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  • 29 Oct 2020 9:22 AM | Anonymous

    Do you or someone you know have lots of files saved on floppy disks? A lady contacted me recently and asked how she could read her old floppy disks that she had saved from many years ago. It seems her present computer does not have a floppy disk drive in it. I suggested she do something NOW to save the disks. Before long, floppy disks will be about as useful as buggy whips.

    Actually, there are THREE separate problems:

    The first problem is that floppy disks were never designed for long-term storage for years and years. The manufacturers usually stated ten to twenty years' life expectancy for floppies if they were stored in ideal conditions. A typical residence isn't ideal.

    In addition, floppy disks have always been highly sensitive to dust, condensation and temperature extremes. As with any magnetic storage, it is also vulnerable to magnetic fields. If the disk isn't stored in optimum conditions, the data will disappear because of these vulnerabilities. In many cases, data will disappear from floppies in much less than ten years.

    The second problem is the one my correspondent mentioned: she no longer owns a floppy disk drive. In fact, most manufacturers stopped including floppy disk drives on new computers years ago. Luckily, you can still purchase external, “plug-in” floppy disk drives today although they are becoming rare.

    If possible, see if someone you know owns an older computer that includes both a floppy disk drive and some method of copying information from floppy disks to some other media. Possibilities are to transfer across a network, transfer on the Internet, copy to a flash drive, or maybe to "burn" to a CD-ROM.

    If you cannot find an older computer, you can purchase an external USB floppy drive that plugs into the USB port of most any modern Windows or Macintosh computer. The drives typically cost $10 to perhaps $30. You can see a selection of USB 3 1/2-inch floppy disk drives for sale today at

    If you have an even older 5-1/4-inch floppy, your search will be more difficult. Very few of the older disk drives were ever manufactured with a USB connection. However, if you are willing to open the computer and bolt in an internal floppy drive, you might still be able to find a few on eBay.

    The third, and possibly the biggest, problem of all is the information stored on the disk. Even if the data has not disappeared, and even if you can copy the files to more modern media, can you find a program today that will read the files created by a program ten or twenty years ago? For instance, if you have files created by Roots 3 (a popular genealogy program of the 1980s), you will have difficulty finding any program today that will read information stored in that old format. To my knowledge, Roots 3 files can only be read by Roots 3 or later versions of the same program. Unfortunately, no program today can read Roots 3 files. The same is true for data saved in old versions of Personal Ancestral File, Family Tree Maker, or genealogy programs that have since disappeared from the marketplace, such as The Family Edge or Generations Grande Suite.

    My advice:

    1. Copy the files NOW! Whatever is stored on a floppy disk may disappear at any time. Save it while you can. Copy the files to modern media.

    2. Attempt to open the files with a modern word processor or genealogy program or even a simple ASCII file viewer, such as Windows Notepad. If you are lucky, you may be able to read the information.

    3. If you cannot read the files, post messages on online forums asking for assistance from anyone who still has an old computer with the old software installed. For instance, if you find someone who still has Roots3 installed on a computer someplace (and if they also have the optional Roots 3 program that creates GEDCOM files), they could import your data and then export it in GEDCOM format. The information then can be read by any modern genealogy program.

    Whatever you do, don't get trapped in the obsolescence problems again. Copy your data often to whatever new media has recently become available.

  • 29 Oct 2020 9:09 AM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

    I recently received an email message from a reader of this newsletter in which she bemoaned the quality of genealogy information found on the Internet. She went on at some length to say that the information found online is full of inaccuracies, is posted by people who don't know what they are doing, and that "all genealogy information found on the Internet should never be trusted."

    I was sympathetic to what she wrote until that last part. NEVER be trusted?

    I will be the first to agree that there is a lot of inaccurate SECONDARY information on the Internet. But let's not overlook the fact that the Internet also brings us images of ORIGINAL source records as well.

    Want to see the record of your great-great-grandparents in the U.S. Census? Click with your mouse and look at the IMAGE of the original entry without leaving your home. Want to see a naturalization record? IMAGES of many of them are available online. Would you like to see granddad's World War I Draft registration form that lists information about parents? The IMAGE of the original document is available online. Want to see an obituary? Several online services provide IMAGES of the newspaper obituaries. And how about the Southern Claims records, many of which were never available before on microfilm? IMAGES of each record are now available online.

    Yes, the Internet certainly is a mix of good and bad news, but let's not condemn everything. Looking at images of original source records on the Internet makes us better genealogists than those of us who used to be limited only to transcribed (secondary) sources. We have much more information available today than ever before. Some of it is good information, such as IMAGES of original records. Other information found online is questionable, such as secondary information contributed by someone else. Let's not condemn everything simply because some of it is bad.

    We do have an education problem. We need to educate newcomers as to what information is immediately believable versus what information requires independent verification. This education process must be active on all genealogy sites, including this one, and must continue forever as new genealogists join us. However, I will suggest that this requirement for education should not stop us from looking at images of original records.

    There is an old saying that pops to mind, something having to do with babies and bathwater.

    Looking forward ten or twenty years, I suspect that eventually all of us will focus primarily on images of original records, as found on the Internet. As millions and millions of additional images come online, the references we all enjoy will continue to improve. I see that as a great advance in genealogy scholarship.

  • 29 Oct 2020 8:31 AM | Anonymous

    Arielle Pardes has posted an article that perhaps none of us want to think about but perhaps we all should consider the options.

    "A startup called Memories lets you record videos to be sent posthumously—one of many companies seeking to give you more control over your ending.

    "Midway through his thirties, Tom Ainsworth realized he was going to die. Of course, he always knew. Death comes for all of us—those are the rules. But when his own father passed away, in 2011, and then his close friend a few years later, it suddenly hit him over the head like a cartoon anvil. One day he, too, would leave everything he loved behind. Not right away. Or, maybe right away. Who could know? He had to start preparing.

    "In 2014, Ainsworth created a memorial page for his dad on Skymorials, a sort of digital cemetery. “I was one of the first users ever,” Ainsworth says. Now, he’s the CEO. The company, based in Melbourne, Australian, has since rebranded as Memories; its users go there to mourn loved ones on digital memorial pages and offer condolences with things like virtual flowers. (Ainsworth wasn’t sure people would pay money for that until he saw his kids spending egregiously on new Fortnite skins.) Memories also hosts digital “vaults” for living people to store things like precious photos, videos, and life stories, which can be shared after their passing. Kind of like Dropbox but for the dead."

    Think about it. What do YOU want for your end-of-life? You can read the full article at:

  • 29 Oct 2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous
    The following announcement was written by

    Ancestry®️ has been the leader in family history for more than 30 years, developing innovative research tools and adding new content to our unparalleled historical record collections that enable people around the world to discover more about their family’s past. Today, Ancestry is excited to launch the first phase of the™ Marriage Index collection, powered by cutting-edge technology. We trained machine learning algorithms to comb through more than 600 million pages of digitized newspapers to extract and identify key names, relationships and other facts from marriage and engagement announcements in historical newspapers via text classification. 

    Powering More Family History Discoveries

    The Marriage Index collection adds to the world's largest, searchable digital archive of newspaper published historical wedding announcements. Since the early 1800s, newspapers across the country have been publishing rich information about engagements, marriage license applications, wedding announcements, and more. 

    In addition to the names of the couple, these records often provide rich details about family members, including ages, residence and parents’ names. By indexing these data and records in ways that would take humans a great deal of time, we are continuing to empower journeys of personal discovery, and our members can now easily search these indexes with just one click. 

    What You Can Find in the Index

    The first phase of this release contains information from over 200 million records from over 50 million lists and marriage announcements dating from 1800-1999. List marriage announcements were usually a weekly list of couples that had applied for a marriage license that week, and contain basic information about the couple. Non-list marriage announcements might include brief or detailed write-ups with more information about the wedding. We expect the remaining names from the lists and marriage records from 2000-present will be published on Ancestry in 2021. Over the next year, we anticipate completing the collection for a total of up to 300M marriage announcement records from newspapers on

    The first phase of the Marriage Index is now available on Ancestry to all subscribers and the original marriage announcement articles and images are available on Members with a Publisher Extra subscription have a 1-click option to view every full announcement on Some announcements may be accessed with just an Ancestry All Access or Basic subscription. Certain newspapers require a Publisher Extra subscription as certain newspapers require additional licenses to view their content.

    How to Search for a Marriage Record in the Marriage Index collection

    • First, from any page on Ancestry, click on the “Search” tab (located at the top of the page) and select “Card Catalog” from the drop-down menu.
    • Then, on the left side of the page under Filter By Category, click “Birth, Marriage & Death.” 
    • On the left side of the page under Filter by Category again, click “Marriage & Divorce.”
    • From the search results, click “ Marriage Index, 1800s-1999.” 
    • Begin your search by entering a name of someone who was married in 1999 or earlier.
    • Add any additional details you may have available about the individual, such as birth date, wedding date, gender, etc. Every detail increases the likelihood of finding the correct announcement.
    • Hit “Search” and review the records that appear.
    • If you find a record relevant to your family, hit “Save” and add the record to someone in your tree.  
    • Even if you’ve searched for family members in our marriage records collection before, we’re always adding more records to our site, and we encourage you to search again, as you may notice a new record waiting to be explored.

    The Marriage Index collection is available now to help empower even more new family history discoveries. You can begin searching here.

  • 27 Oct 2020 11:26 AM | Anonymous

    Roberta Estes has been a professional scientist and business owner for many years. She also writes a blog that focuses heavily on DNA issues. Now she has written about some bad news from 23andMe. She writes:

    "Did you test with 23andMe prior to August 2017? If you were among the millions of customers who tested in the decade between 2007 and 2017, you tested on the V1-V4 chip.

    "Unfortunately, 23andMe has made the decision to no longer provide ethnicity updates for customers who have NOT tested on the current V5 chip.

    "Moving to the V5 chip is not an upgrade – it’s a completely new test that customers must purchase and spit-to-submit again. This means that if your family member that you purchased a test for died, you’re just out of luck. Too bad – so sad.

    "Last week, 23andMe published this article detailing their new ethnicity improvements. Everyone was excited, but then the article ended with this spoiler at the very bottom."

    You can read at lot more in Roberta Estes'  full article at:

  • 27 Oct 2020 11:13 AM | Anonymous

    The following was written by FamilySearch:

    Discover your heritage in the 1801 Census for Norway this week on FamilySearch, and new Indexes to Massachusetts Town Births, ca. 1630–1905 and Massachusetts Town Deaths, ca. 1640–1961, plus new records for Brazil, Canada, DR Congo, Ecuador, England, Germany, Peru, S. Africa, Venezuela, and other jurisdictions in the US (See Bureau of Land Management Tract Books 1800–ca. 1955, New Jersey Naturalization records from various countries 1905–1944, plus more records for AL, AZ, HI, IA, MS, TX, UT, VA, and WA).

    Search these new records and images by clicking on the collection links below, or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

    The full list is very long, too long to list here. You can find the latest list at:

  • 27 Oct 2020 11:03 AM | Anonymous

    The following is an email message originally posted to the IAJS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, Inc.) email list and is republished here with permission:

    Friday October 23 was the public hearing on the proposed rule on New York City  Department of Records and Information Services  Proposed Rules On New Fees And Access Requirements. This was announced previously on the IAJGS Records Access Alert in October. If you have not yet sent in your comments this is the time to do so!  where you file your comments online where you can attach your written statement if you want in addition to writing something, or email them to: 

    Comments are accepted until  October 30 but they did not place a time end on it so  they may cut it off at 12:01 AM EDT best to have them submitted by October 29, 2020 at 11:59 PM. If you have not yet sent in your comments this is the time to do so! Go to:

    There were 85 people at the “virtual” hearing with about 18 people testifying.  You should know that while they said the comment period was to end October 23 at 5PM, they listed the site closed at 11:00 AM EDT and this was said to be a technical glitch and that comments would be accepted until October 30 with no ending time listed, but presume it to be the end of the day EDT. 

    To access the previous  postings on the IAJGS Records Access Alert about the NYC DORIS/Municipal Archives go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at:  You must be registered to access the archives.  To register go to:   and follow the instructions to enter your email address, full name and which genealogical  organization with whom you are affiliated.   You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.

    Jan Meisels Allen

    Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

  • 26 Oct 2020 2:39 PM | Anonymous

    To all subscribers:

    The latest EOGN Plus Edition newsletter is now available. Here is a list of all of this week's articles:

    (+) How to Make Sure Your Laptop, Cell Phone, and Other Electronic Devices are Prepared for Power Outages

    MyHeritage Releases Three Historical Record Collections from Wales

    Why Was the Information Removed from Online?

    Who Actually Owns Your Content When You Post It to the Web?

    The Security of Your Mother’s Maiden Name

    Ending Cancer and Other Preventable Hereditary Diseases by Using Family History

    A New Way of Predicting Which Kids Will Succeed in School: Look at Their Genes

    New English and Scottish Family Records Are Now Online at Findmypast

    41st Annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy Call for Proposals

    Recently Added and Updated Collections on

    Parish Records for all of Wales Launched by TheGenealogist

    New Free Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of 19 October 2020

    City of Boston Seeks Assistance Placing Historic Gravestones

    Gynecologist Unsuccessful in Motion for Lawsuit He Faces for Paternity

    The article with a plus sign (+) in the title is only visible to Plus Edition subscribers.

  • 26 Oct 2020 8:55 AM | Anonymous

    From an article by Caleb Williams of Brigham Young University:

    "Ashlyn Taylor, a Brigham Young University student working for the Center of Family History and Genealogy, starts her day by clocking in and jumping on the computer to track genetic heritage through census data and DNA analysis.

    "Once a week, Taylor joins a call with Dr. Brian Shirts and his team of researchers at the University of Washington to chart progress on research goals for a very specific project: ending preventable hereditary diseases, like cancer, using family history.

    "While conducting genetic testing, Shirts discovered the same MSH2 gene variant in two individuals that shared no obvious relationship. Wondering if there was some genetic component, a staffer conducted genealogical research and discovered that these two were third cousins.

    "Through extended family history research, dozens of descendants from the same common ancestor were identified and received preventative screening and care for cancer."

    You can read the full article at:

  • 23 Oct 2020 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    Warning: This article contains personal opinions.

    I was driving down the road recently, listening to a local news station on the car radio. The newscaster was interviewing a so-called security “expert” about proposed legislation supposedly designed to prevent identity theft and credit card abuse. This “expert” claimed that we needed legislation to prevent access to birth records by “unauthorized” individuals. Sound familiar? Yes, we have heard and seen this song-and-dance act before. This guy wants to lock genealogists out of the records that we have used for the past century or so. The so-called “expert” claimed that the Internet makes it too easy for someone to find your mother’s maiden name, and that, of course, is the foundation of all security systems, right?

    Let me press the button for that obnoxious sounding buzzer. BZZZZZ! Wrong answer!

    I started laughing so hard that I almost drove off the road.

    The problem isn’t easy access to your mother’s maiden name; the real problem is dumb security systems that depend upon public domain information for so-called security. Hey, if it needs to be secure, can’t you guys come up with a better key phrase than your mother’s maiden name? Sheesh, even I can do better than that!

    The only purpose for asking your mother’s maiden name is to create a “passphrase” that you can remember in case the company ever needs to identify you in the future. In reality, it doesn’t need to be your mother’s maiden name. They could just as easily use your great-great-grandmother’s maiden name or the name of your First Grade teacher or your favorite song or your pet’s name or your gym locker number. The only requirement is that it is something that you will be able to recall instantly at any future date and that it is not known to others.

    Any institution that uses the mother's maiden name as a "security tool" is really behind the times and needs to quickly hire a real security expert, not some yahoo who uses fuzzy thinking. Even novice security managers would immediately change that policy.

    In the United States, mothers’ maiden names and other personal information are available from numerous public sources. That information has always been in the public domain. The invention of the Internet did not really change anything. A mother’s maiden name could easily be discovered fifty years ago, and the same is still true today. Anyone who uses a mother’s maiden name “for security purposes” obviously doesn’t know much about security.

    I have refused to do business with a couple of companies that insisted upon using my mother’s maiden name as a security identifier. I don’t want to do business with any company with such a lame security policy. I advise you to do the same: boycott companies that have inadequate security policies.

    However, if you really need to do business with a company that insists upon using your mother’s maiden name for “security” purposes, please remember that you can always create a fictitious name on the spot. The bank doesn’t care what name you give them; all they want is something to enter in the blank space on their form, something that you can recall later. They couldn’t care less if it is the correct name or not. By using a fictitious name, your security will not be compromised by a Web site, by a minimum-wage employee at an insurance company, or by a criminal’s surreptitious visit to the state Vital Records Department.

    When I last created a new account and was asked for my mother’s maiden name, I answered "Fudpucker."

    I guarantee two things: (1.) I can remember that, and (2.) nobody is ever going to find that piece of information online unless they happen to read this article. The name of Fudpucker fits my needs perfectly as well as the needs of the company I was dealing with at the time. Oh, to be sure, I did get a strange look from the clerk filling out the form, but who cares? She wrote it down, and the name Fudpucker remains a part of that company’s records. I do feel much more secure than I would feel if I had used the correct name.

    By the way, Fudpucker was NOT my mother's maiden name.

    I would suggest that you do the same. You can use the same funny name that I chose or some other name you can easily remember. It makes no difference. You might use the maiden name of some ancestress from 200 years ago. Will the company care? No. Will the criminal care? Yes! You just protected your privacy far better than any dumb piece of legislation restricting access to birth records can ever accomplish.

    If an elected official or other bureaucrat tries to limit access to vital records, please feel free to send them a copy of this article. Tell them it’s time to wake up and look at the real issues and to stop trying to protect a maiden name policy that is ineffective to begin with. Then vote against that politician in the next election. You don’t want a backwards mentality like that in public office!

    "If you send a damned fool to Washington, and you don’t tell them he’s a damned fool, they’ll never find out." -- Mark Twain, 1883

    A smarter politician would sponsor a bill to prohibit financial institutions from using a mother’s maiden name or any other piece of public domain information for security purposes. But, then again, when did you ever see a smarter politician?

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