Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Which Day Did your Ancestors Get Married?

I decided to look up the day of the week on which each of my ancestors got married and this has added some interesting background and questions to my family story.

None of my ancestors (at least those for whom I know wedding dates) were married on a Saturday, the day I have always thought of as a traditional day to be married.

My grandparents were married 15 Aug 1906, a Wednesday. My grandfather had his own shoemaker shop in NJ and so I wonder why he would have been married on a workday. I find it an intriguing question.

My great-grandparents, farmers in Hungary, were married on 19 Jun 1870, a Sunday. Now this makes sense as these farmers worked their fields every day except Sunday, the day they attended church. The only surprise to me is that they were married in June before the harvest was in, but this is probably more a matter of when the priest was available.

My husband's great-grandparents were married in Belfast, Ireland, on 26 Dec 1865, a Tuesday and also Boxing Day. I know that Boxing Day became an official holiday during the reign of Queen Victoria, but I'm not aware if there is any significance to being married on Boxing Day other than it might have been a day off from work for the couple.

Back to the U.S.

My husband's grandparents were married on a Wednesday in 1901 in Pennsylvania. He worked for the railroad.

Another of my great-grandparents were married in Pennsylvania on 21 Apr 1889, a Sunday. My great-grandfather worked in a factory when the work week was 6 days long. Sunday was his only day off from work.

As I kept checking the wedding dates of our U.S ancestors, I find that all in my family tree in the 1800's were married on a Wednesday with the exception of two couples on Tuesday and one on Sunday. None on Saturday.

Were most people married on a Wednesday in the 1800's? Did everyone already know this but me? Or is my family unusual? Did this Victorian poem about weddings really reflect popular thinking of the time?

"Monday for wealth
Tuesday for health
Wednesday-the best day of all!
Thursday for crosses
Friday for losses
Saturday-no luck at all!"

If you want to learn the day on which your ancestors were married so that you too can ponder why your ancestors married on the day they did, you can use the Day of the Week Calculator .

The calculator used the Gregorian calendar so be aware of when the calendar changed from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in the country for which you are performing the calculation.

You may also start wondering as to why your ancestors chose the day they did for a wedding day, how difficult it must have been to get married on a work day and how difficult it may for others to attend the ceremony.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Family Tree Maker 2008 Beta Additional Thoughts

NOTE: Family Tree Maker 2008 has been released and is no longer in beta or available for download.

**The Genealogy software program Family Tree Maker 2008 is available at The Ancestry Store and is constantly being updated and improved. **

I've been playing a lot this week with the new Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA. As with any new program, finding and doing things at first seems a bit awkward, but it didn't take long for me to really appreciate the new program. When you test a beta, even a public beta, you just start using the program without a manual. I think I have discovered a lot using this "click on everything" method of learning. I would consider myself an average user of FTM, not a heavy duty user.

The Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA is available for everyone to download. For those who are hesitant about downloading, I can tell you that downloading the beta does not overwrite your previous versions of FTM. The beta downloads into its own separate folder. And when you delete the beta, which I did just so I could verify this statement, your previous FTM program and file are still there. However, BE SURE TO MAKE A COPY of your data file to use in your beta testing, and read all the warnings on the beta page.

You many want to read My First Thoughts about FTM 2008 before you read my additional thoughts below. I've been playing with the beta for the week since I wrote that article and now I have additional observations.

More Things I like about FTM 2008:

  • The screens make it easier to see everything in one glance. The family view now combines the family tree and family group. The person view displays facts, sources, notes, and tasks in one view. I don't have to click on facts, then return to person, then click on notes, then come back to person. I can see it all on one screen. I really like this combined view because not only is it a time saver but it makes it much easier to see what I have and to spot what is missing or incorrect.

  • There is a much smarter name index. The index can be sorted by Family Name, Given Name, Birth Date, Marriage Date, or Death Date. You can also choose to show dates (for clarification) in the index or not show dates (to take up less screen space) and easily toggle back and forth between the two. There is also now an index filter so that you can filter the index to just show all ancestors or all descendants of one person. You can also filter the index by an endless combination of facts. For example, I filtered the index to find all those buried in one cemetery. I filtered to find all those who had an unknown in the name field. I filtered to find all my ancestors who had a military fact that contained the words Civil War. You can filter out names as well. I can see where the index filter will be a very, very handy feature.

  • I had already mentioned in my First Thoughts that I like the linked sources and citations because I thought it would keep the file to a more manageable size. But I also discovered that because the sources are now linked, the need to copy and paste my sources is much reduced.

  • The Place Authority allows me to resolve place names by making sure a place is spelled correctly and used in a consistent format throughout my family tree file. Last week when I first took a look at FTM2008, I had a quibble with the Place Authority because I wanted to be able to add the word "county" to Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, but after using the Place Authority for a bit, I have changed my mind. Using the Place Authority is very worthwhile just to have my names consistent and correct in the file. This consistency allows me to go to the Place Manager where I can see all those in my file who are associated with the same place. The Place Authority Database contains 3 million complete world-wide place names and is constantly updated. It has found counties for me in European and South American countries that I hadn't previously found. The Place Authority is a great feature, and I'm glad I kept playing with it so that I could see the advantages.

  • FTM 2008 has a separate Place Description where I can add addresses and townships in addition to the Place Name. I've also been adding the names of the cemeteries to the Place Description.

  • There is a global task management. I can enter a "to-do" or task for a person, name it, prioritize it, and even assign a due date. I'm not a due date type of person for my genealogy, but I can see where it would be valuable to get certain tasks done before a research trip or before a family reunion. The due date would be one way to tag them. I can then go to the global task management and sort all my "to-do's" by name or category or due date or prioritization. Or I can view the task list on the Person View.

  • I can open the program to be full screen and then go into Tools > Options and then check Use Large Fonts. This combination of bigger screen and large fonts is perfect for me.

  • The Person View can show the list of facts, a timeline view or relationships.
    • The timeline view lists personal, family, and historic events. I really like the time line view that adds the family events. Now only can I use it to make sure my dates make sense (no children born when mother is 3 years old and that sort of thing), but I can also see how family events fit together.
    • The relationship view that lists family relationships - parents, siblings, children along with the type of relationship.

  • I can view all of the images and media for every person from one location. I can link one media file to multiple people and then view all of the people a media file is linked to.

  • I can view all of the sources in my tree from one location. And now that I have viewed all my sources from one location, I realize I have some work ahead of me to make my sources consistent and correct. I've been inputting sources since FTM v3 back in 1995 when FTM sourcing was pretty primitive, and was trying to fix these old sources as I found them.

  • Sources have full reference notes and flexible citation, along with a place to put a source link, a place to put notes that can then be formatted and privatized, and place to put a copy of the media. When entering sources you will be able to fill in the form once, then select multiple individuals to connect that source information to. If you merge a record from Ancestry, it will add an image copy of the record to the Source Citation Media. Plus the sources can now be rated using standardized rating or your own rating system with a note for rating justification.

  • There is a Converts Names Tool which can change all names in your tree to either First Name, Middle, Surname or First Name, Middle, SURNAME. I can see it would be useful to switch to SURNAME for one report, and then back again to Surname for another report. The tool is useful to make sure data files use a consistent format.

  • There is a history list displays the changes made to records in the tree for that session.

  • There is now a DNA Marker fact. I've been toying with the idea of having DNA testing but haven't done it yet, so I'm not exactly sure how the DNA Marker fact will work or if it will work well but I'm glad they are thinking ahead.

  • I can export files to FTM 2008 and Gedcom 5.5 (only) and export reports to Share to Ancestry, to Ancestry Press, or send an email as: pdf, csv, rtf, image, or html. These new formats look like they might be useful for me to send to my family who do not have Family Tree Maker.

  • There is plug-in management which I assume means that there will be additions and plug-ins developed to use with FTM2008. I have no idea what will be ready in time for the release, but it is nice to know that they are thinking ahead to improve and add features to FTM.

  • At first, I found the new integration search with the web site layout to be too squishy-looking, but I found it is much improved if I move move the bottom panel by clicking on the dotted line to give me more room. Click again to move the bottom panel back up. Even better, I found the option to open in a new browser window to keep the screen from looking too squashed.

  • Locations are integrated with Microsoft Virtual Earth in both in 2D (road, aerial, and hybrid views) and in 3D (bird's eye view)

Things I don't like:
To be clear, these are things I don't like in the beta version - the release version will undoubtedly have changes and updates based on our feedback.

  • In FTM 16, after I have merged a record from Ancestry.com, the Ancestry record is marked as Merged in the program. I can also chose to mark the record "Done or Ignore", so that I don't repeat searches that I have already done. On FTM beta 2008, I cannot find a way to mark records as Merged, Done, or Ignore. I can merge the record into my program, just not mark it as merged. Having it marked it is a good way to know what searches I have done so I don't repeat my efforts. That leaf which appears on a person's name to show that Ancestry has matching records stays there even after record has been looked at. I would prefer it disappear after records have been checked, then reappear if there are new matching records. I'm not sure if I haven't figure out how to work this, or if this feature is just not there, or if it is a feature that is "coming soon". I did send an email to report this to the email address at Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA and I hope others who find this important will report it as well. Of course, there is no way to know what will be added to the release version of FTM 2008.

  • The new Place Authority uses today's names and boundaries, but many places in my family file no longer exist or the boundaries have changed. This feature isn't really something I dislike, but it is something to to be aware of. I'll have to give some thought to the best way to record my places where names or boundaries have changed. I can use a combination of Place, Place Description, and Place Notes, but first I'll see how this appears in my reports before I decide on how I want to enter this.

  • Now that I have consistent locations via the Place Authority, I haven't figured out how to delete garbage locations out of my Fast Fields. This feature wasn't in FTM 16 either, as far as I know, but I sure would like it now.

The more I use the Beta and keep experimenting with the features, the more I like FTM 2008. This complete redesign is a huge leap forward. This version of FTM has many new features, better functionality and is easier to use. Every time I open the program I find new features I hadn't noticed before. Many of the new features such as Place Authority, Timeline, Map Integration, Smart Index, Notes Privatization, Source Quality Ratings, Source Management and Media Management are going to be great to use.

I can't wait to get my copy of FTM2008, and start using my real data.

There are still a lot of things I haven't tried and I have a feeling that I have left many stones unturned. My file is small and contains only about 2000 people. I suggest anyone who is interested to download the BETA and make your own decision if this is the right program for you. Others may have different priorities than I do in a genealogy program. Remember this is a beta version, not the release version, and I don't know what will be changed or added before the release. For those who can't download the beta, here is the FTM 2008 What's New that is listed in the program.

Caution: Entering data into the beta should be done only to see how the program handles your information and not for updating your family files. Using a test file has allowed me to try things I might not have otherwise tried for fear of messing up my original data file.

I see using the beta and sending feedback to the email listed on the beta page as a way of having a bit of say in the program. If there is something missing in the beta version that you feel is important, write to the email address on the Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA page. If they didn't want feedback from all of us, they wouldn't have released a public beta and given us the email address.

The release version of Family Tree Maker 2008 is now available.

And I was surprised to see The Official Guide to Family Tree Maker 2008 already available for pre-order at Amazon.

Family Tree Maker 2008

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Google Operator "OR"

One of Google operators that can help give better and easier web search results is the OR operator.

The OR operator tells Google to search for either keyword in your query. In other words, only one of the keywords must be present in your search results. OR must be typed in uppercase letters or Google will ignore it.

Here are some ways to use the OR operator in genealogy searching:

  • Use OR to search for multiple spellings of a name. There are many surnames in my family tree that I have seen spelled differently from document to document. Instead of doing a search for one surname spelling followed by another search for the second spelling, you can use the OR operator to search for both spellings in just one query. Your search results will list web pages that have either spelling.

  • sara OR sarah
    meyers OR myers
    reed OR reid

  • Use OR to search for words that have the same meaning.
    obit OR obituary OR "death notice"

  • Use OR to search for a location and its abbreviation. Some web pages will list one or the other but not both. You can also use the OR to look for webpages that may contain the old-fashioned abbreviation that data transcriptions from years ago may have used.

  • DE OR Delaware
    DE OR Delaware OR Del

  • Use OR in combination with quotes to search for the various ways a name may appear on a webpage.
  • "Patrick Powers" OR "Powers, Patrick" OR "Patrick J. Powers"

You can also use the ¦ symbol in place of the word OR. On my computer keyboard, the ¦ symbol is on the key above the "enter" key (using the shift key). Using the ¦ will give the exact same search results as using the OR. Some people may prefer to use it because it is only one keystroke. NOTE: On some computers the symbol ¦ may appear to be a solid bar; on other computers, the symbol ¦ may have a space in the middle of the bar.

sara ¦ sarah
meyers ¦ myers
DE ¦ Delaware
reid ¦ reed
obit ¦ obituary ¦ "death notice"

For step by step instructions for building a Google genealogy query, go to Learn to Build a Genealogy Query

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Family Tree Maker 2008 Beta First Thoughts

NOTE: Family Tree Maker 2008 has been released and is no longer in beta or available for download.

**The Genealogy software program Family Tree Maker 2008 is available at The Ancestry Store and is constantly being updated and improved. **

Because FTM 2008 is such a completely new program with a whole new look and architecture, TGN is releasing a public beta so they can get comments from a large amount of potential users. If you decide to download the beta, be sure to send any comments or problems to the email address found on Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA .

It took a long time for me to download the program, but I understand there is a lot of debugging code still in the software as most beta releases have, so hopefully the program should be streamlined and faster by the time of the final release in mid-August. If you are on dial up or do not want to download at this time, Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA has some screen shots so you can see what the new FTM looks like.

Things I like about the new program:

  • Photos and sources are now linked instead of embedded into program. This should keep data files down to a more manageable size.
  • Sources can now be assigned a quality rating from one to four stars. You can use the built-in standardized rating system based on Elizabeth Shown Mills' excellent book, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian or you can devise your own source rating method.
  • Notes can be made private on an individual basis. This is one feature I have really wanted and I have many notes that I will privatize so they don't appear on reports.
  • Both the pedigree and family group are on the same page, so there is no need to toggle back and forth between screens. Editing is done in the right panel. If you don't like this look, you can configure the family view by dragging or collapsing panes.
  • Web searches can be performed for each individual person not just on Ancestry.com but on RootsWeb.com , Google, Yahoo and more. The searches are preset with the name and year. You can use the "webclipper" to save text or images found on the Internet to FTM. Also, you can add your favorite websites to be searched.
  • There are multiple notes for each individual, and notes for each fact and event. The text in notes can be formatted.
  • Places are integrated with Microsoft Virtual Earth.
  • Automatically shows relationship of any person in file to home person. I set the home person to me, but you can choose anyone in the file to be the home person.

  • The new TimeLine View that lists personal, family, and historic events.

Things I don't like:

  • No books YET. The program says Books are "coming soon". Since FTM 2008 is a complete rebuild, it is not surprising that some things are not yet ready.
  • The Place Authority, which is used to resolve place names by making sure a place is spelled correctly and used in a consistent format throughout your family tree file, doesn't put the word county after county name. And I don't see a way to add it. I prefer Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey. The Place Authority database suggests Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA. I can choose to ignore the Place Authority, however. I'll have to think about which notation is really best for me, as I really like the idea of matching my places against the Place Authority database.

There are obviously a lot of things I have not yet tried. The program is easy to use, but if you are used to earlier versions of FTM, you will find it quite different at first. I have imported a copy of my data file into the beta and have just being going from screen to screen clicking on everything to see how it works. After a little bit of doing this, the program seems pretty intuitive and very easy to navigate. It's nice to be able to give a program a try before deciding whether to purchase it.

Family Tree Maker 2008

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Family Tree Maker 2008 Beta Available to the Public!

NOTE: Family Tree Maker 2008 is no longer in beta or available for download.

**The Genealogy software program Family Tree Maker 2008 is available at The Ancestry Store and is constantly being updated and improved. **

Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA is now available for download to the public. Everyone is welcome to download the beta program, give it a try, and send feedback. It is a huge download so you need the broadband to access it. I have DSL and it took 25 minutes to download and install.

WARNING: Do NOT open your present FTM data file in the beta program. Make a copy of your current data file, then rename the copy. Use that for your test drive of 2008. Or use a GEDCOM to import your data.

WARNING: Files created in this beta may not open in the release version of the product. Always keep a backup of your data in another genealogy program (such as Family Tree Maker 16).

Read the whole page at Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA before you decide to download as there are a number of warnings. The Beta is only available for Windows XP / Windows Vista and will stop functioning on August 24th.

OK, now that the warnings are out of the way, download the FTM beta and have fun. The program has a completely different look and feel. So far, I like what I see, but I only just downloaded it and haven't really tried a lot of the features.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Search Your Google Web History

Sometimes it happens that I might want to revisit a genealogy site that I didn't think necessary to bookmark at my first visit. It just happened to me this week. When I first visited this site, I didn't think this site had any relevance to my research, but later, based on some newly-found information I had received, I wanted to double check the site. But unfortunately, I hadn't bookmarked the site, couldn't remember the name, nor what keywords I used to originally find the site in Google.

However, there is a way to find previously visited sites by restricting Google search to your Google Web History.

To search and/or browse web pages you have previously visited via Google Search, you can do so using your Google Web History. Log into your account at Google, click on iGoogle on the Google homepage, and then select “Web History” on the very top and right. Now you can use the “Search History” search box to search only within the web pages you previously visited via Google. I found Google had my web history for 2 years.

If Google has no Web History for you, be sure to enable Save Web History in your Google account.

For more Google ideas, check out Genealogy Google Search Ideas.