rootstrust, Version 2 Beta now Available

The following announcement was written by Atavus, Inc.:

Atavus, Inc. has announced the release of rootstrust, Version 2 Beta. The respective installers for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux can be downloaded free of charge at

Among the numerous new features of Version 2, the following are particularly worthy of mention:

  • Professional quality, template-based source citations using the style proposed by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
  • Improved support for ultra-high-resolution video displays like those featured on some Microsoft Surface Pro models and Mac computers with a Retina Display.
  • File Cabinet synchronization – a facility for keeping your collections of rootstrust document and multimedia files in sync with their backup copies.

The Library of Congress has Announced the Release of the LOC Collections App for iOS

From an announcement published on the Library of Congress (LOC) web site at

To celebrate the 220th anniversary of its founding, the Library of Congress today announced the release of the LOC Collections app, the premiere mobile app that puts the national library’s digital collections in the hands of users everywhere.

In addition to providing an easy, accessible way to search and explore the Library’s growing digital collections, LOC Collections allows users to curate personal galleries of items in the Library’s collections for their own reference and for sharing with others. Items currently featured on the app include audio recordings, books, videos, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, notated music, periodicals, photos, prints, and drawings.

“The Library of Congress collection can now fit in your pocket,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “The Library started 220 years ago with 740 books and 3 maps. Today, that collection has grown to make us the largest library in the world and a storehouse of our national history. It’s been our goal to throw open our treasure chest and help every American connect to the Library of Congress. The LOC Collections app is a uniquely personal, easy new way to explore the nation’s library.”

Update: How to Get Microsoft Office for Free in 2020

On January 1, 2020, I published Off Topic: How to Get Microsoft Office for Free in 2020. The instructions for obtaining free copies of Microsoft’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Outlook, Calendar and Skype apps have changed a bit since January 1 so I have deleted the original article. In its place, I would suggest you read Microsoft Office is now Microsoft 365. Here’s how you could get it for free by Alison DeNisco Rayome and available on the CNET web site at

Please keep in mind that the free versions are mostly the same as the older versions that require payment but there are a few differences. Quoting the article by Alison DeNisco Rayome in the CNET web site:

Randy Majors Releases Another FREE Tool Do the Location Work for You as You Search on or

The prolific Randy Majors has released still another software tool that will aid genealogists as they research online. Here is his announcement:

U.S. county boundaries have changed over 17,600 times since America was settled in colonial times. Don’t sabotage your search for ancestors by not knowing the correct county for the historical years you are researching.

While searching on Ancestry or FamilySearch, the free Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker extension for Google Chrome automatically checks that the county existed in the year you are searching, warns of boundary changes, and links to historical county lines on Google Maps for the place and years you are searching!

10 Free Video Chat Apps to Use if You’re Social Distancing

This article is off topic. That is, it is not about genealogy, family history, DNA, or the other topics usually found in this newsletter. However, are you stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic? Use these videoconferencing options to keep in touch with family, friends and your workplace.

You may be interested in an article by Alison DeNisco Rayome in the CNet web site at:

The free video chat apps described include:

Amazon Chime, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Google Hangouts Meet, Houseparty, Marco Polo, Microsoft Teams, Skype, WhatsApp, and Zoom.

While not mentioned in the article by Alison DeNisco Rayome, I would also suggest Signal and Duo, two video chat apps that I use frequently. Both are available free of charge.

Randy Majors Releases a Coronavirus Stay-at-Home and Shelter-in-Place Map

Randy Majors is a well-known programmer who creates applications from Google Maps that perform function the programmer at Google never dreamed of. To see some of his past accomplishments, read some of my past articles about his creations by starting at:

Unlike most of his early projects, Randy’s latest product is not genealogy-related. He writes:

“To try to help get the information out there, I’ve compiled and have been maintaining a live up-to-date map of all of the U.S. states, counties and cities that have implemented Stay-at-Home/Shelter-in-Place Orders (as well as states with order to close all non-essential businesses. It’s a very actively changing map as you can imagine.

How to Filter Search Results from People Search Sites and Social Media Sites

The following was written by Randy Majors, a prolific author of numerous online improvements to various web sites:

Now AncestorSearch can cut through the muck of all of those annoying People SearchSite

Does doing a Google search for your ancestors turn up a ton of results from those annoying People Search websites?  Now you can easily INCLUDE or EXCLUDE those websites from your search based on a new enhancement to AncestorSearch on Google Search!

Now you can filter your AncestorSearch search results to EXCLUDE or to INCLUDE ONLY search results from major people search sites and social media sites.  The options look like this:

AncestorSearch and PeopleSearch Filter Search Results options

You can view the full description of the new functionality below the AncestorSearch tool under the heading “NEW!  How to Filter Search Results from People Search sites and Social Media sites“.

What People Search sites are searched?

These are the people search sites searched by AncestorSearch, listed roughly in order or traffic ranking according to Alexa:

AncestorSearch Alert: Your Ancestor is Long Gone, but Google May Find Something New Tomorrow!

The following is an announcement from Randy Majors, the prolific creator of numerous utility programs that add extra functionality for web sites in order to aid genealogists:

According to an internet study, Google is adding an average of 68 MILLION new web pages to its search index EVERY DAY!

What if one of those new pages contains a mention of your ancestor?

Think of all of the possibilities:  new archives coming online all the time, old books and newspapers being scanned, people writing genealogy blog posts, newly indexed records becoming searchable…and so much more.  So how do you make sure you don’t miss something important?

To make it easier to remain informed about new pages that contain a mention of your ancestor, you can now SET A GOOGLE ALERT in the AncestorSearch on Google Search tool.  After you fill out your search on AncestorSearch, just type your email address and click the “Set Google Alert” button near the bottom of the tool:

AncestorSearch on Google Search Set Google Alert

Here’s a quick example

Declutter Your Inbox. Subscribe to Email Newsletters Straight Into Inoreader

This article is off-topic. That is, it is not about genealogy, family history,DNA, or any related topic. However, I suspect many readers of this newsletter will find it interesting. It describes a better way of subscribing to all sorts of email newsletters by posting them to an RSS newsreader instead of cluttering up your email in-box.

Comment: I have been using RSS newsreaders for years to cut down on my workload and I would hate to read dozens of web sites without a newsreader. For details, read my earlier article, Is It Time to Try a Newsreader? at

Here is a quote from the Inoreader web site:

“Inoreader now allows you to subscribe to Email Newsletters just as regular RSS feeds. By creating a new Newsletter feed, you have the opportunity to create a unique email address where you can direct emails and read them just as regular articles.

The Best Photo Editors for Chromebooks

I have described the advantages of low-cost Chromebook laptop and Chromebox desktop computers in past newsletters many times. For a list of those articles, see

If you own a Chromebook, you probably will be interested in this article. If you do not own a Chromebook, you might want to skip this article.

In the June 18, 2019 newsletter at, I recommended Polarr Photo Editor as the best FREE photo editing program for Chromebooks. (A “Pro version” is also available for a modest price.) I was pleased to see other writers agree with me.

Family History Hosting Announces GEDCOM Assessment v1.03

This strikes me as a major new software tool. If every software developer would use the GEDCOM Assessment tool announced today, the end result should be more accurate future transfers of genealogy data via GEDCOM.

The following announcement was written by Family History Hosting:

Narragansett, RI – February 7, 2019 – Family History Hosting, LLC is pleased to announce version 1.03 of free GEDCOM Assessment resources including assess.ged.

assess.ged is a special GEDCOM file you may use to test the GEDCOM import
capability of any program that reads a GEDCOM file and imports the contents.
By reviewing the results you can determine whether and how the target
application handles various GEDCOM records and record combinations.

SnipTag – a Helper Macintosh App for Genealogists

SnipTag is a photo scanning and metadata (adding captions and other information) program. It is useful for anyone who us scanning or manipulating digital photographs on a Macintosh but it strikes me as being especially useful for genealogists. I think it would be excellent for digitizing an old photo album that hasn’t been opened by family members in years as well as for other uses.

Of course, once the photos have been digitized, it is easy to share an entire photo album with family members by email personal web sites, or in any of several other methods.

Here are some statements from the SnipTag web site at (Keep in mind this is advertising written by the company, not an unbiased review written by me):

Announcing a New Update of Heredis, the Genealogy Software Available for both Windows and Macintosh: the 2020 Version

Heredis is a genealogy program that is very popular around the world. The program is one of the easier-to-use genealogy programs available today. It is also available in several different languages.

Now the Heredis producers in France have announced a major update for 2020 that includes:

Gramps 5.1.2 Released

Gramps (an abbreviation for Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming System) is a very popular, powerful, and FREE genealogy program that was first developed for Linux and UNIX systems. It has since been ported to Windows and Macintosh systems.

As stated on the Gramps web site:

“Gramps is a free software project and community. We strive to produce a genealogy program that is both intuitive for hobbyists and feature-complete for professional genealogists. It is a community project, created, developed and governed by genealogists.”

Now Gramps 5.1.2 has been released.

You can learn a lot about Gramps at,, and at

The new version 5.1.2 changes are listed at:

It is strongly recommended that present Gramps users make a backup before upgrading to the new version. Instructions may be found at:

GEDCOM 5.5.1 Specification: GEDCOM-L Addendum

The GEDCOM standard was unchanged for many years. In the past few months, that status has changed dramatically. FamilySearch released the GEDCOM Version 5.5.1 (although it appears to be a rather minor update to the earlier proposal for changes). Other people and organizations have recently published PROPOSED changes to the GEDCOM standard. You can find the recent articles in this newsletter about GEDCOM by starting at:

Now the GEDCOM-L group in Germany has added a proposed addendum to the present GEDCOM standard. Here is the announcement written by that group:

The addendum is prepared by the GEDCOM-L group, a working group initiated by the Computer Genealogy Society of Germany (CompGen). More than 20 developers of genealogical programs have been working since 2009 with the following goals:

FamilySearch Releases GEDCOM Version 5.5.1

GEDCOM is an abbreviation that stands for GEnealogy Data COMmunications. In short, GEDCOM is the language by which different genealogy software programs talk to one another.

GEDCOM was developed by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (LDS Church) to provide a flexible, uniform format for exchanging computerized genealogical data.

(See my 2014 article, GEDCOM Explained, at for a more detailed explanation of GEDCOM.)

GEDCOM is not a program. Instead, it is a specification of the method that different genealogy programs should use to exchange data. The purpose is to exchange data between dissimilar programs without having to manually re-enter all the data on a keyboard. A GEDCOM file is a plain text file (usually either UTF-8, ANSEL or ASCII) containing genealogical information about individuals, and meta data linking these records together.

How to Convert PDF Files to Printable Booklets Using BookletCreator

Genealogists seem to read and/or collect books… lots of books. Books come from many sources but the places to always check first are, Google Books, Project Gutenberg , and several other sources of FREE digital books. You might want to read my earlier article, Where to Download Thousands of Free eBooks, available at:

I try to never print anything on paper. Instead, I normally read anything downloaded on a Kindle or on most any computer that can run Kindle software, including laptop computers, desktop computers, tablet computers, iPads, Android tablets, and anything else with a good sized screen. However, I also recognize that many people prefer to read from good, old-fashioned paper. If you also prefer paper, you might want to download and install a simple software tool that lets you instantly turn any PDF document into a printable booklet.

Yes, you can print a PDF file directly without any additional softare but the available options are limited. However, BookletCreator allows you to perform several actions not available in most PDF viewers.

Quoting from an article by Shianne Edelmayer in the MakeUseOf web site:

Incline Software Releases Ancestral Quest 16

The following announcement was written by Incline Software:

Salt Lake City, Utah (December 12, 2019) – Incline Software, LC, producer of Ancestral Quest™, premier family tree software for Windows and Mac, announced today the release of Ancestral Quest version 16. This new silver anniversary release provides exciting, easy to use new features, including a new Descendants View, printing of background images on many charts, improvements to AQ’s ability to sync with FamilySearch™ Family Tree, and more efficient ways to enter important genealogical data.

Major New Features

Descendants View A much-requested new feature, the Descendants view joins the Pedigree, Family, Name List, Individual, and Timeline views of the program. This provides users with yet another way to view and navigate the records within their database as they see descendants of any ancestor at a glance.

Share Data Elements When users add or edit events and facts for individuals, they can now share (copy) an event with other individuals in the database. For example, after finding a family of 10 on a census record, users can go to one member of the family, add a “Residence” event to indicate that the person lived in that location on the date of the census, and attach a census source to the Residence event. They can then Share that event and source quickly with the other 9 members of the family, without having to individually add the Residence event to each person.

Family History Hosting Announces a GEDCOM Assessment Tool

An ongoing discussion of GEDCOM versions and compatibility has been in the news lately. See and to find two recent articles about GEDCOM capabilities that were published in this newsletter. Now John Cardinal of Family History Hosting, LLC has issued a new tool for use by anyone interested in GEDCOM data transfers.

The new tool consists of a specially-constructed GEDCOM file and accompanying help pages designed to assess the GEDCOM import process of a genealogy application. Genealogists who use GEDCOM-aware applications may find it useful. Here is the announcement:

Narragansett, RI – December 2, 2019Family History Hosting, LLC is pleased to announce free GEDCOM Assessment resources including assess.ged at .

assess.ged is a special GEDCOM file you may use to test the GEDCOM import capability of any program that reads a GEDCOM file and imports the contents. By reviewing the results you can determine whether and how the target application handles various GEDCOM records and record combinations.

Many genealogists have evaluated a GEDCOM transfer by exporting from program “A” and importing into program “B”. That is useful for the specific combination of program “A” and “B” but introduces uncertainty into the process because missing information or unexpected results could be the fault of either program. Using a hand-crafted GEDCOM file focuses the evaluation on the import capabilities of the importing program. The results help end-users understand what will and will not transfer properly into the target application and the results help software authors understand how to tailor results for the target application.

Have you tried AncestorSearch on Google Search for Searching for Ancestors (or Living People) Lately?

Randy Majors is well-known to readers of this genealogy newsletter. He has created several mapping utilities that add functionality to Google Maps, primarily for use by genealogists. See for a list of past newsletter articles about Randy and his many Google Maps enhancements.

Now for something completely different. Randy has written a new and somewhat different bit of software to use Google Search (not Google maps) to find ancestors and even for finding living people.