Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Post-1930 info, improved 1880, USPRI & more

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: Thanks to Anastasia, my contact at for this news update. Please address all inquries to .

We’re excited to tell you about two collections that provide post-1930 family history information on a national scale.

The first is an update to our 1940 census substitute. Last week launched more than 2,000 U.S. City Directories, representing more than 45 states, for 1940 and surrounding years. Forerunners of phone books, city directories typically list head of household with address and occupation. Look for additional directories to be launched in the coming months.

Second -- in the next few weeks, we’ll be launching more than 525 million names, dating from 1950 to 1990, in U.S. Public Records Index database. See below for more details on this update.

New Content
Last week we posted the improved 1880 U.S. Federal Census. This update includes new, higher-quality images that, in many cases, fix completely illegible images. (Chris Lydiksen, Product Manager for U.S. content at, includes sample before and after images in his blog post here.)

The improved 1880 census is the second of the U.S. censuses we will be updating, through partnership with FamilySearch, over the coming months with improved images and indexes. (The 1900 census was the first, released 2008.) The updated 1880 index was not part of this release, but will be coming in the next few months.

Other content additions and updates include:

You can view the full list of recently added databases, extending back a couple of months, at

U.S. Public Records Index Update
In the next few weeks, will be adding to the U.S. Public Records Index (USPRI) database more than 525 million names, addresses, ages, and possible family relationships of people who lived in the United States between roughly 1950 and 1990.

This information, which will be available online for the first time, is an excellent resource in discovering information about ancestors who lived after 1930 – often a challenging area of research because many records are not yet publicly available.

The soon-to-be-added records will replace the existing USPRI records, which contains recently compiled public records dating back to about 2000 and are primarily used for searching living people. As part of this change, you might notice that some search result pages on include basic search results for records on We have partnered with, a leading subscription-based people search service. We believe that, which includes current public information and more than 700 million profiles of living people, is better equipped to offer these services than we are.

While we will no longer serve post-2000 USPRI records on, members who have already saved records from the database to an online tree will retain free access to those records.

Website and Product Information

Messages—A New Way to Connect with the Community
Last week we launched a new site feature – Messages – to help members connect with each other. Found in the upper right corner of almost every page on, the Messages link is your portal to sending and receiving messages to and from other members. product manager David Graham discusses this new feature here.

Free Webinars
  • March 19 – Conquering the Challenge of Reading Handwritten Document; Part 1 – 6 pm ET; Part 2 – 8 pm ET. We all encounter source documents that can be difficult to read if the handwriting isn't "clear." In addition, contributors to the World Archives Project take on the task of reading hand-written documents and keying the information that will become an index that researchers will use. Whether you are a beginning researcher, a more seasoned researcher, or a keyer we invite you to join us for an hour of learning and sharing tips that will improve your skills in deciphering handwritten documents. You can register for this webinar here.

Archives Webinar – Family Tree Maker 2009 New Features Demo
Join the Family Tree Maker 2009 team for a tour of the new features just added to Family Tree Maker 2009. Learn tips and tricks to get the most out of the new features. Program developers from the Family Tree Maker team will answer some of your questions. You can view this archived webinar here.

Note: To register for a webinar or view an archived webinar, click on the Learning Center tab on the home page. Then Keep Learning and, finally, webinars.

Highlights from the Blog
The blog is a great place for site updates and info, as well as tutorials. Here’s what employees have been talking about: