Sunday, January 29, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 5

Week 5 – Life Experiences: Sometimes the challenges in life provide the best learning experiences. Can you find an example of this in your own family tree? Which brick wall ancestor are you most thankful for, and how did that person shape your family history experience?

One of my brick wall ancestors - Elias B. Hays - is found in the Tippah County, Mississippi, census in 1850.  His mother was likely the widowed Delitha Hays in the same place.  They both moved to Arkansas within two years of that census.  When I first started my quest to find his father's name, I found a second cousin online.  The resulting collaboration and friendship led me to go back home and take my mother to a family Reunion - at that time she was one of the oldest living family members.  Mom and I were both able to connect to family members we had never met.  Mom is gone now and I will not likely be back to that place, so I am very thankful for that opportunity.  During the years since that occasion, I have found other cousins of this family - we've never been able to knock down that Wall in the past, but we've opened many doors to information about the family that would not have been possible without sharing.  This Hays family did not leave many tracks but comparison of our family stories has been important in learning all we could - not everything can be found in the record books.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 4

Free Offline Genealogy Tools
For which free offline genealogy tool are you most grateful? How did you find this tool and how has it benefitted your genealogy? Describe to others how to access this tool and spread the genealogy love.

My favorite offline tool is my genealogy program, RootsMagic which has a free version, but I think that may not count here!

A small free tool that I have found extremely useful is Transcript. When you are attempting transcription or an abstract from a digital document, Transcript calls up dual windows with the image across the top and a basic word processor at the bottom - both windows are adjustable to your preferred size. You can zoom in on the image and control the brightness and other qualities to clarify the image. There are shortcut keys for scrolling back and forth if the whole image isn't visible as enlarged for easy reading, so that you don't have to stop typing and use the mouse.  And there are arrow keys to go back and forth to other images in a folder without having to open a new image - great if you are working on an entire pension file. It saves your transcript as a rich text file.

I have found it very useful particularly for hard-to-read images. The program also will communicate directly with your scanner, although I have never used it in that way, only for images already downloaded to my hard drive. Disadvantages: Although Transcript will open several types of common image files to include jpg, bmp, tif, some [but not all] PaintShop and PhotoShopfiles, it cannot open pdf files. It is also exclusively a Windows program.

I first heard about Transcript from Lisa Louise Cook's Genealogy Gems podcast, sometime ago, and have been a user of the tool since then.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 3

Week 3 – Free Online Genealogy Tools: Free online genealogy tools are like gifts from above. Which one are you most thankful for? How has it helped your family history experience?

It isn't just a genealogy tool - but what would I do without Google - Google Search, Google Books, Google Alerts, Google Reader, Blogspot, etc.  I have found so much data that I would never have found without Google, I have found so many recommendations and learned so much about furthering my research process.  My own iGoogle page is my dashboard for my own personal organization as well as providing easy links to many of my favorite genealogy places.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 2

Paid Genealogy Tools: Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? What special features put it at the top of your list? How can it help others with their genealogy research?

I will have to say that although it is a love-hate relationship, Ancestry is the most valuable paid site in my opinion.  Yes, more and more records can be found without paying but so many can be accessed via Ancestry.  The features I use the most are the censuses and the books, with newspapers not far behind.  Some of these cannot be found elsewhere.  And, although there is much wrong with so many of the family trees - I have found extremely useful information that enabled me to go forward with my own research.  I believe the variety of options for research may be the most valuable asset.  I think it would be difficult for anyone to NOT find something helpful somewhere on it's a bit like shopping at WalMart.   On the other hand ....I really, really prefer Old Search and sometimes wish I could make the Shaking Leaf understand that it's found the wrong person!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 1

Week 1 – Blogs: Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?

Sorry, I can't pick just one....  And I have to admit that I read blogs for the genealogy news and discussions - I haven't really found new cousins or a blog that was helpful with any specific family.  I have found new ideas about the research process.

I have to say that Geneabloggers has been the most helpful to me - it is one of the earliest I read and helped me to get started in blogging.  Thomas MacEntee keeps us all right on top of everything - new blogs, the best blogs of the week, ideas for blog posts, the Blogiversarys.   I really can't image the genealogy blogging world without it.

Dick Eastman's EOGN - which is really a newsletter but written as a blog is so valuable to me because of his helpful techie information.  He's always there to describe the latest gadgets and really cool utility programs that I would never find on my own.

And just because I always like what she has to say ...about anything!  I love her sense of humor -  Amy Coffin of We Tree.  I hope to meet Amy at RootsTech this year - we might be kindred souls.