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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
Topics of Interest to Online Genealogists

Vol. 7 No. 2 – January 14, 2002

This newsletter was sponsored by Ancestry.com,
a leader in providing print and electronic
research information to genealogists.

To learn about Ancestry.com’s
state-of-the-art online genealogy databases
and other fine products,
visit the company’s three Internet properties,
MyFamily.com, Ancestry.com, and RootsWeb.com

Past issues of this Newsletter
are available at:
http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/eastman/eastman.asp


Copyright© 2002 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:

- 1901 UK Census Site Crashes
- U.S. 1930 Census Records To Be Released
- JRI-Poland Passes 1.5 Million Mark
- GENTECH2002 about to Kick Off in Boston
- Brigham Young University’s DNA Study Continues at GENTECH2002
- DNA Study Proves Descent from Thomas Wingfield of York River, Virginia
- But Is It Legal?
- Home Pages Highlighted


- 1901 UK Census Site Crashes

Last week I wrote about the brand-new online 1901 England and Wales 1901 Census Records Database. The British Public Record Office put the Web site up on January 2, and it has been flooded with users ever since. As I wrote last week, "With so many genealogists trying to access this site, you may find the site to be unavailable. In fact, at the time these words are being written, a disclaimer on the site says, ‘Due to overwhelming demand the technical project team for the 1901 Census site has had to place access restrictions to the site.’" I then went on to say that I expected the demand for access would slow down in a few weeks and that performance would improve.

While I still believe the words I wrote last week, it was interesting to watch for the past seven days. Demand continued and even increased. In fact, the servers crashed during the week, knocking the entire site offline for a while. More servers were being brought in on Thursday, but organizers warn it could take several days before they can meet demand.

The following announcement is now on the Public Record Office Web site:

The site remains unable to meet continuing levels of demand. The PRO has agreed with QinetiQ's technical team that searching of the database and downloading of images will not be available for one week to allow enhancements to take place. The Census site will provide updated information and help about using the Census service. Meanwhile the normal 1901 Census microform services continue to be available at the PRO Kew and local record offices and public libraries across the country.

The 1901 Census On-Line service is available at the Family Records Centre and at Kew. Access is limited to one hour per user by ticket. Tickets are available on a first come first served basis and no advance bookings can be taken. For further information regarding the FRC service please see the Family Records web site. For further information regarding the Kew service please telephone 020-8392-5200.

This is frustrating for anyone trying to reach the Web site. I’m sure it is even more frustrating for the technical folks at the Public Record Office as they struggle to meet that demand. However, I must say that this "problem" is very satisfying to those of us who watch the growth of technology within genealogy. It shows that millions of genealogists want to access primary records online. The market for online genealogy data is obviously strong. I hope that other providers of genealogy-related records are watching.

To read my review in last week’s newsletter, go to: http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/eastman/5123.asp. The Public Record Office’s online 1901 Census for England and Wales is at: http://www.pro.gov.uk


- U.S. 1930 Census Records To Be Released

The United States government conducts a census every ten years, in the years ending with a zero (1910, 1920, etc.). These census records contain a wealth of information for genealogists. The exact information obtained varies from one census to the next but generally contains each person’s name, residence, age, place of birth, immediate family members residing in the same household, and more. The government keeps these records confidential for seventy-two years to protect the privacy of those listed. The 1930 U.S. Census records are due to be released this year.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration has announced that it will release the 1930 Federal population census for the first time on April 1, 2002. At that time, the microfilmed copies will be opened for research at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, at 13 of the National Archives regional facilities across the nation, and through the National Archives rental program.

The 1930 census is the 15th Federal census mandated by the U.S. Constitution, which states, "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. . . ".

As one would expect, the number of records in the 1930 census is much larger than any previous census. All of the returns for the first U.S. census conducted in 1790 fit onto 12 rolls of microfilm. The country continued to grow so that the 1920 census consists of 2,076 rolls of film. The 1930 census consists of 2,667 rolls of population schedules and 1,587 rolls of Soundex indexes for 12 southern states, totaling 4,254 rolls. The other states, however, do not have Soundex indexes.

The 1930 census provides a wealth of socio-economic information, such as the following: names of all persons living in each home; relationship of each person to the head of household; whether the home is owned or rented; value of the home; if the family owns a radio; if they own a farm; whether they attended school or college; if they can read or write; place of birth; citizenship status; and occupation.

These census records should be available within a few days after April 1, 2002 via the National Archives’ Rental Program. In addition, commercial companies will also have rolls of microfilm available for sale or for rent. I suspect that CD-ROM and possible online availability will occur some later time after April 1, 2002.

For more information on the 1930 census, see http://www.nara.gov/genealogy/1930cen.html/


- JRI-Poland Passes 1.5 Million Mark

The following is an announcement from the Board of Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, Inc.:

Opportunities for finding references to your family's records in the Jewish Records Indexing-Poland database have dramatically increased over the last year, as the database reached 1.5 million records just as 2001 drew to a close.

This is breathtaking – even for the board of JRI-Poland – because the searchable database of indices to Polish Jewish records (primarily those in the Polish State Archives and those microfilmed by the Mormons) was less than one million at the end of 2000.

This phenomenal growth reflects effort by hundreds of volunteers who participate in Shtetl CO-OPs and researchers who support JRI-Poland's PSA project to enable records for their towns in the Polish State Archives to be indexed. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the management and staff of the Polish State Archives, all of whom have provided exemplary cooperation and support to the project.

As the records for more and more towns are indexed and the mass of data grows for many groups of towns, researchers are not only finding records for their families in towns where they knew their families lived, but also in many towns and villages both near and far. Often these places were long forgotten by our parents and grandparents or, as many have us have learned, they are towns that had never even been mentioned in any family stories.

In the last few weeks, data has been added for 73 towns. For many towns, it is the first time that indices have appeared in the JRI-Poland database.

New or first time data is now available for the following Galician towns in the AGAD Archives project:

Gologory, Kopyczynce, Kudrynce, Mikulince, Mostiska, Podhajce, Podwoloczyska, Rozdul, Sokolowka, Strzeliska Nowe, Szczerzec, Tarnopol, Uscie Biskupie, Zablotow and Zbaraz

New or first time data is also now available for the following towns (either indexed from the LDS microfilms by Shtetl CO-OPs or by the JRI-Poland / Polish State Archives project for records not filmed by the LDS):

Belchatow, Bialystok, Bielsk, Bodzanow, Brzeziny, Bytom, Chelm, Ilza, Komarow, Koniecpol, Lublin, Lubraniec, Nowe Miasto, Nysa, Oleszyce, Pajeczno, Poddebice, Przasnysz, Rzeszow, Stopnica, Tykocin, Warszawa, Wegrow, Wyszogrod, Zgierz and Zychlin.

For some of the towns in the list above, new and first time data from certain years and types are searchable while other years and types have not yet been made "live."

For details about the types of records (births, marriages deaths) and the years they cover, go to the "Contents of the Database" page, which is linked from the home page at http://www.jewishgen.org/jri-pl.

For information about how you can participate in efforts to make this data fully searchable in the JRI-Poland database, go to the "Project Status Page" of the Polish State Archives project at: http://www.jewishgen.org/jri-pl/psa/psastat1.htm and click on the "Project Information" link for the archive that holds your town's records.

In addition, new or first time data from the towns in the following list are in the final processes and are not currently searchable. Check the "Project Status" page as outlined above to find out how you can participate in helping to make data from these towns searchable.

Aleksandrow Lodzki, Busko Zdroj, Chmielnik, Dzialoszyce, Dubienka, Grojec, Kalisz, Klobuck, Kolo, Konin, Kosow Lacki, Kozminek, Krzepice, Lask, Lubartow, Mikulince, Mogielnica, Mstow, Oleszyce, Pacanow, Piaseczno, Podwoloczyska, Praszka, Przemysl, Radomsko, Siedlce, Skulsk, Sokolow Podlaski, Stanislawow, Szadek, Szczekociny, Tarczyn, Warka, Wieruszow and Zuromin

Data is arriving regularly from Shtetl CO-OPs (indexing records in LDS microfilms), from the JRI-Poland data entry team in Warsaw (working on records not filmed by the LDS), and from the many archivists in branches in AGAD, Bialystok, Krakow, Przemysl and Rzeszow (indexing records for which there are no indices to photocopy). Then there are also projects at the Jewish Historical Institute, the 1929 Polish Business Directory project and other special projects to be announced.

As we continue to grow and as we embark on a new year, JRI-Poland asks each of you to consider what you can do to help your own research while - at the same time - helping your fellow researchers today and future generations in the years to come. Please take a fresh look at the JRI-Poland web site think about how you can contribute. Or contact one of the members of the JRI-Poland board listed below.

With our warmest wishes for a healthy and happy year,

The Board of Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, Inc.

Judy Baston, JRBaston@aol.com
Stanley Diamond, SMSDiamond@aol.com
Shirley Flaum, Seflaum@aol.com
Peter Jassem, jassep@tdbank.ca
Mark Halpern, Willie46@aol.com
Barbara Khait, Bkhait@aol.com
Roni Liebowitz, Ronisl@aol.com
Hadassah Lipsius, Kesher@lipsiusgroup.com
Stuart Richler, stuart@gtrdata.com
Michael Richman, Mbresq@aol.com
Wlodzimierz Rozenbaum, vlady.rita@verizon.net
Sheila Salo, ssalo@CapAccess.org
Michael Tobias, Michael@tobias.org.uk
Steven Zedeck, saz25@mediaone.net


- GENTECH2002 about to Kick Off in Boston

One of my personal highlights every year is the GENTECH conference. This is a 2-day conference dedicated to technology topics of interest to genealogists. The topics vary widely; many are aimed at genealogy or technology beginners while others are of interest to the experts. Ask anyone who has ever attended a past GENTECH conference, and I suspect they will tell you that they enjoyed it. I have been at the past nine GENTECH conferences and am looking forward to attending this year’s tenth anniversary event.

The GENTECH conferences are usually held in late January or early February. The location changes from city to city each year, with this year’s event being held in Boston at one of the city’s best convention facilities: the Hynes Convention Center. The convention center is part of an indoor complex that includes three hotels, two shopping malls, restaurants, a grocery store, and much more. In addition, it is located within Boston’s historic Back Bay and is a short walk from the Boston Public Library (with excellent genealogy records), the New England Historic Genealogical Society (also with excellent genealogy records), as well as several more hotels and dozens of restaurants. This location promises to be the most convenient of all the GENTECH conferences. Even if we get snowed in, the conference goes on!

The main speaker at GENTECH2002 will be Dr. Bryan Sykes, author of the best-selling book, The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry. Dr. Sykes will be the banquet speaker on Friday evening. He is a professor of genetics at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University and director of http://www.oxfordancestors.com. He has also been featured on the Today show on NBC-TV. He was the keynote speaker at the New England Historic Genealogical Society's summer 2001 conference, and a number of people who heard him there have told me that Dr. Sykes is an articulate, knowledgeable and humorous speaker. I look forward to hearing his talk in Boston.

GENTECH2002 will have more DNA presentations and information than I have ever seen at any other genealogy conference. Two of the speakers head up two of the leading university groups engaged in sequencing large numbers of human DNA samples: Dr. Bryan Sykes of Oxford University, whom I just described, and Dr. Scott Woodward of Brigham Young University. They will discuss their differing approaches to their studies. Two additional speakers also have excellent credentials as geneticists and have been speaking to American genealogical audiences for many years: Dr. Thomas Roderick of Jackson Laboratories and Dr. Joan Mitchell of the University of Alabama. Each of these speakers will give individual presentations and then, near the end of the conference, all four speakers will also participate in a panel discussion.

Not every event is aimed at DNA, however. More than 50 presentations are planned, many of them by well-known genealogists. Here is a sample of some of the presentations scheduled:

  • The Internet: A Virtual Canvas for Your Ancestry by Rhonda McClure
  • Tables, Charts, & Spreadsheets by Patricia Law Hatcher
  • The Future of the Past: Is Technology Answering our SOS Beacons? By Curt Witcher
  • Tips for Scanning Documents onto CDs by John Wilbanks
  • Evaluating Web Resources by Sandra Clunies
  • Word Processing Tricks for Genealogists by Pamela Boyer Porter
  • Mysteries of the Soundex by Tony Burroughs
  • Digital Cameras -- Uses and Limitations by Richard Wilson
  • What a Tangled Web We Weave by Cyndi Howells (at the GENTECH Luncheon)
  • More Than Names on the 'Net: Building a Context Online by Amy J. Crow
  • Tour of the Genealogical Data Model by John Wilbanks
  • Improving the Quality of Genealogical Documents by Tony Burroughs
  • Evaluating New Features in Genealogy Programs by Richard Wilson
  • (OCR) Optical Character Recognition: State of the Art by Jake Gehring
  • Data Transfer Tools and Protocols by Bob Velke
  • In the Palm of Your Hand: Using Palm Pilot Computers for Genealogy by Tony Burroughs
  • Using it All! Tools for Macintosh Users by Donna Moughty

The above is only a sample. The full list can be found at the GENTECH Web site.

I will also be making a presentation at GENTECH2002 late on Saturday afternoon, on "How to Create Your Own Genealogy CD Disks." My handouts will be on CD-ROM. A number of people asked about obtaining a copy of the handout disk. I expect to make them available some time after GENTECH; keep an eye on this newsletter for an announcement.

An e-mail newsletter is now available to keep you up to date on the latest news about the conference. You can sign up for the e-mail newsletter and also find a lot more information about GENTECH2002 at: http://www.gentech.org

Who scheduled my talk at the same time as Tony Burroughs’ talk on "Using Palm Pilot Computers for Genealogy?" I wanted to attend his presentation! Oh well, I guess I can buy the audio tape… .


- Brigham Young University’s DNA Study Continues At GENTECH2002

Researchers at Brigham Young University are building a very interesting new database of molecular genealogy information. As the project leaders explain:

Molecular Genealogy links individuals together in "family trees" based on the unique identification of genetic markers. This is accomplished by using the information encoded in the DNA of an individual and/or population to determine the relatedness of individuals, families, tribal groups, and populations. Pedigrees based on genetic markers can reveal relationships not detectable in genealogies based only on names, written records, or oral traditions. There may be a number of individuals named John Smith, but a genetic identification is unique and can even discriminate between closely related individuals or those sharing the same name. There is not another individual that has ever lived on the earth or that will ever live that has the same genetic identification. The fact that DNA is inherited and that each individual is the product of his/her progenitors means that DNA can be used to not only create unique identifications, but also to identify members of the same family, the same clan or tribal group, or the same population.

In order to build the database, researchers have been attending genealogy conferences and other locations where genealogists gather. They will be continuing this effort in Boston in a few days at the GENTECH2002 Conference, with the help and input of conference attendees.

It is possible to obtain DNA from any biological specimen, such as blood, saliva, and hair. The BYU researchers are collecting blood samples because the quality and quantity of the DNA is greater than that which is retrieved from hair or saliva. Any individual 18 years or older can participate in this study. All of the genealogical reconstruction proposed in this project is done using DNA from living individuals. This work does not require DNA information from people who are deceased.

The BYU project has five major objectives:

  1. Determine the genetic composition of major populations throughout the world. This database can be used to identify the origins and affinities of an individual and/or family with unknown ancestry. This study will include at least 500 populations from all over the world. Individuals in each population will be identified, genealogical information for at least four generations (where possible) will be compiled, and genetic information will be determined. The identification of groups of DNA markers, or haplotypes, that are unique to a population will be used to determine specific origins and affinities for individuals.
  2.  

  3. Reconstruct genealogies using genetic information. This information can be used to resolve "blocked" genealogies where information is incomplete or missing due to lack of records, illegitimacy, or adoption, and which has prevented the linking of families. This also allows for the molecular identification of missing relatives. New genealogical links will be established between living individuals by identifying or confirming suspected lineages that are currently impossible to resolve using traditional methods.
  4.  

  5. Establish genotypic links in each population and between each of the populations. Furthermore, it will be possible to establish ancient immigration and migration patterns. Individual families will be linked to their ancestral homelands and the contemporary populations that share a common genetic heritage.
  6.  

  7. Produce unique identifications for peoples that do not have traditional name-based genealogies. This would allow the reconstruction of DNA based genealogies and extend an understanding of human relationships worldwide.
  8.  

  9. Preserve the genetic heritage of an individual and family for future generations. This would have multiple implications for genealogical and medical progress in the future.

The BYU researchers will be working in the vendors’ area at GENTECH2002 on January 25 and 26. To contribute to this study, you need to have a copy of a four-generation pedigree chart or a GEDCOM file containing names, birth dates and birthplaces of each person listed. The researchers will then draw a small blood sample to accompany your genealogy data.

For more information about the BYU DNA study, go to: http://molecular-genealogy.byu.edu. For more information about GENTECH2002, look at: http://www.gentech.org.


- DNA Study Proves Descent from Thomas Wingfield of York River, Virginia

The Winter, 2002 edition of the Wingfield Family Society’s newsletter contains a very interesting story. It seems that DNA has been used to confirm descent from a certain ancestor even though traditional documentation has been missing.

Thomas Wingfield (1664 – 1720) lived in St. Peters Parish, New Kent County, Virginia in the 1690s and early 1700s. The baptisms of several of his children are recorded in the parish register of St. Peter’s Church. Those records cover from 1684 through 1786 with one exception: the years 1691 through 1702 are missing. Unfortunately, those years are important to many Wingfield descendants.

The parish records list the baptisms of three daughters: Ruth, 18 Oct. 1691; Mary, 25 Feb. 1699/1700 and Elizabeth, 12 July 1702. However, records in later years indicated that three Wingfield men, Thomas, John and Robert, all came from the same area of Virginia and were of the appropriate ages to have been baptized in the years of the missing records, 1691 through 1702. Wingfield genealogists have always assumed that these three were sons of Thomas Wingfield, but documentation has been lacking.

Genealogist Lee Preston conducted an intensive study of the records in and around St. Peters Parish but found no mention of the three that could link them to Thomas. However, no mention was found of any other possible father. In fact, he found no other Wingfield families in the area.

In July 2000, the Wingfield Family Society learned of the BYU DNA project. Five Wingfield descendants were carefully chosen to supply DNA samples:

Middleton Barnett Wingfield of Tennessee, a documented descendent of Thomas Wingfield II, suspected to be the son of Thomas of York River.

James Reuben Wingfield III of Illinois, a documented descendant of John Wingfield

Dr. Billy Hillman Wingfield of Virginia, a documented descendant of John Wingfield

Louis Henry Wingfield of Arizona, another documented descendant of John Wingfield

Lancelot Hugh Wingfield, formerly of South Africa but now living in New Jersey. Lance has documentation to prove that he is not descended from Thomas of York River. He is, however, descended from Sir John Wingfield of Tickencote (died 1631) in England, the grandfather of the study’s primary subject: Thomas Wingfield of York River.

In addition, Sara Garrett, the Wingfield Family Society’s Computer Genealogy Chairman, prepared lineage charts from the society’s database showing the proven lineage of each person in the study. Researchers at Brigham Young University then conducted DNA studies on each of the five samples.

In September, 2001, the reports came back: each of the five volunteers’ DNA matched that of Lance Wingfield, thereby proving Thomas Wingfield of York River as the father of Thomas, John and Robert.

The above is a brief synopsis of a much longer story in the Wingfield Family Society’s newsletter. For details, see the newsletter which, unfortunately, is not available online. You can purchase a single edition of the newsletter for $3.00 from the Wingfield Family Society, 301 Belleview Blvd., Belleair, FL 33756. The Wingfield Family Society also maintains an excellent Web site at: http://www.wingfield.org

My thanks to Bob Carr, President of the Wingfield Family Society, for letting me know about this interesting story.


- But Is It Legal?

I corresponded this week with a reader of this newsletter who shall remain nameless. That person asked if I would mention a new "service" that she was starting. When I heard the plan, I declined, as it certainly sounded like an illegal service to me. I am no lawyer, but this issue seemed clear to me. I did a search on the Web and found many references that agreed with my beliefs. I will describe this "service" here in case you or someone you know is thinking of starting something similar. Beware!

In short, this person wanted to start an online registry of "who owns which genealogy CD-ROM disks." Then, if someone wanted to look up information on a particular CD-ROM disk, that person could send an e-mail to an owner of the particular CD-ROM in question, asking for the information. In this way, not everyone has to purchase every CD-ROM disk. At the outset, that sounds simple. However, it is a rather clear violation of copyright laws.

When I mentioned the copyright issues to my correspondent, she replied that surely I was mistaken. After all, the information is public domain, so the CD-ROM producers could not possibly claim any copyrights. Sadly, many others believe the same thing. I must point out, however, that such a belief ignores a number of points in the copyright laws.

To be sure, when talking about U.S. birth, marriage and death records as originally recorded by local or state government officials, the original facts are public domain. That is, they are not copyrightable. The same is true for most other records of genealogical interest, such as church records, military records, pension applications, and so on. The person or company who compiled these facts into book or CD-ROM format looked at public domain information, just as you, too, are free to go look at the same original facts and to compile them into some other format as you wish.

The difference arises when you begin to talk about compiled records or indexed records or whatever other improvements have been made to the original records. When a person takes old records and then transcribes them into some format that is easier to read or is indexed for easier access or has other improvements added, all of those improvements are copyrighted. If you use the improved version, you must abide by the copyright laws involved.

You may find it easy to insert a CD-ROM disk into your computer to look up information. In fact, use of a CD-ROM version is much easier than traveling to the original records repository and looking at original, faded records with difficult-to-read handwriting. That improved access on CD-ROM is copyrighted, even though the original facts are not. The software that does the lookup is probably also copyrighted and can only be used for the purposes specified by the copyright holder.

Genealogy.com produces hundreds of genealogy CD-ROM disks, so they obviously have an interest in this topic. The copyright statement on all their most recent Family Archives disks is very clear and is an excellent explanation of this topic. Here is an extract from their copyright statement:

The fact is, nobody can own the historical information itself. Instead, publishers (such as Genealogy.com) earn copyright protection by adding value to the bare facts. Publishers start with information available in public or private record and add value to that data. For example, we add value to genealogical data by:

    • Selecting which records and data fields to compile;
    • Filling in missing or incomplete areas by merging sources;
    • Interpreting ambiguous information;
    • Arranging their compilation in a unique format;
    • Adding retrieval software to make the data easy to search.

Basically, we help minimize the barriers between you and the family history information you seek. U.S. copyright laws protect the use of information published in indexes, abstracts, interpretations, and search engines, even if they don't apply to the original data. Because Family Archives are entitled to this protection, and because Genealogy.com has paid considerable costs for their development, we rely on copyright law to help safeguard that investment.

While the above is from a Genealogy.com CD-ROM, almost all other genealogy CD-ROM producers have somewhat similar copyright statements for their own protection.

These copyright claims are based upon clear case law. The best-known case concerning copyright improvements to public domain data is that of Rural Telephone Service Co. versus Feist Publications, Inc. This case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which eventually ruled that a third-party could republish material from telephone directories. However, in that decision, Justice O’Connor clearly defined what may or may not be copyrighted. Justice O’Connor wrote:

This case concerns the interaction of two well-established propositions. The first is that facts are not copyrightable; the other, that compilations of facts generally are. Each of these propositions possesses an impeccable pedigree.

Justice O’Connor also wrote:

There is an undeniable tension between these two propositions. Many compilations consist of nothing but raw data -- i. e., wholly factual information not accompanied by any original written expression. On what basis may one claim a copyright in such a work? Common sense tells us that 100 uncopyrightable facts do not magically change their status when gathered together in one place. Yet copyright law seems to contemplate that compilations that consist exclusively of facts are potentially within its scope.

The key to resolving the tension lies in understanding why facts are not copyrightable. The sine qua non of copyright is originality. To qualify for copyright protection, a work must be original to the author. See Harper & Row, supra, at 547-549. Original, as the term is used in copyright, means only that the work was independently created by the author (as opposed to copied from other works), and that it possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity. 1 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Copyright Sec. 2.01[A], [B] (1990) (hereinafter Nimmer). To be sure, the requisite level of creativity is extremely low; even a slight amount will suffice. The vast majority of works make the grade quite easily, as they possess some creative spark, "no matter how crude, humble or obvious" it might be. Id., Sec. 1.08[C][1].

When Justice O’Connor wrote that it "possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity," she clearly covered indexed records or records converted to electronic format. These electronic records possess much more than a "minimal degree of creativity."

Finally, Justice O’Connor wrote some words that every genealogist needs to read. In the same U.S. Supreme Court decision, she wrote about copyrights of compilations of U.S. census records:

Census-takers, for example, do not "create" the population figures that emerge from their efforts; in a sense, they copy these figures from the world around them. Denicola, Copyright in Collections of Facts: A Theory for the Protection of Nonfiction Literary Works, 81 Colum. L. Rev. 516, 525 (1981) (hereinafter Denicola). Census data therefore do not trigger copyright because these data are not "original" in the constitutional sense. Nimmer [p*348] Sec. 2.03[E]. The same is true of all facts -- scientific, historical, biographical, and news of the day. "They may not be copyrighted and are part of the public domain available to every person." Miller, supra, at 1369.

Factual compilations, on the other hand, may possess the requisite originality. The compilation author typically chooses which facts to include, in what order to place them, and how to arrange the collected data so that they may be used effectively by readers. These choices as to selection and arrangement, so long as they are made independently by the compiler and entail a minimal degree of creativity, are sufficiently original that Congress may protect such compilations through the copyright laws. Nimmer Sec. 2.11[D], 3.03; Denicola 523, n. 38. Thus, even a directory that contains absolutely no protectible written expression, only facts, meets the constitutional minimum for copyright protection if it features an original selection or arrangement. See Harper & Row, 471 U.S., at 547. Accord Nimmer Sec. 3.03.

This seems clear to me: public domain records that have been compiled in such a manner that the compilation author decides what facts to include and then decided how to arrange those facts, even providing the necessary software to display those facts, has indeed added copyrightable value and thereby deserves protection under the U.S. copyright laws.

To be sure, an occasional, single query from a friend or relative asking you to look up something in a book, a magazine or a CD-ROM won’t raise any eyebrows. Copyright holders generally ignore that sort of casual request. Conversely, don’t try to set up a large-scale "service" offering such services to the general public. Should you do so, you may find an unwelcome letter in your mailbox from a legal firm.

For more information about the case of Rural Telephone Service Co. versus Feist Publications, Inc., look at: http://www.cswnet.com/~sbooks/genealogy/copyright/Creation/feist/feist.htm


- Home Pages Highlighted

The "Home Pages Highlighted" section consists of new genealogy-related home pages that you, the readers of this newsletter, nominate for publication in this newsletter. While anyone may nominate any genealogy-related home page, the process seems to work best when the webmaster for a home page nominates his or her own work. Nominations are now done online at http://www.rootsforum.com. I will review the nominations and then will list the better ones in this newsletter. If you have recently created a new genealogy-related Web page of some sort, I would strongly suggest that you enter it at http://www.rootsforum.com. You may later see your home page listed in this newsletter, which is read by 40,000 or so avid genealogists.

The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have been added recently on http://www.rootsforum.com:

Kanawha and Fayette, West Virginia surnames, including Hudnall, Schoolcraft, Poff, Trail and Barr. Floyd & Montgomery, Virginia surnames include Jennings, Epperly, Wickham, Wimmer and Sowers. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~yesterdayandtoday/rwhomepage.html

Skladman and Grinberg families home page: http://skladman.8k.com

A family tree of the following names: Jarvis, Farrens, Hastings, Bishop, Ramsey, Burnett, Towne and more. The site also includes photos and charts: http://www.fredjarvis.com/familytree/history_of_our_family.htm

Our Family Histories, with the surnames of Aylworth, Aylesworth, Ellsworth, Elsworth, Shelby,Moylan, Ellis, Smith, Atkinson, Williams, Stanley/Standley, Tate, Dennington, Gaines, Doom and Krone. This site includes lineages, family photos and more: http://www.geocities.com/deb_wms79/

The Hays of Glenbuchat describes the tiny parish of Glenbuchat, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and the home of Doug Hays’ ancestors in Upperton. The descendants of John Hay (1640) down to Doug Hay in Calgary are fully described: http://members.shaw.ca/doughay/hayglen.htm

Descendants of Babb, Boggs, Ferrell, Gallimore, Hall, Leming, McCarley, McAuley, Preston, Soule, Stephens, Williamson and White families: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~ruthhall/

History of Converted Jewish. More than 10000 surnames in Spain are of Jewish origins. This Web page seeks to unite those researching converted Jewish families from Spain along with help on heraldry and on the Inquisition: http://www.ampojuc.com

Sephardic roots, help for heraldry in Spain, Pardo families and others: http://usuarios.tripod.es/pardoinfo/crising.htm

Ohio records - biographies, burials, directories, histories, yearbooks, births, deaths, marriages and more. You will also find a link to a very active Yahoo Group as well: http://www.geocities.com/ohgenealogy/Index.html

Family Bible records, transcripts and especially images. About 300 Bibles are already online, most with digitized images, representing over 1200 surnames: http://www.biblerecords.com

The Celtic Tree Web Site contains the research information for Joan Hanlon’s family surnames as well as information found to be useful while researching these families. All these families were somewhere in Iowa by the latter half of the 19th Century: http://www.celtictree.com

Information about the first Busel (Boozel, Boozell, Boosel) family reunion held in York, PA in October 2001. Includes reunion pictures, and ancestral pictures: http://www.Boozell.com

Colchester County, Nova Scotia genealogy, with roots in New England and British Isles. Surnames include Creelman, Dexter, McCallum, Aldred, Johnson, Hamilton, Young, Ferguson, Tupper, Dunlap, Blanchard, Beazley, McCormick, Cameron, Smith, Putnam...that's just a few of the most recent: http://www3.sympatico.ca/davidcr/

Baker, Brown, Franks/Frankowski, Gobel, Huffman, and Rohr Families of Ohio: http://www.hometown.aol.com/engineer9/genealogy.htm

Doranna Huartson Glettig’s family history site. Family names include Huartson, Golladay, Stockwell, Dawson, Priest, Cody, Settle, Ferguson, Dickson, Lee, Champlin, Havner and Newland. The site has lots of pictures, many unidentified: http://www.greatbasin.net/~doranna/Huartson

Researching the history and traditions of the O'Grady, O'Hara and McCormick families: http://www.bctonline.com/users/pooka/

To submit your genealogy page to this newsletter, enter the necessary information at: http://www.rootsforum.com. 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.


If you would like to submit news, information or press releases for possible inclusion in future newsletters, send them to richard@eastman.net. The author does reserve the right to accept or reject any articles submitted.


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.


COPYRIGHTS: The contents of this newsletter are copyright by Richard W. Eastman with the following exception:

Many of the articles published in these newsletters contain quotes or references from others, especially from other Web sites, software users manuals, press releases and other public announcements. Any words in this newsletter attributed to another person or organization remain the copyrighted materials of the original author(s).

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The following article is from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2002 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author.

Thank you for your cooperation.


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: richard@eastman.net. Due to the volume of e-mail received, he is unable to answer every e-mail message received.


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