Showing posts with label Research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Research. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Genealogy Publishing and LDS Ancestor Resources

I’ve written about publishing your family history work in the past.  In the past few months, I’ve helped several people conceptualize the book layout that they hoped to create for their own families. 

Any of us can be a published author with little to no cost by using online digital publishing companies.  You create the pages on your computer and then upload them to the online sites.  They all offer tools to help you create wonderful family history publications that your family will cherish for years and years..

Here are two of the sites to consider: Lulu.com and Blurb.com.  Take a look at the books others have created, read user comments and check out the pricing on the sites. There are other sites available, so be sure to find the one that best fits your situation and expectations.

A thumb-through of existing genealogy books on the sites, will help you both visualize your book and give you some ideas of what makes a good family genealogy book.  Here are examples from a publication on each site:

You can see the different styles of writing genealogists use when writing their books.  The Barber book (Blurb.com) was written by someone who was gifted at writing family stories and then supported his text with reports from his genealogy program, photos of people, places, their environment and their tombstones.   The few preview pages of the Batten book (Lulu) show that the author used reports from their genealogy program sprinkled with photos.

The focus of the two books differs in that the Barber book focuses on a limited number of generations while the Batten book covers many more generations but looses the detailed story text represented in the Barber book. 

The choice of writing styles depends on the amount and type information that the author wants to convey to their readers.  What style will you choose for your project?  It all depends on your audience and the information you are trying to convey to them.

Close and extended family constantly ask me for a report of their lineage. Depending on the ancestral lines that we have in common, the book type reports may be several hundred pages to 4,000 - 5,000 pages long.  I use Legacy software to create the reports and send them as .pdf file attachments on emails rather than printing them to hard copy.  The reports are “OK - to - great” depending on how much time I take to interject written stories, text, photos, documents and other information as compared to the basic formatting from Legacy.  The same files can be used in publishing a book from one of these vendors.

Using one of the on-demand publishing companies will save you a lot of money in setup costs and you don’t have to make a minimum purchase out of pocket. Pricing of the books automatically covers the printing costs and any additional profit you decided to include can help fund continued research. 

We all encounter hard-to-read documents in our research.  Handwriting Tutorials from BYU are online for no cost in English, German, Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. 

If you have Scots ancestry and struggle reading the old handwriting, visit the Scottish Handwriting site and read their tutorial.  When you finish, you’ll be a Scots handwriting Wiz or at least substantially more proficient in reading them. 

If you have Mormon ancestors, be sure to check out all of the sources and reference information on the Mormon History site at BYU.  Subject Librarian, Mike Hunter, has assembled an impressive collection of resources to help using our research.

Continuing with the Mormon ancestor research theme, be sure to look for your ancestors on the Mormon Migration passenger list.  Also, remember to look for them on the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847-1868, and on Mormon Pioneer Census Search.

Lastly in this focus group, we’ll round out the Mormon list with the Mormons and Their Neighbors site and the ever impressive Early Latter-day Saints site.

Site Pick of the Week: The Library of Congress Digital Newspapers.  I worked on digitizing newspapers for this site for a few years and intimately know how much work goes into creating these great records.  A few years ago, I interviewed the last Editor of the American Fork Citizen, Lehi Free Press and Pleasant Grove Review about his years of working at these locally “newsy” papers.  When I mentioned that I’d always wanted copies of all the issues of the Citizen because so many of my ancestors were mentioned in it, he stated that all of the copies of all three of these publications were put in the trash can when they were purchased by a national newspaper company. 

He was sick about it.  We commiserated that he and I had not gone dumpster diving to retrieved them.   Even though many of the issues are found in the BYU library, a full collection is almost impossible to find.  At least it was hard to find until the LOC published them recently on their site.

Searching these wonderful old, often “chatty” publications for information about your family should be an integral part of any ancestral research effort.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Google Docs Comments and Discussions in Genealogy

Genealogy research teams should seriously consider using the collaborative features in Google Docs to share and document their assignments and progress in collaborative research.

A research plan using Docs is available to your team members any time and in any place that they have Internet access and no special services are required other than a Google account.

There are two collaborative tools you’ll want to use with a research document: 

Comments and Discussions.

A comment has been commonly used by most of us for years when we insert a comment into a shared document.  Discussions associated with a document are new.  The discussions stream can obviously trace its lineage back to Google Wave. While it does not include all of the features of Wave, its usefulness in collaborative research documents is undeniable.

Team members will find these tools simple to use: 

Create a research document in a Google Documents and then share it with everyone on the research team giving them edit rights.   They can be notified of document creation and updates using any email or other contact address, but  they will need a Google account to view and participate in collaborative additions to the document.  Login by going to https://docs.google.com  The document will automatically show in the document list for anyone who has view or edit rights.

Comments can be added to the document by anyone on the team.  The comment entries list both a time stamp and username of the person creating them. 

Insert > Comment

 

A Discussion is an ongoing separate dialog that is linked to the document.  They are created by clicking on the “Discussions” button at the top of the page.

 

The Discussion is viewable in a floating frame over the document.

 

Other team members viewing the document are announced when they open the document.

 

Teams can create a never-ending research document for a common ancestor, a family, history of an ancestral home town, etc.  Add photos, movies, links, drawings, or any other discoveries found during the research process. 

Comments stay with the document unless they are deleted. They will print with the document, so you may need to copy the document to a new doc or delete the comments if you don’t want them on a printed document.

If team members don’t want to receive email notes when changes are made to the document, they can turn them off in the Discussions > Discussion Notification Settings.  Sharing settings are found in the Sharing > Sharing Settings.

Collaborative research plans and results tracking are extremely useful and productive tools for research teams.  Active teams invariably produce far greater research results than the success of any single member of the team. 

Create a plan and give it a try for your research teams.  It works .. very well.

 

Using Discussions in Google Docs

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Using Springpad for Genealogy Research

A research plan and related notes are required for any successful genealogical research project.  Each of us has a method or methods that we use with some level of success.

Some of us use our laptop or smartphones to reference research plan files.  Others use paper notes that they carry on research trips.  I use the tasks that I’ve created in my Legacy database.  That tool has worked well for me over the years and I’ll continue to use it.  However ….

Recently, I found myself unexpectedly stopping at a library without my laptop, my notes and apparently without a functioning memory tool in my brain.  The library had ‘stuff’ that I really wanted but I couldn’t remember exactly what I needed and time was limited.

ToDo Header

SpringpadEven though the library had Internet access, I couldn’t get to my files at home because I don’t run server apps on my home servers that can be accessed from the outside world. Without my research plan and notes, I had to guess at what I probably wanted.  The fact that closing time was near only added to the pressure of finding what I hoped to obtain if I ever visited this location.

Lesson learned.  There had to be a way to access my research notes and images from any computer in the world via the Internet.  Posting the data in private directories on one of my websites was an option but I didn’t want to take the time to install and customize a CMS or other application just for these notes. 

Evernote came to mind, but it didn’t have some of the functions that I wanted to use.  I’d heard about Springpad and decided to give it a try.  It was a good choice.

Springpad is accessed directly through your browser or on your smartphone.  Creating an account is free.  You can use your login credentials from other entities such as Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook or you can create a user account directly on the site.

Springpad can be used for a large variety of useful applications, but let’s look at it from a Genealogical Researchers point of view.

Create New Notebook

Click on the “+” icon on the desktop to create your new Genealogy Research Notebook.   Name it, change the color, etc., to make it meaningful to you.

Create A Note

Add the details, links, images and other information for each person or activity you want to follow in your plan.

Tags, Permisions, Alarms in Springpad

Create Task

Tasks function as your ToDo entries.  Add details, links, images, due dates, alarms, etc., for each of them.  I have my tasks send me reminder email messages a few days ahead of the due date that I’ve established to complete the task. 

Take a few minutes and create tags for each entry so you can search for them later.  Set flags and permissions.  Springpad allows you to share each Note or Task with others if you change the permissions accordingly.

Click on the “+” on the top right corner of the screen to create another Note or Task.   I title them using the surname of the person associated with them and then sort by name.  Example: Logie, Rosa Clara ……

Add Note or Task in Springpad

You can add images, links, movies, etc., to your Notes and Tasks.  Just add the URL link path to them.  Images will need to be posted on your Picasa, Flickr or called from another online site.

Add Notes, Images, Movies to Springpad Notes and Tasks

Springpad Note with Image

Inside each Note or Task you can add additional Notes, Tasks, etc.  Use them to keep track of your related progress and comments.  If you are working with others, you can instruct Springpad to send email to them and grant them access rights to your post.

Springpad - notes inside a Note or Task 

When you complete a Task in your Research, click on the Task icon to mark it completed.  It won’t be deleted until you mark it for deletion.

springpad_task_completed

Springpad also gives you a “Board” (think post-it board) in each of your Notebooks.  Use it to post notes, maps or other items like you would on the wall board by your phone at home.

Springpad Board Tools

Springpad Board Notes

I’ve created a separate Notebook with a list of Genealogy related links and another one for Technology links and notes, in addition to those used for family and social activities. 

Give Springpad a try and see if it meets the needs of some of your genealogy research and note taking / storage activities. Leave a comment here or make a blog post about how you are using Springpad in your family history quest.

Once you spend a little time with Springpad, you’ll undoubted find it to be very useful in many aspects of your daily life too.

Here’s Jeff Janer, CEO of Springpad, showing Springpad to Leo Leporte and Amber MacArthur on the twit@night show.

Jeff Janer showing Springpad to Amber MacArthur and Leo Leporte

Disclaimer: There is no disclaimer.  I’m just a happy user of Springpad.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Ghost On The Back Stair

Not long ago, I was contacted by a lady that lives in a home that was built on the rear-most part of my ancestors property in New England.  She enjoys genealogy but her current quest is the result of a ghost that lives in her home and sometimes says “Hello” to her family in a clear intelligible friendly voice when they are climbing the back stairs.

Those occurrences prompted her to start a search of the genealogy of her property through the years.  My ancestors owned the land her home sits on for four or five generations of the family and are hence candidates for the possible source of the friendly ghost. 

I can’t image them hanging around the property all these years.  They were never idle in life and I doubt if their personality has changed in the afterlife. I suppose a passing “Hello” wouldn’t be out of character though if they were in the neighborhood.

We all have unusual or unique experiences when we are engaged in family history research.  If you are like me, you too sometimes hear someone speak to you when you are deep in uffish genealogy thought or hot on the trail of that final piece of evidence that will open the door in an ancestral brickwall. 

It happens.  It is so common place that it hardly bears noting in our research lives.   The arrival of unexpected snail or email with genealogy data and records attached is expected.  The longer we engage in genealogical research, the more common the experiences become in our quest.

Their frequency and magnitude seem to be directly proportional to several factors: New researchers earnestly working to find their ancestral trees and more seasoned researchers who post, share and ‘do something’ with the data they find in their hard-won research victories.

Were I to record the thousands of unique assist experiences I’ve enjoyed over the years, my fingers would long tire of typing and another large storage drive would be required to hold all of the data bits from the stories. 

No, I’m not advocating that you start recording the silence around you to hear unseen or unheard voices, nor do I advocate anyone seeking contact with the spirit world.  I’m just appreciative when an unexpected contact, data attachment or the occasional pat on the head happens just when it is most needed in my ancestral quest.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to say “Good Night” when you close down your workstation in the wee hours of the night.  Who’s going to hear you except those helpful ancestors that are watching over your shoulder….

 

Remembering Yesterday
 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Genealogy Research Live in Palm of Your Hand

I know that a number of you have iPhones.  You probably aren't aware that you can purchase an application to let you access new FamilySearch on your phone!  Check out the mobileTree application. 

mobileTree iPhone app I keep much of my genealogy and research on my website (some public, some password protected).  Combine online data with mobileTree and the available GPS application and you have a Killer tool for doing genealogy research!

Imagine.....  The billions of records of nFS, your own data, photos, and ability to interface with all of them using a device that fits in the palm of your hand.   Visit a cemetery, get the GPS coordinates of ancestors graves, take a photo of their headstones and post it all to your site and blog(s) on the spot.  No wasted motion or memory loss!  Wow!

If you have an iPhone, I'll bet Santa would be happy to give you this application if you ask for it.

Continuing on this theme .....

You may not know that you can post your cemetery, research and other photos directly to your blogs via email.   Both Posterous and blogger.com allow postings this way.  All of the posts to my posterous blog are made that way.  

Suppose you are working with family and friends on genealogy and you are on a research trip.  You can share your finds with them in real-time using this method.  I usually have to find a WiFi hot spot or do a little juggling on a public computer at a library or at the FHL to make on-the-spot posts.  

When you have a active research team but haven't worked together in real-time, you can't imagine how the synergy in the groups builds momentum and success in your research.   They help guide your on-the-site search with information they have in their far-flung locations.

I've frequently experienced this synergy in real-time and guarantee it happens.   Add Skype to the mix for live video, voice and peer-to-peer file transfers and you too can make it 'Happen' -- Real Time!

Wow #2!  I may have lived long enough to see some of my dreams become reality!  

The tools are here.  Make it happen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Please Pardon Momma from Jail"

Genealogical research often takes you down many paths, sometimes just because they are so interesting. After several hours of reading interesting documents, this series of documents remained in my memory.

Dear Sir, Would You Please Pardon Momma?

18 Mar 1895 | Logan, Utah

Thirteen year old Polly Beardall found herself raising her siblings due to unfortunate events in the lives of her parents.

Apparently, her father John Gell Beardall left home in 1891 or 1892 saying the was going to Oregon to look for work and was never heard from again. He left his wife, Eliza Richards Beardall and four living children to fend for themselves in Logan, Utah.

Polly was the only daughter in the family. On 18 March 1895, she wrote a letter to the legal authorities asking them to release her mother from jail because Polly had been raising her siblings for over seven months and was worn out.

Her mother, Eliza Richards Beardall had been incarcerated for involuntary manslaughter in the county jail in Logan, Utah. The details of the case aren't revealed in the pardon documents.

Read Polly's poignant plead in this letter asking for her mothers release from jail so she could come home and care for her family.

Beardall Eliza Pardon Letter 1.jpg

I Scarcely Know What To Say

27 Mar 1895 | Logan, Utah

U. S. Attorney, J. W. Judd was asked by Judge W. C. Maginnis for his opinion in Polly's pardon request.

Judge Maginnis was at a loss of words as he started penning his letter to Judd. The impact of young Polly's letter on both of them was obvious in their letters.

Maginnis stated that he didn't think it was good for the children to be put in the care of their mother.

On the surface, this would seem to say that she was an unfit mother, but there is little doubt he meant that due to the indigent circumstances of the family, Eliza would struggle to support, feed and clothe her children.

Beardall Eliza Pardon Letter 2.jpg

Governor Vest .... The Decision Is Up To You

29 Mar 1895 | Logan, Utah

U. S. Attorney, J. W. Judd was asked by Judge W. C. Maginnis for his opinion in Polly's pardon request.

Judge Maginnis was at a loss of words as he started penning his letter to Judd. The impact of young Polly's letter on both of them was obvious in their letters.

Maginnis stated that he didn't think it was good for the children to be put in the care of their mother.

On the surface, this would seem to say that she was an unfit mother, but there is little doubt he meant that due to the indigent circumstances of the family, Eliza would struggle to support, feed and clothe her children.

Governor Vest .... The Decision Is Still Up To You

29 Mar 1895 | Logan, Utah

U. S. Attorney J. W. Judd, wrote a letter to Utah Governor, Caleb W. Vest stating that he couldn't provide a recommendation for pardon, placing the decision on Governor Vest.

Beardall Eliza Pardon Letter 3.jpg

Release and Marriage

May 1895 | Logan, Utah

The pardon was granted on 1 Apr 1895 by Governor Vest and Eliza was released to go home and care for her family.. On 18 May 1895, Eliza married Azial Litchfield Riggs of Logan, Utah.

Two children, Fred and Maud, were produced from this union. Azial died when the children were in their teen years and Eliza again faced the difficult task of working a farm to provide for her family as a single mother.

Eliza died on 21 Oct 1936 in Wellsville, Utah.

Beardall Eliza Pardon Letter 4.jpg

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