names and naming conventions
revised Jun 2008
Genealogy is most often reactionary and pietistic, which is
unfortunate. It is more interesting as real history.
Most personally annoying: the many people who ask questions, get my
data, and promise to send their genealogy info but never follow up.
I transcribed many pages of Wellfleet vital
records from the page images on a CD/fiche set, sold by a company,
and I referenced the company on each HTML page and in my database. The
company owner threatened to sue me for copyright infringement, even
though these are public records, and I was adding real value, and
publishing in a different format. So I removed all references to the
company in all my published files and database, and haven't been
further threatened. Seems like a poor business model to me, to threaten
your customers for working with public records, and remove all mention
of your company's existence.
The hundreds of shill sites and links for Ancestry.com are annoying.
I finally deleted my files on Gencircles.com - its problems were never
addressed, and it began to charge for its SmartMatch function.
Much of Rootsweb's WorldConnect is repetitive crap with no places,
dates or references. Even as stamp collecting that's pretty
I'm happy to have my data used and credited, but sites use my name
without asking, with no contact info. There are lots of
abandoned or orphan sites, with invalid contact information. Data sets
in "all caps' are virtually unreadable, and I
use them only as last resorts. Familysearch.org, the LDS site, is
worse. An awful site
It says something about the quality of genealogy research and/or the
school systems (from the "good old days") that so many many people
detailed on Rootweb are said to have been born in New England before
1620, yet were not "Indian." I can't take those databases seriously,
even when the rest seems to make sense, and I run
across that stupid error often.
Far too many people don't distinguish correctly between postal codes MA
and ME. This
gets to be a problem, since so many New England town names are
duplicated, and so
many people went back and forth among them. I think it's an excellent
habit to use full state names instead of the postal codes. Unless you
live there, it's hard to keep straight which are MA, MD, ME, MI, MN,
MO, MS, MT. The autofill functions of most software
amplifies this confusion. (Trivia: the only town name used in all 6 New
England states is Warren.)
I mostly copy the British places as given, since I know so little about
them, and there are so many peculiar ones.
HeritageQuest has lots of interesting things, but it is poorly
organized and nearly unexplained. The census images are so low quality
virtually nothing can be made out on many. The B/W microfilms of the
census were made long ago, lately turned into
even lower resolution digital images. Search features for the
census often give "no hits", when actually the census pages haven't
been indexed at all. Where are the census pages for Boston in 1800 and
1790? And all of 1880? Examples - 1840, 1850 and 1930
indexed, but you can still go
through them page by page for a given location.
Library microfilm readers produce poor quality prints - expensive and
frustrating to get images - more so for big original pages, like
the census. I
want to save the images to electronic files - anything will do - to
work on at home, but these are rare. Ideally all docs would be
re-scanned as high-res color digital images, with good OCR for the
printed docs (I have little hope for decent OCR of script for several
years, particularly when the OCR would have to work with the crappy
available microfilms.) My OCR notes.
This applies to my other historical research projects as well.
Will genealogy software make a marriage index with dates and places? It
is annoying in books to cross-correlate names, and really hard when
only a given or surname are known.
Any site with automatically opened sound files is annoying.
Most genealogists with their own sites, or on Rootsweb, claim
to welcome corrections and information, but most never reply to my
NEHGS, the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, is an
ancient and important institution for genealogy. But its online search
functions are just outright primitive, notably for its journal, NEHGR.
How about an INDEX? You don't get to specify a time frame for the person,
just for an article! A genealogy search function should always account
for locations and connected names, and NEHGR could easily give an
article title. And I haven't found its "facts" to be particularly
accurate, anyway. The resolution of the NEHGR pages online is so low
that it's often hard to distinguish 3 from 8, etc. Browsers other
than Internet Explorer are poorly supported.
The Great Migration Begins is a valuable NEHGS project,
looking at the first waves of immigrants to New England. But there are
obvious errors in it, it's on-line version is poorly formatted, and
there's no easy way to inquire or complain. [eg Thomas Lombard family]
GMB seems to take a most skeptical approach to linkages. I appreciate
that, but it should also include more of the suspect material on the
My genealogy software is Legacy 5.0. I'm used to it, but it could be a
lot better. It's buggy, it crashes, many features are hard to find and
use, its Search capacity is poor. Tech support usually answers,
promising the next version will fix things, or misunderstanding my
question, or pointing out some hidden features..
I want a portable scanner that would work with ambient light, big
enough for most books and magazines, conformable to non-flat books. A
new version of the obsolete type that one ran down a page, perhaps,
maybe as a
wand, with software to rectify the scan, or a transparent/translucent
thin plate to insert/lay on a book. Something that wouldn't damage the
books mechanically or with bright light, something librarians could
Some of my documents of interest have many pages written in ink that is
faded to near or actual invisibility. Seems like modern photo and
forensic techniques could recover some of these.
Many scans have bleed-through from the other side of the paper. It
would seem relatively easy for imaging software to subtract out that
(requiring a scan of both sides of course.) Haven't tried, but I assume
be done manually with major difficulty, with the major problem being to
align the images. Color images to work with would make this much
easier, I think.