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!

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.

Where You Should Sit at a Genealogy Conference

no changing classroomsThis spring we’ve got some great conferences coming up in the U.S., like #RootsTech2013 in Salt Lake and the National Genealogical Society conference in Las Vegas, as well as events in Fairfax (VA), Wausau (WI), Manchester (NH), Cincinnati (OH), the Houston area, and Southern California. So here’s my question, just for fun: where do you sit when you go to conferences?

Studies of college classrooms show that students who sit toward the front of the room and catch the teacher’s eye are more likely to pay attention, which can translate into a better learning experience. Now, that caught my eye, because a better learning experience is what we all want out of conferences.

The report goes on to say that students who sit in front and make eye contact establish a better rapport with teachers and are more likely to be more engaged in the learning process. Of course, a conference isn’t the same as a college class. The instructor isn’t grading you. But presenters are human too, and they appreciate an engaged audience. In any sort of presentation, there is always an energy that flows back and forth between audience and presenter. Both you and the instructor will benefit from rapport and engagement.

Here are my tips for getting the most out of your experience:

  • Arrive at the lecture as early as possible so you can get a seat where you’ll be able to see and hear everything clearly.
  • Read the class syllabus ahead of time so you’ll be familiar with the material going into the presentation.
  • Print out the syllabus (or have it handy on your iPad or tablet) so you don’t waste time writing down ideas and links that have already been written for you.
  • Keep your attention on the speaker, but jot down any additional ideas the speaker shares that aren’t in the syllabus–as well as any ideas you hope to apply to your own research.

Here’s a final tip that comes from the study report on where you sit. One interviewee for this article says that, “In lecture, students’ attention tends to bottom out about 30 minutes into class, which is just when faculty are getting to the most important information.” She goes on to say that sitting closer to the instructor will help you stay focused during that critical time. The takeaway: 30 minutes into any lecture, if your attention starts to wander, challenge yourself to write down the key concept you learned up to that point, and one key question you hope will be answered. And then re-focus on listening intently for the answer.

Check out my upcoming live presentations.   See you in class!

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineHere’s this week’s roundup of new genealogy records online. Highlights: Canadian marriages, German emigrants, Philippines civil registrations, Russian and Ukrainian church records and Michigan marriages.

CANADA – MARRIAGES. A new collection of district marriage register images for Ontario, Canada (1801-1858) is now free to browse at FamilySearch.org. Most entries are for the 1830s-1850s.

GERMANY – EMIGRANTS. The (former) Grand Duchy of Oldenburg Emigrants database just passed the 100.000 person mark. According to a note from the site host, “The database contains beside the emigrant itself also the family members we could trace in Germany or the Country to which he migrated.” Learn more at this blog post from the Oldenburgische Gesellschaft für Familienkunde. Click here to hear online German records expert Jim Beidler talk about new German records online.

PHILIPPINES – CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. FamilySearch.org has added 1.7 million+ browsable records to an existing collection of Philippines national civil registration records (1945-1984). These are described as “marriage and death certificates from various localities,” excluding Manila, for which there is a separate database.

RUSSIA – CHURCH. Nearly half a million browsable records have been added to a free FamilySearch.org collection of church books for Tatarstan, Russia (1721-1939). These are described as “images of births and baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials performed by priests of the Russian Orthodox Church in the republic of Tatarstan.” More records are being added as they are available.

UKRAINE – CHURCH. Another 205,000 browsable records have been added to a free FamilySearch.org collection of church book duplicates for Kyiv, Ukraine (1734-1920).

U.S. – MICHIGAN – MARRIAGES. FamilySearch.org has added more than 60,000 indexed names to its collection of Michigan county marriage records (1820-1940) and another 2000+ names to its collection of Michigan church marriage records (1865-1931).

Share BoldThanks for sharing this post about new genealogy records online with your genealogy buddies on your favorite social media sites! We love spreading good news.

 

NGS 2014 Genealogy Conference in Richmond

NGS 2014 logoMark your calendars: The National Genealogical Society (U.S) has announced that next year’s Family History Conference will be at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and Marriott Hotel in Richmond, Virginia from May 7 -10.

The theme for the 2014 conference is “Virginia: The First Frontier,” so you can expect to see plenty of “Old Dominion” records and history. But conference planners promise more than 150 lectures that will include “migration into, within, and out of the region down the Great Wagon Road, over the Appalachian Mountains, and across the south to Texas and beyond.” Plan to learn about the “history, records, repositories, and ethnic and religious groups in Virginia and the neighboring states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The program will also feature broader genealogical categories including military and other federal records, the law as it relates to genealogy, methodology, analysis, and problem solving. There will also be an emphasis on the use of technology (GenTech) in genealogical research including genetics, mobile devices, and apps.”

If you plan to go, get your hotel reservation in early–reservations are already being accepted, though actual conference registration doesn’t open until December 1. Check out hotel information and sign up for the NGS Conference Blog so you can keep up-to-date on news and announcements.

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