Recent Genealogy Posts:

Try something new

This is probably due to both my age and how I learn but I have never been a big podcast consumer.  I learn primarily through reading and taking notes and I’ve never found it easy to remember things that I hear versus hear and see.

However, one of my goals for 2019 is to learn about podcasts.  They are hugely popular with people in the 20-45 age group.  Those are people we want to use the library so we librarians need to understand and appreciate what is important to them.  To that end I’ve started investigating the universe of podcasts.

I’ve learned from my research that podcasts do have an appeal for me.  There are about a million genealogy-focused podcasts “out there” that have all sorts of interesting information for any genealogist.  I can listen and get ideas for my genealogy research while I’m cleaning house or doing the laundry or walking my dog.  Given that multi-tasking is critical to having some degree of order in my universe, I’m now beginning to get the appeal of podcasts!

I thought I would share the names of several of the genealogy podcasts that I’ve encountered and encourage you to try them also, especially if you have never listed to one before.  First, let’s talk about how you can listen:

  • If you have a Mac or iPad or iPhone, go to the iTunes store. In the upper left corner of the store site, you will see a place where you can click and chose music, movies, tv shows, podcasts, or audiobooks.  Click on podcasts.  You can then search on genealogy or put in any of the following specific podcast names just to get you started:
    • The Genealogy Gems Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke. Lisa is a well-known family historian and her podcasts has lots of great information about the best websites, resources, and practices that will enhance your genealogy research.
    • The Genealogy Guys. Includes news from the genealogy community, book and software reviews, guest interviews, and some fun chatting.
    • Genealogy Happy Hour.  “A place where new family historians can learn how to document their family histories and celebrate their new discoveries.”
  • The easiest way to listen to a podcast on a pc is to open your web browser and go directly to the page for the podcast. You will see a play button on the page (usually for the most recent podcast) and you can listen right from your computer.  Here are the links for the above podcasts:

I hope you spend a few minutes to check out these resources.  Happy research!

By |February 1st, 2019|Categories: Genealogy Blog|

Don’t procrastinate

This week’s blog is about backing up your genealogy research.  I had a real scare on Christmas.  My laptop was sitting on the floor in my office at home, getting charged.  That shouldn’t be a problem – I’ve done it a million times.  However, this time my old, blind dog somehow slipped into my office (he isn’t allowed in there) when I wasn’t looking.  He discovered my computer and decided it should be HIS computer – yes, he peed on the laptop.

I discovered the computer about two minutes later.  After some time spent trying to figure out what had happened (the dog had intelligently left the room immediately after his transgression), I tried to dry off the laptop.  I even put it in a paper bag with rice at the bottom because I had read that would “draw out” the moisture.

Turns out the rice doesn’t work.  When I got an Apple Genius Bar appointment the next day, the genius opened up the laptop and all the important parts had already started to corrode!  I didn’t even realize that was possible.  So, my computer was dead.

Then I really started to panic because I had ALL my genealogy files on that laptop.  I thought my files were automatically backed up to the Cloud but I wasn’t sure.  Those files represented about ten years of research so, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was very unhappy.

Long story short – yes, my files were automatically backed up and I didn’t lose anything.  Whew.  Thank heavens for iCloud.

So, the moral of my story is that you should check your genealogy files on your computer today and MAKE SURE they are backed up regularly and automatically.  There are many free backup programs out there.  Search “free files backup” and then get to work.  You do not want to lose all of your research upon which you have spent so much time and energy!   Happy research and Happy New Year and a toast to my new computer and old dog!

By |December 28th, 2018|Categories: Genealogy Blog|

Organizing that genealogy clutter

One of the most frequent genealogy questions I get asked is, “How can I best organize all of my genealogy materials?”  It seems that most of us who are drawn to the hobby of genealogy like to collect more than just information.  We have photos and paper and documents and books and ephemera of all types and more often than not we put them in tidy piles, ready to be reviewed in “the near future” which can be anytime over the next ten years!

My answer to this question is usually along the lines of “I don’t know”.  Now, I’m a librarian and I hate to say “I don’t know” about anything.  However, it is the truth.  The bottom line is that each genealogist has to develop an organizational system that works for him or her.  We all process, learn, and remember differently so what works for me might totally confuse someone else.

I will share two tips that I know can be helpful to any genealogist:

  • To get your materials organized, you have to start somewhere.  It doesn’t really matter where.  Pick the easiest thing to do first and JUST START!  Make your goals small and achievable (I am going to scan 5 photos today) and it is amazing how fast you can get organized.  Don’t think about how much you have to do because the odds are good that you will get overwhelmed and never start.  Just shut your eyes and jump.
  • If you haven’t already computerized your information, start doing it.  It is worth the time and energy to learn how to use a computer/genealogy software/scanner because the ability to organize (once you have these skills) is SO much greater than without them.  Plus, computers can hold a room’s worth of genealogy material without the dust and disorganization of an actual room’s worth of material.

For those who need more ideas take a look at this article from FamilyTree Magazine about simple steps to organize.  I found two good ideas for my organizational efforts – I hope you do too.  Happy research!

By |December 21st, 2018|Categories: Genealogy Blog|

A genealogy resource worth bookmarking

If you haven’t bookmarked this website yet, you probably should.  Genealogy in Time Magazine is an independent, free website that includes a page of “Newest Genealogy Resources” .  The page identifies new records added to databases by different genealogy resources.  It also provides a brief summary about where the information came from and how you can access it.

In December two information sources were mentioned that I found particularly interesting.  The first is about German genealogy records which I’m in the process of learning about:

FamilySearch has added a massive new collection of Lutheran baptism, marriage and burial records. There are almost 80 million records in this new collection. The records span the years from 1500 to 1971. 

The second was about England and I found it just plain interesting:

Findmypast has just released one of the oldest genealogy record sets that we have ever seen. It is a collection of marriage licenses from the Church of England (and prior to Henry VIII, the Catholic Church). The records go as far back as 1115.The 536,000 records in this collection come from fifteen different counties in England including London, Lancashire, Suffolk, Exeter, Lincoln and Yorkshire.  In England, a marriage license was often used by wealthy people who were in a hurry and wanted to skip the bann period, which could last several weeks (sometimes they did not want to broadly advertise the marriage and sometimes they were in a hurry because the bride was already pregnant).In exchange for the payment of a fee, the bride and groom would fill out a sworn declaration that there were no legal impediments to the marriage (which was the functional reason for having a bann period).

When you have done a substantial amount of research about one area of the world it is very helpful to find a resource that identifies new records and databases as they are made available.  Happy research!

By |December 7th, 2018|Categories: Genealogy Blog|

Below are links to some genealogy resources – please note that HeritageQuest requires a Portland Public Library (PPL) card. For information on getting a PPL card (all Cumberland County residents are eligible), click here. Curtis Library has a card and can use it to get you access when you are in the library. Access to American Ancestors is through Curtis Library’s subscription and can only be used from inside the library.

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