July 30, 2014

Join the Crowd: International Indexing Challenge THIS Sunday

join_the_puzzle_crowd_400_wht_10889FamilySearch is hosting a worldwide crowd-sourcing challenge aimed at establishing a new record for the most volunteer indexing participants online in a single day.

The challenge will take place during the 24-hour period beginning at 6:00 p.m. (MDT in Utah, USA) on Sunday, July 20. (Local start times and status updates can be found on the FamilySearch Facebook event page.) Already one of the largest and most successful volunteer transcription programs in history, FamilySearch indexing is looking to top its one-day record of 49,025 individual contributors.

“Our stated goal is 50,000 volunteers participating in a single day, though we think the potential exists to surpass that mark by a considerable amount,” said Mike Judson, indexing workforce manager for FamilySearch. “All it takes to be counted in the record is to submit one batch. With hundreds of thousands of past indexing volunteers and thousands more joining weekly, breaking the record won’t take much if people will commit to spend the 30 minutes or so required to finish and submit a batch.”

Indexing  is the process of transcribing information from historical documents to make them freely searchable online at FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch indexers perform the initial transcribing of names from home or wherever they can connect to the Internet. FamilySearch arbitrators (advanced indexers) check to ensure consistency and accuracy. Since FamilySearch indexing started in 2006, this crowdsourcing effort has produced more than one billion freely searchable records that have helped millions of people to find their ancestors.

The prior record of 49,025 indexers and arbitrators in a single day was set on July 2, 2012. To be counted in the new record, each indexer or arbitrator must submit at least one indexing or arbitration batch during the 24-hour period. Volunteers and potential volunteers can visit https://familysearch.org/indexing/ to learn more.

Indexing projects are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Polish, Swedish, Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. Volunteers are invited to work on any project but are strongly encouraged to work in their native language.

FREE WWI Genealogy Records on MyHeritage.com (Just in July!)

MH_logo_VerticalTo commemorate 100 years since WWI, MyHeritage has granted free access to various record collections from now through the end of July. Were your ancestors among those who fought? Learn more about their service by searching hundreds of thousands of WWI military records.

Enjoy FREE access to these collections until the end of July:

Silver War Badge Recipients, 1914 – 1918

British Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914 – 1919

The National Roll of the Great War, 1914 – 1918

Tennessee WWI Veterans

Ireland’s Memorial Records, 1914 – 1918

Royal Navy and Royal Marine Casualties, 1914 – 1919

De Ruvigny’s Roll Of Honour 1914-1924

Distinguished Conduct Medal Citations 1914 – 1920

British Officers Taken as Prisoners of War, 1914 – 1918

British Military Officers

Victoria Cross Recipients, 1854 – 2006

You can also search all their military collections in one go.

Discover the wartime roles your relatives played in our online record database of WWI military records. This free offer ends July 31, so start your search today!

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 169: Blast from the Past–Episode 14

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryGenealogy Gems Podcast Episode 169 has been published–and it’s a blast from the past! I’ve re-published original Genealogy Gems episode 14, inspired by a passage from my grandmother’s journal: a list of the silent films she saw that year and the actors who starred in them.

grandmas diary silent film

Just like today, the stars who light up the silver screen were mimicked and followed for fashion trends, hair styles, decorating ideas, and moral behavior. Understanding who the role models were at the time gives us a better understanding of the cultural influences of the era.  Films are NOT primary resources, but they certainly paint a picture of life at any given time in history.

In this episode, I find out more about the silent movies my grandmother catalogued in her diary, and how they molded a generation. You’ll catch a glimpse of the silent movie era and how it was an integral part of your ancestors’ lives.  You’ll also learn how to find silent movies to watch for yourself!

 

 

German Newspapers in America: Read All About Them!

custom_classifieds_12091Do you have German roots in the U.S.? Have you ever looked for them in newspapers?

The folks who run Chronicling America, the most comprehensive free collection of digitized U.S. newspapers, have published a new article on historical German newspapers. Here’s an excerpt:

“For decades, Germans were the largest non-English-speaking immigrant group in America. Between 1820 and 1924, over 5.5 million German immigrants arrived in the United States, many of them middle class, urban, and working in the skilled trades, and others establishing farming communities in the West. Their numbers and dedication to maintaining their language and culture made Germans the most influential force in the American foreign-language press in the 1880s – the 800 German-language newspapers accounted for about 4/5 of non-English publications, and by 1890, more than 1,000 German newspapers were being published in the United States.” (Click here to read the whole article, which includes fascinating facts about how they retooled OCR technology to read Fraktur.)

Chronicling America currently includes 23 German-language titles from 9 states. You can search German newspapers in America (or other foreign languages) by going to the Advanced Search page. Under Language, select German (or another language):

Chronicling America Search by Language

How to Find Your Family History in NewspapersAre you interested in learning more about newspaper research, online or offline? Read Lisa’s How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, available as an e-book or in print. Or ask for it at your local library (if they don’t have it, they may be willing to purchase it–librarians are always looking for new titles their patrons want).

How to Set Up Google Alerts for Genealogy

google alertHow can you keep up with new online information on your family history that may appear at any moment? You can’t, unless you run constant searches on your web browser, and who’s got time for that? Google does! And it accomplish that incredible search  feat for you through Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is like having your own virtual research assistant! When you key in your favorite searches, Google Alerts will automatically email you when there are new Google results for your search terms.

1. Go to www.google.com/alerts.

2. Sign in to your Google account (or create one).

3. The first time you create an alert, click where it says, “You don’t have any Google Alerts. Try creating one.” Fill in the screen that pops up:

Google Alerts for Genealogy

4. Type in your search query. In the example above, I’ve entered my specific search:
Larson” “Winthrop” Minnesota.

5. Make selections to further refine your search alert:

  • The type of content you’re looking for: news, blogs, videos, discussions, books or everything.
  • How often you want to receive the alerts by email.
  • The type of results you want to get. You may want to receive all results, not just the best results which will give you an opportunity to see how your search does. You can always change settings later.

6. Enter the email address where you want the alert emails to be delivered. Google will alert you to new content when it is posted on the Web.

google toolbox bookLearn more about how to conduct effective Google searches for genealogy research, Google Alerts for genealogy, and more in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. 

Genealogy VideoGenealogy Gems Premium Members can also watch my full length Google search video classes:

  • Common Surname Search Secrets
  • Ultimate Google Search Strategies
  • Digging Deeper into Web Sites with Google Site Search

See the complete list of Premium video classes here.

Learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Membership here!

 

 

Living in the past? This woman is–1938, to be exact

living in the pastJust when you thought a claw-foot tub was the epitome of living in the past….

A historical consultant in Amsterdam is living in the past. To be more precise, she’s chosen to live like it’s 1938. Her apartment (except for the computer and the refrigerator) is entirely outfitted as if it’s 1938. She doesn’t have a television, she vacuums with a 1920s machine and she washes her clothes by hand.

She’s profiled here on Yahoo! Homes, where you can check out a slide show of her apartment.

What do you think about living in the past? If you could surround yourself with the trappings of an earlier decade, what would it be? What modern conveniences could you not live without?

TLC’s WDYTYA? New Sneak Peek Video & Honors for the Series

Rachel McAdams WDYTYA

Click Image for video page. Image courtesy of TLC

TLC’s WDYTYA? is about to start its 5th television season here in the U.S. but you can watch a new sneak peek video here. The video was posted yesterday on the Rachel Adams Online website. Rachel will be featured along with her sister in one of the new episodes.

Other celebrities featured this time around are:  This year’s line-up of participants includes Valerie Bertinelli, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kelsey Grammer, Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen McAdams, and Cynthia Nixon.

In other WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? news, it was announced today that the show has just received its second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Structured Reality Program for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

“We’re all so thrilled to have WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? recognized with another Emmy nomination. It was our first season on TLC, and every department was truly wonderful to work with. We’re thrilled with every episode we get to shoot, taking someone on a historical trip through their ancestral past, so this is a much appreciated nod to all the people who worked so hard to make it happen. We are thrilled that our audience has found the show and continued to appreciate it in our new collaboration with TLC,” said Executive Producers Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky.

The series is produced for TLC by Shed Media US and Is or Isn’t Entertainment. Executive Producers are Lisa Kudrow, Dan Bucatinsky, Alex Graham, Pam Healey and Al Edgington. For TLC Executive Producers are Howard Lee, Timothy Kuryak and Amy Winter.

The series premieres July 23 at 9/8c on TLC.

WWI 100 Year Anniversary: 5 Ways to Discover Your Family History in World War I

WWI 100 YearsThis summer, the world is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1. It’s hard to imagine any family that wasn’t touched by it in some way.

If you want to learn more, here are 5 great resources:

1. The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century website. This site was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in the U.S., so it approaches the war from an American perspective. A press release describes it as “an authoritative overview [of the War], one that covers the most important facts and interpretations, is well organized, visually appealing, and guided by sound scholarship.” The site is based on the award-winning, 8-part television series of the same name.

2. The National Archives First World War website. This is the U.K. National Archives, holder of “official UK government records of the First World War, including a vast collection of letters, diaries, maps and photographs.” On the site you can chat with a reader advisor, read (or help tag) war diaries, and more. They plan 5 years’ worth of programming to commemorate the war, so check back at the site regularly.

3. Look on FindMyPast.com for close to a half million British Airmens’ service records, now online. According to a press release, these “contain information about an individual’s peacetime and military career, as well as physical description, religious denomination and family status. Next of kin are also often mentioned.”  It’s free to search but there’s a small fee for downloading records.

4. 100 Years, 100 Legacies website (as shown above). The Wall Street Journal has selected 100 legacies of the Great War that continue to shape our lives, from plastic surgery to contraception and more. Check this out. It’s pretty fascinating!

5. The July/August 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine (U.S.). It’s got a World War I timeline, a guide to researching WWI military service records (U.S.), and how to research women’s service in the Great War. This is a really nice issue.

Check out these resources during the WWI 100 year anniversary and think about what other resources you may have missed: what’s in your own family memory, home archive (or your grandma’s attic) or available through another website you know?

New African American Oral History Collection at Library of Congress

mic_on_the_air_pc_800_4940A video archive of oral history interviews about African-American life, history and culture and struggles and achievements of the black experience in the United States has been donated to the Library of Congress.

It’s called the HistoryMakers archive, and it’s the single largest archival project of its kind since the WPA recordings of former slaves in the 1930s. According to a press release, “The collection includes 9,000 hours of content that includes 14,000 analog tapes, 3,000 DVDs, 6,000 born-digital files, 70,000 paper documents and digital files and more than 30,000 digital photographs.”

“The collection comprises 2,600 videotaped interviews with African-Americans in 39 states, averaging three to six hours in length. The videos are grouped by 15 different subject areas ranging from science, politics and the military to sports, music and entertainment.”

“The HistoryMakers archive provides invaluable first-person accounts of both well-known and unsung African-Americans, detailing their hopes, dreams and accomplishments—often in the face of adversity,” said James Billington, the Librarian of Congress. “This culturally important collection is a rich and diverse resource for scholars, teachers, students and documentarians seeking a more complete record of our nation’s history and its people.”

History Makers Archive website“The collection is one of the most well-documented and organized audiovisual collections that the Library of Congress has ever acquired,” said Mike Mashon, head of the Library’s Moving Image Section. “It is also one of the first born-digital collections accepted into our nation’s repository.”

This African American oral history archive was donated so it would be preserved and accessible to generations yet to come. However, this doesn’t mean the HistoryMakers organization is done gathering stories. According to the press release, “oral histories are continually being added to the growing archive. The oldest person interviewed was Louisiana Hines, who passed away in 2013 at 114. She was one of the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” workers during War World II. One of the youngest is a prima ballerina, Ayisha McMillan, who was 29 at the time of her interview.”

Visit the HistoryMakers Archive here.

Organize a Family Reunion on Facebook? 9 Tips You Can Use

FR 2

McClellan Family Reunion, Summer 2014, Cleveland, Ohio.

A couple weeks ago, I helped host 47 people at my family reunion here in Cleveland, Ohio. Local relatives made up about half the group: the rest flew and drove in from Arkansas, Nevada and Washington state. We spent 4 days splashing in Lake Erie, driving through the countryside, visiting an Amish-run cheese house and local historic sites, kayaking, hiking in the woods, wading in the sparkling shallows of the Cuyahoga River, and visiting, eating, and visiting some more (and then eating some more). The fundraising auction in my backyard raised such an ruckus that neighbors at the other end of the block asked what in the WORLD was going on at our house that night.

One of the most surprising things about the reunion–other than my brother’s natural gifts as a comedian-auctioneer–was the degree to which it worked to communicate on Facebook. My grandparents were the only ones we needed to actually call about all the reunion plans. We sent no letters–not one!

Here are my 9 tips for organizing your family reunion on Facebook (mostly.) Some of these we did well and others we’ll do better in the future:

1. Make sure at least one member of each nuclear family is active on Facebook. You want a significant percent of relatives participating. If you’re family just isn’t on Facebook, look for other ways to be in touch (group text?).

2. Create a family Facebook page. Click here to learn how. This lets your family post reunion- and family-related items in your own secure group.

3. Reserve the date up to a year in advance. Suggest a time frame and/or a few specific dates on Facebook. Tag everyone on the post to get them to notice and respond. However, you may not get much response. At least in our family, people tend not to volunteer or comment if they’re not personally, directly being asked about something urgent. Once you’ve given people a reasonable amount of time to comment on your suggested dates (and consulted those not on Facebook), JUST PICK A DATE. Then post it (and call the non-Facebookers). Again, tag everyone so you know they see it.

4. Start advertising immediately. Those who travel some distance may need more incentive to come. It’s especially helpful when you can convince the in-laws that they want to come. Do this by catering to people’s interests and hobbies. Post pictures of places you plan to visit together, images of recipes you plan to serve, the website of the local golf course/shopping district/historic site/art gallery/amusement park or any other local attraction that might persuade people to make the trip (whether this is officially part of the reunion activities or not). Tag people in those posts and include URLs to attraction websites: “Uncle Albert, I know how much you love to golf. Why don’t you stay for an extra day and play 18 holes on this championship course?” In the media world, this is called creating “buzz.”

5. Encourage long-distance relatives to introduce themselves and their families. My aunts and uncles were amazed at how much the kids had all grown. They see us so infrequently that it was super helpful to post the kids’ names, updated pix and interests before the reunion. That way, they could talk to my son about his cello playing and my daughter about her upcoming 8th birthday. We’ve asked everyone to start sharing family news and events on the family page, not just their own page. That way we can capture the highlights of all the big family milestones before the next reunion.

6. Play travel agent. Post information about the local airport, bus route, hotels, etc, several months in advance. Encourage relatives to share their hotel information so they can stay together (hotel pool party!) or coordinate travel plans.

7. Post details about the upcoming gathering. What should people plan to bring, wear and do? Do they need to bring beach wear, walking shoes, an umbrella, a baby picture of themselves, or a T-shirt to decorate? Tell them on Facebook ahead of time. Post the initial meeting place and time, along with its address (almost EVERYONE, including the over-60s used GPS to get around while they were here). You can hand out the rest of the itinerary at the reunion, if you need to.

FR 18. Post DURING the reunion. Offer a prize for the best picture posted during the reunion (or the most pictures posted). That tells everyone at home what they’re missing while building excitement among attendees and preserving memories for the future. When uncles are tagging their nephews in photos (and vice versa), they’re building relationships. Remembering names. “Friend-ing.” I don’t suggest posting last-minute changes in plans: when traveling, not everyone makes Facebook-checking a priority. Only do this if everyone knows to check the Facebook page frequently during your gathering.

9. Follow up. Is everyone supposed to send a donation to the reunion fund afterward, mail a card to the great-aunt who couldn’t make it, or share all their reunion pictures on a photo-sharing site? Thank the reunion hosts, planners and those who sacrificed a lot (in time or money) to be present. When is the next reunion? Whoever’s planning the next one can pick up where you left off.

facebook Family reunionHave you used Facebook to get the word out about a family reunion? Share your experiences and learning at our the Genealogy Gems Podcast Facebook Page.