Genealogy Basics

Calendars Explained

What could be simpler than a calendar? The printed one from the local real estate office shows twelve months, each with 28 to 31 days. Simple, right?

Well, it hasn’t always been so simple. After all, I keep stumbling upon genealogy records that are logged with “double dates.” That is, a birth record might state “22 February 1732/3.” Which was it: 1732 or 1733? Well, it actually was both. Just to make things more complex, back in those days, most of our ancestors didn’t know what day it was. You see, most people in the early 1700s and earlier were illiterate. They couldn’t read a book, much less a calendar. Most people did not know what day it was or even how old they were. Very few remembered their own birthdays.

Throughout history, learned men kept track of the days, months, and years in a variety of ways. The ancient Egyptians began numbering their years when the star Sirius rose at the same place as the Sun. The Egyptian calendar was the first solar calendar and contained 365 days. These were divided into twelve 30-day months and five days of religious festival.

Researching Slave Trader Ancestors

The web site of the University of Irvine, California (UCI) has an article about Stella Cardoza, an alumnus of the University, who successfully traced her ancestry back to 17th-century Spain and was able to identify her eighth great-grandfather, Juan Enríquez de Aponte. She did so by a combination of old-fashioned genealogy research and a lucky find on the Slave Voyages website which houses databases documenting almost four centuries of the slave trade from Africa to the Americas and within the New World.

What Good is an Armenian Genealogy Conference?

If you have Armenian ancestry, you really should read an article in the Asbarez.com web site at: https://tinyurl.com/eogn191011a.

10 Historical Figures Who Had Incestuous Marriages

And now for something completely different. How would you like to map out the pedigrees and descendants of these people?

  1. H. G. Wells
  2. Claudius
  3. Albert Einstein
  4. Cleopatra
  5. Edgar Allen Poe
  6. James Watt
  7. Atahualpa -the last Inca Emperor who married his sister
  8. Emperor Suinin – the 11th Emperor of Japan who had two chief wives (empress), one of whom was his first cousin. He also had six consorts and he fathered 17 children.
  9. Charles Darwin
  10. Philip II of Spain

You can watch a YouTube video hosted by Simon Whistler at: https://youtu.be/xFMmJMlyqnY.

Some North Americans Claim a False Indigenous Identity

Darryl R J Leroux

Darryl R. J. Leroux is an Associate Professor, Department of Social Justice and Community Studies, at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He obviously is also an expert genealogist and historian. He recently published an article concerning the claims of indigenous ancestry in eastern Canada in the 1600s as made by thousands of today’s genealogists. He points out that many of these claims simply are not true and he backs up his claims with solid research.

The article is a brief summary of Leroux’s book, Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity. Leroux described his 12 years of research, including reading thousands of messages on various online genealogy forums. One of his most surprising findings was how numerous French women were transformed into Indigenous women on different forums in both French and English. This practice is called aspirational descent. It involves changing an ancestor’s identity to fit one’s current desire to shift away from a white identity. He points out that “one simply repeats false family stories passed down over the generations, ignoring the voices of Indigenous peoples along the way.”

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

The Growing Interest in African American Ancestry

From an article about African-American Genealogy and DNA by Clara Germani in The Christian Science Monitor’s cover story of September 2, 2019:

The burgeoning interest of African Americans in their ancestry is helping to clarify family identities and heal the wounds of slavery. In the process, it is shaping everything from African American baby names to views on reparations.

Also:

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

The Paperless Genealogist

Too many genealogists are addicted to paper. In this day and age, that’s sad. I have no statistics about the amount of paper, ink, and toner consumed by genealogists every year, but I am sure we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars purchasing printers, paper, and supplies. That’s a huge waste of money, in my opinion. I wonder how many filing cabinets are sold to genealogists for in-home use. I will suggest there is a better way to store personal copies of genealogy records and related information.

The “paperless office” was an early prediction made in the June 30, 1975, issue of BusinessWeek. The article quoted George E. Pake, then head of Xerox Corp.’s Palo Alto (California) Research Center:

RSS Newsfeeds Explained

NOTE: This is an article I published five years ago. The subject recently arose again and I realized that many newsletter readers are unaware of the simple way to read this newsletter, other blogs, and many other web sites that publish new articles more-or-less daily. In addition, the RSS technology and business offerings have matured a bit in the past five years so there is now more information available than there was when this article was first written. I decided to make some additions to the original article and then republish it for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the advantages of RSS:

You may have noticed that this newsletter and several other genealogy Web sites are available via RSS news feeds. So are thousands of other Web news sites covering a wide variety of topics. This article will hopefully explain what RSS feeds are and what they can offer you. RSS is an abbreviation for “rich site summary” or “really simple syndication.” Most people don’t need to remember this definition any more than they would spell out “ATM.”

As to the word “feed,” this simply describes the way information gets to people: web servers “feed” information to those who ask for it.

The Popularity of Your Last Name

The U.S. Census Bureau counts the number of Americans every ten years. The same government agency also asks a lot of questions of those people, such as how many bathrooms are in their house and whether or not the family owns a computer. The Census Bureau even counts how many people have the same first or last names.

There were 6.3 million surnames documented in the 2010 census. The 15 most common surnames in America were:

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

Churchyards become Lawns in Sweden as Tombstones are typically Removed after 25 Years

UPDATE: The article apparently was later moved to: https://www.norran.se/nyheter/kyrkogardar-toms-nar-manga-overger-gravstenar/.

Newsletter reader Annelie Jonsson (in Sweden) sent a link to an interesting article in a Swedish news web site. It seems that Swedish the tombstones don’t remain in place forever. In most cases, a Swedish tombstone remains in place for 25 years after being installed. After that, the owner of the cemetery plot can pay extra to extend the time but a lot of Swedes don’t do that any more. The online article explains the practice.

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

Turn Your Friends and Family into Playing Cards

UPDATE: After publishing this article, Tim Crowley of OurCards extended an offer to all readers of the EOGN.com genealogy newsletter: “I hope it’s not too late to mention it, but your readers can use coupon code “EOGN20” to get 20% off their first deck (good until June 17). “

Thank you Tim!


I briefly wrote about this new company’s product a couple of weeks ago after meeting with the company’s owners at the New England Regional Genealogy Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire. (See http://bit.ly/2Dr50Ix for my earlier article.)

I wrote, “Make a game from your family tree! These are custom made playing cards, similar to any other deck of 52 playing cards, only with images and brief biographies of family members. When you order these cards, you also get to choose whose picture appears on which card. For instance, your grandmother could be the Queen of Hearts.”

This is a great method of teaching family members about the family tree even if they are not serious genealogists. It even seems to appeal to children, whether they are playing Go Fish or some other card game.

Genealogy’s Often-Misspelled Words

You might want to save this article someplace. I have no idea why, but many of the words used in researching your family tree are difficult to spell. I constantly see spelling errors in messages posted on various genealogy web sites. When someone misspells a word, it feels like they are shouting, “I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Here are a few words to memorize:

Genealogy – No, it is not spelled “geneology” nor is it spelled in the manner I often see: “geneaology.” That last word looks to me as if someone thought, “Just throw all the letters in there and hope that something sticks.” For some reason, many newspaper reporters and their editors do not know how to spell this word. Don’t they have spell checkers?

How to Download Entire Websites for Offline Use

Information on the World Wide Web may not remain online forever. However, it is easy to download and save information when you do see it. The information then remains available to you in case you ever want to go back and read it again in the future.

With today’s low prices for internal and external large capacity disk drives plus excellent software that can search through many gigabytes of saved data to find the specific thing(s) you are looking for, it often makes sense to save huge amounts of data in the hopes that you can find specific items of interest in the future.

In fact, you can download and save entire web sites.

Obama’s Presidential Library Is Already Largely Digital

NOTE: This is a continuation of several past articles in this newsletter about modern-day libraries gong digital. (See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+digital+(library+OR+libraries)&t=h_&ia=web for my past articles on this topic.)

“The debate about the Obama library exhibits a fundamental confusion. Given its origins and composition, the Obama library is already largely digital. The vast majority of the record his presidency left behind consists NOT of evocative handwritten notes, printed cable transmissions, and black-and-white photographs, but email, Word documents, and JPEGs. The question now is how to leverage its digital nature to make it maximally useful and used.”

In short, it sounds like most other libraries, including most future genealogy libraries.

You can read more in an article by Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration at Northeastern University and a co-founder of the Digital Public Library of America, in The Atlantic web site at: http://bit.ly/2WYdIVZ.

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.