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 longer accurate.
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Vol. 5 No. 3January 15, 2000
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:
- This Newsletter Is Four Years Old!
- This Newsletter Is Four Years Old!
I am celebrating an anniversary. Four years ago today I wrote the first of these weekly online genealogy newsletters. I have written one almost every week since with only five omissions: three for vacations, one when I broke both arms and one due to a family emergency. In the past four years I have written 204 newsletters for a total of 6,603,108 bytes.
The first newsletter was sent to about 100 people, mostly members of CompuServes Genealogy Forum. None of them knew in advance that the newsletter would arrive; I simply mailed it to people that I thought might be interested. In that first newsletter on January 15, 1996, I wrote:
The original plan has been followed rather closely in the four years since I wrote those words. The newsletter still consists of "events and happenings of interest to computer-owning genealogists," "mini press releases about new genealogy software or other products and services" and "a few articles about things that are not genealogy-related but still seem to be of interest to me." I have also frequently featured "editorials and my personal opinions weaving in and out of this newsletter."
One thing is radically different from that first edition: instead of 100 copies of the newsletter being sent by e-mail, more than 20,000 copies are now distributed every week. Some readers subscribe via e-mail while others read the newsletter on Ancestrys Web pages.
Because of this newsletter, in the past four years I have traveled a lot and met many genealogists from all over the world. Because of this newsletter, I have had the opportunity to use great software, to view many excellent Web sites, and to play with lots of new gadgets. Because of this newsletter, I have discovered a number of ancestors. I am indeed fortunate. To each person reading todays edition, I want to say one thing: "Thank you for being there and for making it possible for me to enjoy three of my hobbies (genealogy, computers and online systems)."
Also, one other thing that I wrote four years ago still stands: "Suggestions about this newsletter are always welcome."
- An Entire Nation In One Genealogy Database
Iceland may be a small nation, but it will become the first with a comprehensive national genealogy database. Three years ago, an Icelandic company called Decode Genetics was formed to promote medical research by the use of computer databases. The company has been combining information from medical records to the genealogical relationship between patients with various diseases in an attempt to link certain diseases to genes. The company recently announced that their genealogy database with all known Icelanders for the last 1100 years is to be available on the net later this year. However, another company has claimed copyright infringement, and it looks like the entire affair is first headed for the courts.
For centuries, Icelanders have maintained excellent genealogy records. Most records in Iceland have been preserved, including church records with christenings, confirmations, marriages and deaths. The country also has excellent land deeds and census records. Also, many old family trees have been maintained through sagas and family tree books.
Genealogy has always been a common interest in Iceland. Almost all Icelanders can track their roots for all ancestors back 200 years, and some trace ancestors back to the year 800 A.D. and even before. The introduction of personal computers a decade ago made this interest even more popular. Many Icelanders exchange genealogy databases by e-mail or by floppy disk, so the country has a great deal of information available. The current population in Iceland is about 270,000 people, and from the beginning of settlement in Iceland in 874 A.D., it is estimated that about 1.3 million people have been born in the island nation.
Decode Genetics has funded a program to generate a single database with all Icelanders from the beginning of settlement in Iceland. This database is called "Islendingabok" and reportedly already has information about 620,000 individuals. It is expected that the final database will have over 700,000 individuals, roughly one-half of all the people born in Iceland in the past 1,126 years.
However, a newly formed genealogy database company called Genealogia Islandorum last week announced that it would sue DeCode Genetics for hundreds of millions of Icelandic crowns for violating copyrights related to work carried out by its genealogist, Thorsteinn Jonsson.
DeCode Genetics responded in a statement published in newspapers this week that its database was created from original sources available in the public domain, such as the national register, church books and censuses, and did not use any material compiled by Genealogia Islandorum. "By claiming ownership of the data, they (GI) are trying to prevent our intentions to make them accessible to the public by publishing them on the Internet," DeCode Genetic's President and Chief Executive Officer Kari Stefansson said in the statement.
Responding to the comments, a Genealogia Islandorum spokesman said that the information, which DeCode had used for its database, was taken directly from books which Johnson and other genealogists had compiled themselves, using original data.
All in all, it looks like the online database will be delayed or perhaps even canceled. The case is expected to go to court by March or April and take six months to conclude. Most countries have copyright laws similar to those of Iceland. Therefore, this will be an important legal issue for other companies around the world to monitor. Since the outcome will not only affect the availability of data for Iceland but also the decisions of other companies to publish other countries genealogical databases online, genealogists worldwide may also want to see how this proceeding unfolds.
My thanks to Ludvik Fridriksson in Iceland for letting me know about this story.
- An Internet Homecoming
Last year Cheryl Adams had an idea. She decided to have a Danville Crossing Homecoming. Cheryl is a county coordinator for TnGen Web on Stewart, and Dickson Counties, Tennessee.
Danville Crossing is an email list and web site that encompasses Benton, Houston, Henry, Humphreys, Stewart and Dickson Counties (Tennessee). With the blessings of list manager Dave Snow, Cheryl decided to explore the idea of a "homecoming." That is, an event publicized online but held in person in the counties covered by the mailing list. Cheryl started the publicity online and was rewarded with a lot of interest. In fact, many people did travel to the "homecoming." Cheryl reports:
It strikes me that such homecoming events could bring together internet communities with most any common interest. In addition to residents of a common area, we might imagine gatherings of families or surname groups whose only contact has been through email lists or websites. The web has already helped dispersed people reunite through cyberspace; perhaps such creative events will bring families still closer in the future.
For information about the Danville Crossing You can contact Cheryl Adams directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For several years industry watchers have predicted that the Internet would become the "Library of the Future." That is, millions of books will become available online where you can read them in the privacy of your own home or even on a portable handheld electronic device. In the past few years several companies have started on projects to make books available online. This week I had a chance to use one of the biggest and apparently also one of the most successful of the new online libraries.
netLibrary.com has complete texts of more than ten thousand books available online today, and the company says it will be adding books at the rate of 200 a day before long. The nifty part is that you can quickly search the contents of these books for words or phrases. At a traditional library you can search the card catalog looking for titles, authors, or subjects. You can do all of that on netLibrary.com, plus you can search for words in the text of each and every book.
The library offers free access to about 2,800 books in the public domain. For a fee, users can also access thousands of additional volumes still under copyright, both through the site and through a growing number of academic and other libraries to which the company sells the electronic versions.
The process of digitizing the books usually involves cutting the spine off each book and feeding the pages through an electronic reader. netLibrary.com says that they are a leader in the field because "there are not a lot of companies that have been willing to devote the elbow grease to doing that."
Like traditional libraries containing printed books, netLibrary.com is very sensitive to copyrights. Users of the Web site can "check out" an entire book, giving the user exclusive access to that one volume for a set period of time, usually about a day. Then the book is "returned to the shelves" and becomes available for the next person. This concept of a single "volume" allows netLibrary.com to operate under the same laws that allow traditional libraries to lend printed books one at a time. netLibrary has developed mechanisms for limiting the copying and printing of eBooks from the Internet. Visitors can copy or print single pages, just as people can photocopy single pages of a printed book. However, if a user is rapidly viewing multiple pages of an eBook -- a pattern that indicates the possibility of page-by-page printing -- netLibrary will display a copyright notice and instruct the user to cease his or her actions. If the pattern continues, the account becomes disabled for a period of time, and the event is logged for tracking purposes.
The netLibrary.com site is capable of handling 1 million users a day, and the sites owners say that they can expand to handle 10 million, if needed. netLibrary says it makes money from its operation primarily from academic and other institutional customers. It also plans to begin selling books, eventually allowing users to buy and then download entire volumes.
Anyone can join the netLibrary for free. However, those on a free membership will only be able to read the public domain books. In order to access the much larger "Private Collection" containing copyrighted materials, users will have to pay $29.95 (U.S. funds) annually.
To try the netLibrary yourself, go to http://www.netLibrary.com
- Researching Welsh Ancestry
I had a chance to read a new book this week, called "Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry" by John and Sheila Rowlands. This new book was written by two of the best-known experts in Welsh genealogy research and is a follow-on to their previous book, called "Welsh Family History." Although there is some overlap in the time periods covered by these two books, there is virtually no duplication of content. Both books are based upon the courses in family history taught at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth since 1986.
John Rowlands is Chairman of the Cardiganshire Family History Society. He has been a Director of the Family History in Wales courses since 1989 and is a frequent lecturer. Sheila Rowlands is a history graduate and teacher, the founding Director of the Family History in Wales courses since 1986, and also a well-known lecturer. While the two authors compiled the material in their book and wrote much of it themselves, they also acknowledge contributions from 15 others listed as "contributing authors."
Anyone involved in Welsh genealogy research soon learns that they must have some understanding of the social, cultural, religious, and economic background of the communities in which their ancestors lived. "Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry" attempts to supply much of that understanding, especially for the period prior to 1800, when most researchers begin to experience difficulties. The book also lists many little-known sources and the special uses that may be applied to the information found in these sources.
"Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry" contains chapters describing different aspects of community life as well as chapters detailing different occupations, surnames, old documents, maps, estate records, and family histories. Other chapters cover Catholics in Wales, Urban Growth and Development, People in Mining and Metals, Bartrum's Welsh Genealogies, Homes of Surnames, English Settlement in Montgomeryshire, and Religion and Society in 19th-century Wales. The book also contains family histories of several families, including the Vaughans of Trawsgoed, the Pugh family of Llanfair and Llanbedr, the Lloyds of Ty Newydd, Moris Reignald, Titus Jones, and "Baron" Lewis Owen. The book also contains several case studies and ends with examples of work done as part of the accreditation process on some more recent university courses. The book has many drawings and maps as well as a few old pictures.
"Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry" shows its academic origins; it is written in the style of a textbook. Hundreds of footnotes and references supplement the main text. It also includes a bibliography of other publications about Welsh genealogy.
This well-documented and scholarly textbook by two leading experts on the topic should be in the personal library of anyone researching Welsh genealogy. "Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry" is published by Genealogical Publishing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. It sells for $21.95 (U.S. funds) plus shipping. For more information, look at: http://www.genealogybookshop.com/genealogybookshop/files/The_World,Wales_Welsh/5028.html
- Where Did We Put That Time Capsule?
Time capsules are meant to be stored out of sight for many years, then recovered and opened. There is one common problem, however: those who created the time capsule usually are not alive on the scheduled date it is to be opened. To make matters worse, many time capsule creators apparently dont leave good records of the locations. A few times capsules have also been stolen.
The International Time Capsule Society was formed in 1990 in order to keep records on the burial of all time capsules and prevent further losses. The society created a list in 1991 of the "10 Most Wanted Time Capsules," in hopes of speeding their recovery. So far, only one has been found: the Kingsley Dam Time Capsule. Now the society has published a list of the other nine:
- A Misguided Genealogist
Most of us would like to spend more time and perhaps a bit more money tracing our ancestry. But a Hungarian politician reportedly went too far. According to the Hungary Press Digest, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has described the situation around the mayor of Hodmezovasarhely and the town councilors as a "Hungarian tragi-comedy". It seems the town's mayor, a member of Orban's party, is under investigation for allegedly using town funds to pay for researching his ancestry.
- 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:
A list of more than 9,000 genealogical books & quarterlies that are available for rent through the mail. The collection includes U.S. titles, family histories, foreign countries and general information: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~gencenlb/Genealogical_C.html
Hogarth World Headquarters for all the Hogarths scattered around the world: http://www.hogarth.org.uk
Naas' Family of Canada home pages: http://www.geocities.com/novas100/index.htm
Looking for relatives of Owen Franklin Hensley and Emeline Rebecca Campell Hensley: http://members.aol.com/conforken/Hensleyindex.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.
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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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.
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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