Genealogy Basics

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.

So Where In Armenia Was Your Family From?

If you have Armenian ancestry, you will be interested in an article by Mark Arslan in The Armenian Weekly web site:

When someone asks you this rather straightforward question, many of us can come up with a place name based on our family’s oral traditions – Keghi, Evereg, Kharpert, Dikranagerd, Aleppo, Bardizag, Bitlis, Kars, whatever. But can we actually find that place on a modern map or prove the family’s origins with primary documentary evidence?

Understanding Cemetery Symbols

Have you ever stared at a cemetery symbol on a grave and wondered if it meant something or if it was merely decorative? Understanding cemetery symbolism can give you clues to understanding your ancestor’s lives.

To make your next trip to the cemetery totally fascinating, check out BillionGraves’ latest blog post written by Cathy Wallace and The BillionGraves Team, Understanding Cemetery Symbols, at: http://bit.ly/2RYYd27.

Don’t Store Books or Documents in Sealed Plastic!

A newsletter reader sent me a link to an online article that made me shudder when I read it. The article claims:

“Do you have an old book or important document that has been passed down from generation to generation? These books and documents break down over time due to oxygen, moisture, and other hazards. By sealing it, you’re also giving it added protection in the event of a flood, fire (smoke), or accidental damage.”

I am no expert in preservation, but I believe the last thing you want to do to a valuable old book or photo or other document is to seal it in an airtight plastic bag, especially a bag that is not labeled “archival quality.” Sealing in a cheap plastic bag can cause more damage than it prevents!

How to Easily Convert Old Cassette Tapes to Modern MP3 Files

Do you have old cassette tapes but have no way to play them? Luckily for you, there are multiple ways to convert cassette tapes to modern MP3 or other format files that can be stored in your computer’s hard drive, an external hard drive, a flash drive, CD disks, stored in the cloud, or even sent to anyone via email.

There are at least two methods of copying cassette tapes to modern digital files. I will call the two methods the easy way and the much easier way.

The Easy Way

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.

The Cousin Explainer

Trying to determine all the relationships of all your relatives at a Christmas gathering? A tea towel can help.

As described on the web site where you can order the towel:

“Second cousin once removed, or first cousin twice removed? Calculating cousin-hood has never been easier with this brilliant tea towel. Finally you can establish which of your cousins are once, twice or even thrice removed. A hand lettered design by Geoff Sawers.”

If You Don’t Want to Deal with Family Skeletons, Don’t Look in the DNA Closet

Amy Dickinson is an American newspaper columnist who writes the syndicated advice column Ask Amy. In a recent column, she published a letter from a reader asking how to handle a family surprise: upon having her DNA tested, the writer discovered she had a half-sibling that she was not aware of previously. She then shared this bit of information with her family, including with both of her parents.

The information was not well received.

You can read this rather interesting letter and Amy Dickinson’s advice in a number of newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press at: http://bit.ly/2QxfdL6.

Comment by Dick Eastman: I certainly cannot compete with Amy Dickinson’s nationally-syndicated advice column but I will offer one piece of advice to genealogists: If your research finds a something that was previously not widely known within the family, you might want to stop and consider the implications before you broadcast that information to your relatives. Do you really HAVE to tell everyone? or anyone?

U.S. Life Expectancy Declines Again

Most experienced genealogists are aware that the average life expectancy of our relatives has increased over the years. Most of the increases can be attributed to major improvements in hygiene, medicine, and (in recent years) the decrease in the use of tobacco products. Sadly, in 2016 and 2017 the trend went in the opposite direction. Americans now have a slightly shorter life expectancy than they had three years ago and the trend is getting worse.

We are now seeing the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century, an appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918. That four-year period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States and perhaps 50 million worldwide.

Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza Collection of Cuban Genealogy

Since the university was founded in 1972, Florida International University has always been an epicenter of Cuban heritage studies. The school now offers more than 70 courses related to Cuba across more than 20 disciplines, spanning the humanities and social sciences, the natural sciences, law, architecture and medicine. Of interest to genealogists is the Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza Collection of Cuban Genealogy.

Florida International University Libraries has acquired this collection of thousands of books, handwritten and typed letters, photos and other primary documents relating to Cuba and Cuban genealogy, collected over four decades by Felix Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza. The collection includes rare 17th and 18th century books, long out-of-print publications and periodicals that few, if any, U.S. libraries hold in their catalogs. Additionally, thousands of unpublished family genealogies and manuscripts make this collection particularly significant.

Record and Share Your Family History in 5 Steps

I don’t see many genealogy-related articles in the New York Times but J. D. Biersdorfer has written a great article that has now been published by the media giant. Quoting from the article:

“Holiday gatherings offer a great time to create a multimedia digital archive of interviews with your relatives so they can share their memories with the current — and future — branches of the tree.”

and:

“Many people have pieced together their own family tree. But how much do you really know about the early lives of your living relatives, especially those with decades of stories to share?

Bullet Journaling for Genealogy

I must admit that I am not familiar with “Bullet Journaling.” However, a notice about an upcoming genealogy presentation in Ohio caught my eye:

The next meeting of the Lake County [Ohio] Genealogical Society is set for 10 a.m., Nov. 29, in the basement of the Morley Library, 184 Phelps St. in Painesville.

Carla Cegielski will talk about “Bullet Journaling for Genealogy.” Attendees can learn about how a bullet journal can help plan, guide, and organize genealogical research, according to a news release.

People can capture their random thoughts and midnight revelations and turn them into actionable tasks.

How Many Ancestors Do You Have?

A newsletter reader asked a simple question this week that generates a longer answer:

How many individuals does it take to make up 42 generations? Is there a website or other source that would help me calculate the answer?

I am sure there are such web sites, but you can also calculate the same numbers within a few seconds by using Excel or any other spreadsheet. I used a spreadsheet to generate the following:

Why Are There Mistakes in US Census Records?

If you have been searching census records for a while, you probably already know that the records are not 100% accurate. If you are not already aware of the inaccuracies, you absolutely need to understand the reasons why as explained in a new article in the FamilySearch Blog at http://bit.ly/2NuUl1L.

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.

Always Keep Backups of Your Online Genealogy Information

A newsletter reader wrote and asked a question:

“I have an account with Ancestry.com and I was using the Family Tree Maker for my back up just in case there comes a time when I can no longer pay for Ancestry and since they stopped using Family Tree Maker. I was wondering if there was anything else I can use as a back up, I would hate to lose all the information I have if I couldn’t pay for it for some reason.”

I replied to the question in email but thought I would also post my answer here in the newsletter in case others have the same question:

First, Family Tree Maker did not go away. The program was acquired by Software MacKiev and has been improved significantly in the past year or so. The Software MacKiev version of Family Tree Maker still exchanges data with Ancestry.com and still can function as a viable method of keeping a copy of your genealogy data in your own Macintosh or Windows computer, the same as it did before the acquisition by Software MacKiev.

HOWEVER, if it was me, I would do even more.

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?

Are You New to Genealogy?

Welcome to the fascinating world of family history research! You can learn more about you, your ancestors, and why you are the person you are today.

Here is a list of articles from my newsletter that I think are the most useful resources for anyone who is learning how to find their ancestors:

A Genealogy Intro

Family History for Beginners

Begin Your Genealogy Quest, an excellent tutorial for beginners found on FamilySearch

Beginner’s guide to family history documents, a video from MyHeritage.com

Genealogy Basics

Are You a Family Historian or a Name Collector?

Online Genealogy Dictionaries & Other References

Family History Guide

Free Genealogy Software

The Genealogy Library Inside Your Computer: How to Increase Your Personal Genealogy Library without Additional Bookshelves

Are You a Family Historian or a Name Collector?

I have a question. None of my living relatives knows the answer to this question. I have not found the answer to this question in any public records, nor have I been able to find the answer in cemeteries. I have read a few magazine articles and Internet pages about the topic, but none of them have directly answered the question.

The question is… “Why do we study genealogy?”

What makes anyone so curious about his or her family tree? What drives us to dedicate time, effort, and sometimes expenses to go find dead people?

What is it inside of us that makes us spend hours and hours cranking reels of microfilm, then we go home and report to our family members what a great day we had?

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.