28    Jun 20110 comments

Jamboree 2011: Education, technology and fun

The Southern California Genealogical Society’s annual Jamboree is one of the best-run large regional events in the United States.  MyHeritage chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz and myself again attended and presented at this year's conference, held June 10-12, 2011, in Burbank, California.

Conference co-chairs Paula Hinkle and Leo Myers, in addition to their large team of volunteers, always make this an excellent experience.

Some highlights:

Some 70 genealogy bloggers – a record number at any gen conference - blogged, tweeted and Facebooked throughout the event, as well as participating in social events, including an ice cream party and a piñata smashing, among others.

There are many good sports among this friendly group whose conference get-togethers are like a family reunion. A blogger media island enabled the bloggers to continuously tweet and Facebook over the three-day event.

More seriously, there were outstanding sessions to attend, ranging from breakfasts to evening dinners and everything in between. Among those attended by Daniel and myself were:

  • A free Kids' Camp attended by many young people, including Boy and Girl Scouts.
  • World table discussion, where Daniel and I headed the Jewish table at two sessions, answered questions and directed visitors to many resources for their individual quests.
  • An informative breakfast presentation on using social media for societies by Thomas MacEntee, and
  • A full-day family history writers conference.

Read on for more details.

Continue reading "Jamboree 2011: Education, technology and fun" »

30    May 20110 comments

Links We Like: Edition 3

This third edition of Links We Like has information on a movie database, a new historic music and speech archive, and a mobile app for grave photos and transcriptions.

Searching these resources for your unique names and places of interest may provide new clues or data and push your research forward.

Check out these new resources and let us know what you've found via comments below to this post.

Continue reading "Links We Like: Edition 3" »

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" »

20    Feb 20110 comments

RootsTech 2011: Fabulous first

This was the first year for RootsTech, a new technology and genealogy conference sponsored by FamilySearch.org, attended by some 3,000 people.

The Salt Lake City, Utah-event was described by some as "a candy store" for genealogists, genealogy bloggers and technology creators, developers and suppliers.

As it brought together technology people and consumers of family history products, it also provided opportunities for genealogy bloggers to  meet face-to-face with the movers and shakers.

Each day featured excellent presentations on many topics by well-known speakers. To see the speaker line-up, click here.

With so many exciting talks by industry leaders and speakers, it was hard to plan our days. MyHeritage Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz and I staffed the MyHeritage booth and were also scheduled speakers.

Continue reading "RootsTech 2011: Fabulous first" »

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" »

24    Aug 20106 comments

New Mexico: Digitizing historic newspapers

Where can you read about your ancestors' births, marriages and deaths?

If you are lucky, these lifecycle events will be documented in the newspapers where your family lived. The pages also allow us to glimpse how people lived, what they bought, what they ate, their social activities and more through advertisements and local event coverage.

If your family lived in New Mexico, you may find information dating back to 1860, as the University of New Mexico Libraries has just received a major grant to digitize the state's old newspapers (1860-1922).

Continue reading "New Mexico: Digitizing historic newspapers" »

13    May 20100 comments

Do you have the time?

MyHeritage has the time - a TimeLine and a TimeBook.

Not sure what these are? Read on for quick descriptions and video links to provide more information. I'm focusing on TimeLine in this post.

Timeline is an interactive feature demonstrating the relationship of history's main events to your family's important dates.

This is an important feature because each person's unique family history has always been impacted by worldwide historical events that caused very local effects.

One example might be an early 19th-century cholera epidemic, quite common at the time around the world and frequently fatal for young children and the elderly. Such epidemics may be responsible for many deaths noticed in historical vital records.

And, while regional and world wars covered a wide swath of territory, local events may have "encouraged" your ancestors to move somewhere less chaotic and more safe.

To truly understand the lives of our ancestors, we need to learn about historical events that may have effected them.

When I began my quest, I noticed that my great-grandmother's brother, Chatzkel Bank, had arrived in New York City in January 1913 and began working to bring over his wife, son and infant daughter. Continue reading "Do you have the time?" »

4    May 20104 comments

Maps: Learning about your community

What do breweries and a local Chinatown have to do with family history?

Students in a free genealogy class at a Sacramento, California library used historic fire insurance maps to walk through their community's 19th-century history without leaving the classroom, according to this story in the Sacramento Bee.

Instructor Melinda Kashuba said these maps are "obscure resource that can let a person's mind wander down the streets of their forebears," and that researchers can learn a lot about the lives of their ancestors.

Here's an example, above left; for the larger image, see below.

These maps indicate schools, churches, businesses and more. All provide additional leads for researchers, according to Kashuba.

An 1898 map of North Bloomfield shows that the area between Main Street and a nearby creek was where Chinese workers lived.

A map of Truckee from the late 19th century said the area between a hillside and West Main Street was lined with "female boarding houses," or brothels, Kashuba said.

Mapmakers had noted that a brewery in Mokelumne Hill was lit by candles and had no night watchman, making it a poor insurance risk, she said.

What makes me even happier - in addition to teaching beginners how to use these maps - is that the class was part of the library's free genealogy program. Future classes will focus on finding New England ancestors and researching church records

The fire insurance maps - a main publisher was the Sanborn Map Co. (Pelham, New York) - were printed 1860-1940, and provided insurance companies data to determine fire risks of  buildings and neighborhoods, without having to send an underwriter on a personal visit. The maps were the equivalent of today's Google views.
Continue reading "Maps: Learning about your community" »

27    Apr 20106 comments

For fun: How the Internet sees you!

Family history researchers can become rather single-minded about their quest for ancestral data.

It is always good to kick back and read something funny, such as Chris Dunham's The Genealogue, or try something else that might add a different perspective to our searches.

I've mentioned Chris' site as his unusual and humorous approach to genealogy is always welcome, and he also offers lists of categorized genealogy blogs for your enjoyment. However, here's a new site to try for a different reason. Personas is an interesting "installation."

Created by Aaron Zinman (who holds an MIT| PhD in Media Arts and Sciences) as an art installation - a component of Metropath(ologies), an interactive exhibit by the Sociable Media Group, MIT Media Lab - it was on display at the MIT Museum. In its first month, it was accessed by more than 1.5 million users.

According to the site, it creates "a data portrait of one's aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you." It purports to provide a visual graph of an individual's persona based on an Internet search, and you can see what it is finding as it searches the Web.

Enter the name of a person and watch the graph visualization take place as you read the text under the graph.

In addition to names of people, you can plug in the name of a genealogy blog, for example, and receive a "characterization" of it after an Internet search. Here are some of the blogs searched on Personas:

Click to view photo in full size

Click to view photo in full size

Continue reading "For fun: How the Internet sees you!" »

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" »

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