Episode 11 Transcript

Welcome to the Genealogy News from Geneatopia

I’m Patty Roy, also known as Dinah Larkham in Second Life

Today is Tuesday, October 8, 2013 and this is Episode 11
October is Family History Month in the U.S. Many people will be celebrating by sharing what they know about their ancestors with family members and encouraging others to do family research. You’ll be seeing lots of advertising and special events during the month.

You can find some suggestions about what you can do to celebrate Family History month from Kimberly Powell at her genealogy site at About.com, more suggestions can be found at the Family Tree Magazine site, and some tips about getting started with genealogy and researching can be found at findmypast.com. There’ll be links in the show notes for where you can find this.

In celebration of family history month Legacy Tree Genealogy is having a sweepstakes. Legacy Tree Genealogy is a professional genealogy company located in Salt Lake City, close to the Family History Library. You can hire them to do research. Their sweepstakes is to win 20 hours of professional genealogy research, a $1,250 value. All you have to do is fill out a form at their web site and enter your name, address, email, and phone number. The winner will be chosen at random on or about November 4th, 2013. You have until October 31st to enter. One entry per person and the sweepstakes is only available to those in the U.S.


Now for some big news!
Ancestry.com has acquired the site Find A Grave. Find A Grave is a website where people contribute pictures of tombstones. In the last 18 years over 75 million photos have been added to the site. Those people then manage the listing they have submitted. Usually if a family member of the deceased contacts the contributor, the ownership of the listing may be pass over to the relative of the deceased.

Find A Grave relies on volunteers going to cemeteries and taking pictures to upload to the site.

At the site you can search by name or browse by cemetery.

Find A Grave will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com. The founder Jim Tipton, will continue to manage the site.

Ancestry says that the site will remain a free website and it will retain its existing policies and mode of operation. They also say they hope to accelerate development of the site.

Plans for the site include an app for volunteers to use to submit photos (the competition, BillionGraves already has this), improved customer support, better editing tools, and foreign-language support.

Many people are upset about the purchase. They are concerned Ancestry will now profit from their photos that they contributed to the site as volunteers. They are also concerned that the site will eventually be wrapped into an Ancestry subscription and will no longer be free. Right now Ancestry says these things will not happen.

If you would like to read more into this there will be links in the show notes to the press release, a lengthy response about the purchase from the founder of Find A Grave, Jim Tipton, and some information from Thomas MacEntee about the Find A Grave acquisition.


Ancestry has announced a Branch Out contest. To enter you fill out a form with your name and address and a brief story about your family history that is not more than 500 words. The story must be theme-related.

Winners will be chosen randomly. The first grand-prize winner will be announced November 5th 2013. Another winner will be selected in January and then in March, May, July, and September of 2014. That makes for 6 grand-prize winners.

The grand-prize consists of twenty hours of ProGenealogists research. ProGenealogists is owned by Ancestry and specializes in historical and genealogical research.

The prize also consists of a one year Ancestry.com World Explorer Plus membership, one Ancestry DNA kit, and one premium leather photo book from MyCanvas.com. MyCanvas is owned by Ancestry and it lets you upload photos to create books, calendars, and posters from your photos.

This contest is only available for those in the United States. There is a limit of one entry per person per email address. You can enter up until October 31st, 2013.


Another product from Ancestry is Family Tree Maker that was recently upgraded to version 2014 in the U.S. If you live in Canada you would purchase Family Tree Maker from Ancestry.ca. Now the only version that you can buy in Canada will be the downloaded version. You will no longer be able to purchase a CD and have it shipped to you. Those in the United States can purchase a download version or a CD version. The version of Family Tree Maker available in Canada is not the latest version which is the 2014 version. The version available in Canada is the 2012 version.


A recent episode of the Genealogy Roadshow was filmed in Detroit. In that episode a man, William Blackman wanted to know if his ancestor’s name was changed at Ellis Island. He wondered if his ancestor had the name of Blackman when he came through Ellis Island or was it a convenience name because they couldn’t pronounce the other name.

Josh Taylor investigated this story and he found Mr. Blackman’s ancestors came from what is today known as Latvia. He was able to trace Mr. Blackman’s ancestry to Abraham Blechman who came thru Ellis Island.

Many are very upset about what Josh Taylor said about Ellis Island. Here is what he said in the show:

“How did the name get from Blechmann to Blackman? This is something as a genealogist we get asked all the time. People say my name was changed at Ellis Island. That’s partially true. It wasn’t necessarily a case of you saying my name is Abraham Bleckmann, and you say OK your new name is John Smith. It didn’t exactly happen like that. When you arrived, you were basically taken to a room and they ask you what your name was. The person sitting behind the table might not speak German, might not speak Russian or Italian, or which ever country they’re dealing with ,I mean they are literally processing thousands of immigrants, they would spell the name how they heard it. So in this case we don’t know how Abraham pronounced his name, what we know is that the person who wrote down the name spelled with the B l e c h m a n n. “

End of quote from the show.

So the name was not changed at Ellis Island.

It seems to be a myth that people think names were changed at Ellis Island when the names were not changed there.

Usually an immigrant had papers with them that contained their name. And the ship’s passenger list would have the names of all those onboard. There were translators at Ellis Island who spoke many different languages in order to communicate with people coming from other countries. So the person sitting behind the desk probably didn’t write down the immigrants name as they heard it as Josh Taylor said. There has been outrage over these remarks on the show about Ellis Island.

Josh Taylor’s response to all this was:

I regret that in condensing the nearly hour long filming and multiple takes into a short three-minute segment, these specific details were not clearly represented. It certainly was not my intention to perpetuate the myth – quite the opposite in fact! Packaging the complicated world of genealogy as an entertainment product for the mass-market is not always as easy as we would like it to be, but we learn, make mistakes, and move forward.


Next big news item is a new name for brightsolid. This is the company that owns Genes Reunited, findmypast, The British Newspaper Archive, and ScotlandsPeople and some other sites. brightsolid divided into two divisions – birghtsolid online technology and the new name is for the other division brightsolid online publishing, The new name is DC Thomson Family History. Not too long ago brightsolid got a new CEO. She is reinforcing the family history aspect of the company with a new name that reflects that. This new name also aligns the company with its Dundee-based media company owner DC Thomson Group. The new name DC Thomson Family History represents the company focus is family history and its part of the DC Thomson Group.


GenealogyBank is expanding their existing Recent Newspaper Obituaries collection. They will be adding obituaries found in some newspapers from Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. You can find details on exactly what newspapers they will be adding at the GenealogyBank web site.

BillionGraves Android app version 2.3 is now available at the Google Play store. This new version is compatible with the latest devices and fixes some bugs that would cause the app to crash or freeze. If you’re interested in testing out future updates to this app you can join the BillionGraves Android Beta Testers group on Google+.

The October promotion is going on at BillionGraves. For this month the top 13 uploaders will win an Anker Astro Mini External battery and the transcribers will win a $25 Visa gift card. Second and third place winners will get their choice of a $15 iTunes or Google play gift card. And fourth place winners will have the choice of a $10 iTunes or Google play gift card.


The blog The Ancestor Hunt by Kenneth Marks is all about using newspapers for genealogy. He posts often, usually about state newspaper collections and he creates a video where he shows you how to use the sites he mentions in the blog. Well, last week he blogged about NewspaperCat. It’s a catalog of digital historical newspapers. It was developed from a grant from the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida that was created a couple of years ago.

This may not be news to you, but it’s news to me since I hadn’t heard of this before.

Thank you Kenneth. He also has a Flipboard magazine called Boost Your Genealogy Research with Newspapers where you can find all of his posts as well as posts from other blogs that mention newspapers.


RootsTech 2014 early bird registration is open. You can save $80 off the regular price for a full access conference pass. If you register by January 6th the price is $159, after that date the price will be $239. RootsTech 2014 will be held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, February 6th thru the 8th.


The FamilySearch wiki has reached a milestone by publishing the 75,000th article. The wiki is a place where anyone can add information to create an online place to find genealogy information. And it’s free for all of us to use. It’s not a place to find ancestors. It’s a place to find out how to research to find ancestors. The FamilySearch wiki started from the Family History Library’s Research Outlines. Outlines were created for different countries and contained information about researching in the area and how to find records pertaining to the area. In 2008 the outlines were added to the FamilySearch Wiki and in 2009 they were no longer published.


This week the FamilySearch Records update consists of records from England, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.

New indexes were created for
England, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers, 1603–1910

Hungary Catholic Church Records, 1636–1895

Mexico, Distrito Federal, Civil Registration, 1832–2005

Russia, Samara Church Books, 1869–1917

Ukraine, Kyiv Orthodox Consistory Church Book Duplicates, 1840–1845

U.S., Florida, Marriages, 1830–1993, for this collection an indexed was added and also images were added

U.S., Iowa, State Census, 1905

U.S., Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891–1943

U.S., Massachusetts, State Vital Records, 1841–1920

U.S., Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883–1945

New images were added for

Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg, Eberswalde, City Directories, 1890–1919

Netherlands, Limburg Province, Church Records, 1542–1910


RootsMagic now has an Android App in beta testing. They’ve had an iPhone/iPad app for a while. The Android app has the same functionality as the iPhone/iPad app.

You signup to be a beta tester by entering your email address, first name, and last name. After that you will receive an email to confirm you subscription to the Android list, and after that you will receive instructions on how to download the RootsMagic for Android app and how to send feedback.

You will get a link to an .apk, which is an android application package, that is used to distribute and install an app. You go to the link in a web browser on your phone or tablet to download the apk.

The directions say you will be asked to install the app but for me I had to find it in the download folder and install it from there.

For the beta you can only have your RootsMagic data in dropbox. You email your findings about the app to address mentioned in the directions for the beta testing.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies has a new course called Lecturing Skills Including Preparation. In this course students will learn skills needed for presenting genealogical-related lectures. Topics covered are writing a proposal and biographical sketch, marketing, creating syllabus material, and creating lecture slides. The student will give a 30-minute lecture to the class using the National Institute for Genealogical Studies’ Virtual Learning Room.

Courses at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies usually cost $89 and last from 6 to 12 weeks. The sessions for each course are offered multiple times during the year.

There is a Facebook group for scanning. This group meets virtually every Sunday at 4pm eastern for about an hour. It’s a support group so you have someone to talk to while you scan old photographs and documents. You can talk about how to scan and asks questions or you can talk about another topic. You can upload what you scan to the group if you like and you can post scanning questions to the group all week long.

Family Tree DNA has updated their web site. It has a new look and feel. If you have an account at Family Tree DNA you may want to login and go over some blog posts about the changes at the site. Debbie Parker Wayne explains where things are now located and over at haplogroup.org site there are some posts about finding information at the new site. Links will be in show notes to these posts.

There is a web site where volunteers are transcribing the 1921 Canadian census for Nova Scotia. It’s at dwaynemeisner.com and they are seeking more volunteers for this project. You will be looking at the images found on Ancestry. These are free if you are in Canada and if you are elsewhere you will need a subscription the Ancestry to see the images. You may also want to look at the 1911 census that has been transcribed at Automated Genealogy which is free and available to everyone. You may want to look at the previous census because the same people may have lived in the same place and it will help you with reading the handwriting in the 1921 census. You can send an email with what area you want to work on so there is no duplication of effort. The areas to choose from are listed on the web site along with the email address.

The new web site for the National Archives in the UK is starting to roll out live. It’s designed to be mobile friendly so you can easily use the site on your phone or tablet. You will also notice a simpler and clearer layout. It was designed within 5 months and it was in beta testing a little under two weeks. There will be more changes coming during the next year. Right now you will find a red button at the top of every page. This is the mega menu that lets you navigate the site easily.

TheGenealogist in the UK, which is a subscription site for accessing records, has announced the launch of early militia musters for England and Wales. The collection contains records of part-time soldiers from 1781 and 1782 who served in the militia. It has over 58,000 records. The records are from the National Archives (that would be the one in the UK) and feature the muster and pay lists of all members of the militias.

Origins.net is a subscription site for British and Irish genealogy records. They have announced that you can search the Devon Wills index for free. The index was created by Origins.net and the Devon Wills Project. The Devon Wills Project is a joint project involving the Devon Family History Society, the Devon Record Office, GENUKI/Devon, and the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office. Many probate records in Devon were destroyed in the blitz of World War II. The index is a finding aid that lets you determine what probate records were recorded and what documents have survived and where they can be located.

The magazine in the UK called Your Family Tree places a collection of useful information on their web site each month. You can find it under the download link. This month, October, they are featuring heraldic visitations, some case studies, organize your research, and some articles and surname indexes to the articles in previous issues of the magazine


There is a site called maxwellancestry which is run by Graham and Emma Maxwell. They began transcribing records of Scottish genealogy material and continue transcribing many records. You can purchase these transcriptions in book form and search the index to the transcriptions for free. The also sell consulting services and you can have family history book created.

They are constantly adding records. The latest collection consists of parish records from the Church of Scotland and other Presbyterian churches. These records are not part of the Church of Scotland Old Parish Registers (or OPRs) that are found on the Scotland’s People web site.


Over at RootsIrelend they’ve add even more records for the county of Monaghan. This includes more birth, marriage, and death records for that area. Right now you can get 40% off until Sunday October 13th. You will see the discount when you register or login. The discount will be applied when you view or buy records, not when you buy credits.


Did you ever wonder what kind of vehicle your ancestor drove? Well, if your ancestors lived in Ireland during 1911 or 1912 you may find them listed in a new resource found at the Lurgan Ancestry site. You will find the Irish Motor Directory 1911 – 1912 where you can find the names and addresses of registered vehicle owners and what type of vehicle they owned.


There is a new website in Australia called the Biographical Database of Australia. It contains over 500,00 records that were entered by volunteer genealogists, historians, and contractors. More will continue to be added in the future.

These first entries to the database came from manuscript records, such as convict, muster, census, baptism, marriage, and burial records. It also contains full text from biographies published from 1881 to 1907.

You can search the index which brings up a brief summary. To view the entire text you must subscribe for $25 per year (that’s Australian dollars). The Biographical Database of Australia is a not-for-profit organization so the subscription rate is to cover costs to run the database.


Also in Australia there is a new genealogy magazine called Family Tree Tracker that you should be able to find at a local newsagent in Australia. It’s a glossy magazine with lots of practical advice for beginners and experienced genealogists. It’s a one-time magazine and you cannot order it online.


Coming up

Webinar – Wisconsin State Genealogical Society
Tuesday October 15th at 8pm eastern
Finding Those Who Served:
Genealogy Resources at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum
Presented by: Russell Horton, Reference & Outreach Archivist, Wisconsin Veterans Museum & Archives

Ancestry Live Event – Finding Your Ancestors in the Census
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 1pm eastern

The next two webinars will be at the same time, that will be on Wednesday at 2pm on October 16th . Both should be recorded so you can view them later.

MyHeritage Webinar: Tips for Interviewing Family Relatives
presented by Laurence Harris, MyHeritage’s Head of Genealogy UK
Wednesday, October 16, 2pm eastern

Legacy Webinar – Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors with Newspapers
presented by Lisa Louise Cooke
Wednesday, October 16, 2pm eastern
Webinar – Southern California Genealogical Society
Wednesday, October 16, 9pm eastern
Effective Online Queries
presented by Drew Smith

Webinar – Utah Genealogical Association
Thursday, October 17, 9pm eastern
Zap the Grandma Gap: The 10 Best Ideas or Getting your Family Involved
presented by Janet Hovorka

Usually you can watch Mondays with Myrt every Monday except next Monday, the 14th of October, she will be traveling. She will resume the weekly Mondays with Myrt the following Monday which is the 21st. If you’ve missed any session you can watch them on the DearMyrtle YouTube channel

And that’s it for this week

If you use Flipboard on your phone or tablet, be sure to check out the Geneatopia magazine by searching for genealogy or Geneatopia in Flipboard.

You can send email to geneatopia@gmail.com

You can find links to things mentioned in this podcast in the show notes at Geneatopia.com. This is episode 11.
Thanks for listening


Listen to the episode.

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