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.
EOGN: Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Vol. 5 No. 34 Ė August 19, 2000
This newsletter was sponsored by Ancestry.com,
To learn about Ancestry.comís
Past issues of this Newsletter
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:
- Ancestry.com to Place U.S. Census Images
- Ancestry.com to Place U.S. Census Images Online
The dream of many genealogists is about to come true: we will soon be able to view original hand-written census records on our PC screens while seated comfortably at home. In this case, it will be all of the U.S. census records that have been released by the government, including the years 1790 through 1920. Once completed, this online database will contain more than 450 million names.
Ancestry.com, the sponsors of this newsletter, released the following announcement:
The 1890 Census Reconstruction Project is at:http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/census/1890sub/main.htm
This obviously will be a huge boon for genealogists. SierraHome's Generations brand and Heritage Quest made a similar announcement a few weeks ago. They said that they would offer the entire U.S. census online "sometime this fall." (See my July 8, 2000 newsletter for details.) The new Ancestry.com announcement says that "The first images will be posted this fall, and subsequent postings will bring hundreds of millions of images to the site throughout the year." In other words, the two companies will be releasing the first documents about the same time.
Does this sound like a race? You bet. And genealogists will benefit.
Both companies will be enhancing the original images to improve readability. The online images should be easier to read than many of the microfilmed copies. The Ancestry.com Web site says that the Images Online census records will more faithfully reproduce original documents than mere indexes or bi-tonal, black and white images available with competitive offerings. The records will be easier to read since they will be viewed in full 256 shades of gray. SierraHome also has a lengthy description of their digital enhancements of the original handwritten records on their Web site at http://genealogydatabase.com/learnmore.html.
Ancestry.com already has some sample images on their Web site today from the 1790, 1860, 1870 and 1900 U.S. censuses. I took a look at these samples and indeed they are easy to read. The images are first displayed in a Java Applet viewer. I was able to look at the images in a standard Internet Explorer or Netscape browser. However, you can add a lot more functionality if you download and install the free MrSID plug-in for your browser. Full instructions are on the Ancestry Web page.
With the MrSID plug-in installed, I was able to make the displayed image larger or smaller, zoom in and out, and save to a file or print on local printer. I found that I could zoom in to the point where only a few names filled most of the computer screen. I could look at the individual strokes of the enumeratorís (census takerís) handwriting. Every single example that I looked at could be decoded, even those made with mediocre handwriting.
I also saved one image to a disk file and then later imported it into Microsoft Word. The whole thing was simple. This brought the entire census page into Word. If I write a book or even an article about a particular ancestor, I probably would only want to import a part of a page: those lines that list the ancestor, his or her family, their property and possibly a few other lines showing their neighbors. To do that, I would first use a paintbrush program of some sort to cut out only the part I want to use and save it to disk. I can later import only that snippet into my genealogy document.
You can view sample census images online at:http://www.ancestry.com/home/celebrate/census.htm
The Year 2000 looks like a great one for anyone researching U.S. ancestry. This is the year in which U.S. census records become available online for all.
- The Master Genealogist Version 4.0a is Released
One of the leading genealogy programs available today has been updated. The following is an announcement from Wholly Genes Software:
For a limited time, UFT users can still receive 50% off TMG v4.0a. Seehttp://www.whollygenes.com for details. All advance orders under this competitive upgrade offer are expected to be shipped by Monday, 21 August 2000.
The Master Genealogist is a trademark of Wholly Genes, Inc.
- Genealogy Database Helps Identify 1st Alzheimer's Gene
I have written several times (January 15, 2000; March 11, 2000 and April 15, 2000 about Decode Genetics, a company based in Iceland. In the January 15 newsletter, I wrote, "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."
Decode Genetics claims to be nearing completion of a computerized genealogy database covering the entire Icelandic population, with some genealogical records dating back to the settlement of the country in the ninth century. The company believes the relative genetic homogeneity of the population gives it a unique competitive advantage in the business of genotyping. Now Decode Genetics has used that database to identify a gene that contributes to the common form of Alzheimer's disease.
The Decode Genetics announcement is the first publicized instance of gene-typing since the mapping of the human genome was completed in June. However, the Decode Genetics research is unrelated to the Human Genome Project. Nevertheless, this weekís announcement highlights the increased pace at which scientists are working to identify disease-related genes now that man's genetic make-up has been systematically sequenced.
"It's one piece of the mosaic," said Andreas Burckhardt, investment analyst for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector at West LB in Duesseldorf. "It's an important discovery, but they haven't discovered Alzheimer's."
Klaus Lindpaintner, director of Roche Genetics, said it is likely to take up to three years to identify the other genes associated with the common form of Alzheimer's and develop the related diagnostic tools. Developing a medicine could take a total five to 10 years, according to Lindpaintner.
Further details are available at: http://www.decode.com/news/releases/item.ehtm?cid=3862
- BCG Genealogical Standards Manual
The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) is an organization dedicated to promoting uniform standards of competence and ethics among amateur and professional genealogists. As its name implies, the BCG conducts several rigorous examinations of applicants. Those that pass appropriate examinations and agree to abide by a rigid code of ethics are then authorized to append certain titles after their names, such as:
As you might expect, an organization dedicated to standards of competence in genealogy will publish those standards. This week I had a chance to read the brand-new "BCG Genealogical Standards Manual." This manual is not just for professional genealogists; it is written for everyone. Even if you do not yet write genealogies, this manual shows what you should be reading. If a published genealogy you read does not meet the BCG standards, you might want to be wary of its accuracy. If you hire someone else to research distant records for you, then you want to make sure that the person hired follows these standards. Ideally, that person should be certified and be willing to include a photocopy of his or her certificate along with the information you pay for.
Here is the Table of Contents from this new BCG Genealogical Standards Manual:
The first few sections are rather slim and simply state the various standards. However, the various appendixes are thick and full of excellent examples of the proper methods of creating reports. The examples of reports, summaries, lineages, pedigrees and compiled genealogies cover 86 pages, each page showing proper methodologies with citations, formatting, numbering systems and typographic styles. In short, this is the way to publish genealogy information.
Anyone who wants to become a certified genealogist will need to read this book. Every other genealogist should read this book to see "how the pros do it." Every genealogy software developer should read this book to see how printed reports are to be created. I would also suggest that every beginning genealogist should read this manual to see "how to do it the right way." I wish I had read a book like this when I first started researching my family tree!
The Board for Certification of Genealogists Genealogical Standards Manual sells for $19.95 plus shipping. You can order it online at:http://shop.myfamily.com/ancestrycatalog/product.asp?pf%5Fid=1956&dept%5Fid=10101000
For more information about the Board for Certification of Genealogists, look at:http://www.bcgcertification.org/
- The Genealogistís Virtual Library
We all know that the Internet has changed many facets of modern life. Newspapers, financial information, sports reports, weather forecasts and much more are now available quickly and more conveniently than the old-fashioned printed newspapers. Encyclopedias are now offered almost exclusively online or on CD-ROM as printed encyclopedias are almost obsolete. We all have read predictions that book publishing online will someday overtake publishing on paper. I monitor the Internet rather closely, especially as it relates to genealogy; yet, I was amazed when I read a book this week that lists thousands of books already online, books of interest to genealogists.
"The Genealogistís Virtual Library" by Thomas Jay Kemp is a 268-page paperback that lists thousands of full-text books available on the Web. These sites contain complete texts of books, not just synopses or listings. Kempís publication is a "Books in Print" of full-text genealogy books on the Internet.
As always, I decided to look for anything concerning my own surname. After all, I am always looking for references to the name, and I think I know what is available online. I was amazed to find a reference on page 24 that I had never heard of previously. I went to the URL listed and was soon engrossed in "Seven And Nine Years Among The Camanches And Apaches" by Edwin Eastman, a rather distant relative on the outer fringes of my family tree. I spent quite some time reading about his travels by wagon train in Indian country and his capture and torture by Indians. He even briefly mentioned his ancestry, although not in detail. You never know what you will find on the Internet!
The book that I found is but one of the many thousands listed. "The Genealogistís Virtual Library" lists one or two sentence descriptions of books and then follows with the full URL (online address). Topics covered include:
The book also contains a CD-ROM that supplies links to all the electronic books listed. Thatís a good idea as many of these links are quite lengthy and are not easily typed by hand.
"The Genealogistís Virtual Library" is an excellent reference book that belongs on the shelf of every genealogy library. It costs $27.95 plus shipping. For more information, go to:http://www.scholarly.com/
The same site allows you to order the book online. However, the order form is not secure, so I would strongly suggest that you not enter your credit card number there. Instead, you can order by telephone at (888) 772-7817 or (302) 654-7713.
- Archaic Medical Terms
Family records and death certificates say that great-aunt Millie suffered from "green fever" while great-great-uncle Bert died of "natural decay." What are those diseases? Are they really exotic medical conditions of yesterday? Or are they old names for something that we know today? A Web site will tell you.
Paul Smith, a British doctor, has created a Web site that explains many of the medical terms found in genealogy research, including:
Oh yes, great-great-uncle Bertís death by "natural decay?" That term really means "old age."
To look at the Archaic Medical Terms Web site, go to: http://www.gpiag-asthma.org/drpsmith/amt1.htm
- Evolution of United States County Boundaries
It seems like my ancestors didnít move around too much, but the county lines where they lived kept moving. I have an ancestor who lived in three different counties, even though he never moved! Instead, the county lines were twice redrawn. Of course, this is critical for finding records; I need to look in the records of the county where he lived at the time, not where the location is today. Dover-Foxcroft may be in Piscataquis County today, but his purchase of the family farm was recorded in Penobscot County Deeds as the land was part of Penobscot County when he purchased it.
Ed Stephan of Bellingham, Washington has created a Web site that will simplify the searches for many genealogists. Quoting from Edís Web site:
Ed also has created a large animated GIF image that shows the formation of counties across the entire United States. It shows all county boundaries for 1650, 1700, 1750, and census years from 1790 onward. Because of its size, it can take a while to load. Once cached, however, clicking "reload" will give you quite a show.
Take a look athttp://www.ac.wwu.edu/~stephan/Animation/us.html and the GIF image at: http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~stephan/Animation/us.gif
My thanks to Gregg Asher for telling me about the Evolution of United States County Boundaries Web site.
- DNA Analysis at FGS Conference
In the April 15 edition of this newsletter, I wrote about the work of Dr. Scott Woodward of the BYU Microbiology Department. Dr. Woodward previously analyzed Egyptian mummy families by DNA analysis and even matching up Dead Sea Scroll fragments by DNA analysis of the parchment to see what pieces came from the same animal. Now he is involved with a major study of genealogy and DNA. Dr. Woodward is collecting blood samples and 4-generation pedigree charts of thousands of people to see what the DNA markers are for families and groups.
According to an insert sent with registrations for next monthís Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Salt Lake City, Dr. Woodward will be at the conference collecting blood samples and four-generation pedigree charts. If you are going to the conference, bring your pedigree charts!
Information on the conference is available athttp://www.fgs.org/fgs-2000.htm. Information about Dr. Woodwardís work is available at: http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,195006815,00.html
- Brief History of Social Security
This week the United States Social Security Administration released an online booklet that describes the early years of the government agency. While not written for genealogists, it does provide useful background information for understanding our ancestors' involvement with the program. For example, did you know that Social Security cards were initially issued by the Postal Service?
The entire booklet is available online at no cost. It is a large Adobe Acrobat PDF file at:http://www.ssa.gov/history/pdf/briefhistory2000.pdf
My thanks to Chad R. Milliner for telling me about this new booklet.
- Find All Your Ancestors Online!
A person who apparently is a newcomer to genealogy research posted a message this week on a British mailing list challenging why anyone would spend time looking for genealogy information in books and in dusty old records offices. Roy Stockdill responded with what I think will become a classic answer. Roy kindly has given permission for it to be republished here:
"Never ask a man if he comes from Yorkshire. If he does he will tell you. If he does not, why humiliate him?" - Canon Sydney Smith (scholar and humorist 1771-1845)
- Home Pages Highlighted
The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have been listed recently onhttp://www.rootscomputing.com:
The "Adams, New York" page is for those who are interested in history and genealogy in this small Jefferson County area. Visitors will find yearbook transcriptions, histories of businesses, land and deed records, and numerous pictures of the area:http://www.kendrickkreations.f2s.com/adams.html
The Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO), an umbrella group for the various organizations having an interest in Irish genealogical research:http://indigo.ie/~gorry/CIGO.html
Steen family home page, a single resource for genealogical information about anyone with the surname STEEN:http://www.steenplace.com
CPROOTS Genealogy Resources, a free site with 23 searchable databases:http://www.cproots.com
Orzell Genealogy of Connecticut, Vermont and more:http://pages.cthome.net/orzell/index.html
History of the Fisher family of Brockton, Massachusetts:http://www.geocities.com/ninamildred
GeneaNet is a search engine which indexes all the genealogical databases in the world so that all those people who are looking for their ancestors can take advantage of them. With 12 million indexes (35 million individuals), and thanks to its search possibilities using surnames, places or dates, GeneaNet is a unique site:http://www.geneanet.org
1st Choice Genealogy Ecards, the first and only genealogy-specific Ecard site on the Internet. Ecards are a novel way to keep your surnames out front, to send an initial query, follow up, say "hello" to family & friends, or to simply "thank" someone for their time and any assistance they may have provided to you:http://www.weblattitudes.com
The family of James Townsend and Elizabeth Davis, who immigrated to Prince Edward Island in 1775 from Berkshire, England:http://www.interlog.com/~garyt
Ancestral Pages Ė dedicated to the promotion and encouragement of Irish genealogy:http://www.geocities.com/irishancestralpages/
Waldensian ancestors in the Piedmont area of modern day Italy. The purpose of the site is to provide research instruction and help with finding your ancestors, many of whom were forced to leave the area at the end of the 1600s because of their Protestant religious beliefs. At that time the Piedmont valleys were a part of French speaking Savoy:http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~waldense/
County Heritage, Inc., publisher of dozens of Southeastern US County Heritage Books:http://www.countyheritagebooks.com
Scanned images from the 1875 Atlas of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Images include townships, towns and buildings of the time period. These maps contain surnames of residents and locations of their domiciles:http://maley.net/atlas
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 newsletterís online discussion group on CompuServeís 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 three 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