29 September 2011

Genealogists for Families: keeping the memory alive (Thankful Thursday)

For as long as I can remember, my father set aside a small sum of money that he would periodically lend to a hard-working person in need of short-term help. We called it his 'Do Good Money'. Dad passed away last year at the age of ninety, and I want to honour his memory by continuing his tradition. I have just found an easy way to do so.

Carole recommended Kiva, a non-profit organisation that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income 'entrepreneur' across the globe. You choose who to lend to, and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. This is a simple and sustainable way to empower someone to support their family and lift themselves out of poverty. As your money is repaid you can either withdraw it or lend it again.

In the very unlikely event of a loan not being repaid, I can easily afford to think of the $25 as a donation. To me, $25 is a few takeaway lunches or coffees, which I would not miss. For the borrower, it may be equivalent to a fortnight's income. Micro-loans are also a good way of using money I earn from online surveys (which will be the subject of a future blog post).

The first four borrowers I chose to support were Janina in Peru (sewing), Leonora in the Philippines (rug-making), Roberto in El Salvador (food production/sales) and the 'Por un Futuro Mejor' (For a Better Future) communal bank (ten women involved in agriculture in Ecuador). By the time you read this, my sisters and I will have added to that list.

You are warmly invited to join the Kiva lending team named 'Genealogists for Families', whose slogan is 'We loan because... we care about families (past, present and future).'
  1. Register with Kiva and join the team.

  2. Make a loan. If you do not have a spare $25 yet, join now and when you do make a loan it will be automatically linked to the team's efforts.

  3. To publicise your Web site or online family tree, enter its address in 'My Website' on your Kiva Lender Page.
The fun part is choosing a borrower. Use the map, check boxes and advanced options to narrow down the field; look at each person's story and photograph; then choose one that feels special to you.

Checkout and payment are quick, easy and secure. (If you have not heard of Paypal, I can recommend them. I have used them for business and personal transactions for many years.)

If you enjoy your experience with Kiva, please invite others to join the team. Let's show the world that family historians can make a difference! I hope you will share your experiences and suggestions by leaving a comment below.

('Thankful Thursday' is a theme used by Geneabloggers to express gratitude for anything that has had a positive impact on our lives.)

22 September 2011

Genealogy and Technology - my list for the meme

If new technology will save me a significant amount of time or make me a better family historian, I am happy to use it. If it won't, or if it is beyond my budget, I make no apology for sticking to traditional methods.

After reading the responses to the original list by Geniaus and the expanded list by John Newmark, I am relieved to see that I am not the only one with a low 'tech savvy' score. My list (below) is annotated as follows:

* Things I have already done / found = bold type
* Things I would like to do / find = italics
* Things I haven't done / found and don't care = plain type
* My comments are in [square brackets].
  1. Own an Android or Windows tablet or an iPad
  2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes
  3. Used Skype for genealogy purposes
  4. Used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor's home
  5. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree [The Master Genealogist]
  6. Have a Twitter account [JudyQld, where I share genealogy tips, not trivia]
  7. Tweet daily
  8. Have a genealogy blog
  9. Have more than one genealogy blog [Updated - now eight! Genealogy Leftovers; Updates Genie; Queensland Genealogy; UK/Australia Genealogy; Yorkshire Genealogy; Jottings, Journeys and Genealogy; Genealogists for Families; and Outback Story]
  10. Have lectured/presented to a genealogy group on a technology topic [as a small segment in a talk on 'Who Else is Researching My Family?']
  11. Currently an active member of Genealogy Wise
  12. Have a Facebook Account [but I prefer to use email to contact friends, and I find Twitter more useful for keeping up to date with genealogy news]
  13. Have connected with genealogists via Facebook
  14. Maintain a genealogy related Facebook Page [Queensland Genealogy]
  15. Maintain a blog or website for a genealogy society
  16. Have submitted text corrections online to Ancestry, Trove or a similar site
  17. Have registered a domain name [www.judywebster.com.au]
  18. Post regularly to Google+
  19. Have a blog listed on Geneabloggers [as per No.9 above]
  20. Have transcribed/indexed records for FamilySearch or a similar project [but I've indexed 51,000 names from archives and other sources and listed the names on my Web site]
  21. Own a Flip-Pal scanner
  22. Can code a webpage in .html [using a text editor; I keep the code simple so pages load quickly, and I can update them whenever I wish]
  23. Own a smartphone
  24. Have a personal subscription to one or more paid genealogy databases [FindMyPast]
  25. Use a digital voice recorder to record genealogy lectures
  26. Have contributed to a genealogy blog carnival
  27. Use Chrome as a Browser
  28. Have participated in a genealogy webinar
  29. Have taken a DNA test for genealogy purposes
  30. Have a personal genealogy website [on my own site and on WorldConnect]
  31. Have found mention of an ancestor in an online newspaper archive [Trove]
  32. Have tweeted during a genealogy lecture
  33. Have scanned your hardcopy genealogy files [most of them]
  34. Use an RSS Reader to follow genealogy news and blogs [I've tried Google Reader and Thunderbird but I generally just use the reading list on Blogger's dashboard]
  35. Have uploaded a GEDCOM file to a site like Geni, MyHeritage or Ancestry [to Rootsweb's WorldConnect, which, unlike Ancestry, is indexed by Google and allows anyone to contact me free of charge]
  36. Own a netbook [Acer Happy - 1.2kg - great for travelling]
  37. Use a computer/tablet/smartphone to take genealogy lecture notes
  38. Have a profile on LinkedIn that mentions your genealogy habit [I created a profile as an experiment, but I don't often use LinkedIn]
  39. Have developed a genealogy software program, app or widget
  40. Have listened to a genealogy podcast online
  41. Have downloaded genealogy podcasts for later listening [especially National Archives podcasts]
  42. Backup your files to a portable hard drive
  43. Have a copy of your genealogy files stored offsite [see Natural Disasters and Family History]
  44. Know about Rootstech
  45. Have listened to a Blogtalk radio session about genealogy
  46. Use Dropbox, SugarSync or other service to save documents in the cloud [I use Dropbox and Evernote to keep backups of my most important genealogy documents online.]
  47. Schedule regular email backups [every time I download emails]
  48. Have contributed to the FamilySearch Wiki
  49. Have scanned and tagged your genealogy photographs [most of them]
  50. Have published a genealogy book in an online/digital format.
I have only done four of John's extras:
  • Can code a webpage in .html using Notepad or any other text-only software [same as no.22 above]
  • Have a local library card that offers you home access to online databases, and you use that access [Brisbane City Council, State Library of Qld, National Library of Australia]
  • Brought a USB device to a microfilm repository so you could download instead of print
  • Started a Genealogy-related weekly blogging theme other geneabloggers participated in ['Thrifty Thursday']

Changing the subject slightly... One of John's items was 'Have used Photoshop or other editing software to clean up an old family photo'. Use caution if you do this. What if the position of a rip in a photo means that a facial scar is obliterated? 'Cleaning up' the photo may result in misleading information about that person's physical appearance.

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08 September 2011

More on Genealogy Conferences and Social Media Policy

I had such an overwhelming response to yesterday's post, Genealogy Conferences and Social Media Policy, that a follow-up post seems justified. Many people with strong feelings on this topic have sent them via email, and I will share them here without mentioning names. In some cases I have added my personal response in italics, but the other comments do not necessarily reflect my own personal point of view, so please don't shoot the messenger!

All of your comments will be helpful to conference organisers, but only a few actually addressed the original question, Why can't it wait until the end of the presentation? Who truly benefits from tweeting 'live' rather than when the speaker has finished?

  • Most of us have to work, look after a family, etc, and we read tweets later in the day. How many people sit glued to their computer reading hashtag tweets 'live'? (If you do - Get A Life!) There is no need to tweet during the lecture. Doing it later is fine for your readers, and it is more courteous to the speaker. [Judy's response: Like you, I have to read the tweets later. That's actually an advantage, because hashtag tweets make more of an impression on me when I read them in a batch.]

  • Helen said, 'I tweet because I am usually too busy to tweet after the presentation' - but Helen always writes a descriptive blog post afterwards, which contradicts her claim that she needs to tweet live.

  • Every time I've given a talk at which people were using phones or computers, one of those people has put their hand up during Question Time and asked a question that I'd answered in my talk (while they weren't listening). It is demoralising and infuriating. [Judy's response: I totally agree. This has happened to me too.]

  • We recently paid for an employee to attend a conference. We decided never to waste the company's money that way again, because we discovered that he had been tweeting instead of paying attention.

  • I like the NGS social media policy except I would prefer to exclude the word 'summarise' as I think that gives a bit too much freedom.

  • The social media policy should be part of registration and include 'no photographing of people's overheads' and the fact that attendance at the conference may mean your photograph could be taken and uploaded to the web as part of a blog or used in publicity.

  • I use a phone because I think that is less distracting than using a computer. I also think that anyone who chooses to tweet etc should sit over to one side so less of a distraction. [Judy's response: As a speaker, I say 'Not in the front row, please!']

  • Using a phone while the presenter is talking is just plain RUDE. If this is what Twitter is about, count me out! Good manners will never go out of fashion.

  • I would prefer to be told to have my phone on silent and to be reminded that texting or tweeting during the conference is VERY bad manners.

  • Not many people can multitask well enough to concentrate on the speaker and look at a phone at the same time.

  • As a speaker, I hate it when the audience uses phones or computers. Am I boring them? Are their emails more interesting than my topic? They are not looking at my slides, so why did I bother?

What do you think? This is your chance to help shape the policies of future genealogy conferences. If you do not want to comment publicly, select 'Anonymous' or email me privately at the address in the sidebar. But as I said... the comments above do not necessarily reflect my own personal point of view, so please don't shoot the messenger!

07 September 2011

Genealogy Conferences and Social Media Policy

I am speaking at a genealogy conference next week, and I asked the organisers about their social media policy. Apparently neither the host society nor the Association as a whole had an official policy (other than 'no recording of conference sessions except for personal note taking' and 'mobile phones must be turned off during presentations'). After hastily writing a more detailed policy, they have sent me a copy and asked for my opinion.

Before I reply, I would greatly value your thoughts on this. I need to address these questions in particular:

Can you explain exactly WHY people feel compelled to tweet while the speaker is speaking? Why can't it wait until the end of the presentation? Who truly benefits from tweeting 'live' rather than when the speaker has finished?

Obviously it's fine to tweet a 5-minute warning that a session is about to start, but it's what happens during the presentation that is really the issue in this case. All comments will be gratefully received!

05 September 2011

99 Things - an Australian Genealogist's List

The '99 Things Genealogy Meme' is a list of 99 genealogy-related things you can do or have happen to you in your lifetime. Jill (Geniaus) took the original list and 'dinkumised' it (which, for those of you who don't speak Strine, means 'gave it an Australian flavour'). If you would like to do something similar so your readers can get to know you better, copy the text below and paste it into your blog or into a note on Facebook. Substitute your annotations for mine, and change the font to show your answers, as follows:

Things you have already done or found - bold type
Things you would like to do or find - italics
Things you have not done or found and don't care to - plain type

Here is my contribution. Most links open in new windows.
  1. Belong to a genealogical society.
  2. Joined the Australian Genealogists group on Genealogy Wise.
  3. Transcribed records.
  4. Uploaded headstone pictures to Find-A-Grave or a similar site.
  5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents).
  6. Joined Facebook.
  7. Cleaned up a run-down cemetery.
  8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group.
  9. Attended a genealogy conference. (Next big one is the Australasian Congress)
  10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
  11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society.
  12. Joined the Society of Australian Genealogists.
  13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
  14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society. (Only served as a library assistant)
  15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery.
  16. Talked to dead ancestors.
  17. Researched outside the state in which I live.
  18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants. (My great-uncle did this to show me his childhood home)
  19. Cold called a distant relative. (Via email, not phone)
  20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
  21. Uploaded a GEDCOM file to the internet. (To WorldConnect)
  22. Googled my name.
  23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
  24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
  25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.
  26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research.
  27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.
  28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
  29. Responded to messages on a message board.
  30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion. (The Stinging Nettle Incident probably doesn't count.)
  31. Participated in a genealogy meme.
  32. Created family history gift items (calendars, cookbooks etc.)
  33. Performed a record lookup.
  34. Took a genealogy seminar cruise. (Unlock the Past's cruise)
  35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space.
  36. Found a disturbing family secret. (Not always a bad thing - a secret may mean interesting records exist)
  37. Told others about a disturbing family secret.
  38. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).
  39. Think genealogy is a passion not a hobby.
  40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person.
  41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
  42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure. (I only made that mistake once.)
  43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
  44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
  45. Disproved a family myth through research. (No, but I proved one that nobody expected to be true!)
  46. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
  47. Used a digital camera to 'copy' photos or records.
  48. Translated a record from a foreign language. (With Google Translate)
  49. Found an immigrant ancestor's passenger arrival record.
  50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.
  51. Used microfiche.
  52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
  53. Used Google+ for genealogy.
  54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
  55. Taught a class in genealogy.
  56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
  57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century. (Via Clan Campbell Archives)
  58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century. (Via Clan Campbell Archives)
  59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents. (Only 12 of 16 yet)
  60. Found an ancestor on the Australian Electoral Rolls. (Queensland has four separate series)
  61. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.
  62. Have found relevant articles on Trove.
  63. Own a copy of 'Evidence Explained' by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
  64. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
  65. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
  66. Visited the National Library of Australia.
  67. Have an ancestor who came to Australia as a ten pound pom.
  68. Have an ancestor who fought at Gallipoli.
  69. Taken a photograph of an ancestor's tombstone.
  70. Can read a church record in Latin.
  71. Have an ancestor who changed his/her name. (Not that I know of, but maybe that's why I haven't found a death record for Robert BUTLER!)
  72. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
  73. Created a family website. (Separate sites for my maternal and paternal lines)
  74. Have a genealogy blog. (Seven of them)
  75. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.
  76. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
  77. Done genealogy research at the War Memorial in Canberra.
  78. Borrowed microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center.
  79. Found an ancestor in the Ryerson index. (A relative but not a direct ancestor)
  80. Have visited the National Archives of Australia. (Brisbane Office only)
  81. Have an ancestor who served in the Boer War.
  82. Use maps in my genealogy research. (Including those on CuriousFox)
  83. Have a convict ancestor who was transported from the UK.
  84. Found a bigamist amongst the ancestors.
  85. Visited the National Archives in Kew.
  86. Visited St. Catherine's House in London to find family records.
  87. Taken an online genealogy course.
  88. Consistently cite my sources. (Wish I'd done so when I was a beginner!)
  89. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors.
  90. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes.
  91. Have an ancestor who was married four times (or more).
  92. Made a rubbing of an ancestors gravestone.
  93. Followed genealogists on Twitter.
  94. Published a family history book on one of my families.
  95. Learned of the death of a fairly close relative through research.
  96. Offended a family member with my research.
  97. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts.
  98. Have a paid subscription to a genealogy database. (FindMyPast)
  99. Edited records on Trove.
I have also put a more personal (non-genealogy) '99 things' list in Jottings Journeys and Genealogy.

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