Sunday, December 26, 2010

Genealogy Blog Finder

Genealogy Blog Finder

Looking for a genealogy blog? There are too many to count but you can use the above link to 1,691 genealogy blogs [number as of the moment of writing]. At the top of the page there is a search box so you can narrow your search to fit your specific interests.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Scanning Update

This morning I was up early but not to shop. Before 9 a.m. I scanned another 487 photos. I have learned to scan all mindlessly. I can decide what to keep, whether it is a duplicate, etc., later. My ScanSnap saves both sides so if there is something on the back to help me identify the photo later that is saved. Step two of this process will be naming the photos.

While scanning the photos I have found those I had no idea I had and plenty that I can't identify as well as innumerable pictures of that little girl everyone apparently loved to photograph. What is really bad is today I found a picture from 1957 where I could only identify one person [my oldest brother] and possibly another [neighbor]. My sister, who was not born in 1957 as I am sure she wishes me to point out, used her later time memory to suggest a logical possibility for two of the people. The other two remain a total mystery. As shown before here, sometimes an outside person can shed light on a picture. Never hesitate to ask anyone you can.

I am now down to one file drawer, about half full of documents not related to genealogy, and one box of photos. Unfortunately it is a large box and probably contains 12-1500 photos. The good news is half of them are travel, scenery, etc., which may not survive the pruning. Prior to digital we took some bad pictures and were stuck with them.

I'm not giving up my beautiful remaining bookcase even when it is empty but I do have three shelves of books relating to the later 15th Century in England I'm ready to donate. No genealogy unless you a Plantagenet.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Start At The Beginning - Genealogy 101

It seems basic but I have had so many questions lately I'm posting it.

START AT THE BEGINNING. Write down what you know - your name, birth date and location, marriage date and location, etc. Add the same information for your children. Then do your parents and siblings. If you don’t know these details for your parents ask. If your parents are deceased ask your siblings, your parents’ siblings - anyone you can think of who might know. Ask them about your grandparents and any other ancestors they know about. If your parents don’t know perhaps their siblings do. Ask them. The answers will provide your initial research road map.

Collect your own documentation, birth certificate, marriage certificate, any other legal documentation including divorce papers. Gather your children’s birth certificates and their other documentation. If you don’t have this you may have to obtain copies from the County Clerk in which the birth, marriage or other event occurred. It's also at the state, at least modern records, but generally the County Clerk is less expensive. You need a copy of the official record [doesn't have to be certified]. Next do the same for your parents and your siblings. Do you know everyone’s maiden name, when and where they were born, married and if appropriate died and were buried? Were they in the military and if so when?

One of the top regrets genealogists have is “I didn’t ask my mother/grandmother/ uncle when I had the chance and now they are gone.”

You will be doing this progressively back for each generation. Remember, two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents and so on. And if you have step parents in any generation you probably want to include them. They and their children, even if unrelated to you, may be important later. 

You can see that there are a lot of people, a lot of information and a lot of documents. With all that information and documents you need to be organized. You need a two part plan, one for recording the information and one for saving the documentation. I'm sure you know by now my motto is Scan Everything.

The best thing to do with the information is to enter it into the genealogy program of your choice. Data entry can be time consuming but you need to enter every detail you know about every person and you need to cite the source for that piece of information. It will become obvious what you are missing when you enter the data into your genealogy program. Make a list of what is missing and make a plan for finding it.

Citing your sources is a critical step. If a person read your file in five years could they find your documentation? If the answer is not yes you haven’t done it correctly. This is the other top regret - “I didn’t cite my sources [or didn’t cite them fully] at the time and now I can’t find the information.”

Many people have elaborate filing systems for the documentation. I believe you should keep it simple. There are many options but you should chose one that works for you. If you are not a super detail oriented person you probably won’t carry through on an elaborate filing system. It is more important to file in an orderly manner so you can find it. 

To begin try eight files, one for each of your great grandparents using the maiden names for females. If you don’t know your great grandparents do it with your grandparents. You can expand later. In the beginning those eight folders are enough. Later you will probably want to have subfolders for such things as census records, vital records, military records, etc. as you gather more and more data. I scan all the information and keep the files on my computer, backed up of course. You can also easily share the scanned copies with relatives. Think of it as additional backup.

When you have completed your grandparents and you have filled out all the information you can find, with special attention to completing birth, marriage, death and children, then you can proceed backward, generation by generation. At that point you will have a better idea what you need to learn more about - census records, vital records, military  records, immigration and naturalization, land records, probate records, etc. There is internet research, courthouse research, library research, archives research, organization - there’s always something to learn that will enhance your genealogy.

And when you have your family under control - you are never really “done” with your ancestors - there is your spouse’s family, the families of your children’s spouses and on and on. Don’t worry. You’ll never run out of people.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

America's Top Ten Genealogical Repositories |

America's Top Ten Genealogical Repositories |

This blog post lists the top ten best archives and libraries for genealogy. If your library participates in Interlibrary Loan it's worth checking World Cat to see if they have your book. They assuredly do not loan every book but your librarian can determine if they will loan the one you want.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Genealogy Tip of the Day

I'm testing out Blog This! an extension for the Chrome browser. When I see something that I would like to share I can now do it with a click instead of making notes or attempting to remember it.

This is from Michael John Neill's Genealogy Tip of the Day. I'm a fan of Michael who also does Casefile Clues discussed here earlier.

Genealogy Tip of the Day: Have You Overlooked an Alternate Spelling?: "Have You Overlooked an Alternate Spelling?
Is it possible you've overlooked an alternate spelling of a last name? A relative's mother's name was listed in all documents as Morris. Her Social Security Application listed the last name as Morse. Just one that for some strange reason had not crossed my mind. It happens to all of us."

Everyone May Be Someone

Some people just want to find out about their direct ancestors. They think that will be enough. They ignore all the external people they find: siblings of in laws, neighbors, business associates, anyone who isn't their direct ancestor. They don't know how addictive this "little" genealogy hobby will become.

Don't fall into that trap. When you find a person who married into your line and you see something about his brother write it down. Often when a person married into a family other siblings and/or cousins also married into the same family. Or maybe they didn't but their children did. You may not know why now but someday you'll wish you had made the notes when you had the chance.

Originally I busily entered my ancestors into my database. This is a time consuming and, I admit, sometimes semi boring process. Naturally I avoided "unnecessary" people. I quickly learned that, sooner or later, I would need those unnecessary folks. Now I enter all sorts of people, even people who are totally unrelated to me [as far as I know today] but who were living in the area. I am no longer surprised when I eventually find a connection.

About 13 years ago I "met" Neal Downing. Back in the 1850s and 60s three children of Samuel Downing married three children of Robert Downing. These lines were previously unrelated, from different parts of the country, but ended up a mile apart in Logan County. I am a descendant of one of those marriages. Neal descends from another. His ancestors left Logan County and moved west - long gone but once they were closely related.

Last winter Neal commented he didn't know as much about his wife's family. In an amazing coincidence her ancestors had also lived in Logan County but moved west. They met in California. He sent me the line they knew, no names I recognized as they were from a different part of the county - until I got to her ancestor Charity Bowman. I did a double take.

I am related to both Neal and his wife. Charity was a sister of Hannah Bowman, my 4th great grandmother. Their mother Mary Senteney Bowman is my 5th great grandmother and Jackie's 4th great grandmother. Hannah, Charity and their mother are all buried in Steenbergen.

Take the time to write down those names and whatever else you run across. You just never know.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Genealogy Volunteer Opportunity

All those records in Granite Mountain near Salt Lake City are being digitalized and will eventually be available online free.

As you can imagine, there are millions of records which the LDS Church has collected over the years. They have the digitalizing down to a science and anticipate it will be completed in 10 years. That's the worldwide collection.

The indexing, which is necessary before you can search these records, is done by volunteers, checked and double checked, will take longer. There's just one problem. At the current rate the volunteers are working it will take 300 YEARS.

You don't have to be a member of the LDS Church to volunteer to index. You don't have to go to a Family History Center. You can do it from the comfort of your home. You need a computer and internet access. You don't have to have a fast internet access. You can chose to work offline but you will need the connection to download the software, download the projects and upload them when you are done.

There is a time limit for each project but if you can commit an hour over the week after you download a project you are fine. Some projects take less than than that but that's the time they suggest. And once the project is indexed and goes through the checking process it goes online.

To volunteer go to Sign up and download the software. I strongly suggest you view the training even if you find it simple. The main reason is there are a few instructions in there on the rules for handling specific situations such as when you can't read the handwriting [and obviously you will encounter this issue]. At the end you'll find you can actually download the training file and the "handout" for future reference.

If you need help there are FAQS and resources and a forum. The forums are a separate signup although you can use the same name as your indexing user name if you wish.

If you are reading this I assume you read English but if you read other languages remember this is a worldwide project and records come in all languages.

If every genealogist and historian volunteered for one project - one hour - a week it would have an impact on the timeline for completion. What are you waiting for?

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Quilt

When the weather starts to turn, too cool for just a sheet, not cool enough for a blanket, I drag out my old quilt. As I did so this year I thought it was looking pretty tired. It is fraying, has some holes through one layer, has some spots and is yellowing. But it is still in one piece and still does its job. My friend Betty, who is a quilter, sent me something to soak it in that took out a lot of the spots and the yellow. Smells strange but it did a nice job.

Get a new one? Not a chance. I have been dragging that quilt around all my adult life. I slept under it long ago in college. I wrapped up in it in my chilly apartment in Chicago. I still sleep under it at various times even though it is too small for the bed.

The quilt is a double wedding ring, obviously made for a double bed. I remember my grandmother pulling it from a pile of old and unused quilts in the back of the closet. She said she made it when she married. Back then they still had quilting bees as entertainment in the winter. She had one that was made of scraps, literally, a hodgepodge of fabrics and shapes. Many scraps had someone's name embroidered on them. It was interesting but some of the scraps were wool and my skin doesn't like wool. So I ended up with this quilt.

My grandmother married on January 19, 1910, over 100 years ago. I should look as good as the quilt when I am that age.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Pictures, More Story

We have pondered last week's picture for more than a dozen years. For some reason it has always intrigued me. Sometimes you just need to put it aside. When you go back and ask the question again someone might have the answer. Or your brain may just kick in.

What's event? My sister's idea is likely the correct answer, Edward Daniel Ryan's birthday, what would be his last one, July 14, 1950. We already knew it was taken in the summer of 1950 and that would make sense as the reason.

Where are the rest of the relatives then? I have literally thousands of pictures. The original picture came from my files - although there are multiple copies of it around. But I had not seen these two from Tessa Rasnick, a great great granddaughter of Lillie and Edward. She sent them to me sometime in the last year and I hadn't really gotten to them [because there was another interesting picture in the group]. They are before her mother's time but her great grandmother Mary Ryan Veech is in the pictures.

Here are Edward and Lillie Wood Ryan with all five of their then surviving children. Obviously this is the same day and location. Margaret, Mary, Lillie, Ethel, Edward, Cora [partially hidden], Wilford.

And here are more people, not too many of the men - and this was before tv - and more children. Of the males I only know my uncle Orville, last one on the left. All my older cousins are in the picture but I am missing as is my aunt Patricia, soon to be a bride.

Now I wonder if there are more pictures of that day hiding in a box in the back of a closet somewhere.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Final Four - Who Are They?

This picture, taken during my lifetime, continues to baffle me. I am looking for the final four pieces in the puzzle. 

I can date the picture by the oldest and youngest. Edward Daniel Ryan died at Christmas 1950 and the infant is Jacqueline Green, born October 1949, making this warm weather after May 1950. From the background I would guess it was taken at Emagene Veech Green's home in the country between Mt. Pulaski and Illiopolis.

There are 19 relatives in this picture. I identified 13. Emagene Green was able to identify two more. That leaves four we don't know and yet we know they are almost undoubtedly descendants of Benjamin B. and Sarah Lucas Wood or the spouse of a descendant.

Back row, Irma Mae Ryan Sapp, Margaret Ryan Rentchler Graul, Janet Downing Rubin, Thelma Volle Downing, Vera Brown Downing, Ethel Ryan Downing, no clue, no clue, Bessie Wood Meade, Cora Ryan Lipp, no clue, Marie Wood Havener Heard, Mary Ryan Veech.

Front row, Betty Downing Rothwell Atwood, Lillie Wood Ryan, no clue, Edward Daniel Ryan, Emagene Veech Green, Jacqueline Green Kapper. I'm sure the two younger women in the front row got to sit because Emagene was holding a baby and Betty had had one in May.

Cora, Ethel, Mary and Margaret are among the 10 children of Lillie and Edward Ryan. The unknowns are not from their families. Bessie and Marie are daughters of Lillie's brother Caleb Wood and his wife Marcy Conaway. The unknowns may be connected to them.

And, I wonder, where are the men and the rest of the children. Without a doubt I was there. 

If you know the answer to this puzzle PLEASE let me know.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Take Your Books With You

I have a copy of Evidence Explained  which I bought when it came out in pdf. I have it on my computer for instant reference. I have copies of various other publications, either purchased, free online or that I bought and then scanned. It IS handy to have some of these reference books at your fingertips.

Have you thought about one of those reading devices that allows you read a book without a book? Most allow you to download a book instantly. Say you are researching at a library and realize you really need the census guide you saw at [chose your favorite retailer]. With one of these devices you can get it right now. The device may also read pdf and other formats that you may already own.

Those devices are nice but they are also pricey and are just one more piece of equipment to carry around.

Did you know you can download the app for those devices to your computer, laptop, netbook, iPad, even your smartphone? Did I mention the apps are all free? You could download them ALL to your laptop. Whether you chose one or all you can have the books - and access to more - but save money by using equipment you already have.

What devices you can use them with and what they can do varies as do the procedures and requirements. You can generally share between devices. With Amazon's Kindle, for example, you can read the book on your netbook at the library, make notes, then pick up where you left off - including the notes - at home on your desktop, then on your smartphone later.

Here are links to the three most popular readers. 

Barnes and Noble

Sunday, August 22, 2010


FamilySearch is constantly adding searchable records.

I tested their records for Cook County, Illinois. I note you cannot right click and save a section but if you have Windows 7 you can use the snipping tool. If you hover over a name you get more information, perhaps spouse, parents and/or children. And if it is a vital record you can order a copy from the Cook County Clerk.

It produced assorted birth, death and immigration records for the surname. I note they have not done a bang up job with the ethnic names or the foreign birthplaces so you need to be flexible. Needless to say, the document may not have spelled things correctly to begin with.

I then tried their Wisconsin records. Hovering produces information which can be copied.

I could not find a Civil War pension index card for my 2g grandfather - there is a widow's pension application and a dependent pension record. It's a work in progress and perhaps they haven't gotten to them.

You need to check back periodically to see if they have added a database you can use. You can also volunteer to help with the transcribing.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Back on February 1, 2010, I said GEDViewer, a genealogy program for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad, looked promising but couldn't handle a large database. The programmer David Knight sent me an email saying yes it could, that the limit is based on your device memory. For my 3G iPod Touch 12 generations is probably the max. [GEDviewer is not to be confused with Genviewer, a useful product by Mudcreek Software.]

I loaded the program on my iPod Touch. It imported my 10,000+ name database efficiently. I was surprised at the speed. More, I was surprised that it didn't eat all my iPod memory. In fact I hardly noticed. [How do they do that?]

I find GEDViewer to be better than FamViewer not to mention quite a bit cheaper. It is faster. When I open FamViewer it wants to import my gedcom which takes awhile. When I open GEDViewer it opens to my data.

When I had a question Knight responded promptly, not with a canned response but an actual answer.

Totally aside, FamViewer comes with a Kennedy family database. GEDViewer comes with a British royals database. I'm a Ricardian so I was delighted to have the British royals database.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spencer Turner Revisited

I have recently done more research on the Turners, not enough but more. Spencer Turner was one of the first settlers in DeWitt County, arriving in Wilson Township near Waynesville just east of Logan County in 1835. His parents had moved to Illinois in 1827 living first near Athens in Menard County, then Rocky Ford in Logan County, then to Waynesville in what became to DeWitt and eventually to Wapella.

From transcribed newspaper accounts of social goings on, which I read on the DeWitt County ILGenWeb site,  he apparently was not seriously damaged by being charged with murder and stiffing Abraham Lincoln. If I hadn't read the court record I would have strongly suspected the story was not factual or heavily embellished but no, it is true.

Spencer's stone in Sugar Grove Cemetery near Wapella does not look like that of a man who couldn't pay his legal bill. You can see the stone here. When his widow Nancy Hoblit died in 1900 she had three lots in the town of Wapella and an 80 acre farm.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Useful Tools Addendum

I have been a long time user of the Firefox browser but lately I have been using Chrome a lot. Both are free. Both have good and bad points. I think it is a personal thing. Safari, the browser from Apple, which you can use on a Windows computer, is visually interesting. It's on my iPod Touch. I have not figured out Opera. It's on my phone and I do plan to try it on my computer. I don't use Internet Explorer, mostly because it is the most prone to viruses but I think there is some rebellion there too. Some programs work better with some sites than others. If one isn't working well with a favorite site experiment with another. Yes you can use five browsers if you want. Web site managers generally have several.

Chrome has a slick add on that allows you to clip a page or part of a page and send it directly to Evernote. It integrates well with Evernote, just fill out the notebook and tags and it is gone. Firefox uses Evernote's clipper which has not worked all that well for me, not to mention it is always behind the current version. The two don't seem to be communicating. What? You are not using Evernote? You really are cheating yourself of an excellent free tool. I keep all my notes from everything in it. I don't know how people live without it.

Since I have scanned all my paper and saved it in pdf I am now looking for a program to read and manipulate pdf documents. I originally used Adobe Acrobat Pro, a good but expensive program from a less than supportive company. My version isn't working well with Windows 7 and I really don't want to buy the upgrade. I have used NitroPDF reader and PrimoPDF to print. I tried the entire suite but I had problems with it, probably more related to me than it since I insist on using WordPerfect and they use Word. [It's a bigger issue than you would imagine and seems to be getting worse. Think Corel v. Microsoft.] I'd prefer not to have six programs. If you have suggestions let me know.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scanning Update

Ok, Ms. Smarty Pants, are your files perfect someone asked? Nope. And my system is not perfect to begin with, rather it is one that works for me and may work for you.

In my defense I have computer files dating back to 1987. Most have had had their file form changed a couple times. I used WordPerfect then - and still do - but I didn't have Windows. I don't remember if they had Windows yet at that time. Yes, hard to believe. These days when I have time I convert non photo files to pdf and try to rename them at that time.

I also have multiple lines with the same name. I have maternal and paternal Wood lines, unrelated. Ditto Harding and others. There are the Downings who were unrelated until about 1855 when they began intermarrying. Then there are common ancestors where I have multiple lines of descent. Abraham Lucas and David Clark [the mystery man who never got out of New Jersey] are two examples.

You need to make a basic plan, using logic that makes sense to you and that you can remember, and adapt it to your situation as these things arise. Consistency is the most important element.

How are the pictures coming? I have maybe - maybe - half of the boxed photos scanned. We are talking literally thousands of pictures. Only a small portion are named. I have an idea for the that when the scanning is done. I have found duplicates and pictures that there is no reason to save - I had a fine time when I first got a digital camera. Not all of the pictures are genealogically related of course.

I have found some amazing old photos I didn't even know I had. There are people I don't know who are probably related. There are people I don't know but I am certain they are not related. And there are so many photos of one cute little girl that even I am getting tired of her. At this point I feel like just scanning and naming all the pictures will keep me busy until at least 2025. And with the SnapScan the scanning is now easy.

Why name in the same order, ie, surname, first name, type, date, location? One reason is to make sure you put everything in the name. Another useful reason is to sort them. Example, if named properly the following files will sort as follows:

Downing John census 1790 Westmoreland Pennsylvania.pdf
Downing John census 1810 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John census 1820 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John census 1830 Logan Illinois.pdf
Downing John land 1803 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John land 1821 Logan Illinois.pdf

and so on. It makes it handy to see what you have.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Digital Organizing

You've been scanning away. Time to organize. If you follow the outlines of this flexible system you will always be able to find your digital documents. Pictures are a separate topic.

I use an external hard plugged into a USB port for my genealogy. It keeps my genealogy all in one place, can be easily removed and taken with me if needed and - this is important - it gets automatically backed up with my offsite backup procedure. It also makes it easier to create your own filing system because you don't have to fight with your operating system's idea of where things should be filed.

Name your people files in the following manner: birth surname, first name, type date location. An example: Downing William census 1860 Chester.pdf. I suggest you stick to surname then first name. If you want a different order for the other information that's fine. There is no right or wrong. You are the one who has to find the documents later. Just be consistent.

The key, at least in my experience, is to be consistent. Consistency trumps just about everything. If you use a numbering system the number should be the first word in the file name. I don't use a numbering system. It's just one more thing to organize and remember but if a numbering system works for you do it.

Make eight directories, one for each birth surname of your great grandparents. Keep in mind that if you are doing this for your children that would 16 directories. Put everything pertaining to that ancestor in that folder. If you have a lot of information on ancestors prior to your great grandparents you may chose to make a separate directory for additional surnames. It doesn't matter how many directories you make. This is digital. You have the room. Do what works for you.

I hear you. What about great grandmother Jane who was born a Smith and married a Jones? Put her in Smith. If you want to put a copy in Jones go for it. It's digital. Duplicates aren't an issue.

Also make directories for cemeteries, census, birth, marriage, death, land, etc. If you collect funeral cards make one for those. My census file has subdirectories for each federal census. A copy of all census documents I have is in that directory. Another copy of the individual page is in the appropriate surname directory. For documents in these files the name might be 1880 Census Illinois Logan Laenna.pdf. Illinois is obviously the state, Logan is the county and Laenna is the township. Using spaces between words makes it easier to find them through a digital search if needed.

Get the idea?

Now go to and download the free Search Everything. If you goofed in spelling but you included all the elements you can search on any one of the elements and find the file.If you misfiled it you can still find it. Search Everything only searches files on your computer, including the drives attached by USB. It will not search network attached storage or home servers.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Casefile Clues

There are a lot of blogs out there, good, bad and indifferent. Some feel they have to write something every day whether they have something to say or not. Some get paid to write. Some blogs have paid sponsors. Some of us just write when we have something we want to share, no schedule.

Casefile Clues
is written by Michael John Neill. He writes one a week about his research. Most of the specific issues, like post Civil War immigration, are totally irrelevant to my research but there is something to learn in watching his process as he moves along. He calls it a casestudy.

He doesn't have a staff. His day job is math teacher. There are typos and mistakes and the blog may be late but he always catches up. There are no ads, he has no agenda and he is not pushing any company. I find it a refreshing.

I also really like his genealogy tip of the day at You can subscribe to those free by RSS feed in your feed reader. They always give you something to think about, probably something you have not thought about, or at least not in that way.

Neill also leads research trips to Salt Lake City and Ft. Wayne and he speaks at genealogy societies.

Friday, May 07, 2010

ScanSnap 3 - Photos

I put nearly 200 photos through the ScanSnap in less than an hour while I was talking on the phone the other morning. It pretty much does everything for you. I feed them through individually after sorting a bit by size. It seems to work best if the guides are adjusted to the size of the picture but after the first couple that is pretty mindless. It scanned both sides if there was anything on the back at all. Some of the photos I put through are least 80 years old.

In some cases it assigned a number to the scanned pictures which would indicate the front and back are together and in some cases it didn't. I didn't feel it necessary to spend time trying to figure that out.

I have no idea how many pictures I have. There are more in that box and I have two additional larger boxes. I easily have 2,000 more. It won't happen overnight but I am now confident I will get them done. It's much easier and faster with the ScanSnap than the flatbed scanner I was trying to use [which is perfect for stacks of single sided pages and does legal size] and does not require as much of my attention.

After the pictures are scanned I spend time renaming them with names to indicate who is in the picture. Those that I have no idea or not enough information keep their scanner assigned number which makes them stand out as unidentified. It is easy to work with them in the ScanSnap Organizer although you don't have to use it.

All my pictures are saved to a 1 TB NAS drive, that is a large drive attached to my router and available from any computer [or iPod or SmartPhone] on my network. There Picasa automatically begins working on the face recognition. Read about that here. It does some amazing things, sometimes telling me who is in the unknown pictures.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

ScanSnap 2

I have worked with the ScanSnap with pictures this week. Unfortunately I haven't had enough time in the last week to put it through all its paces but I am impressed so far. I put some snapshots of scenery through it first just in case. This also gave me a chance to play with the settings, see how everything worked. They did well. I progressed, eventually getting to a 1920s photo in good shape. I was quite pleased. I don't believe I would put the original 1862 wedding picture of my great great grandparents through it but since I have "new" copy of that I have no problem. I should point out that most of my old photos are in pretty good shape. If a photo was fragile or delicate in any way I would not put it through a sheet feed scanner.

This week I also took the binding off a paper bound genealogy book and fed it through. The hardest part was cutting off the binding, both mentally and physically. I had a hard time tearing up a book. It wasn't that easy to remove the pages either. You need to remove all the glue bits, jagged edges, etc. I called someone who has done before and he recommended a high tech device -- use my band saw. I also note that heavier paper, such as the cover of many paper bound books, does not feed well or in some cases not at all.

Where did I get the ScanSnap? It's available in a lot of places. is a good place to start for many things. I suggest you search for it online and see what the going price is when you are thinking of buying. These things vary from week to week. For example, when I first began considering the ScanSnap there was only the 300 in the color duplexing portable department. Now there is the 1300 which is a bit better and a bit cheaper. And there are other models.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Scan Like It Is 2010

The ScanSnap is a small portable scanner that does double sided copying in one pass. According to Fujitsu's web site it is the world's smallest duplexing scanner. It can operate off your laptop without a separate power source if necessary. In theory you could scan documents anywhere, at least until the laptop battery ran out.

Sounds good but I wasn't interested, in part because the capacity of the ADF is "up to 10 sheets." I rarely seem to have a document of only ten pages. And it is pricey, particularly when I have a perfectly good scanner.

However, although I had scanned most of my paper I still had two oversized file drawers of double sided pages. I could come up with no efficient way to scan them so I broke down and ordered the ScanSnap S1300. I'm only sorry I waited so long. Within days of its arrival I had totally eliminated the two drawers of scanning and shredded or recycled the paper.

The ScanSnap scans at eight pages a minute color, 16 pages black and white. That would be eight pages, both sides, but it is remarkably fast. And the 10 page limit on the automatic document feeder is simply not true. You can add to the pile as it goes so you can fill the ADF, let it most of them and add more pages which will all end up in the same document. Even if it stops it gives you the option of proceeding from that point.

It takes pages up 8.5 by 14.17 which is more than legal size. Those old wills and other legal documents are no problem. [No, I did not shred those after scanning.]

Mine came bundled with software file manager software which allows you to scan to file, email, fax, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, a picture file, a printer. Or you can scan to my all time favorite program Evernote and have your word searchable documents available to you on any computer, online, on many smart phones and you iPod Touch.

You can scan in business cards and a program reads them. Your documents are read by a version of ABBYY Fine Reader. You can straighten documents. There is a Rack2-Filer program to organize your documents. Depending on which version of the scanner package you buy that may be a trial version.

I own Adobe Acrobat Pro and the full version of ABBYY so I have not tried the bundled software. Their system, at least in the ScanSnap Organizer, is simple and easy to use. I sometimes used it for a temporary holding system before moving the document to my own system. I concentrated on scanning and making sure I had all the pages. I didn't always name the files. I will go back and do that as time permits, might check out their software then.

One thing that is a bit of an issue is paper exit. You put the pages in the automatic document feeder. When they come out they have no bin to go to so they shoot across the table, desk, etc. I found working on a kitchen island to be ideal for that. You could rig up a tray to catch the paper if needed. It's a small price to pay for a portable scanner.

The ScanSnap allows greater flexibility in putting different size documents through without issue. It's just more convenient. I'll let you know how it does on my next big project - pictures.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Genealogy Podcasts

Genealogy podcasts can be useful and educational. I listen to several, some current, some no longer active, while walking. I always learn something, even from those that don't sound all that interesting.

You can listen on your computer or any music player that plays MP3 format. It's very convenient. The problem is if you listen on your MP3 player or in your car or any other place away from your computer or desk, you can't make notes on what is said and you can't possibly recall all the things you wanted to remember later.

Some podcasts have "show notes" online. However, if you are listening to an older podcast [older may mean a year] the show notes are gone or outdated. This is understandable but a problem.

Podcasts come and go. It's a lot of work to come up with something fresh every week. There is no good current list. Not even Cyndi has them all. There is a personality factor. Some of these podcasters may just not appeal to you. Others are fine but after awhile you might get tired of their idea of humor.

You can google "genealogy podcasts" as a starting place for locating podcasts. One that is less obvious but I have found interesting is the Online Programming for All Libraries [OPAL]. It is not strictly genealogy but there may be something for you at their website You can also view the presentations online with slides.

Friday, March 26, 2010

FamViewer Genealogy App

One of the things I miss most about my Palm is having my TMG database available. I read about the [limited number of] genealogy apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone and checked each one out. A huge red flag was the limit in database size.

FamViewer, the most expensive at $14.99, did not seem to have a limit and reviewers commented that it didn't. They also commented that it was easy. I confess, due to the price [it is expensive as Apple Apps go] I waited several weeks before I decided to give it a try.

My file contains over 10,000 names and yes, I uploaded them all. That tells you it worked. Is it easy? Yes it is but getting it set up requires some prep time. I advise going to the company's website and reading the limited instructions. The limited instructions almost changed my mind. I'm glad it didn't.

The first thing you need is Bonjour on your computer. Unless you are using an Apple computer it isn't likely to be there. Not only am I using a PC, it is a 64 bit and I run Windows 7. A little research turned up that this would not be a problem. I downloaded the proper file. However, when I went to install it I was asked if I wanted to "repair" or "remove." Some application had installed a small version on my computer. It's almost always easiest to remove and start over which is what I did.

The next thing you need is a GEDCOM of your file exported from your genealogy software. That took awhile, quite awhile, due to my large file.

Following the instructions, which were very clear, I uploaded the file. It took seconds. My entire file seems to be there. Although it is a GEDCOM it has many of the events as well as notes and sources. It may not be my complete file but it is probably enough information to travel with.

In the end I uploaded the file using the Windows by IP address method rather than Bonjour because I use that method for other apps and it seemed easier at the time.

You can also enter notes into the program on any person. These notes, of course, do not magically migrate to your genealogy database but you can email them, individually or in batches, to yourself so you can add them to your database when you get to it. They remain on your iPod Touch/iPhone until you are ready for them.

How much space does that database take? Apparently not much. I didn't make a note but I had commented to a friend regarding how much free space I had the day before. She was concerned about filling hers up. I said I didn't think it would be easy, that I still had 20+ GB free. After installation I still have 20+ GB free and I also downloaded another app, some podcasts and some additional music.

And I now have my genealogy with me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Great Picture Viewer

I am using Windows 7. I had tried Media Center in Vista but it was mostly an unpleasant experience. Win 7 was no better and I wrote it off. Then I discovered Media Center is meant to be manipulated with a remote control rather than a keyboard and mouse. After dithering for several months I ordered a remote for Windows Media Center. They seem to run between $12 and $25. I don't know anything about them, chose the $18 variety.

Oh my! I opened my picture folder. I quickly learned I could make the picture the size of the screen which in my case is 22" - which translates to 18.5 by 12. I quickly spotted details I had not noticed before. A little more playing and I found I could zoom in more and then once more. I can pan the picture, left, right, up and down. It's great for group shots.

A long mysterious group shot containing quite a few relatives now can be seen to have background details virtually invisible before which might provide clues to the location of the event. I was able to study faces a lot better and have tentatively identified two more people.

Imagine doing this on a large flat screen television. I did not notice any distortion in going from the standard size from full screen. Who knows what one might discover.

You can also view videos, play music, even view and record tv assuming you have a tv tuner or have cable hooked up. I did run into trouble when I tried to access photos on my network attached storage which works well with other programs. I have not had time to look into that.

Media Center is part of the OS in Vista and Windows 7.

Monday, February 01, 2010

iPod Touch as a Genealogy Tool

For years I depended on my Palm personal digital assistant [PDA] to keep me organized and keep all my information at my fingertips. My Palm contained my entire database from The Master Genealogist, every single fact.

Software changed. Palm changed. I was left without a PDA and was unsuccessful in my search for an appropriate replacement. I thought my Blackberry Smartphone would do it but it doesn't.

Recently I bought an iPod Touch. Basically it's an iPhone without the phone or camera. It has my calendar, my contacts, applications, music and pictures. Podcasts like Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems and genealogy lectures from iTunes U are "other" under music. You could add tv shows and movies although I can't imagine watching any on the 2 x 3.5" screen.

One of the first apps I downloaded was Evernote. I don't know how people live without it. I keep all my genealogy notes in it. On the iPod Touch you can make notes but you need the internet to see your stored notes and to sync. This is also true of Dropbox, another application. If you put a file in your Dropbox you can see it on you iPod Touch when you have wi-fi. The iPod Touch has wi-fi but you need a wi-fi source to use the internet. When you have that the internet is your oyster. More and more places have wi-fi internet these days.

I downloaded several pdf reader apps, found one that works for me called pdf Reader, and uploaded Michael John Neill's Casefile Clues collection to the iPod Touch. I wouldn't want to read a book [you can though - in fact there is a Kindle app] but blogs and such work quite well. The pdf files are stored on the iPod Touch - no wi-fi required.

I'm not impressed with the genealogy apps at the moment. Although GEDViewer looks promising it cannot handle more than 2-3,000 names. I'm sure it is just a matter of time until one I like comes along.

You can record voice memos too.

The virtual keyboard takes a bit of getting used to but I have become an accomplished one finger typist. Think of the hours I wasted learning to type correctly!

If it had a camera and continuous internet connection it would be about perfect. Oh wait, that's an iPhone. I suspect there's one in my future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Information, More Questions

When I had entered my notes on the Wood/Rice research and was checking to make sure I had everything done I remembered that I owned an Illiopolis history. It was put together for the 2006 sesquicentennial of the town by the same Mary Ann Kaylor who tracked down and transcribed the Pritchett Funeral Records. For several years she was the County Coordinator of the Sangamon County ILGenWeb site.

I looked up Charles McCorkle, he who married Hattie Wood. On p. 89 in a section where Mary Ann collected items from old newspapers, I found that “Mrs. Charley McCorkle, Miss Louesa Rice and Elmer Rice spent Friday in Springfield.” Unfortunately there is no date but it is in the 1923-1934 section.

I also learned in the same section that “After spending a month visiting friends and relatives in this community, Mr. and Mrs. Charley McCorkle returned to their home near Alexandria, Indiana, early Saturday morning.”

Later on I learned that McCorkle was a member of and made tables for the new Christian Church in 1905 and that he had been a janitor in an Illiopolis school.

It gets better.

Also working at the school was Sanders Rice. Remember, Hattie Wood McCorkle’s mother was a Rice. Those Rices weren’t from the same county area and the census does not list other Rices in the area. But I do know Sanders Rice. He was married to Lovina Wood, my great grandaunt from my maternal Wood line.

In the course of tracking this down I located Emily Rice Wood Beason living with a Beason son whose name I cannot make out, possibly Oscar, born June 1881 and Cline McCorkle, born May 1889, grandson, but not with Joseph Beason on the 1900 census. He is a boarder in town. Obviously a split. Did she also split from William Wood? Is that what caused her to use her maiden name when marrying Beason?

The more you learn the more questions you have.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Give Me An Hour

Earlier this week when I found myself with a free hour I decided to work a question in my genealogy. It couldn’t take more than an hour or so and had to be doable free online.

I chose my paternal grandmother’s family which I have not ignored but have not done much work on. I knew her parents’ names and had information on her mother’s line. I turned to her father’s line, a painfully common name and a puzzle. To complicate matters, in my maternal line and in the same geographic area I have the same common name. I had tracked the line far enough to know the paternal Wood line is not related to the maternal Wood line which I have back nearly 300 years.

Wilma Wood married Robert Rothwell on January 1, 1923. She was the daughter of William Tobias Wood and Eva Nora Bozarth of Illiopolis, Sangamon County, Illinois. I had William Tobias’ death certificate and the marriage record indicating they had married February 17, 1889, in Illiopolis. I knew the state database had a typo on the date. I had tracked back into the Bozarth line a couple generations a few years ago.

Wood was a puzzle. I knew he was born August 23, 1863, in Shelby County, Illinois. I knew that his parents were William Wood Sr. and Emily Rice. I knew that did not mean William Sr. was named Tobias but it might. I knew from the 1860 Shelby County census that Emily’s father was Nathan Rice. I knew William Wood did not appear on the 1870 census although Emily did with William Tobias. Emily appears in the household of Joseph Beason in 1880 with William Tobias listed as his stepson.

I knew a William Wood had served in the Civil War, age 22 in 1863, Pvt., Company F, 5th Illinois US Calvary, who mustered in at Effingham County and mustered out at Springfield in 1865. Emily also had a daughter Hattie Wood who was 13 on the 1880 census - although she does not appear on the 1870 census. This would suggest William Wood returned from the Civil War, fathered a daughter and died between 1866 and 1870. A Civil War pension search is on the to do list.

Using the online Illinois State Archives marriage database I found the marriage of Emily [listed as Rice, not Wood] and Joseph Beason. Using the death database I found Emily’s death on April 27, 1927. Joseph Beason must have died before 1916 when death certificates were required and had to be recorded with the state.

Using the Sangamon County ILGenWeb site I found that Emily was buried at Riverside Cemetery. The Pritchett Funeral Records transcription by Mary Ann Kaylor on the same site indicate Emily's age at death as 83 years, 2 months and 13 days. Using an online birth date calculator I got a birth date of February 14, 1844.

The same records list Emily’s parents as Nathan Rice and [unknown first name] Little. Back to the Illinois State Archives databases where I found Nathan Rice married Emily Little on March 13, 1828, in Shelby County, Illinois. Presumably there were children born between the marriage in 1828 and Emily’s birth in 1844 who are just waiting to be found. While I was there I found a Hattie Wood married a Charles H. McCorkle in Sangamon County on March 28, 1886. On another day I’ll tell why I’m sure that is my great grandaunt.

Lots more to go but in a little over an hour I was able to find plenty of new leads to check out free online.