Sunday, November 20, 2022

MyHeritage's AI Time Machine App

Over the last couple years, MyHeritage has released apps to colorize, enhance, and animate photos. You may have seen my previous posts about the Deep Nostalgia and Live Story apps which allow your photos to tell their own story. If you have been on social media lately you will probably have noticed that MyHeritage has released a new photo app. This new app is MyHeritage's AI Time Machine app. This app places you in 8 scenes from each of 62 historic periods including Ancient Rome, the Renaissance, WWI, Ancient Egypt, and many more. The AI uses photos that you upload and then adds them to these scenes. it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to create the images. I uploaded 15 photos with a variety of poses including full body, profile, and head shots to get my first set of images. Once I had those, I uploaded another 17 photos to get some different views. So, now I have 16 photos from each of 62 periods to go through. Some of these photos are impressive while others have some problems. I will provide some examples below.

16th Century

18th Century

American Pioneer

Cowboy

As you can see, those images are pretty impressive (even if they are of me) but some of the images just don't work. Some cut off the head. Others have multiple arms or extra fingers. And some just look odd.


Head cut off

Extra arms
    
Extra fingers

This app is a fun app to play with. I will probably use some of the images as profile pictures for social media. If you have some time to upload your photos you may discover some fun versions of yourself.

Friday, November 11, 2022

RootsTech Follow-Up - Veterans Day

Vernon Westerheide, wife Madge, and sons Dave and Mike
Vernon Westerheide and family - WW II
Today, Friday, November 11 is Veterans Day in the United States. This day was established in 1938 to honor the military veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Many of us have long lines of military veterans who served in wartime as well as peacetime.

I am including a few pictures from my family and my wife's family highlighting their military service. The first picture is my grandfather, Vernon Westerheide, who served in the Navy durign World War II. My father also served in the Navy in the 1960s and was stationed at  Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

My wife's father, Estill Herbert Walker, joined the Navy in 1942 when he was only 15 years old He was thrown out when he was getting ready to ship out to England and they discovered his age. He also joined the Army Air Corps where he learned to pilot aircraft and the Marines durign WW II.

My wife's grandfather, Estill Bowen Walker, served in the Army during WW II and achieved the rank of Lieutenant.

In honor of Veterans Day, several large genealogy databases are offering free acces to their records. FindMyPast is offering access from November 10-14. Fold3 is offering free access to their records from November 10-13. Take advantage of these offers while you can.

Estill Herbert Walker - WW II
There have been several talks presented at RootsTech during the 2021 and 2022 virtual conferences. These talks are still available. I will highlight just a few that may help you research your US military ancestors during this weekend and beyond.

  1. Michael L. Strauss - Record Analysis: Military Service Records - Official Military Personnel Files (2021)
  2. Lisa Ratzlaff - Basic Training: US Military Records (2021)
  3. Margaret M. McMahon - Researching Ancestors in the US Military: Online and in Military Archives (2022)
  4. Doug LeCheminant - RootsTech Goes to War: Preserving the Military Histories of Our Family (2022)
  5. Margaret M. McMahon and Michael T. Mentley - Learning From US Military Records That Did Not Burn (2021)
  6. Lt. Estill Bowen Walker - WW II
    Rebecca Whitman Koford - What Does That Really Say? Records Analysis: 1812 Military Pension (2021)
  7. Rebecca Murray - Servicewomen in WWII: Military Service Files & Photographs (2022)
  8. Melanie McComb, Ann G. Lawthers and David Allen Lambert - A Call to Arms: Researching Revolutionary War Ancestors (2022)
  9. Laura K. Anderson - Digging in the National Archives for War Department Documents (2021)
  10. The Family History Guide Association - Exploring United States World War I Records (2022)
  11. Elizabeth Swaney O'Neal - Resources for Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestors Online: Part 1 and Part 2 (2022)
  12. Bernice Alexander Bennett and Toni Carrier - USCT Pension Files: A Rich Resource for African American Genealogy: Part 1 and Part 2 (2022)
  13. Don Milne - Telling the Stories of 421,000 US World War II Fallen (2022)
  14. Melanie McComb and David Lambert - Report for Duty: Find Stories of Veteran Ancestors (2020)

There are so many great resources in the RootsTech archive. Most of the talks are less than 20 minutes so they can easily fit into a break. 

Take this opportunity to remember your veteran ancestors, add their information on FamilySearch, and upload photos and tell their stories so future generations will remember the service of their ancestors.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

RootsTech Follow-Up - Oktoberfest

October is known by most as the month for Halloween, the time when our kids run around the neighborhood looking for treats. For those of us who do family history October is Family History Month. And for those of us who are of German heritage, it is the month for Oktoberfest. Growing up in Ohio, many of the local towns, such as Minster, had their version of Oktoberfest. But now that I am living in Florida there aren't as many towns that celebrate Oktoberfest. My current town had its first ever Oktoberfest this weekend. I went and found out that it is pretty much like all the other festivals here. Lots of booths selling driftwood art, t-shirts, candles, and other crafts. The big difference was that many of the food venders were selling bratwursts instead of hot dogs and there were more beer tents.

But back to the reason I am writing this post - German heritage research and family history. Did you realize that RootsTech had several dozen talks about German research? These talks are still online and can be watched at your convenience. I'll highlight a few that might be of interest to you:

  1. Discovering Online German Archives by Miles Meyer - Yeah, this one is mine but you still may be interested. This talk covers many of the online German Archives and how to do research in them. There is an extensive handout that provides links and information on each collection.
  2. German Research for the Everyday American by Karynne Moses - This presentation is a bit longer than most RootsTech presentations at a little over an hour but it has a lot of information to cover. This presentation helps the beginning researcher find resources that help to bridge the gap between the United States and Germany.
  3. Genealogical Research in Germany by Andrea Bentschneider - This is a three-part series consisting of German Church Books and Civil Records, Other Interesting Sources, and The German Archive System.
  4. Finding Your German Ancestors by Richard Lynn Walker - This is a two-part series by an employee of FamilySearch. The first part discusses basic resources while the second part goes into more depth by discussing various websites where additional resources can be found.
  5. German Immigration from Hometown to Final Destinations by James Beidler - This is a three-part series on resources to find your German immigrants and their hometowns. The parts are not found together as a series but you can find them at these links: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
  6. Finding German Records Using FamilySearch by Dana Palmer - This presentation covers the German record collections on FamilySearch. Step-by-step instructions are given to help users find records that are relevant to their research.
  7. German Records, Words, and Scripts by The Family History Guide - I had to add this one not just because I am the Education Director for The Family History Guide but there are some great tips in this presentation to help researchers recognize common words and read German script.
  8. German Vital Records: Finding the Clues You Need by Katherine Schrober - This presentation covers the main vital records (birth, marriage and death) and the information that you can find in those records. 
  9. Useful Tools for Finding German Ancestors by Danna Palmer - Find out about some of the best sources to begin your German research in this presentation. Learn about using the FamilySearch Wiki and handwriting pages which will give you a start on your research.
So, there are a dozen great presentations from RootsTech 2022 that should get you motived to start researching your German heritage. I hope you have fun exploring these links and have a great Family History Month/Oktoberfest/Halloween!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

A Look Ahead to RootsTech 2023

RootsTech 2023 - March 2-4, 2023
Have you watched all the videos from RootsTech Connect 2022? Probably not since there are more than 1,500 sessions on 85 topics in over 30 langauages. But you still have 5 months until a new set of videos are available for RootsTech 2023.

RootsTech 2023 is scheduled for March 2-4, 2023. It will be both virtual and in-person, so you will still have the opportunity to watch from home or you can travel to the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City to watch the speakers live. The in-person conference is $98 for all three days while the virtual conference is FREE! When you visit the website, you can subscribe to receive email or text announcements about RootsTech. They plan to open registration on October 6. Registration will be important for those hoping to be in-person since there will be a limit on the number of attendees. However, there is no limit on the number of virtual attendees. But even if you intend on attending virtually, you should register since that will activate enhanced features that you won't be able to access if you aren't registered.

Each year there is a RootsTech app. The app for RootsTech 2023 is expected to be released in February a couple weeks before the conference.

The theme for RootsTech 2023 is "Uniting" and they hope to bring inspiring experiences for all during the conference. They currently have over 200 virtual calsses in 42 languages scheduled but this should increase as more topics and speakers are suggested. You can even suggest a speaker for the line up.

There will be some differences between the virtual and in-person experience. For example, some live classes will not be broadcast on the virtual platform. Sessions will be catered for your location so you don't have to wake up at 2:00 am to see your favorite speaker if you are watching virtually. The virtual platform is expected to allow for watch parties and many talks will be on demand. People who are attending in-person will be able to access the virtual platform to watch classes.

Why should you consider attending RootsTech in-person?

  1. You get to meet the speakers and vendors and ask them questions or just have a conversation. 
  2. The excitement of the event and meeting all of your favorite genealogists and friends.
  3. There are many small classes that occur in areas like the Expo Hall which aren't available virtually.
Why should you consider attending RootsTech virtually?
  1. It is much cheaper. 
    1. Hotel rooms in the area range from about $200 to over $500 per night.
    2. Airline flights can be several hundred to several thousand dollars.
    3. Registration for the virtual conference is free.
    4. You don't have to go out for food. You can just grab a sandwich from your refrigerator.
  2. You can watch much of the conference on demand. I know my schedule when I attend in-person is usually waking up at 4:00 or 5:00 am and getting back to my hotel room at 11:00 pm.
  3. You can have watch parties with your friends and family.
I am a RootsTech Influencer for the 2023 conference. As part of my responsibilities, I will be providing updates on a regular basis and will have important announcements and prizes, including a free 3-day RootsTech pass. Follow me for the next couple months to learn more about RootsTech 2023.

You can watch the RootsTech Announcement on Youtube or the article at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Newsroom to get more information.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

RootsTech Follow-Up - Family Connections

Hello everyone. Here in Florida our hurricane season starts on June 1 and we already have our first storm brewing. Many people say we don't have seasons in Florida but they would be wrong. We have several seasons - Dry Season, Wet Season, Hurrican Season, and Lovebug Season. Each one has it's own special conditions that we have to adapt to. Oh yeah, we also have Winter which usually lasts for 7-10 days sometime in January and February where the temperature can drop below 40 degrees F.

With our first tropical storm system sitting off the coast providing several inches of rain, it is a good time to stay indoors, work on family history, and connect with family. For many of you, it is summer and this is the time for your family to be together, take vacations, and visit far flung family. 

We are now a couple months out from our last RootsTech and RootsTech has started to develop monthly themes to help people find videos related to specific topics. This month the theme is Family Connections. This theme focuses on discovering your legacy, family traditions, telling stories, and activities you can do with your family.


Are you looking for some quick and simple ideas for fun family history activities? Family history should not be boring. Family members can become deeply involved in their family histories if you make it fun and engaging. Here are a couple RootsTech videos that can help you make family history enjoyable for the rest of your family.

These are just a few of the RootsTech videos which focus on involving your family, building connections, telling stories, and having fun while learning about their family history. Take some time to view these videos and others from RootsTech and let me know about your experiences.

Friday, March 25, 2022

RootsTech Follow-Up - What's in it for Family History Consultants?

RootsTech ended about 3 weeks ago but the presentations are still available for you to watch. They had well over a million people join them for the inspiring and educational talks. 

When I set up my playlist of presentations I usually focus on three topics; New Technology/Innovations, German Research, and Information for Family History Consultants. As the leader of our local German Genealogy Interest Group, I provided a recap of the German Research presentations to my group a week after RootsTech.

I also provided a follow-up of my favorite talks to our Stake and Ward Family History leaders. I haven't had a chance to look over all of these yet but they are on my list to view sometime over the next several months. When I sent out the list, I suggested that the recipients please pass this information along to any Temple and Family History Leadership (including consultants, Elders Quorum, Relief Society, Youth Leaders, Stake Leaders, and Bishoprics) that I may not have included on my email list.

So what were the presentations that I sent to them?

Of course the first was going to be the Temple and Family History Leadership Session: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/temple-and-family-history/leadership-instruction?lang=eng

Then I focused on the presentations that will help them share their experiences, find people to help, and overcome the hurdles we often experience when talking to people about family history.

Sharing Your Faith Using Family History: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/sharing-your-faith-using-family-history

How to bring the Power and Blessings of Temple Covenants into our Stakes, Wards, and Homes: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/how-to-bring-the-power-and-blessings-of-temple-covenants-into-our-stakes-wards-and-homes

Finding People to Help: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/finding-people-to-help

Overcoming Common Objections: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/overcoming-common-objections

Strengthening Love of the Gospel through Family History: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/strengthening-love-of-the-gospel-through-family-history

I often see questions about how to encourage the Elders Quorum and Relief Society to take a more active role in family history. So I provided links to the following talks to help encourage more involvement.

Improving Elders Quorum and Relief Society Meetings with Temple and Family History: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/improving-elders-quorum-and-relief-society-meetings-with-temple-and-family-history

Bringing the Power of Temple Covenants to Elders Quorum and Relief Society: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/bringing-the-power-of-temple-covenants-to-elders-quorum-and-relief-society

The next topic that I often see questions about is how we assess involvement and how do we use the Ward Temple and Family History Plan more effectively.

Finding and Using the Family History Activity Report: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/finding-and-using-the-family-history-activity-report

Unlock the Mystery of the Ward Temple and Family History Coordination Meeting: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/unlock-the-mystery-of-the-ward-temple-and-family-history-coordination-meeting

The Ward Temple and Family History Plan: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/the-ward-temple-and-family-history-plan

We often have people newly called to family history and some who have been around for a while who aren't sure of their responsibilities. The following presentations should help them get started.

"My Calling" Pages on churchofjesuschrist.org: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/my-calling-pages-on-churchofjesuschrist-org

The Ward Temple and Family History Leader-Important Principles: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/the-ward-temple-and-family-history-leader-important-principles

And then there is the question of how to involve the youth in family history. This is something that I need to work more on. We had youth consultants prior to COVID but since then, some have left and others have just stopped doing their family history work. So we need a restart.

Ward Youth Consultants Share Super Successful Family History Activities: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/youth-consultants-share-super-successful-temple-and-family-history-activities

Youth Serving as Temple and Family History Consultants: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/youth-serving-as-temple-and-family-history-consultants

Guidance When Calling Youth Temple and Family History Consultants: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/guidance-when-calling-youth-temple-and-family-history-consultants

Mission: Possible - Engaging Youth in Family History: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/mission-possible-engaging-youth-in-family-history

Family History for Youth: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/family-history-for-youth

And lastly, many members don't know how to use FamilySearch or incorporate family history into their lives. If we can show them how family history isn't really another thing they have to do but something they can enjoy with their families, we should be able to get them more actively involved. I believe the following presentations will help to do that.

Using Your Phone, Submit Ancestors Names to the Temple, Then Discover More About Them: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/using-your-phone-submit-ancestors-names-to-the-temple-then-discover-more-about-them

What's New on FamilySearch for Members: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/whats-new-on-familysearch-for-members

What's Coming on FamilySearch for Members: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/whats-coming-on-familysearch-for-members

Weekly Family History Activities - A Come, Follow Me Companion: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/the-come-follow-me-companion-correlated-family-history-activities-for-each-week

Helper Resources on FamilySearch: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/session/helper-resources-on-familysearch

Elder and Sister Soares Keynote: Family Discovery Day: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/special-session/elder-and-sister-soares-keynote-family-discovery-day

I know that this seems like a lot of presentations but if you space them out over the year you will learn so much more from the experience of others and have a more successful family history program.


Thursday, March 3, 2022

RootsTech 2022 - Day 1 - What Did I Learn?


RootsTech is an incredible family history conference. More than 1 million people have registered for RootsTech, are you related to any of them? Check out the Relatives at RootsTech page to see how many you are related to. I currently have 132 relatives at RootsTech. That is a small number compared to most people but it is significant to me. There are so many things to learn while attending the various venues.

FamilySearch has a short 6-minute video to introduce you to the new Get Involved! initiative. This video talks about their use of handwriting technology to increase the number of records that are being made searchable. They have been focusing on the Spanish language baptisms with this handwriting technology. For Indexers, this allows them to review the information instead of having to type it in. Computers can process a million records each day so there is a need to increase our capacity to review those records. In order to address this need, FamilySearch developed the Get Involved app which is available in the Google App Store. You can currently use this app to review English and Spanish language records. But, in April, you will be able to work on the 1950 US Census with the app! You can watch the video introducing the 1950 US Census project and how the Get Involved app will be used at the FamilySearch booth in the Expo Hall. You can also learn more about how you can get involved by clicking on the Get Involved tab at FamilySearch.org. The site is active and you can start testing this technology by getting involved with US probate records project and then switch over to the 1950 US Census once it is ready.

1950 US Census Project

Last year MyHeritage announced Deep Nostalgia during their RootsTech presentation. Deep Nostalgia added animation to your photographs. The application went viral overnight and people from across the globe were adding animated ancestors to their social media feeds. This year they announced Live Story which creates an animated video narrative of your ancestor telling their own story. Live Stories can be created automatically from the data linked to your ancestor and their family. You can select from various voices and edit the story as you like. MyHeritage also announced the Date Estimator for historic photos which will be live soon. The Date Estimator uses artificial intelligence to estimate the date of the photo based on various characteristics in the photo. Another new announcement is the Relationship Diagram and the Family Tree Timeline which help you visualize your family tree and find errors more easily. Additionally, MyHeritage added 4 billion new records to their collection in 2021. You can learn more about these announcements on their Main Stage Keynote presentation.

MyHeritage's Live Story


Family Tree Timeline

These are just a few of the things that were announced at RootsTech today. I will continue to add more information to my blog throughout the RootsTech conference.