Volume 7, Number 16 | October 8, 2006
What is the Profile of a Genealogist?
What is the profile of a genealogist? Are we typically little old ladies in tennis sneakers? Are we Internet illiterate? At least three studies have been posted to the Internet, and they do not all provide similar results.
One study of "e-genealogy" (electronic, that is, Internet-based genealogy) was done by Kate Friday of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland, as part of a doctoral thesis. The majority of the respondents (60%) were from the UK. Friday found her subjects by e-mail, so logically almost all (95%) claimed to have intermediate or advanced computer skills. There were many other findings some of which were 62% were female, only 17% were 65 years of age or older, 69% are married, 70% use the Internet only for genealogical research. The project description is located at http://www.researchingegenealogy.co.uk/surveyresults.htm. The results are located at http://rgu-sim.rgu.ac.uk/research/egen/survey/surveyresults.pdf.
Pamela J. Drake as part of a master's thesis at Fullerton University in California did a study "to learn more about genealogists and what needs are met by the pursuit of information about one's ancestors." Unlike the Friday study, Drake stated that 72% of those surveyed were female and that 22% were over 65. Most claimed that more than five generations of their families have lived in the U.S. The complete results can be found at http://psych.fullerton.edu/genealogy/.
By far, the most comprehensive study was done by Richard A. Frazier of the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2001. The purpose of the thesis was unusual; to determine what impact genealogical research could have on tourism. Consequently, many of the questions asked on the survey addressed that subject. But the survey includes a demographic profile and, therefore, had some general conclusions--73% were female and 21% age 65 or older--quite close to the Drake study. The group was not wealthy. Only about 13% had incomes over $100,000; an additional 8% had incomes over $80,000. More than 20% had incomes of less than $25,000. This last category favored women, the very young and the very old. Less than 20% has master's degrees, and about 5% had doctorates. Most had some college education. Regarding how long the people were doing genealogy, the largest group (37%) have been doing genealogy 1-5 years; the second largest group (17%) were those doing genealogy longer than 20 years. His report, a master's thesis, is 146 pages in length and can be found at http://www.uwstout.edu/lib/thesis/2001/2001frazierr.pdf
Ancestry.co.uk Now Has British Phone Books, 1880-1984, Online
Ancestry.co.uk, in association with BT (British Telecommunication) Archives, has placed online British phone books, 1880-1984. Currently, the database contains 430 phone books covering London and large parts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex, and Surrey. This collection does not currently contain full county coverage. After 1954 the format of the phone book was substantially changed, and separate phone books were produced for those regions outside of the London postal area. Additional years and counties will be added to this collection over the course of future releases. It is estimated that there are more than 72 million names at the site. The total collection contains in excess of 250 million names. The database is located at http://www.ancestry.co.uk/. The site also contains other databases including British censuses and England and Wales birth, marriage and death indexes 1837-1983. The vital record indexes are not full-name indexes but are indexes to the regular index published by the British government.
FGS Offers Downloading of Conference Lectures
The (U.S.) Federation of Genealogical Societies is offering something novel: downloading of the audio portion of the more than 200 lectures at its recently held annual conference which took place in Boston. The cost per lecture download is $1.99. There are a number of package offers of 15 lectures for $25.
Hopefully, this will inspire planners for other conferences, such as the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, to follow FGS' lead. It will help people attending these conferences who had to choose between two or more concurrent lectures. It is also of value, of course, to those who could not make the conference.
Once you download the sessions, they can be listened to on a computer, iPod or other MP3 player. The downloads are located at http://www.lulu.com/fgs2006.
Many of the lectures are on topics not relevant to Jewish genealogical research. Focus on those about methodology, technology and getting started. I gave three lectures at the conference. One that might of interest to Nu? What's New? readers is "How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust." Its site is http://www.lulu.com/content/405245
Ancestry.com Adds Newspaper Birth, Marriage and Death Announcements, 1851-2003
Ancestry.com has added birth, marriage and death announcements from eight major American newspapers. They are:
New York Times (1851-2001)
Los Angeles Times (1881-1894)
Boston Globe (1872-1922)
Chicago Defender (1921-1975)
Chicago Tribune (1850-1985)
Hartford Courant (1791-1942)
Washington Post (1877-1990)
Atlanta Constitution (1868-1929)
The index seems to include all names that appear in the announcements. My personal use of the database had strange results. The first surname I searched for was "Mokotoff." There were no results, yet I knew that there were Mokotoff obituaries in the New York Times, and my daughter's wedding announcement also appeared in the newspaper. There is a "keyword" field that usually is reserved to locate people that appear in these announcements but are not the principals (for example, the names of children in an obituary). Using "Mokotoff" as a keyword, there were 18 results, all obituaries in the New York Times. Many of these results were for obituaries of persons named Mokotoff. There still was the missing marriage announcement. Recommendation: Search for surnames in the keyword field. If the number of results is too high, then use the surname field.
Another consideration is that this database is not yet integrated into the main Ancestry.com collection. If you search for a person on Ancestry.com's home page, the results do not include this collection.
I have made inquiries to the company about these discrepancies.
The database is located at http://content.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=50000&enc=1&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0
MyFamily.com Getting a Bit of Competition
Paul Allen, founder of Ancestry.com who has moved on to other things, has formed his own genealogy company called World Vital Records that has now launched a fee-based Internet genealogy site. It is located at http://www.worldvitalrecords.com. The company calls itself the "number two player in the genealogy industry."
Currently, all the databases I located at the site are free. They include many state marriage and death indexes plus the Social Security Death Index. One interesting feature of the site is that a number of databases, including death records, display a map where the decedent lived that identifies the location of cemeteries in the area on the assumption that the person was buried locally. Each cemetery is shown on the map with a tombstone icon containing a cross, including the Jewish cemeteries. :>)
Allen refers to himself as the "lesser Paul Allen" to distinguish himself from Paul Gardner Allen who founded Microsoft with Bill Gates.
Mormon Church to Redo Downtown Salt Lake City
Those who have visited the Mormon Family History Library in Salt Lake City are familiar with the two major shopping centers in the downtown area: Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center. Both are just a block away from the Library.
These shopping centers will be no more by the end of 2007. The Mormon Church, owner of the property, plans to raze and replace the centers with new retail and office space and even some residential facilities. The project will not be completed until 2011 and will cost more than $1 billion.
The Church also owns the property which is the site of the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel. The hotel is a popular place for genealogists to stay because it is adjacent to the Library. Original plans called for the hotel's demolition, but the current plan is to let it remain, although three floors will be used to house students of the Church's Business College.
Additional information about the project can be found at http://www.sltrib.com/ci_4436935.
Wanted: Human Interest Articles for Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU is our human interest issue. Many years ago, Sallyann Sack and I wanted to recognize that there is more to genealogy than ancestor hunting. There is the human side of genealogy. The emotional reactions of a genealogist to discoveries in his/her family's history can be both happy and upsetting. There is the pride a researcher feels in successfully breaking down a brick wall. The discovery of long-lost family or linking to the family tree of another genealogist can be exhilarating. Our solution was to reserve a portion of the Winter issue each year to articles about the human side of genealogy.
If you have a story you wish to share with AVOTAYNU readers, send it to the AVOTAYNU editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is November 15, 2006.
AVOTAYNU Publishes Jewish Family History Books in Print
In the Winter issue every year, AVOTAYNU lists Jewish family histories that have been published in the preceding twelve months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported.
The format to follow is: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Deadline for inclusion is November 15, 2006. Send information to email@example.com.
Now Shipping A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery
Demand was so great for the new book, A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery, that we sold out our initial inventory. We now have adequate stock, and all back orders have been fulfilled. The book, by Rabbi Joshua L. Segal, helps the reader understand the ways of Jewish cemeteries and how to interpret the Hebrew inscriptions on tombstones. The fact that tombstone inscriptions are in Hebrew can be a challenge to some researchers, but the material presented in the book is simple enough that it can be understood by those with the most minimal exposure to Hebrew. Yet it is comprehensive enough to be a valuable resource to the most sophisticated Jewish readers.
The book is 220 pages, softcover, and lists for $19.95. Avotaynu is currently offering it for $18.00 plus shipping. Additional information, including the Table of Contents and a sample chapter can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/cemeteryfield.htm.
First Blogs and Now Vlogs
There is a website recently launched called RootsTelevision that has a lovely American video newscast about genealogists returning to their countries of ancestry. One would think that the video would be about Ireland, Italy, Germany or some country in Eastern Europe. Instead, it was about a Chinese-American returning to his ancestral village in China. I found the video clip poignant. It is located at http://www.rootstelevision.com/vlogs/roots-video.html.
On the Lighter Side
For those of you that are followers of the Stephen P. Morse "One Step" website, there is a delightful article on a blog at http://genealogue.blogspot.com/2006_10_01_genealogue_archive.html. Scroll down to the article titled “One-Step Author Steps Away from Project.” It describes Morse's plan to include at his site "Searching Your Relatives Bank Records In One Step"!! He subsequently abandoned the project.
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