Thursday, August 30, 2007


Below is the September issue of the GenClass Newsletter
Long Time, No See? by Linda Rakita

Tip of the Month: City Directories.

Upcoming classes in September and October

Welcome back to the GenClass newsletter! T

his month's spotlight ison finding lost family and friends. If this is your first time reading this newsletter, welcome! Our monthly newsletter includes a featured articleby an expert GenClass instructor, a tip of the month,and a list of upcoming courses. If you haven't checked out the great GenClass offerings,why not do it now?

Long Time, No See?
by Linda Rakita

Have you ever wondered what happened to your best friend fromgrade school? Did a favorite uncle vanish years ago? Do you longto reminisce with a military buddy? How about reconnect with along lost love? Would you like to voice your appreciation to afavorite teacher whose whereabouts are now unknown? Recall youthful memories with your first roommate? Or are you an adoptee, adoptive parent or birth parent longing to learn the secrets hidden behind that closed door? We all have at least a few people from our past who havemade a lasting impression upon our hearts. Dear family and friends with whom we yearn to reconnect. But how do we find them? Where do we look? What tools do we need? Who will help melearn how to search? And oh gosh! What in the world do wesay to them when we do make contact! The answers to these and other questions are close at hand. offers online investigative courses that walk you through each step of your unique journey and intopost-reunion. In eight easy to understand lessons accessible from the privacy of your home, learn the tricks of thetrade and the systems and secrets of an investigative search specialist. Eight chats provide the forum for any questions and concerns that arise. Many who yearn for reunion spend thousands of dollars to hire an investigator for one specific search.

Offered through at a fraction of that cost, you can learn to become your own investigator, equipped with the knowledge and tools to conduct as manysearches as you wish. Once you learn the ins and outs of searching,the sky is the limit!

Before you know it, friends and family will be asking youto look for special people from their pasts. Your little brother wants to findhis junior high school wrestling coach. Your widowed mother is curious about her first love. Your spouse wants to see what can be foundon the contractor hired to repave the driveway. And your best friend hasbeen begging you to find his zany Uncle Murray...

What about you? If you have someone who lives lovingly in your memory(and honestly, who doesn't?), come join our class for the trip of a lifetime! Our next Adoption Investigative Course and Lost Friends andFamily Investigative Courses begin September 3, 2007.

Why not enroll today and learn how to turn that question markinto an exclamation point!
Tip of the Month:City Directories
Are you looking for someone in your generation or a previousgeneration who has moved and for whom you can find noforwarding address? Try city directories and look at the neighbors to contact. Some may still be there and may bein touch with their old friends! See


SEPTEMBER 2007: Classes start Monday, September 3, 2007

* Adoption Investigative Class: Detailed search advice and assistance for successfully locating andreuniting adoptees and birth families.

* Canadian Research - Part1: This course does more than get you started. It takes you deepinto some of the country's best records - many on the Internet.

* Family Tree Maker 16 - Advanced: Advanced features, like books, trees, reports and web sites.

* Lost Friends and Family Investigative Class: Detailed search advice and assistance on the methods to use forsuccessfully tracing "lost" relatives and friends.

* Native American Genealogy:Learn how to start your research for your Native American Ancestors.

* Salt Lake City - Part 1: Access the largest genealogical library in the world. Perform searches, knowledgeably; and understand what you've found.

* Write Your Family History Step-by-Step: How to write your own family history, - a detailed, step-by-step guide.

OCTOBER 2007: Classes start October 4, 2007

* Adoption Investigative Class: Detailed search advice and assistance for successfullylocating and reuniting adoptees and birth families.

* Canadian Research - Part2: This course picks up where Part 1 ended. Here you will learn toknowledgeably use even more detailed records,many of which are on-line.

* Jump Start Your Genealogy! Just where do you start if you are interestedin your family tree? - detailed instructions.

* Lost Friends and Family Investigative Class: Detailed search advice and assistance on the methods to usefor successfully tracing "lost" relatives and friends.

* Salt Lake City - World's largest Genealogical Library- Part 2: Continuing on from Part 1, this course takes you into the sections that most people never use - and what a mistake that is!

* Scottish Genealogy: Learn about civil registration, censuses, church records, handwriting,Soundex systems, reference books, an introduction to Internet research. Learn more at for a class at
That's all for now, until next month!
-- LISA ALZO, Newsletter Editor

[ GenClass Information ]
The GenClass Newsletter is brought to you by GenClass, Online Genealogy Classes To unsubscribe, or for any other question or suggestion, contact Micha Reisel, GenClass Administrator at

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Partners With World Vital Records, Inc. To Increase Access To A Half-Billion Records

If, like me, you frequently use historical newspapers for your genealogical research, then you should be as pleased as I was by the following announcement from World Vital Records. I can't wait to search these newly added records.

Provo, UT, August 27, 2007 ---, the largest newspaper database available online, has partnered with World Vital Records Inc.’s Web sites ( and in a unique way to provide increased access to a half billion records from newspapers ranging from 1759-1923.
"Historical newspapers contain valuable information about our ancestors, which may not have been preserved in any other form. By making these records easily accessible, we hope they can become a part of someone's family history," said Jeff Kiley, General Manager,

The uniqueness of this partnership stems from the way in which World Vital Records, Inc. will extract vital record information from the newspapers and place it on its site.
“We wanted to have vital record information from early American newspapers. has allowed us to extract this information from their newspapers that cover the first 160-years of their collection,” said Yvette Arts, Director, Content Acquisition, World Vital Records, Inc.

With this partnership, will provide several million pages of vital record data (approximately a half-billion online records), which will be available for subscribers at

“In my mind, this collection of newspapers is as valuable as the censuses because it contains similar information, with the occasional benefit of additional family data. I’m really excited about this partnership and for the increased access it will allow our viewers to experience,” said David Lifferth, President, World Vital Records, Inc.

Once the material from has been launched, the data will be available for free at for a ten-day period. The first release of the data will include 40 million records. Subsequent releases will follow totaling more than a half-billion records. Some links to the data will also be available at (World Vital Records Inc.’s new genealogy social network).

“Reading these newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries are the closest we can get to actually experiencing that time period ourselves. Whether a newspaper helps to uncover a birth record or simply someone's life profession, it can provide valuable facts that help solve those unanswered questions,” said Leslie Fredericks-Leamon, Web Marketing Strategist,

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to Blogging

I've been away from this blog for a few days. Things have been just a little bit hectic with various project deadlines. I spent two days in Cleveland last week doing research for two new book projects for Arcadia Publishing. I can't reveal the details, but I have a great co-author and am excited about these two books which don't have a targeted release date yet. Our deadline is March 2008 so I will post updates once available.

While I was in Cleveland I also attended a surprise 75th birthday party for my Uncle Mike--it was a great party and I enjoyed catching up with family, and the guest of honor was truly surprised!

Now, back to the grindstone. I hope to be able to post items on a more regular basis.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

September Book Signing

Alby Oxenreiter and I will be signing copies of our new book, Sports Memories of Western Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at the Waterfront Barnes & Noble, Homestead, PA at 7:00 p.m. We would love to meet you so if you live in the Pittsburgh area stop by!

I'll also be lecturing on "Immigrant Cluster Communities in Southwestern, Pennsylvania" the day after, Thursday, September 20th, to the Historical Society of South Fayette in Morgan, PA at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New York Times Business Article on Latest Genealogy Tools

A friend of mine sent me a link to this article on the NY Times Business page (posted August 18, 2007) which talks about some of the popular genealogy tools creating "a need to know." Among those mentioned: DNA testing,, FamilySearch, social networking site and others.

Click here to read the article.

Friday, August 17, 2007

FGS Updates

If, like me, you were unable to make it to the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Ft. Wayne, IN this week, you can keep up with all the big announcements and happenings through various blogs: GenealogyBlog (ncludes some pictures); Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter; and general details available at the FGS Web site. There are probably others, but these are the ones I have been reading.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Positive Review

As an author you always hope that your final product has lived up to your expectations. When I first proposed the idea of my newest book, Sports Memories of Western Pennsylvania to Arcadia Publishing, I had a very specific vision. I did not want the book to be "just another book to sing the praises of the successful professional sports teams from Pittsburgh." I was inspired to write this book for local hometown athletes like my father, who played sports not because of the money, but because they loved the game. I wanted to write a book that focused on the historical and local athletes but still noted the championships which earned Pittsburgh the bragging rights as the "City of Champions."

So, I was pleased to read the first review of the book in the McKeesport Daily News. The reviewer wrote: "Finally, an entirely different sports book has been released. Sports Memories of Western Pennsylvania showcases pictures from Pittsburgh's sporting past, but does so in a nostalgic fashion that many older readers will appreciate..." "The rare photos featuring local teams are what make this book a keeper."

Click here to read the full review. This is more than I could have hoped for and made all of the effort and hard work both Alby Oxenreiter and I put into this project more than worth it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Book Released

I am very pleased to announce today the release of my newest book, Sports Memories of Western Pennsylvania (Arcadia Publishing).

My co-author for this book is Pittsburgh sportscaster, Alby Oxenreiter. This book has been 1-1/2 years in the making and a true labor of love. I dedicated this book to the memory of my father, John Alzo, who was a standout on the Duquesne High School Basketball team in 1942-43 and locally famous semi-professional basketball player in Pittsburgh in the 1940s and 1950s.

It was an honor to work with Alby Oxenreiter on this book. We will be appearing together at our first book signing at the Waterfront Barnes & Noble, Homestead, PA on Wednesday, September 19th at 7:00 p.m. for the Mifflin Township Historical Society's "What's Your History Night." If you live in or around Pittsburgh, we hope you'll be able to join us for our discussion and signing that evening.

The publication of this book is bittersweet--finally a book my father would want to read and unfortunately he is not here to do so. But, I hope that he is looking down and smiling!

This one's for you, Dad!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Reunions Magazine Podcasts

I've been a fan of Reunions Magazine for years, both as a subscriber, and as a frequent contributor of articles about my own family's reunion and tips for organizing events. I was delighted to find out that they now have downloadable podcasts featuring editor, Edith Wagner, available from their web site. Each episode discusses a specific aspect of reunions/reunion planning.

I love podcasts because I can listen to them on my computer or take them with me on my MP3 player when I take my daily walk or when I am on the road. Click here to access the podcast page and follow the instructions on how to download and listen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Starbucks Will Sell StoryCorps' Oral History Collection

I came across this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I am a big fan of oral history (I embarked on this back in 1990 by taping interviews with my family members--this was before it became a popular component of family history research) and think it is great to have StoryCorps' collection available to consumers.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Associated Press

SEATTLE -- A year after adding books to its growing entertainment lineup, Starbucks Corp. said yesterday it will soon begin selling its third pick, a collection of 50 stories in an oral history project compiled on book and CD...

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cornell University is Newest Partner in Google's Library Project

As someone who is familiar with all of the great resources available via Cornell University's Library system, I was quite pleased to see this recent announcement on a blog by William Rucklidge:

Cornell University becomes newest partner in Library Project

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 at 10:32 AM
Posted by William Rucklidge, Software Engineer

"I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."
-- Ezra Cornell, 1865.

As a graduate student at Cornell University, I spent many hours in the library stacks. Cornell's collections are outstanding in breadth and depth; there, it seemed to me, any student could indeed "find instruction in any study." So I'm especially excited to share the news that Cornell has joined our Library Project aspart of its educational mission. The collection housed at the extraordinary Mann Library will be digitized, making it possible for people everywhere to search and discover books on environmental science, public policy, natural resources, and much more."

In its quest to be the world's land-grant university, Cornell strives to serve the scholarly and research needs of those beyond the campus," said Cornell President David J. Skorton. "This project advances Cornell's ability to provide global access to our library resources and to build human capacity across the globe."This is tremendous news, and I hope people around the world will gain as much joy and enrichment from Cornell's raries as I did.

To see what a Google Books Library Project looks like, click here.

"When you click on a search result for a book from the Library Project, you'll see basic bibliographic information about the book, and in many cases, a few snippets – a few sentences showing your search term in context. If the book is out of copyright, you’ll be able to view and download the entire book. In all cases, you'll see links directing you to online bookstores where you can buy the book and libraries where you can borrow it."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Have You Checked Out World Vital Records?

If you haven't checked out search site, perhaps the article below will inspire you to do so. WVR traffic has surged 400%. The subscription price is right too - if you enroll today you get 2 years for $49.95. Click here for more information.

Quantcast now ranks among top 10,000 most popular Internet sites

Provo, UT, August 09, 2007 --( According to, a popular traffic reporting service, is now ranked in the top 10,000 of the most popular sites on the Internet (9,100th to be exact). The number of unique visitors to the site has increased more than 400% since January 2007. “We are gaining incredible momentum as we form partnerships with genealogy content providers from all over the world. We intend to become one of the top 1,000 Web sites within the next year,” said Paul Allen, CEO, adds at least one new database every day and currently has more than 1,500 databases containing nearly half a billion online names and records. The company has signed agreements that will bring an additional 9,000 databases online in the next few months. Much of the content at comes from partners such as Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, Ellis Island Foundation, SmallTownPapers®, and Accessible Archives.“We continue to form partnerships every month with content providers from around the globe. We collaborate with partners by indexing and hosting their databases and then promoting that content through search engines and our affiliate network,” said Yvette Arts, Director of Content Acquisition. “Our goal is to offer wider public access to historical and vital records.” About World Vital Records, Inc. Founded in 2006, by Paul Allen and several key members of the original team, World Vital Records, Inc. provides affordable genealogy databases and family history networking tools. With thousands of databases including birth, death, military, census, and parish records, makes it easy for everyone and enjoyable to discover their family history.

World Vital Records’ free social network for genealogists,, is currently in beta testing. Partners include Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., SmallTownPapers®, Accessible Archives, Ancestral Quest, and FamilySearch™.
Contact Information World Vital Records
Whitney Ransom 801-377-0588

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pet Pedigree

I caught this segment on the CBS Early Show this morning:

For $65 + shipping and handling, you can now test your dog's DNA through a do-it-yourself kit from MMI Genomics. At the moment, 38 types can be pinpointed, but that'll be expanding soon to at least 115.

I'm not giving an opinion for or against it, it was just a story that caught my attention. To read more or watch a video clip of the segment, click here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Footnote Named PC Magazine's "Site of the Week"

Genealogy is getting more recognition. has been named "Site of the Week" by the well-regarded PC Magazine.

I explored Footnote early in its launch, and admit I haven't visited in awhile, but now plan to go back and do some more searching. I think it is great that genealogists today have so many great options (especially online resources) for locating information.

To read the original announcement, click here.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Presentation to North Hills Genealogists

I will be speaking to the North Hills Genealogists in Pittsburgh, PA on Tuesday, October 16 at 7:00 PM at the Northland Public Library.

My topic will be: “Demystifying Eastern European Research”Border changes, language differences and exotic-sounding surnames often complicate the research process. This talk will cover the 10 most common myths and misconceptions about Eastern European research and how to bust them using the best traditional and online resources available. Even if your ancestors didn't hail from Central or Eastern Europe, this talk will include many universal tips for busting your own brick walls.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Save the Date in 2008!

If you have Eastern European roots, then you will want to make plans NOW to attend the Federation of East European Family History Societies conference next year in Pittsburgh, August 1-3, 2008 at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Hotel.

Come hear two days of lectures from experts in ethnic-specific research including Polish, Ukrainian, Slovak, Carpatho-Rusyn, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and more, DNA testing, writing family history, photo and document preservation, technology and the internet and other great topics. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Stephen Morse, creator of the One-Step Web pages. Local tours of key research and cultural sites in Pittsburgh are also being planned.

More information about specifics and registration will be forthcoming on the FEEFHS web site and keep watching this blog for additional details and updates!

Don't miss this great opportunity to meet other researchers and learn how to find your elusive Eastern European ancestors!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Digital Family History "Show and Tell"

At a recent speaking engagement hosted by the Greater Monessen Historical society, there was a "show and tell" component to the program. The attendees were asked to bring an item - family photograph, heirloom, etc. and were invited to display it and tell a brief story about the item. There were a number of great old photographs, and one woman brought a wooden box her grandmother brought with her from Poland. It had a compartment for holding a brush, comb, etc., and a pop-up mirror. In it was also a tool (a small hook) that her grandmother used to lace her boots--it was over 100 years old!

I thought it would be great to have a digital show and tell here on the blog. Here is a picture of my grandmother's trunk that she brought with her from Slovakia when she immigrated to the U.S. in 1922.

If you have something would like to share via your own blog, post a comment here with a link to where we can view the item.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hurry!- Last Chance to Sign Up for August Courses

The August classes at Genclass begin tomorrow, August 2nd. Each class is $29.95 for 8 lessons and class chats with expert instructors. Choose from:

Adoption Investigative
Basic English Research
Eastern European Research Part 2: Intermediate
Lost Friends and Family Investigative

Click here to reserve your spot before classes close!