Archive for 2008

Electoral Rolls, Police Gazettes, and Unclaimed Letters From Australia

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

This week’s major collection at includes Australian content from three different databases.

  • Queensland Australia Electoral Rolls 1934 & 1949
  • Queensland Police Gazette 1864 – 1874
  • Queensland Australia Unclaimed Letters

As stated last week, an electoral roll contains a list of the names of all people registered to vote in a particular area. The earliest electoral rolls in Australia begin in the 1840s, for the states of New South Wales and Victoria.

TheQueensland Police Gazette 1864-1874 contains 31,196 records. Each result contains the name, the topic (reason the warrant was issued), the volume and page number, and the date.

The Queensland Unclaimed Letters Index 1864-1874 was compiled by the Queensland Family History Society between 1997 and 2003, along with the Queensland Police Gazette 1864-1874. The Queensland Unclaimed Letters database provides an index to the names in the monthly lists of Unclaimed Letters published in the Queensland Government Gazette between 1864 and 1874. Currently this database contains 202,473 records.

The index is a valuable aid for locating early colonists in Queensland. Knowing where your ancestors were is often not easy to determine, particularly if no significant event occurred which let a paper trail. Many of them moved frequently, either seeking employment or chasing gold. As a result letters were often not able to be delivered – the last address was no longer applicable. The addresses given in this index will assist tracing just where that ancestor was, even it he or she was no longer there by the time these letters were due for delivery!

New Podcast For Genealogists

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

A new podcast was recently launched for genealogists called Family History: Genealogy Made Easy. The podcast is geared to beginning genealogists, and yet includes motivational interviews for the more experienced researchers.

Lisa Louise Cooke is the author of the podcast, and her hope is that this podcast will reach out to the non-genealogist and show them that discovering their family history is possible and easier than ever with all the Internet advances.

Getting started is the hardest part, and following along with this weekly serial podcast will make it easier than ever to get started and reap rewards.The audio player can be downloaded here: Genealogy Gems News Blog.

Just click the GET button on the player. It not only plays the new show, but also The Genealogy Gems Podcast, The Family Tree Magazine Podcast, The Family History Expos Podcast and Digital Photography Life. You can also subscribe free to the show in iTunes.

What Was Voting Like For Your Ancestors???

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

By Whitney Ransom McGowan,
Election time is coming up on November 4 in the United States. Although voting may seem commonplace to you, what was voting like for your ancestors? Did they vote? How did they vote? Did any of your ancestors run for office? Lets take a look at voting throughout a variety of countries and centuries.

Did you know that in Ancient Greece individuals had a negative election? This meant that male landowners were asked to vote for the individual they most wanted to exile for ten years. If any politician received more than 6,000 of these votes, the one with the largest number was actually exiled! If there wasn’t a politician who received 6,000 votes, then all of the politicians were safe.

In the late 1860s, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were passed, extending voting rights to former slaves. Although these amendments were passed, many blacks could not actually vote until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1960.

If your ancestors lived up until the mid-1800s, voting was done quite differently. First, it was not secret. Voters would be sworn in and voice their opinions. The secret ballot box was useful because it was said to increase voter participation; however, there were some problems with fraud because there was no direct verification that what the voter intended to vote was actually followed.

If your ancestors were born in 1971, a new amendment was passed lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. At this time the Vietnam War was in process. This was a time when 18-year-olds were drafted to the war and were unable to vote.

How was voting for your female ancestors? In 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed in the United States, giving women the right to vote. Women born in New Zealand could vote in 1893. Women born in Australia could vote in 1902. Female citizens living in Switzerland received the right to vote in the 1970s. Women could vote in Finland in 1906, in Norway in 1913, in the Soviet Union in 1917, in Poland in 1918, in Germany and Sweden in 1919, and in Ireland in 1922.

Today the voting age in many countries throughout the world is age 18 (Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (note this is not a comprehensive list). However, in some countries the ages are different for voting. For example, if you are 15 you can vote in Iran. If you are 16 years of age, you are eligible for voting in Brazil. You can also vote in Japan at age 20.

Have you ever tried to learn more about voting and your ancestors at A keyword search for the word “voting” at yields 184,581 matches in 2,982 indexes and 797,649 matches in 5,474 indexes for the keyword “vote.” Check out today and see what voting was like for your ancestors.


A Closer Look Into St. Mary’s County Cemetery Index

Friday, October 31st, 2008

St. Mary’s County Cemetery Index was recently launched at This index contains vital records from cemeteries located in St. Mary’s county. The database contains 4,194 records. Each record contains the name, birth date, death date, and the name of the cemetery. The database will be free to access on until November 1, 2008.

Many of the individuals in this database were buried in the following cemeteries: All Faith Episcopal, Charles Memorial Gardens, Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Holy Face, Our Ladys Catholic, Queen Of Peace, Sacred Heart Catholic, St Georges Catholic, St Georges Episcopal, St John Francis Regis, St Marks Uame, St Michaels Catholic, St Peter Claver, and St. Mary.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (his record is located on in the Find A Grave database), author of many well-known novels, including The Great Gatsby. He was originally buried in Rockville Union Cemetery with his wife Zelda Sayre. However, at the request their only child, the Women’s Club of Rockville had the couple’s bodies moved to his family’s plot in St. Mary’s. Fitzgerald’s epitaph is the final sentence from The Great Gatsby. It reads, “So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.” St. Mary’s cemetery is located Rockville, Maryland (next to the St. Mary’s Church on Veirs Mill Road). Celebrates 2-Year Anniversary

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 recently celebrated its two year anniversary and is looking forward to many more years of celebration! On October 4, 2006, sold its first membership with 21 online databases. Now, two years later, has more than 1.2 billion names in more than 11,000 databases. Thank you for making one of the most popular online destinations for people tracing their ancestral lines. We especially want to thank the tens of thousands of you who have subscribed to, helping to fund the services we offer today and their ongoing growth and refinement. was originally founded by Paul Allen and several key members of the original team. The current president of the company is Steve Nickle. Under Allen and Nickle’s direction, the company has pursued its goals of becoming the world’s largest gateway to family discovery and expression and to facilitate your desire to connect with family and family roots. When began, one of the main strategies Allen set was to partner with as many companies as possible to acquire valuable genealogical 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.”

More than 30 companies have partnered with, such as FamilySearch, Quintin Publications, British Origins, The Statue of Liberty Foundation/Ellis, Eneclann,SmallTownPapers®, Genealogical Publishing Company, Accessible Archives, Archive CD Books Australia, NewspaperARCHIVE, Find A Grave, and Find My Past. 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. World Vital Records adds new content every business day. 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 sends out a newsletter containing upcoming databases, industry news, genealogical tips, articles on recent databases, and more. For those who are new to the site, is part of a family of services that includes,, and We’re Related and My Family on Facebook. We look forward to continually helping you find your ancestors. At, we are dedicated to meeting your needs. With your continued support and feedback, our service will continue to improve over time. We can accomplish much together to improve genealogical research. If you have feedback on how we can better meet your needs, please send it to Whitney at Thanks for your support this past year at

A Peek Into the Old Dutch Burying Ground of Sleepy Hollow Database

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Halloween is coming up soon. This week at we are featuring The Old Dutch Burying Ground of Sleepy Hollow as our Halloween database. Click here to access this database. The Old Dutch Burying Ground is adjacent from the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York. The ground contains approximately 1,700 tombstones from the mid 18th century to the late 19th Century. Many of these stones have crumbled and the writing on many is not legible. The oldest legible stone is that of Mary Stone, No. 138.

On the Northern side of the burial ground lies the remains of Washington Irving, author of the “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” It is said of his burial location, “Marked by no tawdry memorial of elaborate sculpture, a simple marble slab indicates the grave; a slab ingeniously fashioned, with rounded corners and edges designed to foil souvenir collectors who have carried off piecemeal two earlier stones.”

New Australian Records Online From Ryerson Index

Friday, October 24th, 2008

This week’s Major Collection at features an update to the existing Ryerson Index, which contains contemporary death notices, obituaries, and genealogical queries published in two Sydney daily newspapers, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph.

The Ryerson Index ( was published as one of’s first large Australian databases. The update to the Ryerson Index contains 1,298, 320 new records, and is part of the Australian collection. The Ryerson Index is free to access as part of the global search at Free access is possible because of the way the content is indexed at For example, when an individual does a search and there is a “hit” on a name that is in the Ryerson index, once an individual clicks on the link, the search box on the Ryerson index web site is automatically populated with that search.

The Ryerson Index plugs a hole in available resources for those researching in Australia. There are no official records available for deaths post 1985 (in New South Wales), and from varying dates for other states. By indexing the deaths published in all major, and many smaller newspapers in New South Wales, the volunteers helping with the Ryerson index continue to make that gap in the records less of a brick wall for researchers. The Ryerson index has also been expanded to include other states of Australia, and now has a large number of entries from the major newspapers in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Combined, these four states cover about 85% of the Australian population.

This month is the tenth birthday of the Ryerson Index! In that time, volunteers have indexed more than 1.84 million entries, and are currently adding entries at the rate of more than 250,000 per year. There are approximately 120 active indexers, all volunteers, covering the 139 newspapers included in the index. Many indexers have taken on the task of back-indexing their local paper, with some papers now complete for between 40 and 60 years back from the present. The Ryerson Index is now being recognized as an essential resource for Australian research. They look forward to indexing their two millionth record (around mid-2009), and to continuing to expand in the future.

Connect With Family To Weather the Financial Storm

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

By Whitney Ransom McGowan,

Times are tough right now as we find ourselves wading deep in a financial crisis. Although the thought of declining investments, or rising gas and food prices may leave you without much hope, take the time to combat those feelings by spending time with your family and loved ones.

According to an article in the Denver Post, “the economic downturn is forcing many to defer dreams of striking a better work-life balance. As past recessions have shown, downturns tend to quash such luxuries as cutting back to part-time work hours by choice, dropping out voluntarily for a while to stay home with the kids, or taking a sabbatical. Instead, families have to find other ways to sustain closeness.”

One of the best ways to sustain closeness in a family is by finding ways to be together, whether you are in the same house or not even in the same zip code. Being with family and friends during tough economic times can offer significant strength and support. Just knowing that someone is thinking about you and cares about you brings reassurance.  To help weather the financial storms, schedule some time to connect with your family today.

At, Inc. we understand that family is what matters most in life. To help you connect with your family (present and past), we offer several cost effective solutions:

Connect in the Present:

1. We’re Related on Facebook. This application is completely free and allows you to share photos and important news with your family. While you are at it, you can also work collaboratively on your family tree. Plus, the application has a feature that can help you find other people on Facebook who might be related to you.

To join 10 million other We’re Related users: If you are a Facebook user: Log in to your account and add the We’re Related application by going to your Facebook home page and clicking on the applications tab at the bottom of your browser page. This will open a window that lists your current applications. There is a “Find More” link at the top right of the box. Click on that link and you will be brought to Facebook’s application directory. In the application directory search box, type “We’re Related.” The search results page will appear with a link to the We’re Related application. Simply add the application and you can immediately connect with other family members on Facebook and invite them to join you in using the features of We’re Related, such as the family tree, photo albums, family calendars, and discussion boards.

Connect in the Past:

2.Affordable subscriptions. At we recognize that everyone has different family history search needs, which is why we offer several subscriptions. Try our low-cost monthly subscriptions, or save even more money on a year subscription. We guarantee your satisfaction or your money back!

With a subscription, you will be able to search for your ancestors in our many databases and discover information about your family in the process. With more than a billion names in thousands of databases–including birth, death, military, census, and parish records– makes it easy to fill in missing information in your family tree. Some of our partners include Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, Archive CD Books Australia, Gould Genealogy, Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Archive CD Books Canada, Archive CD Books USA, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., SmallTownPapers®, Accessible Archives, Genealogical Publishing Company, Find My Past, Simmons Historical Publications, the Dundurn Group, Godfrey Memorial Library, Find A Grave, and FamilySearch.

New and Improved Image Viewer on

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

One of the major requests we receive from users is to improve the image viewer on The purpose of the viewer is to display images from our databases. These images come primarily from newspapers, but also from additional images from documents and books. We have been listening to your feedback and are excited to announce that we have launched some enhancements to the viewer.

Here are some of the improved features:

1. Display of images. The width of the images has been fixed so they do not display off the screen. Improved zoom feature.

2. Enhanced zoom features allow the viewer to see the specific part of the image they want to view.

3. The new image viewer is based on Adobe flash/flex technology, which will eliminate java errors and many compatibility problems.

4. Improved printing. In the past, the image viewer would print the entire image. Now, individuals have the option of printing the entire image, or simply the current viewable section of the image.

Click here to see and try out the new image viewer.

These changes have improved the interface, as well as performance of the image viewer. Check out the new image viewer today. This is just phase one–many more enhancements are coming soon!

Happy Viewing!!

We’re Related Application Reaches 10 Million Users In Less Than a Year

Monday, October 20th, 2008, Inc. builds the family graph with more than 50 million relationships

PROVO, UT, October 20, 2008
— In less than one year,, Inc.’s Facebook application, We’re Related, has been downloaded by more than 10 million users.

“When we first started We’re Related, some developers told us that people won’t use Facebook to connect with their family members. They said that Facebook’s target market was not families, and that the app would not survive,” said Jason McGowan, director, Social Networking,, Inc. “We have proven just the opposite by having an application that is ranked No. 9 in ‘most monthly active users’ on Facebook. People do want to connect online with their families, and now they have an easy way to do it.”

The We’re Related application allows individuals to find relatives on Facebook, share photos with their friends and families, and also collaboratively build family trees with family members on Facebook. Using We’re Related, individuals have the ability to define which Facebook users are their relatives.

Since the application was launched October 2007, more than 50 million relationships (of living people) have been defined on We’re Related. The most common relationship, by far, is “cousin, or cuz, or first cousin, or my cousin” (8.6 million). However, there have also been some funny relationships defined as well. For example, 1,925 people have been defined as “lover,” 4, 244 people have defined as “wifeys,” 2,683 people have been defined as “4th cousins,” 1,404 people have defined as “soul sisters,” 35 people have been defined as “doggy granddog,” and 35 people have been defined as “dog-n-law.”

“The Facebook platform has provided the opportunity for millions of connections to be made that may not have been possible otherwise. This fact is key to our success, because our goal is to connect individuals,” said Paul Allen, CEO,, Inc.

We’re Related has its largest audiences in the United States, Canada, and the UK. It has users from a total of 232 countries/territories and from all 50 states. Within the past 30 days, the application has had 6.5 million monthly active users and 450,000 daily active users. We’re Related has been the fastest growing application in the past few weeks, jumping from No. 23 to No. 9 (based on monthly active users).

McGowan feels that having this large number of defined relationships, with the resultant heavy flow of traffic, puts well on its way to “graphing the social family graph.”

“We have been able to leverage the social graph on Facebook, and other social networks, to build the family graph and make it easy to find and connect with relatives,” McGowan said.

Along with the 10 million current users, advertisers also greatly benefit from the We’re Related application.

“The staggering growth of the We’re Related application and the targeted advertising capabilities that growth has created provide an unprecedented opportunity for advertisers to easily reach millions of people who are connecting with family and strengthening those relationships,” said Nathan Gwilliam, Chief Revenue Officer,, Inc.

We’re Related can be downloaded at:


Media Contact
Whitney Ransom McGowan
Corporate Communications Director, Inc.

About, Inc., Inc. is a family of services that includes,,, and the We’re Related and My Family applications on Facebook. The focus of the company is to provide innovative tools to connect families., Inc. has 7 million unique global visitors each month and 30.4 million page views per month. We’re Related is one of the fastest-growing social networks for genealogists that allows individuals to find relatives on Facebook, connect with friends and family members, build family trees, and share news and photos. We’re Related has found success using Uservoice, an online forum for users, to determine new features that should be added to the site. My Family is a great way for people to express themselves and to share interesting characteristics about their family with those they connect with on social platforms.