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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Plus Edition

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

Vol. 9 No. 1 – January 5, 2004

This newsletter relies solely upon "word of mouse" advertising. If you enjoy reading these articles, please tell others to go to

Some of the articles in this Plus Edition newsletter are restricted to your personal use.

Search previous issues of Standard Edition newsletters at:

Plus Edition subscribers may gain access to a reserved section of the Discussion Board. Details are available at

All opinions expressed in this document are those of Dick Eastman and his alone, unless otherwise attributed. None of his statements are to be interpreted as endorsements by his employer, by the other authors or by advertisers.

Copyright© 2004 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.


- 2004 Crystal Ball
- New Year, Old Scam
- (+) Racism and Genealogy
- (+) Begin with Assumptions…Solve a Problem
- Researching Publican and Brewery Ancestors
- Baptism Controversy Flares Anew Between Jews, Mormons
- The Irish in New York City
- Google Print to Access the Entire World's Information
- FamilySearcher
- Bogus Genealogies Online
- Converting Tapes and 8mm Movies to DVD
- U.K. National Archives to Release Secrets
- Ships' Logs Uncover Past Climate
- Knighthood for Inventor of the Web
- Fijians Apologize for Acts of Their Ancestors
- Upcoming Events

Items marked with a Plus Sign (+) appear only in the Plus Edition newsletter.

A complete genealogy just can't be… there's always more.

- 2004 Crystal Ball

A new year is traditionally time to look back on the previous year and look forward to what lies ahead. In keeping with this custom, I've shined up my crystal ball for a look at what lies ahead. However, I would first like to look at my prognostications made a year ago. Here are a few of last year's forecasts, each followed by a brief assessment that I penned this week:

Last year's prediction #1: Many genealogists will carry their family tree databases in handheld computers by the end of 2003, simplifying research trips.

Comment: Bulls-eye. You will see a bunch of Palms, Sony Clies, HP iPaqs, Dell Axims and other handheld computers when you go to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or to any genealogy conference or other place where genealogists gather. Several genealogy programs are now available for these tiny powerhouses.

Last year's prediction #2: More and more genealogy information will be released on DVD disks.

Comment: I don't know whether to label this as a near miss or a near hit. It certainly was not a bull's-eye. A few DVD data disks exist, most notably from S&N Genealogy Supplies. However, I have seen very few such offerings in the past twelve months from other vendors.

Last year's prediction #3: I expect that at least one of today's better-known genealogy programs will disappear from the marketplace in 2003, but also at least one more new genealogy program will appear.

Comment: Bulls-eye. Family Origins disappeared. RootsMagic appeared for the first time and has become popular.

Last year's prediction #4: Most genealogy programs introduced in 2003 will optionally store data on Web-based servers. Future genealogy programs will not be designed just for individuals working alone at home. Instead, most genealogy applications will be designed for groups of people working together on research projects. Centralized databases with strict access controls will be the norm in future genealogy programs.

Comment: This was mostly a miss. This did not happen on any large scale in the last year.

Last year's prediction #5: Open-source software has steadily moved from the preserve of elite aficionados to a true contender in the corporate world. Linux is starting to dominate the server market. Although this is not an issue for genealogy applications, I bet that Linux will drive UNIX into the ground. <some text omitted> By the end of 2003, however, Linux will still account for less than 5 percent of the installed desktop systems. The lack of good Linux applications will remain as a major hindrance to the growth of the operating system.

Comment: Close to a bulls-eye. While Linux did not "drive UNIX into the ground" in 2003, it did continue to grow and to take business away from UNIX suppliers. IBM is one of the larger suppliers of UNIX systems with their AIX derivative of UNIX. In 2003, IBM announced that they would be switching from AIX to Linux on more and more of their server systems. As predicted, Linux still accounts for less than 5 percent of the installed desktop systems.

Last year's prediction #6: I doubt if we will see any major genealogy programs for Linux in the year 2003.

Comment: Bulls-eye. GRAMPS remains as a very good genealogy program for Linux, but it was introduced before 2003. No popular new Linux genealogy programs were introduced in the past twelve months.

Last year's prediction #7: I also expect that attendance at major genealogy conferences in the United States will continue to decline in 2003.

Comment: Mixed accuracy. I still hear the same thing; attendance at genealogy conferences is declining. I heard that all through 2003, making me believe that the prediction was accurate. However, the two major national conferences that I attended last year in the U.S. plus one in England all had excellent attendance. There were hundreds of local and regional conferences, but I do not have attendance figures for all of them. I do tend to believe that the average attendance is still declining, despite several shining exceptions at the national level.

Last year's prediction #8: I expect to see the introduction of several more genealogy e-learning Web sites in 2003. All in all, I see e-learning as a major improvement over in-person lectures. Web-based e-learning courses will attract and benefit many more people than in-person conferences could ever serve. Best of all, the e-learning Web sites have greatly reduced expenses and manpower requirements when compared to in-person lessons.

Comment: Bulls-eye. I was especially pleased to see an entire online genealogy conference take place in mid-year: eGenConference was the biggest online genealogy e-learning experience in history.

If I may rate my own accuracy, I would say that 50% were bulls-eye "hits," three were partial hits, and one was a complete miss.

This year's crystal ball is a bit murky. The technology world has remained grim. Companies are still struggling with reduced budgets, and "downsizing" is a term that is still heard far too often. However, the worldwide economy began to improve late in the year, and I am optimistic that 2004 will be a better year for companies as well as for the products and services they produce. I suspect that a few interesting things will appear within the next twelve months, some of it good and some of it bad.

Here are a few of my predictions for the year 2004:

    1. This year will see the announcement of one or more "push button" genealogy Web sites. These sites will contain huge databases of millions of individuals, including their relationships to each other. In theory, all the user needs to do is to type in the name of an ancestor and instantly see that person's ancestry and other relatives. To be sure, one such site ( has been doing something similar for several years. However, that site depends solely upon user-contributed information. I believe that we will soon see somewhat similar online databases that are based upon census records and other extracted primary and secondary records of genealogy interest. Such records tend to have higher accuracy than the usual user-contributed databases. The same databases may accept user-contributed information, however, in addition to the more accurate transcribed records.

    2. I will repeat a prediction that I made last year and missed. I still believe this will happen, even though I have already been proven wrong as to the timing: Most genealogy programs introduced in 2004 will optionally store data on Web-based servers. Future genealogy programs will not be designed just for individuals working alone at home. Instead, most genealogy applications will be designed for groups of people working together on research projects. Centralized databases with strict access controls will be the norm in future genealogy programs.

    3. DNA record keeping will become common in genealogy research. I expect to see this more and more in family organizations and, to a lesser degree, in records kept by individuals. I also expect some turmoil when several long-established and universally accepted records of descent are disproven by DNA analysis. This may cause "discomfort" within a number of lineage societies.

    4. The year 2004 will be one of legal entanglements within the genealogy community. I expect to see legal problems and court involvement among several providers of genealogy goods and services.

    5. The year 2004 will also see a continuation of mergers and acquisitions. Several non-profit organizations and for-profit commercial companies are struggling financially; I expect at least one major player in the genealogy world will be acquired by a financially stronger organization.

    6. I also have one final prediction: It will be an interesting year for genealogists!

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- New Year, Old Scam

One of the top stories in 2003 in this newsletter was the arrest of Elias Abodeely, a 23-year-old in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who ran a string of pseudo genealogy sites. His arrest didn't seem to deter him: 2004 has started off with a rash of the same advertising.

For those who missed it, let’s briefly recap this scam. The sites involved included,,,,,,, and probably many others. Abodeely would send out spam mail from one site, then collect money until the complaints mounted, and his site eventually would be shut down by the hosting service. A week or two later he would appear with a new name and a new site on a different hosting service conducting essentially the same business. To access his sites, the hapless buyer paid $40 to $60 (the exact amount varied from time to time). None of these sites contained any genealogy information; they simply had pointers to free sites where information could be found. In other words, the buyer paid $40 to $60 to access something that was already available free of charge.

Abodeely eventually ran into lots of legal difficulties. On August 1, 2003, he was arrested in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on felony charges of first-degree theft, money laundering, and ongoing criminal activity. He was released later that day, and a court appearance on those charges still has not yet been scheduled.

You can read about Abodeely's arrest in my newsletter at:, in the Des Moines register at and at

His arrest did not slow Abodeely very much. A month later he appeared selling "self-renewing" genealogy CD-ROM disks under the name That site actually was registered to Andrew Abodeely. I obtained one of these "self-renewing" genealogy CD-ROM disks and wrote about it in detail in the September 29, 2003 Plus Edition of this newsletter. was shut down the day after my article was published.

Things have been quiet for the past three months, but on January 2, 2004, a number of newsletter readers reported receiving some fishy-looking spam mail messages. In fact, the messages appear to be word-for-word the same as the old ads for "self-renewing" genealogy CD-ROM disks sent earlier from – except that the new ads are coming from That's right: the only difference is the previously shut down dot-COM is now replaced by a newly-registered dot-NET.

A quick check of the WHOIS information shows that is registered to the same address as 1013 Agate Street, Suite B, San Diego, CA 92109, the business address of Andrew Abodeely. That is also the same address that ships the worthless "self-renewing" genealogy CD-ROM disks.

In short, the Abodeelys seem to have reappeared after a three-month hiatus. Elias Abodeely's earlier arrest for felonies doesn't seem to have fazed either of the Abodeelys at all. At the time these words are being written, is up and running and looks almost identical to the previously shut down

It is also interesting to note that the new site is like the old one in several respects, especially in that it cannot handle credit cards. Instead, the buyer is suckered into paying by an "e-check" that extracts money directly from the buyer's checking account with no credit card involved. Beware! This is one method by which the earlier sites allegedly extracted money time and again from a buyer's checking accounts! Several buyers thought they paid once but, after examining their end-of-month checking account statements, found that they had been charged time and again without permission. That is one of the actions that led to Elias Abodeely's arrest.

Why would a company not offer payment by credit card? That is extremely rare in the online world. The answer is simple: the owner's credit rating is so poor that he cannot obtain the merchant account required to be able to accept credit cards. In this case, he cannot even obtain a PayPal account, which is easy for mostpeople to obtain. No credit card service will give a merchant account to someone awaiting trial on charges of money laundering by using credit cards! Without access to a credit card merchant account, the Web site owner is forced to resort to online checks, a risky method for any buyer considering an online purchase.

Remember that purchases made online with VISA, MasterCard or American Express are fully insured against fraud by the credit card companies. If you get "ripped off" by a shady merchant when using a credit card, the credit card companies will immediately refund all of your money and then will pursue resolution with the merchant. PayPal transactions are also fully insured in the same manner. However, if you pay by check, you have no such protection. That is true both for paper checks as well as for "e-checks." You receive only whatever insurance your local bank provides. Sadly, most banks provide no protection at all against fraudulent purchases made with a check or with a debit card.

Send a check to a con artist? You lose.

Any time you see a Web site offering something for sale and not accepting credit cards, ask yourself, "Why does this merchant not accept credit cards? Not even via PayPal?" Most of the time, it is because that merchant has severe financial problems. Then ask yourself if you really want to do business with such a merchant.

If you receive a spam mail from or any similar-sounding scam, please forward it to the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Police Department's Financial Crimes Division at I suspect they have an interest in the "business activities" of this person, who is awaiting a court appearance after being arrested by that department. Please feel free to also enclose a copy of this article. You can read more about the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Police Department's Financial Crimes Division at

Please feel free to also forward this article to other genealogists, newsgroups, mailing lists, and anywhere else you feel is appropriate.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- (+) Racism and Genealogy

The following is a "preview" of a Plus Edition-only article:

A historical glimpse at ‘Genealogy and Race during the 1000 Year Reich - a Period of just 12 Years.’

By W. Fred Rump

History is the present. That’s why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth...

- E. L. Doctorow, NY Author (+1991)

Editor’s note: At the end of this article, the author provides a brief explanation of German terms he used within the text.

Genealogists know that history and genealogy are entwined at the roots of knowledge of times past. All of our ancestors experienced life in their own time. As genealogists our task is to attempt to bring back that time in order to make our ancestors come alive the way they actually lived. Much, if not most, of what we write is family myth, conjecture, stories that were told which weren’t how it was, and just general changes to a life we know today.

The preceding is a "preview" of a Plus Edition-only article. The full article is available only to Plus Edition subscribers. Click on Plus Edition for more information.

[Return to Table of Contents]

- (+) Begin with Assumptions…Solve a Problem

The following is a "preview" of a Plus Edition-only article:

Decades-old genealogy problems do, occasionally, get solved. If you are "lucky." If you have accomplished your hours of homework. If you look in the right place. And if you know how to fit the puzzle pieces together. Any good puzzle master knows that, when working on a difficult 500-piece puzzle, all the previous hours of "puzzling" gives the player a special sense of what piece will fit where. We come to "know" or "feel" when a puzzle-piece fit is just right. Or is not. You may sort through all the pieces but will ultimately pick one to fit into that special hole in the puzzle… as in genealogy, we sometimes begin with an assumption. To solve a decades-old genealogy problem, you have to have a starting point…you have to begin with some basic assumptions.

The preceding is a "preview" of a Plus Edition-only article. The full article is available only to Plus Edition subscribers. Click on Plus Edition for more information.

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Researching Publican and Brewery Ancestors

A book review written by and copyright by Paul Gaskell.

"Researching Publican and Brewery Ancestors" is a new book by Simon Fowler. As a former employee of the Public Record Office and of the Society of Genealogists, and as the current editor of Family History Monthly, Simon Fowler speaks with authority on many topics related to family history. Add to this the fact that he is a member of the executive committee of the "Brewery History Society" and its current Newsletter Editor, and it becomes clear why he was invited by the Federation to write this particular guide. Incidentally, those researchers who have not had the pleasure of meeting Simon Fowler but would nevertheless like to put a face to the name should visit the following webpage:

In the UK, the history of pubs, breweries and brewing goes back several hundred years. Unfortunately, for many years, mergers, take-overs and cessations of brewery companies have been the norm. Naturally, these organisations kept their own internal records, and this often makes research difficult, with the records of interest to family historians often being held in totally unexpected and possibly remote locations.

My interest in the history of the licensed trade results from my great grandfather, William Burt (1872-1920), who ran a pub known as the Black Horse Hotel. This was situated on the outskirts of the South Lancashire village of Standish. This pub had previously been in the hands of his in-laws, James and Elizabeth Danson, and following his suicide in 1920, the tenancy was taken over by his widow, Mary Danson. A photograph of the Black Horse Hotel with William Burt standing outside clearly shows that this pub was part of the UK tied house system, whereby it was owned by the brewery Magee Marshall & Co. Ltd. Many public houses were owned by breweries, so as to guarantee outlets for the beers that they produced. Magee Marshall were a Bolton brewery, who were taken over by Greenall Whitley of Warrington in the late 1950's. Their brewery in Bolton was closed down, whilst their pubs became tied houses of the purchasing company.

The change of ownership of the Black Horse Hotel illustrates the difficulties faced by those researching their publican ancestors, the pubs that they ran, and the breweries that owned them. In this recent publication by the Federation of Family History Societies, the author addresses these difficulties by briefly outlining the history of pubs within the UK and the breweries that served them. He then goes on to look at some of the records that a family historian can use to find out about publicans, their staff, and brewery workers. Most but not all of these broadly fall into two categories, the internal records of the brewery itself, and the records kept by local and central government as part of the regulation of the licensed trade. Such documentation includes licenses, which were introduced in 1552 and are often found in Quarter Sessions and Petty Sessions records; brewery records which are often found in local county record offices; insurance records; trade directories; and newspapers. Mr. Fowler gives guidance on how to locate the relevant records and describes in plain English how to use them to maximum effect.

The author has included a detailed glossary, bibliography, and details of some relevant websites within this booklet. These will prove to be of particular value to overseas researchers, who might need to be especially vigilant in the background work undertaken before visiting the UK or commissioning a professional to look at prime records on their behalf. However, of possibly greater interest to the serious family historian is a listing of numerous trade newspapers of relevance to pubs and brewing, which are held at the British Library Newspaper Library, and details of various specialist archives with significant holdings of brewing and drink related material.

Most family historians will have an ancestor who at some point worked in the licensed trade. This booklet gives excellent guidance as to how to find out more about their lives, the work that they did, and the people and companies that employed them. This inexpensive publication can be purchased online from the FFHS website at

Price £3.95

Price £4.95 inclusive of UK postage and packing

Price £5.25 inclusive of overseas surface postage and packing

Price £5.85 inclusive of overseas airmail postage and packing

Published by and available from FFHS (Publications) Limited, Units 15-16, Chesham Industrial Estate, Oram Street, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 6EN, UK. Also available online from :

ISBN 1-86006-174-5

Paul Gaskell has been actively researching his family history for the last nine years. Although a Lancastrian by birth, he lives and works in Oxford. He is Minutes Secretary and Publicity Officer of the Oxfordshire Family History Society.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Baptism Controversy Flares Anew Between Jews, Mormons

A controversy has existed for some time between leaders of the Jewish religion and the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). The controversy involves one of the most-used genealogy databases provided by the Mormons. You can read about this story in an article by Joe Berkofsky of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, published in the Cleveland (Ohio) Jewish News at

[Return to Table of Contents]

- The Irish in New York City

This week I had a chance to examine an interesting Web site, called "The Irish in New York City." It is a history site, not a genealogy site. Nonetheless, anyone with Irish ancestry in New York City will want to look at this one. It is fascinating.

Quoting from the Web site:

The Irish poured into New York City following the famine. From June to December 1847, 52,946 Irish immigrants arrived. By 1860, the Irish comprised 25% of New York. These immigrants were poor, unskilled and illiterate. Mostly Catholic from rural areas, many lived in sheer poverty where violence was part of their everyday life. They were mocked by newspapers, religious leaders and politicians. They were detested by native-born Americans who viewed them as unwanted labor competition with a foreign culture.

However, they rose to prominence in a relatively short time - an unparalleled social movement to prosperity.

The site contains several databases filled with valuable genealogy information, including:

The Deaths in Ireland page contains transcriptions taken from the New York City newspaper, The Irish-American. Spellings are as they appear in the newspaper. Many of these records are no longer available in Ireland; the New York City newspaper (and this Web site) may be the only source of such information. Only the year 1857 is available at this time.

Marriages in Ireland – a similar page, only of marriages. Again, much of this information may not be available elsewhere. At this time, only the marriages for 1857 are available online.

1857 Death Notices from New York City, as published in The Irish-American.

Draft Riots – A detailed historical perspective that involved many Irish during the American Civil War.

The Tenderloin and Satan's Circus – This lists many of the infamous saloons and bordellos of the 19th century area, as well as the widespread police corruption. You will also learn the story of police officer Charles Becker.

A Surname Database page allows you to see if anyone else is researching your surnames. You can also add your own interests to the database.

The above list provides a glimpse of what is available on this excellent Web site. However, you can find even more. I did not list all of the information available as such a list would probably fill this newsletter.

You can access the free "Irish in New York City" Web site at:

My thanks to Marie Daly for telling me about this interesting site.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Google Print to Access the Entire World's Information

Google enjoys a reputation of being a very innovative company. Their latest announcement shows that that they are still thinking of new ideas. In this case, they plan to put the entire world's information online.

Quoting from the new Google Print Web site:

Google's mission is to provide access to all the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible. It turns out that not all the world's information is already on the Internet, so Google has been experimenting with a number of publishers to test their content online. During this trial, publishers' content is hosted by Google and is ranked in our search results according to the same technology we use to evaluate websites.

On Google Print pages, we provide links to some popular book sellers that may offer the full versions of these publications for sale.

You can read more about this interesting new idea at:

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- FamilySearcher

This week I tried out a new Windows genealogy utility. FamilySearcher is designed to rapidly search the International Genealogical Index at the Web site. Like most genealogists, I have used this site hundreds of times, looking for information about my ancestors. Anything that will speed up the process is certainly a welcome addition to my genealogy toolbox.

I downloaded FamilySearcher from its support Web site. The 2.41 megabyte file only took a minute or so on my broadband connection, and it shouldn't be too bad on a dial-up connection. I double-clicked on the newly-downloaded file and followed directions shown on the screen. I then had to reboot the PC before using FamilySearcher. (I have never figured out why Windows has to be rebooted so often when other operating systems do not require that.) Within a couple of minutes, I was ready to use the program.

The use of FamilySearcher is simple. You first need to create a GEDCOM file of all or part of your genealogy database.

Note: If you are not familiar with the term GEDCOM, see my "GEDCOM Explained" article at:

Upon opening FamilySearcher, a "split screen" is displayed. The top third of the display looks like an empty spreadsheet program, while the lower two-thirds contains Internet Explorer. I opened a GEDCOM file, using the menus available in the top third of the screen. A few seconds later I was looking at every entry in my GEDCOM file, displayed in a spreadsheet. I then found that FamilySearcher would look for the one person highlighted in the "spreadsheet," displaying the data in the Web browser below.

FamilySearcher can be used to search six resources found at the FamilySearch web site: International Genealogical Index (IGI), Pedigree Resource File, Census, Vital Records, US Social Security Death Index and the Ancestral File. It can also be used to search and

In short, FamilySearcher operates in the same manner as manually typing in searches: you can search the various databases for one person at a time. However, you never have to type on the keyboard; everything is mouse-driven with a simple "point and click." As a result, FamilySearcher can save a lot of time as well as make the online searches simpler.

Program author Kevin Owen has a winner here: a nice, simple utility that is designed to make searches simple and fast. It achieves those aims well. The best part of all is the price: free.

FamilySearcher requires Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP. It also requires Internet Explorer 6 or later and an Internet connection. The program requires about 5 megabytes of hard disk space.

FamilySearcher is available at In addition to the online help that is provided within the FamilySearcher program, the above mentioned Web site also provides a PDF document that explains the process of installing the program, creating a GEDCOM file using PAF 5.2, and then using FamilySearcher to rapidly locate matching names on the FamilySearch web site. This white paper can be accessed directly using:

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Bogus Genealogies Online

I have written a number of times about the problems of accuracy in various online databases. This "problem" is not limited to any one database; it seems common in all of the Web sites that contain genealogy information contributed by the general public.

The problem is that not everyone who contributes information is a conscientious genealogist. Not everyone checks for accuracy, and not everyone checks for logical data. In fact, not everyone cares. On almost any online genealogy database that contains information contributed from the general public, you can find claimed births of white children in Massachusetts or Virginia in the 1500s or in Kansas in the 1700s. Those are only the more obvious errors, the ones that really "jump out" at you. Sadly, there are thousands more that look as if they are plausible but yet are not backed up by source citations or any facts.

In recent months I am told that the quantity of such junk has actually increased. You can find online pedigrees back to Adam and Eve, ones that link Winston Churchill and Saddam Hussein, and many, many others with just plain old made-up information.

For a quick example, go to and conduct a search for John Allen, born 1600 (plus or minus 20 years) in Massachusetts. You will find many such entries. The first one on the list shows a man of that name born in 1589 in Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts. One problem: that area was inhabited only by Indians in those days, according to every reputable history book. Spend a few more minutes looking for other impossibilities, and I bet you will find them.

I don't mean to pick on; it simply is an example that everyone can see easily. In fact, all of the other online genealogy databases that contain information contributed by the general public also contain similar fairy tales. The bogus data may not be for something in the 1500s; it could as easily be for the 1890s and still be equally wrong. The sad part is that some people actually believe this stuff and will insert it into their own genealogy databases, then pass it on to others. The misinformation replicates itself time and again.

Sometimes I think that the source citation for these erroneous entries must be the National Enquirer.

A note to newsletter readers outside the U.S.: The National Enquirer is an infamous newspaper sold at grocery store checkout stands across the U.S. It is well known for printing fictional stories in such a manner as to look as if they are factual. The paper often carries articles about Martian invaders running the government, Nostradamus' predictions coming true, simple cancer cures by eating some vegetable and other such silliness.

Fairy tales abound in online genealogy databases. Of course, this is nothing new. Similar fiction has existed in published genealogy books for more than a century. The age of the personal computer only changed the quantity of this stuff. Experienced genealogists have always accepted such junk for what it is: a clue that may or may not be accurate. All such clues need to be verified before being accepted as facts.

I do not wish to condemn all online genealogy databases. In fact, there are thousands of examples of scholarly online efforts, mostly containing records extracted from primary sources or high-quality secondary sources. Such databases were created by trained genealogists who cared about their work. You can find many such databases on,,,,, and thousands of smaller sites across the world. Some of the same Web sites also contain other databases holding information contributed by the general public, information that does not conform to the same standards of quality.

My recommendation is simple: Consider the source! Any time you use any online genealogy database, ask yourself, "Where did this data come from?"

Comment: Dick Eastman is employed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, a major provider of online genealogy databases on its Web site at However, that Web site contains no databases of information contributed by the general public. All the genealogy databases on that Web site are derived from scholarly sources.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Converting Tapes and 8mm Movies to DVD

I have written before about converting deteriorating VHS videotapes and old home movies to digital disks for long-term preservation. Now PC Magazine has written about the same topic. You can read Jan Ozer's excellent article at:,4149,1423393,00.asp

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- U.K. National Archives to Release Secrets

On January 1 the UK National Archives released a lot of previously "classified" information. It seems that many government papers in the UK, with only a few exceptions, are classified secret for a "standard" 30 years.

The newly-released "secrets" are sometimes amusing: the design of a coin to mark the UK joining the EEC was changed, after Prince Philip said he did not like the "little p." The coin was then changes to say "pence." This was stamped "secret" for thirty years?

There were some more serious secrets as well. There's no genealogy information here, but it is interesting to see what the National Archives does store. You can read more at

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Ships' Logs Uncover Past Climate

Genealogists are generally familiar with sailing ships, especially those passenger-carrying vessels that brought one's ancestors to the New World. Now the ships' logs are being used to study climate changes. You can read about this at:

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

[Return to Table of Contents]

- Knighthood for Inventor of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee graduated from the Queen's College at Oxford University, England, 1976. While still in college, he built his first computer using a soldering iron, an M6800 processor, and parts from an old television.

In 1989, Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the World Wide Web. Based on the earlier "Enquire" work, it was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. He wrote the first World Wide Web server, "httpd", and the first client, "WorldWideWeb" a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor which ran in the NeXTStep environment. This work was started in October 1990, and the program "WorldWideWeb" became available to the general public in the summer of 1991.

I will skip the rest of the history of the Web; we don't have enough space here, and you probably already know it anyway. In twelve years and a few months, Berners-Lee's invention has become one of the major technical, economic, and political forces in the world. He has received a number of awards since then, but perhaps the best one was the award announced this week.

Tim Berners-Lee has been named Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for his invention. Similar honors have been awarded to Isaac Newton, Francis Drake, and Mick Jagger.

Characteristically modest, Sir Berners-Lee said that he was an ordinary person who created something that "just happened to work out."

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

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- Fijians Apologize for Acts of Their Ancestors

The government of Fiji recently apologized to the descendants of a British missionary killed and eaten by the Fijians' ancestors more than 130 years ago.

What Do You Think? Comments and discussion are available on this newsletter's Discussion Board at:

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- Upcoming Events

The Upcoming Events section of this newsletter is published once per month, usually in the first newsletter of each month. Each event will be listed very briefly: date(s), location and brief details, followed by either an e-mail address or a Web page that you can use to find more information. Since detailed information is available via e-mail or the Web, I will not list the details in this newsletter. If you do contact any of these organizations, please tell them where you heard about the event.

If you would like to see your event listed in future newsletters, send an e-mail to: You must include either a Web page that gives details or an e-mail address for the organization or for someone within the organization who is willing to supply the meeting details upon request. Please limit your listings to events where you expect 100 or more people to attend.

Here are the listings, arranged by date. An asterisk indicates a new listing that has been added since the last time this list was published:

*Jan. 17 - Green Valley, AZ: The Green Valley Genealogical Society is sponsoring an all-day seminar with Michael John Neill, columnist for the Ancestry Daily News and Part I Course Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid-America. Topics include "Researching the Entire Family," "Court Records," "I Found It: Now what?" and "Problem Solving Applied to Genealogy." For more information or a registration form, see

Jan. 22-24 - St. Louis, MO: NGS GENTECH, a conference for genealogists using technology. This is a major national event. Further information on the conference can be found at:

Jan. 24 - Largo, FL: The Pinellas Genealogy Society Annual Seminar will feature special speaker John Colletta. Dr. Colletta's topic will be "Passenger Arrival Records, Beginning and Advanced" and "Assembling a Quality Family History".

Jan. 28 – The Villages, Florida: The Villages Genealogical Society is sponsoring an all-day seminar with Dr. George K. Schweitzer. The three topics covered will be Tracing Ancestors Back Across the Atlantic, Civil War Genealogy, and Finding Your Ancestors’ Parents. For downloadable registration form, check the Web site at:

*January 28 – New Port Richey, Florida: "Copyrights and Genealogy: What You Should Know." This seminar features David Ellis, a Largo, Florida attorney practicing copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and intellectual property law; computer and cyberspace law; business, entertainment and arts law; and franchise, licensing and contract law. A graduate of M.I.T. and Harvard Law School, he is a registered patent attorney and the author of the book, A Computer Law Primer. He has taught Intellectual Property and Computer Law as an Adjunct Professor at the Law Schools of the University of Florida and Stetson University. Sponsored By: West Pasco County Genealogical Society. Details may be obtained by calling 727-848-0112 or 727-375-5175.

Feb. 7 - San Luis Obispo, CA: The San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society will host its annual seminar. Several speakers will make presentations at this day-long event.

Feb. 28 - Sarasota, FL: Germanic Genealogy Workshop. The Germanic SIG of the Genealogical Society of Sarasota will present a workshop by Dr. Roger P. Minert, "Advancing Your Germanic Research." Further information on the conference can be found under the Calendar of Events at:

Feb. 28 - St. Charles, Illinois (New location): The DuPage County (IL) Genealogy Society will host its Twenty-ninth Annual Conference offering a 3-track program with 12 sessions. Patricia Reaves will conduct four sessions. Other speakers include Paul Milner and John Konvalinka. For further information and registration forms, visit

March 6 - Charlotte, Florida - GenFair 2004, a genealogical conference for family history buffs, will be sponsored by the Alliance for Genealogical Societies of Southwest Florida. The conference features noted speaker Dr. George K. Schweitzer who will make three genealogical presentations. His topics include: "Civil War Genealogy", "Rivers to Trails to Roads to Canals to Trains" and "Finding Your Ancestor’s Parents". He will also hold an "Open Question and Answer Period". For additional information, contact

March 9 to 13- Galesburg, Illinois: Carl Sandburg College is hosting its 6th annual Genealogy Computing Week. 6 days of hands-on genealogy computing workshops will be held in the college's new state-of-the art instructional computing building. All presentations are made by Michael John Neill, columnist for the Ancestry Daily News and Part I Course Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid-America. More information on the workshops is available at:

March 13 - Lake Havasu City, AZ: The Lake Havasu Genealogical Society, Inc., will be holding its 10th Annual Seminar with featured speaker Janna Bennington Larson.

March 20 – Vancouver, WA: The Clark County Genealogical Society is having Dr John Philip Colletta return for their Spring Seminar. For more information see the society's Web site at

*March 27, Waltham, Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Genealogical Council presents a full-day seminar by renowned genealogist and noted educator Helen Leary, Certified Genealogist, Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, Fellow of the National Genealogical Society. Helen Leary's four lectures on genealogy method will be: "Is This the Same Man, or a Different One With the Same Name"; "Time-Lines and Real Lives — Using Ancestor’s Life Patterns to Find Their Parents"; "Our Ancestors’ Voices — Getting the Records To Tell Us Everything They Know"; "The Hemings-Jefferson Connection". Details are available at

March 28 – Dublin, Ireland: Nora Keohane Hickey, Sally Warren and Jana Black are organizing a Dublin-based research week beginning March 28th 2004. This is a resumption of research trips organized in mid 1995-1997. Full details are available at:

April 3 – St. Louis, Missouri: "Tracing ancestors back to Europe" is the theme of the annual St. Louis Genealogical Fair. The day-long program features John Philip Colletta. Ph. D., an expert and entertaining speaker, in four different lectures on how to find your family's European roots. For more information visit the website at

*April 17 – Lake Mary, Florida (15 miles north of Orlando): The Central Florida Genealogical Society will present a genealogy conference featuring George Schweitzer, PhD, ScD, Distinguished Professor, University of Tennessee. He will present three lectures: Military Genealogical Research, River To Trails To Road To Canals To Trains, and Researching in Burned Out Counties.

April 22-24 - Wilmington, OH (between Columbus and Cincinnati): The Ohio Genealogical Society presents its Annual Conference. The Conference will feature Thomas W. Jones and 28 other speakers presenting 58 sessions. The theme of the conference is "Settlers and Builders of Ohio, Discovering Family History Resources and Strategies." Additional details are available from

April 24 – Santa Rosa, CA: Elizabeth Shown Mills will hold an all-day seminar in Sonoma County, California, sponsored by the Sonoma County Genealogical Society. Details are available at:

April 24 - Topeka, Kansas -- The Topeka Genealogical Society hosts its 32nd annual genealogy conference with Lloyd deWitt Bockstruck as featured speaker. For more information see Conference at the TGS website:

May 27-30 – Toronto, Ontario: The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society will host the Society's annual seminar with a theme of "The 3 R's of Family History: Resources, Research, Results." The seminar will feature different streams of interest: Methodology, Technology, Toronto, Ontario, and Canadian research, and a miscellaneous stream which could include topics related to such things as Society Management, genetics/DNA, and others.

*June 18 - 20, 2004 - Sandwich, MA: The Wing Family of America is hosting their annual reunion. You do not have to be a member of the WFA to attend the reunion. Many activities planned and the first volume of the new Wing Genealogy will hopefully be available. For more information see the WFA's Web site at

July 11-17 - Washington, D.C.: The National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) offers on-site and in-depth examination of the common and less-known federal records. This intensive week-long study opportunity is for experienced genealogists and for archivists, historians and librarians interested in using federal records for genealogical research. It is not an introductory course in genealogy. Details may be found at:

*Sept. 25 – Oxford, England: The Oxfordshire Family History Society's Open Day 2004 will feature a demonstration and workshop on the scanning of old photographs, an assortment of visiting societies, dealers in second hand books and postcards, sales of microfiche readers and the like, the society's library and search services, a beginners' helpdesk, computing demonstrations giving advice on such topics as which genealogical software package to choose, and the use of the internet in family history, and more. Details are still developing, keep a watch on

October 2 - Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Western Michigan Genealogical Society (WMGS) is celebrating its 50th anniversary from October 2003 - October 2004. This celebration will culminate in a one-day Conference – "Got Ancestors?!" along with a banquet. Speakers include Dick Eastman, Joan Griffin, and Shirley De Boer. Dick Eastman will also speak at the Saturday evening banquet. Details are available at:

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The PR Budget for this newsletter is $0.00. I rely upon "word of mouse" advertising in which you recommend this newsletter to your friends. This newsletter is a private project of mine, and I have a zero budget for a publicity campaign to get more readers.

In each issue, I try to offer you useful, interesting and sometimes amusing information to help you with your genealogy efforts. Can you take a minute to help me out in return? If you think this newsletter is a worthwhile read, please tell your friends. Better yet, suggest they can read the Standard Edition or subscribe to the Plus Edition at


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This document is provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in this document represents the views of Richard W. Eastman with one exception: words written by other authors and republished herein are the views solely of those authors. All information provided in this document is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied. The reader assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and the use of this document.

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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 2004 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

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If you all of a sudden stop receiving your copy of the newsletter (and this happens more than you might think), don't just assume I skipped an issue or there's something wrong with the newsletter's distribution. I rarely skip an issue without noting that in advance. If you stop receiving the newsletter, chances are that it's not a problem with your subscription; it's a problem with your mail server or your spam filter. That is the number one cause of newsletter subscription problems.


Dick Eastman is employed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, serving as Assistant Executive Director for Technology. He 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 is a past Director of GENTECH and of the New England Computer Genealogists. Dick 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.

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