Mapping & Timelines for Genealogy

24 Jun

It’s not the first time I have envisionned mapping my genealogy data in order to get a clearer picture of my ancestors’ lives. Like many of my fellow geek genealogists, my first try was by using Google maps (you can read all about it here). It was interesting work and it enabled me to verify my data thoroughly before using it for any project. I was disappointed though that I couldn’t add layers to my map: like for example a specific address over the years (my ancestors moved a lot for employment purposes).

A recent blog post enabled to try again mapping data with Google Maps, I did so using multiple .CSV files: one for biographical info, the other with residence, employment location, etc. It’s tedious work if you do not have your genealogy data saved in that format, it means you have to rewrite it yourself (I’m unsure about this, it’s possible that some genealogy software can export your data in CSV files. If you do, please share the info!). Here’s what it looks like:

But I was still not satisfied with what it “looked like” so I tried out two other mapping/timeline tools: Heganoo and Storymap

Heganoo

Heganoo is a visual app that displays custom maps on mobiles, tablets and pcs. I tried them out using my genealogy data about Paul Genereux. I found it slightly difficult to use at first (remember to hit the “save” button often to see your changes!) but finally simpler by creating a “slide” for each event of my ancestor. The cool part is that you can link your Dropbox account to import images to each slide. You can add more than one image per slide. Although I would have wished a “credit” or “source” field for each image imported I’m well satisfied with the result.

You can also customise the zoom level of each slide: for example if your ancestor was born in Canada (but you don’t know where precisely), your first slide will zoom out to show the entirety of Canada. Then let’s say you found in in the 1901 Canada Census living on Champlain street in Montreal, you can show the map at street-level. There are many other features (free and paid) that allows you to adjust colours, background images and so on.

Have a look at my Heganoo map here

Storymaps

StoryMapJS is a free tool to help you tell stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events. The interesting part is that it offers you to create a “standard” map or a “Gigapixel” map with large artwork images and photographs. It’s very simple to create a map, you choose a location, customise and then on with the next slide. I loved the “credit” field for imported images so I could cite the source, unfortunately I could only add one image per event/slide. There are less custom options than in Heganoo but if you get your hands on the code, I promise that you can pretty much create the map you want.

Have a look at my StoryMap here

The only thing that bugged me is not being able to set the zoom level of my events on the map, my guess is that he can only be customised if you import JSON data from a webfile. (I know it sounds pretty technical but here’s an overwiew of JSON).

So, what do you think? Are there any other mapping tools you use? 

Digital Curation and Genealogy

31 Oct

It’s been almost a month since my last post and I still haven’t found the time to continue my writing as I’m working full-mode in digital consultancy. I have plenty of stories left to tell but until I find the time to write them (probably around Christmas holidays) I invite you to view and share the news/stories I follow every week about genealogy & family history.

Some of you might wonder what digital curation is? It means I select, collect and archive relevant websites, databases and web portals about genealogy. I know the big ones out there (Ancestry, MyHeritage, etc) are fee-based so I am much more interested in free, volunteer projects that are available to anyone who has internet access. I mainly use the “magazine” model to present my updates about family history: some are selected automatically but mostly I hand-pick my articles:

My Scoop.it topic: Researching Genealogy Online

My Paper.li magazine: Digging up our Roots Online

I tweet and retweet a lot about genealogy, culture, libraries and archives: I am also aware that not everybody likes the Twitter interface for reading so instead view my Rebelmouse page. It’s a much more fun and visual way of reading great articles and resources I find.

Interested in bookmarks instead? I use two separate sets of tools:

My Pearltrees : Team Genealogy

My Diigo group: Canadian Genealogy Online

The point of digital curation is also to share and annotate content so I welcome you to try (or retry) one of these tools and comment, correct or add anything that you might find interesting!

Paul Emery Genereux charged with manslaughter in 1923

16 Sep

There seems to be an endless supply of skeletons in the Genereux family I have been researching in Massachusetts. After Alfred Genereux and his stealing habit, his oldest son Paul Emery Genereux had his share of misdemeanor.

Paul Emery was born on the 2nd of July, 1892 in Somerville, Middlesex to Alfred and Mina Etta. Two years later, the young Paul got thrown in the air… by a cow!

Source: Boston Evening Transcript 5 Jun 1894, p.3 on Google News Archive

Source: Boston Evening Transcript 5 Jun 1894, p.3
on Google News Archive

He did get better and apparently suffered no serious mishap from this adventure. He married Estelle Courtney Snow on the 24th of August 1911 in Lynn, Essex. At the time, he was a clerk in a periodical store. For some unknown reason, they separated before 1920 as she remarried Dr Carolus Melville Cobb in 1919. Dr Cobb even adopted their only daughter, Courtney Estelle who was born in 1912.

But back to Paul: in 1918 he got drafted in WWI for a duration of about six months and in 1920, he is found living with his parents in Lynn where he is a professional photographer. I found many city directories entries for him in Lynn however starting in 1926, he was with a wife named “Anna M”. I had no record of their marriage but a quick look at the Massachusetts, Marriage Index on Ancestry revealed that they married in 1925.

While I was researching articles about him, I mangled his surname on purpose and fell on this article:

Source: The Boston Sunday Herald, 27 May 1923, p. 6 on Genealogybank.com

Source: The Boston Sunday Herald, 27 May 1923, p. 6
on Genealogybank.com

He was teaching his future wife to drive and they ran over a small child in the street. Now, I manually re-ran searches for Paul in the Lynn city directories from 1923 to 1926 and I couldn’t find any so does this mean that Paul and Anna were imprisoned? I’m still unfamiliar with the U.S. Court system and the mention “grand jury” speaks of trial and prison for me, am I wrong?

Whatever happened to them between those years, they remained married and living in Lynn on Gertrude street.  He became a mason, in Damascus Lodge of Lynn in 1948. He also registered in the WWII “Old Man’s Draft” in Lynn. Paul eventually became a commercial photographer of some renown: he is cited in several gardening photography credits from the 1950’s till 1970. He eventually died on the 19th of October, 1977. Anna survived him by 11 years, she died in 1988.

Source: Boston Herald American, 22 Oct 1977, p.23 on Genealogybank.com

Source: Boston Herald American, 22 Oct 1977, p.23
on Genealogybank.com

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