29 September 2008

Genealogy Bank's Updates of the SSDI

For those concerned about having the latest information, try Genealogy Bank. Their version of the SSDI (as of today) contained a reference for my grandmother who died in Bradenton, Manatee County, Florida on 9 September of 2008. It might have been in their earlier, but I haven't been checking it on a regular basis for updates. But that's still pretty fast.

Here a Johann, There a Johann, Everywhere a Johann

Juliana Smith over at Ancestry.com's blog has posted my article "Here a Johann, There a Johann, Everywhere a Johann." It about too many people in a small town with the same first and last name and some thoughts on separating out individuals with similar names.

Feel free to read and post a comment.

Home From Detroit

For those who were at the Ancestry.com session on Saturday at the Detroit Public Library, here is the list of "quick links" I use myself at Ancestry.com. Note that these links work on your home account for Ancestry.com, but are not for the Library Edition.

The online handout for the Ancestry.com session is online as well.

I only wish I had more time to actually use the Burton Collection while I was there. My wife's ancestor was Jacques Cardinal, a voyageur who came to Detroit in October of 1707. Maybe next time.

25 September 2008

Headed to Detroit

I'll be in Detroit, Michigan this weekend making two presentations at the Family History Festival held at the Detroit Public Library.

I will be presenting programs on "How to Use Ancestry.com" and "Problem Solving as Applied to Genealogy".

Blog readers are welcome to come up and introduce themselves---just not while I'm making a presentation!

Soundex to eventually return too

I forgot to mention in my previous post that Soundex capabilities will also eventually be coming to the new search interface at Ancestry.com. Yeah (again).

Map of Databases at Ancestry.com

One of the things I miss in the new search experience at Ancestry.com is the map that allowed one to browse the databases geographically. Sources tell me this will return. No time frame, but it is in the works. Yeah.

Soundex on New Search at Ancestry.com?

Is it just me? Or have they taken away the Soundex search at Ancestry.com?
I cannot see it on the newly released Washington Deaths 1891-1907.

Exact matches on what is not there

Mark me down as confused, at least partially. And mark me fully down as irritated.
I searched on Ancestry.com in their new search for John Ufkes. I used a year of birth as 1838, plus or minus two years. The screen shot is as shown.

I did have the death year of 1924 listed as exact. Apparently that is why no census results were returned for John. When I searched for John Ufkes with only a year of birth as 1838, plus or minus two years, I obtained several results (mostly from census records)--as shown below.

I understand that my original search required the death year of 1924 to match. However, census records (sans mortality schedules) typically do not have a year of death with which to match. It seems to me that census results that match the year of birth should be included, regardless of whether an "exact" match on the death date is indicated.

It must be necessary to leave the death date blank to bring up census records. Urgh...now I have to search several different ways for one person. I thought new searches were supposed to be improved. (sometimes I think they should take a lesson from the "new Coke").

It seems logical to me that a search of records that do not include any death dates should not require the death date to match, even if I indicate a matched date in my searches. But then it has been nearly two decades since I had "sets and logic." Maybe the rules for logical have changed.

I still like the old search better.

23 September 2008

Using the My Tree "hints" at Ancestry.com

My article on using the My Tree "hints" at Ancestry.com went live on the blog the other day. The person I used was a German immigrant to Davenport, Iowa in the 1850s and later. I would be interested in comments from others who have used the hints.

In the article, I did import some of the hints into a database I created on Conrad Krebs and his family. I did not use my "good" database for this, but created a new one so I could see how things worked. Comments on using the hints can be posted to this blog entry.

The "new" search at Ancestry.com

It is not just me. I hear this "in the field" on a regular basis. People are not happy with the new Ancestry.com search. Several attendees at the Montana State Genealogical Society conference in Butte, Montana, this past weekend expressed their frustration over the new search at Ancestry.com.

Frankly, it is a little frustrating to me too. Finding things is not intuitive.

I had a few extra minutes at the end of one of my lectures and decided to show the German topographical maps from the 1860s-1900s on the Ancestry.com site. I had used them and had blogged briefly about them. But could I find them quickly on the site. NO. I ended up searching my own website to find my blog entry about them and used that link to search the database.

This was a quick workaround and got me where I needed to go. But not everyone can go to their own blog and find something they have blogged about before. If I have difficulty finding things I have used before, I imagine others have problems as well.

I still find myself using my very crude list of Ancestry.com links to navigate certain databases. It looks pretty shabby, but it gets me to where I need to go and I don't have to waste time looking for things or trying to learn they way someone else thinks.

We Are Back

After a hiatus, we are back. It has been a crazy few weeks. My last living grandparent passed away rather suddenly in Florida and the following weekend I had a seminar in Butte, Montana. The folks in Butte were really great and I enjoyed my time there.

Just two reminders from the presentation:
  • Consider writing an ancestor's biography (with sources) and submit it for publication in a local genealogical society quarterly or newsletter. This is a great way to preserve at least part of the information you have accumulated.
  • Identify people on photographs NOW. Also identify any family items while those who remember are still alive.

We'll be posting more as time goes.

11 September 2008

Been Away for a While

I have had some personal issues come up over the past week that have required me to be away from the computer and have also distracted me somewhat. I am working up on catching up on all my email and other genealogy work--but it will take a little time.