Showing posts with label Family Search. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family Search. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NGS Pre-Conference Sessions

The NGS Conference pre-sessions are well worth an extra day or two. As a brief re-cap of the activities I attended on Tuesday, I will highlight some tidbits learned.

#LibrariansDay
This yearly staple for librarians who handle genealogical collections was held in the gorgeous Library of Virginia. Our opening session featured Leslie Anderson from the Alexandria Library as she covered their transcription project: Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853-1862. The project was originally the child of the WPA back in the 1930s. However, the microfilm copies were atrocious and needed to be re-processed. As a labor of love, they re-transcribed the records and have published them in a book available throughHeritageBooks.com
We were also treated to sessions about re-thinking the contents of your genealogy vertical files, Family Search Wiki, Proquest products, and an exploration of the Civile War Legacy Project based out of the Library of Virginia. This project is focused on digitizing personal Civil War collections throughout the state. If you live in Virginia, be on the look out for a scanning date in your area! They are bringing their digitization equipment to a town near you!
Blogger Dinner Presented by Family Search:
At the NGS blogger dinner last night, Family Search let us in on a few new developments.

They have added more content to their Civil War records to their collections.

Their indexing software is moving to a browser based model, which means you will no longer have to download software in order to participate in indexing projects. 
Since mobile applications are evermore important to users, FS is developing more in-depth mobile apps for both platforms. If you would like to test their new mobile apps, just send your name and operating system (iOS or Android) to: fs-mobile@familysearch.org

The obituary indexing project is their biggest project at present. On July 21-22, they will be hosting another crowd sourcing indexing event to get 20,000 users indexing during a 24 hour period. Be on the look out for announcements about that upcoming fun.

The obituary indexing project is extremely large....when finished, they will be four times as large as the 1940 census! 

That's it for the moment...more to come!
Evernote helps you remember everything and get organized effortlessly. Download Evernote.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

#FGS2013 - That's a Wrap Folks!

For my final blog post on this, the last day of FGS, I will aim to make things a little more visual for those of you who did not get to attend - while reflecting on the good, the quirky, and not so good moments of an overall great conference!

Obvious Distractions:
First of all, I loved the venue. Very spacious and contemporary. For those quick enough to have snagged a room at the Hilton, or even the Marriott, this had to be an even better experience (My new conference goal from now on - staying in the adjoining hotel - it does make a difference, comfort-wise). Probably my only complaint, which could have been remedied by the conference planners: we needed charging stations! The plugs for charging devices were few and far between....or just in a hallway with no bench. Floor campers next to the plugs was a common sight.
Second: Even though I love it when we have major conferences in cities with huge genealogical libraries nearby....be forewarned that this increases your stress level exponentially! We have all learned the cardinal rule of conference attendance: PACE YOURSELF.....ummm, that rule flies out the window when there is this temple of family history sitting there, every day, just taunting you to come inside and discover more ancestors - late into the evening hours. I am in no way criticizing this treat as I am used to this taunt in Salt Lake City during RootsTech....but if the 2013 group of FGS attendees seems even more exhausted than usual, cut them some slack...they had a lot competing for their potential sleep hours! Below are some snaps of the gorgeous, accommodating and welcoming Allen County Public Library - and I will send out a big THANK YOU to her staff and volunteers. They were awesome!!! I hope someone sends them some cake, just for the amount of reshelving alone!

Mums the Word!
Ok, I was one of those singing the praises of the un-conferencing sessions that are so popular at RootsTech. So, naturally, I was delighted to see this concept included at FGS (called GenSpiration Sessions) - apparently this was the third year offering this feature - but no one got excited about this option. In fact, it was so sad to see the four boards that represented each day of the conference, sitting there, practically naked every day. I think throughout the course of the conference, only two brave souls posted a session for folks to attend. I have not given up on this concept and I hope the conference planners give it another try. I'm really hoping it gains popularity soon!

Chirp Chirp!
Twitter was once again a hugely favorite way to keep up with attendees this year! The hashtag #FGS2013 was trending due to the frequency and volume of tweets coming out of Fort Wayne. The conference planners featured this activity with a large screen running the visibletweets.com site to display the activity. It was very pretty and colorful, with very large print to read across the room. I liked this display, but I found that I soon got tired of it since it was not real-time....instead, running tweets that could be as old as 14+ hours. With a real-time stream of the hashtag activity, non-Twitter users might have better understood the shear popularity and high-octane vibe that comes with this rapid fire/energetic form of social communication.
Oh, and which option did I end up going with to advertise my Twitter use? I went with the round sticker! It fit just fine with the FGS logo below, and yet, didn't get lost in my ribbon trail.
Telling Stories 21st Century Style:
The current trend of supplementing your genealogy with stories and memories is not losing any steam. Perhaps the trend is not as strong as at RootsTech, but look at this lovely little addition to the exhibit hall by Family Search to capture the stories of those who were willing to share! I'm thinking the addition of plexi partitions might lessen the distraction that had to be felt by person in the spotlight!
Technology Transitions:
Kudos to the FGS folks again for keeping the Cyber Cafe concept alive and well! I think the addition of charging stations around the couches would go over swimmingly with this crowd. With each new conference, the technology is changing fast! By far, I saw more tablets this year than ever before. Some are still using laptops, and I admit to bringing mine for my blogging back in the room during the evenings, but I too have transitioned into being a tablet attendee, and my shoulders love me for it! I did hear some complaints about the wi-fi being too spotty, etc. I didn't have too much of a problem with this - but the deeper I went into the building during sessions, the weaker the signal got....at least in my experience.
Announcements:
One thing I adore about conferences is the cutting edge announcements that get released during the crowded events. It is one reason why bloggers are given access to a media hub - they want us all to get excited and spread the word! For 2013, the biggest announcement by far was the 2015 merger of RootsTech and FGS in Salt Lake City. Apparently this is a one time only merger, but it does move FGS into February that year. It also means these two conferences will take up the entire Salt Palace Convention Center - I heard folks already talking about whether they could reserve their hotel room this early! Yep, I admit, this one got me really excited too - come on 2015! The other news released to us was by Family Search - lots of upcoming projects and developments, including new discovery centers and satellite locations for RootsTech....I will cover some of those more in-depth at a later date.
We Fired Our Guns....
And don't forget about the Preserve the 1812 Pension Project! This was the theme for the entire conference, which made for a very visually arresting set of events and activities - complete with quilts and ballgowns! Here is a link for you to join the effort and learn more!
Another Triumph, Mrs. Cratchit!
I cannot thank the conference planners and ACPL staff enough! This was a great city choice, a great venue, and things went swimmingly...except for a few snags that are common with every conference...I do not envy you your job, but I am increasingly impressed with how well things progressed, and how much you made our conference experience another rousing success!
THANK YOU!!!
I would say "see you all next year"....but San Antonio might be just too far out of my travel range. But
seriously, if you can make it....this conference, in beautiful San Antonio?! Go for it! And don't forget to blog/tweet it for me so I can experience it vicariously!
Night all! Let the post conference coma commence!!
C
P.S. The rest of the blogging crew did a wonderful job! Thanks to Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings who gathered all of our posts into one place for easy browsing: http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/08/fgs-conference-blog-compendium.html

Thursday, August 22, 2013

FGS Day 2!

The highs and lows at a conference never cease to amaze me - not lows emotionally, just physically. Lots of caffeine and general excitement keep me going, but as FGS rolls along, I encounter new things each day. For Day 2, I met some more bloggers that I recognized - I also met a Twitter buddy who revealed her appearance after I asked to meet her :-) Thanks Marcy - great to meet you! The exhibit hall also opened, which naturally allows everyone to reconnect again while they shop and learn new things at the many wonderful booths.
The exhibit hall is very nice this year, spacious with many familiar faces and brands. No big surprises that I can see yet. Probably the weirdest part of the exhibit hall has to be the societies section or gallery. All of the local/state societies affiliated with FGS are clustered together behind the main FGS booth. However, the spacing is so tight within these two rows, it is like running a genealogy gauntlet. If you take into consideration the bulky swag bags we are all carrying, movement in tandem, yet opposite directions, begins to resemble a game of twister.

Some highlights from Day 2, including session tidbits:

Big announcement for 2015 - RootsTech and FGS will occur at the same time within the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City!!

Late night in the exhibit hall - lots of door prizes.
Got to meet up with a good portion of the FGS Blogger Ambassadors!

Preserving the War of 1812 Pensions effort - very prominent part of the conference, and some groups are giving away fantastic door prizes within various donation levels.

Inland Rivers Library by Patricia Van Skaik:
Great collection at the Cincinnati Public Library - for ancestors who worked in the inland shipping/river transportation industry. Many clues for researching further can be found in regular records, such as census, which might list an occupation. Naval records can also provide great info on these ancestors. Navigation maps list very obscure towns or communities along the rivers.

Family Search Luncheon: Star Wars Family Tree and a virtual demonstration of the new Discovery Centers - first Discovery Center will open in Seattle Washington!
Railroad Research by Patricia Walls Stamm:
One of the most difficult of records to locate. Golden age of railroads - 1900-1950. Many repositories of records exist, but lots of work needed to locate the ones you need. Best record if you can find one - Railroad Retirement Board, which covers service from 1937.

I know this is a short report for today, but I am holding some things back for a final report sometime Saturday.
See you all tomorrow!
C

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

FGS Pre-Conference Events

Welcome to Fort Wayne, Genealogists!!! What a great conference so far! I know....the city is just now getting more crowded and the hotel parking lots are swarming as of this evening, but for some of us, the FGS experience got started yesterday upon arrival. Some folks got an early start on their research at the Allen County Public Library, or kicked off the week with some social connections. Despite a late arrival time of yesterday, my FGS experience started today with the annual Librarians' Day. We had a really great crowd that was instructed on budget challenges, crisis intervention, and collaboration strategies. In one session, we were given some breaking news regarding Michigan records: Michigan Death Records from 1926-1952 will be available very soon via Seeking Michigan - including full digitized images for free!
We also listened to Elaine Kuhn from Kenton County Public Library who covered the collaborative work they were initiating locally to find and digitize the many wonderful unique photographs that filled their site: Faces and Places.....trivia: most clicked on picture in their database: Military Order of the Cootie 
After a lovely lunch provided by ProQuest, the rest of our day was filled with a 'behind the scenes tour' of the Allen County Public Library. My group tour guide was Curt Witcher himself, who shared his knowledge and enthusiasm in a most welcoming and encouraging way! We not only wandered through the back stacks hidden from public view, but we also got to see processing areas, the Lincoln vault and the digitization stations for both Family Search and Internet Archive. 
The Internet Archive stations were numerous and filled with volunteers who were busy scanning page after page of content. We were also told that the pages being scanned in front of us would more than likely be online within 24 hours! 
Despite being exhausted by the busy day, dinner was another exciting event: the blogger dinner hosted by Family Search. We were given the late breaking news about a new director for the LDS library in Salt Lake: Diane L. Loosie. I suspect we will hear much more from her throughout the conference.
Family Search also gave us some sneak peeks into their upcoming Discovery Centers that will be seen across the country at various tourist locations - in major cities - stay tuned for more developments. RootsTech was also a major issue as they will be including 600 satellite locations while providing more sessions online via a virtual attendance option. They are anticipating another jump in physical attendance to 8,000-10,000 in 2014!
Well that's about it.....I am writing this while sitting in the hotel, trying to watch Who Do You Think You Are at the same time....welcome to the dimension of ultra multi-tasking!!! Happy conference going! More tomorrow as things officially kick off! Thanks to those who planned a great Librarians' Day and Blogger Dinner!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

RootsTech: Virtual Edition

This past week marked the return of the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City! Unfortunately, this also marked the first year that I was not able to attend the conference in person. Despite my satellite position, I was still very excited about participating in a virtual manner. In fact, this was the culmination of some of my earliest desires three years ago when I gave my first review of this brand new conference. Way back then...or yesterday as it seems...I knew this was a different kind of conference, and with technology at its base, I knew it had the potential to reach multitudes beyond the on-site attendance crowd. And so here we are, three years later. For 2013, the on-site attendance has more than doubled to 6700+ and the virtual attendance number has grown to over 10,000 (per the opening session estimates). As a first time virtual attendee, let's dig in to see how things went!

1. Video streaming: This was live! Ok, the main thing I REALLY miss about not being there in person is the energy that just flows throughout this conference. From the opening pep rally (session) to the colorful and gadget flashing exhibit hall to the sessions and to the continuous conversations that flow among the attendees, this is without a doubt my favorite conference for sheer energy and idea production. While I was very excited about the live video streaming of a few sessions each day, I didn't think it would be quite the same. But I have to admit, by watching live, plus following along via Twitter, I still felt like I was part of the energy! Granted, I am a full-time librarian, which means I couldn't drop everything and watch every live session, but throughout my day, I was constantly aware of the live sessions coming up in my next break or at lunch or even after work, and it managed to keep me in tune with the "live" nature of the conference. Not to mention, checking the Twitter feed was an instant energy dose at any given moment.

I also have to compliment the conference organizers for the great quality of the live feed. I was really worried when I first joined the feed to watch Thursday morning. It took a little while to load, and on my iPad I encountered the flash symbol which had me scrambling for my Puffin browser. I heard later that they did have an iOS version of the feed that was up and running soon that morning, but I just stayed with Puffin for most of the conference. However, the quality of the feed was still fantastic, which again, added to the virtual experience. Oh, and they were super fast about getting the previous day sessions online - which are still there to view at your leisure - so if you missed them, hop on over there and have your own virtual conference!

2. Free conference materials: Syllabus print-outs and exhibitor list! I know, a free exhibitor list is standard online equipment for any conference these days, but having this list to look over and click through the various web sites for each exhibitor is, again, a bit more exciting than the standard non-tech conference. Since the exhibitors are tech-flavored and sometimes brand new tech-introductions, which can be sampled from the comfort of my own home, their exploration quickly becomes a tech treat, not to be missed!

Having the syllabus material on hand to print out or save for later reading was fantastic! I know it's not the same as attending in person, but it gives the virtual attendee something to chew on, and provides valuable information about the subject. Love it!

3. Social media: Twitter/Blogs, etc. For me, the social media aspect really enhanced my virtual experience! With the various tools being used by many attendees (both in-person and virtual), we all rocked the collaboration/community aspect of this conference. This was what allowed the conference to interact with 16,700+ people, and not just 6700. Twitter was probably my favorite tool as it allowed instant conversations to form, plus many folks shared links and photos throughout the conference that added icing to the conference cupcake. The blogging was and still is trickling in....I always love going through the official blogger list since these folks usually provide great daily re-caps. However, while the genealogy official bloggers kept things hopping, I was very confused about the selection of non-genealogy bloggers included on the official list. At first, I thought this was a really cool idea - bringing in fresh impressions to expose them to the value and excitement of this conference - but that quickly faded as I counted 8 out of 27 non-genealogy bloggers (a pretty big number in my book) - none of which has yet to blog one thing about RootsTech, or their possible experience there. Except for Sistas in Zion - these ladies rocked it, and I LOVED their posts/Twitter feed! Their blogging at this event was, I'm sure, what organizers had hoped for, but it was extremely sad to see the others given official blogger status without any response on their blog! Speaking from the genealogy community, I found that very insulting. I would have rather seen some new genealogists blogging their experiences rather than the main streamers who remained uninterested. Did any of them besides Sistas in Zion even attend?

Video also seemed to remain a huge product that comes out of RootsTech. Thanks to our video/blogging/podcasting veterans in genealogy land, we always end up with great video take-aways from behind the scenes! Also, the new HOA video features from Google+ were a new hit with folks. I look for more of these sessions throughout next year's conference!

Fin: Well, that's about it for my virtual experience this year. I will keep checking in on the Twitter feed and the blogger posts as folks continue to blog about their 2013 experiences - which should continue for several weeks. Plus, I also look forward to more canned sessions being posted on the RootsTech site within the coming weeks and months - which keeps the experience going! BTW, I see they have already posted the dates for RootsTech 2014 - Feb. 6-8. Not sure which way I will attend next year, but either way will still be a great experience!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NGS2012 Reflections: Part 2 "Review"

I am going to use the word "Review" a bit loosely here as I've only been to a handful of genealogy conferences, and NGS2012 was only my second NGS conference. However, once everyone returns home, there are always moments or features/events that stick out in your mind - both good and bad. Here are some of my observations about this year's NGS:
1. Syllabus on a Stick! Yes please! Love this current trend/move in a future direction! CDs are nice, but flash drives are just more practical these days, especially with so many people traveling the conference circuit with their tablets. Most smaller devices, either tablets or netbooks don't come with CD-ROM drives, so this move to the flash drive concept is very attendee friendly! As you can see from my photo above, I did actually opt for buying the print syllabus as an additional perk, but there was really only one reason I did this - ok, maybe two - First, it was my first conference as a speaker, and I wanted something to pass down in tangible form to remember the event by - and Second, Cincinnati is within driving distance of my home, so I DID NOT have to get it home on a plane! This is probably the only time I will ever opt for the print version. As for syllabus access prior to the start of the conference, I did hear some complaints from my tech-savy friends who were wanting to download the syllabus and open it up to take notes while sitting in the session. Since everything came as pdf, this was not possible - but I think they found some work-arounds. Personally, this was not a problem for me as I am a stream of consciousness note taker. I open a new note on the tablet (in Evernote), title it to match the session I'm in and jot down what I want to remember. Sadly, I am not organized enough to later match my notes to the syllabus page, but someday....

2. 1940 Census - I finally got one of those darned t-shirts!! Ever since RootsTech, the Family Search folks have been walking around, wearing these cute advertisements for the census release - just taunting us and not offering the ability to actually get one! They had even said they might offer us the opportunity to purchase one from their web site, but they never got around to that option....Grrrrr! So, finally, the t-shirts were free for the taking at NGS2012 - one catch though, you had to sit and index TWO batches of the census! Two was a great idea in theory, but after watching the backlog of people trying to use one of the computer terminals, ONE batch per t-shirt would have been a much better arrangement! Oh - one other amazing memory - I got to meet the 1940 Census lady from NARA - Connie Potter - she is one of my genealogy heroes, and she was just as sweet in person!

3. Overall session offerings - Very nicely done! I liked the local track that was implemented (otherwise I would not have spoken this year) which catered to those who might research in the area further. The hardcore certification and citation sessions were here plus a very nice technology track to balance everything out.

4. Exhibit Hall - The space itself was a bit dated with the enormous concrete arena from the 1970s, but the offerings seemed pretty well balanced. I did notice a strong representation from the local groups which was awesome! I also noticed some major vendor players who were missing this year. The freebie swag was greatly lacking, but with this economy, I'm not at all surprised. The demo areas seemed to have an abundance of space, but the acoustics were terrible, and almost everyone was drowned out by the microphone on that side of the hall. I did like the upper deck view from the second floor which allowed you to stand at a window and gaze upon the exhibit hall floor. Pretty neat and a great reminder to those hopping between sessions, that the floor of fun was just waiting below!

5. Yep, There's an App for That! - Ever since RootsTech's introduction of the conference app, folks have been a bit giddy over the convenience something like that provided! For the NGS2012, they opted to use a company that was already in existence instead of creating one from scratch. They chose "Guidebook", which is free to download via smartphones and tablets. Once you have this app downloaded, you just search for the applicable conference that is coming up and save it to your list. While no one considered the RootsTech app to be perfect, we suddenly appreciated it more after using Guidebook. The NGS2012 app was decent and easy to use, but it was not inclusive. For the "my schedule" portion, I was only allowed to add things that were from the official schedule. Sadly, the official schedule did not include any extra events, such as evening events or pre-conference events. I was disappointed in the lack of this feature. Especially since the extra events were listed in the conference literature as NGS organized events. The luncheons were also paid options, but they were included in the app schedules. Even if they didn't want to include these evening events, the option to manually add events in my schedule would have made up for the oversight. The conference experience is fluid. You may know which sessions you want to attend before you get there, but break-out sessions or special, small group events pop up, and the ability to change with the event flow is a must for conference apps. Also, I was not getting any notifications from this app about upcoming events on my schedule. I eventually just switched to using my calendar on the iPhone to keep up with what was coming up.

6. Ribbons/Pins - Confession time - I am a blingy girly girl. I like colorful and shiny things, and I confess to liking the whole ribbon ensemble that goes with conference attendance. Not only is it fun to add more ribbons as you connect with your memberships and groups, but if you watch closely, you can make new friends within the groups you belong to! Plus, I confess to being just plain curious. I watch for the most recurrent ribbons to get a mental snapshot of some of the most popular member groups. There is even a ribbon for "librarians" and this made for a great connection on the professional level that I used more than once during the conference! As a side note, the pins are quite fun to watch as well! I usually buy the official pin for each conference that I attend, but alas, I have not been brave enough to wear any, nor have I really figured out how to wear them. I see all sorts of applications for this fashion perk, but, not yet ready to go out on that limb. Tip: Waiting in line for something? Use someone's ribbon as a conversation starter!
7. Complimentary wi-fi, provided by Family Search! This was such an amazing gift to conference goers! I remember the pain of the Charleston Conference when signals were blocked and even some cell phone services were blocked to the point of having to step outside to make a phone call! This 2012 change was wonderful and served to promote the whole idea of the social experience. Folks were able to tweet and blog to their hearts content without a stutter! I had heard the capacity was a bit small, but the connection issues were not that problematic, and most people were getting online in their turn. Bravo Family Search!

8. Wrap Up - Favorite Memories of NGS2012: Sharing the Barton Papers with my fellow researchers - and the wonderful Pendleton County Historical Society ladies that helped out with my lecture! (I hope to post about this lecture topic as it is a vital resource for Northern Kentucky researchers!) Meeting up with more bloggers - I seriously love this group of people, and am already excited about the next time we get to meet up! Getting to meet the 1940 census queen, Connie Potter (see #2). Having so many local groups as booth neighbors especially the fun Kentucky folks (KHS, KGS, KDLA, AAGGKY)! Meat and potatoes of sessions this year - lots to sink my teeth into, and still absorbing my notes! Having the whole family working the Pastology booth with Chris and I this year - and the moment my Dad was unceremoniously introduced to the "Cloud" - I had to explain it to him after someone asked him about our relation to said "Cloud" - priceless! Having some old friends make the trip and help out with the booth (and wander around buying cupcakes)- Thanks Peggy! Getting a glimpse into where some of the major vendor players are heading in our field! Sharing some of my hometown with the national community!
Toodles from the Queen City!

Monday, April 2, 2012

1940 Census - News From the Trenches

As we approach the noon hour on this historic morning of the official 1940 Census release by the National Archives, I wanted to document my experiences so far.....and share the one image I was able to download.

The morning began with anticipation tweets, a half hour press conference, and then tweets of frustration as very few people were able to download anything. It was clear the servers were just not up to the momentous task, and we all continue to wait for bigger servers, or at least for the rush to slow down for improved search results.

Having your enumeration numbers ready was a clear headstart since all portions of the NARA site were painfully slow. I had thought of another enumeration district I could look up while waiting, but even the maps and descriptions would not load for me.

By using the enumeration district you can search much quicker, and as you can see from the image below, they have the option of searching by either 1930 or 1940 ED. This can be very helpful if you have not done your homework ahead of time. Ancestry.com has opened up their 1940 related documents until April 10th, which includes the 1930 Census. Since their servers are running much faster, just pop over there to get your 1930 ED while you wait!
Once I put in the search for my 1940 ED, I was taken to a results page that listed Map images, Description Images and Census Schedules. The Census Schedule is the NEW Census image which is the one we have been waiting for!
But alas, clicking on that link this morning is where people have been shut out almost completely. It times out, shows a broken link or an error. Hovering your mouse over the spinning wheel that appears to be loading something will give you a menu of "Quick View, View Full Screen or Download". As many have reported, going to full screen and then choosing "Download" seems to yield the best results. I opted for "Quick View" then "Full Screen" while in the Quick View, and then chose "Download" the one page only. After many tries at various combinations, I finally had my first real image at about 11:30AM. The winner for today was the first page of the ED 96-6 from Pendleton County Kentucky!
The surnames on this page are: Kidwell, Brooks, Record, Pribble, Shoemaker, Woodyard, Gilham, VanLandingham, Jett, McClanahan, Parr, Norris, Flaugher, Moore and Miller. Unfortunately, there are 18 pages for the 96-6 ED alone, so I will be taking a break from the action before I try for more pages. I had tried right away after this success, but was encountering the same problems as earlier - and a girl can only take so much spinning!

Some other news regarding access as of noon April 2nd:

Ancestry.com has won the access race so far. They received the images at 12:01AM and have been loading images for browsing since then. As of noon today, they had 11 states/territories available for browsing - and I must say, the images loaded very fast. I didn't even need an ED as there were drop-downs to let me choose state, county, community which then took me to an ED area for browsing. Very fast, and as they add more states, I will be using them for browsing unless the NARA system improves considerably. I think Ancestry is the dark horse today as most people will be flooding NARA and not bothering with Ancestry access - which means their less traffic will make for smoother sailing.
FamilySearch only has one state up for browsing as of noon: Delaware. Nice page for searching and progress, plus the images loaded very fast.....but with only one state by noon, Ancestry is winning!
MyHeritage has a lovely 1940 Census page exploring the culture and times, and announces that they will have content from the 1940 Census that no one else will: "See new unpublished records first - We'll be uploading data for US States that aren't yet available anywhere else, so you'll be the first to explore them!" However, as of noon, they have not posted any images from the 1940 Census.
Well that's it for now....I'm taking a break. Hopefully others will too and as the intensity slows down, so will the traffic, and things might get a chance to stabilize. This not a failure folks but a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone - from the server side to the user side! Can't wait for 2022 when the 1950 Census comes out! We will all have a good laugh about our 2012 access struggles :-)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spreading the 1940 Census Hype!

I have been sorely remiss about fulfilling my 1940 Blog Ambassador duties, but I have an excuse.....I've been very busy filling that responsibility over at the History Burgoo blog site for KHS. As some of that activity tapers down to a slower pace, and as we all wait for April 2nd, I find myself mulling over some questions and tips that might be helpful as we get towards C-Day (Census Day).

1. Audience: I have been so focused on my genealogy friends and acquaintances, that I had been forgetting about my general friends and family. We all work or live in a world where you know the genealogically receptive people in your sphere, and usually censure your conversations accordingly - while I love to tell non-genealogists stories, I know their eyes will glaze over immediately if I slip into source citation or pedigree recitations. But recently, while attending a family funeral, I was checking myself, and letting the census info fly! It was kind of liberating, but we need to remember that the closer April 2nd gets here, the more we can hype this to our general friends and family! I am now making it a point to use this as a conversation starter regardless of the audience. Hopefully we'll snag some younger folks permanently into the world of genealogy/family history!

2. Questions: As excited as I am about this event, there are many questions that remain:

I'm not concerned about finding my family in the NARA images. I know which family units were rural and therefore easily findable. I also know which family units were young nomads in big cities, so I'm content with waiting on the index for them.

Some of us are concerned about image viewing on the 2nd - will it be able to support all of us? Word from Archives.com is that the system was designed to hold 25,000 viewers at one time. Ok, I guess this will test the volume of genealogy users - take note industry - this could be VERY interesting!

Then, how about the index? I am already signed up and have been indexing regular records as well the 1940 simulation batches to be prepared. But we are still not clear on how the batches will be released for the real 1940 census. On what date will the first batches be ready? Which batches will be ready first? At RootsTech, FamilySearch hinted that larger population states, such as New York would be released first.....but since so many things have changed since then, we're not sure if that is true anymore. If it is, what is the state release schedule going to be like? Also, I've had patrons ask if they can index their county - which would be great since FamilySearch was wanting "community experts" to be involved for the best accuracy possible - but we have not heard if county level batches will be available - somehow I doubt it.

Alternate indexing entities: So we know that Ancestry and MyHeritage are joining in the hype by advertising that they too will have an index. However, they have not revealed how or when this will happen. We know they will not have advance access to the images - they will get them the same time FamilySearch and the rest of the gang gets them to start our volunteer indexing projects. So who will index for Ancestry and MyHeritage? Since they have not called for volunteers and did not join up with the group that will be coordinating the massive nation-wide indexing project, I'm very curious as to how they will get this done, and who will be doing their indexing. FamilySearch advertised that they want community experts to volunteer so the interpretation of writing/surnames can be the most accurate. Yet, Ancestry and MyHeritage are not asking for any such thing. MyHeritage has even advertised that they will guarantee a 98% accuracy rate. Hmmmm, exactly how will that be achieved? As a company whose headquarters is across the ocean - I hope they will not be using non-US folks to do the indexing. The same goes for Ancestry - I hope these two companies are not planning on outsourcing their indexing just to get it done faster. I really think both companies should put out some disclosure on this aspect of their indexing model. Either way, I know who will be indexing through the community project - good ole local Americans who look at these records or hear these surnames everyday - which is why - the only index I'm going to trust once finished is the collaborative edition that we have all worked on together! (the1940census.com)

3. Homework: And so, I am still sorely behind on gathering my addresses for the people I want to find. I am not concerned about the rural farmers who lived in the same area for decades - they will be right where I left them in the 1930 census. But, since it is important to take a family inventory of who would have been alive in 1940, and narrow down our location to have the enumeration district numbers ready for April 2nd.....here are just a few of the people I will be looking for, and the challenges associated with each.
Uncle Myron and Aunt Anna Beyersdoerfer (brother and sister) - due to the questions raised by this photo in 1935, I will be VERY interested in their incomes listed and residences in 1935 versus 1940. Anna may be hard to find since she was listed in a few different residences in Cincinnati at the time - but I will find her eventually. For more info about why I am curious, see one of my earliest blog posts: Looking at Anna.
The Pace siblings: Nomadic group of brothers and sisters who did travel quite a bit in the Ohio and Kentucky areas due to work circumstances. Also, sisters all married, so need to find all the surnames, etc. This group alone will take some digging to have all of my info ready for searching each one.

The Pace childrens' Mama: Fannie Pace Cottle. I know roughly where she was living, but some of the supplemental answers on the Census will give me significant information about a woman I never had the pleasure of meeting.
My Paternal Grandparents: Charles and Bessie Daniels. Still living in the heart of downtown Cincinnati for 1940, but I need to ask my Dad where he thinks they were living at the time, because this side of the family, despite having moved around a lot over the years, still had this uncanny ability to point out every little spot they ever resided to proudly pass on that info to the next generation.
Speaking of Dad: He was born in 1939, so I think he would have looked just like this when the Census was taken :-)

Maternal Grandparents: Roy and Freida Watts: The boys in the middle here were not yet born, but the parents were fairly young newlyweds in 1940, possibly still living in Covington, since they hadn't fulfilled Pappa's dream of farm ownership until after the War. They might prove to be a bit elusive. 
Maternal Great Grandparents: John & Nellie Beyersdoerfer. On their Pendleton County farm in 1940 with probably only a couple of their kids still in the house.....but since "Ma" was known for feeding homeless ("hobos") men from the back porch during the depression, I will be interested to see what kind of income level a small family farm would have been bringing in at the time.

Anyway, these are the groups I'll be starting with - get busy everyone - it's almost here!
C
Here's a bit of fun from the Stooges as they take the 1940 Census :-) The first few minutes are priceless....."Are you married or happy?"

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