Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Going off on a tangent

I am starting a publishing project – that is “modern” publishing - and taking a break from serious researching.

Marlis Humphrey was the speaker at the September meeting of Indian River Genealogy Society. Marlis is nationally recognized as an expert on publishing family histories. She presented at the most recent RootsTech and has been invited to present again at the next one.

Marlis defines publishing in a broad context with the emphasis on getting the target audience to pay attention and actually enjoy the content.  This means that books are pretty much at the bottom of her list of how to communicate our research results to our families, including the youngest members of the family.

Like many family historians, I’ve embarked on a few very wordy narrations of what I’ve discovered.  Even if I added photos, it would be rather dull reading for most people.

Marlis’ presentation was on using electronic media to tell our family stories. Our grandchildren, nieces and nephews are more attuned to the visual.

Probably the most straight forward of these would be a PowerPoint presentation with voice-over audio added. 

The most complex would be an electronic magazine using software such as Issuu or Flipboard.

I’m going to try creating a movie for YouTube. That doesn’t necessarily mean using a video camera to produce content.  Marlis asks us to think of the wonderful work of Ken Burns.  Some of his documentaries easily contain more still photos than actual video footage.  What a concept!  She showed us a few examples of what others have done with this idea.

Movie Maker is free software from Microsoft.  It looks very easy to use so that’s my choice, not to mention the “free”part.

It’s going to be a challenge, but it should be fun.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A few of the many FREE Online Resources

Today I listened/watched Mondays with Myrt and I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to finally plug in.  I followed her blog when I first began my research and then, for some reason, I didn’t. She’s one of the key resources for genealogists. Every Monday she hosts a Google+ hangout that begins at noon Eastern time. There’s always a panel of genealogists online with her; and viewers can ask questions and make comments.

Today one of the topics was Transcript – a free software program designed to help create transcripts of documents. It permits manipulation of a document image to help read and transcribe it  Find it at
Haven’t we all encountered documents that were very difficult to read.

Myrt also has a youTube channel. There’s a link on her website.

“News about upcoming hangouts, meetings and webinars offered throughout the online genealogy community.”

The calendar provides date, time, URL, a description of the topic, and information and links to register for events.

Family Search 
The holy grail of online research.  I know you’re aware if it, but you may not know just how broad it is.  There’s an extensive WIKI that goes far beyond the site. One example is a Wiki entry about  Geneteka a Polish Genealogical database.


One of the features of Google+ is the ability to create “communities” that are composed of people of like interest.  The genealogy community is huge and worth joining. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

This Genealogy Stuff is Driving Me Crazy!

First, my apologies to Melvin J Collier for stealing his post title.  But it is the perfect expression of my feeling right now.

I have a few brick walls I’m tilting at but I’m used to hitting them.  My real frustration is with the mazes I’m in. Two of them.

The Rose family in the 1700’s and early 1800’s in New England has me running around in circles. Just how many Solomon Roses can there be?  Too many!  Other researchers have found several documents naming Solomon Rose, but it isn’t clear on some of them whether they pertain to Solomon Sr. or Solomon Jr.  And what about the Solomons in other locations?  Are they named for a common ancestor?  Or was Solomon a trendy name in those days?

The other maze involves the Perry familie(s) in Tennessee in the mid 1800’s. There are just too darn many William Perrys!  And too many others with matching or similar names / middle names: Claybourn, Claborn, Clayburn, Clabron. Are they all connected? Or are they named after some local hero?  Were they really all spelled differently, or were they recorded wrong?

I’ve just installed some mind-mapping software.  Maybe it will help me begin to apply some logic to getting out of the mazes.

In the meantime, I think I’ll go read a book for a while.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Needing a Kickstart

Do you ever need external stimulation to keep your projects going?

I sure do.

After several months of being away from my genealogy projects I’ve had a difficult time getting refocused.  Some time ago a cousin asked for information about her grandfather; and that got me going for a while.  Recently another query from someone researching a similar line got me into a temporary flurry of activity.

Now I’ve rediscovered the FamilyTreeWebinars and the juices are beginning to flow again.  Finally. 

Webinars about researching in Illinois and in Tennessee motivated me to get back in the hunt for one of my husband’s lines; and also for some of my distant cousins.

My genealogy society does not meet during the summer so I’m really looking forward to September and the first meeting of the season.  They always give me the kick in the butt that I seem to need.

If anyone reading this has some tips on self motivation, I’d be grateful if you’d post a comment.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Polish Haitians

I was surprised to learn about Polish Haitians.  The topic came up at the last meeting of the Polish interest group of the Indian River Genealogical Society. The story of Poles in Haiti is a complex combination of fact and the myths that have grown around the facts. 

In the late 18th century, Haiti provided most of the coffee and sugar enjoyed in Napoleon’s Europe –supplied by slave labor.  The final years of the 1790’s saw a slave uprising and the eventual independence of the island with its own Constitution.  But Napoleon was determined to return the island to its previous circumstance as a subject of France.  To this end, he sent 40,000 troops to Haiti; 4,000 of which were Polish soldiers.  

Zena’s 2011 Black History Month blog includes a very clear and concise description of the struggle and the eventual destiny of many of the Poles who originally arrived to fight for France.

My own research doesn’t go back that far yet; but I suppose that it is possible that I have very distant cousins in Haiti.




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Now..... Where was I??

Genealogy got put aside when I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. At first my energies were focused on learning about my disease and its treatment.  By the time I had a handle on that,  the combination of extreme fatigue and the mental fuzziness of “Chemo Brain” left me pretty much unable to concentrate or focus for more than a couple of milliseconds. No way I could do any research.  So I spent the past several months reading light fluffy mysteries and playing easy computer games. 

Chemo is done!!  I’m still fatigued and still pretty fuzzy, but I’m coming back to being me.  Fortunately, I got a jump start from a query from a cousin. Good timing. She was asking about the family I’d been working on when it got set aside. 

All I have to do now is find all the information and the files and carry on from where I left off.  HAH! Easier said than done.   

I know I created the files because I printed them. So where are they?  Not on my local disk.  Not on a jump drive. Oh, they’re on my external disk.  Phew!!!  A step in the right direction.   

Where are my hand written notes?  I made notes, right?  RIGHT????  I sure hope so. 

How much updating of my tree did I do?  Was I able connect family members that I’d just recently found?

Etc., Etc., Etc……. 

I’ll eventually get it together.  It feels good to be back at it.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Coming back soon, I hope

I suspect that anyone who followed this blog has long given up on it.  It's been a long dry spell with no posts.

I've been coping with cancer for the past several months, dealing with "chemo brain".  One of the side effects of chemo therapy is a fuzzy brain - inability to concentrate and focus on anything for very long.  Genealogy requires the kind of thinking and focus that has been beyond me for a while. Even reading is not easy.  I've temporarily given up on the complex mysteries that I love, and have been making do with what I call "fluffy" books.  Easy reads.  No real thinking.

But there's finally light at the end of the tunnel.  I'll be done with chemo at the end of February; and I'm hopeful that my mental faculties with return to normal before long.  There's still 6 weeks of radiation to get through, but the end is in sight.

On Saturday I attended an all day seminar by John Colleta.  He's a great speaker who has re-ignited the flame that was just an ember for so many months.

I'm hopeful that you'll hear from me again soon.