Genealogy Today

Our History

Genealogy Today was founded by (follow on Twitter). The idea originated over several long nights when Illya was using the Internet for his own research. During these 'adventures', Illya became familiar with the authors of genealogy newsletters, various search tools for tracking new sites, and mailing lists, newsgroups and forums that discussed new sites.

Our original home page (1999 - 2000) Realizing that there wasn't a place for genealogists to find out what was new in genealogy, he designed and launched the site in 1999 with just that goal in mind. The site was expanded in September 1999 to include a variety of interactive features, the mission of was revised to encourage visitor participation, through discussions, surveys and FAQ. In January 2000, the number of features grew again to include feature articles, an adoption research area, professional and volunteer researcher directories, information about libraries, and a family focused area called "Your Family".

On February 29, 2000, we added our first regular column, "Turning Over New Leaves" which is published every week by Judy Sander Cockrell, a genealogist with years of experience researching both off- and on-line, and spotlights a different genealogy web site (or topic) of interest to researchers. And in July, we merged with the three-year old newsletter, "Genealogy Today", bringing the talents of The Genealogy Lady to the team, along with the popular archive of articles, and ending the name confusion between the newsletter and our website.

Our second home page design (2001 - 2002) In 2001, we unveiled a new site design along with several new services, including the Online Genealogy Index -- our first attempt to create a search that bridged the various databases we had been acquiring and developing. The Online Genealogy Index incorporated the databases from First Name Basis and Family Tree Climbers, along with the archives of GenToday-L, Serendipity, the newly acquired Hot Chocolate newsletter, and all of the regularly published columns.

Also in 2001, Genealogy Today launched Team Roots, a free membership program that offered members a set of innovative tools designed to make research and finding fellow genealogists easier. Later in the year, the content of Genealogy World at was merged into our site, which included dozens of transcribed records. And two new writers, Ruby Coleman and Bob Brooke, both former writers for Antique Week, joined our team with their articles being featured in the monthly namesake e-zine, Genealogy Today (a.k.a. GenToday-L).

To get 2002 started, Genealogy Today improved the site navigation and added some enhanced search tools. In the Spring, we were chosen to be the new management group for John Lacombe's popular Barrel of Genealogy Links, re-launched the Genealogist's Index to the World Wide Web, and acquired Adoption Puzzle, a directory site for adoption research.

In the fall of 2002, we launched our online store, The Marketplace at Genealogy Today with a handful of products, including Genealogy, Climbing Your Family Tree, a CD-Rom tutorial product that would be exclusively marketed by Genealogy Today. It covers a variety of topics, and includes embedded links to hundreds of essential online resources.

We wrapped up the year by beginning to build our UK Exposure with an important acquisition. In November 2002, we acquired UK Genealogy, one of the leading genealogy starting points for British research.

Our third home page design (2003 - 2004) 2003 was kicked off with an enhanced site design, and the acquisition of Help! I'm Lost! -- a beginner web site that has been online since 1998, and was formerly known as The Lost Husbands Guide to On-Line Genealogy. It was followed shortly thereafter by the purchases of Ancestor Quest and Lineage Web, continuing the expansion of unique content available at Genealogy Today.

The summer months were spent rewriting the search tools for, a popular site we were enlisted by the owners to manage, and developing additional features for our Team Roots members, including an expanded book marking capability that allows visitors to track their favorites from any of the databases and enhanced calendaring tools, including a reminder tool to help keep track of birthdays, anniversaries or other important events.

At the end of 2003, we announced the acquisition of the Missing Persons Register, one of the Internet's oldest free people finding services, and had begun development of the next generation of our search engine for Genealogy Today, dubbed the Genealogy Meta-Search. With this new search, results are now sorted by the number of matching surname records in each resource; thus reducing the amount of time visitors spend looking for relevant information. In addition to providing more relevant results, the new search engine is several times faster than the previous one.

Integrated into the new search engine are results from our first subscription database, Family Tree Connection. This database is a collection of data indexed from a variety of sources such as high school and college yearbooks, city directories, local club member lists, souvenir passenger lists, church records and much, much more.

2004 began with the acquisition of the Find Lost Ones people finder web site. Launched in October 2001, this site includes over 8,000 listings for lost love ones - missing child, relatives, schoolmates, military or prior work colleagues, old neighbors, genealogy search, etc. And in March, we spun off our news and information collection to a separate area called the Genealogy News Center.

Over the Summer, we reached a definitive agreement with GenWeekly, the newsletter designed to help individuals of all ages and genealogical experiences, to takeover the role of publisher for the paid subscription service. Each week, subscribers receive this e-publication via email, packed with articles written by some of today's freshest minds in genealogy and family history research, along with news items and event announcements from the world of genealogy. This service is edited by Elisabeth Lindsay.

And the year ended with yet another generation of our search engine, dubbed Smart Search, and our second subsription offering, the first online release of New England Early Genealogy Connections. This new search takes whatever the users enters in as a query and attempts to determine exactly what they are looking for (e.g. surname, first name, location, topic) by cross referencing several databases and then presenting the best results from available information at Genealogy Today.

New England Early Genealogy Connections, a database of over 70,000 records compiled by Alice Howe Palmer over the past fifteen years, is the first effort to connect and interconnect names from the early New England period. No individual name is included unless it has at least one connection to another -- often with multiple connections. All of the names include any available basic data: birth, death, marriage dates, towns of residence, citations documenting sources.

Our fourth home page design (2005) February 2005 marked the sixth anniversary of Genealogy Today, and to prepare for the celebration we freshened up our site design, and revised the navigation to better highlight the many original databases and features that we have developed and acquired.

To address the growing interest in local genealogy, in February we officially launched our genealogy information directory -- a separate area of our site comprised of pages for over 30,000 cities in the U.S., along with over 250 topic pages and a special section on the U.S. Census. What makes our directory unique is that while you can access links to thousands of fabulous web sites, you are also able to locate transcriptions, cemeteries, historical societies, libraries, newspapers and other reference materials all at the same time.

Genealogy Today LLC was approved as a member of the Better Business Bureau of New Jersey in April 2005 and began participating in the BBBOnline Reliability Program further emphasizing our commitment to high levels of ethical business practices and customer satisfaction. We have and will continue to subscribe to the principles and services of the Better Business Bureau.

In the Summer of 2005, we launched a series of free databases and services, including the time-saving Genealogy Registry -- a catalog of hundreds of free searchable databases, online transcriptions and GEDcom-based family trees.

A few months later, we established the first genealogy rewards program for our Team Roots members, and launched the Ancestor Information Reprint Service (AIRS) - an affordable offering based on an extensive collection of out-of-print books, vintage photographs and rare documents.

Our fifth home page design (2006) February 2006 marked the seventh anniversary of Genealogy Today, and the year was already full of exciting new changes. We updated our home page to better explain "what does Genealogy Today do?" and add more emphasis to the enhanced search tools we developed in 2005.

In January, we announced that the site became the first genealogy Web site to be certified to display the Children's Privacy Seal from TRUSTe, exemplifying our commitment to consumer privacy and security.

In February, our first subscription database, Family Tree Connection, reached 500,000 names, and we added a free database of funeral cards (also sometimes called mass, mourning or remembrance cards), called Funeral Cards Online, which is a combination of thousands of links to cards on various web sites, along with, our own collection of several hundred -- all including images.

Along with our home page changes, we introduced a new way to find information called The Roots Helper. This new service offers guided assistance in your research by asking several simple questions and producing results tailored to the criteria you entered. As you answer each question, The Roots Helper intelligently decides what else would help in the search based on your responses!

In March, listeners to the classic oldies station WMTR-AM 1250 heard the first Genealogy Today radio commercial [ mp3 ] as we expanded our offline marketing efforts.

2006 will be remembered as the year of ephemera. We started public collections of funeral cards, war ration books, business cards, family bible pages, and marriage announcements. Focusing on these one-name items has been quite challenging, but we're getting wonderful feedback from researchers. Expect to see all of these collections grow significantly in the coming year.

We also launched a platform for other merchants to sell their data online at Genealogy Today, which we've called the Genealogy Data Store. The store was used to host pay-per-request document services of Reading Company Railroad Employees and Ancestral Criminal Records.

Our sixth home page design (2007 - 2008) We kicked off 2007 by releasing over 24,000 names across our various databases, and updated the home page to better emphasize the unique data collections we've been developing. The main search engine was also modified to highlight these new collections. And our Family Tree Connection database reached the 750,000 name milestone.

While it may have seemed like nothing was "happening" at Genealogy Today, the truth is quite the opposite. Our data transcribing process has continued to grow and over 325,000 names were added to Family Tree Connection in 2007. We're on-track to complete about the same amount in 2008.

But the real excitement is our new project, Live Roots. Launched in October 2008, this new genealogy search engine combines our years of experience running genealogy sites with all sorts of new technology and information (and a little help from our friends, of course). The Live Roots project took over a year to complete, and there are already plenty of additional features planned for 2009.

We continued to expand the capabilities of Live Roots and in Fall of 2009 began integrating it into the core Genealogy Today web site as the search engine of preference. Celebrating 10 Years Online, Genealogy Today continues to offer an ever-expanding collection of unique information to our visitors

Our eighth home page design (2010 - 2011) The year 2010 was all about simplification and refocusing on the core strengths of Genealogy Today: Search, Wiki, Articles and Data. The Live Roots search engine is fully integrated into the site; we've launched a content WIKI where we now post original documents, ephemera, photographs, historical sketches, and have explanations for hundreds of genealogical terms.

In April, we began the process of consolidating our subscription DATA products into one service called "Genealogy Today Subscription Data," making it simpler for our visitors to understand and at the same time, offering them more value for their investment and support of our projects.

And we're getting our vast collection of ARTICLES organized so that they are more useful to researchers.

2010 also heralded the arrival of our free e-mail-based, aggregate news service, The Genealogy News. Available in both daily or weekly editions, TGN gives readers a quick snapshot of the latest developments in the genealogy industry.

The year 2011 will be remembered as the "Content" year; with a record number of transcriptions, photographs, document images, historical sketches, and a variety of other materials being posted on the site. And while we didn't release any major features, many "behind-the-scenes" processes were overhauled to better synchronize the information published in the different areas of the web site -- the end result being information now gets updated more frequently.

One significant milestone in 2011, was the inclusion of the Genealogy Today (transcription, ephemera and article) catalogs into the WorldCat database. Users in libraries around the country, as well as online users of, can now locate resources we publish thru the WorldCat search engine. These catalogs are updated weekly and applied to the WorldCat database monthly.

Our ninth home page design (2012 - 2014) We rolled into 2012 with a fresh new home page layout, further simplifying the Genealogy Today experience, while continuing to highlight our core strengths. Two other site features experienced some freshening up: the Family Research and United States sections of our genealogy directory were redesigned, and are now synchonized with all content additions.

While it was started at the tail end of 2011, the Life Stories Project will be expanded significantly in the coming months with additional biographical timelines.

We've tried to capture all of the changes and updates accomplished over the years, but we're sure to have missed some. Visit our announcement area for a complete timeline and expanded details on any of the items we've mentioned on this page.

Between 2012 and 2014, we invested a significant amount of time improving and refining the main surname search engine, which resulted in better performance and greater flexibility (i.e., search options). With expanded "fuzzy logic," the overhauled engine now suggests alternate surname spellings, and also keeps track of changes since your last attempt (at the same search).

The various Community Message Boards (CMB) we created over the years were also integrated into the search results.

And, we created an Associated Name Registry (ANR) to capture maiden and married names when documents provided both. So, someone named Mrs. Jane Doe (nee Smith) will appear under DOE in the main search results, and under SMITH in the ANR results.

Our tenth home page design (2015 - present) Changes in technology and interface standards have always had a significant influence on Genealogy Today, and in 2011 a designer and a developer at Twitter created an open source project called Bootstrap. It has quickly become one of the most popular front-end frameworks in the world.

In 2015 we completed a mini-makeover to the site by utilizing Bootstrap components in various features; giving Genealogy Today a more modern feel and improved usability.

Going Mobile (2012-2017)

Our first mobile home page design (2012) Our second mobile home page design (2015) Our third mobile home page design (2017)
Around 2011, well into the age of mobile devices, we noticed an increase in the number of Genealogy Today visitors who were using them. We weren't convinced research was viable on such a device, yet a Mobile Edition of Genealogy Today was eventually created and launched in 2012 as a separate experience from the main site.

The Mobile Edition featured a limited set of capabilities, focusing on making our various search tools simpler and more effective on a smaller screen.

By 2015 we had received enough positive feedback from the Mobile Edition, that we retrofitted a mobile layout onto the main site. The result wasn't as effective, but it ensured all pages of content would be easier to read and explore on a smaller screen.

There's an advertisement for an insurance company that includes the phrase "built from the ground up...," and this is what Genealogy Today needed to provide seemless, thorough and effective experiences for devices of all shapes and sizes. In 2017, we removed all formatting and navigational items, and then reintegrated the raw content into a fully responsive design that adapts to the device accessing it.

We also took the time to address numerous inconsistencies behind the scenes (i.e., the dynamic database driven content), which resulted in a cleaner and better performing experience.

AND, by the way... the 2017 changes are still being tested and should be released to the public sometime in June.

What's New in Genealogy ... Today!
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