March 1, 2021
At this very moment, our new website is migrating to its permanent home at our hosting company. Temporarily, a version of the old website is up. The hosting company has had issues with crossover domain names; we are working on the recovery. One manifestation of the problem is that people who didn’t already know the URL of the new site weren’t being forwarded to it. Yes, it’s a pain.
Our emails are a way of delivering priority information to you.
We were so sorry to hear of the November passing of long-time member Putnam Monroe, who passed away barely before his 99th birthday in January. We last engaged with him at a Zoom meeting in the fall. He was a gentleman and a scholar and will be missed.
Here’s a reminder that the Clayton Library is closed to visitors, but staff are there to help, and you can research much of the collection at the link and request help from experienced staff.
The whole hike in fees from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service — up to a 308 percent depending on what you ordered — was stopped first by a federal court in September. The new administration has dropped an appeal — the challenge to the court’s order, — and has issued an Executive Order complying with the court’s injunction. The focus is on immigration, not genealogy, so there’s not yet a permanent rule for fees for genealogy records.
The NGS 2021 conference is going to be — surprise — virtual. Their weeklong conference is May 17 – 21. Learning opportunities for individual genealogists are Wednesday and Thursday of the week. Other days are focused on society programs. You can register here. There’s an early bird discount until March 15.
The 2022 NGS conference will be in Sacramento May 25 -28, 2022.
FamilyTreeWebinars has published its top 10 monthly webinars, including three by Jonny Perl, founder of DNA Painter and our October speaker. Their TechZone publishes short tech videos every Friday (members only).
July 27, 2020
A loss of good friends
Friendship is a great luxury, especially in these days of isolation. We’re sad to tell you that three prominent AGS friends — Jean Shroyer, Lorrie Henderson, and Joyce Arquette — have passed away recently.
We considered Jean Shroyer one of our Master Genealogists. A long-time AGS leader and frequent board member, she was one of the creators of the Travis County Cemetery Project and a dedicated contributor to the history of Travis County through AGS and the Andrew Carruthers chapter of the DAR. She was 75 and had been ailing for some time. Jean passed on July 24. She is survived by all of us who appreciated her talents and her close family. Jean and her family lived in Art, TX. Private services will be held in Mason, TX.
Lorrie Foster Henderson died at the age of 95 on July 9. She was then living at the William R. Courtney Texas Veterans Home in Temple. Lorrie was a long-time member who is being remembered for her sense of humor and connections with AGS friends. She joined the Navy WAVES during the last year of World War II, and met her husband during her service (he predeceased her). She was a long-time member of AGS and often a board member. She was a lifetime member of the UT Exes (she earned two degrees at UT), recognized in Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and was granted a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Social Workers
Joyce McKnight Arquette passed away in January at the age of 82. Joyce was an early English teacher, worked in her family’s business as a florist and as a case worker supervisor for Texas Adult Protective Services. She was a dedicated genealogist and a published novelist, a long-time committed AGS member. Joyce lived in Lake Travis and leaves an enormous group of family and friends who loved her.
For various reasons, these three woman have not been recently at AGS meetings, so many of our current members did not know them. Their contributions and personalities were enormous. We honor them and miss them.
The Board of Directors
New Zoom meeting and . . . let’s wait.
Join Karen Liston with Zoom at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 26 (our regular meeting time), as she shows us how how to use Thrulines and the group tool function in Ancestry, which will help you organize your matches by MRCA (most recent common ancestor) so that you can locate and sort them later. Karen reports that Thrulines relate to DNA matches the same way those little green leaves relate to building family trees in Ancestry. Thrulines can help you break through brick walls!
Karen has been interested in genealogy since she was 10 years old doing a family tree and inherited traits assignment for school. She eagerly listened to old family stories (unfortunately, she didn’t record them!). Then, nearly 30 years ago, the genealogy bug bit her hard when she was leading an educational tour to Scotland, the land of some of her ancestors, and visited the National Register Office in Edinburgh. And the rest, as they say, is history. Nowadays, her husband frequently asks her (as he is headed off to bed) which genealogy rabbit hole she is going down that night . . .
Texas is one of the states leading in re-opening, with many more facilities opening under the latest directives. That’s either good news, or bad news, and we have no idea which one it will turn out to be. The numbers and experts are very difficult to pin down.
Virtually all of our members are in at least one high risk group, if not in multiple groups. The danger is very real for us. So we’re going to wait and see what the outcome is, based on hard evidence.
At the moment, we are not planning any physical meetings until September. We’ll be constantly evaluating that decision, and it could mean meetings sooner, or later. Progress and evidence are the determinants. It would be unbearably awful if any of our members contracted COVID-19 as a result of attending an AGS function.
More virtual meetings in the meantime.
And more . . .
Some of us with Irish ancestors have been discovering Ireland XO, Ireland Reaching Out, which helps tie those ancestors to their places of origin, particularly important in Irish research. One of their links is the top five free Irish genealogy resources.
If you have taken an Ancestry DNA test, Ancestry is running a study to gain a deeper understanding of genomic components of COVID-19. You can participate here. Extensive FAQ, including a section on privacy.
If you haven’t done so, update your Zoom software to 5.0.
AGS member David Bowles is offering one of his favorite (authored) books, Adam’s Daughters, in paperback for $10 at this link, by Venmo or check. It’s the story of Peggy Mitchell and family growing up in Tennessee during the first two decades of the Republic.
The Motion Picture Preservation Lab at the National Archives is offering eight of their favorite short films (one features Rod Serling).
Stay healthy and do genealogy!
May 7, 2020
Things will be quiet in May. Given the vulnerability of our members, we won’t be meeting in May and are waiting for safer circumstances before another physical get-together. It only makes sense.
So, what shall we do? We had 43 people turn out for the Zoom introduction online, and we’re willing to run that again. Thanks to Adeliza Tiffany for the excellent presentation. Do the rest of you understand how to use Zoom, or would you like another go-round? As always, feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org, or directly to any one on the board.
AGS was founded by genealogists who wanted to learn from each other. We think that situation still stands, even though much of what we initially shared is now available in video and databases. It’s what all of us have learned in our own explorations that hasn’t been shared.
We’re inviting YOU to make a Zoom presentation to your fellow members on an area where you have deep knowledge. That doesn’t mean you have to be or consider yourself to be an expert, just have [relatively] deep working knowledge in a field that not everyone has much awareness of. For example, one of our board members has a deep understanding of Acadian and New French genealogy. Another really knows Missouri sources.
Not family reports — that’s for the Quarterly — but working genealogy knowledge, or historical context.
Many of us have talked about having presentations on the historical contexts of our ancestors. How did your ancestors actually live? What were their values? What gave them pleasure? What made them angry? How did they deal with those big families (can you imagine that in lockdown)?
Things you could talk about:
- History of a particular region.
- How ancestors coped.
- What life was like.
- What a visit to the homeland turned up.
- The impact of religious life.
- Links that are in-depth and not well-known.
- And more. If you have an idea, ask us.
But it shouldn’t be a big deal, just a chat with your friends. We’re thinking about 20 minutes of talking, with time at the end for questions. A few slides — mo more than 10 — would be a great help, so that you’re not just a ‘talking head.’ We can consult with you on slides — we’ll provide a format — and show you how to pop them up on the screen. Count on us for help, hand-holding and curiosity.
Just email us at the communications link and we’ll help you be a star. Or just a friendly neighbor.
No meetings are currently scheduled but we’ll start them as we get speakers. DNA North SIG intends to meet virtually on its regular first Wednesday date as Capital City DNA, and you can find their virtual connections on their Facebook page.
The latest genealogy to hit is the TV schedule is a new ABC primetime series, the Genetic Detective, which starts airing at 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 19. It stars genetic genealogist CeCe Moore, who’s work has helped solve more than 100 cold criminal cases, including murder cases. Should be fun and educational . . .and maybe a new career path for genealogists.
And Legacy Family Tree Webinars has extended its April lockdown schedule of one free webinar a day through May.
Stay healthy. Keep learning.
April 21, 2020
Our regular April meeting will be our first Zoom meeting
In normal times, the evening of Tuesday, April 28 is when we would be gathering at the Highland Park Baptist Church to hear a speaker present on some aspect of genealogy. The experts we’ve heard present and the variety of interesting topics are a great value to our community. Getting together with others similarly interested in discovering family history is a large part of what makes those meetings special.
While we are waiting for the time when we can gather safely once more, your AGS board has been working to adjust to a new normal. For April, we will be using the regular meeting time to hold a virtual, online meeting to acquaint everyone with the new Zoom platform, and some resources our board uses. Whether or not you are already Zoom-savvy — and a lot of us aren’t — we’d love for you to join us to learn the features and how we can continue to use it.
All you need to do is click on the link below and Zoom will take you to the meeting through a series of steps. Allow yourself 10 minutes before the meeting starts to get connected. Be sure to have your audio and video ON.
When: Tuesday, April 28 at 7:00 pm
Where: Zoom – see link below. You can join the meeting with your computer, iPad, or smart phone. It works best if your video and audio are on. If you don’t know what that means, no problem – we’ll be there to help!
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 810 5418 0760 Password: 045497
One tap mobile +13462487799,,81054180760#,,#,045497# US (Houston)
Hope to “see” you next Tuesday!
Diane Harvey Anderson
Austin Genealogical Society
April 19, 2020
You are making history. And an 18- hour half-price deal.
First, the savings. Patricia Murphree and Roberta Jenkins report that Legacy Family Tree Webinars (live and video) are on sale through Sunday (tomorrow) for $24.98, which is half-off for round-the-clock access to 1,200 classes, with handouts.
You will have to enter the code “50off” to get the discount. It cannot be used to extend current subscriptions (meaning that if you’re already a subscriber, it won’t apply).
Remember that there is a free Legacy Family Tree webinar each day of April.
We’re going to publish your stories.
We would be remiss if we missed this opportunity to create history. Our Quarterly exists to create a permanent record of the genealogical research of our members. Editor Angela Doetsch will be collecting YOUR STORIES of the pandemic for an issue that records them permanently and makes them available to your descendants.
We’re making history every day that we go through the Coronvirus restrictions. Each of us has a different story . . . money, work, food, family, friends, weather, mood . . . and a hundred different factors.
You may not be ready to write them yet, but when you are, forward them to Angela at email@example.com. Use the subject line “pandemic.”
You know that the Austin History Center is collecting pandemic stories. The Smithsonian has deployed a Rapid Response Collecting Task Force to chronicle our history during this period. The Library of Congress got its first collection of Covid-19 photos last week. StoryCorps, a story-sharing non-profit, has moved its platform online.
Everyone is going to remember this period. Your recollections will be invaluable, and your descendants will be very grateful
April 15, 2020
Lots of things, including Zoom. Cheapest DNA.
There are at least 23 different ways to use and get connected with Zoom. But you really only need ONE link.
Most of us are in the coronavirus high risk group because of our age, if not for other health reasons. We’re simply going to have to connect in some way other than in person for the next few — if not several — months, or worse case, longer.
Welcome to the 21st century. People are calling what comes next “AC” for “after Coronavirus/Covid-19.” Life is going to be different, even if we don’t know how, yet.
We can’t wait for the all clear, whenever that comes, to resume our meetings, our learning, our contact with each other, a respite from our isolation. Most of us do so much online work already that video conferencing is just one more little step.
Zoom is easy. We can all learn to use it and connect. Yes, even you. Really. Like any other piece of software, there’s a learning curve (anyone remember learning to use Ancestry or Family Search?), but it’s very short-lived. Easier than genealogy.
You start with ONE simple action. You will get an invitation to a meeting from a host. Open the invitation. It will tell you to click on the highlighted URL to join the meeting (either immediately or at the right time).
What? You don’t have the Zoom app? Once you click on the URL hyperlink, Zoom will open itself and download the right app for your system (Microsoft, Mac, Android, iOS). Then it will connect you to the meeting.
How’s that for easy? There are a couple more simple things you should know for controlling your participation. A really easy way to learn them is with “Joining a Zoom call for the first time,” from the Creative Life Center, on YouTube. Then you’ll be set.
But wait, there’s more. If you want to use Zoom to interact with others — be a host — it’s also simple, and you can learn it easily (that’s 12 minutes easily) with “How to host a Zoom call for the first time,” also on YouTube.
Did I mention that it’s free? You either join, or host. You never have to host if you don’t want to. You never have to be visible in a meeting. You never have to speak up. You can just listen and watch, and hopefully learn.
Look for an invitation to your first meeting shortly!!!!! It will be about using Zoom.
Saturday Night Live takes on Zoom calls
Click here. Our calls won’t be like that. Funny.
My Heritage is currently offering DNA kits at $39. Because someone recently said that all DNA was processed in China (not — that’s really fake news), we learned that their U.S. kits are actually processed by FamilyTreeDNA. Obviously, go to MyHeritage to purchase.
We are 60!
The Austin Genealogical Society was formed in the spring of 1960. No computers. No internet. No Ancestry or Family Search. No DNA. No home printers. I hope that gives you an idea of how genealogy has changed in our 60 years.
Genealogy and its methods were very stable up to just about the time AGS started. No more.
We hope we will be able to get together to celebrate but our celebration might have to be virtual. Hard to do cake that way.
Lifetime member David Gracy was the speaker at our 50th anniversary. David is the Governor Bill Daniel Professor Emeritus in Archival Enterprise, School of Information, University of Texas (he started the school). His CV will embarrass most of us. Researching his ancestor George Littlefield has been a lifelong interest, continuing research his mother (an AGS founder) started.
The University of Oklahoma Press has just published “A Man Absolutely Sure of Himself, Texan George Washington Littlefield,” the culmination of David’s extensive years of family history research. Littlefield was a rancher, entrepreneur, banker, UT regent, Texas ranger, and his story personifies the Wild West of early Texas history. You can get it here. You can probably get David to sign it when we have a meeting. Or a party.
Our domain name is changing in the near future
You don’t have to do anything. If you accidentally type in the old URL, it will automatically forward to the new one.
Our toughest problem with the website, other than finding a good developer, has been the changeover of major databases like the cemeteries — all 275 of them — and the Quarterlies with 240 issues. We’re getting close. There will be an updated Resources list, a new DNA Resources page. A lot of things no one looked at (really, never looked at) will be gone.
We hope you’ll be proud of it. Coming soon when the wobbles get finally worked out.
Austin life in the pandemic
Remember when Rob suggested you keep a diary of your life in the 2020 pandemic? Austin History Center would love your notes for their COVID-19 Files documenting life in Austin during the crisis.
If you want to participate, upload your related materials to library.austintexas.gov/covid-19 files.
April 11, 2020
If the kids can do it, so can we.
Most students at physical schools, including universities, have either had classes called off for the rest of the semester (or more) or are using e-learning systems to proceed. On-site connections for support and guidance are still available by video-conference.
The bottom line is that our educational institutions don’t believe classrooms will be safe until at least late summer.
But what do they know?
For every data point we have today on COVID-19, there will be a new one tomorrow. Information on this doesn’t appear to want to stand still. The result is we can’t predict when social isolating will end, or if the ending will be functional.
Our very first priority is still to protect all of our members and friends.
To do that, sadly, we’ve come to the conclusion that we have to cancel our annual seminar, though we hope to reschedule it later in the year. Diahan Southard, our genetic genealogist speaker, is also hopeful that we can reschedule.
We’ve also decided that the earliest possible meeting might be in June.
That leaves us with a lot of open space on our calendar, and on your calendar.
We’re beginning to test Zoom and its abilities for online gatherings, videos, and even webinars. The kids can do it. So can we . . . only maybe a little slower. With a bit more trial and error.
We’ll let you know as soon as we get the bugs worked out. We will shortly be sending out directions on how to use Zoom. It’s a video-conferencing system and it’s actually quite, quite easy, if you’re the person on the receiving end (which is what you will be). Those of us setting it up will have to learn a bit more. It’s certainly something most genealogists (and most of the population) never expected to have to learn.
Life is unpredictable. Our ancestors certainly knew it. Now it’s our turn.
April 3, 2020
This is your chance to impress your great-grandchildren
We need to recognize — with the Covid pandemic swirling around us — that we are all participating in a monumental moment in American and global history. We all prize copies of relatives’ letters written during the Civil War, Great Depression and WWII, and even before.
Won’t those who come after you after relish your observations of this period? Our job as genealogists is not only to capture the past but to document what we experience — right now — for future generations.
It’s important to document what’s happening to you and around you right now. I’ve been recording short videos and photos of life at home and in the neighborhood. And in addition to digital records, I strongly recommend that you keep a daily or weekly journal of your thoughts and experiences during this time. This record could be very significant to succeeding generations. We owe it to them. And we certainly have time. We all may come out of this as better writers.
AGS vice president
Legacy Family Tree is going to offer for free one webinar each day in April. They will be listed here. https://news.legacyfamilytree.com
April 3, 2020
Greetings AGS Members,
The SPRING 2020 edition of the AGS Quarterly is now available!
First off, I would like to say how honored and humbled I have been to be your editor for the past four years, but it is with much thought that I must announce this will be my 5th and final year as your Quarterly Editor. I have loved being a part of this wonderful publication and I look forward to reading about your families for many more years to come.
Submissions are now open for the Summer edition. I am sure many of you (like myself) have a bit more time on your hands to research and really dig deep into your ancestry as you are practicing social distancing. It is a perfect time to share your family history with the community!
If you are a current AGS member, the Quarterly can be found on our website by copying and pasting or clicking on this link: https://www.austingenealogicalsociety.org/data/AGS-Quarterly-Spring-2020.pdf
Past editions are also available on the members-only website page.
As always, I would like to thank everyone who submitted articles for this quarterly. You are playing an important role in preserving history for generations to come.
March 29, 2020
We are fortunate that we have something interesting to do to fill all the hours that we’re distancing and isolating.
Since we don’t know when the shut-downs will end, we’re still holding a space for our April meeting, with fingers crossed. The board is learning how to use virtual spaces; when we’re adept, we’ll be looking for ways for us all to get together virtually. Of course, we’ll provide directions. Like any new program, it takes a little patience and learning. More on that as opportunities get closer.
Kudos to Randy Whited for the first virtual meeting. . .the DNA North SIG. The Apr. 1 (this Wednesday) meeting of the Capital Area DNA Special Interest Group will be held via Go To Meeting, courtesy of the Texas State Genealogical Society. The format will be a Q&A and any tools and vendor news discussions. Please send your questions or topic ideas to the SIG facilitator, Randy Whited (firstname.lastname@example.org), and he’ll address as many as possible. The sessions will be live only and will not be recorded. As there is a limit to the number of attendees, please do not share this login information. Here’s the particulars from Randy:
Capital Area DNA SIG
Wed, Apr 1, 2020 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (CDT
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
This meeting is locked with a password : DNA@Home
You can also dial in using your phone. United States: +1 (669) 224-3412
Access Code: 174-746-229
Or join from a video-conferencing room or system.
Dial in or type: 188.8.131.52 or inroomlink.goto.com
Meeting ID: 174 746 229
Or dial directly: email@example.com or 184.108.40.206##174746229
New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your meeting starts:
DNA South is on hiatus in April.
Saturday Drop-in is on hiatus in April.
As mentioned before, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for our scheduled Apr. 28 meeting.
In the meantime:
MyHeritage is offering free access to the entire collection of U.S. census data from now until next Sunday, April 5, on their website.
MyHeritage is also offering free and unlimited access to MyHeritage in Color from now until April 23. If you’re so inclined, you can colorize your entire collection of black and white (or sepia) photos. No limits on the number of photos.
If you know someone interested in our Lifetime Learning genealogy classes, they’ve been cancelled for this semester and will restart in the fall.
Family Search, the sponsors of RootsTech, has an enormous selection of genealogy videos available for free viewing, including most from this year’s Salt Lake City session. Find them here. Viewing of some of the older videos requires a charge.
Check out the Digital Public Library of America here. DPLA was launched seven years ago and is an all-digital library that brings together material from U.S. libraries, archives and museums. Funders include the Knight Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Pivotal Ventures and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
If you’re a collector of Austin artifacts, there is a 1946 Dental Examiners Diploma available on EBay.
Please stay safe!!!
for the Board
March 12, 2020
We are cancelling our meeting on March 24.
Big organizations are eliminating risks. So should we.
The Final Four will play, but not to an in-arena audience. The NBA has cancelled games for the foreseeable future. SXSW has been cancelled. In other words, we are taking this virus really seriously.
International good guy Tom Hanks and his wife were in Australia and got tested for what they thought were colds, and turned out to be the coronavirus. They are isolating for two weeks.
Is this more serious than other flus? Maybe. Maybe not. Two things are different, though. One is that it is spreading extremely rapidly and the sheer number with the disease is growing, exponentially multiplying the spread. Two is that there simply aren’t enough medical resources to deal effectively with all the people getting sick and needing medical care. There are no vaccines. In the US, at least, testing is erratic.
That makes the coronavirus different. It makes it an emergency.
Our March meeting was designed to be interactive, which is exactly the thing we don’t want right now. We’re keeping an eye on April and, of course, will let you know.
More soon on learning opportunities while we’re not meeting.
This is an anxious time. If we’re doing — or not doing — something that makes you anxious, we want to know about it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wash your hands. Don’t circulate.
March 10, 2020
DNA South is also cancelled, as is the Williamson County Seminar
DNA South was scheduled for tomorrow night (Wednesday) at LaQuerencia, a retirement home. The likelihood is that it will not meet in April.
Williamson County Genealogical Society has cancelled its annual seminar, scheduled for Saturday, March 21.
We’re sorry to miss both.
Patricia Murphree, our DNA South facilitator, has just come back from RootsTech (the world’s largest genealogical conference, if you didn’t know) and highly recommends the presentations. Many have been posted here. She’s particularly appreciative of the first one listed, Angie Bush’s Adding Branches to your Family Tree Using DNA.
Count on us for more links as life gets more isolated out there. If you know of outstanding videos, send the links and a short summary to email@example.com to share.
If you’ve been getting duplicate emails, that will end with today’s email. We’ve been updating our lists and eliminating duplicates is the last step (sorry!).
In the not-to-distant future, our domain name will change to austingenealogicalsociety instead of austintxgensoc. . . we’ll let you know when. Any click on the old link will automatically go forward to the new link. Not yet.
Take care of yourself. And, oh, yes. Pay your dues, please. We need your support.
March 9, 2020
We’re all anxious about the Coronavirus
That kind of uncertainty is never fun to live with. As of today (Monday), there are no known cases of the virus in or around Austin, but it’s inevitable it will come to central Texas.
We want to be really careful with everyone’s health and we’re especially concerned that the virus seems most adverse to folks over 60, which most of us are.
Yesterday, the AGS board unanimously decided to be extra careful about any contagion that affects our members. We’ll drop meetings if need be. That doesn’t mean – yet — that we are cancelling any monthly meetings, but it could happen. We will let you know immediately if a meeting is cancelled.
We are cancelling the Drop-In on Saturday, March 21, because the date is so close and because it meets in a library, a wide-open public venue.
We’ll be meeting again this week to look at ways to continue to bring you learning opportunities if we can’t physically meet.
In the meantime, keep protecting yourself:
- Get a flu shot if you haven’t already.
- When local cases appear, self-isolation may be a good strategy if you have other health issues, particularly of a respiratory nature (it is a flu-like respiratory virus).
- Being around groups of children – or people who are around groups of children – increases the possibility of contagion.
- The contamination area is within six feet.
- Stock up on household essentials, including 30 days of prescription medicines.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap, or use hand sanitizer if you can’t get to water. Homemade sanitizer doesn’t score high but is better than nothing.
- Avoid touching your face. The bug enters through mouth, nose and eyes.
- Face masks are poor preventative because they are too porous, but they can help keep you from passing viruses to others.
For the Board
Jan 1, 2020
Greetings AGS Members,
The Winter 2019 edition of the AGS Quarterly is now available! Thank you to all of you who submitted articles for the Quarterlies over the past year. Not only are they a pleasure to read for those of us in the Society today, they are also preserved in several libraries and genealogical libraries for generations in the future.
If you are a current AGS member, the Quarterly can be found on our website by copying and pasting or clicking on this link: https://www.austingenealogicalsociety.org/data/AGS-Quarterly-Winter-2019.pdf
Past editions are also available on the members-only website page.
Submissions are now open for the 2020 Spring quarterly. Send your articles or questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.