Book Review: A Page of History – Passport Applications 1851-1914

The following review of two books was written by Bobbi King:

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

A Page of History
Passport Applications 1851-1914; Passport Applications Volume II 1915-1925
by Phil Goldfarb
Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC

These two volumes of A Page of History are not exactly genealogy books, but rather, books of general historical interest. Of course, if your ancestor happens to be one of the famous people included in the books, then your interest is very personal. And someone writing a biography of any of the persons in the book could find additional material.

The first pages detail a short history of passport applications, a brief summary of passports in the United States and passport application forms, and types of passport applications.

FamilySearch Free Historic Book Collection Online Hits 200,000th Milestone

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

Imagine a free virtual online library of rare historic books from all over the world to help you discover rich, unknown details about the lives of your ancestors. What if the historic book collections held by significant public libraries and venerable societies were the sources of these contributed books? You’d have a dynamic, priceless online repository of some of the greatest hidden historic treasures predominantly unknown to man. International, and a growing host of partnering libraries and organizations and volunteers, have announced today that they’ve reached the milestone of publishing 200,000 historic volumes online for free at The growing online collection, which began in 2007, is invaluable to genealogists and family historians in finding their ancestors.

FamilySearch has mobile digitization pods at partnering libraries and organizations across the United States including Fort Wayne (Indiana), Syracuse (New York), Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Independence (Missouri), Houston (Texas), at the University of Florida, and in Salt Lake City (Utah). Digitization is also being done at strategic FamilySearch Centers in Pocatello (Idaho), Mesa (Arizona), Oakland, Orange and Sacramento (California), and in Utah at the West Valley and Ogden Centers. . Most of the digitized publications consists of compiled family histories and local and county histories. The collection also includes telephone and postal directories and other resources.

A 9th-century “Leechbook”

I have had a few medical problems during my life and have been treated by a number of doctors. I am glad I didn’t live during the 9th century!

“Bald’s Leechbook” is not a book about blood-sucking worms. It’s a medieval tome written in Anglo-Saxon, probably during the ninth century, which outlines the practices of English doctors (sometimes referred to as “leeches” at the time) concerning care and treatment of a variety of human maladies. The book can now be found in London’s British Library.

Book Review: MindMaps for Genealogy

The following book review was written by Dick Eastman:

MindMaps for Genealogy
by Ron Arons
71 ppg. Published by Criminal Research Press

I have read a lot of genealogy books over the years but MindMaps for Genealogy was not like any other book I have read before.

A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. The diagrams created by mind mapping techniques visually “map” information. Mind maps can be used as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.

In this book, author Ron Arons introduces the basic concepts of mind maps: what they are, how to create them, and how to use them for planning genealogical research. He also shows how mind maps can complement the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), considered to be a standard for determining and proving genealogy research results. Mind maps are particularly useful for helping solve “brick wall” problems that are common in genealogy research, including:

Google Books Reduces its Digitizing and Preservation of old Books while Internet Archive Increases its Efforts at the Same Thing

An article in The Message states that Google is reducing its efforts at digitizing old books. That certainly is a loss for genealogists, historians, and many others. In what appears to be an unrelated move, the Internet Archive is INCREASING its efforts at digitizing old books, adding 1,000 books to the online collection EACH DAY. Perhaps there is hope for genealogists after all.

In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour. Since then, the company has digitized millions of old books, creating a valuable archive. Google Books is still online, but has curtailed its scanning efforts in recent years, likely discouraged by a decade of legal wrangling still in appeal. The Google Books Blog stopped updating in 2012 and the Twitter account has been dormant since February 2013.

Scottish Highlanders in America Documented in New Series

Dr. David Dobson, noted author of books pertaining to Scottish origins of American colonists, has introduced a new series designed to identify the origins of Scottish Highlanders who traveled to America prior to the Great Highland Migration that began in the 1730s. His first volume lists groups of Highlanders from Argyll who headed for North Carolina and New York.

Book Review: BarbwireDigi’s Guide to Creating A Digital Genealogy Scrapbook

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

BarbwireDigi’s Guide to Creating A Digital Genealogy Scrapbook
By Barb Groth
89 ppg. Published by BarbwireDigi/Barb Groth

Word has it that there was an emphasis on storytelling at the FGS/RootsTech conference this year.

To assist the genealogist who is ready to publish, there is an abundance of “How-To” guidebooks out there on the market. I’d say it’s a good idea to determine exactly where you’re at in your abilities to publish, then buy a guidebook suited to your immediate needs.

Ms. Groth has published a guide for creating a digital scrapbook, specifically targeted for the users of Adobe Photoshop© Elements. This program is an excellent photo-editing software for many genealogists, most especially for beginners. It’s fairly easy to learn, and does an excellent job of preparing photos for viewing and publication, adequately meeting the needs of most of us. Besides removing red-eye and cropping photos, I use photo-editing software to enhance contrast and modify light values on fuzzy scanned documents for improved readability and clarity. And, most importantly, Elements is affordable.

NGS Publication Genealogy and the Law – Now Available on Kindle

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

Arlington, VA, 12 March 2015—Genealogy and the Law: A Guide to Legal Sources for the Family Historian by Kay Haviland Freilich, CGSM, CGLSM, FNGS and William B. Freilich, Esq., is now available as a Kindle eBook. First published by the National Genealogical Society (NGS) as a softcover book on 1 September 2014, Genealogy and the Law guides readers through the variety of legal sources that genealogists need to explain many of the events that occurred in their ancestors’ lives. Land ownership, estate administration, and taxation are a few of the many aspects of life that cannot be fully understood without knowledge of the law in effect at the time.

A Free Book in Google Books Lists Details of all Voters in New York City for 1919

I love Google Books! There are great finds there for genealogists and for many other interests as well. Newsletter reader Barbara Ulus sent information about her latest find, one that will interest any genealogist with ancestors living in New York City in 1919. Barbara writes:

“I’ve come across a free book on Google, which you may or may not know of, that lists the name, address and political party of all voters in the boroughs of NYC for 1919. Seems to list many more people than I found searching on the census. I guess people didn’t trust giving info to the census takers but most men wanted to vote as soon as they were able to.”

Book Review: The Ultimate Search Book. Worldwide Adoption, Genealogy, and Other Search Secrets.

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

The Ultimate Search Book.
Worldwide Adoption, Genealogy, and Other Search Secrets.
By Lori Carangelo. Published by Genealogical Publishing Co., 2011. 294 pages.

Lori Corangelo has been an adoption activist and involved with adoption research for many years. She founded Americans for Open Records (AmFOR), an organization for adoption-affected citizens. Their website at offers further explanations and resources involving adoption research.

The unique feature of Ultimate Search Book is its focus on adoption research. Typical first steps are described for genealogical research, but following chapters focus on the obstacles and techniques for performing adoptive research.

Book Review: Abstracts of the Debt Books of the Provincial Land Office of Maryland

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Abstracts of the Debt Books of the Provincial Land Office of Maryland.
By V.L. Skinner, Jr. Published by Genealogical Publishing Co. 2014. 365 pages.

Frederick County, Volume I. Calvert Papers, 1750.
Liber 22: 1753,1754,1755.

The Provincial Land Office of Maryland was responsible for the dispensing of land under its authority from 1634 to 1777. The Rent Rolls and the Debt Books were the means by which the Lord Proprietor kept track of the rents due him.

The Debt Book lists the names of persons who own land with the names and rents of each tract owned, all listed in one place under his or her name.

Book Review: Set Yourself Up to Self-Publish: A Genealogist’s Guide

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Set Yourself Up to Self-Publish: A Genealogist’s Guide.
by Dina Carson. Iron Gate Publishing, Niwot, Colo. 2014. 203 pages.

Desktop publishing has been the answer to the genealogists’ prayers. No more pre-requisite pre-orders of a boat-load of books from a vanity press in order to get a family history book into print. Even if you wanted only 25 copies, in the old days you had to order what the publisher demanded just to get a few books out.

Desktop publishing has freed us from the constraints of traditional book publishing.

But having it easy does not necessarily fashion a good book.

The Majority of Books Published Before 1964 Are Free of Copyrights

Over and over, genealogists have been told that the copyright has expired for all works published in the United States before 1923. In other words, if the work was published in the U.S. before January 1, 1923, anyone is free to republish excerpts or even the entire book without obtaining permission. That statement remains correct today. However, many genealogists are not aware that the overwhelming majority of all books published prior to 1964 are also free of copyright. That’s “the overwhelming majority of all books” but not all of them.

Between 1923 and 1964, a renewal registration was required to prevent the expiration of copyright. If a work was first published before January 1, 1964, the owner had to file a renewal with the Copyright Office during the 28th year after publication. No renewal meant a loss of copyright. In other words, for all books published prior to 1964, the copyrights expired before January 11, 1992 IF THE COPYRIGHT WAS NOT RENEWED. However, a 1961 report from the U.S. Copyright Office estimates that 85% of the books never had the copyrights renewed. (See, page 187.) Therefore, those books are now public domain.

Kindle Convert will Convert Paper Books to Kindle

Kindle Convert is a new application from Amazon that will convert scanned images of your personal printed books and documents into Kindle eBooks. Kindle books can be read on Kindles, of course, but also on free Kindle reading apps for iPad, iPhone, Android smartphones, and Android tablets. (See my earlier article at for details.) Once converted, your book can be uploaded and digitally preserved in your worry-free Amazon Cloud Drive.

Anyone using Kindle Convert can either elect to leave a scanned page as an image, or run the image through Amazon’s OCR software and convert it to text. If you stick with the image, you can crop the image, rotate it, center it on a page, and perform other basic image editing tricks. The text generated via OCR can be edited to remove errors, and styled.

Book Review: NextGen Genealogy, The DNA Connection

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

NextGen Genealogy, The DNA Connection
by David R. Dowell. Published by Libraries Unlimited, Santa Barbara. 2015. 175 pages.

DNA continues to be a hot topic of research and interest.

NextGen would be a good introductory book for you, if you need one.

Mr. Dowell begins with the general biological description of DNA, and goes on to describe genomes, mitochondrial DNA, chromosomes, and genes. He writes the material in logical sequence, in an understandable way, with illustrations representing the material.

There is a chapter devoted to “Who is the Father? ‘guY’ DNA” followed by a chapter on “Who is the Mother? ‘Umbilical’ mtDNA” in a writing style that is quirky enough to keep it interesting.

Announcement: New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer

The following announcement was written by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society:

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

NEW YORK, NY, February 2, 2015 — The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society announced the publication of the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, a comprehensive, first-ever, 856-page reference book.

“The book is absolutely unprecedented in its breadth and depth, covering records in the State of New York for all the major ethnic and religious groups that have lived here. As a reference for family historians, it is simply indispensable,” said Jeanne Sloane, the Society’s chairman.

This ambitious volume has been three years in the making. The review committee comprised top experts on New York research, including four former editors of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, the flagship journal for New York genealogy: Laura DeGrazia, CG, FGBS; Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS; Henry B. Hoff, CG, FASG, FGBS, current editor of the New England Historic Genealogical Register; and Harry Macy Jr., FASG, FGBS, the unofficial dean of New York genealogists, who served as the book’s consulting editor.

Book Review: North Carolina Genealogy Research

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

North Carolina Genealogy Research.
by Michael A. Ports. Genealogy At a Glance guide, published by Genealogical Publishing Co., 2014. Laminated, 4 pages.

North Carolina is one of the latest brochures in the Genealogy At a Glance series of short, concise guides meant to be portable, durable, lightweight, and quickly referenced. With some significant genealogical events coming up in Salt Lake City within the next few weeks, genealogists might consider this a useful guide to pick up at one of the conference vendors and take over to the Library.

Book Review: The Veterans Cemetery. Esquimalt, British Columbia. God’s Acre.

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

The Veterans Cemetery. Esquimalt, British Columbia. God’s Acre.
Compiled and edited by Harvey A. Buckmaster. Published by the Victoria Genealogical Society, Victoria, BC. Revised and updated 2014 Edition. 230 pages.

The Veteran’s Cemetery, known as God’s Acre, has been magnificently transcribed and re-published by the Victoria Genealogical Society, following a previously published volume in 2000.

The compilers have recorded marker transcriptions exactly as inscribed on the tombstones, with additional Notes added by the compilers to include additional genealogical information such as birth and death dates when available and not included on the markers.

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.


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