Thursday, December 30, 2010

PGS Classes for the Week of 2 January 2011

Here is a list of the classes coming up for the week beginning 2 January (they are all held at the Largo Public Library):

Internet Site Exploration--4 Jan., 1o AM. (A free-roaming session where we check out sites of interest. Bring the URL of one of your favorites to share with the group.)

Getting the Most Out of Jan., 6 PM. (Learn all that this huge, free site has to offer. Learn the basics and learn about the new features being added all the time you may not be aware of.)

Digital Cameras in Genealogy--5 Jan., 10 AM. (Learn how to use this valuable tool to support your research, especially in low-light environments like libraries and archives.)

Photo Restoration and Management Using PhotoShop Elements--6 Jan., 10 AM. (Get familiar with the photo editing and management capabilities of this powerful piece of software--which is available on the computers in the Genealogy Center. Bring a photo of your own (put it on a USB drive) to have worked on during the session.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Joe Beine's Site for Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records

Joe Beine continues to keep his great website on searchable death indexes and records up to date with new additions. If you have not checked his site lately, do so at

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Germanic Seminar in March

This notice was received from Caron Rooksby of the Manasota Genealogical Society:

Manasota Genealogical Society will meet Tuesday, January 4, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00, at the Manatee County Central Library for a presentation by Dr. Daniel Stephens of the Life Long Learning Academy at the University of South Florida and a US National Park Ranger entitled “The Spanish Influence in Florida.” Special Interest Group to follow with "Importing Genealogical Photographs to Your Computer."

Information: Jean Morris (941)722-5156. On-line:

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Genealogy Program Should I Use? Which Will Last?

Those two questions can be heard again and again from both new and experienced genealogists...I have been known to ask them myself.

In a recent edition of his Online Newsletter, Dick Eastman has written an excellent and detailed answer to those two questions. He even goes on to address what he sees as the future of genealogy programs and record keeping.

It will take some time to read the article because Dick as give the subject extensive treatment, but it is worth the effort. So go get a cup of your favorite beverage, and then set back and read the article at

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays to All

I want to take a break from the usual content of this Blog and wish all our readers a Happy Holiday. I hope you can take this time to unite with family and share your many blessings.

I am always very emotional during the holidays. I believe a good part of the reason for that is the fact that I am a genealogist. Although everyone cherishes family at this time of year, I think that we genealogists do so with an intensity that is born of our research. We think of family as an unbroken line of people that stretches from us to the very distant past. Our research has made those who came before us a real as if we had met them personally. When we celebrate our living families at holiday time, we at the same time celebrate all those other absent family members.

This is a gift really...a sense of family enriches us. Since family is so paramount in our lives, how blessed we are that our avocation has opened to us a broadening of family that has made us all that much richer. I hope you are able to share this gift of ancestral family with your living one.
On behalf of your board of directors, I wish you all the joy of the holidays and the comfort that comes from family...present and past.

[And when you are with family, don't forget to pump them for genealogy information!]


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dropbox -- A Very Useful Utility

At some of our genealogy classes and workshops, the subject of a utility called Dropbox has come up. I know several of you are using it, as am I, and find it great as a way to sychronize files between computers and as an online backup.

Dick Eastman, in his Online Newsletter, has written a couple or reviews of the product that might be worth your looking at if you are not already a Dropbox user. You can find his latest review at

I'm using Dick's review of Dropbox to introduce another piece of news. We are in the process of building a new class focusing entirely on genealogy computer utilities. This will involve an exploration and explanation of many programs, like Dropbox, that are available to make research and record keeping easier.

Keep checking the PGS class calendar on our website so you don't miss this. It should roll out sometime in the spring. The PGS website is at

Monday, December 20, 2010

Police Chiefs of the Past in Eau Claire, WI

This is a very specialized collection of information: past police chiefs in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. But if it applies to you, it is pure gold.

Eau Claire police detective Todd Johnson undertook the task of collecting information on the city's past police chiefs, and as an historian, apparently got caught up in the project.

You can read some of the stories he has unearthed and see a list of the past chiefs at

Send in Those Queries

PGS members can publish queries in the PGS Journal, Pinellas Genealogist. All you need to do is send them in to the publisher.

The journal goes to all of the other members as well as to about 15 organizations across the country, so it gets a wide distribution. It is a wonderful way to spread the word and get help with some of those brick walls you have encountered.

Just take a minute to write a few and send them in. It's one of those research investments that can yield unexpected and profitable returns. If you get on the stick and do this by the end of December, your query will be published in the next edition of the journal.

Send your queries to with the subject line of "PGS Journal Query."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

PGS Board Members--2011

At the general meeting of the Pinellas Genealogy Society in December 2010, the annual election of officers took place. Six of the twelve board positions stood for election this year.

Shown is a picture of the board as we move into 2011. From the left, the officers are

Ed Deming--Web Master
Flo Bickel--Corresponding Secretary
Millard Russell--Vice President
Sherrie Hellrung--Projects Director
Bob Bryan--Education Director
Diane Clemmons--Membership Coordinator
Beth Shields--Treasurer
Rosemary Hayes--Recording Secretary
Sally Brown--Finance Director
David Dellinger--Journal Editor
Larry Hosmer--Seminar Director
Peter Summers--President
Congratulations to all.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Record Those Sources...Don't Make Me Tell You Again!

In a recent edition of his Online Genealogy Newsletter, Dick Eastman wrote an interesting piece about recording sources. Dick's history with this subject is like most of ours; that is, when we started out in genealogy we didn't pay as much attention to recording sources as we should have, and we regret it to this day.

Newbie or experienced researcher, you will find Dick's article informative. Perhaps it will give you the motivation you need to conscientiously source your findings. You can read his article at

Don't forget, the Pinellas Genealogy Society teaches a free class at the Largo Public Library on this very topic. Check the class calendar (near the top of the home page) at the PGS website for presentation dates. The site can be found at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Database Identifies Revolutionary War Soldiers Who Fought At Saratoga

Thanks to Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter for this alert.

A new computer database (constructed by a local genealogy and history group called Heritage Hunters), contains information about 16,000 of the roughly 17,000 American soldiers who fought in Saratoga County, New York in 1777.

The database is available at the Saratoga National Military Park if you visit there. An ongoing project is to add GPS coordinates to the records so you can identify approximately where on the battleground any particular soldier was located.

The database is also available on line at

You can read all about the project at

The information provided includes place of enlistment, rank, unit, and dates of service, and sometimes other notes of interest.

Each records also contains a reference for the information posted.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If You're Irish, Chech out "Irish Central"

If you have Irish in your background, you may find something interesting at the website "Irish Central"...perhaps even if you are not Irish as well.

The home page is at

Although the site deals with a lot of modern day Irish topics, you can click on the "Roots" tab at the top of the page for things more genealogical.

For instance, one article gives you a list of the most popular Irish baby names in the US. You can hunt around for it (after all, that's half the fun), or go directly to

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Big Doings at the PGS Genealogy Meeting on 18 December

The Pinellas Genealogy Society general meeting on 18 December is one you do not want to miss. It is held at the Largo Public Library at 11 am, preceded by a "Computers in Genealogy" discussion group at 10 am. Both are free and open to the public.

This meeting will feature some society business (annual elections) as well as events of more general interest. Our second annual family heirloom display will also be part of the program. Tables will be available for members and guests to display their heirlooms for all to enjoy. Last year this was a big hit. The heirlooms were interesting as well as seeing some of the measures people had taken to preserve them. Refreshments will also be available to celebrate the holiday season.

If you have not attended a society meting before, this is a good one to see what we are all about, and if you are an old hand, this meeting boasts a distinctly different format from what you usually see. Put this event on your calendar and join us for this annual event.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Continuing Census Improvements From

Ancestry continues to make improvements in its census offerings, and this is a reason to revisit your search attempts at that site. If you have not been successful in finding your ancestor in previous searches, it is worth the time to retry occasionally to take advantage of the improvements.

For example, in October the site announced that it now has new indexes for 1920 U.S. Census, including 20 million alternate names as well as new and improved indexes for 1790-1840 with additional fields.

Don't forget that if you do not have a personal subscription to Ancestry, you can get free access to it at most public libraries.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Website From the Allen County Library

A while ago the Allen County Library launched a new website designed with the purpose of aiding family research without having to actually visit the library.

The home page gives you links to tips on getting started in genealogy as well as forms to search their free databases and their catalog.

A particularly interesting exploration is the "Pathfinders" tab at the top of the home page. It will lead you to pages that can guide you in conducting research in several differed areas such as adoption, German, Irish and more.

You can find the site at

Thanks to Dick Eastman for mentioning this site in his online newsletter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

RootsWeb Revamps Its SSDI Search

Have you taken a look at RootsWeb's SSDI Advanced Searches recently? ( With a recent revamp advanced searches may be performed on any or all fields in the database:

>Name (first, last, middle initial) using either exact spelling, Soundex or Metaphone. (See "Terms and Definitions" for an explanation of Soundex and Metaphone:
>Birth and Death.
>Last Residence and Last Benefit.
>Social Security Number (SSN)
>Issued by (state)
>Age at Death (field added in new code)

Search results listings have been updated to offer you choices in the display and they are now listed alternately in white and gray to make it easy to follow each entry across all columns. Entries in each field may be sorted in ascending or descending order using the up and down arrows next to each column. For example, if you want to sort the death column for all of the Robert E. SMITHs born in 1904 to show those who died more recently at the top of the results or at the end -- you can click the arrows to get the desired display order.

The above was extracted for an article previously published in RootsWeb Review: 13 October 2010, Vol. 13, No. 10

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Name Thesaurus" Gives You Search Options

A website called "Name Thesaurus" will give you variations of both surnames and forenames. It is easy to use and gives some surprising results.

On the home page you are given a form in which to enter either a surname or a forename (given name), and it is as simple as that. The results page will then list matches that are variations of the entered name, soundex matches, and metaphone matches. If you ever wonder exactly what the soundex and metaphone choices in search engines (such as Ancestry and FamilySearch) look for, now you know. And if you want to manually enter some spelling variations yourself, this site will give you plenty of options.

I entered the surname summers and got 280 spelling variations, 4090 soundex matches, and 366 metaphone matches.

Thanks to Debbe Hagner for this site suggestion. Debbe was the speaker at the November GPS meeting where she talked about breaking down brick walls. This site is one she recommends to help do that.

You can explore the site at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Digital Files Will Last a Long, Long time...With Good Practices

The debate over when medium is better, paper or film or digital, has been with us for some time now. A good review of the topic with a fairly complete explanation about why he thinks digital media is best, is provided by Dick Eastman in Online Genealogy Newsletter.

The key is following good procedures, such as have been practiced in responsible data centers for years.

Dick outlines those practices and explains how we can put them to use in our own data storage and preservation schemes.

You can read Dick's article at