Archive for the ‘Success Story’ Category

The Sides We Don’t See (or Commit a Small Act of Family History this Season)

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

The holiday season provides excellent opportunities to commit small acts of family history. With just a little effort, we can learn new things about people in our family trees.

People we know, even family members with whom we’ve lived, have sides we may not see or consider. These are facets of their personalities or experience which enrich our sense of who they are or were, if we can discover them through some act of family history.

Consider, for example, my first grade teacher, Miss Keller. (The name is changed to protect her, in case she’s more innocent than we thought at the time.) Miss Keller was mean. She yelled at us. She punished the whole class for the minor offenses of one or two students, which is as quick a way to pique a child’s sense of injustice as any. She also taught us to count in German.


What’s in a Name?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013
people in the our tree

The people in the our tree

I have been trying to think of how best to get my children excited about genealogy for a while now. I long assumed they were much too young, and I would worry about it when they were older. Teenagers, maybe? I have since realized they are more than ready now.

I first realized it two years ago, when my three year old brought home a family tree he had made in preschool. It started with him and included me, my husband, his brother and “the baby.” At the time, I was pregnant but hadn’t announced it outside the family. The family tree project forced an announcement, since the preschool teacher was also my next-door neighbor.

This week I decided to make another family tree with my boys. To make it more interesting, we would mostly focus on my sons’ namesakes. My older son, now seven, is named after his father and grandfather. My five year old is named for two of his great-grandfathers.

My goal is to help my boys understand why their names are special. I want them to know something about the men they are named after and take a little pride in their names. My older son doesn’t like to be called by his given name. He even gets angry, when we remind him that his real name is Nathan, not Trey. This is a bit of a sore spot for him and his grandfather. Maybe making our tree will help that situation too.

Sometimes You Succeed (or Finding My Brothers’ Graves)

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

My four siblings and I were born in Boulder, Colorado, back in a previous century. My older brother, Alan, died the day he was born. Do the math; I never met him. One of my younger brothers, Douglas, died three days after he was born, but I never met him, either. My older sister recalls seeing him and attending the small funeral. One of the ironies of life in the modern world is that both died of complications of an Rh-factor problem. Less than two decades later, this problem was quite manageable and reliably survivable.

My only related memory is of visiting my brothers’ graves at a small cemetery near the Boulder airport. I remember cards in plastic, marking the graves until gravestones would be installed.

We left Boulder for southeastern Idaho when I was ten. I was the first to return, and that was more that 30 years later. My parents’ recollection was that they never bought gravestones. There has been talk for some years of needing to go back to Boulder and take care of that.

My family and I were vacationing in the Denver and Colorado Springs areas several years ago, and we decided to spend a day in Boulder. I took them on a short tour of landmarks, including the home where I spent my first decade; the nearby park through which I was not supposed to walk on my way home from school, but often did; and my first elementary school, now renamed. I took some photos, then managed to lose the memory card containing them before returning home.

We went to one — or maybe it’s a hundred — of Boulder’s main attractions, the Pearl Street pedestrian mall. I left the family there and went to find the nearest cemetery to the airport, according to an online map. It was as I remembered it, including the airport’s landing pattern. My mission was to get information which would help us finally to place gravestones at my brothers’ graves and, if possible, to find the graves themselves.

The missing link: Finding an enumeration district

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The missing link: Finding an enumeration district

As a genealogist, I’m excited about the release of the 1940 census. Not only will it be online but – better yet – it will be available directly from and on the very day that NARA releases the census to the public.

It is essential for researchers to know their enumeration districts (EDs) to ensure their early success on April 2nd. The last thing you want to do is call Grandma to help you find the location you should be searching instead of actually spending time in the census images.

I thought I was going to easily find my grandmother’s ED. Wow – was I wrong! Here’s my story and I hope it will provide some tips for you.

First, I called my family and asked for the city and state where my grandmother lived in 1940. The answer wasn’t immediately given, but within a day, we had an exact address: 217½ Clubhouse Avenue, Venice, California.

I went to the NARA ED finder site and to and expected a very fast ED response. However, I ran into a problem on both sites, as there was no city of Venice.  I was perplexed – Venice is a rather well known place southwest of Los Angeles, so I thought it must have been a case where the county – in 1940 – is no longer the county today.

After some research, I thought it could be under San Joaquin County – and tried that on the ED calculator, with no luck. I talked to some friends and some experienced genealogy buffs, but found no answer.  I was not overly concerned because I did find a range of EDs where it could be listed under the “other” field and typing in Venice.  I had a list of 10 or so possible EDs.  This would limit my image search but would still require a lot of work.

Hoping for better results I tried again a few days later – still no Venice.  I had read the early history of Venice up to and beyond 1940 on Wikipedia. Despite much information, there was nothing to help determine the ED.  I decided to read more slowly and look for something.

Here is what I found – and was surprised to find. (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…)

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…)

What’s in a Name?

Friday, January 30th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.

Last night one of my friends had her eighth child (Yes, here in Utah, there are lots of BIG families)! No name had been previously selected for this new 7 pound 3 ounce baby, and as I am writing no name has been selected. However, the seven siblings and proud father have put forth many suggestions for a name. Unfortunately, none have quite fit. So, what’s in a name? Many people select a name for their children based on the etymology and history of the name. For example, the name “Melissa” means “bee” in Greek. This was the name of a nymph that cared for young Zeus in Greek mythology. It is also the name of the fairy who helps Rogero escape from the witch Alcina in Ludovico Ariosto’s poem Orlando Furioso (1516). As an English given name, Melissa has been used since the 18th century. The name “Whitney,” my name, comes from a surname which was originally derived from a place name meaning “white island” in Old English. (I was not named based on the etymology of my name!).

For those of you who are interested in knowing the meaning of your name, or for those of you who want to know the meaning of a possible name for your child, check out This site provides the meaning and history of names from many languages and genres including English, Spanish, French, Arabic, , German, Indian, African, Italian, Irish, mythological, biblical, and more.

What does a name mean when you are searching for your ancestors? There are more than 1.6 million surnames in the United States. To add a little more confusion to the mix, the surname of your ancestor may have several variations. Some of your ancestors may have been known simply by their last name, or they may not have even known how to spell their name correctly!  Plus, believe it or not, surnames didn’t actually exist until about 1,000 years ago. Back then, there weren’t as many people, and first and last names were just not necessary.

In searching for your ancestors, pay attention to naming patterns and situations where the name of the family member has been repeated. For example, your great, great, great grandfather could have been named Samuel, and your great, great grandfather could also have been given the name of Samuel.

An additional help source comes from In this article the author describes a common naming pattern prior to the 20th century.

1st son– father’s father
2nd son– mother’s father
3rd son– father
4th son– father’s oldest brother
5th son– father’s second oldest brother or mother’s oldest brother
1st daughter– mother’s mother
2nd daughter– father’s mother
3rd daughter– mother
4th daughter– mother’s oldest sister
5th daughter– mother’s second oldest sister or father’s oldest sister

Try to discover how your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents received their names. If you have children, take the time to write down the reason you chose the name of your child, and the meaning of the name.

Australian Police Gazettes Used To Find Information On “Lost” Ancestors

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The following is a success story from a subscriber:

I just had to email you and say what a great resource you are providing. My subscription is one of the best genealogy resources I have encountered in the many years I have been researching. I have been able to find what happened to several ‘lost’ ancestors, thanks to the Australian Police Gazettes.

For example, one fellow I discovered was lost in a boating mishap. Since his body was never found, there is no death certificate for him. Also the boating accident happened in a different state to where he was last known to have lived. The police gazette reporting the accident is the only source I have found so far that tells what happened to him. Now that we know where to look, we are following up with local newspapers for a report.

Another fellow simply disappeared shortly after the death of his wife in childbirth leaving six young children to be raised by other family members. We could never understand what had happened until I found a report in the Police gazette stating a warrant had been issued for his arrest for embezzlement, and he was thought to have left the town and gone to the gold diggings at Temora. Although I haven’t confirmed his death after this, I am one step closer to matching him with a fellow of the same name who died after a drinking spree in a town not far from Temora a few weeks later. Few details are given on his death certificate but his age and name match my fellow. Knowing he was reported to be in the vicinity at the time certainly helps narrow down the search.

These are my two major finds, but I have found other little gems that have really added flesh to the skeletons in the cupboard. The physical descriptions that are given are an added bonus. I have recommended your website to several fellow researchers as I really think it is great value for money. It is wonderful to find some of the lost family.

Thank you so much, and I do hope you will be including the gazettes from 1900 onwards.

Jenny [Brisbane]

General Information About Police Gazettes

Police Gazettes are a unique, useful and extremely fascinating resource for local, family and social historians and researchers in other fields throughout Australia. Compiled to be distributed amongst the Police Force only, these Gazettes therefore contain details and information that can not be found anywhere else

They include court lists, lists of warrants issued, appointments and changes in the Police Service, lists of Justices of the Peace, lists of arrests and discharges (which include descriptions), escaped prisoners, and missing persons, as well as lists for liquor, wine sellers, tobacco sellers, auctioneers, billiard and poisons licenses. Notices from Police Gazettes from other states are also often included.
Click here for general description and more information on Police Gazettes

MarketingSherpa Names Paul Allen 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

PROVO, UT, June 11, 2008 MarketingSherpa, the leading publisher of marketing case studies, recently named Paul Allen, CEO,, Inc., 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year for the online subscription industry.

“MarketingSherpa’s Entrepreneur of the Year recognition calls out a member of the online subscription industry that we believe can be an inspiration to other marketers by demonstrating that you don’t have to be a huge brand name or have endless supplies of money to market yourself,” said Eric Stockton, President of MarketingSherpa.

This is the eighth year that MarketingSherpa has awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year at its Selling Online Subscriptions Summit which is held annually in New York City. More than 200 top executives of the paid online content and subscriber services industries attended this year’s Summit in May.

“I am honored to have been selected for this award. I have been relying on MarketingSherpa case studies and summits for years,” said Paul Allen, CEO,, Inc. “They have been my favorite single source for Internet marketing know-how since I discovered them in 2001.”

The award is presented each year to an individual who has had great success leading an online company without major corporate backing. Past winners include companies such as and

“We chose Paul Allen this year because of the rapid growth he’s been able to achieve with, and the way his team uses a combination of tried-and-true subscription marketing efforts and emerging tactics, such as developing a Facebook application that’s been downloaded by 3.5 million people,” Stockton said. “He’s also passionate about his business – online genealogy – and about the online subscription business model, and about the potential of Web 2.0 technologies as a significant opportunity for subscription marketers.”

Allen has founded several companies, including in 1997 and in 1998. He also founded 10X Marketing in 2002 and FundingUniverse in 2004. His latest venture is, Inc, a family of services that includes,, and We’re Related on Facebook., Inc. was founded in 2006 and currently has more than 30 employees dedicated to creating and implementing innovative tools to connect families. The company’s subscriber base has grown as a result of its aggressive affiliate marketing program and its co-marketing deals with partners. Since the company was founded in 2006, more than 35 different companies and organizations from across the world have partnered with, Inc. Allen credits his employees and the company’s partners for’s growth.

“Each company milestone we’ve reached happened because of a collaboration with our partners,” Allen said.

Media Contact
Whitney Ransom
Corporate Communications Director, Inc.

About Marketing Sherpa
MarketingSherpa is a research firm publishing practical case studies and benchmark guides for its community of marketers and thousands of weekly case study readers. Topics covered include practical how-to and exclusive data and proven tactics in business-to-business marketing, ecommerce marketing, email marketing, search marketing, telemarketing, media relations, landing page design, marketing measurement and online subscription marketing. The firm also operates six annual Summits attended by thousands of marketers. MarketingSherpa, along with MarketingExperiments and InTouch, is part of the MECLABS Group.

About, Inc., Inc. is a family of services that includes,, and the We’re Related application on Facebook. The focus of the company is to provide innovative tools to connect families., Inc. has more than 1.9 million unique global visitors each month and 17.5 million impressions per month. Founded in 2006 by Paul Allen and several key members of the original team, provides affordable access to genealogy databases and family history tools. More than 30,000 individuals have subscribed to With more than a billion records and 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 its partners include Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, Archive CD Books Australia, Gould Genealogy, Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Archive CD Books Canada, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., SmallTownPapers®, Accessible Archives, Genealogical Publishing Company, Find My Past, Godfrey Memorial Library, Find A Grave, and FamilySearch. Investors include vSpring Capital and several angel investors.

Success Story: SmallTownPapers Collection Adds Details To the Lives of Individuals

Friday, April 4th, 2008

The following excerpt was submitted by a member:

I love the newspapers database. Doing research for someone else’s family often makes it difficult to add real life to the otherwise boring vital details of birth, marriage and death. But finding articles in those SmallTownPapers® can really bring them to life.

Besides the obvious value of finding obituaries, how else would I have known that Uncle Gene broke his nose at a baseball game in high school, or that he had to miss the big town picnic because he came down with mumps right in the middle of hay season (and all along he thought his neck was stiff because he took a nap on a board)!

By using the SmallTownPapers collection, I am able to put “meat on the bones” so to speak, of families that are completely unknown to me. -Tami Glatz