Category Archives: Tips

Wonderful Teaching Videos From Thomas MacEntee On Using Various Software Tools To Make Your Genealogy Research Better Managed And More Productive; Links Included

Hi Everyone!

CAGGNI logoI love the ability to learn new things by being able to watch and listen to directions given by an expert presenter.

Translation… look for those nice teaching videos that exist on a variety of genealogical topics as well as on genealogical software tools to help you in all aspects of your research.

I was just browsing through the recent Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) Newsletter for June 2014.  In the issue is a section titled “President’s Message”.  In this issue, Nancy R. Thomas, President of CAGGNI,  focused on electronic capabilities to learn more about genealogy via live online attendance of streaming educational programs, archived webinars from a software developer for a charge and some free online educational videos/screencasts created by a well-known speaker.

I took a look at the website noted in the article for Thomas MacEntee who was the CAGGNI Keynote speaker at their recently held first ever all-day genealogy conference.  Nancy noted in her article that Thomas has some wonderful educational and informative videos for the genealogical community to view and learn.

The topics are varied and presented in short run times like about 8 minutes as well as lengthy ones presented in as long as about 1 hour.

Here is a listing of the topics presented by Thomas MacEntee that can help you learn about various genealogically oriented software tools to help you create, manage and organize so much of what we as genealogists accumulate:

  • Project Management – Using a Simple Excel Spreadsheet to Track Tasks, Projects and Progress (About 9 minutes)
  • The Password Trick – How I Learned I Could Have a Different Password for Every Website … And Still Remember Them All (About 11 minutes)
  • Facebook Groups Versus Facebook Pages – Which One Should You Use? (About 1 hour)
  • EverNote – Easy Note-Taking for Genealogists (About 1 hour)
  • Weebly – Easy Web Site Creation for Genealogists (About 1 hour)

You can find these free and informative videos offered by ThomasHack Genealogy Logo MacEntee, a local genealogist and speaker at his web site at:

Thomas MacEntee’s HackGenealogy Website Videos Section

Also, just visit the entire website of Thomas MacEntee to see all of the other material he has out there to make your genealogical research efforts more productive and more manageable.  You can visit his full site at:

Thomas MacEntee Hack Genealogy Website

I am so glad I read the complete article by Nancy R. Thomas in the recent CAGGNI June 2014 newsletter.  The tips she provided for online webinars, streaming videos and the like are wonderful teaching aids.  I was familiar with the many that she mentioned but the ones from Thomas MacEntee were not on my radar.

It is always nice to make a new discovery of some valuable resources for genealogists to learn even more.

Thanks to Nancy for sharing the link to Thomas’ videos and thanks to Thomas MacEntee for making these videos available to the genealogy community.

Enjoy these videos so that you can learn even more about tools and methods that exist to help the genealogist connect!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Video “Capsule” Of The Recently Held GeneaQuest All-Day Genealogy Conference Held On May 17, 2014 That Was Put Together By The Computer Assisted Genealogy Group Of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI); Video Included In This Post

Hi Everyone!

CAGGNI logoFor the last 3 or 4 months you probably heard me mention about the then upcoming GeneaQuest All-Day Genealogy Conference that was being created by the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI).

The conference was held on May 17, 2014 at the Elgin Community College.

Were you unable to attend this first time all-day conference hosted by CAGGNI?

Do you wish you had gone?

Do you regret that omission now?

Wish you were there now?

Would you like to be able to make up for that omission now?

Well, redemption is just a short click away.

Thanks to the efforts of Elaine Beaudoin, a member of CAGGNI, you can actually view a picture /video “capsule” of the day’s programs that includes a collage of pictures as well as some video snippets.  It is about an 8 minute 30 second video that is posted on YouTube from the group.

The technical compilation of this video is spectacular.  It truly looks like a professionally created video that will not only fixate you on the sights of the conference but you will also be tapping your feet to the accompanying soundtrack on the video!

Once again this local genealogy organization seems to have outdone itself again.  What an organization!  They truly put into play the focus of technology on how it melds with genealogy by evidence of this great video.

If you were unable to attend or if you did attend and just want to re-live the day through an 8 minute 30 second video take a look at it right here:

If you are not a member of CAGGNI I think that after seeing this video you may want to run, that’s right, run over to the next program they offer and become a member.  Surround yourself with knowledgeable, energetic and helpful people.  Their enthusiasm will certainly rub off on you!

You might not have been at their conference but the above video will certainly make you feel like you were there!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library



Dick Eastman Has A Great Post At His Site Titled “The Death Of Microfilm”; Well-Worth Reading; Link To Article Included

Hi Everyone!

Microfilm LDS ReaderI was just perusing some of the recent posts at Dick Eastman’s online blog and saw a fascinating post about one of the most important genealogical resources that has been available to researchers.


Yes, microfilms have been the storage media of much of the material genealogists, especially more-seasoned researchers, have been tapping into for years.

However, more and more of “new” genealogical researchers may have never had the privilege to tap into these powerful storage reels.  Rather, they immediately and only go to tap into digital online data.  If only they could realize how potentially limiting that behavior is to thwart their own research efforts!

Online digital access is the way it is done today because it is simply there to access in that manner.  But everything you may need is not included in these large-scale online digital depositories.

But as you can see the title of Dick’s post “The Death of Microfilm” is one that genealogical researchers cannot turn a deaf ear to.

I wanted to give you a direct link to Dick’s post in my post because I Microfilm Rollthink the well-written and lengthy article should be reviewed by all genealogists, whether or not you have ever utilized a microfilm to advance your genealogical research.

You can see Dick Eastman’s “The Death of Microfilm” article here:

Dick Eastman’s May 29, 2014 Post “The Death of Microfilm”

The article that is accessible via the above link should be a “Must Read”.

It is not only microfilms that are on a steep-slope of decline.  It is also all the surrounding technology, manufacturing and the like that supports microfilming that will disappear in the future.  No one is making microfilm cameras.  Microfilm readers are not being made.  The film itself is not even being manufactured anymore!

Any institution utilizing the microfilming industry has been in a long transition to eliminate that storage media within their organization and transition to the new digital age where images are online on gigantic servers and either available for free or via subscription services.  I don’t think that trend is going to change which can be looked as a great thing for genealogical researchers.  The data you seek to look through can now be discovered and viewed in milliseconds instead of in hours of hand cranking a microfilm reader.

Microfilm data will still be around for some time to come.  But we all know the inevitable end result.

So next time you are researching your ancestors on that microfilm reader at a local family history center thank your stars that the equipment is still working.  Because when those break down and are not fixable because no replacement parts exist, we will all be in a world of hurt!

Know what the road ahead looks like for microfilms and all the supporting industry components surrounding the production of a microfilm.  Read Dick’s article.  It is well worth the time to be informed on this topic that has been so instrumental to the research for many of us.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Family History Centers Will Be Having Scanning Equipment Available To Use On-Site

Hi Everyone!

Family-History-Center-logoI was just reading through some of the summaries that Dick Eastman was posting on his blog related to his attendance at the recent National Genealogical Society (NGS) Annual Conference.

One item caught my eye that he  reported on within his summary of the Day One proceedings.

He noted that all Family History Centers (FHC) now have quality scanners at their locations for researchers to use.

Here is the quote Dick Eastman had in his post about this new development:

“FamilySearch has installed new scanners at all North American local Family History Centers with overseas locations being added now. Anyone who visits a Center is invited to use the local scanner to scan old family photos and upload directly to and/or to save to a local flash drive. The service is aimed at those who do not own photo-quality scanners. There is no requirement to upload to although that is suggested. However, all visitors do have the option to only save digital images to a local flash drive which they can then take home and use as they wish.”

The intended use is that a researcher who does not own a personal scanner can use the scanner at the center or someone who does can still use the FHC scanner.  It is also thought that the scanners would be used for material that would be uploaded to the FamilySearch website into the Family Trees that exist.  A user of the scanner can use the equipment and does not have to upload any material.  All scans can be saved by the researcher to do with as they please.

So if you are an individual that does not have a scanner at home or have one but just happen to need one while at the FHC, this may be a workaround alternative to get your material scanned.  I think a 5 minute training session from the volunteer on duty would be enough to get you going.  But as Dick Eastman’s comments were noted, plan on bringing a flashdrive with you to put your scanned material onto.

So now you have a reason to use the facility for more than just microfilm reading.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township district Library

Military Records Are A Very Valuable Resource For Genealogy Information; MyHeritage Will Be Offering Free Access To Military Records From May 23, 2014 to May 26, 2014 (Over Memorial Day Weekend)

Hi Everyone!

MyHeritage LogoMilitary records can be a very valuable resource for your genealogy research.  Oftentimes voluminous amounts of data can be found for ancestors whether they served in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I or World War II.  Do not overlook these records on those ancestors that had been in the military.

I just happened to be visiting the Dick Eastman online blog and the most recent post I noted was related to military records.  And it was related to these records with the famous buzzword “FREE”.

According to the post,  MyHeritage will be offering “FREE” access to its online military records over the Memorial Day weekend.  The dates cover Friday May 23, 2014 to Monday May 26, 2014.

You will be able to access the “FREE” military records via the following link when it has opened for searching:

MyHeritage is a subscribable site.  For those of you subscribed to it these military records are available to you already.  For those of you not subscribed to MyHeritage you will be able to now view these military records for free over the Memorial Day Weekend.  If you find good material by accessing the data freely then perhaps you would even consider subscribing to the service offered by MyHeritage.

Here is a link to Dick Eastman’s exact post about the “FREE” offer by MyHeritage:

MyHeritage Offers FREE Access To Military Records Through Memorial Day Weekend From May 23, 2014 To May 26, 2014

Check out the data when it becomes available and see what you can find on your ancestors with military service that perhaps you were not aware of.

You can always visit MyHeritage and see all that they offer at

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


“What’s New At May 2014″ YouTube Video

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a May 2014 video posted from that is titled “What’s New At May 2014″.

The video is an approximate 25 minute production hosted by Crista Cowan of who provides the viewers with updates on what new things users of should be aware of.

Crista also mentions that in addition to the monthly YouTube video she creates describing “new” things at for a particular month the reader should always check the blog from that you can access at: Blog

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • Upcoming Conferences – Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, CA (Jun 6-8, 2014); International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) in Salt Lake City, UT  (July 27 – August 1, 2014); Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas August 27 – August 30, 2014).
  • New Content! – 25 Million new records added for 32 countries in the Ancestry databases.  Quaker records have been added that constitute 11 million of the 25 million records added.
  • Research Reminders #1 – Read the complete database descriptions for the newly added material to know what is contained and what is NOT contained.  Don’t just search!
  • Research Reminder #2 – Understand the records you are looking at when you are searching a newly added database.  Knowing what is there will help you create better search terms for better results.  Just create a “test” input search to see the results.
  • Research Reminder #3 – Look at the “related” data collections noted on the right side of the view of the newly created database.  This will provide you with other suggested databases to consider searching that may have a connection to the database you are looking at.
  • Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906 – 1924 – key database added this month.  This database is indexed and contains images of original documents.  Contains about 2.5 million indexed records and document images.
  • Crista spent a good time on this video noting that it is important to consider “browsing” records rather than always searching indexed databases.  Browsing databases are those that have not yet been indexed.  You cannot search these but the data as images is available for you to look through.  The data is generally subdivided into manageable viewing components.  Think of it as viewing a microfilm online.  Look at an individual database via the “Card Catalog” and look to see if it has a “Browse Box” that allows you to look at the data but not be able yet to search it.  The “browse box” implies the data is not yet indexed for direct searching.

You can view this video directly here:

Crista does an excellent job of sharing what is new at that can make your use of the product even more effective and beneficial with your family history research.  She shows you via her computer screen what to look for at the site.

I also did a search on YouTube looking for similarly titled videos and did discover that there are many “What’s New At” videos on YouTube going back at least until April of 2012.  These series of videos are a great tool to use to review going back in time so you keep current with all that is being offered and added to

Here is a simple link to my search in YouTube that will give you this nice list of these videos posted to YouTube that you can do some catching up on to know about all of the new things at

“What’s New At” YouTube Videos

The host does a very good job verbally describing the new additions as well as showing you the new things at Ancestry via screencasting.  That allows you to see her computer screen as she points out the various “new” things you may see at and where they are located.

Because so many of us use, either via a personal subscription or by using the Ancestry product at our local libraries, these YouTube videos are quite informative to keep users up to date with new features that take root on  The host provides even more depth to the importance of the change and even why it was done.

I think you will enjoy the most recent video above as well as looking at the link above for even more of these videos.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Steve Szabados Has Authored Another Genealogy Help Book; The Title Is “Write Your Family History: Easy Steps to Organize, Save and Share”; Available At

Hi Everyone!

Steve Szabados

Steve Szabados

Steve Szabados, a recurring genealogy program presenter at our library, has informed me that he has another new genealogy help book that has been published.

The book tries to explain the process he uses to go from his research to pages that he shares with family members. These pages turn into a family history that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The title of the book is Write Your Family History: Easy Steps to Organize, Save and Share.

I plan on adding this book to our library’s circulating collection so it can be checked out.

Steve is an avid Polish genealogy researcher and wants to share his publication successes with all other researchers regardless of what they are researching.

Steve informs me the book is available through  Here is a link to providing information about Steve’s new book:

Steve Szabados Newly Published Genealogy Help Book; “Write Your Family History: Easy Steps to Organize, Save and Share” At

Steve also offers personal help to those doing Polish genealogical research through his volunteer efforts at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.  Steve is there on each Friday morning from 9 AM to 12 Noon.

Steve knows his stuff about all things “genealogy”.  He also knows his stuff about “Polish genealogy”.

Consider picking up a copy of this new book through  Let Steve’s words and guidance allow you to take your genealogical research material from what you have to a more polished, publication-ready document that can easily wind up in the hands of all of your extended family members giving them the chance to get a better picture of where everyone came from!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library