Scott_J on Family Tree Circles

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Journals and Posts

New Features: User Search, etc.

Here's a quick update on some changes I've made to Family Tree Circles recently...

  1. User Search - I've added a user search section to the search results page. So if you're looking for a user whose username you can't quite remember, put a partial name in the search box. Like this search for "ally" turns up our favorite FTC editor Allycat, and 74 others.

  2. Email Address protection. We can warn and warn and warn, and people still put their email addresses in journals. This is a bad idea in general because spammers scan the web for email addresses to send horrible email to. I've coded things up so that if you're not logged into FTC, you won't see the email address. Just some indication that there's an email address there and that you must log in to read it. It is too much trouble for spammers to create an account just to get a few email addresses, so it should be effective.

  3. Disappearing Newsletter Signup Box. You've probably noticed me experimenting with lots of different newsletter signup form designs in the right margin of the site in the past month. I've now set it up so if you have ever subscribed to the newsletter (and even subsequently unsubscribed), the form no longer shows on every page of FamilyTreeCircles (except on the blog).

If you have signed up for the newsletter, thanks! If not, and you'd like to, there's a signup box right over there to the right. And you won't have to look at that form any more on FamilyTreeCircles. :)

New FTC Features...

Some new features have been added to FTC...

- Profile pictures. Now you can upload a picture to show with your posts. Can be a picture of you, or anything you want.

- Image attachments to journals: You can attach a single image to a journal. Your image will be uploaded to the server, resized, and shown with your journal entry. Please don't upload any copyrighted images!

- Updated search: The search now includes the new Surname Wiki content.

Enjoy, and feedback is always welcome.

5 comment(s), latest 2017 years, 2 months ago

New Journal Type: Query

FamilyTreeCircles is growing and in an effort to better organize the large volume of journals that get posted here, I've added a new Journal type: Query.

Queries are simply a request for information on a particular ancestor or family. These get posted all the time in both the existing regular journals and questions, so I thought it would be worthwhile to try to get them separated out into their own types.

You'll notice them as the highly recognizable magenta-colored posts.

I've also made the Journal Type field available in the journal edit page, so you can change the types of your own journals if you'd like.

I'll be actively changing journal types as people get used to the new classifications.

This is another small step toward making it easier to scan through the growing list of journals at FamilyTreeCircles. Questions and the new Query types are posts that are specifically looking for help, and hopefully this will ensure that they get seen and hopefully get answered.

54 comment(s), latest 1 year, 10 months ago

New Look...

We've given Family Tree Circles a whole new look to better reflect the direction we're headed with FTC as a Web 2.0 application.

I hope you like it!

Pearl Harbor Day, and My Own Great Uncle Lost at Sea in WWII

Today is Pearl Harbor Day here in the U.S., the anniversary of the day Japan executed a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941, killing and wounding thousands, and ushering the U.S. into World War II.

I can imagine that day must have felt a lot like 9/11 to the people of the US, though news surely travelled much more slowly in 1941 than it did 60 years later in 2001. Most Americans surely learned about it in the daily newspaper.

While I had no family members directly affected that day, the course of events led to both my Grandfather and my Great Uncle serving in that great war. I think of my poor grandmother who had both a brother and a husband serving in the war. My grandfather returned home after the war (thankfully, as I would not otherwise exist), but my grandmother's brother did not.

Corporal Arnold Gene McIlwraith was an Engineer gunner on a B-24. He was on flight from Mather Field in Sacramento, CA to John Ridgers Field in Hawaii on Feb 28, 1945 when his plane went missing somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

I discovered this image recently in the Missing Air Craft Reports (MACR), available in the National Archives, and indexed on

What's odd to me is that by my reckoning, the coordinates on the report put their airplane well beyond Hawaii, close to Japan.

Did routine B-24 flights from CA to HI have them going via Japan? I don't even think their plane's final point was in range from California. I guess we'll never know.

5 comment(s), latest 3 years, 7 months ago

Permission Required for Cemetery Photos?

While it may seem like tombstones are public things that should be free for photographing, that may not always be the case.

Apparently, in some cemeteries, photography is not permitted. It's not an issue so much of the photographs themselves, but of what you're allowed to do on private property...

So what this comes down to is not ownership of the images of tombstones, but the photography activity on private property.

A museum may prohibit photography of artwork that they don't actually own the rights to.
The artist may own the copyrights of that image.

A live performance venue may prohibit video recording of performances.
The band owns the copyright of the performance itself.

I wonder if, from a legal standpoint, there is ever copyright ownership of the actual tombstone image itself? Is it a work of art?

Fascinating subject.

12 comment(s), latest 2 years, 11 months ago

Policy Reminder: Don't Post Other People's Content Publicly

Please let me remind you that it is wrong to post other people's content on FamilyTreeCircles.

We state this simply in the terms of use

8. You will not post any copyrighted material on this website.

But maybe this isn't clear enough, so let me explain a bit further.

If someone has a website or a webpage posted somewhere on the Internet, the information they post there (unless they copied it from somewhere else) is theirs. You are not allowed to copy it and post it elsewhere without their permission.

I am not an intellectual property or trademark attorney, so I won't get into the legalities of this, but as the owner of this site, I will remove content that I believe has copied someone else's property. This can and will be just a judgement call by me.

Genealogy data gets copied around all the time, so I'm not talking specifically about names, dates, etc. I am talking about written prose, and larger collections of information that someone else has created.

As a general rule, if you find yourself copying and pasting large amounts of information from another website to post it on FamilyTreeCircles, and you don't have the permission from the original author, it is probably wrong. Please don't.

If you have any questions about specific cases, please just ask.

thank you.

57 comment(s), latest 1 year, 10 months ago

RAOGK is no more? Is there anything we can do here?

I read recently that the Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness website is gone indefinitely.

As reported by Dick Eastman, here: Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness (RAOGK) will be Offline for Some Time, the owner of that site said:

RAOGK has been around with our volunteers helping other genealogists get copies of documents required to prove your lineage back to Adam and Eve (giggle). Pictures of your ancestors' tombstones were also high on the lists of requests. I hope everyone got as much service as we were able to give. Our heart is saddened that we will be offline for quite awhile. Between computer problems (harddrive turning to toast) and the health of the administrator very questionable ... RAOGK, after 11 years, will cease to exist for awhile

Bridgett Schneider
RAOGK Administrator

I have often felt like FamilyTreeCircles is very similar to the service that the excellent RAOGK has provided for so many years.

With all deference to Bridgett, but given that there's no information on what's to come of, is there something that can be added to FamilyTreeCircles, a section, a feature, that would help fill the void, at least temporarily?

Having focused so much on FamilyTreeCircles for so long, and never wishing to compete with them, I never really looked much at ROAGK. So I look to the FamilyTreeCircles community to advise me on this.

What are your thoughts?


6 comment(s), latest 3 years ago

Researching the JANGRO family originially of western MA. The name Jan...

Researching the JANGRO family originially of western MA. The name Jangro comes from GINGRAS, then JANGREAU.

Some small changes on FTC

Hi All!

It's been a few years since we've done a server upgrade and in case things were getting a little sluggish here, we've upgraded today. You may have noticed the website was down for a while today while we made the move. We're all settled in and things seem to be going smoothly.

If you notice any issues, please do let me know.

Plus, being a little tired of the colors, I made some simple changes to the color scheme as well.

We're planning some bigger changes for later this year, so stay tuned for more news...

Scott and the FTC team.