Tag Archives: genealogy

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 https://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!

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.

Chicopee Library Named LDS Family History Center

Chicopee Public Library

Chicopee Public Library

The Chicopee Public Library at 449 Front Street in Chicopee, Massachusetts has been designated a Family History Center by the

Family History Center, Salt Lake City, Utah

Family History Center,         Salt Lake City, Utah

Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). These are the folks who bring us billions of genealogical records to research at their website Family Search and they do it for free!

On Thursday, 19 November 2015, representatives from LDS will be presenting the library with a very generous check to support the genealogical activities there. For example, along with 5 or 6 other genealogists, I’ve been volunteering to assist library patrons with their own family research. In addition, the library sponsors a variety of genealogy research classes, lectures and presentations. I’ve been invited to participate in the presentation ceremony. 

Keep an eye on my schedule of activities at Old Bones Genealogy of New England and click the “Workshops/Classes” tab. You might also take a look at “Useful Documents” where I post dozens and dozens of genealogy documents, charts, spreadsheets, lists of genealogically oriented Facebook pages and a list of good websites to take a look at.

I hope to get a few pictures to post!

 

NERGC

English: Old print in Darłowo Castle with gene...

English: Old print in Darłowo Castle with genealogical information about King Eric the Pomeranian of Scandinavia, as released by image creator Ristesson; Place: Darłowo, Poland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re all talking about NERGC here in the North East.  NERGC?  So what’s NERGC?  It’s the acronym for the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium.  NERGC orchestrates a biennial conference at strategic cities here in New England.   Now it’s not RootsTech..nowhere near the size.  I believe RT had approximately 30,000 registrants this year, give or take 10,000.

No, NERGC is quite a bit smaller but of no less significance or importance to the genealogical community here.  Speakers, sponsored luncheons and dinners, workshops, society meetings, exhibitor hall with unopposed exhibit hours, speakers with national, regional and local recognition… NERGC has it all.

I can tick off a list of reasons why I took 4 days out my own very busy schedule to attend.

First, the opportunity to network with people who I know well, but only via social media: Facebook, Google Communities, Webinars, Google Hangouts on Air, the whole spectrum! I can tell you that it’s one thing to communicate virtually, but there’s nothing like looking across the table with a genealogy friend and sharing a meal or just a cup of coffee.  It’s what I would call a mini-conference.  There were mini-conferences going on all day, every day.

Second, I’d have to count the sessions that were held on all aspects of genealogy, family research and technology.  As a matter of fact, the entire first day was devoted to librarians, teachers and technology.  Not a bad place to be on Wednesday!  And I know that those who attended would agree.

Next, I’d count the individual specialty programs such as the “Ancestor Road Show.” This program is well attended and by reservation only!  A busy time for the NERGC volunteers,

And on the subject of volunteers, there are dozens of devoted genealogists at all levels of knowledge and experience in every field, volunteers who spend hours and hours in the planning and execution of each conference.

The Exhibition Hall was jam packed with representatives from many vendors and societies. The

The coat of arms of the Committee on Heraldry ...

The coat of arms of the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

genealogy website  MyHeritage was represented as well as the American-French Genealogical Society, Heritage Books, Lisa Louise’s Genealogy Gems, the Gravestone Girls, New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, New England Historic Genealogical Society, citation software vendor Evidentia, and many, many more.

So now we all have to wait until April of 2017 for the next NERGC conference which will be held at the MassMutual Center

in Springfield, Mass.

See you there!

Heritage Quest – The New Version

English: Seal of the United States Census Bure...

English: Seal of the United States Census Bureau. The blazon is defined here as: On a shield an open book beneath which is a lamp of knowledge emitting rays above in base two crossed quills. Around the whole a wreath of single leaves, surrounded by an outer band bearing between two stars the words “U.S. Department of Commerce” in the upper portion and “Bureau of the Census” in the lower portion, the lettering concentric with an inner beaded rim and an outer dentilated rim. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll readily admit that I have not been a regular user of Heritage Quest.  As a matter of fact, I would avoid it.  Probably because I didn’t know how best to take advantage of it.  When I did go there, it was usually at the library where I volunteer and occasionally teach or lecture on genealogy research principles.Today, however, I watched a video that introduced me to the new version that has just been released.  I think they hit a home run with this one.  Maybe a grand slam!

The style echos what will be the newest version of Ancestry.com once they release the beta version which some of us have been able to “get friendly with” and provide feedback to Ancestry.  More on that in another post another day.  For now, I just want to encourage everyone to take a look at Heritage Quest and see all the new features.

First, it’s a little more pleasant of an atmosphere.  Maybe, for me, it’s just that it’s a refreshed website.  But the real meat of the upgrade is the collections that you will find there.

Brief rundown: The original 6 data sets are still available but PERSI and the US Serial Set will, for now, redirect you back to the original site.  Census records are now available to 1940 given the collaboration with Ancestry.com.  The census records and other sets will now display images in 256 grey scale or color rather than “bi-tonal” making them easier to read.  You will also be able to save them, download them or e-mail them in a image format.

In addition to US Census Population Schedules, images for US Territories, Military and Naval Forces records, US Indian Census Rolls 1885-1940, Mortality Schedules from 1850 to 1880, the 1880 schedules of Dependent, Delinquent and Defective classes and select Non-Population schedules from 1850 to 1880.

English: A collage of American Revolutionary W...

English: A collage of American Revolutionary War public domain images. Clockwise from top left: Battle of Bunker Hill, Death of Montgomery at Quebec, Battle of Cowpens, “Moonlight Battle”. Interlingua: Un collage de imagines in dominio public super le Guerra de Independentia del Statos Unite. Ab sinistra superior in senso horologic: Battalia de Bunker Hill, morte de Montgomery a Quebec, Battalia de Cowpens, Battalia de Capo St. Vincente. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The complete NARA M804 Revolutionary War pension and bounty land applications with “every name index” of pension apps and applicants. All NARA pension apps are included regardless of page count or genealogical value.

The image viewer appears in either basic of advanced view without the need for any special plug-ins.  Boolean operators are not allowed (AND, OR, AND NOT, etc.) but truncation and wildcards are (Eli?abeth or Sam*).  An exact match option appears when typing begins. You are also allowed to add life events or other family members to refine your search and use double quotation marks for specific phrases (“first edition”),

All documents are downloadable in PDF format.  The site includes several pages of tips and tricks for researchers.

Map of campaigns in the Revolutionary War

Map of campaigns in the Revolutionary War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Map Guide to the US Census” has been moved to the new interactive MAPS

English: Map of US Census Bureau's geographica...

English: Map of US Census Bureau’s geographical regions Category:Census Bureau images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

section.  The maps have their own tabs, can be saved, printed or e-mailed using a right click for the option menu.

“The Census Book” by William Dollarhide is included in the MAPS section and includes blank census forms. You may be interested in other William Dollarhide books which include “American Migration Routes 1735-1815,” “New  York State Census & Substitutes,” or “Managing a Genealogical Project” among others.  They’re all available at Amazon.com.

 

I’m not familiar enough just yet to expound on the new features or any of the improvements to what has been available for a while.  But it’s certainly worth a look!

Related articles

Switched at Birth—Really!

Today I want to share with you a blog, “The Legal Genealogist” by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL who writes an amazing amount of information, all of which is useful and interesting to genealogists.  She is a lawyer, but speaks and writes in English, not “lawyer” so she’s easy to understand.  She is also a very accomplished genealogist with expertise in a variety of areas including DNA.  She lectures all over the country and is quite busy.  So I don’t know where she finds the time for all of this!

As a matter of fact, I invited her to speak at the February 2015 meeting of the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society (WMGS) in a virtual, interactive format (Google+ Hangouts on Air) which was not only very successful, but very informative.  She was in her office in New Jersey and our meeting was held in Agawam, MA.

So that’s why I’m going to recommend that after you visit this her blog, that you subscribe.

Here are the links to a remarkable story.

The Legal Genealogist: What DNA Can Tell Us

A Strange Kind of Pilgrimage 

Switched at Birth: Unraveling a Century-Old Mystery with DNA

English: The structure of DNA showing with det...

English: The structure of DNA showing with detail showing the structure of the four bases, adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine, and the location of the major and minor groove. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)