Germanic Genealogy Society of Minnesota Conference on March 25, 2017

The local Germanic Genealogy Society of Minnesota put on what I thought was one of their best conferences yesterday. It was held at Normandale Community College (Fine Arts bldg), and it was a full day with one speaker – Michael Lacopo.

At the last Minnesota Genealogical Society event, Lacopo gave a presentation about the history of diseases and social history. He is very big on understanding social history as a way to put ancestral actions in context. I think that it is an important point. At some point we should want to move past the simple facts like birth, marriage, death, and census data to understand what might have been going on in our ancestors’ daily lives.

His presentations yesterday are summarized below.

  • The German Immigrant Experience in the 18th Century – painted a picture of why people left the German States, how they traveled, and their experiences (mainly in PA).
  • How to Overcome Brick Wall Problems in Pennsylvania German Research – Dealing with the period in America when there was no census, he described various data sources and techniques for attacking research problems. He referenced the Family Search wiki entries for PA, church records, tax lists, court records,, business records, and assorted manuscript sources. He mentioned a source that I have not spent time with but feel I should investigate – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArchiveGrid .
  • De-constructing Your Family Tree: Re-evaluating the “Evidence” – This was a presentation focused on finding and correcting errors that you might have in your tree. In many ways it was a way of illustrating the genealogical proof standard explained in the Genealogical Standards Manual (https://books.google.com/books/about/The_BCG_Genealogical_Standards_Manual.html?id=5gVpVAjwNLMC) Briefly stated, the standard describes (1) conducting a reasonable exhaustive search, (2) including complete source documentation, (3) analysis and correlation of evidence and its quality, (4) resolution of conflicts, and (5) production of coherent written conclusions.
  • I’ve Had My DNA Tested! Now What? – This was a 90 minute presentation, much like the second half of my community ed genealogy class. This is a topic that deserves a lot more time, but he did a good job of presenting basic information as well as rules of thumb for using the match data.

If you want to see examples of Lacopo’s writing and analysis, try his blog.  I am told that it should be read from oldest entry to newest.  Here’s the url: https://roots4u.blogspot.com/

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All Linux, all the time.

After years of wanting to, I have finally converted all of my home computing environments to Linux (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS). This includes one fairly new desktop machine, one old desktop, and one “middle-aged” laptop. It actually was not that hard to do. Networks work, printers and scanners work, and I have found open source software to do everything that I need to do (other than taxes, which are handled via the web).

So, I am not a spokesperson for Canonical, but I do find it liberating to be shed of Windows. It is also clear that the hardware is more efficiently used and performs much better.

I use the machines for . . . basic office documents, financial tracking and planning, email, genealogy, printing/scanning, music, photos, exploring other Linux distributions using virtualization, etc. Nothing complicated. This encourages me that this type of home computing solution could work for others. In many cases it would likely simplify their lives.

For others wanting to try this as well, there are a number of references that might help. – the main Ubuntu website, the international communities that have formed around Ubuntu and other Linux distributions, webcasts such as you can find at Jupiter Broadcasting and twit.tv, companies like System76 that provide hardware (and contribute software), etc.

I really do believe that Linux has matured to the point of being viable for home computing use. Thanks to all those people that have worked and do work in an open source community to make this all possible.

Regards.