Family Trees: Syncing, GEDCOM and Backups

Electronic family trees are a terrific way to capture what you learn about your ancestors. They can help you organize and share what you have found. Once organized, you can analyze what you know and what you need to find.

At a recent class, there were a lot of great questions about family trees. Thinking about family trees, a blog post might help to sort out some of those answers.

While there is a lot to consider about putting a tree online or keeping a family tree on your own computer, there are definitely reasons to do both!

 

Should I backup my online tree?
There is an expectation that an online tree will be backed up by the hosting website. But what if that website gets sold to another company? or undergoes a cyber attack and has a loss of data? or decides that it no longer wants to host family trees?

It is always a good idea to backup your online tree. If you have it on your personal computer, you can still use the tree during a time when you are not connected to the Internet. You also have access to your tree if one of the situations in the above paragraph occurs.

Syncing (synchronizing) the trees online and on a home computer can be thought of backing up the tree.

 

GEDCOMs
You can certainly download a tree from Ancestry.com or FindMyPast.com , and the format will

GEDCOM is an acronym for Genealogical Data Communications (but I have seen it referred to as Genealogical Electronic Data Communications).

Think of this as the most basic, stripped down form of your tree. It includes data about the individuals including sources, and linkages between individuals. In fact, it is a text file that follows the rules of a format that all family tree programs understand. The extension for this type of files is .ged

Imagine you wanted to transfer text from one fancy word processing program to another, but they don’t open each others file format. So, you might decide to save your document as a plain text file, that can be opened by another word processor. Of course, that simple text file would not have all the images you inserted and detailed formating that you might have done in your original.

 

Sync
To synchronize, or sync, means to make your online tree and the one on your computer match.

This comes in handy when you are attaching people, facts and documents to an online tree. That way you can get those additional people, facts and documents into the tree on your computer.

If you have the same tree online and on your computer, you can consider that a backup.

But, some people like me use the online tree to collect data, while the one on my computer has a lot more information, especially about living people. Just be aware whether or not the family tree program on your computer allows you to choose to upload or download your tree from the Internet.

 

Downloading GEDCOMs
For many of your online trees, you have the ability to download a GEDCOM that contains all the people and facts from the tree. Remember, GEDCOMs do not have all the media attached, so you will not get the pictures and documents downloaded.
Note: When there is one tree for everyone on the website, a GEDCOM cannot be downloaded.

Ancestry.com and FindMyPast.com Family Tree -> View all trees next to each of your trees are three buttons: Settings, Export, Delete. You will Export your tree.

 

How-to Information
After the class, one of the attendees and I sat down to look for videos to show how to do all these tasks. Since you know I use Google quite a bit, you will not be surprised to learn that I searched for the following terms:

  • download GEDCOM from ancestry
  • rootsmagic sync with ancestry
  • rootsmagic sync with familysearch

then selected the link to show results in the Video category.

There were how-to videos for all the family tree programs.

 

Good luck and let me know how you do!

 

Rootstech 2018 Videos and Handouts

Rootstech 2018 is over and if you did not make it, you can still view some of the videos and all of the handouts at the link below. It is great that Rootstech lets us all be a part of it.

Videos can be viewed here.

The handouts for the sessions can be viewed and downloaded here.

 

Our Newest Book is Here!

It has been a long time in the works, and the project has kept us busy, but it is finally here.

Using the techniques in the book “Researching Your U.S. WWI Army Ancestors“, the material about the 51st Pioneer Infantry was gathering and combined into a new product.

With Rifle and Shovel:

The 51st Pioneer Infantry Regiment in WWI

is now available on Amazon 

The men of the 51st Pioneer Infantry were mostly draftees. While other soldiers fought with rifles, they used shovels. They also saw combat. As shells went off around them, the pioneers filled holes with rubble collected from destroyed villages. Those roads were the battlefield lifeline, allowing troops and supplies to move forward, while ambulances took the wounded back to hospitals. They cleared the roads that had been booby-trapped by the retreating German Army. They marched at night to hide from the enemy. After the Armistice, they marched into Germany to be part of the Army of Occupation. The Pioneer Infantry provided labor where ever and when ever needed, including guarding railways and bridges, and burying the dead. This book combines information found in archives and a variety of other sources. The material has been blended into a new product that tells the story of the 51st Pioneer Infantry Regiment. It is intended to be both a narrative and a reference for those researching this Regiment.

Contact us to find out about group discounts.

Researching Connecticut WWI Ancestors

Researching Connecticut WWI Ancestors

Connecticut is a special place, filled with beautiful scenery and gorgeous fall colors. My years in Connecticut were spent studying and researching for my PhD. So, when I learned of some great resources for WWI research in Connecticut, I had to post them.

The Connecticut State Library has an introductory page describing their holdings in the state archives.

 

As you probably know, finding a summary for your WWI Veteran’s service is the key to unlocking more records about his service.

The Internet Archive offers three volumes of Service records: Connecticut men and women in the armed forces of the United States during World War, 1917-1920 These books are downloadable in a variety of electronic formats. There is an index in Volume 3.

The Homepage for the Questionnaires filled out by WWI veterans or their families is here.

These records are also available, indexed on Ancestry.com  Connecticut, Military Questionnaires, 1919-1920. To use this database, Connecticut residents can sign up for a free account at Ancestry.com, using the link.

The Internet Archive also has a downloadable History of Hamden men in the World War.

Connecticut in WWI can be found here. You can add your WWI story to their website, and subscribe to their newsletter.

Connecticut history in WWI can be found here. This website contains links to books, places, documents and websites.

Good luck researching your WWI Ancestors in Connecticut, and let me know how you do.

WWI in the Passenger Lists of the U.S. Army Transport Service (Part I)

In my lectures, I recommend searching for Ancestry.com’s military records from the Military Records Landing Page.

 

 

When you search from the regular search page, the results are from the most popular 10% of all their databases. Searching from the Military Landing Page, I came across records from: U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939. The record in this database give you the name of the person traveling on U.S. Army Transport plus the military organization, the military serial number and whom to notify in case of emergency and his/her relationship to the passenger. The people who would be notified were wives, mothers, father, grandmothers, cousins and friends and their addresses were listed in the record.

This is another possible path to find the military organization and service number of your WWI ancestor! When your ancestor has a common name, you can use the contact information and address to verify you have the correct person in the record.

In the records, you may find family members or foreign personnel that were transported by the Army. These are from the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985, Record Group 92, held at NARA in College Park.

 

Searching the Database

It is always a good idea to read the information about the specific database to learn if there is a reason you cannot locate an individual. When you search an individual database on Ancestry.com, that information is available on its search page. Reading all that is the hardest thing to do when the empty search boxes beckon you, but at least you know where to find the information if you need it.

From the database page, you can search using a variety of fields, or browse starting with the List Type (Outgoing or Incoming).

 

 

From this page for one individual database page, you can search or browse through the collection. You can narrow down your search to one database, and alter your search terms to find your ancestor’s record.

In addition to a name and dates, there are useful fields to search this database.

 

 

Searching for my specific soldier’s name yielded multiple results, but using his military service number tuned right in to his record. This documented his return from France on the S. S. Wilhemina. I checked the box for “Exact” and only one record was returned.

 

 

The actual record is below.

 

 

Finding his way over to France proved a little more challenging. I had to uncheck the exact box for his service number.

One thing to try  is to use a space after a name beginning with “Mc” (or O’, Mac or Van), but that did not help. It was clear his name had been misrecorded or misindexed.

Since I knew it, I added the ship’s name, and added his military organization in the Keyword field: “51st Pioneer Infantry”.

 

 

This proved successful.

 

 

His name was indexed correctly; it was misspelled in the original record.

 

 

Always remember to select and copy the source citation information.

 

 

Reading through these records is interesting. There are notations about soldiers who were transferred between units, hospitalilzed, and those who were A.W.O.L. (Absent With Out Leave) before boarding the ship to Europe. The experience of training, then going off to war had to be overwhelming. For some immigrants, like my Grandfather, it must have seemed surreal to head back to the continent they had left behind a few, or many, years ago.

These records are a great resource for building a timeline of your WWI ancestor’s service. They are invaluable for connecting that ancestor to a family member and a place.

The next post will cover finding information about a specific military organization traveling in this set of  records.

 

 

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Ancestry.com Landing Pages

Did you know that searching from the home page or the search page only includes the top 10% of the databases on Ancestry.com. To dig into the rest, you are going to need to find them!

One way is through a landing page. The landing pages have usually been created for special promotions, such as one during free access weekends. From the landing pages you can search the set of databases related to the topic.

 

 

In my lectures about ancestors in U.S. military, I recommend searching for military records from the Military Records Landing page. The results will contain records that cannot be found by doing a regular search, followed by narrowing down the results to categories. The records are in smaller databases that require you to do a search in a group of related databases through the Landing Page, or search in an individual database that you locate through the Card Catalog.

The Military Records Landing Page is one that I highly recommend. From there, you can search through all the military record databases. You can also narrow down your search to a specific conflict. The World War I page can be reached by going to the Military Records Landing Page, and selecting “World War I”.

Here are some Landing Pages to try:

U.S. Military Collection

U.S. Wills and Probate Records

Immigration records

New York State Records

Starting Your Family Tree

For those with international subscriptions, here are some International Landing Pages:

Canadian Census

Military Records in the U.K.

 

Good luck and let me know how you do with this.

Stay tuned for searching using the Card Catalog in an upcoming blog post.

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