair the damage. Then you log back onto the service and download any or all of your genealogy files. Your genealogy information is preserved.

Of course, BackupMyTree has many other uses besides recovering from hardware failures. First of all, it protects you from the "OOOPS Factor." That is, the accidental deletion of information. Security experts tell us that more data is lost by human error than by all the hardware failures combined. BackupMyTree provides protection against both problems. In fact, BackupMyTree stores previous versions of your family tree file should anything become corrupted. This feature can also come in handy when you accidentally add or delete data and need to revert to an earlier version of your own files.

Another use of BackupMyTree is when you are at a friend's house or even at a genealogy conference. You can easily grab that family tree file you left at home from anywhere you can access a web browser.

Note that BackupMyTree is designed to back up only your genealogy files, not everything on your hard drive.

The thing that fascinates me most about BackupMyTree is how it automatically finds and backs up your files. With most other online backup products, you have to specify what files or folders to back up. Of course, these other products assume you are a knowledgeable computer user and that you know where every file of importance is stored on your own hard drive.

BackupMyTree takes a different approach. When the software is installed on your computer, it (optionally) searches for every GEDCOM file and every file created by any of the software products mentioned earlier. All of the files it finds are added to the list of files to be backed up. While I always know where my primary databases are stored, BackupMyTree is really good at finding those miscellaneous files I had forgotten about. I didn't remember that small GEDCOM file a cousin sent me by email but BackupMyTree found it in my email program and backed it up, all without any intervention by me.

Of course, there are many options. I have described the default actions. However, each user can override most of the default settings and customize BackupMyTree as he or she pleases.

In fact, it isn't even necessary to install software in your computer. I suspect that most users will install the BackupMyTree software for Windows. After all, it provides the most convenient use of the service. However, for those who wish to do everything manually, you can upload files using the manual upload system. BackupMyTree will store the files for you with all the same protections as if you're using the software.

One of the recent changes to BackupMyTree is the ability to exclude groups of files. Previously, you could only exclude files one by one, a tedious process if you had hundreds of files. The latest version now includes a checkbox that says: Allow Multiple Selections, allowing the user to easily exclude or include multiple files in a much easier way.

The online service also recently added the ability to upload genealogy files that are ZIP'd. The code is intelligent; you can put as many trees into a ZIP as you like. This is great for users who use the manual upload function and who don't want to install the Windows software client.

Security of your data is an issue with any online backup service. With BackupMyTree, your family tree files are protected by 128-bit SSL security during transfer from your computer to the servers. Nobody can intercept your data while it is being sent via SSL encryption. Next, your family tree files are stored on Amazon's S3 storage infrastructure so you can be sure it's safe and secure. Amazon even stores multiple copies of all data so there's no risk that a file will be destroyed by a hardware failure in a server. For a detailed explanation of the security being used, read Overview of Security Processes at

The use of BackupMyTree is automatic. If you install the software and use the default settings, the software will automatically make frequent backups of your genealogy data. The first backup will take several hours if you have a lot of data. Later backups will perform quickly as they only back up the new information recently added. The previous information is already resident on the servers so there is no need to keep backing up the same information time and time again. Should you need to restore the data, BackupMyTree will automatically retrieve what information you specify and assemble it into one dataset. You never have to combine retrieved files to get what you want; BackupMyTree does that for you automatically.

Backups are performed simultaneously while you are using the computer for other tasks. The backups might slow the computer down slightly while a backup is in progress. However, most users report they don't notice any change in computer operations.

Did I mention that all of this is FREE?

OK, now what is your excuse now for not backing up the genealogy files that required hundreds of hours for you to research and create?

BackupMyTree is supported on Windows XP, Vista, and on Windows 7. It reportedly works on earlier versions of Windows as well but is not officially supported on those older products.

BackupMyTree provides fast, automatic backup and off-site storage for all of your family tree files. All of the most popular family tree file formats are supported. You can retrieve any or all of your files at any time. It is FREE, simple, easy, safe and secure.

I rarely recommend specific products but I am recommending this one. BackupMyTree should be installed on every genealogist's Windows computer.

You can learn more about this great free service at

Preservation Tip of the Month--Care and Management of CD-ROMs/DVDs

From the Genealogy Gems newsletter (No. 82, December 31, 2010) published by the Fort Wayne Library:

During the holidays, you’ve likely took a number of digital pictures, and perhaps even exchanged information electronically with a family member. As your thoughts turn to backing up that data and you plan to use CD-ROMs or DVDs, we have a couple of common-sense tips for you.

*Use a soft marker to label the disks.

*If you're going to use a label, use one that covers the surface evenly. Don't use something like a return address label, as it will make the disc off-balance in today's high-speed drives, causing damage to the disc and/or the drive.

*Burn more than one copy, and store a copy in a different location than the computer. If your house burns down, the back-up disk doesn't do you any good if it was laying next to the computer.

*Check your media periodically, perhaps once every six months. If something is wrong, immediately burn another copy from one of the other backup disks.

*Use only high-quality media. In most cases, you do get what you're paying for.

*Don't use re-writable CDs or DVDs. The chemical process that allows the recording media to be written onto repeatedly is not as stable over the long term.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Legacy Tip: How to create a 2011 birthday / anniversary calendar using Legacy Family Tree

Now that the new year is here, why not resolve to be a better relative by remembering family birthdays and anniversaries? Two features of Legacy Family Tree makes this easy to do:

•Legacy's birthday and anniversary reminders described here.
•Legacy's Calendar Creator.

Legacy can create a birthday calendar, an anniversary calendar, or a combination of the two. There are options to include a cover picture, picture pages above each calendar month, and complete control over color, layout, shadows, fonts, page size, and more. The calendars can be blank or include the birthdates and anniversaries of the people already entered in your family file.

That's right! Because the information (birthdays and anniversaries) is already in your Legacy family file, Legacy will automatically add this to the calendar pages. With the who to include options, you can customize the calendar so only certain family lines are included. You even have the option to skip the anniversaries of divorced couples.

You can get started by clicking on this link.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Google Earth 6 now available (free)

Google Earth has done it again. And this time, genealogists will be dancing with excitement.

After viewing the new Historical Imagery video for the newly-released Google Earth 6, I can't wait to start using these new tools. In Google Earth 6, you can travel back in time to see imagery from previous years.

You can download Google Earth 6 at . Watch the Historical Imagery video below.

Genealogy Tip - Are You Building Your Own Brick Walls?

By Joan Young as published in the Rootsweb Review:

It's a new year, a new opportunity to dust off some of your trickiest research issues and take another crack at finding the answers.

We all have them--brick walls, impossible to locate ancestors who we swear arrived on a mother ship from Mars and plopped full-grown in the place we first found them leaving no trail or records in their wake. Mind you, these elusive ancestors lived well before the days of the Witness Protection Program. They probably were not spies or secret agents whose identity was changed or hidden. They most likely didn't need protection from the bad guys (or maybe the good guys) despite possible family stories to the contrary.

Granted there are occasions where there simply is no evidence to be found for your brick wall ancestor, but there may also be instances where your approach to breaking down the wall may need some fine tuning.

Here are a few suggestions for taking a New Year's shot at cracking those long-standing brick walls.

1) If you have only considered that your SMITHs are English expand your horizons if you have no direct proof of ethnicity. Take a look at who your John SMITH married and what community he lived in and his religious affiliation. You may find that John SMITH was originally Johan SCHMIDT. Being locked into assumptions of ethnicity can result in building your own brick wall.

2) Did your Aunt Susie tell you great-grandmother Matilda was a "Cherokee Princess?" Examine anything you can find about Matilda such as census records and place of birth before you run off to check Cherokee records. Even if you don't know Matilda's maiden name, clues such as her birth location could help you establish whether Aunt Susie was on the mark or not. Since Native Americans didn't use titles such as "Princess" the use of this term could be an indication that not everything you were told was completely accurate even if there is a kernel of truth to the story.

3) Have you been accepting the family trees you found online which list no sources for your John SMITH in Arkansas being the same John SMITH who fought for the Union in the Civil War from Maine? Family trees are a great resource, but make sure you personally verify sources for the data you find there. Do not accept online unsourced information at face value. If no sources are given, contact the database submitter, when possible, to learn where they got their facts. Finding multiple trees or messages listing "facts" with no sources is no guarantee of accuracy. Others may simply have copied from the original submitter.

4) Have you given up on finding your SMITH ancestors because you searched everything online and off last year and the year before and found nothing? Thousands of new records are added online and placed in files at your local historical society library (or a society in the area where you first located your SMITHs) every year. Always start off the New Year with a fresh search to see what might have come to light or been digitized since you last checked.

The point of all of these suggestions is to keep an open mind, don't jump to conclusions, and while not ignoring family stories and lore, consider other possibilities as well. Follow where the evidence trail leads you rather than leaping to conclusions or jumping at illogical connections.

If you do make new discoveries about elusive brick wall ancestors be sure to post them online in an updated family tree, or on a message board or mailing list. Sharing what you have learned will help others and provide them with an opportunity to share any additional data they uncover with you.

Happy hunting in 2011!

Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 12 January 2011, Vol. 14, No. 1

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Two New Family History Blogs

Thanks to the favorable response and feedback we have received from visitors to this blog, Gayle and I have now moved our family history information to new separate genealogy blogs. We will continue to focus on general genealogy information and announcements on this blog.

You can find information on all of Gayle's family history on her new blog at

You can find information on all of Larry's family history on his new blog at

Hope you enjoy the new look and continue to watch this blog for new stuff of general interest to the genealogist and family historian.