When you have a genealogy problem, who are you going to call?
Ghostbusters won't help you with genealogy questions - unless they can make contact with your own long-departed ancestors who can answer your questions.
But there are experts out there who will help you solve your family history problem.
There are millions of genealogy blogs in cyberspace. A Google blog search query for "genealogy," showed 1,545,813. Many focus on the author's own research on his or her family. Some focus on a specific state, region, country or type of resource (ethnic, religious, photography, cemeteries, etc.).
How do you find a blog covering the topics in which you are interested?
The newest list of genealogy blogs is found at Geneabloggers.com, with some 600 blogs listed and growing. Major gen blogger Thomas MacEntee decided that there should be a place for all gen blogs and created the site. His blogs are categorized by subject, topic, specific locality or country.
One of the best is Chris Dunham's Blog Finder which categorizes a long list of some 1,400 blogs. They are categorized under personal research, locality specific, technology, single surname, documentary, photography, cemeteries, international, conferences, Jewish, Polish, French Canadian/Acadian, preservation, famous folks, genetic genealogy, podcasts, libraries, associations and societies, African-American, queries, professional genealogists, obituaries, communities, humor, Vlogs and corporate.
For example, there are 174 international blogs, focusing on Canada, Germany, Ireland, Latin America, France, England, Scotland, Sweden, Australia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, South Africa, Croatia, Mexico, Italy, Finland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Hungary, Caribbean islands and other countries.
One of the great things about genealogy blogging is that we have so many talented colleagues who focus on different aspects of our passion for family history. Some of us concentrate on history, on family stories, on photographs.
Some of my colleagues are in the techno wiz category. Their special talents include careful analysis and step-by-step guides to walk the rest of us through new resources. Their expertise and insight help everyone.
MyHeritage.com recently released Family Tree Builder 4.0 with a host of exciting and easy new features designed to make connecting, re-connecting and communicating with our families and preserving our family histories easier and more fun. And, with so many languages supported, we can easily connect with family around the world, whether they are in the US, Italy, Israel or Russia.
The exciting major innovations include a great map feature, to illustrate where your family came from or their lives today; photo albums, to organize media files for the whole family; slideshow and screen saver to showcase photo collections; and the family toolbar, to access family chat and get direct access to your family sites at MyHeritage.com
I am not a techie and I know that there are many family historians and genealogists just like me. This means we rely on colleagues to help us through much of today's innovation. One of the best people I know in this talented group is my blogging buddy, Randy Seaver, who writes the Genea-Musings genealogy blog.
Randy has written a series of posts offering a careful analysis of our new Family Tree Builder 4.0 release. He has already covered GEDCOM upload, navigation, data entry, sources, maps, reports, charts and photos, indicating more will be added. Along with the explanations, he includes great screen shots of each step.
The Library of Congress, in Washington DC, is a major resource for many research projects.
I subscribe to its frequent updates and receive many peeks at what's new online.
While the LOC's historical photos are excellent, there is certainly much more. But if photos are what you need, it's a great place to start. Click here and search by names, towns, occupations and other keywords.
And it isn't only for American resources.
Are you researching a Japanese ancestor who may have been a famed artist? The Prints and Photographs Division offers more than 2,500 online digitized Japanese woodblock prints and drawings (late 17th-20th centuries) by such artists as Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi, Sadahide, and Yoshiiku. Although they've been online for some time, searching was a problem because of the lack of descriptions. Now all the images have Japanese and English titles and subjects, making searching and identification much easier.
According to the catalog description, the illustration (left) is an 1860 print by artist Ochiai, Yoshiiku (1833-1904). It shows a flute-playing Russian woman and an Englishman holding a rifle. It Includes Japanese translations of English words such as kome/raisu (rice), mugi/beruri (barley), cha/chi (tea).
As for the entire print and photo collection, it currently numbers more than 14 million images, including photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people. And, of course, since America is a nation of immigrants from around the world, there are global connections in its resources.
The LOC is also using technology to enlist the help of online participants. In January 2008, it launched a pilot project on Flickr, the popular photosharing Web site. The public was invited to tag and describe two sets of approximately 3,000 historic photos.
This project was welcomed in a big way. In the first 24 hours after the launch, 1.1 million views were recorded on the project and 3.6 million views a week later. In March 2008, LOC began loading an additional 50 photos each Friday. As of October 2008, LOC Flickr photos average a half-million views per month and since the project began, there have been 10 million-plus views. The LOC blog reported in May 2009 that viewers can find more than 1.2 million pictures in the digitized collections in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog at the Library of Congress website.
What else can a researcher find at the LOC? Acording to more than 20 updates I've already received just in August (and the month isn't over yet!), here are some of the subjects: Historic Newspapers, additions to "Chronicling America," longevity of digital documents, "100 years ago" features (tennis for young girls and other topics), lectures, staff appointments, the August 2009 Digital Preservation Newsletter and more. Other alerts feature videos and webcasts.
My summer was bracketed by two major conferences and both provided sessions on photograph and video technology.
The Southern California Genealogical Society 2009 Jamboree (June 26-29, Burbank) provided several sessions by experts Tony Burroughs, Maureen Taylor and Tom Underhill.
Burroughs' session on "Lights, Camera, Action," gave attendees the bsics on turning genealogical documents, photos, interviews and videos into a family history documentary on your computer. He stressed that editing video tapes is easy and not expensive and he covered equipment, costs and demonstrated sample videos.
His basic equipment package includes software, computer, camcorder, connections, video card, computer skills, and techniques for shooting and editing. A useful resource mentioned was Video Maker Magazine. A UK source was Practical Digital Video (formerly DigitalVideo Techniques), but its website was down.
Taylor's "Immigrant Clues in Photographs," provided clothing clues (military, work or trade), regional or ethnic dress, props in the photo, location, celebrations, a postmark (if a card was mailed), the studio/photographer name, etc. Another session focused on identifying and preserving photos, and provided an extensive bibliography for more information.
"The iPod and the Genealogist," with Underhill, offered ways "to integrate family history into future generations and how to integrate the next generation into genealogy." The premise was interesting and utilized working with the younger generations with the technology they were familiar with, while incorporating family history into email, video, internet research, scanning, sharing and collaboration.
I joined the digital camera era several years ago, and have always meant to take a class in how to do better with it. As we all know, life has a way of getting in the way of allowing us to do what we really want. Fortunately, the 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, held August 2-7, in Philadelphia, also provided such sessions as "Digital Photography for Genealogy," "Plotting Your Family History Using Google Earth," as well as sessions on preserving documents and photographs.