Saturday, October 26, 2019

Use Your Critical Thinking Skills to Evaluate the Evidence

Do you believe everything you read in a newspaper? Of course not! You use your cognitive and analytical skills to assess what is published there. These are often referred to as "critical thinking skills."

Quality genealogical research involves much more than simply gathering document copies and entering names, dates, and places into a database program. It also means treating each piece of information as if it is evidence in a forensic investigation. You have to couple all of your knowledge and experience with critical thought processes to reach scholarly, plausible hypotheses. You then have to weigh all the evidence you have in order to prove your theory to be factual  –  or to refute your hypotheses in whole or in part. The critical evaluations you perform will involve a thorough examination of a number of criteria: 
  • What type of evidence is it?
  • Where did it originate and when?
  • Who created it and why?
  •  Is the evidence original or derived from another source?
  • Is it primary or secondary in nature?
  • Was content been transcribed, extracted, or simply abstracted?  
  • Was the originator or creator an authority? And how do you know that?
  • Is there any bias or hidden agenda that influences the quality or truth of the evidence?
  • Is there any reason to doubt the authenticity of the evidence?
  • Can you corroborate or refute the evidence with other independent sources?
  • How does the evidence relate to or with other facts already proved or disproved?
  • How will you record the information and create a source citation?

Critical thinking is so much more than scanning a document or someone else’s purported evidence. It is using all your experience with the record types, your understanding of history and sociology of the geographical area, your knowledge of boundary and governmental changes, and applying a huge dollop of common sense to your analysis process. You are building context through solid documentation and analysis, developing rational hypotheses as someone involved with forensic research. And by doing so, you are getting to really getting to know each person and bring them back to life.

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Curt Witcher Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

"Allen County Public Library’s manager of its Genealogy Center, Curt B. Witcher, is the latest recipient of the Indiana Historical Society’s Eli Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award."

Read all about it in the article by the Greated Fort Wayne Business Weekly at

Congratulations, Curt! Well deserved!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Important Comments re: RootsMagic & MacOS 10.15 Catalina

We already discussed that the new Mac Catalina was released prior to RootsMagics' partner having their completed code prepared for inclusion. However, this RootsMagic Blog is an essential read for all Version 7 users waiting for Version 8:

Important Information about macOS 10.15 (Catalina)

Apple has been busy working on the next version of the desktop operating system, macOS 10.15, also known as “Catalina.” While there have been several delays, Apple has said they expect it to be released this month (October 2019). While there are several new features and changes, one change, in particular, affects RootsMagic users: Catalina requires all applications to be 64-bit applications.

RootsMagic 7

RootsMagic 7 runs on macOS, although it is not a “native” application. It runs using a “wrapper” that is provided by CodeWeavers, makers of the popular CrossOver software that allows Windows applications to run on a Mac. This wrapper made by CodeWeavers is a 32-bit application and does not run on Catalina.  CodeWeavers has been working for quite some time updating their software to be a 64-bit application so that it can run on Catalina and future versions of macOS. While they’ve made great progress, some last-minute problems in Catalina itself have caused delays. Unfortunately, their wrapper will not likely be available in time for Catalina’s release. This means that RootsMagic 7 for Mac will not be able to run on macOS Catalina until CodeWeavers finishes their update to a 64-bit application.

RootsMagic 8

First, the good news- RootsMagic 8 is a fully-native, 64-bit macOS application and runs great on macOS Catalina. The bad news? It’s still in testing, and likely won’t be officially released before MacOS Catalina is released.

Other Applications

RootsMagic is not the only application that will stop running under Catalina. If you want to see what other apps you have that will be affected:
  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Click About this Mac.
  3. Click System Report…
  4. From the list on the left, select Software then Applications.
  5. Click 64-Bit (Intel) on the right side of the list’s header. This sorts the applications by 32/64 bits.
  6. Any applications that have “No” are 32-bit and will not run under Catalina.

Our Recommendation

As much as we hate to say this- we recommend that if you need to be able to run RootsMagic 7 on your Mac, do not update to macOS Catalina. Wait until CodeWeavers finishes their 64-bit wrapper for RootsMagic 7 or for the official release of RootsMagic 8. For most users, there is no urgent need to install Catalina as previous versions of the operating system will continue to work and be supported for quite some time.
In the meantime, CodeWeavers is doing all that they can to update their wrapper as quickly as possible, while we continue to work night-and-day to finish RootsMagic 8 for you. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

The Road to RootsMagic 8 (Part 6)

We received another blog posting from RootsMagic for you,

·       Posted by Michael Booth
·       October 17, 2019

The next features that we want to preview in RootsMagic 8 are improvements in working with multiple files, screens, and even computer monitors.

One feature in previous versions of RootsMagic that our users have loved is the ability to have more than one file open at a time. You can simply open each file and work on either or both at the same time.  You can even drag-and-drop people and whole branches from one tree to another with the click of a mouse.
Before RootsMagic 8, this feature used a system called “Multiple Document Interface” or “MDI” for short.  In MDI, you have smaller “child windows,” which are contained within the main application window. This worked great in the days when people only had a single computer monitor. But today, if you have more than one monitor, it is challenging to get RootsMagic 7 to place each file in its own screen.
In RootsMagic 8, each RootsMagic file lives in its own separate window. This allows you to “stretch out” and separate them, even with multiple monitors.

And yes, you can still “drag-and-drop” people, families, and branches from one file to another, even across different computer monitors!
Note: Eagle-eyed readers may notice that a person’s edit screen can be used at the same time as the RootsMagic main screen. The edit screen no longer blocks access to the main screen. There is also more than one person edit screen open at the same time. But we’ll discuss these new features in a future article.
And to help keep things straight while working with multiple files, you can assign a color to each one. This color lets you more easily keep track of while file you are looking at and working with.

And here are the colors in action:

That’s it for today’s preview. There’s much more to come!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Upcoming Content in Genealogy Guys Learn

Genealogy Guys Learn, our new subscription education site is a great success! We offer written courses and video tutorials for all levels of family historians and genealogists. We launched the site at on 1 October 2019 and the response has been great.

Our first five written, self-study courses are:

  • Basic Genealogical Research
  • Intermediate Genealogical Research
  • Using the Social Security Death Index
  • Wills and Probate Packets
  • U.S. Military Records
Our first twelve videos are:
  • Introduction to Genealogy
  • All about the U.S. Federal Census
  • U.S. Agricultural Census Schedules
  • Genealogy Orienteering (Using Maps to Find the Right Place)
  • Principles of Effective Evidence Analysis
  • Getting Past Brick Walls
  • Dissect Obituaries for New Clues
  • Finding Archived Newspapers
  • Colonial and Early American Land Records 
  • Using the Vast Resources of
  • Understanding Copyright and Plagiarism
  • Organizing Your Research Process
These are just the beginning! We will be adding new content every month. In fact, we have 22 additional written lessons and 24 more videos in the queue to release in the coming months! These include DNA topics, GEDmatch, British civil registration and parish records research, Swedish research, methodologies, alternative record types, successful research and cemetery excursions, your ancestor's FAN Club, crowdsourcing, effective library research, tutorials for the use id Vivid-Pix RESTORE software, and a wealth of other topics that will make you a better researcher and investigator.  

In addition, we have developed a great Resources area at the site that contains links to Our Books, and a growing collection of Printed Materials that we reference in our courses and videos and that we highly recommend because we personally use them. These include books, quick sheets, and magazines that you may want to purchase for your own library or access at your local library. We offer links to valuable Products and Services that we also personally use and recommend. And we also provide a collection of Useful Links that we reference in our training materials.

Drew Smith and George G. Morgan are internationally recognized genealogy experts, authors, researchers, and host of The Genealogy Guys Podcast since September 2005 and the Genealogy Connection podcast since 2016. They also maintain The Genealogy Guys Blog at Drew also is the Genealogy Librarian at the University of South Florida Library and is involved in several high profile Florida-based genealogical and social research programs.

We invite you to enroll in Genealogy Guys Learn for what we guarantee will be a very enlightening experience. Your annual subscription at $99 works out to $8.25 per month for all the content you want to use to become a better researcher. This is a bargain and The Genealogy Guys are committed to delivering the finest content possible.

All of these products are produced by
Aha! Seminars, Inc. ®