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James Tanner's Blog (321)

On buying a new computer for genealogy

In the past and for many years, I owned an Apple computer store which also sold a variety of manufactures' computers (most of those early computer stores are long since out of business). Since selling off my computer store business, I continue to teach a lot of classes about genealogy programs and online resources which gives people the idea I might… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 25, 2010 at 10:38pm — No Comments

Have you looked at Community Trees? Why not?

Quoting from the Community Trees website,

Community Trees are lineage-linked genealogies from specific time periods and geographic localities around the world. The information also includes the supporting sources. Most of the

genealogies are joint projects between FamilySearch and others who live

locally or have expertise in the area or records used to create the

genealogies. Each Community Tree is a…

Added by James Tanner on August 22, 2010 at 8:01am — 1 Comment

How do we know what we know?

Genealogy is not an exact science. What we know about the historical

past and particularly our family is based on our experience. Some of the

information is likely very accurate, while it is entirely possible that

some of the things we know, or think we know, about our family are

entirely false. Whether our beliefs about our family are based in fact

or not, depends to a great extent on our system of justified beliefs,

that is, those things we "know" to be true from… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 21, 2010 at 6:14pm — No Comments

Genealogical plagiarism -- legal or moral offense?

Right out of the chute, plagiarism is not a criminal act. The closest

legal involvement is with copyright infringement or violation claims.

Certainly, extensive plagiarism is almost always also a violation of

copyright. To quote from the University of Arizona Libraries website on Avoiding Plagiarism,

"Plagiarism is using others' ideas and words without clearly

acknowledging the source of… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 15, 2010 at 7:30am — No Comments

Who can claim a copyright to old diaries, journals and letters?

Some of the most valuable documents for family history research consist

of diaries, journals and letters. From time to time, copyright issues

arise concerning these types of documents, especially if the text of the

documents or a facsimile is being published either online or in a

printed format. The first rule is that physical possession of the

documents does not confer any right to the copyright. I have found that

the possessor of the document usually incorrectly… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 13, 2010 at 9:04am — No Comments

Can I make editing changes to a document to obtain copyright protection?

This post is a continuation of the discussion in my last post, Can I obtain a copyright of a copy of an old document? The commentary is directed at websites that claim copyrights to digitized images of old documents of interest to genealogists, such as U.S. Census records, wills, deeds, maps and other such items. Let's suppose that as an attorney, I have read all…


Added by James Tanner on August 12, 2010 at 12:27pm — No Comments

Can I obtain a copyright of a copy of an old document?

Recent news releases in the genealogical community highlight additions

to more huge online databases of historic images, including private

documents such as journals, wills, maps and other such items. Many of

these images are put online by companies trying to charge a fee for some

aspect of either searching or reproducing the documents. This raises a

more than academic question, can anyone obtain copyright protection by

virtue of scanning an old documents and… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 11, 2010 at 9:08pm — No Comments

Scanners vs. Digital Cameras for preserving genealogical documents and photos

There are a number of ways to digitize documents and photographs. The

two primary ways are to use some form of a scanner or in the

alternative, some kind of digital camera. Following is a number of

digital files of the same document acquired for the computer with

different options. In each case the document was scanned or photographed

at the optimal level for the device. The file was saved as a .tif file

and the image was magnified to 200% of the original. The… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 9, 2010 at 8:07pm — No Comments

You really can find your ancestors on the Internet

One recurring question is whether or not the vast number of records

being digitized on the Internet actually increase anyone's chances of

finding their ancestors? From my standpoint the answer is a resounding

yes. This last week had proof of the possibility, one from Sinaloa,

Mexico and another from the Midwest U.S.

It has been the case for sometime that the Family History Library had a

very high percentage of the Mexican Catholic Church Parish Registers… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 8, 2010 at 10:08pm — No Comments

Notes and note taking

I was an awful note taker at the university and in law school.

Especially in law school, I would watch the other students scribble

furiously in their notebooks, so I would copy their behavior and write

copious notes from every class. There was just one problem, when I got

home and went back through my notes, they were absolutely meaningless.

It was not that I couldn't write legibly, it was just that whatever I

wrote down made no sense. I finally got to the point of… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 6, 2010 at 9:42am — No Comments

Any updates for FamilySearch?

In the BYU Continuing Education announcement of the Conference on Family

History and Genealogy recently concluded, the senior product manager

for FamilySearch, Daniel C. Lawyer, was scheduled to present "The Future of FamilySearch (Something Big is Coming Soon)"

Although there were a lot of comments about a presentation by Curt B.

Witcher on the coming Dark Ages of Genealogy and a few news accounts of

the presentation… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 2, 2010 at 8:45am — No Comments

Is a royal line back to the Middle Ages real genealogy?

In a recent comment to my statement about old royal pedigree, Martin said,

It's an incorrect opinion. You've confused two things. I don't believe in lines going back to Adam either. However, I can verify using modern genealogical standards, my line back to medieval

royalty and that royalty back to the early dark ages (about 400-600

A.D.). So it is real genealogy and real history.
Given Martin's expertise in genealogy, it is highly likely that his… Continue

Added by James Tanner on August 1, 2010 at 2:57pm — No Comments

Why there will not be a genealogical Dark Ages

There have been several comments in Blog posts about a news article

reporting a presentation given by Curt B. Witcher, the manager of The

Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library. Unfortunately, my

access to Mr. Witcher's comment come only from a Mormon Times article by Michael De Groote.

Even though I really enjoy attending the BYU… Continue

Added by James Tanner on July 30, 2010 at 5:20pm — No Comments

Are there limits to genealogical research?

Several recent conversations concerning genealogy have ended rather

suddenly, on my part, when the person claimed to have his or her

genealogy "back to Adam." I really don't have any polite way to respond

to that conclusion. I have written before about the physical

impossibility of obtaining such a lengthy pedigree, but recent

conversations have caused me to return to the subject. The real question

is where does genealogical research end as a practical and… Continue

Added by James Tanner on July 28, 2010 at 8:33pm — 2 Comments

Away with the disputes in New FamilySearch

When New FamilySearch was introduced to Mesa, Arizona back in October of

2007, one of the first things we all did was to use the dispute

function to tell the world we disagreed with their inaccurate or wrong

information in the file. I literally spent hours and hours searching

through the files, disputing all of the wrongly included children,

incorrect marriages and other issues. Over time, it became apparent that

the program had no real way to make corrections.… Continue

Added by James Tanner on July 27, 2010 at 8:51am — No Comments

Click and Claim -- the genealogy video game

In a comment to my last post, Karen of Genealogy Frame of Mind named

the activity of gathering ancestors from online databases as "Click and

Claim." I like this designation. It summarizes the video game-like

activity of going online and copying names down into a local database

without any discrimination as to the accuracy of the information and

without even knowing the identity of the individuals being added to… Continue

Added by James Tanner on July 25, 2010 at 8:28am — No Comments

The genealogy video game

During the past week or so, I had the following conversation with a

friend I was helping with his genealogy. We were using RootsMagic 4 to

look match his pedigree names with those in New FamilySearch. The

following is only slightly edited:

Me: See that green arrow in New FamilySearch? Just click on the arrow.

Friend: This shows that this person needs to be sealed to his wife.

Me: But look, there are three wives with the same name and… Continue

Added by James Tanner on July 24, 2010 at 9:52pm — No Comments

More about the iPhone 4

I am now getting used to my new iPhone 4 and I am even more impressed

than I was initially. As a side note, this particular cell phone (if you

can still call it that) is not for everyone. The iPhone is currently

supplied only through AT&T and a required data plan, plus phone

service can cost over $100 a month. We use our phones for our business

and can justify the price for the convenience. I receive calendar items,

E-mail and telephone messages instantly from… Continue

Added by James Tanner on July 21, 2010 at 6:37pm — No Comments

Why I use computers for genealogy

There are still a significant number of people who use only paper copies

of their genealogical data. The reasons for doing so, run from a lack

of computer knowledge, to comments about being better able to visualize

the information on paper. I have long since learned that I do not get

into discussions with these people about using computers. It is not

productive. I was very early in adopting computers for my genealogy,

using an… Continue

Added by James Tanner on July 20, 2010 at 9:54pm — 1 Comment

Changes to

With the upcoming BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy (BYU

Campus July 27 - 30, 2010) it is likely that FamilySearch will take the

opportunity to announce or introduce changes to either New FamilySearch or the older Website. The Website is the best candidate for changes. There has

been a Beta test of a… Continue

Added by James Tanner on June 30, 2010 at 9:44pm — 2 Comments




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