Category Archives: Learning

Maine’s digital records explode at FamilySearch

If you were like me and initially stunned and short of breath upon hearing that FamilySearch was ending microfilm rental on August 31st, take heart!  Yes, rental is ending, but it is being replaced with something far better – DIGITAL RECORDS!  Best of all many of these records, including those found in my itty bitty, small Maine towns, are online NOW!

Yes, I spent the bulk of last evening perusing the card catalog at FamilySearch, which is where you will find these new records located.

Go the card catalog to find newly digitized records.

FamilySearch announced they are uploading browsable, digital versions of microfilmed records at the speed of about 1,500 per day, starting with films that have been requested for rental within the last five years.  In the last two weeks, they’ve uploaded the microfilms for several of the small Maine towns I’m researching, as well as several for Ipswich, Massachusetts, another area where I’ve been focusing my efforts.  Those for most of the Maine towns are available to view at home, but unfortunately Ipswich’s records do require I go to the Family History Center or an affiliate library to view.  That’s okay – at least I can see them TODAY!

Here’s a list of the Maine vital records online for the towns I’ve been working on, and a link to their collections on FamilySearch:

Franklin County:

Kennebec county:

Piscataquis County

Somerset County

Waldo County

I’m sure if you check for your areas of interest, they are likely online as well, or will be shortly.  (I’m still waiting for Manchester, Kennebec County, Maine.)  Of course, these digital images are not indexed, but hey – neither were the microfilm!  Now I can leisurely go through these records and carefully view each page to make sure there aren’t people or key pieces of information I’d missed while trying to get through the rolls at the Family History Center previously.  Another huge bonus is now I will have much better images to save to my database, and they are far superior to what I’d snapped with my camera off the microfilm reader!

Digital image of marriage of Aaron Daye and Patty Tibets in Embden, Maine

Below is the copy I’d photographed from the microfilm reader:

Same image, but photographed off the microfilm reader.

Yup, this gal is a happy camper!  Thank you FamilySearch!


Missed NGS? Get a PlaybackNow package!

playbackAre you an NGS left-behinder?  NGS has partnered with Playback to record the large majority of their sessions, and they offer a variety of packages for purchase.  Of course, you can order a la carte, and purchase only the lectures of interest, or you can buy the whole enchilada!  A 6-month “Fast Pass” allows you to listen to any of the recorded lectures for up to six months, and is the most affordable of the packages at $195 (conference special) or $295 for non-attendees or purchase after the conclusion of the show.  The 12-month Season Pass allows the same streaming as the 6-month package, but has the added advantage of download, so you can save the MP3s on your device to listen later.  More details can be found on the NGS site here and at the NGS Playback page here.


The new and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinars

New and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinar page

New and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinar page

Legacy Family Tree recently announced major changes to their web page, and the ability to listen to webinars on smartphones and mobile devices.  Whoo hoo!  With a 2 1/2 hour round trip commute daily, I immediately thought of the possibility of playing broadcasts while driving.  This morning I gave it a test run, listening to Warren Bittner’s excellent session titled, “Complex Evidence – What is It? How Does it Work? And Why Does it Matter?”

I was worried that my iPhone would lose connection and that the webinar would be challenging to listen to.  While there were occasional pauses while listening from my phone, they were exceptionally brief and were barely noticeable.  I’m thrilled that this ability is now offered, as I do most of my podcast and gene-learning in the car these days.  It’s now worth having an annual subscription, as previously I found I just didn’t have the time to listen when at home.  (Subscriptions are a great deal at only $49.95 per year, allowing complete access to the entire webinar archive, and yup, I’ve already resubscribed!)

Just as cool, their new website got a huge face-lift and is really user friendly.  It’s easy to find what you want to listen to.  I’m looking forward to a lot more learning!


Maine research: some lesser known places to search – for FREE!

I love Maine research.  The Pine Tree State has made major efforts to digitize their records, increasing the odds of finding your ancestors in both free, online databases and government repositories.  Additionally, I’ve found most town clerks and registrars very helpful and friendly, often willing to communicate via email regarding a research request.

Land Records

The state portal for the Maine Registers of Deeds is found here.

deedmap

Each county has various levels of digitization underway.  Kennebec County, for example, has indexed all of their deed books, including most historic deeds dating back to the late 1790s.   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.

 

 


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


Getting the ROI on your genealogy subscriptions??

John M. Bursley with his regiment in History of the Fourth Regiment of Minnesota Infantry Volunteers During the Great Rebellion, 1861-1865

John M. Bursley with his regiment in History of the Fourth Regiment of Minnesota Infantry Volunteers During the Great Rebellion, 1861-1865, located with Mocavo.com.

If you’re like me, your email in-box is often crammed with offerings for the latest and greatest – books, websites, webinars, etc.  It usually takes a few endorsements before I jump on the bandwagon and subscribe to a new website, but I’ve recently added three subscription-based sites to my list – HistoryGeo.com, Mocavo.com and MyHeritage.com.  Am I getting my money’s worth from these new subscriptions?  What’s the return on investment?

Continue reading