Friday, April 30, 2010

Cost of Death Notices Could Mean the Death of Obituaries

Dick Eastman recently had a provocative article about the impact of the growing expense of death notices published in newspapers. Obituaries, which used to be essentially free, can not cost hundreds of dollars. And the higher that cost goes, the fewer will be the people who can bear the expense.

Dick cites an example of the situation from the San Francisco Chronicle, and this past year I had a similar situation with the Milwaukee Journal. The bottom line for genealogists of the future is that there may not be obituaries available to research.

You can read Dick's article at He also provides a link to the original article which came from Alan Mutter's Blog.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rootsweb Restricts Use of Your Email Address in Mailing Lists

In several of our classes we promote the use of mailing lists to reach out to other researchers and potential family members. is one of the providers of mailing lists that we talk about. Needless to say, mailing lists have email addresses floating around all over the place and several of our class attendees have expressed concern about spammers getting use of them.

In a recent edition of "Rootsweb Review," that very issue was addressed. The following is a quote from that publication that should put most fears to rest:

"RootsWeb mailing lists use several methods to protect the e-mail addresses of subscribers who post list messages as well as any addresses included within a message. Obviously, when list mail is distributed to all subscribers those subscribers can see your e-mail address and could contact you privately. Since all lists at RootsWeb are closed, meaning only subscribers can post or receive list mail, the lists themselves are safe. High volume address harvesters would not take the time to subscribe to a mailing list to gather addresses.
"List archives may appear at first glance to be vulnerable to the "spiders" (spam bots) used by address harvesters to gather the thousands of valid e-mail addresses of unsuspecting list posters for resale to mass e-mailers. But what you see in the archives using your Web browser is not what a spider would see. Spiders view the raw source code which RootsWeb encrypts. To see how this is done, go to any message in the list archives and right click within the page to bring up a menu. Select "view source" from the menu to see the raw code. Note that wherever an e-mail address is included in a message or in the address headers it is encrypted. Addresses in the raw code look like this:DisplayMail('
"The above method isn't foolproof and harvesters could use means to decode the addresses. Since their goal is to quickly and easily grab as many valid addresses as possible they seldom bother with time consuming processes. For greater protection, RootsWeb uses additional methods to deter harvesters. Notice the word Flybait in the raw code. Flybait discourages harvesters by sending them worthless invalid e-mail addresses. This also helps to ensure they won't return.
"Additionally, RootsWeb watches the traffic of spiders on their servers to see if any excessive activity is taking place. Keep in mind though that not all spiders are bad, you want Google to be able to spider the archives. Suspicious spiders can be blocked by RootsWeb while beneficial ones can be allowed to do their job."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Atlanta Historic Newspapers Available Online

Dick Eastman recently posted an item about the availability of 14 newspaper titles published in Atlanta from 1847 to 1922. What a great resource, especially considering that the Civil War years are covered!

You can search the papers by key words that appear in the articles. If more than one keyword is used, you can elect to see returns that include any of your chosen words, or all of other words, you can choose between an "and" search or an "or" search. You can also search all of the available newspaper titles or any one of them, as well as all of the available years, or any one of those as well. You can also simply browse the papers by title of by year.

One warning, you need to have the DjVu browser installed in order to see the images. The site gives you a link to the free download, however.

Check it out at:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Census Perspective from California

Plumas County, California may be geographically removed from us here in Florida, but in a recent news item from there the topic of the 2010 census was covered and we are all equally affected by that.

The article speaks mostly about the necessity of filling out the census and the fact that people giving the information have nothing to fear from the information recorders. In that explanation of privacy, however, there is mention of genealogy that is refreshing.

You may enjoy this brief article at:

Monday, April 26, 2010

PGS "Off-Site" Presentations

From time to time in our monthly meetings I mention the fact that the PGS is willing to travel to make presentations to other groups. I occurs to me that I seldom give you an idea of how successful our speaker's bureau is.

What follows is a listing of presentations the PGS has made at locations other than the Largo Public Library during 2009. They range from just down the road a bit to all the way to Ft. Myers.

The attendance ranges from 15 to over 100 at any one event. All told, for 2009 we had 786 attendees at off-site events. The off-site events for 2010 are on track with what we did in 2009.

If you know of an organization that would like a presentation on a genealogy topic--beginning to advanced--let Bob Bryan know at .

Each line gives you the following information in the order indicated:
Date; Class or Event; Instructor; Location
9-Jan-09; Weaving Fiction from Facts; Dellinger; USF, Tampa
10-Jan-09; Census Tracking; Summers; SPC-Gibbs Campus; Pinellas Park
20-Jan-09; Getting Started; Bryan; Fairway Village Computer Club; Largo
20-Jan-09; Getting Started; Summers; Tarpon Springs Library; Tarpon Spring
24-Jan-09; Getting Started; Bryan; St. Pete Beach Library; St. Pete Beach
24-Jan-09; Largo FHC field trip; Strait; Largo Family History Center; Largo
26-Jan-09; Future of Genealogy; Summers; Suncoast Genealogy Society; Tarpon Springs
27-Jan-09; Getting Started; Bryan; Gulf Beaches Library; Madeira Beach
28-Jan-09; DAR Seminar; Bryan-Summers; Caledesia DAR; Dunedin
31-Jan-09; Getting Started; Bryan; Seminole Community Library; Seminole
23-Feb-09; Weaving Fiction from Facts; Dellinger; Suncoast Genealogy Society; Tarpon Springs
10-Mar-09; Getting Started; Bryan; Retired Officer Wives; North Reddington Beach
17-Mar-09; PowerPoint in Genealogy; Summers; Fairway Village Computer Club; Largo
19-Mar-09; Census Tracking; Summers; Lee County Genealogical Soc.; Ft. Myers, Lee County
28-Mar-09; Fort Pulaski; Summers; Mary Custis Lee—United Daughters of the Confederacy; Clearwater
31-Mar-09; Getting Started; Summers; Tamarac Coffee Hour
10-Apr-09; Digital Camera; Bryan; SeniorNet User Group, USF; Tampa
11-Apr-09; St. Pete Satellite Group; Hostetler; SPC-Gibbs Campus; Pinellas Park
18-Apr-09; Weaving Fiction from Facts; Dellinger; Florida Gen. Society; Tampa
9-May-09; Census perspectives; Summers; SPC-Gibbs Campus; Pinellas Park
23-May-09; Intro to Gen & More; Bryan; Holiday Inn Express, 2580 Gulf-to Bay, Clearwater
12-Sep-09; Immigration & Passenger Lists; Summers; Imperial Polk Genealogical Society; Lakeland
12-Oct-09; 6 indispensable records; Summers; Largo Historical Society; Largo
10-Nov-09; Getting Started; Bryan; Junior Sr Citizens-Act II, Anona UMC
1-Nov-09; George Bushong story; Hostetler; Tarpon Springs Middle School; Tarpon Springs
18-Nov-09; Putting Meat on the bones; Hostetler; Clearwater SAR-Dunedin Country Club; Dunedin
20-Nov-09; Courthouse Documents; Hostetler; USF; Tampa

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another Reminder to Take Unsourced Information "With a Grain of Salt"

Sharon Tate Moody, In her article titled "Mormon Web site handy, but be sure to examine details," reminds us that unsourced information is always a starting point for research, not an ending point (and, of course, even sourced information needs to be evaluated carefully).

Sharon uses the site as an example in her article. Looking at the Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and International Genealogical Index; she shows how the information can be conflicting, and how almost all of it is unsourced.

If you have been researching for any amount of time, you are aware of the dangers outlined in the article, but it is worth seeing another person's view of the problem. You can read Sharon's article at

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Genealogy Lesson From Farm Fresh Eggs

Last year in a post to the Practical Archivist Blog, Sally J. gave an amusing rant about "false" advertising when it comes to farm fresh eggs.

She neatly brings this around to the advertising ploys used by people trying to sell us products to use in the preservation of our heirlooms and artifacts. Understanding how we can be fooled by product advertisements is certainly important since the very continued existence of some of our treasures depends on preservation products living up to their hype. As you might have suspected, terms like "archival" and "photo-safe" are much over-used and sometime down right misleading.

You can read Sally's article at:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are "Slate Computers" Tantalizing You?

If you get excited about new technology (especially if it would make your genealogy research easier), then you are probably listening to the news about the release of the Apple iPad.

But the iPad is not the only contender in the area of "slate" computers. In a recent edition of his online newsletter, Dick Eastman gives a side-by-side comparison of the iPad and the HP Slate.

You can read the article at

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Census Improvements at

Recently, you have probably heard of improvements that has made to its online census collection....and you have probably also wondered what those improvements are.

Here is a recent blurb from Ancestry about what they have done to the 1920 census that may give you an idea.

Ninety years ago, your ancestor had to answer 28 census questions for each member of the household. Lucky for you, you get the benefit of those details at today through new improvements to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, including an enhanced index with 20 million new alternate names, plus sharper images (netting another 250,000 names) and the ability to narrow your results by including parents in your search.

If you have not found all of your ancestors in census records yet, or if you have been discouraged in the past, you might give it another try. The census indexes and searches will never be perfect, but when improvements to the process are made, we should take advantage of them.

The library edition of is available free of charge at the Largo Public Library Genealogy Center and most other public libraries.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Scanners Recommended by the Practical Archivist

At some point or another we all have probably pondered the question of whether to purchase a scanner and which to get.

The Practical Archivist website has some suggestions for us. They are the Canon LiDE portable scanner and the CanoScan Film Scanner. The site gives the author's personal experience with the two devices and the rationale for their recommendation. They are not the only scanners on the market, of course, and digital cameras are even being offered as scanner substitutes nowadays. But reading of alternatives is always beneficial, especially when the source of opinion if as credible as I consider the Practical Archivist to be.

On top of that, did you know that the Largo Public Library uses Canon LiDE portable scanners? You can ask at the circulation desk to check one out for use on the computers at the library. If you are considering such a purchase, you might try one first.

You can read the Practical Archivist's recommendations at

Monday, April 19, 2010

Do You Want to Adopt A State

We have a few state sections in the Genealogy Center Collection that need tending. Wisconsin, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, Maryland, and New Jersey are in need of adopting.

Our Adopt-a-State program has been very successful in keeping our state collections of books accessible to researchers. By our volunteers visiting the library at least once a month to be sure their books are on the shelf in the proper order and are properly marked, the collection remains useful. Without that attention, books get mis-shelved and thus essentially "lost."

If you have a bit of time and have an interest in the states mentioned above, let me know ) and we'll get you started. This effort requires a minimal amount of time, but is critical for the viability of the collection.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back Issues of Ancestry Magazine Free Online

As most of you probably know by now, Ancestry Magazine is no longer being published. But thanks to Google Books, you can read all the past issues online, for free.

Although some of the issues are pretty old (16 year's worth), many of the topics, hints, tip, and research strategies do not go out of date.

You can find the past 16 years of Ancestry Magazine on Google Books at

Photshop Elements Class Cancelled

There is a Photoshop Elements class scheduled for the evening of 19 April, but UNFORTUNATELY WE WILL HAVE TO CANCEL THAT MEETING. I have an conflict that I cannot resolve. That same night I have to serve on the long range planning committee for the Largo Library.

We will have another session in the future, so keep you eye out for it...probably not until the early fall.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A U.S. Family Takes a Painful Look at the Slave Trade of the Past

James DeWold became America's second wealthiest man of the time from his family's involvement in the slave trade between 1769 and 1820, according to an article in the digital Seattle Times by Will Weissert.

The article presents a captivating relationship between James and his modern-day descendants, as well as between the U.S. (specifically Rhode Island), Cuba, and Ghana--the so-called "Slave Triangle." But read the article with caution. It presents some statistics and emotions you may not have encountered before.

You can read the entire article at

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yes, You May Be Related to Charlemagne Afterall

We often joke about how we might be related to Charlemagne. We do that because we have seen so many trees (probably of RootsWeb) that show the author's ancestry going back to him.

Well, it may be that if you are of European descent, there is a distinct probability that you are related to him.

Dick Eastman gives an insight into the reasons in his online newsletter. You can find the article at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Help in Using Your DNA Test Results

GeneTree specializes in genetic and genealogical services as a wholly owned subsidiary of Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. It is trying to fill the gap between a person getting a DNA test and knowing what to do with the results. It sees those services as unique in the marketplace in their ability to expand user's knowledge of their genetic and family history connection.

By bringing together quality genetic tests and family history consulting services, it is designed to help people discover near-term family connections in the last six to ten generations as well as deep ancestral connections.

You can read an extensive review by Dick Eastman at and/or visit the GeneTree site at

GeneTree lets you load your family tree for free on their site. They will also help you analyze your tree to determine which DNA test would be most useful to you. The site has some links to tutorials about DNA and DNA testing if you are a bit in dark about the whole concept.

There is lots to look at and learn from on the GeneTree site before you get around to DNA testing and consulting for which there will be a fee.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ohio Vital Records To Be More Accessible

In a recent edition of his online newsletter, Dick Eastman talks about a searchable database of Ohio birth and death records that will be available to the public in county office presumably by the end of the year.

That doesn't mean you can gain access from your computer at home, unfortunately. In fact there are no plans to make the database available to the public in that way. It will be available at state and county offices only. But the fact that the data is being digitally organized and available even in a limited way is a great step forward for those doing Ohio vital records research.

You can read Dick's article and find a link to the original article in the Dayton Daily News at:

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Census Search Capability From

A recent re-indexing project of the 1790, 1800, and 1810 U.S. Federal Censuses by means you can now refine your search terms to include the total number of residents, residents under age 16, free non-white residents, and slaves in a household. The new fields are particularly handy for reverse searching in these censuses, where only head-of-household was enumerated. Plug in the household details and the surname — even a wild card — to find people who match the description of the family you’re looking for.

If you have not visited those censuses lately or have been frustrated by them, you might try again using these search tools.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Help Understanding RSS Feeds

In a recent edition of his online newsletter, Dick Eastman published an article to help his readers understand the concept of RSS feeds...this simply describes the way information gets to people: web servers “feed” their information to those who ask for it. That means that in some cases, sites that you frequently visit to see updated information (such as Blogs, or podcasts) may be able to "push" their updates to you, rather than you going to the site to "pull" the updates yourself.

Dick's explanation is an easy one to follow, and complements such discussions that have occurred in some of our classes.

Check it out at:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Digital Preservation Help at the Library of Congress

Those of you who have questions about digitally preserving your document collection can find some help at the Library of Congress website.

From the home page of the site ( there is a link title "Personal Archiving." That takes you to a page that covers such topics as preserving digital memories, caring for collections, etc. There is even a page on digital preservation tips.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

African-American Genealogy Class on Saturday

Harriet Thompkins, one of our PGS members, will be giving a class on African-American genealogy research this Saturday, 10 April, at 10 am at the Largo Public Library.

Harriet will talk about some of the special challenges that confront researchers of African-American genealogy and how she herself confronted and overcame some of them in her own research.

Our own research brick walls can be seen in a clearer perspective when we listen to the research efforts of others, regardless of the area in which that research takes place.

Mark your calendar and join Harriet for the class on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Backing Up Online Data

In a recent edition of his online newsletter, Dick Eastman addressed the subject of backing up data that is kept online. We are all familiar with the possibility of something happening to our personal computers, and that causes us to take steps to regularly back up our data on USB drives, CDs, etc. But the article goes on to ask a very good question: what about the data that we keep online such as e-mail messages?

There is a backup service called "Backupify" that Dick suggests as a solution to this problem. It is a free service provided you backup files less than a total of 2 GB in size. More than that will cost you something like $40 a year.

The concept is interesting, and it may solve a problem that at some level you have been concerned about but did not know how to address. You can read Dick's article at:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Irish Research Tips

Julie Miller, a columnist for the "broomfieldenterprise" online, has written an informative article dealing with tips for tracing Irish roots.

She covers such topics as vital records, church records, census records, and land valuation records. Julie does not go into a lot of detail here, but if you're just starting your Irish research, this may be the overview you need to get started.

You can read Julie's article at:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Irish Deeds Research

Deborah Fox writes an interesting blog about Irish research (it also has an interesting title: "The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors").

Earlier this month Deborah wrote about her experiences in researching Irish Deeds. I personally don't have any Irish ancestors, but those of you who do may find this blog worth checking out. As with any personal research that I read about however; I found insights to research techniques applicable for any field.

In this particular post on Irish deeds, Deborah provides some links that may help you in your Irish research. Check out the blog at:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Roots Television Will Continue

In an earlier post I lamented the coming end of Roots Television, that wonderful site run by Megan Smolenyak that is essentially a YouTube for genealogists. Megan thought she was going to have to close the site because of expenses.

Earlier this month she announced that the site would continue, and the addition of advertising would help defray costs. She decided to do this after surveying many of her viewers to see if they would accept the inconvenience of ads if it meant continuing with the site. The overwhelming response was "yes."

This is good news for us all. If you're not a regular viewer of Roots Television, you should check it out ( The videos are entertaining as well as instructional, and Megan is a top-flight genealogist.

You can read a detailed message from Megan on the subject on Dick Eastman's online newsletter at:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Progress in "Record Search Pilot"

I hope you are as excited as I am about the records search pilot indexing effort being conducted by family search. Every week they make progress in adding more records to the project, and if you wish, you can follow their progress on the family search website (family

In a column on his online genealogy newsletter, Dick Eastman did a nice summary of recent progress made in this project. The list is helpful because it not only tells us what indexes have been recently added, but for current projects it also tells the percentage of completion.

You can check it out index newsletter at:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Where to Write for Vital Records

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides us with a website filled with easily accessible information about where to write in the various states for vital records.

If you follow the link below, you'll be presented with a page listing in alphabetical order the states as well as some cities and other areas. When you click on an entry you will be presented with a page giving you information about birth, death, marriage, and divorce records for that location. The information includes the cost of a copy, the address to which to write, as well as information about what time periods the archive covers.

Check it out at:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tips For Using The Census

Recently in the online edition of the Green Valley and Sun News, there was an article about the problems genealogists encounter when using the census for research. The article is simply a long page of bulleted items, but it is a good review of some of the challenges we face when using the census record. It may hit on a couple things that you didn't know about, or had at least forgotten about.

You can check it out at: