Month: June 2013

FamilySearch Adds More Than 1.1 Million Images from Austria, England, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, and the United States

FamilySearch has recently added more than 1.1 million images from Austria, England, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 96,841 images from the newU.S., New Hampshire, Cheshire County, Probate Estate Files, 1886-1900, collection, the 60,505 index records and images from the England, Cheshire Non-conformist Records, 1671-1900, collection, and the 21,650 index records and images from the new U.S., Wisconsin, State Census, 1865, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

Searchable historic records are made available on through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at

FamilySearch 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 and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Indexed Records

Digital Images




Added images to an existing collection.



Added index records and images to an existing collection.



New browsable image collection.



Added index records to an existing collection.



Added images to an existing collection.



Added images to an existing collection.



New browsable image collection.


Added images to an existing collection.



Added images to an existing collection.



Added images to an existing collection.



New browsable image collection.



Added images to an existing collection.



Added images to an existing collection.



New index records and browsable image collection.

Discover lost Irish links with’s Ashes to Archives

Free access to birth, marriage and death records from 27-30 June

Sydney, 25 June, 2013: On June 30, 1922, during the Irish Civil War, the Public Records Office of Ireland was severely damaged by shellfire resulting in the devastating loss of almost all Irish census records from the 19th century. To commemorate this event, and champion the Irish records that have survived, leading family history website, is launching its ‘Ashes to Archives’ initiative which will provide Australians free access to its Irish Birth, Death and Marriage Records. Available from 27 until 30 June, 2013 Australians will not only have free access to over 21 million Irish birth, death and marriage records, but also plenty of useful resources for piecing together their Irish ancestry, notoriously one of most difficult genealogies to track.

Resources include tips for getting started, how Irish genealogy differs from other branches of family history, exactly what was lost in the 1922 fire, detailed information on the records available on and more.

Vicki Dawson, General Manager of said, “Such a huge loss of records was a tragedy, resulting in Irish ancestry being one of the most difficult to pursue. However this also makes it one of the most rewarding when you do uncover information.

“Our ‘Ashes to Archives’ initiative aims to help the many Australians with Irish ancestry that there are countless substitutes you can use when building your Irish family tree, which are easy to locate on our site.”

“Birth, death and marriage records are the starting point for anyone wanting to trace their Irish family history and free access to these via will give Australians a great head start on finding their Irish family tree. This should encourage everyone to get started as soon as possible. You never know what you’ll discover!” Dawson continued.

To learn more about what records were destroyed in 1922 and to access millions of Irish Birth, Death and Marriage records for free visit by 30 June.

Unlock the Past Cruises (international) launched

Adelaide, South Australia, 25 June 2013 – Unlock the Past announces Unlock the Past Cruises, an international program of history and genealogy cruises. This expanded cruise commitment follows on from the success of the first three Unlock the Past cruises, high interest in the fourth in February 2014 and a proposed mid 2015 cruise from the UK/Europe to the Baltic. Now there is more choice:

  • more cruises to choose from – two to four a year
  • more and varied itineraries – anywhere in the world, wherever there is enough interest
  • more price levels to suit different budgets – starting from under $1000
  • more varied programs – some full conference programs with many presenters, others much smaller
  • some conference focused, others more destination/itinerary focused

The fourth cruise in February 2014 is booking strongly. Further cruises under consideration include:

  • a British Isles discovery cruise in mid 2014
  • a smaller regional cruise from an Australian port or Auckland – Sydney late 2014 or early 2015
  • a major Baltic cruise from UK/Europe mid 2015
  • a transatlantic cruise November 2015
  • an Australia – New Zealand cruise early 2016

Unlock the Past cruises combine relaxing cruises with world class history & genealogy conferences. All major conference cruises feature an international team of presenters and a program with international appeal. Shorter cruises will also have leading presenters. Some cruises are more conference focused. Others more on the destination and places visited.

What a fantastic and wonderful experience it has been. Great speakers and a good variety of topics. I now know that I am on the right track with my research. I was travelling solo yet felt I was part of a warm and friendly group. Thank you. – Lauretta Nobes, 3rd cruise

Thank you … for your wonderful work in organising this cruise – we are now addicted to Cruising with Genealogy … you did a fantastic job … Congratulations. – Malcolm & Hazel Ford, 3rd cruise

Visit the Unlock the Past website: Feedback from a cruise survey at will guide the choice of future genealogy cruise schedules.

About Unlock the Past

Australian based Unlock the Past was established in 2009. It is the event and publishing division of Gould Genealogy & History which has served family and local historians since 1976. It is a collaborative venture involving an international team of expert speakers, writers, organisations and commercial partners to promote history and genealogy through innovative major events and a new publishing brand. It also maintains general and events directories online and is a cost effective marketing platform for partners.

FamilySearch Adds More Than 200,000 Images to New United States Confederate Officers Card Index Collection

FamilySearch has recently added more than 3.4 million images from Colombia, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Italy, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 207,550 images from the new…

First Female Homesteader Identified

Genealogist Gail Blankenau uses Homestead Act records via Fold3 and to discover Mary Myers of Gage County, Nebraska

June 18, 2013 – Lincoln, Nebraska. Professional genealogist Gail Blankenau has recently solved an ongoing mystery: Who was the first woman to secure a homestead in her own right through the Homestead Act of 1862? The answer can now be revealed thanks to family history records available at both and Fold3: Mary Myers, a widow, of Gage County, Nebraska. Myers applied for a homestead at the Brownville Land Office on 20 January 1863, just 19 days after Daniel Freeman, the first homesteader via the Homestead Act. Freeman’s certificate of payment is Certificate No. 1 and Myer’s is Certificate No. 3.

The Homestead Act of 1862 provided women with a unique opportunity to own land in their own right. A woman who was age 21 and the head of a family was eligible to apply under the Act. Thousands of women—widows, divorcees, single women, and deserted women—applied for a chance at independence.

Under the provisions of the Act, a settler had to build a dwelling, cultivate the land, and be in continuous residence for a five-year period. Settlers faced many hardships, including lack of water, bad weather, insects, and loneliness. Only 40% of those who applied for land were able to complete the process and secure a land patent.

Blankenau came across the records for Mary Myers while preparing for a presentation on women homesteaders at the upcoming National Homestead Monument’s Land Records and Genealogy Symposium on July 12 and 13, 2013, in Beatrice Nebraska. The land entry case file on the popular genealogy website Fold3, contains Mary Myer’s required affidavit stating that she had met all of the Act’s provisions.

“It is so important for us to celebrate the contributions of pioneer women like Mary Myers,” says Blankenau. “When delving into the land entry files, there are all sorts of details of their lives, details that aren’t easily found in many other records. Women were often the silent partner in land deals, but as female homesteaders, they could take center stage.”

About Gail Blankenau

Gail Blankenau is a professional genealogist, speaker and author, specializing in German genealogy, land records, and lineage research. Gail has written for the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The Genealogist, Everton’s Genealogical Helper, Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy. If it deals with genealogy, she probably does it. Learn more at Discover Family History (

Michael Savoca Presented with Freeman Student Grant at SCGS Jamboree

June 9, 2013 BURBANK, California – Michael Savoca, a college student from Toms River, New Jersey was awarded the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant Award at the Scholarship Breakfast on 9 June 2013 at the annual Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California.

The Freeman Student Grant was established by family and friends in 2010 in memory of Suzanne Winsor Freeman, family historian and life-long volunteer, and an enthusiastic annual attendee at the SCGS Jamboree. Each year, Jamboree has included a complimentary full-registration package for the recipient.

Denise Levenick, Grant Chair, and Paula Hinkel, Jamboree Co-Chair introduced Michael to the breakfast attendees where he received a warm welcome to the conference. Mike’s father, Vinny Savoca, traveled with him to the conference and they were able to reconnect with California cousins while in Burbank.

Mike has been researching his family history for over a decade, and participating in online genealogy forums and message boards for nearly as many years. His expertise in Italian and Croatian research have made him a popular volunteer online and at his local Family History Center. He has been able to travel with family to their ancestral village in Croatia and complete research in original records provided by the parish. He has also worked extensively with Italian records and assisted with the records of the Gente di Mare genealogy website.

“Mike is a wonderful representative for genealogists of his generation,” noted Denise Levenick. “He brings enthusiasm, expertise, and a willingness to ‘give back’ to the genealogy community. It’s obvious that Mike has a great future in genealogy, and we are delighted to encourage his research and genealogical education with this award.”

In addition to researching his Italian, Croatian, Irish, German, and Hungarian roots, Michael is interested in learning more about using DNA for genealogical research and about professional archival management. He is a history major at Kean University and would like to become a Certified Genealogist.

2013 FGS Conference Early Bird Registration Ends July 1

“Journey through Generations” – A Conference for the Nation’s Genealogists

June 10, 2013 – Austin, TX. Discounted early-bird registration for the 2013 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference will continue only until July 1. Early registrants receive a $50 discount for the full four days, or a $20 discount for any single day. Details at

The conference will be held 21-24 August 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the Grand Wayne Convention Center. This year’s conference theme is “Journey through Generations,” and the local hosts are the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) and the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana (ACGSI). Platinum sponsors are FamilySearch, and

The conference offers opportunities for all who are interested in researching their family history, with over 160 educational sessions on records, strategies, and tools for genealogists at all levels. The exhibit hall features over 70 vendors offering a wide range of genealogical products and is open and free to the public.

Luncheons, workshops and special events provide additional opportunities for networking and learning. Make sure the get your tickets to these conference “extras” early to guarantee your spot.

See you in Fort Wayne in August!

Learn More and Stay Connected

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS Forum magazine (filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference — four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more visit

Drew Smith Appointed Chair of FHISO

Family History Information Standards Organisation, Inc. (FHISO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Drew Smith as the first Chair of FHISO, effective 1 July 2013. Drew is currently the Organisational Member Representative to FHISO from the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS).

“I am deeply honored to have been given this opportunity by the FHISO Board,” Drew said. “As someone who has made a career in information technology and librarianship, I recognize the critical importance of information standards, and as a long-time genealogist, I understand the needs of the world’s genealogy product and service vendors, repositories, societies, and individuals to collaborate and to share family history information. I look forward to leading an international effort to support the creation of these essential information standards.”

“We are excited to have Drew join us in this leadership role, as it marks a significant milestone in transitioning the organisation from its formative state into an operating standards development body,” said Robert Burkhead, FHISO Acting Chair and Technical Standing Committee Coordinator. “Drew’s knowledge and experience in the industry will serve FHISO’s membership and the entire community well.”

Individuals from FHISO member organisations expressed their own praise and support for Drew’s appointment. “Drew brings an excellent synthesis of a genealogical librarian and an active player in the larger family history community, and I look forward to working with him in his new role,” said D. Joshua Taylor, Lead Genealogist and Business Development Manager – North America for brightsolid online publishing, the creators of

“Having worked with Drew in various organizations and committees, I believe he is the perfect choice to chair FHISO at this formative time,” said Bruce Buzbee, President of RootsMagic, Inc. “I have seen firsthand his organizational skills and leadership qualities in groups where members may have very different opinions or somewhat different goals.”

Loretto (Lou) Szucs, Vice President of Community Relations for, had this to say: “Having known and worked with Drew for more than fifteen years, I can’t think of anyone who is better qualified to serve as the first Chair of this important new organization. Drew has consistently shown his outstanding leadership skills in working with family history organizations, libraries, and other historical and technology organizations. As the world’s largest online family history resource, with more than 2.5 million subscribers and more than 11 billion records online, is proud to be a founding member of FHISO.”

“The appointment of Drew Smith as Chair of FHISO sends a strong signal to all wait-and-see organisations,” said Bob Coret, founder of Coret Genealogie. “FHISO is becoming a strong organisation which, with the recent Call for Papers, is leading the way in developing genealogy and family history information standards. As a Founding Member of FHISO from the Netherlands I’m pleased to hear that Drew Smith also embraces the non-English part of the genealogical community, which reflects the international character of FHISO.”

Drew Smith is an Assistant Librarian with the Academic Services unit of the University of South Florida (USF) Tampa Library, and serves as the liaison librarian to the USF School of Information. He has taught graduate-level courses in genealogical librarianship and indexing/abstracting, and undergraduate-level courses in web design. Drew earlier worked for academic computing departments at USF and at Clemson University (South Carolina).

Drew is a Director of FGS (2008-2013), chair of its Technology Committee, and “Rootsmithing with Technology” columnist for its FORUM magazine. He is past Secretary of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). Drew is President of the Florida Genealogical Society of Tampa and has served on the board of the Florida State Genealogical Society. He administers the GENEALIB electronic mailing list with over 1200 genealogy librarians as subscribers, a list he founded in 1996.

Drew has been the co-host of The Genealogy Guys Podcast since September 2005, and together with George G. Morgan has produced over 250 one-hour episodes. Drew is author of the book Social Networking for Genealogists, published in 2009 by Genealogical Publishing Company, and with George is co-author of the upcoming book Advanced Genealogy Research Skills, to be published in September 2013 by McGraw-Hill. Drew has written extensively for NGS NewsMagazine (now NGS Magazine), Genealogical Computing, and Digital Genealogist.

Drew holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Master of Science in Industrial Management from Clemson University, and a Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from USF.


FHISO is a standards-developing organisation bringing the international family history and genealogical community together in a transparent, self-governing forum for the purpose of developing information standards to solve today’s interoperability issues. To learn more about FHISO, visit To become a member, visit


FHISO General Enquiries,
FHISO Membership enquiries,
FHISO Media Relations, Anthony C. Proctor,

Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association Established

Dillard, Georgia—On 10 April 2013 a group of genealogists researching in the Southern Appalachian region of the United States came together to establish the Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association (SAGA). The Association will focus on the area of the Appalachian Mountains in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

SAGA’s objectives are:
  • To promote scholarship of the genealogy, history, and culture of the peoples of the Southern Appalachian region through the publication of periodicals, reference and other material.
  • To provide support for researchers of the peoples of the Southern Appalachians, including educational opportunities and outlets.
  • To promote the preservation of records and archival material created by, for, or about the peoples of the Southern Appalachians.
  • To promote the preservation of historical sites within the Southern Appalachians.
  • To promote excellence in genealogical and historical research, and to encourage researchers to adhere to the highest standards.
Membership in SAGA is an easy and inexpensive way to network with area researchers, to learn more about the history and culture of the Southern Appalachians, and to give back through volunteer opportunities. Dues are $15 annually. Membership is open to anyone who is willing to support the Society’s objectives.

For more information on the Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association (SAGA), visit