Monday, November 28, 2011

Official Announcement of RootsMagic 5

This is a followup on my blog posting earlier today about the new RootsMagic 5. The new version has been officially announced on the company blog at Also, the company website at has been updated (it wasn't when I looked early this morning, so remember you read about it first on this blog and at my other blog, NEOhio Genealogy Blog).

Here is what Bruce Buzbee has posted in the RootsMagic Blog:

New RootsMagic 5 Software Released

Latest Version of Genealogy and Family Tree Software Now Available to the Public

SPRINGVILLE, Utah. — November 28, 2011 — RootsMagic, Inc. today announced the official release of RootsMagic 5, the latest version of the award-winning genealogy software which makes researching, organizing, and sharing your family history easy and enjoyable.  With this release comes an update to the popular “RootsMagic Essentials” free genealogy software.

Family History Made Easy

A July 2009 review of RootsMagic 4 by Family Tree Magazine said, “Probably the best all-around genealogy program, RootsMagic offers a winning combination of features for both casual and serious genealogists.”
Throughout it’s 10-year history, RootsMagic has helped people research and share their family trees with innovative features such as moving people from one file to another with your mouse, a SourceWizard to help you document your work, creating a Shareable CD to give to family and friends, and running RootsMagic off of a USB flash drive when you are away from home.  RootsMagic also received the award for “Easiest to Sync” from FamilySearch for their work in interfacing with that system.

New Features

RootsMagic 5 adds many new features while making existing features even easier to use.  “This release includes something for everybody,” said Bruce Buzbee, president.  “Whether you’re a grandma wanting to share your family history with grandkids or a professional researcher trying to organize your work, RootsMagic 5 has something new for you.”  New features include:
  • Timeline View – put a person’s life in context with events from their own life and from the lives of family members.
  • CountyCheck – confirm and correct the existence of a county, state, or country on any given date from a multi-national database.  It can even show you online maps of county boundaries for that date.
  • Research Manager – avoid “reinventing the wheel” by keeping track of research goals, sources, and results that you have collected on a person, family, or place
  • “On This Day” List – bring your family history to life and view family events along with famous births, deaths, and historical events for any given day of the year.
  • Media Tagging – tag your media with people, families, sources, or places.  For example, tag an image of a census record with the people, families, and places mentioned in the record as well as the census’ source citation.
  • Plus over 80 other enhancements and features

Free “RootsMagic Essentials”

RootsMagic 5 is also available in an updated, free edition named, “RootsMagic 5 Essentials”.  RootsMagic Essentials contains many core features from the RootsMagic software and the two products are fully-compatible with one another.  “Many people are curious about their family history and don’t know where to begin,” said Michael Booth, vice president.  “RootsMagic Essentials is the perfect way for someone to get started, risk-free.”  RootsMagic Essentials is available for download at

Available Now

RootsMagic 5 is now available online at or by calling 1-800-766-8762.  New users may purchase RootsMagic 5 for only $29.95.  Users of previous versions of RootsMagic and it’s predecessor, Family Origins may purchase RootsMagic 5 for the upgrade price of only $19.95.

About RootsMagic, Inc.

For over 20 years, RootsMagic, Inc. has been creating computer software with a special purpose- to unite families. One of our earliest products- the popular “Family Origins” software, introduced thousands of people to the joy and excitement of family history.
That tradition continues today with “RootsMagic”, our award-winning genealogy software which makes researching, organizing, and sharing your family history fun and easy. “Personal Historian” will help you easily write and preserve your life stories. “Family Reunion Organizer” takes the headaches out of planning those important get-togethers. And “Family Atlas” creates beautiful and educational geographic maps of your family history.
For more information, visit
Source: RootsMagic, Inc.

RootsMagic 5: First Look at New Features

This morning, I ordered a copy of RootsMagic 4 for a client, and learned that the latest version is now RootsMagic 5. I went ahead and placed my order and the confirming email gave me the option of downloading a  copy so that I could take a look.

For now, I am keeping a copy of my databases in RootsMagic 4, but I am also opening them in RootsMagic 5 to make a  comparison between the two versions and learn how 5 is better. 

First impression: I like the look of the new version, and in reading over the What's New list, the enhancements mentioned seem to me to be useful.

Here are some of the new features:

The Research Manager is now able to create unlimited research logs to document your work and aid your research, and you can quickly search for any text in any research log.

One feature that interests me is CountyCheck, which automatically checks every county you enter (US, Canada, UK, Australia) to verify that it actually existed at the time of the event. Also, a report can be printed out that gives you a list of all events in counties which didn't exist at the time. You also can access maps and county histories for the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. This will be a timesaver for me, I believe, as I have been spending considerable time going on and to check county names.

A Timeline View shows a full timeline of the current person's events and those of their parents, siblings, spouses, and children.
There also are numerous changes/improvements to People Views and Database Tools. It will take some time for me to try these out and report on them.

To read the What's New list on your own, click here.

Apparently, I am not the only one that was not aware that a new version was ready to be introduced. A Google search on Rootsmagic 5 turned up only the official website; no blogs, news announcements, or reviews. If you would like to see what is being offered with the new version, click here.

I'll be back with impressions as I work with the new version

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adding Family Health History to Your Family Tree

A few years ago, I collected death certificates for my parents and grandparents and took them with me to an appointment with my family physician for a physical. He glanced through them but detected no pattern of illnesses to worry about, for which I was thankful.
I recalled this event when I read the article "Exploring Your Health Roots," by Evelyn Theiss, published on Tuesday, Nov. 22, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. (In checking the website,, I found that she initially published the article online the day before. You can read it by clicking here.)

The timeliness of the article was highlighted in the subhead to the newspaper version: "Holiday season is a good time to create a family tree that looks at relatives' medical histories."

A quote pulled from the article and featured prominently in the layout of both the newspaper version and the online version follows:
"Any individual looking at their family history and family background will have a better understanding of what particular genetic disorders they are at risk of developing." Dr. Sean McCandless, medical geneticist, University Hospitals Case Medical Center

Apparently, some families try to avoid talking about family illnesses and causes of death. This apparently was especially true a few decades ago.

The article goes on to point out that problems encountered by siblings and aunts and uncles are important. That has led me to go back and check what I know about others in my family besides my parents and grandparents. Fortunately, I still cannot detect any pattern to worry about.

FYI, if you wish to create a family health history, the U. S. Surgeon General provides a free tool online. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Now Following "Who Do You Think You Are" on Twitter

The good news: NBC has announced a third season for the series "Who Do You Think You Are?" known as WDYTYA for short.

The not-so-good news: it won't appear until Friday, February 3, 2012 in the 8 to 9 p.m. time slot. It's obvious that NBC executives value the program series, but not enough to put it in a time slot in the fall season when top shows typically are scheduled.

No details yet on who will be featured in the upcoming season.

I learned that I can receive announcements for the show by "following it" on Twitter, hence I created a Twitter account for myself and signed up to follow it. I don't know how much I will be using Twitter going forward, other than to follow certain people/subjects of interest like WDYTYA.

Back to WDYTYA: You also can get upcoming announcements about the show (who is going to be featured, etc.) by following @nbcwdytya.

And if you would like to see Lisa Kudrow appearing on Rosie O'Donnell's TV show in October, talking about  their experiences on WDYTYA, go to

BTW, if you would like to follow me on Twitter, my handle is @NEOhioGenPro.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Working with Foreign Languages on the Internet

In doing genealogical research, I often encounter documents or phrases in foreign languages that I would like to translate into English.
Over the years, there have been websites that perform translations for you online. In most cases these have been free, at least for single words and phrases. Some websites offered to translate longer passages for you for a fee.
Well, for me at least, the choice today is automatic: I use Google Translate for quick translations and even for translating documents. It doesn't do a perfect translation, but it brings you close enough to understand what the creator of the words or document intended.
Most of my experience has been in translating Finnish into English. Recently, I have been working with a client whose ancestors came from Poland in the early 20th century. He has been able to provide me with a limited number of documents, including a record of birth and baptism for his grandmother. This record, or certificate, really, was produced in 1952 by a clergyman from the original church records.
In this case, I needed to translate from Latin into English. I found that I was able to do a rough translation of the document from Latin into English using Google Translate.
To fine-tune the translation, I accessed the Latin Genealogical Research Word List offered free, online by Working with this word list, I was able to understand some of the terminology that didn't translate smoothly in Google Translate. Working with these two tools, I was able to translate most--but not all--of the terms used in the document prepared back in 1952 by the parish priest.
I also needed to do a little research on the geography of the region in Poland to understand that the subject was born in the village of Dukla in southeastern Poland with a present-day population of about 2000. I learned this by looking up Dukla Poland in Wikipedia. I also found it listed in the website, JewishGen. The page on that website stated: 

“Althought the town began in Poland, it was part of Galicia (an Imperial Province of the Austrian Empire) from 1776 to 1919.”

This cleared up for me why I was seeing references to Galacia in this and other Polish-related records.
This all confirms once again that the Internet has many wonderful resources for genealogical research.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Important Announcement About 1940 Census

I have been preparing for researching in the 1940 U.S. Census when it is made available on 2 Apr 2012. And I have given one talk about this preparation, and I am scheduled to give another talk to the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society at its February meeting and present a workshop for the Genealogical Committee of the Western Reserve Historical Society on the first Saturday in March, 2012.

We have seen that the National Archives and Records Administration plans to make the digital images available on that first April Monday in 2012, but we didn't know how they would be provided to the public. NARA does not have enough server capacity to meet the public demand, so a contractor would be necessary to provide this service. Now we can announce who will be making the 1940 Census available to us on 2 Apr 2012. See the following press release: Parent Company Inflection Awarded Project to Make 1940 Census Records Free to the Public

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Nov. 17, 2011 --, the website that makes discovering your family history simple and affordable, has joined in partnership with the National Archives of the United States to provide the public with free digital access to the 1940 Federal Population Census beginning on April 2, 2012. In close collaboration with the National Archives, will build a website for researchers to browse, view, and download images from the 1940 Census, the most important collection of newly released U.S. genealogy records in a decade. is pleased to contribute to this momentous project, allowing researchers to digitally access the latest release of the U.S. Federal Population Census, the ultimate resource for family historians, at no cost. Census day occurred April 1, 1940 and due to the 72-year privacy restriction these records will be available to the public for the first time in 2012. 

CEO Matthew Monahan said, "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this historic moment and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the advancement of online genealogy research. Access to 1940 Census records will allow researchers to discover new family members and previously unknown connections to the past. We're happy to have the opportunity to facilitate the discovery of these records, which document over 130 million U.S. residents, more than any previous U.S. Census."

The 1940 Census will be available to the public April 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time) on a new website created in collaboration between and the National Archives. The collection will consist of 3.8 million images that the National Archives scanned from over four thousand rolls of microfilm. Public access to the images will not require payment or registration, and will be available to any person with internet access. The name and web address of the website will be announced at a later date.

Chief Digital Access Strategist for the National Archives Pamela Wright notes, "The importance of the 1940 Census cannot be underestimated. At the National Archives, we have been preparing for the launch of these records for years. We are working closely with Inflection to ensure researchers will be able to search the 1940 Census when it opens next year." At launch, researchers will be able to search the 1940 Census by address, Enumeration District (ED), and geographic location. Researchers will be able to browse images by ED number directly, or use address or geographic information to locate the appropriate census schedule.  

To learn more about and the National Archives bringing the 1940 Census online, please visit The National Archives also has published a number of helpful resources available to researchers on their website, which can help you to prepare to most effectively search the 1940 Census on April 2nd. As the project progresses, updates and additional information will be posted at Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #1940Census. 

About is the website that makes family history simple and affordable. is owned and operated by Inflection a data commerce company headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley. It has proven its leadership in the family history industry through its commitment to building powerful, easy to use tools, and helping researchers discover new family connections with its growing database of over 1.5 billion records. parent company Inflection was chosen by the National Archives to host the 1940 Census. Learn more about the project at

About the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives is a public trust upon which our democracy depends, ensuring access to essential evidence that protects the rights of American citizens, documents the actions of the government, and reveals the evolving national experience. Visit

Polish Research Leads to Learning About Centralia, Pennsylvania

In doing some research for a client, I learned about the tragic story of Centralia, in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. I was pointed to this town by a passenger manifest reporting that a Polish immigrant (my client’s ancestor) was coming to America in 1910 to meet his uncle, who lived in Centralia. At the time, Centralia apparently was a coal-mining community, and from browsing through the census records for 1910, many recent immigrants from eastern Europe were living in the area, along with earlier immigrants from England and Ireland. Most residents were employed by the local coal-mining industry.

For a quick overview of Centralia, I went to Wikipedia. The entry for Centralia provided this information:

“Centralia is a borough and ghost town in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States. Its population has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 12 in 2005, 9 in 2007, and 10 in 2010, as a result of a mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962. Centralia is one of the least-populated municipalities in Pennsylvania.

“Centralia was incorporated as a borough in 1866. The anthracite coal industry was the principal employer in the community. Coal mining continued in Centralia until the 1960s, when most of the companies went out of business. Bootleg mining continued until 1982. Strip and open-pit mining is still active in the area, and there is an underground mine employing about 40 people three miles to the west.

"All properties in the borough were claimed under eminent domain by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1992 (and all buildings therein were condemned), and Centralia's ZIP code was revoked by the Post Office in 2002. However, a few residents continue to reside there in spite of the failure of a lawsuit to reverse the eminent domain claim.”

Some maps on the Wikipedia entry for Centralia illustrate the result of the removal of buildings as a result of the mine fire. It's really very sad.

My own family history involves immigration for employment in mining, at least tangentially. When my paternal grandfather came from Finland, he apparently had plans to go to Houghton, Michigan, where there was a mining industry very early in the 20th century. He came first to Ashtabula, Ohio, however, and stayed there, instead, eventually becoming a farmer in Ashtabula County.

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