Category Archives: Genealogy & Technology

July Tech Moment: Snagit

Do you use a web clipper to save items that aren’t easy, or impossible, to download? There are several good choices out there and if all you do is save images, then a free version – even the one built into your own browser – works fine.

However, what if you need to annotate the image or document in some way? You’d like to highlight, underline, redact, etc. information to be found in the saved image.

Those are functions I need in my webclipper, not only for blog posts, but sometimes for my own genealogical research.

The product I use is Snagit by TechSmith. It’s easy to use and the company provides tutorials to highlight its features.

A CAPTURE box appears when the program is opened, Just click and move the cursor to clip the item. Here’s what the dashboard looks like:

Recent saved items appear along the bottom with top and side menus offering choices for annotation.

An important thing to know is that it is currently possible to purchase Snagit 2024, but when the 2025 version is released, the company is going to a subscription model.

I’m not a fan of annual subscriptions and don’t currently have any as older versions of those products still meet my needs well.

If a customer purchases Snagit 2024 (for $39.00), adds the maintenance agreement and keeps it active each year, that customer will be grandfathered in to receive all future Snagit updates, per info found on the website:

June 4th, 2024

TechSmith is transitioning to an annual subscription-only model, beginning with Snagit 2025 and Camtasia 2025 this fall. Active maintenance agreements currently provide access to new major releases, and this will remain true during this transition. 

If you might be interested in Snagit, visit the website to learn more about. However, don’t wait unless you don’t mind annual subscriptions.

Genealogy Organizing: How I Do It

From time to time, I am asked how I organize my 40+ years of genealogical treasures and data. If you’re expecting this to be a long post, or even a multi-part explanation, you’d be wrong.

SIMPLE is always the best way to organize anything and, although I’m sharing my method, the way you organize should be the way that works best for you.

How Do I Do It?

1. Paper and digital records are organized in exactly the same way – by SURNAME. I have a folder for every surname in my direct ancestral line. Records created by a female before marriage are placed in her father’s surname folder. If a female married more than once, all her married records are placed in the surname folder for the husband that is in my direct line.

Cousin files are grouped under the surname folder of our common ancestor. For example, my first cousins are nestled under our grandfather. Second cousins are found under our common great grandfather.

2. Original paper items, such as baptismal certificates, photos, etc. are also filed alphabetically by surname in the same manner as digital records. I inherited original photos of my 2X great grandparents, Calvin Adams and Nellie Tarbox, so they are together in the albums under “Adams, Calvin.”

I have discarded all photocopies and non-original paper records, but have scanned and saved them digitally.

Originals are kept in archival albums with slipcovers, in a closet away from sunlight. My company of choice is University Products in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

3. After trying several styles of naming digital images, I found one that works extremely well for me and makes it easy to find something when I need it.

Some choose to save images in folders named by type of record – e.g. Births, Marriages, Newspaper Articles, etc. with everyone, regardless of surname, grouped in those categories.  That doesn’t work for me, as I prefer to keep all my records together by surname.

How do I name my images? This is what I’ve found works best for me:

SurnameGivenName.RecordType.Year.Description

Examples:
AdamsCalvin.Marriage.1875.CalaisMainetoNellieTarbox

SmithEdna.Newspaper.1947.EngagementHeraldNews15JulyPage1

SaboJulia.Photo.1912.BridesmaidPassaicNJUnknownCouple

StewartMary.Letter.1991.WilliamStuartFamilyInfo

I try not to make the description too long, but just long enough to jog my memory of what the item is.

If I am looking for a cemetery record, I go to surname folders, find the person’s name in the list, open the file, scroll down to “Cemetery” and click.

That’s it! I promised a short explanation! Remember, the most important thing is to find a system that works for you and BE CONSISTENT!

Happy Organizing!

Trying Out Centurial – Evidence Based Genealogy Software

A couple of weeks ago, I posted five suggestions for managing genealogy research. The fifth item in my list was Centurial, a Dutch-based genealogy software program that is evidence based.

What does an evidence based program look like?

Well, to begin a family tree, you must first enter a source, whether it be a document, a photograph, or a vital record, etc. The Centurial tutorial began with the image of a gravestone and showed how to enter the information and then add a person.

How does it work?

I initially tried to add a different type of record – a marriage certificate – and then add my grandparents. It was easy to add one person, but then when I added my grandmother, she was in the person list, but I couldn’t figure out how to attach her in the tree to my grandfather. I got so frustrated that I deleted the program. That was about a month ago.

For my second try, I decided to mimic the steps in the tutorial and chose a photo of my grandparents’ gravestone. That attempt went much better and it only took me about six views of starting and stopping the tutorial to make sure I was clicking in all the correct places.

Next, the tutorial showed how to add a vital record from FamilySearch, so I did the same and found my grandfather’s birth record in Calais, Maine, which is digitally available on FamilySearch.

The demo about how to choose the pieces of the citation to add into Centurial’s boxes went too fast. I had to stop and start the video at least six more times to be sure I had the correct bits in the right places. I’m still not sure I do because the Maine Vital Records collection had a more vague citation than the German collection used in the video lesson.

With that, I think my patience was worn out and normally, with non-tech stuff, I have a very high patience level.  After about an hour, I had accomplished:

I had originally planned to go a bit further with Centurial, because when we are required to first enter a source in a citation format, the problem of not knowing where information was found will never happen.

In theory, this is the right way to do genealogical research.

In reality, I have found several shortcomings with this program, just by dipping my toe in the water, so to speak.

First, I don’t find this program at all intuitive. Without the tutorial, I wouldn’t have gotten the two steps ahead that I managed.

By the way, there are only three very short tutorials, all created in 2017, when the first edition of this program came out. I didn’t find any manual, either and without either videos or a manual, or both, I will be hopelessly lost when trying to add to this tree.

Second, and I would normally have an image here, but I can’t figure out how to get back to the data box for my grandfather’s information, I followed the presenter’s steps. The person data box had a place for surname, given name and nickname. I would normally have put my grandfather’s name in the given name box. I actually did that by mistake first. His name “Vernon” was converted to “V.” as his given name. Why, I don’t know.

The presenter said to insert the first name in the nickname box, so I deleted my try and followed the directions. That box kept his name as Vernon.

I was curious to see how Centurial’s information would export in a gedcom and then open in RootsMagic. Look what happens to the names because Centurial uses the nickname field:

They are duplicated with quotation marks around them. My grandmother has no maiden name listed, but that isn’t an error. Their gravestone doesn’t included Coleman, so I left that field blank.

Third, I haven’t found any place to add my own notes. Let’s say my grandparents had an original gravestone that was somehow destroyed and the current one was a replacement, in a different style with different information and no image existed of the original stone. Not true, but if it was, I didn’t see any place where I could explain and save the information.

Fourth, the learning curve for me would be fairly steep until I mastered quite a few steps. Centurial has an import gedcom function, so I created a practice tree in RootsMagic that included just my grandparents.

It changed their given names back into the first initial format. I didn’t attach any sources, but inserted my grandfather’s birth and death dates. I then added a photo of the gravestone, but couldn’t figure out how to connect it to Vernon.

Gedcoms move the information back and forth between the programs, but just correcting all the names would be a massive job (I have about 8,000 people in my tree.) I also don’t know what other errors would pop up in a bigger sample tree.

Fifth, users don’t purchase this software. It is by subscription and costs 20 euros per year with continuous renewal or 24 euros for a single year. That gets expensive over time and it doesn’t look like exporting your tree if you want to switch to another program is going to be a clean move.

To conclude, I love the idea of evidence-based software. However, practically speaking, it would take forever for even a person skilled at using Centurial to re-enter my family tree data manually and I’d be back to the same error issues if I decided to gedcom it to another program. There also seem to be a few quirks in the program, like not being able to save a name in the given name box.

My curiosity about Centurial has been satisfied!

If you have used this program, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and share your experience.