Category Archives: Technology

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

Tech Tuesday: The Next Generation v9.0 upgrade review

The Stanwood Family site at http://www.stanwoodfamily.com

I really have enjoyed The Next Generation (TNG) – is a great way to share your research with others online.  My dilemma in the past has been trying to keep TNG updated with the data I have in my primary desktop software, Roots Magic (which I LOVE!).  Recently I learned that you can simply overwrite your TNG data by uploading a new Gedcom, so I thought I’d give that a whirl.  First, though, I decided to upgrade TNG from version 8.0 to 9.0.

The upgrade went without a hitch.  TNG has an excellent forum and a Wiki which answers most questions.  However, when I’ve had additional questions that I can’t solve with the online helps, Darrin Lythgoe has been WONDERFUL about providing support for his product.  When I first installed TNG a couple of years ago, he guided me through the process when I had issues.  (Discovered it runs best on Linux, and my host was Windows-based.  A change to Linux solved those problems.)

While my upgrade was smooth, updating my database was a little more challenging.   Continue reading


Excel, Evernote, RootsMagic, and my research log

Excel spreadsheet for New Hampshire – a combined planning tool and research log

After my first day at the Family History Library, I realized I need a major over-haul of my research log.     For quite a while now, I’ve used Excel to plan what materials to research at a repository and updated the spreadsheet with what I’d located.  However, I didn’t have a really good way of incorporating that into a research log.

However, I think I’ve come up with a system that will work and is relatively simple to use.   Continue reading


Tech Tuesday: My Super Experience With Scrivener!

Scrivener Cork Board

Screenshot of the Scrivener “cork board” which allows you to organize your writing  

Growing up I always had pen and paper in hand.  I’d sketch out newspaper templates, and would write amusing articles for my family’s enjoyment.  As I grew older, the pen was replaced by a typewriter.  In my Sophomore year at Elsinore Union High School, I was given the opportunity to write for The Rancho News, where I’d cover the happenings at our local high school for the community newspaper.

What Motivates Miss Rancho-Temecula Contestants?

One of my first newspaper articles, published in The Rancho News

By 15, I was taken on as a paid, freelance reporter.  Toting my 35mm camera, I’d cover stories such as the design of the Riverside County Emergency Medical Services (the predecessor of 911), area floods, and how the gas crisis of 1979 was affecting Temecula residents.   My first paycheck was a whopping $18.37, but I was in heaven – getting paid for something I LOVED!   Continue reading


Tech Tuesday: Cute pictures with Cute PDF

Documents for PDF

PDFs are great for compiling documents

I love PDFs.  They are great for compiling photos of documents.  Take, for example, the photographs of the pension file for Thomas H. Stanwood who served in the Civil War.  The original documents were photographed by my cousin who lives in Washington, D.C., and was kind enough to visit the National Archives and take the digital images for me.

After reading (and re-reading) the documents, I like to draft a summary of my findings and copy the images into a Word document. Continue reading


Tech Tuesday: Money and the Great Ancestry.com Debate

Ancestry.com – making my research easier

The year was 1994, and I remember the day like it was yesterday.  That sound…that beautiful sound of a dial-up modem, connecting to the internet.  My husband was by my side, showing me what the “world wide web” was like.  I was mesmerized and astounded.  I don’t recall what I said, but I’m sure “WOW!” was in there somewhere.  Not that there was a ton of genealogy sites online in 1994, but my immediate thought was how this “www” thing was going to revolutionize genealogy.

Well, here we are, more than a decade (almost two!)  later.  My dial-up modem has been replaced with wireless internet service and WiFi in my home.   The internet has grown, and we have a lot of free genealogical stuff available to us online.   Continue reading


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