28 November 2011

RootsMagic 5: First Look at New Features

This morning, I was surprised to learn that RootsMagic has introduced Version 5.

I have been using RootsMagic 4 for some time now and am generally pleased with its features. I had no idea that introduction of Version 5 was imminent. In fact, I learned about the new version being available when I ordered a copy of RootsMagic 4 for a client. Version 5 is what is shipping now. I went ahead and placed my order and the confirming email gave me the option of downloading a  copy so that I could take a look.

Apparently, I am not the only one who was not aware that a new version was ready to be introduced. A Google search for "Rootsmagic 5" turned up only the official website; no mentions in blogs, news announcements, or reviews.

For now, I am keeping a copy of my databases in RootsMagic 4, but I am also opening them in RootsMagic 5 to make a  comparison between the two versions and learn how 5 is better.

First impression: I like the look of the new version, and in reading over the What's New list, the enhancements mentioned seem to me to be useful.

Here are some of the new features:

The Research Manager is now able to create unlimited research logs to document your work and aid your research, and you can quickly search for any text in any research log.

One feature that interests me is CountyCheck, which automatically checks every county you enter (US, Canada, UK, Australia) to verify that it actually existed at the time of the event. Also, a report can be printed out that gives you a list of all events in counties which didn't exist at the time. You also can access maps and county histories for the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. This will be a timesaver for me, I believe, as I have been spending considerable time going on www.epodunk.com and www.wikipedia.com to check county names.

A Timeline View shows a full timeline of the current person's events and those of their parents, siblings, spouses, and children.

There also are numerous changes/improvements to People Views and Database Tools. It will take some time for me to try these out and report on them.

To read the What's New list on your own, click here.

I will be posting further impressions on my other blog: www.CollectingAncestors.blogspot.com.

25 November 2011

WRHS Launches New, More User-Friendly Website

Many changes are underway at Western Reserve Historical Society. We've noted the construction underway in the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum in an earlier posting. Also, several new people have joined the staff at the Society.
Another change--one that is especially welcome to genealogists and family historians--is the society’s new website. Here’s the official statement about this development:
CLEVELAND, OH – – Western Reserve Historical Society launches its new website (www.wrhs.org) on Tuesday, November 22nd.  This new site will enhance the virtual visitor experience with improved interactivity, ease of navigation, online ticketing and a customized event calendar.  The website will be in a testing phase for the following twelve months with feedback requested from users.  Improvements will continue to be added during the testing phase including digital access to the WRHS collections and virtual tours of WRHS facilities.  Development of the website was funded by The George Gund Foundation.  Designers were Chad Allan Consulting and Gryphon Media Group. To view the new site visit www.wrhs.org
When you arrive at the home page for the new website, you will see a new set of navigation tabs: About, Explore & Learn, Research & Collections, Get Involved, Shop, Rentals, and Plan Your Visit.
Most genealogists and family history researchers will want to click on “Research & Collections.” A drop-down menu gives you these choices: Community History, Archives, Research Center, Collection Highlights, Databases, Family History, How to Donate, and What’s New.
One notable difference is the inclusion of “Research Center” in this list. Basically, this is the new name for the Library. Click on this choice and you see a view familiar to visitors to the Library. The website provides the following introduction to this part of the History Center: 
The Research Center 
A part of the Western Reserve Historical Society, housed within the History Center in University Circle, the WRHS Research Center is an amazing resource for the academic and for the family history researcher.  Collections spanning national and local history and genealogy are available Thursday - Saturday in person or online. 
One of the selections available under this heading is Genealogy, which takes you to Collection Highlights, Databases, and Family History. 
The Research Center will remain open during the construction activities in other areas of the History Center.
As I love to remind everybody when we're discussing the Internet, a website is a dynamic channel of communication. We'll be watching for future additions, changes, and improvements at www.wrhs.org.

Social Security Death Index Under Attack

Now it's the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) that is under attack by legislators. 

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that federal legislators have introduced legislation to block our access to the SSDI. (Note: In following this story, keep in mind that the Social Security Administration maintains what it calls the Death Master File. This is released to genealogy database providers like Ancestry, FamilySearch, and WorldVitalRecords who offer it to researchers as the Social Security Death Index.)

The Sun-Times reports that Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) has unveiled the “Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011.” The report states: "He criticized Social Security’s publicly released Death Master File, which has been used for at least a decade by thieves to access Social Security numbers, file bogus tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service and collect refunds."

The newspaper report further concludes that "Johnson’s 'KIDS Act' would effectively end public access to the death file, which now can be searched for a small fee or even for free on genealogy and other online sites. The files contain the Social Security numbers and other personal information that can easily be used by identity thieves." Click here for the newspaper report.

Over in the Senate, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has introduced a bill that would give give the Social Security Administration the discretion to hold back Social Security numbers for two years following an person's death. An ABC TV report has details.

The catalyst for introducing this legislation apparently was another newspaper article: "ID thieves cash in on death of Lake Forest 5-year-old." While this story is a sad one, the knee-jerk reaction to it by our congressmen is even sadder.

For what appears to be a comprehensive, balanced report on the situation, click here.

Like most of these situations, the parties involved are making many claims and counterclaims. It may be months before we learn whether another avenue of research will remain available to us.

23 November 2011

Adding Family Health History to Your Family Tree

Did you catch the article, "Exploring your health roots," in yesterday's Cleveland Plain Dealter? In it, PD Reporter Evelyn Theiss strongly suggests that the holiday season that starts tomorrow "is a good time to create a family tree that looks at relatives' medical histories." The article also is available online here.

In this connection, I'd like to point out a resource that is readily available and wasn't reported in the PD article. That is the family medical history tool provided free by the U. S. Surgeon General. It is available here.

I have summarized my own medical family history experience on my other blog, Collecting Ancestors, which you can access by clicking here.

Honoring Your Ancestors in Century Families of Ohio

Have you considered honoring your 20th century immigrant ancestors who came to Ohio before 2011 by filing an application to the Ohio Genealogical Society’s Century Families of Ohio Society? By now you probably are aware that OGS is holding its 2012 annual conference in Cleveland next spring, April 12-14, to be exact, at the Hotel Intercontinental on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic. If you apply before the end of this year, and your application is accepted, you will be inducted during a banquet held on Thursday evening, the first day of the conference.
Century Families of Ohio is a lineage society open to OGS members who prove their descent from an ancestor who lived in Ohio from 1861 to 100 years prior to the current year (in this case, 1911). There is a searchable database of persons who have been honored in the Century Families of Ohio available on the OGS website (2011 was the charter year for CFO). It is open to the public, but if you already are a member of the society, you have access to more information if you first log in with your membership information.
In most cases, the starting document for the ancestor or ancestors to be honored is the earliest Ohio census in which they appear. If your ancestors immigrated to Ohio before 1910, they should appear in the 1910 Census. Other documents that you will need to prove descendency include death, marriage, and birth records for each generation, including your own. Your application and all the included documentation, if accepted, would be added to the CFO database. The application form and regulations are available for download on the OGS website at www.ogs.org.
The other OGS lineage societies are the First Families of Ohio, Settlers and Builders of Ohio, and the Civil War Families of Ohio. Details on each of these lineage societies also can be found on the OGS website. 

22 November 2011

News Flash: MyHeritage Acquires FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com

The news release below was just issued this morning:

MyHeritage Acquires FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com

Significant move into US and addition of historical content mark major evolution for world's most popular online family network

PROVO, Utah & LONDON, UK & TEL AVIV, Israel-- MyHeritage, the most popular family network on the web, announced today the acquisition of FamilyLink.com, Inc., maker of the family history content sites FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com. This is MyHeritage's seventh and largest acquisition since 2007. The purchase marks a significant move into the US market commercially and operationally, and will boost MyHeritage’s offering to families with the addition of a vast database of more than 3 billion historical records. With offices and staff in Europe, Australia and Israel, MyHeritage will now be adding its first US-based office in Utah, the home of FamilyLink.com and often cited as the family history capital of the world.

“We are delighted to join forces with the talented FamilyLink team in Provo to deliver meaningful value to families across the world,” says MyHeritage CEO and Founder Gilad Japhet. “Combining close to one billion family tree profiles on MyHeritage with FamilyLink's massive library of historical data delivers a perfect one-stop-shop for families looking to discover and share their family history".

Founded in 2006, both FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com are subscription services which provide access to a huge database of historical content, covering several billion individuals within census, birth, marriage and death records, as well as the web’s largest archive of historical newspapers. This content will deliver new insights and value to the 60 million people who have signed up on MyHeritage in 38 different languages, creating more than 900 million profiles in 21 million family trees. When brought together under the MyHeritage umbrella, the company’s innovative Smart Matching technology will automatically match any of the new historical data to the relevant users' ancestors and relatives within the family trees.

“Our team of family history veterans couldn't be more excited about joining forces with MyHeritage”, said FamilyLink.com CEO Paul Brockbank. “This acquisition creates new horizons in exploring family history. People will receive the opportunity to search the most comprehensive historical content sources and make exciting new discoveries; share this information with their close family and save it into their family tree. Combined under the leadership of MyHeritage, the service will continue to flourish and add more value to millions of families”.

MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet adds: “The establishment of a US base for MyHeritage in Utah, the international center for genealogical research, is an important milestone in our growth and brings about an exciting opportunity for the company and the families we serve. MyHeritage provides the perfect service to collect the family’s treasured archive to share and keep for future generations in a setting that is friendly and secure – and now we're excited to top this off with vast amounts of content that will add more color and life to family trees. Through our powerful search engine and automatic Smart Matching technology we'll find your mother's yearbook, your great-grandfather's will and your ancestor's immigration record, leaving you with the time to marvel at, enjoy and share your family heritage. We'll do that on a massive, global scale, as we live in a world that is smaller and more tightly connected than ever before”.

This is the latest in a series of strategic purchases by MyHeritage since 2007 which have included Pearl Street Software, makers of GenCircles.com and the Family Tree Legends software; free family tree backup service BackupMyTree.com; European family social network market leader OSN (Verwandt) GmbH; Dutch family network ZOOOF; British family network Kindo.com and Polish family network Bliscy.pl.

The majority of the FamilyLink.com employees will join MyHeritage, based out of the company’s new US office in Provo, Utah: bringing the benefit of their collective expertise within the family history and North American genealogy market. The CEO of FamilyLink.com, Paul Brockbank, previously CEO of Logoworks and GM of Hewlett Packard Web Print Solutions, will play a key role in supporting the transition over the coming months and will later join the MyHeritage advisory board. FamilyLink.com founder Paul Allen, previously a co-founder of Ancestry.com, and FamilyLink.com's "We're Related" Facebook application, will not be part of the merger with MyHeritage.

In the short-term, MyHeritage will continue to operate the two sites FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com, with the intention of achieving full integration within MyHeritage in 2012. With immediate effect and for an introductory period, loyal subscribers and users of MyHeritage will be entitled to discounts of up to 50% on FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com subscriptions, and vice versa.

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the most popular family network on the web. Millions of families around the world enjoy having a private and free place for their families to keep in touch and to showcase their roots. MyHeritage’s Smart Matching™ technology empowers users with an exciting and innovative way to find relatives and explore their family history. With all family information stored in a secure site, MyHeritage is the ideal place to share family photos, and celebrate and preserve special family moments. The company is backed by Accel Partners and Index Ventures, the investors of Facebook and Skype. For more information visit www.myheritage.com.

21 November 2011

NBC Announces Third Season for WDYTYA

There was an item of interest to genealogists and family historians buried in the announcement a couple of days ago with the headline:


The item of interest is in this detail for Friday programming: 

The returning series "Who Do You Think You Are?" makes its season debut on Friday 3 (8-9 p.m.). "Chuck" will have its two-hour finale on January 27th (8-10 p.m. ET). "Grimm" (9-10 p.m. ET) and "Dateline NBC" (10-11 p.m. ET) remain in their respective time periods.

I guess this means that "Chuck" goes off the air opening up the slot for WDYTYA. This is the same time slot it occupied early this year in its second season. No word yet on what celebrities will be featured.

18 November 2011

An Important Annoucement About the 1940 Census

I have been preparing for researching in the 1940 U.S. Census when it is made available on 2 Apr 2012. And I have given one talk about this preparation, and I am scheduled to give another talk to the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society at its February meeting and present a workshop for the Genealogical Committee of the Western Reserve Historical Society on the first Saturday in March, 2012.

We have seen that the National Archives and Records Administration plans to make the digital images available on that first April Monday in 2012, but we didn't know how they would be provided to the public. NARA does not have enough server capacity to meet the public demand, so a contractor would be necessary to provide this service. Now we can announce who will be making the 1940 Census available to us on 2 Apr 2012. See the following press release:

Archives.com Parent Company Inflection Awarded Project to Make 1940 Census Records Free to the Public

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Nov. 17, 2011 -- Archives.com, the website that makes discovering your family history simple and affordable, has joined in partnership with the National Archives of the United States to provide the public with free digital access to the 1940 Federal Population Census beginning on April 2, 2012. In close collaboration with the National Archives, Archives.com will build a website for researchers to browse, view, and download images from the 1940 Census, the most important collection of newly released U.S. genealogy records in a decade. 

Archives.com is pleased to contribute to this momentous project, allowing researchers to digitally access the latest release of the U.S. Federal Population Census, the ultimate resource for family historians, at no cost. Census day occurred April 1, 1940 and due to the 72-year privacy restriction these records will be available to the public for the first time in 2012. 

CEO Matthew Monahan said, "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this historic moment and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the advancement of online genealogy research. Access to 1940 Census records will allow researchers to discover new family members and previously unknown connections to the past. We're happy to have the opportunity to facilitate the discovery of these records, which document over 130 million U.S. residents, more than any previous U.S. Census."

The 1940 Census will be available to the public April 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time) on a new website created in collaboration between Archives.com and the National Archives. The collection will consist of 3.8 million images that the National Archives scanned from over four thousand rolls of microfilm. Public access to the images will not require payment or registration, and will be available to any person with internet access. The name and web address of the website will be announced at a later date.

Chief Digital Access Strategist for the National Archives Pamela Wright notes, "The importance of the 1940 Census cannot be underestimated. At the National Archives, we have been preparing for the launch of these records for years. We are working closely with Inflection to ensure researchers will be able to search the 1940 Census when it opens next year." At launch, researchers will be able to search the 1940 Census by address, Enumeration District (ED), and geographic location. Researchers will be able to browse images by ED number directly, or use address or geographic information to locate the appropriate census schedule.  

To learn more about Archives.com and the National Archives bringing the 1940 Census online, please visit www.archives.com/1940census. The National Archives also has published a number of helpful resources available to researchers on their website, which can help you to prepare to most effectively search the 1940 Census on April 2nd. As the project progresses, updates and additional information will be posted at www.archives.com/blog. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #1940Census. 

About Archives.com

Archives.com is the website that makes family history simple and affordable. Archives.com is owned and operated by Inflection a data commerce company headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley. It has proven its leadership in the family history industry through its commitment to building powerful, easy to use tools, and helping researchers discover new family connections with its growing database of over 1.5 billion records. Archives.com parent company Inflection was chosen by the National Archives to host the 1940 Census. Learn more about the project at www.archives.com/1940census.

About the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives is a public trust upon which our democracy depends, ensuring access to essential evidence that protects the rights of American citizens, documents the actions of the government, and reveals the evolving national experience. Visit www.archives.gov.