September 22, 2017

Search Results for: disaster prep

Disaster Preparedness for Genealogists Past 3: Protect Precious Originals

fire_hydrant_spray_water_300_clr_11472It’s time for the third part of our disaster planning process in honor of National Preparedness Month in the United States. Two weeks ago, I talked about assessing your home archive and research files and prioritizing the items you want to protect. Last week, we talked about making copies of important originals and other valuable items. This week:

PROTECT PRECIOUS ORIGINALS. After you’ve duplicated your originals, take steps to preserve them. How exactly you do this depends on what you’re protecting; how much time and money you’re willing to spend; and how you plan to store or display them. The core strategy is to store them in appropriate archival materials away from direct light and extremes in temperature and humidity. No damp basements or hot attics! But what materials constitute safe storage are different for paper items, different types of photos or cloth, and electronic items, so you need to do a little research. (Hey, we genealogists are good at that!)

Several resources can help you learn more about giving your family artifacts the protection they need, including:

Disaster Preparedness for Genealogists Part 2: Duplicate the Past

hurry_with_the_medical_kit_300_clr_8472In celebration of National Preparedness Month in the United States, I’m running a four-part post on securing your family history archive and research against disasters. Last week I talked about assessing and prioritizing your original family artifacts, photographs and documents. This week’s tip:

DUPLICATE THE PAST. There’s no true substitute for an original family Bible, but if it’s lost, you at least want to have a copy. Scan your original photos, documents, and other flat artifacts—including the important pages of that Bible. While you could carefully use a flatbed scanner, consider a portable scanner or a mobile scanning app like Genius Scan or Scanner Pro.

Next, photograph dimensional family artifacts like artwork, handicrafts, clothing, military and school memorabilia, etc. Use a regular digital camera or the camera on your phone or tablet/iPad. Make sure you label the photos by using the metadata fields in digital files or by printing them out and captioning them in an album. Consider using the Heirloom Inventory Kit developed by the folks at Family Tree Magazine to create an archival record of your artifacts with images, stories and more.

Next week, we’ll tackle a third topic: preserving original documents, photos and heirlooms.

Disaster Preparedness for Genealogists: Assess Your Assets Part 1

fire

This morning I looked out my window and could see a huge plume of smoke. Across the valley a wild fire is raging that began yesterday afternoon. The hot and very dry conditions have fueled the flames, and homes are starting to be evacuated.  It’s a grim reminder that disasters do happen and no one is immune.

It is National Preparedness Month in the United States, and for genealogists, that means disaster planning for our home archives and family history files. We don’t like to think about the unthinkable: losing our original photos, documents and years’ worth of research in a fire, flood, hurricane or other disaster. But it’s happened in places as high-and-mighty as federal archives here in the USA: it can certainly happen in our homes. Even a leaky roof, downed tree, bug infestation, basement mildew issue, theft or other “minor” disaster can mean total annihilation of our family archives if it’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As I watch the fire and monitor it’s progress on Twitter, I’m thankful that I can rest easy that my precious family history is protected in a number of ways. This month, I’ll share four steps to help you secure the future of your family past, one step for each of the next four weeks. This gives you time to follow through on each piece of advice before you get to the next step. This week’s step:

ASSESS YOUR GENEALOGY ASSETS. What needs protection?

Your top priority, as a genealogist, will likely be original photos, documents, artwork and one-of-a-kind family artifacts like a family Bible. In other words, things that can’t be replaced.

Next, think about things you’d rather not have to replace: records you’ve ordered from repositories; several years’ worth of genealogy notes and files; computerized family trees. Make yourself a list, so in the weeks to follow you can carry out an emergency plan for each item (starting with high-priority items) as your time and budget permit. Next week’s topic: DUPLICATE THE PAST.

 

Disaster Planning for Genealogists and More: New FTM Podcast

FTM podcast logoAutumn gives me the urge to organize and prepare for the future. That’s why I think the new Family Tree Magazine podcast episode is especially timely.

Lisa hosts the September 2014 Family Tree Magazine podcast with these highlights:

  • News from the Blogosphere with Diane Haddad;
  • Preservation tips from the Family Archivist columnist, Denise Levenick;
  • Digital archiving websites from the current 101 Best Websites list;
  • Genealogy estate planning with Family Tree University dean Tyler Moss;
  • and roundup preparedness tips from Publisher Allison Dolan.

For more on disaster planning for genealogists, check out our four-part blog post series on it. Click here for the first one.

Disaster Planning for Genealogists Part 4: Share and Update Files

firefighter_run_300_clr_11079This post wraps up our four-week series on disaster planning for genealogists in honor of National Preparedness Month in the United States. In previous weeks, I talked about assessing our collections of family history artifacts and research materials; creating duplicates of one-of-a kind items; and protecting our most valuable items properly.

Last but certainly not least in our preparedness process, we want to share what we have with others and keep our digital files fresh. I’ll cover both of these steps in this post.

SHARE! First, after you’ve copied, scanned or photographed your family archive, spread your digital archive around by sharing it with others. If you leave all your files on the computer in the same building as your originals (your home), one house fire or theft could easily take out both your original and your carefully-made backups. Instead, disseminate your copies to at least two additional physical locations.

For electronic data, I recommend cloud storage like Dropbox, or iCloud. That immediately gets a copy away from your physical home base, but keeps it accessible to you (and others, if you like) from any location, computer or mobile device. Also consider distributing copies to fellow relatives or your genealogy buddies, the first because they should have family information anyway and the second because your genealogy buddies will likely take good care of your files. Just make sure those who receive your files don’t all live in the same general area, or again, the same typhoon may destroy all your copies. And check your CDs and cloud storage periodically to make sure the files are still in good shape.

UPDATE. Finally, every once in a while you’ll need to update your copies. It may sound unthinkable that someday your PDFs or JPGs won’t be readable, or that your computer won’t have a CD drive. But file formats do eventually become obsolete and storage media do decay and corrupt over time. Keep listening to the Genealogy Gems podcast so you’ll be aware when major transitions in technology happen. I’ll tell you how and when to update specific file formats and storage types that are starting to phase out.

I almost forgot–the last and best step in all emergency planning. When you’ve done everything you can to protect your family legacy from disaster, breathe a deep sigh of relief. The peace of mind alone is worth all this effort!

Family Tree Maker Alternatives: Great Offers, and What I Do With My Tree

FTMaker options transplant tree family tree maker alternativesAre you a Family Tree Maker user looking for place to transplant your master family tree? Here are some great offers and my personal strategy.

With the imminent demise of Family Tree Maker software, many users find themselves preparing to transplant their trees elsewhere. But many are still trying to decide upon the ideal spot. RootsMagic and MyHeritage.com have both responded with attractive Family Tree Maker alternatives. Both companies are sponsors of the free Genealogy Gems podcast and both offer excellent products. It just depends on what works best for you. While you’re doing your homework, consider these offers:

RootsMagic Family History Software: Discount on Software, with Special Add-Ons and Training

RootsMagic 7 family tree maker alternatives“If you’re a Family Tree Maker user, we understand that change isn’t easy,” states a recent RootsMagic press release. “But with a little of your time and a little help from us, you’ll be just as comfortable with RootsMagic as you were with Family Tree Maker.”

“For a limited time, we are offering Family Tree Maker users the full-version of RootsMagic for the amazing low price of only $20We will also include the printed book, “Getting the Most out of RootsMagic” absolutely free (a $14.95 value).  To make the transition as painless as possible, we’ve set-up a special website at www.FTMUpgrade.com that includes training videos, testimonials, and more. You must visit www.FTMUpgrade.com to receive the discount.”

I am a RootsMagic user myself, as I’ve stated in the past (click here to read why). I particularly love the wide range of support for learning to use RootsMagic. RootsMagic  offers a recently-updated Mac version of its software, too. If you’re still not sure, you could try RootsMagic Essentials first for free, then easily upgrade in the future.

MyHeritage.com Family History Website: Free Unlimited Tree Hosting

myheritage logo new family tree maker alternatives“At MyHeritage, we believe there is still a place in the world for genealogy software,” says an email I received from MyHeritage’s Chief Genealogical Officer, Daniel Horowitz. “There is value in the ability to work offline, and enjoy more powerful functionality that many websites cannot offer. We also believe that people should be able to discover and preserve their family history on whatever platform they are comfortable with. That’s why we are constantly innovating new technologies and enhancing our website, mobile apps and our Family Tree Builder genealogy software.

We are delighted to offer FTM users who move to MyHeritage, and who choose to sync their family tree with their MyHeritage family site, unlimited tree size capacity on their online family site, which is normally limited to 250 individuals on a free account.”

MyHeritage.com started as a family tree and family networking website, so its roots for tree-hosting are deep. The site hosts the most geographically diverse trees in the world, which is a great reason for anyone searching for international relatives to have a family tree there. Their Family Tree Builder software is free, so there is no financial risk for downloading and using it. Having a tree on the site that syncs to your home tree will provide you with a degree of convenient, free security: your tree will be backed up in two physical locations at all times (one on the software on your computer and one on the site).

backblaze online cloud backup for genealogyFor me, the bottom line continues to be control over my master family tree–and all the other files on my computer. So for me, the answer is to

1) Use RootsMagic as my master database on my desktop computer and download the app to my mobile devices;

2) Upload sections of my trees periodically to genealogy websites as I’m researching those lines in order to generate new leads and connections. (Doing this on MyHeritage led to my first ever connection with a distant German cousin!);

3) Use a cloud-based computer backup system that automatically backs up my entire computer (including RootsMagic files) on an ongoing basis. This protects me from losing files due to theft, disaster at my home, computer crashes, and anything else that threatens my data. I use Backblaze as the official backup service for Genealogy Gems, and I love it. It’s super easy, reliable and affordable (about $5 a month!). Click here to read more posts on cloud-based computer backup services.

More Gems About Caring for Your Family Tree

Online tree out of controlDon’t Lose Control When You Post Your Family Tree Online

Best Genealogy Software: Which Should You Choose and Why

How to Approach an Error on Someone Else’s Tree

 

FREE Live Streaming for SCG Jamboree 2015 Sessions

SCG jamboree 2015 streamingRegistration is now open for FREE streaming live sessions from the 46th Annual Southern California Genealogy SCG Jamboree. Sign up to watch Lisa present two free sessions on Saturday, June 6, “Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries” and “Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy.” Check out the schedule below to see who else you can watch for free. Handouts will be provided!

Friday, June 5
FR007: Be Prepared with a Genealogy Disaster Plan – Denise May Levenick.
FR018: Five Tips for Successful Research in a New Location – J. H.”Jay” Fonkert, CG.
FR019: Genetic Genealogy and the Next Generation – Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD and Paul Woodbury.
FR032: Finding and Utilizing German Church Records – Dr. Michael D. Lacopo.

Saturday, June 6
SA007: Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries – Lisa Louise Cooke.
SA014: Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA021: No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Ancestors – Lisa A. Alzo, MFA.
SA033: Plotting, Scheming and Mapping Online – Cyndi Ingle.
SA035: Midwestern and Plains States Level Census Records – Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA047: Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy – Lisa Louise Cooke.

Sunday, June 7
SU005: Family History Adhesive: Science and Simple Tech 4 Binding Families – Janet Hovorka, MLIS.
SU015: The Hidden Web: Digging Deeper – Cyndi Ingle.
SU022: Who, What, When, Where? Using Journalism Techniques to Write Your Story – Anita Paul.
SU030: Get to Know Your Geezers – Matthew Hovorka.

check_mark_circle_400_wht_14064Good to know about SCG Jamboree 2015 streaming sessions:

  • Session descriptions, speaker bios, suggested experience levels and schedule details are provided on the registration site and will soon be posted on the Jamboree website.
  • You won’t be bored between sessions. Videos featuring Ancestry’s crackerjack training team, Crista Cowan, Juliana Szucs and Ann Mitchell, will run during Jamboree breaks and lunches.
  • Because the sessions are sponsored by Ancestry and available for free, you can host viewing parties with one or two friends, or with a room full of fellow society members.
  • If you can’t watch a session real time as it is being live streamed, you will be able to watch it at your convenience before July 5, 2015, from the special Jamboree archive.
  • DNA live-streamed sessions will not be available for purchase on DVD, nor will they be accessible in the SCGS website archive.
  • There’s also a pay-per-view option for those who would like to watch SCGJ’s live streaming sessions from Genetic Genealogy: DNA Day.  (Here’s the DNA registration page.)
  • Registration for the pay-per-view and free Jamboree sessions will remain open through July 5, 2015, when the special archive will close.