Saturday, February 28, 2009

From the Library of Congress:

On Feb. 26, the National Digital Newspaper Program added more than 112,000 additional historic newspaper pages to the Chronicling America Web site, hosted by the Library of Congress.

The site now provides free and open access to 977,440 pages from 112 titles, that were published between 1880 and 1910 in 9 states (CA, FL, KY, MN, NE, NY, TX, UT, VA) and the District of Columbia. Six additional states--Arizona, Hawaii, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington--will be contributing content later in 2009.

Chronicling America is a project of the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress....Read more about it!

Monday, February 23, 2009

And the Winner of the Two FREE Genealogy Classes is...

Linda Scham of Illinois - Congratulations!
Linda listened to Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 59 and entered the drawing to win two free genealogy classes from GenClass, the online genealogy class website.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Got Questions? Try the New FamilySearch Resource Guide

During the most recent update to the FamilySearch Indexing Web site, a resource guide was added under the Help tab. This page is a quick reference tool for finding answers to most indexing questions. It includes resources for indexers, language resources, and handwriting helps for English, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Dutch.

To find the resource guide, go to, click on the Help tab, and then click Publications.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Navigation at FamilySearch: Flyover, Rotate & More

Familysearch added over 6 million new indexed records and 1.4 million new images since January 5, 2009, to its Record Search pilot.

Record Search visitors might also notice the following changes to the pilot site:

1. Region map flyover now lists the number of collections in a region

2. Rotate an image clockwise or counterclockwise in the viewer

3. New full screen view in the image viewer

4. Search form now displays the collection being searched

5. Image navigation- moved previous, next & go to buttons to the bottom of the page

6. Collection list page is now a single column

7. Image only collections are identified

8. Changes to print selected area

With the constant addition of indexes and digitized records, it's amazing they still find time to improve navigation. Kudos!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook Returns to Previous Terms of Service Following User Outcry

There's been lots of blog chatter about a change in Terms of Service that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announced. Considering how many genealogists are now connecting with each other on Facebook it's not surprising that Kimberly Powell and Dick Eastman have recently posted on the issue.

Facebook users weren't real excited about blindly turning over their rights to the data in their accounts and the folks at Facebook have heard the outcry.

Last night the founder of Facebook announced on his blog that the social network will return to its previous terms of service regarding user data.

In a blog post Mark Zuckerberg said the move was temporary "while we resolve the issues that people have raised".

Users had complained after new terms of service suggested that Facebook would retain personal data even if someone deleted their account in order to preserve data that the user may have posted on other people's Facebook pages.

Expect to see more gyrations on this issue.

The bottom line: Only post online, whether on Facebook or anywhere on the Internet, that which you are willing to have exist forever.

Watch a video with Copyright lawyer Magnus Boyd discussing the ramifications of posting private information online.

Records Update: Land, Marriage, Census Records...

Ancestry recently updated two U.S. collections:

They have added the 1925 census, containing 1.8 million names to the Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925. The full collection now contains 8.2 Million Names.

They have also added 10,000 maps and atlas pages from various states to the Historic Land Ownership and Reference Atlases, 1507-2000. The full collection now contains over 50,000 maps.

Chris Lydiksen, US Content Product Manager for, blogs about the new collections.

International Content Update:
An update to the existing England & Wales Birth Index collection, made 134 million General Records Office (GRO) UK birth records for England and Wales dating from 1837 to 2005 available online for the first time. To find out more, read Echo King’s blog entry: the UK Birth Index Update.

They’ve also recently added or updated the following international databases:

London, England, Marriage Licenses, 1521-1869

New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851

And be on the look out for the 1916 Canada Census coming soon to

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Free Webinar on African American Research

February 24: Making a Breakthrough in Your African American Research, 9 PM EDT

African American research specialist Marjorie Sholes will take you step-by-step through the process she used to trace one of her own ancestors, showing you the tips and tricks she discovered along the way.

In particular, she’ll focus on how to identify slave owners to unlock the history of your slave ancestors. You’ll also learn what resources are available on and elsewhere to aid in your research. You can register by clicking here.

Genealogy Jamboree Schedule Now Online

The Jamboree lecture schedule is now online at

On the first morning (Friday, June 26, 2009) they will continue the tradition of offering several free sessions. This year, Tom Kemp will conduct Genealogy Librarians' Boot Camp. Last year's Beginning Genealogy session has been expanded into two sessions of three hours each. And the very successful Kids' Family History Camp will help to bring the youngest generation into the study of family history. I applaud the Jamboree for continuing to welcome folks into genealogy and the Jamboree through these free offerings. Awesome idea!

You'll hear more about all of these activities, as well as several other special events, in the coming weeks. (The schedule and speakers are subject to change.)

Jamboree organizers expect to have a very special announcement regarding the Friday Night Banquet speaker very soon. (Be sure and stay tuned to The Genealogy Gems News Blog for more on that)

The Jamboree website will be up in the next few days, and organizers will be announcing when registration will be available online. You can download the registration form from the Jamboree blog if you prefer to register by mail.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feelin' Lucky??

Some lucky listener is going to be getting a little bit smarter real soon! And that's because the great folks at GenClass have offered up two online classes of choice to one lucky Genealogy Gems Podcast listener.

Tune in quick because you have until Sunday February 22, 2009 at midnight to enter the drawing.

Listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 59 now from the website, or in iTunes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love in the Great War: See the Documents, Hear the Story

First World War service record of William Crawford 1917-1919

William Crawford was enlisted in the Household Cavalry in 1917. He served in France for three months before being wounded, eventually dying of his injuries in February 1918, aged just 25.

His service records are unusual as they contain his personal letters, which were usually sent back to the soldier's next of kin. These letters, sent to Crawford from his beloved Hetty, reveal the anguish of separation during the war and communicate the fear that loved ones would not return.

Listen to the podcast: Voices of the Armistice: with love from Hetty to hear the series of love letters written to Crawford by Hetty, or visit the museum at The National Archives to view one of the letters.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Medieval Gascon Rolls To Go Online

From the National Archives, UK
February 2009

Important unpublished records of the Hundred Years War are to be made available online in an innovative new project led by the University of Oxford and assisted by The National Archives.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded almost £750,000 to the Universities of Oxford and Liverpool to digitise and edit the Gascon Rolls. These consist of 113 unpublished manuscripts which cover the era 1317 to 1468.

The rolls, currently held at The National Archives, comprise administrative records relating to English rule in medieval Gascony. These include writs and grants, but also contain enrolments of diplomatic and official material.

The project, led by Dr Malcolm Vale (University of Oxford) and Mr Paul Booth (University of Liverpool), will result in both a searchable online version and a printed edition of the Gascon Rolls. The aim is to make this rich but underused resource on England's long and turbulent history with France, including that of the notorious Hundred Years War (1337-1453), more accessible to a wider audience.

'This research project aims to make available the most important unpublished documentary source for that war, its prelude, course and aftermath so we can arrive at a better understanding of how and why relations between the two countries deteriorated, leading to a century-long conflict,' Dr Malcolm Vale of St John's College, Oxford said on the launch of the project.
The project is expected to last three years, and will also be assisted by King's College London and the Ranulf Higden Society.

1909: 100th Anniversary of Lincoln's Birth

In February 1909, the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, newspapers around the country described various aspects of Lincoln's presidency, his legacy, and memorials to his name. The Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, KY) devoted a full page with illustrations to descriptions of his birthplace and the planned memorial dedication by then-President Theodore Roosevelt, appreciation of Lincoln in verse, and a review of his life and times.... Read the digitized newspaper at the Library of Congress...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

10 Reasons The New Kindle Could Rekindle Book Use in Research

Amazon has just announced the release of the Kindle 2 and everyone seems to be talking about it - Paul Allen was raving about it on his blog! And I can really see why. The Kindle 2 is for one purpose: reading books. And it does that more efficiently than ever.

1. Slim & Lightweight: Just over 1/3 inch and 10.2 ounces

2. Books in under 60 seconds: Get books delivered in less than 60 seconds; no PC required

3. Improved Display: Reads like real paper; now boasts 16 shades of gray for crisp images and text; even reads well in bright sunlight

4. Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging

5. More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books

6. Faster Page Turns: 20% faster page turns

7. Read-to-Me: Text-to-Speech feature means Kindle can read every book, blog, magazine, and newspaper out loud.

8. No Wireless Bills: No monthly wireless bills, data plans, or commitments. Amazon pays for Kindle's wireless connectivity so you won't see a monthly wireless bill.

9. Large Selection: Over 230,000 books, plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines and blogs available

10. Low Book Prices: New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise

The Kindle 2 is available for pre-order starting today for $359 and will ship later this month . There are also a wide variety of Kindle accessories available, including new covers and car accessories...

Friday, February 6, 2009

TV Show Wants to Find Your Missing Person

Are you looking for a close child, friend or loved one you've lost touch with? Or perhaps a someone you never knew at all: a sibling separated at birth, or a baby given up for adoption. Or maybe you're a veteran searching for that war buddy who saved your life.

If so, then you might be a candidate for a new Missing Persons Reality Show being put together by CBS Television Network.

If you or anyone you know has a compelling story to tell and wants to find that special someone, email Jeff M, Associate Producer by February 20 1:00 p.m. PST

"We are a non-scripted television show being produced for the CBS television network. The aim of our program is to professionally track down missing people in order to reunite them with their friends and families. We have an accomplished task force at our disposal whose primary goal is to find and reunite missing persons."

In order to get started, email a little about you and your specific situation: Who do you want to find? How and why did you lose touch? What does this person mean to you, and why do you want to find him or her now? Include your name and age, the missing person's name and age, and your city and state.

Good luck!

40th Annual Genealogy Jamboree in Southern California

This year I'm really looking forward to attending the 40th Annual Genealogy Jamboree, hosted by the Southern California Genealogical Society. It promises to be an exceptional event for genealogists of all experience levels. I'll be teaching classes, participating in a Bloggers forum and will be in the exhibit hall.

This year's Jamboree will be held Friday through Sunday, June 26-28, 2009, at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, in Burbank, California.

Jamboree will offer over 100 lecture sections over the three days, nearly 25% more sessions than were offered in 2008.

"We will have sessions addressing research techniques for traditional brick-and-mortar record sources, digital resources, use of DNA in genealogy, organization, and several geography-specific sessions," said Jamboree Co-Chair Leo Myers. Myers continued, "Genealogists need to know the time-tested research skills that have been used in earlier generations. The thorough researcher will take advantage of the explosion of online, digital resources. Our lectures will address both needs."

This is a year of collaboration with several leading genealogical organizations and societies. Jamboree will feature speakers and exhibitors from,, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and California State Genealogical Alliance (CSGA). Several Southern California societies will also be in attendance.

2009 Jamboree will focus on British Isles research (English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh). Feargal ODonnell, executive director of the Irish Family History Foundation in County Kildare, Ireland, and David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA, director of planning and coordination, Family History Department, in Salt Lake City, will address the special challenges facing those with Irish ancestry. Also bringing their expertise to Jamboree will be speakers from the British Isles Family History Society.

Jamboree has just released the names of the 50 lecturers and experts you'll be hearing seeing in person:
Suzanne Russo Adams,
Elaine Alexander, author
Lisa Alzo, author and lecturer
Ron Arons, author and lecturer
Jana Broglin, CG, FGS and Ohio State Genealogical Society
Tony Burroughs, FUGA, internationally known genealogist, author, and former adjunct genealogy professor at Chicago State University.
Bruce Buzbee, RootsMagic
Hailey Starr Campbell, Kids Family History Camp
Starr Campbell, Kids Family History Camp
Chris Child, NEHGS
Lisa Louise Cooke, Genealogy Gems Podcast
Stephen Danko, Ph.D., blogger at
DearMYRTLE, popular blogger, podcaster, lecturer and author
William Dollarhide, noted genealogical author and lecturer
Arlene Eakle, Ph.D., FUGA,
Wendy Elliott, Ph.D., FUGA
Jim Ericson, World Vital Records
Anna Fechter,
Joy Fisher, US GenWeb
Bennett Greenspan, FamilyTree DNA
Mike Hall,
Jean Wilcox Hibben, Ph.D.
Janet Hovorka, MLS, "The Chart Chick" and Generation Maps
Ivan C. Johnson, Ph.D., British Isles Family History Society
Thomas J. Kemp,
Michael Leclerc, NEHGS
Betty Malesky
Keith McCarty,
Leland Meitzler, Evertons Genealogical Helper and FamilyRoots Publishing
Dennis Meldrum,
Michael Melendez, Kids Family History Camp
Cheri Mello
Julie Miller, CG, National Genealogical Society
George G. Morgan, The Genealogy Guys Podcast
Feargal ODonnell, Irish Family History Foundation in County Kildare, Ireland
Lynne Parmenter, SCGS Beginning Genealogy
Michelle Pfister,
Larry Proctor, Light Impressions
Geoffrey Rasmussen, Legacy Family Tree
David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA D.
Brenton Simons, President and CEO of NEHGS
Drew Smith, MLS, The Genealogy Guys Podcast
Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of
Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective
Cath Trindle, CG, FGS and the California State Genealogical Alliance
Beverly Truesdale, SCGS Beginning Genealogy
Tom Underhill, Creative Continuum
Marston Watson,
Peggy Wishon, British Isles Family History Society

A terrific line up!

Registration information for the 2009 Genealogy Jamboree will be released in the near future. To receive up-to-the-minute Jamboree information, register to receive updates by email on the Jamboree blog (Your email will not be used for purposes other than Jamboree and will not be shared or sold.)

You can also RSVP for Jamboree and receive updates on Facebook at

Sign up to receive your copy of the Jamboree program and registration form by snail mail here:

Stay tuned to the Genealogy Gems Podcast for more updates and interviews with some of fascinating folks listed above.

See you there!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

TV Scoop: No WDYTYA in April

NBC recently (finally) announced that the new U.S. version of the family history themed show Who Do You Think You Are? would premiere in April 2009.

But the music is still playing and the game of musical chairs continues...

Insiders at NBC confirm that the network has pulled the seat out from under WDYTYA and given it to the popular Deal or No Deal. (Is that show still on?)

However WDYTYA is still in the game, and the music continues to play.

NBC execs expect to announce a new premiere for the much anticipated show soon, and the latest word is that Summer 2009 is being bantered about.

She Sees Dead People

A homemaker in Lakeville, Massachusetts has turned her passion for genealogy into a published work. And a lot of folks with ancestors in Lakeville's 13 cemeteries are benefiting.

Jean Douillette efforts can be found in her book "Lakeville, Massachusetts, Gravestones Inscriptions 1711-2003"

'I am not afraid of death," says Jean Douillette, who has immersed herself in it for a decade.

Read the Rest of the Story as told in the Boston Globe...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

8 Civil War Era Records Coming Online in Feb. 2009

Here's a sneak peek at some of the collections that will be coming to in February 2009:

1) Title: Slave Manifests Filed at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1807-1860
Names: 30,000 estimated
Images: 30,000 estimated
Brief description: This collection includes manifests of slaves who were transported from one place to another within the U.S. The images are being released first while indexing commences through the World Archives Project.

As I mentioned in Genealogy Gems Episode 58 Ancestry is focusing on Civil War & Lincoln records in honor of the 200th anniversary of his birth...

2) Title: Civil War Service Records Update w/Soldier Photos
Names: over 4 million
Images: 18,000 estimated soldier and officer photos
Brief description: This is a major enhancement to this priceless database of Civil War soldiers and officers. Actual photos will be linked to the service records, along with many bios and even some signatures

3) Title: Confederate Pension Applications, GA
Names: 60,000 estimated
Images: 567,000 estimated
Brief description: These Georgia Confederate Pension Applications contain an extraordinary amount of genealogical and historical information on Civil War veterans and their widows. Applications for pensions are often multiple pages long and answer numerous questions about the individuals involved.

4) Title: Abraham Lincoln Letters
Names: 50,000 estimated
Images: 60,000 estimated
Brief Description: Letters written to and by Abraham Lincoln, from the Library of Congress, include correspondence, speech drafts, notes and other printed material. Most of the items are from the 1850s through 1865.

5) Title: Confederate Applications for Presidential Pardons (Amnesty Papers) 1865-1867
Names: 15,000 estimated
Images: 73,000 estimated
Brief description: After the Civil War, former Confederates not covered by general amnesty were required to request a pardon. This collection includes the letters of application along with other related records.

6) Title: National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938
Names: 390,000 estimated
Images: 280,000 estimated
Brief description: The National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers was instituted following the Civil War. This database contains records from twelve National Homes. The majority of the records consist of historical registers, but other records included in this database are indexes to the historical registers, applications, admissions, deaths, burials, and hospital records.

7) Title: Update to U.S. State Census Collection
Names: 5 million estimated
Images: 1 million estimated
Brief description: New state censuses for Kansas and South Dakota, including updates to existing databases.

8) Title: Update to Historic Land Ownership and Reference Atlases, 1507-2000
Names: 1 million estimated
Images: 10,000 estimated
Brief description: Adding over 10,000 maps. This collection contains many maps of townships showing land plots with the owners' names listed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In recognition of Chinese New Year, Ancestry added, updated, and announced a number of databases with Chinese American records. The record collections can be searched at the links below.

Databases coming soon include:

Chinese Arrivals at Vancouver, British Columbia, 1906-1912
Chinese Arrivals at San Francisco, 1882-1914

They've also recently added or updated the following international databases: