St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Preserving History: How Digital Are Your Records?

If you have ever received a bad file in email or a great big box of outdated floppy discs made by a distant and now dead cousin, you will appreciate the following article.  Actually, you'll enjoy reading the article even if your files have been pristine.

Preserve often--  preserve well..........

The link in the Dick Eastman article will take you to the white paper.  Read it, ponder the super information presented--  and then join me as I search for an achival data reader..........

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

I have written several times about the advantages and disadvantages of storing records digitally for many years, both your personal records as well as the holdings of major archives and records repositories. Now Gary Wright, an employee of FamilySearch, has written a definitive whitepaper on the subject that explains the issues involved with digital archiving. He describes in detail the pitfalls of digital storage of priceless paperwork and of old family photographs that have been digitized. As he explains, if done right, digital archives will last for decades. If done wrong, they may not last three years.

I had a chance to read this whitepaper a few weeks ago when Gary circulated it amongst a number of people in the industry, asking for our comments. I told Gary at that time that he had to publish it on the web and, when he did, to please let me know the address so that I could inform the readers of this newsletter. After all the comments were in, Gary did exactly that. White Paper: Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally is now available on the web site at

I would suggest you read this whitepaper and consider the information within it carefully. Then forward copies to all your genealogy friends, society members, and anyone else with an interest in genealogy. I think every genealogist as well as every person who has heirloom documents and photographs in his or her possession should read White Paper: Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally at

Ahh genealogy. How do I digitize?  Let me count the ways........

©2010 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Founders to go Online

Thought you'd enjoy knowing this fun little tidbit from the National Archives......

National Archives to Put the Founders Online

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grantmaking arm of the National Archives, is pleased to announce a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia (UVA) Press to make freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America.

The NHPRC and UVA Press will create a new web site which provides access to the fully annotated published papers of key figures in the nation’s Founding era. The project is designed to include the papers of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission will provide funding in the amount of up to $2 million for the UVA Press to undertake the work on the published papers.

Through this web resource, users will be able to read, browse, and search tens of thousands of documents from the Founding Era. A prototype web site including the contents of 154 volumes drawn from print editions of the papers of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison will be prepared by October 2011. The fully public version will be launched by June 2012 and will also include the 27 volumes of the Papers of Alexander Hamilton. By June 2013, the Founders Online expects to add the 39 published volumes of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin. The new resource will include the complete contents of 242 printed volumes, including all of the existing document transcriptions and the editors’ explanatory notes.

“This new archive of the Founding Era will revolutionize our understanding,” said David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, “by creating for the first time a free and fully searchable collection of the Founders’ own words in the context of their time. As scholars and statesmen debate the meaning of documents such as the Constitution and Bill of Rights, they can turn to the originals and the wit and wisdom of the Founders’ own debates. And we can only express our gratitude for the effort of dedicated editors and scholars to create this work, a national monument to the founding of our nation.”

This award to help the University of Virginia Press create a new online presence for the papers of our nation's founders is great news for the University and for scholars everywhere," said University President Teresa Sullivan. "For ten years, the Press has built on the pioneering vision of U.Va. faculty to harness digital technology in the service of scholarship and education through the Rotunda imprint. As a public university, we applaud the leadership of the National Archives in bringing this important archive to life. Making these materials available to the public for free reflects the core values of the University and indeed of our nation's founding generation, whose words will now be readily available to teachers, students, and citizens.”

Historian Ron Chernow, author of the recent biography Washington: A Life, said, “Unfortunately, the Founders have become remote and abstract, when in fact they are rich, full-blooded, and fiery characters. This new site will not only help students learn more deeply and develop a visceral love and respect for this era, but it will stimulate interest in history for teachers, too, and will reconnect them to primary sources.”

In conjunction with entering into the cooperative agreement, Archivist David S. Ferriero also announced the appointment of three leading scholars to a special Founding Fathers Advisory Committee. The three members are Edward L. Ayers, President of University of Richmond, and leading scholar on the Civil War and American South; Mary Beth Norton, Professor of American History at Cornell University, and leading scholar on the social and political era of the 17th and 18th century America; and David Hackett Fisher, Professor of History at Brandeis, a leading scholar on the colonial era and Pulitzer Prize-winner author of Washington’s Crossing (2004). The Committee will advise the Archivist on the progress of the Founders’ editorial projects, and it is scheduled to meet at the National Archives on December 13, 2010.

Ahhh, genealogy.  So much reading, so little time.....

©2010 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have to Reach Out to Research in PA for a While

While the PA Archives will be closed to the walking, talking, visiting public for the next several months, all is not in despair.  They will still process inquires if you talk or write to them.....

Pennsylvania State Archives to Close for Four-Month Renovation Project

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) announced today that the State Archives of Pennsylvania will close from Oct. 18 through Feb. 3, 2011, for needed renovations.

While Oct. 16 is the final day researchers can visit the facility at Third and Forster streets in Harrisburg, staff will continue to respond to telephone, e-mail, and postal inquiries during the renovations.

Barbara Franco, PHMC executive director, said the $250,000 project will expand and modernize the existing lobby and public research areas. A larger vestibule is required to facilitate access for people with disabilities and will include automatic doors. The work will provide more space for the increasing number of researchers, as well as new wiring and additional computers to improve access to the collections. Security systems will also be upgraded.

While the renovations will extend the life of the building, plans are still in process to replace the 50-year-old facility that is nearing its capacity. Water leaks exist. The facility lacks adequate environmental controls or fire suppression systems to protect its more than two hundred million pages of one-of-a-kind records, including the Charter from King Charles II to William Penn creating the colony of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission operates the State Archives. Visit the archives online at PHMC's website,, and choose the State Archives link. For further information about the closure or to make research inquiries, call 717-783-3281.

Ahh, genealogy.  Sometimes you just can't walk the walk.  Sometimes, you just have to talk.

©2010 AS Eldredge

Politicians are All in the Family Thru Early Plymouth Connections

Another day, another genealogy find.  I find this story from of interest if only to show we are pretty much all connected to each other one way or another.  We may not share any common interests in the present with some of our extremely distant kin, but we are probably more alike than we realize.  Take, for instance, .... Reveals Midterm Election Connections: President Obama Related to Palin and Limbaugh

/PRNewswire/ -- As Americans prepare to cast their votes in November's mid-term election, today announces that several key political leaders and media personalities are more than mere political allies or political foes—they are actually related.

The world's largest online family history resource reveals that President Barack Obama is related to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Obama and Palin are 10th cousins through common ancestor John Smith. The website also found that Obama is related to one of his most vociferous critics, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Perhaps Rush will ease up on the President when he learns they are actually 10th cousins once removed via common ancestor Richmond Terrell. researchers also discovered that Palin, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and conservative author Ann Coulter are also cousins through Englishman John Lathrop, who was exiled to the United States for becoming a minister of an illegal independent church.

But the connections don't end there. Obama, Palin and former President George W. Bush are also related. Obama and Bush, who both reached the highest office in the land, are 11th cousins through common ancestor Samuel Hinckley. Palin and Bush, who are also 11th cousins, are also related through Hinckley. Apparently leadership runs in the family, since Hinckley's son, Thomas, went on to become governor of Plymouth Colony.

"We have all watched the heated media coverage as the leadership of Congress is at stake in this very contentious upcoming November election," said Anastasia Tyler, a genealogist at "It is not unusual, however, to find family members on different ends of the political spectrum. This election season is an ideal time to look into the family trees of our candidates and their critics to learn more about the ties that make them all part of this great country."

Other Famous Finds

These newfound family connections between our nation's top political players are the latest of several discoveries from the research team at

* In 2009, discovered that Obama and financial investor Warren Buffett are more than just allies. The two men are 7th cousins three times removed.
* also revealed that Obama and actor Brad Pitt are 9th cousins.
* In 2008, announced that then-Governor Sarah Palin is a distant cousin to both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Princess Diana. recently announced it has extended its relationship with NBC for the second season of the hit television series "Who Do You Think You Are?" worked with NBC on the first season of "Who Do You Think You Are?" that debuted in March 2010, providing important family history research for the show, including tracing the roots of the seven celebrities featured.

As for my roots, I do have White House connections to a president, but not the current one.  My blood kin there was James Buchanan.  A presidential gold coin was just released for Buchanan--  I've got one.

Ahh, genealogy.  How many blood lines are hanging around in the ole proverbial woodpile?

©2010 AS Eldredge

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Playing Your Song for Eternity?

This morning, before the caffeine hit the bloodstream, I received a weird story from one of my genealogy buds.  Could it be an early Halloween joke?  It appears there is a company across the pond who will immortalize people or pets by pressing their cremated remains into a vinyl record.

Vinyl record?  This group even offers album cover art with either a photograph of the dearly departed or a painting.  Customize the album with a last message, will, directions, or music and you're ready to go.

After I chuckled at the grim reaper and blood spatters on the website, I wondered how many people could even play a vinyl record.  I think I have a record player tucked away somewhere deep in the dungeon here at the house.

I kind of like the idea of leaving a recording of my voice for my future family members, but I think I will just turn on my video camera for the occasion.  And, my family can always raid the computer and old photograph album books for numerous examples of my smile.

I think I will pass on the offer to spend eternity pressed on a vinyl record.  I think I would rather be pressed into the heart and memories of my loved ones.

Ahh, genealogy.  And the beat goes on.........

©2010 AS Eldredge

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Marking Veterans Final Resting Places

Chances are you have some veterans in the family. Have you thought of honoring the memory of their desire to protect our great land and the freedoms you enjoy?  It's easy and I encourage all genealogy and history buffs to honor your loved ones.

My grandfathers both served America in World War I.  One was in the Army and suffered from the exposure to mustard gas.  Click here to read more of Charlie and his World War I experience and subsequent death.  The other grandpa was in the Navy for a short stint, and died happily at an old age.

While my dad is buried in a military cemetery and has an official veterans marker, my grandfathers do not.  Since my grandpas both have headstones at their final resting spot, I have not had the reason to seek honoring their military service with a government issued headstone. But wait--  can I do it now?

Just recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced a new option to honor our veterans who are buried in private (non-government) cemeteries and who have privately purchased headstones.

Now, we can honor our veterans' service to our great land with the addition of a bronze medallion to the existing headstone.  For veterans who died on or after November 1, 1990, the medallion can be ordered through the VA.  For more information on the medallion option, visit

Perhaps, the VA will soon have these medallions available for veterans who died before 1990.  Wouldn't that be great?

Ahh, genealogy.  Loving the past and wanting to honor my special veterans---  always and all ways.

©2010 AS Eldredge

Family Tree Maker for Macintosh Pre-Sale

 The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at announced last spring that the company would re-introduce Family Tree Maker for Macintosh before the end of the year. Apparently, the company plans to meet that deadline. The product isn't available yet but is now taking orders and is promising delivery in "early November." Best of all, those who order the product now will receive a 20% discount.

A new page has appeared on's online store to says (in part):
Family Tree Maker for Mac - Pre-Sale
20% Off

Introducing Family Tree Maker for Mac
For 20 years, Family Tree Maker has been the #1-selling family history software. Millions of people have used it to discover, preserve and share their family stories. Now Mac users can too.
Family Tree Maker for Mac, which is based on Family Tree Maker 2010, makes organizing, researching and sharing your family history easier than ever, whether you're just getting started or already an expert.
The web site then goes on at some length giving details of the new program's capabilities. To be blunt, it all sounds identical to the capabilities of the Windows version and I'd suggest that is a good thing.

Near the bottom of the web page, it says "This item has not yet been released. It will be released and shipped in early November."

Family Tree Maker for Macintosh will retail for $69.95. The online store is offering it as a "pre-sale" for a 20% discount: $55.96.

I ordered my copy today.

You can find's online description and order page at