On the last day of the NGS Conference in Las Vegas I had breakfast with Daneil Horowitz and the people of MyHeritage.

©2013 Dick Eastman http://blog.eogn.com/

MyHeritage invited the Official Bloggers at the NGS Conference in Las Vegas to attend a breakfast meeting to present their latest release called “Record Detective.”

©2013 Dick Eastman http://blog.eogn.com/

MyHeritage focuses on technology and how it relates to family history. They want to help you discover more about your family history in a shorter time. You can upload your family tree to their “Family Tree Builder” and it will help you find and match records related to the people in your family tree. There is 97% accuracy in the matches. You can decide to confirm or reject the matches.

If you search a person “The Record Detective” will help you find related records and family trees where you can contact people to share information. You can’t harvest data from other trees.

The program extracts data from a record that you have found and you can click a button to transfer it into your family tree. MyHeritage have a blog post called “New Feature: Extract Info from Records” which describes the process.

The “Family Tree Builder” is now on version 7 and there is a mobile app. The program is available in about 40 languages. You can match names of families in different languages.

You will need to manually add the new people found. I find this is a good idea because it helps you become more familiar with the information you are adding to your family tree.

Ruth Blair, The Passionate Genealogist; Sandra Gardner Benward of the Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society Blog and “The Research Detective.”
©2013 Dick Eastman http://blog.eogn.com/

New content has been added to their database. You can now get the US Federal census from 1790 to 1940. The only Canadian records they have at the moment are related to headstones. They are hoping to expand their Canadian collection.

The website is a pay per view website and you can chose to use credits or purchase a subscription.

MyHeritage officially announced the “Record Detective” on Monday. They have a video on YouTube that describes the “Record Detective.”

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The last day of conference is always a busy one as you are trying to attend the lectures you want to see, going to the Marketplace to get your final purchases, ordering the audio recordings for the lectures you were not able to attend and saying a final good bye to your genealogy pals until the next conference.

My day started early with a breakfast meeting with MyHertiage. The Official Bloggers were invited to learn more about the new offerings on their website. We were greeted by “The Record Detective” complete with spy glass. They escorted us to the conference room where we caught up with the other bloggers and learned more about the changes to MyHertiage. I will write more about this in another post.

Then it was off to the first lecture of the day at 8 am. I decided to attend “Research Tools in RootsMagic” which provided me with some good information but he spent so much time on some items he missed some of the ones that I really wanted to learn more about.

The lecture I was really interested in attending today was “Landlords and Tenants: Land and Estate Records for Irish Family History” presented by Brian Donovan of Eneclann. He provided so much wonderful information and also told us about some new releases for Irish research coming later this year.

The next lecture was “The Elements of Genealogical Analysis” and it examined a different way to look at the Genealogical Proof Standard.

The last lecture of the conference and the day that I attended was “Visual Aids: Enhancements to the Presentation, NOT Show & Tell.” This lecture provided some good suggestions on creating presentations.

I had lunch in the area outside the Marketplace and met up with some ladies who were attending the Ancestry Day stream. There was a Youth Camp being held as well and they had room for 40 children but 77 attended so that is a good sign. There were 1981 attendees at the 2013 National Genealogical Society Conference and a good time was had by all.

The water show at the Bellagio
©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

On Saturday evening my friend and I went to the Las Vegas Strip and saw the sights. We had dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in the MGM Grand and had a lovely meal. When you go to conferences it is important to get out and see the sights of the city where the conference is being held. It is fun to get out and you never know you might learn and/or see something new.

The conservatory at the Bellagio
©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

This post is a little late because after the conference we traveled to Salt Lake City to do a little research. We got home a couple of days ago and it is a long weekend in Canada so I am catching up.

Now we look forward to the 2014 NGS Conference which will be held in Richmond Virginia 7-10 May 2014. See you all there!

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

This morning I attended Brian Donovan’s lecture entitled “Landlords and Tenants: Irish Land and Estate Records for Irish Family History Research.” As usual Brian did not disappoint. The lecture was great and very informative. He also provided some good background information into the records.

He did announce that some new records are going to be put on Findmypast and on the National Archives of Ireland website.

It looks like we can look forward to seeing records relating to church records, original wills, workhouse registers, school pupil rolls and all pre 1901 census survivors and search forms should be available in the next 12 months. The pre 1901 census suvivors and search forms and the will indexes will be available for free on the National Archives of Ireland website.

In the next six months the Field & House books will be availalbe for free from the National Archives of Ireland.

These records will help Irish researchers to find out more about their family history. The land records in particular can be invaluable.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

ARLINGTON, VA, 10 May 2013: The National Genealogical Society presented the Shirley Langdon Wilcox Award to Julie Potter Miller, cg, at its annual banquet on Friday evening, 10 May, at the NGS 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Established in 2011, the Shirley Langdon Wilcox Award for Exemplary Volunteerism recognizes long-term volunteer service to NGS and the genealogical community at large. Julie has served on the NGS Board of Directors since October 2006 and has been vice president since October 2010. She served as conference chair for the NGS 2010 Family History Conference in Salt Lake City and for the NGS 2012 Family History Conference in Cincinnati. This year she continued to serve on the conference committee overseeing the conference blog and social media publicity and provided knowledgeable guidance whenever asked.

“Julie is consistently out in front, leading the charge,” said NGS President Jordan Jones. “She is knowledgeable, fair, and thinks about the long term, consistently pushing the board to explore new and innovative ways to use technology to better serve NGS members.” Stefani Evans, 2013 NGS conference chair added, “Julie has freely shared her experience and project management skills while serving on the conference committee again this year. In every interaction, she has been kind, thoughtful, and patient.”

In addition to her service to NGS, Julie has served as president of the Colorado Genealogical Society, Colorado Chapter of APG, and the Bloomfield Genealogical Society. She served on the board of directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors and volunteers at the National Archives Rocky Mountain Regional Branch.

Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogy education, high research standards, and the preservation of genealogical records. The Arlington, Virginia, based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian, seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, research guidance, and opportunities to interact with other genealogists. Please visit the NGS Pressroom for further information.

Arlington, VA, 10 May 2013: The National Genealogical Society held its annual banquet on Friday evening, 10 May, at the NGS 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, to present awards that acknowledge and honor genealogical scholarship and service. Each year, these awards are presented to organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or have performed outstanding work in the field of genealogy, history, biography, or heraldry.

National Genealogical Society Hall of Fame: Beginning in 1986, the National Genealogy Hall of Fame program, administered by the National Genealogical Society, has honored outstanding genealogists whose achievements in the field of American genealogy have had a great impact on our field. Qualified nominations are solicited annually from genealogical organizations. Those nominated must have been deceased for at least five years and have been actively engaged in genealogy for a minimum of ten years. Their contributions to the field of genealogy in this country need to have been significant in a way that was unique, pioneering, or exemplary. Such contributions could have been as an author of books or articles that added significantly to the body of published works, served as a model of genealogical research or writing, or made source records more readily available. Nominees could also have been a teacher or lecturer, or contributed to the field through leadership in a genealogical organization or periodical.

Entries are judged by a panel of genealogists from various parts of the United States. This year, Earl Gregg Swem, whose nomination was made by The Virginia Genealogical Society, was elected to the NGS Hall of Fame. For thirty-seven years his career was devoted to the collection and publication of materials on Virginia and Virginians. He was the assistant librarian at the Virginia State Library for twelve years and then became the head of the William and Mary College Library from which he retired in 1944.

Fellowship in the National Genealogical Society recognizes a valued servant of the National Genealogical Society. This year’s Fellow, Donn J. Devine, is a retired Brigadier General with the Delaware National Guard and a resident of Wilmington, Delaware. He has been the archivist of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington since 1989. He served eight years as a director of NGS from 1994-2002. Donn was one of the first lecturers on the appropriate use of DNA and serves as the administrator of two family DNA projects. He has been Board-certified since 1987 and has performed many services for the genealogical community at large. He chaired NGS’s committee on standards and currently serves on the Records Preservation & Access Committee and is a member of the NGSQ Editorial Board. He is a former trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (1992-2006), for which he currently serves as general counsel. He is a past president of the Delaware Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and is a trustee of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.

Among Donn’s publications are “Sorting Relationships Among Families with the Same Surname: An Irish American DNA Study” published in The National Genealogical Society Quarterly in December 2005. His articles have been published in The American Genealogist and The Delaware Genealogical Society Journal. His most recent article, “The European Origin of George Falk (1823-1900), Brooklyn Watchmaker” was published in The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Record in January 2013.

For his years of service to the genealogical community; his dedication to meticulous adherence to best practices in the field of genealogy as researcher, writer, and lecturer; and for his unflinching volunteer efforts on behalf of the National Genealogical Society and the genealogical community at large, the NGS Board has elected Donn J. Devine a Fellow of the National Genealogical Society.

William Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship is awarded to a librarian whose primary focus is genealogy and local history and who is employed in a public, academic, or special library. This year’s award, and a $1,000 prize underwritten by ProQuest, went to Elizabeth Crabtree Wells, manager of the Special Collection Department at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Active in the genealogical and historical community, she served as past president of the Alabama Genealogical Society, the Birmingham Genealogical Society, and is a founder and past president of the Society of Alabama Archivists. She is a regular lecturer at the Samford Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. She is co-author of The History of Judson College. Elizabeth holds a BA from Judson College, an MA from Auburn University, and a MLS from the University of Alabama.

The Award of Merit is presented to an individual or non-profit genealogical or historical organization to recognize exceptional contributions to the field of genealogy over a period of five or more years, which has significantly aided research or increased interest in genealogy. For over twenty-five years Carolyn Marguerite Hutchinson Brown has taught genealogy classes and passionately and unabashedly promoted genealogy. She has published six books on her family and her husband’s family lines and has authored many articles published in a variety of genealogical publications. She also founded the Bouse Genealogical Society in Bouse, Arizona, in 2008. She continues to chair, teach, and mentor the group today. As the nomination form concluded, “One person can and does make a difference!”

Family History Writing Contest: Paul K. Graham of Salt Lake City, Utah, was the winner of the Family History Writing contest with his entry, A Love Story Proved: The Life and Family of Laura Lavinia (Kelly) Combs. This award is to encourage NGS members to write a family history that covers at least three generations and not more than four generations of their family.

National Genealogical Society Quarterly’s Award for Excellence: This award is presented for an outstanding article published in the NGSQ in the previous calendar year. The winner of this year’s award emphasized the importance of cultural practices, comprehensive research, and creative problem solving. For 2012, the editors have chosen Without Land, Occupation, Rights, or Marriage Privilege: The Bittner Family from Bavaria to New York, by F. Warren Bittner, cg, published in the September 2012 issue of the NGSQ.

Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources: This year’s recipients were Robert S. Davis of Hanceville, Alabama, and Ted O. Brooke of Cumming, Georgia. The title of their entry was Georgia Research: A Handbook for Genealogists, Historians, Archivists, Lawyers, Librarians, and Other Researchers. This award is for a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a book, an article, or a series of articles that discuss genealogical methods and sources, which serves to foster scholarship and/or advances or promotes excellence in genealogy.

Award for Excellence: Genealogy and Family History Book: This year’s recipient was Helen Schatvet Ullmann, cg, fasg, of Acton, Massachusetts. The title of her entry was Some Descendants of Roger Billings of Dorchester, Massachusetts. This award is for a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a family genealogy or family history book published in the past five years. Entries serve to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advance or promote excellence in genealogy.

Senior Rubincam Youth Award (for students in grades 10-12 or between the ages of 16 and 18): Andrew Staton of Simpsonville, South Carolina, was this year’s winner. The title of his entry was My Windsor and Young Ancestors. The Senior Rubincam Award was established in 1986 to honor Milton Rubincam, cg, fasg, fngs, for his many years of service to the National Genealogical Society and to the field of genealogy. The award encourages and recognizes our youth as the next generation of family historians.

Home Study Course Scholarship: Kristin Harms of Alpharetta, Georgia, was the winner of the Home Study Course Scholarship. Harms received the award for having demonstrated her serious interest in pursuing a career in genealogy. Criteria include attending genealogy conferences and training, subscribing to genealogical publications, and membership in NGS.

The renowned NGS Home Study Course provides a solid foundation for researchers just starting out and new possibilities for experienced researchers more difficult problems. The self-paced, year-long course is published on CD and is offered with a grading option. Learners receive feedback from experts while conducting their personal research.

Ann C. Hilke was presented with the NGS Past President’s pin in recognition of her dedication and service to NGS.

My first lecture on Friday was Microsoft Excel: A Little Known Genealogy Research Tool with Jill N. Crandell, AG. It was a great lecture on how to use the tools in Excel to help you research your family history. She had some great suggestions about using Excel for trying to find your ancestor in a database. Now all I need is the time to go in and try this for myself.

The next lecture I attended was Would the Real Molly Brown Please Stand Up? with Julie Miller,CG. This was one lecture I was really looking forward to and it did not disappoint. It was facinating to follow the trail to find the siblings and family of Margaret Tobin Brown and JJ Brown. I am a fan of the movie The Unsinkable Molly Brown starring Debbie Reynolds and Julie interwove the movie with the real story. There weren’t many similarities.

I missed the last lecture because I wanted to get ready for the Banquet. There were awards presented and door prizes given away before the speakers took the podium. First up was Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak who talked about her Grant Program which is celebrating its thirteenth anniversary and she introduced a new program. Megan is going to give away thirteen grants to people who go into pawn stores to rescue family heirlooms and do the research to return them to the right family. When you have completed this you apply for a grant.

The highlight of the evening was Mark Hall-Paton of Clark County museums and the Pawn Stars TV show. His topic was “Do You Think Anyone’s Going To Watch This Show?” He had the hall laughing with his first sentence. His stories were very entertaining and it was great fun.

It was nice to end the day on such a nice note.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Thursday was a long day filled with lots of learning and fun.

The first lecture was Maximizing Your Use of Evidence with Thomas W. Jones. I had seen this one before but I like to see this type of lecture several times as I can pick up something new each time. Then it was Finding Ancestors through Their Lawsuits in English Chancery Court with Ronald Ames Hill PhD, CG, FASG. I have some English ancestors and wanted to learn more about these records.

The next lecture I went to was Organizing Your Family History Electronically with Ann Carter Fleming CG, CGL, FNGS. I am at that awkward in between stage of paper and digital. I was looking for tips to start my digital organizing.

I didn’t go to the final lecture of the day because my friend and I went to Ceasar’s Palace and had an early dinner at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill where the food was wonderful. Unfortunately no room for dessert.

Then we went and saw Elton John in concert. It was the best concert I have ever attended. The music brought back memories. He opened with The Bitch is Back and ended with Crocodile Rock which had the joint jumping. His encore was The Circle of Life. The two hour concert was filled with music, stories, chat and just plain fun.


©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Arlington, VA, 8 May 2013: The National Genealogical Society honored excellence in the categories of newsletter editorship and service to the Society with the presentation of several awards at the Opening Session of the NGS 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, on 8 May 2013. The Opening Session keynote speaker was historian Marian Smith, Chief, Historical Research Branch, US Citizenship and Immigration Services who spoke on the topic People, Policy, and Records: The Importance of Historical Background after which NGS President Jordan Jones presented the following awards.

Each year, the NGS Newsletter Competition recognizes the hard work, long hours, and creativity that editors devote to their newsletters. A panel of three judges reviews each newsletter on material interest, variety, organization, quality of writing and editing, readability, and attractiveness. This year’s categories and winners are:

Family Association Newsletter:

Winner: The Andreas Killian Descendants Historical Association Newsletter, edited by Charles D. Killian of Ellenwood, Georgia.

Honorable Mention: The Seeley Genealogical Society Newsletter, edited by Paul Taylor of Alexandria, Virginia.

County/Local Genealogical and/or Historical Society, for societies with less than 500 members:

Winner: The Newsletter of the Irish Family History Forum, edited by Patricia Mansfield Phelan of Freeport, New York.

Honorable Mention: The Quarterly Newsletter of the South Bend Area Genealogical Society, edited by Eric Craig of South Bend, Indiana.

Major Genealogical and/or Historical Society, for societies with more than 500 members:

Winner: PastFinder, the monthly newsletter of the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group, edited by Janet Brigham of Mountain View, California.

The President’s Citation is given in recognition of outstanding, continuing, or unusual contributions to the field of genealogy or the society. The National Genealogical Society President selects the recipient and this year Jan Meisels Allen has been selected.

Jan has been a key leader of the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), a joint committee of NGS, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Over the last few years she has tracked legislation that may impact genealogists’ access to the Social Security Death Index in the US Congress and access to vital records in many states. She is relentless in writing statements as appropriate to House and Senate committee chairs as well as governors and state representatives advocating open records access. She is a dynamo on RPAC as the voting member representing the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS). She doggedly finds bills being proposed that affect records access and brings them to the attention of RPAC, and thus the genealogical community. She has served in many roles, including vice president, IAJGS; president, Jewish Genealogical Society of Conejo Valley and Ventura County; and board member, Friends of the Agoura Hills Library. Jan receives the President’s Citation for her vigilance in support of records preservation and in defense of public access to public records.

NGS also recognized several individuals for their dedicated efforts in support of the NGS 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada:

The Award of Honor was presented in recognition of dedication and sustained service in support of the conference. Recipients of the award were Michael Brenner, Chair, Local Host Societies; and local host societies Centennial Las Vegas Genealogy Society, Clark County Nevada Genealogical Society, Jewish Genealogy Society of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas FamilySearch Library, Nevada African American Genealogy Society, and Nevada State Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

Certificates of Appreciation were given to recognize the committee chairs who spent countless hours preparing for the conference. NGS is aware that there could be no conference if it were not for the volunteers’ efforts and commitment. So honored were Lynne Bogner and R. Wayne Stoker, Co-Chairs of Volunteers; Patricia Dell’aira and Rebecca Eisenman, Co-Chairs of Hospitality; Betteann Meyers, Publicity Chair; Carole Montello, Registration Chair; Leo Myers, Exhibits Chair; and Bill White, Local Events and Tours Chair.

We arrived around lunch time on Tuesday and once settled in the hotel we went and registered for the conference. It was nice to have the conference bag filled with very useful information. My favourite has been the syllabus on a flash drive. I had printed off syllabus material at home of the lectures I wanted to attend but once here I considered some different lectures so it was nice to have the syllabus material to help me make that decision.

It was early to bed on Tuesday because of the early start on Wednesday morning. The Opening Session was People, Policy, and Records: The Importance of Historical Background by Marian Smith.

The Marketplace opened at 9:30 am with the help of a wonderful Mariachi band.


(C) 2013 by the National Genealogical Society, Inc. Used by permission of the National Genealogical Society and the photographer, Scott Stewart.

The first stop in the Marketplace for me and many others was the NGS booth to purchase the new Thomas W. Jones book called Mastering Genealogical Proof.

Then it was off to Lisa Louise Cooke’s lecture called How the Genealogist Can Remember Everything with Evernote. As usual Lisa did not disappoint and I can’t wait to find a quiet corner and start learning more about Evernote. I already have the program downloaded so that is a start.

After lunch it was Genealogical Writing Made Easier with Scrivener with Kimberly Powell. This is a program I have been considering downloading to see how it will help me with my genealogical writing.

The last lecture of the day was Research Ties: The Power of an Online Research Log with Jill N. Crandell, AG.

In the evening we went to Bennihana for dinner and that was quite an experience. Then it was an early night. Another big day tomorrow.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

On my last visit to the Archives of Ontario I had the chance to try out the new Archives of Ontario Vital Statistics Database. At the moment the only years available are: births 1915; marriages 1930 and deaths 1940. It is hoped that either later this year or early next year that they will add: births 1916, 1917; marriages 1931, 1932 and deaths 1941, 1942.

This database is only available in the Archives on the microfilm scanners. They have hooked them up to the internet and when the Archives homepage comes up you click on the star on the tool bar for Favourites. Then on the right hand side you will see a list and you can choose Archives of Ontario Vital Statistics Database.

It takes a while to load the database. You can do an advance or basic search. You can tick a specific search for birth, marriage or death or you can search all three. You are prompted to put in the first, middle and last name but only the last name is a required field.

The search results include: first, middle, last name; date of event; place of registration; type of event (if more than one is ticked on the search form); registration number; and details. The basic search gives you 10 search results per page.

When you click on details this takes you to a colour digital image of the document. If more than one page is linked to the document it will say page 1 and page 2 across the top. There is also a link to view the original index page. It is a good idea to view the index page as well.

Across the top of the digital image you get: registration number; name; event; date and place. So you would get something like “John Smith married 1/1/1930 in Hamilton.” The digital image is clear and the fact that it is in colour can help with the clarity.

There is a back to search button which takes you back to the original search page. You can’t get back to the search results so you have to keep repeating the search. So if you are looking for someone and don’t have much information on them you have to keep repeating the search every time you look at an image.

You can still view the vital statistics indexes on microfilm and get a copy of the registration from microfilm.

They are digitizing and creating a database for the Ontario Land Patent Plans but there is no timeline on when it will be released.

The printers in the reading room are gone. There are only two rows of microfilm readers that you can use to print a hard copy. You just hit print and it automatically prints out at the reception desk in the main hall. It is $.25 a copy and you can still use your copy card.

They are encouraging people to use thumb drives. I use both systems depending on the project.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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