Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Who has what in genealogy? What do the large online genealogy programs really have?


Large online genealogy databases are the present day technological reality. Because they have become ubiquitous, they have also assumed a level of comprehensiveness that is entirely unwarranted. After searching in one or more of these online behemoths, an inexperienced genealogist could wrongfully conclude that there was no place left to look. In making this observation, I am in no way denigrating the importance of these huge record collections. They are fabulous and have changed the very nature of genealogical research. But at the same time, it is always important to put these huge collections of records into the context of all of the records that may be available worldwide either readily on the internet or tucked away in individual repositories.

Since these online genealogy programs have billions of records, it would be at least impractical or perhaps impossible to do a record by record comparison of their resources. But a general comparison with some examples may be helpful when evaluating the extent to which the researcher should be looking beyond confining his or her research to the large online programs. However, there is yet another important consideration. Except for FamilySearch.org, all of the other major online genealogical databases have some sort of fee for access.

In making the comparisons, I should point out my conclusion in advance: as a genealogical researcher, you should be searching in all of the programs. You cannot pick and choose without risking overlooking some crucial genealogical sources depending on your personal research objectives. It is tautological to point out that there is a nearly endless number of other online resources in addition to the large database programs, but it is also rather obvious that four websites garner the majority of the online genealogical attention. These four are FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and Findmypast.com.

At one level, any comparison is unfair and prejudicial. The fact that one program has a certain record and one of the other programs does not merely reflects the reality of doing genealogical research. There is yet no all-encompassing and complete repository, online or otherwise, that contains all of the world's records. It is rather easy to select a country around the world that is grossly underrepresented by documents in all four of the websites. This lack of genealogical resources reflects the political, social, religious and cultural backgrounds of all the countries of the world.

Now some examples. First the easy ones. Do any of the websites have records from any of the following countries? In each case, I will be checking the catalog of the website for an indication that some records about the country might be on the website. In making this comparison, I realize that FamilySearch has billions of microfilmed records available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. But I am confining my examination to "online" records only and also to records about people from a particular country and not a list of soldiers who fought a war in the country, for example.

  • Vietnam: FamilySearch.org yes, Ancestry.com no, MyHeritage.com no, Findmypast.com no 
  • Yemen: FamilySearch.org yes, Ancestry.com no, MyHeritage.com no, Findmypast.com no
  • Panama: FamilySearch.org yes, Ancestry.com yes, MyHeritage.com yes, Findmypast.com yes
  • Japan: FamilySearch.org yes, Ancestry.com yes, MyHeritage.com no, Findmypast.com no
  • Iceland: FamilySearch.org yes, Ancestry.com yes, MyHeritage.com yes, Findmypast.com no
  • Papua New Guinea: FamilySearch.org yes, Ancestry.com no, MyHeritage.com yes, Findmypast.com yes
Hmm. In some of these cases, there are only one or two records and searching all the records would be relatively quick and easy. In other cases, there were a surprisingly large number of records and no, I did not stack the deck in favor of FamilySearch. 

If you really want to do in depth research anyplace in the world, including the United States and Europe, you need to dig down into the card catalogs of all of these websites as well as look beyond the big four. If anything, this short comparison should indicate that we really do have a lot of records online and that the genealogical methodology is steady and rapidly changing. 



Friday, July 21, 2017

Family Tree Maker 2017 Finally Released



MacKiev.com has finally released its updated version of Family Tree Maker 2017. The program was discontinued by Ancestry.com back in 2015 and then licensed to MacKiev. You can read a review of the new version on GenealogyTools.com. See "Family Tree Maker 2017 Released: A Review."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

German Resources from the Brigham Young University Family History Department


If you have done any research in German language genealogy at the Brigham Young University Family History Library or at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. You probably became acquainted with the writings of Professor Roger P. Minert, a professor of family history at BYU.


Professor Minert has listed 116 books about genealogy and family history on WorldCat.org. I attended the Foundation for Eastern European Family History Studies Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah and attended a number of classes on German research. Professor Minert's name was frequently mentioned. I looked up his publications on WorldCat.org and decided to write about these resources in order to start writing about German genealogical research.

Here is the list to get started. This is the first in a series of posts about German records. These are just the books written by Professor Minert or co-authored. I think you might be interested in some of the books from just one BYU professor if you have German ancestors and this is not a complete list.

Minert, Roger P. Against the Wall: Johann Huber and the First Mormons in Austria, 2015.
———. Alsace-Lorraine place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Alte Kirchenbücher richtig lesen.: Hand- und Übungsbuch für Familiengeschichtsforscher. Wuppertal: Brockhaus, 2008.
———. Baden place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Bavaria place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Brandenburg place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Braunschweig, Oldenburg, and Thuringia place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Consolidated Index to German Immigrants in American Church Records, Volumes 1 through 14, 2015.
———. Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents: Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Historical Manuscripts, 2013.
———. Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents: Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Vital Records Written in Germany. Woods Cross, Utah: GRT Publications, 2001.
———. East Prussia place names index: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Gerhard Henrich Meinert: His Ancestors and His Descendants. Woods Cross, Utah: GRT Publications, 2000.
———. German census records, 1816-1916: the when, where, and how of a valuable genealogical resource, 2016.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. Volume 9, Volume 9,. Rockland, ME: Picton Press, 2010.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. Volume 15, Volume 15, 2014.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. Volume 16, Part 1 Volume 16, Part 1, 2014.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. Volume 17, Volume 17, 2015.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. Volume 19, Volume 19, 2016.
———. Hanover place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Hesse-Nassau place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Hesse place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. In Harm’s Way: East German Latter-Day Saints in World War II. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009.
———. Kingdom of Saxony (with Anhalt) place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Mecklenburg place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Palatinate place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Pomerania place names index: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Posen Place Name Indexes: Identifying Place Names Using Alphabetical and Reverse Alphabetical Indexes, 2015.
———. Province of Saxony place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Rhineland place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Schleswig-Holstein (with Bremen, Hamburg, and Lübeck) place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Silesia place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Spelling Variations in German Names: Solving Family History Problems through Applications of German and English Phonetics. Woods Cross, Utah: GRT Publications, 2009.
———. “The Influence of Student-Identified Factors on Enrollment in Foreign Language Courses in Public High Schools in the United States,” 1991.
———. The Rauth Family: From Bavaria to Galicia to the United States. Woods Cross, Utah: GRT Publications, 2000.
———. Under the Gun: West German and Austrian Latter-Day Saints in World War II. Provo, Utah: The Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2011.
———. Westphalia (with Hohenzollern, Lippe, Schaumburg-Lippe, & Waldeck) place names indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. West Prussia place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
———. Württemberg Place Name Indexes:Identifying Place Names Using Alphabetical and Reverse Alphabetical Index. Woods Cross, Utah: GRT Publications, 2000.
———. Württemberg place name indexes: identifying place names using alphabetical and reverse alphabetical indexes, 2015.
Minert, Roger P, and Casidy A Andersen. German Immigrants in American Church Records. Vol. 6, Vol. 6,. Rockport, ME: Picton Press, 2008.
Minert, Roger P, and Jennifer A Anderson. German Immigrants in American Church Records. Rockport, Maine: Picton Press, 2005.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. v. 1, v. 1,. Rockport, Me.: Picton Press, 2005.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. v. 2, v. 2,. Rockland], Me.: Picton Press, 2007.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. v. 3, v. 3,. Rockland], Me.: Picton Press, 2007.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. v. 4, v. 4,. Rockland, Me.: Picton Press, 2007.
———. German Immigrants in American Church Records. v. 5, v. 5,. Rockland, Me.: Picton Press, 2007.
Minert, Roger P, Kathryn Boeckel, and Caren Winters. Germans to America and the Hamburg Passenger Lists: Coordinated Schedules. Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2007.
Minert, Roger P, Shirley J Riemer, and Susan E Sirrine. Researching in Germany: A Handbook for Your Visit to the Homeland of Your Ancestors. Sacramento, CA: Lorelei Press, 2013.
Riemer, Shirley J, Roger P Minert, and Jennifer A Anderson. The German Research Companion. Sacramento, CA: Lorelei Press, 2010.
Roger P. Minert. “UP Quiz: ‘Was Soll Man Denn Sagen?’” Unteteacgerm Die Unterrichtspraxis / Teaching German 24, no. 1 (1991): 61–63.





Wednesday, July 19, 2017

25 New Videos in the Past Month from the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7hqNOQt-2AfeVEpDuc7sCA/videos
The Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel has posted 25 new video presentations in the last month with a broad range of genealogically relevant topics. We are always looking for new ideas for helpful and relevant topics. If you have any ideas for new topics, you are welcome to send them to me by means of comments to my blog posts. You can also contact the Library directly through their website.

https://sites.lib.byu.edu/familyhistory/
However, the last part of July and August have the University hosting a series of events and school holidays before Fall semester that will likely slow down our production until school gets back in full swing in September.

We invite you to subscribe to the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel, not only to receive notifications of the new videos but also to help the Library with a little more visibility among the millions of videos uploaded every day to YouTube.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Helping Others With Their Genealogical Research


One of my favorite books is T. H. White's "The Once and Future King." [White, T. H. 1939. The once and future king. Collins.] here is a quote from the book that sums up my philosophy about learning:
The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.
Look at what a lot of things there are to learn! Now, I would add one more step in this learning process: look at all the things there are to teach! And for me, there is one more step: look at all the things there are to write about!

Genealogy is an open field for learning. Isn't that great? We can keep learning every day and still not run out of things to learn. Once we have learned, we never run out of things to teach and should we be so inclined, we never run out of things to write.


Monday, July 17, 2017

What is a Digital Genealogical Workflow? Part Three: Organizing and Accessing the Digital Notes


Incorporating computers and all their iterative devices into a daily genealogical workflow is an interesting challenge. For me, the word "interesting" connotes activities that are both challenging and difficult. You can only begin to rely on a digital workflow if you have already begun to use digital devices ubiquitously. For example, if you are still using a flash drive as a primary element in your digital work flow, then you are dependent on remembering to carry a flash drive everywhere you might need one. A true conversion to a digital workflow relies on using digital items that you will automatically and consistently have with you. Fortunately, those devices now exist in the form of smartphones, tablets or iPads, computers and a means to connect all those devices together almost seamlessly.

In addition, the digital workflow assumes that you have either a way to store digital documents and images without resorting to a secondary storage device such as a flash drive or hard drive and further that you know how to integrate all of you research activities into this digital workflow.

The whole idea of digital incorporation breaks down if the genealogist resists using any one of the devices or activities involved in the process. One example is if the genealogist hates his or her smartphone and sees it as a "tether." This usually comes from a feeling of compulsion to respond to every outside inquiry that comes through that channel of access to the internet. Basic to this whole concept of using electronic devices as tools is the idea that they are "tools" and when used for purposes other than "work" they become distractions. For example, if I use my smartphone or tablet to access Facebook all day or to play video games, I am defeating the concept of using the device for a tool. Essentially, this is an issue of self-control and discipline. If you become addicted to texting or Facebook or Instagram, you will be incapable of viewing these electronic devices as working tools.

In my case, I operate in a larger genealogical community composed of many different contacts. Researching my own genealogy and that of others is a major component of what I do, but writing, presenting and working in the BYU Family History Library are also major components of my daily workflow. Depending on your own involvement, you may not feel the need to maintain almost constant contact with the larger genealogical community, but the basic tools are still part of the process.

For example, my iPhone is part of the set of digital tools that enables me to capture information from libraries, cemeteries, archives and other research location and integrate the images I capture into my workflow. But let's start at the core of the workflow concept and work outward to the use of a smartphone.

The core idea of a digital workflow is the use of a centrally located family tree program that supports all of your digital activities. The idea here is to eliminate unnecessary steps in the research process so that information is acquired, stored, evaluated and made permanently accessible in a way that avoids duplication of effort and loss of data.

To start out, I will repeat an example of moving information from a paper-based document or record, i.e. a book, through the process to storage.

Step One: Acquisition
Let's suppose that I am sitting in a library and find a book with information about my target research family. Assuming the library allows me to use my smartphone, I take a photo of the title page and the page or pages where the information is found. I have now acquired the information and the way to create a citation to the source.

Step Two: Storage
This step is automatic if I have set up my smartphone to archive all my images in an online storage program. Either while I am taking the photos, if an internet connection from my smartphone is available, or when I leave the library and once again I am online, the images are automatically transferred to an online image storage program such as Google Photos, Amazon Photos, Dropbox Photos or some other backup program.

Step Three: Evaluation
When I arrive home and I am sitting in front of my desktop computer or when I have access to my laptop or whatever, I can then review the digitized images I have gathered and begin the process of transferring all of the data into my designated family tree program. As I have written many time before, I use the FamilySearch.org Family Tree for this purpose. But, depending on your preferences, you could use another online program or a local computer-based program. This is the step where duplication of effort becomes a real issue. If you have to copy or re-key the information more than once, you will begin to resent the extra effort and either delay incorporating the information into your work flow or lose it altogether.

The Evaluation process is really where the research begins and ends. If you do not carefully examine all the information you have gathered, the whole process is a waste of time. In this process, I use a series of online documents that are available either from Google Docs, Dropbox, or some other program that allows me to keep my notes and observations in a format that is readily accessible from any one of my devices. By the way, many of the desktop programs available today, have online digital counterparts that allow you to synchronize your database to a variety of electronic devices.

Step Four: Creating Accessibility
Organizing your data is essentially the process of tagging and incorporating all of the information in an accessible fashion. For example, if I tag all of the information and add sources to every individual mentioned in the document or record, then I have a consistent and usable way to review and evaluate all the information I gather. The information then stays accessible to all my devices.

There are still a few more details that need to be addressed. I am also adding this series to the list of topics that will be covered in the future by a BYU Family History Library YouTube Video. Occasionally, I find myself repeating what I have already said or written. But this is a process of evolving ideas and come back to the same topics allows me to expand and change the perspective on what I am saying. For example, see "Taking Advantage of Your Smartphone for Genealogy - James Tanner."

Please see the following for the earlier posts in this series.

http://genealogysstar.blogspot.com/2017/07/what-is-digital-genealogical-workflow_9.html
http://genealogysstar.blogspot.com/2017/07/what-is-digital-genealogical-workflow.html

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Busy Times Ahead


During the next three weeks, I will be participating in or presenting at three different workshops and conferences. I will also be out for a camping trip away from computer connections. I anticipate times when I will not be able to post regularly. But the benefit will be that I will accumulate a whole new and long list of topics to write about.

I will be presenting at the following two conferences and also be attending the conferences:

I will also be attending a workshop sponsored by FamilySearch in Salt Lake City, Utah. We will also be camping for a week with our family. 

Sorry about the interruptions, but please take the time to view a video on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel or read some of my thousands of previous blog posts.