Saturday, July 11, 2009

Family Tree Maker 2010 software - what? when?

When will the latest version of Family Tree Maker, version 2010, be announced, and be available? I'm thinking that the announcement will be "soon" and that it will be available sometime during August 2009.

Those estimates are based on the Sunday morning breakfast hosted by at the SCGS Jamboree where Michelle Pfister and Mark Lemonnier reviewed some of the highlights of FTM 2010 for nine wide-awake and eager bloggers. I took notes. They said that we could "tell" after July 8th... I fully expected some sort of announcement this past week, but maybe it is coming soon.

Another indication is that FTM 2010 is being offered for advance sale on (price $29.99 for FTM 2010 Essentials, released 2 September 2009) and on Navarre Distribution Services here ($69.99 for FTM 2009 Deluxe with 3 months of ancestry, release date 18 August 2009). The section titled What's new in Family Tree Maker 2010? lists:

* New tools and charts that help you tell a richer story

* Better ways to organize photos and other media

* Create slideshows from the images in your tree

* Family books made from your tree

* Standard source templates that help you reference the right information
* A view of your relation to everyone in your tree

* Extended family birthday calendars

* Images scanned directly into your tree

* Family migration paths over time

* Easy family tree download from

At the breakfast, I think that Mark hit all of those bullet points. He expanded on some of them, including:

* FTM 2010 will "synch" to Ancestry Member Trees - the user will be able to upload an FTM 2010 database, including attached images and other media, to an Ancestry Member Tree. The Ancestry Member Tree, with attached media, will be able to be downloaded to Family TreeMaker 2010. However, I think that an Ancestry member will be able to download only their own trees and media, not somebody else's trees and media (we'll need to sort this out!). [delete this sentence: However, the standard GEDCOM download from Ancestry Member Tree will not include media - only the GEDCOM format - even if you are using FTM 2010.]

* FTM 2010 will load faster, and will have a reduced database size relative to FTM 2009.

* FTM 2010 will be a separate buy - users with FTM 2009 will have to pay to upgrade to FTM 2010.

* The Plan screen in FTM 2010 will have a web dashboard and a list of family trees with statistics. The dashboard will include the user's Ancestry account and Twitter feed.

* On the Publish screen, there will be more reports and charts. Media will be added to Family Group Sheets and sources to Charts. They will offer an extended family chart (the view of your relation to everyone in the tree).

* There were many more items in the People, Places and Sources screens - all of them sound good to me. Let's see what they look like when this is released to the genealogy community.

The important thing to me is that is continually improving the Family Tree Maker software. In some cases, they are "catching up" to the competition. In other cases, they are breaking new ground.

I believe that, at some point, there will be a Family Tree Maker program online so that users can do their adding, editing, noting, sourcing, etc. in the online program without a massive desktop program sitting on their desktop hard drive - in other words, "Genealogy in the Cloud." That makes a lot of sense to me, especially with Netbooks becoming so popular. I expect that such a program, and the database storage, would be offered for a price.

NOTE: If I have misstated anything above, I hope that an person will let me know. While taking notes, I was still thinking about how good the breakfast was... I thank for the free breakfast and the FTM briefing - it is helpful to get to know the Ancestry people and for them to get to know some of their customers.

Updated 9 p.m. to add Amazon link and price details.

UPDATED 13 July: I corrected my discussion of "synching" above in red. I received an email today from Michelle Pfister informing me that FTM 2008 and 2009 can already upload a Family Tree Maker file, including attached media (images, audio, video, etc.) to an Ancestry Member Tree from within the Family Tree Maker program. I must have misunderstood Mark when he discussed the "synching" of FTM 2010 to Ancestry. Michelle told me that the capability for an Ancestry member to download their tree, with attached media, from Ancestry Member Trees to FTM 2010 will be part of the FTM 2010 upgrade.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Time Travel!

It's Saturday Night, time for some Genealogy Fun after your frustrating week of finding phantom ancestors in online family trees and trying to keep up with everybody on Twitter, Facebook and Genealogy Wise.

Here is your assignment for this Saturday Night (if you decide to accept it, of course - you can't have fun if you don't try):

1) Let's go time travelling: Decide what year and what place you would love to visit as a time traveller. Who would you like to see in their environment? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

2) Tell us about it. Write a blog post, or make a comment to this post, or on Facebook, or in Genealogy Wise.

Here's my time travel wish:

1834 in Springfield, Windsor County, Vermont. Just after Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) Newton gave birth to her daughter, Sophia Newton, daughter of Thomas J. Newton. Hopefully, I would find all members of the Newton family at home, wherever it is.

I have one simple question for Thomas J. Newton: Who are your birth parents? I have lots more questions of course, but that one is the most important one. An answer would unlock about 200 years of genealogy research in New England on one of my highest brickwall problems.

My information about Thomas J. Newton is very sketchy - see Mystery Monday - Thomas J. Newton of Maine (19th century). I'm not even sure that the birth places for the son Thomas (Cambridge VT) or for daughter Sophia (Springfield VT) are correct. All I know is that there are no records in those places (that I've found) for the births. Any suggestions would be more than welcome!

Historical Record Source Citations imported from

After exporting my Ancestry Member family tree to a GEDCOM file, I wasn't sure what the source citations for the Historical Records attached to persons in my online family tree would look like. would they all be in one box in the source citation fields in the genealogy software, or distributed in the "right places?"

I decided to use RootsMagic 4 to find out. I opened RootsMagic 4 and worked in my imported database from Here is the "Edit Person" window for Frank Walton Seaver (1876-1942) in RootsMagic 4:

The Historical Record for the 1910 US Census in Leominster MA for Frank is highlighted in the screen above, and the Sources button says "1 Residence source" next to it. I clicked on the button to see the Source that came through the export:

The Citation Manager opened in the screen above, and shows the Free-Form citations (meaning not generated by the Source Templates), the Source text/comments (there are none) and the Detail text/comments (information about birth year, birth place, and residence in 1910, plus the image URL on I noted that there are no spaces in the Detail text comments - too bad, since those will have to be corrected if they are printed out.

I wanted to see what happened when I hit the "Edit" button on the "Citation Manager" page:

The "Edit source" window opened and I could, if I wished, edit the information in the Master Source, the Source Details (which includes the film series, roll number, page number, etc.), the Source text, comments and media (using the "More" button next to the Master source fields, and the Detail text and comments (using the "More" button next to the Source Details field.

Here is the "free-form" Footnote source citation from the importing from the GEDCOM:

", 1910 United States Federal Census (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.Original data - United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the Unit), Year: 1910; Census Place: Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts; Roll: T624_629; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 1772; Image: 202."

Hmmm, doesn't look exactly like the Evidence Explained or the Quicksheet citations for census records, does it? But what can we expect? The citation that came across in the GEDCOM file is the one generated by, and we've all complained about the inconsistency and inadequacy of those citations - I did recently in Ancestry Quirks - Source Citations.

What about other genealogy software programs? I did the same exercise with Legacy Family Tree 7 and Family Tree Maker 2009 and the results were essentially the same -- free form source citations very similar to the RootsMagic 4 example above.

Frankly, we cannot expect the genealogy software companies to fix these source citations "automatically" for each census citation. My opinion is that should take it upon themselves to create Evidence Explained quality Master Sources for each of their databases so that the resulting free-form citation is adequate.

It is clear to me that one of the limitations at work here is the fact that the GEDCOM format is inadequate to separate source citation elements into different fields. Until an improved standard for transferring data between websites and executable programs is defined and implemented, we are all stuck with GEDCOM for better and for worse.

What is the best way, at the present time, to create quality source citations in genealogy software? I believe that it is to use the Source Citation Templates found in each program and create them yourself, including the detail text and then attach the downloaded census image to the event and source. That way, the user can include all persons in the event and not just the head-of-household as is the case with the GEDCOM exported file.

Is there a Smooth Talking Gene?

The headline screams "7 Million People Direct Descendants of Smooth-Talking Ancestor" -- see the article here in the Science and Technology section of The Onion. It sounds right up the genetic genealogy alley, doesn't it? Megan, Blaine, Emily - why haven't you written about this guy? Are 7 million descendants not enough?

Hmmm, I'm not the smoothest of the talkers of the world - witness my recent YouTube interview, and I managed to attract only one young lady with my good looks and inarticularity (but she was a good catch!), so I must not have this particular gene passed down from charmer Welsh nobleman Gwilym of Many Conquests. Ah, and I must not have the "strong and intoxicating natural musk" odor that attracted so many females to his crib. Poor guy, he didn't even try to fight them off, apparently!

The head researcher said:

"According to the study, which analyzed blood samples from 4,000 participants in 17 countries, the lineage appears to have originated with a highly virile ninth-century Welsh nobleman known as Gwilym of Many Conquests.

"This is one of the largest diasporas known to have descended from a single progenitor," said head researcher Lawrence Ghilcrest, adding that DNA evidence now corroborates stories about the Welshman that historians once dismissed as myth. 'To have propagated his genetic material so effectively, and across so much territory, we can only infer Gwilym was quite the charmer.'"


"Though little is known of Gwilym's life, artists have traditionally depicted the suave nobleman riding an eye-catching white mustang and wearing garishly colored linen garments that fall loosely about the chest to reveal a large medallion bearing his family's crest. It is remarkable, historians note, that he was able to spread his seed so far and wide before the age of 29, when he was savagely beaten to death by a neighboring lord known as Dafydd of Nine Cuckolds."

What about Gwilym of Many Conquests? He is apparently unknown to the world of genealogy or English nobility, according to an extensive Google search. Who knew that there were Welsh noblemen in the 9th century? What a find!!

A little more Google research shows that this is the first mention of any research by a "Lawrence Ghilcrest" of Johns Hopkins University. What a nice splash into the world of science and technology, eh? Published right off the bat!

It is a great genetic genealogy story, wasn't it? Now I'll look at every long-haired, tattooed, scruffy looking slacker with two honeys sniffing his armpits that I pass with a wondering thought of "what does he have that I don't?" now that I've read about this, um, talent and odor. Well, besides more hair. And I have only six known descendants at this point in my long fatherhood career. Only 6,999,994 to go!.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Exporting Family Trees

I had several good comments and an email from my post of Exporting a Family Tree from

1) Reader Genealogy TidBits said:

"Hi Randy important thing that wasn't mentioned download a family tree from online family trees, you must be the owner of that tree. If someone gives you access, even as an editor, only the owner can download it!"

That's correct - I should have mentioned it! Thanks!

However, the other two comments below apply to any GEDCOM file downloaded from a website, or attached as an email. For instance, the Rootsweb WorldConnect family tree system permits GEDCOM downloads if the database owner allows it.

2) Reader Katie O. said:

"This may be a stupid question. In fact, it probably is. Some time ago, when I first tried to export a GEDCOM, I didn't realize you needed specialized software to open it. I know better now, but my problem is that that first time, when I tried to open it with some program already on my computer, I accidentally clicked "Do this for files like this from now on." How do I undo that? I haven't been able to figure it out, but I also haven't tried to export a GEDCOM since, because I've assumed it wouldn't work. If I try while having the proper software, will it automatically download through that? I imagine not, but I have no idea how to fix it."

Not a stupid question. It happened to me yesterday! Somehow, and I didn't know why, I clicked on a link to open a downloaded GEDCOM from, and it opened in Family Tree Builder. I haven't used FTB for months...but somehow a .GED file is identified with FTB in my file preferences.

I went in and modified my file extension preferences in Windows by going to Start>Control Panel>Folder Options>File Types tab and scroll down to the GED file extension. Mine said MyHeritage Family Tree Builder. I clicked on the "Change" button and selected Family Tree Maker executable (you can pick the one you want). Click "Close" and close your Control Panel window. Done! These things are hidden well on Windows computers, unless you are an expert (I'm not!). If you are a Mac OS user, there's probably a similar function. Hmmm, I wonder what other File Extensions I have that don't open in my preferred program?

The easier way to avoid this is to choose to SAVE the GEDCOM file rather than RUN it when you export the file. Then you have to remember where the file is (or write it down) when you open your software program and click on File>Import.

3) Reader Don F. emailed that:

"I have been reading your 9 July Genea-Musings and the portion about downloading a GedCom from Ancestry. I thought I would pass on some thoughts regarding downloading Gedcoms.

"When I download a GedCom from anywhere I always save it into a folder on my computer labeled Gedcom’s. Then I review the contents of that Gedcom via a program called MudCreek GENViewer. There is a “free” version and allows me to take a look at the entries of that Gedcom without contaminating *any* of my precious family files in my genealogy program. If I feel then that I want to investigate it further with my genealogy program I then import it to that program under another name. Being as I use Legacy for my program I then can open with the split screen feature and view my file and the one I downloaded side by side.

"This is a great little program that can be gotten at –
I started with reviewing & using the Free version and quickly upgraded to the licensed one at only $19.95 because I felt it was so good and useful.

"Even if I get something from a relative I still open it with this program first so I can review the contents."

Thank you, Don, for a great tip! If you don't trust the source of any GEDCOM, this is one way of viewing it without getting it in your software program and inadvertently or accidentally click "Merge."

I hope that these comments by readers and myself help others with downloading and exporting GEDCOM files, and viewing them too!

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 26: Importing a GEDCOM File

With so many new users of RootsMagic 4, I thought it would be a good idea to demonstrate how to Import a GEDCOM file into the program. I downloaded a GEDCOM from the other day (see Exporting a Tree from

Previous posts in this series are listed in Working in RootsMagic 4 - Summary of Posts.

I have several databases already in RootsMagic 4 format, so I did a File>Close to get to a blank screen, and then closed the program. When I opened RootsMagic 4 again, I got this prompt:

Here, I chose to "Import a File from a different program." I could also have gone to the File menu and selected "Import." In both cases, I see this screen:

RootsMagic 4 can import files from RootsMagic (versions 1-3), Family Origins (version 4 and later), Family Tree Maker (version 2006 and earlier), Legacy (no versions given), Personal Ancestral File (no versions given) and GEDCOM (other programs). Because I downloaded a GEDCOM file from, I chose "GEDCOM" and clicked on "I know where the file is" because I put it in a known place. The other option is to "Search for files." The next screen shows my list of databases where I put the GEDCOM file. I found the right file, and clicked on it and this screen showed:

On the screen above, I am going to "Create a New File" so I input a title for my new database, clicked on the "File location" button in order to tell the program where to put the RootsMagic 4 database (the default is the "My Documents" file - I really don't want it there!). There are several other boxes to check or uncheck.

I clicked on the "OK" button and the GEDCOM Import screen came up with another box asking me "Add a new source to tell where the information in this GEDCOM came from?" with four options:

I picked "NO - Do not add an additional source for imported data." I could have said YES and a new source would have been added for each person and/or event - this may be useful if you have obtained the GEDCOM from another person.

I clicked on "OK" and the GEDCOM import began. I took this screen shot right at the end - showing that the GEDCOM file had 23,010 persons, 9,420 families, 34,360 events, 180 sources, 3,650 citations, and 0 repositories:

The GEDCOM import took less than 20 seconds, which is amazing to me. The RootsMagic screen opened to the Pedigree View with myself highlighted.

This GEDCOM import process is the most logical, fastest and easiest to use that I've encountered.
What other topics would you like me to demonstrate in this series? Tell me in Comments. Don't try to stump me...this is a basic list of tutorials, not for experts!

If you have questions about RootsMagic 4 operations, you can use the Help function in the RootsMagic program. You can also go to the RootsMagic 4 website at and read their Frequently Asked Questions and their Message Boards (you have to register a username and password in order to post).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Exporting a Tree from

Several readers have asked me how to export a Family Tree from This is relatively easy, but you have to know where to look for the right links to click on.

I uploaded a new "Ancestors of Randy Seaver" Family Tree last week, and over the past several days I have attached some historical records (census records) to persons in the tree. Here is the Family Tree Pedigree View of my tree:

Just above the dark green header, on the right side, is the link for "Tree Settings." Click on that link, and you see your "Tree Info" and over on the right side is a section for "Export your tree" with a light green button for "Export tree." Click on the light green button, and Ancestry will prepare your GEDCOM file for downloading:

When the GEDCOM file has been created from your database, then another light green button that says "Download your GEDCOM file" appears:

Click on the "Download your GEDCOM file" and the box asking if you want to Open or Save your file appears:

If you want to Open the file in your genealogy software, then click on "Open." If you want to save your file to your file folders, click on "Save," and you can open the GEDCOM file later using your genealogy software. You can also Cancel at this point too.

Pretty easy, isn't it? You just have to know where to click in the New Look for Family Trees.

Note that back on Screen 2 the user can "Delete your tree" using the link provided under the "Export tree" section. However, warns that doing this means: "This cannot be undone. It includes deleting all people, photos, stories, etc. in the tree."

I was interested to see if the Source Citations for the Historical Facts I created would appear in the Source Citations in my genealogy software. I thought that they would, but wondered what they would look like. Stay tuned!

CVGS Research Group Summary - 8 July 2009

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group met on Wednesday, 8 July with 12 in attendance.

* Randy started the session by describing the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree events he attended, and passing the syllabus and program around for the group to see.

* Shirley described her activities and the sessions she attended. She heard Paul Nauta, Wendy Elliott, Lisa Alzo, Chris Child, Leland Meitzler and Lisda Louise Cooke during the conference. She showed her spreadsheet with 20 Eber Sweet persons, listing birth, death, parents and spouse, in an effort to keep them all straight. She worked also on her Wright family in NY.

* Virginia has uploaded her tree on OneGreatFamily, and received a query about her brickwall Robert Dunlop. She has found a Dutch ancestor in her Bland family line, and is learning a lot from her ancestor's California diary from 1856.

* Dick is going to Chicago and Wisconsin for a vacation later in July. He's going to see his kids, cousins, buddies, attend a reunion and do some research in Dane County WI. He got lots of good advice about preparing for the trip and going to different repositories.

* Gary is recovering from his computer hard drive crash, and has installed the Windows 7 beta and says "it is different."

* Dave helped his 11 year-old grandson with a family tree project. They studied in the library, worked in his family tree program, and created a report with family photos and charts from RootsMagic. His grandson got an "A" on the paper and his presentation. Dave hopes his grandson continues to be interested in family history.

* John did more work in in the 1911 census for his daughter-in-law's family. He had more success with his Patrick family in North Caroline - he found some land records in Rowan County in 1762 and in Davie County in 1792, including a map with his William Patrick shown. He also contacted Bear Creek Baptist Church and got some cemetery pictures, but not of Patrick graves.

* Marcia found a USA Today article about the "Terrible Legacy of Eugenics" and shared it with the group.

* Pat talked to our June speaker, Joan Lowrey, who helped her obtain a record of Pat's ancestor in a New York Immigrant Savings Bank ledger for 1867. It listed the Irish home counties of the couple, their residence in New York City, and more.

* Neva noted that researchers can find information about cemeteries by Googling the town name and a specific cemetery, or use just the town name and the word "cemetery." She described her experiences trying to get a Colorado death certificate for her long-deceased grandfather - she needed to show her relationship to the deceased with documents.

* Randy shared his experiences with,, and his search for the family of Ben Kaber.

The next CVGS Research Group meeting will be Wednesday, 12 August at 12 noon in the Chula Vista Civic Center Library Conference Room.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

GenealogyWise Update

It looks like GenealogyWise has really taken off after the email received yesterday by several hundred genealogy buffs on the FamilyLink mailing list. There were several tweets about it by FamilyLink people yesterday afternoon, and I posted about it yesterday afternoon, and since then over 500 people have signed up to be members.

Not only that, but those (over) 500 people have started networking - making Friends (I'm up to 64 without much effort on my part), forming Groups (over 200 tonight), writing blog posts (26 tonight, all in one blog), writing Forum posts (15 topics tonight) on selected topics, Uploading Videos (131 as of tonight), and Chatting (seems to be ongoing, with ebbs and floods). Wow.

Every time you are accepted by a Friend, join a Group, or someone starts a discussion the Member gets an email informing them.

It's hard to decide who to ask to be your Friend, which Group(s) to join, to post on the Blog and/or the forum. I'm being selective right now, because I can see that this site may become a real time hole... and that's actually a good thing if it significantly helps me with my research. On the other hand, if I make everybody my Friend then I may gain more readers for Genea-Musings!

This setup is a little different from Facebook. You can see the basic information (name, location, photo, surnames of interest, localities of interest, research level, and more) of every member, not just your Friends. I'm really not sure why we have Friends... unless it's so we can see more of their submissions - blogs, photos, videos, etc.

I've already received several notes in my Email from other Members wanting to know about some of the surnames I posted. This is good! I looked to see if the Search function works for the Members' Surnames and it doesn't seem to. That's not good!

The Genealogy Search tab goes to, for which the user needs a subscription.

I've been wondering if:

* This site is going to be the next big thing in Genealogy Research. Will there be tens of thousands (or more) researchers using the site.

* If so, I'm not sure that I can stand all of the emails. I received over 100 emails today from GenealogyWise today telling me about Friends, Groups, etc. They are easy to delete and most are of no lasting value.

* Will it drag all of the Facebook genealogy people over to Genealogywise? Or will everyone stay on Facebook too?

* Will GenealogyWise become too big too fast for FamilyLink to adequately support it with server space and support?

* Will there be a Family Tree application? FamilyLink already has two Family Tree sites - and - will they use these sites, or will they create another tree site with a wiki interface or some sort of collaboration?

* What about the We're Related application on Facebook and other social networks? Can it be integrated into the GenealogyWise social network?

That's about it for tonight, I have a time crunch right now with the granddaughters here and we're making family history, rather than blogging about it.

Family Photographs - Post 63: Betty and the Balloon (not a Squash)

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless Wednesday posts like others do - I simply am incapable of having a wordless post.

This photograph is from my grandfather's photo album that I scanned during Scanfest in January:

This is a photograph of my mother, Betty Virginia Carringer, taken in late 1920 or in 1921 by her father, Lyle Carringer, probably in the yard of the house at 2054 Harrison Avenue in San Diego. Previous photographs in this series have shown the chicken coop in the background also.

I am unsure what it is that Betty is holding. It looks like a large gourd or a large squash, although it may be a balloon (since it is so smooth and uniform). What do you think?

UPDATED: Everybody thinks it's a balloon, and a close exam of the tip of it seems to show a tie, so I guess it's a balloon.

SDGS Meeting on 11 July - Annual Book Auction and Potluck Luncheon

The July meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society is on Saturday, 11 July at St. Andrews Lutheran Church (8350 Lake Murray Blvd, in San Diego, at Jackson Drive).

At 10 a.m., there are two classes:

* RootsMagic Users Group, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

* Beginners Class, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The program, starting at 12 noon, is the Annual Book Auction and Potluck Luncheon. The description of this program is:

It is that time again for our ever popular book auction. This is your chance to get great bargains on genealogical books, journals, magazines and other items to improve your research. There will be LOTS of unique and hard-to-find items, so get there early to preview the collection and be prepared for spirited bidding. This is a great way to get those much-needed research tools while helping the Society raise money. So, bring lots of cash and your checkbook. We will also have book tables for direct sales.

Our auctioneer will be the Society's Past-President, Peter Steelquist. With over 20 years of genealogy experience, he will be sure that bidding is lively and that everyone has an equal opportunity to get in the highest bid. Having fun will be the prerequisite for the afternoon. Be sure not to miss it.

For our potluck, bring your favorite dishes. (The Society has some great cooks!) Last names beginning with A-H can bring main course and casseroles, I-R for desserts and S-Z to bring salads. Be sure to also bring serving utensils for your dish as well as a place setting for yourself. Coffee and beverage will be provided. Bon appetit!

Hmmm. I need to find my list of books and periodicals that I own and update it. Ah, it's on LibraryThing! Cool. I wonder what goodies I can pick up for the CVGS library too? We'll see.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Genealogywise = Facebook for Genealogists

It was bound to happen, and has done it. They started a dedicated "Facebook for Genealogists." I received an email today describing it,
which included:

"FamilyLink has created a new genealogy social network named It's like Facebook for genealogy, with member profiles, video sharing, forums, member blogs, chat, surname groups and more."

Of course, I had to try it out. [Note: there was no request to embargo this information...]

I found the web page at and signed up for an account. Then I added my genealogy information (which can be edited) to create my page, and I was on the site.

Here is the home page:

On the home page, the member can check on the Latest Activity, read Blog Posts (apparently any member can post?), and deal with your account. The tabs across the top are Main, Invite (use your email client's address book? Um, not me!), My Page, Members, forum, Groups, Blogs, Video, Genealogy Search, Chat, Store, and More.

I changed the default template for "My Page to look like (two screens):

On this page, I can see my Friends, my Text Box, My Photos, and my Comments Wall.

This website sure looks more friendly than Facebook does, and it loads much quicker. Of course, there are not 200 million people on it yet to sort through!

Will this site work for the genealogy community? Only if a critical mass of members sign up and submit content. To me, a "critical mass" means tens of thousands, not hundreds, of active members. It's possible, I think.

Members on the site need "Friends" to share with, and so I invite my readers to be my Friends. The only way I saw to ask someone to be a Friend, other than submitting your email address book, or inputting individual email addresses, is to go to the Members page, clicking on each person's image, and click on "Add As Friend." The person will have to approve you as a Friend. You can search for a Member also, and after becoming their Friend, you can ask their Friends to be your Friend too.

I'm sure that I, and other bloggers, will have a lot more to say about this website. At first glance, it looks promising.

More SCGS Genealogy Jamboree Audio/Video

There were at least three genealogy audio and video providers interviewing guests at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree on 26-28 June in Burbank.

They included:

1) Roots Television - -- the interviews posted to date are:

* Paula Hinkel of SCGS, interviewed by Mathew Poe.

* Tukufu Zuberi of The History Detectives, interviewed by Dick Eastman

* Andrew Wait of, interviewed by Dick Eastman

* Pat Richley, AKA dearMYRTLE, interviewed by Dick Eastman

* David Rencher of FamilySearch, interviewed by Dick Eastman

* Drew Smith of The Genealogy Guys Podcast, interviewed by Dick Eastman

* Thomas Kemp of GenealogyBank, interviewed by Matthew Poe.

* Katharine Hope Borges of ISOGG, interviewed by Dick Eastman

* Bennett Greenspan of FamilyTreeDNA, interviewed by Matthew Poe

* Jana Sloan Broglin, lecturer and writer, interviewed by Matthew Poe

* Bruce Buzbee of RootsMagic, interviewed by Matthew Poe.

* Christopher Child of NEHGS, interviewed by Matthew Poe.

* Eric Keith of, interviewed by Matthew Poe

* George G. Morgan of the Genealogy Guys, interviewed by Dick Eastman

* Tom Underhill of Creative Continuum, interviewed by Matthew Poe

* Illya D'Addezio of GenealogyToday and LiveRoots, interviewed by Matthew Poe

* Tony Burroughs, author, professor and genealogy expert, interviewed by Matthew Poe.

* Julie Miller, program chairperson of the 2010 National Genealogical Society Conference, interviewed by Dick Eastman.

2) The Genealogy Guys (George G. Morgan and Drew Smith) -- the video and podcasts posted to date (with videos to come later) include:

* Bruce Buzbee of RootsMagic, interviewed by Drew Smith (part of Podcast #176, near the end)

* Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems Podcast, interviewed by Drew Smith (part of Podcast #177, near the end)

* Tukufu Zuberi of the History Detectives, interviewed by Drew Smith (part of Podcast #178)

* Julie Miller, CG, interviewed by Drew Smith (part of Podcast #179)

* Maureen A. Taylor, the Photo Detective, interviewed by George Morgan (part of Podcast #180).

* Janet Hovorka of GenerationMaps and author of The Chart Chick blog, interviewed by Drew Smith (part of Podcast #181, about 15:30 on the counter). This interview is also on video here.

* Craig Manson, legal expert and author of the Geneablogie blog, interviewed by Drew Smith (part of Podcast #181, about 28:40 on the counter).

3) Genealogy Gems TV and Genealogy Gems Podcast (Lisa Louise Cooke) -- the video and podcasts include:

* Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog, interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel (also in Podcast #67 about the SCGS Jamboree).

* Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers blog, interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel (also in Podcast #68)

* footnoteMaven of the footnoteMaven and Shades of the Departed blogs, interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke (in Podcast #38 of the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcasts)

* Schelly Talalay Dardashti of the Tracing the Tribe blog, interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke (in Podcast #39 of the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcasts).

* Denise Levenick of the Family Curator blog, interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke (in Podcast #39 of the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcasts).

* Tony Burroughs, Genealogy Expert, interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke on her Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.

* Janet Hovorka, The Chart Chick (Generation Maps), interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke on Episode #28 of the Genealogy Gems Premium podcasts.

* Jana Sloan Broglin, lecturer and writer, talking about Probate Records (and her DNA connection), interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke on her GenealogyGems YouTube Channel.

I will add more as they become available.

UPDATED last on 23 September 2009.

Study Program for Genealogists

Several of my society colleagues have asked me "what do you suggest that I study to improve my genealogy knowledge and research skills."

My answer has always been a haphazard ticking off of several thick genealogy books, including Greenwood's Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, Mills' Professional Genealogy, and Mills' Evidence Explained, among others.

Elizabeth Shown Mills provided a 10-point blueprint that would provide solid grounding and enhanced skills for any genealogist. You can see the list on the Transitional Genealogist Forum mailing list here.

In my own case, I have every one of the books that Elizabeth recommends, except for The Source. I know our local library has it, so I'll start studying that too. Maybe it will help me write sources better? I'm involved in two study groups , one of which is using the Lichtman study method to discuss NGSQ articles, and the other is working through the Professional Genealogy book.

Perhaps the best aid for me has been the examples in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. In many articles, the case studies parallel my own research problems and can be used as a blueprint and provide research ideas for further research.

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Look for Family Trees - Post 2

I started my review of the Ancestry Member Tree "improvements" last week in New Look for Family Trees - Post 1. In this post, I want to look at the Person Pages and discuss them a bit.

In the previous post about the "Family Tree" page, I struggled to find a link to "View Profile" of a person. I finally found it as an icon on the "Family Group Sheet" and as a link in the "Pedigree View" and "Family View." When I click on "View Profile," I see (two screens):

The "Person Page" above shows the "Overview" tab information - the person's name, birth and death information, media gallery items (I have none at this time), Timeline of Facts (with number of sources noted), Parents, Spouse(s) and Children, Historical Records (I have none right now) and Web Links (I have none right now). The "Historical Records" area is where the downloaded records from databases would be listed. The "Web Links" is where a user might link to a static web page or blog post.

There are seven tabs on the menu bar - from "Overview" on the left to "Edit Person" on the right. Let's go left to right on these tabs:

When I click on the "Facts and Sources" tab, the "Facts and Events" page shows:

The link for "Sources" shows:

The Source information reflects the information included in the source citations I input for each fact in my database. I can add another source on this page, and delete a source, or edit an existing source by clicking on the source citation itself.

The "Media Gallery" tab permits addition of photo images, text stories, and uploading of video and/or audio files. Uploading files is easy and fast. If I want other researchers to see my research Notes, I need to copy and paste them from the "View Notes" page.

The "Comments" tab permits other researchers to make comments on the information for this person in my family tree.

If I clicked on the "Hints" tab, I could see what records and other Ancestry Member Tree entries were found for my Person:

The next tab to the right is the "Member Connect," where the user can find others with this person in their family tree. However, this feature is still in work.

The last tab on the far right is the "Edit this person" tab, where the user can edit the birth and death information for the Person.

Clicking on the place name link on any of these pages takes the user to the Ancestry Maps Beta page with a map courtesy of Microsoft Maps Live Search. There are stick pins in the locations associated with the person and the places in the Facts and Timeline.

Back on the general Person Page (the first two screens above), there are other links in the box for the Person, including "Ancestry Hints," "Show immediate family," "View family tree," "Search historical records," "Print or publish," "View note" and "More options."

I clicked on the "Show immediate family" and saw this screen:

The "View note" link provides a popup box with the Notes that were in my genealogy database:

The user can edit or remove these Notes, but there are no editing tools (font type, font size, bold, italics, underline, justification, etc.). There is a message at the top of the Notes field that says: "Notes can only be viewed by the owner and by those invited to the tree as an 'Editor'."

In the "Print or Publish" link, the user can "Print" the page out, or choose to "Create book from your family tree" or "Create a poster from your family tree," using the MyCanvas publishing tool. The "Print" option provides a page with very small text (it must be a 6-size font - I need a magnifier to read it).

The "More options" link enables the user to "Create a military page," "Find famous relatives" and "Save person to another tree."

From the Person Page, the user can navigate to another person in the tree by:

* Clicking on the underlined (linked) name of another person on the Person Page

* Clicking on the "View family tree" link in the Person's box (just above the "Overview" tab)

* Use the "Home person" or "List of all people" links, or put the name of a person in the "search for a person in the tree" field.

This "Person Page" is pretty complicated, with Navigation and Information links and tabs mixed together. It might "look" better if all of the Navigation items were in one row (perhaps at the top?) and all of the Information items for the Person were in one row (perhaps at the bottom of the Person frame?).

The one "content" item I really don't like is the "View Notes" link which is hidden from other users unless they are an "editor." Why is this? It's supposed to be a "Public Member Tree." I can understand the need to keep anybody but an "editor" to change the notes, but they should be visible to the reader. If other researchers could read the Person Notes, they might be able to judge the veracity of the information provided, or know that they could add to it using a "Comment." All of my "Stories" are in my "Notes" field, and it would be a time waster for me to copy and paste each of them into a "Stories" Media item. I also think that the Notes should be able to be printed out as part of a genealogy report.

Genealogy reports? Well, there aren't any options here other than to "Create book from your family Tree" using the MyCanvas option. I've tried to do this several times and have been frustrated by the results and the limitations of the MyCanvas publishing tool. My suggestion is that additional text reports be formatted to provide an ancestry report (in Ahnentafel format) for up to 5 or 6 generations, a descendant's report for 5 or 6 generations, and a descendant's chart indented by generation; all with options to print Notes and Source citations (as end notes). These are the three most useful reports on the Rootsweb WorldConnect and Ancestry One World Tree databases.

This latest Ancestry Member Tree presentation is, in my judgment, a significant improvement. It seems pretty logical to me - with tabs and links to the different pages for each Person. However, I find that it is very difficult to navigate from one generation to another in these Ancestry Member Trees (too many clicks, takes too long to load pages, etc.), and it is very difficult to print out a useful and readable pedigree chart, family group sheet or genealogy report.

My Interview with Lisa Louise Cooke at Jamboree

Lisa Louise Cooke was a very busy interviewer and videographer at the SCGS Jamboree, along with her video producer, Lacey Cooke, Lisa's daughter.

I was fortunate to be one of the subjects of Lisa's friendly and easy-going interviewing style for one of her Genealogy Gems YouTube videos. My 12 minutes of fame (I guess I have three minutes left...) can be seen at (click on TV set):

Or click on the Play button below:

Well, what do you think? Like my shirt? My wife's shirt says "Geneaholic's Widow" for some reason. Lisa said I had a good "radio voice" - I wonder what she meant by that?

This interview was right out in the exhibit area at Jamboree so it is a little noisy in the background and there were some distractions of people walking by and talking to Lacey or Lisa without knowing what was happening.

I know that Lisa has many more interviews to show - I look forward to hearing and seeing them!

Thank you, Lisa and Lacey, for your hard work and fun efforts to bring genealogy video to your listeners and viewers, and to my readers too.

TGN ==> Ho hum

The official announcement of the name change from The Generations Network to was released today. You can read the press release on Dick Eastman's blog here.

What does all this mean? A little job security for the sign makers, the lawyers and bankers, and all of the programmers that have to change the corporate logo and web pages to reflect the name change. They didn't add or delete any properties.

I think that they missed the chance to rename themselves as something really meaningful - such as:

* The Ancestry Network (TAN, it's really a network, right?)

* The Genealogy Network (TGN, hmm, tried that acronym already, but this is the most logical one, isn't it?)

* All Your Relatives Belong To Us (AYRBUS)

* (

* Family-Roots-Ancestry-Genealogy (FRAG, sort of an All-in-One name, eh?)

Drat - I should have made this the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun topic over the weekend!

Can you help (previously, The Generations Network,, and Ancestry Publishing) figure out their next corporate name? They'll need another one in three to five years, I think. Write your own blog post or make a Comment here.

There is some interesting information in the press release for watchers like me:

" is the world's leading online family history resource, with more than 4 billion records, proprietary search technologies and an engaged community of 950,000 subscribers and more than 3.5 million active members."

" is the world's leading resource for online family history and has digitized and put online over 4 billion records over the past twelve years. Ancestry users have created over ten million family trees containing over one billion profiles. has local Web sites directed at nine countries, and more than 8 million unique visitors spent more than 4 million hours on an Ancestry Web site in April 2009 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide)."

The bottom line is still that it is the biggest commercial player in the genealogy world, appreciated by many, reviled by some, and trying hard to improve their product. This company will continue to grow only if they continue to add database content, improve their indexing and search functions, take their online family trees into the Genealogy Cloud, and greatly improve their book/report creation capabilities.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Best of the Genea-Blogs - June 28 - July 4, 2009

Several hundred genealogy and family history bloggers write thousands of posts every week about their research, their families, and their interests. I appreciate each one of them and their efforts.

My criteria for "Best of ..." are pretty simple - I pick posts that advance knowledge about genealogy and family history, address current genealogy issues, provide personal family history, are funny or are poignant. I don't list posts destined for the genealogy carnivals, or other meme submissions (but I do include summaries of them), or my own posts.

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week:

* Online Digitized Collections for Genealogy by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog. James compiled this list of websites with digitized genealogy books. Great finding aid!

* 20th Edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy by Jessica Oswalt on the Jessica's Genejournal blog. There were three entries in this monthly Carnival, and the topic was a Carousel (any topic the autohr chose).

* Your Oldest Relative has Photos for You! by Craig Manson in his Appealing Subjects column on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. Craig points the way to which has many photographs taken by and for government agencies. I didn't know this! Thanks, Craig.

* Is Google’s Search Really a Single Field? by The Ancestry Insider on the The Ancestry Insider blog. There are some interesting and useful tips in this post - but they aren't about Google per se - they are about other sites that do a better search than Google does!

* Comment: Successes and Failures of Genealogy Conferences by Dick Eastman on the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. Dick opines about why some genealogy conferences are successful and others flounder. Good ideas and excellent commentary!

* Why Twitter is Great for Genealogists by Tina on the Tina's Genealogical Wish List blog. Tina has excellent thoughts about using Twitter for more than promoting your blog posts.

* Graveyard Rabbits Carnival – July 2009 by Julie Tarr on The Graveyard Rabbit blog. There were 15 entries to this monthly Carnival on the subject of Obituaries - submitters were to find both a gravestone and an obituary.

* Preventing Identity Theft with the SSDI by Dick Eastman on the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. This is a timely article by Dick that explains why the SSDI is helpful to preventing identity theft. [I know - I have two of Dick's posts on this list - but they are good!]

* Days Four and Five: Longford, Day 6: Belfast, Day Seven: Belfast to Dublin,
Day Eight: Dublin, Day Nine: Dublin, Day Ten: Dublin, and Day Eleven: Last Day in Dublin by Doona Moughty on Donna's Genealogy Blog. I've been following donna's research trip to Ireland over the past two weeks. It's a great look at how an Irish genealogy expert does research.

* A Critique of Genetic Ancestry Testing in Science Magazine by Blaine Bettinger on The Genetic Genealogist blog. Blaine discusses the support of government regulation of genetic testing endorsed by five leading bioethicists, and has some different opinions about the issue.

* Taking on your Brickwalls by Gena Philibert Ortega on the Gena's Genealogy blog. Gena has an outstanding list of ways to attack your brickwall research problems.

* Will They Appear Again? by Denise Levenick in the Penelope Dreadful column on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. Penelope writes another fascinating account - what a great picture too. Fiction? Non-fiction? Doesn't matter!

* THE "JUST MAKE UP SOME GENEALOGY LYRICS" GENEAMUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA! by Bill West on the West in New England blog. Challenge geneabloggers to something and they respond! Here is Bill's summary post for 13 geneablogger posts about genealogy-oriented lyrics sung to well-known music. Enjoy!

* ThinkGenealogy Innovator Award #4 by Mark Tucker on the ThinkGenealogy blog. Mark awards his innovation award to RootsMagic's developer team for implementation of research analysis classification of sources, information, and RootsMagic 4. (edited)

* The 75th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Justice and Independence by Colleen McHugh on the Orations of OMcHodoy blog. There were 19 submittals for this Carnival on the subject of Justice and Independence.

I encourage you to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blog to your Favorites, Bloglines, reader, feed or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also - all bloggers appreciate feedback on what they write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me! I am currently reading posts from over 500 genealogy bloggers using Bloglines, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

UPDATED: 7:30 p.m. Mark Tucker emailed a correction my notes and I updated my item on his ThinkGenealogy blog post. Thanks, Mark.