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(+) Make Telephone Calls Back Home from Other Countries at Little or No Cost

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

Anyone who has traveled overseas can tell you that placing telephone calls back home can be very expensive when calling from a hotel room or from a cell phone used in a foreign country or with almost any other method. However, there are numerous low-cost or even free alternatives for anyone who carries a smartphone or a tablet computer or a laptop computer.

I am writing this article in a hotel room in Jerusalem, Israel. Earlier today, I made several calls back to the United States. The audio quality was very good to excellent, despite the fact the hotel’s wi-fi system is rather slow. On one call, I talked for more than 45 minutes. The total cost to me? $6.95 a month for a service I use that allows 500 minutes of calls to anywhere in the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, regardless of where I am located. (I have never used anywhere near 500 minutes in one month.) It also allows for calls to any other country in the world at very low per-minute rates.

FEEFHS Conference offers Full German Research Track

The following announcement was written by the Foundation for Eastern European Family History Studies:

For the first year FEEFHS is offering a full track focused on German genealogical research throughout the conference program. Starting with the basics of German family history research — language and handwriting, records, maps, and tools — and progressing to more advanced topics and specialty records such as guilds and family record books, individuals will be able to attend classes specific to German family history research throughout the 3-day conference. These classes will be taught by locally and nationally recognized instructors, Milan Pohontsch, Baerbel Johnson, and two instructors new to FEEFHS, FHL consultants Fritz Juengling and Kelsee Jackson.

Findmypast Adds New Crime, Prisons and Punishment Records

The following announcement was written by the people at Findmypast:

To celebrate the release of over 1.9 million new additions to our England and Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment records, this week’s Findmypast Friday highlights some of the fascinating record sets that are now available to search within the collection.

England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935, contains the details of felons who passed through the criminal justice system in England and Wales between 1770 and 1935. The records reveal the exact nature of the crimes they committed, where and when they were tried and the sentence they received. Records can also include physical descriptions, petitions for clemency, reports on behaviour, health and education and photographic mug shots. The details of victims and government officials working within the penal system can also found within the collection.

Why Was the Information Removed from Online?

A newsletter reader sent an email to me today expressing dissatisfaction that a set of images of vital records has been removed from a popular genealogy site. Indeed, removal of any online records of genealogical value is sad, but not unusual. Changes such as these are quite common on FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, Fold3, FindMyPast, and many other genealogy sites that provide old records online. Removal of datasets has occurred dozens of times in the past, and I suspect such things will continue to happen in the future. I thought I would write a brief explanation.

Preserve the Pensions July Initiative to Share a Document a Day

Here is a great idea from the several groups that are working to preserve, digitize, and make available online the War of 1812 pensions. I would hope every genealogist would help support this effort.

Welcome to July, 2015!

There is always so much to celebrate during the month of July. We spend time at family gatherings, picnics, and honoring our nation’s heritage. During the coming month, we are excited to celebrate our progress in the effort to digitally preserve the pension files from the War of 1812.

We have found some amazing material within the collection so far, and what better way to share it with our friends than in our Facebook group? We now have just over 1,000 people engaged in conversation, asking interesting questions, and assisting each other in their War of 1812 related research. Whether you are a genealogist, historian, or educator, we would invite you to be a part of that community.

FamilySearch International Appoints Steve Rockwood as President and CEO to Replace Dennis Brimhall Who Will Retire

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

The FamilySearch International board of directors has elected Stephen T. Rockwood as the company’s president and chief executive officer, succeeding Dennis Brimhall, who will retire. Rockwood, who most recently served as director of the international division at FamilySearch, becomes president and CEO on October 1.

“Steve is an extremely capable, experienced, and respected leader with an immense passion for our mission and our people,” said Elder Allan F. Packer, Chairman of the Board. “As president and CEO, Steve will bring a rich combination of management skills, customer focus, business acumen, and a can-do spirit that will build on the vision and work of Dennis Brimhall.”

Ancestry.com is Giving Free Access to 13 Colonies Records for July 4th

Ancestry.com is offering free access to many records concerning the original 13 US colonies as part of it’s 13 Colonies Collection at http://www.ancestry.com/cs/julyfourth2015.

Access to the records in the featured collections will be free until July 5, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

140,000 Original Kansas Landowners Added to HistoryGeo

I wrote about HistoryGeo a few days ago at http://blog.eogn.com/2015/06/16/historygeo-com-adds-landowner-data. Now the company has added even more records. The following announcement is from HistoryGeo.com:

We just added an additional 140 thousand original Kansas landowners to the map in our First Landowners Project. That brings us to just under half a million Kansans in this single map of original U.S. landowners.

Fold3 Offers Free Access to the Revolutionary War Collection until July 15th

The following announcement was written by the folks at Fold3:

As we celebrate America’s independence this month, learn more about the people who made it possible by exploring Fold3’s Revolutionary War Collection for free July 1st to 15th.
Popular titles for finding Revolutionary War ancestors include:

History Colorado Collections Online

History Colorado recently launched a database of selected items in its collection, including artifacts, photographs, and archival materials. The site primarily contains a variety of archives, artifacts, and photographs, all documenting the people and places of Colorado. I didn’t see any genealogy records other than one handwritten note. However, the site’s 80,000 items does contain a wealth of information about the area where your Colorado ancestors lived. This database is an excellent resource for researchers to find primary sources on Colorado’s history.

You can access History Colorado at http://goo.gl/mg8PYx.

Hands on with Ancestry Academy

The following article was written by Pam Cerutti.

NOTE: Pam Cerutti is the editor of this newsletter, but her professional background suits this review well. After teaching high school English, she went on to a career in computer education, where she developed many courses on software applications. In particular, she spent much of her time creating self-paced instruction and managing online learning. In all, she has over 30 years of assessing educational best practices and a pretty good understanding of how people learn.

Ancestry.com launched a new offering called Ancestry Academy in April, and I finally had a chance to try out some of its courses this week. I have a career in computer education, and my interest in e-learning goes back to the infancy of the internet. Having followed the development of online courses ever since, I thought other EOGN readers might be interested in this review.

To access Ancestry Academy, you need either a free login or a subscription. A free login will get you access to some of the courses, but you will be able to see all the titles available. Subscription detail appears at the end of this article.

On the Road Again, This Time to Israel

By the time you read these words, I should be in the air, en route to Jerusalem. I will be a tourist for a few days while I get used to the time zone changes. Starting on July 6, I will attend the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies’ International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, held this year in Jerusalem.

I hope to post articles in this newsletter about the things I see and hear at the conference. You can read more about the conference at http://iajgs2015.org.

This should be an intense conference. First of all, it is five days long, July 6 through 10. Next, I have attended a couple of earlier IAJGS conferences held in the U.S. and I know they are always packed full of presentations, seminars, and meetings for the entire time. I expect this year’s event to be the same.

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

Google Power Tools: How to Calculate Currency Exchange Rates for Foreign Currencies

Do you need to order photocopies of documents from “the old country” and need to find out how much it will cost in your country’s currency? Perhaps you want to purchase software or subscribe to the Plus Edition of a certain online genealogy newsletter (hint hint) but need to know the amount it will cost in your country’s funds. Luckily, there are many online tools available to convert the amount from the other country’s currency to the currency of your country. I always use Google.

Google seems to be the online equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife for computer owners. It provides all sorts of tools in one easy-to-use package. For this discussion, there are at least two different ways to use Google to calculate currency exchange rates.

Version 6 of Charting Companion adds Fractal Trees and a Dandelion Chart

Progeny Genealogy is well-known for software that produces some of the most advanced and visually pleasing genealogy charts. The company’s Charting Companion allows anyone to produce charts for personal use or to share your research with friends & relatives. Now the company has released Version 6 with two great new charts.

Quoting from the Progeny Genealogy web site at http://progenygenealogy.com:

The Fractal Tree

The Fractal Tree is an entirely new way to display your Ancestors. The Fractal Tree is more compact than other charts. A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. A fractal is a self-similar geometric shape; each part of the shape is the same as the whole.

Online Course in Heraldry from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The following announcement was written by the folks at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland:

From October 2015, the University of Strathclyde will be offering an 8-week on line course entitled “INTRODUCTION TO HERALDRY”. It will run twice in each academic year, or more depending on demand.

First classes – from Monday 5 October 2015 & Monday 18 April 2016 – Cost – £153 (ILA eligible). See http://www.strath.ac.uk/courses/yourfamilyhistory/#d.en.975313

This class is “welcomed and encouraged” by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland, Canon Dr Joe Morrow.

The tutor for the class is Dr Bruce Durie.

Preserve Your Data for Millions of Years in a Sapphire Disk

Many of us are disappointed in the limited life spans of today’s media. Paper and film fade with time. Floppy disks, CD-ROM and DVD-ROM disks, flash drives, and other media also all have limited lifespans. Even microfilm is expected to last only about 300 years and that is only when stored in rigidly controlled temperatures and humidity and then ONLY if it is never used! (Microfilm scratches and wears quickly when used.)

Now a new storage media has been created that should last long enough for most of our needs: a million years or more. Even better, reading data from the disk can be read by the human eye when using a powerful magnifying glass or a microscope. I suspect those items will still be available in a few million years. The information is recorded at 1/30,000th of the original size and is preserved for all time. Water, acid, age, scratches or fire will not deteriorate the information.

NEHGS Announces July 4th FREE Access Event

The following announcement was written by the folks at the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

NEHGS Salutes the Nation’s Anniversary with FREE Access to the Great Migration Databases on AmericanAncestors.org

Family Historians May Commemorate Independence Day by Searching FREE on AmericanAncestors.org for America’s Earliest Settlers, July 1 through July 8

Click on the above image to view a larger version

June 29, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—In a salute to the anniversary of our nation’s independence, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is granting FREE access to all online searchable databases related to the Great Migration. A unique foundation of governance and religion was created by the 20,000 men, women, and children who crossed the Atlantic between 1620 and 1640, seeking opportunity and relief in New England, in the period known as the Great Migration. These are the Mayflower names, the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the families that delight and provide rich insights for genealogists and family historians. Since 1988 NEHGS has undertaken the Great Migration Study Project, directed by Robert Charles Anderson and scheduled for completion in 2016. The results are open to the public to research FREE during the first week of July 2015 on its data-rich website AmericanAncestors.org.

A total of nine searchable databases comprise the Great Migration project on AmericanAncestors.org, consisting of thousands of records. Some content highlights include:

Digital Public Library of America Receives $3.4 Million Investment, Plans a Major Expansion

The Digital Public Library of America (DLPA) brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. DPLA provides public access to more than 10 million items – including the written word plus works of art and culture – from 1,600 institutions.

NOTE: You can read my earlier article about the Digital Public Library of America at http://blog.eogn.com/2015/02/27/the-digital-public-library-of-america.

Ireland Reaching Out Creates “Reverse Genealogy”

Ireland Reaching Out, also called Ireland XO, is a non-profit organisation financed largely by the Irish government. The organization tracks down the descendants of those who left for America, Australia and other countries. Instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to trace their roots, Ireland XO volunteers worldwide are networking with people of Irish descent in their local areas, helping to build bridges between the present and the past by connecting people with the home parishes of their ancestors. Volunteers then invite the descendants to visit the homeland. Ireland Reaching Out hopes to build a database of the Irish diaspora containing 30 or 40 million names.

The Ireland Reaching Out web site states:

“Whether you have emigrated recently or have never been to Ireland, we welcome Irish people from all over the world and those who share an affinity for our rich and varied cultural heritage. We are a community with no geographical boundaries, connected first through bonds of people and place, and then developed through our shared celebration of culture and friendship, both online and offline.

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