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Zotero for genealogy: getting your ducks in a row

Genealogy requires us to capture and organize mounds of information. We can do it the hard way, or we can use Zotero. This robust, free tool simplifies the capture, organization, and use of citations and research notes. You can cite sources with a single click. Attach images, documents, spreadsheets, and PDFs. Sync to free cloud storage and get your notes anywhere there’s Internet access! It got me through graduate school, and now it’s revolutionizing my genealogy. It’s a GEG’s best friend. In Part 1 of my Zotero series, I tell you why you should bother. Don’t miss out! Continue reading Zotero for genealogy: getting your ducks in a row

Getting help from genealogy software: rating the “Big Three”

Documentation -- Desktop Dilemma

Genealogy’s “Big Three” — Family Tree Maker®, Legacy Family Tree®, and RootsMagic™ — offer many  tools for our research. How well, though, does each guide you in figuring out how to use the product? Do they help you get started? Describe the screens and fields you see? Guide you to deeper uses of the software? Do they help  you? In this next installment of the Desktop Dilemma Series, we continue our analysis of the Big Three side by side, looking at genealogical software online help.

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Enter at the side door: the Ancestry Card Catalog

Ancestry.com card catalog at the side doorLike many, my early days using Ancestry.com were all about chasing fluttering green leaves. I found sources because my ancestor’s name matched the index of a record collection. I wish I’d known much earlier the wealth of information available in the Ancestry Card Catalog, entered through the side door. It holds sources that are indexed — but not indexed. Bear with me, and I’ll explain. (Newest entry in the Wish I’d Known Series.)

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Ancestry Academy announces short courses — GEG recommended

AAncestry Academy Short Coursesncestry Academy has introduced a welcome addition to its already stellar course offerings.  Academy members can now enjoy short courses, less than five minutes, presented by some of the world’s most qualified genealogy instructors. This wonderful resource has earned its place in our Wish I’d Known Series. Continue reading Ancestry Academy announces short courses — GEG recommended

What’s OCR? Turning a picture of text into text

What is OCR?You’re embarrassed to question it. People throw out the term “OCR” as though it’s common knowledge. You don’t want anyone to know you missed the memo. Well, a lot of people missed the memo. Genealogy draws heavily on this technology, so let’s take up the question: “What’s OCR?”

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Photo context: treasures in the details

Genealogical riches in photo contextIn a photo of my great-grandparents, I happened to notice on the dresser behind them what looked like a tobacco container. Was I seeing a throwback to childhood pranks? Prince Albert in a can? I scanned the photo at high resolution and zoomed in. It was Prince Albert. I began to wonder what else I might see in the photo context. In one detail after another, my ancestors’ world came into focus. 

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Narrowing birth dates — a free tool does the math for you

Narrowing dates summary imageA census record offers you a moment in time when your ancestor was, say, five years old. That gives you a potential birth date range of 365 days, plus a possible Leap Day. If you use multiple records, however, you can use the overlaps to whittle down that range, getting closer to the real date. Doing this math in your head, unfortunately, presents a headaches. But I have a solution for you: the Date Narrowing Calculator [revised as of 1/6/2017]. A gift for my fellow GEGs.

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Genetic genealogy: why more DNA is better

Genetic genealogy-- More is BetterGenetically speaking, my sisters and I are all half Mom and half Dad, right? DNA 101. So, only one of us needs to do a DNA test, and then we’ll all know our ethnic origins, correct? . . . OK, I confess I never took DNA 101. But thanks to AncestryDNA, I have learned the answer is no (at least when it comes to autosomal DNA). The more family members you test, the fuller the picture of your genetic genealogy will become.

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Let’s make history in this FamilySearch Indexing campaign

FamilySearch Indexing Worldwide Event 2016FamilySearch Indexing has thrown down the gauntlet, and the challenge is on. We need 72,000 bright people to  join an indexing brigade processing worldwide records between July 15 and 17. Let’s see what 72 hours can produce!

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Transcribing historical manuscripts in PDF software

PDF as Transcription ToolMake transcribing historical manuscripts easier and more valuable using a desktop tool you already have. PDF software can let you zoom in on the manuscript, while transcribing the text as comments. You have not only transcribed; you have made the document searchable without separating it from the scanned image.

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