02 December 2012

Thoughts on unwieldy offline personal genealogy databases and online trees

Disclaimer: This blog post consists of a few thoughts about large unwieldy databases, the benefits of online trees, and managing it all. It is not meant to teach the right way, but to share some general feelings of my own.

As I was going through some older messages which I never answered on my Ancestry.com account, I came across one message that asked why a name was missing from one family group on one of my Ancestry.com family trees.
  • "I notice that you have not included ____ as a child of this couple (see 1860 Census). Is there a reason?
I'm sure this response I sent was  little more than they bargained for.

  • "Sorry for taking so long to reply. I'm catching up on a few older messages. I really appreciate all the work you do on the genealogy.

    There is no reason. Although my trees might give the impression that they are thorough because I add sources and photos, they really aren't anywhere near complete. I don't really have a complete file anywhere. It is more like a bunch of trees in progress. Thanks for pointing out ____. When people like you point out things it sometimes gives me motivation to do a little work on a certain family and sometimes leads to fun discoveries.

    I usually try to make sure I get data I have typed into FamilySearch Family Tree little by little and in the process I sometimes learn new things. Back when I started I began to put everything in PAF. I know there are syncing programs that work with online and offline. I have used Ancestral Quest 12 and RootsMagic with new.FamilySearch. Most recently I have considered getting Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 and using my Ancestry.com McCormick Family Tree as a starting point to pull all my research of interest back into one master tree. That is another project though so I am putting it off currently. My old PAF/Ancestral Quest and RootsMagic files are so huge with so many thousands of people that are only in there because of the times I imported whole files from RootsWeb.com... Cleaning those up isn't even something I want to do because of how out of hand they are.

    I know you didn't ask for this big of a reply. Thanks for humoring me.

18 November 2012

Amend Process of Elimination

a different duo - John Philip with his son Charles P. Ament
Two weeks after Exploring my German Roots: Amend/Ament

On November 1st, All Saints' Day, I toured the hometown of my immigrant ancestors--son and father duo--John Philip Ament and Johann Georg Amend (also Ament, Amendt, Am Endt). They arrived in the USA between 1835 and 1840. Using online records and the microfilms I had already confirmed this line two additional generations: Johannes Amend b.1771 and Johannes Amend b.unknown.

In my previous Amend blog post I mentioned "almost 70 Amend records." I had copied every Amend seen in the index for the earliest two volumes. Unfortunately, the Amend records stopped in the 1660s due to an early church fire in which all the records were burned. 

On Saturday, I had been doing some FamilySearch Indexing. I called home as I usually do, and my mom suggested I review the Amend records. After our call, I went to work at it. I draft printed the 69 pages for easier review.

First, I identified the two family groups already in my family tree. Because I only copied the records from the 2 oldest printed volumes these included the first 3 siblings of Johann Georg Amend and the next family group--children of Johannes Amend and Catharina Elisabetha Kröckin. I wrote the FamilySearch person ID next to each name (ex.LCZ4-6QC). 

Second, I placed the remaining records in piles by decade. A pile for the 1700s, the 1710s, and so on through the 1760s (later records were already set aside in the known family groups). I also had one pile for the century of the 1600s because there were fewer in that century. Next, I took each pile by decade and put it in reverse chronological order from the most recent year backward. 

Third, I began my search for Johannes Amend b.unknown. Based on my online and microfilm research, I knew there were at least 2 who could possibly be him. Once things were organized and I could be sure I had all the available records in front of me, I could use elimination to determine which Amend line was mine. I soon had identified the only 2 Johannes Amends who were born at a time where their age would allow them to be my ancestor. 

One in 1742 and the other in 1719. The one who was born in 1719 had a marriage--and bore children up until about the time that my Johannes Amend and Catharina Elisabetha Kröckin begin to have children. I knew that it was common enough for a man to have children with another wife after the first wife passed on. I still needed to find a way to eliminate one of the Johannes Amends. A death record for either would do the job. In my rush to copy all the records from the printed books in Heuchelheim, I ended up with only 3 Amend death records, and no marriages. Perhaps the index was split into sections. I wasn't stuck yet. FamilySearch volunteers had extracted many of the Heuchelheim church records onto FamilySearch.org. I soon found a Johannes Amend who died in 1784, born about 1719. This proved that the 1719 Johannes was not mine. My Johannes had his last children in 1787. This left only the Johannes born in 1742 as a possible match.

I used a similar process of elimination to take my line further back 3 additional generations. It was easier at that point. Johannes' 1742 baptism listed his father as Lorentz. There was only one baptism of a Lorentz that could have been him. His baptism listed his father as Stophel. There was only one Stophel--Johann Christoffel--in the baptism records. When looking at marriages and deaths on FamilySearch, it only confirmed that there was one Stophel in Heuchelheim. I found his death, and the death of his wife. I also found the deaths of two of his children. Johann Christoffel's baptism was in 1674 and listed his father as Lorentz. Because of the church fire, I can not get Lorentz' baptism record. When entering him into the FamilySearch Family Tree, it took the line further back 3 more generations past Lorentz. 

I realize this can all get confusing. Here is my verified Amend line:

Click a name to see it in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree

Johann Philip Ament b.1835
Johann Georg Amend b.1802
Johannes Amend b.1771
Johannes Amend b.1742
Johann Lorentz Amend b.1717 
Stophel Amend b.1674
Lorentz Amend b.unknown

To see the additional 3 generations which I do not have sources for, please click Lorentz and navigate the FamilySearch Family Tree.

08 November 2012

The National Archives of Ireland's free genealogy website by FamilySearch

 Recently a couple of my favorite blogs, including Genealogy Insider, posted about a new genealogy site provided by The National Archives of Ireland.

I have a couple elusive Irish ancestors of my own so I headed over to the site for a test ride. There is not enough material at this time to solve my mysteries, but the material is ground-breaking nonetheless. The 1901, and 1911 Irish census, are available alongside the tithe applotment books, and soldier's wills 1914-1917. Although some of these records were available elsewhere online, there are two benefits for the researcher.
  1. the records are free
  2. they include images of the original documents
 The most exciting thing for me was something not mentioned in the posts I read. When going to the page for tithe applotment books I noticed the following in bold, near the bottom of the page:

"The Tithe Applotment Books are the first in a series of National Archives records of genealogical interest to be digitised by the Genealogical Society of Utah in partnership with the National Archives, and placed online free to access. Others will follow over the coming years; the next will be the Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1858 - 1922."

For those of you who do not know, the Genealogical Society of Utah is FamilySearch which is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm excited the most about this partnership because I see this as one step by FamilySearch in making records freely available to everyone. A process that continues to hasten as new partnerships are secured. We all benefit, especially the archives who long to preserve and make available their precious holdings.

01 November 2012

Exploring my German Roots: Amend/Ament

One year ago today I experienced an Amendt Genealogy Miracle

Earlier, on August 15, 2011, I found which town in Hessen, Germany that the Ament family came from.*

Today I visited that town--Heuchelheim, Gießen, Hessen--and visited the church where my family attended 200 years ago.

In the past year, I've been incredibly blessed to start a career in which I travel to Germany for business. My job itself is in the genealogy field and my boss loves this stuff. He gladly gave me some tips on how to use my days off wisely. Today is a German holiday, and so it is a day off. His niece niece's family is learning English and invited me to speak with them over dinner. My boss suggested that they spend the day with me in Heuchelheim. His niece stayed home to prepare while her husband and daughters gladly gave me a ride. The daughters are taking English in school and they did a very good job of translating for me. 

We walked the town cemetery and photographed two Amend headstones which they spotted for me. Then we went to Martins Lutheran church (Evangelische Martinskirche). We walked around the church and into the church yard, looking for any old headstones or a date of construction for the church. We didn't find what I expected, but much more: After we were about to leave, we happened to walk by a glass wall of the church's addition right when a maintenance person was walking on the inside. In a moment, she opened the door and was talking with all three of my wonderful hosts. They explained to her why I was there, and we were invited to go inside. I took pictures and enjoyed the feeling of walking in my ancestors' footsteps. We then went to the office and were directed to a beautiful set of professionally bound church book transcriptions. The teenage girls did more than practice their English, they were enjoying the entire trip. One later indicated that she had never done anything like it and was more interested in her own family history than before. Here, they referenced the index at the back of the books and turned to each Amend entry so I could quickly photograph the page with my cellphone. I ended up with almost 70 Amend records. While the originals are generally kept back for better preservation, they allowed me to look at one of the old volumes. The entire experience was as if doors were being opened before me in a hallway that I didn't know existed.

New Jersey vital records online access under discussion

People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access (PaHR-Access) posted the following announcement on their Facebook page today:

Our FamilySearch source stated the following: "We have begun discussing a cooperative project with the New Jersey state archives. This would include vital and state censuses and other records. They have a concern with revenue and we are trying to find a good solution to help them. Ancestry is also very interested. - This is a complex issue and we are trying to find a model that meets our respective mandate. I have confidence we will find the right model eventually. The archives is open and is an eager participant in our discussions."
Click here to see the post as it appears on Facebook.

Enduring Legacy Genealogy continues to support records access for genealogists. If you become aware of any records access discussions or action points please share. I will be glad to help spread the word.

19 October 2012

FamilySearch for Archives - No more budget problems for your archive?

FamilySearch offers their more than 100 years of records preservation and access expertise to archives worldwide--for free.

© 2012 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
With the budget cuts in state and national budgets necessitated by these hard economic times, there are many archives nearly forced to shut their doors. A most recent example is that of the Georgia state archives.

FamilySearch is working hard to let all archives know that they are available and willing to help. The primary purposes of any archive are records preservation and access. With funds being cut so low in some places, both are threatened.

Any archive who is willing to consult with FamilySearch is being offered free help in any or all of the following:
  • Image Capture
  • Digital Conversion of Microfilm
  • Indexing
  • Access 
  • Preservation
In return, FamilySearch would like to keep a copy of the records to preserve indefinitely at no cost. They would also like to make it available for free on FamilySearch.org. For organizations who want to restrict records access to a specific group, or location, they are happy to create a customized contract. It sounds too good to be true, but as a result of earlier partnerships billions of historic records are already on FamilySearch.org.

To learn more, simply go to FamilySearch.org and click on the Archivists link in the RESOURCES section on the bottom of the page.

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at FamilySearch.org or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

18 October 2012

The heartwrenching Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland

In 2005 we walked into the cemetery which just recently had been bought by new owners after many years of overgrowth and see the typical sunken graves with their toppled stones clothed in foliage.


I recall seeing some piles of stones bulldozed aside at the time, but back then I did not have the confidence to speak up. I feel bad that I have not done more, sooner. I also regret not getting more pictures than what I have. Sadly, this same process has continued all the way into the present and there are no signs that it will stop.

In a day and age when a Facebook petition can end a story telling stroll through a local cemetery, it is sad that this unethical, disgusting, bulldozing treatment of our ancestors final resting places on O'Donnell Street can go by with only a faint cry--with no definitive action and nothing has changed.

Several people have voiced their disdain for the treatment of this once majestic cemetery.

It is remarkable that even a paranormal activity group has begun to speak up online regarding the terrible condition and care of the cemetery. The slideshow is rather long. Minute 5:00 and 5:50 showcase some of the piles of rubble commonly seen.

If this doesn't work, try the link: http://youtu.be/wtzYkCzNauM

The Paranormal Research and Investigation Society who produced this film has some insightful comments one the YouTube page with this video, which includes the following:
"Maryland's Department of Corrections brought prison trustees out to help clean some of the cemetery. But this place is an utter disgrace. As new burials are accepted, odler sections are bulldozed haphazardly, and without reason."

There are several complaints about the cemetery on the Find A Grave message board.

There is a negative review on Yellow Pages.

There is a negative review on Google.

One of the best sites to reveal the community's feelings is actually a photographer's website.

A flickr search for pictures of this cemetery reveals several hundred results, many of which reveal the poor conditions.

This has been a problem for many years and many people have complained. Again I ask, why does a stroll around a cemetery get shut down while bulldozing our ancestors graves is overlooked?

If you agree please leave comments here, on the sites mentioned, write your own blog posts, go to the cemetery and save your ancestors headstones before they all get bulldozed up... do something!

11 October 2012

FamilySearch hidden opportunity

Thanks to Renee's Genealogy Blog for tipping me on today's obscure opportunity.

Renee cites the LDSTech blog on which Jim Ericson of FamilySearch marketing has written an encouraging little post.

Jim Ericson's 28 September 2012 article is titled: "New Opportunity to Test Family Sharing and Heritage Services"

The article itself provides very little detail about the program. Considering FamilySearch's track record with a couple of programs that seem to stay in beta forever (ex.: Family Tree), some people may be happy to go without knowing FamilySearch's latest prototypes. If you don't know the prototype exists it is hard to get anxious for its release. We genealogists sometimes have a hard time patiently waiting for good things to come.1 I'm thinking that this is related to Kinfolio or as James Tanner called it, Poindexter (for the marketing catchphrase used in one screenshot).

There are a few key phrases in the post. "The services are designed to help Church members [if it is tied to Family Tree, probably everyone eventually], share information and media... Examples may include uploading a photo..." One commenter on the LDSTech blog post speculates that after these images are securely hosted by FamilySearch they can be linked to using the Family Tree program on FamilySearch.org. I like the idea. Although, I hope whatever the outcome, that the integration and experience are seamless.

1labs.familysearch.org is only a small fraction of the many good ideas and programs FamilySearch has/is piloting. I am very interested in seeing the progress of FamilySearch Linking, FamilySearch Indexing (browser version), and many other programs.

PS. This will all make more sense if you go to the recently overhauled about page at FamilySearch.org and learn about their mission as an organization.

30 September 2012

Family History Resolutions | Quarterly Report 3

In January, I wrote six 2012 Family History Resolutions.

1st Quarterly Report: I posted about completing goal #3 "Go back at least one additional generation/individual on 5 distinct end-of-line ancestors."

2nd Quarterly Report: I revealed a secret 7th resolution which trumped all the rest. Or in other words, I was too busy dating my soon-to-be wife to accomplish much else.

3rd Quarterly Report
In this report I will focus on goal #4 "Excel in a new full-time genealogy related career."

This year has wielded a whirlwind of genealogical and technological change. It has also been a year of change in my humble life. I completed an internship with FamilySearch from March-June. While dating my wife, having fun in a college town, doing my own (and friends) genealogy, and praying for work opportunities I was one day offered information from a good friend about a job opening in Chicago. At first I wasn't sure moving was very realistic, but long story short, I am now in-process of a delightfully genealogical career. I started officially this month.

23 June 2012

Family History Resolutions | Quarterly Report 2

In January, I wrote six 2012 Family History Resolutions.

By March I posted the completion of one, and made notable progress on another.

One thing I neglected to mention in earlier posts... I really was thinking of seven resolutions. This post will address the secret seventh resolution.

Family history (genealogy) is often thought of as the study of one's ancestors. I believe that family history encompasses much more than that. Family history is gathering, preserving, and sharing your family's story as well as their lineage. Family history is a fluid study and way of life that evolves with every individual, family, and generation. Family history is a perspective that allows us enthusiasts to see life as a chain running forever in both directions. After a little research into the past it can be easy to see that we are not that different from our ancestors, that they passed much of their lives on to us, and we will in turn pass what we have on to our descendents. With a little thought it is possible to get a deeper understanding of how we are all literally sons and daughters of one loving God through Adam and Eve, our first parents. This deep level of understanding requires the combination of scripture study and family history research. In the Bible, the prophet Malachi teaches us that another prophet (Elijah) "shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:6)." There are countless scriptures that help to deepen this understanding.

Genesis 2:24 is the scripture that comes to mind when I think of my 7th resolution, an important part of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children.

Since my last Quarterly Report in March I have become engaged, the most important family history resolution or family history related goal that I had in mind at the time I wrote my 6 resolutions. It isn't one of those goals that everyone feels comfortable writing down because so much of it depends on the timing of finding the right person. It is also a sacred process that involves carefully building a relationship between two people. Becoming engaged involves as much hard work and research (dating) as any other family history resolution. And the really great thing *laughs* is that I didn't have to give up family history at any point during the process. I simply focused more on building a relationship than discovering another relationship. Building or discovering, both are the work of family history--both are the work of the Lord.

02 May 2012

Kinfolio | A Beginner Experience in Alpha (pre-Beta)

 Disclaimer: This post contains my speculation and/or opinion. The rest of what I am sharing is project content available to the public at labs.familysearch.org, or accessible by Googling Kinfolio FamilySearch. 

 FamilySearch is always working hard to improve the user experience. Many FamilySearch users are familiar with new.familysearch.org, FamilySearch Alpha, the Family Tree (beta), and other such projects; although, few have heard of Kinfolio.

Here is a current (2 May 2012) screenshot from labs.FamilySearch.org/Fresh:

Read my earlier post: Kinfolio | A Mysterious FamilySearch Project
There have been several blog posts or tweets about this service starting in February:
History in the Making on ThisMike.com - 24 Feb 2012
Sarah Howard on AnnieValentine.com - 25 Feb 2012
New and upcoming around the Bloggernacle on Deseret News - 28 Feb 2012
Helping to Make History on Mormon Mommy Blogs - 1 Mar 2012
Kinfolio.com, Family History Through Story Telling on JosephScott.org - 9 Mar 2012
Tweet by Michelle Barber - 1 Apr 2012

Since my post there have been a few more:
Best of the Genea-Blogs - 29 April to 4 May 2012 on Genea-Musings - 6 May 2012 (thanks for the mention Randy)
Poindexter at FamilySearch on Family History with the LineageKeeper - 7 May 2012
FamilySearch Poindexter on Genealogy's Star - 7 May 2012
More on Poindexter on Genealogy's Star - 7 May 2012 (thanks for the mention James)

All about user experience
The idea behind Kinfolio is to focus completely on user experience. Your family tree on FamilySearch will be shown in a non-traditional fashion with an emphasis on photographs and stories. You will be able to view your family tree like a book, turning from one page to the next with the click of your mouse. While the FamilySearch Family Tree experience is user friendly, the current experience does very little to bring your family to life. That would improve with the planned feature to upload photographs to your FamilySearch Family Tree. The average user will admit that the experience is far from perfect, or as an early mock-up stated: "Genealogy or family history are admittedly a bit difficult to jump into. We're working to change that."

Share with your friends and family
The Kinfolio experience will be marketed (Kinfolio is free of course) to new users through social media avenues, especially Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (as shown in the screenshot). You will be able to share content from your Kinfolio (online family book) to your followers on any of those social media platforms, and then those followers will be able to click through to your content. This will likely result in bringing many thousands of new users into the genealogy and/or FamilySearch Family Tree realm. This is good for both seasoned genealogists who want to communicate with all their less seasoned relatives as well as beginners who simply wish genealogy was a little more fun.

How does it compare?
The data used in Kinfolio will most likely (eventually) be drawn from and sync with the Family Tree data contributed by FamilySearch users. I wonder if this will become the primary sharing platform for interested individuals of all experience levels. Sometimes I have tried sharing my Ancestry.com Member Trees with relatives and they are discouraged by an ad asking them to sign up for Ancestry.com which they know as a paid subscription site. Sharing through a site that everyone knows is free will help, I think. I wonder if Kinfolio will morph into a combination of a Family Tree and a MyCanvas like experience. I think it would be fun to be able to order a printable professional level book based on your online Kinfolio book. There are a lot of things about Kinfolio that are only speculation and I would not expect it to be public for another year at minimum.

Here is a teaser for the Kinfolio experience:

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

06 April 2012

Kinfolio | A Mysterious FamilySearch Project

There has been a strange and mysteriously delightful beta coming to light at labs.FamilySearch.org late last month. I have no idea what will become of it, or if it will ever see the light of day--although it does look promising.

The website gives the following detail:

Archive Photos

Kinfolio℠ makes it easy to finally dig out those old shoe boxes and start to preserve.
Save those awkward family moments, Ansel.

​Simply Easy​, Totally FREE!

Genealogy or family history are admittedly a bit difficult to jump into. We're working to change that. Sign up to receive news, updates, and launch details.

I signed up so maybe I will be one of the first to see what this does. You can sign up too.

24 March 2012

Family History Resolutions Quarterly Report

At the beginning of the year I set six family history resolutions.

I'm delighted to report that two of those 6 goals are complete!

For goal #3 I was able to extend 5 or more of my direct ancestral lines, with the help of my parents.
The following are the end-point individuals--all German immigrant ancestors--that we extended from so far this year:
  1. Johann Georg Grauling b.1789 - Bleichenbach, Hessen, Germany
  2. Anna Dorothea Bernges b.1790 - Selters, Hessen, Germany
  3. Christina Pabst b.1826 - Bobenhausen II, Hessen, Germany
  4. Johann Conrad Schumann b.1808 -  Roßdorf, Hessen, Germany
  5. Henry Lindemann b.1835 - near Ober Ramstadt, Hessen, Germany
  6. Catherine Schuchmann b.1840 - Ober Ramstadt, Hessen, Germany
For goal #4 I was able to begin "living the dream" with an internship at FamilySearch. I'm doing what I love--helping people to have success in family history.

09 March 2012

FamilySearch Linking Demo

Last month, at RootsTech 2012, FamilySearch demoed their new FamilySearch Linking software. This program allows volunteers to link the pre-FamilySearch-Indexing indices to digital images. FamilySearch has had volunteers indexing records since the 1960s or so, but only recently has come out with the ability to link the actual digital images to the records on their website. To clarify: the "linking" is automatic for anything that has been indexed since 2006 with the FamilySearch Indexing software, but image linking is now being done for the older indices. This linking software is expected to remain in pilot until the end of the year. I requested access from FamilySearch--which you can do as well by contacting support@familysearch.org.

Please watch this 5 minute demo of the new software and help spread the word. We will need a lot of volunteers to do all this work so that the images will show up on FamilySearch.org--and more people can find their ancestors for free.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

06 February 2012

RootsTech 2012: My experience

Learn more about what RootsTech is at their official website.

You can also read my limited comments about 2011's RootsTech, which I attended online.

February 2nd was the first day of RootsTech in 2012. Each day I wrote only a simple comment in my journal such as: "Wonderful!" and "Another amazing day at RootsTech!." On February 6th, I wrote about my experience as follows:

2 Feb Thur: I was engrosed in the experience with over 4,000 people there. It was my first LARGE genealogy conference. The expo hall was crowded early on with lines formed at certain booths. I had a card marked at several booths & had it turned in for a free t-shirt. I saw people I recognized from the Internet all over the place. Bloggers, tweeters, Facebook users, professional genealogists, FamilySearch employees etc. At lunch I saw Randy Seaver of GeneaMusings blog and sat with him. To my surprise, he mentioned that in his blog post about the day. [link added] I was pleased to meet my "boss" at FamilySearch also, Janell Vasquez[--At the time I was volunteering with FamilySearch genealogy research community Facebook pages, and got a paid-internship doing the same thing in March]. I attended classes by Lexmark on multi-function printers being customized for FamilySearch, YouTubing your Family History, [I attended] 1/2 [of the class on] Evernote..., 1/2 Gamification--making genealogy feel like a game, attracting users, and multi-lanuage high speed indexing with a group from Hong Kong. [I was impressed by the Hong Kong group who employ hundred of people in a specialized facility, give their employees ping-pong speed training, and have implemented an impressive system. They do some of the indexing for sites like Ancestry.com, under contract.]

3 Feb, Friday: Josh Coates of Mozy gave an entertaining presentation on data storage space increasing. I went to a presentation about JQuery and indexed on the new Android FamilySearch Indexing App that I excitedly found out about in the morning when I saw someone using it in [while watching] the keynote speech. I met a BYU Provo family history student named Angela and sat with her at Josh's keynote talk. I skipped a class to index & walk the expo hall some more. Oh & Thursday night was a funny comedy show by Ryan Hamilton. I went to a class on the FamilySearch Family Tree REST API and enjoyed hearing about the open source GEDCOMX movement [link added]. I talked to people about the FamilySearch Genealogy Research Communities throughout the conference. I met admins Larri-Anne & Christa Klemme Friday. I talked about GRCs with Randy Whited of FGS [Federation of Genealogical Societies] [link added] yesterday & mentioned them in his brainstorming class for societies. Then I mentioned them in the Meet FamilySearch's CEO class & Janell Vasquez's boss Art Johnson thanksed me for my comments afterward. During the FGS brainstorm Joyce Homan Executive Director of The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania recognized me as a PaHR-Access contributor and asked to get a picture with me.

The next day Saturday Feb. 4th was great too. I met a couple more admins such as Michael Melendez and Rick Koelz. Several of us admins had lunch together. Ancestry.com's keynote was exciting. They hav an amazing new census viewer and directory viewer. They made forward thinking comments about a semi-secret DNA project. Someday they say we will be able to determine an ancestor's town of origin from DNA. I was really excited about the new Indexing Linking tool FamilySearch has in closed beta. The BillionGraves [link added] presentation was fun too. There was a good class about advocating genealogy too. After lunch I spoke with Thomas MacEntee about FamilySearch Genealogy Research Communities and he offered to promote them by having us on his radio show[--we never got it lined up and his show has since discontinued]. 

That ends my RootsTech 2012 report as recorded in my journal. It was a very significant experience in education, networking, and preparing for my future career (and service) opportunities. Besides all that, one of my favorite parts of RootsTech 2012 was playing a game of pool in the middle of the expo hall.

RootsTech 2012 highlights in my other blog posts:
FamilySearch Indexing Android app
Announced yesterday at RootsTech: Check out "FamilySearch Indexing (Beta)" Android App.
From my post, "Happy Genealogists replace Angry Birds"

FamilySearch Indexing Linking
Last month, at RootsTech 2012, FamilySearch demoed their new FamilySearch Linking software. This program allows volunteers to link the pre-FamilySearch-Indexing indices to digital images. FamilySearch has had volunteers indexing records since the 1960s or so, but only recently has come out with the ability to link the actual digital images to the records on their website. To clarify: the "linking" is automatic for anything that has been indexed since 2006 with the FamilySearch Indexing software, but image linking is now being done for the older indices. This linking software is expected to remain in pilot until the end of the year. I requested access from FamilySearch--which you can do as well by contacting support@familysearch.org.
From my post, "FamilySearch Linking Demo"

It would be interesting to look at exactly what has and has not happened since some of the 2012 announcements, but I will leave that to future opportunity.

11 January 2012

FamilySearch FamilyTree Beta Review

Since March 2011 I have been covering the FamilySearch FamilyTree Beta. Notable genealogy enthusiasts have recently noted that little has been said since then.1, 2, 3

I'm prepared to announce that is no longer accurate. At least as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure they meant FamilySearch was quiet, not me--oh well I'm not FamilySearch but, here I go making noise. Please excuse the blue boxes. I was protecting the privacy of living individuals such as myself.

I apologize to those of you who are completely unfamiliar with the beta. This video is tailored to those who knew about it already, but were not granted access or people who want to know about the progress of the beta. Please leave your questions as comments to this post and I will gladly address them.

The two main things I talk about are: 1. the new Watch List, and 2. the new ability to edit in the beta
Enjoy the video here or click this link for the full size: http://www.screencast.com/t/mmJdnzarRb

1 "New.FamilySearch.org - Still very much the same as usual, although there is a Beta test floating around out there in the ether which hasn't been referenced for some time."
- James Tanner, "Old FamilySearch.org Website still alive?" Genealogy's Star blog, 8 Jan 2012.

2 "New FamilySearch, now known as FamilySearch Family Tree, went in Limited Private Beta early this year and FamilySearch has not even announced that there will be Public Beta next year."
- Tamura Jones, "FamilySearch Family Tree API Public," Modern Software Experience, 22 Dec 2011.

3 "New.FamilySearch.org is long overdue for a substantial makeover to address the multitude of present limitations in the program. There was a not too confidential release of a Beta version of a preliminary version of the program circulating. But since the sort-of introduction of a Beta version, there has been no further communication I have picked up."
- James Tanner, "My Predictions for FamilySearch," Genealogy's Star blog, 9 Jan 2012.

04 January 2012

Good Karma

I've been answering random people's genealogy questions on Ancestry.com message boards for the past few days. Earlier today it occurred to me that it would be good karma if someone would respond to one of my message board posts that have been online for years. A few minutes ago someone did. The person was even a direct distant cousin. Now I call that a genealogy miracle. For those of you who are related or interested the family name is Ripke for this story. They are an offshoot of my maternal Whitehurst ancestors.
Have you had any good genealogy karma lately?

01 January 2012

2012 Family History Resolutions

Every year I see many genealogy miracles. I solve multiple end-of-line problems, progress in my own skills by leaps and bounds, and contribute to the family history community in important ways.

This year I've decided to go with the trend among other GeneaBloggers and write some goals so that you--my readers--can hold me accountable, and perhaps I will accomplish a few of the goals that I usually set on the back burner.
  1. Name 10% of my 25,046 ambiguous genealogy files (pictures, historic documents, scanned genealogy charts, letters etc.) using the "Surname, Given Name(s) - Title (Optional Short Description) Year" format. Example: McCormick, Michael W - Diploma 2011; Some of my files have searchable names while other files still have consecutive numbering that was assigned by digital camera data or date scanned information. While scanning is the more essential step, I hope to get the files organized before I turn 120 or the world ends in December. I'm hoping the world doesn't end.
  2. Transcribe 200 pages of family letters; Many of the letters that came into our possession have never been read by anyone in my immediate family and are still in original paper form or scanned only. Transcribing will give me a good motivation to read them and will make it easier for others to Control+F (search) for data in the future.
  3. Go back at least one additional generation/individual on 5 distinct end-of-line ancestors; this should be the easiest goal as I can't imagine wanting to do anything else more. 
  4. Excel in a new full-time genealogy related career; While I've been working in the field since 2007, I graduated with a Bachelors of Science last month and moved to Provo to start a new career there.
  5. Become an AG through ICAPGen; I'm within 70 hours of the application hour requirements--while I am well over the total hourly requirement, I lacked sufficient experience in one of the sub-regions. I'm partly through the four generation project.
  6. Begin a Masters program in genealogy; I recently applied for the October 2012 postgraduate certificate program with University of Strathclyde.
Perhaps I will update you on my status quarterly and this may give me a chance to track and/or modify my goals. I'm not promising anything. Six goals is enough.