Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Angela Lansbury, Tony LaRussa and Richard Meier Honored at 2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards

Actress Angela Lansbury, center right, architect Richard Meier, left, and baseball manager Tony La Russa, right, joined by event host Meredith Vieira, second left, pose together at the 11th annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards where they were honored for their contributions to the American experience, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff for The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation)
From Ellis Island Press Release:
April 19, 2012 (Ellis Island, NY) – Today in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island three esteemed individuals were honored by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. for the contributions they have made to this “Nation of Immigrants.”

Celebrating the 120th year of Ellis Island, the 11th Annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards were hosted by NBC’s Meredith Vieira in an 11:00 a.m. ceremony. This year’s event featured an opening tribute to R.M.S. Titanic, marking the centennial of the maritime tragedy.

The 2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Award recipients are:

Born in Tampa, Florida, where his paternal grandparents had settled after arriving from Sicily through Ellis Island in 1906, Tony La Russa spent 32 years at the helm of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, winning six league championships and three World Series titles. A staunch advocate for animal rescue, he and his family founded ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) in 1991, which aids abandoned animals and uses them to rescue people in need.

RICHARD MEIERThe Arts/Architecture
This Pritzker Prize-winning architect, born in Newark, New Jersey, landed "the commission of the century" designing the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His distinct style of uncompromising minimalism enhances the cityscape from Atlanta to Barcelona to Rome. His maternal grandfather Joseph Kaltenbacher, cofounder of Seton Leather in Newark, came from Germany through Ellis Island in 1896.

ANGELA LANSBURY B.C. Forbes Peopling of America® Award – Entertainment
This beloved London-born actress, currently on Broadway in Gore Vidal's “The Best Man,” fled Britain with her family in 1940, just days before the London blitz. A star of film, stage and television for seven decades, Ms. Lansbury has received five Tonys, six Golden Globes, three Oscar nominations, and over 15 Emmy nominations. The “Murder She Wrote” star became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1951.

Each honoree received a framed copy of the original ship’s passenger manifest documenting the arrival of their family through Ellis Island or another port of entry. The Foundation’s database of ship’s passenger records available online at and in the American Family Immigration History Center® at Ellis Island documents the arrival of the more than 17 million immigrants, as well as travelers and crew members, who came through Ellis Island and the Port of New York between 1892-1924.

The Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards are given annually to a select number of immigrants or their descendants to celebrate the Golden Door to America for the 17 million immigrants who came through the Port of New York and Ellis Island. The B.C. Forbes Peopling of America® Award, sponsored by the Forbes Family, honors immigrants who arrived at another time or through another port of entry.

About The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 to raise funds for and oversee the historic restorations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, working in partnership with the National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior. Its endowment has funded over 200 projects at the islands.

Genealogy News Alert: Ancestry to Acquire

After coming out of the "shadows" with a more public image at RootsTech earlier this year, has made a name for itself in conjunction with the 1940 census roll out.  It's not surprising therefore that has had an eye on the start up. 

Today announced it's plans to acquire in the following press announcement.  The press release I received included an additional note from Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry:

"In some ways, we view our deal with as a coming-of-age moment for the online family history category....We very much view the acquisition of as a way for us to accelerate our strategy of serving multiple customer segments with well differentiated offerings. I want to emphasis that our plan is to keep as a distinct brand and site, to continue to nurture its existing partnerships, and to continue to invest in new content, product and technology."

It's clear now that considered it's "customer segment" to be family history newbies, offering affordable pricing and emphasis on more commonly known and available records.  If Ancestry keeps Archives in tact as is the stated plan, Archives will offer Ancestry a unique portal for beginners that can then funnel them up to Ancestry membership.

Do you see this as a positive or negative for the genealogy marketplace?  I look forward to your comments.


PROVO, Utah, April 25, 2012 – Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire, a family history website, for approximately $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities.

This transaction will enable to add a differentiated service targeted to a complementary segment of the growing family history category. In addition, will welcome a team of talented engineers, digital marketers, and family history innovators into the fold and also gain access to a proprietary technology platform that has supported’s rapid growth. is owned and operated by Inflection LLC, a Silicon Valley-based technology company.  Since’s launch in January 2010, the site has rapidly grown to more than 380,000 paying subscribers who pay approximately $39.95 a year. offers access to over 2.1 billion historical records, including birth records, obituaries, immigration and passenger lists, historical newspapers, and U.S. and U.K. Censuses.

“ has built a fantastic and fast-growing business that we think is highly complementary to’s online family history offering,” said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of “We love their focus on making family history simple and affordable, and we are excited to help the talented team continue to grow alongside,, and Family Tree Maker.”

“Family history remains a dynamic and growing online category,” added Sullivan. “’s focus is consistent with our mission to help everyone discover, preserve and share their family history, which will help continue our efforts in delivering amazing discoveries to an even broader audience.”

Over the past two years, has partnered with multiple well-known family history organizations that have helped build out robust collection of family history records. Most recently, partnered with the U.S. National Archives to provide free digital access to the recently released 1940 U.S. Federal Census.

“We are proud of the experience we’ve built with and believe strongly in its future potential,” said Matthew Monahan, CEO and Co-Founder of Inflection.  “Combining with positions to best capitalize on that potential, pairing complementary visions of the marketplace and the opportunity.  We’ve long admired’s content and technology and the innovations that the team continues to bring to market.  We’re excited to see how this transaction expands the reach of family history to an even larger audience.”

Upon completion of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including expiration of the HSR waiting period, will continue to operate separately retaining its brand and website.  Multiple Inflection employees, including key product and engineering executives are expected to join the team.

About Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with more than 1.8 million paying subscribers. More than 9 billion records have been added to the site in the past 15 years. Ancestry users have created more than 34 million family trees containing approximately 4 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site, offers several localized Web sites designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

About is a leading family history website that makes discovering family history simple and affordable. The company has assembled more than 2.1 billion historical records all in a single location. Archives also partners with other leading family history websites to provide a comprehensive resource for researching your family history. is free to try for seven days, allowing anyone to explore the benefits of membership without risk or obligation. For more information and to start discovering your family history, please visit

About Inflection
Inflection is a Big Data and e-commerce startup headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley. Leveraging its proprietary technology platform, the company has built innovative data services,, and Inflection was founded in 2006 and is backed by tier-one venture capitalists Matrix Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures.

Forward-looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events or to future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to be materially different from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the use of words such as "appears," "may," "designed," "expect," "intend," "focus," "seek," "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "predict," "potential," "should," "continue" or "work" or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These statements include statements concerning among other things, the proposed transaction between and, including the consummation and anticipated timing of the transaction as well as the expected benefits of the proposed transaction, and the effects of the proposed transaction on, our subscriber base or reach.  These forward-looking statements are based on information available to us as of the date of this press release. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control. In particular, such risks and uncertainties include the risk that the transaction does not close when anticipated, or at all; difficulties encountered in integrating acquired businesses and retaining customers, and the additional difficulty of integration when continuing the acquired operation; the adverse impact of competitive product announcements; failure to achieve anticipated revenues and operating performance; changes in overall economic conditions; the loss of key employees; competitors’ actions; pricing and gross margin pressures; inability to control costs and expenses; and significant litigation.

Information concerning additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements is contained under the caption "Risk Factors" in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011, and in discussions in other of our SEC filings. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date and we assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Monday, April 16, 2012

All WWII Content FREE thru April 30, 2012 at Fold3

If you've got 1940 on your mind now that the census has been released, why not take advantage of free access to WWII content to find out more about your family history?  Here's what Fold3 has to offer:
From Fold3:
In 1940, Americans were recovering from the Great Depression and on the brink of entering a world war. The recently released 1940 U.S. Census gives us data snapshots of people and families poised between two of the most devastating world-wide events of the 20th century.
After you locate someone in the 1940 Census (on, use that information to find records on Fold3, especially within the World War II Collection. Then build their personal histories with images and other details you've discovered.
Examples of what you might find include:
  • "Old Man's Draft" Registration Cards. Any man between the ages of 43 and 62 in 1940 would be required to register in 1942. It's called the "Old Man's" draft because it was a registration of an older generation with skills that would be useful on the home front, not in military action. (Hint: You can also use the addresses on these cards to help you search for people on the census before the index has been created.)
  • Missing Air Crew Reports recount riveting tales of planes shot down with and without survivors. Some of these reports include names and addresses of family members back home, as in this example for the men in this crash report.
  • War Diaries are official Navy accounts of command units' strategies and actions in battles on land, sea, and air, as well as between engagements.
  • European Theater Army Records. Shortly after the 1940 census, millions of Americans were serving in Great Britain and Europe. These records include virtually all administrative and strategic documents relating to U.S. operations in the European Theater during World War II.
There are also many compelling records and images within WWII Photos, the Interactive USS Arizona Memorial, WWII Hero Pages, and Holocaust Records. Pair the people you find in the 1940 Census to their service in World War II through documents, pages, and photos in Fold3's World War II Collection.

Get started at

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Youth Program at the National Genealogical Society 2012 Family History Conference

(Arlington, VA)–The National Genealogical Society's thirty-fourth annual Family History Conference, The Ohio River: Gateway to the Western Frontier, will be held 9–12 May 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. 
A highlight of the NGS 2012 Family History Conference will be the Genealogy Youth Kamp on Saturday, 12 May 2012, at the Duke Energy Convention Center from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.  The Kamp, designed to develop an understanding of family history, is intended for youth 8 to 16 years old.  Scouts and 4-H groups are encouraged to participate in the event with their leaders.  The morning will be composed of a variety of hands-on activities including a workshop focusing on genealogical merit badges.  A special program is planned for interested parents, grandparents, and adults who are welcome to attend. 

The Genealogy Youth Kamp is free, but registration is required.  Space is limited.  Go to to register.  After registering, please prepare for the Kamp by following the directions on the NGS Genealogy Youth Kamp web page

Get Some Extra Help Finding Your Family in the 1940 Census

News Release – For Immediate Release: April 4, 2012
Santa Monica, CA. April 4, 2012: The 1940 Census has finally been released and you can now browse the images online. But the waiting’s not over, since you still won’t be able to search the whole census by person until it’s fully indexed in several months.

Help, however, is at hand. has come up with a way to make your search quicker and simpler – by offering to do the searching for you. is the new U.S. addition to the global network of findmypast family history websites, launched in a limited, early form in time for the 1940 Census. Its unique new, customized feature, created for the 1940 Census, is called “We’ll find them for you” and is now live.

All you have to do is to visit, submit the name of the person you’re searching for, plus some extra clues, and will email you as soon as the person’s records become available.

“We’re taking the hassle and delay out of searching”, says Brian Speckart, marketing manager of “With this new feature, is going the extra mile to help you find your past as quickly and easily as possible.”

While the whole census won’t be searchable for several months, the records of individual U.S. states will be made searchable earlier, one state at a time. A couple of them are likely to be done by mid-April.

Some genealogy sites are offering to alert users simply when a particular state has been indexed. “But we’re going further and finding the particular individual you’re looking for”, says Speckart.

You have to tell in which state the person was living at the time of the 1940 Census. “As soon as that state is indexed, we run a program against the data to find the individual you’re looking for you and then email you the links we find”, says Speckart.

The job of indexing states one by one is being done by an army of volunteers under the banner of the 1940 Community Project, of which is a proud member.

Visitors to will be able to use the site’s new “We’ll find them for you” feature to submit details of the person they want to find.

Supplying the person’s first and last name and state where they were living in 1940 is all that’s required but providing additional clues will help narrow down the search results. Other helpful information includes approximate year of birth, likely birth city, place of residence in 1940 and names of other household members.

The new service isn’t just limited to family members either. Users can submit details of celebrities or other public figures and ask to find them too.
“So, if you happen to know that Marilyn Monroe’s real name was Norma Jean and which state she called home in 1940, we’ll find her for you too”, says Speckart.

MyHeritage releases mobile app for searching the 1940 census and more

Here is a nifty new tool for family history research on the go!

From the MyHeritage press release:
MyHeritage, the popular online family network, has announced the ability to search billions of historical records, including the 1940 U.S. Census, on-the-go via a new version of the free MyHeritage Mobile App for iPhone, Android and iPad. The new version 1.2 of the MyHeritage App also searches more than 22 million family trees, helping users with their family history research. 

The MyHeritage Mobile App was first introduced in December 15, 2011 and has since amassed an install base of more than 500,000. In addition to searching historical content, it allows users to take their family tree on-the-go with an attractive display specially suited for mobile devices, capture family moments for future generations and stay in touch with family anytime, anywhere.

As millions of people rush to satisfy their curiosity and access the 1940 US census - one of the most significant sets of historical records ever to be released - MyHeritage is currently the only commercial player offering both a complete set of images from all US states and a preliminary searchable index, available via the new MyHeritage App and on Access is completely free and no registration is required.

All 3.8 million images of the 1940 U.S. Census, and the initial collection of indexed records searchable by names, facts and other criteria, are now available to explore for free on the MyHeritage App, downloadable from the App Store or Google Play (formerly Android Market). The app can search the entire MyHeritage data collection of more than four billion records, many exclusive to MyHeritage, including birth, marriage, death, immigration and military records, census records, newspapers, yearbooks and much more. Available in more than 20 languages, the app enables family history lovers all over the world to explore their family’s history.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Go Inside the Titanic-Related Holdings at the National Archives in New York City

National Archives Launches New Video Short “Titanic at the National Archives – 100 Years”
Washington, DC. . . On the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic setting sail, the National Archives today is releasing its latest video short “Titanic at the National Archives – 100 Years,” taking viewers inside the Titanic-related holdings of  National Archives at New York City. The 2:41 minute video is part of the ongoing “Inside the Vaults” series:

The film series is free to view and distribute on our YouTube channel at These videos are in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions.  The National Archives encourages the free distribution of them.

As the archival repository for the records for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the National Archives at New York City holds records in the admiralty case files related to Titanic, specifically the petition filed by the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, as the owner of Titanic, for limitation of liability.  Among the documents are depositions of surviving passengers, blueprints of the ship, claims of loss and photographs.   Often in the first person, they tell the story of the sinking in dramatic detail.  In this video, National Archives archivist Bonnie Sauer, public programs specialist Dorothy Dougherty, education specialist Christopher Zarr, education technician Sara Pasquerello and volunteer William Roaka talk about their favorite Titanic documents in the holdings.  The documents are available to the public in New York City, and many can also be viewed on the National Archives’ online research system, ARC.

Background on “Inside the Vaults”
“Inside the Vaults” is part of the ongoing effort by the National Archives to make its collections, stories, and accomplishments more accessible to the public. “Inside the Vaults” gives voice to Archives staff and users, highlights new and exciting finds at the Archives, and reports on complicated and technical subjects in easily understandable presentations.  Earlier topics include the conservation of the original Declaration of Independence, and the 1297 Magna Carta, the transfer to the National Archives of the Nuremberg Laws, and the launch of a new National Archives user-friendly search engine.  The film series is free to view and distribute on our YouTube channel at

Monday, April 9, 2012

Parks and Recreation Star Discovers His Family History in Who Do You Think You Are?

I'm particularly looking forward to the next episode of NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? as it features one of my favorite actors from one of my all-time favorite shows, Parks and Recreation.  Watch the following video to see how actor Rob Lowe ventures into his past to discover his family tree.

Learn how to research your family tree by listening to my free podcast Family History: Genealogy Made Easy. Available for free subscription through iTunes. Just search "family history"

Highlight and Deleted Scene Videos from Who Do You Think You Are?

 Here are highlight videos and deleted scenes that follow Edie Falco as she learns more about her family’s history on NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? last Friday.

A Tree of Falsehoods
Edie learns that the known genealogical facts about her family tree are actually all incorrect:

Criminal Intercourse
Edie leans about the bitter divorce of her ancestors and the mudslinging that occurred during their contentious court battle:

A Battle for Divorce in Edie's Family History
Edie learns about the troubling details of her ancestors' contentious divorce and the fight over the custody of their children:

You can catch up with Edie Falco as she traces her roots with Friday’s episode here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Genealogy Just Got More Exciting! The 1940 Census is Here

It's not every day that a new record group becomes available that will help you learn more about your family history. But yesterday, April 2, 2012 was one of those special days! Who will you be looking for?  Do you plan on volunteering to help with indexing?

National Archives Releases 1940 Census

Washington, D.C. . . Ever wondered where your family lived before WWII;  whether they owned their home; if they ever attended high school or college; if they were born in the United States, and if not, where?  Unlocking family mysteries and filling in the blanks about family lore became much easier today with the release of the 1940 census by the National Archives and Records Administration.  By law the information on individuals in the decennial censuses, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, is locked away for 72 years.  

1940 census

In a 9 A.M. ceremony in the William G. McGowan Theater, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero declared the 1940 census officially open. This is the 16th decennial census, marking the 150th anniversary of the census.  Performing the first search, Mr. Ferriero said, “It is very exciting for families across America to have access to this wealth of material about the 1930s.  Many of us will be discovering relatives and older family members that we didn’t know we had, picking up threads of information that we thought were lost, and opening a window into the past that until now has been obscured We now have access to a street-level view of a country in the grips of a depression and on the brink of global war.”

Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau added: “Releasing census records is an odd event for us; we spend all our lives keeping the data we collect confidential. However, once every 10 years, we work with the National Archives and Records Administration to release 72-year old census records that illuminate our past. We know how valuable these records are to genealogists and think of their release as another way to serve the American public.”

For the first time, the National Archives is releasing an official decennial census online. The 3.9 million images constitute the largest collection of digital information ever released by the National Archives.  The free official website, hosted by, includes a database of Americans living within the existing 48 states and 6 territories on April 2, 1940.  

“There is a great synergy between the National Archives and stemming from our passion to bring history online,” said John Spottiswood, Vice President, Business Development,  He continued, “It has been a tremendous opportunity to work with the National Archives to bring the 1940 census to millions of people, the most anticipated record collection in a decade. In a short period, we’ve built a robust website that allows people to browse, share, print, and download census images. We encourage all to visit to get started on their family history!”

The census database released today includes an index searchable at the enumeration district level.  An enumeration district is an area that a census taker could cover in two weeks in an urban area and one month in a rural area.

To make the search for information easier, the National Archives has joined a consortium of groups to create a name-based index.  Leading this effort, FamilySearch is recruiting as many as 300,000 volunteers to enter names into a central database. 

Questions asked in the 1940 census, which reflect the dislocation of the Great Depression of the 1930s, will yield important information not only for family historians and genealogists, but also for demographers and social and economic historians.  We learn not only if a family owned or rented their home, but the value of their home or their monthly rent.  We can find lists of persons living in the home at the time of the census, their names, ages and relationship to the head of household.  For the first time the census asked where a family was living five years earlier: on April 1, 1935.  This information might offer clues to migration patterns caused by the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.  For the first time in the census, a question relating to wages and salary was asked. Persons 14 years old and over were asked questions regarding their employment status:  Were they working for pay or profit in private or nonemergency government work during the week of March 24–March 30, 1940?  Were they seeking work? How many hours did they work during the last week of March? How many weeks did they work in 1939?  What was their occupation and in what industry?

Deleted Scenes from Who Do You Think You Are?

Can't get enough of NBC's Who Do You Think You Are?  Grab the kleenex because here are more highlights and deleted scenes from last week's episode featuring actress Rita Wilson discovering her family history.

A Father's Hidden Family
Rita discovers her father had a secret family in Bulgaria that suffered a devastating tragedy.

The Great Escape
Rita learns about the harrowing escape her father made from the Bulgarian forced labor camp

Ethnic Tensions
Rita learns about the ethnic problems her father's family faced in the region of his youth.

Would you like to learn more about how to do genealogy research?  Listen to my free podcast The Genealogy Gems Podcast, and subscribe for free in iTunes.

MyHeritage Appoints Senior Executives

Popular family network MyHeritage announced the appointment of industry veterans Russ Wilding and Roger Bell to Chief Content Officer and VP Product, respectively. The former founders and lead executives of, acquired by in 2010 for $27 million, will boost MyHeritage’s US operations in Utah by establishing a new department for adding historical content and rolling-out an extensive global crowdsourcing project.  
The mission of the new hires will be to substantially grow historical record content to complement MyHeritage's unique combination of family social-networking and massive user contributed content. The move adds significant momentum to MyHeritage’s expansion into historical content, following its November 2011 acquisition of FamilyLink Inc. with a library of four billion records, and its recent announcement to make the 1940 U.S. Census available to users free of charge in April 2012.
“We’re delighted to bring Russ and Roger on board as we enter a new period of vigorous growth”, said MyHeritage Founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet. “Their impressive track record as social thinkers within the family history world will be an ideal fit for MyHeritage, as we realize our vision of enabling families around the world to explore their family history, share important memories and stay connected.”

To learn more, visit

Sunday, April 1, 2012

RootsMagic Update Released and Free Webinar

New Update for RootsMagic 5

Organizing your family tree just got easier now that RootsMagic has released a new update for RootsMagic 5 users, version 5.0.3.  This update includes a new report called the "Who Was There List".  To see a list of what else is new and fixed, click here.

If you haven't already downloaded the update, look for the "Update Available" indicator in the lower right corner of your RootsMagic 5 program screen, and click on it.

If you don't already have RootsMagic 5, you can learn more about it here.  You can order the upgrade today in the RootsMagic store.

Free 1940 Census Webinar Sessions
RootsMagic is sponsoring a full week of webinar sessions dedicated to the 1940 US Census and hosted by DearMYRTLE.
From the RootsMagic newsletter:
Since the 1940 US Census images will have been released only 12 hours prior to the first webinar session, we'll be learning and sharing together. The format for the webinar is "partial open mic" to discuss "on the fly" the experiences we're having with the newly released 1940 US Federal Census images.  We will be joined by Jim Ericson from FamilySearch and Amy Johnson Crow from with tips, tricks and answers to your 1940 census questions.

The 1940 Census webinar sessions will meet five times, and you may attend any or all of the sessions with your single registration.  Register once to receive log-in info and reminders for all five nights.

MONDAY Apr 2nd
FRIDAY April 6th
9pm Eastern US
8pm Central US
7pm Mountain US
6pm Pacific US

Each webinar session will be open to the first 1000 people in the door each night.