Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Mission Call for Records Preservation Specialists


My wife and I have recently been called to serve as full-time missionaries in the Washington, D.C. North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as record preservation specialists. We will serve for one year. We enter the Mission Training Center (MTC) on December 4, 2017.

As many of our friends and acquaintances know, we have both been serving as part-time Church Service missionaries for many years, first at the Mesa FamilySearch Library and then, most recently, at the Brigham Young University Family History Library on the campus. But since this mission is a full-time calling, we will have to spend whatever time is necessary to fulfill our callings and likely I will have to take an extended vacation from regular blogging.

Since we have been doing genealogical research for our own families and for those of many others, we feel this is an opportunity to contribute directly to the information available to genealogists and family historians around the world. Here is another link that explains what we will likely be doing.

FamilySearch Records Preservation Missionaries


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Apple Users: Watch Out for iOS 11 and High Sierra


Well, Fall is here and apparently, it is time for two new operating systems from Apple: iOS 11 and High Sierra. Because I am an early adopter of most technology, I upgraded my iOS devices to the new iOS 11. Hmm. Interesting adjustment. I am now waiting for the release of High Sierra and I expect some of the same adjustments.

First of all, upgrading to iOS 11 was as easy as it usually is to upgrade an Apple device. I didn't notice any real differences. There were minor changes in the way that the icons looked and some differences in the organization of the icons on my iPhone. Some of the functions of the operating system have been entirely redesigned. For me, the big change came in the camera and the way that files were stored on the devices.

Of course, I wanted to try out the new camera functions and took a picture and explored the new editing features. But the surprise came when I tried to save the image off onto my computer. Apple has implemented a new format referred to as HEIC. Immediately, there was a problem. None of my programs and even Google Photos could recognize this file format. Took me a while to figure out how to resolve the problem. I finally found some instructions and looked in the camera section of the settings menu and found an entry called "formats" that allowed me to save the images as the standard.jpg. That temporarily solved the problem. The HEIC file format is apparently a filename extension for the High Efficiency Image File Format. The benefit of this file format is that it saves a great deal of storage space on the device. The problem, of course, is that there will be a transition time before the file format is generally supported.

By the time that I had figured out the problem, Google had already begun to support the new file format. So any problems I have working with the new file format disappeared.

As genealogists, we should be aware that some of the programs that were presently using may need to be updated to support the new file format and the new operating system: High Sierra. I have already received a notice from Ancestral Quest suggesting that I upgrade the program before upgrading the operating system. As is also the case, some software programs will fall by the wayside because their developers do not wish to adapt the programs to the new operating systems.

Back to the HEIC image file format, apparently none of my Adobe programs recognize this file format. I did find a file converter option online that seems to work. It may be some time before all of this is worked out.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Genealogy.org another Ancestry website


At the bottom of the startup page for Ancestry.com, there is a link to "Visit our other sites." Here is a screenshot of the menu:


Interestingly, Ancestry.com has other websites that are not listed. Genealogy.org is one of those websites. Although, upon examination, it appears to be mostly a "feeder" website but it does have extensive reference and explanation material. Here is an example:


 An interesting feature of the Genealogy.org website is the list of "Top Genealogy.org Member Websites." This is a list of 123 websites around the Internet related to genealogy in a number of different languages. Most of these websites have almost no traffic as shown by the "hits" count provided by the listing. Apparently, at some time in the past, websites could apply to join as a member website but the link now shows that feature to be inactive. I couldn't find any history online about the website but it appears that it was once an independent website acquired by Ancestry.com. That was the case with Genealogy.com and I am guessing further that Ancestry.com wanted to make sure that it owned both the .com and the .org websites with the word "genealogy."

Some of the links listed for the websites seem to be broken and some have redirects which I would avoid. In this age of mega websites for genealogy and sweeping searches such as those done by Google make these older listing websites less useful. But they remain interesting artifacts of the way that technology is changing.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

FamilySearch Partners with Familcity.com

https://www.famicity.com/en/sign-up

My guess is that FamilySearch will have a lot of partners in the future. Right now in addition to the existing partnerships, FamilySearch is recently added Famicity.com. Here is an introductory video for the new partner.


There is another video linked from their startup page. Here is a quote from the recent announcement by FamilySearch of the partnership.
Famicity is an intuitive, app-based tool. It is simple to use, and encourages more communication between family members. Stories, photos, and videos are easily added and conveniently time stamped. It also allows users to give other family members permission to add to a story. 
Today, families are spread out geographically and lean heavily on technology like social media to communicate and share family moments. Websites like Facebook aim to bring families closer together; however, these websites can be overwhelming and lack family focus with all the content being posted by a growing subscription of friends. Famicity is private and allows invited family members to focus on sharing and preserving family-focused content. 
Created from the beginning as a social media platform, “Famicity understands the needs of FamilySearch.org users and that's why we've reinvented social media for each and every member of a family to bond, grow, and celebrate their lives privately and securely,” said Famicity co-founder Guillaume Languereau. “Famicity members can already create their family tree on their own. This partnership makes it even easier for FamilySearch members to sign up with their account and automatically upload their family tree into Famicity to start an online family reunion in private.”
 Presently, the program is free.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

#RootsTech 2018 Now Open for Registration



 #RootsTech 2018 is now open for registration. This year's theme is Connect. Belong. The conference will be held February 28 through March 3, 2018 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Quoting from the website:
RootsTech is excited to add a theme to the annual conference: Connect. Belong. We love this concept as it encompasses what family history adds to our lives. We understand that the journey of connecting and belonging is different for everyone, and while each of our experiences and journeys is unique, family history connects us in many different ways and helps us feel a sense of belonging. 
It’s our goal at RootsTech to advance your personal journey. Come see what’s new at the conference this year, make connections, and discover where you belong.
 Of course, I will be an Ambassador again this year.


Look for genealogy resources in your local library

http://www.proquest.com/libraries/public/genealogy/

If you are just a casual user of your local public library, you may not be aware of your library's online, digital reference collections. Your library's offerings may vary considerably depending on local funding. For example, The Maricopa County Library District has an extensive online reference section. Here is a screenshot:


Of course, you will need a library card to access the collections.  Many of these collections can be accessed from your own home. One of the most extensive collections of genealogical research material in the collection is the Gale Genealogy Connect collection.

http://solutions.cengage.com/genealogy-connect/features/

Here is a description from the website:
Gale Genealogy Connect features a wide range of comprehensive references and is powered by authoritative information from Genealogical.com – the parent company of Genealogical Publishing and Clearfield Company, leading publishers of works on genealogy and family history. These unique references – available for the first time in a fully searchable format – cover such topics as genealogy best practices; research methods and sources; immigration; royal and noble ancestry; and much more.
The Maricopa County Library District has both the Gale Genealogy Connect collection but also the ProQuest.com collection shown above. ProQuest.com is one of the major suppliers of such online reference information. They have a rather impressive free online collection that rivals the FamilySearch Family History Center Portal.

Your library may also have many local and state historical records of interest in your genealogical research. If you happen to live in a small town like I do here in Provo, Utah, your local library's offerings might be very limited.

http://www.provolibrary.com/digital-downloads

Fortunately, many larger libraries offer memberships, i.e. library cards, to nonresidents for the payment of a fee. You might check out your county library or a library in a nearby large city. As I have mentioned before, large university libraries also have online collections. However, few of these collections are available by remote access.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Women, Property, Inheritance and Genealogy -- Part One: Some background

Elizabeth Tanner Will 1763
I could write a book or a series of books about any one of the topics in the title of this post. Wait a minute! I have written (or helped write) a series of books about genealogy (search for my name on Amazon.com), but that still leaves women, property, and inheritance. We do have a book about probate. See the following Worldcat.com entry:

Eakle, Arlene H., and James L. Tanner. 2015. The ins and outs of probate for genealogists research guide. Morgan, UT: Family History Expos.


There is also a book used as a textbook at Brigham Young University entitled as follows:

Salmon, Marylynn. 1992. Women and the law of property in early America. Chapel Hill [u.a.]: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

At the end of this post, I will provide a list of additional books on these subjects. But now it is time to write more specifically about women, property, and inheritance.

The first word that comes to mind when talking about the history of laws in America is diversity. Unfortunately, this term has come to have two radically different definitions: differences in the laws from one city, county or state to another and the employment of different racial, gender and ethnic individuals by law firms. The diversity I am writing about is the difference in laws between different jurisdictions. In fact, every one of the original U.S. Colonies had their own and substantially different laws concerning women, property rights, and inheritance. These differences have been carried over into substantial differences in the laws throughout the 50 states and 3,142 counties or county equivalents. 

To get some idea about the scope of jurisdictional diversity in the United States here is a short analysis of the counties and county equivalents in the United States today from Wikipedia:  List of United States counties and county equivalents.
Instead of counties, Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes which are functionally similar to counties. Alaska is divided into 19 organized boroughs and a single Unorganized Borough. The United States Census Bureau has divided the Unorganized Borough of Alaska into 10 census areas for federal census and planning purposes. The 38 cities in the state of Virginia are independent cities, which are not considered part of a particular county, and the states of Maryland, Missouri, and Nevada each have one independent city which is not considered part of a particular county. The Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget consider the 64 parishes, 19 organized boroughs, 10 census areas, 41 independent cities, and the District of Columbia, though not the Unorganized Borough, to be equivalent to counties for statistical purposes.
By USA Counties.svg: U.S. Census Bureauderivative work: Abe.suleiman (talk) - USA Counties.svg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9416002

























Unknowingly, genealogists tend to think of the past as an extension of the present rather than the other way around. I am also guessing that most genealogists view the past with more uniformity than actual historical reality would suggest. This is particularly true about women's rights, property rights and the customs, processes, procedures, laws, and regulations affecting inheritance. Genealogists, like most of the population, also tend to view subjects such as women's rights in the light of recent developments and attitudes. They also tend to view the changes that have occurred most recently as "progress" and additionally filter all writing or discussion on the subject through a heavy-handed censoring mechanism based on vague concepts of "political correctness." Subsequently, there is a danger in writing about a combination of the subjects that anything I write will be controversial.

Never being one to shy away from controversy, I am determined to launch off into a discussion of the interrelationship of these three subjects.

The issue of diversity jurisdiction was addressed in the United States Constitution, Article 3, Section 2, Clause 1:
The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
This provision of the United States Constitution was amended by the 11th Amendment:
Amendment XI
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.
I mention this because genealogical research extends back in time before the formation of the United States and any application of the United States Constitution.  At the time of the formation of the United States, the framers of the U.S. Constitution were concerned about the diversity of laws between the various colonies. The United States Supreme Court was set up as the ultimate arbiter between the states. From a genealogical standpoint, it is important to understand both the extent and pervasiveness of the diversity that existed between the colonies with regards to the laws pertaining to women, property, and inheritance.

This is also an important principle that needs to be understood by any historical researcher including genealogists. For example, I began this post with a screenshot of a will executed by one of my ancestors in Rhode Island in 1763. Here is a quote from an article entitled, "Married Women's Property Laws" from the Law Library of Congress website:
During the nineteenth century, states began enacting common law principles affecting the property rights of married women. Married women's property acts differ in language, and their dates of passage span many years. One of the first was enacted by Connecticut in 1809, allowing women to write wills. The majority of states passed similar statutes in the 1850s.29 Passed in 1848, New York's Married Women's Property Act was used by other states as a model: 
AN ACT for the effectual protection of the property of married women.
Passed April 7, 1848.
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly do enact as follows:
Sec. 1. The real and personal property of any female who may hereafter marry, and which she shall own at the time of marriage, and the rents issues and profits thereof shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband, nor be liable for his debts, and shall continue her sole and separate property, as if she were a single female.
Sec. 2 The real and personal property, and the rents issues and profits thereof of any female now married shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband; but shall be her sole and separate property as if she were a single female except so far as the same may be liable for the debts of her husband heretofore contracted.
Sec. 3. It shall be lawful for any married female to receive, by gift, grant devise or bequest, from any person other than her husband and hold to her sole and separate use, as if she were a single female, real and personal property, and the rents, issues and profits thereof, and the same shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband, nor be liable for his debts.
Sec. 4. All contracts made between persons in contemplation of marriage shall remain in full force after such marriage takes place.30
I have left in the footnote references. Note, I have a copy of the will executed by my female ancestor in 1763. This quote from the Library of Congress seems to indicate that Connecticut was the first state or one of the first states to enact laws allowing women to execute wills in 1809. I think we have to be careful as genealogists to sift out historical reality from present-day political correctness. By the way, the statement made by this article from the Library of Congress is the commonly accepted position with regards to early women's rights in America. It is also the reason why I begin this discussion by referring to the issue of jurisdictional diversity.

Stay tuned for future installments.