Posts By Dick Eastman

(+) What is a Genogram and Why Should I Create One?

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Almost all genealogists are familiar with pedigree charts. These are basic charts for recording parents, grandparents, and earlier generations for an individual. Pedigree charts are used to show bloodlines and are limited to displaying only ancestors. Pedigree charts do not display siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles or other extended relatives. Here is an example of a pedigree chart:

Click on the above to view a larger image.

Pedigree charts have long been a standard tool used by genealogists and others. They are easy to understand and clearly display a lot of information in a small amount of space. However, pedigree charts are limited in what they can display, normally showing only the name of each individual and the places and dates of birth, marriage, and death. They do not show relationships of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or other extended relatives. They also do not display the dynamics of a family over multiple generations.

Medical professionals also have a need to show family relationships in order to understand inherited medical conditions. The medical community often needs to collect and display information about patterns of mental and physical illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, cancer, substance abuse, and other diseases that seem to run in families. Pedigree charts are ineffective for such uses.

Recent Updates to the Calendar of Genealogy Events

The following pages have recently been updated in the Calendar of Genealogy Events:

British Columbia, Ireland, Ontario, United Kingdom, Genealogy Cruises, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

All information in the Calendar of Events is contributed by YOU and by other genealogists. You can directly add information to the Calendar about your local genealogy event.

New Images Added to PERSI

The Periodical Source Index, or PERSI, is the largest subject index to genealogy and local history periodical articles in the world. It is an index to more than 2.5 million entries from thousands of historical, genealogical and ethnic publications. Most of PERSI’s articles are from periodicals covering the United States and Canada, but you can also find thousands of genealogy and local history entries (in both English and French) from Britain, Ireland and Australia.

Created by the staff of the Allen County Public Library Foundation and the ACPL’s Genealogy Center, PERSI is widely recognized as a vital tool for genealogical researchers. For years, PERSI was available in a series of books but now is available online at the FindMyPast web site. PERSI is updated frequently. Now FindMyPast has images to the indexes, allowing the user to access articles, photos, and other material that might be difficult to find using other research methods. PERSI’s titles may be searched free of charge although viewing the contents found requires a paid FindMyPast subscription.

According to the FindMyPast Blog, the list of images added to periodicals in the past month include:

Your Picture in an Automobile

Sometimes we take certain things for granted. We often don’t stop to realize what life was like for our ancestors. We may have skills that our ancestor did not possess. Today I stumbled across some old photographs that made me stop and think.

In 1905 the automobile was a novelty. Very few people had ever driven one, much less owned one. After looking at a couple of photographs, I realized that most people did not know how to drive in those days.

Today most adults are familiar with driving automobiles. However, 100 or more years ago, that was not true. In fact, the idea of someone driving an automobile was so unique that commercial photographers of the time often took advantage of the automobile to sell more photographs.

Senator Demands US Courts Recover 10 Years of Online Public Records

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) says the removal of the thousands of cases from online review is essentially erasing history. The documents were deleted last month from online viewing because of an upgrade to a computer database known as PACER.

“Wholesale removal of thousands of cases from PACER, particularly from four of our federal courts of appeals, will severely limit access to information not only for legal practitioners, but also for legal scholars, historians, journalists, and private litigants for whom PACER has become the go-to source for most court filings,” Leahy wrote Friday to US District Judge John D. Bates, the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO).

One Person Works to Preserve the Records of the District Clerk of Houston and of Harris County, TX

David Furlow has written about the great effort of Francisco Heredia, Team Leader of Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel’s Historical Documents Records Center, to preserve the important documents of the County’s and Houston’s heritage.

Furlow writes, “A little more than a decade ago, courthouse records with dramatic tales of Harris County’s history lay moldering like John Brown in his grave. An unmarked grave of docket sheets, judgments, orders, evidence and appeals, many dating back to the decade-long Republic of Texas, occupied a red brick building on a grubby corner of downtown Houston at the intersection of Texas and Austin. Climate control consisted of a single window-unit familiar to anyone who suffered through their buzzing, rattling and periodic breakdowns during the Fifties and Sixties. The acidity of paper, high humidity, the ravages of hurricanes and floods, the jaws of rats and roaches, and decades of neglect were reducing Harris County’s judicial history to fading stacks of confetti.”

FamilySearch Adds More Than 3.8 Million Indexed Records and Images to Brazil, Columbia, England, India, and United States

The following was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

FamilySearch has added more than 3.8 million indexed records and images to collections from Brazil, Columbia, England, India, and United States. Notable collection updates include the 634,582 images from the Colombia, Catholic Church Records, 1600–2012, collection; the 928,307 images from the US, Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797–1954, collection; and the 899,395 images from the US, Ohio, County Death Records, 1840–2001, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

Searchable historic records are made available on through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at

Minnesota Genealogical Society 2015 Webinar Series – Call for Papers

The following was written by the folks at the Minnesota Genealogical Society:

The Minnesota Genealogical Society invites proposals for our 2015 genealogy webinars. The webinars are via our account on the 1st Wednesday of February, March, April, May, June, August, September, October, November, and December.

The MGS Education Committee especially encourages proposals for presentations with content relating to Minnesota and Upper Midwest resources and important Upper Midwest ethnic groups, including, but not limited to, Swedish, German, Norwegian, French Canadian, and Yankees.

The Committee invites proposals for any of three broad topical areas.

Use CensusReporter to Learn About Your City and Census Tool to Dig Through Decades of Data

An interesting article by Justin Pot in the MakeUseOf web site describes a couple of tools that can make U.S. census data even more useful.

With CensusReporter, you can type in the name of your town and you can start scrolling through all kinds of census data. You’ll see charts that let you absorb the information at a glance, along with comparisons to regional and state numbers. Scrolling through the information offered by default is a great start, but you can also search for other reports.

Have you ever wondered about the people who used to live in your house? Census Tool may be able to help. You can find your old house in the 1940 and earlier U.S. census records and then discover a little about what life was like for its former residences. You’ll see their name, what they did for a living, even how much money they make.

DeceasedOnline adds Blackburn with Darwen Burial and Cremation Records

The following announcement was written by the folks at DeceasedOnline:

deceasedonlineBlackburn with Darwen burial and cremation records available on family history website

One of the North West’s first councils to digitize records for global access

All burial and cremation records for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council have been digitized and added to the specialist family history website

With Genetic Testing, I Gave My Parents the Gift of Divorce

DNA testing can be a wonderful thing. It solves family mysteries, brings families closer together, and more. Sometimes…

A stem cell and reproductive biologist had his own DNA tested. After all, he is a DNA expert. He even teaches a college course about the genome. He recently gave DNA kits to both his mother and his father and was anxious to see the results. As he wrote, “I was very interested in confirming any susceptibility to cancers that I heard had run in my family, like colon cancer. I wanted to know if I had a genetic risk.”

He received a surprise, to say the least. It seems 23andme found a close relative, closer than anyone had expected.

What Is the Cloud?

One word that has crept into computer terminology in the past few years is “cloud.” Just what is the cloud? I hear that question often. Luckily, a new video from does a nice job of answering the question in 3 minutes and 28 seconds.

The video is explains the basic concepts although it ignores the many more sophisticated cloud-based technologies available. Then again, that’s perfect for an introductory explanation.

You can watch What Is the Cloud?  at or in the video player below:

Genealogy Software Review: MacBridge for RootsMagic

I wrote a rather long software review a few weeks ago about RootsMagic, a very popular genealogy program for Windows. You can find my earlier review at Yesterday the producers of RootsMagic announced a new addition: MacBridge for RootsMagic 6, a software product that allows RootsMagic to run on a Macintosh without installing Windows. Today, I will review MacBridge for RootsMagic.

NOTE: This article will focus primarily on the new MacBridge for RootsMagic and how well it functions. I will not describe RootsMagic in detail as I already did that only a few weeks ago at If you would like to know more about RootsMagic, please refer to my earlier article at

RootsMagic has many devoted customers who love the product and have no interest in switching to any other genealogy program. However, more than a few of those customers have replaced or would like to replace their Windows computer with a Macintosh system in order to gain better performance, better reliability, no issues with viruses, and easier operation. However, installing RootsMagic on a Macintosh system has always required software that creates a virtual computer inside the Mac (VirtualBox, Parallels, or VMware Fusion) or the dual-boot capability called BootCamp. Using any of the virtual computer products also results in a slower running system. Use of BootCamp is quite speedy but means the loss of using Macintosh programs simultaneously while using Windows programs. The dual boot option called BootCamp requires running either the Macintosh operating system or the Windows operating system, but not both at the same time.

With any of these solutions, a copy of Microsoft Windows has always been required, adding expense and complexity while introducing virus issues again.

The new MacBridge for RootsMagic is advertised as being much simpler to install and operate, and it does not require a copy of Microsoft Windows. Quoting from the announcement:

Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research to Offer Unique Opportunities in Genealogical Education

I am not yet familiar with this new organization but the announcement looks very interesting. The following was written by the folks at the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research:

RALEIGH, North Carolina, 9 September 2014. Professional genealogists Catherine W. Desmarais, CG, Michael Hait, CG, and Melanie D. Holtz, CG, are pleased to announce the formation of the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (VIGR). VIGR is a unique educational opportunity for genealogists of all skill levels.

The Institute will offer courses on a wide variety of genealogical subjects, providing “Vigorous” year-round education for the genealogical community using a virtual platform. Each course will consist of a total of four 90-minute lectures, two each presented on consecutive Saturdays, extensive syllabus material, and practical exercises. Limited class sizes of only one hundred registrants per course allows for a higher level of class participation and instructor feedback than typically offered by genealogy webinars.

Back To Our Past Presentations, Dublin, Ireland, 17-19 October 2014

The following announcement was written by the folks at Back To Our Past:

Brian Boru, Oliver Cromwell and Napoleon Bonaparte all feature in the titles of the Presentations at the 5th annual Back To Our Past [BTOP] event at the RDS, Dublin, on the weekend of 17-19 October 2014. As usual, over the three days of BTOP there will be two concurrent strands of free talks on a range of Irish heritage topics. Oral tradition, graveyards, school records and newspapers feature as sources, while there are several lectures on emigration. Online research, London record repositories and tracing ancestors in British India all feature.

2015 Legacy Genealogy Cruise

Genealogy cruises are a delightful way to relax, visit exotic ports of call, and to learn more about genealogy, all at the same time. Several companies produce such cruises. The Legacy Family Tree cruises have been popular for some years and the 2015 cruise looks to be equally good. The following was written by Dave, Ken, and Geoff of Legacy Family Tree:

The 2015 Legacy Genealogy Cruise – an annual event in its 12th year – is pleased to announce that Lisa Louise Cooke, producer and host of the popular Genealogy Gems Podcast (and popular webinar speaker at will be joining the event as its featured speaker. The genealogy cruise takes place beginning June 20, 2015 and visits the Western Caribbean on the luxurious Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Sea ship.

Was Jack the Ripper REALLY Identified through DNA? I Doubt It.

The news services are full of stories claiming that Jack the Ripper has finally been identified through “proof” provided by DNA. The story claims that Jack the Ripper was really Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew whose family had emigrated to London to escape pogroms in the 19th Century.

However, a closer look at the story raises serious questions about the “proof.” The claimed “proof” is questionable at best. It may even be outright fraud although I hope not.

Update: Your Cell Phone is Tracking You

Click on the image to view a larger version.

I posted an article yesterday about an invasion of your privacy created by the cell phone you carry. “Your Cell Phone is Tracking You” is available at Shortly after I posted the article, a newsletter reader using a pseudonym of “outsidethemarginals” posted a comment at the end of the article mentioning a recent BBC2 Horizon documentary on privacy, called Inside the Dark Web. It focuses not so much on cell phones but more about Internet eavesdropping by governments and also about Bitcoins, a new virtual currency that is untraceable.

A quick search shows that Inside the Dark Web is also available on YouTube at

I watched the program on YouTube and found it to be very revealing. It covers many privacy issues. It focuses on the U.K. but most of the insidious issues it describes are equally true in the U.S. and in many other countries. I strongly recommend the video to anyone concerned about privacy and is questioning who is spying on all of us.

MacBridge for RootsMagic 6: Run RootsMagic on Your Mac without Windows

The RootsMagic team has announced a major product announcement that will interest many Macintosh owners: A new, low-cost piece of software will allow Macintosh owners to run RootsMagic without installing a copy of Microsoft Windows. The following is a copy-and-paste from the RootsMagic Blog:

One of the most common questions we are asked is, “When will RootsMagic run on a Mac?” With today’s release of MacBridge for RootsMagic 6, the answer is “right now”. MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 allows you easily install and run RootsMagic on your Mac in mere minutes with almost no additional setup or configuration.

Norfolk Chapter of the Ontario Genealogical Society may Disband

The Norfolk chapter of the Ontario Genealogical Society will hold a critical meeting in Delhi Sept. 16 to discuss the future of the organization. A vote is planned on whether the chapter should fold or suspend operations.

Marie Shull of Simcoe, co-chair of the Norfolk chapter, says a number of factors have come together to call the group’s future into question. Membership, for one, has fallen from more than 200 world-wide several years ago to about 125 today. As well, only four individuals serve on the local executive. They have been there for years and discharge multiple responsibilities. Volunteer fatigue has become an issue.


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