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.