Numerous folks have requested information on the results of my DNA analysis. (I used 23andMe to run my analysis.)
Animation of the structure of a section of DNA. The bases lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The following links will hopefully provide an adequate review of the information I am willing to make publicly available. Should you desire additional information/ particulars, please contact me directly; I may, or may not, be willing to provide additional information.
Ancestry Composition – Ancestry Composition tells what percent of your DNA comes from each of 22 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, recently I came across a VERY promising research tool to assist in gathering, sorting, and sharing research source materials. That tool is called Mendeley . It enhances, compliments, and can even replace tools like Zotero. It, also, links interactively with desktop word processing tools like LibreOffice/OpenOffice and perhaps even M$Office (although I don’t own a copy of that to test). Mendeley, also, allows me to share its content across multiple platforms including my Linux Laptops, my iPad and, according to the provider, Mac and Windows. Finally, the tool itself tracks, inventories and gathers information from within Firefox and similar web browsers or directly from my Desktop, if I happen to have my information there.
Oh, and before I forget… did I mention the tool allows for socializing selected information and publications (individually or through Groups of Common Interest). Oh yes, and basic Mendeley usage is Free.
Three quick additional items:
If you are performing genealogy research and want to join in sharing resources and source materials with me, please join Mendeley and my “Mennonite Genealogy Researchers” Group (Note: this group requires a Mendeley Account to View).
If you are interested in following some of my exploits in using the Mendeley Toolsuite you can my publicly available ‘research’ (meaning you don’t need to use Mendeley to see these HERE).
I have begun to rely on this tool for all my Prussian Mennonite research and find it very useful and easy to use. I plan on continuing to expand my use of Mendeley into the future. This tool is now ‘officially’ a standard part of my genealogy research tool-kit.
As a genealogist that conducts much of his research on the web, good data and image gathering tools are extremely helpful. As a person who relies heavily on the PC as a genealogical repository and information processor, tools that help me sort and process the information I gather are highly valued (prized). In all fairness, I also ought to restate that I rarely (VERY rarely) work with any software outside of the OpenSource (or Free) realm unless I have a hugely compelling reason to do so.
I must, additionally, admit that I am very new to many (read almost all) of these tools. It is also worth knowing that several of these tools are brand new to the world (or perhaps even a little bit newer than new). Nonetheless, I thought archiving and sharing these pointers might be useful. It is my hope that you, too, might be willing to share additional information or insights you might have regarding these or other, even better tools. With mutual sharing, we will all learn and benefit.
Having said all that, here are the innovative tools which most recently appeared on my radar screen.
I have recently come into contact with a family member who luckily has a long and detailed memory of the times and travails of my “German” family in and after WW2. Because of the information from that source plus the information I have gathered from my immediate family over the years, I am attempting to use this tool to understand and write the overall story/ flow of events of that place and time. Obviously Storybook is intended for novels but then family histories are stories, too; they just are not fiction. To quote the Storybook site:
Storybook is a free Open Source novel-writing software for creative writers, novelists and authors which will help you to keep an overview of multiple plot-lines while writing books, novels or other written works.
This tool (and others like it) are useful when you want to write and be uninterrupted on your PC. Hard to believe but electronic interruptions can and are a major distraction. Sometimes you just want to write…
As their site states: FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It utilizes a hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, allowing the program to have a familiar look and feel to it while still getting out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work. It’s available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, and has been translated into many different languages.
As I mentioned at the outset, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on any of these tools or their competing products. After all as the Beatles once said, sometimes:
In keeping with the theme of my previous posting, here are some additional pointers to genealogy software and software reviews. Be aware that none of the listings are complete, nor do they over-lap to any significant amount. Each list is “somewhat” to “a lot” unique.
Additionally you should note, not all the listings or reviews have been “conducted” or “written up” by software professionals or genealogists. Many are simply a compendium of personal opinions or available happenstance; but that does not mean they are not helpful or informative. In total the articles should paint a reasonably complete portrait of options and considerations.
The bottom line is, if you are in search of new, improved genealogy software or options, these links/ articles may help you in your search:
As most of our readers know, I belong to numerous on-line forums and discussion threads. Lately there have been numerous requests for assistance in the selection of Genealogy software. Hopefully this post will provide some help in that vein while making the responses obtained via email from the discussion forums both more meaningful and valuable.
The first thing to be aware of when you ask for help in picking software is that you will get your respondents biases along with their recommendations, even if they don’t mean to provide you their biases. Software after all is a reflection of both its users and authors. To help you sort through that challenge, you ought to think carefully about:
what you have,
what you need,
what you want,
what would be nice to have and also about
what inconveniences you are willing to put up with…
To start, you need to think about the all functions you have currently, and those that you want to preserve going forward. Once you know those, you need to be very clear about what you hope to accomplish with the new tools you desire to evaluate/ purchase. Here are some items worth thinking about although I’d be remiss were I not to point out that this is neither a complete nor prioritized list (oh, and it reflects my biases).
Do you prefer a single user PC-based solution? If you do, then you need to consider the operating system you prefer to use (For example, I am a Linux user with little interest in either Windows or Apple OSes.)
The major Operating system options are:
Blended OS environment (which OSes do you want…)
Do you want your genealogy information/ data published or shared on the Web? If so,
Do you want everything hosted and managed on-line exclusively? (e.g. Ancestry.com)
Do you want your genealogy information to be self-hosted? (e.g. TNG)
Or do you prefer a blended site providing a subset of data from a PC application and reformatted for web based sharing? (e.g. ManyRoads)
Are there special functions you want to retain from your current or earlier systems, like your data? If so, then you need to consider how you will transfer the data from your old environment to the new one. Here are some other items you might consider:
Do you have printers, scanners, multimedia devices, etc. that you want to use in the new environment? If so, you ought to test them out.
Do you want to run your new system alongside some other system (maybe even your old one)? If so, you need a plan to make sure that happens successfully.
Are you certain your old system can output data in a format that the new one can read/ understand? You should test that out or you’ll risk a serious failure.
How much money are you willing or wanting to spend on the new system? Here are some items that can impact your costs:
Does the new software system run on your existing computing platform?
Do you need to buy a new computer to make the software run?
Do you need training to get the new system operational?
Do you have a family geek to help you with your technical problems or will you need to pay someone for the help?
How much does the software cost? (Remember Open Source software is free… e.g. GRAMPS)
Does the software provider provide support? What does the support cost?
If you answer the above to your satisfaction, then you need to consider human factors… and don’t trust strangers to interpret ill-defined requests correctly for you. Questions like:
Is it easy to use?
Is it fast?
How stable is the system?
Does the software require a lot of technical know-how?
Responses to questions like these most certainly involve personal opinions and biases. One person’s “technical” is another’s “light-touch” user. “Complex” for one is “essential” or “robust” for others. You need to use and experience software in order to get a decent answer that fits your true needs and concerns. Asking is a start but it is just that, a start…
Presenting readable, genealogical information, data, and stories is a complex challenge. It seems to me that people’s lives ought to be expressed as more than family trees, dates, and lineages. I have been struggling with this problem for quite a while. Perhaps you have as well.
Over the years, I have noticed a few ‘special’ difficulties in making this type of information, useful, accessible, easy to find not to mention human. The major problem areas, for me, have centered around the following:
genealogical data & stories can run deep & wide (they may, and often do, involve a lot of data from many locations, sources, and media)
genealogical data/ information itself evolves and changes. It changes often (even more than often for those of us who make lots of mistakes or find new things frequently); AND! the changes are irregular or unpredictable.
my personal belief is that genealogy information is best when it is humanized with stories, histories, oral traditions (now written down), images, maps, etc.
Given these challenges and the fact that I use a website environment, one built using WordPress plus GRAMPS; I thought I’d attempt a melding of several techniques and technologies in order to make a more user friendly presentation format for my genealogy information. Three example pages, of my latest ‘integration’ efforts, may be viewed at:
am I succeeding, am I heading in the right direction???
does this presentation style (format) seem generally helpful, useful, easy to use?
I would greatly appreciate your input. If you are willing to share your thoughts with me, you may either use our Contact page or Comment below to voice them.
If there is demand for pointers on how this was all built, I am happy to provide that in another posting or set of postings, for now suffice it to say I have done some minor tweaks with WordPress and GRAMPS to build the example pages above; oh, these pages will largely maintain themselves automagically.
If you, like me, research and search for family through the area of West Prussia (Westpreussen)- East Prussia (Ostpreussen) and Pomerania (Pommern), these sites will be of interest. I have also listed all these sites on the links page of ManyRoads. (Please Note! the links to external webpages are in the headers themselves and they appear before the individual site descriptions, when one exists.)
If you are looking to find information on missing relatives from the Second World War, these sites are most helpful:
The German Red Cross Tracing Service has always been on the side of those in need and by taking this attitude truly is acting in accordance with the supreme principle guiding the German Red Cross: devotion to humanity.
Inspired by this central idea the German Red Cross Tracing Service has been going to great lengths for a period of time longer than 65 years to throw light on the fate of persons missing as a result of World War II.
In den nahezu lückenlosen Unterlagen des Kirchlichen Suchdienstes sind heute über 20 Millionen Personen nach den früheren Wohnsitzen in den Vertreibungsgebieten im Zeitraum 1939 bis 1945 (Stichtag 01.09.1939) namentlich erfasst. Davon haben die meisten ihre Heimat durch Flucht, Vertreibung, Umsiedlung und Aussiedlung verloren.
To gather additional information about the areas of several former German Eastern Areas, these sites are quite useful:
Danzig, eine der ältesten Handels- und Industriestädte an der Ostsee, liegt fünf Kilometer oberhalb der Weichselmündung in der Danziger Bucht. Das Weichseldelta mit der Danziger Region war im Laufe der Jahrhunderte bis in die Gegenwart Schauplatz wechselvoller geschichtlicher Ereignisse. Die Bedeutung Danzigs entwickelte sich aus der geschützten Handelslage als Flussmündungshafen mit einem sich bis zu den Karpaten erstreckenden Hinterland.
“Es gibt dreierlei Menschen: gute, schlechte und Albinger” – wenn Sie mehr über die Stadt Elbing und ihre Menschen (eben die “Albinger”) erfahren möchten, sind Sie auf meiner Elbing-Seite herzlich willkommen!
Die Pommersche Landsmannschaft will den Zusammenhalt aller Pommern, ihrer Vereinigungen und Einrichtungen wahren und fördern und vertritt die Rechte aller aus ihrer pommerschen Heimat vertriebenen, geflüchteten oder ausgesiedelten Deutschen und deren Nachkommen.
Although many of these site pages offer English translations, I find the translated documents to be only marginally easier to use than the Polish original pages (and my Polish is limited to the ever present and marginally accurate Google Translate). Nonetheless, these archives look to be a very positive resource and representative of a very hopeful trend!
Should you know of other online Polish Archives you believe we should share, please let me know and I will review and add them to our list for all to use.
dlibra in Poznan is in the process of electronically disseminating German Casualty lists from WW1. As of this writing, the library has published dozens of documents from the years of 1914, 1915 and 1918. You may find the complete lists (as they are updated) on the Wielkopolska Biblioteka Cyfrowa site.
Note: These lists are neither digitally indexed nor searchable. In order to find those you seek, you will need to read the lists ‘manually’.
Randy Majors has created a genealogy Google query tool that seems quite helpful. His search tool attempts to optimize Google searches. You may test it directly below. If you prefer to use Randy Major’s site directly, please use this link!
So you search for images as well, you say. I know I do. I find the search for images to be something of an obsession for me. I especially value those photos I am able to find that are of the German Expulsion or the area around Elbing in the former West Prussia, where my mother grew up.
In keeping with my earlier article on Google Search Tips, I thought folks might appreciate some hints on Google search tricks for images. So here are a few.
Firstly, it is important to note that the syntax for image searches is really not very different from the syntax for any other type of search. What follows is a rather complex search string for an image of “Preussen” or (Prussia in German).
preussen site:commons.wikimedia.org “in the public domain” “jpg – Wikimedia” OR “jpeg – Wikimedia” OR “png – Wikimedia” (You might want to try this out on Google.)
Other options and syntax that we could have added to our search string include:
searches for image filetypes e.g.; elbing filetype:png or jpeg|jpg|gif|…
searches for images of a desired size we could add &imgsz=small or to get a different size use any of the following terms instead of small – medium|large|xlarge|xxlarge|huge
if we only wanted a sketch or human image we could have added to our search string &imgtype=face|lineart (where face would yield a person and lineart a sketch/ drawing)
and should we have been concerned about the copyright we could have added &as_rights=cc_publicdomain other options available include cc_attribute|cc_noncommercial|cc_nonderived (where cc is a creative commons license)
As you might imagine the variations are essentially limitless. Hopefully you will try a few of these variations and see how the searches result in different images. The bottom line is that this should help you see fewer but more valuable images. Good hunting!
It is hard enough finding genealogy information and losing it has always seemed like a bad idea to me. I am writing this post today in hopes of helping you save your genealogy data… and just perhaps, just perhaps, you will take advantage of this risk-free, cost-free suggestion and back things up before you lose them! (Did you notice the shameless, shy-less, cheap plug in that paragraph?)
About two months ago, I wrote a posting entitled Whoa, Backup! In that posting, I discussed backups in a general or generic sense- I attempted to provide some insight into the benefits and wisdom, etc. of backups. So I won’t repeat that material, you may follow this link to read what was said then: Whoa, Backup!
This update posting will hopefully give, those of you who decide to follow my recommendations, a bunch of free online storage. How much will depend on your specific situation but it could be as much as 100GB. Wuala is an online backup service by LaCie. Their desktop app works on Windows, Mac, and Linux (I’m running it on Ubuntu Linux).
You should note that your encrypted (encoded) data is distributed across numerous servers around the world. To quote the Wuala site:
Wuala protects your privacy.
All files are directly encrypted on your desktop. Your password never leaves your computer. Not even we as the provider can access your files or your password.
Wuala provides bank-level security.
Wuala employs proven encryption technology (AES, RSA and SHA) to secure your data.
Wuala stores your files in multiple places.
To keep your data safe, your files are stored redundantly in many different locations. Our servers are based in Switzerland, Germany and France.
Wuala is based on unique technology.
Our technology has been developed and researched at the ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
Your password and security keys are stored locally on your computer only, not even the folks at Wuala have access to them. I am personally very satisfied with Wuala’s security measures, but perhaps others are not. You may read more on Wuala here.
(Please let me know if any of the codes fail so I may remove them. Also please let me know if you find any new ones and I’ll place them here.)
Also, you can get up to another 3GB of free storage by referring 12 friends (you will receive 250MB per referral). If you total all that up, you have a potential of 19GB of free and secure (my opinion) backup space.
Beyond that, you can elect to trade your on-line hard drive space to the Wuala cloud (I do not do that because of my slow DSL connection.). Whatever amount you trade you will receive an equivalent amount in on-line storage (up to 100GB). This calculation, however, is based on your computer’s on-line time. So it is unlikely that you will get all of that space but rather a lesser percentage. Ultimately, if you use all the above codes, and trade your ‘on-line space’ you have the possibility of achieving 119GB backup space for free.
For those seeking source documents from former German areas in the region of West/ East Prussia I have added numerous Elbing City Yearbooks along with other data. In addition, I am completely reformatting the ManyRoads library pages.
The reason for the alterations on ManyRoads stems from a contact I received this week. It seems certain organizations want me to present direct links to original source documents housed in their facilities, even though I do not use their format or digitalization. To me the request sounded peculiar since all the documents are in the public domain and out of copyright. Additionally the request sounded strange to me because it seemed like a request for me to leech documents from anothers’ sites; and, I was always taught that leeching was both unethical and undesirable. But the folks were insistent that only direct, document download links would do.
So, I am in the process of gathering the links, reformatting my pages and hopefully making people a bit happier. As always, I am glad to provide every manner of kudo I can think of in appreciation for the digital images/data provided by others; and, I think I do so quite regularly and broadly. Certainly without the efforts of others, I would have missed out on a lot of information. But now, I am perplexed. Is stealing CPU and Network bandwidth good in some countries and bad in the US? I guess I don’t know.
What I do know is that I still appreciate the documents folks outside the US have digitally generated. I plan to continue to use and present their works. I also want to be sensitive to and respect their requests for credit… but sometimes these requests come into conflict with both normative professional behaviors and legal requirements in my home country. What to do?
Well, I have decided to present links to all original source documents using the name of the respective source library as a link. Here’s where I ask you to please note, ManyRoads is not responsible for the quality of any external links (security, accessibility, etc.). I sure hope I don’t get in trouble for honoring this type of linking request here at home or in other countries to which I now provide direct document links. I really would like a consistent framework for my library pages; and, I really do not want to have a unique arrangement for every country or organization from which I source materials.
Oh well! Since I have to rewrite and reformat each page now, you will note that I am attempting to convert most texts archived on ManyRoads into pdf format at the same time- per numerous ManyRoads readership requests. The pdf formatted texts are of a much lower image quality than those in DJVU format due to size limitations/ constraints (they are actually one quarter as dense). This conversion could take a long time to complete but if you use DJview or similar on your PC, you, also, have the capability to convert the ManyRoads DJVU files locally. Also please note that almost all ManyRoads files are downloadable by using a right mouse click (or similar). The same is not always true of the original source materials.
If you are performing research in Quebec, the Rituel du Diocèse de Québec may prove useful in providing clues regarding the name or names of your ancestors. To quote the PRDH:
Among Catholics, choice of first name wasn’t left to chance or parents’ imagination. On the contrary, the church liked to control the attribution of first names to ensure that on the day they were baptised, children received the name of a saint who would guide them throughout their life. In the Rituel du Diocèse de Québec, which laid out the rules to follow for writing baptismal, marriage, and burial certificates in Quebec, Monsignor de Saint-Vallier stipulated, “The Church forbids Priests from allowing profane or ridiculous names to be given to the child, such as Apollon, Diane, etc. But it commands that the child be given the name of a male or female Saint, depending on its sex, so that it can imitate the virtues and feel the effects of God’s protection.”
If, like me, you seek relatives who fought on the German side of a war, you might have experienced difficulty in finding information about these forebears.
One of the most useful online services I have encountered in this area is the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (link below). It is through the wonderful efforts of the Kriegsgräberfürsorge that I have been able to find information about two of my great-uncles, who lost their lives in WW1:
The Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V. is a humanitarian organization which is charged by the Federal Republic of taking care of registering the German war dead abroad and to ensuring that it is updated and monitored. The German Public Alliance advises relatives of war grave care, supervises public and private sites, supports international cooperation and assists within the sector of war grave care and fostering the engagement of young people in the last resting-place of the war-dead. [...]
Acting within the scope of bilateral agreements, the Volksbund started their work within Europe and Northern Africa, being responsible for 824 war gravesites in 45 countries with about 2.4 million war dead soldiers. More than 9,000 volunteers and 582 salaried employees fulfil the various activities of the organisation today.
After the political revolution within Eastern Europe the countries of the former Eastern Bloc were included in the work of the Volksbund. Approximately three million German soldier’s had lost their lives in the eastern countries in World War II. i.e. more then twice as many as the rest of the war gravesites in the West which brought the Volksbund immense challenges not least that more than 100,000 graves were difficult to find, had been destroyed, had been overbuilt or had been plundered. Regardless the Volksbund took care, repaired and constructed more than 300 cemeteries of World War II and the 190 grounds out of World War I in Eastern, Central and South Europe. There are 54 central cumulative cemeteries. Approximately 673,000 war dead have been reinterred.
Hopefully this organization will be helpful to you in your search(es).
Last evening, my wife and I watched a documentary on Poland, it covered the Gdansk (Danzig)- Szczecin (Stettin) area in particular. Baltic Coasts – Hidden Treasures: Explore the coastline from Vistula Lagoon via Gdansk Bay to the sandy beaches and steep cliffs of Pomerania and West-Pomerania.
The reason for this post involves what I learned from one of the featured individuals, a talented young Photographer; his name- Michal Szlaga. Looking at his name never made me think of German descent or Germanic heritage but then the announcer pronounced his name and it was Michael Schlaeger / Schläger (exactly).
You can imagine my surprise. I certainly would never have pronounced his name Michal Szlaga as Michael Schlaeger. (btw. please enjoy his site.) But there it was, a Germanic sounding name in Polish spelling.
If you are researching the Baltic region, as I do, this little example provides a useful object lesson in spelling and heritage/ research. Be cautious that you are not fooled by spelling.. sound counts, too. If you do not know the pronunciation of particular languages you can and will be fooled.
German Genealogy is not much different from any other genealogy. You really need to have a plan as you begin your research, especially if you are unfamiliar with the region/ area or time period. Never assume that one locale looks like or offers information or data in the same as another. Each area, region or time frame offers its own unique idiosyncrasies, its own information. German research is really no different in this regard from other places; it is not the US or Canada and the available data is different from that commonly available in North America. Having said all that, this posting is more of a concrete example on how to approach Genealogy research; what works for me, may or may not work for you.
Let me begin by saying that most of my genealogy researches have taken place in the areas of Germany listed below; also, it is important to note that my research is almost exclusively in the timeframe of 1600-1945. Most frequently my family and client information are sourced from the provinces of:
I have provided links to each of the areas I research, as an example; it is important for everyone, me included, to know ‘a little’ about the area and times in which a target population lived. I have provided links to Wikipedia because Wikipedia is easily accessed, reasonably accurate, and readily available. However, do not assume that the histories in Wikipedia are consistent with others you may find or need to find. As a matter of fact, if you can read German, look up a single region (above) in the English version of Wikipedia and then in the German version of Wikipedia; often you will discover significant differences in facts and emphasis. More importantly, once you have researched something in Wikipedia, look up the same time or place in a text book (I have numerous historical texts located on ManyRoads, for you to view.). Again, you will notice variations in the accounts of ‘the same history’.
It is worth noting that historical variations are exacerbated by crucial factors such as the loss of a war. In other words, knowing the American or British account of a battle or war is not the same as knowing a German account. If you are attempting to understand what may have happened to a relative who was’ on the other side’ of an event; you need to understand ‘their’ perspective, not just the one you may have been taught in school.
So what does all of this mean?
Well as you begin your search, learn a bit about the times (from the perspective of those who lived there). A balanced view of what was going on, or survived that time, will provide you with good clues on where to search and what you might expect to find. Do not assume that a single account or family story will provide you with an adequate understanding of who your relatives were and what ’caused’ them to act the way they did (ie. emigrate to the US, join the SS, or help Jews escape).
Remember popular history is always written by the victors; Germans rarely found themselves in that role… in the last century. As a result the history you ‘know’ may not explain the choices your German relatives made or even the options they had. You simply need to dig a little deeper.
So where are the best places to find German Genealogy data?
I hear this question, or something similar, often. Perhaps it is because I am an American that I notice, but it seems most Americans I hear from expect to find German Genealogical record keeping and data ought to mirror that in the US. Unfortunately, they do not. A number of historical factors impact the quality and type of genealogical records to be found in Germany today.
What follows are a few points regarding German history that merit understanding:
A number of fairly destructive wars ran over German lands. These wars not only destroyed people and buildings, but also innumerable records. The big ones were WW1 and WW2 (they made all the newspapers…).
About 30% of German historical lands were ethnically cleansed by the allies following the second World War (some 100,000 square miles of land including West Prussia, East Prussia, Silesia, Suedetenland, Pommerania, etc.). This forceable removal (up rooting) of some 14+/- million people, scattered families (and their histories) to the four corners of the world; additionally some 3+/- million died in the removal. Many who were left had no possessions or historical documentation, of any type. You may read more on this topic here.
Before 1871, Germany did not exist as a single political entity. As a result, pre-1871 records vary greatly in terms of type, style and quality. Each government did ‘their own’ thing.
German governments have historically not maintained the same type of separation between Church and State as was originally promised in the US constitution and their records reflect this different relationship.
So where does one look?
In my experience, the single greatest well of information are German Church records. Nearly all births, deaths, marriages, were recorded by German Churches. All you need to know is the village, town or area, and religion of your family member and you can begin a search. The two primary state supported faiths in Germany were Lutheran (Evangelisch) and Roman Catholic (Katholisch). Here are a couple additional tips on this subject. In small communities Menonnites and Jews were often listed in Lutheran Churches, less often in Catholic. In communities where these smaller faith communities had their own institutions, those should be searched. Most German Church records are available from the LDS Church (You can look them up here.). If the Church you are seeking did not receive a ‘Volltreffer’ (direct hit) from the allies before its records were pulled, the LDS Family History Archives likely have a copy (Note: not all LDS data is available in Germany).
Few civil records exist from the German Eastern provinces, although Poland is making those that remain in their jurisdiction available through dlibra as well as other sources (see links here). I sure hope your Polish is better than mine!
And lastly, if you are very lucky, there are some limited Census records for select regions.
As I get the inclination, I’ll post other thoughts on this subject. In the meantime, feel free to send me any questions you might have and I’ll include them in a future post on this subject.
For those unfamiliar with, or simply wishing to learn more about, conducting German/ Prussian genealogical research this is my second posting in a series on the topic of German-Prussian Genealogy Pointers.
One of the greatest difficulties people have with researching Germanic family members involves name spellings. This is especially true for those English speakers. Over the centuries, Germans who emigrated into English speaking lands have either tried to spell their names in ways that would be pronounced correctly or had assistance with their name spellings upon arrival or ‘later’ in Census takings. This ‘help’ has lead to numerous challenges in finding the right folks in the old homeland (Heimatland).
Here are a couple of rules of thumb I use when attempting to find ancestors in the old country:
ie- ei: Do you remember the old rule, when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking? If you do remember the rule, be aware that when dealing with German names the reverse is true (assuming you are using American vowel sounds). Imagine if you will your name was Stein… in the states that often is pronounced as Steen so you change the spelling and presto your relatives are now just a bit harder to find.
sh – sch: Or suppose a valued surname was once Schlatter, in the US the name is frequently spelled as either Shlatter or Shlater. Notice, these are all a bit different!
V – F: Another interesting one I have stumbed across is the German surname Vogel, when pronounced using US sounds it is often spelled as Fogel. This places your searches in a whole new location within the alphabet.
W – V: W in German sounds very much like an American ‘v’ and the V sounds like an American F. Just blend this option in with the one immediately above and imagine the permutations you can begin to develop.
ss- sz- ß or plain s: All these sounds in US English pronounce about the same, but not quite so in German. However, your emigrant/ immigrant relatives could easily have changed their names to use ss, s, sz in the English speaking world while the real family name could have been spelled with ss, sz, or ß in the alte Heimat (old home).
AE – Ä – E: In German, Ä and AE offer the same sound which sounds roughly like an American ‘eh’. Depending upon your original surname this can lead to interesting permutations of family names.
If you couple all the above options, with the fact that many immigrants were less than perfect in their spelling and literacy skills, you can begin to find great variations in name spellings within the US and across the pond.
For more on this subject, you might wish to read the following:
Recently, I have received numerous queries on how to get started or better conduct German genealogy research. Rather than simply email folks one at a time, I thought a post on the subject might be useful.
By way of background, I ought to state that almost everyone I hear from tells me that they are:
German (of German descent)
the neither read nor speak German (or just very little)
few are aware of much German history
fewer are aware of their family’s cultural background in Germany
Having provided the little list above likely provides clues as to items researchers need to pay attention to:
If you do not speak the language and decide to use translators, like Google Translate, beware that machine translation can be extremely inaccurate. One small example, Google translate almost always translates Reich to rich rather than to empire. When looking at a record this DOES make a difference.
Learn your history. Germany was not unified until 1871. Before 1871 there were numerous Duchies, Kingdoms, etc. Each region has its own history, governments, records, customs, etc.
Additionally some 30-40% of German lands were cleansed of almost all indigenous German populations after WW2; these lands do not fall under German control today and record searching can be quite interesting.
If your family lives in a non-German speaking country today, your family name may not be spelled in a Germanic fashion. Try to determine more traditional and true spellings for the names you seek. A good example of this is evidenced by a German-Jewish descended friend of mine, today his family surname is Rock; in the old country, it used to be Stein.
Before WW2, Germans used Gothic print and script. Most Americans find German Gothic script to be difficult. The LDS Church provides cheat sheets for these.(You will find a few helpful links listed under Language Tools on our Links page).
As I get the inclination, I’ll post other thoughts on this subject. In the meantime, feel free to send me any questions you might have and I’ll include them in a future post on this subject.
Backups, file duplication, redundancy, security are essential dimensions of performing quality genealogy work; well honestly they are required for any type of computing. Having said that, most people don’t bother with any of this unless, and until, they have a catastrophe, and even then only for a short while after an accident.
To my mind these functions need to be easy, seamless and nearly automagic once they are established. All this is to say, data synchronization and backup must require very little, if any, extra effort or thought. Extra effort or thought are almost always extra… and extra things tend to get forgotten.
Like many of you over the past few months, I have read and ‘participated’ in numerous discussions regarding “what happens to my data when I’m gone“. Truth be told, it is worth even more to have a plan to make certain you can use your data while you’re here. And then, you can make certain it is available for others when you are gone. If your data does not survive you working on it, it hardly matters what is left when you’re gone.
So let me provide a bit of food for thought on the topic. To begin, I will briefly describe my simple working computer environment:
in my home office, I have a slow and unreliable Qwest “high-speed” network, which really means we have a poorly performing DSL network; the only reason we keep this network is because no one else will bring us a network of any type (sad but true)
my primary PC is an Asus K52F running 10.4 LTS Ubuntu Linux (yep, a geek)
my travel buddy is a netbook PC- an eeePC 1000HE running 10.10 Ubuntu Linux
I also have a nifty iPad to augment my image as super geek and cool old genealogy guy…
Given I have multiple PCs and I’m lazy, my objective is to keep the Netbook and K52F fully synchronized so that the same data is available on whichever PC (Asus) I pickup. My super cool iPad is slightly different in that it is set to access pre-selected information/data for reading and display purposes (this information, too, needs to be both current and synchronized with my other machines). In addition to gaining information access, I want to be certain that my PCs are continually backed up and that all data is available for easy recovery, at any time. Lastly, I want my data to be 100% secure, redundant, and stored non-locally, call me paranoid.
What all of this means is that:
I need to store my data on a Cloud server which offers a zero-knowledge account; in my case, all my files are directly encrypted on my source PC and my password never leaves my PCs. Sooo, I have to be certain NOT to loose either my username or password (they are my responsibility, not the responsibility of some service provider). My service provider can access neither my files nor my passwords.
all of my data is encrypted using AES, RSA and SHA for security purposes- the same algorithms used for government security
the Cloud server needs to have its files stored redundantly and in different locations, in my case this includes storage in Switzerland, Germany and France (I live in Colorado)
Wuala, the provider I am currently using, does all these things. Plus, it offers its services on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Their tools can also be operated directly from any PC using a browser, without one of my PCs ever being involved. Finally, this system integrates on each of my PCs as a network drive, so I am able to open and edit my files in the application of my choice (there are one or two other providers of roughly similar services, including SpiderOak).
As a genealogist, this system also allows me to send links to files and folders to anyone. Recipients can click directly on a provided link and access designated files in their browsers. This feature will allow me to provide better information access to my clients, a service which I am about to begin providing.
So what does this really do for me? Here’s a small list of what I see as benefits:
my stuff is backed up- I am pretty certain (99.999% certain, I will always be able to get at a copy of my information)
each of my PCs have access to current data (anything I view is current and accurate)
my data is less prone to local disaster, because it is spread across the planet
once setup, all of this takes place with very little intervention on my part (remember I am lazy)
And perhaps most importantly, I can give my designee access to everything I own. My information is safe for use bothwhile I am here and when I am gone. By either handing a designee my PC or by setting them up to share all or parts of my data files, images, videos, a full, or partial, suite of my materials can be securely transfered to my successors, users, and/or clients.
Lately, I have gotten a lot of questions about the little computers I carry around to help with my genealogy tasks. Questions like:
What do you think of the iPad?
Do you like your Netbook?
In general, people want to know how I like the devices and whether they should consider buying one or more for themselves. This post is an attempt to respond to those questions.
Let me begin by saying I have been working with computers since 1974. Yep, I am an old guy, old PC habits, old PC biases. I have them all. But in fairness, you need to be aware of this as I am certain my background colors my opinions.
Let me start this out by saying I am writing this post on my regular PC; I am not using either of the little guys. To my mind this speaks to the biggest problems with these little devices- data entry. Both machines offer facilities to perform data entry but one is much more severely constrained than the other.
The iPad’s on screen keyboard is nothing short of horrible, to be honest it is my greatest disappointment with the iPad itself. iPads offer an peculiar two stage alphabetic/ numeric keyboard which is missing any directional positioning keys (arrows). It is, for me, an incredibly uncomfortable and difficult typing experience. Not being a perfect typist to begin with, the iPad brings my error rates to new heights. And as for speed, it takes me at least three times longer to enter text on the iPad than it does on the Netbook (which is slower than my regular laptop). Oh how I long for the days of Palm/ Handspring Graffiti. In fairness, it’s not as if the netbook is without it’s faults here, too. Tiny keys, too big fingers make for difficult and slow typing; but, functional it is.
Compatibilty with other PC applications:
Here I have to say the Netbook is again the winner. The iPad has a large application base but they are different from those available on PC platforms, be they Windows, Mac or Linux (like I use). All this is to say, your favorite genealogy programs will not run on an iPad but they will (with just a little planning) run very nicely on a Netbook.
Screen image quality:
WOW! what else can I say about the iPad screen. My Netbook is okay, but not WOW!
iPads are an advertisers’ dream. Adverts are simply everywhere. To eliminate them requires that a user “Jailbreak” the iPad in order to get access to ‘apps’ that block adware. Netbooks, like regular PCs, are perfectly capable of blocking ads; all you need are the correct browser(s) and correct browser plugin(s). This function may not seem that important on a 17″ monitor but it is hugely significant when you have only ~60% of the screen real estate – as is offered on these little guys.
USB, webcam, SD card availability:
Netbooks offer these on even the cheapest models. Not so the iPad.
OS (Operating System) interoperability:
One of the most frustrating aspects of the iPad, for me, is the fact that the iPad does not recognize, interface well with, or support Linux. It requires a Windows or Mac to initially boot and from that point to backup. It assumes all systems functions will be managed through an iTunes (Apple) proprietary interface. The Libertarian in me does not like that at all. Netbooks do not have that same proprietary bend.
Modification or removal of included applications:
All PC vendors seem to want to pollute their devices with preferred apps. Netbooks and iPads are no exception. However although it is time consuming to clean up a Netbook of undesirable applications, it can be done. But the iPad, nope. You get to keep the silly map, video, photo, iPod apps whether you want them or not. So I have moved mine onto an unused subordinate-screen.
Window to window (screen to screen) navigation:
Because of the tiny screen sizes, navigation is not easy on either machine. But it is easier on the Netbook because of a users ability to use short-cut keys and traditional navigation to move from A to B. However, the iPad touch screen navigation is much more Fun & Cool. iPad navigation is also built around some very nice eye candy, like turning pages. Truly cool and not bad, just different. I am certain that the iPad screen navigation is the wave of the future. The zoom and movement functions are intuitive and fun to learn, but learn them you must because the iPad smart phone navigation screens will surely take over. They are simply to good not to.
Size & weight:
Both devices are in the same weight and size class. Screens are about 10 inches, and the weight is in the 2-3 (US) pound range- about 1 kg.
The iPad is the clear winner here! An iPad costs, on average, twice what a Netbook does. Hmmm, maybe that’s not being a winner? Well, Apple thinks it is.
Coolness & fun factor:
Although the Netbook does have a certain Lilliputian coolness to it, it is nothing like the coolness the iPad has. People really seem to like the iPad form factor and ‘finger’/ touch screen navigation. As always, Apple has a real design winner in the iPad space. The Netbooks really simply look like laptops that were washed in too hot water and were left for an extra cycle or two in the dryer.
The bottom line:
The bottom line, is I will gladly keep them both. I like them both, a lot. But if I am forced to carry only one device with me to do my research, I choose the Netbook. But I have my weights out and am building my strength because I don’t want to leave my iPad behind.
As many of you are aware, I have been trying to decipher a Russian document that Soviets created as justification for sending my grandmother into a Gulag following WW2. To help me with my sleuthing, I have found and used the following tools:
What I did to help me in my search was to carefully look at the Cyrillic script and attempt to define each letter using the script as presented on the site at item 1 above. Once I found (or thought I found) the script letters, I entered them in using the Russian On-line Keyboard (using item 2 above). With the typed words in hand, I Googled and yanexed (Russian search engine) seeking hits on my words. In my case, they did not find anything useful.
SO next, I used the Automatic Cyrllic converter (item 3 above). Entering phonetic variations on my grandmother’s hometown (Zeyervorderkampen) in the converter, I discovered that the Cyrillic script/ typing looked an awful lot like Zeyervorderkampen. Originally it had been translated as Zecher Werder- Kosipel, but I could not find anything that matched that name or anything close to it.
Being a big proponent of following the obvious, I now assume that my Oma’s bill of indictment does not place her in a location other than Zeyervorderkampen prior to her 2 plus year incarceration in the Chelyabinskaya Gulag.
Also today, I received the following note from my friend Martin:
Mark, hier kommt nun mein Versuch zur Klärung Deiner Frage:
1. In der russischen Anklageschrift wird als Geburtsort Pietzkendorf , Rayon (Kreis) Groß Werder genannt. In dem Schreiben vom DRK München vom 15.1.2010 heißt der Geburtsort Zeyer(s)vorderkampen. Pietzkendorf liegt etwas westlich von Tiegenhof, das andere Dorf Zeyersvorderskampen liegt östlich, im Nogatdelta, aber beides im Kreis Großes Werder. Woher die widersprüchlichen Angaben kommen, ist mir nicht klar.
2. in dem gleichen russischen Papier, nur eine Zeile tiefer, wird der Wohnort bezeichnet mit “Zecher-Ferder- Kaxxxx.
Ich lese das als Zeyervorderkampen. Das Y im Zeyer… hat der Mann wohl als X gelesen, das ist das cha im russischen Alphabet, also Zecher…
Ferder könnte man wohl mit Vorder.. übersetzen (wie gehört, gesprochen), und das dritte Wort beginnt zumindest mit Ka.., die weiteren Buchstaben kann nicht mal meine Irina entziffern. Dafür habe ich meinen Freund, russischer Übersetzer, morgen hier, und dann hoffe ich, dass wir das endgültig klären.
Grüße über den Teich – Martin
I may not be right, but I feel confident that I am closer to the truth today than I was two days ago when I started.
A new web-page translation function has been added to ManyRoads. The Wibiya bar, where our translation function was previously provided, has been eliminated. We eliminated the bar based in large part on the recommendations and comments of Matt Mullenweg (the designer/inventor of WordPress).
Additionally, you may have noticed that the performance of ManyRoads had begun to degrade significantly over the past weeks; we believe this was due in no small part to the performance of Wibiya as well as that of other plugins. So given we would like things to move quickly, I cleaned things up a bit. I rolled the site back to a few previously utilized plugins, like Sexy Bookmarks; and am hoping for the best, performance-wise.
Our new translation plugin (called the Google Ajax Plugin) seems quite light and fast. It was however originally a tad austere from an appearance perspective. I added a bit of color and hope that things are none the worse for my efforts. I, however, have noted one possible exception and that is you will need to Select English Translation to return to the base level system should you inadvertently select the Translate function.
I hope this plugin does a reasonable job of providing both translations and information access to ManyRoads’ non-native English readers.
Surprisingly, Twitter has become an essential communication vehicle for me. And, no one is more surprised than I am. I never thought that I would become a Twitter user, much less become one of those people who rely on Twitter.
Initially,I thought that Twitter was both frivolous and oriented towards the younger folks. I guess that probably says something more about me becoming stodgy and old then it says anything useful about Twitter; but nonetheless one fine day, I gave it a whirl. The rest is history. Now, I use Twitter everyday I use the computer, which is to say almost everyday.
With Twitter’s 140 measly ‘allowable’ characters, I am able to announce what I am doing and discovering to the world, or at least to that little part of the world interested in #genealogy, #ahnenforschung, #history etc. And amazingly enough, you the ManyRoads reader who also uses Twitter comes by for a look-see. People I never knew, or knew might be interested in mywork, stop by, share information or simply become stealth readers; by the way, that is approximately 99.98% of you (Yes, I am one of those guys who tracks statistics…).
Additionally, Twitter has provided me with avenues for sharing what I find, or more precisely what other ‘Twitterers’ find, as you can see on our News! page. I am able to filter the news streams, build lists of people (other Twitterers) with whom I share common interests (see My ManyRoads List). I use (meaning read) their/your feeds then either for myself alone or for further sharing and aggregation.
I am able find new information from people and places around the globe covering topics such as:
In Twitter speak, words prefaced with # are called hash-tags (hastags). Truly they are nothing more than keywords, if you will, for sorting through the piles of streaming Tweets/ information, in order to see those topics in which I, and you if you use them, are interested. I personally find the above hash-tags to be very good for finding meaningful genealogy information and articles. Additionally, I am able to use those very same hash-tags for generating information feeds to various software systems like paper.li and Gwibber, the social feed reader I use.
As you well know, both genealogy and genealogical research are reliant on finding hidden, not easy to locate, information. A communication tool like Twitter has become, in this arena, a real asset in finding information… previouly hidden and obscure, to me. It is also a useful communication vehicle which facilitates meeting, talking, and connecting with like minded individuals- those people searching for information similar to that which I seek.
Social networking (media) ought to be a useful adjunct to genealogy research. Or more complexly stated, genealogy and genealogists should benefit greatly through improved interpersonal, Internet communications technology (better known as social networking). Of late, I have been trying to employ a number of web oriented ‘social’ technologies in an effort to up ManyRoads site readership and traffic.
It probably bears stating, the reason I (and most genealogy bloggers) seek higher traffic is because I both appreciate and need the contact/ interaction in my genealogy searches/ efforts. By that I mean, you (our reader) have knowledge and information that might help me in my search(es), just as I have information that might help you in yours. Yes in addition to my personal efforts I, also, do genealogy work for fee; but as anyone who has been on ManyRoads very often knows, I provide a lot of information, images and documents for free and without strings. And, much of that information has been sourced through your good communications to me.
To place the success of my efforts, thus far, in a tangible context, I would share the following. Out of the 160,000 +/- page reads, 65,000 visitors we have had during the past year I have made contact with approximately:
10 new “to me” cousins
a few new clients
10 GB of new information (all stored here on ManyRoads for everyones’ use)
numerous valuable and detailed assists in the editing my genealogy work
dozens of photos of family members that I did not know existed
numerous unbelievable and useful links to previously lost aspects of my family’s past
Well you get the idea. It takes a lot of traffic to keep and create a good information flow; and, such is the context within which the communication technologies I am about to discuss operate. Each medium attempts, in one way or another, to reach out into areas and places in the hope/ desire of triggering mutual information sharing and communication. The most significant aspect of this ‘reaching out’ is that it is almost blind. It’s a bit like putting your arm under a rug and reaching, rummaging, searching for a lost pebble. You do not know the shape, the location, texture, or size of the pebble, nor can you see it. You simply know it might be there and you want to find it. So, you reach.
In subsequent articles (posts) I will discuss my efforts with the following social technologies:
By the way, I doubt there will be single, dedicated posts for each item on the above list.
If there are technologies you want to hear about, but they are not on my little list, please let me know. I may have tried them and would be happy to share what I have learned; if not, perhaps I should try them and then share what I learn. More to come…
We have created our first twitter based online Newspaper (using paper.li). The ManyRoads Sentinel is now accessible via our new News! link on the top banner of ManyRoads. I hope you find the articles and news items both informative and useful. As time progresses, I will be tweaking the newspaper in an effort to achieve an optimal balance of items and news.
If you follow certain folks on twitter who you believe ought to be included in our paper, please let me know. In the meantime, please be advised that our paper is updated as both morning & evening editions. You may subscribe directly to the journal from the ManyRoads Sentinel page.
Website security & speed are crucial to your genealogy site. Like most websites, genealogy sites are under daily attacked from hackers and information thieves. If you are interested in the latest technology available to speed and secure your site I recommend taking a look at Cloudflare.
ManyRoads has been running the beta version of Cloudflare now for a bit more than two weeks. So far as I am able to determine, our site is operating about 50-100% faster than it was a month ago on HostPapa without the benefit of Cloudflare & Hostgator. The combination of our move to HostGator and Cloudflare seems to have made a significant difference in our site’s performance, and all with few downsides. To date, I have noticed only two short duration glitches in our site availability and one spike in ISP performance.
Looking at ManyRoads statistics, here’s what we see:
9.6 GB bandwidth saved by CloudFlare out of a total of 21.8 GB
164,456 requests saved by CloudFlare out of a total 288,128 requests
Page load time is down to 3.7 from a previous average of 4.53 on HostGator (pre Cloudflare) and 11.1 before on hostpapa without Cloudflare
In fairness, there is one ‘significant’ downside to Cloudflare. Because our site visits are passed to us through Cloudflare’s servers the traditional Visitor plugin I use on ManyRoads no longer can tell me where in the world folks are coming from with certainty. Cloudflare will supposedly provide this information in a later release.Since I first published this post, this problem has been resolved! Hooray!
Briefly here is what the folks at Cloudflare have to say about their product:
CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Once your website is a part of the CloudFlare community, its web traffic is routed through our intelligent global network. We automatically optimize the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. We also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.
And now as for the best part of the Cloudflare version ManyRoads uses, it is free.
Wibiya provides a web toolbar that enables blogs and websites to integrate the most exciting services and web applications into their blog or website. Our platform is a one-stop shop for fully customizable, easily manageable third part web applications that can also be tracked for statistics.
The bar may be minimized by clicking on the down arrow at the bottom right. That way if you are like me and use a netbook heavily, the screen real estate can be freed up for content viewing.
Finally, you will note that the toolbar offers several functions which are already on ManyRoads. So, there is really nothing new there. However if the toolbar works well, we will be able to further cleanup and consolidate these social networking functions into a new and more flexible format.
Should genealogy rely on GPS data? When I recently heard the query, it gave me pause especially since people seemed pretty agitated over the point. I have to admit, it does seem that the value of GPS data is a point worth pondering, at least for a little while.
It is probably worth noting that commercial GPS is really only about 10 years old and is primarily a US national system for establishing global location. To quote the ever popular Wikipedia:
GPS is owned and operated by the U.S. Government as a national resource.
Also, there are at least two competing and one non-competing GPS system online or soon to be online:
competing systems will be from the Chinese (Compass) and Europe Galileo (Europe);
the non-competing system is a Russian military system.
As competing & complimentary global positioning systems reconcile and move towards international standards and as new systems evolve, there are likely to be changes in nomenclature and other characteristics. At least that is how everything else seems to work in the technology realm.
Let me conclude with a random thought in this space. If we are looking for an old grave… how does GPS deal with continental drift? Since GPS finds/ identifies a location on the planet presumably this means that in 500 years different things will occupy the old location…. in other words, grampa is on the move ;^) Seriously though at the rate of 1.5 -10 cm movement per year, this could create a grave situation in just a few years (sorry I could not avoid the pun).
To me, the biggest benefit of the current US GPS is that it makes Google Earth and the like usable in genealogy software packages. But to my mind, maps continue to be a more stable and reliable long-term form of locational documentation for genealogical purposes.
Phase one of the ManyRoads transfer to Hostgator.com is now complete. At least, it looks good from my end.
We have moved a lot of files (about 60,000 of the little and huge buggers); not much of this transition has been easy. My daughter and son-in-law have proven immensely helpful in the transition; and my wife has been extremely patient with me throughout the 40+ hour transfer and rebuild process.
By way of a synopsis, here’s what we have accomplished:
All ManyRoads files and software have been moved from Hostpapa to Hostgator.com. If you notice any problems, please let me know via the contact page.
We have optimize the performance of ManyRoads by tweaking the way Apache (our server software) handles requests. We now compress our site content before sending it to your browser. This should lower your bandwidth usage and speed the loading of larger images and files.
We have installed and are using CloudFlare which is a system that acts as a proxy between ManyRoads visitors and our server. By acting as a proxy, CloudFlare caches static content thus lowering the number of requests to our servers.
We have cleaned and optimized the ManyRoads MySQL database; it was quite bloated.
The next phase of our transition will involve yet another move. We plan to move our static content files (libraries,maps, etc.) on to a secondary server in order to better distribute our computing load and also provide redundancy.
Hopefully the worst of our moving is now over. Please let us know how things are working. We especially appreciate your contact should you discover something that slipped through the cracks. Something most likely has….
What is a traditional genealogical source? To me that seemed to be a good question. So naturally, I Googled the term ‘Traditional genealogical source’ to see what I would find.
The first item I came up with was the topic of a January/February 2003 issue of Ancestry Magazine by Mark Howells:
Tombstone inscriptions have been a source of genealogical information for centuries.
I could see tombstone inscriptions as being considered normal and traditional. Although with the way my brain works, I could also see that tombstones might rapidly be coming passe. As the article itself describes, today’s headstones are nothing like those of yesteryear.
Strangely, to me anyway, the next item I uncovered in Google was the ever popular “Ancestral Tablet”. Now I have a done a bunch of genealogical investigation and yet somehow I had never stumbled upon one of these. According to the article I uncovered:
These tablets were traditionally kept on household altars and in clan temples.
As we say in French “Quelle surprise!” Household altars? Clan temples? Neither household altars nor clan temples were familiar or traditional to me given my forebears and my background. Because of my surprise, I examined the page more closely only to discover the document’s title: Ethnic genealogy: a research guide By Jessie Carney Smith.
Then it occurred to me that traditional was not traditional unless and until you understood and were familiar with the cultural context within which you were conducting your genealogical research. This ‘truism’ applied equally to both examples I found through the courtesy of Google. Although the first finding seemed natural and traditional to me; the second, well, was out of my ‘traditional’ frame of reference. But it certainly was not out of the frame of reference for folks with a traditional Chinese background and familiarity with traditional Chinese cultural norms.
So what is the take away from all of this rambling?
In a global sense, there are very few things that are truly traditional.
Each traditional source is traditional within a particular context: cultural, historical, regional, religious, etc.
You really need to understand where you are seeking and what you might find ‘traditionally’. Just as happened to me, your normal cultural and personal filters could blind you to artifacts that ‘traditionally’ exist for those you seek.
I will explore other traditional sources in subsequent articles. Just in case…
Which Operating system is best? Mac, Linux, Windows?
Well aside from the inaccuracy of the phraseology in the above query, this is a question I often see discussed, debated, and fought with religious fervor. Truth of the matter is quite simple. Use the operating system you like best- for me that means Ubuntu Linux. For you, well, you get to to pick.
However, when making the choice of one operating system over another, people seem to believe they are forced to leave everything about their previous (or simply another) operating system behind. In the genealogy space that often means, a move to Mac or Linx from Windows confounds people as to how to get a good Windows genealogy program functioning on their new found PC home. When these moves occur I hear questions like:
What is the best genealogy software for Mac? I really liked RootsMagic but it doesn’t run on my Mac.
Well the answer is really direct, and only requires a modicum of adventurousness. The simple answer is to set up and run a Virtual Machine on your new PC. Sounds complicated, I know; but, it really is not. In the virtual machine space you have numerous options however, I will focus on my favorite- VirtualBox. To quote their website:
VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). See “About VirtualBox” for an introduction.
Presently, VirtualBox runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh and OpenSolaris hosts and supports a large number of guest operating systems including but not limited to Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Windows 7), DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4 and 2.6), Solaris and OpenSolaris, and OpenBSD.
What all this means, is you can install a package like VirtualBox on your PC and then install any number of other Operating Systems there as well. The Guest operating systems operate in windows within your main PC environment. There is no need to reboot as you move between environments once ‘all are operational. And for those who do not want to leave an old favorite software application behind, you don’t have to because it will run in the appropriate Virtual machine and it will run in its native mode. Voila! Problem solved.
It is worth sharing an additional data point. In my experience, the pool of essential non-native operating system applications you will need seems to diminish over time. As you adjust to your new environs, you inevitably find new improved ways of doing things. Soon enough your Virtual machine needs shrink to the barest of essentials.
By the end of WW2, the destruction of Germany was nearly total. Almost every city had been leveled; the remnants of families were scattered all over Germany, Europe, North and South America. Everyone had lost family members or friends. According to Wikipedia losses in the Third Reich were:
A Heimatsortskartei was set up in post WW2 Germany for the purpose of identifying and locating people in the catastrophic aftermath and destruction of WW2. Finding loved ones and discovering their fate was essential.
The Heimatortskartei provided hope and was the resource. Although these files may not be readily accessible in Germany because of the infamous Datenschutz -data protection laws; they are available through the LDS Church Archives.
And now a personal history of the Heimatortskartei use…
Date: 1998/05/30 20:16:45
From: W. Fred Rump [email address removed]
Many months ago I promised Wolfgang N[...] a report on what is to be found in these films [Heimatortskartei]. Below is a sample of the contents of the film available at the LDS for two particular houses in Elbing, West Prussia as of January 1945.
The following residents were found in a film obtained from the FHC in Salt Lake City entitled: Heimatsortskartei Danzig-Westpreussen. It particularly references certain streets in Elbing, Westpreussen among which is the one I was born on, namely Tannenberger Allee. Some background and recollections are included in this report which I just wrote while traveling across the US.
In my visit to Elbing in 1995 I found #97 still standing and in need of some maintenance like most other houses in the area. The old red brick which I still remember was now gone and again, like most other houses, was now stuccoed which patchy gray cement. I don’t have too many memories of my childhood or Elbing. This is rather strange to me since I lived there from my birth in December 1937 until our sudden exit in January 1945. By then I was eight years old and should really have very vivid recollections of earlier times. What exists is not fluid but rather come in bits and pieces mostly of times when I got into some kind of trouble. Other memories are confused as to whether they are from stories told by my mother, other relatives or from pictures I’ve seen. It bothers me greatly that I don’t have better recollections of my pre-1945 childhood. Time seems to have started with our flight from the Russians and everything before that is very blurred and fragmented. I suppose what I know is a mixture of things. I will never know what is real from my experiences and what came to me from other sources later in life. In any case, my youth and size influence the pictures I have formed at the time. Things simply used to be much bigger and more impressive from what I saw in 1995.
I remember the front steps. I sat on them quite often and the individual steps were much higher. I had to climb up three individual steps to get into the house. Today these same steps went down. They were also very normal in size. The street had been raised as the rubble of the destruction of the city was simply used to elevate many streets of the city and then resurfaced by the new occupants of the city after the war. The big chestnut trees were also gone and smaller trees now stood in different locations. Those chestnuts provided much fun as my sister and I created little figures out of them by joining various sizes with little sticks and carving eyes into them.
The other major change to my view of the street was the missing house next door (#95) where my Aunt and Uncle, Erna and Fritz Gro[ss] lived among other residents. Their children, Waltraut (Traute)+ and Erwin, today live in Eschweiler near Aachen. I suppose that house was bombed or burned and never restored. We lived right across from a railroad freight yard and I expect that quite a bit of fighting was going on there along with bombing of the railroad. There used to be a path, the width of a small driveway, which permitted access to the rear of both properties. It was in back of #95 where our huge garden was located. How small it had gotten.
The garden is where the Stachelbeeren (gooseberries) grew. There were fruit trees back there and many delicious items could be retrieved in the summertime. I had always dreamed of this vast garden of my childhood and here in 1995 it was but a small patch of nothingness. It is possible that a couple trees still standing dated to pre-1945 but they looked nothing like the large trees of delicious magic which I thought had stood there. The garden was a big, big disappointment to me. What did they do to my garden?
Turning to the rear of #97 there was another set of steps there. This time they still went up just as I remember them. My grandfather’s work shed was still there too but it used to be so neat and always seemed to be freshly painted. There was no evidence of any paint ever having touched it left. Back to the front of the house I look up to what used to reach to the sky. Three stories of windows had shrunk to just a normal house. An old lady with one gold tooth looks out the bottom floor window and smiles. What a view!
It is difficult talking to her but I suppose she knew why we were there. Most people know that the Germans who come to visit used to call this home. The current residents are almost embarrassed at the set of circumstances but are friendly and open to the situation. We get a drift of complaints from our one- tooth lady. Nothing is ever fixed in the house. It belongs to the city now. We try to get away from her as communications is not going well. I walk down the front steps into what is the Treppengang (stair entrance to the various apartments).The tiled floor is still the same. That seems odd to me. I rush up the steps just to see if the door to our place is where I thought it was. It’s still the same. I try to take a picture but the camera does not want to flash in the dark and I’m too nervous to fix the problem. I have to leave and go away.
I shoot some outside pictures and promise myself to reconnoiter the railroad on the other side. That’s where the near empty drum of tar used to be were I just had to climb in to see what was there. One of those eventful happenings a boy tends to never forget. Of course there are many other recollections mostly of the ‘getting into trouble’ kind but these will be written up in a section of my growing up.
My mother inherited both properties from her father upon his death. My parents paid the other children their appropriate shares as my grandfather had wanted. My parents were deeply hurt when after the war some of my mom’s sisters had casually forgotten these payoffs and now claimed equal shares of the little money my parents received from the German government under the term: Lastenausgleich. The idea was to provide a small amount to start anew and also to relinquish what was now in Polish hands. Luckily the legal papers were found and the entire matter was cleared up but the hurt remained. I had often wondered as to who all the people were who lived in our houses. My parents often spoke of such and such and I never paid too much attention then.
From a friend I met on the internet (Wolfgang N[...]) I found out that the LDS has films of the Heimatortskartei which were collected by the various refugee groups in order to find lost relatives. I ordered these films back in November of 1997 and did not get to see them until May of 1998. I do not know if the list includes everyone or is just a listing of those who had an inquiry posted about someone.
In any case, for the sake of history here are the listed residents of #95 and #97 Tannenberger Allee. We start with what was found in house number sequence for #95:
Ausgestellt (submitted) 3.4.53, (by) Erna Gross, nee Robiller; born 4.3.04 in Elbing, nach (went to) Finow/Mark (Brandenburg), Kastanienallee 23; dann (then) Emden, Auricher Strasse 23, dann Eschweiler/Kr Aachen, Kreichsburg 16. Sucht (is looking for) Gross, Fritz, 24.3.05, Elbing, Maschinenschlosser bei Schichau. +31.12.45 ?
Ausgestellt 1.6.56, Erwin Gross, 9.11.31 Elbing, dann Ludwigshafen-Friedenheim, Hindenburg Str 2, Suchdienst fuer Fritz Gross am 19.3.45 von Polen verschleppt.
Technology can and should be an crucial adjunct to your genealogical efforts. As a matter of fact, I contend that no effort is complete, nor can your genealogy efforts be fully effective, without effective technological support. The support can be as simple as using a word processor or as complex as writing large databases to manage and maintain your data, documents and images.
As I am sure you are aware, today’s technology options are both extensive and cost effective. They can even be free. As a web developer and genealogist, I, personally, rely almost exclusively on OpenSource technologies. To give you a rough example of my software costs, I will enumerate my most significant and vital adjunctive technologies:
WordPress (the Blog/ Content Management System I use)- Free
OpenOffice (the PC Office Suite I use for most document creation)- Free
GRAMPS (the Family Tree software I use to manage genealogies and export to my website)- Free
The GIMP (the image, photo editing software I employ)- Free
Geany (the tool I use to write code for my websites)- Free
php, html, java (the languages used most frequently in my websites)- Free
The list could go on; but you can see from the above list, the costs need not be high. Even the ‘expensive, proprietary tools’ (note my bias!) most people purchase are very cost effective.
Having said this, what do these tools and technologies really do for me and my genealogy efforts? Quite simply, they allow me to perform tasks such as:
clean up documents
enhance and/or repair photos
write family histories
maintain family trees
But most importantly, they allow me to share my work with both known and unknown family members, complete strangers, and those interested in researching the same areas I do. They make it possible for each of us to create an information explosion out of the tid-bits of information we each hold or have individually, and thereby these technologies enhance our understanding of our families and of our past.
Most often those looking for their relatives follow the tried and true paths of searching the Internet as well as searching the ‘traditional’ genealogy venues such as town halls, LDS Family History Centers, etc. Many people even go so far as to restrict their searches to the Internet only, typically relying on the ever popular:
Truth be known, these are all very good and useful search locales. However, there are at least two items worth noting:
one, not everything ‘you need’ can be found on these venues and
two, not everything labeled as genealogical represents the totality of genealogical information available.
You do yourself and your family a disservice if you restrict or limit your searches to the traditional and/or Internet sources.
You really need to look outside the box. There are few reasons why this is helpful and reasonable. Firstly, all genealogy and family history occurs with the context of time and place; and secondly, most genealogy sites do little to help you develop a comprehensive understanding of either historical context or external events. Having said that, there is a lot of information available ‘out there’ that is freely provided to those who will simply bend over and pick it up.
So, where is the outside of the box? Where do I recommend you look? Well here’s a brief set of pointers to other information and enlightenment:
Stores. I recommend you visit businesses and people specializing in old things. Better yet visit those that/who specialize in old things like those your ancestors may have used, owned, or even enjoyed. Why? Well, every one of them may help you understand life as it was lived by those who preceded you.
Book places. Read books! Yes, I know history was boring in school. But perhaps if you read about the wars, politics, migrations, etc. that your ‘folks’ lived through, you might understand them and their choices a bit better.
Museums. Go look at old things and images of old places. Every look might help you understand a little more about where you came from, what was going on, how people lived.
Simply stated look around. Information and ideas are everywhere. Besides you might just discover that this expanded searching adds pleasure, adventure, and ‘stuff’ to your life as well.
I debated whether or not this was the correct title for my posting but settled on it anyway!
I really do not have a long list of items to present here, but rather a very small listing with only two, wonderful, non-genealogy genealogy places; they are:
Yesterday, my wife, mother-in-law and I went to a flea market. It was a very hot day and we had no idea what we might find.
As is typical of flea markets, there was everything from bread to vegetables to “old things”. Given my genealogy interests you can imagine that my focus was on old things- more precisely old German things. Only infrequently do I discover items of interest. This visit was different from the norm. What I stumbled upon was a basket full of Wanderstocks (hiking sticks/ canes). All had medals on them but one was special, to me. It was from pre-1933 Germany and had 48 medal badges afixed to it- auf Deutsch: es war ein alter Wanderstock mit Eisenkuppe und 48 Plaketten. Not only did the stick have 48 medal badges but two of them were indicators of the original owner’s political sentiments -which although they are not mine, they do provide an interesting historical context for the time.
Badge number two reads: Landhaus Adolf Hitler Obersalzburg
The other 46 badges were obtained by the original owner from hikes across Bavaria (Zugspitze, Muenchen, Linderhof etc.) , the Erzgebirge, not to mention Venice, the Dolomites, etc.
Quite a find for a flea market in Littleton, Colorado.
Antique markets offer similar items, old photos, memorabilia, etc. The only problem with each is that they often tend not to have belonged to your family, but they certainly can help you flesh out history, illustrate peoples’ thinking during certain crucial time periods, all the while providing great entertainment.
Date calculations are quite useful and necessary in doing genealogy work.
If you are like me, I constantly need to count backwards and forward from one event to another: death to birth, birth to marriage, etc. I find this type of calculation is more necessary when there is a paucity of information and documentation available for a single person.
The changes are a-coming! Some of the changes to the site are fairly significant others tiny. However, although I have tested them all, I would greatly appreciate hearing from our readers if they are either helpful or problematic. Please use our contact page or the comments on this page to let me know what you think.
Summary of the modifications
ManyRoads Category, Monthly Archive, and Search pages have all been reformatted to be more compact; they also all now have the same layout.
Our front page (Landing page) has been modified to include a list of the 5 most recent posts.
A Broken Link checker has been implemented to validate, edit and ultimately cleanup our links and redirect situation. We have over 1150 unique URLs in 1420 links. We seem to be maintaining zero (0) redirects now.
We eliminated a few ‘extra’ plugins by consolidating functions into a more robust few; I’ll post a listing of our current plugin use later.
Hopefully you will notice that the site now responds a bit better and is easier to use. As always your input and insights are welcomed.
Grab the data while you can. I guess that is what every online genealogist needs to have as their motto these days.
Today I uploaded a very useful (helpful) WordPress plugin called:
Broken Link Checker- It checks your blog for broken links and missing images and notifies you on the dashboard if any are found.
Well much to my dismay and surprise when I installed and ran the plugin, it found nearly 175 out of 1055 links ManyRoads to be broken or redirected. That seemed like a lot to me. I had been running several ‘free’ services to check my site for broken links and every week; they were reporting ‘happily’ that everything was ‘just fine’- zero broken links. Obviously, these checkers were not doing their job very well!
In addition to noticing that a site as large as ManyRoads needs good automation, I think I can safely conclude you ought never to trust that another website will either stay online or keep reference information, which you need, intact. I even discovered lost links to lengthy articles from Wikipedia. They were simply removed!
My recommendation for self-protection is that when you find something useful and relevant do the following:
take a copy (keep it offline)
ask permission to publish (Keep it offline if you must); do not violate copyright laws!
check your sources periodically to see if they are still alive
if not… well then I really do not know what to advise. On ManyRoads I am simply stating that the material is no longer available where I found it, placing a date on the text and removing the link (Since WordPress keeps backups of my Pages/Posts hopefully I can find an old link if I need it.)
clean up your dead links; you need to do that in order to keep your search engine optimization in good health.
Family tree templates are only available through a few select websites. Usually you have to have a membership to receive free printable blank family trees or purchase each family tree chart individually. Here you’ll find high quality charts that you can print on your home printer or take them to a professional print shop and print them on heavy or oversized paper.
ObituariesHelp Free Genealogy Forms and Downloads: ObituariesHelp offers free downloadable genealogy forms to make finding and organizing ancestry search easy. Their forms allow you to carefully copy your ancestor’s information and keep that information in your own records. You can also keep track of your research, the data you’ve collected, records, family trees, family groups and more with these genealogy forms. It’s so important to stay organized and keep family search information recorded on templates and genealogy forms. Feel free to download these forms to your computer and print them out at home. Our forms are all professionally designed so you can take them to a professional printer to have them put on heavier paper, or enlarged to make more room for handwriting, or even to make a wall chart. Check back to this page often because we are always adding new free genealogy forms for downloading.
FamilyTree Magazine: Getting organized and knowing how to address government agencies and organizations can help you get quicker, more effective results. Family Tree Magazine has created forms that can help you access and organize your family history information. They’re available in two formats: text and portable document format (PDF). The text versions give you the basic form structure in files you can open in your word-processing software. You can print, edit or even type your information right in the file. The PDF versions are read-only files with snazzier designs—they’re suitable for displaying or sharing your research with others.
GRAMPS- This is the software we use at ManyRoads! Gramps is a free software project and community. We strive to produce a genealogy program that is both intuitive for hobbyists and feature-complete for professional genealogists. It is a community project, created, developed and governed by genealogists.
Family Tree Builder- Family Tree Builder is a genealogy software for Windows. It offers excellent quality, supports 12 languages and is one of the best genealogy software programs you’ll ever find. It’s available for you to enjoy for free!
GedMark – Free Download!-A utility used to secure author information on every individual in a GEDCOM file during import and export. No longer Free.
GeneWeb Genealogy software program with a Web interface. It can be used off-line or in a Web environment.
Are you looking to establish a web presence for your genealogy work? Do you want to communicate more effectively to a diverse audience that is geographically dispersed?
Communicating your genealogical facts to friends and family can be both rewarding and important.
At eirenicon and ManyRoads, we pride ourselves in the quality and professionalism of our websites. Hopefully, you can appreciate the results of our more than 40 years of software and web development experience on our site here.
If you would like to have a ‘affordable’ genealogy website built using techniques and ‘Created with Free Software ‘ technology like those you see on ManyRoads, we are very happy to help. Please use our Contact page to begin a dialogue.
Family Tree Guide is about convenience.
Placing your family tree online with your own website and website address could never be simpler then what we offer. Our goal is to make this as easy for you as we can. All work that involves the website setup and maintenance will be handled by one of our capable staff, leaving you to handle only the research into the genealogy for your family. Because your family tree is web-based you will be able to access and edit your genealogy from anywhere in the world. And we do all of this for free!
Family Tree Guide is about choice.
With each website you have the ability to provide visitors unlimited access to your genealogy, or restrict their access. You decide! Enable users to view information on living people, add, edit and/or delete from your family tree. Enable a user to download your GEDCOM. Or don’t allow any of it! The choice is yours!
There are a fairly astonishing number of hidden and nearly hidden functions on good websites.
In communities communication between members is essential. The same is true of the internet. Good websites speak with one another and need to be known to each other. To accomplish these objectives ManyRoads employs additional hidden and not quite hidden functions, including:
One of the great strengths of using an open source (or I suppose for fee) web development toolkit like WordPress is the wealth of add-ons that are available for you to employ to augment your site’s functionality and reach.
As I noted in an earlier posting, I am going to attempt to highlight several adjunctive software components which are employed on ManyRoads and how they help make the site a better and easier tool to use. In this post I will focus on Plugins that are largely invisible to the end user… or so they might seem.
As you hopefully are aware, there are lots of people on the web who would use your work for their own purposes. The most common class of these are spammers. Yes, websites can be spammed and almost always are. To prevent your site from accumulating undesired Comments, Posts, emails you need ‘weapons’, you need protection. The plugins, as well as other software functions, I find extremely helpful in this realm are:
Askismet- “Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not.”
AVH First Defense Against Spam-”The AVH First Defense Against Spam WordPress plugin gives you the ability to block spammers before any content is served. Spammers are identified by checking if the visitors IP exists in a database served by stopforumspam.com or by a local blacklist.”
Bad behavior- Deny automated spambots access to your PHP-based Web site.
HoneyPot – “Project Honey Pot is the first and only distributed system for identifying spammers and the spambots they use to scrape addresses from your website. Using the Project Honey Pot system you can install addresses that are custom-tagged to the time and IP address of a visitor to your site. If one of these addresses begins receiving email we not only can tell that the messages are spam, but also the exact moment when the address was harvested and the IP address that gathered it.”
SI-Captcha- “Adds CAPTCHA anti-spam methods to WordPress on the comment form, registration form, login, or all. In order to post comments or regiser, users will have to type in the phrase shown on the image. This prevents spam from automated bots. Adds security. Works great with Akismet. Also is fully WPMU and BuddyPress compatible.”
WP-Scanner Activator- This Plugin adds <!- wpscanner -> to enable wp-scanner to scan your blog.
Everyone one needs a good home. Your family website is no exception.
There are lots of reasons to choose one method over another, we have settled on having a company ISP- Internet Service Provider) run our web-site operations (data center and network) for us.
We tried running our own server in our home for several years before arriving at this junction. What we learned is:
Internet bandwidth is an ever increasing problem as interest in a site improves. More people (visitors) need more bandwidth.
Your site needs to be backed up regularly and have its contents stored off-site (or somewhere really safe).
Uptime needs to be predictable. People get upset when your site is down for long periods. They want to visit when they want to visit.
Running a server 24 hours a day costs electricity. Our electric costs ran about $10 per month.
Given these factors we ultimately elected to have ManyRoads hosted on
Hostpapa is a good (but not perfect) choice for us for numerous reasons including their provision of:
Unlimited Disk Space
Unlimited Domain Names on one account
Personal Website Tools
30-day money-back guarantee
email accounts (smtp & pop service)
Whatever you choose, you need to find a safe home for your family genealogy materials, somplace secure, reliable, and offering good ethical values. Hostpapa works well for us and a $5.00 USD per month we find it to be a comfortable and affordable home.
If you were watching closely, you probably noticed a new logo at the bottom on the ManyRoads web pages.
Although the image links to the single most popular piece of open source software that I use on ManyRoads, there are numerous additional tools employed in the creation and management of our website and family history.
Included among these are the following:
WordPress (the software with which the ManyRoads website is constructed- A semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability).
50+/- WordPress Plugins (add-ons, which I will discuss in separate posts later on…)
GRAMPS (Gramps is a free software project and community. We strive to produce a genealogy program that is both intuitive for hobbyists and feature-complete for professional genealogists. It is a community project, created, developed and governed by genealogists.)
The GIMP (GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. )
Geany (Geany is a text editor using the GTK2 toolkit with basic features of an integrated development environment. It was developed to provide a small and fast IDE, which has only a few dependencies from other packages. It supports many filetypes and has some nice features.)
Ubuntu- Linux (An Open Source- Free- computer operating system based on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and is distributed as free and open source software with additional proprietary software available.)
DJVU (DJVU is a digital document format with advanced compression technology and high performance value. DjVu allows for the distribution on the Internet and on DVD of very high resolution images of scanned documents, digital documents, and photographs.)
Obviously, I use software in addition to the aforementioned but these are among the tools most used in delivering, creating and maintaining the ManyRoads web presence.
Because of certain circumstances as well as the nature of our information, we have taken the drastic action of providing copy protection for all data and images on the WordPress side of ManyRoads.
Believe me, we do enjoy sharing our information, we truly do.
We just want to know where it goes and who is using it.
If you’d like any of our information, please use our contact form to request it. We are happy to be generous.
For those of you who use WordPress (and I recommend you do if you have need for a web-based version of your genealogy materials), I am using the Wp-PreventCopyBlogs WordPress Plugin to protect our materials. This plugin provides the following features:
Tracks the visitors who try to copy content (images & text).
Records the IP of the user who tries to copy information with a landing url of your site and referral url.
Displays a warning message regarding the site protection feature and tracking.
Disables the Right-click selection function of user browser(s).
I think that old quote pretty much sums up what happens when searching for the right genealogical toolset.
Too often, people believe that their hardware or operating platform defines their selection choices. In truth, it rarely does. Almost any tool can be run on any platform. Certainly a bit of technical prowess may be required in order to achieve interoperability but it is very doable.
No, the reasons for picking a genealogical toolset should be based on your genealogy management needs not operating or hardware systems. What follows, in no particular order, are most of the factors that I personally see as being important (and I used for my choice of GRAMPS):
ease with which a web display version can be created
the ability to share Events, Places, Media (in technical terms– genealogy objects)
robust database facilities (in other words it supports large databases)
adherence to GEDCOM standards
easy Export and Import facilities
excellent backup, archive and restore capabilities
open software architecture (does not rely on numerous proprietary packages, tools, software or databases)
effective and helpful documentation
an active online support/ user community
robust bug reporting system (so that problems may be communicated to the developers and addressed in future releases)
easy integration with my WordPress BLOG and themes
simple image and document library functions
To me, these factors are much more important in determining whether or not any software package is going to do the job you want. Do not confine yourself to the narrow realms of your operating system or hardware platform. Pick the tool you think best satisfies your actual needs and find out how to make it work on the hardware or OS you have.