Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hurray Free Memberships!!! Full Steam Ahead!!!

Today I received an email from FamilySearch that I am entitled to free memberships at Ancestry.comMyHeritage.comFindMyPast.com. I knew this was coming. It was announced at RootsTech 2014 that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be eligible for free memberships because of collaboration and sharing of the resources of the church with these organizations.

I did not expect it would happen so soon. I surmised that maybe by the end of the summer I would be able to get my free memberships. I already had current memberships with Ancestry and My Heritage and I have had a membership with Find My Past before. It was very easy to make the transition to an LDS membership at all three sites. All three are now linked to my FamilySearch account.

I also paid my tuition for my next Genealogy course, Introduction to Genealogical Research, at Salt Lake Community College today.

Yesterday I started an online course at The National Institute of Genealogical Studies which is entitled Google for the Wise Genealogist.

Tomorrow I am going to start a 4-week class on Roots Magic software at the Riverton FamilySearch Library taught by Ron Ray.

It is full steam ahead for genealogy and family history in my life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

RootsTech 2014 Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results

D. Joshua Taylor taught the class on Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results GS1375. He is the lead genealogist for findmypast.com. He is also the current president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), I have seen him on the NBC TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?" And I have heard him lecture at other conferences. He is very organized and his presentations are always wonderful. He has very helpful syllabuses also.

I attended only part of this session. I was really overloaded with information by Saturday February 8, 2014 at 1:00 PM. I was doing something in the RootsTech Exhibit Hall and got to class late and it was packed.  It is usual for D. Joshua Taylor's classes to be packed.  But later I watched the entire session online at the rootstech 2014 web site. I gained many good insights to researching online.

I had never heard of Yippy.com before. But I think I will enjoy the expand and cluster approach to searching once I learn how to do it. It should be a helpful search engine to use.

Here are the five main points of the presentation:
1. Keep a family history "golden rule." This means that for every one hour spent researching you will spend approximately two hours planning the research and two hours following through. That seems like a long time, but it is probably worth it in order to save time in the long run.
2. Keep an updated research plan for websites. Mr. Taylor recommends electronic lists so they are always handy for whenever you have some time to research.
3. Organize your digital life. I really need to do this. I have a messy desktop on my computer and though I have started organizing my genealogy files, I have a lot more I can do.
4. Develop an "after research" system. This reminds me of David Dilts and his "Nine before You Recline" list, except Dilts wrote his system for paper research. Taylor recommends that you develop your own system to name, store and organize your files. It is critical to do the organizing right after each research session.
5. Prioritize your research. Taylor uses As, Bs, Cs, Ds. I think he must have read Alan Lakein's book on time management. He also suggested only working on researching two or three families at a time. Since everything you discover in research typically leads to two or three more places to search, it is important to limit the number of families you are working on or things can really get out of hand.

This was a very informative class. I would like to go back and view it again after about a year of genealogical research. I am sure that as I do more research the suggestions will make more sense and be even more valuable. I am glad that it is available online.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

RootsTech 2014 The New FamilySearch Indexing Program

On Friday February 7, 2014 I attended class RT1193 taught by Scott Flinders about the new FamilySearch Indexing Program. Scott Flinders is the product manager for FamilySearch Indexing. This was very interesting. There are some exciting changes coming. Some of the things that I remember that were exciting were:

  • The new program will be browser-based. It will not be necessary to download the indexing program to your computer. This will be great for a few people I know who use their employer's computers and are allowed to use these computers for personal use but are not allowed to download programs. At least that is the excuse they give me when I invite them to do indexing. 
  • There will be an indexer and a reviewer and this should save a lot of time. If the indexer and reviewer have different opinions, both opinions will be saved and be searchable. I am not sure if the arbitrator role will disappear entirely.
  • Researchers who find information because it was indexed will be able to send a thank-you email to the person who indexed the record.
  • Volunteers will be able to perform other roles such as setting up projects. This should reduce those images with "no extractable data" and "duplicate images." And the images should be easier to read if someone can adjust the readability of the images as they are being set up.
  • Indexers will be able to see a series of images in a project which will give more context to what they are working on. 
  • The program will suggest projects for the indexers to work on, based on their previous experiences and interests.
  • There will be gradual changes in colors, fonts, layout, etc. Some of these have happened since I attended RootsTech.
  • We do not know exactly when the new program will be fully operational. It will be later in the year, probably in August 2014 or after August 2014.
The Ancestry Insider blog has done a far better job than I have done of reviewing this class. Here is the link to the Ancestry Insider Review.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Every Family Has a Story, Discover Yours

I really enjoyed this short little video shown at RootsTech 2014.

Every Family Has a Story, Discover Yours

I shared it in my ward with the Relief Society and with my family.

RootsTech 2014 Keynote Speaker Judy Russell

Judy Russell is a lawyer and a certified genealogist. Her blog is called The Legal Genealogist. She teaches at several genealogy institutes and many conferences.

She was the first keynote speaker on Friday February 7, 2014. Her topic was something like Every Family Has a Story, What's Yours? She emphasized that pieces of oral family history can be lost in just three generations. It must be "purposely and accurately passed down from generation to generation." She used examples from her own family history.

I was so impressed with her presentation that I volunteered to give a lesson on this topic in our ward Relief Society on Tuesday March 4, 2014. I showed part of her presentation which was online at the RootsTech web site to the sisters and led a discussion about how to preserve our family history. Some of the sisters brought scrapbooks and journals and books that they had prepared and they told about them.
Judy Russell is very active in using and promoting DNA testing in genealogical research.

I really liked her story of how she discovered that her family was not descended from Alexander Baker of Massachusetts and how she broke the news at a family reunion. See The Cousin Who Isn't.

RootsTech 2014 Old World, New Records: findmypast.com as Key Resource for Tracing British Ancestry presented by Elaine Collins

Elaine Collins is Director of Global Partnerships and head of content acquisition for DC Thompson Family History. She talked about the core records that are part of the Find My Past collections and also about some new records that are becoming available. Some of the core records are census and BMD (birth, marriage and death) records as well as international passenger lists. Some new records are 19 million British rate books which predate census records.
There is a section of Find My Past called My Records which can serve as a research log. There are places for timelines, facts and events, included LDS ordinances. There is a Find My Past capture app for iPhone which will record interviews and take photos.
Parish register collections are being linked to the IGI or the International Genealogical Index.
More military records are being added, especially with the Imperial War Museums being established.
Actually they have more U.S. records than U.K. records just because there are more Americans than Britains. They have a very good Civil War collection.
Find My Past has partnered with Allen County Public Library to enhance PERSI or Periodical Source Index and make more original sources available digitally. See the news at Persi Finds New Home at Find My Past.
I do not know a lot about using Find My Past. I would like to spend four days at a conference or workshop just learning about it.

RootsTech 2014 What I Learned about DNA Testing and Family History Research

The second class that I attended on Thursday February 6, 2014 was RT1374 Advanced Techniques for Use of Autosomal DNA Tests to Break through Genealogical Brick Walls presented by Tim Janzen, M.D. Tim Janzen is a family practice doctor in Portland, Oregon. He has been interested in genealogy for many years. He is the co-administrator of the Mennonite DNA project and an advisor to the company 23andMe.

This was a very technical class. Dr. Janzen prepared a detailed syllabus for both of his presentations at RootsTech. (I only attended this one.) He gave urls to more online information including a link to the Power Point presentation that he used. The Power Point presentation covered a lot more information than he was able to present in the hour class.

I had not intended going to any of the presentations about DNA testing, but then my sister got her results from her testing at 23andMe just one week before RootsTech and she shared her results with me.
I was fascinated! I knew that genetics is a rather complicated discipline and had decided to focus on RootsTech classes that would be immediately helpful in my research. But after seeing her results I wanted to learn more. This is a subject that I could really delve into. It would be fun to go to the Institute for Genetic Genealogy First Annual Conference http://i4gg.org/  next August 16 and 17 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Washington D.C. This is going to be one geeky conference! If I were a younger person I might consider making a career of being a genetic genealogy researcher and learning how to do chromosome mapping and triangulation. I think there is a great future for DNA testing in genealogy.

I did not attend any of the other DNA classes, but I did visit all the related booths in the exhibit hall.
At the very last minute I purchased an Ancestry DNA test kit for the conference special price of $89. I collected a saliva sample from my mother and submitted it. Her genealogy paper trail has been completed for 5-6 generations back, so we did not find any new information yet. But there are at least a dozen family trees in ancestry.com that relate to her family tree. There are connections on the Rollins, Whitaker, Robinson and Bybee lines.