Column – portals

Archives Portal Europe homepage

Portals are websites that provide a single point of access to content of different suppliers. Often, search results in a portal will lead you to the pages of the participating organizations but often you don't even realize that the data is aggregated from different sources behind the scenes. In the world of archives, portals are pretty popular. … [Read more...]

Column: One tree

People climbing trees for a better view

Familysearch allows you to collaborate on an integrated family tree that joins everyone, like a Wikipedia for deceased persons. The idea is that genealogists can reach consensus about people: about the dates and places of events, but more importantly about relationships between people. Users can cite or upload sources to support their … [Read more...]

Column: (Re)searcher

Office of the notary

When you've been going genealogy for many years, there are some brick walls that you've just about given up on because you've spent so many fruitless hours tearing them down. But it can be useful to re-evaluate them periodically. Not only will there be new sources available online, but your own skills will have grown too. … [Read more...]

Column: Genealogy police

Police officer

To me, one of the best aspects of the internet is that it gives everybody a channel to publish whatever they want. No editors that tell you what you can or cannot do, everybody is their own publisher. This has resulted in a wide range of publications, ranging from copy-paste jobs without citations to well-researched works that would not be out of … [Read more...]

Column: Best find

Monument

When you are at a birthday party and tell people you are into genealogy, the first question you often get is "How far back were you able to go?" If they haven't lost all interest after hearing your stories about tracing some lines to the Middle Ages and getting stuck on some illegitimate children in the 19th century on other lines, a second … [Read more...]

Column – Thought process

People lying sandbags near a river

Shortly after I started doing genealogy, a fellow researcher urged me to always document my sources. "You think now that you will remember where you've found everything, but there comes a time that you will have gathered so much that you won't remember the source." Wise words that I took to heart and that have proved to be invaluable. … [Read more...]

Column: for granted

Border crossing Enschede-Gronau

The other day, I was fortunate to discover that two resources that I needed for my research were put online. The Tilburg Regional Archives put up the population registers of Terheijden, a town where some of my maternal ancestors come from. Shortly afterwards, I noticed that the Gelderland Archives put the death duties files online, which allowed me … [Read more...]

Preservation

Baby in the lap of Saint Nicholas

I fondly watch the grainy movie on my HD-television. On the screen, the room has 70s wallpaper with a psychedelic orange/brown motive. A group of children watches excitedly as Saint Nicholas comes through the door. A baby is put in his lap. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUk43JXhhDQ The baby is me, and my grandfather is Saint Nicholas. It was … [Read more...]

Column: Farewell

Grave of Gerrit Jan Droppers (1845-1925)

After twenty years, it is time to say goodbye. I have struggled in vain but it will not do. I have decided to say farewell to my old genealogy program. Twenty years: it feels like forever in this digital age where three-year-old software feels outdated. My old program was MS-DOS-based and did not even work with a mouse. To keep it running on new … [Read more...]

Column: Citizen archivist

Rectified sea chart of the Canal

Citizen archivists is a term coined by David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, to call a new breed of users of archives. Visitors who not only come to take information, but bring it as well. Visitors who help to create access to archives by contributing in the form of comments, transcripts or tags. The benefits to the archives are … [Read more...]