by Lisa Cooke | Sep 2, 2015 | 01 What's New, Ancestry, images, Records & databases, United States
More than 100 million people are mentioned in Ancestry’s newest database of U.S. wills and probate records, an exclusive collection spanning over 300 years. To celebrate, Ancestry is offering free access through September 7.
This morning, Ancestry launched an enormous–and enormously significant–new online records collection. According to its press release, “More than 170 million pages from the largest collection of wills and probate records in the United States is now available online exclusively on Ancestry. With searchable records included from all 50 states spread over 337 years (1668-2005), this unprecedented collection launches a new category of records for family history research never before available online at this scale the United States.”
Wills and estate records are one of those record types that have been less-accessible online. First, the records themselves are not easy to digitize or even index. They are often thick files, packed with various kinds of documents that may be fragile and of varying sizes. Several people may be mentioned throughout the file, but finding and picking out their names to put in an index is time-consuming.
Furthermore, the U.S. has no central will or probate registry. This happens on a county level, generally. Compiling a centralized database from all those county offices or archives is a huge undertaking.
According to the Ancestry release, “Ancestry spent more than two years bringing this collection online, working with hundreds of different archives from individual state and local courts across the country and making a $10M investment to license and digitize the records.”
Better yet, “the documents cover well over 100 million people, including the deceased as well as their family, friends and others involved in the probate process. Ancestry expects to continue to grow the collection, with additional records available over the next several years.”
Todd Godfrey, VP of Global Content at Ancestry, loves the fact that wills and probate records can reveal not just names, dates and family relationships, but stories. “Wills can offer an incredible view into the lives of your ancestors…providing insight into their personality, character, achievements, relationships, and more,” said Godfrey. “Reading these records you will find a deeper level of understanding about who your ancestors were, who they cared about, what they treasured, and how they lived.”
Learn more about this collection in Finding Your Family in Wills and Probate Records (Ancestry’s new in-depth guide) or click here to search the collection. Great news for those without Ancestry subscriptions: The U.S. Wills and Probates collection is free to access on Ancestry, along with all U.S. birth, marriage and death records, through September 7 (10pm MT).
Please share the great news! Click on your preferred social media channel on this page or copy the link into an email and send it out to your family and friends!
Resources: More Great U.S. Records Online!
U.S. State Census Records: Capture Your Family History Between Federal Censuses
NEW! U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index
4 Fabulous Ways to Use the Library of Congress for Genealogy
by Lisa Cooke | Oct 11, 2015 | 01 What's New, Gifts, Heritage Scrapbooking, Holidays, Oral History, Publishing, Writing Family History
This 3-step project will help you capture a relative’s life story in plenty of time for the holidays!
Reconstructing the life stories of our ancestors can sometimes feel like squeezing water from a stone. By comparison, gathering the life stories of the living can be like turning on a tap. All you have to do is direct and catch the flow.
Turn your family history interviews into a beautiful book–just in time for holiday sharing–with this three-step project. Simplify it or doll it up, depending on your time, talents and what you have to work with. Just do it! Write your family history! Here’s the basic outline:
1. Record an interview. Invite a relative to chat with you about his or her life stories. Decide together what the relative WANTS to talk about: childhood memories? Stories about a certain loved one or a particular time period? A little of everything? Consider using a list of life story questions or memory prompts like those you can find in my book, My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories.
Before you begin, be clear that your goal is to write these stories up for the family. Meet in person, over the phone or by Skype (click here to learn how to record a Skype conversation). With permission, record the conversation. Ask plenty of follow-up questions, but otherwise keep your own comments to a minimum. For more interviewing tips, listen to this free Family History Made Easy podcast episode.
2. Transcribe the interview. After you’ve finished your chat, go back and type up the interview. Give yourself plenty of time: this takes longer than you think. Consider asking a fast-typing relative to help or hire a transcription service (here’s one option). Type things just as you hear them, incomplete sentences and all. Don’t include anything your loved one wants to keep “off the record.”
3. Print the transcript. Save an unedited copy of the typescript in your permanent files. Edit it a little to make it “reader-friendly” if you want to. Print it out. Add any extras, like family tree charts or copies of photos. Bind it however you prefer. (Genealogy Gems Premium website members can check out Lisa’s 3-part Premium podcast series on self-publishing: episodes 52-54). Share copies with loved ones: they make great holiday gifts.
Here’s a page from a sample project I did. It’s a simple stapled book, printed in landscape (sideways) format on regular-sized paper. I left the narrative in the format of a simple Q&A, just like it was spoken. I did edit slightly for clarity and flow. My questions are in italics and the speakers are identified (I was interviewing a husband and wife together). I added a few photos.
I shared copies of this book with every family member as holiday gifts a few years ago. Now everyone has a special legacy gift featuring this couple: their children, their grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren.
Now is the time for you to write a portion of your family history, and I’m here to help and support you. I will be conducting a fun and productive one-week workshop called the Genealogist’s Essential Writing Workshop at Family Tree University starting October 19. You can do this and I’m here to help!
Additional Family History Writing Resources from Genealogy Gems
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!
by Lisa Cooke | Oct 22, 2015 | 01 What's New, Evernote, FamilySearch, Listeners & Readers, Source Citation
Here’s how can you add family history documents you’ve grabbed with the Evernote web clipper to your tree on FamilySearch!
Recently Zooey wrote in with this question: “I’ve clipped numerous things for my ancestors [with the Evernote web clipper] that I want to put in FamilySearch. How do I do it under Documents?”
Good for Zooey for having her genealogy sources organized in Evernote–and for wanting to cite her sources on her FamilySearch family tree. Here’s how to do it:
FamilySearch Documents support the following file types: .pdf, .jpg, .tif, .bmp, and .png. Since it doesn’t currently have an “import from Evernote” feature, you’ll need to export the web clippings from Evernote and then upload them to FamilySearch.
Earlier this year I wrote an article on our blog entitled “Here’s a Cool Way to Export a Web Clipping from Evernote.” The article will walk you through exporting your Evernote web clippings as pdf files, which FamilySearch Documents can then accept as uploads.
More Evernote for Genealogy Tips on the Genealogy Gems Website:
You can find all our past articles on using Evernote for genealogy (including the one I mentioned) at the home page of our website. On the left, just under the main red menu, you will see a drop down menu called “Select Content by Topic.” Click the down arrow and select “Evernote” from the list. This will display all our past Evernote articles on your screen starting with the most recent. Or get started with these great how-tos:
How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: The Ultimate Education
Evernote for Genealogy: What It Is, and Why You Would Use It (FREE VIDEO!)
How to Use Evernote for Genealogy and Family History: Handwriting, OCR, Video and Upload Answers (FREE VIDEO!)
Thank you for sharing this post with others. We would all love our online trees to be better sourced–and for others’ trees to be better sourced, too.
by Lisa Cooke | Aug 16, 2011 | CONTACT US We welcome all of your questions and feedback! We read each and every email and will respond as soon as possible. Do you have questions about your Premium eLearning Membership?Please visit our FAQ page for answers to most questions and troubleshooting...
by Lisa Cooke | Sep 9, 2015 | 01 What's New, Cloud Backup, Disaster Prevention, images
We already trust Backblaze as the official cloud-based computer backup service for Genealogy Gems. Now they’ve added another optional layer of security: even better!
Recently Backblaze, our computer backup service and a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems podcast, let us know that we can now activate an extra layer of security to better protect the data we have stored with them.
The feature is called two-factor verification. It requires that we present both our account credentials and a verification code from a second device to gain access to our Backblaze account. That means someone who was trying to steal our data would have to have both our account information and access to the phone that’s tied to the account. Pretty unlikely!
“This feature is available immediately to all Backblaze users and does not require an update to be used,” they told us. It’s also not automatic–you can activate it if you choose.”
We’ve heard from so many Gems listeners and readers who have purchased Backblaze that we wanted to share with you how to enable this optional feature.
How to Activate Backblaze Computer Backup Service’s Two-factor Verification Security
1. Log in to your existing Backblaze account.
2. Open the “My Settings” page as shown here.
3. Click on the “Sign in Settings” link on the right hand side. If you already have a phone number set up for your account, go to Step 4. If you do not have a phone number set up for your account you will see this screen:
In the “Verify Phone Number” window, you’ll enter your phone number and then verify it is correct by having Backblaze send a verification code to the phone. That verification code is entered in this window. You can not turn on two-factor verification without successfully completing this step.
4. Once you have a phone number set up for your account, you’ll see a screen like this when you click on the “Sign in Settings” link.
5. Choose the two-factor verification setting you desire and select “Update” to change the setting.
6. The set-up/change of your two-factor verification setting is now complete.
What it will be like to use Backblaze two-factor vertification
Let’s say you have selected the “Every time I sign in” option for your two-factor verification setting. Here’s what happens when you sign in to Backblaze:
1. Click the sign-in button and enter your Backblaze account credentials.
2. A unique text message is sent to the phone number on your account, as shown here:
3. At the same time, a “Two-Factor Verification” screen is presented.
4. Enter the code from the text message you received into the “Two-Factor Verification” screen, then press “Enter Code.” You have 10 minutes to enter the code. If you do this correctly you will be logged in to your Backblaze account.
Why not use it?
This is an optional feature on Backblaze. Why would you choose not to activate it?
“It is important to weigh the added security of two-factor verification against the possibility that you will not have the second device with you when you require access to your Backblaze account,” says an email from the company. Some users may not consider what they’ve got stored with Backblaze to be the kind of data that needs extra layers of protection. Others may not want the hassle of an additional layer of security.
But think carefully–Backblaze backs up ALL the files you tell it to. You may have personal and financial data in at least some documents: bank account or credit card numbers, digitized birth certificates or Social Security cards.
Consider what works best for you! Our best recommendation is to HAVE a computer back-up service in place. We chose Backblaze because of its reputation, the quality and security of its service and its very reasonable price. Click here to learn more about Backblaze and why we selected them as a sponsor of our free Genealogy Gems Podcast.
What’s Your Computer Backup Plan? Better Than Mine Was, I Hope!
Dropbox v. Backblaze: Does Cloud Storage for Genealogy Replace Computer Backup?
How Cloud Backup Helped One Genealogy Gem Get Closer to Living a Paper-free Life