Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wheel of Genealogy Fortune - Post 9

You all know how to play Wheel of Fortune - I've given you R S T L N and E just like in the Final Round on the TV game!

Take a crack at this quote:

_ .... _ _ .... E N _ _ _ E .... _ N

.... _ E N E _ L _ _ _ _ _ L

.... R E S E _ R _ _ ...._ _ S T L _

.... T _ .... S _ _ N _ _ L _ _ E

.... _ L _ .... L _ _ _ E S.

Can you figure this out, find the author, and find it on a blog page?

Please email me your answers ( and I'll list the answer and the readers who get it right in Comments later in the week.

Customized Home Page

I was reading the blog post about customizing the Ancestry home page, so I thought I would do it, since I complained about it a month ago.

At the bottom of the home page, there is a "Customize this page" button. I tickled that and was able to move the different boxes around. Here's the top of my Ancestry home page screen (I didn't click on the KFC ad, though!):

As you can see, I moved the Search box to the top of my screen, and I added several links to the right-hand side of the screen.

Here's the bottom of my Home Page screen:

If I want to go to my databases, I can but I rarely check my own stuff out. I'd rather check out everybody else's stuff! True confession: I haven't used the "My To-do List" or "My Shoebox" features yet.

"Internet Genealogy" Magazine TOC - August/September 2008 issue

Internet Genealogy magazine is published by Moorshead Magazines Ltd., which also publishes Family Chronicle, Discovering Family History and History magazines. An Internet Genealogy yearly subscription is $22.50 for online access, $28 for a print version, and $6.95 on the newsstand (if you can find it) for US and Canada.

The Table of Contents for the August-September 2008 issue includes:

* Net Notes - FamilyRelatives, Bloodlines of Salem, Shades of the Departed, and Purpose Games are highlighted - page 6

* Brickwall Solutions: Internet Style! -- We excerpted a few Internet-related brickwall solutions from our best selling book - page 9

* E.W.G.S. at 75: Thrivin' and Survivin' - Donna Potter Phillips sings the praises of her local genealogical society - page 14

* Who Was Mary Virginia? - Alice Luckhardt uses the Internet to find answers about a long forgotten lady - page 15

* Cold Case Research: Genealogy Style - Donna Potter Phillips offers an idea for today's genealogists - page 17

* Project StoryKeeper and LifeLenz - Diane L. Richard shows how to preserve stories and memories - page 18

* Picture Perfecting Picasa: Image Artistry at the Click of a Button - Bill Puller looks at another great resource from the folks at Google - page 22

* 50 Websites You Might Be Missing! - Lisa A. Alzo looks at the online resources that just might be the missing piece of your genealogy puzzle - page 27

* Academic Focus: Continuing Education - Richard Crooks goes back to school to go beyond his genealogical brick walls - page 32

* Academic Focus: Academic Theses - A Genealogist's Tool - Janice Nickerson shares an untapped resource that will give your research an A+ push - page 35

* Academic Focus: CPS Alumni - School's In On the Web! - Diane L. Richard goes old school in her genealogy research - page 38

* Academic Focus: School Records Online - David A. Norris shows you the A B C's of finding your family's school records online - page 40

* Civil War Maps Online - David A. Norris explores some uncharted territory in search of Civil War maps - page 47

* What's Coming in Internet Genealogy - A peek at what we are working on for future issues - page 53

* I Share an Un-erasable Bond with my Typewriter - David A. Norris xxxxxxx types an ode to his typewriter - page 54.

That's it - 56 pages chock full of useful genealogy information about Internet resources.

footnoteMaven's excellent Shades of the Departed blog is highlighted in Net Notes. The Eastern Washington Genealogical Society is highlighted in Donna Phillips article, whichg has lots of great ideas for genealogy society members.

I really enjoyed, and will investigate thoroughly, Lisa Alzo's list of 50 web sites (I figure I've missed at least 25% of them). The School Records articles were interesting and may be useful. I really like elusive ancestor stories, and the Brickwall Solutions, Mary Virginia, and Cold Case Research stories were great.

As always, my problem is how to find these articles once I have read them once. A paper copy in a file is not the best way for me - my piles get higher and I've wasted paper. Having them online in PDF format, and this table of contents on my blog and in my computer files, works best for me.

Friday, August 1, 2008

BFFed - who to tag next?

I received the Blogger Friends Forever (BFF) award this morning from Terry Thornton, who writes the superb Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi blog. Thank you Terry for thinking of me. I could post the logo below on my sidebar if I could figure out how to do it (I'm still on old Blogger):

The rules are if I accept this award I must pass it on. The rules for passing on the award are:

1. Only five people are allowed to receive the award.
2. Four of them must followers of your blog.
3. One has to be new to your blog and live in another part of the world.
4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award.

I choose the following five genealogy bloggers:

* Mark Tucker at the ThinkGenealogy blog
* Laura Womack at the LifeAtTheHome20 blog (a new blog to me)
* Dean Richardson at the Genlighten Blog - Genealogy Documented blog.
* Carolyn Earle Billingsley at the Life in Possum Holler blog.
* Schelly Talalay Dardashti at the Tracing the Tribe - The Jewish Genealogy Blog (I hope this qualifies for the "lives in another part of the world").

Why did I pick these people to be my BFF? Several reasons - they are blogs I learn something from, they are relatively new genealogy blogs, and they are blogs written by Facebook friends, or a combination thereof!

One the neat things about memes like this is that you find interesting blogs you didn't know existed, and some readers of other blogs find your blog too.

Unlike some people (thank you, Terr), I am not going to alert via email my nominees - I'll let them find their award on their own - a surprise! Let's see how long it takes for them to find it.

Fair Warning - or hysteria?

Dick Hillenbrand on his Genealogy Miscellanea blog has posted Genealogists Warning: Do Not Take Laptop, Ipod, Cell Phone, or any other electronic recording device abroad today. It references a Washington Post story that describes the possible perils of travel abroad with digital electronic devices.

Dick's link to the Washington Post didn't work - here's a link to the story by Ellen Nakashima published today. The gist of the story is:

"Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

"Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

That article is certainly ominous - and fair warning for all travelers. The article is sure to cause some hysteria in the travel industries and in newsrooms. But is the article accurate? Frankly, I don't trust any of the major newspapers or news services to provide accurate information - the stories always seem to be slanted one way or another.

The five page ICE policy is published here in PDF form. The article seems to quote the policy accurately.

Trying to find a positive side to this, I'm wondering if the contents of my laptop computer might be transferred from ICE to DHS to NARA to a commercial web site after the appropriate time interval? It might be a genealogy bonanza for a researcher 100 years from now.

I was planning on taking my laptop computer, digital camera and iPod on our genealogy cruise in October. Do you think they'll be interested in my five different genealogy software programs, two books in digital format, pictures of the old guys and young kids, and my notes about how to use The Master Genealogist? Hopefully, this will be straightened out before then.

Thank you to Dick for bringing this to our attention.

Cruiser needs hotel advice in NYC and PR

My wife and I are going cruising in October on the Wholly Genes cruise, departing New York City on 26 October, visiting Antigua and the Virgin Islands before landing in San Juan, Puerto Rico on 2 November. There are three days of genealogy classes during this cruise. The cruise and genealogy class details are here if anybody else want to participate (I have no idea if there is space available).

My reason for posting this is to ask for advice on spending a few days in both New York City before the cruise and in San Juan after the cruise. Our schedules are flexible at this point - we just need to get on the boat in Brooklyn and get off in PR.

Of course, we would love to stay in a hotel that is safe, clean, cheap, has king size beds, has wireless internet, is close to nearby restaurants, has a tour group stop, and/or is near a subway. Oh, also is fairly close to the cruise terminals. I realize that some of these requirements are mutually exclusive! My thought is that some of my readers may have experience and opinions about hotels in these areas.

I've looked at hotels in Brooklyn between JFK airport and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminals on Expedia, Travelocity and AAA. It's difficult to choose! Has anybody cruised out of Brooklyn before and stayed close by in a great place that meets my expectations?

On the San Juan end, I haven't checked for hotels yet. I thought I would go get a AAA book about Puerto Rico and use that to plan, but if someone has a recommendation I would really appreciate it.

Thanks for any help. If you want to email me with information, please do so to

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ann Montgomery's "Carlsbad Library Genealogy Collection" Program

At the Chula Vista Genealogical Society program meeting yesterday, Ann Montgomery made a presentation about the "Carlsbad Library Genealogy Collection." The program announcement and Ann's CV are here. This is a subject dear to my heart, and the hearts of many San Diego area researchers.

Ann stated that the Carlsbad library has the third largest genealogy collection in California (after Sutro Library in San Francisco and the Los Angeles Public Library, I think). It is certainly the largest collection in San Diego County. The library genealogy home page is here. The library catalog is here.

In her presentation, Ann described the genealogy library holdings - the family history and local history books, the periodicals and journals, the microfilm and microfiche, the census index books, the online databases, CDROMs, etc. She also discussed the online catalog, the genealogy user guides created by the library staff, and inter-library loan requests.

For me, the hidden gems in the Carlsbad genealogy collection are:

* the City Directories (before 1860 on microfiche, 1861 to 1880 on microfilm) for many US and some foreign cities.
* the State Census Records on microfilm. This lists only what is held by Carlsbad library.
* the User Guides for several states, specific collections, and specific repositories. For example, the Vosburgh NY Church Records transcriptions on microfilm can be viewed at the library.

During her talk, Ann showed screens for each of the online databases, which include:

* Ancestry Library Edition - in-library use only
* Access NewspaperARCHIVE - available at home with library card
* Heritage Quest Online - available at home with library card
* New England Ancestors (NEHGS web site) - in-library use only.
* - in-library use only.
* Biography and Genealogy Master Index - available at home with library card.

The Carlsbad Library genealogy room staff are Carlsbad city employees, but they work closely with the North San Diego County Genealogical Society. The society and its members contribute many books and periodicals to the library each year.

Ann's talk was very timely, because the Chula Vista Genealogical Society will have a research trip to Carlsbad Library on Saturday, September 6. We will carpool, leaving from the parking garage in downtown Chula Vista at about 8:30 a.m. and leaving Carlsbad at about 2 p.m. Now is the time for CVGS members to start planning their research at Carlsbad Library - check the catalog for resources about your surnames and localities, decide which online resources you want to search for elusive ancestors, etc.

Chopped Liver is related to Wild Bill Hickok too

I see that the news media has discovered that Barack Obama is related to James "Wild Bill" Hickok, thanks to research done by Christopher Childs and Gary Boyd Roberts at the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. That's cool.

Ho hum- me too! Me too! Related to both of them, I mean. I traced my Obama cousinship here last year.

How? Wild Bill's descent from Thomas Blossom is here:

1) Thomas Blossom (1580-1632) married Ann Elsdon (1584-???)
2) Peter Blossom (1627-1706) married Sarah Bodfish (1638-1704)
3) Thomas Blossom (1667-1726) married Fear Robinson (1676-1708)
4) Elizabeth Blossom (1705-1734) married Israel Butler (1696-1756)
5) Benjamin Butler (1727-1800) married Susannah Whiting (1734-????)
6) James Butler (1763-1830) married Eunice Kingsley (1761-????)
7) Polly Butler (1804-1878) married William Alonzo Hickok (1801-1852)
8) James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok (1837-1876), died too young.

My descent from Thomas Blossom and Ann Elsdon is:

1) Thomas Blossom (1580-1632) married Ann Elsdon (1584-????)
2) Elizabeth Blossom (1620-1713) married 1637 Edward FitzRandolph (1607-1685)
3) Nathnaiel FitzRandolph (1642-1713) married 1662 Mary Holloway (1638-1703)
4) Samuel FitzRandolph (1668-1754) married Mary Jones (????-1760)
5) Jacob FitzRandolph (1708-1779) married 1730? to unknown
6) Samuel Fitz Randolph (1730-????) married 1750 Martha Gach (1729-????)
7) Tabitha Randolph (1761-1841) married 1769 Stephen Cutter (1744-1823)
8) Sarah Cutter (1785-1878) married 1804 William Knapp (1775-1857)
9) Sarah G. Knapp (1818-????) married 1844 David Auble (1817-1894)
10) Charles Auble (1849-1916) married 1898 Georgianna Kemp (1768-1952)
11) Emily Kemp Auble (1899-1977) married 1918 Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1892-1976)
12) Betty Carringer (1919-2002) married 1942 Frederick w. Seaver (1911-1983)
13) Randy Seaver - ME!

So Wild Bill and I are 6th cousins five times removed. My kids and cousins will be impressed that they're related to Wild Bill. Does this qualify me for the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists?

Of course, almost anybody with Plymouth Colony ancestors are cousin to Wild Bill Hickok, and to Barack Obama - they just don't know the connections. Almost anyone can check the family trees at Rootsweb WorldConnect and find famous or infamous cousins. This took me all of ten minutes once I read the article!

Why doesn't Obama claim he's a cousin to me? What am I, chopped liver? Oh well, I'm in good company.

Genealogy IS a lot of fun!

Is this Isaac and Lucretia (Smith) Seaver?

Sometimes you get lucky... and friends help you out. I posted "When was this picture taken?" in July 2007 about a Union case received with my Aunt Geraldine's treasures. I speculated that it was taken in the 1860's, and perhaps was Isaac (1823-1901) and Lucretia (Smith) (1828-1884) Seaver. Isaac Seaver is my only ancestral Civil War soldier.

Recently, I took a photograph of the Union Case pictures instead of scanning the case itself, which turned out rather badly (see the earlier post). The digital photograph turned out fairly well after cropping:

In the mean time, Sally Jacobs posted this morning "Learning to date old photographs" (which she originally posted a year ago), linking to my earlier post.
Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, saw Sally's post and looked at my earlier post, and commented on it:
"Hi Randy! The woman's dress and the man's attire suggests it was taken in the 1850s. The image itself doesn't look reflective so it's either an ambrotype or tintype. This narrows the time frame to after 1856 to c. 1860.
"Your scanner read the glass rather than the image. One of my Epson scanner's does that and the other doesn't. Caught your posting due to the Practical Archivist."
I'm about 90% sure that the pictures are of Isaac Seaver and Lucretia Smith. If so, it would have been handed down to Isaac's son, Frank Seaver, to his son Fred Seaver, and to his youngest daughter, Geraldine (who was the companion for her mother until her death in 1963). The other candidates are (assuming the photograph was taken in about 1860 and the subjects are aged 20-40 years old):
* Edward (1831-1899) and Sophia (Newton) (1834-1923) Hildreth, who resided in Leominster MA.
* Henry (1824-1885) and Amy (Oatley) (1826-1867) White, who resided in Killingly CT.
Thank you to Sally and Maureen for taking the time to help me out. It's great to have experts analyze my puzzles!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Family Picnics?

Because I grew up in San Diego, there were not many collateral family members around. My mother was an only child, and her parents were only children, and so there were not any family on my mother's side here except for my parents and my mother's parents. All of my father's ancestry, and sibling's families, were in New England, 2,500 miles away. They visited us once in my first 25 years... My father's aunt Emily's family was here, but there were no children my age.

Therefore, there were not massive family picnics or reunions where everybody brought something, cousins played games and hung out with each other, the elders told stories and the youngers listened, etc.

When I was growing up, the closest thing to a picnic we had was enjoying a game of ping pong down in the patio. There was maybe 40 feet between the sidewalk on Fern Street on the east and the fence separating the yards on the west, and only about 20 feet between the tall concrete wall on the south and the apartment building on the north side of the patio. A tall jacaranda tree grew on the east side of the patio, and a semi-circular flower bed dominated the west side of the patio. We had a basketball standard on the east side of the bricked patio. There was precious little space on the patio for anything but a ping-pong table, several lawn chairs and a charcoal-fueled barbecue set.

My dad thought he was the all-pro ping-pong player, all bluster and power, slamming every ball he could reach. My mother was the finesse player, with spins and cuts and her unorthodox two-fingers-on-top grip. My brother and I practiced and practiced against each other for years, and when we finally started beating our dad regularly, he sort of gave it up. Mom would always play us and it took us longer to beat her consistently because she was more patient and crafty.

For our picnics, we would usually have either hot dogs or hamburgers - always cooked to a crisp (my dad never ate anything "uncooked" - steak for our family was like shoe leather!). We would have potato chips and Fritos, fresh fruit, and watermelon. You might say that our picnics were gastronomically deprived!

After Linda and I married and had our two daughters, we would go to the beach with friends, usually from the church couples group or the girl's Scout troop, during the summer and fall and have a great time. We would body surf the waves, build finger-drip towers and elaborate moated sand castles, get all sunburned and sandy, and then enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers, with chips, veggies, fruit, etc. But the best was saved for last - S'mores. Toasted gooey marshmallows (there's a real science to this - you need to avoid great balls of gooey fire) from an open fire pit, with a slab of thin Hershey's milk-chocolate candy bar, between two graham cracker halves. Yummy. The classical San Diego beach picnic. Oh - fireworks if it was a holiday!

I really miss the body surfing, the sand castles and the S'mores. I don't miss the sunburns and the cold water, though. Pretty soon, our grandchildren will be big enough to do these activities with, and we'll make some more family history. I can hardly wait!

Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 10: Places II

I installed FamilyTreeMaker 2008 three weeks ago and uploaded a large database to see how it worked. I also started a new database to test other program features. Please see the list at the bottom of this post for the earlier posts.

In this post, I want to describe the different mapping options that you see when you click the map controls.

By the way, FTM 2008 uses Microsoft Virtual Earth for the mapping feature.

Here's the FTM 2008 screen after I resolved Westminster, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA in Post 9. There's a stickpin in the road map that shows where Westminster is:

There are several buttons in the upper left-hand corner of the map. The Zoom In (+) and Zoom Out (-) buttons are hard to see, they're to the left of and below the circular feature, which can be used to move north, east, south or west on the map. There are 17 levels of Zoom available - from a world view to a neighborhood view (about 60 feet to the inch). You can also move the map around at any Zoom level or view using the "magic hand" by left-clicking and holding the mouse button down.

There are buttons for 2D, 3D, Road, Aerial, BirdsEye and Labels across the top of the map (with the blue background). What is shown below is both 2D and Roads, but zoomed in so I can view beautiful downtown Westminster.

I clicked on the Aerial button and the image changed to the terrain view - you can now see the visible features of the view, roads, houses, vegetation, etc. Some of the roads are overlaid with road names and the roads shown are wider than they actually are, as shown below:

Lastly, I clicked on the Birds button and got a birds-eye view of the area where the stickpin is located, as shown below:

Again, the roads are overlaid with the street names and now the actual roads shown, in this Zoom level, are wider than the overlay. You can see the large church in the lower right, the town hall on the east side of Bacon Street, the library on the north side of Main Street just west of Bacon, etc. It sure looks like the picture was taken in winter or spring, doesn't it?

I really like these features of FamilyTreeMaker 2008. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen are menu items for Delete, Print and Share. The Delete item deletes the place name highlighted in the index. The Print item permits you to print the map, a Place Usage Report for the highlighted place name, or a complete Place Usage Report. The Share item permits you to upload the map image to, to Send the Place Usage Report, or the Place Usage Report for this place, to an email address, or to Export the Place Usage Report, or Place Usage Report for this place, to a file.

Previous posts in this series:

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 1: Loading. Installing the program and uploading an existing database file. *

Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 2: Exploring. Looking around the uploaded database file to see what the different views look like.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 3: The Menus. Most of the menus were itemized and described.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 4: Starting a New Tree. I started a new tree and added some people demonstrating the program options to do this.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 5: Adding a Source. I added sources to the Facts that I previously entered.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 6: Adding Children to a Family. I added children to a family.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 7: The Person Menu. I described the items in the Person menu and attached a spouse to a person.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 8: Finding a Person in the database. I described three ways to Find a person.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 9: Places I. I explored the vagaries of the Places icon.

In the next post, I'll demonstrate how to Resolve all of the Place Names that don't satisfy the FTM2008 Place Authority.

Family Photographs - Post 16: Carringer/Smith Marriage Certificate

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

Here is one of the most precious (to me) images from my Smith/Carringer family collection:

This is an image of the Marriage Certificate documenting the marriage of Mr. Henry A. Carringer and Miss Della A. Smith on 11 September 1887 in Wano, Cheyenne County, Kansas, signed by Rev. Emanuel Richards, Minister of Congregational Church. Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer were my great-grandparents who came to San Diego on the train after their wedding in Kansas and settled there. I am a 5th generation San Diegan (Austin's parents came later) and proud of it, thanks be to Austin and Della!

This picture hung on the wall of their home on 30th Street in San Diego from 1887 to 1946, then on the wall of Lyle and Emily (Auble) Carringer in their homes on 30th Street and in Point Loma from 1946 to 1977, then on the wall of Fred and Betty (Carringer) Seaver in their homes on 30th Street and in Point Loma from 1977 to 2002, and on the wall of my home in Chula Vista since 2002.

I took a photograph of the framed picture last week and cropped it a bit. I am hesitant to take it out of the frame to scan it, but I'm curious if there are any "hidden" information within the framed picture. The frame is fairly new (perhaps 1970s or 1980s) but the actual certificate has folds and some small tears on the edges.

This is the only record I've found documenting this marriage.

Historic USGS Maps of New England and New York

Dick Hillenbrand's post yesterday "Old Maps of New York Towns Online" on his Upstate New York Genealogy blog led me quickly to the University of New Hampshire Library site for Historic USGS Maps of New England and New York.

The maps on this site are in .JPG format and are topographical maps dated from the 1890 to 1950 time frame. There are links for each state (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) for Quad Index, Town Index, and ImageMap. If you don't know which quad that your town is in, then use the Town Index to start.

As an example, for Leominster, Massachusetts (where my Seaver ancestors lived from 1870 to 1963) there are maps for 1893, 1917, 1935, 1936, 1946, 1950, and 1954. Many towns are on more than one map because the maps are defined by latitude and longitude rather than being centered on a specific location.

These maps are very useful to me because they show:

* Topographical features at the time the map was made. For example, I can "see" the stream that ran in back of the house at 290 Central Street in Leominster.

* Viewing a series of maps shows how towns built up over time. The maps show small house symbols along the streets and roads. For example, on the 1893 map of Leominster, the Hildreth house at 149 Lancaster Street in Leominster was the last house on the right side of the road out of town. By 1936, it was nowhere near the edge of town, and many more streets had been built up.

If you are a New England or New York researcher, then this should be a "keeper" web site.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More on FamilySearch Indexing and Image Access

I commented last week about the FamilySearch announcement about sharing indexes and images with

FamilySearch today sent out a press release (I'm not on their list, unfortunately) that said:

"The recent announcements of joint census projects with FamilySearch and affiliate companies, such as and, have caused some confusion. FamilySearch patrons and indexing volunteers are wondering if the indexes created from their efforts will continue to be free to the public. The answer is a resounding YES!

"All data indexed by FamilySearch volunteers will continue to be made available for free to the public through — now and in the future. Access to related digital images may not always be free to everyone. Working jointly with other organizations ensures wider availability to improved indexes and provides a tremendous benefit to millions of people around the world who are seeking to connect with their ancestors. FamilySearch is committed to working with records custodians around the world to provide faster access to more records for more people.

"Where possible, FamilySearch will seek to provide free public access to digital images of original records. Due to affiliate obligations, free access to some images may be available only to FamilySearch members (volunteers and indexers who meet basic contribution requirements each quarter, patrons at Family History Centers, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who’s contributions support FamilySearch’s operations).

"FamilySearch members will also enjoy convenient access in their homes or wherever they have Internet access. (FamilySearch is currently developing its ability to verify that users are FamilySearch members for future home access. This expanded access should be enabled in 2009.)

"The general public will have several options to access any fee-based images offered under FamilySearch affiliate agreements.

1) Home access will be free for FamilySearch members;
2) access is free through a local Family History Center or the Family History Library;
3) access is often free through the record custodian or archive reading room; or
4) for a nominal fee, the public can access the images on specified record custodian or commercial Web sites."

Read that very carefully. It is a clarification of the previous announcement. Here are my immediate thoughts:

* The upshot is what I thought it would be - the FamilySearch indexes will be available to all researchers wherever they are, but some image collections (including some of the US Federal census records and the England/Wales census records) will not be available for at-home viewing at unless the researcher has access to the subscription sites, or qualifies as a FamilySearch member.

* The new information in the announcement is that FamilySearch "members" (the above release indicates that non-LDS volunteers can qualify for at-home access) will have access to the indexes and the images.

* It's pretty explicitly stated that access for any researcher will be available at LDS Family History Centers and record custodian sites (e.g., National Archives). That is still the best news for most researchers who won't or can't subscribe to subscription sites.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Yep, I felt the magnitude 5.4 earthquake at 11:43 a.m., but it was just a gentle 5-second roll here in Chula Vista (about 110 miles from Chino Hills).

The site has a great map of historic Southern California earthquakes. The site says:

"Below is a clickable map of southern California, with epicenters of historic earthquakes (as far back as 1812) of particular note plotted over the background topography. Shown, too, are major highways (in tan) and the surface traces of major faults (in greenish-blue)."

Note that this map is not clickable - on the SCEC web site the map is clickable for each dot. You can read details about each earthquake shown on the map.

In the picture above, do you see the blue fault line northeast of San Diego that has only one dot on it, about where Lake Elsinore in Riverside County is? The earthquake today will be a dot about 25 miles northwest of that one dot, right near the end of that fault line.

A list for all of the Southern California earthquakes on the map is at

As you can see, the San Diego has not had many significant earthquakes in recent history. We feel all of the big ones on the San Andreas fault, but it is usually just windows rattling and a little bed-rocking. I'm not anxious to feel a "real" one.

What was I doing? Reading, of course. Looking for blog fodder. I had Facebook open and Miriam Midkiff IMed me and we chatted for a bit about earthquakes in our memories. She went off to do her thing and I played some Scramble games, then went in and watched the TV newsers and ate lunch.

Is Genea-Cool?

Several genea-bloggers have been checking out Cuil at so I thought I'd better check it out. Why is it named Cuil? The web site says:

"The Internet has grown exponentially in the last fifteen years but search engines have not kept up—until now. Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else—three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft.

"Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.

"Then we offer you helpful choices and suggestions until you find the page you want and that you know is out there. We believe that analyzing the Web rather than our users is a more useful approach, so we don’t collect data about you and your habits, lest we are tempted to peek. With Cuil, your search history is always private.

"Cuil is an old Irish word for knowledge. For knowledge, ask Cuil."

Is Cuil better than Google as a genealogy search engine?

For this comparison, I chose to run a typical search of an ancestral couple in my genealogy research. I chose "Cornelia Bresee" and "James Bell" for my first comparison because I'm extremely interested in finding other researchers interested in this couple.

1) searches (search terms in red):

* cornelia bresee -- 1,092 matches claimed, 75 shown
* cornelia bresee james bell -- 14 matches claimed, 2 shown
* "cornelia bresee" -- 103 matches claimed, 10 shown
* "cornelia bresee" james bell -- 14 matches claimed, 2 shown
* "cornelia bresee" "james bell" -- 7 matches claimed, 1 shown

2) searchs (search terms in red):

* cornelia bresee -- 916 matches claimed, 416 shown
* cornelia bresee james bell -- 624 matches claimed, 314 shown
* "cornelia bresee" -- 105 matches claimed, 20 shown
* "cornelia bresee" james bell -- 9 matches claimed, 9 shown
* "cornelia bresee" "james bell" -- 8 matches claimed, 8 shown

Hmm - what's different? Frankly, I didn't see many of the "junk" matches on Cuil that I usually see in Google. That's good!

What about genealogy searching?

1) Using the "cornelia bresee" "james bell" search (because that's the type I usually use), the Cuil site had:

* Genea-Musings "Genealogy Research" tag file -- not the specific post, but a blog category on Genea-Musings. Here I have to search for "cornelia bresee" "james bell" to find the terms. Whoops - they're not on that page when I use the Edit>Find tool. If I search all of Genea-Musings using the Blogger search box, I get five of my Genea-Musings posts.

2) Using the "cornelia bresee" "james bell" search, the Google site had:

* "Who are parents of my Cornelia Bresee" on the Genforum message board for the Bresee surname
* "Re: Who are parents of my Cornelia Bresee?" on the Rootsweb/Ancestry Message Board for surname Bresee
* "Index for my Cornelia Bresee search" on GeneaMusings
* "Following up on Cornelia Bresee" on GeneaMusings
* "Randy's Search for Cornelia Bresee" on Becky Wiseman's Kinexxions blog.
* "Re: Who are parents of my Cornelia Bresee?" on the message board ( a mirror of the other one, in plain text)
* "sprague family" -- two pages for Cornelia Bresee on Lance Sprague's Rootsweb WorldConnect database.

The comparison is striking, isn't it?

Cuil found one of my GeneaMusings posts and not any others, and the link didn't have my search terms on it. I had to search for it on the entire web site.

Google found items on GeneaMusings (but listed only one of them - there were 5), Becky's blog, the Genforum message board, the Rootsweb/Ancestry message board, and the Rootsweb WorldConnect database.

Is Genea-cool? Is it ready for genealogy research prime time?

Not for me - not yet, anyway.

Maybe it will improve -- but it will have to improve by including the main resources that genealogy researchers use. And, hopefully, more of them. After all, that's what it claims to do, isn't it? Find more and better search results.

A caveat: this was just one fairly simple test of the web site, using methods I use on Google. I encourage other researchers to do other comparisons and share them with the genealogy community.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 9: Places I

I installed FamilyTreeMaker 2008 three weeks ago and uploaded a large database to see how it worked. I also started a new database to test other program features. Please see the list at the bottom of this post for the earlier posts.

In this post, I want to describe what happens when you click on the [Places] icon at the top of the FTM 2008 screen.

Here is the FTM 2008 screen in my uploaded database in the [Family] view of the [People] icon. Benjamin Seaver is the highlighted person, born and died in Westminster, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

I decided to click on the [Places] icon next to the [People] icon in the top row of the program menu. The screen below is just before I clicked on [Places].

When I clicked on [Places], the screen below came up. It is a map of Worcester city in Worcester County, Massachusetts. A suggestion list of five places in the FTM 2008 Place Authority overlays the map (Westminster Street is highlighted with a stickpin on this map under the overlay!).

Needless to say, that wasn't what I expected!! I expected a map of central Massachusetts with a stick pin showing the town of Westminster and environs.

There were many more listings for Westminster in the left-hand panel which shows the index of Places in my database. I clicked on the first one... and got the screen shown below.

Good. That's what I expected!

What happened in the second screen above? Why did it show a map of Westminster Street in Worcester city when I wanted Westminster town about 25 miles northwest of Worcester?

The answer is that the FTM 2008 Place Authority does not have items with the word "County" in them. Most of my Places entries in my database have the word "County" in them. When I chose a place name on my Places list without the word "County," I got the map I wanted.

What to do here? FTM 2008 provides an item in the [Place] menu (second line down on the FTM 2008 screen) to "Resolve This Place Name." The screen below shows the [Place] menu items with "Resolve This Place Name" highlighted.

When I click on the "Resolve This Place Name" menu item, a screen box opens that says:

"The spelling of this place name is not in the Place Authority. Select a place name from the list below and press "Replace" to use the suggested spelling or "Ignore" to leave this place name as it is."

I scrolled down to "Westminster, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA" in the screen shot below.

When I selected the place name from the Place Authority, the map with the stickpin in Westminster, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA appeared, as shown below.

Please note that I chose my selected person, and therefore the place names associated with him, at random. I did not plan this sequence to point out a flaw in FTM 2008.

I'm sure that FTM would say that the flaw is in my database where I used non-standard place names that included the word County. Of course, I entered all of the "County" words in my databases way before a Place Authority was created! No matter.

To make matters worse for me, I've included some notes in parentheses at the end of some places names (I used these to denote sources before there were source citation capabilities in the software). These need to be resolved also, and in the process I'll lose those rudimentary source citations unless I enter them into the Source fields for each Person in my database (all 20,755 of them).

So it appears that I need to resolve many of my 4,762 entries in my Places index list. That sounds like fun! I'll try to do that in the next post!

Previous posts in this series:

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 1: Loading. Installing the program and uploading an existing database file.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 2: Exploring. Looking around the uploaded database file to see what the different views look like.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 3: The Menus. Most of the menus were itemized and described.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 4: Starting a New Tree. I started a new tree and added some people demonstrating the program options to do this.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 5: Adding a Source. I added sources to the Facts that I previously entered.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 6: Adding Children to a Family. I added children to a family.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 7: The Person Menu. I described the items in the Person menu and attached a spouse to a person.

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 8: Finding a Person in the database. I described three ways to Find a person.

CVGS Program on Wednesday about Carlsbad Library

The next Chula Vista Genealogical Society program meeting is Wednesday, July 30th at 12 noon at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library. After a brief business meeting, the guest speaker will be Ann Montgomery, who will speak on "Carlsbad Library Genealogy Collection."

The Carlsbad Georgina Cole Public Library has the largest collection of genealogy books, microforms and periodicals in San Diego County, and is a "must-visit" for local genealogy researchers. The library provides at-home access to HeritageQuestOnline and NewspaperARCHIVE for library card holders. In the library, they have access to Ancestry Library Edition,, and Ann's talk will cover all of these resources and more.

Ann Montgomery received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. She has had several careers, but for the last 17 years she has been involved in one way or another with Family History. Ann began her own family history research by volunteering in the Carlsbad Family History Center 17 years ago under the tutelage of a professional genealogist. After working there over 8 years, she began working at the Carlsbad City Library in the Genealogy division. Ann has taught many classes for the LDS church and has spoken at several family history fairs. For several years she has taught multiple classes about the facilities and materials available at the Cole Library genealogy department. She enjoys teaching people how to use the collection and how to use the various subscription databases and also how to do research on-line.

At present, Ann teaches a class on the New Family Search including the Record Search part of the Beta version of family search. Ann enjoys helping people get acquainted with the wonderful facilities in Carlsbad and enjoys giving tours to new library card holders.

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society will have a research trip to Carlsbad Cole Library on Saturday, 6 September.

Please join us for this free meeting. Guests and visitors are welcome at all CVGS meetings. We request that you enter via the Conference Room door near the East entrance of the library in order to register, gather handouts, buy an opportunity drawing ticket and have a snack. We will start the meeting in the auditorium at 12:20 p.m.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scanfest today was great!

I attended my first Scanfest today via Windows Live Messenger and enjoyed it immensely. Miriam Midkiff was the hostess and I think she counted 17 in attendance at one time, and then several more came a bit later.

Miriam Midkiff also announced that there was an article in the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper today about her use of Google in genealogy research - you can see an online version of it here. It has the Google Reader video embedded that Miriam did a month or so ago. It's great to have genea-bloggers in the newspapers!

During Scanfest, I managed to work my way through some loose photographs of my kids as babies, some pre-wedding photographs, and my grandmother's photo album that we gave her after the wedding. These are mainly 3x3 Kodak photos that are not high quality...but maybe some of them will "cleanup" nicely when I go to edit and tag them. I did 60 scans today in over three hours. It's difficult to type in the chat box, keep the scanner going, and read blogs all at the same time! It was nice and quiet here, since Linda was out to lunch with friends, and I could concentrate on the tasks at hand. Of course, I missed lunch but I did snack a bit.

I scanned the pictures as TIF files, and used over 230 mb of hard drive space for these 60 images. I need to clean them up, save them as JPG files, and share them with my kids and brothers, and perhaps even my readers as part of my Family Photograph series.

Best of the Genea-Blogs - July 20-26, 2008

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 Carnival of Genealogy, 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:

* Research Delivered and Research Delivered - Finding and Managing Subscriptions by Denise Olson on the Family Matters blog. Denise has plenty of excellent advice and examples on how to efficiently manage research and information in our online genealogy world. This is worthy of a magazine article!

* George Carlin Goes Upstairs by Sharon Elliott on the BackTrack blog. Sharon proves that poor George's quote about his grandfather doing dirty word #3 to his grandmother were inaccurate. I'm glad Sharon is back to keep us all on track, and laughing too.

* A Great Weekend by Craig Manson on the Geneablogie blog. His Honor, Judge Manson officiates at his nephew's wedding and tells us all the inside scoop. Well done, Craig - sounds like you had a marvelous time.

* Electric Ladyland by L.H. Crawley on The Virtual Dime Museum blog. An electric what? You have to read about this piece of underwear from the 1880's...scary stuff. Interesting article about something mysterious to many of us.

* Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age? and Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age - Dissemination by Janet Hovorka on The Chart Chick blog. Janet asks hard questions and gives great answers in the first two post in this series.

* The Case of the $12 Box Coat by Becky Wiseman on the Kinexxions blog. Becky explores a mystery concerning her 3rd-GGF and finds some really interesting documents in the process. Excellent research!

* Creative Non-Fiction - Factual & Fascinating and A Good Question by footnoteMaven on the footnoteMaven blog. fM explains the concept of Creative Non-fiction and then provides some examples of her own CNF work as good examples. Now we all want to read more of this stuff! And try to write it, too.

* DAR's 117th Continental Congress by Elizabeth O'Neal on the Little Bytes of Life blog. Elizabeth takes us with her on her trip to Washington DC. Read as she visits the Archives and the DAR library, and enjoys the sights too.

* Future of b y the blogger who writes The Ancestry Insider. Some excellent "insider's scoop" from the AI who is leaving for I'm sure that he will continue to provide insight into the inner workings of Please read the comments to this post - lots of good insight and questions. I wonder how many of the Anonymous posters work at

* Top Ten Signs Your Ancestor was a SuperHero by Chris Dunham on The Genealogue blog. Chris gives us another superb list just in time for the Batman movie. Funny stuff!

* Oil Heritage Week and Your Genealogy by Arlene Eakle on the Arlene H. Eakle Genealogy Blog. Arlene's advice is excellent concerning sources and indexes and encourages all of us to volunteer to index, abstract, transcribe, teach, etc. in order to keep genealogy research open and vibrant.

* TGG Interview Series IX - Ana Oquendo Pabon by Blaine Bettinger on The Genetic Genealogist blog. Blaine's ninth interview with people in the DNA/Genetics field is one of the best. Dra. Ana is one of the mainstays on the Unclaimed Persons Project on Facebook, and it was fascinating to see her biographical details and her experience in genetic research.

* July 25- Friday From the Collectors features Janet Hovorka (The Chart Chick) on footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed blog. Janet writes about using photographs on family history charts. The work is absolutely beautiful.

* 20 Things That Make Genealogy Fun by Joe Beine on the Genealogy Roots Blog. Joe has a funny list - especially #20 "my ancestors are cooler than yours."

* Maximizing Research & Time at the Library by Sharon Gayle on the Family History Research: Methods and Writing on Genealogy blog. Sharon links to a PDF of her treatise with this title. It is excellent advice for those of us heading off to a distant library on vacation.

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 - we all appreciate feedback on what we write.

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