Sunday, August 26, 2007

Family Tree Maker Arrives in My Mailbox

I got my copy of Family Tree Maker 2008 on Friday. Because I had downloaded the FTM 2008 beta, I first uninstalled the beta as instructed using the control panel before I installed the copy that came in the mail. Then I did a direct import of a copy of my data file from FTM 16.

I got an error message during the import, went back and compacted my data file to correct any indexing errors in my file, then tried the import again. This time the file imported with no errors.

To compact your file in FTM 2006/16, go to Tools > Compact File. It prompts you to back up your file before you compact. Be sure not to skip this important step.

After the import of my data file, the program asked me to register my copy of the file and got this error message:

The email address xxxxx is associated with two or more accounts on Ancestry. Please call our toll free customer service hotline at 877-FTM-2008 (877-386-2008) for help to resolve this issue. Once resolved you can continue your Family Tree Maker registration by clicking the "Back" button below. Live phone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time, closed Saturday and Sunday. These hours do not include holidays.

It took 2 phone calls to FTM 2008 tech services for me to get all my old accounts cleaned out before I could register. I have no idea how I got so many accounts, but there was no waiting for telephone support and the techs were courteous and helpful, and I was soon registered.

While I didn't have an "Authentication with the server failed" error, I understand many people have. Tech support said that a patch will be available on Monday 8/27/2007 to fix this problem.
I also asked tech support about the genealogy reports that were missing in the beta. They told me that the reports will be coming in September as the programmers didn't meet the deadline to get them in this release.

If you have problems getting started using Family Tree Maker, try:

  • Compacting data file before importing.
  • Calling tech support to clean out duplicate accounts
  • Making sure your firewall is allowing you to access the internet FireWall help
  • Downloading patch to be released Monday
FTM 2008 is a brand new program and there are bound to be a few glitches, but I think this program has a lot of potential.

Now I need to pack for vacation. No computer, no internet for a week. Let's see if I can survive.

Family Tree Maker 2008

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ordering Pension Records from NARA Before the Price Increase

If you have been thinking about ordering US pension & military records from the National Archives, now is the time to do it. Prices will double on October 1, 2007.

Civil War Pension Files

Starting Oct. 1, NARA will charge $75 for a Civil War pension file of up to 100 pages, with for $.65 per additional page (for longer files, staff will contact you with a price quote before filling the order). NARA says the average pension ordered is 106 pages.

If you order today, a Civil War pension file is $37. Civil War pension files are a wonderful genealogy resource and well worth sending for. The ones I have received were a goldmine of information.

You can order pension records online or request order forms. Instructions for ordering Pension Files plus details about what you can expect to receive in these files is available at How to Order Civil War Pension Files

Revolutionary War Pension Files

NARA will charge $50 for pre-Civil War pension files regardless of page count, and $.75 per page to copy other records.

If you are interesting in Revolutionary War pension files, I think it makes more sense to buy a subscription to instead of ordering records from NARA at their new price. Footnote has a partnership with the National Archives to digitize the full Revoultionary pension files and other NARA records. The Footnote records can be downloaded onto your computer, saved and printed.

You also have the advantage of browsing for your ancestor's pension file to make sure you get the right person. I can't be the only person who has sent to NARA and gotten back a file for the wrong person.

At this writing, a monthly subscription to is $7.95 and an annual subscription $59.95, so it is a cheaper alternative than ordering the Revolutionary records from NARA at the new price. See Footnote subscriptions Footnote is adding 2 million records per month, so you have the added benefit of being able to find other records during your subscription time.

In addition to the Revolutionary War pension file of my 5th great-grand uncle, I found some very interesting and unexpected family records at Footnote.

Spanish-American War Pension Files

Some, but not all , of the Spanish-American War (1898) pension files are held at NARA. Others are at the Veteran's Administration. The NARA price increase includes the Spanish-American War pension files held at NARA.

There is more information about ordering Spanish-American War pension files and how to determine which repository is holding your soldier's files at Ordering Spanish American Pension Records

I've got a few Civil War & Spanish American War pension files I have been procrastinating sending for. This price increase has given me the needed push to do it sooner rather than later.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ancestry Irish Fest

This came in my email today from and I thought I would pass it on. I like the way that is now offering a 3 day free access with no credit card required. Yup, that's what it says when you click on Ancestry IrishFest Free Access . 3 day Free Access

Can’t make it to Ireland? Irish Fest is coming to you.

August 16-19th

The Henry W. Maier Festival Park
200 North Harbor Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Celebrate your Irish heritage at Irish Fest 2007, the world’s largest Irish festival outside of Ireland. It’s your chance to enjoy Irish music, culture, food and traditions — and visit the Ancestry booth to learn about your ancestors from the Emerald Isle. We’ll answer your questions and give you free access to Irish historical records too.

Can’t make the festival? Celebrate your roots right at
home. Find Irish ancestors at and get three days of free access to all our collections.

You can also browse our selection of Irish family history books at theancestrystore.

You can read more about the Irish Fest at

Take advantage of's IrishFest 3 day Free Access You'd be amazed at how much searching you can accomplish in 3 days.

Family Tree Maker 2008 Beta Reports and Books

NOTE: Family Tree Maker 2008 has been released and is no longer in beta or available for download.

**The Genealogy software program Family Tree Maker 2008 is available at The Ancestry Store and is constantly being updated and improved. **

I am still giving the FTM 2008 beta a test drive. I have already talked about my :

So far, from what I have seen, I like working in the new FTM 2008. It has many new features, and after getting used to the new layout, I find it is easier to use than the previous versions.

Yesterday I started looking at the books and reports.

Reports and Charts
According to the help section, the charts and reports available are on the FTM 2008 beta are:

  • Pedigree Chart,

  • Descendant Chart,

  • Relationship Chart,

  • Individual Report,

  • Custom Report,

  • LDS Ordinance Report,

  • Research Note Report,

  • Task List Report,

  • Place Usage,

  • Media Item Report,

  • Photo Album,

  • Media Usage Report,

  • Source Usage Report,

  • Source Bibliography,

  • Documented Facts Report,

  • Family Group Sheet,

  • Kinship Report,

  • Marriage Report,

  • Parentage Report,

  • Outline Descendant Report.

  • Workspace Report.

The most interesting new chart to me is the Relationship Chart which shows the connecting people between two related individuals in tree format. It is a great visual chart to send to family members who don't understand relationships such as First cousin 2x Removed in-law. (That is the name of the relationship listed on the first Relationship Chart I created.)

Most reports can be toggled to either show all individuals, immediate family or selected individuals.

The Genealogy Reports, the Register and Ahnentafel Reports, are not in the beta but I have heard they will be added at a later point. Great reporting has always been the hallmark of FTM, so I suspect that the genealogy reports and other reports will continue to be added even after the release. Let the developers of FTM at the email address at Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA know if there are any reports you want to see added.

Reports can be printed, saved, or shared. You can create a report as a PDF, CVS, RTF, HTML or create the report as an image in BMP, EMF, BMP, WMF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, or TIFF format You can print it, export it, send it to Ancestry or Ancestry Press, or email it from within the program to family, friends or yourself.

I used this email feature to send myself reports to my gmail account to permanently archive them. Having lived through a lot of hurricanes in the last few years, I believe that I can never have to0 many backups in different formats. But the internal email also simplifies mailing reports to family.

When I downloaded the first FTM2008 beta, the program said that books were "coming soon". In the latest beta, the books are through the free AncestryPress which is also in beta. This makes the books in FTM 2008 beta quite different from the books produced from FTM16.

With AncestryPress, you design customized pages online and print them at home. Since these books are so different from previous versions of FTM, you might want to head over to take a look at AncestryPress and give it a try. You don't have to have the FTM2008 beta to try AncestryPress. If you have a tree at the site, you can create a book at AncestryPress from that. With AncestryPress, you create pages of the book from your own design or one of the design templates provided. You will find individual timelines, family group sheets, military draft cards, census records, and passenger list records templates. Here is a look at the templates. I think the AncestryPress templates will make very attractive books.

There are disadvantages I see to books from Ancestry Press. Because the books are so different from older versions of FTM16, these FTM16 and older books do not transfer to FTM2008. At least, I couldn't get mine to transfer. If you have a lot of complicated books already created in older versions of FTM, this is a consideration. FTM tech support have been telling callers that FTM 16 style books will be available in a later FTM release. To me that means that they will be continuing to work on 2008. Another consideration is that AncestryPress books are designed online so someone with a dial-up connection may have difficulty creating the books.

When you create a book, you upload your tree to the Ancestry Press and you have to unclick the button to keep your tree private. If you forget, you can go back to manage tree to make your tree private. When I unclick the button so that I do not make the tree public, this is the message I get :

When you choose not to share your tree, you potentially miss out on opportunities to collaborate with other members and grow your tree. Even if you don't share your tree, other members can still learn if a specific deceased individual is in your tree, in addition to the birth year and birthplace of the person and your username (but no personal information about you). They can then contact you anonymously through Ancestry's Connection Service to request more information. Keep in mind that members who want to learn from your tree may also have helpful information about your tree to offer you in exchange.

I uploaded my tree from FTM2008 to try out the new books. Each book that was automatically generated contains up to 4 generations. The book starts with a four generation pedigree chart followed by a family group sheet for each family and a timeline for each person. Each person's notes are added to the timeline. The notes section on the timeline wasn't large enough to hold all my notes, so I created a blank page and copied the rest of my notes there. Everything on each page can be edited. Just double click on the item and it can be edited, moved, or deleted. Pages for records can be added to the book.

I decided to try a passenger list record template to add to my book. I pulled the copy of the Ellis Island passenger list and image of the ship from my file (both of which came from my subscription). Then I copied a sentence from my notes about the immigration.

I could play with the layout and make the images any size. I could choose to position the images any place on the page. I cropped most of the black edges off the passenger lists. I changed the font and made it bold. The template is very flexible.

Because it is in beta, the AncestryPress website lists changes and improvements that are coming soon. These include "photo books, family history books, calendars, project sharing gallery, posters, greeting cards, gift products, professional printing and binding, additional page sizes, more themes and backgrounds, more templates".

Most importantly, the site lists "books from Family Tree Maker® reports and charts" as a coming soon improvement. Right now, each book created in FTM 2008 builds a 4 generation "ancestors of" tree or a combination tree of "ancestors of and descendants of". More generations can be added, but you build the book 4 generations at a time. With this, I can see that while creating multiple books to encompass every one in my tree might give me a lot of flexibility when I distribute books to various family members, it would become very unwieldy if I had a large family tree file. To be fair, Ancestry Press is still in beta, and they say "In the future, we tend to offer users more flexibility in selecting the number of generations that are automatically included in a book."

I think AncestryPress beta has a lot of potential but there is still a lot still marked as coming soon. Things are being added quickly at Ancestry Press, however. Yesterday, I wanted to try a combination tree which was marked as "coming soon" and today it is available.

There is a feedback button available on the upper right corner of your AncestryPress pages. Be sure to use it to give your opinions while Ancestry Press in is beta. Ancestry Press is just beginning so please share your thoughts and suggestions and help them keep making improvements.

Here is a Flash Demo of Ancestry Press which gives a visual tour . Seeing books being created gives a much better idea of how it works than my description.

Family Tree Maker 2008

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Pennsylvania Archives

Search Military Records - Fold3 has the complete Pennsylvania Archives online for free access. The free access is on a permanent basis.

The Pennsylvania Archives were originally published as a 10 series of historical records in 135 volumes, more than 100,000 pages, covering the initial colonial settlement through the Civil War. The series contains essential records including military, tax, marriage, and land records, as well as documents from American history covering the Revolutionary War and the Whiskey Rebellion. It is great to have these archives online.

The Pennsylvania Archives show four important historical times:
  • Early Pennsylvania settlements, from 1664 to 1780.
  • The Revolutionary War (1775–1789).
  • The Whiskey Rebellion (1794).
  • More Pennsylvania history, through 1880.
If you have Pennsylvania ancestors, especially early Pennsylvania ancestors, it is worthwhile to check these out.

It is difficult to browse the archives since they are only listed as Series 1, Series 2, Volume I, and Volume II, etc. But you can search just within the Pennsylvania Archives. has some other databases that are always free. You can read about them at Footnote Always Free Databases.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Family Tree Maker 2008 Beta WebSearch

NOTE: Family Tree Maker 2008 has been released and is no longer in beta or available for download.

**The Genealogy software program
Family Tree Maker 2008 is available at The Ancestry Store and is constantly being updated and improved. **

A new version of the Family Tree Maker 2008 Public Beta was released on July 25th at Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA. If you have a fast Internet connection, you may want to download the newest beta, give it a test run, and then send your opinions to the email address listed at Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA. This is the genealogy community's chance to let the Family TreeMaker people know your thoughts and suggestions upfront. (Hint: if you have previously downloaded the beta, delete the old beta before downloading the new version) .

FTM has had a complete program rebuild from the ground up. If you have been using FTM for a long while as I have (about 12 years), you will see that the FTM 2008 interface looks completely different. I believe that with version 2008 they are building a strong foundation for the next generation of FTM. Because it is a new program, and not just an add-on upgrade to the old version, some things are done differently than before, so you might consider downloading the beta to check it out.

I've been using the Beta quite a bit and have given my My First Thoughts about FTM 2008 and extensive details about my Additional FTM 2008 Thoughts after using the program for a week.

I like the new FTM 2008. It has many new features, and I find it is easier to use than the previous versions. Now when I go back to FTM16, it seems a bit old-fashioned and clunky-looking in comparison. I especially like the new screens of FTM 2008 which make it easier to see everything in one glance. The index is always in view. The family view now combines the family tree and family group. I like the combined views because it is a time saver not to be constantly clicking back and forth from one screen to another. And it makes it makes it much easier to see everything that I have for a person in my tree with one glance.

One feature of the new FTM 2008 I have been playing with this week is the WebSearch. FTM2008 WebSearch is not focused just on records. The new webclipper enables the user to incorporate information from any web source into your tree. This FTM2008 WebSearch searches,, as well as Google, Yahoo, MSN and any website you would like to add to your Personal Favorite Sites. I added and a few other websites that I access all the time. Adding my favorite websites to the program reminds me to check each of these websites for each person in my tree.

FTM 2008 WebSearch is much more than just an Internet search. The WebSearch actually integrates results into your file - you can merge any data found on any Internet site into your tree with no retyping and, in addition, archive a copy of the web page. I'm not talking about merging other trees into my tree but rather merging actual data into my tree. As more and more important datasets become available on the Internet, the more useful this becomes.

Family Tree Maker’s Web Clipping feature is pretty nifty. You gather data and images from the web and merge to your tree. Highlight the text from the web, a menu appears in FTM, select the fact type and the selected text is copied to the Search result detail pane, ready to merge. If you highlight the place name, it is automatically put into the place field in the program. If you highlight the date, it is automatically put into the date field. No retyping and no typos.

You can do the same with images and pictures on the web. As you move the mouse pointer over an image on the web page, a frame appears around the image. Click the image and it is copied to the Search result detail pane, ready to merge.

Here is an example of an image of my grandfather's naturalization Declaration of Intent that is online at a NJ county library site. Using the webclipper, I was able to click on the image and copy it to FTM 2008. The top arrow is pointing to the webclipper feature. The bottom arrow shows the fact that was automatically added when I highlighted the date that was in text on the previous page and selected the Naturalization Fact.

If you find a matching record at site, you can merge the facts into your tree by clicking the Merge button. Along with the facts, FTM 2008 links source information to each fact. If the record has an associated image, such as a census image, it is linked to the source and merged into the Media Collection. Data and sourcing is merged into your tree with no retyping of data.

I like FTM2008 but everyone has different needs and wants in a genealogy program . People have different sized family tree files and different computer configurations. People may use different features than I do. For example, I didn't try the merge feature of FTM 2008 since that is something I never use, but if it is important to you, consider downloading the beta to see if it works for you the way you want.

I think it is great that the FTM 2008 beta has been made available for the public to try before they buy. Because this program is different from previous versions, give yourself time to give the program a good workout to see how things function.

Family Tree Maker 2008