Monthly Archives: August 2005

Disasters, Natural and Otherwise

I’m going to leave this at the top of for a few days, because I think it’s very important.

Nobody wants to think about disasters, natural and otherwise, whether it’s a fire or something like Hurricane Katrina that has caused so much devastation, or even something lost during a move, but you should think about them, and think about them long before they happen if possible.

A friend sent me a really good article by Lorelle and Brent VanFossen, on their site, Taking your camera on the road.

It’s called Know Before You Go: Paperwork

When we hit the road for more than a couple weeks, we used to have a notebook of papers we’d carry with us. There is a lot of papers you need to take with you when you take your life on the road and we’d rounded up quite a collection. Preparing to evacuate from Israel with the upcoming war with Iraq, we decided to lighten the load, literally.

We gathered up all the important papers in our life and scanned them all onto a CD. We still had to carry copies and originals of the most important papers, but now we had a lightweight, easy to carry, single item to haul around for those necessary but not “must have” pieces of paper. Our first CD was very simple, but now we’ve encrypted the information to make it harder to access if we lose the CD and it gets “found”.

They detail the kinds of documents people need in certain situations, how to store it (including online), and provide a comprehensive list of documents that one might need in an emergency.

Take everything they mention and scan it in, store it somewhere, make copies.

Now how does it tie into genealogy?

Apply the same principals. They mention leaving copies in safe deposit boxes, or even with friends or family members.

Take all of the genealogy information you have, plus all of the photos you have scanned in, plus copies of correspondence, photos of items that were passed down in the family, take all of that, put it on CDs or DVDs (preferably make multiple copies on multiple brands of media just to be safe).

Put copies in safe deposit boxes, and give a copy to friends or family in another city (preferably another state), because think about it for a moment – what if you are the one person in the family that everybody gives family-history type items to. What if something happened to your home. What if you lost all of that.

There are two instances in my immediate family where important documents of this nature were lost, one during a move, one during a house fire, that I would dearly love to have. A few hours of work and $10 worth of CDs or DVDs could insure that future generations of your family have something to look back upon.

Genealogy Software

I was going to mention a “new” site (at least new in the sense of a new domain name), but now it appears I’ll mention two sites, since they are closely related.

One is Genealogy Software News ( It’s an “independent” site dedicated to news concerning genealogy software. This is one of those things I didn’t realize the community needed, until I saw it. There are plenty of sites that list software, but I really haven’t seen any that try to keep up on all of the genealogy software.

The other is Genealogy Software Guide and Database ( I follow Cyndi’s List and Louis Kessler’s site, and occasionally I’ll browse the software forums at Ancestry and Usenet, and all of that is quite a bit to handle, but I’m going to keep track of this one as well, because they mention trying to catalog all of the genealogy software, not just the latest, as well as put together information on past versions.

Guys and gal (one of them is a gal going by the names), if you need an expert on Commodore 64 – Family Roots (I believe it ran on TRS-80s and early Apples as well), or Family Tree 4.0 for the Mac, I might be able to remember a few things (I might even still have the software somewhere).

I remember a few months ago, somebody was looking for an old MSDOS genealogy application on one of the genealogy forums. Hopefully they’ll find their way to that site.

Passion for Preserving the Past

In The Daily News Journal (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Nancy De Gennaro wrote an article, Passion for preserving the past.

From the article:

“Do you know how many people it takes to produce you?” asks local genealogist Jerry Anderson. “In 10 generations, there can be as many as 512 people that produced you. Now you know why we’re all related.”

For the most part, queries such “Who are we?” and “Where did we come from?” are inherent to the human psyche. If Web sites devoted to family genealogy are any indication of interest, millions of Americans are trying to answer these age-old questions.

“I think we need to know who we were to be able to know who we are,” says avid genealogical researcher Jerry Anderson of Murfreesboro.

Yet another positive article about the interest in genealogy, and it reinforces my belief that the interest in genealogy is growing at a much faster rate than years past.

More on J.K. Rowling’s Genealogy

J.K. Rowling’s genealogy has generated quite a bit of interest in the press. This article mentions a twist though, that Rowling is contacting historians in Hawaii about her possible ancestry. Normally, when your as rich and famous as she is and your past is muddled, you probably have more than a few amateur sleuths, err genealogists trying to figure out if your somehow related, and if so, can you perhaps be invited to a few of her parties. This is part of the “I’m related to royalty” syndrome, although it’s 2005 and royalty is out and celebrities like this are in.

Chris Cook, in The Garden Island (KAUAI News – Hawaii) wrote:

The link is a Kaua‘i doctor of the Victorian era who may be Rowling’s maternal great-grandfather. The doctor’s name is Dugald Campbell, a Scottish physician who came to Kilauea Plantation in January 1885 to serve as a plantation physician, according to a genealogy Web page on the Web site out of Great Britain. Campbell studied at Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities before coming to Kaua‘i.

Kilauea Plantation was British-owned in the 1880s and attracted a number of English and Scottish managers and engineers to the North Shore.

It’d be great to have her kind of resources to research your family’s past, but on the flip side – you would never get anything done. Just think about J.K. Rowling walking into a library or research center somewhere – the place would go nuts and the line for autographs would quickly form (meanwhile people are phoning their friends, which will just make it worse within an hour).

Confusing planning with doing

Chuck Avery wrote a great column in The Star Press (Indiana): Confusing planning with doing. It involved genealogy research and the makings of a good novel.

From the article:

All these things have been enjoyable and make me think that I am writing my novel. But after a while, reality sits me down under a strong light, slaps me in the face a couple of times and makes me confess that I’m lying.

There is no novel.

Oh, I’ve filled a few manuscript pages, but after each tentative start I decide that I need more information before proceeding. So I quit my keyboard and pick up yet another book. All this planning with meager results has given me an understanding of why diet books are perennial best-sellers.

I’d swear he wrote that column about me.