20 October 2011

Dick Eastman on Maine Outhouses I Have Known

At the Ohio Genealogical Society's Fall Conference on Oct 1, Dick Eastman presented three serious presentations on subjects of interest to genealogists (see my previous posts) and one humorous talk for family historians. Here is a report on that talk:

Maine Outhouses I Have Known
Substituting for Dick Eastman in this presentation was Mr. Harry Eastman, Dick's "uncle," outfitted in overalls, boots, and farmer hat, who, with a Maine accent, shared his knowledge of outhouses based on “building them for a living.”
First, he stated this important rule in using the outhouse, “You only go when you really have to go, particularly in February when it is 40 degrees below.”
As for building an outhouse, the number one rule is to situate it down-hill and down-wind from the house. Another rule: Two-hole outhouses aren't made for simultaneous use, but for use by small people and adults. Also, he pointed out that skilled outhouse builders can guarantee “no splinters.”
While most people have traditional outhouses, he presented photos of two- and three–story outhouses. He showed a cross-sectional diagram of how a three-story privy is designed, with offset seating from floor to floor. He noted that with a three-story privy, it is a long ways from launch to splashdown.
In preparing for this talk, Harry Eastman found that people didn't write about outhouse experiences. He invited people in the audience to write down their experiences and pass them along to later generations.

18 October 2011

Dick Eastman on Wikis for Genealogy

One of Dick Eastman's presentations at the Ohio Genealogical Society Fall Seminar (01 Oct 2011) covered the topic of Wikis for Genealogy. Here is a brief overview of that presentation.

What is a Wiki? According to www.dictionary.com, it is defined as a web site that allows anyone to add, delete, or revise content by using a web browser. A wiki is a publishing system. A wiki can be used to publish nearly any kind of information.
A wiki works very well as an encyclopedia. A prime example is Wikipedia, which has a vastly greater number of articles than the former standard: Encyclopedia Britannia.
Why use a wiki? 1. Because it is simple. 2. Anyone can do it. 3. Anyone can contribute. 4. Every subject can include hypertext (e.g. Ohio Genealogical Society, links to Library of Congress, other related subjects).
Eastman suggested that a wiki is a great replacement for a society's publications. It could be available to everybody. It would be relatively easy to create, and it could have many contributors. Also it can updated and added to. A wiki typically is set up so new information goes to a review block, which is reviewed by a panel of administrators, before it is uploaded to the live wiki.
How much does it cost to create a Wiki?  Anywhere from free to $10 per month.

Some wikis in genealogy: Encyclopedia of Genealogy, WeRelate, and WikiTree.

16 October 2011

OGS Gen Boot Camp Was Success

Yesterday (Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011), I attended the OGS Genealogy Book Camp at Camp Isaly, aka the OGS Library in Bellville. I served as a "civilian advisor" to attendees who were learning genealogy in a military setting during the all-day session. The boot camp staff included Drill Instructor Margaret Chaney, Master Sargent Jean Barnes, and Battlion Leaders Sue Zacharias, Dot Martin, and Marlene Applegate. A total of 34 "recruits" signed up for the event and filled the OGS Library conference room almost to capacity. They were divided into three battalions for "G R Duty" (genealogy research) in between training sessions. The training sessions covered Vital Records and Courthouse Research, Census Research, and Researching on the Internet. It was remarkable to see the enthusiasm, especially among some of the recruits who were brand-new to genealogy research.
A selection of photographs is available at the OGS Blog at http://ohiogenealogicalsociety.blogspot.com/2011/10/photos-from-2011-ogs-genealogy-boot.html.

15 October 2011

Dick Eastman on Sharing Information

Here is another report on the OGS Fall Seminar featuring Dick Eastman (my first blog posting about Eastman's presentations was dated 04 Oct  2011 and covered his talk on the Organized Genealogist). The following is on his presentation on sharing information.

In this presentation, Dick Eastman had two primary areas of focus: 1. Making sure that your data is still readable by future generations. 2. How to share as little or as much information as you wish.
Genealogists have favored printed books and microfilm as long-term storage mediums. How long a book lasts depends first of all on the paper it is printed on. Long-term, paper is not very good medium. It must be acid-free to last. Eastman noted that papers from 1975 don't look as good as papers from 1875.
The ink used to make a book also determines its life. Real ink is pretty good for preserving information. It absorbs into the paper and becomes part of the paper. Ink jet printers are not really using ink, but a water-based material that evaporates over time. Archival-quality ink jet printers are available but the printers and inks are more expensive.
Other printers use toner, which looks great but really isn’t ink. Toner consists of tiny particles of plastic deposited on the paper’s surface. It tends to flake off over time.
Life expectancy of microfilm is 200 to 300 years if stored properly and you never use it. Microfilm scratches easily with use. Long-term use requires using of master negatives that are only used to make copies. FamilySearch is aiming to digitize all its microfilm within 10 years.
Google aims to digitize the world's 135 million books by 2020. One advantage of digitized books is that they can be indexed by computer systems.
Eastman recommends that you create digital files. Make multiple copies (backups) and store them in multiple places. He points out, however, that every technology is temporary and lasts about 15 years. Plan to copy materials using new technologies when necessary.
Online backup is the cheapest form of backup. It can be free of charge up to a point, and then only about $50/year for up to 50 GB. Online backup is now cheaper than purchasing a hard drive, and the backup is stored offsite. Making effective use of online backup requires a broadband connection to the Internet.
Cloud computing is the sharing of resources across the Internet. It includes sharing of disc space, and sharing of applications on different computers. Well-known examples of shared applications involve Google docs, Picasa, and gmail.
Options: Keep all of your information private, but protected, and backed up in state-of-the-art data centers. Share bits and pieces of your information but only with people you choose. Share with groups of people, but only with passwords. Make information available with everyone.
The best backup services have multiple data centers and send data to other centers.
With cloud computing, you can easily find matching information supplied by others. 

11 October 2011

FamilySearch to Launch 1940 Census Indexing Effort on Apr 2, 2012

FamilySearch has issued a news release about the 1940 Census and its efforts to provide an index. It says, in part: 

"On April 2, 2012, NARA will provide access to the images of the 1940 United States Federal Census for the first time. Unlike previous census years, images of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be made available as free digital images.

"Upon its release, FamilySearch and its partners will coordinate efforts to provide quick access to these digital images and immediately start indexing these records to make them searchable online for free and open access."

For the complete news release from FamilySearch, with interesting details about the 1940 census, click here:

06 October 2011

Photography Seminar To Be at WRHS Oct 29

The history of photography, types of photos, and the preservation of photographs will be the topics discussed at a Photography Seminar on Saturday, Oct. 29, at Western Reserve Historical Society. The seminar will run from 9 a.m. to noon.
Presenters are Dr. John Grabowski and Margaret Burzynski-Bays, of the WRHS staff. Their presentations will be aimed at family historians. They invite you to bring a photographic sample and questions about it. There will be time to answer your questions.
Fee for the seminar is $20. For registration, contact nanbwl@juno.com or call 440.205.1942. 

04 October 2011

Dick Eastman on Keeping Up with Technology

I traveled last Saturday to Bellville, Ohio, to attend the 2011 Ohio Genealogical Society Fall Seminar, which featured Dick Eastman lecturing on “Keeping Up with Technology.”
He gave four presentations to about 85 members and guests. To accommodate the crowd, OGS arranged to hold the conference at Citi Church, about a half a mile from the OGS Library and headquarters.
Eastman’s first presentation was about “The Organized Genealogist.” During this presentation, he expressed his views on several topics: 1. Searching for information with Google and RSS. 2. Backups. 3. Digitizing research results.
Eastman noted that Google’s mission statement includes the company aim “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” He stressed that this aim includes more than just information found on the Internet, and that it is a long-term goal.
Google indexes static pages, and as a result it is great for finding pages of this type. Static web pages are those that don't change until the owner uploads revised pages. Most personal web pages are static. Google will find most of the information posted on static pages.
Eastman pointed out that Google does not produce search results for dynamic web pages. It cannot go in and extract information from dynamic websites.  Pages offered by these websites change frequently. They may even be created only at the moment you ask for them. In response to your request, a database provider’s computer system works behind the scenes, searching its databases and serving up a results page. This is transferred via the Internet to your computer where a copy is held as long as you look at it. If you go back later and request the same info, the page is recreated and downloaded to your computer again.
Eastman talked about using Google’s special syntaxes to specify languages, set up filtering, and request file in certain formats, i. e., to obtain only the search results you want. This can be done manually, but the easiest way to do this is with Google’s advanced search feature.
He also discussed the cache function on Google. As it indexes a web page, Google makes a new copy and retains a copy of a previous page in a cache. Both types show up in search results. The cache copy may be useful when the indexed page is has changed its contents.
RSS, according to Eastman, is a wonderful tool. For most people, the acronym means  Really Simple Syndication. It automates the search for a topic or subject. It enables you to look for newly changed or newly available information without doing the search yourself. To implement RSS for a website you want to follow, copy the RRS feed link from the website, and paste it into your RSS news reader. Google offers an RSS news reader at no charge, and there are others.
Eastman recommended that your data should exist in three versions: 1. Original. 2. Local Backup. 3. Offsite Backup. For convenience, always keep a backup on a hard drive, cd, dvd, or flash drive. This is your Local Backup. Eastman wants to have his original material ready for use at any time. For this purpose, he uses a 32 GB jump drive. For Offsite Backup, there are several services that will back up your files to their servers. Many of these online services offer free backup to 5 GB. Eastman also backs up his files onto a DVD and stores it offsite--at his daughter’s house.
Digitizing documents and photos is important for several reasons: 1. Improve an original photo, using Photoshop or some other photo manipulation program. 2. Share a document or photo with others. 3. Preservation. 4. Reduce the storage space required.
Eastman said, “I am in the process of scanning all of my papers, books, magazines and genealogy documents. And I am destroying most of the originals--on a selective basis.” He is working to downsize the amount of storage space he needs.

03 October 2011

Learn Genealogy in a Military Setting at the OGS Genealogy Boot Camp

On Saturday, Oct. 15, OGS drill instructors will provide basic training for enlistees—both new and experienced—in genealogy during a day-long (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Genealogy Boot Camp at Camp Isaly, 611 State Route 97 W, Bellville, Ohio.

This should be interesting. I'm told the Boot Camp components include Basics of Genealogy, Census Research, and Using the Internet for Genealogy. There also will be time to practice new techniques using the OGS Library and its Internet access to several popular databases.

Only the first 50 to enlist will be accepted. Registration fee is only $20 and includes "chow" (box lunch).

Click here for information and online registration.