Elizabeth Petty Bentley is well known as the author of the Genealogist's Address Book. This frequently-updated book has been available for years and has become the standard "Yellow Pages" listing of genealogy societies; national, state, and county courthouses and archives; land and probate offices; all sorts of museums; lineage societies; adoption registries; computer interest groups; newspaper columns; newsletters; booksellers; and much, much more. In fact, the author suggests that the latest edition might be properly called, "The Genealogist's and Historian's Address Book," because it now includes many more primarily historical resources, such as the New York State town and village historians and many museum libraries. The latest version of the Genealogist's Address Book now contains more than 28,000 listings worldwide, filling 15,269 pages.
The Genealogist's Address Book was published as a very large printed book for many years. However, each new edition became thicker and thicker, driving publication costs upward. The book now is available on CD-ROM at a much lower price although a paper-based version remains available (at a higher price) for libraries and others who are willing to pay the extra cost to have a printed volume on the shelf.
I have used earlier versions of this book many times in years past to find addresses or just to locate societies devoted to specific interests, such as Italian, French-Canadian, and other ethnic heritage groups. This week I tried the same thing with the brand-new version 5.3 and found that the CD-ROM edition is much easier to use than the paper version.
Classified by locations and searchable by every word, the Genealogist's Address Book contains the key sources of genealogical information, giving names, addresses, phone numbers, FAX numbers, e-mail addresses, web sites, contact persons, and the business hours of more than 28,000 libraries, archives, genealogical societies, historical societies, government agencies, vital records offices, professional bodies, religious organizations and archives, surname registries, research centers, special interest groups, periodicals, newspaper columns, publishers, booksellers, services, databases, and even more.
The Genealogist's Address Book now includes the information formerly in the County Courthouse Book, as well as many more primarily historical or preservationist listings. Unlike earlier editions, the latest book on CD-ROM also includes many Canadian and overseas addresses. The U.S. and Canadian resources are now arranged by locality, rather than by subject, for easier access, even though the entire file can be navigated and searched using Adobe Reader's on-screen features.
The CD-ROM version of the Genealogist's Address Book was created with Adobe Acrobat and works equally well on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux systems. Macintosh OS X ships with the necessary Adobe Reader software already installed. Windows users will have to download the software from Adobe if it is not already on their hard drive. (Many manufacturers of Windows computers do include Adobe Reader.) Once installed, the Adobe Reader software remains available for all PDF-format documents, including the Genealogist's Address Book.
NOTE: The required software supplied by Adobe used to be called Acrobat Reader. However, I noticed that the Adobe web site has now dropped that name. The latest version is simply called Adobe Reader. Whatever the name, you can obtain the free software from http://www.adobe.com.
Navigating the Genealogist's Address Book is simple. The electronic book appears to be one long list of 15,269 pages. Luckily, the file is organized into bookmarks that serve as the table of contents. Click on the bookmarks tab to view the list; click on it again to hide the bookmarks. Click on the plus sign to expand the contents of a particular section. Clicking on an item in the bookmark list will cause the first page of that section to appear on the screen. You can navigate the file using the page-down, scroll, or Go-to features. Consult Adobe's on-screen help file for further information.
I quickly found that I preferred to use Adobe's SEARCH capability to quickly find any text string. I clicked on SEARCH and entered: NEHGS, the abbreviation for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The first occurrence of those letters appeared on the screen within two or three seconds. Then I clicked on "Find Again" and the next occurrence of the abbreviation appeared less than a second later. I did this again and again to find the sixteen occurrences of that abbreviation in the book. What could be easier? In fact, this is much easier than trying to do the same thing in a printed book!
I was delighted to find that copying data from the Genealogist's Address Book into a user's word-processing program or a database program is easy to accomplish. To copy a page, you begin by highlighting the displayed page, using the Control-A keyboard shortcut (or click on "Edit" on the toolbar and then on "Select All" on the drop-down menu). Then type Control-C (or click on "Copy" in the "Edit" drop-down menu). Move to the spot where you want to insert (or "Paste") the data, and then type Control-V (or click on your program's equivalent of "Paste" in its "Edit" function). Obviously, copying sizeable chunks of the book and distributing it to others would be a violation of copyright, but author Bentley apparently trusts the readers.
If you have the "Write" version of Adobe, you can also insert personal notes, additions, and corrections directly onto the Adobe file.
I found it simple to print pages from this CD-ROM with one caveat: don't click on PRINT and then ignore the options. It seems that the default is to print all 15,269 pages! To be sure, if you accidentally click on OK without noticing the options, you can always stop the print job later. However, you might print quite a few pages before you find the proper menu options to cancel a print job. This is a trivial issue: after you click PRINT, make sure you select CURRENT PAGE to print just the one page you want. You can also print a range of pages, such as pages 888 through 891.
Best of all, you can now SUBSCRIBE to the Genealogist's Address Book. Purchase of the CD-ROM entitles you to four full versions of the database, sent to you via e-mail on a quarterly basis. For example, if you pay for the e-book any time in January, you will receive the current (January) version immediately, and the updated versions on or about the first of the month in April, July, and October, and if you pay for the e-book in February, you will receive the February, May, August, and November versions, and so forth (unless you request otherwise). That is still another advantage over a printed, multi-thousand-page book.
The Genealogist's Address Book is based on a written survey of thousands of organizations and institutions across the country and supplemented by information from printed and Internet sources. I cannot begin to describe the sorts of addresses to be found as it seems to have everything. Want to find the local state chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution? It is here. Want to find French-Canadian genealogy and heritage societies? You can find a couple dozen of them listed. Would you like to find the FAX number of the National Archives and Records Administration's Regional Library in Fort Worth, Texas? You can find that listed as well.
This is a massive amount of labor compressed into a single CD-ROM disk. I cannot imagine the labor that went into creating this reference. The postage bills alone must have been huge. I would hope that the author used e-mail whenever possible.
I like the conversion of this book to CD-ROM. First, a book containing thousands of pages is cost-prohibitive to print on paper. Very few of us can afford to purchase thick reference books of that size. Next, a CD-ROM disk is much easier to store than is a printed book of thousands of pages. Finally, it is actually faster to find information on this disk than in a printed book. To be sure, it does require a few seconds to locate and load the disk and then for the Adobe Reader software to load. However, after that, you can find all occurrences of a name within seconds, something that could be tedious and time-consuming in a printed book.
Elizabeth Petty Bentley is to be commended for producing this great new reference book. It should prove to be very popular in genealogy libraries and for in-home use alike. Now that it is cost-effective, I suspect that the Genealogist's Address Book on CD-ROM will appear in many private and public libraries alike.
The Genealogist's Address Book is available directly from author Elizabeth Petty Bentley. The CD-ROM version with the updates subscription sells for just $19.95 (U.S. dollars). For those who still need a printed edition, the (older) 5th Edition is available for $49.99 plus shipping. Both may be ordered online via PayPal's safe and secure online payment system.
For more information, or to order Elizabeth Petty Bentley's Genealogist's Address Book version 5.3, go to http://www.epbentley.com/genaddbk.html.