Friday, May 29, 2015

Ancestry and Family Tree Maker - Why I Am Bass Akwards

Once again, the rumors have surfaced that is up for sale. As happens with such rumors and announcements, the genealogy community is all aflutter, scared silly that everything they have added to their family tree on Ancestry is about to disappear.

Maybe I have more confidence in online sites than others. From participation in many online genealogy forums, I've arrived at the conclusion that I use my software and Ancestry web site differently than most. at the conference of the
National Genealogical Society
St. Charles, MO 2015

I've gathered that people using Family Tree Maker (FTM) software enter all of their data within the software and perhaps sync it with their tree(s) on Ancestry. I do just the opposite. I enter all of my discoveries directly on the Ancestry site. Every few weeks (or months, if I get behind), I download the GEDCOM from Ancestry into my FTM software. I consider the FTM GEDCOM download as a backup of my research.

Am I lazy? Do I like living life (and my research) on the edge? I don't know. All I know is that this is what works for me.

I'm pretty much a digital kind of gal. And I know that may subject me to some dangers. I have my scanned images of documents and my personal digital photo archive all on my laptop with a backup to the cloud via Dropbox and my Amazon photo cloud. Have I thrown away or discarded any of my original documents, photographs, scrapbooks, slides or negatives? Not on your life! It's just easier for me to manage all of the data in a digital archive.

I think that we all like what we are used to. That is why I prefer OneNote to Evernote (although I use both). I prefer Family Tree Maker to Roots Magic and Legacy. Why? Because it's what I'm used to. In my working life, I always used the analogy: the only person who likes change is a wet baby! The same is true with genealogy and our software.

The advantage of being able to download a GEDCOM from Ancestry is that I can import it into whatever software application I'm using. Each of the major software packages provides different options for reports, printouts, books, etc. Having been 100% digital for several years, I'm just beginning to recreate hard copies of my research using the various software applications. Each one allows me to have different options, printouts, etc.

Am I concerned about an impending sale of Ancestry? Not so much. Do I fear that all of my research will be lost? No. Why? Because I have my GEDCOMS, my scans, my notes, my boxes and boxes of documents and photographs. And everything is backed up - on my laptop, Dropbox, Amazon, as well as on external hard drives.

For now, Ancestry remains my online tree of choice. The online family trees on Ancestry are excluded from my routine searches. I think we all know how unreliable so many of them can be. But I know they are there if I need a few hints. FamilySearch provides me with additional resources, but there is NO WAY I'm going to get into a discussion of sources or "who's right and who's wrong" in entering data or citing sources. The best I can do is to make my research available for future researchers, with source citations. I'm not going to get this all done in my lifetime, but I can leave some bread crumbs for those who choose to follow my research in the future.

Seriously, who really knows if Ancestry will be around in 100 years? I sure don't. FamilySearch-LDS - definitely a good chance of survival. Who know if the Internet will even look the same in 100 years? All I know is that I will continue to do my data entry on Ancestry, with my back-ups to FTM.

At this point in my life and research, my objective is to produce as much as possible into "hard copy" that can be printed/published and donated to local societies and libraries for those family members and historians who come after me.

Join Me in Searching the Deep Internet!

I've cut back on my speaking engagements this year while I pursue some education, classes and genealogy conferences for my own personal growth and development. However, I remain committed to the Omaha Public Library's (OPL) summer sessions and I'm always thrilled to be invited back! This summer marks my fifth speaking engagement at OPL as part of the genealogy series in the summer reading program.

On July 18, I'll be speaking about the "Deep Internet" and the various web sites you need to be searching to find information about your ancestors. Google doesn't do it all and there are other web sites where genealogy information can be found. You can think of this as a Scavenger Hunt - or "Nebraska Jones" on a vast treasure hunt for family history information!

I'm still in the process of creating this presentation and I'm excited about the adventures we will share together!

July 18, 2015
W. Dale Clark Library
215 S. 15th St
Omaha, NE
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Register here

It's Free! So reserve your space today!

Why I Love

I subscribe to three paid newspaper subscription sites:, Genealogybank and As a journalism major in college, I had always been something of a news junkie until recent years when all of the "bad news" in the media made me cancel my newspaper subscriptions and stop watching TV news. You know the saying, "If it bleeds it leads." But I still feel as though printer's ink runs in my veins and I absolutely love Love LOVE old newspapers for my genealogy research.

The team from at the recent conference
 of the National Genealogical Society in St. Charles, MO.
I HAD to stop at their booth to tell them how much I LOVE the site!

Comparing the Big Three

Over the past thirty or so years of genealogy research, I've had on-again off-again periods of being active. In one of my off-again periods, I subscribed to NewspaperArchive and I was searching non-genealogy topics. It became a valuable resource for me once I returned to family history research. That is, until they discontinued carrying images from some of my favorite newspapers because of the end of some licensing contracts. Even with their increase in fees (close to $200/year now, billed every six months), I've maintained my subscription because I continue to find articles about long lost relatives within their pages. Compared to the other sites, I believe their pricing is too high, but I've found enough information there to justify the expense.

GenealogyBank is also a favorite newspaper subscription site and it also includes more contemporary obituaries which has moved my research forward considerably by examining the lists of survivors. The annual cost for new subscribers is about $70. Monthly subscriptions are available. You can also get a 30-day trial for under $10.

Whenever anyone asks about which paid site is the best, my answer is always "Whichever one has the most newspapers in the area where your ancestors lived." That being said, I maintain my paid subscriptions to all three sites and will continue to do so as long as I can afford to.

The annual subscription to is $79.95, but with my subscription to Fold3, I get it for $39.95. I call that a bargain! Monthly subscriptions are available for $7.95.

Why I Love the Most

That brings me around to, an Ancestry company, which has become my newspaper subscription site of choice. Of the three big players in paid subscription sites, I find the easiest to navigate and search. I can search by my ancestor's name or keywords. I can also search within specific newspapers. I have to say that it was a little weird when I found articles about myself or that I had written in those pages! But it was amazing when I discovered several Letters to the Editor written by my grandfather, William Kelly (writing as W. L. Kelly). It was so nice to know where I inherited my spunk and tongue-in-cheek delivery style. makes it very easy to clip an article. You have the option of keeping your clippings private (which I do most of the time) or make them public. If you want to share the clipping using social media, you need to make the clipping public.

As of this morning, the site has more than 102 million page images available to search!

Let me take you through a few screen clippings to show you the ease of using

This is a screen shot of some of my clippings on

As you are saving your clippings, make sure you click on "Edit" and add a description of the clipping, using your ancestor's name and keywords. Think of this as writing a headline for the article. Otherwise, you will not be able to search for clippings about a specific ancestor. Yes, I learned this one the hard way, and I'm still back-tracking, adding those names and keywords to my clippings.

See how easy it is to save to Ancestry!

You just select which tree and person
to whom you are saving the clipping!

Share With Others!

This may be one of my favorite perks of the site. It makes it very easy to share the clipping with other researchers. I'm a relatively new fan of Pinterest, even though I've had an account since it first came on the scene. I have a Pinterest board, Ancestor News, where I can share clippings with other researchers. I also set up a Facebook group for other Pecht family researchers and I can share clippings with those cousins. Just remember, the clipping must be made Public if you want to share it.

It is still up to you to explore each of the paid sites and determine which has the most bang for your buck for the geographic areas where your people lived.

Screen captures are from and are used here for educational purposes. No violation of copyright of the images is intended.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Watch Live Streaming from Jamboree - Free!

One word that attracts all genealogists is "Free." Here is an upcoming education opportunity that you won't want to miss!  The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) is hosting its annual Genealogy Jamboree in June. If you can't make it in person, this is an outstanding opportunity for you to hear some great genealogy speakers.

SCGS is offering several of the sessions via online streaming during the conference. Not only that, if you are unable to view them all live, you can watch them online for the month following the conference!

Blogger Randy Seaver lists all of the live-streaming sessions, topics and speakers on his Genea-Musings blog, so I won't repeat them all here. Click this link for more information. 

I may have taken a few criticisms for my post last month regarding genealogy societies, but SCGS is one of my societies that is doing it right!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

NGS Summary - Part Seven - In Conclusion

In Conclusion . . .

Overall, I had a ball at the 2015 conference of the National Genealogical Society! Kudos to all who put this together. I've been the coordinator for a 10-state (non genealogy) conference, so I have a pretty good idea of what goes in to the planning.

Ann Fleming tossed out the first pitch
of the StL cards v. Detroit Tigers game
and got chased by FredBird!
First of all, KUDOS to Ann Fleming for taking on overall responsibility for organizing the conference! Whoo Hoo! I was so proud of you at the game between the St. Louis Cardinals (my fave MLB team!) and the Detroit Tigers on Sunday evening. Well Done!

Even though some of the so-called genealogy "Rock Stars" were a disappointment to me, I still had a great time and learned a lot!

The social aspect of the conference remains the high point of my week. I loved getting to meet my friends from Facebook and FB groups, who I've only known in an online capacity for a few years. Finally meeting in person totally Rocked!

The iPhone app for the NGS conference was Uh-Maze-Ing! Before I left home, I had entered my schedule for the conference. Even though I changed my preferred sessions on a daily basis, I LOVED being able to pull up the app on my phone to see where I was supposed to be next. NGS gets 10 stars for this!

The Cards are my favorite MLB team, so it really was
a thrill to attend the game on Sunday evening.
Thanks to my friend, Diana Ritchie, for scoring great seats
behind the Cardinals dugout!!!!
I also LOVED having the syllabus in PDF format prior to the conference. Even though I had downloaded the syllabus to my Kindle Fire HDX before I left home, I only referred to it a couple times during the conference. It was nice that you gave me a USB drive with the syllabus, but - I really didn't need it. In fact, it still hasn't surfaced during my unpacking from the conference.

Meals . . . I managed. I applaud NGS for offering options for vegetarian and gluten-free meals. It's a start. I'm a "wheat-free, grain-free" eater. I'm easing off the foods that wreak havoc for a diabetic - such as potatoes and sweets. So the menus that included taters and desserts created an issue for me. But - I survived and brought in my own snacks that fit my eating plan. I gained 4 lbs on my trip, which wasn't really a surprise. Two of those are already gone, so I'm okay with that!

Those who know me well know that I do NOT want a lot of paper! I could easily have done without the majority of the "Stuff" that was in my registration bag. Sadly, I left the majority of the promos, bookmarks, etc behind at the first hotel I stayed in. I wasn't even that enchanted with the USB drive with the syllabus as I had downloaded it to Dropbox and my Kindle HDX. But, no doubt, I'll find another use for it. Planning ahead, I brought along my own Bright Pink tote bag! Had I misplaced anything, it was certainly going to be easier to find than looking among all of the Green Totes!

Seating .... OUCH! Yes, you really crammed us in together. This was almost like airline seating.Seriously, would an additional 6" between rows have been that much to ask for? Many of us take notes on our mobile devices and for those of us who have a bit of a tummy - well, it's difficult to take notes when we don't have a table. It would be REALLY nice if the last three (or so) rows of each room were chairs with tables so we could easily type or take notes on our mobile devices. I brought along my own "butt cushion," but still, a bit more comfort would have been nice.

Food options: Must say, I give you points for the Food Trucks, even though I didn't make use of them. Friends gave them high marks. I attended a conference in Denver in April (4,000 participants!) during which the food options were limited to roasted nuts and coffee. So NGS scored high in this regard. For the meals/banquets I didn't pay for, I was able to get a decent salad option. I thank you for offering choices!

This was my first national genealogy conference. I adapted to meet my own needs. It could easily have been a day or a day and a half shorter, with fewer choices of sessions. But I had a good time and learned a lot.

I conveyed my pros and cons regarding the sessions to NGS via the IOS app. While I still may be considered "the Cranky Genealogist," I really did enjoy my time in St. Charles.

Will I attend another NGS conference? Probably.