31 October 2012

Piecing Together 'The World's Largest Jigsaw Puzzle'

Image as appeared with original article


Today is Halloween and I just couldn’t bring myself to do a piece on cemetery records and so wanted to share an article (NPR website) about the use of computer technology to reconstruct shredded files ...

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, frantically tore up millions of files gathered during decades of spying on its own citizens.

More than two decades later, the vast array of secret papers collected by the Stasi is still in huge demand. So far this year, 70,000 people have applied for access to the Stasi archives.

Many are young Germans — some searching for information about relatives, others just eager to know more about their country's past.

To help meet this demand, archivists are now using groundbreaking computer technology to reconstruct those shredded files.

Do read the full article as it talks about E-puzzler which is a fascinating bit of software being used to help reconstruct the shredded files ...

There's another option: pattern recognition computer technology developed by German scientists, called the E-puzzler.

The E-puzzler is basically a shredding machine in reverse. You scan torn-up documents into it. It matches up the pieces using color, paper texture, fonts, tear lines and other details.

"The E-puzzler works in the way that a person doing a 1,000-piece puzzle would work. You start at the edge. You look for the forest, you look for the lake and the sky, and that is exactly how the E-puzzler works," says Joachim Haeussler, the archivist in charge of digital reconstruction.

Though most of us don’t have ancestors from East Germany, it’s fascinating to learn how technology is being used to help with this huge jigsaw puzzle!

Have you ever opened a folder or box at an archives to find that you essentially have a pile of document pieces?  Wouldn’t it be neat to scan those and have something like e-puzzler re-create the original documents?  

What other technology or apps are out there that help with the reconstruction of partially destroyed documents?


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Editor’s Note: If you still feed the need for a piece about “cemeteries” for Halloween, here are some past Upfront with NGS posts where “cemeteries” are mentioned:

·    UpFront with NGS: Going digital at the cemetery

·    UpFront with NGS: America's Only Jewish Military Cemetery





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30 October 2012

Generous Genealogists -- FREE Genealogy Research and Support




Mark Rabideau has launched a new website, Generous Genealogists. Volunteers donate their time to provide research, networking, and coaching to the genealogy community at large. Building on the mission and the intent of the now defunct Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website (see editor’s note), the “golden rule” for the Generous Genealogists community is to “help others as you would be helped.”

The site includes brick-wall forums, coaching and mentoring articles, and, of course, an
army of volunteers. 

Need help with a problem? Are you in a position to help others with their genealogy and family history research needs?  If you answered yes to either, do check out this website!

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Editor’s Note: the generous volunteering of services that takes place in our community was previously discussed in this Upfront with NGS blog post:

RAOGK -- an important and often overlooked resource for on-the-ground genealogical help! And as reported, sadly, the founder of this effort, Bridget Schneider died in November 2011.

Editor’s Note: we also learned of a new site, Genealogy and Family History Beta. This is a collaboratively edited question and answer site for expert genealogists and people interested in genealogy or family history. It's 100% free, no registration required.



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(11 Nov 2012) NEW -- Editor’s Note: Apologies for not acknowledging the "sources" for where I learned about this news!  APG eNews, Vol. 1, No. 3, October 2012 (for the 1st paragraph), and Thomas MacEntee on FB and Dick Eastman's blog EOGN for additional insight.

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29 October 2012

Disasters and Genealogy -- our ancestors were greatly affected by natural events, like "Sandy," also!



With “Sandy” approaching and many taking important safety precautions ... I thought it appropriate to post about past disasters and related and how they impact our search for our ancestors.  It might be that records are missing due to a natural disaster.  Or maybe crops were destroyed, factories ruined or livelihoods otherwise impacted.  This may have cause families to move, prematurely filled cemeteries, etc.  Unfortunately, disasters do give us records about our family – often not records of the warm and fuzzy kind and yet how they were affected by a disaster tells us a lot about their lives and our heritage!

Though, I have to laugh as I went to visit my favorite “disasters” site, GenDisasters, since it has a genealogy focus to find that the message on the home page reads ...

This page has gone missing. It could have been lost at sea, swept away by a storm, or been buried under a landslide.

The page may be here hiding under a different name. So, there's a good chance that we have the article on that train wreck, hurricane, fire, etc.

Please click below to go to the main page of the site - from there you can use the search engine or browse the articles by state or province, type of disaster, and year - to see if you can locate the material.

And, if you just do a Google (or similar) search on GenDisasters – the sub-pages are listed and you can still use the site.  For example, this link takes you to the “browse by state” feature.

Here are some other articles and resources for incorporating “disasters” and related into your research as well as the stories of your ancestors:

  1. Diseases, Disasters & Distress: Bad For Your Ancestors, Good For Your Genealogical Research
  2. Top 10 Deadliest U.S. Natural Disasters
  3. Timelines of Historic Disasters & Epidemics

Do you have a favorite source for information about what disasters might have befallen our ancestors?

Were your ancestors affected by such?  My great grandmother died in the flu epidemic of 1918 and I have not yet uncovered any “natural” disasters in historical records though I will never forget hurricane Fran when it hit Raleigh in 1996 ...





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Little Boxes (In the Archives) (Parody)



Sometimes it is fun, just to have fun!

Need a quick fun fix – check out this video.

Have you recently viewed any quirky, funny, made you LoL (Laugh out loud) videos that bear any connection, however close or far to genealogy and family history research?





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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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27 October 2012

Learn How Death Records Can Add to Your Family Story




Check out this neat Ancestry.com site on Death Records.

Not only can you learn about various types of records (a nice overview of some of the records you might want to look into) and there is a contest running through 2 November where you can try for prizes!

As Halloween approaches, checking into death records seems to fit!


Did you learn about a “new-to-you” place to search for to find death records?  Did you win a prize?



Editor’s Note: You can “read” the information death records for free, though, to participate in the various contest challenges, an Ancestry.com subscription is required.


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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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26 October 2012

New Voices of Genealogy Release: Frederick C. Hart Jr., CG, FASG “Becoming a Genealogist”




From guest editor, Arlene V. Jennings

The National Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the October video release honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ): Frederick C. Hart Jr.’s reflections on ”Becoming a Genealogist.”

An electrical engineer by profession, Fred Hart’s inclination for problem solving trumped his prior lack of interest in history when he discovered discrepancies in published histories of his mother’s family. He took on the challenge of resolving the differences and became dedicated to the discipline of genealogy. Planning to build a second career when he retired, he began to undertake client work and in 1993 earned the certified genealogist credential.

Fred is the genealogist for the Connecticut Ancestry Society and has been a prolific contributor to Connecticut Ancestry, the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and The American Genealogist. He was named a fellow of the American Society of Genealogists (ASG) in 2007 for the quality and quantity of his published genealogical scholarship.

The video was produced by award winning filmmakers Kate Geis and Allen Moore from an interview by Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG, co-editor of the NGSQ. Frederick C. Hart Jr., CG, FASG, “Becoming a Genealogist,” is now playing for all NGS members at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.

Previous releases in the Voices of Genealogy archive now playing at the NGS website (http://www.ngsgenealogy.org) present Robert C. Anderson, FASG; Mary McCampbell Bell, CG; John Frederick Dorman, CG (Emeritus), FASG, FNGS, FVGS; David L. Greene, PhD, FASG; Ronald Ames Hill, PhD, CG, FASG; Henry B. Hoff, CG, FASG, FGBS; Harry Macy, FASG, FGBS; George Ely Russell, CG, FASG, FNGS; and Shirley Langdon Wilcox, CG, FNGS.

Video interviews with leading genealogists represent just one of the many opportunities NGS offers its members for honing their skills. Members receive the society’s outstanding quarterly publications, the NGSQ and the NGS Magazine, and can also take advantage of free courses and significant discounts on publications, courses, and the NGS annual conference to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, 8–11 May 2013; Richmond, Virginia, 7–10 May 2014; and St. Louis, Missouri, 13–16 May 2015.




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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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25 October 2012

WWII War Ration Books

Image as appears on referenced page


GenealogyToday has a really neat page about WWII Ration Books

I love the introduction to the page which really captures what we all think, at one time or another.

Genealogists are always in search of new record sources when confronted with a brick wall. Well, can you think of a resource that not only gives you name, address, age and occupation, but also height and weight of a person? Interestingly, the ration books issued during World War Two attempted to capture* these items.

Currently the collection includes over 11,000 entries and there is a nice search feature.

Though my father’s family is not yet found listed here (Acey in Salem MA), more than likely they did receive rations.  My father’s father and several grandparents all died before 1945 and I know that the family lived in pretty dire circumstances.

And, that didn’t stop me from looking around and boy are these neat!  I did NOT “really” appreciate their existence until I started looking around here.   

And, there is a nice series of article links where one can learn about ration books! 



Have you tracked your family through ration books?  Did you make any neat discoveries? Always like to hear about what readers have found!



Editor’s Note: The Ames Historical Society has a nice online exhibit about Ration Books etc during WWII as does the American Centuries site.

  





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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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24 October 2012

New York City welcomes The Genealogy Event this weekend, Oct. 26-27




Terry Koch-Bostic, guest blogger, is a member of the NGS Board of Directors.

This weekend on Friday and Saturday, if you are in the vicinity of New York City, consider penciling in some time for The Genealogy Event (TGE).  The Genealogy Event www.thegenealogyevent.com  will be held in the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th Street in Manhattan) starting at noon on Friday, 10/26 and at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, 10/27. The Genealogy Event is the creation of Bridget Bray, organizer and founder of TGE in NYC. Bridget is a self-described genealogy enthusiast and the organizer of the New York Irish/British Genealogy Group (www.meetup.com/The-Irish-British-Genealogy-Group/) and a volunteer at the New York Irish Center (www.nyirishcenter.org).  Bridget extended her personal passion for genealogy in 2009 by founding the NY Irish/British Genealogy Group, a free membership network for various stages of genealogy experience; even she was surprised at its rapid growth to nearly 190 members. Bridget saw another opportunity to inspire and help an even broader audience uncover their heritage, so she made a decision to leverage her eighteen years of combined event management and business development experience and designed The Genealogy Event to offer the enormous New York based population, of all ages and ethnicities, an opportunity to start or sharpen their research skills and discover their roots.

The Genealogy Event offers the opportunity to meet local and national genealogical societies, attend genealogy lectures, see exhibitors who can offer various genealogical products and services, or have a one-on-one session with a professional genealogist. There are more than 40 speaking sessions with a variety of excellent lecture topics like DNA, immigration records and African American research to choose from ─ presented in 30 minute timeframes (http://www.thegenealogyevent.com/uploads/SCHED.pdf ). Speaker sessions will be first come/first served on site, so come early to reserve a seat for your choice of lectures. I will be giving two lectures, one on using surname variations in your research and one on using NY newspapers to uncover your family history. I hope to meet some of you there.

The National Genealogical Society is excited to see this kind of event being offered in NYC and will have a booth (# 304) for attendees to visit at The Genealogy Event.  NGS considers an essential part of its mission to bring the highest quality of education to Americans interested in furthering their genealogy and learning. Current and potential NGS members will have a chance to meet NGS Board members Arlene Jennings and me (Terry Koch-Bostic) at the show.  We will be there to answer questions and help advise attendees on NGS’s educational opportunities ─ from our annual four-day NGS Family History Conference (May 2013 in Las Vegas), to our excellent publications, to our many home learning courses.  Join us this weekend at The Genealogy Event ─ we’re hoping it will be the first of many opportunities to meet fellow genealogy enthusiasts in NYC.

SHOW HOURS:
Friday October 26th:
12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday October 27th:
9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

VENUE:
Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, NY, NY 10011
Located centrally and in proximity of major transit routes.  Please see
Directions.

TICKETS:
Advance Tickets:
$15 per Day ($20 at Door) purchase on-line in advance.





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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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23 October 2012

Are you a Genealogy Geek and Proud of it?

Source: http://www.nextlevelcomm.net/images/207_GeekEmoticonPNG.png

I think you will agree that the last decade has seen an incredible rise in the use of technology as we research our ancestors!

Whereas my husband, the computer engineer, could easily out-geek me for decades, often nowadays I will be mentioning something technological to him and that will be the first he’s heard of it.  For that, I often get sent the Yahoo geek emoticon!  Or am I more of a nerd? I’ve never been able to keep those two straight?!?!


I find it both exhilarating and sometimes exhausting though to try and keep up with all the newest bells and whistles of technology as it applies to not just “life” and genealogy and family history research. 

And, according to Scott Phillips, there is also another kind of genealogy geek.  Check out his post about some of these other “measures” of being a “geek” which do not have to do with technology at Huffington Post.  I may have "some" of the traits he's listed and I fall short of his example!

Are you a genealogy geek?  How would you define one?  Maybe we can create a universal emoticon?




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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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22 October 2012

Ancestry.com to be Bought by a Private Equity Firm for $1.6B



Genealogy website Ancestry.com has agreed to be acquired by a group led by European private equity firm Permira Funds in a cash deal valued at about $1.6 billion.
The offered price of $32 per share is a nearly 10 percent premium over Friday's closing price of $29.18. Its shares jumped 8 percent, or $2.37, to $31.55 in premarket trading Monday.
Ancestry.com operates a website for researching family history and has more than 2 million paying subscribers. It says more than 10 billion records have been added to its site over the past 15 years.


What do you think about this?  Does it help, hurt or have no impact on the genealogical research community?




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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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Insects destroy Idaho county's historic documents

Image as appeared with original article


I never like to read an article with the above headline!  That tells me that future generations will have fewer historic documents to use in their research!

We often worry about temperature and humidity, fire, water damage and much more and yet, there is the ever-present issue of insects and the damage they can wreak!

Think about your own house.  Think about leaving it uninhabited for a few weeks.  When you return, odds are that you will find that many types of insects and other critters have taken up residence.  I remember when my children were young watching a program which pretty much showed that cockroaches can practically survive anything – possibly even an apocalypse.  Given that, they are always something we, the larger genealogical community, need to be aware of and have respect for as we work to preserve either our personal historical papers or the archives of a larger community.

So, if there was ever “more” motivation needed for why digitizing documents is a critical priority for the repositories where they are held, this article might help!



Editor’s Note: As this was being written, another article was brought to my attention!  Thousands of Court FilesDamaged By Water, Mold. Fortunately, mold can typically be handled and the documents are not necessarily destroyed and unrecoverable!  The same is not true for bugs or other critters who have ingested paper or other formats!




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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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19 October 2012

The Library of Congress -- a NEW & FREE Magazine!



There’s something NEW & FREE for us to read!

The Library of Congress (LOC) has just started to produce a bi-monthly magazine.  Do check out the September/October 2012 issue of The Library of Congress Magazine (PDF format).  As described by LOC ...

The War of 1812, often called the Second American Revolution, resulted in the burning of the U.S. Capitol and most of its contents. The Library of Congress arose from those ashes to become the largest library in the history of the world. Our premiere issue discusses our history as well as the services we offer to Congress and to researchers today.

I found the magazine very colorful, easy-to-read and full of fun little tidbits of news both about the LOC and its holdings.  As with any vast resource, for the LOC there is so much going on that it becomes challenging to keep current with what’s new and to also appreciate its history and resources already made available to us – the public.

The LOC is invaluable – both its architecture and contents are amazing!  It also has an incredibly diverse online presence, http://www.loc.gov/index.html, which I cannot even begin to adequately describe and do justice to.

As stated in this initial volume ...

When Congress purchased Thomas Jefferson’s wide-ranging personal book collection to restart the congressional library, Jefferson observed, “There is no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.” More than two centuries later, the Library continues to draw from its vast collections to serve the research needs of Congress, while sharing its rich resources with the nation and the world.   

The LOC is truly a resource for all of us!  And, it’s nice that there is now a magazine to give a voice to this invaluable repository.  I am hoping that, like Prologue (produced by NARA), this will become a publication often referenced by us as we research our ancestors and seek context about their lives and the records created about them.

What did you think of the new The Library of Congress Magazine?






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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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