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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Extensive list of family history Web sites

Professor Kip Sperry at Brigham Young University has compiled an extensive list of helpful Family History Internet Sites. Many of these sites contain specific information rather than general discussions of procedures. I have no feel for how up-to-date the list is or how often it is maintained, but it appears to be a good shorter reference list. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Center for Family History and Genealogy

You may have never heard of The Center for Family History and Genealogy. This is an organization at Brigham Young University whose mission is to utilize BYU resources to simplify the finding of ancestors and the discovery of the world in which they lived; and support the training of students for life-long temple and family history service. It shares a partnership with several other organizations including
I have found few references to the Center but nevertheless it has a lot of valuable resources. It's student employees provide some of the support for the Immigrant Ancestors Project which uses emigration registers to locate information about the birthplaces of immigrants in their native countries, which is not found in the port registers and naturalization documents in the destination countries. Volunteers working with scholars and researchers at Brigham Young University are creating a database of millions of immigrants based on these emigration registers.

The Center for Family History and Genealogy also has a number of publications and other resource materials available for sale and on-line. Although its Web site appears to be poorly maintained, you should be aware of this resource.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Changes in genealogy and fear of change

In a recent conversation, I heard about a common problem. Surprisingly, this problem is not limited to older genealogists, but is a common challenge for many, young and old. It is the fear of change. The person in this conversation has a ten year plus, older computer running Windows 98. She is still using a dial-up modem and has all of her records in PAF. Many of her family members are more advanced in computers and constantly try to get her to buy a new computer. She lives on a very limited budget and cannot really afford the expense of adding a cable connection. But the real problem is not the cost, the real problem is breaking out of her comfort zone and trying some of the newer products.

In helping people with their research, I commonly get into situations where I get real hostility from someone who knows how to do the research and doesn't want me to tell them anything different. One lady, sitting across from me at a genealogy library, was in tears. It turned out she was looking for her grandmother's maiden name and was so frustrated she could no longer control her tears. When I offered to help, her reaction was surprising. She got huffy and mad at me for suggesting that there might be someplace she hadn't searched. After talking to her for fifteen or twenty minutes, I could see she did not want any of my suggestions on additional resources, even though it appeared that she didn't even know what sources she had already searched.

These stories happen almost daily. What can we do? Probably not much for some of the people caught in this trap, but it is important to realize that there is an every changing and increasing amount of primary information available every day on the Web and change is inevitable, we might as well enjoy the ride.

For example, Record Search Pilot has new records in the 1850 US Census, the 1870 US Census, and the 1900 US Census, just for one instance. Keep and open mind and you may just break through that wall stopping your research.

Genealogical surprises on the Web

When I was younger, I used to occasionally look through a toy kaleidoscope. Inside a cardboard tube, there were three mirrors in a triangle with a small viewing hole in one end and a translucent covering on the other end containing some pieces of colored rocks or glass. Looking through the viewing hole, while holding the kaleidoscope up to the light produced images of complex patterns caused by the reflections in the mirrors. No matter how beautiful the pattern was in any given moment, the slightest movement would change the pattern to something else. This ever changing pattern is a good analogy for the constant developments on the World Wide Web, particularly in the area of genealogy.

This past few days, in doing some research on Danish ancestors, I came across another of those surprises. I found that the Danes have been busy putting photos of thousands of grave markers with their indexes on the Web. In the traditional Danish fashion, these are all very well organized and readily available for free. They shouldn't be at all difficult to locate, if you know how to read Danish and can search for a particular parish. It is a little more difficult if you only read English, but not impossible. The key site is a portal called Amt-Herred-Sogn (Counties-Districts-Parishes) or DIS-Danmark. When you reach the site, there is an icon of a little British flag. When you click the British flag, the site turns into English. The entry to the grave markers is found through following the organization geographically to the individual Parish sites and then looking for the "Gravsteder" if there is one available. Like many resources, this is a work in progress, but the quality of the site and the huge amount of information is impressive. You may also wish to search on "Billeder af Gravsten." Be aware that the English translation of the site only goes so far, as you get into the more useful portions of the site you will find that everything is in Danish and you may wish to have a Danish/English dictionary handy.

Here is a link to one of the Parish sites, just in case you can't make your way through the site's organization on the first try.

As you work with the Web, you will soon realize that, just as with my childhood kaleidoscope, every day there are changes and new patterns. I feel truly sorry for those people who cannot enjoy the changing patterns and realize that the explosion of information is an answer to prayers.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In genealogy, the only constant is change itself

One of the hallmarks of the new developments in the world of on-line genealogy is the need to use updated computer systems. One of the basic components of such a system is a high speed Internet connection. Fortunately, in many places of the world, such connections are becoming more available and reasonably priced. In some areas these connections may be free in connection with other services. In our neighborhood, we just got a flyer announcing that high speed fiber optic cable was now available. New FamilySearch is graphics and data intensive, without a higher speed connection, it is almost unusable.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) has specific recommendations for computer systems for the best results in using FamilySearch. Here are the combinations of operating systems and browsers needed:

Browsers Operating Systems
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 and newer running under
• Windows XP (Home and Professional SP1 and newer)
• Windows Vista
Mozilla and newer, including Firefox also running under
• Windows XP (Home and Professional SP1 and newer)
• Windows Vista
Safari 3.12 Mac OS X (10.4 and newer)
You can use other browsers and operating systems, though some features may not work as well.

Other Requirements
• A VGA or SVGA monitor with a screen resolution of at least 800 x 600 pixels and at least 65,000 screen
• A dial-up Internet connection of 28.8 kbps or better (broadband is recommended for using the online
overviews that teach how to use the system)
• (Optional) Adobe Reader version 6.01 or higher to view and print instructions for FamilySearch
• (Optional) Adobe Flash Player version 7.0 or higher to see online overviews for FamilySearch

This information comes directly from the New FamilySearch Web site.

In today's electronics market, computer systems running this software, with more than the capability to connect to the Internet and process genealogical information, start at considerably under $500. For example a new HP a6610t with a 19" monitor and 2 GB SDRAM and a 250 GB hard drive is $499.99 at Costco. Similar prices and systems are available at many other outlets such as Best Buy, system for $379.99 and Walmart, system for $415. If you are serious about keeping up with the progress in genealogy, part of your consideration, besides spending time, should be to have the right equipment.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New FamilySearch Affiliate Ancestral Quest

Incline Software, LC, dating from 1994, is one of the oldest genealogical software companies still publishing under the same name. It currently produces two premier tools, Ancestral Quest, one of the first Windows genealogy programs available, and PAFWiz, an add-on utility for Personal Ancestral File 5 (PAF), which is one of the family tree programs derived from earlier versions of Ancestral Quest. This direct relationship between Ancestral Quest and Personal Ancestral File, Version 5 makes for an easy transition from PAF to a much newer and more useful program. To quote from their company history:

Over the years, Incline Software has aligned itself with various other companies in an effort to market Ancestral Quest. From fall of 1995 through fall of 1997, Ancestral Quest was also sold by Infobases, Inc. (and later by an affiliate of Infobases, Ancestry, Inc.) From the fall of 1998 to the fall of 2000, Incline Software partnered itself with The Hope Foundation.In 1999, with some strategic help from The Hope Foundation, Incline Software helped The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints develop its Windows version of Personal Ancestral File® (PAF). Ancestral Quest, (including programs derived from Ancestral Quest), has become the most widely used genealogy software program in the world.

Importantly, Ancestral Quest Version 12.1 is the first complete data base program to synchronize data with the Family Tree of New FamilySearch. As such, Ancestral Quest is certified by the FamilySearch to access and update the Family Tree database of To further quote their Web site, "it is also a FamilySearch certified PAF add-in, which means that a user of PAF 5 can use AQ 12.1 to synchronize his/her local PAF database with the Family Tree of new FamilySearch. So whether you use AQ by itself, or want to use PAF with AQ as an add-in, you will be able to synchronize your data with new FamilySearch." What is more important, the working released version of the program is available right now in December, 2008.

Like many genealogy programs, Incline Software's Ancestral Quest has a free trial offer. The free download is fully functional for 60 days and then will revert into a "Viewer" mode until you purchase a registration key.

One interesting feature of Ancestral Quest is that the program automatically looks up information available in and shows you the number of related records available. Of course, if you don't have a subscription to, this feature is some what useless. What is probably most important about the program is that it has the "look and feel" of Personal Ancestral File and if you are moving into a new program and have little experience with other lineage linked data base programs, Ancestral Quest can provide one of the least painful transitions to much more useful program.

Monday, December 22, 2008

15,000,000 new records on Pilot FamilySearch

Approximately every two weeks the Pilot FamilySearch Web site adds new records. This last week, as of December 8, 2008, FamilySearch announced the addition of 15,000,000 new records to the site. In an article in the Mormon Times, author Michael De Groote quoted Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager as stating that "We've got close to 150,000 active volunteer indexers indexing about a million names a day. These particular censuses are almost done. The 1870 (census) is around 99 percent done, and the 1850 (census) is not too far behind."

The article went on to indicate that the 1850 census additions were 2,027,454 indexed records for Alabama, Indiana and Missouri. There were also additions for the 1850 census (slavery) of 869,076 records in the states of Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina. The 1850 census (mortality) has 37,990 newly indexed names from the states of Alabama, Indiana and Louisiana.

The Pilot FamilySearch files have some of the best images I have ever seen of these early records. The records are available from the pull-down menu for Search Records on The same records are also available through the site for FamilySearch Labs.

New FamilySearch Affiliate RootsMagic

New FamilySearch has recently made public an affiliate program allowing third-party software developers to write programs that work in conjunction with New FamilySearch. There has been some measure of uncertainty as to whether or not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon or LDS) was going to continue to support its free software program Personal Ancestral File (PAF). The PAF program has not been updated since version 5.2. With the introduction of New FamilySearch affiliates, it certainly appears that there are no plans to upgrade PAF, although there continues to be substantial support for the product.

One of the recommended products in the affiliate program is RootsMagic. I usually purchase and install all of the serious genealogy software on my computer and use it to determine if it is truly useful or not. I am pleased to report that nearly all the software I use is very useful and RootsMagic is no exception. It comes particularly highly recommended for its implementation of citations.

In looking into the history of the product, quoting directly from the RootsMagic Web site:

Founded in 1986, RootsMagic, Inc. is a publisher of family oriented software, with headquarters in Springville, Utah. RootsMagic’s product line includes its flagship genealogy software RootsMagic, Family Reunion Organizer, and Daily Journal which is sold under the Broderbund label. In addition, RootsMagic, Inc. also hosts, the world’s most popular family reunion planning website.
The current version of RootsMagic available is 3.2.6. The features of the program implementing its connection to New FamilySearch are not available in the currently sold version of the program but are planned for version 4.0. At a recent genealogy conference at which the RootsMagic company representatives were present, I asked them about introduction of Version 4.0 and they did not yet have a release date. In going to their Web site, it still appears that Version 4.0 is yet to be released. At the computer conference, RootsMagic was selling Version 3.0 with a free upgrade to Version 4.0 when it is released.

Like many of the more useful genealogical database programs, RootsMagic offers a free Demo version of their program. I would strongly suggest that you demo any program you are interested in purchasing, before you put all of you information into the program. If you are presently using PAF, you may wish to consider RootsMagic as one of your choices.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

FamilyInsight -- a valuable tool

For the large number of genealogists still using Personal Ancestral File, the newly released upgrade to PAFInsight, called FamilyInsight, from Ohana Software, is an invaluable tool. To quote Ohana's Web site:
FamilyInsight has all the same features as PAF Insight plus several new features that are well worth having even if you cannot currently use the Sync with FamilySearch family tree mode. First and foremost, it comes in a Mac version. If you, or someone you know, has a Mac and uses a Mac based genealogy program, they can use FamilyInsight for Mac for all their clean up and synchronizing needs!
Further, as Ohana points out:
If you get GEDCOM files from other researchers, the Internet or another program, you can open those files directly into FamilyInsight without importing them into a PAF file first. This is an ideal feature for Compare and Sync. Instead of importing the GEDCOM then having to link the people and merge duplicates, use Compare and Sync. You can add the information that you need and want from the GEDCOM to your file without causing duplication.
Ohana Software also announced that FamilySearch gave them permission to develop a way to reserve name for LDS Temple ordinances and to print the Family Ordinance Requests from FamilyInsight. This will likely give Mac users a way to use their GEDCOM files directly to do this work.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More about FamilySearch Affiliates and Product Certification

You may recall from my previous post, that on the log-in page for New FamilySearch, there is a new link to affiliates and product certification. The Website explains that, "FamilySearch Certified Affiliates are third-party companies and organizations that provide products and services with features that are compatible with FamilySearch programs. Certification indicates the affiliate’s declaration of compliance with FamilySearch requirements. Note that these products and services are independently developed and supported by their respective organizations, not by FamilySearch."

It is important to focus on the comment that the products are independent. You should go to the Web sites for each of the products and check out their features and not rely on the summaries provided. Product features can change quickly and the summaries may not be as up to date as the developers' sites themselves.

Certification means that the product has been reviewed by a Board at FamilySearch which evaluates the affiliate and its marketing, support and technical capabilities. The Board also determines the features to be certified. Once the product features are certified the affiliate can use the FamilySearch Certified logo on their products, Web site and marketing literature.

For the current status of certified products, go to

Because Personal Ancestral File was always free or nominally priced, many people have unfortunately assumed that they will always be able to have free programs. The idea of having third-party certified programs is a clear indication that the LDS Church is going to rely more heavily on outside developers to add features and value to their core product, New FamilySearch or what will be called Family Tree. If you are still using Personal Ancestral File (PAF), you may wish to seriously consider investigating some of the newly upgraded and released products, either to enhance PAF's capabilities or to replace it altogether.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Christmas Card to Everyone

We wish you the most joyous Christmas and a happy New Year.

This is my Christmas card to everyone this year:

Joy to Everyone This Christmas

Please feel free to share this wonderful message with everyone.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Summary update on status of New FamilySearch

Ancestry Insider has a summary update of the status of the roll-out for New Family Search. This is the best summary I have seen to date and confirms what I have already heard, but all in one place at one time. I suggest you read it.

Ancestry Insider

Sunday, December 14, 2008

FamilySearch Affiliates and Product Certification

Recently, the start-up page for New Family Search included a heading called "More Great Products." The button says, "Click here for free, trial, and other products for new FamilySearch." Clicking on the button, takes you to a page entitled "FamilySearch Affiliates and Product Certification."

Presently, the only products listed are Ancestral Quest, Charting Companion, Family Insight, Generation Maps, Get My Ancestors, Grow Branch and RootsMagic 4. In the case of RootsMagic 4, if you click on the link, you will soon find that RootMagic 4 is not yet available, but if you buy RootsMagic 3, you will get a free upgrade. Ancestral Quest version 12.1 is presently available however, as are the remaining products.

Notably missing from this listing, as yet, are Legacy Family Tree software and Family Tree Maker 2009. Since the roll out of New Family Search is still in progress and Utah and Idaho are still not on the system, and the program is presently limited to member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons) it is likely that additional programs will not appear until the final version of New Family Search (Family Tree) is introduced to the whole genealogical community including those who are not members of the LDS Church

Stay tuned for more developments.

Friday, December 12, 2008

FamilySearch: Family Tree

If you need a more graphic list of names submitted for LDS Temple work and if you have access to New Family Search with your login and password, you may wish to look at the Temple list generated by FamilySearch: Family Tree.

Clicking on the Temple tab shows a list of all of the ordinances you have reserved and the following:

Last Name
First Name
Birth Event
Ordinance Status
To Parent
Date Submitted
Assigned To

Yes, you can find out who printed out the Family Ordinance Request and contact them about the status of the ordinances.

More later

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New release of New FamilySearch

Version 0.95 of New FamilySearch has just been released. There are apparently only a couple of changes. To read about all of the changes, go to the startup page. There is a new button on the startup page entitled "More Great Products." This page lists the affiliated products, including, Ancestral Quest, FamilyInsight and other certified products. The list of certified includes RootsMagic also.

The changes to New FamilySearch involve reserving ordinances for Temple work. There is a new agreement to comply with Church policies on doing ordinances.

Please refer to the announcement for more details.

More later.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Recent additions to Family Tree

The program known as new FamilySearch really has two components. The main component is found at The second component is found at and is known as Family Tree. It is presently the plan, according to John Greene, head of product development, to phase in Family Tree as the main interface for the program. In following this plan, new features are added to the Family Tree program from time to time.

Recently, printing a family group record was introduced. To print a Family Group Sheet from the Family Tree, open a folder for any individual, click on the relationships tab, and then click on the Family Group Sheet link.

In addition, until now, the Family Tree expanded trees without an easy way to collapse. Now, when an arrow is clicked to expand the tree, the Family Tree flips the arrow horizontally. Clicking a left arrow allows us to collapse the tree. You have to look carefully to see the small arrow is now pointing to the left of the screen. Clicking the little arrow collapses the expanded line. This is useful if you wish to scan several lines without expanding the pedigree and making it hard to follow.

Another new feature should be welcomed by all those working in new FamilySearch. Now, in Folders, from the Records Tab, the Family Tree allows us to:
  • Identify records that don’t belong by checking the checkbox to the left of the record.
  • Move the checked records to a new folder or folder that is open on the left by clicking the pulldown. We can also drag and drop selected records to an open folder on the left.
  • Drag one open folder over the top of another folder to combine the two folders.

Some of the checkboxes are deactivated and the records can’t be moved. This is a know problem and will be resolved in the near future.

Apparently, these actions are updating live data on

Continue to watch for new developments in the Family Tree program.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Use your digital camera to do research

I have to admit that I am not very good at taking notes. Usually, after I get through I can't make out what I was writing about. When it comes to doing research in family history, I have a tendency to forget what I have seen and done. I do use Research Outlines and keep track of the sources I search, but sometimes I have a hard time remembering what the source looked like until I find myself searching it again. Digital photos have changed all that and cut down the amount of time I spend reading books and records in the libraries and repositories.

This is a downloaded image, saved to a flash drive or to the computer, of a U.S. Census record. I insert this image here to show the quality of downloaded images, so you can see and compare to a digital photo.

This second image is a photograph of a cemetery document. It was taken with a Canon XTi camera at 10.1 Megapixels. I used a camera stand to hold the camera and the image was automatically transferred from the camera to my computer by a USB connection to the camera. The blue lines are the base of the camera stand and used to align the image. I realize this image is a little crooked but I use it to demonstrate the quality of the image, not how straight it is.

The second image is highly readable. If you click on either image, you will get a full size view of the two images. The photograph actually shows more in the image than it does in real life looking at the paper. Since you can magnify the image, details that would be missed on the original paper show up clearly, such as, pencil marks and erasures.

This method of collecting information has a lot of advantages. You can spend more time looking and less time copying. You can copy all of the material and not just make notes. You don't have to pay for copy costs and you can go back and read the original record anytime you want to. You also save space by not having a huge stack of old copies of books and records.

Surprisingly, I have also had good results taking pictures of microfilmed records. I just point the camera at the projected image and click away. I do have to be careful that I am bracing the camera against the projector or using a tripod. I can't say that this type of use pays for the camera, but if you take enough pictures at libraries and repositories, you can certainly save a lot in copy costs.

More later

Friday, December 5, 2008

Announcement of major WWII collection

Today, in conjunction with the National Archives and Records Administration, announced a major addition to some of their existing records. Although, some of the information in the collection has been on line, they released two important additions, an interactive USS Arizona Memorial Wall and over 8 Million Hero Pages created from US Army enlistment records.

Some of the other titles in the collection include:

You can read the full press release here, or begin exploring the collection here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What do I do with all my records? Part 2

In the last post, I talked about scanning using desktop flat-bed scanners. There are alternatives. Camera technology has increased to the point where, in some instances, cameras can do the same job or better than a flat-bed scanner. This is particularly true with the higher resolution digital cameras that are now readily available.

The resolution of digital cameras is measured in pixels. Up to a point, the more the better. Over the past few years the resolution of digital cameras has steadily increased, the average low priced (under $300) camera will take very high resolution pictures. Cameras starting at below $100 have 7.0 Megapixel resolution. One Megapixel is a resolution of one million pixels. The higher the number, roughly speaking, the higher the resolution of the camera. However, cameras priced at the low end, have fairly cheap optics or lenses. In today's market (2008) higher end cameras, around $1000, have from 12 to 15 Megapixels. The number of Megapixels is also roughly comparable to the number of sensor units in the camera. The present upper limit is about 144 megapixels.

I have found that 10.1 Megapixel cameras take photos that are as detailed as scans from a flatbed scanner for documents and printed materials. However, for photos, you can still get a better image from a flatbed scanner. If you have a lot of family letters to scan, I might suggest using your camera on a tripod or other stand. Taking photos of the pages is tremendously faster than scanning and the resolution, if over 10 Megapixels, is comparable. If you have a camera already, you might try a few photos of documents to see if the resolution is acceptable or not.

Off the subject a little, you can take your camera to the library or other record repository and if the rules allow, take pictures of the pages of the book you are citing. Don't forget to take a picture of the title page and call number. Since there is no film involved, the pictures saved to your hard drive are certainly cheaper than paying for poor quality photocopies. You can also attach a copy of the document to your file for reference. (More on this technique later).

You can also use your digital camera to take pictures of actual physical objects, i.e. dolls, jewelry, guns, etc. The pictures can then be attached to your file to illustrate a family history.

Slides are a different matter. A lot of scanners sold today advertise that they can also scan slides. This is literally true, but the quality is really poor. I have yet to see a flatbed scanner produce an acceptable scan of a 35mm slide. To do slides, you should use a scanning service or, if you have a whole lot of slides, buy a dedicated slide scanner. Unfortunately, these devices are not cheap. Nikon makes a very good slide scanner called the CoolScan but it costs over $1000. If you read a lot of reviews, you will soon discover that this is about what it costs to get an adequate scan of a slide.

More later

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What do I do with all my records?

One of the most challenging aspects of family history research is what to do with all of the stuff, papers, photographs and artifacts (heirlooms) we seem to accumulate. The companion question is how do I share my documents, photos, recordings, and so forth, with my family and other researchers. Popular genealogical publications run periodic articles on the subject and almost every seminar or conference has a class or two or even more on organization. From time to time, I will suggest some more current solutions to the problem. Technological changes have had the greatest impact on the area of storage and reproduction of all of this stuff. I will discuss the newest tools available to preserve and disseminate all of our collections of information. Please feel free to submit comments or ask questions.

The categories of items we accumulate likely fall into one of the following categories:
  • Books and manuscripts
  • Letters and journals
  • Photographs or slides including paintings and other art work
  • Original documents i.e. birth certificates, marriage certificates etc.
  • Physical objects from furniture to jewelry and everything in between
  • Voice recordings in a variety of formats including tape, cassette and digital
  • Movies including old film formats and digital
I will start out with some suggestions for photographs and slides.

Most of us have a collection of photographs either in the form of slides or physical prints. The size and format of these objects can vary considerably, from small 1/2 frame slides to huge poster size (or larger) paintings or prints. Fortunately all of these formats can be digitized in high quality and stored in a variety of storage media and then made available to our family and other interested people.

Advances in technology have made it relatively simple to digitize photographic media. Flat photos of less than standard 8.5 x 11 inch format are best scanned by a flat bed scanner. Most of the scanners sold today attach to a computer by means of a USB cable. Almost all newer computers have at least one USB port. Higher priced scanners often offer an additional faster FireWire (IEEE 1394) cable port. Your computer may or may not have a FireWire port, so you may wish to identify the types of ports your computer has before purchasing a scanner. Scanner vary in price from less than $50 to more than $5000 depending on resolution, speed and paper handling capabilities. A good scanner for photographs can be purchased for under $100. The most popular brands of scanners are Epson and Canon.

The software provided with the scanner lets you scan an image and save it to your computer's hard drive. You may wish to invest in one or more external hard drives if you plan on doing a lot of scanning. Scanned images can take up a lot of storage space on your computer's hard drive and you may run out of space. Even more important, once you spend some time scanning your images, you don't want to lose them and you will need an external hard drive to backup your images. It is best to scan all your images into one folder, with subfolders for organization, so that you can backup the folder by dragging a copy onto your external drive.

Once you have the images scanned into your computer, you will need to label and organize them. To do this organization, you can use any number of photo organizing software programs. One of the best is Picasa3. This program is free from Google. See

More later

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Always new records on

During the past few years The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been involved in a huge project to digitize all of the more than two million microfilm rolls in the Church's vast archives. In addition to the project to digitize the records, thousands of volunteers around the world are helping to prepare indexes of the digitized records. Presently, the digitized records and indexes are being made available through a Web site at:

The quality of the images exceeds that of any previous scanned images, especially those of the U.S. Census records. The search engine is adequate and gives good results. You may wish to check this site from time to time as new images come on line about every two weeks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

LDS Resources on Wiki FamilySearch

Many family history researchers are familiar with the LDS Church's publications. Some of the most useful are the locality research papers, commonly known as research outlines. There are dozens of these publications available. (See ) What is not generally known is that all of the information in these outlines, including all of the "How to..." and Research Forms are also available in two other locations. has a new tab on the portal page for Research Helps. This tab takes you to a catalog list of all of the publications, most of which are in PDF format. See

All of these research publications have also been incorporated into the FamilySearch Wiki. See

The Wiki format gives the researcher a distinct advantage, all of the information is fully searchable. Each topic has an extended table of contents, for example here is the listing for the United States Vital Records:


This research information can get you started on where to look for information or if you already have the experience, give a pleasant reminder of where to look.

Monday, November 24, 2008

WorldVitalRecords makes improvements to Ellis Island Database

A major improvement was made by to the Ellis Island database titled Ellis Island Passenger Arrival Records (1892–1924). To quote the press release: "In the past, individuals who clicked on a result from this database (containing content from The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation) were sent to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation’s website sign-up screen. Now, when they click on the link to access that database they are sent immediately to the record. This database is free to access."

" The Ellis Island database contains an index to more than 22 million records of individuals who entered the Port of New York through Ellis Island between 1892–1924. The Ellis Island database was created by more than 12,000 volunteers from who spent more than 5 million hours over seven years working on this database. The database allows approximately 40 percent of Americans to trace back their roots to an ancestor who entered this country through Ellis Island during this time period."

For more information on the Ellis Island records you can also go to The Statute of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. Website at

Thousands of digitized books

The Family History Archives now has thousands of digitized family history books on line. The collection can be accessed through the Harold B. Lee Library Website at

The address is:

You can also access the collection now from under the Research menu by going to historic books.

The participating libraries are as follows:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Have you heard of Web 2.0? What about Web 4.0?

The World Wide Web is evolving rapidly into a social networking commons. The changes in the usage of the Web are stylized as upgrades although there is no real software change called "Web 2.0" The terms are really just shorthand ways to refer to the vast changes that are happening daily. I found a really good discussion of the terms and how they are applied at the LDSTech Website.

You may be interested in learning about the new direction the Web is taking.

Read more at adds free Footnote Pages has a new free service. In a news release dated 10 Sept 2008, said:

"Losing a loved one can result in a range of emotions, from the grief and sorrow to comfort, which often comes from reminiscing stories and memories with family and friends. The challenge arises when there is no single place where all of these stories can easily come together to be shared, enriched and preserved.

Now at, anyone can find or create Footnote Pages where users connect and share stories, photos, and information about the people important to them. To kick-off the new Footnote Pages, today released over 80 million of these pages created from data from the Social Security Death Index. Most visitors will find existing pages about several deceased friends and family members already on the site."

Essentially, anyone can add to a page of the Social Security Death Index. "Described as Facebook for the Deceased, these pages feature a photo gallery, an interactive timeline and map, and other tools that bring people together to create a more colorful and rich picture of the past."

To learn more see:

WorldVitalRecords posts new collection of newspapers

WorldVitalRecords, a subscritption Website, announces a new collection of local newspapers. The aunched this week include content from 1838-2003. The papers include the following:
  • Afro American Ledger (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
  • Sunday Grit (Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA)
  • Mackenzie’s Gazette (New York, New York, USA)
  • Philadelphia Afro American (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
  • The Sporting News(St. Louis, Missouri, USA)


  • Qu’Appelle Vidette (Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, Canada)
  • Qu’Appelle Progress (Qu’Appelle Station, Saskatchewan, Canada)
  • Renfrew Advance (Renfrew, Ontario, Canada)
  • Renfrew Journal (Renfrew, Ontario, Canada)
  • Renfrew Mercury(Renfrew, Ontario, Canada)
To read about the collection, see:

Friday, November 21, 2008

FamilySearch indexing - 100 million names indexed this year

FamilySearch announced today that the FamilySearch Indexing project has indexed 100 million names this year alone. Congratulations to all of the indexing volunteers!

Results of the indexing projects are published at and includes records from the United States, Canada, Mexico, France, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, and Russia.

Anyone can participate in the world's grandest volunteer indexing project. You can even choose which records you want to help index. Current projects, upcoming projects, and completed projects are listed.

For more information, or to volunteer, visit

Self help resources on

Family History Lesson Series
The LDS Church announced that a new series of family history lessons is now available through These short lessons are available for download in .pdf format. They may be used as self-study or as supplemental lessons for family history consultants who teach family history classes. The following lessons are available:

  • Lesson 1: Perform Descendancy Research
  • Lesson 2: Conduct Family History Interviews
  • Lesson 3: Involve Children and Youth in Family History
  • Lesson 4: Write a Personal History
  • Lesson 5: Create a Family History
  • Lesson 6: Involve Your Extended Family in Family History
  • Lesson 7: Use the Internet for Family History Research

To access these lessons, go to

Check out the FamilySearch Wiki

A wiki is a type of computer software that allows users to easily create, edit and link web
pages. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites, power community websites,
and are increasingly being installed by businesses to provide affordable and effective
Intranets or for use in Knowledge Management. Ward Cunningham, developer of the first
wiki, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could
possibly work." One of the best-known wikis is Wikipedia. (Encyclopedia Britannica,
2007) See

At The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has started a wiki for supporting genealogical research. It is a valuable tool for both beginners and the more advanced researchers.