Norfolk Chapter of the Ontario Genealogical Society may Disband

The Norfolk chapter of the Ontario Genealogical Society will hold a critical meeting in Delhi Sept. 16 to discuss the future of the organization. A vote is planned on whether the chapter should fold or suspend operations.

Marie Shull of Simcoe, co-chair of the Norfolk chapter, says a number of factors have come together to call the group’s future into question. Membership, for one, has fallen from more than 200 world-wide several years ago to about 125 today. As well, only four individuals serve on the local executive. They have been there for years and discharge multiple responsibilities. Volunteer fatigue has become an issue.

(+) How to Preserve Water-Soaked Books and Papers in an Emergency

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

Hurricane season is upon us and we should learn from the experiences of past storms. The 2012 “superstorm” Sandy in the northeastern United States and other floods from around the world taught all of us again that paper is a very fragile storage medium for old records. However, paper is also the most common storage method in use today. The news reports from Sandy told of numerous libraries, public records offices, and more that had water in their offices. In some cases, the water reached records that should be saved for centuries. Many families also lost family documents, old photos, and even examples of their children’s art work. Unfortunately, water-soaked paper documents will only last for a few days unless treated immediately.

For the best-known loss of records by water damage, ask the U.S. Census Bureau about water-soaked documents. Most U.S. genealogists have been told that the 1890 census records was “destroyed by fire” in 1921. In fact, the fire damaged only a small percentage of the records. Far more damage was caused by the firehoses of the fire department called in to battle the blaze. Most of the damage was caused by water being poured onto the fire, water that soon seeped into millions of otherwise undamaged records. The fire did not go above the basement but water poured into the upper floors drained into the basement, extinguishing the fire. Unfortunately, in the process of water draining through the upper floors, a high percentage of the otherwise undamaged documents became soaked with water.

Your Cell Phone is Tracking You

NOTE: The following article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, it concerns me and I think everyone should be aware of these invasions of privacy.

You probably have a tracking device in your pocket. You are helping government spies, hackers, burglars, and cell phone companies track your every move. Every time you place your cell phone in your pocket or purse, you are on the radar and your movements, position, orientation, and conversations are all open to someone. In fact, that happens whether you place a call or not.

The “smart phones,” such as an Android or Apple phone, provide the most information about your movements and activities, but even the so-called dumb phones are almost as bad. All cell phones track your location. The “smart phones” simply provide additional accuracy as to your location. Instead of tracking you plus or minus a mile or so, a smart phone or even a dumb phone that has a built-in GPS will identify your location within a very few feet at all times.

Want proof? Look above and to the right to see a map available on Google that tracks my recent travels with an Android phone in my pocket. Click on the map to view a larger version. You can see where I traveled in considerable detail.

MyHeritage is Featured on a Prime Time Television News Program

MyHeritage, the sponsors of this newsletter, received some excellent publicity recently in a television segment on an Israeli prime time news show, watched by over 25% of Israel’s population. It featured an interview with MyHeritage Founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet, and showcased MyHeritage as a company that not only does well as a business, but also does good in the world.

The segment highlights some of MyHeritage’s pro bono work, including helping to discover heirs for unclaimed assets confiscated during World War II, returning looted art to its rightful owners and a global crowdsourcing project to digitally preserve the world’s cemeteries with BillionGraves.

Library of Congress Offers a New Collection of Depression Era Photographs

The Library of Congress has a great collection of photographs from the Great Depression that has recently been updated. The collection now contains more than 175,000 portraits of America between the years 1935 and 1945, taken by photographers of the government’s Farm Security Administration. The photographs also include all known data about the subject(s) in each photo, including the date and location of the photograph and also the name of the photographer.

Click on the images to view larger versions.

Thanks to a new project known as Photogrammar from Yale University, viewers will have a much easier time exploring the photographs. There’s a map that displays the images by county and another that shows where each picture was taken and by which photographer. There’s also an interactive that allows viewers to sort the photos by theme (e.g. “war” or “religion”) and then browse from there. Other tools are still in the works.

How to Make Gmail Always Place this Newsletter in the In-box, not in the Spam Folder

I like Gmail but there is one issue with Gmail that really annoys me. Gmail’s spam filters look at every new incoming email message and then make a decision whether to place the message in the In-box, in the Spam folder, or to block it entirely. Often, those spam filters place the EOGN newsletters in the Spam Folder.

Luckily, you can easily change Gmail’s defaults and tell the mail service to always place any message containing this newsletter into the In-box, never in the Spam Folder. To do so:

How to Fix a Poor Web Design

Warning: This article contains personal opinions.

A newsletter reader wrote today to tell me of a recent update to a very popular genealogy web site. In short, the web site reportedly has been converted from a very useful genealogy resource into something that is nearly unusable. I won’t mention the web site but will quote a few sentences from the message (with minor editing for readability reasons):

“The old account information won’t work, you need to establish a new account which means anything you had stored under an old account won’t work. They won’t let you put in a full first name on a basic search and the “narrow search” function is awful. The documents fly around the page so fast it is hard to zone in and read about person you are researching. To contact them with issues etc. is difficult. The contact page on the web site is limited to 200 characters, so you cannot send them much of an email message at all.”

I guess I have been in the computer business too long and have heard similar stories far too often. Yes, I suspect this complaint is valid, as are hundreds of other complaints I have heard over the years about other web sites, software applications, and more. My experience is that such problems usually get fixed although never with the speed that customers expect. Here is my response to the person who wrote me today:

Book Review: FamilySearch.org Research

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Click to view a larger image

FamilySearch.org Research by George G. Morgan. Published by Genealogical Publishing Co. 2014. 4 pages.

This is one of the latest “Genealogy At-A-Glance” condensed guides published as short, 4-page laminated 8×11 reference brochures. These are meant to be quick reference resources on major topics of research, and the authors are top-notch authorities in their respective fields.

George G. Morgan elaborates here on FamilySearch, which traces its own roots back to the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU), the microfilming arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose films we still read today. Digitization has overtaken the world of microfilm, and FamilySearch evolved out of GSU to oversee the monumental task of transferring from microform to digital media the collected filmed images, and to continue preserving records in digital form as the LDS locates new resources and repositories.

PBS’ “Genealogy Roadshow” will be Taping in New Orleans this Weekend (Sept. 6-7)

PBS’ “Genealogy Roadshow” will record episodes in New Orleans on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 6-7), and the public is invited to attend. The tapings, at which pre-selected locals will have their family mysteries explored by show genealogists Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco, are free.

The public can also explore their personal histories with historical and genealogical societies that will be on-site for the weekend. The tapings will be held :

Man Conceived with Donated Sperm Seeks Birth Certificate Change to Reflect the “Truth”

An Australian man conceived using anonymous donor sperm has applied to have his birth certificate changed to record his father’s name as unknown. His present birth certificate lists the man who raised him as the father, even though there is no biological connection between the two.

Damian Adams says he seeks the change because, “It’s not just for my kids but also my descendents, in that if anybody in the future was to conduct genealogy research on our family I don’t want them to go down the wrong path. If they have an inaccurate birth record they will basically believe a lie.”

You can read more in an article by Sarah Dingle in the abc.net.au web site at http://goo.gl/ymyf9o.

TellMeBye

You made out your will, correct? Once you depart this earth, your heirs will be informed of your wishes for disposition of the insurance money, the house, the family heirlooms, and the other various items you have accumulated in your life. However, what about your genealogy data? How about the collection of tweets or the posts on Facebook? How about your digital images and videos? How about your Bitcoins that are stored only in electronic format? Who should be able to look at your email messages? If you don’t take positive action NOW, all those electronic items can vaporize with no one to look after them.

TellMeBye is an online tool for everyone who would like to plan the inheritance of their entire digital legacy and, therefore, make it easier for others to receive their documents, messages, memories, or content. You can also disclose your final wishes and provide information to help your family members with formalities after your death, such as details of your insurance policies, a PDF copy of your will, what to do with your body, people to be told, final wishes, and much more.

(+) My Method of Filing Digital Images and Documents

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

This is an updated version of an article I published last year. Someone asked about the same topic today, and when I looked at the earlier article, I found that much of the information has since changed. I updated the article and decided to publish it again today.

Here is a copy of the message I received (slightly edited):

I’m a newcomer to genealogy and I’d like to know your suggested file naming convention for downloaded census images that pertain to more than one person. I’d like to settle on a format before my tree gets too big. I save the FamilySearch or Ancestry web page as a PDF for each person listed in the census record and a single image of the census. That way I have a “transcribed” reference for each person as well as the image. For example:
JOHNSON Daniel Joseph Family 1940 US Federal Census.jpg
JOHNSON Daniel Joseph (1940 US Federal Census).pdf
JOHNSON Ethel Blanche (1940 US Federal Census).pdf
JOHNSON Joseph Delone (1940 US Federal Census).pdf

Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

I did answer him in email but thought I would also share my answer here in case others might have the same questions.

MyHeritage and BillionGraves Honored for Global Crowdsourcing Project

MyHeritage and BillionGraves were awarded the Presidential Citation at the FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) conference this past weekend for their partnership in promoting the preservation of international burial locations.

Quoting from the MyHeritage Blog:

Gravestones are a great resource for family history investigation and a useful tool to learn more about your ancestors. They provide detailed information such as names, dates of birth and death and often describe personality. However, natural wear and tear means that these important family history sources need to be preserved before it’s too late. Together, MyHeritage and BillionGraves launched a global initiative to digitize cemeteries and gravestones to preserve these gravestones by making them accessible for free online to millions to aid in their family history research.

Announcing the 2015 CSI-Genealogy (Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy, CSIG)

The following announcement was written by the organizers of the Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy:

GALESBURG, ILLINOIS 3 September 2015:

From 28 May through 1 June 2015 the first Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy will be held at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Four tracks of study over 4.5 days are scheduled. Nationally-known genealogical-research experts will present the following tracks:

  • Refining Internet and Digital Skills for Genealogy (coordinator Cyndi Ingle of CyndisList)
  • Advanced Methodology and Analysis (coordinator Michael John Neill of Genealogy Tip of the Day), The Advancing Genealogist: Research Standards, Tools, and Records (coordinator Debbie Mieszala, CGSM),
  • Germanic Research Sources and Methods (coordinator Teresa McMillin, CGSM).

“Finding Your Roots” to Air on PBS Beginning September 23

In three weeks, the latest genealogy-related television series will be broadcast on most PBS stations. “Finding Your Roots” is a series that focuses on race, identity and heritage, hosted by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

In the first episode we meet horror novelist Stephen King, actor Courtney B. Vance and Canadian actress-singer Gloria Reuben.

King’s father walked out on his family when Stephen was two and never returned. Courtney Vance’s father committed suicide and Courtney was brought up in a foster home. Gloria Reuben’s father was 78 years old when she was born. When he died he took the secret of his ancestry with him, but not for good. Using genealogy and in some cases DNA, Gates helps each of them to discover family history they never knew. The program airs on PBS at 8 PM Eastern time. Check your local listings for the time and channel near you.

On This Day in History: Japan Surrenders on September 2, 1945

Click on the above image to view a much larger version. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

The surrender of the Empire of Japan on September 2, 1945, brought the hostilities of World War II to a close. The surrender marked the end of one of the biggest hostilities in history, one that altered the lives of millions of people.

You can find details about the surrender on dozens of web sites, including on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrender_of_Japan.

(+) The True Expense of Genealogy Research

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

Image copyright by CartoonStock.com. All rights reserved.

Today’s story about the closing of the Hiram Whittington Arkansas Local History and Genealogy Room in the Garland County Library in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is sad news. (See http://wp.me/p5Z3-Ji for details.) However, in this case, I have to agree with Library Director John Wells, who is quoted in the article. If a valuable resource at a taxpayer-supported public library is being used less and less, managers of that library need to re-evaluate where the funds are being spent. Libraries are under constant financial pressure. They obviously need to spend their meager budgets in ways to obtain the “most bang for the buck.”

In fact, John Wells is correct. Anyone with a computer can now obtain more genealogy information online that what any public library in a town or a small city can provide. The online information is available quickly and conveniently, is usually faster to search, and (in many cases) is available for less money. In fact, it is often cheaper to search online than it is to travel to a repository to search.

Perhaps the phrase “less money” requires some clarification.

First International Genealogy Conference Held in Limerick, Ireland, Attracting Both Irish and Overseas Visitors

Over the past weekend, attendees at an international genealogy conference listened to a number of different speakers discussing a wide range of family history and genealogical topics. There was representation from across Ireland, America and Canada. The event, which was opened by Mayor Michael Sheahan, featured professional genealogists from the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland. Amongst the exhibitors were the Irish Ancestry Research Centre, Limerick Genealogy, Eneclann, Blueleafredtree and the Limerick branch of LDS.

Garland County (Arkansas) Library Closes Its Genealogy and History Room

The Garland County Library in Hot Springs, Arkansas has closed its Hiram Whittington Arkansas Local History and Genealogy Room, citing competition from the Internet. According to an Associated Press article by David Showers at http://goo.gl/30CVIo, “patrons who had previously relied on its genealogical and historical troves to trace their origins can now do it remotely through online databases.”

The article quotes Library Director John Wells: “We’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in the use of that room. You’d walk by, and no one was in there. A lot of what was used in genealogical research is now available online. They’re not using that stuff here when they can sit at home and do it all day long.”

You can read the full story at http://goo.gl/30CVIo.

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.

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