google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist

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The Life of a Rockstar


Sometime yesterday between dealing with technical issues on a website, writing a blog post and practicing a genealogy presentation for this coming Saturday, I learned I'm a Rockstar. Not just any Rockstar but a Genealogy Rockstar.

As I was drowning in work and deadlines, this bit of news added a small pep to my step.

I am honoured to be among such a prestigious list of the Top 10 Genealogy Rockstars in Canada.   I placed 7th; you can see the entire list below, and read more about the top Genealogy Rockstars and the Superstars at John Reid's Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connection.

Canada's Top Ten Genealogy Rockstars

1. Gail Dever 
2. Lorine McGinis Schulze
3. Christine Woodcock
4. Dave Obee
5. Kathryn Lake Hogan
6. Mike Quackenbush
7. Lynn Palermo
8. Jane MacNamara
9. David Pike
9. Glenn Wright


And as I eluded to in social media, I think we can use this opportunity to challenge each other and ourselves. The winners will be the all those who benefit from our work.

I especially wanted to thank those who voted. This is my first time on the list, and I need to thank you my readers and all those who attend my lectures, listen to my webinars, read my blogs and books. I am continually motivated by your belief in me and more importantly by your passion to research and write your family history.

Thank you, I look forward to another great year. Now back to work.




Scanning Family History Photos at Your Finger Tips!






I’m all about making the most painful jobs easier. For me, in the realm of genealogy that would be scanning and filing. With so many pictures and documents, scanning can become a rather mundane task. However, I have recently acquired a new little device that has turned my world upside down.
It is called the Zcan+ wireless mouse, and it is by all accounts a scanner in your mouse. That’s right. Until you see it for yourself you won’t believe it, so I encourage you to watch the video below, but before you do let me tell you a few things about it.

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This fit-in-your-palm scanner slides over your pictures and documents and then like magic they appear on your screen. From there you can edit them and save them into a number of formats, including Pdf, Jpg, excel, and word docs. Just to tip the scales you can also scan and save to Evernote. We all know how much genealogists love Evernote. You can also save your scan directly to Facebook, Twitter, and email. 

If you’re out in the research field such as at an archive, library or Grandma’s house, and you want to scan a picture, document or page of a book, this little mouse quickly looks after the job with a simple click of a button and few swipes across the page.


You continue to use it just like a regular mouse, but with a simple click, it becomes a scanner. There is no battery required, just recharge as needed by plugging it into the USB of your computer.

Now it’s looking pretty great so far.  Well let me add it scans in high quality, 400 dpi and it offers OCR capabilities, with 199 OCR languages. Yup, you heard me.

What about fragile photos, you ask? Don't want to drag a scanner across those treasures. They offer two size pads. Slide the picture under the protective covering and no worries about damage to your photographs. 

I am so in love with this product I can’t imagine using another mouse. This mouse comes in the wireless version; that's one I have, or you can get the USB version. I have been playing with this mouse all summer and showing it to everyone I know. I keep finding new uses for it.

This mouse also extends beyond my genealogy projects. I use it to scan my notes, I often keep a yellow pad beside my computer, I make notes, for projects, books, research, etc., all day, every day. Those yellow pads have a tendency to pile up in my office because they contain notes I made and I want to keep track of but of course they aren't organized in that stack on my desk. Now, I scan those notes at the end of the day and add them to my files in Evernote.  I have found a way to continue to make handwritten notes, which I love to do, and I’m not prepared to give up, but I’m no longer getting bogged down in all the paper.

I also use the mouse scanner to scan paper bills. I’m trying to go paperless, and get rid of the monthly paper bills that come in through snail mail. I still have a few.  I pay them online, scan the bill, save it to a digital file and get rid the paper, no more filing that already overstuffed filing cabinet.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.0 or later and it is compatible with: 
  • iPhone 5s / 5c / 6 / 6 Plus / 6s / 6s Plus 
  • iPad (4th generation) 
  • iPad Air and iPad Air 2 
  • iPad mini 2 / 3 / 4 and iPad Pro

Now that you heard my praises take a look at the video below and see it in action for yourself.








I also managed to garner a bit of a deal for you. Now that I’ve become an affiliate for this product, with the good folks at Shop the Hound. Also, if you know anything about me you know I only do this for products I believe in, use, and love.


Here’s the Deal



1. When you buy the Zcan+ Wireless Mouse with pads, you'll get the pads, in the small and large size for free. Just add Armchair to your cart in the Coupon area and your purchase will be discounted $19.99.

2. When you buy the Zcan USB version, you can add the large pad to your order for free. The USB version already gets the small pad so now you'll have both. Add the large pad to your order, then use Armchair in the Coupon area to get the discount.


I think you'll find the Zcan+ wireless mouse a great investment and wonderful addition to your genealogy toolbox.



One More Reason You Should be Writing with Scrivener



Buy Scrivener 2.x for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)

Here at The Armchair Genealogist, we are pretty big fans of the writing software Scrivener. Recently the makers of Scrivener, Literature and Latte, released their long-awaited iOS app for Scrivener. You can now use Scrivener on your iPhone,  iPad, and iPod. Previously, you could sync your Scrivener projects across your Windows and Mac desktops, laptops and netbooks using Dropbox. Now you can add your iPhone, iPad and iPod to the list.  You will still require Dropbox to make this happen.


iPhone App for Notes

To be perfectly honest I don’t see using the iPhone app for writing. However, I can see using it to make notes. Do you have those moments when you finish writing but your brain hasn’t quite finished writing? I do!  An idea, phrase or word comes to you that you just have to write down?  Now I can quickly open Scrivener on my iPhone and make a note. Also, if you’re familiar with how I use Scrivener for writing a family history, then you know that I also keep an ongoing research list in Scrivener. Now I can quickly access that list from my iPhone. I’m sure as I continue to use the app I will find new ways to use it for my writing and I will be sure to share them with you.

Scrivener on the iPad

I do know many of you love using the iPad for writing. The fact that it has a long battery life makes it a great writing tool, especially for travelling. With the new iOS app, you can sync your Scrivener to your iPad. Handy! It might actually be the tipping point for me to buy an iPad.

The iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch app costs $19.99 and provides the full range of features that your desktop version offers except the corkboard on the iPhone.

Here’s a screenshot of the next workbook I’m working in our series Writing a Family History from my laptop and my iPhone. By the way, my computer is a PC, my phone is an iPhone, and there seems no problem syncing from one to the other.



If you’re like me and like to make the most of your day, and find small chunks of time in your day to be writing, this new app is going to improve your opportunities. Just one more reason Scrivener continues to be the best writing software on the market and why it continues to make sense for the family historian.

Not familiar with Scrivener?

Scrivener provides writers with the ability to customize their writing environment, keep their research close at hand when writing their family history stories, and its unbelievable power to publish a family history into whatever format you would like is the icing on the cake.

Not sure if Scrivener is for you, check out our video catalogue.  We help you see Scrivener from a family historian’s perspective.



                                                                     Still Struggling to Learn Scrivener?


Have you bought Scrivener but still struggling to figure it out?  Our guide, Scrivener for the Family Historian breaks it down for you in simple, uncomplicated terms. It's available as a download here or on Amazon in paperback.

When you combine our guide with our free videos and free family history templates, we take all the work out of learning to use Scrivener. 





Writing Your Family History: Keeping it Short


Have you been putting off writing your family history because you're just not up to the task of writing a long epic narrative? Is the thought too overwhelming, too large a project to even begin? Many family historians think there is only one-way to write a family history?  As one long narrative, that intertwines all their ancestor’s lives into one gigantic story. A collection of research structured into paragraph format that meanders from the beginning of their research to the end resulting in some pretty dry and dull narrative.

Some 8 years ago, it was certified genealogist and author Sharon DeBartolo Carmack that first turned You Can Write Your Family History.  I was trying to figure out how I wanted to write my family history stories.  I was excited to hear Sharon had written a new book, Tell It Short, A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief. 
me onto using creative nonfiction to write my stories with her book,

Tell It Short is a fantastic guide for getting acquainted with the idea of creative nonfiction and the short essay format as a form of family history writing. In Tell It Short, Sharon acquaints us with the three essay forms that our family history writing can take. 

The Literary Journalism Essay – telling a story that puts your reader into your ancestor’s experience.  This is the type I prefer and teach at The Family History Writing Studio.

The Memoir Essay – telling your own life experiences

The Personal Essay – taking your family history knowledge and experience and relating it to today and your own personal views on a topic or theme, relating the past to the present.

Sharon expands on all three of these, each with their own chapter, as well, she covers humour, travel, and food essays.

Sharon breaks down the genre of creative nonfiction in simple, uncomplicated terms and will help family historians to understand and embrace creative nonfiction in their family history writing. She covers the key elements of creative nonfiction and how to put your ancestors into historical context.  Easily digested in a few hours of reading, it won’t take you long to realize this is the approach to consider in writing your family history.

Tell It Short is divided into two parts. Part 1 introduces the family historian to writing the family history essay and Part 2 reading the family history essay. She also touches on ethical issues and overcoming writer’s block. As an editor, I knew Sharon wouldn’t leave out revision and editing.  She lends her expertise in revising, editing and proofreading.

However, the jewel of this book is Part 2, Reading Family History Essays, where she has gathered 10 examples of family history essays for you to read.  Of course, there is no better way to learn writing then reading the works of others.

If you’re tired of writing a boring family history narrative, if you are new to the idea of writing creative nonfiction and want to get a sense of what it’s all about. If you’re overwhelmed and want to learn to write in a short format than Sharon’s book Tell It Short, A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief is a great place to start.



 Sharon DeBartolo Carmack is a certified genealogist with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing and is the author of twenty-two books. Sharon can be reached through her website www.NonfictionHelp.com

Learn to Create a Legacy Family History Book

While there is still a great deal of summer left it won't be long before September will be here and that means our classes at The Family History Writing Studio will be starting up again. We have three courses coming your way this fall. Our first course is brand new and we are excited to be delivering it - Creating a Legacy Family History Book. Take a look at our video, I tell you all a Legacy Family History Book, what's it all about and how to become part of this exciting new class.

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Our other two classes this fall, our popular Writing a Family History Scene and then another brand new class Plotting Your Story.