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Yesterday I downloaded a free story telling app called Adobe Voice. This is an ipad app that allows you to tell a short story, narrated in your own voice, with photos that you either add, or download through the application. In less than an hour I had my first short story finished. Now that I have the process down my future stories will take only a few minutes to complete. The app allows you to choose from a variety of  background music and photos which are part of the app, or add your own.  I used one of their photos, and downloaded the others from my dropbox. I then selected a background music that I was comfortable with and talked briefly about each photo. The result was a story in my own voice, to share with my children and grandchildren.

For those of you who have putting of writing your life story, your procrastination has paid off. You can now tell your life story in short easy to create videos, and in a  format that is easily shared with your family. The videos look and sound professional. A copy of the video that I created can be found at http://voice.adobe.com/v/-RuXouWnNAf.

I know I posted about research logs last fall, but I had an interesting experience last week while working on one of my lines in FamilyTree. The line was back in the 1600′s. It was the early New England line of John Ingalls, and there was conflicting information which had migrated onto his page. Children had been incorrectly added , and some of his children had been added to other Ingalls/Ingals/Ingols families. I had researched this family in the 1966, [I know that is scary to contemplate] and abstracted his will, which named his children. I  also kept a log of my research, which I was amazingly enough, able to locate. What I found was a bit of a surprise. I had logged the name of the book, call number, and page number – but neglected to indicate the Library. Since I had been in College in I did this research I went, online,  to the college library to search for the book- it wasn’t found. Maybe, I though,  I borrowed it from another library, but I couldn’t remember. I “Googled” the book  - again with no success. Apparently I copied the title incorrectly.  I  was able to document what I had abstracted, including my obviously incomplete source, but I wasn’t happy. I have gotten better keeping research logs, and sourcing as I’ve gotten more experienced.  My logs now probably have more information than they need, and I don’t have to abstract records anymore because I can keep a digital copy of what I find.

Research logs are not difficult to keep. It takes only a minute to record; the complete title of the record you found, the day you searched, the call number or url, or the name of the Library, plus the information that you found. Your goal is to be able to locate the record again. Genealogy Programs, allow you to keep your logs connected to your ancestor and let you attach a copy of what you found. I have an earlier post that goes into detail on how to keep a research log so I won’t cover it again. If you aren’t keeping logs of your research- just do it. If your logs aren’t complete – do it better.

In 2008 Google started an ambitious project in an attempt to digitize the world’s newspaper collections. In 2011 they scuttled the project. However, the digital content they have is still available, and can be searched on Google Newspaper Archive.

The Archive covers over 2,000 historic newspapers, and goes back as far as the 1700’s. Newspaper are from the US, Canada, and Europe, and consists of over 60 million pages covering 250 years

While the Archive is still there, it can be a bit tricky to search. The good news for family historians, who love newspapers ,is that the entire Newspaper Archive can be searched using the Genealogy Search Engine. This search engine can be found on the Genealogy In Time Magazine Website at genealogyintime.com, or by clicking on the following shortened link http://goo.gl/p5leIi.

In addition to the news archive, the Genealogy Search Engine has indexed around 2.7 billion records from over 1,000 websites, and it continues to grow. You can subscribe to the online magazine to receive the updates to its collection.

Both the Genealogy In Time Magazine and the Genealogy Search Engine are free.

 I’ve been getting many questions over the last several weeks about where to look when you have Utah ancestors. As with any state or country you first want to go to the FamilySearch Wiki and read the country or state page.

Mormon Pioneers, who first arrived in the summer of 1847, settled Utah. The records of the wagon train and handcart companies, which arrived before1869, when the railroad was finished can be founds on Utah Mormon Overland Trail 1847-1869.  This website has not only the list of people in each company, but their birth, and often death dates, as well as excerpts from journals and newspapers to put their adventures into context.

A second wave of early immigrants came from Europe, mostly the British Isles and Scandinavia. These immigrants usually came as groups or congregations on the same ship.  The Mormon Immigration Index has the passenger lists

A good source for early Utah marriages is the Western States Marriage Index . This is a collection of marriages from Utah and surrounding states, and is an on going project.  This is an index only, but you will be given book and page number to locate the original.

Utah Cemeteries –  While Find a Grave and Billion Graves are both wonderful sources for cemetery records – Utah Cemeteries is part of the State Archives and can help you find nearly any grave in Utah. It gives the cemetery and the burial plot.

Utah has chosen to put their digitized newspaper collection on line at  Utah Digital Newspapers is fairly comprehensive and a great way to locate ancestors and discover how they lived.

Utah Death Certificates cover from about 1904 – 1961. You will see the actual image, which you can download or print.

Arizona Birth/Death Records 1938 – 1963– Arizona and Utah were once part of the Utah Territory, and as a result many Utah people find their ancestors records in Arizona. This collection includes births that occurred 75 years ago and deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago. As with the Utah Death Certificate Site you see the actual image.

Mountain West Digital Library has a huge digital collection with links to other sites.

Don Snow and his late wife Diane put together a wonderful collection of web sites and information for Utah family historians. It has places to look that you might not readily think of.

I recently had the opportunity to go to Salt Lake City, Utah and spend a day at the Family History Library. Usually when I take a research trip I have some time to prepare, to gather records, and to make lists of what I want to research. This opportunity came so suddenly that I had no time to get ready. I had just enough time to quickly pack a suit case and leave, and of course grab my computer.

Anyone has every researched at the FHL will tell you that  it can be overwhelming. There is so much at your fingertips that you can almost become paralyzed trying to decide where to look first. You will ask yourself which family line you should research?  You will wonder if you should look at a book that has not been digitized yet, a film that holds your family land records, or maybe a parish microfiche?

My research logs saved the day. I keep a research log for each family that I am researching. To each log I add the date of any search, where I searched, and the source description, including title, author, the call number and/or url. I include whatever I find, or don’t find, and where I filed any useful information. I use these logs for both online and library research. To this log I also add a ‘To Do’ list, which includes the numbers of any films that I may want to order, certificates I need to find, or missing information that I want to locate.

Because I keep these logs up to date, I was able to begin right where I last left off. After a few minutes of reviewing my log, I knew exactly what was needed next. I was able to look for a missing will for my  Hutton/Stewart ancestor, some  land records for the Argyle Patent in Washington County New York, and a filmed land record for a client.

A research log sometimes seems tedious to keep. It means you have to stop what you are doing in your research process, and write down what you have found. What can be even more annoying is logging a source where you have found nothing. You may even be tempted to not enter that into your log. Be careful. If you don’t log what you have looked at, or make a note that a source contains nothing helpful, then you are likely to spend time looking for, and at, the same record again.

My research log is a chronological list of my sources, what I have found, and what I need to find.  It also contains a summary of my findings, and where I file the information I gather. It reduces duplication of research and helps me locate again the documents I have previously searched, It also keeps me on track. Log on!

If you are actively searching for an ancestor you need to visit FamilySearch. If you haven’t been there lately you really haven’t been there. The site has been updated and is quite amazing. One big change is that anyone can now visit the site, register and then view the family pedigrees, contribute names, and view sources, photos, stories and then save what they find that you find to your own computer, or link information to your own family within FamilySearch. FamilySearch is found at https://familysearch.org.

The Features Include:

  • Over a billion records are now available to search. The index is amazingly accurate and a majority of the search results have a digital image attached.
  • The search is available in 10 languages, as records from all over the world have been and continue to be added.
  • New records are being added daily through a massive indexing project.
  • A fan chart can now be created on the site from anyone in your pedigree.
  • You can add, or find your ancestors then locate additional records for them and attach those records to them. You can also add pictures, and stories as well as additional source documentation.
  • Many films from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City Utah have been digitized and are available as browse-able records. While you wait for these films to be indexed you can view them without the need to order them. [Because they are not yet indexed your ancestor won’t appear in a search].
  • There is a massive Research Wiki to help you guide you locate records.
  • Hundreds of Free genealogy classes are available as video or slide presentations. These have been added by FamilySearch, and other partners such as the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, the Mid-Contentment Library and others.
  • There is a section of free digitized books that have many books that were published by family organization.
  • The Library Catalog from the Family History Library is also found there, and if you locate a record or film you need, if it has been digitized you will be given the link to the records.

When you first go to the site there is a tutorial you can take. FamilySearch is easy to navigate and if you find errors in your family pedigree, that others have made, you can correct them.

Check out the home page carefully as it will lead you to the many other treasures that are part of FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Blog indicated yesterday that the number of sources on the site has grown by 74% in the last three weeks.

If you haven’t visited FamilySearch in the last few week You Haven’t Seen FamilySearch.

There is a great website that offers, among many other things, free digitized books and free census records. It is the Internet Archives and is found at http:archives.org. This non-profit digital library has a stated mission of ‘universal access to all knowledge’. It has grown from 40 billion webpages in 2005, which equals 1 petabyte [a petabyte is over 1,000 terabytes] to over 10 petabytes, and it continues to grow.

The Interent Archive allows the public to both upload and download digital material. It’s largest collection is it archive of webpages, The Wayback Machine, which holds over 150+ billion web captures.

My favorite part is the world’s largest book digitalization project.The Internet Archive is working with several libraries to digitize the contents of their holdings. The Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana is one library that has contributed many digitized genealogy books to the project, another is the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University. Private individuals are invited to scan the public domain books in their personal libraries and upload them as well. 

 The result is a huge resource of books in TXT,  PDF, and other formats, books that you can download to your computer, save, and then search for every word. TXT files do not retain the same formatting  as the originals so Bold, Italics and Underling will be lost. Many of the books available were converted to TXT format by OCR software.  OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, and means that you can search for a particular word or phrase.

The Internet Archive also provides most books in http, EPUB, Kindle, Daisy, and DjVu formats as well, so the books and documents can be read on almost any ebook reader, computer, iPad, or web browsing capable cell phone.

The Internet Archive also has scanned and digitized the U.S. Census records from 1790 through 1930. There is, however, no index. Small towns can be easily searched a page at a time while cities probably are best searched if you already know the Enumeration Districts involved.

This site is totally free, and has many other valuable functions. They do, however, accept donations through snail mail or pay-pal.

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