Greetings from Salt Lake City, folks. I'm in the Family History Library, mecca to family historians. I wish I could say I was recovering from four days of RootsTech, but instead I'm recovering from the flu! Warning: this year's flu shot isn't as effective a shield as part years'. I started shivering late morning on Wednesday after the opening session and it got worse. I did make it to some lectures later that day but spent the next two days shivering in my apartment here, only making it back on Saturday. To be honest, I'm still a bit slow in the mind and am finding it difficult to concentrate for any length of time. Hate being sick!
Was RootsTech a success?
By all accounts it was! Certainly, the bits I saw were. I can't share it with you, because it isn't yet online, but the speech by Emmitt Smith, American Football player extraordinaire and winner of "Dancing with the Stars" (the US version of Strictly Come Dancing), was brilliant. I will share it next month with some commentary. The exhibition hall was stacked with 180 companies and societies offering their latest ideas. It seems that interest in recording life stories is growing, with lots of companies offering means of preserving photographs, videos and so on. The prior focus of such shows on doing the research itself is lessening, which is probably a reflection of the growth of our hobby/obsession and not a bad thing, honestly.
There were the usual announcements made of new products and developments. Probably the most dramatic was that of MyHeritage, which is now offering a free service to colorize old photographs. I've seen some of the results and they look great. There is something about seeing a color photograph which brings the past to life. Monochrome prints just look like "history" and separate from our day to day experience. If you want to see for yourself, go to myheritage.com. You may need to create an ID and log in.
RootsTech returns to London
In an announcement made on the first day here, RootsTech will be returning to London this autumn, from November 5th to 7th. So, "Remember, remember the fifth of November"! I've already booked somewhere to stay. If you are pretty sure you will go, buy your tickets now. They are heavily discounted until April 24. A day ticket costs only £39 and a three-day pass only £79. Tix are available at https://rootstech2020london.smartevents ... l/login.ww. I hope I will be able to run a ticket giveaway again. More later.
If you aren't using FamilySearch in your research efforts, you are missing out big time!
I did go to a lunch sponsored by the good folks at FamilySearch. They shared some astounding numbers, some of which follow:
- at any one time they have 380 camera crews operating around the world
- their website has 72 times as much data as the entire Library of Congress!
- they have 3.8 billion images available to view.
- they're working hard at adding more 2 million more records per day but find themselves losing the battle relative to more data coming in!
- so they are reducing the time to publish new records down from 240 days to 24 hours by using better technology.
- they've trained computers to recognize printed material. They ran 25 million obituaries through their software and came up with 100 million names in only 8 hours! Instead of having to transcribe twice, they now only have to eyeball the results, which makes the whole process much quicker.
- even more than that, FamilySearch reports that they are well under way in training computers to read handwriting! They reckon they will have English and Spanish versions available next year sometime.
PH comment: FamilySearch is not the only organization doing this. Once they have succeeded, expect an absolute avalanche of material to become available! Don't forget too that in less than two years we will have the 1950 US census AND the 1921 UK census appearing online! These are exciting times.
Our 1,500th Correspondent
Right from the start of our study we set out to attract the attention of people who could help us, because our study is too big for us to do on our own. That you are reading this is proof that our approach worked! Pleased to say that we signed up our 1,500th correspondent during the month: Charles from Newbury in Berkshire, England has been working on his family history for 20 years. He's descended from the Howse family of Shipton-on-Cherwell in Oxfordshire and surrounding parishes and has already shared a death certificate with us and posed a puzzle which I have yet to answer! Anyway, Welcome, Charles and thanks for your help so far.
I have such a long newsletter that I just have to cut a lot of material this month and save it, or issue a bonus! However, I did promise to say a few words about the fabulous Irish records now online. You can see copies of birth, marriage and death certificates online at https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/ ... search.jsp.
Births are available from 1864 - 1919. Marriages from 1845 - 1944, although Catholic marriages are only from 1864. Deaths from 1878 - 1969. The Irish General Register office is currrently working on the last batch of death records which will take them too back to 1864.
Check out that website: there is even more there than just the certificates!
Our research efforts
During the month, I managed to get two solid days of research in at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston and made a small interview with David Allan Lambert, the chief genealogist there, and another member of the Guild of One-Name Studies. You can see the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAm_BiLL18w&t=9s. While there, I came across a published book of the genealogy of the descendants of Samuel House of Scituate, Massachusetts, some of whose descendants switched to Howes. I took pictures of the pages I didn't transcribe while I was there and am gradually working through them. As a result, I've managed to join together two or three smaller trees that we already had in our files. This is a very large family!
Talking of large families, I transcribed another 50 pages of the HowesGenealogy book this month. So you will not be surprised to find that we added 1,400 people to our file, finishing just a couple of dozen people short of 165,000.
I also wrote a couple of presentations which I will be delivering at the North Florida Genealogy conference on March 14:
- Crossing the Atlantic - Using US records to find your overseas ancestors
- Checking the link to your British cousins using modern records
and tidied up another one that I will be giving at the Halifax Genealogical Society in Volusia county, Florida a few days later!
Thanks for your continued support, folks
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