Tuesday, September 29, 2009

National Archives and Footnote.com Announce New Digital Holocaust Collection

Washington DC and Lindon, UT -September 29, 2009
The National Archives and Records Administration and Footnote.com today announced the release of the internet's largest Interactive Holocaust Collection. For the first time ever, over one million Holocaust-related records - including millions of names and 26,000 photos from the National Archives- will be available online. The collection can be viewed at: http://www.footnote.com/holocaust

"We cannot afford to forget this period in our history," said Dr. Michael Kurtz, Assistant Archivist of the United States and author of America and the Return of Nazi Contraband: The Recovery of Europe's Cultural Treasures. "Working with Footnote, these records will become more widely accessible, and will help people now and in the future learn more about the events and impact of the Holocaust."

Included among the National Archives records available online at Footnote.com are:

* Concentration camp registers and documents from Dachau, Mauthausen, Auschwitz, and Flossenburg
* The "Ardelia Hall Collection" of records relating to the Nazi looting of Jewish possessions, including looted art
* Captured German records including deportation and death lists from concentration camps
* Nuremberg War Crimes Trial proceedings

Access to the collection will be available for free on Footnote.com through the month of October.

The collection also includes nearly 600 interactive personal accounts of those who survived or perished in the Holocaust provided by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The project incorporates social networking tools that enable visitors to search for names and add photos, comments and stories, share their insights, and create pages to highlight their discoveries. There will be no charge to access and contribute to these personal pages.

"These pages tell a personal story that is not included in the history text books," said Russ Wilding, CEO of Footnote.com. "They give visitors a first-hand glimpse into the tragic events of the Holocaust and allow users to engage with content such as maps, photos, timelines and personal accounts of victims and survivors through over 1 million documents."

So that visitors may more easily access and engage the content, Footnote.com has created a special Holocaust site featuring:

* Stories of Holocaust victims and survivors
* Place where visitors can create their own pages to memorialize their Holocaust ancestors
* Pages on the concentration camps - includes descriptions, photos, maps, timelines and accounts from those who survived the camps
* Descriptions and samples of the original records from the National Archives

The Holocaust collection is the latest in a continuing partnership between Footnote.com and the National Archives to scan, digitize, and make historical records available online. The goal is to give more people access to these and other historical records that have previously only been available through the research room of the National Archives. This partnership brings these priceless resources to an even greater number of people and enables the National Archives to provide ever-greater access to these critical holdings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Who Do You Think You Are? Update

While the U.S. version of the hit British television series Who Do You Think You Are? hasn't made it to the airwaves yet, it has been sold down under. Australia's Nine Network has purchased the broadcast rights to the show being produced by Lisa Kudrow and her production company.

An article at www.Broadcastnow.co.uk not only confirms the sale, but also reports that the U.S. version will now premiere in January 2010. Lisa Kudrow has recently been on the road promoting the show and also told Bonnie Hunt on her daytime show that it's on the way, so it may happen after all.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Video Interview with the Ancestry Insider

At the Family History Expo in Salt Lake City, UT last month I had the opportunity to interview the mystery man of genealogy - the Ancestry Insider.  See it, and him, for yourself!

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Again.

Do you remember the first time you saw Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?  Or how you felt during the scene where Jefferson Smith visits the Lincoln Memorial?  

The 70th anniversary of this American Classic is being celebrated by the National Archives with a very special screening of the film.

Washington, DC. . .The National Archives celebrates the 70th anniversary of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with a screening of the film on Thursday, October 15, at 7 p.m. The screening will be introduced by special guest Robert Osborne, film historian and host of Turner Classic Movies. This event is free and open to the public, and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building, located at Constitution and 7th St., NW.  Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.

The program is presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in partnership with The Charles Guggenheim Center for the Documentary Film and the Foundation for the National Archives.

Frank Capra's classic film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, premiered on October 17, 1939, at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. The event was sponsored by the National Press Club, who invited over 4000 guests including 45 U.S. Senators.

Starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, and Thomas Mitchell, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was nominated for 11 Academy Awards ®, and won for Writing - Original Story. Through a quirk of fate, Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), the idealistic head of the "Boy Rangers," is appointed a U.S. Senator from an unnamed state.  He soon learns the harsh realities of Washington politics, and his patriotism and belief in democracy are tested. A pristine 35mm print courtesy of the Academy will be shown. (129 minutes.)

Special Note: Mr. Osborne is available for phone interviews in advance of his appearance at the National Archives. Please contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at: (202) 357-5300.

For more information, the public should call the Public Programs Line at: (202) 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events on the web at: 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Early Bird Discount Available For Short Time for Mesa AZ Genealogy Conference

The Early Bird Registration for the 2nd Annual Mesa Family History Expo being held January 22-23, 2010 is about to expire. Special discount pricing is good only through Friday September 25, 2009.

Take advantage of this special pricing: only $55.00 for the full 2 day registration (last year it was $95.00 at the door).

I will be at the Mesa Family History Expo with my Genealogy Gems booth in the exhibit hall and teaching several classes. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Google Books Revolutionary Next Step

In the beginning...
there were books.

And the books were printed and placed in libraries.

And then Google went to the libraries and said 'They are good...but they would be BETTER digitized on Google.com.'

And then Google digitized the out-of-print and out-of-copyright (and actually more than that - don't get me started!) and put them on the Web and Google said "It is good." In fact, a lot of genealogists said that too.

And now, Google has a revolutionary idea...here it comes...wait for it...hold on to your hats...you're not going to see this one coming...here it comes....PRINT BOOKS!

Yes, Google takes the next revolutionary step of partnering to print (also read "sell") the books it worked so hard to digitize.

Google is partnering with On Demand Books to put the new Espresso Book Machine in bookstores and libraries around the world. Watch as they demonstrate how a book can be printed, bound, and delivered from digitized books on Google Books in just about 3 1/2 minutes. Watch the video below...

Who would have thunk it? Books bound in paper? Leave it to Google!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Event That Is Part of Every Family's History

In late August of 2001 Bill and I took our girls across the country to visit our nation's capitol, New York City, and Lancaster County Pennsylvania. We had an amazing time, and one of the highlights for me was two days of research at the Library of Congress.

I've been thinking a lot about that trip recently.

First because I just interviewed the head of the Genealogy Room at the Library of Congress for the September episode of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast. James Sweany, the Head of the department is incredibly knowledgeable. I asked if he would give my Genealogy Gems Premium Members an audio tour of the the Library and he graciously agreed. That tour will be available this month in Premium Episode 31. James says that visible changes include stricter security measures and non-existent parking. However, his tour will help us navigate those changes to ensure a pleasant and rewarding visit.

Second, this week marks the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Our visit to Washington DC and New York City occurred just two weeks prior to the attacks. They have since been changed in profound ways.

In a recent column entitled "Tragedy, Heros Connected to Family History by PA Land" author Rhonda Whetstone shares her memories of that fateful day - how with each news flash the events grew closer and closer to her own family and family history.

Here on the West Coast, home safely from a wonderful family vacation, we counted our blessings that our family was safe. And then we painfully watched with the rest of our small town as we discovered that one of our own citizens, Thomas Burnett, had worked alongside the other passengers on Flight 93, and lost his life trying to prevent an even greater tragedy.

Everyone's family was in some way touched that day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Historic Arkansas Marriage Records Online at FamilySearch

Here's the latest news from FamilySearch...

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS—Where genealogists gather, records are uncovered. The adage is certainly true this week as hundreds of genealogists descend on the Little Rock Statehouse Convention Center in Arkansas as part of the 2009 Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference. In anticipation of this conference, many volunteers have donated thousands of hours online to create a free online database to hundreds of thousands of historic Arkansas marriage records. The records date from 1837 to 1957. The online database includes a searchable index linked to digital images of the original marriage certificates. The volunteer project is 26 percent complete. The first fruits of the effort can be searched at FamilySearch.org (click Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot).

The free online collection currently includes 442,058 records linked to 199,431 digital images of the original marriage certificates. The records represent the counties of Ashley, Baxter, Boone, Chicot, Clay, Crittenden, Desha, Drew, Fulton, Jackson, Johnson, Lee, Logan, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Nevada, Perry, and Pike.

FamilySearch partnered with the Arkansas Genealogical Society (AGS) to create indexes to county marriages registered in Arkansas between 1837 and 1957. Jan Davenport, 1st vice president of AGS, worked closely with FamilySearch to create the project and help solicit volunteers to index the digital images using FamilySearch’s online indexing program. To date, 20,559 volunteers have helped produce the first sets of indexed data and images now available online.

FamilySearch is the global leader of online indexing. It launched its online indexing program in 2008, and tens of thousands of volunteers donate time online helping to index historic records like the Arkansas marriages collection. FamilySearch currently has 65 online indexing projects underway.

For this project, FamilySearch is creating digital images of the county marriage records and online volunteers worldwide then use FamilySearch’s Web-based indexing tool to view the digital images and extract the desired information from the image. That data is then processed and published online in free searchable indexes linked to the digital images.

Volunteers need only Internet access to contribute to this historic effort. A unique quality-control process ensures a highly accurate, finished index. Each document is transcribed by two different online indexers. Any discrepancies in their two extractions are then forwarded to a third volunteer—an arbitrator—who makes any needed corrections between the two interpretations. A typical downloaded “batch” (group of records) will take a volunteer about 30 to 40 minutes to complete. The indexing utility has built-in tutorials and helps. Anyone interested in volunteering to help complete the Arkansas project can do so at indexing.familysearch.org.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Part 2: How to Blog Your Family History and Genealogy

It's finally here...Episode 42 of the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast featuring Part 2 of How to Blog Your Family History.

I have had a blast receiving emails from listeners literally around the world about the family history blogs they are creating by following these step-by-step instructions.

In fact I'm so impressed I'm planning a future episode dedicated to highlighting these new gems of the blogosphere.

If you haven't created your own family history blog, now is the time. It's free and easy! I even have a companion video series for you that will show you how - literally - at the Genealogy Gems TV Channel at YouTube. There are 3 videos currently in the series with the 4th soon to come.