Copyright © 2000 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.
If you do contact any of the companies or societies mentioned in
this newsletter, please tell them that you read about their services in this newsletter.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Using Genetics to Trace Your Family Tree
- Society of Genealogists Data to be Online
- GENUKI Book
- The Best Genealogy Program?
- Legacy 3.0
- Jewish Genealogy Month Online
- Safety of Online Credit Card Transactions
- Home Pages Highlighted
- Using Genetics to Trace Your Family Tree
Several wire services carried a story this week that could lead to the
most dramatic change in genealogy techniques we have ever seen. A genetics professor at
Oxford says that he can now prove whether or not people with the last name indeed are
members of the same family.
Brian Sykes, an expert in genetics at Britain's Oxford University, said
Tuesday he had checked the DNA of dozens of men named Sykes and found, to his surprise,
that they all seem to have descended from the same ancestor.
Examining men with the same surname as his own, Sykes used a technique
known as genetic fingerprinting to examine the men's Y chromosome, which is handed down
with very little change from father to son. "I wrote 250 men, a random sample, with
the same surname, and I wrote to Sykeses because I felt confident approaching people with
the same name as mine," Sykes said in a telephone interview.
He tracked the men down in three English counties known to have many
people with the Sykes name -- York, Cheshire and Lancashire. He sent them home DNA kits
that included a brush to take a few cells from the inside of the mouth. "I got 61
returns of DNA on little brushes, and of those, half had a Y chromosome microsatellite
fingerprint which showed they had exactly the same Y chromosome," Sykes said.
Microsatellites are little repeated sequences of the four nucleotides --
A, C, T and G -- that seem to carry no important genetic instructions but which can be
used as "fingerprints" to identify genes.
Sykes, who reported his findings in the American Journal of Human
Genetics, said he was surprised to find the same fingerprint in so many different men who
had no idea they were related. "The only explanation is all Sykeses had come from a
single male who first inherited that name," he said. "We reckon from the court
records the name first appears in West Yorkshire in just about 1300." Prior to this
study, Sykes had always assumed that various families in different parts of England had
adopted the common name of Sykes centuries ago.
Before 1300, most English peasants went by just one name or had names they
did not pass on to their children. "Surnames became inherited because it was a time
you were able to transfer the tenancy of your land to your children," Sykes said. He
had not expected such a pedigree for his name, in particular, which seems to have had few
noble associations. "Sykeses were all peasants and vagabonds," he laughed.
"They were always cropping in the court records as having stolen sheep or burnt woods
There was another eye opener in Sykes findings. His analysis shows
that the Sykes men were most often the true fathers of their male offspring, a tribute to
their wives fidelity. "With 50 percent having the same Y chromosome ... it
works out roughly at about 1 percent per generation for no paternity," Sykes said.
"It's really quite low -- lower than the rates we are accustomed to these days. It
essentially means that 99 percent of Mrs. Sykeses have been very well-behaved."
Sykes, whose lab linked a 9,000-year-old skeleton known as "Cheddar
Man" to an Englishman living nearby in 1997, said the applications of this latest
work will be most valuable to people tracing family histories. "It is astounding news
for genealogists," he said. Noting that written records are rare before 1700, he said
it would be a good way for people to track their ancestry.
Sykes has patented the test for an association between a surname and the Y
chromosome, and, with the university, started up a company to perform the tests. "We
are probably going to call it Oxford Ancestors," he said.
- Society of Genealogists Data to be Online
The Society of Genealogists in England has a huge collection of genealogy
information. Their library is the largest genealogy library in the British Isles, with a
large collection of family histories, civil registration records, census material, and the
widest collection of Parish Register copies in the country. In recent years the Society
has been computerizing their information although much of their information has not yet
been converted to digital format.
In the past few days the Society of Genealogists has signed an agreement
with Scottish Origins to put much of their material online on a pay-as-you-view basis.
This is great news for genealogists. Scottish Origins appears to be well prepared for this
vast amount of material. The company has already worked with the General Register Office
for Scotland to place much of their data online at http://www.origins.net.
Obviously Scottish Origins is now planning a similar effort with the Society of
A lot of work has to be done before anything becomes visible online, so
dont look for this to be available for a while yet. I suspect a formal announcement
of this new agreement will be made at the Society of Genealogists' Family History Fair in
London on May 6 and 7.
- GENUKI Book
GENUKI is a large Web site devoted to genealogy research in England,
Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man. The word GENUKI is an
acronym for GENealogy UK and Ireland. This isnt so much one Web site as it is
a collection of Web sites devoted to this topic. GENUKI has many contributors using many
different computers to host web pages. They all use one structure of places and subjects
(that used by the Family History Library Catalogue of the LDS Church), and standards for
the appearance of the web pages. Collectively, all these people provide a huge amount of
information. There are over 20,000 pages of information within GENUKI, as well as links to
a great variety of other web sites.
This week I had a chance to read a new booklet by David Hawgood that
describes GENUKI in detail and gives lots of hints about the use of this valuable
resource. In this 48-page GENUKI booklet, Hawgood supplies a lot of information. Here is
the table of contents:
Links from the GENUKI home page
Places and Topics - the structure of the main material of GENUKI
Descriptions of Places
"Genealogy" and "Names, Personal" as topics
Using your Web browser
Email from the web page
Mailing lists and newsgroups
2. How to find information using GENUKI
Annotated lists of topics
Frequently Asked Questions - with answers!
Contents Lists - and why you shouldn't use them
Societies, surname and email lists for all counties
Finding places and putting them on maps
Searches within GENUKI
3. Indexes and Transcripts
Transcripts of name lists
Parish Register Transcripts
On-line search of database of names
Off-line search service
Published indexes of names
4. Places, Towns, Parishes
5. Sharing and Collaboration
Surname lists by county
More collaboration methods
Interests of members of Family History Societies
GENUKI Supporters' Club - free news and comment
You can help GENUKI to expand and keep up-to-date
6. Family History Societies
What Societies offer
Fairs and lectures - calendars of events
Society projects to index records
Help with your family history
Hawgood uses many screen shots in the booklet to illustrate the sort of
information found on GENUKI. He also gives many URLs to point directly to specific
This book explains the structure of geographic levels (usually country,
county, parish) and lists the subjects. It covers ways of using GENUKI, including searches
within GENUKI and lists of "Frequently Asked Questions" which provide
alternative ways into the information. It shows the types of information available about
towns and parishes, sometimes including abstracts and indexes to parish registers and
censuses. It covers collaboration, surname searching, and information available from
family history societies.
"GENUKI - U.K & Ireland Genealogy on Internet" by David
Hawgood is a 48-page paperback published jointly by the author and the Federation of
Family History Societies. You can order the book online from the Society of
Genealogists Bookshop at www.sog.org.uk/acatalog/SoG_Bookshop_Online_Internet_Books_52.html.
It also can be ordered by old-fashioned mail from FFHS Publications Ltd, 2-4 Killer St,
Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9BZ, England; or Family Tree Magazine, 61 Great Whyte, Ramsey,
Huntingdon PE17 1HL, England. The price is £3.45 including postage to anyplace in the
United Kingdom. Surface mail to other countries increases the price to £3.65, and airmail
shipment worldwide is available for a total of £4.35 (approximately $7.00 U.S. funds).
You can order by credit card to avoid the hassles of converting currency to Pounds
GENUKI is available at http://www.genuki.org.uk/
- The Best Genealogy Program?
I often get asked, "Which genealogy program is the best one on the
market?" I always try to duck that question because I dont believe there is any
simple answer. A lot depends upon a persons personal preferences and upon his or her
objectives. For instance, one program may excel at color graphics, another may produce
huge printed wall charts, a third program may be better at creating fancy Web pages to be
placed on a personal genealogy site and still a fourth program may be the best at
recording notes and sources of every scrap of information found. While I demand good notes
and sources as a primary requirement of any genealogy program I use for my own personal
research, I realize that others may have different priorities.
I have used almost every genealogy program on the market and have written
about each one in this newsletter. Yet I have never done a side-by-side comparison of all
the features of each program. Such an effort would take many hours, probably weeks, of
intensive effort. That isnt practical when I have a weekly deadline staring at me.
This week I found an excellent online article that does give such a
side-by-side comparison of 12 of the most popular genealogy programs for Windows. Bill
Mumford has created a "Genealogical Software Report Card" for each of these 12
programs, comparing 12 basic areas with each area subdivided into still more comparisons
for a total of more than 300 criteria. Quoting from the Report Cards Web site:
The most often asked question concerning genealogical software is
"what's the best program? " It is almost impossible to answer this question but
the software report card can provide at least part of the answer. Using the report card it
is possible to quickly determine the strengths and weaknesses of any program. The report
card breaks the features of a program into twelve basic units. Each unit is composed of a
list of features found in the various genealogical programs. The report card system
removes, as much as possible, any subjective considerations in evaluation of a program as
all programs evaluated use the same feature list. The date entry on the report card
indicates to the reader how current the evaluation is and if it can be used to compare
with a more recent one.
Points assigned to the basic elements are added up for each program,
giving a bottom-line number of the programs overall rating. Obviously the person
looking for a new program needs to look at more than just the bottom-line number in order
to compare the features that he or she deems most important. This "report card"
allows for both a bottom-line summation and a feature-by-feature comparison.
I noted that The Master Genealogist obtained the highest over-all rating
at 73.8 points, edging out The Ultimate Family Tree by eight-tenths of one point (73.0
points). Legacy 3 was in third place but only 2.5 points behind The Master Genealogist at
71.3. The other programs dropped down to lower numbers, with one genealogy program
gathering only 20 points.
I will emphasize again that the bottom-line summation is interesting but
is still only a part of what the prospective buyer should evaluate. You might also want to
think about which features are important to you and then add up your own score of just
Bill Mumford has done an excellent job with this detailed analysis.
Apparently he plans to update it as new releases of the various programs become available.
This is a great resource for anyone thinking of purchasing a new genealogy program. The
next time someone asks me, "Which genealogy program is the best one on the
market?" I will refer them to Bills "Genealogical Software Report
Card" at http://www.cadvision.com/mumford/reptcard/
- Legacy 3.0
Speaking of good genealogy software, Legacy 2.0 has always been one of my
favorites. I was pleased to note that Bill Mumfords "Genealogical Software
Report Card" lists it as one of the top three. The producers of Legacy have now
started shipping version 3.0. Their press release says that the new version has "50
new features and enhancements," including:
- Search for your ancestors from over 1 billion records.
- Send e-mail.
- Jump right to your relative's Web sites.
- New streamlined interface that makes finding what you're after a snap.
- A new To Do List / Research Log
- Global Search and Replace
- Spell Checking
- User-selectable information on the Family View and Pedigree View.
- Automatically set Living to Yes or No for large groups of people.
- Sortable Location List can now be sorted by any field.
- Quick Bookmarks make it faster than ever to return to key people in your file.
- You can now add addresses to the Birth, Christening, Death, and Burial fields as well as
to Marriages. All individual and marriage events can also have an address. Even the Master
Locations can include an attached address.
- New Master Repository List lets you enter the mailing address, e-mail and web addresses
of libraries, archives and agencies and use them over and over again.
- You can add Latitude and Longitude information to addresses and locations.
- Scan pictures from within Legacy.
- Attach pictures to Events and Sources.
- Crop Pictures.
- Create a Sliding Picture show screen saver made up of your favorite family photos.
- Enhanced Photo Album.
- Web Pages creation is now many times faster.
- Add unlimited Events to marriages.
- User definable Husband and Wife labels for each couple.
- All Notes fields now hold up to 1 million characters!
- Add notes to Births, Christenings, Deaths, Burials and Marriages.
- Print custom address labels and name tags.
- Name tags can include pictures and three-generation pedigree charts.
- Count and print the separate Trees within your family file.
- Improved List Reports with line wrapping options.
- Enhanced Print Preview engine.
- New Character Map gives support for European alphabets.
- New Descendant Narrative Report.
- New summary style Potential Problems report skips redundant information.
- Events can be marked as Private.
- New Source Detail Comments, User File Number and Recorded Date fields.
- You can now add sources for LDS ordinance information.
- Select up to five fields to display on the Family View.
- Customizable icons in Family or Pedigree view allows you to choose up to eleven commonly
- Select US or Metric option for setting report margins, etc.
- Faster GEDCOM and Legacy file exports.
- GEDCOM import/export support for PAF 4.0 private notes with leading tilde (~text)
from/to Legacy private notes in double brackets [[text]] ).
- Option to suppress estimated dates <1750> and estimated places <Boston,
Suffolk, MA> when exporting files.
- Enhanced TempleReady submission.
Legacy 3.0 is available now.
You can read more information about the new version at: http://www.LegacyFamilyTree.com/WhatsNew3.asp
- Jewish Genealogy Month Online
The following announcement is from MyFamily.com:
OREM, Utah, April 5 -- Ancestry.com(SM), part of the MyFamily.com, Inc.
network of Internet sites, today announced the launch of a new online resource dedicated
to celebrating Jewish Genealogy Month and observing Holocaust Remembrance Day. The online
resource, located at http://www.ancestry.com/home/celebrate/jewish.htm,
features databases for Jewish family history research, online store specials that relate
to Jewish history, recipes for traditional Jewish foods, online maps relevant to the
celebration and links to other Internet resources.
"The two great myths of Jewish genealogical research are that no one
remembers their family's past and all the records were destroyed in the Holocaust. Nothing
could be further from the truth," said Gary Mokotoff, publisher of Avotaynu, the
International Review of Jewish Genealogy. "Powerful Jewish family history resources
exist online and offline and Ancestry.com's new page is a good place to begin
Jewish Genealogy Month runs from April 6 until May 5 and this year's theme
is "The Family Tree of the Jewish People." To support the theme, Ancestry.com is
featuring the following databases as part of the new online resource:
-- Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Jewry, 1909-1914: http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/inddbs/1043.htm
-- Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Jewry, 1897-1909: http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/inddbs/1046.htm
-- Dictionary of Jewish Surnames in Russian Empire: http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/inddbs/3173.htm
Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed May 2 as a tribute to the enduring
spirit of the millions who died during the Holocaust, as well as those who survived. The
new online resource includes links to various Internet sites dedicated to remembering the
holocaust and honoring those who sought to relieve suffering during the era.
In observance of the month, Ancestry.com has discounted Jewish Roots in
Poland, an authoritative guidebook to Jewish genealogy in Poland. The Web resource and new
databases are accessible free of charge through the end of April.
- Safety of Online Credit Card Transactions
This week I exchanged e-mails with a reader of this newsletter who wanted
to know a telephone number or a mailing address for a product I mentioned in an earlier
newsletter. She said she was "afraid to use her credit card on the Internet." I
did a double-take when I read that as online credit card transactions are safer than using
cards in restaurants, gas stations or "brick and mortar" stores.
I wrote an article about this topic in this newsletter last year. I have
decided to reprint the article again this week although I have changed a few sentences
here and there to update it with current information. Here is revision #2 of my article on
credit card safety on the Internet:
I have often written about genealogy products, and I usually end each
article with information about how to order the particular product online. I have been
writing such articles for years and also have been making purchases online myself for even
longer. I have purchased almost all of my airline tickets online for more than 15 years
now, always paying by credit card. I have also made many online purchases of software,
genealogy books, Christmas gifts, magazine subscriptions and lots of other things. I use
my credit cards online more than I do offline.
I was a bit surprised this week when a reader sent an e-mail asking if I
could supply a telephone number or mailing address for a product reviewed in a recent
newsletter. The lady wrote that she was afraid to use her credit card online.
I must admit that this statement surprised me. I thought that this bit of
fiction about credit cards on the Internet had died out long ago. Perhaps not, so
Ill write a few words about credit card safety on the net. While this isnt
strictly a genealogy-related topic, it does directly impact many of the products mentioned
in these newsletters.
In the early days of the World Wide Web, "security" was an
unknown word. In short, there was little to no security. However, that changed quickly as
merchants and programmers saw economic opportunities arise. Today, thousands of merchants
sell literally billions of dollars worth of products and services over the World Wide Web
each year. Some observers claim that the use of credit cards on the Web quadruples every
year. Yet we almost never hear of credit card theft on the Net while such thefts in stores
and restaurants is so common that it rarely is reported by the news media.
Web browsers and servers now have the capability to send and receive
sensitive financial and personal information in an encrypted form that is essentially
impossible to intercept. Only the buyer and the merchant will ever have access to the
information. No one else can decode your credit card numbers.
The buzzword for all this is "Secure Sockets." Ill skip
over the technical details but will point out that your credit card information is
encrypted right at your PC, before it ever reaches the Internet. When Secure Socket
connections are used, your data is never transmitted "in the clear." The
encryption techniques employed are extremely robust and secure. In theory, these
encryption methods can be broken. However, the only way to do that is to use a
multi-million dollar mainframe. Even with expensive hardware, decoding one credit card
transaction might require several months. Credit card thieves typically do not have access
to that much time on a powerful mainframe computer. Most thieves can find easier ways to
There has never been a single documented case of such information being
intercepted in transit and used for criminal purposes. I cannot think of any other credit
card transaction methodology that can match the safety of Internet electronic commerce
Normal connections, those not using Secure Sockets, theoretically could be
intercepted, although there are far easier ways for criminals to steal credit card numbers
than by trying to catch them on the Internet. Even so, it is a good idea to make sure that
you are in the midst of a Secure Socket connection before entering your credit card data.
Look for an icon depicting a lock or a key in your browsers window for assurance
that your order processing session is protected by a Secure Socket connection.
Once your credit card information is received at the online
merchants server, it normally remains within a secured database in the order
processing system. That database may even be the same one that the merchant uses for
telephone orders and mail orders. Credit card information has been stolen after it arrives
at a merchants central computer system, but that happens on Web orders and non-Web
orders alike. Using the Web certainly does not increase the odds of such theft. Instead,
it actually decreases those odds through automated processes that keep your credit card
detail out of human hands.
During online credit card transactions, your information is sent via
high-security encryption techniques. This is in stark contrast to using your credit card
at dozens of local shops, restaurants and gas stations. When your credit card is used to
make a paper imprint, your credit card number is in the hands of hundreds of people whom
you dont know very well or may wind up on slips of paper in dumpsters accessible to
all sorts of people. One phrase I learned recently is "Dumpster Diving;" the act
of going through dumpsters behind stores or restaurants looking for credit card receipts.
Such activities are very common among credit card thieves.
Do you use your credit card at restaurants? If so, what is the first thing
the waiter does? He takes your card and then disappears from view out into "the back
room." How many people there can obtain copies of your information? That waiter or
one of his buddies can quickly and easily swipe your card twice, bringing one copy back to
you for your signature while selling the other one to rip-off artists. This can happen
even without the knowledge of the restaurant owners.
Stealing credit card information in person is easy, but stealing the same
credit card information off the Internet is much more difficult. To obtain and unlock your
encrypted Internet order form, a thief would need the following:
- Access to secure, restricted network or telephone facilities
- Understanding of network routers and network protocols
- Network Administrator privileges or an expensive network "sniffer" and the
know-how to use it
- Ability to know when your order form is being sent
- Ability to know by what route your order form is traveling over the thousands of
possible network segments between your computer and the order processor
- Ability to sift through millions of packets to identify packets containing parts of your
- Ability to reassemble those packets into the original encrypted order form.
At this point, the criminal has gone through a tremendous effort just to
intercept your order form, but he can't get anything out of it because it's encrypted. Now
the real trouble starts because the thief also has to have:
- Specialized software capable of analyzing the encrypted information and breaking the
code used for encryption
- Undetected and unrestricted access to computer hardware capable of operating the code
By contrast, there are many more reliable and efficient ways to steal
credit card numbers, and none of them involve overcoming Internet operations or robust
security measures. Among them:
- Work in a gas station or restaurant for a few days to get discarded credit card imprint
- Work at a telephone order center. When a buyer calls a toll-free number to order
something found in a catalog, the person at the order center is probably a temporary
worker being paid a salary that is close to the minimum wage. That person may be motivated
to record duplicate copies of your credit card information for uses not envisioned by the
- Sift through trashcans and dumpsters to pick out bank records and credit card billing
- Drive around suburbs with an inexpensive scanner and listen for people placing phone
orders on cordless phones or cellular telephones.
- Pay off "friends" who work in retail stores to steal numbers from customers.
- Stand next to or behind patrons at the sales counter of any department store and read
their number off the card as they present it to the clerk.
- Wander through airports or bus stations where people routinely forget to pick up their
receipts when they are worried about catching their flight or getting on their bus.
Online credit card transactions via Secure Socket connections are much
safer than handing your card to a clerk in a store or restaurant. A largely uninformed
media has given in to hearsay, rumor and urban legend rather than taking the time to
investigate the facts. These rumors circulate far and wide without regard for truth.
You should also remember that there are limits on your exposure in all
credit card thefts. In the United States, you will be charged a maximum of $50.00 for all
the purchases made with your stolen credit card. However, American Express and also some
issuers of VISA and MasterCards reduce this liability to zero. A person using one of these
"insured cards" still may suffer some inconvenience when the card is ripped off,
but at least it wont cost any money. If you have several credit cards in your
wallet, check to see which ones offer theft protection. Then use those cards all the time,
both online and offline.
Even sending your credit card data in the clear without a Secure Socket
connection probably is safe. While it is theoretically possible that it could be
intercepted, the odds of that happening are lower than using your card at the gas station
or restaurant. Even so, I want to be 100% safe. I always look for a lock or a key symbol
in my browsers window before I enter credit card data. That way I know I am using a
Secure Socket connection to the merchants ordering system and that my personal
information is safe. I also only use credit cards that are 100% insured against credit
- Home Pages Highlighted
The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web
home pages that have been listed recently on http://www.rootscomputing.com:
The rare Irish surname McGing and varients such as McGinn. This site also
contains extracts from various baptismal and marriage records from the Mayo area: http://www.mcging.org
Clinton Public Library, Clinton, Iowa: http://www.clintonsrootcellar.homestead.com
The Polish Genealogy Project, a comprehensive Polish genealogical research
A genealogy database for Hetland, Bjelland, Kyllingstad in Rogaland
county, Hembre and Holm in Nord Trøndelag county, Norway: http://siri.lawson.net
All known U.S. census records for the Sullens/Sullins clan. Most families
are identified genealogically and links are provided to previous and subsequent census
records for the family: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~sullins/census/
Hand family researchers with queries, data base type records and an online
vault for pictures and other family info: http://www.egroups.com/group/handcousins
History of the Carter family of Kentucky and their ancestors: http://www.angelfire.com/ca4/carter/main.html
To submit your home page to this newsletter, enter the necessary
information at: http://www.rootscomputing.com/register.htm.
Due to the volume of new Web pages submitted, I am not able to list all of them in the
Are you interested in the articles in this newsletter? Would you like to
learn more or ask questions or make comments about these articles? Join this
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CompuServe members using Netscape, Internet Explorer or CompuServe 2000 can go to http://go.compuserve.com/GenealogyForum.
If you are using Classic CompuServe, you can GO ROOTS.
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