Sunday, January 24, 2010

Turn Web Pages Into PDFs

This one is courtesy of my genealogy and ham radio friend - Dick Eastman (Source URL: Will be adding this to my Internet and Genealogy Class resource guide/handout. I will also demonstrate the usage of this website in class this semester.

"One of the many problems I find when surfing the web is that there are many interesting web sites, almost too many. I'd like to save many of them. My bookmark list in my web browser already contains thousands of links and I can never find what I want. I have tried various bookmark organizers but have never found one that I really like. Besides, when I go back to the site in the future the information that caught my eye today might no longer be there. A perfect example would be this newsletter web site where things change several times daily. I want to save a particular article so bookmarking the web site doesn't do much good.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way for you to capture a web page in its entirety, either for future reference or for sharing it with your friends without having to start sending links back and forth? I'd like to capture the web page as it exists today. Luckily, there is an easy method of doing just that. is a web service that captures web sites and converts them to PDF files. You can save the PDF files on your own computer, preserving them as they appeared at the moment you told to make the copy. Best of all, even the links work properly. You simply cut and paste the URL you are interested in, and then a “download this page as PDF” link will be provided for you to retrieve the corresponding document.

A service such as this one also has the distinct advantage of letting your preserve pages forever. That is, even if the original page vanishes from the web you will still be able to access the information as it was, at the time you created a PDF of it. And you can also create PDFs of your own site in order to track its evolution.

Best of all, this is a free service.

Try it. Go to

Chicago, IL Key Genealogy Resources Online - Handy Guide

Chicago Genealogy Resources

Bookmark this page - so you may easily refer to it often. This is a super handy guide to Chicago genealogical sources you will actually use to build your family tree.

Source URL:

Friday, January 22, 2010 Tree to Go. Your tree goes mobile

In this last week, I have demonstrated to both of my Genealogy and Internet classes the power of having your genealogy in your hand using an iPod Touch or iPhone and the FamView app.

Now right on the heels of that there is a new way to tote around family and photos if you have an Ancestry account and have created a family tree. Meet the Tree to Go app.

Take pictures of people, places or things you discover and upload them to your family tree. Add missing dates you find in research libraries. Share your tree with family and friends on the fly. Your history is always handy with Tree to Go.

All you need is an family tree, an iPhone or iPod Touch and an adventurous spirit, and you’re ready to download the free app and hit the road in search of your story.

Start with a family tree, then branch out. Already created a family tree on You can access and add to it anywhere with Tree to Go. Don’t have a tree yet? Start building it here first, then grow it wherever and whenever inspiration (or information) strikes. And no matter how many trees you have, they’ll all be at your fingertips from your iPhone.

Capture your history wherever you find it. Imagine locating that old family homestead on a trip to Amish country. Or tracking down that missing gravestone of your great-great-great-grandmother. Or meeting a distant relative for the first time. With Tree to Go, you can take a photo and upload it to your tree right away, then add facts or notes on the fly. Your incredible discoveries will never be lost again.

Capture your history wherever you find it. Imagine locating that old family homestead on a trip to Amish country. Or tracking down that missing gravestone of your great-great-great-grandmother. Or meeting a distant relative for the first time. With Tree to Go, you can take a photo and upload it to your tree right away, then add facts or notes on the fly. Your incredible discoveries will never be lost again.

Oh and the best part of this whole thing (yea, you guys in my class know what I'm about to say) -- it's FREE!

So click here to download the Tre to Go.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spelling and Your Ancestors

Courtesy of the Genealogy Pointers newsletter:

[The following article is excerpted from Val Greenwood's acclaimed textbook, The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. 3rd Edition, pp. 32-35, which is described at the end of this excerpt.]

The lack of standardized spellings and the use of phonetic spellings can be very sticky problems. If you go back just 100 years you will find that a large percentage of the population could not read, more still could not write (and many people were able to write only their own names), and even more could not spell. Most persons who did write did not concern themselves particularly with so-called standard spellings, but rather spelled words just as they sounded--phonetically--with local accents. Also realize that the early settlers of America were emigrants from many foreign lands. There were many accents, and when records were made the scribe wrote what he heard, accent and all.

What is the significance of these facts? It means that you will oftentimes be called upon to decipher scripts in which you will puzzle over simple words just because they are misspelled and written in an unfamiliar hand.

However, the main problem is in the spellings of names (especially surnames) and places. In the will which he made in 1754 in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, Jeremiah Wilcox's surname is spelled two different ways--Willcox and Willcocks. In other documents it is spelled still other ways--Wilcox, Wilcocks, Welcox, Wellcocks, Welcocks, etc.--but Jeremiah could not write himself (he made a mark for his signature) so he probably had no idea as to what the correct spelling was or if it was ever being spelled correctly. The name and its spelling were entirely at the mercy of the person who chanced to make the record.

This highlights the fallacy of a practice common in many modern families--that of assuming that if the name is not spelled in a certain way it cannot belong to the same family. Persons with such ideas will pass over important genealogical records because the name happens to be spelled with an "a" rather than an "e," with an "ie" rather than a "y," or with one "n" rather than with two. Be especially careful of this when the two related spellings of a name are found in the same geographic area. The connection, of course, is not guaranteed, as it is not guaranteed even when the spellings are exactly the same, but it is worth investigating the possibility.

Also, because of this spelling problem, we must be extremely careful in our use of indexes. We must consider every possible spelling of the name sought. It is very easy to overlook some of the less logical (to us) possibilities and thus many valuable records. Local dialects and foreign accents often make a significant difference. The pronunciation of a name may be quite different in Massachusetts than it is in Georgia, and so might its spelling.

In law this is called the Rule of "Idem Sonans." This means that in order to establish legal proof of relationship from documentary evidence it is not necessary for the name to be spelled absolutely accurately if, as spelled, it conveys to the ear, when pronounced in the accepted ways, a sound practically identical to the correctly spelled name as properly pronounced.

A few years ago I worked for some time on a problem where the same surname was found spelled twenty-four different ways in the very same locality, some of them even beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. The correct spelling of the name (supposedly) was "Ingold," but the following variations were found: Ingle, Ingell, Ingles, Ingells, Ingel, Ingels, Ingeld, Inkle, Inkles, Inkell, Ingolde, Engold, Engolde, Engle, Engell, Engles, Engells, Engel, Engels, Engeld, Angold, Angle, and Ankold. These several variations were all found in the same family at the same time. Would you have considered all of them, or would you have stopped with those that began with "I"?

Other less likely possibilities for this name are Jugold and Jugle. Such errors could easily occur in an index because of the similarities between the capital I's and J's and the small n's and u's.

Another family changed the spelling of its name from Beatty to Baitey when moving from one location to another. In still another instance the surname Kerr was found interchanged with Carr. Whether these spelling changes were intentional is unknown, but the intention makes little difference. In one family three brothers deliberately spelled their surname in different ways--Matlock, Matlack, and Matlick. In his history of the Zabriskie family, George 0. Zabriskie reports having dealt with 123 variations of that name, though certainly not all in the same locality or the same time period. [END of excerpt]

The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. 3rd Edition
If you found this excerpt fascinating--and helpful--you might want to take a closer look at Val Greenwood's handy textbook. Among other things, The Researcher's Guide contains an in-depth discussion of death and other vital records in the U.S., including where and how to find them. This third edition incorporates the latest thinking on genealogy and computers, specifically the relationship between computer technology (the Internet and CD-ROM) and the timeless principles of good genealogical research. It also includes a new chapter on the property rights of women, a revised chapter on the evaluation of genealogical evidence, and updated information on the 1920 census. Arguably the best book ever written on American genealogy, it is the text of choice in colleges and universities or wherever courses in American genealogy are taught.

This is my favorite classroom textbook that I use to teach two of my advanced genealogy courses. It is a reference you should have on your genealogy library shelf -- Larry.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Census "view maps" links no good,

I came across an interesting piece of information on the census map view and some of the issues you will encounter if you use it. It comes from the damed Dear Myrtle Blog at this link

If you plan on using the "view map" option on the census summary page, take a peak at the link above before you do it.