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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Tuesday
    Apr152014

    Caring for Keepsakes FREE SCGS14 Jamboree Webinar

    Pocket watch

    Join The Family Curator tomorrow night to learn the basics of Caring for Keepsakes: The Top Ten Family Treasures at a free webinar Wednesday, 16 April 2014 sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree 2014 Extension Series.

    We'll also be talking about the upcoming Heirloom Roadshow at SCGS Jamboree 2014, and how you can participate. Los Angeles Estate Auctioneer Joseph Baratta will join me at Jamboree to answer your questions about how to safely preserve, care for, and enjoy your family heirlooms.

    Wednesday night's 60-minute live webinar will focus on preservation techniques for ten of the most popular family heirlooms, from photographs to furniture, love letters to lockets, and bayonets to Bibles. The presentation will also feature examples of common home archive hazards such as pests, mold, and acid migration.

    If you inherited family heirlooms, or you're wondering how to safely care for your own treasures to pass them on to the next generation, this online presentation will give you the information you need to get started safely Caring for Keepsakes.

    I will be sharing ideas from my book How to Archive Family Keepsakes and from the archives of The Family Curator website and blog. The audience is also invited to ask questions following the webinar during the Q&A session.

    You must pre-register to attend the live webcast and receive the free handout. The initial live webcast of each SCGS Jamboree Extension Series presentation is offered free of charge to the public; SCGS members receive access to recorded sessions as a benefit of membership. Visit the SCGS Extension webpage for more information about the series. 

    Pre-register for Caring for Keepsakes LIVE Webinar 16 April 2014 6:00 PM - Pacific, 7:00 PM - Mountain, 8:00 PM - Central, 9:00 PM - Eastern

    Tuesday
    Apr082014

    Searching Out Family History in Bend, Oregon

     

    Smith Climbing Rocks

    View of Black Butte through Smith Rocks near Bend, Oregon.

    The Bend Genealogical Society Spring Seminar last Saturday, 5 April brought warmer temperatures and sunny skies to Central Oregon. We drove through rain, sleet, and snow flurries en route from Southern California, but each day here has been warmer and more beautiful than the last.

    Deschutes River

    The Deschutes River running through Bend.

    Bend area family historians obviously appreciate and support their local genealogy society. I enjoyed visiting with members at the Meet and Greet evening reception Friday night at the BCG Library, and during the seminar day and wasn't surprised to hear many new members express their appreciation for the group. President Glen Roberts and Program Chair Nancy Noble organized an enjoyable event for attendees from throughout the greater Bend area.

    My sister, a new resident of nearby Redmond, Oregon, joined us for part of the day and was excited to meet a BGS member whose uncle was born in the house she and her husband had just purchased. Small world. He gave her some new information about the former residents and neighborhood, and pointed her to the Redmond HIstorical Society for more background on the area.

    We talked heirlooms of all kinds, from scrapbooks to art to player pianos. And I hope at least a few boxes will be brought down from the attic to find a more "comfortable" place inside the house.

    Visit the Bend Genealogical Society website for information about monthly meetings, special events, and the society research library. 

    Guns Quilts

    Something for everyone: quilt shop next door to the gun store.

    McMenamins

    Classic restoration of the Old Francis School by McMenamins' Brewery and Restaurant. Classrooms have been renovated into hotel rooms and the school buildings now hold a theatre for live concerts on the premises.

    Three Sisters

    View of the Three Sisters Mountains on the highway into Sisters, Oregon.

    Thursday
    Mar272014

    Student Genealogy Grant Recipients: Checking in with Anthony Ray

    Palmdale college sophomore Anthony Ray was the first recipient of the fledgling Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant program in 2011. At the time, Anthony had never attended a regional genealogy conference, although he had been a featured presenter and volunteer at the Antelope Valley Genealogical Society and headed the society's cemetery indexing project.

    Anthony attended the 2011 SCGS Genealogy Jamboree and went on to use the grant funds for research expenses. He graduated in May 2013 from West Coast Baptist College with a degree in religious education, emphasis in music. He's now pursuing further studies at Antelope Valley College and plans to continue his music studies at California State University Northridge.

    Ray family

    Anthony Ray researching with his family in Sonora, Mexico, Summer 2013.
     Left to right is Judy Jones (Anthony's grandfather's cousin), Maria Magdalena (Maruca) Medina (Anthony's grandfather's mom's cousin), Grandparents Arthur Ray and Cristina Ray, Anthony Ray.

    In 2013 Anthony realized a long-held goal of researching his family history in the small Mexican pueblo of Santa Cruz, and was joined on the trip by his grandparents. Anthony writes:

    As soon as we crossed the border, I saw the church where my grandmother was baptized, her siblings, and where my great grandparents were married. My dreams were finally starting to unfold. An hour and a half later, and only about twenty miles away from Nogales, we reached the small pueblo of Santa Cruz. We had to travel by dirt roads, crossing rancho after rancho. The desert was so beautiful and the skies so clear!

    We finally reached the town. It was very emotional for me to be there, where so many generations of my family were born, married, had children, died, and were buried. I’ve always imagined what the town would look like, what the cemetery might be like, the church, the municipio (town hall). The first stop we made was at a tiny adobe structure just outside of town. That small, little building is said to be where my 3rd great grandparents once lived. It was humbling. From there we drove by the cemetery and then to the municipio. The church was just right across the street. The total area of the town would probably equal to less than a square mile.

    When we walked into the municipio, I found that nearly everyone we encountered was related to me. The secretary was very accommodating, and she pulled out all of the records that they had for my cousin, Homer, and I to look through. In Mexico, privacy laws are not nearly as strict as they are here in the states. I looked at birth records all the way up to about 1950. It was amazing the access that we were granted! For one, everyone knew my cousin, Homer, and everyone was happy to see him. That helped to facilitate that access.

    Anthony spent hours searching local cemeteries and reading records at the mortuary that had served his family for generations. In Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, he met with the city historian and searched newspapers in the archives; he then visited the local church and convinced reluctant officials to allow him to peruse the official records.

    Anthony ray

    When the Student Genealogy Grant program was founded in 2010, we weren't sure if young genealogists would be interested in attending a genealogy conference and spending time talking about records, repositories, and sources. Students like Anthony Ray, Elyse Doerflinger, A.C. Ivory, and Mike Savoca showed us that the future of genealogy is already here, and young family historians are searching for answers and ready to learn more about genealogy today.

    Grant applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Student Genealogy Grant to be presented at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. Visit the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Grant Webpage for information and application materials. Applications close March 31, 2014,

    Sunday
    Mar232014

    Student Genealogy Grant Recipients: Checking in with Elyse Doerflinger

    Elyse grad

    Since receiving the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant in 2012, Elyse Doerflinger has graduated from college with a bachelors degree in education and expanded her classroom teaching skills to include genealogists and grade schoolers. 

    She is busier than ever, completing her student teaching requirement, presenting at genealogy conferences, blogging, and publishing content to her YouTube Channel.

    This year marks the Fourth Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant. Founded in 2010, the Student Genealogy Grant aims to encourage young family historians by providing funding for educational opportunities and enrichment in genealogy. In partnership with the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, the Grant includes a $500 cash prize and full registration to the annual genealogy conference in June. 

    Elyse has a keen interest in organizing genealogy paperwork and keepsakes (sounds familiar!). She writes about her own family treasures at Elyse's Genealogy Blog and describes how she used some of her grant funds to help purchase archival supplies to store her growing home archive: Treasure Chest Thursday: Grandma & Grandpa Doerflinger's 50th Wedding Anniversary Album.

    Elyse gates stuart warren

    Elyse with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Paula Stuart-Warren at the
    2013 SCGS Genealogy Jamboree. (Photo: Cyndi Ingalls)

    Her speaker biography for the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree where she will be a featured lecturer, notes

    Elyse Doerflinger is a professional genealogist specializing in using tech tools to make research more efficient and organized. She is the author of Elyse's Genealogy Blog and has created a YouTube Channel with a variety of genealogy videos. She loves to research her Appalacian ancestors, Colonial New England ancestors, and her never-stay-in-one-place-for-long ancestors that moved all over the country. She also has ancestry from England, Wales, France, and Germany.

    Grant applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Student Genealogy Grant to be presented at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. Visit the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Grant Webpage for information and application materials.

    Friday
    Mar212014

    On the Oregon Trail: Join Me in Bend for the Bend Genealogical Society Spring Seminar

    Drake Park Eric Swanson

    The snow has melted in Bend, Oregon, just in time for the annual Bend Genealogical Society Spring Seminar, April 4-5. I am honored to be the presenter at this annual event and hope you will consider attending if you live in Central Oregon.

    The day's program will focus on preserving and digitizing genealogy research and family history keepsakes with four sessions:

    Preserving the Past: Archiving and Digitizing Your Family Keepsakes 

    The Paper-Less Genealogist

    Secrets in the Attic: Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources

    Dirty Pictures: Save your Family Photos from Ruin 

    The all-day event will be held at the Bend Golf and Country Club and is open to the public; registration is required and seating is limited. See the Bend Genealogical Society Website for information and registration.

    Photo Credit: Drake Park in Bend, Oregon (Wikimedia Commons/Erik Swanson)

    Friday
    Mar212014

    Student Genealogy Grant Recipients: Checking in with A.C. Ivory

    This year marks the fourth year of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant program. Founded in 2010 the Student Genealogy Grant aims to encourage young family historians by providing funding for educational opportunities and enrichment in genealogy. In partnership with the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, the Grant includes a cash prize and full registration to the annual genealogy conference in June.

    Four students, two from California and one each from Utah and New Jersey, have received the award. Contributions to the Genealogy Student Grant program made it possible to award two grants in 2012: to recipients Elyse Doerflinger of Lomita, California and A.C. Ivory of Salt Lake City, Utah. Elyse and A.C. continue to be enthusiastic representatives of student genealogy and active in the genealogy community.

    Ac ivory Cabrete

    A.C. spent time in the Dominican Republic last spring, stopping at Cabarete
    on the north side of the island of Pico Isabel de Torres.

    A.C. Ivory, 2012 grant winner, spent time studying and traveling both north and south this  year. Between genealogy conferences, college studies, and work, A.C. was able to study abroad in the Dominican Republic and revisit his favorite haunts in Southern Alberta, Canada.

    A.C. is currently unravelling family mysteries at the Family History Library where he often researches between classes at the University of Utah and his work as a professional genealogist with ProGenealogists in Salt Lake City. He is a popular speaker at genealogy conferences and meetings, and enjoys mixing travel and genealogy whenever he possible. Look for him at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank this June.

    The $500 cash award was established in 2010 in memory of Suzanne Winsor Freeman, family historian and life-long volunteer, and an enthusiastic annual attendee at the SCGS Jamboree. Any genealogist between the ages of 18 and 25 who has attended school in the last 12 months is eligible to apply. The recipient must attend the 2014 SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, California to receive the award.

    Funding for the cash award is provided by the family grant program; Jamboree registration is provided by the conference. Visit the Student Grant Webpage for more information and application materials, or to contribute to the Student Grant Program

    Wednesday
    Mar192014

    Student Genealogy Grant Recipients: Checking In With Mike Savoca

    It's been a busy year for recipients of the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, and it's wonderful to read status reports and photos on Facebook and Twitter and receive email updates from these young genealogists. 

    Since it's founding in 2010, the Freeman Student Genealogy Grant and the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree have partnered to recognize and encourage student genealogists by selecting an annual grant recipient. In 2012, a generous donor made it possible to grant awards to two applicants. 

    Each grant includes a $500 cash award and three-day registration to the SCGS Jamboree held each June in Burbank, California. The grant project aims to help young genealogists meet professional family historians at the annual conference and provide funding for furthering their genealogical education and research.

    Grant applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Student Genealogy Grant to be presented at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. Visit the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Grant Webpage for information and application materials.

    Mike savoca croatia

    Mike joined a local procession in August for the
    Feast of St. Rocco in Zablace, Croatia

    Mike Savoca, 2013 grant recipient, spent several weeks in Croatia after a attending the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.  He reconnected with relatives and continued local research highlighted by his first court house research trip.

    Since returning to college life in New Jersey Mike has pursued his with DNA testing using funds from the Student Genealogy Grant and is now working on identifying a mysterious 4th cousin match. From Mike's Facebook page:

    Well, after a long wait (okay, so they got me my results in 3 weeks! I'm impatient with these things.) my results came in from my Ancestry DNA test! Fascinating stuff. While I know that the ethnicity profile isn't really anything at all concrete, it still made me stop and think...and bother family at 1am when I found out. 40% Eastern European: Croatian and Hungarian roots, 31% Italy/Greece: Sicilian Grandpa and Cibola/Rosini roots covered, 7% Ireland: McCabe and O'Neill blood check, 3% North African: Probably Sicily, and 11% Caucasus: Guessing this might have to do with some Turkish influence into Croatia in around the 1500's. I'm loving this! Plus, I already think I found a Farfaglia match AND I have a mysterious 4th cousin match. A special thanks to Denise Levenick, that last bit of my grant money went for this test, and what a gift it is.

     

    .

    Thursday
    Mar132014

    Finding Online Family Share Sites

    Genealogy blogs and websites have a purpose, but lately I've been looking for a private family sharing site that is friendly to both geeks and luddites. Does such an animal exist? From posts I'm finding on Facebook and Twitter, I'm not the only one in search of a secure site to share family photos and stories.

    Not all my family members are eager to share photos of their children and family outings to the entire world wide web. They might be persuaded to post a photo or make a comment, but only if the site is restricted to family members and super-easy to use.

    My requirements seem fairly minimal, but as I started exploring options, I found that I might be wanting too much for too little:

    • restricted viewing, password or member-only
    • multiple editors, although this be a moot point because I may be only dreaming that anyone else will actually post photos or stories
    • polls and surveys, seems like an easy way to build engagement
    • photo galleries, a place to upload family photos and browse
    • comments to photos, to posts, to everything

    I've spent some time exploring options suggested by other family historians but still haven't found the perfect answer. Do you have use one of these services? or have another recommendation?

    Posthaven

    The creator of Moultrie Creek Gazette, Denise Olson, designs websites in her sleep (I think), and she's a big fan of Posthaven. This inexpensive blogging program was started by the designers of Posterous after the demise of that service. The low fee is designed to give users a measure of security in the future of the program, and so far it's working. I like the idea of Posthaven, but it's pretty much a blogging program rather than a full website. It offers privacy and multiple editors, two features I am looking for, but I don't see how I can build an easy to find gallery of photos or add polls or surveys. I thought that might help build interest in family members/visitors. If I do use Posthaven you can be sure I will be working through Denise's Posthaven Primer tutorial.

    Weebly

    A lot of people like the features and low cost of Weebly websites, and I liked what I saw… until I learned that multiple editors and password-protection bumped the price considerably. On the Plus Side, Weebly offers easy drag-and-drop design, polls, and some nice looking templates. It has more features than Posthaven, but you pay for them. As I was playing around with building a Weebly site it reminded me a lot of Squarespace, the program I use for TheFamilyCurator.com.

    SquareSpace

    LIke Weebly, with Squarespace 6 you can use building blocks to custom-design your site. I'm using Squarespace 5 which doesn't have the same template features, but 6 looks pretty good, and I already know how it works. Sort of. My biggest complaint with Squarespace is that the blog editor defaults to teeny tiny microprint. I get around the problem by using MarsEdit to compose my posts (it's easier than Blogger and WordPress editors too) and I can work offline. The photo gallery features are great, but again, the price increases with more features.

    Shutterfly Share Sites

    FREE is always good, so I had another look at Shutterfly. The sites are pretty basic, but they do offer limited access, easy photo uploads, comments, blogging, and it's FREE! I know some of my family already uses Shutterfly for photo print and book orders, so they would be easy to lure to a family site.

    PhotoBucket

    Photo sharing started me thinking about other photo sites -- Flickr, Picasa, and Photobucket. I looked at some of these, but decided that the focus on photos might become a roadblock if we want to start adding stories or comment on family get-togethers.

    For ease of use, and the greatest chance to bring in reluctant family members, Shutterfly seems like a good choice right now. But the jury is still out. Are you using a family website?

    Monday
    Mar102014

    How to Archive Family Keepsakes Kindle Edition Now Available

    HTArchiveFamilyKeepsakes Kindle cover

    Good news if you've looking for a Kindle edition of How to Archive Family Keepsakes. In addition to ePUB, Nook, and iBook editions, the Kindle edition of my book is now available at the Amazon store.

    Every author loves the news that their book is SOLD OUT, but it's even better to know that digital versions are available while the paperback is being reprinted. As a longtime Kindle fan, I'm excited to know that How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records  joins the Kindle list of fully-searchable, sync able, and portable ebooks.

    Why Go Digital?

    Buying digital versions of books, magazines, and journals is a great way to get started as a "Paper-Less Genealogist." Using born-digital documents cuts down on paper, filing supplies, and storage space. You also gain the ability to search the full-text of a book or article, annotate without permanently marking your copy, and make comments that can be shared via GoodReads or social media.

    Paperless or Paper-Less?

    Genealogists love paper, so going completely digital can be a scary idea. Instead, why not move toward less paper? Preserve your heirloom original documents, but make a conscious effort to create and care for less new paper. Try three easy baby-steps toward a digital life and watch your paper piles of everyday working documents dwindle from a mountain to a molehill.

    Baby Steps to Less Paper

    1. Choose Born-Digital books, magazines, and journals. Eliminate hardcopy clutter.

    2. Print to PDF and file documents in your computer filling system. Avoid printing paper copies of email, receipts, notes.

    3. Pick a Digital Birthday. Pick a date you can remember (birthday, tax day). Go digital from that date forward. You will know where to look -- filing cabinet or computer folders -- depending on the date of the item you need.  

    More Ideas

    For more tips to help you manage less paper in your research and everyday life, see Part 2: Break the Paper Habit of How to Archive Family Keepsakes. You'll find four chapters focusing on digitizing and organizing your genealogy:

    Chapter 9: Organize and Digitize Your Paper Documents

    Chapter 10: Digitize Your Family Archive

    Chapter 11: Organize Your Paper Files

    Chapter 12: Organize Your Computer

    Part 2: Break the Paper Habit is available as a stand-alone Kindle eBook (73 pages) titled How to Organize Family History Paperwork or in the complete 208 page digital edition of How to Archive Family Keepsakes from

    Amazon  

    ShopFamilyTree  

     

    Wednesday
    Mar052014

    Student Genealogy Grant Call for Applications

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant Committee is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2014 award. Student genealogists between the ages of 18 and 25 are eligible to apply for the 2014 Grant to be awarded at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society in June 2014.

     

    Suzanne Freeman (right) with her sisters Frances Jones (left)
    and Lucile Smith in Green Valley, Arizona. 

    The $500 cash award was established in 2010 in memory of Suzanne Winsor Freeman, family historian and life-long volunteer, and an enthusiastic annual attendee at the SCGS Jamboree. Past recipients include Elyse Doerflinger (Lomita, California), A.C. Ivory (Salt Lake City, Utah), Anthony Ray (Palmdale, California), and Michael Savoca (Toms River, New Jersey).

    “The Student Genealogy Grant pays tribute to Suzanne Freeman’s dedication to youth volunteerism and family history by awarding the annual cash grant to a young genealogist attending the SCGS 45th Annual Genealogy Jamboree, Southern California’s premiere regional genealogy conference,” notes Denise Levenick, committee chair and Freeman’s daughter.

    “We are especially grateful to Jamboree for providing a three-day conference registration to the grant recipient,” she adds. “SCGS is truly a leader in conference organizations by encouraging youth involvement in genealogy through the popular Kids' Camp program and now through the student grant project.”

    Born in Olathe, Kansas, Suzanne Winsor (Brown) Freeman moved to Orange County, California with her family in the early 1930s where she attended school and lived most of her life. She developed a strong interest in family history sparked by the stories of her mother’s early life in Colorado and Kansas. After retirement Suzanne moved to Green Valley, Arizona where she was active in the local genealogy society. She enjoyed returning to Southern California each year in June to attend the SCGS Jamboree. At the time of her death in Tucson, Arizona August 28, 2010, Suzanne was searching for elusive Winsor cousins and adding more stories to her family history.

    The $500 cash award pays tribute to these interests by awarding the annual cash grant to a young genealogist attending the Jamboree. In addition, a complimentary three-day conference registration to the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree will be provided by the SCGS Jamboree conference.

    Any genealogist who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and has attended school in the last 12 months is eligible to apply. The recipient must attend the 2014 SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, California to receive the award.

    Funding for the cash award is provided by the family grant program; Jamboree registration is provided by the conference. Individual contributions to the grant program are welcome at the Student Grant Webpage.

    Application deadline is 31 March 2014 midnight PST.

    Application details and forms are available at the Student Grant Webpage http://www.thefamilycurator.com/swf-grant.

    Suzanne Winsor Freeman Obituary is available here.

    Monday
    Feb172014

    RootsTech 2014 Photo Album (with Captions and Comments)

    Every parent knows that two-year olds can be challenging. They push against convention, fall, and usually get up to do it all over again.

    RootsTech 2012 was a lot like that toddler, feeling his way in the big genealogy technology universe. Not quite sure what would work, what wouldn’t work, but all the time trusting that eventually he’d figure it out.

    And then, the toddler turns three . . . and four.

    RootsTech has grown up, and the 2014 conference put this event “behind the wheel” with a real Driver’s License.

    RootsTech2012

    Blogger Meetup for dinner at Roots Tech 2012. 

    I first attended the genealogy tech conference in 2012 when RootsTech was held in a smaller venue area at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The exhibit hall was noisy and crowded and it was difficult to find the session classrooms. The program seemed heavily tilted toward developers and beginners with little for intermediate or advanced genealogists. Networking and F2F blogger meet-ups, however, made it a worthwhile event.

    Fast-forward to 2014 and a whole new RootsTech experience.

    Entrance to RootsTech2014

    Entrance to the Salt Palace Convention Center for RootsTech 2014.
    A bigger, better venue for 2014.

    First impression walking in the Salt Palace Convention Center entry was “Wow!” The immense two-level hall was decked with enormous banners showcasing family history photos, vendors, and slogans. Standing on the upper level and looking through the huge glass windows, views of the Expo Hall showed continual demonstrations, products, and displays.

    RootsTech2014 foyer banner

    RootsTech2014 expo foyer

    RootsTech2014 expo window

    Beyond the Expo Hall, session rooms were large enough to accommodate most crowds with great audio visual arrangements.

    My biggest dilemma of the the three-day event was trying to squeeze In attending other sessions between presenting four sessions and signing books at the Family Tree University booth in the Expo Hall.

    RootsTech2014 ftu booth

    RootsTech2014 ftu dolan levenick moss

    Family Tree University booth in the RootsTech Expo Hall, with
    Allison Dolan (left) and Tyler Moss. 

    I didn’t get to hear author Dr. Thomas Jones, or geneticist Blaine Bettinger, or Laura Prescott, or CeCe Moore, or Judy Russell, or Lisa Alzo, or a host of other great speakers because there was just so much going on! And with sessions for ALL levels of genealogical and tech experience, there was a lot to choose from.

    However, I did get to flop down in the Backblaze Theatre front and center in the main hall to rest my feet and soak up presentations from several product developers. As bloggers Amy Coffin and Caroline Pointer said, “This is the awe-some. ‘They’ come to you.”

    A semi-circle of black and white couches and armchairs faced a large screen and podium. Every fifteen minutes a new vendor or presenter took the stage to demonstrate their product or share a some kind of software or hardware feature. Their presentation was punctuated by the “candy lady” who came around with a basket of deliciousness, and the “ticket lady” who passed out door-prize tickets. Every fifteen minutes.

    Clearly, RootsTech has figured out that not every attendee has the stamina of the kids attending Saturday’s Discovery Day. But whereever you are in your own family history search, RootsTech 2014 offered something just for you.

    Wednesday
    Feb052014

    Try This for RootsTech2014: Close Up of Camera Setup for Microfilm to Megapixels

    Camera Setup

    After reading my article last week about using my Samsung WB350 wifi digital camera to photograph microfilm images, John H asked for a closer view of the camera mount setup. Here you go, John!

    As you can see, the camera is attached to the Joby Gorillapod tripod and the flexible legs of the Gorillapod are manuevered to hold the camera in position over the image. It did take a bit of experimentation to find the best way to adjust the legs. I found that two legs on top helped position the camera and one leg flexed to the underside of the ledge helped counter-balance the camera weight.

    I also tried the regular Joby tripod screw mount and the adjustable smartphone mount. The smarthphone mount gave a little extra reach to the camera and made it easier to adjust.

    Hope this helps! Have you tried a similar setup with your digital camera or smartphone to photograph microfilm images?

     

    Saturday
    Feb012014

    Microfilm to Megapixels: Use a Digital Camera as a Film Scanner

    The line to use the microfilm scanning machines at the Family History Library is longer than the line for the Women's Restroom at the Superbowl. Microfilm is cool. Digital copies of microfilm is way cool. But, it's RootsTech week and the Family History Library is packed with eager researchers. What to do?

    I was recently in Salt Lake City for ten days with the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), the Association of Professional Genealogy Professional Management Conference (APG PMC), and a bit of personal research. It was a perfect time to beta-test a new digitizing workflow.

    My equipment included the Samsung WB250F Wi Fi Digital Camera, the Joby Gorillapod with camera mount, and my iPhone 4S. And a pad and pencil for notes.

    My goal: to find a fast, efficient method to digitize microfilm images. 

    Camera vs. Film Scanner?

    Yes, the FHL microfilm scanners produce clear, crisp images at no cost to the user. But, sometimes -- like during busy conference weeks -- there can be a waiting line for time on the machines.

    And, yes, smartphone and tablet cameras with scanning apps can do a good job digitizing any image. But, I wondered if there was a method that might be faster, yield sharp images, and be easy to use.

    The Samsung WF250F is advertised as a compact 14 megapixel digital camera that performs especially well in low-light conditions. But, for me, it's standout feature is WiFi connectivity making it possible to use a smartphone as a remote shutter release. 

    I attached the camera to my Joby Gorillapod using a universal smartphone mount, and wrapped the legs of the Gorillapod around the film ledge of the microfilm reader. The camera was suspended above the image table.

     

    This photo shows the camera suspended above the image viewing table
    with my iPhone acting as a Remote Shutter Release. The
    smartphone shows the same view as the camera viewfinder.

     

    Next, I activated the WifFi link on the camera, connected to my iPhone and . . . the image viewed by the camera lens was now shown on my iPhone. The iPhone app allowed me to zoom in for the picture, adjust focus, and remotely activate the shutter. This was the most important feature. 

    The resulting photo was clear and readable. Certainly acceptable for reading, transcribing, and extracting information.

     

    Here is the image taken with the Samsung/WiFi setup. My iPhone is in the foreground.
    The image is certainly clear enough to be used on my computer for reading and
    transcribing. Click on the image for a full-size version
    .

    But, was it "as good as" the microfilm scanner? No. But using the camera at the microfilm reader was undoubtedly faster than unloading the film, going over to the microfilm scanner, reloading, and scanning images. 

    When Time is Limited

    My average digitizing time was about thirty images in ten minutes, or three photos per minute. With one hand on the microfilm handle to forward the film, and one hand holding my phone with my thumb ready to hit the Shutter button, I was able to quickly film the entire index to a Vermont Land Record book. The images are definitely clear enough to be read and transcribed.

    I may not use this method for all digitizing, but when the library is busy or I need to make many images from the same film, a WiFi camera is a cool tool for the digitizing toolkit.

     

    Friday
    Jan312014

    RootsTech 2014 Syllabus Now OnLine

    Roots tech

    RootsTech has posted the full syllabus for all scheduled event presentations online at the event website Syllabus page. 

    The website notes that the syllabus is "Available for a "Limited Time." Material is posted individually by session and in an all-session zip file download. This is undoubtedly good news for anyone who wants to preview the sessions or is unable to attend the conference and wants to know more about the topics and speakers.

    I will be presenting three sessions and participating in a panel discussion with Lisa Louise Cooke and Allison Dolan --

    Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
    Scrivener for Family Historians: Organize, Share, and Write Your Family History  RT1206 Syllabus

    Friday, 10:30 a.m.
    Panel Discussion: Self-Professed Uber-Organized Freaks Talk Genealogy Tech Organization with Lisa Louise Cooke, Allison Dolan, Denise Levenick
    RT 1417 Syllabus

    Friday, 2:30 p.m.
    The Paper-Less Genealogist: Organizing Your Genealogy with Digital Files GS 1208 Syllabus

    Friday, 4:30 p.m.  
    How to Scan an Elephant: Digitizing Your Family History from Artifact to Zombie RT1205 Syllabus

    I hope to see you at Roots Tech, but if you can't make it to Salt Lake City, stay tuned for highlights at The Family Curator.

    Monday
    Jan132014

    What's Better Than a Genealogy Conference in Salt Lake City?

    Answer: A genealogy conference AND a week-long genealogy institute AND research at the Family History Library!

    I love this banner outside the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

    The snow was falling Wednesday morning when I arrived in Salt Lake City, which means only one thing to a genealogist -- it's a great day for The Library! And I wasn't the only one who thought so. Colleagues from all corners of the country were busily working at the research tables and film readers.It always takes me a good half-day to get re-acquainted with where I am and what I need to do, but every visit to the FHL makes my orientation easier. I had a list of films and filming "projects" ready to go and was able to make good progress.

    Unfortunately, fellow Californian Sheri Fenley was stuck in fog and fuel-delays and missed most of the research day, but she was around for a great meal at The Red Iguana with SLIG Coordinator Christy Fillerup and friends.

     

    Meeting new and old friends for dinner. (Photo thanks to Adele Marcum)

    Arrived at last, The Educated Genealogist Sheri Fenley.

    Friday and Saturday, January 10 and 11, the Association of Professional Genealogists' Professional Management Conference offered two days of networking, workshops, and presentations for the 280 attending APG members. Keynote sessions by D. Joshua Taylor and Judy G. Russell kicked-off each day and a lively dessert reception offered time for networking with colleagues.

    Michelle Goodrum, Elissa Scalise Powell, and Shelley Bishop
    at the APT-PMC Dessert Reception, with Barry Kline in the background!

    Kimberly T. Powell, of Oakdale, Pennsylvania, was introduced as the incoming APG President, succeeding Kenyatta Barry of Santa Monica, California. Cathy Desmarais, CG, of Vermont will serve as APG vice president; Janice Prater of Denver, Colorado will serve as secretary; Joan Peake of West Virgina will serve as treasurer. The full APG Board is named here.

    Genealogists fortunate enough to make travel connections despite weather-related delays took advantage of research hours at the Family History Library. I spent an entire day happily examining microfilm and testing various methods of digitizing films at the film viewer stations. (Results forthcoming!) 

     

    View of Temple Square from the Famiy History Library.

    Sunday in Salt Lake City was a break between events before the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) gets underway with evening registration and classes on Monday morning. It will be another busy week of genealogy, snow or no-snow!