19 January 2015

Top 3 Things to Do before a Genealogy Conference (Tuesday's Tip)

Image by 89studio, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
To get the most out of a genealogy conference, there are three things you should do in advance.

If you are going to Rootstech or Who Do You Think You Are? Live or the Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry, do these now!

1.  Order your Contact Cards

Contact cards are a personal version of a business card. Give them to conference delegates who share your interest in a surname, locality or project, and use them to publicise your Web site, online family tree, genealogy blog or social media pages.

I order my cards from Vistaprint. Depending on what discounts are available and whether you choose 'Starter Business Cards' or 'Premium Business Cards', the cost of 250 cards is usually between $8 and $28. That's a great price for good quality cards, which you create by entering text into an online template. When you are happy with your design, submit the order, pay with either BPay, PayPal, VISA or Mastercard, and watch for the package to arrive by post.

Before you design your contact cards, consider what details you want to include. You won't be able to fit all of these, so make a list in order of importance to you.
  • Your name is essential, of course.
  • Your email address that will be valid long-term if you leave your current service provider. (The best option may be a free Gmail address from Google).
  • Your postal address (or at least your State and country).
  • Your Web site URL.
  • Your blog URL.
  • URL of your public online family tree - but check that it really is public (eg, a free tree on Rootsweb's WorldConnect, which is not locked away behind a pay wall on a subscription site).
  • Your social media URLs (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr etc).
  • Short list of surnames that you're researching, especially any unusual names. (Putting these on the back of the card costs a few extra dollars.)
  • Phone number (but if you list this, mention your time zone compared to Greenwich Mean Time).

I created this contact card with Vistaprint, and 250 of these only cost $7.99.


2.  Submit your research interests

For the Australasian Congress in 2015, register your research interests now. If someone else is interested in the same family, you can contact them before the Congress (which is a lot easier than finding them in the crowd).

Use a spreadsheet to prepare each of your entries for easy cut-and-paste. The fields are:
  1. Name/s (either surname only or with the family name first, eg, 'PEACOCK, Jonathan';  alternative spellings can be included here)
  2. Location (remember to specify the country)
  3. Period
  4. Extra details (put the most important details at the beginning because only about 96 characters including spaces will be immediately visible to people browsing the interests list).

3.  Plan what to take and what to do

There are lots of great tips in:
  1. Prepare Before Attending a Genealogy Conference (by Sue Maxwell).

  2. Rock Star's Guide to Genealogy Conferences (by Amy Coffin).

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2015/01/top-3-things-to-do-before-genealogy.html.)

13 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over or Source-Based Incremental Fix?

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the 'Genealogy Do-Over' or 'Go-Over' proposed by Thomas MacEntee. I am taking a different approach. I'm doing a 'source-based incremental fix'.

Starting again from scratch is not an option for me because...

  • Some archival records that I used are no longer open to the public. The Government has since changed the access restrictions.

  • Talking to relatives in the 1970s gave me vital details that I have never found in documents - and those relatives are now in Heaven.

  • Many records that I used are on the other side of the world. They are not indexed and not digitised.

  • I have never copied details from online trees, and I never will. I might treat them as clues for further research, but that's all. About 90% of my research was done in the 1970s and 1980s, long before I had Internet access, and I used original records in State and national archives. I have since used a wide range of online resources, but I have not found any mistakes in my original research.

Louis Kessler has suggested a source-based incremental fix, which will suit me perfectly. Taking one document at a time, I will analyse it carefully and check that every bit of information has been extracted and entered into my family tree programme, with the source reference. Then I'll file the source in a new and separate location. As I work, I'll note gaps in my knowledge and list my ideas for further research.

First, though, I need to decide how to organise my records. This is what I've done so far.

  1. I've gathered together all my paper documents and research notes.  There are fifteen ring binders and one archival quality photo album from which data has already been added to my genealogy programme (The Master Genealogist). There are also two 52 litre storage boxes with countless unscanned photos and unprocessed photocopies and research notebooks. Eeek!  (Note to self:  Don't panic.)

  2. I've read Nancy Loe's guides.  These three e-books are very practical: Organizing Genealogy Research Using Archival PrinciplesCataloging Digital Family Photographs and Records; and Simplifying Genealogy Sources and Citations.

  3. I've read those guides again, this time making notes about how I'll modify Nancy's method so that it fits the way I think when I look for records in my files.

  4. I've downloaded source checklists for Evernote, via CyndisList. (Thanks to Michelle Patient for bringing these to my attention.)

  5. I've started creating a 'style guide' to ensure that I name and store files (especially digital files) consistently. (Nancy Loe says, 'Using controlled vocabulary is the single most important thing you can do to keep your research organized.')

In amongst all that organising, I will be writing about my ancestors in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge.  (Note to self:  Don't panic. Nobody said the 52 weeks have to be consecutive.)

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2015/01/genealogy-do-over-or-source-based.html.)

Order of words in a blog post title - why it matters (Tuesday's Tip)

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Does the order of the words in a blog post's title make any difference to how many people read that post?

Probably!

Why?

https://yoast.com/articles/wordpress-seo/ says, 'Search engines put more weight on the early words, so if your keywords are near the start of the page title you are more likely to rank well. People scanning result pages see the early words first. If your keywords are at the start of your listing your page is more likely to get clicked on.'

http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag says, 'The closer to the start of the title tag a keyword is, the more helpful it will be for ranking ­and the more likely a user will be to click them in search results.'

So...

   Kitty (Catherine) ASHTON: ancestor #1 of 52

is probably a better title than

   52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge: #1 Kitty (Catherine) ASHTON.



And yes, there really is a blog post about Kitty ASHTON (my great-great-great-grandmother).

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/order-of-words-in-blog-post-title-why.html.)
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