May 31, 2016

How to Create a Coloring Book for Family History

create a coloring bookColoring books are all the rage for adults and kids. Let this project and these free online tools inspire you to create a coloring book to celebrate your heritage.

Last Christmas, my mom Cheryl McClellan created a coloring book for our extended family out of family artwork. She requested copies of line drawings from every willing relative, especially her grandchildren (ages 3-20). Then she added her own childhood artwork, some of mine, and some of her mother’s, so four generations are represented.

create a coloring book

The flowers on the left, originally painted by my grandma, wasn’t as easily colored because of all the dark areas. My mom’s childhood drawing and my son’s, on the right, both made very “colorable” images.

Then she simply photocopied each page to make it into a coloring page. She experimented with the black-and-white settings until she got the best quality reproductions for coloring.

The grandchildren’s artwork came out the best because they created images meant to be colored (with lots of lines and spaces and no shading). The older artwork reproduced with varying degrees of success. But all were fun to include. She chose not to bind the completed book, so the pages would be easier to color, but instead put each person’s collection of coloring pages in large envelopes.

More tools and ideas: Create a coloring book

To create your own family coloring book, gather family photos (or artwork) from your family archive that would be interesting to color. Consider pictures of relatives, homes, heirlooms, or other objects of significance to your current family life or your family history. The best images will have plenty of contrast in them (lights and darks).

Choose your favorite free online photo editing tool, if you have one. Examples include Pixlr.com and Snapstouch.com. I chose Snapstouch because it’s super easy. Here are the instructions on Snapstouch:

1. From the home page, select which final visual effect you prefer: I chose Sketch. (Depending on the photo and the desired effect, you might also choose Drawing or Outline.)

2. Choose your image file from your computer.

3. Select additional options, as shown here. (In Sketch mode, you can choose a darker pencil sketch and faces to be refined).

4. Click UPLOAD. Wait for the file to upload to the site.

5. After the upload is complete, you’ll see the option to click SKETCH. Click and wait for a moment.

6. If the final image is not to your liking, play with the options (you don’t need to re-upload the photo to do this). OR switch to a different visual effect and experiment.

7. Click DOWNLOAD when you’ve got the image you want.

Another Awesome Option: Use our link to get a digital download of the the current issue of Family Tree Magazine and in it you will find an article by Lisa Alzo called “Attention Grabbers.” (Be sure to use our exclusive coupon code GENEALOGYGEMS15 and you’ll get 15% off through 12/31/16!) One of her projects is a family coloring book. Included in the article is a full page of instructions for converting images to coloring pages in PaintShop Pro, Photoshop Elements or other photo editing software.

 

Convert Files for Free with This Online Tool I Use

online file converter featured image convert filesNeed to convert files to another file format? Whether images, sound files or even video, you may be able to do this for free online.

These days, it’s common to preserve digital copies of your most important genealogy files: oral history interviews, photographs, documents, even digitized family history books. But sometimes we’re given a file our computer won’t read, or we want to share a file on a website that doesn’t like the format we have. Also, at some point, file formats change, so we need to convert them so they’ll still be readable in future years.

Here’s a gem of a website that can help: Online-Convert.com. They make it simple and free to convert your files to new and different formats. For example, you can turn a sound file recorded by your computer or recording device into the popular MP3 format, which is so much easier to share because it is universal and a smaller file than uncompressed files such as .WAV files. You can turn your word-processing document into the nearly-universally readable PDF format, or even into an e-book format readable on Kindle or other e-readers!

Simply go to the site and select the type of file conversion you want to do:

online file converter screen shot convert files

convert files audio screenshotOnce you’ve chosen a file format, you’ll see a list of the different file formats to which you can convert. Click to learn more about them. And see the area with an X over it in the image shown here? That’s an ad. Don’t click on it. Just scroll down to the list of options available on this site.

The site will either recommend tools you can download to convert files yourself, or they will do them for you. Basic use of the site is free; you can subscribe to premium features for a fee.

The site’s blog has some great information, too, such as a post on how to capture audio material from a video. Then consult this post on what kinds of audio files you can insert into a PowerPoint presentation–and you’ll be able to insert a voice-over from Grandma’s video interview into your new PowerPoint slide show.

More Tech Tools You’ll Love

Is This Website Down or Is It Just Me?

Compare Look-Alikes in Your Family with This Free Facial Recognition Tool

VIDEO: 10 Tech Tools You Can’t Live Without (Premium website subscription required)

 

How to Organize Notes in Evernote Notebooks

how to organize notes in Evernote notebooksUse these step-by-step instructions to organize notes in Evernote notebooks.

Recently Donna watched one of my Evernote for genealogy webinars. She wrote in afterward to give the webinar a thumbs-up and ask this question about how to organize notes in Evernote notebooks:

“I…have been happily using Evernote for a while now so I already have lots of notes, notebooks and stacks. Got web clipper, made my Genealogy and Personal notebooks, added tags you suggested, and discovered Evernote Clearly is no longer available. But you’re right, I’ve lost some of the notes in the myriad. What is the best way to begin putting notes into the new Genealogy & Personal notebooks?  Is there another video on that? Thanks for being there for us, Lisa, All our stuff can become overwhelming if it can’t be organized.”

shortcut through time organize notes in EvernoteI’m so glad that Donna found the video helpful!

The thing about getting organized is that sometimes it can gobble up all your research time. So one approach I often recommend is just to move Evernote notes as you use them. That way you can keep researching, while getting more organized each day. As you create new notes you’ll be putting them directly where they belong, and as you use existing notes, you can tidy them up as you go.

If you feel more comfortable getting everything moved in one fell swoop, that’s good too. One way to save time is with a simple trick: decide what you have more of (Genealogy or Personal) and then move ALL your notes into that notebook. So if you have more Genealogy notes, all your notes will be in that notebook. Now you only have less than 1/2 of your notes that need to be moved to Personal.

You can move the rest to the other notebook by selecting multiple notes at once. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

1. Click the Genealogy notebook in the left column.
2. In the center column are all of your notes. Click the first note in your list to be moved.
3. Hold down the Control key on your keyboard.
4. Now click to select each additional note you want to move to the Personal notebook. (Use the wheel on your mouse to scroll down as you need to.) Your notes will be collecting in the right-hand window pane, and a dialog box will appear.
5. In that dialog box, click the Move to Notebook button and click to select the desired notebook from your list (ex. Personal).
6. For good measure, click the Sync button to manually synchronize all of your notes.

I heard back from Donna with this comment:

Thank you Lisa! Within a matter of minutes I was able to move my notes and notebooks into the two stacks.  Now that Personal and Genealogy are separated, I’ll follow your suggestion to tidy up the notes as I go and add all my tags (which I hadn’t realized the importance of before the video). Ahhhh!  It feels so good to have it clearly organized! You rock, Lisa!”

Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedThis website is packed with resources for using Evernote for genealogy! Click here to find free tips and videos to get started. To REALLY make Evernote work for your family history, become a Genealogy Gems Premium website member. Members have a full year’s access to my Ultimate Evernote Education for Genealogists instructional video series with their membership.

Great Canadian Genealogy Summit: Mark Your Calendars

CANGen Great Canadian Genealogy SummitAn inaugural event: The Great Canadian Genealogy Summit (CANGEN), to be held October 21-23, 2016, at the Courtyard by Marriott, Brampton, Ontario.

The first-ever Great Canadian Genealogy Summit (CANGEN) will be held October 21-23, 2016. The conference even includes time at a regional archive–with a workshop held on how to research there.

“The Summit showcases Canadian genealogists who have an expertise in the record sets relating to the early settlers of Canada,” says an event press release. “On October 21, we have arranged a day at the Ontario Archives. And better still, for those with United Empire Loyalist ancestors who are mind boggled with the documentation required for your UEL application, former Dominion Genealogist Kathryn Lake Hogan will be offering a workshop with the at the Archives. She will share her expertise on what documentation is required and how to access the documents at the Archives.”

The opening event features a social time that will be kicked off by Jennifer Debruin, a writer and genealogist who will tell stories about Canadian ancestors. Saturday’s program offers five ethnic tracks: Irish, English, French Canadian, Canadian and Scottish ancestors. Sunday features methodology with Louise St. Denis (who is providing each registrant with a certificate for a FREE course at the NIGS). Lynn Palermo wraps things up with a session on writing up family history.

Registration for the full weekend is just $159 Canadian ($125 USD). Registration for Saturday-only is $119 ($93 USD). All registrations include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, free access to Findmypast and admission to the exhibition hall. Click here to register.

COMING UP IN JUNE 2016: Ontario Genealogical Society with Lisa Louise Cooke

More Canadian Genealogy Gems

Canadian genealogy passenger listsSearch Canadian Passenger Lists for FREE at Library Archives Canada

Canadiana Digital Archive

Google Earth for Canada and Genealogy

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineHere’s this week’s roundup of new genealogy records online. Highlights: Canadian marriages, German emigrants, Philippines civil registrations, Russian and Ukrainian church records and Michigan marriages.

CANADA – MARRIAGES. A new collection of district marriage register images for Ontario, Canada (1801-1858) is now free to browse at FamilySearch.org. Most entries are for the 1830s-1850s.

GERMANY – EMIGRANTS. The (former) Grand Duchy of Oldenburg Emigrants database just passed the 100.000 person mark. According to a note from the site host, “The database contains beside the emigrant itself also the family members we could trace in Germany or the Country to which he migrated.” Learn more at this blog post from the Oldenburgische Gesellschaft für Familienkunde. Click here to hear online German records expert Jim Beidler talk about new German records online.

PHILIPPINES – CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. FamilySearch.org has added 1.7 million+ browsable records to an existing collection of Philippines national civil registration records (1945-1984). These are described as “marriage and death certificates from various localities,” excluding Manila, for which there is a separate database.

RUSSIA – CHURCH. Nearly half a million browsable records have been added to a free FamilySearch.org collection of church books for Tatarstan, Russia (1721-1939). These are described as “images of births and baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials performed by priests of the Russian Orthodox Church in the republic of Tatarstan.” More records are being added as they are available.

UKRAINE – CHURCH. Another 205,000 browsable records have been added to a free FamilySearch.org collection of church book duplicates for Kyiv, Ukraine (1734-1920).

U.S. – MICHIGAN – MARRIAGES. FamilySearch.org has added more than 60,000 indexed names to its collection of Michigan county marriage records (1820-1940) and another 2000+ names to its collection of Michigan church marriage records (1865-1931).

Share BoldThanks for sharing this post about new genealogy records online with your genealogy buddies on your favorite social media sites! We love spreading good news.

 

Free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 191

GGP 191

The free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 191 has been published. You’ll hear German genealogy records online, best apps for local history, Google research success stories and MORE!

I’m pleased to announce that the free Genealogy Gems podcast episode 191 is now published and available for your listening pleasure.

My favorite segments of the show are host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke’s conversations she had on the road at recent conferences with two genealogy experts:

james beidlerFirst, you’ll hear from German expert Jim Beidler about some of the new German resources coming online and how to use them. I love his tips for understanding the difference between the types of records you’ll find, like original church records versus duplicates, abstracts or transcripts.

amy johnson crow interview rootstech 2Then you’ll hear Lisa’s conversation with Amy Crow from RootsTech. It’s fun to hear them get excited about genealogy apps they love! Amy shares four favorite apps for local history. Don’t miss these! Some were totally new to me.

More highlights from this episode include:

  • An inspiring Google research success story from an inspiring young family historian;
  • Tips on organizing Evernote notebooks;
  • A big new update from AncestryDNA with Diahan Southard;
  • Thoughts on The Summer Before the War with Sunny Morton;
  • Upcoming Canadian genealogy conferences;
  • Lisa’s next live-streaming sessions and other genealogy news.

Click here to listen to the Genealogy Gems podcast episode 191. OR….

get the appClick here to get the Genealogy Gems app. In addition to how easy it is to listen, Genealogy Gems app users get access to unique BONUS content in several episodes. Bonus content for this episode: an extra segment about several National Archives websites, with a spotlight on the U.S. and mention of sites for Canada, the U.K., and Australia.

Discover Your House History: “If These Walls Could Speak”

house historyA “house history” can tell you more about the house you live in–or your ancestor’s home. Here’s how.

Are you curious about the history of the house you live in, or would you like to trace the history of a family property? The online article “How to Research Your Home’s Past” by Charity Vogel has some great ideas. It’s not written for family historians, but I like some of the ideas it suggests:

1. Pull a full history of home ownership off your deed. (Historical deeds may not have these. But each deed does represent a link in the chain of property ownership: you should be able to move forward and backward in time in deed records until you’ve listed all owners.)

2. Use census records to learn more about other folks who lived in your home. Remember you’ll be able to see how many people lived there, and, for some census years, whether they owned or rented.

3. Watch for unusual patterns of ownership. For example, a deed showed sisters co-owning a home in the 1930s. Additional research showed that the sisters were nurses and ran the house as a community hospital. How cool is that to know about a house?

4. If it was a grand or unusual home, see whether the newspapers covered its construction. The author of the article found an 1898 article that detailed the entire five-month building process of her house!

Last year I shared an applicable research strategy in my blog post A Shocking Family Secret, and 3 Powerful Newspaper Research Tips about researching our ancestors and where they lived. By searching on their home address, and not including their name,  you can uncover “a kind of house history set of search results, revealing who lived there before, descriptions of the home and its contents and who moved in after your ancestors left. In my case, I located an article about the Cooke home (by the address) being up for sale several years before they owned it. That article included a fairly detailed description of the property. The final article found in the British newspapers was also found only by address (as the Cooke name wasn’t mentioned) and it detailed the contents of their household up for sale. The auction was held in preparation for their move to Canada.” (Click here to learn more about finding your family history in newspapers.)

While looking for more on this topic, I came across a great newspaper article about three researchers who specialize in house histories. They said that in addition to the personal satisfaction of knowing about a family home, “A bit of history and story makes it much easier to sell: it attracts a certain buyer.”

Here are a few more helpful resources, if you’d like to research your house history:

google earth for genealogy landmark findMore House History Gems: Researching a Family Residence

Ancestral Landmark Discovery with Google Earth

How to Find a Family Address: 4 Steps to Using Google Earth for Genealogy

Was This My Ancestor’s Neighborhood?

Thumbs-Up: AncestryDNA Improves Genetic Matching Technology

ancestrydna matches improvedDouble good news: AncestryDNA has made some improvements to the way they calculate your genetic matches, but they haven’t messed with the site format or layout. There is one downside–so keep reading.

Change is afoot at AncestryDNA. Again.

While stability and predictability seem like honorable qualities in a company or product, when it comes to tech tools, in the ears of tech companies, those words sound more like dated and old. Of course, we are used to this by now. I had a client tell me recently that he wanted to be in touch sooner, but his grandson “upgraded” his computer to Windows 10 and then promptly left for college the next day, leaving him fighting with a new interface and operating system.

The good news is, you won’t have this problem with Ancestry’s new update. There aren’t any changes to the interface or the layout of the information. In fact, many of you will not even notice at first that your match list has changed. You’ll just see this notification when you log in:

AncestryDNA match improvement announcement

But in fact, there likely have been some adjustments made to your match results:

  • Some of your third cousins have been demoted to fourth cousins.
  • Some of your fourth cousins have been demoted to 5th-8th cousins.
  • Some of your Distant Cousins have disappeared off your match list
  • You have new cousins on your Distant Cousin match list.

In general, from what Ancestry has showed us, you gain more than you lose.

Changes in the dregs of your match list may not seem like that big of a deal. But Ancestry has made some big changes in the way that they are calculating matches. They are getting better at it. Which means you match list is now more representative of your ancestral connections, even at the very distant level.

There are two big pieces to this matching puzzle that Ancestry has tinkered with in this latest update: phasing and matching.

You will remember our discussion on DNA phasing and how it can impact your matching. Ancestry has developed a robust reference database of phased DNA in order to better phase our samples. Basically, they have looked through their database at parent-child duos and trios and noted that certain strings of DNA values often travel together. It’s like they have noticed that our DNA says “A black cat scared the mouse” instead of  “The brown cat ate the mouse” and they can then recognize that phrase in our DNA, which in turn helps our DNA tell the true story of our heritage.

In addition to updating the phasing, Ancestry has revamped their matching method. In the past they viewed our DNA in small windows of information, and then stitched those windows together to try to get a better picture of what our DNA looked like. Now instead they have turned to a point-by-point analysis of our DNA. Again to use a sentence example, with the window analysis we may have the following sentence windows:

ack and J

ill went t

he hill t

etch a pai

l of water.

AncestryDNA match comparisonOf those windows, you may share the “etch a pai” with another individual in the database, earning that cousin a spot on your match page. However, the truth is, that bit could say “sketch a painting” or “stretch a painful leg” or “fetch a pail.” With Ancestry’s new method, they are able to see farther on either side of the matching segment, making this clearly “fetch a pail.” That means better matching, which means more confidence in your cousin matches.

The downside to this update is going to come in the reorganization of some of your relationships. Ancestry has tightened their genetic definition of your third and fourth cousins. Basically, that means that some of your true 3rd cousins are going to show up as 4th cousins, and some of your true 4th cousins are going to be shifted down into the abyss of 5th-8th cousins.

This brings us to the downside of this AncestryDNA update: changes to the Shared Matches tool. The shared matches tool allows you to gather matches in the database that are related to you and one other person, provided you are all related at the 4th cousin level or higher. This tightening of the belt on 4th cousins means that some of them are going to drop through the cracks of that tool, really limiting its ability. Grr. Hopefully Ancestry will fix that, and expand this tool to include all of your matches. They have their fairly good reasons for this, but still….

So, as the winds of change blow yet another iteration of the AncestryDNA match page, I think we can see this as an overall win for doing genealogy with our genetics at Ancestry.

More AncestryDNA Gems

AncestryDNA circles not connectionsWhen DNA Circles DON’T Mean Connections on AncestryDNA

Confused by Your AncestryDNA Matches? Read This Post

AncestryDNA Works Toward Genetics + Genealogy Integration


 

Census Research Tip: Why Look at the Same Thing Twice

census research tipWhen may it pay off to look at the same records or indexes twice? When you can compare them on different genealogy websites. Here’s an example for this census research tip.

You’ve probably noticed that some record sets are available online at multiple websites. At each site, the images and indexes you find may be a little different. Online tools for viewing and searching at each site may also be different.

For example, a digitized image may be faded, dark, blurry, blotchy, cut off, or otherwise unreadable on one website but clearer on another site. Here are two images from the first few lines of the 1880 U.S. Federal Census taken in Bay Minette, Baldwin, Alabama. The first image comes from HeritageQuest Online (available at public libraries) and the second is from Ancestry.com. See the difference?

Alabama census image HeritageQuest census research tip

alabama census image ancestry census research tip

As you can see, depending on which line you’re reading, one image may be clearer than another.

Here’s another census research tip: The online tools available at each site are different, too. At HeritageQuest Online, you can view the image at original size, 200% or 400%, and you can look at the image as a negative, which sometimes helps faded text stand out a little more. Ancestry.com lets you zoom in and out, magnify specific areas, and rotate the image or view it in mirror form (in case you’re trying to read backward text bleeding through from the other side).

HeritageQuest Online improvesMore Gems for Online Genealogy Research

HeritageQuest Online Gets Better with Ancestry’s Support

4 Tips for Getting the Most out of Ancestry.com

Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 125: HeritageQuest Online, Ancestry Library edition and other great genealogy resources at the public library (Available only to Genealogy Gems Premium website members)

 

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineHere’s this week’s roundup of new genealogy records online: Australia, France, New Zealand and, in the U.S., records for AK, CO, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, NH, NY, PA and WI.

AUSTRALIA – NORTHERN TERRITORY – PROBATE. Ancestry.com has a new probate index (1911-1994) for Northern Territory, Australia. The collection includes images of an index “organized first by year range, then alphabetically by surname and given name.”

FRANCE – MILITARY. FamilySearch.org has published a new online index to military conscription records for Saône-et-Loire (1867-1940). Privacy restrictions apply to those born less than 120 years ago.

NEW ZEALAND – PROBATE. More than 350,000 browsable records (and over 10,000 indexed records) have been added to a free FamilySearch.org collection of New Zealand probate records (1843-1998). Original records are sourced from Archives New Zealand offices in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

US – VARIOUS – MARINE. Over 315,000 records are part of a new Ancestry.com collection of applications for seaman’s protection certificates, (1916-1940).

US – VARIOUS – MARRIAGE. Findmypast.com announced the addition of around 10 million additional U.S. marriage records to its growing online collection. According to a press release, “This second installment includes significant additions from Indiana, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Maine.” Nearly a million of these are new to online publication and, at least for now, exclusive to Findmypast. (The collection is part of a FamilySearch partnership.)

US – VARIOUS – PROBATE. Ancestry.com has updated its collections of wills and probate records for Wisconsin, Maryland and Colorado. Coverage by time period and county varies.

US – ARKANSAS – CIVIL WAR. About 172,000 indexed records have been added to a free FamilySearch collection of Arkansas Ex-Confederate Pension Records (1891-1939).

US – MASSACHUSETTS – TOWN CLERK RECORDS. FamilySearch has added nearly half a million indexed names to its free online collection, Massachusetts Town Clerk Vital and Town Records 1626-2001. A new related collection of Massachusetts town records is also available on FamilySearch.

US – NEW HAMPSHIRE. Over 100,000 indexed records have been added to a free FamilySearch.org collection of New Hampshire Birth Certificates (1901-1909). According to the collection description, “Records consist of index cards that give the town and date of the event and often much more information.”

sign up newsletterNew genealogy records appear online by the millions every week. Keep current by subscribing to the free weekly Genealogy Gems email newsletter. The newsletter comes with a free e-book by Lisa Louise Cooke on Google search strategies you can use to find MORE genealogy records online that you need. Simply enter your email address in the box at the top of this webpage where it says “Sign up.”

 

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