NGS 2015 – Evernote for Genealogists

I recently gave two talks on genealogy and technology at the NGS Family History Conference in St. Charles, Missouri.

One talk was Evernote for Genealogists. Here are the slides. (Please note that I wrote these in Keynote, but have to convert them to PowerPoint to publish, so there may be some conversion effects.)

A key resource for powerful searches in Evernote is this YouTube video on Evernote search syntax:

FGS 2014

I attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference in San Antonio, Texas this week.

It was a great week, with good lectures from leading genealogists, as well as an active exhibition hall.

I was honored to be asked to present two talks on the first day:

Strategic Planning for Society Leaders

And … Electronic Publishing Fundamentals for Society Leaders

Eulogy for Alice Jones

Alice May Jones (1928-2014)
Alice May Jones (1928-2014)

I think of my mother are an adventurous person. She thought nothing about packing the five of us into a VW bug and heading to British Columbia. Or, when we were more grown, into a station wagon and heading to West Virginia, or Boston.

When she wanted to revamp the kitchen cabinets, but couldn’t afford to pay a professional to do it, she took a woodworking class at the adult school, and built 18 feet of cabinet, with a Lazy Susan.

She was adventurous, and very practical about the steps required to set out on the adventure, and also a dreamer who sometimes struggled when reality did not match her dream.

I’m going to read an autobiographical sketch my mother wrote, probably some time about 1983, I’m not sure when. She conveys better than I can the blend of practical adventurer and inveterate dreamer she was. I think you’ll also see some of her sense of humor in her writing.

I was graduated from High School in 1945 in Sheridan, Wyoming a small town in northeastern Wyoming.

I thought about going to nursing school after that, but nice girls didn’t do that — they became teachers or got married and raised children. So I went away to college in Hastings, Nebraska — where I really had a ball. I think I must have majored in campustry. I took only what was interesting to me — music, French, Spanish, and literature.

I came to California in 1947 and fell in love with the warm weather — and no snow to shovel. I graduated from Glendale College in 1949, majoring in music & literature, and got married.

My husband was just out of the Navy, and between us we couldn’t have dug up bus fare out of town, but I started making plans. It was going to be a beautiful life: I would have a house, a car, a baby grand piano, and 5 children — not necessarily in that order.

My first child, a daughter, was born in 1950 and by the time she was two we had a car and a house — not bad for 24 years old.

There were 4 more children in the next 13 years, another daughter and 3 sons. I worked a little here & there but never steadily until 1961, when I started a business: Reseda Nurses Registry, and an all medical telephone answering service. I sold this business when we moved to Simi Valley in 1963 — I needed to spend more time with my family. In about 1965, I was contacted by the President of CNA Dist #5 in LA about running their Registry for them — which I did for about 8 years.

By then I had my piano and I was ready to retire. Everything according to plan. I didn’t work for several years — I took piano lessons and enjoyed being home with my children. I was fortunate in that I had beautiful gifted children — just like the plan — involved in music — playing football, drill team etc.

My oldest daughter graduated from County USC School of Nursing. My younger daughter finished high school at 16 and went to work for State Farm Insurance in T.O. She wanted to go to night school, but was a little shy, so I told her I would go with her, if she would pick something we would both enjoy — so we took conversational Spanish.

That got her started and she went on her way, and so did I — more Spanish and piano. Then I discovered the Simi Valley Adult School, where I studied oil paining and stained glass and cabinet building — all rather expensive hobbies —. So I took a part time job with Brentwood Nurses Registry — to support my habit.

By now, my youngest daughter was a full time student and always looking for a part time job. Finally, she took the nurse’s aide course at the Adult School and loved it. In fact, she talked me into taking it. I finished, but was still working at the Registry. Anyway, one day, Simi Doctors’ Hospital called her to work and she couldn’t go — but she told them she’d send her mother. And that’s how I started working in a hospital.

In 1978, my husband had open heart surgery (6 bypasses) — That wasn’t in my plan! — but he recovered nicely and was back at work in 3 weeks — so that was O.K. and I went on my merry way.

Then, in 1981 Jana was killed in a car accident — that wasn’t in my plan either — and it wasn’t O.K. — I met a Catholic Priest at the hospital who has influenced my life forever. Over the next few months I began to realize that I had been living in fairyland for 52 years. Things were not always going to work out the way I had planned. Life is so fragile. I may not have my husband forever, indeed, I might not have him tomorrow, and I had better prepare myself to take care of me.

She trails off there….

You see, mom was a courageous dreamer, and often, but not always, ready to take the next challenge.

Despite the fact that she disappeared from us over the last decade, I was comforted that her adventurous dreaming, her sense of humor, and her love of music were the last things to go.

Alice May Jones

Alice May Jones passed away May 26, 2014 in Scott Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

She was born March 16, 1928 in Ord, Nebraska, the only child of Ernest Melvin Hill and Helen Kjerstine Johnson. Her father was a clothier who lost his business in the Depression and returned to farming; he died when she was five. Her mother was a teacher.

She attended Sheridan High School (Wyoming), Hastings College (Nebraska), and Glendale College, where she received an AA degree. She majored in art and studied music, languages, and literature.

On September 21, 1949, she married Carl Lawrence Jones. They raised five children in the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley. She started a nurse’s registry, and later pursued arts and crafts, including painting, macramé, crochet, knitting, and woodworking. She liked to travel. On one of her trips, she fell in love with Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she retired with her husband. After Carl’s death in 2003, she lived with and near her children in California, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

She was preceded in death by a daughter, Jana Jones. She is survived by four children: Jacqueline Abraham of Swissvale, Pennsylvania; Jonathan Jones of Acton; James Jones of Simi Valley; and Jordan Jones of Raleigh, North Carolina; as well as three cousins, seven grandchildren, five step grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.

A commemoration will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 4th, at the Rose Family Funeral Home, 4444 Cochran St, Simi Valley. Interment will follow at Oakwood Memorial Park, 22601 Lassen St, Chatsworth. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at

The Demise of Readmill

The best app for reading books is being shut down. Readmill allowed for reading of DRM-free as well as Adobe and Google DRM titles on mobile apps for iOS and Android. The reading experience was crisp and clear; the app also allowed for social and shared reading and annotations.

When Amazon bought the better known GoodReads, Craig Mod wrote an interesting piece at Paid Content entitled “The deal Goodreads should’ve struck (hint: it wasn’t with Amazon)“:

“In my dream team, fantasy publishing startup league, I would have had Goodreads buy Readmill. Here are two startups with similarly overlapping problems. I understand why Amazon bought Goodreads, and why Goodreads sold itself to Amazon. But as a reader and lover of competition in the world of publishing, there is a compelling alternative universe in which a Goodreads plus Readmill combination offered us all a unique alternative to Amazon.”

Now, Readmill has come to its Epilogue. The Readmill team will be joining Dropbox, presumably to enable reading of e-books stored there, but … they are not taking the Readmill app and website.

The website is no longer allowing people to create accounts as of today, and it will shut down completely, as will the availability of the mobile apps, on July 1, 2014.

This is a sad day for independent readers. E-books are dominated by Amazon, with Apple, Google, and Adobe sweeping up most of the remainder. It was an important part of the e-book ecosystem to have a separate (and in many ways better and cleaner) app from the dominant Amazon, Apple, Google, and Adobe offerings. Hopefully, Dropbox will build the Readmill technology into Dropbox and provide a non-content company way to store and read our genealogy and history e-books.

Direct Me NYC 1940

Direct Me NYC 1940
Direct Me NYC 1940

The New York Times published an article yesterday (“Cracking the Brand-New 1940 Census“), reporting that at the New York Public Library’s Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy and the NYPL Labs have connected 1940 phone books to the 1940 census to help researchers locate New Yorkers in the 1940 US Census.

The site leverages the One-Step work of Stephen Morse and Joel Weintraub.

This is a wickedly intelligent way to concatenate available data.

The database allows you to start with a name and a borough, find the person in the telephone directory, use that to find the address, then use the address to find the 1940 US Census enumeration district. The site guides you through the process, including sending you over to FamilySearch to information on the Enumeration District you have discovered.

This will provide quite a bit of help for researchers who still have not found family members in the 1940 US Census, either because the names are indexed incorrectly, or because there are “too many hits.”

Categories Uncategorized

StoryCorps Covered Survivors of Another School Massacre

The national tragedy of Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut has shocked the country. The incredible loss makes me almost speechless.NPR’s StoryCorps covered a Michigan school bombing, interviewing survivors of the May 18, 1927 attack on a school in rural Bath, Michigan.

Forty-five died in that bombing. What you hear in the StoryCorps recording, is how people’s lives were affected. How, even 70 years later, the memories of a family and a community can center on a single horrific moment when so much changed for so many.

Witness to the Lincoln Assassination Appeared on TV

Seymour Winston, he last living witness to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln appeared on the TV show “I’ve Got a Secret” on 9 February 1956. As made sense at the time, they offered him a carton of cigarettes, but he requested pipe tobacco….

The show’s producers knew of Mr. Winston because of an article that had appeared in The American Weekly.

Samuel J. Seymour, as told to Frances Spatz Leighton, “I Saw Lincoln Shot,” (Milwaukee:  The Milwaukee Sentinel, 7 February 1954), p. 11. Google News.