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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Step-by-Step Approach to Using Genealogical Cluster Research: Step Two


Most genealogists, as they gain experience in doing research, evolve a methodology that reflects their own personal background. If you were influenced by traditional "paper-based" genealogy, then your personal methodology will usually rely on those techniques and methods you witnesses while working with your contemporaries. In genealogical terminology, a "cluster" consists of extended family members, friends, neighbors, and other associates such as business partners. Using the term expansively, a cluster could include anyone who would possibly come in contact with the person who is the target of your research. Cluster research is a research technique or methodology that is supplemented by "jurisdictional research" and utilizes the concept of beginning your research in the lowest or basic jurisdictional level. An early exposition on jurisdictional research was described in the following book.

Jones, Vincent L., Arlene H. Eakle, and Mildred H. Christensen. 1972. Genealogical research; a jurisdictional approach. [Salt Lake City]: [Printed by Publishers Press for Genealogical Copy Service, Woods Cross, Utah].

This book was later revised and published as follows:

Jones, Vincent L., Arlene H. Eakle, and Mildred H. Christensen. 1972. Family history for fun and profit. Provo, Utah: Printed by Community Press for the Genealogical Institute.

I have yet to figure of the profit part of genealogy and I am also skeptical about the "fun" part either. I assume the title was changed in an attempt to increase sales of the book.

The idea of focusing on cluster research is essentially the same as researching in the "home jurisdiction" as the term is used in the books cited above. Jurisdictional research expands on the idea of focusing on clusters and expands research outward using both geographically and politically defined areas. But it is important to understand the need to expand your current research methodology to include the target family's or person's relational surroundings.

By the way, most books on genealogy will never really go "out-of-date." The exceptions, of course, are those that focus on technology. Even though the two books listed above (really essentially the same book) were published in 1972, now nearly 50 years ago, all of the principles laid down in the books are still valid and useful.

The currently popular emphasis on the technological aspects of genealogical research, including, but not limited to DNA testing, has almost completely overshadowed the need to understand the valuable concepts developed over time by more traditional genealogists. That is not to say, that all of the methodologies developed by traditional genealogists are presently applicable. Computerization has dramatically affected most of the ways that the traditional genealogical community gathered, stored, and reported their genealogical research.

Traditionally, the research project was visualized as a circle. However, I believe that the circle metaphor is limited. A better representation would be a web. In order to understand how to implement cluster research, it is important to place close to research in the context of general historical or genealogical research. In describing the research process, depending on your proclivities, you could use from a few too many discrete steps. Despite the fact, that I can list discrete steps in a research process, I almost never follow this pattern. Research is organic. Every time you find a document or review what has already been discovered the objectives of your research change. However notwithstanding the fluid nature of research, here is my own simplification of the process:

1. The first stage of research is generally referred to as the survey stage. In a real sense, the survey stage is a continuous process because, in the technological environment that presently exists, there is no end to the amount of information developed by others in the genealogical community usually represented by additions to online family trees. Consequently, reviewing what has been done previously or recorded previously can almost overwhelm all of the other aspects of the genealogical process. 
2. As you proceed through the survey stage, hopefully, you will accumulate some information about your family that enables you to identify documents or records that may contain information about your family. The process of identifying records and documents and then subsequently discovering where they might be located is really the most time-consuming part of genealogical research. 
3. Once you have located documents as records which may contain information about your target family or individual, you must review the documents and records and extract the information and add it to whatever method you are using to record genealogical information. At this stage, it is also really important to review how any information obtained affects any other information and conclusions which you have already made. 
4. Once you have a corpus of information you must constantly review what you have already concluded and revise any conclusions based on the acquisition of additional information obtained through records and documents.
Inexperienced genealogists almost always focus on names rather than on the overall historical context of the individuals and families they are researching.  cluster research should not be thought of as a new way to do genealogy, it is merely an extension of whatever methodology you may have already adopted. It does, however, require that you become more aware of the historical context of each of the events in your target family or individual's life. Subsequently, I am not replacing any of the discrete steps in genealogical research however they may be defined, I am intending to augment those steps in a way that increases the possibility of finding the information being sought.

At its most basic level, the first step in implementing cluster research is to become aware of the historical setting and surroundings of the target family or ancestor. In this context, I am using the term "target" in the sense that the researcher will choose a particular family or individual to research. Of course, as I mentioned already, the target family or individual will evolve and change as you work through the research. It is entirely possible, but you will find out that you are not related to your target family or individual and abandon the research altogether.

Let's suppose that you were going to research a person such as Eliza Ann Hamilton. Let's further suppose that you had done some preliminary survey of the existing information and found that family tradition said that she was born and Kentucky in the early 1800s. Using today's technology, it would seem to be indicated to simply go online and begin searching in a large online genealogical database for an Eliza Ann Hamilton in Kentucky in the early 1800s. A search for that name on the FamilySearch.org website in the Historical Records Collections using a birthday range from 1800 to 1830 and a place of Kentucky will produce 4,262 results. It should be obvious at this point that searching for a name without a sufficient amount of context information is unproductive.

In order to move beyond the "search for a name" stage, it is necessary to add additional contextual information even if we want to utilize online search engines. So it is important to put the person into their historical context and utilize all known information about the family even if you are focusing on an online search.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

More about Geni.com


I recently wrote a blog post entitled, "An Introduction to Geni.com." I response, I received a kind letter from Geni.com clarifying the difference between their "free" level and the paid level or Pro level. Here is the explanation.
A brief explanation of our account types - With a free basic account, users may add unlimited people to the tree, collaborate with others, participate in genealogy projects, and take advantage of our DNA features, which we provide in partnership with Family Tree DNA. Those who wish to have access to more advanced tools on Geni may choose to upgrade to Geni Pro. A Pro subscription includes access to Tree Matches (these are matching profiles on Geni), full access to our search engine, unlimited media storage, and priority support. Note it is not required to upgrade to use Geni. 
I appreciate this concise explanation. I guess my explanation was too simplified.  I would point out that Geni.com is a useful and important option for those who want their own family tree online.

F&W Media Publisher of Family Tree Magazine Files for Bankruptcy

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tonysilber/2019/03/11/fw-media-citing-debt-decline-and-mismanagement-files-for-bankruptcy-protection/#52084b604355
Apparently, I am late in the game in mentioning that F+W Media, the publishers of Family Tree Magazine and the sponsors of the Family Tree University and the Family Tree website, has filed bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Here is a link to the online case file: Delaware Bankruptcy Court Case 1:19-bk-10479 - F+W Media, Inc. This bankruptcy filing will personally affect a number of professional genealogists who either work for the company or are scheduled to speak at upcoming conferences and other activities sponsored and paid by the company. For example, here is a conference that is already scheduled. I heard that the conference may go forward, but there is a question as to whether or not the presenters will be paid.

https://www.familytreemagazine.com/store/2019-spring-virtual-genealogy-conference-q0270
Here is a list of the other companies involved in the action.
Debtor
F+W Media, Inc.
1140 Broadway
New York, NY 10001
NEW YORK-NY
Tax ID / EIN: 20-2955953
aka F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company
aka Catalyst Aspire Holdings Corporation
aka Aspire Operations, LLC
aka Frontenac Aspire Holdings Corporation
aka Interweave Press, LLC
aka Aspire Media, LLC
There is apparently a pending motion on paying professionals, but that may only apply to the attorneys representing the debtor. Here is the reference to the motion:
Motion for Order Establishing Procedures for Interim Compensation and Reimbursement of Expenses of Professionals Filed by F+W Media, Inc.. Hearing scheduled for 4/8/2019 at 01:00 PM at US Bankruptcy Court, 824 Market St., 6th Fl., Courtroom #3, Wilmington, Delaware. Objections due by 4/1/2019. (Attachments: # 1 Notice # 2 Exhibit A) (Kochenash, Jared) (Entered: 03/18/2019)
Most of the information in the Court file is available only for those who have logins and permission to participate in the case or are representing clients in the case. If you need information about the case, I suggest contacting an attorney who is admitted to practice in the Federal Bankruptcy Court and has access to the Court's Pacer portal.

In the past, Family Tree Magazine has been an important part of the genealogical community and I am saddened by the bankruptcy action and the impact it will have on some of the active members of the genealogical community.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Discovering Genealogical Videos

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7hqNOQt-2AfeVEpDuc7sCA
YouTube.com has a somewhat checkered reputation for frivolity and in some cases objectionable videos. But among the millions of videos offered on this huge website are series of instructional videos that often answer specific questions. I have used YouTube videos for everything from replacing a battery in my car to learning complex software application such as Adobe Premiere Pro. For genealogists, there is a treasure trove of information and commentary from thousands of genealogically related videos just waiting for review. Of course, I have spent a lot of time contributing to that immense number, but there are other sets of videos that need mentioning.

First, you need to understand that YouTube is actually organized. It is not just a huge pile of video files. The main organization is by "Channels." Each regular contributor to YouTube can have their own Channel. Illustrated in the screenshot above is the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel. The Channels are further organized as follows by subpages listed in a clickable menu near the top of the pages:

  • The Home page sometimes with a scroll down subject listing of videoes on the Channel 
  • A Videos page with a chronological list of all of the videos or a list sorted by popularity
  • Any playlists that have been created by the Channel operator
  • Community links if there is a community
  • Other Channels operated by the main Channel operator
  • An About page that gives the owner of the Channel and some statistics
You may also notice that specific YouTube users can create their own "Playlists" usually of videos that they personally like. People have created Playlists of genealogy videos with dozens of automatically playing videos. Playlists are nice if you want to listen to the same topic or a longer period of time. 

I have to admit that I listen to long playlists of music videos. I can choose exactly the type of music I like to hear and listen with only short interruptions for commercials. You can pay for a commercial free environment on YouTube, but having listened to commercial radio most of my life, I do not mind a few commercials. You can sometimes click through a really long commercial after a few seconds. 

How do you find genealogy videos? Well, there is a search field on every YouTube page marked by a small magnifying glass icon. Here is a screenshot with an arrow showing the search field:


If you do a search for "genealogy," you will get an almost unending long scroll list of videos. 


If you look carefully, you will see that there is a way to filter the responses. Here is a screenshot of the filter categories.


There are other online venues where genealogical videos are posted. One of the most popular is Vimeo.com. However, Vimeo is aimed at more commercially made or professional videos and is mainly aimed at those who pay for those who wish to limit the distribution of their videos to members of an association or interest group who have paid to join. Currently, the big rage on Vimeo is drone made videos. Generally, if I see a video on Vimeo it is because some organization has sent me to the website. 

Back to YouTube. One feature of YouTube is that you can subscribe to different Channels and when you sign in to the website, you will see a list of your subscription channels and possibly a number if there are new videos you haven't watched. To see the list, you may have to increase the size of your window. If you click on an item in your list, you will go right to the channel. 

You will see that some videos on YouTube have millions of views. There are now celebrities, performers, and producers that have made a fortune putting up YouTube videos for free. Some of these people have made a career out of YouTube videos. 

Of course, you can always search for a very specific topic and will likely find a video made on that topic. I sometimes use YouTube videos to evaluate programs or other items before purchasing them. 

Now, what about genealogy video channels? Here is a list of links to some of them. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

An Introduction to Geni.com


Genealogists tend to be a little nearsighted in their use of online genealogical tools. They get comfortable with one or two websites and seem to ignore the rest. Geni.com has been online since 2007. Here is a statement about the website's goal from the website:
Geni is solving the problem of genealogy by inviting the world to build the definitive online family tree. Using the basic free service at Geni.com, users add and invite their close relatives to join their family tree. All Geni users can share photos, videos, and documents with their families. Geni’s Pro subscription service allows users to find matching trees and merge those into the single world family tree, which currently contains over 100 million living users and their ancestors. Additional pay services include enhanced research tools and premium support. Geni welcomes casual genealogists and experts who wish to discover new relatives and stay in touch with family. Geni is privately held and based in Los Angeles, California. 
In November 2012, Geni was acquired by MyHeritage Ltd. and is now a MyHeritage company.
MyHeritage.com recently used the content of this huge single world family tree with other sources to create the new Theory of Family Relativity DNA analysis tool. One thing that distinguishes the Geni family tree from other "universal" family trees such as the FamilySearch.org Family Tree, is that Geni.com works on two levels: the free level allows the user to enter and maintain their own individual family tree and the Geni Pro level is a subscription-based moderated and curated experience in building the world family tree.

One key to the Geni.com experience is the staff of curators. Here is a brief description of the curator's job from the website.
The goal of Geni has always been to create a shared family tree, so our users around the world can meet new cousins and discover how they relate to historical figures as well as well-known contemporary public figures. Geni designated a group of experienced users as Curators to help achieve this goal. Similar to Wikipedia administrators, Geni Curators are volunteer Geni users granted special privileges by Geni to help maintain and improve the quality and accuracy of the Geni World Family Tree. 
Geni Curators are specially selected based on their integrity and the quality of their work on Geni. Candidate Curators undergo a nomination and voting process. Accepted Geni Curators are formally appointed and, like Geni Employees, they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the company to ensure they protect data confidentiality. 
Here are some of the things Curators can do that shows the major differences between the world family tree on Geni.com and the Family Tree on FamilySearch.org.
Curators have the following privileges:
  • Designate Master Profiles and, optionally, lock them down so that only Curators can edit and merge them.
  • Add curator notes to profiles to help prevent bad merges and edits.
  • View and edit any profile including Private Profiles when requested by a user.
  • Merge duplicate historical profiles and connect new users to the World Family Tree.
  • Convert historical living profiles to deceased.
  • Convert deceased famous and historical profiles to public (if they don't have any close relatives on Geni)
Each of these privileges also contains safeguards to make sure that they are not used irresponsibly, even by accident. As expected, Curators have already had a significant impact on the quality of the data on Geni.
As you can likely tell from this list, the Geni.com experience is vastly different than other websites such as FamilySearch.org Family Tree. However, the FamilySearch.org Family Tree is entirely free and do not have anything corresponding to a moderator or curator level of usage. However, any comparison is not really possible because the usage and goal of both are extremely different.

I think there is definitely a place for a universal family tree such as the one being built by Geni.com. I get Record Matches on MyHeritage.com from the Geni.com family tree and those can be extremely useful. If you are a frustrated FamilySearch Family Tree user, you might want to consider working on Geni.com. Of course, you will have to accept the fact that full use of the program will cost some money and take some real effort.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

How reliable are SSDs? (Flash Drives or Thumb Drives)



The Brigham Young University Family History Library has accumulated a good-sized box of lost flash drives. Most of these were either dropped or left sticking into a USB port on one of the computers. I was reminded of this when I saw yet another dramatic drop in the prices of flash drives. You can now buy a 500 GB Flash Drive or SSD (Solid State Drive) for around $80. A 1 TB (Terabyte) Flash Drive is selling for around $230. Can you imagine losing that much information by simply forgetting to remove the drive from the public computer you have been using?

A Terabyte of information could be up to 17,000 hours of music, or 1000 hours of video, or 310,000 photos, or 500 hours of movies.  See PC Ninja: How much can a 1 TB hard drive hold?

Most genealogists will probably never use up a 1 TB hard drive or SSD in their lifetime unless they spend a huge amount of time scanning photos or documents. Think about this. A 1 TB Flash Drive (SSD) would be equivalent of 754,297 3.5" Floppy Disks. Yes, that number is correct.

Now think about this. My entire genealogy file with all my sources, however excluding photos takes up about 10 MB.  I could have 104,857 of my genealogy files on that a 1 TB Flash Drive. All of my programs and all the data on my main hard drive is less than 1.5 TBs.

Here is another thing to think about. I routinely backup my hard drives to an online service and I currently back up 8.5 TBs of information. It has taken me over 37 years of doing genealogy, writing, and scanning documents and photos to accumulate that huge pile. Can you partially understand why I would be concerned about backing up my data?

One of the things I think is most interesting about genealogists, besides the preponderance of older folks, is the preoccupation some of them have with the amount of storage space on their hard drives. Disk storage space is virtually unlimited for a very small investment.

That brings me to the reliability issue. Assuming I put all that stuff on some storage media, such as a flash drive, except for the distinct possibility of losing the drive, what is the risk of loss through a failure of the drive?

The answer to that question is rather simple: overall SSDs (including flash drives) have a failure rate of .5 % as opposed to a failure rate of 2 to 5% for spinning hard drives. See Enterprise Storage: SSD vs HD. This is why the cost factor is so important. Hard drives are still less expensive than solid-state drives for large capacities, but with the drop in prices of solid state devices, the advantage begins to disappear.

You can buy a 1 TB hard drive on Amazon for about $50. But a 2 TB hard drive is only about $60. You double the capacity for $10 more. Even if you jump to an 8 TB hard drive the price is only $140. Compare that to the prices above and you can see that the price of SSDs still has to come down some to be price competitive. But what about reliability? When you are talking about your hard-earned work product, I assume reliability would be more important than the small difference in price.

Can I afford to move to SSDs? I need at least an 8 TB drive to back up part of my data. What would that cost for an SSD? Well, that is the real difference. Right now, an 8 TB SSD is about $3,300. I am still waiting for the price drop.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Free Irish Records from MyHeritage March 14 - 20, 2019

Free Irish Record March 14-20, 2019
From March 14 and until March 20, 2019, all MyHeritage users will have FREE access to all of the MyHeritage.com Irish record collections in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this year.



My RootsTech 2019 Experience

https://www.rootstech.org/
I am fairly certain that my RootsTech 2019 experience was far different than nearly everyone else attending the Conference. I have been attending the RootsTech Conferences since the very first one in 2011 except for the one last year when my wife and I were digitizing documents at the Maryland State Archives for FamilySearch on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, that first experience was far different than what we just experienced but the seeds of my own experience were planted at that first conference.

Over the years, my focus has changed. During the early years of the Conference, I presented and attended classes. Slowly, I began to focus more on interacting with the vendors in the Exhibit Hall and I stopped presenting classes and began to attend far fewer classes. Eventually, I became more involved with the vendors and began presenting for them at their booths or at what has become the Demo Theater. This year was a catch-up year. Since I missed my opportunity to talk to all the vendors, I focused on making contact with those with whom I had long-term relationships. 

My main focus was the booth for The Family History Guide. Because I am involved directly with the company, we had been preparing for RootsTech during the past year and I became instantly involved as soon as I returned to Provo, Utah from Maryland. We had a great response to the booth and the classes we taught. There are a few things we learned and will change next year but for the foreseeable future, I will be intensely involved with The Family History Guide. 

My second main area of focus was in working with and contacting the large online genealogy websites. I had a lot of contact with MyHeritage.com. Of course, I presented at their booth and will continue with acting as a speaker at the upcoming MyHeritage LIVE 2019 Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

https://live2019.myheritage.com/
I enjoyed learning about all the new developments from MyHeritage and interacting with their wonderful staff. Special thanks to Gilad Japhet and Daniel Horowitz for their support.

I am always grateful for the help and support of FamilySearch. I have been a Blogger/Ambassador since the first Conference and have enjoyed their tremendous help and all the extras that have come my way as a result of publicizing the RootsTech Conferences. I was able to conduct some interviews in the Media Center and also get interviewed. Thanks to FamilySearch for the Conference and for the Media Center and the support. I also enjoyed visiting with Ron Tanner.

I had some wonderful conversations with the folks at Findmypast.com's booth. I was able to connect with some old acquaintances and meet some new people. I enjoyed talking with Jay Verkler and Alex Cox. Hope I have more contact in the future.

One of the most impressive things that happened at the Conference was meeting the people at the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society booth and the Sons & Daughters of the United States Middle Passage booth. What a great experience and opportunity. I hope that I can establish a mutually beneficial relationship with both these organizations.

I had almost a full week of other memorable experiences and opportunities to talk and came up with a huge list of blog post topics. I was especially touched by all the people who said hello. It was wonderful to see some of you for the first time since communicating over the internet. I hope I made a few new friends and immensely enjoyed seeing a few of my old friends.

See you next year at RootsTech 2020. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Far-reaching Changes from MyHeritage’s The Theory of Family Relativity and AutoClusters: Part Three


The AutoCluster Tool from MyHeritage.com

Quoting from a blog post from MyHeritage.com entitled, “Introducing AutoClusters for DNA Matches,”
AutoClusters organize your MyHeritage DNA Matches into shared match clusters that likely descended from common ancestors. By grouping together DNA Matches who likely belong to the same branch and have a common ancestor, AutoClusters can be very helpful in shedding light on the relationship paths that connect you and your matches. By reviewing family trees of clustered matches, users can piece together the entire branch. Clusters are color-coded for convenience and are presented in a powerful visual chart, as well as in list format. 
This new tool was developed in collaboration with Evert-Jan Blom of GeneticAffairs.com, based on technology that he created, further enhanced by the MyHeritage team. Our enhancements include better clustering of endogamous populations (people who lived in isolated communities with a high rate of intermarriages, such as Ashkenazi Jews and Acadians), and automatic threshold selection for optimal clustering so that users need not experiment with any parameters.
The concept of using “clusters” has long been a staple of genealogical researchers for years. The basic idea is to identify something a group of items or people have in common and then build on that relationship to identify the group. Here is the formal definition of cluster analysis from Wikipedia: Cluster analysis.
Cluster analysis or clustering is the task of grouping a set of objects in such a way that objects in the same group (called a cluster) are more similar (in some sense) to each other than to those in other groups (clusters). It is a main task of exploratory data mining, and a common technique for statistical data analysis, used in many fields, including machine learning, pattern recognition, image analysis, information retrieval, bioinformatics, data compression, and computer graphics.
There is no one way to define and discover clusters. Genealogists can use DNA, as is used here in the MyHeritage app or religious affiliation, ethnic origin, occupation, or any combination of other ways of identifying groups. What is unique about the method demonstrated by MyHeritage is its application to a relatively large number of DNA testing results that are then graphically cross-related to each other to form actual graphics clusters. But at this point, the work for the genealogical researcher has just begun.

One immediately evident use for these graphically constructed clusters is to indicate people who may be candidates for applying The Theory of Family Relativity to discover the identity of the person who may be the common ancestor of the interrelated people in each cluster. Of course, the possibility of deriving the identity of the common ancestor depends on whether or not the target ancestor has already been identified by competent and well-documented research in a sufficient number of family trees. To do so accurately may involve an extension of both the AutoClusters and the supporting data for The Theory of Family Relativity.

With the numbers of individuals included in the larger clusters, it may be a rather long task to identify each member of the cluster and map them into a single family tree that may then show the direction the research should take to identify the common ancestor. Of course, a large enough documented family tree would immeasurably accelerate the process.

At the very least, these clusters from MyHeritage will assist traditional genealogical research in ways the can only be presently imagined.
Here are the other installments of this series:

Part One: https://genealogysstar.blogspot.com/2019/03/far-reaching-changes-from-myheritages.html
Part Two: https://genealogysstar.blogspot.com/2019/03/far-reaching-changes-from-myheritages_7.html

MyHeritage Adds New Norwegian Census Collections from 1891, 1900, and 1910

MyHeritage.com announced today the addition of the new Norwegian Census Collection from 1891, 1900, and 1910 with 6.8 million records. Quoting from the official announcement:
Tel Aviv, Israel & Lehi, Utah — MyHeritage, the leading global service for family history and DNA testing, announced today the publication of three census collections from Norway, from 1891, 1900, and 1910. MyHeritage has worked on digitizing these collections in partnership with the National Archives of Norway (Arkivverket). 
The collections provide robust coverage for Norway’s entire population during a span of two decades and include valuable family history information. While some former Norway censuses were conducted only in select trading centers, these records are more comprehensive. The 6.8 million new records document names, households, dates of birth, marital status, relationships, and residential conditions, making them vital for anyone wishing to explore their Norwegian origins. Their publication marks the first time that Norwegian record collections of such high quality and granularity are available online. 
The 1891 and 1900 collections include digital images of the original census documents, while the 1910 collection is an index consisting of transcribed records provided by the National Archives of Norway. The 1900 census was conducted by means that were, at the time, innovative: punch cards, which were then sorted and counted using electric tabulating machines. Of the 2.3 million records in the 1900 collection, 1.9 million records now have digital images of the original documents associated with the census index. Images of the remaining records will likewise be connected to the index in the near future.
For  those of us with Scandinavian ancestors and also for those of us working in the Brigham Young University Family History Library supporting patrons, this addition to the huge collections from Denmark and Sweden already on the MyHeritage.com website are revolutionizing our research methodologies. Here is the Norway SuperSearch page with the new collections,


I might also mention that MyHeritage.com has also added the completely searchable set of Danish Census Records from 1930 back to 1787. The searches of these records also come with translations.

Here is some additional information from the announcement:
Norwegian privacy laws restrict public access to census data for 100 years. Consequently, the 1910 census is the most recent one available to the public. This collection stands out as the first census conducted following the dissolution of Norway’s union with Sweden in 1905. It is also the first Norway census to record full birth dates, rather than only birth years. 
Users with family trees on MyHeritage will benefit from Record Matching technology that automatically reveals new information about their ancestors who appear in these records. 
With the release of these new collections, MyHeritage now offers approximately 34 million historical records from Norway, including census, baptism, marriage, and burial records. As the Scandinavian market leader for family history research and DNA testing, MyHeritage also offers 136 million records from neighboring Sweden and 105 million records from Denmark. MyHeritage is the only major genealogy company to provide its services and full customer support in all three Scandinavian languages, as well as in Finnish, and offers the greatest potential for new family history discoveries for anyone with Scandinavian origins. It also has the largest user base in Scandinavia and the largest collection of Scandinavian family trees. 
“The addition of these censuses from Norway is a testament to MyHeritage’s commitment to digitize and index historical records from all over the world and to make them easily accessible,” said Russ Wilding, Chief Content Officer at MyHeritage. “These records offer a bounty of new information, and they reflect important historical events that made a tremendous impact on life in Norway during these years. They are significant for anyone researching their Norwegian heritage.” 
The three new collections are now available on SuperSearch™, MyHeritage’s search engine for its 9.6 billion historical records. Searching the Norway census collections is free. A subscription is required to view the full records and to access Record Matches. 
Search the new census collections: www.myheritage.com/norway-census

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

6 Things that do Harm to your Old Photographs

Professional Online Photo Restoration Service
This is a guest blog post from Max Earnst Stockburger at Professional Online Photo Restoration Service of Germany. His company does the following:
Colorize old photos
Remove scratches and dust
Remove major scratches, cracks, and repair fragments
Fix destroyed emulsion and water marks.

The value of old photographs and how to store them
We all know photographs preserve invaluable memories, whether that be of loved ones, significant life moments, or simply reminders of our childhood neighborhood. For the moment it may seem like these photographs will preserve these memories forever but unfortunately, like any physical object, these mementos slowly fade over time until these recollections themselves eventually vanish too. But by taking steps to store your photographs properly you can greatly lengthen the life of your photos and memories. Even if you can already detect damages such as fading colors, watermarks, and ripped edges on your photos there is a solution. Instarestoration.com as a professional photo restoration service can restore the original beauty of your old images. Luckily we can use our magical powers to reverse even significant damages but so that you may slow down the process of deterioration of your old as well as new photographs we’d like to tell you of some simple tips to keep in mind.

The Bad Guys

Ultraviolet Light: Ever had a photograph hanging in direct sunlight for weeks, months, even years on end? Well, then you likely know what we are talking about. UV light is pretty much the most harmful thing to the colors of your photographs. Just as we put on sunscreen to protect ourselves from aggressive sunlight, the best way to preserve your photographs is to keep them somewhere the sun won’t reach them. If you want to display your pictures in direct sunlight make sure to use special filter glass that blocks these UV rays. What’s even better is to create a copy of that photograph and store the original in your archive. This is why it’s always best to have carefully stored physical as well as digital physical copies of your priceless images.

High temperatures and relative humidity: The emulsion of film is like the heart of a photograph. From this little strip magic happens and gives life to an image. The problem is that these emulsions are made out of organic materials such as gelatin making them vulnerable to extreme conditions. High room temperatures and humidity easily cause mold and fungus to propagate and slowly spread all over your photograph. To prevent this from happening keep your images stored in a cool and dry place. Preferably under 70°Fahrenheit (20°C) and 50% relative humidity.

Quality archival papers and materials: Appearances are deceptive: we like to think that products like paper made from trees are natural and harmless but in fact the production of these materials often involves many chemicals including acids and bleaches. These chemicals can slowly be released from paper or other storage materials over time and destroy your photographs. This is why it is important to be careful when shopping for archival products. Make sure to get acid and bleach-free papers and storage materials like folders. Unfortunately, there is no regulated universal standard for archival materials so always ask first before buying.

Metallic and Sharp Objects: This is commonsensical but also a common cause for damaged photographs. As above, proper and safe storage of your negatives and photographs is very important in preserving their beauty for as long as possible. Keep your photos separate from metallic and sharp objects including metal clips. These sharp and hard surfaces can easily crease, bend, scratch, puncture your photographs. It probably isn’t the best idea to store grandpas’ photo collection in his toolbox.
Air Pollutants: Now this might sound like overkill but even your basic house cleaning products and fresh paint can have harmful effects on your photographs. A simple rule of thumb: if you think it would hurt you, it will probably hurt your photographs. No need to go overboard, just don’t leave your photos exposed to potent air pollutants that you think would make you dizzy if you sniffed them a bit too long.

Adhesives: Most of us are guilty for this one. As easy as they are to use those sticky strips and other tapes and adhesives often include chemicals that will slowly deteriorate the quality of your images. As above, if you are going to display your photographs keep copies and display them smartly, free from uv light and chemicals.

Summary
The sad truth is that no photograph will last forever. However, the good news is that by taking some simple and sound steps in storing and displaying your photographs you can greatly extend the lifespan of each of these moments for future generations. If you have already recognized some fungus, fading in color or any other damage it’s best to take action now and create digital copies of your images. Remember, once these damages appear they only get worse with time.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Day in the Life of a Professional Genealogist


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https://www.progenealogists.com/
I recently had an extraordinary opportunity to be invited for a visit to the downtown Salt Lake City, Utah main office of the AncestryProGenealogists and because of this unusual visit, I decided to write about a day in the life of a professional genealogist.

I was somewhat surprised when I entered AncestryProGenealogists office. It was much larger and there were many more people working than I expected. The office was open and laid out with cubicles for each worker. This is a common work model in today's world but different than the one I worked in most of my life.

I was able to meet with several of the genealogists and other professionals on an informal basis and this gave me a good insight into the operation of the office. As I spoke with each of the professionals, I began to realize that the organization and workflow of the AncestryProGenealogists' organization was very familiar to me because it is very similar to the organization of a large professional law firm. I never thought that genealogists and attorneys had much in common, but this visit showed how similar they really are. Both attorneys and the AncestryProGenealogists work on projects (or cases) for an hourly rate and are organized into teams. In the case of the genealogists, the teams are organized either by the type of research or by geographic area. In law, the law firms are usually divided by the type of law that each section of the law firm is involved in pursuing. In this case, form follows function and both organizations have entry-level positions and a hierarchy based primarily on expertise and years of service.

I will come back to my newly discovered similarities between law and genealogy after explaining more about the day to day business of the genealogists. First of all, it is important to recognize the fact that most genealogists are essentially solo practitioners. That is, genealogy is a pursuit primarily by individuals working on their own.

If you have thought about becoming a professional genealogist and going to work for an organization such as AncestryProGenealogists, it would be important to realize that the organization has high expectations of professionalism. This transfers into a substantial background in research and in the use of genealogical records. In addition, not only would a prospective genealogical employee need to be proficient in genealogy they would also, of necessity, need to learn the business procedures of the organization.

During most of my years of law practice, I either worked by myself or in a very small law firm with one or two other partners. After many years of working, I transitioned to a medium-sized law firm with 20 to 25 attorneys. However, the law firm I worked for had a support staff that increased the total number of employees to almost 100. The law firm was large enough that I never did get to know all the people who worked there. There would be a similar experience in moving from working as a single person and moving into a highly organized and structured environment such as the one I observed at AncestryProGenealogists. I would suggest that you carefully consider your personal goals, work style, and other aspirations before considering working for such an organization.

In keeping with the developments of technology, not all of the employees work at the main office in Salt Lake City, Utah. They have a number of employees scattered across the United States and Europe who work either from Ancestry offices or from their homes. They also hire consultants for special projects.

New employees are interviewed both for their competency in genealogical research and for their ability to conform to the professional standards and organization of the company. Here again, this is no different than working for a large law firm.

New clients for AncestryProGenealogists primarily come from the extensive advertising and promotional efforts of the parent corporation. With the constant flow of clients, the company can provide a standardized approach to each client's particular research needs. After the client's research objectives are determined, the project is assigned to a research team composed of individual genealogical researchers and a research manager. Relationships with the clients are exclusively handled by personal Client Relationship Managers and all communication between the client and the researchers, i.e. genealogists is handled by these Client Relationship Managers who are trained specialists in handling the needs of the clients. This specialization frees up the genealogists to do their work of researching the particular client's goals.

Assuming that you decided that you wanted to work for AncestryProGenealogists and you saw that there was an opening, usually advertised on the Ancestry.com website, you would fill out an application, and, after a review of the application if the company was interested they would ask you to come for an interview. Some of these interviews are conducted by video online when the prospective employee lives some distance from Salt Lake City, Utah. If the company wished to extend an offer of employment and you accepted, you would begin work either in your location or in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Additionally, new employees are trained for a period of weeks on company procedures before they actually begin working on genealogical research. Obviously, a big company like AncestryProGenealogists also has many specialized employees for different job descriptions from computer support to customer support so not all their employees do genealogical research.

As a new employee, you would be assigned a mentor to assist you during the first few months of your training. Going back to the analogy I made between law firms and the organization of AncestryProGenealogists, in both cases, associates are given a period of time to "work their way up the ladder. " In a law firm, a new employee may work for a year or two as an associate before becoming a senior associate, then may eventually qualify as junior partners and eventually become senior partners. Of course, each increase in responsibility also has an increase in compensation. Likewise, in AncestryProGenealogists, Associates may spend some time before becoming official "genealogists." In both cases, there are senior partners or managers and ultimately all of the office functions are handled by the "boss" who is either the most senior partner or as may be the case for AncestryProGenealogists, a person hired for that specific position.

Working for AncestryProGenealogists means you're working for a salary, with benefits, and with the regularity of a daily work schedule. You would be working on specific client projects and would be doing research and recording your findings according to the specific forms and requirements of the company. Those who work for AncestryProGenealogists have a benefits package that is similar to other professional businesses. Although I did not get into the subject of the amount of compensation received, I was assured that it was sufficient for supporting a family.

Because I know some of the genealogists who work at AncestryProGenealogists, I am certain that the company has a level of competency. Although it was not discussed, there is likely a certain degree of pressure to complete projects in a timely fashion. Again, this is no different than working in a law firm where you are constantly under pressure either due to court proceedings or client deadlines.

Although for most of my legal career I did not view myself as ever working in a larger law firm, once I was hired, I found that the benefits from the organization and the ability to share information and be taught by those around me were a more positive experience than my time working on my own. It was also nice to have a regular income. Some of the AncestryProGenealogists employees expressed the same opinion.

I also concluded that the fee structure and billing procedures of the company were similar to those of large law firms. When you employ this degree of professionalism, you can expect to pay a professional level fee.

As I mentioned, some of the employees are involved in areas such as employee benefits that have little to do with genealogical research. One bonus for working with AncestryProGenealogists is that you could have the possibility of doing TV show research or managing ancestral tours in different parts of the world. One specialty also focuses on unknown parentage research. Some of the employees are also involved in employee and public education. I understand that they may have hired some Ph.D.'s in history recently.

All in all, if you were seriously considering becoming a professional genealogist and had acquired sufficient skills to be considered as an employee of AncestryProGenealogists, I would certainly recommend that you investigate that possibility.

As a sole practitioner lawyer, I got a lot out of the experience and "street smarts." When I joined a larger law firm, some of that experience was invaluable but I had to "unlearn" quite a few things and after spending time with the AncestryProGenealogists, I can say that going to work for that company would be a similar experience.