Posts By Dick Eastman

Rhode Island Proposal to Restrict Access to Vital Records

State Senators Pearson and Picard introduced a bill into the Rhode Island General Assembly yesterday to restrict access to the state’s vital records for 100 years after the event. However, there appears to be an exception for “members of legally incorporated genealogical societies in the conduct of their official duties as defined in regulations shall have any access to, or be permitted to, examine the original or any copy of the birth certificate or birth record, of any person in the custody of any registrar of vital records or of the state department of health.”

The 2016 Genealogy Cruise by Cruise Everything

If I may engage in a bit of shameless self-promotion, I will be one of the presenters on the second annual Genealogy Cruise to the sunny Caribbean aboard Celebrity’s Reflection, the newest ship in the fleet. I’d love to see you on board as well. If you are thinking of taking a cruise, or if you would like to do something “different” from the usual genealogy seminars and conferences, a cruise in the Caribbean with hosts Gary and Diana Smith, presenters Donna Moughty and myself, and accompanied by bunch of other genealogists might be exactly what you want.

In the ship’s private meeting rooms, there will be three days of Genealogy activities on this seven-day cruise. The featured speakers will be Dick Eastman, Donna Moughty, and Gary and Diana Smith, with each of these guest genealogists presenting on their specialties. Combined, these speakers have more than 150 years experience with both writing and teaching in the genealogy field.

“Finding Your Roots” on PBS Postponed

The “Finding Your Roots” television program hosted on PBS by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has been postponed after a controversy involving guest Ben Affleck.

In April, a leaked Sony Pictures email published on WikiLeaks revealed the “Gone Girl” actor had asked the show’s host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. not to mention the fact that his distant relative owned slaves. Gate apparently agreed. After a lot of publicity about the leaked email, Sony boss Michael Lynton issued a statement that the series’ producers chose to focus on other parts of Affleck’s family history, but the actor later admitted he urged producers to exclude the story because he was “embarrassed” by the revelation.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Receives $7.5 Million Increase in Funding

The 84th Texas Legislature has increased the appropriation of the State Library and Archives Commission by $7.6M for the 2016-2017 biennium. The new funding includes resources to launch the Texas Digital Archive to preserve and make available electronic archives of state government as well as $6M to offer Texans greater access to online information via the popular TexShare and TexQuest programs. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission also gained funds in the new state budget to address salary needs and to implement a new automated accounting and payroll system.

Historical Court Records and Passenger Lists from Victoria, Australia, to be Published Online for the First Time

The following announcement was written by the folks at

Leading family history website Findmypast has secured the rights to publish original petty session records and passenger lists from Victoria. In partnership with Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) and FamilySearch, the original images of these extensive collections will be scanned and transcribed for the first time.

Sydney, Australia, 25 June 2015, Never before microfilmed or indexed, the collection of Victoria’s Coastal Passenger Lists 1852-1924 will be brought online to later this year. Comprising both original images and transcripts of an estimated 118,000 records, these passenger lists provide a vivid snapshot of immigrants and travellers alike arriving in Victoria’s coastal ports.

Nunhead Cemetery Records Added to Deceased Online

Deceased Online has added a third of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries’ records to its website, Nunhead Cemetery, managed by the London Borough of Southwark, is one of the largest and most historic cemeteries in South London and around 1 million records for all 275,000 burials from 1840 to 2011 are immediately available.

Here is the announcement from Deceased Online:

Findmypast Community Edition Now Available to U.S. Libraries

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

  • Findmypast, a global leader in family history, announces the availability of a library edition within the United States
  • Provides access for libraries, archives, and other organizations to billions of records from England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States
  • Free, no obligation, 90-day trial available

Salt Lake City – June 25, 2015Findmypast, a global leader in family history, announced today the official release of their product for libraries and organizations in the United States. The Findmypast Library Edition gives library access to billions of records from Findmypast’s wide array of collections from the United States, Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, and other areas of the world. Collection highlights include:

(+) My Method of Filing Digital Images and Documents

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

NOTE: This is an update to an article I published last year. Questions about how to file digital pictures and documents arose recently in the comments section of this newsletter’s Plus Edition subscribers’ web site at When I looked at the earlier article, I found that it is now out of date. Some of the information has since changed. I updated the earlier article and decided to re-publish it again today.

Here is a copy of a message I received (slightly edited):

I’m a newcomer to genealogy and I’d like to know your suggested file naming convention for downloaded census images that pertain to more than one person. I’d like to settle on a format before my tree gets too big. I save the FamilySearch or Ancestry web page as a PDF for each person listed in the census record and a single image of the census. That way I have a “transcribed” reference for each person as well as the image. For example:

JOHNSON Daniel Joseph Family 1940 US Federal Census.jpg
JOHNSON Daniel Joseph (1940 US Federal Census).pdf
JOHNSON Ethel Blanche (1940 US Federal Census).pdf
JOHNSON Joseph Delone (1940 US Federal Census).pdf

Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

I did answer the reader in email but thought I would also share my answer here in case others might have the same questions.

U.S. National Archives Finds Same Malware That Stole Government Personnel Data

In the wake of the discovery of malware on the network of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the National Archives and Records Administration discovered three desktop computers that had been infected with the same remote access malware. The malware was detected by the National Archives’ own intrusion detection system after receiving signature data from the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report by NextGov.

Comment: I must say I am not surprised that the malware was found at NARA. In fact, I might have been more surprised if it was NOT found.

I wrote earlier about that malware on the Privacy Blog at and at

African-American Cultural and Genealogical Society of Illinois to Open New Home

The African American Cultural and Genealogical Society of Illinois Inc. will hold a grand reopening this weekend of the African American Cultural and Genealogical Society of Illinois Museum, now at 235 W. Eldorado St., Decatur, Illinois. A program is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday in Central United Methodist Church, with a ribbon-cutting at noon and tours of the facility from noon to 3 p.m.

What Your Town Looked Like on Penny Postcards

Years ago, postcards cost 1¢ to mail within the U.S. Postage was temporarily raised to 2¢ from 1917 to 1919 to cover the cost of World War I and the increase was rescinded after the War. In 1952, the required postage was raised to two cents and has slowly escalated ever since. Today, mailing a postcard cost 34¢. (Reference:

Over the years, many postcards were printed with view of a town or other area, then sold in stores within that town or area. Many of these postcards have been preserved and often provide an interesting glimpse of what life was like in “the good old days.” Possibly your ancestors saw these same views in person.

Heredis 2015 is Now Available for Windows and Macintosh

Almost two weeks ago, I published an article at entitled Heredis 2015 to be Available Later this Month. Today, the prediction came true. Heredis 2015, a powerful genealogy program for Windows and for Macintosh, was released today.

Heredis 2015 is a major upgrade. The program now includes a search module for online archives. With the 2015 release, everything needed for online genealogy research is now included in Heredis. The producers of Heredis say there now is no need for additional software to be installed or paid for to have all the tools necessary for your genealogy.

In addition, Heredis 2015 adds:

Who Do You Think You Are? (U.K. Version) Guest Celebrities Announced

The popular genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? returns to BBC One this summer for a 12th series, with ten new celebs announced to take part.

The celebrities in the new series will include:

(+) The Paperless Genealogist

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

Too many genealogists are addicted to paper. In this day and age, that’s sad. I have no statistics about the amount of paper, ink, and toner consumed by genealogists every year, but I am sure we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars purchasing printers, paper, and supplies. That’s a huge waste of money, in my opinion. I wonder how many filing cabinets and bookshelves are sold to genealogists. I will suggest there is a better way to store personal copies of genealogy records and related information.

The “paperless office” was an early prediction made in the June 30, 1975, issue of BusinessWeek. The article quoted George E. Pake, then head of Xerox Corp.’s Palo Alto (California) Research Center:

Buy a Refurbished Chromebook for $119.99

This has to be the best bargain of the week: an Acer 11.6″ Chromebook Laptop for only $119.99, including shipping, while supplies last. I am guessing these won’t last long.

I have written a number of times about Chromebook laptop computers. (See my previous articles by starting at and especially my Why Use a Chromebook? article at

Chromebooks are excellent low-cost laptop computers that are very easy to use. They boot up quickly, never gets viruses, and seem to be very reliable. I have owned a Chromebook for several years and use it often. A number of my friends also use Chromebooks, either for themselves or for their children. I also know a 90-year-old lady who uses a Chromebook frequently. All seem pleased with them. However, if you are looking for a laptop that is as powerful as your present Windows or Macintosh system, a Chromebook probably is not for you except possibly as a traveling system.

(+) Our Ancestors’ Dental Care

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

One has to wonder about dental care as practiced by our ancestors. Ready-made toothbrushes and toothpaste were not available until the mid- or even late-1800s. Prior to that, everyone had to make their own.

Throughout the Middle Ages, most people simply rubbed salt on their teeth.

Some people made up their own dentifrice and rubbed the resulting powder on their teeth with a small stick, called a “toothstick,” with a rag over one end. This was the forerunner of the toothbrush.

By the 1700s medical knowledge improved to the point that doctors began to understand the importance of proper dental care. Toothpaste, properly called dentifrice, was made at home. Here is one such recipe:

Historic Freedmen’s Bureau Records Released

This is a major announcement of new information posted online by a cooperative effort of five organizations. The following announcement was written by FamilySearch International, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro­-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), and the California African American Museum:

Event launches volunteer indexing effort of 4 million freed slave records

SALT LAKE CITY — FamilySearch International, the largest non-profit genealogy organization in the world, announced the digital release of 4 million Freedmen’s Bureau historical records and the launch of a nationwide volunteer indexing effort.

FamilySearch is working in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and the California African American Museum to make these records available and accessible by taking the raw records, extracting the information and indexing them to make them easily searchable online. Once indexed, finding an ancestor may be as easy as going to, entering a name and, with the touch of a button, discovering your family member.

How Homesteading Was Done in the 1800s

Did any of your ancestors take advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862? Did they settle on sparsely-populated land in one of the western states? If so, what were their lives like?

Kathy Belt has written an article that describes life for the homesteaders and asks the reader to think about what it would be like if any of us could be transported in time back to a homestead. She writes:

“If you truly want to live in the 1800s, be expected to have 18-20 children, all born at home, and have half of them die before the age of five because of dysentery, typhoid, scarlet fever or measles. Be prepared to get up with the sun and read by the light of your drafty fireplace. (Yes, the Franklin stove was invented in the late 1700s, but it weighed so much, most folks who went west didn’t take it with them. Of course, if you stayed in one of the “big” cities, you would have access to whale oil or kerosene for your lights.)

New Records Available to Search This Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

This Findmypast Friday marks the release of thousands of fascinating new Prisoner of War records containing the details of thousands of American’s captured during the War of 1812 in partnership with The National Archives. This week’s Findmypast Friday also marks the release of birth, marriage, burial and congregation records from a Scottish garrison church in Gibraltar, new Greater London Burial Index records and substantial updates to our collection of historic British newspapers.

Prisoners of War 1715-1945 Phase 2 – Napoleonic Wars

GEDitCOM II for Macintosh and for Mobile Devices

GEDitCOM II is an easy-to-use genealogy application for Macintosh OS X. It will store, display, and edit genealogy files. It will import any GEDCOM file created with a different genealogy program and then allow the user to edit the file and add more information, source citations, add multimedia (pictures, movies, audio files, maps), and more. The program will also create numerous charts and reports, including: Ancestor and descendant family tree charts, many types of text reports, charts with portraits in them, and a number of charts suitable for printing. It also will “read” your information about your data out loud, a nice feature for anyone with vision issues.

As if that is not enough, GEDitCOM II will also print complete genealogy book by using LaTeX, a publishing application that is popular amongst Macintosh users and will even create a complete web site as a collection of HTML files, suitable for uploading to a web hosting service of your choice. It will also email reports to any email address.


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