Family Tree Maker and RootsMagic Users — Great News!

Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Groundhog Day 2005 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

Groundhog Day 2005 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 2 February 2016 was a great day for Punxsutawney Phil (no shadow) and users of Family Tree Maker (FTM) and RootsMagic (RM) for building their family trees, collecting and storing photos and documents and adding source citations. With last December’s announcement that Ancestry.com was discontinuing support for their Family Tree Maker product at the end of 2016, FTM users collectively groaned “Oh no!” which could be heard around the genealogical globe.

There’s a cure. And I have to believe that this had been in the works for a long time because these sort of arrangements don’t happen on a whim. The Ancestry.com blog explains it in greater detail. It’s not a complicated explanation. The long and the short of it is simple.  Software MacKiev is the developer for the Mac version of FTM. They are now taking over the PC version and continue to publish it along with support and revisions.

Ancestry also announced a deal with RootsMagic whereby RM users will be able to sync their trees on Ancestry.com. The deal is best described in an Ancestry.com announcement which you can read here.

So Family Tree Maker will continue to be available after 31 December 2016. RootsMagic, a very popular and competitive product will bring thousands of family trees into the Ancestry.com data base. They offer a free trial version with limited features to get folks familiar with it. Certainly that will vastly expand the “shaky leaf” feature and also increase exponentially the possibility of DNA matches with customers who chose a test through AncestryDNA.com.

Your choices for genealogy software are certainly not limited to FTM and RootsMagic. Family Tree Builder is a product available at MyHeritage.com who offers a free limited version with upgrades at a variety of price points.

Legacy Family Tree is another free, upgradeable software program.  Legacy Family Tree

Legacy Family Tree Homepage

Legacy Family Tree Homepage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Webinars are broadcast weekly on Wednesdays dubbed “Webinar Wednesdays.” You can view upcoming topics, register for one or any that interest you. The broadcasts use GoToMeeting technology, a very simple “plug and play” process. They allow everyone to view the latest broadcast for 7 days from the date of the show. You can view the entire 300+ archive for free at any time with a paid membership.

There are other products that might interest you. Click here for “2016 BEST Genealogy Software Review” to assist you prior to making a financial commitment.

It’s all good, at least from my view.

Family tree made with "Family tree - clip...

Family tree made with “Family tree – cliparts CD” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black History Month

Here are a couple of links to research opportunities. The first is an article I found in the Huffington Post and the other is an announcement by Fold3,

This was my post to the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Societies (WMGS) Google Community:

I just read this article at the Huffington Post: http://bit.ly/Black_History_Month_Google_Cultural

Great for researchers interested in Black History. And I know there are quite a few WMGS members who would benefit.

Here’s the Fold3 announcement and my post to the WMGS Community:

Here’s the Fold3 Google Community regarding Black History Month: https://plus.google.com/+fold3

In addition to these posts, I also placed this on our Facebook page. Click here to “Like” the WMGS page.

By the way, WMGS is centered on Western Massachusetts. But there are many who have ties to the area and choose to become a member. There are members in California, Maryland, Texas and many other states. Click here to access a membership application.

We are even working on perfecting remote broadcasts whereby the membership can sit at home, wherever they live, and participate in real time.  Generally, we have a remote broadcast meeting (Google Hangouts) on odd numbered months and live appearances on even months. Our members have been able to participate and interact with nationally known genealogists.

Say “Hello” to My Little Friend! Flip-Pal

Flip-Pal

Flip-Pal

Here’s  a device that I should have bought years ago. I’ve heard about it from colleagues. I’ve seen it in the exhibit halls at genealogy conferences. I’ve read about it in the ubiquitous advertising at Facebook and other social media. How could it be that helpful.

Here’s how: Flip-Pal. It’s compact, fits in your backpack or computer bag, it’s incredibly easy to use, scans large documents a section at a time and stitches the sections together and will actually send the scans wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or laptop! What else could a research genealogist want?

I’m being completely serious when I say that it’s worth every penny and more, but don’t tell the folks at Flip-Pal….

The URL for this post is http://oldbonessearch.com/?p=4219

Copyright © 2015-2016 Old Bones Genealogy of New England

AncestryDNA versus “AncestrybyDNA”

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA. The bases lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hard to notice the difference in the name, isn’t it. Considering that one of the services is selling their test for $69, our eyes seem to glaze over when it comes to the name. AncestryDNA has certainly had its ups and downs, but for the last several months or even a couple of years, they’ve improved their testing techniques, modified the “algorithms” that produce the results and can now be highly recommended. And to be sure, I’m not talking about “AncestrybyDNA.” Be careful to notice the differences in the name!

As a matter of fact, AncestryDNA tests over 700,000 markers to arrive at their results. That fact, combined with the extraordinarily large database of family trees, they are able to make some dramatic “cousin matches.” They are not without their faults as none of the companies are. But their batting average has improved exponentially

AncestrybyDNA, on the other hand is a horse of a different color. In case you didn’t notice, the name is ANCESTRY BY DNA. Where did that “by” come from? It seems that AncestrybyDNA feels that the hidden “by” is enough to distinguish it from the vastly more effective tool for genealogists, AncestryDNA, the one with no “by” in their name.

Groupon is a company that sells products and services such as restaurant deals, clothing deals, vacation deals and lately, DNA testing deals. Keep you eye on the by!

AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe are the 3 companies that should be at the top of your list. Check them out. AncestryDNA tests ONLY autosomal DNA, often referred to as the “cousin finder.” FamilyTreeDNA offers a whole spectrum of tests with a variety of packages and prices. Very reputable. Then there’s 23andMe which has also had it’s ups and downs, but that’s another story. Let’s just say that there’s nothing to worry about with the legitimacy  or integrity of 23andMe or any of these three.

To read a bit more about this from someone who is vastly more experienced than I am, check out Judy G. Russell’s incredibly informative blog,  The Legal Genealogist. You may even consider following her. It’ll be worth it!

FamilyTreeDNA

FamilyTreeDNA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now Where Did I Put That Birth Certificate?

Many researchers justify their filing “system” with the defensive, “Oh, I know where everything is!” I know that’s what they say, because I’m saying that (to myself) all the time! I really do know where everything is, of course. It’s somewhere in my office, where else would it be?

But if you really and truly want to find that birth certificate you better set aside a large portion of your afternoon to find it. That is, if you were me.

THE FIRST PROBLEM

Years ago, I printed EVERYTHING whether I needed it or not because whatever it was, I might need it someday. Those were the days of dial-up connections. When you finally got the page to paint up, it was truly a victory worth savoring. I savored by printing.  And printing and printing. Paper clips grew to be too small; those paper “clamps” came in assorted sizes and I have them all; file folders proliferated everywhere; a used 5-drawer vertical filing cabinet (tag sale: $5.00); and 3 desk drawers for hanging folders in 3 separate desks. No problem.

THE SOLUTION TO THE FIRST PROBLEM: DROPBOX

Well, yes, that’s a problem. First line of attack was DropBox. I teach genealogy classes from start-up researchers to advanced. At one time, I printed a blizzard of handouts for the attendees. After burning out 3 printers and moving on to my forth, I began to put all classroom material in DropBox. You can see what I’ve got here. Click on the “Useful Documents” tab at the top and there you’ll find a link to “Useful Genealogy Documents.”  Now you might be saying to yourself, “Why not just give them the DropBox link.” I’m so glad you asked that question because on the surface, it seems to be the logical thing to do. Here’s the reason: In order to get to the documents folder, I’m making a visit to my website a part of the path because there’s more there than just documents! I also learned another clever strategy from DearMYRTLE that involves PayPal. More on that in another post! But now, I bring one thing to that first class, usually blank pedigree charts for everyone. Filling them out becomes a “homework assignment.”

THE SECOND PROBLEM

I have piles of paper. A better description would be mounds of paper. An even better description would be mountains of paper. But it all makes sense, you see, because I know where everything is. Just don’t ask for a specific document and I’ll find something that might come close.

So at a recent NEAPG meeting at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, we saw several excellent presentations. But one in particular inspired me. Barbara Mathews, CG and a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists among other accomplishments is a very experienced and highly qualified genealogist. She showed us how she sorted out and kept track of 11 years of research on ONE family!  It was all stacked neatly in file boxes, labeled and easy to access. That led me to a possible solution.

THE SOLUTION TO THE SECOND PROBLEM: FILE BOXES (NEATLY LABELED)

When I had a chance a few days, I dug out 8 boxes that seemed to be an appropriate size. Like Barbara, I labelled each: “genealogy,” “old bones,” client research,” “personal,” “household,” and a few other broad categories. Then came the hard part. I started to actually touch every single piece of paper in that room and casually but confidently tossing each into its appropriate box. Sounds good, right? Well, it depends. I have yet to find the time to start “sub-sorting” each box of stuff and figuring out what to do with every single piece of paper in those boxes.

THE THIRD PROBLEM

Now comes the important decisions. I’m determined to shred every last piece of paper I have. In order to get to that stage, other than fireplace fodder, I needed an organizational plan. I needed to seriously cogitate, come up with an excellent strategy so that everybody would say, “That’s brilliant.” Actually, getting to the brilliant part could be the fourth problem, but bear with me for a few more minutes.

THE SOLUTION TO THE THIRD PROBLEM: TECHNOLOGY

Technology. Remember I’ve been at this since 1969. Other than a brief 25 year hiatus, genealogy has been at the forefront of my mind and the purpose of my very existence. Other than my family, genealogy takes up nearly all of my time. As a result, the records are a critical component of my life.

So what did I have here? Client work, documents of all stripes, handouts from dozens of presentations or webinars that I have attended live and virtual, a few syllabi from conferences, presentation material, copies of applications (SAR, DAR, various genealogical societies around the country), instructions, “How-To” operate various pieces of hardware and their warranties and the list goes on and on.  First, I will devise a clever filing system. I can’t just dive into this project; it has to be logical so that I’ll be able to find everything tomorrow and 10 years from now. It would be boring for me to tell you what I’m in the midst of doing right now. OK, no, I’m really not doing any of this right now. But after the holidays…

The plan: scan and shred, scan and shred, scan and maybe shred. I use an all-in-one HP printer

The SHREDDER!

The SHREDDER!

that is reasonably reliable and, of course, my smartphone, both of which I described in my last post. But here’s the good news for me. There was a sale on the ever popular and ubiquitous Flip-Pal portable scanner. It should be here in a couple of days. These three devices will allow me to scan everything regardless of shape or condition. From the printer, I can rename it and file it immediately. The broad categories would be client work, my own family research, household documents, society documents and records (NEAPG, NERGC, WMGS, etc), genealogy class materials and curricula, medical records, warranties and a few others. From the Flip-Pal, I believe the scans will go to a flash drive or what would be even better, I might be able to scan directly to my computer. My smartphone will then be supplanted by the Flip-Pal.

The start of the "Big Fix"

The start of the “Big Fix” – Click on the image to view

Once I have all of this business electronically filed in the broad categories, I will be able to create subfolders to further sort all the data. Most of the subfolders are already created, but I’m very sure there will be more. Then, sometime in 2016 or beyond, I’ll be able to call myself “The Organized Genealogist” except someone has already claimed that moniker. I’ll have to find something else. Any suggestions?

I wish I could say that it’s a simple solution. Well, it is actually. Put things where they belong is simple. It’s just not easy. It’ll take a great deal of my time, time that I currently can’t spend. Had I known then what I know now with regards to how busy I was going to make myself…never mind, I probably wouldn’t have done anything substantially different. It’s seeing the results of poor planning that has brought me here. And now, instead of burning out my printer, I’ll probably burn out my shredder!

CONCLUSION

Actually, this is far from a conclusion. But until I get my act together and ORGANIZE my genealogical life, I won’t be able to work efficiently or sleep effectively. Seriously, this “pyramid of paper” is driving me crazy. The lesson is GET ORGANIZED!

Stay tuned for Chapter 2: How I learned to get organized and the fabulous, productive, rewarding results. This stage will have to include organizational tools such as Evernote, OneNote or anything to which I can adapt smoothly and easily, if there is such a tool!

Genealogy Research Tools

In response to an assignment arising from HOA “GenTools Study Group” I have to say that I have very little in the way of hardware to support my research efforts.

LENOVO T540p

LENOVO T540p

For online research, it’s my (not so) trusty Lenovo T540p laptop. I thought I had made a wise decision but it has been anything but! It’s nothing particularly exotic nor does it have any extraordinary features. As a matter of fact, just the process to get it working properly is in itself a long story.

I have a backup laptop. It’s an overworked DELL STUDIO XPS that overheats and shuts down. However, I can nurse it along with a cooling pad with a built in fan.  Standard equipment with this old machine!

HP Officejet Pro 8600

HP Officejet Pro 8600

Beyond that, there’s my trusty workhorse printer/scanner/fax machine, the HP Officejet Pro 8600. It’s probably the best printer/scanner/fax machine I’ve ever owned and since it was very reasonably priced, I considered it a bargain. I would recommend HP products without reservation. It has never failed to do what it was built to do. In the next several days or perhaps even several weeks, I’ll be putting this machine to task. I’m planning on scanning as many of the hundreds of documents, photos and whatever and shredding the originals in my attempt to make room here in my office for me to at least sit down at my own desk! (I might even get around to painting the walls ala Hillary Gadsby’s office!

Communication: Motorola Droid Turbo from Verizon Wireless. There are better phones, but in

Motorola Droid Turbo

Motorola Droid Turbo

my opinion, not many. I have a ridiculous number of apps installed including Find-A-Grave, Billion Graves, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and a few other genealogy related apps. The camera is excellent and I have plenty of storage. It syncs with my laptop so whatever photos I take whether grave stones or documents, it’s no problem at all to name and store them, upload them to the newly condemned Family Tree Maker then sync’d with Ancestry.com,

My Logitech headset and webcam are essential for participation in Hangouts and broadcasting/watching various webinars. Both of these items came highly recommended by DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ and have proven reliable.

Logitech HD Pro c920 Webcam

Logitech HD Pro c920 Webcam

Logitech USB Headset

Logitech USB Headset

Without a doubt, I’d really like to invest in a good portable scanning tool, a tripod that will hold my Droid horizontally and a few other items. But as you may not have realized, I have precious little room in my office for anything else…until I get “organized!”

Technology and the Ever Changing World of Genealogical Research Tools

It is easily said that I can sometimes be too quick while other times be very slow to adapt to new technologies, hardware, software, peripherals or other genealogical research tools. Tonight, of course, the old workhorse software program that I’ve “grown up with” is going away. Family Tree Maker®  is currently in its last iteration and support will only be available until 1 January 2017.

OK, that gives me plenty of time to to do one of three things:

Since I’ve already been unsuccessful trying to accustom myself to RootsMagic or Legacy…mostly due to a lack of perseverance…my choices are substantially limited. But, I’ve been here before.

Right now, I’m leaning toward abandoning all PC based software in favor of Ancestry. I’ve used Ancestry and FTM since the late 90’s and have become very comfortable of the simplicity of syncing one with the other. So I’m sorry to see that aspect go away.  The downside is reports, tables, pedigree charts and all the various data organizing products that are currently available in FTM.

Other than reports, using Ancestry.com exclusively isn’t such a bad thing. But then there’s the issue of worrying about Ancestry itself folding. This approach puts all the data I collect automatically “in the cloud.” After all, what is the cloud other than a remote server (not in the clouds!) that is a repository of data, all stored in 0’s and 1’s.

Pedigree Chart of Erskin Coleman Robison (1878-1942)

Speaking of reports, I’m not aware of any means to create any type of reports strictly out of Ancestry.com family trees. If I’m wrong, I’d happily be willing to find a way to produce the same type of reports that are currently available in FTM under “Publishing.” So that brings me back to Legacy or RootsMagic.

 

 

Now I, along with thousands of others, have some decisions to make. But as of yet, I don’t think we have enough data to even begin the process.

UPDATE: After posting this blog, I checked my email and found this link to RootsMagic. They certainly didn’t waste any time and I suspect they may have had this “in the wings” and ready to post at the appropriate time.

 

DNA Testing – Sales From the “BIG 3”

DNA_animationWhen the subject of DNA comes up, I like to give people the simplest answers so that their eyes don’t glaze over: The three types (Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA) what each can do and what each CANNOT do.  It’s important to have at least a basic understanding of your reasons to test so that you don’t waste your money or test with the wrong company.

Here are the “holiday sale” prices from the 3 companies that I generally recommend. Each name is hyperlinked to their website:

FamilyTreeDNA currently has an autosomal DNA (atDNA) test on sale for $89. That’s the DNA that comes to you from both parents. You have ABOUT 50% from Mom and ABOUT 50% from Dad. Having said that, each of your parents received ABOUT the same percentage from each of their parents. Thus, you have ABOUT 25% from each of your 4 grandparents, ABOUT 12.5% from each of your 8 great grandparents and so on until the percentage of the atDNA from a distant ancestor is too minimal to detect. These test are normally called “Cousin Finders” or “Family Finders.” Don’t expect to learn the ancient origins of your ancestors, it can’t be done with this test.

23andME has had its ups and downs but has come back strong after a few unfortunate “misunderstandings” with the FDA. They now advertise that they are the only testing company that meets FDA standards for being clinically and scientifically valid.  Truly a great opportunity to use the “cousin finder” aspect

My kids gave this to me about 25 years ago for Father's Day!

My kids gave this to me about 25 years ago for Father’s Day!

with atDNA, maternal and paternal ancestors with mtDNA and Y-DNA respectively, and, believe it or not, determine your possible ancient connection to Neanderthal, the proto-typical “caveman!” The “caveman” term is really quite misleading as we learn more about that branch of our collective tree. Currently, a single test is $199 if you order by December 13, 2015. Then if you order more tests for a family member by January 4, 2016, you’ll get a 10% discount on each.  This company will give you some very interesting health information. It’s best to check this page of the website to learn more.

Ancestry.com, the most promoted genealogical service, now has a division called AncestryDNA and their test is usually $99, it’s also on sale for $69 for Black Friday.  That’s a GREAT deal! Although they heavily promote their services, they are certainly not the “only game in town.” When they first began offering tests, Y-DNA, mtDNA and atDNA were all a part of their menu. Right from the start, they stumbled. Most of the ancestry reports they delivered showed nearly everyone with 98% Scandinavian DNA. Well, no. That was a little off. They then refined their testing algorithms, purchased other valid DNA databases and limited their services to atDNA. It makes sense since atDNA is the “cousin finder” and they have a phenomenally large collection of family trees which can theoretically be matched up with the atDNA results. First caveat is that of the millions of trees at Ancestry.com a relatively low percentage have been thoroughly researched; the data often lacks proper genealogical research meaning public records (sources) and other citations. Much of their data is from people harvesting undocumented data from other trees containing undocumented data. Their latest testing process is up to par and their matching strategies are reasonably accurate. But proceed with care!

Happy Thanksgiving and good luck in your DNA adventures!

Is a Utah Mormon the Real King of England?

There’s an interesting DNA case that has been developing in Britain. There is a dispute involving

Stitchill, Roxburghshire, Scotland

Stichill, Roxburghshire, Scotland

the 13th century Pringle of Stichill, with Stichill being a town and civil parish in the county of Roxburghshire in Scotland. Described in the article as a “bitter dispute,” 2 lines of Pringle men are battling out the true and rightful heir to the title.  Both have spent a great deal of money in the courts to sort it all out. And it all started with a simple family tree project!

Invoking DNA evidence, the case is now to be decided by the highest courts in Great Britain. The Queen herself had to make the decision to send the case to the 7 judges of the Supreme Court based on a little used law called the “Judicial Act 1833.”

Here in the Daily Mail article, you can read the details of that case and also the potential case of Mormon lawyer James Ord. He “joked” that if  DNA evidence is ruled to be admissible evidence, he may be able to make a claim to the throne. It seems that George IV sired a bevy of illegitimate children (I’ll pause for the collective gasp) and Mr. Ord may be a distant cousin of one of those offspring, an American seaman.

The Royal Family has only been subjected to DNA testing once. The case of Richard III and the DNA results from that test could prove catastrophic to the current Royal line inasmuch as it would call into doubt the lineage of Henry VII who seized the throne from Richard.

Genealogists may want to subscribe to the Daily Mail to follow these stories.

Find-A-Grave Project – BIG Project

At the November meeting of the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society (WMGS), we listened to a presentation titled, “CSI Gravestones: Causes of Death.” Although that may sound a bit on the morbid side, one of the details that most genealogists look for is the cause of death. The intriguing nature of this presentation was the highlighting of the propensities of our ancestors to “broadcast” those causes through the epitaphs carved in stone on grave markers all over New England. It’s not seen very much these days, if at all.

Mr. Nathaniel Parks Elmwood Cemetery Holyoke, Massachusetts

Mr. Nathaniel Parks
Elmwood Cemetery
Holyoke, Massachusetts

The most interesting, or rather, the most tragic gravestone I’ve ever photographed is the memorial to Mr. Nathaniel Parks who was 19 years old on the 19th of March 1794 when he was shot to death by Mr. Luther Frink. Considering the length of time between the shooting and the burial, it’s safe to assume that Mr. Frink admitted the cause of young Nathaniel’s demise. See his memorial at Find-A-Grave here.

What’s the BIG project I was talking about? Let’s get back to the WMGS meeting. Al and Betsy McKee of Longmeadow, Massachusetts have been photographing gravestones for over 20 years. They’ve traveled up and down the Connecticut River Valley from northern Massachusetts down into southern Connecticut. They have a little over 20,000 images in their  collection. They sorted out about 50 or so for us that showed causes of death: fevers, war, old age among many other causes including illnesses that we are no longer confronted with.

Since I’ve been involved with Find-A-Grave for over 15 years, it occurred to me that the McKee’s had probably uploaded many of their images to that site. At the conclusion of the presentation, I asked them about that. Well, they just never got involved with uploading to Find-A-Grave. So I proposed a collaborative project between them and WMGS.  And they’re all for it. My idea was to open an account so that the memorials that get posted would give credit to them for the photographs.

Find-A-Grave is one of the websites that researchers use on a fairly regular basis. Creating an

William Bassett Passenger on the Fortune that arrived at Plymouth in 1621

William Bassett
Passenger on the Fortune that arrived at Plymouth in 1621

account is totally free and anyone can upload any memorial as long as the memorial has not already been posted. Incredibly, there are over 140 million memorials for “regular people” all the way up to presidents and movie stars. It’s a good research tool in that using the site to search for an ancestor can turn up some surprising results. That’s the upside. The downside is that realistically, anyone can upload anything. So you may find someone who is a target of your research, but the data gleaned from such a memorial must be verified before we take it as fact. Either way, it’s just another breadcrumb in the relentless search for our ancestors.

Why put up memorials? There are many reasons. First, it is a memorial and it does just that, memorialize a family member, friend or anyone who you are familiar with who you feel deserves to be remembered in such a manner. Many of us simply like to provide the information to researchers from around the country and actually from around the world. The photo isn’t necessary, it’s more of a bonus. I’ve had email over the years from people who appreciate the fact that they can “visit” friends and family when there is no opportunity to visit the actual cemetery. One elderly woman saw her sister in one of the local cemeteries and, according to her daughter, teared up.  The cemetery is here in Massachusetts and she currently lives with her daughter and son-in-law in California with no hope of making a trip back here.

So here’s the point of this post. If you’re familiar with Find-A-Grave or even if you’re new to it and would like to take part in this project, just get in touch with me at dave@oldbones.info. As we put together the details, I’m sure we can easily find a way to allow anyone from anywhere to pitch in.