December 22, 2014

Evernote for Family History: Organizing and Tagging Your Data

Evernote for GenealogyRecently Richard wrote in with great questions on using Evernote for family history. “Thank you for ‘reinvigorating’ my interest in my family history,” he says. “I watched [your Legacy Family Tree webinar] on Evernote twice and I am now a Premium user thanks to the video. I’m following many of your suggestions, but have a few questions.”

Here’s our Q & A on using Evernote for family history:

Q: “Creating a set of useful tags assumes that in the future you will want to extract data based upon those tags. Since in many cases you don’t have the data yet, and can’t know what you want to retrieve (kind of a “Back to the Future” scenario), do you have any suggestions on specific tags?  Here are a couple I’m thinking of using and I’d appreciate your opinion:  Census year — Birth year – Death year – Civil Records – Church Records.”

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideA: Yes, I provide a list on my Evernote for Genealogists quick reference guide that follows along the lines you are already going (focusing on record types). I recommend keeping tag names simple so there is less clutter in the left hand column of Evernote. i.e. Birth, Census, Death, Immigration, etc.  I also tend to have location tags such as states and/or counties in anticipation of opportunities to do research in those areas. If I’m going to make a trip to Randolph County, it would be convenient to access all related notes regardless of family or time frame with one click of a tag.

Originally I created notebooks for each major surname in my tree, but I recommend tags now. I reserve notebooks for high level topics and projects—particularly projects I anticipate wanting to work with others on. It’s very convenient to simply share a notebook. There are five Evernote videos that are part of Premium membership that go in to all the details. You’ll find the list here.

Q: “Do you tag individual surnames in your notes?  What about generations, i.e., Grandparents — Great-Grandparents — Great-Great-Grandparents, etc.”

A: I have laid out my organizational strategy in the Genealogy Gems Premium Membership videos “Hard Drive Organization” and have since elaborated on how I apply that method to Evernote in several Premium podcast episodes.

Q: “I noted in your video you do not clip most of your family photos. Do you clip full census sheets?

A: Yes. Anything to do with my research!

Q: I use Family Tree Maker, and subscribe to Ancestry.com. Once you have compiled all these notes, what and how do you include them into your tree?”

A: I cover this in Premium episode 96.

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastAs you can see, though I cover a lot of Evernote questions on my free Genealogy Gems website, a lot of his more detailed questions are addressed in members-only Premium content. Learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium membership here: all the great online videos and Premium podcast episodes you’ll be able to access for a full YEAR for less than the price of attending a single day at a genealogy conference!

Heritage Display: A Centerpiece for Your Holiday Table

heritage centerpieceRecently we heard from longtime listener and Premium member Linda in Sweden. She shared this creative conversation-starting centerpiece with us (see a link to her blog below for more pictures).
“My local genealogical society celebrated its 30-year old birthday last weekend with a nice dinner. On my to-do list was to make table placement cards for the board members. I wanted to do something more fun than an ordinary placement card.

I went to my local crafts shop and bought letters made of cardboard. I picked out letters which were the first letter in all board members’ names. Then I printed out scanned old photos of relatives I already had in my computer and glued them onto the letters. I also used some glitter glue to decorate and paper with nice patterns. On the bottom I wrote the date and the occasion and who the person in the picture was. I glued a tag with the board member’s name on it. It took a few hours to make nine of them.

At the dinner, at my table, we had a conversation about my L- letter and my grandmothers’ uncle Voldemar Verno from Estonia who was on it. I have also posted those pictures on my blog, cousinlinda.blogspot.com.”

Neat idea, Linda! Thanks for sharing with us. Visit my Pinterest boards for more creative heritage craft ideas, or click here to read more of my blog posts with heritage display and crafting ideas!

Mobile Friendly Search Results Come to Google

Googling on the Go mobile computing mobile friendly search resultsMobile friendly search is now within reach! If you Google-search on a mobile phone (or on a small tablet), you know how frustrating it can be to navigate some websites on the small screens. The text is too small, the links are too tiny to click on and you have to scroll around to read the entire page.

Recently, Google added a “mobile-friendly” search label to their results. It’s already available for the English language; additional languages and features will roll out in the coming weeks. According to Google, “mobile-friendly” sites avoid software not common on mobile devices; use text that’s readable without zooming, resize their screens so you don’t have to scroll across horizontally (you may still need to scroll vertically), and space links so you can tap each one without accidentally tapping the one next to it.

Here’s  what the search result will look like, if it’s mobile-friendly:

mobile friendly search results

We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience,” says the Google Webmaster Central Blog post on the topic. “We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”

If mobile friendly search results get prioritized in our searches (especially when we’re on mobile devices), imagine how that will motivate companies to make their websites easier to navigate on the small screen. It’s another leap forward for Googling-on-the-Go!

Genealogy_Tablet_iPadA Genealogy Gems Premium membership, includes access to THREE how-to videos on Google searching and another on mobile genealogy:

  • Common Surname Search Secrets
  • Ultimate Google Search Strategies
  • Digging Deeper into Web Sites with Google Site Search
  • Genealogy on the Go with the iPad

Watch and learn with Genealogy Gems Premium! Click here to learn more.

 

WEBSITE MAINTENANCE: Please Excuse Our Mess

building websiteYou may have noticed so ups and downs here at Genealogy Gems the last 2 days. Our tech elves are busy upgrading the site to keep up with “the times.” I really appreciate your patience, and we should have everything back to normal by the end of this weekend.  Our Store is getting a major facelift so that will follow closely thereafter.

Premium Members: if there are any video class handouts that you need immediately that do not successfully download, please email us so we can send them to you. Our best estimate is that the Premium Podcast feed will be up and running on the new system by the end of the weekend.

Thanks to all you Genealogy Gems!

Lisa

RootsMagic 7 is Here!

RootsMagic 7RootsMagic 7 has just been released! It’s the latest version of award-winning software that’s been described by Family Tree Magazine as  “probably the best all-around genealogy program.” I agree: that’s one reason RootsMagic is also a longtime sponsor of the Genealogy Gems podcast.

Before we tell you all the great features of RootsMagic 7, why are we talking about genealogy software when there are so many online options for building your family tree? Because you should keep your master tree with your own files, not trust it to even the best genealogy websites. Read more on that topic here.

RootsMagic software is known and loved for its ability to help people research and share their family trees. Its innovative features include:

  • the ability to move people from one file to another with your mouse,
  • a SourceWizard to help you document your work,
  • the option to create a Shareable CD to give to family and friends,
  • the ability to run RootsMagic off a USB flash drive when you are away from home
  • the ability to synch with FamilySearch.org (they’ve actually won an “Easiest to Sync” award from FamilySearch).

What’s New in RootsMagic 7?

RootsMagic 7 adds many new features while making existing features even easier to use. New features include:

  • WebHints – The industry’s only multi-platform record hints, providing automatic hinting from both FamilySearch and MyHeritage.
  • MyRootsMagic – New accounts that let you easily publish and maintain multiple online trees.  Your trees can be public or private (password protected).
  • DataClean – Quickly find and fix possible problems with names and places.
  • File Compare – Compare any two RootsMagic databases for a side by side comparison.  Easily transfer people, names, events, notes, sources, or media between the two files.
  • QuickGroups – Instantly add or remove an individual from multiple groups at once.
  • Plus dozens of other enhancements and features.

RootsMagic 7 is now available online or by calling 1-800-766-8762. New users can purchase it for $29.95; users of previous versions of RootsMagic and its predecessor Family Origins can upgrade for $19.95.

Want to try out a freebie version first? The popular  and FREE RootsMagic Essentials software has also been updated. RootsMagic Essentials contains many core features from the RootsMagic software and the two products are fully-compatible with one another, in case you decide to upgrade.  Click here to give it a try.

 

NGS 2015 Genealogy Conference Program Now Available

NGS 2015The FULL program and registration brochure for the next National Genealogical Society conference is now online. Browse the NGS 2015 program for some mouthwatering sessions, workshops, tours and social events!

Why read it now, right when the holiday season is kicking off? Several events have limited seating–first-come, first-served to those who register. And registration opens December 1! So set aside your Black Friday shopping lists and read this tempting list. You may give yourself a holiday gift of attendance at NGS next spring!

ALisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems Podcastmong the sessions Lisa will be teaching at NGS 2015 are NEW topics many of you haven’t heard yet:

  • Tech Tools that Catapult the Newspaper Research Process into the 21st Century;
  • iPad & iPhone Power User Techniques for Genealogy; and
  • Six Pillars to Build Your Genealogy Business Online.

The conference will take place in St. Charles, Missouri. The 16-page brochure is downloadable here as a pdf or you can read it online here.  Register at the NGS website. Can’t make it in person? They will stream 10 sessions live for you to watch from the comfort of your own home or office. (Learn more about in coming months.)

Orphaned Heirloom WWI Medal Comes Home via Facebook

WWI World War I medal returned to familyThanks to an appeal on Facebook, an old World War I medal is back with its family!

According to the North Devon Journal in the U.K., the medal was found with the belongings of a man who died in 1980. His sister only recently realized there was a name on the medal, says a story in the North Devon Gazette. She asked a nearby museum to help her return it to a living descendant.

A Facebook appeal went out for a descendant of the soldier, Private Albert Earnest Stowell, who the Gazette says served in the Devonshire Regiment.

Within half an hour a great great grandson of Private Stowell was located. The medal was returned to him at a museum ceremony.

Inspired? Click here for tips for how YOU can help orphaned heirlooms return to their families. More interested in learning more about your own family’s participation in World War I? Click here to read about Europeana’s online archive for WWI.

FREE MyHeritage Webinar: Enrich Your Tree with Photos, Stories and More

MyHeritage.com logo updated Oct 2014Have you started using MyHeritage.com yet? I especially recommend this genealogy and family social networking mega-site for:

  • searching internationally for relatives through 26 million family trees contributed by users worldwide (and supported in tons of languages);
  • “smart” searches of 5.5 billion historical records; and 
  • connecting with living relatives. (You can post all the family pictures here and update everyone on upcoming events. And, oh, by the way, relatives can browse the family tree while they’re looking up grandma’s birthday.)

MyHeritage has posted a new YouTube video with lots of great tricks for using their website. Watch the MyHeritage webinar here:

MyHeritage is a proud sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.

AncestryDNA Review and Breaking News! Updates Launched

“This is really the first time a DNA testing company has so fully integrated genetics and genealogy.  We can now find cousins in the database who do not share our particular genetics, but who do share some of the genetics of our common ancestor.  This is huge.” -Diane Southard, Your DNA Guide

AncestryDNA product image new_1f_screens2I blogged a couple of weeks ago about some changes taking place over at AncestryDNA. You will recall that they are planning to slash your match list to allow only “invited guests” to your personal DNA party. (Read that post to be reminded why this is a good thing.) Ancestry has officially announced the launch of this feature update and reports that on average users will see an 80% reduction in the number of matches shown. I had a chance to look at the new site before it launched and one of my favorite features is the question mark that appears next to your match. Clicking on the question mark on your match page will bring up a menu of references to help you better understand the inner workings of matching at Ancestry, including those confidence levels that are a part of every relationship prediction. In this table below you can see that ancestry has tried to give you some fairly solid guidelines by which to assess the quality of your matches. You will want to focus on those matches with a confidence score of “High” or above to have the best chance of genealogical success. confidence chart But an update to the matching feature is only the beginning of the new features at AncestryDNA. Today Ancestry announced “DNA Circles,” a tool that helps you identify others who share common ancestors with you.  The new “DNA Circles” feature has the potential to impact the way you do genetic genealogy at Ancestry.  Here’s why: Autosomal DNA (the kind that Ancestry is testing) has a spotty inheritance pattern. On average we only have half of the DNA of each of our parents, only 25% of our grandparents, only 12.5% of our great grandparents and so on.  This means that AncestryDNA and its competitors (Family Tree DNA and 23andMe) are only able to genetically identify 50% of your genetic 4th cousins. This means that there could be 50% MORE people in these databases that you are actually related to, people that should have been invited to your DNA party, but didn’t have a ticket. Now with DNA Circles, there is a metaphorical “after-party.” After parties are “hosted” by one of your relatives. Ancestry searches your pedigree and that of your matches back 7 generations looking for suitable hosts.  An ancestor qualifies as a host if they have two or more descendants who hold an invitation. At this after-party you can meet some of these long lost cousins that, while related to you, lost their ticket to your DNA party. After-party invitations are provided to those who meet three very important qualifications:

  1. They have their DNA attached to their PUBLIC family tree.
  2. AND that PUBLIC family tree has the name of the hosting ancestor on it.
  3. AND this person shares DNA with at least one other person who also meets the above two criteria.

Here’s an example.  Below is an image of the new AncestryDNA home page. You can see I am a part of two DNA Circles (some of you will be much more popular and invited to several after-parties. For me–just the two for now).  Let’s take a closer look at my DNA Circle hosted by my paternal 5th great grandfather Minus Griggs (who knew the guy liked parties?!). AncestryDNA HomePageNov2014   Clicking on the DNA circle brings up this page where there are three things I want to show you: AncestryDNA

  1. This is your relationship to the host.
  2. This is a list of the individuals who have passed the three criteria listed above and have been invited to this after-party.
  3. This is the innovative part.  You see that the first two matches (after me–I am listed first) have only “Tree Match” in this column. This means that these two people, both descendants of our host, Minus Griggs, didn’t ever appear on my DNA match list. We do not share enough DNA to be considered genetic relatives. However, the third member of the circle has the “DNA Match” designation, meaning that this match DOES appear on my match page. In fact, this is my ONLY DNA match in the circle (there are three others not shown here).  That means that this DNA circle has connected me to FIVE other cousins.  All because I share DNA and genealogy with the third member of this circle, and he shares DNA and genealogy with everyone else.

I can click on each circle member to see exactly how Ancestry THINKS we are related.  This is my first opportunity to DOUBLE CHECK this relationship that Ancestry has handed me, to be sure that both my match and I really did receive tickets to the same after party.

Here is what that page looks like for me and one of my matches.

GriggsCircleDetail This is really the first time a DNA testing company has so fully integrated genetics and genealogy.  We can now find cousins in the database who do not share our particular genetics, but who do share some of the genetics of our common ancestor.  In my opinion, this is huge. 

There is one catch, and it is going to be a big one for some of you.  In order to see your DNA Circles, you have to be an Ancestry.com subscriber.

Even though I am excited about these changes, I can’t help but hope for just one step more.  In order to identify these DNA Circles, Ancestry has identified pieces of DNA that can be fairly reliably assigned to a particular ancestor.  There are likely others in the Ancestry database who have these pieces of DNA, we can call them partial tickets to the after-party, but who are lacking the second requirement: a pedigree documenting a relationship to that ancestor.  I hope in the future the folks at Ancestry will honor those partial ticket holders, and allow them to the after-party, so we can sit around with our peanuts and pretzels and figure out how we are all related. Until then, I am going to enjoy the two after-parties hosted by my two generous ancestors.

your_dna_guideGenealogy DNA Quick Reference Guides Cheat SheetsReady to walk through the process of using DNA for your genealogy? Let me be your guide! Check out my quick guides (left) Purchase each guide individually or pick up the bundle of all 4 for the best deal!

Visit my website to learn about expert consultations with me. You’ll get customized guidance on which tests to order and how to maximize your results for your genealogy research.

NEW! Nova Scotia and South African Genealogy Records on FamilySearch

world_flags_moving_300_wht_7675Among the 3.7 million+ records new on FamilySearch this week are two updates that caught my eye for international regions that need more record sets online:

Nearly 1.4 million images are now browsable in a newly-posted collection of Nova Scotia, Canada, probate records dating from 1760-1993.  According to FamilySearch, “This collection includes records of probate proceedings from Nova Scotia. The records include estate files, inventories, wills, administrations and other records related to probate. Most of the records are dated from 1800-1940, but coverage varies by area.”

Nearly 400,000 digitized parish registers for the Church of the Province of South Africa (1801-2004) have now been indexed. FamilySearch describes the collection as “digital images and partial index of parish registers of the ‘Church of the Province of South Africa.’ Since 2006, the church has been officially known as the ‘Anglican Church of Southern Africa.’ Original records are contained within the collection of the William Cullen Library, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. The Church presently includes dioceses in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Saint Helena, South Africa and Swaziland. Availability of records is largely dependent on time period and locality.”

I hope these datasets can help your South African genealogy or help you find your Nova Scotia kin.