Sunday, July 1, 2012

Data Backup Day

I admit I've been slacking off a little with backing up my genealogical data. And when I say "a little", what I really mean is "I haven't actually backed up any data whatsoever in, err, months." Tonight I plan to correct this. It's too hot to do anything else, so I'll hook my computer up to my external hard drive and let it work its magic. My reward for doing this will be ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.

Tonight I will also be participating in the indexing spree that FamilySearch Indexing is planning to index 5 million records in a 24-hour period. The 1940 Census is just over 75% indexed, so I hope this helps to finish it off! Now that my state of New York is just about completed, I will probably focus my efforts on my husband's home state of South Carolina. I absolutely cannot wait for the entire census to be searchable. I still have many, many, many people to find!

What's that? I believe that's the starting bell for the indexing sprint! Hopefully the next time I post the census will be 100% complete!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy Census Day!

Happy Census Day, my fellow genealogists! I had such a wonderful case of genealogy serendipity this morning that I just had to share it.

As most of you know, the images are loading on the official website VERY slowly. A tip that was spread around Twitter was to try downloading the entire enumeration district instead, and then do your searching offline. I downloaded one entire ED from a city I was certain of the address, and then accidentally downloaded only the first page of another district. I figured I'd look at the single page while I waited to download the rest of the district.

The very first family? My biological great-grandparents. How's that for genealogical serendipity? Oh! And the second person in the family had supplementary questions! How incredibly lucky!

The majority of my research is my adoptive family. I've been with them since I was five days old. They are my family. But I've recently started to research my biological line. It's been very overwhelming and emotional in a way I didn't expect.

In the weeks leading up to the census, I've been stressing out about who to search for first. My biological family found me instead.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Only Three More Days

The 1940 U.S. census will be released on Monday. Just three more days! I am so excited!

My mother-in-law will be visiting us for several days next week. I won't be very good company as I'll be sitting in front of the computer searching, searching, searching! Hopefully I'll be able to find a few of her ancestors in the census while she's here. That will help make up a bit for being a bad hostess, right? ;)

I know where I'll be 9:00am Monday morning. And Tuesday... and Wednesday... and...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tech Tuesday - Elgato Video Capture

I've been meaning to get around to transferring all of our old home movies from VHS to DVD for, um, years. Almost a decade, actually. To be fair, I did start converting them a few years ago, but I stopped due to computer issues, an unexpected move, and lack of time. (Also probably due to laziness and forgetfulness. Oops?) So when my father asked me about a month ago about possibly getting their home videos back (because I've had them in my possession for so many years), I suddenly felt very guilty and decided it was time to finish this project.

After a lot of research, I decided to buy the Elgato Video Capture device/software to use with my iMac. It's a bit pricey at just under $85.00, but it has been worth every penny and more.

It couldn't be easier to set up. One end of the device gets plugged into the back of the computer, and the other attaches to the hook-ups on your VCR. It took less than two minutes to connect the machines, install the software, and open the program. At that point it takes you through two screens to make sure the video is working (check!), the audio is working (check!), and on the third screen you simply press "Start Recording" as you hit play on your VCR. Once you are finished recording, hit "Stop", continue onto the next screen, and you're finished! At that point I just popped over to iDVD, imported the newly created video, and clicked "Burn DVD". It really is that easy.

I'm already halfway through our collection of just over 30 home videos. The oldest is 25 years old and some of the tapes are in really bad shape. I'm so thankful to be able to transfer these to a newer media type and make copies to share with my family. My sister's son will finally be "introduced" to our grandmother who passed away over two decades ago, and he'll get to see his own mother when she was his age.

I would highly recommend this product. It's simple to use, and the video quality is excellent. There has been a lot of laughter and tears and waves of nostalgia as I've watched these videos over the last couple of weeks. The joy this has brought me is priceless.

(Note: I am not affiliated with Elgato Video Capture in any way. I'm just an extremely happy customer!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Genealogist's Valentine's Day

My husband gave me the sweetest gift this morning for Valentine's Day: a card containing two money orders for death certificates. (Two because the certificates I need are in two different cities.) Such a morbid gift that only a genealogist could love, huh? ;)

I'm spending today filing this never-ending stack of papers and thinking about how these people I'm researching met their loved ones. It makes me sad to know I'll never *really* know how most of them met. I can make assumptions - did they go to the same church? Have a mutual family friend who introduced them? Work at the same company? Both members of the local book club? But the real stories of how they met, how they fell in love... I'll never know.

How many romantic stories are lost to time? Do you know how your parents met? Or how Grandpa finally won Grandma over and convinced her to marry him? I wish I had asked.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RootsTech Excitement

Between RootsTech, the new season of Who Do You Think You Are? premiering this Friday, and the rapidly approaching release of the 1940 U.S. census (62 days according to the countdown widget at!), I feel like a kid at Christmastime!

I won't actually be going to RootsTech, but they will be live-streaming 14 sessions between February 2-4. I plan on watching these from the comfort of my own home... if I can remember they start at 8:30am MOUNTAIN Standard Time. Be sure to check out the Downloads page too, where you can download the Conference Guide as well as a zip file containing the syllabus for every session happening at the conference. It'll be almost as fun as attending in person... right? (That's what I keep telling myself anyway. Grumble, grumble.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go stalk the postman to see if he has any of the genealogical documents I've ordered over the last few weeks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday - A Little Information Goes a Long Way

It's Wisdom Wednesday, but I actually feel pretty stupid.

My great-grandfather's half-brother was cursed with a horribly common name: Henry Smith. Well, actually it felt like * I * was the cursed one. He was nearly impossible to search for between his common name and how little information I had on him. I had his birth date, but I had no idea when he died. I had a WWI Draft Registration card from 1917, and knew he had passed away by his brother's death in 1961. 44 years? That's a pretty vague date range!

I had a pretty good idea where he died though. That's the one nice thing about that branch of the family: once they crossed the pond, they settled into their new city and pretty much stayed there for the rest of their lives. On a whim, today I decided to email the town clerk of the place I was fairly certain he died in. I said I only had the name and birth date, but I figured it was worth a shot. And guess what? I received a reply a few hours later saying they had his death certificate on file! I am sending out a check first thing tomorrow morning. I can't wait to receive it! Even if it is a bare bones certificate with tons of "unknowns", it'll still provide SO MUCH information about this man that I know next to nothing about.

I've convinced myself for years that I was "stuck" with this man because I didn't know anything about him. One email and a few hours later, I've realized how very wrong I was. I'll be fanatically checking the mailbox for the next few weeks!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

I started 2011 with the best of intentions. I set plenty of genealogical goals for myself. Although some were a little ambitious, they were all completely doable. And then the month of June threw a wrench into my plans and everything sort of came to a grinding halt. Health issues and hospitals and bills and family drama and home problems aren't exactly conducive to productivity. And so I didn't get to cross nearly as many things off my list as I had planned.

But honestly? I didn't do all too bad. Out of seven goals, I completed three and did half of two others. Of course, the ones I REALLY wanted to do (scanning all old photos and updating this blog more often) were complete and total fails. But there's always next year, right? ;)

My goals for 2012 are pretty much the same as last year. I've really come to realize that genealogy is my passion in this past year, and I would like to eventually become certified and maybe even pursue this as a career someday. Someday. That day is a LONG way off. But in the mean time, I want to learn everything I can. I want to get back to basics and go from there, devouring every bit of knowledge in my path.

I wish you all the best of luck in your genealogical adventures of 2012 and beyond!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Organization 2.0

Ahhh, "Back to School" time. I love this time of year when all those lovely office supplies go on sale. Not that I need any more office supplies - I have enough pens, pencils, notebooks, paper, staples, binders, index cards, and labels to supply a small country for a year. But when those weekly ads start arriving in my mailbox... well, I just can't resist!

This year a local store had an unbelievable deal on laptops. My husband bought one for me with the stipulation that I use it to organize all of my genealogical "stuff". How could I refuse? I've been wanting a new computer for a while now, one that is a 'Genealogy Only' computer so it doesn't get filled with the normal sort of stuff computers usually get filled with. I have information and files and pictures scattered across several machines dating back to the late 1990s or so. I end up duplicating, triplicating, even quadruplicating research and information because "Oh damn, it's on the other computer" or "Do I have this already? Better make a copy just in case."

One of my goals for this year was to start getting all of my genealogical stuff organized, and now I'm finally starting to do it! I'm getting a late start because my plans were sort of disrupted due to the health problems I've been having, but better late than never, right? I've spent the last several days copying files over to this new laptop. I think I have just about everything transferred. Now I just need to sort it all. I'm trying to do it in small bursts because it's a little overwhelming trying to sort 10+ years of "stuff". But it's so nice to finally have all of my stuff in one place!

Monday, July 18, 2011

*Wipes Dust Away*

Hi everyone! I'm sorry I haven't been around lately, but I've been having some medical issues and a surprise 10-day hospital visit has accumulated a lot of bills and stress and general I-don't-feel-like-doing-anything-at-all-ness. I hope to start updating this blog again soon. I have plenty to talk about, but just can't seem to get out of this funk.

You know what was the most frustrating thing about the hospital visit? Being laid up in a hospital bed for ten days in the city where I need to do a TON of research and not getting a chance to do any of it. At all. Oh, and being basically next door to a huge, beautiful cemetery and not being able to wander around in it. (Oh, and I guess the whole "being sick" thing sucked a lot too.)

I hope your genealogical adventures have been much better than mine over the last few months!