The Online Genealogist

John Brugliera

Archive for the tag “books”

A few recent genealogy items worthy of note

FaGraveFind A Grave (via’s blog) announced that the 100,000,000th photo was uploaded onto their website.  Yeah, I could’ve written it as “100 Million”, but look at all those ZEROES!

That’s a great milestone and pretty impressive for a website that many originally blew off as a celebrity-worship “ooooo, this is where he’s buried!” novelty destination that would be gone in a few years.  But after 19?  Boy, did they prove ME – errr, THEM wrong!!  Find A Grave is a definite boon for genealogists, historians and the entire goth community!  Me eating crow.  Poorly.

And has THIS finally been successfully proven?

Mail OnlineMr. Edwards claims he was able to extract DNA from a shawl found by one of Jack’s victims. How??  Ya gotta buy his BOOK to find out!!

JackEh, in all fairness, the article is rather meaty and has several photos, so I will not mock.  Thank you, Mr. Edwards!  The free plug for his BOOK should make up for any ill will.  Fascinating stuff, for sure!

And NOT to sound like a broken record regarding online records, but here’s MORE!!

FamilySearchScroll down a bit for the numbers. is surely living up to their promise of a continuous flow of digitized records – indexed and non-indexed!  So, instead of waiting for the entire indexing process to catch up to the records (a few years??), they keep adding all sorts of goodies for us to BROWSE through.  Did I ever mention I love to browse? 

Well, even with all the indexes, I often end up browsing anyway.  Whether it be to find the actual ancestor I’m looking for or learn more of what and who’s around that ancestor if some promising results came up in the initial search.

These two FamilySearch items are of special note to U.S. researchers, as they are NEW sources; the others were updates to existing collections.

FS New 01FS New 02I’ll close out with something I came across today, from nearly 100 years ago, it’s the 1915 Norwich, Connecticut Tax List via the Norwich Bulletin!

NorwichThis is a great mid-decade resource for placing your Norwich, CT ancestor.  Check it out.  You could actually find someone you “know” in there!

But if your ancestors never lived in Norwich (99.9999% of us), I can still help you out!  Hire ME — The Online Genealogist!!!



The Online Genealogist asks “Why is CITING so often unexCITING?”

Citation Tools

As genealogists, we know that we need to cite each and every record used in our family history research.  That much I’m sure we all agree on.  But HOW we do that is where much disagreement arises.  The topic could fill a book.

In fact, it already has; several of them at that.  These are the two biggies when it comes to genealogy.

Evidence           Cite

I must admit, I’ve always had trouble with citations and footnotes in general; how to format them, where to put them.  Which comes first – the author or the date?  Should the footnotes be on the same page or at the end of a chapter?  Do we really need to be so particular as to how they’re constructed?  Apparently so!

It used to be acceptable to include enough information so that if someone else were to come across our research, they could easily determine where a particular record originated from.  But apparently, that’s not good enough anymore.  Now it seems they need to be constructed perfectly, with all items in a particular order as if our research report was some major term paper to be graded by a panel of red marker-holding genealogy professors.


The date should NOT be written in Roman Numerals as it appears in that old book!  City of publication, publisher and date HAVE to be in that order, WITHIN parenthesis!  You’ve got a COMMA where a SEMI-COLON should be and a SEMI-COLON where a COMMA should be!  It’s enough to drive a genealogist MAD!  Or at least write a blog post about it.

And the RULES vary for each type of record!  Whether it be a family bible filled with names and dates, Burlington Free Press newspaper obituary, Civil War pension application, 1910 census record or Italian marriage allegati, the RULES are different for each type.  One size does NOT fit all.

The consensus seems to be – there IS no consensus!  How CAN there be with so many different types of records that we’re attempting to document?  And these RULES are for U.S.-based genealogists only.  “Our” RULES do not apply to England or France, where they have their own set of RULES for citing reference materials.  Are you somehow getting a sense that I have issue with many of these RULES??

comic28Anyway, enough ranting on the subject; how about a solution to a problem that many of us seem to have when attempting to link a citation to an electronic record, which we’re obviously seeing more and more of these days.  What good is ANY citation “correct” or otherwise if it’s not with the record it pertains to?  You might as well not cite that source at all if you’re keeping the records in one place and the actual citations in another.

But with most electronic files, there IS a way to have the two always connected.  As most of you know, sites such as and have come a long way to help ease our pain with all things needing to be cited.  Most times, when you bring up a record on either site, the citation is RIGHT THERE, available to cut and paste.

So, where have I been successfully storing these handy-dandy citations?  In the electronic file’s COMMENTS area!  Here’s how…

Pick a record – ANY record!  For this example, I randomly chose a New Hampshire marriage record on

Citation 01

First step, of course, is to download the record.  Then, as noted at the bottom left, is the little “Show Citation” box.  Click on that and up pops the citation for this record.

Citation 02

Hitting that “Copy Citation” will send it to your computer’s clipboard.

Next, go to your downloaded file and right-click on that, then hit “Properties” at the bottom, where you’ll get…

Citation 03

Hit the “Details” tab, then go down to “Comments”.  Place your cursor anywhere to the right and an “Add comments” box appears.  Click anywhere within and you’re now ready to paste the citation you copied.  Like so…

Citation 04

Hit the “OK” button and the citation will forever remain within this .jpg file!  Pretty slick, huh?

And don’t worry about not being able to fit it all in that small-looking box.   You’d be amazed at how much you can get in there!  I have yet to fill it up and for music mp3s, as I sometimes put the song’s lyrics in there no problemo!   So, you can add anything you’d like in there without any Twitter-like character restrictions.

For, the process is similar; they just have a different way of copying the citation to the computer’s clipboard.  The rest is exactly the same.

Two file types I have NOT seen a Comments box in the Details tab is .png (mainly via the Windows 7 snipping tool) and .pdf.  The only way I know of getting around this is to copy the file to a .jpg format in PhotoShop, etc.

The main negative in using this method is that you’d have to (somehow) let it be KNOWN that you’re saving the citations in this manner, as it’s not very intuitive.  But if we all start cutting and pasting the citations and adding them to the comments in this manner, it would be a non-issue!

With this, you’ll never have to look for an electronic record’s citation elsewhere ever again!

Come to find out, though, most of the citations on these two websites are “unacceptable”, according to the two books above.  But I’m not going to worry about that now, because I at least have SOMETHING useable attached to each record!


And if you don’t want to deal with citations or footnotes, hire ME, the Online Genealogist!!



Nothin’ like a few million FREE IMAGES to spice up your family story!

Flickr - IA

The Internet Archive folks recently posted over 2.5 million IMAGES onto the photo-sharing website, Flickr.  Extracted from thousands of books originally searchable by text ONLY at Internet Archive.  Now the images can be searched on Flickr!

Why is this a big deal for genealogists?  We get perty pictures to go with our family histories!  Even though they are mostly “old” images past copyright, you’ll  surely discover a visual gem or two to accompany your ancestors’ stories.

Whether it be something specific like a photo of a long-gone family homestead or generic such as a period steam liner used to illustrate an immigrant family’s trans-Atlantic journey – it’s probably in there.  Remember, we’re talking over two-and-a-half million images here!

So, if you had MacLarens in Windsor, Ontario around 1900, they may have been “manufacturing” cheese…


Or perhaps some of your family lived near Chicago’s Garfield Park.  Here’s a close-up of that area from 1921.  There are several other neighborhoods available for viewing/downloading!


Maybe you’re the 3rd-great-grandchild of Dr. P. Edward Seguin, who set up practice in Royalton, Minnesota.  Do a Flickr search for him now and his photo comes right up!  He’s the one with the facial hair (heh).

Seguin 01

Then you hit a link and the original book is shown in its entirety; you’ll see the image in context and maybe find a few more words to go with your Man of 10,000 Lakes.

Seguin 02

Nice stash there, guy.  Oh, and check out his goateed colleague, George Allen Love, M.D. — Dr. Love!  (And yes, I love stuff “finding me” like this.)  Time to break out some Kiss!…

And while most early records aren’t OCR-friendly, they are definitely considered to be images.  Such as the below Allen County, Indiana Circuit Court Index from 1824.  (Hi ACPL!)  All images are downloadable, with Flickr’s excellent choices ranging from thumbnail to original.  I always grab the original, then re-size that as needed.

Allen 02

You can also download several stock photo-type items without the worry of being busted by the copyright police!  Like this large uppercase “C” for your the background of your Carlson Family homepage.


Anyway, you get the idea.  That is to NOT overlook this incredible Flickr/Internet Archive e-collection while gathering all sorts of images for your family story.

Then there’s this one image we will ALL use when we finish our family histories and they’re complete.

Adam & Eve


Oh, and PhotoShop, etc. can also straighten images to make them even PERTIER!


And if YOU think that your ancestry can be traced all the way back to Adam & Eve, do NOT hire me — the Online Genealogist!!



It’s a Mocavo Two-fer!


First, big news that Mocavo has been purchased by FindMyPast.

Here is the full announcement on their home page.

I’m almost ashamed to say that I’m not subscribed to Mocavo or FindMyPastAlmost.  I mean seriously, how many of these paid-subscription websites must a genealogist cough up the bucks for?  And with some of them, you do some serious coughing!  But that’s for another post…

Funny that those two were next on my “genealogy sites to subscribe to” list, but only if I really really really really needed to.  As Mocavo is more of a search engine, I’ve been able to locate the information on my own, after their Free Forever search comes back with the results.  Same for the newspapers on FindMyPast – many are already available online for free.

So, what does this marriage mean for us?  A bad name like FindMo’Cavo??

Well, to start, a combined website/yearly subscription would be nice!  *COUGH COUGH*  (The till is dry.)

I’m sure FindMyPast and Mocavo joined forces for the very reason I’ve yet to subscribe to either; they really don’t have enough exclusive material to warrant the extra expense.  It’s almost like they’re trying to snatch up the “scraps” that Ancestry and FamilySearch (and to an extent, Fold3) don’t want.

FMP/M will have plenty to say in these coming months.  But will their combined efforts be enough to get me off the fence?

And did you know Mocavo will scan your genealogy-related books, diaries, photos, etc. for FREE?  (Love that word.  FREEEEEE.)

Simply click that Contribute button on their navigation bar.  (Or you could always just click the clickable “Contribute” I made right there.)

I recently found two local town landowners’ annual reports at a church rummage sale and mailed them to Mocavo for them to scan.  Upon doing so, they’ll add these to their collection of OCR searchable items for ALL!  It’s a GREAT service and I’m hoping that many subscribers (or not) will take them up on this offer.  So, keep an eye out, as there’s lots of genealogical stuff out there for scanning!

One very nice Mocavo niche is the central availability of such annual town reports, many of which contain births, marriages and deaths recorded during that past year.  (Obviously, better chances of seeing those for smaller towns.  Cities will simply give you the grand totals.)  Though again, with some digging, you can find most of these annuals online elsewhere..,yes, for free.

But you probably don’t want to send Mocavo anything that’s near and dear to your heart.  Especially books, as they say they need to remove the binding for better scanning, which makes perfect sense.  Read the fine print.

I’ll let you know when “my” town records come up online there.  (Supposedly, they’ll contact me AND give me credit for the data.)

So, let this be an open challenge to FindMyPast/Mocavo

Knock me off the fence!!!


T-O-G Biz 01

OCR = Occasionally Correct Reader

When you search within scanned newspapers or books online, the results are usually derived by optical character recognition software, more familiarly known as OCR.  The idea is for the software to “read” the printed characters and “translate” them into readable/searchable words and sentences.  Unfortunately, that simple-sounding task isn’t so given the inconsistent quality of the printed and scanned material – especially when it comes to older newspapers.

Here’s more info than you’ll ever need on OCR…

And a great example of how newspaper print can “confuse” the software…


Yes, very iffy and not fully reliable.  “At” comes up as “la”, “the” is “che” and “good” here is read as “gobd”. But then it actually reads “lovers”, which looks more like “lpvera” in the copy.  As you can see, OCR resluts can be extremely sporadic.

When words are hyphenated, OCR gets really confused, which can be a source of “amuse*ment” for some, but frustration for most.

How well do you think OCR can read this obituary page from The Sun (New York City)?


Maybe it will properly capture that bold “Mary” about halfway down, but the rest of it?  Well, let’s see, shall we?

There are several free OCR readers online; just upload your image and see it magically transformed into perfectly readable text!

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, maybe not…

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“”~ ‘1 “8 K ‘–‘ 1. 3. “‘1 -ll IP12
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“””‘*”‘ ” M – . W ‘  1. 4) -‘,‘-x~-A-.. 0’\O’ luau
V‘ ‘6-‘ “. ‘I “W I ” 5 \o.:”‘ ‘film llgl. ‘ ll ‘1 l|\ .1 |f0ug;¢
I’M.‘ -0.”. L‘ -0″‘ , 44 Q uflh-,-fp 4|. ‘nu ‘*0 1| \..;§’ ‘ .’f.».
: rt E ‘u“ “UV 01.0”] ’00 1.1‘   ‘In fl,§|| “||‘h’n l|.0’Jf‘¢
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s é 1 ‘, ‘ ‘
:‘|.\H’;:|\ – “ll Ihu”°»H\ -‘1” 1.1%‘, Huh!“ “.§|H\Ih
Q :~’:r:rI -u|)\1u\t‘I~bl1. \ –mm luau. Inland. llvd ll
| “u”_””fff!;” I_’=’l {‘4 I1-if fir» rmvct!ull{ lam.-Mo
bu?‘ “ f 1-‘.|.a~._§_‘._. Rf!“.I§:-“rr‘1al’°fl\°o-‘:0! uh r-mmlg,
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i \’“|’|»” \\|\ In; \..;ln’ IA! I-n I nfln l\-nL_-l..-

Wow, it didn’t even pick up “Mary” as I thought.  The only word I see is “Inland”, which is supposed to be “Ireland”.  (Funny that WordPress itself translates some of the text into smileys!)

Let’s try another image.  It’s darker and crisper, so the results should be better than the above.


I highlighted two couples — the thinking is that the top pair will be read better than the bottom.

IA It III”. –
IIIQWK-onllllzl-l..-In , Wm; 9
no-I».l at st. A|}n’n on the |\’.-an-. LV”.I\e- ll»-v..’8?nl‘
mu firhnurl. I.II.. rmvfin OHQM Iv-own us-In it
£_li:’:0:’ou“ .¢::’,:nvt 0! JOUII I. lid NM D10 null .
H ‘ , , I ‘ .
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IL I ‘ 0 ‘ ‘ ~ O ‘ I Q
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{Iv I:-tr J. lhnord 510001001! Nllllvlllj‘. Him.
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mu. rm»… |~. 1» , \\m um to Mu-e, ammo: oi
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Mn» .\~lq|~: l.. lfznm, wlnnlfierof Ir. Wm. la. ll nu.

But then again, maybe not.  No wonder this OCR is FREE.  (Yes, some OCR is better than others.)

If it can’t read THIS image, then this OCR is basically USELESS…


With regard to online newspaper image quality, this is about as good as it gets.  The OCR results…

luflsnl-BEBKIRBAIYOII.–On T0009“. his 15
at Cmlla Church. b tho llwv. Ila I Iv . hal-
Iof. htolnll ;. Ill to OIIMI cl! 00.3″: gt!!!»
W I –
Damn Print“! 1‘ umuiwlnl .l..
vi .na~ A RIB.-On “mum. Jun 10. at we
“nee of gm bride‘ rum. by uvkv. Mr. ‘nu,
r. lllmn oven 03 gflllllllkg. 1% Mm mu
“DER, magma: 0 . . an. .. ol claim
LA IZY.—In the my ol Rex‘ York. Ml QM 101,?
Q I | 0 b’ 0 J
::::§*‘:.’%:.z.::'”,’.:a: .2’l..’.:., ..’:r:’u…”:’m.*.,’.
lIIU.—0| J I
€:%:c|’r:ac,nuct or gear) in
n mmnv. one 81.01 crazck I’. ll. lhlouvon 0|‘
Q an rrgccllulznot to uugmt.
…~.:<:>;.w.~-::…:.; “-2.1% .~.::~”- “–‘–
0 nl0tlvr‘_na¢: 1110010.” the $inu|’y. and than 0|
In non. Jun lhmou. on rnloootlnuy mange! co nt-
an In Marni Iron: Mr mo mudnoce. 810 cot IMO
at on goo-lay. Juno Ital, I’. I.
I10! \l0. 0 anmlay. Mm tn. Cnherlnt In-Ion!
1).‘: fncboluqnrnm. to the lmh {far M er cm.
R ouvn and rlentotuc um lumd I
0¢uod*no hum] Irom r Iota Fianna‘. III Mount
IL, II u1’ncQ‘. inn II. it 90′: net A .,0la0nn- 0|
1‘; .{“.’!’.’_‘! L_’!¢P;_¢”t’!’-“.9!.L’¢_9.t1.wLlMm~ rm

Wow, is that bad or WHAT?!?

Going back to the original example of the bad OCR, can it even read the RIGHT SIDE correctly??

‘nu ‘h:u?””?-.“’ ‘ ‘ uh I Family Theatre.ThU theatre wli open to-day withan
1 U48 ‘ . . . .
u “Mn ch…“ u H” n‘ I. ‘uh ent|re change of b|Il at Its mat|nee.The bull la of gobd
,¢g_ ‘pp 5‘ |i_ Q 3*] ygflgg “Q variety andwill surely please all lovers of amuse”ment.
V.” WNW 9’91 I” |F””@ 3.3.‘ One of che feature is’ MissMinerva Vano. \ h e queen
nun; ‘Om- at am fawn U’ lb .
‘mar’ ‘an.’ “t Q…‘ 0‘ “. ~‘.‘. of the handcuffs.We copy the follow|ng from
‘ml; we can the loltou-In hon
|’|’||Q flung.‘ |4»“¢;_ Rig Ilgqgg, The Evening Leader. New Haven,
|¢oan: .

Better, but still unusable.

The bottom line here is that OCR is NOT at the point where it’s fully or even partially reliable in most cases, ESPECIALLY when it comes to newspapers.  Should you ditch the OCR searches altogether?  No.  But just realize that if you don’t get the expected results, it does NOT mean that what you’re looking for is NOT within that book or newspaper.  You’ll just need to browse the pages on your own, using your OWN built-in OCR.  And as shown above, even THAT can be difficult given the varying quality of original printed matter.


And if you’re looking for a human OCR, I’m your man!




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