Category: Genealogy

Cool gadgets and gifts on every Genealogist’s wish list !

Over time, I have developed this list of my favorite and most wished for cool gadgets and gifts on every genealist’s wish list whether the occasion is Christmas, birthday, graduation, or any of life’s other milestones.

Apple – iPad with Retina Display 4th Generation 9.7″ 16 GB Wi-Fi Black Tablet – 2013 Model (iOS 6, LCD Touchscreen, 2048×1536, 10 Hours, Lightning Connector)

genealogist's wish list

Apple iPad with Retina Display 4th Generation 9.7 on the genealogist’s wish list.

Although in the past, I always used a laptop for portability, I find that I’m home all the time now and have replaced my old laptop with an all in one desktop with 23″ touch screen that I absolutely love.

Since I learned the lovely news that RootsMagic, my favorite genealogy software, has now released Mac and iOS compatible versions, I have decided that my next purchase will be the Apple iPad for portability – for those rare occasions when I do travel away from home.

Wizcom – QuickLink Pen Handheld Scanner (Infrared)

genealogist's wish list

Wizcom QuickLink Pen Handheld Scanner (Infrared) on the genealogist’s wish list.

I have an OCR conversion software for converting pdf and image files to be editable. This is an absolute must for my transcription efforts.

Although I don’t own a pen scanner, this is the next item on my list for my ‘portable pack.’

VuPoint Solutions – Magic Wand II Portable Photo + Document Scanner with Wi-Fi (Pewter) with 32GB Card + Reader + Case + Cloth

genealogist's wish list

Magic Wand II Portable Photo + Document Scanner with Wi-Fi and 32GB Card is on every genealogist’s wish list.

I did own this handheld scanner until my daughter knocked over my working table one day and broke it. I do intend to get another as it was great for scanning individual pages, open books, etc.

Couragent, Inc. – Flip-Pal mobile scanner

 on every genealogist's wish list.

Flip-Pal mobile scanner is on every genealogist’s wish list.

This is another scanner I don’t yet own, but I’m toying with purchasing this solely because of its portability and ability to ‘stitch’ images together. This is essential for scanning large documents, certificates, photos, charts, and diagrams.

WD – My Passport Slim BGMT0010BAL-NESN Portable External 1 TB Hard Drive (USB 3.0)

WD - My Passport Slim BGMT0010BAL-NESN Portable External 1 TB Hard Drive (USB 3.0)

My Passport Slim BGMT0010BAL-NESN Portable External 1 TB Hard Drive is on every genealogist’s wish list.

I swear by my portable, external hard drive. Using this in conjunction with SkyDrive, my genealogy data is always duplicated and secure. This is by far the best method I’ve found for safeguarding years of hard work and investment.

NMicro – NMicro 1TB USB 3.0 tiny mini micro Pen DRIVE Blue Series actual 28.8GB Free Space

on every genealogist's wish list

NMicro 32GB tiny mini micro Pen DRIVE Blue Series is on every genealogist’s wish list.

For those occasions when I don’t want to lug around the portable external hard drive, the micro pen drive is the answers. It is great for storing those scanner images, photos, etc. until I can get home and transfer them to my main system.

Magnabrite – 64mm Magnabrite® Light Gathering Magnifier

is on every genealogist's wish list

Magnabrite® 64mm Light Gathering Magnifier is on every genealogist’s wish list.

I haven’t been doing a lot of research in dimly lit, dusty old libraries, archives, etc., this is an amazing gift as it gathers and magnifies the ambient light to direct it at specific documents, books, etc. and making them more readable.

Nuance – Dragon NaturallySpeaking v.9.0 Preferred (Voice Recognition Mini Box – PC – English)

 is on every genealogist's wish list

Nuance – Dragon NaturallySpeaking v.9.0 Preferred is on every genealogist’s wish list.

I love my NaturallySpeaking software and use it all the time. It doesn’t work well when there are people around all the time, but for someone like me who is home alone during the weekdays, this software enables easy verbal transcription of documents, and then it’s just a matter of editing and formatting. Such a time saver!

I also swear by this because I like my blogs to have a more conversational tone, so I dictate my blog posts directly into the software for easy editing and formatting. If you’re a blogger with plenty of quiet time on your own, you really must try this.

NOTE: There is some ‘training’ required to increase accuracy, but except for a few ‘glitchy’ instances, I find it amazingly accurate.

Great Plains – WOW 4-in-1 Combo Stylus for Touchscreen Tablets

 is on every genealogist's wish list.

Great Plains 4-in-1 Stylus for Touchscreen Tablets is on every genealogist’s wish list.

Since I just purchased my very first touch screen computer – my new all in one – my next purchase will be a decent stylus for on screen actions and activities – and just for fun!

Antenna Shop – Antenna Shop Brief Bag with Stylish Carrying Case for Tablets and Gadgets (ASBBNB)

 is on every genealogist's wish list.

Antenna Shop Carrying Case for Tablets and Gadgets on every genealogist’s wish list.

I don’t think I have to say much about this one. Once I’ve purchased all of the items on my list above that I don’t already own, this would be an ideal case for carrying around the iPad and extraneous gadgets required to keep my genealogy research and blogging life simple – believe it or not!

Genealogy obsession in Iceland opens academic doors.

As I’ve written in previous posts, much of human history has involved the management of relationships, marriages, etc. to safeguard against incestuous relationships, and has resulted in an impressive genealogy obsession in Iceland.
Genealogy obsession in Iceland

Genealogy obsession in Iceland opens academic doors.

Iceland, with its population of only 320,000, is one small corner of the globe that still deals with the issues of living in the shallow end of the gene pool, manifesting in today’s Icelanders’ preoccupation with genealogy and family history.

In one instance, a group of students from the University of Iceland engineering department created a smart phone app, allowing users to simply bump phones to see if they have a common ancestor, as well as if there’s a relationship and just how close it is.

Prior to the smart phone app, the “Book of Icelanders” (Islendingabok), has been the receptacle of genealogy records. Kári Stefánsson, an Icelandic neurologist, created a web-based version of the “Book of Icelanders” to provide constant access to its users. Kári Stefánsson and Fridrik Skulason claim to have documented 95% of Icelanders of the past three hundred years.

A benefit of the impressive job Icelanders have done tracing their family genealogies, is the extensive collection of data available for studies and experiments in many  disciplines including science, social studies, health and genetics.

Another example of the benefits of pursuing genealogy was described in my previous post “Owning a home: Military least likely and fire fighters more likely to own”. In this case, a statistical analysis of census data by Ancestry.com provided data to study home ownership trends over the past century.

Although the thoughts of the current and future benefits of genealogical study are pleasant ones, consider the negative – how would such caches of genealogical information have been used during WWII in Germany? The thought is truly frightening.

Previous posts about this topic are:

Icelandic Ancestry: the Icelandic genealogy database is now available online. 

Ingenius incest prevention app created by University of Iceland students.

The Science of husbandry on a human scale.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

We must know the genealogy questions before we can find the answers.

It has become increasingly apparent recently that there are two distinct schools of thought regarding quality and depth in genealogy research. There are the genealogists who believe in working only with well-sourced, proven information – and then there are those of us who started our genealogical quests simply for the pleasure of doing so. Before either camp can begin searching for answers, they much first know the genealogy questions.
must know the genealogy questions

We must know the genealogy questions before we can find the answers.

My own research (see my Blythe Database) started with a curiosity about our history because I grew up in a military family that moved a great deal, and therefore I had very little opportunity to meet with near and distant family members to learn family stories and lore.

I do agree with the article “Take time to produce well-sourced, quality work,” on the Genealogy Today site, in which they respond to another article by Sharon Tate Moody in the Tampa Tribune, entitled “Drive-by genealogists should learn a few rules.” I am one who looks at unsourced information as possible clues to breaking down brick walls and answering questions. Although the information itself may be unsourced and seen as questionable, it can be regarded as a clue. When I receive gedcoms from others, or access information online, I do not discard what could be valuable information simply because there are no sources cited. I note the information, making it part of my own database, intending to return to it, find and cite concrete sources as I can.  Yes, I’ve found mistakes, but I have also found wonderful information allowing me to enlarge upon my family’s own stories.

I believe in the researchers’ responsibility for assessing the quality of the data they receive from others. I never take sources cited by others at face value, always working to find the sources cited and attach concrete proof in the form of images, etc.

Although a great deal of the Blythe Database attached to this site is not sourced, the majority of it is – the result of tireless work and ever increasing expense over 15 years. I have a clearly stated ‘Data Quality’ disclaimer linked in the upper horizontal menu of every page and post, and it states:

“The Blythe Database is my genealogy research in its entirety and is an ongoing process. I spend a minimum of four hours a day researching sources to verify data.

I have been researching genealogy for over fifteen years and you will note that I classify all sources by quality. If it is a poor quality source it is clearly indicated as such…

…It is common for there to be gaps in data and sources and in these cases I will use the individual anyway and either leave sources blank (indicating no sources found) or will clearly indicate source quality. It is up to the person using the data to use the information as classified.

I continually search out sources and documents to verify data and improve on substantiation. I have made some of my best discoveries using unsourced data as a starting point and I would hate for those clues to not be available.

This site is an effort to provide open, free sharing of genealogical information. However, all information is only as good as the sources cited.

I will gladly make corrections to data providing the information provided can be substantiated by the submitter with a source…”

Let’s face it: it’s quickly getting to the point where information gleaned from others will rarely include sources, images, etc. as more and more researchers become protective of their data. I understand as I struggle with my decision to openly share ALL of my information, but ultimately feel I’ve made the right decision, hopefully promoting more open and cooperative sharing of data by others as well.

Genealogy is a passion for me – and others. I enjoy the hunt as much as finding those elusive facts and sources. Maybe it’s my inner detective struggling to get out. Whatever the reason, my database will always have a substantial amount of unsourced data as I continually stumble upon new and hopefully ‘breakthrough’ information. I do, however, spend as much time as I can finding evidence and sources, but find (and I’m sure others do as well) that each new discovery raises numerous new questions, and finding those answers takes a great deal of time and effort.

There will never be an end to my quest…

photo credit: droetker0912 via photopin cc

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions – 14 Oct 2014

Sorry for the large gap. I’m in the process of doing some experimental performance of this site which has demanded much of my attention in the past couple of weeks. Finally, though, here are the FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions to October 14, 2014.

 

FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions
Ancestry.com Updates and Additions.

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions.

Australia

Belgium

Canada

Colombia

Ghana

India

Indonesia

Italy

New Zealand

Slovakia

Spain

United Kingdom

United States

Worldwide

 

Ancestry.com Updates and Additions

Australia

Bermuda

Canada

Hungary

Netherlands

United Kingdom

United States

I’d like to see an open and free exchange of genealogical data.

Ideally, I’d like to see an open and free exchange of genealogical data.

I’ve long been a proponent of the open and free exchange of genealogy data to ensure ready access to information for everyone researching their family history.

This morning, however, I read “Cooperation Makes Records Available for Free” at FamilySearch.org and it made me think.

As much as I’d like all genealogical data to be free, I can understand someone wishing to recover their costs of researching the data.

Database profile for Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky, including references to numerous images, documents and sources. (Click on the image to see in full size.)

Although the costs of genealogy research have reduced considerably over the past two decades due to computers and the increasing availability of records, images and data online, we’re seeing a correlating increase in sites online offering valuable data for a fee of some kind, making free data harder to find.

FamilySearch.org is one of the few sites still offering data for free.

In my case, ALL of my data (including images, sources and documents) is available online for free download. I do not charge for anything. I do, however, make revenue from ad clicks and sponsored posts on my sites. The end result is that, at least at present, I can offer all of my data for free as the ads pay for the upkeep and maintenance of my sites – for the most part.

There is a delicate balance here, though. As long as I can afford to offer this information free of charge it will remain so. If there comes a point where I have to recover my costs, I will have to either charge for downloads or remove the site from the internet altogether. Rest assured that this is not anywhere in the foreseeable future.

I’ve also seen a marked increase in the amount of personal genealogy data online that is ‘locked’ or marked ‘private’. I have contacted the owners of such data and in most cases they have been very forthcoming and willing to exchange information. In a few cases, however, the owner can be very protective of their data and will not make it available. Luckily, these appear to be few and far between at present.

I welcome the exchange of data offered by anyone doing genealogy research. It is important that this information remain available. One caveat, however, is to ALWAYS categorize the data as it appears when received. If there are no sources attached, it is questionable at best and it is important to use this information as ‘clues’ to further finds. Do not take this information at face value.

I have a very large database and about half of the data is sourced, while about half is not. I am constantly actively seeking and adding sources to prove the data.

I have received some criticism for this. One researcher contacted me about a particular line of information because it was claimed I had a place name incorrect. Little did this person know I had lived in the area for 21 years and knew it very well. To say this person was hostile is putting it mildly. I couldn’t believe it when it was demanded that I remove the lines pertaining to HER RESEARCH as she was the researcher of this family and I had no business researching it since our connection was only by remarriage, adoption and the birth of half-siblings. She also demanded that I remove anything that was not sourced or proven. To do as she demanded would break up lines and create gaps, leaving me without clues to search for sources to prove the information I do have and fill the gaps.

As I stated above, a good portion of my data is accumulated through free exchange of information, including the import of gedcoms of other peoples’ research. The sources (or lack thereof) remain as they have cited them, but I do search for actual copies of listed sources to attach where possible. I leave unsourced data as I receive it until I can research it further and I categorize any sources I have confirmed or added.

It is important to realize that cooperation and goodwill among researchers is essential to keeping the lines of communication and free flow of information open. Once we start becoming territorial and protective of our data, we contribute to the scarcity of information and increased costs for all.

Again, although such data can be invaluable as clues to further research, it is important to note that all sources are only as good as the attachments and assessed quality.

Heredis 2014 genealogy software: Only $10.99 US until Sunday.

Heredis is offering their Heredis 2014 genealogy software for a special deal for three days only, until Sunday.

Heredis Genealogy Software LogoOf all of the genealogy software packages out there, there is one in particular that has always piqued my interest – Heredis 2014.

You may think the circumstances of this post strange (and you’d be right), but even though I don’t use Heredis 2014, I do love it.

Why is that, you ask?

Each and every time Heredis has upgraded their software, I’ve downloaded a trial version to check on one thing they need to change. Have they made Heredis 2014 capable of accepting custom date formats?

In my case, our family genealogy is extensively Quaker and therefore the dates are usually in the original recorded format of the time: i.e. 30d 7m 1732.

While I was using the software trial, I fell in love with it.

It’s a beautiful program and I’d love to be able to use it. The problem is that in genealogy it is always recommended to record birth dates in their original format to avoid errors through conversion. Date conversion can be complicated and confusing, and many mistakes are easily made.

Due to this issue, I have and still do use RootsMagic because it does allow entry of custom dates with a converted sort date entered in the background. However, I would switch in a second if Heredis ever made custom date entry possible.

I have corresponded with Heredis after each and every update about this very issue and even went so far as to send them a sample of my genealogy for them to get a look at the date setup, at their request. Nothing has ever changed.

If you’re one of the millions of genealogists who deal with old time, Quaker or custom date formats, I would not recommend this software.

It is possible to use this software with custom dates if the original date is entered in the notes for the event. This is more than I’m willing to deal with. If you don’t mind the hassle, and would like to use a beautiful genealogy software, then by all means give Heredis 2014 a try.

Heredis 2014 is available on their site in both Mac and Windows versions.

photo credit: Heredis