Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Create a Bumper Sticker

It's Saturday Night - time for more Genealogy Fun! Let's play... bumper stickers!

I posted "An Obsession of Genealogists" + GENLOGY earlier this week about John D. Reid's post about a collective adjective for genealogists (e.g., "an obsession of genealogists") and Mark Tucker's posts about genealogy license plates (e.g., "GENLOGY").

For this Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, please:

1) Make up a/some Bumper Sticker(s) that describes your genealogy addicti.., er, passion in 12 words or less. You could recite some of your favorite tag lines like those found here or here. Or you could be very creative and make up your own!

2) Post them to your blog or to comments on this post.

3) Extra credit if you make them look like a real bumper sticker!

Here are some of mine (trying hard to be creative!):

* Growing Family Trees is Fun!

* Preserving Family History one Grandchild at a Time.

* Find any Nuts in your Family Tree?

* Barack Obama is my Cousin. Really!

* Rocks!

* Genealogists Love Roots Magic

* I'll Show You My Ahnentafel if You'll Show Me Yours!

* Y-DNA = R, mtDNA = K. I'm human.

OK - I've shown you mine, now please show me yours!

First Look at - Post 1

I've been watching the web site (part of the company) add content gradually over the past few months, and now they are broadcasting some of their information to the world on Twitter and Facebook, so I thought that I would post some screen views of the web site.

The "About Us" page says in part):

"What is History? Sounds like a silly question. Think about it. History is comprised of events, people, places, and the sources that tell us the story. Each and every event in history involved a place or multiple places, impacted people directly and indirectly, and took place in a certain moment in time. There are a lot of dots to connect, and we connect those dots. More importantly, we connect you to those dots, we connect you to history."


"...The battle of Gettysburg took place at a certain place and time. We know the famous names associated with the event, but what has often been ignored in history are all the people who made the event possible. We know about General Pickett's charge, but without the confederate soldiers who gave their lives for that charge, what would it be? Should the foot soldier be remembered like the generals? We think so. They are part of the story. Without their story, and unless we connect those dots, it is an incomplete book. WorldHistory allows you to connect people to people, people to events, and your ancestors to events."

From the start, this web site has sounded very ambitious to me, and it will be a very useful site when it has matured. Here is the current home page:

There are eight links to other pages across the top (below the logo and search box). There are three feature boxes near the bottom of the page - to obtain a Timeline of world history for a specific year, to Explore your world using interactive maps, and to Upload your family tree and connect your ancestors to history. We'll look at those in a later post.

In the middle of the page are a timeline for a specific year which lists historical events around a given year (apparently fairly random each time you come to the home page) and an invitation to sign up for a free account on the web site. You have to sign up in order to upload your family tree data.

The first link across the top is to "Map," and when I clicked on it, this screen appeared:

It opened on San Diego where I live (the site must sense where I live, even though I'm not logged into the site), and had some names and places on the left margin and some stick-pins on the map. If you click on the stick-pin, you can see the event or person that it depicts.

The map is powered by Google Maps, and there is a timeline across the top of it. If you click on a year in the Timeline, you can see specific events and people that are depicted on the map. Of course, you can click on the event or person to see the details about them on the site.

Next, I clicked on the "People" link, and the "People in History" page opened:

The list of people shown are "famous people" for all of history, ranked apparently by the frequency of searches on the site. There is a cloud of People Tags on the right margin where you can select specific groups like Artists, African-Americans, Politicians, etc. Another alternative would be to click on a year in the Timeline and see people that lived in that year that are in the database.

There is a Search field above the Timeline, and the user can select from "Famous People" or "Ancestor Data." The "Ancestor Data" seems to be empty right now. The user can select to use or not use the Timeline.

The next link at the top of the page is "Events" which is shown below:

The "Events" page works similarly to the "People" page - the user can enter a term in the Search field or click on a year on the Timeline, and can select from the Event cloud on the right of the screen.

The fourth link at the top of the page goes to the "Artifact" page - and the setup is similar to the "Events" page - a Search field and a Timeline at the top and a list of "Artifact Options" on the right:

The "Timeline" link at the top leads to a page with user-defined Timelines, a Search box at the top and a list of categories on the left side of the screen:

The "Ancestors" link at the top of the page leads to a Sign Up page because I was not logged into the site. If you sign up, then you can upload your family tree database. The site will Geocode your place names so that they can be shown on the map:

We will explore the "Ancestors" link in later posts.

The seventh link at the top is to "Popular" Events or People. The Events are ranked for the current day and the current week:

The eighth link at the top of the page is to "More" which lists things that the World History people would like to add to their web site:

I have worked with this site for awhile now, trying all of the links and the bells and whistles. My impression is that it is very well thought out and navigation is intuitive and easy to learn. It works pretty fast on everything but the "Ancestors" page. My impression is that the "Ancestors" page is not yet fully functional. is probably not quite ready for prime time use yet, but it is getting to the point where everything works. I will write future posts when a family tree can be uploaded and exercised.

I think that has a winner here. I wonder when it will be available for everyone to upload a GEDCOM and work with it as a research tool?

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Puckerbrush Blog Awards of Excellence

Terry Thornton is one of my favorite genea-bloggers (Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi) because he is a wonderful writer and he appreciates the value of the genea-blogger community and encourages it. He has created The Janice Brown Puckerbrush Blog Award for Excellence to honor those bloggers that have influenced their writing the most and list them as a tribute to Janice. Please read his entire post about Janice, the name of the award, and his selections.

I was honored by Terry to be selected to receive one of his awards. Thank you, Terry. It's great to be appreciated and judged to be influential.

I have started posts several times to try to define my "Top Ten Favorite Genea-Blogs" and after the lists grew past 20, I gave up. This requirement - the top ten bloggers that influenced me the most" seems to be one I can probably handle. I am going to limit my list to genealogy and family history related blogs because that's what this blog is about.

Let's see what I can come up with. These are listed in no particular order - as Terry says "when you are number ten in as thick a patch as the puckerbrush, it is like telling a pretty girl which of the freckles on her is the prettiest." Hmmm, must be a Mississippi expression!

* The writer of The Ancestry Insider blog. Mr. AI provides a wonderful example of objective analysis about companies ( and that he is very familiar with.

* Kathryn M. Doyle's California Genealogical Society and Library blog. This is the best genealogical society blog because of the breadth of the content - photos, meeting summaries, stories, member reports, etc. I wish I could emulate it better on my local society blog.

* Jasia's Creative Gene blog. Jasia started the Carnival of Genealogy three years ago and the topics have provided numerous opportunities to write about family history of my ancestors and myself.

* Pat Richley's DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog. Pat has been writing about genealogy for a long time (but she's not very old!) and constantly finds new themes to write about, and does it well. Her breadth of genealogy knowledge is impressive and she shares it freely with her readers.

* Dick Eastman's Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog. Dick Eastman is the most successful genea-blogger in terms of news and commentary, and he's done it over a long period of time. The influence here was the realization that I could not compete with Dick on news and should concentrate on testing and analysis.

* Denise Olson's Family Matters blog. Denise is the genea-blogger that I read when I want to know about technology applications to genealogy. I would rather defer to her than write badly about something technological.

* Chris Dunham's The Genealogue blog. The funniest genea-blogger (still! always! I just wish he would post more creative funny stuff but I understand how hard it is!) to date - nobody else is even close. The influence here was for me to abandon trying to write original humor (I was so bad at it and got so frustrated) and concentrate on what I do well.

* Ken Aitken's Genealogy Education blog. Ken's blog was my absolute favorite in my first year of blogging, and he acted like a mentor to me and other striving genea-bloggers, which I really appreciated and enjoyed. Ken died in April 2007, but he definitely influenced me greatly. Please visit his blog and read some of his work.

* footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. This wonderful photograph-oriented blog has several great genea-ezines (new word!) and hosts the Smile for the Camera carnival. The detail discussion and analysis of photographs is a great model for me, and every blogger, to follow.

* Mark Tucker's ThinkGenealogy blog. Mark is an original thinker in applying technology to genealogy research and genealogy software, and his work has helped, and will continue to help, the genealogy industry.

There they are - my ten NOT in numerical order! I have many more "favorite" genealogy blogs on my reading list of 470 feeds on I appreciate the efforts of all writers to document their family stories and photographs, to pass useful genealogy and family history information and techniques to readers and researchers, and to comment on genealogy news and events.

Genealogy bloggers have influenced the genealogy industry in good ways - many companies have become much more communicative and responsive to blogger and reader comments. Blog readers have benefited from the genealogy information, research techniques and good examples imparted by genealogy bloggers.

Terry's challenge for ALL genea-bloggers was to:


"Henceforth these awards will be called the Janice Brown Puckerbrush Blog Award for Excellence. All blog authors are hereby challenged to name the ten blogs which have influenced their writing the most and list them as a tribute to Janice --- the Janice Brown Puckerbrush Blog Awards for Excellence."

Notice that the challenge is to ALL blog authors, not just those that have been named an award winner by another blogger. So - go for it!

One last thought - I really do hope that Janice Brown has taken only a break from her Cow Hampshire blog writing. Janice, if you are reading this, please let us know that you are enjoying your "blog writing hiatus."

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 20: Creating a Calendar

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

In this post, I'm going to create a "Calendar" - defined as a report that can include both birthdays and anniversaries. I have always wanted a calendar that shows the birthdays of my ancestors.

In the "Family" View with myself highlighted, I clicked on the "Report" menu item and clicked the "Calendar" option:

The "Report Settings" menu opened and I checked "Birthdays" only, unchecked "Use Married names for females," added a title, and the settings looked like this:

I clicked on the "People to include" and selected "Select from list" and then selected myself from the "Select People" and marked all of my ancestors:

I clicked "OK" and then selected direct ancestors and chose 12 generations from the "Ancestors Options" menu:

After clicking "OK," I was back to the "Report Settings" menu and clicked on the "Generate Report" button. A 12 page calendar (one for each month) opened up, and the month of January looks like:

I wondered if any of my ancestors have my birthday - 23 October. Here's the October page of the calendar:

Nope, no ancestor of mine shares my birthday.

As with other reports, the only improvements I would like to see are more formatting options for the report - colors, fonts, etc.

This post completes my survey of all of the charts and reports that can be created using RootsMagic 4. I hope to do some posts about Sources in the next week or so.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Are Twitter/Facebook interns for FamilyLink doing their job?

Most readers know that, and are all part of the company. Readers also know that the We're Related application on Facebook has millions of users already signed up and using the fmaily tree application.

Last month, Paul B. Allen, the CEO of advertised on Twitter for "Twitter interns" who would take jobs at and promote products.

From what I can tell, several of them are working hard at promoting products on Twitter and Facebook.

There are Twitter entities for users named genseek, worldhistory, and FamilyLink, and all of them are active commenting on genealogy-related activities.

The genseek entity seems to be very active on Twitter - here is a screen shot of their posts:

Genseek on Twitter has posted (as of right now) 86 updates, has 1,531 followers and is following 1,904 other twitterers. What is impressive is that genseek has gained so many followers so quickly, since their first tweet is dated April 27th - less than four weeks!

Note the top tweet above - it links to five surname posts somewhere - we'll find out where shortly!

On Facebook, there are Pages for Genealogy and Family History (with a home page of and World History (with a home page of Here are the Facebook pages for these three entities:

On these pages, the owners are highlighting web pages and blog posts that pertain to the interests of the Facebook pages. These Facebook entities were created in just the last month or so, and currently have 6,234 (Genseek), 4,019(Family History) and 589 (World History) fans on Facebook. These fan numbers are pretty impressive to me - they greatly exceed the number of fans of my Genea-Musings page (only 104 followers) and the number of Facebook Friends I have (441 at last count). Where did they all come from? The answer is, I think, probably "from the We're Related" application user base that is on Facebook.

From the above, it looks to me like FamilyLink has found a way to bring some of the millions of We're Related users into the genealogy community - a social network - on Facebook. By exposing these "We're Related" users to the genea-bloggers community on the Genealogy and Family History Facebook Pages, they are exposing them to the existing base of genealogy industry people and to the genea-blogger work product, which I really appreciate!

Now, what about the Twitter page shown above with links to Davis, Garcia, Miller, Rodriguez and Wilson? Well, the links go to Facebook, where the people created Pages for these surnames in hopes that Twitter readers and We're Related users will participate on these Pages. Yesterday, they created Pages for Smith, Jones, Brown, Williams and Johnson. Here is the Smith Family History page:

How is the above Smith Family History Page any different from a message board or a mailing list or a Smith Family web page? The main difference is the interactivity allowed on Facebook - any fan of the page can create a post, upload a story or a photograph, comment on someone else's post, etc. It's all in one place. It's a community - a social network - where people can share information about their surname and family.

Most importantly, the use of Twitter and Facebook appeals to persons who are not yet invested in, or perhaps even aware of, the more traditional genealogy world of repositories, books, periodicals, indexes, databases, static web pages, etc.. The future of genealogy is with younger people - those who are technology savvy and who can grow to be the genealogy researchers, bloggers, writers, software developers and business entrepreneurs of tomorrow, Many of them are enthusiastically using Twitter and Facebook now.

Using Twitter and Facebook to generate interest and enthusiasm for before it is officially launched is a wise business move by The challenge for is to make the reality of exceed the expectations of the potential Genseek user base.

It looks like someone at is doing their job - are they the "Twitter interns?" I hope so, and that they are fun jobs!

"An Obsession of Genealogists" + GENLOGY

I wish that I was a more creative person. I really struggle to create original work - whether musings, humor, art, etc. I'm not, I'm an engineer. I accept it, and go on with what I'm good at - taking other people's ideas and creations and using, analyzing or improving them. I really admire and appreciate those who are creative and entrepreneurial, especially genealogists.

There were several really creative posts by genealogists in recent days (of course, we all know that Chris Dunham is pretty much creative every day):

* John D. Reid on the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog had a post about a collective adjective for genealogists - e.g., "a gaggle of genealogists." His post has been removed for some reason after I commented on it (and therefore my lack of creativity is hidden!). However, I found links to several lists - see this thread from the RootsChat Forum from April 2009 and this thread from the GEN-BRIT-L mailing list from 2000. There are some good ones here!

* Mark Tucker on the ThinkGenealogy blog has posted some "genealogy oriented" license plates - see his post You Know you are Driving Behind a Genealogist when… and More Genealogy License Plates. I added several of my own. I urge you to add yours too!

These would have been great Saturday Night Genealogy Fun topics if I had thought of them! Mr. Engineer strikes out again. Oh well. Ah - newsletter fodder!!!

What are your favorite collective adjective for genealogists? Mine are "an obsession of genealogists" and "a forest of genealogists."

The Invitation to I Remember on Facebook

I wondered yesterday what the invitation to join Facebook and use the "I Remember" application on Footnote would look like - see Free Footnote Annual and/or Lifetime Subscriptions. I also wondered if it would work, since it didn't work two weeks ago when the "I Remember" pages were announced.

I submitted five email addresses to "I Remember" yesterday inviting my friends and family to view my "I Remember" pages. Here is a screen view of the invitation sent by email:

It used my email address and Facebook picture to request the email recipients to click on a link to a Facebook signup. When you click on the link at the bottom of the page, you get the Facebook signup page:

If you sign up for a Facebook account, the person who invited you is already your Facebook Friend. There is no explicit invite to check out the "I Remember" pages, which is what I expected to happen. The "I Remember" icon is shown down on the Applications row at the bottom of the screen. If you click on the "I Remember" icon you get the standard Facebook page with pictures in the "People Your Friends Remember" section.

New Facebook members can review the helpful information in the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers blog Facebook tag.

I have some questions about the Footnote offer:

* Do I have to invite five different persons to join Facebook and view the "I Remember" pages each day?
* Is it necessary to use a different "I Remember" page each day?

One of the commenters on the first post suggested that Footnote is a spammer and anyone who participates in this is a spammer too. I don't see it that way - if I found a product I really like and tell some of my friends about it via email, am I spammer, or just a friend trying to help others with similar interests? Some products provide free products or services for people that recruit members or subscriptions similar to this offer.

While Footnote is a commercial database provider, the Footnote Pages (and "I Remember" content) are free to anyone who wishes to use them. Sure, Footnote wants people to pay for their subscription, but they aren't forced to do so by using "I Remember" or Footnote Pages. The user does have to register on Footnote, just like they do on many other freely available genealogy web sites.

I note that Facebook's signup process invites the user to use his own address book to invite his correspondents to join Facebook. The Footnote/"I Remember" invitation process is similar.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Free Footnote Annual and/or Lifetime Subscriptions has announced here that they are offering one free Lifetime membership, and one free annual membership each day from 21 May to 31 May, to Footnote users. The directions and rules:

1) Create or find a Person on I Remember in Facebook.

2) Share the page with 5 friends interested in that person.

3) Annual All-access Memberships to will be awarded each day from May 21–31st. One Lifetime Membership awarded.

I have already added a number of pages to I Remember on Facebook, so this should be easy to do.

The last time I tried to share my I Remember pages with friends and family, the emails were not sent (according to my brothers and daughters) - did they just enable this capability? I hope so!

This is a really smart move by Footnote - they get more people to register on their web site and expand their exposure on Facebook. A win-win! We all like free!

Finding and Using the Ancestry Database Card Catalog

One of my readers wondered how she could find one specific database in the list of over 28,000 databases on Her problem was to find, say, the Sioux City Journal newspaper without scrolling through hundreds of pages in the All Databases list.

The key to resolving her problem is to find the Ancestry Database Card Catalog. From the Ancestry home page in Old Search, there appears to be no direct link. Once I found it, I put it in my Quick Link section in the top right area of my home page - see below: really should put a link to the Ancestry Database Card Catalog in a conspicuous place on the home page using Old Search - it can't be that hard to do! It is on the "Search" page at the top of the right sidebar - see

In New Search, there is a link to the Ancestry Database Card Catalog on the Ancestry Home Page - at the bottom of the list of database types on the left sidebar.

When I clicked on the Ancestry Database Card Catalog link (using Old Search), I got the first 100 items in the Card Catalog:

Okay, how do I search this? The answer is to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page - or use your "End" keyboard key - where there is a search box (in Old Search):

I put the words "sioux city" in the "Keyword" field of the Search box, and the results obtained were:

And there is the Sioux City Sunday Journal listed - the fifth item down the list.

In New Search, the "Keywords" field is right at the top of the database list on the first results page, so it was easy to input "sioux city" into the search box and get the same eight database listings.

Unfortunately for my reader, the only issue appears to be the 16 August 1964 edition.

Another way to find this particular newspaper, or any specific database, in Old Search is to click on the Advanced Search link on the Ancestry home page, and enter the words in the "Keywords" field. When I did this with "sioux city," I got 1,027 databases. I'm sure that the Sioux City Sunday Journal is included in this list - I didn't bother looking for it!

Using the Ancestry Database Card Catalog is very quick - but you have to be able to find the darn thing, especially in Old Search!

To sum up, there is a different link for the Ancestry Database Card Catalog in Old Search than in New Search. I wonder why?

Family Photographs - Post 56: Loucks and Smith families

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.

These photographs are from my grandfather's photo album that I scanned during Scanfest in January:

These photos are from Christmas 1916, and are set in front of the home of Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer at 2105 30th Street in San Diego. The Matthias Loucks Family pictured in last week's photo are included in these photos, but there are more people here. I think that two photos were taken because a different person took each of the above photos.

The people that I can identify in the bottom photo are (left-to-right):

* Austin Carringer (far left, in the hat)
* Unknown man (second from left, in hat; perhaps G. Tamsett Ashdown, father of Amy (Ashdown) Smith).
* Unknown woman (third from left; perhaps Amy (Ashdown) Smith, wife of David D. Smith)
* Unknown woman (fourth from left, I think she is Abigail (Vaux) Smith, Della and David's mother, but am unsure).
* Unknown young man (fifth from left, in front, perhaps a grandson of Matthias and Hattie (Vaux) Loucks)
* Unknown man (in shadows, next to fourth from left. I thought this was one of the Loucks sons, but it may be David D. Smith, Abby's son, Della's brother and Amy's husband)
* Hattie (Vaux) Loucks (sixth from left, wife of Matthias Loucks)
* Unknown young woman (seventh from left, haven't seen her before. Is she David Smith's older daughter, Maybelle Smith?)
* Unknown young lady (seventh from left, in front of above; this is probably one of the Loucks granddaughters)
* Matthias Loucks (third from right)
* Della (Smith) Carringer (second from right)
* Unknown young man (probably one of the Loucks grandsons)

Most of these people are in the top photograph, but they moved relative to others in the picture. The two that are added are:

* The older man in the hat on the far left. I don't know who he is either! He may be Harvey Edgar Carringer, brother of Austin Carringer.
* The man in the officer's type of hat is David d. Smith, I think. David was a cab driver at this time and I think that it is him.

The person missing from the top photograph is Matthias Loucks, who may have taken the picture.

Of course, my grandfather, Lyle Carringer, whose photo album contained these pictures, is not seen in either picture, so he may have taken the pictures.

I think I need a time machine to go back and watch this happen!

Ever since last week, I've had the feeling that this may not be the Matthias Loucks family at all. It may be the Samuel Crouch family from Long Beach. Samuel's wife was Elizabeth Vaux, sister to Abigail (Vaux) Smith. I need to check other family photographs to see if I can find resemblances to the "Loucks" parents in the pictures. I have several earlier Matthias and Hattie (Vaux) Loucks pictures where Hattie is much heavier than the woman in these pictures.

Google Options

I was excited to read about the new Google Options when I saw the article on Dick Eastman's blog the other day. Dick captured the salient points of the newly added features, but didn't show any pictures of it. I thought to myself "this should be cool - almost everything on Google is cool. And I should blog about it, since I am so desperate for blog fodder"

The "Show options" appears on the Google results page just below the Google logo. I put "randy seaver" in quotes in the Google search box and saw:

The search found 11,300 matches. I clicked on the "Show options" link and a list of options appeared down the left side of the page, including the time frame limits, the results types, the view types, etc. I was really interested in the "Wonder Wheel" and "Timeline" features. Here is the screen with the "Wonder Wheel" for "randy seaver":

Hmmm. That's underwhelming. I expected something flashier, and perhaps more informative. Maybe the search subject is too boring? I tried other people, and even the "barack obama" Wonder Wheel is boring IMHO.

What about the Timeline? I clicked on "Timeline" for my "randy seaver" search term and saw:

Only 41 matches were found. It seems to take the years from a selection of web pages with the search term on the page. The neat thing is that it lists the matches chronologically by the year mentioned. But it seems to make selections (perhaps randomly?) from the matches - I'm quite sure that I have mentioned a date more than 41 times in my nearly 3,000 posts! I'm underwhelmed again.

I clicked on the "Past 24 hours" link to see who had mentioned the search term in the last day - there were 36 matches:

OK, that seems to be pretty useful!

Finally, I clicked on the "Images from the pages" link and it found 3,740 matches with images:

The order of these matches is a mystery - is it almost random? It found my picture I use on this blog easily and put it at #1. The others on the results page seem like a random selection.

While I was reading my Twitter folks today, I saw Michael Hait's tweet about one of Lisa Louise Cooke's YouTube Genealogy Gems podcasts about using Google News Archive Timelines for genealogy and family history. I watched it, and encourage you to watch it too. See Lisa's video at Now that seems to be a really useful tool! Thanks, Lisa!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 19: Creating a Custom Report

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

In this post, I'm going to create a "Custom Report" - defined as a report that the user can select what to print and where to print it. I have always wanted genealogy software to be able to create a list, one page wide, with names, birth dates and places, death dates and places, spouse name, and marriage date and place for all of my ancestors in the database. Let's see if I can do it!

In the "Family" View with myself highlighted, I clicked on the "Report" menu item and clicked the "Custom Report" option:

The "Report Settings" menu opened:

There are five buttons across the top - for New, Edit, Delete, Rename and Copy. I wanted to list only my ancestors, so I selected "Select from List" in the "People to Include" field. When I clicked on that, the "Select People" menu opened up and I found myself on the list of persons, then clicked on the "Mark People" button and selected "Ancestors of highlighted person."

An "Ancestor options" window opened, and I picked "Direct ancestors only" from the list, and selected 12 generations:

With the selection of people to be listed complete, on the "Report Settings" menu I clicked on the "New" button in order to create a new Custom Report. The "Custom Report Designer" opened. This has a field to enter the header information for a column. I highlighted Column 1 in the Header row, and typed "Last Name, First Name" in the text field. Then I clicked on the row labeled "Row 1" in Column 1, and in the "select field" field I found "Name - Surname, Given":

I created eight columns using the "Insert" menu (there are "insert column" icons on the next menu row down):

After entering the header and data field for each column, I had to select the width of each field. The user can specify the field widths, but they have to add up to 100%. This takes some clicking to get right - since I had eight fields, it was logical that each could by 12 or 13%. Here is the final Custom Report Design:

I clicked on the "OK" button and was back to the "Report Settings" menu, where I made sure that in the "Layout" menu I was using a Landscape page. I clicked on the "Generate Report" button and after about 10 seconds, this 81 page report for 12 generations appeared:

Page 1 is above - it is sorted by Surname and then Given Name. Here is page 63 of the report:

I noticed that there was no title on this report. I went back to the "Custom Report Designer" menu and clicked on the "Options" button, which included a report title field, which I filled out. In this "Options" menu, you can choose which field to sort on - to three levels. The defaults are "Surname," "Given name" and "select a field."

At the top of the Custom Report page above, there are buttons for "Settings," "Print," "Save," and "Email." I chose the "Save" option, and a list of available formats appeared - I can save the report as an RTF file, a PDF file, an HTML file and a text file. I expected the program to offer a CSV option also for saving to a spreadsheet file.

I chose the RTF file option, and put in the file name and directory to save it on my computer. When it saved, the file opened in Microsoft Word as a table, as shown below:

This Custom Report option seems very versatile. Once you understand how to select people to include and how to create the Custom Report columns and size them, it is really pretty easy.

I'm ecstatic to have a nice compact list of all of my ancestors. Not every software program can do this as well as RootsMagic 4.

Tombstone Tuesday - Nathaniel Grigsby

One of my readers, Jack K, sent me the photographs below of the tombstone of Nathaniel Grigsby in Attica Cemetery, Harper County, Kansas.

Other views of the tombstone can be seen on the Harper County, Kansas USGenWeb site.
Who was Nathaniel Grigsby? There is a summary of Nathaniel's life online here. There is also a genealogy report online here.
Nathaniel Grigsby tombstone reads:
N. Grigsby
Apr 16 1890
78 Yrs 6 Ms 5 Ds
2nd Lieut. Co. G
10th Ind. Cavy
Through this inscription
I wish to enter my
dying protest against
what is called the
Democratic Party.
I have watched it
closely since the days
of Jackson and know
that all the misfortunes
of our nation has
come to it through
this so-called party,
therefore beware of
this party of treason.
Put on in fulfillment of
promise to Deceased.
Nathaniel Grigsby is not my ancestor. I wish he were because he served his country well. Thank you, Jack, for the photographs showing a unique tombstone of this interesting person.

San Diego County Vital Records - you gotta pay to see them!

My SDGS colleagues Peter Steelquist, Joan Lowrey and Marna Clemons are featured in the article County now charging to view birth, death files by Jeff McDonald in the 19 May 2009 edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The article notes that:

"Peter Steelquist knows most of the clerks at the Recorder's Office by name. He appreciates their help looking up birth and death records, even brings them boxes of chocolate every now and then. The amateur genealogist from Mission Hills used to visit the second floor of the County Administration Center every week to research the ancestors of friends and relatives. But his regular trips have all but stopped since last month, when the county began charging money to view many of its public documents."

The reason for the change in policy:

"Diana Bradrick, the chief deputy recorder/county clerk, said the county should have been imposing a fee all along. She only found out customers were not being assessed fees during a departmentwide review last month. “There simply isn't authority not to collect the fee,” Bradrick said. “It was being waived, but without there being any authority to waive it, and I didn't realize it.”"

What caused the change?

"For years, customers were permitted to scrutinize birth and death records free – as long as they didn't need copies. The office historically has charged for informational and certified copies of records. A clerk would jot down the requested name and dates, retrieve the record and bring a copy back to the counter, where the requestor was allowed to take notes. The copies were then destroyed. All that changed a couple of weeks ago, Bradrick said, after a woman turned up at the counter seeking birth records for a five-page list of people.
“It must have been 100 names,” she said. "

Read the entire piece.

Here is an example of how genealogists were working with the county clerk employees to provide a service for queries and heir searchers and someone comes along with a five page list and ruins it for everyone.

I've been researching queries for San Diego County as part of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Chairman duties for six years now, and have always requested the informational copy of vital records for my "customers." They wanted the copy anyway, so if I was sure that we had the right person, it was easy to obtain the vital record copy and pass the cost on to my customers.

Times are hard economically right now, and I'm sure that all government offices that provide similar services will be looking hard at the processes they use to serve the public. It seems to me that vital records copy services could be a money maker for the counties. In my experience, it takes the clerk less than five minutes to look up and print out, on a certificate form, the vital record, and in California the charge is $12 to $17 for each record.

I guess that there will be no more chocolates for the county clerks. Too bad. But it will save Peter money in the long run.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Searching Online for Genealogy Data

I have compiled lists of online resources for genealogy and family history over the years and the list keeps getting longer. Here is the list I recently presented to the Chula Vista Genealogical Society at the 25 April seminar in my talk "Doing a Reasonably Exhaustive Search." Note that the list is not in numerical order, but is grouped by type of web site.

1. Online Subscription Record Databases

o ($$, free at SD FHC, San Diego PL, San Diego County PL, Carlsbad) – Census, Vitals, Military, Newspapers, Books, etc.
o ($$, free at SD FHC, Carlsbad) – mainly National Archives material, plus Person Pages
o ($$, free at SD FHC, Carlsbad) – Records, Newspapers, Books, Everton’s, etc.
o ($$) – Newspapers, Books.
o ($$) – Census, Military, Passengers, Books, etc.
o ($$, free at SD FHC) – New England, Books, etc.
o ($$) – small record databases
o ($$) – UK resources – census, passengers, military, Vitals, etc.
o ($$, free at Carlsbad) – New England records, NEHGS publications

2. Free Online Databases and Search Engines

o -- Research Guide, Databases, FHLC
o -- Databases, User Web Sites
o -- State/County web sites, many user-contributed databases
o -- user-contributed databases
o (Free) – small record databases
o www.FamilyTreeLegends,.com (Free) – small record databases
o (free search, links to $$) – Search databases
o (free search, links to $$) – small record databases
o (free search, links to $$) – Links
o (free search, links to $$) -- Links
o (free search, links to $$) -- Links
o (free search, links to $$) -- Links
o (free search) -- Patriot Index

3. User submitted family tree data

o ($$) – Member Trees, One World Tree, Ancestry World Trees
o ($$) – World Family Tree
o ($$)
o ($$)
o (Wiki format)

4. Free Online Message Centers

o Ancestry/Rootsweb Message Boards - Surnames, Localities, Groups – Search Archives at
o Message Boards - Surnames, Localities, Groups
o Rootsweb Mailing Lists - Subscribe and Receive Emails – Surnames, Localities, Groups - Search Archives at

5. Online Book Collections

o Family History Library Catalog --
o Google Books –
o Ancestry Books – ($$)
o Family History Archive --
o Library of Congress American Memory --
o Making of America --
o Internet Archive --

I also have lists by record type and will try to post them as time permits.

What other web site in these categories would you add? Help me improve my list!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Best of the Genea-Blogs - May 10-16, 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:

* Browning v. Beck, pt. 4 - Famous By Association? and Browning v. Beck, Pt 5 - “State Your Name For The Record, Please?” by Patti Browning on the Consanguinity blog. Patti's series continues - this is a great example of doing a reasonably exhaustive search and then analyzing the case to obtain useful research results.

* Memory Monday - My Blog Gets Acknowledgement at Church Service by Drusilla Pair on the Find Your Folks blog. Dru went visiting cousins in Virginia, was invited to church, and then she and her blog were part of the sermon! Because of this, she met several more cousins in attendance. Great article, Dru.

* Search Strategies for Finding Ship Passenger Lists 1820-1940s by Joe Beine on the Genealogy Roots Blog. Joe provides a comprehensive summary of ship passenger lists for the 1820-1940 time period. Well done! A keeper - I love posts like this!

* Technology, obstacle or benefit to genealogy by James Tanner on the Genealogy's Star blog. Is technology really good for genealogy? Should the BCG and ICAPGEN boards recognize online genealogy as a specialty of its own? Read James' piece and decide for yourself.

* America's Obituaries - incomplete by John Newmark on the TransylvanianDutch blog. John goes looking for obituaries that he knows were written, but cannot find them online no matter that they should be. His wisdom is that "No online database should really be assumed complete." Amen!

* Places to Find Documents, Records and Manuscripts by Gena Philibert-Ortega on the Gena's Genealogy blog. Gena has a special card trhat she hands out at her talks - it looks really useful as a checklist of places to go.

* Can You Say Genealogical Jackpot? by Caroline M. Pointer on the Family Stories blog. We should all be so lucky as Caroline - see what visiting your in-laws can do for you? I hope she has a great time finding the real goodies in her treasure trove.

* NGS 2009 - It's ON!, NGS 2009 Conference Recap for May 12, NGS 2009 Conference Recap for May 13, NGS 2009 Conference Recap for May 14, NGS 2009 Conference Recap for May 15, and NGS 2009 Conference Recap for May 16 by Amy Coffin on the We Tree blog. Amy was the first of the geneas-bloggers to provide daily hour-by-hour of her NGS experiences. Every time I read her post, I though "gee, I wish I was there."

* NGS Day One by Pat Richley on the DearMYRTLE Genealogy Blog. Pat started out so well with her NGS reports, and I guess was overtaken by events or the social swirl. Perhaps she will post about the other days at NGS as well.

* Report #1: NGS 2009 Family History Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, Report #2: , Report #3: and Report #4: by CGS member Jeffrey Vaillant on the California Genealogical Society and Library blog. Jeffrey provided reports about his days at the NGS conference.

* Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 3: Researching at NEHGS by Denise on The Family Curator blog. Denise continues her serial posts about her visit to NEHGS. Makes me want to go on the next New England Research Weekend they have!

* Genealogy and Social Networking – a Perfect Partnership by Carolyn Barkley on the blog. The real gem in this post is the interview with Drew Smith who wrote the book Social Networking for Genealogists.

* Shock and Awe by Brenda Dougall Merriman on the Brenda Dougall Merriman blog. Brenda's book, United Empire Loyalists: A Guide to Tracing Loyalist Ancestors in Upper Canada, won the NGS 2008 Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources. Well done, blogger Brenda! I can hardly wait to read this book. I have several Loyalists in my ancestry!

* New Search and International Updates by Diane Haddad on The Genealogy Insider blog. This is the only post I found that summarized the genealogy blogger meeting at NGS hosted by Thanks, Diane! I wonder who else was there? Is there a picture?

* NGS 2009 Highlights Thus Far by Dean Richardson on the Genlighten Blog - Genealogy Documented blog. Dean summarizes his experiences from an exhibitor's view.

* Penelope Dreadful: Dear Mama - My Dear Girls by Denise Levenick on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. Oh my, Miss Penny found a floral postcard that led to, oh my, you have to read all about it!

* Free Websites for New Mexico Genealogists by Robert J.C. Baca on the New Mexico Genealogical Society blog. Robert posts the handout from the NMGS talk on "Internet Genealogy." Nice list!!! A keeper.

* Amateur vs Professional by Arlene H. Eakle on the Arlene Eakle's Virginia Blog. Arlene is great at researching and telling stories - it's called experience - and has some interesting advice in this post about traditional resources.

* IN PERSON: Ernie is Still Alive by Ernie Margheim on the Ernie's Journeys blog. Ernie shows us pictures and tells us stories about his stay in the care center, and likens it to a Hilton Hotel. We are all happy that Ernie is recovering well and has started blogging again! Stop by Ernie's blogpost and give him some blog love.

* We Are the Future of Genealogy by Denise Olson on the Family Matters blog. Denise ponders the future of genealogy after reading Lisa Alzo's article, and decides it is US! Cool.

* The Carnival's In Town - Smile for the Camera, All Creatures Great and Small by footnoteMaven on the Shades of the Departed blog. The 13th Smile for the Camera Carnival features 27 submissions from six countries - all about their favorite creatures.

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.