Monthly Archives: May 2006

Utah Teenage Genealogist Winds up on History Channel

ABC 4 (Utah) has an article/story, Utah teen’s love for genealogy earns him time on History Channel, about a fifteen year old working on his Eagle Scout project that involves genealogy research and cemetery preservation. As a result of this, sometime in the next year on an unnamed show on the History Channel, his project will be feature. Pretty cool, and good exposure for genealogy.

Excerpt from the story:

Fifteen-year-old Brad Jencks of South Jordan was honored with a “Top High School Volunteer for the State of Utah” in the 2006 Prudential Spirit of the Community Awards Program. His work is also slated to be featured on the History Channel within the next year.

“It’s more of a hobby for me. I enjoy doing family history,” Brad Jencks told ABC4 News. “Our family’s really into family history and it’s just a tender part of my heart.”

Jencks’ work began two years ago when he approached the Jordan School District with his 100-hour Eagle Scout service project proposal. The district inherited the Bingham Cemetery when Bingham was disincorporated. Jencks wanted to compile a complete and accurate database for families like his with ancestors buried in the cemetery.

Website Aids Jews’ Search For Ancestors

The Boston Globe has an article by Matt Gunderson, Website aids Jews’ search for ancestors, about, well, those doing genealogy researching concerning Jewish ancestors. It mentions how the internet is impacting many genealogy societies, while some, because of their unique nature, are doing okay.

Excerpt:

With the Internet making it easier for individuals to explore their family history, some genealogy societies are withering away. Not so with the Jewish society, says Judy Izenberg of Framingham, one of its acting copresidents.

The society, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year, has seen its membership remain stable at 400.

Izenberg, 65, says Jews rely more on a genealogy community because they face hurdles others don’t. Persecution dispersed their ancestors throughout the world. In addition to language barriers, researchers are challenged by a lack of marriage, birth, and death records — many of which were lost in the Holocaust.

More information can be found about the website mentioned at JewishGen.org.

How Much Privacy Have We Lost?

The Hartford Courant has an article from The Chicago Tribune, How Much Privacy Have We Lost? (which I couldn’t find on the Tribune’s site), by Eric Benderoff and Jon Van, about just how much privacy we have lost in this day and age. It’s a two-page article and worth a read – even as we are happy the internet can help companies provide incredible amounts of genealogy information, they are also providing incredible amounts of personal information about living individuals.

Excerpt from the article:

Indeed, people now should assume that an extraordinary amount of personal information is readily accessible to casual acquaintances or strangers, be it the price paid for a house or the details of a nasty divorce.

A quick Google search can reveal where someone went to high school, an old resume or a casual – even catty – reference on someone’s Web log. Dig deeper, and court records and other official documents can reveal who was arrested for driving under the influence.

As courts and other agencies digitize this information, entrepreneurs have figured out how to tap into this broad database that records the private lives of everyday Americans. And in places where officials have not yet put the information online, companies have sent out workers to manually scan the documents, said Jim Dempsey, policy director at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Websites such as Abika.com, Records-search.net, Reverse records.org, and even genealogy sites, such as Ancestry.com, make this information accessible for a fee.

Microsoft Office 2007 – Try It Out

If you live and breathe Microsoft Office and/or Outlook and OneNote (and Publisher even) when it comes to correspondence, notes, presentations, biographies, etc., for your genealogy work, and you are a Windows user (or Mac with the appropriate Windows virtualization software) and interested in where Office is going, Microsoft has made the Office 2007 Beta 2 available for public users.

You can get it (and the free license keys) here: www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/getthebeta.mspx

It’s got a radical new interface, and quite a few other things have changed. It runs okay if you are using it under a Mac setup with Parallels Desktop for Mac.

It expires on February 1st, 2007. Keep in mind, it’s highly recommended you don’t use this for “production” work, i.e., don’t install over your old Office, and don’t load and save documents you have created with older versions of Office without first backing all of them up. That said, it’s interesting to see where they are going with this – obviously they are going after more online-collaboration and business, but still, it’s interesting to look at it. Personally, it doesn’t offer me anything that I absolutely need – I’ve been using other word processors for my normal word processing, and for publishing newsletters, etc., I’ve been using Apple’s Pages, but I do like to check things out.

If you don’t want to go through with downloading it or ordering it by mail, you can read eWeek’s review of it.

New Jersey Awards Counties/Municipalities Millions for Records Preservation

With all of the talk lately of states trying to close off public access to many records, we have this glimmer of good news – The Associated Press/Newsday are reporting that New Jersey has designated millions of dollars for the preservation of public records and archives. All 21 counties and 40 municipalities are set to receive the money, which can be used for everything from new employees designated for the preservation, new equipment, duplication services, and training.

New Jersey’s Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells told the Star-Ledger of Newark that it will allow them to “..adopt 21st-century technologies to drive down the cost of government records’ creation, maintenance and storage, while expanding public access..”

Good news if you are a genealogist in New Jersey or are doing genealogy research concerning New Jersey. It’d be nice to think that other states might see the benefits (among other things, they mentioned the savings it will generate to work on perserving these records now), and might even think about pulling back from trying to close off public access to public records.