Tag Archives: blog

Upgrading my family tree computer software

Image ©2014 ClipartPanda.com

Firstly, I apologise for my lack of posting onto aFamilyHistoryBlog in recent months! Apart from my travels in Scotland, in May (from which I have a lot of information, that I have yet to fully process!), I have continued looking into various parts of my family tree, where in a number of places I have found new information online.

A number of times I have found new things that I thought I should write posts about for aFamilyHistoryBlog, with links to the sites where I’ve found that information. And my Family Tree pages need some updating with new details. But I tend to go on exploring, and don’t get round to writing up about what I’ve found!!!

In recent months I have also been looking into upgrading the genealogy software that I have on my computer. I have a very old version of Family Tree Maker (2005 version), which in some aspects isn’t working properly on my newer computer! Namely; it won’t save reports to PDF, which is annoying!

Download IconIn looking for a solution (in the form of a new program), I’ve been browsing reviews and have downloaded several free trial versions of software to try out, including RootsMagic, and Heredis. I have also been trying out the use of free apps like OneNote and GoogleSheets (as I’ve previously posted about; here and here).

Its said that first impressions are everything, and while these family tree programmes can look good in the promotional shots and YouTube clips, the impressions that I’ve had of the trial softwares, when first opening them on my own computer, have not been very good! I’ve not been drawn into using them!

http://www.family-historian.co.uk/This changed last week when I decided to try Family Historian 6, the full version of which can be downloaded and used for free, for a 30 day trial period, before you have to buy a licence key for £35.99 to continue using it. When I first opened the Family Historian program on my computer, I liked the interface and was drawn into using it in a way which I haven’t been with the other programs that I’ve looked at.

Although I have been able to transfer my main family tree database over from ‘Family Tree Maker 2005’, into ‘Family Historian 6’ (via GEDCOM), I’ve decided that I should start a fresh family tree project, entering the details I know from scratch! This is so that I can get to learn the new program better, and to resolve a muddle that I have in the sources/citations in my existing database. By beginning from scratch, I can ensure that everything is properly sourced and cited, making it more presentable and shareable with others. It may also highlight for me, new areas of my tree that particularly need further attention and research.

To give this some scale for you, my old database contains nearly 4,500 individuals, and 1,300 families, which I’ve collected over 10-15 years. And I have a lot more on paper (or that I’ve found on-line) that haven’t even been added to that old database. But I may not be adding ALL of these names! Some come from imported GEDCOMs, created by other people, which include very, very distant relations.

My plan in the new tree project is to include my direct ancestors, working back one generation at a time (as far as I know), equally in all ancestral lines lines, adding my [X]x-Great-grandparents, and their additional descendants (who aren’t already included), up to 3 or 4 generations if possible (i.e. to 2nd or 3rd cousins in subsequent generations). This might stretch to 5 or 6 generations of descent in some cases, but I probably won’t go further that that!

I began by entering myself, my parents, siblings, and nephews/niece; then grandparents, uncles/aunts, cousins, and their children. When I got on to my Great-grandparents and their descendants, I began to see where I have some gaps; basic details about some of my parents’ cousins, my 2nd cousins, and their families, which I don’t have up-to-date! So I’ll be contacting some relatives, asking for help to fill in those gaps.

It took me about 6 hours (not all at once) to enter all the basic details that I know about my Great-Grandparents and their descendants. That’s 156 individuals, in 50 families, that I have details for. At that rate it’ll take me about 200 hours to copy over everything I’ve got in the old database!!! After those 6 hours, over the last week I’ve been adding in some additional details about people; biographies, photos, documents, and other media sources; none of which were attached to my old database. This will result in being able to output much richer reports about my family history to share with relatives.

I’m pleased with Family Historian 6, so far. So I’m planning to continue using it, and to buy a licence key before my 30 day trial period expires. Then I’ll try to come back onto aFamilyHistoryBlog with a further review of the software in the coming months.

Advertisements

Using Note Apps for Genealogy

Last week I was looking at some of the “New Genealogy Blogs” highlighted by the GeneaBloggers blog.

The first post on one of the new blogs; Krista’s “The Great Ancestor Dig”, was all about how she uses the Evernote App for her genealogy research. She also linked to Colleen Greene’s website which has a series of posts about using Cover artEvernote for Genealogy. I was interested in this idea. I’ve used Evernote a little over the last couple of years, but hadn’t thought of using it particularly for genealogy before!

I have been thinking a little, recently, about upgrading my genealogy software. I currently have a very old version of Family Tree Maker. Partly with a trip to Scotland in the summer in my mind, I want something which will work on both Windows PC, and Android tablet/phone, and be accessible off-line, but which won’t automatically publish everything publicly on-line! I’ve looked at a few programs, and downloaded a couple of free trial versions. But nothing has yet struck me as being quite right!

So as a result of Krista’s blog post, I began to have a look at how I might use Evernote (or other similar note-taking apps) for this purpose. There is a wealth of material, articles, etc, out there about how people use apps like this for their genealogy. I soon found that Evernote wasn’t quite right for me, due to the use of its free account being limited to 2 devices! I might want to use it on 3 devices! But looking at the alternatives, I soon found that Evernote’s main competitor, Microsoft’s OneNote might Cover artwork for me. I would normally prefer the independent, open-source option! But the limits placed on using a free Evernote account drove me towards OneNote!

There is just as much online about people using OneNote for genealogy as there is about using Evernote. One great list of various articles is www.CyndisList.com/organizing/onenote/. I went through a number of the articles there, and decided to give OneNote a try. So I’ve just started putting some of my genealogy notes into OneNote notes.

I hunted online for any templates that I could use, to help me get started. And while I picked up a number of useful ideas (from advocates of both Apps), I didn’t find any template that I thought was quite right for me! I joined the “OneNote for Genealogy” Facebook group, hoping to find lots more ideas and advice about how to use the App. But I was disappointed by the relative lack of activity in that group!

So that means that for now, I’m starting with OneNote from scratch and trying to work out my own way of using it, incorporating some of the useful ideas that I’ve read about. How I use it will no doubt evolve and change over time, and at some point, when its more developed, I’ll try to write something more about how I use OneNote, and how I organise my genealogy notes with it.

AFamilyHistoryBlog Review of 2016 and Plans for 2017

First, I would like to say a big

HAPPY  CHRISTMAS

to all the readers of AFamilyHistoryBlogchristmas-star-clipart-ds687z-clipart

Review of 2016;

Having worked on developing it privately for the previous 2 years, I went “Public” with AFamilyHistoryBlog at the beginning of 2016, and did quite a lot to make it known; getting it listed on other websites, like GeneaBloggers and relevant local family history websites. For a recap of what I wrote in January 2016, see HERE.

IMG_7613-crop2I also started working to post details of some old papers of my WALKER family, from Kirkliston, West Lothian. I posted 13 pieces about the WALKERs in Jan, Feb, and March 2016; that’s about one a week.

But after March, I posted very little through the summer months! In the autumn I started looking again at various bits of family history (none of which I’ve yet written about here!). I returned to posting some more WALKER documents/photos in December, facebook-logo-1and was inspired to start a Facebook page where I can share things that I find of a more general family history interest. Then I found some very interesting details about the JOHNSTON family which I have recently posted about.

At the time of writing this post, during 2016, AFamilyHistoryBlog has received 1,195 visits and 2,633 page views, including; from the UK – 1,093 views, from USA – 670, Australia – 303, Canada – 193, Denmark – 135, and New Zealand – 105, along with smaller numbers from 27 other states.

Plans for 2017;

In January 2016 I wrote about wanting to try and post to AFamilyHistoryBlog on a more frequent basis! But clearly the year has followed the same kind of pattern as previous years – working  on the blog over Christmas and into the new year,  then a long period of relatively little activity through the summer and autumn.  (See what I wrote in January 2016 – HERE). I fully expect the same pattern to continue through 2017 and beyond.

IMG_9478-croppedI want to post details of many more documents that I have about the WALKER and JOHNSTON families. Among these, there are invites from the Earl of Hopetoun, to Dinners at Hopetoun House, West Lothian, and related documents. I also want to post a piece about a Great-Uncle, James Hope WALKER R.F.C., who died in a flying accident almost 100 years ago, during WW1. I have photos of James, and of the crashed biplane to post. And there are still many other branches of my family that I want to cover on AFamilyHistoryBlog.

In the summer 2017 we have another bigIMG_1863_Hutchison-family_May-2015 HUTCHISON family gathering booked. We’re heading to a location which is new to most of the family, in South Ayrshire, Scotland. My idea is to stay another week in Scotland, around the gathering, and do some research while I’m up there. I think that I will visit Edinburgh and West Lothian. I may also visit Glasgow. And following what I’ve recently found about the JOHNSTON family, Falkirk is now on my list of places to visit. So I hope to be blogging about this trip when it comes.

Once again, have a very

Happy Christmas

and thanks for reading

Matt

All known surnames in Matt's ancestry up to his 6x Gt-Grandparents
All known surnames in Matt’s ancestry up to his 6x Gt-Grandparents

AFamilyHistoryBlog – new Facebook page

Today I was reflecting on a number of interesting pieces that I’ve either seen, heard, or read, about family history/genealogy in the last couple of weeks. I’ve thought about posting links to some of these onto “AFamilyHistoryBlog” – the website which I’ve been developing for nearly 3 years now. But I haven’t particularly wanted to do so because I want to keep the blog focused primarily on my research into my own family history.

facebook-logo-2Then the idea came to me that I could create a Facebook page where I can easily share links to interesting general articles like these, as well as to “AFamilyHistoryBlog” articles about my own research.

So after a bit of evening tinkering, here is that Facebook page.

This is intended, in part, to be a kind of scrapbook/diary for myself – to collect together such articles that I find of interest.

facebook-logo-1But I would also like to encourage family, and anyone else who’s interested in my family history research, to “Follow” BOTH the WordPress blog (click the “FOLLOW” button in Right-hand column of the website), and the Facebook page (click “LIKE” at the top of the page).

IMG_9478-croppedI will continue posting articles about my own family history research onto AFamilyHistoryBlog and will then share those articles on this Facebook page. But I will also use the Facebook page to quickly share anything else I see of general interest to family history research.

Thanks for FOLLOWING.

Matt.

All known surnames in Matt's ancestry upto his 6x Gt Grandparents
All known surnames in Matt’s ancestry upto his 6x Gt Grandparents

Why You Might Want a Personal Genealogy Blog on WordPress

This morning I came across this great article about how to create a Genealogy Blog (like AFamilyHistoryBlog) using WordPress. It includes a lot of facts, that I didn’t know, about just how popular the WordPress service is for creating sites like this. I would encourage people to read it, so I’m sharing the link here;

Why You Might Want a Personal Genealogy Blog on WordPress

“You probably can find dozens of reasons for creating a blog. In addition, you can probably find dozens of companies that will host a blog for you. Given the choices and the reasons available, tryin…

Source: Why You Might Want a Personal Genealogy Blog on WordPress, at Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

wordpress-logoThis is a good follow-up to the article that I wrote a few months ago for my local Family History Society (which I copied onto AFamilyHistoryBlog) about my Creating a Family History Blog.

I would really like to encourage other people to have a go at doing likewise.

Creating A Family History Blog; copy of an article for my local Family History Society newsletter

As I previously mentioned in a “Names of Interest update“, I have written an article about creating AFamilyHistoryBlog for my local Family History Society’s newsletter. The Spring 2016 newsletter featuring my article has just been published, and I’m copying the article to the blog for others to read. The article is (in part) edited from the text on my Intro/Welcome page.

Here it is;

CREATING A FAMILY HISTORY BLOG
by Matt Walker

pic-of-Matt-for-blog-5I’m in my 30’s and have always been interested in my family history. Over perhaps 15 years or so I have been gathering together a lot of research, trees, etc, done by many other people, and have from time to time done research of my own, to verify that done by others, and to add to it where I can.

In January 2014, I was looking back through some of my own family history notes, and through some very old family documents, and I thought that it would be a great idea to create a website about my family history. I have created several blog based websites in recent years, both for myself and for community groups/projects that I’m involved with. So I knew that it would be technically easy for me to setup the basic website.

A “blog” is a “web-log”; a kind of on-line journal. There are several services that will allow anyone with an e-mail to create a free blog, with space to “post” your journal entries, and the ability to create static web pages; e.g. a personal profile, or a welcome page. Among blogger-logo-ithe popular services is wordpress-logoBlogger”, owned by Google – if you already have a Google account for e-mail or YouTube, then you can easy start a “Blogger” blog. Another great service is “WordPress.com”.

My primary motivation for creating a website is to share more widely the details of these old family documents (dating back as far as the early 1700’s). My concern is that if these documents are held in just one small part of the family, then how will other people in the wider family (with a shared ancestry and a shared interest in documents about their ancestors) get to know or hear about such documents, or about the family details that they can contain – details like evidence for family relationships which may be difficult to demonstrate purely from other available records. These documents and the details they contain could remain unknown to many people who would be interested in researching these family histories.

IMG_7620-edBy creating a website I can share scanned images and transcriptions of these family documents for others to find on-line, helping them with their family research, and demonstrating the sources of my information – which sometimes lead me to conclusions that differ from those of others on-line who often appear to have relied only on records like parish registers!

I began my blog as a private, password protected site, because I wanted to build up some content and play with the layout and format before showing it to other people. With blogging services you can often choose and change between a large range of site design “templates”, which you can then customise to varying extents. I also wanted to consult my close family about it before going more public. So it’s only after about 2 years that I’m ready to make my website more public. Blog-screen-shot-2

I deliberately chose a generic name for my site; “A Family History Blog”, because my intention is to include material about all the different branches of my family tree. Other people might be focused on a particular branch or surname, so might wish to use that name in their blog’s title. I was fortunate to get the name I had thought of. You could try to register a variety of different website names and find them all to be taken already! So you’ll probably need something very original!

I hope that my website can become a very collaborative one, with some of my relatives adding details of the information that they have, and the research that they’ve done into our shared ancestors. It is possible with most blogging services to add multiple authors/accounts to a blog, allowing each one to add articles/“posts” to the site, while one account remains overall administrator.

I would advise anyone else thinking of starting their own family history website to think about what your aims are for doing so. This will help to inform what services you use, and the style, layout and content of your site. Also have a look at the numerous other personal family history websites that are out there. As I began my site, I discovered GeneaBloggers-logowww.GeneaBloggers.com which has a list of over 3,000 genealogy and family history-related blogs. It’s well worth looking through some of these to get a sense of the kind of site that you could create. In due course I plan to submit my site for addition to the GeneaBloggers list.

Please have a look at my blog. I would welcome the thoughts/comments of more experienced family history researchers about my site and approach. I would also be happy to speak in my local area, to individuals or small groups, to advise about the practical/technical side of how you can create your own family history website.

You can see my blog at; https://afamilyhistoryblog.wordpress.com

e-mail; [please use the Contact Page of this website]

Matt Walker.

Useful resources;

Blogging services (just a few of many);

Genealogy and Family History blogging;