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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

FamilySearch Record Search Pilot update -- new records

In an announcement dated 30 January 2009, the Record Search Pilot added 5 new collections with 7.8 million records. The new collections are:

Germany Burials 1500 - 1900 (index, no images)
Netherlands Births and Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths and Burials (3 collections, index, no images)
Philippines Marriages (index, no images)

Always of interest is the progress with the U.S. Census records. The 1850 U.S. Census is complete with the Mortality and Slave schedules. Also 99% complete are the 1860 and 1870 U.S. Censuses. The 1880 U.S. Census is complete but there are no images. The 1900 U.S. Census is also complete. The 1920 U.S. Census is 2% complete.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Genealogy and History for the San Francisco Bay Area

If you happen to have family members from the San Francisco Bay area, you should know about This extremely useful Website is sponsored in part by the California Genealogical Society and Library. The California Genealogical Society also has a blog.

Here is some of the content added to just in the last two or three days:

29 January: San Francisco: Central Methodist Episcopal Church directory, 1910 by Nancy Pratt-Melton
28 January: Marin County: Kentfield School Graduates, 1913 by Cathy Gowdy
28 January: Marin County: Marin County Grammar School Graduates, 1913 by Cathy Gowdy
28 January: Marin County: St. Raphael’s Grammar School, 1908-11 by Carolyn Schwab
28 January: Marin County: San Rafael High School graduates, 1908-11 by Carolyn Schwab
28 January: Marin County: Dominican College graduates, 1890, 1892, 1895-98, 1910-11 by Carolyn Schwab

The list of recent additions is impressive. Their Research Tools are very interesting and useful, including archaic medical terms, birthday calculators, cost of living calculators, and other links to useful sites.

In doing research on old California families, I have found this site to be very helpful in providing links to original documents and indexes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New way to deliver Family History training

FamilySearch support has announced a new way of delivering Family History training. This new method is being tested beginning with a series of classes on handwriting. These classes will be taught both in person at the Family History Library on January 31st and at the same time will be broadcast over the Internet. All interested persons need to register for the classes by sending an e-mail message to with the words “Internet Broadcast” in the subject line. Registered persons will receive instructions through e-mail on how to attend the event. Those attending the class through the Internet will be able to see the computer presentation and hear the presenter’s voice. They will also be able to ask questions by typing the question into a chat “pod.” The submitted questions will be relayed in person through the broadcast host and then answered by the presenter. The number of computers that can join these classes is limited, and registration will end no later than Friday, January 30 at 4 P.M. (MST). Below are the classes that will be offered.

Early American Handwriting
9:00 A.M. (MST)

Older English Handwriting
10:30 A.M. (MST)

Germanic Scandinavian Gothic Handwriting
1:00 P.M. (MST)

Certain search requests have negative impact on New FamilySearch

In a recent announcement from John Vilburn of Ohana Software LLC, users of FamilyInsight were notified that certain search requests can have a negative impact on performance of the New FamilySearch system. The effect of this disables all access from third-party products, including FamilyInsight. The FamilySearch team is investigating this problem and expects to have a solution in place in the near future.

As an interim measure, Ohana has added some safeguards to FamilyInsight to help alleviate this problem. They indicate that it is essential that everyone who is using FamilyInsight update to the latest version (2009.1.23.0 or later). To see which version you have, open FamilyInsight and go to the Help menu on the menu bar and click on About FamilyInsight.

To get the latest version, go to and click on the Download button on the bar at the top.

If you need assistance with this please contact Ohana Software at or go to and click on the Live Support box in the left column to chat
with a support representative.

Thanks to Ohana for the alert.

Genealogy's Star now on Facebook and Twitter

Genealogy's Star has a Facebook page. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Facebook, it is a social networking Website. If you go to the page, you will see the same posts updated from the blog.

Twitter is another social networking site. It has a very limited format. You communicate in Tweets of less than 140 characters. The twitter screen name is genealogysstar.

Whether or not you think online social networking is a positive or a negative force, it is certainly here to stay. Presently, social networking is highly stratified according to age, meaning that the users are more likely to be younger than 35 years old. But, the age factor is changing rapidly with more and more older people connecting through the medium.

Books We Own

Books We Own is a look-up resource for international genealogical research. To quote their Web page:
Books We Own is a list of resources owned/accessed by individuals who are willing to look up genealogical information and e-mail or snail mail it to others who request it. This is a free service - volunteers may ask for reimbursement of copies and postage if information is provided via snail-mail. The project began in 1996 as a way for members of the ROOTS-L mailing list to share their resources with one another. Today, there are over 1500 volunteers.
The resources on their Website are organized by country and by family. The U.S. resources are further organized by religious groups, native Americans, Mayflower resources, Revolutionary War, Civil War and other historical events. There is a further regional organization.

Some of the lists are pretty sparse, but others have dozens of reference works that could be consulted. It is worth a look at this site if you do not have a reference library close at hand. But I would also check the Family History Archive, Google Books and other on-line resources of digitized books.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) was established in 1999 as a resource for networking among researchers. RAOGK links researchers who need documents from a distant location with others able to obtain them. RAOGK is a global volunteer organization. With volunteers in every U.S. state and many International locations. This Lincoln, Nebraska, based organization is administered by Bridgett and Dale Schneider. Both are former employees of and The site is solely funded by contributions from appreciative users and sales from its two online stores: RAOGK Logo Gear and Genealogy For You.

The RAOGK volunteers have agreed to do a free genealogy research task at least once per month in their local area as an act of kindness. While the volunteers of RAOGK have agreed to donate their time for free, the requester MUST PAY the volunteer for his/her expenses in fulfilling the request (copies, printing fees, postage, film or video tape, parking fees, etc.).

Volunteers are expected to reply to a new request between 48 hours and 2 weeks of receipt. This response lets the requester know that the volunteer received the request and whether he or she can honor it or not. The reply should also advise the requester if there will be any reimbursement of costs that may occur and a general idea of that total. The volunteers give a time frame within which they feel they can accomplish the request. If the volunteer cannot honor the request they will let the requester know this as well, so the requester can move on to another volunteer.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sustainability of Digital Formats Planning for Library of Congress Collections

The Library of Congress has a huge amount of information on digital content formats and the factors that affect sustainability. Anyone who has lost (or almost lost) a file because it was stored in an unsupported format (i.e. an old MacWrite file) will find this Web site fascinating. The discussion deals with still images, sound, moving images, text, Web archives and generic formats. Most of the discussion is very technical, but not so technical as to make the information unusable. This section of the Library is part of the National Digital Information Infrastructure.

One example of the highly useful information is the Digitization Guidelines. The Web site includes a Podcast and slides. Although some of the Websites get bogged down in bureaucratic jargon, if you work your way through all the levels you can find some interesting questions and their answers, such as "When seeking to acquire a body of digital content with the intention of sustaining it for the long term, which formats are preferred or acceptable and why?"

You may also be interested in the Global Digital Format Registry. The GDFR is a collaborative project of the Harvard University Library, NARA and OCLC with funding generously provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

There is a lot of practical information such as "E-mail should be saved and managed just like any other important digital file. Save important personal e-mail on a hard drive or storage disk as simple text files, making sure to capture the header information. Ask if your employer has a policy about saving work-related e-mail. You may also print out important e-mails."

The amount of information on this series of Websites is astounding.

Constant additions to FamilySearch Pilot records

I have to keep coming up with innovative titles for reports on the new records added to Record Search - Pilot Site, now part of FamilySearch. As of January 23, 2009, the new collections include The Irish Civil Registrations, California San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, and 1869 Argentina Census records. Just as a note, the 1870 U.S. Census is now 99% indexed.

Watch the Family History Archives grow

I hope you have been noticing that I am keeping a running tally of the number of scanned books added to the Family History Archive on the right side of this blog. If you have been watching, you will see that the number of books went up by 418 books in the last two days. Since I have been watching the tally lately, the number has gone up over 1000 volumes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ancestral Quest 12.1

I finally got time to upgrade my version of Ancestral Quest from version 11 to version 12.1. The motivation for the upgrade was the link to New FamilySearch. Although this link may not have a lot of importance for those who cannot yet register for New FamilySearch, it is a boon to those who can. The official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on access to New FamilySearch is found in the help document ID: 100087 (see link above):
The new FamilySearch will be implemented gradually until it is available worldwide, first to Church members and then to the public. Announcements will be posted on the Web site continually as the new FamilySearch is gradually released.
At this time, nonmembers do not have access to, nor can they register for, the new FamilySearch, with the exception that the family history center director can get temporary sign-in names from Headquarters Support for their nonmember staff members who need to access the system. These staff members need access to the system to be able to help members use the new FamilySearch.
Ancestral Quest 12.1 is a very good implementation of the interface for synchronizing information between your own personal data and the information in New FamilySearch. I did find that you may need to study the instructions as the process, as a whole, is quite involved and complicated. If you are living in an area where access to New FamilySearch is available, and if you are already using Ancestral Quest, then the upgrade is essential.

If you are one of the millions of Personal Ancestral File users who are now using a program that hasn't been upgraded since 2002, you should certainly look into buying a copy of the new Ancestral Quest.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't forget blogs as a family history resource

The number of blogs (Web Logs) on the Internet continues to increase. Likely, there are more blogs added each day than anyone could look at or comprehend. Some of these blogs contain valuable family history information with extensive documentation. One of best I have seen in this category is The AncestorFiles. The site is full of narratives, photos and items are extensively documented. The blogger has been blogging since 2007 and her archives are extensive.

Another example in a different mode, is Blind Pig & the Acorn. The blogger indicates that she is "Bloggin' About My Appalachian Heritage." It is a gem of a site and very entertaining. It is also a repository for a lot of old time and heritage traditions. It is well worth looking at. You might want to explore some of her extensive links to similar blogs.

Try searching in Google Blogs Search for surnames or places. You are likely to find someone in both categories. Trying out the search on some really small places, still produced a few blogs from the local folks. There is only so much time allowed to each of us in this life. The choices online seem endless and we can get caught up in reading what are essentially gossip columns on the Web. But just because there is a lot of fluff, does not mean that there is not some real meat out there.

Additions to Family History Archive and New Version of FamilyInsight

The Family History Archive continues to grow rapidly. In last few days they have added another 123 books to the online collection of digitized family history books. To quote their Web site:
The archive includes histories of families, county and local histories, how-to books on genealogy, genealogy magazines and periodicals (including some international), medieval books (including histories and pedigrees), and gazetteers. It also includes some specialized collections such as the Filipino card collection and the “Liahona Elders Journal.” The books come from the collections of the FamilySearch Family History Library, the Allen County Public Library, the Houston Public Library – Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, the Mid-Continent Public Library – Midwest Genealogy Center, the BYU Harold B. Lee Library, the BYU Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Library.
See my previous posts for links to all of the libraries.

In addition to the new items in the Family History Archives, Ohana Software has issued another update to their program FamilyInsight. The latest version is 2009.1.20.0. The good thing about the updates is the that they add functionality and correct bugs in the program. If you are a registered user the upgrades are free and load automatically when you open the program if you are connected to the Internet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New records on FamilySearch Pilot update

As of January 20, 2009, the following new collections of records have been added to the FamilySearch Pilot (also found on FamilySearch Labs):

1920 U.S. Census (Alabama)
1916 Canada Census
Costa Rica Church Records
Mexico Aguascalientes Church Records

The following collections have been updated with new records:

1870 U. S. Census
1850 U. S. Census (all schedules)

The 1920 U.S. Census is only 2% complete as of this date, but updates are coming regularly.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blogging for family history

There is a really amazing amount of family history available on the Internet and more of it is now in the form of personal Websites known as blogs. These mostly free Websites have an amazing range of content, but focusing on those relating to family history gives us a totally new perspective. In the not too distant past, if we wanted to share our family's story, we were mostly limited to producing self-published books. Unfortunately, the cost usually meant the only a few dozen or so were published. A few were given to libraries and the rest went on our relatives' shelves where they were mostly forgotten. Later, if we were lucky, a rare book dealer might have one or two copies of the book for sale at a tremendously inflated price.

Having worked in a Family History Library for years, from first-hand experience, I know that very few of the patrons even bother to check to see if there is a surname book about their ancestors and even when they are shown a book, they are only mildly interested. All of this research was locked up and mostly unavailable to those who were truly interested.

All of this has now changed dramatically. Because of the vast search engines on the Internet, such as Google, Yahoo and others, finding information about a specific individual is now entirely possible, even if it is in an obscure blog that no one reads. Google has a specific search for blogs, usually located under a tab identified as "more" on the Google menu. A quick blog search on genealogy and "family history" returned 449,341 sites. A search on "genealogy" alone, returned 87,700,000 sites. A blog search on one of my own family names returned 220,000 sites on that one name. Obviously, I need to be more specific, but the point is that there is an amazing amount of information available.

Maybe you should consider joining the throngs of people sharing their family history. Be careful, however, blogging can be one of those activities that can become addictive and start eating up all of your time. If you would like to see what it takes to get started, you might look at some, or all, of the following:

Read this book: Stauffer, Todd. How to Do Everything with Your Web 2.0 Blog. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Look at these Websites:

Google's Blogger -- probably the easiest way to get started in blogging.
Intel's Typepad -- claims to be the world's premier blogging service.
Wordpress -- Very popular.
ExpressionEngine -- claims to be the most flexible.

There are a lot more and I am sure that everyone has their own favorite. You might start by reading Wikipedia's article on blogging.

Good luck (you will need it).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Digital Roots -- Tools for Family History

Digital Roots is a non-profit BYU research laboratory dedicated to simplifying family history through the creation of powerful and intuitive software tools in the Department of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. It was initiated in 2003 by Dr. William R. Barrett and Dr. Thomas W. Sederberg.

The research focuses on developing software tools for family history. Digital Roots provides a mentoring environment in which undergraduate, Masters, and Ph.D. students work as a team under the direction of faculty advisors.

The laboratory has produced two free software programs; OnePage Genealogy prints your entire family tree on a large sheet of paper. The software can be downloaded from the Web site. OnePage Genealogy currently offers several different types of charts, including standard pedigree, timeline pedigree, descendancy charts and blank charts.

Relationship Finder the other free software product, is a tool to find relationships between people using Ancestral File Data. You can find out how you are related to notable historic individuals as well as anyone else.

Free is nice.

Upcoming BYU Genealogy Conferences

The next BYU conferences pertaining to genealogy include the Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy Conference, the Family History Technology Workshop and the 2009 FamilySearch Developers Conference on March 12-14, 2009 at the BYU campus in Provo, Utah.

The 9th Annual Family History Technology Workshop is $75 ($85 walk-in) for registration and is one day, on March 12, 2009. This workshop provides a forum for presenting and discussing current and emerging research work on technology that supports family history and genealogy. Results should address technology problems whose solutions have the potential to improve family-history and genealogical research work. The format of the workshop will include a keynote speaker, panel discussions and technical presentations.

The twelfth annual Computerized Genealogy Conference is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14, 2009. This conference is designed to be a how-to guide for everyone—beginning, intermediate, and advanced researchers. The focus of the conference is to help everyone learn how new computer programs and advancements in existing programs can improve family history and genealogy work. The theme of this year's Conference is "Building a Lasting Legacy."

Early registration for the 2009 FamilySearch Developers Conference is $60.00 and $80.00 after February 27th. Registration online closes on March 10. The Conference is designed for family history and genealogy software developers to enable them to get in contact with others who are using similar development technologies, confronting common technical challenges, and to share clever solutions.

The 2009 FamilySearch Developers Conference is intended to allow developers to earn from FamilySearch engineers and community developers about the new FamilySearch Web Services (API), including the new Family Tree, RecordSearch, Identity, Authorities, and Catalog modules.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

FamilySearch Wiki Community To Do Page

The essence of a wiki is the collaboration of its readers and contributors. Anyone can help the FamilySearch Wiki grow into the most useful genealogical reference source on the Web. Some the most recent suggested projects include the following:
The Research Outlines on were added to the Wiki several months ago. There is a current effort to make sure all the remaining Research Guidance and Research Helps content on are successfully copied to the FamilySearch Research Wiki. You can help with this effort by joining the discussion efforts on the project page at: Task to Copy Research Guidance and Help Content.

There are a multitude of additional tasks, some easily accomplished, others requiring intensive effort on the Community To Do Page.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

FamilySearch Alpha

One of the most visited genealogy sites on the Internet, FamilySearch, has undergone some recent changes in the format of its portal page. By viewing the Alpha site on FamilySearch Labs, you could come to the conclusion that there are many more changes coming in the not too distant future. Very few of the links are yet connected, but a review of the items on the page gives a few indications of the direction the Web site may take.

The major links include Indexing, Research Tips, Library and Blog. The Blog link is active and takes you to some interesting information on Family Tree and the FamilySearch Wiki.

If you are interested, the feedback link also works and you can participate in the development of this new version of the Web site.

Updates to New FamilySearch

As of January 12 and 13, 2009 the Help Center on New FamilySearch published 135 new articles with changes and additions to the instructions for the program. The releases of the program were in June 2007, November 2007, February 2008, May 2008, August 2008 and the last one in November 2008. These changes to the Help Center seem to be clarifications of existing issues and previously issued instructions.

If you have had a problem with New FamilySearch in the past you may wish to re-visit the Help Center. When you do a search, click on the advanced search function. In the advanced search window you can choose to search articles published within the last week or month or six months or year. Depending on how long it has been since you last looked for help, so you can chose to search that time period.

I also understand that the Las Vegas Temple District went live with New FamilySearch this week. There is still no announcement on when Utah and Idaho will be added.

New update to FamilyInsight

According to OhanaSoftware, changes were made to the New FamilySearch Web site recently that make it necessary to update to the 2008.12.9 or later version of FamilyInsight for some searches to work without crashing. Users are urged to use the "Check for Updates" tool in the Help menu bar of FamilyInsight to update to the latest version of FamilyInsight. Updates may also be obtained by going directly to the OhanaSoftware Web site. The latest version appears to be 2009.1.5.0 of FamilyInsight.

This issue points up an important fact of life for computer users, especially those using Web based applications, like New FamilySearch and Family Tree, upgrades happen constantly. Computer systems are not like buying a non-electronic appliance. It is not like an electric razor or a drill, the Internet is constantly changing and your software, an ultimately your hardware needs to evolve along with the changes. Unless you keep your programs up-to-date, you may wake up one morning and find that the program no longer works.

By the way, the changes to FamilyInsight are more than cosmetic. The startup menu is more informative and several other changes have been made that make the program easier to use.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inexpensive transfer of video and audio to your computer

Roxio, a long time participant in the realm of audio and video software has a new device called the Roxio Video Capture USB. This $49.99 connector looks like a USB or Flash Drive with pigtails. Using this inexpensive interface and the Roxio programs, you can convert from VHS, Hi8 and V8 and transfer them to DVD. It will also work with audio devices so you can transfer from LPs and tapes. Video is captured in full DVD quality (720x480). The minimum system requirements are:
  • Microsoft® Windows Vista™ Home Basic, Windows® XP SP2 (32- or 64-bit), 1 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM
  • 1024x768 DirectX 9 compatible graphics card with at least 16-bit color setting, sound card, DVD-ROM drive
  • Available USB 2.0 port
You may have to check your system configuration to determine whether the Video Capture USB would work. You would also have to purchase Roxio Creator 2009 a $79.99 program.

I have successfully transferred almost every format imagined to my computers, but I have found that the equipment to do so can be very confusing. I was able to buy all the right connectors are Radio Shack, but every time I go back to record a cassette tape or whatever, I have to remake the whole system and try to remember what each cable plugs into. This USB device looks like a much simpler solution.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Readers and Followers

You may have several blogs you would like to review every once and while. These may include genealogy blogs, like this one or blogs of family or friends. To help you know when a new post has been added to a blog, there are several reader programs. A reader program, also known as an aggregator program, lets you subscribe to any number of blogs or even websites, and then notifies you automatically if the blog or Website changes. Any time there is a new post, you will get a notification on your reader or aggregator giving you a summary. You then have the option of skipping the post or going to the blog and reading the new information.

There are several reader and aggregator programs on the Internet, like Google Reader, Blogline, NetNewsWire (for Apple computers), SharpReader, Liferea (for Linux) and many, many more. These programs will operate right on your desktop and help you keep track of as many blogs and Web pages as you can stand to read.

Some of you are reading this blog may have noticed there is a group of people called followers, in this case, listed in the right hand column. These people are essentially fans of that particular blog. If you become a follower, you will not only get automatic notices of any changes in the blog, and, if you choose to do so, your Web name and or Photo can appear as a supporter of a particular Web site.

There are tens of thousands of genealogy blogs and Web sites. Being a follower gives you some measure of organization and control over what you actually want to read. Having a reader or aggregator is really the only way to keep up with your friends and family members. Some of my children has three and four blogs going on the Internet before I figured out that the only way I was going to keep up with my family was to read their blogs.

Please feel free to sign onto this blog as a follower.

As you may soon learn, blogs are a really great way to keep in touch with family members, but even better, they are a wonderful way to

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Graveyard Rabbit

The Association of Graveyard Rabbits is an extremely valuable genealogically related organization. The Association describes itself as an association dedicated to the academic promotion of the historical importance of cemeteries, grave markers, and the family history to be learned from a study of burial customs, burying grounds, and tombstones; and the social promotion of the study of cemeteries, the preservation of cemeteries, and the transcription of genealogical/historical information written in cemeteries. To further quote the Association's Web site:
The Association was named for Frank Lebby Stanton's poem, The Graveyard Rabbit. Although the poem is about superstitions associated with graveyard rabbits, Stanton also establishes that such rabbits have a charmingly intimate knowledge of graveyards and a loving association with the dead. These traits are the motivation of the human beings interested in this group.

The quote is:
“In the white moonlight, where the willow waves, He halfway gallops among the graves---A tiny ghost in the gloom and gleam,Content to dwell where the dead men dream,” that is the Graveyard Rabbit.
The directory of its associates includes individual organizations located mostly in the Eastern and Southern United States, but with significant membership in Canada and several European countries including Poland and the Netherlands.

The associated sites are full of useful information and occasionally photos of gravemarkers. It is a very useful site with all of its connections and affiliates and should be on everyone's reference list.

WeRelate -- genealogical social network

WeRelate is billed as the world's largest genealogical wiki. It is a cross between a wiki and social networking site with individual pages for ancestors rather than social networking "friends." It is a project developed by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy, Inc. in partnership with the Allen County Public Library. Because it is a wiki, individuals can add and change information in real time, allowing relatives to collaborate on the details of their individual families. Individual pages can contain photos and scanned documents and can contain as much, or little information as may be available. Information can be added or changed at any time.

Because it is a wiki, WeRelate is responsive to change. Pages can be created indivdually or by uploading a GEDCOM file which will create a page for every individual in your file. There is an upper limit of 10 megabytes to the size of the file that can be uploaded. Pages can contain both text and graphic. Scanned images can also be annotated by putting notes on the image. Photo images can be tagged with the names of the individuals. Data can be viewed in pedigree format, and on a variety of maps and timelines through the Family Tree Explorer.

Individual pages can be put on a "watch list" so that the those on the watch list will be notified if any changes are made to an individual page. The wiki also contains research helps, including article, maps, place name pages, alternate name index and a source index. WeRelate claims to have the largest historical and current inhabited place name index with over 430,000 inhabited places. Users can also search over 1.2 million sources, including the Family History Library Catalog.

Each user can have a dashboard showing the people who are watching the same pages you are and allowing individuals to connect and communicate in the wiki without using their personal E-mail address.

The non-traditional interface takes some time to get used to, but this is a site worth exploring.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Family Tree Builder 3 -- First impressions

Family Tree Builder 3 is free downloadable program from MyHeritage. The program is designed to work in conjunction with a Web site containing the information in the local file. It is advertised to run in 29 different languages and lets you create and print your family tree in several languages. To quote MyHeritage's promotional material:
Bring your family tree to life with photos and documents and use our ground-breaking face recognition technology to annotate your photos and discover the identity of people you don't recognize in your old family photos. In a few mouse clicks, you can publish your family tree to the Internet on your own family Website and share it with family and friends!
Downloading the Family Tree Builder program is easy and it readily imports a GEDCOM file. I created a GEDCOM of my own family file from my Legacy FamilyTree database. I then imported the file containing 7020 individuals including photos and sources. My first discovery was that in trying to see if the matching feature worked, I was told that the feature would only work if the file was backed-up to the Internet on the MyHeritage Web site. So I began that process only to be told that the "free or basic" version of the program was limited to only 500 individuals. I chose not to upgrade and loaded the 500 individuals onto the Web site. The upload was rather slow although I have a cable connection to the Internet.

When I finally got through with the lengthy process, it turns out that the program arbitrary selected 500 individuals to load into the online file which didn't include the first names in my own family file. It appears that only by paying the fee for the upgrade, which was quite reasonable, would I have a workable file. If you really want to use the free version, it appears that you should only do so if you have file of less than 500 individuals.

I continued to look at the Family Tree Builder application and looked for the sources. I was finally able to find where the program had put the sources, but unfortunately, the sources were no longer attached to the person's events. The program then crashed and I had to restart it. Before getting back to my data, I was asked twice if I wanted to upgrade the program.

I couldn't believe that the source citations were not attached to an event, but that did seem to be the case, when I finally got back into the program. In addition, in looking at an individual that I knew had extensive source citations, I found that none of the detail from the sources had come across from Legacy FamilyTree.

In short, I found my initial inspection of Family Tree Builder 3, to be somewhat disappointing. The program may be adequate for some needs, but without a more robust system of citation, I could not recommend it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Updates to FamilySearch Record Search Pilot Site

Records are continually added to the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot Site by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints due to the efforts of thousands of volunteer indexers across the world. This massive record scanning project has produced millions or indexed records that can be searched through the Pilot Site.

When viewing the records it is important to note both the percentage of completion and the date the records were last updated. Since many of the collections posted on line are not complete, this information will give you an idea of how much additional information may still be added in the future. To find the date of the last update and the percentage of completion, all you need to do is click on any particular collection.

For example, clicking on the 1850 United States Census collection shows that the collection was last updated on 12 Dec 2008. The 1900 U.S. Census was last updated on 6 Dec 2008. If the collection is not complete, for example the collection of West Virginia Births 1853-1930, then there will be a bar showing the percentage of completion. West Virginia Births 1853-1930 were last updated on 20 Dec 2008 and are 94% completed. Any qualifications on the availability of the records will also be explained.

Some of the Pilot Site records are available in index only format, such as the West Virginia Births 1853-1930. Other records, such as the 1900 U.S. Census have fully digitized images as well as an index. The list of available collections indicates whether or not images are available, those collections without images state "(No Images)." If there is no index yet available and the images are complete, for example Louisiana, War of 1812 Pension Lists, then the description allows you to browse the unindexed images.

The Record Search Pilot Site is raising the standard for availability of records on the Internet. It is important to keep in mind the date of the last update, whether the images are indexed or not and the percentage of completion.

Live Roots

Live Roots went on the Web in October of 2008 released by Genealogy Today LLC. As described in their October 10, 2008 press release:
Live Roots extends beyond the typical bounds of a traditional search engine or link directory by facilitating access to offline records and publications through partnerships with amateur and professional researchers who either own copies or are geographically close to the libraries and archives that do. In a few quick steps, visitors will be able to hire a researcher to obtain digital copies (scanned or hi-res photo) of pages referencing a specific name (or surname).
A search on one of my family names showed some links to some very interesting resources, including some that I was already familiar with. In my particular search it appeared that most of the returns were links to commercial Web sites like Ancestry. com, but there were a few different kinds of sites referenced. This is definitely a site worth watching.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Update on FamilySearch Indexing

The redesign of the FamilySearch homepage has revealed a new tab for "Index Records." Clicking the tab takes you to the entry page for FamilySearch Indexing, the project by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to in the millions of rolls of microfilm in the Church's archives. The microfilm is being scanned, by high speed/high quality scanners and then sent out to volunteers from around the world who transcribe and index the records. Anyone can volunteer and spend as little as half an hour a week indexing records. Some people spend considerably more time.

The projects are made available for use by anyone with access to the Internet at FamilySearch Labs and Pilot FamilySearch.

The list of current projects is huge. Here is the list:
The list of upcoming projects is equally as long.

  • FamilySearch Indexing
    • Argentina Buenos Aires 1855 Census (Argentina Buenos Aires 1855 Census)
    • Arizona - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Arkansas - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Arkansas County Marriages V
    • AUS_New South Wales-Newspaper Cuttings
    • Chicago Archdiocese Cemetery Records 1
    • Colorado - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Connecticut - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Cornwall Parish Certificates
    • Cornwall Parish Registers
    • Delaware - 1920 US Federal Census
    • District of Columbia - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Espana Avila Garganta del Villar (Espana Avila Garganta del Villar)
    • Essex Parish Registers
    • Florida - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Georgia - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Hidalgo - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Hidalgo - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Idaho - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Indiana - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Iowa - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Jalisco - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Jalisco - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Kansas - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Kentucky - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Louisiana - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Maine - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Maryland - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Massachusetts - 1855 State Census
    • Massachusetts Death Records 1906-1915
    • Massachusetts Death Registers 1915
    • Massachusetts Marriages Part 2
    • Mexico - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Mexico - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Michigan - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Michoacan - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Michoacan - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Minnesota - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Minnesota 1895 State Census
    • Mississippi - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Missouri - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Montana - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Nayarit - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Nayarit - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Nebraska - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Nevada - 1920 US Federal Census
    • New Brunswick 1861 Census
    • New Hampshire - 1920 US Federal Census
    • New Hampshire - Early to 1900 Deaths
    • New Jersey - 1920 US Federal Census
    • New Mexico - 1920 US Federal Census
    • New York - 1865 State Census - L1
    • New York - 1875 State Census - L1
    • New York - 1905 State Census
    • New York - 1920 US Federal Census
    • North Carolina - 1920 US Federal Census
    • North Dakota - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Nova Scotia 1861 Census
    • Nuevo Leon - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Nuevo Leon - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Oaxaca - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Oaxaca - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Ohio - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Oklahoma - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Oregon - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Pennsylvania - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Peru-Lima-Civil Registration Index (Peru-Lima-Civil Registration Index)
    • Prince Edward Island 1861 Census
    • Puebla - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Puebla - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Queretaro - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Queretaro - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Québec Régistres Paroisseaux (Quebec Catholic Parish Registers)
    • Rhode Island - 1920 US Federal Census
    • Rhode Island 1915 State Census
    • San Luis Potosi - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (San Luis Potosi - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Sinaloa - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Sinaloa - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Sonora - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Sonora - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Tabasco - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Tabasco - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Tamaulipas - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Tamaulipas - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • UK-Cheshire-Parish Records 01
    • Ukraine Kyiv 1840-1842 (Ukraine Kyiv 1840-1842)
    • Veracruz - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Veracruz - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Warwickshire Parish Registers
    • Württemberg Kirchenbücher (Wurttemberg Church Books)
    • Yucatan - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Yucatan - 1930 Mexico Census)
    • Zacatecas - Censo de Mexico de 1930 (Zacatecas - 1930 Mexico Census)

  • Indiana Genealogical Society
    • Indiana Marriages, April 1905 - December 1957

  • Ohio Genealogical Society
    • Ohio Tax - 3 of 4
    • Ohio Tax - 4 of 4
Please refer to the site for the list of projects completed.

United States Genealogy Sleuth

One of the most concise and usable collections of genealogical links is found on the ProGenealogists Web site. The site becomes a good check list determining if you have checked the basic online sources. Some of the links are out-of-date and broken, but the actual Web sites may still be available with a Google search. There are some omissions of newer sites also. One obvious missing link is the new Pilot FamilySearch Web site although there is a link to FamilySearch. Although this is not a new resource on the Web, it is a valuable one.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New records on FamilySearch Pilot

Approximately 4 million new records were added to the FamilySearch Pilot search site. This site can be accessed from FamilySearch under the "Search Records" tab or directly at FamilySearch Labs. Two existing collections were added; Arizona Death Certificates from 1870 - 1951 and Hungary Funeral Notices from 1840 to 1990. The Arizona records have been available through the Arizona Department of Heath Services Vital Records Home Page or more directly under Arizona Genealogy Birth and Death Certificates.

Records have been added to the following collections:

1850 US Census (including mortality and slave schedules)
1870 US Census
1900 US Census
West Virginia Births 1853-1930, Deaths 1853-1970 and Marriages 1853-1970 (no images)
Czech Republic, Southern Bohemia, Trebon Archive, Church Books 1650-1900 (un-indexed)
Hungary Funeral Notices 1840-1990 (Primarily for Budapest and the surrounding area)
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro Civil Registration, 1889-2006

You may wish to check this Web site frequently to see the new or updated collections. Any updates are marked with a red star.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

WorldCat focus on: genealogy

To quote from their promotional materials,
WorldCat is a cooperatively-created catalog of materials held in more than 7,600 libraries in the United States and the rest of the world, including public, academic, state and national libraries; archives; and historical societies. These libraries have cataloged their regular collections as well as many special collections—including digitized materials—devoted to local history. This makes WorldCat a unique tool for your research into your heritage.

Because WorldCat is a "super" catalog of more than 1 billion library holdings representing 54 million items held in libraries, you can reduce the number of places you search to locate useful material. WorldCat complements tools such as the LDS Family History Library, and ProQuest's HeritageQuest™.

You can get access to WorldCat in two different ways, through a library offering FirstSearch service through on-site public access and through on the Internet. See the publication "WorldCat for genealogy, A Tutorial." Depending on which part of the Web site you believe, the WorldCat has information on to up to 69,000 libraries world wide. WorldCat provides information about the library materials and where available, links to digitized versions of the materials.

As an example a search under the term "Nephi Utah" produced this document located in the Brigham Young University Library:

Greenhalgh, Sadie H. Chronology of Nephi Branch, 1851-1868; Nephi Stake of Zion, 1868-1877; Juab Stake of Zion, 1877-1974; Nephi Utah Stake, Jan. 20, 1974. 1982.

One amazing thing about WorldCat is that when you do find a book or other item, the Web site gives you the distance in miles to libraries holding the material arranged from the closest to the most distance.

WorldCat can also be featured on your Facebook and other social networking accounts. You can use this FaceBook connection to build your own list of favorite books and other links. This is one of the truely amazing programs on the Web and any serious researcher, in any discipline, including genealogy should be familiar with it.

Update on the MyBlood genealogy program

Since my last post, I received the license key and got into the MyBlood program. It appears to be missing some vital components in its present release, such as a way to import a GEDCOM file into an existing file, a way to merge two files and a way to add sources. Without these vital functions the program is interesting but not yet useful. I will keep you posted if the program becomes functional.

New program for PCs and Macs -- MyBlood

Thanks to Dick Eastman's online Newsletter for the link to a new genealogy program that will run on both PCs and Macs. It is called MyBlood. Right now it is in the developmental stage but it promises to have some outstanding features including being translated into any language. The program is presently available in English, Dutch, German, Spanish and French. But the program comes with tools to translate it into any language. The program has been developed by Vertical Horizon, a company in Belgium. The company is apparently owned by Geert Jadoul, a programmer whose experience goes back to programs for the Apple Newton, hand held computer in the 1990s.

MyBlood is available in an Alpha 2 download which means it is in pre-Beta release form. It is likely that some of the features do not work yet and the program is not stable and my crash. For the time being, the program is free and there is nothing on the Web site that indicates what the final price might be. I am always looking for new programs that run on the Macintosh, since I run both Macs and PCs side-by-side.

Some features of the new program, MyBlood, immediately caught my eye, one was the ability to show a media item and then assign people to the item, rather than the other way around. This feature will make it a lot easier to assign a photo, for example, to all the people shown. The program also claims to have implemented all of the GEDCOM elements, which means that it may be able to import data completely from any other GEDCOM compatible program. (See my previous post about GEDCOM).

From the menu items available it looks like the program will support all of the LDS or Mormon genealogical data fields as well as the Person Identifier from New FamilySearch.

I downloaded a copy for both my iMac and my PC and I am presently waiting for a license key to activate the programs. I will be very interested to see if the program has good sourcing and other features.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Beyond PAF -- lineage linked database programs

Because of the backing by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) Personal Ancestral File (PAF) has become the dominant platform for storing genealogical data. The utility of PAF has been guaranteed by the implementation of the Genealogical Data Communications Standard or GEDCOM. GEDCOM is an Extensible Markup Language or XML. If you would like to see what kind of information is stored in a PAF GEDCOM file, try opening a file with a word processor or text editor. For example, a .ged file will readily open in Microsoft Word or most any other word processing program. PAF normally stores its file in a .paf format, a file format specific to PAF, howver, any file in PAF can be exported into the GEDCOM format through the export function in the program.

Because the information stored in the PAF program can be exported to a GEDCOM or .ged file, that information can be shared with any other program using the same standard file format. Many other third party programs use the GEDCOM standard. To name a few, RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, Reunion for the Macintosh, Family Origins, MacFamilyTree and many more.

As the GEDCOM standard was developed, the standard was designed to recognize a large number of data types. However, not all of these data types were used by PAF. Other programs used more or less of the data types in their particular implementation of the GEDCOM standard. As a result, transferring data between programs may or may not include all of the fields in any particular program. For example a Legacy file exported to a GEDCOM and then imported into PAF will contain only the data that the two programs recognize in common.

Some programs avoid this problem with importing PAF files by allowing the user to import a PAF file directly without converting it to a GEDCOM file. For example, Legacy Family Tree will import files directly from PAF and from Ancestral Quest.

The purpose for this discussion is to illustrate that nearly all of the currently available genealogical database programs will import the information from PAF, either directly or through a GEDCOM file. If you chose to move your information from your existing PAF file to some other program, you can likely do so without losing any of your PAF data. However, once you begin to enter new information into the new program, it may be that some of that data would be lost if you again try to transfer the information back into PAF format.

PAF has not been updated since version 5.2.18 as of August 2002. There are currently no plans to update the program. You may wish to begin looking at using an alternative before the current PAF program no longer works with the current operating systems of the computer. This has already happened with the Macintosh version of the program. The old program of Personal Ancestral File for the Macintosh version 2.3.1 will no longer run on the newer Macintosh computers.