Category Archives: Technology

Curio – the genealogist’s tool for organizing Evernote notes, Word and Excel files & more

Curio's Evernote tab let's you sort your Evernote notes by folder and tag so you can easily find the one you wish to import.

Curio’s Evernote tab let’s you sort your Evernote notes by folder and tag so you can easily find the one you wish to import.

Stuff. Yup, genealogists collect a lot of stuff. We save stuff from the web, stuff we’ve been emailed, and yes, stuff we’ve created.

Lots of my stuff is saved in Evernote. Lots of it is in Microsoft Word. Some of it is in Excel. (I live by my spreadsheets!) Of course, there’s stuff saved from online books, databases, microfilm images, digital maps, mind maps, charts, and graphs and…well…you get the picture. There’s S-T-U-F-F all over my hard drive.

Usually this isn’t problematic, but sometimes I forget what stuff I’ve already collected. Despite my best efforts at keeping notes and research logs, if something is out of sight, it’s out of mind.

That’s why I LOVE Zengobi’s Curio!!! It’s became my favorite Go To app – it’s a must-have, can’t-live-without app that lets me take all that stuff and organize it how I see fit. Best yet, it interfaces with Evernote, allowing me to drag my Evernote notes into folders or blank “idea spaces,” which are blank pages that can be utilized to save images or other information. (Unfortunately, the interface is only one way – you can save and view the Evernote page, but cannot update Evernote from within Curio.)

Mostly I’m using Curio to organize info. I am in the middle of tracing my Tibbetts family, a line which I’ve just begun researching.   Curio let’s me take all that info and organize it in folders or sections. So, when I find information from a book, I can either save it directly into Curio using it as a note, I can save the image on my hard drive and drag it into a Curio folder, or I can save the info into Evernote and place it in Curio….the options are quite varied. The bottom line is I can save the info however I like, in a format that makes the most sense for me. Continue reading


Photo books – share your family history (and still be invited to next year’s Thanksgiving dinner!)

The Bursley & Stanwood Family History

The Bursley & Stanwood Family History

If you’re like me, sometimes it’s hard to find the balance in conversations with our relatives. While my intent is to have a casual conversation designed inspire and pique their interest in our shared history, I fear they equate me with a religious zealot trying to proselytize them. (I’m hoping my hairstylist doesn’t also feel this way; he said he was going to go home after my last appointment and sign up for Ancestry.com. I hope he was sincere and not trying to get me to shut up!) But I digress.

Sharing our interest can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. About two years ago I began working on the story of my ancestors, specifically Lavina Bursley and her husband, Albert Stanwood. I wanted to know who they were, not just where they lived and what they named their children. I wanted to share this information with my relatives, hoping to inspire them and not turn them off. I was a little uncertain how to tackle the sharing part of the project, until visiting Lynn Palermo’s Armchair Genealogist blog, where she has several posts about using photo books to share family history stories.

Photo books are great. The old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is so true. Pictures draw the reader in. They get them interested. They don’t feel “preachy.” They make the viewer feel part of something bigger, part of a legacy. Pictures are powerful.

For Christmas, I decided to make three photo books to give as gifts to my sister and my two aunts.  Each book contained two parts: a customized section with photos of the recipient’s own family and family tree, and a second, core section that was the same in each book, containing the story of Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood.  The books were designed to: Continue reading


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?
Continue reading


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.  :-)


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