24 January 2012

Details on the Upcoming Season 3 of WDYTYA

I guess I am playing catchup here. I announced on this blog in November that NBC was renewing the series, "Who Do You Think You Are" for a third season. But the announcement of who the featured subjects would be got by me earlier this month.

I am providing the NBC press release in its entirety below. As you will see, there are twelve subjects listed in the news release, and the trailer provided on the WDYTYA website (courtesy of NBC) at http://www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are/ contains clips taken from several of the forthcoming episodes. Enjoy. I know I will.


Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen Take a Look Inside Their Family Histories on NBC's Genealogy Alternative Series Produced by Lisa Kudrow
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif.-- January 6, 2012-- Viewers can take an up-close and personal look inside the family history of some of today's most beloved and iconic celebrities when NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" returns for its third season on Friday, February 3 (8-9 p.m. ET). The celebrities who star in the series are Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

From executive producers Lisa Kudrow ("Friends," "Web Therapy") and Dan Bucatinsky ("Lipstick Jungle," "The Comeback") - through their production company Is or Isn't Entertainment and Shed Media U.S. ("Supernanny," "The Real Housewives of New York City") -- "Who Do You Think You Are?" is an adaptation of the award-winning hit British television documentary series that leads celebrities on a journey of self-discovery as they unearth their family trees that reveal surprising, inspiring and even tragic stories that often are linked to crucial events in American history.

"We're very excited about the stories we have this season. This fantastic group of people we have will take us to countries we haven't visited before which is thrilling and gives us glimpses into crucial details of history that not only shaped their families, but our world," said executive producers Kudrow and Bucatinsky. "This is what we love about this series; it's so enriching for us the viewer, as well as the participants and their families."

From Ireland's freedom fighters to the American Revolutionary War, and from the African nation of Cameroon to Bulgaria, "Who Do You Think You Are?" will reveal the fabric of humanity through everyone's place in history. Each week a different celebrity takes a journey into their family's past, traveling all over the world. While giving viewers an in-depth look into their favorite stars' family tree, each episode will expose surprising facts and life changing encounters that will unlock people's emotions, and show just how connected everyone is not only to the past, but to one another. 

Ancestry.com continues in its role as NBC and Shed Media's official partner on the series, helping to provide the exhaustive research used to build each story. "'Who Do You Think You Are?' is such a beautiful showcase for the type of discoveries people can make through family history research," said Josh Hanna, Executive Vice President for Ancestry.com. "We are extremely proud to help produce a program that inspires so many to begin their own journey of discovery and are excited to see it grow more this season."

"Who Do You Think You Are?" is produced by Shed Media U.S. in association with Is or Isn't Entertainment. Alex Graham, Kudrow, Bucatinsky, Jennifer O'Connell and Al Edgington are the executive producers. The unique, award-winning series is based on the popular BBC television documentary series from Wall to Wall Productions, created and executive-produced by Graham.

Shed Media U.S. is noted for its strong characters and memorable casting, and produces several popular television shows including: Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New York City," "Bethenny Ever After" and "It's A Brad, Brad World," Lifetime's "Supernanny," VH1's "Basketball Wives" and TLC's "All American Muslim." Is or Isn't Entertainment has been developing and producing television, features and online content since Kudrow and Bucatinsky formed their partnership in 2003. It is best known for the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-nominated series "The Comeback," which made its own comeback on The Sundance Channel in 2011. The company's critically lauded web-series "Web Therapy," won the 2010 and 2011 Webby Awards for Best Online Comedy and was just nominated for a 2012 PGA Award. 

The series made a ground-breaking web-to-TV move on Showtime this summer with 10 critically acclaimed half-hours triggering a season two pickup for Summer 2012 with an unprecedented line-up of guest stars including Meryl Streep.

Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with approximately 1.7 million paying subscribers. More than 7 billion records have been added to the site in the past 15 years. Ancestry users have created more than 29 million family trees containing over 3 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site www.ancestry.com, Ancestry.com offers localized Web sites designed for nine countries that empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

20 January 2012

Senator Brown Responds to Concern about SSDI Restrictions

In mid-December, I sent an email to my Senator, Sherrod Brown, expressing concern about his move to limit access to the Social Security Death Index. Yesterday, I received a reply from Sen. Brown explaining his beliefs on this matter. First some background:

Brown and three other senators contacted Ancestry.com and other providers of the SSDI to genealogists and requested that they stop providing access to social security records of deceased persons. What prompted them to do this was a case in which unscrupulous individuals requested and received a refund of the Internal Revenue Service for the a child that was deceased. Supposely, they were able to do this because the child's social security number was available in the SSDI. The case gained public attention when the parents filed a legitimate return and were turned down.
You can read my previous post on this issue by clicking here.
I'd suggest you read two other reports that discuss the issue: Kimberly Powell at About Genealogy (click here) and Megan Smolenyak on her Roots World blog (click here).
Dear Mr. Huskonen:

Thank you for getting in touch with me regarding the posting of Social Security numbers of deceased individuals. 
Social Security numbers of deceased individuals are available for public purchase through the Death Master File (DMF). Due to the fact that an individual’s right to privacy is extinguished upon death, websites such as Ancestry.com are able post the Social Security numbers of deceased individuals.
Unfortunately, posting such personal information can provide unscrupulous individuals with the tools needed to commit consumer fraud, including tax and credit card fraud. No family should ever have to discover that a loved-one’s personal information has been stolen and used for ill-intentioned purposes. This is why I wrote to the Ancestry.com and several other genealogy websites urging them to remove Social Security numbers from their websites. I am pleased that Ancestry.com has agreed to this request.
I have heard from a number of genealogists and historians who are concerned that the removal of Social Security numbers from genealogy websites will hinder their ability to trace family ancestry. While I understand Social Security numbers are be a valuable tool for tracking a family’s history, I believe the unintended consequences of this practice outweigh the benefits.
I appreciate you sharing your views on this issue with me. Thank you again for writing.
Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

18 January 2012

Big Attendance at WRHS Free Research Day

I'm a little slow in posting this followup. The attendance at Western Reserve Historical Society for the free research day in the Research Center in honor of Martin Luther King this past Monday was very good. At one point during the afternoon, all the computer work stations were occupied. I worked with several patrons, and they generally made some good finds.

The event was aimed at attracting researchers of African-American ancestry, and members of the African American Genealogical Society were on hand to assist patrons. 

15 January 2012

Free Research Day at Western Reserve Historical Society

Hi Northeast Ohio Gen Researchers!

I’m volunteering tomorrow at the Western Reserve Historical Society Research Center (the Library and Genealogy Center renamed) when there will be free admission from 10 am to 5 pm. (All-day parking only $5.)

The occasion is Martin Luther King Day, but anyone is welcome to come on down.

In preparation, you might want to access the Society’s revamped website, go to Research and Collections, then click on Family History, and finally on Databases. NEW: A number of funeral home databases are now available for searching online. Also the largest online database of Cuyahoga County Cemetery Inscriptions. When you find records of interest, print out and bring along the particulars so you can look at the actual records during your visit to the Library, oops Research Center.

I know I am going to look up some records in between assisting Research Center visitors.

By the way, the History Center (Museum) will be open for free as well! Check out all that’s new at WRHS at www.wrhs.org.

13 January 2012

Finding Your Roots TV Series To Start Mar. 25 on PBS

The diverse American experience as it relates to race, culture, and identity is the focus of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Presented and written by renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the series continues the quest begun in African American Lives 1 and 2 and Faces of America and carries it to an entirely new level.

Each hour of Finding Your Roots will feature two celebrity guests, who are bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden, link whether it be as old friends, through long lost relatives, or even through a common past.

This season's celebrity guests include Barbara Walters, Robert Downey, Jr., Kevin Bacon, Tyra Banks, John Legend, Michelle Rodriguez, Margaret Cho, Samuel L. Jackson and Martha Stewart, among many others.

The series will begin on Sunday, March 25, and run through Sunday, May 20. Check the PBS TV listings for times.

How to Access Cuyahoga County Historical Marriage Indexes & Records Online

Many of us with research interests in North East Ohio have utilized the Cuyahoga County Historical Marriage Index mounted on a database server called Courtview 2000.

And as many of us discovered beginning about Jan 6, the Historical Marriage Index has gone “missing in action.” The common bookmark, www.probate.cuyahogacounty.us/ml/, now takes you to the Marriage License Registration page of the Cuyahoga County Probate Court where couples can apply for a marriage license. 

Being the curious person that I am, I called the telephone number at 216-443-8920 “for further information.” At the end of a recorded message with instructions for obtaining a marriage license or a certified copy of a license, there was another message suggesting that you call another number if you had further questions. I called that number, 216-443-8947, and the clerk who answered told me that the Courtview 2000 server has been shut down. She then gave me instructions to access what is currently available in the category of historical marriage records.

You go to the current website of the probate court at http://probate.cuyahogacounty.us/home.htm. Click on the button titled “Docket & Index Search.” Your first step here is to indicate that you have “read, understand, and agreed to terms of the conditions of Use and Privacy Policy.” Once you have answered “Yes,” you will see a search window for Case Searches for all Probate cases, including marriages.

You can use Search by Case, in which you can specify Case Year, Case Category (these include Adversarial, Civil/Miscellaneous, Draw Down, Estate, Guardianship, MARRIAGE, Non-Case, Trust, and Will), and Case Number.

You more likely will use Search by Person, with search terms including First Name, Middle Name, Last Name, Party Role (of interest to us are Bride or Groom), Case Year, and Case Category (these categories are the same as named above under Search by Case).

The Last Name category must contain at least two letters. All the other search term windows can be left clear, but the search engine will return many extra search results.

Search results are provided quickly and include names and dates. Records for marriages before 1998 do not include the actual marriage date in the index entry. What we want and need, however, is provided: i.e., the volume number and page number to access the proper record on microfilm. To this extent, you would access an actual marriage record as you did when the Courtview 2000 Historical Marriage Index was available—you had to look at microfilm to learn the marriage details.

Be advised, however, that there are other new resources for finding marriage records in Cuyahoga County. Ancestry.com has recently added a new database with linked images called “Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973.” The first 130 years (i.e., through 1940) include images linked to the index, and after that, the images linked to the search engine are marriage record index pages.

With the Courtview 2000 Historical Marriage Index, once you found a marriage you were interested in, you had to go to Western Reserve Historical Society, the Cuyahoga County Archives, or the Genealogy Department of the Fairview Park Library to view the microfilm of images. Now you can acquire images of marriage records through 1940 at home if you have an Ancestry.com subscription or at a library with Ancestry Library edition. You can print out the images or save them as jpeg photo files.

From the Ancestry index, if you find marriages from 1942 through 1971 that you are interested in, you need to go to the microfilm to obtain images of the licenses and returns. WRHS has microfilm through 1960. Fairview Park Library has microfilm through Volume 200 (Oct 1949). The County Archives also has microfilm of marriage records. You also have the option of requesting certified copies from the Marriage License Bureau for $2 each. The address: Cuyahoga County Probate Court, Marriage License Department, 1 Lakeside Avenue, Room 146 (1st Floor), Cleveland, Ohio 44113.

Another source of records is www.familysearch.org. There currently are two databases offered by FamilySearch: Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950, and Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958. These databases are name indexes and images of county marriage records acquired from local courthouses, including Cuyahoga County. Currently this collection is 75% complete, and additional records will be added as they are completed. 

If anybody has more information about this subject, please post a comment here or send an email to me at whuskonen@roadrunner.com.