Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cavemen Celebrate Vital Record Today

Yabba Dabba Do!!!!
Today is the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones, everyone's favorite modern stone-age family!

Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty debuted before I did, which means I can't really remember a time without them on the family tube.  In fact, as a budding genealogist, I insisted on a visit to the Flintstone's "village of origin" when I was just a girl in pigtails...

 Back in 1971 our family jumped in our Valiant and headed to Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota.  After a long trip in the non-air-conditioned 'family outing mobile' (as my friend Cindee fondly referred to it) we unstuck our sweaty thighs from the green plastic-like upholstery and jumped back in time to an earlier mode of transportation:

Good times, good times...Happy Anniversary Flintstones!  

Check out Google's tribute to the Flintstones by going to - if you're an iGoogle you'll need to sign out for a moment to get the effect.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Premium Episode 55 - Special Google Earth for Genealogy Edition!

I've been hooked on using the FREE Google Earth program for genealogy ever since I was able to use it to identify the exact location of this old photograph:

288 Connecticut St., San Francisco, CA

As cool as that is, it's only the beginning!  In the newest volume of the tutorial video series Google Earth for Genealogy I demonstrate how your maps can evolve into compelling storytelling vehicles.  Check out Google Earth for Genealogy Volume II to learn more and pick up your copy

And in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 55 which was released today, I share an exclusive interview from the DVD.  I talk to a man who creates custom 3D models for Google Earth, and we discuss how you can actually represent your ancestor's home on the globe for everyone to see with an exciting 3D model!  You'll not only hear about it, but you'll SEE their work in action!  

We also cover a ton of related news including new free online maps, land petitions and even a bit of controversy that's been swirling around Google Earth.  

Become a Premium Member today to get not only episode 55, but all seven videos from the Volume I DVD that you can view online, plus tons more.  

And stay tuned, because I just wrapped up an interview with author Leslie Huber about her new book The Journey Takers.  Subscribe to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast so you won't miss the expert tips she shares that helped her uncover the stories of her family and bring them all together in this captivating book.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ellis Island Resources for the Family Historian

“Mama arrived with 4 year old Martha gripping her hand tightly.  She said she looked feverishly around for Papa, and spotted him across the room.  She ran to meet him and gave him a kiss, which she normally would never have done in public!”

That was the scene my Grandma described as Louise and Gustaf reunited near a wooden column outside the Registry Room at Ellis Island aptly known as “The Kissing Post.”  Many public displays of affection took place there after long journeys across the ocean.

Approximately 12 million immigrants were processed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954.  It seems like only yesterday that the long dilapidated buildings were finally restored and reopened to the public.  They have become one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City, welcoming over 35 million visitors to date.

This month marks the 20th Anniversary of the Immigration Museum at Ellis Island which first opened on September 10, 1990.

Learn more about the Museum by watching this video: (you can check email while the ad runs at the beginning!)

According to a recent Ellis Island press release , “Just half a mile from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the museum’s exhibits highlight the growth of America during the peak immigration years of 1880-1924. The galleries illustrate the Ellis Island immigrant reception process, the immigrants’ arrival and settlement throughout the United States and feature their “Treasures From Home” – the cherished personal objects, photographs and papers they brought with them from their homelands. And the American Immigrant Wall of Honor® celebrates the immigrant experience with the inscription of the names of over 700,000 individuals and families who have been honored by their descendants.”

Of special note is the Ellis Island Oral History Archive, which was created by the Foundation and contains the reminiscences of over 1700 individuals who either immigrated through or worked at Ellis Island during its heyday as the country’s largest immigration processing center.   If you are lucky enough to visit in person, you can listen to excerpts from these oral histories through the museum’s popular audio tour.  You’ll walk the corridors vividly reliving the immigrant experience as if you were a "new arrival."

If an in-person trip is not on your horizon any time soon, don’t fret.  More than 1,700 first-hand life story audio recordings of Ellis Island immigrants are now available online for the first time free at

 “As immigrants created new lives in the U.S., the stories of their homelands and their remarkable journeys to America were often lost,” said Christopher Tracy, senior vice president of global content for  “We are thrilled to offer people the opportunity to hear the voices of their ancestors sharing stories of their lives.”

The oral histories were originally recorded by the National Park Service starting in the 1970s, and contain first-hand accounts recalling the lives these immigrants left behind, their reasons for leaving and their incredible and often-trying journeys to America.  In addition to oral histories from immigrants, the collection also includes recordings from former Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty workers, and military personnel who were stationed on Ellis Island.

“To our family it is important that we in the U.S. know the origin of the people who came to this country, settled here and made it what it is today. It makes us very proud to know that our mother was part of this,” said Yvonne Rumac, daughter of oral history participant Estelle Belford, who immigrated to the United States from Romania via Ellis Island in 1905.

And if you are interested in learning more about your own immigrant ancestors here are some resources for you:

Ancestry boasts the world’s largest online collection of U.S. immigration records.
(Comprised of more than 170 million records, the U.S. Immigration Collection includes lists of passengers who immigrated by ship to America between 1820 and 1960, including those who came through Ellis Island; more than 7 million citizenship and naturalization records; border crossings, passport applications and more to help reconstruct our ancestors’ journeys and early lives in America. has also added nearly 2 million new U.S. naturalization record indexes.)

The FamilySearch Wiki
A brain trust of some of the best researchers out there, the FamilySearch Wiki allows you to search on keywords to learn more about a vast array of topics including immigration.  Much of the information comes from the experts who work at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  You get the benefit of their immigration research knowledge from the comfort of your own home.  Then search for the records themselves on the free FamilySearch Beta website

Stephen P. Morse’s One Step Pages
If your search at the website doesn’t retrieve your ancestors head on over to Stephen Morse’s One Step Pages.  There you will find  dozens of links to search resources including the Ellis Island Gold Form for arrivals between 1892 and 1924.  Even the folks at Ellis Island refer researchers to Morse’s site.  Listen to my interview with Stephen Morse on Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #10

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast Episodes on Immigration and Naturalizaton
Genealogist Steve Danko covers immigration and naturalization in depth in episodes 29, 30, and 31.  Steve even offers up some little known tips about deciphering some of the crytic notes researchers often find on passenger lists.

Introduce Kids to History: The Dear America Series Returns

As a mom of three daughters, I've spent many hours over the years hunting for copies of the Dear America series for birthdays and Christmas.  This wonderful series of historic fiction is being re-launched and the Library of Congress will be providing online companion content.  

If you're looking for a way to introduce the kids in your life to history, the Dear America series is a great place to start.  Here are all the details from the Library of Congress:   

Library of Congress Provides Online Content For Scholastic’s Re-Launch of Dear America Series

The Library of Congress is providing historical content from its vast and unparalleled collections to enhance a new interactive website for Scholastic’s Dear America historical fiction book series.
Scholastic, the children’s publishing, education and media company, will re-launch the acclaimed and bestselling Dear America historical fiction series this fall with a combination of all-new publishing and re-issues of the classic Dear America titles plus the new website with content provided by the Library.
"The Library of Congress is excited about this opportunity to collaborate with Scholastic on the re-release of the classic Dear America series," said Laura Campbell, Associate Librarian of Strategic Initiatives. "Combining these compelling stories with the Library’s extraordinary primary source collections will help make history more accessible and engaging for teachers and students alike."
Originally launched in 1996, the Dear America series for readers ages 8-14 was written by an array of award-winning band bestselling writers. The books are presented in diary format from the perspective of girls living at different times in American history. Publication of the series ended in 2004, but fans, booksellers, educators and parents have requested that the series be brought back into print. The series will re-launch in September 2010 with "The Fences Between us," an all-new story set in the Pacific Northwest during World War II by Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson. Also, two classics in the series will be reissued in the fall: "A Journey to the New World" and "The Winter of Red Snow."
In cooperation with the Library, Scholastic will further expand the series with two new dedicated "Dear America" websites: one for fans and one for educators, both launching in September 2010. The website for fans,,  will be a fully interactive online community. The site will feature interactive scrapbooks for each Dear America character with online fashion galleries, crafts, recipes and fun downloads. In addition to games, quizzes, book excerpts and author interviews, there will be a moderated "living diary" blog and message board for fans.
Simultaneously, Scholastic and the Library of Congress will offer teachers and librarians a wealth of lesson plans, historical documents and archival photos and other teaching resources at the educator site,   The site also features timelines, author videos, discussion guides and more, bringing the history in each book to life.
"We are pleased to reintroduce this beloved book series with the added dimension of a rich online experience through our relationship with the Library of Congress," said Ellie Berger, president of the Trade Publishing division of Scholastic.
Scholastic is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality books, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools and libraries, on-air and online at  
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds nearly 145 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at

Ancestry to Acquire iArchives /

Ancestry is making it's move and will be acquiring sometime before the end of the year.  Here's the scoop hot off the press:

PROVO, Utah, September 23, 2010 – Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its branded Web site,, a leading American History Web site, for approximately $27 million in a mix of stock, cash and assumption of liabilities.  This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies.

iArchives digitizes and delivers high-quality images of American historical records of individuals involved in the Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, Civil War, and other US historical events to subscribers interested in early American roots. iArchives has digitized more than 65 million original source documents to date through its proprietary digitization process for paper, microfilm and microfiche collections.

“ is highly complementary to’s online family history offering,” said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of “By promoting Footnote to our Ancestry audience, we hope to expand its reach among researchers who care about early American records. iArchives also brings outstanding image-viewing technology and content digitization capabilities that will improve our leadership position in bringing valuable historical records to the market. We welcome the iArchives team to the family.”

Upon completion of the transaction, iArchives will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of As part of the transaction, currently expects to issue approximately 1.0 million shares of common stock. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions and is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010. also announced today that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program of up to approximately $25 million of its common stock. Under the authorization, share repurchases may be made by the Company from time to time in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions depending on market conditions, share price and other factors and may include accelerated or forward or similar stock repurchases and/or Rule 10b5-1 plans. Part of the rationale for the repurchase is to offset dilution of equity resulting from the iArchives acquisition. No time limit was set for the completion of this program. The share repurchase program may be modified or discontinued at any time by the Board of Directors.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pre-Order Opens Today for Google Earth for Genealogy Volume II

When I saw what Google Earth could do for my own genealogy research, I couldn't wait to put a DVD together to share what I had found.  I've been overwhelmed at the wonderful response and comments about the Google Earth for Genealogy DVD.  It seems you've been having as much fun and success with it as I have:

"You are doing a great service to the genealogy community, Lisa, and your listeners appreciate you.  You are keeping the fun in genealogy!  I am eagerly awaiting your volume 2 of the Google Earth series."
Gratefully, Mary J. Lohr

Susan friended me on Facebook and said: "I am a recent subscriber to your podcasts and recent purchaser of "Google Earth for Genealogy" - which is GREAT. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial and giving me a new way to use Google Earth. Keep up the good work."

And S. Hawkins wrote: "I had my popcorn while I watched (the) Google Earth videos.  I am learning so much.  Thank you!"

I love hearing from genealogists that they are Googling their was around the globe with the DVD.  And I'm VERY happy to announce today that we're going to take it to a new level with Google Earth for Genealogy Volume II!

Watch the video

Pre-orders have opened today for next DVD in this series.  If you have half the fun watching these as I did creating them, you're going to have a blast!

Head to  to find out more and reserve your copy.  Shipping begins October 1, 2010.

Happy Googling!  Now get out there and ROCK YOUR ANCESTORS WORLD!


Civil War Vet Groom, age 92, set the record in 1910

On September 10, 1910 the article "Old Man Finds His Affinity Rather Late In Life..." appeared on the front page of the Evening Standard out of Ogden, Utah. In Chicago, a man just two months shy of his 92nd birthday applied for a marriage license to wed Miss Helen Conger. "Previously eighty-five years had been the age of the oldest applicant"

Volney E. Rusco explained it this way: (I said) "It's about time we were applying for a license," and she said anytime I was ready she was."
.... Read the entire article at the Library of Congress website.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heritage Stories Contest: It Pays to Hold onto a Family Heirloom

Lands' End Press Release:

DODGEVILLE, Wis., Sept 08, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- From antique hunting in a parents' attic to digging up old treasures on the family farm, everyone is getting excited about items from long ago - including Lands' End. The company is celebrating its rich, storied past with the Lands' End Heritage Collection - well-known, classic pieces that are synonymous go-to favorites by virtue of their authenticity. Inspired by this collection, Lands' End is inviting everyone to share their own heritage with the "Heritage Stories" contest.

Beginning Sept. 8 through Sept. 30, submit a short description of the most unique thing from your family's past. Perhaps an authentic family heirloom, quality advice, or a valued family motto - that has been treasured and counted on over time.

"The things people treasure and hold dear are those that stand the test of time, much like the classic items found in the Lands' End Heritage Collection," said Shawn Colley, senior merchandise manager, Lands' End Heritage. "Staying true to our rich roots and continuing to hold on to those time-tested values that have defined us since 1963 is very important and continues to guide us today. We're excited to hear similar stories about family heirlooms or passed-down traditions have guided others."

The Lands' End "Heritage Stories" Contest Prize Package

To enter the "Heritage Stories" contest, please submit an essay, in 300 words or less, explaining the most unique thing saved from your family's history. All entries must be submitted to by Sept. 30, 2010, 11:59pm CDT. This contest is open to United States and Canadian residents. The official contest rules can be found at Winners will be notified on or around October 15, 2010.

Twenty-five winners will each receive $100 towards their choice of items in the Lands' End Heritage Collection. One Grand Prize winner will receive $250 towards the Lands' End Heritage Collection, plus a $2,000 Visa Travel Money Card to use toward continuing their family's traditions or discovering more of their family's heritage.