Saturday, September 26, 2009


This press release from is rather lengthy, but it appears that this (free but with some pay options) web service may well interest many of our readers:

I would like to invite you to give (or the Live Roots Facebook application) a try. If you feel this is a valuable service for genealogists, please consider adding a link to it from your library, society, or personal web site.

Live Roots Genealogy Search
Live Roots for Facebook

When people ask me "what is Live Roots?" my response is that it is a new genealogy search experience. While search is a key feature, and it does work similar to a traditional search engine, it's the knowledge of where/how genealogical information is stored and accessed that differentiates LiveRoots. The Live Roots search also goes beyond web sites, and includes book and microfilm catalogs, photographs, maps, postcards and over 70 other resource types. Each resource is cataloged in a similar format, and graphical icons help distinguish the resources in search results. There are currently over 200,000 resources in the Live Roots catalog.The second question people ask is usually "so where do all these resources come from?" I've partnered with all of the "major" players in the genealogy industry, and receive catalog feeds from them on a regular basis. In addition, I've worked with many of the medium and smaller publishers to get access to their catalogs. These direct feeds are combined with the collection of web site links I've been compiling for the past ten yearsthrough my other projects, along with the unique resources that I've been digitizing.There is a .PDF file on the Live Roots web site, "Introducing the Live RootsProject," that lists the larger catalog sources:

andthere is an update blog where new additions are posted:

While getting the direct catalog feeds is great, my work doesn't stop there. Each of the content providers provides different information about their titles, and often the geographic details are lacking. I make sure that geographic information (where possible) is added to the resources down to the CITY/TOWN level, making Live Roots the only genealogy service that offers this kind of visibility. You are also able to navigate upwards to see county, state, etc. level resources, and this is for all countries, not just the U.S.A.The Live Roots catalog is also a "tree" of sorts, where the individual resources are linked to the site/service, which may in turn be linked to a company/person. And the service attempts to show you where additional copies of a given resource may be located (e.g. an online database that is also available in print). One of the best examples of this is that the NARA microfilms are linked to the online databases derived from them. So you can quickly see if a film used by Ancestry (for example) has also been used elsewhere (by Footnote perhaps).

Web sites in the Live Roots catalog are also geographically coded (although this is an ongoing process), and there is a URL history used by the search, so if you find a broken link while surfing around, you can put that into theLive Roots search box, and if it finds a match, it will guide you to the new location. I've been compiling this URL history for years, and it has several thousand entries in it.The search engine provides results based on a combination of "and" and "or"logic, sorted in order of accessibility (i.e. online databases before printed matter). There is "not" logic using the exclamation point (e.g."johnson !county"). Since this is a genealogy specific search service, it's not well suited for generic searches like "census" and will refer those types of searches to Cyndi's List. In addition to the catalog, there is a name index derived from a subset of the resources based on information provided from the webmasters. Thus, when you perform a Live Roots search using a surname, you may actually get index results as well.

The Live Roots engine understands many phonetic variations of surnames, and will also highlight those results (e.g. "MacDonald" and"Mac Donald", "Fraim" and "Frame"). Oh, and don't be shy about searching for surnames-- you can put in as many as you want in a single search. You may notice a subsection to the Surname Results labeled "SubscriptionData". The Live Roots search engine also taps into the subscription databases that I've created over the years. This is the only fee-based area of Live Roots; everything else is free (although you may need a subscription when you arrive at the destination site for a given resource).

The last two points on search: to locate a specific title, put the search query in double quotes, and to see if a web site is cataloged (or all of the pages from a specific domain), put a web address (URL) in to the search box. While the Live Roots catalog and index continue to grow on a daily basis, there is still a wealth of information that is not included. But, with the use of technology called web services, you can perform real-time searches from a variety of information providers (including all the major players in our industry). You'll see that the Live Roots search makes it simple to extend your search beyond its own catalog with preset clicks to these real-time searches. In a matter of minutes, you can search for a specific ancestor across all of the major sites without leaving Live Roots (or havingto re-enter your search criteria).

Live Roots includes "Web 2.0" type features, including "Follow", "Share","Comment" and "Record" that are part of a project management section. Follow is similar to bookmarking, except it continues to work even if the resource moves, and in an upcoming release you will be able to receive alerts for the items you've followed. Share lets you send an email to highlight a given resource (or search result) for a friend. Comment lets you make notes for resources you discover, and Record makes an entry in a dynamic research log. Except for Share, you need to setup a free membership account to take advantage of these features. For more details on this aspect of Live Roots, check out

There are dozens of other interesting features in Live Roots (e.g. definitions of terminology, surname meanings, wiki-like glossary of genealogy concepts), but hopefully you get a sense of why I call Live Roots a search experience. It's more of a Swiss-army knife for genealogists. I don't expect your support of the project just based on reading this document, so please give Live Roots a try and see it in action, and then, if you agree that it would offer value to your patrons, consider adding a linkto your library, society, or personal web site.

Illya J. D'Addezio,
OwnerGenealogy Today LLC
New Providence, NJ 07974

Live Roots Genealogy Search
Genealogy Today (online since 1999)
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