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. 48– November 25, 2000
This newsletter was sponsored by Ancestry.com,
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Copyright© 2000 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
- How to Write a Genealogy Inquiry Letter In A
- How to Write a Genealogy Inquiry Letter In A Foreign Language
I have never studied Finnish and have never learned one word of the language. However, this week I was able to write a letter to the Suomen Sukututkimusseura/Genealogiska (Genealogical Society of Finland). You could easily have done the same.
Here is the letter that I wrote:
To be sure, anyone who speaks Finnish as their native language is probably laughing at the awkward syntax and grammar errors. However, I am told that any Finnish-speaking person should be able to read it. The letter translates roughly as:
The letter was written in Finnish, but I could have done the same in Swedish, Czech, Slovak, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese or Spanish. The secret is to use one of the little-known services of the LDS Web site at FamilySearch.org. This site has online Letter-Writing Guides for each of the above languages. Best of all, for some of the languages, you can cut-and-paste sentences or entire paragraphs from the Web site into a letter that you are writing. That is how I created the request letter in Finnish.
If you want to send a letter to an archive in Europe and you cannot write in the local language, this site can be a great help. I would suggest that you send the letter in both the local language and in English; this way, recipients can choose to read your letter either in your native language and best wording or in their own language. The online Letter-Writing Guides are free and available to everyone at: http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/RG/frameset_rhelps.asp?Page=./research/type/Letter-writing_Guide.asp&ActiveTab=Type
- Relatively Yours II
This week I had a chance to use a new Windows genealogy program from Australia, called "Relatively Yours II." It is advertised as having been created to "cater for the needs of the family historian as well as the serious genealogist. It is a complete system, so that all the information you can research about your family history can be recorded, displayed and reproduced in a meaningful fashion." That’s a big claim indeed. I decided to investigate.
Relatively Yours II is produced by Computability Pty Limited, the same company that earlier produced an MS-DOS genealogy program called "Relatively Yours." While the new "Relatively Yours II" program obviously is an outgrowth of the MS-DOS program, it is a totally new program written for Windows 95 or later. It appears to be a complete re-write with many, many new features not found in the MS-DOS version. I was particularly interested in its capabilities to create maps.
The advertising for Relatively Yours II claims the following program features:
The following resources are supplied with the system:
Installation was simple. While Computability Pty Limited said the program was designed for use with Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0, I installed it on Windows 2000 and did not experience any problems.
I opened the included sample database and found myself looking at screens quite unlike anything I had seen in other genealogy programs. During my first few minutes of use, the screens and menus seemed rather strange. However, as I began to maneuver around a bit, I found myself adjusting to the program. After fifteen minutes or so I felt quite at home with Relatively Yours II. The program includes a nice printed user’s manual although I didn’t need to use it much.
Relatively Yours II is family-oriented. That is, it focuses on families more than it does individuals. When first started, the program prompts you to open a family. Then you see a list of individuals within that family. A "family" could be all the descendants of a particular person or all of the ancestors of a particular person or whatever other definition the user wishes to use.
Screen displays are determined by a combination of links displayed down the left side of the screen plus tabs across the top. In the "Members" view you see a list of all people in that family’s database. You can click on one person’s name and then click "Descendants" to see a list of that person’s descendants. Other items available include an address book, several mailing lists including a Christmas card list, anniversary list, lists of given names showing how certain names appear repeatedly in the family, a list of surnames, a chronology (timeline) for the family, photograph portfolio, listing of notable people within the family, list of occupations, a research log, and much more. I especially liked the "compatibility list" that shows how long people were married.
Describing the user interface in this text newsletter is difficult, probably impossible. Luckily, Computability Ltd. has many examples and screen shots on their Web site. Strangely, clicking on the site’s "Product Tour" icon does not display the screens. Instead, I found all the screens listed under "Site Map." You can view them by going directly tohttp://www.relativelyyours.com/SiteMap.htm and then clicking on the various selections there, one at a time.
After spending a few minutes with the sample database, I decided to import a GEDCOM file of more than 3,000 of my own relatives. The GEDCOM import was quick and easy. One feature that I liked occurred just before the import process began: Relatively Yours II asked me if I first wanted to make a backup of the existing database. All genealogy programs should do this!
The GEDCOM import did generate numerous errors, as can be expected with any GEDCOM import in any genealogy program. (GEDCOM is somewhat less than a perfect standard; each program has to make judgments about the data being imported.)
Having completed the import of my data, I was able to maneuver around my own family. I looked at timelines, showing the lifespan of each person in my database (and found one obvious error as a result). I then moved to plotting locations and immigration patterns on a world map. This effort required a bit more work as the GEDCOM file I imported did not include the longitude and latitude of each location.
Relatively Yours II includes the places of the world in a gazetteer, with the geographic coordinates of latitude and longitude, and many locations include postal codes. By using this tool you can find the locations of birth, marriage, death and other events of your ancestors. The producer also offers an optional CD-ROM, called RYIIExtra, with additional map layers including contours, land cover and ocean features. All maps can be displayed on a map of the world in any of several formats. You can zoom in and out at will and even print full-color maps of your family’s origins and migration.
Printed reports available in Relatively Yours II include: list of family members, descendant charts and text reports, several different address books, automatic printing of circulars and letters, list of given names, list of surnames, an anniversary book, chronology of events, multimedia portfolio, a list of occupations, longevity analysis, family group sheets, research logs, biographical details, trivia and personal facts, ancestor charts and reports, pedigree charts, list of marriages, list of unconnected people in the database, events with obsolete place names, and more.
I have only described a few of the features available in Relatively Yours II. I have not described the spell checking; use of aliases; adding user-defined fields; personal histories; inclusion of photographs, sound clips and even full multimedia files; research logs; adding coats of arms; publishing a complete family history to printer, to the World Wide Web or even directly to CD-ROM; options in the various reports, or direct publishing to the World Wide Web. To write a report of all of these features would require an article much longer than this newsletter. In fact, such a report has already been written: it is the Relatively Yours II user’s manual, and that document is 139 pages long!
Relatively Yours II is a very powerful and full-featured genealogy program for Windows. It isn’t the easiest program to use, but its list of features equals or surpasses many of the more popular programs available today. I suspect that Relatively Yours II will become a very popular genealogy program.
If you have an interest in this very powerful genealogy program, I would suggest that you first download a trial version of Relatively Yours II at the company’s Web site. The trial version has most of the features of the commercial program although a few items are disabled. See the Web site for details. If you decide to purchase the full program, you can safely order the upgrade on the company’s secure order form. Computability Pty Limited also provides program updates on the same Web site. Anyone who owns Relatively Yours II can download the latest updates at any time to keep the program current.
Relatively Yours has a very active users group and also an e-mail discussion list. You can subscribe to the mailing list by sending an e-mail toRelativelyYoursemail@example.com.
To learn more about Relatively Yours II or to download the trial version, go to:http://www.relativelyyours.com/
- Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929
Family Chronicle magazine recently published an interesting booklet, called "Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929." Some time ago Family Chronicle ran a 16-page article in their magazine on the subject of dating old photographs. Publisher Halvor Moorshead reports that he was quite surprised at the popularity of that article. Several thousand people later requested back issues, and the supply was soon exhausted. As a result, Family Chronicle has now created a 100-page booklet on the same topic.
"Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929" is an 8 ½-inch by 11-inch paperback that consists of a short introduction to the subject of dating old photographs, followed by 88 pages of example photos. The text discusses Daguerreotypes (used from 1839 to about 1860), ambrotypes (1854 until the mid 1860s), tintypes (1856 to about 1900) and the more modern techniques involving negatives. The book also discusses topics such as carte-de-visit photos, cabinet card photos, photographers’ imprints, tax stamps, picture frames and more. Of course, clothing styles are also described in some detail.
However, the best part of this book is all the examples. More than 650 black and white photographs representing typical family pictures fill 88 pages of this 8-1/2 by 11-inch glossy magazine. By comparing your unknown pictures to those in the book, you can match up clothing and hair fashion, the poses adopted by the subject, and the background settings in both pictures and estimate the date of your pictures.
Perhaps the most unique photograph in this book is the one found on page 6: a picture taken in England in 1899 shows 13 girls and women, each dressed in a different style of clothing from the previous 80 years. Each girl or woman holds a sign listing the year in which her clothing style was in fashion. This is a sort of "Rosetta Stone" of women’s fashions of the nineteenth century.
There are many myths about old photographs, according to Moorshead. The most common is that people in isolated, rural communities wore fashions that were some years behind those in the cities. "The evidence does not bear this out," says Moorshead. "People, especially women, would not be caught dead allowing themselves to be photographed wearing an out-of-date fashion. Our ancestors changed hairstyles and clothing fashions at least as often as we do today."
This is an interesting book. "Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929" costs $12.00 U.S. funds, $15.00 Canadian. Those prices include shipping. For more information, or to safely order online via a secure Web site, go to:http://www.familychronicle.com/datphoto.htm
- History of Marlborough, Massachusetts Online
I often look at Web sites dealing with genealogy and/or history. This week I had a chance to look at a good one: History of Marlborough, Massachusetts. Webmaster John Buczek has assembled a good deal of history here and gives quite an insight to daily life in Marlborough.
Information available online includes:
The above is an abbreviated list; there is a lot more than what I have listed.
John Buczek is to be congratulated for creating a first-class genealogy and history site, one that other town historians might emulate. Anyone with Marlborough ancestry will want to visit:http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~historyofmarlborough
My thanks to Pam Clark for letting me know about this valuable resource.
- Create a Family Heirloom for the Holidays
MyFamily.com, the sponsors of this newsletter, are offering an Heirloom Family Tree this Christmas season. Here is the announcement from MyFamily.com:
For more information about the product, visit:http://www.Ancestry.com/heirloom or http://www.myfamily.com.
- European Patent Office Online
Two weeks ago I wrote about the U.S. Patent Office’s new online database. This can be handy for genealogists who have an inventive ancestor who received a patent. After reading this article Klaas L. Wijchman sent an e-mail pointing out that the European Patent Office has had a similar service for some time.
To search the 30 million patent documents in the European Patent Office’s database, go to:http://www.european-patent-office.org/
- Danish Genealogy Research Guide Being Developed
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is developing a new research guide for Danish genealogy research, called "Denmark -- A Beginner's Guide to Library Research 1814-Early 1900s." You cannot order it just yet as it will not be available until some time in 2001. While the Family History Library produces many research guides, this one reportedly will be quite different. According to an article in Utah’s Standard-Examiner, this guide is hoped to vastly improve and streamline the way beginners do genealogical research.
Last week a draft copy of the booklet was given to 160 volunteers who agreed to use the booklet this week and provide feedback on its usability and effectiveness. The booklet relies heavily on easy-to-read graphics, record samples, computer-style dialog boxes, map diagrams, tip sidebars and directional arrows. "After 15 years of reviewing almost every library publication, this is the first time I have ever seen a product that actually shows people how to do the research process," said Kay Merkley, instructional designer for the Family History Library.
The full Standard-Examiner article can be found at:http://www1.standard.net/stories/local/11-2000/FTP0257@local@20booklet@Ogden.asp
According to a press release, the new Chineseroots.com website lets people build a family tree by tapping into a database with records of births and marriages in China over the last millennium. The data dates to the Sung dynasty, when family names and records were first formalized and kept in ancestry booklets called "jiabu."
Chineseroots.com has alliances with the government-run Shanghai Library and the Xiang Xi Genealogy Centre to gain access to the records. In exchange, Chineseroots.com is digitizing and cataloguing the ancient data. The company estimates that 96 percent of the world's Chinese people are covered by 110,000 "jiabu" titles at the company's disposal.
Chineseroots.com also lists more than 1,300 surnames and their origin. Although there are 6,000 family names in existence, almost 90 percent of the people in China and Taiwan share just 100 of them.
I have a casual interest in Chinese genealogy, having spent a year in China in the early 1980s. While there I found that many Chinese are interested in their ancestry. I decided to take a look at ChineseRoots.com to see what it offers.
I found that ChineseRoots.com holds a lot of promise but not a great deal of data. There seems to be a lot of information about "how to research your family tree" and similar subjects. The "Chineseroots 101" section appeared to be quite good. The site also has a date conversion tool that is useful for converting solar dates or lunar dates as found in many old Chinese documents. However, the "jiabu" titles apparently have not yet been digitized.
I did find a database of "the origin of your family name," much like the things sold in shopping mall pushcarts. These are generally considered to be lacking in genealogical value, with no references at all. The listings basically tell how popular the name is and where the name is most popular. For instance, here is the listing for Huang, the eighth-most common Chinese name:
Shun when he helped managed the floods. Boyi's son Dalian was transferred to Huang and founded the Huang Kingdom. His descendants stayed there for generations and adopted Huang as their surname.
During the Han generation, the Huangs spread to the northern regions such as Henan and southern regions such as Jiangxi, Sichuan and Hunan. Towards the Pu generation, the Huangs spread to Fujian and, during the transition fromMing to Qing, made their appearance in Taiwan.
The Huangs are mainly located in Jiangxia, Huaiyang, Linjiang, Huainan, Runan, Nanyang, Lingling, Baxi, Xinan, Jinhua, Gushi, Xinzhou, Anding, Fangling and Handong.
While that information may be interesting, it doesn’t supply any genealogy information. Nonetheless, this site has a lot of promise, and I hope to report the arrival of the "jiabu" titles before long.
- Best Genealogy Site on the Web? (Continued)
There are only a few days left to vote for your favorite genealogy site on the World Wide Web. The readers of this newsletter will decide which site qualifies for the title of "The Best Genealogy Site on the Web."
The votes end on November 30, and results will be published in next week’s newsletter. I can report that more than 500 votes have been received so far, but I deliberately have not counted them. That will be done after November 30.
You still have time to cast your vote for your favorite genealogy Web site. There is a special e-mail address set-up just for the purpose of counting the votes, and you must put the URL in the message subject line. Complete instructions can be found at: http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/eastman/2915.asp#1
- The Beatles Are Irish?
The Chairman of the Beatles Ireland fan club has claimed that all of the Fab Four are Irish. While John Lennon and Paul McCartney are both already on record as having Irish grandparents, Beatles Ireland fan club chairman Pete Brennan claims that both George Harrison and Ringo Starr are of Irish extraction, too.
Brennan says, "George’s family tree stretches back to the 13th century when the guitarist's ancestors, who were Norman knights from France, settled in southern Ireland."
Proving drummer Ringo's roots is not quite so easy. However, Pete insists that the drummer - real name Richard Starkey - has Irish blood. He adds," I can definitely confirm that some of Ringo's relations on his mother's side were Irish. But I'm actually still in the middle of researching his roots, so I can't say too much right now."
Pete Brennan didn’t offer any documentation to back up his claims. Personally, I’ll believe it when I can check out the sources of his claims.
- Home Pages Highlighted
The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have been added recently onhttp://www.rootscomputing.com.
Genealogy of the Chalmers family from 1640 in Banffshire and Aberdeenshire in Scotland to the present day in Cork Ireland:http://homepage.eircom.net/~decfam
Maps showing the distribution of the McAndrew surname in Ireland in the mid-1800's as listed in the Griffith Valuation Index:http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~dgarvey/McAndrew/Ireland_McAndrew.htm
The Macomb County (Michigan) Military Index is an effort to list the names, war of service, service branch, and birth and death dates (for deceased veterans only) of all citizens of Macomb County, Michigan who served in the military in wartime, Civil War through Korean War. This searchable database is undergoing regular updating as the owners continue to locate and add new data:http://offserv.libcoop.net/mtc/military.asp
"Nassau County History" pages help aid researchers in discovering their roots. They can do this by reading about Queens' early history and development. Surnames can also be found in marriages and deaths posted in various newspapers. A search engine has been added to the site to make it more convenient:http://users.rootsweb.com/~nynassa2/index.htm
Casaubon / Casaubon dit Rocheville / Rocheville 1659-2000 Web pages:http://www.genealogy.com/users/r/o/c/John-J-Rocheville
Descendants of Michael Humphrey, an early settler of Windsor, CT:http://jhholcombe.home.att.net/humphrey/mhumo00t.htm
Kamal Prasad’s family tree containing Indian descendants living in Fiji islands:http://www.imaginearts.com/kamal/family/
Leitner & Prideaux Genealogy: These pages connect to families from the British Isles and to families from Austria/Hungary that all eventually settled in the small and peaceful communities of Northwestern Kansas called Atwood and Herndon that are located in Rawlins County:http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/l/e/i/Mary-K-Leitner-KS
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 newsletter’s online discussion group on CompuServe’s Genealogy Techniques Forum. The CompuServe forums are free and are available to anyone using Netscape, Internet Explorer or CompuServe’s own software Go to:http://www.rootsforum.com.
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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