Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reminder: Suncoast Mini Seminar on 6 November

The Suncoast Genealogy Society Announces its annual Mini Seminar for 2010. It will take place on November 6, 2010 at the Palm Harbor Library in the Community Room. The library is at 2330 Nebraska Ave, Palm Harbor, Florida.

The event takes place from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM with registration starting at 12:30PM.
The speaker this year is George Morgan who will talk on two topics: "The Genealogist as CSI" and "Research in the Major British Records Repositories in London."

For additional information Contact: Ann James by phone at 727-791-1983 or by Email at

Military Records Class at Aging Well Center

On 6 October the PGS will present another of its continuing classes at the Aging Well Center (Long Center) in Clearwater (1501 N. Belcher Rd). The class is on military records and will be held at 10 am.

If you missed this class when it was recently presented at the Largo Public Library, you can now catch it again at the Center. The class will focus on what records were made during different historical periods in the U. S., what genealogical information they contain, and where you can find them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Name is the Same....So What!

The website recently published an article that explores the probability that people with the same surnames are related.

Researchers in England found that there is about a 1 in 4 chance that males sharing a common surname would actually share a common ancestor.

The article makes for interesting reading and a link is provided to further research if you are interested. You can find the article at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Italian Genealogy Research

A recent article published by Michael Cestaro on the Tom Wilt News website, gives some pointers and tips to those starting to research their Italian ancestors. He give useful information about birth, death, and marriage documents.

The article does not go into as much depth as you might like, and it appears that Michael is in part advertising his services, but the article is worth a look if you are researching ancestors in that country. You can read the article at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Genealogy Roots Blog"...Gateway to Loads of Information

Here is the link to a posting on the "Genealogy Roots Blog" by Joe Beine: I've mentioned Joe's name before, but not in some time so it bears repeating.

This particular blog post is an update to Joe's list of death records, indexes, and obituaries found online. It also give the link to the complete list right at the top of the post.

Joe keeps other lists of genealogy website updated as well: birth, marriage, military, etc. At the bottom of the post is an opportunity to subscribe to the Blog by Email or RSS feed. That means that you can be notified each time Joe updates one of his lists.

PhotoShop Elements to Edit and Organize Photos

We have another session coming up tomorrow night (Wed., 27 Oct) at the Largo Public Library dealing with PhotoShop Elements to edit and organize photos.

If you are interested in attending to see how the program works, don't forget that you can bring one of your own photos that needs work to be used as an example. Put it on a thumb drive and we'll see what we can do with it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Motivation for Immigrant Name Changes

Earlier this year, the website published an interesting article that cited a modern day study about why immigrants may change their names to being more ethnically neutral or more resembling names of their new country.

Although the study was done in the modern day, it is logically tempting to extrapolate its findings to the past. You can read the article at

Oh, and the reason for changing one's, of course.

Friday, October 22, 2010

PGS Slogan Contest

PGS is looking for a few good slogans.

Think: "Be all you can be" or "At 10 – at 2 – at 4" or "E pluribus unum."

We want a slogan that will elegantly, clearly, and forcefully define our Society. We want to be able to put it on our seal, our letterheads, the newsletter, the journal, on tri-fold handouts, the PGS banner – anywhere and everywhere that the public can associate it with the name Pinellas Genealogy Society.

The person whose slogan is selected will be rewarded with the knowledge that they will go down in the history of PGS. Oh, yes, and there is also a significant and worthwhile prize that goes along with that.You can send in as many suggestions as you like, the more the better. They should be sent by email to If you don't have email capabilities, you can mail them to Journal Editor/PGS Slogan, c/o Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive, Largo, FL 33771-2110.

Deadline is 13 Nov 2010. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

GEDCOM Explained

This post is rather lengthy, but I think it is worth the space. It is an explanation of the GEDCOM format that we use so much. Although we use the term freely, I suspect, based on questions I hear at our classes, that the concept is not all that well understood.

This explanation is one that I think does the job of explaining it well. It was recently published in RootsWeb Review.

"If you have used genealogy software to create a family tree on your computer or you have created a tree online, you are probably aware that you can share your tree data with others who use a different software program because of a file called a GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication).

"Genealogy software programs are databases and, as such, they arrange the information you input into fields. Each program does this using its own proprietary format. These formats are not compatible with one another. You wouldn't be able to share your trees with people who use other programs were it not for GEDCOMs. Understanding how the insides of a GEDCOM work will help you understand why your file shows up in each program the way it does.

"A GEDCOM is nothing more than a plain text file comprised of all the information you input into your genealogy file. You can open a GEDCOM in WordPad or any text editor. However, you may not be able to easily decipher the text when you attempt to read it in that manner. Think of the file content as being like an outline, where the indented lines explain the line above them. The numbers at the beginning of each line may be considered to be the number of indentations or tabs from the left of the page in a standard outline format. Thus a line beginning with the number 2 would contain details about the first line beginning with number 1 immediately above it.

"A GEDCOM uses "tags" to represent the fields in a genealogy database. Genealogy software programs support GEDCOMs by transferring the data in your file into tags. When you share a GEDCOM with someone using a different genealogy program than the one you use, the program uses the GEDOM tags to assign the data to the proper fields used by the alternate program. Some common tags are, SOUR for source, BIRT for birth, and PLAC for place."

[Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 8 September 2010, Vol. 13, No. 9]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"We Are All Cousins"

Elizabeth Shown Mills, author of Evidence Explained, was recently featured in a video on You Tube. The title of the video is "We Are All Cousins."

The thrust of her message is that we need to broaden our research to include ethnic, religious, and geographic groups that we may believe do not apply to us. If anything, the application of DNA technology to the field of genealogy shows us that the way we look or the stories we have been told are often misleading indicators of our heritage.

The video is short and to the point: cast a wider net in your research. You can see the video at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Roots Magic User's Group Meeting

The next meeting of the Roots Magic User's Group is at 10 am on Saturday, 23 October at the Largo Public Library.

If you have problems using the software, questions, or just mild curiosity about how it can aid your genealogy record keeping and research, drop by.

Reminder: Writing Competition Ends 31 October

Pinellas Genealogist, the quarterly journal of Pinellas Genealogy Society, is proud to conduct its second annual Family History Writing Competition, BUT TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

Pinellas Genealogist is accepting entries for the annual Family History Writing Competition from members and non-members of the Society. Entries should be based on the author’s research of a family history or a genealogical account of family lines and lives, discussing the steps followed and the conclusions that resulted from the research. Entries may be original, unpublished papers or published papers. If previously published, please submit permission to reprint from the original publisher along with the entry.

Prizes will be awarded to three submissions selected by our judges:

First prize—$50 Second prize—$30 Third prize—$20

The winner will be announced in the winter issue of Pinellas Genealogist. All entries must be received no later than 31 October 2010. The competition rules are attached to this email and are also available on the PGS web site at:

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Courthouse Documents" the Next Class at the Aging Well Center

The PGS class titled "Courthouse Documents" will be taught at the Aging Well Center in Clearwater at 10 am on Saturday, 23 October.

If you missed this class the last time it was taught at the Largo Public Library, or want to refresh your memory on the genealogical treasures that can be found in the nation's courthouses, put this class on your calendar.

The Aging Well Center is at 1501 N. Belcher Rd., Clearwater, Florida. You can see an advanced schedule of the classes the PGS will present at the center by going to

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another Upgrade to the Genealogy Center

The end caps to the book shelves at the Genealogy Center are seeing another upgrade.

Historic pictures from the Largo Public Library collection are being reproduced and place on the end caps to delineate the boundaries of the Genealogy Center. The picture to the right shows library director Casey McPhee standing next to one of the picture displays.

Right now the pictures are temporary, but they soon will be permanent fixtures. Be sure and check them out the next time you are at the Genealogy Center.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Suncoast Genealogy Society Seminar on 6 November

The Suncoast Genealogy Society Announces its annual Mini Seminar for 2010. It will take place on November 6, 2010 at the Palm Harbor Library in the Community Room. The library is at 2330 Nebraska Ave, Palm Harbor, Florida.

The event takes place from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM with registration starting at 12:30PM.

The speaker this year is George Morgan who will talk on two topics: "The Genealogist as CSI" and "Research in the Major British Records Repositories in London."

For additional information Contact: Ann James by phone at 727-791-1983 or by Email at

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Accurate is DNA Testing for Genealogy?

The online newsletter Genealogy in Time recently published an article that gave some warnings about unrealistic expectations concerning the accuracy of DNA testing for genealogy.

It makes interesting reading, and the best part of all is the conclusion that says " should become an informed consumer and make sure you understand the implications and limitations of such tests."

Perhaps it is the liberal use of DNA testing that we see in various police dramas on television that fools us into thinking that DNA testing for genealogy can be as precise in its results. Whatever the reason for that belief, it is not valid.

DNA testing is what it is our expectations that try to make it into something it is not. Do your research before you invest in any test and be sure you know what you are getting and how to use it. The test results can be helpful or frustrating, and the difference is mostly a function of your own knowledge about the process.

You can see the Genealogy in Time article at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

School Yearbooks Something to Check Out has an expanding school yearbook collection that is worth looking at. Those books can include interesting things like nick names, interests, and even photos of your ancestors...just the type of information that helps to make your ancestors come alive.

The collection now has recently been expanded to include about 58 million additional records and spans from 1988 all the way back to 1875. It includes yearbooks from junior highs, high schools, universities and other institutions.

If you don't have an subscription, you can visit the library and get access to the site from there for free. Even if you don't have a subscription, you can do the search from home to see what possible matches occur.

Check it out at

Monday, October 11, 2010

Writer's Workshop Meets on 19 October

The Family History Writer's Workshop will hold its next meeting at the Largo Public Library at 6 pm on 19 October.

If you are thinking about writing down some of the family stories you have been collecting, this may be the group for you. Even if you have been writing for some time, you will pick up some skills and ideas from the group discussions and the practice writing sessions. This is not a class...actual writing takes place with a chance to share the product and get ideas on how to improve on what you are creating.

Drop by and see what the group is all about. It may open doors to the next step in your family history research.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Land Records One of the Best Genealogy Resources

Martha Jones recently published an article titled "Land records can reveal family lineages" in the Victoria Advocate that is worth checking out. As the title indicates, she explores the value of land records. Just to wet your whistle, here are some of her opening comments:

"Land records in America date back to the early 1600s. Even as late as the 1850s, nine out of 10 adult, white males owned land and today the figure is more than 50 percent. For genealogists, land records are one of their best resources for tracing ancestral lineages. There is a surname index to virtually every land owner back to the beginning of land sales and acquisition in the U.S. It is estimated that researchers have a 90 percent chance of finding their ancestor in a land-ownership index. This is surely a better percentage rate than searching census records, especially prior to 1850, when genealogical research starts getting more difficult."

Because of the completeness and reach of land records, some say that they are a "better" genealogical source than even the US Census...and as you can see above, Martha hints at this also.

Land records can be such a fertile (but unused) source of information that the PGS has a schedule to develop a class on the subject. You won't see it until next year, but when it is rolled out it will complement our impressive list of 30+ classes already on the books. Keep your eye out for it.

You can check out Martha's article at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Helpful Links in

This article appeared in a recent edition of RootsWeb Review, the online news letter from RootsWeb. It has a raft of links to great resources available on RootsWeb that you may have overlooked. Take a minute to check them out.

"As stated in Getting Started at RootsWeb, the primary purpose and function of RootsWeb, is to connect people so that they can help each other and share genealogical research. And one of the ways we accomplish this goal, is through tutorials – some provided by the RootsWeb Review columnists, our dedicated RootsWeb staff and others by the RootsWeb family of volunteers.

"RootsWeb Review Archives
You can always find a previously published article or tip in the archives at

A few ideas from the RootsWeb family of volunteers
Want to learn about Native American genealogy? Try Paul Carter's “Cherokee Gen Tutorial”.
Want to know how to get a copy of a soldier's official Civil War military record? See Geoffrey R. Walden's “Compiled Service Records (CSRs) - Civil War Soldiers”.
How about creating web pages?Pat Geary will teach you how to “Create a New Website in Expression Web”.
And don't forget the Webmaster FAQs.
Want to avoid genealogical issues?Read “Twenty Ways to Avoid Genealogical Grief” (originally published in The British Columbia Genealogist, Vol. 17 #1, Mar/88).
RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees. And finally, don't forget this almost timeless step-by-step guides created by professional genealogists, Julia M. Case, Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG and Rhonda McClure. Topics include: Using Technology: Software and GEDCOMs; Vital Records: Death, Tombstones and Cemeteries; Taxing Tales; Tracing Immigrant Ancestors; Fraternal Organizations; City Directories and Newspapers; Canadian, French-Canadian, Acadian and French Connections; African American, Native American, Jewish, Unique Peoples (Melungeon, Black Dutch, etc.); Adoption and Orphans Records, & many more."

[Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 11 August 2010, Vol. 13, No. 8]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Copyright Rules

Have you been confused about the rules of copyright? If you are like me, you learn the rules, and then because you don't have to apply them for a while, you forget them.

If that is the case, this might be just the thing you need. Cornell University has created a reference guide that is easy to link to or store on your computer for handy reference. All of the different media and circumstances are presented in a single table that makes the myriad of rules fairly easy to negotiate.

You can see the guide at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Immigration Class at Aging Well Center

The PGS will present a class on Immigration and Passenger Lists at the Aging Well Center at 10 am on 9 October. The Aging Well Center is at the Long Center in Clearwater (1501 N. Belcher Road).

If you happened to miss the class when it was offered at the Largo Public Library or if you want a refresher on this important area of research, drop by and check it out.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Curt Witcher on "Care" of Photographs

This article appeared recently in the electronic newsletter published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center.

More "Care" of Photographs by Curt Witcher

"We know how important photographic images are to our family stories, and we all have a strong interest in making sure those images survive long beyond our lifetimes. In addition to caring for the physical photographs, there are ways of employing technology to assure the images are well preserved and available for future generations of family members.

"Digitizing and sharing photographic images is an important 21st century way of preserving photographs. Many are familiar with the acronym LOCKSS, which stands for "lots of copies keeps stuff safe." Today it is relatively easy and virtually free to digitize photographs and make them available in a number of formats and places. First, if several family members are working on the genealogies of related lines, suggest that all researchers make a digital copy of all their photographs and share those on DVDs or flash/jump drives with all other interested family members. Doing that helps protect against a disaster wiping-out a valuable collection.

"Next, look for opportunities to contribute photographic images to virtual web sites. If you have pictures of tombstones, contemplate contributing them to the "Find-A-Grave" website. Consider creating a family page for yourself on won't cost you a cent. Create a family photograph album for yourself on Flickr, and then invite family members to view and contribute. Investigate contributing photographic images to a virtual community album that the local library or historical society might be hosting in the area where your family lived. There are many ways we can employ ever-advancing technology in the care of our photographs."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Coming Crisis in Genealogical Research

Curt Witcher, the manager of The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana recently addressed BYU's Conference on Family History and Genealogy and raised some flags about a genealogical crises he sees on the horizon.

His remarks cause all of us to take notice because even at a personal level we can contribute to the problem/solution. For instance he asks how well we organize and save our Email (since people are writing Email in place of paper letters now). I don't know about you, but that got my attention.

He goes on to mention other examples of what he calls the coming genealogical dark ages.

His talk is summarized in the Mormon Times which can be found at

Curt was the principal speaker at the Florida Genealogy Society Seminar in Tampa on 18 September.