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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

A Weekly Summary of Events and
Topics of Interest to Online Genealogists

Vol. 2 No. 34 – August 23, 1997

Copyright (C) by 1997 Richard Eastman and Ancestry, Inc. All rights reserved.

Information on how to obtain a free subscription to this newsletter or how to cancel a subscription is given near the end of this document.

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:

- Videotape: Maps! Maps! Maps!
- HTMLGenie
- Halberts/Burke’s Peerage Back In Court
- Genealogy Forum In Big Sky Country
- Genealogy Databases Worthless?
- CompuServe Introduces Flat Rate Pricing
- President Clinton Announces "Honorable Ancestors" Program
- Home Pages Highlighted


- Videotape: Maps! Maps! Maps!

A very interesting set of videotapes is now available that will help many genealogists delve into a rich source of familial history. "Maps! Maps! Maps!" is an instructional video featuring Ronald E. Grim, Ph.D., Specialist in Cartographic History at the U.S. Library of Congress. In a series of four lectures Dr. Grim covers the subject in depth. The four lectures fill two VHS tape cassettes and run a total of three and one-half hours. In that amount of time Dr. Grim can present a lot of detailed information. The lectures are:

Lecture 1: Getting Started: Using Cartographic Resources in Genealogical Research (How Can Maps Help Me and Where Do I Find Them?)

Lecture 2: The Rural Neighborhood and Map Resources (General Land Office Surveys and County Landownership Maps and Atlases)

Lecture 3: The Urban Neighborhood and Map Resources (Fire Insurance Maps and Bird’s-eye Views)

Lecture 4: German Immigration and Settlement in America (As Documented in Period Maps and Atlases)

The brochure that accompanies the tapes lists a few of Dr. Grim’s credentials. He seems uniquely qualified to lecture about the use of maps in genealogy: he has a B.A. in History and Geography and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Historical Geography. He has 10 years experience working at the National Archives followed by 14 years at the Library of Congress. He is the author of several reference books and numerous articles. Dr. Grim recently edited "Images of the World," a history of the atlas and serves on the editorial board for "Mercator’s World" magazine.

I watched the first lecture this week and hope to view the next two soon. I’ll probably skip the last one since I do not have German ancestors although I suspect that particular lecture will be valuable to many people. The videotapes were recorded "live" as Ronald Grim stood at a lectern and delivered these talks to a live audience. One camera was used to record the lectures; there is no accompanying background music and no fancy use of video graphics. There’s no Hollywood pizzazz. To be blunt, these videos are obviously homemade. But the information presented is top notch, and anyone interested in learning more about maps will overlook the lack of polish. Dr. Grim covers his topics well, often addressing a subject in great detail.

These lectures are clearly intended for anyone with United States ancestry. Canadians may find some value in them, but I don’t think the lectures will be very useful for anyone outside of North America. The tapes are apparently available only in NTSC format, so they won’t play properly on the TV systems in use in most other countries anyway.

You won’t find these videotapes at Blockbuster. However, you can purchase them by mail order for $35.00. That price includes all four lectures on two video cassettes plus printed lecture handouts. You also need to add in $3.00 per video for postage. Discounts are available if you buy multiple copies. The videotapes are produced by the Family History Society of Arizona, which also handles all the orders. Profits from the sale of the videos will be divided equally between the non-profit Family History Society of Arizona, Inc. and the non-profit Philip Lee Phillips Society, a support group of friends for the Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

The tapes can be ordered from FHSA Video, P.O. Box 63094, Phoenix, AZ, 85082-3094. Forfurther information, send an e-mail to Linda Swain at: lindaswain@aol.com


- HTMLGenie

I had a chance to use the demo version of a brand-new program this week: HTMLGenie for Windows 95 by Bryan Duchesne is a program that uses a GEDCOM file as input and creates HTML output of that file. Almost all genealogy programs can create GEDCOM files. Using your favorite genealogy program for everyday tasks, you can use HTMLGenie to create reports for your personal World Wide Web home page. This allows you to easily post information about your ancestry on the World Wide Web. Of course, you are not limited to posting information about your own ancestors. You can also use HTMLGenie to produce Web pages for a one-name study or for a study of all the early families of one town or one county.

HTMLGenie can create four different types of HTML reports: Descendancy List, Modified Register Report, Family Record Report and Ahnentafel List. It has many formatting options as well. Once the reports are generated in HTML format, you can upload any or all of them to your personal home page where they will be visible to other online genealogists around the world.

In addition, HTMLGenie functions as a GEDCOM viewer that permits browsing of a database. You can easily view individual and family data, including notes. You might find this useful when trying to analyze someone else’s GEDCOM database.

HTMLGenie says that it requires Windows 95, but I had no problems operating the demo version under Windows NT 4.0. It will not operate under Windows 3.1, however. I obtained the demo version on CompuServe’s Genealogy Forum although I suspect that it also available on other online systems.

The demo version is limited to only looking at the sample database included within the demo. You cannot import your own GEDCOM files until the program registration fee has been paid. Registration costs $29.95 U.S. funds. You can register directly with the author (add in an extra $1.00 for return postage and handling). CompuServe members will find it faster and cheaper to register online at GO SWREG. Anyone outside the U.S. will especially appreciate this online registration since it also takes care of the problem of converting money to U.S. funds. Once online in the SWREG area, enter registration number 15955. Your registration key will be sent by e-mail within 24 hours.


- Halberts/Burke’s Peerage Back In Court

Halberts of Bath, Ohio is infamous in genealogy circles in the United States. The company has been in U.S. courts a number of times because of legal actions by the U.S. postal authorities based on thousands of consumer complaints. I am aware of court actions against Halberts in 1988 and again in 1995.

Halberts sells a mass-merchandised book called "The World Book of xxx" in which the letters xxx are replaced by a surname. These books contain a bit of basic material on how to research a family tree, followed by pages of telephone listings of people with a particular surname. In November, 1995, Halberts’ parent company agreed to a cease-and-desist order, admitting that their advertising falsely represented that "(1) a solicitation for a surname-related product was sent by a relative of the solicitee; (2) a relative of a solicitee was involved in preparing a surname-related publication; or that (3) a relative of a solicitee endorses a surname-related product."

But that didn’t stop Halberts; they simply changed a few words in their ads and kept on promoting the same products. In the August 12, 1996 edition of this newsletter I wrote a rather lengthy review about "The World Book of Eastmans" sold by Halberts. The advertising I received in 1996 claimed ""Each Heirloom Edition Eastman Directory is virtually handmade to order....". This was an interesting choice of words. Each book obviously was indeed handmade; the copy I received looked like it was hurriedly assembled on someone’s dining room table! The same book described a "family coat of arms," ignoring the fact that there really is no such thing. It also neglected to mention that the particular Eastman coat of arms drawn in the book was not issued until more than 100 years after the claimed progenitor of the Eastman family in North America had left England.

For a bit of background, the address in Bath, Ohio is simply a mail drop. Bath residents on CompuServe’s Genealogy Forum have told me that there is no company named Halberts at 3687 Ira Road, Bath, Ohio 44210. I called Directory Assistance this week, and they could not find a telephone listing for Halberts anywhere in the Area Code that serves Bath. Apparently all the mail sent to Halberts at that address is bundled up and forwarded to the parent company: Numa Corporation in nearby Akron. Numa Corporation has offices at 1566 Akron Peninsula Road, Akron. Their telephone number is (330) 923-5000 and the FAX is (330) 923-5595. Numa, operating under the name of Halberts, has been flooding the United States with advertisements for their "World Books" for years and has recently expanded operations into many other countries as well.

Burke’s Peerage is a company in England that used to have impeccable credentials. Founded in the 1820s, the company was well-known for their scholarly publication of "Burke's Peerage and Baronetcy." This book traced the ancestry of almost every person with a title in the United Kingdom and was updated regularly. But hard times arrived at Burke’s, and the company was sold in the 1980s. The name Burke’s Peerage (without the words "and Baronetcy") was sold to a Mr. Brooks-Baker and an associate in Brooks Marketing for use in "genealogical and title research." Mr. Brooks-Baker obviously is connected with Numa as he immediately started advertising the British version of Halbert’s mass-produced telephone listings under the Burke’s Peerage banner. The Burke’s Peerage "books" selling in England today are almost identical to the Halberts books sold in the U.S. and Canada.

The London Daily Telegraph ran an article on August 20, 1997 about a new wrinkle in Numa’s ongoing legal problems: the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in England has ordered Burke’s Peerage to stop its false advertising. Telegraph reporter Alison Boshoff wrote that "Burke’s Peerage was told to seek advice about its genealogical claims today after it offered a retired Wiltshire school teacher a family coat of arms which does not exist."

The article goes on at some length about the experiences of Mr. Peter Knee. He received an advertisement from Burke’s with an offer of "a unique coat of arms granted to an early Knee." Mr. Knee, who is interested in genealogy, had previously traced his unusually-named family back to the 1500s. He had never found any Knee with a coat of arms.

He wrote to Burke's Peerage and asked for more information, but the company simply repeated the offer to sell him The Burke's Peerage World Book of Knees containing the disputed coat of arms. Then Mr. Knee contacted the College of Arms in London who confirmed that no Knee had ever had a Grant of Arms. Nor was there any record of a Knee making unofficial use of a coat of arms. Mr. Knee complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the offer. It upheld his complaint in an adjudication published this past week.

Burke's Peerage had contended that the coat of arms offered was a "variation of the surname Neville" from which Knee, it said, was derived. But the ASA said that Burke's had not "adequately supported" the claim that the Knee surname had been granted a coat of arms. The authority found that the derivation was not proved. The College of Arms said that a coat of arms was granted to a specific family as its property and did not have a general application to others who nearly shared the same name. The authority told Burke's peerage to remove the claim from future mailings and to seek guidance from its free advertising copy service about its strategy.

Mr. Knee was quoted as saying, " It was complete rubbish. A lot of people would be very excited to have some kind of connection like this and probably buy the book for their coat of arms, but I have done my own research. The Knee family is based in West Wiltshire and around Stroud in Gloucestershire. It is unusual because it is a small family and quite easy to trace. If you go back to the start of records around 1500, you find that we were humble agricultural labourers. There is no evidence that we owned property, let alone anything else. I was pretty unhappy about the offer because I felt that it was a bit of a con, especially after I talked to the College of Arms about it."

A spokesman for the ASA, which has upheld three other complaints against Burke's Peerage recently, said, " As with any direct mailing exercise where people are asked to part with money, we would always urge people to find out exactly what they are going to get. People should always do their own research wherever possible."

The London Daily Telegraph also reports that the Numa Corporation in Ohio holds the license to use the name Burke's Peerage in the Burke's Peerage World Book of xxx series. It was the Numa Corporation, trading as Burke's Peerage, which sent the direct mail to Mr. Knee.

My thanks to Peter Thomas for letting me know about the Daily Telegraph article.


- Genealogy Forum In Big Sky Country

The Yellowstone Genealogy Forum will host their 20th Anniversary Seminar at the Clarion Hotel in Billings, Montana on September 26 and 27, 1997. The featured speaker is Curt B. Witcher, the manager of the Historical Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Curt is a well-known genealogy expert who lectures frequently. His topics will be on Midwest Research - Illinois & Wisconsin Emphasis, Military Records, Passenger & Immigration Records, Periodicals, and Death Records.

The seminar starts Friday night and continues all day Saturday. For details, contact Athna May Porter at: porter@imt.net


- Genealogy Databases Worthless?

The MS-NBC Web site recently added a feature article called "Embarking up your family tree." The article gives a very quick introduction to genealogy followed by a brief description of the three most popular genealogy programs for Windows. Reading the article with great interest, I found that I disagreed with much of what was in it. I doubt if the author has spent much time doing genealogy research. The author leans towards some features in the software that are not important to me and ignored some of the features that I consider to be critical (such as keeping track of sources of information).

One paragraph really caught my eye. After describing both online and CD-ROM databases containing references to millions of people, the article stated:

"But, in truth, these libraries aren’t much help. Despite the hype and hyperbole, these [online and CD-ROM] databases are next to useless for most people. The difference between 200 million and 300 million entries is microscopic when you consider the billions of people who have populated the world."

There’s a lot of truth in that statement, but there are a number of issues surrounding this view that are less obvious yet worth considering. To read the article in its entirety, look at: http://www.msnbc.com/news/103298.asp. You might want to hurry; I don’t know how long MS-NBC keeps their articles online.


- CompuServe Introduces Flat Rate Pricing

CompuServe Interactive issued a news release on Wednesday announcing that it will introduce a $24.95 per month flat-rate pricing option in the United States and Canada. The plan provides unlimited access to the Internet plus the CompuServe Interactive service for this flat rate. Both the Genealogy Forum and the Genealogy Vendors’ Support Forum on CompuServe will be included in the new flat rate.

As forum manager for the two genealogy forums on CompuServe I am obviously biased. But I think this is good news for both CompuServe and its members. CompuServe has always enjoyed a reputation as being the online system for professionals and serious hobbyists. The new pricing plan will attract even more serious genealogists than those already online there.

The company said it will make the pricing option available only to U.S. and Canadian subscribers as of October 1. "We want to take care of current subscribers and those who join by October 1 before making this option available to a broader customer base," the company statement said.

If you want to take advantage of this new price, Canadian and U.S. residents can call 1-800-848-8990 or look at: http://www.compuserve.com. Anyone outside of North America can look at http://world.compuserve.com/cs/csintl.asp to find the CompuServe Customer Service number in a number of other countries.


- President Clinton Announces "Honorable Ancestors" Program

US President Bill Clinton announced the Project of Millennium last week. It heralds the beginning of preparations for celebrations of the year 2000. Speaking at the Marble Hall of the National Archives, President Clinton said that this would be an excellent opportunity to pay tribute to the past and think about the future.

Many events to be held on a nationwide scale have been planned for the Project of the Millennium, which will be headed by First Lady Hillary Clinton. One project that caught my eye was a presidential commission for fine arts that will attend to the program entitled "Honorable Ancestors," the aim of which is to maintain national traditions. The announcement did not provide any further details about the new "Honorable Ancestors" program, but I’ll be watching this one.

Other programs included in the Project of Millennium include the development of national standards of progress in school curriculum and connection of all school libraries to the Internet computer network. The National Humanitarian Fund will act as a sponsor of a TV series, "Minutes of the Millennium," which will be devoted to the most important events of the past ten centuries. The National Arts Fund will send groups of photo journalists all over the country to take pictures of America and Americans on the threshold of the next millennium. Another important task is to ensure safety of all the most important documents, such as Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

President Clinton announced all of this as part of the celebration of the new millennium starting January 1, 2000. I have one question: Hasn’t anyone told him that the new millennium begins one year later, on January 1, 2001?

The year 2000 is the last year of the twentieth century. The year 2001 is the first year of the twenty-first century. Check it out in any standard reference.


- 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:

New Hampshire Historical Society: http://newww.com/org/nhhs/

New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages – This excellent Web site tells how to obtain records and gives a wealth of background information. Note that the actual records are not available online, you need to contact the Registry. For all the details look at: http://www.agd.nsw.gov.au/bdm/

Southwest Georgia Genealogical Society covering the following counties: Baker, Ben Hill, Calhoun, Clay, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Irwin, Lee, Marion, Miller, Mitchell, Quitman, Randolph, Schley,Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Webster, Wilcox, and Worth: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Meadows/7746/swggs/

Webster County (KY) obituaries dating from early 1940's to 1960's are now online. An every-person index has been prepared by the compiler and is available for download. This index is estimated to contain 10,000 to 15,000 names from more than 1700 obituaries: http://www.dsenter.com/~cpalmer/obits/obits.htm

Descendants of John Legett who was transported to Princess Anne County, Virginia in 1669. Also includes information about the LEGGETT- L mailing list: http://www.angelfire.com/tx/royc/

Vining surname in the U.S.: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/plains/3863/

Higginson Book Company, a well-known book company is now went on-line with over 7,200 books in their catalog: http://www.coast-resources.com/higginson/

A database of RITTER, PAGE, & DAVIS who all resided in North Carolina at one time. It also contains a database of DAVIS, CANNON. COLEMAN & MASSEY who all resided in Freestone County, Texas. An article about the early history of Freestone County written about 1925 is also on the page: http://www.pflash.com/USERS/lwr/index.htm

Bucklew Family Association, dedicated to the research of the family name Bucklew, and all variations of the spelling of the name: http://w3.one.net/~jradams

Genealogy of Hezekiah Hoar and related families: http://pages.prodigy.net/hoard/HezekiahHoar.htm

Latey surname and its variants (Laity, Laty, Laytie etc.): http://members.aol.com/jehill1/latey10.htm

"Correlations: Warren County, Tennessee 1850 Census Database Project" includes a complete transcription of the 1850 census in comma-delimited format and a GEDCOM file with family connections: http://members.aol.com/APTurner/wctnhome.htm

Melcher surname, mostly descendents of Edward Melcher, a baker of Portsmouth, NH in 1658: http://www.magpage.com/~tdoherty/m-web.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 newsletter.


f you would like to submit news, information or press releases for possible inclusion in future newsletters, send them to richard@eastman.net. The author does reserve the right to accept or reject any articles submitted.


DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is being written and sent via e-mail at no charge. I expect to write one new issue on a more or less weekly basis. However, life sometimes interferes, and the need to earn a living may create an occasional delay.


COPYRIGHTS: While the contents of this newsletter are copyright by Richard W. Eastman and by Ancestry Publishing and by others so designated, you are hereby granted rights, unless otherwise specified, to re-distribute articles from this newsletter to other parties provided you do so strictly for non-commercial purposes. Please limit your re-distribution to one or two articles per newsletter; do not re-distribute the newsletter in its entirety. Also, please include the following words with any articles you re-distribute:

The following article is from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 1997 by Richard W. Eastman and Ancestry, Inc. It is re-published here with the permission of the author.

Thank you for your cooperation.


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About the author: Dick Eastman is the forum manager of the Genealogy Forum on CompuServe and is the author of "YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer" published by Ziff-Davis Press.