Posts By Dick Eastman

2015 Who Do You Think You Are? Live! Keynote Workshop Speaker Revealed

The annual Who Do You Think You Are? Live! conference is the largest genealogy conference in the world. This year, for the first time, it is being held in Birmingham, England. It will be held 16 to 18 April, 2015. The conference organizers have just announced the name of the Keynote Workshop speaker. If I may engage in a bit of shameless self promotion, I am honored to say that the speaker will be… me!

You can read the announcement on the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! web site at

You can learn more about this year’s conference at

Will I see you in Birmingham?

Restaurant Builds Over Graveyard, Leaves Tombs next to Tables

The New Lucky Restaurant in Ahmedabad, India has a rather strange decor. In fact, it is a very creepy, very weird eating experience. The restaurant isn’t only built on top of an old graveyard, the graves are actually in the building.

The restaurant started as a small tea stand just outside the cemetery. Little by little, the walls of the tea house were expanded until they completely enveloped the graveyard. The tombstones are still in place inside the restaurant. Patrons have to walk past tombstones to reach their tables.

This Newsletter is Nineteen Years Old!

I’m opening a bottle of champagne this week to celebrate. It is a great time of celebration. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever dream that 19 years would be so interesting, so much fun, and so rewarding.

Nineteen years has slipped by in almost the blink of an eye. It seems like only yesterday that I sent the first e-mail newsletter to about 100 people, mostly members of CompuServe’s Genealogy Forums. None of them knew in advance that the newsletter would arrive; I simply mailed it to people who I thought might be interested. In 1996 nobody objected to receiving unsolicited bulk mail; the phrase “spam mail” had not yet been invented. I shudder to think if I did the same thing in today’s Internet environment.

Here is a quote from that first newsletter published on January 15, 1996:

Book Review: Searching for Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Searching for Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers by Claudia C. Breland. Published by Genealogy and Online Research, Gig Harbor, WA. 2014. Print and E-book. 286 pages.

Searching for Your Ancestors is available as a print edition or as an e-book. The e-book version is definitely the best-buy here, because, besides costing about half as much as the print, once you download and install Searching for Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers, when you open it up, you’re going to be out on the web very quickly and very likely finding some great new stuff.

Especially if you’re a beginner, or if you just haven’t taken the time yet to delve into newspapers, this is an excellent book. You’re likely going to find some exciting material within the first few minutes of searching (because you’re in too big a hurry to read the introduction first), but when your excitement dies down, then scroll up and read through the background material, which is a must. You just can’t remember it all, and even the experienced genealogist needs to be reminded of all the wonderful tidbits found in the newspapers.

Genealogy Roadshow, Season 2, Episode 1

Genealogy Roadshow kicked off its second season this evening (Tuesday) with hosts Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco and sponsored by The show features participants with unique claims and family stories handed down over the years that may or may not be true. In all cases, the participants are seeking clarifications or more information. This week’s show had a mix of both.

The episode was videotaped at the Cabildo, the former seat of colonial government in New Orleans, Louisiana, and now a museum. It was the perfect setting for a program featuring history and genealogy in and around New Orleans. All the participants were local residents.

Why Your Ancestors May Have Received “40 Acres And A Mule”

As the Civil War was winding down 150 years ago, Union leaders gathered a group of black ministers in Savannah, Ga. The goal was to help the thousands of newly freed slaves. From that meeting came Gen. William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order 15. It set aside land along the Southeast coast so that “each family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable ground.” That plan later became known by a signature phrase: “40 acres and a mule.”

You can read about this interesting story, and its sad ending, in an article by Sarah McCammon in the NPR web site at

23andMe Teams With Big Pharma to Find Treatments Hidden in Our DNA

23andMe is a company well-known to genealogists for its DNA services. On Monday, the company announced it is sharing (anonymously) the DNA data it has collected on 650,000 individuals with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. Sharing resources, the companies say, will help them figure out new ways to treat disease and to design clinical trials. About 800,000 customers have signed up for 23andMe’s services over seven years, with two-thirds of them giving consent to let their personal test data be used in research.

(+) An Easy Way to Turn a Dropbox Folder into a Personal Website

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

Would you like to publish your personal genealogy information online? You can find dozens of methods for doing that although some of the methods are rather complex. One product simplifies the process. Using this product, you can place your information into a Dropbox folder on your own computer, and it will become a web site visible to everyone on the World Wide Web or you can limit it to only those who have a password to access the site.

The old-fashioned method of creating web sites required a knowledge of HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the standard markup language used to create Web pages. Creating HTML web pages requires study, and the creation of the web pages is tedious. However, many of today’s genealogy programs will create HTML pages for you automatically, using the information stored within your genealogy database. Such programs include RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Family Tree Maker, GRAMPS, Reunion, The Master Genealogist, Second Site, and others. The process of creating HTML web pages with any of these products is quick and easy, and it doesn’t require any special knowledge of HTML.

$1,000 Reward Offered for an Historic Photograph – If It Exists

Shawn Adamsson is looking for a photograph taken between 1887 and 1899 of the 19th-century London, Ontario, railway turntable building with locomotives in the shot. Can you help?

Looking for Descendants of UK Soldiers who Fought in the Battle of Waterloo

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are estimated to have relatives who fought in June 1815. The campaign is one of several events planned to commemorate a turning point in European history. The group Waterloo 200, which is running the events, said such research had not been attempted before.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG, Appointed Editor of NGS Magazine

The following announcement was written by the folks at the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

Arlington, VA, 12 January 2015: The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has appointed Darcie Hind Posz, CGSM as the new managing editor of NGS Magazine. Darcie joins NGS Magazine to continue NGS’s goal of sharing genealogical expertise from leaders in the field through articles, stories, instruction, and news in its quarterly magazine. As editor, Darcie will build upon the work of Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens, CG who recently retired as editor after ten years of distinguished service.

(+) Online Payment Processing for the Small Society

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

Would your genealogy or historical society like to accept payments on the web? Possible uses are to accept membership dues, to sell books or other materials, accept donations, or to accept registration fees for seminars and other events. Online payment processing may sound “high-tech” and complicated, but even the smallest nonprofit can easily implement procedures to receive payments through its website.

Online credit card payments are the most accepted method of payment these days. Years ago, many people were afraid to use credit cards online. However, those fears are long gone as millions of online credit card payments are now made every day. The number of lost or fraudulent online charges is now lower than that of old-fashioned “face-to-face” credit card payments in stores, gas stations, restaurants, and elsewhere. As a result, online use of credit cards is now safer than using credit cards in stores. In addition, all online payments made by VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover Card are now fully insured against fraud and errors, both online and offline, so purchasers will never lose a dime even in the worst situation imaginable. Once upon a time, debit cards were not protected but that has now changed. The protection now covers both debit cards and credit cards.

How To Preserve Old Photos Without Losing Your Mind

Chris Cummins is a professional photographer who writes a personal blog about photo preservation and a number of other topics as well. He recently published How To Preserve Old Photos Without Losing Your Mind that focuses on simplifying the overwhelming process of turning old family photos into an organized, safe and searchable digital archive with tips for how to preserve the film and paper originals.

The article covers a lot of topics, including:

20 Do’s and Don’ts of DNA

Melvin J. Collier has published an article in his Roots Revealed genealogy blog that I would suggest should be required reading for all genealogists interested in DNA. For instance, Rule #1 says, “Please do not take any DNA test without first trying to put together your family tree. DNA test-takers need to have started working on their family tree or pedigree chart before jumping to DNA. DNA alone will not magically generate your family tree for you.”

You can read that and 19 more rules at

Use a Book Stand as an Effective and Cheap Holder for a Tablet Computer or eReader

I love digital ebooks. I rarely purchase books printed on paper any more. I carry more than 150 books with me when I travel. (Try doing that with paperbacks!) My books are all stored in my tablet computer. I also watch television programs when at home on the same tablet. Sometimes I watch sporting events or news broadcasts when seated on the front porch or watch late night television when lying in bed.

There is but one problem: I find it difficult to hold the tablet computer in my hands for an extended period of time. I get tired of holding it. Luckily, I found a cheap and effective solution: a book stand.

Major Changes to the Genealogy Department at Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library

The Columbus Metropolitan Library is a major resource for genealogists and attracts many visitors to its Genealogy and Local History department. However, if you are planning to visit the library after February 1, you need to change your plans.

Amy Johnson Crow writes in her blog, “The Genealogy and Local History department is going to be closed starting February 1 until sometime in April when they will reopen in a temporary facility in Whitehall (about 15-20 minutes east of downtown). Materials in the temporary facility will be limited.

Reminder: PBS’ “Genealogy Roadshow” Opens Its Second Season on Tuesday

The “Genealogy Roadshow” television series will start at 8 p.m. Eastern time/7 p.m Central on Tuesday, Jan. 13, on most local PBS stations.

Quoting the show’s web page at

Genealogy Roadshow stars genealogists Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco and features participants with unique claims and storylines, including a woman seeking to find out if she is descended from the infamous pirate Blackbeard; a pair of sisters exploring connections to a survivor of the legendary Donner party; a man hoping to recover essential family history that washed away in Hurricane Katrina; and a man learns that the event that drove his family to the City of Brotherly Love changed the course of history.

Van Buren County, Tennessee Offices Destroyed by Fire, Birth, Marriage, Death, and Many Other Records Lost

It is a sad day for genealogists as another burnt courthouse is added to the list of records lost. Van Buren County, Tennessee, officials are scrambling after a huge fire destroyed the county administrative building in Spencer on Wednesday night. Historical records from the 1840s and later were destroyed, including Civil War artifacts, pictures from the Civil War, birth certificates, death certificates, and thousands of historical records. The local historical society also was housed in the building and lost everything as well.

“It’s a total loss,” said Van Buren County 911 director David Chandler. “We were able to salvage a couple old books and a few other items from the trustee’s office, but that was about it.” The fire was believed to have started in the historical society and then spread throughout the building.

One bit of good news: Mayor Wilson told news reporters county records are backed up on hard drives in different locations across the county in the event of situations just like this. That’s good news for keeping the county’s business affairs operational but I was unable to find any mention if older, historical records are backed up in a similar manner. Hopefully, the older records also are backed up as well.

2015 FGS Conference Early Registration Discount Ends January 23

The following announcement was written by the Federation of Genealogical Societies:

January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015 – Austin, TX. The early registration discount for the 2015 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference ends January 23. Early registrants pay $159 for the full four days. The online registration price increases to $189 after January 23. The cost to add-on RootsTech remains $39. Register now to pay the lowest registration price.

The FGS 2015 conference will be held February 11–14, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah in conjunction with RootsTech. Visit to learn how those two conferences will operate while sharing the Salt Palace Convention Center and to find out about sessions, speakers, luncheons, and special events. If you have already registered, log in to your account at to purchase luncheon tickets.

Ooma is now Available at the Lowest Price Ever

Note: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy articles, I suggest you skip this one. However, this article reflects one of my other interests: telecommunications, especially low cost or no cost telephone service. Then again, genealogists do make many phone calls in pursuit of relatives and information. If you are interested in reducing your present telephone expenses, you may be interested in this article.

I fired the local telephone company years ago. I replaced the old-fashioned telephone service with a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone that connects to the Internet router in my home. There are no telephone lines connected to my house. The VoIP system works well, providing crystal-clear voice calls and also works perfectly with security alarms, FAX machines, and more.

Over the years, I have experimented with a number of different VoIP services. Back in the “old days” when VoIP was new, making phone calls meant leaving your computer powered up and online 24 hours a day and wearing headphones when you wanted to talk on the phone. Thankfully, those days are over. Almost all of today’s VoIP providers use normal telephones, such as those you purchase at the local computer store or department store.


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