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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Vol. 7 No. 20 – May 20, 2002
This newsletter was sponsored by Ancestry.com,
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Copyright© 2002 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.
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Much of this week's newsletter was written on board airplanes, while waiting at airport terminals, or in a hotel room. I spent four days at the annual conference of the U.S. National Genealogical Society, held this year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This year’s event was co-sponsored and hosted by the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society. I will devote most of this week's newsletter to the things that I saw and heard at the conference.
The conference itself seemed to be a success although attendance wasn't as high as in some past years. About 1,500 genealogists gathered at the Midwest Express Center in downtown Milwaukee, a very modern conference facility. The Midwest Express Center proved to be an excellent facility for a genealogy conference; it had lots of room and excellent acoustics and was easy to navigate. It was located downtown, within easy walking distance of the conference hotels as well as numerous restaurants.
The conference ran nine simultaneous tracks of presentations plus additional computer labs all day long for each of the four days. Subjects ranged from elementary "how to get started in genealogy" topics to more advanced topics dealing with detailed research techniques. The list of speakers seemed to be a "Who’s Who in Genealogy" as most of the well-known genealogy speakers were there. Many of this year's lectures covered technology topics.
The vendors' area was first-class this year with a large and well-illuminated hall. At first I thought that the number of vendors present was smaller than some previous years. However, as I wandered around the exhibits hall, I found that this was a false impression, apparently caused by two things: (1.) it was a larger hall than usual, so the 100+ vendors did not fill the room, and (2.) some of the corporate vendors who have used large display booths in past years have now scaled down the size of their booths. This apparently is in response to the current business recession, which is being felt in the genealogy business world as well as elsewhere. A snack area filled the far end of the exhibitors’ hall, and that area had plenty of seats for those with aching feet.
I was particularly pleased to see the GENTECH banner prominently displayed at the NGS booth, visible as I entered the hall. The NGS and GENTECH merger still has not been completed since the lawyers are still working on the details. The signing of papers is now planned for early summer. However, NGS obviously has already "adopted" this new child in actions without waiting for the paperwork to clear.
I always look for new products and services to be announced at the NGS conference. In fact, there were a number of such announcements this year. However, there seemed to be fewer announcements than usual for new software products. Instead, there were many, many new announcements concerning sources of genealogy data. Most of these announcements concern data distributed online or on CD-ROM or even DVD-ROM. I think this reflects a maturity of genealogy technology. For the past decade or so many people have been predicting that almost all genealogists would use computers as a tool in their research efforts. We predicted that the genealogy community would soon take computers for granted; that computers would become the norm. This year’s NGS conference seemed to confirm that these predictions have now come true. Most of this year’s announcements were about new sources of data, not about new software functionality. I will describe some of the things I saw at the NGS conference in the following articles.
All in all, the vendors’ area of the 2002 National Genealogical Society Conference was a great place to learn about new products of interest to genealogists. The vendors’ area was an excellent complement to the 150+ presentations that provided excellent instruction to genealogists of all experience levels. To the National Genealogical Society and to the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society, I can only say, "Well done!"
My personal highlight occurred Saturday evening after the conference closed. About forty readers of this newsletter gathered for an informal dinner at a local restaurant. The restaurant had been a German athletic and social club in the late 1800s and well into the 1900s. It was converted to a restaurant some years ago. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The entrance even had a map of Wisconsin, showing the areas where many different ethnic groups settled. It seemed a fitting place for genealogists.
The Historic Turner Restaurant menu used to be primarily German food, but many other dishes have since been added. We dined on an eclectic variety of bratwurst, sausages, nachos, pasta and baby back ribs. We had a noisy evening, and I think everyone enjoyed himself or herself. I know that I did.
Next year’s NGS conference will be held May 28 through 31, 2003 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I suspect that the Pittsburgh organizers’ goal is to make the 2003 event at least as successful as this year’s event, if not more so. You might want to mark your calendar now.
RootsMate was the only brand-new, full-featured genealogy product announced at the 2002 NGS conference. RootsMate is produced by FormalSoft, a small company owned by Bruce Buzbee. Bruce is well known in the genealogy community as the mastermind behind Family Origins, a very popular genealogy program originally sold by Parsons Technology, which was acquired some time ago by Genealogy.com. Genealogy.com promoted Family Origins for a short while but apparently stopped advertising it more than a year ago. The Genealogy.com Web site today heavily advertises Family Tree Maker but makes no mention of Family Origins. The Genealogy.com booth at this year’s conference also made no mention of the program. I don’t remember the last time I saw any press releases or advertisements from Genealogy.com about Family Origins. Bruce apparently is breaking away from the Genealogy.com "umbrella" and is developing a new full-featured genealogy program to be called RootsMate. This new program is all new; it doesn’t share any code with Family Origins.
RootsMate appears to have all the features of most of today’s well-known genealogy programs. When I referred to it as being in beta, Bruce corrected me and said it is still alpha code. Not all of the functionality has been coded yet. Once he is happy with it, he will turn it over to a group of beta testers to find the bugs, if any. RootsMate will not be available for purchase until later this year. He promised to deliver an early copy to me once the program is ready, so I hope to write about it in this newsletter at that time. If you would like to know more about RootsMate when it nears its delivery date, you can sign up for an announcement mailing list athttp://www.rootsmate.com.
The Master Genealogist version 5.0 was demonstrated many times by Bob Velke and his staff at the Wholly Genes Software booth. I noticed that the Wholly Genes booth was crowded almost all the time for four days. It seemed that almost everyone at the conference wanted to see this new release. The long-awaited version 5.0 was not available for sale at the conference; it is expected to be available this coming week. The program’s new interface looks great. Several of the program’s beta testers were at the NGS conference, and they all agreed that version 5.0 is stable. Several of them said that they have really enjoyed using TMG 5.0’s many new features. Look for a review of the new version soon in this newsletter.
- Progeny Software’s New Products
Progeny Software announced new programs and some upgrades.
Progeny Charting Companion 2.0 was released this week. The Charting Companion is being released in three versions: one each for users of Legacy, Ancestral Quest and Ancestry Family Tree. With these new Charting Companion programs, users can create a variety of professional genealogy charts and reports that significantly expand their charting capabilities. Charts available include the traditional Ancestor, Descendant, and Hourglass charts, as well as Fan chart, and a new Bow Tie chart, designed and developed by Progeny Software. As its name suggests, the Bow Tie chart takes the shape of a symmetrical bow tie, displaying the subject in a center box, with the mother and her ancestors to the right, and the father and his ancestors to the left.
The Legacy Charting Companion Version 1.1 is an upgrade to the initial release in October 2001. Ancestral Quest and AFT Charting Companion are being released to the market for the first time.
Another popular program from Progeny Software, GeneLines Timeline Software version 2.0, continues to be the leading timeline program for genealogists. This program will read data directly from GEDCOM files or directly from Personal Ancestral File, Family Tree Maker, or Legacy. It will then print timelines in more formats than I can remember. See the Progeny Web site athttp://www.progenysoftware.com for visual examples. Version 2.0 added a full descendants time line chart, a new fan chart (which still has me scratching my head, trying to find the words to describe it), as well as the ability to publish files in Adobe Acrobat PDF format without requiring Adobe Acrobat software. GeneLines Timeline Software version 2.0 also now has the ability to edit charts on the screen for color, fonts, and some layout variations. The previous edition required the user to specify all this on menus, then click on an icon to create the charts. The latest version allows the user to edit the results in somewhat of a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) manner without resorting back to the menus. GeneLines Time Line Software version 2.0 is presently in late beta test; it is expected to be released within a very few weeks. Keep an eye on http://www.progenysoftware.com for more details.
Perhaps the "sleeper" in the Progeny Software catalog is their brand-new, free timeline program, called TimeLine Maker 1.0. Even though this program also has the word "timeline" in its title, it should not be confused with their other program, GeneLines Timeline Software version 2.0. It is a different program that addresses the needs of a different audience. TimeLine Maker 1.0 is a generic timeline program for use by historians, students, or anyone else that needs to create a timeline. It does not have the wide variety of reports and other options that are in Progeny’s primary timeline program. Since it is not aimed at genealogists, it does not read GEDCOM files. All data must be entered by hand. However, it can create some very impressive timelines in color or in black-and-white on any Windows compatible printer. Best of all is its price: free. Since there is no profit in free software, we can overlook the fact that Progeny doesn’t advertise this program very much. However, depending upon user feedback, this might become a commercial product in the future, once it receives more functionality. In the meantime, if your child or grandchild needs to create a timeline for a homework assignment, go tohttp://www.progenysoftware.com to download the free TimeLine Creator 1.0 program.
- Family Chronicle Magazine Exhibits Video CDs
Family Chronicle Magazine was showing some interesting technology in their booth. They were able to create family videos on standard CD-ROM disks. The input came from 8-millimeter home movies, VHS or BetaMax videotapes, or from any other source of video and/or audio. Anyone can create these video CDs on a standard CD-writer, using a combination of several programs. There are no DVD disks involved, only standard CD-ROM disks. What surprised me is that publisher Halvor Moorshead says that he can fit up to 70-minutes of high-quality video onto a standard CD-ROM disk. Moorshead hinted that a future article in Family Chronicle Magazine will tell how to create these home video CDs. Keep an eye onhttp://www.familychronicle.com.
- New Products from the Family History Library
The Family History Library was showing their new products at the NGS conference, most of which have been reviewed recently in this newsletter. However, one product was so new that I think it was still warm: The Pedigree Resource File Discs 36 through 40 are now shipping. This set also includes a new Master Index to all the Pedigree Resource File CD-ROM Discs.
- British Isles Data CD-ROM Disks Now Available in North America
S&N Genealogy Supplies is a British company that is the major supplier of U.K. genealogy data in electronic format. The company has many products available on CD-ROM disk and recently began shipping some of their larger datasets on higher capacity DVD disks. Most of the data supplied by S&N Genealogy Supplies covers England and Wales, along with a bit from Scotland and Ireland. S&N has been quite successful with sales in the U.K. However, this data obviously is also attractive to many genealogists living outside the British Isles. S&N’s owner, Nigel Bayley, was at the conference in Milwaukee. While there, he and ProQuest/Heritage Quest jointly announced that Heritage Quest will now sell these disks to North American customers. This information is so new that the list of U.K. disks does not yet appear on Heritage Quest’s online catalog. Look for the catalog to be updated within the next 2 or 3 weeks.
It was interesting to note that many of S&N Genealogy Supplies’ products were available for sale at the Heritage Quest booth, including the brand new Lancashire 1891 Census on CD-ROM and on DVD-ROM. This set contains digitized images of the hand written entries in the census books. This set is so large that it fills 38 CD-ROM disks. However, the same amount of data will fit on 3 DVD disks. Heritage Quest and S&N Genealogy Supplies sell it in either format for $79.00 (U.S. funds). Now that almost all new desktop computers and even many laptops ship with DVD drives, I suspect that DVD will be almost universal within three years or so. It’s nice to see large sets of data released in this format. These data disks from S&N Genealogy Supplies operate equally well on Macintosh and Windows systems.
- New Data Disks from Family Toolbox
Family Toolbox, a company operated by Matt and April Helms, has released several new CD-ROM disks, including:
The FamilyToolbox disks work on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. Details may be found athttp://www.DigiSources.com.
Genealogy.com has a new service for genealogists. Building on the strengths of their new owner, A&E Networks, a new Genealogy.com Travel companion site has now appeared. Genealogy.com Travel specializes in travel to your ancestral homeland(s). You can book travel and optional tours to the British Isles, Europe, South America, and many other countries. Best of all, you can customize your trip in many ways. You can go to the Web site and select from a wide variety of pre-planned tours, special interest pre-planned tours, or custom tours. These tours include both escorted tours and "on your own" tours. This is an easy method of planning a customized trip to "do it your way." All packages can be researched, created, and booked in real-time, using Genealogy.com Travel at:http://www.travel.genealogy.com.
The Newberry Library of Chicago has released several new books and now is creating a matching Web site for "The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries." The printed and online atlas covers all changes in the boundaries of every county of the United States from their initial creation up to today. The changes listed include every name change, every boundary change, and the attachment of previously unorganized territories to operational counties. This atlas even lists unsuccessful proposed counties. The Web site is a work in progress, but you can see the current status at:http://www.newberry.org/ahcbp.
The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania is expanding their successful "Virtual Lecture" series. These online lectures allow you to learn from today’s prominent genealogists without leaving the comfort of your own home. You can even participate in question-and-answer sessions with the instructors. The next Virtual Lectures will be held on May 22 from 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM Eastern Standard Time. The experts will be Kathleen W. Hinckley, CGRS and Jefferson Moak, NARA Archivist. They will be answering questions about the newly released 1930 U.S. Census. More information is available at:http://genealogy.about.com/mpchat.htm.
- New Books Announced At NGS Conference
Several new books were announced at this year’s NGS conference:
- Microfiche and Microfilm Scanners Unveiled
Genealogy conventions are not noted as being the places to shop for hardware. However, two vendors this year displayed somewhat similar hardware devices of special interest to genealogists.
The Eye Com Image Mouse will convert microfiche (and optionally, microfilm) to digitized images. This device looks like an oversized computer mouse. It sits on a special "mouse pad." You can place a sheet of microfiche on the "mouse pad" and then manually move the Eye Com Image Mouse over the sheet of microfiche. A light source built into the mouse pad shines through the microfiche, allowing sensors within the mouse to capture the image in much the same way as normal desktop computer scanners. The Eye Com Image Mouse then sends the image to the computer, where software converts the image to any of the popular formats in use today, including JPEG and GIF formats. Optional attachments include a microfilm attachment that converts the Eye Com Image Mouse into a microfilm-to-digitized-images device. The Eye Com Image Mouse is fairly portable and could easily be transported to a library or an archive. However, it does require an electrical outlet for operation.
The Eye Com Image Mouse is a bit expensive for home use, approximately $1,500. Adding microfilm capability adds another $1,000 or more, depending upon the exact options selected. However, I can envision this being purchased by genealogy libraries and by small companies, all of which are interested in converting public domain information into computer format. It works on Windows 98 or on later versions of Windows. The Eye Com Image Mouse is being sold by Archive Publishing of Oxford, Massachusetts, a firm well-known in genealogy circles for publishing Massachusetts Town and Vital Records on microfiche. Archive Publishing has recently become a dealer for this new device. Owner Jay Holbrook reports that the dealership is so new that Archive Publishing does not have the item listed on their Web site. However, I suspect that details will appear there soon athttp://www.archivepublishing.com. In the meantime, you can also look at: http://www.eyecom.com.
A competitive device was also shown at the NGS conference by InfoGraphix Corporation of Hartford, Wisconsin. The Microfilm ScanPro is a larger and heavier unit that converts microfilm to digitized images. It connects to a Windows 98 or later PC via the parallel port. The device works only with microfilm, not with microfiche. The price of the Microfilm ScanPro reflects its larger size and increased manufacturing costs. It sells for about $2,500 and offers a number of options for additional charges. Details are available at:http://www.infographix.com.
- California Senate Bill 1614 Threatens To Close Genealogy Records
California Senate Bill 1614 is a threat to all genealogists. First, it threatens anyone researching California families since this bill, if passed, will reduce access to California records. Secondly, it threatens all genealogists as this could become a precedent, encouraging other states to similarly restrict access to birth and death records.
The passage of California Senate Bill 1614 will close the indexes to both birth and death records. These indexes will then be replaced by a "noncomprehensive index" that can only be viewed at the California Department of Health Services and/or in individual county recorders offices. No indexes would be available online, on CD-ROM or in print in any other place.
The legislative do-gooders have proposed this obnoxious legislation as a method of preventing identity theft. However, neither the California State Department of Health Services nor any of the county clerks have ever found any incidents where present identity thefts could be linked to either the sale of birth or death certificates or to these indexes. In other words, this piece of legislation is being proposed because someone thinks that there might be a future problem, not because of any recognized past or present issue. The impact to genealogists, however, will be felt immediately if this proposed legislation becomes law.
Senate Bill 1614, "Closure of the Birth and Death Records Indexes," passed the California Judiciary Committee on May 7, 2002. It had a rather silly amendment tacked onto it, requiring that people who have already purchased the public domain indexes in the past to now keep the information within the indexes confidential. This retroactive prohibition of previously produced public domain data seems a bit far-fetched to me.
Senate Bill 1614 will next be heard in the Appropriations Committee. If it is passed in the Appropriations Committee, it will then go to the Floor of the Senate for a vote. If it passes there, it will go to the State Assembly. Two rules committees in the Assembly must also hear it. Because of the nature of the bill, it should be referred to the Judiciary and then to the Appropriations Committees, in that order.
You can follow the developments of this bill on the California State Genealogical Alliance Web site at:http://www.csga.com/legislative_watch.htm.
California residents: please contact your state senators and representatives today to tell them your opinion of this bill. You can find the name and e-mail address of your senator at:http://www.senate.ca.gov/~newsen/senators/senators.htp and the name and e-mail of your Assemblyman at: http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/defaulttext.asp.
Just before last week’s NGS conference, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) announced a reorganization of the Family and Church History Department. The impact could be significant for future genealogists.
David E. Rencher, former Director of the Family History Library, has been named Director of the newly formed Records and Information Division. In his new position, Mr. Rencher is charged with organizing all the Family and Church History Department holdings in a way that will intuitively guide individuals quickly and easily to those records that are most likely to help them with their particular family history research needs.
I listened to David Rencher speak last week at the NGS Conference. His topic was "Up-to-date in Salt Lake City: What’s Happening At The Family History Library?" During that talk, Rencher said that the objective of his new position is to make more records available electronically. In fact, the long-term goal is to someday have all records available in electronic format in a method that insures easy access.
Other organization changes include the appointment of Glade I. Nelson to Director of the Family History Library. Stephen C. Young has been named as the Manager of Patron Services.
Ladies, if you have grandchildren in college, you should be very cautious during certain times of the year. Newsletter reader John Matrow sent along information about the results of a significant new study that recently were posted on the World Wide Web. The information is sobering.
The study, entitled "The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome and the Potential Downfall of American Society," was conducted by Mike Adams of the Biology Department at Eastern Connecticut State University. In this study, Professor Adams writes:
Professor Adams also states:
You have been warned. Keep an eye on your health during these times of increased risk. Take two grains of salt and then read the entire report at:http://biology.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/People/ConnRev
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 athttp://www.rootsforum.com.
The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have recently been listed by newsletter readers athttp://www.rootsforum.com:
Genealogy services of the Stark County District Library site - this section offers genealogy links, collections, data and forms for requesting research:http://www.stark.lib.oh.us/genservs.html
Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) - this section is devoted to annotated genealogy links and a monthly newsletter:http://www.oplin.lib.oh.us/index.cfm?id=561
Parish Pictures can take digital photographs of houses, schools, churches, gravestones or any other subject in Yorkshire or County Durham, England. Pictures can be supplied on CD-ROM, by e-mail or as prints.http://www.parishpictures.com
History of the Maddern family, and related families:http://www.geocities.com/madderngenealogy
The Estlinbaum is only a small part of the Balfour Family. Be happy to shareEstlinbaum info: http://www.andrewbalfour.com
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.
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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:email@example.com. Due to the volume of e-mail received, he is unable to answer every e-mail message received.
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