Tag Archives: FamilyTreeMagazine.com

Free – Watch Southern California Genealogical Society’s Genealogy Jamboree Sessions

Vicki’s note – article from 6-15-2017 Family Tree e- magazine genealogyinsider by Diane Haddad:

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Free – Watch Southern California Genealogical Society’s Genealogy Jamboree Sessions

Through July 10th 2017 –

The Southern California Genealogical Society’s Genealogy Jamboree just wrapped up, and you can watch recorded classes online for free through July 10. First, register at the Jamboree 2017 Livestream Registration Page. You’ll get an email with login information and a link to view videos on topics such as finding immigrant ancestors’ stories, Facebook for genealogy and deciphering foreign-language records.

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.

How To Use Genealogy Website FamilySearch.org

Vicki’s note – suggestions from Family Tree Family article on Search.org – helpful free site:

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How To Use Genealogy Website FamilySearch.org

2/16/2017
Learn how to use FamilySearch with this easy-to-follow guide

A free website from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church), FamilySearch has a large, growing collection of records, books, photos and family trees. Since going online in 1999, the site has expanded to encompass more than 2,000 historical record collections from around the world, more than 5.5 billion searchable names in old records, and more than 300,000 digitized books. You can search many of these records by name and other details, thanks to FamilySearch’s volunteer indexing program; but some collections are still awaiting indexing and must be browsed. All the genealogical bounty is accessible from tabs at the top of FamilySearch.org.

Use these strategies for success in finding your ancestors on FamilySearch.org:

Search for records.

Under the Search tab, click Records to bring up a search form for a person in indexed records. You can enter the first and last names and the date range and place for one or more life events, such as birth, marriage, death, residence (useful when looking for census records), death or “any,” which could be, for example, an immigration or military enlistment year. Narrow your search with names of the person’s parents, spouse or another person who might appear with him in records. You also can restrict your results to those from a certain country or of a certain type (such as census or military records).

On the search results page, look to the left for fields where you can adjust your search terms. Below that, you can use filters to narrow your search by collection (which lets you limit results to one or more databases), a birthplace in the record, a birth year in the record, and more.

A camera icon in the far right column for a match indicates a digital image you can download to your computer and/or add to your tree; no camera icon means it’s an index-only record. In a few collections, due to the wishes of record custodians, you must register with FamilySearch to access record images or use the website at a FamilySearch Center (also called a Family History Center; find one near by searching here online). Some collections, such as the 1901 census of England and Wales, link to a record image on a subscription site. You can view these with a subscription or by visiting a FamilySearch Center.

Browse record collections.

Searching a specific record collection that covers a place and time your family lived can help you focus on the most relevant matches. On FamilySearch, this technique also lets you access images of records that aren’t yet part of the site’s searchable indexes. Under the Search tab, click Records, then Browse All Published Collections to see a list of all records, both indexed and unindexed, arranged by place. If “Browse Images” appears in the Records column, none of the collection is indexed by name. If that column gives a record count, the collection is at least partially indexed. On the left, you can filter the list by name (enter any word in the collection title), place, date, record type and image availability. Click a title to search or browse that collection.

Find relatives in the Family Tree. 

The FamilySearch Family Tree has a lofty goal to create a family tree that includes all people. Other websites have large collections of trees that often duplicate each other, errors and all. In an effort to increase accuracy and decrease duplication, Family-Search has designed its tree with one profile per ancestral person, that anyone can edit. Unlike most of FamilySearch, you must register to use the Family Tree, but it’s still free.

To search the tree, look under the Family Tree tab and click Find. You can enter a name; gender; dates of birth, christening,  marriage, death and/or burial; and family members’ names.

Adding your relatives to the tree can help you find their records, as FamilySearch automatically searches its records for matches to people in the tree. Click the Family Tree tab to start your tree and either manually enter the information, or use “FamilySearch-approved” genealogy software that can reconcile data between the family file on your computer and Family Tree. Those programs include Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic and MacFamilyTree. To avoid duplicating people already in the tree, FamilySearch looks for a profile for each person you’re adding.

Click on an icon beside a name in landscape or portrait tree view for research help. Record hints are blue, research suggestions are purple, and data problems are red. Record hints and research suggestions also appear under the Details tab in Person view. You can review and verify possible matches, and attach the records to personal profiles.

Now you can search four large genealogy collections—FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, Findmypast and MyHeritage—from Person view. You still should try searching on other combinations of terms, such as a woman’s married name, and searching individual record collections.

Find Family Photos.

Click the Memories tab to see at a glance all the photos, stories, documents, audio and albums you or someone else has submitted and linked to your relatives. To search the Family Tree’s photos, stories and documents for any term (such as a name, place or other topic), look under the Memories tab and select Find.

Search user-submitted genealogies.

Under Search>Genealogies, you can search the old Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File, two collections of family trees that researchers submitted over many years. Pedigree Resource File includes notes and sources, but Ancestral File doesn’t. Neither collection shows the submitters’ names. It’s worth mining these family trees for clues, but always try to verify the information with original sources.

A Genealogies search now covers several other collections, too: Community Trees were an effort to cover the genealogy of entire towns or communities. Oral Genealogies were obtained with personal interviews. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) has information on 430 million ancestors contributed by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Find microfilmed records.

It’ll take years to digitize and index the massive holdings of microfilmed records at FamilySearch’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City. If you can’t visit the library, you can access most of its microfilm and microfiche for a small fee through FamilySearch Centers around the world.

Under Search>Catalog, run a Places search to find books and microfilmed records about a place. Search on all the towns, cities, counties, states and countries where your ancestors lived. Run a Surnames search to find family histories. Note that this search covers only surnames mentioned most often in a book, not every name. You can search on multiple terms, such as a surname and a place, but you’ll probably have better luck by entering these terms in the Keywords box.

Three icons are used in the Format column for microfilms in the catalog:

  • A magnifying glass icon appears if the film is indexed and searchable by name. Click it to search for a name.
  • A camera icon indicates that the film has been digitized. Click it to browse the images online.
  • A clickable film roll icon lets you order a film for viewing at a branch FamilySearch Center. Printed books don’t circulate to Family-Search Centers; click the link to “View this catalog record in WorldCat” to find the book in a library near you.

 Search digitized books.

Under the Search tab, click Books to search more than 300,000 digitized publications, including family and county histories, transcribed records and more. Using the Advanced Search, try searching on a name using the “Any is (exact)” option. To view a match, you must download the entire book (a PDF file), then use your PDF reader to search for the term in the book. Some digitized books can be viewed only in the Family History Library or a FamilySearch Center.

These tips will help you maximize FamilySearch’s power to help you find family:

Explore all the search options. The site’s record search doesn’t cover all its genealogical information. Under the Family Tree menu, choose Find to search the Family Tree. To search user-contributed genealogies, use Search>Genealogies. With Memories>Find, you might find photos and stories not attached to the Family Tree.

Search with wildcards. The FamilySearch records search lets you use the ? wildcard in a surname to represent one letter, and the * wildcard to represent multiple letters.

Look for indexes in imaged volumes. Browsing an unindexed collection? Digitized volumes may contain handwritten or typed name indexes. Look for a volume with “index” in the title, and check the beginning and end of individual volumes.

Start searching with a place. To focus your search on record collections related to a place, look under the Search tab, click Records and select a region on the world map. If you click on the United States and click New York in the popup menu, a New York research page comes up, where you can search indexed New York records. Scroll down to see collections that haven’t been indexed yet; click a title to browse.

Search from a Family Tree profile. FamilySearch can help you find records faster by filling in the search form with details on someone in the Family Tree. In the person’s Details view, look under the Search Records section of the right column and select FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast or MyHeritage. You can attach a matching record from FamilySearch to everyone it pertains to in the tree. Now
MyHeritage can do that, too. Look for the link at the bottom of the record to “Attach source to FamilySearch.”

Get research advice. The FamilySearch Wiki, which you can access under the Search tab, offers research advice, such as how to access records for a particular state or country or how to find military records.

See recently updated collections. FamilySearch’s fast digitizing pace means you should check regularly for new records from the places your family lived. Under the Search tab, click Records, then click Browse All Published Collections to see a list of all records. Click the Last Updated column heading to move recently updated collections to the top.

Get more help. To find articles and videos about using FamilySearch, Click on Get Help, then Help Center and search on a topic. For example, search for Civil War, and the matches include an article on South Carolina Civil War service records of Confederate soldiers, videos on researching Civil War records and more.

Volunteer to index records. If you have a few minutes, you can index digitized records on your home computer and make them searchable. Click on Indexing>Overview to get started with FamilySearch Indexing.

Thanksgiving Feast Traditions

Vicki’s note – article from Family Tree magazine, 11/14/2016 By Lauren Eisenstodt.  Heh – we were all busy, so you now have time to read this after Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Feast Traditions

11/14/2016
Get the real story behind your Thanksgiving dinner.

One could argue that there’s no traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. While some families roast, deep-fry or barbecue their turkey, others opt for a vegetarian alternative such as Tofurky, or forego the bird altogether. So the question is: Who put the turkey in Turkey Day, and just how traditional is this “American tradition”?

Each family has its own take on this all-American meal. For some, the traditional side dishes are cornbread, cranberries and candied yams. Others stick to stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans. And of course, each year every gourmet magazine strives to spice up the menu with fresh spins on what it considers the old standbys.

Here’s what really happened at the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving meal in 1621.

What the Pilgrims Ate at the First Thanksgiving Dinner

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared a feast, which we now regard as the first Thanksgiving meal.  From first-hand accounts of the feast, historians can prove that the Pilgrims and Wampanoags ate turkey and venison. But modern Thanksgiving staples such as pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, corn on the cob and potatoes were not 

on the menu. Pilgrims didn’t have access to sugar and potatoes in those days, and corn would have been as grain, made into bread or porridge. 

Among the dishes they

could have eaten are Dutch cheese, wild grapes, lobster, cod and stewed pumpkin. The side dishes probably didn’t matter much to the Pilgrims, though. They didn’t eat a lot of vegetables and preferred meals comprised of several meats—which means that turkey probably wasn’t the focus of their Thanksgiving meal. See our five Thanksgiving myths debunked.

Table Manners, 1621-Style

Seventeenth-century table manners would seem foreign at our modern family feasts. Pilgrims didn’t use forks, and they wiped their hands on large cloth napkins, which they also used to pick up hot food. They set every dish on the table at once and placed the best foods next to the most important people. Rather than pass dishes, they ate what was closest to them (forget sampling the lobster if it was across the table).

Today, many families eat Thanksgiving dinner in early afternoon. This might spring from the Pilgrims’ custom of eating the biggest meal of the day at noon. But while modern Thanksgivings emphasize family togetherness, in the Pilgrims’ day, adults sat down to eat while children and servants waited on them.

What Date Was the Pilgrims “Thanksgiving” Feast?

The event now regarded as the first Thanksgiving wasn’t a true thanksgiving in the Pilgrims’ eyes, but rather a secular celebration of the season’s harvest. To the Pilgrims, a day of thanksgiving was one in which they gathered—usually in a church—to thank God for his mercies.

The three days of dancing, singing and playing games known as the first Thanksgiving were more of a fall festival, occurring sometime between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11.

And to historians’ knowledge, it was never repeated. Years later, New Englanders declared days of prayer and thanks. Nov. 30, 1777, the Continental Congress recommended a day of thanksgiving after US victory in the Battle of Saratoga.

But these were days of religious observance. And while Presidents Washington, Adams and Madison declared days of thanksgiving during their terms, the practice was not an annual tradition. In fact, Presidents Jefferson and John Quincy Adams considered it an infringement on the separation of church and state.

The Evolution of Thanksgiving


A Thanksgiving dinner table in 1923, Library of Congress

How did modern Thanksgiving celebrations evolve from the 1621 feast? Until Mourt’s Relation, a colonial publication that contained Edward Winslow’s first-hand account of the 1621 celebration, was rediscovered in the 1820s, Americans had forgotten the now-famous feast. This discovery, along with the 1856 publication of Puritan William Bradford’s manuscript “Of Plimoth Plantation,” which also mentions the celebration, sparked a newfound interest in the Pilgrims. This is when Americans began to associate their thanksgivings with the Plymouth colonists.

In the first half of the 1800s, the New England states had declared their own annual thanksgivings, which had become more secular and family-and-food focused. New Englanders had introduced the holiday to other parts of the country. By the mid-1800s, even Southern states, which had rejected the Yankee custom, began to celebrate  thanksgivings.

In 1863, magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale wrote to President Lincoln urging him to establish a national day of thanksgiving to unite the country. Taking her advice, President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November, 1863, a national thanksgiving holiday.

Today’s Turkey Day

At the turn of the century, the holiday gained popularity as immigrants, trying to assimilate to their new home’s customs, added turkey to their ethnic cuisine. But it didn’t become an official, annual national holiday until 1941.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with tradition by declaring the next-to-last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day—after the National Retail Dry Goods Association’s requested to extend the Christmas shopping season by one week. The decision met with confusion. Twenty-three states observed the holiday on Nov. 23, and 23 states celebrated on Nov. 30. Texas and Colorado declared both days holidays. Thanksgiving football games had to be rescheduled, and no one knew when to serve the holiday meal.
In 1941, President Roosevelt admitted his mistake and signed a bill that established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day, which it has been ever since.

Today, Thanksgiving truly is an American tradition—though its roots might not stretch as deep as legend tells us. While menus vary by region and household, it’s a day when we come together as a nation to appreciate family and friendship. Just as the Pilgrims and Wampanoags did almost four centuries ago.

Tracing Colonial and early American ancestors? Find expert advice in these essential how-to resources on ShopFamilyTree.com:

Illinois Genealogy: Best Sites & Research Strategies

Vicki’s note – 11-24-2016  article from FamilyTreeMagazine.com by Diane Haddad.:

Illinois Genealogy: Best Sites & Research Strategies

The fifth-most populated US state, Illinois is home to 13 million people. Its long history, rich farmland, bustling Chicago area and position along the way West means that many of our families settled in or passed through the state. Some of our favorite Illinois genealogy websites include:

We’ll share the best records, websites and search strategies for Illinois ancestry in our upcoming Illinois Genealogy Research Strategies webinar. The hour-long online class, which includes a live Q&A, happens Thursday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Name

 

Trace Your Illinois State Family History

With the fifth largest population in the United States, almost 13 million people call Illinois home. Whether you have ancestors that grew up in farmland, or sought work in a big city, the richness and diversity of Illinois is reflected in the history of the people who have lived, worked and played there.

In this hour-long presentation, learn how to trace your Illinois state family history with resources and genealogy search methods unique to the “Prairie state.” You’ll gain insight into the historical events and factors that affected your ancestors and tips that will guide your research, from the records available and where to find them, to methods for finding new clues and insights into your family tree. Plus, you’ll have a chance to get answers to your pressing questions on Illinois state genealogy.

Four Resources for Scots-Irish (Ulster) Ancestors

Vicki’s Note – 11-24-2016 article from FamilyTreeMagazine.com by Diane Haddad:

Four Resources for Scots-Irish (Ulster) Ancestors

A two-step immigration process–from Scotland to Ulster and then to America, separated by a century or two–complicates your research into Scots-Irish (also called Ulster-Scots) ancestors, as do record losses and sometimes a lack of records in Ireland.

But records do exist:

Learn more about researching your Scots-Irish ancestors in Research Your Scots-Irish Family History, a four-week online course starting Nov. 28. Get an overview of this course and sign up at FamilyTreeUniversity.com.

Trace Your Scots-Irish Ancestry Back to Ulster


The term “Scots-Irish” refers to the descendants of Scottish people who emigrated to Ulster in the seventeenth century to take advantage of economic opportunities. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, an estimated one-third of Ulster’s population was Scottish.

In this four week course, you will gain a basic understanding of the settlement of Ulster in the seventeenth century and the migration of the Ulster-Scots people to America in the seventeenth century. Descriptions of records and lists of websites will help you find many of the documents required to trace your Scots-Irish ancestors back to Ireland. You will also gain an appreciation for the challenges of Irish research. Review exercises and discussion prompts will encourage you to start your research and engage with your classmates.

Take the class to answer these questions and others:

Why is Scots-Irish different than Irish or Scottish genealogy research?

Where is Ulster? Province of Ulster Northern Ireland

Scots-Irish Genealogy Search Strategies

Google announced Photo-editing Picasa’s retirement.

Family Tree Genealogy Insider article

Monday, February 22, 2016
Google Retires Its Free Picasa Photo-editing Software
Posted by Diane Haddad

Have you been relying on Google’s free Picasa software to edit, store and share your digital photos and scans of old family photos? Then you’ve probably heard that Google has announced Picasa’a retirement. Photo-editing will still work if you have Picasa installed on your computer, but support ends March 15.

Photos you’ve uploaded to Picasa Web Albums will be automatically transferred to Google Photos on May 1. There, storage is free as long as your photos don’t surpass the upper limits set on resolution. Google Photos has tools to enhance and edit your photos, though not as extensively as other options. Sharing also is limited.

You can read more about Google Photos in this PC Mag review (which says it’s “not the best option out there”).

On the lookout for new options to edit and preserve digitized family photos? Want to learn how you can digitally repair tears, spots, fading and other photo damage at home—inexpensively? In Family Tree University’s Photo-Editing for Genealogists one-week online workshop, How To Archive Family Photographs author Denise Levenick will show you a range of editing tools and techniques including Photoshop Elements, PicMonkey and others.

The Photo-Editing for Genealogists workshop takes place online Feb. 29-March 6, and includes educational videos, as well as written lessons and a conference message board for asking Denise questions. See a workshop program and register at FamilyTreeUniversity.com.

Free Websites for Historical European Newspapers

Free Websites for Historical European Newspapers

Article from  12-17-2015 Diane Haddad, Editor
Family Tree Magazine
FamilyTreeMagazine.com

This week’s tip from Family Tree Magazine contributor Rick Crume offers two terrific sites where you can search old digitized European newspapers:

To search large collections of newspapers from many European countries dating back to the seventeenth century, visit these two free websites: Europeana Newspapers <http://www.europeana-newspapers.eu/&gt; and European Library Newspaper Collection <www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/tel4/newspapers>.

Look for even more overseas newspaper sites early next year in the March/April 2016 Family Tree Magazine

 

Findmypast Free Weekend is now live!

Findmypast

(Note from Vicki – See also BLOG posting for 1-20-2026 on this offer.)

1-22-2016 article from FamilyTreeMagazine.com
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8 Habits of Highly Organized Genealogists

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 Article from

Diane Haddad, Editor
Editor, Family Tree Magazine
FamilyTreeMagazine.com

8 Habits of Highly Organized Genealogists

Why is organizing genealogy stuff perpetually challenging for so many of us? Maybe because finding new ancestry information is more fun than logging it. And organization isn’t a one-way-fits-everyone kind of deal—the system and tools best for you depend on how your brain works.

But the pros will tell you that organizing is an important part of research. It helps you figure out how the new piece fits into your family tree and form conclusions about your ancestors. That’s why we’re holding our Family Tree University Organize Your Genealogy in a Week online workshop Jan. 25-31, where you’ll learn best practices from genealogy experts and exchange ideas with other family historians like you.

What I like about the following eight getting-organized principles (which have come from Family Tree Magazine contributors and readers over the years) is that you can apply them with the tools and techniques that are right for you. You’ll learn a lot more about such tools and techniques in the Organize Your Genealogy in a Week workshop.

1. Keep the big picture in mind.
You can use genealogy charts such as five-generation ancestor charts and family group sheets to help you visualize how your relatives fit together, or try an online family tree builder with an app on your smart phone. (Find free downloadable blank forms on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.) It’s also handy to have a large working family tree chart, where you can see the whole thing at once.

2. Take charge of paper files.
Set up a filing system for family papers. Many researchers use binders or file folders arranged alphabetically by surname. Each surname folder holds papers from a couple’s marriage to their death, as well as any general notes. Children go in their parents’ folder, then get their own folder when they marry. You also might keep folders for towns or counties, with maps, historical background and local research notes.

3. Go digital.
To save space in paper files and create electronic backups, scan photos and paper documents. Organize digital files with the same system as your paper files. Determine a file-naming scheme, write it down and stick to it.

4. Establish an organization routine.
If you regularly take short chunks of time to file stuff, it becomes second nature. Set up an inbox on your desk or computer hard drive for items you need to take action on (scan, label, etc.) and a “to file” folder for documents ready to be put away. Once a week or month, schedule time to empty these boxes.

5. Take advantage of tech tools.
You can organize with tons of tech tools and apps, such as Evernote for tracking information and research findings, Calibre to manage e-books, Flickr for photos, Excel spreadsheets for checklists and logs. Find some of our favorite genealogy apps listed here.

6. Designate a workspace.
If you’re like many of us, your genealogy workspace may double as a guest bedroom, dining room table or living room floor. Try to have a designated spot for your files, computer and books.

7. Color-code folders and files.
You could use a color for each surname, though you’d probably run out of colors before too long. I’d color code by branch with a different color for each of my grandparents’ lines. Color-code computer files and folders to match: On a Mac, click on a folder or file in the finder window and then click the down arrow next to the gear icon. From the drop-down menu, select Label and the color. PCs don’t have built-in folder color-coding, but you can download a program such as Folderico.

8. Create a kit for on-site research.
Prepare a bag with tools you might need for research at a repository: notebook, pen, pencil, money for the copier, flash drive, a family group sheet, surname variant lists, blank census or passenger list recording forms, etc. Now you won’t have to run around gathering stuff when you leave for the library.