Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.

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Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. I love family history. Since 2007, I have spent much of my time providing part-time support for the world's largest free family history site This is very rewarding. I have helped others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
In 2010-2018 Iserved in the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre. I have a FHC blog at Bill's Family History Center Blog For information the Latter-day Saints and family history click

Monday, May 24, 2010

Portable Software What is portable software? It is software that can be run on a computer without installation. Windows software normally requires installation, so that the Windows registry has the necessary data to run the software. Some Windows software exists in special portable versions. Other Windows software makes no mission-critical use of the registry, and can be used as portable software even if it was not originally designed to be used that way. In these cases, copy the program's folder from a computer that has it installed. The easy way to do this is to right-click the folder > Send to > and select the flash drive. As a genealogy researcher, I am sometimes in Family History Centers, libraries, archives, and homes where I can not install the software I wish to use on their computers. Portable software is frequently the solution. I have "portable" freeware on one of my flash drives, so that I can use it without needing to install it on the computer. Some of my favorites are these: PAF 5.2 Personal Ancestral File genealogy software PAF 4 Personal Ancestral File genealogy software PureText (I would find life awkward without it!) Irfanview (graphics viewer/converter - a regular Swiss army knife) Firefox portable (so I can use IE and Firefox - for different views of the same family in nFS) NoteTab Light (multi-document notepad, copy the folder from a computer it is installed on) Kompozer portable version (the improved version of the web page editor NVU) GEDview (viewing GECOM files) iMage (image editor) Skype (just copy the Skype folder from any computer it is installed on) Foxit (when a PDF will not open in AdobeReader, it will usually open in Foxit) OpenOffice portable version (for using Microsoft Office files) FileZilla portable version (FTP program) Steganos Locknote (for encryption of my usernames and passwords) Pstart (the menu that gives easy access to all of them) A disadvantage of using portable software is that you need to open data files from the software's File menu. (Double-clicking a data file will not open it.) Other than that, I like the fact that I do not need to install my software on someone else's computer in order to use the software and data files. PureText is a tiny program that strips any codes from text in the Windows clipboard. I love to paste census transcriptions etc. from the internet into my PAF notes. PureText saves me the trouble of having to run it through Notepad to eliminate the HTML encoding. I keep PAF4 around because PAF5 cannot open files from PAF2, which I still encounter from time to time. PAF4 and PAF5 can be run simultaneously. Another indespensible free tool ClipX is probably not portable, but it is a free clipboard extender that will save multiple separate items (even images and entire folders of files) and allow me to select them and paste them in any order. Without it I would feel that I had one hand tied behind my back. -- Bill website: blog:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Free Canada Census Indexes and Images I have now added the free Canada Census links to the FamilySearch Research Wiki Someone else previously added the links to I encourage you all to register and add your help in those research areas that you know well. Please note that this site is for research help, not for genealogical data. To use the census links I encourage you to check it out!

Putting your family tree online The question is often asked, "What is the best way to put my family tree online?" That is a "loaded" question. Does "best" mean "easiest", "most impressive", or something else? I think that "best" is like "beauty". It is in the eye of the beholder. Earlier today I looked at a variety of ways to put a family tree online. Screen shots and links to examples can be seen at None of them looked as "good" in my opinion as, which is also one of the simplest ways of doing the job. A sample can be seen at A screenshot of the pedigree view follows. It is about 10% of the real size.

At the FHC During the past week I have been trying to get the subscription-based websites working properly in Riverbend FHC's free "Family History Center Services Online Portal". The hold-out was, which gives access to the digital images of the Swedish Church Books. I finally had to phone FamilySearch Support, and let a technician take remote control of the computer to uninstall the wrong version of the Genline launcher and install the correct version for FHCs. Then I installed the Genline launcher on the other 4 patron-use computers. Last night I trained three other people on using the resources in the FHC portal. I think they were as impressed as I was with some of the resources. HeritageQuest, Findmypast, and the Godfrey Memorial Library are my favorites ... at least so far. Now if we can get working, our patrons should feel richly rewarded for their trip to our FHC. Our director has asked me to also do an inventory of the CD-based resources in the center. Which ones do we need to keep, which ones can we throw out? ... I am still working on that project. Google Reader I follow Dick Eastman's blog, and he suggested that Google Reader (and other similar news-feed readers) were a more efficient way to follow blogs. So I tried it. I quickly found there were some blogs that I didn't want to follow, as they had too many postings or they were not sufficiently relevant. Fortunately, they were easy to unsubscribe. I am still somewhat tentative about this concept. The blogs I read through my email remain my favorites.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I have been invited by NEHGS to include this information in my blog. It may be of special interest if you live near Boston and have New England ancestors. I have condensed it, for further information, please follow the links. New England Historic Genealogical Society UPCOMING EVENTS Location- 99 Newbury Street, Boston MA 02116-3007 NEHGS Genealogy Research Center Orientation Wednesday, June 7 @10 AM- 11 AM Saturday, July 10 @10 AM- 11 AM Wednesday, August 4 @10 AM- 11 AM In this orientation, you will have the opportunity to learn more about our resources, discuss your research interests with one of our expert genealogists on staff, attend a FREE thirty-minute introductory lecture and have a tour of our library’s vast holdings. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the country’s oldest and largest non-profit genealogy library and archive, with more than 28 million artifacts, books, manuscripts, microfilms, journals, photographs, records, and other items. Begin learning about your genealogy with this great tour. Come Home to New England, Session I June 14- June 19 Using Wednesday, July 7 @10 AM With over 110 million names in 2,200 databases, is the primary internet resource for New England genealogy. This free lecture will offer an overview of the Society’s website and online databases. Summer Research Getaway 19th and 20th Century Immigrant Ancestors July 15- July 17 Come Home to New England, Session II August 9- August 14

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Favorite Podcasts I love to listen to family history podcasts. These are basically radio broadcasts over the internet that you can listen to at the time that is best for you. 3:27 AM? No problem! And if you prefer to take them on the road, just copy them to your iPod or MP3 player, and listen to them whenever and wherever you want. One of my favorites is Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems. I have listened to every episode, as well as her podcast Family History: Genealogy Made Easy. I recently had some photos of text that I wanted to transcribe. In the past I have printed off the photo and copied the text into my word processor. I hate wasting paper, (although you would never guess that from looking at the work table that serves as my desk)! I remembered that one of the people Lisa interviewed spoke of a free Windows program called Transcript 2.3, that sounded like the FamilySearch Indexing software. You load the image, and it appears at the top of the screen, and there is a text window at the bottom of the screen for data entry. You don't need to take your eyes off the screen. I tried it and I really liked it. Lisa's notes from the interview Her podcasts are available from Here is a welcome video where Lisa introduces herself and her two main podcast series. If you are passionate about family history this is a wonderful resource, and her basic podcasts are free! I have no business connection with Lisa Louise Cooke, I am just a very satisfied listener.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Record Search pilot site
Over the past two weeks I have spent a lot of hours in FamilySearch's free Record Search site. (either or else > Search Records > Record Search) There is a vastly increased number of resources for various places, including Ontario, Canada where my Buchanan and Watson ancestors settled in the 1800s. Some of the resources are far from complete, but I still found lots of original records for documenting my database. If the image below is hard to read, please click this link. A red asterisk indicates databases that are new or updated. Note that the "Canada Births and Baptisms 1661-1959" seems to be limited to records from Ontario and Nova Scotia, mostly for 1870-1910 at this point. But as genealogists we are grateful for the new records and struggle to be patient as additional ones are added. And as I have often heard, "Free is good."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An interesting morning so far ... I received this link from my brother Lloyd I had no idea that digital photocopiers have a hard drive that stores an image of every page ever copied or faxed, and that these pages can be retrieved and reprinted by later purchasers of used machines. You might want to check it out. Of course, police records, health records, and other confidential records are of greater concern than your genealogy records. But you maybe don't want to photocopy your birth certicate, driver's license, taxation and insurance documents, and credit card information on a digital copier. A safer alternative might be a multi-function printer-scanner-copier attached to your own computer. These do not normally store copies of the images. If you have a separate scanner, one of the free photocopier programs available on the internet will give you the ability to use it with your printer to photocopy documents. A web search for: free photocopier software will bring up several possibilities. I have used the free one from for several years. It seems to me that storing previously copied documents on a photocopier is a design flaw in the commerical copiers themselves. I certainly consider it a security flaw. Part of the powering-down process should be the deleting all copies made during the latest session. It can't be hard to incorporate into the design, and should not be a $500 option! __________________________________________________________________ The next email I received was from someone researching Buchanan families that immigrated to Canada. At the bottom of this message was this notice: IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914. If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email. I guess he sent it from work. I sent him a copy of the CBS photocopier video link above and suggested he check it out. Maybe the Australian Department of Defence will appreciate a "heads up" notice.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom! Wednesday was Mom's 90th birthday. She is doing well and although there is a shuffle to her step, her mind is still sharp. During the day she received numerous birthday greetings in person and by telephone. Then at 5 pm a bunch of us took her and her sister Vi out for supper at a Chinese smorg. It was fun to get together and honor Mom on this special birthday.

Mom, in the burgundy sweater
Extinction of the Ing name Vi asked me whether I knew of any other male Ings in the family. I had to say no. Her brother Charlie, at age 93, is the last male Ing left in our family. I thought about the hundreds of Ing descendants. My 2g-grandfather Robert Ing had three sons, William, Thomas and Henry. William and Henry died childless. Robert also had three daughters. Thomas had 10 children including 6 sons, but only three sons lived to adulthood: Thomas, James and Richard. This Thomas never married. James had one son, George who remained a bachelor. He also had two daughters. Richard had two sons, Walter and Charles, as well as four daughters. Walter had three sons, who all died young. Charles has a daughter but no sons.
When Charles dies, the name Ing will die with him - at least in our family. The ancient Saxon name of Ing will persist in other families. And we, Robert's descendants, know that to some extent we are all Ings!

I was able to go to the FHC last night. In particular I wanted to check out some of the subscription databases in the free Online Research Portal. I also wanted to check into, the limited access version of which we were told is available to all FHCs. Their site asks for a username and password. We were unable to find these, so I phoned FHC Support, and they are sending an email to the FHC director to help get the access codes. I believe this is the same type of account as some public libraries have. Here are my current impressions of the subscription services that are free in the Online Research Portal of a Family History Center: I did not find the 19th Century British Library Newspapers very helpful, but maybe I was looking for the wrong people. The poor seldom made it into the newspapers unless they ran afoul of the law, in which case the free Old Bailey records (available elsewhere) give the court proceedings in London. FamilyHistoryLink does not seem to be much different that some of the free online forums such as RootsWeb or GenForum. i.e. the sort of thing that may eventually pay big dividends, but is unlikely to produce quick results. is an absolute gem! I especially love the 1841-1911 census for England and Wales. I usually save the digital images of the pages that have my people. Their passenger information is wonderful too, for passengers leaving the UK. They probably have other useful things too that I will yet discover. I found somewhat disappointing. They had few census records and they overlay the census image with layers of "stuff" that may be intended to be helpful, but I found an impediment. Their historic newspapers show a lot of promise. (Ordinary people were more likely to be mentioned in newspapers in Canada and the USA, especially in small towns.) I need to spend more time checking out I think they have more than I have found so far. will be checked out in the future. will be checked out in the future. Godfrey Memorial Library will be checked out in the future. I have given it a cursory glance and it looks promising. - The US census 1790-1930 (missing 1850) is the big thing here! The page images could be clearer, but are still acceptable. The 1850 census is among those accessible in FamilySearch Record Search, so the patrons have access to all of the US census that the US census Bureau has made public. Their book search engine and I don't seem to think along similar lines. It seemed to take me nowhere. The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) keeps sending me to the form where I can purchase copies of the printed periodial pages from Allen County Public Library, so the periodicals themselves do not seem to be digitized. Revolutionary War, the Freedman's Bank, and U.S. Serial Set: I didn't have anyone to search for. Historic Map Works - Coverage seems to be hit-or-miss. I could find a great map of my ancestors' 1879 farms in Elma Township, Perth County, Ontario - complete with the owners' names. But I could not find a map of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England. As a geographical resource, it is worth a try. Most online map sites show areas as they are now, not as they were back then. Urban sprawl has absorbed former rural towns, villages and farmland. World Vital Records will be checked out in the future. Alexander Street Press - American Civil War records - I have no one to look up. Those are my current impressions, subject to change. I invite your comments on these services. Which do you use, and how do you use them? Bill website: blog: