Friday, February 27, 2015

Geneaology Overload

Reposted from Geneabloggers by Thomas MacEntee 24 February 2015

How do you handle "too much stuff" without being overwhelmed?

"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense." – Gertrude Stein

I've just returned from an amazing week attending the FGS 2015/RootsTech conferences in Salt Lake City and my head is spinning! I wanted to share with you some of the information I've gathered as well as some recent finds in the world of genealogy:

RootsTech Videos

If you were unable to attend RootsTech in person, or watch the live streamed sessions online, you can now access 20 different recorded sessions at the RootsTech site. Click here and then scroll down the page to see all the available sessions.

You can catch my session, Building a Research Toolbox, by clicking here or watching the embedded click above. If you'd like the handout, click here to download it in PDF.

Genealogy Roadshow Casting Call

Have you been watching Season 2 of Genealogy Roadshow on PBS? Well they are looking for people to be on Season 3 of the show and applications are being accepted. Click here to provide your information and who knows, we could be watching YOU on TV next year!

Kindred Voices Contest

In conjunction with the release of the Kindle version of Kindred Voices: Listening To Our Ancestors by Geoff Rasmussen, I'm holding a week-long contest sponsored by Legacy Family Tree and GeneaBloggers. Click here to enter!

NOTE: To enter, you will need to know the page count for the Kindle version of Kindred Voices. Click here to find the clue in the book description.

One winner will be selected to win ALL of the following prizes:

Legacy Family Tree Webinars: One (1) 12-month subscription to Legacy Family Tree Webinars to access over 200 recorded webinars and over 850 pages of syllabus materials (value $79.95 USD).

Legacy Delux 8.0 Software: The most comprehensive and easy-to-use family history software you can buy for Windows is now even better. You’re sure to be excited by all the new features! Legacy Family Tree is one of the best genealogy programs on the market today (digital download and PDF manual – value $39.95 USD).
Amazon Gift Card: One (1) Amazon Gift Card (email version, valued at $50.00 USD).

The entire prize package is valued at $170 USD. I’ll select one (1) winner after 1:00 pm Central on Friday 27 February 2015 and announce the winner via social media.

This contest is NOT limited to just those in the United States either! All of the prizes are digital items or memberships and can easily be sent to the winners via email!

Genealogy Bargains

Are you interested in saving money on your next genealogy-related purchase? Every day I scour the Internet looking for new promo codes, coupons and even freebies! Then I post them at my new site Genealogy Bargains: Here is just one example:

Save 70% on Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians by Chris Paton  – I met the author Chris Paton last year while teaching on a genealogy cruise in Australia. I heard several of his lectures and I can tell you this: the man knows his stuff and is a wealth of knowledge on UK, Scottish, and Irish genealogy!

-- submitted by Linda Mecchi

Thursday, February 26, 2015


WorldCat is the world's largest library catalog.

WorldCat is operated by OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and is an online catalog of many library collections. The FamilySearch Catalog (previously called the Family History Library Catalog) is now indexed in WorldCat. As a result, searching in WorldCat displays information in the FSC, as well as in other libraries. This is the first time the FSC has been included in any other catalog.

WorldCat also contains the ArchiveGrid discovery interface, which aids in family history research by providing access to over 2 million archival material descriptions, such as documents, personal papers, and family histories held by thousands of libraries, museums, and historical societies. Click here for for additional details as well as this link on Wikipedia.

If you find something in WorldCat that you want to examine in the Family History Library, simply click the link to go to the FSC for details. If a digital copy is available, you may be able to download the PDF (Portable Document Format)— and unlike Google Books, these books are completely searchable. Even if there is no digital copy available on the FSC, you can view the FSC description and the format it appears in, e.g., hardcopy, microfilm, etc. You can also send us a request and we will send you the digital records within a few days.

For more information and examples on how to use WorldCat for your family history research, please see go to the blogpost.

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dropbox Tools

Lots of you use Dropbox for your cloud storage. It is not the only option out there, but it seems to be the most popular. But did you know that it does more than just serve as a website for online storage? There are a lot of apps that work with Dropbox and can turn this little gem into a very powerful tool.

Smashingapps recently posted 13 Tools To Supercharge Your Dropbox.  The blog post outlines a number of apps and other tools to help you make better use of an already great resource.

One of my favorites is DropVox which enables you to record voice messages directly to your Dropbox account. Boxcrypton allows you to encrypt the files you store in the cloud - perfect for any of you who have been avoiding this storage media for privacy reasons. Send To Dropbox allows you to email files directly to Dropbox.

You can find even more apps that work with Drobox in the iTunes or Google Play Stores.

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sneak Peak At The New! is changing and is opening up the beta for users to test drive and comment on.  The following is being reposted from the blog by Dan Lawyer on 19 February 2015

If you happened to be at RootsTech in Salt Lake City last week, you may have heard the buzz as we unveiled the beta version of a new and improved Ancestry website. If you weren’t at the conference, it’s not too late to learn about what’s coming and be a part of the Ancestry beta program.

A New and Improved Ancestry Website
Ancestry is continually working hard to improve our site and make it easier to discover, share, and preserve your family history. While we constantly make incremental improvements, it has been a few years since Ancestry has made a major update to the site. We are sensitive to the impact changes have on our members. However, substantial research into the needs of our members and the experience they are having on the website have helped us to see new and innovative ways to reinvent the way we help you do family history. The improved website makes it easier for anyone to discover and tell the rich, unique story of their family, while also helping them to become better researchers.

A Fresh New Look

We wanted to make sure the new Ancestry website is a site our members love to use even more than the current experience. The new experience incorporates a new look and feel and simplified navigational elements to streamline key tasks – making your family story the focus. All of the changes are anchored in three underlying principles that are the driving force for our design team:
Make it beautiful
Make it usable
Make it delightful

The Rich, Unique Story of Your Family

One of the greatest unmet needs of our members is the desire for story. We love to hear stories and share them. Unfortunately, we’re not all great storytellers, and we don’t always understand the story that our discoveries are trying to tell us. The new Ancestry website includes several new ways to help you discover the rich, unique stories of your family and help you share them too.

We’ve introduced a new LifeStory view for each ancestor in your family tree. The LifeStory uses cutting-edge technology to analyze all of the records and information you have discovered about an ancestor and then generates a narrative following a timeline of their life. It uses maps, historical records, and photos to enrich the story. You can then customize the LifeStory to make it even richer and more personalized.

The LifeStory also includes another exciting new feature, Historical Insights, to help you learn about important moments in history that your ancestors may have experienced. They are filled with historical images and descriptions of key historical events, acting like a time machine or a history teacher so you get a deeper understanding of your ancestors’ lives.

The new Ancestry website also includes a completely new Media Gallery. The Media Gallery makes it easier for you to manage all your media – records, videos, photos, stories – in one place to enhance the story of your family.

Become a Better Researcher

The new Ancestry website makes it even easier to manage the information you discover about your ancestors. We’re introducing an updated Facts view for each ancestor that makes it easier to manage the facts, sources, media, and relationships associated with your ancestors. The Facts view also brings core genealogical concepts to the forefront, such as the relationship between sources and events in an ancestor’s life. We’ve also made it easier to use media and historical records to support the details of your ancestor’s life.

Many of our beta participants have discovered that it isn’t just the Facts view that helps them be more effective researchers. The LifeStory view helps them more easily see potential errors in their data, ask new questions about the life of an ancestor, and generate new theories about their ancestors’ lives.

Be a Part of the Beta

We’d like to invite you to become a part of the Ancestry beta. To join the beta, simply add your name to the waitlist at this link:

We will be inviting people on the waitlist to join the beta in batches over the next few months. When you are next, we will email you instructions for how to access the beta. You will be able to send feedback to the Ancestry team from directly within the beta site. We want to hear your feedback on what’s working well, what problems you discover, and your suggestions for improvement. When you send us feedback, you are helping Ancestry to reinvent the way we do family history.

We look forward to seeing you in the beta!

About Dan Lawyer

Dan Lawyer is a Senior Director of Product at Ancestry and oversees product efforts for portions of the website. Lawyer is an expert in business strategy, execution, and product management. He has more than 20 years of experience delivering solutions across social, web, mobile, SaaS, and traditional software environments in both business and consumer focused markets. He has filled various technology and marketing leadership roles at WordPerfect, Fibernet, Novell, FamilySearch, and FamilyLink. Prior to joining Ancestry, Dan headed up business and product operations for Adobe’s Analytics and Social businesses. Dan loves working on his own family history and inventing ways to make doing family history easier.

See more at:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Back-up, Back-up, Back-up!

If you have ever lost something you cared a great deal about - something you can NEVER get back, you know how heart-breaking that can be.  If you have ever spent hours typing away on a project only to find it lost forever because you hit the wrong key, had a power failure, or forgot to "save" - you understand the frustration.  Nowadays, most writing programs have auto-save features which help a bit.  But what about all that "stuff" you have accumulated, scanned, stored, annotated and lovingly cultivated that is sitting on your desktop or laptop computer and/or tablet?  I will say it again, back-up, back-up, back-up!

Not only do I recommend regular back-ups of all your genealogy materials, but I recommend redundant back-ups in multiple locations, at least one being off-site - we do live in a hurricane zone here on the coast.  But don't despair, most of today's genealogy programs, your scanned images, and your research can quickly, easily and securely be backed up to the cloud with services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive),,, and many others.  You can also purchase peripheral hard drives that serve the same purpose.  Some of those - God bless technology - even run wirelessly.  Sort of like having your very own, private cloud.  This is quick, easy, and protects your data from compromise.  Many of the cloud storage options offer a substantial amount of space for free. And, if you are using a cloud-based service, it is easy to copy your stuff between computers, such as from your laptop to your tablet or the other way around.

And don't think you don't need to back up your tree just because you are using a program such as, RootsWeb, FamilySearch, or some other web-based service.  There are manual back-up options in all of them.  I back up my tree to Dropbox EVERY time I log out.  Every once in a while I go back and delete the oldest backups from Dropbox.  Yes, it takes time and thought - but it will become a habit you will never regret.

You spend a lot of time on your research.  Keep it safe!

--  submitted by Denise Doyon

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Upcoming Field Trip

WHERE:  Family History Center Field Trip
                1519 Sam Rittenberg Blvd
                Charleston, SC 29407
WHEN:    Wednesday 25 Feb 2015
TIME:      1:00 PM - carpools leaving from Seabrook Real Estate Office Parking Lot
               3:30 - 4:00 PM - approximate return to Seabrook

We will only be at the facility for about an hour and will be given a tour as well as an explanation of how to use the library and equipment and how to order records. There are forms available for purchase at the Center.

We have 12-15 people attending our field trip on 25 Feb 2015. Two are meeting us there due to previous engagements. Since almost everyone volunteered to drive and we needed to cut down on cars, I just took every 4th person as a driver and assigned cars randomly for the others. To save parking space at the Lake House, we will meet at the real estate office parking lot and plan to leave promptly at 1 PM, so please be there and in your cars a few minutes early. Next time we'll have different drivers to keep it all fair, cost wise.

Just in case you miss your ride, the FHC address is 1519 Sam Rittenberg Drive, right behind the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

driver Linda Mecchi....passengers Jeannine McGrane, John Maher
driver Denise Doyon...passengers Larry Blasch, Charlene Barker
driver Patricia Call......passengers Mimi Montague
driver Bill and Eileen Middleton....passenger Robert Stroupe

To more folks plan to meet us there after prior commitments.

If you know of anyone else who wants to go, bring them along and we'll fit them in a car. Bring any questions you want to ask.

Looking forward to this trip!!

-- submitted by Linda Mecchi

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Family Relationship Chart

For those of you who would like a very useful, colorful and informational chart to help you figure out just how it is you are related to some of your "relatives", Crestleaf has just created a new Family Relationship Chart and Infographic you might want to check out.

If you would like to print this out to keep handy, please click HERE for an enlarged .jpg image.

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Friday, February 13, 2015

Top Genealogy Websites

The official blog of recently published an infographic of the top genealogy websites taken from GenealogyInTime magazines fourth annual survey. Thought y'all might find it interesting - so I have copied the graphic below.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Producing a Quality Family History

If you have spent any time in the genealogy world and have researched the titles of available books on the subject, you have encountered Patricia Law Hatcher, CG. Patricia is a technical writer, instructor, and professional genealogist. She has written, edited and published a number of technical publications. She writes about genealogy and co-authored Indexing Family Histories: Simple Steps for a Quality Product, as well as writing for many genealogical publications.  The book she is probably best known for is Producing a Quality Family History*. I borrowed this book from the library when I began this journey - it is available at the Charleston County Public Library (call number 808.066929) and read it from cover to cover - every single word. It was such a well-written and important research tool that I eventually bit the bullet and bought a copy in paperback from (It is also available in a Kindle and hardcover edition). I read it again and the pages of my paperback copy are covered in multi-colored highlights and margin notes.

At the beginning of the book there is a list outlining "what makes a quality family history?"  It is one of the most succinct guidelines I have seen for getting this job done. I copied it and tacked it to the bulletin board over my desk.  It floats around my computer desktop on a "sticky note". I recently re-typed it and printed it on neon-colored card stock and stuck it in my research notebook. Patricia's list has made an enormous impact on my family research and writing, and because of that, I thought I would share it with you.

What Makes a Quality Family History?
  • It presents quality research - research that is thorough, new, and based on a variety of primary sources 
  • It is well-organized, understandable, and attractively presented 
  • It uses a recognized genealogical numbering system
  • It documents each fact and relationship fully 
  • It expresses information accurately, indicating the likelihood of conclusions
  • It goes beyond records, placing people in context 
  • It includes illustrations such a s maps, charts, and photographs 
  • It has a thoughtful and thorough index 

We put a lot of time, energy and money into this research.  If you plan is to publish all that work, whether for your family or for the benefit of genealogy in general, you might as well do it right.  If this list makes sense to you - I suggest you read Patricia's book.  I think it is a must-read for anyone writing a family history.

*Hatcher, Patricia Law. "Publishing Family History in the 1990s." Producing a Quality Family History. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1996. Print.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What Happens to Your Data After You're Dead?

I have touched on this subject before ("Where There's a Will" 15 Jan 2015) and you may remember that the bottom line was that there just wasn't a lot of information out there about how all that on-line research you have done is dealt with in the event of your death.

There was a recent post on the Geneanet blog which addresses this issue as it relates to folks using Geneanet for their research.  I find it very interesting that they offer an opportunity in their "Personal Options" section to establish what happens to your account after you die.

I went to my account and found no such option under personal settings.  Ditto for  In addition, I searched their "help" forums for "what happens to my account/data after I die" and found nothing.

If you get a chance, read the Geneanet post  It might be time to start thinking about this question and prodding our online research sites to address this issue.  In the absence of options from sites such as Ancestry, Family Search, MyHeritage, etc., you can always talk to your Trusts and Estates legal adviser and make your own arrangements.  My attorney uses a very catchy phrase when talking about estate planning.  She says, "It addresses two of the most important things in our lives: Everyone we love and everything we have."  I think our family history research can be included as well.

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Monday, February 9, 2015

The "French Toast" Alert System

As I write this, a HUGE blizzard is attacking the North East. If you have friends or family in its path, I am sure you have been following the weather reports. Recently, Mocavo posted an interesting little story by Michael J. LeClerc (27 January 2015) about how we prepare for storms. It's about the huge nor-easter that hit New England in 1978. It's also about how, as a culture, we learn to survive. Hope you will take a few minutes to read Epigenetics at Work: the Blizzard of '78 and the French Toast Alert System.

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Newest Genealogy Records

I recently stumbled upon GenealogyInTime Magazine's list of newest genealogy records.  This is a very comprehensive summary of all of the latest resources made available to family history researchers.  Take a look at the list - you may just find a new place to dig!

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Friday, February 6, 2015

Who Do You Think You Are?

The 2015 Season of Who Do You Think You Are? Starts on Sunday, March 8th on the TLC Network at 10 p.m. ET.

You can watch a short video about the show

There are 8 episodes this season about celerities:

  • March 8 - Julie Chen
  • March 15 - Josh Groan
  • March 22 - Angie Harmon
  • March 29 - Sean Hayes
  • April 5 - Tony Goldwyn
  • April 13 - America Ferrera
  • April 19 - Bill Paxton
  • April 26 - Melissa Etheridge

In addition to being entertained, you never know what you will learn! 

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Understanding Dates

Laurence Harris, Head of GenealogyUK at MyHeritage, has written a very informative piece entitled, "Understanding Dates: Five Common Mistakes to Avoid".  You can read his entire article at

In summary, the five most common mistakes Mr. Harris points out are:

  1. Mixing up American and English date formats;
  2. Failure to recognize and convert Julian dates to Gregorian dates;
  3. Misunderstanding dates from other special/religious calendars;
  4. Confusing an event's date and the date it was registered or recorded; and
  5. Assuming that the dates in an article were recorded accurately.
Although Mr. Harris is writing for a UK audience, I think that many of the points he makes can apply to anyone, anywhere, doing family history research. Numbers 4 and 5 in the list are especially relevant to all of us. Many birth dates are arrived at using baptismal records from churches - and although the date of baptism might be close to the date of birth, the record usually doesn't indicate the actual birth date. The same can be said of dates of death. A death was often recorded because a record of the interment was noted by a church. Again, people were often buried very soon after their demise, but the interment and death dates are not necessarily the same. And let's not even get into the accuracy of a recorded date! I can't begin to count the number of times I have discovered this type of mistake!  

If you are exploring records from other countries, there was not a lot of consistency even between countries that bordered one another. The bottom line - it is important to understand what it is you are reading, who wrote it, and why and where it was recorded.  

Hope you will read Laurence Harris's post on MyHeritage. 

--  submitted by Denise Doyon

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Family Search Record Collections

I am getting information all the time from bloggers and websites about the huge surge in the number of digital records available on various sites.  Family search has been expanding at the rate of 15 to 18 new databases per week.  If you are not using - which is totally free of charge - you should check out their collection list at  It is quite impressive.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Geneapalooza Blog

If you haven't had the chance to read the Geneapalooza Blog, I highly recommend it.  The header on the blog says:

"Exposing the world of genealogy, every Monday/Wednesday/Friday, one panel at a time."

Here are screenshots of two, recent offerings:

The main characters are a relatively young couple, and the young lady decides to do genealogy research. In the process, the strip hits most of the high and low points about the genealogy community.  The main character meets many "interesting" people while pursuing her own research.

As far as I know, it's really the only pure "genealogy humor" published on a regular basis in blog format.

The strip is published three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  You can go back and read the entire archive for 2014 and 2015 at in publication order (oldest post first).  

I promise it will make you laugh!

-- submitted by Denise Doyon