26 October 2009

FamilySearch Labs

For some time I have had a link to FamilySearch Labs Blog listed on the side of my blog as one of my other favorite genealogy blogs.

I have not made an effort to duplicate all the announcements from these other good blogs and I recommend you subscribe to them. I was surprised when recently I was informed of a new service in beta by FamilySearch that was not detailed on their Labs Blog. Generally, all of their beta or pilot projects are discussed there. Goes to show they just keep on going even if we do not get the news updates. It is comforting to know that such an influential genealogy organization is moving forward with so many projects.

The project I speak of is Community Trees. Check it out: http://histfam.familysearch.org/

I can't wait until all of their tools are brought together into their home page:

UPDATE: The FamilySearch Labs Blog stopped being updated on 14 Apr 2010, but the projects discussed on the FamilySearch.org Labs site continue to show FamilySearch's efforts to improve user experience.
"tools are brought together" on FamilySearch.org in January 2011. See my blog post about it.

FamilySearch Indexing Upgrade

There is always so much exciting news going on in the world of genealogy. Today I became aware of some upgrades to the FamilySearchIndexing.org program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Many genealogical websites offer the opportunity to volunteer your time to help others find their ancestors more easily. This effort consists of reading images of original records like census and vital records so you can type what you see on them.
The typed 'index' can then be searched by researchers.

Recently a few changes were made to make the process more user friendly.
Look closely. There is a hint of many more projects to come.
See details here: https://fch.ldschurch.org/fsinformation/Messages/en/FSI_New_Features-Oct_2009.pdf

20 October 2009

Cemetery Transcription/Images Added

Christ Church Episcopal
Colonial English Parish
Founded 1746

York Springs,
Adams County, Pennsylvania
Created October 20, 2009

All photos taken June 17, 2009 and
contributed by Michael W. McCormick
View text transcription of this cemetery

Tombstone Images
Maria Caroline
Charles G.
Juliet M. Hamersly

For additional information on this cemetery, please contact
Ye Olde Sulphur Spa Historical Society
Adams County PA USGenWeb Archives - Tombstone Photos
Adams County PA USGenWeb Archives - Index
USGenWeb Archives - Pennsylvania
Created for use in the USGenWeb Archives by
Kathy Francis © 2009

16 October 2009

Cemetery Photography Project Continues

Cemeteries are a favorite place for many genealogists. We love to find out about those who have gone before us, though we often tire of being in front of a microfilm reader or computer screen for hours on end.
A walk in the cemetery is just the kind of break a passionate genealogist needs.
For those of you who don't know Enduring Legacy Genealogy has been partnering with the USGenWeb Archive to photograph local cemeteries.
As of this article we have published three full cemeteries on the Internet. The most recent are:
Even if you do not have ancestors in these areas you may find it interesting to look through these. ELG is accepting volunteers to help with the process of photographing cemeteries. No matter where you are, we challenge you to take a walk, take your camera with you and when you are done feel free to e-mail them to us to have uploaded to the Internet. If you are the one who took the photograph your name will be included as contributor on the Internet when the photos are uploaded.
We thank our first contributors to this project who helped with the York Springs Lutheran Cemetery.

05 October 2009

How to Find Living Relatives

Planning a reunion? Don't know how to find those cousins who moved accross the country a few generations back? Learn how to find just about anyone.

Years ago one of my many favorite genealogy sites was ZabaSearch.com
Everyone needs a little more zaba. I was there when it was new. I was there when it was no longer available for free and now I'm back when I see that I can get good stuff for free again. When it wasn't so free I began turning back to other sites.

Over the years I have come to love Intelius.com because without paying you can see relatives of most living people (their immediate family who have lived at the same address.) Intelius will list the ages for free too which you can calculate approximate birth years from. (You have to search for each name individually to find a person's age.) ZabaSearch will give a persons birth year and sometimes month next to their name for free too. There once was a very good website where you could get almost anyone's birth date who was living or recently passed. I forget the URL because I was also there when it closed. There is a site BirthDatabase.com that tries to do the same, but in my opinion is no better than the two search websites I just discussed.

For those of us who are really into the web wouldn't it be nice to be able to find living relatives' profiles on Facebook, Twitter or MySpace by searching one simple site? I thought so. Then one day I saw an ad on Ancestry.com for MyLife.com which promised just that. It works better for that purpose than any other site I know about, but it has a long way to go. I use a combination of these and a few others in this order of usefulness:
  1. ZabaSearch

  2. Intelius

  3. Facebook

  4. Ancestry

  5. MyLife

So you know what websites to use, but how do you use them. Let me use an example. One of my many genealogy goals I set awhile back was to contact and keep in touch with all the descendants of my 3rd-great grandfather Samuel McCormick. Because my great grandparents had some interest in keeping in touch with their family I had the names of many of Samuel's descendants within a couple generations of him. It cut off around 1900 on most lines though. I filled in gaps by tracing them forward on the census (to 1930). I gathered all the Social Security Death Index records I could, as well as other records that can be found on Ancestry. Then phonebooks and directories come in. Often a person who was a child on the 1930 Census will be an adult on the directories of the 1980's-2000's on Ancestry. If the person's age and location are nearly the same you can judge you have found the right person. Often the phone numbers on these records are out dated (it doesn't hurt to check.) If they don't work that is when you look on the other sites like Intelius.com to get a more updated number. ZabaSearch often gives you many of the older listings for people too which is good for tracking moves, but you may find yourself trying ten numbers before you get to the right person. It is so worth it when you get back in touch though. Then on these sites you often can find the younger generation between 20's-60's in age who may potentially use Facebook. Search for all of their names on there and you have instant e-mail connectivity as well as an easy way to share pedigrees and photos.

Happy hunting, cousin!