Monday, June 16, 2014

The Scanner in Your Pocket or Purse

The Scanner in Your Pocket or Purse 

Genealogists have lots of uses for scanners. We like to make digital images of information from books, court records, old maps, and even records found on microfilm. High quality portable scanners are inexpensive these days, typically $50 and up. You can occasionally find them at even lower prices if you watch the sales. However, convenience is always an issue. Do you really want to carry a portable scanner with you at all times just in case you happen to encounter something you want to digitize?
Actually, you probably already have such a scanner with you every time you leave the house.
Today’s Apple and Android smartphones typically have excellent, high-quality digital cameras built in. These make terrific scanners. Need to digitize a record in the deed books or the receipt you just received from a fast food restaurant? Make sure you have good lighting and snap a picture of it. I have been doing that for years and find it works well.
The handheld cell phone’s camera may not create images that look as good as those produced by a good flatbed scanner. You might not want to scan documents or photographs you later wish to publish in a book. However, the images are always more than “good enough” for my personal notes. I also travel a lot and I used to collect all sorts of pieces of paper as receipts from restaurants, taxi cabs, shuttle buses, and more. Keeping paper receipts for tax purposes results in a mountain of paper receipts of all shapes and sizes. I find it much easier to store and retrieve the receipts electronically. I snap a picture, file it, and then throw the paper copy away. I have read that the Internal Revenue Service actually prefers digital images when doing an audit. The IRS auditors also do not like to wrestle with hundreds of pieces of paper, they find digital images easier to work with.
For some time, I simply snapped pictures and saved them to various folders in my desktop computer’s hard drive, along with backup copies in the cloud. However, using a specialized app installed in the cell phone results in additional convenience and often also results in higher quality images. Some have automatic page edge detection so that all you save is the paper, not the surrounding background. Others create PDF files as well as the more common JPG images. Some even feature direct upload to Dropbox, Google Drive or Evernote so that the user doesn’t have to remember to do that manually at a later date.
Best of all, using a cell phone camera to digitize images does not harm the paper being digitized. Most other scanners require placing the old or delicate piece of paper into the scanner and, worst of all, some scanners move the document being scanned through a series of rollers. Never attempt to do that with anything fragile! Even sending a photograph through rollers that bend the item being scanned can result in damage to the photograph. Using a cell phone’s camera avoids those problems as the cell phone never touches the item being digitized.
All of today’s “cell phone scanning” apps are much cheaper than buying an additional scanner. All the apps I am about to describe are available in the Apple iPhone and iPad App Store or in the Google Play Store for Android systems.
iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch
Of all the available cell phone “scanning” apps, my favorite is TurboScan for the iPhone. This $1.99 product allows the user to create multiple-page PDFs, as well as JPEGs. It provides edge detection and adjustable contrast settings for the camera’s settings. The images of color photographs captured by TurboScan are not high quality but does create excellent black-and-white reproductions of documents and even of faded cash register receipts. It includes a “SureScan 3x” feature which merges three exposures, an excellent tool for use in low-light situations. The results typically are much better than the simple photographs you snap without using specialized software.
Scanner Pro for iPhone and iPad is probably the “top of the line” portable scanning app. It is the most expensive of the apps I have seen with a price tag of a mighty $6.99. (Do you really still want to buy a scanner for $50 or more?) Scanner Pro includes real-time border detection for better framing as well as iCloud sync for keeping your scans backed up and in sync with your devices and direct upload to Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote. If you need an app that does everything, Scanner Pro is probably it.
CamScanner+ is a $4.99 app for iPhone and iPad that allows the user to fax scans directly (for a fee), tag entries, collaborate, identify text and even set a passcode to secure your private documents. There’s a free version available that uses advertisements and watermarks your scans, among other limitations. I believe it works well but I abandoned FAXing years ago so I don’t use CamScanner+ . However, if you still use a FAX machine, CamScanner+ may be a good choice for you.
CamScanner+ is also available for Android devices. A free version is available that watermarks your scans and limits some of the app’s more useful features. In effect, the free version is useful as a free trial but not something you would want to keep and use regularly. Who wants scanned images with watermarks prominently displayed? You can try out the free version and, if you decide you like it, then pay $4.99 for a full-featured version without watermarks.
Mobile Document Scanner, also known as MDScanner, sells for $4.99. It features multi-page support. That is, instead of having to take 10 pictures of a 10-page document and then having to store them as 10 separate files, Mobile Document Scanner allows the user to take the 10 different pictures and then stores the result in one larger file that contains all 10 pages. It also includes edge detection of each document and a range of processing options for making text, pictures or whiteboard drawings stand out. I believe the Android user will find Mobile Document Scanner to be an excellent choice for digitizing all sorts of documents you encounter while out and about.
Whatever your choice of software, using a cell phone’s camera provides a lot of capability in a convenient package you probably already have with you. On your next trip to a library or archive that allows scanning or picture taking, try using your cell phone’s camera. I suspect you will like the results.

--Courtesy of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter  15 June 2014

Who Do You Think You Are TV series on TLC July 23 8 pm EDT

Who Do You Think You Are?’s Fifth Season on U.S. television Premieres on July 23

TLC Network has signed on for another season of Shed Media US-produced Who Do You Think You Are?, will return with six new episodes this summer. The series, which delves into the ancestral history of public figures and celebrities, will feature contributors including Valerie Bertinelli, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lauren Graham, Kelsey Grammer, Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen McAdams, and Cynthia Nixon.
The fifth season premieres on July 23 at 9 p.m. EST/PST. Check your local listings for the channel near you.

--Courtesty of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter dated 15 June 2014 at

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Death of Microfilm -- Dick Eastman Post 30 May 2014

The Death of Microfilm [not if the original agreements do not allow the film to be digitized (reproduced)!]

Genealogists love microfilm. Visit any genealogy library anywhere, and you will see genealogists in darkened rooms, hunched over microfilm viewers, trying to solve the puzzles of their family trees. I have taken several pictures of genealogists sitting at rows of microfilm readers. However, I suspect that within ten years those pictures will become collectors’ items, recalling an era that exists only as distant memories in the minds of “the old-timers.” You see, microfilm and microfiche are about to disappear.
Many of the manufacturers of microfilm and microfiche equipment have already disappeared or else have switched their production lines to other products.
The problem is economics: microfilm is expensive. Those who wish to preserve data find it faster, easier, and cheaper to scan documents on computer scanners and then make the information available as disk images than it is to do the same thing on microfilm. Hospitals, insurance companies, government agencies, and others have already made the switch from microfilm to digital imaging. Genealogists are among the very few still using microfilm and even that number is dropping rapidly.
The demand for microfilm and microfiche equipment is dwindling. Without demand, manufacturers no longer can afford to manufacture the necessary equipment. Microfilm cameras and viewers are becoming as uncommon as buggy whips.
Microfilm cameras are almost impossible to purchase today, except perhaps for used units on eBay or at some garage sale. Twenty years ago, Bell and Howell manufactured thousands of microfilm cameras each year. Ten years ago, production had dropped to hundreds per year. Since then, the company has ceased manufacturing microfilm cameras and dropped them from the product catalog, all because of decreasing sales. Most of Bell and Howell’s competitors have also stopped manufacturing microfilm and microfiche equipment.
Without cameras, no one is going to be producing new microfilms. We genealogists are going to be limited to the microfilms that were filmed years ago. However, this assumes that microfilm copying equipment is still available. The fact is that even that even microfilm duplication equipment is disappearing. The duplication equipment already in place requires maintenance and occasional spare parts. Those parts are rapidly becoming unavailable.
Of course, in order to make copies, you also must be able to purchase rolls of unexposed film. I am told that supplies of new film is also disappearing as demand drops. All the major manufacturers of microfilm have dropped out of that business although a few specialty manufacturers still sell new microfilm. Prices for unexposed rolls of microfilm are now four times the price of a few years ago, or higher.
Within a decade, it will be difficult or perhaps impossible to obtain a copy of an old microfilm, even to replace a worn-out copy of a microfilm you already own. Nobody will have the equipment or the rolls of unexposed film with which to make copies!
In addition, making a copy of a microfilm introduces fuzziness, or what the engineers call “visual noise.” Then, making a copy of that copy introduces further loss of image; copying that copy adds still more, and so on and so forth. However, a copy of a digital image is identical to the original. You can make copies of copies of copies of digital images, and each new image is identical to the original with no signal loss. Making and copying digital images is faster, more cost-effective, and easier than doing the same with microfilm.
For years, genealogists have proclaimed that digital images will never replace microfilm because “the media (computer disks, tapes, etc.) doesn’t last long.” CD-ROM disks last only 25 years or so. Floppies don’t even last that long.
The genealogists who make those claims are ignoring one very simple and cost-effective solution: copy the images to new, fresh media every few years. Remember that each digital copy is identical to the original, unlike microfilm. A digital copy of a copy of a copy is still as good as the original.
With images stored on disk, it is almost trivial to copy the images to new disks periodically. If technology changes, such as DVD disks replacing CD disks or Blu-ray disks replacing DVD disks, the old images are simply copied to new media. If file formats change, the old formats are easily converted to whatever new formats become popular.
With that process in place, the life expectancy of digital images becomes almost infinite. In fact, any well-managed data center already makes backup copies on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. If the images are available online, they are already being copied regularly to (new) backup copies. Who cares about the life expectancy of the original disks when you always have a fresh copy on a new disk?
Any archive charged with storing a collection of images will find the periodic copying of digital images to be much cheaper than trying to maintain a large collection of microfilm images. In short, digital imaging ensures that future generations can have the same access that you and I enjoy, something not possible with microfilms.
The next equipment to disappear will be microfilm viewers.
Go to any large genealogy library today, and you will still see rows of microfilm viewers. I hope those libraries take good care of them. Ten or twenty years ago several major companies produced microfilm and microfiche viewers. Several small companies still manufacture viewers today although most of the “big names” in the business have dropped out. The small specialty manufacturers of today cannot depend on genealogists alone for future sales. Sooner or later, they will also drop out as their customer base disappears. I am guessing that you will not be able to purchase a new microfilm viewer ten years from now. Even worse, you won’t even be able to purchase spare parts for the worn-out units your library already owns.
Within the genealogy world, FamilySearch, an arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), has traditionally been the biggest user of microfilm equipment. With this huge investment already made in microfilm, you might expect the LDS Church to continue using microfilm forever. That’s not true, according to numerous announcements made in recent years. FamilySearch is already moving away from microfilm, replacing it as fast as possible with digital images, mostly made from the old microfilms.
The printed books in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City are also being copied to digital images whenever copyright agreements with the authors allow. The result is that many more books are now available (by looking on computer screens) than ever before. The Library simply isn’t big enough to store all the printed copies but storage space is almost a non-issue with digital versions. Even better, the books may be viewed by patrons many thousands of miles away, again where copyright agreements allow.
To be sure, the LDS Church still owns quite few microfilm cameras but no longer uses them to film old records at various locations around the world. Nobody has been able to purchase new cameras for years. The units that were in use kept wearing out, and the original manufacturers no longer sell spare parts. For a while the Mormon Church even contracted with small machine shops to make spare parts for the cameras, but that soon became cost-ineffective.
The LDS Church has now moved to digital imaging. The focus has shifted from microfilm to making digital images on site – in the original repositories – with no microfilm involved. The acquisition teams use a laptop PC and a scanner in much the same manner as you and I do at home, although the scanner is more sophisticated and ruggedized than the typical unit sold to consumers.
A separate activity involves the conversion of the millions of reels of existing microfilm created over the years by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to digital images. That effort has been underway for several years.
To be sure, millions of rolls of microfilm already exist, and they will not disappear overnight. We will continue to see microfilm readers in libraries for several more years. However, as new microfilms become unavailable, replacements of existing microfilms also become unavailable. As the reels of microfilm become scratched from use, replacements will not be available. As the microfilm viewers wear out and replacements are no longer available, the result will be inevitable.
Luckily, digital images are faster, more cost-effective, cheaper, and more practical. With periodic copying, digital images have infinite “shelf life.” They are also easier to “send” to Family History Centers around the world and to other libraries.
The price of a new PC for use by library patrons has now dropped to under $500 while a new microfilm viewer designed for heavy-duty library usage, if you can find one, costs $1,000 or more. Even better, it is relatively cheap to allow library patrons to view digital images from their homes, something that is much more difficult with microfilm. The superior quality and availability, along with the lower cost of production, maintenance, and duplication, are a boon to us genealogists as well as those who follow in our footsteps.
Within a few years, some of us will be telling newcomers, “I remember the good old days when we had to hand-crank microfilm viewers. There was none of this modern stuff where everything appeared on a computer screen.”
Would you please hand me my slippers and cane? I’m going to go sit in my rocking chair and look at my old (digital) pictures of genealogists sitting at rows of microfilm readers.


In an era of digitization, why does NARA continue to microfilm records?
Northeast Document Preservation Center:
Heritage Archives archival microfilm company: Why Microfilm?
A simple Google search shows dozens of companies selling microfilm, scanners, and related supplies. Millions of rolls of microfilm exist in thousands of archives throughout the world. Microfilm isn’t going to disappear “in a few years.”
One holdup to this disappearance of microfilm is whether the film owners have rights to publish records in a different format. It’s possible a contract FamilySearch signed 40 years ago only allows for microfilm reproduction. If the archive isn’t willing to negotiate a new contract, the only way to view those records externally may be to view the film copy. Didn’t something similar happen with the old FamilySearch dos program and the Scotland church records?
You mention the cost savings of digital, but fail to address the cost to convert existing microfilm records to digital. “A separate activity involves the conversion of the millions of reels of existing microfilm created over the years by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to digital images. That effort has ben underway for several years.” The deep pockets of LDS enable that to be undertaken. Most small to mid-size public institutions do not have the time, money, personnel or resources to undertake that scale of a project.
What is the process to convert microfilm to a digital image, assuming the paper record is no longer available?
I just hope that all the records that currently are only available on microfilm at the smaller repositories – like county departments – get digitized before the ability to read the documents disappears. We recently looked for records at the local Register of Wills – who had the microfilm but no reader, as their old reader “broke.” Fortunately, the local library still has a reader (& it’s a small town, so it was OK to take the microfilm from one building to another). Unfortunately, before it broke, the old Register’s reader had badly scratched the emulsion on the film. No one seemed to know if the records/film had been digitized.
Couple of issues here. One is the challange of getting documents now onto digitized media from either where the originals are held or copies. It is not yet clear if a lot of libraries are going to either convert their holdings, replace the holdings with digital images or just not do either and eventialy withdraw the microfilm (and the things on it) from circulation because the present equipment becomes unrepairable.
There are cases (don’t ask it will cause trouble) where institutions said they copied stuff to microfilm but don’t seem to have done so as it doesn’t appear to exist and then the originals managed to get “recycled”. I shouldn’t even get into the issue of things like developed x-ray film (and other types of film) being processed to reclaim the silver.
Sorry about all the negative waves. Its been an interesting couple of weeks with things like a church cemetery with a beautiful website but you are not going to be allowed to view the sacrimental records (baptism as alternative or supportive of birth records with “sponsors” who could be relatives/actual records of marriages with such little things like witnesses and sometimes parents) and the “little” challenge that the church seems not to have plot cards for a lot of plots (which you can’t look at in any case because two whole families with different surnames are in there per the town but as there are no headstones, the people are no in the website for the cemetery….arrrrgh
Dick, from the standpoint of technological advancement, your argument makes sense. However, as the assistant director at a medium-sized library with a very representative genealogy/local history collection, including microfilm of every extant newspaper published in our community, our observation is that it’s not about technology, but digital rights. We own, on microfilm, newspaper images for our community dating back to the mid-1870s. If we didn’t have microfilm, our institution would be at the mercy of vendors offering access (not ownership) to those images, at a price unaffordable to us, and generally to the great majority of public libraries, even if we grouped ourselves together into consortia to pool resources. It should also be noted that, while images for many pre-1923 newspapers are available, and many late-20th century papers were born digital and print, digital images from the period in between are often scarce. So, be careful what you wish for–while the technology exists to ease microform technology into the museum, the economic model has yet to evolve for access to a significant segment of digital content, for mid-20th century newspapers especially, at a reasonable cost to genealogists.
    Don, what you described is probably the biggest problem of all today with microfilm: the legal issues.
    The technical issues are clear and most everyone I talk to in the microfilm business tells similar stories: microfilm is going away. I have discussed this with senior officials at FamilySearch, as well as with people at the National Archives and Records Administration, The National Archives of Great Britain, NewsBank, (a company that is digitizing thousands of old newspaper images that are on microfilm or on the original paper), ProQuest (another company that is digitizing thousands of old newspaper images that are on microfilm or still on the original paper), Footnote (later acquired by and re-named Fold3, a company that is digitizing millions of old documents from both paper and microfilm), at the American Antiquarian Society (believed to be the largest repository of historic American newspapers) and from a company I won’t name that contracts microfilm conversion work for most of the other organizations I just mentioned. All of them tell similar stories about the obsolescence of microfilm.
    Some predict that new rolls of blank microfilm will become unavailable within five years while other believe it will be twenty years. Whatever number you choose to believe, the results are the same.
    The technology solution is simple but the legal complexities confuse me. There are all sorts of concerns about copyrights and about contractual issues between the companies that made the original microfilms and the organizations that hired them to do so. I am not an attorney so I won’t write about the legal issues. However, I am aware that it is a serious problem, especially for those who do not hold the rights to reproduce the microfilms they already own.
This period of transition from microfilm to online digital versions of historical records is presenting problems for researchers who rely heavily on records that seem to be low priority to be digitized and are paying steeper film rental fees to the Family History Library just as their local Family History Centers have stopped maintaining their viewers. If you need a viewer that takes a high-magnification lens, you’re even more out of luck — two out of the three viewers at my FHC that do this weren’t functioning on my last visits; the one remaining machine is the only one from which patrons can scan or print record copies, so patrons must compete for that one machine. With several dozen films on permanent loan that I can’t move from that FHC to one with working equipment and limited hours for access, it’s challenging to carry out one’s own research, not to mention trying to help others. Digitization can’t come soon enough, and in the meantime, Family History Centers have a responsibility to maintain adequate viewer resources so patrons can actually use the microfilms they’ve paid for.
Our library holds over 1,500 rolls of microfilm. We bought 2 digital readers last year. We won’t be getting rid of anything for the forseeable future.
While you joke about the desire to crank through a microfilm, I’d much rather have that option than viewing browse only digital images on my home computer. I can locate an index in the middle of a collection very quickly with microfilm. The same process is painfully long when guessing at the location and waiting for the screen to refresh as I page through the digital version. Until all the digital collections are indexed, I’ll happily continue to use microfilm.
I agree with Nancy. Whizzing through a microfilm on a reader to get to the exact page is so much easier than the “hunt and peck” method of locating that page on the computer. On the other hand, I was at the Family History Library recently and the two microfilms I needed were already being used by others. I was so happy to find those films had been digitized, and that I could use the computer to read the records, even though it was not as fast as using the microfilm reader.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ONLINE Searchable DEATH INDEXES and RECORDS -- reprint from Dick Eastman 20 May 2014

Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records at

One of the great online tools for genealogists is the “Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records” web site maintained by Joe Beine. It is a directory of links to other websites with online death indexes, listed by state and county. Included are pointers to death records, death certificate indexes, death notices and registers, obituaries, probate indexes, and cemetery and burial records. You can also find information on the site about searching the Social Security Death Index online.
The listings are listed by state with a few large cities also having separate indexes as well.
The Death Indexes web site has been around for years but continues to grow and grow as Joe keeps finding more death records available online. If you don’t find what you want today, stop back in a few months and you may find it then. The site is “barebones” with no fancy graphics, no style sheets, and no advertisements. However, it is easy to use.
If you are looking for a death record, start first at

Friday, May 16, 2014

Norway Celebrates Its 200th Anniversary—Online Data Making It Easier to Trace Your Norwegian Roots

Norway Celebrates Its 200th Anniversary—Online Data Making It Easier to Trace Your Norwegian Roots


To see or leave a comment, CLICK HERE

Norwegian Flag--shutterstock_100853455If you have family roots in Norway, you have a celebration coming up. The bicentennial of Norway’s independence is May 17th. There are almost as many descendants of Norwegians in the U.S. (4.5M) as there are in Norway today (5M). Norwegians are the 10th largest American ancestry group in the US. There are more descendants of Norwegians worldwide than native Norwegians—but more about this country’s fascinating history and independence in a moment.
First, if you want to research your Norwegian roots, here are some tips from Nordic genealogy experts.
Liv H. Anderson was born in Kristiansund, Norway. Liv has been fascinated with Norwegian genealogical research since she was 12 years old. “I love everything about it except the dust on the books,” she says. She moved to Salt Lake City in 1968, gaining her degree and certifications in genealogy at BYU. Today she works helping patrons of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City with their Norwegian research.
Anderson suggestedLIv Anderson Family History Library Norwegian Research Specialist, “Find out everything you can about your ancestors in the United States. Find who was the first emigrant to the US from Norway. Then find that person in a census report. That will help determine the place of birth in Norway.”
There are many other facts you can look for to help your research. “Find the year your ancestor emigrated and what port they left from. That will open up emigration records,”Anderson says. “Those records can lead you to father and mother, grandfathers and grandmothers. Find the church they went to. That also opens up records of the past.”
There is a galaxy of Norwegian genealogical records. They are by government and church, farm and county. If you can acquire the initial information about the emigrants, people such as Liv Anderson at the Family History Library in Salt Lake can guide you.
Resolving the complexity of Norwegian records is the specialty of Alfhild Aanensen, a native Norwegian and service missionary with For years Aanensen has been diligently coordinating much of the work of the FamilySearch Norway Project—digitizing Norway’s rich farm history books (bygdeb√łker) dating back to the 1700s and creating a searchable regional database online of the individuals who resided on these farms.
AanensenBygdeb√łker are also the earliest way of identifying locations and locations of families. Compiled by local historians, they are excellent local histories and reveal who lived on which farms throughout generations, who may have inherited the farms, who may have immigrated to what country, and when they died.
Aanensen is also part of a team that is painstakingly reconstituting all of the families found in these publications into online family trees, one book at a time. It’s part of a pilot project called FamilySearch Community Trees. Aanensen noted that the FamilySearch Norway Project could move much quicker if there were more Norwegian volunteers.
Aanensen has gathered over 1 million names already through this project and is publishing them by clerical district (the area included in the congregation of a church, another reason to trace ancestors back to what church they attended).
Aanensen has been working on this project in Salt Lake City for 5 years. This summer, she must return to Norway for 6 months to satisfy her work visa. She is looking forward to getting back to her desk in Salt Lake as soon as possible to continue her contributions on the FamilySearch Norway Project.
If you are just getting started with your Norwegian family research, Anderson and Aanensen suggest starting with searches on and the Digital Archives of Norway. These two sites provide church, census, probate, emigration records, and more. If you need research assistance, try the FamilySearch Wiki. It includes research guidelines and links to a host of additional online Norwegian resources.
If you have the luxury of attending the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, go to the Nordic section and ask for help. You can also seek online assistance from the Family History Library staff on the Facebook, Norway Genealogy Research page. If you know where your Norwegian ancestry originated, you can try the Norwegian American Genealogical Association or many other bygdelags (ethnic organizations) for assistance. These organizations are comprised of descendants of emigrants from each particular area of Norway (see for more information).
Norway has one of the longest and most interesting histories in the western world. Up to A.D. 872, Norway consisted of small kingdoms. After 800, Viking expansion united much of the country. In A.D. 1000, Christianity was brought by Olav Trygvasson and Alav Haraldsson. From 1523 to 1814, Norway was united with Denmark. In 1814, Norway adopted its own constitution, providing for an elected legislature and a constitutional monarch.
That’s the 1814 John Hartvigsen Proudly Displays Norwegian Flagwe’re celebrating—the bicentennial of Norwegian Constitution Day, May 17 (Syttende Mai in Norwegian). The celebrations are held in many nations. Children are emphasized in the parades. In Salt Lake City, the celebration is in the Peace Gardens at Jordan Park, 1000 South 900 West. If you don’t have Norwegian ancestors, just show up and someone will probably hand a Norwegian flag to you, adopting you for the day.
John Hartvigsen is a vexillologist who takes his grandchildren to the Syttende Mai celebration at the Peace Gardens every year. As a vexillologist, he is an expert in the history, symbolism, and use of flags.
Shown here with the Norwegian flag, John says Norwegians in the US proudly display them as a symbol of their heritage. At the parades celebrating Norway’s Independence Day, all may participate—as long as they carry a Norwegian flag.
Norway added a blue cross inside the white Danish cross with their first efforts to be independent. Denmark ruled Norway from the 14th century until 1814. When Denmark found itself on the losing side of the war with Napoleon, Norway was given over to Sweden. Norway quickly created a constitutional monarchy on May 17th.
Hartvigsen’s ancestors lived on an island in the northern part of Norway. They immigrated to the US long ago as Mormon pioneers.
Most Norwegian emigrants settled in Minnesota or the upper Mississippi Valley. Almost 1 million Minnesotans claim Norwegian ancestors. Utah’s pioneer heritage includes prominent Norwegians. Knud Peterson of Hardangar, Norway, emigrated in 1837 and was one of the early settlers of Lehi. Ellen Sanders Kimball of Telemark County, Norway, wife of Mormon Church president, Heber C. Kimball, was one of the three women in the first company of Mormon pioneers to enter the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
Children Celebrate Norway Independence
Hartvigsen grandchildren at the May 17 celebration children’s parade at the Peace Gardens.
If you’re a descendant from one of the many “Sloopers”(a nickname for Norwegian immigrants after the type of ship they first immigrated in) who celebrate Norway’s Independence Day on May 17th, you should check out some of the resources listed above to find your ancestors. Or better yet, add to your family tree online, add some of your family photos, or some of your favorite Norwegian ancestral stories. If you don’t have Norwegian blood, you’re still welcome to most Norway celebrations being held throughout the country this Saturday, May 17, including the one at the Peace Gardens. Just grab a flag when you get there and wave it like an official Norwegian celebrant.

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Do I Still Need a Desktop Genealogy Program or is Family Tree Enough?

 Renee's Genealogy Blog, May 15, 2013

To see comments, go to Renee's Genealogy Blog: Do I Still Need a Desktop Genealogy Program or is Family Tree Enough?

 Do I Still Need a Desktop Genealogy Program or 

is Family Tree Enough?

If you're a family history consultant then you have probably came across this question. "Why do we need a desktop program?  Can't we just use the FamilySearch Family Tree instead?" At RootsTech 2013 I attended an Unconferencing session hosted by Gordon Clarke, FamilySearch API Program Manager. This same question was asked of the Tree Share Panelists: Bruce Buzbee (RootsMagic), Luc Comeau (Legacy Family Tree), Gaylon Findlay (Ancestral Quest), and Dovy Pukstys (RealTime Collaboration/AncestorSync)
I am going to try and recap their thoughts and my own as to why we still need a desktop program.
1. In theory it would be lovely to work only on the web, but Family Tree does not have the power that a desktop program can give you. The same features in a desktop program would be too costly to recreate on the web. 
2. People want to keep some things private, especially if it can be embarrassing or hurtful to other family members. They don't want to share certain things until they are ready to do so. Information that is private can be vital in how you come to conclusions in your research. There is more security having your database under your total control on the desktop than the web will ever be. The Family Tree is also not intended as a place to record information on living individuals. Being able to have both the living and the dead in one family database seems to eliminate a potential hassle and security concerns.
3. Custom reporting is a big reason for maintaining your own database with a desktop program. Analytical reporting and queries on the desktop would be very expensive in a web application. The bandwidth needed would be very costly. Online applications will not have the processing power that is available on a PC. They just cannot compete with your computer resources. The reports from a desktop program look more professional than the website versions. You can also save reports made on the desktop as RTF files and massage them exactly the way you want in Word. This gives you a lot of control and a great advantage.
4. In a desktop program you can have more than one database. You can have a database with proven research and another with those that are not. In the research process you can come across individuals that may be part of a family. In the desktop program you can continue to do more research and prove your conclusions before you add them to the Family Tree. If instead you added your assumptions to Family Tree while building your case, others that have access could change your findings. It's also easier to sift, sort and compare electronically people in your database than online.
5. The web vs. the desktop has two different purposes and usually two different audiences. The web is used to attract people to genealogy, to share with others and get them interested. When people really start researching their family history you will find they start using a desktop. They have to because the web is a box and doesn't fit everyone and doesn't have all the power as the desktop computer. The desktop is where the real success and real concrete evidence is finalized for a real researcher.
6. There are a lot of people that still are not online. When you put your family history online you can only share it with family members that are online. There is a need to be able to share in other ways. You could create Shareable CDs or books with your family history to share with others. These types of options will not be available with online applications. 
7. Desktop programs allow you to organize and analyze your data in a particular way. You can create special groups of people based on specific search criteria.  For example: finding everyone living during the 1940 US Federal Census. Then you can focus your research efforts on those individuals for that data set. 
8. Life gets busy; people tend to work on their family history in little pockets of time. Desktop programs have To-Do Lists and Research Logs that help you manage and track your research efforts. They help you keep records on your thought process and what records you have searched. You can record which records you want to look at in the future as the impressions come to you. These are great tools in breaking down brick walls and furthering your research.  You're not spinning your wheels trying to remember where you left off each time you get back to your family history.  In the long run this makes a person much more productive with the little time they do have to devote on their genealogy.
9. With a desktop program you can get very comfortable knowing its not changing on you. With a website the company can change things really quickly and you have no control over that. Everyone that uses the website is forced to change.  With a desktop program you can stay with an older version if desired and not be forced to change. The desktop programs interface between New FamilySearch and Family Tree is likely to stay very similar to each other. If you were only using the websites you suddenly experienced a whole new learning curve.
10. One great customizing tool in the desktop program is color-coding. You can select a specific person and color his ancestors. If your 2nd cousin color-coded it would be different lines. A community environment doesn't give you that customization. 
11. The desktop program have internal record numbers (RINs). People get used to memorizing people in their file by record numbers. On the web that would be very hard to wrap your head around the numbering systems. 
12. From a web developer KISS is the entire world. Keep it Simple... the most successful websites are the simplest ones. Desktop can go as complex and customizable as desired. The web treats everyone as one person. It's hard to give that customization. The web mimics what the desktop has already done. People will continue to use desktop programs because the developers innovate in the way genealogist care about. Web guys innovate in ways that will bring more users, but not necessarily better research. 
13. If you have your data in a desktop program and something happens to you it's still on your computer and someone can find it. If all your data is sitting up on a company's website and that website disappears you don't have your data. Your data is actually safer in your possession because you can make sure you've got backups.  You make sure that as media type's change you take your data and migrate it and use different formats. So if one of them happens to go down or disappears you still got the data in a format. To keep your data on a website or in a single cloud it's at your own risk. 
14. How many people that only used New FamilySearch have now lost data, with the migration to Family Tree? Not everything has been transferred over. What do they have as a reference to make sure the records are now correct?  Do they need to manually retype all the changes in again? Each time you retype data you add the element of human error while doing so.  In a desktop program you can compare your data with what is on the Family Tree. Then send an exact copy of what is in your database if changes are needed. Are you confident that Family Tree will not be replaced in the future with something else?
15. As a genealogist I have experienced where I needed to go back several years of research to an old backup to see what it was at that period in time. You can't get that picture in a website, because it is always changing. By making backups routinely you have a historical snapshot of what the state was at that point in time. 
16. If you only keep your family history on Family Tree you are missing out on finding potential researchers working on your lines. The more places you share your research on the web the greater potential you have of finding other family members. Desktop programs allow you to create GEDCOMs to share your data on other websites. You can upload your database to, WorldConnect, Geni, and MyHeritage, to name a few. You can also create your own websites with desktops programs and host them yourself. These in turn can be searchable in Google where other researchers can find you.
17. Maintaining your own database is the only way you can be sure your data or some portion of it has not been lost, corrupted mechanically or merged improperly.  Some temple ordinances have been lost or have choked in the pipeline.  If you have your own records on what has been done previously you can help FamilySearch find the missing ordinances and restore them.  If you are dependent on FamilySearch maintaining those records you have nothing to fall back on.
18. When you use a desktop program to interface with Family Tree you will stay connected as long as you don't close the program. On the Family Tree you will be periodically logged out if you are inactive for even a short period of time.  Anyone that does research will need to step away for a few minutes to consult other resources, their research logs, or just analysis their findings.  Having to continually log back into Family Tree is very time consuming and frustrating and doesn't make for a good experience.
19. In a Desktop program you can choose colors, fonts, display styles for names, dates and places. You can set up your database to show in the way that will best assist you in your tasks.  An online application does not have that ability. 
20. Desktop programs provide a variety of "Dashboard" features for tracking your temple submissions and their progress. It's easier to determine who still needs their ordinances done and which have been completed. You can manage your temple cards and record which family members you have assigned them to. 
21. Desktop programs can help keep you in touch with living family members that are not interested right now in family history. It can be a great tool in planning family reunions.  You can determine very easily all the living descendants of a common ancestor. Most programs include a way to record contact information. You can also generate calendars showing family members birthdays and other special events. 
The Family Tree is a great tool, but it is just not there yet to replace the desktop programs.  Maybe in another 10 years the technology, bandwidth and computing power will evolve enough for it to do so.  For now, there is still a great need for the desktop programs. Family Tree and the desktop programs actually need each other.  The Family Tree helps by getting new people interested in working on their family history.  It's a starting point for them.  The desktop programs in turn receive new customers when the Family Tree users realize they need more features to help them manage their research efforts. This in turns helps them come to better conclusions in their research that then can be added back to the Family Tree. 
FamilySearch is doing a wonderful job by allowing third party affiliates (genealogy software programs) to interact with the Family Tree through their API. It bridges and brings the online experience within the desktop experience. You can have the best of both worlds together.  To learn more about the third party affiliate programs certified to sync with Family Tree check out the following link:
See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 Brookings Family History Fair May 3

Brookings Family History Workshop 


A Taste of the Largest Family History Conference in the North America
—Rootstech 2014—

If you would like a taste (beginner, advanced or hobbyist) of the largest-attended Family History Conference in the North America (over 10,000 attendees) without having to pay a $190 admittance fee or travel hundreds of miles to view/hear a wide variety of current topics in Family History, along with live speakers, please plan to attend:

Saturday May 3, 8:00– 3:30 pm

Brookings Ward The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints, 200 22nd Ave, (south of Hospital)
Northeast door
Sponsored by Brookings SD Family History Center and Brookings Area Genealogical Society

For Information or  Registration Forms emailed to you, contact:
Pat Walker 605 534 3103 or Liz Gorham 605 692 4551

Registration and Check In    8:00 am - 8:30 am

           Welcome     8:30 am

 Note: Some Syllabuses Already Online Now! 

 *Live Speakers—Remainder are RootsTech 2014 pre-recorded classes

Session 1 – 8:50 – 9:50 am

  • *Navigating FamilyTree by Jean Steele* Learning to add and edit people; search and attach sources. This will be a hands-on workshop.  You are not required to bring a device, but if you do bring your own device, (to follow along with the instructor) you should have already registered at FamilySearch at by clicking on upper right corner "Join for Free". Laptops rather than mobile devices seem to work best for the search options. There are some minor limitations on mobile devices for entering and searching items on Family Tree. Bring what you have and we will work with it
  • Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results by Josh Taylor When using a search engine pressing Search often yields an large amount of search results. Discover ways to manage online searches and read between the lines" of your results. This presentation includes search engines and popular family history websites
  •  How to Use YouTube for Family History by Lisa CookeIf you have a free Google account, you can have a free YouTube channel for your family history. Learn about:  Setting up Your channel, uploading your first video, customizing your channel layout, organizing channel playlists.

Session 2 – 10:00 – 11:00 am

  • *Writing a Moment From a Life by Mary Haug* Focusing on writing narratives about your family history to enhance genealogy work that focuses more on factual data.  The instructor will talk about how she began writing her own memoir by focusing on one small moment, event, or character at a time. If time permits, the class members will write a response to a writing prompt. She will also provide a bibliography of books on memoir writing
  • Piecing Together History: Crowd-sourcing Events by Cheri Daniels As a technology driven society we have focused most Crowdsourcing initiatives on social media venues and electronic collecting methods. However, a balance of tech and nontech approaches is necessary to reach a generation in transition.
  • Effective Database Search Tactics by Kory Meyerink    Your research success depends on knowing the best way to search each different collection. Boolean, truncation, keyword, fielded data, proximity, phrase, wild cards and wild words are not foreign terms, but rather your keys to genealogical success!

    Session 3 – 11:10 am – 12:10 am

    • *Best Free Genealogy Websites by Jodi Sides*. Looking at best websites for climbing your tree without emptying your wallet.

    • Finding Your British Roots by Elaine Collins Old World, New Records: as the Key Resource for Tracing British Ancestry - 35' BONUS - 5 Ways to Do Genealogy in Your Sleep or Visit FHC last 1/2 hour.

    • Getting the Most Out of Ancestry by Christa Cowan (of – Cover 5 major areas of Ancestry website and favorite tools to advance your research.

    12:15 pm Lunch

     Join us for a $7.50 prepaid (by April 26)  
    Payable to: Brookings Ward
    Sandwich, Salad, Desert Lunch or 
    bring a lunch or visit nearby eateries

    Session 4 – 1:20 – 2:20 pm

    • *Who Will Write the Next Chapter in Your Family History? by Larry Cool*.

               This class is geared toward your next generation.  
     It is an interactive class so bring your laptop or your Ipad. 
      • The class revolves around 6th through 12th grade students.  At some point in this time frame of a student’s education, their history, social studies, or English teacher will probably have them write a paper on their family.  They may also be part of an organization such as the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts where they may be able to earn a merit badge or some other rank or credit for doing research on their family’s history.

        You do not have to be this age to take part, but if as an adult you have a youth who is your son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, or nephew, bring them along.  If you are able to bring your grandfather or grandmother, so much the better.
    • How to Scan an Elephant by Denise Levenick Learn how and when to achieve best results using a digital camera, mobile scanner, or portable device to digitize your awkward family keepsakes and oversize research materials

      • Intro to DNA for Genealogists by James Rader  Family historians are presented with many tools in Genetics and DNA. This session is the first and will introduce the concepts and methods used in applying DNA results to Genealogy pursuits 


      Session 5 – 2:30 to 3:30 pm

      • *FamilySearch Search, Wiki and Blog by Perry Hanavan* FamilySearch (FS) provides free access to billions of records as well as  a powerful search engine for ancestors.  FS Wiki is about finding records that may have been generated about your ancestors and the places where the records might be found. The FS Blog keeps researchers current with family history information.  Search, Wiki and Blog will be introduced and examples provided.
      •  Finding Family/Ancestors Outside the US with New Technologies by Daniel Horowitz Learn how MyHeritage can help break down brick walls in your research outside of the US by harnessing the power of an international family history network.
      •   Basic Online Resource for Beginning Genealogists by Lisa Alzo This session will walk beginners through the exciting journey of genealogy as to what information is online, how to effectively search databases, and share information with others.

      Visit the Family History Center (FHC) for Individualized Help (Sign up at Registration)

      Click Here for more Information on our FHC--contacts, hours, holdings


      Why LDS do Family History

      Personal/Family History Display

      Puzilla and other Family Tree Add Ons You Didn’t Know About

      We invite you to pick and choose from a smorgasbord of topics that will satisfy your hunger for new information and ideas, timely topics and chance to mingle with fellow researchers from a wide geographic area.

      Subscribe via email or check this page often for further details!


      LOCATION: From I-29, take Brookings Exit and then west, through 2 stop lights to 22nd Ave S stop light, then turn left going south onto 22nd. On the left or east side of 22nd, just south of the Hospital, turn left into parking lot next -- Click on Location above or on this link for Online map

      Nearby eateries-- Click Here

      Click on and drag the map below to see the other eateries. Hover over a marker to see the names of the eateries. The workshop is just south of the pink area and north of Larson Park--turn in just north of Yorkshire Drive.

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