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Who Do You Think You Are? Features Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Tonight’s episode of the U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are? featured Jesse Tyler Ferguson, an American actor known for portraying Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC sitcom, Modern Family. He has earned 5 nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. However, he knew little about his family history. In the first part of the program, Jesse states that he wanted to fill out his “family stump” to convert it into a family tree. He started by interviewing his own father in his home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The program’s professional genealogists undoubtedly traced all of Jesse’s ancestors they could find earlier; but featuring all of them on one program would have resulted in a show that was many, many hours too long. Instead, the producers selected the most interesting person they could find in the family tree and focused on him.

Jesse’s great-grandfather was Jesse Wheat Uppercu. Jesse Tyler Ferguson always knew that he was named after his grandmother, but he did not know that she had been named after her father, the younger Jesse’s great-grandfather. The older Jesse had a long and illustrious career but not all of it was upstanding.

The Future of Second Site, a Program for Publishing Genealogy Data

Yesterday’s announcement that Wholly Genes Software would discontinue development and support of The Master Genealogist (TMG) has created all sorts of questions. Some of the questions concern the future of Second Site, a popular program used to publish genealogy data on the World Wide Web. Until now, Second Site has been a program that extracts data from TMG and then builds gorgeous-looking personal web sites that show a person’s or family’s family tree. Now that TMG is going to slowly go away, what should users of Second Site plan on using for their web publishing efforts?

John Cardinal, the software developer of Second Site, answered that question today with a brief statement. Essentially, he said that Second Site would continue as a viable product; he will keep the present capability to import data from TMG but will also add the capability of importing data from a GEDCOM file. You can read his statement in the comments section following the TMG announcement at http://blog.eogn.com/2014/07/29/the-master-genealogist-to-be-discontinued.

I see this as great news.

Historians Work to Preserve New England Church Records Of Early American Life

Now, in a regionwide scavenger hunt, James Fenimore Cooper Jr. and Margaret Bendroth are rummaging through New England church basements and attics, file cabinets, safes and even coat closets, searching for records of early American life. The historians are racing against frequent church closings, occasional fires, and a more mundane but not uncommon peril: the actual loss of documents, which most often occurs when a church elder dies and no one can remember the whereabouts of historical papers. The records, especially those that are not bound into books, are often in poor shape.

The Master Genealogist to be Discontinued

Sad news! The following announcement was made today by Bob Velke, the owner of Wholly Genes, Inc.:

I am sad to report that the decision has been made to discontinue The Master Genealogist (“TMG”).

While thousands of TMG users appreciate the program’s many powerful features that are unmatched in other software, the market for those advanced features has proved to be insufficient to support the infrastructure that is necessary to support it and continue development. A variety of my own health issues have also contributed to this decision as I have fewer opportunities to focus on the things that would be necessary to develop and market the program.

There is every reason to believe that TMG will continue to work for existing users for the foreseeable future but official support will end at the end of 2014, although we may release some more bug fixes (but no new features) before that. In the interest of those who may want to communicate their data to family members or upgrade to the latest release, we will continue to sell the full product and updates through September with the understanding that product development has been discontinued.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson Retraces the Alaskan Trail on “Who Do You Think You Are?”

On Wednesday’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA), Jesse Tyler Ferguson will look for information on his ancestors. Jesse is known for portraying Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC sitcom Modern Family, a role that has garnered him 5 Emmy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

Jesse ends up following the path of his great-grandfather took on the Alaskan trail in 1898. It appears that the expedition was part by boat and part by pack horse. It was at that time when many people were headed to Alaska because of the discovery of gold. Temperatures in Alaska can and did change quickly dooming many expeditions of people who were no prepared for the trip.

WDYTYA airs at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central.

You can watch a video about this week’s episode at http://goo.gl/e7QJyB or in the video player below:

Online Webinars in Spanish with Daniel Horowitz

On Saturday, August 2, beginning at 1 pm Mountain Daylight Time, the Family History Library will hold two online webinars in Spanish with Daniel Horowitz, the Chief Genealogist of MyHeritage. The first class which begins at 1 will be Saque el máximo provecho de MyHeritage (Getting the Most out of MyHeritage) followed at 3 pm by ¿Cómo involucrar a los niños en la investigación familiar? (How to Get Kids Involved in Family History).

In the 1 pm class Saque el máximo provecho de MyHeritage or “Getting the Most out of MyHeritage” you will learn how to build a family tree on MyHeritage.com. He will also talk about how to enter details, upload images, use facial recognition technology to tag people, and how to invite and share information with family members. MyHeritage has functions that will benefit your research including SmartMatching and RecordMatching. Join us online or in the Family History Library and learn how to use these two powerful tools to help you discover your family information and collaborate with others around the world.

Uploading Your Content To Wikimedia Commons Just Got Easier

Does your genealogy society, historical society, or local museum want to share their holdings with the public? Wikimedia Commons has been available for some time for that purpose. Best of all, Wikimedia Commons is a free service for all: free to the organization that uploads information and free to anyone who visits. However, uploading holdings to Wikimedia Commons has been a somewhat complex task in the past, requiring a significant amount of technical expertise. That has now changed. Minimal technical expertise is now required, thanks to some new software tools available.

Territorial Court Records to Remain in Alaska

In March, the National Archives and Records Administration announced the closure of its Anchorage facility. The research room was planned to close in June and the rest of facility will close permanently in September. The original plan said that all records held in the Anchorage facility were set to be transferred to Seattle — which had many Alaskans upset. A compromise has now been reached between the National Archives and Alaska State Archive: 92 percent of the Territorial Court Record Holdings will instead be moved to the Alaska State Archives.

Remove Text Formatting When Copying-and-Pasting

Have you ever copied some text from a web page or a document and then wanted to paste it as simple text into another application without getting all the formatting from the original source? It can be a problem. Simple copying-and-pasting of formatted text often inserts extra “garbage characters” into the output. In fact, there is a simple solution. Simple, that is, if you know about it.

The problem arises when copying and pasting formatted text from one application to another. It doesn’t always work as you’d expect. For instance, you might copy a few lines from a web page and then want to paste it to Facebook. Surprise! All sorts of “unwanted characters” may appear. The same might happen if you are copying text from a word processing document or from a PDF file and you wish to paste it into an email message.

The unwanted characters typically are formatting commands built into the originating program. The problem is that not all programs use the same formatting commands. For example, what might be a command to “use bold text” in one program could insert curly braces {} into the receiving program.

WikiChicks Genealogy News Network Officially Launches

The following is an announcement from “the WikiChicks,” Eowyn Langholf, Tami Osmer Glatz and Gena Philibert-Ortega:

The WikiChicks Genealogy News Network (WikiChicks GNN), an engaging genealogical news service, has officially launched. “WikiChicks GNN is a new way for genealogists to stay informed of current industry news and relevant stories. By using social media tools we can provide information in a way that allows folks the ability to both read and share it easily with others” said Tami Osmer Glatz, co-founder of the group. “What I like about this concept is that it is a great example of how genealogists can come together, collaborate and make great things happen!” said Eowyn Langholf, co-founder. WikiChicks is different from existing community news services in that it is accessible through many platforms, and news is shared throughout the day, with evening digests of the day’s events created as a single blog posting.

WikiChicks’ goal is to share information of interest to genealogists daily via popular social media sources, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flipboard, and Storify.

Are These YOUR Ancestors? Faces of Medieval Scots Digitally Reconstructed.

The skeletons of almost 400 men, women and children from between the 15th and the 18th century, whose remains were unearthed in a cemetery five years ago, have been brought back to life thanks to digital faces created by forensic artists. By examining the remains, experts from the University of Dundee have revealed how the individuals lived and died, as well as what some of them would have looked like.

Scientists used forensic modelling to work out the shape of facial muscles and tissues, before using a computer programme to rebuild three of the people’s faces, which look strikingly modern.

Plus Edition Newsletter Has Been Sent

To all Plus Edition subscribers:

The EOGN Plus Edition newsletter was sent to you a few hours ago. If your email provider blocked it, don’t forget that the latest Plus Edition newsletter is ALWAYS available at: http://www.eogn.com/wp/thisweek.htm. Your email provider cannot block that address so the newsletter is always available to you.

Here are the articles in this week’s Plus Edition newsletter:

(+) Scanning Old Books

(+) OCR Explained

(+) Follow-Up: OCR Explained

Are You Missing Most of the Available Genealogy Information?

Adding Listings to the Calendar of Genealogy Events

Book Review: The Jewish Presence in Early British Records 1650-1850

Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

One-Click Publishing of an eBook Directly from Google Drive

Who Do You Think You Are? with Cynthia Nixon

(+) Scanning Old Books

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Genealogists love old books. Many of us would love to scan some of these books for our own use or to make them available to others when copyright laws allow. Scanned books can easily be distributed on CD-ROM disks or via online web sites. The only difficult part is the scanning of the original books.

Almost any scanner can be used to make images of old books. However, using a desktop scanner purchased at the local computer store has significant disadvantages. For one thing, these units are designed for scanning photographs and other individual sheets of paper. They do not work well for bound books. Trying to place a bound book onto the glass plate of a typical inexpensive scanner can damage the book’s binding. In addition, words printed near the center binding will not be flat against the glass, causing “curling.” That is, the images of the words seem to curve away from the reader. If OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software is used, the words near the center binding are difficult to decode and will lead to high error rates.

Here are some pictures illustrating the problem of obtaining good scanned images of pages bound in a book:


A scanner made for scanning bound books easily avoids these problems.

Are You Missing Most of the Available Genealogy Information?

I recently received a message from a newsletter reader that disturbed me a bit. He wrote, “I have been doing genealogy research for 10-15 years but only through the Internet.” He then went on to describe some of the frustrations he has encountered trying to find information. In short, he was disappointed at how little information he has found online.

I read the entire message, but my eyes kept jumping back to the words in his first sentence: “… but only through the Internet.”

Doesn’t he realize that 95% of the information of interest to genealogists is not yet available on the Internet?

(+) Follow-Up: OCR Explained

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Two days ago, I published a Plus Edition article entitled (+) OCR Explained at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=31639. In the article, I described several products that will convert images of text into machine-readable text documents, auch as .DOC files or .TXT files or something similar. Two of the methods I mentioned are available free of charge and do not require installing software in your computer.

While I mentioned the products, I did not provide step-by-step instructions for any of them. One of the products apparently has interested a number of newsletter readers and several have asked, “How do I do that?” Actually, I won’t write the instructions as someone else has already written an excellent step-by-step guide that is now available online.

The World’s First Mobile Phone?

According to an article in The Daily Mail, Philadelphia experimenter W W McFarlane invented a mobile telephone in 1920 that required three pieces of stove pipe stuck to a board as an aerial. It reportedly worked over a range of up to 500 yards.

I find it interesting that the person talking on the “telephone” in the above picture was not driving. I wish people today would not drive and talk on the phone simultaneously.

“Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” Returns to PBS for a Second Season

The PBS Series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will return Tuesday, September 23 for its second season. The 10-part series explores the heritages and ancestries of 30 of today’s leading entertainers, athletes, chefs, and media personalities, including Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Khandi Alexander, Tom Colicchio, Tina Fey, Sally Field, Derek Jeter, Stephen King, Nas, Anna Deavere Smith, Sting, and Courtney Vance

According to an announcement issued by the television program’s producers:

“The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from was at the core of the first season of the PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In the second, 10-part season, Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, continues his journey into the past to illuminate the familial histories of 30 of today’s most recognizable names in sports, music, film, television, theatre, and literature. Filmed on location around the world, season two of Finding Your Roots, premieres nationally Tuesdays, September 23rd – November 25th at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CST) on PBS (check local listings).”

(+) OCR Explained

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Do you have a document or even a full-length book that you would like to enter into a computer’s database or word processor? You could re-type the entire thing. If your typing ability is as bad as mine, that will be a very lengthy task. Of course, you could hire a professional typist to do the same, but that is also expensive.

We all have computers, so why not use a high-quality scanner? You will also need optical character recognition (OCR) technology.

One-Click Publishing of an eBook Directly from Google Drive

Genealogists, engineers, teachers, and thousands of others have an interest in publishing books. Traditional publishing methods have made it difficult to publish your own book, but modern technology is changing the process dramatically. Publishing a book is becoming easier and easier almost daily. A new service called Liberio provides simple ebook creation and publishing straight from Google Drive. Best of all, Liberio is available free of charge.

Publishing your own books is now only a push of a button away. The ebook you produce can be read on almost any computer, tablet, Kindle, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets, or any similar device used as an ebook reader.

Google’s New Baseline Study Wants to Map Your DNA

Google has begun a new project aiming to define what constitutes a healthy human being. The project, called Baseline Study, will collect “anonymous genetic and molecular information,” initially from 175 people but eventually thousands of others. The hope is that the Baseline Study will help researchers detect killers such as heart disease and cancer far earlier, pushing medicine more toward prevention rather than the treatment of illness. Google will use its computing power to analyze the info and find patterns, called biomarkers. The hope is that these biomarkers can be used to detect any disease a lot earlier.

This is a hugely ambitious project which could lead to better preventative measures enabling us all to live longer.

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