Archive for the ‘Genealogy News, Tips, Tricks’ Category

Family Stories: Teach and create memories

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Family Stories: Teach and create memories

When we attend conferences, we hope we’ll bring something home that changes our perspective and provides new ideas and opportunities to try new things – or change others – to make progress on our personal family history goals.

If a family history or genealogy conference provides that experience, we are fortunate. However, if we attend an event that opens our minds to countless new ideas, new areas of interest and new methods of researching, then we’re not only merely successful, but that experience can be considered a game-changer.

Steve Anderson

Such was the Story@Home conference held March 9-10.

Generally, I attend an event, come home with knowledge that makes me a better genealogist and person. But following this most recent event, I came home with an entire list of speakers’ names, stories, and faces etched into my brain. Not just one speaker – but all of them – shared their stories.

From the beginning, as Steve Anderson – Family Search’s marketing director –introduced David Rencher – Family Search’s chief genealogist and keynote speaker – the event was filled with memorable stories. David spoke of great successes in finding not just one cemetery full of ancestors but a whole weekend of discoveries. Every time he turned around, another person said, “Oh, that’s my line as well.”

Carol Rice – CEO and founder of CherishBound (the producer of Story@Home) – related her experiences in recording her family stories. She spoke about the women in her family, and through pictures and books, the birth of her company.

Popular blogger C Jane Kendrick and her husband Chup put on a lively show – discussing the “upcoming” Story@Home conference when, in reality, they were already there. They discussed how and what they would present. They “decided” to tell the story of their last child’s birth at home with no midwife or other medical staff present and the special moments they shared together. They truly demonstrated the power of story in sharing their own family history.

Syd Lieberman Storyteller

Syd Lieberman Storyteller

Syd Lieberman – a world-renowned storyteller (and typical father) – told us of his wonderful daughter – and slouch of a son. He walked us through heartfelt stories of both relationships and how each grew over time.  These stories will forever be remembered by that audience. (more…)

A day just for me: South Davis Family History Fair

Monday, March 5th, 2012

A day just for me: South Davis Family History Fair

Normally, I am officially representing World Vital Records and MyHeritage at many events, as part of a team, and staffing a booth. This past weekend, however, I was able to attend the South Davis Utah Family History Fair as just a conference-goer.

While it is always an adventure to go to a show with a team and a display booth, attending as an individual – simply to learn – is a renewing experience. We don’t always have time to attend interesting sessions when we attend events as an official team!

Here are some of my day’s highlights:

The keynote by Karen Clifford (“Uniting Generations: The Changing Face of Family History Research”) demonstrated how time has changed everything from FamilySearch to the way we search, how we share genealogy and collaborate. The great talk stressed that as the modern world continues to make massive and fast improvements in technology, we need to not only keep researching but also to share and collaborate, nicely, online so that the most recent advancements are used to our advantage.

She discussed her son who decided to research his father’s line despite the work going back many generations and the work already “being complete.” As a professor and genealogist, Karen told him “good luck” and hoped he’d find something to do.

In reality, her son found 52 mistakes in the line – some included incorrect LDS ordinance submissions – sealing the wrong husband and wife and other errors. Because he went back and investigated from the beginning, he was able to find new sources of information that were not available 15 years ago. Advances in genealogy proved to be a great asset. (more…)

Recap of the St. George Family History Expo

Friday, March 2nd, 2012
St. George Family History Expo MyHeritage Booth

St. George Family History Expo MyHeritage Booth

The MyHeritage booth at the St. George (Utah) Family History Expo was a huge success. We heard many fascinating stories and met many amazing people during the two-day event. Some people were just starting out, although others had been researching for more than 20 years and just needed a little help.

Many attendees were eager to sign up to family-friendly MyHeritage because of its ability to help them share information with their relatives near and far – that’s what MyHeritage is all about! We are thankful to the people we met and helped.

At the event, Mark Olsen presented to classrooms of genealogists who were eager to learn more about MyHeritage and other social tools. He spoke about ways to use new technology to connect with relatives around the world and preserve family history.

Social technology is a hot topic in genealogy with many books written about these cutting-edge tools. The presentation on Hangouts attracted a full room of conference goers.

Relaying family moments captured and shared across the globe brought tears to the eyes of several attendees. There was a tangible excitement as Mark showed how online free social technology can be used to strengthen family bonds and further research. (more…)

DNA: History revealed via technology

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

By Schelly Talalay Dardashti – US Genealogy Advisor

Genetic genealogy is perhaps the most exciting new tool for family history research.  It can prove or disprove family relationships, determine a time frame when two people shared a common ancestor, provide genetic matches and clues to ancestral origins.

While paper records may be inaccurate through accident or purpose – throughout history – blood doesn’t lie. If two men match genetically, they are related, and what needs to then be determined is when their most recent common ancestor (MRCA) lived.

Genetic genealogy technology can:

  • Provide information when there is no paper trail.
  • Confirm or disprove a relationship or story.
  • Cut across history/geography lines.
  • Results may point to better traditional methodology/resources by pinpointing geography or other details

What is important, however, is to understand how this new industry came about, and what it can and cannot do. was founded by CEO/founder Bennett Greenspan in Houston, Texas in April 2000. He had discovered two branches of his mother’s family, one known in the US, the other a possible relation in Argentina. While he suspected the connection – because of the rare name – there was no paper trail of documents for the Argentine family. He convinced Dr. Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona to conduct a pilot project,

Bennett’s group included sets of identical twins; his own father, brother and sons, Bennett’s son, and other individuals, as well as males from those two branches of his mother’s family. As he suspected, the Y-DNA tests of the two branches matched, as did those of the identical twins with each other, and those of his father, brother and the next generation (albeit with small natural mutations). (more…)

In praise of baby-steppers

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

I work at MyHeritage, so you might think I’d be a dedicated, relentless genealogist who spends many hours each month on my own family’s roots. My long-standing commitment is more than casual, and I expect to enjoy RootsTech this week as much as last year. However, my life and my chosen pursuits never seem to allow much time or energy for my own research. I know many people, even in my own neighborhood, who work much harder and accomplish far more.

I still like to think there’s room for me and others like me in the vast, welcoming community of genealogists. More importantly, I think I’m justified in feeling I’ve accomplished something worthwhile, even when it’s not very much.

So, as a tribute to those who enjoy genealogy but advance only in occasional baby steps, let me share what I’ve accomplished in January 2012. For some researchers it might be only an afternoon’s work, but by my standards it was a productive and satisfying month.

First, I found a photo of my maternal grandmother, c. 1918. It hadn’t been missing for generations, only for 18 months, since my family moved across town. But I had missed it. It was in the last box to be unpacked. I scanned it for later use and posted a low-resolution version on Facebook. (more…)

FamCam Available as iPhone Application: Share Photos Easily with Your Family

Friday, April 24th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.

On April 21, 2009, Inc. released its first iPhone application, FamCam. FamCam is free and available for download and allows you to share photos with your family simply and easily. One of the benefits of using FamCam is that your family can get immediate pictures of your daily adventures, and the things you want to photograph, straight from your iPhone.

Additional FamCam features allow you to:

* Set up and manage groups of family members.

* Take a photo or choose one from your library

* Send your photo and a note to one or more family groups.

Download FamCam for free and share photos with your whole Family!

FamCam is compatible with iPhone. The application requires iPhone OS 2.1.

New Genealogical Publishing Company Content From Kentucky and Ohio

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

This week’s major collection at includes new databases from
Genealogical Publishing Company. The databases include content from Kentucky and

Kentucky Marriages, 1797-1865
(online 4/13/2009)
This is a valuable compilation of abstracts of marriage notices. Listed chronologically,
each entry gives the name of the bride and groom and the marriage date, and many
include the place of residence and parents’ names. The source of the information
is provided for each entry. About 8,000 names of brides and grooms are in the index.

National Society, Colonial Daughters of the Seventeenth Century, Inc.: Lineage Book,
(online 4/10/2009)

National Society, Colonial Daughters of the Seventeenth Century: Lineage Book, 1896-1999

(online 4/9/2009)

Membership in the National Society, Colonial Daughters of the
17th Century is based upon descent from 17th-century ancestors who imperiled their
lives and interests in various colonial wars from May 1607 to December 1699, and
rendered other distinguished services. Between its establishment in 1896 and the
year 1999, the Society published eleven lineage books of its membership.

The 1989 and 1999 Lineage Books are similar in arrangement, but their contents differ
owing to the passage of time. Both volumes are divided into two parts: (1) A list
of living members and their qualifying ancestors, followed by (2) Brief sketches
of the roughly 2,500 17th-century ancestors, with the names of living members of
the organization, if any, descended from them. Society members are identified by
city and state of residence at the time of publication. Information provided in
the ancestor sketches include one or more dates, something about the individual’s
military or other service, and town and colony inhabited. The contents of the two
books differ, of course, owing to the discovery of new ancestors, and because of
the deaths of some members and the enrollment of new ones over the decade in question.
Both books also feature historical essays about the organization and its founders,
the Society’s full-color insignia, lists of officers, and more. The 1999 book also
concludes with a glossary of terms found in the text.

If you have been stymied in your effort to trace your ancestry back to the 17th
century, this excellent two-volume set holds out a splendid new opportunity to do

“Second Census” of Kentucky 1800
(online 4/14/2009) Free
for Ten Days!

This “second census” of Kentucky is an alphabetical list of 32,000 taxpayers and
is based on original tax lists on file in the Kentucky Historical Society. Information
given includes the county of residence and the date of the tax list in which the
individual is listed. The genealogist finding a name of interest can then refer
to the tax list (all are on microfilm), where he or she will find such information
as the amount of land owned and its location, the number of individuals in various
categories attached to the household, and other background information.

Ohio Valley Genealogies
(online 4/15/2009)

The following databases from the Dundurn Group containing Canadian content were
launched this week, but are not included in the Major Collection:

“What wakes you up at night?”

Monday, April 6th, 2009

At the recent Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University March 13-14 in Provo, Utah, keynote speaker Susan Easton Black posed the question “What wakes you up in the night?”

For Black, a world-renowned author of over 100 books on genealogy and history, she is “up at night” with genealogy. After telling the audience she finds “great joy” in doing genealogy every day, she remarked to the at-capacity crowd, “It’s obvious I’m not alone!”

At we know there are many people just like Black who find joy in searching for their ancestors and are “up at night” about genealogy and family history. And they are not alone. We are also “up at night” working with content partners from all over the world to digitize and index genealogical and historical data. Each day we add new content at to help you in your quest. (We will soon open up our new genealogy portal site called GenSeek to provide access to millions of genealogical references from the Family History Catalog.)

We searched for some of our colleagues whom we know are “up in the night” over genealogy and found a few short vignettes we thought genealogy lovers would enjoy. Click on their story links to read and hear.

Many genealogy enthusiasts are familiar with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, a popular writer and speaker on genealogy. According to her Web site, she is an “incurable genealogist” and “does all she can to get the g-word out there and inspire others in their quest for roots.” She tells of a memory from when she was five years old that kept her searching for over 22 years for her ancestors.

Devoted genealogists for over a quarter century, Leland and Patty Meitzler have many tales to tell. Leland gives a good example of why genealogists should check every possible source they can for information about their ancestors.

Since 2003, one of the largest oral history projects in the world, has collected over 35,000 stories from individuals who have shared their stories. We picked out a story of a mother and a son talking about their struggles as migrant workers.

Family Treasures

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.

I have kept many of the gifts my grandparents have given me. For example, my paternal grandma loves antiques and has collected many roomfuls of treasures. Occasionally when I go over to visit her, she will let me go through her antique jewelry and pick something out. I treasure these valuables because my grandma gave them to me. I also have many treasures from my Grammie (my mom’s mom). She has written me many beautiful, heartfelt letters. She has also sewn my name on towels, crocheted dish towels for me, and has given me the recipes for many of my favorite foods and desserts that she makes. When I look at the jewelry, or the towels, or even read through some of the letters I remember some of the memories I have shared with my grandmothers.

I think I am not unique in having sentiments in this area. For example here are a few excerpts, in their own words, from others who shared their thoughts on owning simple treasures from their loved ones:

When my grandfather passed away I told my mother I wanted just one treasure from my grandparents’ estate: the Toas-Tite sandwich maker. I’m sure I was the only grandchild to make this request. Out of the chaos of sorting through half a century of my grandparents’ belongings, my mother eventually unearthed my inheritance. On that day I became a rich man.  Almost sixteen inches long, with a round four-and-three-quarter-inch sandwich holder at the end, this kitchen collectible was the well-spring of hundreds of perfectly circular grilled cheese sandwiches made by my grandmother in her Cedar Rapids, Iowa, home. Manufactured sometime in the 1940s by Bar-B-Bun, Inc., of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Toas-Tite has two black wooden handles held together with a metal loop on the end to keep them closed and, well, tight. The face of an almost hysterically smiling woman adorned the cover of the manufacturer’s original box. Next to the happy chef was the sales pitch: “Make a luscious sealed in hot drip prof (sic) toasted sandwich.” Prof, stood for “proof” I imagine, and “hot drips” meant lots of saturated fat. The beauty behind Toas-Tite’s unique design was the ability to make grilled cheese sandwiches, toast, and hamburgers over an outdoor campfire or, in my case, over a gas flame in Grandmother’s kitchen. …No, the treasures my grandparents passed on to me are more valuable than shares of stock and acres of land. For how do you inventory gardens, food, family, and the love of simple pleasures? Inheriting these qualities will take the rest of my life and there is no guarantee that I will succeed. No wonder that the first time I used the Toas-Tite I burned the grilled cheese sandwiches. Just as I feared — it’s not easy as it looks. – Stephen Lyons,

What do I really treasure? Many people often paid my grandparents with silver dollars. You don’t see that any more, it’s too inconvenient to carry those big pieces of metal now. Of course you didn’t need to carry near as many of them in those days. Silver dollars are a special memory to me for another reason: they were grandma and grandpa’s savings. They put aside the silver dollars that came into the shop to purchase special things. They also used these silver dollars to give to their grandchildren on their birthdays. I still have a couple of those old silver dollars they gave me. No, they are not collector’s pieces, they are not worth a whole lot more than a dollar to anyone else, but to me they hold memories and are priceless. –

What heirlooms or family treasures have value in your life? Preserving these treasures can help you remember your loved ones and the times you shared with them. If you have heirlooms or special family treasures from one of your loved ones whom you never met, try learning more about them on, a treasure-trove of information.

How to Browse by Country and State at

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

For those of you who know where your ancestors were born, where they died, or even where they traveled, try using the browse by country and state features at Currently at, you can search data from 39 countries to find information about your ancestors.

To access the Browse By Country feature:

1. Go to

2. Click on Places

3. Click on the name of the country with data you wish to browse.

Click on the database you wish to view, or type in the information you know (such as given name, places where the individual lived, year, family name, keyword, or matching type: exact, soundex or double metaphone) about the name of the individual you are seeking and click “Search.”

To access the Browse by U.S. State feature:

1. Go to

2. Click on Places

3. Click on the name of the state with data you wish to browse.

4. Click on the database you wish to view, or type in the information you know (such as given name, places where the individual lived, year, family name, keyword, or matching type: exact, soundex or double metaphone) about the name of the individual you are seeking and click “Search