November 28, 2015

Google Book Search – A Genealogist’s Dream Come True

Imagine that you have always wanted to find more information about one of your ancestors, but you had neither the resources, time, or any idea on earth where to find it. Imagine too, that you knew of a book or author who had written about your family member, but you had no idea where to start to look for said book.

Have you considered looking in Google Book Search? As a little exercise in discovery, today I did a cursory search in the database for books about Rose Farm, my cousin William Livingston Holmes’ home that was built by him circa 1847 in Oregon City, OR. What came back is astounding: Books 110 of 1,041 on rose farm Oregon. (0.05 seconds). That doesn’t mean that every one of those books has the exact information I am looking for, but my chances are pretty darn good that there will be at least a few that contain additional information that I might not have already.

One of the things I like about the Google Book Search too, is that if you do find a book you would like to refer to later, you can add it to your ‘library’ and come back to it later. In addition, you can also click on handy links to find the book in a library, or buy it outright from a site like Amazon or Alibris.

The goal for Google, from before its implimentation, has always been to make information available to the world.  What had kept them from doing that with books had been the threat of lawsuits and copyright complications. Just this week though, on October 28th, they have reached an agreement with a large group of authors and publishers to grant digital access to millions of in-copyright books. Not only does it make access to these books available, but it also opens a new market for those authors and publishers to sell their work. Rather than me telling you all about it here, please read New Chapter for Google Book Search on their blog.

I wonder if they will eventually take self-published genealogy and family tree books? 😉 Not so much for the monetization, but just for the sheer ability to share our research with other potential family members!  Yes, I know we can do that alread in limited ways, but to be able to share it with the whole world…priceless!

Faces Of America – Telling AMERICAN Stories

Genealogy Catches On

How many years have we waited to finally get some genealogy related programming on TV?  The “hobby” has come a long way from public libraries and genealogical societies to prime time television, hasn’t it?

The Debate

It’s inevitable that there will be debate over the format and content of programs like Faces of America and Who Do You Think You Are?.  Tonight’s second installment of Faces had people in the Facebook genealogy community discussing whether having celebrity’s families as the focus of the program was worthwhile.  It depends on if you’re a genea-phile or just a regular “Joe” watching.  Like it or not, someone is paying for that programming even if it is PBS (aka, you and me).  As such, they have to make sure there’s a good variety of people with interesting history, but they also have to begin the series with notable people to “sell” it to the non-genealogists.

The Result

I’m OK with that, and I’ve even gotten past the ‘jumping around’ of the stories as Faces of America progressed tonight.  Do I wish they would stick to one story and tell it clear through? Of course.  But I also understand that if they did that it wouldn’t satisfy the people who came to see their favorite celeb’s family history, so like a good recipe you get a little smidge here, and a dab of something else there.  “Keep them wanting more“, right?

Hope For Future Shows

No doubt, the current producers of the show are taking note of what is being said, pro and con, and if there is another (second) series they may change things or stay with the same formula. Do we really care that much?

No, I don’t.  I think it’s much more important to capture the interest of the viewing public any way it can be done.  Our society is in serious moral decay, with family unity and honor a casualty of great proportions.

If there is something to snag the interest of people it’s going to be that we show them that all people have a story, not just Meryl Streep or Mario Batali.  We have to take baby steps to get the ball rolling.  We need to start with the Yamaguchi’s and hope that the next series will progress to American’s in yet other walks of life.  We all have a story, and I, for one, think all of them are interesting.

Global Cousins, American Citizens

Let’s open our minds and embrace the gift of history and genealogical knowledge that Faces of America’s content is presenting to us.

Two Tips For Organizing Aquired Genealogical Records

When I first began keeping genealogy records, I was able to save them right on my hard drive, but over time I found there were just too many to keep that as a long range plan. Census records, photos, PDF files, and even web pages need to be kept in one place, but not necessarily just on my hard drive.

I had already put many of my scanned photos and documents on disks which really makes it easy to use my computer to access them quickly.  All that said, hard drives are still the heart of any computer you can use as a holding area until you decided how to disseminate your records where you want them.

  • If you’re just beginning your genealogical research, a tip I would suggest is to make sure you give names to all your documents, or put them in some logical and format.  For instance, when I save census records I begin the file name with the year, name of the head of household and state abbreviation.
  • Before I began scanning and saving photos in earnest I created surname folders for them, and put them in a main folder I named for each designated family group.  That would be for me: Yates Family Photos and then sub-folders like Barnett, Dawson, Kelsay, etc.,  for the allied family names.  It really isn’t all that time consuming if you do it so you can find the folders and files easily. If you start out organized you will end up enjoying record keeping much more.

Do you have a method you like to use on your hard drive to keep files under control?


Compensated post

Wordless Wednesday – Genealogist’s Vacation

Only a genealogist would find the humor in this cartoon!

Click on image to see original