Ancestry Blog » Webinars The official blog of Ancestry Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:53:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Upcoming Ancestry Events: October 2014 Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:48:09 +0000 Crista Cowan Read more]]> CalendarHere in the U.S., it is officially National Family History Month.  Fall is in full swing.  Crisp air.  Crunchy leaves.  The perfect weather for taphophiles (also known as cemetery enthusiasts).  We hope you’ll join us this month for our FindAGrave Community Day on October 18th. We’ve also got some great webinars, tweetchats, and family history events planned throughout the month.  Take a look at the complete list below and choose the events that will help you create the perfect Family History Month for you and your family.



What’s New at  October 2014 Edition
Thursday, October 2nd at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

Join Crista Cowan for a quick look at the new features and tools available to help make your family history easier and more fun. She’ll also review the databases full of new content released in the past month and show you how best to search them to find the stories of your ancestors’ lives.


Ten Things You Can Do To Celebrate Family History Month
Tuesday, October 7th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

October is National Family History Month here in the U.S. Join Crista Cowan for a quick look at ten things you can do to celebrate family history month over the coming weeks. Then join us in the LIVE chat afterwards to share your ideas and suggestions.


Genealogical Proof Standard:  Resolution of Conflicting Evidence
Thursday, October 9th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

Join Crista Cowan for the fifth in our series on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). Step four is “resolution of conflicting evidence.” You will learn both WHY this is such an important step in your research process and HOW to do it.

Five Reasons You Are Not Finding Your Ancestor

Tuesday, October 14th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

You have searched and searched and searched and are still coming up empty when looking for information about a particular family line. Join Crista Cowan for a look at five possible reasons why you might not be finding your ancestor. Even one of them could provide you with the spark of an idea you need to bust right through that #genealogy brick wall.


Joining A Hereditary Society
Thursday, October 16th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

SAR. DAR. DUP. ADEAW. What do all of these acronyms have in common? These are just a few of the 100 (or more) hereditary societies you can join once you find a person in your family tree who qualifies. Join Crista Cowan for a look at the different societies that are available for you to join, what the membership benefits are to you, and how to complete the application process.


Navigating the Ancestry YouTube Channel
Tuesday, October 21st at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

It’s the 3rd anniversary of The Barefoot Genealogist. Join Crista Cowan for a look at some of her favorite videos from the past three years. She’ll even throw in some tips for navigating YouTube, creating your own playlists, and sharing videos with your genealogy friends.


Putting Together a Family Health History
Thursday, October 23rd at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

One of the reasons people are drawn to genealogy is to learn more about their family health history. Join Crista Cowan for a few quick tips about putting together your own family health history for yourself and your children.


Lesser Known Ports of Immigration
Tuesday, October 28th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

Have you looked for your ancestor coming into the Port of New York/Ellis Island and come up empty? What about Boston? Philadelphia? Baltimore? Join Crista Cowan for a look at the “lesser known” ports of immigration that your ancestor might have used on their journey into the United States.


 Top Tips for Beginning Mexico Family History Research
Thursday, October 30th at 1:00 pm (Eastern)/10:00 am (Pacific)

Do you have Mexican ancestry? Join Crista Cowan as she shares some of the top tools and record collections that will help you find success in tracing your Mexican ancestors.


Click here to RSVP for any of the above webinars. Watch each webinar live via Livestream here. If you can’t watch live RSVP anyway to receive reminders via Facebook prior to each event and a notice when they have been archived on YouTube.


Conferences and Events:

Central Indiana Genealogy Conference 
Saturday, October 11th in Indianapolis, IN

The Genealogical Society of Marion County, in cooperation with the Indiana Historical Society, presents the 19th Annual Central Indiana Genealogy Conference. This full-day conference features four sessions which includes Ancestry speakers and professional genealogists, Juliana Szucs and Lou Szucs.


#AncestryChat:  Migration Through the Centuries 
Thursday, October 16th at 7:00 pm (Eastern)/4:00 pm (Pacific)

Join expert genealogists, Amy Johnson Crow and Juliana Szucs Smith for a Twitter chat. Come prepared to ask your questions about migration patterns through time. If you don’t have a question, join us anyway. You never know what you might learn that will help you in your own family history journey.

The October 16th TweetChat will start at 7:00 pm Eastern (4:00 pm Pacific) and run for approximately 1 hour.


The Genealogy Event – NYC 2014 
October 17th, 18th and 19th in New York City

The Genealogy Event, in partnership with the National Archives at New York City, will offer two days of learning, fun – and genealogy enthusiasm! This will be followed with an entire day dedicated to DNA and genetic genealogy at the India House Club in New York City.  Click the link above to see the class schedule for the three day event, which includes a full track of Ancestry classes on Friday and Saturday and a presentation on AncestryDNA on Sunday.


Genealogy COMO 2014
Saturday, October 18th in Columbia, Missouri

This regional conference is open to all levels of expertise and boasts 30 sessions to select from including Ancestry professional genealogist, Amy Johnson Crow. This conference is free to attend and children as young as 12 years old are welcome.


#AncestryChat: Going Beyond Census and Vital Records 
Thursday, October 30th at 7:00 pm (Eastern)/4:00 pm (Pacific)

Join expert genealogists, Juliana Szucs and Anne Gillespie Mitchell for a live Twitter chat. Come prepared to ask your questions about looking for vital records beyond the census. If you don’t have a question, join us anyway and share your knowledge or tips with others. You never know what you might learn that will help you in your own family history journey.

The October 30th TweetChat will start at 7:00 pm Eastern (4:00 pm Pacific) and run for approximately 1 hour.



A Look Towards November and Beyond:

Ancestry Day in Oklahoma 
November 7th and 8th in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the Oklahoma Genealogical Society present Ancestry Day in Oklahoma, two days of genealogy and native culture November 7-8, 2014. Both novice and experienced genealogists are welcome at this event. Registration to the main event is $40 and includes admission to all Saturday classes presented by Participants may also attend optional activities for an additional charge including Friday sessions, bus tours, a reception, and a Saturday lunch program.  Click the link above for the complete schedule and registration information.  Seats are limited so sign up soon!


RootsTech 2015 and FGS 2015 – Two Conferences, One Location! 
February 11th – 14th, 2015 in Salt Lake City

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!  The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and RootsTech are teaming up for a one-time special genealogy event at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, February 11–14, 2015. FGS and RootsTech will share the expo hall, general sessions, activities, and more while each conference offers their own program of sessions. FGS sessions will focus on methodology, records, ethnic research, and migration for honing your research skills and society issues to motivate and inspire society volunteers. RootsTech will offer a program of technology-based solutions for the genealogy needs of both individuals and societies.


That is a lot of events for one month!  We’ve also got some fun and informative posts planned for you here on the blog so check back here often.  One last thing, don’t forget to tune in to Finding Your Roots on PBS every Tuesday night.

Happy Family History Month!

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Native American Records LIVE Training Wed, 13 Nov 2013 22:46:49 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]>  

Native American ancestries are some of the most challenging to prove. Join us as one of ProGenealogist’s experts, Joseph B. Shumway, leads an online training session that will give you in-depth information about researching the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole).


This session is designed to be interactive! You will have the opportunity to ask questions to the instructor, one of the leading experts in Native American research. There will also be short quizzes so you can make sure that you understand the key points that are presented. There will also be time for a general question and answer session at the end. This webinar is one hour long and is $39.95 . Attendees will receive a four-page syllabus to download with some history, a map showing where the various tribes were located before and after removal, methodology, and information about some of the records that are covered in the training.

What will you learn in this training?

  • Strategies for confirming whether or not you have a 19th-21st century Native American ancestor.
  • How to use Native American records to document and extend your family tree.
  • Key record collections for the Five Civilized Tribes and how to use them.
  • What information various Native American records contain.
  • Other key records for ethnic origins and how to find them.
  • Where to find Native American records online.

Who should take this training?

  • Researchers who think they have 19th- 21st century ancestors who were members of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole).
  • Family historians with a 19th-21st century family history Native American mystery to solve.
  • Anyone curious about records and research methodologies pertaining to the Five Civilized Tribes.


  • Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 5pm MST
  • Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 11am MST
  • Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 5pm MST
  • Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 9am MST
  • Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 11am MST

About Your Instructor

Your instructor will be Joseph B. Shumway, an expert in United States family history research with over 15 years of professional research experience. He has been a featured genealogical expert on the series Who Do You Think You Are? as well as CBS and CNN news.


Buy Your Ticket Now

This webinar is $39.95.  Seats are limited to only 100 students per session. This small setting will allow students to have more interaction with the instructor and each other.




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Top Tips for Italian Family History Research [VIDEO] Mon, 21 Oct 2013 22:06:57 +0000 Pam Velazquez Read more]]> In case you missed last week’s episode of “The Barefoot Genealogist with Crista Cowan” discussing Top Tips for Italian Family History Research, here is the video and a run down of what was covered.


Roughly four million Italians immigrated to the United States between 1860 and 1920.  With economic problems in Italy, many Italians came to the U.S. looking for better working conditions and due to severe loss of life and health during the U.S. Civil War, there was a large labor shortage and many of these immigrants were recruited for work in several areas throughout the United States. Unlike Jewish immigrants, Italians weren’t fleeing persecution.  Most of them were coming to American purely for work, becoming, in a sense, ‘migrant workers’ of their day. Often the head of the household and older sons would travel to the U.S. to work and would then return to Italy. Many of them never intended to stay and make a life here, just to work and then return to Italy. As you can see in passenger lists and other records, many of them returned to Italy multiple times before bringing their families.  Some returned to Italy and stayed there. All of these things are important to consider when researching family who you suspect emigrated from Italy.

Italy has an interesting history pertaining to genealogy because prior to 1861, Italy was not unified – meaning there were no records kept at the national level. This means that it is very important for you to find out where in Italy your family lived as this is where you will most likely find any records – at the town or city level. As you research pay close attention for any indicator of what town or city your ancestors lived in prior to coming to the U.S.


Start with the census. Look for:

  • Immigration year – Try and pin down the year that your ancestor moved to the U.S. – this is particularly important with Italian immigrants because as mentioned many of them came and went multiple times before settling in the U.S. which can cause inconsistent immigration years in the records.
  • Naturalization status – Census records will indicate your ancestor’s naturalization status with AL (Alien), NA (Naturalized) or PA (Have submitted papers). If they are naturalized, locating naturalization records would be your next step.
  • Birthplace of children – Knowing where the children were born can help you try and pin down the immigration year, or give you clues as to whether or not the head of the household ever returned to Italy before his family emigrated.


If they were naturalized, look for those papers next:

  • Get the complete packet, not just the certificate – Although you may have a Certificate of Naturalization that is just one document in the set that you’ll want to find. You will also want to find the Declaration of Intent and a Petition for Naturalization. If your ancestor was naturalized in a district or circuit court you will likely find those records online at  If they were naturalized in a county court, you will need to contact the courthouse.
  • Look for date, port and ship of arrival – Naturalization documents very often will list this information that allows you to easily locate your ancestor on a passenger list.
  • Look for spouse and children – Prior to 1920, wives derived their naturalization status from their husbands and so would be listed in the naturalization documents, along with any under age children.


Passenger Lists are next, look for:

  • Birthplace and/or last residence – This is a great clue as to where you might be headed next to find records in Italy.
  • Who they are traveling with – Not just the people who have the same surname but also other people that have the same last residence. Often groups of people who are traveling together are from the same place and this can be useful when, for example, you can’t read what was written as a birthplace for your ancestor, but maybe it looks a lot like what is written for several others.
  • Who they are joining – This will indicate who in the U.S. they are meeting and their relation to your ancestor. It is also a great indicator of who followed who – was a father coming to meet his young son or a family reuniting with their father, etc.
  • Who they left behind – Pay close attention to the “nearest relative” in Italy. Use this information to determine who was left behind.  Did this person come over later? Did they stay in Italy?  Use all of this information to establish a timeline for each person in the family.
  • Also consider passport applications – As mentioned, since Italians weren’t fleeing any kind of persecution, many of them returned to Italy, even after they became U.S. citizens, so look for passport applications. If they became citizens and then decided to return to Italy to visit, they may be in our passport application records. They contain information about where in Italy the person was born and asked for information about where their family was born and have a lot of great clues that will help you discover more information. Sometimes there is even a photo attached on the second page of the application.
  • Always be looking for a county or town name – In passenger lists or passport applications, always be looking for a more specific place where your ancestor lived in Italy.


Think broader than just the immigrant!

Remember to keep an eye out for a spouse, children, siblings, witnesses, friends, and neighbors – anyone that could have had a relationship with your ancestor. These people will help you track down your ancestor when the trail runs cold.  Remember that people generally stuck to groups and groups may have been formed based on where they lived in Italy, where they ended up working, etc. and can give you insights to what happened to your ancestor.


Be prepared with some of the challenges:

  • Some men came to America several times before finally bringing their families over – Their immigration year may be trickier to pin down if they came and went several times.
  • Some people came and then went back to Italy, their intention was never to settle here – since many were just looking for work, they came to the U.S., worked for an extended period of time and then moved back to Italy. Maybe a son or other family member immigrated later and that’s how your family got started in the U.S.
  • Some people Americanized both their first and last name – Names may be different and might have several variations depending on the record.


Now start searching Italian Records:

  • Use the Card Catalog – Explore what records are available and more specifically for the region that you are looking for. Use the left sidebar to narrow down the pool of records you are looking at by location.
  • Remember, these records are in Italian – Don’t be discouraged because you don’t speak Italian, just make a list using Google Translate of possible words or phrases you might want to be looking for such as “First Name”, “Birth Date”, “Age”, etc.
  • Many Italian records are not indexed – This means you will have to “browse” the records much like you would a reel of microfilm. Narrow down the set of images by location and time period, until you find the one you are looking for.
  • If the records are not online, use the message boards – Use our message boards to find out more about your specific region and surname.  Ask for information about contacting the town in Italy that has the records you might need.


Italian research has its own particular challenges, but equipped with historical context and some tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be finding your ancestors in no time!

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Three Days, Three Free Classes Wed, 23 May 2012 20:21:01 +0000 Juliana Szucs Read more]]> I hope you’ll join me and several of my colleagues for three days of free online classes. Searches: A Behind the Scenes Look, presented by John Bacus
Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 8 PM ET

Learn how search at works AND get an inside view of tricks you’ll need to take full advantage of its power. John Bacus, Search Product Manager, walks you through the tech side and presents you with plenty of tips, advice and even a few workarounds—all of which will help you make your next search at more effective, productive, and better than ever.

John is a Principal Product Manager at, where he is responsible for the core search features of the site, such as search forms and search results. Prior to his time at, he held search-related product management roles at AltaVista and eBay. John’s interest in genealogy was first piqued with the family history his grandparents put together when he was a child, and has enjoyed validating and building upon the research they did with two curious minds, some spare time, and a motor home.
Click here to register

Common Surnames: Finding Your Smith, presented by Juliana Smith
Thursday, 24 May 2012, 3 PM ET
Despite his common moniker, your ancestor was unique. Get the tools and tips you need to find your ancestors with common surnames in this free one-hour class with Juliana Smith. In this class you’ll learn how to craft the best search on, and how to save your findings in a way that makes it easy to pick your family out of the crowd.

Juliana has been working for for just shy of 14 years and began her family history journey trolling through microfilms at the tender age of 11 with her mother. She is a certificate holder in the Boston University Genealogical Research program, and wrote the “Computers and Technology” chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Her favorite part of family history is discovering the stories in the records of her ancestors.
Click here to register.

Forward thinking: Tracing the children of your ancestors. And their children… presented by Crista Cowan
Friday, 25 May 2012, 1 PM ET
Are you stuck in your march back through time identifying ancestors? Turn around. Revitalize your research. Rekindle your desire to continue with some success. Descendancy research utilizes much of the same methodology as ancestral research but can lead to a whole new way of looking at your genealogy. Often it can lead to discovery of cousins who have missing pieces of the puzzle needed to complete your picture of common ancestors.

Crista Cowan has been doing genealogy since she was a child and has been an employee since 2004. Known as the Barefoot Genealogist, Crista brings her passion for family history into her presentations and provides common sense solutions for the challenges we face in the search for our ancestors.
Click here to register.

All events will be archived, and if you register, you’ll get an email from us alerting you when the archived version becomes available to view at your convenience.

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Take a FREE online family history class! Tue, 15 May 2012 16:46:00 +0000 Jeanie Croasmun Read more]]> Join for two FREE online classes this week beginning tonight at 8 p.m. ET as Crista Cowan walks you through her go-to tips for success in Ready, Set, Go – Family History How-To Everyone Should Know.

Then join us again on Thursday, May 17 at 8pm ET as Juliana Szucs Smith presents Get More Clues from a Census Record.

Both classes are absolutely free but registration before each event is required (bonus: when you register, you’ll get an email reminder about the presentation as well as an email informing you when the class is available for viewing online after the presentation airs – even if you weren’t able to attend the live broadcast). You can register for a class by selecting its name above.

And be sure to stick around until the end. Both Juliana and Crista will pick a handful of questions from the audience and give you their spot-on answers.

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Family Tree Maker 2012 Webinar Tonight Wed, 09 Nov 2011 15:30:20 +0000 Tana L. Pedersen Read more]]> Join the Family Tree Maker team tonight, Wednesday, November 9th at 8:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time) for a free webinar that will teach you about the new features in Family Tree Maker 2012. You’ll learn about:

  • TreeSync—the ability to link and synchronize your desktop tree with an online tree at Ancestry.
  • The new blended families display option.
  • The new descendancy report.

You can even get questions answered by the developers who work on the software. Information will apply to both PC and Mac users.

It’s not too late—you can still register for the webinar by clicking here.

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Family Tree Maker Webinar on November 9th Mon, 31 Oct 2011 15:00:27 +0000 Tana L. Pedersen Read more]]> Join us on Wednesday, November 9th at 8:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time) for a free webinar that will teach you about the new features in Family Tree Maker 2012. You’ll learn about TreeSync—the ability to link and synchronize your desktop tree with an online tree at Ancestry, how to use the new blended families display option, create new charts and reports, and more. You can even get questions answered by the developers who work on the software. Information will apply to both PC and Mac users. To attend the Family Tree Maker 2012 webinar, click here to register.

And if you have questions you’d like answered, please enter them in the Comments section below. We’ll try to respond to them during the webinar or on the blog. (Please limit your questions to functionality available in Family Tree Maker 2012.) We appreciate your questions and look forward to talking to you soon. Thanks!

Have you missed past webinars? You can view them any time at

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Q&A from Finding Your Irish Ancestors in America … and Ireland Fri, 18 Mar 2011 00:38:26 +0000 Juliana Szucs Read more]]>
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!
(St. Patrick’s Day Blessings!) Thanks to everyone who attended our Irish webinar last night. We had two wonderful presenters and a fantastic audience with lots of great questions. If you weren’t able to attend the class, it’s now available in the Learning Center archive here.

Since it wasn’t possible to answer every question last night, we thought we’d grab a few of the most frequently asked questions and post them here.

Kay asked, “How do we find Irish ancestors that lived in Canada?” has some terrific Canadian collections to help you find your Irish-Canadian ancestors. With a World Deluxe membership (or a Canadian membership to, you can access Canadian censuses and many other records. You can browse a list of some of our more popular Canadian collections on the Canada place page here. If you’re searching through the search form on the homepage at, you can check the collection priority box at the bottom of the search box to give Canadian records higher priority and check the box below it to return only Canadian records.

Gary wanted to know, “What’s the difference between a parish, a barony, and a county?”
Once you discover your ancestor’s place of origin in Ireland, it’s important to larn about the names of the various land divisions into which that place fell. The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland has an excellent description of these and other land divisions in Ireland here.

Carolyn asked about a problem many of us will run into with our Irish ancestors, “When I estimate birth years based on ages in census records, I end up with different birth dates from census to census, even though I know I have the right person, living with the same people?”
As Eileen mentioned in her portion of the class, our Irish ancestors were often inconsistent when it came to giving their ages, so you will find some wide ranging answers when it comes to birthdates. Gather than range of dates for the person you’re searching for and pick a year in the center of that range. Using the advanced search form on, you can specify +/- 1, 2, 5 or even 10 years using the and give yourself a little wiggle room in your searches for other records. Try to locate as many records as you can on the person and you’ll often be able to narrow it down. Also keep in mind that the ages got fuzzier as our ancestors got older. Records created when they were young are more likely to be accurate. It’s harder for a 5 year old to pass for a 14 year old, but may have been easier to believe that a 64 year old was only 55.

Doris inquired about a place in Ireland, “Tullamore – is it in County Kerry or Offaly? I’ve been given both.”
Actually Doris, according to the place names database on the Irish Times website, there are four places named Tullamore—in Counties Clare, Kerry, Offaly, and Tipperary. Try searching Griffith’s Valuation on and see if the surname you’re researching is more predominant in one of the locations. If you’re working with a not-so-common surname, this could help you zero in on the correct Tullamore. Keep looking for records on this side of the pond as well. You may run across another record of your ancestor, this time with the county listed.

Nanette asked, “Did all the Irish who came to this country go through the naturalization process, and did they have to have passports in order to enter the United States?”
Many of our ancestors were never formally naturalized. That said, immigrants living in urban areas like New York City or Chicago may have been more likely to have been naturalized because political “machines” were keenly aware of large numbers of immigrants arriving in the mid-nineteenth century. In efforts to win the votes of these new residents, politicians were often swift in assisting immigrants in obtaining naturalization so that they could return the favor in the form of a vote cast in their direction—in some cases disregarding the five-year residency requirement.

For the most part, passports were not required of U.S. citizens for foreign travel until World War I, although they were mandatory for a short time during the Civil War (Aug. 19, 1861–Mar. 17, 1862). Immigrants who traveled often requested passports once they were naturalized to avoid hassles when returning to the U.S. has millions of naturalization indexes and well over a million actual records online, which can be searched here. There is also a collection of U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 available.

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Family Tree Maker Webinar Tonight Wed, 16 Feb 2011 15:00:02 +0000 Tana L. Pedersen Read more]]> Tonight at 8:00 pm (EST) the experts at Family Tree Maker are giving a free webinar focused on printing and sharing your family history. You’ll learn how to:

  • Design and print charts
  • Run  reports
  • Utilize the print functions available on each workspace
  • Create individual and family slide shows

If you haven’t already registered, it’s not too late. Sign up now!

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Family Tree Maker Webinar on February 16th Thu, 03 Feb 2011 15:00:44 +0000 Tana L. Pedersen Read more]]> Family history is a great way to connect with your past. And Family Tree Maker can help you illustrate your family story and share it with friends and family members. Join us on Wednesday, February 16th at 8:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time) for a free webinar that focuses on creating charts, reports, and slide shows. You’ll learn how to design and print charts, run effective reports, discover what print functions are on each workspace, create individual and family slide shows, and more. To attend the Family Tree Maker 2011 Charts and Reports webinar, click here to register.

If you have questions you’d like answered, please enter them in the Comments section below. We’ll try to respond to them during the webinar or on the blog. (Please limit your questions to functionality available in Family Tree Maker 2011.) We appreciate your questions and look forward to talking to you soon. Thanks!

Have you missed past webinars? You can view them any time at

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