Thursday, December 26, 2013


I will be off the blog until January 6th.  I have a lot of things going on with my work and my kids in the next two weeks so I won’t be doing any writing.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers and their families!  We actually did our Christmas last night because my daughter Kaitlyn and son-in-law Billy will be at his parents today.  We had a great time.  We had a big dinner, opened presents and then played Taboo.  I have to say that I really enjoyed doing this in the evening time instead of the early morning so maybe this will be become a new tradition.  I think that everyone else will just be chillin’ at my house today.  I think a couple of boyfriends (my daughters’) are planning to come over.  We have plenty of leftovers from last night to sustain us for a couple of days.

I won’t be working at Legacy today.  I plan on working on MY family a bit.  This will be the first time since Legacy 8 was released that I have been able to even think about genealogy. I am sure you can imagine how busy it has been.   I received a death certificate in the mail yesterday which got me motivated.  I am working at the hospital for a few hours this afternoon/evening but I have several hours yet to play.  The rest of the family will be at Mt. Tabor Baptist Church tonight for a Christmas service.   I got up early to clean up around here a bit so that I would have a little time for myself.   I can’t help but wonder what Christmas was like for my ancestors.  No doubt it was very different.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Year’s resolutions

I thought it was time to start thinking about 2014.  Here are some ideas for genealogical New Year’s resolutions.

1) I will cite my sources
Make sure that every time you add a piece of information to your file that you also add a source. If you get into this habit is will become second nature. You need to follow a style guide so that all of your sources are consistent.

2) I will digitize, transcribe, analyze and file each document as it comes in
Don't let stuff pile up. It is very frustrating when you have to spend days trying to catch up. Nothing is more daunting than a three inch stack of papers.

3) I will use research calendars
Take the time to write down every source you have checked, or plan to check, and the results of the search. It may seem like a lot of work but it will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run.

4) I will make time for continuing education
One of the best ways to break through a brick wall is to learn about records sets and research techniques that you didn't know about before.

5) I will stay up-to-date with what is going on in the world of genealogy
Simple things like being on mailing lists and Facebook pages so that you know when major repositories are releasing new digital record sets.

6) I will join a genealogical society
Membership dues are reasonable and they have so many things to offer.

7) I will publish my findings
Learn to write up quality case studies and then send them in to your local, state or national journals for consideration. What is the point of all your hard work if not to share that information with others. You can also publish your work on the internet as long as your information is in the correct format and completely sourced. You need to be an example to others.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, December 23, 2013

Social Fixer

This doesn’t have anything to do with genealogy per se but I want to give a shout out to Social Fixer.  In a way it does have something to do with genealogy because having Social Fixer means  I spend a lot less time on Facebook and I don’t accidentally miss things that are posted that are pertinent to my genealogy research or my genealogy business. Social Fixer is a free browser extension that allows you to filter your news feed, hide all of the annoying panels, and it will keep your news feed on most recent.  One of the features I like the most is being able to mark a post as read/mute or read/hide.  If you make it mute it is gone and if you make it as hide it will disappear until someone comments on it.  This means you won’t have to scroll past them again to find things that you haven’t read yet.  As a matter of fact, I never have to scroll at all.  I just mark the post either read/mute or read/hide and then the next one pops up. I can sit there and read everything on the newsfeed without every scrolling.  If I am not mistaken, I think it was Marian Pierre-Louis that first told me about Social Fixer.  I can’t thank her enough for that. 


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Congratulations to Angela Packer McGhie

Congratulations to Angela Packer McGhie who has been named the coordinator for the Intermediate Genealogy and Historical Studies course at Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR).  Angela is the administrator of the ProGen Study Groups.  So many genealogists have benefited from this program and owe Angela and her staff a big thank you, including me (ProGen 18).  IGHR has picked well.  I am very much looking forward to being at IGHR this coming June.  It will be the first time that I will be attending. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Saturday, December 21, 2013

There is always someone that knows more than you do

No matter how much experience you have and how many classes you have taken a genealogist just can’t know everything there is to know about everything.  I signed up for a new email list today in a specialty area of genealogical research and I posted an intro with a question.  I am already getting responses that are amazing. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book recommendation

Finding Family:  My Search for Roots and the Secrets in my DNA by Richard Hill.

When he was 18 years old, Richard Hill accidentally found out that he was adopted. He embarks on a many year adventure trying to find out who his birth parents were.  He is not a genealogist and this happened in 1964 so it is fascinating to watch the steps that he takes to uncover information.  He runs into some of the same types of roadblocks that we still run into today.  In 1990 he has a DNA test done (I won’t tell you anything about what he found) so he was actually ahead of his time. I couldn’t put the book down.

Richard now runs a wonderful website called DNA Testing Advisor.  This is an excellent resource for adoptees.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The new BCG manual

The Board for Certification of Genealogists is releasing a new edition of its Genealogy Standards Manual in February.  They are taking preorders now.  

Whether or not you have any aspirations of becoming certified this is an EXCELLENT resource for anyone wanting to take their research to the next level. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I am going to cheat today

I am back from Florida.  I wish I could have stayed longer but…

Today’s post is a simple link.   I wrote a Knowledge Base article for Legacy on how to change the Burial label to Cremated, complete with screenshots.  I am still trying to play catch up with doing laundry, cleaning the house, Christmas shopping etc. so I am taking the easy way out with today’s blog post.

Changing the burial label to cremated

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, December 5, 2013

And off I go!


Two of the kids and I are off to Florida on Sunday and won’t be back until December 16th.  I probably won’t post on the Blog again until the 18th.  For you would-be burglars out there, several people are remaining behind so my house will not even be close to empty.  I need some time to get the house in order and do some needed errands so I am signing off the blog a couple of days early.

We are going to Disney for four days and then scooting over to my mother’s house for a few more days.  I will also be spending time with my oldest daughter, her husband and my grandson who also live in Florida which makes me very happy.   I am NOT planning to be like the guy in the photo so if you email me don’t expect an answer anytime soon unless it is truly urgent. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rejection letter

I really hate when this happens.  I wrote to the Georgia Department of Public Health for a death certificate.  I had the exact date of death so I thought I was in good shape.  Wrong.  I just got the dreaded “Certificate of Death Not on File.”  ARGGGG! 

I have this lady’s obituary and sexton records so I have her date of death, her name at death and her place of death.  She died in 1948 which is well after 1919 when Georgia first required death certificates. 

Well, at least I have a pretty, certified letter. 


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


If you are not sure what a GEDCOM is or why you might use one, you can read about them HERE.  One thing that you need to know about GEDCOMs is that genealogy database programs have advanced faster than the GEDCOM protocol has so your file will probably not transfer 100% intact.  Also, different genealogy programs have different options when importing and exporting GEDCOMs which means some programs handle GEDCOM files better than others.   Here are a few tips to make your GEDCOM transfer less painful.  The tips are pretty generic because every software program is a little different.

Exporting a GEDCOM

  • Clean up your file.  Your data needs to be in a consistent, standardized format.  The GEDCOM protocol was written by the LDS church so it is a good idea to make sure your data matches their standards so that it can “see” your data better.
  • Purge any data that isn’t being used by anyone in your file (things like locations, events, addresses, names).
  • Do any “file maintenance” routines your software has and compact your file as much as possible. If you software allows you to reuse abandoned RINs and MRINs it will compact your file even further.
  • Pay attention to the export options and tailor it to WHY you are exporting to a GEDCOM.


Importing a GEDCOM

  • Import the GEDCOM into a new file.  Do not import it directly into your working file.
  • Pay attention to the import options.  The options you chose will greatly affect how the data comes over.
  • Once you have the GEDCOM imported and converted to your file format, do the same cleanup process that is described above in the Exporting section.
  • Once you have the file cleaned up, you can work on merging the information into your working file if that is what you want to do (that is another subject entirely).  How you do this depends greatly on what genealogy software program you are using.


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, December 2, 2013

Don’t forget your recent relatives

Blog reader Barbara Garza wrote in asking for some advice about how to extract/record information from a New York firefighters service record and from a New York policeman’s service record.  She sent the records for me to look at and they were just priceless!  The policeman’s record included a photo of him in his uniform.  Barbara then made a profound statement:

“The Gancis are a family of heroes, fireman and military, even my generation. I put them right in there with the nurses and paramedics as far as taking care of people. Since I knew him well and he died recently (9/11) I did not think about researching him this way but his sister works with me and mentioned getting this file for him, also. So stuck on the long deceased I forget about the recent ones. 

We get so caught up with trying to get as far back in time as we can that we forget to document the lives of our more recent ancestors.  I am talking about deceased people here, not living ones. Privacy issues and all that.


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The proof is in the signatures

Remember how I told you that my friend Christina in Germany and I are working to find out how our two lines are connected?  Her family is Gläntzer (umlaut) and my family is Glaentzer (no umlaut).  The theory is that the common ancestor for us is Carl Friedrich Glaentzer (my 3rd great-grandfather).  Christina noticed something interesting with the signatures of Carl’s son Josef Glaentzer (my 2nd great-grandfather).  These signatures are from the birth certificates of 4 of his children.

Look Michele,
This is interesting: 4 signatures from 4 different years by Josef Glaentzer. The spelling of his signature varies.








Digital images copyright © 2013 Christina Gläntzer, used with permission


You bet it is interesting!  This is the first example that we have seen of one man writing his name both with and without an umlaut.  I think we are getting closer to the connection.


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis