Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wonder Roots

Most of the day was spent cleaning up loose ends. A feed of recently published books listed on Amazon.com was added to the catalog. Additional FHL microfilm resources were loaded. Added "Getting Your Resources Included in Live Roots" for data providers.

Multimedia support for Pocket Genealogist v. 3.30

In a press release out today, Northern Hills Software announced the release of Pocket Genealogist 3.30 with support for multimedia transfers to the device. As with all Version 3 releases, this is a free update for all those who have already purchased Version 3. The biggest change in this release is the ability to transfer photos and images to the handheld device for viewing along with other family history data. This feature does require the ‘Advanced’ version of Pocket Genealogist, and media objects are ‘view only.’ Pocket Genealogist, the award winning product of Northern Hills Software LLC, is the leader in genealogy software for Windows Mobile Smartphones and Pocket PCs. For the complete list of the other 15 changes visit the version change log on Northern Hills Software web site.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roots Without Limits

As I continue to develop the features of Live Roots (a process that will continue well beyond the initial launch), I'm learning new techniques that are also being applied to some of my existing sites, resulting in better performance for the server. Also today, I added an RSS feed for the Discover feature of the site for those visitors that wish to be kept up-to-date with the latest finds.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Site Changes

I implemented some changes that were suggested during the preview: (1) items which involve fees now have a "($)" listed after their link; (2) in the search box, if you enclose a phrase in double quotes, the site will perform a title search, (3) the first batch of FHL microfilm resources were loaded into the catalog, and (4) links to the NEGHS transcriptions have been corrected to point to their new locations. The site was mentioned on the Family History Tracing blog today.

The Arts in New Orleans

Continuing her series on New Orleans, in "The Arts in New Orleans," Judy Rosella Edwards reminds us of the great traditions in entertainment that take their roots from New Orleans and its diverse population. The article sheds light on researching ancestors who may have been among the many performers who came and went in New Orleans.

MyHeritage acquires Kindo and opens operation in London

MyHeritage, a popular family web site, has announced the acquisition of family social network Kindo, according to a report on bizcommunity.com. MyHeritage has more than 25 million members worldwide and is known for its powerful technology that helps families research their history and stay connected, including Smart Matching and automatic photo tagging. The Kindo team's experience in social networking, the article said, will help MyHeritage realize its vision to be the Facebook for families. As part of this acquisition, MyHeritage will also establish new commercial operations in London.

Beyond the Index

indexes are invaluable tools for accessing original information; however, they are subject to error and can be deceiving. In the article, "Beyond the Index," the issue of transcriber error is discussed, along with some ideas for getting around the sometimes strange convolutions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Livening up the Roots

Today my focus was on the "live" aspect of the project, adding a more detailed explanation of the "Ask a Live Person" process. Throughout the day additional genealogists were invited to preview the site. Oh, and the Genealogy Insider mentioned the project this morning.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What is Live Roots?

The first day of testing went well, and some of the observations led me to make alterations on the site and add a better explanation of how to best use the services. It took me several hours to really focus in on the practical benefits, but was time well spent.

Ohio county histories online

Those with Ohio ancestry will no doubt be interested in a web site highlighted recently in The Norman Transcript,featuring local area histories for Ohio counties. The site, "Heritage Pursuit The Place For Historians And Genealogists," hosts two separate home pages, each offering different Ohio counties and databases. Most, if not all, of these county histories were published by W. H. Beers of Chicago and offer information about the townships within the counties, as well as biographical sketches of some individuals who lived in those counties at the time they were written. The county histories can be accessed by surname or other choices the researcher may make. The entire site can be searched or you can make a selection which includes individual counties, some specific databases within some counties, and various family trees that are applicable to the lineage of the webmaster. If you have Ohio ancestry you may want to check out this site to see if your ancestor is listed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Let's kick the Tires (a little)!

While I've pitched the Live Roots concept to many of my genealogy friends over the past year, allowing them play with it for the first time will provide me with much better feedback. Today, I cleaned up a few items and invited the first batch of testers to kick off an alpha test phase while I finish programming some of the minor features.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Countdown to Launch Date!

With a self-imposed objective of launching Live Roots by October 10th, there are just twenty days left for putting finishing touches on the site. This blog will serve to announce updates (both content and programming) made to the site before and after the launch.

Online help for deciphering old handwriting

The Genealogy column on TribStar.com suggests a web site aimed at helping to decipher handwriting in old documents. According to the article, all genealogists are challenged to some degree when they have to read and interpret documents in original handwriting. And the further back in time the handwriting sample is, the greater the challenge, until our own language looks foreign to us. A Web site aimed at scholars and researchers aspires to change all of that. English Handwriting 1500-1700, An online course, is a remarkably professional and thorough course of study, certainly equivalent to a college class. The site is at www.english.cam.ac.uk/ceres/ehoc/index.html and contains 28 self-guided lessons ranging in degree of difficulty from 1 to 5. Each lesson divides the computer screen into four sections, taking the user step by step through the process of analysis. The site also has lots of supporting data and sample transcriptions to "shortcut" the process for those not wanting to take the 28 lessons.

This is a great site to visit to refine your skills in transcribing old handwriting. Anyone graduating from this online classroom will be close to an “expert” by the time they are finished, the article said. The site is free to use with no registration.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sharing Old Photos

Pretty much everyone has a collection of old photos, many with minimal to no identifying information. Such photos typically end up at the bottom of the picture box and stored away -- sometimes even thrown away. Similarly, there may be photos and other memorabilia of casual friend, acquaintances, or distant relatives that really have no place in the family story or the family album. These, too, may get stored away and eventually trashed. Today there are options for sharing these photos. The article, "Sharing Old Photos," discusses some of the options. It's possible to end up being the recipient as well as the contributor to the cause.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Ethnicity of New Orleans Immigrants

Immigrants arriving at the Port of New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century defy stereotype, suggests Judy Rosella Edwards in her article, "The Ethnicity of New Orleans Immigrants." While the Acadian and Creole populations may be most commonly associated with Louisiana, many others passed through the city gates, some stayed, others were on their way elsewhere. "There was clearly a Jewish presence prior to the mid-1800s," and many others. The article highlights a number of useful resources for researching the diverse groups entering this important southern gateway.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Site offers range of printable genealogy charts

Recent press release announced a new web site offering more than 20 printable family tree templates and blank genealogy charts with variations designed for everyone from the seasoned genealogy buff to schoolchildren working on class projects. All of the family trees and charts at www.FamilyTreeTemplates.net can be instantly downloaded and printed for free in PDF form (compatible with Adobe Acrobat and similar readers), and a $4 premium version is available in .DOC format. The .DOC versions are fully editable with Microsoft Word, so users need only click and type to customize them and add family members' names to the already-formatted templates.

"These family tree templates will make it easy to record family roots," said Kevin Savetz, who created the site. "I've included a wide variety of family trees and charts, from multi-generational genealogy charts to cute, simple charts for kids. Also, we found that there aren't many printable family trees available especially for children who have been adopted, so we've included one on FamilyTreeTemplates.net."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Highlights for September 14th, 2008

Schools for blind/deaf/mute often contain very interesting information. The Clarke Inst. for Deaf-Mutes 1881 Report not only includes the names of the students, but also the reason for their deafness.

Two reports for the Fire Department of the District of Columbia (1905 Report and 1908 Report) include rosters and casualty & injury reports for the year.

Here are two more newsletters from the Metropolitan Life company: The Metropolitan, Volume XIX, No. 11 and The Metropolitan, Volume XX, No. 1 (partial).

These are just some of the 21 resources published today. Every week I send out a complete listing of the items added. If you'd like to join this RootsWeb mailing list called GenToday-L, click here for instructions.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On the go with MobileFamilyTree 1.2

Synium Software has announced MobileFamilyTree 1.2, the Mobile version of its popular genealogy application. MobileFamilyTree is an iPhone and iPod Touch companion for MacFamilyTree. In just about a month, MobileFamilyTree has gained high rankings at the App Store — the first and only genealogy tool for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Migration Patterns Reflected by Township Government

We've all seen the "Twp" designation in census records, referring to a local township, and unless you are familiar with townships, you may assume a township to be a small, early American community akin to a village. In fact, the subject of townships is a little more complex, sometimes controversial, and even telling when it comes to understanding when and where townships were organized and by whom. In her article, "Migration Patterns Reflected by Township Government," Judy Rosella Edwards focuses on this latter aspect, the genealogical value of township research, clarifying the term and its dual meaning along the way. A study of early townships may be one way to trace your ancestors back in time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Memoirs Versus Written Family History

Summer is the time for getting out and doing research, visiting family, taking a trip, visiting a local library, cemetery, or courthouse. As fall sets in, followed by a long winter, it's a good time to reflect and get started on your family history. In his article, "Memoirs Versus Written History," Alan Smith lends encouragement and addresses some of the questions. Just one step at a time, and come spring, you efforts could produce into a solid piece of work to share with others.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Free SSDI now at GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank, a leading provider of historical and recent newspapers for family history research, announced in a press release that the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) will now be offered free of charge at GenealogyBank.com. Best of all, it can be cross-searched with the thousands of newspapers and government documents available through GenealogyBank, offering researchers unsurpassed firsthand perspectives of the triumphs, struggles and daily lives of their American ancestors.

"GenealogyBank's Social Security Death Index is unique with weekly updates, easy-to-use format and comprehensive coverage," says Tom Kemp, Genealogy Director for NewsBank, inc. "It's simply the most comprehensive index online. Making it available for free is our way of giving back to the genealogy community." Exclusive features include the full date of death (including day of the week) and the deceased's age (expressed in years, months and days).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ancestry.com announces new genetics partnership

In a recent press release, Ancestry.com announced its partnership with 23andMe, a personal genetics service. According to the report, the 23andMe Personal Genome Service(TM) provides "unprecedented," individual access to genetic information, including deep ancestry analysis developed by the 23andMe science team. Users of the Ancestry.com DNA service will now have access to the same ancestral content available through the 23andMe website, designed to give people a deeper understanding of their past.

Monday, September 8, 2008

MyHeritiage launches face recognition feature

According to a recent article on WashingtonPost.com, the Tel Aviv-based family tree site MyHeritage has received a $15 million second-round investment from London's Index Ventures, and is now launching a face-recognition feature said to help users organize photos based on who appears in the photos. It can also be used with photos on sites like Flickr, Facebook and Picasa, the article said.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Highlights for September 7th, 2008

There are no updates this week as I am traveling for the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Philadelphia.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Colonial social custom and how to impress the guests

Always of interest is the life and times of our ancestors -- little insights into everyday living that help us see them as real people with intentions, motivations, and sensitivities no different than our own. In her article, "The Pineapple as a Symbol of Colonial Prosperity," Melissa Slate reveals how the "exotic" pineapple figured in the social life of Colonial America and it's potential to impress. What today, I wonder, would be the pineapple's equivalent, probably nothing quite as simple.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Family Footsteps, Austrailian TV series

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the History Channel's The Ties That Bind was a program offering that took Australians to the countries of their family origin. More recently, the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are aired here in its British and local incarnations, both equally compelling. The documentary series, Family Footsteps, the article says, is a "simpler, rougher-hewn exploration of identity in which the subjects undertake a similar journey of self-discovery." In the recently aired September 3 program, Perth's Andrew Paul visited Uganda, a country his family fled in 1971.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

DNA Refresher, Part 2

In this second article, "Genetic Genealogy and Family Tree Research, Part 2," Teresa Hilburn completes her discussion on the use of DNA testing in genealogy, and discusses the National Geographic Worldwide Genographic DNA Project, and her own experiences with DNA testing. While it may not answer all research questions, modern DNA research is fascinating.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

FamilySearch pilot project - check back often

FamilySearch announced that its pilot project continues to add names and data. About 1.2 million new images have been added to the Web site, bringing the total up to 43.6 million documents and records, according to an article in the Terre Haute News. Lately, the 1841 and 1861 British censuses have been added to the site with links to findmypast.com.

Although the images from the pilot project are being tied to two commercial Web sites — ancestry.com and findmypast.com — FamilySearch ensures the public of its intention to keep the indexes to the databases free and open to all. However, access to the actual images may not always be free to everyone. This is a good reason to check back often as more databases are added to the pilot project and before they are turned over for fee-based viewing.