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Chris Shackelford

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Looking for ideas to connect your kids to their/your family history? Check out these good ideas from the MyHeritage blog:

I like item #3. We have incorporated our family history into our family vacations. We've taken where we visited family sites in Virginia and South Carolina. We've mostly done day trips since the kids were younger. Of course it required some planning but it was fun to share stories of ancestors when we were driving to the location and once we arrived on site. Now that the kids are a little older we're able to involve them in doing some of the research for our trips too! 

Feel free to share your tips on how you share your family history with family! 


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Finding Your Family With Google Earth
One of the fun things I've done lately is to learn more about Google earth. Google earth is a cool free application that works like an electronic world globe or atlas. You can download Google earth here:

One of the exciting uses for Google earth with your genealogy is to identify historical locations of your ancestors. You can also create tours with photos and videos but I'll cover that in a future posting. Below is a video that talks you through the steps for finding your family with Google earth. The steps may be a little daunting but well worth the effort. It was great to see my ancestors land plots using information from the Bureau of land Management in Google earth.  

Locating Ancestor Land Information
To find your ancestors historical locations, you need to know some information about where they lived. For a given plot of land you’ll need to know the state, principal meridian, township, range and section. You can access this information for patents you find on the BLM web site. 
The information you’ll need is located in the patent details screen in the land description section.  To get to this screen, from the search results page, click the items underlined Accession number. 

Video Demonstration
In case that was way too much information, below is a nice little video that will walk you through the steps I just described. Enjoy!

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This year one of my genealogy goals is to complete an oral history project for my mother. I recorded the audio using my Vonage phone service and software. You can read more about my project and my progress here:

With my goal in mind, I came across a video today that gave a nice outline for how someone could capture their stories. I liked how simple and straight forward the instructions were to follow. Check out the video below:

0:53 Pick a storyteller 
1:25 The question list
2:05 The equipment
2:54 Choose a quiet room
3:50 Testing 1 2 3 (Sound test)
4:03 Begin the Conversation
5:05 Wrapping it Up 
6:20 End 

Have you captured your story or the stories of your family? If so, feel free to share your favorite tip!

Cluster genealogy is an interesting approach to locating some of those hard to find ancestors. In a 2009 threaded discussion from, Michael Hait defined cluster genealogy as the “the reconstruction and investigation of a particular individual's social network’. 
Identifying your ancestors social network includes not only searching family or extended family but what others have called your ancestors F.A.N. club. F.AN. stands for friends, acquaintances and neighbors. It seems that you’re really looking at the family ‘cluster’ or ring and then slowly working your way to outer rings that include groups such as employment, church, civic or military. This reminds me a lot of the Google+ circles functionality.  
 I’m going to look more into this type of research and in my early searches did come across a coupe of good references. Feel free to take a look and use. 

Thomas MacEntee (GeneaBloggers) Cluster Genealogy Presentation slides:
Emily Anne Croom – cluster genealogy:

• Michael Hait:

Now It’s Your Turn
Have you used cluster genealogy before? Did you do something like cluster genealogy but it was called something else? Post a response to share your experience with cluster genealogy. 

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 I love learning more ways of how to do genealogy. I like learning that is available when I want to learn and in the way that I want to learn. For me this includes a lot of electronic media whether audio or electronic print materials that I can take with me on my handheld device or access from my computer. The days of formal classroom learning as the only channel for content distribution and consumption are heading into the twilight. As such, I’m encouraged as more genealogy ‘how to’ content is now available electronically and via the web. One such site that deserves your attention is and their genealogy 'how to' webinars.

What I liked
In terms of genealogy how to, here is what I liked about the webinars:
• There are a variety of classes and presenters covering a number of topics. It’s good to hear how different genealogists tackle the same types of problems.
• The courses have general descriptions of the content for each of the presentations.
• I like having genealogy ‘how to’ content available when I want to learn, how I want to learn.
• Several presentations are available for free and the remaining presentations are available at minimal costs to purchase. 

My Suggestions
Here’s what I’d suggest for changes:
• Please index your webinars! Having a time index of topics covered really does allow the learner to navigate the presentation based on the topics that they need vs. having to be locked into a linear progression. I did notice that some of the presentations had ‘bookmarks’, it would be nice if they all did. Some of the presentations had indexes but only the introduction link was available as a working bookmark. 
• It's probably the instructional designer part of me but I'd like the learning outcomes called out a little more clearly in the descriptions. It wasn't always clear exactly what I was going to be able to do after each of the presentation. 
• I’d like to see the purchased files available via download as well as by CD.

In summary, I recommend that you definitely bookmark this site and use it as one of your ongoing resources for maintaining your genealogy how to skills! I'm looking forward to seeing what additional topics are covered in upcoming genealogy how to webinars. #genealogy

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Looking for your pot of genealogical pot of irish gold? Rootsireland appears to be offering something close to that. is offering you free search result page views until the 31st of July. After the 31st, search result page views revert back to their credit based system. Their credit system involves you buying credits which are applied or used with each search results page you view. It seems a little complicated but free is easier to understand. 

Visit their sources page for a list of sources available by geographic location (


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Just a quick note, as I saw this late but is offering 14 days of free access to their american revolutionary war record collection. No registration required to view the records! Check it out -


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#genealogy  I found another great webinar today about making the most of your searches. Lots of good tips for searching including a couple of key points about not putting too much information in your search. I thought that was counterintuitive but it made sense once he explained it. 



Key Points
• More information doesn’t’ always help generate better results (0:18:30)
• The Family History search engine searches name, place or date variants
• The most relevant genealogical results are listed above the brown highlight bar across the search results.
• Descendant searches are performed by entering only the parent information 
• Frequently check for updates to the record collections.
• Access existing Ancestral File (AF) and Pedigree Resource File (PRF) file information in the Family ‘trees’ section. 

Time Topic 
0:01:00 Introduction 

Note: They have some minor difficulties getting the speaker online. This delayed the presentation only a couple of minutes. 

0:03:20 Session Agenda 

0:04:07 3 Kinds of Search: Global (Searching all records)

0:06:40 3 Kinds of Search: Single Collection

0:10:00 3 Kinds of Search: Image Browse

0:12:50 Search with Name   

0:14:50 Search with Name and Place

0:16:16 Search with Relationship

0:19:50 Exact Match

0:20:50 Wild Cards

0:22:45 Parent Search 

0:24:14 Filtering Search Results

0:26:45 Batch Searching

0:28:38 User Submitted Tree Search (Ancestral File/ Pedigree Resource File)

0:33:54   Using the Source Box: How to save images into the source box and attach to members in your family tree.

0:39:40   Q&A

0:57:07 End 

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I watched a good video today from the Ancestry Day – San Francisco co-sponsored by the California Genealogical Society and In this video the presenter, Jeanie Croasmun, presents five tips for finding your ancestors using I liked that the tips were shared as part of a story. The context of the story searching for her Grandmother helps me to remember the tips. 

when you go do the link, I've posted time code markers for each of the tips. you can click the links and the video will jump to the specific tip. 

For reference, here are the time code markers:
Tip 1 - Think like an Ancestor (9:18)
Tip 2 - Save it For Later (13:10)
Tip 3 - Brush Up On History (24:48)
Tip 4 - Names Aren’t Everything (37:00)
Tip 5 - Search More Than One Way (42:08) 

Have a favorite tip? Share which one you liked the most. 

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David provides a very good overview of collaboration tools for finding your ancestors from the RootsTech Genealogical Conference in SLC earlier this year. I'll be spending my afternoon playing around with a lot of these links! 
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