Thursday, September 25, 2014

This is more complex than I thought

I’ve started on the YouTube project I mentioned in a previous post. Lured by the ease of use of Microsoft Movie Maker, I dived right in.  Problem is that planning the video is the hard part.  My first effort will be for my eyes only – just an experiment, but that doesn’t mean that it’s simple.

First, decide which line to start with.  I picked the one for which I have the least information because I thought that would make for easier decisions on content – not too much to choose from.  I’m rethinking that decision.

Starting with a mind map using XMind (free software), I laid out the kind of content to include.  Very simple for my first project.

I have no old photos because this is not my family – its my children’s paternal heritage.  So I went off looking for old photos of Prague. Not very many that don’t have full copyright restrictions.  Then I looked for old photos of late 19th century Chicago which was much easier.  I’ll use images of census documents to show the families.

The next step would be a script, or so I thought.  Actually the next step is a storyboard.  I just use an outline for planning the flow of the video.  It’s not complex enough to need a true storyboard.

Then I started a script.  This is not as simple as just writing.  I tend to be pretty wordy, and I have a time constraint so scripting is a challenge.  I wonder how many versions will be created before I get one that will work.  I’m using Marlis Humphrey’s guidelines for a video which means it should run no longer than 6 minutes.  Mine will be much shorter than that partly because I’m having trouble coming up with the right narration content; and partly because I don’t like watching videos that are more than 3 or 4 minutes long.

Getting my mind around this has been a challenge.

So I’m thinking of shelving this project and doing my first attempt using one of my own lines.  Maybe it will be more comfortable working with the ancestors I know the most about.  Will having more material make it more difficult?  Hope not.

So I’m off to start another mind map.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Genealogy??? Family History???

Are Genealogy and Family History the same thing?  Mostly but not always.

Tony Proctor addressed this in a recent blog post titled The Lineage Trap on his Parallax View blog.  He points out that for most people family history is as important as mere lineage. 

 There are dozens of brands of genealogy software available. After doing a brief survey of what’s out there, it appears that only Family Historian  - developed in the UK - permits non-familial connections between individuals. 

I started searching my roots to try to answer the question: Who am I, and why am I here? That means finding my ancestors as far back as I can. More than that, It means trying to learn just who these people were. Where and how did they live?  What were the current events of their lives?  How did history and culture shape them  - and me and my descendants?

Members of the LDS church have specific goals in tracing their lineage. There are probably still a few folks who trace their families in hopes of finding royalty or at least someone famous. Most of us, I believe, are really looking for more than a chart showing who begat whom. We want to know the stories of our families.

These stories include more than bloodlines. The people who were the official witnesses of baptisms and marriages and other legal documents were important in our ancestors’ lives. How do we record these connections?  In my own database there are several families with the same surname who are little islands because I haven’t found a direct connection to my family, but have found indirect connections.  In a few cases, my research has discovered connections between previously unconnected families.

Clooz is a different kind of genealogy software.  It is document based rather than people based and looks like it could do the things I want to do.  Problem is that I use Family Tree Maker and Clooz cannot import from that because (owner of Family Tree Maker)  will not make available the specs that would allow Clooz’ developers to create import capability.

So I’m in a quandary. Switch to other software?  Which other software? I like the ability to synchronize my FTM and databases. Run two local programs and maintain changes in them both? 

I’ll be grateful for comments and suggestions from anyone who has solved this dilemma.

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.