Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Digitized genealogy in the Denver Public Library
One very useful source is the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. "The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (CHNC) currently includes 147 newspapers published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923. CHNC contains over 477,000 digitized pages and is a joint endeavor of the Colorado State Library, the Colorado Historical Society, and generous donors throughout the state."
Also check out the links to the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Historical Society.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Revisiting Bing for Genealogy Searches
Bing has been introduced with a huge sales campaign. Recent news articles have even suggested that people prefer Bing to Google.
First of all, Bing has a lot of contemporary links on its home page. My first impression would be that I would have to spend some time figuring out how to get rid of references to Michael Jackson and vacation destinations, all of which has no interest to me at all. I already know that I don't care for Microsoft's mapping program, so that is one strike down already.
Right now I am researching the Mormon Pioneer settlement of Arizona. So I chose a search term "mormon pioneer settlement arizona" that I have used extensively on Google. When I made the same search on Bing, I got some general references to Mormons and Pioneers, but what I did not get was any direct reference to the book by James H. McClintock called, in part, "Mormon Settlement in Arizona." There just happen to be a half a dozen or so complete text and digitized copies of this book on the Internet.
My first effort showed me that Bing is not there yet. But, let's try again. This time I choose a completely different area and search term, "immigration records 1864." On Google I got over 100,000 returns with many very specific sites on the first page of hits. The results of the same search on Bing returned more hits and apparently about the same selection of results.
Now it was back to a more specific search, this time for a person I knew was mentioned in hundreds of sites on the Web, my Great-grandfather, Henry Martin Tanner. In Bing, interestingly, the search found only 14 references including an indirect reference to McClintock's book, but missed any of the references in the Arizona State Archive's collection.
The same search on Google found 5,970 references to "henry martin tanner" including the Arizona Archives Online on the first page of results.
I am going to have to conclude that Bing is not there yet. It does OK with a general search, finding major Websites like Ancestry.com, but on a search for a specific term such as the name of an ancestor, it is sadly lacking in depth and usability. I also did not find that Bing was yet an alternative to Google that I would spend my time making a double search.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Provo Temple District to go on New FamilySearch
Members who are not Priesthood leaders will not be given access to the program. Members may only have access through a Priesthood leader or Family History Consultant.
Online Digitized Collections for Genealogy
By far the largest collection is in Google Books. A single word search in Google Books on "genealogy" returns over 160,000 books.
Here is a list of digital collections dealing with books pertinent to genealogy:
- Google Books [160,557] Only a minority of the books are completely digitized
- American Memory (Library of Congress)
- Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (Library of Congress)
- Digital Quaker Collection (Earlham School of Religion)
- Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina)
- Family History Archives (Brigham Young University)
- Internet Text Archive
- Making of America (Cornell University)
- Making of America (University of Michigan)
- The New York Times (from 1851)
- Perry-Castaneda Map Collection: Historical Maps (University of Texas)
- Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection (Cornell University)
Useful for clergy, anti-slavery activists, African Americans, local history
- Their Own Words (Dickinson College)
- Canadian Genealogy Centre
- Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy
- National Archives and Records Administration
- New York Public Library Digital Library
- Online Archive of California
Saturday, June 27, 2009
New Collections on FamilySearch Record Search Pilot
FamilySearch Record Search Pilot announced three new collections have just been published. The new collections include the Rhode Island Census of 1915; the Netherlands, Limburg Parish Register Transcripts from 1600 to 1822; and the Australia, New South Wales alphabetical index to newspaper cuttings from 1841 to 1987.
Limburg is the southern-most of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. It is located in the southeastern part of the country and bordered by Belgium to the south and part of the west, Germany to the east, the Dutch province of North Brabant partly to the west, and the province of Gelderland to the north. Its capital is Maastricht. Wikipedia.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Update on release of New FamilySearch
Consultants in the following Utah and Idaho temple districts have been sent instructions to begin viewing the online training modules:
- St. George Utah
- Mount Timpanogos Utah
- Bountiful Utah
- Salt Lake Utah
- Ogden Utah
- Draper Utah
- Idaho Falls Idaho
- Twin Falls Idaho
- Monticello Utah
- Rexburg Idaho
- Manti Utah
- Vernal Utah
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Substantial RootsMagic Update
NEW / CHANGED
- Added an option to select the default starting side-list page (or use previous side-list page) in Tools > File options
- The Scrapbook report now has an editable title
- The NFS Match screen and Sync screen have been combined into a single tabbed screen
- Renamed “Tools > Database options” to “Tools > File options”
- Primary facts now works properly in reports, screens, etc.
- Fixed ‘List index out of bounds (-1)’ error when creating a Fact List
- Fact type “exists” now works properly in search criteria
- Name doesn’t disappear from edit screen list after the name is edited
- Fixed “Allow close matches” in NameFind in RM Explorer
- Fixed “Sounds like” search for name fields in RM Explorer
- LDS template will now save ordinance statuses if no date or temple was entered
- Deleting the birth or death for a person removes the year from the Explorer list
- Citation memorize / paste now includes any images attached to the citation
- :Age modifier works in sample sentence and customize sentence in edit screen now
- Alternate name date is now exported to GEDCOM
- Alternate name privacy setting is now exported to GEDCOM
- Fixed a few issues with some source templates
- RM remembers size of Edit Media window
- When importing an older RM (v1-3) file, RM4 defaults new filename to same name (except with .rmgc extension)
- Fixed some issues when importing some older Family Origins files
- Merging preserves the notes of the person being merged in
- Fixed the random freezing in various New FamilySearch screens
- Fixed error 400 problem when combining records in NFS
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
More changes to FamilySearch Alpha
The future of film is digital -- film preservation in a digital age
So much of our genealogical heritage is wrapped up in images, from individual pictures to rolls of microfilm, we should all be aware of this milestone in a changing technology. Aware, as in making sure that our photographic film technology is preserved into the digital age.
The National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America's film heritage. We support activities nationwide that preserve American films and improve film access for study, education, and exhibition. Although the thrust of the NFPF is the preservation of movies, the technology applies to the preservation of all types of film products.
The current standards for film preservation can be found through the Library of Congress.
You may also wish to view the Library of Congress' Preservation page. There are extensive articles on Caring for Your Collections and Preparing, Protecting, Preserving Family Treasures.
If you chose to preserve your photos or movies digitally, then don't forget to migrate the digitized images to new media from time to time to preserve the accessibility.
More on this topic later.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The Genealogical Society of Utah and FamilySearch
One of the major programs of FamilySearch is digitize and provide online access to copyrighted microfilm preserved in the Granite Mountain Records Vault. In addition, this major undertaking has been expanded to join with other record repositories to provide free services to archives and other records custodians who are interested in preserving their collections. You may wish to review the FamilySearch FAQs site.
The Genealogical Society of Utah is separate from the The Utah Genealogical Association. The Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) was formally organized September 25, 1971, and chartered December 1, 1971, by the State of Utah as a nonprofit educational organization. The Association's interests are worldwide. It is not affiliated with any religious or political organization.
Now I know why I had trouble keeping all of this straight. But I am glad I sorted it out.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Two of the more popular widget makers are are Widgetbox and Clearsping, both of which seem to have been used for more useful, as opposed to entertaining, widgets. The widget makers advertise for you to create, distribute, track and monetize widgets. Clearspring also advertises distributing your content as "viral widgets."
A search on Widgetbox on the term "genealogy" brings up dozens of widgets dedicated to genealogy. Looking at a sample of the widgets shows that most have only a few installs, but some have over 100.
It is hard to tell who is sponsoring these genealogy widgets, but it appears that most of them, presently, are from private individuals. Some of the developers, seem to be using the genealogy tie-in to promote other causes, some of which might be found by some to be objectionable. As in any online viewing, caution is required to avoid bad content.
It is likely that we will see widgets everywhere on the Web, even more than we do now, in the immediate future.
Friday, June 19, 2009
FamilySearch on Facebook
Part of the discussion stream on the Facebook FamilySearch was about the design of the new FamilySearch Alpha found on FamilySearch Labs. FamilySearch is described by the Alpha site as follows:
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.Although the Facebook site for FamilySearch has the official FamilySearch logo, it is not readily apparent whether or not there is any official connection between the Website and FamilySearch.
From The Genealogical Society of Utah Website:
FamilySearch is dedicated to promoting the preservation of genealogical information throughout the world. FamilySearch has its roots in the Genealogical Society of Utah. The society, established in 1894, is an incorporated, nonprofit educational institution entirely funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
FamilySearch Alpha-- What is it?
FamilySearch Alpha is the beginning of a great new world. The purpose of the project is to replace the current www.FamilySearch.org website with a new site at the same address that integrates all of the new technologies and record sets we’ve been working on (like Record Search, Family Tree, Research Wiki, etc.) into one easy to use experience. Instead of using these tools individually, you will simply go to www.FamilySearch.org to work on your family history.Although they do not reveal any time frame, they do state that:
There are quite a few new features already on the FamilySearch Alpha Website and it is interesting to speculate what will be the final direction of FamilySearch.
The first release will introduce a fresh new look and feel and integrate the following features:
- Search for historical records (leveraging Record Search and Library Catalog technology)
- Learning and how-to (showcasing the Research Wiki and Library Research Series)
- Find a Family History Center (updated to leverage the cool new maps.lds.org)
- And much more.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Really cool -- Google Squared
A search for "immigration lists" produces ships passenger lists, Germans to America and many, many other results.
Almost any general search term is going to produce a useful matrix with helpful information. This is definitely a tool worth knowing about.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sychronization revisited -- New FamilySearch
My initial reaction to Ancestral Quest was very positive. The program showed great promise in getting some control over the huge duplication issue. The duplication problem was lessened somewhat when FamilySearch increased the number of possible combinations to 150. But some of my ancestors still had hundreds of duplicates, way over the limit.
My first impression of RootMagic 4 was not quite so positive, but the most recent upgrade was very impressive and seemed to put RootsMagic out in front of the feature race (if there is one).
Both programs were a distinctly positive step towards avoiding duplication but the problem is quite complex. New FamilySearch is supposed to provide a way for LDS Church members to avoid duplication in submitting the names of individuals for their Temple Ordinances. However, the existence of multiple copies of individuals in the database adds to rather than eliminates the possibility of duplication of ordinance work. The instructions with New FamilySearch encourage users to combine duplicates, however, that is a tedious and rather difficult process and, in my experience, most users have no idea how to combine individuals or even that it is necessary.
The clear advantage of both RootsMagic and Ancestral Quest over using New FamilySearch directly, is the fact that they both search for duplicate individuals and combine them in a more simple and direct fashion than can be done through the New FamilySearch interface (or even the Family Tree interface). For this reason alone, I am strongly urging all of those using New FamilySearch to use either (or both) of the programs rather than relying on the New FamilySearch program alone to find duplicates.
In comparing the two programs, RootsMagic and Ancestral Quest, there are immediately some differences. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. It appears, at this point, that Ancestral Quest is better at searching for an finding duplicate individuals. In some instances, where there are a number of children in a family, for example, RootsMagic will fail to find all of the family members until the individuals are searched, making it appear that family members are missing from New FamilySearch. In this situation, the first reaction is to add the missing family members to New FamilySearch, causing even more duplication. However, if the missing family members are searched for individually by RootsMagic and combined with their own duplicates in New FamilySearch, they suddenly appear in the RootsMagic family search list of children.
It is likely that both of these programs will have issues, especially as New FamilySearch continues to evolve and change. The rule set down by FamilySearch in their documentation is extremely important:
Both RootsMagic and Ancestral Quest are valuable tools that should be a consideration for anyone spending time in New FamilySearch.
Generally, LDS pioneer ancestors already have had their ordinance work completed. They either received the ordinances while they were living, or their descendants have performed the ordinances on their behalf. Because many early pioneers have a large number of descendants who have submitted family history work to the Church:
- It is not uncommon to find large amounts of duplicate information about these individuals in the new FamilySearch Web site.
- This may prompt a patron to want to match and combine much of the duplicate information for each pioneer ancestor.
- A limit on the number of records that can be combined has been set in the system to reduce the impact on system performance.
If a member has a pioneer ancestor containing a large amount of information in the new FamilySearch Web site:
- Only combine duplicate information until you find his or her ordinance dates.
- When you find the ordinance information, stop combining.
Over time, changes to the new FamilySearch Web site will be made that will improve the way the information about these pioneer ancestors is accessed and displayed.
Monday, June 15, 2009
More Stakes get access to New FamilySearch
- St. George Utah
- Boise Idaho
- Mount Timpanogos Utah
- Bountiful Utah
- Salt Lake Utah
- Ogden Utah
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The limitations of transcribed or indexed records
One recent example, in a Census record the birthplace was listed in the index as "New York." However, an examination of the original image from the Census record showed the place as "New York City" crossed out, thus giving a valuable clue that was left out of the transcribed document. It is obvious that original information on any document be inaccurate or incorrect but it also obvious that any time the document is transcribed or indexed there may be additional mistakes.
In addition to the example above concerning Record Search Pilot, many other online resources advertise access to millions or even billions of records. However, upon examination, it is clear that in some cases, the so-called "records" are really transcribed indexes or lists rather than images of the original documents. This is not altogether bad, especially if the original record was a list or compilation. But each time someone looks at a record and makes a decision about what it says, there is a danger that mistakes will be made. It is only logical that the fewer people are in this line of transcription, the greater chance that the record is accurate.
The Rules of Evidence used in our court system recognize the lack of reliability of secondary or derivative sources through the rules on hearsay, that is, secondary testimony about what someone else has said or written. The exceptions to the rule against hearsay testimony are allowed only when there are other reasons to believe the validity of the record or conversation. In almost every case, a transcript or index of original records would be considered hearsay and only allowed into court under one of the various exceptions.
A great deal of the recent discussion about genealogical research centers on the need for sources. Elizabeth Shown Mills' major work, Evidence Explained, discusses the different levels of legal proof and also the difference between original and derivative sources. In paragraph 1.23, Mills concludes that "Neither databases nor indexes are records per se." See
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore, Md: Genealogical Pub. Co, 2007.
It is indeed fortunate the digitized copies of original source documents are becoming more and more common on the Internet. But, it is likewise important to always remember the distinction between the original record and any derivative record. This issue has come forcibly to the forefront for me on a daily basis in giving support to people using New FamilySearch. Among those who view the information online, there is a general tendency to accept what is there as "fact" rather than recognizing how far the information is removed from any actual source. I frequently get requests from individuals asking me to help them "copy their genealogy down from New FamilySearch." In some cases, I have had to turn over the question to someone else because I did not feel that I could answer the person without offending them. I see the same tendency in information obtained from the large online databases. Once the desired information is found, in whatever format, it is merely accepted as a fact.
As recently as today, I was talking with a researcher who had totally contradictory evidence from two different sources. However, rather than evaluate the sources, she accepted both as true and was asking me to support her conclusion.
If I could not rely on information to get passed the hearsay rule of evidence in court, I certainly would not accept the information as probative, without sufficient collaboration.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Idaho and Louisiana Death Records Added to FamilySearch Record Search Pilot
Viewing the images in Record Search Pilot requires the installation of a later version of Adobe Flash.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Protect your computer with Firefox extensions
The Firefox browser has a number of extensions to help increase your level of protection from worms, hackers phishers, and similar attacks on your computer. In a recent article ten of these extensions were discussed and evaluated.
The first of these I tried is called Web of Trust. The publisher describes this extension as follows:
Keep yourself safe from spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and other Internet scams. With the free WOT browser add-on, you can easily see the reliability of companies and websites. WOT will warn you and save your computer before you interact with a harmful site. WOT, Web of Trust, is an online community for reputation rating that lets Internet users share their knowledge of websites, helping you stay in control when surfing the Web. Besides its users, WOT uses hundreds of trusted sources such as phishing site listings to keep you protected against rapidly spreading online threats. As you search with Google, you will see a tiny icon next to the Web link: green to go, yellow to slow down, red to stop. You can easily customize the protection level to your way of surfing the Web. WOT has information on 20 million Web sites. WOT ratings are shown also on Yahoo, Gmail, Wikipedia, and other sites. Version 20090414 fixes warning and window size issues for small screen resolutions.After installation, the search results from Google show red, yellow and green dots next to every result. In searching on the term "genealogy" I was interested to note that the Ancestry.com, a sponsored link Website came up with a red warning dot. The site was ranked poor for trustworthiness, vendor reliability and privacy. Every search that I made, such as "family history" and "ancestry" all came up with a bright red dot for Ancestry.com. Anyone have any ideas why? It appears to me that the complaint is that the link is used for advertising and tracking purposes. The problem with Ancestry.com may also have been caused by the fact that the link from the Google search went through an empty referral site that had a bad reputation.
I am pretty sure that I don't want to bog down my computer with security, but at the same time I think this Web of Trust extension is really helpful in getting an idea of a Website has some ulterior agenda.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Browsers make a difference in online searches
A browser is a program that translates the code used on the Internet into viewable images on your computer. Whenever I am asked to help someone with their computer, I frequently find that the person has done nothing at all to customize their browser and is using the same generic product that came with the initial installation on their computer.
All of the popular browser programs are "free" but come with biases that will lead you to their developer's products. Changing from one browser to another is rather simple at first, but after using the same browser for a long time, it may seem strange or difficult to adjust to a new one. The fact is that you can switch from one browser to another, just like changing programs running on the computer. In fact, you can run more than one browser at the same time in different windows on the computer. Usually, I find that a decision to change browsers is one of the first indications that a person has learned to use the computer effectively.
There is nothing wrong with using one browser over another. The browser police will not come and get you if you try a different browser, neither will it void your computer's warranty. I moved to Firefox a long time ago for the simple reason that it was a superior product to Window's Explorer. Firefox is a cooperative, open to any programmer who wishes to work on the program, so changes and updates are frequent and there are literally hundreds of thousands of add-ons and ways to customize the program.
Since modern genealogists and family historians spend so much of their time communicating on a computer, they should be aware of the options that may make their lives easier.
In future posts, I will show more Firefox add-ons that may help your computing experience.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
New Canadian Records on FamilySearch Record Search Pilot
Family History Library's Summer of Sleuthing
This online summer program will teach you and your family how family history can be fun, informative, and rewarding. With a series of weekly challenges, you and your family can participate in activities that will help you to learn more about yourselves and your ancestors. Take time this summer to discover the roots of your family tree and explore the branches. These activities can give your family a connection to the past, an identity for the present, and a foundation for future success. We encourage you and your family to help each other complete the Summer of Sleuthing challenges. The challenges are tailored for age groups.The Family History Library has links for
- “Sleuthing Family Picture”
- “Suggested Ideas for Interviewing Relatives”
- “Questions for a Life Story”
- “Clothes Make the Ancestor”
- “My Journal—All About Me”
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Google Wave redefines communication
Genealogists, are dependent on communications. Even my Great-grandmother, who did research most of her life, obtained a significant amount of information by letters and interviews. Although she was abjectly poor most of her life, she found time and made the effort to keep up a correspondence with relatives across the world. Today, we have E-mail, instant messaging, file sharing and collaboration software to make our communications easier and whole lot faster.
Google is making a bid to redefine the way people communicate on Web. In a recent demonstration, Google introduced Google Wave. Some of the genealogy bloggers have talked about this new system, but it bears more attention. The thrust of the new program is real-time but organized Internet communications. Recent articles quoted the developers: cnet.
Google Wave is an attempt to "combine conversation-type communication and collaboration-type communication," said Lars Rasmussen, who launched the project with his brother Jens after Google acquired their mapping start-up in 2004. The brothers Rasmussen said they were inspired by the fact that two of the most commonly used Internet communication technologies--e-mail and instant messaging--are based on relatively ancient offline communication techniques, namely the letter and the telephone.Here is a description of the service as presented in an article by Tom Krazit on cnet:
Maybe this will be a way to integrate my Google page with my FaceBook and Twitter page. Here is a Google video about the Wave:
They came up with Google Wave, which organizes Internet discussions in the trendy stream of consciousness fashion. It's a little bit Twitter, a little bit Friendfeed, and a little bit Facebook all in one service, allowing you to send direct messages to online contacts with real-time replies, share photos or documents, and add or delete members of the conversation as needed.
In that sense, it's not a completely public discussion, nor a completely private one. A user creates a "wave" by typing a message or uploading photos and adding contacts to the wave as they see fit. Other contacts can be added later, and those people can add other contacts to the wave unless the original wave starter forbids new entrants.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Hauling your laptop to the library is getting easier
The trend in laptops is thinner and lighter. I thought about that yesterday when I had to lug my older laptop to a class I was teaching. I also think about it every time I actually use my laptop computer on my lap. The heat and weight of my current computer do not lend themselves to comfortable computing without a table. When I get around to replacing my current HP 17" laptop I will have a lot of low cost, light weight choices.
Intel recently announced chips for low-cost, thin laptops. This development will be boon for all of those researchers who are carrying their computers to libraries, conferences and other meetings. Intel's marketing chief Sean Maloney was quoted as saying;
"It's clear that people like devices to be thin and light," said Maloney, who was speaking from the Computex conference...We've really taken that to heart and come out with a complete top-to-bottom range of microprocessors that enable radically longer battery life and much smaller designs," referring to Intel's new lineup of consumer ultra-low-voltage (CULV) processors. "There are a lot of computers being announced here (Computex) that look like conventional notebooks in terms of how wide the screens are, but they're super-thin, the performance is very good, and they get up to nine hours battery life without a big, fat battery at the back."Prices for these new laptops will start at $399 and range up to $2,000.
It looks like the day when you can conveniently carry your laptop is fast approaching. The main challenge is for those of us who already have a laptop than even though it is heavy, works just fine, thank you. On the budget for genealogy research thin and light will have to overcome spending additional scarce funds.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Using Google Visualization APIs for genealogy?
Many of the visualizations are map oriented. Here are a couple of examples:
The real maps require a degree of programming ability and are much larger and in some cases interactive. The gallery has lots of examples. The visualizations are available as images, gadgets and other tools. Visualizations built on the Google Visualization API can also use any accessible Google Spreadsheet as a data source. Using a spreadsheet is as simple as finding out the proper URL to use for a sheet or a range of cells in a spreadsheet to which it has access, and using that URL as a data source URL. The visualization can be an embedded gadget in the spreadsheet itself, a gadget outside the spreadsheet, or a non-gadgetized visualization. Google.
There are virtually an unlimited number of available types of visualizations, with more being developed all the time. For those who are not afraid to learn a little programming, Websites and online reports can have much greater impact.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Newest update on synchronization with New FamilySearch
Recently, I have been asked to teach Ancestral Quest, Legacy and RootsMagic at the Mesa Regional Family History Center. I have found all three programs to be highly useful, good implementations of the concept of a genealogical database and none of them clearly superior to the others. However, now the race has gotten a lot more complicated. I have to concede that the way RootMagic has evolved, makes it the clear leader for the time being. However, before making any final judgment, I would assume that Ancestral Quest will also change in the not too distant future and I know that Legacy has planned a release that will work with New FamilySearch later this year. So the race is far from over.
Here are some of the factors that are yet to be resolved. First and foremost, New FamilySearch is not available to everyone. In fact, it is not yet available to the entire membership of the LDS Church. Second, New FamilySearch itself is in transition and is not a final release product. These two facts make any interface with the final program tentative to say the least.
Generally in the genealogical community, there is also a rather dramatic recent emphasis on source citations so that apart from any present interest in New FamilySearch one of the big factors in the choice of any program is how it handles sources. All three of the above programs have implemented new source citation systems. But there is one drawback, New FamilySearch has not yet implemented synchronization of sources. So how the programs use sources is still up in air.
Now, if you presently do not have access to New FamilySearch you may be asking why you should care at all. The answer is quite simple. New FamilySearch will undoubtedly become the largest and most massive collection of interactive family history information in the world. It may never be a valid source in the technical sense, but it will certainly contain more information on more families than any other database, Ancestry. com included. The New FamilySearch program itself is elegant and simple to use. Right now, the data is out of control and almost useless. But programs like those implementing synchronization (right now Ancestral Quest, Family Insight and RootsMagic) show the potential of this huge resource in the not too distant future.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Family History Archives tops 35,000 items
This collection is available from the Search menu on the main home page of the FamilySearch Website under "Historic Books." Access to the collection is entirely free and the documents, mostly books, are completely searchable. FamilySearch describes the collection as follows:
The Family History Archive is a collection of published genealogy and family history books. 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.I have placed a counter on my homepage showing the most current number of items in the collection. Each time there is an increase I am trying to keep the count current. If the current rate of additional material is maintained, the Family History Archives will double in size by the end of this year. I have been using a search of my own surname to see if there have been any pertinent additions and the number had been steady for a number of weeks and is now increasing again.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Legacy and New FamilySearch Integration
It is interesting, but I just barely got off of Legacy a few minutes ago and failed to notice the announcement. Oh well.
Quoting from Legacy's Website:
For many years now, the LDS church has worked on developing a web application for its members (and eventually the public) to be able to interact with a very large, unified database of connected genealogical information. This new system is being released in phases for members of the church first. When the system is “perfected”, it should encourage research collaboration and prevent research duplication.
What about Legacy?
Legacy Family Tree is being developed to interact and optionally synchronize with the FamilySearch Family Tree. Using Legacy, you will be able to take advantage of new collaboration and searching tools, and for members of the LDS church, enhanced tools for ordinance work. For a few years now, we have been developing Legacy’s integration tools, and are closer to having our software officially certified by FamilySearch. We are taking a unique approach to integrating with FamilySearch Family Tree which we believe will make it simple for newbies to get started with their family history, and provide the “power” tools for experienced researchers to benefit from the system. It has been challenging to come up with the right combination of features to make it both simple and powerful, but we know it will be well worth the wait.
When will it be available?
After our integration tools have been certified by FamilySearch (hopefully in the next month or so) and then tested, the new tools will be available in both the Standard Edition (free) and Deluxe Edition of Legacy. Of course we wanted to have it done months ago, but we wanted our implementation to be done the right way. We're aiming for the second half of 2009 for these exciting new tools to be released.
Comments on 8 billion records on Ancestry.com
Ancestry.com is always one of the first places I go to look for records for someone who has done little or no family history work. When Ancestry.com has the scanned records, such as the U.S. Census and World War I Draft Records, the site is extremely helpful. The images often provide much more information than the indexes. However, in some instances, when there are only indexes, the records are sometimes not so useful. Without viewing the original documents to compare to the record transcribed into Ancestry.com, I hesitate to rely on the accuracy of the transcribers. I have probably spent more time on Ancestry.com than any other online database, but I still find that there is no excuse for viewing original records that have yet to be incorporated into Ancestry.com's huge resource.
I also do a significant amount of work in Spanish. I find that Ancestry.com has few records that assist in basic Spanish research. For example the 1790 California Census is available only as an index, Ancestry.com refers users to the microfilm. Quoting Ancestry.com
All available census schedules, from 1790 to 1920, have been microfilmed and are available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., at the National Archives' regional archives in twelve states, at the LDS Family History Library and LDS family history centers throughout North America, at many large libraries, and through microfilm lending companies. Some state and local agencies may have census schedules only for the state or area served.8 billion records is very impressive. At some point, however, I think they may need to beef up their search engine to give a broader finding capability. All said and done, Ancestry.com is a modern wonder of the computer world.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Is there a Bing in your genealogical future?
I never did care for MSN because of all the junk that came up with the search. Although you could customize the interface, you had to start with a lot of things you were not interested in at all. The new Bing is still a lot more than the simple Google Classic startup screen.
Here are a couple of more search results and the comparison with Google.
Bing 38,700,000 Google 99,700,000
Bing 1,140,000,000 Google 2,540,000
Looks like the figures are all over the board. Actually, when I began looking at the hits for "familysearch" some of the returned items were not relevant at all after one or two pages.
I guess I will check back from time to time, but as for now, I still like Google better.