November 24, 2014

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.

MyHeritage Library Edition: Now at Family History Centers

MyHeritage Library EditionMyHeritage has launched the MyHeritage Library Edition™ for libraries and other educational facilities around the world. Among the first to sign up for this service? The Family History Library.

MyHeritage Library Edition™ is now available for free at every FamilySearch family history center and Family History Library in the world. FamilySearch operates more than 4,700 family history centers in 134 countries. The centers are dedicated family history spaces, open to anyone with an interest in genealogical research. Visitors enjoy free access to historical records and personal assistance from staff to help them in their search for information. (Find a Family History Center near you.)

Here are some highlights to MyHeritage Library Edition:

  • Record content: access to billions of historical documents, millions of historical photos and other resources in thousands of databases that span the past 5 centuries.
  • Language diversity: Available in 40 languages–the industry’s most multilingual family history search engine.
  • Powerful technology: Automatic handling of translations, synonyms and spelling variations of millions of names in multiple languages AND unique Record Detective™ technology that recommends additional records for each record discovered.
  • Remote Access: Library members can use the MyHeritage Library Edition™ either at their local library or in the comfort of their own home using remote access.

See a video tutorial here for MyHeritage Library Edition.
Ask your local public or university library to subscribe!

1865 New York State Census Now on FamilySearch

New York State Census 1865Good news for those who had relatives in New York in the 1860s: the 1865 New York State Census is now searchable online at FamilySearch.org.

Just five years earlier, the 1860 U.S. federal census counted nearly four million people in this its largest state. New York claimed two of the three biggest U.S. cities: New York City and Brooklyn, with a combined population of over a million.

According to FamilySearch, “This collection contains most of the 1865 New York state census records still in existence. Ten schedules were filed for each locality, including population, marriages, and deaths schedules. The population schedule included the name, age, birthplace, and occupation of each household member. Most counties are covered, but some records were destroyed. The record is a printed form that was filled in by hand by the enumerator. The records are usually arranged by county and town.”

Several counties are missing from this dataset. But it’s got a hefty 2.5 million records, over 60% of the population as counted in 1860. So check it out if you have Empire State ancestors!

Didn’t know New York conducted state censuses? Check out these additional resources:

  • Ancestry.com has a database of New York State censuses for 1880, 1892 and 1905. The 1892 census is especially critical because of the 1890 U.S. federal census is almost entirely lost.
  • Learn more about U.S. state censuses and other special censuses in Episode 10 of our Family History Made Easy podcast. (This episode is the second of a three-part series on using census records: click here for the full list of episodes of this step-by-step free genealogy podcast.)

RootsTech 2015 Entertainment: Donny Osmond and More

AJ JacobsRootsTech 2015 is known for being all about genealogy and technology. however, in an effort to broaden its audience in 2015 it will feature some heavy-hitting entertainers from outside the industry: best-selling authors, singers, dancers and even the cast of a (family-friendly) college comedy TV show.

The lineup includes:

  • Friday keynote: A.J. Jacobs, author of four New York Times bestsellers, editor at large at Esquire magazine, and a commentator for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He is currently helping to build a family tree that connects the entire world and will host the Global Family Reunion on June 6, 2015, which he hopes will be the biggest, most inclusive, most entertaining and most educational Family Reunion in history. Jacobs has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, Conan, The Colbert Report and many others.
  • Donny OsmondSaturday keynote: Donny Osmond, singer, actor, television series host, best-selling author (his autobiography entered the UK bestseller chart at #1), commercial spokesman, motivational speaker, and even a racecar driver. His more recent roles include Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on Broadway; a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight; and a Dancing with the Stars champion (2009). Today, Donny performs at the Flamingo Las Vegas alongside his sister, Marie, in their show “The Donny & Marie Show” which earned “Best of Las Vegas” by the Las Vegas Review Journal three years in a row.
  • Saturday evening: The cast of BYUtv’s popular comedy show Studio C and other popular entertainers (TBA) will host the closing event (at 5:15pm).
  • Friday evening: the sights, sounds and dances of various world cultures will entertain crowds in the the expo hall, which will have extended hours (until 7:00). 

Registration is open for RootsTech: click here to learn more.

English Parish Boundaries: A Little-Known Online Tool

English parish map from FamilySearch.org.

English parish boundaries: map on FamilySearch.org.

Did you know that FamilySearch has an interactive map to help you find English parish boundaries in 1851?

Daniel Poffenberger, who works at the British desk at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, showed me this map gem. He says this map was about 7 years in the making!

Before you click through to the map, you should know:

  • Use the main Search interface to search by a specific location.
  • Click on layers to indicate whether you want the map to show you boundaries to parishes, counties, civil registration districts, dioceses and more.
  • Click and drag the map itself to explore it.
  • Wales is also included here but the Welsh data doesn’t appear to be entirely complete (try it anyway–it might have what you need).
  • The map isn’t yet permanently operational. It does go down sometimes, possibly because they’re still working on it.  It doesn’t print easily. It’s suggested that if you want to print, you hit “Ctrl-Print Screen” and then paste it into Word or another program that accepts images.

Click here to see the FamilySearch England & Wales 1851 Parish map.

Genealogy Video

Want to learn more about using maps? Premium members can check out my video, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps.” Not a Premium member yet? Click here to learn more.

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 115 Features 10 Cool Things You Can Do With Evernote

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastIf you’re a Premium member on our site, you can now access Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 115, “Newspapers, Evernote, DNA and a Heartwarming Story.”

This episode is PACKED with news and ideas YOU can use to move your family research forward now. Here are some highlights:

  • 10 Cool Things You Can Do With Evernote when you’re traveling (you have to hear these ideas–they’ll save you a lot of fuss on the road)!
  • Great advice on what to keep on your hard drive v. what to keep on Evernote;
  • A conversation with a listener who reunited lost heirlooms with the right family–the advice I gave her and how it went;
  • An interview with Genealogy Gems’ resident DNA expert Diahan Southard on a recent news story and its impact on genetic genealogy;
  • A recent news story about Canadian birth brothers who were reunited–but are still looking for their sister;
  • Updates on two great online tools, PERSI on FindMyPast sites and the FamilySearch Standard Location Finder; and
  • an update on content at the British Newspaper Archive and some great U.S. newspaper history trivia.

Not a Premium member yet? You’re missing out on the “plus” content in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episodes! Click here for more on becoming a member. Our low annual membership rate is, we think, the best value in genealogy education out there. You don’t just get access to these meaty podcasts: you get unlimited access to Lisa’s online video classes for an entire year. Check it out!

Finding Places on a Map: Try This Little-Known Genealogy Tool

students_studying_for_class_300_wht_9362Do you ever get lost when looking for ancestral hometowns in Europe or other parts of the world? Boundaries change–national ones as well as regional ones. Place names change. Several little villages may all have gone by the same name over time. And darn those spelling and place name variants!

There’s a great online tool for finding places on a map. It’s the FamilySearch StandardFinder. Under the Place tab, enter the place name that’s got you befuddled. You’ll get a result screen that looks something like this:

FS placefinderWhat do each of those columns mean? We asked a Product Manager at FamilySearch and here’s what he told us:

Column 1:  The official name of the place.

Column 2:  Link/official name to the jurisdiction that the place exists within.

Column 3:  “Normalized” variant names (i.e. other names the place is known by)

Column 4:  General/high-level type (the type) of the place.  Div:  The more specific type (if applicable).  Code: The code for the general type.  FC:  The feature code (taken from NGA’s feature code).

Column 5:  The years within which the place existed (typically within the jurisdiction it belongs to).

Column 6:  The full official (standardized) name of the place and its jurisdiction.

Column 7:  Culture:  The generalized culture that the place exists within.

Column 8:  ISO code:  The ISO code (if applicable).

Column 9:  Geo code:  the “centroid” (or central spot) of the place specified as the latitude and longitude.

Column 10:  The permanent identifier of the place, useful for referencing the place within applications, systems, and products.”

A couple of these columns are a little technical for me, but I can still extract a LOT of information from these results! Place names, variant names, jurisdictions, lifespan of that location, latitude/longitude and all the possible places a possible location might be.

You’ll likely notice that there are Standard Finders for names and dates, too!

Historic_Maps_VideoLearn more about online strategies for map research with Lisa’s 2-CD series, Using Google Earth for Genealogy.

Genealogy Gems Premium members can also access video classes on geography for genealogists, including three classes on Google Earth and the newest video class, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps.

New or Improved Genealogy Apps! Ancestry, FamilySearch and MyHeritage

custom_smart_phone_categories_12848Have you downloaded the apps that go with your favorite genealogy websites? You should! And if it’s been awhile, you should do it again. Why? They just keep getting better!

Here’s a rundown of new or improved apps from

  • Ancestry.com,
  • FamilySearch.org, and
  • MyHeritage.com:

Updated Ancestry App: Now A Continuously Swiping Tree

The old version of  the Ancestry app was a great start, but didn’t actually have a tree interface on it. You could see lists of family members in your tree, but not in pedigree format. The new version (still FREE)  has a redesigned look that, at least for iOS users, includes what Ancestry calls a “continuously swiping tree.” (The way Ancestry programmers made this happen was unique enough they got a patent for the process–read about it on the Ancestry blog.)

Here’s a summary of what the iPhone and iPad apps can do (taken from the Ancestry site):

Ancestry app

  • New: Redesigned look for sleeker, more intuitive use
  • New: Build your tree faster by connecting to Facebook and your contact list
  • New: Read about the lives of your ancestors through story-like narrative
  • Preserve memories by scanning and adding photos to your tree
  • Explore high-res images of historical documents and records
  • Access the world’s largest online family resource with more than 12 billion records
  • Receive Hints to help reveal new family connections by finding records and photos for you
  • Fully redesigned for iOS7

Click here to download the Ancestry app for iPad, iPhone and Android.

New FamilySearch Apps: Tree and Memories

FS Mobile AppTwo new FREE mobile apps, FamilySearch Tree and FamilySearch Memories, help users add information to their FamilySearch.org trees. The folks at FamilySearch describe the apps this way:

FamilySearch Tree makes it easy to add photos, stories, and audio recordings to ancestors in FamilySearch trees.

  • Browse your family branches and see portraits of relatives you’ve never seen.
  • Discover facts, documents, stories, photos, and recordings about your ancestors.
  • Easily add memories and records about your relatives.
  • Preserve and share those old photos and documents that are hidden away in storage.
  • Adding or updating ancestor details like names, dates, and relationships will be available coming soon.
  • Available for iOS 7+ and Android 2.3+

Click here to download the FamilySearch Tree App from the Apple App Store (iOS)

Click here to download the FamilySearch Tree App from the Google Play App Store (Android)

FamilySearch Memories makes collecting, preserving, and sharing your favorite family memories (photos, stories, and spoken words) easy and convenient wherever you are.

  • Snap photos of any family event, or take photos of old photos and documents.
  • Record audio interviews with family members and capture details of their life stories and favorite memories.
  • Write family stories, jokes, and sayings with the keyboard, or use the mic key to capture what you say.
  • Enrich written stories by adding descriptive photos.
  • Identify and tag relatives within a memory to automatically add it to their collection in Family Tree.
  • Available for iOS 7+

Click here to download the FamilySearch Memories App from the Apple App Store (iOS)

Everything you add with either of these apps syncs with FamilySearch.org.

Updated MyHeritage App: Now Access Your Family Photos

MyHeritage appNow your MyHeritage family website can always be at your fingertips–along with all your family photos. Features of the newly-updated version of the MyHeritage app:

  • NEW: View all your photo albums and family tree photos;
  • Easily view and update your family tree anywhere you go;
  • Search 5.3 billion historical records;
  • Fully sync with your family site and Family Tree Builder software;
  • Supports 32 languages.

Click here to download or upgrade Family Tree Builder 7.0 so you’ll be ready to view and edit your tree with the free mobile app.

Click here to download the MyHeritage app from the App store.

Click here to download the MyHeritage app from Google Play.

So…doublecheck your mobile devices! How long since you’ve updated YOUR genealogy apps?

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.

FamilySearch CEO Interview In Premium Podcast Episode 107

Dennis_BrimhallDid you know that the CEO of FamilySearch International doesn’t have a background in genealogy?

Dennis Brimhall is an experienced CEO–that’s why he was hired. But he admits that some folks even within his own organization weren’t sure about having him at the helm if family history wasn’t his personal passion.

Since then–only two years ago–FamilySearch has grown under Brimhall’s leadership. Dennis’ interest in family history has grown, too! Check out the interview in my Premium Podcast Episode 107, just published. You’ll hear how FamilySearch is reaching out to the 95%+ of the public who is not actively doing genealogy by focusing on the same things that caught Dennis’ interest: stories and photos.

In this episode we also explore a wonderful resource for Missouri genealogical research, and then we make tracks on some railroad history.

GG Premium MembershipNot a Premium member yet? You’re missing out! My website is packed with hours’ worth of Premium podcast episodes like this one as well as a full (and growing!) series of Premium videos. The videos are recordings of  some of my most popular presentations, and they’re available to Premium members 24/7 from the comfort of their own computers at the fraction of the cost of attending any major conference! They cover many of my most-requested topics: Google searching, Google Earth, Evernote, using the iPad for genealogy, hard drive organization and more! Check out the full list of membership benefits here.