March 3, 2015

Genealogy Blogging, the Future of Genealogy and More

elegant_clock_spinning_hands_300_wht_16121 (1)As much as we genealogists love to look to the past, we have to swivel our necks frequently to keep an eye toward the future. That’s why I like the new Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 119!

In this episode, Lisa talks to us about why capturing the past in genealogy blogging is actually an investment in the future. Fire up your enthusiasm for beginning or continuing a genealogy blog with her 5 Reasons You Should Have a Genealogy Blog. Then check out her quick and practical how-to advice–and a link to a fantastic FREE in-depth resource for genealogy blogging.

Then a special guest joins Lisa to talk about the future of genealogy. I always enjoy chatting with Maureen Taylor, best known as “The Photo Detective.” Of course, Maureen has a lot to say about technologies for archiving pictures. Check out the links she recommends in this episode!

You’ll also hear about our next featured title for the Genealogy Gems Book Club: international bestseller Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. You won’t want to miss this riveting read. It actually fits the podcast theme, too: the narrative goes back and forth between the life of a young orphan train raider in the early 1900s and the unfolding life of a teenager in foster care today.

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastThis podcast episode is only available to Genealogy Gems Premium subscribers. Click here to learn more about the benefits of subscribing, including a full year’s access to the entire Premium podcast archive (now online!) as well as full-length videos on topics like Evernote for genealogy, Google searching and Google Earth, hard drive organization and more.

 

 

Find Your Family History in New York: September 2015 Conference

NYSFHC Logo 2015New  York can be a fascinating but frustrating place to research your roots. Learn new skills to find your family history in New York at the second New York State Family History Conference in Syracuse, NY, September 17–19, 2015.

From an FGS press release:

“The Central New York Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society are cosponsoring the 2015 New York Family History Conference.  This year’s event will also be a Federation of Genealogical Societies Regional Conference.

The three-day conference will be held September 17–19 at the Holiday Inn & Conference Center Liverpool, just outside Syracuse, New York.  It will attract hundreds of researchers—both amateur and professional—and top experts in the field.

Nationally known speakers, Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL, The Legal Genealogist; Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, FASG; David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA, FamilySearch.org; Curt B. Witcher, Allen County Public Library; D. Joshua Taylor, Findmypast.com and President, Federation of Genealogical Societies; Dick Eastman, author and publisher; James D. Folts, Ph.D., New York State Archives; Henry B. Hoff, FGBS, editor of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register; Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., The Genetic Genealogist; Ed Donakey, FamilySearch.org, VP of FGS; Eric G. Grundset, Library Director, DAR Library; Jim Ison, CG, FamilySearch.org; Matt Knutzen, New York Public Library; Jen Baldwin, Findmypast.com; and, New York-specialist, professional genealogists Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG, FGBS; Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS; Terry Koch-Bostic and Jane E. Wilcox will give lectures.

Attendees will have an opportunity to advance their skills in researching New York families, to build general skills and through 30 lectures in three parallel tracks and learn ways to build their local genealogical and historical societies through the FGS Focus on Societies day. In addition there will be three luncheons and a dinner, all with riveting speakers; and open-to-the-public Society Showcase; and exhibits by vendors and societies.

Registration is now open online. The registration fee for the three-day conference (excluding meals and printed syllabus) is $140 for the first 75 registrants (available through March 31 or until sold out); members of the CNYGS or the NYG&B receive a $25 discount. The conference program and exhibitor information may be found on the conference website, www.NYSFHC.org.”

BillionGraves Apps: iOS Update and Windows Beta

billiongraves appBillionGraves has announced an overhaul to the BillionGraves app for iOS (to be released shortly) and a new Windows app that’s ready for beta-testing (keep reading to see how you can test it!). 

The following is quoted from a BillionGraves press release:

BillionGraves app iOS 4.0

“This isn’t just a new app with a few new bells and whistles. This app completely changes how users can utilize the app to perform functions that have been found only on the website. 

In the past the app was primarily designed for users taking photos while providing minimal tools for the researchers who are looking for their ancestors. This release adds tools to better search, edit, add, and manage BG records from the mobile device! Make sure you have enabled the auto updating feature on your iOS device to get the new version the second it is available! We will have new tutorials and support explaining every step of the way! Join us on our community page for helpful tips and tricks as the new app is released by Apple!

BillionGraves for Windows in Beta

“After countless requests from our users around the world for a Windows version of the BillionGraves app, we have one ready to release to the public for testing! This is exciting news as many of our overseas users have a growing increase in Windows based phones. This will greatly assist in the world-wide expansion of the BillionGraves index.

Now that we have a Windows app ready for testing, we are putting a call out to all our users with a Windows phone to help us test these new features before putting it on the Windows store. To participate, send an email to windows@billiongraves.com with your full name, type of windows device (Nokia phone, etc) and Windows email address. Once we receive your email, you will receive an invite to our beta testing group and given a link to download the application. Then visit the cemetery and report any feedback from your experience so we can make quick adjustments and release our Windows app to the world!”

New Celebs Announced for WDYTYA 2015

WDYTYA logoThe popular, two-time Emmy-nominated television series Who Do You Think You Are? returns to TLC on Sunday, March 8 (10pm EST/9pm CST in the U.S.) with the family history stories of four fabulous celebs:

  • Melissa Etheridge, who heads to Quebec to trace the history of her paternal side, learns about the scandalous marriage of her 6x great-grandparents.
  • America Ferrera, who brings the series to Honduras for the first time ever, learns about the father she barely knew, and unravels her great-grandfather’s role in the violent Central American political system.
  • Tony Goldwyn, who is familiar with his prestigious paternal Hollywood lineage, but knows little about his mother’s side of the family. In his episode, he comes to learn about his 3x great-grandparents, who fought for women’s rights and westward expansion.
  • Josh Groban, who discovers his 8x great-grandfather was a highly educated and renowned scientist that studied astronomy, and was quoted by Isaac Newton himself.

Previously-announced celebrity guests on WDYTYA 2015 are Julie Chen, Angie Harmon, Bill Paxton and Sean Hayes. The current episode lineup looks like this, so mark your calendars!

  • March 8           Julie Chen
  • March 15         Josh Groban
  • March 22         Angie Harmon
  • March 29         Sean Hayes
  • April 5              Tony Goldwyn
  • April 12            America Ferrera
  • April 19            Bill Paxton
  • April 26            Melissa Etheridge

Orphan Train: More Genealogists are Talking About It!

genealogy book clubGuess what? The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania has also been covering Orphan Train as a book club selection!

Their format’s a little different than ours: they have weekly blog posts on the book and members are invited to get together over coffee and chat about it. The blog posts are part plot summary, part personal response, and even part genealogy and history instruction! Check out these posts:

genealogy book club genealogy gemsWhat do you think of Orphan Train? Post your response on our Facebook page or email us with your comments. We’d love to hear them!

Click here to go to our Genealogy Gems Book Club page, with more about Orphan Train and other great titles we have featured on the show.

My Most Amazing Find Ever: Family History on YouTube! (No Kidding!)

I recently read Lisa Louise Cooke’s all-new edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition. I use Google every day and this book has so many helpful new search tips! But I was skeptical about her chapter on finding your family history on YouTube. So skeptical that I immediately opened YouTube to prove her wrong. Can you guess how this ends?

Following one of her tips, I entered an ancestral hometown and state and the word “history.” The fourth search result made my mouth drop open:

This is a 1937 newsreel showing my husband’s great-grandfather, Andrew O’Hotnicky, driving his fire truck with his dog Chief! Though Andrew’s not named, I can prove it’s him. He was the driver at the Olyphant Hose Co #2 during this time. Photos of him match the driver’s face. I have stories and a newspaper clipping about his dog, Chief. A distant relative watched the newsreel and confirmed his identity–and said a young man riding on the side of the truck was Andrew’s son Bill.

My father-in-law never knew his grandfather Andrew, who died before he was born. Imagine how thrilled he was to watch that newsreel! I was just as thrilled to find it. I’ve spent years researching Andrew’s family (click here to read an article about him).

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverOnly by following Lisa’s suggestions in the new edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition did I make my best family history find EVER!

My own tip: search YouTube for relatives you already know something about. That way you will recognize them (from pictures or stories) when you see them. A lot of old footage won’t have names with it. I had to know who I was looking at. Once you find something, tag it with your relative’s name. You never know who will connect with you that way (check out the comments section in the above video)!

What can you learn about YOUR family history on YouTube or anywhere in the Google world? Learn how to search widely, deeply and effectively online in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.

Adoptees Reunited with Birth Families: TV Special on TLC

LA new one-hour TV special, Long Lost Family, will air on TLC on Sunday, March 1 at 10:00 pm EST /9:00 pm Central in the U.S. Here’s the storyline about two adoptees reunited with birth families, from a press release from TLC:

“Hoping to find their biological families, two adoptees team up with hosts Chris Jacobs and Lisa Joyner to embark on an emotional journey…through the ups and downs of trying to track down loved ones they’re so anxious to meet.

  • Christopher Hanson hasn’t seen his mother in 30 years. After being left in a grocery store parking lot when he was only 6-years-old, Christopher has been haunted by this memory for most of his life and has always longed to reunite with his mother. Eventually adopted by a loving family, Christopher is desperate to unlock the mysteries of what happened on that day and discover exactly why he never saw his mom again.
  • Paula, a 54-year-old grandmother of 10, knows very little about her biological family. She is longing to meet them and find out why her parents kept her for a few days, only to give her up and never reach out again.

[As adoptees themselves, hosts] Chris and Lisa are uniquely poised to provide emotional support and guidance as [Christopher and Paula] brace for the rigors of this difficult search. Hitting so close to home for both Chris and Lisa, the two will stop at nothing to try and give Christopher and Paula the news both so desperately want to know.”

Ancestry teamed up with TLC to sponsor Long Lost Family. Ancestry provided the AncestryDNA kits used by the two adoptees to confirm their biological families and access to records on Ancestry.com to help Christopher and Paula.

If you watch it, let us know what you thought of it! Post on our Facebook face.

What you need to know about Google Earth Pro

earth_keyOn January 28, 2015 Google announced that Google Earth PRO is now available for FREE! Not just a free trial. Google is allowing everyone to get a free key to Google Earth Pro!

In the past the software fee was hundreds of dollars. But now you can get Google Earth Pro for free and gain the ability to do things like “measure 3D buildings, print high-resolution images for presentations or reports, and record HD movies” inside Google Earth.To get your free key to Google Earth Pro sign up here. After submitting the form, you will be emailed the free license key. Copy the license key from the email, then click the link provided to download Google Earth Pro app for PC and Mac.

 

Everything I’ve taught you about using Google Earth still applies, but now you have more tools than ever!

 

Since I announced this in the last Genealogy Gems Newsletter, I’ve received several questions. Here’s what you need to know about Google Earth Pro:

 

From Sheri: “I did get it to finally work…..instead of my phone number running together….I added the dashes between the numbers and then it went through.  FYI….in case you hear an issue from others.”

 

google earth pro downloadThanks for the tip Sheri. Most likely the problem you were running into after the big announcement that Google Earth Pro went free was the sheer amount of traffic the site received. Googlers swarmed the site, and any people found it took several attempts to get a successful download. As time passes, it should get quicker and easier to download.

 

From Kathy: “I downloaded the Google Earth Pro BUT now I have regular and Pro on my computer and all the spots marked in regular seemed to have transferred to Pro—Question—should I now uninstall the regular version?”

 

Answer: That decision is really up to you. I’ve decided to keep both for a while, but only do work from this point forward in Pro. If in a few months everything is still running smoothly, then I will probably delete the old free version just to free up disk space on my computer. For now, it certainly doesn’t hurt to leave  it there.

 

The good news is that both programs appear to pull from the same files on your computer. This means that when you create a file in Pro, you will also see it in your Places panel in the free version.

 

Question from Dea: “I downloaded Google Earth Pro on my main computer.  I now want to use the same license key for my laptop and android, as I signed up for 2 to 5 users.  I assumed that I could use the same license key.  When I tried to sign up on my laptop it said I already was a user, but do not know how I can access it from my laptop. Help!”

 

Answer: Although the sign up page asks how many users will be using the program, my understanding is that each download key is for one device. I would guess that the user question is about how many people might be using the application on that device. (Unfortunately the website isn’t clear on this point.) I’m basing this on the fact that when it was a paid version, you had to purchase a license key for each device.

 

As with the original free version of Google Earth, each device you download Google Earth to has it’s own unique Places Panel. In other words, files you create on your desktop computer don’t show up on your laptop. This is because the files are stored on that particular device and not on the Cloud (for privacy reasons).

 

So the bottom line is that to get another license key for another device you will need to use a different email. If you only have one email address, you could create a second free email in Gmail just to have an email you can use.

 

Dea’s Reply: “Thank you for such a prompt reply.  I am sure there must be more than one of you.  I do not know how you get so much accomplished….saw you at Midwest Roots in Indianapolis and, again, at a webinar for our Genealogy Society in Terre Haute, IN.  You are an excellent speaker, teacher as well as entertaining.”

Lisa: Now I’m blushing!!

 

Answers to more questions:

Do you really need Google Earth Pro? Probably not, because Pro was created originally for businesses. However there are some pretty cool extras that you get by going Pro:

  • Movie-Maker: Export Windows Media and QuickTime HD movies, up to 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution. (Sweet!)
  • High-resolution printing: Print images up to 4,800 x 3,200 pixel resolution. (The free version max: 1,000 pixels.)
  • Spreadsheet import: Ingest up to 2,500 addresses at a time, assigning place marks and style templates in bulk. (My geeky side is getting giddy!)
  • Exclusive pro data layers: Demographics, parcels, and traffic count.
  • Advanced measurements: Measure parking lots and land developments with polygon area measure, or determine affected radius with circle measure.

Resources:genealogy television and video

Want to learn more about using Google Earth specifically for genealogy? Check out this free video class.

Google Earth for Genealogy and Toolbox bundleAnd there are several chapters on using Google Earth for genealogy in my brand new book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition (2015). You can pick up as a special bundle here with my 2 disc DVD set Google Earth for Genealogy.

DNA was a HOT Topic at RootsTech 2015!

DNA YDNA genetic genealogy social networkingNavigating the exhibit hall at RootsTech 2015 was often quite a feat! It was especially crowded around the booths for the two DNA testing companies represented, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry.com.  There were people standing around swabbing their mouths, ready to see what their DNA can tell them about their family history.

This is exciting news for us. The more people that test, the more we can learn: collectively, as a genetic genealogy community, and personally, as we make connections with genetic cousins.

Further evidence that the genetic and genealogy communities are forming a tight bond is the announcement of a partnership by Family Tree DNA and FindMyPast.  Currently the agreement is for discounted testing, but hopefully that will blossom into some badly needed genealogical tools for Family Tree DNA customers.

Ancestry was not about to be left out of the excitement! Among their other product updates announced this week that they will be enhancing their DNA Circles experience.  Soon you will be a part of DNA circles that center around an ancestor that is not currently found in your pedigree chart (but maybe should be!).

Add that to the news a few months ago that MyHeritage will provide pedigree assistance to customers at testing company 23andMe, and we can surmise that genetics is now a permanent resident in genealogy. The 23andMe/My Heritage partnership will rely on pedigree data being added to MyHeritage by 23andMe customers, which will hopefully ultimately lead more people to post their genealogy online, which is very much lacking in the current offering by 23andMe.

Genealogy DNA Quick Reference Guides Cheat SheetsExciting times are ahead! Get tested–and learn to how use your results meaningfully in your genealogy research. If you need help, check out my DNA quick guides.

 

For some personal coaching, contact me through my website: YourDNAGuide.com.

New Interactive Exhibit Brings Family History to the Public: FamilySearch Discovery Center

FS Discovery CenterWouldn’t it be great if you could bring your loved ones to a state-of-the art, museum-quality interactive exhibit that introduces them to their own family history?

Now you can! A “prototype” FamilySearch Discovery Center was unveiled yesterday in downtown Salt Lake City in conjunction with RootsTech 2015. Visitors are handed a tablet computer and sent around to seven stations. At each they dock their tablet, which has their FamilySearch login programmed, and experience different aspects of history with their own family history data.

You can see your family’s international migration through the generations; superimpose yourself in historical costumes from several nations; check out the history and popularity of your first and last names; and enter a “time machine” with 3D historical re-creations of ancestral kitchens throughout the years. One of my favorite stations was one I almost skipped: the personal history interview in a private booth. You choose your life season, from child to senior, and a virtual interviewer appears on the screen and asks you a series of questions, which are recorded. All the data is later sent to you through your FamilySearch/email accounts.

For now you can only experience this in Salt Lake City. But this exhibit is meant to be replicated in major venues, and indeed has been booked for at least two so far in Seattle and Philadelphia, says FamilySearch CEO Dennis Brimhall. He chatted with me as I toured and confirmed that they are experimenting with this exhibit in different sizes and scales. He hopes to see versions of the FamilySearch Discovery Center one day in museums, libraries, archives, and heritage centers around the world. “We haven’t done a really good job of bridging the general public into family history,” he admitted. This exhibit concept is a big step toward changing that.

As for myself, I love what they’re doing. I would love even more to see them customized for regional audiences, which it sounds like is part of the plan. If you’re in Salt Lake, it’s absolutely worth checking out. Just bring your relatives–preferably the ones who are now the LEAST interested in family history!