Category Archives: preserving family history

Using Your Smartphone Camera for Genealogy

Vicki’s note – very helpful article from Family Tree Magazine:

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Using Your Smartphone Camera for Genealogy

Caught on Camera: Smartphone Camera Tips
6/13/2017
Learn to use your smartphone to capture high-quality photos of genealogy records, relatives, gravestones and family homes.

When was the last time you used an actual, dedicated digital camera to take photos? If you’re like most of us, your smartphone has replaced your old point-and-shoot digital camera. If you got your phone within the past few years, it likely offers a high-resolution camera with sophisticated algorithms to compensate for the small sensor and lens size. That small size makes your smartphone easy to keep in a pocket or purse and capture friends, family and genealogy resources at any time. And if you have a data plan, it’s also easy to instantly sync these photos to the cloud.

Your smartphone is the ideal tool to “photocopy” microfilm records and library books, preserve images of ancestors’ gravestones, take snapshots of all 45 people at your next family reunion, and record the homes and other buildings that form the backdrop for your family’s story. Most of us rarely get opportunities to capture these important genealogy images, so you want to make sure you do it right the first time. Follow these tips to get the perfect shot when taking five types of family history photos.

Microfilmed record

A few inexpensive accessories can turn your smartphone camera into a portable microfilm scanning machine, and make your library research time more efficient. No more waiting for a turn at the scanner-equipped film reader or taking laborious handwritten notes. Not all libraries permit cameras, so check with the librarian before you go. Here’s how to do it:

  • For best results, use a small flexible tripod or a clamp with a smartphone mount. I like the Joby GripTight Mount and GorillaPod tripod, which securely holds my cell phone and has bendable legs I can attach to the upper hood of the microfilm reader desk.
  • A remote shutter release like the CamKix prevents “camera shake” when you press the shutter.
  • Position the camera to aim straight down over the reader projection surface. Eliminate glare or reflection by placing a large sheet of plain white paper onto the projection surface. Adjust the microfilm reader lens to sharpen the projected image.
  • Turn off your camera flash and close apps you aren’t using to help conserve power. Take a few test shots before you get started on your project. Make sure the image is sharp and clear, and includes the entire page. If necessary, brighten or darken the film reader lamp to minimize glare.
  • When you start a new roll of film or a new section of records on the same roll, take a photo of the film box and file number or of the source information on the title page. You can use the photo to create a source citation in your research log.

Books, documents and photos

Smartphone cameras are often a better solution than flatbed scanners or photocopiers for digitizing fragile or bound books at the library, and you don’t have to worry about running out of change. When you’re surprised with a photo find at a relative’s house, your smartphone may be all you have to reproduce it. Multiple documents, maps, and other papers can be digitized quickly and with excellent results using a smartphone camera. Remember to ask permission before photographing library materials. Turn off your flash if required (it often causes glare, anyway).

  • Make sure your lens is clean. Apple recommends using only a soft, lint-free cloth, such as a camera lens cloth, to carefully clean dust and fingerprints from the iPhone camera lens. Avoid moisture, compressed air or cleaning agents of any kind, particularly anything abrasive. See your cell phone dealer for more extensive cleaning or repair.
  • To avoid shutter shake and save your arms when photographing many pages, use a remote shutter release. A copy stand, such as the Fopydo Smartstand, also is useful. You’ll also want a bookrest or bean bag to support a book’s covers when open (the library may have these available—ask when you call ahead).
  • If possible, find a flat surface with plenty of light.
  • Support your smartphone on the copy stand, if you’re using one. Place a document or photograph flat on the table and position your camera directly over it so the lens has an unobstructed view of the entire page. Avoid shooting at an angle, which distorts the shape of the paper or photo.
  • If you’re shooting a book, place it on a bookrest so it stays open. You may need to use one hand or a bean bag to gently flatten the page. Position the camera over the page, tilted at the same angle as the page.
  • Take test shots with (if permitted) and without flash to see which produces the best photos in the available light.
  • Speed your scanning workflow by using a scanning app, such as CamScanner (iOS, Android, Windows), Genius Scan (iOS, Android) and TurboScan (iOS, Android), instead of the phone’s built-in camera. These apps crop and straighten pages as you scan, create files with multiple pages, and offer enhanced lighting. You also can name pages as you “scan” them, add a date stamp and choose whether to create a PDF or JPEG file.
  • Save scanned images to your Camera Roll or email account, or export them to your cloud storage service.

Gravestones

Capturing a good image of a gravestone lets you extract all possible information and edit it to improve readability. Some cemeteries have regulations regarding the type of equipment you can use or they require photographers to get permission from the office, so call ahead before you go. And of course, respect the solemnity of the surroundings.

  • Bring a soft brush to remove loose dirt from the stone and a spray bottle with plain water to help bring out the inscription. Don’t apply any other substances, such as shaving cream or flour, to the stone. If the cemetery isn’t maintained, bring garden shears to trim weeds that cover the inscription. Don’t forget water for yourself, sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Use the built-in viewfinder grid to keep the gravestone straight and level.
  • To illuminate a hard-to-read inscription, try to photograph the stone when sunlight hits the face at about a 30-degree angle (morning for an east-facing stone, midday for west-facing stones). Using a reflector or a large white board can help you aim light at the stone. If the sunlight is too strong, shade the stone with a dark cloth. You’ll want to have a helper to handle this paraphernalia while you shoot, as well as for safety reasons.
  • Photos of hard-to-read gravestones can easily lose their identifying information. Your phone’s photo app probably lets you add text on an image, or you can use an app that places a caption below the image on a frame. Instants Photo Edition by Soreha (iOS) adds a Polaroid-style frame to photos captured “in-app” with the camera, or already in your camera roll, with an optional space for a caption. MOLDIV photo editor (iOS and Android) lets you add captions on the photo or within a simple frame around the image.
  • Record and upload GPS and inscription data to the web with a cemetery app such as Find A Grave or Billion Graves (both available for iOS and Android).

Houses and other buildings

Your ever-present smartphone is a handy tool for photographing family homes and the buildings where your ancestors worshipped, worked or attended school. A few tricks will help you best capture the entire facade and, for public structures, move inside to photograph interior rooms. If you’re photographing a private home from a public sidewalk or street, it’s not required—but it is good manners—to first let the owner know the purpose for your pictures. Don’t enter any yards unless the property owner gives you the go-ahead. Be aware that some public buildings have photo and media restrictions for security reasons.

  • Morning or afternoon light, or overcast skies, will give you the most pleasing light with fewer harsh shadows. On sunny days, plan to photograph buildings when the sunlight falls on the front of the structure, rather than directly overhead or facing the camera.
  • Position yourself at a comfortable distance, where you’re safe from passing traffic or other hazards. If you plan to take several photos, a tripod and smartphone camera mount may be helpful.
  • Use the camera’s built-in viewfinder grid to keep the horizon or roofline level. Or use the Camera Plus App (Android and iOS), which offers the traditional “rule of thirds grid” (which helps you compose a pleasing image) and a horizon level. The iPhone’s built-in Camera App includes a grid you can enable in Settings>Photos & Camera>Camera>Grid.
  • To include the tall dome of City Hall or sprawling wings of a ranch-style home with the built-in camera app, you’ll need to step back far enough to see the entire structure in your camera viewfinder or use a wide-angle lens on your camera. Sometimes that’s hard to do. A clip-on wide-angle or fisheye lens (which is curvilinear and will cause straight lines in your photo to appear curved) is especially useful in tight city streets, where it can be virtually impossible to back up far enough to photograph large buildings. The lens also lets you capture interior views of home living rooms, kitchens, and other spaces.
  • Experiment with taking portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) images. The panorama mode available on newer smartphone cameras is another option for including wide structures. See the techniques for Family Group Photos for ideas on using this feature.
  • Turn on your phone’s geotagging, or location, option to help you remember the exact location of the building.
  • Before snapping your photo, check the corners and edges of the frame for power lines, poles, bus benches, parked cars and unsightly trash bins. Try to minimize them if you can. A few of these “props” can help set the date and place, but too much confusion in a photo can overwhelm your main subject.

Relatives

Frame-worthy group photos rarely just happen. It’s hard to get a gaggle of people assembled in one place, all smiling and looking at the camera at the same time. Use these pro photography tips to make the pictures from your next family reunion the best in decades.

  • Smartphones typically boast two lenses. The front-facing lens, best for selfies, is usually relatively low resolution. For example, the iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel XL both offer a 12 megapixel rear-facing camera and 7 or 8 megapixel front-facing camera. Use the main, rear-facing camera for the best photos.
  • Plan ahead for group shots, if possible, by encouraging relatives to wear solid-color tops. That puts the focus on faces in your pictures. But don’t be overly strict: Uncle Harry’s signature bright plaid button-down deserves a place in history.
  • Turn off the flash to avoid red-eye and harsh shadows. Shoot outside in the early morning or late afternoon, or under an overcast sky. In bright sun, go for open shade, like under a large tree. Avoid patchy shadows.
  • Select a spot with an uncluttered background that’s free from distractions such as trash cans, telephone poles and cars. A park, garden or beach location works well.
  • Gather props like stools, benches, lawn chairs and even ladders to achieve different levels. Pose the kids on laps and on the grass in front.
  • Wide panorama pictures are great for large groups or playful smaller groups (such as everyone holding hands in a chain). Take advantage of your smartphone panorama mode by slowly panning the group in the direction of the arrow on your phone camera app (practice this ahead of time—you don’t want to have a large group posed and waiting on you to figure out your phone).
  • To include yourself in the picture, use a tripod and the self-timer or a remote shutter release. Set up your camera and compose the picture. On the iPhone, access the self-timer by tapping the timer dial at the top of the photo screen, then select 3 or 10 seconds. Check the user guide for other phone models.
  • Take a bunch of photos. You’re certain to get some pictures with closed eyes, runny noses, fussy kids and awkward body language. More photos gives you a better selection. You can take multiple shots in quick succession with the burst mode feature found on most Android and iOS smartphones. Simply hold down the shutter button and the camera will take 10 frames per second. This can result in lots of images, though, so be aware you’ll need to choose the best and toss the rest.

Tip: When shooting a photo, steady your camera by standing with your legs slightly apart and arms held at an easy height, or use a tripod with swivel head.

Smartphone Smarts

You don’t have to use the latest model phone to capture great digital photographs. Most devices released in the last two or three years feature high-resolution cameras and compatibility with popular photo and editing apps. Each device and model will be slightly different, so take time to learn the basic features of your phone’s built-in camera app, including:

  • turning the flash on and off
  • locking focus on the subject (usually by touching the screen)
  • adjusting exposure
  • using the self timer
  • selecting the mode (such as video, photo or panorama)
  • setting resolution
  • performing basic editing (use photo-editing apps for advanced edits)
  • sharing photos

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Denise May Levenick is the author of How to Archive Family Photos (Family Tree Books).
A version of this article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Stateline Travelers – Part 5 – My 3 x Gt-Grandma , and Me. She got teeth & fashion!

Stateline Travelers – Part 5 –

My 3 x Gt-Grandma , and Me.  She got teeth & fashion!

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn, SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

Part of an On-going Series

June 11, 2017

Photo composite fun.

Imagine my shock when I realized that these two different looks were the same person – my great great great grandmother, Catherine McIntosh Greenup.

I love looking for the stories as I do family histories, and piecing them together verbally and visually.

In about five years, she completely changed fashions, and became confident (new teeth?) and very urban sophisticated.  She dressed less like the unsophisticated Virginia/Kentucky country look, and more like the “big” city of Macomb, Illinois look.

This is one of the slides that I composed for my genealogy program – “What They Wore When” or “Contemporary Fashion Through the Ages – How to Tell Which Timeline Your Ancestors Are, by What They Wore.”  I have given the program three times, and am booked for two more presentations in the next few months.

 

3 x Gt Grandma photos

 

 

Hint – I never expected to find that I had any ancestors from Kentucky.  Try to learn about all states that your ancestors lived in.

Kentucky was granted statehood in 1792.  it became the fifteenth state in the US and the first state west of the Appalachian mountains.

So it looks like my Gt-Gt-Gt Grandma Greenup was born in Kentucky 17 years before it became a state, and there are zero chances that there will be a state vital record of that.

 

 

Organizing Family Photographs on Your Computer

Vicki’s Note – article from Family Tree Magazine.  This is how I organize my paper files, and is standard for that.  On my computer, I  organize by surname first.   Good point to  add the first name of the father, and sub-folders for each family member.:
Organizing Your Hard Drive: Photo Filing Tips
6/5/2017
Struggling with a system to organize your digital photos? Think like a census taker and try this method of filing pictures by head of household.

How to Set Up Photo Folders on Your Hard Drive

1. Navigate to the Photo folder inside the appropriate surname folder. Click to select it.

2. Inside the Photo folder, create a subfolder for each head of household you have pictures of—for example, John Johnson Family or Samuel Johnson Family.

3. Inside each of these family folders, create a folder for each family member: John, Mary (his wife), John Jr., Susie (children) and so on.

Photo Filing Guidelines

Genealogists research our ancestors within the context of their familial relationships, so filing in this manner keeps that at the forefront of our thinking.

  • Men: File pictures under their parents prior to marriage, and under their own name after marriage. For example, John Jr.’s photos prior to his marriage will be in the John Jr. folder inside the John Johnson folder. Photos after John Jr.’s marriage are filed in a new John Johnson Jr. folder.
  • Women: Filed in the same way as records—Susie’s photos prior to her marriage go in the Susie folder inside the John Johnson folder, and you’ll place photos after her marriage in the Susie folder inside her new husband’s folder.
  • Group photos and multiple families: Photos of multiple family members go in the head of household’s folder—you have to navigate there to get to the other relatives’ folders, after all. But suppose you have a picture of both the John Johnson and Samuel Johnson families around the Christmas tree. What to do? Duplicate the photo and save a copy in each of the respective families’ head of household folder.

More help organizing your family photos and research from the experts at Family Tree Magazine:

Ancestry.com “Saves” are not Permanent Until You Save the Records to Your Computer

Ancestry.com “Saves” are not Permanent Until You Save the Records to Your Computer

Vicki’s note – a 5-26-2017 posting on Facebook from the FamilyHistoryDaily.com https://www.facebook.com/familyhistorydaily/  BLOG.

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Stop ‘Saving’ Records to Your Ancestry Tree Until You Read This

It’s no secret that we love free genealogy sites here at Family History Daily. But, we have to admit, we also like Ancestry.com. Next to FamilySearch.org, you’re not going to find a larger, more diverse genealogy website — and many of us are willing to pay their subscription fees for that reason alone.

But we also like Ancestry for the convenient free family tree they offer. It’s easy to get started with, maintain and share (or keep private). Plus, they’ve made it extremely convenient to add records from Ancestry’s databases. A couple of clicks and you can easily attach any number of sources, or names, to your tree (although we could tell you why that’s generally a bad idea).

But it’s this very convenience that poses a serious problem for many family historians. Most people who keep their trees on Ancestry.com probably regularly attach records to individuals using the ‘Save This Record’ function …..”

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Read the rest of the article here to find out how to save Ancestry.com records to your computer, not just to your Ancestry (online subscription) Family Tree.  Good hints on backing up your data, and updated information on the status of the replacements for Ancestry Family Tree Maker Software – TreeSync; and FamilySync from MacKiev.:

http://familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-help-and-how-to/stop-saving-records-to-your-ancestry-tree-until-you-read-this/

Skeletons in Your Family Closet and How to “Report” Them, (or Not)

Skeletons in Your Family Closet

and How to “Report” Them,

(or Not)

Vicki’s Note – This is a March 19, 2017 article from MyHeritage.com BLOG by W. Scott Fisher:

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Scandal! Dealing With Skeletons In Your Family Tree

This is a guest post by W. Scott Fisher, the creator and host of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show, heard on dozens of radio stations in the US and as a podcast. A broadcaster by career, Scott has been a devoted genealogist since 1981. He was featured in People in 2015 for using his skills to locate the family of a murder victim, who had been missing for 32 years.

 

I still remember my verbal response to the very first family scandal I ran across in my research. “WHAAAAT?!!!” The 1893 newspaper article was lit up inside a banged-up old microfilm reader and began answering a long list of questions I had had for years concerning my great grandfather, Andrew J. Fisher, and his wife, Jane.

Where was their New York City marriage record? Who was this “Sarah Fisher” that appeared cryptically in the court file concerning a challenge to his will? Why did that record note “the said Andrew J. Fisher left no widow him surviving”? Of course, he did! It was Jane. She was right there in the will, and lived another six years!

One salacious headline told me all my genealogical conundrums were about to be resolved: “ANDREW FISHER’S RIVAL WIDOWS / One was Recognized by His Will, Which the Other Now Seeks to Break.”

It turned out that “Sarah Fisher” was Andrew’s other, other woman. Three decades younger than he, she had a child by him when he was 58. She claimed common law rights because, said she, Jane, though named in the will, couldn’t be a common-law wife because she was still married to someone else. Hence… no marriage record.

The truth is, if you haven’t found a scandal in your family yet, you haven’t been researching long enough. Just as we all descend from kings and paupers, we also all descend from saints and sinners.

As a writer of over a dozen books for my family, specifically on the ancestral families of both my wife and me, the 1893 story presented a challenge. How do I present this rather… ahem… interesting tale? And, yes, Andrew Fisher has been dead for well over a century, but what of his reputation?

After a lot of thought, I recognized that Andrew’s story was shared among countless people who knew him, and didn’t, during his lifetime. It was a widely spread story in its day. Needless to say, none of those people were still around, including children, to risk causing personal embarrassment to anyone.

I determined that I would have to include this chapter of his life story without embellishment, simply sticking to the facts. Further, I recognized there were many good things he did in his life… he was a volunteer fireman, for instance, who no doubt saved many lives. A comment from my friend, Janet Hovorka, stuck in my mind: “Every scoundrel has some hero in them. Every hero has some scoundrel in them.”

Further, through this final chapter of Andrew’s life, I was able to illustrate that the way people react to damaging family experiences can affect generations. Andrew’s oldest son, John, followed in his father’s footsteps. He drank heavily, was kicked out of the family by his wife, and led a life of despair. His brother, my grandfather, made a conscious effort not to repeat the past. He married and stayed devoted to his teenage sweetheart who died at 49 of tuberculosis. He never married again. He raised his own two sons as his number one priority. Both, including my father, became very successful.

A study at Emory University from the 1990s shows how building a strong family narrative among children, including how ancestors overcame adversity, developed in them greater emotional maturity and inner strength. Indeed, it was beneficial for them to know about the foibles of their ancestors as well as their moments of greatness.

Dealing with more recent family situations can, of course, be more difficult. Here’s a somewhat minor issue. In transcribing a stack of letters written by my grandmother more than a half-century ago, I made the decision to eliminate an unkind comment she made about a cousin of mine who was, at the time, just a pre-schooler. Grandmother is revered in our family, and I’m certain she would never have imagined her thoughtless scribble could have survived for decades and possibly come back to the ears or eyes of this (now) very successful business and family man.

My personal rule is, the feelings of the living, even if the individual in question is dead, must be taken into account. A record that causes pain or embarrassment is contrary to the purpose of family history research and the strengthening of future generations.

When I wrote the first volume of my father’s story, I talked about his first marriage and the challenges it created for the family when he and his wife divorced. I noted something he once told me. “I walked out of the courtroom with eight dollars in my pocket.” I never imagined his first wife, then in her 90s, would ever read it, yet alone take offense. She did. I removed that quote from the next revision.

Yes, it’s true. As the family historian, you get to tell the story the way you see it. (I warned my mother before she died!) But with the privilege of that opportunity also comes responsibility. Privacy is due to the living as well as living people who were close to those who may now be dead. The law may grant protections and maybe even penalties to living family members over what you make public about them. In the end, if you err on the side of sensitivity and ask permission where needed, you’ll avoid painful family trouble. Even as a historian, there are times where we don’t have to share everything we know… or believe we are aware.

EXCLUSIVE from Thomas MacEntee: Save 15% on NEW Legacy 9.0 Family History Software

Vicki’s Note – Well it finally is here – the new Version 9 update of Legacy genealogy software to keep track of your family history searches.  There is a free version available also. 

I bought Version 8, and like it, when I have time to do my own family genealogy.  And Thomas MacEntee has come up with a special discount, if you want to buy the enhanced version of Legacy 9.   Thanks Thomas.  I also suggest buying the CD as well as the download.  

Try the free version (see link below).  I found the enhancements worth paying for the paid version of Legacy 8.  I think that the new “hinting” feature (super leafs!) itself is going to be worth getting the upgrade of Legacy 9,

I cannot wait to try the other features.  They are amazing, and just upped the competition for other software providers.  Be sure to click on the link below to see details on the new enhancements.  I knew that they were working on this, but I am one joyous genealogist to see what fun is in store for me with all of the unexpected wonderful new features!

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EXCLUSIVE from Thomas MacEntee: Save 15% on NEW Legacy 9.0 Family History Software

by Thomas MacEntee

April 18, 2017

Legacy Family Tree has just released Version 9.0 of its amazing genealogy software – you can save 15% via Genealogybargains.com
http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/WhatsNew9.asp
 Legacy 9

Legacy 9.0 software for genealogy and family history research has just been released with amazing new features. Check out the new features you’ll find in the highly-anticipated new version of Legacy Family Tree Software:

  • Hinting: Legacy 9 sifts through billions of records from the key websites –  FindMyPast, FamilySearch, GenealogyBank, and MyHeritage – for new information, pictures, and stories of your ancestors. As you add to your tree, Legacy 9 begins the search – automatically!
  • Reports and Charts: See trends in your ancestors’ medical history with the new Cause of Death charts. Expand your genetic genealogy tools with the new X‐DNA color schemes. Get everyone involved at your next reunion or family gathering with Family Tree BINGO – play with cards of your ancestors, descendants, or a mixture. You can also now see your tree at a glance in the Family Dictionary.
  • FindAGrave.com Searching: One‐click access to your ancestor’s Find A Grave memorial. Create a list of people in your tree with or without Find A Grave IDs.
  • Online Backup: You’ll never worry about losing your data again. In addition to backing up to your hard drive, a thumb drive, or a DVD, you can now backup your Legacy to the Legacy Cloud. It also makes transferring to a new computer a breeze.
  • Stories: Preserve the stories of your ancestors or stories of your own. The new Stories tool lets you  record, organize and print multiple stories for any of your ancestors.
  • Hashtags: Create unlimited hashtags to describe your ancestors. Then search for or print a report of everyone who shares that hashtag. You’re no longer limited to 9 tags. Call them anything you want – #civilwar  #DNAtested  #farmer  #ProvenAncestor  #BrownHair
  • Compare 2 People: Researching two same‐named individuals? Having difficulty differentiating two John Smiths in the same place? The new Chronology Comparison report puts them side‐by‐side, color codes their similarities and differences, and helps you determine if they could be the same person.
  • Color Coding: Legacy’s popular color‐coding system has been expanded. Now enjoy the ancestor color coding in both the Index View and Name List, making it simple to know what part of your tree you are looking at.
  • And dozens of other enhancements: Digital pictures are now auto‐sorted by date. View all 9 tags in the Name List. Two additional  custom toolbar buttons, and much more . . . .

The upgrade price, if you currently have Legacy Deluxe, is $26.95. For first time buyers, the price is $34.95 for the download version of Legacy 9.0 Deluxe. Click here and use promo code thomas15leg at checkout and save 15%! To take Legacy 9.0 Standard for a test with a FREE DOWNLOAD, click here.

Click here for more information and to upgrade your current copy of Legacy or get the new version – via Legacy Family Tree

Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statement.

©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Donating Local History Documents and Photographs

Donating Local History Documents and Photographs

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

April 3, 2017

This is part of a  reply to a generous person who wanted to share an important hand-written local history document so that others could access it.  This is an important reminder to all of us to share information about our family’s histories that may help others from the local communities where they lived.

The Beloit Public Library has a special bookcase for books, booklets, or papers,  on people and families connected with Beloit, and two lateral pamphlet file cabinets for local (stateline) history.

>>>>

Thanks so much for taking the initiative to let me know about the unique hand-written resource that you have on Roscoe history.

The very best place to donate that document would be the Roscoe North Suburban Public Library branch, as the Library is open more hours than even the local history societies.

(Donate copies of your family photographs too.  Each Library and historic society will have their own requirements and restrictions on what donations they will accept.  Please ask them first.)

There does not seem to be a historical society for Roscoe, IL (although there is one for Rockton Township.

The 2 North Suburban Libraries act as Roscoe’s historical society.

They have a local history collection (as does the Loves Park main library). I lived in the second oldest house (1839) in Roscoe for 12 years. When I sold that house, I donated a (mostly) hand-written mortgage deed to the Roscoe branch library (Reference desk).

You can read about that house, and more about Roscoe and Macktown IL, and Beloit WI history on this post from my BLOG:

Stateline Travelers – Part 3 – This Old House and Me

If you ask them to send you a written acknowledgement, you can use it if you itemize tax deductions. I have no clue what the value would be.  Ebay/Craigslist would give you ideas.

That Library also has a full copy of this book which I just found online (the index). There are Benders listed, but no Moshers.

The Story of Roscoe, Illinois

All history is not on computer or electronic media, especially local history. (Which is a common mis-conception.)  About 80% of genealogy/history resources are online at this time.  More are being added everyday, but many are in paid sites.

Even that 20%, facebook, and email,  has made genealogy searching so much easier than it used to be.  Not too long ago, people had to go from courthouse to library to historical society in person, or write letters, to find their family history.

I am sure that the growing numbers of (baby-boomer) retirees plus ease of searching has led to the recent growth in popularity of genealogy as a hobby.

I am continuously building up our Beloit local history collection, and some state-line history, but we have limited room.

Thanks again, for the generous offer, and information.

Now I will know that your document will be in a place that I (and others) can access easily.

Social History (of Ancestor’s Daily Life)

Vicki’s note – article from Family Tree magazine – Genealogy Insider – Diane Haddad:

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Social History & Noah Wyle’s Civil War Ancestry on “Who Do You Think You Are?”
Posted by Diane

I remember Noah Wyle from his days portraying a wide-eyed medical student on “ER.” Last night on “Who Do You Think You Are?” we saw him tracking down his third-great-grandfather J.H. Mills, who served the Confederacy in the Civil War and fought in the bloody Battle of Shiloh.

Later, in Mississippi, newspaper articles show J.H. was a prominent, well-liked citizen. But he killed himself when he couldn’t make a premium payment for his life insurance policy, which under a then-common “deferred dividend” scheme, meant that he would lose his entire life savings. His suicide before the policy lapsed allowed his family to receive benefits.

Unfortunately, Wyle’s third-great-grandmother, Mary Emily, still became destitute and had to rely on J.H.’s meager military pension. She died in 1928 in a home for soldiers and widows at Beauvoir, the former home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

Something that struck me in this episode was how the experts’ social history knowledge enhanced the story. Wyle learned the backstory of the Crescent regiment that J.H. joined in New Orleans—mostly comprised of the city’s educated elite, who would’ve been neophytes in battle.

Another historian shared information on J.H.’s deferred dividend life insurance policy (called a “tontine”—read about it here), a practice that was outlawed after the Armstrong investigation in 1905. In light of her explanation, we gain insight into J.H.’s motivation for taking his own life.

Here’s  list of 10 free social history websites where you can start exploring the places and times your ancestors lived in.

And exploring social history to learn more about your family is the whole idea behind Family Tree Magazine‘s History Matters column, which you’ll find collected in our Best of History Matters e-book. You also might find our How to Research Your Ancestor’s Daily Life Online video class helpful as you search for details on everyday lives of your forbears.

Noah Wyle’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” episode is online but “locked,” so you have to log in with a TV subscription to watch it (I’ve missed a couple of episodes so far for that reason).

Photographs in a Family Tree

Photographs in a Family Tree

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

SGS – Stateline Genealogy Sorter

3-26-2017

My family collaborated on creating a 6-generation family tree including photographs. Our main motivation was to get something for our Mom (Daisy Bennett Ruthe) to enjoy.  She has been having dementia for several years, and wanted a picture of each person, so that she could remember who each one was, and who belonged to who.

My sister Chris used a great on-line photograph book-making program, http://mikescamera.com/books-full.html , to make family memory books. She photographed my (second) wedding and made a book for my husband and I.  (Look for promo discount codes online for Mikescamera).  Mom doesn’t know that she will be getting a book soon also.

The program that Chris used for the photograph family tree is Aperture, but she is not sure Apple still supports it.

Another (genealogy fan) sister, Melodie, and I helped Chris with the dates and names of the 6-generation ancestors.  A third cousin (Ancestry.com DNA test respondant!) sent me several family photographs so that we could add more faces for our ancestors which we did not have in our photography collection.

Chris put in different silhouettes for any ancestors that we did not have photos for.  This is the top part of the large sheet, which Chris had laminated.  I did not include any living relatives in this photo (3 more generations.)

Capture

                                                          Our Mom, Daisy, is here   

                                                                  and here. 

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Daisy was happily surprised, “Just What I needed!”  She had a great time re-discovering all of her family/ancestors, and her grand/great-grand children.  It literally took me a couple of minutes before I could take this photograph.  My camera phone was balking, and I had to reboot the camera before it would work.  Mom was still pointing out folks.

Chris insisted that we had to get this project finished and get it to Mom asap.  She was  right.

I have been away from work and too busy to post on my BLOG lately.  My Mom has been in the hospital for observation due to her having visual hallucinations.  The diagnosis is not final yet, but it looks like a more severe form of dementia.  As POA, I will be even more busy with helping her.

The good thing is that I have been able to spend lots of time with her, and am writing down all of her Daisy Stories as she tells us her memories.

Don’t wait.  Always let your people know that you love them, and record their stories.

 

 

 

Gedcoms and Starting a “new” family tree on MyHeritage.com

One of my questions as a beginning genealogist was, “What is a Gedcom?”  It is simply a transfer vehicle file to share your family tree from one database to another.   They do not transfer pictures.  Again something on my list to do.  Each database or software will have different steps to   create and import your family tree.  Geoff clearly shows what is needed to do a Gedcom from Legacy.com to MyHeritage.com.

Geoff’s MyHeritage experiment post #1 – starting my tree

There is an online genealogy service that for years I dismissed. I already have my data in Legacy Family Tree software AND manage a research-in-progress tree at both FamilySearch and Ancestry – do I really need my data in yet another tree? This is what I thought before viewing Mike Mansfield’s excellent webinar, “7 Unique Technologies for Genealogy Discoveries at MyHeritage.” Afterwards my opinion completely changed. I was impressed both with Mike as a speaker and with their technology. About a year later I published the “Top 20 Webinars of All Time” list, and was shocked to see that this class came in at number three – of all time! And now that MyHeritage has entered the DNA community, I’ve decided that they deserve more of my genealogical time and a solid look.

This post is the first of a series where I will investigate and report on my use and impressions of each of the “seven unique technologies” that Mike introduced.

  1. Smart Matching
  2. Record Matches
  3. Newspaper & Free-Text Matching
  4. Record Detective
  5. Instant Discoveries
  6. SearchConnect
  7. Global Name Translation

Combined with the other two MyHeritage-related webinars…

…I have become very impressed with their technology. As with any other genealogy technology, when I learn a little of its potential, I try to make time for a thorough investigation. Previous investigations have resulted in my support and love for tech like AniMap, Google Photos, Flip-Pal, and GoToWebinar. Now it’s MyHeritage’s turn. Either I’ll like it or I won’t, and I look forward to giving you my honest opinions of what I learn.

In this first post, I will describe my thought and decision making process as I determine how I will use the site. Initial questions I have include:

  • Should I just use their search form to see if I get any matches in their trees or records, or like Mike suggested, should I first upload my tree to take advantage of their automated searching?
  • If I do upload my tree, should I upload my entire tree or just the branches I am currently researching?
  • How does MyHeritage protect my privacy?
  • What about DNA? Will they let me import the raw results of the DNA tests I’ve completed elsewhere? If so, is their pool of testers large enough to be of any value to me?

How Should I Start?

In a previous MyHeritage-related webinar I uploaded a GEDCOM that I created from Legacy to demonstrate how the process worked. It was simple. But because I am beginning my serious investigation into their site, want to begin fresh, and to be able to demonstrate for you the steps involved, I’ve gone ahead and removed anything I previously shared.

Next is the decision of “how should I start my tree?” The Family Tree tab at MyHeritage shows that I can manually start a new tree or import a GEDCOM.

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Since my time is valuable and because I already have my data in Legacy, I’ve decided to create and import a GEDCOM into their system. Should I import all 23,702 individuals, or should I import just the ancestors I am actively researching? A few minutes go by…I’ve decided to import my entire family file for this reason – DNA. Although I do not yet know anything about their DNA services, with my experience at other DNA sites, I’ve learned that the more I share the more genetic matches I find.

Good, another decision made. This is way easier than all the decisions I’m making about the new house we are building.

Privacy

Since the file I will upload will contain information about my living family, I’d better check out MyHeritage’s privacy policy. Hopefully they give me complete control over what is public and private. Reading their privacy policy here has given me the confidence that I can share my personal information without fear of it becoming public. I’ve pasted a portion of their policy below.

The user decides to what degree information on the family tree and other information from the family site will be visible to and discoverable by other users, by setting the Privacy Preferences (described in a detailed section below). The user decides whether to build the family tree on the Website on his/her own, or to make it a collaborative effort by inviting family members to assist, using facilities available on the Website for inviting members. If other members are invited, they make similar choices on entering information into the family tree. All information is entered into the Website directly and is not collected implicitly. The Website prevents information on living people from being disclosed to strangers, to protect privacy, and such information if entered will not be visible outside the family site or discoverable by search engines such as Google. It is often useful however to allow deceased people entered into the family tree to be visible to and searchable by other people, to allow one’s distant relatives to discover it.

The personal information that you and other users enter is stored in the Website only for the purpose of delivering the Service to you and the other users, i.e. displaying the family tree, printing the family tree, searching historical records, and other genealogy features.

Creating the GEDCOM file

The first step is to create the GEDCOM file. This is done in Legacy Family Tree. Follow the steps below.

1. Go to File >  Export > GEDCOM file

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To change WHO you will include in the file, click on the Record Selection button. To change any privacy settings for whom you will export, click on the Privacy Options button. I’m going to leave things as they are because of my reasoning above.

2. Click the “START EXPORT” button in the upper right, select the location (the desktop is a good spot) and enter the name of the file.

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1 minutes 28 seconds later:

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Importing the GEDCOM into MyHeritage

1. On the Family Tree tab at http://www.myHeritage.com, click on the Browse button, locate and select the GEDCOM you just created, and click the orange Import GEDCOM button.

20 seconds later the upload was complete (1:28pm):

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Thinking this would take a while, I got up to go eat some lunch. Then Pavlov’s Theory proved true once again – I got the email notification sound on my phone which meant I immediately checked my inbox. It was just one minute later that I received the following:

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Wow, that was quick.

Clicking the link took me to my tree where the first thing I noticed was the balloons – it’s my son’s 15th birthday in 12 days. Thanks for the reminder!

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Tree Settings

I next went to the Tree Settings page to make sure that the privacy settings are what I expected them to be.

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Since I’m not certain what a “site member” is yet, I’m going to turn off the ability for site members to “download the family tree file” and for now I’m going to change the permissions so I am the only person who can edit the family tree.

Privacy Settings

The privacy settings are on its own page.

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The first option of “include family tree in MyHeritage historical search engines” concerned me as I do not want any living individuals in my tree to be searchable. Hovering over the little information icon, it explained that only deceased individuals will be searchable and viewable to others.

So far so good.

Conclusion

At this point, I am comfortable with my tree and its privacy settings. It was easy to upload and the resulting tree looks appealing and easy to navigate. If I never do any more with MyHeritage, at the very least, I now have another backup of my entire tree just in case. I took a quick peek at the Discoveries page to see if it had found any Smart Matches or Record Matches yet. It hadn’t, but I didn’t expect it to be that quick. I’ll check back in a few days to see what it has found for me.

What’s Next

Coming up next, I will report on the first of the seven unique technologies from the webinar – Smart Matches. Stay tuned.

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Once again Legacy and Geoff are educating us in this activity of family search. Recently at our local Family History Centre Conference I was able to watch a video that could also add to this topic.

For anyone else looking to expand options (yet another backup….) this is worth looking at from
https://www.rootstech.org/videos-fri

Sunny Morton
Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, findmypast, FamilySearch and MyHeritage