BCGS Research Tip – July 2014

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Happy Canada Day from the British Columbia Genealogical Society!

This month’s British Columbia Genealogical Society’s research tip is:

Learn how names were (and are) pronounced ‘correctly’; say them out loud (or find a native speaker to do that), then use the sound to help you locate indexed variations. (Works with place names too.)

This can be a helpful idea no matter where your family is from. To give you an idea, here’s a list of English surname pronunciations from a little book called Everybody’s Pocket Companion, Fifth Edition, compiled by A Mercer, M.R.S.T. (Page 50, no date, private collection).

Two of these surnames will be familiar to news hounds and mystery watchers,  but do you have one of these names in your tree?  Continue reading

BCGS Research Tip – June 2014

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This month’s British Columbia Genealogical Society’s research tip is:

Don’t always search ‘the same old way’ on every genealogical website.

Both speakers at the BCGS seminar last month had specific tips for searching some of the websites they discussed. For example, don’t always use that attractive ‘just enter your name’ search box. Check to see if there is an advanced search facility which will let you focus your search in certain collections, or on certain media, for instance, only in digitized documents or images.

And if you see search terms you’re not familar with, don’t hesitate to look for help. For example, the use of ‘Boolean’ search operators may be mentioned or recommended. Here’s a look at these – “What Does Boolean Search Mean” by Wendy Boswell, About.com.

BACKUP Your Data today! It’s World Backup Day

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A bonus genealogy tip today – it’s World Backup Day, March 31st, so if you don’t already, arrange to backup your files automatically and regularly! No genealogist or family historian can afford to lose their hard won research or their pictures or other family files.

World Backup Day logo
If you are wondering how to do this, here’s an article one of my favourite techy people, Bob Rankin, just posted that gives advice and some free alternatives for backup - Free Online Backup and Software Options (at AskBobRankin.com – many more useful articles there.)   Continue reading

BCGS Research Tip – March 2014

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The BCGS Members’ Research Tip for 1 March 2014 is: Change Things Up!

Or as Grandma (born in 1884) used to say, “A change is as good as a rest.” 

Sometimes when a genealogy research path seems blocked, adding something ‘new to you’ to the research mix saves a lot of frustration. Do you use mostly the same ‘big’ databases, the same search engine, or even the same library? Plan for a few changes and see what happens.

A few suggestions might be to try

- Cyndi’s List for newer smaller websites in your area of interest. Many volunteers are putting up their own collections of family or local data and images. CyndisList.com is over 15 years old, and better than ever: http://www.cyndislist.com You can check out the newest links directly by following this Cyndi’s List What’s New link.

- the MillionShort search engine gives you results minus the top one million most popular web sites: https://millionshort.com Can’t hurt to try and you may be pleasantly surprised with new results for your usual genealogy search terms.

- and even if the library you usually use, perhaps the BCGS Walter Draycott Library, is almost perfect, another may have a collection of research files or indexes that could benefit you. (And if you aren’t regularly looking at the BCGS Library, make a change here.) Nowadays you may not even have to visit to take advantage of special collections so look for one that’s in your geographical area of interest and find out what’s there. If you want to visit a library that’s not too far away, arrange with other local genealogists to make a field trip out of it. You’ll all benefit from the companionship and genealogy talk you’ll share.

BCGS Research Tip – January 2014

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The BCGS Members’ Tip for January 1st, 2014 is:  Automate many of your searches.

New Years clock

What better time than New Year’s to add more Internet search power to your genealogy tool kit. For years, many have entered their key surnames and place names into Google Alerts and kept an eye out for incoming e-mails with links to mentions of these on the web. Google Alerts still functions, but not as well as it did, so I’m now also trying out Talkwalker Alerts – another free service, although not perhaps quite as comprehensive.

If you haven’t used a service like this before for your genealogy searches, it’s easy. You will need to give an e-mail address. (I use a more private one for this type of service.)  Choose some of your more unique surnames and enter each as alert key words. I do not suggest entering very common surnames unless you can also enter a less common place name along with the surname. I’d get far too few useful results entering just ADAMS, for instance, but “ADAMS” and “Shipham Somerset” gets me results.