Archive for September, 2007

Out of Your Tree-Crazy About Genealogy!

Friday, September 28th, 2007

By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

Something that may take about fifteen minutes a day once it’s acquired, but in the meantime may take some searching online to find is the video, Out of Your Tree: Crazy About Genealogy by Robert Burns. The hardest part of this week’s search is finding the video in the first place. This is an out-of-print video, but probably one of the best and funniest videos dealing with more than 50 sources in under 45 minutes.

Produced in 1993, some of the technology shown at the end of the movie is dated to that era. However, the internal source content is special and a great quiz for beginners and advanced alike to see how many sources can be listed by the end of the film. (Hint: More than 50!)

Day One: Find a copy of Out of Your Tree: Crazy About Genealogy by Robert Burns, a VHS tape (if any readers have this on DVD, please contact the author at Amanda@worldvitalrecords.com). The most likely place to find it is in a library catalog at a library near you.

Day Two through Four: Watch Out of Your Tree: Crazy About Genealogy.

Day Five: Choose the source that either most appealed to you, or one that you were not previously aware of (if an advanced researcher) and try looking up the availability of that source type in an area of ancestral interest.

Day Six: Contact the repository for the item in day five and arrange to acquire a copy or go to FamilyLink.com and arrange for a local researcher to go to the repository for you to pick up the record.

Day Seven: If you have addresses for the repository or for the local researcher, write a personal thank you note, or send an e-card to the person or people responsible for helping you research.

As always, continue looking for great new content on WorldVitalRecords.com!

Finding the Right Family to Search

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

For novice and experienced researchers, there is a common question when coming to genealogy for the first time or coming back to it after a hiatus. That question is “With Which Family Do I Start?” (…or Continue?) Although simply choosing a random family may yield good results, there is often a certain tug or pull toward one ancestor or another. There may be a tug toward more than one at the same time. Either follow this tug or “ask them.”

The instant tug for one ancestor is how the author began her researching at a young age while looking over her grandmother’s pedigree charts. There was nothing more than a name and some vital information as part of a regular pedigree chart, but that simple information was enough to draw the attention of the author, and to never let go. After initially finding this ancestor’s family on census microfilm rolls at the National Archives in DC, and further work two years later, the author felt the first tug leave and a new tug take its place. Over the succeeding years, sometimes there is a tug, sometimes random circumstances draw together the answers to formerly “brick wall” questions.

During the author’s undergraduate studies, each semester would present a new project for which the author would need to choose a new family. The method for choosing which family or which person to search was a matter of pondering and prayer. While some reading this column may not believe in prayer, the author finds it helps in deciding what family to search. It can’t hurt!

Some may find the process difficult, choosing ancestors to which other relatives seem to be attached. For those who are having a difficult time deciding on an ancestor (none of them seem to be tugging particularly), exert mental effort and ask them. It actually works remarkably well for the author.

Ancestors do not line up in ghostly rows when trying to find out who to search. There may be an inkling of a particular pedigree chart to look at, or a parental line or side of the family that has not received attention in a number of years. Perhaps a relative or an ancestor has died, and their family or progenitors were not well-known. Asking which ancestor will help you the most, or who wants or deserves research done while at a particular archive or library may open unexplored avenues and develop friendships otherwise untapped.

Despite cultural, religious, or scientific boundaries, genealogical researchers can almost universally accede that they feel a “wanting to be connected” or instant drive when searching for deceased or living family members. Family is the core of human connectedness. Whether searching for unknown ancestors or for missing relatives who may still be alive, understanding one’s family reflects the process of understanding oneself.

For further reading: Unexplained tugging by ancestors are outlined in books such as Psychic Roots by Henry Z. Jones and his complementary volume, More Psychic Roots.

New NARA Database: Records of Awards and Decorations of Honor During the Vietnam Conflict

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

The new NARA database: Records of Awards and Decorations of Honor During the Vietnam Conflict is now online at WorldVitalRecords.com. It was created from May 1969 to March 1973 and contains more than 80,000 records. This database covers the period from Dec.1965-November 1972 and will be free to access until October 3, 2007.

The series contains information about some of the awards and decorations of honor awarded to U.S. military officers, soldiers, and sailors, and to allied foreign military personnel.

It does not contain information about all awards and decorations of honor presented during the Vietnam Conflict. The records include the name and grade of the recipient, recipient’s country and service, command and staff, the recommended award, and the approved award; several dates, including date of the related action, date the recipient was eligible to return from overseas, and date the award was received or forwarded; whether the award was presented in South Vietnam, and whether the award was posthumous.

Wonderbase of the Week: One-Half Million Virginia Records (15 Databases)

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

The Wonderbase of the Week at World Vital Records, Inc. contains more than one-half million records from Virginia (552, 119 records to be exact).

Each of the 15 databases containing records from Virginia will be free to access at WorldVitalRecords.com until October 4, 2007.

Here is a list of the new databases (with record counts to the right):

  • A History of Shenandoah, Virginia   79,000+
  • Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants: A History of Frederick County, Virginia (Illustrated) From its Formation in 1738 to 1908  72,461
  • The Border Settlers of Northwestern Virginia, 1768 – 1795   38,706
  • Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, 1775 – 1783  71,605
  • Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, 1916  29,375
  • History of Augusta County, Virginia  36,180
  • A History of Colonial Virginia, the First Permanent Colony in America  11,502
  • The Planters of Colonial Virginia  18,293
  • An Old Virginia Court: Being a Transcript of the Records of the First Court of Franklin County, Virginia, 1786 – 1789   19, 867
  • The Old Parish Churches of Virginia  2,376
  • Old King William Homes and Families: An Account of Some of the Homesteads and Families of King William County, Virginia, From its Earliest Settlement  16, 096
  • List of the Revolutionary Soldiers of Virginia:  Special Report of the Department of Archives and History for 1911, Part 1  35,385
  • List of the Revolutionary Soldiers of Virginia:  Special Report of the Department of Archives and History for 1911, Part 2   28,116
  • Virginia Valley Records: Genealogical and Historical Materials of Rockingham County, Virginia and Related Regions 43,331
  • A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia  49,826

World Vital Records, Inc.’s CEO, Paul Allen, Awarded Prestigious Utah Genealogical Association Fellow Award

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

World Vital Records, Inc.’s CEO, Paul Allen, Awarded Prestigious Utah Genealogical Association Fellow Award

PROVO, UT, September 25, 2007 — World Vital Records, Inc.’s CEO, Paul Allen, recently received the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) Fellow award at the 2007 UGA Annual Genealogical Conference held in Salt Lake City.

“UGA is pleased to present its highest award to Paul Allen. We recognize Allen’s long-time interest in trying to make genealogical information available to the public,” said Neal Southwick, UGA Award Committee Chair. “We applaud Allen’s leadership in the field of making genealogical resources more available on the Internet which affects genealogical enthusiasts worldwide.”

The UGA Fellow award is given annually to one or two living individuals in recognition of their contributions and on-going commitment to the field of genealogy that are major in scope. This may be evidenced by any combination of publications, teaching and speaking, or leadership. This may be evidenced by any combination of publications, teaching and speaking, or leadership.

Allen has made substantial contributions to the field of genealogy. He co-founded Ancestry.com in 1997 and was its first CEO. He also served in several major roles before leaving the company in 2002.

Allen is currently the CEO of World Vital Records, Inc., with a goal to provide access to billions of high quality records from all around the world to people who are doing genealogy and family history research. World Vital Records, Inc. also recently launched FamilyLink.com a free, social network for genealogists and families.

“I feel very humbled by the UGA award. This honor was made possible by the wonderfully talented team at World Vital Records, many of whom were with me in the early years at Ancestry. We really want to make a difference in the genealogy and family history space,” said Paul Allen, CEO, World Vital Records, Inc.

UGA Fellows have the privilege of using the post-nominals F.U.G.A., following their name. Paul will be numbered with a prestigious group of individuals that have FUGA status, such as Barbara Dodson Walker, President Emerita of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Kory L. Meyerink, AG, ProGenealogists.com, and Kip Sperry, CG, AG, Associate Professor of family history at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

“I am very pleased that Paul’s major contributions to genealogy have been recognized with this award. Having known him for a dozen years, I’ve appreciated the drive and passion he brings to his family history endeavors. It is particularly good to know that he won’t be stopping; Paul will continue to make genealogy easier and faster to do for years to come,” said Kory Meyerink, BS, MLS, AG, FUGA, ProGenealogists.com.

xxx

Media Contact

Whitney Ransom
Corporate Communications Director
World Vital Records, Inc.

http://www.worldvitalrecords.com

whitney@worldvitalrecords.com

About World Vital Records, Inc.

Founded in 2006, by Paul Allen and several key members of the original Ancestry.com team, World Vital Records, Inc. provides affordable genealogy databases and family history networking tools. With thousands of databases including birth, death, military, census, and parish records, WorldVitalRecords.com makes it easy for everyone and enjoyable to discover their family history. World Vital Records’ free social network for genealogists, FamilyLink.com, is currently in beta testing. Partners include Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., SmallTownPapers®, Accessible Archives, Ancestral Quest, Find A Grave, and FamilySearchâ„¢.

World Vital Records, Inc.’s CEO Awarded Prestigious Utah Genealogical Association Fellow Award

Monday, September 24th, 2007


Shown above: Paul Allen at right.

PROVO, UT, September 24, 2007 — World Vital Records, Inc.’s CEO, Paul Allen, recently received the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) Fellow award at the 2007 UGA Annual Genealogical Conference held in Salt Lake City.

“UGA is pleased to present its highest award to Paul Allen. We recognize Allen’s long-time interest in trying to make genealogical information available to the public,” said Neal Southwick, UGA Award Committee Chair. “We applaud Allen’s leadership in the field of making genealogical resources more available on the Internet which affects genealogical enthusiasts worldwide.”

The UGA Fellow award is given annually to one or two living individuals in recognition of their contributions and on-going commitment to the field of genealogy that are major in scope. This may be evidenced by any combination of publications, teaching and speaking, or leadership. This may be evidenced by any combination of publications, teaching and speaking, or leadership.

Allen has made substantial contributions to the field of genealogy. He co-founded Ancestry.com in 1997 and was its first CEO. He also served in several major roles before leaving the company in 2002.

Allen is currently the CEO of World Vital Records, Inc., with a goal to provide access to billions of high quality records from all around the world to people who are doing genealogy and family history research. World Vital Records, Inc. also recently launched FamilyLink.com a free, social network for genealogists and families.

“I feel very humbled by the UGA award. This honor was made possible by the wonderfully talented team at World Vital Records, many of whom were with me in the early years at Ancestry. We really want to make a difference in the genealogy and family history space,” said Paul Allen, CEO, World Vital Records, Inc.

UGA Fellows have the privilege of using the post-nominals F.U.G.A., following their name. Paul will be numbered with a prestigious group of individuals that have FUGA status, such as Barbara Dodson Walker, President Emerita of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Kory L. Meyerink, AG, ProGenealogists.com, and Kip Sperry, CG, AG, Associate Professor of family history at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

“I am very pleased that Paul’s major contributions to genealogy have been recognized with this award. Having known him for a dozen years, I’ve appreciated the drive and passion he brings to his family history endeavors. It is particularly good to know that he won’t be stopping; Paul will continue to make genealogy easier and faster to do for years to come,” said Kory Meyerink, BS, MLS, AG, FUGA, ProGenealogists.com.

Explanation of Searching Strategies at WorldVitalRecords.com

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

By Amanda Forson, World Vital Records, Inc.

Basic Search is good for fundamentally searching the site. For first-time users, for people just browsing, it is a good indicator of the content on the site. The largest search is just by last name. That will bring up the most hits. Because searches are as individual as the person being searched for, this should be the first step in looking for someone on WorldVitalRecords.com. After that, then looking over the results can aid in narrowing down possibilities. If there are multiple thousand results, and a person is sure of the first name (via other corroborated sources) then try putting in a first name. Some combinations of first names are more difficult to find exact matches than others, (John Smith), whereas others like Jared Quackenbush will only come up with one result.

Gaging a name or places is essential. The first steps to successful searching are having an idea of the name and misspellings of the name, the location (be it state, or county and state or district and province or township, county, and state, or other geo-political identifier) level. After trying Basic Search, the next step (if location is known) is to try putting in a state in the place search. This is more than initials for an abbreviation. This is typing out the full state name. There are some results in our databases, such as for Google Books that may not come up via the geographic search measures on the website, but will come up in an Advanced Search place (and name) search.

Date is best used with only a year indicated. Some users know a great deal already about an ancestor in question and want to know specific information. Try advanced search, but with more-broad search terms than an exact year of birth. What is often overlooked is that even though a user knows this information, not everyone does. Although genealogists and family historians, and others try to get their information right, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Knowing that a few mistakes may be made in a document, or that a first name may be abbreviated (Geo* is a good search term for George or J* may bring up a John that is otherwise listed as Jn), is vital knowledge for any researcher. Excluding a source from a search because of having exacting knowledge about an ancestor leads to possible disastrous effects.

While all researchers hope and pray that others posting information online or those who made queries in the past were always correct, the inexactness may lead to great openings and dissolution of brick walls. A Solomon Mosher in a census who is listed as a female can turn into Salemma Mosher, a multi-times over great grandmother of the author. Minims may be misplaced, and other factors become involved in searching. Whether it was the creation of the document (when, how, what was necessary in obtaining the information from people at the time), or possibility that the information that a user has may be less-correct than desired, allowing for options helps users find solutions. Do not expect all contributors to be perfect! Are we?

Another easy hint for searching involves using the state and international lists on View All Databases. Once a user has access to the site, play with it. Report inaccuracies, or mistakes to customer service and they will be willing to field emails and phone calls. Click on the different tabs at the top of the screen. See what they do and where they lead. When you feel you are lost, click on the main logo at the top of the screen. It will always lead you back to the home page.

For personal inquiries concerning search results or better searching, first try the FAQ at the bottom of the page and then contact Customer Service if your question is not answered there. There are genealogists on staff who will be able to answer most of your questions. Please do not expect them to know everything about your family. They know sources, not your great Aunt Margaret.

Thank you for choosing WorldVitalRecords.com. Our site improves as we receive feedback and would like to hear how this article has helped you or other questions that you have that you would like to share with others. For more information on this article, or to response with feedback, please contact newsletter@worldvitalrecords.com.

John Ivie: The Face That Launched A Thousand Databases In One Day

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007


Shown above: John Ivie, World Vital Records, Inc.

When John Ivie, senior content engineer at WorldVitalRecords.com, left his last
job at a genealogical company, his tasks were re-assigned to 14 people. John has set a standard for all who work at WorldVitalRecords.com – Do the work of at least 10 people in whatever job capacity you hold.

Ivie is the man behind the thousand database launch at WorldVitalRecords.com today, and has also prepped data for more than 10,000+ databases, and billions of records.

How does one accomplish the work of 14 others? Work smarter than your competitor.

“I build tools and eventually the tools get good enough that they can do the work on their own, without my help. A lot of time is spent upfront on the process, and then it just gets faster and faster as time moves on,” Ivie said. “After I get each database, I ask myself, ‘Is there a way I can get information about the data without going through it manually? How can I save keystrokes and save time?’”

Of course the data prep process Ivie uses still requires time and intelligence. For example, to launch 1,000 databases, here is the simplified process Ivie goes through to get the databases uploaded at WorldVitalRecords.com.

1. Get data from Quintin -comes in hard drive with lots of files
2. Copy files
3. Run an OCR process for each pdf (splits pdf into tif images and creates and xml file for each that tells the coordinates)
3a. Convert .tiff files into .jpg files
3b. Run batch file and get ID number which returns various items found in the source section of each database, such as title, author, publication data, etc. (Note: 3a & 3b are completed asynchronously.)

4. Determine metadata
5. Program goes through xml files, associates coordinate information with images and text information with the csv file
6. Index csv file
7. Copy database and images to external drive
8. Copy images to image server
9. Copy indexes to index servers
10. Copy information about the database to the database of databases
11. Refresh the servers.

The most exciting part of Ivie’s job is the good feeling he receives when he has been able to do a process faster and better. In essence, he has a talent for eliminated unnecessary steps in the data launching process.

After Ivie graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, he was hired to do technical support for Infobases, Incorporated. Ivie was also one of the first individuals to get involved with genealogy/family history work at Ancestry.com. During the years he worked for Ancestry, he helped to make billions of records, and thousands of databases available to the public. Ivie currently works full time at WorldVitalRecords.com.

WorldVitalRecords.com Launches More Than 1,000 Databases And 17 Million+ Records

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Woman in awe

Instead of launching one Wonderbase this week, WorldVitalRecords.com is launching several: New NARA database, and 1,000 new databases, including 19 volumes of the Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.These databases will be free to access until September 27, 2007.

Click here to view the list of all the new databases.

Wonderbase 1: 1,000 Database Launch

The 1,000+ database launch consists of a smorgasbord of excellent genealogical material containing more than 17 million records. Included in these databases are numerous family histories as well as state and local histories.

There are literally hundreds of family histories, some of the larger of which include the surnames of Donald (and its variants), Esslinger and Grimes. Among the state and local histories are volumes from New England to the West Coast. These volumes can be especially helpful in shedding light on the lives of your ancestors.

Also included in the 1,000 databases are transcriptions of original materials from various localities. For example, there is a volume about the early marriages in Clackamas and Wasco Counties in Oregon.

Wonderbase 2: 109,000+ NARA Records About Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, Created 1988-1989, Documenting The Period 1942-1946.

This series contains personal descriptive data about Japanese Americans evacuated from the states of Washington, Oregon, and California to ten relocation centers operated by the War Relocation Authority during World War II in the states of California (Tule Lake and Manzanar Centers), Idaho (Minidoka Center), Utah (Central Utah Center), Colorado (Granada Center), Arizona (Colorado River and Gila River Centers), Wyoming (Heart Mountain Center), and Arkansas (Rohwer and Jerome Centers). The database contains 109,384 records.

Each record represents an individual and includes the name; relocation project and assembly center to which assigned; previous address; birthplace of parents; occupation of father; education; foreign residence; indication of military service, public assistance, pensions, and physical defects; sex and marital status; race of evacuee and spouse; year of birth; age; birthplace; indication of the holding of an alien registration number and/or Social Security number, and whether the evacuee attended Japanese language school; highest grade completed; language proficiency; occupations; and religion. Creator: Department of Justice. Civil Rights Division.

Wonderbase 3: 19 Volumes Of The Collections Of The State Historical Society Of Wisconsin

World Vital Records launched 19 volumes of the Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin today. Those volumes include 1-6 and 10-20, plus an index for the first 20 volumes.

The Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin primarily includes essays about events of historical importance to the state of Wisconsin. Some of these essays deal with the earliest settlers and pioneers of Wisconsin. Other essays focus on the rise and fall of important industries and trades in the state. These essays, replete with names, are especially important because they add context to lives of the past. Knowing the events that surrounded ancestors’ lives can help the researcher really understand what life was like for those people.

For example reading an essay about the fur trade in order to better understand an ancestor who participated in the fur trade during the early period of Wisconsin’s history could help the researcher understand the true nature of the ancestor’s career. Understanding the historical context of an ancestor’s life brings character and interest that mere dates simply can’t provide.

Success Story: Find A Grave Provides Valuable Information For WorldVitalRecords.com Member

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Here is a success story from a WorldvitalRecords.com subscriber:

I did not know where my former husband was buried in Louisiana. I did not know he had passed away until a few years ago. I put his name in “Find A Grave” database at worldvitalrecords.com, and there I found the information. I found his name and some history which I already knew. He was a former lead singer for the “Zion Harmonizers” of New Orleans. I live in Albany, New York and had lost touch with people in Louisiana where I was born, and had married. I hope to visit New Orleans and go to visit his gravesite while I’m there. - Beverly from Albany, New York.