Genealogy Do-Over – Week 10, Cycle 3: 4-10 September 2015

The Genealogy Do-Over - Week 10 Topics: 1) Reviewing DNA Testing Options and 2) Organizing Research Materials - Digital

Click here to download this article in PDF format.

Previous topics in the Genealogy Do-Over:

[Editor’s note: Much of the text below is unchanged from the original Week 10 posting on March 6, 2015, except for my personal updates.]

Topics: 1) Reviewing DNA Testing Options and 2) Organizing Research Materials – Digital

While I had fun with last week’s Genealogy Do-Over topics (collateral research is one of my favorite areas), I’m very excited about this week which is Week 10. Are you enjoying the variety of topics we’ve covered so far? Remember, that one of the goals of the Genealogy Do-Over is to learn new and better methods of finding your ancestors. To do this, it has to be on your terms, and on your schedule. So if you feel like you’ve fallen behind, don’t worry! You’ll always have access to these topics via PDF.

And remember that when the current Genealogy Do-Over cycle ends, on 1 October 2015, I’ll be restarting with Week 1, Cycle 4 on Friday, 2 October 2015.

* * *

Reviewing DNA Testing Options

One of my biggest research challenges has been to connect two different lines of ancestors: the MacEntees of Gardiner, Ulster County, New York with the more famous McEntees of Kingston, also in Ulster County. The only way I’ll likely prove one of my long-held theories is through DNA testing.

Which DNA Test is Best? One Way to Start . . .

. . . is to read! That means studying various articles available online and in print. I’ve learned so much over the past five years from these great blogs that feature DNA and genealogy:

DNA Genealogy Toolkit

Another great read – and FREE – is the Jump into Genetic Genealogy: Use Genealogical DNA Testing to Solve Family Mysteries e-book from Family Tree University. This guide will help you learn the terminology involved with DNA genealogy and you’ll be able to differentiate between the various tests.

How about a wiki, like Wikipedia, but for DNA genealogy? That’s what you’ll find at the ISOGG Wiki (http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Wiki_Welcome_Page) created and maintained by the International Society of Genetic Genealogy. This site makes it easy to search for terminology, DNA test vendors, and more.

Interpreting Testing Results

One tool I need to use more is GedMatch (http://v2.gedmatch.com/) which allows you to upload your testing results from various tests and run reports as well as connect with other genealogists using DNA testing.

  • What I Plan to Do: I have tested with Ancestry.com DNA as well as 23andme, two of the leading providers of DNA genealogy testing products. My next step is to review the various tests available at Family Tree DNA, purchase a test and then wait for the results. I also need to do better in interpreting my results and reach out to possible cousins to prove or disprove relationships in my family tree.
  • New to DNA Genealogy: If you have not yet spent time learning about DNA genealogy, use some of the resources listed above and familiarize yourself with the various tests and terminology. Also consider attending a DNA genealogy lecture at the next genealogy conference you attend.
  • Currently Using DNA Genealogy: If you have already completed one or more DNA test, make sure you are using all the possible tools at your disposal for interpreting results and connecting with others.

Organizing Research Materials – Digital

While computers and the Internet have been a boon to genealogy researchers, with more data come more headaches including how to keep it all organized!

Danger Ahead: The Digital Dark Ages

Which of these two do you think is more in peril of being lost: An original photograph from 1950 or a digital scan of that same photograph? While the printed version might be lost, or consumed in a fire or damaged in a flood, consider all these calamities that could befall your digital version:

  • Hard drive failure
  • Accidental deletion of file
  • Conversion from high-res TIFF file format to lower-res JPG format
  • File corruption
  • File format becomes obsolete
  • Storage on outdated media such as floppy disks
  • Over-correction of color and features using photo editing software

The truth is that there is no guaranty that TIFF or other file formats will even be around in 20 years. I’m pretty sure that even with glasses, my eyes will always be able to see that 1950 photo! See Google’s Vint Cerf warns of ‘digital Dark Age’ for an overview of this pressing issue.

Pick a File Naming Convention and Stick With It!

There are many different ways to name your digital files used in genealogy research. Some prefer a numbering scheme while others begin with the surname. What about married female ancestors? (I ALWAYS use the surname with which they were born . . )

My method right now, and one that works for me is as follows:

  • SLATTERY John Vincent b1888 WWI Draft Reg Card
    This tells me, at first glance, that the file is a World War I draft registration card for John Vincent Slattery who was born in 1888. I add the “b _____” segment since I have many ancestors with the same name, such as John Austin.

This method is loosely based on one developed by a current Genealogy Do-Over participant, Diana Ritchie. Click here to read Diana’s original post in the Genealogy Do-Over Group on Facebook outlining her file naming convention.

Metadata Is Your Friend

What is metadata? Basically it is “data about data” but there is an easier way to get genealogists interested. What if I told you that there was a way for you to add information about a digital image to the file – such as the subject, data, location and even a source citation – to the file so that it is always part of the file structure? That is what metadata can do.

What is metadata? Basically it is “data about data” but there is an easier way to get genealogists interested. What if I told you that there was a way for you to add information about a digital image to the file – such as the subject, data, location and even a source citation – to the file so that it is always part of the file structure? That is what metadata can do.

In the example above I have entered my own text in the Title and Subject fields, added Tags and also placed by source citation in the Comments field (which holds 9,999 characters!)

You may not realize that metadata is already added to many of your digital files, especially when they are created. One example is a photo created with a digital camera or a smartphone. If you examine the metadata it will tell you the type of camera used to create the file, the file creation date, the resolution and sometimes even the GPS location of the photo.

So what about files that you’ve created, can you add and edit that metadata? Sure you can. An easier way to explain it is to watch a video recording of a webinar I presented called Metadata for Digital Images. Click here to watch now.

So what about files that you’ve created, can you add and edit that metadata? Sure you can. An easier way to explain it is to watch a video recording of a webinar I presented called Metadata for Digital Images. Click here to watch now.

Once you’ve mastered the metadata concepts, consider adding important metadata to each of your genealogy research files!

Organize AND Backup Digital Materials

What good is spending hours organizing digital files if you don’t ensure their future accessibility? Every genealogist should have a data backup plan and also perform backups on a regular basis.

Try employing the 3-2-1 Rule:

  • 3 copies of each file. This means one primary copy, likely your hard drive, and then two other copies such as in the cloud and on an external hard drive.
  • 2 different media formats. Don’t store all copies on different hard drives or in different cloud platforms. Use different media such as hard drive, cloud, USB flash drive etc.
  • 1 offsite copy. This means don’t copy files to a USB drive that you keep near your computer; place it in a fire safe. Better yet, make sure one of your file copies is in the cloud which means it is not physically stored near the hard drive version.

Don’t forget that backing up on a regular schedule is important as well. In the genealogy community, the 1st day of each month is promoted as Data Backup Day and is a reminder to all genealogists to future proof their research data!

  • What I Plan to Do: Since I set all my original digital files aside, in a HOLD folder on my C drive (and backed up, of course), I am now taking time to name files according to my own naming convention and placing items in their proper folder. I just need to maintain these good habits and not get lazy . . . that is when I just thrown files in a general folder and say “Oh, I’ll file them later.” If you’ve ever left items in your Downloads folder and then accidentally deleted them, you know why you need to file items right away!
  • “All-In” Participant Options: Map out a file naming convention and also rename folders if necessary. And don’t forget to have at least two forms of file backup! Most genealogists use a cloud platform such as Dropbox paired with an external hard drive or an automated backup site.
  • Modified Participant Options: If you have not set aside your original research files and are still working with them, you’ll likely have the most work to do in terms of getting organized. Again, just like the “All-In” folks, decide on a file naming convention and start using folders to group and sort items.

* * *

And that’s all I have for this week’s topic of the Genealogy Do-Over. Get ready for next week when we’ll look at how to use social media as “cousin bait” and the importance of building both an online and offline network of fellow genealogy researchers.

Next Week: Week 11, Cycle 3 – 11-17 September 2015

  • Reviewing Social Media Options
  • Building a Research Network

Thanks for being a part of the Genealogy Do-Over and your feedback is always appreciated. You can leave a comment on the blog post at GeneaBloggers, email me at geneabloggers@gmail.com or post at the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Blogging Events: 4-11 September 2015

Get the latest news on genealogy blogging events for the week of 4-11 September 2015, right here at GeneaBloggers.
Here is a list of events and goings-on in the world of genealogy blogging. Here’s what is happening in the coming week:

Genealogy Daze of the Week!

Here are some upcoming dates to look out for so you can plan your genealogy and family history blog posts for next week:

  • 4 September: First Electric Lighting – Anniversary, Little Rock Nine – Anniversary, and Paul Harvey’s Birthday – Anniversary.
  • 5 September: Israeli Olympiad Massacre – Anniversary, Jesse James’ Birthday – Anniversary, and Michigan Great Fire of 1881 – Anniversary.
  • 6 September: Jane Addam’s Birthday – Anniversary, Grandparents Day, and Marquis de Lafayette’s Birthday – Anniversary.
  • 7 September: The Blitz begins – 75th Anniversary, Labor Day (US and Canada), Google founded – Anniversary, Grandma Moses Day, “Neither Snow Nor Rain” Day – Anniversary, “The Flying Nun” TV Premiere – Anniversary, and “Truth or Consequences” TV Premiere – Anniversary.
  • 8 September: Patsy Cline’s Birthday – Anniversary, First Miss America Crowned – Anniversary, Galveston Hurricane – Anniversary, Nixon Pardoned – Anniversary, and “Star Trek” TV Premiere – Anniversary.
  • 9 September: California – Admission Day, “Rhoda” TV Premiere – Anniversary, and “Welcome Back Kotter” TV Premiere – Anniversary.
  • 10 September: “Gunsmoke” TV Premiere – Anniversary and World Suicide Prevention Day.
  • 11 September: Patriot Day – National Day of Remembrance, “The Carol Burnett Show” TV Premiere – Anniversary, and “Little House on the Prairie” TV Premiere – Anniversary.

Continue reading

FREE Ebook: The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists

FREE ebook The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists - practical advice on on how to save money on genealogy and family history services!

My latest book, The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists, offers an amazing array of money saving tips when using genealogy and family history resources! You’ll find ways to save money by selling your old genealogy books back to Amazon (they’ll buy them even if you bought them somewhere else!) as well how to “trick” vendors into giving you a special discount for online purchases. In addition, you’ll have access to over 20 exclusive discounts that can save you over $1,000 on genealogy this year alone!

Starting today through Sunday September 6th, I’m making this book (a $2.99 USD value) available for FREE! Click here for your copy NOW before it’s too late!

International Access to The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists

Readers in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries can access the free version of The 15 Habits as well. Simply go to Amazon and search for “15 Habits Frugal.” Here are some convenient links for those readers in specific countries:

Take a Minute and Leave a Review

If you do download and read The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists, if possible, please take a minute to write a review over at Amazon so other genealogists can understand how this book will help them save money while searching for their ancestors.

How Do Free Kindle E-books Work?

The easiest way to get your copy of The 15 Habits is to click the link or image above. Or if you search on Amazon for the book, you’ll see either Add to Cart or Buy now with 1-Click® . . . just click either of those buttons.

The easiest way to get your copy of Guide to WolframAlpha for Genealogy and Family History Research is to click the Add to Cart image above. Or if you search on Amazon for the book, you'll see either Add to Cart or Buy now with 1-Click® . . . just click either of those buttons. Whatever you do, please DO NOT CLICK the "Read for free" button! This will sign you up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited and you'll receive emails and . . . well it is just a mess!

Whatever you do, please DO NOT CLICK the “Read for free” button! This will sign you up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited and you’ll receive emails and . . . well it is just a mess!

But I Don’t Have a Kindle Device! Read On . . .

Did you know that Amazon provides a FREE Kindle App that you can install on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or most any smart device? Click here to download the app . . . and don’t worry, the app is “responsive” which means it will know which version you need!

Did you know that Amazon provides a FREE Kindle App that you can install on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or most any smart device? Click here to download the app . . . and don't worry, the app is "responsive" which means it will know which version you need!

I have the Kindle App on my iPad and it works just like a Kindle device! I can change the font size, the word space and the lighting as well.

About The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists

Researching your family history can be fun, but like many hobbies, it can turn into an obsession, and an expensive one at that. There are many ways to save money while you pursue the “hunt” for your roots: some are just common sense while others are, frankly, ingenious. Also keep in mind that it doesn’t pay to be so focused on “frugal” that in the long run you either lose money or that genealogy is no longer “fun.”

The title of this book is misleading, and intentionally so. The fact is, you’ll find over 30 amazing ways to save money when purchasing genealogy-related products and services. You may already be using some of these tricks, but I guarantee that once you starting using some of the more unusual money-saving tips, you’ll say to yourself, “Now, why didn’t I think of that!”

Finally, the end of The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists is filled with special offers exclusively for those who have purchased this book. These deals were specifically negotiated with certain vendors and most use links or promo codes that are valid through the end of 2015.

SPECIAL EXCLUSIVE SAVINGS!

As a reader of The 15 Habits of Highly Frugal Genealogists, you’ll have exclusive access to the following deals negotiated with specific vendors.

  • MyHeritage: Save 35% off a Premium Plus account and 1 year Data Subscription
  • Legacy Tree Genealogists: $45 off any genealogy research project
  • Hack Genealogy Boot Camp: 30% off any digital download
  • Legacy Family Tree: 15% off an annual membership at Legacy Family Tree webinars; 15% off Legacy Family Tree Deluxe Software
  • Shop Family Tree: 15% off any one item at ShopFamilyTree.com
  • Amazon: Various savings on genealogy products
  • Family Tree Tours: Save $50 on any tour booking
  • Flip-Pal® mobile scanner: Save $35 on a special Flip-Pal mobile scanner bundle
  • Larsen Digital: 10% off ALL conversion services including audio, video and more!
  • AncestryDNA: Free Shipping on all AncestryDNA kits
  • Evidentia: 20% off Evidentia software
  • Genealogical Publishing Company: 30% off all items at Genealogical.com

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.