• Are You Missing the Best Genealogy Websites for Finding U.S. Ancestors?

    David Rumsey
    Historical MapsWe published our annual list
    of 75 top US state genealogy websites in the December
    2016 Family Tree Magazine (you can see
    the list right here).
    These state-focused genealogy websites stand out for their digitized historical records,
    searchable indexes to vital and other records, and how-to advice.
    But our list is just a starting point. There are many more state-focused genealogy
    websites to mine as you research American ancestors. Nonprofit and government sites
  • What Gift Would You Buy Your Ancestor On Black Friday?

    Today's prompt for Family
    Tree Magazine's 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge is:
    In honor of Black Friday, review resources like the Sears
    Catalog and “buy” three Christmas presents for an ancestor. Why did you choose
    them?I'm going to cheat and skip the Sears
    Wish Book and choose one gift, because it's allowed and because I know EXACTLY
    what I want to buy an ancestor—my grandfather—for Christmas.
    A pig.
    Library of CongressTo be more specific, a sow.
    If you want to k
  • Sharing is Caring When It Comes to Family Photos

    This week's post is from Vanessa Wieland,
    online editor for Family Tree University, with gratitude and credit to Sandra Mingua
    Stephens for the photos and the inspiration.
    A week or so ago my mother’s friend, Sandy, posted some pictures on Facebook.
    The first was of she and my mom and some other kids, arms flung around each other
    on a sidewalk. The image is quintessential 50s, but while the cars and the clothes
    have changed, the neighborhood - not so much. 
    The second image she shared
  • FamilySearch Announces Property Brothers to Keynote 2017 RootsTech Conference

    Madge Maril, associate editor of Family Tree Magazine, here with some exciting news: If you’re a fan of HGTV’s Property Brothers, you’ll be happy to hear that FamilySearch announced today that the two brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott, will keynote the 2017 RootsTech conference.RootsTech is the largest genealogy conferences in the world, aptly held in Salt Lake
    City, Utah. Organized by FamilySearch, RootsTech is sponsored by Ancestry, Find My
    Past, MyHeritage and other beloved
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  • 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge: Day 15

    November rolls on! We’re at the halfway point of our 30-Day Family History Writing
    Challenge, and guest editor Andrew Koch shares his response to today’s prompt in this
    guest post:
    "Pick an ancestor from the 1800s, drop him into today, and (as your ancestor) write
    a letter to family members still in the 1800s. How would he describe today? What surprises
    him? What questions would he have?"
    In this letter, my third great-grandfather, a 25-year-old clothing repairman named
    Henry Winter
  • Free Online Access To Genealogy Websites for Veteran's Day

    In honor of Veteran’s day, some genealogy websites grantfree access to online military records as well as other genealogy resources.Image via Library
    of CongressThis year you can browse Findmypast's military category free in honor of Veteran’s
    day. Their collection of more than 70 million military records will be available starting
    04:00 EST November 10th and ending 18:59 GMT November 13th.
    The category on Findmypast is called “Military,
    Armed Forces and Conflict,” and in
  • New! in Genetic Genealogy: MyHeritage DNA Autosomal Testing

    MyHeritage today debuts MyHeritage DNA,
    an international, mass-market, home-testing autosomal DNA kit it says "is simple,
    affordable and will offer some of the best ethnicity reports in the world."
    The $79 (plus shipping) kit includes a cheek swab to collect cells from the inside
    of your cheek. Testers mail the sample to the MyHeritage lab (located in the United
    States) for analysis, wait three to four weeks, and view results on the MyHeritage
    This post includes a few screenshots of wha
  • 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge: Day 6

    We're six days into the NaNoWriMo-inspired 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge. 
    Today's post is from guest editor, Vanessa Wieland, who writes in response to this
    Select your favorite family photo, and write about the moments just before and/or
    after the photo was taken. Why was it taken? Was your ancestor happy to be in it?
    This is a portrait of my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Samuels. The occasion
    of this photo is presumably a happy one. According to the note on the bac
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  • Were Six Days Into The NaNoWriMoinspired 30Day Family History Writing Challengenbsp Todays Post Is From Guest Edit

    We're six days into the NaNoWriMo-inspired 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge. 
    Today's post is from guest editor, Vanessa Wieland, who writes in response to this
    Select your favorite family photo, and write about the moments just before and/or
    after the photo was taken. Why was it taken? Was your ancestor happy to be in it?
    This is a portrait of my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Samuels. The occasion
    of this photo is presumably a happy one. According to the note on the bac
  • 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge: Day 1

    Inspired by November's National Writing Month (known as NaNoWriMo online), the editors of Family Tree are kicking off the 30-Day Family History Writing Challenge.
    Each day in November, we'll share a writing prompt on the front page of FamilyTreeMagazine.com
    that will help you use your research in a new, creative way. We will also post the
    prompt on this
    page. Spend as much or as little time on each prompt as you can—after all, it's
    your family's story! You can also follow along on Facebook
  • How to Learn What Your Ancestor's Life Was Really Like

    Genealogists are increasingly interested in knowing not just their
    ancestors' names and important dates, but also what they did every
    day, where they went and what they saw. What their lives were really like. 
    This will do (at least) two things for you:It'll improve your research by helping you form theories about your ancestors' lives
    and figure out where to look for records. For example, learning about the history
    of German immigrants to your family's American hometown might help you see
  • Nine Kinds of Ancestor Death Records You Should Look For

    Genealogists start with death—meaning that we generally
    research ancestors from their deaths and moving back in time. But
    death-record searches can be challenging for several reasons,
    including when relatives died before statewide vital record-keeping or their
    names were recorded oddly.
    If you can't find a death certificate for a relative, look for other death records
    for the time and place he died. If you've found one death record, look for others.
    Different types of records might have di
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  • 9 Things You Can Learn About Your Ancestors From the Cemetery

    Changing scenery and pleasant temperatures make Fall an especially
    good time to visit cemeteries (alongside a genealogy buddy for fun
    and safety). Seeing the gravestone and viewing records in the
    cemetery office may yield ancestry information you won't find in an
    online database of burials—although online databases are very
    helpful, too.
    The latest
    issue of Family Tree Magazine, October/November 2016, has our Genealogy
    Workbook on cemetery research. You'll also find essential guidance in F
  • 3 Ways to Use GEDmatch in Your DNA Research

    spent money on a DNA test for yourself and possibly one or more relatives, but what
    do you do with those results once you've got them? How can you wring every bit of
    knowledge out of those results and get the most for your money?
    Third-party tools (many of which are free) give genealogists more ways of exploring
    and analyzing their DNA test results. DNA expert and author of The
    Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy Blaine Bettinger shares
    three ways you can analyze
  • Simple Steps to Solve Your Genealogy Research Problems

    A cousin I met online (one who attended my grandparents’ wedding as a child!) asked
    me to look at a research problem on a line we don’t share.
    Her great-aunt Elizabeth Schalk was born April 4, 1893, married Wesley Thomas in 1910,
    and became a widow two years later. Then she disappeared.
    Was Elizabeth “lost” under a second husband’s surname? That’s not an uncommon situation
    with female relatives. In a similar scenario, you might know an ancestor by a spouse's
  • Quick Tip: Sifting Through DNA Matches

    you’ve taken an autosomal DNA test at 23andMe, AncestryDNA,
    or Family Tree DNA, you likely have a long
    list of genetic cousins. After sequencing portions of your DNA, the testing company
    compares your results to the results of other test-takers in its database. If you
    share enough DNA with another test-taker in the database, you’ll see that person in
    your list of matches.
    The company evaluates how close you might be to another test-taker based on the amount
    of shared DNA. See the
  • How to Handle Surprises in Your DNA

    testing is a powerful new tool for genealogists. And just like any other genealogical
    record, it's capable of revealing secrets.
    For example, the results of a DNA test can reveal relationships that were either long-forgotten,
    or were long-held family secrets. Knowing this, what should you do when you discover
    a secret in your family?
    Genetic genealogy expert and author of the new book The
    Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy Blaine Bettinger shares
    some tips for handling s
  • For Confucius and His Descendants, a Cultural Comeback

    A flashy show staged by a 77th-generation descendant underscores the enduring cachet of the ancient philosopher.
  • 3 Tips for Choosing a DNA Relative to Test

    Average Amount of Autosomal DNA Shared With Relatives
    Genetic genealogy, using DNA to study ethnicity and identify genetic cousins, is becoming
    an essential part of doing genealogy. If you’ve tested yourself and want to explore
    DNA tests for family, which relative should you ask to take a DNA test? Are some cousins
    or relatives better to test?
    Here are some tips from guest blogger and DNA expert Blaine T. Bettinger, author of
    the new book The
    Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic G
  • 9 Tips For a Terrific Fall 2016 Virtual Genealogy Conference

    Our Fall
    2016 Virtual Conference is coming right up Sept. 16-18, with online genealogy
    learning opportunities in video classes on genetic genealogy and DNA, using Ancestry.com,
    identifying old mystery photos and more; plus live chats; our exclusive conference
    message boards and more.
    Now, you can save $25 on Virtual Conference registration when you enter coupon
    code FTMSEPT25 at checkout. Register
    at FamilyTreeUniversity.com.
    Watch this quick video tour for an idea how the conference works, and
  • The Other Mother

    As a lesbian mom who did not carry my baby daughter, I forget that she and I don’t share blood: I’ll hear her raspy voice and think, “She inherited my mom’s man-voice!”
  • Five Genealogy DOs and one DON'T on Ancestry.com

    For folks who are newer or less-frequent users on Ancestry.com,
    we're sharing some genealogy DOs and a DON'T for searching for ancestors on the site.
    They come from Family
    Tree University's Master Ancestry.com Workshop next week, Aug. 15-18.
    Ancestry.com is a genealogy staple, but because it's so large and contains so much
    information, it's not always easy to find what you're looking for. As the site evolves,
    certain views and features change, too, which can add to your confusion. If you want
  • How to Mine Family Memories for Genealogy Clues

    family history begins with your own memories—and what you remember can serve as a
    useful springboard for learning more about your whole family's history, connecting
    you emotionally to past generations.
    Your memories also can provide critical research clues for genealogy research. When's
    the last time you mined your own memories for details you can use to research your
    family tree? Story
    of My Life author Sunny Morton is here with a guest post on three focuses
    for your dive into your
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Family Tree Craft

     Hi there!
    My name is Madge Maril and I’m working with Family Tree Magazine this summer. You
    might have seen my photo in September's issue of Family Tree Magazine. Working with
    FTM’s editorial team has been a blast. Today, they let me pop onto this blog to talk
    about two of my favorite things: DIY crafts and Harry Potter. "While
    Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son
    Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never
  • A Personal Sort of Time Travel: Ancestry Tourism

    As Americans age, many grow interested in tracing their family heritage and group traditions back to their origins.
  • To Write or Not to Write: Respecting Privacy in Family-History Storytelling

    When you start writing your life’s stories, you may wonder what to put in and what
    to leave out. Should you mention that time you got arrested, or when your best friend
    betrayed you? What about your difficult relationship with your dad? What if telling
    your stories will reveal someone else’s secrets?
    Writing your life story can raise questions about how to be fair and honest, and what
    stories of your life should keep private. Story
    of My Life workbook author
    and guest blogger S
  • Why Your Ancestry.com and Other Online Genealogy Searches Don't Work

    Chances are you've become frustrated at times when searching for ancestors online
    at genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage and FamilySearch.
    Knowing why genealogy searches sometimes fail can help you figure out how to fix them.
    Below is our cheat sheet of common issues that trip up your searches, plus tips to
    fix them.
    Get expert guidance on using Ancestry.com in our Become
    an Ancestry.com Power User online course, starting Monday, Aug. 1, at Family Tree
    University. This four-week co
  • 4 Ways to Jog Your Memories & Preserve Your History

    Struggling to remember part of your past? Check out these four quick ways to spark
    memories from guest blogger and author of the Story of My Life workbook, Sunny
    Jane Morton:
    Recording your own history can be a rewarding experience, both personally and for
    your genealogy research—you never know what clues you’ll recall! But it can be frustrating
    when you don’t remember certain things as clearly as you’d like. Below are four strategies
    to jog your memories. Use these to e
  • FamilySearch Power-User Tip: Find New & Updated Genealogy Collections

    Recently I followed our own advice (from the popular Unofficial
    Guide to FamilySearch book, and now our Become
    a FamilySearch.org Power User online course) to check for recently added or updated
    record collections at the free FamilySearch website. It's easy to do:1. On the FamilySearch home page, hover over Search and choose Records.
     2. On the Search page, choose Browse All Published Collections. (This link
    may appear below the gray box, depending how wide your browser window is.)3. Finall
  • 3 Tips for Preserving Childhood Memories

    Want to dig into your past? Guest blogger and author of the Story of My Life workbook
    Sunny Jane Morton shares three quick tips for recalling childhood memories:
    What do you remember from your childhood? If you’re like most people, the answer may
    be, “Not much.” The older you get, the more remote and vague your youngest years may
    seem. That can be so frustrating when you want to document your life story (and the
    first chapter is missing!) or bring to mind clues from your childh
  • MyHeritage News: Interactive Family Tree Maps & DNA Matching

    I wanted to update you all on a couple of cool updates to the MyHeritage genealogy
    website:First is something I've been wishing someone would come up with an easy way to do. PedigreeMap is
    a free tool that automatically generates an interactive world map that plots events
    in your MyHeritage family tree (such as births, marriages and deaths), as well as
    digitized images. You can see a screenshot above.
    This is a helpful way to get a big picture of where your family branches
    migrated over time, s
  • Fascinating Genealogy Finds in Online Newspapers

    Hi all, our Find
    Your Ancestors in Online Newspapers weeklong workshop starts July 11! You
    might know old newspapers are my favorite record type. To show you what kind of
    fascinating finds you might be missing out on if you're not using digitized
    online newspapers, here are a few of my recent newspaper discoveries (including on
    free websites):
    This profile of my husband's great-grandfather, then 87 years old (not the man pictured—that's
    the reporter), is in the Jan. 8, 1960, Buffalo Courie
  • Digital Public Library of America to Catalog FamilySearch Online Genealogy Books Collection

    The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and FamilySearch
    have signed an agreement that will make FamilySearch.org’s
    growing, free digital historical book collection accessible through the DPLA website.
    The DPLA website catalogs more than 13 million digital resources from libraries, archives
    and museums across America. You can keyword search the site's catalog listings (but
    not the digitized items themselves) for names, places, military regiments, employers,
    social clubs and other ter
  • Braving the Inbox: Five Steps for Organizing Your Email

    If you’re like many people, your email resembles Pandora’s box: full of unknown content
    that you might be afraid of opening. The scary part isn’t so much each individual
    message, but the unending stream of new content filling your inbox faster than you
    can deal with.
    While some productivity gurus preach the elusive concept of “inbox zero,” you actually
    have a few practical ways to better manage your inbox. Co-host of The Genealogy
    Guys podcast and author of Organiz
  • Three Ways to Get a Closer Look at Your Genealogy With Evernote

    Evernote isn't just a great tool for organizing
    your genealogy, it's also makes a good tool for analyzing the information you find.
    Kerry Scott, who wrote How
    to Use Evernote for Genealogy and who will be on hand to answer questions
    in next week's online Evernote
    for Genealogy Bootcamp, has a ton of ways you can use Evernote to take a closer
    look at your genealogy research. Here's a quick look at three of them:
    Create a table of contents: This is an easy way to see a list of certain notes
    at a g
  • A Little Girl Lost, Then Found More Than a Century Later

    Mystery surrounds the identity of a child whose coffin was unearthed by a construction crew at a home on property that once housed a cemetery in San Francisco.
  • 3 Pre-trip Steps for Making the Most of Your Research Trip

    Summer is the perfect time for taking road trips, including journeying to record repositories
    and libraries. Co-host of The Genealogy
    Guys podcast and author Drew Smith shares some thoughts about how to best
    plan for research trips.In a time when documents from all over the world are being digitized and made available
    to us in online databases, we might not spend much time thinking about the need to
    travel to physical repositories, near and far. Libraries, archives, courthouses, cemeteries
  • The Big Picture: Using Mind Mapping to Organize Research Ideas

    When the dreaded brick wall hits, genealogists often step back and collect their thoughts.
    A difficult problem may require a plan of attack, and you can create such a plan in
    a brainstorming session in which you generate as many ideas as possible. In this guest
    post, author and co-host of the Genealogy Guys podcast Drew
    Smith describes how to use one organization strategy, mind mapping, to brainstorm
    and arrange new research leads and tactics.
    While plain paper or a whiteboard can be useful too
  • 16 Things to Write Down About Yourself for Posterity

    Genealogists are often so busy trying to find and record all the details about our
    ancestors' lives, that we forget our own history will eventually become family
    We forget to preserve information about our own lives. Thus, in 100 or 200 years,
    our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews will be struggling to understand our
    lives and what we were really like.
    Of course, it's also often personally beneficial to reflect on your own life and experiences.
    In Story
    of My Life: A Workbook
  • Clinging to Our ‘Roots’

    Identifying with your cultural origins isn’t what it used to be.
  • 12 Free Websites to Search for & Honor Fallen Military Ancestors on Memorial Day

    “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance ...
    Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to
    the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost
    of a free and undivided republic.” 
    First Decoration Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, 1868.
    Library of Congress.These are the words of Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand
    Army of the Republic, who declared
    in 1868 that May 30 would be a day to decorate the graves of Civ
  • It Takes Two: The Research Benefits of a Two-Monitor System

    Handling all your data and research can be a struggle. In this guest post, author
    and co-host of the Genealogy Guys podcast Drew
    Smith explains why it’s important to have dual screens in your workspace to best keep
    your research organized.
    Before genealogists had the benefit of computers, they used a desktop or table to
    spread out their documents and notebooks. In the ideal workspace, they had plenty
    of room in which to make notes to themselves or fill out a handwritten pedigree chart
    or f
  • Little-Known Courthouse Records: My Ancestor's Mechanic's Lien

    Genealogists researching old court records generally expect to find
    records like deeds, probate files and trial proceedings. In our Courthouse
    Research Made Easy Family Tree University course (running May 23-June 27), you'll
    learn about these and other, lesser-known, ancestor records you can find at the courthouse.
    I was lucky to discover an interesting one by chance, and it told me a lot about a
    few days in the life of my third-great-grandfather Thomas Frost, a carpenter. Even
    luckier, the reco
  • Five Resources For Finding Early Immigrants to the US

    Looking for early immigrants to America, before passenger lists were required in 1820?
    Try these resources, which you'll learn more about in our online workshop How
    to Find Your Ancestry Before 1850, May 16-22:Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s: This index by P. William
    Filby and Mary K. Meyer compiles information from a variety of records. It's in print
    at many libraries and searchable on Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and
    through HeritageQuest Online (available
    at many libraries
  • Genealogy News From the NGS Conference in Florida!

    The National Genealogical Society's
    annual family history conference is happening now through May 7 in Fort Lauderdale,
    Fla. Here's a quickupdate with news from the conference:Dr. Connie Lester, associate
    professor at the University of Central Florida, gave the opening presentation
    this morning. Her focus is on folks almost all of us have in our family trees: ordinary,
    everyday farmers. The
    Ancestry Insider has a good overview of her talk and project to preserve the stories
    of Central Florida fa
  • Organized Genealogy Research: Matching Up Two Theresas

    My new favorite genealogy accomplishment is figuring out whether the  Theresa Seeger Kolbeck whose 1937 death announcement I found by chance in a newspaper
    index on the Kenton County Public Library website was the sister of my great-great-grandfather,
    German immigrant Heinrich Arnold ("H.A.") Seeger.
    All I had on H.A.'s sister was her baptismal record from Steinfeld, Germany, with
    her date of birth and parents' names.A
    little research into the local Theresa—actually Mary Theresa&mdash
  • What Happened to Worcester?

    A central Massachusetts city enabled the author’s ancestors to move into the good life of the middle class. That move is more complicated now.
  • Genealogy Roadshow Debuts May 17 (PLUS: Submit a Family Mystery for Next Season!)

    "Genealogy Roadshow" has
    released a preview of its new season, premiering Tuesday, May 17, 8 p.m. ET on PBS.
    Shows this season will take place in Boston, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles.
    If you haven't seen this series, it has professional genealogists D.
    Joshua Taylor, Kenyatta
    Berry and Mary
    Tedesco use research to solve family history mysteries for ordinary people. Often,
    the guests have done a little genealogy themselves and run across a family legend
    or difficult research problem.
    (PS: Josh
  • Georgetown Faces Its Role in the Slave Trade and the Task of Making Amends

    Tracing the sale of 272 slaves in 1838 by the university’s leaders yields a wrenching question: What is owed to the slaves’ descendants?
  • 272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants?

    In 1838, the Jesuit priests who ran the country’s top Catholic university needed money to keep it alive. Now comes the task of making amends.
06 Dec 2016
01 Dec 2016

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