Fast & reliable dial-up Internet access!


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.

Do not reply to this message. This is a post-only mailing.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to or see the instructions at the end of this newsletter. This newsletter is available in both HTML and ASCII text versions. You can change your subscription at:

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

A Weekly Summary of Events and
Topics of Interest to Online Genealogists

Vol. 7 No. 16 – April 22, 2002

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

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

Past issues of this Newsletter
are available at:

This weekly newsletter is available in both HTML and ASCII text editions. Details are available at:

Please feel free to forward copies of this newsletter to other 

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.


- Something Amiss with Online 1901 U.K. Census
- Post-1901 Canadian Census News
- Massachusetts Pensioners' Receipts 1829-1837 Online
- United Methodist Archives Connection Online
- New Eastern European Archival Database
- Dexter, Maine Obituaries Online
- Irish Maps and Aerial Photos Online
- XML version of GEDCOM
- American Radio Works
- Help Wanted at NGS
- Help Wanted at NEHGS
- Appleton's Books Switches to Internet Only
- Genealogy in Ann Landers’ Column
- Home Pages Highlighted

- Something Amiss with Online 1901 U.K. Census

My e-mail box is filling up with comments and questions from people who want to access the online 1901 Census for England and Wales. There have been rumblings of discontent all this year, but now the rumblings have reached a crescendo. It seems there are multiple problems with the census database. First of all, it isn’t online anymore! Next, there are questions about the accuracy of the indexes. Third, there are questions about the sale of vouchers that remain worthless.

By way of background, the U.K. Public Record Office launched a new service in January of this year that was to make the 1901 census records available worldwide for a modest fee. The Census Enumeration Books were to be scanned and the images put online on a pay-as-you-view basis. They were also to be indexed -- a name index for free and a full indexed entry on a pay-as-you-view basis.

Within minutes after becoming available, anxious genealogists and others who are seeking information about UK residents from over a century ago overloaded the site. The Web site virtually ground to a halt as more than a million users tried to log on and trace their family history during the first three hours. You can read more about the site’s launch in my January 9, 2002 newsletter at:

The following week I again wrote about the continuing problems in this newsletter. The Public Record Office (PRO) announced that they had ordered more Web servers to handle the unexpected crush of genealogists who wanted to access the online transcribed records. The PRO announcement said, in part:

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.

I wrote those two articles in the first few weeks of January. Nearly four months later, the site still is "unable to meet continuing levels of demand." For a few weeks you could only access the site from certain Family Records Centres and at Kew. However, by late January the site was shut down entirely, and a notice said that the database was undergoing "enhancements and rigorous testing." There certainly must be a lot of testing going on as the database has been undergoing "enhancements and rigorous testing" for more than three months now. The PRO Web site at still says, "We apologise that the testing is taking much longer than anticipated but it is vital that we have a reliable service for users."

A second issue also has arisen: that of the quality of the indexes created by QinetiQ’s subcontractors. Those who have succeeded in accessing the database claim that the error rate is outrageous. The Federation of Family History Society’s Web site states "initially 85% of the transcribed data failed to meet the (unspecified) accuracy rate required."

The 1901 UK Census was indexed and placed online by QinetiQ. That organization is a part of DERA, the British Government's "Defence Evaluation and Research Agency." QinetiQ is a wholly government-owned corporation, according the Web site at: and at

QinetiQ originally planned to have the indexes created by residents of the British prison system. However, eventually much of the indexing work was actually done in Sri Lanka. There is some disagreement as to how much of the indexing was done in that country. The PRO's own advisory council, with members drawn from the Society of Genealogists, the Federation of Family History Society, the Guild Of One Name Studies and others, reportedly was told that only a small percentage would be so transcribed and that these would be mostly the Welsh returns. Yet other documents state that 78% of the total indexing was done on the Indian sub-continent. Whatever the source, those who have used the 1901 online census during its brief availability claim that the error rate is much too high to be acceptable. It appears that those doing the transcription work often were unable to read the 100-year-old handwriting.

Barney Tyrwhitt-Drake queried his MP about this. Mr. David Lidington (Aylesbury) then asked the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to her answer of 20th March, Official Report, column 414W, on the 1901 census, what steps were taken to familiarize employees based in India and Sri Lanka with the handwriting and spelling used by enumerators of the 1901 census. Ms. Rosie Winterton, Parliamentary Secretary, responded:

The data input company based in India and Sri Lanka demonstrated that it had in house skills at interpreting late 19th century handwriting by producing test results of a very high level of accuracy prior to the award of the contract. In order to augment these skills, ten Public Record Office staff with expertise in interpreting census enumeration returns spent, between them, twenty weeks at the company's bases in India and Sri Lanka. They gave training sessions on the detailed transcription rules, on the formation of the handwriting to be found in the returns and on the etymology of Welsh place names. They also responded to queries raised by individual operators while they were transcribing the returns.

Public Record Office staff ensured that keying operators had access to appropriate reference sources such as English and Welsh gazetteers and name listings. They also provided supervisors with detailed feedback on errors encountered during the quality assessment of the transcribed data to seek to prevent such errors re-occurring.

The transcription rule for most of the data found in the 1901 census returns was to transcribe it exactly as it appeared. As a result, there was no requirement to translate 1901 spelling to its modern day equivalent.

Barney Tyrwhitt-Drake and others who have used the indexes claim that the above response is misleading. Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake writes:

The only quantitative assessment of the transcription accuracy of the process so far has been the one published in Computers in Genealogy by John Dawson (vol 7. No.5/6, p.248) using data from the 1891 pilot of Norfolk, which was prepared to the same protocols. In this article he concludes "There must be serious doubts about the usefulness of a product such as the 1891 Census Pilot of Norfolk when so many obvious errors of transcription remain." I can only comment on my subjective experience of editing both the 1891 pilot and the 1901 itself as well as the errors found in my one 50 pence download on 1 Jan 2002. I think John Dawson may be guilty of understatement.

There has been some head-scratching about the work of the "ten Public Record Office staff with expertise in interpreting census enumeration returns [who] spent, between them, twenty weeks at the company's bases in India and Sri Lanka." It would appear that their time spent in India and Sri Lanka did not result in quality indexes.

A third issue revolves around the use of prepaid vouchers. There were to be two ways of paying for use of the 1901 U.K. Census database: one was with a credit card and the other was with a prepaid voucher. The PRO appointed a large number of resellers for the prepaid vouchers and offered each reseller a discount on each £1000 of vouchers sold. It is estimated that more than £100,000 ($160,000 U.S.) worth of vouchers were sold. The vouchers remain worthless as they pay for access that is unavailable. To their credit, the PRO has offered refunds for those who have given up and now simply want their money back.

Genealogy groups across the U.K. and elsewhere are now mobilizing. Many have written to their MPs (Members of Parliament) demanding action. No 10 Downing Street (the home of the Prime Minister) accepts e-petitions. A suitable web site has been set up for those concerned to add their signatures; there are 1,200 signatures there already and the list is growing. It will be open until May 7.for signing and then sent to Downing Street. You can add your name to the petition at:

This "grass roots" uprising is continuing, and you can find a lot of information about it online. You can start at the Federation of Family History Society’s Web site at: Also look at: A mailing list also has been established about the 1901 Census. To subscribe, send an e-mail to and in the body of the message just write one word: subscribe. Do not write anything else, not even your signature.

This should be a fascinating story to watch in the coming months. My thanks to Jeanne Bunting, Barney Tyrwhitt-Drake, Linda Jones and others for all the information they supplied about the U.K. 1901 census fiasco.

- Post-1901 Canadian Census News

I have written before about the Canadian government’s plans to either destroy or else seal forever all census records after 1901. Gordon Watts has been leading an effort to stop this loss of vital genealogy information and has published frequent newsletters about this battle waged by genealogists all over Canada as well as the rest of the world. Now Gordon writes:

On Wednesday 17 April 2002 the Environics Research Group Report on the Town Hall Meetings and Focus Groups regarding Release of the 1906 and 1911 Census Records, was quietly placed on the Statistics Canada website. There was no fanfare, no parade, no notice. Later the same day, links on the Environics website no longer went to individual reports on the Town Hall meetings, but now opened the Report on Statistics Canada's website.

I have finished reading the Report, and to say the least, I am not impressed.

If you have an interest in preserving Canadian genealogical information, you need to read Gordon Watts’ full report at:

- Massachusetts Pensioners' Receipts 1829-1837 Online

Last week I wrote about the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s new "Early Vital Records of Massachusetts" database. The Society also has recently added a smaller, but noteworthy, online database: Massachusetts Pensioners' Receipts 1829-1837.

Many of the soldiers who served during the Revolutionary War were given pensions from the federal government for their service. The manuscript collection at NEHGS contains a number of original receipts with the soldiers' signatures, acknowledging the receipt of their pension funds. This searchable database contains images of the receipts, including the original signatures or marks of the pensioners.

The number of records in this database is small, but if your ancestor is one of the few listed, you could find this to be an excellent source of information. You can even see an image of the original document containing your ancestor’s signature. Access to this database is restricted to members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

The Massachusetts Pensioners' Receipts 1829-1837 database, with images, is available at:

- United Methodist Archives Connection Online

A little over 5 years ago, the General Commission began the United Methodist Annual Conference Archives Survey Project. The purpose of the project was to bring together into one place basic descriptive information about the holdings of the conference archives. Forty-one of the 65 annual conferences participated in training workshops on how to conduct the survey. To date, 25 have sent their completed surveys. The information is being re-keyed onto an online Web site. At present there are 5 conferences up on the site, with 2 to 3 more due online soon.

At the UM Archives Connection home page you will find a table, which holds the names of the annual conferences which are on-line. Selecting a conference name will display the directory information about that conference as well as summary information about their holdings (books, newspapers, journals and such). A link at the bottom of the conference page will force a display of the archival holdings for that institution. The material appears in no particular order.

The other option is to select the search link from the UMAC home page and then do a keyword or topic search across the entire database.

The United Methodist Archives Connection is produced by L. Dale Patterson, Archivist of United Methodist Church Archives. You can access this resource at:

My thanks to Sandra Shafer for the information about this valuable new resource.

- New Eastern European Archival Database

The following is from the Routes to Roots Foundation, Inc.:

Researching ancestral documents in the "old country" is now much easier and quicker with the new website developed by Miriam Weiner for the Routes to Roots Foundation, Inc. (a not-for-profit foundation). The website consists of two parts: (1) a 275-page book and (2) a searchable database (by town name) of archive documents for towns in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Moldova and Ukraine based upon the archival holdings of the foregoing countries.

While it may be tempting to first choose ARCHIVE DATABASE from the Menu and then initiate a "town or locality" search, a few minutes of patience will be well spent by reading/printing the Introduction and the pages within the Introduction relating to specific countries.

A town or locality search may be done in three ways: (1) by exact town-name spelling (current); (2) by the Daitch-Mokotoff soundex search; or by (3) "begins with…." The results produce a list of document types in archives throughout the five countries. After you select documents for the town that interests you, you can then click on ARCHIVE NAME which will take you to a page where you can find the archive addresses and other contact information. To search for specific family names, it is then necessary to initiate a search of the relevant archive (methods of archive access included in Introduction and in FAQ)

The archive inventory data was collected and verified in official cooperation with the state archives in all five countries and the archivists have agreed to continue updating the inventory as new material becomes known.

The website menu includes: Introduction, Archive Acknowledgments, Archive Chapters, Archive Database, Maps, Foundation Data, Publications, Related Websites, Supporters and FAQ. Many of the website pages are excerpted chapters from Jewish Roots in Poland and Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova, supplemented by similar new chapters from archivists in Belarus and Lithuania (in PDF files in order to preserve the format from the books). There are numerous links to other sites throughout this website which will save the user extensive time. For example, there is a link to a website in Poland where one can find addresses of Urzad Stanu Cywilnego offices (civil registration offices usually located at the local town hall) throughout Poland. There are links to websites where one can find archives and libraries by country, throughout the world.

The Home Page includes information about which version of browsers work best with this website and instructions about downloading and using Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing PDF files on the website. See the SITE MAP on the Home Page which contains a detailed outline of the website. For questions and clarifications, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section (last button on the Menu).

There is no charge for access to this website and any page may be printed. The archive data is being continually updated and expanded as new information is received. The process of collecting/verifying data from archives is an on-going process. The website includes a form for submitting new/revised material which will be added to the database upon verification by the appropriate archivists. See

- Dexter, Maine Obituaries Online

The Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter, Maine has put a lot of obituaries online. These obituaries were originally published in the Eastern Gazette, the local newspaper. I spent some time this week using the obituaries database and found that it covered not just the town of Dexter but also all the surrounding towns served by the newspaper. It also frequently lists the deaths of former residents who had since moved elsewhere.

Not all of the obituaries are online yet; apparently this is an on-going project. However, when I used the database, I found some obituaries as early as 1858 and others as late as 2000.

The menus to use the database are a bit stark although very simple to use. You can search by last name or by year, or you can search for any word in the database. I found the last option to be a great way of finding relatives. Obituaries will often state that "the deceased is survived by" and then will list many names. Sometimes a search for a family name found someone listed as a survivor of the deceased, thereby giving me information about an ancestor. In addition, scanning through the list of other survivors often identifies siblings, cousins and children.

I should point out one reason why I found this database so useful: Dexter is my hometown. That’s where I was born and raised. I found a number of my ancestors and other relatives listed in this new online resource. If you have ancestors who lived in or near this small town in central Maine, you may find it as valuable as I did. However, the site also serves as an excellent example of what a group of individuals can do in any small town: put your obituaries on the Web where everyone can easily search them.

The Dexter, Maine online obituaries can be found at the Abbott Memorial Library’s Web site at:

I’d like to thank my schooldays friend, Evelyn White, for telling me about the Dexter obituaries online database.

- Irish Maps and Aerial Photos Online

Ern Ackroyd in Canada sent along a note about a nifty site that can be useful to genealogists looking for specific address in Ireland. Ern writes:

It has just been brought to my attention that a site in Ireland has mapping similar to MapQuest but with a neat twist. If you zoom in closely enough, you will then be presented with an aerial photo of the locale. The photos are close-up enough to almost identify the type of car in the driveway.

The photo feature is not available in all areas of Ireland, but I know that it is for Dublin.

Thought you might like to know of it. Have a look.

I looked at pictures of Dublin and was amazed to see automobiles and lorries traveling on the roadways. Anything closer and I could have read the license plate numbers!

The MapFlow maps and pictures are available at:

- XML version of GEDCOM

About a year ago, I wrote two articles about the LDS Church’s adoption of XML for use in future GEDCOM releases. I wrote, "Randy Bryson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that the Church is now standardizing on the XML programming language for all future software products." You can read those two articles at: and

In the first of those two articles, I wrote, "None of this exists today. Randy Bryson’s announcement simply indicates a future course. I suspect it will be two years or even longer before the new XML format is in place and in use. However, the benefits will justify the wait."

It has been a bit more than a year since those words were written. Now the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has posted a draft of the specification on the Internet for review and comment. This draft is not a complete document, which is still under development. It should not be considered as a working specification. The authors of the draft welcome comments and suggestions. The contact information is contained with the document.

The GEDCOM 6.0 draft is in Adobe Acrobat format. You can access it at:

- American Radio Works

If you enjoy documentaries, check out what's available on the American Radio Works site. You can listen to documentaries on struggling family farms, anecdotes of California prison guards, or personal accounts of segregation in the South. These stories and others can also be heard on your local public radio.

American Radio Works is the documentary project of Minnesota Public Radio and NPR News. ARW is public radio's largest documentary production unit; it creates documentaries, series projects, and investigative reports for the public radio system and the Internet.

You can listen to the documentaries at:

- Help Wanted at NGS

The following announcement is from the U.S. National Genealogical Society:

National Genealogical Society
Editor, National Genealogical Society Quarterly
Position Available

The National Genealogical Society Quarterly, published since 1912, represents the highest standards of the National Genealogical Society and the genealogical community. It publishes the best in research and genealogical scholarship from all parts of the nation and ethnic groups. Material includes compiled genealogies, case studies, methodology, notes on little-known resources, critical reviews and unpublished sources from private and family archives. It is recognized as one of the premier academic and scholarly journals in the field today. The editor has responsibility for assuring that the NGSQ maintains its stellar reputation and that its articles continue to represent the best in genealogical research and knowledge.

Responsibilities: The editor will be expected to:

    • solicit, acquire, appraise, arrange peer review of, select and edit all articles to be published in the Quarterly.
    • maintain a panel of advisors who represent the highest ranks of American genealogical scholarship.
    • supervise the journal’s editorial assistants, proofreaders, indexer, and book review editor.
    • prepare articles, cover, and graphics for transmittal to the printer.
    • work with the printer throughout the publication process.
    • respond promptly and process all editorial correspondence.
    • judges (with other panel members) submissions to the NGS Family History Writing Contest.

Compensation: The editor is employed as an independent contractor. Compensation is in the mid-five figures.

Qualifications: Ten or more years experience in professional or serious genealogical research. Demonstrated skill in performing complex research, analyzing conflicting data and reaching sound conclusions. Knowledge of good grammar, sentence construction, and a wide vocabulary are essential. The applicant must be able to make a writer’s good work easy for the reader to understand, to follow the writer’s flow and thinking process as well as comprehend the purpose and meaning of the article. The position requires desktop publishing experience, the ability to work with multiple authors, and the proven ability to adhere to deadlines.

Preference will be given to those with academic and genealogical credentials, extensive editorial experience and a wide range of knowledge of a variety of genealogical specialties, time-periods, ethnicities and research methods.

Application Process: Please submit the following four items: a) a resume; b) a brief, unedited article, written by yourself, of the type that would be appropriate for inclusion in the NGSQ; c) a brief statement as to what you feel should be the mission and philosophy of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly; and (d) what, if anything, you would change about the Quarterly if you were selected as editor.

Early application is encouraged. The selection process will begin immediately. No application will be accepted after July 1, 2002.

Please send material to Marsha Hoffman Rising, Chair, Recruitment Task Committee, 2324 E. Nottingham St., Springfield, MO 65804-7821. Electronic submissions may be made to

- Help Wanted at NEHGS

There are three positions open at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. The positions are:

  • Administrative Assistant to the Director
  • Director of Development
  • Digital Production Coordinator

Genealogy experience obviously would be an asset for any job applicant. For more information, please visit the careers section of the NEHGS website:

- Appleton's Books Switches to Internet Only

Appleton's Books & Genealogy is a bookstore in Charlotte, North Carolina that has been operating for seven years. While Appleton’s has always been a "brick-and-mortar" walk-in bookstore, their mail order and Web business probably created more sales than the in-person customers did. Now Appleton’s has announced that they are closing the walk-in store in order to focus solely on Internet sales.

The idea of going to the Internet (only) is probably a good one. Genealogy bookstores are specialty businesses, each attracting relatively few customers in any geographic area. By moving to e-commerce on the Web, such a store can reach thousands more potential customers.

Several walk-in genealogy bookstores have already closed in the past few years, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more disappear before long. However, e-commerce on the Web appears to be growing as more and more people find that buying on the Web is easier than purchasing in stores. The old wives’ tale about credit card safety on the Web seems to finally be going away as well. The result is that small specialty retailers, such as genealogy bookstores, can succeed and flourish in the new electronic marketplace.

All of Appleton’s present inventory as well as the bookshelves and furnishings are now clearance priced. You can find a complete listing of sale items at Appleton’s Web site:

- Genealogy in Ann Landers’ Column

Ann Landers dispenses advice to the lovelorn and many others in her daily newspaper column. This week she published a "computer widow’s" suggestion to other women on how to cope with a husband who spends a lot of time with his computer, ignoring his wife. The advice? Take up genealogy!

Hmmm, I think these couples should buy a second computer as well.

You can find Ann Landers’ column on many online newspaper Web sites. I found it at:

- 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

The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have recently been listed by newsletter readers at

Family History Research Service for England and Wales: a commercial service that offers complete family histories, help and advice, individual research services such as certification and census, tracing lost relatives and missing friends:

Genealogy of the Schadrack family in the US and its European ancestors:

Bert's Homepage - with links to family surnames of Dagg, Scragg, Fleming, Casson, Heritage, Harvey and more. These families migrated from Ireland and England to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Some photos of family and relatives included:

A Web site for the surnames of Bush, Butcher, Carpenter & Moree/Morï (from Switzerland to Indiana) The others are covered from MA, NY, VA and WV:

To submit your genealogy page to this newsletter, enter the necessary information at: 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:

If you would like to submit news, information or press releases for possible inclusion in future newsletters, send them to 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 user’s 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).

You are hereby granted rights, unless otherwise specified, to re-distribute articles from this newsletter to other parties provided:

  1. You do so strictly for non-commercial purposes
  2. Your re-distribution is limited to one or two articles per newsletter; do not re-distribute the newsletter in its entirety
  3. You may not republish any articles containing words attributed to another person or organization until you obtain permission from that person or organization. While you do have permission to republish words written by Richard W. Eastman, you do not have automatic authority to republish words written by others, even if their words appear in this newsletter.

Also, please include the following statement with any articles you re-distribute:

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

Subscription information: This newsletter is sent to you free of charge. Please feel free to copy this subscription information and pass it on to anyone else who you think might be interested in obtaining a free subscription. You can subscribe, unsubscribe or change the e-mail address for your subscription at: