Friday, June 26, 2009

Tukufu Zuberi Wows Researchers at Jamboree

When I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Tukufu of the popular PBS TV series The History Detectives on The Genealogy Gems Podcast (Episode 63) I found him to be articulate, warm and sincere in his passion for history.

Tukufu managed to convey that same warmth and sincerity to a packed banquet room of happily tired out genealogists (after day 1 of The Southern California Genealogical Jamboree) and re-energized them with research stories from his show and thoughtful ideas about why history and more specifically family history resonates with so many of us.

He illustrated the positive and the negative outcomes of the stories they have covered on the the series with carefully selected video clips. Then the genealogical story got more personal as he shared his own journey through the DNA testing process.

But where he really drove his overall message home was when an audience member asked him why he thought genealogy was growing in popularity at this point in time. He then proudly pulled out his brand new iPhone and discussed the "disconnected" way that we as human communicate these days, and how we still have a driving desire to be connected. And genealogy benefits by both technology and that desire for human connection.

And as I looked around and saw many face (live, and in person) that I had gotten to know via Twitter, Facebook, blogging and podcasting, it struck me how all of these mediums add a new and rich dimension to the long standing genealogy conference. Had they not existed it would have been easy to feel alone in that crowded room. And yet social media, in tandem with live events such as Jamboree, offer a richer's a terrific time to be a genealogist!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Made it - Let's Get This Party Started!

My daughter (and stand-in podcaster) Lacey and I just arrived in Burbank. Freeway traffic was reasonable and we made it here in one piece. Had a minor scuffle with the entrance gate, but we now have our parking space and we're ready to get this weekend started!

This is our first time here at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree which is sort of odd since we live in California. But I feel sure already it won't be our last.

I think online social media is going to add an electric dimension to this conference. Folks have been busy on Twitter and Facebook for weeks and the conference is going to offer us some long awaited face time!

And I hope to get loads of "face time" with you! I'll be teaching my two fave classes:

Sunday 11:00 am
SU-19 Google: A Goldmine of Genealogy Gems I

Sunday 1:00 - 2:00 pm
SU-26 Google: A Goldmine of Genealogy Gems II

We're going to make Google stand on it's head for your research!

I'll also be sitting on the panel for the Son of Blogger Summit talking about one of my other favorite things - blogging.

Saturday 9:30 - noon
SA - 09 Summit 2 - Son of Blogger

And when I'm not teaching I'll be working the Family Tree Magazine booth in the exhibit hall (Table 118) and conducting a host of interviews with some of the top names in genealogy so that I can bring their expertise to you on the podcasts!

So if you're at Jamboree come on by and let's get some "Face Time!"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Need Help with Kentucky Research?

Friend of Genealogy Gems Arlene Eakle has launched a new Kentucky blog. Her preliminary blog describes the chronic problems of Kentucky genealogy, and the first post is an example of the kind of thorough research that Arlene says solves the chronic problems for Kentucky genealogy--about the Hanks ancestry of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. President Lincoln said, "I, too, am a Kentuckian." In each blog post Arlene promises to provide you with examples and sources that will increase your genealogy success in Kentucky!

Visit Arlene Eakle's Kentucky Blog now...

Listen to Arlene on the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast: Episode 25 All about Civil Birth Records, and Episode 26 All about Church Birth Records.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thank You Family Tree Magazine from Genealogy Gems

In just over two years Genealogy Gems has grown from a mere 21 listeners when Episode 1 of The Genealogy Gems Podcast was published, to thousands of listeners in 100 countries.

We're humbled that thousands of people around the world take time out of their busy days to listen in to both the The Genealogy Gems Podcast and the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast as well visit the website, watch the videos and read the e-newsletter and this blog.

But it's icing on the cake to be recognized by Family Tree Magazine as one of the 101 Best Web Sites for Genealogy!

This annual list appears in the September 2009 issue, which is now going out to subscribers and goes on sale at newsstands nationwide on Tuesday, July 7. The full list can also be found on their Web site.

Family Tree Magazine is America's largest-circulation genealogy magazine, helping readers discover, preserve, and celebrate their family history. In addition to the bimonthly print magazine, they publish how-to genealogy CDs, blogs, books, and a free monthly podcast.

They also offer a free weekly e-mail newsletter that will keep you up to date on everything going on at the magazine and in the world of genealogy.

Thanks to all the listeners, guests, sponsors, and friends of the shows. YOU ARE Genealogy Gems!

Pets in Your Pedigree

Your Family Tree potentially just got bigger...The Facebook application, We're Related has a new feature.

In response to a recent survey, they have added a feature to the application that allows you to include Jenny the Gerbil, Buster your favorite hound dog, or any other number of beloved pets at the bottom of your pedigree chart in the My Tree section.

So what do you think? Why or why should we not include the family's pet boa constrictor in our family tree?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Compelling Videos At The New National Archives YouTube Channel

Here's a press release from the National Archives. The official launch of the National Archives YouTube Channel is tomorrow, but you can grab a sneak peek today. At the end of this post is my favorite pick.

National Archives Channel to highlight upcoming events and showcase film holdings Washington, DC. . . On Friday, June 19, the National Archives will formally launch a YouTube channel to showcase popular archived films, inform the public about upcoming events around the country, and bring National Archives exhibits to the people. The launch will coincide with the National Archives 75th Anniversary. The URL is

Every week the National Archives will roll out a new film on one or more of its YouTube channel playlists. These include the following:

* From the Archives to the Moon: This video playlist features footage from the start of the space race through the landing of a man on the moon.

* Favorite Things - What's at Your Presidential Libraries: Over a series of 14 videos, directors from 12 separate presidential libraries discuss their 'favorite things' from their respective Presidential Libraries including Air Force One and the famous rooftop staircase from the embassy evacuation in Vietnam.

* Tracing World War II: Released in chronological order, these War Department reels follow American progress through World War II from the bombing at Pearl Harbor to Armistice.

* Touring 1930s America: Combining well-crafted, first-hand accounts from the Great Depression and sweeping footage from the Department of Interior taken in the 1930s, this playlist guides viewers through Depression-era America.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Heraldry Myth Busting

The June 2009 episode of The Family Tree Magazine P0dcast has just been published and includes:
  • upcoming genealogy events—just in time for summer conference season
  • options for hiring genealogists to help with research tasks big and small
  • ways to genealogically capitalize on family reunions
  • what’s new at Swedish data site Genline
  • the truth behind heraldic myths

This is a fave episode of mine because I got to chat with professional genealogist Sharon DeBartolo Carmack who did quite a bit of myth-busting about heraldry.

And just in time for those summer family reunions author Sunny Morton dishes up some terrific ideas (to go along with the potato salad!) for cultivating genealogical information while nurturing relationships.

What are some of your favorite ways to coax family history from your relatives at family reunions?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Millionth Digitized Newspaper Page Posted in Chronicling America

I think this is pretty incredible! And best of all these pages are FREE!

Tuesday, 16 Jun 2009
The Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities today marked a major milestone in their partnership to digitize historic U.S. newspapers and make them widely available to the public on the Internet. During an event held at the Newseum, Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, announced that the Chronicling America website (—a free, national, searchable database of historic American newspaper pages published between 1880 and 1922—recently posted its millionth page. Read more about it.

FamilySearch Indexing Updates

Here's an overview of significant updates were made recently to the FamilySearch Indexing application and Web site. Batch Sharing seems to be the most popular of the new features. Following are brief descriptions of the updates:

Batch Sharing. This exciting new feature appeals to indexers who enjoy online social networking capability. It allows two volunteers (indexers or arbitrators) to collaborate on a batch. Both indexers can view the same batch, and using the indexers’ preferred instant messaging tool or phone, they can discuss and index the batch together. One indexer will have read-write capability and the other will have read only.

Tip of the Day. A dialog box will greet indexers when they sign in to the indexing application. Best practices and other quick time saving tools will be shared.

Project Selection Dialog Box. This feature (which appears when you click the Download From… button) will have the option to show all projects or only those that match an indexer’s preferences. It will also display the difficulty level of each project.

Fields Marked for Review. Indexers can choose to display either a red wavy line or colored background in fields marked for review. The color and transparency of the background can also be changed.

Image Type. This will now be the first field in every batch. Indexer will select the description of each image (Normal, Blank, or Duplicate) from the list provided.

Header Data Tab. A new tab in the data entry area will enable indexers to enter information that applies to an entire document just once. Not all batches will include this tab. It will open first when a batch is downloaded.

New Icons. The icons used to mark a field or record “unreadable” will have a blue question mark on them instead of a red slash.Volunteers can register anytime and begin indexing immediately at

New indexing projects added this week are:
Argentina Censo 1869—Santiago y Santa Fe
Australia, Greenwich—Genealogical Records, 1776–1980
Australia, NSW—Bounty Immigrants, 1824–1842 (This is a regional project.)
Pennsylvania—1920 U.S. Federal Census
U.K., Cheshire Parish Records [Part 2], 1538-1850
(See the chart below for a complete list and current status of all indexing projects).

Recently Completed Projects (Note: Recently completed projects have been removed from the available online indexing batches and will now go through a final completion check process in preparation for future publication.)

· Argentina Censo 1869—Corrientes y Entre Rios
· Canada, British Columbia Births, 1854–1903
· Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1916–1922 [Part 1]
· Mississippi—1920 U.S. Federal Census
· Rhode Island—1920 U.S. Federal Census
· UK, Cheshire—Land Tax, 1778–1832
· Vermont—1920 U.S. Federal Census

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Free Newspapers Added to Flickr

Chronicling America Newspapers Added to Library of Congress Flickr Commons

The Library of Congress has added historic newspaper pages from Chronicling America to its Flickr photostream in the Flickr Commons. This set of cover pages from the New-York Tribune (New York, NY) illustrated supplements begins with the year 1909. These pictorial pages are selected from the Chronicling America newspaper resource at the Library of Congress and more will be added monthly.

The advantage to having these images available in Flickr is that you can tag them, add notes, see the set in a slideshow, share them! Check it out...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1851 - 1916 Canadian Census Just Launched, in partnership with Library and Archives Canada (LAC), today completed the world-first online launch of the Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1916. Never before have all of the nine available national censuses been published online, fully indexed and including original document images.

Together, these censuses contain more than 32 million names - all searchable for the first time - of those living in Canada from the mid 19th century through to the early 20th century – a period of nationhood, new arrivals, great change and significant growth.

With a one in two chance of Canadians finding ancestors in the Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1916, the originals of which are held by LAC, expects the collection to explode interest for family history in Canada.

Ancestry says that they hope by making this collection available online, many Canadians who are interested in knowing more about their family history but who haven't known where or how to get started may now be inspired to do so.

Josh Hanna, Senior VP, says that “’s partnership with LAC has ensured the digitization of these vital records and will enable millions of Canadians, not to mention countless others around the world in countries such as the UK, France and the US, to access the records online for the first time and search for their family.”

Familysearch International also worked on this ambitious project to deliver the images and indexes for the 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1916 Censuses.The Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1916 are now available to Canada and World Deluxe members and through a 14-day free trial and can be viewed at

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Answers to One of the Biggest Challenges Researchers Face

Getting your desk organized is a big job. But the challenge doesn't end at your desktop. Nowadays you have to deal with keeping the files stored on your computer organized too.

I would go so far as to say that one of the biggest challenges we face as family history researchers is not finding a document online or in an archive...but rather finding a document on our own computer hard drive!

The files in your computer can easily become as unwieldy as the files on your desk. But never fear because Hard Drive Organization is here! Listen to Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Episode 32 and I will introduce you to a computer organizational system that has worked flawlessly for me for nearly a decade.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D Day Anniversary - Watch the Video

What can I possible say about today, the 65th Anniversary of D-Day? Each time I've tried to write this blog, I've stopped short realizing that words really aren't adequate for describing the debt that we owe the brave soldiers who stormed the beaches on June 6, 1944.

It is the veterans of WW II who really know what happened on that fateful day. And those who are still with us are our living memory.

But according to an article in the Yorkshire Post, "the problem is that few bother to ask. New research shows that 22 percent of under 16 year olds don't even know if their family members were involved in the Second World War...for a significant number, knowledge about the war comes solely from films or computer games."

Read the article Disappearing Memories of War That are Fighting to be Heard and be inspired to talk to your living WWII veterans, as well as preserve the memories of those we've already lost.

This posting is dedicated to our dear family friend George O'Neill age 85 who served, and to the memory of William H. Cooke who served in the Navy in the Alleutian Islands.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Copyright Fees Begin August 1, 2009

The U.S. Copyright Office in the Library of Congress is amending its fees for copyright services. Thanks to cost-savings achieved through increased office automation, some fees will remain the same or decrease. Other fees—mostly for services requiring manual labor—will rise.

Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights, submitted a report to Congress in March analyzing changes in costs arising from the reengineering of the Copyright Office in 2007 and the introduction last year of an electronic system for processing copyright applications. The report also considered general economic factors and the requirement in copyright law that fees be fair and equitable and support the objectives of the copyright system. The new fees are scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1, 2009.

The proposed fee for filing a copyright application online, using the new electronic Copyright Office known as eCO, remains $35. The report concluded that the Copyright Office realizes substantial savings from eCO as a result of not having to process a paper form, manually enter and quality-review data, and process a fee payment.

Fees for other filing options, however, will rise. The proposed new fee for using fill-in Form CO is $50, an increase of $5. The new fee for paper applications is $65, an increase of $20. The report stated that these fees reflect the Copyright Office’s desire to "discourage use of the traditional paper forms, which are the most costly to provide and process, by imposing a fee that reflects this greater cost."

"More than 50 percent of copyright claims are now being submitted through eCO," Peters said. "If the new fee structure inspires another 30 to 40 percent of filers to use eCO, the total annual savings for filers and the government will be tremendous, and filers will get their registration certificates more quickly—the waiting time to receive certificates is much shorter for users of eCO than for those who submit paper applications."

Other advantages of electronic filing—in addition to a lower filing fee and the fastest processing time—include the ability to track the status of claims online, to pay by credit or debit card and to upload certain categories of registered works electronically.

The Copyright Office is proposing that corresponding fees stay the same or be reduced for services for which costs have remained constant or dropped since fees were last adjusted in July 2006. For services where costs have gone up—specifically those requiring manual work by staff—the Copyright Office is proposing fee increases to offset rising costs. In addition to registrations filed on paper applications, services affected include document recordation and record searches.

"The Copyright Office has traditionally charged fees that recover less than the full cost of registration," Peters explained. "It does so for two reasons: first, to encourage participation in the copyright system as a way to provide the fullest possible record of copyrighted works for public use and, second, to enhance the Library of Congress collections." Applicants for copyright registration must submit copies of their works. Each year, the Copyright Office typically forwards to the Library’s collections more than a million deposited copies, including books, maps, music and motion pictures.

For a complete list of adjusted fees, go to

Under copyright law, fee adjustments proposed by the Register of Copyrights can be implemented 120 days after a new schedule is submitted to Congress unless Congress enacts a law beforehand stating that it does not approve the new fees.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Never Before Available Records Soon To Be Released

Yesterday a signing ceremony at the National Archives allowed for millions of Alien files to become permanent records at the National Archives.

A joint signing ceremony between the National Archives and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the National Archives designated millions of files become permanent. If anyone in your family was one of the millions of aliens residing in the United States in 1944, or arrived since that time, you're in luck.

The Alien Case Files (commonly referred to as A-Files) document the famous, the infamous, the anonymous and the well-known, and are touted as a genealogical goldmine.

According to NARA "The new agreement authorizes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services/Department of Homeland Security to send A-files to the National Archives when 100 years have passed since the birth date of the subject of a file. The National Archives expects to receive the first transfer of A-files later this year, and will store the files at National Archives facilities in San Francisco and Kansas City. Researchers will be able to access the files at these two sites, or request copies of files. An index will be available to support research use."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Donut Day Today Has WWI Origins

According to the Library of Congress, National Doughnut Day is June 1 and actually honors the Salvation Army “Lassies” of World War I.

"The original Salvation Army doughnut was first served by the nonprofit organization in 1917. During WWI, the lassies were sent to the front lines of Europe, where they made home-cooked foods and provided a morale boost to the troops. Two Salvation Army volunteers—Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance—came up with the idea of providing doughnuts. Sheldon wrote of one busy day: "Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee." Often, the doughnuts were cooked in oil poured into a soldier’s metal helmet.

National Doughnut Day started in 1938 as a fundraiser for the Chicago Salvation Army. Its goal was to help the needy during the Great Depression and to honor the Salvation Army Lassies of World War I, who were the only women outside of military personnel allowed to visit the front lines."

Read the rest of the story in the Library of Congress' "Wise Guide"