Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 2011 Scanfest

News from Google News Archive and Chronicling America

Have you visited my Online Historical Newspapers website, or its corresponding blog? I created it to help genealogists and other researchers find digitized newspapers for their locations of research. Here's some news that highlights two major digitization projects:

 Google News Archive is ending their newspaper digitization project:
We work closely with newspaper partners on a number of initiatives, and as part of the Google News Archives digitization program we collaborated to make older newspapers accessible and searchable online. These have included publications like the London Advertiser in 1895, L’Ami du Lecteur at the turn of the century, and the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1910 to 1995.

Users can continue to search digitized newspapers at, but we don’t plan to introduce any further features or functionality to the Google News Archives and we are no longer accepting new microfilm or digital files for processing. [Hat tip to John D. Reid of Anglo-Celtic Connections]

A link to browse individual historical titles is at, and from there you can search the individual newspaper. I will continue to add these titles to my Online Historical Newspapers website. It does take time, and I am currently nearly finished with the titles beginning with the letter A.


Meanwhile, the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project continues in full swing:
Last week, the Library of Congress updated the Chronicling America Web site with more than 230,000 additional newspaper pages in various titles. The site now provides access to more than 3.7 million searchable newspaper pages from 506 newspaper titles, published in 22 states and the District of Columbia between 1860 and 1922.

These titles are also being added and updated on my site. Keeps me busy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: A Better Place

I was excited to recently be given an opportunity to review A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario by Susan Smart. Ontario is an ancestral location for at least half a dozen of my family lines and I looked forward to learning more about how death and burial practices probably took place in their lives. I was not disappointed.

The first part of the book, "Death and Burial," explains in nine chapters the attitudes toward death and the evolution of burial customs over time from the pioneer days through the Victorian age. How cemeteries and funeral homes were established is detailed. Also explained are different practices according to religion and origins of modern funeral customs. Excerpts from local histories, etiquette books and letters of the period, and photographs and advertisements from local newspapers are all used to enhance and illustrate each chapter.

In "Part II: Genealogical Implications," each of the nine chapters from Part I is revisited, with a listing of resources (hard copy and electronic) which correspond. For example, the first chapter in both parts is titled "Death and Attitudes." In Part I, this chapter explains the attitudes nineteenth-century people in Ontario had toward death as found in local histories. In Part II, this chapter lists where to find local histories and other related sources in libraries and on the Internet. Smart describes when resources may be difficult to find and offers tips and suggestions. She states when record keeping began for various sources and gives pointers for alternatives before record keeping was required.

All notes are cited and a helpful fourteen-page bibliography is also provided. This title is an excellent reference work that is beneficial for any genealogist with Ontario roots. A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario by Susan Smart was published in 2011 by the Ontario Genealogical Society/Dundurn Press and is 235 pages. It is available in for $14.82 (US) at Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a free book from Dundurn Press for review.  As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price when readers purchase a title through the Amazon link above, although this title is available at other websites and various bookstores.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Scanfest is Coming!

The May 2011 Scanfest will take place here at AnceStories this coming Sunday, May 22nd, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time. This is one week early due to the last Sunday of the month (our normal Scanfest time) falling during Memorial Day weekend.

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, except AOL. Those who normally access the Internet with AOL may wish to download Firefox or Explorer ahead of time to be able to participate on CoverItLive.

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 Now to 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, May21st 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!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Book Review: The Journey Takers

I was fortunate to receive a copy of Leslie Albrecht Huber's The Journey Takers for review. The title is appropriate, for it follows the paths of four of Huber's paternal ancestors as they journey from their respective homes in Germany, Sweden, and England to their new lives in America in the nineteenth century. But it's much more than that. Throughout the story, Huber interweaves the story of her own journey as a young woman, first as a college student, then a newlywed, and finally as a young mother struggling to make sense of her ancestral history as it relates to the present.

The author had some amazing opportunities of which most genealogists can only dream: visiting and doing on-site research in her ancestral locations in Europe. Along the way, she researches the history of each region, outlining the factors which ultimately led to the immigration of her journey-taking ancestors.

Using original and microfilmed documents, Huber goes back to the earliest ancestors she can trace in these communities, telling their stories. She fills out the foundation of local and family history with fictional scenes of her ancestors' lives, imagining the impact of events and the likely resulting actions and emotions. She details the sacrifices and hardships the journey takers endured as they sought their destination: a new Zion where they could worship and live as they saw fit.

As she considered the tragedies and suffering of the journey takers and wondered if their destination was worth it, Huber came to the following realization:
Zion is not a place --it's a state of being, a frame of mind, a feeling within. It's a belief in something beyond one's self, a devotion to a greater cause.

Zion is not a destination. It is a journey.
Family historians will benefit greatly from this title for a variety of reasons. The depth and scope of research required to create a quality history of Huber's ancestors' lives is marked. The careful documentation and source citations are to be applauded. Creating a realistic and sequential narration out of the bare bones of facts is to be commended. To be able to research, analyze and synthesize the details of family historians' ancestors in such an interesting and valid manner is something to which we all should attain. Huber's book is a strong example of a fascinating story married to a quality researched work and as such would be a excellent addition to any genealogist's personal library.


The Journey Takers by Leslie Albrecht Huber, published in 2010 by Foundation Books; 321 pages. Available at bookstores and online at websites such as ($19.95 most places; $19.07 at Amazon).


Disclosure: I received a free book from Ms. Huber for review.  As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price when readers purchase a title through the Amazon link above, although this title is available at other websites and various bookstores.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

 A Happy Mother's Day wish goes out to all mothers, everywhere. In past years, I have written several posts for Mother's Day, and I'd like to share them with you:

Eight Generations of Mothers
A photo essay of my direct maternal line - 2007

Mom, How'd You Get So Smart?
This is actually a three-part piece written by my mother about her school days and education - 2008
(The really amazing thing is that Mom reconnected with her childhood best friend through these articles; the friend happened to Google her own name and found it on my blog; they reunited after nearly 40 years!)

My Husband's Maternal Line
Many of you know I am going through a divorce; yet I remain close to my in-laws. This post is a tribute to my mother-in-law's maternal line - 2010