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Editors: Mildred Kirkwood and Jolene Abrahams

Web Editor: Vicki Renz

The Roots Tracer is a quarterly publication with articles of interest to the genealogist. Members are encouraged to submit their "Profiles" as well as articles of general interest. Queries are free to members, $l.00 to non-members. The deadline for each quarterly is the 15th of June, September, December and March. Send material to: Roots Tracer, P. O. Box 901, Livermore, CA 94551-0901.


Calendar of Events

President's Message

Five-Generation Puzzle

Foreign Language Translator

Livermore Valley History

Local Resources

Library News

Computer News

CD Corner

Archiving on CDs

Under the Genealogy Tree

Things to File

Copyright Notice: No articles may be reproduced for profit or commercial gain without the express consent of the authors, the editors, or the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society.


(From various sources)

APRIL 9-11 - UTAH GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY 1998 UGA Conference - "Bring Your Ancestors to Life" -   Doubletree Hotel, Salt Lake City. UGA, P.O. Box 1144, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.

APRIL 14 - LIVERMORE-AMADOR GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY (L-AGS) Regular meeting 7:30 pm. Congregation Beth Emek, corner of College Avenue & South "M" Street, Livermore.

APRIL 16 - L-AGS STUDY GROUP meets at LDS Church, 950 Mocho Street, Livermore, 7:30 pm.

APRIL 23 - L-AGS COMPUTER GROUP meets at Sonoma School, 543 Sonoma Avenue, Livermore, 7:30 pm.

MAY 6-9 - NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY Conference of the States in Denver, CO. Write NGS '98 Conference Registration Brochure, 4527 17th Street North, Arlington, VA 22207-2399.

MAY 12 - LIVERMORE-AMADOR GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY (L-AGS) Regular meeting 7:30 pm. Congregation Beth Emek, corner of College Avenue & South "M" Street, Livermore.

MAY 16 - GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY is presenting a workshop on Native American Research featuring Pat Smith from Salt Lake City. Seminar to be held at LDS Family History Library, 731 El Vista Avenue, Modesto. Registration begins at 8:30 am.

MAY 21 - L-AGS STUDY GROUP meets at LDS Church, 950 Mocho Street, Livermore, 7:30 pm.

MAY 28 - L-AGS COMPUTER GROUP meets at Sonoma School, 543 Sonoma Avenue, Livermore, 7:30 pm.

JUNE 9 - LIVERMORE-AMADOR GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY (L-AGS) Regular meeting 7:30 pm. Congregation Beth Emek, corner of College Avenue & South "M" Street, Livermore.

JUNE 18 - L-AGS STUDY GROUP meets at LDS Church, 950 Mocho Street, Livermore, 7:30 pm.


SEPTEMBER 19 - L-AGS / LDS Livermore Annual Seminar, 950 Mocho Street, Livermore.

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Lori Codey

Tonight our five year old son, Austin, expressed a sadness that he was never able to meet the great-grandfather he was named for. It struck me that this is the reason most of us do genealogy, to learn about those ancestors we weren't fortunate enough to meet.

For the most part, names, dates, and places don't tell the story. We want more and strive to fill in the blanks to find out how they looked, what they did, and how they lived. Those facts are harder to come by. By studying the history of the area where our ancestors lived, tracking down living cousins who may have stories, pictures and bibles, we begin to put the pieces together. And in the end, hopefully, we have a story to tell and to share with the generations that follow.

Good luck finding the fabric of your ancestors lives. If I, or anyone on the board can assist you, just ask! We're here to help. There are many years of experience within our membership, use them! Individually we accomplish many things; by sharing our resources and knowledge we can accomplish a great many more.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your President for 1998. I am learning from all of you!

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by George Anderson

A member of L-AGS recently organized a family reunion in Pleasanton. In attendance were the matriarch of the family and 4 generations of unbroken mother-daughter descendants. From the following clues, can you determine who among these five females uses many genealogy programs, and who is a professional genealogist?

1. Jolene née Norris was from out of town.

2. Mildred from Texas uses Family Origins software.

3. Harriet was born in Kentucky and now lives in Pleasanton.

4. The maiden name of the one born in Scotland was Mumma. She now lives in Pleasanton.

5. The native of California is the daughter of the native of Kansas.

6. The daughter of Garth Silver is a golf pro in Pleasanton.

7. The poet from Pleasanton and Herr Whisman's daughter from Leipzig are either mother and daughter or daughter and mother.

8. Both the grandmother and the granddaughter of the Reunion software user were in attendance.

9. Fran and the woman born in Pennsylvania are mother and daughter, or vice versa.

10. Lori is a model in Chile.

11. The daughter of David Parkison uses PAF and the California native uses FTM; neither is from Pleasanton.

12. The doctor from Alaska and the daughter of Baron Mumma are either mother and daughter, or daughter and mother.

13. Fran is the matriarch of the family.

Find the answers

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by David Abrahams

Recently a friend of mine who is not a genealogist told me that he has located an electronic language translator on the Internet. The URL is

The online program, from Alta Vista, will translate English into French, German, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. It will also translate those languages into English!

Several members of L-AGS have tried it, and I have incorporated some of their comments below.

Doug Mumma, who was in the process of sending a letter to Germany to have it translated, used the program. "I used the program and it at least created German words. Whether or not they make good sense remains to be seen. I will send him my English version and the German translation and ask for his comments and corrections. By the way, I found it would only accept about 10 lines of text at a time, but that was no major problem for a single letter."

George Anderson tested it by translating "My hobby is genealogy" into each of the five languages, and then back into English. The results are quite interesting: French back to English - "My pastime is genealogy"; German to English - "My hobby is genealogy"; Italian to English - "Mine hobby is genealogy"; Portuguese to English - "My pastime is genealogy"; Spanish to English - "My odd habit is genealogy".

Larry Renslow wrote "I must comment that these are literal translations, which are not the way a native or fluent speaker would express anything. If you're in a hurry and everything is cool, then these programs are a great help. But if an important piece of business is involved, or you are at the mercy of a bureaucrat, or anyone looking for an excuse to be uncooperative, beware!"

I have a book in German that has two short letters in the preface. I carefully typed these into my word processor, and then copied them into the translator. I then copied the translations back into my word processor. Although the grammar did not flow properly, I now am able to understand that one letter is to the author thanking him for dedicating the book to him. The other is a note by the author indicating why the book was written.

So, the net result of a few short tests is that this is not a bad program, even though it has some shortcomings.

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by Gary Drummond

ditor’s Note: Gary Drummond has long been a student of Livermore Valley History. He is the author and editor of several publications on valley history, including the stories of Mary Ann Harlan Smith, William Mendenhall, and James D. Smith, Headmaster of Livermore College from 1875 to 1893. He is on the Board of Directors of the Livermore Heritage Guild.

Land Title Troubles Arise

When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded Alta California to the United States, one of its Articles guaranteed that "all grants of land made by the Mexican government...shall be respected as valid." But an early Act of Congress after California had been admitted to the Union was to pass the California Land Act. This provided that each Spanish and Mexican land grant had to be reviewed and approved by a land court. Rancheros had to prove legitimate title of land now surveyed under the American system of measurement.

Meantime, state law allowed squatters to pre-empt land on which the title had not yet been confirmed, and if the grant was finally patented, the owner had to reimburse the squatter for the cost of his improvements on the land.

The California economy was relatively cash-poor, and land speculators, farmers with cash, and squatters ended up owning or claiming portions of almost every rancho in the state. The Livermore Valley was no exception to this situation. Judge J. H. Taylor, who had come to the valley in 1853 observed that "in 1867 there was what might be termed a general rush, particularly in the eastern portion of the valley by men who had hoped to find government land on which they could settle and make their homes. At that time all land titles were considered questionable. What was termed ‘squatting’ was the order of the day on every quarter section of land. This resulted in litigation, and Livermore Valley became a place that delighted the hearts of the legal fraternity. Some of the squatters succeeded in perfecting their titles to the land on which they had settled, but lawyers’ fees left them so badly embarrassed that many sold out and left the valley."

Although some of the problems with land titles can be charged to the uncertainty of the Livermore Grant boundaries, litigation initiated by the railroad contributed its share. A great deal of land was given to the railroad company and transferred to Charles McLaughlin, one of the contractors, who received it in payment for his work. As a result, expensive litigation and harassment of pre-emptors followed. A final survey approved by the General Land Office in Washington on March 1, 1871, finally settled the matter.

It was this last survey that finally allowed the heirs of Robert Livermore, who had died in 1858, to settle his estate. By law, the executor of the estate had to be bonded for $15,000, not only a large sum at the time, but crippling to a family whose resources were not in cash, that being the only acceptable medium to the State. The Livermores sold as many of their cattle as possible, but in a depressed market, to raise funds. They borrowed money, using land as collateral. By the time Livermore’s estate was settled on May 30, 1871, the original 48,000 acres originally claimed had been whittled down to 4,000. Here was a case where the interests of settlers and the State of California took precedence over the heirs’ claim by giving away over 90% of the original grant to new owners before the children could receive title to their father’s estate.

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Oakland Main Library has resources you can not find anyplace else. They have A Local History File; A Black Newspaper Index; Oakland Newspaper Index; City of Oakland only Birth & Death Indexes; and actual certificates 1870-1904. "City of Oakland only" means these records include only the area that was considered Oakland during those years. You will not find birth or death certificates there for areas later incorporated into the city of Oakland such as the townships and districts located east of Lake Merritt and known as East Oakland. These were: Allendale, Brooklyn (previously Lynn, Clinton, San Antonia), Elahurst, Fitchburg, Fruitvale, Highland Park, Melrose, Seminary Park (now Mills College) and Diamond District. There are some birth records but NO death records for the Temescal district. They cover the years 1878-1899. If you visit the Oakland Library, Oakland History rooms, copies of these certificates can be had for a few cents. If ordered by mail the cost is a couple of dollars.

Mayflower Society Library has a collection of over 2,500 volumes of books. Along with this collection is housed the East Bay Genealogical Society material (it takes 11 pages to print). Location: Financial Building, Terrace level, 405 14th Street, Oakland, CA, telephone: 510-451-9599. There is a parking lot across the street and BART is one block away at Oakland/12th Street Station.

J. Porter Shaw Library is for those with roots in the Bay Area and its maritime past. The Library houses an extensive reference collection of periodicals, newspapers, documents and photographs. The newspaper section includes the maritime portions of the San Francisco Chronicle (1906-1984); the San Francisco Call Bulletin (1925-1955); the California State Index to San Francisco Newspapers (4 million citations); two indexes and a local arrangement of local news articles (1858-1971) and 19th and 20th century whaling newspapers. The historic manuscripts collection includes the Alaska Packers Association Records (1876-1945) and the President Lines Records (1925-1944). The Library is located at Fort Mason Center, Building E, San Francisco, CA.

Drum Barracks Museum and Library is the oldest National Historical Site in the Los Angeles area. It is housed in the only remaining building of Camp Drum, U.S. Army headquarters from 1861-1871. The library holds over 800 volumes, including the 126 volume set, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. It has other rare and out-of-print publications related to the Civil War. It is located at 1052 Banning Boulevard, Wilmington, CA. It can be visited only by an appointment made 14 hours in advance by calling 310-548-7509.

Gold Rush Library is in the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, California. Visitors have access to more than 1,000 books, personal journals, and out-of-print historical works in the newly opened California Gold Rush Research Library. Ultimately, staffers at the non-circulating library hope to make the volumes accessible to researchers and students via the Internet, since the facility will be open by appointment only. For more information call (916) 622-1116 or -6198. From: American History, March 1998.

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by Judy Person

The library has had its influx of CDs and books, all of which are still in process, as is the reconfiguring of the public-use computer in the Pleasanton Library which will be devoted to the use of the genealogy CD-Roms the Library League has purchased.

The best news is that Jay Gilson has agreed to chair the Library Committee, and is acquainting himself with all the background information now. George Anderson and Judy Person will continue working on their various tasks to assist Jay, and we all make a plea for everyone's cooperation: If you are asked to help with a library project, please say yes right away. This is one of our club's biggest opportunities, responsibilities, and services to ourselves and others, and a major chunk of our budget. And we all learn something each time we investigate.

We anticipate quite a lot of use of the CDs when they are running, so we're thinking of a signup sheet for computer time, as we have had for library internet computers. Once things are moving, we'll publicize the CDs, especially that they're the gift of the Pleasanton Library League.

We learned recently that Alameda County Libraries, including Pleasanton, are going to have a T-1 line and more public-use computers in the near future, which may be helpful to L-AGS members.

A list of the CDs that have been purchased is below. However, please have patience - the system is not up and running yet, and we are still in the process of entering the CDs into the library system.

CD FTM MBndl FTM Marriage Bundle CDs 1-6 & 225-229 & 400

CD 1870 Bndl FTM Census Indexes 1870 7 CD Bundle

CD 300 CN Bnd FTM Census 300 Series 11 CD Bundle Pre 1790 - 1880

CD 113 FTM History Series

CD 117 FTM Family History: New England Families # 1, 1600s - 1800s

CD 161 FTM Family History: GIS Electronic Messages

CD 162 FTM Family History - Virginia Genealogies #1

CD 163 FTM Family History: Pennsylvania Genealogies #1

CD 170 FTM Immigrants to the New World

CD 171 FTM Genealogies of Mayflower Families

CD 173 FTM Genealogies of Early Long Island Families

CD 179 FTM Family History: Connecticut Genealogies #1, 1600s - I 800s

CD 180 FTM Rhode Island Genealogies #1

CD 181 FTM English Origins of NE Families 1500s - 1800s

CD 182 FTM Family History: New Jersey Genealogies #1, 1600s - I 800s

CD 183 FTM Early Settlers of New York

CD 185 FTM Kentucky Genealogies #1

CD 186 FTM Family History: Virginia Genealogies #2, 1600s - 1800s

CD 200 FTM Compendium of American can Genealogy, 1600 - 1800s

CD 350 FTM The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607 - 1776

CD 119 FTM Military Records: Confederate Soldiers, 1861 - 1865

CD 131 FTM Veteran's Schedules: US Selected States, 1890

CD 132 FTM NY Revolutionary War Records, 1775 - 1840

CD 133 Military Records: Rev. War Patriots, MD & DE, 1775 - 1783

CD 134 FTM MA Civil War Soldiers & Sailors 1861 - 65

CD 146 FTM Military Volunteer Records (1784 - 1810)

CD 147 FTM MA Revolutionary War Soldiers & Sailors 1775 - 82

CD 351 FTM The Roll of Honor Civil War Union Soldiers

CD 130 FTM Pennsylvania German Church Records, 1729 - 1870

CD 160 FTM Upstate New York Newsletters & Journals

CD 164 FTM Mortality Index, USA, 1850 - 1880

CD 166 FTM Church Records: Selected Areas of PA, 1600s - 1800s

CD 168 FTM Salt Lake City Cemetery Records, 1847 - 1992

CD 172 FTM Pennsylvania Vital Records 1700s - 1800s

CD 174 FTM Virginia Vital Records #1

CD 175 FTM Ohio Vital Records #1

CD 177 FTM Ohio Vital Records #2

CD 178 FTM Church Records: MD & DE, 1600s - 1800s

CD 255 FTM Land Records, AL, AR, FL, LA, Ml, MN, OH, WI

CD 116 FTM Canadian Ontario Census Index 1871

CD 118 FTM Canadian Genealogy Index 1600s - 1900s

CD 165 FTM African Americans in the 1870s

CD 197 FTM Irish Census Index Caven & Londonderry Counties

CD 309 FTM VA Census Microfilm Records 1850

CD FAV 4.0 FTM Family Archive Views vs 4.0

CD FFI 4.0 FTM 2 CD Family Finder Index 4.0

CD 284 FTM Census Index: Massachusetts 1870

CD 335 FTM Census Index: Idaho 1910

CD AG 008 Pennsylvania 1870 Census Index

CD AG 009 Marriage Index, Selected States & Counties, 1690 - 1850

CD G-005 Ontario Cemetery Index

CD E- 001 Pension Rolls Thru 1883

CD CW-001 Civil War Regimental Records

CD SR 001 Mayflower Descendants

CD SR 002 Early Vital Records, Barnstable Co., MA

CD SR 003 Early Vital Records: Plymouth, MA 1620 - 1850

CD SR 004 Suffolk Co. Vital Records

CD G-004 U.S. Gazetteer, Early to 1900s (Win & Mac)

CD 231 FTM Marriage Records MA 1633 - 1850

CD 400 FTM Marriage Index: OH Selected Counties, 1789 - 1850

CD 401 FTM Marriage Records: NY, Selected Counties

CD 020 FTM Ohio 1880 Census Index

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Computer guys

by Doug Mumma

A Changing of the Guard!

Four years ago I "planted the seed" for the formation of the Computer Interest Group and have nurtured it and watched it grow into a vigorous and dynamic sub-group within L-AGS. It has been a fun period in which I learned a lot, but I have a number of other things that are now placing demands on my time. It is time to turn the reins over to someone else to lead the group forward. I wish to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have assisted me in the planning, preparation, and presentation of the past meetings.

I am very pleased to announce that a successor has been found to take over as chairperson of the Computer Interest Group. In fact, it will be co-chaired by two outstanding people, Dick Finn and George Anderson. I can't think of a better team to lead this group. Both have worked with Macs and PCs so they are intimately familiar with both platforms and a wide variety of software programs. While they have not had the time to put their program together, we can all look forward to some exciting and informative meetings for the future. I would like to request that all of you give them your full support whether it is simply filling out questionnaires or helping to put on a monthly meeting.

J'Nell Thompson will continue to be the chairperson of the Family Tree Maker (FTM) Focus group. The purpose of this group is for users of the program to meet and share problems, tips, and general knowledge about using this popular software program. The interest in this group continues to grow with each meeting which is on the first Thursday of each month in trailer P2 behind the Sonoma Avenue Adult Education Facility.

The meeting topics for the Computer Interest Group for April and May are shown below and should be of interest to many of you. Remember, the meetings are now being held in room 7/8 of the Sonoma Avenue Learning Center at 7:30 p.m. on the 4th Thursday of each month, so mark your calendars.

Meeting - April 23, 1998 "Create your own Genealogy Web Page - an introduction to HTML" Part 1. Vicki Renz will be the presenter for this topic. Vicki has created some Web pages for the Livermore Public Library, as well as doing the Web version of the Tracer. She will present a basic introduction to HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) including a demonstration of several programs that can be used to create Web pages, such as MSWord and Front Page. A "homework" assignment during the following month will be to create your own Web page and bring it to the next session.

Meeting - May 28, 1998 "Create your own Genealogy Web Page - an introduction to HTML" Part 2. At this continuation meeting about Web pages, there will be an opportunity to discuss problems and questions that may have occurred while creating your page. We will also focus on the genealogy aspects of Web pages created using Family Origins, Family Tree Maker, GED2HTML and other programs.

Dick and George will announce the subjects, times and locations for all future meeting beyond the scheduled May meeting. The Sonoma Avenue Adult Education Facility will not be available during the three summer months so any meetings held during this time period will be at an alternate location. You will be notified of future meetings and their locations via e-mail and at the L-AGS regular membership meetings.

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Computer and disc

by Robbie Robinson

Broderbund/Banner Blue is releasing CDs at a record clip. In March alone, there are seven already announced. I'll review a few of these and list the rest for you.

Colonial Genealogies #1, 1607 - 1720

This family history CD contains images of the pages from all seven volumes of Colonial Families of the United States of America. Originally published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, these volumes contain information about approximately 142,000 individuals. Compiled over a period of thirteen years, they include only those families who can trace their ancestry back to the Colonial Period (1607-1775). Each family history article, ranging from three to twenty scanned pages, gives the British or European pedigree of the colonial ancestor followed by a listing of the known descendants at the time the article was written. The information on individuals varies from article to article. For convenient and easy searching, an alphabetical name index is included on the CD. CD #189, $39.99.

Kentucky Marriage Index, 1851 - 1900

This family archive CD contains information on approximately 318,000 individuals who were married in the sixty-two Kentucky counties between 1851 and 1900. Compiled by Liahona Research, the records on this CD provide a great deal of information including the name of the spouse, marriage date, location of the marriage and the county where the marriage was recorded. You can also learn where copies of the original marriage record can be obtained. For convenience and easy searching, an alphabetical name index is included on the CD. CD #233, $29.99.

Everton's Computerized Family File, Volume 1

This family archive CD contains images of family group sheets containing information on approximately 389,000 individuals from all fifty states and in other various countries. In addition, you can confirm the name of the individual who contributed a particular family group sheet to Everton Publishers. Unlike previous publications of Everton's Computerized Family File, this CD contains the images of the actual family group sheets. Again, this CD contains an alphabetical name index. CD #12, $39.99.

Eastern Pennsylvania Birth Index, 1680 - 1800

This Family Archive CD contains alphabetical listings of approximately 465,000 individuals, who were parents of children who were born in Eastern Pennsylvania between 1680 and 1800. The information, which was compiled by John T. Humphrey, was extracted from 213 church, meeting and pastoral records. This CD lists the individual's full name, birth or baptism date, birth place and the names of the parents. You can also learn the source of the birth record information. An alphabetical listing is included for ease and convenience in searching. CD #196, $ TBD.

Index of Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1600s - 1800s

This Family Archive CD contains alphabetical listing of approximately 2,750,000 individuals who arrived in United States ports from the 1600s through the 1800s. Published by Gale Research, hundreds of various ship records are indexed and can provide valuable family history information to those with immigrant ancestors. Originally compiled by P. William Filby, this work includes information taken from naturalization records, passenger lists, and claims for headrights. Again an alphabetical index is included for convenience and ease of searching. CD #354, $ TBD.

World Family Tree Volume No. 18. CD #718, $39.99.

World Family Tree Super Bundle II. This 5 CD set contains Vols. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. $59.99

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Floppy and CD

by George Anderson

A scientific paper I read a few years ago made a deep impression on me. It said, in paraphrase, "Digital data won't last, good paper and film will." I will explain what that means later. Since I read that article, I have listened with alarm to genealogists who describe how they are putting their heirloom photos onto CDs, or scanning their pictures to store them on Zip disks, or archiving their Family Tree Maker files onto diskettes. If their intent is to make a temporary backup, or to provide an inexpensive way to give copies to relatives, that's fine; but if the purpose is to preserve the precious information for posterity, I've got news for them.

The article I mentioned is "Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents," by Jeff Rothenberg, in Scientific American, January 1995. The title is positive but his thesis is negative: neither you nor I nor the federal government nor anyone else is doing what needs to be done to make digital documents readable a few decades from now. Rothenberg starts his article with a parable:

The year is 2045, and my grandchildren (as yet unborn) are exploring the attic of my house (as yet unbought). They find a letter dated 1995 and a CD-ROM. The letter says the disk contains a document that provides the key to obtaining my fortune (as yet unearned). My grandchildren are understandably excited, but they have never before seen a CD - except in old movies. Even if they can find a suitable disk drive, how will they run the software necessary to interpret what is on the disk? How can they read my obsolete digital document?

This imaginary scenario reveals some fundamental problems with digital documents. Without the explanatory letter, my grandchildren would have no reason to think the disk in my attic was worth deciphering. The letter possesses the enviable quality of being readable with no machinery, tools, or special knowledge beyond that of English. Because digital information can be copied and recopied perfectly, it is often extolled for its supposed longevity. The truth, however, is that because of changing hardware and software, only the letter will be immediately intelligible 50 years from now.

I had an experience when working on the L-AGS cemetery books in 1990 that illustrates the problem. Bev Ales had published the Livermore Cemetery book on her Xerox word processor, which output data to an 8 inch floppy disk - does anyone remember those? In its time, before PCs, the Xerox machine was super high tech. Already in 1990, only a few years after the Xerox machine went out of production, I could not find a way to transfer the cemetery data to any kind of 1990 digital media. One computer store told me the only way was to take the paper copy, which was in existence, and do optical character recognition. I even called Xerox, and they said they no longer supported the machine - essentially they said, "You're on your own." Eventually I found a specialist in San Jose who could transfer the information for me, at a cost of $30 for one diskette.

You might think that the federal government, with billions of dollars invested in digital documents, would have made provision for its survival in perpetuity. Not so, according to Rothenberg. A congressional investigation revealed that the entire 1960 census was almost lost when it was discovered in 1990 that the obsolete recording format could not be read by current equipment. A way was finally found to rescue most of the information.

The longevity issue breaks down into three parts: deterioration of the physical medium, obsolescence of hardware, and obsolescence of software. Magnetic disks degrade because of stray magnetic fields, oxidation and material decay, with an error-free physical lifetime of 5 to 10 years. The time until they are obsolete because of changing technology is only 5 years. Optical disks are estimated to last 30 years physically and 10 years technologically.

What are we to do? For the government, Rothenberg recommends that archivists migrate the records to new media frequently, recording in human-readable form the key to successive changes in hardware and software. No matter what technology brings, this should a allow lossless reconstruction of the original data at any time in the future.

For us, the answer is multiple copies on good paper and film, properly preserved. Paper has a reputation for impermanence, but high quality paper carefully handled lasts almost forever. Some of Shakespeare's original printed sonnets are readable after 400 years. And most important, the hardware and software to read print on paper is never obsolete.

We all have black and white photos that go back to 1900 or earlier, and most of them look like new. Many of us also have color photos that have washed out in a few years, and even black and white photos that have faded from improper exposure to chemicals. Many believe that modern color film and preservation methods have overcome these problems.

What kind of paper and film, and how to preserve them, are not the present subject. But an additional imperative was mentioned above: make multiple copies and disperse them. Marilyn Fullam spoke on this subject to L-AGS a number of years ago, giving her presentation a memorable title: "How to keep your genealogy from ending up in the landfill." The biggest threat to our lifetime of research is the unthinking executor who doesn't recognize it, and doesn't know any of the people in the photos, so she tosses it all out. Publish it so it doesn't perish! Properly compiled and donated to leading libraries, it will not only be immortal, but will be advertised to the world in the libraries' catalogs. Will the data on your diskette submitted to the World Family Tree or to the Ancestral File still be available 50 years from now? I wouldn't bet on it. Will your printed genealogy be available? It may be dusty, but it will be in at least one library and listed in the "Cosmic Library Catalog."

I highly recommend Rothenberg's article for the serious preservationist. I have a copy which anyone is welcome to borrow. I close with another quote from him:

It is only slightly facetious to say that digital information lasts forever - or five years, whichever comes first.

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by Jolene Abrahams

I always find it frustrating when I attend the first few meetings of an organization I have just joined. Being the new member and not knowing the acronyms they toss out so freely - thinking that everyone knows what they are saying. So here are a few acronyms you may hear at a genealogy meeting.

FGS: Federation of Genealogical Societies is a national-level organization that provides information to its member societies and libraries on society management and genealogical events crucial to the field of genealogy. FGS has several publications. Federation of Genealogical Societies, P.O. Box 3385, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110-3385.

NGS: National Genealogical Society is also a national society. The society is 90 years old. They maintain a library that allows members to borrow books by mail, and they publish a newsletter and a quarterly. NGS also has a Computer Interest Group (CIG), which maintains a Bulletin Board for computer genealogists. The National Genealogical Society, 4527 17th Street N, Arlington, Virginia 22207-2399.

CGS: California Genealogical Society is the oldest genealogical society in California. Its purpose is to help people trace and compile their own family histories. The Society maintains a library, gathers and preserves vital records, and provides education through meetings, seminars, workshops, and a Computer Interest Group. Write: California Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 77105, San Francisco, CA 94107-0105.

CSGA: California State Genealogical Alliance is the umbrella group for the various societies in   California. They publish a monthly newsletter that has a calendar of events not only for California but around the United States. In addition, there are articles of nationwide interest besides the articles on major research repositories in California. Write: Mary Foletta, CSGA Newsletter Editor, 23040 Guidotti Drive, Salinas, CA 93908-1022.

CG: Certified Genealogist is a person who is proficient in all types of genealogical research and analysis, including the compilation of well-crafted family histories.

CGI: Certified Genealogical Instructor. This person plans and conducts full courses of genealogical instruction, covering methodology and resources.

CGL: Certified Genealogical Lecturer is a person who gives public addresses of an educational nature on genealogical topics and related subjects for family history research and relationships.

CGRS: Certified Genealogical Record Specialist. This person knows well and is proficient in the use and interpretation of all records within their chosen specialty, unpublished as well as published. The Board for Certification of Genealogists publishes a Roster of Certified Genealogists that is available on their website, or in a printed version for a fee. Board for Certification of Genealogists, P.O. Box 5816, Falmouth, Virginia 22403-5816.

CIG: Computer Interest Group. It usually is a group within a society that has a special interest in using computers in genealogy.

DAR: Daughters of the American Revolution

SAR: Sons of the American Revolution

Holdings: In genealogy circles Holdings are the collection of genealogy books in a library.

Stacks: The bookshelves in a library that hold the books that may be browsed and borrowed.

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by Jolene Abrahams


Include all of the following information on your notes (you can find the first three items on the CD or on the card inside the plastic CD case).

  1. CD number, Volume number (if any)
  2. Title of the CD - this will typically include the type of record, the state(s) covered, and the years included
  3. Date of CD publication.
  4. Page number (if applicable)
  5. Record number (if applicable)
  6. The copyright symbol, followed by the year of CD publication and the name of the company

Here's an example of a citation you might use if you found information on Broderbund Software, Family Archives #2.

Family Archive CD#2, Marriage Index: IL, IN, KY, OH, TN, 1720-1926, Du Page County, IL (1826 to 1877), September 1994 Edition, Page 20, Record 50, (c)1994, Broderbund Software Inc.

From: San Ramon Valley Gen. Soc. Newsletter, Vol. XIII, #6, Pg. 46


If you can't locate your ancestor's town on a map, contact the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Established in 1890, the board is responsible for resolving placename discrepancies. Their staff has an extensive library of literature, maps, and the National Geographic Names Database with over two million place names. They will research inquiries about current and historical place names and locations for no charge. The address is: Executive Secretary for Domestic Names, U.S. Board on Geographic Names, U.S. Geological Survey, 523 National Center, Reston, Virginia 22092-0523. Call (800) USA-MAPS to learn about their National Digital Gazetteer, available on CD for $57.00.

From: H.A.G.S. INFORMER, V 19, #4, April 1996, pg. 36.


The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, located at 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, has closed to the public for renovation (since Nov. 1997). This will improve public access and preservation of their collection. They will reopen on 14 April 1998. In the meantime, their research by mail will continue. You may call them at (215)732-6200 or contact them by e-mail through their web site:

From: The Immigrant Gen. Soc., Vol 166, January 1998, pg. 2.

by Regina Schaefer

If you are copying old yellow newspaper clippings, and they turn black, there is a way to reproduce these without the gray background. If you select the "photo" option on the copier, the copy will come out clean and crisp.

If you have trouble with "bleed-through" when copying or scanning documents, try putting a piece of dark paper behind the original. This will help to minimize ghost characters from the back of the original.


California Wagon Train Lists, Volume I, April 5, 1849 to October 20, 1852, by Louis J. Rasmussen (Colma, CA: San Francisco Historic Records, 1994).

The discovery of gold brought waves of fortune seekers across the plains to California. Documenting someone who arrived here in those early days of the Gold Rush can be a difficult, and often seemingly impossible, task. This book will make it easier for some. Information on wagon trains leaving for, or arriving in, California is compiled here from different sources, but primarily from newspapers - from The New York Daily Tribune to The Sacramento Union. There are three indexes to the book - surname, geographical, and subject.

From: Placer Trails, September 1996, pg. 4, by Barbara Leak.


POSTAGE: Jim McDonnell of the Contra Costa Genealogical Society advises that there is a catalog out called "USA Philatelic" wherein one can order stamps from various countries to put on SASE correspondence outside the United States. He says, like others engaged in genealogical research, he sends a fair amount of mail outside the US and had been relying on purchasing international postage coupons which can be awkward and expensive. While "USA Philatelic" is tailored for stamp collectors, it also can serve the purpose for "information collectors." There is a good selection of denominations and, with the possible exception of Canada, is a valid alternative to the international coupons, according to McDonnell. It appears that the Canadian 45 cent stamp is the only offering from that country. The catalog can be ordered by phoning: 1-800-STAMP24.

From: The Live Oak Newsletter, East Bay Genealogical Society, Jan 1998

GREEK: If you are researching your Greek ancestry you might want to join the Greek Family Heritage Committee. Write Greek Family Heritage c/o Antonia S. Mattheou, 25 Fox Hollow Ridings Road,
Northport, New York 11768, (631) 262-0635, There is a publication available.

From: CSGA Newsletter, Vol. 16, #1, Jan 1998

SWEDISH: The Swedish post office provides information packets for Americans trying to find their Swedish ancestors. For $20, a researcher fills out a short form on the ancestor and will receive confirmation of parentage, siblings and children. No fee is charged if information is not sufficient. For a packet contact: Swedish Council of America, 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407.

From: San Joaquin Gen. Soc., Sept/Oct 1997.

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by George Anderson

Fran uses many genealogy programs and Jolene is a professional genealogist.

Fran née Mumma is the first generation. She is a poet who uses many genealogy programs. She was born in Scotland and lives in Pleasanton.

Mildred née Whisman is the second generation. She is a doctor who uses Family Origins, was born in Pennsylvania and does not live in Pleasanton.

Harriet née Silver is the third generation. She is a golf pro who uses Reunion, was born in Kentucky and lives in Pleasanton.

Lori née Parkison is the fourth generation. She is a model who uses PAF, was born in Kansas and does not live in Pleasanton.

Jolene née Norris is the fifth generation. She is a professional genealogist, uses FTM, was born in California and does not live in Pleasanton.

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Last updated 27 Sep 2004 vlr