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Feb. 3, 2005

Family Tree Magazine Guidebook 2005 My, what sharp eyes you have! A big thanks to the 40-plus of you sent answers to the February 2005 Family Tree Magazine quiz questions we posed in the Jan. 20 E-Mail Update. The three most lightning-fingered of the bunch—who also answered correctly—are Ruth Hendricks, Karen Hoch and Mark Laufer. Each wins a free copy of the 2005 Genealogy Guidebook, a special issue of Family Tree Magazine. Congratulations! And the correct answers are:

1. Geneticists affectionately call a single nucleotide polymorphism a "SNP" (pronounced "snip"). Learn more about genetic genealogy at

2. The February 2005 "Web's Greatest Hits" article listed 25 best-of-the-best Web sites. We also asked you to name any three of the sites—see them all listed at

3. Avoid relying solely on an "acid-free" label on a pen because even acid-free ink can bleed or fade. Make sure your pens are waterproof and fade-resistant, too.

4. In Delaware, a "hundred" is part of a Colonial tax-districting system. It represents an area occupied by 100 families.

5. In "Pictures of Success," Family Tree Magazine photo expert Maureen A. Taylor counted stars on the flags in photograph number 5 to estimate a date. Read more about Taylor's photo-ID strategies in the Identifying Family Photographs column of every E-Mail Update.

—Diane Haddad, Newsletter Editor

P.S. Make sure you don't miss a single issue of your E-mail Update! Add our address ( to your email-address book—your software will recognize the Update as an e-mail you want to read.



Scotlands People A Good Deal for Scotlands People
Last month, the Scottish family records Web site Scotland's People (http://www.
teamed up with the National Archives of Scotland ( http://www.
) and the Court of the Lord Lyon ( to add millions of records to what's already available on Scotlands People. (The Court of Lord Lyon, Scotland's heraldic authority, maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies.)

Scotlands People is the genealogy data site of the General Records Office for Scotland. The site, which currently contains nearly 40 million records and has 215,000 registered users, will get the Scottish archives' historical wills and testaments, as well as armorial and genealogical material from the Court of Lord Lyon. It's scheduled for launch in spring 2005 as a new, rebranded site.

The three organizations also are collaborating on a Scottish Family History research facility near the General Register House and the New Register House buildings in Edinburgh. It's slated to open by the end of 2006.

Buff up Your Research
A new site called ( lets you search about 200 family history databases for your surname in one fell swoop.

Type in a surname, click Submit and GenealogyBuff automatically enters the name on search forms of data sites. You get a list of links to each site's results page, even if the search on a particular site comes up empty. I did a search on my own surname, for example, and clicked on "Mennonite Obituary Archive entries for Haddad." That page told me "No documents found relating to your query" (which wasn't a surprise—my last name is the Lebanese qualivalent of Smith).

GenealogyBuff mines databases large and small, many of them free but some paid: RootsWeb databases, the Social Security Death Index, obituaries, state vital records, user-contributed pedigree databases and e-mail lists. Results for census records link you to search results, which you'll need a subscription to view. A telltale dollar sign after the link warns you when you're visiting a paid-access site; other helpful notations indicate sites that load slowly or are updated often.

Use GenealogyBuff as a starting place: You'll find online databases you didn't know about, and you might turn up a relative without much effort. But don't stop there—GenealogyBuff doesn't take advantage of unique search features each database might offer, or look for surname spelling variations. Once you've clicked to a results page, take a minute to learn about the data on that site and look for an advanced search option that will let you customize your search of that database.

Meeting Halfway in South Dakota South Dakota counties
A bill introduced last month in South Dakota's state legislature would've barred most public access to birth, death and marriage certificates. But now the legislation, called SB41,includes more-genealogist-friendly provisions.

In its original form, SB41 would have limited records access to the person named in the record, certain family members (spouses, children, parents, guardians, next of kin) and authorized representatives (lawyers, doctors, funeral home directors). Genealogists and members of the media said the bill, intended to prevent identity theft and increase security against terrorism, was unnecessarily restrictive and punished researchers along with would-be criminals.

At the request of the state health department, an amendment added Monday would allow researchers to get photocopies, but not certified copies, of the original documents. The amendment also would allow county and health department clerks to withhold requested copies of certificates for up to three days.

In both the original and amended forms of SB41, birth records older than 100 years, and death, marriage and divorce records older than 50 years are available without restriction.

The Senate health committee has approved the amendment and sent it to the full Senate for a vote.

In Motion Web Site Celebrate African-American History Month The New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture started off African-American History Month by announcing a new Web site about black migration into, out of and within the United States over the last 400 years. The site, In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience (, gives you access to articles, photographs, maps and historic documents about the 13 defining migrations that formed African America. (The site was sometimes slow to load, likely due to a large number of visitors, so keep trying.)

That's only one of the learning opportunities this month brings you. Here's a sampling of the African-American genealogy workshops we found—check with your local public library, historical society or museum to see what's going on in your area.

  • The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati is presenting a series of programs on African-American research strategies Saturdays this month from 1 to 3 pm. Attendance is free with Freedom Center admission. Call (513) 333-7737 or visit for information.

  • Also on Family Tree Magazine's home turf, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County offers a free class on African-American church records Feb. 27 at 3:30 p.m. Call (513) 369-6900 or see
    for details.

  • The Chicago Public Library's Woodson branch has a free African-American genealogical research conference Feb. 26 at 12:30 p.m. Learn more by calling (312) 747-6900 or visiting

  • If you're in Louisville, head to the Louisville Free Public Library's Middletown branch for a free African-American genealogy seminar Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. Call (502) 245-7332 or visit for details.

  • Professional genealogist and author Tony Burroughs will visit the Library of Michigan Feb. 8 for a daylong workshop on finding African-American roots. The $20 registration fee ($15 for students) includes lunch. Get more information by calling (517) 373-1360 or visiting

Finding Your Roots Online The Results Are In
Having trouble tracking down those elusive ancestors? In this biweekly, Web-exclusive column, contributing editor Nancy Hendrickson points to new and helpful ways to do your computer-related genealogy research. This week, she reveals the surprising results of her recent genealogy-DNA test. Read more at

Hendrickson is a family historian, freelance writer and the author of the book Finding Your Roots Online, on sale now at

Browse the archive of her AncestorNews columns at

Ancestral Autographs
This week's tip comes from Kelly Sutkamp of Louisville, KY:

Handwriting is another inherited characteristic, like eye color and left- or right-handedness. I created a family autograph book to preserve family signatures. Just scan them or photocopy them onto acid-free paper.

It's easy to get living relatives' signatures, but for those who've passed on, try a Social Security application, which you can order for a small fee. Also look on death certificates—somebody in the family usually had to sign those, and most likely it was the deceased's spouse or child. Network within your family and put out the word about your mission. A distant family member may have inherited estate items such as signed greeting cards or photos with handwriting on the back.

Do you have a great idea for discovering, preserving or celebrating family history? E-mail us your tip at with TIP OF THE WEEK in the subject line. If we publish it, you'll win a free copy of Digitizing Your Family History by Rhonda McClure, also available for purchase online at

Be first to check out these new articles on our Web site:

The Short-for List
Q. I found my great-grandfather on a passenger arrival list for the Port of New York. He arrived in 1915. But there are all sorts of notations—numbers and abbreviations—on the entry with his name. What do they all mean?

A. US immigration officials were fond of using abbreviations and numbers. Some of these notations referred to events that happened on Ellis Island. For example, if you see S.I. by your ancestor's name, that means he was held for the Board of Special Inquiry on the island. You might also see stamped next to his name the word admitted or deported—indicating what the board decided about his fate. Either one means you should check the end of the passenger list for detained aliens and Board of Special Inquiry pages, which will give you more information on that passenger.

Other abbreviations reference actions that happened after the immigrant landed—for example, if your great-grandfather applied for naturalization, a government and official may have checked and made a note on the passenger record to verify the immigrant's arrival.

Notations had different meanings depending on the column in which these cryptic entries were made. To understand the notations on your ancestor's arrival list, see Marian L. Smith's article "Interpreting US Immigration Manifest Annotations," online at It originally was published in the Spring 1996 issue of Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy.
—Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

Sharon DeBartolo Carmack is the author of The Family Tree Guide to Finding Your Ellis Island Ancestors (Family Tree Books, $19.99), due out this June.

Read more Q&A; with the experts at

Eleanor Pauline Portraits from Overseas
Expert photo historian Maureen A. Taylor helps readers analyze old family pictures in her Web-exclusive column Identifying Family Photographs. This week, she answers questions about photos of immigrant ancestors.

If you have a family photo mystery for Taylor to solve, check out our Submission Guidelines at

San Marcos, Texas
Emily Anne Croom
Feb. 12
San Marcos/Hays County Genealogical Society seminar

  • The Territorial Papers of the United States
  • Timely Tools for Genealogists
  • Where in the World? Using Maps in Genealogy
  • Scaling the Brick Wall
Contact Karin McArdle at

Dallas, Texas
Emily Anne Croom
March 5
Dallas Genealogical Society seminar

  • Their Place in Time: Broadening the Perspective Beyond Dates and Places
  • Likely, Logical, Convincing: Resolving Conflicting Evidence
  • You're Known by the Company You Keep: Cluster Genealogy, an Essential Tool for Research
  • Scaling the Brick Wall
Contact Tresa Tatyrek at

Large family tree charts printed on continuous roll paper from Family Tree Maker and other popular genealogy software.

Genealogy Hotel Rates in Salt Lake-You will love the genealogy rates at the Holiday Inn-Downtown along with the free shuttles to & from the Family History Library.

Smoky Mountain Reunion Chalets - 1-8 BR's.   Reunion packages, facilities and coordinator. 1-800-561-5691

RootsMagic Genealogy Software - "An excellent choice for any genealogist" says Family Tree Magazine. Get a free trial copy at

Visit ancestral villages, parish churches, archives, connect with family.  Fluent guides and genealogy experts included.

Get Family Tree Magazine back issues at

Explore Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update past issues at

Get free Family Tree News Service articles for your genealogy newsletter or Web site at

Sponsor This Newsletter
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February 2005 Issue

February 2005 Family Tree Magazine

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