Birth Record of Kerstina Jönsdotter, 1834

Today, I pieced togeth­er a few more facts about my Swedes, using Ances­try, Find­A­Grave, and the fam­i­ly his­to­ry I have tran­scribed and post­ed on this website.

My great great grand­moth­er, Kjer­stin Jöns­dot­ter, was born 6 Feb­ru­ary 1834, accord­ing to the “His­to­ry of Swan John­son Fam­i­ly or Nance Coun­ty Nebras­ka” writ­ten 102 years lat­er by the eldest child of her eldest child.

I have now seen the record of this birth, on Ances­try (which recent­ly incor­po­rat­ed “Swe­den Church Records, 1500–1937” from their acqui­si­tion last year of Genline).

This record also tells me that her father’s name was Jöns West­ers­son, her moth­er’s appears to have been Elna Nils­dot­ter. Ker­stin was chris­tened three days after her birth, on 9 Feb­ru­ary 1834 in Gus­tav Adolf (Viby), Kris­tianstad län, Swe­den. Her god­par­ents appear to have been Anders Mar­tins­son and Kar­na Westersson.

The fam­i­ly his­to­ry lists a sis­ter, Kar­na, who immi­grat­ed to Amer­i­ca thanks to her broth­er-in-law (Swan, my great great grand­fa­ther). Swan sent mon­ey not only for her pas­sage, but also for that of her hus­band, Nels Ahlm, 3 daugh­ters, and son. In the Val­ley View Ceme­tery list­ing for Kar­na Ahlm (Find­A­Grave), her birth date is giv­en as May 1841. Going back to the Swedish records on Ances­try, I find her in the list­ings as being born to Jöns West­ers­son and Elna Nils­dot­ter, 11 May 1841, and bap­tised on 13 May, both events hap­pen­ing in Gus­tav Adolf (Viby), Kris­tianstad län, Sweden.

I can tell already that these Swedish records are going to pro­vide a great deal of infor­ma­tion. I have yet to real­ly delve into the house­hold exam­i­na­tions, which are like cen­sus records, but kept by the church on an annu­al basis.…

Categories Uncategorized

Custom Search from the Chrome Omnibar

Google Chrome
Google Chrome Down­load Page

Google Chrome is quick­ly becom­ing my brows­er of choice.

One of the most pow­er­ful fea­tures is the Omin­bar, a sin­gle place to type URLs and search­es. I remem­ber the first time I saw the Google search field in Safari: It made me real­ize two things: first, how impor­tant Google was to every­thing I was doing, and sec­ond, how inno­v­a­tive Apple was. It was so much sim­pler to search from the brows­er itself instead of nav­i­gat­ing to Google, and then searching.

In Chrome (and also in Fire­fox, though I will cov­er that in a lat­er post), you can con­fig­ure your own set of brows­er search engines. In Chrome, you can run these cus­tom queries from the Omni­bar, with­out using a mouse.

NARA ARC SearchLet’s say you do a lot of work mate­r­i­al at the Nation­al Archives, and you reg­u­lar­ly need to read up in the Archival Research Cat­a­logs. Instead of nav­i­gat­ing to the Archives site, and search­ing for your ARC entry, which might point you to arti­cles in NARA­tions or The Pro­logue about the ARC entry, and not the ARC entry itself, you can take your search and con­fig­ure your brows­er to per­form it.
Yes­ter­day, I looked at the Kore­an War-era Com­mand Reports, which are cov­ered in ARC 596349. The path to the ARC descrip­tion is at:

To help you quick­ly get to this ARC entry, or any oth­er for which you know the number:

  1. In the Omin­bar, right click and click “Edit Search Engines.”
  2. Click the plus but­ton to cre­ate a new search.
  3. Name the search any­thing you would like.
  4. Add a short, mem­o­rable key­word. I used “arc.”
  5. Add as the URL the path, with the search term replaced by %s. In our exam­ple, this would look like:
  6. Click OK.
  7. Test it out. Go to the Omni­bar and type in your key­word fol­lowed by a tab and then a search term. In my exam­ple, this would be: arc [tab] 596354

Library of Congress Chronicling America Search

Here’s anoth­er exam­ple. To search the Library of Con­gress’s Chron­i­cling Amer­i­ca News­pa­per project (pre­vi­ous posts: Chron­i­cling Amer­i­ca API and Chron­i­cling Amer­i­ca)on a statewide basis, to see what papers are avail­able, the search looks like:

To make a cus­tom search for this in Chrome, right click in the Omni­bar, click “Edit Search Engines,” and then click the plus but­ton to cre­ate a new search. Name the search what you would like, add a mem­o­rable and brief key­word, and then enter the fol­low­ing as the URL:

Now, when­ev­er you are work­ing on a new state, where you might want to take a look at some of the dig­i­tized news­pa­pers for arti­cles, ads, and obit­u­ar­ies, you can sim­ply type your key­word, a tab, and then the name of the state. In my exam­ple, this would be:

loc-news [tab] nebraska

This would take me to:

Hap­py searching!

Categories Uncategorized

NARA: Korean War-era Command Reports

I men­tioned the fire Nation­al Per­son­nel Records Cen­ter in St. Louis, Mis­souri (Wikipedia | NARA) in a recent post, eVe­tRecs — Request­ing a DD 214 Online.

Today, in NARA­tions, the Nation­al Archives blog, an arti­cle appeared about alter­na­tive records for Kore­an War era vet­er­ans. The entry, Fam­i­ly Tree Fri­day: Kore­an War-era Com­mand Reports, describes “Record Group 407, Records of the Adju­tant General’s Office, 1917‑, par­tic­u­lar­ly … ‘Army-AG Com­mand Reports, 1949–1954’ (ARC ID 596354)” as pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for genealog­i­cal research. The piece describes this col­lec­tion with­in RG 407 like this:

the Com­mand Reports include his­tor­i­cal reports, oper­a­tions jour­nals, staff stud­ies, and oth­er doc­u­ments pro­duced by Army com­mands, staffs, and units dur­ing the Kore­an War era. Of even more use, with­in this series there are more than 25,00A0 file unit items .…

The entry for the main series (ARC ID 596354) in ARC — the Archival Research Cat­a­log — con­tains file unit descrip­tions. There is also a unit-search­able data­base and an “Index to Com­mand Reports, 1949–1954” (ARC ID 596349).

In my case, I will want to look up my uncle Wal­ter “Walt” Calvin Jones (1929−1959), who served as a Pri­vate First Class in the US Army in the Kore­an War, and came back to serve in the Hon­or Guard at the White House.

JFK Library Opens Digital Collections

John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy

To coin­cide with the 50th anniver­sary of the inau­gu­ra­tion of John F. Kennedy, the JFK Pres­i­den­tial Library today announced the open­ing of “the nation’s largest online dig­i­tized pres­i­den­tial archive.”

The details were pre­sent­ed in the Archivist’s Recep­tion Room in the Nation­al Archives build­ing in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. by David S. Fer­riero, Archivist of the Unit­ed States (bio | blog), and Car­o­line Kennedy, Pres­i­dent of the John F. Kennedy Library Foun­da­tion. (The JFK Library is one of thir­teen pres­i­den­tial libraries admin­is­tered by NARA, the Nation­al Archives and Records Administration.)

A lit­tle more than four years ago, on June 8, 2006, Sen­a­tor Edward M. Kennedy announced the dig­i­ti­za­tion project. Accord­ing to the press release:

At launch, the archive fea­tures approx­i­mate­ly 200,000 pages; 300 reels of audio tape, con­tain­ing more than 1,245 indi­vid­ual record­ings of tele­phone calls, speech­es and meet­ings; 300 muse­um arti­facts; 72 reels of film; and 1,500 pho­tos. The sheer vol­ume of dig­i­tized mate­ri­als is unprece­dent­ed for pres­i­den­tial libraries whose col­lec­tions were not born digitally.”

Just as in any dig­i­ti­za­tion project, the ini­tial release includes only a frac­tion of what is in the library itself. As the press release notes, the JFK Library’s holdings:

cur­rent­ly include more than 8.4 mil­lion pages of the per­son­al, con­gres­sion­al and pres­i­den­tial papers of John Fitzger­ald Kennedy, and more than 40 mil­lion pages of over 300 oth­er indi­vid­u­als who were asso­ci­at­ed with the Kennedy Admin­is­tra­tion or mid-20th Cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can his­to­ry. In addi­tion, the archives hold more than 400,000 still pho­tographs; 9,000 hours of audio record­ings; 7.5 mil­lion feet of motion pic­ture film; and 1,200 hours of video record­ings. Dig­i­ti­za­tion efforts are ongo­ing and addi­tion­al mate­r­i­al will con­tin­ue to be added to the archive as it is scanned and described.”

While many geneal­o­gists may jump to the con­clu­sion that their fam­i­ly is not in these records, so they do not mat­ter to them, I think the point is that this will be a pow­er­ful resource for schol­ars of all types, espe­cial­ly his­to­ri­ans and fam­i­ly his­to­ri­ans who seek to put the fam­i­lies they research into an his­tor­i­cal con­text. The suc­cess of this project will add to the even larg­er Google Books and Euro­peana projects, and serve as a guide and as per­sua­sion for many oth­er kinds of libraries, archives, and repos­i­to­ries to dig­i­tize their materials.

The pop­u­lar media (and and its com­peti­tors) imply that more genealog­i­cal records have been dig­i­tized than in fact have been. Nev­er­the­less, I say: The more dig­i­ti­za­tion, the bet­ter. The ben­e­fits of dig­i­ti­za­tion can be sum­ma­rized as fol­lows. Digitization:

  1. Cre­ates a back­up copy of the orig­i­nal document.
  2. Allows archivists to lim­it han­dling of rare and frag­ile doc­u­ments, since a dig­i­tal copy can be made avail­able instead for most purposes.
  3. Makes mate­ri­als more wide­ly avail­able, with less con­cern for time and space, 24 hours a day, over the Internet.

To clar­i­fy the state of things with dig­i­tal genealog­i­cal records: Yes, many records have been dig­i­tized; no, the vast major­i­ty of records have not been dig­i­tized. So, I wel­come the launch of the JFK Library dig­i­tal archives, and of any dig­i­tized records, as anoth­er brick in an edi­fice that will nev­er be ful­ly constructed.

Categories Uncategorized

Digital Libraries

I am back from the hos­pi­tal, recu­per­at­ing at home .…

I clipped into Ever­note the link to a fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry from this Sun­day’s busi­ness sec­tion, and only had a chance to look at it today. The Times writes about dig­i­tal libraries, and how Amer­i­ca has fall­en behind in this advance­ment: “Play­ing Catch-Up in a Dig­i­tal Library Race” by Natasha Singer.

Ms. Singer points out that the US does not have a com­pre­hen­sive strat­e­gy for turn­ing phys­i­cal books, some of which might be incred­i­bly rare, into elec­tron­ic edi­tions that can be copied as wide­ly as licens­ing restric­tions and library poli­cies would allow.

The sto­ry com­pares our lack of a strat­e­gy for dig­i­ti­za­tion to the strat­e­gy of the Nation­al Library of Nor­way. In 2005, the Nor­we­gian library announced that it would be dig­i­tiz­ing its entire col­lec­tion. The library has com­plet­ed digitzing:

  • 170,000 books
  • 250,000 news­pa­pers
  • 610,000 hours of radio broadcasts
  • 200,000 hours of TV
  • 500,000 pho­tographs
National Library of Norway: The Promise of America
Nation­al Library of Nor­way: The Promise of America

Some of this dig­i­tized infor­ma­tion cov­ers the top­ic of emi­gra­tion from Nor­way to Amer­i­ca. Some of this mate­r­i­al can be found on the library’s page “The Promise of Amer­i­ca.”

This microsite includes a time­line, arti­cles and books, let­ters home, pho­tos and prints, video and audio, bib­li­ogra­phies, maps, links, and “Viking to Chica­go,” a col­lec­tion of news­pa­per arti­cles about a viking ship that way sent to the 1893 World’s Fair and Expo­si­tion in Chicago.

The Nation­al Library of the Nether­lands, the arti­cle con­tin­ues, plans to dig­i­tize all mag­a­zines, news­pa­pers, and books in Dutch from 1470 onward. (Me, I would start with the old­est known books, includ­ing illus­trat­ed man­u­scripts, but of course, this is an amaz­ing project.) The over 40 coun­tries of the Coun­cil of Europe have put togeth­er The Euro­pean Library, a sin­gle search engine for dig­i­tized Euro­pean cul­tur­al arti­facts. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has cre­at­ed Euro­peana,  site con­tain­ing 15 mil­lion dig­i­tized artifacts.

Ms. Singer points out that the US does have the Library of Con­gress and it’s Amer­i­can Mem­o­ry por­tal, with 16 mil­lion dig­i­tized arti­facts. How­ev­er, Ms. Singer notes, the Library of Con­gress has anoth­er 100 mil­lion arti­facts that have not been dig­i­tized. And there is no com­pre­hen­sive nation­al strategy.

The good news is that a com­pre­hen­sive strat­e­gy that would link the elec­tron­ic resources of a num­ber of uni­ver­si­ty libraries, the Library of Con­gress. Many of the hold­ings of these insti­tu­tions have already been dig­i­tized by Google for Google Books. The libraries would prob­a­bly need to nego­ti­ate for the rights to use these dig­i­tal ver­sions of the items dig­i­tized out of their holdings.

I, for one, will be stay­ing tuned to see if these major insti­tu­tions can address the legal and tech­ni­cal issues and deliv­er a com­pre­hen­sive elec­tron­ic Amer­i­can library.

Categories Uncategorized

Economic History and Genealogy

Tonight’s post will be brief. I am lying in a hos­pi­tal bed alter­nate­ly dic­tat­ing into my cell phone and tap­ping text on its screen. I trust I will be home tomor­row, and feel­ing bet­ter every day thereafter.

As I pre­fer read­ing to tele­vi­sion, and as I thought to bring my Kin­dle, I gave been read­ing two books that have been on my mind of late: Vil­helm Moberg’s The Emi­grants and John Ken­neth Gal­braith’s The Great Crash of 1929.

Nei­ther, of course, is a cheery book. Moberg writes of the pri­va­tions and famines in Swe­den that sparked emi­gra­tion from that coun­try to North Amer­i­ca; Gal­braith writes of the crash of 1929, its caus­es and its aftermath.

Both books, how­ev­er are impor­tant for geneal­o­gists. They remind us of the times in which our ances­tors lived. Dif­fi­cul­ties such as the recur­ring Swedish crop fail­ures and  peri­od­ic spec­u­la­tive mar­ket bub­bles are what pushed our ances­tors to cross great oceans for oppor­tu­ni­ty, nay even survival.

Even with­in the Unit­ed States, events such as the Flori­da land spec­u­la­tion of the 1920s or the crash of rail­road spec­u­la­tion in 1873 caused finan­cial hard­ships that some­times made our ances­tors itin­er­ant. (Both of these events are briefly described in Gal­braith’s book.)

I plan to add to my bag of genealog­i­cal tricks a time­line I can set against migra­tion pat­terns in my research to see if I can learn more about what might have fueled a desire to move west and ever west. This prac­tice, whether or not it leads to spe­cif­ic rev­e­la­tions about par­tic­u­lar ances­tors, will no doubt prove an impor­tant method of putting my research sub­jects in the con­text of their times. I am look­ing for­ward to it, and to get­ting out of this bed.

eVetRecs — Requesting a DD 214 Online

The Nation­al Archives pro­vides the abil­i­ty to request vet­er­ans records (DD 214) for vet­er­ans who served in the US mil­i­tary between WWI and the present, using Stan­dard Form 180 (SF-180).

This can be done either online or entire­ly on paper. One can also request replace­ment medals and oth­er doc­u­ments. The online form is avail­able at:

For “online” requests, a paper copy must be print­ed (or a hand­writ­ten doc­u­ment must be pre­pared) in order to sign the affir­ma­tion that you are enti­tled to this information.

To sub­mit the request, you will need to have a fair amount of infor­ma­tion handy, includ­ing the vet­er­an’s full name, social secu­ri­ty num­ber, ser­vice ID num­ber, birth date and place, and approx­i­mate date of sep­a­ra­tion from service.

A help­ful video on the process is avail­able on the site, as well as embed­ded on this page. 90% of requests are processed with­in 10 days, accord­ing to NARA.

eVetRecs Online submission form
eVet Recs Popup

You can also sim­ply write for the record. Is so, NARA requests the fol­low­ing information:

  • The vet­er­an’s com­plete name used while in service
  • Ser­vice num­ber or social secu­ri­ty number
  • Branch of service
  • Dates of service
  • Date and place of birth may also be help­ful, espe­cial­ly if the ser­vice num­ber is not known
  • If the request per­tains to a record that may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include:
  • Place of discharge
  • Last unit of assignment
  • Place of entry into the ser­vice, if known.

The ser­vice is free in most cas­es, and NARA will con­tact you if your request might have a fee. A fire in 1973 (Wikipedia | NARA) destroyed many records at the Nation­al Per­son­nel Records Cen­ter in St. Louis, Mis­souri, notably:

Branch Per­son­nel and Peri­od Affected Esti­mat­ed Loss
Army Per­son­nel dis­charged Novem­ber 1, 1912, to Jan­u­ary 1, 1960 80%
Air Force Per­son­nel dis­charged, Sep­tem­ber 25, 1947, to Jan­u­ary 1, 1964
(with names alpha­bet­i­cal­ly after Hub­bard, James E.)

How­ev­er, NARA con­tin­ues to recov­er and restore records, so do not get dis­cour­aged, and con­sid­er request­ing a cov­et­ed record again in a cou­ple of years, as it may yet be recovered.

NARA’s Online Public Access: A First Look

NARA's Online Public Access
NARA’s Online Pub­lic Access(Click to Enlarge Image)

The Nation­al Archives and Records Admin­is­tra­tion (NARA), is in the process of striv­ing to make the records they hold, and their doc­u­ments describ­ing them, more acces­si­ble to researchers.

A key part of this access project is a new search, which is called “Online Pub­lic Access,” and was announced (as a pro­to­type), on 28 Decem­ber 2010 on NARA’s NARA­tions blog.

About Online Pub­lic Access — which is avail­able at — NARA notes:

The Online Pub­lic Access pro­to­type includes:

  • Access to infor­ma­tion about our records that is cur­rent­ly in the Archival Research Cat­a­log (ARC) and on, and select­ed elec­tron­ic records from Access to Archival Data­bas­es (AAD) and the Elec­tron­ic Records Archives (ERA) – all through one search!
  • Search Refine­ments and Top­ic Clus­ters to lim­it your results in a vari­ety of ways, such as by date or loca­tion, or focus on a top­ic of interest”.
NARA Open Public Access Search: Civil War
NARA Open Pub­lic Access Search: Civ­il War (Click to Enlarge Image)

On the home­page for the OPA, NARA writes:

The Online Pub­lic Access pro­to­type is our first step to pro­vid­ing a sin­gle search to our records from sev­er­al of our cur­rent sys­tems, includ­ing the Archival Research Cat­a­log (ARC)Access to Archival Data­bas­es (AAD), and the Elec­tron­ic Records Archive (ERA). As part of the Nation­al Archives’ flag­ship ini­tia­tive in our Open Gov­ern­ment Plan, our new search is intend­ed to make the per­ma­nent records of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment eas­i­er to find online. We want to get your input as we con­tin­ue to devel­op this search por­tal. Con­tact us at, and let us know what you think!”

I tried a cou­ple of search­es, to eval­u­ate the results at this state of the NARA pro­to­type. Enter­ing the search term “Civ­il War” (with­out quo­ta­tion marks for the pur­pos­es of the search), yields “28454 results.

(It would be handy if the page ren­der­ing placed com­mas in the cus­tom­ary loca­tions for longer num­bers, to increase the readability.)

Over 28,000 results might seem over­whelm­ing, but NARA has orga­nized them.

First, on the left is an expand­able hier­ar­chi­cal list of top­ic clusters:

Top 15 Clusters
Archival (9)

Archival Descrip­tions (6)

Image (3)
Records of the Provost Mar­shal Gen­er­al’s Bureau (2)
Oth­er Top­ics (1)

Elec­tron­ic Telegrams (3)

Author­i­ty Records (3)
Dis­cov­er­ing The Civ­il War (2)
Oth­er Top­ics (1)

This is fol­lowed by refine­ments by data source (, Archival Descrip­tions, Archival Descrip­tions with Dig­i­tal Objects, Author­i­ty Records (in oth­er words, record relat­ing to NARA’s autho­riza­tion to man­age par­tic­u­lar records class­es), and Select­ed Archival Records).

There is then a refine­ment avail­able by Lev­el of Descrip­tion (Col­lec­tion, File, Item, Record Group, and Series). Refine­ments are also avail­able based on date ranges, file for­mat, and loca­tion with­in the NARA facilities.

So, let’s say I want­ed to find descrip­tions of records groups about the Civ­il War. I could per­form this search, then select the date range “1860−1869,” fol­lowed by “Data Source: Archival Descrip­tions.” Doing this, nar­rows down the field to con­sid­er from 28,000+ records to two records:

  • Records of the Provost Mar­shal Gen­er­al’s Bureau (Civ­il War), 1861–1965”
  • Records of Civ­il War Spe­cial Agen­cies of the Trea­sury Depart­ment, 1861–1868”

This may be too nar­row, and I may need to refine my search. I can refine the search on that page, or per­form an “Advanced Search” using the link that is avail­able right there.

A good quick intro­duc­tion exists in the form of a YouTube video. Addi­tion­al­ly, a guide­line for using the search is avail­able at How­ev­er, if you have a search that yields no results, you get a help page, which links to an invalid URL at

It’s a pro­to­type site, let’s not for­get. As such, there are some rough edges, but over­all, this is a promis­ing and excit­ing development.

There’s an App Store for That …

Macintosh App Store
Apple’s Mac­in­tosh App Store

Apple unveiled its App Store for the Mac­in­tosh today.

Users of Apple com­put­ers, run­ning Snow Leop­ard (Mac OS X, v.10.6), can down­load this appli­ca­tion by select­ing “Soft­ware Update …” from the Mac Menu. Addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion is avail­able at: The point of the App Store is to help Mac users find, pur­chase, down­load, install, re-install (if nec­es­sary), and update soft­ware. Apple says that appli­ca­tions pur­chased at the App Store install auto­mat­i­cal­ly, with­out an Admin­is­tra­tive login, and can be more eas­i­ly updat­ed through noti­fi­ca­tions sent to the user in the App Store.

So, the App Store is designed to pick off where iTunes and the App Store for the iPhone left off. With the iTunes store, peo­ple can buy music, video, and audio books. With the App Store for the iOS prod­ucts (iPhone and iPad), peo­ple can buy apps for these mobile devices. These stores have been phe­nom­e­nal­ly suc­cess­ful, with the iTunes store now vir­tu­al­ly dom­i­nat­ing the music scene that is becom­ing increas­ing­ly dig­i­tal. (Oth­er stores for music exist, most notably Ama­zon, but Apple’s iTunes is con­sid­ered to be the largest, based on the data that has been released.)

Genealogy Titles in the App Store
Geneal­o­gy Titles in the App Store

Apple is in the process of tak­ing every­thing it can learn from its expe­ri­ence with the iPhone and the iPad and bring­ing it to the desk­top. The Mac­in­tosh App Store is part of this, but so is the forth­com­ing OS X release, Lion, which releas­es this Sum­mer. The focus is on ease-of-use, sim­ple inter­faces, and quick ways to get what you want. This not only serves the desires of its cus­tomers, it also promis­es to pro­vide Apple with more revenue.

Apple has firm­ly entrenched itself at the cen­ter of the impulse pur­chas­ing method­ol­o­gy. With the App Store, they are putting com­put­er users a click or two away from soft­ware pur­chas­es of which they stand to make 30%. Since it’s eas­i­er for cus­tomers, they may grav­i­tate to it, and may even make more pur­chas­es than they would have oth­er­wise. In many cas­es, these pur­chas­es are shift­ing from the ven­dors’ own sites to Apple’s App Store, mean­ing there had been no mark­down for a mid­dle­man, and now there will be one. How­ev­er, the App Store puts ones prod­uct in front of more eyes, so it may net pos­i­tive for most soft­ware vendors.

Date Calculator in the App Store
Date Cal­cu­la­tor in the App Store

In the geneal­o­gy world, there are a cou­ple of apps of note already in the App Store:

  • Mac Fam­i­ly Tree (links to the App Store) — This is one of the indus­try lead­ers on the Mac plat­form, now at ver­sion 6.0.10. They are run­ning a spe­cial: 50% off (or $24.99) in the App Store until Jan­u­ary 13th.
  • Fam­i­ly Tree Mak­er for Mac (links to the App Store) — The best-sell­ing geneal­o­gy soft­ware in the world, FTM is a pack­age that many geneal­o­gy purists hate, but its increas­ing inte­gra­tion with the Ances­try data­bas­es makes it very attrac­tive, and many pro­fes­sion­als like its inter­face or its reports. It is new­ly avail­able for the Mac, and avail­able at the App Store cur­rent­ly for $99.00.
  • Date Cal­cu­la­tor (links to the App Store) — This one was a new one for me, which is prob­a­bly pre­cise­ly why they want­ed to be in the App Store as ear­ly as they are: To gain mind share. They bill it as “a date util­i­ty for geneal­o­gists” which con­verts “any date … between Gre­go­ri­an, Julian, Hebrew, and French Repub­lic cal­en­dars and find its day of the week.” It also cal­cu­lat­ed the time between two dates, and also works with “fuzzy dates,” say a month or a year. $9.99.

The App Store and the upcom­ing Lion release of the Mac OS, are Apple’s play to keep their per­ceived lead­er­ship posi­tion prod­ucts and tech­nol­o­gy. While they charge a pre­mi­um for their com­put­ers, tablets, and phones, their argu­ment is that peo­ple are pay­ing for val­ue. Love or hate the Apple mod­el, iTunes and iOS App Stores have defined a new mod­el of elec­tron­ic mass dis­tri­b­u­tion with a bou­tique feel. The iOS App Store has an amaz­ing array of Apps, but it’s def­i­nite­ly a juried list. While Apple takes some flak for this, the fact is that the store is more fam­i­ly ori­ent­ed and less like­ly to offend, and this helps Apple gain trust and sell prod­ucts. It’s a store, not a library, so it’s dif­fi­cult to say that they are engag­ing in censorship.

As for the future of all of these pur­chas­es on the App Store, there are a few ques­tions I have. I will be able to get updates to my apps on the App Store, but what if I migrate away from the store, or even close that account. I am assum­ing that my pur­chase his­to­ry would be wiped out, and there would be no way to “re-down­load” or get a sup­port­ed upgrade for my prod­uct. Will there be a returns pol­i­cy that will allow some­one to “return” soft­ware that clear­ly does not work as advertised?

I like the idea of man­aged upgrades, and I’m com­fort­able with pur­chas­ing soft­ware online. (Who needs to have a box shipped halfway around the world only to gath­er dust on top of my book case?) But this kind of pur­chase always has some lev­el of risk in that the instal­la­tion pack­age only exists dur­ing the instal­la­tion, and then it is erased. Is it pos­si­ble that the tout­ed re-instal­la­tion might not be avail­able when I need it? Just things to con­sid­er as one pon­ders the future of soft­ware sales.

Categories Uncategorized

The Winter 2011 FGS Forum

If you get a chance, you should read the lat­est FGS Forum from the Fed­er­a­tion of Genealog­i­cal Soci­eties.

The mag­a­zine has had as its helm for 22 years San­dra Har­g­reaves Lue­bking, and with this issue she retires and is fêt­ed. (Pri­or to her stint as Edi­tor, Ms. Lue­bking spent 3 years as an Assis­tant Edi­tor to Loret­to Szucs, so it’s a true sil­ver anniver­sary she is cel­e­brat­ing.) My hat’s off to San­dra, whom I have only met and chat­ted with in pass­ing, but who is known in the com­mu­ni­ty for her kind­ness, gen­eros­i­ty, and the high qual­i­ty of the FGS Forum.

Mem­ber soci­eties receive copies of the FGS Forum, but indi­vid­u­als can also sub­scribe. There is cur­rent­ly a spe­cial on: One year for $15 or two years for $25. The Forum is always full of good arti­cles and news. It’s always wor­thy of a read.

In addi­tion to ful­some appre­ci­a­tion for Ms. Lue­bking on the occa­sion of her retire­ment, the Win­ter 2011 issue also includes: 

  • Thomas MacEn­tee on “FGS 2011: Spring­field, Illi­nois” — In addi­tion to cov­er­ing the event itself, Thomas describes local attrac­tions and repos­i­to­ries geneal­o­gists might want to vis­it. He con­sid­ers local broad­ly: Spring­field, Chica­go, yes, but folks may not have thought about St. Louis, Wis­con­sin, and Indi­ana. (I know, for exam­ple, that I will be find­ing a way to get to the Swen­son Swedish Immi­gra­tion Research Cen­ter at Augus­tana Col­lege in Rock Island, Illinois.)
  • Mar­garet Cheney, a Trustee of the Ohio Genealog­i­cal Soci­ety on that Soci­ety’s library, which opened in July 2010.
  • An update on records preser­va­tion and access issues by Lin­da Cald­well McCleary.
  • Randy Seaver on why we should­n’t get seduced by online resources.

The issue is round­ed out by a series of book reviews by Paul Milner.

Take a look, and con­sid­er subscribing.