Using Algorithmia’s Free Photo Coloration Tool – Thrifty Thursday

I spent a few hours today testing and playing around with Algorithmia’s free online photo coloring tool.  Marketing itself as a deep learning tool for app developers, Algorithmia is a boon for genealogists who are looking for a cheap and easy way to colorize their old photos.

You may have been looking for an easy way to add some color to your ancestor’s photos, and Algorithmia has a straight forward approach to achieving this goal.

A) Go to the Algorithmia website:

B) Left click on the ‘Upload Photo’ area on the site
colorize photo upload

C) Choose a photo from your collection to upload

D) The site will generate a color photo and its comparison.  You can move the purple line to see what the full image looked like before and after the coloration process
colorized photo comparison

E) You have the option to download the comparison or download the colorized image to your computer.  You can move the purple line to see what the full image looked like before and after the coloration process.

How well does it work?
Algorithmia does not always produce a spot on coloration.  In the example photo above, my great grandmother and her sister have a better flesh tone and some coloration to the jewelry they are worn than in the previous version of the photo.  However, the colorization did not provide much color for the roses, dresses, or photography set.

Here are a  photo slideshow I created from colorized photos generated from the site:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Is it worth it?
Your results will vary depending on the photo composition and the the digital quality of the image.  Some of the photos looked better than I had expected, but other times the photo looked like I’d taken marker and applied giant color blotches.  As this is only free colorization tool I know of online, I have great hopes the technology will improve and make colorization of photographs easy and accessible to everyone.

If you want to learn to colorize your own photos, check with your local library to see if they offer offers video tutorials which show you how to edit your photos, make corrections to damaged images, and how to colorize your photos on a professional scale.  It takes a bit of time, but the payoff is well worth it!  Plus, it’s free with your library card!

Here’s a great site for examples of some exceptionally detailed colorized photographs.  They are pretty amazing!

See You at the Library!



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Shake Up Your Summer with Free Online Genealogy Classes and Webinars- Follow Friday

Who says you’re too cool for summer school?  Summer is a great time to pick up new genealogy skills!
FutureLearn announced a second edition of Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree to their summer schedule.  The response to the first course in March was positively overwhelming, with over 26,000 genealogists participating in the coursework.  This summer’s class is six weeks and begins on Monday, July 18.   This course is a boon to beginning genealogists, as this no-cost class offers participants the opportunity to learn techniques from my University of Strathclyde graduate school professors.  The class combines reading, coursework, and online discussion boards to give participants a way to share their genealogical thoughts experiences.   The feedback from the first class has been overwhelmingly positive, so if you haven’t enrolled yet you will want to do so right away!

If you collect stereographs or have a few in your family heirloom collection, the University of Edinburgh and the National Libraries of Scotland are offering a free two-week course of Stereoscopy: an Introduction to Victorian Stereo Photography beginning August 1, 2016.
Stereographs provided Victorians with an early form of 3-D photographs, which were popular for entertainment and education.  Placed on cardboard were two almost identical photographs, side by side, to be viewed with a stereoscope. Affordable for the masses, stereographs were a commercial success and provided families and individuals an chance to see far away places from the comfort of their homes.  The American Antiquarian Society has a fantastic collection stereographs digitized online.

Looking for a few free webinars?
You may want to check out the huge collection of free webinars on the FamilySearch Learning Center.  learning center

Taking a look around, the Learning Center has a great selection of ethnic genealogy, intermediate and advanced topics, as well as webinars available in Spanish.  I just finished a session on Czech Church Records, and I found another 10 I want to watch later.  I can foresee watching my webinars outside on my deck in the evenings.

ALSO: There are free genealogy presentations available on SlideShare.  Slideshare

Slideshare hosts online slideshow presentations created by a variety of speakers. The presentation on Social Media – How to Share Your Genealogy Without Losing Your Mind looks particularly interesting.

See You At The Library!

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Unique University and College Directories – Talented Tuesday


Were your ancestors bringing home top marks or were they flunking out?

Gradating from higher education is a huge accomplishment.  The pursuit of higher education was a goal for our ancestors.  Not all of them had the financial resources to attend studies beyond high school.

At the beginning of the 20th century, fewer than 1,000 colleges with 160,000 students existed in the United States. As higher education became more available, colleges and universities were able to accommodate more students.

University and college yearbooks were quite common, but did you know many schools printed student and faculty directories?  These books detailed student addresses, graduating class lists, and outlined social events.  Remember, on-campus housing may have been scarce, so directories would print the boarding house or family name of where students were residing during the year.  After graduation, alumni books gathered graduating (and sometimes non-graduating) students information, such as home address, occupation, and other contact information.

Internet Archive has a growing selection of University and College directories available online for free.  Here are a few gems from their site:

Stanford University Alumni Directory and Ten Year Book
Volume 2
Volume 3

Pomona College Directory

Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science Student directory

Univeristy of Maine Alumni and Non-Graduate Directory
Harvard University directory (1910)

Western Michigan University Student, Faculty, Staff Directory (1967)

North Dakota
North Dakota Agricultural College Alumni Directory 1915

Directory of the University of Wooster  (1873-1874) Now College of Wooster

50th anniversary directory, 1913-1963 H.H. Herbert School of Journalism of the University of Oklahoma

Directory of the University of Texas


Interior design classroom, School of Home Economics, University of Wisconsin – Madison, ca. 1910


Directory of the University of Wisconsin

University of Toronto Student’s Directory 1922-1923

There are so many types of school, business, church, rural, and farm directories available for free on Internet Archive.  It may take a bit to find them, so I recommend using the Genealogy portal of the site, which should help narrow down your search a bit.  Don’t forget to add this portal to your saved bookmarks on your browser.

See you at the Library!

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Your Ancestor Doesn’t Have to be a Serial Killer to have Records at the Courthouse – Thriller Thursday

Not everyone who passed through a courthouse has a criminal record.  The  phrase ‘going to the courthouse,’ has a strong connotation of either getting a quick civil wedding or a heinous criminal trial.  One could argue that the only time any law-abiding person has business at a courthouse is to pick up a copy of a document or fulfill jury duty.  Your ancestors don’t need to be Belle GunnessStephen Richards, or H.H. Holmes to have business at a courthouse.  In fact, some of the best everyday assessments of your ancestors can be found in divorces, civil suits, appointments to public offices, tax disputes, guardianships, and naturalizations.  The criminal cases are just amazingly interesting in their own right.
court room 1 final

Earlier this month, Raymond Johnson from presented a fantastic program on tracing infamous ancestors in court records.  H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett), the infamous serial killer featured in the Devil and the White City, may have lived and murdered in several states and locations in the US and Canada, but his Chicago records are surprisingly of a non-criminal variety.  You can watch the full program for free on YouTube!

Using the Cook County Courthouse records, Ray explains how he has been able to identify several aliases, business addresses, and fraud schemes for the infamous H.H. Holmes.  Several of these fraud schemes included mysterious disappearances of individuals, of which no criminal charges were ever filed in Illinois.  Holmes sued various businesses and individuals numerous times, under his own name and under various alias.  Similar to other court records and documents, these lawsuits are not available online.  Depending on court location and record availability, researchers may have to use microfilm or bound indexes to find cases, and wait for documents as they may be stored at an off site location.

Here is a selection of free online webinars for tracking down your ancestors in court records:

Order in the Court Records: Finding Briefs, Transcripts, and other Court Materials

Property Research for Genealogy

Convicts and Criminals In Your Family Tree Ancestry

Dear Myrtle GenLaw Study Group

Murderers, Rebels and Drunkards, your Irish Ancestors and the Law

PRONI – Your Family Tree – Using Court, Prison & Coroners Records

Court research may be a frustrating and confusing avenue of research, but these overlooked records shed light on the everyday
lives of our ancestors.  You don’t have to have a criminal ancestor to find fantastic courthouse records, but it certainly does help!  If your ancestor did commit a murder spree, you will want to find the court location of where the trial was held.  You can usually find this information in newspaper or magazine accounts.

hh holmesFor example, the criminal cases of murder against H.H. Holmes are housed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  For one of the best comprehensive reports of crimes and charges against H.H. Holmes, you can read this Radford University crime summery published in 2013.  You may also enjoy Murderpedia’s H.H. Holmes page which includes newspaper downloads, a photo gallery, and a sizable description of crimes committed.

If you’re a fan of Devil and the White City, you will want to read the book, catch up on a few documentaries, and watch for the new movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

See you at the library!

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FREE GENEALOGY WEBINARS! Check out our live stream of events for Genealogy Day 2016 – Thrifty Thursday

Who doesn’t love a free webinar? Join us for Fountaindale Public Library’s sixth annual Genealogy Day with a live stream of our program on Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 9:30 am to 4pm CST!

Mad Leap

This year’s theme is “Hunting Down Sensational Stories” and will feature three outstanding presentations:

Using HistoryLines to Tell Your Family Story  with Adam Allgaier (9:30 a.m.- 11 am CST)
Sensational Deaths and Where to Find Them with Tina Beaird (11:30 a.m. – 1 pm CST)
Tracking Infamous Ancestors in Court Records with Ray Johnson (2:15 p.m.- 4 p.m. CST)

Downloadable Handouts:
Sensational Deaths and How to Find Them
Investigating Infamous Ancestors

We will be fielding questions from the chat feature during each live stream.  You can also tweet your questions and comments on our twitter handle: @FPLDGenealogy

Can’t watch the program live?  Don’t worry!  All our sessions will be recorded and available to watch later on YouTube.  Feel free to share our webinar with friends, family, society groups, or the newbie genealogist you just met.  You can register for an email reminder online here.

See You At The Webinar!

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Genealogy Day 2016: Hunting Down Sensational Stories – Wisdom Wednesday

Join us for Fountaindale Public Library’s sixth annual Genealogy Day on Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 9:30 am to 4pm! Genealogy Day is free and open to the public!   In addition to the speakers, participants will enjoy Door Prizes, Society Booths, on the spot digital photo restorations, and three outstanding lecture topics!
Mad Leap
This year’s theme is “Hunting Down Sensational Stories” and will feature three outstanding presentations:

Using HistoryLines to Tell Your Family Story  with Adam Allgaier
Sensational Deaths and Where to Find Them with Tina Beaird
Tracking Infamous Ancestors in Court Records with Raymond Johnson

Due to the spectacular success of our Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success webinar earlier this month, our library will be streaming all Genealogy Day lectures online for free via YouTube!  Additional details and online registration will be announced next month!

Also: photography expert and historian Bruce Troyer will be available during lunch to examine and help you identify two photos from your collection. Bruce can help you identify what type of photos you have, the date in which they were taken, and information regarding their origin. This program requires a separate sign up and is limited to 12 consultations, so please register early.

Studio 300’s Anna Gillespie will also be be available with her digital software to perform on the spot photo restorations during break periods, so bring two photos, negatives, or slides and an 8 GB flash drive if you would like to save copies of your digitized items.

Participants are asked to bring a brown-bag lunch or Box Lunch Order Form. Due to limited parking, please carpool or make arrangements to be dropped off for this event.

For more information, please call Debra Dudek at (630) 685-4201.  Register for this event online here, or sign-up by phone at (630) 685-4176.

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On the Waitlist? Watch our Irish Genealogy Workshop Webinar! – Wisdom Wednesday

Due to popular demand, the Ulster Historical Foundation has graciously allowed us irelandmapto stream our Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success program online for free via YouTube on Wednesday, March 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.!

All the documents, handouts, and links will be included in the description fields below the video.  We will also have a chat feature for you to ask questions at the end of each session.  The video stream will be archived and available for 30 days after the program, so you can revisit any topics you need again!

Due to time constrains in our YouTube agreement, we are streaming the program in four parts.  Here are the links to each session:

(NOTE: Due to our streaming media agreement with the Ulster Historical Foundation, the webinar is no longer available for viewing. 4/15/2016)

Part 1: Introduction to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History   (9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
Part 2: Using Land Records: Griffith’s Valuation, Tithe and Estate Records (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Part 3: Census Substitutes and Church Records (1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
Part 4: Sources for Finding Seventeenth Century Families in Ireland (3:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Downloadable Handouts for the Webinar
Researching Irish Ancestors – An Introduction (2016)
National Library of Ireland Guide to Family History
National Archives of Ireland General Guide
National Archives of Ireland Help Notes
Ulster Historical Foundation – Historical_Timeline
Timeline for the Plantation of Ulster
PRONI Guides to Family History
PRONI Guides to Local History
PRONI Guides to Emigration
ALSO: The Ulster Historical Foundation lecturers will be making a stop at the Newberry Library on Thursday, March 10, 2016 during their North American Genealogical Lecture Tour.  For more details on the Newberry Library program, please call (312) 255-3700.


Cool resources to help you with your Irish research!

FutureLearn Irish Lives
Free Online Irish History Class – is offering a free online class entitled “Irish Lives in War and Revolution: Exploring Ireland’s History 1912-1923 “.  This class is open to anyone and begins on Monday, March 14, just a few days before our program!

Dublin Rising City Hall
Check out the DublinRising Online Tour – This year marks the centennial of the Easter Rising.  The National Library of Ireland and Google Maps has put together an outstanding tour of the places, people, and artifacts of the Irish Independence movement. You can visit the site online at
I am at your service to assist with questions before, during, and after the program!  You can contact me by phone at (630) 685-4201 or by e-mail at
See you at the Library!
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