Computer Users’ Group

May 16, 2002

FamilySearch: The LDS site on the Internet in www.familysearch.org and offers several items of interest. Our main concern today is with the Pedigree Resource File and what you can get from it on-line and what you get from the disks.

Our Internet demonstration today consists of files previously download and saved to be “viewed off-line” so there’s no flexibility in what we choose to see. Starting with the Familysearch home page we’ll click to open Search for Ancestors. On the search page we’ll search for Samuel Chapin. (Samuel’s statue stands in front of the Springfield, MA Public Library). While we could limit our search to only one of the items in the box on the left of the page (for us that would be Pedigree Resource File) lets let it all of the items offered. They include Ancestral File, IGI British Isles, IGI North America, IGI World Misc, Pedigree Resource File, Social Security Death Index and Other Web Sites.

We’ll click on the first entry under PRF and that will take us to the entry for Samuel Chapin. Note that the only links are to his wife, his father, his mother and a link that starts with AFN. There are no links to a GEDCOM file or any other way to download the information on Samuel’s family. You can look at it one generation at a time by clicking on the parents links. Note that Samuel does not have any children shown. If a descendant put that up there’s a chance he had kids!! But PRF doesn’t show them. In general, the PRF on the internet is only the index into the disks.

What happens if we click the AFN number? That number is the number of an associated Ancestral File; perhaps it’s one submitted by the same person. When we click that link we’re taken to an index listing for the person that we are viewing in PRF and clicking on that will take us to the Ancestral file for that person. Note that now you can see the family pedigree and also download a GEDCOM file.

Now lets do the same thing with the PRF disks. We’ll start with the Index disk. Note that when we get Sam up on the screen there’s a box that says Pedigree Files. One would expect that when you click on that, it would ask you to insert the disk on which Sam can be found. If that doesn’t happen than you haven’t finished the installation. Unlike most reasonable programs, this program insists that all disks be installed separately. If a disk is not installed, the program tells you how to order one; if they are installed, clicking Pedigree Files will ask for the appropriate disk.

When we get the Sam’s pedegree up, not the boxes at the top of the page. In particular, note that to the right of the word view there are several boxes that are duplicated to the right of the word report. If you just want to look , use the first set of boxes; if you want to print something out, use the second set.

You can extract GEDCOM files from these disks to enter into your own program and append or merge with your family file.

FIRST WARNING: Extract the GEDCOM to a named file such as CHAPIN. Use your genealogy program to go through it in detail to insure that it’s correct. Use primary sources where available to insure accuracy. If you can’t find the data in a Vital Records File, use a secondary source such as a published genealogy that has sources listed or a competent journal that lists sources. Check the sources for each entry. Most will be from other erroneous Internet data. When you are sure that what you’ve downloaded and cleaned up is accurate, you can merge it into your genealogy file.

We did file merging in FamilyTreeMaker at an earlier session. We also covered how to split a file into two or more parts. In general, you want to move within the file to be downloaded to the ancestor that’s common between that file and yours. If you want to down load the entire file for other reasons, extract that portion of the downloaded file that contains the one common ancestor and has been purified to eliminate all errors. Merge that file with your parent file.

SECOND WARNING: Before you merge anything into your parent file, make a compressed backup of that file. You should do that every so often so that when catastrophe strikes, 12,000 of you ancestors aren’t simultaneously turned to dust. In FTM, click on file and backup. Select drive A and backup to a floppy disk. You could select drive C: but if your hard drive goes south, so do all of your ancestors.

We’ll discuss any problems that you might have and then we’ll look at Pastfinders’ Home Page. On the way there, we’ll discuss how to create your own “start” page so you’ll have all of your most used sites at your finger tips without having to go through “favorites”. Since there’s always more than one way to do something we’ll show some alternate ways to have ready access to your most used pages.

On our way to look at Pastfinders’ Home Page we took a moment to see the START page that I use as my Home Page. I showed how to create your own START page so you’ll have all of your most used sites at your finger tips without having to go through “favorites”.

I used Front Page Express that comes with versions of Windows up to Windows 98. It is not included with Win 98 SE or later to create my own START page. I just started by creating a table with three columns and about 10 rows. I later added a second table with 4 rows below the first. Lay out on paper how you would organize yours. Decide how many categories you'll need and make as many columns as you have categories. However, more than 5 columns across may make the columns a bit small so opt for a second table or multiple categories in a column. Type in the headings and they enter a description for each page you want listed such as "Pastfinders". Highlight the descripting and click on INSERT and then HYPERLINK. Select Http: from the list box if it's a page on the Internet and then type in the URL in the box. You can enter pages from your own hard drive or CD by entering the appropriate address under File: instead of Http:.

Once you've finished, save the file and then open your browser and in Internet Explorer, go to TOOLS and then INTERNET OPTIONS and in the box for Home Page ADDRESS enter File:///c:/filename.htm where filename.htm is the name of the file that you just created. Now when you start your browser you'll start at your very own home page. Try all of the links to make sure that they work. If not, open the file again in Front page express, place your cursor on the offending link and got to EDIT and then HYPERLINK and correct it. Save it again.

We then went to Pastfinders and looked through some of the previous meeting summaries. While we didn't go there, we did talk about all of the frree books available on the Internet. See Free Books to see some of the sites. Note that many can be downloaded into a Palm or other hand held computer to be read at your leisure. Palm makes e-book software and Microsoft has an e-book reader that can read the text out loud for you. Talk about lazy!!