Gravestones can contain errors

gravestones can be inaccurateI know this isn’t news to most of you, but the fact that gravestones can contain errors was brought home to me after my mother passed away last month. As I posted at the time, her obituary contained an error, even though I (a professional writer) had written it myself.

Somehow I felt that more care was given to the accuracy of gravestones, since they are, literally, engraved in stone. But I learned otherwise when my father and I went to the cemetery office to make arrangements. The office worker handed me a printout of what the grave marker would look like (it’s the covering for the niche in which her cremated remains were placed) and my mother’s birth date was wrong. She was born May 2, 1933 and the marker proof said May 5, 1933.

I caught it handily and made the correction. And of course it was simple human error. But what if I hadn’t been there and my grieving father hadn’t caught it? The gravestone would have been wrong. I wonder how many times that has happened in generations gone by. I would imagine our ancestors didn’t have the benefit of seeing proofs.

The experience has led me to take less stock in the “proof” that I had thought a gravemarker provided. It’s simply another secondary source that needs to be verified through other means.

It’s a great reminder of why it’s important to have multiple sources for any facts we track down.

Asking again: How do you use Facebook for genealogy?

FB-f-Logo__blue_100In early May, I wrote a blog post asking you how you use Facebook for genealogy. Unfortunately, a WordPress problem caused the comment Submit button to disappear and readers couldn’t answer the question. So I thought I’d try again. Please let me know how you use Facebook for your research!

Facebook has become part of my daily life and, I bet, yours. It’s almost hard to imagine how we navigated the online world without it. I use it for lots of things, but I don’t use it a whole lot to further my genealogy research. I’d like that to change.

I know that Facebook offers a lot to genealogists and I’m wondering how you all use it. I belong to a few genealogy-related Facebook groups that I find really helpful when I take the time to read them. They are:

I’m also a part of one family group, which was helpful when a reunion was being organized last year. And, of course, I have the Organize Your Family History Facebook page.

Are there other genealogy-related groups or communities that you recommend? Do you use Facebook to find cousins or otherwise further your research? I’d love to hear about it!

SHOTBOX can help you digitize documents

One of the RootsTech vendors I was most excited about was SHOTBOX, a tabletop photo light studio. This portable lightbox makes it easy to use your phone to take good-looking, well-lit photos of three-dimensional objects, which is great for those of who blog. It would also be really useful for folks selling items on eBay, etsy or craigslist.

What’s great for the genealogist, though, is that it provides the ability to easily take photos from above, which can be very useful for digitizing documents or photos (or photo album pages). If you have delicate documents you wouldn’t want to put through a sheet-fed scanner, or if you don’t have a scanner at all, SHOTBOX might be the tool you need to use your phone to digitize documents without risk of damage and without shadows.

Right now, SHOTBOX is running a Kickstarter campaign while they work with the factory to finish the manufacturing and ship by October. I pledged and pre-ordered the SHOTBOX plus the SideShot Kit (a lighted attachment to hold the phone or tablet steady for photos taken from the front), for a total of $149. Once the product is in production, the anticipated retail price will be $149 for the SHOTBOX and $89 for the SideShot.

Go to this page to see examples of photos taken with SHOTBOX.

I’m really excited to receive my SHOTBOX this autumn and put it to use!

Findmypast offers free subscriptions to NGS members

Free findmypast subscription to NGS membersI joined the National Genealogical Society in 2012, when I decided to get serious about genealogy. I’ve stayed a member because of their great publications. Plus, I received discounted registration to their terrific conference, which I intend to keep attending. At only $65 a year, renewing my membership is a no-brainer for me.

Yesterday, that membership became even more valuable.

I received an email from NGS announcing that they’ve partnered with Findmypast (FMP) to offer NGS members free 12-month subscriptions to the FMP US & Canada collection. (They’re usually $99.50.) In addition, NGS members can upgrade to FMP World for $89.50.

I immediately  joined FMP and did a little exploring. After just a cursory look, I don’t know that it’s going to give me much more than I already have, but I have learned that it’s useful to look in multiple places for the information I seek. I bet more research reveals more discoveries. I’m glad to have this resource available to me.

If you don’t already belong to a subscription-based database (or even if you do), it might serve you to join NGS just to get this FMP deal. That’s a lot of bang for your $65.