Become a Vintage Aerial Co-Pilot

Friday, 18 Feb 2011 | by Mark Tucker


This last week, I came across a tweet by GeniGrant about a company called Vintage Aerial:


What a cool idea!

VA has access to 25 million aerial photos of rural America taken from 1963 to 2011 covering 41 states:



Oh Beautiful Land!

Friday, 18 Feb 2011 | by Mark Tucker

Dirt. A piece of land to call your own. Something to live for, toil over, fight and sometimes die for. There is something beautiful about land. The opportunity to own land motivated our ancestors and westward expansion was the result.

Google maps is amazing and appeals to my technical side, but old maps fascinate me. Whether it be the details of a topographical map or the artistry of a hand drawn pen and ink. I think maps are beautiful.

Artist Deborah Springstead Ford of Prescott, AZ sees the beauty of land and maps. The Phoenix library’s Burton Barr Central Library is hosting an exhibit titled “Cartography and the Cultural Terrain III” through March 20, 2011.

Here are some samples of what you will see:

A Better Way to Cite Online Sources–Reprise

Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | by Mark Tucker

Back in April 2009, I created a video that showed my dream for how citing online sources should be done (see blog post).  It would be a partnership between online record repositories and desktop genealogy software.  I created a prototype close enough to the real thing to prove that it could be done and to help others visualize how it would work.  I even created a survey to get feedback from others. 

Over 300 people responded to the survey and at the end of the trial period I sent a copy of the results to all participants that provided an e-mail. I planned on blogging about the results but got discouraged at the time.

Two events have happened this week to get me thinking about this again. The first was a comment on my blog by Bruce. He has a website for his personal family history and wanted to know how to go about setting up the site to do citations like the video demonstrated. It saddened me to tell him that it is not possible to do this yet without cooperation from the desktop genealogy software vendors. The second was a direct message via Twitter from fellow genealogy software innovator, Dean.  He contacted me to say that my blog was mentioned in a discussion today at RootsTech on how to handle sources.

Maybe it is time for me to publish the survey results from 2 years ago.

What type of people responded to the survey? People like you and me.  The majority are non-professional researches (plain Jane/Joe family historians)  many of whom belong to local genealogy societies.  Some have visited courthouses, the National Archives, or the Family History Library, but almost all had done research on the internet in the last week. They used sites like Ancestry, Footnote, and FamilySearch and desktop software like RootsMagic, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, and PAF.  Over 99% thought citing sources was important but 75% thought it was difficult to do it.  Over 90% thought that there should be one standard citation guide and 57% were using “Evidence Explained.” When asked if they were interested in the solution provided in the video, 93% said they were interested.

There are more details and nuggets in the survey results.

Maybe we can explore them more in future posts.

Report from Arizona Family History Expo 2011

Friday, 28 Jan 2011 | by Mark Tucker

What a great expo we had here is Arizona. Congratulation to the Family History Expos team on another successful event.


Day 1 Recap




Lisa Louise Cook started off the Expo with a great keynote encouraging us Ol’ Genealogy Dogs to learn some new tricks. Lisa started podcasting her Genealogy Gems when she felt the need to share what she was learning with others. It didn’t matter that she had no idea how to create a podcast, she learned. One of the new tricks she encouraged us to learn is how to cite our sources. Thanks Lisa!


Autosomal DNA


This was the first of 3 classes that I ended up taking on DNA and I am starting to feel a little more comfortable with the topic. Of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that each person has, two determine gender (XX for female, XY for male). The remaining chromosomes are the autosomes. This DNA is made up from the DNA of your ancestors. Whereas we get 50% from our father and 50% from our mother, that DNA is really a mix of all our ancestors. It is helpful in determining where your ancestors came from. The class was taught by Donald N. Yates, Ph.D. of DNA Consultants.


Migration – Boom or Bust


This class taught by Sharon Scott talked about how economic factors affected the migration of our ancestors. A boom might draw people to an area while a bust could push them away. The class was in a smaller room and the interest was so high that they had to bring in extra chairs. Some sat outside the open door. So in a way, the class was a boom. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough room for me, so it was a bust. Check out her website: Find My Dead


Tax Records


This was the first class I took on tax records. Especially helpful was the annual poll or head count tax that counted men starting at age 21 (usually) to 40+. The exact ages varied based on changes in the law. Leland Meitzler did a great job teaching the class. Website: Family Roots Publishing


Finding Female Ancestors


Gena Philibert Ortega taught a class on the various sources that can be used to find those female ancestors. She has a lot of good examples and reminded us how different laws affected women and their appearance in records. She did a great job. Website: Your Family History Research




On Friday night there was a dinner where M. Bridget Cook spoke. Her talk included dealing with the skeletons in our closet and how confronting them can aid the healing process. I was unsure of this topic before she spoke. She has helped write the stories of a reformed skinhead and a woman whose father was a serial killer. Dealing with these tough topics is so much more than the skeletons in my own family tree that I was left with the desire to be a little more open and honest in the telling of my own family history.



Day 2 Recap


My Presentation


At 8am I taught a class on how to navigate research like the pros. It is the same topic that I have presented as past Family History Expos, but feel that it is still relevant. The presentation went well but I had to hurry at the end to finish the 90 slides. The best part was an attendee’s comment after class. She indicated that she was a beginner but that I had made what she thought would be a boring topic very approachable. And that she was inspired to follow the steps of the Genealogical Proof Standard in her research. That made my day. It is exactly why I present this class. I wish I could find more ways to make this topic less scary to other family historians.


More DNA


My second DNA class was taught by Ugo Perego. He showed how Y-DNA and mtDNA can be combined with family trees to infer the DNA of other than your direct-male and direct-female ancestral lines. He works for Genetree.


19th Century Photographs


Gary Clark did a great job explaining how to examine the photos (and the paper that they were sealed to) to get an accurate date range of a photograph. He has an amazing website at that shows over 1000 photographs that you can compare with your photographs to aid in dating them.


Even More DNA


The last class I attended talked about how to read Y-DNA and mtDNA results and make sense of them. It was taught by Elise Friedman. She also spent some time talking about autosomal DNA and how it might be used to infer the likelihood of a specific relationship. Website: Family Tree DNA


Closing Keynote


Holly Hansen, President of Family History Expos, took a few minutes at the end of the expo to share some personal family history stories. It is a real treat to listen to her speak. I can’t imagine putting on an entire expo and then still having the state of mind to speak. 


Dick Eastman Dinner


After the expo closed, a group of 21 attendees had dinner at a local restaurant.  We had a great time. The tables were arranged so that there were groups of 4-5 people together so I didn’t get to meet everyone. Our table had a great conversation about how technology might be used to make family history accessible to the non-genealogists of the family.  Congratulations to Jennifer for winning the free dinner by guessing the closest to the actual amount of the total bill.

Arizona Family History Expo – This Weekend

Tuesday, 18 Jan 2011 | by Mark Tucker

Wow, I cannot belive that another year has passed and it is time to see my friends at the Family History Expo.  The speakers and exhibitors are so friendly and approachable.
Here is the details of the conference:
Main Conference link

Mesa Convention Center
263 North Center Street
Mesa, AZ 85201 

Friday, January 21, 2011 at 7 am
 Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 7:30 am

“Ol’ Dogs Can Learn New Tricks: Looking to the Past for the Future of Your Family History Research”
by Lisa Louise Cooke
Friday at 8am

Full Schedule (so you can plan ahead)



101 classes with at least 10 choices each block!

Friday: Start times (10a, 11:30a, 1:30p, 3p, 4:30p)
Saturday: Start times (8a, 9:30a, 11a, 1p, 2:30p)
Classes cover topics from beginner to advanced including:
- getting started
- software, technology
- research, records, organizing, personal histories
- international
- FamilySearch, Ancestry,
- Blogging
- Much much more

It is not too late to register for both days, 1 day, or just the classes you want to attend.

Exhibit Hall

Friday: 9a – 6p
Saturday: 9a – 4p

Free entrance to the exhibit hall:
- Get advice from the experts
- Learn about family history software and services
- Win prizes!

Dinner Events

Friday @ 6:30p
M. Bridget Cook
“Handling (and Even Healing) the Skeletons in Your Genealogical Closet”
Cost: $33 (dinner & speaker)

Saturday @ 7:00p
Informal Dinner at Bill Johnson’s Big Apple restaurant
Must make reservation by Wednesday, Jan 19
See details at:
Cost: pay for what you eat

I hope to see you at the expo!

First Windows Phone 7 Genealogy App

Saturday, 25 Sep 2010 | by Mark Tucker

I am excited to announce what might be the very first genealogy app for the soon-to-be released Windows Phone 7.

It is a graphical cousin calculator that can determine the relationship between two individuals by knowing the relationship of each to their closest common ancestor.

With just a few taps and drags, you can determine the relationship of any two people.



The application is in final development.  Please provide feedback.

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