Sunday, October 23, 2016

Just Checking In ...

It has been a while since anything has gotten posted to our blog.  Evacuating for Matthew took me away for a week - cleaning up after Matthew took almost a week - and then I left on an excursion to New York City for a week.  I will be back on Seabrook in time for our Wednesday (26 Oct) meeting (providing all modes of transportation are on schedule).

I recently sent two emails to our membership regarding the research project we are going to launch next month with the distribution of workbooks. Fifteen members have signed up to participate - a great response.  I will be posting an announcement in Tidelines to see if we have any "closet" genealogists out there that can be tempted to join us and participate in the project.

The run up to the holidays is always a busy time for all of us, and we will not be meeting on 23 November or 28 December. We will be presenting the research project at the 9 November meeting and hope to have a small, holiday party at the 14 December meeting. Lynn has suspended his Wednesday evening workshop until the beginning of the new year.  It's hard to focus on genealogy with everything else going on this time of year.

I hope all of you have fully recovered from the effects of Matthew. This week's meeting (26 Oct from 1:30-3:30 pm at the Lake House) will include a short presentation on DNA.  Hope to see many of you then!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Evacuated to Greenville

I just wanted to post a quick note to all of our followers who make their home along the coast of South Carolina. I hope that you have evacuated to safety and are safe and snug far away from the effects of Hurricane Matthew. This is my first mandatory evacuation in the fifteen years I have lived on Seabrook, and like all of you, I am watching the progress of this storm and hoping it doesn't cause too much damage and disruption.  I encourage all of you to keep up with the information coming out of your local communities and from the South Carolina Emergency website.  It is equally important to understand when and how you will be able to return to your homes as it was to heed the order to leave.

Stay safe - we look forward to seeing all of you again soon after the danger has passed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14 Meeting Summary

Thank you to all of those who attended the September 14th Social to kick off the 2016-2017 year for Family History.  Here are some of the key items covered during the session:

1) Welcomed new attendees
2) Had attendees go to the walls and record the names of their grandparents, what states were they doing research and what countries were their focus.  Then got these groups into different parts of the room to discuss their common goals and roadblocks.
3) Passed out information on the DIRT brochure on weekly events for 2016
4) National Genealogical Society Research Trip to Washington DC in 2017, for more information click here
5) 19th Annual Genealogy Workshop on Oct 22, 2016 at Family History Center (see previous blog) - click here
6) Free Virtual Genealogy Fair by US National Archives - Oct 26/27 - click here
7) Introduction to The Family History Guide - click here
8) Recommendation that any beginner genealogist should use The Family History Guide, should purchase the Family Tree Maker software for their local Computer and begin to use FamilySearch as a free website to begin research.
9) Future evening sessions will be focused upon helping with personal 1-on-1 family history development.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Workbook on Genetic Genealogy

For those of you who are venturing forth into the world of DNA testing - I recommend you take a look at another of Dick Eastman's recent posts, this on about a new publication from the National Genealogical Society (NGS) entitled, Genetic Genealogy in Practice. I believe the workbook is available for purchase starting 12 Sept and can be ordered through the NGS website for $36.00.

The Future of Genealogy Software

I have been following Dick Eastman's blog, "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter" for a long time. I have always found Dick to be at the cutting edge of what is going on in the world of family history as it relates to the digital age. He was once an IT guy and it shows. 

He recently published a post entitled The Future of Genealogy Software that I think will be of interest to anyone using a family tree program (such as Family Tree Maker). He makes some very good observations, and some well-thought out predictions, about where computing is going and why we need to rethink how we do things.

Windows PCs and iOS systems such as MacBooks are probably on their way out. Dick is not the first IT guru to write about this. The next ten years are going to see a HUGE change in how we use computers. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Evernote vs OneNote - Free vs Paid?

For any of your still struggling with Evernote's new payment plans and restrictions - you might find Lisa Louise Cooke's recent blog post of interest.  She explores various ways to use the free version of Evernote and makes a case for when and why OneNote might be the better options.

Friday, September 2, 2016

LDS Family History Center Charleston's 19th Annual Genealogy Workshop

We have been talking about this event for awhile.  Its a unique opportunity to learn and to get to know other people doing family history.  Here is the link and the details:

For link to their website and go to the bottom of the site for flyer, schedule and to register, click here.
The 2016 Workshop will be held Saturday, 22 Oct 2016 from 8:30am to 2:30pm.

The flyer for our workshop is linked at the bottom of this page, along with descriptions of the class topics. Classes run in 50 minute sessions, so you will have the opportunity to attend five of the topics.

Registration fee is $10 if paid before October 22nd and $12 if paid at the door.  Registration includes class handouts and a brown bag lunch (hoagie sandwich, chips, dessert, and drink).

To register, simply stop by the Family History Center OR call 766-6017.  ON-LINE registration is also available through the link below (a handling fee of $1.30 per ticket will be added to your credit card charges).

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why Is This Website Not Working ?!?!

Have you ever tried accessing a website and just can't seem to connect? There are often some very simple explanations.  You may be misspelled the address, or you aren't connected to the internet or your internet connection is REALLY slow. But if you have gone through the obvious list of reasons and find that none of them apply and STILL can't get a connection it may be that the website itself is just not working properly at the moment.  I know - it's frustrating.

But there is a way to check and see if it is down for everyone or just you. You can go to the site Down For Everyone Or Just Me, type in the address of the web page you are trying to access, and voila! an instant answer to your question.

Websites are often down for maintenance (although they try to do that in the dead of night so that the least amount of people are affected), a glitch, software problems, hacking ... the list goes on.

So next time you can't get access to something on the web, try Down For Everyone Or Just Me and save yourself a lot of frustration.

Document Scanning

You don't have to haul around another piece of hardware to scan documents when you go on a research trip. Although many of you are familiar with small, portable, cordless scanners such as Flip-Pal, you can do the same thing with your phone. Dick Eastman just published a post in this Online Genealogy Newsletter entitled, How To Quickly Scan Documents Using an Android and Google Drive or an iPhone and Dropbox which is worth reading.

In his article, he provides links to video instructions on how to do both. And don't forget, those of you who have Evernote installed on your phone, you can scan documents, photos, maps, whiteboards, or just about anything else with your Evernote app and store it in Evernote.

Going paperless rocks!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Digital Scrapbooking

I want to thank Bob for sharing this information.  Kim Komando recently did a video on How To Create An Amazing Digital Scrapbook.  Very well done, and, in this age of digital communication, a nice way to present our family history research to the rest of our family and friends.

Educational Opportunity

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has recently launched a new educational series called Branching Out.  There are five modules in the program which allow you to learn at your own pace, from the comfort of home.  Dick Eastman recently posted about this new program on his blog, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.  You can go directly to the NGS site for more information as well.

I can't emphasize enough how much can be learned from seminars, webinars and online classes. As much as we try to cover as many pertinent topics and learning tools in our meetings - there is no substitute for getting out there and educating yourself in the areas you find interesting or need more information about. NGS also provides PDF coursesother online courses, and a home study course.

The National Genealogical Society is one of the largest and most respected groups for the study of family history.  Annual membership is $65/year and is a good investment for anyone serious about digging into their roots.

Hope you will check it out and take advantage of what the NGS has to offer.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Password Conundrum

At our last meeting, we briefly discussed the problems associated with remembering (or misremembering) our passwords.

I thought I would share this recent article in The Washington Post about a new trend in password configuration.  I think you will find this method a LOT easier to work with.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

July 27 and August 10th meeting items

Thank you to all of those who attended these meetings and the terrific questions.  Here are some of the resources we discussed during the meetings:

1) History lines - to get information about your ancestors and what was happening in their lives, there is a fee to get to this website, click here
2) Robert Worst Family Genealogy example posting: Click here
3) Patriot History: click here
4) Brick Wall Busters: click here
5) London / England researcher - fee based website: click here
6) Guide to New York City Archives: click here
7) index to Early Family History Bibles: click here
8) Armchair Genealogist: click here
9) Genealogy Gems website: click here

We hope that these reference sources will help you in your family history journey.

See you next meeting.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

How I'm Using Evernote For Genealogy

For those of you who are just now finding Evernote - for anyone who has been using it for a while, Janine Adams just posted How I Use Evernote For Genealogy on her blog, Organize Your Family History.  This is just her system for keeping a research log, task list, resource log, etc. but I have always found that taking a look at how someone else does something often helps me find a way that works well for me.

Hope you will take a look at it!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Brick Wall Busters


Christa Cowen of recently did a blog post on busting brick walls She outlines the steps (see insert above) and also provides a video explaining how to do this in an organized manner.

Hope you will take a moment to check it out.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Evernote Update

For those Evernote users among us who are upset by the recent pricing changes - specifically that the "free" version limits you to only two devices - a recent post on the Evernote blog has the following update:

Many people have asked whether Evernote Web, accessed from a desktop browser, counts as a “device” for Evernote Basic. It does not. You can access Evernote via the web browser from as many computers as you like, even on a Basic account. For more information about how devices are counted, please refer to our Devices FAQ.
This means that you can access your Evernote account from as many computers or devices as you wish so long as you are doing it through a web browser and not from a downloaded app.  So, if you have Evernote downloaded to your desktop and your phone you can then access it from your laptop by simply going to your browser (Chrome, FireFox, Explorer, or Safari to name a few) and type in in the address bar.  Voila!  You are taken to Evernote where you can sign in using your username and password and you have full access to the web version.

If you want to maintain free access to Evernote (and why spend the $$$ if you don't have to), I would suggest that you download the app to the two devices where you use Evernote the most (for me that would be my Windows laptop and Android phone) and then access it via the web everywhere else (for me that would be from my Chromebook).  Easy peasy and no extra expense.

Check the Devices FAQ if you have any other questions.


PERSI - Periodical Source Citation Index

Don't know what PERSI is?  According to A recent post in the Genealogy Gems blog:

PERSI is THE master index for periodicals with over 2.5 million entries. Thousands of magazines, newsletters, journals, and other periodicals from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Ireland, and Australia are indexed here. 
PERSI is maintained by the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have the equivalent of 6 full-time staff who are dedicated to subject-indexing every issue of every known genealogy or historical periodical and even the tiniest society newsletter.
PERSI is currently available at the FindMyPast website - but the good news is that you don't need a subscription to search the database.  Yeah - I know - something for free.

Lisa Louise Cooke's blogpost explains PERSI and how to use it.  Hope you will take a moment to check it out!

Why Your Genealogy Searches Don't Work

Diane Haddad of Family Tree Magazine recently posted a great piece entitled Why Your And Other Genealogy Searches Don't Work.  It is a very thorough explanation of why you sometimes just can't find something that should probably be fairly easy to dig up.  She also lists causes for those failed searches and some possible solutions.

I think all of us can benefit from her wisdom.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Password Protected Thumb Drives

Following up on a conversation we had at our last meeting about the security of information you store and carry around with you on thumb drives, I recently found an affordable option at Best Buy.

This little guy comes in 32 and 64 GB options ($9.99 and $14.99 respectively).  According to the description on the Best Buy website:

"Store and transport your files securely with this SanDisk Ultra 32GB flash drive, which features password protection and file encryption with the included SecureAccess software. The drive is backward compatible with USB 2.0 for flexibility."

"Backward compatible" means it will work on a 2.0 or 3.0 USB drive - which means most of you should not have a problem with using this on your desktops or laptops.

I have not purchased one of these and cannot speak to how well the security option works - but if any of you are looking for a thumb drive that you can encrypt - this may be a good option.  If any of you decide to give it a try, I hope you will share your experience with the rest of us.

Remember - it is never a good idea to store sensitive personal or financial information on a thumb drive. If you find it necessary to do that, check out options for password protecting an individual file you are storing on a thumb drive. That may be your easiest and least expensive option.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Searchy App

Family historians are hungry for information.  We look for it in,, Wikitree, and a number of other genealogy websites.  But I bet you didn't know that a LOT of great information can be found by simply "Googling".

I recently came across a statistic that states we use approximately 30% of the computer power we purchase. That means that we are grossly underutilizing our desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The main reason for this is that we just don't know about some of the things our technology can do for us, and we could spend a substantial amount of our time and energy trying to stay on top of all the new technology, apps, websites, and blogs that bring that information to the public's attention.  

I recently discovered a new resource called Searchy.  This is a cool site that features tons and tons of tips that help you make the most of Google.  It is organized by groups depending on what it is you are looking for and does a great job of helping you hone in on the information you are seeking.

Take a look.  It may be something you can use, and maybe not.  But you won't know if you don't at least spend a few minutes checking it out. Might as well make the best use of the most-used research tool out there!


Become a Road Scholar

For any of you who are not familiar with the Road Scholar program - I highly recommend you visit their website and check it out.  For many years they have been organizing wonderful trips, to new and interesting places, at reasonable prices.  It's a chance to learn something new, meet new people and expand your horizons.

Just for fun, I searched for trips related to genealogy, and got four possibilities:
There are also many, many other trips that may tickle your fancy, domestic and abroad.  Many thanks to Ellie for sharing the current North America catalog with us and inspiring this blogpost.  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Anti-Virus Software

Those of you who are Windows users have been encouraged for years to install anti-virus software on your devices. Now that more and more Windows programs are crossing the line into the Apple universe, Apple devices are becoming more vulnerable as well and programs are being developed and advertised all the time for Macs. The cost of this software has been increasing and it can get pretty pricey to "protect" your computer.

Virtually all of the "bad" stuff that gets into your device is stuff you let in yourself - usually through an email or email attachment - or in your haste to download a legitimate program you accidently give it permission to load something else that causes you a problem. You have to read EVERYTHING carefully before installing anything. Viruses don't appear all by themselves. But as consumers, we have been programmed to believe that installing anti-virus software on your device will protect you.

No so. After having one of our devices infected twice under the watchful eye of expensive Norton anti-virus protection, I canceled the subscription. Since then I have not used anti-virus software on any of my family's Windows computers for years, and we have not had a single infection. I don't open any email from an unrecognized sender. I regularly run a clean-up program and a malware program (both of them free) as well as making sure Windows Defender (Windows built-in security program) is running in the background at all times. I didn't make this decision lightly. I did a lot of research on the subject and asked a lot of questions of people who know a lot more about this than I do.  I chose free malware and cleaning programs that came highly recommended by folks who use them regularly. 

CBC News-Technology and Science recently posted an article on their blog entitled, Antivirus software is 'increasingly useless' and may make your computer less safe. It pretty much debunks the myth of anti-virus programs.

How you choose to protect your device is a personal decision - and I highly recommend you employ some system for keeping your computer(s) safe and running smoothly - but if you are spending up to $100 a year for an anti-virus program, you should read this article. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Family Search Research Wiki

When it comes to genealogy websites, there is always more to them than meets the eye. That is very true of Keeping in mind that this research tool is available to anyone, for free, it's hard to believe just how much research power is available. It's always a good idea to explore a site such as this, perhaps take a look at any tutorials they offer and make sure you are getting the most out of it.

In her blog, Empty Branches On The Family Tree, Linda Stufflebean recently posted about Research Wiki on For those of you who are not familiar with this research option on the LDS website, I recommend you read Linda's blogpost and spend a few minutes exploring this valuable tool.

I often talk about "drilling down" when we explore research options during our meetings. There are many, many tools hiding behind tabs and lurking under links that go undiscovered because we don't take the time to explore.

Some of the best material is found when you are looking for something else! Hope you will give Linda's blog a "read" and take wander over to and take a look.

Low-Cost Computer Options

Most of us have a computer.  Hard to imagine getting by without one these days.  Each of us has our own preferences - laptop, desktop, Windows, Apple, etc.  Personally, I am a Windows laptop fan and just two years ago purchased a new Dell, with all the bells and whistles, for $700 - and that wasn't my most expensive option. But it had all the power and storage I needed - so it worked for me.  But it's big (17 inches) and a bit on the heavy side.  I was hauling it around all the time and getting tired of it - so last year I purchased a Chromebook to take to the library and on vacation and everywhere else I use it. I seldom leave the house without it these days.  It's nice to have something small, compact, light and easy to use. Also, it doesn't require any maintenance, isn't prone to malware or viruses, and is fast and efficient. No - it isn't too good to be true. Chromebooks need access to the internet to function and you cannot download programs (such as Family Tree Maker or Photoshop) to a Chromebook. But I have a laptop for those things. Like everything else, you have to buy what you need to fit how you work and what you are going to use it for.

For those of you who may be looking for a small, less expensive 2nd computer or a replacement for your current laptop or desktop, and don't want to spend the $$$$ for a MacBook (they are on the expensive side), Dick Eastman posted an article yesterday about a Widows laptop for $149.00.  You almost can't buy a smartphone for that price these days.  He gives it a pretty good review and on the face, this laptop appears to be a pretty good option in terms of its portability and function.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

More Ways To Use Google Drive

google drive logo

Lisa Louise Cooke has a wonderful website called "Genealogy Gems".  She recently posted an article entitled, Google Drive: A Challenger to Dropbox and Evernote.  For those of you who are already Google users, or are looking for an alternative to Evernote (now that they have changed the rules and raised their prices), you might want to take a look at this article. Google Drive is free, as far as I have been able to determine, there is no limit on how much you can save to it, is backed up regularly, and is accessible on any device with access to the internet.  Lisa also has also just published a 2nd Edition of her book, The Genealogist's Google Toolbox that is available through her website or at

I also found a PC World article entitled 3 Tips and Tools for Saving Web Content to Google Drive that you might want to take a look at.

There are many, many tools out there to make your job easier and even more fun!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Genealogy Videos

The National Genealogical Society has a great blog entitled Upfront with NGS. They recently posted a piece on genealogy videos that you might find interesting.

There are a LOT of videos out there that can help you with your genealogy research.  The field is exploding with new information every day and the internet is chock-full of wonderful resources.

Thanks, Ellie, for sharing this post with us - hope you will all check it out.

Have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

More Evernote News

For those of you who are already using Evernote - or thinking of it - you should know that they have revised their pricing plans.  The type of plan you choose depends on how you intend to use Evernote and how many devices you want to use it on.  For those of you just starting out - I recommend the Basic, free account. You can always upgrade if you feel you need to add more devices or services.  For genealogy purposes, if you are simply using Evernote as a web clipper on your desktop or laptop and maybe using it to scan documents, etc. from your phone, most of you will find the Basic service more than adequate.

Evernote posted all the information about the changes in a recent blog post, which I recommend you take a look at.  The summary is:

Evernote Basic

The easiest way to get started with Evernote, Basic has been and will remain free of charge. Evernote Basic supports web clipping and note sharing, so you can capture memories, ideas, and inspiration and save them forever.

On Basic, you can access notes on up to two devices, such as a computer and phone, two computers, or a phone and a tablet, as well as on the web, so you can continue to take your notes with you throughout your day. Passcode lock on the mobile app, formerly a paid feature, is now available on Basic as well.

Evernote Plus
$3.99/month or $34.99/year (save 27%)

To stay in sync across all your devices, consider Evernote Plus. You’ll also enjoy the ability to take notebooks offline on a mobile device, so your notes will be with you wherever you go, even when there’s no Internet connection. You can forward emails into Evernote and keep them alongside related notes, complete with attachments, and 1 GB of upload space each month means you can keep all your projects together.

Evernote Premium
$7.99/month or $69.99/year (save 27%)
Get the full power of Evernote with Evernote Premium, a set of tools designed to help you go paperless and take ideas into action across all your devices. Find text buried inside Office docs. Annotate PDFs. Discover connections between notes, turn business cards into phone contacts, or present your work with one click. Premium includes 10 GB of monthly upload space, and you have all the benefits of Plus and Basic, too.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

How To Use Evernote For Genealogy

8 Ways to Begin Your Genealogy Journey Using Evernote

At our last meeting we spent a few minutes looking at how to use Evernote. Today on The Evernote Blog they posted about Kerry Scott's book, How To Use Evernote For Genealogy. If you are interested in purchasing the book, you can go to and pick up the paperback for $18.99. Or you can go to and pick it up the Kindle edition for $12.99. The paperback version is $21.32 at Amazon, BUT you have the option to purchase a used copy for as little as $13.83.  I buy a lot of reference books - and I purchase the ebook version most of the time, but when I want an actual book, I usually purchase a used copy. Just make sure you check the shipping costs before you order. Sometimes a used copy with shipping is more expensive than a new copy from Amazon - and if you are a Prime member, shipping is free and you get you book in two days!

If you are serious about learning more on how to use Evernote effectively, I highly recommend you grab a copy of this book. I know some of you who attended the last meeting might have signed up for Evernote and are learning how it works - so bring along your insights and questions to the next meeting.

Friday, June 24, 2016 World Indexing Event

For 72 hours between July 15 and 17, thousands of family historians will gather together online to see how many records they can accurately index in an attempt to make more free family history data available online than ever before. Even if you’ve never indexed a record, or only have a small amount of time to dedicate to the event,your contribution will make a difference.

If you are interested in taking bit of time to give back something to the genealogy community by way of helping make more records available, online, to everyone - this is your chance.

Family History Daily has a post that will give you all the information you need.  Also, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, there is information on a new genealogy course they are offering.  You might want to check that out as well.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Spreadsheet Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy

Many of you have expressed an interest in learning how to organize your genealogy research using spreadsheets. has an interesting video course entitled Spreadsheet Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy.  At $40, it is a bargain. One of the best parts of the course (in addition to being a video) is that it teaches you how to create the spreadsheets you want to use for your research.  D.I.R.T. is in "summer casual mode" through August and we are not doing any presentations - so any of you with some spare time this summer might want to purchase and download this course and see what you can learn about spreadsheets.  

If you do, we would love to hear what you learned!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I often mention Michael Lacopo and his blog, Hoosier Daddy? during our meetings.  Michael did a brilliant job of finding his biological grandfather using DNA, a great deal of research and some tried and true organizational techniques.

Michael was recently interviewed about his research by and they have posted this interview and other information about Michael Lacopo online.

It's a five-minute video, with a link to Michael's blog.  The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by your genealogy research, I recommend you visit Michael's blog and start reading (from the beginning) his story.

I promise you will be inspired!

Technology and Genealogy

The topic of technology often comes up during our meetings - whether it's how to use what we have or what we should buy to make our lives easier.  I believe that all of us have a computer of some sort - either iOS or Windows - desktop, laptop or tablet. We need a way to get on the Internet these days if we really want to do a thorough job of researching our family history.

Nobody loves computers and technology more than I do - and I have a pretty spiffy Windows laptop that I love. It's got a nice, big screen and a full-size keyboard with keypad and it allows me to hook up just about anything with a USB or HDMI connection. But it's big and cumbersome and on the heavy side. I got tired of lugging it to meetings, the library, on vacation, around the house ... you get the picture. I don't like tablets because they don't suit the way I do things. I like having a keyboard that doesn't rely on a Bluetooth connection.

So after much research, I purchased a Chromebook earlier this year. Mine has a 12" screen, a very functional (if not quite full-size) keyboard, two USB ports, an HDMI port and, best of all, a micro SD card slot that allowed me to add 128GB of storage to a device that doesn't come with internal storage. All that for $165.  Chromebooks do not allow you to install software (such as Family Tree Maker, PhotoShop, Smilebox, or Scrivener). If you need a good word processing, spreadsheet, note taker, presentation package - Google Drive has you covered and best of all, it's free.

Chromebooks are small, light-weight, have 10 hours of battery life, recharge in a New-York-minute, don't get viruses, don't require any housekeeping, and since it stores all your files on the cloud (or your micro SD card) you don't have to worry about losing your data if the device decides to die or take a swim.

And, according to Dick Eastman's latest blog post on Chromebooks it looks like later this year, Chromebooks will be able to run Android apps. This is HUGE - it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the humble Chromebook.  Many of the apps we use for genealogy may be available to Chrombook users in the near future.

So if you have been considering a second computer to compliment what you already have, I suggest you take a look at a Chromebook.  

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sharing Files in Dropbox

Any of you who attended the last meeting might remember that we touched briefly on better ways to share files.  Email providers often limit the size of a file they allow you to send as an attachment. But sharing a file through a system such as Dropbox makes it easy.

Lisa Louise Cooke recently posted instructions on sharing files with Dropbox that you might want to take a look at.

Dropbox is a free, cloud-based file storage service.  Their free package gives you 2GB of storage - and there are ways to increase that for free by referring other people and signing up for things such as Gmail integration.  If you want 1TB for personal use, the cost is $8.25/month ($100/year). 

I have been using Dropbox since it launched and have been very happy with it. Please bear in mind that it is a cloud-based service, and is very secure, but not a place to store or share sensitive information. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Dog Days of Summer

Those lazy, hazy days of summer are here.  Everyone is busy with something else besides their genealogy research.  So we are ratcheting down our meetings and, in line with the summer heat, going "casual".  We will still meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays, from 1:30-3:30 at the Lake House in June, July, and August, but will not be working with any formal agenda.

If you want to join us, bring along your laptops or tablets and any questions you have or items you would like to address.  That includes tech issues you might be dealing with, like how to build and/or use a research log, or any other computer-related item you need help with.   Sometimes these casual meetings evolve into a discussion of resources and individual stories and experiences.  It's a great opportunity to find out what your fellow Diggers are up to.

We look forward to seeing you through the summer!

Denise, Linda and Lynn

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Chosen

One of the members of my family history writer's group shared this with us yesterday.  I thought it was very inspirational!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pinterest and Genealogy Research

This morning I was trying to find a word. I was writing a blog post for my new family history blog, and I needed something catchy that had to do with genealogy.  So I wandered over to Pinterest and searched for "Genealogy".  Wow!  I was rewarded with a gold mine of genealogy information, research resources, forms, templates, and a mass of genealogy miscellany.

You just never know where you will find something you need.  Nope - I didn't find that magic word I was looking for - but I found this instead.  Check it out and be amazed!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

What's New At Ancestry Academy?

There has been a bit of a hiatus in my posting.  I have been playing innkeeper, tour guide, cook, laundress, chauffeur, social director and IT troubleshooter to a house full of guests for the past 10 days.  It was stressful. But it was also wonderful to have so many family members together in one place for my husband's birthday celebration.

This post is to remind you - or if you are not already aware, make you aware - of Ancestry Academy.  In a recent blog post, talks about what's available in their education resource.  If you use for your research and haven't visited their "academy", I suggest you check it out by clicking on this link or you can access it from the "Extras" tab on the home page.

There is lots to learn about family history research, and many, many resources available.  The more you learn, the better researcher you will become.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Using Maps In Your Reseach

Amy Johnson Crow, a very reputable and well-known genealogist, recently posted about using maps for your family history research.  For those of you who have never explored how maps can broaden your research and teach you more about your ancestors, I recommend you read her recent post.

There are a vast amount of resources out there to tap! You often find the best and/or most interesting things where you least expect.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Family History Researcher Academy

Did you know that there was a Family History Researcher Academy?  Its subtitles are: Researcher Guides and Step By Step Family History.  As much as Linda, Lynn and I would love to be able to teach you everything you need to know about family history research - there is a lot to learn.  The three of us have acquired most of what we know by reading, taking courses, and wandering around the internet finding resources we can use.  It's an on-going, educational process.

Dick Eastman posted a nice piece about the 3rd anniversary of this site on his genealogy blog, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.  You may want to check this out and see what you can learn.

New Online Records

I can't emphasize enough the importance of keeping on top of what is going on in the genealogy blogosphere. As is their habit, GenealogyInTime Magazine recently posted a list of new records that are now available online.  I hope you will take a look. Who knows - you may find the path to something you have been looking for!

Mocavo Website Shuts Down

Those of you who have used Mocavo for your research may find this article interesting.  It is a reprint of a recent post in GenealogyInTime Magazine.

Mocavo Website Shuts Down

The Mocavo website has shut down. Mocavo was an ancestral search engine. It was backed by a firm based in Boulder Colorado. They launched with great fanfare in March 2011.

Mocavo started out as a free search engine. Their original platform found free genealogy records available on the internet. By the end of 2011, however, they began the switch to a subscription model. Apparently, the increase in subscription revenue was not enough to sustain the company. In May 2012 (just 14 months after launch) they received $4.1million in venture capital money to help expand their operations.

Mocavo used some of the funds to buy a small scanning company. They started scanning and putting online some unique records. In particular, they started putting online US high school yearbooks at a time when there were not many available on the internet. They also expanded to a full subscription model at around the same time.

Although Mocavo had some initial success, they were never able to gain the traction needed for a company funded by venture capital. In particular, their rankings over the years in the Top 100 Genealogy List showed that they were never able to break into the top ten (the Mocavo rankings were 2012 #45 | 2013 #25 | 2014 #28 | 2015 #20 | 2016 #32).

Mocavo was eventually purchased by FindMyPast in June 2014. Presumably they were interested in Mocavo’s search technology. FindMyPast has now decided to fold Mocavo into the FindMyPast website. This is a common approach in the genealogy industry when a large company buys out a smaller competitor. Eventually they tend to shut them down. Here is the official announcement.

We always viewed Mocavo as a bit long on promise and a bit short on delivery. When they launched in March 2011 they also claimed to be the first large scale ancestral search engine on the internet. That was not quite true. For example, we had launched our own Genealogy Search Engine in January 2011, about two months prior to Mocavo. What they had done is launch a website with some unique search technology, which has now been folded into FindMyPast.

Mocavo website

This is what the Mocavo website looked like when it first launched around 21 March 2011.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Organize Your Research

I have often said that there are as many ways to organize your research as there are genealogists.  I recently stumbled across a blog post about using Trello to organize your genealogy information.  For those of you who are looking for a super-simple, free digital tool - this one is very cool.  Linda and I have been using Trello for about a year to organize D.I.R.T. meetings and workshops.

Google also has a free tool called Google Keep.  Keep works on the same principle as Evernote and OneNote.  All are great, free researching tools, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.  I have been using Evernote for about eight years and couldn't live without its web-clipping features.  I use it to store all my internet research.

Family History Daily recently posted an article on Google Keep and how to use it for your genealogy research.  If you "Google" Evernote for Genealogy or OneNote for Genealogy you can read more information on how to use these tools to help keep your research and notes organized.

Everyone has to find what works best for them - and there are many, many tools out there to explore.  Also, these tools are very visual, and fun to use!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How To Identify Any Language At A Glance

I was recently asked about translation services for genealogy documents.  We have all been there - faced with something written in a language we don't understand and no way to figure out what it is.

In another great example of "ask and you shall receive" - The Week just published an article on how to identify a foreign language by just looking at a letter or two.

Once you know what you are dealing with - I recommend you go to Babelfish's free online translator. I know that many of you use Google Translate.  It isn't bad - per se - but Google does not do a great job of translating.  If you really want a pro turning that gobbly-gook into English, try Babelfish.

Happy translating!

New Genealogy Records Available Online along adds about 35 million records to its searchable database every month.  It pays to keep up with what is coming online.

Check out Lisa Louise Cooke's latest list of new records that became available this past week.

Friday, April 22, 2016

So traced your family tree back to Adam and Eve ...

Not a chance!

For those of you who might be thinking this is possible, I hope you will read Dick Eastman's enlightening post on this subject.

And have a great weekend!

For All You Mac Users ....

Dick Eastman recently posted an article in his newsletter about the new MacFamily Tree.  I am not a Mac user, but for any of you who are, you may want to take a look at Dick's article.

There are no perfect programs - only programs that are perfect for you and the way you work.  So if Family Tree Maker or RoosMagic 7 are not your cup of tea - and you use a Mac - you may want to explore MacFamily Tree.

If you do - we hope you let the rest of us know what you think!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

3 Tech Tools Every Genealogist Should Have, always on the look-out for better ways to research your ancestors, recently posted an article entitled, 3 Tech Tools Every Genealogist Should Have.

Their recommendations:

  • A tablet
  • Evernote
  • An external hard drive

I have replaced a tablet (which I never liked using) with a Chromebook (because it has a keyboard and a real browser).  There are now very small (10" screen) light-weight, Windows computers available for under $200.  And a MacBook Air is also reasonably small and lightweight - although a bit pricier.

At last night's workshop, I got a look at a 10" ASUS Transformer that is a fully-functioning computer that turns into a tablet.  The best of both worlds!

I have been using Evernote for a decade and own a stack of peripheral hard drives of every size imaginable. So I can attest to the value of all these recommendations.

Take a look at the article and decide for yourself!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AncestryDNA Alert

Those of you who have had your DNA tested through may want to read Judy Russell's latest blog post about changes is making to how they manage the matching system.  According to Judy, some data may be lost, and there may be a way to minimize any data loss.

If you had your DNA tested using the kit - you should take a look at Judy's blog.

A New Online Genealogy Course

I know there are a lot of you who sometimes feel overwhelmed by your family history research.  If that isn't enough, there are a vast array of resources available to us thanks to the internet.  And this resource continues to expand every day with more and more things coming online.

I recently subscribed to the Family History Daily Blog.  It's where I learned about the Digital Public Library. I also discovered a new educational resource you might find interesting.  It's called The Genealogy Journey, offering three levels of courses for your learning enjoyment.  Nope, it's not free.  But it is very reasonably priced and the courses are self-paced. If you scroll down to the bottom of the learning page, you will find a number of other courses, some of which are free.

Why should you look into this - because we get better at what we do by exploring new and interesting ways to do it!  Genealogy is the fastest growing hobby on the planet right now.  The resources available, both for researching and learning, are growing exponentially.  If you want to be a better, smarter, more efficient researcher - if you want to learn about new and interesting ways to get things done - you have to get out there and look around and take advantage of what's available.

Hope you will take a look and have some fun learning something new!

Digital Public Library of America

How to quickly find free genealogy records from hundreds of U.S. Repositories ....

The opening paragraph of the latest blog post on Family History Daily  reads:

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was an online research site that allowed you to easily search for records about your ancestors from repositories across the USA? One that linked to actual records that you could view online?
Wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if that site was completely free for anyone to use?

Such a resource does exist and it's called the Digital Public Library of America. Another great research resource is available.  All you have to do is wander around the library and see what you can find.

Hope you will take a few moments to check this out.  You just never know what you may find!

Monday, April 18, 2016

You and Albert Einstein

Does your genealogy workspace look like the photo above?  Well, take heart, you are keeping company with a genius.  This is a photo of Albert Einstein's desk, shot by a Time Magazine reporter the day he died,  sixty-one years ago today on 18 April 1955.

If you feel as if your research habits are less than organized, take a look at Lisa Louise Cooke's blogpost and the accompanying Time Magazine article.

Regardless of how it may look to others, you know where everything is - right?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Online Genealogy Courses

Following up on one of the things we talked about at our last meeting, Ellie has shared a link to a free, online genealogy course, Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree. It's a six-week course that started on 14 March, but you can still jump in if you like. It is sponsored by the University of Strathclyde Glasgow. You have just gotta love the internet! How else could a family history researcher from Charleston go to school in Scotland!

If you go to the Genealogical Studies section of Strathclyde's website, you will find even more resources you can tap. Some of the classes and resources are free, some require payment. The average paid course costs about £125 ($175 at the current exchange rate).

They have an extensive online library - a digital archive of articles and reference material - and many other things worth exploring.

It has been my experience that taking a class, attending a seminar or webinar, or listening to a lecture on genealogy always re-lights my passion for, and knowledge of, the world of genealogy.  

If you want to explore more local possibilities (although if I can access something through my computer, that's pretty local ....) check out Family Tree University's online catalog of courses.  There, you can search for courses by experience level and/or subject matter.  The courses there average about $100, but as someone who has attending a number of their classes or webinars - I can tell you - they are worth every $$$.

After our last meeting, someone asked me where/how I learned all the stuff I know about genealogy.  A lot just comes from experience.  Some comes from leads to great resources, like the one Ellie has provided us, but most of it just comes from my own curiousity.  I ask a lot of questions (Google is a very good source), I take classes online, I attend seminars and webinars, and I read.  Most of this was accomplished without ever leaving my desk.