Category Archives: Technology

Back when

Before this:

PC

I drove two hours one way to get here to view census records:

National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California

National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California

Yep, genealogy was way different back then. It kinda reminds of me Tim McGraw’s song “Back When,” in which he reminisces about life in the good ‘ol days. In an era of immediate gratification, where we can download our favorite songs from iTunes and play them nearly anywhere, any time of the day, Tim laments:

 

I love my records
Black, shiny vinyl
Clicks and pops
And white noise
Man they sounded fine
I had my favorite stations
The ones that played them all
Country, soul and rock-and-roll
What happened to those times?

Like Tim, sometimes I miss the good ‘ol days too.  Nothing like the smell of a musty old book to bring me back to my years when I first began my search for my ancestors. Yes, things were quite different in the world of genealogy then.   So….do you remember when?

 

Before this:

Census record on Ancestry.com

Census record on Ancestry.com

All genealogists knew how to use this:

microfilm reader

microfilm reader

Before this:

FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch.org

One viewed the IGI like this:

IGI records copied from microfiche, viewed at my local Family History Center

IGI records copied from microfiche at my local Family History Center

Before this:
facebook-logo-2012

Genealogists used this to find cousins:
telephone_directory

Before this:
cyndislist

Genealogists used this as one of their number one resources:
handy book

Before this:

RootsMagic database

RootsMagic database

Genealogists kept their records like this:

FGS

Before this:
evidence explained

Most genealogists sources looked like this:

Yep, our sources were pretty much non-existent.

Yep, our sources were pretty much non-existent.

 

Before this:
eastman

We waited every couple of months for this to find out what was new in genealogy:

Genealogical Helper

Before this:
iphone

We stood in line at libraries to use this:

copier

Before this:

Google earth lets us visit lands far away

Google earth lets us visit lands far away

We did this to instead see where our ancestors lived:

plane

We used to fly to do onsite research

Before this:
findagrave

We visited this:

Salisbury Cove Cemetery in Bar Harbor, Maine

Salisbury Cove Cemetery in Bar Harbor, Maine

Before this:

You can order birth, death and marriage certificates online and receive them in just days

You can order birth, death and marriage certificates online and receive them in just days

We went here to get vital records:

Barnstable County Courthouse

Barnstable Courthouse

Before this:

Library of Congress's Chronicling America site

Library of Congress’s Chronicling America site

We viewed old newspapers like this:

Bound issue of the Farmington (Maine) Chronicle

Bound issue of the Farmington (Maine) Chronicle

Before this:

Kennebec County map, downloaded from Library of Congress

Kennebec County map, downloaded from Library of Congress

We purchased this:

map

Before this:
gmail

We did this:

Writing letter to a friend.

While I must admit to relishing the instant gratification the internet and computers have provided to us as we research our family history, in many ways I do miss the “olden days” of genealogy.  Those were the days when we actually took the time to write letter to collaborate with our cousins when researching family lines, when we studied the documents we copied off that day at the library, and actually read books on paper instead of in ebook format.  While we’ve gained a lot over the last thirty years or so (hasn’t the internet helped all of us break down a brick wall or two?), in many ways I miss the slower days of research.  Yup, taking time to really relish a find instead of fiendishly looking to solve the next big mystery, enjoying the anticipation of getting new documents in the daily mail, and just savoring the moment of getting to know an ancestor a bit better.

So, now’s your turn – what do you miss?


MacBridge for RootsMagic – two thumbs up

rm

I’ve been a longstanding RootsMagic user.  Even after making the move to a Mac a year ago, I continued to use RootsMagic, a Windows-based program, by running it with Codeweaver’s CrossOver application.  It worked pretty well for the most part – except for one extremely annoying issue.  Despite setting up my default folders for my media files, RM didn’t remember the locations.  Consequently, each time I went to link to a picture or a document, I had to navigate to the correct folder on my hard drive.  It was a MAJOR inconvenience.  Aside from that, I really didn’t have any complaints.  So, when RootsMagic released the MacBridge program earlier this week, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth trying it out.  But I’m sure glad I did!  My folders are now retained in RootsMagic’s memory, and the program is operating as it should.

You can learn more about RootsMagic’s new release, MacBridge, here.

 


Make your favorite historical society “Flip” today!

Flip-Pal mobile scannerOld family records. Fading photographs. Newspapers. Rare books. Scraps of paper insignificant to any one else, but super important to those trying to put flesh on the bones of an ancestor. These items and more are often hidden away in historical societies, staffed by volunteers and others dedicated to preserving their town’s records.  Getting access to these records is an important part of our genealogical research – so why not make it easier for them with a Flip-Pal mobile scanner?

Lemuel Bursley Jr. documents provided by Farmington (Maine) Historical Society

From the Farmington Historical Society – details in the life of Lemuel Bursley, Jr., found in papers retrieved from the Croswell Store at Farmington Falls, Maine

Most historical societies are on a very limited budget, and the Flip-Pal’s nominal price of $149 is out of reach for many. Continue reading


The Economical Genealogist: podcasts and streaming videos – your FREE genealogical education!

eggtimer

Multi-task with podcasts to get free genealogy tips!

Many people want to learn more about genealogy, but don’t have the financial resources to attend conferences or to pay for expensive online courses and webinars.  Others (like me!) are short on time and need to combine their learning with other activities.  Here are some great ways to learn genealogy that are FREE and can be combined with other activities.

Podcasts:

There are a variety of wonderful podcasts and radio talk shows available to increase your knowledge and skills.  Here are my favorites:

1) Fieldstone Common:  “a weekly internet radio show (podcast) for anyone who loves exploring the past.  Host Marian Pierre-Louis will introduce you to authors and historians who bring history alive! Topics focus on history and genealogy in the Northeast United States.  Authors, historians, curators, archivists, genealogists and other stewards of history are interviewed about their books or projects.”   This is a must for anyone with colonial American roots!

2) The Forget-Me-Not Hour:  Your Ancestors Want Their Stories to Be Told:  “Catch Jane Wilcox, host of The Forget-Me-Not Hour: Your Ancestors Want Their Stories To Be Told talk radio show from Kingston, N.Y. Interviews with special local, regional and national genealogy guests, a little music, and lots of genealogy tips.”

3)  Genealogy Gems:  With a focus on technology, Lisa Louise Cooke provides plenty of tips to assist newbies and advanced genealogists alike.  A free and premium version is available, which may be downloaded from iTunes or listened to online.  The Premium version also provides users with access to several how-to videos and other content as well.

4)  Genealogy Guys:  Experts and authors George G. Morgan and Drew Smith advertise their podcast as the longest running, regularly produced podcast in the world!  Listen in to hear the latest news in the genealogical world and to get tips and tricks from the Genealogy Guys!

Other FREE online learning opportunities:

FamilySearch Learning Center:  A wonderful and often overlooked resource, FamilySearch has provided great instructional videos for those new to genealogy, or just new to research in a specific area or region.  They’ve also added links to the RootsTech 2014 streamed sessions.  Check back regularly for new content from people like Thomas W. Jones, who authored the must-have book, Mastering Genealogical Proof Standard.  Brand new to genealogy?  No problem – there are short videos for you as well!

Legacy Family Tree Webinars:  Free to listen live and for a short time after broadcasting, these webinars provide excellent information on a variety of topics ranging from organization, technology, research methods and much, much more.

Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree Extension Series:  If you’ve attended Jamboree, you’ll know SCGS is a master at education!  Their live webinars are a wonderful supplement to Jamboree, and a great resource to those who are unable to attend live conferences.  Free to listen live, and members have access to previously recorded sessions.

 

 


My quest for a camera and cheerful robins adorn the cemetery

Robins bring life to the cemetery

Robins bring life to the cemetery

I’ve been on a quest for a new point-and-shoot digital camera, primarily for use at archives and libraries.  My DSLR was just so heavy and big and difficult to use when photographing documents that require hands to keep flat, and my iPhone just doesn’t have the clarity – especially in dark libraries. In addition, I also wanted one that would double for photographing scenery when out and about.  My search led me to the Sony Cybershot RX100, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  While shooting pictures at a cemetery this afternoon, I spotted this cheerful robin who was loitering around some headstones. I crept about 8 feet from him, and using the telephoto lens, was able to capture this pic  – proof I will be able to leave my DSLR and lenses at home on my research trips.  :-)


If only I woulda…..

This notebook was used to hurriedly scribble down notes when interviewing my grandmother after reviewing old letters and photographs.

This notebook was used to hurriedly scribble down notes when interviewing my grandmother after reviewing old letters and photographs.

Spending the last few weeks working on a family history book has brought a few things to light. (Actually, it’s validated some of the mistakes I made along my genealogical journey.)  I hope my public confessions will help a newbie or two avoid some of my errors.  Here is my list of top things I wish I woulda done differently:

1.  Followed Russ Worthington’s system of digital file organization.

I fear my digital files are a lost cause.  Really.  Continue reading


Tuesday’s Tip: HistoryGeo.com – You Can’t Live Without It!

Santiago_Homesteads_mapview

Using HistoryGeo.com, I was able to easily create this map on Google maps showing Benjamin Bursley’s residence in relation to those of his sons-in-law, Albert Stanwood and James Smallen.

Okay, it might not be as important as food, water, clothing or shelter, but if you are as into maps and land records as I am, then I’m sure you’ll agree – HistoryGeo.com is one of those “must have” subscriptions.  Here’s why:

  • HistoryGeo.com takes Arphax Publishing’s superb books, Family Maps series of Land Patent Books and the Texas Land Survey Maps, and allows you to search by surname, or browse by county, to find those who had land purchases indexed either in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management database or the Texas General Land Office database.
  • When viewing the digital map on HistoryGeo.com, links are included to the individual land owner’s BLM Document, and <DRUM ROLL>…..a link to the tract of land in Google maps!!!!!
  • For under $60, less than the cost of two books, you can have a one-year subscription to access the maps and detail contained in all 500 books published to date. Continue reading

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