Archive for 2007

Previous Research-Filling in the Blanks

Friday, October 19th, 2007

By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

This article is for those who already have some genealogical records, but want to increase their proof of these generations.

Day One: Bring out your dead! Gather the genealogical materials that are immediately available pertaining the living and deceased family (family group sheets, pedigree charts, pictures, etc.).

Day Two:
If the information is not already in a personal genealogical database program, use the rest of the fifteen minutes a day this week to complete this task (depending upon the size of the files). We recommend using Ancestral Quest, PAF, or RootsMagic to accomplish this. (World Vital Records’ members can get a discount on these items. Note: PAF is a free program. PAF Insight and PAFWiz Enhancements for PAF 5 can be purchased at a discount to World Vital Records’ members.) Then move on to the rest of this week’s tasks.

Day Three:
Look over your people and see where the “holes” are. A hole is either a blank space that needs information (birth date, birth place, etc.) or a fact without a source. Facts without sources are as common as being without a fact in the first place, especially when previous researchers only recorded information, but not from whence the information came.

Day Four:
Choose ONE hole to fill in. Enthusiasm for family history may propel a researcher to try to cover all holes at the same time. This leads to chaos and confusion. The purpose of the article is not to curb or crush the enthusiasm, but to channel and hone it into useful energy, not static electricity.

Day Five: Decide what repository has the records needed to search, to fill in the hole.

Ideas/ How to:

* Analysis of census records
* Looking up whether an original document exists via The Handybook for Genealogists
* Using Google to search the Internet for immediate possibilities
* Research handbooks, i.e. as Val Greenwood’s The American Researcher’s Guide to Genealogy
* Family History Library Catalog, available from for possible microfilmed records
* New York Public Library catalog
* The Library of Congress catalog
* The DAR Library catalog
* ProQuest/Allen County Public Library search
* Searching for the historical and/or genealogical society closest to where your family came from and contacting them about possible records

Day Six: After discovering the right material via catalogs and index possibilities from day five, find the closest (and cheapest) location for the record. Ask the library to make a copy for you of needed materials, or for the object to be sent via interlibrary loan. ALWAYS offer to pay for copies, shipping and handling, etc. Services are not usually free, unless you have researched through a local researcher via FamilyLink, who has offered his or her services for free, or through one of’s partners, such as Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness.

Day Seven: Once the materials are in town, search them for evidence. Find the putty for filling in the holes. Also, check for more information.

Present-Day Family History: Traditional Family Activities

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

Connecting families is more than printing pedigree charts and family group sheets. Outside of the library, families come together over food and fun activities. The purpose of this article is to help grandparents, parents, and children learn from each other and pass along traditions that otherwise might die with time and non-use.

As a child, the author learned how to do basic crocheting from her grandmother. Her grandmother learned it from her mother, and the assumption is that the skill passed down through generations. Using needlework to make an afghan around the age of sixteen, the author did not think about the childhood activity for more than a decade. Inexplicably, along with more-earnest research efforts on the particular line for the great-grandmother whose family did the needlework came an urge to start using the skill again and learning more stitches than were learned during childhood.

Not every family reunion has to be spent picnicking or doing activities done in another country. Sometimes reminders of the past are refreshing and welcome. Sometimes it is better to focus on skills that previous generations within the same country develop. If generations have been making the same special tomato sauce for years, then teaching the next generation how to make the sauce is a form of family history.

Other families associate identities with singing, sports, or nature. Costumes may also be a basic form of identity. An outfit, a pair of glasses, a vase, or a painting may be tied to family traditions. Explaining traditions is more than a Saturday afternoon, rainy-day activity.

Modern media presents seasonal activities that may or may not work for your family. Disregard the less-functional activities presented by the prevailing culture, and focus on the things that your family liked to do in the past. This aspect of learning about the past, when done well, explains the connections in personality, tastes, and preferences between generations of family members. Bringing generations together to engage in activities and explaining the significance enables learning on a level that draws attention and constructs bridges through active participation.

Join World Vital Records, Inc.’s Customer Input Panel

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

World Vital Records, Inc. is looking for a special team of people to help direct input into what happens at World Vital Records. This team is called the Customer Input Panel, and World Vital Records would love to have you be a part of this team and receive your feedback. (This means that you would receive approximately 2-3 surveys per month.)

Click Here to join the Customer Input Panel. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Want To Find All Your Living Relatives? Check Out Our New Facebook App And See Why 23,000+ People Signed Up In The First 48 Hours

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

More than 23,000 people have added’s We’re Related app on, a social networking website, in the past two days because they want to find all of their living relatives on

What can you do with the We’re Related application?

The We’re Related app has several major features: First, it allows you to search through your friends on Facebook and find all your living relatives. You indicate how you are related. For example, you can scan through your list of friends and find an individual who is your cousin, or your brother, or even your sister-in-law.

If your friends or family members are using the We’re Related app, then it will show them images of their family members and suggest if you might be related to them as well. This is a great feature because you may have family members who are Facebook users who have not been added to your list of friends on Facebook.

Using the We’re Related app, you can also upload your family tree (GEDCOM file) and compare it with your friends to see if you are related to them.

Add the application today. First, create a account. Then go to:

Wonderbase of the Week: 6 New NewspaperARCHIVE Databases

Monday, October 15th, 2007

This week’s Wonderbase of the Week at World Vital Records, Inc. includes images from six newspapers from the NewspaperARCHIVE collection.

The images are completely searchable and viewable and will be free to access until October 25, 2007. These papers have added substantially to World Vital Records’ growing collection of newspapers.

The new newspapers include:

* Sioux County Capital from Orange City, Iowa
* Terril Tribune from Terril, Iowa
* Titusville Weekly Herald from Titusville, Pennsylvania
* Chippewa Valley News from Eau Claire, Wisconsin
* Huntingdon Daily Journal from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
* People’s Friend from Orange City, Iowa

Note: Additional NewspaperARCHIVE databases will be added throughout this week.

Newspapers are a valuable resource that contain vital dates including births, marriages and deaths. They also can provide excellent historical background about ancestors’ lives, as well as anecdotal information to fill in the gaps between the vital dates.

How to Write a Personal History

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

Day One: Write down a list of various questions you would like to ask someone else. Start out with ten.

Day Two: Answer these questions yourself, adding as much detail as you want.

Day Three: Add your basic vital statistics, such as birth day, marriage, children, parents, locations lived in, and other things that are important to you, such as ecclesiastical information, occupations, fraternal organizations, political affiliations, clubs, hobbies, etc.

Day Four:
Look at a timeline such is found in the e-Sourcebook of American History. (It is a free download that came when you signed up for the newsletter. Look for the newsletter confirmation letter in case you didn’t download it at the time you first confirmed.)

Day Five: Use the timeline to help in the recollection of memorable historical events and your, your family’s and others’ reactions to them. Do the history books reflect your feelings on the events that have so far transpired in your life? Why or why not?

Day Six: Make sure that the questions and answers are typed.

Day Seven: Email to a close relative, or to whoever may be interested to make sure that the history has multiple copies available.

This is not meant to be an all-inclusive article concerning personal histories but something to get readers started.

Availability of Records

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

by Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

Due to an ever-increasing amount of online records, the genealogical field is much easier to use, enabling faster research than ever for a wider group. Despite this accessibility, not all documents are available exactly when and where they are wanted. Some documents that a searcher may want do not exist in the format that seems most likely-online, or offline, such as basic vital certificates currently considered normal proof of identity.

Before giving up on a problem and considering it an “unsolvable brick wall,” recognize there is always another source possible. Ways of checking for accessibility of records:

1. Research Outlines produced by the LDS Church.
While some of these outlines are dated, they do contain good source recommendations for the best places to search. They also usually give brief histories, and special sources of better collections that are particularly useful for a given location. An example is Tanguay’s “Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes françaises depuis les origines de la colonie jusqu’à nos jours,” the French Canadian genealogical dictionary of ” and historical records throughout Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, , and the old French settlements in the United States.” (New Advent 2007) This can be found in the Quebec research guide found online: Quebec, Canada genealogy.

2. The Handybook for Genealogists:
This book is crucial to American genealogical research and should be in the home library of any family historian who is doing research in any of the 50 states. Why? The organization of the book is by state and then by county. As the United States grew, counties were formed and divided. One of my favorite “brick wall busters” is comparing a county’s geographical area against a time frame. This can be done as easily using software like AniMap, from Ohana Software.

For example, while Chester County, Pennsylvania is an original county (part of the state when it was formed), its current location does not include the more than fifteen other counties that can eventually trace their geo-political genealogy back to this county. The book makes it easy to track down what the right county may have been, and what records the counties keep for certain time periods in their histories.

Also spectacular for this large reference volume are the listings of societies and repositories located throughout the state, bibliographical resources (this is not the first article to write on available records, nor is it all-comprehensive), atlases, maps, and gazetteers, available censuses and substitutes, court, probate, and wills, emigration, immigration, migration, and naturalization, land and property records, military records, and vital and cemetery records. States and counties differ as to what records are available, and this is one of the best books available for finding out this material.

3. Ancestry’s Red Book:
While similar to the Handybook in nature, Ancestry’s Red Book covers the information in a different format. Both are useful for finding out the websites and contact information for each county. Purchasing one does not diminish or lessen the effectiveness or necessity for the other.

4. Read through the section of a county history
for the town in question where ancestors lived. Often there are facts about local history recorded within the sections that otherwise do not make an official county Web page today.

5. Look for guides to sources such as The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Printed Sources (covering printed materials often overlooked), and Hidden Sources, all covering different aspects of how to search for the right materials, and all useful in a personal library for the professional, enthusiast, hobbyist, and even novice.

The most important part of the genealogist’s exercise is to ask questions. Those questions may lead to a reference book. They may also eventually lead to a professional in the field, so designated by credentials and expertise. No matter what, never stop asking. The only “stupid” question is the one that isn’t asked.

Thousands of Ahnentafel Charts Launched at World Vital Records, Inc.

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

World Vital Records, Inc. has launched a new database consisting of more than 2,500 Ahnentafel charts with more than 37,000 names. These charts will be available free to access until October 18, 2007.

Ahnentafel charts are simply a way to view a pedigree chart in a compact way. Each position on the pedigree chart is given a number, so each person is listed by number rather than on an illustrative tree. The subject of the chart is listed as #1, the father is #2, and the mother is #3. This pattern continues throughout the chart resulting in a concise way to list the people on a pedigree chart. Because of this simple, consistent pattern, it is easy to learn a person’s position on a pedigree chart by simply looking at an Ahnentafel chart.

Except for the person in #1 position, who can be either male or female, all even numbers list males, and odd numbers list females. A person’s father’s number is double the person’s number, and the mother is double the person’s number plus one.

The majority of the Ahnentafel charts being launched today consist of only four generations, making the charts very simple to use and understand.

World Vital Records Celebrates Its One-Year Anniversary

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

World Vital Records, Inc. is thrilled to celebrate its one-year anniversary!

Where We Have Been, and Where We Are Going at World Vital Records, Inc.

Founded in 2006, by Paul Allen and several key members of the original team, World Vital Records, Inc. provides affordable genealogy databases and family history networking tools to a worldwide audience.

“I started back in 1996. Over the next few years I saw it grow into the largest genealogy company in the world. Because of some internal decisions made by our investors I felt the company changed directions from our original intentions, and I left the company in 2002,” said Paul Allen, CEO, World Vital Records, Inc.

After leaving, Allen still felt the need to bring families together and to do it in a way that was affordable to families. These desires brought Allen back to the genealogical field. In 2006 he started World Vital Records. Some of the first employees were Richard Stauffer, former Ancestry content processing developer, and John Ivie, data compiler for the first three billion records at Ancestry. These two programmers played a vital role in building the foundation of David Lifferth, content engineer, also began to work at World Vital Records and later Allen selected him as the new president of World Vital Records, Inc. World Vital Records’ management team has more than 30 years of combined experience as pioneers in the online genealogy industry.

One of the main strategies Allen set was to partner with as many companies as possible to acquire content, while sharing revenues and royalties with these content providers. In September 2007, DearMYRTLE wrote, “With all the partnering, special offers, combined sign-ups and such, WVR clearly wins the award for the most prolific agreement-signing genealogy website of the year.”

On October 4, 2006, World Vital Records sold its first membership subscription with 21 online databases. Currently World Vital Records has tens of thousands of subscribers with thousands of databases containing more than half a billion online names and records.

Everton Publishers
was the first company to partner with World Vital Records. As part of the partnership, all of Everton’s content including the Genealogical Helper and Everton’s Pedigree Files and Family Group Sheets became available at World Vital Records. In May, 2007, World Vital Records held the first genealogical press release during the 2007 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference. During the conference, World Vital Records announced its partnerships with FamilySearch, Quintin Publications, and The Statue of Liberty Foundation/Ellis

World Vital Records has also partnered with companies such as SmallTownPapers®, Accessible Archives, NewspaperARCHIVE, Find A Grave, and Allcensus, to bring birth, marriage, death, military, census, and parish records online.

“This time around with our new company, we are trying to make sure every employee at World Vital Records understands our mission to use technology to connect families to their ancestors and to each other,” Allen said. “We have excellent investors who believe in our mission, and we intend to partner with hundreds of societies, archives, and libraries to make wonderful genealogical content available at an affordable price.”

World Vital Records adds content daily. Some of its most popular databases include Everton’s Genealogical Helper and Family Group Sheets and Pedigree Files, and the World War II Army Enlistment Records. The Social Security Death Index (SSDI), the Ellis Island Passenger Arrival Records, Find A Grave death records, and SmallTownPapers® newspaper collection are free to access and frequently viewed. Each week World Vital Records sends out a newsletter containing upcoming databases, industry news, genealogical tips, articles on recent databases, and more.

World Vital Records exists to meet the needs of its subscribers. Its business model includes a customer focus that is responsive to industry needs. World Vital Records sends out surveys to its members on a regular basis to find ways to improve the site. Recently it was named by Family Tree Magazine, America’s largest-circulation genealogy magazine, as one of the 101 Best Family History Web Sites.

“I am very pleasantly impressed by what I have seen so far, and have signed up for a subscription. What clinched it for me was doing a search for my Polish family name and being amazed to find a reference to my mid-nineteenth century great-great grandparents in an obscure digitized Polish book, which I would never, never have found any other way,” said Natalie Lamb, World Vital Records, Inc. subscriber, Berkshire, England.

World Vital Records has currently built 48 international communities. Each free community page has a search engine that allows users to search the best genealogical Web sites in English, as well as the native language.

“Our primary goal at World Vital Records is to help people find information about their ancestors that they need. If they can’t find it on our site, we will direct them to wherever that information may be located,” Lifferth said.

World Vital Records recently built, a free social network for genealogists and families, which is currently in beta. At individuals can upload their family tree and their GEDCOM files, send messages to genealogists in more than 20 countries, upload photos of their favorite ancestors, and connect with more than 15,000 genealogists and family historians in more than 1,600 places.

Calendar Reports In RootsMagic Provide Fun For All

Friday, October 5th, 2007

RootsMagic Calendar

By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

Many family organizational database software systems offer interesting options for displaying and explaining family history information to other members of the family who may not be as enthusiastic about doing research, yet are still interested in knowing about their families. As the holidays come closer, these options may provide inexpensive and fun family gifts.

For purposes of this article, the author used RootsMagic.

Day One: In the latest edition of RootsMagic (version 3), click on Reports. Next click on Calendar. Look at the different charts available (Calendar option brings up a number of charts.)

Day Two: Choose a chart style to experiment with. Whether it is the Calendar, Narrative, Relationship Chart, Wall Charts, Timeline, Scrapbook, Photo Tree, or other options, choose one to start. This does not have to be the one given away during the holidays or at the next family reunion, but should give you a feel for what is possible.

Day Three: For this article, the author decided to play with Calendar. * Moving up the calendar year to 2008, and naming the calendar while leaving the default options alone, click Create.

Day Five: Examine the calendar created by RootsMagic. For the author’s calendar, all the relatives (living and deceased) showed up for the month of January. Even if this is not the final print-out, it is fun to see that with a database of only a few thousand people, some months had many people born on the same day resulting in more than one monthly page per month as multiple people were born on the same days.

Day Six: Close out the current calendar, and removing the check from Only Living People. Click Create.

Day Seven: You should now see an exhaustive calendar with every relative’s birthday. Keep playing with this fun option and others, and choose the presentation style that works best for you and your family. Print the results you like.

*There are many different projects that can be made easily using RootsMagic. The Calendar is an example of one of many.