On-Line Interactive Family History Collaboration Research
Through Distance-Learning Technology:
After 38 Years of Traditional Research!

by John Kuzmich, Jr.

November 21, 2011

My genealogy odyssey began in 1969 with most of my family history behind the "Iron Curtain” in Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Ukraine. I was able to make considerable progress despite not speaking any Eastern European languages and working with officials in closed societies of the Cold War era.  The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 changed everything.  My oldest son’s mission to Germany opened an opportunity for my family to travel to Poland and Slovenia in 1996, performing musical programs and doing original research.  More research and performance trips took place in 1998, 2001 and 2009, expanding my Eastern European network.  In the last two years the Internet has afforded new ways to involve family members using interactive computer technology with time-saving, family collaboration tools.  We are now using the Internet for collecting and extracting data and then importing the research into  genealogy database files via live videoconferencing techniques with support-teams in Poland, Slovenia, Utah, South Dakota, California, Wisconsin and Colorado.

After 38 years of solo genealogy research, I am excited to see my family engaged in our family history research and making dramatic progress.  Family history is an integrated family activity each Sunday via multi-point videoconferencing over the Internet. To better understand this accomplishment, the following is a description of the technology that makes my family history research easier to accomplish.

This presentation will demonstrate videoconferencing communication and database collaboration of family history research done by family members thousands of miles apart.  The aforementioned points 1 through 4 will be demonstrated and emphasized in the presentation. The web site in point 5 will also be mentioned and illustrated with completed projects cited at URL=s for participants to become familiar with but not necessarily taught beyond their purposes for enhancing the family history research needs. Pros and cons of each point will be discussed through a videoconferencing connection, including answering of any questions from the audience. Where appropriate, transitions will be discussed to enlighten the audience on how we adapted technology to create successful team organization. 

We regularly obtain original research data via the Internet from my Polish genealogist in Poland in Excel spreadsheet files and from my Slovenia genealogist in PAF files in Slovenia and shared with me and my extractor in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Our extractor inputs Excel files and PAF files into master database family files in Ancestral Quest and uploads to a secure web-based collaboration folder accessible to all members in the family.

Members of my family work on designated master-database file(s) adding new individuals into New.FamilySearch.Org .

Family meets most Sunday afternoon via videoconferencing software with full multipoint interaction that allows us to discuss the work being done.  We collectively finalize any consolidations of multiple submissions and possible changes to our family file at new.familysearch.org/. We can host up to 15-users anywhere in the world without Broadband issues, which means we can conference regularly even when I or members of my family are away from home.

Software being integrated in this video conferencing Internet collaboration include:
GoToMeeting videoconferencing software can seamlessly host 15 users anywhere in the world without Broadband issues.  We don't need to use a webcam but rather focus attention on the monitors screen display. 

Ancestral Quest hasunique collaboration web-hosting capabilities connecting directly with new.familysearch.org/. This product allows multiple users to work with a single file so the original file is updated correctly by each user.  To work with a “Collaboration File”, you place a family file on a central server on the Internet. You allow others to access that file. This means that you and your associates, anywhere in the world, can work together on a single, master file while maintaining the integrity of the data when updated. This can eliminate the need to send GEDCOM files back and forth and merge the two sets of information. Click here to view diagram. (http://www.ancquest.com/images/CollaborationDiagram.pdf).  More info is available at http://www.ancquest.com/aq_collab.htm

Google Docs, docs.google.com, is good for documenting daily work so everybody knows what is taking place when each person updates the master-database file(s). This was  important when we began our collaborative efforts.

Webspiration  (http://www.mywebspiration.com, allows for the quick construction of web-based Charts.  that illustrate what family history assignments have been completed and what still needs to be done. 

Construct family history blogs at kuzmichgenealogy.blogspot.com with multimedia podcasts.  Presently using www.tumblr.com and www.blogger.com for hosting the blogs.

Construct a family web site that Internet browsers can locate.  My family history web site is the top listed site in Google searches for the following localities in Poland, Ukraine and Slovenia. Go to www.kuzmich.com/genealogy.html and see that my family history web sites is currently the first Google listing result when searching on the text indicated in red.

Using FTP sites to transfer large digital genealogy photos world-wide for translation

Medium of presentation: Internet with GoToMeeting, Ancestral Quest in collaboration mode, Heritage Collector Pro, blogs, podcasts, and web sites.

This web site allows you to look through my GEDCOM file to learn if you are related to me at www.kuzmich.com/genealogy.html.

Are We Related?  On-Line Family Questionnaire

An Interactive Family Search (http://www.kuzmich.com/Applet/john.html).  Go to the "Family List" icon,  find your name or a relative, click on it and that person's name will appear on a pedigree chart.

On-Line Family History Questionnaire:  Click to compare your family information in the on-line questionnaire at <http://www.kuzmich.com/family_questionnaire2.html>.

Individual Ancestral Village Maps  Local-area maps of Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine are linked below to individual ancestral villages.  

  1. Krempachy and Nowa Biala, Poland: <www.maplandia.com/poland/malopolske/nowy-targ/krempachy/>. 12 kilometers southeast of Nowy Targ
  2. Snietnica and Stawisha, Poland: <www.lemko.org/maps100/Pages/Pg55.html> Go to the "B2" square for Snietnica and Stawisha at: www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?formtype=address&country=PL&addtohistory=&city=Gorlice , www.lemko.org/lih/churchir/b2.jpg between Banica and Brunary, Poland, about 5 kilometers north of present Slovakia border.
  3. Novo Mesto, Slovenia: www.multimap.com/map/browse.cgi?client=public&GridE=15.1657&GridN=45.7995&lon=15.1657&lat=45.7995&db=w3&overviewmap=&country=Slovenia&scale=1000000&lang=&region=&client=public&cidr_client=none&place=Novo+Mesto, www.novomesto.si/en/, and www.burger.si/NovoMesto/NovoMesto2.htm
  4. Maximilianovka, Maryinka district, Ukraine is a very small village about 30 kilometers west of Donetsk <http://www.ukrainianweb.com/map_ukraine.htm>. Click on Donetsk o to see local area map and then look for Maryinka district west of Donetsk.