An Update for Random Genealogy (and me)

Some major things are happening.

I’m going to be the administrator of a Genealogy Software Guide. Technically I already am. I’ve spent the last few months tinkering under the hood and compiling information and have (slowly) started updating it, in addition to working on two other sites – see below. It has been dormant for a few years, but there won’t be any kind of formal relaunch or anything. I guess you could call it a soft reboot or a rolling relaunch, but it’s a matter of me literally going through every page and refreshing everything while adding new content and checking old links. Going through the old content has taken up the better part of my time recently, which is why I haven’t been able to add much new content to it, but I’m reaching the point within the next few days where noticeable things will start happening.

Along the way, I’ll be merging Genealogy Software News into it. They should never have been two separate websites in the first place, but that was a few years ago and what matters is the here and now. I’ll have some help from some other people who will introduce themselves at a later point on GSG.

I also have big plans for expanding it, but I’m not going to talk about those until I put them into place, since they might change and since they might create certain expectations.

Because of some changes in my professional life, I’m also going to have the time to contribute to two other genealogy sites that interest me greatly. One I am helping to migrate from an online blog service onto its own domain. It’s got a small following (very small), but I expect that will change once we get it setup on its own domain. Another is fairly obscure as well and is undergoing an overhaul as well. Both revolve around topics that I consider myself to be fairly well versed in, and I’ll be talking about them down the road. I don’t want to get into details because one is still being moved and the other is still being overhauled, but I think they have potential.

Random Genealogy will still be my “blog” of sorts, and I’ll be posting here a lot more frequently since I’m going to be once again immersed in the world of online genealogy and will come up with plenty of interesting and off-beat stuff. It’ll also be my testbed of sorts for trying out new things and the occasional tutorial, so if you stop by and the look is different, don’t mind it.

I’ll probably be using Random Genealogy to discuss what I’m doing elsewhere on other blogs, since it’s a much more informal site, as well as discussing my own genealogy research, but I will be posting unique stuff here and there.

Return of Random Genealogy?

First off, an explanation.

At the time I stopped updating RandomGenealogy.com, a job opportunity had come up that I couldn’t pass up and it required my immediate attention, along with a couple of major events back-to-back. I typed up a nice post saying that I needed to take a break and this is what I would be doing in the meantime and would somebody else want the site. To make a long story short, I thought the story was published, but it in fact did not publish, and because I had to turn my attention away from a lot of my hobbies and recreational activities, I didn’t check it. End result: It looks like I dropped off the face of the earth.

I was recently asked by the person who owns the server that this site resides on exactly what I wanted to do with the site. At the time I had to stop in 2006, there were other sites that were posting similar stories and I didn’t feel like it would be missed. I had left it up just in case it might help somebody (and a few emails here and there indicated that it did) and it wasn’t costing anything to do so. As of the past few months, before I was asked about the site, I was given the opportunity for a job that would allow me to devote more time to my hobbies (genealogy) and I started thinking about my online activities. Some of those other sites have since went down (some don’t even exist anymore) and so I think there’s still a place for it.

So yes, it’s sort of returning. I’m not sure I’ll be able to post everyday – the person who asked me what I wanted to do with it offered me the opportunity to work on a couple of other dormant genealogy sites, and I will be doing so (and posting more about that here). I’m glad for the opportunity.

As for the look, this is a temporary placeholder – we did a massive upgrade of everything that drives the site and needed something fairly recent that could handle some of the newer features. I’ll be posting more about my plans in the near future.

And apologies for not making sure my “final” post was in fact posted, explaining what was going on.

Armstrong County (PA) History Alliance

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA) has an article, Armstrong history now on Internet, about an alliance of historical/genealogy societies from Armstrong County working together to put the county’s history and genealogy information online. It’s not so much the records (although it sounds like they are working towards that), as it is information about which society holds what records and where you can physically access them. They believe together they will be able to be eligible for more grants and resources.

The alliance is called the Armstrong History Alliance, and is made up of these historical and/or genealogy societies:
Apollo Area
The Kittanning-based Armstrong County Historical Museum and Genealogical Society
Brady’s Bend
Dayton Area
Freeport Area
Leechburg Area
Lower Crooked Creek

Excerpt from the article:

In addition to listing events, the Web site details the different historical buildings each society operates and provides contact information for each, including independent Web sites for those that have them.

Mateer and Kane said they’d eventually like to catalog all of the information and artifacts each society owns and post the catalog on the site.

Mateer said the Armstrong County society also has a database that lists details of most of the tombstones in the county’s 300-plus cemeteries. Those details also could be made available on the Web for people searching their genealogy.

The alliance is applying for a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to make the catalog happen, Mateer said.

Kane said many of the individual societies would have a difficult time affording their own Web sites and large-scale promotions, but together they can do more. He also is hopeful the consortium will be more eligible for grants than each society would be on its own.

You can access the website at: www.armstronghistory.org. Hopefully they will succeed in their goals and provide an example for other socities in other areas to follow. Individual societies can sometimes have difficulty in securing the funding to do things like this, and these kinds of alliances might help overcome that obstacle.

Utah Teenage Genealogist Winds up on History Channel

ABC 4 (Utah) has an article/story, Utah teen’s love for genealogy earns him time on History Channel, about a fifteen year old working on his Eagle Scout project that involves genealogy research and cemetery preservation. As a result of this, sometime in the next year on an unnamed show on the History Channel, his project will be feature. Pretty cool, and good exposure for genealogy.

Excerpt from the story:

Fifteen-year-old Brad Jencks of South Jordan was honored with a “Top High School Volunteer for the State of Utah” in the 2006 Prudential Spirit of the Community Awards Program. His work is also slated to be featured on the History Channel within the next year.

“It’s more of a hobby for me. I enjoy doing family history,” Brad Jencks told ABC4 News. “Our family’s really into family history and it’s just a tender part of my heart.”

Jencks’ work began two years ago when he approached the Jordan School District with his 100-hour Eagle Scout service project proposal. The district inherited the Bingham Cemetery when Bingham was disincorporated. Jencks wanted to compile a complete and accurate database for families like his with ancestors buried in the cemetery.

Website Aids Jews’ Search For Ancestors

The Boston Globe has an article by Matt Gunderson, Website aids Jews’ search for ancestors, about, well, those doing genealogy researching concerning Jewish ancestors. It mentions how the internet is impacting many genealogy societies, while some, because of their unique nature, are doing okay.

Excerpt:

With the Internet making it easier for individuals to explore their family history, some genealogy societies are withering away. Not so with the Jewish society, says Judy Izenberg of Framingham, one of its acting copresidents.

The society, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year, has seen its membership remain stable at 400.

Izenberg, 65, says Jews rely more on a genealogy community because they face hurdles others don’t. Persecution dispersed their ancestors throughout the world. In addition to language barriers, researchers are challenged by a lack of marriage, birth, and death records — many of which were lost in the Holocaust.

More information can be found about the website mentioned at JewishGen.org.