Category Archives: Software

1,000,000 database records passed at IGRA

I’m proud to announce that the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) has recently passed a million records in its All Israel Database. IGRA has been working on building this database for five and half years, and it’s an incredible accomplishment to have reached a million records in that time. We’re proud to make these records available to researchers across the globe (you just need to register for free on the site).

While I am currently the elected President of IGRA, I completely credit this accomplishment to our database volunteers who have worked hard and consistently for years to reach this stage. Under the leadership of Rosie Feldman, and with the help of Daniel Horowitz and Carol Hoffman, a team of dozens of volunteers have helped scan and index over three hundred data sources adding up to more than one million records.

Some recent databases that have been added, or added to, include Petach Tikva Marriages and Divorce 1928-1931, Jerusalem Marriages 1931-1940, British Mandate Marriage and Divorce Certificates, Teacher’s Union Members 1941, Israeli Name Changes 1954, Operation On Eagle’s Wings Immigrants 1949 (from Yemen), Israel Telephone Directory 1963, and Tombstones of the Jewish Cemetery of Salonica, Greece.

Archivist Award 2016
Archivist Award
These databases come from our close collaboration with more than thirty archives, both in Israel and abroad. Some of the archives we work with include the Israel State Archives, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Tel Aviv Municipal Archives, the Petach Tivka History Archives, and the Jerusalem Municipal Archives. Our work was recognized by the Association of Israeli Archivists last year when they presented us with an award in appreciation for our work with their member archives.

IGRA’s All Israel Database is the only major online genealogy database that is completely bi-lingual, being searchable in both Hebrew and English. IGRA works very hard to insure that databases that originate in Hebrew are searchable in English, and databases that originate in English are searchable in Hebrew. Our bi-lingual database has been made possible with the help of Brooke Schreier Ganz and her LeafSeek platform. Brooke may be better known these days as the head of Reclaim the Records, or her board role at Gesher Galicia, but she is also critical to our success here at IGRA and we are very grateful to all her hard work.

Indexing a million records is no easy task, and part of the problem is just coordinating all the work, and making sure the work assigned to people gets completed. To that end, we have been looking for many years for an online tool, similar to those used by Ancestry and FamilySearch for their volunteer indexing efforts. Recently we worked with Banai Feldstein, to insure our requirements were considered as she developed her Crowd-Sourced Indexing (CSI) tool. While other groups are currently using her great indexing tool as well, a quick look at the rankings of top indexers using her platform show they are all indexing IGRA records. Many thanks to Banai for developing the tool that helped push us past the million record mark earlier, and which will enable us to get the next million that much faster.

So thank you again to everyone who has made this milestone possible. If you want to help get the next million records online, please sign up at Crowd-Sourced Indexing, and check out the data we’re currently indexing. As of this writing we’re currently indexing the 1963 Telephone Directory in English, as well as a 1939 Petah Tikva Voters List and a 1936 Tel Aviv Voters List in Hebrew. Check back often as we have many other projects in the queue that get posted as soon as we complete what’s online (see the list of 30 completed indexing projects on the site).

Lastly, if you’re going to be at the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy next month in Orlando, be sure to stop by the Share Fair on Sunday, July 23 between 12:30pm and 4pm (Swan Foyer), or the Israel Research BOF meeting on Monday, July 24 between 3:30pm and 4:45pm (Pelican 2), to meet IGRA volunteers and find out more about the work we do and the databases we are working on.

TreeSync end-of-life announced, with under two weeks left of service

TreeSync, for those who don’t know, is the feature of Family Tree Maker (FTM) that allows it to sync with family trees on Ancestry.com. At least, it was. Ancestry stopped selling FTM in 2015 (see Ancestry just killed off Family Tree Maker and Managing the FTM transition), then sold it to Software MacKiev (their existing partner for publishing FTM on the Mac) in 2016 and announced that RootsMagic would also sync with Ancestry family trees (see Ancestry comes up with solutions for FTM users).

The about boxes of that last version of FTM by Ancestry, and the first version by Software MacKiev

Over the past year that Software MacKiev has owned FTM, they’ve come out with a single small update that mostly fixed things behind the scenes, and updated the software so it showed Software MacKiev as the publisher. If you look at the above About boxes, you’ll noticed that as it is the Mac version, both were actually created by Software MacKiev, although they were the publisher only in the newer version.

I haven’t had a CD drive for my computer in years, but apparently you can get the new version on CD if you want

Yesterday, Ancestry announced that TreeSync would cease to work on March 29, just 9 days later, and would be replaced by a feature called FamilySync in FTM. In order to use FamilySync, however, you would need to upgrade to a new version of FTM. That upgrade costs $29.95 if you order in advance of the release, and will cost $39.95 when the software is released (expected to be on March 31).

While I am an owner of FTM, and even upgraded to the latest version just a couple of months ago, I still have not received an e-mail from Software MacKiev about the upgrade. They now have two pages on their web site, both updated today, about the upgrade – Family Tree Maker 2017 FAQ and FamilySync to replace TreeSync in FTM 2017.

MacKiev says the upgrade was announced simultaneously with Ancestry yesterday, although that’s strange since I haven’t received an e-mail yet. Who did they announce it to if not their customers? Were they planning to wait until after the $10 discount is over?

In any case, it is strange that they’re only giving customers 9 days to do a paid upgrade in order to keep a major feature of FTM. This reminds me of the way a lot of people felt when Ancestry first announced that they were stopping the sales of FTM back in 2015 without giving customers any kind of transition plan.

Also strange is that Ancestry did not mention the status of RootsMagic’s integration with Ancestry. Both FTM and RootsMagic were supposed to be using the same method to sync with Ancestry, and while it’s not up to Ancestry when RootsMagic releases its version with support for syncing, one would think they would at least mention that it would be supported by RootsMagic soon as well. It’s especially strange since RootsMagic previewed their sync feature, called TreeShare, on their blog earlier this month.

In addition to the ‘new’ FamilySync feature, the new version of FTM (dubbed FTM 2017) also includes integration with FamilySearch, a ‘color coding’ feature and a photo editor.

If you’re interested in upgrading to the new version, and like me have not gotten an e-mail yet, you can get the upgrade by going to one of the following geographic-based edition links – United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Apparently these editions correspond to which version of Ancestry you are subscribed to, and you need to have the correct edition that matches the version of Ancestry to which you subscribe. I’m not sure what would happen if you bought the US version (the cheapest by the way) and tried to connect to a different version of Ancestry.

Google PhotoScan – a genealogists best friend?

google-photo-scan

Google has introduced a new app for both Android and iPhone for scanning printed photos. You can even photograph pictures in glass frames and it will remove the glare.

They’ve put out an amusing video to explain how it works:

I’ve had reservations in the past about phone-based scanning apps for genealogy purposes, especially those that try to scan more than one photo at once (such as a page of photos in an album). My primary concern was that by scanning multiple photos in a single picture, you are drastically reducing the resolution of the photos. Google PhotoScan, however, seems to go in the opposite direction, letting you take multiple photos with your phone to construct a single hi-res glare-free version of the photo you are scanning. This seems more in the right direction.

One problem genealogists run into is finding and copying family photos. Sometimes they’re sitting in one’s attic in a box, but many times they’re sitting in someone else’s attic, or some distant cousin’s photo album. This is the kind of problem that has been addressed by products like the Flip-Pal mobile scanner in the past, although this app is probably easier to use and in many cases will probably return a better result. There are still some cases where a flatbed scanner will probably return a better result, but the advanced algorithms used by this app will be able to get better results most of the time (especially for pictures behind glass).

I haven’t had a chance to test out the app yet, but I welcome comments by others who have, and I will add my own observations once I’ve had a chance to kick the tires.