Sunday, August 30, 2009

Divorce Records Might Be Found At The New Divorce Centre

Did your ancestors divorce in the early 20th century? The records that could help your genealogy research might by in Nevada, as Reno became the divorce capitol of the country. This article from the Library of Congress is a fascinating look at "The New Divorce Centre" and divorce became a big business for the western town.

My family has a marital family history connection with Reno. Fortunately my grandparents didn't divorce there, but rather married there in the 1930s.

From the Library of Congress:
The Citizen (Berea, KY) noted a new cultural development taking place in the "frontier post of civilization" that was Reno, Nevada in 1909. A recent decrease in the length of time necessary for state residency, easy access by railroad, and a proximity to the cosmopolitan cities of the West Coast were transforming a mining community into the nation's leading divorce colony. The Nevada divorce statutes, requiring a residency of only six months, were known for their "length, breadth, height, elasticity, and all other qualities that lend themselves to the seeker after easy matrimonial freedom"....Read more about it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Emmy Nomintation for Family History TV Series

I just got a note from Ken Marks who I interviewed in episode 22 of the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, and he had some very exciting news to share.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has nominated the The Lively Family Massacre – a pilot for Ken's documentary TV series titled Legend Seekers – for an EMMY in the documentary category.

The program is scheduled to air in the Chicago area on WTTW-TV Channel 11 as follows:
Legend Seekers -- The Lively Family Massacre

11.1 HD: Sunday, August 30 at 12:30pm and Monday, August 31 at 3:30am
11.2 Prime: Monday, August 31 at 9:30pm; Tuesday, September 1 at 4:30am and 9:30am

Visit the Legend Seekers website for more on the show, and how to contact your local PBS station to request that it be shown.

Congratulations to Ken, Frank Haney & Madonna Davis! Good luck!

Last Day for Early Bird Registration Salt Lake Family History Expo

The Family History Expo is just days away and today is the last day for you to register at early bird prices!

The expo will take place Aug. 28 and 29, 2009 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
At the door registration begins at 7 a.m. on Friday and 7:30 a.m. on Saturday

Location: South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 South State Street, Sandy, Utah 84070. (plenty of free parking available!)

The Expo offers tons of genealogy courses that will help you learn the techniques and technology to trace your roots. Technology will make your family history research:
· Faster
· Easier
· More accurate
· Exciting

Don't miss the early bird discounted rate and register today. For just $68 (a $10 savings!), those who register before the end of the day, will have access to two days worth of intense learning and research help. New techniques Register online right now and you will save money and have immediate access to your class syllabi.

If you’re unable to, you can still register at the door for $78. If you can only make it for a single day, pay just $48 or $12.00 for a single class.

Your paid registration includes:
· All the great classes from leading genealogy speakers
· Concessions and tables available in the Exhibit Hall for lunch
· Printed Event Program
· Name Tag
· CD syllabus (to print your syllabus in advance, register online now and get immediate access!)
(Note: Family History Expos will print your syllabus for an additional $25.00. Printed syllabi will be available at the event and can be shipped after the event. Purchaser pays shipping. To purchase your syllabus in book format, go to
· Goody Bag stuffed full of coupons, discount offers, information and free trials
· Opportunity to have a FREE research consultation with a professional researcher at the Family History Expos Ask-the-Pros booth. E-mail to set up an appointment (you may also bring your research questions and sign up at the booth for available times)

Be sure to visit the Twitter Café and Blogging Bistro to learn fun new ways to connect with and communicate with your new “favorite” family members!

Go online right now and register ( or call 801-829-3295 for your seat at the Salt Lake City, Utah Family History Expo.

I'll be there teaching three classes:

Google: A Goldmine of Genealogy Gems Part I
Fri. 8/28/09 at 10:00 am in room 200D

Google: A Goldmine of Genealogy Gems Part II
Fri. 8/28/09 at 11:30 am in room 200D

Genealogy Podcasts and Blogs 101
Sat. 8/29/09 at 1:00 pm in room 200C

Be sure and stop by the Genealogy Gems Podcast booth in the exhibit hall. You'll find discount prices on:
  • Genealogy Gems Premium Membership
  • my book Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies
  • and the brand new Genealogy Gem rhinestone pin!

Be sure and ask for your free "I Listen to Genealogy Gems" nametag ribbon too.

See you at the Expo!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Get Your Offical Genealogy Gems Badge Ribbon #FHX09-SLC

The Family History Expo in Sandy Utah next weekend will be the debut of the "I Listen to Genealogy Gems" badge ribbon.

Stop by the Genealogy Gems booth in the exhibit hall and ask for your free ribbon to embellish your Family History Expo name tag.

Then keep an eye out for others wearing the ribbon and give them a shout out as a fellow listener.

Genealogy Gems listeners are THE BEST and the ribbon will help us do social networking - but this time LIVE and not just online.

See you at the Expo!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Could your ancestor's tombstone be moved for lawn maintenance?

A disturbing article about how one's perspective could change the face of a cemetery.

According to an article in the Mansfield News Journal, "Trustees authorized work crews to displace headstones at the Nave Cemetery, upsetting members of the Ohio Genealogical Society last week." and one trustee was quoted as saying, "As trustees, we don't rebuild cemeteries, we're not genealogists."

And that's exactly the reason that a partnership with the local genealogical society prior to the moving of headstones might have held off the current turmoil. Could your ancestor's stone be the next one moved "to make lawn maintenance easier?"

Read the story called "Springfield trustee: Tombstones can't be put back" at the

Volunteers to Bring Historic Sweden Church Records Online

Here's the latest news from FamilySearch. If you can read Swedish, you could make a big difference in this volunteer project.

FALKÖPING, Sweden—FamilySearch and Svensk Arkivinformation (SVAR), a division of the National Archives of Sweden, announced today the launch of the largest online indexing initiative undertaken to-date.

The two groups unveiled plans to engage Swedish volunteers throughout the world to help create a highly searchable, free online index to the historic parish registers of Sweden—200 years of recorded Swedish history as documented in the Sweden church records—comprising over 400 million names.

In 1608 the Archbishop of Sweden asked the clergy to begin making records of births, christenings, marriages, and burials of all the residents of Sweden. By 1686, they were conducting regular examinations of the population of each parish. The church records (often called “parish registers” or “church books”) span over two centuries and chronicle the vital life events of an estimated 418 million people who moved in and out of parishes in Sweden.

“The church records are a key source for genealogists seeking Swedish ancestors because nearly everyone who lived in Sweden was recorded in a church record,” said David Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer. “The challenge now is to make those records, which are written in Swedish, available to researchers worldwide,” concluded Rencher.

“We are very pleased with the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed for many years between FamilySearch and the National Archives to microfilm and scan the Swedish church records. Now we are going to create an index that will revolutionize the genealogy research in Sweden. The simplicity of finding and reading about one’s ancestors on the Web in the millions of scanned records will attract many beginners of all ages,” said Anders Nordström, director of SVAR. “To the academic researcher, this is an entirely new means. It makes it possible to do research within disciplines on a micro level, an extent that was never possible before now,” added Nordström.

The way Swedes passed on a family name throughout the centuries is another reason why the indexing initiative is so important to family historians. “Imagine being in a Swedish community 200 years ago and 10 out of 100 people have the same first and last name as you. That’s how small the naming pool was in Scandinavia,” said Jeff Svare, FamilySearch Scandinavian collection management specialist.

If you were Anders Andersson, your father could have been Anders. Your brother could have also been named Anders, as well as your uncle. To help distinguish which Anders Andersson you were referring to at the time, locals added the name of the farm (residence) of an individual to keep them straight. “Otherwise, when you’re trying to search for Anders Andersson today, your ancestor falls into the proverbial fog of same-named people and you don’t know who they are without the additional context,” added Svare.

The FamilySearch index will include the residence or farm name from the individual’s vital record. This information has been extracted to assist patrons in identifying their Swedish ancestor. The goal is to engage the Swedish community in creating a highly searchable, free online index to the Sweden church records. When complete, the index will be the single largest point of access to information contained in the historic parish registers of Sweden.

The free index will link to images of the original records hosted by the National Archives of Sweden (SVAR). In addition to the free public index that will be made available, SVAR might charge a nominal fee for public patrons who want to view or print the images.

FamilySearch is the global leader of online indexing. It launched its online indexing program in 2008, and tens of thousands of volunteers recently helped reach another major milestone by indexing their 250 millionth name. FamilySearch currently has 65 online indexing projects underway.

For this project, FamilySearch will create digital images of the Sweden church records provided by SVAR. Volunteers worldwide will then use FamilySearch’s Web-based indexing tool to view the digital images and extract only the desired information from the image. That data will then be processed and published online in searchable indexes linked to the digital images.

Volunteers need only Internet access and the ability to read Swedish to contribute to this historic effort. A unique quality control process ensures a highly accurate, finished index. Each document is transcribed by two different indexers, wherever they are in the world. Any discrepancies in their two extractions are then forwarded to a third volunteer—an arbitrator—who makes any needed corrections between the two interpretations.

The project will start with records from Örebro, Uppsala, and Södermanland counties. Indexing will begin with the earliest year available for each parish and continue through 1860. 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 for the Sweden Church Records project can do so at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What in the World is Going on at Ancestry?

Have you noticed something different about Ancestry lately? More info on your screen...other users who appear to be researching your ancestors? What's up?

Tune in to Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #70 to find out what in the world is going on from David Graham, Product Manager at

In this episode he takes us on a personal tour of Ancestry's new feature called Member Connect. It's a chance to hear the driving force behind the changes, and how this new info that is popping up on your screen just might lead you to some valuable new connections with other researchers.

And David not only tells us about Member Connect but shows us! Check out the two new videos (Parts 1 & 2) at the Genealogy Gems TV Channel where you can watch as David walks us through the Member Connect data right on the screen! (and be sure to subscribe to the channel for free while there so you'll be automatically notified when the next installments are published.)

I've also got lots of news about what's going on at Google and a few gems prompted by a listener's email that will take you "behind the scenes" of the US Federal Census.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just How Long Will Digital Documents Last?

That's the burning question. We all remember how we thought (or at least hoped) that the preservation techniques and documents of the past would see us through recording and preserving our family history:
  • Scotch tape
  • Poloroid Photographs
  • Self adhesive scrapbooks
  • standard scrapbook paper
  • 8 Tracks tapes
  • cassette tapes
  • VHS
  • Microfilm
...and the list goes on.

David S.H. Rosenthal, chief scientist with the LOCKSS Program at Stanford University, explores sustainable approaches to format obsolescence in digital preservation in a video called Ensuring the Longevisty of Digital Documents.

According to the Library of Congress: "He discusses large scale interactions between the evolution of information technology over time and the social, technical, and economic factors that enable digital preservation; changing fundamental understandings of threats and challenges in digital preservation starting from Jeff Rothenberg's 1995 Scientific American article "Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents" and moving onwards to the present and the future; and emerging recognition that economic and social sustainability are the overarching long-term barriers."

Watch the video

It's a long video, but a rare chance to hear some tough questions asked and answered about digital documents - and the resources that are so critical to our research fall in this category. This well-spoken expert on the subject covers the problems that are common to all digital preservation systems.

SPEAKER: David Rosenthal
EVENT DATE: 07/27/2009
RUNNING TIME: 76 minutes

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Genealogy Videos: Learn How to Create a Family History Blog

You heard how to start creating your own family history blog on Episode 40 of the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast. Now you can watch as I show you the steps in two brand new videos.

How to Blog Your Family History Part 1:

How to Blog Your Family History Part 2:

And stay tuned because we'll be taking your new blog even further in future podcast episodes and videos!

I love creating genealogy videos and you can view a large and varied collection at the Genealogy Gems TV Channel at YouTube. While there, be sure and click the SUBSCRIBE button on the left to receive notifications of new videos as soon as they are published.

Another great way to stay on top of everything that's new at Genealogy Gems is to sign up for the free Genealogy Gems e-newsletter. Approximately every other week you will receive an email giving you the scoop on:
  • new podcast episodes
  • new videos
  • new articles
  • great genealogy websites
  • research gems
Your privacy is important to us and your email and personal information is never shared. And to thank you for signing up you'll receive a link to my 20 page e-book 5 Fabulous Google Research Strategies for the Family Historian which you can download - it's the ultimate Google cheat sheet.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Why Genealogists Should Blog and How To Do It

I've had so much fun bringing genealogy bloggers like The Footnote Maven, Denise Levenick and Schelly Talalay Dardashti to you on the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast (Episodes 38 & 39) These bloggers have shared some great advice and experience that only seasoned bloggers can.

So why should a genealogist blog?

In Episode 40 genealogy blogger Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog provides a solid answer to that question. Amy shares her blog post called "Another Jones Surprise - or Why Genealogists Should Blog." After hearing this I guarantee you will want to get started.

But just how do you get started blogging, you may ask?

Well, I have a quick and easy and best of all FREE answer for you in Episode 40 just published today. I will walk you through one blogging option step-by-step. By the end of Episode 40 you will have a blog up and running. Then keep an "ear" out next Friday for Episode 41 where we finish up the process and you publish your first post.

The episode is designed so that you can literally sit at your computer and listen as I hold your hand through each step. And as a back up, I have the instructions for you in the episode show notes.

I hope you'll give blogging a try. And if you do, be sure and send me your new blog address because I'm going to be featuring listener's newly created blogs in an upcoming episode and sending readers your way!

Take a moment now to hear from geneablogger Thomas MacEntee...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tinkering with a TinType

I think the Footnote Maven planted a seed when she was talking about collecting old cabinet cards, particularly of ladies in white dresses and in glasses in episode 38 of the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast.

Last week my oldest daughter Vienna and I were going to spend the day together as we usually do each week. But rather than watch a vintage Bette Davis movie, it occurred to me that we hadn't been antiquing in ages. So I hit the Internet, found a little seaside town nearby with a nice assortment of antique shops and a lovely little Victorian Tea House where we could lunch, and off we went - a pair of mischevious adventurers.

Among the treasures I snagged that day was this little 2 x 3" tintype. I fell in love with the facials expressions, and jovial attire...and the American flag draped above them sealed the deal.

The scanned image actually looks better than the original which is quite dark and very small. The more I examined it with a magnifying glass the more I felt the fun these young folks were having the day this pic was snapped, and pretty soon I had an itch to have some fun with the photo.

And here are the results. A merry troupe of turn of the century young people, pleasing in pink, purple and teal.

Of course I have no idea what colors they were really wearing that day. But I imagine that they were the types to have appreciated a bit of tinkering with some old tin.

Click here for a Larger View of the colorized image

Monday, August 3, 2009

What All Genealogists Have in Common with Tony Burroughs

When folks pick up Tony Burrough's book Black Roots: A Beginners Guide To Tracing The African American Family Tree, they sometimes put it back down if they don't have African American ancestors thinking it wouldn't apply to them. They couldn't be more wrong.

In the newest episode of The Genealogy Gems Podcast, Tony Burroughs (of the Ancestors and African American Lives television series) explains that while there are some forks in the road for black researchers, the overall research process and strategies are common to all genealogists. And Tony specializes in exploring that process in depth and includes terrific worksheets in his book to help you along the way. Listen in to my conversation with him for some expert advice and a few laughs too.

(photo above: Lacey Cooke, Tony Burroughs, & Lisa Cooke following the interview at Jamboree.)