This Newsletter is Sponsored by MyHeritage

 

Compress Images the Easy Way with Squoosh

NOTE: This is not a true genealogy article. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. However, the article does describe a general-purpose image compression tool that has many, many uses, including some uses by genealogists. As such, you might find it interesting.

The gnomes at Google Chrome Labs certainly keep busy. The latest product to be delivered from this software development group is an image compression tool called Squoosh. You probably won’t need to use it often but, when you need to make an image file smaller to send by email or to publish on a web page, it can be a valuable tool.

After all, you probably don’t want your web site’s visitors to download 60 megabyte images! That makes for a very slow web site when viewed on slower-speed Internet connections, such as on dial-up or over a cellular data connection.

Squoosh is a cloud-based app. To use Squoosh, you do not need to install any software into your computer. You simply open a web browser and go to https://squoosh.app/ and start using the app. Since it is cloud-based, Squoosh works on Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, Linux, iPad, Android tablets, and probably any other computer that includes a modern web browser. Squoosh will even work on an iPhone or on an Android smartphone although the small screen size of those cell phones can be a limitation.

Did I mention that Squoosh is available free of charge?

What’s not to like?

Reclaim The Records Files Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit–US Department of Veterans Affairs

The following announcement was written by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

Reclaim the Records has previously filed suit in different state jurisdictions—their new Freedom of Information Act litigation is against a federal agency– the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The law suit, filed on September 17, 2018, asks the US Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a copy of the Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File. A letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs dated September 13, 2018 states they “remanded the request to their FOIA Officer for further consideration, appropriate processing and issuance of a subsequent IAD”. [IAD means Initial Agency Decision] The case is still pending.

This database contains basic information on about fourteen million deceased American veterans who served in the US military and then later received benefits from the VA, such as healthcare or the GI Bill, between approximately 1850-2017. Each record includes the veteran’s dates of birth and death, dates of enlistment and release, and branch of service. Some years have a little more information available than others, including the veteran’s basic cause of death (i.e. natural or combat-related), gender, and possibly other fields.

Sometimes Things Don’t Turn Out as You Expected

I was chatting with a friend of mine this evening, using Signal, the encrypted app for cell phones that provides text messaging, voice calls, and two-way video calls.

No, that’s not me or my friend. That is a promotional image for Signal. But it looks about the same as our two-way video call of today.

For years, futurists claimed that some day we all would have two-way video phones. Indeed, we do. Signal, FaceTime, Duo, Skype, and probably a dozen or so other apps all offer 2-way-video calls today and they are available free of charge.

Still… it didn’t work out exactly as predicted. For instance, here is a woman talking on a movie producer’s vision of the future videophone in the 1955 short film The Future is Now:

MyHeritage Announces a New Feature for DNA users — the Display of Shared Ancestral Places for DNA Matches

MyHeritage now can show you towns, countries and U.S. states where birth or death events of ancestors took place that appear in your family tree and that you have in common with your DNA Matches. This feature makes the company’s DNA Matching even more useful by helping pinpoint how you and your DNA Matches could be related.

Quoting from the announcement:

“Shared Ancestral Places refer to towns, countries, or U.S. states that appear in your family tree as well as in the family trees of your DNA Matches, where birth or death events of your ancestors (and those of your DNA Matches’ ancestors) took place. These places are identified going back up to 10 generations and can play a vital role in family history research.

New Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of November 12, 2018

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch added 3.5 million records from the 1901 Ireland Census, and 1.4 million naturalization records from New York. Other countries include Honduras, Peru, and the United States (Minnesota, Oregon, and Texas).

Research these free new records and images by clicking on the collection links below, or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

The Essential Ebook Converter Guide

Genealogists tend to collect lots of books. Of course, the trend in recent years is to obtain ebooks, not books printed on paper. Ebooks are much easier to store and carry, especially if you have hundreds of books. Ebooks are usually cheaper to purchase, although not always. They are also much, much easier to search for specific words or phrases than are printed books. However, ebooks are not perfect.

Here is a common scenario amongst people who use ebooks: One ebook that the ebook’s owner references often might be stored on the reader’s tablet computer in Kindle’s AZW format. Now the reader would like to have the same ebook on another computer and in another format, such as in EPUB format. How can anyone translate and copy from one format to another?

Findmypast Partners With Living DNA to Launch the Most Detailed Ancestry Discovery Experience

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • Findmypast, in collaboration with Living DNA, has launched the most advanced biogeographical ancestry discovery experience on the market
  • This British brand partnership uses cutting-edge science to reveal users’ unique British and Irish heritage across 21 regions and is the first to connect DNA to Findmypast’s archive of more than 9 billion historical records
  • Findmypast and Living DNA’s combined service allows users to pinpoint exactly where in the UK their family roots come from and then use the findings to explore their family history in extensive archives
  • Those who have already taken DNA tests can upload their tests here and make discoveries that only Findmypast DNA can provide

Leading British and Irish family history website, Findmypast, has launched their partnership with leading British DNA testing firm, Living DNA, to create a new biogeographical ancestry experience to help family historians explore their worldwide and British and Irish roots.

Available from today, the partnership combines science and history to allow people to explore their past in more depth than ever before possible. It uses Living DNA’s unique test employing cutting-edge science to provide a unique breakdown of 80 global regions, including 21 across Britain and Ireland. Exclusive to Living DNA, this method delivers a level of detail currently unmatched by any other DNA test available on the market.

Announcing a New South-West of England Family History Show

The following announcement was written by the organisers of the Discover Your Ancestors Family History Shows:

With the success of the Discover Your Ancestors Family History Shows’ sellout London event, the organisers have now announced the introduction of a new South-West of England Show to be held in the Exhibition Centre at the University of West of England, Bristol.

The organisers have some great offers on these new shows and they now all feature an enhanced format.

  • The Family History Show South-West event will be held on Saturday July 6th 2019
  • With low prices for both exhibitors and attendees, it is a really affordable event for all
  • Featuring fascinating Free Family History Talks
  • A dedicated Ask the Experts section
  • Wide variety of exhibitors from societies and genealogical suppliers

Let the Ontario Genealogical Society Preserve Your Website!

The Ontario Genealogical Society has adopted a policy of working to preserve and keep publicly available privately operated websites of genealogical interest which were in danger of closing or being abandoned due to changes in the circumstances of the site owner/developer. In effect, the Society offers succession planning for the website owner/developer.

According to an email message I received from David Thompson, Volunteer & Director of the Ontario Genealogical Society:

“We have quietly pursued the acquisition or hosting of a few sites, most notably CanadianHeadstones.com, which is currently undergoing a major face-lift and upgrade. In addition we are hosting CanadaGenWeb’s Cemetery project (http://cemetery.canadagenweb.org/), a local history site in Port Hope Ontario (http://alivingpast.ca/), a family genealogy site, a Canadian WW-II troopship memorial site, and others, including a GEDCOM site (https://ontariofamilyhistory.org/tng_2017_11/) which currently contains some 62,000 individuals and 21,638 families.

The New York Times will Digitize its Photo Archive

This may turn out to be a gold mine for historians and genealogists alike. The New York Times is planning to digitize more than a century’s worth of photographs, and it is going to use Google Cloud to do so.

The plan is to digitize MILLIONS of images — some dating back to the late nineteenth century — to ensure they can be accessed by generations to come. The digitization process will also prove useful for journalists who will be able to delve into the archives far more easily in future.

Until now, historic news articles and photos have been stored on microfilm and in other physical forms. This is not only difficult to catalog and navigate, but also prone to deterioration over time and through use.

Brian Stevens, Chief Technical Officer of Google Cloud, stated:

Plus Edition Newsletter Has Been Sent

To all Plus Edition subscribers:

A notice of the latest EOGN Plus Edition newsletter was sent to you a few minutes ago. Here are the articles in this week’s Plus Edition newsletter:

(+) Where is Genealogy Technology Headed?

A Video of MyHeritage LIVE’s Keynote Address by CEO Gilad Japhet is Now Available Online

My Progress on Digitizing all my Old Genealogy Books

CZUR Aura: the Inexpensive Book (and Other Things) Scanner that Does Not Require Cutting the Bindings from the Books

720,000 Newly Digitized Historic Photos Show Where New Yorkers Lived in the 1940s

The 1926 Canadian Census of the Prairie Provinces is to Be Released by March 2019

(+) Where is Genealogy Technology Headed?

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

NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

The genealogy software world is changing around us. This week, I thought I would look at the history of such software and then look into the crystal ball to see if the future can be discerned.

I have been using genealogy programs in my home computers for 34 years. In 1984, I started with Family Ties, a program written by Neil Wagstaff. I ran it on a homemade CP/M computer with two 8-inch floppy disk drives and a huge memory capacity of 64 kilobytes. No, that is not a typo error: those were 8-inch floppy disks drives. Many of today’s computer users have never seen an 8-inch floppy disk although the later 5 1/2-inch and 3 1/2-inch disks became quite popular.

8-inch, 5 1/4-inch, and 3 /12 inch floppy disks

Over the years, I kept upgrading both the hardware and the software in use. I upgraded from the CP/M operating system to MS-DOS, then to Windows 2.0 and through a series of Windows releases: 3.0, 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000 (which I still believe is the best version of Windows ever released), Windows XP, and Windows Vista. In fact, after using Vista for a few weeks, I finally made my best upgrade: to Macintosh OS X. (I really hated Windows Vista!)

Recent Updates to the Calendar of Genealogy Events

The following pages have recently been updated in the Calendar of Genealogy Events:

Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Minnesota

Some of the above changes may have been deletions of past events.

All information in the Calendar of Events is contributed by YOU and by other genealogists. You can directly add information to the Calendar about your local genealogy event.

New Records Available To Search this Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by FindMyPast:

There are over two million new records and newspaper pages available to search this Findmypast Friday, including;

Royal Air Force Lists 1919-1945

Search the Royal Air Force Lists from 1919-1922 and 1938-1945. The Lists contain over 62,000 names and include the women’s branches of the military including the WRENs, WAAF, and Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service. The records are presented as digitised copies of the original publications. You can search by your ancestor’s name and a keyword.

The lists may tell you your ancestor’s rank and branch. Initials next to your ancestor’s name will show if they received a military medal; for example, DSO means the officer received the Distinguished Service Order. Most publications will have a table of contents and provide you with a list of symbols, abbreviations and letters denoting honours and awards. The lists also include the names of those who had resigned and reasons such as ill-health.

Queensland, Windsor Town Council Honour Roll 1914-1925

CZUR Aura: the Inexpensive Book (and Other Things) Scanner that Does Not Require Cutting the Bindings from the Books

Genealogists love scanners. We digitize old photographs, documents, maps, old handwritten notes, and dozens of other things that we wish to preserve in digital formats. Perhaps the most desirable scanners are book scanners, designed to quickly digitize the 100 pages or more pages found in a typical genealogy book. There are but two problems with most of the book scanners:

  1. They are expensive at $400 to $40,000 US, depending upon the features included and the speed of the scanning.
  2. Many book scanners require cutting the bindings off the books and then inserting the stacks of unbound pages into a sheet feeder that looks similar to what is found on high-speed office photocopiers.

Cutting the binding off a book is often traumatic for genealogists! Yes, I have cut bindings from modern reprints of old books without hesitation but I doubt if many genealogists will cut the binding from a book printed 100 years ago or even earlier.

A new scanner that is going into production now will solve most of these issues. Even better, it scans books, loose pages, photographs, and even small objects (coins, toys, jewelry, silverware, and more) without damaging any of the objects being digitized.

My Progress on Digitizing all my Old Genealogy Books

A newsletter reader wrote today and asked an embarrassing question:

“Over a year ago you said you were trying to scan 50 pages a day to get rid of most paper copies of books. How is that going??? Would be interested in reading more, esp. what programs, etc. you are using. I’ve been inclined to do the same, but with me it’s a “now and then if I’m totally bored” process.”

I must admit that I am a bit embarrassed that my progress has slowed down. There are multiple reasons: (1.) I spend my summers up north and my winters in the sunbelt which means the books to be digitized always seem to be in “the other place,” (2.) I travel a lot which is a good excuse for procrastinating on all sorts of plans, and (3.) I suffer from a severe case of general procrastination. I was going to join the Procrastinators’ Club of America but haven’t gotten around to it. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrastinators%27_Club_of_America and http://articles.latimes.com/1987-06-21/news/mn-9001_1_story-tomorrow for details concerning that organization.)

Luckily, I have found many of my genealogy books are already available in digital formats on Archive.org, Google Books, and numerous other web sites. If one of my books has already been digitized, I simply save the digitized version to my local hard drive and to the backup services, then throw away the paper copy. That has saved me a lot of work.

However, I have found an excellent method of digitizing my remaining books: give the work to someone else and let that company do the work for a rather modest price.

Findmypast Grants Three Days of Free Access to All Records and Newspapers to Mark 100 Years Since the End of the First World War

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • Findmypast makes entire collection of more than 9 Billion records and all historical newspapers free for three days

All UK, Irish, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and US records as well as all British, Irish and World Newspapers are free from the 9th to the 12th November 2018

Leading British & Irish family history website, Findmypast, will be making their entire collection of world military records free for three days in honour of the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War.

A century on from the end of the war, family historians can explore all of Findmypast’s records and newspapers free of charge.

Over 9 billion records covering the UK, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Findmypast’s vast archive of British, Irish and World Newspapers, will be completely free to search and explore.

TheGenealogist’s new Release Commemorates the Centenary of the Ending of the First World War

The following announcement was written by TheGenealogist:

Armistice day

To mark the end of World War 1 that came to a close on 11 November 1918 with the signing of the armistice, TheGenealogist has just released over 42,000 records of Officers that died in the Great War, along with additional Rolls of Honour and over 30,000 War Memorials, War Graves plans, maps and listings.

These fully searchable records join an already strong WW1 Collection on the site, providing a highly useful resource for those seeking their ancestors caught up in the conflict.

This new release will allow researchers to:

A Video of MyHeritage LIVE’s Keynote Address by CEO Gilad Japhet is Now Available Online

I wrote earlier (at http://bit.ly/2SS1bSN) about last weekend’s very successful MyHeritage LIVE Conference held in Oslo, Norway. I mentioned that MyHeritage CEO Gilad Japhet gave the keynote address. A video of that talk is now available in the MyHeritage Blog at http://bit.ly/2RK4fiB.

720,000 Newly Digitized Historic Photos Show Where New Yorkers Lived in the 1940s

The New York City Department of Records & Information Services is home to a lot of documents and photographs; from Lindsay administration memos to crime scene photos, the expansive collection draws from 50 NYC agencies. The archives are so vast that it’s taking a while to digitize everything, but they did just release 720,000 images online.

The latest photo dump brings their 1940s tax photos online; tax photographs were taken by the City’s property tax office (or rather, by freelancers which they paid via funding from the Depression-era Works Progress Administration) as part of their assessment process. All in all, they show “every house and building in the five boroughs” from the decade, according to their press rep.