Note: The information in this archived copy was accurate on the date of publication. Since then, Web sites have appeared and disappeared, companies have been merged and many other facts have changed. You may find references in this archived copy that are no loner accurate.
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Vol. 4 No. 24 June 12, 1999
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Copyright © 1999 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
- The Master Genealogist Version 4.0
- The Master Genealogist version 4.0
The Master Genealogist, usually referred to as "TMG," is a powerful genealogy program that has long had a reputation as "the one that does it all." I have always been fascinated by the customer loyalty that TMG users exhibit. Most TMG users love the programs power and many, many features.
The Master Genealogist allows and encourages the user to record every scrap of information found during genealogy research, including text information, scanned images, sound clips and even full motion video. It is the program of choice for many serious genealogy researchers. A few weeks ago Wholly Genes announced the release of version 4.0 and I had a chance to use it this week. I believe that the TMG users will love this version even more than the earlier releases.
Version 4.0 of The Master Genealogist adds a new menu system, new navigational aids, improved language translations, and a number of other enhancements that users requested. However, the biggest change is in its reporting capabilities. TMG 4.0 has a new feature called Visual Chartform. This feature draws some of the best genealogy wall charts and fan charts that I have seen. Ancestor and descendant box charts, including images, can be printed on individual sheets or on large format printers for charts that cover a wall. Fan charts can be printed in any size and can be configured as a small wedge, full circle, or any user-defined angle. At the recent National Genealogical Societys conference, the Wholly Genes vendor booth was filled with wall charts, most of them containing color pictures of the people depicted. These huge charts drew a lot of attention.
The Master Genealogist version 4.0 base program will operate on Windows 3.1 or later. However, the new Visual Chartform requires Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT. Anyone using Windows 3.1 will not have access to the new box charts and fan charts that are produced through Visual Chartform. I suspect that very few TMG 4.0 users will be running Windows 3.1. I used Windows NT to test the new release.
Only a few years ago, selecting a personal computer for use with genealogy software was a difficult decision. In order to use the more powerful genealogy programs, such as The Master Genealogist, the buyer had to make sure that he or she selected a processor with enough speed, a lot of memory, enough disk space to hold a large genealogy database, an extra-cost CD-ROM drive, and a video board with a high enough resolution to handle the graphics. In most cases this meant the purchase of several extra-cost options. Make no mistake, the 1999 versions of the same programs are still as demanding as ever and perhaps even more so. What has changed in the meantime, however, is the availability of hardware. All the items that used to be extra-cost options are now included within even the cheapest PC. I have seen PCs for sale at discount houses for $399 (plus monitor) that are powerful enough to run any genealogy program available today. In fact, it is now almost impossible to find a new PC that cannot run The Master Genealogist or any other genealogy program!
Installation of TMG version 4.0 was simple: insert the CD-ROM disk into the drive, double-click on SETUP.EXE and then follow the on-screen instructions. Installation took less than two minutes. In my case, I was updating an earlier version already installed. However, installing a brand-new version should be just as fast and easy.
The internal database of the new release is in a slightly different format than the earlier version I had been using. When launched, version 4.0 of The Master Genealogist detected the earlier version and asked if I wanted to first make a backup before converting to 4.0 format. I answered "Yes" and TMG then made a backup copy on a ZIP drive I have. It could have made the backup to floppies or to another section of my hard drive, had I wanted that. I wish that all genealogy programs would do the same!
The user interface of version 4.0 looks very similar to the earlier versions. I would describe this as a no-frills interface. Like Jack Webb on the old Dragnet TV series, this one presents "Just the facts, maam, nothing but the facts." And it presents a lot of facts indeed. The program has three "views": Person View, Family View and Tree View. I normally use all three when searching for data or trying to establish relationships. For entering data, however, the Person View is best. On one screen I can view and quickly enter or change the persons name, parents, children, spouses, dates and places of birth, marriage, death, burial, military service, bar mitzvah, education, canonization or execution. I can also enter data about multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.) and even specify birth order (this was the second of eight children, etc.) Indeed, the total list of all the programs features is much too long to describe here. All of this is almost unchanged from earlier versions of The Master Genealogist. The menu system has changed a bit in order to conform more closely to the Windows standards, but present TMG users will find the changes to be minor.
I quickly decided to check out the new Visual Chartform features. I went looking for "Visual Chartform" on the menus but didnt find it. Instead, Visual Chartform is invoked automatically by selecting any one of the following reports:
I first selected "Ancestor Box Chart." Within a minute or so, the software created a box chart of more than 2000 of my ancestors and displayed part of the chart on my screen. I could have printed it then but was warned that it was 39 pages. I elected to first try customizing the chart a bit. Visual Chartform allows the user to customize:
Visual Chartform also features:
The charts can be produced on any standard Windows output device, including black-and-white printers, color printers, plotters or even a FAX modem. You can FAX directly from the program to your other relatives FAX machine. The Master Genealogist can also create chart images as disk files in either JPG or BMP image. The resultant files can then be imported into other programs such as a word processor or a paintbrush program.
I finally decided to print only eight pages on an inkjet color printer. I taped the pages together to make a rather attractive wall chart. However, if I plan on going to a family reunion, I will probably send the output to a floppy disk and then go to Kinkos or a similar store to have the printouts made on a large plotter.
Describing all the features of Visual Chartform in a text-only newsletter is a bit of a challenge. Rather than trying to describe all these charts, I will suggest that you read the descriptions and view some sample charts by taking an online tour at: http://www.whollygenes.com/html/vcf.htm. That "tour" has many screen shots of the program in operation.
Of course, The Master Genealogist version 4.0 still retains all the features that it has always been famous for. Many people claim that TMG is the best program available today for recording genealogy sources. It encourages you to record not only information but also where you found that information. This is in conformance with techniques taught by most genealogy instructors and almost all the leading books that teach proper genealogy research. You should always establish a paper trail so that you or future researchers can go back at any time and quickly find any source document that you ever used.
The Master Genealogist even allows you to record the documents that DID NOT produce results. That might sound silly at first, but recording such information has two benefits:
The Master Genealogist not only has a true sources database; it also has a true "Repository Database." That is, it has a database to record the locations of documents, such as libraries, courthouses or the attics of relatives. Many of the less powerful genealogy programs can only record such information within text files; they typically do not have true relational databases for recording both sources and repositories.
TMG has fields within its sources and repository databases for recording book names and page numbers. In addition, it records ISBN numbers, microfilm reel numbers, library shelf numbers and almost any other fact that you would ever want to record.
One feature in its location database that I am beginning to appreciate is the provision for longitude and latitude. I am now recording the longitude and latitude of land that my ancestors owned as well as the locations of tombstones. Where possible, I even record the geographic coordinates of events such as birth, marriage and death. I hope this will allow future researchers and interested relatives to find these locations a lot more easily than I did. To date, I have probably logged the geographic coordinates of only 1% or 2% of the locations in my database. I wish that feature was available when I started genealogy research; I would have done things differently!
One major new feature added to The Master Genealogist last year is GenBridge, something not available in other programs. Most genealogy programs can import GEDCOM files and offer this as a method of converting data from one genealogy program to another. To use GEDCOM, you go to the first genealogy program and use its GEDCOM export feature to convert its internal databases information to a GEDCOM format file. You then exit that program, launch the second genealogy program, and use its GEDCOM import routine to import that file and convert it to that programs internal database format. That all sounds quite simple, but there is more complexity than first meets the eye.
GEDCOM is an inexact standard. Many of the GEDCOM "tags" are open to interpretation and, indeed, different programmers have interpreted things differently. Next, the present release of GEDCOM never envisioned the complexities of modern genealogy databases. Not only do genealogists want to record names, dates and places, but they also want to record employment dates, military dates and campaigns, educational degrees, residential addresses, medical information, color of eyes or hair, scanned images of census records, locations of books, page numbers within those books, microfilm reel numbers, and all sorts of other scraps of information. GEDCOM has features for most of those facts, but data still is dropped or altered frequently during the GEDCOM process.
My favorite analogy is that of converting languages from one language to another by using a third language. That is, converting from program ones internal database format to GEDCOM format and then converting it again from GEDCOM format to the second programs internal format obviously entails two conversions. That doubles the likelihood of problems. For comparison, think about the translation of a technical document from Japanese to English, only assume that you do not have anyone available who can speak or write both languages. Instead, you have one person who is literate in Japanese and in Mandarin Chinese. You also have a second person available who is literate in both English and Mandarin Chinese. So you have the first person translate the manual from Japanese to Mandarin and then have the second person translate from Mandarin to English. The resulting text may be very different from what the original Japanese authors intended!
By the way, this is not a hypothetical situation. In the early 1980s I lived in China for some time while installing large mainframe computers at 13 Chinese scientific and engineering universities. Some of the electrical power equipment we installed was made in Japan, and the only manuals we had were written in Japanese. The universities where we were working kindly translated the manuals for us by the method I described above. They didnt have any students who were fluent in all three languages, so they did a double translation: Japanese to Chinese by the first student and then Chinese to English by a second student. The results were hilarious!
GEDCOM has the same weakness: conversion from one database format or "language" to a second database format or "language" by means of a third.
The Master Genealogist avoids this "double translation" by use of GenBridge direct import technology. In short, GenBridge allows for directly importing data from another genealogy program without first converting it to a third format. By directly importing data in one step, GenBridge will reliably transfer all custom "facts," name variations, addresses, medical information, alternate relationship types, reference numbers, free-form notes, sources, and other data types. It even transfers the contents of multi-media scrapbooks from some genealogy programs. Users of The Master Genealogist can directly import data from:
When new import modules become available, Wholly Genes Software will make the modules available for downloading from their Web site. Of course, The Master Genealogist also can import GEDCOM files for use with other programs not yet supported by GenBridge.
All of the above only scratches the surface of the features available in The Master Genealogist version 4.0. In order to keep this review to a reasonable length, I havent described the ability to export data in several ASCII formats as well as in Lotus, Excel or dBASE files or as text in more than 50 different word processor formats. When exporting in these word processor native formats, The Master Genealogist preserves the Table of Contents, headers/footers, endnotes/footnotes, memos and sources, Index of People, Index of Places, Index of Marriages and Bibliography.
Some of the features I havent described include the Research Log or the multi-media exhibits, the timelines, relationship calculator, date calculator, calendars, Regnal Date Converter, built in spelling checker, "sanity check" of data, Custom Report Writer, geographic database or the inclusion of the Ancestry Library including The Red Book, the Concise Genealogical Dictionary, the 1854 Gazetteer of the United States and other books on CD-ROM. I havent described its Dynamic Data Exchange features that allow The Master Genealogist to exchange data and pictures seamlessly with other programs running at the same time. In fact, a full review of the Custom Report Writer alone would fill several pages. All of these features are largely unchanged from the earlier versions. See my earlier reviews or Wholly Genes web site for information on these features and more.
In summary, The Master Genealogist version 4.0 still retains its title as "the premier genealogy program for the serious genealogist." It combines power and ease of use. I dont believe you can find a more powerful genealogy program.
The Master Genealogist is available in two "editions," called Silver and Gold. The Gold Edition includes everything described here. The Silver Edition of The Master Genealogist v4.0 includes a limited edition of Visual Chartform, which supports Descendant Box Charts with a top-down orientation only. For Ancestor Box Charts and Fan Charts, users must upgrade to the Gold Edition. The Silver Edition also exports text data in RTF and ASCII only, not in the other 50 or so native word processor formats. The Silver Edition also does not include the "Ancestry Library," a collection of genealogy reference books published on CD-ROM.
The retail price of The Master Genealogist version 4.0 Gold Edition is $99.00 and the Silver Edition is $59.00. Dealer prices may be lower. Users of earlier versions of The Master Genealogist may purchase upgrades to version 4.0 for discounted prices. Some of the upgrades are available by downloading directly from the Wholly Genes Web site. A chart of upgrade prices is available at the site.
For more information about The Master Genealogist version 4.0, look at: http://www.whollygenes.com
- Michigan 1870 Census Index Online
Some years ago the Library of Michigan printed an index to the 1870 U.S. Census records for the state. This printed version won the Paul W. Thurston award in 1993 as a notable government document. Copies of the printed index are available in libraries throughout Michigan and in many genealogy libraries elsewhere.
The Library of Michigan has now released an online version on their Web site. This is a major help for anyone researching Michigan ancestors of that time period, especially for researchers who do not have easy access to the printed index. Anyone can sit at home day or night and search the index.
The 1870 census index lists the names of heads-of-household where only one surname was present in a dwelling. In certain cases, surnames of other persons are indexed. For example:
This searchable database is very easy to use. A form appears on your screen with several fields for entry. You must fill in the last name, but the other fields are optional: first name, county, and township. You can also use wildcard searches. For example, if you enter "Smi" in the "Last Name" field and select the "Use Wildcard" option, the database will display all records with a last name starting with "Smi" including "Smiddorf", "Smith", and "Smits".
I did a search of all records for the surname of EASTMAN. Within a second or so the census index found 113 such records. Here is a typical example:
As you can see, this is only an index. If you want the full details of this census record, you need to go to a genealogy library or to a local Family History Center near you, obtain the microfilm containing images of the 1870 census for Sanilac County, and turn to page 101. There you will find more information about this family.
To search the 1870 U.S. Census Index for the state of Michigan, go to: http://envoy.libofmich.lib.mi.us/1870_census/
My thanks to Homer Thiel for letting me know about this valuable online resource.
- FamilySearch.org Drops 15-Minute Restriction
The LDS Churchs new online family history databases proved to be almost too popular. Within days after the formal announcement of availability, the web site was swamped. At times the load was peaking at 100 million hits a day. In order to keep the load at manageable levels and to guarantee at least some access for everyone, users were given access on a 15-minute rotation cycle.
Tow things have happened since then: the number of hits has gone down, and also some load balancing and system tuning has been done. Paul Nauta, a spokesman for the Church, recently said, "The access cycling to http://www.familysearch.org has been eliminated. Modifications have been made to enhance the service's capability and the number of hits per day seem to be stabilizing at 35 to 45 million with occasional larger spikes. Users should have no problem accessing the service at this time."
Even at "only" 35 to 45 million hits per day, this is still a very popular web site. You can access the FamilySearch site at: http://www.familysearch.org. You also might want to keep an eye on the "Whats New" page at: http://www.familysearch.org/whats_new.asp
- Online IGI Data Extraction Program
It seems that shortly after anything good appears, someone else comes along and improves it still further. Thats the way it is with the International Genealogical Index recently introduced on FamilySearch.org. The database is a valuable resource, but some people would like to have more reporting capabilities so that they can "mine" the data. Searching the database for a few entries of individuals is quite satisfactory, but anyone doing a one-name study may find the searching and reporting capabilities to be a bit weak. Dumping the records of several thousand individuals may take many hours, and then reassembling the data into a genealogy program or other database will take longer still.
Colin Hinson in England has released Windows 95 software for extraction of data from the online IGI personal record files. There are two programs involved. The first searches the Internet Explorer cache looking for Personal Record files that have been placed there by the browser while the user has been searching FamilySearch.org. The program places these files in a directory on the "C" drive.
Anyone not using Microsofts Internet Explorer can also save the Personal Record files individually as they explore the site, but that method will be a lot more tedious. Anyone who tries to use Netscape will probably switch to Internet Explorer in order to save time.
The second program extracts all the "important" data from the Personal Record files and then reads this file, producing a tab-delimited file. This tab-delimited file can then be loaded into a spreadsheet or database program. The second program will also extract data from previously saved Personal Record files and then copies them into the appropriate directory.
In order to run the two programs you must have Windows 95 or Windows 98. The programs author also strongly suggests the use of Internet Explorer 4 or later.
The program is still being developed. I didnt see the words "beta test," but obviously this software is evolving at the moment. It doesnt come with any guarantees or with technical support. It also does not have a money-back guarantee since it is free.
Here is what Colin Hinson wrote on his web site:
Guarantees or not, this is an interesting package. You can read more about it and then download the software from: http://www.blunham.demon.co.uk/Yorksgen/software/
My thanks to Jeanne Bunting for letting me know about this on CompuServes Genealogy Forums.
- The Irish At Home and Abroad Web Site Updated
Kyle J. Betit, Co-Editor of The Irish At Home and Abroad magazine, sent along the following announcement this week:
- Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck Wins Filby Prize
The U.S. National Genealogical Society made the following announcement this week:
- 1850s Daniel Cook Cabin Reconstructed in North Carolina
In the remote Little Cataloochee Valley, more than 300 descendents of the area's original settlers gathered on June 6 to re-dedicate a piece of history. Descendants of Daniel Cook, along with representatives of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Log Cabin syrup, unveiled the reconstructed 1850s Daniel Cook cabin. This cabin is one of four historic log cabins in the Park being restored this summer with the help of a $250,000 cash gift from Aurora Foods, Inc., makers of Log Cabin syrup.
"The reconstruction of the Cook cabin means a lot to those of us with deep roots in this area," said Harold Hannah, 65, of Abingdon, Virginia. "My great-great grandfather was born and raised in this cabin. Our family settled right on this spot."
The one-room Cook cabin sits in the heart of the remote Little Cataloochee Valley, which at the height of its development between 1890 and 1920 was inhabited by several extended family groups who established a local economy based upon subsistence agriculture and apple orchards. The cabin was dedicated as part of the annual Little Cataloochee Family Reunion, held each year by descendents to pay tribute to their ancestors who left the area in the 1940s to make way for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
"This cabin is truly representative of this nation's pioneer spirit," said Park Superintendent Karen Wade. "It is one of the oldest and finest examples of a log structure in Great Smoky Mountains National Park."
The Aurora Foods gift, the largest cash gift ever received by the Park, was made through the National Park Foundation (NPF) to Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. "We've wanted to repair these log cabins for a long time, but the funding was never available," commented Wade. "The Park could not fund reconstruction of the cabins due to flat federal budgets and increasing demands on available resources."
Built in 1857, the one-room Cook cabin was dismantled and placed in storage 25 years ago due to damage by the elements and vandals. Today, it is back on its original stone foundation, reconstructed based upon historic line drawings and photographs.
In addition to the Cook cabin, other log structures being restored this summer include: The Ephraim Bales cabin on the Roaring Fork motor nature trail near Gatlinburg, Tenn.; the Willis Baxter cabin off the Madron Bald trail near Cosby, Tenn.; and the Ferguson cabin near Maggie Valley, N.C., on the Cataloochee Divide trail. All four cabins were built in the mid-1800s.
"To protect the cabins' rich heritage, our craftsmen are using many of the same tools and techniques used by the original builders," said Bob Schubert, foreman of the Log Cabin restoration crew.
- Overdue Library Books Result In Arrests
Have you borrowed books from the Clearwater, Florida Public Library? You better double-check to make sure they were returned. Otherwise you could be headed to jail.
Three of the city's book borrowers were arrested this week for failing to appear in court to explain why they had not returned their library books. The offenders included a mother who kept books she checked out to read to her 2-year-old son.
Clearwater Public Library System director Arlita Hallam said the culprits were given at least eight chances over 18 months to clear their records by returning the books before they were arrested on warrants for failure to appear in court. "They just ignored it all. After 18 months you assume the books are not coming back," Hallam told news reporters. "If it was a rental car, there's a point where they consider it theft."
The maximum fine for an overdue book is $2.50, no matter how long it takes to return it, Hallam said. Yet Clearwater's library system was spending $180,000 a year to replace overdue items. "Every year we were spending one third of our budget on books we already owned," Hallam said. "They just haven't taken the theft of public property seriously. They have the mind set that if it's public property it's OK if you take it."
In theory, anyone found guilty of these "crimes" could be sent to jail. However, officials expect that the offenders will be freed after paying a fine. Sabrina Davis, 22, who was handcuffed and taken to the Pinellas County Jail Monday on a warrant, told the Tampa Tribune. "I think it's outrageous that they arrest you...It ain't like I did a huge crime, like I killed somebody."
- Home Pages Highlighted
The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have been listed recently on http://www.rootscomputing.com. Some of these sites may charge a fee for their services:
To submit your home page to this newsletter, enter the necessary information at: http://www.rootscomputing.com/register.htm. Due to the volume of new Web pages submitted, I am not able to list all of them in the newsletter.
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