29 August 2011
So is it time to give up on Internet research and go back to the caveman days of visiting these places in person? No. That will not work. These websites are compilations of data not easily accessible in any one physical place. As far as I know, the Genealogy Guys do not have their own public library of knowledge at any physical address which I can visit. BillionGraves is a compilation of the collection efforts of thousands of volunteers visiting cemeteries world-wide. The Baltimore County Public Library has a ProQuest portal which my library card gives me free access to. There I can get more digitized issues of the Baltimore Sun for free than I can anywhere else... okay there is an "easy" fix for that one. I could go to the Maryland Law Library in Annapolis to look at the microfilms of the paper. That is what I did before ProQuest. My point is that the Internet provides resources that not only make access easier, but provide access to data in ways that make the old way almost obsolete.
With the prevelence of researcher dependence upon the Internet along with a higher demand for records access, is it really acceptable for a website to go down for a few hours? I do not think it is. Granted, there may always be more disasters (natural or otherwise), but there are some good ways to at least alleviate the hosting problem. First, we must determine what the problem is. In the cases I am aware of the root problem was a power outage or a hosting service failure. In our day of cloud computing, with scalable hosting services, websites can maintain an online presence on servers in multiple locations. That way if one host has a server go down for any reason--including power outage--another server can pick up the slack. Then there is a question of cost effectiveness. Perhaps is should be the responsibility of cloud providers to offer back-up hosting at a price within reach of small businesses, two man teams, and public libraries. Maybe the Congress should make legislation requiring websites to have at least one back up server online which traffic would automatically be directed to in case of an outage. Some of these thoughts may seem a little extravagant, but after all we are in an age of convenience.
At least I can still go to the Facebook page for each website and ask if anyone else noticed the website failure. I did that in all three cases unless it was already explained on the Facebook page. That is a nice way to keep informed of the issues, assuming Facebook isn't down.
27 August 2011
At first I was skeptical, but soon I found several Facebook friends who were generally 10th-13th cousins. It was fun to see my relationship to several friends. I never expected I was that closely related to them. I was thinking our common ancestor was closer to the time of Adam and Eve. It was similarly exciting to see relationships to Presidents and other famous people. Most of my cousins came from the same several common ancestors from one of my New England to England lines. Most of my mothers lines are German and we had no success there. That just means I need to do more research, or I need to find more friends with German lines from my ancestral towns.
My favorite part of Relative Finder is the ability to share your new-found family instantly over Facebook. As one developer noted, people prefer to interact on Facebook in this generation. Many people feel too busy to view a collaborative tree website, but will check Facebook regularly. I have already had several friends add this app since I started using it a couple days ago. While new.FamilySearch.org is in beta only members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which is FamilySearch's sponsor, and others who have been directly invited will have access to Relative Finder. Once the service opens to the general public, the most difficult thing will be to convince people who are not already interested to link their genealogy to a FamilySearch Account. As people see their friends post cool relationships, it will motivate them to do the same. I foresee this app contributing to thousands of new genealogy enthusiasts entering our community.
26 August 2011
Mike Hengst, of Senator Ribbons' staff, sent me an update on SB 361 today. He explained why nothing has happened recently by reminding us that the Senate does not return to session until September 19th and the House not until September 26th. Mike Hengst has been working for this bill for the last decade and feels positive about the progress being made this session. He plans to meet with the executive director of the Senate Appropriations Committee next week "to make the case to list the bill soon after the Senate returns to session." Mike's attitude was positive with a parting call for action: "Just keep the letters going to the members of the Appropriations Committee – believe me it does help even if you haven’t been getting a response – folks are becoming aware of this issue here."
SB 361 is a bill that will change the way genealogy is done in Pennsylvania. Current vital records laws make genealogy research inconvenient through overly restrictive policy. For example, PA has no public vital records index.
Learn how you can help at the website for People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access - PaHR-Access.
23 August 2011
On that same trip my parents and I stopped at the Rock Creek Cemetery to find my great grandparents' grave--Clifford and Helen McCormick. We did not find them at that time because the cemetery office was closed, but I went back a couple months later after getting the section number by calling. What happened next is exemplary of other discovery experiences I've had. After parking on a cemetery road that bordered that section, I came out of my car and walked forward. The very first stone I came to was the stone of my great grandparents and the light from the sun seemed to shine down directly on that very spot during that beautiful pre-Spring day in March 2010. For several minutes I stood there and took in the calm of the day and felt thankful for my great grandparents.
22 August 2011
As any genealogist knows, there are a few experiences that one always looks back on with amazement which push that person forward in their never-ending search. For me, one of these experiences was finding my 5th great-grandfather, John Whipple.
At a young age, I became curious about my genealogy.
I was excited to look at the genealogy chart my grandparents gave to my parents. It was written by hand with various circles, lines and marks connecting what seemed like a “treasure” map.
Grandmother said that Cordelia had complications resulting from the birth of her second child, and Cordelia died soon after. This knowledge proved most useful in taking the next research step because it provided us with a death date.
The other two stories do not appear to be important, but they kept my curiosity alive. It was said that my Whipple family is related to William Whipple of the Declaration of Independence. Another rumor was that Cordelia's parents disowned her at her marriage to the poor German, Charles Ament.
Until I had some real evidence, those stories drifted around in my mind as my only perception of Cordelia's ancestors. I could never find evidence for either of those claims [except this poem] and I felt a little short changed to know so little.
I was just getting into genealogy back then. Most of my first substantial research consisted of trips to the Maryland Hall of Records or to cemeteries in Baltimore, to find my mother's ancestors. This was one of my first major efforts to research my father's side.
The Search Begins
While I was preparing to end my freshman year at college, I questioned whether I should come home for an extended break or stay there. I felt like the decision was an important one and I prayed to know what to do. No immediate answer came, but I began to feel a spiritual impression that, if I went home, the next year would be a good year for family history. The story of the Whipple research is only one example of how my family was blessed in family history as a result of my choice to spend the next several months at home. I thank my parents for their support which made it possible.
In mid-2005, the Whipple family was on my mind. With my additional experience in genealogy research, I planned to go to New York and look at the death indexes.
I wrote about the trip in my journal: "My parents, brother. . .and I are in NY. . . Today we research family. 9am, when the Rochester Library opened we went in. My mom worked in the Local History/Genealogy room while dad looked at old microfilmed Rochester papers and I used the NY State Vital Records Index."
- 22 April 2005
I still remember looking at the microfiche and seeing "Delia W. Ament, February 21, 1892." I expected to see the name Cordelia and it was under the name Cordelia that I had always previously looked for her on census records. I knew I was on to something so I ordered the death certificate and waited.
After a run of intense success, there is a time of perseverance when one simply must plug on with the work. This was the case for the next two weeks. On returning from the Washington, D.C. Temple, my parents and I found that the transcript of Cordelia Whipple's death register entry was in our mail box. I took it as a sign that putting God first brings blessings. I also believe that knowing more about our ancestors is part of God's plan. Small things witness God's hand in our lives and I can't help but be grateful.
John A. Whipple
The certificate revealed that Cordelia was born in Nelson, New York, and her father's name was, John Whipple. Armed with those facts, I was able to find “Delia Whipple” on the 1860 census in Fenner, New York--a small town nearby Nelson. For almost three months I went through several sources, corresponded with Whipple researchers and experienced even more miracles.
|Soldiers Home National Cemetery, Washington D.C.|
John died when Cordelia was only four years old and Cordelia was raised by her mother, Jane, and stepfather Francis Cary. Then when Cordelia died, eight days after her second child was born, much of her family history was not passed on.
From 3rd to 5th Great
In looking at the 1860 census, I saw Elisha Whipple lived next to John and Jane. I realized that Elisha could be John A.'s father. One of the Whipple researchers I was e-mailing shared part of a local history about the Whipple family. It misnamed Elisha as John, but all the right people were there—Elisha's son John as well as his wife Lucy Dryer.
In the local history we read that Elisha's father was John also. They were a prominent family in a small town. There was a transcription on the Internet of John Whipple and Jerusha Inman's grave stones in Fenner. Because of that among other things, I was able to pinpoint them as my 5th great-grandparents. I will always be grateful to Dan Weiskotten who took the time to transcribe and map out every little cemetery in that area. [I just realized that he died during the months that I was doing this research.] Several of my ancestors were found due to his foresight. I never would have known that my 5th great-grandparent's stones were in the middle of a corn field.
John, Where are You?
Additional Research Notes
At this time, little is known of the family and none of the compiled genealogies that include this John Whipple are able to provide good sources for his parentage. Many un-sourced online pedigrees claim his father as Nathaniel Whipple.
John Whipple came from Rhode Island1 previous to the 1810 census enumeration. On that census he lived near A. Inman, presumably a relative of his wife, Jerusha Inman.
1. 1850 United States Federal Census, microfilm or on-line database, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001 , M432. 1,009 rolls of microfilm. Available also through the FHL and on-line databases like http://www.ancestry.com/
Long story short, I looked for Blasius, and within a couple of days I had all his ancestors going two more generations back, with some lines going as many as five generations more than I previously had. There have been times in the past few years that I wondered how my research could ever be as miraculous and spiritually charged as it was in 2005. That year was amazing for my research. My concern that it never could be that good again has been continuously proven wrong. The miracles just keep coming.
21 August 2011
If you really want to solve a problem keep that family on your mind all the time. Ideas will come to you. Be willing to try new approaches and go the extra mile. It is okay to switch your focus to another line for awhile, but let your mind wonder back to your brick wall often.
There is a principle in family history work that is not generally taught, but to me it rings the most true. That principle is faith. Faith is believing in something that you can't see, but is still there. I can't see it, but sincerely feel I am going to solve all my "brick walls" someday. Faith takes action. I have to do everything within my power to find my ancestors. Faith takes patience. I have hired a professional, taken a college course on Irish genealogy, watched a few webinars, read a well known book on the subject, and done everything I learned plus some, without being able to go past my Irish 4th-great grandfather, Charles McCormick. Patience requires that I do not give up. It requires that I continue on a path of learning my whole life.
Balance is another important principle of genealogy research that seems to be more assumed than taught. I could drop all my other goals, move to Ireland and spend the rest of my life looking at all the historic records that exist. That is an unreasonable choice for me. Good genealogy research requires balance. After all, Charles McCormick is not the only ancestor who deserves my attention.
Keeping that in mind, I wholeheartedly believe in genealogy miracles. Last Monday, the 15th, one of those miracle happened. Actually, they happen all the time.
Six years ago I found the names of my 3rd-great grandfather, John Philip Ament's, parents. They were on a census record in New York. All I had to do is realize that John Philip went by Philip when he was younger. Some things seem like common sense in retrospect. If all my wisdom and research came at once I'd never be able to process it all. I'm so glad I've learned how to research over several years time. One of the census records gave me the information that the Ament family was from Hesse-Darmstadt, but I never had more than that. I took a few other lines back into Germany after taking a German genealogy course, but somehow I was still missing the key piece of information I needed on the Ament family at that time. On August 15, 2011, I found which town in Hessen, Germany that the Ament family came from. I also got one more generation back. It was actually on an Ancestry.com Member Tree with a citation of a FHL film number of the German church records from which the information came. From looking at additional compiled genealogies alone I was able to take one of the lines, from that point, back to 1525. I'll verify what I can as time allows. Simply having the town and a framework to go by is wonderful.
Here is where the miracle is more apparent. The week before, one of my elderly cousins asked if my research took the Aments back into Germany yet. At that time, I did not know the town. Good timing isn't it? These genealogy miracles just keep coming.
Their goal is to get a billion graves (or more) put online.
The most successful venture in uploading headstone photos to date is Find A Grave with 66 million graves while BillionGraves only had about 50,000 graves two months past their launch.1
Find A Grave has been around for more than a decade. What makes BillionGraves think they can surpass 66 million? I don't know what makes each person think that, but I know why I think so. I've uploaded hundreds of grave images to Find A Grave so I am prepared to compare the services. I think BillionGraves has 2 keys to success.
- Smart Phones
- Crowd-sourcing transcriptions
- Increased Speed of Photography - With the Motorola Atrix 4G smart phone I was able to photograph images more quickly than I could with either my DSLR or my 14 megapixel Kodak.
- The Phone's GPS Organizes Everything - It will put them in the correct cemetery and will GPS tag every photo's location exaclty. This feature is exciting for many reasons, such as keeping track of which headstones have been photographed already and helping descendents find the headstone should they want to visit in person. On Find A Grave you had to select which cemetery to upload your photos to after you took your camera home and transferred the photos to your computer.
- Instant Uploading - If you have a good data plan, upload images while you are taking more pictures. The phone does it for you, just set it up under the settings tab of the app. If your data plan is an issue you can simply wait until you get to WiFi, start the process, and the phone does the rest. You can even save more time by having your phone auto-delete images that have been uploaded.
Crowd-sourcing means that anyone can help with transcription. All you have to do is go to BillionGraves.com and click Transcribe. The online transcribing form is easy to use. With Find A Grave you could transcribe them yourself or... oh, that is the only option. Personally, I am good at taking lots of pictures, but I can only transcribe a little at a time. This feature lets people help how they want to. You can even choose to only transcribe or to only photograph graves. It is kind of like a FamilySearch Indexing for graves.
BillionGraves is in its infancy, but it is growing fast. This month all users who upload 1,000 or more grave images will receive a free BillionGraves t-shirt. I finished the challenge this morning. Hurry. There are only ten days left.
Which phones does BillionGraves work with? - iPhones and select Android phones
We hope to provide an expansive family history database for records and images from the world’s cemeteries—but it’s not something we can do alone. We need you to help us by collecting images from your local cemeteries and transcribing the information those headstone images provide.
Help us make family history research more accessible to everyone. Take the BillionGraves.com iPhone/Android app with you when you go to the cemetery and contribute to the grave image database. Even if you don’t have the gadgets required to collect images for BillionGraves, you can still help build the database by transcribing the images so anyone, anywhere, can find ancestors’ graves with just a few clicks of the mouse.
18 August 2011
I received a notice today about updates to the family history initiative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS]. More direction is being given to the younger generation of missionaries regarding family history and genealogy work. LDS missionaries as young as 19 are sent to locations determined by revelation through church leadership. Generally these young missionaries are known for their proselyting and service to the community. Those leaving on missions will now watch training videos which encourage them to talk about family history with those whom they share the gospel with. From 2005-2007 I served such a mission in Virginia and had the opportunity to participate in a pilot program called "The Gift of Family History." Family history enthusiasts within the LDS Church have long recognized the spiritual connections that family history helps to develop within individuals and families. Many individuals of other faiths likewise recognize a certain spirituality about family history research. Within the LDS Church I personally have learned to see the spirituality of family history from many different directions.
Family history teaches us that we are children of God.
When you start to get involved with family history, and progress backwards through the generations, your view of time changes. You begin to see that the 1800's, 1700's, 1600's... really weren't so many generations ago. You might think about how you know your parents or grandparents. They may have known their grandparents. Already from the memory of living people you may have jumped back into a world which you previously felt only existed in history books. While you are doing the hard work that it so often takes to prove your family line, you begin to feel a connection to your ancestors. When you serve people, you learn to love them. You've spent hours trying to find an ancestor so that they are not forgotten and somehow remembering them makes you feel as though your time on earth is more worthwhile. These feelings are not mistakes, they are not coincidences. God, our Father in Heaven, has set in motion a plan by which all his children can be remembered. In the Bible we read: "And he shall aturn the bheart of the cfathers to the dchildren, and the heart of the echildren to their fathers..." Malachi 4:6. Christianity is about love, Christianity is about service, Christianity is about family, Christianity is about eternity. Those who have gone on before us are just as real as we are.
I know that I have felt the blessings of family history in my life. Heavenly Father wants us to know we are his children and a Christ-centered effort to document our relationships going back to the time of our ancient forebears is all about that. I believe when we get to the other side we will have opportunities to complete our family pedigree charts all the way back to our Father in Heaven, but in the mean time it is the current of spirituality in the work of family history that makes the sometimes difficult work worthwhile.
When I went to footnote.com, I saw that it has been given a face-lift and a new name. The new name, fold3, is meant to represent a greater emphasis and honor for those who served in the military.
Many genealogy blogs have recently highlighted the War of 1812 pension project between FGS and footnote. It truly is exciting to see them taking on such large digitization projects!
I was shocked to see the changes in design for fold3, but I feel like the new design does honor the military emphasis.
Though I am pleased with the military emphasis in general, I feel it would be better as a temporary revamp of the site, or as a new dedicated section (a military tab).
In my view, there are two priceless things about footnote.com--the unique image viewer and the amount of unique record groups. Any major player can upload new record groups, so the interface is really what set footnote apart the most.
All image viewing sites which show readable images should implement the footnote viewer. The in-viewer navigation, search, and annotation are some of my favorite features.
Some of my favorite record groups are the city directories. I love being able to search for any word on the page. Searching by address has helped me find connections to relatives I previously missed. Some people moved several times between census years.
Comments on the footnote / fold3 blog indicate more disappointment than excitement.
Many individuals have expressed online that footnote's making a change like this, without informing their subscribers beforehand, is bad business practice. At the same time, I think it is important to step back and try to distance yourself from the initial rush of emotional dissatisfaction. Anyone who really feels hurt can cancel, but such a decision may be shortsighted. The former footnote.com's record collections remain intact. It is true that users will no longer be able to look toward footnote to add more amazing records about non-military topics, but this is only a first step in major changes to come. Rather than being pessimistic and assuming all changes will be bad changes, think optimistically of where this could go. Ancestry.com may eventually adopt the browsing and image viewer interface of fold3. There is nothing to indicate this will occur, but if Ancestry did this, we would still be able to view new record collections in all their "footnote" glory--simply under a new name.
To me it is worth the price to support their military digitization, if nothing else.
15 August 2011
- 20 March 2011 - Enduring Legacy Genealogy: FamilySearch Family Tree Leak!
- 27 January 2011 - GeneaBloggers: PA Vital Records - Your Help is Needed
- 20 January 2011 - Have You Seen My Roots?: Follow Friday - PaHR-Access & Enduring Legacy Genealogy
- 18 Aug 2011 - Footnote.com becomes Fold3 - my post
- 17 Aug 2011 - 1940 Census will be Free on Ancestry.com in 2012 - their press release
- 16 Aug 2011 - Lingotek Enables FamilySearch Members to Translate Historical Documents - their press release
- 14 Aug 2011 - The Genealogy Guys Podcast: Episode 224
- 14 Aug 2011 - The Ancestry Insider: Coming Soon to a FamilySearch.org Near You
- 11 Aug 2011 - Genealogy Gems Podcast YouTube Channel: Interviews with Genealogy Experts
- 9 Aug 2011 - Enduring Legacy Genealogy introduces a new blogging topic: "Inspirational"
- 7 Aug 2011 - Genea-Musings: Best of the Genea-Blogs - 31 July to 6 August 2011
14 August 2011
(1) my favorite genealogy blog posts with a short review,
(2) fun genealogy stuff I find online,
(3) posts that highlight my genealogy blog, and
(4) my most popular posts ever.
Randy Seaver's weekly "Best of the Genea-Blogs" posts at Genea-Musings inspired me to start this section of my blog. In the past I have made an effort to "tweet" links to my favorite blog posts. Those tweets seem well received and I plan to keep that up. You can follow me @EnduringLegacy. At the same time, I find that it is hard to go back and find links to some of the posts that have impacted me the most over the years. Sometimes it is hard to remember why a certain post impacted me. Highlighting such posts here will give me some room for reflection. Besides blog posts, I may share anything I found interesting in the genealogy world. Often I find something fun to share that does not require an entire post of its own. The highlights are listed by date of review.
My 2nd-great grandfather, Thomas Schilling, was on my mind after church today. He is my only 2nd-great grandparent whose parents are unknown. That is still the case after more than a decade of searching. I decided to say a prayer and start looking online. My main goal is proving who his parents are or finding a picture of him, but I have learned to find joy in every record found for an elusive ancestor.
After a few minutes of googling his name, I felt like I needed to go to FamilySearch.org and check for Maryland records that have been added since my last visit. I found a collection of Baltimore City probate records that had just been updated on 22 July 2011. I've been to the Maryland State Archives, where these records can be found, many times. The problem is that I always have so many records to look up when I'm there. I'm definitely thankful for the digitizing work of FamilySearch. Below I will include some screen shots from today's visit to FamilySearch.org.
I started looking at the list of Baltimore City probate records and when I picked a probate book to look at I was told to sign in. Though FamilySearch has allowed signed-in users to see more records than guests for some time, this is the first time I noticed the phrase "Sign in to view this image." There was a point that if you didn't know the value of signing-in that you simply would think there was no image available. I'm glad those days are gone.
Because this collection is not indexed by FamilySearch I had to go page by page, but it is okay. It was just like using the book index at the archive or courthouse. The only difference was that waiting for each page to load takes more patience than turning a page or cranking a microfilm. If you take note of the time on my task bar, you will see it took me quite some time. The good news is that, after feeling like giving up, I did find my ancestor Thomas Schilling.
This record hasn't answered my main question about Thomas, but it does lead me to a few other probate records such as his inventory. It is always interesting to see what goods an ancestor had and the value of each item. That is for another day.
There are three things I got out of this experience.
- Follow your inner call
- Find joy in every record found and
- Remember to Check FamilySearch... Again
09 August 2011
22 August, Update:
This article has been edited for better blog viewing and can be seen at this post:
Finding My 5th-Great Grandfather
07 August 2011
Michael W. McCormick.
The reviews herein are my intellectual property.
Posts may contain data derived from relevant articles and include quotes from individuals. If such is the case it will be explained in each post respectively by notation and, where deemed useful, hyperlink.
No compensation (neither money nor goods) has been received for expressing opinions on any product or service. Should that change in the future, specific disclosure will be provided here with mention in each post in which it applies.
Geneabloggers: Why is there a disclosure?
05 August 2011
Enduring Legacy Genealogy began in 2007, offering professional research services. My goal was to help more people with their family history and gain experience. Both were a success. I specialized in "Internet genealogy and local research in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. (Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.)" In 2010 the mission of Enduring Legacy Genealogy was altered to better reflect my changing goals as a genealogist.
Enduring Legacy Genealogy's mission is to help others experience family history success. This will be accomplished by working with organizations, reaching out to individuals, participating in volunteer work, and staying well informed of related opportunities.
Credentials and Experience
- Researching since 1999
- Volunteering since 2004
- Professional since 2007
- Association of Professional Genealogists Member
- History - Bachelor of Science, BYU-Idaho (December 2011)
- Genealogy - 29 credits, Brigham Young University (GPA 3.55)
- Communications - Cluster, BYU-Idaho (GPA 3.6)
- Phi Alpha Theta
- Extracurricular Volunteerism, BYU-Idaho: Student Ambassador, Get Connected (new student orientation), Student Representative Council, Pathway Mentor, and Student Support Recruitment Representative
- Family History Consultant, LDS* (2004, 2008-current)
- FindAGrave Contributor* (since 2005)
- Ancestry.com Contributor* (since 2005)
- "Gift of Family History," Virginia Richmond Mission (2005-2007)
- Assistant Stake Indexing Leader, LDS* (2008)
- President of BYU Family History Society (2008)
- Social Media Specialist, PaHR-Access* (since 2009)
- Genealogy Blogger* (since 2009)
- USGenWeb Archives Cemetery Photographer* (2009)
- BillionGraves Contributor* (since 2011)
- BYU-Idaho Family History Center Volunteer (2011)
- BYU-Idaho Family History Center Web Presence Specialist* (2011)
- FamilySearch Indexing Arbitrator* (2011)
The title Assistant Stake Indexing Leader is more commonly called an Assistant Stake Indexing Director.
Includes recommendations by clients, professors, team members, and supervisors.
For a list of volunteer opportunities I recommend check out this blog post:
One of my favorite volunteer efforts is cemetery photography.
Sometimes my family has helped me with taking the pictures.
Here is a sample of our work:
BillionGraves.com Cemeteries Photographed
Idaville United Methodist Cemetery Idaville, Adams Co., PA
Mt. Olivet Cemetery Latimore, Adams Co., PA
Lower Bermudian Lutheran Cemetery* Latimore, Adams Co., PA
Sunny Side Cemetery* York Springs, Adams Co., PA
*Cemeteries listed were photographed completely except those marked with an asterisk. At least 100 graves were photographed for these marked cemeteries.
Find A Grave Contributions
My FindAGrave.com Contributor Profile
Records Provided in Partnership with US GenWeb Archives
Bott's (Wolf's St. Paul's Church) Cemetery West Manchester, York Co., PA
Presbyterian Church Cemetery York Springs, Adams Co., PA
Lutheran Church (Holy Trinity) Cemetery York Springs, Adams Co., PA
Christ Church Episcopal Cemetery York Springs, Adams Co., PA
Christ Lutheran Church Yard York,York Co., PA
Episcopal (Old White) Cemetery Huntington, Adams Co., PA
Rock Chapel Methodist Cemetery Huntington, Adams Co., PA
Zion Lutheran (now owned by Christ Lutheran) Cemetery York, York Co., PA
Bethlehem United Brethren Cemetery Butler Twp., Adams Co., PA
Grace Bible Chapel (Old Trostle Meetinghouse) Huntington, Adams Co., PA
Alice Deal Junior High Class of 1935
After dragging and dropping the scans, Microsoft I.C.E. fit them together perfectly within a few short minutes. The only thing I had to do afterward was straighten the image and trim the boarders. I used other free software for that: Picasa and Microsoft Paint. Then, if it is over 15 MB after the final edits, I run my picture through FastStone Photo Resizer to get it down to the size accepted by most online image hosts. One warning, to edit large files in Microsoft Paint you may need 6GB RAM. It uses a lot for some reason.
With this software you no longer need to wonder how to share your large image files. I look forward to seeing how you use it.
04 August 2011
"HARVARD CLASS OF 1906
50th REUNION DILLON FIELD HOUSE
JUNE 13th 1956"
- Uploaded Image to one of my Ancestry.com Member Trees
- Clicked the image to open it in a new window and copied the URL
- Pasted the URL at Zoom.it and waited for conversion
- Pasted the provided embed HTML in this blog post
What I learned:
- JPEGs for upload, save a TIFF version with your genealogy backups.
- Use GIMP for free to manually combine multiple scan images and/or edit your photos
- Stick to 15 MB or less for JPEGs
- 4 GB RAM needed for combining multiple scan photos
- Scan at 600 dpi (less is inferior and more is unwieldy)
If you have any large images you'd like to see online, please try Zoom.it for yourself. Then comment here and let me know what works for you. (e.g. image hosts, editing software, & techniques) You can even leave a link to your Zoom.it image.
Listed below are volunteer opportunities that are available to everyone. Many of these opportunities can be completed from anywhere with Internet access. In some volunteer categories, the opportunities are much too plentiful to list them all. In the social media category, I provide links to the FamilySearch websites.
Volunteer in Your Community
- Talk genealogy on Social Media (FamilySearch Social Media links)
- Write a Blog (GeneaBloggers community)
- Help with a Wiki (FamilySearch Records Wiki Project)
- Help answer questions on forums (Try FamilySearch's forums)
- Beta test new technologies
- - FamilySearch Labs, BillionGraves Uploader, Family Village, etc.
- Provide Feedback whenever you have a good idea
03 August 2011
FindAGrave.com is a mature giant.
Interment.net is a valiant pioneer.
US GenWeb Archives Tombstone Project shows the strength of a passionate community.
US GenWeb Archives Tombstone Project shows the strength of a passionate community.
The project varies greatly from one state to the next and from one county to the next because each such jurisdiction is designed to be run by a different volunteer. Photographs are generally submitted to the volunteer in charge of that jurisdiction who uploads and transcribes them. This puts an undue burden on each area's volunteer. When smaller amounts of photographs were coming in this burden felt manageable. Since the Tombstone Project began in 1997, the number of people submitting tombstone photos to the internet has increased sharply. Submitting them to someone else to do the transcription and uploading is especially desirable if you happen to have photographed an entire cemetery. In 2009, I photographed ten cemeteries for the US GenWeb Archive. After the county volunteer processed those first ten cemeteries, and I realized the burden it placed on her, I looked elsewhere for my future cemetery photography efforts.
Interment.net is a valiant pioneer.
Also begun in 1997, Interment.net appears to be the first website run by a small group of individuals--2 people in this case--accepting tombstone data for open publishing online. Though the website claims initial popularity and is still available to this day, one major drawback of Interment.net is its failure to host headstone photographs. Nevertheless, because it is a separately generated and maintained database it may still be worth checking. While it was an important pioneer in its day, I choose not to invest my volunteer efforts into this database.
FindAGrave.com is a mature giant.
Since 2000, when today's Find A Grave website went online, the site has become home to over 65 million individual grave records. FindAGrave.com has many perks which helped lead to its position as the most well known online headstone host. Find A Grave's most notable unique feature is the ability to request a photograph of a specific grave marker. Since 2005 I have been a member of Find A Grave, but it was not until this year (2011) that I took it as a serious volunteer opportunity. In a matter of a few months I uploaded over 500 photos and added more than 300 individual records. I made sure there were records for all my direct ancestors whose place of burial I could determine, and I added many of the records from the ten cemeteries I photographed for US GenWeb Archive. On Find A Grave you can add records without photographs, you can add as many records or photographs as your heart desires without waiting for someone else to upload your work. You can link individuals in family relationships, organize individuals into files called "virtual cemeteries," request edits on records managed by other individuals, etc. You are in control.
BillionGraves.com, along with their geo-tagging smartphone app, is a promising start up.
There are two major things, in my estimation, that set BillionGraves apart from Find A Grave. First, pictures are geo-coded for you and, second, you can either photograph or transcribe (you don't have to do both). This cuts down the volunteer time required from those who want to help. BillionGraves.com relies heavily on crowd-sourcing. The cool thing is you can easily make a big difference in just a few minutes with almost no preparation. If you happen to be traveling and feel like taking a refreshing walk outside, pull out your smartphone, and within minutes you can upload several photos of headstones directly to the site. You don't have to file them into the correct cemetery unless you found a cemetery that hasn't been added to the database yet, in which case you can easily add the name. GPS tagging does the organizational work for you. Don't worry about transcription. You can always do that on a rainy day. I just came up for an upgrade on my cell phone plan and the single biggest reason I decided to get a smartphone was so that I can use the geo-tagging feature of BillionGraves.com's new Android app.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons, sent a 2-person FamilySearch team to Somerset County, Maryland last year to digitize the records of the Register of Wills office. Some of the Register of Will office's documents were copied to Annapolis previously, but the copying was incomplete. The cost to digitize the records of their office was estimated to run into the tens of thousands. In about four months, last summer, the FamilySearch team digitized the holdings of the entire office from the earliest records in the 1600's to 1940. Currently the digitized work is being organized and indexed according to Miller. "The Mormon work should come back to me this time next summer," Miller said.
Help index records for FamilySearch @ https://familysearch.org/volunteer/indexing
Other than the usual digitizing and indexing FamilySearch provides at no cost Miller was impressed that "the group working in Salt Lake City is taking every document and linking it to relevant documents whenever they could. Some papers that seem to have been lost or misplaced from files or cases, or appear obscure, will be associated with a number that corresponds with a will."
He was so impressed with the team's work that he recommended it to the rest of his state:
"Hopefully, in due time, the Mormons will do every office in Maryland."
As for the benefit to his office and those who come searching for data Miller said:
"This is good for the public because the next step is to provide public access to every document that this office had (prior to 1940). The original documents were so fragile I wouldn't let the public handle them. Soon they will be able to see stuff they once couldn't have."
"We are going to incorporate all of the images and index information they are sending us and put them [in] our system so you can sit down at the public computer here and pull up every document we have up to 1940."
01 August 2011
Genealogically relevant data is being posted online at an intense rate. New technology expands crowd-sourcing techniques, smartphones allow instant uploads of records with GPS tags, advanced cameras can convert all types of media into digital format in less time than ever before, and "the cloud" provides flexible data storage options for all that new information. Throughout this technology boom several different companies and organizations have recognized the opportunity to provide better genealogy services.
Genealogy techies like me no longer ask, "Will the records I need ever be within my reach?" Now we are more concerned with, "Do I have to spend hours looking at different websites? Why can't I see everything I want in one place?"
For those not familiar with technology this question may seem deceptively simple. With several different companies and organizations involved it is unrealistic to believe there will ever be one website onto which all genealogy data will go. Such effort toward a genealogical monopoly is not only overwhelming administratively, but would harm the entrepreneurial creative spirit. It is also difficult to imagine the look of a website on which all the historically and genealogically relevant data about an individual could be put in one place. There is simply too much data.
Many online family tree services allow images to be uploaded to the user's tree. For example, if I take a headstone picture and upload it on FindAGrave.com I can also upload it separately to my tree on Ancestry.com. Every time I upload a file to another website it is duplicating the file's web presence--in hopes to increase the odds it will be seen--but with the new concept being worked on at FamilySearch uploading on multiple sites becomes unnecessary. Using what is called a Person Identifier, any data about your ancestor can be linked to the Family Tree. During this year's OSCON, Gordon Clark of FamilySearch explained his company's vision regarding the FamilySearch Family Tree and the way it will become "universal."
"You link to the data... A good way to look at that is when in geo-mapping the anchor is a longitude and latitude... we want to have a clear understanding of who this person is, where they are in time, and who their parents and who their children are. Then that person--our person ID which we hope will be universal someday--then all the richness of the material on the web which has been digitized can be linked to our person in our master tree."
This vision of a universally linked tree allows FamilySearch to avoid duplication in technology development and use of resources. FamilySearch's position as the largest genealogy organization in the world came about through their focus on volunteerism, free data access, and efficiency. To an audience of software developers at OSCON, Clark said, "Web services is what we're all about... what we're all about is the building up of the data and the sharing of the data so there can be lots of innovative applications..."
FamilySearch's data is built upon a platform so they have API's (Application Program Interface) for app developers to use which enable users to interact with FamilySearch data from within 3rd-party apps. Clark explained the purpose of FamilySearch API's:
"...to generate more clients, more innovation--in how you access the data that we have."
Suggested uses of the FamilySearch API included
- Mobile applications that search FamilySearch
- Applications that consider the audience, including:
- culturally oriented applications
- applications that consider age of user
- applications that consider computer skill of user
With FamilySearch's long-term vision, flexibility, and encouragement of innovation family history lovers can expect many new tools and resources to advance their work.