Thursday, April 30, 2009

NARA: Flu Pandemic of 1918

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at the National Archives. Please address all inquiries to

With concerns of a new flu pandemic, a look back at an old one

Washington, DC. . . The following is a document alert -- part of a program sponsored by the National Archives to notify the media of documents and images in the National Archives holdings that are relevant to national holidays, anniversaries or current events. This program, which is based on original records from the National Archives, its 12 Presidential libraries and 13 regional archives, is designed to offer the media an historical perspective on events that occur periodically and to highlight historical antecedents to current political or diplomatic initiatives.

This alert is based on a National Archives online exhibit titled "Deadly Virus, the Influenza Epidemic of 1918," at
This site offers high-res downloads of documents and images from that time.

True or False?
The influenza epidemic of 1918 killed more people than died in World War I.

Hard as it is to believe, the answer is true.

World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.

The plague emerged in two phases. In late spring of 1918, the first phase, known as the "three-day fever," appeared without warning. Few deaths were reported. Victims recovered after a few days. When the disease resurfaced that fall, it was far more severe. Scientists, doctors, and health officials could not identify this disease which was striking so fast and so viciously, eluding treatment and defying control. Some victims died within hours of their first symptoms.
Others succumbed after a few days; their lungs filled with fluid and they suffocated to death.

The plague did not discriminate. It was rampant in urban and rural areas, from the densely populated East coast to the remotest parts of Alaska. Young adults, usually unaffected by these types of infectious diseases, were among the hardest hit groups along with the elderly and young children. The flu afflicted over 25 percent of the U.S. population. In one year, the average life expectancy in the United States dropped by 12 years.

It is an oddity of history that the influenza epidemic of 1918 has been overlooked in the teaching of American history. Documentation of the disease is ample, as shown in the records selected from the holdings of the National Archives regional archives.

Repairmen tripped the alarm

Regarding the evacuation of the Family History Library in my previous blog entry, apparently an "all clear" has been stated. One of my cell phone friends called back to state she was able to return to her microfilm reader and tells me that a Library worker explained the emergency evacuation alarm was inadvertantly tripped by a repairmen.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

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© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to /. Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

Family History Library being evacuated now

Ol' Myrt here has just received two cell phone calls from researchers at the the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah who report the building is being evacuated. The alarm sounding in the background was readily apparent. At the time of the first cell phone call, Ol' Myrt here was on a conference call on my other line with someone at the Library. The alarms interrupted, and our virtual meeting was cut short.

I've contacted the local television station to determine the cause, but the information has only come to their attention by my phone call.

I will not speculate as to the cause. However, if you are in Salt Lake City for research at the Family History Library, you might want to rethink your plans today, and watch for updates on the local news.

Ol' Myrt here will keep you informed.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

DearMYRTLE's Facebook® Group Message Board
© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to . Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NARA: Prologue - Spring 2009 issue

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at the National Archives. Please address all inquiries to

Spring Prologue Magazine Highlights National Archives Move into Kansas City New issue also features Harry S. Truman's 125th Birthday

Washington, D.C. . . . In May, the National Archives at Kansas City will open a new location in downtown Kansas City, MO, near historic Union Station. The new quarters and a special exhibit are described in the Spring 2009 issue of Prologue magazine, the official publication of the National Archives and Records Administration.

The new facility will be dedicated Memorial Day weekend, May 22-23, 2009. Highlights will include an official dedication with remarks by Acting Archivist of the United States Adrienne Thomas, an open house and history/genealogy fair, and a speech by Clifton Truman Daniel, former President Harry S. Truman's oldest grandson. Performances by the 312th Army band will precede and follow his remarks. Tours of the new facility and exhibits, It's Big! and The Kansas-Nebraska Act, will be available, along with family activities. For more information see

Harry S. Truman, whose standing among the public and historians has steadily risen since he left office several generations ago, is remembered on the 125th anniversary of his birth in this new issue of Prologue. Three articles written especially for the issue - including one by grandson Clifton Truman Daniel - explore Truman's devotion to history and his views of historians; his relationship with artist Thomas Hart Benton, who created the famous mural in the Harry S.
Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri; and his role as a grandfather to daughter Margaret's four boys.

Samuel Rushay, supervisory archivist at the Truman Library, recounts in "Harry Truman's History Lessons" the former President's lifelong abiding interest in history and the lessons he drew from it.

"Truman's view of historians went beyond indifference; it bordered on contempt," writes Rushay. "In 1950, he lectured a newspaperman .

. . that 'real history consists of the life and actions of great men.

. . . Historians editorializing is in the same class as the modern irresponsible columnist.'"

Raymond Geselbracht, a longtime Prologue contributor from the Truman Library staff, recalls the initial frosty relationship between Truman and Benton. The bond between the two eventually warmed, Geselbracht writes, and "each time [Benton visited,] the two men sat together in Truman's office and shared some friendly conversation and a glass of bourbon."

Clifton Truman Daniel recalls Truman's post-presidential years as grandfather: "I was six years old before I discovered that my grandfather had been President of the United States. That's because my parents kept it from me. Up to that time, Grandpa Truman was just someone who came around from time to time and was either to be accorded a great deal of respect or avoided entirely."

Special activities at the Truman Library are planned for May 8 and 9.
For details, see

Copies of this issue of Prologue are for sale in the gift shops at the Truman Library at 500 West U.S. Highway 24 in Independence and at the National Archives at Kansas City at 400 West Pershing Rd. in Kansas City, MO. For subscription information go to

National Archives at Kansas City
One of 13 Regional Archives, the National Archives at Kansas City will hold Federal records from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, along with select material from Minnesota and the Dakotas. Among its holdings are original records of the U.S. District Courts, U.S. Attorneys, Bureau of Prisons, Steamboat Inspection Service, Bureau of Indians Affairs, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, National Parks Service, and microfilm publications of many of the nation's most significant records.

Treasures of the National Archives at Kansas City include records relating to the milestone Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, Wild West showman "Buffalo Bill" Cody, President Ulysses S. Grant, and Walt Disney which are among the 50,000 cubic feet of records in its holdings.

For more information about National Archives programs and exhibits, go to

Pharos: new tutors & class schedule

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at Pharos. Please address all inquiries to

Pharos students clamour for more courses

Four new teachers join to help meet the demand

There is no sign of the credit crunch at specialist online tutors, Pharos. Demand from students who have enjoyed Pharos online genealogy courses and want more, mean that four new teachers have been recruited to bring new subjects to Pharos:

Chris Paton of Scotland’s Greatest Story, former BBC producer, turned professional genealogist will be taking over existing course Scottish Research Online, and developing some further Scottish courses.

Ruth Davies, a qualified archivist from Flintshire, North Wales, brings her knowledge of palaeography to the online world in a short course on Old Handwriting for Family Historians.

Kirsty Gray, genealogy addict since the age of seven, and secondary school teacher brings her love and knowledge of Devon to Discover Your Devon Ancestors.

Barbara Baker, staff member at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and long-time genealogy teacher in the US, will be teaching about Organization for Genealogists.

All four offer a wealth of teaching and research experience.

Pharos Teaching & Tutoring started only 3 years ago with just five courses and three teachers and is pleased to announce that six brand new courses are being scheduled for the rest of 2009 and even more are in the process of development. There is now truly something for everyone, with an expanded list of subjects and time periods. All Pharos courses are short, reasonably priced and designed to fit in with busy lifestyles. Full information is on the Pharos website

Updated Course list May to October 2009
  • 21 May – Ireland: A Practical Approach to Family History – 5 weeks £42.99
  • 28 May – I’m Stuck, How Can the Society of Genealogists Help Me? [NEW] – 2 weeks £23.99
  • 2 June – The National Archives Catalogue – Finding People – 3 weeks £29.99
  • 10 June – The Poor, the Parish and The Workhouse: Records in the 18th and 19th centuries – 5 weeks £42.99
  • 23 June – Victorian Families: Your Ancestors in the Census – 5 weeks £42.99
  • 2 July – I’m Stuck, How Can the Society of Genealogists Help Me? [NEW, repeated] – 2 weeks £23.99
  • 6 July– Discover Your Devon Ancestors [NEW] – 4 weeks £37.99
  • 9 July – Scotland 1750 – 1850: Beyond the OPRs – 5 weeks £42.99
  • 13 July – The Parish Chest. More to life than baptism, marriage and death [NEW] – 4 weeks £37.99
  • 27 July – Old Handwriting for Family Historians [NEW] – 3 weeks £29.99
  • 24 August – Scottish Research Online – 5 weeks £42.99
  • 3 September– Your Family in England 1714 – 1830 [NEW] – 3 weeks £29.99
  • 8 September – Become a Better Genealogist: Research in England & Wales – 6 weeks £49.99
  • 17 September – Introduction to One-Name Studies – 5 weeks £42.99
  • 2 October – Writing Your Family History – 3 weeks £29.99
  • 6 October – Military Men and Women: Records of Britain’s Armed Forces – 5 weeks £42.99
  • 7 October – Victorian Crime and Punishment: Links from Court Records – 6 weeks £49.99
  • 13 October – Researching Irish Ancestors before 1820 – 6 weeks £49.99
  • 24 October – Organizing Your Genealogy [NEW] – 3 weeks £29.99

More new courses are in development and will be announced later in the year in time for our 2010 schedule.

Pharos was the first British company to provide online classes aimed specifically at helping researchers with British and Irish ancestry. Students can register and pay on the website at . Arrangements for courses are simple and flexible making it easy to get started, study in your own time without having to travel, get help from experienced teachers, and chat about family history with other students. Courses are aimed at beginners and experienced researchers alike.

Course Director, Sherry Irvine believes that everyone will find new research ideas as well as renewed confidence and enthusiasm for their family history in every Pharos course.

For more information on courses at Pharos, email -

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 More relevant search results coming Wednesday

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at This new search algorithm is a welcome change, one Ol' Myrt here has long lobbied for. Please address all inquiries to

More relevant search results are coming Wednesday
From the Blog
posted by Anne Mitchell

There is a long list of things we want to improve in search (and in new search in particular) – and we’ve started with what you’ve told us is the most important – getting relevant results; and relevance is our top priority this year in search.

And date relevance seems to be the most requested change. If you tell us grandpa died in 1910, you really don’t want to see a 1930 census record.

Making places more relevant and names more relevant are also important, but dates seem to be the one thing we’ve heard the most about. And not to worry, we will get to places and names as well.

So, sometime Wednesday around noon EDT (that’s about 4pm GMT, and about 9am PDT) , you will start to see some changes in your results for ranked search.And when you’ve got billions of names and records this stuff takes a while to roll out, so I can’t pinpoint the exact time. But this is reasonably close.

Here are the changes we’ve made:
  • If you are searching for someone and you just know a birth year, we will assume the person lived about 100 years. And we will only return records from the birth year - 5, and birthdates + 102.
  • If you are searching for someone and you just know a death date, we will again assume the person lived about 100 years, and we will only return records from the death year - 105 to death year+2.
  • If you put in both a birth year and a death year, we will return records between birth year - 2 to death year + 2.

Why did we choose a 5 year “fudge factor” for birth year and a 2 year “fudge factor” for death year? We’ve spent a lot of time with census records, and vital records, and when those dates are wrong, they usually fall into that range.

I’m going to try and guess at some of your questions. If you have other questions about the changes we made to make dates more relevant, please post them in the comments.


  • So what if I use a range on the birth or death year? If you have a birth year of 1850, and choose a range of +-2, and a death year of 1904 +- 10, then we will look for records between (1850-2-5) and (1904+10+2) or 1843 and 1916.
  • Why do we use a fudge factor? Because our ancestors were absolutely horrible with dates and getting them right. Our tests show that a “fudge factor” of five for birth year and two for death year gets better results.
  • What if I don’t want the fudge factor added in? Then add five to the birth year, or subtract two from the death year and you’ve outsmarted the system. I wouldn’t recommend it; you may be outsmarting yourself.
  • Should I mark dates exact? Depends. Death date is usually a very bad date to mark exact, because so few records have a death date. So enter the death date as limiting factor, but don’t mark it exact unless you are specifically looking for records that have that exact date in them. Birth year shows up in lots of records, so that is a better choice for exact, though that does require that a record have a birth year or an age. And remember, you can mark exact and a range, and that will match anything exactly in the range. I recommend this strongly for birth year.
  • What if I see a record that looks like it should be date filtered out of my results set, i.e., I put in death date of 1903, and it’s from 1920? It probably means we haven’t reindexed that data set yet — we’ve covered about 95% of all eligible records for launch. Feel free to leave the name of the data set in a comment on this blog post and we’ll make sure it gets onthe list. We are working our way through all of our data sets, but we started with some of the biggest and most commonly surfaced in our search results.
  • What if I don’t want you to date filter for me? If you don’t use dates at all, we can’t and won’t lifespan filter. Or you can type in a broader range of dates to include more records. But this one is a no brainer, as many of you have pointed out — lifespan filtering is going to give you better results. Now when we launch place filtering (hmm….wonder if that is a hint of things to come soon…) we will make that something you choose or not choose, because you will need more control over that.

This is a new addition to our algorithm, so if you have questions, this is the place. I’ll be keeping an eye on this blog post.

This will benefit both old and new search, but we really think you’ll see the difference most in the new search interface. There are many more improvements to come, and in the meantime, I’d encourage you to take a fresh look at new search and see how much this has improved the results you see.

One other thing – we’ve also heard from a number of people that you like to use new search for some types of search, and old search for others – but that switching between them is a pain. To make this easier, we’ve just retired the “introduction page” and introduced a simple link in the yellow bar at the top of the page to enable you to switch easily between the two searches. This will be available tomorrow (Wednesday) as well.

Happy Searching!

Footnote: April included 1 million new images

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: Great things are happening at, as this recent posting from our Footnote friends indicates. Please address all inquiries to

From: Footnote Content Update April 2009
It pays to check back with from time to time. We continually work to complete our collections and this past month we added over a million new images to existing collections on Here are just a few of the collections that have been significantly updated in April:

Access these new records and over 50 million more records on by taking advantage of our best offer of the year.

Click here to get your Annual All-Access Membership for only $55.95. This offer ends April 30, 2009.

To see a list of all the records on including what has been updated, click here.

Content Tip:Receive an email when more images are added to a collection by clicking on the Watch button on any collection page.

FamilySearch: Publishing online Portuguese Collection

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at FamilySearch. Please address all inquires to

FamilySearch Publishes Its First Online Portuguese Collection

Millions of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro Civil Registration Records Now Digitally Searchable on the Web

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch added the Brazil, Rio de Janeiro Civil Registration to its online collection—about 4.5 million new digital images. The free collection contains searchable digital images of the original birth, marriage, and death records from all of the municipalities in the state of Rio de Janeiro from 1889 to 2006. The new digital images can be searched for free at (click Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot).

The published records cover births up to 1930, marriages to 1950, and deaths up to 2006. There are an estimated 18 million names in the free online digital collection. FamilySearch continues to film civil registration records in Rio de Janeiro and will update the collection as applicable.

Prior to now, the Rio de Janeiro Civil Registration records were only available in archive offices in Brazil or on microfilm through one of FamilySearch’s family history centers worldwide. FamilySearch digitized the collection—over 2,500 microfilms, spanning 117 years of vital records—and published them online for free public access.

“Now instead of ordering some of the films and traveling to a local family history center to use it, researchers worldwide can search any of the 2,500 films digitally and freely online from the comfort of their home,” said Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager. “Family history enthusiasts with Rio de Janeiro ancestors have just been handed a big-time free gift,” added Nauta.

FamilySearch’s online digital image viewer makes it easy to search the historical documents. Patrons can quickly navigate from a Rio de Janeiro municipality down to individual towns. Simply click on a town, and the images are typically divided up by birth, marriage, death, and a year range—making it very convenient to comb through the original records for that town during a specific period in search of a Brazilian ancestor from Rio de Janeiro. Digital images can also be printed or saved electronically.

“Civil registrations (Registros Civis) are the vital records made by the Brazilian government and are an excellent source of accurate information on names, dates, and vital events,” said Lynn Turner, FamilySearch collection manager records specialist for Latin America. “The new digital image collection online is extremely important for those doing genealogical research in Rio de Janeiro because they document critical events in a person’s life and cover such a large percentage of the population—and they are freely accessible to anyone with Internet access,” concluded Turner.

Civil records were kept for all the population, including the Catholics and the non-Catholics. There was a large infusion of non-Catholics in Brazil after the 1880s. The civil registration records are an important public record of this section of the population as well.

FamilySearch has the largest collection of Brazilian vital records outside of Brazil. Currently these records are available to the public on microfilm through FamilySearch’s 4,500 family history centers worldwide or affiliate public libraries. FamilySearch plans to continue expanding online access to its Brazil collections. Pernambuco and ParanĂ£ will be the next state civil registrations added to the collection.

MyHeritage: Not to worry

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: As anticipated, Daniel Horowitz from MyHeritage wrote back nearly immediately to my previous blog entry “Help - Errors/Crash MyHeritage FTB”. This initial reply assures Desarai that her data is secure.

Hello Myrt and Desarai,
This email is just to clarify a few things and promise you more answers very shortly.

The first and most important thing is to assure you that Desarai's data is safe on her computer, even though the program crashed (which by the way has nothing to do with the website being down). All project data is stored in a folder named "MyHeritage" in "MyDocuments", so even if you delete the program, the data will still be there. IF you did a publish from the Family Tree Builder, then you have a back-up in our servers.

[Next Daniel gave my anxious reader a backdoor method for downloading a fix for her MyHeritage Family Tree Builder software, since the main MyHeritage website is down.]

As DearMYRTLE said before, we would love to "catch up" on the situation, but I understand that the concern of not seeing your data can be much bigger, so there is no problem if you just re-install the software. As soon as the program is re-installed it will detect the previous project you had.

If you have any problems or questions, do not hesitate to contact me directly at any time. ;-)

The last point I would like to answer here is the supposedly "weekly maintenance". This is just a very old hard-coded page, as you can see because of the "Beta" button and in the bottom of the image were it say "Copyright © 2005-2006 MyHeritage, Ltd." MyHeritage does not perform weekly maintenance and leave the users "hanging" for a few hours.

Right now I'm not at the office, as here in Israel (where we DON'T have our servers) is Independence Day (but I'm always on duty ;-). So it will take a little more time for me to get the rest of the answers.

I really hope Desarai issue will solve her software problems quickly, and that our servers will get back online very soon.

The complete answers to the questions will be on their way also very soon.

Thanks for your confidence and nice words about me.

Best regards
Daniel Horowitz
Genealogy and Translation Manager

MyHeritage Ltd.
Bnei Atarot 60991, Israel
Tel: 972-3-9702614
Fax: 972-3-9772473

Help - Errors/Crash MyHeritage FTB

See also: MyHeritage: Not to worry the initial response.

I noticed on your blog you are familiar with MyHeritage Family Tree Builder. I have been using this for over a month, amassing many many hours of research electronically from hard copy. Today when I went to open the program (it worked fine yesterday) I suddenly received an error and the program could not open. I had the option to send an error report, or not, or debug. I tried restarting my computer, then tried removing the program and was taken to the MyHeritage website, which is down for maintenance, so no help there.

I was wondering if the site maintenance may have interfered with the workings of my program. I have no way to save my zedcom files or turn my data into report for back-up if I can’t get this program to work again. Do you have any idea what may have caused this, or how I might go about fixing the problem so I can get at my research and back on track?

If this program crash has caused me to lose all of my data, I will be heartbroken, and it seems the FTB converts GEDCOM files to ZEDCOM files… which means I can’t seem to open the backed up data files I do have in any other program. Any help you might be able to offer would be very much appreciated.

Oddly enough, I had planned to do another blog entry today on and how the software you’ve been using interfaces with both MyHeritage and Google to present possible research alternatives when connecting our trees with those others are creating at MyHeritage.

When Ol’ Myrt attempted to visit the website directly, up popped an announcement “Sorry, the site is currently undergoing weekly maintenance. Please visit us again in a few hours. If you wish to participate in our Beta, click the ‘Contact Us’ button.” So, as they say at NASA – “We have a problem, Houston.”

My initial reaction is to first congratulate you for attempting to solve the problem by rebooting your computer. Frequently, rebooting can clear your computer’s memory, and render the use of a malfunctioning program operable once more. If not, one is usually advised to reinstall the program an option clearly not possible in this situation, since the website in question isn’t available to obtain a fresh download of the program installation file. Do not attempt to uninstall the program or anything. We want to give MyHeritage a chance to catch up with us on this situation.

My second reaction is that it does appear access to the website is a critical component to the use of Family Tree Builder. Not being a coder for the software, I don’t have the exact answers but I will write to my contact Daniel Horowitz immediately and address your concerns with him post haste. He is a good guy, and I know he will get back to me immediately. Ol’ Myrt here will be away from my desk for about three hours this morning, so that may preclude my follow-up blog with his reply until later today.

My third reaction is to consider those of us in the western hemisphere are on a different time schedule than the servers for MyHeritage, a company based in Israel. Most websites perform maintenance on a schedule that permits peak usage access. We may not be in those elite time zones. But, if MyHeritage wishes to infiltrate the US/Canada market, changes in their business practices may be required. always posts a “we’ll be back” blog entry letting subscribers know what’s happening. The MyHeritage Blog is accessible today, but there is no comment about the service outage.

A major website is down for “a few hours” every single week? That seems peculiar to me. Facebook would never survive on that type of service schedule.

If a big change is in the offing, certainly, an explanatory email should have gone out to all users a week or so in advance. But then, even a major challenge like moving servers from one facility to another doesn’t take that long. For instance, there was only a short delay of a day or two when physically moved their servers from one location to Ancestry’s server farm.

Routinely rebuilding indices of ancestor names, dates and places, photos, etc., is probably the challenge. MyHeritage is extremely popular outside the US/Canada market, a fact that eluded Ol’ Myrt for quite a while, being as US-centric as I am.

My questions for Daniel at are:

  • Certainly this user and Ol’ Myrt are missing the boat, so please assure us that most likely Desarai’s hundreds of hours of data entry are not lost.
  • Why is the MyHeritage website down for so long every single week?
  • What provisions are made to ensure that Family Tree Builders users can access their compiled data when not connected to the internet?
  • Since this provision isn’t immediately obvious, can a pop-up interface be added soon explaining the phenomenon as an alternative to the notice two users faced this morning.
  • Where does this user’s data exist? On your servers or her home PC?
  • Explain Family Tree Builder’s compatibility with the generic GEDCOM file format, readily accepted by all main-stream genealogy programs.
  • Describe backup (perhaps in generic zipped file format) in place with Family Tree Builder.

I have every confidence that Daniel will get back to me shortly.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

DearMYRTLE's Facebook® Group Message Board
© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

Where ARE those darned organization checklists?

This your friend Lin in the UK again. I am having great difficulties finding your monthly organisational checklists every month. Another one of your fans in the US is having to forward them on to me. Can you please tell me the best way to find them.

Dear Lin,
THANKS for reading Ol’ Myrt’s blog! The advantage of the Internet is that we have no real boundaries.

You might consider subscribing to my free RSS feed (using FeedBlitz) or iGoogle, to automatically receive all of my DearMYRTLE blogs.

The archive of blogs already sent out is located at: . When you visit the site, you'll find the FeedBlitz and other subscription options available on the right-side navigation bar.

The newest versions of DearMYRTLE’s monthly organization checklists are released the first day of the month, and the titles to date are:

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

DearMYRTLE's Facebook® Group Message Board
© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to . Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jacksonville: Virtual library tour

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was posted on the GeneaLib Mailing List. Ol' Myrt applauds such efforts on the part of librarians who wish to give a "heads up" to potential researchers. Please address all inquiries to David White, Librarian as indicated below.

Here at the Jacksonville Public Library, on Saturday, April 25th, we had an all day genealogy seminar. We had a wonderful speaker, Jana Sloan Boglin, who spoke on a variety of topics, and in costume at one point.

After her segment where she was in costume, we had the debut of the virtual tour of our genealogy department. This was produced in-house, with an ultra-zoom point-and-shoot camera, and nothing major in post production was done.

This type of tour would be a great way to get the word out about your collection and generate visits to your department.

We hope you enjoy.

David A. White
Genealogy Collection
Main Library
Jacksonville Public Library
303 North Laura Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Phone: 904-630-2409

Adopted or biological lines?

I have been perplexed for some time with this issue and don't know where to turn. When doing my genealogy, my father was adopted and my problem is this, do I do use the biological lineage or the adoptive lineage for him? Most programs that I have found do not allow for both. Is there a solution for this?


The main stream genealogy programs allow you to add multiple sets of parents to an individual, so that you may document your work on both the adopted and biological lines. For directions, click HELP on the menu bar.

Since I don’t know if you have a PC or a Mac, may I suggest looking for genealogy management programs listed at

It has been a few years since OlMyrt spoke up at The Villages in Florida. You have a wonderful local genealogy society that I recommend joining. There you discover what other folks are using to track their ancestors' information. Sometimes it is a good idea to obtain the program that most people in your area are using. That way, as you start out, you’ll have a large pool of experienced users to meet and ask questions of when you get in a pinch.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

DearMYRTLE's Facebook® Group Message Board
© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Missouri History Museum

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at the Missouri History Museum. Please address all inquiries to Dennis Northcott, Associate Archivist for Reference,

Recently the Missouri History Museum launched the Genealogy and Local History Index -- -- which includes references to hundreds of thousands of our St. Louis ancestors. In this index, you can search by personal name, business/corporate name, or street address. (The latter search option is designed primarily for those researching the history of their home and its former residents.) You can also sign up for our email list to receive monthly announcements of new sources that are added to the index.

Among the more than 240 sources in the Genealogy and Local History Index are the following: more than 5,000 Civil War-era loyalty oaths signed by St. Louisans; many high school and other school yearbooks from the first half of the 20th century; local Who's Who publications; company employee magazines; a few mid-19th-century, nonfederal St. Louis-area censuses; questionnaires filled out by World War I servicemen; records and publications relating to Civil War veterans; and much more.

Please note that the Genealogy and Local History Index is an INDEX to selected books, publications, documents, and photographs in the holdings of the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. You cannot view a digital image of the actual source online. If you find references in the index that interest you, you can request a photocopy online.
(Copies will be mailed in 1-2 business days.)

Please also visit our new Family History--Get Started page --- --- to learn about additional catalogs, guides, and indexes.

Also, our Genealogy Links page -- -- provides links to websites that may help you find information on your St. Louis ancestors.

Read more about the Genealogy and Local History Index in Voices, the online magazine of the Missouri History Museum:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bellevue FHC: Mary Slawson's classes

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at the Bellevue, Washington Family History Center. This is the FHC that my Dad and his friend Bob Hage remodeled, repurposing it from a Boy Scout building to a nice-sized FHC. Please address all inquiries to the Center by calling 425-454-2690.

Attention: Family History Sleuths!

The Family Finder Series of classes will be held each Tuesday beginning May 5th and ending June 9th, 2009. Two classes will be held each week:
  • Beginner Series from 10-11 a.m.
  • Advanced Series from 11-12 noon.
All classes are free and will be taught by Mary H. Slawson, noted genealogist, author, & radio personality.

Classes will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 10675 NE 20th Street, Bellevue, WA 98009. Call the Bellevue Family History Center at 425-454-2690 to register.

Class schedule:

May 5
  • Beginner: The Basics of Getting Started
  • Advanced: Tips and Tricks for Making Legacy Work For You
May 12:
  • Beginner: Gathering & Analyzing Home Records
  • Advanced: Doing Better Personal Interviews
May 19:
  • Beginner: Jurisdictions and Record Types
  • Advanced: Surnames & Jumping the Pond
May 26:
  • Beginner: Find Your Ancestor Using Research Strategy
  • Advanced: Preserving Your Family History
June 2:
  • Beginner: Gazetteers & Maps Make All the Difference
  • Advanced: Proof, Standards, & Becoming a Professional Researcher
June 9:
  • Beginner: On-Line Repositories for Vital Records
  • Advanced: Using Your Family History: Associations, Collective Research, Writing & Publishing

Friends of the Bellevue Washington FHC

Thursday, April 23, 2009

FamilySearch: Volunteers Transcribe 250 Million Historical Records

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at FamilySearch. Please address all inquiries to

Volunteers Transcribe 250 Million Historical Records
Incredible Effort Speeds Up Access to Online Genealogical Information

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch volunteers reached a monumental milestone this week, transcribing their 250 millionth historical record. The incredible online initiative started in January 2006 with a few thousand volunteers and has now grown to be the largest Web-based initiative of its kind with over 100,000 volunteers worldwide. The 250 millionth record was part of the current Nicaragua Civil Registration indexing project online at—one of 45 projects being indexed by online volunteers. It was extracted by three different online indexers from Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras.

FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical collections in the world—2.5 million rolls of microfilm and millions of additional digital images from over 100 countries worldwide.

For decades, FamilySearch has allowed the public to use its collection for free through 4,500 family history centers throughout the world. In 2005, it began to improve access to its collection by converting microfilm to digital images that could be searched online. The next step was to create an online tool that volunteers around the world could use to look at the digital images and extract relevant data that could then be published online in searchable indexes linked to the digital images. FamilySearch Indexing is that tool.

“What makes the 250 million record milestone even more impressive is the fact that each record was actually indexed at least twice to ensure accuracy,” reported Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager. “The result is an amazing searchable online index for people around the world,” Nauta added.

The unique quality control process means each document is transcribed by two different indexers. In the case of the 250 millionth record, the two indexers were from Nicaragua and Guatemala. Any discrepancies in their two transcriptions were then forwarded to a third volunteer—an arbitrator—who would have made any needed corrections between the two transcriptions. In this case, that arbitrator was from Honduras. “Three volunteers, three countries, one common goal—to provide access to the world’s genealogical records quicker and more economically,” said Nauta.

In 2006, FamilySearch volunteers indexed a total of 11 million records. “Today, thanks to the growth in our volunteer numbers, FamilySearch volunteers are now transcribing about a million names per day. At that rate, we expect to hit the 500 million milestone much quicker than the 250 million marker,” added Nauta.

Today, tens of thousands of volunteers, young and old, log on to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from all over the world to help with the ongoing goal to transcribe the world’s genealogical records. Some donate a few minutes a month, others hours a day. Some do it as a sort of “pay it forward” activity because they have personally benefited in their family history research by using FamilySearch’s collections over the years. Others help because they like the idea that just a little bit of donated time can help preserve historic information and make it more available for public access.

Completed indexes are ultimately made available online for public access through or through one of FamilySearch’s family history centers.

FamilySearch, at any given time, has over 35 online indexing projects underway—many of them international projects. “Volunteers usually have a preference for one type of indexing project over another,” said Paul Starkey, FamilySearch Indexing project manager. “For example, if you have ancestors from Spain, you might be very motivated to help index the Spain Catholic Church records because it could facilitate your personal research once the completed indexes are published online.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or seeing what projects are being indexed can do so at

Ford's Theater: The Civil War

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following press release comes from our friends at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC. Ol' Myrt is please to be attending an evening presentation in early May with a genealogy friend who is celebrating his 60th birthday.

Civil War

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Ford’s Theatre reopening season continues with the Tony-nominated The Civil War by Frank Wildhorn, Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy. Jeff Calhoun directs the production at Ford’s Theatre from March 27-May 24, 2009.

A landscape of the people, voices and sentiments of the American Civil War, this song-cycle is inspired by the words of Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln as well as the lives (as documented through letters, photographs and journals) of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

Drawing from the American musical genres of rock, country, gospel, folk and rhythm and blues,
The Civil War combines the stories of Union and Confederate soldiers, slaves, abolitionists and veterans in an unconventional musical composition. The production is staged in a concert-like setting with a live seven-piece band and vocalists who tell of freedom and patriotism.

“The Civil War utilizes Frank Wildhorn's sensational score to bear witness to the struggles of the past, and actively connect those struggles to our lives in the present day,” said director Jeff Calhoun. “This contemporary re-imagining, juxtaposed with historical elements, allows a diverse ensemble to simultaneously recall the slave experience, the lives of soldiers and the effects of war on families through a contemporary lens. It is hard to imagine a more poignant place than the Ford’s Theatre to present this production of The Civil War.”

This production is made possible by Nortel, Raytheon Company, ExxonMobil, Southern Company and The Freed Foundation. Ford’s Theatre stages are Built by The Home Depot. Chevron is a 2008-2009 season sponsor.

For information about this production, theater tours and tickets, visit:

LOC: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was jsut received from our friends at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Please address all inquiries through the LOC website.

April 22, 2009
Library to Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month will be celebrated by the Library of Congress during the month of May with several events, a display and a web presentation.

With a theme of "Lighting the Past, Present and Future" these events are free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Author Svetlana Kim will deliver the keynote address at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 7, in the Mumford Room, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Kim will discuss her new book, "White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political Refugee," which describes her journey from Korea to the United States and her rise from poverty to a successful career as a stockbroker. Kim, who arrived in New York in 1991, was inducted into the Asian Academy Hall of Fame in 2008. She shares this honor with former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

At noon on Tuesday, May 12, a presentation titled "Japanese Illustrators Then and Now" will feature James Miho, a Bauhaus illustrator, and Yuko Ota, a comic illustrator. It will be held in Dining Room C, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building.

At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20, a program titled "Who Is Babysitting Whom?" will be held in the Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Madison Building. The program, which will explore the Asian tradition of respect for elders, will feature a 22-minute film titled "I Wanna Babysit Lola;" special guest, centenarian Remy Cabacungun; and a display of multigenerational family photos from the Library of Congress Asian American Association.

Hawaiian dancers will perform at noon on Tuesday, May 26, in the Montpelier Room, located on the sixth floor of the Madison Building.

The Library of Congress’s extensive holdings include millions of items pertaining to Asia and Asian Pacific Americans. A display featuring some of these items will be on view throughout May in the foyer of the Madison Building.

On May 1, the Library will launch an online resource page at

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NERGC: Silent Auction

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: This is just in from our friends at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC).

Not attending NERGC this year? You can still participate!!

As part of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC), there will be a silent auction. A system has been created to accept bids via email for those interested who cannot be there in person. There will be separate auctions on Friday and Saturday.

Some of the items being auctioned off include a terrific variety of genealogy books, several World Deluxe Membership, research services at the Family History Library, research services at the National Library and Archives in Ottawa, genealogy lectures on CD and much, much more. This is a great chance to get a bargain!

In order to bid via email you must pre-register.

Please see for details.

Marian Pierre-Louis

Ancestral hedgerows & group support

Last night Ol’ Myrt here went to bed with her head reeling over all the stuff about yesterday. I appreciate that the comments from “MSF” also included his positive reaction to the use of the website.

As to the creation of genealogy mailing lists and message boards, Ol’ Myrt here agrees with fellow genea-blogger Hugh Watkins of Genealoge who recently offered two suggestions for my review. He wrote: “My own experience of Yahoo and (private) Google genealogy groups is that they live or die according the amount of look-ups done.

Both are very successful with a back office full of transcriptions and spin off websites and are worthy of your attention. Both groups have very knowledgeable local genealogists at their centre."

So, I checked out the FROME group and discovered they are indeed very active, with 7 new members and 43 new posts in the last seven days. From the site we read: “This group is for sharing information relating to family and social history in the Hundred of Frome, Somerset, namely the parishes of Beckington, Berkley, Cloford, Elm, Frome Selwood, Laverton, Lullington, Marston Bigot, Nunney, Orchardleigh, Road/Rode, Rodden, Standerwick, Wanstrow, Whatley and Woolverton. It also includes the adjacent Liberties of East Cranmore, Leigh upon Mendip, Mells and Witham Friary and the Peculiar of Buckland Dinham.” Though one’s membership in this group must be approved by the owner, there is a complementary website at .

Next, I visited the MONFH group, which is an abbreviation for the Monmouthsire county in England, and learned that “this group is for the discussion and research of Family History in the County of Monmouthshire where you can Post enquiries, upload and download Pics & files. There are Family History Website Links in Bookmarks, Place your F.H surnames in the Database section. We have a vast amount of Census indexes, Parish record transcripts, Monumental Inscriptions, Wills and many other records to help you. My name is Mike John, I am the group moderator, I live in Monmouthshire and have 15 years solid experience of researching and collecting information about hundreds of Monmouthshire families.” This group also requires approval of the moderator before one may join and view all content.

Members of these Yahoo genealogy groups benefit from a full-featured web presence including:

  • Messages (to be distributed as the occur, daily, or not per each member’s preference)
  • Archive of messages
  • File library
  • Photos
  • Links
  • Database capability
  • Polls
  • List of members
  • Calendar

Now THAT'S the spirit! Join with like-minded researchers, and help each other hurdle over those ancestral hedgerows. Find them using Google, Cyndi's List or at the site created by John Fuller's recently revised Genealogy Resouces on the Internet, where he now focuses on mailing lists.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

DearMYRTLE's Facebook® Group Message Board
© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ancestry's Town Hall Meeting 4 May 2009

From: Ankt (a Second Life friend)
Just in case you didn't see this. Interesting timing.

---- Forwarded message ------

Date: Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 5:56pm
Subject: Joins us at the Town Hall Meeting.

This event is only for our World Deluxe members and will give you a chance to hear from our senior management team, hear questions from your fellow members and find out what is in store for the rest of the year.

This is an exclusive opportunity to shape the direction of and be heard. Have a burning question you want answered? Submit it ahead of time when you register.

We look forward to an open dialogue and hearing your thoughts.
Register now.

Great. The “first ever” town hall meeting features some top execs, and is described on the registration site as follows:

“We will share important news about your membership and outline the direction for the remainder of 2009, including key web site and collections projects. We will also take time to address questions from you, our loyal members (please enter any questions you have in the registration form below). This is an exclusive opportunity to learn what has in the works, ask your questions, and hear what’s on the mind of other members.”

The team members slated to attend the Town Hall include the same top execs the "secret blogger day" attendees met in January 2009.
  • Timothy P. Sullivan, CEO The Generations Network (TGN)
  • Andrew Wait, TGN Senior Vice President, General Manager of Family History
  • Gary Gibb, TGN Vice President, U.S. Content
  • Eric Shoup, TGN Vice President, Product

Note that your questions must be submitted in advance.

I think it is wonderful that the TGN is setting this up. One thing -- I thought a town meeting meant the floor was open to Q & A.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

DearMYRTLE's Facebook® Group Message Board
© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to . Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

Subscribing is a snap!

Ol' Myrt here has received emails from newbies who are unsure of how to subscribe to DearMYRTLE's (free) Genealogy Blog. Several had received a forwarded copy of a blog post, and are simply overwhelmed by the prospect of "RSS" (really simple syndication) technology.

If you know of a friend in this position, you might forward these directions to him.

RSS technology allows you to receive in one place numerous posts from various blogs and websites throughout the Internet. This is an improvement over having to go to each website to see if there is something new to read or explore. RSS feeds save you time and frustration over visiting a site each day that hasn't been updated for a week.

When Ol' Myrt here publishes a new posting at the DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog site, the RSS technology you selected will send you a copy at the place you specify.
Methods to receive the RSS FEED (or blog entry) are varied, including your personalized pages at Google, My Yahoo, Bloglines, Newsgator, and most email software programs.

The easiest way to enter a subscription to DearMYRTLE's Blog, is to visit and type your email address box on the right navigation bar. This will permit FeedBlitz to send you the updates on an immediate or daily basis directly to your email box.

More experienced online genealogists may click the "Posts" button, and select their blog reading preference.
Clicking "All Comments" allows one to subscribe using those alternate method to all the feedback postings by my DearREADERS.

You may click to add this blog to your Technorati Favorites.
And if Facebook is your thing, you may click to join the blog via Facebook.

Thanks for your continued support.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

READER'S FEEDBACK: How forthcoming IS Ancestry?

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: “Myrt’s Skype Friend” just now Skyped feedback regarding “How forthcoming IS Ancestry?" from an earlier posting today.

MSF said:
“Ancestry’s decision to remove the RootsWeb mailing list for users was counter-productive and short sighted. should not shut down any feedback mailing list and force feedback only through their approved message boards.

Cheshire Cat PR explanations don’t fit the bill. Members would appreciate taking serious look at comments, pro and con; and then saying ‘There’s a kernel of truth to this - let’s do something.’

No point in letting members continue to fall down the rabbit hole.

From my reading of genealogy mailing lists and blogs, and face-to-face discussions with fellow genealogists, several problems described by users of have existed for years. I heard they hired someone to fix the search engine, but nothing has really changed as far as I can tell. The look is different but not the out-of-context results.

If is truly interested in improving their service, they will actively seek out issues to fix and actually FIX them.

On the positive side, Ancestry’s TV advertisements pull new genealogists into the study of family history. Also, has a lot of quality content on the site. In my opinion, the price of an annual subscription is reasonable. I equate the $299 annual fee to the cost of one meal out at an OK restaurant each month. And in some places, it is a meal for two.

All in all, has a good product. Unfortunately, their corporate image masks this fact."

How forthcoming IS Ancestry?

Sub Title: A Visit with “Myrt’s Skype Friend”

Sub-Sub Title: Why Ol'Myrt cannot type fast enough to keep up with this burning issue today.

Last night during a Skype conversation with a friend, hereafter called “Myrt’s Skype Friend” or MSF for short, the topic of big corporations and challenges of being responsive to subscriber needs came up with the focus on how Ancestry conducts business.

As someone who has attended functions at NGS and FGS annual conferences for years, it is the impression of MSF that there is too much corporate hype and posturing and not enough response to member needs. MSF thinks the average Joe genealogist feels the same way.

Even though no longer an employee, Ol’ Myrt here humbly begged to differ, stating that has been reaching out more successfully since the fiasco of Ancestry’s now defunct American Biography Collection. That project was certainly brought to a halt due to protests by membership, and it was the first instance where I was aware that was truly responding to member feedback. (The majority of genealogy bloggers the stepped up to remind they don’t own the ancestral content others placed on the free pages at RootsWeb, and cannot then copyright those pages and include them in their paid subscription data area – hence the demise of the ABC.)

Myrt suggested to MSF the differences between’s stated policies and courses of action were brought to light with the emergence of “The Ancestry Insider” Blog. (Now that employee no longer works for Ancestry, and though his postings are still insightful and spare no punches, there is less info about the inside workings at MSF explains that you’d have to know about AI, in order to read his blogs. And with literally thousands of genealogy blogs out there, MSF doesn’t know how a newbie would ever catch on.

In fact, “Myrt’s Skype Friend” had just read the most current issue of Ancestry Magazine, and remarked “although the usually 1-page articles were informative, they were all about how to use” MSF also mentioned a lack of context, for instance, “if you cannot find it at, is that really a dead-end?” Myrt did acknowledge that competing genealogy magazines Family Chronicle and Family Tree Magazine aren’t restrained by limiting content discussion to the databases on a single website since neither are affiliated with a genealogy database website.

Myrt suggested to “Myrt’s Skype Friend” that it is easy to see what’s happening at Ancestry through at least the following blogs:

But when Ol’ Myrt decided to look at the website, she discovered it is not easy for those who haven’t followed the saga over the years to find the blogs that detail new procedures, options, website maintenance schedules, etc.

So just as Ol’ Myrt here was beginning to formulate the design of this blog entry, Beth Gay made a posting on the public APG Association of Professional Genealogists mailing list about the mailing list she created:

Beth Gay wrote:
I started a new mailing list for the discussion of topics relating to the subscription service, If you would like to become a member follow the instructions in this link:

Then Beth Gay wrote:
Unfortunately Ancestry has decided to remove this list from Rootsweb. This message was posted to the mailing list today:

Dear Ancestrycom List Members,
We wanted to let you know that in the next coming days the recently created Ancestrycom mailing list will be removed from the site. We definitely don't want to discourage discussion about the website, but currently there are two very active message boards dedicated to the discussion of One is called Ancestry Site Comments (mainly used for general comments about the site) and the other is called Ancestry Improvements (mainly used to submit suggested improvements and site feedback).

Ancestry Site Comments
On -

On -

Ancestry Improvements

On -

On -

Our Product Managers and other staff are active on these message boards and try to visit them regularly to read the recent posts. We are worried that with an additional outlet for discussion about we may not have enough staff to stay on top of things and may miss some of the comments that would have been made to the message boards. We want to make sure that we can understand everyone's feedback about the site and can offer our comments when it is helpful and keeping it focused on these two message boards will help with that.

Thanks in advance for your understanding as we try to use these messages boards instead of this new mailing list. We understand that some of you prefer to use mailing lists rather than the message boards and hope that this doesn't inconvenience you too much.


Anna Fechter
Community Operations Manager
The Generations Network
360 W 4800 N Provo, UT 84604 family tree maker

I was shocked to see that had removed a mailing list created and approved by the once independent RootsWeb Mailing lists, now a division of Ancestry always promised RootsWeb wouldn’t go away, and that it would remain an independent voice. Using Google Alerts, and RSS feeds, Ol’ Myrt here manages to keep up with any online mention of DearMYRTLE or Dear Myrtle, and such. Why can’t the techies over at do the same?

Why does feel it necessary to stifle this grass roots effort of Beth’s to set up a mailing list? Ancestry isn’t going to quash discussion. It will merely end up on websites such as Yahoo or Google Groups. BAD CHOICE to attempt to exert control, Ancestry!

So it would appear that while verbal top level corporate policy statements lead participants of the January 2009 “secret bloggers’ summit” at Ancestry headquarters to understand a change about open communication was the priority when it came to tending to members’ needs -- the day-to-day policy doesn't have the same focus.

PS – Wouldn’t you know that while Myrt was spell checking this blog post, fellow genea-blogger, Hugh Watkins created the first post on the “Unofficial Ancestry subscription group”? There are now 41 members.

That’s how fast the genea-blogosphere reacts to company policy.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

DearMYRTLE's Facebook® Group Message Board
© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

MORE about citing online sources

RE: " A Better Way to Cite Online Sources".

You’ve probably read yesterday’s posting in Ol’ Myrt’s blog about Mark Tucker’s proposal to automate citations for online genealogy sources.

Amazingly, Dick Eastman has been oddly silent on the subject, particularly since he is our resident techie genealogist. Randy Seaver wrote that he watched Mark’s video proposal, but that he felt like he was missing something important. YES, Randy, this is important:

Mark’s proposal could literally revolutionize the online genealogy world, if a grass roots effort overwhelmingly pressures websites to come into compliance with uniform citation models, such as provided in Evidence Explained.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, author of Evidence Explained, wrote “What Mark is proposing is that online sources have a downloadable citation that follows the humanities style for genealogy software programs to utilize. I don't see a conflict with the quick sheets. For those that use these programs, this would be faster. I believe when the citations get too complicated, the programs will not be able to handle them either. The ability to manipulate the downloaded citation would be a "must." See full context here.

Ol’ Myrt’s comment yesterday was that as researchers, we wouldn’t really learn how to construct source citations if it is all done automatically, but we'd free up more time for offline, in-person research. A friend from Virginia offered a differing opinion via Skype yesterday. He felt as we download citations automatically when we download the scanned images mentioning our ancestor, we will begin to learn about the format of a proper citation merely by viewing them before we hit the “save” button in our genealogy management programs.

To follow the discussions on this important, ground-breaking topic, visit the archives of these genealogy mailing lists. When you get to the archives, scroll down and select April 2009 to find the posts. This topic is sure to spill over into May 2009 and beyond, so check back to view postings in the archives if you don’t already subscribe to these free mailing lists:

Once genealogists understand the possibilities, we can unite in our efforts to encourage genealogy software publishers and genealogy website programmers to use this new technology.

Newbies are the only ones who can get away with saying “I found it on the web”. On day two as family historians, we must all learn the importance of specifically stating where we obtained our information. For my newbie DearREADERS, here are some important resources for you to get up to speed on the topic of citation:

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

Family History Expos Genealogy Podcasts

DearMYRTLE's Facebook® Group Message Board
© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

Utah: 9 May 2009 FHExpo

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at (formerly My Ancestors Found.) Please address all inquiries to

Logan, Utah Expo
The Logan Expo is Saturday May 9, 2009 and we're so excited! Logan is one of our favorite areas.
Family History is coming to Logan to help beginners and old-timers alike take their research to the next level. Family History Expos’ “Learn the Tech to Trace Your Roots” event will feature national speakers, vendors promoting the latest techniques and technology, hundreds of door prizes, and opportunities to network with experienced professionals.
Thousands of exciting products and hands-on demonstrations to aid family history research will be on display in an exhibit open to the public.Registered participants will be able to choose from seven different courses offered each hour.
Workshops include fascinating, relevant subjects including a course taught by an Abraham Lincoln historian entitled, “The Power of Abraham Lincoln’s Integrity.” Other popular topics include, “Finding Your English/Welsh Ancestors,” “Bringing Life to Your Life Stories,” “Beginning the Search of Your Ancestors,” and “Easier Scanning for Great Results.”

Check them out here at events schedule.Early Bird registration has just closed, so don't miss out on the pre-registration price.Pre-registration Cost: $45 (Ends May 1, 2009)At-the-Door Cost: $50

Keynote speaker Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Marketing Manager for IBM and founder of Barry resides in Riverton, Utah. He is a writer and researcher with extensive genealogical experience in Internet and field research, digital and software resources, and mentoring genealogists. Check out Barry's new Web site,, which will be launched in May 2009. It looks like a winner!

Check out our Sponsors. They are fantastic!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

FamilySearch: Jewish database grows to 40,000 records

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: I was beginning to wonder if I had been dropped from the FamilySearch announcement mail list, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the following announcement. Please address all inquiries to

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch expanded its Knowles Collection — a free popular database of Jewish records hailing from the British Isles. The collection builds upon work commenced by the late Isobel Mordy—a well-known historian of the Jews of the British Isles.

Mordy was a retired mathematician and used a complex code to link Jewish United Kingdom families in her research. Her work yielded 8,000 names and has been very popular for Jewish family history researchers with British ancestry.

“The complexity of the code Mordy used to index her research is daunting even to the most experienced researcher,” said Todd Knowles, author and manager of the Knowles Collection and a British Reference consultant for the famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. It took Knowles a few years, but he ultimately managed to transcribe the records from Mordy’s work into a more easily searchable genealogy database.

The great advantage of the Knowles Collection is that it links together electronically tens of thousands of individual Jews into family groups. Knowles has since expanded Mordy’s collection of 8,000 names to a collection of over 40,000.

“The records come from over 100 individual sources,” noted Knowles. “That saves the researcher a lot of time and travel.”

Some of the record sources were actively maintained until the mid 1980s, so many people living today will be able to find their relatives from recent memory in the collection. The newly added names come from many types of records—censuses; probate records; synagogue birth, marriage, and death records; biographies; and more.

Perhaps the most interesting records added recently include over 200 Jewish Welsh marriages from a community in the city of Cardiff, original synagogue records, and patron-submitted records. Some of the families tie into the work of Malcolm Stern’s The First American Jewish Families, which includes families who had English ancestry.

The collection can be accessed at on the Jewish Family History Resources page. It is available to download for free as either a GEDCOM or PAF file. Individuals can add their own records to the collection by contacting the collection’s author, Todd Knowles, directly at

FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical records worldwide. A significant portion of its collections come from the United Kingdom.