I had a great experience earlier this week. My son has shown some interest in family history. My wife has ancestors in England that we have been researching for some time and I was stuck on where to go next. I invited my son down to the Family History Library and we spent about two hours with a research consultant in B-2 (the British Area). One of the research consultants helped us and I learned a new technique for finding ancestors and learning more information about them. In the space of less than two hours we were able to identify more than thirty new ancestors we had not found before and gain clues about many others.
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to try out MyHeritage.com. MyHeritage has been around for a few years now. Their primary product has been family trees and they have specialized in helping families work together.
When many people think of family history, they think of Aunt Mabel. The image conjured up is that of someone who is a little eccentric whose idea of a good time is going to a cemetery to take rubbings of headstones or visiting a county courthouse to pour through county records.
Wednesday night, at the blogger dinner, FamilySearch made a number of announcements. First off, they released that there are more than 6,700 registrants in advance of the conference. This makes RootsTech the largest genealogical conference in North America. In only its third year that is a remarkable achievement. It has become the “not to miss” conference in the genealogical world. If you did not pre-register you can still register at the door. A one day pass is only $89. The exhibit hall is open for free.
After six years of development and testing FamilySearch has released its Family Tree product to the general public. I have written about new.FamilySearch.org and then Family Tree a number of times over the past few years as FamilySearch did regular releases of the software to try to perfect the experience for those researching their ancestors.
The growth of indexed family history records has allowed the development of new family history experiences. The goal of a variety of companies has been to allow individuals with less genealogical experience to have success.
It is nearly time again this year for RootsTech. This has become one of the best genealogical conferences in the United States, and it is right in our back yard. The conference runs from March 21-23. This year will have more sessions, a bigger display floor, and larger attendance that ever before.
I published this article a few years ago, but recently I have received some questions about it again so I thought I would re-print the article. If you have information that shows your line traced back to Adam, I don’t mean to offend you. I only hope to dispel the misinformation that exists on this topic.
If you have Mormon immigrant ancestors there is a resource of which you may be unaware. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has substantial records of those who travelled to Utah during the period when the saints were commanded to gather to Utah.
There has been significant focus on the Social Security Death Index by Congress in the last year. It is a good example of government reacting to public misunderstanding and actually making a problem they are trying to solve worse rather than better.
Recently the Social Security Administration reported the most popular baby names from 1901. The following is the list. This may give you some insight into why your grandparents or great grandparents have their name:
Virtually all of us are immigrants. Our ancestors may have come across on the Mayflower, or in one of the subsequent waves of immigration. We may have ancestors from Germany, England, Wales, Scotland, Italy, Africa, China, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, or any one of a hundred other countries that have made up the wonderful melting pot that has formed the United States. We are a nation of immigrants.
The online world has created many opportunities to find additional information and connect with others who are researching our ancestors like never before. The ability to search indexes and view the original images from home at our convenience is changing the world of family history. Digital is here to stay and will continue to enhance our ability to identify our ancestors, but it does bring some challenges.
This last week there were two major announcements from the organizations working on indexing the 1940 census. Work began early April to take the millions of digital images created from the enumerators work as they visited each household in 1940 and transcribe the information into a searchable index. This allows individuals to search for those in the census by name rather than browse through hundreds or thousands of images to find their ancestors.
Pioneer Day is the perfect time to pull out family books of remembrance and journals. I did just that this past week. It pulled me in and reminded me of grandparents who have been gone for many years. Two hours later I had read many pages and reminisced about the time I spent with my grandmother before she died. What I did not expect to find, although I knew my grandparents were both born in Morgan, was a history of Enterprise. It was a surprising history to me. My grandmother, Martha Vera Mecham Ogden, recorded many of her memories and this was among her writings.
The Genealogy Star blog this week reported that editing has now come to FamilySearch’s new version of their family tree. The family tree will be a replacement for new FamilySearch when it is released. It has been in development for many months and its aim is to fix many of the challenges with the current tree.
For some reason lately it seems that I have received many questions about Personal Ancestral File (PAF). PAF is a genealogical record manager created by FamilySearch nearly 20 years ago. It started as a DOS program and then eventually was ported to Windows. It has been one of the more widely used record mangers for genealogical work, particularly among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Geni.com had a wonderful infographic this week that I thought would be worth sharing. Geni provides an online family tree service to help individuals find their families and collaborate with family members. This is only a portion. The entire graphic can be found at http://www.geni.com/blog/independence-day-by-the-numbers-375769.html I hope you enjoy it and that you had a wonderful fourth of July.
For the past several months FamilySearch has been quietly growing a presence on Facebook and on Skype. It began with just a few pages focused on Ohio and one or two other states, but has turned into a much larger initiative with more than 100 pages and more than 20,000 “likes.” For the non-Facebook users, a “like” is when someone goes to the page, sees something he or she likes or wants to promote to their friends and clicks on a button that indicates it is something they like. 20,000 likes is a very respectable number for Facebook pages.
The Chief Genealogical Officer at FamilySearch is a world-renowned Irish researcher. Irish records are challenging and often necessitate a visit to Ireland to fully research the records. He is fond of saying, “You don’t have to visit Ireland. You GET to visit Ireland.”
This last week the Queen of England celebrated 60 years on the throne with a Diamond Jubilee. She has now served longer than any other monarch since Queen Victoria, who reined for 63 years. Many residents of Morgan have English ancestry.
Memorial Day is a great time for family history. Each year my family makes an outing to three or four cemeteries. A part of our outing is that we have breakfast at the same restaurant each year. While it may be true that the kids enjoy breakfast more than the cemetery visits, our annual trek has become family tradition, one that my kids even seem to enjoy and look forward to.
Utah will be available to search by name within the next day or two in the 1940 census at FamilySearch.org. The total states published to search by name as of the present time are Delaware, Virginia, Colorado, Kansas, Oregon, New Hampshire, Utah, Florida, and Wyoming. An additional seven states are close to release. They are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Vermont and Hawaii. Several other states are completing quickly. The project is nearly 50 percent complete.
A growing method to help in genealogical research is DNA. For the past decade DNA genealogy is been gaining ground in the community. DNA testing can determine whether two individuals are related. Descendants believed to have a common ancestor can be tested. The test can help to prove, or disprove genealogical theories. It can also point to genealogical research that has been completed and indicated a family connection. Even where no other family member has participated in a DNA study, the DNA results can point to likely places in the world from which ancestors originated.
Many years ago I visited The Family History Library. I had received a significant amount of genealogical information from my grandmother and I wanted to continue the work that she and my grandfather had done over many years. I had never done genealogical research before and I understood little about what was required. I was anxious to learn what I needed to do and find additional information.
FamilySearch has quietly published free access to all of the United States Census, just as the 1940 project gets seriously underway. More than a year ago FamilySearch announced a joint project with Ancestry.com to improve the currently published censuses. Ancestry provided their index to the censuses and volunteers at FamilySearch did a second index of all the names. The results were then arbitrated to create a better quality index. FamilySearch created a new set of higher quality digital images from the original microfilm for many of the years as well.
The National Genealogical Society conference is coming up this year in Cincinnati, May 9-12. Each year this represents one of the best opportunities to meet other genealogists, and learn from some of the best researchers in the nation.
Well, it’s finally here. On April 2, the United States National Archive released the images of the 1940 census. Almost immediately the National Archive site was virtually down, it was so slow. Over the past week the site performance has steadily improved, but it continues to run a little slow. What is not as well known is that the images are also available on FamilySearch.org/1940census and on Ancestry.com . Both of these sites are making the images available for free. If you know where your ancestor lived, you can now find the image in the census. If you don’t know where they lived you can go to FindMyPast.com who has offered to find your ancestor for you in the 1940 census. Images will also shortly be available on FindMyPast.com.
Writing a personal history can be daunting. If you are like me, most of your journal entries begin with, “It’s been a while since I have written in my journal.” Many individuals struggle with writing a daily journal. A history of your life, however, will likely be the greatest gift that you can leave your family behind. I guarantee that it will be treasured in generations to come as your life experiences will give them hope, insight, and understanding.
If you have Scottish records now is a great time to be searching online. FindMyPast has just released the 1881 Scottish census on FindMyPast.com. There are over 3.7 million records in the collection. This is added to the 1841 to 1871 censuses already on their site.
Apple has been in the news lately for their digital books and particularly for textbooks. More relevant to genealogists but with much less fanfare, FamilySearch announced that they now have more than 40,000 ebooks published online.
RootsTech has become the do not miss conference in the genealogical world. It brings together the best and brightest from the genealogical and the genealaogical technology worlds in one space. I have written a few articles about it over the past few months.
Privacy issues are in the news nearly every week. Whether it is Google changing its policies, or new legislation restricting the use of personal information. Privacy legislation is often the bane of genealogical research, however, and it is also often more public relations than good public policy.
I know I have written a few times about the 1940 census, but here I go again. We are only a little over a month from the release of the census. If you have not signed up to index I encourage you to do so.
There is a troubling trend worldwide, for genealogists, that seems to be taking root here in the United States. For many years, The National Archives of the United Kingdom has been making money on the records over which they have stewardship. They have entered into partnerships with commercial entities and receive royalties for many of the records that are published online. The National Archives of Sweden has followed suit and is now charging for access to their records.
Like the United States, the British have taken regular censuses. The first censuses were taken far back in history and were primarily designed so that the king or queen would know how many soldiers they could marshal during wartime and to assess the total property which could be taxed. In England, the first census that contains genealogical data is the 1841 census.
A few years ago a new site emerged online with a large number of fully searchable newspapers. The site is GenealogyBank.com and it contains information on millions of American families from 1690 to the present from over 5,800 newspapers. There are more than twenty newspapers in Utah alone that are searchable on the site.
There are many online blogs relating to family history, but one of the best is Eastman’s Online Genealogical Newsletter (EOGN) which is located at blog.eogn.com . Dick Eastman, who writes the blog, has long been one of the best voices in what is happening in the family history world. He attends all of the major conferences, and covers news from all of the major genealogical players. He also writes about technology. His practical approach to technology is a great addition to those who follow the newsletter and have an interest in learning how to use technology in their lives and to pursue family history.
As the clock ticks towards the release of the 1940 census, FamilySearch released new information on how they plan to produce a free version of the census, both index and images. They said the following:
A few weeks ago FamilySearch released the following announcement:
FamilySearch International announced today a change in its chief executive officer. Effective January 2, 2012, Dennis C. Brimhall will succeed Jay L. Verkler as CEO of FamilySearch. Mr. Verkler will continue in a consulting capacity for a few months to ensure a smooth transition.
If you’re looking for a little warm weather at this time of year a good place to look is St George. The Family History Expos conference will take place February 24 and 25, 2012. Just in time to give a little warmth after the cold winter months.
Many times family history is thought of as an activity for those who have retired. When we picture a genealogist we often have in our minds the elderly aunt who is surrounded by books, photos, pedigree charts, and other family history documents. While it is true that family history is a growing hobby of retired individuals, the demographic of those participating in family history is changing.
The genealogical community is filled with opportunities for service and with those who give service. I am so thankful to all the genealogists who give of their time to help others be successful. I have rarely seen any group of individuals who are so willing to give of their personal time.
Nearly everyone will have heard of Wikipedia. It began as a project and a software product. The concept was that an encyclopedia could be created online in a collaborative fashion. Wikipedia grew out of an online encyclopedia written by experts, but community content rapidly outpaced the expert contributions. In the first year only 20,000 entries were created. Wikipedia now boasts more than 3.6 million articles. Studies of accuracy have been done and place Wikipedia at an accuracy rate comparable to expert authored encyclopedias. It is the best case, worldwide, of community collaboration creating wide content, high quality content at a very low cost.
Have you ever wondered what the town looked like where your parents or grandparents grew up? If you have then the answer may be just a search away. Many historical and genealogical sites are adding historical photos. One of the newest is a site that shows pictures of old San Francisco.