Sunday, January 10, 2010

Breaking the language barrier

Have you ever come across a document written in your ancestors own language?  If you have you know this can be a significant brick wall in your research.  How would you like to be able to read those documents yourself?

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is the US Government’s prime institution for training the folks of the US Foreign affairs community. Using language programs and studies, the FSI prepares US civil servants for foreign postings. Since these language courses are published using taxpayers' money, they are public domain, and thus, available to anybody interested in learning a new language.

The FSI web site will not grant you fluency in these languages. However, you will get a good introduction and will learn to read documents written in another language.

The site is not affiliated with any government entity; it is an independent, non-profit effort to foster the learning of worldwide languages. Courses are made available through the private efforts of individuals who are donating their time and resources to provide quality materials for language learning.

Languages on the site include: Amharic, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cambodian, Cantonese, Chinese, Chinyanja, Finnish, French, Fula, German, Greek, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Italian, Japanese, Kituba, Korean, Lao, Lingala, Luganda, Moré, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Shona, Sinhala, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Twi, Vietnamese and Yoruba.

For more information, visit the FSI website.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 New Years' Resolution

This really happened to me.

My home office PC had an automated backup program running that saved my data to a USB connected external hard drive.  I figured everything was A-OK and there was nothing to worry about.  In truth, I hadn't been careful enoough in selecting software that reported via email/popup/siren/flashinglights when something went wrong.

The external drive failed and I didn't notice.  A couple of months later the local electrical utility company was doing some work about 2 miles from me.  A truck backed into a pole holding a transformer... knocking out power in the area... and breaking my main hard drive in my PC.  The one I thought was safely copying data to the external drive.

Emails, bookmarks, software, data, music files, photos, work, play, family tree data, contracts, etc, etc -- all gone.


$1,500 later I had my data recovered to a new boot drive.

I also learned two things:
  1. Be careful about selecting my backup software
  2. Check to make sure it is running
A couple of months later I read about an online backup solution.  Secure, automatic, remote, reliable, simple to set up and affordable.  In fact, you can back up 2 GB of data at no cost if you want to try it out.  When you need your data it is right there on the Internet.  You can even restore using just a browser!

All of my valuable emails, pictures, scanned images & documents, genealogy databases and reports were gone... without warning.  And it cost me a bundle of $ and some frayed nerves before I got lucky enoough to get them recovered.  I don't want to do it again.

For 2010... promise yourself to visit and when you forget about making backups you can sleep peacefully knowing your computer is looking after things for you.  It will be a resolution that is easy to keep!

Happy New Year!

P.S. Did I ever tell you the one about the stolen laptop?  I'll save that for next year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Special deal from Lost Cousins web site

Here's an announcement you may find interesting... but act fast to get their excellent offer!
Until January 4, 2010 anyone with an ancestor who was recorded on the 1881 British Census can get a free one-year subscription to LostCousins worth 10 pounds (around $16) by entering PROJECT1881 in the offer codes box at the foot of the registration page. (Note: offer applies to new registrations only)

LostCousins is a unique site which offers 99.9% accurate automated matching of members who are related - it's a great way to find others who are researching the same ancestors. One-third of matches involve relatives who live on different continents!

Visit the Lost Cousins web site to take advantage of this offer.

After January 4th 2010, enter the offer code LCF521456427 to indicate you were referred by Digging Your Roots.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have you ever used a Research Outline?

Do you even know what that is?

The Family Search website has compiled listings of genealogy research resources to assist people looking for information in a specific geographic area.  For example, there are outlines for US States, Canadian Provinces and many countries.  There are also listings for some specific types of research such as US Military Records and Preparing a Family History.

All of these Research Outlines are available at no charge from the Research Helps section of the Family Search site.  There is even a Guide to Research guide to help you get started!

Don't delay... put some paper in your printer and start organizing your research strategy today.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let Google Alerts help you with your Genealogy research

You are working your way through your family tree, one person after another, then the next generation, then another. You dutifully plug each name/place/date into the Google search engine looking for those elusive matches to newspaper articles, obituaries or (the motherlode) another researcher working on the same person!

But what if you search for great grandad Rudolph Litmus Hedgehog on December 20 and I update my blog on December 22 with my findings?

When is the next time you are going to get around to looking for Grandpa Rudolph in the search engine?

What if I let you in on a cool solution to that very problem? I bet you'd like me just a little bit more...

Here's what you do... after you've had a good look around for Grandpa, tell Google Alerts that you want the mighty power of Google to keep a vigilant eye peeled for any new information about Rudolph that appears on the Internet.  Visit, log in with your Google account (or get one) and fill in the handy form that looks like this:

Cool, eh?

Just pop "Rudolph Litmus Hedgehog" into the Search terms box, choose your settings and create the alert.  Hint: use the quotes to avoid those annoying unrelated hits on reindeer, ballet dancers, chemists and Spiny Norman fans.

Now you just go on with your meaningful and interesting life, while the massive Google server collective looks and looks and looks until it finds my little blog post.  Bells go off and an email is sent directly to you with a link to the very page you want to read.  Your smile grows wider and we become best friends and long-lost cousins.

Until two months from now when Cathy posts her announcement of her comprehensive History of the Hedgehog Family... and we both update our wills in her honour.

Give Google Alerts a try... you won't regret it and your mailbox will tingle with little surprises for you.  By the way, this tool also works for non-genealogy searches.  You can even make up an alert for your own name to check up on your own Internet reputation... another good idea.

Happy Alerting!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Top Ten Most Popular Online Genealogy Magazines

The Geneaology In Time blog has identified the top ten most popular online genealogy magazines. This list was prepared by Alexa. Alexa is the world’s leading company for measuring internet traffic.

From best to tenth, here are the best online places to consult for your genealogy  research:
  1. Eastman’s Online Genealogy Magazine
  2. Family Tree Magazine 
  3. Family Chronicle Magazine
  4. Journal of Genetic Genealogy
  5. The Global Gazette
  6. Genealogy In Time™
  7. Genealogy Roots Blog
  8. Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly
  9. Genealogy Magazine
  10. Family Research
Good reading!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Welcome to Digging Your Roots

Digging Your Roots is a guide to discovering your family tree.

Genealogy, Family Search, Family History, Ancestry, Legacy, Theory of Relatives, whatever you want to call it... everything comes down to getting on your knees and getting your fingers dirty as you dig up the information needed to construct that tree.

I want to share with you the experiences I have had and am having in the search for my ancestors and relatives.

Comments are welcome.