30 August 2011

Tech Tuesday: Ancestry Free Access Week

If your to do list includes researching immigration records available at Ancestry.com, but you do not have a paid subscription, you are in luck this week. August 29 - September 5 is Free Access Week to immigration and travel records on Ancestry. This includes U.S. records plus international immigration records from a handful of other countries, including Germany.

One new record set that might be of particular interest to Polish-American researchers are Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956. Many Polish immigrants in Canada eventually emigrated to the United States.

The link below will take you directly to the free search page:

23 August 2011

Tech Tuesday: Research Tools in RootsMagic

Last week, I attended the webinar "Research Tools in RootsMagic." I have been using the RootsMagic genealogy software for about two years and, although I knew there were probably features I was not familiar with in the software, I contemplated whether an hour-long webinar would be beneficial to me. Before long I said out loud "they did not charge me enough for this software!" Here are a few of the features I learned more about.
  • Fact List: This allows you to run a query for certain fact criteria, such as facts without sources, facts of a certain quality, or missing facts. This is a useful tool in helping to determine what research needs to be done or where should focus your research time and efforts.
  • To Do List: This is a feature I was under-utilizing. I was deleting items after I completed them instead of marking them as complete. By marking them complete, I can keep track of negative results (or research that did not yield a result), which should eliminate duplicating my research.
  • Web Search: With the click of a button, you can search numerous sites, such as Ancestry, Find A Grave, Family Search, or Google, for a highlighted individual using the information you have already entered. RootsMagic will even remember your passwords for subscription sites.
  • GenSmarts: They saved this for last, and quickly had me sold on the $24.95 add-on program. GenSmarts can be run with a single click on any person in your database. It analyzes that person's information and makes suggestions on specific resources to research and why, as well as where the resource can be found. You can even load the suggestions into your To Do List for the future, making that feature even more powerful.
The hour-long webinar was free and was recorded for playback and posted to the RootsMagic website at the link below. There are twelve webinars so far and another two coming up this month. Whether your are already a RootsMagic user or are shopping for new software, I highly recommend watching a few of these webinars. The hour I spent last week has already proven beneficial in my research.


08 August 2011

Motivation Monday: Generations Project

Looking through my TV channels recently, I discovered BYUtv and a show called The Generations Project. Although it appears this show has been on the air for a number of years, until that moment, I did not know BYUtv existed. I programmed my DVR to record all episodes of this show and have been catching up on new and old episodes alike.

I describe The Generations Project as Who Do You Think You Are minus the celebrities. It is motivating to me to watch each person ask questions and discover the answers throughout their journey. However, the most recent episode I watched was a little different. Instead of following an individual through their story, the topic was how to do your own Generations Project.

At first, it seemed pretty simple--I did not see much of a difference between what the subject of the show was doing and what I do (except they have a team of researchers, a camera crew, and the ability to travel around the world in search of their answers). As I watched, though, I understood why what they do is more interesting to a larger audience than what I do.

The Generations Project encourages going a step beyond this and walking in your ancestors' shoes. This has inspired me to think of ways I can put together my research and its historical context with a way to experience a part of that ancestor's life. Perhaps I can make a recipe that they would have made, or I can try a tradition they may have had, or I could visit a historical site that would provide context to their life.

I encourage you to watch the program at the link below and try to think of ways to make your research significant to non-genealogists, or even to live a small part of it yourself. As genealogists, we already feel a connection with people we have never met...imagine forming a greater bond by experiencing part of their lives firsthand.

BYUtv - The Generations Project