Archive for ‘Musings’

April 5, 2013

AP Kielce, An Inventory of the National Archive in Kielce, Poland — #Genealogy, #Polish, #Archive

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

APKielce

From a forum at genealodzy.pl  Stanczyk saw a PDF document mentioned. When I looked at it, I saw it was an inventory (in progress) of the holdings of  the National Archive in Kielce (AP w Kielcach). So I have produced a condensed version of their work-in-progress. Yes, most of these are related to Stanczyk’s family tree. For their complete inventory list (which was 424 items), see the link (URL) at the bottom of this table.

Now I mention this particular AP (National Archive) because it is the archive that covers the Russian-Poland partition that my ancestors were from. There may be other inventories for other archives.

AP KIELCE

 # Nr zespołu – # Rec. Group Stan na dzień (as of) 2013-02-01 Nazwa daty skrajne – date range księgi – books metry ilość sfotografowanych ksiąg – number of books photographed ilość zrobionych zdjęć – number of photos taken Braki – deficiencies
1 388 Beszowa 1875-1911 54 71 58 3770 oddział Sandomierz
2 341 Biechów 1875-1908 55 0.83 55 2 538
3 146 Kazimierza Wielka 112 1.03
4 353 Oleśnica 1875-1911 61 0.97 69 3 506
5 812 Opatów 1825,1890-1906 14 0.39 11 2369 oddział Sandomierz
6 152 Opatów 120 1.31
7 658 Opatów-gr 1834-1836 4 0.04 4 36 oddział Sandomierz
8 44 Opatów-moj 1831-1910 46 0.95 47 6860 oddział Sandomierz
9 814 Opatów-pr 1896-1915 19 0.23 20 573 oddział Sandomierz
10 871 Ożarów 1890-1910 3 0.06 4 445 oddział Sandomierz
11 45 Ożarów-moj 1826-1909 43 0.61 43 3419 oddział Sandomierz
12 355 Pacanów 1875-1908 62 0.91 64 3 703
13 373 Pacanów moj 51 0.76
14 245 Połaniec 1810-1910 106 2.05 106 12507 oddział Sandomierz
15 252 Połaniec-moj 1826-1910 88 0.99 92 3425 oddział Sandomierz
16 246 Staszów 1810-1910 103 1.65 103 10146 oddział Sandomierz
17 253 Staszów-moj 1826-1910 84 1.33 86 6236 oddział Sandomierz
18 362 Stopnica 48 0.88
19 374 Stopnica moj 46 1.29
20 582 Stopnica pr 3 0.02
21 97 Tumlin 189 1.67
22 370 Zborówek 1875-1908 58 0.66 65 2 295

Source: http://s6.genealodzy.pl/pliki/asc/apkielce.pdf

I tried to provide a reasonable translation (using Google Translator with some hand-tweaks) of the Polish Column Headings in English.

LEGEND (3rd Column):

A suffix of moj or -moj indicates Jewish records.

pr – Orthodox Catholic

ew – Evangelical

gr – Greek Orthodox

The rest (or any with  rk) would indicate Roman Catholic.

I believe the Column Heading METRY indicates the actual shelf space of storage this record group physically occupies. I believe the units would be in Meters (m). Remember Europe uses ‘,’ where America uses a decimal point. Some appear to be missing the decimal point. In most cases, it appears that Excel has translated the comma to decimal point, but if you look at the source document, you should be aware of this cultural difference.

April 4, 2013

Archiwum Państwowe w Suwałkach in Szukajwarchiwach.PL — #Genealogy, #Polish

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Over the last few weeks we have been discussing about Szukajwarchiwach.pl, the Polish website for “searching in archives” of the 2.4 Million Archive Images of historical vital records. So today we will look at the Suwalki Archive (Archive #63,  http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/63#tabZasoby), in particular the WIZAJNY parish in which this jester has previously plumbed (for NARKIEWICZ / SZCZESNY).

WizajnySuwalki

First off, please take note of the two red circles in the image. The first red circle around the drop down menu is set to ’15′ by default. I usually choose the drop down value ’100′. This drop down menu controls how many ‘Units’ are displayed on each page.  So in order to minimize the number of pages and to maximize the number of items on each page, I routinely pick the ’100′ from the drop down on each page.

Second, I was searching for WIZAJNY parish, But what I got/found was WIZAJNACH. You need to learn to recognize the root of the proper names/nouns in Polish. Fred Hoffman/Jonathan Shea call this applying the “chopping block” to get to the root of a word. So in the second red circle we find Wizajnach. That is the unit we wish to search.

Now notice the last column shows ’5124′ (on 3 April 2013). This number is the number of “sheets” that have been scanned. So you should think images. The concept to take away is that if you see a ZERO, then there is nothing scanned; Try again later.  But in our case we should expect 5,124 images were scanned across the year range:  1808-1905.

If you want to follow along, I picked the year 1822 which 86 scanned images and selected ’100′ scanned images from the drop down which effectively shows all 86 scans one page. These 86 images are actually “thumbnail” images that you click on to see …

Wizany1822Births

At the bottom of the image are two circles/icons. The ‘Z’ circle gives you a kind of magnifying glass for seeing a small part of the image, zoomed-in.

It is the other icon that we wish to click on (the square with the arrows at each corner, left of the ‘Z’). This icon left of the ‘Z’ pops up a window of the image more full sized. This full-sized image can be interacted with, zooming or panning or dragging the image around the viewing window. Please, note that at the bottom of this pop-up viewer window is a link you can click on to ‘Download‘ the scanned image to your hard-drive. So when you find your ancestor, you can download his/her scanned vital record.

Before I bring this post to a close. I wanted to point out how you can find the indexes (usually after the last record). This era of the 1820′s, the indexes are usually alphabetical with one letter per index page. So these kind of indexes look as shown below. You need to find the ‘Akt #’ in the index and then go to the scan that has the image of this Akt. The Akt #’s are on the outside of each image. They are on the left for the left-hand page and on the right for the right-hand page in the image scans.

IndexPages

As I mentioned in a prior blog article, the Wizajny parish is amazingly complete. It was also interesting because its records switch over in mid-year 1868. So you can see the records in Polish in early 1868, then in Russian starting in mid 1868. There are no Wizajny or even Suwalki records in genealodzy.pl (Metryk or Geneszukach) databases.

JEWISH GENEALOGISTS

Zydow

Please note that in the Napoleonic era (about 1807-1829), the Catholic parishes in Poland  were required to record the vital records for all faiths. So you will find Jewish birth / marriage / death records in the Catholic parishes books, if there were Jewish families in that area. For example, Akt #39 appears to be a Jewish birth record. Usually that is indicated in the text, but I did not see in Akt #39, BUT … if you look to the right of the record at the image on the left  (you will see a ‘Zydow’ column with a ’1′ in it) …

Prior Related Stanczyk Articles …

A Guide for Using Szukajwarchiwach.PL Poradnik

Polish State Archives – Numbers

Russian Poland 1867-1875

April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday … Polish Historical Calendar — #April, #Polish, #Historical, #Calendar

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

  • 3 April/Kwiecień 2013 Dateline Philadelphia - Stanczyk,

Kalendarz Historyczny Polski (Kwiecień)

Polish Historical Calendar

April 1st – Death of Zygmunt I (King), 2nd – Death of Andrzej Leszczynski (Archbishop of Gniezno).

Hmmm, the month starts ominously. This jester likes that on the 20th- Krakow Cathedral (Church Blessing/Consecration, at founding?). A Good Day Indeed!

April 2, 2013

Jan III Sobieski … — Things I Find Whilst Looking Up Other Things

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Chocim 1673

Jan III Sobieski – Victorius at Chocim 1673

Stanczyk ,

AngelicCrownOfVictory is a big fan of Jan III Sobieski. Today’s meme, a continuing meme in this blog came about because Valerie Warunek had posted about Digital Library of Polish and Poland Related News Pamplets.  That mention of a new library launched me on another research adventure. When I was looking up other things in Leszno, for Hyam Salomon, I found a Latin text related to Jan Sobieski. This jester loves Jan Sobieski’s letters, particularly those to his beloved wife. This document recounted his victory of 1673 of the Battle of Chocim and was a missive to the pope. This would be a pattern for  King Jan III ‘s future battles — letters before and after battle. After the battle, a missive was sent to the pope. King Jan III was a good Catholic monarch.

He claimed the Triumphant Crown in the Name of Poland and the Polish Eagle.

Triumphant_AquilaPolona

My Latin is not sufficient to render the phrase to the left (I see Polish Eagle = Aquila Polona). But it was signed the Dragon.

Hmmm. Interesting.  I know the Transylvanians aided Jan III Sobieski. But I am supposing this is a reference to the Order of the Dragon, a monarchic chivalric order meant to defend Europe’s Christians (from the Ottoman Empire). This battle is a good 100 years after Vlad Tepes (“The Impaler”) aka known as Dracula, son of the Dragon (Vlad II). Vlad II was a member of the Order of the Dragon, but his son Vlad Tepes was not a member of the order. So my thesis is that Jan III Sobieski was a member of the monarchic Order or the Dragon. Note that Wladyslaw II (Jagiellonian dynasty — possible Columbus grandfather) was also a member. So perhaps there was a strong connection of this chivalric order to the kings of Poland.

So here are a list of (source: Wikipedia) …

Monarchic Chivalric Orders:

  • Late medieval monarchical orders (14th & 15th centuries attached to a monarch):
Order of Saint George, founded by Charles I of Hungary in 1325
Order of the Band, founded by Alfonso XI of Castile in ca. 1330
Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III of England in 1348
Order of the Star, founded by John II of France in 1351
Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, founded by Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy in 1362.
Order of the Ermine, founded by John V, Duke of Brittany in 1381: 1st order to accept Women.
Order of the Dragon, founded by Sigismund of Hungary in 1408.
Order of the Golden Fleece, founded by Philip III, Duke of Burgundy in 1430
Order of St Michel, founded by Louis XI of France in 1469
  • Post-medieval foundations of chivalric orders:
Order of Saint Stephen (1561)
Order of the Holy Spirit (1578)
Blood of Jesus Christ (military order) (1608)
Order of the Thistle (1687)
Order of Saint Louis (1694)
Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary (1764)
Order of St. Patrick (1783)
Order of Saint Joseph (1807)
  • Monarchical orders whose monarch no longer reigns but continues to bestow the order:
Order of the Golden Fleece (Austrian branch)
Order of the Holy Spirit
Order of Prince Danilo I (Montenegro)
Order of Saint Peter (Cetinje)
Royal Order of Saint George for the Defense of the Immaculate Conception (Bavaria)
Order of the Crown (Romania)
Order of Carol I (Romania)
Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa (Portugal)
Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (Two Sicilies)
Order of the Eagle of Georgia (Georgia)
April 1, 2013

World Backup Day

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

1 April 2013 – Dateline Philadelphia

Yes, this jester knows its April Fool’s day; But who better than a jester to speak truth to the people (uh … genealogists, librarians, archivists, & researchers) on this day? The first of April has become the impetus for backup and preservation.

20130401-051142.jpg

You need only look at today’s world of crazy dictators or Mali terrorists to see that cultural/historical artifacts can disappear in an instant. Cyberwarfare can claim your harddisk. The cloud could crash or hurricane Sandy can happen (please donate to Ellis island Foundation to help in that restoration effort). Libraries and Archives need to safeguard your artifacts too! Are you motivated yet? Good!

There are backup solutions, including some free options to the “cloud”. Apple even provides a free 5GB iCloud. So save your GEDCOM file. If you still have free space then backup pictures or scans that are CRITICAL. You can save/backup to media: CDs, USB thumb drives, etc. But be aware that backup to electronic media needs to be refreshed yearly to avoid stranding your backups on outmoded technology (i.e. 8Track tapes or even floppy disks).

Be careful out there and have a Happy April Fool’s Day!

March 28, 2013

Mailbag … A New Missive — #Genealogy Email

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

From the Post Office Department

From the Post Office Department

I was going though the mailbag and I received the following missive:

therealbetty commented on A Guide for Using Szukajwarchiwach.PL Poradnik — #Polish, #Archive, #Guide, #Poradnik

Thanks for all your work on this! I tried to check your list of towns and I would like records from the Przeciszow and Oswiecim area in Malopolskie. Am I out of luck this time around as I could not find them? I am assuming that area is in the Krakow archives.

Well therealbetty, thanks for writing again! That is a very good question. I went back and looked at the NAC’s PDF document that listed Archives/Parishes being put online:

http://nac.gov.pl/files/D’ASC1_02_2013v.3.pdf

I did not see Oswiecim (aka Auschwitz) listed. To be sure it was a parish, I looked it up in a Gazetteer [Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i Innych Krajów Słowiańskich (The Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland & Other Slavic Countries)  -- see my Gazetteer page]:

OswiecimParish

It says the Roman Catholic (r) is in Oswiecim (i.e. “loco”), the Greek Catholic/Orthodox is in Krakow and the Evangelical parish is in Biala. This is the Oswiecim you mentioned as you can see it is in Wojewodztwo (old woj.) Krakow, Powiat Biala, Gmina Oswiecim. (2nd-4th columns).

So, unfortunately, the short answer to your question is, “No, Oswiecim and Przeciszow are not in this release of online records.”

Przeciszow was in Wojewodztwo (old woj.) Krakow, Powiat Wadowice, Gmina Przeciszow and it is a parish too, as you probably knew.

–Stanczyk

March 27, 2013

A Guide for Using Szukajwarchiwach.PL Poradnik — #Polish, #Archive, #Guide, #Poradnik

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has been writing for a while about Polish National Archives announcing via their National Digital Archive (NAC) that Poland would be putting 2.4 Million digital images of church / synagogue metric images from their regional archives online. So today’s blog post is a guide (poradnik) about how to use szukajwarchiwach.pl to view these images.

It is easiest if you know the regional archive you are interested in, but you do not need to know it really. I will demonstrate with the RZESZOW regional archive. This archive was in Austrian-Poland partition, so its records should be for those locales to Rzeszow. Recall from my post, Polish State Archives – Numbers (13 March 2013) where I listed the archive numbers, that Rzeszow = 59.

Œ Œ

Step By Step


Step_1Step One

            Go to the archive of interest - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59#tabInformacje

You should see the web site with the information for the Rzeszow regional Archive.

Rzeszow_Step_01_02

Notice the two links: Poprzednie archiwum  and Następne archiwum . With these two links you go through the list of regional archives. The list of archives only includes those archives for which they are presently loading images. If you hover over my two links above you will see ‘Previous Archive’ and ‘Next Archive’.

Step_2

Step Two

            Click on ‘Resource’ [see 2 in red circle] –  which brings you to the list of collections at Rzeszow. http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59#tabZasoby

You should see …

Rzeszow_Step_02

Step_3

Step Three

 Click on Collection Number ‘59/20/0‘ for the civil records from the Roman Catholic parish of Błażowej - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59/20/0#tabZespol

You should see …

Rzeszow_Step_03

Step_4

Step Four

Click on ‘Units 20/20‘ in red circle - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59/20/0#tabJednostki

You should see …

Rzeszow_Step_04

Step_5

Step Five

Click on ‘Reference Code 59/20/0/-/1‘ in red circle - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59/20/0/-/1#tabJednostka

You should see …

Rzeszow_Step_05

Step_6

Step Six

Click on ‘Digital Copies 107‘ to see a table of 107 scanned images - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59/20/0/-/1#tabSkany

You should now see the scanned images …

Rzeszow_Step_06

There are 107 images [currently] and the data looks like it is in the Latin Box format. Since there is no index, you will have visit each image in turn and look at each row of boxes to see if that birth/baptism is for one of your ancestors.

So that is a visual guide for how you navigate the  szukajwarchiwach.pl website to get to the scanned images. Obviously, you will need to focus on the villages/parishes for your ancestor. That may be another Archive (besides Rzeszow) or if it is in the Rzeszow archive then you need to pay closer attention to the parishes in the Rzeszow collections and finally, you will need to select Birth/Marriage/Death (Urodziny/Małżeństwo/Zgony) for the year of interest to you.

You will still need to be able to deal with Latin or Polish or Russian or German language in the records to understand what you see in the scanned images. You will also need to be able to read the handwriting. But you can do this!

Good Luck!

March 26, 2013

Cristobal Colon (Discoverer Formerly Known as Columbus) … Polish-Lithuanian & Italian Noble — #Genealogy, #Polish, #Lithuanian

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Rosa_InPAStanczyk loves this story. That the discoverer formerly known as Christopher Columbus (who really should be known by his Portuguese name: Cristobal Colon) may be Polish-Lithuanian royalty.

Stanczyk has written a few times on this Columbus / Wladyslaw III genealogy-genetics-history riddle. The Don Quixote of this tale is Manuel Rosa (an an information technology analyst and amateur historian). Mr. Rosa’s claims of the Polish (or more properly Lithuanian, as in Jagiellonian) Wladyslaw III lineage date back to November 2010.

Prior Stanczyk Polish Columbus stories …

1. 02-December-2010 – Christopher Columbus Discovers … He Is POLISH!

2. 27-December-2010 – Wladislaw III – Father of Columbus

Plus a few mentions: 2011, & 2012 at the start of Polish Heritage Month (each October).

Well here is the latest update, from “the Lithuania Tribune“. You can read the lengthy article which is most informative.

Factual Claims:

  • Rosa has published two books (one in Spanish and one in Polish). NO English version yet.
  • Columbus married Filipa Moniz Perestrelo. Filipa was not only daughter of a high noble and Captain of the Portuguese Island of Porto Santo, but a member of the elite Portuguese Military Order of Santiago
  • Cristobal Colon’s noble wife: Filipa Moniz was one of the twelve elite “donnas” of the Portuguese Military Order of Santiago.
  • Colon was descended from legendary Roman General Colonius (not listed in wikipedia List of Roman Generals )
  • Columbus never wrote in Italian or Genoese [not even to his brothers]
  • Columbus’ writings were: rough Castilian punctuated by noteworthy and frequent Portuguese words
  • Prof. José Lorente’s DNA studies prove that the discoverer Cristóbal Colón’s DNA did not match any of 477 Colombo families from the Genoa area.
  • Colón was a royal prince, son of a Portuguese noblewoman from the Italian Colonna family and a man named Henrique Alemão (Henry the German) resident on the Portuguese island of Madeira
  • Henrique Alemão (Henry the German) = false moniker of Wladyslaw III used for hiding on Madiera Island (presumably from the Ottomans)
  • 1498 Will and later Genoese documents proved to be forgeries/fakes
  • Prince Georges Paleologue de Bissipat, an exiled Byzantine nobleman living in France nicknamed “Colombo the Younger”, said to be a relative of Christopher Columbus was also a relative of King Wladyslaw III

The author laments (“… it is lamentable that, up until now, there is little or no debate in America or Lithuania to either accept or contradict”) that only Portuguese and Polish academics have currently debated this topic. Well then Rosa needs to have published/translated the book in Lithuanian and English if he wishes for further debate.

Are there any historians out there? Can anyone refute or supply proof of the above factual claims? Columbus letters and their language should be easy to establish. What about these other people named: General[Roman] Colonius, Portuguese nobles related to Filipa Moniz Perestrelo, or Prince Georges Paleologue de Bissipat ? Come on European Historians help out this poor jester with some factual links or books/documents — so much is online these days.

The next Manuel Rosa appearance is: April 6, 2013, where Manuel Rosa will present a lecture at Boalsburg’s Columbus Chapel, (http://www.boalmuseum.com/columbus-lecture.html) where more evidence will be presented, in Boalsburg, PA which is North-West of Harrisburg (contact: contact 814-466-9266 or office@boalmuseum.com).

I’d love to have this story proven true or false. It is time for the sensationalism to end. Did National Geo ever televise this story as reported earlier? This jester never saw it. What happened with the Colon DNA being compared to Wladyslaw III descendants? So far we only have that he is not related to Colombos who are Genoese. But since he had Roman heritage, I presume he has some Italian DNA. What about the Slavic DNA? Those pesky Slavic DNA markers are pretty different from Italian DNA markers. I am hoping we have Y-Chromosome DNA testing which should show Slavic markers and MT DNA testing which should show Italian/Portuguese markers.

I accept that Cristobal Colon must have had royal blood to marry a noble woman and have such access to European courts. I also accept that a noble man would have had the education that a peasant wool-worker could never have had. I am uncertain about the heraldic symbols. The rest I am unqualified to judge — hence the plea for help.

March 25, 2013

A BANAS marriage record from the METRYK project …

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

BANASThis bit of blog is for Michelle Ann Kratts.

банас =  BANAS . The first set of characters(банас) is the RUSSIAN written in CYRILLIC characters.  Look at the name in the RED Boxes in the image. This is a marriage record (#9 from 1869 in STASZOW powiat of old wojewodztwo Kielce/Kieleckie):

http://metryki.genealodzy.pl/metryka.php?ar=7&zs=0246d&sy=161&kt=2&plik=08-09.jpg

From the METRYK project on the PTG website (genealodzy.pl). You need to know how BANAS/банас looks in Indexes so that you can find your family records. Archaic Russian Cyrillic handwriting is difficult to read. The Russians reformed the CYRLLIC character set in 1918, so they no longer write Russian like you see in these church records — so Russian Language experts may struggle a bit. I taught myself to read Russian from the Hoffman/Shea book, I am far from fluent in Russian, but I have mastered enough Russian to read genealogy records (with their limited vocabulary). You can too!

I wanted to mention that you see Janem Banasiem (Latin for the Polish name Jan Banas ) following the Russian version of that name. That and the ‘Maryanna Glibowna’ are the only little bits written in the Latin alphabet, the rest are written in Russian, using the CYRILLIC character set.

As you may or may not know the ‘-owna’ ending on Maryanna’s name indicates she is an unmarried maiden. So her name is really Maryanna GLIB (not GLIBOWNA). The ‘owna’ ending is a grammatical construct. OWNA (single woman) – OWA (married woman) -KICH or -OW (family name plural).

In my family:

ELIJASZ (a man), ELIJASZOWNA (an umarried woman), ELIJASZOWA (a married woman), ELIJASZOW (the ELIJASZ family).  I record the name as ELIJASZ in the family tree. Actually, my family name has evolved a bit so I find it as: ELIASZ or ELIJASZ or ELJASZ or HELIASZ . Sometimes a priest will leave off the ‘Z’.

I do not think the BANAS name will show such variation, but you never know. I could imagine finding a BANAC  or BANASZ too. In practice, I have always seen your name written as:

BANAS/банас

–Stanczyk

March 24, 2013

Gazetteers, Maps, and Genealogy — #Polish, #Genealogy, #Maps, #Gazetteer

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Block_Stanczyk, has been busy revisiting the Metryk (metrical, vital records) images from genealodzy.pl of the various parishes/synagogues [hereafter I just use 'parish' as shorthand for 'parish/synagogue']. As my blog, Waiting For Polish Archives 2.4 M Scans (March 18th, 2013), indicated, I have been exhausting the possibilities for Biechow & Zborowek parishes in the Buski (Busko-Zdroj) powiat. The images are clearer, so I am replacing my existing images with these much better images. In some cases, I have found that the images of the Polish paragraph format provide me with additional details over what may have been available via only a Latin Box format copy that I might have previously had. At the very least, I have corrected a few mistakes of translation due to unreadable portions from prior microfilm I have read from/taken pictures of. So I strongly encourage others to make this effort.

I have been using the Metryk database and looking at the images/scans. Sometimes you have to look at dozens of images because there is NO index. But most of the collection (post 1812) have indexes. If you see SKU (that means index/skorowidz of births/urodziny), likewise  for SKM (for marriage), and SKZ (for death) indexes. Sometimes indexes spread across multiple pages, so you may see SK1, SKa (names begining with the letter ‘A’) or SKU1, etc. SO use these indexes to look for your family names, then just load up the scan of the akt (record) number for your ancestor — no need to search  through a multitude of images.

I have also used Geneszukacz as another kind of index to search for family names. These indexes are nice because I can catch ancestors getting married (or dying or giving birth) in another parish that I might not have known to check. If this previously unknown parish is one that has scans, then I go directly to the year/event for that parish and go to the akt specified in Geneszukacz!

So that is all great and I exhort you to do this.

But these new, previously unknown parishes. Where are they? How far away from the ancestral village are they? That is when I need a gazetteer (check out Stanczyk’s Gazetter page) or a map. If you have not been to the Polish War Map Archive (Archiwum Map Wojskowego), then today’s blog is your reason to do so. I have a map on my wall of my ancestral villages. The map’s name is: STOPNICA_PAS47_SLUP32. In fact, I use their MAP INDEX, 1:100,000 scale map tiled in squares (http://igrek.amzp.pl/mapindex.php?cat=WIG100). Please NOTE these map images are from about 4MB to 7MB in size. Make sure you are at a Free WiFi cafe where you can use a high-speed and the large band-width for the map images you download.

When you see, PAS think ROW and when you see SLUP think COLUMN. This is a big Cartesian Grid (or computer types can think 2d-array). It turns out that STOPNICA_PAS47_SLUP32 has: Biechow, Pacanow, Ksiaznice, Zborowek, Swiniary, Szczucin, Beszowa, Olesnica, and STOPNICA. In fact, that one map has many more parishes than those that I enumerated. I have a small snippet of the Map Index below (you can click on the image and it will take you to the actual map index):

MapIndex_MapyWig

So I found an ELIJASZ ancestor in Koniemloty parish getting married, who was from PACANOW parish. Now from the Metryk web app, I knew Koniemloty was in STASZOW powiat. So I go to the Map Index and look at the grid near STOPNICA (P47_S32) and voila, STASZOW is the box due north of STOPNICA in PAS46_SLUP32. If you cannot locate you powiat that way, then you must drop back to MAPA.SZUKACZ.pl (an interactive map that I have raved about before) and look for KONIEMLOTY (do not need to use diacriticals) to get the relative feel that it is north or east (or north-east). So any way, STASZOW_PAS46_SLUP32 is the map for KONIEMLOTY parish. Notice PAS46 is one row less than PAS47 (of STOPNICA). PAS decreasing is going north, PAS increasing is going south. Going east from STASZOW, we see the SLUP increases to SLUP33  (SANDOMIERZ) or going west the SLUP decreases to SLUP31 (PINCZOW). So now you can now work  with the Map Index using the cardinal directions by adding/subtracting to/from the rows/columns.

P.S. Since this is the Passover (Pesach) / Easter (Wielkanoc) season, let me honor my wife (Tereza) by pointing out that her paternal grandfather, Benjamin Solomon, had as a birth village, Proskuriw (aka PŁOSKIRÓW, Хмельницький/Khmelnitski – now in Modern Ukraine). This village is shown in the lower right-hand corner of my map snippet (PAS51_SLUP44).

March 21, 2013

RootsTech 2013 … — #Genealogy, #RootsTech, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

iGoogle

iGoogle as customized for Stanczyk

Today is the start of RootsTech 2013. So in honor of the conference I will blog today about  Genealogy, and Technology.

Last year Google announced it was getting rid of iGoogle and now this week it said it was getting rid of its RSS Reader (hence probably why they announced iGoogle was going away). So I have decided how I will replace these two tools in my portable genealogy toolbox. My Solution … the FlipBoard app.

FlipBoard

FlipboardThe screenshot above (at the top) shows a portion of my iGoogle (still available until July). As you can surmise, I used it as a newspaper dashboard for keeping me abreast of the genealogy news in my focus areas. You may have noticed it is quite TEXTUAL. As such, it lacks appeal and ease of scanability. This is where Flipboard app comes in.  Now Stanczyk was not using Google’s Reader … that is directly. I think iGoogle probably was a tool that used its own Reader (RSS feeds). It gave me the ability to have a genealogy dashboard (or portal as we used to say). Flipboard will however import your Google Reader. There are other alternatives like Pulse or even WordPress that can import your RSS subscriptions for you. But this jester likes FlipBoard.

As you see, Flipboard is visually appealing and easily, quickly scanable. What you may not realize that these Flipboard “blocks” are the same feeds I had in the iGoogle tool. However, now my Eastman Online Genealogy and my GenealogyBlog are visual. Notice I was able to also get my Ancestry Member Connect Activity feed too! So I have everything I had before in a kind of retro “Life Magazine” visually appealing way  updated for the Internet age ! I actually think of Flipboard as my Internet Magazine that is finely attuned to MY interests. But as you see, you can use it as your genealogy dashboard of what is going on currently in genealogy (or any topic you are interested in).

You may not have noticed in the Flipboard image, I have my own blog in the lower left corner. When you click on that “block” it takes to my “section”. Where my own blog posts are very attractively displayed in the Flipboard magazine style. Very nice!

FlipBoardStanczykBlog

Flipboard runs on your smartphone or your tablet. I really like how it looks on the tablet (iPad in my case). Seeing my blog in Flipboard changed my style of writing a blog. I wanted my blog posts to look good and be visually appealing in Flipboard. So now I take some extra measures to make sure it will  look good, but I have to admit that Flipboard does most of the work and it does make your blog look good.

Flipboard can take your Twitter feed, or Facebook or Blog or even a custom RSS Feed like my Ancestry Member Connect Activity. It even takes Flickr or LinkedIn or just about anything you may use in your social networking / media creation world.

So I am no longer sad that iGoogle or the underlying Google Reader are going away. I have evolved and I am using Flipboard and I am much happier. I can keep tabs and I can keep informed and I am frequently entertained too. What a great app!

Hey add “Stanczyk Internet Muse” to your Flipboard. Enjoy RootsTech 2013 too!

March 19, 2013

Polish State Archives – Numbers — #Genealogy, #Polish, #Archives

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Polish State Archives (Archiwum)

The Polish State Archives via the National Digital Archives (NAC) recently announced the plans to release 2.4 Million scans of metrical book records online. In order to use this database (http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/) you will need to know the Archive’s number of the Regional State Archive that you are interested in (i.e. the Archive that has the data/scans of your ancestral village).

Stanczyk could not locate such a list. So this jester created one. Knowing that the IZA had a drop down menu of Archives,  I went there. Sure enough it had the archives … and the archive’s number. But it was a drop down menu and I could not copy/paste from the drop down menu. How could I get the data?

I put on my propeller beanie and it occurred to me that the HTML of the web page would have that data for the menu. So I looked at the page source and voila. After some editing to remove HTML tags I built the required list for all of to use with the new 2.4 Million records in http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/.

The list is below. One note, I notice that the list is out of date in the sense that there are regional archives that no longer exist. For example, I know to my own pain, that the Kielce regional state archive (Kielce Panstowe) office (oddzial) in Pinczow  (#23 in the list) was closed and the records moved to Kielce (the main office, #21). So please take note of this, as I am sure it happened to other offices as well.

Here is the PDF of the listed parishes/synagogues being scanned (for March):

http://nac.gov.pl/files/D’ASC1_02_2013v.3.pdf

Archive Number List

1 Archiwum Glówne Akt Dawnych (1)
2 Archiwum Akt Nowych (2)
4 Archiwum Panstwowe w Bialymstoku (4)
5 Archiwum Panstwowe w Bialymstoku Oddzial w Lomzy (5)
6 Archiwum Panstwowe w Bydgoszczy (6)
8 Archiwum Panstwowe w Czestochowie (8)
9 Archiwum Panstwowe w Elblagu z siedziba w Malborku (9)
10 Archiwum Panstwowe w Gdansku (10)
11 Archiwum Panstwowe w Kaliszu (11)
12 Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach (12)
13 Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach Oddzial w Bielsku-Bialej (13)
14 Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach Oddzial w Cieszynie (14)
15 Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach Oddzial w Gliwicach (15)
16 Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach Oddzial w Oswiecimiu (16)
17 Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach Oddzial w Pszczynie (17)
18 Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach Oddzial w Raciborzu (18)
20 Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach Oddzial w Zywcu (20)
21 Archiwum Panstwowe w Kielcach (21)
22 AP w Kielcach Oddzial w Jedrzejowie – Oddzial zlikwidowany, akta przeniesione do AP K… (22)
23 AP w Kielcach Oddzial w Pinczowie – Oddzial zlikwidowany, akta przeniesione do AP Kie… (23)
24 Archiwum Panstwowe w Kielcach Oddzial w Sandomierzu (24)
25 AP w Kielcach Oddzial w Starachowicach – Oddzial zlikwidowany, akta przeniesione do A… (25)
26 Archiwum Panstwowe w Koszalinie (26)
27 Archiwum Panstwowe w Koszalinie Oddzial w Slupsku (27)
28 Archiwum Panstwowe w Koszalinie Oddzial w Szczecinku (28)
29 Archiwum Narodowe w Krakowie (29)
30 Archiwum Narodowe w Krakowie Oddzial w Bochni (30)
31 Archiwum Narodowe w Krakowie Oddzial w Nowym Saczu (31)
33 Archiwum Narodowe w Krakowie Oddzial w Tarnowie (33)
34 Archiwum Panstwowe w Lesznie (34)
39 Archiwum Panstwowe w Lodzi (39)
41 Archiwum Panstwowe w Lodzi Oddzial w Sieradzu (41)
42 Archiwum Panstwowe w Olsztynie (42)
45 Archiwum Panstwowe w Opolu (45)
48 Archiwum Panstwowe w Piotrkowie Trybunalskim (48)
49 Archiwum Panstwowe w Piotrkowie Trybunalskim Oddzial w Tomaszowie Mazowieckim (49)
50 Archiwum Panstwowe w Plocku (50)
51 Archiwum Panstwowe w Plocku Oddzial w Kutnie (51)
52 Archiwum Panstwowe w Plocku Oddzial w Leczycy (52)
56 Archiwum Panstwowe w Przemyslu (56)
58 Archiwum Panstwowe w Radomiu (58)
59 Archiwum Panstwowe w Rzeszowie (59)
60 Archiwum Panstwowe w Rzeszowie Oddzial w Sanoku (60)
61 AP w Rzeszowie Oddzial w Skolyszynie – Oddz. zlikwidowany, akta przeniesione do AP Rz… (61)
62 Archiwum Panstwowe w Siedlcach (62)
63 Archiwum Panstwowe w Suwalkach (63)
64 Archiwum Panstwowe w Suwalkach Oddzial w Elku (64)
65 Archiwum Panstwowe w Szczecinie (65)
66 Archiwum Panstwowe w Gorzowie Wielkopolskim (66)
67 Archiwum Panstwowe w Szczecinie Oddzial w Miedzyzdrojach (67)
68 Archiwum Panstwowe w Szczecinie Oddzial w Stargardzie Szczecinskim (68)
69 Archiwum Panstwowe w Toruniu (69)
71 Archiwum Panstwowe w Toruniu Oddzial we Wloclawku (71)
72 Archiwum Panstwowe m.st. Warszawy (72)
73 Archiwum Panstwowe m.st. Warszawy Oddzial w Grodzisku Mazowieckim (73)
75 Archiwum Panstwowe m.st. Warszawy Oddzial w Lowiczu (75)
76 Archiwum Panstwowe m.st. Warszawy Oddzial w Mlawie (76)
78 Archiwum Panstwowe m.st. Warszawy Oddzial w Otwocku (78)
79 Archiwum Panstwowe m.st. Warszawy Oddzial w Pultusku (79)
82 Archiwum Panstwowe we Wroclawiu (82)
83 Archiwum Panstwowe we Wroclawiu Oddzial w Jeleniej Górze (83)
84 Archiwum Panstwowe we Wroclawiu Oddzial w Kamiencu Zabkowickim (84)
85 Archiwum Panstwowe we Wroclawiu Oddzial w Legnicy (85)
86 Archiwum Panstwowe we Wroclawiu Oddzial w Lubaniu (86)
88 Archiwum Panstwowe w Zamosciu (88)
89 Archiwum Panstwowe w Zielonej Górze z siedziba w Starym Kisielinie (89)
90 Archiwum Panstwowe w Zielonej Górze Oddzial w Wilkowie (90)
91 Archiwum Panstwowe w Zielonej Górze Oddzial w Zarach (91)
93 Archiwum Panstwowe w Gdansku Oddzial w Gdyni (93)
307 Muzeum Pierwszych Piastów na Lednicy (307)
309 Archiwum Uniwersytetu Mikolaja Kopernika w Toruniu (309)
324 Stowarzyszenie Archiwum Solidarnosci (324)
325 Zarzad Oddzialu Zwiazku Sybiraków w Lodzi (325)
327 Glówna Biblioteka Lekarska im. Stanislawa Konopki (327)
701 Instytut Józefa Pilsudskiego w Ameryce (701)
702 Polski Instytut Naukowy w Nowym Jorku. Biblioteka i Archiwum im. A. Jurzykowskiego (702)

March 18, 2013

Waiting For Polish Archives 2.4 M Scans …

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

PTG_Metryk_SwietoKrzyskie - genealodzy.pl

Stanczyk reported on 11 February 2013 , that the Polish Archives would be posting 2.4 Million scans of church/synagogue metric books on the Internet. The first phase which is due to be complete in March (this month) does not include any scans from Kielce Archive, which means that there will not be metric book scans of my ancestors in the first phase (Let’s be hopeful for something in June).

Well what can you do if your ancestors are from SwietoKrzyskie (the area from the old wojewodztwo Kielce)?

The website genealodzy.pl (polish website – some English user interface available) has a project called the Metryk project. Their Genealogical Society’s members are scanning metryk records from churches/synagogues. Once the scans are in place, they then index the image into their Geneszukacz databases that are searchable by Name, Event Type (B/M/D), Place. So you have two options Search Geneszukacz by index or scan the available images in Metryk (images are of Latin, Polish, or Russian language church records).

So what is available for SwietoKrzyskie? That information is shown in the above image. For this jester, I go to Buski (aka Busko-Zdroj).  There are, as of March 18th, 2013 a total of five parishes that have some scanned records (metryk / aktow).

PTG_Metryk_SK_Buski

You can see the five parishes in the image are:

Biechow,  Busko-Zdroj,  Dobrowoda, Gnojno,  Zborowek.

The right most column gives the years for which there are scanned records. For my research, Biechow and Zborowek were the most helpful. What I noticed was the Biechow images were much better than the images that the LDS had microfilmed. See my inventory of Biechow  records blog article (19 July 2011).

In fact, I was able to read some records better than previously and correct some of my translations. By the way, if you are researching the same area as Stanczyk, then just click on the Powiat buski image and it will take you to the genealody.pl website for that Buski powiat. So whether you have seen these images before or not, I would encourage you to look again at these quality images in the Metryk Project.

Hey PTG, can you guys PLEASE scan and index: Pacanow,  Swiniary,  Szczucin, and Stopnica parishes too?

I hope the Polish National Archives will be scanning records in the Kielce Archive for June proszę (please)?

March 13, 2013

The Many [Mis]Spellings of Pacanow … — #Genealogy, #Slavic, #Pacanow

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

One of the difficulties of locating records or data on a Polish (or Czech, Russian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, etc.) ancestor is the many ways a name can be spelled, misspelled, mistranscribed, indexed, etc. in a database. This is why you have to be creative when trying to locate your data.

Here is an example (from my paternal grandfather’s birthplace): Pacanow. That is the English rendering. In Poland it would be written as Pacanów. Now diacriticals aside, how many possible ways can I find Pacanow in Ellis Island (probably similarly for Ancestry.com as well)? OK, you asked …

Bacanow Pacanszka
Pacanam Pacanu
Pacanan Pacauow
Pacananska Pacona
Pacanaw Paconon
Pacanciv Paconow
Pacani Pacunow
Pacanica Paczanow
Pacanin Pacznow
Pacannon Paeanow
Pacanoer Paezanov
Pacanon Paezanov
Pacanoro Paezanow
Pacanoska Pasanov
Pacanou Pasanow
Pacanov Pasonaw
Pacanow Pazanoz
Pacanowa Pocanaer
Pacanowe Pocaniz
Pacanowic Pocanoa
Pacanowka Pocanor
Pacanowka Pocanow
Pacanowki Preanon
Pacanowo

Those are the ones I have found so far. That is 47 combinations! Now admittedly reading the handwriting from those ship manifests is difficult even when I am pretty sure what is being written;  So I can feel for the transcribers / indexers who harvest the data and do the data entry into some database.

Now, no searching by American Soundex,  Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex, or even Beider-Morse phonetic matching or even using wild-card searches, not even if you had regular-expression searches (like Oracle databases have) would I have found all of those. I do not know what to tell you to do. Be creative and persistent. Look at adjacent letters on a keyboard (for mis-typings) as data is entered. Look for letters that are swapped (i.e.  Eliasz vs. Elaisz) — mistyped or dyslexic. Just keep looking. I found ‘Bacanow’, because I said what might an handwritten letter ‘P’ look like to somebody? Of course, ‘R’ and ‘B’ suggested themselves to  my mind. No ‘Racanow’, but sure enough out popped a ‘Bacanow’. So you never know.

Now Stanczyk mentioned Pacanow, because I thought I was being slick and said, “What if I cannot think of all the ways a NAME can be misspelled?”. My answer was, “I know, I’ll just search on everybody coming over from the village of P-A-C-A-N-O-W.” Of course, as you might have guessed now I had a meta-problem because now I had to come up with all of the ways that Pacanow could appear. Well like the riddle, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop?”, I have an arbitrary answer … 47.

P.S.

I now have two spreadsheets. My first spreadsheet is my work-in-progress on the ZASUCHA of Niagara Falls SNA. The second spreadsheet I have is a rather large spreadsheet of all of the names from Pacanow (and truth be told Biechow, Piestrzec, Wojcza, …) and all of the surrounding villages that came through Ellis Island that I have found so far [plus a few mis-matches].

March 3, 2013

The Horror ! The Horror ! … — #History, #Holocaust

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

TheScreamToday’s title comes from a quote from Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski).

In today’s NY Times (article), The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking, by Eric Lichtblau. Read this article, which enumerates the disturbing horror of WWII to ever greater numbers.

If you trace genealogy, particularly Jewish genealogy, but also Polish Christian genealogy too, you will encounter these stories — over and over again. The Horror!

Read the NYT article, but the numbers being reported by the researchers, are that they have  now cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe.

Here’s a partial breakdown:  30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly/infirm, performing forced abortions, etc. The victims were not just Jews being victimized; They were Poles, Russians, gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally impaired. Dr. Megargee (one of the researchers)  had expected to find perhaps 7,000 “camps”, but the number quickly passed 11,500, then 20,000, then 30,000, and now is currently about 42,500 camps. A staggering, mind numbing number.

The numbers are so much higher than we originally thought

– Hartmut Berghoff

History will now show that far more than 6 Million victims were claimed by Nazi atrocities. The Horror! The Horror!

Other Related Stanczyk Blog Posts …

Feliks Elijasz, Roman Catholic Shoemaker
March 1, 2013

Thinking About @Ancestrydotcom ‘s GEDCOM — #Genealogy, #GEDCOM

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

GorillaFamilyTreeAncestry.com (Twitter: @Ancestrydotcom ) is the proverbial 800 lb (362.87 kg) gorilla in the genealogical archive. You cannot miss him — mostly he’s lovable. So today after you read this blog post, Stanczyk wants you to tweet at him (see Twitter link above). I am hoping the big ape will make some improvements to their software. Hint .. Hint !

A couple of days ago (25-Feb-2013), I ran my PERL program against the GEDCOM file I exported from my family tree on Ancestry.com ‘s  website. That tree, the RootsWeb tree, and this blog are Stanczyk’s main tools for collaboration with near and distant cousin-genealogists (2nd cousins, 3rd, 4th, 5th cousins — all are welcome).

Quick Facts —

  1. No invalid tags  - Good
  2. Five custom tags – Also Good
  3. CHAR tag misused – ANSI [not good]
  4. My Ancestry Family Tree uses diacriticals: ą ć ę ł ń ó ś ź ż   in proper nouns [not good]
  5. Phantom Notes ??? [really not good]

So, Mr. Ancestry (sir) can you please fix #’s 3, 4, and 5, please?

CHAR -  I think Ancestry should use what is in the standards: ANSEL | UTF-8 | UNICODE | ASCII . I think this is easily do-able (even if all you do is just substitute ASCII).

This is not a picayune, nit-picky, persnickety, or snarky complaint. In fact, it leads right into the next problem (#4 above). Not only does Ancestry export the GEDCOM file as “ANSI”, it strips out my diacriticals too (as a result?). So now I have potentially lost valuable information from my research. For Slavic researchers, these diacriticals can be vital to finding an ancestor as they guide how original name was pronounced and how it might have been misspelled or mistranscribed in the many databases. Without the diacriticals that vital link is lost.

The last criticism is an insidious problem. Every time I exported the GEDCOM, I would get a note on one person in the tree. I would carefully craft the note on Ancestry, but what I received in the GEDCOM file downloaded would be different ???

I reported the problem to no avail and no response. This is not very good for an 800 lb gorilla.

Digging Deeper

I have since gone on to do some experiments and the results may astound you (or not). I copied the NOTE I was getting in my GEDCOM and saved it off to a text file, perplexed as to where it came from, since it was not the NOTE I was editing on Ancestry??? Now I did something bold. I deleted the note from that person on Ancestry and then downloaded the GEDCOM file again. Do you what I got? Wrong! I did not get my carefully crafted NOTE, I got yet another NOTE. I copied that note’s text and repeated my process of deleting the note and downloading the GEDCOM file a 3rd time. This time when I edited my GEDCOM file, I found MY note!!! But where/how did the other two notes come about? Why were there three notes? Why could I see and edit the 3rd note, but only get the first note when I downloaded the GEDCOM file? How did notes 2 & 3 get there? Why did I not get all three notes when I downloaded the GEDCOM? All good questions that I have no answer to. My suspicion is that Ancestry should not allow more than one EDITOR on a tree, other contributors should only be allowed to comment or maybe provide an ability to leave sticky-notes on a person [that does not go into a GEDCOM file]. I do not think the notes were created by their mobile app since I always saw my NOTE (and not the other two notes). I am chalking this up to an Ancestry.com bug and urging others who see strange things in their notes to take deliberate steps to unravel their notes. I hope Ancestry will fix this and let people know. I hope they fix all of items #’s: 3, 4, and 5.

So, my dear readers, I am asking you to tweet to Ancestry (as I will too) and  ask them for bug fixes. Perhaps if enough people tweet at @Ancestrydotcom, they will respond and not give us the cold  gorilla shoulder.

January 26, 2013

RootsMagic iPhone/iPad App — #Genealogy #Software #Review, #RootsTech

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

RootsMagicAppThis jester has been a big proponent of Ubiquitous Genealogy – i.e. genealogy is portable and everywhere. I have used the Ancestry App for a long while and am well satisfied. They use a concept of synching the App with  your tree and their website. Now that the kinks are worked out, I am well satisfied. There are also MyHeritage and Heredis  Apps too. These do not synch over the “air”. You need to use your iTunes application on your desktop/laptop to move files into the App’s “sandbox” via synching your iPhone/iPad with the laptop/desktop over the iPhone/iPad cable. Tethered synching is ok but a hindrance.

Ok so the new App on the block is an offering called RootsMagic.   Stanczyk likes the Roots Magic laptop application as a full blown offering for working on your genealogy and documenting the tree and finding data on the Internet and keeping track of to-do lists, publishing your tree on CD/Web and all sorts of work that you do when your research spans years (or decades) – does anyone ever finish their genealogy? Its modern and uses Universal Character sets (so us Slavic Researchers can use our slashed Ł’s  or Cyrillic  Я’s) and other features that the Internet Genealogists have grown up with.  So I was hopeful when I received an email from Roots Magic touting their iOS offerings – Its free!

The App starts with the familiar Roots Magic splash screen that you may have grown accustomed to from the laptop application. You are then presented with a list of files from their sandbox (ugh, tethered synching). Once you select a file to work with, your family tree is presented in a Pedigree form (with three generations visible on iPhone/ four generations on iPad). At the top left is a green/white button with three lines (see image)  that will allow you to pick a particular person with whom you wish to work upon. At the bottom of the screen are four buttons:

Files,   Views,   Lists,   Tools

Files – Lets you select the family tree file you want to on from your Device or from DropBox (a cloud-based file storage service). It also has HELP (files??) which tell you how to use your Device or DropBox to get a file loaded into the App. Sadly,  the RootsMagic app does not read standard gedcom (ged)  files. It only reads files with rmgc extension (i.e. created by Roots Magic laptop application). However, it does load their database extremely fast from those rmgc files.

Views – Lets you choose to view the data in a PEDIGREE tree  or a FAMILY tree or in a DESCENDENTS outline  or in the detailed FACTS (events), NOTE, direct family members of the current INDIVIDUAL. I prefer working in FAMILY (as seen in image) view mode, then switching to INDIVIDUAL view mode for any details on that person. Clicking on NOTE really gives you access to NOTE(S), SOURCE(S), and MEDIA for that individual (and a BACK button at the top to return to INDIVIDUAL view mode).

Lists – This just gives a list of your: Sources, To-Dos, Research, Media, Addresses, Repositories, Correspondences, and PLACES. I liked places (which showed that this jester really needs to make his Places (Locations) conform to some kind of standard).

Tools – Date Calculator, Relationship Calculator, Soundex Calculator, and Calendar. Unimpressive to say the least. Lest you get your hope up, the Calendar tool only displays the Calendar for a Month/Year of your choice [I did not verify the Julian/Gregorian boundary to see if it calculates a proper month calendar for dates before 1582]. It was not worth the effort as I did not see why I would want to see what day  June 3rd, 1700 would fall on (Thursday) if you are eyes are young or your glasses are a good prescription to read the day name. Otherwise, you not notice the day names on an iPhone  [perhaps a black font, instead of gray, would give better contrast]. The Soundex is only American Soundex – why not Daitsch-Mokotoff or Bieder-Morse codes too? Really, we Slavic researchers get short shrift in the software world.  Never fear, just create a desktop icon of Steve Morse’s Soundex page to see all three Soundex/Pattern Matching methods for your family names.

iPad vs iPhone

For some reason the iPad interface treats the buttons (Files, Views, Lists, Tools) differently on the iPad. That was a bit confusing until I got used to the difference. Rotating the iPad to landscape, also brings the Surnames/Search view along side whatever view you are in. The Calendar is a bit easier to see on the iPad, but I’d still like to see the day name text in black (or at least a MUCH darker gray).

UbiquitousGenealogyThe app is strictly for viewing your family tree (et. al.). There are no tools for modifying the tree for re-import into the desktop application. Shortcomings aside, it is still a very good first effort by Roots Magic. If you have the Roots Magic laptop application, then download the free app for your smartphone or tablet and go Ubiquitous. If you do not have the Roots Magic laptop application and do not have a way to get your ged converted to Roots Magic format (rmgc) then do NOT bother to download the app – you will not be able to use it.

P.S.  Do you spell  “DESCENDENT”  – as  D-E-S-C-E-N-D-E-N-T   or    D-E-S-C-E-N-D-A-N-T ?  Both spellings are correct, but I guess I use “DESCENDANT” all of the time and so the Roots Magic use startled me.

I also would love to see the REUNION app (the Mac Software vendor) make their iOS App free or low-cost – then I’d review it here too. I am a BIG Apple eco-system fan and as such have used REUNION Mac software for a very LONG time. I would be remiss not to mention that REUNION App does exist, but its cost is a bit steep relative to the other iPhone genealogy APPs in this article.

January 24, 2013

#Book #Review – The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The Violinist’s Thumb by  Sam Kean -

contact:  samkean.com/contact

KeanCoversStanczyk is a BIG reader, definitely a bibliophile. My background is a computer scientist which means I am both a mathematician and computer specialist, with a school of engineering training. I have had a life-long affinity for science as well as mathematics (of which I view computers as just a branch thereof). However, in the spirit of this era’s memes, specifically, the STEM meme – we separate S.T.E.M. into constituent parts as: Science, Technology (computers no?), Engineering  and Mathematics. I had always thought of STEM as just Science & Mathematics (Ummm S&M ??) with Engineering being the School within which these topics were taught and Engineering being the rigorous discipline that is applied to various fields (Chemical Engineer, Construction Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Computer Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, etc.) and technology just an ubiquitous part. So Stanczyk considers himself a STEM knowledge worker.

Computers (Technology) often borrow concepts from other disciplines. For example, there are a whole set of “genetic” algorithms: cross-over, insertion, deletion, duplication, mutation, etc. Obviously, all branches of mathematics are represented in a wide swath of computer programs. So I have always viewed that a computer scientist would be a better professional by being well read and being able to borrow concepts from other fields to be able to bring to bear the broadest toolset to solve the great variety of challenges that a software developer is often faced with.

So now I come to this blog’s topic for today … a new book I read, The Violinist’s Thumb by  Sam Kean.

As a genealogist, I am fascinated by the thought of using genetics/DNA as another tool – however I do have some reservations (another blog post, another time). So when I saw this Kean book (published July 2012) I was intrigued. Perhaps you already know Sam Kean from his prior book, The Disappearing Spoon.

When I read a book or even before I decide to read a book, I examine a book’s “DNA” (cover, table of contents, author, etc.) to form an opinion of whether I want to invest myself in the effort. A quick scan of the book yields … the book’s organization: Introduction, Chapters (16), Epilogue, Acknowledgement, End Notes, Selected Bibliography, Index, spanning 401 pages including the index. Do not skip past the title page so quickly here. Part of the charm was the page after the title and before the table contents. It prodded my curiosity (see for yourself, I won’t ruin the surprise in this blog post, but I will email the author). Examining these parts, I linked this book in my mind to  Lewis CarrollDouglas Hofstadter and especially Stephen Jay Gould (a favorite science author of mine). So all-in-all, I decided to invest myself.

What is The Violinist’s Thumb About?

It is right there on the first page of the Introduction (which is actually page 3 – where is page 1 and 2 ??). The book is about DNA. Do not let that dissuade you. There is an interesting narrative about science and scientists and the history of DNA thought/understanding and how that understanding  evolved. The book is not bogged down in science jargon and your eyes will not gloss over with a baffling “scientific paper and statistical data” send-up. If you have read Stephen Jay Gould, then that is the tone and style of Sam Kean’s writing and it is comfortable for the non-scientist (like Stanczyk) and engaging with interesting stories and anecdotes while presenting the topic and the teaching/learning is subtle – this is not a text book nor scientific abstract, just an enjoyable read on a science topic that you may have an interest in or a curiosity about.

Criticism

Let me state up front, that my literary criticisms are slight and should not dissuade you from reading this book nor does it invalidate any of the author’s points.

[1]  ‘*’ -> look in Notes & Errata for that chapter;

It would be much better if Kean had numbered each ‘*’ note as  1,2,3 …

[2]  Page 216 referring to chimps & gorillas as “monkeys” instead of apes

[3] Chapter 14 is not about its title at all; No answer, nary any mention of the 3Billion and does not answer the title’s question

[4] 25,947 genes was lowest guess, but the actual number was not given. Was this the actual, exact number of genes?

Chap. 14, page 312.

[5] DNA debases???? I say no. The proper analogy is DNA is a historian/scribe. However, DNA history is not flattering.

[6] It took me really until Chapter 12 to understand the book title (was a reference to Paganini and his thumb)

Things I Learned

  • Radiation can be used to create mutations on demand
  • Lack of Variety in Human Genes (compared to the great apes)
  • 1815 Tambora Eruption caused 1816 year with no summer
  • Toba super-volcano Eruption 70,000 years BCE exacerbated that Ice Age, possibly causing a dire near-extinction event of humans (that did not affect the apes as much because the apes were further inland, away from Toba).
  • Zipf distributions in languages – DNA as a human language or Musical language
  • The greater the language diversity, the greater the DNA diversity. That is language diversity and DNA diversity go hand-in-hand (i.e. 1:1 correspondence). Click languages 100 sounds, English 40+ sounds, Hawaiian  around a dozen
  • mtDNA – mutation rate: once every 3,500 years
  • Mitochondrial Eve lived 170K years ago (see Wells book for a differing estimate)
  • At the DNA level, humans are 99.9 identical. So humans have less variability than the great apes.
  • Contrary to the Book of Mormon’s theological tenets, Native Americans were NOT descended from a Jewish tribe.

Things I Liked

  • Chapter 4 – The Musical Score of DNA  – DNA as a language, music (music as DNA), distribution of amino acids
  • Chapter 4 – Palindromes, in particular,  the palindrome square (from Pompeii)
  • Chapter 14 – The Human Genome Project – Science Race and Craig Venter’s impact
  • Epilogue – Craig Venter mapping his own genome

Things That Made Me Laugh

  • Craig Venter’s surprising chimp DNA (Chapter 14, page 313)
  • Chapter 8, pages 173-174 – The “gay bomb”
  • Lewis Carroll’s Mock Turtle appearance in Chapter 4
  • Bolsheviks & Humanzees (Stalin was a very naughty boy)

Things I Was Horrified By

  • Chapter 3 and  nijyuu hibakusha (Tsutomu Yamaguchi)
  • Chapter 7 and Machiavelli Microbe – Toxo (Toxoplasma gondii)
  • 8% of human genome is not human at all. It is virus DNA !
  • Human DNA suggests widespread cannibalism in all Haplotypes – although maybe that is explained by an early occurence in Africa >100,000 years ago before the diaspora/migration of modern humans
  • Chapter 12 and Paganini’s Thumb – ah the raison d’etre

Impressions

I decided to go back and re-read Deep Ancestry by Spencer Wells in parallel with this book. I wanted to consider Haplotypes and the historical migrations as it impacted and documented the human DNA’s evolution. I wish Sam Kean had included something on this – not a criticism, just a wish. I wanted a book about the human genome, its DNA and how it evolved. For me I wanted to form in my mind the DNA that is genealogy related and what that DNA implies. Kean’s book definitely gives the reader a flavor for the Human Genome Project (HGP).

Therefore, I needed to supplement Kean’s book with Deep Ancestry by Spencer Wells to answer my question about the parallel to Mitochondrial Eve (i.e. Y-Chromosome Adam ??). It turns out that Y-Chromosome Adam dates back to 60K years ago. Now I had to explain why Eve’s DNA goes back 40,000-110,000 more years than Adam’s DNA. So I needed the following factoids from Deep Ancestry :

  1. The Human genome contains about 30,000 genes
  2. 2.9-3.0 Billion  base-pairs (nucleotides) make up the human genome
  3. An average gene is 47.5K nucleotides in length (paired up in an helix) giving 95K on average in each gene. [derived by CME-S]
  4. Chromosomes vary in length from about 47M to 247M nucleotides
  5. There are 46 chromosomes. [derived, Ergo each Chromosome has on average nearly 62M nucleotides.]
  6. The Y chromosome (male sex indicator) does not recombine and is passed down intact (identical). [How often does mutation affect Y chromosome?]
  7. mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA, female lineage) has  16,569 nucleotides
  8. mtDNA has 37 genes (<448 nucleotides/gene)
  9. mtDNA is circular, while nuclear DNA (DNA from the cell nucleus) is linear
  10. mtDNA (DNA from the cytoplasm) is purely a copy of maternal mtDNA
  11. In nature only bacterial DNA is circular
  12. Mitochondrial Eve dates back to about 100K years ago
  13. Y-Chromosome Adam dates back to 60K years ago
  14. Modern humans date back to 200K years ago.

Actually I was dissatisfied by the rough figure of 30,000 genes in the human genome. Kean’s book had left me hanging with the winning pool guess of 25,947 genes (the lowest guess). But the actual number was not given.  So I had to go to Wikipedia, and on the Chromosome article I found the breakdown of the genes by chromosome and then I understood. Women have 31,731 genes and men have 30,339 genes (since the Y-chromosome of men is nearly 1400 less genes than a woman’s X-chromosome).

Stanczyk is an avid wrestler of numbers. Even though I am highly numerate, the numbers are at once boggling and also breathtaking to consider. How would I tackle the computer storage requirements of this science and the parallel processing requirements of analyzing the data. How do we go further with this data? How do you manage this data? How do you detect data errors and correct them?

Stanczyk also loved trying to construct a theory on the huge gap in years between Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam. Modern humans date back to 200K years ago. Both male and female DNA has gone extinct and whole branches of modern humans’ family tree are gone. Modern humans left Africa about 100K years ago. So Y-Chromosome Adam (only 60K years ago) only dates back to the time after the human diaspora/migration began and Haplotype diversity had already begun. Since male DNA does not go back as far as the female DNA it must be something in men’s DNA or men’s nature that causes their more frequent DNA extinction. My theory is that warfare in tandem with consequences from wars (pestilence, violence, disruption of living standards, etc.) and any global natural disasters that preceded the wars or followed the wars to cause a “bottle-necking” of the human population to near extinction levels. Possibly this bottle-necking occurred a number of times over the 200,000 year history of the modern human species (before and after the human diaspora/migration out of Africa. The fact that female DNA goes further back may be explained, if they were taken as slaves/property to the victors of these wars, while the males (including male children) were eliminated thus extinguishing their male DNA Haplotypes. This demonstrates that some human DNA has been lost, since neither male nor female DNA goes back the full 200K years of modern humanity’s arrival. Ergo, some of the original ADAM/EVE DNA is now lost. We have become less diverse. This shows in comparing the diversity of HUMANS to the Great Apes (chimps/gorillas). Apparently, the DNA or behavior of the great apes is less warlike or by their lifestyle was less prone to extinction events in the past. None the less, the loss of diversity does not mean that humans are more likely to become extinct than the great apes. Indeed, our numbers and adaptability to more diverse habitats actually mean that now it is more likely that the great apes will become extinct before humans even though human DNA is less diverse, relatively speaking. The probability of humans out-surviving apes was not always so at various times over the last 200K years and could still change again.

Recommendation.

Read the Kean book. If you only have time for two chapters, then read chapter 4 and chapter 14. If you have a bit more time, also read chapter 7 too. Read the whole book. You do not need to read it sequentially, just jump in where your interest takes you. I did find reading the Introduction and the first two chapters provided me with a good starting point to jump around from. They gave me a sense of what was the author’s narrative that he was developing.

I would also recommend a quick read of  Deep Ancestry by Spencer Wells in parallel with (or before/after) reading The Violinist’s Thumb by Sean Kean.

On a lark, I also read Douglas Hofstadter’s book, Metamagical Themas. Metamagical Themas is a set of material derived from the 2.5 years that Douglas Hofstadter wrote for Scientific American (overlapping with and following after Martin Gardner (whose column Mathematical Games was anagrammed to create Hofstadter’s Metamagical Themas). In the book, Metamagical Themas, is a Chapter 27, written originally in March 1982, asking the question,  is the genetic code arbitrary (entitled, “The Genetic Code: Arbitrary?”). I found this material also extremely helpful in rounding out my knowledge of DNA. So I recommend you read all three sources:

These should whet your appetite for more and instill in you a gnawing sense of more interesting questions that still need answers.  All three sources are readable by the lay-science person or any person with an interest in science or science history.

So where did I, Stanczyk, get left at? I had read these books to learn more about evolution and science vs. religion boundaries. What I was left at is some kind of cross between those topics and a crossover with computational biology and DNA/Human Genome. Four broad topics viewed through my lenses of computers and genealogy. What an interesting Gordian Knot to unravel !

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