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19 Oct 2016

Why Am I a Genealogist?

Why am I a genealogist? Jack Finney's time-travel novel, Time and Again, explains it best: Because I’ve always felt a wonder at old photographs not easy to explain.  Maybe I don’t need to explain; maybe you’ll recognize what I mean. I mean the sense of wonder, staring at the strange clothes and vanished backgrounds, at knowing that what you’re seeing was once real. That light really did reflect into a lens from these lost faces and objects. That these people were really there once, smiling into a camera. You could have walked into the scene then, touched those people, and spoken to them. You could actually have gone into that strange outmoded old building and seen what now you never can – what was just inside the door. Because the good ones, the really clear sharp photographs, are so real; insert a view, slide it into focus, and the old scene leaps [...]

20 Sep 2016

Latest Image Software Recommendations

My latest image software recommendations are included in this post.  Choosing image software to help manage your family photos is an essential step in organizing family photos and records, and one that I cover in more detail in my e-book, Cataloging Family Photographs & Records. Image software is used by genealogists to: Create high-resolution master scans Edit photos to resize, crop, and alter master digital files Make changes to many photos with a batch edit Add information to digital images using metadata Search for images and retrieve them using keywords Use special functions, such as creating albums, employing facial recognition or adding GPS linking Windows or Mac Image Software Photoshop Elements ($80-$100) – think of it as Photoshop Lite. Has powerful image editing capabilities, including GPS and facial recognition; easier to use than the full version of Photoshop, but still has a learning curve. Many free tutorials available. Also has scanning feature. A 30-day [...]

1 May 2016

Archives MayDay 2016

Today is Archives MayDay 2016 – the one day each year when the entire archives profession pays attention to emergency preparedness by writing, reviewing, and revising disaster preparedness plans. At home, too often our emergency planning takes second place to more pressing demands. So I think it’s smart to take a leaf from the Society of American Archivists and take time today to review the emergency plans for your family history data. (I’m going to assume that everyone has already ensured their personal safety so that we can focus on data. But if you need to improve your personal safety measures, visit A starting place for your data and papers: Are you backing up your data? If you are, could you grab that hard drive and go with only a few minutes’ warning? Is that backup automated? Don't depend on remembering once a month to make a backup. Let [...]

10 Apr 2016

Free California Digital Archives for Genealogy Part 3

Free California Digital Archives for Genealogy Part 3 is part of  Sassy Jane Genealogy's States on Sunday series, providing links to free digital resources for each of the fifty states. Part 1 featured the major resources available. Part 2 includes institutional and small organization links. Part 3 today concludes the entries for California. The state's resources are so numerous, it is impossible to list them all here. Researchers are advised to search for specific public library and genealogical society resources by geographic areas to find additional resources. Ethnic Resources African Americans in California 1,800 items found in 60 collections at Calisphere, predominantly historic images. Chinese in California Collection Pon Doo Chew: Affadavit to establish nativity and identity, 1926 (courtesy Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley) UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library The Chinese in California presents a balanced perspective on a tumultuous and changing history of this community in California. Major issues explored in these records [...]