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Five Free Massachusetts Databases to Jump Start Your Research

The "Discovering Your Massachusetts Ancestors" webinar in January provided Legacy webinar viewers with a broad overview of Massachusetts genealogy resources to help you with your New England research. The resources for online Massachusetts research are superb but there are some hidden databases that most people aren't familiar with. Here are five lesser known database that will jump start your research.

The Farber Gravestone Collection (American Antiquarian Society)

Looking for photographs of your ancestors' gravestones? Your first thought might be to check But there is another little-known gravestone database with superior quality photos from the American Antiquarian Society. These photographs were taken in the early 20th century and therefore the gravestones may be more readable than current gravestones photos. Search the database by town or your ancestor's name.

Obituary Index (Boston Public Library)

Twentieth-century records can be some of the hardest to locate but they can be crucial in helping you make a connection with difficult families. The Boston Public Library Obituary Index makes your search a little easier. The index covers the years 1953 - 2010 and extracts obituary information from both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. If you get a hit on a relative or ancestor you can contact the library staff to arrange for a copy of the full obituary.

Port of Boston Passenger Manifests (1848-1891) (Massachusetts State Archives)

If your immigrant ancestors landed in Massachusetts there's a good chance they may have come through the Port of Boston. To find out, search the Port of Boston Passenger Manifests at the Massachusetts State Archives website. This is only an index but you can view un-indexed images on by using the date of arrival.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (Boston Public Library)

One of the best kept online secrets in Massachusetts is the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. Maps from their extensive collection are available online for free. The maps cover a broad range of dates from earliest colonial times to the 21st century. The maps will help you see changing jurisdictions or give you a snapshot in time. The types of maps vary greatly so you will want to do some exploring. Search for maps by date, subject and location. You can even download a digital copy to your computer.

Panoramic Maps (1847-1929) (Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division)

Step into your ancestors' shoes and view the towns they lived in at the time they lived there. Panoramic maps from the Library of Congress give you a bird's eye view of your ancestor's home town. If you know which street your ancestors lived on you may even be able to pick out their house. Unfortunately no homeowner names are provided on the maps but they will give you a good feel for the area in which your ancestors lived. Search the database for keyword (try the name of the town) or drill down by geographic location. The maps include the entire United States not just Massachusetts.


Guest blogger, Marian Pierre-Louis, is a historical researcher who loves to share, encourage and inspire others on their genealogy research journey. You can see her upcoming webinars on Legacy Family Tree and read her blog, Marian's Roots and Rambles. She is the author of Discovering Your Massachusetts AncestorsBrick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents and Researching Your Connecticut Ancestors.

Name Your Own Price on Legacy add-ons GENViewer and GENMatcher - through February 23, 2012

GVL-2THere's a deal you don't find every day: name your own price on GENViewer and GENMatcher - two of Legacy Family Tree's add-ons. The publisher of these programs announced the special today to celebrate the 12th year of his company. He has graciously allowed us to offer the same deal. Here's the announcement and instructions:

To celebrate our 12th year of Mudcreek Software, GENViewer 1 and GENMatcher 1 will be retailed at the excellent price of whatever you want to pay through Thursday, February 23rd, 2012. I urge you to think about how much it is worth to you. Where else could you buy professional-quality software like this for less than 20 dollars?

GENViewer - adds more functionality, searching, and views of your Legacy family file.

Purchase Instructions

  1. Click here to add GENViewer to your shopping cart.
  2. Enter your purchase price in the Each field (normally $19.95).
  3. Click on the blue Recalculate button.
  4. Click on the yellow Proceed to Checkout button and place your order.

Or click here to first learn more about GENViewer.

Genmatcher-thumbGENMatcher - quickly compares your Legacy family file to other genealogy files for possible matches.

Purchase Instructions

  1. Click here to add GENMatcher to your shopping cart.
  2. Enter your purchase price in the Each field (normally $19.95).
  3. Click on the blue Recalculate button.
  4. Click on the yellow Proceed to Checkout button and place your order.

Or click here to first learn more about GENMatcher.

Watch a brief video about GENViewer

I just found this brief video about using the FileSearch feature in GENViewer - one of its best features.

FamilySearch Adds Free Records from 21 Countries

Italy, Sweden, and U.S. Collections Enjoy the Largest Additions

FamilySearch added another 30 million new, free records online (16 million indexed names and 14 million browsable images). Totally new collections from Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Micronesia, Slovenia, and the United States can now be searched for free. Millions of new U.S. birth, marriage and death records, and over 9 million church records from Sweden were also added. Find your ancestors now at

Searchable records on are made possible by thousands of volunteers from around the world who transcribe (index) the information from handwritten records to make them easily searchable by computer. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the amount of digital images being published online at Learn more about how to personally help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records as an indexer at



Indexed Records


Australia, NSW and ACT, Masonic Lodge Registers, 1831-2004



New indexed records.

Bahamas, Civil Registration, 1850-1959



New browsable image collection.

Bolivia, Catholic Church Records, 1566-1996



New browsable image collection.

Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965



Added index records & added browsable images to existing collection.

Canada, Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923



New browsable image collection.

Canada, Quebec, Quebec Judicial District, Guardianships, 1639-1930



New browsable image collection.

Canada, Saskatchewan, Probate Estate Files, 1887-1931



New indexed records

Chile, Civil Registration, 1885-1903



New indexed records

Colombia, Catholic Church Records, 1600-2009



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Cote d'Ivoire, Census, 1975



New browsable image collection.

Dominican Republic, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1955



Added browsable images to existing collection.

El Salvador, Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977



Added browsable images to existing collection.

England, Derbyshire, Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1910



New Index collection

Germany, Brandenburg, Angermünde, Miscellaneous City Records 1706-1922



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Germany, Brandenburg, Heegermühle, Church Records, 1664-1824



New browsable image collection.

Germany, Saxony, Bautzen, Church Records, 1699-1915



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Germany, Saxony, Freiberg, Funeral Sermons, 1614-1661



New browsable image collection.

Germany, Württemberg, Schwäbisch Hall, Probate Records, 1803-1932



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Guatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Hungary Reformed Church Christenings, 1624-1895



Added index records to existing collection.

Italy, Biella, Borriana, Catholic Church Records, 1740-1938



New browsable image collection.

Italy, L'Aquila, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1865



New browsable image collection.

Italy, Messina, Messina, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1939



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Italy, Treviso, Treviso, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1871-1941



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Mexico, Campeche, Civil Registration, 1860-1926



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Mexico, Coahuila, Civil Registration, 1861-1998



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Mexico, Guanajuato, Catholic Church Records, 1576-1984



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Mexico, Hidalgo, Civil Registration, 1861-1967



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Mexico, Oaxaca, Civil Registration, 1861-2002



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Mexico, Querétaro, Civil Registration, 1864-2005



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Mexico, Yucatán, Civil Registration. 1860-1926



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Micronesia, Pohnpei Civil Registration, 1948-2009



New browsable image collection.

Nicaragua, Civil Registration, 1809-2011



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Peru, Civil Registration, 1874-1996



Added indexed records

Portugal, Porto, Catholic Church Records, 1535-1949



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Portugal, Viana do Castelo, Catholic Church Records, 1537-1909



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Slovenia, Ljubljana, Funeral Accounts, 1937-1970



New browsable image collection.

Sweden, Kopparberg Church Records, 1604-1900; index 1628-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Kristianstad Church Records, 1585-1910; index 1646-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Kronoberg Church records to 1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Malmöhus Church Records, 1541-1918; index 1646-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Norrbotten Church Records, 1612-1923; index 1658-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Östergötland Church Records, 1555-1911; index 1616-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Södermanland Church Records, 1604-1900; index 1640-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Stockholm Church Records, 1556-1939, index 1634-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Uppsala Church Records, 1308-1901; index 1613-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Värmland Church Records, 1509-1925; index 1640-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Västerbotten Church Records, 1619-1896; index, 1688-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Västernorrland Church Records, 1501-1940; index 1650-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

Sweden, Västmanland Church Records, 1538-1901; index 1622-1860



Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Alabama, County Estate Records, 1800-1996



Added indexed records

U.S., Arkansas County Marriages, 1837-1957



Added indexed records and added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Arkansas, Death Index, 1914-1950



New index collection. Index courtesy of

U.S., Arkansas, Marriage Index, 1933-1939



New index collection. Index courtesy of

U.S., California, Great Registers, 1866-1910



New indexed collection

U.S., Delaware, Vital Record Index Cards, 1680-1934



New browsable image collection.

U.S., Delaware, Wilmington Vital Records, 1847-1954



Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950



New indexed records and images.

U.S., Florida, Marriage Index, 1822-1875 and 1927-2001



New Index collection. Index courtesy of

U.S., Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959 (Lake county)



New indexed records

U.S., Iowa, County Births, 1880-1935



Added index records to existing collection.

U.S., Michigan, County Marriages, 1820-1935



New indexed records

U.S., Minnesota, Marriage Index, 1958-2001



New Index collection. Index courtesy of

U.S., New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971



Added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663-1964



Added index records and browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Ohio, County Births, 1856-1909



Added index records and browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950



Added index records and browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905



Added index records and browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1943



New browsable images

U.S., Tennessee, State Marriage Index, 1780-2002



New Index collection. Index courtesy of

U.S., Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954



Added index records & added browsable images to existing collection.

U.S., Washington, King County Probate Records, 1854-1927



New browsable images.

U.S., West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971



Added index records to existing collection.

U.S., Wisconsin, Dane County Naturalization Records, 1887-1945



Added browsable images to existing collection.

United States, Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files



Added index records to existing collection. Images available at

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Legacy Family Tree on your phone or tablet

FamiliesipadiphoneWhile at the Legacy Family Tree booth at RootsTech last week, never before had so many people asked,

"Can Legacy run on my iPhone?"

"Can Legacy run on my Android?"

"Can Legacy run on my tablet?"

I was happy to be able to answer the question with,


Thanks to the Families app by TelGen Limited, you can sync your mobile device with your Legacy Family Tree family file. Yes - I said sync - meaning, not only can you view your information on your mobile device, but whatever you add to it can be synced back to your Legacy file on your computer. I've personally never done this - I just have it on my Android phone (Droid X) so I can view it - and all my pictures, To Do Lists, names, dates, and places - any time I want.

Click here to learn more or purchase Families.

Webinar on April 11, 2012

Malcolm Green, the developer of the app, will be presenting a webinar for us on Wednesday, April 11, 2012. He will be in London, England and you will be at your home computer watching. All you have to do is register (free) for the webinar by clicking here.

A little enthusiasm

One of our Legacy Family Tree users, Sandra Benward, recently wrote to me about her discovery of Families. With her permission, I've republished her email below, which she also published on her Root Cellar's blog:

I am so excited because I have found a way to use my NEW iPad and my Legacy Family Tree Software which is PC based together. They say it couldn't be done. I wanted the iPad for many reasons but one was to have my family tree available to me any time........ and I love Legacy Family Tree and didn't want to have to change to another genealogical software. AND I HAVE IT ALL NOW. Yes the little app called "families" sync's with my iPad/iPhone, my computer and my Legacy database. Oh my goodness, I now have Families on my iPhone and my iPad....... I can edit and add information -- it contains all my family information at my fingertips.

Originally I was looking ahead and wondering how I would handle my family database at Roots Tech Conference next week. But while looking through all the upcoming webinars on the Legacy Family Tree website I came across the webinar about "Genealogy on the Go"...... stopped to read the information and just got so excited. Can this be true? Will this solve my problem? Can this really be true? I am here to tell you it is true. I signed up for the webinar but I didn't want to wait till April so I downloaded the Families app and followed the directions.

I tested it out this past Wednesday when 40plus researchers took a bus ride to Sutro Library in San Francisco. I had both my iPad and iPhone with me armed and ready. IT WORKS!! I can be in the depths of the library looking over some microfilm/fische or documents and not have to go back to my chair and get my computer up and running, start my Legacy program and find the detail information I needed and then go back to the other room and resume again. It was right there at my fingertips...... I can hardly believe it, I am so excited about this for me and I could not wait to share it with you. Now I am really ready for Roots Tech, FGS, NGS and other conferences plus just every day time at the local archives.

Organizing and Sharing Your Digital Images

In just a couple of weeks now I will present "Organizing and Sharing Digital Images" to our webinar audience (register here). I'm looking forward to sharing some ideas that might resonate with some of you. Since I recognize that my ideas are not the only ones out there, I'd like to share with you some additional ideas that John Zimmerman, one of our Legacy users, shared with me recently about the subject (with his permission of course). Below John describes how he manages his digital image collections....

A few years ago I visited a wealthy friend and neighbor who had pursued his family history for many years. My friend had already published six large format, hardbound volumes of over 400 pages each, and was contemplating publishing 14 more volumes. He was in the habit of printing 100 copies of each volume, and had donated copies of the books to several libraries. He me the cost of printing the six volumes, and based on that I projected the cost of future printing to be in excess of $80,000.00! I remarked on that cost to my friend, and the fact that many libraries no longer had space to store paper copies of family histories. I suggested that publishing the same data on CD would reduce the "printing" cost to around $0.20 per disk and would provide the history in a format acceptable to any library, as well as allowing for inclusion of all six previous volumes on the CD. To my great surprise my friend suggested that I accept the job of making that CD a reality.

Though I was excited by the prospect of the job at hand, making good on my claims presented some daunting challenges. Not the least of those challenges involved organizing the multitude of paper photographs, negatives, pictures in books and digital images. I found that my friend had unpublished images and text spread among over a dozen large binders and in paper file folders. Also there were files on five different computers, two of which were original IBM PCs that were inoperative. Reactivating those two dead PCs required replacement of the chips containing the Basic Input-Output System (BIOS). Once I had rejuvenated the inoperable computers I had to recover text and images from obsolete software and consolidate everything on the two PCs that would provide a primary work environment, and a backup storage location. All of that was accomplished over the next few months and I moved on to designing a menu-driven user interface for the CD and a standardized presentation format that was workable across several operating systems, browsers and physical display formats.

Although I had known my friend and his family for many years, there were aspects of his life with which I was not familiar, and it would take me some time to become comfortable with the thousands of photos and documents I had to work with. My friend had kept a daily journal of at least 1500 words since the 1930s and integrating images with that huge volume of text was an additional challenge. I badly needed an organizational plan for text and image files, and I needed it immediately!

In choosing how best to organize the image files I considered what was important about any given image, and concluded that for a genealogist the most significant information was always the name of the person in the photo, or referred to in documents. I then considered how best to identify image files. I started by reviewing how we had identified and organized physical images in the past.

Typically physical photographs and documents are identified by viewing them directly, hopefully recognizing who or what was there. Notes might be written on, or filed with the item explaining the content. However, once more than a few photographs or documents were collected it was necessary to organize them in folders organized by subject or date, and filed in alphabetical, or chronological order. Alternatively items might be tagged with an artificial numbering scheme and filed numerically, which required that an external reference list be created cross referencing the numbers with information identifying the subject of each item in the file.

Then came computers, and although they allowed us to store and view huge numbers of digitized photographs and documents in a very small space, many people continued to use the same schemes they had used to organize paper files. That was due to two factors. One factor was that the old paper filing systems were familiar to most of us, and therefore we were comfortable with them. The other factor was that until 1995 file names on PCs were limited to eight characters. That limitation made it practically impossible to create unique, descriptive file names.

In August of 1995 Windows 95 introduced long file names. That allowed creation of file names of up to 255 characters (including the path to that filename), so most digital images could have file names describing exactly what the image contained. I decided that if I named each image file so that the content were obvious from the file name alone, then I could minimize the number of folders to somewhere between one and four by using the folder structure shown in Figure 1. Such descriptive naming would also allow me generally to exchange image files with others without accompanying explanatory text, with the exception of files that contained many people or objects that required detailed identification. Simplification of the folder structure allows for ease of moving those folders if required, and ease of placement of image files where multiple computers and drives are employed.


Figure 1 - Simplified Image Folder Structure

Files stored in the Pictures folder would include only photos of individuals. If a photo contained more than one person it would be filed in the Groups folder. The Docs folder was reserved for documents, and the Places folder was for images of both places and things.

Though the use of long file names was emancipating, I realized that the key to making a system work required that I develop, and follow, a naming standard. Because the CD would be based on the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) the file names I used could not include spaces, so I chose to connect components of those file names with the underscore (_) character. That character was one of those permitted to be used in HTML code and also provided for a visual separation of file name components. To help file names to stand out from within many lines of HTML code I decided to enter file name components in all uppercase, which also prevented any confusion between letters and numbers. At the time my HTML editor did not use color to distinguish items entered between quotation marks, so the uppercase entries worked well in making those entries stand out (Figure 2).


Figure 2 - HTML Example Showing Image File Name Entries


Since individuals are always central to genealogical records my naming standard would be based on names. File names for photos of individuals would begin with the subject's surname, followed by their given name, allowing file lists to be sorted on those names. Images of ladies would be named with their maiden surnames leading, followed by their given names then their married names (if known) enclosed in dashes (-) as a way of distinguishing those married names. Ladies who married more than once would have their married surnames entered in the order of those marriages (Figure 3).


Figure 3 - Example Of File Names For Individuals


Images of documents would lead with the surnames and given names of those to whom they pertained, followed by the type of document and they date of the document or event. That would group all the like documents together for an individual, and entering dates as YYYY_MMM_DD would group like documents for an individual in chronological order by year (Figure 4).


Figure 4 - Example Of Census Record File Names

Marriage record file names would lead with the name of the groom, followed by an ampersand (&), followed by the name of the bride, then the type of record, date of the marriage then place of the marriage. Transcribed records would have the abbreviation "TRANS" added at the end of the file name (Figure 5).


Figure 5 - Example Of Marriage Record File Names


File names for places and things was somewhat more problematic, as not every place or thing was associated with an individual, or even a family name. Therefore though surnames were included where appropriate (for example headstones), some file names of places simply began with the address they represented, or the structure they portrayed. Compromises were required occasionally. For example the image of a headstone for a lady seldom included her maiden name. Therefore those images were named using the surname on the marker and the lady's maiden name entered following her given names and enclosed in dashes (-) as used for married names in other circumstances (Figure 6).


Figure 6 - Example Of Place & Thing Names Showing Exception Marking For Headstones Of A Married Lady


Photos of groups of people have always posed a special challenge for genealogists. If there are only a few people in the photo, and if they all share a surname, then the file name can include all of them (Figure 7). Sometimes it is sufficient to name a group photo for the event it portrays, or simply for the family group shown, then add details of individual names using Summary Comments (for JPG or TIF files only) accessible under file Properties in Windows (Figure 8).


Figure 7 - Example Of A Simple Group Photo File Name 


Figure 8 - Example Of The Use Of Windows Image File Property Summary Comments

The challenge soon gets out of hand when the number of people exceeds what is reasonable to include in a file name, or where surnames could be confused with given names, and vice versa. Clearly we need a solution that allows us to tag individuals within a photo so that their names pop up on a mouseover, or where such tags can be displayed or hidden with the click of a mouse. The tagging capability should travel with the image file and not depend on the end-user installing any special programs. Presently programs such as FotoTagger from Cogitum LC require that both the originator and receiver of a file have the program installed in order to display/hide tags.


Although we may use up to 255 characters in the naming of files there are some areas where abbreviations might be used to keep file names within a reasonable length. However abbreviations should only be used if they do not create questions about their meaning. In addition to the accepted three-letter abbreviations for months of the year, and the two-letter abbreviations for the 50 United States, here is the list of abbreviations that I currently allow myself to use. I should add that if I send a photo file abroad I change the two-letter state abbreviations to the full spelling of those state names.

  • & in place of AND
  • CO for COUNTY
  • CP for COPY
  • ENH for ENHANCED (This would apply to images that have been altered for clarity)
  • PG for PAGE
  • REC for RECORD


To help me remember how to apply the standards I have imposed on myself I have created a single-page quick reference guide (Figure 9) which I keep at my desk.


Figure 9 - Image File Naming Standard - Quick Reference

Details aside, it is clear that some organizational plan is necessary if a researcher is to keep track of the wealth of image files that rapidly collect as they search. Hopefully it will be of some use to you, and to other researchers.

Legacy user group to form in Cleveland, Ohio

Legacy User groups meet around the world to educate and share ideas with others about the use of Legacy Family Tree. Interest to form a group in Cleveland, Ohio has been brought to my attention, and if you are interested in participating, please contact Rich Falzini.

To see if there is a local Legacy User Group in your part of the world, visit

The U.S. Social Security Death Index is being threatened - how you can help

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) was one of the very first resources I learned about when I began genealogy in the early 1990s. Today it is still one of the most valuable resources for the U.S. genealogist. Now the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security is proposing to completely shut down its use by genealogists and other industries. Please participating in preserving the use of this important database. The official announcement and instructions for signing the petition are below.


Genealogy Community Responds To Efforts To Remove Access to Social Security Death Index and Other Records

Instructions for signing up at and signing the petition can be found at Frequently asked questions about signing the petition are available here.

February 7, 2012– Austin, TX: The Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC) – a joint coalition of international genealogical societies representing millions of genealogists and family historians – announces the launch of its Stop ID Theft NOW! campaign with its We The People petition posted at

Call To Action For IRS To Do Its Job

Each year, fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The current target is the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) or Death Master File since this file, as found on numerous genealogy-oriented websites, could possibly be the source of identity thieves acquiring a deceased person’s Social Security number.

The IRS could close the door to this form of identity theft if, in fact, it were to use the Death Master File for the purpose for which it was created: to reduce fraud. If returns claiming a tax refund were screened against the Master Death File and matching cases identified for special processing, the thief should receive a rejection notice for the filing.

Tax Fraud and Identity Theft: Genealogists Are Not To Blame

The House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security is proposing to completely shut down use of the SSDI by genealogists as well as other industries such as banking and insurance that rely upon its information. Such an attempt is short-sighted and runs counter to the original purpose of the SSDI: to actually combat fraud.

Loss of Access to SSDI Affects More Than Genealogists

The SSDI is accessed by many different companies, non-profits and other entities besides individuals researching their family history. Forensic specialists utilize the SSDI when reuniting remains of military veterans with their next-of-kin and descendants. Law offices, banks and insurance companies utilize the SSDI to resolve probate cases and to locate heirs.

All of these entities would be required to spend more money and more time leveraging other resources of information when the SSDI has served this purpose, uninterrupted, for over a decade.

RPAC Petitions Obama Administration

The We the People petition, now posted at and accepting signatures, has a simple yet effective mission:

Take immediate steps that would curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults.

[Note: Visitors to the website must log in to sign the petition, or click Create an Account to register. Once registered, return to to sign the petition.]

No need for lengthy hearings in front of a Congressional committee. No need for filing statements for or against any House action. No need to waste time and effort which could be directed to more pressing national issues. In fact, the National Taxpayer Advocate in 2011 issued suggestions which do not require additional legislation but can be implemented collaboratively between the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA) almost immediately in time to impact the current tax filing season.

About Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC)

The Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC) was formed to advise the genealogical community on ensuring proper access to historical records of genealogical value in whatever media they are recorded, on means to affect legislation, and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices.

The genealogical community works together through The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), which today includes The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) as voting members. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), the American Society of Genealogists (ASG), ProQuest and serve as participating members.To learn more visit

Geoff Rasmussen to speak at the Colorado Genealogical Society Seminar March 17, 2012

CGSLogoIf you are in the Denver, Colorado area on March 16 and 17, I'd love for you to join me at the Colorado Genealogical Society Seminar.

First, on Friday evening, I will be presenting The 1940 Census - Coming Soon to a Computer Near You as part of the CGS monthly meeting (free). This is held at the Christ the King Lutheran Church at 2300 S. Patton Court in Denver at 7:00pm.

The Saturday seminar will feature the following classes:

  • Mapping Your Ancestors Electronically
  • Timelines and Chronologies: Secrets of Genealogical Success
  • Sharing Your Genealogy Electronically
  • 12-Step Checklist for Using Your Genealogy Computer Program

For a complete seminar flyer and registration form, click here. Hope to see you there!

New book - Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History by Megan Smolenyak

WhoFor the first time, Megan Smolenyak's book Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History is available at for just $12.95 (224 pages).

There is no such thing as an ordinary family. Each one has its own stories: the black sheep, the Civil War hero, the ancestors who fled to the United States, or the lost family fortune. No matter how plain you think your background is, chances are there is a saga just waiting to be discovered.

The ground-breaking NBC series Who Do You Think You Are? takes seven of America's best-loved celebrities - from Lisa Kudrow to Susan Sarandon - on an emotional journey to trace their family history and discover who they really are. The revelations are sometimes shocking, sometimes heartbreaking, and always fascinating.

With the Who Do You Think You Are? companion guide, you will learn how to chart your own journey into your past and discover the treasures hidden in your family tree. Featuring step-by-step instructions from one of America's top genealogical researchers, Who Do You Think You Are? covers everything a beginner needs to know to start digging into their roots, including:

  • Full-color profiles of the celebrities' surprising revelations
  • Starting the search-it's as easy as pulling out the old family photos
  • Census information-where to find it and how to use it
  • What birth, death, and marriage certificates have to tell us
  • How to track down immigration and military documents
  • The latest breakthroughs in DNA testing
  • The best online resources to conduct your searches, and store your newfound discoveries to share with family and save for future generations

It has never been easier to bring your family history to life. You will be amazed at how much there is to discover! 224 pages, 5.4" (w) x 8.3" (h), published December 28, 2010.

Click here to purchase for just $12.95.

About Megan:
Megan-100Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (yes, that's her real name) is a genealogical adventurer who loves solving mysteries, making unexpected discoveries and pushing the boundaries of conventional genealogy.

A popular writer, speaker and TV guest, Megan has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, the Early Show, CNN, NPR and BBC. In addition to consulting on shows ranging from Who Do You Think You Are? to Top Chef, she is the author of six books, a Huffington Post contributor, a cold case researcher for the Army, NCIS and the FBI, and former Chief Family Historian and spokesperson for

Megan will be presenting the following webinar on April 25, 2012: Reverse Genealogy: Finding the Living. Click here to register (free).

Megan Smolenyak to present webinar on April 25 - Reverse Genealogy: Finding the Living

Megan-100Here's one of the most exciting announcements we've had in a long time. Megan Smolenyak, one of America's top genealogical researchers and speakers, will be participating in our Legacy Family Tree webinar series.

On Wednesday, April 25, Megan will present Reverse Genealogy: Finding the Living:

Although genealogy is at its heart the study of long-deceased ancestors, connecting with living relatives has become almost as important to many family historians. Some seek living kin in an effort to track down family photos; others do it to find family history playmates, plan reunions or identify DNA project participants. Whatever the motivation, one of the most addicting aspects of genealogy is the thrill of finding distant cousins, or in some cases, parents, children or siblings. But this "reverse genealogy" (working from the past to the present) has its own special challenges and requires the researcher to be part genealogist and part private investigator. This presentation covers proven techniques for tracing 20th and 21st century friends and relatives from the past to the present.

The live webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 2PM Eastern U.S., so register today to reserve your virtual seat. Registration is free but space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join that day.


About the presenter

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (yes, that's her real name) is a genealogical adventurer who loves solving mysteries, making unexpected discoveries and pushing the boundaries of conventional genealogy.

A popular writer, speaker and TV guest, Megan has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, the Early Show, CNN, NPR and BBC. In addition to consulting on shows ranging from Who Do You Think You Are? to Top Chef, she is the author of six books, a Huffington Post contributor, a cold case researcher for the Army, NCIS and the FBI, and former Chief Family Historian and spokesperson for

She is the author of:

Add it to your Google Calendar

With our Google Calendar button, you will never forget our upcoming webinars. Simply click the button to add it to your calendar. You can then optionally embed the webinar events (and even turn them on and off) into your own personal calendar. If you have already added the calendar, you do not have to do it again - the new webinar events will automatically appear.

Webinar time

The webinar will be live on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at:

  • 2pm Eastern (U.S.)
  • 1pm Central
  • 12pm Mountain/Arizona
  • 11am Pacific
  • 6pm GMT

Or use this Time Zone Converter.

Here's how to attend:

  1. Register at today. It's free!
  2. You will receive a confirmation email containing a link to the webinar.
  3. You will receive a reminder email during the week prior to the webinar.
  4. Calculate your time zone by clicking here.
  5. Click on the webinar link (found in confirmation and reminder emails) prior to the start of the webinar. Arrive early as the room size is limited to the first 1,000 arrivals that day.
  6. Listen via headset (USB headsets work best), your computer speakers, or by phone.

We look forward to seeing you all there!