Honoring Our Ancestors Newsletter
October 15, 2007
By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
This issue is a little longer than usual because it's been a busy month in genealogy-land! But I did manage to finally find the time to play catch-up with my grants, as you'll see toward the end of this newsletter (my apologies to anyone out there who's been patiently waiting). Here's wishing you an October (Family History Month, of course!) full of discoveries!
In this newsletter. . .
That does it! I'm moving to England! Multiple genealogy TV shows and now BBC is even getting in on the publishing act! Check out this article about their Who Do You Think You Are? magazine that's to be a companion to the on-going series.
When will American networks, cable outlets and publishers wake up to our numbers?? If there can be multiple shows on tattoo artists, truck drivers, and fishermen of all types, where are the TV series for what's purported to be the second most popular hobby in the country?
Truthfully speaking, the lack of such programming is largely what motivated those of us who launched Roots Television, but I'm more than a little surprised that we're still the only ones -- in the U.S., at any rate.
Wonder who she is/was . . .
Click here to see what I mean.
I'd like to try to find her or what's become of her, but the only clues given are dates. Not enough to go on. *sigh*
Wow! When I read this, I thought I might be dreaming! Something on the order of 24 million Cook County, Illinois records will go online around next January. Included will be:
Read more here: Old county records being put online (free registration required)
I'm loving this! States like Arizona, Missouri and West Virginia have put some vital records online. A healthy chunk of Ohio records are available through the Family Search beta site, while Footnote.com is adding records from Texas. And plenty of indexes are available at Ancestry.com. All I've got to say is keep it coming!
And by the way, if it's too difficult to keep up on everything, just be sure to bookmark Joe Beine's deathindexes.com.
Now that's the kind of headline I like to see! The ratings for BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are? actually went up from previous seasons. And the show is beating the likes of Hell's Kitchen. In fact, the ratings were about 67% higher than those of this popular cooking show, which came in a distant second. Not too shabby, eh?
If you want your roots searched in-depth for free, just be famous! Check out this multi-part article on Barack Obama's family history, including an interactive family tree, plenty of photos, unexpected connections and the like. This link will take you to the introductory article, but be sure to click around the "photo gallery" and "related stories" section. Earlier this year, I traced his Kearney branch to Moneygall, Ireland, but that's just the tip of this genealogical iceberg!
I'm trying to figure out some "trouble maker" (actual or otherwise) in my family who might have generated an FBI file, just so I can try out this new site.
Sorenson Genomics Quintuples Lab Capacity
Wow! I recently received my first digital copy of Ancestry Magazine, and I have to say that it's pretty slick!
I have a regular column called "Found" that features assorted orphan heirlooms tales (about the detective work done to reunite stray family heirlooms with their family of origin), so to give you a taste, here's the link to that article in this issue.
I'm still happy to get my hard copy of the magazine because it has some content not included in the digital version, and of course, it travels easily and is also easier to curl up with than a laptop. But still, this new digital version is -- well, fun to play with. Try it!
This is the comment that caught my eye:
If you read the article (and BTW, there's a 3.5 hour video too, if you have the time to spare), you'll see that it appears they're going to focus on SNPs initially. I think that's probably good news since most genetic genealogy companies are more focused on STRs, so the new company's offerings may provide a nice complement to what's already available.
Regardless of your perspective, with companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe entering the space, these are definitely interesting days for those of us who like to play with our DNA!
Turns out some folks associated with the popular British series, Who Do You Think You Are?, are poking around a house in Massachusetts for a possible future episode. Wonder if there's a famous Brit with a Yank hiding in his or her family tree? Any theories from anyone familiar with this historic house?
Was greatly amused by this article about skeletons in the closet:
According to the statistics at the end, I have a rare scandal in my own family tree. One of my great-grandfathers was both a murderer and bigamist -- both weighing in at only 2%. Wonder what these figures would be on this side of the pond?
If you're the kind who enjoys a good spoof, check out the "sockumentary," The Socks to America. It tells the dramatic and inspiring saga of the Sockish people in the classic, Ken Burns style. Perfect timing, since his latest venture -- The War (all about WWII) -- is coming out later this month. If you've got three minutes to spare and are in the mood for a good laugh, check it out.
I watched the Emmys last month and was delighted to see elements of the past and the future of genealogy.
The past was represented by the 30th anniversary tribute to Roots, a catalyst event that triggered the interest of many involved in genealogy today. It also reminded me how fortunate we at Roots Television were to welcome Chris Haley (Alex Haley's nephew) to FGS this year (for video, click here).
The future? Well, if you watched, you saw Al Gore accept the first-ever Emmy for "Interactive Television Services" for Current TV. I predicted a few years ago that this category would enter the Emmys, and it's nice to see it finally coming to pass. Perhaps next year, there will be several Emmys of this type, a few more the year after that -- and so on, until it becomes unnecessary to break such awards out separately since conventional and online television will have merged.
So what does this have to do with genealogy? Roots Television. Roots Television is our Current TV. Relatively few communities already have a dedicated online network of free programming available 24/7, but we as genealogists already do.
As one of the co-founders, I have to say it's been an odd ride -- partly because many we've dealt with haven't recognized the coming blending of regular TV and Internet-based TV. And because we've been pioneers, we've had to figure out just about everything from scratch.
So it's been challenging, but well worth it. We've only ventured out to a few conferences so far (Who Do You Think You Are Live!, FGS and the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree), but when we have, the reception has been overwhelming. Folks tell us that they'll sit and watch hours of our programming, instructors tell us that they advise their students to watch our How To channel, conference planners tell us that they watch our Conference channel to pick speakers for their events, kids and teachers alike tell us that they love watching Flat Stanley do his roots on the Roots Kids channel, and viewers tell us that they're delighted with our selection for the winner of our first viewer-submitted contest conducted through the RootsTube channel.
All that enthusiasm and last night's first-ever award tell me we're on the right path to be a part of genealogy's future. If you haven't checked out Roots Television yet, please do -- and invite your friends!
As Leland Meitzler and Chris Dunham (The Genealogue) -- not to mention Joy Rich -- have already reported, a huge portion of the online New York Times archives (the most recent 20 years, plus 1851-1923) will now be available for free! I went and checked it out, and sure enough, here's a rather gruesome article about an immigrant great-great-grandfather of mine from 1871:
Let's hope that this is the beginning of a trend and that other newspapers follow this example!
Microsoft Home Magazine has an article about putting your family history online:
The piece includes a few predictions of mine about what's to come in the wonderful world of genealogy. Enjoy!
Both The Genealogue and Genetic Genealogist have already blogged this, but I just have to jump in here and say what a cool story this is. Those who are familiar with mtDNA know that it's used on a regular basis to tackle history mysteries -- the Romanovs, the Titanic baby, unidentified soldiers, and so forth.
And the Washington Post had a great tale involving a 150+ year old tomb accidentally uncovered and the detective work done to identify the teenager found in the coffin.
The article tells of the false starts (research-wise) and final resolution, although my one concern is that it never addresses the limitations of mtDNA as an identification tool. Since the Smithsonian Institute is involved, I would assume that they took every precaution before reaching this conclusion, but just for my own sake of curiosity, I wish they had delved a little more deeply into the specifics of the DNA testing involved. And I think it would have been kind of the writer to give a shout-out to the anonymous genealogist who helped the researchers get back on the right path. Regardless, it's a great genealogical romp and you'll enjoy reading out it!
You've earned it. Take a four-and-a-half minute break and watch this video for a song called Family Tree. He had me at "DNA, chromosomes . . ."
It's hard for me to blog every time I'd like, so every once in a while, I like to provide a collection of links to articles or sites that have caught my attention recently. Here's the latest batch. Happy browsing!
It's not too soon to start getting ready for next year's FGS!
Here's an idea that was new to me:
I'm not going to comment on this because everyone and his brother already has, but it's still intriguing:
I'd like to see lots more DNA projects like this to explore suspected links across national boundaries:
Several times over the course of the last year, I've had cause to research African-American families from Culpeper, Virginia, so this article caught my eye. Be sure to check out the slide show:
Here's a great article about how DNA is used to explore your roots, and I'm delighted to see that it centers on Georgia Bopp, who was one of the early adapters and is well known and respected in the genetic genealogy world:
BBC: Genetic Genealogy - What Can It Offer?
Congrats to our recent grant recipients! Don't forget that you can apply (and view summaries of several years' worth of monthly awardees -- just use the drop-down menu) here.
If you plan to be near any of the events where I'll be speaking, I would love to meet you. It's always a kick for me when folks mention that they read this newsletter, my blog, Ancestry Daily News or whatever, so don't be shy about introducing yourself!
Please forward this newsletter to your family and friends who are interested in genealogy -- thank you!
Wishing you an abundance of genealogical serendipity!
Note: You are receiving this because you have demonstrated an interest (e.g., you have a story in one of my books, applied for a grant, attended previous events, etc.) or subscribed via my website, but please let me know if you do not want to receive any further emails, and I will promptly remove you from my list. And rest assured, this is my personal list and not shared with anyone else! Thanks, Megan