Find My Ancestor Blog

Finding Two Cousins in One Day

Today I found two cousins in two different ways - and I didn't even do much to find them! I know, that does not happy very often, but when it does it is really exciting. Earlier today I was going through some of my email from a couple weeks ago. Isn't that horrible! I feel really bad for some of those people who I just responded today. I have been so busy with everything else life throws at you and today I finally had some time to sit down and try to catch up. One of the emails I went through today was a request from Find A Grave from someone that wanted me to link an individual with her parents. Come to find out, we are distant cousins! Then, this evening as I was out to dinner with my parents my Dad started talking about this guy at his work. Somehow they got on the topic of them being related. This might sound a little confusing, but here we go - this guy's aunt's grandfather is my great grandfather's brother... Did that make sense? I'm sure it did if you are a true genealogist. :) My Dad couldn't remember how exactly we were related or the people's names it involved, so I pulled out my iPhone and opened the Ancestry App and started looking though my database on We think we figured out how exactly he is related to us, but my Dad is going to have to check tomorrow. How cool is that? While we were at dinner I was able to pull out my cell phone and look up my entire family tree. Isn't it amazing what we are able to do with these mobile devices now? For those of you who haven't followed this blog for very long, I do a Mobile Monday Blog Series where I talk about various apps and techniques you can use on your mobile devices such as an iPhone, iPad, Android devices and more. Be sure to check it out!


Scan Your Genealogy Documents Anywhere

Some of you may have heard lately about the new mobile scanner produced by Flip-Pal. This last weekend Flip-Pal was at the Sandy Family History Expo showing off their cool new product. Though the scanners are not yet available, I was able to sit down and play with one at the expo.
Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

I am so impressed with these little scanners! I must admit, when I first saw and heard about them I was a little skeptical. I thought to myself there is now way a little scanner like that could produce such a great quality image. I have changed my mind!

This scanner is very light-weight and the perfect size for taking it around wherever you go.
You can see how small and mobile the scanner is.
Below are Flip-Pal specifications:

Maximum scan area
4 x 6 in. single scan.
Virtually unlimited stitched scans.
Scan Resolutions
300 x 300 dpi
600 x 600 dpi
Dimensions10.25 x 6.5 x 1.25 in.
Weight1 lb. 4.5 oz. (580 gm) without batteries
Scan speed
300 dpi: 6 sec.
600 dpi: 11 sec.
1.7 in. color LCD. 
Displays a thumbnail of the scan in progress and thumbnails of scanned images stored on the SD card.
Two brightness levels.
Number of scans150 scans are expected from one charge of alkaline batteries. 500 scans are expected from one charge of photo lithium batteries.
Supported SD cards
Standard SD cards (up to 2GB) and SDHC cards (4GB and higher) are supported.
DCF (Digital Camera File System) compatible.
Compatible with wireless Eye-Fi™ SD cards.
File sizeA 300 dpi scan results in approximately a 1.5MB JPEG file. A 600 dpi scan results in approximately a 3.0MB JPEG file.
Included softwareFlip-Pal™ Toolbox for Windows with stitching and color restoration
Added features
Removable lid
Transparent bottom
Stitching overlap guide marks
Business card pocket
Non-slip rubber feet
AccessoriesThe Flip-Pal™ mobile scanner comes with one 2GB SD card, software included on the SD card (no CD required), four AA alkaline batteries and a USB to SD card adaptor. Additional packs of window protector sheets can be purchased from Additional SD cards and batteries can be purchased separately.
Power4 AA alkaline batteries (included). Compatible with: Alkaline, Photo Lithium and Recharageable.
Maximum color depth30-bit (3 channels of 10-bit)
Interface connectionThe SD card may be transferred to any compatible SD card device. An SD to USB adapter is provided for devices without an SD card socket.
Environmental Compliance
Operating temperature range: 5°C to 40°C (41°F to 104°F)
Operating humidity range: 15% to 85% RH
RegulationscUL, FCC Part 15-Class B, ICEF-003

Above are some pictures showing different buttons and components of the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner:
The Flip-Pal comes with a 2GB Secure Digital (SD) card for saving your scans to. On the card also comes the software for color correction and photo stitching. Since the software comes on the card all you have to do is insert the card into your computer and the software automatically loads and asks you whether you want to stitch a photo together or make a color correction. If you ever lose your SD card, you can download the software from their website and put it onto another SD card.

Some of you may be saying to yourselves right now "I don't have an SD slot in my computer or a reader that I can use with my computer". For those of you who do not have an external reader or a built in reader in your computer, Flip-Pal also includes a USB reader that you simply put your SD card into and then insert the USB reader in to your computer. 

The Flip-Pal has a little display screen for changing the scan resolution, either 300 dpi or 600 dpi. You can also change other settings here on the screen. Of course, the screen will show you a preview of the image you just scanned. This makes it so you can decide whether you want to keep that scan or do another one.

One of the coolest features that I find is that you can take off the lid or the top of the scanning bed so you can then turn the scanner upside down and scan a book! There have been a couple of times where this would have been really handy for me! I have gone through a couple of old scrapbooks my grandma and mom have made, and with each of them I have had to carefully take apart the scrapbook in order for it to fit onto my flat-bed scanner at home. With the Flip-Pal you don't have to do that anymore! 

For photos and documents that are larger than the scanning screen all you have to do is "stitch" them together. Now in the past, it required quite a bit of time, talent, and proper software in order to do this. With the Flip-Pal its as easy as scanning the images and telling the software which images you want to stitch together. Flip-Pal does the rest! I have to admit, this photo stitching software is the best I have seen with how simple it is. I don't have an actual example of an image that was stitched together, but trust me, it was good! You couldn't even tell that it was scanned in multiple sections and then put together into one!

Now, this software I have been talking about is only for Windows Operating Systems. However, the makers of Flip-Pal told me that they are working on a Mac OS version of the software and that it will be available for download from their website once it is released. So, for those Mac users out there (like me) we won't be able to use the software that comes on the SD card, but you can still use the images that were scanned. All you have to do is access the SD card drive from your hard drive when you plug it in.

All the images saved from the scanner are in JPG format which work on both the Windows and Mac operating systems.

Also another really cool feature I find with the Flip-Pal is that you aren't limited to 2D scans anymore! With the Flip-Pal you can scan 3D objects such as coins, military medals, and even water bottles! Now you may be asking yourself why you would ever want to scan a water bottle?? Well, you might have an old soda pop bottle or an old tin can of an ancestors that you would like to get an image of what is on it. You can always take a picture, but the photo would be distorted according to the contour of the bottle. With the Flip-Pal you can get a flat image from a circular object! Below is a video that they demonstrated for me there how this is done and an example of the result.

You can also view the video on my YouTube Channel.


What Kind of Documents Do You Search For?

There are so many documents and records that are available to genealogists to help us find our ancestors, but sometimes it is hard to know which documents to look for and which ones give us the most information.

Some of the most common records we search for are birth, marriage, death, census, and military records. As we do more research and learn new techniques we learn there are records and documents out there that we never would have thought of using to help us break down those brick walls.

We all have those specific records we search for because we know they can be a goldmine of information. Some of us treasure one record type over another because of the time it was created, where it was created, or because of who it is about. Many of us have a "checklist" of items we search for for each person we do research on. The question is, what records or documents do YOU use to find the most information about your ancestors? Why do you use those documents? Where can they be found? Are they available online, microfilm, or only in person at an archive? Do these documents cost money to access or are they available for free to everyone?

Please take a minute or two and give your input on what kind of records and documents are the most beneficial to your research. Use the form "Genealogy Checklist" to give your input.


Dominant Surnames in my Tree

I recently got introduced to this website where you can make your own collages of words. It is pretty cool. I decided to test it out by making a collage of surnames that are dominant in my family tree.
If you want to create your one word collage, go check out Wordle
Thanks Thomas for posting about this great site!