17    May 20110 comments

Gen conferences: Information for all

Three genealogy conferences in two countries were on my schedule over the past 10 days.

Each conference provided food for thought, learning opportunities and practical information. Additionally, each event offered networking opportunities, and chances to meet others with the same interests.

On May 7, the Society of Genealogists (London, UK) held their Centenary Conference, a major event for this group founded in 1911. The world of family history and how we research hadn't changed much over the decades until rather recently.

Continue reading "Gen conferences: Information for all" »

26    Jan 20110 comments

Family History: A moving experience

Moving can be chaotic and even traumatic.

Anyone who has ever moved house - even just a few streets away in the same city or as far away as another country - goes through this experience, albeit with varying degrees of complications.

An international move  can be more troublesome.

However, if you're a fan of family history - a newcomer or a professional - you won't be alone in your new community.

All you need do is contact the local genealogical or historical society in your new neighborhood before your move.

Our recent international move to the beautiful state of New Mexico had its share of problems. However, I had already made contacts with the family history community in our new city.

Once I arrived, I called old and new contacts, and soon had a full calendar of meetings, lunches, events and much more. People can't believe that we've only been here for two months.

I've met a wonderful group of researchers - covering all levels of skill and specialities - who belong to at least three genealogical and historical societies.

I've received an excellent beginning education in local Hispanic genealogy - a relatively new area for me - from a local expert. Just one example was an 11am brunch meeting at a great local eatery which went on to well after 6pm - and we could have kept going for hours! This amazing person has offered to introduce me to the archivists at the Hispanic research center, and has invited me to join her at future meetings of another historical society which meets in the next town. I'm looking forward to that.

I've been asked to speak to several groups, as well as to participate in community events, and am already on committees planning local genealogy events and programs, some of which MyHeritage.com is sponsoring.

When I visited our local library branch - a beautiful contemporary building only a few minutes from our home - to sign up for our new library cards, I asked about family history activities and offered to speak. This branch has two librarians who are also genealogists, making this transition very easy.

I'm now on the planning committee for  the library's first major Genealogy Day event in April, aimed at relative newcomers. We'll have a major speaker and then break into several smaller groups offering "how-to-get-started" offerings in several categories. The goal is to plan further workshops  throughout the year and raise awareness of family history throughout the local area. 

The international genealogy community is composed of interesting, helpful individuals united in our common interest in family history and how we can help others get involved.

Our family has moved several times, sometimes internationally, and I have been on both sides of a move - being the newcomer and also welcoming those new to our community.

I believe that all genealogy communities are welcoming to newcomers as each person brings new skills, special interests and knowledge to the mix.  We are always learning about new resources and from each other.

Is a move in your future?

Think about contacting the genealogy groups in that new location ahead of time.

It can make all the difference to a successful transition. Remember that the move to a new location becomes an important part of your family's unique history, so record it with photographs, video and other methods.

Find a genealogy society in your future home via an internet search.

Have you moved recently? What are your tips and advice for newcomers?

17    Jan 20110 comments

Genealogy of Color: Resources Online

In the US, we celebrate famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday as an official holiday on the third Monday in January.

This year it is today, January 17.

It is a fitting day to discuss the increasing number of family history resources available to African Americans searching for their roots, which can be difficult.

When the book "Roots"  was published and later screened as the most-watched television series of all time in the '70s, it offered people of all ethnicities the idea that it was possible to learn about their families. In the past few years, increasing numbers of resources have been made available.

For African Americans, it meant that more resources would be developed allowing the people of today to find out about their ancestors, whose history and even names had been hidden or erased. With today's DNA resources, many can now trace their families to areas in Africa.

Here is a round-up of resources - websites, blogs, DNA research - that will help you learn more about your family. Remember that each resource listed also offers even more links to additional information.

Continue reading "Genealogy of Color: Resources Online" »

31    Dec 20101 comment

New Year: Family history plans for 2011

Some studies indicate that January is the most popular month for family history research.

Perhaps it's because people have just spent time with their families and those social gatherings may have triggered a quest, an emotional response to the universal idea of finding out who we really are, who our ancestors were and everything about them.

You may be in that category of newcomers to this passion of ours, or you might be among those who have spent decades researching your family.

In any case, the new year brings opportunities to follow up on clues, become a bit more organized and take on (or complete) tasks that you know must be done.

Many of us have these to-do lists posted by our computers - even if we don't get to them in a timely fashion - but to help readers who may not have such a list, here are some suggestions:

Continue reading "New Year: Family history plans for 2011" »

13    Jun 20100 comments

Jamboree 2010: Exciting!

Exhilarating, exciting and stimulating are the most descriptive terms for Jamboree 2010 - the 41st annual Southern California Genealogical Society's conference.

Jamboree 2010 Geneabloggers

Some of the 50 attending geneabloggers at Jamboree 2010

This is the fourth time I've attended this conference - the largest regional genealogy conference in the US - and each year it gets better and better. The planning committee, led by Paula Hinkel and Leo Myers, does a really excellent job.

The networking has been non-stop with some 50 geneabloggers Facebooking and Tweeting about the great speakers and programs.

Daniel Horowitz, our MyHeritage genealogy and translation manager, presented several very well-received programs on various aspects of our features - one session had more than 100 attendees, while another was standing-room-only.

I participated on the advanced bloggers' panel and also provided a session on creating a DNA project (how to set goals, objectives, letting people know about it, persuading them to participate, etc.).

Jamboree 2010's advanced bloggers panel

From left: Thomas MacEntee, Craig Manson, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Lisa Louise Cooke, Kathryn Doyle.

Between attending presentations, networking with my colleagues and assisting at the busy MyHeritage booth, it has been a very busy conference. We've been giving out orange family tree hugger ribbons and chocolate kisses - "hugs and kisses." It's great to see so many people with the orange labels on their conference badges.

Many visitors have been dropping by. On Saturday, Chris Haley, nephew of Alex Haley, author of "Roots" came by and spent some time with us.

I have notes on many sessions and will be organizing and posting them over the next few days.

We're already looking forward to next year's edition!

22    Apr 20100 comments

Preservation: Twitter, digital records and more

In this Internet age, how can we preserve digital and traditional photos, documents, recordings and more?

There were several announcements this week by the Washington, DC-based Library of Congress. Here are two of them.

TwitterOne was the acquisition by the LOC of the entire Twitter archive. Ever tweet that you - and everyone else - has ever sent since Twitter launched will be archived for eternity.

There's a good side to this, as well as a cautionary note. The positive note is that our descendants will learn more about us as individuals, what we were interested in, what was important to us, and academics will be able to spend years researching the information and how Twitter changed the world.

In a lighter vein, our future generations will know where we went for lunch, what we ate, if we enjoyed it, and find links to every genealogy (and other blogs) post.

Continue reading "Preservation: Twitter, digital records and more" »

19    May 20091 comment

Social networking for family historians

Put tooltip hereThe Internet changes so rapidly that family history researchers must be aware of how to access every possible resource, including those created by companies, organizations and individual researchers.

Digital genealogy expert Drew Smith has had a lifelong interest in family history. In real life, he is a University of South Florida academic librarian. He's a director of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and Florida Genealogical Society (Tampa) president, well-known co-host of the weekly Genealogy Guys Podcast and contributes to Digital Genealogist magazine.

He has just authored "Social Networking for Genealogists" (Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Maryland, 2009). I've just read it and wanted to let you about it.

While not a heavy tome, its concise 129 pages set out the nuts and bolts of how the social information revolution can benefit each of us on our journeys down Discovery Road. The book covers - in a concise easy-to-read manner - podcasts, RSS, tags, wikis, genealogy social networks, general social networks, message boards, mailing lists, sharing photos and videos, collaborative editing, blogs, sharing personal libraries and even virtual worlds.

Each chapter begins with a definition. The first chapter asks 'What is social networking, and what does it mean for genealogists and their research methods?" followed by:

social networking (noun): A way of using online resources and services to create and maintain a community of individuals who share a common interest.

While social networking used to mean meeting people face-to-face, it is no longer exclusively a physical term. While in-person relationships are an important part of human society, we can now locate people around the world who share our interests - a community of like-minded individuals.

Technology means, writes Drew, that we now "go" to our e-mail box as if it were our home's physical mailbox, or a website as it were a store or meeting. For 10 years, online social networking sites and services have seen a remarkable increase, and some have been designed exclusively for genealogists. Today, we also use general networking sites for genealogical research (such as Facebook and Twitter, which I have written about previously).

While family history researchers have been working on their families for hundreds of years without any technological assistance, other than a better ink or writing instrument, we now have many more resources to access in many different ways.
Continue reading "Social networking for family historians" »

26    Apr 20090 comments

Cyberspace: Finding family

There's a revolution happening in cyberspace and it's great for people looking for family history information.

There are millions of genealogy blogs holding information and everyone also seems to be on Twitter and Facebook.

How can you utilize these sites to find out information and reconnect?

Let's start with blogs.

According to a recent Google search by ProGenealogists.com, there are almost 500,000 "genealogy blog" options and some 3.5 million "family history" blogs. The exact number doesn't really matter - there are a lot of them. My own search showed many more.

BLOGGER

ProGenealogists just published its 25 Top Genealogy Blogs of 2009; find it here. Here's a bit more about some of the top-ranked ones.

Niche or specialist blogs can provide detailed information from many sources to those interested in a specific topic. Dedicated genealogy bloggers often read hundreds of blogs and news sources each week to distill important news for readers, whether it is general or a very localized blog topic. Few people have time to devote that much time to digging out relevant information on a regular basis.

Genealogy blogs report on events, books, technology, history and many topics connected in some way to family history. They are the first to report on new Internet resources, websites, databases.

Two of the most popular blog platforms are Blogger and Wordpress.
WORDPRESS

Some writers focus on their own familes and specialized research, or use a blog as a research journal to record work they have done and information discovered and to share it. Others maintain family sites on MyHeritage.com and also write blogs for even wider Internet exposure in their quest for family connections.

Blogging is a great way to let others know what you are doing, and it helps possible relatives around the world find YOU.

One that concentrates on the author' detailed family records is Steve Danko's Genealogy Blog.

Some blogs are devoted to a particular ethnicity like Jasia's Creative Gene on Polish ethnicity, or CanadaGenealogy.

Some are general topic sources, such as Kimberly Powell's About.com Genealogy, or Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings offers helpful reviews of software and technical devices. DearMYRTLE was the first to utilize podcasts, and she writes several blogs on different aspects of her interests.

And we even have our own resident comedian, Chris Dunham's The Genealogue is always good for a family history-related quirky giggle.

Also, as far as technology and innovations is concerned, Blaine Bettinger's Genetic Genealogist discusses DNA issues.

There is even a blog devoted to disasters that may have impacted the lives of our ancestors, Stu Beitler's GenDisasters.

View the complete list at the link above for more information and links to each blog. To find more general and specialty blogs, visit The Genealogy Blog Finder or Cyndi's List.

Additionally, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have enabled many family historians to locate relatives. I was dragged - kicking and screaming - into Facebook by a genealogy blogger colleague - he did a great job and nearly all of us are now on Facebook.
Continue reading "Cyberspace: Finding family" »

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