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AfriGeneas News & Announcements
October 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

NARA and FamilySearch Team Up to Digitize and Index Historic Documents

23 October 2007

Landmark agreement will lead to the digitization of millions of genealogical and historical documents

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States and FamilySearch today announced an agreement that will lead to the digitization of millions of historical documents over time. The bulk of the digital images and related indices will be freely accessible through as well as 4,500 family history centers worldwide, or at the National Archives and its Regional Centers.

The agreement is the result of several years of discussions between the two organizations and NARA's new long-term strategy for digitizing and making available major segments of its vast collection online to the public. Ultimately, the records digitized by FamilySearch will consist of court, military, land, and other government records that include information of genealogical significance for family historians. The records date as early as 1754 to as late as the 1990s.

Almost all of the records in the National Archives currently are not readily accessible to patrons who visit the National Archives or one of its regional facilities. The newly digitized and indexed records produced under the agreement will be available online—greatly increasing patron access.

"For a number of years, we have had a very productive relationship with FamilySearch," said Professor Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States. "This agreement expands our relationship to enable online access to some of the most popular and voluminous records in our holdings. It is an exciting step forward for our institutions and for the American people," he added.

Under the new agreement, FamilySearch will be operating highly specialized digital cameras 5 days a week at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. FamilySearch intends to extend the digitization services to select regional facilities at a later date. That means there will be a continuous flow of new data for genealogy buffs to explore for years to come. It also means FamilySearch will be able to digitize the thousands of microfilms it has already created from NARA's holdings—providing access to millions of images for genealogists to search from the convenience of their home computers with Internet access.

The first fruit of this effort is a portion of a very large collection of Civil War records, already underway. In this pilot project, FamilySearch will digitize the first 3,150 Civil War widow pension application files (approximately 500,000 pages). After digitization, these historical documents will be indexed and posted online by with the indices also available for free on FamilySearch intends to do all 1,280,000 of these files over the coming years.

James Hastings, director of Access Programs at the National Archives, said, "For decades the National Archives has helped thousands of researchers gain access to this rich trove of records in Washington. Thanks to this agreement with FamilySearch, this valuable information will now be available to millions of users around the world in a far more accessible format."

Wayne Metcalfe, director of FamilySearch Record Services, said, "No single group can preserve, organize, and make available all the information contained in the world's important genealogical documents—like those found in the National Archives of the United States. Such immense undertakings require the cooperation of record custodians, researchers, and specialized services. FamilySearch is committed to being an integral partner in this global effort."

FamilySearch is the largest international organization of its kind, working with national archives and record custodians worldwide to preserve and increase access to records of genealogical significance. It is currently working on projects in over 45 countries.


Posted by Staff on 10/25/07 at 10:39 am EST

Friday, October 19, 2007

Barack ObamaBarack Obama and Dick Cheney are Cousins

WASHINGTON (AP) — Though they may spar across the political aisle, Vice President Dick Cheney is close enough to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama to call him "cousin."

Eighth cousin, that is.

Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, revealed this tantalizing bit of political trivia during a television interview Tuesday.

She said she uncovered the long-ago ties between the two while researching her ancestry for her latest book, Blue Skies, No Fences, a memoir about growing up in Wyoming.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: USA Today

Posted by Staff on 10/19/07 at 6:32 pm EST

Thursday, October 18, 2007 to be Acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors for $300 Million

The Generations Network, Parent Company of, to be Acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors

Investment Will Support and Accelerate Company's Strategic Direction and Growth Plan


PROVO, Utah, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Generations Network, Inc., today announced that Spectrum Equity Investors will lead an investment of $300 million to purchase a majority interest in the company. Spectrum, a private equity firm based in Menlo Park and Boston, has been a shareholder in The Generations Network since 2003. Following the transaction, Vic Parker and Ben Spero from Spectrum will serve on the company's new board of directors, along with Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network. Additional terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition is subject to customary regulatory and closing conditions and is expected to close in 2007.

The Generations Network's portfolio of sites and products includes and seven international Ancestry sites,,,, Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Magazine. The company's current management team will continue to lead the company.

"As an investor in The Generations Network for the past four years, we have watched the company revolutionize the family history category by leveraging the power of the Internet to make it more accessible and easy for anyone," said Vic Parker, Managing Partner, Spectrum Equity Investors. " and are clear category leaders in the growing and rapidly evolving family history and family networking markets. We are excited to partner with The Generations Network management team to continue growing this truly unique company that has the power to impact users at a very personal and emotional level."

The Generations Network properties have more than 900,000 paying subscribers and receive 8.2 million worldwide unique visitors per month (comScore Media Metrix, August 2007). In the last 18 months, the company has solidified its position as one of the largest and most profitable subscription businesses online with success in several areas:

  • is the world's leading online family history resource, with more than 5 billion names from historical records, unmatched and proprietary search technologies and an engaged and passionate community of more than 2.5 million active members.

  • A redesigned experience has transformed an online research tool into a platform for aggregating the world's family history memories. Since late July 2006, more than 3.8 million family trees have been created on, over 330 million names added to Ancestry Family Trees, and more than 3.5 million individual photos, stories, or scanned documents have been uploaded by members.

  • now boasts the only completely indexed online U.S. Federal Census Collection (1790-1930), the most comprehensive online compilation of U.S. ship passenger lists (1820-1960), the largest online collection of African American historical documents and the most comprehensive online collection of U.S. military records.

  • Beyond the United States, the Ancestry global network now includes local country sites for the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, France and Sweden.

  • The recent launch of now extends the Ancestry service into the rapidly growing field of genetic genealogy.

  • AncestryPress, a digital publishing platform integrated into, now gives every family the ability to create completely unique, professionally printed family history books.

  • Family Tree Maker 2008, the No. 1-selling family history software package, is now available online and in major retail stores throughout North America and Europe.

  • The redesigned site now has new features, providing families everywhere a safe, private, and free family home on the Web.
"Spectrum Equity has been an incredibly supportive and strategic-minded investor in our company for several years, so I am thrilled to have them acquire this majority interest in The Generations Network," said Tim Sullivan, company President and CEO. "2007 has been the company's most successful and profitable year to date, and 2008 looks even more promising as we grow our core businesses further, expand our global presence, and innovate with new products and services that help us realize our mission to connect families across distance and time. I appreciate Spectrum's vote of confidence in our direction and vision, and I am excited to work even more closely with Vic Parker and Ben Spero to continue to transform this amazing and unique business into a truly great company."

Lehman Brothers acted as financial advisor to The Generations Network, Inc. in the transaction.

Source: The Generations Network

Posted by Staff on 10/18/07 at 3:18 pm EST

Thursday, October 11, 2007

10,000 Volunteers Sought to Put Mexican, Other Latin American Family History Online

SALT LAKE CITY 11 October 2007 FamilySearch - the world's largest repository of genealogical records - is calling for 10,000 volunteers who can read both English and Spanish to help index Mexican, Argentine and other Latin American records for the Internet.

FamilySearch is embarking on a massive initiative to digitally preserve and index millions of Latin American records that are now difficult to access because they are located on microfilm or in an archive.

The first target is the Mexican census of 1930. People interested in finding their ancestors in that census now have to hunt among 506 rolls of microfilm at select research facilities. When the project is finished within about one year from now, people with Mexican ancestry will be able to search for relatives easily from their computers at home.

The project is being launched in cooperation with the National Archives of Mexico.

Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for FamilySearch, said the volunteers could spend as little as 30 minutes a week indexing records from their home computers. Volunteers should register at, which will allow them to download one batch (one census page) at a time. Volunteers simply type in the information highlighted on the digital image. Each batch should take about 30 minutes.

The completed product will be a free, fully searchable online index of the 1930 Mexico Census, and it will be linked to the original images at Digital images of the original census can be viewed currently at

"The 1930 census project will be the first fully indexed census for Mexico," Nauta said. "When finished, the database will be a tremendous asset to family historians with Mexican roots."

Nauta said that census records are especially valuable because they include a large portion of the population and can provide details about individuals which may not be available on some church and civil records.

"The 1930 Mexico Census is priceless to genealogists because it is the most recent, publicly accessible census for Mexico. It can provide an ancestor's age, birth year, religion, birthplace and occupation, explain an individual's relationship to family members and provide other family information," Nauta added.

The 10,000 bilingual indexers will be added to a growing army of volunteers that will soon top 100,000, well ahead of year-end targets.

Over the past months, FamilySearch has been preparing digital images of the various census pages and many other records for placement on the Internet. However, without an index for the material, family-tree enthusiasts would still have to go through the pages one-by-one looking for their ancestors.

"Once indexed, the records are searchable in seconds, just like looking up a name in a phone book - except quicker, easier and online," Nauta said.

The 1930 Mexico Census marks the first Latin American project for the Web-based FamilySearch Indexing program. In addition, FamilySearch indexers just completed the Argentina census of 1895 and will soon start on that country's 1855 census.

A four-year project to digitize historical land and property documents and wills in Paraguay has just begun, and civil records in Nicaragua will become part of the indexing program within 30 days.

FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members consider it a religious obligation to identify their families. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources, accessible through, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries.

Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Posted by Staff on 10/11/07 at 9:08 pm EST

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bliss Broyard Writes About Her Father's Hidden Life, Race and Family Secrets

September 27, 2007

A Daughter on Her Father’s Bloodlines and Color Lines


After the literary critic Anatole Broyard died in 1990, his family arranged a memorial reception at a suburban Connecticut yacht club. It was a club that claimed to have no black members until, after Mr. Broyard’s death, his mixed racial lineage was made known. After that, the club cited him as evidence of integration.

What was it like for Mr. Broyard to keep his secret in such surroundings? For a self-made man who had come so far in life, reading so many books in the process, did the clubhouse’s view of Long Island Sound bring to mind the grand illusions of “The Great Gatsby”?

Not likely, says his smart, tough-minded daughter, Bliss Broyard, in “One Drop,” an investigative memoir about her father’s life. (Mr. Broyard was a longtime book critic and editor for The New York Times and an essayist for its Book Review.) As this fascinating, insightful book makes clear, Mr. Broyard left a legacy of racial confusion and great autobiographical material, not necessarily in that order.

Ms. Broyard shares her father’s bracingly unsentimental spirit, to the point where she knows that he had none of Jay Gatsby’s self-congratulatory outlook or sense of American tragedy. More to the point, she says, “It never seemed to occur to him that someone might want to keep him out.”

When a guest at the memorial service noticed three light-skinned black people sitting with the Broyards, he was surprised that the family had so much help. But those weren’t the servants; they were black Broyards who had been kept at arm’s length by Anatole, whose birth certificate listed him as white. By the time he got to Connecticut, after early years in New Orleans, a Brooklyn boyhood and time spent in the Army and Greenwich Village, he no longer talked about his lineage. Black friends assumed he was black. Whites didn’t ask what they thought of as rude questions. It was a rare moment in the Broyard household — say, when dinner guests realized that Bliss and her brother, Todd, knew nothing about their black heritage — when race seemed to make any difference at all.

Only after her father died did Ms. Broyard begin to realize how little she understood. And so she began, in ways that elevate “One Drop” far above the usual family-revisionist memoir, to make up for lost time. She knew no Broyards in New York, but found plenty in Los Angeles, even bringing them together for a family reunion as an early step in her process of discovery. What made this gathering tricky is that some Broyards regarded themselves as white and others as black, drawing vehemently different conclusions from similar sets of facts.

Read the rest of the story . . .


Posted by Staff on 10/02/07 at 12:00 am EST

6 Jul 2003 :: 11 Oct 2007
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