Treasure Chest Rethink 9/17/09

September 17, 2009 at 00:02 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, memories, Treasure Chest Thursday | 4 Comments
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It’s hurricane season here in Florida again. California is still suffering though wildfires. And of course overseas many of you also worry through tsunamis and earthquakes too. How many of you consider from time to time what you would save if you had only minutes or less to evacuate your home? What if you weren’t hone and unable to save anything? I used to tell my family to save as many photographs as possible – everything else could be replaced. But overtime my opinion has changed sharply. Our family research has consumed over ten years of my life now. Every bit of free time I could, I would spend searching online or reading the rolls of microfilm as the local FHL. I’ve finally written a family history book and have started more. There’s also the tree itself in book format filled with photographs and timeless bits of history and timelines. Then there are notebooks full of all my research, color coded and cross indexed to ease my research. And photographs! Wondrous old photographs! And crisp clear new ones! Thousands of photographs literally. So all of this has meant I needed to rethink my strategy. First, I have begun the long process of scanning and labeling with names, dates, and locations all of our photographs. Then they are grouped and saved to a CD as well as backed up to a portable hard drive. Each of our sons has been given copies of all that are finished so far. I figured they would enjoy the ones from their childhood so I also gave them the originals applicable to each of them. (Helped clean out a cabinet too!) I have already scanned and labeled all the original documents and certificates and backed those up in similar fashion. Each son has been given complete sets of all family history I have completed to date and the books as well as photographs. So everything is protected in quadruplicate by a set going to each son in addition to my own backups. But I still wanted to preserve my own notes of the unfinished research. So I purchased a large plastic tub that seals tightly against water. It is kept inside my room in an easily accessible place. If we are hit with flooding, I have a chance to save everything. Everyone in my family knows about this plastic tub. All my CDs of photographs and certificates as well as the notebooks are kept in here. So now my family has their orders clear: save mom’s plastic treasure chest! Grab the laptop and grab the chest! Our lives obviously come first because they are irreplaceable – but the laptop and plastic treasure tub come closely behind!

Review of Family Tree Builder by MyHeritage

September 13, 2009 at 14:42 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, Reviews | 13 Comments
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Let me begin this post by stating I am not paid nor am I employed by MyHeritage. This is a personal review of a program I use for my research.

For years I used a software that I purchased. Every year I had to buy an upgrade if I wanted to stay current and I thought that was necessary. Then I started to read others on various websites complaining about prices and software glitches. A few folks mentioned losing entire files and that was frightening considering the amount of work I put into it. I also started reading other reviews on software out there and began to search to find another choice. About four years ago I came across MyHeritage known as Family Tree Builder™. They offer a free download as well as Premium service. I am going to be very honest here. I am cheap! I use the freebie download and am much happier with it than with the premium software I have paid a lot of money for!

 

Home page 

Home Page

Home Page

One of the issues that personally interested me was to find software that would be translatable to another language. We have most of our family still overseas and I wanted to be able to share information with them. This program allows you to choose any of over forty different languages! I took CD files of our GEDCOM to Italy, downloaded the free program to family computers and easily imported the family files. One click later I changed the language to Italian and viola! Now family could enjoy the research and continue on with more of their own!

This free program allows you to publish to a web page for your family. By a one click again, it automatically adds the family file to the website along with any photographs (more about those in a moment). You are limited in number by the free program versus the premium program. I still have been able to use this and get great results.

The nice part about the publish feature is that you can fix the personal setting to automatically update each time you work on the program offline. When finished adding your information, it signs you on and uploads the new information. No complicated FTP or other upload programs! When using this feature, you can also set the online preferences to be open so others can find you or make the site as private as you wish. I use a combination to keep living people’s names private but still be discoverable for potential matches out there. And yes, I have found family this way!

 

publish_en_us

publish_en_us

See those great little photo thumbnail shots? You can transfer as many photos as you choose or documents into the photograph folder and easily make a thumbnail of the favorite one to each person! I LOVE this! In one afternoon I transferred over 250 photos and assigned them to the proper person. That fast, that easy! My only complaint here? I wish it allowed an oval shaped crop of the photos and perhaps allowed some changes such as making photos sepia toned. It does accept any edit such as that if you did it ahead of time and then upload though. In addition to the ability to upload and organize photographs and documents, you can also upload videos. I haven’t tried that yet but am planning to soon.

Another nice feature is the maps portion of the software. If you enter as much information into the location fields for births, marriages, and deaths, the program searches worldwide locations and shows them. This is nice to familiarize everyone with where family originated and to trace their immigrations. It is especially nice for anyone compiling family history stories to be able to add this information via screen shots to your work!

 

maps_en_uk

maps_en_uk

One other feature available through the web is the toolbar. Now I know many folks do not like toolbar add-ons but this can be easily turned off or on. I happen to enjoy it allows for easy look-ups of SmartMatches™- a feature I have used to locate several great ancestor matches! Additionally there is a Family Chat™ feature. There is an easy to use event reminder to give alerts of special dates for family.

 

Family Toolbar

Family Toolbar

For the average user this software has a clean look and easy to navigate toolbar and buttons. For someone as a more advanced genealogist, this software also offers more in-depth features such as varied forms of making pedigree charts with as much or little information as preferred along with both ancestor and descendant charts. The area for notes allows as much or as little detail as one prefers. The citation/source area is easy for the beginner while allowing more detail for someone such as myself going into specifics of the sources. Again let me emphasize that some of the more detailed features are available only in the Premium version but I have yet to be totally stumped and left wanting in the free Basic version. I love the clean lines of the Family Group sheets that imbed a thumbnail photo of each person and follow with the notes entered on each person. The Pedigree chart also allows one to set number of generations and the amount of information you want to print. This is a great feature when printing to use for additional notes in my case.

Another important point for me is the ownership of my work. I have written one book for family and am in the process of additional work. It was brought to my attention that certain sites claim ownership of any work posted to their site. There was a recent outcry by several respected genealogists that one well known site in particular was using photos posted there in advertisements without permission of the posters. Some of the site disclaimers are confusing and misleading. I therefore asked for a clarification from My Heritage. I was assured that the site does not claim to own anything from its users. Further they stated that all rights to that information belongs to the user as stated in their policies. They graciously allowed me to reprint the following:

MyHeritage.com family sites
None of the personal, private information that is uploaded or entered on a MyHeritage.com family site by individual members is viewed by MyHeritage.com staff, or distributed to others outside of your site, except in rare cases involving reported abuse of our use policies or legal statutes. We do collect some data, always with your knowledge and consent, which is used to personalize the site for your convenience and for the benefit of other family members and friends who are included in your site.

A portion of this data, particularly that which reflects members’ lifestyles and interests, may be used in aggregate statistical form to attract potential sponsors and deliver advertising messages to appropriate users. For instance we may tell a prospective advertiser that 10,000 of our members have indicated an interest in tennis, and then distribute an attractive offer exclusively to those users.

In no case is the personal information about individual members sold or otherwise shared with advertisers, sponsors, partners or other 3rd parties. And under no circumstances is this information collected or distributed in any form without your prior knowledge and consent.”

The actual publicity release for Family Tree Builder 4.0 follows:

my Heritage

my Heritage

FINAL: To be released on August 13, 2009

 MYHERITAGE.COM ADDS MAPS TO ITS FAMILY HISTORY SUITE

 New version 4.0 of MyHeritage.com’s Family Tree Builder visualizes family history in colourful maps, and offers Family Chat™ in a new family toolbar

 London, England & Tel Aviv, IsraelAugust 13,
2009 – MyHeritage.com, a leading family and genealogy Website, today announced the release of Family Tree Builder 4.0. With more than 5 million downloads so far, Family Tree Builder is the world’s most popular free genealogy software, allowing seasoned pros and beginners alike to build family trees, research their family history, add photos and videos, and obtain unique Smart Matches™ with other family trees worldwide. The key improvements of the new version include a map module, a family toolbar with Family Chat™ and extensive support for albums to organize a family’s photos, videos and documents.

 

“In recent years we’ve seen a growing number of people who want to learn more about their ancestors and where they came from”, said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage.com. “With the new map module, people can get an appealing visual representation of their family’s life journeys. They can also map the addresses of family members, quickly find all events and photos associated with a particular place and even standardize place names using smart suggestions. This provides a fascinating new perspective for millions of people interested in their family history.”

 

The new family toolbar provides direct access to family sites on MyHeritage.com, adds powerful genealogy search and features Family Chat – a text, audio and video chat system built specifically for family use. Members also receive useful birthday reminders on the family toolbar without leaving the Web page they are on.

 

The Family Tree Builder software – free to download at http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder – is already well respected by family history enthusiasts for its ease of use and excellent handling of photos and other digital media. The addition of albums for organizing photos, videos and documents makes it an even more useful tool. Family Tree Builder 4.0 also adds slideshows for showcasing family photos in appealing ways; and a new screen saver that displays family photos based on tagging and face recognition technology.

 

MyHeritage.com is a leading online destination for families, where people can find relatives, research family history, and stay connected with family members across the globe. In addition, MyHeritage.com offers automatic photo tagging technology that makes it easier to label, organize and search for digital photos, giving families another fun way to stay in touch.

 

About MyHeritage.com

MyHeritage.com was founded by a team of people who combine a passion for family history with the development of innovative technology. It is now one of the world’s leading online networks for families, and the second largest family history website. MyHeritage.com is available in 34 languages, is home to more than 33 million family members and hosts profiles of 360 million people.

For more information, visit www.myheritage.com or http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder

For more information contact:

Paula Santos, Sparkpr for MyHeritage.com            

Mobile: +44 (0)779 551 8335                    

Email: paula@sparkpr.com                    

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Surname Saturday – My Side of the Family!

August 28, 2009 at 19:12 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Surname Saturday | Leave a comment
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Thought I would throw out a few more names we are always searching – but this time they are from my side of the family. My maternal line hails from Scotland and then Ireland – we are looking for Hyndman, Brown, Nelson, and Fleming there. They were in Edinborough, Glasgow, Johnstone, and a few later in PA.  My paternal line were from Germany. The surnames we are searching are Wenz, Schutte, Schatz, and Nagel amongst others. If any of those sound familiar, email and let’s find out if we’re connected or not!

Monday Madness Puzzle Madness

August 17, 2009 at 09:16 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Madness Monday | 2 Comments
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When we were married I wasn’t terribly young but I was naive. I foolishly believed life would be happily forever after, the stuff of fairy tales. We  were in love, what could go wrong? I had no idea my life would  take to so many twists and turns, it would rival soap operas and reality TV. In his early 40’s Valentino was on his way to work one morning when he was rear ended in an auto accident. Although he walked away appearing unscathed, he ended in many surgeries and permanently disabled. We were grateful he was alive and not paralyzed. More importantly our sons still had their dad! Then one early morning a few years later my world crumbled still further. My cousin was her way home from work the evening before. Stopped to make a left turn to her street, she was broadsided by an individual on house arrest (and wearing an ankle bracelet) who passed a line of cars on the wrong side of the road at over 100 miles an hour. She was rushed to the trauma center, into surgery, and into ICU. That morning I planned on visiting her only to be summoning the ambulance for Valentino! It seemed he had what we at first thought was a blood clot but later learned was a calcified piece of a heart valve that broke loose. We then were totally decimated to learn he needed immediate further surgery to repair and replace the heart valves but that the doctors gave him only a 10% chance of surviving! So now family went from ICU to CICU, back and forth in total shock as we watched, waited, and prayed for these two young and vital people to respond and pull through!

Once the immediate crisis passed and we knew both would survive, we helped them begin the long road to recovery. It was during this time I realied not only how blessed we were but also how horribly fragile life is. And then I realized it was long distance calls to family overseas in Italy that sustained me much of the time. Yet our sons did not know most of this extended family even though Valentino and I did. So began a new chapter of my life. I bought software to start work on a family tree for the boys. I wanted to put names and faces to the extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens literally for them. Then almost without realizing it, I was moving sideways into collateral lines and adding more people to the tree. We often referred to people as cousins but I knew they weren’t really the children of an aunt or uncle. Instead I would soon discover they were in reality second or third cousins! For me this was like working on a giant jigsaw puzzle. I wanted to fit all of the names and faces together into a bigger picture so to speak. Except now this puzzle had a lot more than a mere 1000 pieces and the borders weren’t straight edges of a rectangle – these were irregular and growing wider in some places while not in others! Here and there I would have two or three pieces that fit together nicely but I was (and still am) missing connecting pieces in many places. When you try to pick up a puzzle it usually falls apart unless you use some puzzle fixative or glue. The neat part about this family puzzle is that it doesn’t fall apart! The glue that holds it together is love, unending, unwavering love!

Treasure Chest Thursday

August 14, 2009 at 09:04 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Treasure Chest Thursday | Comments Off
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This is the childhood home most of the family remembers best in Itri, Italy. Thiswas not the home until after WWII as it was a replacement for the one destroyed during the war. But it is the one that holds a special place in their hearts because it represents safety, security, love, and family.

Childhood Home

Childhood Home

It’s Tombstone Tuesday!!

August 4, 2009 at 15:19 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Tombstone Tuesday | Leave a comment
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In honor of Tombstone Tuesday here in Genealogy Blog-ville, and in honor of A. Coffin’s blog (great reading I might add!) at  We Tree   I am posting just a few photos of graveyards in Italy. It is interesting how the Italians have compensated for lack of available ground to bury their dead. Aside from the wall crypts, they also have chapels in each cemetery where after so many years, they remove the bones from graves and transfer them to bone rooms under the chapels. This too is consecrated area and where families place flowers and say prayers. Sadly the result is that not enough of the old graves exist for families to use then to track their ancestors. Records of those graveyards tend to also not be complete.

Memorial to Victims of Bombing Raids, WWII in Itri, Italy

Memorial to Victims of Bombing Raids, WWII in Itri, Italy

Just about every city in Italy has its own cemetery usually walled off with the chapel as in Itri.
Sidewall Itri, Italy Cemetary

Sidewall Itri, Italy Cemetary

Entrance to Cemetary Itri, Italy

Entrance to Cemetary Itri, Italy

Closeup Entrance to Itri Cemetary

Closeup Entrance to Itri Cemetary

Sadly many of the gravestones to the older existing graves are falling into disrepair due to lack of funds or to local family there to tend to them. Many localities are trying now to preserve the older graves. Interestingly many graves have simple flat metal crosses, many without names. Most gravestones will have photos of the deceased. I am not posting those closeups because Italy has been enforcing stricter privacy laws and it would not be fair to disrespect them by ignoring their wishes.
Broken Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Broken Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Old Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Old Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

A Funny Happened on the Way To……

July 5, 2009 at 18:18 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips | Leave a comment
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So here I am “wasting a day” reading all my favorite blogs and I get introduced to another one (thanks to Generations Gone By – again I might add!) who set me to  Genealogue which is one of the funniest sites with still offering great tips and information alike. Admittedly they also offer political commentary as befitting the subject but even if you do not agree, you will enjoy the humor! The information is great though and we should all want to be informed even if we end up disagreeing!

Project Completed .. Or Just Begun?

March 15, 2009 at 14:41 | Posted in family history, family research, genealogy | Leave a comment
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As a major undertaking of love for our sons I began a Family History Book for them as Christmas gifts. I had taken over two years to write short vignettes, recounting of family tales, first impressions, sad times, good times,  about how Val and I met, married, traveled to meet his parents for the first time, and of later visits back to Italy. I loaded it with favorite photographs I had taken over the years. Then I went to Ancestry.com and took advantage of the MyCanvas program they offer free on site.

If you have not yet looked this program over, it is worth the time. There are a few bugs or quirks that I learned to work around such as making sure to not privatize the file before importing it. Photos cannot be bulk uploaded yet but it is unlimited uploads. There are great backgrounds available so I was able to personalize ours for an  Italian look easily. One of those quirky issues is that it is not possible to save to a file on your hardrive or to a CD – they want to sell the books. They do however, allow you to print out copies – but with a few simple restrictions. When you print, the pages with backgrounds do “eat” ink so be prepared. Read all the directions very carefully so you do not forget issues like in order to keep all the page enhancements be sure to print in normal mode when that button is shown. It only remembers five pages at a time to print (although you can do multiples of those five pages). I chose not to add page numbers because I kept adding too many pages – next time I will be more organized about who I add when and where so that I can use page numbers too. Overall this is a great product and well worth the time to learn to use it! I bet those leather covers are gorgeous too!

Now we are getting ready for a trip to see family. So now I am saving all my work of the family stories and family tree to a .pdf format and burning to disc for everyone. Carrying multiple books would  be much too heavy, not to mention cost prohibitive to print. Almost all have access to computers so they can enjoy the book in its electronic version and then save a family tree file to their computer to continue to work on! It will be fun to see their reactions to all of the research. The last time we shared information I had about 300 people – it is now at 743 and a total of 9 generations. Unfortunately, the maternal line is only grandparents and a dead end! Absolutely no information has been found on the maternal side yet! Hopefully this trip will finally break down some of those  bricks and allow a little light in! Of course this is all in reference to Val’s family – my side has probably double that many included so the files put together would number a few thousand folks.

My sister has been doing most of the work on the Scottish and German clans of our parents. She has made a couple of beautiful books on both families. She has been able to include a lot of the information of our area of Connecticut where we grew up and is expanding that now to Scotland and Germany. I figure I can let her work on that while I try to pursue as much of Val’s family as possible before we lose any more information. So many of the records from Italy have been destroyed over time and are continuing to deteriorate. And of course, older members of the family have been passing away. So I must do all I can now before we cannot go further back.

So I want to tell you all about a great blog Nan’s House – http://nanashouse.wordpress.com  – she is the type you feel like you are sitting at the kitchen table with and just gabbing away together! Anyway – she is also a genealogy fan and has some great suggestions – one of which I am planning on learning and using for my project. It is called Passages Express – you will find the link on her blog – they offer a free trial before you buy and the price is fantastic! Less than Starbucks lattes for two weeks! I am now working on the trial offer version but think I am going to invest in their deluxe because the price is too good to believe and it seems to be perfect for what I want to do! I like especially that it allows burning of CDs/DVDs in both North American and PAL formats – perfect for overseas family members!Check out Passages Express and Nana’s House – you won’t be disappointed!

Update to Missing Maria

February 14, 2009 at 22:11 | Posted in family research | Leave a comment
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Maria V. is no longer missing but has been found exactly where she belongs! I had already set up my post for today when Valentino and I decided to spend our morning at the local FHL (well, not so local – it is a 25 mile drive one way). Hat tips here to our favorite volunteer John Whitney – he is a true gentleman and a delight as well as one of the most knowledgeable genealogists I have met in person or read! His guidance has taught us so much over the last few years! We brainstormed with him and decided Maria V. logically had to be connected via a marriage certificate or marriage promise because of the information I had on her. I spent the next few hours reviewing microfilms without any luck. But then with five minutes literally to closing – suddenly success was within reach!
The film I was browsing had a section of marriage banns – not something I expected on this film… and they were in the right year range! Sure enough – there it was 1835 and there was Maria V.’s son promising to marry. And there was Maria V. exactly where she belonged – proper parents, proper dates, and married to Raffaele! Even the street addresses matched!
So Maria V. has returned again to our family tree, this time with sources already documented and saved. And copies are printed out and filed in their proper place with plenty of notations on pedigree charts as well where we found her!
Welcome home – la famiglia is happy! What a perfect ending to St. Valentine’s Day !

Maria Has Gone Missing?

February 14, 2009 at 21:26 | Posted in family research | Leave a comment
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I have learned a valuable and painful lesson this week. Even though I have been a stickler about genealogy organization, I have messed up somewhere. One of my future posts will be about organizing and the beauty of proper sourcing from the beginning. Even saving scraps of notes  helps to recreate in order to prevent double tracing over territory already investigated. But that is for a future post. This is about why we all need to be organized and thorough. So do as I say and not as I foolishly did! One of my documents that would prove my research went missing. If I cannot not have that paper or source in hand, I can not definitively prove three generations are properly in place. Two years of work will be worthless and I will end up possibly chasing wrong family lines. Our family tree will take on the appearance of an over-pruned olive tree not yielding olives!

The woman in question has an unusual name unlike any of the more common and frequently used given names in the family… Maria Veneranda. I had her name and approximate dates. I even had her parent’s names! It seemed pretty likely that I did not therefore simply pick a name out of thin air but without proof, sources, I am at a loss. Why this woman took this particular time to go missing is beyond me – a bit of a curiosity. I “know” I had my hands on her paperwork just before Christmas while working on all the genealogy and history books for our sons.

What makes this all the more curious is that she went missing last weekend when I found evidence that her husband had remarried when their son was approximately four or five years old. Interesting because I had no prior information about her death but there was Raffaele living at the same address, correct age, same parents marrying another woman. What was Maria V. trying to say from all those years ago? Was this a painful hurtful episode for her – had she still not been able to let go of jealousy of another woman raising her son? When my youngest was still a baby, we were handed bad news about my medical condition at that time. Doctors warned me to prepare and to expect the worst – there was little hope given for recovery. The admonition to “put my affairs in order” infuriated me, and I burned with jealousy at the thought of another woman taking my place in my husband’s life and raising my children! Even now after 32 years next week I am still very much Valentino’s wife! Suddenly I felt a kinship to this woman; I could sense the agony of a woman over 100 years ago knowing someone else would replace her – had replaced her. If I find her again soon, I promise to be more careful, more respectful of Maria V. She is the direct familial link – it is her son who would be the great grandfather of my husband – it is her genes that pass down to our sons. I have learned once again to source and document and back-up all information! Maria V. is not forgotten – we will search for her to bring her back to her rightful place in the family tree!

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