Episode 205

The Genealogy Gems Podcast
Episode #205
with Lisa Louise Cooke

Genealogy Gems Podcast 205

This episode breaks two huge pieces of genealogy news and shares two great conversations:

FamilySearch ends microfilm lending:  how you can get the records you need;

RootsMagic adds Ancestry.com compatibility: sync your Ancestry.com tree to your master RootsMagic file and search Ancestry.com from within the software;

Melissa Barker, the Archive Lady, talks about visiting archives to explore original manuscript record treasures;

Nicole Dyer shares a fun family history activity idea to do with kids?do you have a family gathering coming up that could use this inspiration?

A SURPRISE IN MY MAILBOX!

NEWS

Navigating the end of FamilySearch Microfilm Lending

RootsMagic Adds Ancestry.com Sync and Search

NEW PREMIUM VIDEO!

Lisa Louise Cooke shows you how to use the free Google Earth Pro software to create your own historic map collection customized for your genealogy and family history research. By the end of this class you’ll have a permanent collection of hundreds of gorgeous historic and vintage maps from around the world, organized and ready to use for family history.

Click here to watch a free preview of this full-length video class. Genealogy Gems Premium website members can watch the whole thing: click here to learn more.

The 4th Annual Northwest Genealogy Conference

This episode today is brought to you by the 4rd Annual Northwest Genealogy Conference, hosted by the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society, north of Seattle in Arlington, WA. Centering on the theme, “Where Does Your Story Begin?” it’s four days PACKED full of genealogy.

There will be well-known and respected keynote speakers, including our friend and genetic genealogist Diahan Southard, speaking on DNA; Kenyatta Berry of Genealogy Roadshow fame, speaking on Caribbean research and using slave schedules in research; and Daniel Earl speaking on Putting History in Your Family History.

Starting off with the Free Day Wednesday afternoon, Speaker Peggy Lauritzen will address beginner’s issues in her Genealogy 101 presentation, which is also a good refresher for the more seasoned genealogists.  There will be such great genealogical information for all levels, AND it’ll be lot of fun!

Between classes take a chance to meet a distant cousin with the “Cousin Wall”. Participate in the genealogy-related scavenger hunt, the Wednesday evening meet and greet and the Friday dress-as-your-ancestor day, and much, much more!

Go to www.NwGC.org for details and to register. Check it out now — registrations are limited, so it’s good to get in early. It’s August 16-19, 2017. It’ll be a great show: don’t miss it!

INTERVIEW: MELISSA BARKER, THE ARCHIVE LADY

Melissa Barker is a Certified Archives Records Manager, the Houston http://www.honeytraveler.com/buy-antibiotics/ County, Tennessee Archivist and author of the popular blog A Genealogist in the Archives and bi-weekly advice column The Archive Lady. She has been researching her own family history for the past 27 years.

Preserve your own family archive

Items in danger include original items in attics, basements, etc.

What to preserve first? The most precious and original items you have!

Restoration tips:

  • Clean documents and photos with archival sponges. Lay the item perfectly flat. Gently place a finger or hand to hold it steady. Work with the sponge from the center outward, in small sections.
  • Keep two-dimensional items as flat as possible.
  • Encase fragile items in Mylar sleeves (buy from archival supply companies).

Image courtesy of Melissa Barker and Houston County, TN Archives.

Visiting an archive:

  • Call ahead! Don’t trust the operational hours from the website. Ask about parking ? it’s often very limited. Ask ahead about access to archival items of interest.
  • Archive etiquette: Follow the rules. Be courteous when working with staff.
  • Museums, societies, archives, and libraries may all have collections in back rooms you can’t see?but you can ask for them.
  • Vertical Files – in folders in cabinets
  • Manuscript Collections – underused in genealogy! Ask for finding aid.
  • Loose Records – the working papers of a court case, for example
  • Unprocessed Records – not yet incorporated into the official collection

Tips for using your mobile devices in archives:

  • Ask for procedures for taking photos with your own device. There may be rules against this or a use fee.
  • Capture the source information by photographs: cover page, page number, folder, box number, manuscript collection name, etc.

BONUS CONTENT for Genealogy Gems App Users

Get the app here

If you’re listening through the Genealogy Gems app, your bonus audio content for this episode comes from Melissa Barker, the Archive Lady,  with more about finding and using original manuscript records in your genealogy research. The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and is only $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.

Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. RootsMagic is now fully integrated with Ancestry.com, too: you can sync your RootsMagic trees with your Ancestry.com trees and search records on the site.

Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at http://www.backblaze.com/lisa.

 

INTERVIEW: NICOLE DYER

Nicole has been researching her ancestors and delighting in their stories for the past 15 years. Nicole volunteers at the Tucson Family History Center teaching a family history story time group for young children.

Read Nicole’s blog post here

Lisa suggested the free program Jing for video screen capturing: https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html

(Full disclosure: this podcast blog contains affiliate links. We will be compensated if you make a purchase through our link. Isn’t that an awesome way to help keep the free podcast free?!)

Visit Animoto here and start a free trial

Start creating fabulous, irresistible videos about your family history with Animoto.com. You don’t need special video-editing skills: just drag and drop your photos and videos, pick a layout and music, add a little text and voila! You’ve got an awesome video! Try this out for yourself at Animoto.com.

 

GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB: A FAMILY HISTORY MURDER MYSTERY!

Get the book here.

Journalist Helene Stapinski’s new family history memoir:

Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy

A story of poverty and power, love, tragic decisions, and a courageous and desperate woman’s leap for a new life across the ocean

Murder in Matera continues to unravel a past Helene explored in her fantastic first family history memoir, Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History.

Find a whole list of fabulous family history-inspired reading at the Genealogy Gems Book Club!

Genealogy Gems Newsletter Sign Up

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer

Sunny Morton, Editor

Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer

Lacey Cooke, Service “Happiness” Manager

Start Digging! New Worldwide Records Added to FamilySearch

Millions of new images and indexed records are added to FamilySearch.org every week. But here’s one that particularly caught my eye: 5.6 million records from Massachusetts Land Records dating  from 1620 to the 1980s.

Massachusetts Land Records, Hampshire County, sample deed from browsable record set at FamilySearch.org.

It’s a browsable collection of “land and property records from the Massachusetts Land Office and county courthouses. Records include land grants, patents, deeds, and mortgages. This collection includes all counties in Massachusetts.” Though these images aren’t indexed in FamilySearch per se, I noticed that when I clicked on a sample county (Hampshire), there were alphabetical deed indexes dating back as far as the records themselves. So it looks like in at least some cases, you’ll be able to browse those indexes and then find the deeds you want.

Looking for other new records just added to FamilySearch.org? Check out the table below.

Collection Indexed Records Digital Images Comments
Austria, Seigniorial Records, 1537–1888 0 237,988 Added images to an existing collection.
Brazil, Piauí, Civil Registration, 1875-2012 0 116,423 Added images to an existing collection.
China, Cemetery Records, 1820-1983 0 72,747 New browsable image collection.
China, Collection of Genealogies, 1239-2011 0 204,422 Added images to an existing collection.
Honduras, Civil Registration, 1841-1968 0 337,367 New browsable image collection.
Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 0 84,251 Added images to an existing collection.
Peru, Amazonas, Civil Registration, 1939-1995 0 5,417 Added images to an existing collection.
Portugal, Beja, Catholic Church Records, 1550-1911 0 94,902 Added images to an existing collection.
Portugal, Braga, Priest Application Files (Genere et Moribus), 1596-1911 0 69,030 New browsable image collection.
Portugal, Évora, Civil Registration and Miscellaneous Records, 1554-1938 0 5,708 New browsable image collection.
Portugal, Viana do Castelo, Catholic Church Records, 1537-1909 0 83,446 Added images to an existing collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1811 0 2,387 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1818 0 2,369 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1834 0 2,436 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Hawaii, Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900-1953 0 191,701 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Idaho, Gooding County Records, 1879-1962 0 52,108 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Maine, Piscataquis County, Deed Books, 1838-1902 0 56,970 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986 0 5,766,135 New browsable image collection.

 

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: Australia, France, New Zealand and, in the U.S., records for AK, CO, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, NH, NY, PA and WI.

AUSTRALIA – NORTHERN TERRITORY – PROBATE. Ancestry.com has a new probate index (1911-1994) for Northern Territory, Australia. The collection includes images of an index “organized first by year range, then alphabetically by surname and given name.”

FRANCE – MILITARY. FamilySearch.org has published a new online index to military conscription records for Saône-et-Loire (1867-1940). Privacy restrictions apply to those born less than 120 years ago.

NEW ZEALAND – PROBATE. More than 350,000 browsable records (and over 10,000 indexed records) have been added to a free FamilySearch.org collection of New Zealand probate records (1843-1998). Original records are sourced from Archives New Zealand offices in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

US – VARIOUS – MARINE. Over 315,000 records are part of a new Ancestry.com collection of applications for seaman’s protection certificates, (1916-1940).

US – VARIOUS – MARRIAGE. Findmypast.com announced the addition of around 10 million additional U.S. marriage records to its growing online collection. According to a press release, “This second installment includes significant additions from Indiana, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Maine.” Nearly a million of these are new to online publication and, at least for now, exclusive to Findmypast. (The collection is part of a FamilySearch partnership.)

US – VARIOUS – PROBATE. Ancestry.com has updated its collections of wills and probate records for Wisconsin, Maryland and Colorado. Coverage by time period and county varies.

US – ARKANSAS – CIVIL WAR. About 172,000 indexed records have been added to a free FamilySearch collection of Arkansas Ex-Confederate Pension Records (1891-1939).

US – MASSACHUSETTS – TOWN CLERK RECORDS. FamilySearch has added nearly half a million indexed names to its free online collection, Massachusetts Town Clerk Vital and Town Records 1626-2001. A new related collection of Massachusetts town records is also available on FamilySearch.

US – NEW HAMPSHIRE. Over 100,000 indexed records have been added to a free FamilySearch.org collection of New Hampshire Birth Certificates (1901-1909). According to the collection description, “Records consist of index cards that give the town and date of the event and often much more information.”

sign up newsletterNew genealogy records appear online by the millions every week. Keep current by subscribing to the free weekly Genealogy Gems email newsletter. The newsletter comes with a free e-book by Lisa Louise Cooke on Google search strategies you can use to find MORE genealogy records online that you need. Simply enter your email address in the box at the top of this webpage where it says “Sign up.”

 

RootsMagic 8

Show Notes: Bruce Buzbee, CEO of RootsMagic, the leading genealogy software program joins Lisa Louise Cooke for an update on what’s new at RootsMagic.

rootsmagic 8 update

Video and show notes

You’ll learn:

  • why you need a genealogy software database rather than just an online family tree,
  • Bruce’s 3 favorite features of RootsMagic 8,
  • and what’s new at the RootsMagic website.  

Watch the Video

Resources

Download the  ad-free Show Notes handout  (Premium Members exclusive)

Show Notes

One of the best and most popular software programs for genealogy is RootsMagic. Here to give us the latest on RootsMagic and RootsMagic. 8, which is the newest version, is the developer and the CEO of RootsMagic, Bruce Buzbee.

Genealogy Software versus Online Family Tree

Lisa: One of the questions I get a lot is how is having your genealogy on a software database, like RootsMagic, different or preferable to having just an online family tree?

Bruce: We get we get asked that a lot, why should I do this when I can keep my tree on Ancestry or FamilySearch, or MyHeritage?

No one can change your data

The biggest thing is having your data on your computer, on your own computer. That way you have complete control over it. You don’t have to be connected to the internet in order to access your data, and you don’t have to worry about somebody else coming in and changing your data. Some of the places you can put your data are global trees (where all users contribute to one shared tree). This means that other people can go in and change your information.

Control over your data without a subscription

Some of the online trees are not global, and you do have your own tree. But you have to pay per year to do that. And if you stop paying, all of a sudden, you’ve kind of lost some of that control over your over your data and linked records.

Backups

If you have your genealogy database on your own computer –  the pictures, scanned documents, all of those things are on your computer – you can make backups of them, so they’re safe.

Protection from website changes

The other advantage to having it on your own computer is just the peace of mind that if that website has problems or goes down or something happens, you’ve still got your own copy.  So, you don’t have to worry about that.

Reporting

Another advantage of having your data on your own computer is the fact that there are unique things you can do in a desktop program that there just isn’t the computational power to do on a website. Things like doing massive merges and generating large reports. Those are things that if your data is up on website, the only way you can get all of the data, for example, for your whole database in a report is to download all of that data into a report or have the website actually have the computational power to generate that report, and then send you that report over the internet. Both of those are very difficult to do, transporting that data back and forth or being able to generate enough computational power for each individual user. If you have thousands or millions of users you can’t, as a website, dedicate that much power to each one of those users. Whereas on your own personal computer, that computer is only working on your what you’re doing.

Lisa: That’s a great point. I mean, I’m a huge advocate of having what I call it my master family tree in my software on my computer for all the security reasons you mentioned.

You also talked about, which I think is so important, that ability to slice and dice and have so many layers of data that we can analyze. And I think the more ways we can look at our data the better so that we can learn more from it.

The Origins of RootsMagic

When did RootsMagic begin? I feel like it’s been out there forever.

Bruce: The actual RootsMagic program was released in 2003. I actually had written a program called Family Origins before that, which was kind of a predecessor to it. It was sold through another company. I did all the development and everything and they did the sales and marketing. That was release in about 1991. So, we went about 10 years as Family Origins, and probably about almost about 20 years as RootsMagic.

RootsMagic 8

Lisa: that’s amazing. And it’s gone through many different versions. Of course, the most recent release was RootsMagic. Eight. Tell us about that. When did that come out? And what are what are we getting now?

Bruce: RootsMagic 8 came out October 2021.  In January 2021 we released a kind of public community preview. So, we did about 10 months of just letting users pound on it and complain about it and give us opinions  – you should change this, this doesn’t work right, or I like this, or I don’t like that. We were able to use a lot of that information.

We released it in October 2021 and it’s by far our biggest update. It was a total rewrite. We basically started from scratch, because there were a lot of things in the earlier versions that could really bog you down. You’d go into the older versions of RootsMagic, and you’d be looking at a screen with people, and if you wanted to see your places you’d have to pop up another screen. If you wanted to see your sources, you’d have to pop up a separate screen to see your sources. And so, you had to go into these multiple levels of depth, screen after screen. to get to things. Then, when you were ready to get back to your people, you’d have to close each pop-up screen to get back. So that was one of the things that we really wanted to fix with version 8.

In version 8 one of the big things is kind of the overall workflow to doing things. Instead of always being on a person screen, and then hopping to sources, or hopping to places or hopping to tasks or hopping to something else, and then going into that, and then when you’re done backing out, and then to go to something else, you have to go back, what we did is we created multiple views in the program. So, there’s the person view. You can be looking at any person, and if you want to see the places, you just change your view to the place view. It’s not a separate pop-up window. You can switch to that view and switch right back. And you can switch from the person view to a place view, and then switch directly from that to source view, and then directly to a task view or the address view. You can switch between these views without having to always come back to that person view. So, it really speeds up getting things done. 

Another great thing about these views is since they’re not a pop-up, whatever you’re looking at on that view stays on that view. So, if I’m looking at the places and I select a particular place, I see all the information about it. If I want to look at a source, I can switch to the sources. And when I switch back to that place view, I’m still working with the same place as I was before, I’m not having to go back into a place pop-up and then search for that place again to get back to where I was. It just it basically keeps in its’ memory a lot more things. You’re not having to search over and over for that same thing. When you’re on it, you’re on it.

Lisa: That makes a lot of sense. What you offer over an online tree is all of these different ways to look at our data.

Why Does RootsMagic Need Changing?

Is it that over the years with all the different updates those layers kind of accumulated and then it brings you to a place where it needs updating?

Bruce: Exactly!

And every time you come up with an update, we think ‘oh, we’re going to add this new feature.’ So, for example, in the past we added to do lists, and then we added research logs and then we added the ability to do more stuff with sources. Every time we added something it was like, ‘Oh, well, the best way to do that is to pop-up a new screen and put everything there.’ And every time you added a new feature, it just added another thing you had to, like going back and forth.

Now if we were to add a new type of feature, we don’t necessarily have to make a pop-up. We can create another view and make it always available so that you can switch in and out of it without losing your place within that view.

Lisa: So, it was a complete rewrite, and I know that it synchronizes with some of the online family trees websites. It had to have been an arduous process. You said that you went through months and months of user testing, which I think is fantastic. So many times, you look at a website, and you think they must never have run this past anybody who ever used it, because it doesn’t look like it runs the way a user would use it. How was that process for you? Was that a difficult decision to invest the time upfront, and have people wait until it can be launched the way you felt like it needed to be?

Bruce: We were still fixing bugs too. So, it wasn’t like we took a completely bug free program and asked users to try it out. They were finding bugs and reporting bugs, and they were also reporting this is overly complicated here to do. And so, there were places where we would tear something out and change it a little bit, or we would leave something the way it was working because we liked it.

Some of the users found it was harder than what they were used to. So, we went back and added functionality that was more similar to what they maybe were used to. Probably our biggest challenge even now is users that are coming from RootsMagic 6 or 7 that have been using it forever. All of a sudden 8 works different. It’s not the same, and they feel like ‘oh, this is harder to use’ when in reality, it really isn’t, it’s just different. We have new users that are coming over from other programs or from no program at all, and they overwhelmingly love the way it works. They love the way they can get around and switch to any view. They overwhelmingly love it.

It’s our own existing longtime users that seem to have the most issues with it, which is unfortunate. A lot of that is just because it doesn’t work the same as it used to. I’m the same way. I understand completely! For example, with my programming tool suite, if a new version of my programming tools come out, and they work quite a bit different than it was, I almost immediately hate it! But after I use it for a while, I’m like, ‘Okay, I guess I can see why they did this.’ But I had my I had my groove, and now my groove was disrupted. The hotkeys are not the same, for example. I used to be able to do all this, this, and this and something was done. Now it’s like, I have to do different alt keys, I have to click twice instead of hitting four Alt keys. And so, for them it feels like it takes longer, when in reality, there are fewer steps. It’s just not what somebody is used to.

Lisa: Right, change is always a little challenging!

Bruce: I understand it completely because I’m the same way.

Can RootsMagic Run on a Mac?

Lisa: Can we use this on a PC and a Mac?

Bruce: Yes. With version 8, we now have a native Mac version and a native Windows version. They both work exactly the same.

If you use one and then switch to the other, it looks exactly the same except it’s got little red, yellow and green dots instead of x’s. But yes, they have the same file format. They have the same set of commands.

Many times, you’ll have a software product that the Mac version and the Windows version are quite a bit different. That’s because they’re completely separate sets of code. You have one team developing Mac, and one team developing Windows. They look and work differently and maybe sometimes even have different file formats.

With this, they’re the same. They look and feel the same. The command structures are the same, the screens are the same, the file format is the same. In fact, when we sell the program, you get a key, and it’s good for both the Windows and the Mac version. So, if you have a Windows computer and a Mac computer, when you buy the program, you’re entitled to use both versions. You can install one on your Mac and one on your Windows computer.

Top Features of RootsMagic 8

Lisa: That’s terrific. So, we’ve talked about all the new great views, and that it works on both PC and Mac. That’s two great features. What’s your third favorite thing about the new program?

Bruce: Well, it’s a tie. It’s a tie between tasks, which are new, and our new report engine.

Reports

We rewrote our reporting engine. In the older version our reports were using a word processor control that we licensed. It had some limitations. It couldn’t create really large reports. And there was a bunch of things with it that we didn’t like, but we couldn’t fix because it was a third-party product.

When we switched to going both Windows and Mac, the product was only available for Windows, so we had to rewrite the report engine from scratch. It’s giving us a lot more flexibility to do things on reports in the future.

One of the things we can do in reports is instead of saving as a rich text file, we can save report as actual Word .docx files, an actual Word document. It comes into your word processor, whether it’s Word, or whether it’s Libre, or whatever you use. They can all read a .docx file. It’s a lot more structured. It’s not quite as rolling the dice that it will work as RTF as RTF was. 

Tasks

Then with tasks, we kind of combined things in RootsMagic 7.  We had to do lists. We had research logs, we had correspondence logs, we had all these things, which all were very similar. What we did is we kind of replaced those all with what we call tasks.

Tasks are super flexible. You just create a task, and that task in RootsMagic can link to almost anything. It can link to people, places, sources, citations, addresses, and media. What’s nice is, instead of having like a hardwired Research Log, where you go in and say I want to create a research log, and this is what it’s, and going in and manually adding items to that research, you can just create a task. You attach it to whatever people or families or events or sources or places you want. Then when it comes time to generate a report, you just say give me all the tasks that are attached to this group of people that are within 50 miles of this place. You end up with customized research logs. So, instead of having to create a fixed research log, and then adding individual items to it that only belong to that, you take these tasks that are attached to any number of things. Then you just tell it, give me a list of all the tasks for whatever criteria you want. The result is a completely customized Research Log, customized to do list, whatever you want to use it for.

That’s one of my favorites. It’s super flexible. It can be a little confusing to work with at the beginning. But once you kind of see what’s going on and the simplicity – that all you have to do is create a task and attach it to whatever you want – it’s great.

RootsMagic Help and Website Features

Lisa: Tell folks a little bit about the website. You guys have always been in the forefront of providing support and education for being able to use your program to its fullest capability.

Bruce: From the website, you can access, basically everything we have.

Help Chat

When you go to the website, down on the bottom corner, there’s a chat feature. You can chat with our tech support if you need help. They can answer questions and help you out.

RootsMagic Wiki

We also have a wiki. We’ve moved away from the online help of the past. You’ll find it on our website in the menu under Learn. It’s nice because it’s much better than help, for several reasons. One, we can keep it updated. With the old Help feature, if we change or add something, you don’t know about it unless we remember to update the Help file. Now, as soon as we add something, we can stick it on the wiki.

The other thing that’s nice about the wiki is that we can put videos and more graphics and links in there to other topics. Everything you could possibly want to know about how to use RootsMagic is there in the wiki. 

Videos and YouTube Channel

We have tutorial videos and our YouTube channel. We have a bunch of YouTube videos on how to use the program.

Webinars

We also have the videos of webinars we’ve done. We’ve been slacking a little bit, the last few months, and we haven’t had a webinar recently. We need to get back on that. But all of the webinars that we’ve had, and we’ve recorded, they’re available up there to watch as well.

Online Community

We have an online community, a message board, that’s very active. We of course have a blog with articles on all kinds of help topics. And we have our email newsletter. That’s kind of where we notify people when there are updates or if there are things we need to contact them about. We do that mainly through our email newsletter. So, all of those things are available through the website.

New Website

We redid the website at the same time that we released RootsMagic 8. The old website was kind of clunky. It wasn’t mobile responsive. So, we redid it all.

User Groups

Oh, I guess we also have a list of user groups on our website, too. There are user groups all over the country, in fact they are worldwide. It also includes a list of people who want to start a user group. So, if somebody wants to start a user group in their area because there isn’t one, they can give us their name and contact information. We can put that up so people can connect easily and quickly.

Lisa: There is certainly a lot that’s new this year at RootsMagic. Bruce, thank you so much for stopping by. It’s been terrific talking with you!

Resources

Download the  ad-free Show Notes handout  (Premium Members exclusive)

 

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