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It may be of help to some to list the technology I use. However, do not conclude that to become a Genealogist one must have all of these items. You don’t even need a computer, but could go to your local library for the Internet. You could use the local Kinkos for a printer when needed. You could backup with an inexpensive online system. And your computer if you have to have one could be a refurbished one, which all of mine are except the MacBook.

Here is the list:

* Hardware: I have three laptops: Two are Macintosh PowerBook G3s, built in   2000 and still work like a charm. The third is a new MacBook 5,2.
In addition I have a Mac Pro Tower with two screens. With two screens and the ability to drag back and forth, I have in essence a 38 inch screen.
* External storage: 2 thumb drives. Free Agent Drive-250GB.
* Online storage: None
* Backup: Time Machine (free)
* Firewall: Built-in
* Virus Protection: None (it’s a Mac)
* Anti-Spyware: None (it’s a Mac)
* File cleaner: None
* Printer: HP Photosmart C4795 all in one printer, scanner, copier.
* Phone: TracPhone
* Email: Mac Mail, AOL Mail and GMail (all free)
* Mobile Device: Only TracPhone and Laptop
* Music Media: Mac iTunes
* eBook Reader: None
* Browser: Firefox and Safari (both free)
* Calendar: iCal (free)
* Graphics: Adobe PhotoShop, Reader, and Acrobat Pro
* Screen Capture: Shift/Control/4 (enough to buy a Mac for and free)
* Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (free)
*  Office Suite: Microsoft Office
* Blog: WordPress
* Genealogy Database: Reunion


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Geneabloggers.com is a most interesting site and one with value. It introduces genealogists to the many blogs which exist to help new and experienced  genealogists with fresh thoughts, techniques and approaches.

The site is run by Thomas MacEntee. A co-author is Gini Webb, an experienced genealogy researcher with one very particular attribute – she was born in Augsburg, Germany, about 50 miles northwest of Munich, and researches extensively her own ancestry in that country. Many of us, including me, could benefit from that experience…. and she is willing to help.

Gini now lives in San Diego and manages her own blog Ginisology. In addition she can be found at:
facebook.com and
twitter.com/Ginisology

I recommend these sites highly.

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Several times in this blog I have discussed the need to have and display proof of your research data. ‘To have’ means you have that proof. ‘To display’ it means others can evaluate those proofs and take comfort in the accuracy of your work.

The Proof Standard is:
•    Conduct reasonably exhaustive search
•    Collect complete and accurate citations
•    Analyze and correlate all information
•    Resolve all conflicts
•    Arrive at a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion

The best book on the subject is Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian, 124 pages by Elizabeth S. Mills.

My most frustrating and personal experience is the following:

According to White, Scott and Allied Families by Emma Siggins White, the famous “Breeches Bible” of William White has been preserved.  This Bible is an edition of the Genevan version, known as the “Breeches Bible” as it used “breeches” instead of “aprons” in Gen. iii, 7.  This Bible was printed in London in 1588, and is filled with records of the White and Brewster families.  According to these records the book was owned by William White in England in 1608, and was brought over in the Mayflower.  It has a record of the birth of Peregrine White, the first child of English parents born in this country.  “Sonne born to Susanna White dec 19, 1620. yt six o’clock morning.”  There are some childish pictures and scribbling in the book, including a caricature of Peregrine, a sketch of a meeting house, and an Indian drawing his bow.  The book was owned in 1895 by S. W. Cowles of Hartford, Connecticut.

Now I need to tell you that Emma Siggins White’s book is hardbound, 346 pages which include many quotes, citations, family crests and numerous family off-shoots, and printed by Tiernan-Dart Printing Company of Kansas City, Missouri in 1920.

And I probably don’t need need to tell you that this was a most exciting find for me.

But here next is a summary of my research, we can even call it proof as the Proof Standard was clearly met, although on the wrong side of the ledger.

Subsequent research proved the Bible a fake.  S. W. Cowles bought it in 1892 from a Manchester, CT bookseller named Charles M. Taintor (who would be a cousin of William White as well as of this Compiler, see the Taintor chapter) for $12.00.  He donated it by his will to a son and it ended up in California with his surviving wife.  She gave or sold it to a lady in Texas by the name of Miriam Lutcher Stark who in turn donated it to the University of Texas.  John B. Thomas, III removed it years later from a book cart in the University Library, became interested and determined it was a fake.  See B737 for the research papers associated with this effort.

Yes, disappointing, but I can hold my head high as the standard has been met. Grandchildren will not perpetuate a myth.

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I am a strong believer that we who are interested in, and work in Genealogy need to leave a legacy for our descendants. The legacy could be some notes, some scrapbooks, an autobiography as I have written about, or other items. But the best action we could take is to write a book or books.

I have a cousin who wrote me a most unusual letter when I published a book on our mutual surname. The letter addresses much better than I can the value of a book. The letter follows, click to enlarge:


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A major objective one should set for performing family history is to provide a legacy for descendants.Generally this should mean creating a book. In my case I have written several books (see elsewhere in this blog) and the total pages have been about 3,000.

That probably seems like a great deal of writing, 3,000 pages. But if one uses a Register Report from within their genealogical software, that includes an index of people, a list of Sources and certain specifying data such as “Third Generation” and other such.

Now let me demonstrate why this is NOT a great deal of writing. First, one borrows with attribution fromother writings about the person or times; second, one asks living relatives to write their own biography; thirdone adds other interesting historical or similar notes; and lastly, let me demonstrate how the computer writes a great deal for you.

In the illustration below, it is assumed that a database has been created with names, date and place of birth, death and burial, as well as occupation. What you wrote is in BLACK, what the computer wrote in the Register Report is in RED.


As you see, the job of good software is to make one’s efforts easier and more useful. And to answer the initial question of how much writing for a book: A lot less than one may think.

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If only I had started into Genealogy before I was 18 ….  or better, if my parents had done so for me. Let me explain with three examples.

First, I was particularly close to and admired my father. Fortunately I asked for and he did write his autobiography. Several years after he died I visited Germany and passed through Koblenz. In World War I he had been stationed there and billeted with a German family with whom he developed a good relationship. However, he failed to add their name and address in his autobiography. Imagine if you will, as I have, had I gone to that home, asked if they remembered my father, and they had regaled me with stories of their time together. What a memory that would have created.

Second, I lived many years in the Hartford, Connecticut area. I probably traveled a thousand times to Boston and spent that many nights there. Long after I had retired and moved south, I found that many of my ancestors had come in the 17th century to Massachusetts. I could have dined at the Wayside Inn instead of a Mariott; I could have slept in Plymouth instead of downtown Boston – well, you get the idea, I could have traveled the same footsteps as my ancestors.

Third, one of my English ancestors bought a regiment of soldiers in the 1790s. He fought with this regiment in Spain, in South Africa and many other places. In 1807 he took his men to Uruguay in South America and there was killed by Maldonado in Montevideo. 176 years later I married a lady who was born and raised in Montevideo. When she criticizes me, just think, I can say “Yes, but your people killed my people in 1807.”

The family history which I have researched has provided intellectual stimulation for me in retirement. What I have done will allow my descendants to better appreciate the places where they live or the places to which they travel.

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I belong to a group of users of my genealogical software which is managed by the company which produced and owns the software – Leister Productions, Inc. The software is Reunion. They call this on-line group endeavor a Forum. In the Forum users pose questions by e-mail and answers are supplied sometimes by other users and sometimes by the company. The questions/answers are returned in a daily e-mail to all registrants. The ability to add a thread to each question is provided, which helps provide diverse answers to some questions.

Lately, there have been several questioning threads about producing a book covering one’s family research so that the reader can easily grasp the fullness and complexity of their ancestors. It might be useful for some if I describe how I approached this problem. There of course are other ways but here is mine.

When I reach a point in my research where I believe I have gone about as far as I can with a particular surname of a grandmother or grandfather, I create a Register Report from the top of the line down to the point where that surname intersects with my own surname. I stop there and indicate after the last name using a special color that the balance of the descent can be found in my own surname chapter. This Register report comes out in my software in WORD. I then “print” a PDF of this Chapter of the future book. Some people never look at the window which the command Print brings up, but in nearly all cases there is the ability to select a “print PDF” or “save PDF”.

Later on I can decide other surnames have gone as far as I can take them, or I have enough data to create another Chapter for the eventual book. Of course there are some surnames, grandmothers in particular, where you have absolutely nothing but their name or part of a name. For them, there will be no Chapter. They will merely appear as the spouse of another.

Now as the number of chapters increases you can make the decision to create a book by combining chapters.

Look at your Pedigree Chart and the book or books which will be meaningful should become obvious. In my case, I had some 25 surnames which touched Massachusetts prior to immigrating to other states. These 25 sometimes married into other surnames of mine so the affinity of the group was both geographical as well as interrelated. In another book the 5 surnames all originated in Virginia and had some inter-marrying. In yet another book of 8 surnames, these families came into Kentucky from North Carolina and Virginia and had certain relationships which suggested they belonged banded together. So far I have described only my paternal side. My maternal side created 14 chapters.

Banded together means of course that all surnames with sufficient data became chapters of their respective books. The books created a diverse number of pages, which would relate to the amount of information one could collect. So for each of the above described books, here are the page counts: 25 surnames in 971 pages; 5 for 189 pages; 5 for 325 pages; and 14 surnames for 595 pages. My own surname was 178 pages.

As you can see the books varied greatly.

And ….. there is the question of how one can combine chapters so that they become a book. Here’s the answer. Find a copy of  Acrobat Professional, either by buying it (rather expensive at about $450 or go to a Kinkos or other service center or friend and rent a few hours on their equipment and software. If you take to the service center a CD with all of your chapters sequenced as you wish them to be, it is a rather trivial exercise to use Adobe Pro to combine chapters together, create a bookmark in the to-be-book for the chapter and any data you might wish to highlight and then burn a new CD entitled as you wish. An example title of mine is: The Ancestors of Elizabeth Ann Bobbitt, Wife of Harvey Rice Bourland, including the Allied Families of Berry, Bobbitt, Hackley, Rash and Warren.

Another example of a title is: The Whites and Allied Families, including Baer, Baker, Darling David, Denny, Grafton, Hawkins, Kithil, Lang-Artz, Rees, Rockhold, Roland, Russell, and Stidhem.

In total for some 8 books I required Adobe Pro for about 3-4 hours.

I should mention one huge advantage of Adobe PDF and Adobe Acrobat Pro is that you can create or maintain color without paying for color copying because here you will be copying a CD.

I must add, to make these books more readable, you need to add to the WORD version and prior to PDF some graphics, clip art, pictures, in-line fact boxes and references to other chapters as appropriate. It would also be useful if you wrote a preface concerning why these particular surnames are groups or how they intermarried and so forth. Sometimes when there are many surnames involved, a diagram upfront can be helpful. All of these additions created in WORD beyond the Register Report can be added where they are appropriate by Acrobat Pro.

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