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Pastfinders Users’ Group

January 16, 2008


Why we couldn’t get on last week

I was not able to get online at our last meeting due to an improper set-up of my Internet Connection Properties. We’ll Right Click on the wireless connection in the System Tray and then Right Click on the wireless connection that says Connected. From there we’ll click on properties and select Internet Connection (TCP/IP) (with one Left Click) and then click on properties. Here we can select to use an IP address that we provide or Obtain an IP Address Automatically. The same pertains to finding or inserting a DNS (Domain Name Server) address. I had elected to enter a DNS address for my network at home to save the fraction of a second that it took to look one up. I now have changed it to Obtain a DNS Address Automatically. I thank my son and my grandson who both offered my proper advice.


We’ll start by looking at some of the sites we were not able to get to last time. Refer to our handout for December 19, 2007. . We’ll first look at some email and web page source code to see what makes them up. Then on to our map page and look at a couple of maps. Then we’ll visit our Genealogy Links page and visit a link or two. And finally from last month, we’ll look in on the Family Search Laboratory page where they test new ideas.


Genealogy Blogs

Then we’ll start today’s program by looking at some genealogy blogs. They are a great way to learn what’s new. With so much old data being made available on the Internet, it pays to stay abreast of what’s going on. Blogs offer an easy conversational way for someone to communicate information to you and for you to comment on what you’ve read. Blogs have an advantage in that what they have presented remains available for you for years rather than being deleted by the next update as with most web sites. Look at the comments that others have made about a blog and be prepared to step in when you have something to offer. In Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox, you can subscribe to any and all blogs of your choice by clicking on the subscribe icon that appears on each blog. See RSS under help for the program that you are using in order to subscribe. Also see our program on blogs and RSS feeds and our program on Internet Explorer 7 at .


Let’s go to the top ten listing at . We’ll pass over the podcasts and just look at a few blogs. Podcasts are like radio programs that you can listen to but they require more time than we have to get anything meaningful. We’ll start with Dick Eastman’s blog . Note that the blog tells a little about the subject so that you can choose to pursue that further or move on down the list. For some blogs you have to be a paid subscriber to read it all. Note the great variety of subjects. As we go down the list, we note that George Morgan will no longer write his publication “Along These Lines”. George has assuned the responsibility of Publications Director of the Florida State Genealogical Society. Further down the list, we come to a blog about Boston. We’ll check that out as it’s very informative. When we click on the link we get more of Dick’s blog and then the link to Boston1775 . Note that as we scroll down the page, a list of topics covered appears on the left and a an index to places and names appears on the right. The list is in order of the number of times each name appears starting with children 93 times. We’ll scroll down so you can see how extensive the list is. The only name associated with a member that on saw on quick review was Lt. Thomas Page who was with the British. It is extensive and very well done.


The next blog on the list is Dear Myrtle that touches on many subjects with a lot of reader input. There is a list of the number of postings by year that you can go to to see the archives. Just to check out one item, we’ll scroll down until we find a comparison of Library Thing and Good Reads. Library Thing is a site that allows you to enter any and all of your books and creates a library quality index of them. But you only have to enter part of the title and it finishes the task for you based on inputs from Amazon and 229 libraries including the Library of Congress. It will be retained on the Internet and will put you in contact with others who have the same interests. Good Reads is similar. After you register, you find the title to one of your books on and it gets added to your list. If it’s not on Amazon, you enter it manually.


The next blog is called Genealogue and it has links to news at other sites but did not seem as informative as some other blogs.


The next is the Genealogy Blog by Joe Edmond and Leland Metzler, a blog that I subscribe to. It keeps one abreast of the latest goings on in the field of genealogy. Leland is the Editor-in-Chief of Everton’s. We’ll take a look at some of the subjects; the 3700 book collection of President John Adams going online, 35,000 Royal Navy wills going online, UMich joining Google’s digitizing project. You can find articles by subject in the left pane or by date in the left pane if you scroll down. This is one of the best ways to learn if any records that you are interested have gone online.


The next blog on the list is George Morgan’s Along These Lines which he will discontinue but what he’s already done is available. He has a review of, a discussion of Podcasts and a review of new books among many other subjects. You can click on View All Archives in the left pane and then select the blog that you want either by date or subject.


The last we’ll look at is Randy Seaver’s Genea-musings. He has an index into some other blogs that you can go to if the description is about something of interest to you. In the right pane he has a list of other blogs (there are many of them), links to genealogy research sites and an archive listing of his blog.


Message Boards and Mailing Lists


Note: The intent of using examples with which I am familiar is to show how to home in on what you seek by using techniques that maximum your ability to find what you want. Try different search terms to achieve the desired result.

There are many forums that you can go to in order to ask or answer questions about a family name or a location. The two that we’ll cover here are Rootsweb and Genforum. Let’s go and scroll down until we get to Message Boards. There are several choices but we’ll start with Surnames. In the Find a Board box we’ll type in the surname we seek information on. Let’s try to find my 4th great grandfather, James Nichols. We’ll type Nichols in the Find a Board box and we’ll select Nichols from the choice of boards presented. We’ll click on Nichols board and not All Boards and we’ll type in James. We could type in James Nichols but our search for James Nichols will find every page that has both James and Nichols and every page will have Nichols anyway. Either James or James Nichols will get us 936 entries. Each time you search, it defaults to All Boards and entering James there will get over 2,000,000 entries. But 936 entries is a lot to go through. Since he was of Athens VT we can search the Nichols board for that. That way, we reduce the number of hits to 4. The first is a question posted by Roger Nichols who is also researching James Nichols. We click on the title so see the whole post. He and I have been in contact since I read his post. His 2nd great grandfather and mine were brothers and his went to Michigan. Note that next to Roger’s name it says (see posts). By clicking on that you’ll find all of Roger’s posts. There may be something in other posts that may help in learning about a family.


We can also select a forum by location but here we go through selecting the continent, then the country down to the county and then elect that county (Windham) to enter Athens. There are 29 entries but none pertaining to Nichols. You could select Windham and enter Nichols. Try your search several different ways until you limit the replies to a decent number and they include the information that you seek.


We’ll go to where we can either enter a name or location and see if a board exists or click through the letters or region that takes us to the board that we want. We’ll enter Nichols and are presented with only one choice which is the Nichols Genealogy Board. We enter Athens and get 46 responses. We try Athens VT or Athens Vermont and get 0 responses. Most of the 46 are Athens County, Ohio. Use this board as we did the Rootsweb board, using different search terms until we get what we want.


With either site, you can post a question, or answer one but you have to register. It’s free but you have to agree to abide by the rules. One poster was named Hubherby and he was critical of everybody and he was denied access to the Nichols Message Board. His real name was Herb Nichols and he’s probably a relative. He assumed a girl’s username and continued posting but others pointed him out. You can start a new thread in Rootsweb or post a message in Genforum or in either you can reply to a message.


Lets go back to Rootsweb and check out Mailing Lists. You can subscribe to mailing lists getting every post for that list sent to you or you can search through the archives to find posts of interest. We’ll scroll down on until we come to Mailing lists and we’ll click on Surname List Finder and enter Nichols. We’re presented with several names similar to Nichols but under Nichols we have three choices which are to subscribe, search or browse. We’ll choose Search the Nichols Archives. But when we enter a search term here it searches the entire database and not just the Nichols list. But if we go to advanced and enter Athens VT in the Body box and Nichols in the list box we reduce the number of hits to 4, 3 posted by my cousin Roger and one posted by me.


When you subscribe to a list, you can receive every post as it is posted or you can choose the digest form which gives a summary of every post once a week and you can then choose which ones are of interest to you.


There are other forums and mailing lists as well; many family associations have their own as do many town, city or county boards. They are a great way to meet others with the same interest as you have and perhaps able to provide information that you don’t have.