Exciting News from Maureen Taylor

Photo Detective.bmpMany of you may have seen our friend Maureen Taylor on the Today Show this week as she helped trace the family history of the show’s hosts. If you missed it, they have the series online on the Today Show website.  She also revealed on the show and on her blog that she’s working on another exciting project. She’s working on a Photo Detective series with the History Channel, that will air later this year on History.com. Congrats to Maureen on both of these projects!


Ancestry/FamilySearch Merged 1900 U.S. Census is Live with Free Index!

Ancestry____logo3.bmpWas just reading on the Ancestry blog that the 1900 Census joint project of Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org is now up FamilySearch.bmpand running and the index is free for a limited time. The images have be replaced with newly scanned copies of an earlier generation microfilm, improving the quality of many images. The Ancestry.com index, including customer corrections, has been merged with the new, double-keyed FamilySearch Index that includes additional fields.

Click here to search the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.

Learn more about the new index here on the Ancestry blog.

More Political Roots…

Our friend Megan Smolenyak has stumbled on to an interesting coincidence. It turns out that co-running mates Barack Obama and Joe Biden both had ancestors who were shoemakers, and both immigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1849. In both cases, the father came over in 1849, followed a year later by the rest of their families. You can read all the details of her findings on her RootsTelevision blog.

Weekly Planner: Plant a Seed

While the gardening season here in the northern hemisphere is winding down, it’s always planting season in the world of family history. Plant a seed that could grow into a connection with other researchers who share your ancestry. Message boards, mailing lists, and an up-to-date Public Profile on Ancestry can create a trail to your family tree for some unknown cousin who gets bitten by the genealogy bug. More information on creating or updating your Public Profile on Ancestry can be found here.

Using AncestryPress: Tips from a Completed Project, by Juliana Smith

Back in June, I wrote about an AncestryPress project my dad and I have been working on, creating a descendants book for our immediate family. At that time, we had laid the groundwork and started loading images. Once we had the book formatted and photos added we decided to get input from the rest of the family.

Prior to the invitation to view the book, getting everyone to contribute their favorite family photos had been like pulling teeth. But once they saw the actual project, photos began pouring in. Perhaps it was the collection of bad 70s pictures we had included for each of my siblings or maybe just seeing the actual book got them a little more excited about it. Whatever the reason, we suddenly had proofreading help and a lot more pictures to add–as well as some requests to “Please, oh please, take that one out!” These changes prolonged the project a bit, but the extra work was worth it. Everyone had great ideas and our book is better for it.

As our project progressed to completion this past week, I learned a few tricks, so in today’s column I’ll share them with you.

Photo Folders
Our project was very image heavy. We were working with more than 100 photographs so we had to figure out a way to sort them so that they weren’t cumbersome to go through while we worked on the pages. To do this we saved them into folders on dad’s computer–one for each person (e.g., Juliana, Diana, etc.) Then when we loaded the images, we created corresponding folders in AncestryPress. These folders for me and my siblings, made it easy to select photos for one person’s section of the book, without wading through photos of other family members.

When people started sending in a second wave of pictures, we ran into some minor complications. With so many pictures scattered throughout the fifty-page book, it was tough to remember which were used and which were new. To avoid duplication, we created a second folder for each person (e.g., Juliana2, Diana2, etc.). This let us work only with the newest pictures. As each photo was used, we would copy it to the original “used” folder for use in future projects and delete it from the later folders. (To move images among folders, just open the folder you want to move it from, click on the image and drag it to the new folder. Then you can click on the link at the bottom of that window to remove the selected image.)

Another helpful tool in locating images in the photo folders was the search box. You can search individual files or all of the photos in AncestryPress by the name of the photograph. This was a real timesaver on a number of occasions.

When it came to working with the timeline and small print, I did two things that helped. First, I expanded my browser to “View Full Screen.” Secondly, whenever I was working with text, I used the slide bar at the top of the AncestryPress tool to zoom in on the page. With the full page on the screen, the type was just too tiny for my eyes to see, even with my reading glasses, and this helped me to make sure there were no typos. Then once I had entered and re-read the text, I went back to full screen and dealt with alignment and arrangement issues.

Editing the Timelines
The timelines turned out to be a big hit. As I mentioned in my last article, we changed the items in the timelines to include events that were more relevant to our family. We added the first airing of favorite television shows, sports events, favorite movies, and other fun trivia.

Dark BackgroundsAPress color vs white2.bmp
On the photograph pages, when we first started putting in the images, we went for lighter colored backgrounds, but as I looked through the pages, the photographs didn’t really stand out. We switched to darker backgrounds and I was amazed at how much it helped make the photos “pop” out of the book. We ended up choosing a particular background for each family in the book, so that their section was consistent with their color. Experiment with various backgrounds and textures and see what works best with the photographs on your pages.APress color vs white.bmp

Also, don’t look at just one page, look at the spread as a whole. You can do this by clicking on the Preview/Print button at the top of the tool. That way you’ll see how the pages look together, just as if you were looking at the real book. Doing this will help you keep styles consistent.

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Your Genealogy Staycation, by George G. Morgan

A recent addition to everyday vernacular is “staycation.” Its definition is to spend a vacation at or near one’s home. The global economic recession and huge increases in fuel prices have caused people all over the world to consider ways to conserve money. That includes how people choose to spend their vacations and leisure time.

My vacations have always included genealogical research of some sort. That has meant scheduling travel to or near places where I can conduct some sort of research. I feel the economic crunch like everyone else, and I realize that my genealogical research can be done, in very many cases, from my home or through nearby libraries and archives. I am fortunate that the public libraries in Tampa and Largo, Florida, each have intensive genealogical and local history collections. In addition, the University of South Florida in Tampa holds an impressive group of special collections related to genealogical pursuits. And of course there’s the Internet.

Investigate the Internet
There are massive amounts of materials available on or through the Internet. Many records have been digitized and indexed for easy access. Ancestry and its various geographical entities (UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and most recently China) are home to many record types including census records, ships’ passenger lists, WWI draft registrations, civil registrations, military service records, death certificates, family and local history books, original governmental indexes, newspapers, and much more. Other online subscription sites also provide access to these and many other types of digitized original records. If you haven’t taken the time to investigate these digitized records in a while, you’ll be surprised how much treasure is available.

Some governmental agencies have published indexes or have digitized original documents at their websites. Use your browser to search for the governmental offices of that entity. For example, the following is a search for Augusta County, Virginia. (Quotation marks are included to narrow the search.)

government “augusta county” virginia Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: What Have You Preserved Lately? from Michael John Neill

Recently I was asked to make a presentation at a family reunion. As part of the process, I had temporary access to the “reunion book” which had been kept since the mid 1950s. This book had a record of everyone who attended the reunion and the town they were living at the time (including a list of out-of-state addresses from the early 1970s). There were lists of births, deaths, and marriages, along with lists of reunion expenses, entertainment, and prizewinners. There was even a record of the great debate in the early 1970s whether to donate $25 or $15 to the church for use of the hall.
I realized that there was only one copy of this book and that the information it contained could easily be lost. Since I had to return it, the easiest way to immediately preserve it was by photocopying it in its entirety. My next step is to determine whether I should make additional copies, scan it, and burn some CDs. I’m still considering my options. But at least now there is more than one copy.
The next time you have access to an “unpublished” source, ask yourself, “Is there some way that I could preserve this for future generations?” Someone in 100 years may thank you for it.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

Your Quick Tips, 25 August 2008

Look at the Walls
If you are visiting a genealogical society or local history library with your digital camera, be sure to look on the walls. A favorite item for wall display is a historic map of the area. With your flash disabled you can take photos of the map for later reference. I’ve used this approach to locate the creek named in a deed, the road assigned to an ancestor for road labor, the location of a forge mentioned in a court case, and several ancestors’ farms labeled by name on the maps. Often these maps on display are the only copy available. Don’t overlook them.

Janet Wright Continue reading