Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Algorithmia - Colorize Your Photos Automatically

Welcome back, it has been a few weeks since my last post. I have been extremely busy at work over the last couple weeks working on a tight deadline. If you don't know, my real job is as a supervisory biologist for the US Fish & Wildlife Service working on the Everglades Restoration Project. My job focuses on making sure that proposed projects do not harm endangered species. The past year and a half I have been working with a team to make sure that the Cape Sable seaside sparrow doesn't go extinct in the near future. The population dropped about 25% this year from an estimated population of 3,200 down to an estimated 2,400 individuals. This species is showing signs similar to what was observed in the Dusky seaside sparrow that went extinct in 1987 and the Florida grasshopper sparrow which is now down to less than 200 hundred individuals. I think working with highly imperiled species gives me a better prospective of why I do family history research, I don't want to see these rare artifacts and stories disappear any more than I would want to see one of our rare species disappear. Now that I have given you something to think about, I will provide you with another review of a product that I recently tried out.

I was reading Dick Eastman's blog about the Algorithmia web site. He was talking about how this site can colorize your old black & white photos. For most users, this site is free but if you have a large number of photos there may be a charge. After reading the review I thought this might be an interesting site to try.

The Algorithmia site is accessed at http://demos.algorithmia.com/colorize-photos/. Once there you can set up an account. Your photos need to be accessible by a web link. So I tried some of the photos that I have posted to my other blog (http://ourancestories.blogspot.com/) and from Facebook.

Here are the results for a few of my photos:






Generally the photos I have provided above look ok. Some pictures work much better than others. Some of the colors are way off, like the red area of the suit jacket in the last two colorized photos. Many of the black & white photos just came out in a sepia tone or the sepia photos came out a bit more brown. Overall, it is an interesting site to play with, and depending on your photos, has the potential to bring new life into your family history. But for the purists, it probably isn't something you want to do to all your photos.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Paris, France Archives

I hope everyone is having a good weekend. I had planned on going to see our local airshow today but it was 93 degrees and so humid you started to sweat just walking outside. We decided that we didn't want to sit on the airfield in the sun and get roasted. So instead of that, I ended up picking the bananas in our back yard and made three loaves of banana fig bread.

Today I decided to mention the Paris, France archives. The archives can be found at http://canadp-archivesenligne.paris.fr.  This archive has free access to their decennial tables for 1860-1974. There is also a reconstructed alphabetic file constructed from other vital records for the 16th century to 1859. The four centuries of vital records are not yet scanned so you only have the alphabetic index. They also have indexes to the military service records (1875-1921) and children's records (1742-1915). These records are great resources if your ancestors lived in Paris.

In order to search you will select the vital records link and then fill in the search boxes.

Vital Records Search page for the Paris Archives
The results page will give you a range of names and the number of pages that contain those names.

Results Page for the Vital Records Search
When you click on the eye with the number of pages you get the following display.

Results Display
If you look you will see Leon Levy's name. This is the person I was looking for. He was married 3 May 1921 in Paris. At the top of the page, in the title bar, you see the record type (marriages), date range (1913-1922), district (8e), and the name I was searching. The contrast, page number and magnifier controls are located to the right.

I was able to use the alphabetic index to find the marriage date for Leon Levy and then for his wife, Alice Marchessault, on another page. Of course I had to look up both the groom and the bride in the index to see if they had the same date for their marriage. Luckily they did.

Since this is an alphabetic index I noticed a few lines below Leon's name was Rene Levy, his brother. Now I have to find who he married in Paris on 19 November 1921.

One thing to be aware of, Paris is divided into 20 districts and the records are filed as such. If you know which district your ancestor lived in it is easy to search. However, if you don't know their district you will have to go through each file until you find them. Luckily Leon lived in district 8 so I only had to look through the first 8 sets of records. If he lived in district 20 I would have had a long day of searching.

Good luck and may all your ancestors help you in your searches.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany Archives

Welcome back everyone. Since I talked about the Alsace-Lorraine, France archives yesterday I figured I would jump across the Rhine and mention the Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany archives today. These archives have been a great help in researching my wife's ancestors. Her German line came from Ellmendingen in Karlsruhe.

The Baden-Wurttemberg archives can be found at https://www2.landesarchiv-bw.de. As you view this page you will see the main search categories. Remember, if you can't read the German, either use the translate function in the Chrome browser or go to the bottom of the page were you will see a note that says View This Page In English. The search section is pretty helpful and is shown below.

Search area of the Baden-Wurttemberg Archives (English version).

Once you know which area of Baden-Wurttemberg your family originated from you can select the correct department and search from there. Since most of the images are not yet indexed you will have to search page by page within the town your ancestors came from. In order to select the town, just type it in the search box and see which records show up. Make sure you search under each category  on the page because you may get different results. Sometimes I like to search page by page because you never know what you will find. Many times I have run across familiar names when I was looking for one person in particular. In many of these records I have found at least one person from my file on each page I looked at.

Example of records found in the archive.
Good luck with these German records, and happy hunting.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Archives for Alsace-Lorraine, France (Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Moselle)

Hello again, I am now on a two blog post streak (yes, two is a streak for me). I will be focusing on some French archives in the next few posts. Did you know that France was divided into 83 departments during the French Revolution and that each of those departments have their own archives?!

Lately I have been helping someone research their ancestors in the Alsace-Lorraine region. The Alsace-Lorraine region was formed as part of the Germen Empire in 1871 and is located on the west bank of the Rhine River, directly across from Baden-Wurttemberg where my wife's ancestors are from. Because of their close proximity, many of the residents of this region spoke German dialects and many of their records were in German also. This area was transferred to France after WW I but re-annexed by Germany during WW II. Now it is again part of France and is referred to as Alsace-Moselle.

The area is divided into three main regions, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Moselle. Each of these regions have their own archives. Many of these records go back into the 1700s and include parish and census records, as well as birth, marriage and death records.

Here is an example of the records that I have found in these archives:

Birth record for Rose Netter - 1832.

The Bas-Rhin archives can be found at http://archives.bas-rhin.fr
The Haut-Rhin archives are located at http://www.archives.haut-rhin.fr
The Moselle archives are at http://www.archives57.com

Many of the records in these archives are not yet searchable so it does take some looking through the pages to find the ones you may be looking for. However, what I have found is that many of the record sets have their indexes included either at the front or the back of the records. So, to make it easier to search you may want to look at a few pages up front and then in the back to find where the index is located. These record sets include multiple years and the indexes are included with each year so you will still have to search the documents to find each year's index. One difficulty that I have found in these records is that all of the records are separated by town. So, just knowing that your ancestor was from Alsace-Lorraine may not be good enough. You will need to know which department to begin searching and then know which town they lived in to find their records. This made it extremely difficult because the family I was looking for began in Fegersheim and then moved to Strasbourg about 1880. All I was given by the person I am helping was that they were from Alsace-Lorraine. I was able to determine the towns based on US records, including immigration, naturalization and passport applications.

Good luck finding your Alsatian ancestors, whether they be German or French.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

WieWasWie - Dutch Archives - Signs Agreement with Ancestry

Hello everyone, I decided that I would get back to my blogging with a few short posts. I will be focusing my research in the online international archives for the next couple weeks. It is amazing what records you can find in these archives. Over the next few blog posts I hope to provide some short descriptions of the archives so fellow researchers will be able find them more easily.

One of the archives that I have used in the past is WieWasWie. This site is a searchable database of the Dutch records. They have over 110 million names indexed on their site. Their records include:

  • Population registers
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • Burial registers
  • Baptismal registers
  • Marriage registers
  • Sea voyages
  • and others.

  • In the past I have been able to find my people in the population registers from Amsterdam and just this morning a fellow researcher sent me the link to my 3rd great grandparents marriage in Amsterdam (9 November 1831). Below is a copy of this marriage record.

    Marriage record for Justus Weise and Anna Maria Margarethe Wilken (9 Nov 1831).

    Earlier this month, WieWasWie signed an agreement with Ancestry.com. This is a great development for those of us searching for Dutch ancestry. With this agreement, researchers will be able to search their records collection through Ancestry. Their blog post about this agreement can be found at http://wiewaswieblog.nl/2016/06/wiewaswie-op-ancestry.

    Sunday, February 21, 2016

    FamilySearch Apps - Kinpoint

    I hope everyone has had a great weekend. I have been working with our local Family History Consultants trying to bring them up to speed on all of the information that I learned at RootsTech. That could take a few weeks since there was so much to learn there. I am continuing to research the many apps that are available on FamilySearch and this time I decided to write about Kinpoint.

    Kinpoint has a free version and a paid version and has been described as a "fan chart on steroids" by some. The site searches the information from FamilySearch, providing you some clues on what to search for next and where you have missing information. When you log in it starts the display with you and then moves out from there. However, you can change that by double clicking on someone in your chart or by searching for a specific ancestor by name or PID# from FamilySearch.

    There are several views that you can use to display the information from your tree. The Explore View shows a fan chart of your family. The free version displays a color coded fan chart which helps you see family relationships with grey areas indicating where there is missing information. For me, all of the grey areas indicated missing marriage information.

    Exlpore View for Kinpoint (5 generations)

    The paid version also gives you hints on problems, sources and matches. Problems are things such as timeline discrepancies, potential duplicates, etc, which you can clean up. Sources mark those items which have not been verified by an attached source. And the Matches information tells you how many record hints are available on FamilySearch for you to add to your research. The view I have above shows 5 generations however you can zoom to between 3 and 8 generations in a view or you can switch to a descendants view with 3 generations. The zoom, ancestral view, and descendant view controls are located in the upper left corner of the fan chart frame.

    The left side of the screen shows the vital information for the selected person. There are also icons to bookmark, refresh, and edit the person in FamilySearch under the person's name. The right side area displays a summary of information from the chart, including countries of origin, family size, age, work and military service. Most of the items on the right, except the country of origin, are only available in the paid version.

    The Family View shows a detailed view of three generations, the selected person and their spouse, their children, and the selected person's parents and siblings. This view includes the photographs from each person's Memories on FamilySearch. In this view you can select any of the listed people and see their details. The yellow dots below the person's name indicate items which need your attention. Also, if you notice the blue box in the upper right corner, you can add people directly to FamilySearch from this screen. When you click on the blue box that says Add Person the screen changes to ask where you want to add the person. You can add siblings, step siblings, spouses, parents, children, etc. Once you select where in the family the new person goes, the site walks you through adding the information. For some people, this might be a more understandable way to add family to their FamilyTree.

    Family View for Kinpoint

    The third screen view is the Memories View. This screen pulls all of the items that are attached to the person's Memories tab on FamilySearch. You can easily move between people and see what information has been attached to their Memories tab. Kinpoint even indicates how many items you expect to see before you visit the page. Selecting any of the photographs or documents results in a full screen view of that item.

    Memories View for Kinpoint

    The fourth screen view from Kinpoint is the Timeline View. This view provides a timeline, including important events in the person's life, along the right side of the screen. Events such as birth, marriage and death of members of the family are included in the timeline. Additionally, an interactive map is displayed with icons indicating each event. Icons are color coded for sex and there are different icons for each type of event.

    Timeline View for Kinpoint

    So, what do I think of this site? The basic free version provides you another way to visualize your research and indicates where you need to focus your research. It also allows you to add new family members and edit existing people in FamilySearch. The paid version ($4.99/month or $49.90/year) provides even more functionality by indicating where duplicates may exist, where sources are available, and a more detailed list of problems with the information in your tree. This interface may be easier for some people to understand and could easily replace their FamilySearch interface. One important note: the paid version can be accessed for free at your local Family History Center. All-in-all, I would recommend trying it out to see how it could help you improve your research.

    I hope everyone has a good week and I will try to return soon with my next post.

    Friday, February 19, 2016

    Family Search apps - All The Stories

    Hello again! Hope everyone is ready for a beautiful weekend, and if it isn't beautiful where you are maybe you can spend the time inside doing research, or reading my blog. I am continuing my discussion on FamilySearch apps with a new app called All The Stories. This app was just uploaded to the FamilySearch site this week.

    Imagine if you will, you are a new researcher who has just started adding your family to FamilySearch's FamilyTree. You have connected your recent family to an existing set of names and your tree has suddenly grown. Where do you go from there? You might be overwhelmed by the number of new relatives you just discovered. May I suggest that you visit a newly released app called All The Stories?

    All The Stories searches your family tree, back 9 generations, provides you a chart of your ancestors, and lists the stories that are attached to your ancestors. Since the program is version 1.0, it is currently pretty basic.

    Screenshot from All The Stories for August Jacob Wise.
    When you visit the site you are asked to log into your FamilySearch account so it can be searched. As it searches your 9 generations, you can see it build your family chart. The chart gives you an idea of where your gaps are. As you can see from the image above, my tree is fairly complete for 6 generations but then there are some holes as I go further out from that. When I mouse-over the dots a pop-up comes up with the name of the individual, their relation to me, and a count of the number of stories attached to them. The grey dots have no stories attached to them. The blue dots indicate those that do have stories. As you can see, I really need to get on to writing stories. Most of the stories I have attached are transcriptions of newspaper articles or biographical information that I found in books. When I click on a blue dot I get the details that are shown below the chart. The details include the person's name, relationship, birth and death locations, and a list of stories attached to them.

    On the left side of the screen is a complete list of all the stories that are attached to my ancestors. You can also search for a story by keyword if you are not able to find it right away. Once you find the story that you are searching for, you can click on it and read the story. I was wondering what the notations next to the story names were so I did a little more playing. For my stories, the notations are 0 min, 1 min, ..., up to 5 min. This indicates the length of the story and I am assuming the average reading time. Short stories are 0 min and longer stories are 5 min.

    Obituary for August Wise.
    If you notice in the upper right corner it has two links for View in FamilySearch. The top link opens the story view in FamilySearch. The bottom link opens the person view.

    So, you may be asking what is the purpose of this app. Well, I see several uses for it. First, you can see up to 9 generations and see where your research gaps are. Compare this to FamilySearch's fan chart which only displays 4 generations on the screen and 7 generations when printed. Second, you can see who in your tree has stories attached. You can see if new stories have been attached since your last view and you can archive the stories. Another thing that this site is useful for is giving you an easy way to access those stories. It could take a while for you to search all of your ancestors on FamilySearch to see who has a story attached. But by using this app, you can see it all on one screen and you can spend time reading those stories much more efficiently.

    This is a new app so I can see the potential for more functionality as it develops. For example, maybe it will include photos or sources sometime in the future. Try it out and see what you can learn about your ancestors.