Friday, October 19, 2007

Family Genie 2.0 Released

There is good news for family history researchers today. Mario at Carpe Geekum has released a new version of the Family Genie tool bar that even further enhances its ability to help us find family history information on the web.

Mario has written Family Genie out of the goodness of his heart to help the family history community. He is asking users for a small donation to help pay his bandwidth and storage costs.

Here's the announcement:

I am excited to announce the release of Family Genie 2.0. There have been a few new sites added but the biggest change is in the underlying structure to make it compatible with Vista's Internet Explorer 7 as well as Firefox 2.0.

You can download the latest version at:

As always it is completely Adware and Spyware free. Let me know if you have any questions at

Blatent attempt to raise support funds below:

As you may already know, Family Genie is supported solely on donations from its users. At this point we have thousands of users and have only had $35 dollars donated to support its development. If you feel so inclined please make a donation at to keep Family Genie alive.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Story Pages

I've talked about adding color to personal histories and family stories in earlier posts. Recently, I created a Story Page on Footnote about one of my ancestors, Susanna North Martin, who was hung as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

The court documents related to her trial and eventual execution for the mythical crime are full of her own words. They also include both the imagined and false statements of her accusers and the unimaginable mindset of the local government at that time. Reading them gives us a unique insight into the social conditions that existed in Salem, Massachusetts over 300 years ago.

My wife and I have visited the spot where grandma, along with a number of other innocents,
was hung. From our current day perspective, I was both saddened and angered as we walked around gallows hill thinking of that sad event.

However, without the accusations, subsequent trial and hanging, grandma Martin's record would consist of little more than a name and associated dates and places in my database. Her story would have no 'flesh' on it... No 'color'.

Have you been able to add 'color' to the life stories of your own ancestors? Start with those closest to you and then work back in time. The key to success is to 'just do something' or as the old Nike' ad said, "Just Do It!"

Begin at the beginning by writing your own life history. Then add photos, documents and related memorabilia associated with 'your' story. Next, write the stories of your parents lives. Remember to include some of those old family favorite stories that you heard while growing up. Add photos and other pieces of 'color' to bring your stories to life.

When we read grandma Martin's Story Page on Footnote ... complete with the transcripts associated with her arrest, trial and conviction, ... it helps us understand her 'world' and society. The old stories become fact in our minds as we view the original pages and handwriting. 'Color' fills in between the rows of facts and engages our mind and imagination.

Her tale of legal woe begins with an arrest warrant. It lists her crime, accusers and officers of the court. Click here to read it.

Her story does have a semi-happy ending though. Grandma was pardoned by the legislature of the State of Massachusetts on 31 Oct 2001 .... 309 years after she was hung for being a 'witch'.
Susanna Martin - Arrest Warrant - Accused of being a Witch - 1692 Salem, MA

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Books, Burials and Places

The anniversary of the involvement of the United States in World War II will soon be upon us. Most of us have parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and other family members who served in the military during that war and other wars and military actions. Almost all of them qualified to be buried in military cemeteries. Have you searched for information about them in the related cemetery records?

It is easy to do. Just look at the Department of Veteran Affairs,
National Gravesite Locator site and create a search for them. I've found many records for my own extended family on the site. The records often provide information that I haven't found elsewhere. Additionally, the site is updated within a month or two of a burial, so if you've lost an extended family member and know they or their spouse was buried in a veterans cemetery, search for them today.

If you haven't looked at the Northeast and Southeast genealogy sites in your quest yet, take a look. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the number of relevant research links you'll find on the sites. Just click on the state of interest and then click on the county(ies) you want to search to see the related links.

The 1914-1927 Georgia Death Certificates were added as yet another free resource to the LDS FamilySearch Labs site today. To login, simply enter your e-mail address and you'll be taken to the full list of free resources.

I have ancestors who migrated to Australia from England. You may also have family members who live there or passed through on their way to New Zealand and other points in the southern hemisphere. If so, go to the Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters site and see if you can find their passenger records. My family members were listed. How did you do in your search?

A few months ago, was launched as a free site that allows uses to post their ancestry and hopefully find others who have common ancestry. I haven't used the site other than to look at its design. It may be yet another tool in your research quiver.

Are you constantly searching for U.S. locations? If so, you'll want to visit and bookmark the Place Names site. Here's how the site describes itself, "A gazetteer to find countries, cities, towns, villages, mountains, hills, rivers, lakes, islands and other geographic and administrative place names with their location, latitude, longitude and elevation."
And finally, if you are interested in the family history related publications that are released daily, be sure to visit the Genealogy Librarian News blog. It is constantly updated with new release information and who knows ... the new release may be the exact record you have been seeking for years.

Does that sound too good to be true? Well, it isn't a false statement. Several years ago, I visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and found a new book containing the burial records of the Burnt Church Cemetery in Walworth, Wisconsin that had been put on the shelves for the first time that morning. When I opened the book, there they were.... the burial records for my 3rd and 4th great grandmothers and a great-grand uncle.

I had looked for them for 25 years and never thought I'd ever find any clues to help break down that particular ancestral brick wall. The wall came down, at least for one generation and I now hove clues to help me in my quest to find the rest of the family 'across the pond'. Miracles happen in family history research if you work hard enough. Expect them to happen in your own hard won ancestral quest.