31 July 2010

Emergency Chain (52 Weeks to Better Genealogy, no.30)

This week's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy challenge was 'Create an emergency chain. If you are unable to get online for a significant period of time, how will you let everyone know? This challenge was inspired by Hurricane Ike and 14 days without power.'

I asked two close friends who are familiar with the Internet to be my 'emergency chain':
  1. I will ensure that my 'chain members' - can I call them my 'chain gang'? (wicked grin) - always have my current postal address, telephone number, and main and alternative email addresses.
  2. I will let them know if I will be without Internet access for more than a couple of weeks. If I am silent for an unusually long time, I hope they will check whether I am OK.
  3. In case they are unable to contact me, I have given them my sisters' phone numbers.
  4. I will ask them to inform the genealogical community, in whatever way they think appropriate, when I go to meet my ancestors in Heaven.
  5. I have given my sisters a printed page entitled 'In the event of my death' (which includes instructions on how to access my email accounts). I will update that page to include contact details for the friends in my Emergency Chain.
  6. In my electronic calendar I have set periodic reminders to check that the details I have given everyone are current.
('52 Weeks to Better Genealogy' is a series of tasks devised by Amy Coffin for Geneabloggers.)

26 July 2010

What I Do: Technology I use

I was interested to see what technology other people use. Here is my list (yes, I know I am behind the times!)

* Hardware: desktop PC + notebook PC (Windows XP).
* External storage: CDs + a few 2GB/4GB USB flashdrives.
* Online storage: AOL email account; Blogger; Rootsweb Freepages/WorldConnect. I may try Mozy.
* Backup: CD/flashdrive/paper *in another town* in case of a local disaster.
* Virus protection: AVG free recommended by computer repairman.
* Printer: Brother HL2040 laser (b/w) + HP Deskjet (colour).
* Phone: landline + Nokia mobile without a camera.
* Browser: Firefox + Internet Explorer 7.
* Blog: Blogger.
* RSS: Mozilla Thunderbird + Google Reader in IE7.
* FTP: WS_FTP + sometimes FileZilla.
* Text editor: Windows Wordpad.
* Screen capture: PrintKey.
* Social media: Facebook.
* Social bookmarking: None yet.
* Social profile: Blogger.
* URL shortener: TinyUrl.
* Office suite: Microsoft Office 2007 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint).
* E-mail: Eudora.
* Calendar: Lotus Organiser (came with computer) + mobile phone.
* Accounting: QuickBooks.
* PDF generator: PDF995 (free; works nicely with Word).
* Genealogy database: TMG (The Master Genealogist) v.7 Gold edition. With this I use SecondSite2 (creates Web pages from TMG data) and TMG Utility. Before TMG I used Relatively Yours.
* Genealogy tools: ParLoc2 (parish locator).
* Other tech stuff:
- My scanner died so I use a digital camera (Canon Powershot A100).
- Treepad (great little programme to file bits and pieces).
- PowerDesk (file manager for Windows).
- Diskeeper Lite (free defragmenter).
-Webpage generator = me! Apart from blogs and family tree pages from TMG, I create my Web site by writing the HTML in Wordpad.

25 July 2010

10 Things I Can't Live Without

In the discussion ('meme') 10 Things I Can't Live Without (related to genealogy), nine of Elyse's ten things require a computer. My list is very different - possibly because I did most of my research in the 1970s/80s! Genealogy is certainly easier and more fun if you have a computer, email, the Internet, and the ability to visit local libraries or LDS Family History Centres - but a lot can be accomplished without them. Just ask any genealogist who is a full-time carer or physically unable to get out and about.

I am often without a computer for a week or so, but I can still work on my family tree if I have:
  1. The family history 'book' that I wrote on a typewriter in the 1980s. It has a lot of my data, detailed source references and a bibliography.
  2. Address book and Correspondence log (I can write letters on paper to relatives or repositories); 'Style sheet' to remind me how my filing system works; 'Where Is It?' index book.
  3. Small magnifier; 2B pencils; enclosed pencil sharpener (so I can put it in my pocket at repositories); good quality coil-bound notebook (A5 or A4); 4-ring binders and copysafe page protectors.
  4. Camera. Preferably digital, but an old SLR and a roll of film will do.
  5. Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets. With these I take a summary of names, dates, places etc to repositories where I cannot take a computer.
  6. Maps, including the Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas of Great Britain. It shows rivers, hills etc that may influence where people went to market, church etc, and has a good place name index.
  7. The Macquarie Book of Events (Bryce Fraser). I can put my ancestors' lives in context if I know what was happening in Australia. The book covers Discovery, Settlement, People, Transport, Communications, Industries, Trade, Taxes, the Economy, Work Force, Regal/Vice-Regal, Politics, Law, Defence, Education, Religion, Health, Social Welfare, Science, the Environment, Arts, Disasters, Sport.
  8. Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History (Mark D. Herber).
  9. The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. Parish maps, topographical maps, location of parish registers/indexes (England, Scotland, Wales).
  10. Newspapers in Australian Libraries: a union list. Part 2: Australian newspapers. Often quicker than the Internet if you want to know what newspapers were published when/where and the location of copies.
Before I go travelling without a computer, I use my genealogy software (The Master Genealogist + SecondSite) to create (on a USB flash drive) a family tree in HTML format. I omit living people for privacy reasons. If I am visiting friends or a public library, I can usually look at my tree (which is just a series of Web pages) on their computer.

What would you put on a 'Top Ten' list of things you need for genealogy?

24 July 2010

Favourite Web sites (NEHGS survey)

A survey at Genea-Musings invited us to rank eight Web sites in order of importance to our research. As I don't use http://www.newenglandancestors.org/ or http://www.usgenweb.org/ and rarely use http://www.footnote.com, I have substituted sites that are important to me.

1) http://www.google.com/ - Google Alerts (try it!); searching; Blogger
2) http://www.rootsweb.com/ - mailing lists; WorldConnect; Freepages; guides
3) http://www.genuki.org.uk/ - best starting point for UK/Ireland
4) http://www.CyndisList.com/ - best list of genealogy links worldwide
5) http://www.findmypast.co.uk - better databases than Ancestry
6) http://trove.nla.gov.au/ - searchable digitised Australian newspapers
7) http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/ - databases
8) http://www.familysearch.org/ - lots of good stuff

I'm sorry, but I cannot bring myself to rank Ancestry.com in the Top 8, because its indexing is often woefully inaccurate. Other sites that deserve a Highly Commended are LostCousins (http://www.lostcousins.com/) and CuriousFox (http://www.curiousfox.org/ for USA, http://www.curiousfox.com/ for UK/ Ireland).

Reading Handwriting (52 Weeks to Better Genealogy, no.29)

Challenge no.29 was Practice reading handwriting. Deciphering the penmanship of our ancestors is an exercise in patience, but this is a great skill to have.

Family historians love indexes, but most indexing errors arise from difficulty in interpreting handwriting. If the first letter of the name is indexed incorrectly, you will not find that entry unless you 'think outside the box'. To help you do this, my Web page on using and compiling indexes has examples of letters that are commonly misinterpreted and names that have been incorrectly indexed. It also warns of other indexing mistakes, such as incorrect sorting of names, listing a person's middle name instead of their surname, listing 'Senior' or 'Junior' as a surname, etc. (I was honoured when Shauna Hicks recommended this page in her book Family History on the Cheap.)

Ancestry's index got it wrong!
There is always something new to learn, but indexing tens of thousands of names from old documents at Queensland State Archives has given me lots of practice. About 51,000 of those names are on my Web site.

('52 Weeks to Better Genealogy' is a series of tasks devised by Amy Coffin for Geneabloggers.)

07 July 2010

03 July 2010

Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century

On Blogger's Dashboard, on the 'Blogs of Note' tab in 'Reading List', I rarely find anything of interest to me. This week I did. Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century has some excellent photographs. Can you find similar moustaches (that's how we spell it in Australia) in your own family photographs?

02 July 2010

Google Books (52 Weeks to Better Genealogy. No.26)

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy is a series of tasks devised by Amy Coffin for Geneabloggers. Challenge no.26 was 'Take a stroll through Google Books. Most of us have probably used Google Books in our genealogy research, but have you really taken the time to explore what's there?'

I had used Google Books before, but I had never looked at their section for Magazines, so I started by searching there for ancestry OR genealogy. 'Ancestry Magazine' dominated the search results. To make it easier to find more obscure titles, I changed my search terms to ancestry OR genealogy -"ancestry magazine".

My most interesting find was an article in 'Life' Magazine, 3 Apr 1950, p.89. It is about 81-year-old Gertrude HANSON (in the USA), who combined her hobbies (genealogy and hooking rugs) to produce a beautiful carpet for her stairs. It depicts family houses (with dates) and churches associated with the family. There is a photograph of Mrs. HANSON and the carpet.

I also found references to 'The Rotarian' (official magazine of Rotary International). The August 1980 edition says that the newsletter 'Rota-Gene' provided up-to-date information on genealogical resources and a query section in which members could exchange information.
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