Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ancestry Adds New Census Viewer

I'm in love. Ancestry has introduced a new census viewer. Just this week I was lamenting the difficulty of following a census line across a page and easily finding my place as I scrolled. I also had to refer to other documents or screen in order to see the census headings. Ancestry came through!

Remember those rulers with the highlighted areas for focusing on a computer print out? Well, Ancestry has added that function to the census viewer! It even puts the yellow bar in the center and the blue/green bars around it. Then if you pause your mouse over a cell the full contents are typed out including the column data. You can even browse to other lines in the same record and the search result stays highlit and the browse line highlights in pale red for easy comparison. Now I just need the same tool for my computer and I'll be a happy camper!

Happy Hunting!
click on "Try Now"

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Proofreading your genealogy

Proofreading something you have written is a matter of checking for spacing, punctuation, spelling, grammar, and clarity. Proofreading your family tree is more complex than that.

I have some paper records for my family trees but most of my information is in Family Tree Maker and has been about 6 years. Somehow (little gremlins using my computer at night) errors have crept into my records. I’ve noticed the same problem with other family trees that I’ve seen.

What problems? Well, I have an ancestor that had children after she died and one that had a child before she was born. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are mistakes in there, somewhere! I also have one family that I created from some census records and now that I have more information from some online resources, it looks like I’ve combined two families with the same name. The clue was that the children were born in very diverse areas that did not make sense. Yes, some families move around a lot but not every 2 years into 3 different states without some further proof.

What do I plan to do about it? Well – I tried breaking it down on the computer but what really ended up working was to break out the paper and create manual family group sheets and correct the entries. I even had to delete a few people! That’s a tough decision, though, so I documented my thought process and am keeping that along with the family group sheets, in case I have to go back. I will also keep notes in my software.

I’m sure all YOUR family trees are not subject to these errors but you may know someone else who could benefit from a little family tree proofreading.

Happy Hunting! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Organizing Bookmarks and Favorites

Keeping track of the websites I use for genealogy has become a real PAIN. I tried setting bookmarks and favorites but if I were not at my home computer, then I did not have them. Some browsers let you synchronize the bookmarks across multiple computers but not all computers I use have Google Chrome or IE 10 or Firefox and I don’t want to risk leaving my information on public computers.

I tried an Excel spreadsheet and then stored the spreadsheet in the “cloud” but that required me to login in there and keep that up to date, also. At least with Excel, I could organize the sheets by topic. Word lets me keep track of things but not sort them. Then I figured OneNote (my 2nd favorite application) would do the trick. It’s easily searchable, I don’t have to manually sort things, I can leave notes for myself and it’s available on my computer, the cloud, my phone, and my tablet.  At least Office 2010 lets me synchronize my results automatically to my computer so that part isn’t such a big job. Then I thought – why bother keeping them on my computer at all! Why not use an Internet based solution!

That got me thinking. What is available that is accessible from anywhere online and easy to keep up-to-date? I thought about my own BLOG – the one you are reading now – but that’s too cumbersome. I could e-mail myself lists at my Gmail account but that’s not elegant. I could use one of the free website builders but that’s tough to keep up-to-date. I cannot be the only one with this issue. Greater minds than mine must have surely solved this problem already! AHA – Google to the rescue – AAARGH – there are hundreds of them! Now what!

So I tried a few. I like because it’s been around for some time and I can browse other bookmark lists that other people have shared and uncover some additional genealogy links that I would not have known about, otherwise (over 33000 of them!) also allows me to TAG bookmarks with categories which is much more powerful than organizing them into folders. Some bookmarks are useful for multiple categories so TAGGING makes more sense than duplicating the entries in multiple folders. The search feature also lets me see other possible TAGS in use.

I also like for its annotations and Android app but there are fees involved for the full functionality. Diigo also has extensions for the Chrome browser that let you send parts of pages directly to your Diigo account with automatic sharing to Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I’ve not made up my mind, yet, which I will stay with but both of these options are much better than what I was using before.

I hope you try one of these services and …
Happy Hunting!