Note: The information in this archived copy was accurate on the date of publication. Since then, Web sites have appeared and disappeared, companies have been merged and many other facts have changed. You may find references in this archived copy that are no loner accurate.
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Vol. 4 No. 47 Nov. 20, 1999
This newsletter is sponsored by Ancestry Publishing,
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Copyright © 1999 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:
- LDS FamilySearch.org To Add 240 Million New Names
- LDS FamilySearch.org To Add 240 Million New Names
There hasnt been any official announcement, but two Salt Lake City newspapers report that the Mormons popular online Web site will add a lot more records to their online database on Monday. The addition of 240 million new names will mean that a total of 640 million records will now be available at http://www.familysearch.org.
In addition, FamilySearch plans early next year to index the new Pedigree Resource File (PRF), a database of family history records being uploaded to the site by users. Only the index is expected to be online. The files containing PRF data will be available on a set of CD-ROM disks. The PRF, already listing more than 5 million names, is projected to grow at the rate of 1.2 million names per month.
Full details are available at: http://www.sltrib.com/1999/nov/11161999/utah/47672.htm and at http://www.desnews.com/cgi-bin/libstory_reg?dn99&9911150026
- Virginia Grants Online Database
Steve Knoblock has obviously been toiling on a labor of love. He has created an online database listing land grant records as originally abstracted in Northern Neck Grant Books. The database is available free of charge on the Web.
The original hand-written Northern Neck Grant Books fill 37 volumes. These records were abstracted some years ago and published by the Fairfax County government in a single volume called "Beginning at a white Oak. Patents and Northern Neck Grants of Fairfax County, Virginia." The book is now out of print, and there are no plans to republish it. Steve Knoblock has been manually entering each abstract into a spreadsheet on his computer; the index fields from this spreadsheet are now available on Steves Web site. The database is searchable by name, surname, grant date, grant book and issuer.
I decided to try this for myself. I first searched for my own surname but didnt find any listings. I guess the family never made it to that part of Virginia. I then tried some more common surnames and found lots of results. Here is one such listing:
With this information I can look at the original grant books, either in person or on a rented microfilm copy. I should be able to quickly find the full record as recorded by the clerks in 1779. The data usually found in the books would include the name, surname, tract size, date of grant, grant book, grant issuer and the surveyor's description.
The home site for the search is at: http://whiteoak.home.att.net/index.html. Grant Books and the search are available at: http://whiteoak.home.att.net/landgrant/nn_grant_books.html while direct access to the database is at: http://www.city-gallery.com/whiteoak/landgrant.cgi
- Acadian-Cajun Family Trees
Progeny Software of Wolfville, Nova Scotia has released a new Windows CD-ROM disk: "Acadian-Cajun Family Trees." I had a chance to use the disk this week and really enjoyed it. You see, I have quite a bit of Acadian ancestry, and I found lots of ancestors on this one. The data looks good, and the user interface is nice as well.
"Acadian-Cajun Family Trees" is not a simple collection of old records copied onto CD-ROM. Instead, it is a true lineage-linked database. The database is searchable, with almost each person listed linked to a spouse as well as to children and (usually) to parents. Software included on the CD-ROM allows the user to generate printed ancestor, descendant and fan style charts, just like previous Progeny software versions. A new feature in this release is the capability to also generate a GEDCOM file from the data on the CD-ROM. You can create a GEDCOM file of the data you see on screen and then later import the GEDCOM file into any modern genealogy program. This feature can save a lot of keystrokes. You do not need to obtain any additional software in order to use this CD-ROM disk; all software is included for operation on a Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT system.
The "Acadian-Cajun Family Trees" CD-ROM disk contains over 600,000 lineage-linked, family history records of Acadian descendants. Yvon Cyr collected these records at his popular Web site, http://www.Acadian.org. Many people contributed their GEDCOM files of Acadian ancestors from Acadia and from Louisiana. Yvon Cyr then combined them into one huge database. Cyrs database became the foundation for Progeny Softwares "Acadian-Cajun Family Trees" CD-ROM. The CD-ROM contains the names of all the contributors.
This CD-ROM is believed to be the largest database of Acadian genealogy anywhere in electronic form. Like any other collection of GEDCOM files, you must treat the information as POSSIBILITES, not as proven fact. Many people contributed the information. Some of these people are genealogy experts while others are probably beginners. You can expect some variations in data accuracy. It isnt practical for Yvon Cyr or for anyone else to go through and verify each and every one of the 600,000+ records contained on this disk. The information is presented "as is" and the user must validate each record presented through independent means. Nonetheless, this is a valuable resource for anyone with Acadian ancestry.
Installation of the software was simple: insert the CD-ROM disk, double-click on SETUP.EXE and then follow the on-screen instructions. A minute or so later the software was installed. While the software installs to your hard disk, the data remains on the CD-ROM disk.
Many genealogy CD-ROM disks these days do not have users manuals. I was pleasantly surprised to find a small, 16-page users manual inside the "Acadian-Cajun Family Trees" jewel case. This manual describes the disks contents, tells how to install the software, and even gives information on how to contact the disks compiler, Yvon Cyr.
I decided to pick one of my Acadian ancestors at random: Germain Theriault, born in Acadia in 1647. I entered his name into the search program. To my surprise, the software found 25 records for men of that name! Some of these records may be duplicates, but it does point out the French families tendency to use names over and over throughout several generations. I had to click on each record in order to view the details. Luckily, this didnt require much effort. I quickly found the man I was looking for. Not only was his information shown, but the names of his parents and his wife and his children were also shown. To view the details of any of them, all I had to do was double-click on their names. At any time I was able to print family data on paper and also export it as a GEDCOM file.
The GEDCOM file output is an excellent feature. You can easily find a family or multiple connected families and then export them in GEDCOM format. Then you can import this GEDCOM file into your favorite genealogy program. You do not have to re-type all the information.
I will remind you to never import GEDCOM files into your primary database. Instead, create a new, empty database and import the GEDCOM file into that. Spend some time and effort validating the information shown in this second database. Once you are satisfied with data accuracy, you can always import the data into your primary database later. That should be true of any modern genealogy program.
All in all, Id rate the "Acadian-Cajun Family Trees" CD-ROM disk as excellent. Id say this even if it didnt list about a hundred of my ancestors! While all the data needs to be verified, this CD-ROM is a "must have" for anyone researching Acadian ancestry. I know it has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf. I plan to spend a lot of time with it in the next few weeks.
One unique item is the connection of Progeny Software with Acadian ancestry. The company is located in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, in the heart of the territory formerly known as Acadia. In fact, company headquarters is about three miles from the point of the Expulsion.
The "Acadian-Cajun Family Trees" CD-ROM sells for $39.95 U.S. funds. Please add an extra $5.00 for shipping to U.S. addresses. The company maintains offices in both Canada and the United States, which simplifies shipping arrangements. Further information is available at: http://www.progenysoftware.com/Acadian_Cajun.html
- Heritage Quest Adds 1820 and 1830 U.S. Census CD-ROM Disks
Heritage Quest has been producing their "Digital Microfilm" CD-ROM disks for some months. These are actual images of original, handwritten census records that are scanned and placed on CD-ROM disks. You can read my review of the earlier CD-ROM disks in the May 11, 1999 edition of this newsletter at http://www.ancestry.com/columns/eastman/eastmay11-99.htm
This week Heritage Quest announced the latest additions: the 1820 and 1830 U.S. Census records are now available. These join the previously-available CD-ROM disks covering census years 1790, 1800, 1810, 1870 and 1900. The company says that more than 153 million Americans are now documented in more than 4,000 Family Quest Archives Digital Microfilm CDs. The massive U.S. Census Digitization Project has scanned over 2.9 million pages of the census to date.
Each CD-ROM disk costs $19.95. Shipping is free to U.S. addresses. Members of Heritage Quests Research Club get a $5.00 discount on each Census CD-ROM disk. Full details are available at: http://www.heritagequest.com/genealogy/CD-ROM/
- More on Latitudes and Longitudes
In the June 22, 1999 edition of this newsletter, available at: http://www.ancestry.com/columns/eastman/eastjune22-99.htm, I wrote about the desirability of recording longitudes and latitudes in every genealogy reference, along with traditional street addresses. In that article I described several methods of finding the geographic coordinates in the United States, including the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN). This online database contains information about almost 2 million physical and cultural geographic features in the United States. The Federally recognized name of each feature described in the database is identified and backed by references to each feature's state, county, latitude and longitude.
I also described the use of an inexpensive handheld GPS satellite navigation receiver to measure the latitude and longitude of any place that you might visit in person. This week, however, I read about a lower-cost method to locate any place in the U.S., whether or not you visit in person and whether or not it is listed in the governments database. I say it is "cheaper" because all it requires is a computer and Internet access. I assume that all readers of this newsletter have already made that investment. If not, your local library probably offers free Web access.
Writing in this months QST Magazine, a publication for ham radio operators, Richard F. Gillette described the use of online street maps to determine longitudes and latitudes. To be sure, there are quite a few free street map Web sites available nowadays. However, MapsOnUS.com seems to be the only one with easy display of geographic coordinates.
When you go to the MapsOnUS Web site, the first screen you see asks for your User ID and password. However, look to the left a bit and click on the MAPS icon in the section called "Guest Users Start Here;" you dont need to register to find latitudes and longitudes. Next you will be prompted for a street address, city, state and ZIP. If you do not have all that information, simply enter whatever you do have. Just the name of a city and state will start off with a map drawn on the center of that city. You can then pan in any direction to find specific locations within that city.
I entered my own street address, and a few seconds later I was looking at a map of my neighborhood. Next I zoomed in and out and panned until I could locate my house. Then I zoomed in again and again until I was looking at the exact location. Finally, I placed the mouse on the location in question, clicked once and the screen repainted. At the bottom of the screen I saw numbers. While not labeled, these are the latitude and longitude of the exact location that I had just clicked on. The negative number indicates degrees West; the positive number indicates the degrees North. What can be simpler?
For some people, the decimal number is sufficient. Others will prefer to read in the normal degrees, minutes and seconds method. The decimal portion can be converted to minutes by multiplying by 60. Likewise, the decimal minutes can be converted to seconds by again multiplying by 60. For instance, -88.115564 42.23384 indicates 88.115564 degrees West, 42.23384 degrees North. Starting with the longitude, multiply the decimal only by 60 (0.115564 X 60 = 6.9338 minutes). The result is 88 degrees 6.9338 minutes. Multiplying the decimal part of the minutes by 60 (0.9338 X 60 = 56.0304 seconds) results in a longitude of 88º 6' 56" West. The same exercise can be done on the latitude.
As I wrote in the June 22, 1999 edition of this newsletter:
The MapsOnUS Web site is available at: http://MapsOnUS.com
I used to look for genealogy materials for sale on eBay, the big online auction service. Some months ago I found a couple of old books about my family listed for sale on eBay, books that I had wanted for years. The prices werent cheap, but I gladly snatched them up. eBay can be a very useful service for genealogists. There are other online auction sites too, and it is a good idea to check them as well.
Six months ago it was easy to do this; go to eBay and spend 1 or 2 minutes looking at all the genealogy books, CD-ROM disks and other such materials listed. However, eBay and all the other auction sites have become very popular in recent months. This week I went to eBay and did a search on the word "genealogy." That search returned 1,068 items! Searching through them one by one can take a long time. Likewise, instead of the 3 or 4 other auction sites previously available, now there are a dozen or more. I simply dont have the time to search them all.
Ferret Software recently released a software tool that allows fast searches of all the auction sites: AuctionFerret. I downloaded it this week and instantly fell in love with it. I can now search all the auction sites in a few minutes instead of hours.
With AuctionFerret, I can enter search criteria and choose to locate auctions containing all keywords, any keyword, the exact phrase, or a Boolean expression. I can check off individual sites or query up to 12 different auction sites. The system scans and lists any matches in a window. I found that I could click on any item in the list, and my browser then retrieved the details page for that auction from the host site. Other features include proxy settings, filters, a maximum number of results per search, and a very good help file.
AuctionFerret searches the following auction sites:
I did a search for anything with the word "genealogy" in the listing; the program took about two minutes to find more than 1,200 such listings. I then narrowed the search, trying to find references to materials about my surname; I entered "genealogy and Eastman." The search was shorter, about a minute or so. AuctionFerret did find a half dozen listings that had both the word "genealogy" and the word "Eastman" in them. Unfortunately, they were all references to software or CD-ROM disks previously reviewed in this newsletter! In the descriptions of each of these items the seller had written "reviewed in Eastmans Online Genealogy Newsletter" or something similar. Oh well, it proves that AuctionFerret is working properly.
Of course, you are not limited to surnames. You can also search by "genealogy and Virginia" or "Hispanic genealogy" or whatever else you want. Obviously you are not limited to genealogy searches either, you can search for Pokemon cards or automobiles or whatever else you want. Heck, AuctionFerret even found a bright blue 1/18th scale model of a Mazda Miata MX-5 sports car, the same color as my full-sized Miata. You can bet I entered a bid on that one!
The best part of AuctionFerret is its price: free. Ad banners display while searching support the program. A Pro version without ad banners will be released in January. However, I think the free version looks just fine.
For more information, or to download AuctionFerret, go to: http://www.ferretsoft.com
- Ancestry.com, Inc. Changes Corporate Name to MyFamily.com, Inc.
Its not often that I read about genealogy in the New York Times. Much less, I dont think I have ever seen a full-page ad for genealogy products in that newspaper. This week I saw both. On page C5 of last Wednesdays New York Times, a full-page ad asked the question, "Looking for a company with a solid customer base?" The ad thensuggested, "How about anyone who was ever born."
The advertisement went on to announce a new name change and corporate focus for the company formally known as Ancestry.com, Inc.. The ad obviously is aimed at corporations looking for advertising space on popular Web sites. The ad also proclaimed, "Were growing fast."
As part of the announcement, the company is changing its name to MyFamily.com, Inc.. The company will still operate its three major Web sites: MyFamily.com, Ancestry.com, and FamilyHistory.com.
Later in the day, the company issued a press release that said (in part):
- RootsWeb WorldConnect Project Launched
RootsWeb issued the following press release this week:
- Genealogy.com Awards 10 Scholarships to Budding Genealogists
The following is an announcement from Genealogy.com, LLC:
- Paper Roots
Another weekly genealogy newsletter appeared for the first time this week.
Hobson Woodward is producing a one-page publication called "Paper Roots, A Weekly Round-Up of Genealogy in the News." Although the name says "Paper Roots" it is indeed available in digital form on the Web. Hobson described his newsletter:
I read this weeks edition and found that it is a collection of quite different items. For instance, this edition says that "Detroit Pistons center Bison Dele told associates he will retire from the NBA and forfeit an annual salary of $5.67 million. Dele changed his name from Brian Williams prior to last season after researching his family history."
Since newsletter author Hobson and I both live fairly close to Boston, I was amused by another reference: "Chicago Tribune writer Phil Rogers, noting that the Boston Red Sox have not won a World Series since 1918, explained a ruckus by fans during a championship game this way: These people have 81 years of frustration dripping off their family trees."
"Paper Roots: A Weekly Round-Up of Genealogy in the News" by Hobson Woodward is available by e-mail. To subscribe to Paper Roots, send an email with the words "add to list" in the subject and text fields to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Web site giving further details can be found at: can be seenhttp://people.ne.mediaone.net/ehwoodward/paperroots.html
- A Few Days Left: Best Genealogy Site on the Web
Last week I announced the third annual contest for the title of "Best Genealogy Site on the Web." Im glad to report that the e-mail votes are coming in fast and furious. The number of votes received so far seems higher than last year at this time.
The polls will close on November 25, so I urge you to cast your vote now. In case you forgot about it, heres a copy of the article published last week:
- 1918 Flu Victims Hold Clues to Fight Virus
This may seem macabre, but it will save lives: Tissue samples taken from the frozen corpses of victims of the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak that killed up to 40 million people may give scientists ammunition to help avert another worldwide epidemic. Virologists at an international conference said Tuesday that influenza RNA from the frozen samples would allow them to decipher the genetic code of the deadly virus that caused this century's worst pandemic.
Spanish flu, coming at the end of World War One, killed more people than had died in the fighting, and researchers say it is just a matter of time before another catastrophic outbreak strikes Tissue samples taken from the brain, kidney, lungs and spleen of six young coal miners, whose bodies were found in the Arctic permafrost on Norway's Spitzbergen island about 800 miles from the North Pole, showed the virus had spread throughout their bodies.
Comparisons with lung tissue preserved from an American flu victim and a woman buried in Alaskan permafrost also indicated that the virus was related but had evolved differently in the United States and in Europe.
- Man Finds Mother After 55 Years
Are you having difficulty finding information about your ancestors? Think about the search that Michael Brandstetter has just completed. Michael lives in Austria. He became separated from his mother 55 years ago during World War Two. He started looking for her two years ago. "I had not counted on finding her alive," Michael told Reuters.
As a young prisoner of war in 1942, Brandstetter's mother was transported from Ukraine to Austria, where she was forced to work as a laborer in a Lower Austrian inn. Brandstetter, 56, was split from his mother and younger sister when still a toddler. "I was taken to hospital suffering from scarlet fever and diphtheria...and they then told her I was dead," he said. His mother returned to Ukraine in 1945, while a local family adopted young Brandstetter.
Fifty-three years later, Brandstetter contacted many agencies in his search for his long-lost parent. The Austrian Red Cross tracing service found his mother as well as his sister in a Ukrainian village last year. Last Wednesday Brandstetter was reunited with his sister and their 82-year-old mother in Lower Austria. The family will spend the next two weeks together before mother and sister return to Ukraine.
- From the Mailbox
In the November 6, 1999 edition of this newsletter, I wrote that several readers had reported success in the fight against "spam mail" by using a free service called Spam Cop. This was done via a Web site at http://www.spamcop.com. Unfortunately, this week the SpamCop Web site disappeared. Several readers reported that attempts to go to that site resulted in error messages of "Unable to locate the server: www.spamcop.com."
- The Key To Staying Young: Simple Tastes
The key to staying young is all in the mind and simple tastes, according to Ireland's oldest citizen. "I feel just the same as I did when I was 20," said Bridget Dirrane from Galway in west Ireland, just after her 105th birthday on Sunday. "Natural, simple foods, lots of greens, fish fresh from the sea and lots of plain water are the secret," she said of her longevity.
Born on the windswept Aran Islands of Ireland's west coast in 1894, Dirrane has witnessed some of the key events in Ireland's history -- and America's. She was in her 20s when she mixed with leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising revolt against British rule that later led to the country's partition, and was jailed during the War of Independence.
After emigrating to the United States in 1927, she later canvassed for former president John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. She returned to Ireland in 1966.
- 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:
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.
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 newsletters online discussion group on CompuServes Genealogy Techniques Forum. 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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About the author: Dick Eastman is the forum manager of the four Genealogy Forums on CompuServe. He also is the author of "YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer" published by Ziff-Davis Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org