IN THIS EDITION -- May 23, 2002


Product News from NGS Conference


Conferences are a genealogy shopper's paradise, and the National Genealogical Society's annual gathering, held last week in Milwaukee, Wis., was no exception. Among the new software products spotted in the NGS exhibit hall:

· Attendees got a sneak peek at version 5.0 of The Master Genealogist before its developer, Wholly Genes, released it for download Tuesday at The company gave detailed demos showing the program's new features, such as Beginner and Advanced data-entry modes, the ability to work with multiple data sets without merging their data and customizable everything. All the charting features aren't available in the initial release; you can update the program online or wait till the CD version ships. Another nice feature of TMG 5.0: a lower Gold-Edition price of $79.

· FormalSoft, developer of Family Origins and Family Reunion Organizer software, announced a new genealogy program at NGS. RootsMate is still in progress, but president Bruce Buzbee expects to release it by the end of the year. The program will combine advanced features with an easy-to-use interface; look for a full-featured package including source templates, user-defined facts, multimedia scrapbooks, a host of reports, unlimited data and of course, GEDCOM support. Updates will be posted at; you can also sign up to be notified when RootsMate becomes available.

· If you've been frustrated trying to access the 1901 British census online, you'll be happy to hear that S&N Genealogy Supplies will soon have an electronic-access alternative. The Britain-based company just received a license to produce the 1901 census data on CD-ROM and DVD, which will be distributed in the United States through Heritage Quest. S&N is working on CD and DVD sets of other British census records as well; a newly released Worcestershire 1851 set was available at the conference; Yorkshire 1891 records will be out at the end of the month. See for info on other census sets.

Look for more coverage of these new programs in future issues of Family Tree Magazine.


Clayton Library to Cut Evening Hours


Researchers who frequent the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research ( in Houston, Texas, may wince at the library's latest cost-cutting plan. To meet its 2003 budget, the Houston Public Library is proposing to reduce hours at all facilities, according to the Houston Chronicle. Part of the proposal includes cutting back evening hours at the Clayton library from three days a week to one. Clayton is one of only five US libraries with a complete census record collection, and considered among the top genealogy libraries in the country. (Watch for it in the upcoming October issue of Family Tree Magazine, which lists the top 10 public libraries for genealogists.) The Chronicle says genealogists from as far away as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have e-mailed Houston City Council members, protesting the library's plan (see to e-mail council members).


From You to Your German Past


The most efficient way to research your German past is to start in the present and work backward. We suggest that you follow these steps:

1. Start with yourself by collecting documented evidence about you, your birth, and your life, such as your birth certificate, marriage certificate and so forth.
2. Collect documented evidence from your parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins and anybody else in your family who could possibly provide you with historical or genealogical information.
3. Go to local or nearby treasure troves (churches, courthouses, cemeteries).
4. Go to local libraries and Family History Centers.
5. Visit treasure troves and libraries that are a greater distance away.
6. Write to places not easily reached for additional civil, church and archive records.
7. Don't be an island. Make connections with Germanic genealogical societies and other Germanic-specific sources.
8. Consider hiring a professional for difficult or distant genealogical research. You may wish to contact a member of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (Box 14291, Washington, DC 20044,, the Association of Professional Genealogists (Box 40393, Denver, CO 80204, or Accredited Genealogists (35 NW Temple St., Salt Lake City, UT 84150).
9. After exhausting all of the records you can efficiently get your hands on and you know the exact location in Germany to research, go to Germany if you wish. But don't make too many assumptions about your trip. For instance, don't assume you will find the tombstones of your ancestors in the cemetery. Due to the value of land in many Germanic areas, many cemeteries no longer contain their original "inhabitants," but newer "arrivals." Finding original records is also a challenge as the records may be scattered among numerous nearby villages and larger archives. Legitimate expectations include the possibility of locating a significant amount of information if you locate the right record source. You may find a living relative who can add substantially to your store of knowledge about the family. Also, you will see firsthand a number of areas historically significant to your ancestors. Certainly, another bonus is enjoying the "flavor" of the old country your ancestors inhabited.

-Excerpted from A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors by S. Chris Anderson and Ernest Thode, $18.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher, Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at


Tracing Evolution of US Census


The US census has come a long way, baby. Find out just how much this staple of genealogy has evolved since 1790 in a new publication from the US Census Bureau. Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 shows images or descriptions of each census year's questionnaire, along with instructions to census-takers on how to fill out the form. The book also discusses how each census was conducted, and its historical significance and development over the years. You can download this free 140-page publication at (It's 15MB, so the download may take a while. You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can get free at

For the Family Tree Magazine guide to using the census to find your roots, see the February 2002 issue or see highlights at Also, check out Your Guide to the Federal Census by Kathleen Hinckley (Betterway Books, $21.99) at


Give a Little, Learn a Lot


A tip from Timothy J. McWilliams of Torrington, Conn.:

"I have been involved in my family search for the last 10 years and still consider myself an amateur. My tip for anyone involved in genealogy would be to volunteer at any of the numerous genealogy Web sites.

"I volunteer at Obituary Daily Times (, sponsor a Web site on RootsWeb for Torrington, Conn. ( and also volunteer with Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness ( I have found that by doing research for others who are interested in the area you live, you learn new techniques for your own research.

"Recently I helped a woman from Washington state track down an unknown infant in her family tree. What a shock for this woman to learn that her grandmother had another daughter that no one knew of and died shortly after birth. By researching for this woman, I learned how to create an enumeration district map for the 1910 and 1920 census in my area. By printing a map of the surrounding area where her grandparents lived, I was able to read the census enumeration district descriptions and highlight each area on my map. What a great tool for getting to know the area around your ancestors!

"I have since learned that this woman comes from the same area in Poland that my great-grandparents did and she is now helping me locate my family homestead. What a great reward for helping someone else!

"I hope that with more researchers volunteering their time, everyone will reap the rewards."