Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ancestry Has Reportedly Improved Its Search Capability has reported that is has improved its site's search capability in terms of returning date-relevant hits. This is especially true in what it has been calling its "new search."

One of the examples cited in a recent Ancestry Blog post is focused on the frustration of users entering a 1910 death date, yet getting returns from the 1930 census.

You can read the entire article at:

Selected Articles From Ancestors Magazine Now Availble Online

Dick Eastman posted this in his Blog recently: "Produced by The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Ancestors is a monthly magazine full of tips and guidance for family and other historians. Now the publishers are offering selected past articles for a modest fee. Most articles are four to five pages in length, and have been scanned in colour from the original magazine. Downloads are supplied in PDF format.
"The National Archives’ Documents Online service has a selection available from recent issues, with more to be added shortly. Subjects covered include parish magazines, convicts in Bermuda and an introduction to the Archives and its work.
You can download individual articles for £0.75 or a compilation of up to five articles for £1.50 (about $2.19 US). To find out more, visit "

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dictionaries for Genealogical Research

We all probably have a dictionary or two on our book shelves at home. But do we have all that we need to support our research?

Carolyn Barkley at the Blog site "" gives a good rundown on several categories of dictionaries that may aid in genealogical research. She covers legal, medical, and name dictionaries in addition to those that simply give us definitions. She also tells why they may be of value and gives some examples of their use.

You can read her article at:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Looking Behind Multiple Family Deaths

The Blog, The Weekly Discovery, recently had a short but interesting article about observing multiple deaths in a single family during your research. In part, here is what the post says:

"When family historians run across records that show family members dying in rapid succession, one of the first things to consider is a contagious disease, and possibly an epidemic. Check local histories to learn about epidemics in the area in which your ancestor lived.When you’re dealing with contagious diseases, it’s not uncommon to see families decimated."

You can read the entire article at:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Digital Genealogy Magazines and Journals

Randy Seaver in his Blog titled "Genea-Musings" recently mused about the increasing number of genealogy periodicals that are being offered in electronic format. Some offer that format alone, and some still offer print, but at a higher price.

The cost of print is becoming prohibitive for some publishers, and digital format is a logical avenue to pursue. We at PGS have discussed the possibility of offering the Pinellas Genealogist in digital format, but our readers were not if favor of that, and we have been able to bear the costs so far. That course may be in our future, however, so we are watching with interest the experience others are having with digital formats.

Randy, in his article, gives a good survey of major periodicals that are offered digitally. Some you may be interested in if you are not already aware of them. Read his article at:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wiki Webinar

For those of you who took the plunge and started a Wiki after Drew Smith's presentation to us last Saturday, you may be interested in a little extra help.

PBWiki offers a Webinar to help you learn the ropes titled "PBwiki 101: Your Guide to Wiki Basics." It is held on the first Wednesday of the month at 1pm EST / 10am PST.

You can register for the event at

Thursday, April 23, 2009

MacFamilyTree 5.5 is Now in Public Beta

This is for you Mac users out there. You are probably more familiar with the software than I am, but here is a news release that I thought would be of interest. The following was written by Synium Software:

Not long ago we released MacFamilyTree 5.4 with many improvements and a lot of new features. But MacFamilyTree 5.5 raises the bar even higher. Ever wanted to know who governed a country at the time of your great great grandmother? MacFamilyTree's brand new History Database allows you to view every person or family event in a greater historical context: Browse hundreds of predefined entries; or add your own data of global and regional relevance. Our sample events are fully-localized and integrate with, your own entries may easily be linked to Web URLs, too.But MacFamilyTree 5.5 Public Beta delivers even more improvements: Users with huge family trees will appreciate MacFamilyTree's completely rewritten genealogy database technology. GEDCOM import, as well as viewing and editing of information in your family tree is much faster now.

Although this Public Beta of MacFamilyTree 5.5 has been submitted to heavy internal testing, crashes and even the loss of data cannot be completely ruled out. Please make a backup of your family tree before upgrading to MacFamilyTree 5.5.

Download MacFamilyTree 5.5 Public Beta at and check out the new features.

Thanks to Dick Eastman for bringing this article to our attention.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Did He Really Get Married When He Was 5 Years Old?!

All of us probably have run across such "facts" in our own genealogy data from time to time. Perhaps it was a product of our own poor typing, or perhaps it snuck into our file when we quickly downloaded a GEDCOM and merged a record or two without carefully checking the information (OK, maybe YOU have never done that, but I admit that on occasion I have been guilty!).

A recent article on Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter titled "A Sanity Check for Your Genealogy Data" addresses this topic. The article also explores how to use your own genealogy program to help identify the problems when they exist.

You can read the full article at:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Manasota Genealogical Society Meeting

The Manasota Genealogical Society will have its monthly meeting on Tuesday, 5 May. Here are the particulars:

Date: TUESDAY, May 5, 2009
Where: Manatee Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd., West Bradenton, Florida
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Guest Speaker: ANNE YOUNG; Topic: “Photographs and Souvenirs”

Monday, April 20, 2009

GEDxlate Makes List Management Easy

I'll admit that I get excited about new computer programs in general and especially about those which are helpful to me in unexpected ways. GEDxlate is one of those.

GEDxlate is a FREE Windows program that quickly and easily translates genealogy data from standard GEDCOM format into MS Access dB (*.mdb), MS Excel Worksheet (*.xls), comma delimited (*.csv), or text file (*.txt) formats. I tend to focus on Excel Worksheets for a lot of my list keeping (and we even offer a class on the genealogy applications of Excel), so this program got my interest in a hurry.

It will take a GEDCOM of your database that you create and then put the data into an Excel format so you can look at it all at once and sort it in any order you wish. Here is how I immediately used this capability. I asked for all of the people in my database to be listed with their names, and birth and death dates (the specific data you want displayed is easily specified with a mouse click or two). It was then easy for me to see which people in my list were missing those pieces of information and where I needed to spend some research time. And I could also easily print out those with missing data to make a rough to-do list.

This was much easier than creating a custom report from my genealogy program to get that information, and is certainly was easier than looking at each person in my database individually.

You can read about the program and download it at

Sunday, April 19, 2009

PGS and the Largo Public Library Get some Press

In case you missed it, the 16 April edition of the Largo Leader carried an article about the Pinellas Genealogy Society and role of the Largo Public Library in Pinellas County genealogy.

Tom Michalski, the article author, did a good job in crediting the library's central role in Pinellas County genealogy and the assistance and support the PGS offers researchers whether they do their work at the library or not, and whether they are focusing on local, national, or international research interests.

You can check out the article by picking up an issue of the Largo Leader, or by visiting

PGS Website Updates and Additions

Within the past month the PGS Website has updated the following files:
>Marriage Indexes
>Journal Article Index

Check them out at

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Drew Smith Talks about Blogs and Wikis

We at PGS again thank Drew Smith for his down-to-earth and understandable presentation today on establishing and using Blogs and Wikis to share genealogy research and family history.

After the meeting, I talked to several attendees who said they did not realize it was so easy to get started and were going to go home and try it. Even those who said they probably would not start a Blog, said they learned a lot about the purposes of having one to further genealogical research and that would help them as Blog readers, if not Blog writers.

Drew also told us about the Florida Genealogical Society Seminar coming up on 26 September, with Elizabeth Shown Mills as the primary speaker. Browse down to the 10 April post in this Blog for more information and a point of contact for a registration form. Registration forms are also on the desk in the Largo Public Library Genealogy Center while they last.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Roots Magic User's Group

The RMUG will meet in the Local History Room of the Largo Public Library at 10 am on Saturday, 25 April.

This is a free-wheeling question and answer period for those who are using or are curious about the Roots Magic genealogy program. Version 4 of the software was recently released and that will be a topic of particular focus during this meeting.

Family History Writer's Workshop

The second meeting of the workshop will take place at 6 pm in the Local History Room of the Largo Public Library on Tuesday, 21 April.

This group may have something to offer both those who have considered writing some of their family's history but have never gotten around to it, or those who are currently in the process of writing it. The focus of the time spent together is doing actual writing. There is also time to share what was written and possibly hear some ideas on how to improve it.

There is also a discussion time where a particular writing topic is discussed. Even with that, however, the focus is on doing writing, not talking about it.

So if you are a new, experienced, or aspiring writer....writing for publication, for your family, or just for yourself, join us and exercise your writing skills.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pinellas Genealogist Family History Writing Competition

Our journal editor, David Dellinger, did a post on this topic a short time ago, but it deserves additional attention.

This is our First Annual Family History Writing Competition and we are pretty excited about it. It is open to one and all, with cash prizes being awarded of $50 for first prize, $30 for second, and $20 third. The deadline for submissions is July 31st, and the winning paper will be published in the winter issue of Pinellas Genealogist.

Entries should be based on the author's personal research of a family history or genealogical account of family lines and lives, discussing the steps followed and the conclusions that resulted from the research.

For details and rules look in the Spring edition of the journal, Pinellas Genealogist, or go to the link on the home page of Pinellas Genealogy Society's web site at

This is a great opportunity to do some of that writing that you have been putting off, have some fun doing it, and possibly have it pay off for you.

Genealogy Meeting, 18 April at the Largo Public Library

This is a reminder of the monthly meeting of the Pinellas Genealogy Society on 18 April, 2009 beginning at 11:00 am at the Largo Library, 120 Central Park Drive in Largo, FL.

Our speaker will be Drew Smith, a well-known writer, genealogist and librarian from the University of South Florida. He is co-host of the Genealogy Guys podcast and had been a featured speaker at many statewide and national conferences. He is a specialist in digital technology in genealogy.

The program topic is "Options for Family Websites" where Drew will demonstrate how to create a family website using a blog, a wiki and a genealogy software package (Roots Magic). This will be an interesting program even if you don't know a blog from a wiki.

The program is preceded by an informal Q&A session on "Computers in Genealogy" beginning at 9:45 am.

Light refreshments will be served after the presentation and there will be opportunity to talk with the speaker and PGS members.

Genealogy Software Reviews

I think I mentioned this site in an earlier post, but it is worth a repeat in case some of you missed it. The site reviews all manner of genealogy software....over 400 programs, in fact. The reviewers are actual users of the software like you and me. A five star rating system is used to comment on areas such as how often it is used, how enjoyable the experience is, how useful the program output is, how easy it is to input data, and an overall rating.

If you are shopping around for genealogy software of any type, this site should be one of your research stops:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Florida Genealogical Society (Tampa) Announces It's Fall Seminar

The Florida Genealogical Society (Tampa) is very pleased to announce the details of its 2009 Fall Seminar, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 26, 2009, at the Dale Mabry Campus of Hillsborough Community College.

This year's speaker is Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, distinguished, internationally recognized genealogy expert, speaker, author, and researcher.

Ms. Mills is a historical researcher and writer who has spent her life studying American culture and the relationships between people. A popular lecturer and author who has appeared on radio and television on three continents, Elizabeth has been widely cited as “The person who has had the most impact on family history in the post-Roots era.”

She will present four excellent lectures:
The Elusive Ancestor: There’s No Such Thing as “Too Poor to Trace”
Sources & Citations Simplified: From Memorabilia to Digital Data to DNA
The Identity Crisis: Right Name, Wrong Man? Wrong Name, Right Man?
Okay, I Got the Neighbors – Now What Do I Do with Them?

Registration for the Fall Seminar is $35 for members and $40 for non-members. You will find the 2009 FGS Fall Seminar Registration Form and a Map of Hillsborough Community College, Site of 2009 FGS Fall Seminar showing the location of HCC's parking and the building in which the auditorium is located in the right-hand columns of the FGS website at (under IMPORTANT FGS DOCUMENTS). For more information, please email

Monday, April 6, 2009

Donations to PGS

Each year we increase our research assets at the Pinellas Genealogy Society in part by the donations we receive from the public. If donated books, periodicals, etc. are in good shape and not already in the collection, we get them added and available to the public. Our collection is co-located with the Largo Public Library collection for the convenience of researchers. If the donation is already in the collection, it is then sold at one of our many book sales.

If you have materials you think would be of benefit to researchers and would like them to enjoy the protection inherent in being part of a large, managed collection, contact the PGS by calling the genealogy desk at the Largo Public Library (727-586-7410) or contacting Peter Summers (

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grave Markers and Copyright

I ran across this thought-provoking article in the Blog called "Genealogy's Star."

I never thought of the possibility of the information on grave makers being copyrighted. The author of the piece, an attorney of many years, gives his opinion on the subject. The bottom line is, in his opinion, that since the information is in the public record it cannot be copyrighted, but the issue has never had the scrutiny of a court case, either.

In the article, the author refers to another, related incident that has been making the rounds in genealogy Blogs: a church that prevented a person from publishing information from grave makers located in that church's graveyard for "privacy" reasons.

This all has the characteristics of a "tempest in a teapot," but you never can tell how much energy it will really gain. You can read about all of this at the following website:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

New Genealogy-Specific Search Engine

Here are excerpts from an article from Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter about, a new search engine dedicated to genealogy.

"[It is] built from the ground up to create a useful resource for anyone researching their ancestry. It is so new that it isn't fully operational just yet. Hundreds of new links are added each day.
"In November 2008 Geneally acquired the former genealogy news site, making a starting point for all matters of interest to family historians. The company plans a full launch in April with what it claims will be hundreds of thousands of new links for genealogy and family history.
Geneally is available in beta at"

Remember this is still in the beta testing phase, so cut it some slack. Time will tell how helpful this search engine will be to genealogists. Give it a try and stay tuned.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Long Term Data Storage and Retrieval Issues

An article by Henry Newman writing for the Enterprise Storage Forum is truly thought-provoking. He talks about the problems we face in storing data in the electronic age...and more importantly....retrieving it in a usable form.

We all know that data formats and physical storage media change over time making data saved under old formats and with old devices inaccessible. And we also know that there are no easy solutions to the problem.

Henry's article gives an overview of the issues from the perspective of a data storage professional with 28 years of experience behind him. You can read the article at:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Summary of Online Genealogy Records and Resources

This summary site is not exhaustive, but it does give a good starting point for finding vital records on line. Joe Beine does a good job of keeping the site updated.

Many of the links will take you to "old friends" like the Castle Garden site or the Social Security Death Index, but others may surprise you with indexes and images on state and personal sites you did not know about.

Check it out at:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Internet is Only One Avenue for Genealgy Research

We all know that the title of this post speaks the truth. But I'm sure we all sometimes forget it as we get captured by the the ease of Internet access.

Click on the following link to the California Genealogy Society and Library Blog for a graphical reminder to us all: