Recent and Upcoming Changes at GeneaBloggers.com

Starting in October 2016, GeneaBloggers,com will begin experimenting with template and feature changes to better serve its readers!

Recently you may have noticed some slight changes to the GeneaBloggers.com site. Most bloggers understand that over time you will “tweak” your blog to add or remove features or to try new things. One goal for every blogger should be to communicate change to readers so there are no surprises. If your loyal readers suddenly pull up your blog one day and the template has radically change, they may believe they’ve landed on the wrong site and/or they may have trouble finding resources.

Changes at GeneaBloggers.com

Starting in October 2016, here are some of the changes anticipated over the next month:

  • Advertisements at the top of page (aka “top of fold”) and sidebar, related to genealogy and family history. These are needed to cover website hosting costs. My goal is to keep such ads to a minimum and to make sure they are always relevant. If you see an ad that doesn’t sit well with you, please contact me!
  • Content relevant ads at the end of each post. This is a work in progress and you may see this feature come and go over the next month. My initial foray into this area resulted in ads that were not related to genealogy and family history. As I’ve said above, there will be a few tests until it works or else I will drop the feature.
  • A new template!  I’ve been using this same template at GeneaBloggers.com for over five years now. Back then, many readers did not like the condensed “magazine” format and wanted a “less clicks” environment.  Much has changed in terms of blog templates and the way users interact with websites. Look for a new templates and your feedback is needed!
  • More resources and downloads. Many readers have told me that they have trouble finding all the freebies that I hand out including cheat sheets, recordings, handouts etc. So I’ll be pulling all these items from across several different websites into one Resources area.
  • More industry-related posts. While sometimes I believe I blather on about the genealogy and family history industry, many people want my insights into the latest happenings at Ancestry.com or new products in the DNA area. I hope to get more posts up that you’ll want to share with others interested in researching their roots.

GeneaBloggers.com and MyHeritage

You may also notice that GeneaBloggers.com is no longer sponsored by MyHeritage. In no way does this reflect a “break up” or “falling” out with MyHeritage – after more than two years, I wanted the freedom to carry advertisements, to review different products, etc. I still strongly believe in MyHeritage and its ability to expand my genealogy research . . . so much so that I have a 50% off discount offer (click here) available through October 9th.

Change Agents Wanted

Finally, if you have suggestions for features, resources and formats at GeneaBloggers.com, please use the comments below or contact me at geneabloggers@gmail.com.  As blogging continues to evolve in both the genealogy market and in the world of social media, new ideas are needed to keep the art of blogging relevant especially for genealogy and family history.

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Little Family Tree, A Genealogy App for Children, Now FREE to Download

 Yellow Fork Technologies LLC has just released a major update to their app, Little Family Tree, making it FREE to download through the mobile app stores.

Little Family Tree, A Genealogy App for Children, Now FREE to Download

Herriman, Utah, October 1, 2016

Yellow Fork Technologies LLC has just released a major update to their app, Little Family Tree, making it FREE to download through the mobile app stores. Little Family Tree is an app that teaches children about their family history through interactive games and activities with information obtained from an online family tree. 

Today’s children intuitively understand how to use touch devices such as smartphones and tablets. Little Family Tree brings a child’s personal family history to them through this learning medium and shares it in a way that is accessible to them. An adult logs into an online family tree account, such as FamilySearch, and the app synchronizes the data while children play. There is no need to manually upload or enter family history data into the app and any changes made or photos added to the online tree will synchronize with the app. The app is read-only and does not change the data on the online tree.

Playing Little Family Tree teaches children to: identify family members by name, relationship, and picture, understand who and where they come from, and recognize and navigate a family tree, all in a fun and engaging way. Most importantly, they will feel a connection to their ancestors as they learn about them.

Little Family Tree is available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets and may be downloaded directly from the app stores. The FREE version includes five games; five additional games are available in the premium version for $3.99 in the U.S., priced accordingly in other regions. More information, videos, and tutorials can be found on the website at http://www.littlefamilytree.com.

About Yellow Fork Technologies LLC

Little Family Tree is the inaugural product of Yellow Fork Technologies, LLC, of Utah. Yellow Fork Technologies, LLC was founded in 2015 with the key mission to make family history more accessible and engaging through technology. http://www.yellowforktech.com

The Archive Lady: How to Preserve Civil War Letters?

The Archive Lady: How to Preserve Civil War Letters?

Tammy from Tennessee recently contacted me through Facebook with the following question: “My Dad has some letters written during the Civil War from some of his family. The collection also includes a lock of hair that a girl sent to her soldier boyfriend. What is the best way to preserve them?”

Original handwritten letters are some of the most precious family documents that a genealogist can have in their records collections. Writing letters has become an almost extinct form of communication and all the more reason why we need to preserve the ones that have survived. Preserving handwritten letters is fairly simple and can be accomplished by any genealogist. Here are five steps to archiving letters:

1. Take each letter out of its envelope. As an archivist, I am asked all the time if letters should stay in their envelopes or be removed. My answer is always to remove letters from their envelopes. The act of taking letters in and out of envelopes and unfolding and folding will damage the letters. Once the letters have been removed, be sure that to keep the envelopes and letters together. Use plastic paper clips to clip the envelope to the letter. NEVER USE METAL PAPER CLIPS!

Letters and envelopes from the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Letters and envelopes from the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

2. Scan or digitize the letters and envelopes. Digitizing the letters will preserve them electronically in the event the originals are damaged or destroyed. Digitization will also allow you to view the letters on a computer instead of continually handling the originals which will cause damage to the letters.

3. Purchase archival sleeves that have passed the P.A.T. (Photographic Activity Test). The sleeves you want to obtain will include names such as Mylar, Polypropylene or Polyester. Be sure to get sleeves that fit your letters comfortably and leaves about a 1/4 inch space on each side. Don’t stuff the letters in the sleeves and don’t leave too much room in the sleeves which could cause damage. Place each letter and envelope in the archival sleeves. Only place one letter and one envelope in each sleeve. Make sure to fold down the envelope flap onto itself. The sticky part of the flap contains chemicals that over time will damage the letter if they touch.

One letter and envelope in archival sleeve

One letter and envelope in archival sleeve

4. Purchase archival file folders that have passed the P.A.T. to file the letters. Put the archival sleeves that contain the letters in a file folder. I suggest that no more than ten letters be put in one file folder. If the folder is overstuffed, it could cause damage to the letters. Be sure to label the file folders. How you label your files is entirely up to you. Choose a method that works best for you and be consistent. Storing the folders is straightforward; you could use archival boxes or a filing cabinet.

Letters in file folders and stored in archival box.

Letters in file folders and stored in archival box.

5. Store the archival boxes in a cool, dry and humid free area away from sunlight. Ideal archival storage can be difficult to achieve, do the best you can with what you have available to you. A closet in the middle of the house with no exterior walls would be ideal.

Now let’s address the lock of hair that was mentioned in the question. Preserving a lock of hair is just as easy to accomplish as the letters. The number one enemy of hair is bugs. If you can keep the bugs away, the lock of hair should last forever. You will only need two items to complete this task, a small box with a lid and archival tissue paper. The box does not need to be archival as long as you use archival tissue paper. Place a piece of archival tissue paper in the box, leaving enough that will fold over to cover the lock of hair once placed in the box. Put the lock of hair in the tissue paper that is in the box. Fold the excess tissue paper over the lock of hair so that it is completely covered. Place the lid on the box. Finally, you will want to label the box with information about the lock of hair. You should include the name of the person it belongs to, the date it was received and any additional pertinent information to document the lock of hair. Store in a place where it is cool, dry and away from sunlight. 

Lock of hair with archival tissue paper in box.

Lock of hair with archival tissue paper in box.

I hope these guidelines to preserve old letters and locks of hair inspire you to preserve what you have in your genealogy records collections. Preserve your records today so that our descendants can enjoy them in the future!

The archival materials I recommend can be purchases through Amazon.com:

If you would like more information on how to preserve your old family letters, check out my Legacy Family Tree Webinar Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1168

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If you have a question about researching in archives or records preservation for The Archive Lady, send an email with your question to: melissabarker20@hotmail.com

Melissa Barker - The Archive LadyMelissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation. 

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©Copyright 2016 Melissa Barker. All Rights Reserved

Photo credits: All photos are property of the Houston County, Tennessee Archives