28    Sep 20080 comments

Recording your data: Charts and templates

Now that you've started researching your family history, have you wondered about the most efficient way to record all this wonderful information?

Of course, you are entering names and data into your MyHeritage.com online Family Tree Builder software. But you would like other helpful information to assist in recording family information.

If you don't want to scribble down information while visiting a cemetery, there are cemetery transcription forms. While working with censuses, transcribe the information onto a blank form for the correct year (questions asked vary by year). Keep track of your research so you won't find yourself duplicating work in the future. There's even a research log, which will help to remind you what questions you need to answer and what sources might hold the required information.

There are several useful sites which offer free downloadable templates and blank genealogy charts, research logs and other very useful documents, and even that research question sheet, like this:

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Some are available as PDF files or as Word documents; some are free in one format with a minimal charge for another.

These charts are useful for projects by researchers of all ages, from children to professional genealogists.

Here are some possibilities.


This site offers 20 different kinds, including three, four, and six-generation family trees, trees with and without graphics, trees with room for photos, traditional trees and ones suitable for kids. Download and print for free in PDF form (requires free downloadable Adobe Readert) or a for-fee ($4 each) fully editable MS Word.doc version.


This site offers three free family tree charts, such as traditional family tree charts, fan and pedigree charts. The forms require the free Adobe Reader to open and use. It also offers free interactive census forms, free genealogy forms such as pedigree charts and family group sheets, a genealogy relationship calculator chart and more.


The US television program site offers free PDF format charts for pedigree, family group record, research questions, research log, source notes, record selection guide, an instructional video index.

If you need large family charts for family celebrations or reunions, for use indoors and out, try Heartland Family Graphics.

Their offerings range from wall-size charts (up to 37 feet long), specialty papers, vinyl banners for outdoor use and acid-free paper for archival preservation. Check the site for prices.

Family Tree Magazine

The magazine also offers free forms and charts. traditional forms plus those for note-taking, cemetery transcription and others.

Another option for printing large charts

I frequently prepare large family charts for gifts and family celebrations. I take the family tree on a flash drive or CD to an engineering blueprint office. The charts are enlarged and printed on heavy-duty long-lasting blueprint paper (there are several types). The cost is reasonable and the waiting time only a few minutes to a few hours, depending on how many other projects are in line.

An additional advantage is that the shop's owners, staff - even other customers waiting to pick up orders for architects and engineers - become interested in what I'm doing when they see the results. They ask questions on how to get started on their own family histories. Family history is so much more interesting than construction plans!

Have you downloaded free charts? Which ones have been the most useful? Have these forms helped you organize your research? I'd like to hear from readers.

24    Sep 20086 comments

Historic newspapers provide help to researchers

Family history researchers know that old newspapers are treasure troves of family information. If your family lived for a long time in one location, then local papers likely hold information about your relatives.

Examples of such details can range from birth, marriage and death records. \if your ancestors owned businesses, there may be legal records or advertisements in the pages of the paper. Additional information may include real estate records, school data and the cost of consumer goods.

In the San Francisco Call of December 10, 1905, a large display ad for Dragers department store, at Market and Jones, indicated they were selling cushion covers, Christmas post cards, slippers, gift handkerchiefs, toys, holiday silverware, gift glassware and even groceries (Kona coffee, 19 cents/pound, maple syrup, 63 cents/half-gallon, the best sweet Washington navel oranges, 30 cents/dozen).

For $15, a stylish woman could purchase a suit described as: "Coat 32 inches long; strictly tailor-made; collar, cuffs and pocket trimmed with velvet and braid, buttons to match; loose back; lined with satin; plaited skirt; blue, red, green and plum; sizes 12 to 40. This is the suit at left; the other was $18.50.

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Consumer goods are only one area of life detailed in historic newspapers. Current events and major historic events are of great interest.

Let's look at the same paper dated May 10, 1906, a few weeks after the major San Francisco earthquake:

Page 1: City bank vaults withstood the quake. The Fireman's Fund Insurance Company discovered that the vault containing all its insurance business records was destroyed when a huge steel girder fell and broke off a corner of the vault, allowing fire to get in and destroy records (policies, maps, etc.).

Page 2: Fire was the principal cause of city damage; no properly constructed building was damaged more than 10%; buildings erected on stable ground prior to the earthquake of 1868 had no evidence of damage.

Page 3: The extraordinary work of the Signal Service Corps who began fixing communication lines immediately after the quake. More than 1,000 individuals and companies paid to rent steel boxes in the bank safe deposit vaults. Provision trains are plundered by organized gangs; there is looting.

Page 4: Professor John Milne, described as the inventor of the seisometer, is spotlighted. The article described a special interview with him on the Isle of Wight, how the machine works and that the tinkling of the machine's bell woke him up and he knew about the earthquake in California hours before the London papers learned about it. Genealogists looking for death certificates will note that the city's mortuary clerk will enforce burial laws, requiring burial certificates be made out on the proper form.

And talk about rumors ... The first report received in Panama on April 18 by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company manager R. P. Schwerin, said that there had been an earthquake and tidal wave and that 5,000 lives were lost.

A later cable however said that San Francisco was destroyed by earthquake; 200,000 lives lost; business portion of city swept by tidal wave and remainder of residence part being destroyed by flames; Chicago in ashes; New Orleans has disappeared beneath the waters of the Mississippi River.

There are columns of the missing, meeting notices of organizations asking members to send in change of addresses. Ads for furniture, rooms/houses for sale or rent, the repairing of gas lines, columns of ads detailing the new temporary offices of many businesses.

Digitizing programs for historic newspapers are underway. Such sites as GenealogyBank.com, and the Library of Congress are helping researchers learn more about our ancestors' lives.

For information on digitzing programs in general, click here. For information on the Library of Congress effort, click here.

Google has also just announced its plans to begin digitizing millions of pages of old newspaper archives and placing searchable images of dozens of newspapers online for free, the same way it has done with Google Books. This is what a page will look like:

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In addition to the New York Times and the Washington Post, other papers include the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "the first newspaper West of the Alleghenies; and the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, published continuously for 244 years - the oldest paper in North America.

Have you accessed historic newspapers in your research? What details have you located about your ancestors? I look forward to reading about your discoveries.

23    Sep 20080 comments

Kindo and MyHeritage join forces!

What could be better than making it easy and fun for people around the world to stay connected, organize events, share memories and strengthen family ties?

The acquisition by MyHeritage of Kindo aims to do just that, in an announcement made early Tuesday morning.

"Adding the Kindo team to MyHeritage puts the company in an even stronger position to realize its vision of connecting families around the world," says MyHeritage founder/CEO Gilad Japhet.

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MyHeritage.com has taken this important goal of connecting families a step further with today's announcement of its acquisition of Kindo, the UK-based social networking site. It will help MyHeritage - with 25 million international members - realize its vision to be Facebook for families.

MyHeritage's powerful technology which helps people research and connect - along with Smart Matching and automatic photo aging - will be combined with Kindo's social networking skills

Both sites have a common vision for the future of families online.

Combining MyHeritage - known for powerful technology that helps families research their history and stay connected, along with Smart Matching and automatic photo tagging - with Kindo's social networking and marketing expertise is a recipe for success.

Find a video introducing the new photo tagging features here.

Become part of the excitement and get started today on connecting your family branches.

I'm looking forward to reading your comments and answering your questions about these new developments.

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