Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun --Did you advance today?

Hey there, genealogy fans - it's Saturday Night, time for some Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to:

1) Answer the question: How did I advance my genealogy research today? [Or, this past week? Or this past month?]

2) Answer the question: How did I advance my genealogy education today? [Or past week? or past month?]

3) Share your answers on your own blog post, on a comment to this post, or on a Facebook status or comment on this note on Facebook.

Here's mine:

1) I haven't advanced my research today, but I did spend one day at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, and found several helpful resources for several surname lines. I wrote about them in My Day at the FHL.

2) I've attended several presentations at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Salt Lake City this week - details are in my posts about Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 at the NGS Conference. In addition, I've talked to many genealogy providers at the conference - from big players like Ancestry, FamilySearch and Footnote down to the startup companies like Sharing Time, Apple Tree, Genlighten and others.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 3 at the NGS Conference

Friday was cloudy and cold, but dry. Good thing, too. There are about 2,500 people at the NGS 2010 Conference in Salt Lake City, according to reliable sources. Great buzz in the classrooms and the exhibit hall.

The 8 a.m. hour featured the comedy team of David Rencher, Alan Mann, Robert Raymond and Dean Hunter, all of FamilySearch, who presented "Doing Research in Real Time -- An Exhilarating Collaboration." I blogged about this earlier.

Then it was into the Exhibit Hall and the computers where I wrote The Future of Genealogy collaboration? post. I met reader Finn Hansen at the computer area and he demonstrated some of the features of New FamilySearch for me. At 11 a.m., I wandered into the GenTech Zone and talked to Matt Helm and then Earl Mott of Sharing Time.

I had a quick lunch, eating with geneablogger Amy Urman, and then went back to the computer to write Genealogy Collaboration, Take Two. I checked my email, Facebook and blogs too... Went off and talked to more folks in the Exhibit area.

I attended the 2:30 p.m. talk by Alison Hare on "Ontario Origins." Alison defined available repository and online records for the census, vital, estates, land and military areas. I'm afraid I didn't catch everything here because I was sleepy - just hope I didn't snore too loud. sorry, Alison, it wasn't you - it was a good talk but someone was tired.

Refreshed, it was back to the Exhibit Hall until 5 p.m. Talked to Dick Eastman, Megan Smolenyak and several geneabloggers.

Went back to hotel, and got the word that bloggers were meeting at Olive Garden. We walked over and had a wonderful time with Sheri Fenley, Denise Levenick and Donna Pointkouski. Many laughs and stories. We left at 8:30, just in time to make the WDYTYA? showing. hosted a dessert in the Convention Center for NGS attendees at 9 p.m. so that nobody missed the show, since the NGS Banquet was at 7 p.m. It was a fine show, and many bloggers sat together to kibitz and laugh. After the show, we snagged several other bloggers and took a group picture, witgh Ron Arons doing the photo honors on about eight cameras.

That's Day 3. We are leaving on Saturday after 12 noon, so blogging will be light on Saturday until we get home.

Genealogy Collaboration, Take Two

Two plus two often equals four...

I was just walking around at lunch time today at the NGS Conference thinking "you know, David Rencher made a really big deal about online collaboration in his interview with me, and then this demonstration of real-time collaboration today - I wonder how FamilySearch is going to make that happen?"

I wandered around the Tech Zone and saw the booth for Sharing Time and talked to Earl A. Mott, the President of the company. His company is working with FamilySearch to develop a real-time collaboration web site. The brochure says, in part:

"Why are you working alone?

"Find and connect -- Discover others who are working on the same person or the same line. Save time, avoid digging repetitious 'dry holes' and turn a lonely endeavor into a family adventure by working as a team.

"Collaborate -- Reach across borders, oceans, languages and time. SharingTime is the new platform for those who are passionate about connecting with others who share common ancestral lines.

"Communicate -- SharingTime integrates over 50 languages and translates in real-time making it easy and fun to collaborate with nearly anyone living anywhere in the world."

Earl said that when his product launches that there will be an icon on the persons in New FamilySearch that will link to and persons with access to New FamilySearch will be able to communicate, collaborate and upload document images to Footnote Pages in real-time. If you go to, there is little information - you can sign up for an email notification and download a brochure (the one I picked up today). If you are an LDS Member, you can sign up for a private beta experience. Apparently, Sharing Time is not yet a FamilySearch Certified Affiliate yet.

Doesn't that sound like what David Rencher was describing? It does to me - maybe I'm all wet here, but this may be how FamilySearch is going to do the collaboration effort.

Is there competition for There may be - look at this description of FamilySearch Affiliate on the FamilySearch Affiliates index:

"Family Pursuit enables families to work together on their family history by providing a centralized private and secure family tree website packed with features that enable family members to maintain an up-to-date and accurate genealogy database, coordinate and document research efforts, and upload documents and photos. Family Pursuit's intuitive drag and drop technology allows family members to easily transfer information between their family tree website and New FamilySearch. Family Pursuit's unique wiki-based approach enables family members to monitor the entire database and easily undo mistakes. An unlimited number of family members can be invited to join a family tree and each family member receives his/her own login."

That also sounds pretty similar to what David Rencher has been saying - it's a different way of sharing in a more private collaborative environment.

My impression, based on what I've discussed and heard at the NGS Conference, is that FamilySearch and its affiliates are going to create one of the largest genealogy wiki environments based on the New FamilySearch Family Tree database. When non-LDS members have access to the nFS Family Tree, then, hopefully, they can participate in the collaborative process being developed.

I'm sure that we will hear more about this as the process is developed. I thought that my devoted, and collaborative, readers would like to know about this!

The Future of Genealogy Collaboration?

I attended the 8 a.m. presentation of "Doing Research in Real Time - An Exhilarating Collaboration" with David Rencher, Alan Mann, Robert Raymond and Dean Hunter. These guys work together at FamilySearch. David was the moderator, and Alan, Robert and Dean manned the computers to bring records and documents to life.

The premise here is that people in different parts of the world can work together for a common good. It could be in real time (a day and hour - say weekly) or it could be any time. They can use free communication, organization and aggregation tools to keep the process flowing.

In the presentation, the team had an aggregator who would take records found by the other team members and would put them on Footnote Pages for the subject persons (note that Footnote Pages are FREE for anyone to access and use, and media items (images, audio, video) can be uploaded to them).

The team had virtual assistants in Lowndes and Greene Counties, Alabama and in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. They were tasked with finding tombstones in cemeteries (and taking pictures of them) and finding records on microfilm to support the project. They all communicated by email or mobile device and transmitted images to the team for posting on footnote pages.

Go look at the Footnote Pages for Peyton C. Clements, Quincy E. Clements and Angelina Clements Goldsmith. The syllabus pages are online at

This process could be used by any person or group to do collaborative research - a surname group, descendants of a common ancestor, a research club or group at a local society, etc.

Communication within the group could use email, a blog, Skype, online message boards, online forums, Ancestry Member Trees, the wiki, a Facebook Group or Page, a GenealogyWise group, or any other free and accessible tool. It would probably be better to have an ongoing online discussion so that the conversation trail is clear. Documents (lists, spreadsheets, analysis, etc.) could be shared on Google Docs or some other editable and shared location.

While this presentation was done in real time at a certain date/time, it could easily be done at any time a team member has the time and resources to do tasks and analysis. If a team had a person with an membership, that person could search for records on, capture them to their computer and contribute the document, properly sourced, to the group effort. If one of the group resided near the Family History Library (or any other major repository) they might be tasked with obtaining records at that repository.

How could genealogy groups (an existing society, or an impromptu genealogy "clubs" with a common interest - say the "Descendants of Robert Seaver") take advantage of this methodology to help their members?

It seems to me that the Ancestry/Rootsweb message boards and the Genforum message boards are already set up for almost all surnames, and all states/counties and countries - they might be the best place to put group discussions in hopes that others with the same interest could read them and participate and reap the collaborative benefit.

I really like the idea of a Footnote Page for the results of a collaborative effort. That's what they were designed for, and are quite capable of providing a free platform for the in-work and finished product. The wiki might be an ideal place to put the whole collaboration and aggregation process in action also. The New FamilySearch Family Tree is supposed to have this collaborative capability and may be the preferred platform for many users (of course, non-LDS members cannot use it right now).

What the genealogy community needs to do is to test out these ideas and promote them. The "best solution" will probably rise to the surface quickly.

This was an interesting and challenging presentation - the audience was really energized by the possibilities. This is truly "Genealogy in the Cloud."

Thank you David, Robert, Alan and Dean for the fun start to Friday morning!

What do you think? How can these concepts be improved and used?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 2 at the NGS Conference

It snowed overnight, but the walks were only wet when we all traipsed into the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City for Day 2 of the National Genealogical Society Conference at 8 a.m.

I went to Elissa Scalise Powell's presentation on "The Research Cycle - Don't Pedal Backwards." [Have you noticed that the professionals all have this catchy title...just wait!]. Elissa described a 7 step Research Cycle, and noted that many researchers start at #5 - "Search and collect the data" without thinking about Steps 1 to 4 - analyze the current state of the problem, create a hypothesis or define a problem, identify all sources for the data, and design a research plan for accessing and examining data. Steps 6 and 7 are analyze and evaluate results and draw a conclusion. Elissa used a case study of Joshua Hammond (born 1797 where? MD, VA or PA?). She found records for Joshua and his siblings to determine that Joshua was born in PA.

The Exhibit Hall opened at 9 a.m., and I talked quite a bit to Leland Meitzler, Tom Kemp, Laura Dansbury of, Diane Haddad and Allison Stacy of Family Tree Magazine, Pat Richley and Ron Arons (dressed in his gangster suit today - he made the local newspaper in his convict outfit on Wednesday). I talked so much that I missed the 9:30 class, so stayed and chatted some more with several other folks.

Before 11 a.m., I went off to attend Elizabeth Shown Mills' talk on "What Kind of source is This? Original? Derivative? Primary? Secondary? Direct? Whatchamacallit?" [see what I mean - have we ever seen "Whatchamacallit in a presentation title before?] Elizabeth discussed "Humpty-Dumpty Words" (those that are obsolete or have imprecise meanings - like "primary source," "secondary source," "collateral source," "printed primary source," "tertiary source," etc. She also discussed the legal and judicial proof standards - preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing, beyond a reasonable doubt -- and noted that they don't serve genealogy well because there is really no such thing as a "Final answer" in genealogical and historical research. Her main point was that genealogy research needs precise and consistent terminology that fits our needs. The terms in the Genealogical Proof Standard serve the genealogists needs - original or derivative source, primary or secondary information, direct and indirect evidence.

I hurried out of the room to have lunch in the lunch area, but got sidetracked to the entrance doors where it was snowing pretty good outside. I had to take some pictures... After lunch, I went to the computer area to check in on Facebook and Twitter. Then it was off to the meeting with the genea-bloggers. There were about 20 in attendance. Eric Shoup summarized the ExpertConnect service (they have 2400 providers, about 700 of them meet an "approved" criteria). The average rating of all providers is 4.7 out of 5, which is excellent.

Tony Macklin then went through some of the changes to the Search process and why they are modifying it. He noted that they engaged 20 of their most passionate critics, and solicited over 400 feedback comments in the process. Most of the discussion was similar to the presentation on Wednesday night. In question time, I asked if was considering a Person wiki along the Ines of New FamilySearch and, and the answer was no. Eric noted that there needed to be some sort of arbitrator and that wasn't able or willing to do that. There were several geneabloggers there that I had not met before - Banai Feldstein, Amy Urman, Mary Douglas and Michelle Goodrum. I also met Rick Crume for the first time.

I was determined to attend the 2:30 p.m. session - and decided on Debbie Mieszala's talk on "The Curious Case of the Disappearing Dude." Debbie chased down James McBride, who was age 2 in the 1880 census in Ottawa County, Michigan, son of Thomas and Mary McBride, with several siblings. She found that father Thomas was a captain on the Great Lakes, that mother Mary died in 1893, and in the 1900 census only the two youngest children were found living with Mary's brother, Joseph Cowan in Muskegon MI. Thomas apparently faked his death in 1883, came back from California where he had run off, and died in Duluth MN after a fall - all from newspaper records. In the process, Debbie found that son James began using the name JC Bud Mars and was an aeronaut, flying balloons and later airplanes, and was actually fairly famous - there's a book about him. He lived to 1944 and died in Los Angeles, after living in San Antonio TX, Fremont MI, New York City, Montpelier VT. A fascinating story about the person, but also about Debbie's search - it's worthy of an NGSQ article, I think!

I hung out in the Exhibit Hall for awhile, then went to my hotel room and read my email, and at 5 p.m., Linda and I walked over to the Nauvoo Cafe in the Joseph Smith Building for dinner. At 6:30 p.m. we got to the LDS Conference Center (21,000 seats) and were treated to a two hour show hosted by Jay Verkler of FamilySearch and featuring five short videos of family history stories, five songs by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and an hour-long dissertation by author David McCullough. We enjoyed all of it! The walk back was cold, but dry!

Day 1 at the NGS Conference

Day 1 at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Salt Lake City dawned rainy and cool, but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the attendees that streamed into the Salt Palace conference Center before 8 a.m. to hear the keynote speech by Jay Verkler, head of the LDS FamilySearch operation.

NGS President Jan Alpert opened the conference right at 8 a.m., introduced a short video "Paths to the Past" (which is very well done), followed by Paula Stuart-Warren's moving tribute to the late Marsha Hoffman Rising, and then Linda Suffridge announced this year's newsletter and other award winners. Jan introduced Jay at around 8:50 a.m.

Jay Verkler presented several videos, including a guided tour of the Granite Mountain Vault, and discussed the goals of FamilySearch in this age of computer-driven genealogy research. After Jay's talk, the Exhibit Hall was opened and everybody streamed in to see what "goodies" could be found among the software companies, web site developers, book sellers and genealogy societies. I ran into a number of bloggers during this time and met several new-to-me people. I picked up some nametag thingies and my "beard" now extends below my belt.

At 11 a.m., I went off to hear Craig Miller of FamilySearch talk about "Genealogy in a Cloud, Guaranteed to Turn the Genealogy World as you know it upside down." Doing Genealogy in the cloud, with many mobile device applications, will eventually disenfranchise the desktop computer (but only if most users adapt to the cloud environment), and will make information and applications independent of the user's computer platform. Craig said that, in the future, the world's records will be increasingly available, that volunteer research assistance will increase, and that smart matching will improve computerized research help.

I talked to a number of people from 12 noon to about 12:45, then went to lunch at the food court, and wandered the exhibit hall until the 2:30 p.m. presentations.

I attended Elizabeth Shown Mills talk on "Smith and Jones:How to Cope with Families of a Common Name." Wow - this was an A+ presentation - it could easily have been an all-day workshop. ESM described two challenging research problems (one for a Mary Smith in Mississippi and the other a Joshua Jones in Illinois) and how to use the Research Process Model, the Research Analysis Model, the Identity Triangulation Model and the Genealogical Proof Standard to solve difficult research problems. My main takeaway here was "when working in a public land state, order a township-range map. A second takeaway was the saying that "all elusive ancestors had their FAN club" - meaning Friends, Associates and Neighbors. At the end, ESM introduced "The Problem-Solving Spiral" to the audience. I must admit that I had not heard of several of these models!

In the final session for the day, I enjoyed The Ancestry Insider's talk on "Blog Your Way to Genelaogical Success." I met Mr. AI in January 2009 at the Ancestry Blogger Day, so was surprised by his statement that he started blogging on a suggestion from an Ancestry executive who wanted him to write a blog so that they could leak information to the public without official comment. He asked the crowd how many bloggers were in attendance and a number of hands went up - and he introduced me (and gave my URL to the crowd). He described the reasons for writing a blog, the benefits of blogging, the use of free resources to create and maintain a blog, and then demonstrated how to create a blog on Blogger - getting a Gmail address if you don't have one, making a title and URL, choosing a layout and defining recommended settings.

I hurried over to the hotel at 5 p.m. to get Linda and go down for dinner at the hotel restaurant. We then went over to the Convention Center for the reception and light dessert. I had good discussions with a number of people, including Barbara Renick, Tony Macklin, Anne Mitchell, Michelle Pfister and Eric Shoup of Ancestry, Jay Verkler of FamilySearch and Joan Hanlon, a new genea-blogger. A fun evening.

Thursday is a day with five presentation times, and topped off in the evening with a celebration of family history at the LDS Conference Center, highlighted by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ancestry Product Announcements

I enjoyed the presentation tonight to a room full of Ancestry members and genealogy observers. CEO Tim Sullivan led it off with brief comments, and then Eric Shoup, Senior Vice-President of Content, described the responsibilities of his Content function and then made three significant product announcements. They were:

1) The Search function was recently enhanced to permit browsing by collection and location, and to permit location and name filters, restrict searches to certain collections and extended wild card capability. New search forms, browsing by places (including specific counties within states), browsing by category, and listing of recent searches will be phased in over time. You can see the new search capabilities at

2) An Wiki is in beta development and is available now at - the first resources online are from the books The Source and RedBook that are excellent standard genealogy reference books. This will be a wiki that persons can contribute to and hopes to build a range of how-to pages. This will be FREE for everyone to use as an educational tool.

3) will release Family Tree Maker 2010 for the Macintosh before the end of 2010. It will have all of the functionality of the Windows version of FTM 2010 - including Web Search and GEDCOM upload/download to This was announced on the blog today in Family Tree Maker for the Mac! - see that post for more details. My initial thought was that this will be serious competition for Reunion genealogy software.

Some interesting facts today from Tim and Eric:

* The Tree-To-Go application on the iPhone has had over 175,000 downloads.

* Old Search is used 22% of the time and New Search is used 78% of the time. There was no indication that Old Search would be eliminated.

* Ancestry has about 700 total employees, of which 40 are in Product and 200 in Technology. The balance are in Content, Marketing and other functions (not broken down with numbers).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Day at the FHL

I was up bright and early on Tuesday for my research day at the Family History Library here in salt Lake City. I had five research goals today and managed to do all of them...but perhaps not as well as I wanted to. The goals were:

1) Find vital records for Piscataway and Woodbridge in New Jersey, for the 1670 to 1800 time period, for my ancestral families - including Martin, Rolfe, Campbell, Dunham, Bonham, Hale, Fitz Randolph, Cutter, Pike and others. I had a look at the original handwritten town records on film, and they were very difficult to read. There were two films with transcriptions of the vital records done in the late 18th century, so I took pictures of those with my camera. I also looked at several other handwritten town books to see if I could find deed or probate records. There were some, but I didn't transcribe, abstract or photo them - I know where they are if I need them later.

2) Search Foster, Rhode Island town records for my Nathaniel Horton. I found his probate records and captured images of them using the microfilm scanning machines. Then I extracted the index data for Nathaniel Horton deeds in Foster RI (RI deeds and probate are held in the town, not the county).

3) Search Killingly, Connecticut vital records for all the information in them...for my Richmond, White, Oatley and Wade families, plus Seaver too. Found another child for Henry A. White and his second wife - died at birth. But I didn't know that. Checked the Killingly land records index for my ancestral families and extracted index information.

4) Find the Thomas Page 1637 will in the Suffolk, England probate records. I found the record indexed in a book of Suffolk probates, which listed a volume and page number. However, the volume didn't match the year in the microfilm records. It turns out that the volume numbers listed for the microfilms don't match the volume numbers in the index book for the actual probate records. I found the will by going page by page - fortunately, each person's will had his name, in Latin, in big fancy letters on the margin of the pages. So I have images of this will - now I need to try to read the secretary hand of the court clerk!

5) I spent the last hour on the Main Floor copying pages from surname books for my Piscataway families - found useful information for Rolfe, Dunham, Bonham and Hale.

Then it was over to the Salt Palace to register for the NGS Conference. The previous material from NGS had no room assignments for the different talks - the registration packet has a booklet with 6-font size letters for the information. Arrgghh.

We ended the day with a walk over to the Red Rock Brewery and had dinner with genea-friends and bloggers Donna Pointkouski and Lisa Alzo. An excellent dinner with spirited conversation! We even took ap icture but my camera batteries failed as we took a second one. Obviously, I took just enough at the FHL today!

The Future of Genealogy, or a Horror Story?

Dick Eastman posted a humorous story of Genealogy Research in the Year 2060 on Saturday...looking into the crystal ball, and seeing, well - you need to go read his post.

Will these things really happen? Or is this just a fantasy, or worse, a horror tale?

* A retina scan using a webcam? [Every person's retina scan is in a database, and every company has proprietary software to evaluate it?]

* "Greenspan Genetic Markers" for every living person since 2022? [Are there computer systems and software big and fast enough to do this?]

* The ability to figure out the DNA of every person who ever lived based on those GGMs? [see snark above]

* A 12-generation chart can be created from some database in seconds, with 138 pages of documentation? [Heck, my 12-generation chart is only about 25% full and it prints out to be over 2,000 pages in a really small font!].

* A Wholly Genes cruise to Mars? [What for - to find Martian DNA? Or sell TMG Version 369?] Is the Roy Stockdill memorial naming an inside joke? I would have named it after John Titford!

* The DNA results shows a great-great-grandmother's indiscretion with the gardener? With that, Megan's research had 99.5% accuracy? [If one of the 16 great-great-grands lines is wrong, then that's 93.33% accuracy, right?] [Memo to Megan: did your GGGM have a gardener? You better check it out].

* Email addresses with AOL, Google and Yahoo in them? [pretty far-fetched, especially AOL! Will there even be email then? Will we receive telepathic messages then on a beeber implanted in our brain? Will some people claim to receive messages from their ancestors on their beeber?]

* There's lots more...

* The most depressing part was that there was no "thrill of the hunt." I think that's what many of us enjoy the most - having a cut-and-dried genealogy all done for us waiting for us to buy it is really a downer for me!

* The best one of all - a 99 year guarantee on genealogy database accuracy. [right...and I have a nice used low light-year anti-gravity space-car to sell you, Mr. Jetson...]

* Hmmm, not a word about the Generations United Company [you know, the one that used to be MyFamily, TGN, and Ancestry]. Is it still in business, or was it swallowed up by a conglomerate and the databases sold off piecemeal?

* I was sorry to hear of the ignominious demise of Mr. Eastman - I always figured it would be a lightning strike that did him in while wearing all of his devices in his jacket out in a restaurant parking lot somewhere.

Pardon my snark above... I couldn't resist. Dick's post is creative and provides a look at what genealogy might evolve to in a perfect world run by genealogists. But the genealogy world, just like our real world today, is imperfect and not run by well-meaning folks like us.

But I have questions:

* Will the millions of family trees on Ancestry, New FamilySearch and other databases blend into One Great Big Mother of All Family Trees? I sincerely doubt it. If anything, the confusion, duplication and errors in online family trees will be worse in 2060 than it is today, simply because nobody will agree that their precious data is wrong! There may be some "certified accurate" family trees but they will likely be very expensive!

* Will more records be found for past generations? Perhaps some brick walls will be knocked down as FamilySearch images and indexes their microfilms, and as other companies and repositories image and index their holdings, but I sincerely doubt that many more historical record sets will be found - it's much more likely that they will be lost ala the German record destruction in a building collapse. In the worst case, EMP events may render electronic communication and devices sterile for decades (granted, that's what the Granite Mountain is for!).

* Will all of the world's population provide a DNA sample that enables the Bennet Greenspans of the world to analyze it for ancestry in every line? I sincerely doubt it. Just because 100 people have had their genome done, doesn't mean that it can be done for 10 billion people in the next 50 years.

* Does anybody really think that a fully completed ancestry can be printed off on a nice-looking wall scroll and purchased for $24.95 (probably 2010 dollars, eh? - likely to be $500 in 2060 money using Family ChArtist Version 17 at Hovorka Enterprises).

Although my crystal ball is really cloudy [note to self - polish that thing more often...], I suspect that genealogy research in 2060 will be much faster, relatively cheaper, and even more error-prone than it is today. Researchers will be able to make many more mistakes in an hour than I make in a day.

What do you think? What is the future of genealogy?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Genea-Musings is in Salt Lake City this week

Genea-Musings is on the road to Salt Lake City - we should be getting into our hotel room at the Radisson Hotel the time you read this. The plan for the week is to:

1) Visit the Family History Library on Tuesday (with several thousand other researchers, I fear!). My goals there are to look for the Thomas Page will in Suffolk, England records; search for vital records in Piscataway and Woodbridge NJ town records for Putman, Dunham, Martin, Ayers, and other surnames; do more searching for Lamphear people in Jefferson County NY; search for land and probate records in Windham County CT for my Richmond, White, Oatley and Wade folks; and more if I have time!

2) Attend the NGS Conference on Wednesday through Saturday morning. We are returning to San Diego on Saturday afternoon. I've spent three nights reading through the syllabus and have printed about an inch of paper of presentations I want to attend. Many are at the same time, so attendance may be a "game-day" decision.

3) Enjoy the Exhibit Hall, and talk to as many exhibitors as possible. I'll also try to act as "Ace Reporter Randy Seaver" ferreting out genealogy news and highlights from the companies and meetings.

4) Enjoy the company and camaraderie of all of the genea-bloggers and ProGen folks during the week. I'm not sure about any specific meetup plans yet. If you see me in a meeting room or in the Exhibit Hall, please stop and say hello - I love meeting Genea-Musings readers and genea-bloggers.

5) I will have my laptop along for the ride, but don't expect me to tweet or blog specific sessions. I will try to post day summaries each evening along with any "special" experiences at the conference.

6) The "regular" Genea-Musings posts will be missing, including Best of the Genea-Blogs for the week. I will try to come up with an appropriate Saturday Night Genealogy Fun for all of my readers.

Chula Vista Genealogical Society News

Recent posts on the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog (the blog for the Chula Vista Genealogical Society) include:

* Genealogy 101 - A Beginning Genealogy Workshop -- details of a four-session beginners class to be held in May on Tuesday nights with Randy Seaver as instructor.

* New or Updated Online Databases - April 2010 -- list of new or updated databases (mid-March to mid-April) on,,,, and

* CVGS "Getting Started" Seminar Summary -- highlights of the Saturday, 24 April seminar on "Getting Started - How to Find Who You Are."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

CVGS Program on Wednesday, 28 April - Myrna Goodwin on Land Research

The April Program Meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society will be Wednesday, 28 April at 12 Noon in the South Chula Vista Library (389 Orange Avenue in Chula Vista) Conference Room.

The speaker will be CVGS member Myrna Goodwin, who will present “Discover Your Roots – Dig Up the Dirt: The Basics of Land Research.”

Using personal examples, anecdotes and a power point presentation, the program will review the benefits of land documents and maps, what advance preparation is needed for research in courthouses or on microfilm, how to identify the proper location for finding records, plus what to look for in these documents. The basic differences between state-land states and federal-land states will be covered with a simple explanation of the survey methods used in these two different systems. Finally, using the computer records for the Bureau of Land Management will be discussed.

Myrna (Beach) Goodwin is a retired high school speech and drama teacher having taught over 35 years -- 31 of them at Mount Miguel High School in Spring Valley. She was passionate about coaching competitive speech and has turned that passion to family history and genealogy.

She remembers seeing her first five generation pedigree chart for her Beach family when she was only about 12. In addition, she has vivid childhood memories of visiting family cemeteries, especially the one in Huron County, Ohio, where six of seven Beach generations are buried. Currently, she and a first cousin are collaborating on a 275 page Born family history covering over 150 years. In addition, she is working diligently to find ‘lost’ relatives plus coordinate photo and map displays for her Kolbe family’s 100th reunion.

Myrna is a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the New Haven Colony Historic Society, the Warren County Genealogical Society, the Huron County Historical Society, the Chula Vista Genealogical Society and other heritage organizations in San Diego County.

More information about this meeting can be obtained from Barbara (email, phone 619-477-4140).

Best of the Genea-Blogs - April 18-24, 2010

Hundreds of 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:

* Do you use the proper Latin names for your ancestors? by Terry Thornton on the Hill Country HOGS Blog. Terry introduces us to Latin terms for relatives - these might be useful registers, what else? Fascinating.

* A Beginner’s Guide to Eastern European Genealogy – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 by Stephen Danko on Steve's Genealogy Blog. What a great treasure trove of information for Steve's specialty. A keeper!

* The Genealogy Zombie by Lee Drew on the FamHist blog. Lee makes a startling discovery and describes his file organization methods. Very good, unless...

* Massachusetts Town Records by Martin Hollick on The Slovak Yankee blog. Martin provides an excellent listing of the availability of Massachusetts town records, which are the original source material.of the MA town Vital Record books.

* Digitized Book Websites by Gena Ortega on Gena's Genealogy Blog. Excellent list! I saw some new ones for me on this list.

* An Index is Only as Good as Its Spelling by Donna Pointkouski on the What's Past is Prologue blog. This is a useful research story about "the way it was" and "the way it is." Donna probably has to go test the new search now!

* Facebook’s Open Graph: How Could It Help Genealogists? by Dean Richardson on the Genlighten Blog - Genealogy Documented blog. Dean finds so many great ideas and applies them to genealogy - this looks like a winner!

* 2nd Edition, Carnival of African American Genealogy ~ Grandma’s Hand: Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family by Sandra Taliaferro on the I Never Knew My Father blog. There were 20 entries for this carnival about Grandma's Hands. What a wonderful collection of family stories!

* The Ultimate Genealogy Purchase by Amy Coffin on the We Tree blog. Amy got some new wheels and turned it into a genealogy research tool. Cool!

* DNA Day, Dr. Sykes and Me by Barbara Poole on the Life From the Roots blog. Barbara is meeting with Dr. Brian Sykes (yes, that Brian Sykes) soon to go over her DNA test results.

* Treasure Chest Thursday - Publishing a Book for my Blog and Blurb Blog Book Update by Heather Rojo on the Nutfield Genealogy blog. Heather has self-published a local history and photo book, based on her blog posts, on Blurb - here is how she did it.

* Saturday Musings ~ Ain’t Nothin’ Like Going Home!:-) by Luckie Daniels on the Our Georgia Roots blog. Road trip!! Luckie and Sandra go together to ancestral counties - sounds like they had a fabulous time.

* Genealogy Research in the Year 2060 by Dick Eastman on the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog. Dick lets his mind wander ... 50 years into the future. Visionary. Interesting. Sad. Real? Nice to know how things end up, though!

* Follow Friday: Branching Out Through the Years by Great Koehl on the Greta's Genealogy Bog blog. Greta shares her reading favorites from the past week - nice list!

* Weekly Genealogy Picks by John Newmark on the TransylvanianDutch blog. John's weekly readings are always worthwhile.

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 630 genealogy bloggers using Bloglines, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

NOTE: Best of the Genea-Blogs will miss next week - I'll be in Salt Lake City all week enjoying the FHL, the NGS Conference, meeting Genea-Musings readers and talking to genea-bloggers, so will NOT have a post next Sunday.

Have you registered for Jamboree yet?

Here is helpful information from Paula Hinkel about the SCGS Jamboree:

Register by April 30 to receive:

a $10 discount on registration
PLUS $5 discount on all special events
PLUS get a free copy of the printed syllabus, worth $20.

Save even more with a membership to the Southern California Genealogical Society.

As a reminder, Jamboree will be held June 11-13, 2010, at the LosAngeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel and Convention Center.

There are so many reasons to attend Jamboree, but here are just some:

1. Over 120 lecture sessions, workshops, and events.

2. 50 internationally recognized genealogy experts will be in attendance. Jamboree brings you the best array of speakers in the West.

3. FREE sessions on Friday for Kids (age 8-16), Librarians and novice family historians

4. Friday morning guided cemetery tour of Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles followed by lunch at Philippe's

5. FREE roundtable small group discussion sessions Friday morning - dozens of topics lead by experts. You'll find regional and ethnic research, searching birth families, genealogy society management sessions, just too many to list here. Watch the Jamboree blog for updates. (

6. Hands-on minicourses for Excel, Word, Skype and blogging and Google applications to help advance your research and save you money!

7. Nearly 70 exhibitors - commercial organizations as well as societies.

8. FREE document and photo scanning provided by

9. Thousands of dollars worth of door prizes, including a week-long stay at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, and a weekend at Strawberry Creek Inn or Bunkhouse in Idyllwild, California B&B. The B&B is owned by an avid genealogist!

10. Immerse yourself in a weekend with about 1600 others who share your passion for family history.

11. Classes for individuals of all experience levels - beginner, intermediate, advanced

12. Live podcast Saturday with Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems Podcast

13. Friday night banquet with Chris Haley, nephew of Alex Haley,author of Roots.

14. A FREE webinar to help you get the most out of any genealogy conference, including Jamboree. Click on the webinar image at

15. A FREE webinar on Saturday morning conducted by DearMYRTLE. Societies from across the US and Canada can participate from home via GoToWebinar. You can join us for breakfast (special event fee) or join us over the web. With the webinar, you get everything but the orange juice and bacon.

Get all of the details on Jamboree at - click on the Jamboree logo. You can also follow all of the Jamboree updates at or follow us on Twitter (@scgsgenealogy).

Make your Marriott hotel reservations before May 10. The reservation block is full but the Marriott is extending it. If you get a message that there are no rooms available, please let me know and I'll contact the Marriott on your behalf.

Upcoming deadlines:

April 30, 2010 - Early Bird Registration ends at midnight
May 1, 2010 - registration opens for mini-sessions
May 10, 2010 - Marriott hotel discount closes
June 1, 2010 - preregistration closes

Don't Miss This Fantastic Weekend!!

Southern California Genealogical Society
417 Irving Drive
Burbank, CA 91504
818-843-7247 phone

One added bonus for Jamboree goers - you can meet the shy writer of Genea-Musings LIVE and in-person - wearing his name badge with many colorful ribbons on it. Please stop me and say hello and let's get a picture together! I love meeting Genea-Musings readers!

I am all reserved and getting my genealogy face on - and can hardly wait to enjoy the Jamboree in 2010! Game on, genea-bloggers!!