Thursday, May 7, 2009

When will be unveiled?

One of the most anticipated genealogy web site events this year is the unveiling of I summarized what I knew, and linked to Tamura Jones's article and GenSeek screen views, in my posts A Sneak Peek at in February and Lifting the Skirt on back in March.

In an interview with Lisa Louise Cooke in March, Steve Nickle said that the site would be released to the public in two months, perhaps late May.

Now I wonder if that wasn't a little bit of misdirection - the National Genealogical Society conference is in Raleigh starting next week. Might announce the unveiling of Genseek then, or perhaps they will lift the skirts on it a bit more, but not release it yet, in order to tantalize the avid genealogy web crawlers in the audience?

I Googled and got this Powerpoint presentation by Brett S(tubbs?) titled GenSeek API. I could not find a date for the presentation. It also says Genseek will be available in "a couple of months."

Take a little time to go through the presentation, and notice the stated purpose of GenSeek and how searches can be conducted for genealogy resources. I think that this will be a big winner in the genealogy world. I can hardly wait!

Genealogy Society Newsletters

We had a challenging discussion yesterday at our Chula Vista Genealogical society board meeting. The question was: Should we offer the current society newsletter for free on the CVGS web site?

At present, we send a password via email to our members and they then use the password to read the newsletter in a PDF format, or download and save it, or print it out. About 25% of our membership does not have an email address, so we print and mail the newsletter to them each month. The CVGS web site has only the current issue password protected - the previous eleven issues are available to read, for free, by anyone browsing through the site - see the Newsletter page here.

The stated purpose of the password was "so that people could not read current information on our newsletter without paying for it." The concern is that people in the Chula Vista area will read the current newsletter online and will not join the society. What other arguments are there for "hiding" the current newsletter, or all editions of it, from online readers?

The society has offered a $10 per year "newsletter only" option for those in distant places who want to support the society and stay current on the society activities. No one has subscribed in this way for several years. When the newsletter was available in a print version only, this was certainly necessary to cover the printing and mailing costs.

The discussion in favor of putting the current newsletter on the web site without a password included:

* The purpose of the genealogical society is to offer programs and services that enhance genealogical knowledge and member participation.

* Persons join the society for the programs and services, not just to read the newsletter.

* Putting the current newsletter on the web site will promote the current programs of the society.

* Almost all of the information in the newsletter is news of "what's coming" or "what happened," plus some articles written by members or reprinted by permission from online sources or other society newsletters.

* Much of what is in the current newsletter is already available at the CVGS web site and blog - the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe.

* Presently, people interested in the society activities can wait one month and read all about them in the previous month newsletters.

* Presently, visitors to the Chula Vista Civic Center Library can pick up a free copy of the current newsletter in the Family History section of thel ibrary.

* Making the current newsletter accessible to readers would reduce the workload of the webmaster.

The CVGS Board decided to put it to the test - we agreed to put the current newsletter online for the rest of 2009 and then evaluate the decision, based on the membership renewals, at the end of the year.

As the current newsletter editor, I favor this approach. I don't think that we have anything in our newsletter that should be hidden from the genealogy world, and I don't think that people are reading the newsletter in lieu of attending the society activities.

How have other genealogy societies handled this? I know some have their current newsletter online, and some do not. Some email a PDF version to their members with email addresses, but still mail printed copies to all members. Some societies have opted for email distribution only. Some societies just print and mail their newsletters or other publications.

The collection of CVGS newsletters since January 2008 is now online for reading and browsing at

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society would like to exchange newsletters, via a PDF attachment to an email, with other genealogical societies. If your society would like to do this, please email me at

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One "New Search" "Quirk" is fixed

I posted last Thursday about the "quirk" I discovered while trying to put my 101 presentation together, and then posted Tony Macklin's comments on Friday about how the "quirk", er, mistake, happened in the Search development process.

Anne Mitchell, who is in charge of the Search team at, posted a comment on my first post today saying that the fix has been implemented and I can find all of the search results in "New Search" that I had found in "Old Search." I'm happy to report that "New Search" found the same six matches as "Old Search" did for my test case of Isa* Sea* born in 1823 +/- 2 years in Massachusetts. Good. Thank you, Anne.

Anne posted a note "Latest on Lifespan Filtering" on the Blog yesterday about this feature. Read it for more information. In comment #47 to that post, Anne said:

"I’d say in order, the requests have been fix dates, places, and names. We’ve just launched the date filtering which should help there a lot. We are now working on places…also not a trivial thing to implement and this one will require UI changes as well. And then we will work on names."

So there are more changes to the "New Search" user interface coming in the near future. I can hardly wait! And will test them to see if "New Search" matches "Old Search." [What do you want to bet that a comparison with "Old Search" is now one of the QA tests?]

My attitude toward the search features are that they are the best, generally speaking, in the genealogy industry. I don't think any other site has as many options, or works so hard at developing them, as They make mistakes when implementing them occasionally, as they did in this case. But, in general, they are top notch. is, rightly or wrongly, the company that more people love to hate because of past experiences, the cost, or the fact that they are a for-profit company. By being communicative, by being responsive and by being user-friendly they will gradually overcome some of the built-up ill-will brought on by previous management teams.

I find that almost all of my problems with finding people in the databases lies with the Indexing of the databases, not with the Search engine. That's why I was perplexed last week when this problem raised its head.

SDGS Meeting on Saturday, 5/9 - Susan Pentico on "Lost Colony of Virginia"

The Monthly Meeting of the San Diego Genealogical Society will be Saturday, May 9th, at 12 noon at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church (8350 Lake Murray Blvd in San Diego, just south of Jackson Drive).

The program presentation will be ‘The Lost Colony of Virginia’ with Susan Pentico. The program summary is:

The Lost Colony is about Roanoke Island in Virginia in the late 1500’s when England and Spain were arguing over the ownership of America. It involves a specific group of people that were supposed to have landed elsewhere and what happened to them after their arrival at Roanoke Island.

The scientific community has taken a great interest in this group of people because it appears that the survivors were taken in by local Indians and their lineage is still waiting to be discovered.

If you have VA, NC, SC, etc. ancestry, this talk may help explain why their history has been so elusive. Handouts on The Lost Colony Genealogy and their DNA Research Group will be most informative as will a list of subject surnames. Find out how DNA research may be the missing link to finding your possible ancestors.

The speaker's CV:

Susan Pentico has been actively pursuing historical and medical genealogy since a young child in 1960, prompted by a family medical condition. She has been involved with numerous genealogical groups over the years including board positions with the Chula Vista Genealogical Society, host of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Golden Gate Forum and currently the Genealogy Look-Up Forum
at Rootsweb. She is also a member of the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego, the New England Genealogical and Historical Society, Ohio Genealogy Society, Genealogical Society of Southwest Pennsylvania, Cornerstone
Genealogy Society of Greene Co. PA and SDGS.

In addition to giving talks on medical genealogy, census searches, brick walls and photography, she also teaches classes twice a month at the Lemon Grove Library. A native of Wyoming, Susan moved to California at an early age. Married to a Iowa farm boy and retired sailor, she is the mother of five with ten grandchildren.

I hope to see many of you at the SDGS meeting this Saturday!

Family Photographs - Post 54: Watermelon feed in 1916

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless Wednesday posts like others do - I simply am incapable of having a wordless post.

This photograph is from my grandfather's photo album that I scanned during Scanfest in January:

The information on the back of this picture is that it is taken in Alpine (CA) in 1916. Nothing else, including the identity of the people in the photograph.

The only people that I can positively identify are Della (Smith) Carringer, my great-grandmother, in the white dress in back of the small table holding the watermelon slices, and my grandfather, Lyle Carringer, directly in back of Della. Abigail (Vaux) Smith, Della's mother, may be the lady two persons to the left of Della with the hat and apparent veil (mosquito net?), but I cannot tell for sure. Austin Carringer is not in this picture, so he may have taken the picture.

Look how intent some of these people are addressing their watermelon slice. The little boy to the right of the table is almost done with his.

The Carringer family had a wide circle of friends, so a look at the 1920 census may reveal some people in Alpine that they knew (checking with identified people in this photo collection and Della's 1929 Journal). Or they may have gone to Alpine just for a picnic. The men are all dressed in shirts and ties and the women in long dresses. I guess this was typical of the times.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Top Genealogy Web Sites - from my readers

Last weekend, the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun topic was "What are your Top Ten Genealogy Websites?" Almost 20 readers provided their list, including:

* Terri O'Connell on the Finding Our Ancestors blog.

* Jordan Jones on the Genealogy Media blog.

* Greta Koehl on Greta's Genealogy Bog.

* Gena Ortega on Gena's Genealogy Blog

* Valerie C. on Begin With 'Craft' blog.

* Unknown blogger on Relative Musings blog.

* Lisa Rex on Rootsfinder Family History blog.

* Schelly Talalay Dardashti on the Tracing the Tribe blog.

* TorillJ on the Ord fra DIS-Norges leder blog.

* Earline Bradt on the Ancestral Notes blog.

* Elyse Doerflinger on Elyse's Genealogy Blog.

* Leah on The Internet Genealogist blog.

* Bill West on the West in New England blog.

* John Newmark on the TransylvanianDutch blog.

* Vidar Overlie on the Vidars slektsblogg blog.

* Laila Christiansen on the Slekt og Slikt! blog.

* Randy Seaver on the Genea-Musings blog.

* Professor Dru on the Find Your Folks blog.

* Connie M via email.

Did I miss someone? If so, please let me know as a comment here with a link to your blog.

My first thought was to assign points to each site on each list - 10 for a #1, 9 for a #2, down to a 1 for a #10. But several people didn't want to list them in order. So I'm going to list the favorites by the number of times they made someone's list:

1. - on 16 lists
2. - on 14 lists
3. - on 12 lists
4. - on 10 lists
5. - on 7 lists

5. - on 6 lists
7. - on 5 lists
7. - on 5 lists
7. - on 5 lists
10. - on 4 lists

10. - on 4 lists
10. - on 4 lists
13. - on 3 lists
13. - on 3 lists
13. on 3 lists

13. - on 3 lists
13. - 3 lists
18. - 2 lists
18. - 2 lists
18. - 2 lists
18. - 2 lists
18. - 2 lists

The list is tilted a little toward Norway, since three Norwegian bloggers participated in this SNGF, which I appreciate! Since we had only one Canadian participate, the Canada-specific links didn't make the list. I imagine that the next time I do this that there will be a rush of Canadian, English, Norwegian, and Australian bloggers participating!

Thank you to all who participated in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - it wouldn't be any fun without you!

So is this list any better than the one in the previous post? Are there any surprises in this list - either included or not included?

UPDATED: 5/6 8 a.m. - corrected Leah's link and added some commentary.

UPDATED 5/7 9 p.m. - added Dru's link and numbers

100 Genealogy Resources to Discover Your Ancestry

Several genealogy bloggers thought that the article 100 Genealogy Resources to Discover Your Ancestry by Suzane Smith on the Phlebotomy Technician Schools web site was really great, and was a keeper to be passed to novice and experienced genealogists for reference purposes. The stated purpose of the list was to:

"Research and discover your ancestry with these 100 tools to get you started building a family tree. Trace back as far as you can find and share your results with friends and family. Many of the forums in this list will also garner you a few new friends in the genealogy spectrum. Tracing your roots will give you insight into your family’s past and give you an edge in your own forensic education endeavors."

Usually when there is a list of 100 items, they are either put in some order of most important to less important, or are grouped together (such as databases, family trees, DNA sites, archives, etc.). This list does neither.

An unsuspecting genealogist might start with #1 on the list - Genetree: You belong here. The next two on the list are Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and mitosearch, both DNA related sites. But where is the biggest DNA site,, or the site (the Y-DNA site comparable to the mitochondrial DNA site)?

The genealogy database providers on the list are #8 FamilySearch, #9, #10, #14 HeritageQuestOnline, #17 GenealogyBank, #18, #22 and more.

While this list has some of the most useful genealogy web sites on it, I think that a better list is on Family Tree Magazine's 101 Best Web Sites. There may be a new list out soon - we'll see!

I guess I'll go compile the Top 10 lists that my readers wrote about over the weekend. Let's see how they compare!

Unindexed Databases at Redux

I pointed out in my post Unindexed Databases on that some databases at are not indexed by names in the databases - the user does not receive a search result if they are searching by name. In order to find the records, the user has to "browse" the database. Usually, these unindexed databases are in alphabetical order, or by locality, so the task is not totally random.

Genea-Musings reader and genealogue Chris (Dunham) commented that:

"Doing a Google site search for the phrase "no search function for names" brings up a few more databases."

That was a great idea. Here are the results from that search:

* War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, 1812-1815

* Hamburg Passenger Lists, Handwritten Indexes, 1855-1934

* U.S. Circuit Court Criminal Case Files, 1790-1871

* New Orleans, Louisiana, Slave Manifests, 1807-1860 (World Archives ...

* Sweden, Kugelberg Newspaper Clips, 1888-1904

* U.S. Freedmen's Marriage Records, 1861-1869

* U.S. Revolutionary War Miscellaneous Records (Manuscript File ...

* World War II Japanese-American Internment Camp Documents, 1942 ...

* Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 ...

* Returns from Regular Army Regiments, 1821-1916 -

* U.S. Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension ...

* Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800-1916 -

* Missouri Still Birth & Miscellaneous Records, 1805-2002 -

* Selected U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (World ...

* New Orleans, Louisiana, Slave Manifests, 1807-1860 (World Archives ...

There appear to be some databases that are indexed by only the last name. One set of examples is the Massachusetts Town Vital Records Before 1850 books (the so-called "tan books"). Some of these books are indexed only by the surname, not by the given names, parents names, etc. You can find many of these books by using keywords "vital" and "Massachusetts" in the Ancestry Card Catalog search box. My search link is here. I noticed that, even though all of the town Vital Records books contain births, marriages and deaths, many of them are not included in the Birth, Marriage and Death collection but are listed in the Stories, Memories and Histories collection. Some of the town BMD books are indexed with given names also. Ancestry should really fix this cataloguing error - these all belong in the Birth, Marriage & Death collection.

Genea-Musings reader Geolover commented that the US Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records database is arranged by State and Regiment (sometimes misnamed) and other items under 'Miscellaneous'. This database is name-indexed at That is very useful information - thanks!

The lessons learned here, for me, are that:

* the indexing and cataloguing systems are imperfect -- they are not consistent nor complete.

* The user has to consult the Card Catalog to determine if Ancestry has databases of specific interest, whether for a locality or record type.

I think that "Caveat Genealogicus!" is going to be the name of my next blog! It certainly applies here!

UPDATED 10 a.m.: Lorine commented that some of these unindexed databases are in the World Archives Project (WAP) and will have indexes in the future. which has a list of databases currently being indexed. Thanks for the great comment, Lorine!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Footnote Pages on Facebook - Great idea!

I received this via email today --

"Have you ever thought, "How can I get my family more interested and involved in our family history?" To see how Footnote is using Facebook to bring family and friends together to remember those that meant the most, click here.

"Creating an I Remember page is easy, fun and free. Start now."

I did this and easily connected the Footnote Pages (previously created) to my Facebook Home page and Wall. Here is the Facebook page that appears when you click on the I Remember link:

I already had Footnote Pages on for my parents and grandparents. I easily linked to them and created these Facebook Pages for my parents. Here's my father's page:

And my mother's page:

Now I can invite some of my Facebook "Friends" to view and add to these pages. I think that I can invite my friends and family members not on Facebook also - I'm testing this out now.

Doing this creates a Facebook page for each person "I Remember" - so for deceased family members it is "Facebook for Dead Relatives." Whatever is uploaded to for the Footnote Pages is accessible on the Facebook Wall, Info and Photos pages for the remembered person.

I was able to create an "I Remember" page on Facebook for my aunt, Geraldine (Seaver) Remley. I wonder if it will appear on We'll see!

This appears to be a win-win for everybody involved - Facebook may get more subscribers, Footnote may get more subscribers (but Footnote Pages are Free to create and access), and genealogists may be able to connect with family members more easily on both Footnote and Facebook. Family members, family friends and genealogists can add stories and photographs to the Facebook pages too.

Although not a classical "wiki," the Footnote Pages are one form of a wiki, and the Facebook Pages are the same form of a wiki. It's now possible that each person in our family history can have a Footnote Page and a Facebook Page. It just takes al ot of work to create them one at a time. But the potential for family connections is tremendous, I think.

Now all we need is a GEDCOM upload to both and Facebook for our family tree databases - and have them find a way to automatically create thousands of Facebook and Footnote Pages about our family members.

Unindexed Databases on

I had an email last week concerning my post What Should I Say About from reader Debbie Duay, and she told me that:

"I think it is important to tell people that has many databases that cannot be searched using the global search box. One of my favorite examples is the War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index."

She gave me the link to the War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index database. Thank you, Debbie!

Naturally, I had to try this one out, and made some screen shots in the process so I could share them with you.

How can I find this database if I can't use the Search function? Ah - the Card Catalog! The Card Catalog permits the user to find a database using a search box, and I did that. But I also wondered how I could find databases that are not indexed - and figured that they would have very few entries in the list of databases. So I clicked on the "Military" collection link on the left side of the Card Catalog, and the list of 330 databases appeared:

I scrolled to the bottom of the first page of 100 databases, and clicked on the "4" at the bottom of the page - next to "Next" - so as to get to the last (and 4th) page of databases:

There it is - the second from the bottom - the War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, 1812-1815 . My strategy worked, eh? I clicked on the link:

This database is not indexed, but the records are alphabetical. There are 102 files listed, each with about 800 to 1100 pages in them. I decided to look for my Lanfear mystery persons - so I chose the Lane-Led file. The first page has the header for the NARA microfilm:

How can I find information for a specific surname? Ah, I can change the "Image number" just above the image itself - the image above was number 1 of 873. I can click inside that box and input a page number. I chose 100 and got "Stephen Lane." Number 150 was "Abraham Langle," Number 130 was "David Langdon," number 120 was "John Lang," and number 110 was "Charles Laney." Gee, this is just like the "guess the number" game, eh? From there I just used the "Next" arrow to find #113 - Isaac Lanfear:

From my previous work, I knew that this is the "Isaac Lanfear" of Lorraine, Jefferson County, New York because it gives his wife's name, Rosannah! Cool.

Now I need to look for other Lanf*, Lanph*, Lamf*, and Lamph* to see if there are others here that I need to look for. Obtaining the actual Pension File is another exercise, of course!

The bigger questions are:

* "How many databases are there on that don't have are not indexed and therefore are not found in a name Search?"

* "Does have a list of these non-indexed databases?"

"If not, why not?"

Surely, wants subscribers to use these databases that they have taken the time, cost and effort to bring to us. But if they are hidden from us (unless a user goes through over 28,000 databases one by one - which is really not an option!), then they are essentially useless. So, to, a love letter:

"Dear, please provide a visible link to a list of Unindexed Databases so that we can be aware of them and use them effectively. Devotedly - Randy."

Thank you, Debbie, for the great link and the comments!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Best of the Genea-Blogs - April 26-May 2, 2009

Several hundred genealogy and family history bloggers write thousands of posts every week about their research, their families, and their interests. I appreciate each one of them and their efforts.

My criteria for "Best of ..." are pretty simple - I pick posts that advance knowledge about genealogy and family history, address current genealogy issues, provide personal family history, are funny or are poignant. I don't list posts destined for the genealogy carnivals, or other meme submissions (but I do include summaries of them), or my own posts.

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week:

* Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820 by the author of The Ancestry Insider blog. While this post explicitly talks about the databases with this title on, it points up a major issue with the way creates and uses titles. A twofer here!

* Converting My Personal Library to Digital by Dick Eastman on the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog. Dick shares how he is doing this task and the pain he endures while doing it. I can relate! Read the comments too.

* Memory Monday: Running Away by Greta Koehl on the Greta's Genealogy Bog blog. Greta remembers her childhood, and tells us about her adventures. Great stories.

* Secrets, Pt. 6: The Rest of the Story... by Caroline Pointer on the Family Stories blog. This series of posts has been fascinating to me - I love "watching" how people have sorted out mysteries and brickwall problems. Of course, Caroline hasn't found "everything" yet.

* Better Online Citations - Details Part 1 and Better Online Citations - Details Part 2 (GEDCOM) by Mark Tucker on the ThinkGenealogy blog. Mark continues analyzing how to efficiently put better source citations into our genealogy software.

* Top Ten Things You Don't Know About the 2010 Census by Chris Dunham on The Genealogue blog. Chris's irrepressible humor can be applied to almost anything - read this and laugh. If you want, spend more time on his collection of Top 10 items here.

* What if it's a roomful? by DearMYRTLE on the Internet-Genealogy Blog. Pat has thoughts about how to organize and source the 47 boxes of a family history collection -- not quite Eastman's solution but useful I think.

* Black Sheep Canadian Ancestors Submissions by Lorine Schulze on the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. There are eight fascinating entries to this Canadian blog carnival - read about Black Sheep ancestors!

* Clarence & May (and Leonard) ... continued and May & Leonard.. the story continues by Cindy on the Everything's Relative - Researching Your Family History blog. This is another serial story about relatives that are really hard to track down, but Cindy is working hard on it.

* Tech Tuesday: Tips for Travel and More on Lojack for Laptops and Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 1: Preparing to Research by Denise on The Family Curator blog. The first post is really important for everyone that carries a laptop, and the second post describes Denise's research experiences at NEHGS. A twofer here too!

* I Have No Answers - Only Questions and Thoughts, A Clarification and The Citation Goddess - Elizabeth Shown Mills - Weighs In by the author of the footnoteMaven blog. These posts all concern Mark Tucker's posts about Better Source citations. Since footnoteMaven is an expert on this issue, I appreciate her comments, and love her parody of the Beach Boys song Good Citations. I've
been singing it all week!

* ENGINEER'S Report - Tech Info by John G. West on the Tri-State Genealogical Society of Evansville, Indiana "TSGS Cruiser" blog. John links to an article about keeping your computer clean on the outside.

* Why I like Facebook by DearMYRTLE on the DearMYRTLE Genealogy Blog. MYRT sees a grandson's photo on Facebook and has a sentimental time thinking down memory lane. Is Facebook how we get the kids and grandkids interested in what we do?

* Making a Genealogy Time Capsule and Making a Genealogy Time Capsule Part 2 by Lorine Schulze on the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. Lorine and her husband are having fun putting a time capsule together - see why and how they're doing it!

* Los Angeles County Record Request Requirements–Just Quirky? Or Unconstitutional? by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. Craig encountered an interesting form and questions the constitutionality of it. Great analysis of something we all may face in the future.

* Carnival of Genealogy, 71st Edition by Donna Pointkouski on the What's Past Is Prologue blog. Donna was the hostess for this carnival with the theme of "Local History." 25 genealogy bloggers submitted articles.

I encourage you to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blog to your Favorites, Bloglines, reader, feed or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also - all bloggers appreciate feedback on what they write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me!

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Top 10 Genealogy Sites

It's Saturday Night and time to share some Genealogy Fun around the genea-blogosphere.

One of the fads on Facebook is Top 5 lists - 5 favorite Disney characters, 5 things I can grab where I'm sitting, 5 jobs I've had, etc.

Let's do a Top Ten list of Favorite Genealogy Web Sites. These can be record databases, data portals, how-to sites, family trees, software, entertainment, blogs, etc. Your choice, your opinion - what educates, helps, or entertains you in your genealogy quest for a big GEDCOM file?

Here are mine (in approximate order):

1. - record databases, family trees, learning center, DNA
2. - unique Archives content, Footnote pages
3. - IGI, AF, Record Search, FHLC catalog
4. - state and county web pages, projects, archives
5. - databases, WorldConnect database, boards, lists, free web pages

6. - databases, publications, education
7. - organized links!!! to everything genealogy
8. - news and commentary blog and forum
9. - genealogy videos - love them!
10. - family tree wiki - I wish more sites did this!

I could easily do a Top 50 I think, but I won't.

Tell us yours - either post your list in comments on this post or on your own blog.

If we get enough participation, I will catalog the results in a blog post.

I may do this one every six months or so just to see how the list changes.

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 17: Creating Lists - Part 6

Previous posts in this series are listed in Working in RootsMagic 4 - Summary of Posts.

In this post, I'm going to finish my look at the Lists that can be created using the Reports > Lists menu. In the "Family" View with my grandfather, Frederick Seaver, highlighted, I clicked on the "Report" menu item and clicked the "Lists" option. The Lists menu opened and I maximized it so that I could see all of the icons. I chose "All Reports" from the left hand column and the 33 list options showed (in icon format). The last six (28 to 33) are (I'm going to show only the reports, not the steps to create them from now on):

28) Statistics List - a list of statistics for a group of people. The only choice in the "Report Settings" for this item is to select either "Everyone" or "Select from list" for the report. I selected "Everyone" and got:

The list tells me how many people, males, females and unknown gender I have total, with a marriage event and a death date. The second group provides some averages for marriages and children.

29) Surnames Statistics List - Statistics on the surnames in the database. The user can select to Sort the list by alphebetical surname, surname frequency, frequency of males and females by surname, earliest occurrence of a surname and most recent occurrence of the surname. I chose "Surname Frequency" and got this report:

The report above shows that the [no name] surname is the most common in my database - I have 1238 entries in my 23,000 person database with no surname. The most common surname in my database is RANDOLPH (498 entries). My SEAVER surname has only 86 entries (of course, I have another database for this!).

30. Timeline Chart -- a wall chart with bars representing the lifespan of people. This was covered in Post 9.

31. Timeline List -- a chronological list of events for a person or group of people. The "Report Settings" menu is shown below.

I decided to get the list for my grandfather, Frederick W. Seaver: The report below doesn't show the person's name, and it should:

32) To-Do List -- A list of the to-do items in the database. The view below shows the "Report Settings" menu for this item:

I don't have any To-Do items in my database at present. The program probably shows a text list of the To-Do items.

33. Wall Chart - A large chart which can contain ancestors, descendants or both for a person. I described this in Post 8.

That completes the description of the 33 reports and charts included in the Report > Lists menu.

Next on the Reports menu is the Individual's Report.

Friday, May 1, 2009 Response to Census Quirk Problem

I've exchanged several emails today with Tony Macklin from who confirmed that my post yesterday, titled Quirk - Different Results for Old Search and New Search is a real problem for Ancestry's New Search option.

Tony said I could pass this information on:

"It turns out that you’ve uncovered a very specific bug in the code for lifespan filter (that we launched on Weds) that had managed to slip by our QA process.

"What is happening with your search is that on new search, lifespan filter SHOULD be looking for records where birth date could be anywhere from 1821 to 1825. However, because of the bug, it is ACTUALLY only returning results where the person was born BEFORE 1821 and lived until AFTER 1825. Unfortunately, this only impacts new search as this code only appears in the new search UI. Once we correct this, you should see the results returning exactly as you expected.

"We are correcting this as a matter of priority, and will push it live to the site as soon as we can within the next week. I’ll let you know as soon as I have an exact date."

And then later, he explained it a bit more:

"The original search results you had were:

........................... Name ............ Birth ... Possible lifespan
1850 census Issac Seaber 1824 1824-1924
1860 census Issac Seabury 1821 1821-1921
1860 census Issac Seaver 1824 1824-1924
1870 census Issac Seaver 1824 1824-1924
1880 census Issac Seaver 1824 1824-1924
1900 census Issac Seaver 1823 1823-1923

"The search should be asking for records where the person could have been born from 1821 onwards –

"Instead it is incorrectly asking for records for people that could have been alive in 1823 – so only two of these are returned.

"We are working on this right now, and are aiming to have the fix live within a matter of days."

I really appreciate Tony taking the time to provide a clear reason why this "quirk" happened. As a former FORTRAN programmer, I can clearly see how this happened - someone coded it wrong and the QA process didn't catch it.

This came up when they rolled out the improvement on Wednesday that limits search results to a range of 107 years if the user puts in only a birth or death year. That complicated the coding and a mistake was made so that only persons alive in the year specified were included in the search results. Tony's explanation clearly demonstrates how this happened in my case.

Clearly, this problem occurs in more than the census searches. The message for the next few days is clear - use the "Old Search" which handles the birth year range correctly. If you've done searches in Ancestry's "New Search" in the past three days, and gotten no matches, you should go back and use "Old Search."

If you are "stuck" in "New Search," you can access "Old Search" at

In "Old Search," I use the Advanced Search box to input information and choose which items I want to make "Exact."

Correcting Records on

Many subscribers complain about the indexing errors that occur in the databases, but how many of us do something about it? Fortunately, permits users to add a correction when a name is not transcribed accurately, is hard to read, has a maiden name, has a name change, etc.

I did this today when I could not find Ranslow Smith (1805-1875) in any US census from 1850 to 1870. The reason was simple - he is "Rauslow" in 1850 in Dodge County WI, he is "Rauslon" in 1860 in Dodge County WI, and "Ronsle" in 1870 in Taylor County, IA. If he had lived longer, I'm sure the name would be wrong in the 1880 and 1900 census records too!

Here is what I did today for the 1860 US Census entry. Here is the search result for Ranslow Smith:

In the left column is a link for "Comments and Corrections." I clicked on it:

The page above permits the user to correct Misspelled or alternate Names, Add a Comment, or Report an Image Problem. I clicked on "Misspelled or Alternate Names:"

On the page above, I added the correct Given Name and Surname, then clicked on "Transcription Error" from the dropdown menu of choices (the other choices were Incorrect Original, Nickname, Birth/Maiden Name, Name Change and Variation).

I wrote a short note in the Description box explaining why I think the name should be Ranslow and not Rauslon:

Finished, I clicked on the orange "Submit Correction" button and received this message:

It says that the correction will be added to the Search Index in a few weeks, and the little yellow triangle indicator thingamajig should show up on the result page shortly. Note that this will add the name "Ranslow Smith" to the Search Index and will not replace the "Rauslon Smith" name in the Search Index.

I did all of this in the "Old Search" because of the "New Search" problem I highlighted yesterday in Quirk - Different Results for Old Search and New Search.

I noticed one more error on the Search Results page. It says I searched for "Smith born in New York in 1803 and died in Wisconsin." I did not put a death place in the Search box. I put "USA" and "Wisconsin" in the Residence box for the 1860 census. This process error needs to be fixed too. I don't know if the Search is affected by it - probably not from my experience.