Monday, March 13, 2017

Talk Announcement - OPL: Managing Your Genealogy Research Project

Ottawa Public Library 

I will be presenting an education session titled "Managing Your Genealogy Research Project" in the Auditorium of the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library (120 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa) starting at 7 p.m. on March 27, 2017. This will be a repeat of the well received session I presented at the Carlingwood branch of the Ottawa Public Library in May 2016.

I hope to see you there!


When we first start delving into our family tree research we often do it in a haphazard way. I will discuss tips and tricks to approach your genealogy research in a methodical manner. The session will touch upon using software or websites to record information, categorizing the information found, and alternate resources to fill in blanks in our research. Using real world examples, I will walk through some of the possible challenges you may encounter and ways to overcome them.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Talk Announcement - BIFHSGO: Searching Findmypast's Newspaper Archives


As part of the Before BIFHSGO Education Talks I will be giving a short education talk starting at 9 a.m. titled "Searching Findmypast's Newspaper Archives" before the main monthly meeting at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa meeting being held on March 11, 2017 at The Chamber, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.

After my talk, Gillian Leitch will be presenting "From Famine to Prosperity to the Longue Pointe Asylum: the Varied Life of John Patrick Cuddy" starting at 10 a.m.


Newspapers can be a treasure trove of details about families and events that aren't often found in the usual birth, marriage, death, and census records. The Findmypast world subscription includes newspapers from the UK, Ireland, Canada, US, and other countries. I will provide some tips for searching these often overlooked resources in our genealogy and family history research.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Backing Up What is Important

It is the first of the month and I wonder, have you backed up your valuable genealogy (and also personal) information?

PHOTO CREDIT: Roman Czarny ,"White Kettle Droping Water on Silver Laptop Computer"; posted at Pexels (" : downloaded 3 Feb 2017); used under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License.

PHOTO CREDIT: Roman Czarny ,"White Kettle Droping Water on Silver Laptop Computer"; posted at Pexels (" : downloaded 3 Feb 2017); used under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License.

I'm not just talking about the information on your computer where you might have pictures and electronic copies of documents that you have spent numerous hours finding and saving.

If you are someone that prefers keeping all your information in binders on shelves (or on the floor) of your home what is your backup strategy? Keep in mind that natural and human created disasters can happen at any time. Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes happen all the time around the world.
  • Have you recently, like in the past year, made photocopies of the pages in those binders and sent those copies to another family member for safe keeping?
  • Have you digitized those one-of-a-kind photographs and saved the resulting image files somewhere other than your home computer?
At least with using binders, computer viruses and other malicious software can't destroy your years of research work. If you are someone like me that saves their almost exclusively in the computer, when was the last time you backed up those files? Are those backups kept in the same house as the computer?

Here is the strategy I try to use for backing up my computer files:
  • Any time I make a large number of updates to my tree or at the end of a day of research:
    • I backup the changes to a 64 GB USB memory stick1 using the free version of 2BrightSparks' SyncBackFree. With a few clicks any changes are updated on the memory stick and it only takes a few minutes. I have two USB memory sticks are rotate between for my quick backups.
    • I also use the backup option in my genealogy software, in my case Legacy Family Tree, to create a backup of my database. This automatically is saved in my free Dropbox account.
  • Once a month I backup all the personal information on my computer to an external hard disk. That drive is not connected to my computer unless I am doing a backup.
  • Periodically, but never often enough, I take one of my USB memory sticks to the bank and store it in my safety deposit box.
Since I also use Ancestry for cousin bait and automated searching I backup my trees stored on Ancestry just in case. Even though I use Legacy Family Tree for my primary database I have purchased Family Tree Maker so I can synchronize the Ancestry copy of my family tree and related documents to my home computer.

1. Yes I have over 32 GB of genealogy related files including digital copies of out of copyright books.