Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Genealogical Research Lesson from Laura Ingalls Wilder (Mocavo Blog 15 Nov 2014)

 Please visit Michael J LeClerc's Genealogy News Blog at Mocavo for entire story....

"A Genealogical Research Lesson from Laura Ingalls Wilder"

15 Nov 2014 "Those of us of a certain age remember Monday evenings starting with four notes from a French horn and the Melissas (Gilbert and Sue Anderson) running down a hill of daisies with their baby sister.  For the next hour, the nineteenth-century adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family played out across our television screens in Little House on the Prairie.
We all knew at the time that the show came from the Little House series of books penned by Laura (Ingalls) Wilder later in life. The nine books told the story of her family from her parents coming together in Little House in the Big Woods to the early period of her marriage to Almonzo, in The First Four Years."

View the blog to see how important the role of biographies, histories, diaries play in our ancestral research...  

Here in South Dakota we have a unique access to the historical lives of Laura and her family at DeSmet at Discover Laura.  Visiting museums and historical centers can give us great examples of how to gather, organize, preserve and share our own family's history.


The real Laura Ingalls Wilder, ca. 1894, from Wikimedia Commons.
The real Laura Ingalls Wilder, ca. 1894, from Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, November 17, 2014

How to Find a Lot of Personal Information about Anyone

How to Find a Lot of Personal Information about Anyone

Subtitle: How Anyone can Find a Lot of Personal Information about You
NOTE: This article is being cross-posted both here and in my new Privacy Blog as this subject seems applicable to both.
Numerous online sites have been available for years that sell personal information about you or about anyone else in the United States. However, one site seems to take this “service” to new heights: InstantCheckmate.com. The service isn’t free, but it is low-cost. The service is available to anyone with a credit card and an Internet connection.
Instant Checkmate collects and sells an amazing amount of information about U.S. residents, including criminal records, court appearances (even where the person was judged innocent or if the case was dropped), charitable contributions, sex offender databases, information you provided on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more), professional and business licenses, real estate transactions, and even appraisals of real estate owned, voter registration records, employment records, marriage records, birth records (including birth records of the children of the person in question), residential addresses, and more.

When I did a search on my own name, Instant Checkmate found all sorts of information about me, including my FAA-issued pilot’s license.

Question: Do you want others to know all about you?

Instant Checkmate also provides the names and addresses of sex offenders who live near the person in question. Yes, you can pay for a search on yourself to see what information Instant Checkmate has about you, and the company will then provide the names and addresses of sex offenders who live near you. Of course, sex offender information is available elsewhere (free of charge) at the U.S. Department of Justice web site at http://www.nsopw.gov as well as on a number of other web sites as well.

So where does Instant Checkmate obtain all this information? The answer is “from legal sources as all of it is collected from public records.” If you post information or a picture of your newly-born child on Facebook, that information is available to everyone, including to Instant Checkmate and other companies that collect personal information. Court records are public, as are real estate transactions, birth records, marriage records, death records, and much more.

NOTE: There may be a discussion about birth and marriage records. Some government agencies may restrict access to governmental records of births and marriages for a number of years, but anyone can still legally obtain the same information from newspaper announcements and other sources. Some states even restrict access to the states’ death records, but funeral homes usually submit the same information to newspapers and to Legacy.com and other publishers of obituaries. Anyone, including Instant Checkmate, may legally obtain the information from these publicly-available sources even without access to government records.

In short, Instant Checkmate compiles reports from millions of public records, including social media web sites, newspapers, all sorts of web sites, and also from federal, state and local governments. All of the information contained in Instant Checkmate’s reports is part of what is referred to as the “public record.”

As you might expect, obtaining a report from Instant Checkmate costs money. However, there appears to be no way of obtaining a single report for a one-time fee. Instead, Instant Checkmate requires the user to sign up for a subscription. That is, the user gets charged every month and, in return, can obtain a number of reports about different people every month. The monthly fees are:
$22.86/month provides reports about an unlimited number of people for one month.
$14.86/month provides reports about an unlimited number of people for 3 months.
$9.86/month provides reports about an unlimited number of people for 6 months.

Sound confusing? Here is the statement from the payment page on the Instant Checkmate web site:
“To get unlimited reports, select a one-month membership for $22.86, a three-month membership for $44.58 ($14.86/mo), or a six-month membership for $59.16 ($9.86/mo). Your membership will automatically renew for the same term unless you cancel before the start of the next term. Instant Checkmate will charge the recurring membership fee of $22.86, $44.58, or $59.16 (depending on the membership option you select) to the same card you use today until you cancel. To cancel, call 1-866-490-5980 24 hours a day.”

A different page on the same web site says:
“Your five day $1.00 trial lasts until [5 days from today]. If you would like to cancel before the trial ends, you may do so for any reason and you will not be charged again. Simply call 1-866-490-5980 to speak with one of our Customer Service Representatives 24 hours a day. Otherwise, your trial membership will end on [5 days from today], at which time you will be charged the standard monthly rate of $29.63. Your membership will automatically renew every 30 days thereafter until you cancel.”

I find it interesting that the pricing on the web site says a one-month subscription costs $22.86 but on a different page on the same web site states, “…at which time you will be charged the standard monthly rate of $29.63.”

So… If I sign up now, Instant Checkmate will charge my credit card every month forever and ever until I call them on the phone to cancel? Does the company make it easy for a caller to cancel? Or are they like AOL, which makes it almost impossible to cancel? I have no experience with Instant Checkmate, but I well remember the experience with AOL: being routed all over the company by transfers from one department to another, listening to music on hold for extended periods of time, and eventually being sent to voice mail from which I never received a call back.
Again, I have no experience with Instant Checkmate. However, based on my previous experiences with other companies that make it almost impossible to cancel an automatic renewal on my credit card, I am always suspicious. I gave Instant Checkmate a “virtual credit card number” that allows for a maximum charge of $30 and also expires next month. The company will not be able to renew the charge without my approval. You may or may not want to do the same.
NOTE: I will write in the near future about how to easily obtain a “virtual credit card number” that expires on the date that you specify and will have a maximum charge amount that you specify.

Is Instant Checkmate worth the money? I suspect the answer will vary from one person to another. The company certainly provided a lot of information for the money I paid. However, I consider the method of automatically-renewing credit card charges to be a shoddy business practice. I only do businesses with companies like that when I can use a “virtual credit card number” where I control all future charges.

I certainly am not comfortable with the fact that all my information is available to anyone who can spend $22.86. How about you?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Elephind: A Digital Newspaper Collections Search Engine

Click on the above image to view a larger version.
Elephind is a great service that searches online digital newspaper collections. Best of all, it is available free of charge.
Elephind.com is a search engine that operates much like Google, Bing, and other search engines. The one thing that is different with Elephind is that it searches only historical, digitized newspapers. It enables you to search for free across many newspaper sites simultaneously rather than having to visit each collection’s web site separately.
At this time Elephind has indexed 2,677 newspaper titles containing more than two and a half million editions, ranging from March 1803 up to August 2013. The Elephind search engine has indexed 141,628,238 items from 2,677 newspaper titles. These include such well known sites as Chronicling America (the U.S.’s Library of Congress) and Trove (National Library of Australia), as well as smaller collections like Door County Library in Wisconsin. Many of the smaller newspaper sites are not well known and may be difficult to find with the usual search engines, but they are searchable from Elephind.com. A list of available newspaper collections that have been indexed so far is available at http://goo.gl/VRQN5l.
Additional newspaper collections are added to Elephind’s indexes frequently.
I found that Elephind operates in much the same manner as many other search engines. If you already know how to search for things in Google, Bing, Yahoo, or elsewhere, you already know how to use Elephind. In fact, there are two search methods available on Elephind:

1. When you first visit the site at http://www.elephind.com/, you are greeted with a very simple search screen containing one data entry box. You can search for words or phases in much the same way as you do on Google although not all of Google’s sophisticated Boolean search terms are available on Elephind. You can find tips for using the search box at http://goo.gl/3T6JuH.
2. When visiting this same site at http://www.elephind.com/, you will also see a highlighted link for “Advanced Search.” When you click on that, a more sophisticated search form appears, allowing you to narrow the search to any combination of specific newspaper titles, country, or a range of dates.
I did a search for my own last name between the years 1811 and 1890 in the United States. It returned far too many “hits” for me to search through; so, I started narrowing the search by specifying first names and cities or towns of interest. I was soon looking at information of interest.
I was impressed with the clarity of the newspaper pages I was able to view; but, of course, that is under the control of the individual newspaper collection. Elephind does not host the images on its own web site. Instead, it merely links to newspapers found on a wide variety of servers in a number of different countries from around the world.
Elephind.com is a great tool for family historians, genealogists, and researchers to search historic, digitized newspaper archives from around the globe. Will Elephind locate newspaper articles about your ancestors? There is no way to tell in advance. You need to try it for a while to see. It is a free resource, so why not try it to see for yourself?
Elephind may be found at http://www.elephind.com.
Elephind is continuing to add more newspapers, so if at first you can’t find what you’re looking for, check back later. You also might want to add your name to the Elephind mailing list at http://eepurl.com/ndGhb to receive an email message whenever a new collection is added.

German Digital Church Book Portal is Now Online

Newsletter reader Ernie Thode wrote to say that an announcement of a new online site was made at the German national genealogy conference in Kassel on September 13. The beta test of the German digital church book portal is now available.
Of about 140,000 individual church books in Germany, the records of about 35,000 (25%) have been digitized thus far. Most of the German Protestant regional church bodies are participating, others and Catholic archives and civil registrations may be joining in later. There will be a fee.
I used Google Translate to display much of the introductory text in English. This may be an imperfect translation:

From the parish register portal to Archion: start of the beta test
The beta test of the church book portal is launched on the German Genealogentag in Kassel on 13 September. More information about the Beta test follow.
The Church Literature Portal GmbH will operate their web portal under the name “Archion”. In “Archion” will find the words archive and online again. A reduction of the project on two essential concepts. But the word “arché”, ancient Greek for beginning and origin is included. We find that fits perfectly with the concept of genealogy, more about the question “Where did I come from?”, Ie the origin out.
The vision of the Church Literature Portal GmbH is to open up next to the church records and other sources for genealogical research. The term “church book portal” is clearly designed for church books. If z. B. State Archives or municipal archives participate and want to represent civil registers online, the name is too restrictive. One should also keep open to make other archival materials online. “Archion” as a neologism is simply free in its possibilities, it is limited not only by her name.
The entire web site is in German. You can access the site at http://www.kirchenbuchportal.de and at
http://www.kirchenbuchportal.de/inhalt.htm.
Payment information is available (in German) at http://www.kirchenbuchportal.de/bezahlen-im-internet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

  From AncestryInsider Blog dated Sept 9, 2014 at http://www.ancestryinsider.org/

Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Genealogy Websites for 2014

The Ancestry Insider is one of Family Tree Magazine's 101 Best Websites for 2014.A friend tells me that the Ancestry Insider is honored this year on the Family Tree Magazine list of the 101 Best Genealogy Websites for 2014! I visited their website and, sure enough, there I was! There are many, many websites better than mine, so it is a pleasure to be named. The Ancestry Insider was one of the five websites mentioned in the “Best Genealogy News” category, alongside Dick Eastman, Dear Myrtle, Lisa Louise Cooke, and the RootsWeb massive set of mailing list, where you can here the news about pretty much any subject, locale, or surname.
David A. Fryxell put the list together again this year.
Click the category below to see the best websites from that category:
This is especially meaningful because the editors at Family Tree Magazine provided encouragement to me in this newsletter’s earliest stages, when I was painfully aware of my ragged writing. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. Thank you, Family Tree Magazine!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Master Genealogist to be Discontinued

 This article can be viewed directly from Eastman Genealogical Newsletter July 29, 2014 at http://blog.eogn.com/2014/07/29/the-master-genealogist-to-be-discontinued/

 IF ANY OF YOU HAD TMG AND ARE LOOKING FOR A NEW PROGRAM, PLEASE EMAIL ME AND I CAN SEND YOU A COMPARISON CHART OF 3 MAJOR PROGRAMS WITH 3 FREE TRIAL VERSIONS AND OR LET YOU TRY ALL 3 AT OUR FHC

 The Master Genealogist to be Discontinued

Sad news! The following announcement was made today by Bob Velke, the owner of Wholly Genes, Inc.:
I am sad to report that the decision has been made to discontinue The Master Genealogist (“TMG”).
While thousands of TMG users appreciate the program’s many powerful features that are unmatched in other software, the market for those advanced features has proved to be insufficient to support the infrastructure that is necessary to support it and continue development. A variety of my own health issues have also contributed to this decision as I have fewer opportunities to focus on the things that would be necessary to develop and market the program.
There is every reason to believe that TMG will continue to work for existing users for the foreseeable future but official support will end at the end of 2014, although we may release some more bug fixes (but no new features) before that. In the interest of those who may want to communicate their data to family members or upgrade to the latest release, we will continue to sell the full product and updates through September with the understanding that product development has been discontinued.
After the end of the year, I expect to maintain the support forum which would be available for user-to-user support. Other online support forums, including the TMG-L mailing list, are also available to users.
For 25 years, TMG has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of genealogical software and promoted the highest principles of scholarship in record-keeping and reporting. It has encouraged users to expect more from their family tree software, especially in the area of source citations, and the industry has responded by setting new and higher standards in its suite of “standard features.” To lesser degrees, programs have begun to emulate some of TMG’s other innovative features, including its powerful filtering/searching functions, flags, customizable screen layouts, shared events (i.e., witnesses), and narrative output options.
As genealogical data has become more sophisticated, researchers have been increasingly confronted with the many limitations of GEDCOM in transferring that data. For more than two decades, our GenBridge technology has demonstrated that much more complete and accurate transfers can be achieved through direct imports. Other family tree programs have implemented the GenBridge technology or developed similar direct-import strategies, resulting in the preservation of precious data for countless researchers.
I am proud of the leadership role that TMG has played in the evolution of genealogical software and I encourage TMG users to continue to press developers to raise their standards and implement features that allow researchers to do the same.
In the interest of preserving users’ data, I have released a document that details TMG’s internal file structure and I will make GenBridge available for free to developers who wish to produce a direct import from TMG insofar as their programs support the same features.
It goes without saying that this has been a painful decision and is a significant milestone for me. TMG has been a major part of my life for more than 25 years and it is not easy to let it go. I recognize too and regret the degree to which it may leave researchers uneasy about the future of their data and the prospects for their research tools. I am taking a necessary step back from the genealogical community but with the hope that my contribution to it has left researchers better equipped to accomplish their research goals.
Bob Velke
Owner
Wholly Genes, Inc.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

South Dakota Receives More Than $294K to Digitize Historic Newspapers

South Dakota Receives More Than $294K to Digitize Historic Newspapers

South Dakota has been granted more than $294,000 in federal funds to digitize 100,000 pages of historic state newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. The funds will help preserve and promote South Dakota’s rich history.

Brief details may be found in the Washington Times at http://goo.gl/UDyiCj.

Reprinted from Eastman's Genealogy Newsletter July 23, 2014 at http://blog.eogn.com/2014/07/23/south-dakota-receives-more-than-294k-to-digitize-historic-newspapers/

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