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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

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

Vol. 7 No. 28 – July 15, 2002

This newsletter was sponsored by,
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- Soundex Explained
- World War I Draft Registration Cards Online
- FGS Conference in California
- GENTECH and National Genealogical Society Merger Completed
- Update on International Roots Conference
- Update on 1901 U.K. Census Fiasco
- National Archives Proposes Change in Availability of Records
- Massachusetts Public Records Closing Alert
- New Jersey Initiates Open Public Records Act
- FBI Hires LDS Church Data Chief
- Super Bowl Hero’s Family Tree
- Introducing A New Section: New Books

- Soundex Explained

Many genealogy records are indexed by a high-tech algorithm called the Soundex Code. Well, it was "high tech" in 1918 when it was invented by Robert Russell. In a nutshell, Soundex Codes provide a means of identifying words – especially names -- by the way they sound. They were used extensively by the WPA crews working in the 1930s to organize Federal Census data from 1880 to 1920. Soundex has also been used for many state and local census records and is very popular in genealogy software and databases.

Motor vehicle bureaus in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri employ Soundex for generating the initial characters of the identification numbers on driver's licenses. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics uses Soundex to encode names in its crime surveys and maintain the anonymity of individuals about whom data is collected.

In the days when nearly all of the data for the Census of Population was collected by actual enumerators and individuals who walked from door to door, it was discovered that many of these people spelled surnames phonetically. Thus, one might spell Smith as "Smith" while another might spell it as "Smyth" and still another "Smythe." The census records were to be indexed by the sound of each name rather than by its spelling, and Soundex was the code system used to organize this index.

If you search many records of interest to genealogists, sooner or later you will need to use Soundex Codes. Why? Well, you can often find a person’s entry by his or her Soundex Code even when the names have been misspelled. This becomes important when you realize that many census takers did not speak the language of the people being enumerated. In fact, in the first 150 years of U.S. census records, the majority of Americans were illiterate and did not know how to write their own last names. The spelling of many family names also has changed over the years, but often the Soundex Code remains the same.

Spelling of names varies widely in early records, especially when language difficulties have intervened. For instance, I could not find my French-speaking great-grandparents listed in the U.S. Census. I searched and searched, but never found any entries for Joseph and Sophie Theriault. I then decided to do a Soundex search. The Soundex Code for Theriault is T643. When searching for Soundex Codes, I found several entries for T643 in Ashland, Maine, including one for the family of Joseph and Sophia Tahrihult -- improperly spelled, but with the same Soundex Code.

The census taker had a Scottish name, and he was listed on another census page in the same town as a being born in Scotland. I am guessing that he did not speak French. I bet he had some difficulty when speaking with my great-grandparents, neither of whom spoke English and neither of whom could read or write. No wonder Theriault became Tahrihult!

The Soundex Code is not difficult to learn although I still use a small reference card when I go to the archives to look at records. Every Soundex Code consists of a letter and three numbers, such as W-252. The letter is always the first letter of the surname, and the hyphen is optional. The numbers are assigned to the remaining letters of the surname according to the Soundex guide shown below. If necessary, zeroes are added at the end to produce a four-character code. Additional letters are disregarded.

Here is the Soundex Coding Guide:

Each number represents letters:

1 = B, F, P and V
2 = C, G, J, K, Q, S, X and Z
3 = D and T
4 = L
5 = M and N
6 = R

Disregard the letters A, E, I, O, U, H, W, and Y.

Here are some of the simpler examples:

Washington is coded W252 (W, 2 for the S, 5 for the N, 2 for the G, remaining letters disregarded).

Lee is coded L000 (L, there is no Soundex Code for E so the numbers 000 are added).

Now let’s move on to some of the more complex rules:

Any double letters in a name are treated as one letter. For example:

Gutierrez is coded G-362 (G, 3 for the T, 6 for the first R, second R ignored, 2 for the Z).

If the surname has different letters side-by-side that have the same number in the Soundex coding guide, they are treated as one letter. Examples:

Pfister is coded as P-236 (P, F ignored, 2 for the S, 3 for the T, 6 for the R).

Jackson is coded as J-250 (J, 2 for the C, K ignored, S ignored, 5 for the N, 0 added).

Tymczak is coded as T-522 (T, 5 for the M, 2 for the C, Z ignored, 2 for the K). Since the vowel "A" separates the Z and K, the K is coded.

Names with Prefixes

If a surname has a prefix, such as Van, Con, De, Di, La, or Le, the code should ignore these prefixes. However, coders sometimes miss this rule, so they might assign the Soundex code either with or without the prefix. Because the surname might be listed under either code, a thorough search of the Soundex index should include both forms. Note, however, that Mc and Mac are not considered prefixes, according to the National Archives and Records Administration. Once again, however, not everyone knows this particular rule, so you might want to search both with and without the Mc or Mac coded.

VanDeusen might be coded two ways:

With the prefix included, V-532 (V, 5 for N, 3 for D, 2 for S)
With the prefix excluded, D-250 (D, 2 for the S, 5 for the N, 0 added).

Consonant Separators

If a vowel (A, E, I, O, U) separates two consonants that have the same Soundex Code, the consonant to the right of the vowel is coded. Example:

Tymczak is coded as T-522 (T, 5 for the M, 2 for the C, Z ignored (see "Side-by-Side" rule above), 2 for the K). Since the vowel "A" separates the Z and K, the K is coded.

If "H" or "W" separate two consonants that have the same Soundex Code, the consonant to the right of the vowel is not coded. Example:

Ashcraft is coded A-261 (A, 2 for the S, C ignored, 6 for the R, 1 for the F). It is not coded A-226.

American Indian and Asian Names

A phonetically spelled American Indian or Asian name was sometimes coded as if it were one continuous name. If a distinguishable surname was given, the name may have been coded in the normal manner. For example, Dances with Wolves might have been coded as Dances (D-522) or as Wolves (W-412), or the name Shinka-Wa-Sa may have been coded as Shinka (S-520) or Sa (S-000).

While the rules sound a bit complex, they do become easier with a bit of practice. For those of us who are too lazy to go through the coding exercise, the computer age has brought many new tools. Most modern genealogy programs will tell you the Soundex Code of any name that you enter. In addition, a number of online Soundex Machines are available, including those at:,, and On any of these sites, you type in a last name, and then the site will display the correct Soundex Code. Yet Another Soundex Converter (YASC) at will even convert a long list of names to their Soundex equivalents; you do not have to enter them one at a time.

The National Archives and Records Administration publishes a free brochure, entitled Using the Census Soundex. To obtain a copy, send an e-mail to and ask for General Information Leaflet 55, usually referred to as GIL 55, Make sure that you include your name, postal address, and "GIL 55 please".

Anyone hosting genealogy pages on a UNIX or Linux Web server might want to know about a bash script called that is available at If you are familiar with bash, you can add a Soundex machine to your Web site. A similar program, written in C, is available at My thanks to Mark D. Aubrey for telling me about the bash script.

While Soundex is a great tool and in widespread use, it certainly is not perfect. For example, it fails when the first letters are different. For instance, Knowles is coded as K542 while both Noles and Nolles are N420. Likewise, Cantor is C536 while the similar sound of Kantor is K536.

Soundex also has a number of shortcomings when dealing with Eastern European Jewish names. Two Jewish genealogists, Randy Daitch and Gary Mokotoff, developed a more sophisticated system, more suitable for Jewish genealogy. The Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex is becoming the de facto standard for on-line lookups on Jewish-related web sites. You can read more about the The Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex in an article written by Gary Mokotoff at

Numerous other improved Soundex methods have been developed in recent years and are in widespread use on numerous computer databases. However, these newer "improved Soundex" methods have never seen much use in genealogy databases.

Now, have fun with census records!

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- World War I Draft Registration Cards Online

The following is an announcement from, the publishers of this newsletter:

PROVO, Utah, July 10 --, Inc., a leading online subscription business and the leading network for connecting families, today announced the launch of an immense project to make available fully indexed, digitized images of more than 24 million World War I (WWI) draft registration cards., part of the network of Web sites, becomes the only place to search and view digitized images of actual WWI draft registration cards online.

Beginning today, the first images of original WWI draft registration cards have been posted to the site, enabling subscribers to browse through more than 100,000 WWI draft registration cards. Subsequent weekly postings will bring millions of images to the site throughout the year. Upon completion, the collection will be fully searchable by name, state, county and birth date with search results linking directly to images. The WWI draft registration cards are part of the U.S. and Canada Records Collection at, and are available as an annual subscription for $79.95 or $29.95 quarterly.

"This collection is of tremendous value for Americans trying to discover more about where they came from. These draft registration cards provide detailed information about our fathers and grandfathers that answered the call to serve their country," said Tom Stockham, President and CEO of "The personal details on citizenship, employment, family, and physical appearance make this an especially rich resource for learning about what makes us who we are today."

In 1917 the U.S. teetered on the brink of global warfare. President Wilson proposed the American draft to help generate the large number of men needed, and the first draft registration date was set for June 5, 1917. Two subsequent registration days were held in June of 1918 and September of 1918 for a total of three registration days. The display of patriotism and dedication to country is astounding, as registration of eligible men was close to 100%. Over 24 million eligible citizens and aliens born between 1873 and 1900 completed a draft registration card.

This civilian registration is often confused with induction into the military; however, only a small percentage of these men were actually called up for military service. Draft registration cards were completed during 1917 -- 1918 by approximately 25 percent of the total U.S. population at that time providing a unique record set for many of our ancestors.

The draft registration cards provide a wealth of personal information, including: full name, age, home address, date of birth, citizenship status, birthplace, occupation, whether married and how many children under age 12, any reason to claim exemption from the draft, height, build, eye color, hair color, whether bald, physical impairments or disabilities, and an actual signature of the draftee.

This exclusive online WWI Draft Registration Card Collection can be accessed at, part of the, Inc. network of web sites and the leading resource for family history online. To view a sample image and learn more about this exclusive collection, visit

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- FGS Conference in California

The U.S. Federation of Genealogical Societies will hold their annual conference in less than a month: August 7 through 10. This year’s event is hosted by the California State Genealogical Alliance and will be held at the new Ontario (California) Convention Center, which is directly adjacent to the Ontario International Airport, about 55 miles east of Los Angeles. Most U.S. airlines fly to that airport.

The annual FGS conference usually is a good one to attend, and I suspect this year’s edition will be no exception. This year’s conference will feature more than 150 lectures presented by about 60 genealogy experts. The presentations range from topics for genealogy novices through some rather advanced research techniques. As you might imagine, for a conference sponsored by a consortium of genealogy societies, there are quite a few session topics dedicated to improving your local society’s operation and appeal. You can find a listing of all the planned presentations at:

The Federation of Genealogical Societies has extended the Early Registration Discount until 26 July 2002. You can register before that date, either for $86 for each day you plan to be there or for $141 for all four days. Prices will jump significantly after July 26.

The conference has two conference hotels this year. The DoubleTree Hotel Ontario will serve as the hotel headquarters for the conference. You can view the accommodations there and make reservations at:,4,9,1119&bhflex=6,0,29,0&bhdirex=&bhcont=lan.  The Ontario Marriott is also being used as a conference hotel and is available at:{C63236F9-B176-4C70-9720-58E2E8F51079}.  Both hotels are close to the Ontario Convention Center and to local restaurants. I am told that you won’t need a car if you stay at either of these two hotels.

For more information regarding the conference, program and registration, go to:

I can offer one hint: while many airlines serve Ontario and nearby Los Angeles airports, Southwest Airlines is having an airfare sale right now. I made reservations this week from the East Coast to Los Angeles on Southwest Airlines for $99.00 each way. That’s not a bad price for a 3,000-mile flight! You must purchase tickets 21 days in advance, however. Looking at a calendar shows that you will need to make your reservations before July 17 in order to qualify for these low fares. You can check prices and make reservations at:

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- GENTECH and National Genealogical Society Merger Completed

It is now official: GENTECH is a part of the U.S. National Genealogical Society. The GENTECH board and members approved the action on July 8, 2002. For all practical purposes, this concludes the merger process. All that remains is the technical procedure of filing the merger documents with the secretaries of state in the home states of GENTECH and NGS, which attorneys will do immediately. The merger agreement calls for NGS staff to take on the duties previously performed by GENTECH officers, a process that is already happening.

I first reported on this planned merger last January (see  The GENTECH Web site has more details, and the National Genealogical Society’s Web site also has a small mention of the merger at: (The NGS site simply says to check the GENTECH site for details.)

It is sad to see GENTECH lose its unique status and perhaps its identity. However, the organization completed its primary goals. About ten years ago GENTECH was formed by a small group of visionaries in the Dallas, Texas area. The organization was chartered to help bridge genealogy and technology. Ten years later, that mission has been accomplished. Partly due to the efforts of GENTECH and also because of the pervasiveness of modern technology into almost every corner of our everyday lives, genealogists now embrace technology in a manner barely dreamed of ten short years ago.

I well remember attending the first GENTECH conference in 1992. This was before many people had heard of the World Wide Web. Several speakers, myself included, predicted that someday there would be online genealogy databases that we all could access while seated at home. Some skeptical attendees remarked, "Not in my lifetime!"

Ten years ago the term "computer genealogist" was seen as an elite status by some and as a derogatory term by others. In the year 2002, the term has almost disappeared simply because it no longer signifies anything unique. Almost all of today’s genealogists are "computer genealogists."

The founders of GENTECH and the many others who helped over the years are to be commended for a job that was very well done. GENTECH did bridge genealogy and technology. They also put on some dynamite conferences. The GENTECH Genealogical Data Model and the Lexicon Working Group received less publicity but, in fact, created standards that will benefit genealogists for many years to come.

For the foreseeable future, the GENTECH web site will continue to be a source of information related to the merger transition, the GENTECH conferences, the scholarship program, and related news. Keep an eye on

The GENTECH2003 conference is scheduled for January 17 and 18 and promises to be a bigger and better affair than any of the previous GENTECH conferences. About 1,100 people attended the last GENTECH conference, and there is an excellent chance that the 2003 edition in Phoenix will be even larger. I know that I wouldn’t miss it. The GENTECH2003 conference is co-sponsored by the Arizona Genealogical Computer Interest Group (AGCIG). Keep an eye on the AGCIG Web site at for details.

If you have any questions about the impact of the NGS/GENTECH merger, send email to

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- Update on International Roots Conference

The International Roots Conference in Dearborn, Michigan was scheduled to start at about the same time this edition of the newsletter is being distributed. You probably have heard by now that the conference organizers canceled the event more than three weeks ago and have refused to refund money to those who pre-registered.

If you are one of the many people who sent money to the International Roots Conference for pre-registration, you should be reading the messages at the IRC-Victims mailing list at: Despite claims by the conference organizers that no refunds would be made, several people on that mailing list report they have successfully obtained refunds from their credit card companies.

Apparently some credit card companies are paying the refunds to their customers without question because of the fraudulent charges involved. The assumption is that the credit card companies will seek reimbursement from the conference organizers. There is no way of knowing if the credit card companies will ever get their money from the organizers or not, but that is no longer a concern for the customers who receive permanent refunds.

In other news, a number of genealogists have reported receiving conference advertising two weeks or more after the conference organizers canceled the conference. These newly delivered postcards invite the recipients to register in advance and to sign up for the (extra-cost) luncheons and workshops. Not only were these mailed some time after the cancellation announcement, but the amazing thing is that these post cards also invite the recipients to send checks or credit card information to the conference organizers!

I wonder if some people did send money or credit card information at this late date. I suspect that not everyone has heard about the conference cancellation and the statement of "no refunds." I also wonder how many people will show up at the conference hotel on Sunday afternoon because they haven’t heard about the cancellation.

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- Update on 1901 U.K. Census Fiasco

On January 1, 2002, the U.K. Public Record Office (PRO) placed the 1901 Census Records online amongst great hoopla and celebration. However, the system crashed again and again. In fact, it was operational only a few minutes in between crashes. After a few days, the PRO "pulled the plug" and announced that they were ordering more servers. The PRO’s announcement stated, "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." QinetiQ (pronounced "kinetic") is the government owned company that did the technical work.

For background information, read my articles at and at

In the short time it was operational, genealogists found many problems with the online census records. Besides the issues of system availability, there are questions about the indexes, which reportedly are highly inaccurate. There are further questions about the sale of vouchers that remain worthless.

The "one week to allow enhancements to take place" stretched into many weeks and even months with no new announcements, other than "we are working on it." British genealogists have demanded an explanation and have contacted several Members of Parliament. Accusations are flying. Now, six and a half months after the site’s original debut, the Public Record Office has made a brief announcement:

8 July 2002

The Public Record Office apologises for the length of time the testing has been taking. QinetiQ Ltd, who are responsible for the technical aspects of the service, are testing the system and the Public Record Office is also carrying out its own independent test programme. The final testing is underway and we anticipate it will be completed by the end of July. If the results of the testing programme are positive it will be possible to know whether the service is sufficiently robust for it to go live.

However, the nature of testing is such that it throws up issues that need to be addressed, and on occasion requires tests to be re-done. This has meant that we cannot give a firm date for the return of the 1901 Online Service. We are aware that this has caused much frustration to our customers, frustration which we share, and for which we apologise.

In other words, they are still "working on it."

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- National Archives Proposes Change in Availability of Records

The following announcement is from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration:

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is proposing to revise the general regulations concerning availability of records and donated historical materials to change the time period researcher identification cards are valid. NARA proposes to reduce the valid time period to increase NARA's ability to obtain accurate address and telephone information. This will allow NARA to contact researchers if necessary and will ensure better protection of NARA's holdings, buildings, personnel, and the public. This proposed rule will affect individuals who do research in archival materials at NARA facilities.

The proposed rule is in the July 10, 2002 Federal Register at page 45683. Comments are due on September 9, 2002.

A link to the proposed rule is available at:

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- Massachusetts Public Records Closing Alert

Access to public records threatens to be curtailed in many places. Massachusetts is the latest state to consider closing access to records that are vital to genealogists. The following was written by Sharon Sergeant of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council:

The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) board held an emergency meeting this evening [July 12] in Waltham, Massachusetts to review the text of an alarming, and recently introduced, Massachusetts House of Representatives bill H5158 (see links below for issues, status and contact information).

The most pressing aspect of H5158, on preliminary review, is that it would close marriage and death records since 1950, as well as birth records after 1910, to public access - including their indices!

MGC is recommending that all Massachusetts residents contact their Representative and that all non-resident Massachusetts researchers contact a Massachusetts resident to represent their interests - immediately as the formal sessions close on July 31st - but impromptu sessions have sometimes been used to pass such legislation! (see for districts)

The general content of the legislative protest letters should at least cover the following points, be sincere, personalized and not appear in a form letter format:

Dear (Representative Name):

The Birth, Marriage and Death records (Vital Records) of the Commonwealth have always been open to the public with few specific exceptions. House Bill 5158, currently reported out to the Committee on House Rules, would close Birth Records after 1910 and Marriage and Death Records since 1950 to public access.

We ask that you encourage further study of this Bill by the Committee on House Rules and that you vote AGAINST this bill should it come to floor vote.

H5158 would affect every citizen of the Commonwealth. Among other things it would:

1) block access to recent death records so that family medical histories could not be ascertained;

2) increase expenses for persons needing to prove legitimate access to the Vital Records;

3) not affect the risks of identity fraud or theft which does not occur from personal inspection of the Vital Records.

Again I/we urge you to defeat H5158.


Contact Info

Additional notes on the preliminary review of this bill:

The Massachusetts bill H5158 is purportedly a rewrite of H132 (see However, the full text of H5158 is not yet online and the MGC expects that further line by line examination of the H5158 printed text (36 pages) will uncover other issues of concern.

In contrast, the MGC has been working on the Senate bill S2302 which may be reviewed at

All recent medical studies point to the statistical and anecdotal importance of medical information for multiple generations - and beyond immediate lineal or lateral descent lines.

The H5158 bill could also remove access to the actual primary source record. It contains such items as "... Such examination, at the discretion of the Custodian, may be from an automated database. ..."

The Birth, Marriage and Death records (Vital Records) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have always been open to the public with few specific exceptions (see However, House Bill 5158, currently reported out to the Committee on House Rules, would close Birth Records after 1910 and Marriage and Death Records since 1950 to public access - as of January 1, 2004 when the inquirer must be proven to be ONLY the individual in question or the " spouse, children, parent as named on birth record, legal guardian, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, executor, authorized legal representative or authorized genealogist designated by one of the aforementioned persons in writing".

Additionally, removing the indices from the public access will preclude researchers from even being able to narrow down the likely candidates for detailed record inspection - increasing the Catch-22 of having to prove a 2 generation or less direct lineal connection to the records in question - when that is the question!

The H5158 bill does not provide funds for the expenditures of government agencies that would have to shoulder the new custodian and administrative responsibilities for records archiving and access validation and/or refusal - such that even what the Custodian considers legitimate access request may not be administered in a timely fashion if the determination of legitimate access is not a funded administration expense.

Identity fraud or theft issue is a claimed goal H5158 bill without regard to the actual identity fraud methods used and documented by numerous investigations - either in the old fashioned "complete fabrication", "trash scouring" and wallet/home robbery, newspaper obituary targeting and institutional insider records misuse - or the advent of the Internet and other electronic transaction interceptions. Identity fraud thieves are not prone to the methodical, time consuming and formal task of searching and requesting the Vital Records.

You may monitor the status of this bill and check for the full text release at

People who have representatives who are on these committees may find further information here:

Room 167
State House
Boston, MA 02133
Telephone: (617) 722-2692

It shall be the duty of the committee on Rules to recommend special orders for the scheduling and consideration of legislation on the floor of the House. Said committee shall be authorized to make recommendations and propose changes in the rules for the purpose of improving and expediting the business and procedures of the House of Representatives and its committees.

Room 472
State House
Boston, MA 02133
Telephone: (617) 722-2120

It shall be the duty of the committee on Government Regulations to consider all matters concerning public utilities, gambling, the racing industry, the registration of various trades or professions, the issuance of licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages and such other matters as may be referred. Members appointed to the committee: Sen. Morrissey of Norfolk and Plymouth, Pacheco of First Plymouth and Bristol, Joyce of Suffolk and Norfolk, Fargo of Fifth Middlesex, Baddour of Third Essex, Hedlund of Plymouth and Norfolk, Rep. Bosley of North Adams, Ciampa of Somerville, Caron of Springfield, Candaras of Wilbraham, C. A. Murphy of Burlington, Festa of Melrose, Nangle of Lowell, Rivera of Springfield, Bradley of Hingham, Brown of Wrentham and Hill of Ipswich.

The Massachusetts Genealogical Council welcomes all questions from interested researchers, as well as shared experiences from other jurisdictions dealing with ill-conceived, reactionary measures to identity fraud, privacy or records preservation and access issues. Please send your questions and suggestions to

If you are among the millions who claim early ancestors in Massachusetts - prior to the proposed 1910/1950 exclusions - and do not believe you will be impacted by such a law, please consult with your contemporary cousins and resident collateral lines. Your family will be affected!

Thank you for your interest and support in this matter.

Sharon Sergeant

Program Director,

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- New Jersey Initiates Open Public Records Act

Just at a time when various states are closing access to their records, New Jersey is moving in the opposite direction. New Jersey has wisely passed into law an act for the greater opening of public records in the state and plans to do more for current state records now considered closed to the public. The Government Records Council (GRC) has published a Public Guide to Open Public Records Act (OPRA) on their website at The link for the Public Guide to OPRA is The law went into effect on Monday, July 8 and is relatively progressive. Although vital records in the state do not fall under this act (and neither do other select records for privacy concerns such as juvenile records and criminal investigations), it certainly is a step in the right direction for the state's genealogists.

The following FAQs (frequently-asked questions) are from the GRC web site:

What is the Open Public Records Act (OPRA)?

OPRA is a new state law that was enacted to give the public greater access to government records maintained by public agencies in New Jersey.

Who can obtain government records under the Open Public Records Act?

Any member of the public has the right under OPRA to examine or obtain copies of those public records that are not subject to exceptions from disclosure

Does the Open Public Records Act apply to State as well as local government agencies?

Yes. Under OPRA, all levels of New Jersey government are required to produce records, when properly requested. Certain records are considered exceptions.

What items are considered Government Records?

A government record is a physical record that has a government purpose. Under OPRA a record may be any paper, written or printed book, document, drawing, map, plan, photograph, microfilm, data-processed or image-processed document, information stored or maintained electronically or by sound recording.

Are there any exceptions under the Open Public Records Act?

There are a number of exceptions under OPRA, many of which deal, but are not limited to, the public's reasonable expectation of the rights of privacy.

My thanks to Chad Leinaweaver, Director for the Library at the New Jersey Historical Society, for telling me about the new Open Public Records Act.

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- FBI Hires LDS Church Data Chief

In the March 27, 2002 edition of this newsletter, I wrote about the FBI efforts to improve their databases used to track criminals. The agency consulted with some of the LDS Church computer experts who manage the huge genealogy databases in Salt Lake City. You can read my article at:

One thing that amuses me is that several people wrote to me after that article was published, claiming that the article was not true. They said that that the FBI was not talking with the LDS computer experts and that the original articles on the wire services were unfounded. Well, somebody at the FBI obviously talked to at least one senior official of the LDS Church’s computer staff. This week the FBI announced that Darwin A. John, formerly managing director of Information and Communications Systems at the LDS Church, has been appointed to become the FBI's Chief Information Officer.

Since 1990, Darwin A. John set strategic direction for use of computer and communications technology worldwide for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also helped lead creation of the church's very popular genealogy Family Search Web site at Since appearing in 1999, that site has averaged 7 million to 8 million hits a day from people searching the 900 million names in the system.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said John brings a "demonstrated capability to achieve broad-based results in an area critical to the FBI's success, particularly at a time when the bureau is modernizing its information technologies while reorganizing and re-engineering and undergoing unprecedented change in its investigative mission and priorities."

Stephen Finnerty, president of the Society for Information Management, described John as "one of the most progressive leaders in the information systems industry," and said he expects him to make "valuable and outstanding contributions to the FBI, its mission, and the American people."

You can read the full story at a number of news sites, including:,1249,405017185,00.html

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- Super Bowl Hero’s Family Tree

Football fans – especially those in the northeastern U.S. – will long remember Adam Vinatieri as the field goal kicker who won the 2002 Super Bowl in overtime for the New England Patriots. Now an article in USA Today claims that Vinatieri is a distant cousin of daredevil Evel Knievel and also is the great-great-grandson of General George A. Custer’s bandleader. Luckily for Adam, the band didn’t accompany Custer to Little Big Horn. His great-great-grandfather survived and raised a family.

It’s an interesting story, but no references to source documentation are offered. You can read about Adam Vinatieri at:

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- Introducing a New Section: New Books

I am going to experiment with a new section in this newsletter. "New Books" will periodically announce new books of interest to genealogists.

Each book mentioned in this new section will be one that is newly published or perhaps is a significant new update of a book published some years ago. Each listing will probably contain the book title, a very brief description of the book (typically one to three sentences), followed by the author’s name, the publisher’s name (optional) and then a Web address or e-mail address where you may obtain more information or even purchase the new book.

I hope to list books that are self-published by individuals or smaller societies as well as books from the major genealogy publishers. The books do not have to be "pure genealogy" books; I will also list county histories, atlases and more.

I will, however, limit this section to books published on paper. The new section is not for listing books on CD-ROM or online, as I have always written reviews of high-tech genealogy publications elsewhere in this newsletter. I hope to continue reviewing high-tech publications separately.

Please let me know your opinion of the new section, and also please feel free to offer suggestions on how to improve it.

Here are the first book announcements of this new section:

"History of Scott County Mississippi and its Families" has been published by the Scott County Genealogical Society, Forest, Mississippi. This 216-page book is a hardbound volume. For more info contact Mary Schwab at

"Four Anglian Kings Of Northumbria" (Or,Four Yorkshire Anglo-Saxon Crowns) is a new update to a 1982 publication by Raymond Ella. It contains new information and illustrations, including Anglo-Saxon helmets found in England, a list of royal ladies of Northumbria, a list of kings of Northumbria, and more. The price is UK £2.95p + 33p postage a copy. For overseas orders, please contact the publisher. More information may be found at or from

Burke's Peerage & Gentry have announced a new book, "London's Waterfront." It contains detailed illustrations of over 1,500 buildings which line the North and South banks of the River Thames in central London. Covering some 25 miles of riverbank, including all 16 bridges, the buildings are accompanied by historical and architectural commentary to make this book an informative and fascinating read. More information can be found at

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has released two new books:

"New York State Probate Records: A Genealogist's Guide to Testate and Intestate Records" by Gordon Remington, FASG, FUGA. This book was created to provide genealogists with the tools needed to locate probate records in New York State from the past 300 years. The guide also gives practical information on how to access those records through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City as well as in New York's sixty-two County Surrogate Courts, and other repositories. The book is soft-cover, 161 pages in length. $19.95 plus shipping. Order online at:

"The Great Migration" — in print and online - The New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Great Migration Study Project, under the direction of Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, compiles and analyzes information on all persons who appear in New England records from 1620 to 1640. To date, five printed volumes on Great Migration immigrants have appeared: three volumes covering the years 1620–1633 and two volumes (surnames A–F) covering the years 1634–1635. An essential companion to the Great Migration books, the Great Migration Newsletter offers feature articles on a variety of topics, including the settlement of early New England towns, migration patterns, seventeenth-century passenger lists, church records, land records, and much more

NEHGS has just released the complete Great Migration Newsletter, Volumes 1–10, which contains all forty issues of the newsletter — more than a decade of scholarly research on the first immigrants to New England. The book is 354 pages in length and it is priced at $19.95 plus shipping. To order, please visit

A note to authors and publishers: If you would like to have your new book(s) listed in future newsletters, send a brief descriptive note to You do not need to send a copy of your book; an announcement will suffice. Please make sure that you include a Web address or an e-mail address where potential buyers can obtain more information.

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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).

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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 a frequent presenter at major genealogy conferences. He has published articles in Genealogical Computing and Family Chronicle magazines and for a number of Web sites. He was an advisor to PBS' Ancestry series and appeared as a guest in one of the episodes. He serves on the Advisory Board of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and is a past Director of GENTECH and the New England Computer Genealogists. Dick is the author of YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer published by Ziff-Davis Press. He also manages three Genealogy Forums on CompuServe. He can be reached at: Due to the volume of e-mail received, he is unable to answer every e-mail message received.

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