Probably one of the best resources for knowing about your family, and often the least used, is your living family. Family members don’t always have all of the genealogical information about ancestors, but what they know can help to validate or disprove theories. Information from family members can also add color and life to ancestors and give a personal connection that, if recorded and shared, can help reveal ancestors as real individuals with real lives.
Last week was the National Genealogical Society Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the speakers reviewed the history of the Hunley. The Hunley was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship. Unfortunately, her crew also died. It was a confederate ship. It was one of the first ships to use a screw propeller instead of a paddle wheel and it was powered by a crew that manually turned a crankshaft to drive the propeller.
Last month FamilySearch announced that there are now more than 140 genealogical online training courses on FamilySearch.org. I have written somewhat about these, in the past, but thought given the large increase in courses that it was worth another mention.
Gedcom (Genealogical Data Communications) is a file format that allows genealogical data to be shared between software programs. Gedcom was implemented many years ago by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to facilitate genealogical information exchange. It was subsequently adopted as a standard and virtually all genealogical software and sites support Gedcom for data exchange.
Today I received information about a new experience in family history. I am a somewhat reluctant user of Facebook. I recognize its value, but don’t really like the idea of living my life in public online. I have several family members who are crazy about it. I have watched many individuals while away hours of time at Farmville (a game where individuals create virtual farms and grow virtual crops). I have played many online games and video games in my life, so I understand some of the addiction, but I have not really understood the fascination with Farmville.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Wars are always significant for genealogists. They create many new records. In the United States, wars create draft, pay, enlistment, discharge, and pension records, just to name a few. The Civil War is no exception and there are a wealth of records in which your ancestral information may be found if they were living in the United States at the time.
It may be jumping the gun to write about it, but this last week was an exciting milestone. It is now less than one year before the 1940 US Census will be released. For the first time NARA (the National Archives and Records Administration) will be releasing a digitized version of the census at their facility on the day the census is released, April 2, 2012.
One of the questions I am often asked is, “When are all the family history centers going to close since all the information will be (or is) online.” Each time I receive this question I shake my head a little in despair.
I was reading one of the family history bloggers this last week and I read a statement that has become common. It goes something like, “Never trust anything online.” The blogger took issue with the statement and went on to say that this person had taken the statement too far. He reminded his readers that there are many source records online. These are often of better quality than the microfilm from which many of them were made.
It has been more than three years ago that access to Ancestry.com was removed from family history centers. Removed might nit be the correct wording since some of the resources of the site continued to be available, but it felt as though it was being removed. Many of the collections on Ancestry were no long available, including most of the United States census and the British census. Shortly thereafter FamilySearch worked to replace at least some of the resources by indexing the 1910 census and purchasing subscriptions to HeritageQuest online and FindMyPast, but the loss of Ancestry continued to leave a hole. That hole has now been filled as nearly all of the Ancestry.com records can now be accessed for free from the Morgan family history center.
If meta data is not a term you have heard you are probably not alone. It is a concept, however, that you will almost certainly have benefitted from if you have done any significant amount of genealogical work. Meta data, simply put, is data about data. The most common application of meta data in family history is indexed records of digital images.
Often when digital cameras and families are mentioned together we think of family gatherings, snapshots, and family memories. At RootsTech last week I had the opportunity to consider digital cameras in a new light, as digital capture devices.
Monday is Valentine’s Day. As I was talking with Anne (my wife and the publisher of The Morgan County News) this week, we were discussing my column. My mind turned towards Valentine’s Day and how it related to family history.
Last week the focus was on help available from Family History Consultants. These volunteers who work in family history centers and individually with patrons searching for ancestors are one of the best resources available for those engaging in family history. There are a number of resources available to these volunteers to help them in their assignments. Many of these resources are also available to anyone who would like to learn more and offer assistance to others.
r more than 170 years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been involved in doing family history work. In 1894 the Church organized the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) to help individuals discover their ancestors. The GSU at one time had members like any other society, but slowly changed into a non-profit organization without members which was sponsored by the Church to help individuals around the world find their ancestors. As the Internet arrived and the Church began offering services online, the GSU began using the website FamilySearch.org. This then slowly took hold until the organization was renamed last year to FamilySearch.
FamilySearch had a bloggers call this last week and there were some interesting highlights. The pace of digitization is steadily increasing. Last year FamilySearch added more than 4 million images to their collection. This year the number will increase substantially. FamilySearch has yet to hit the rate at which they will ultimately reach in producing digital images and other records. They are still projecting to have their collection fully digitized within the next eight years. This goal now seems possible.
When I was growing up I often heard my father comment, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I have seen the truth of this countless times in life. The many garage sales, and the success of them, attest to the accuracy of the statement. My son was laughing when he came home from a friend’s house a couple of months ago. He said, “Dad, my friend’s mom came home with deformed candles from a garage sale. People will buy anything.”
We are only a few weeks away from a brand new conference sponsored by FamilySearch, Ancestry, and the New England Historical Genealogical Society. The conference is called RootsTech and for those who enjoy genealogy and technology it will be a conference not to miss. It will be held February 10-12 at the Salt Palace.
Those who are regular readers will know that I work for FamilySearch. In my role there I have responsibility for Patron Services. My team provides help for individuals around the world to find their ancestors and use FamilySearch software.
Often as I am working with genealogists they express sadness that they cannot get more members of their family to become engaged in family history. Many of them have been doing family history for years. Sometimes they have rooms full of information on their research and no one in their family with which they can share it.
I have written several times about FindMyPast. Over the past few months they have continued to add to their collection. Along with FamilySearch, FindMyPast has become the single best place to search for British ancestors.
Two weeks ago, I discussed getting started with family history. I outlined an approach that began with starting with what you know. By writing down what you know, looking at photographs and other items and connecting with other family members substantial family information can often be complied.
It is just after Thanksgiving and many of us are sitting at home in the after turkey stupor. If you are like me you are taking shelter indoors from the cold and enjoying time with the family. I love the holidays and the traditions handed down through the years from family. It is a great time of year to do family history.
One of the most daunting tasks in family history can be just getting started. “Where do I begin? “ Is one of the most common questions I am asked. Like many things in family history the answer is simple, and not so simple.
It is becoming a mobile world. Everywhere you go people are on phones, texting, and posting pictures of their life to Facebook and other social media sites. This is happening from wherever the person is at that moment. Last year when my son had his wisdom teeth out he asked the oral surgeon if he could record it so he could post it online.
Have you ever gotten stuck while doing family history and wished that you had a personal trainer to help you and teach you how to do research the way the professionals do? If so, you are in good company. Everyone comes upon a problem they don’t know how to solve at some point.
This last week I had the opportunity to speak about family history centers. Family history centers are a part of my responsibilities at FamilySearch.
Over the past several years FamilySearch has been articulating a strategy to bring all possible records online. This began in earnest last year and is accelerating. Many millions of names and images will be posted this year and the pace is accelerating.
Ancestry.com is the leading commercial genealogy company worldwide. With more than 6 billion records including the full set of census records for both the United States and the United Kingdom as well as one of the best sets of immigration records worldwide they set the standard by which all other companies are measured.
The United States began as a relationship between the colonies that later became states. In the beginning, this relationship was one of a loose confederation primarily to fight the war of Independence. Once the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, the entity we now know as the United States came into existence. Even with this change the states retained much of their authority and responsibility.
This last week I visited the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum in Morgan. If you have not been there, it is worth a visit. It is next to the log cabin across the street from Larry’s Spring Chicken Inn and Stephs.
Over the past several years FamilySearch has been adding to the resources available to answer questions online. I find that many individuals who use the FamilySearch sites are unaware of the help resources available.
As more people have begun using Macs (Apple’s personal computer) over the past few years I have often been asked if I could recommend a record manager for the Mac. I have consistently replied that there are no good record managers for the Mac and that I run one of the Windows record managers in Parallels on my Mac. Today I will change my reply.
I had not previously used Legacy Family Tree and my impressions from the beginning were very positive. The screens are clean, uncluttered, easy to understand, and easy to navigate. There is a free product and a premium version for $29.95. As with most of these products, the premium version is worth the small additional investment.
Last week I attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference in Knoxville Tennessee. The Federation of Genealogical Societies is an organization made up of genealogical societies (wow, redundant).
Family Tree Maker is a record manager from Ancestry.com. Ancestry has been steadily enhancing this product for many years. It has always been a strong product, but has grown to be one of the best record managers in the marketplace. The cost of the software is $39.95, making it a little more expensive than most. Ancestry is about to ship a new version of the software.
If you are a long time PAF user (Personal Ancestral File, the free record manager available from FamilySearch) and want to continue using PAF, but also take advantage of the features of new FamilySearch, consider FamilyInsight.
Over the next few weeks I will provide a review of Record Managers. I will begin with RootsMagic. RootsMagic has two products. They have a free product called RootsMagic Essential and a more full featured product that sells for $29.95. In my experience the $29.95 is well worth the cost.
The past few years have seen many entrants providing software for family history. The new FamilySearch pedigree software has added significantly to this mix for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
FamilySearch, a nonprofit sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has family history centers dotting the globe. There are more than 4,500 family history centers in more than eighty countries around the world.
Last week I focused on resources that are not available online. Unfortunately, this still represents the majority of family history records. This week I will focus on the main sites where you can find online records.
Julie Miller, a genealogist with whom I have worked over the past few years writes a column for The Broomfield Enterprise. She recently wrote and article which started me thinking. Her article focused on the fact that while the Internet is a great resource, not everything can be found online.
Over the years I have been doing family history I have occasionally heard someone claim they have their line traced back to Adam. I have from a researcher hired by my grandma, a record which shows my Mecham line traced back to Adam. Unfortunately, these claims are fantasy.
In March, FindMyPast.com announced that many of the Chelsea Pensioner records have been digitized and indexed. This is a big deal because they are the records on anyone who received a pension from the British Army from 1760 to 1913. At the end of last week they announced that they had added 100,000 records to the collection.