Goodbye, FHL Microfilm Rental!


If you haven’t seen the latest news about renting microfilm for use at local Family History Libraries, then you need to check out this link NOW.

I don’t rent as much as I used to because the records for the areas where I do the most research are online at FamilySearch or it just never will be and I’ve had to rely on methods other than microfilm. My last film request was in March and I’ve been going through my pending projects to see if there’s any films I’ll need soon. Of course, I can’t predict the need of the next Client. Genealogy Murphy’s Law will result in a new Client meeting on September 1st for a microfilm need that I wouldn’t be able to obtain.

My advice if you’re planning to rent is don’t delay – you’ve only got 2 months left and most likely will be a flurry of activity on the shipping side. After you get the email from Salt Lake that your films have shipped, make a note to call your local library a few days later to verify the films have been received.

A colleague has concerns that not everything will be available online due to legal agreements previously made with the record holders. That means, waiting patiently until 2020 will still not allow you to view the films online. In those cases, you’ll have to either travel to Salt Lake or hire someone local to do a look up for you because those films will not be shipped locally any longer. If your research is extensive and you’re on a budget, it would probably be best for you to do the research in person. My favorite time to go is late winter into early spring as it’s not so busy. I’m thinking I may skip the NGS Conference next year and travel to Salt Lake instead.

If you can’t make a trip and need to hire someone, I’d highly recommend asking your local genealogical society for referrals. If they haven’t used anyone, then check out the Association of Professional Genealogist’s site. APG members sign an ethics agreement and in the unlikely event your have a problem, you can reach out to APG for assistance.

I have such mixed emotions about the end of microfilm. I’m not sure what my attachment is; I sure didn’t shed a tear when the world moved from Beta, 8 tracks, my Garmond GPS, or hardwired phones. Maybe it’s because I have so many memories of so many places and so many finds that make me a tad sad about the demise. Perhaps it’s becoming one with the record in a dimly lit room and the comforting whirring sound of the machine as I rewind it speedily. I’ll miss sharing in a happy dance when the stranger sitting next to me makes a phenomenal find.

Of course, there’s so many reasons why this move is a good thing. It’s just, well, like the old song says, “Breaking up is hard to do…” RIP Microfilm Distribution. 1859* – 31 Aug 2017.

*Based on the first patent issued to Rene Dagron

Ancestry.com and RootsMagic Synch Now Available!


RootsMagic has just announced that their new version 7.5 has been released. I’m so excited to again be able to synch my large tree from Ancestry to my desktop. I know it works because I’ve been one of the Beta Testers and I tried synching my 70k+ tree, along with smaller trees I’ve done over the years, in the past two months. Kudos to the RootsMagic staff – awesome job!

Beta testers were sworn to secrecy as the hardworking IT staff at RootsMagic toiled away to remove bugs we found. I’ve been very satisfied with the company’s response to comments and their diligence in getting it right before releasing it to the general public. Not like the other company that shall not be named.

It does take a good 12 hours to synch my largest tree so be forewarned it’s not going to be instantaneous. When I say synch, I mean truly synch – as in all of my people, over 21,000 photos, 2000 stories and 248,000 records will be accessible to me on my desktop. When I change anything online at Ancestry or on my desktop, the trees will match.

What’s really cool is that RootsMagic also provides hints with FamilySearch, MyHeritage and FindMyPast. It is simple to use, too. If you already are a part of RootsMagic, simply update to the newest version by clicking the link they provide at Help – Check for Updates. Then, click the Ancestry.com icon on the ribbon (it’s between Family Search logo and the open book on the right). Sign into Ancestry with your sign on and password. I clicked “remember” so that I don’t have to redo it each time I log on to RootsMagic. You’ll have two options – upload your RootsMagic tree to Ancestry of download an Ancestry tree to RootsMagic. Although I have a gedcom of my Ancestry tree saved on RootsMagic, it did not have all the goodies I wanted – meaning the media (photo, stories, audio) so I selected the option on the right – Download an Ancestry tree. I began that process as I started writing this blog and it’s already 21% complete. Keep in mind, this is a HUGE tree so that’s to be expected.

I’m walking away from my tree now and knowing it’ll be all synched and ready to go tomorrow morning. Oh, joy!

Genealogy Evolution


One of my local libraries was spring cleaning and decided to give away back issues of old magazines. I picked up a few of Ancestry from the late 1990’s and last weekend, decided to sit outside to enjoy our beautiful weather and page through the September/October 1999, Vol. 17, No. 5 issue. Holy Smokes did it jar me!
The main feature was a story entitled “Victorian Rites of Passage” which focused on changing burial practices. Interesting but nothing new. In fact, I remember reading the article back in the day. I was about to just move on to the next magazine when I decided to thumb through the rest of the issue. Glad I did as I paused at “FamilySearch Online: The New LDS Web Site.” I had to stop and think for a moment. Has it really been 18 years since FamilySearch has been active online?! That was my go to place then and continues to be so today.
Genealogy has moved by leaps and bounds since home computers became a norm and we have continued to adapt to the changes. Prior to 1983 when my husband purchased our first home computer, a TI/99 with a genealogy program on a cartridge, all my work was handwritten group sheets and pedigree charts. I diligently typed the information into the computer program while I was pregnant with my first child. We had no printer so I don’t have a printout of those records but it did help me neatly organize names and dates.
By the time our second child was born a few years later, we had moved on to a Compaq system with a printer. Genealogy software in the late 1980’s and 90’s was primarily CD-ROMs which were pricy and always on my birthday/Christmas list.
As educators, my husband and I had FIRN accounts, a text only email and list serv, that we had used beginning in 1994. That was strictly for the education world and no genealogy information was available. Thanks to the free software at Kmart while back to school shopping, my family went America Online (AOL) in August 1995. I remember the date because our oldest had started middle school and wanted to know if we could also get a fax machine so she could fax group assignments to peers. We bought a HP printer-fax-scanner that lasted for years. That was the machine I used to scan all my family photos and documents.
There was little genealogy information available online during those days and I used the internet mostly for the AOL interest groups or emailing distant relatives mining for information. Most of that was done late at night as we had dial-up and if we were online, the home phone was out of service. We got our first mobile phone about that time but it was hardwired into our car and looked like a home phone of the day – cord and all!
I’m not sure when I first downloaded the LDS’ free Personal Ancestral File (PAF) but I remember grumbling about having to re-enter all the data that was stored in the old cartridge program. The Ancestry article mentions the release of PAF 4.0. I used PAF, World Family Tree and Ancestry Family Tree at the time. These were pre-Gedcom days. These were pre-smart phone days. These were limited search engine days. These were pre-gotomeeting days. These were pre-facebook-twitter-linkedin, etc. days.
Wow, isn’t it amazing how far the genealogy world has progressed in less than 20 years? Think about how far we’ve yet to grow. How exciting!

Dropbox Shoutout!

I’ve blogged before about the importance of saving your work in numerous places and trying to practice what I preach, but I goofed big time!

There are several cloud based companies that you can use as another place to store your genealogical research, or anything else, for that matter. I’ve used the free versions of Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive and Dropbox. Earlier this month I received an email notice from Dropbox that my “free” account was going to come with a price tag at the end of the month. Why? When I purchased a new desktop system last March, it came with additional Dropbox storage space for one year. The year was up so I had to pay if I wanted to continue service. Dropbox offered a special price of $79.00 for 1 terabyte of storage with the understanding that the following year, the price would be $99.00.

The email notice came the week we were having the tile removed from our home so I saved it with the intention that I would look at it later when I had time. Here’s where the situation gets messy – I actually have 2 Dropbox accounts; one is for my primary job as an educator with a large public school district and the other is for my genealogy and personal information. I try very hard to keep my educator business only at the workplace and my genealogy only outside of that worksite but good intentions aren’t enough. Sometime between the initial email from Dropbox and the time I decided to act on the special offer, I logged into Dropbox from my home computer with my educator account. In hindsight, I remember doing this as I needed to print an itinerary for a field trip the night before so that a last minute added chaperone would have the information. In my haste, I didn’t log out of that account. My bad!

So, when I decided it was time to purchase a year subscription with the special offer pricing, I didn’t catch that I was purchasing a year’s rate for the wrong email account. Unfortunately, as soon as the confirmation came through and I clicked to open my account, I realized the mistake.

I searched high and low on the Dropbox site for how to switch the accounts but it wouldn’t allow me to as the popup stated there already was an account for the email address I was trying to switch to. Yep, that would be me! Couldn’t find instructions online on what to do or who to contact to fix the problem so I cancelled the transaction, or so I thought, logged out of the academic account, logged on to my personal account, went back to the email offer and followed the link again with the intention of repurchasing a year’s subscription for the correct account. Well, that didn’t work either as a popup told me the offer was “expired.”

I then looked again for a way to contact Dropbox and discovered they have NO LISTED PHONE NUMBER anywhere on their site. When you click “Contact,” your options are departments and none was billing. I selected “Customer Support” which turned out to be technical and not financial. I online chatted with an associate who told me he would transfer the chat to the correct department. I was transferred but I only got a form filler, no chat option available. I filled out the form and figured I’d hear in a few days.

A week went by and I never received a response so I decided to again try the link from the original email. Hey, maybe they reactivated the offer! They hadn’t. I panicked and removed everything from my personal Dropbox account to my home desktop. I resigned myself to checking out other cloud storage companies.

Here’s where the situation gets even more complicated! The following week I noticed I had a message on the Dropbox ap on my phone. It was giving me a special offer. I know that the phone ap is for my personal account so I was thrilled that I could continue service. I processed the transaction through the phone, went home and moved all the files back into Dropbox and thought life was good.

Imagine my surprise when I got my credit card statement and realized that Dropbox had charged me twice with no credit for the first mistaken transaction and that the accounts were still confused. I tried to put the transactions in dispute online but the situation didn’t meet the drop down menu options. My bank’s customer service person patiently listened to my sob story; she didn’t have a phone number for the organization either which I guess confirmed part of my tale. Two disputes were placed and I am happy to report that in just a few hours, Dropbox issued me a credit for the educator account transaction AND credited the transaction for the personal account to reflect the special offer. I am very happy with the resolution.

Lesson Learned – next year, I will definitely make sure I’m logged into the correct account before I pay!

Saving Your Gedcom

Spring is just around the corner and at the top of your “to do” list, make sure you backup a copy of your gedcom. Yesterday, while hubby and I were painting away as the home renovations continue, I got a call from a former Client I had done some consulting work regarding his Irish ancestry. He called to thank me for making this year’s St. Patrick’s Day even more memorable as I had pointed him in directions that saved him time and money.

I had also recommended that he always save his Ancestry.com tree in another location and we had discussed several options. Why do I recommend that? I’m definitely not trying to start a malicious rumor here as I believe there is no problem at all with Ancestry.com but in this crazy world, you just never know. I’m a planner (and a little paranoid) so I think about the what ifs in life – what if I can’t pay for the service any longer, what if they get hacked and I can’t access my lifelong work, what if they get sold and the service becomes deplorable? (On a side note, my hubby thinks this is a little irrational and he’s probably right. I say some people fear immigrants and I fear losing mine!) So my concern led me to find alternatives for my trees.

My Client decided to download the free standard edition of Legacy Family Tree but he had difficulty following my Ancestry.com download instructions. I talked him through it remotely and understand why he had a problem which you, dear reader, may also encounter.

If you’re new to this process it’s quite simple, just follow these steps:
Log on to Ancestry.com
Click “Trees” on the Ribbon and scroll and click on “Create & Manage Trees”
Click “Manage Tree”
Under “Manage Tree” in the green box on the left, click “Download your gedcom file”

Be patient, it may take some time, depending on the size of your tree.
Once downloaded, if you open the file it will be gibberish so you must install a program that can read a gedcom. You have several options; I’ve listed those that I’ve used that allow you to save the program to your own computer and/or place in your own Cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) so you have complete control over the data:
Legacy Family Tree – free with the standard edition; small cost for a program that does more.
Rootsmagic – small cost and by mid-April it will sink with Ancestry.com
Family Tree Maker – small cost, used to synch with Ancestry.com but I experienced problems; supposedly works now.

Or, you can join another organization like Ancestry.com and save your tree there. I’ve used My Heritage as an alternative.

There are lots more options that I’m not familiar with – for a review of the opinion based Top 10 click here.

I haven’t done this but am exploring these as other options some day:
Familysearch – free, however, you are donating your tree to their genealogical community and although it is a backup, you don’t control it any longer. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and follow the directions under “Contribute Your Research”
Wiki Tree – free, however, when I tried to upload several years ago my tree was too large for them. Haven’t checked back to see if their system will take it.

Whatever you choose is your personal decision but you have to select one so you can access your data.

Here’s where my Client got stuck – on Ancestry.com, step 4 above, he clicked “Download Tips” and got information on deleting his tree so he panicked and stopped. That was wise as you DON’T WANT TO DELETE THE TREE!!!! Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

When I click on download instructions I get the following:

“If the “File Download” window does not appear and Windows automatically downloads a text file:
Right click on the “Download your GEDCOM file” button.
Select “Save Target As…”
A “Save As” dialog box will display. Select a location for the file that you will be able to find later, such as “Desktop.” Then give the file a name and click on Save.”

He didn’t need to follow the 3 steps above. Once he clicked “Download your gedcom file” he was able to successfully save it to his hard drive. He selected to install the free Legacy Family Tree program and I listened as he followed the Legacy prompts and uploaded the gedcom. He was quite happy when it was finished.

You’ll be really happy, too, when you know you’re hard work is safe and accessible. Personally, I think sitting on my derriere to download and upload a gedcom is the easiest spring cleanup to do!

Listening While You Research


My hubby found a really interesting link a few weeks ago and I just had to share it. Did you know that you can listen to a radio station from your computer? Simply visit Radio Garden and you’ll be live streaming radio stations anywhere in the world.
If you’re thinking this has nothing to do with genealogy, think again.
I tried it while doing some research and I got a better sense of the community. I clicked on the locale from the map (any of the green dots) and was soon hearing WVLP-Valparaiso, Indiana. Sure the area has changed since the time the person I was researching lived there but Valpo remains an agriculture center which it was in the 1920’s. Sometimes, the more things change the more they remain the same!
Next time you need a little background noise give it a try.

We’re Related – What to Do if Your Tree is Too Large for the New Ancestry.com Ap

Recently I wrote about my inability to get “We’re Related” – the new Ancestry.com ap working. Every time I tried to switch my Main Tree to yes I’d get an error message.  I surmised that it was because my tree was too large and I’m still going with that theory.  I figured out a work around and if you’re interested, here’s what to do:

  1. I created a new database in RootsMagic7 (Click File – New) and made the file name:  Lori’s Lines.  You name yours whatever you want!  I disabled WebHints and clicked “I know where the file is.”
  2. Next I dragged myself from my Main Tree gedcom that was already uploaded in RootsMagic to the click person location. A pop up asks what you want to drag and drop and I selected “Ancestors of myself.”
  3. On this new database, I then went to File – Export and unchecked LDS information, addresses, multimedia, note formatting and extra details because I wanted to make the new gedcom as concise as possible.  I clicked “Privatize living people” and then clicked ok.  I saved the gedcom on my desktop.
  4. Clicking on the ribbon “TREES” on Ancestry.com, I used the drop down menu to click “Create & Manage New Trees.”  At the bottom, I clicked “Upload a Gedcom file.”  I chose the file sitting on my desktop and named the tree the same as the Gedcom.  I also made the tree private.  Why?  Because I only want people to use my Main Tree on Ancestry and not this subset tree.  Back in the day, I had several lines separated and when people would email me, I never knew which tree they were referring to.  I will never be doing anything with this newly uploaded tree other than using it for the ap so I also went to settings and made sure I turned off the hints.  I DO NOT want more email telling me they found something!  (Personally, I’m really tired of seeing the “Direct Bloodline” and pics of red crosses.  To me, those aren’t hints and I wish there was a way to filter that stuff out.) Then I clicked the little box that I accept the submission.
  5. You’re almost done!  Now, open the We’re Related ap on your phone.  (If you haven’t downloaded it go to Google Play Store on Android or whatever you do on IPhone and install it).  I then selected the newly uploaded tree – “Lori’s Lines” and slid the no to yes.  I selected myself as the person in my tree.  It stays on and works!

I decided to do the same for my husband’s lines and followed the same process above.  I did have to select myself as him on We’re Related because I wasn’t an available choice.  Remember, I had pruned these new Gedcoms to bare basics -on my tree only my direct ancestors so our marriage, siblings and children weren’t imported.  Can’t wait to get in a crowd and try it out!

Family Tree Maker’s Fall Newsletter Makes Me Feel Vindicated!

Well, well,  I’m feeling pretty righteous!  I recently received the Fall Newsletter (which, BTW, is the ONLY newsletter that Family Tree Maker has emailed to me this year so it correctly should be labeled as the “First Fall Newsletter” since Software MacKiev bought the rights for the Microsoft version which is what I formerly used.)

The newsletter was designed to notify the public that they are running behind and don’t have the synch ready as they had earlier stated would occur before the end of 2016.  Okay, glitches happen and I am pleased that the organization is taking ownership that they will not be able to meet their self imposed deadline.

IMHO, this is a major step forward.  I’ve been blogging for quite a while about my frustration with FTM not syching with my large Ancestry.com tree.  Every time I called customer service they would blame Ancestry.  I’d call Ancestry and they’d tell me to call FTM.  I’d wait a day or two and try again as I was hoping whoever was on duty would have the knowledge to assist me.  I posted for help, too but no one seemed to know what the problem was.  The only “help” I ever received was twice when I was emailed a useless pdf that supposedly would get the synch back but that never worked, either. The final time I called, the rep tried to tell me I couldn’t follow instructions.   So much for service! That was the day I switched to Legacy Family Tree’s standard edition.

But back to the newsletter… I quote, “…So, should you get the latest build right now then? Well, it depends. The improvements are mostly in stability and performance. So if FTM is crashing or has slowed to a crawl with large trees, then have at it. ” Finally, they admit that the product doesn’t work well with large trees!  Now it’s official who owned the problem and I don’t blame Ancestry.com one bit for cutting the prior company owners’ off last December.  What a nightmare it must have been for Ancestry staff to have to take all those calls from unhappy FTM users!  I also give kudos to Ancestry’s staff for handling the calls I made to them in a professional manner.

I tried to link to the newsletter but I don’t see it posted on their website so I’m providing the link to sign up to their Mailing List instead.

I would like to see FTM offer a goodwill gesture by providing the new version for free to anyone with a large tree to make up for the wasted time and lack of support.  FTM could determine the size of the tree for the offer.  For now, that’s the only way I’d be back.

Ancestry’s New Connection Ap

I downloaded Ancestry.com’s new ap “We’re Related” on October 25th.  The first day I couldn’t get it to stop loading the “Who are you?” page.  I tried several times in the following week and always time out getting the “Error communicating with server, please try later.  Error getting trees.  We seem to be having trouble pulling up the roots.”  Cute but annoying.
I’m not sure if it’s because my tree is so large or if there is some other issue on their end.  I travel a great deal and thought it would be neat to find others who might be related to me.  Definitely don’t use this if you don’t want your gps coordinates known!

Helpful Old Technology

I recently received a cassette tape of an interview done by a distant family member with one of my husband’s aunts in 2001.  Both of those ladies have passed away and the tape became the possession of the interviewer’s daughter.  She doesn’t have a tape recorder any longer and has a transcription so she was not interested in keeping the tape.

My husband’s Aunt Ruby was a sweetheart and with his Aunt Marge, always made me feel as I was part of their family.  We had made a quick visit with her about 8 months after the tape was made but it wasn’t a happy time as I was in the area to bury my mother’s cremains so it never occurred to me to tape what became our last visit with Aunt Ruby.

When the tape was offered to me I was happy to get it – I’d love to hear her voice again.  Problem was, who has a tape recorder anymore?

Evidently, I do.  When the tape arrived hubby emailed several friends and colleagues to see if anyone had one we could borrow.  No one did.  Then it hit me!  Several years ago, pre bluetooth, we used to use a boom box in the backyard on our deck.  Had to think hard what we did with it and then remembered it was outside in a pool storage bench.  Thank goodness it still worked!

Hubby transferred the tape to MP3 using the instructions from this site – How to Transfer Old Cassette Tapes to MP3 Files

The quality is not great – it was made in a nursing home greeting area and a restaurant so there is a lot of background noise.  I’m still glad we have it and updated it to the latest technology.

If you have tapes and would like to update it is not difficult to do.  I recommend putting that on your winter to do list and with the holidays around the corner, you might want to ask to borrow from family and friends if you don’t have a tape player.

It’s going to be a constant upgrade from one technology to another but I think the time expended is well worth it.  Your descendants will think it’s awesome when they will see a picture of their 5th great grandparents and hear their voices!