Friday, December 18, 2009

A Bump in the Google Books Road

When you set out to digitize the world's books there are bound to be a few problems. First and foremost is that those books are under copyright. While we all benefit from Google Books, it's easy to understand the concerns of authors and publishers who want to protect the ownership of their work.

French publisher La Martiniere recently fought to protect those rights and won. BBC News is reporting that a Paris court has found Google guilty of copyright infringement and has ordered the online giant to pay 300,000 euros in damages and interest. Specifically, Google has been ordered to pay 10,000 euros a day until it removes the publishers books from it's database.

Last week I saw a television report on Google that said it has easily surpassed Microsoft in profits. It sounds like they are in a position to compensate those who's books they want to scan.

President Approves $470 Million Budget for National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has received a
Fiscal Year 2010 budget of $469,870,000 under the Consolidated
Appropriations Act signed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday,
December 16.

The overall appropriation of $469,870,000 is an increase of 2.31
percent over last year's funding of $459,277,000.

"Given these difficult economic times, we are extremely grateful to
the Congress and the President for the generous FY 2010 appropriations.
We will be able to continue to fund our core programs, offer the same
high standard of services to our researchers and the public, and
complete much-needed repairs and renovation of the Franklin Roosevelt
Library," said David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States.

"We are particularly pleased with the historic increase in the
allocation for the National Historical Publications and Records
Commission," he added. "This will allow us to further support the
nation's network of archives at a time when there is a critical need
to make the materials available to all Americans."

For NARA's Operating Expenses for FY 2010, the President and Congress
have provided $339,770,000, an increase from last year's appropriation
of $330,308,000. The increase will cover the costs of inflationary
increases in rent, energy, security and staff costs for NARA facilities
at 44 locations around the country.

The Operating Expenses account also includes funding for 12 new
entry-level archivists who will enter NARA's Archivist Development
Program, as well as for personnel for the new Office of Government
Information Services and the new Controlled Unclassified Information
Office, which is part of the Information Security Oversight Office.

For continued development of the Electronic Records Archives (ERA),
Congress appropriated $85,500,000, up from last year's appropriation
of $67,008,000. This will allow further progress toward providing public
access to the ERA, which eventually will allow anyone, anywhere, at any
time to access electronic records held by NARA. This budget will also
allow NARA to begin to establish the preservation framework for the

For repairs and renovations at NARA-owned facilities, the lawmakers
appropriated $27,500,000. This includes $17,500,000 as the last
installment for repairs and renovations at the Franklin D. Roosevelt
Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York. The Roosevelt Library is
the oldest of the 13 Presidential libraries administered by NARA.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC),
the grant-making arm of the Archives, will receive $13,000,000, up from
last year's $11,250,000. In the FY 2010 appropriation, $4,500,000 is
set aside for providing online access to the papers of the Founding
Fathers, as was requested in the President's budget.

The appropriations legislation also directs NARA to report to the House
and Senate appropriations committees within 30 days of enactment on
"information security improvements made or planned" and "to
promptly inform relevant committees of jurisdiction when any formal law
enforcement investigation is commenced into alleged theft of electronic
or other materials which may contain personally identifying

Thursday, December 17, 2009

D'oh! What a Family Tree!

One of America's favorite dysfunctional families made it's television debut on this day twenty years ago. The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom, as well as animated program. In 2009 it surpassed Gunsmoke as the longest running American primetime entertainment series.

Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie's family tree is impressive. Click here for a closeup look at this famous family.

Be in the Audience for the First Live Taping of The Genealogy Gems Podcast

We're breaking new ground here at The Genealogy Gems Podcast: Our first live broadcast! Here's the scoop:

Event: Mesa Arizona Family History Expo Banquet
Date: Friday, January 22, 2010
Location: Superstition Ballroom in the Mesa Convention Center
Time: 6:30 p.m.

It's not going to be like any banquet you've attended before! You'll start off by dining with some of the most well known genealogy bloggers writing today who'll be sharing ideas on "tech to trace your roots."

Then join me for a lively episode focusing on online genealogy social media featuring expert guests like Dick Eastman, audience participation, a very special Genealogy Gems gift for all attendees, and some bonus giveaways!

This is my first public announcement about the event and seating will definitely be limited so if you plan on attending the Expo visit the Family History Expo web site to sign up for the banquet right away! At just $28.50 it's a true bargain for a night of family history fun!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Coming in January

Genealogists and Family Historians will gather from throughout the United States for week long in-depth learning and research experience in 2010 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy January 11-15, sponsored by Utah Genealogical Association.

Educational tracks cover topics include United States and European records and research to technology and professional accreditation. Each track provides participants one on one like experience to focus, explore, and discover needed insights in research that will dynamically progress opportunities to find and link generations.

Whether you are new to genealogy or seeking advanced insights, you will find opportunities to learn and explore important questions to further your research.

If you can’t attend during the day, there are 15 optional evening classes on dynamic topics ranging from maximizing Internet searching to solving research problems to organizing what you find.

Click on the following link to find out more about track descriptions, presenters, and registration for the in 2010 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy January 11-15.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Not WDYTYA, but rather WDYTIWBO?

I promised I would update you on the NBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? if I heard anything. Well, I've had my ear to the tracks and it's quiet. Really quiet.

In fact, I've been wondering if the question isn't really Who Do You Think You Are?, but rather When Do You Think It Will Be On?

The bad news: WDYTYA will not premiere in January 2010 as previously reported, according to my source at NBC.

The good news: It's still in the queue.

Remember what your grandma always said: "Good things come to those who wait." So WDYTYA must be REALLY good!

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Public Invited to Discuss Changes at National Archives

National Archives Hosts Public Forum to Discuss Research Area Changes at AI
December 17 forum to address researcher ideas and concerns

Washington, DC. . . On Thursday, December 17, at 1:00 p.m., the
National Archives will hold an open public forum to discuss changes
under consideration for public research areas in the National Archives
Building in Washington, DC. Genealogists, scholars, Government agency
offices, and all other researchers who use the services and facilities
of the National Archives are invited to share their needs and concerns.
The meeting will take place in the Robert Warner Research Center of the
National Archives Building, located at 700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW,
Washington, DC. Attendees should use the Pennsylvania Ave. NW Research

In recent years, microfilm usage by researchers has dropped
significantly. Given this decreased demand for the numerous and bulky
microfilm reader machines, the National Archives now has an opportunity
to reallocate space in the building. By reducing the size of the
microfilm reading room to the number of stations actually in demand by
researchers, the National Archives can expand much-needed office space
for staff and public program spaces for visitors, while both maintaining
and strengthening researcher services.

There have been discussions this fall between researcher
representatives and National Archives staff on ways to design and equip
proposed new research areas. The National Archives now invites the
general public to participate in this discussion. National Archives
staff will explain the reasons for undertaking a space plan, its
objectives, and the planning process, and will invite comments and
answer questions. Alternative proposals will be described and
considered at this public forum. The goal is to reallocate space and
update equipment and systems so that researchers receive the most value
from every square foot of space.

Reservations are not required. Those who cannot attend are invited to
send written comments to:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SECURITY ALERT: Family Tree Crashers

I pulled up my grandfather's pedigree chart today to print it for a relative and was shocked to find my tree had been crashed!

Be Careful - this could happen to you!

Monday, December 7, 2009

SCGS Family History Writing Contest Deadline Dec. 31, 2009

The Southern California Genealogical Society sponsors one of the very few writing contests designed specifically for family historians. The GENEii Family History Writers Contest, now in its tenth year, offers cash prizes in two categories:

Category 1: Family or local history articles of 1,000-2,000 words in length, published or unpublished. If previously published, entries must be accompanied by the written permission of the publisher allowing article to be reprinted by SCGS.


1st Place, $200

2nd Place, $100

3rd Place, $50

Honorable Mentions, certificate

Finalists, certificate

Category 2: Family or local history articles of 1,000 words or less, published or unpublished. If previously published, entries must be accompanied by the written permission of the publisher allowing article to be reprinted by SCGS.


1st Place, $100

2nd Place, $50

3rd Place, $25

Honorable Mentions, certificate

Finalists, certificate

The deadline for submissions for the 2009 contest is December 31, 2009.

All of the details and contest rules can be found on the SCGS Website at The FAQs can be found at

You can read examples of some of the entries on the website as well. Look on the left-hand side of the screen for "Writing Contest" and click on that link.

In November, 2005, Heritage Books, Inc. published an anthology of some of the most memorable entries to our contest in the contest’s first five years. The anthology is called Celebrating Family History, and is available for $25 plus shipping and handling through the SCGS website.

The Sounds of Yiddish Culture

The Library of Congress has just released a new webcast about Yiddish - American Radio giving viewers a tour of the sounds of Yiddish culture from 1925 - 1955.

"While all other aspects of Yiddish culture existed wherever Ashkenazic Jews lived, it was only in America that radio realized its greatest and most fulfilling use by and for Jews. Yiddish scholar Henry Sapoznik discusses and shares some of the most memorable and powerful moments in this nearly lost world of ethnic American broadcasting."

Broad categories of Yiddish radio shows are explored - from rabbinical advice programs to live Yiddish theater acts, from man-on-the-street interviews to the news of the day in verse.

Watch the Webcast which includes not only Henry Sapoznik's lecture but also images from the timeframe from the Library of Congress collection.'s WWII Collection Available Free During December 2009

Lindon, UT – December 7, 2009 – In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, announced today that they will make the largest interactive WWII collection on the web including the Interactive USS Arizona Memorial free to the public during December. Featuring over 10 million records, documents and photos from the National Archives, this collection helps family members and historians better understand the people and events of WWII.

Included in this exclusive collection is the Interactive USS Arizona Memorial. This online version allows people to view the actual wall of names and search for those they know. An interactive box for each name on the wall features additional information about each veteran and includes a place where anyone can contribute photos and stories. View the Captain of the USS Arizona, Franklin Van Valkenburgh, on the interactive wall.

It’s estimated that a little over 2 million WWII veterans are still alive in the United States today. However, thousands of veterans are passing away every month taking with them many of the stories from WWII. is making an effort to help preserve these stories by digitizing documents from the National Archives and providing interactive tools to help people connect with each other.

Christina Knoedler from Pennsylvania used the Missing Air Crew Reports on to discover information about her father-in-law, who is a WWII veteran. “The other night, I showed him what I had found,” explains Christina. “He couldn’t believe that these papers existed. They had not only his name but also his buddies’ names. He started to reminisce and it was quite an evening. This will allow me to go back and document many more events in our family’s history for the generations to come.”

The Missing Air Crew Reports are just one of the record collections found on Other WWII collections on include:
Pearl Harbor Muster Rolls
U.S. Air Force Photos
Submarine Patrol Reports
Japanese Air Target Analysis
Army JAG Case Files
Navy JAG Case Files
Naval Press Clippings
Allied Military Conferences
Holocaust Records

“People are making fascinating discoveries in these records,” says Russell Wilding, CEO of “Reading some of the first-hand accounts helps you develop a different view and appreciation of our WWII heroes and what they went through.”

To experience the Interactive USS Arizona Memorial and the World War II visit

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Many Thanks! And Some of The Bloggers I Enjoy

I'm honored that The Genealogy Gems News Blog has received the Kreativ Blogger award, and grateful to Katie at the You Are Where You Came From blog for nominating me! To earn my prize, I have to reveal 7 things you may not know about me:

1. I collect cartoon glasses - you know the kind that came from Taco Bell and Pizza Hut in the 1970s. I admit it - I have nearly every one ever made.

2. I'm about to become a grandma for the first time in about a week. I'm ecstatic! (OK, my podcast listeners probably already knew this!)

3. I love crafts - It started with making puppets when I was little (now you know I did the Socks to America video), and moved on to cross stitching, sewing, painting, knitting, crocheting...this all goes back to my great grandmother (and perhaps further back) and was inherited down the female line.

4. My television debut was on The Brakeman Bill Show in 1972 in Tacoma, WA.

5. I helped kill a rattlesnake that my daughter stumbled into.

6. I come from a long line of TV and movie "quoters." It's a gene I seemed to have passed on to my kids.

7. I don't eat my vegetable. :-(

And now for the 7 bloggers upon whom I bestow the Kreativ Blogger award. These are some of the bloggers who keep me informed, inspired, and moving forward in my own research.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Here's Why As A Genealogist You Should NEVER Give Up!

At the Family History Expo in St. George last year I did some "on the fly" interviews with participants who stopped by The Genealogy Gems Podcast booth. One of the questions I was asking was "what's your most precious heirloom?"

I got some wonderful answers: A flapper dress, a door knob from a honeymoon suite, a pocket watch...but there was one answer that stopped me in my tracks.

"I have no heirlooms" a tall, nicely dressed lady said flatly. "They're all gone. No one thought there were worth keeping, and the family photos were tossed - everything."

The eternal optimist in me hoped for her sake that this wasn't the case, and that perhaps someone out there still had a precious photo from her family.

In my conference presentations I share techniques that I have used to find family heirlooms on Ebay, as well as through tracking down long lost cousins. After sharing some of these ideas on the podcast, listeners have written me in excitement to share their discoveries. (above is a matchbook that one listener found on Ebay that is from his great grandparents store!)

But a recent article in the Pekin Daily Times is a testimony for why we as genealogists should NEVER give up hope!

Read the article to learn how a box chock full of family photos and mementos that was sold at a garage sale made it's way five years later into the hands of a family descendant, John Engstrom. The Pekin Daily Times is a GENEALOGY GEM for assisting the purchasers in reuniting the box with John and his family!