Legacy Family Tree's Genealogy Idol

Most of you know about or watched Legacy Family Tree's first ever Genealogy Idol contest, hosted by Geoff Rasmussen. The finalist were Marian Pierre-Louis, Michael Hait, Elizabeth Clark, and Elyse Doerflinger.

There were three rounds in which the contestants had to "strut their stuff". At the end of all three rounds, the audience got to cast their vote.

Round One: Three Minute Technology Tip

Marian Pierre-Louis presented her reasons for using Dropbox. She mentioned how she goes back and forth between her lap-top and her desktop computer and how it was difficult to keep her files straight when updating them. Using Dropbox has allowed her to update her files on one computer while syncing the information to her files on the other computer.

Michael Hait showed viewers how to format source citations using Microsoft Word. He walked us step by step through the process and explained how this would make  report writing quicker and easier. He further explained that once a citation was formatted this created a template for other citations and that modifications were quick and easy to make.

Elizabeth Clark showed the audience how she uses deed mapping software to find where her ancestors lived. She demonstrated how to plug in the information to get a line drawing of the property, and how plotting the neighbors land information you can get a complete picture of your ancestor's property. She further showed us that we can apply maps from the USGS to show a real time placement of old time information.

Elyse Doerflinger explained how she uses Microsoft One Note for her note taking and organization of her genealogical data and more. She stated that she preferred One Note over Evernote, and explained that One Note gave search capabilities to the items added to it, such as pdfs.

And the winner of round one in my opinion: Michael Hait.
Although Marian had a great presentation, as always, I'm not interested in using Dropbox at this time. It is something I am aware of but not going to use anytime soon.

I already use One Note and love it, so even though Elyse did a spot on explanation of all the reasons to love it, this was not new or useful information to me.

I really loved the deed mapping information by Elizabeth. The only reason that she wouldn't have been number one in my book for this round is because I will not use mapping in all of my research. Therefore, Michael's tip on source citations in Microsoft Word was the most helpful to me, being that all research I do comes with the need for citations.

Round Two: Genealogical Serendipity 

Marian shared with us how taking the roads less traveled with her father led to a discovery of a parish that her ancestors had once belonged. Inside the church was a memorial window for her family and other items of interest. Marian explained how after this visit she was contacted by someone who had found a family Bible. Though the Bible was not revealing in any new information, she said she was happy to have it.

Michael told of how he had been tracing an enslaved family along with the family of the slave owners. While doing research at a library in Maryland, Michael's wife called, so he went to the back of the library to quietly take the call. Once finished, he noticed a family history for the slave owner's family. In this book he discovered direct evidence of the ancestry of the enslaved family he had been researching. Michael said that when doing slave research, compiled family histories typically do not shed light on the slaves that are held.

Elizabeth shared the story of her father who had been a stamp collector and dealer. Elizabeth's father had passed away, but Elizabeth continued in his foot steps by researching stamps and such on ebay. She came across a letter with a stamp from the Isle of Thanet Philatelic Society that her father had belonged to. When the envelope arrived, she examined it and there was no address on it, but she said that when she held it up to the light she could see her father's handwriting and address. After contacting the seller of the item, Elizabeth was left with no more information about the piece other than the fact that the seller had no association with her father. Her father seemingly made contact with her from the other side.

Elyse  told of how she and her mother had moved from Southern California to Oregon for a time to live with an aunt and then returned back to Southern California some years later, having left behind several boxes of items. After her mother's death, Elyse's aunt contacted her and asked what she should bring with her. Elyse felt that so much time had passed that there couldn't be anything of interest in any of the boxes, so she told her aunt to bring whatever. What Elyse ended up getting was a small lock box of family documents her mother had never shared with her.

And the winner of round two in my opinion: Elizabeth Clark
Elizabeth's story was very heartwarming and reminded me of similar things that have happened to me. The fact that she would have had no idea the stamped envelope had been in contact with her father had she not purchased it was truly shiver inspiring.

Marian's story spoke to me next. It is always wonderful when the dead lead us to the places they have been. It helps to enrich our knowledge of them and the past.

Elyse's story was wonderful in that she got all of those records, and though she didn't know about them, they were safely hidden at her aunts.

Michael's story was a little disappointing because he had stated how he had done all that he thought possible to research the enslaved family. However, he did not look at the compiled family histories section because of his previous experience of them not yielding anything of significance. My thought is that you look anyway in order for your research to be truly exhaustive. I could understand if he did not know who the slave owners were, but he did, and there they were, the Peach family, in a nice bound text, ripe for his plucking. I am glad that he was led that way and made the find, but Michael, leave no stone unturned.

Round three: Favorite Genealogical Website

Marian cheated a bit here in that she chose a group of websites to highlight social media use. Marian told of how she uses Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to acquire and share information with the masses in a faster capacity. She posed a question on all three sites about access to North Carolina records. All three sources netted her wonderful information, with Twitter's response being the quickest.

Michael highlighted the Library of Congress and the vast amount of material they have digitized for free public use. In addition to newspapers, they offer online map collections including Sanborn insurance maps, railroad maps, war maps, etc. The LOC website also has Congressional Documents and Debates which Michael explained is significant in helping us understand the laws that govern our records. Lastly, he mentions that there is so much more on the LOC website and that we should take a couple of weekends to browse it thoroughly.

Elizabeth presented Google Books as her favorite website. She went on to explain how she uses Google Books for finding Gazetteers and how that helps her to narrow down quite a bit of research time. As an example, she had been researching her great grandmother who lived in a place in Wales. After much research and a trip to the Family History Library, she learned that there were in fact two places by the same name, a fact she says that she would have found out much sooner had she used Gazetteers.

Elyse explained how Geneabloggers was her favored site because of all of the networking the site allows, as well as the general sense of community among the bloggers. She said that the site allowed her easy access to new blogs, saying that since there are so many they are hard to keep track of.

And the winner of round three in my opinion: Michael Hait
I use all of the social media sites that Marian shared, but with mixed results. Perhaps it is because of my lack of renown, but many of my posts will go unanswered. I do love being able to share my information through these sites, and on the occasion that I do get a response, I appreciate the ease of access to it. But, these are not the most useful sites for me.

I knew about the Library of Congress' website, and have used it several times, but Michael pointed out some resources on it that I was not aware of. I haven't taken the two weekends Michael suggested in order to explore the possibilities, but now I know there is more at the LOC than just old newspapers!

I am new to Gazetteers as a resource, but not to Google Books. I found Elizabeth's tip on merging the two things together to be very helpful. What I do disagree with is that Elizabeth said to ignore those results in Google Books that say snippet or no preview. I feel that these links should still be explored because they lead to links that show you where you can access these items. Not everything is online, so it makes sense to find the original or microfilmed versions in other repositories.

Geneabloggers is one of the first places I signed up for when I decided to go pro a year ago. I felt that I needed exposure and this was a good place to start. I have met several bloggers and exchanged information and good conversation. The website itself is a great place for information as Thomas has many links to useful information, blogs of interest, etc. Geneabloggers is like a corral keeping all of our blog links in one convenient place.

In conclusion:
So ultimately my vote went to Michael, but I wonder if others were split like I was. I also wonder if we had been able to vote at the end of each round if the results would have been different. In the end, it was a great way to spend forty-five minutes, and I enjoyed listening to all of the presenters.

Congratulations to Marian Pierre-Louis on being the Kelly Clarkson of genealogy! You rock!