Saturday, January 21, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 3 – Free Online Genealogy Tools

Free online genealogy tools are like gifts from above. Which one are you most thankful for? How has it helped your family history experience? 

It is difficult to pick my favorite free online genealogy tool. But since many, many of my ancestors are from West Virginia, I'll chose the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The main tools I use there are the databases at the West Virginia Archives and History section.  Mostly the birth, marriage and death records, although I definitely need to explore the other resources as well, including the West Virginia Memory Project.  I believe most of these records are indexed at the Family History Library now, but I often have better luck searching from the West Virginia site. If I can't find someone in one index, I'll try the other.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

SNGF: Wanted: Nancy Valentine

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings challenged us to have fun at Image Chef and post our creations. Here is mine. One of my brickwalls is my gg-grandmother, Nancy Valentine, mother of Amelia Auvil and wife of William Auvil of Barbour County, West Virginia, circa 1828-1902. I don't have a picture of Nancy, so I used daughter Amelia on my Wanted Poster. None of the Auvil researchers that I know have made any progress on Nancy's parentage. And of course, like many of our ancestors, she is reputed to have American Indian blood somewhere up the line. No proof of that either.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Follow Friday: Niche Blogging

I'm a little late getting this posted today, but then the blogs of note today are a not the most recent either.

On the 6th, Marion Pierre-Louis posted "Everyone Needs a Niche, Right?"on her blog Marion's Roots and Rambles.  This made me pause to think what my niche might be, and I don't think I have one yet. But Marion had several good ideas.

Later on the 6th I found Bryna O'Sullivan's post "Genealogical Niche?" on her blog Explorations in Connecticut Genealogy. She discusses her niche areas.

Today I googled genealogy niche blog and found a blog from June 3rd by Drusilla Pair titled "Genealogy Niche" on her blog Find your Folks. Her posted pointed me to a free APG* video by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, titled "Niche Planning and Marketing." It includes a syllabus. I know what I'm watching tonight!

So what is your niche?  What other niches need filled?

I've been thinking about a niche in school records or maybe Church of the Brethren records, since several of my ancestors belonged to the Church of the Brethren. I just wish I lived closer to their repositories.

*You can find other educational videos on the APG website and on Family Search.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 2 – Paid Online Genealogy Tools

  • Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? 
  • What special features put it at the top of your list? 
  • How can it help others with their genealogy research?

Along with many other Geneabloggers, my favorite paid tool is

So I'll mention one of it's features that I most like, the Suggested Records:

When I find a record of someone I am interested in, Ancestry places a list of other records that may be the same person to the right of my search results. This makes finding other records much quicker. I do, of course, analyze the record to make sure it is the same person. Often it is; sometimes, it is not.

This record is of my great-grandfather. And it may have taken me some time to find the mis-indexed Romedy surname which is listed in the Suggested Records. And indeed, that is him and his family in the 1910 Census.

This post is part of a 52 week series of blogging prompts by Amy Coffin of We Tree and suggested by Geneabloggers.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Scrapbook Sunday: Paternal Grandparents

If you have been following along with some of my previous posts, you know I'm working on a digital family history scrapbook of some of my ancestors by as part of a group Virtual Geneascrappers taking a class at Jessica Sprague

This project is taking longer than I anticipated but I did complete another two page spread this week. The spread is about my paternal grandparents, Raymond Russell McDonald and his wife (#4 I believe), Grace Marie Thompson.

My grandfather passed away before I was born, but I did know my grandmother for several years. And sadly, like many other people, I found out too late that I should have asked my father more about my grandfather. But I have learned a lot from my research.  Happy scrappin' everyone.

Many thanks to the kit designers: Crystal Wilkerson, Echo Park Paper Co., Live Esteban, Linda Roos, Jan Crowley, Cosmo Cricket, and Nisa Fin.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - My Very Best 2011 Research Adventure

My best 2011 research adventure was not actually a research adventure. It was more of a software exploration adventure. For many, many, years I used the Master Genealogist. But as I started going to conferences and participating more in the genealogy world, I noticed other products that had slicker interfaces and more features that appealed to me. I also began paying more attention to source citation. I had always included most of the information I needed (thankfully) but I just used the templates and didn't pay much attention to how it was formatted. Now I am trying to use Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills as my guideline.

In 2011 I tried Family Tree Maker 2011, Legacy Family Tree 7.5 and RootsMagic 4/5. I also dabbled briefly with Gramps (the Windows version).

I have the vast majority of my exhibits digitized, and at one time they were linked in my TMG file. However, at some point those links got lost and weren't backed up, even though I do back up often. Even more now.

So I spent 2011 trying out software. It didn't take me long to pare it down to Legacy or RootsMagic, and both are excellent.  And I went back and forth more than once. To a large extent, it is just a personal preference. You may very well prefer a different program. Once Rootsmagic 5 came out, I switched for good. I am now in the process of re-citing and re-linking my sources and exhibits. I'm also doing more online research along the way since new sources are online. My goal is to get my database back in shape, and then start making research plans for some of my ancestors along with ordering films and making research trips to see the original records in some cases.

I may still regret my decision on citations. I love that I can use templates, and that RootsMagic allows me to create my own if I disagree with the templates built into the program. However, there will be a problem if I ever want to use a gedcom to export my data. But I will go this path for now because it is quicker. Once (if ever) I get done then I may slowly (for some lines or direct ancestors) copy the template generated citations into the basic citation form, that I believe does export.

Wish me luck on finishing this project this year. Hopefully I will procrastinate a lot less.

I have no affiliations with any of the products mentioned.

Monday, January 2, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Blogs

Geneabloggers has announced a new 52 week series of blogging prompts by Amy Coffin of We Tree. This year the series will be 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy. This week the prompt is blogs.

I don't know where to start, there are so many excellent genealogy blogs. I have over 70 in my Google Reader. Gosh, now I know where my morning goes.

The first 'blog' I started reading was Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, although he was publishing his newsletter before I heard the term blog. But then, maybe I was behind the times. Dick never fails to keep me updated on the latest genealogy news and technical information.

One of the second blogs I found was Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings and it is still one of my favorites. Randy covers a variety of topics, often in an amusing way. And he has had several great series of blogs about various software products. I also enjoy his blog The Geneaholic. He seems to use this to track his genealogy work, and it motivates me to get off the couch get more done.

I have also enjoyed Michael Hait's Planting the Seeds blog. Michael addresses a variety of issues of interest to professional genealogists, or those of us interested in the profession.

Since my other hobby is scrapbooking, I enjoy Jennifer Shoer's Scrappy Genealogist. She has good technical articles as well as articles about scrapbooking and genealogy. I'm one of her Virtual GeneaScrappers too, although I've fallen behind on that project. Maybe now that the holidays are over....

A few more favorites in no specific order are:
The Educated Genealogist
Dear Myrtle (and her Organization tab)
Marian's Roots and Rambles

And of course Thomas MacEntee's Geneabloggers!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Genealogy Goals

I'm a little late posting this, but after reading several other genealogist's resolutions, I thought it might help me to post some myself. I've never done this before, so it will be interesting to see how many I accomplish by next year.

First of all, I want to blog more. Especially Scrapbook Sunday suggested by Jennifer Shoer of the Scrappy Genealogist and the "52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy" by Amy Coffin of the We Tree Blog. Part of me says I want to blog every day, but I'll be reasonable and try for 3 times a week. I also want to redesign my blog a bit.

Next, I have changed my genealogy software several times in the past year. I have finally settled on Roots Magic for my primary software. However, in the process, most of my citations have been messed up. This is actually good, because I can now re-do them consistently. I've digitized pretty much all my documents over the years, but they need re-named, re-organized and attached to my genealogy program. This is a big job, but I have a full year.

I am also 99% sure I qualify for the DAR. I would liked to finish up that line, and submit the paperwork. There is a local chapter I need to visit first though.

I want to be a bit more diligent about preparing for my NGSQ study nights and ProGen assignments.

I'd like to join a society and participate in it. I'd also like to start volunteering at a FHL or the National Archives. Both of these will probably have to wait a few months due to some personal issues, but I'm hoping by June or July they will be feasible.

I'm also interested in the "buddy" concept mentioned by Amy Coffin of the We Tree Blog and Denise Levenick of The Family Curator Blog, and Marian Pierre-Louis of Marian's Roots and Rambles.  If you are looking for a buddy, let me know in the comments.

As far as life in general, I'd like to procrastinate a lot less, eat more fruits and vegetables (at least one per meal) and add another hour a week to my walking schedule. More energy = more genealogy. Oh, and keep up with my housecleaning a bit more. Well, maybe not.