Amazon Kindle Textbook Creator

A new product from Amazon to create Kindle ebooks has the word “Textbook” in its name but it appears to work for all sorts of books. Of course, I am thinking about genealogy books. The new software appears to be an extension to the already-available Kindle Direct Publishing application.

Kindle Textbook Creator even makes it easy to transform PDFs into an e-book format. I haven’t used the product yet but hope to do so soon. I noticed that Amazon claims its Textbook Creator offers a simple way to organize an array of educational materials — graphs, equations, charts or anything else you might find in a textbook.

Best of all, Kindle Textbook Creator is available free of charge for Windows and Macintosh. The books can be read on all sorts of devices, including Amazon’s Kindles, of course, as well as iPads, iPhones or Android devices.

A Successful Library Without Physical Books

I have published several articles in the past two or three years about ebooks versus traditional printed books. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, as discussed by newsletter readers in the comments to the articles. Today, I noticed an article in the Mother Nature Network that says San Antonio’s newest public library is missing something: books.

It seems that BiblioTech, a project of the San Antonio, Texas, Public Library, opened in September 2013 with the goal of providing books and other library information in low-income areas where the city could not justify the financial investment required to build a traditional library. BiblioTech houses no physical books. However, it has 48 iMac computers for visitors to use, and members can check out an e-reader for two weeks and read from a selection of 25,000 titles. More than 103,000 patrons visited BiblioTech in its first year of operation.

The digital-only library was built, stocked and staffed for $2.2 million. In contrast, about an hour away in Austin, the Texas capital’s new downtown library has a budget of more than $100 million.

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.

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.

The Cost Justification for eBooks

A local news story interested me and applies directly to past articles and comments in this newsletter. I have written often about the exploding growth of ebooks in place of printed books. Part of the justification for moving to electronic media is to save money. I recently found that I am not the only one who thinks ebooks are cost-justified.

A private school in Florida has switched from printed books to eBooks on iPads for several reasons. One major reason is to save money. At the beginning of the 2012/2013 school year, each student was given an Apple iPad. Most all textbooks needed by the student are downloaded and stored on the iPad.

When I have written about the use of eBooks in the past, a number of newsletter readers have questioned the economics. Comments have been posted that questioned the ability of poorer families to afford the expense. The recent news story seems to answer those questions.

Black Loyalists: Southern Settlers of Nova Scotia’s First Free Black Communities

Black Loyalists: Southern Settlers of Nova Scotia’s First Free Black Communities, by Ruth Holmes Whitehead, traces the history of Nova Scotia’s people of African descent, from the time they were captured in Africa by slave traders, transported and sold as slaves to wealthy landowners in South Carolina and Georgia, and finally resettled as free Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia.

The book describes a strange paradox: many Whites in what is now the United States fought AGAINST the British in rebellion to reject the oppression of a king while blacks from the southern colonies fought FOR the same king in an effort to gain their own freedom from oppression.

When the war ended, American forces under George Washington demanded the restoration of property, including slaves, and it fell to individual British commanders to interpret orders and make decisions on whether or not to honor early promises. Some Black Loyalists were abandoned, but for those who made it Nova Scotia, there were still many challenges to face: home-building, earning a living, and coping with often hostile attitudes from local communities.

Book Review: Remember Now Thy Creator. Scottish Girls’ Samplers, 1700-1872.

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Remember Now Thy Creator. Scottish Girls’ Samplers, 1700-1872.
By Naomi E A Tarrant. Published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 2014. 227 pages.

This is a beautiful book.

If you are of Scottish ancestry, and you appreciate the culture of homemade samplers done by young girls learning their needle skills, this edition of Scottish Girls’ Samplers published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland will absolutely delight you.

Historically, professional embroiderers, not just women but in many parts of the world men, needed to create small practice pieces as they learned their craft, especially when expensive cloth and threads were used in the commissions of their work. These were the origins of samplers, rich embroidery pieces that exist from the sixteenth century and earlier among European, South American, and Egyptian traditions.

More than 80,000 Digitized Genealogy and Family History Publications are Now Available Online

One of the greatest genealogy resources available today is the huge collection of digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world. When I travel to various genealogy conferences and societies, I am often amazed at how many genealogists are unaware of these free resources. Not only are the books and other publications available free of charge, you don’t even have to pay for gas to visit these libraries!

These digital books are available at:

Fill Your New Kindle, iPad, iPhone, eReader with Free eBooks, Movies, Audio Books, Online Courses & More

I get to play Santa within my family and someone on my “Nice List” received a new iPad this Christmas. I also sent her a link to an article entitled, Fill Your New Kindle, iPad, iPhone, eReader with Free eBooks, Movies, Audio Books, Online Courses & More. I decided to share the same link with others in this newsletter as this is a bit of a follow-up to an article I published last week entitled, Give a Christmas Gift: Access to Half a Million eBooks.

The Fill Your New Kindle, iPad, iPhone, eReader with Free eBooks, Movies, Audio Books, Online Courses & More article by Dan Colman explains, “Santa left a new Kindle, iPad, Kindle Fire or other media player under your tree. He did his job. Now we’ll do ours. We’ll tell you how to fill those devices with free intelligent media — great books, movies, courses, and all of the rest. And if you didn’t get a new gadget, fear not. You can access all of these materials on the good old fashioned computer. ”

You can read Dan Colman’s article in the Open Culture web site at

1890 Census Records for Waterville, Maine, gets Reprinted as a New 284-page Book

Most experienced U.S. genealogists know that the 1890 U.S. census was destroyed in a fire, right? Well, not entirely. Probably 99% of the census was destroyed by mold and mildew that occurred after the fire. However, a few fragments still exist and one small set of such records have now been published.

If you had ancestors or other relatives living in Waterville, Maine, in 1890, you will want to read an article by Roxanne Saucier in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News at

Unfortunately, my great-grandparents were living only a few miles northeast of Waterville in 1890. Darn!

Give a Christmas Gift: Access to Half a Million eBooks

This article is not about genealogy although I do know that many genealogists are also avid readers. I assume their friends and relatives also may include people who love to read books. If you are late in buying a holiday gift for such a person, read on. You can give the gift of a half million books. Even better, there is no need to brave the crowds at a local shopping mall to purchase this gift.

Oyster is a leading streaming service for books. In fact, it operates like a lending library. An Oyster member can electronically “check out” a book and read it on an Apple iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch as well as on any Android device or a Nook HD or a Kindle Fire. The Oyster member can also read ebooks in a web browser on any Windows, Macintosh, Linux, or mobile computer. An Internet connection is required for reading books in a web browser. However, Apple mobile devices, Android devices, Nook HD, or Kindle Fire devices can download ebooks, save them, and the Oyster subscriber can read the books later at any location, such as when riding the commuter train or at the beach.

Book Review: Alex Haley’s Roots An Author’s Odyssey

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey
by Adam Henig. Self published. 2014. 110 pages.

This is a brief biography of Alex Haley.

Sixty pages are devoted to Mr. Haley’s success as a writer for Reader’s Digest, Playboy magazine, co-author of the Autobiography of Malcolm X, and very significantly, Roots, the book and the miniseries, whose impact was seminal on the renaissance of interest in family history. And not to pass unnoticed, Roots‘ unflinching saga of slavery brought home the incalculable tragedy of human bondage.

Mr. Henig focusses on events after the triumph of Roots. Haley’s difficulties with the press, the accusations of plagiarism, and the challenges of flaws in his genealogy, were all factors that contributed to Haley’s troublesome last years of life. Mr. Henig references the events through newspaper accounts, interviews with those who knew Haley, and Haley’s papers.

Using WorldCat to Find Genealogy Books

WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services. It is an online library catalog that lets you look up items in libraries around the world. The items available include books, electronic documents, journals, microform, and audio and video recordings.

Best of all, WorldCat is available to everyone free of charge. WorldCat libraries provide access to their catalogs on the Web, where most people start their search for information. By using the catalog, you can search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world.

Book Review: Silent Legacy

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Silent Legacy
by Diana Church. Self-published. 2014. 298 pages.

Silent Legacy opens with the discovery of a recently deceased, spinsterish eighty-five-year woman who lived and died alone, leaving behind a box of genealogy papers, an 1888 journal, old photos, a 1902 death certificate, and her last will and testament. The will bequests a considerably large amount of monies to a local heritage association, pursuant to the investigation and resolution. A last will and testament is deemed valid. The requirements, before disbursing a considerable amount of money to a heritage association, are to identify why her brother was confined to the Mercy Hospital for the Insane as the Bureau of Indian Affairs took away his land, and to identify the family history of her parents to determine why her mother insisted Helen and her brother never marry. Once the questions are answered, the estate will disburse the remaining amount of monies, to the San Francisco Heritage Association. Ellen O’Donnell is hired to solve the mysteries.

Book Review: The Lost Ancestor

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Click on the above image to view a larger version

The Lost Ancestor.
By Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Published by the author. 2014.

The book is subtitled “A Genealogical Crime Mystery” and we see that this is another Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist, story.

Mr. Goodwin has published one previous novel called Hiding The Past, where he introduces Farrier, the investigative genealogist. This is the second volume in the series, and perhaps Mr. Goodwin is cluing us in that an entire set may be in the works.

In the gardened British countryside, Farrier is called to the home of Ray Mercer, where he asks Farrier to take on the mystery of the 1911 disappearance of his great aunt, Mary Mercer. Farrier agrees, and so begins the story, tracking Farrier’s progress, discoveries, search, and revelations. And the unexpected circumstance of being spied upon himself. Farrier becomes the target of unknown persons more interested in stopping his work than letting the mystery unfold.

Book Review: Starr Roll 1894 (Cherokee Payment Rolls)

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Click on the above image to view a larger version

Starr Roll 1894 (Cherokee Payment Rolls). Three volumes.
Transcribed by Jeff Bowen. Published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore. 2014.

The Starr Roll contains the names of the recipients of the payout by the federal government to Indian members of the Cherokee Tribe who had ceded their rights to access to the lands of the Cherokee Outlet (Indian Territory, now Oklahoma) to the federal government. On March 3, 1893 Congress enacted legislation authorizing payment to eligible Cherokee tribe members of $265.70 per capita. In exchange, the Outlet was opened to white settlers. On May 3, 1894, the Act of the National Council affirmed the agreement.

Adoption Factbook, Polish Roots, and Welsh Names Among New Books from

The following announcement was written by the folks at Genealogical Publishing Company: is the leading publisher of genealogy books in the U.S. Our award-winning titles include hundreds of how-to books and manuals, and more than a thousand collections of source records. Our newest titles cover Adoption and Donor Conception, Polish roots, and Welsh naming practices.

Polish Roots. 2nd Edition, by Rosemary Chorzempa
Since the publication of the original Polish Roots in 1993, the Internet has made the task of locating Polish ancestors much easier, as more information and images are made available online. There has also been a marked rise in interest in genealogy in Poland, resulting in a great increase in the number of Polish genealogical societies and the amount of helpful information disseminated. The second edition of Polish Roots addresses these developments, with a new Introduction, brand-new chapters, several new maps and charts, and more.

Kindle Unlimited: Obtain Unlimited Access to over 700,000 eBooks for only $9.99 a Month

One of the best bargains I know is almost unknown. Amazon offers Kindle Unlimited, a service that allows you to read as much as you want, choosing from over 700,000 titles and even from thousands of audiobooks.

Not all Kindle books are available on Kindle Unlimited but I suspect most people will find plenty to keep them busy for a long, long time. You don’t need to own a Kindle device to enjoy Kindle Unlimited. With the free Kindle reading apps for the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Windows, and Macintosh OS X, you can read ebook or listen to an audio book on any device with the free Kindle app installed. Of course, you can always read or listen to the books on your Kindle.

For many people, $9.99 a month is probably cheaper than purchasing the gas required to visit your local library several times a month to check out “free” books.

Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships, and Measure Ethnic Ancestry through DNA Testing

Richard Hill has released version 2 of his Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships, and Measure Ethnic Ancestry through DNA Testing. The ebook is available as a Kindle book. It sells for the modest price of 99 cents (U.S.)

The Guide is a brief overview designed to help people (1) see the benefits of genetic genealogy and (2) take the right tests for their needs. By offering this to the huge Amazon audience, Richard hopes to get many more genealogists to take the leading tests. As these databases grow, we will all get more and better matches.

As described on Amazon:

Get the 2014-15 Texas Almanac eBook — FREE!

The Texas State Historical Association is making a valuable reference book available free of charge to everyone. It is a useful guide for anyone researching Texas ancestry as well as for many other purposes as well. It has long been considered “the go-to guide for all things Texas.”

The Texas Almanac is a 752-page guide to everything you ever wanted to know about the Lone Star State. It is packed with hundreds of articles, color photographs, maps, and data tables, making it the premier reference guide for everything Texan. This digital version is optimized for your iPad, Kindle, or eReader device.


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