Plus Edition Article

(+) The 1890 U.S. Census: Not Everything Was Destroyed

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

Beginning U.S. genealogists soon learn that the 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building on January 10, 1921. Many people who would like to see these records just shrug their shoulders and move on.

A short search on the Web, however, soon reveals that not all of the records were destroyed. In fact, census fragments for 1890 in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and the District of Columbia survived and are available now.

(+) The Advantages of VoIP Telephones When Traveling

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

This article has almost nothing to do with genealogy. However, it reflects my recent experiences when traveling overseas and at home. I find it interesting and hope that a few others also may be interested in this method of saving money.

I have been on the road for nearly four weeks. I left Orlando, flew to London, traveled by train to Ashford, Kent and then spent several days at the annual conference of the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS). I had the honor of making two presentations at the conference. I can tell you they are a great organization! I stayed in Ashford for an extra day after the conference, then took the train back to London and became a tourist for a few days. I then flew to from London to Seattle and made presentations at a conference at the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society in Tacoma, Washington, another great group. Finally, I flew back to Orlando twelve days after I had left.

(+) Self-Publish Your Book and Sell it on Amazon and Elsewhere

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

Many genealogists dream of publishing books about the family tree or about local history. Some want to write a book of “my ancestors,” but it may be better to write, “The Descendants of (insert ancestor’s name here)” or the “Early History of Washington County” or some other area where you have expertise. Either way, you have three tasks ahead of you: write the book, get it published, and then find buyers. I can’t offer much assistance for writing the book, but in this article I will tell you about some online services that can make it easy to self-publish and sell your new masterpiece.

(+) Donald Sterling has a Personal Archivist, You Can do the Same

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

Donald Sterling, billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, has made headlines this week. I won’t describe his racist comments as many others have already done that. However, an item in one report caught my eye: Sterling has a personal archivist. I guess when you are a billionaire, you can hire someone to record every word you speak, everything you write, and everything you ever do, in order to preserve all words and actions for posterity. However, Sterling probably now regrets having someone record the words that created all the problems.

(+) Why You Need a Temporary Credit Card Number

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

One of the things I detest about many web sites is that when you sign up for a subscription and pay with a credit card, the site automatically renews your subscription when it expires. Some web sites will automatically renew without even the courtesy of notifying you in advance. They keep on billing, and you cannot easily shut down the offending vendor.

NOTE: Subscriptions to the Plus Edition of this newsletter DO NOT automatically renew. I consider that to be a shoddy business practice and I will not do that to my subscribers.

Of course, you could cancel the credit card itself, but that usually isn’t convenient.

(+) How to Find City Directories For Sale Online

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

Gaffney City Directory - 1958

Gaffney City Directory – 1958

Looking for a city directory from the 1800s or early 1900s? You may be able to purchase the city directory you wish for modest prices. I have seen reprinted city directories sell for as little as $2.00 while digital copies on CD-ROM frequently sell for about $5.00 or so. Even the original city directories printed in the 1800s sometimes sell for as little as $4.95 although $10 or $15 seems to be a more common price.

Best of all, if you don’t see what you want today, you can create an “automated search robot” that will check for you every day. If the robot finds an item that matches the search terms you specify, it will send you an email message to notify you of the latest addition. It will search for you even while you are sleeping, even if your computer is turned off.

(+) What Happens to your Online Accounts when You Die?

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

Genealogists are well aware of the disposition of wills, diaries, letters, and other personal items when a person dies. Indeed, the legal processes make sure that a person’s personal affairs are wrapped up properly. If a will exists, those same legal processes have always made sure the wishes of the deceased are considered and implemented as closely as possible. However, today’s new technologies add new challenges that are not yet covered by probate law and also not well documented for the family members of the deceased nor for the corporations that have possession of the deceased person’s digital assets.

Today, many people tend not to keep things on paper; instead, their most intimate thoughts are likely to be online – in emails, social media posts, and personal blogs. I count myself as one of those “online people,” and I suspect you may do the same. What happens to your Facebook pages, blog, online bank accounts, online stock brokerage accounts, or personal email correspondence after you pass away? How about your photos on Flickr, Snapfish, Shutterfly, Photobucket, or other photo sharing web sites?

Perhaps the most important questions are: “What happens to all these online accounts if you die abruptly? Will your information remain available to your heirs? Will your heirs be able to find this information, and will they know what to do with it?”

(+) Preserve Newspapers for Years!

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

Most all paper manufactured in the past one hundred years or more contains acids. If left untreated, these acids will slowly decompose the paper itself. Old newspaper clippings or any other documents not printed on acid-free paper will eventually disintegrate. Today’s newspapers usually contain more acids than other paper so newspapers are often the first to disintegrate. Luckily, modern science has created methods of slowing down or even stopping the decay of such paper.

(+) 7 Ways to Connect Long-Distance Family Members

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

Today’s lifestyles often mean that families are separated by hundreds of miles, if not thousands. Grandparents and grandchildren may live in different parts of the country or even different parts of the world. The U.S. Department of State estimates 6.3 million Americans live abroad, and more than 65 million travel overseas each year. Indeed, many people travel frequently for business or pleasure, resulting in them being separated for days at a time from family members. Yet today’s technology allows distant parents and grandparents to read their children or grandchildren bedtime stories, to draw with them, and to be with them—virtually.

For instance, I spend winters about 1,200 miles from my grandchildren, and yet I video conference with them frequently. Doing so is easy and free. Well, you do have to have an Internet connection and some hardware that you probably already own. I guess that it is not free technically but is available “at no extra charge,” using equipment that most of us already own. Add in a bit of free software and you, too, can be (virtually) with your loved ones daily.

(+) How to Read Any eBook with (Almost) Any eReader

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

Electronic books, usually referred to as ebooks, have mushroomed in popularity in recent years. A recent Pew study (at found that 28 percent of American adults read ebooks, up from 23 percent at the end of 2012. Another Pew study (at found that 46 percent of people now own a tablet or e-reader of some kind. About seven in ten American adults reported that they read a mix of printed books and ebooks. Only 4 percent of people reported to be “ebook only” readers.

(+) Microsoft launches Office for iPad

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

This is a follow-up to the Plus Edition article I wrote two days ago: (+) A New Generation of Office Suites to Replace Your Microsoft Bloat. It is available at In that article, I wrote, “Office for iPad is expected to be announced in just a few days. I cannot predict what the new Office for iPad suite of programs will contain; but, based on the history of other Microsoft products, I suspect there are several things we can expect: the new software will be…”

Indeed, Microsoft today did announce Office for iPad. It is about what I expected.

(+) A New Generation of Office Suites to Replace Your Microsoft Bloat

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

Microsoft Office consists of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Depending upon the version of Microsoft Office you purchase, it also might include OneNote, Outlook, Microsoft Publisher, or Skype. First launched in 1988, Microsoft Office has become the de facto word processing and office management software standard of the computer industry. Softpedia reported (at that Office is used by more than a billion people worldwide. As popular as the Microsoft Office suite has become, it still is not “the best” office suite of programs for everyone. In fact, Microsoft Office has some very good competitors.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Microsoft’s dominance isn’t pricing, however. I find that Microsoft Office is rapidly becoming obsolete.

(+) How to Reduce the Errors in Your Genealogy Database

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

This article describes a method of killing two birds with one stone.

The first question concerns corruption within your genealogy database. Is your data still good? Or have read errors or write errors managed to corrupt the database? When you make a backup, are you backing up a good database or are you simply making a (corrupted) copy of a corrupted database? Read my earlier article “Always Test Your Backups!” at for description of the problem. Pay close attention to comments from newsletter readers that were posted at the end of the article. The problem is real and has happened to quite a few genealogists.

The second question concerns the integrity of your database. Are you confident of the accuracy of your genealogy data? You might be amazed at how many databases I see that include mothers giving birth at the age of eight, marriages at age twelve, or deaths at the age of 135. Sometimes you even find a person with a birth date prior to those of his parents. Download almost any GEDCOM file from the Internet and I suspect you can find similar problems.

(+) Pedigree Collapse

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

All of us can determine the number of our ancestors by performing a very obvious mathematical progression: two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so forth. In the past twenty generations, you have a mathematical chance of having more than one million ancestors. Thirty generations produces more than a billion ancestors, and forty generations results in more than one trillion.

That is correct from a mathematical viewpoint but deliberately ignores one obvious fact: there have never been that many humans on the face of the earth since the dawn of evolution! The reality is that it is impossible to have one trillion unique ancestors, regardless of the mathematics involved.

(+) The Differences Between Simple File Storage Services and True Backup Services

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

A newsletter reader asked the following questions as a comment to an earlier article: “I don’t know Google Drive. Do you consider it primarily a ‘backup’ service or a ‘storage’ service? Can it be used for either? Does this persuade you to drop Dropbox for Google Drive or would you keep both?”

My answer cannot be condensed to one or two sentences. I decided to write this article which, hopefully, provides some in-depth information about the differences.

Google Drive is primarily a storage service.

Dropbox is primarily a file replication service. That is, its primary function is to AUTOMATICALLY copy files from one computer to another computer (or to multiple computers). Dropbox also stores copies of each file on Dropbox’s servers.

Neither Dropbox nor Google Drive are very good backup services. They do not backup everything.

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(+) Authors: Sell Your Books on Amazon

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

Did you write a book detailing your family’s history? Perhaps you wrote about the history of your town or perhaps a Civil War battle or almost any other topic. Another possibility is that your local genealogy society has extracted records from old documents and now wishes to publish them. Perhaps you self-published your book, had it printed, and now you have hundreds of copies stored in the basement. Indeed, one of the most difficult parts of self-publishing books is the marketing: how to advertise and sell the books. You may not know there is a powerful ally that would like to help: Amazon.

(+) Why You Want to Use a VPN

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


If you are concerned about anyone snooping on the Internet and seeing what you are doing online, you might consider installing a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a distant server to let you conduct your online activities (visit the websites you want, make online transactions, download files) anonymously, without being tracked and spied upon. VPN technology uses a combination of features such as encryption, tunneling protocols, data encapsulation, and certified connections to provide you with a secure connection to private networks and to protect your identity. Luckily, VPN products are available for Windows, Macintosh, iPhone/iPad, Android, and Chromebook systems. One product will even work with Xbox, VoIP telephones, and other devices that do not allow for installation of networking software.

(+) Hands On with a Wireless Flash Drive

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

A wireless flash drive? What’s that? Why would I want one?

Most computer owners are familiar with flash drives. These storage devices are usually about two or three inches long and have a USB connector on one end. When plugged into a USB port on a Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer, they appear to be equivalent to disk drives. The computer can read and write data to flash drives. However, unlike normal disk drives, there are no moving parts in flash drives. They are rugged, easily carried in a pocket or purse, and are great for saving and moving data from one computer to another. I use flash drives for several short-term backup purposes and also always take one to the library where I can copy data to the flash drive, take that data home, and then copy it to my home computer.

(+) Future Bookstores Will be the Size of Today’s Starbucks

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

I must admit that one thing I enjoy is going to a Barnes and Noble or any other large bookstore and wandering around for an hour or more. I browse the shelves for topics I am interested in. I usually find other books that I wasn’t interested in until I saw the book on the shelf. Sadly, I think such “browsing trips” will be a thing of the past before many more years pass.

(+) (Almost) Unlimited Cell Phone Minutes for only $10 per Month

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

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, one of my personal interests has always been saving money. Last year, I found a cell phone bargain that was almost too good to be true, so I decided to try it. I wrote about my experiences at the time. Now I have switched to a new service from the same company at roughly half the price. I decided it is time to update the old article.

Telephone calls have become ridiculously cheap in recent years but cell phone calls (in the U.S.) remain at astronomical prices. One company is changing all that and I have now been using their low-cost service for more than a year.


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