Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 2010 Scanfest

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scanfest is Coming!

The October 2010 Scanfest will take place here at AnceStories next Sunday, October 31st, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time.

What is Scanfest? It's a time when geneabloggers, family historians, and family archivists meet online here at this blog to chat while they scan their precious family document and photos. Why? Because, quite honestly, scanning is time-consuming and boring!

Scanfest is a great time to "meet" other genealogists, ask questions about scanning and preservation, and get the kick in the pants we all need on starting those massive scanning projects that just seem too overwhelming to begin.

To get started, you need to know the basics about scanning:

1. Don't use commercial glass cleaners (i.e. Windex) or paper towels to clean your scanner's glass plate. Use a soft, clean cloth, preferably microfiber. If you must use a liquid, use water sprayed directly onto the cloth  and make sure to let the plate dry thoroughly before placing photos or documents on it.

2. Wear cotton gloves (available at many art and/or photography supply shops) when handling photos and old documents.

3. Don't slide the photos around on the glass plate. Place them exactly where you want them. Photos should NEVER be scanned by a scanner that feeds the document through the machine, but ALWAYS on a flat-bed scanner.

4. Set your scanner to scan at no smaller than 300 dpi (dots per inch). Many experts recommend 600 dpi for photographs.

5. Photographs should ALWAYS be scanned and saved as .tif files. Use "Save As" to reformat the .tif file to a .jpg file for restoration and touchups, emailing, or uploading to an online photo album. ALWAYS retain the original scan as a .tif file.

6. Documents can be scanned as .pdf files or .tif files.

7. When you are done scanning your photos, don't put them back in those nasty "magnetic" photo albums. Place them in archival safe albums or boxes found at websites such as Archival Products or Archival Suppliers. Do NOT store any newsprint (articles, obituaries, etc.) with the photos. The acid from the newspaper will eventually destroy the photograph.

Now about the chatting part of Scanfest:

We will be using Cover It Live, a live blogging format that you access right here at AnceStories.

On Sunday at 11 AM, PDT, come right here to AnceStories and you'll see the CoverItLive live blog/forum in the top post. It's not really a "chat room," per se, it's more like a live forum and anyone visiting this site can read and see what is happening in the forum.

You will not need to download any software.

Up to 25 individuals can be invited to be Producers. Producers are participants who have the extra capability of sharing photos, links, and other media within the forum (great for sharing the photos you're scanning!). You must have Internet Explorer 6.0+ or Firefox 2.0+ to be a Producer.

We can also have up to 25 other Participants who can comment freely in our conversation, but will not be able to share media. You can have any kind of browser to be a Participant.

In addition, any other readers of this blog can drop on by and view/read what is happening at Scanfest. If the 25 Participant spaces are full, those readers will not be able to comment, unless someone else drops out.

Confused? Have questions? Go to CoverItLive and check out 6. Try It Nowto see live blogs in action or 7. Demos to see videos demonstrating how to use CIT (especially the ones titled "How do my readers watch my Live Blog?" and "Adding Panelists and Producers").

If you would like to be a Producer, please e-mail me no later than Saturday, October 30th at 4 PM, PDT and I'll send you an invitation. Preference will given to previous Scanfesters. You must set up an account (free!) ahead of time to be a Producer. This account will be good for all future Scanfests. You can do some practices ahead of time by going to My Account and clicking on the link under Practice your live blogging. Again, you must have IE 6.0+ or Firefox 2.0+ to be a Panelist.

As a Producer, Participant or simply a reader, if you would like an e-mail reminder for Scanfest, fill out the form below and choose the time frame for which you would like to be reminded (if you're reading this through Google Reader, Bloglines, or some other RSS feed reader, you will need to go to my blog and view this post there to see and utilize the form).

It really is easier than it sounds, and I'm looking forward to seeing you all there and getting some scanning done!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Findmypast Publishes Devon Parish Records Online

Press release from

Devon parish records go online

.       857, 603 Devon parish records are available online, making it easier to find Devon ancestors
.       The famous dog breeder John Russell, the Jack Russell's namesake, can be found in the records

Today leading UK family history website launches the Devon parish records in association with Devon Family History Society.  Significantly, these new online records pre-date civil birth, marriage and death records and census records, enabling family history enthusiasts to delve even further back into their Devonian ancestors' pasts from the convenience of their own home.

The Devon parish records include 363,015 baptism records for 1813-1839; 271,193 marriage records for 1754-1837 and 223,395 burial records for 1813-1837.  The transcripts of these records are available to search at from today as part of what is already one of the largest online parish record collections for England & Wales, currently comprising over 26 million baptism, marriage and burial records dating as far back as the reign of Henry VIII.

The search facility at makes it possible to look up ancestors across all the parish records on the site just by entering a surname.  Previously, to search the offline records it was necessary to know where in the country your ancestors came from and then contact the relevant record office or family history society for that area, so this development will make it far easier for people to research their family history.

The decline of agriculture at the end of the nineteenth century caused many people to migrate to cities as well as overseas in search of work. Therefore many people now living across the UK or in other corners of the globe may find ancestors listed within the newly available Devon Parish Records that they never knew they had.

The county of Devon has produced many famous faces over the years that can be found in the Devon Parish records. These include Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first ever computer, Charles Kingsley the author of 'The Water Babies' and John 'Jack' Russell, who owned the foundation bitch of a line of fox hunting terriers that would eventually come to be known as the Jack Russell.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at, says: "As a descendant of generations of Devonshire blacksmiths, I am particularly excited that the Devon Family History Society is working with to put Devon parish records on our website and make them available to all. Like me, many people who have never lived in Devon themselves may discover that they have ancestors who were baptised, married and/or buried in Devon, and this is a great way to find out about them."

Maureen Selley, Chairman of Devon Family History Society commented: "This is a unique and very special resource that has been created over many years by members of Devon Family History Society.  By working with to put these records online, we are enabling a wider international audience to become aware of these terrific records, allowing millions more people worldwide to discover their Devon ancestors."

Findmypast's Parish Record Collection brings together in one place the disparate records from local parishes, which have been collated by local family history societies since 1911, coordinated by the Federation of Family History Societies*. Since 2007 has been working exclusively with the Federation to publish these records online, with many more records due to be added to the website over the coming months. will also be working with FamilySearch to digitise the record collection of Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, with a view to matching their images of the parish records to the transcripts from Devon Family History Society that are now live on the site.

FamilyRoots Seminar in Calgary on October 16

Alberta Family Histories Society
FamilyRoots Seminar
"New Horizons in Genealogy"

Featuring three of North America's leading genealogists
  • Dick Eastman - The Organized Genealogist & Conservation: Keeping UP with Technology
  • Lyn Meehan - Records Interrogation 101 - Squeezing Records Until They Talk
  • Thomas MacEntree - Social Networking for Genealogists & Become a Genealogy Blogger
Saturday, October 16, 2010
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
(Doors open @ 8:00 AM)
Deerfoot Inn Hotel
11500 - 35 St. SE, Calgary, AB, Canada
Dinner (Optional)
Big Rock Grill
5555 - 76 Ave. SE, 6:00 PM
Speaker: Dick Eastman
Topic: "Putting the Genes in Genealogy"

For more information, logon to FamilyRoots

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Visit with Thomas MacEntee

Miriam Robbins Midkiff and Thomas MacEntee. Spokane, Washington. 2 October 2010. Privately held by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Spokane, Washington. 2010.

I just came away from a busy and exciting weekend as my local genealogical society, the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, held its annual October Workshop with well-known geneablogger Thomas MacEntee as its featured speaker!

Since I was at work when Thomas' flight arrived, EWGS 3rd Vice President Cecily Kelly was kind enough to pick him up from the airport and drive him to his accommodations at the historic Spokane Club. After I got off work, we all met up at Anthony's at Spokane Falls for a great seafood dinner on the terrace overlooking the falls of the Spokane River. It was a gorgeous Indian Summer day, and the three of us had a good time talking about our own genealogy, the future of genealogical societies, and what the Next Big Thing in genealogy might be.

EWGS Members. Spokane, Washington. 1 October 2010. Privately held by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Spokane, Washington. 2010. 

Next, we headed over to the downtown branch of the Spokane Public Library so that Thomas could give his new presentation, "Building a Research Toolbox." This was a members-only presentation, and we had about 40 people in attendance. You can see some video footage I shot that evening posted on Thomas' blog here. Thomas explained why a person would need a research toolbox, what the different kinds of toolboxes (or containers) there were, what kinds of tools (or content) would be stored in it, and how to organize the information. I especially liked the wikis as a type of toolbox, and MediaWiki certainly caught my eye. Another tool that looked extremely useful was Link Valet, a link checker that will make sure all the URLs in your blog or document are working and not broken! If you would like to see one good example of a research toolbox, Thomas has one set up on his blog here. I prefer to use my Google Toolbar's Bookmark feature for mine, as it is accessible from nearly any computer, anywhere.

 EWGS Members and Thomas MacEntee. Spokane, Washington. 2 October 2010. Privately held by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Spokane, Washington. 2010.

The next morning, we were at the library bright and early to prepare for a day long workshop of four presentations. There were about 65 people in attendance, including some from Northern Idaho, Northeast Washington, and the Tri-Cities area of Southeast Washington, representing societies from those areas. After registration check in, the welcome, and some EWGS business, Thomas began his morning presentations, "Facebook for Genealogists" and ""Become a Genealogy Blog User." There was a lot of audience interaction and they were very attentive to his presentations.

At the lunch break, those who had pre-registered received their box lunch from Apple Spice Junction, and those who had not either brown-bagged it or stepped out to one of the many eateries nearby. Then it was time for the afternoon presentations, "Building a Genealogy Blog" and "Google Docs for Beginners." In most day-long workshops, the audience tends to be a big tired after sitting all day, as well as a bit drowsy after lunch. However, these afternoon sessions were pretty lively, as many seemed especially interested in learning how to start a genealogy blog and using Google Docs. As a long-time Facebook user and geneablogger, most of the information presented in the first three lectures were not new to me, but I enjoyed seeing it presented in an easy-to-understand format. Despite the fact that I am a frequent Google Docs user, I did learn a few new things, and was especially happy to see how versatile the Forms feature is!

After the workshop, Thomas and I tiredly said our good-byes. He is staying another day, spending time with a first cousin (and her daughter) on his father's side from North Idaho, meeting them for the first time. At the workshop, he kept everyone well-entertained, engaged, and begging for more! I received numerous e-mails in the last 24 hours from various attendees who were so impressed by his teaching and were very grateful that I had suggested that he be our October Workshop speaker. We even had a couple of members begin their own blogs this weekend!

Thomas was a big hit here in the Inland Northwest and has a standing invitation to return. He let us know that he would be happy to be back, live or virtually, anytime. Thanks for a great workshop, Thomas!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Funeral Card Friday: Margaret "Peggy" (NEVE) DeVRIES

Funeral card of Margaret DeVries, Ellwood City,Pennsylvania; DeVries Family Papers, digitized and privately held by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington. This item was passed from the estate of Adrian and Ruth (Hoekstra) DeVries to their granddaughter, Miriam Robbins Midkiff in 2008.

This beautiful funeral card of the wife of my granduncle, Calvin J. DeVRIES, is an unusual one in my collection. The reason is that as far back as I can research in my biological, adoptive and step-family lines, our family has been Protestant pretty much since the Reformation, and this is a Catholic funeral card.

Margaret "Peggy" NEVE was a lovely woman of Italian heritage who may have met my granduncle "Cal" during his service in World War II. I don't know if Aunt Peggy was born in Italy or if she was an American with Italian roots. In fact, I don't know a whole lot about Aunt Peggy except that she was Italian, Catholic, and died tragically young from cancer. I don't even know if I ever had a chance to meet her; I'll have to check my mother's letters to see if we ever visited Cal and Peggy during one of our trips to the "Lower 48" when I was a baby.

I have been in touch with Cal and Peggy's children and grandchildren over the years, sending them information on the DeVRIES family which I have researched. This post reminds me that I should get back in touch and obtain some more information to fill out the family tree a little better on Aunt Peggy's side.

Thanks to Dee Akard Welborn for this great Friday theme! Dee encourages others to highlight their funeral card collection on the first Friday of each month.

October 2010 Calendar of Events

In the old of the moon
A cloudy morning
Bodes a fair afternoon.

Holidays, History, and Heritage

Family History Month (various U.S. states)

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15)

Czech Heritage Month (Texas)

Polish American Heritage Month

Italian American Heritage Month

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Month

October 1: National Day (People's Republic of China)
Independence Day (Cyprus)
Independence Day (Nigeria)

October 3: German Unity Day (Germany)

October 6: German American Day

October 8: Independence Day (Croatia)

October 11: Thanksgiving (Canada)
Columbus Day (United States)

October 18: National Multicultural Diversity Day

October 19: Constitution Day (Niue)

October 20: Birth of the Báb (Bá'hai)

October 23: Revolution of 1956 Remembrance Day (Hungary)

October 27: Independence Day (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
Independence Day (Turkmenistan)

October 28: Independence Day (Greece)

October 29: Republic Day (Turkey)

October 31: All Hallows Eve (Christianity)

Do any of the above events feature in or affect your heritage, culture, or family history?

Carnivals and Other Blogging Events:

Need help? Read my post, "How to Submit a Post to a Carnival", here.

Due October 1 - the 98th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy - Document Analysis

Heads Up! The Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture is on sabbatical; the 21st Edition will be published in November 2010.

October 1 - Data Backup Day

Read the latest Data Backup Day post by Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers

Genealogy Television Shows
(check your local listings for accurate local airing times and reruns)

The Generations Project
Monday Nights at 8 PM on BYU-TV
October 4, 11, 18, 25

Scanfest: Sunday, October 31st, 11 AM - 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time

Go here to learn how to join Scanfest and our group of chatting, scanning family archivists, historians, and bloggers!

Go here to add the above deadlines and dates to your Google Calendar,
courtesy of Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers.

Clear moon, frost soon.