Archive for ‘Databases’

September 1, 2012

Gazetteer, PGSA, Gen Dobry – A Good Day For Sure — #Genealogy, #Newsletter, #Gazetteer, #Polish

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

September 1st is such an inauspicious day for Polish genealogists. Stanczyk recognizes the memory of WWII starting today in 1939. That being said, it is a good day when the Gen Dobry! newsletter  (uh, e-zine) comes in the email box. I was perusing the e-zine and when I got to “More Useful Web Addresses”, one of my favorite sections.

Stopnica powiat (pow.) of Kieleckie gubernia (gub.)I noticed a link (URL) to the Internet Polish Genealogical Source, their 1907 atlas, also known as, “Atlas Geograficzny Illustrowany Królestwa Polskiego” [ Illustrated Geographic Index of the Polish Kingdom]. Now this is a gazetteer/atlas that I have long enjoyed for its beauty as well as its usefulness for locating the parishes.

It took this jester back about 5-6 years to when I volunteered for the PGSA and helped them partially index the very same gazetteer. The PGSA has built a searchable database on their project. So having worked on that effort, I thought I would compare the two web resources. For the record, this jester worked on the STOPNICA (Stopnicki) powiat of the PGSA project. I would recommend my readers volunteer for genealogy projects as they are a great way to meet other expert genealogists and to further become acquainted with some resource that may help you in your research. So it was for me — I was able to locate all of the parishes near my ancestral villages.

As I noted above this is a 1907 map, so it reflects the Kingdom of Poland as an occupied territory of the Russian Empire. So we see the provinces (województwo) are called “gubernia”, the Russian term. My ancestors were predominantly from Kielce gubernia, Stopnica powiat. So I will use that to compare since that is my area of expertise. That would be map number 28 (from the main  index map).


The iPGS has done a nice job on presentation and navigation. They provide 1907 names vs 2005 names of villages/towns. They have a nice index to each powiat map and show other info like today’s powiat. Their project also looked to be complete. Now I did not work on the iPGS project, so I hate to be nitpicky, but they were not complete and accurate. On map #28, STOPNICA, I noticed that Piasek Wielki was not marked as having a parish, yet the map image clearly indicates a cross on the circle that represents Piasek Wielki. When I compared it to my work on PGSA, it did in fact list a parish. So now I had to know which was correct. So I went to and used their library catalog to do a place name search for Piasek (choose the one for Kielce) .  Clicking on all links to expand upon results leads you to this page, which shows there are two microfilm for the parish spanning the years from 1875-1884  — so indeed it is/was a parish and therefore the PGSA was the correct project.


The PGSA project of which I was a member was a substantial effort. Yet, this project was not complete. The PGSA built a small database look-up web-app. That is nice if you want to see a list towns that begin with ‘Bialy’ so you can compare if you do not quite know which ‘Bialy’ town you need. The PGSA also has a powiat map list page listing the volunteers. The navigation probably should be more like iPGS, but the iPGS should probably implement a search form like PGSA.

I cannot offer a comparison of which web site has more accurate data / complete data; The effort would simply be too great for one person. I can only recommend that you look at the map and see if you see a cross on the circle of a town, then you should see a plus in the data results. Of course, the final resolution if you see difference is to look at and see if they have microfilm or not. You could look at a Polish web site for a listing of Polish Catholic parishes — but there again parishes may have closed or towns vanished, so there is not one complete index anywhere. Even the may not have a microfilm for a perfectly valid parish. PRADZIAD, the Polish National Archive web site for parish / civil records may not have data if data was lost (like in WWII), so it may not be possible to ever really have a complete list of parishes of all time nor know which data is missing/lost. Absence of data does not mean anything (or possibly could mean any of a few things). Never forget that there may be diocesan data in the church archives. Also please note that most sources are CHURCH oriented, so if you are looking for synagogues you are limited to PRADZIAD or to the use of an excellent gazetteer like Brian Lenius’ Galicia Gazetteer.

But at least this new iPGS gazetteer is online and available for all of us to use. Keep in mind there may be limitations on the data you see, but you must not have limitations upon your reasoning ability. Do not assume because you do not see something that it does not exist. Keep looking. Also,  verify what you think you know.

August 8, 2012

Family Search Indexing New Project Ohio Naturalizations — #Genealogy, #Ohio, #Naturalization

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

I am a frequent genealogy volunteer. Today, on Twitter, Family Search Indexing (@FamilySearchInd) announced a new project for Ohio Naturalizations. Since this jester has family from Cleveland (Elijasz and affiliated families i.e. Hajek) and also from Toledo (Eliasz, Sobieszczanski/Sobb, Mylek, etc.) I thought I’d pitch in some in hopes that I or some other volunteer would help by indexing my ancestor’s data.

The images for this collection are very helpful for index cards. They have a lot of info (more than we indexers are allowed to collect by the application). So look for this collection to be posted in the near future. I seemed to have had a batch of 20 mostly Italian-Americans (one German, one Brit). All last names began with ‘Pic*’. So if you have Italian ancestors from Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH who were naturalized there and their names start with PIC, then you are about to be very happy.




August 7, 2012

1940 US Census Indexing Is Complete — #Genealogy, #Census, #1940

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

OK, completed their indexing of the 1940 US Census and fast on their heels, also completed theirs — Stanczyk is not aware of the status of other 1940 Census providers’ status.

Prior To The Index

Prior to the indexes, I used Dr Stephen Morse’s One-Step website to figure out which Enumerated District (ED) I need to search sequentially, image-by-image. With most ED’s being between 35-50 images, this was not overly taxing and it yielded excellent results — after a week I had most of the people I most wanted to find.

State indexes rolled out, a few at a time. I found other high value targets in my index searches. Now that indexing is complete, I had thought to find the last few stragglers. I found some indexes as their was supposed to be in places that I had not suspected and hence the ED search did not yield them to me. A few had names that were slightly off in their transcription but none-the-less were easily findable. Some I had to get creative on imaging misspelling or mis-transcribing and I found a handful more.

I hope others did as I did in blazing my trail. When I found a badly indexed name, I used’s View/Add Alternative Info. So when I finally found my Aunt Kitty (Catherine Eliasz, now married and a Perinoff), who was born as Casimiera Elijasz, but always used Catherine Eliasz in my lifetime. I entered the mis-transcribed name correctly so that other genealogists after me would be able to find my aunt Kitty more easily (and as a bonus they would also find me too).

Where’s Aunt Alice?

So, where is my Aunt Alice? I had correctly anticipated that both my aunt Alice (the eldest) and Catherine (2nd eldest) would be married and I knew the husband’s name. As you see I found my aunt Kitty. But my best efforts at locating my Aunt Alice have failed. I tried using only her first name or only the last name. I tried by other data points I knew (Detroit, MI, USA — I kept broadening the search, even though I “knew” she was in Detroit). I tried locating a woman living in Detroit born in 1910 +/- 1 year (then 2 and 5 years) who was born in Poland (and Russia, just in case they still referenced Russian-Poland partition in that way). No luck !!! I tried searching for her fist husband — not found either ??  So I tried locating her second husband — no luck, he was still single living at home with his parents. No Alice and no first husband — could they have been missed?

The Missing

So here is my list of most sought after ancestors: Aunt Alice (nee Eliasz), could be listed as some corrupted version of EPPERLY (although I tried a combination of this I could think of). My mother’s sister Helen McLean. My dad’s cousins: Emil Leszczynski, Stephen/Matthew/Stanley Sobieszczanski. I thought I would find Emil. I was prepared to find him living away at college (law school) — no luck. As for the Sobieszczanski boys I was surprised, that outside of their brother Henry, I could find none. Perhaps the three are in the US military — after all I had another uncle that served in the US Navy 1935-1938.

How about you? Do you have any AWOL ancestors from the 1940 Census too? Drop me a line (comment or email).

June 25, 2012

2012 – Year of the Census — #Genealogy, #Census, #State, #Territory

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

NY State Censuses: Colonial | State

2012 has certainly been a very good genealogical year for this jester. Recently, completed the 1940 index for NY and I was thrilled to find my grand-uncle Frank Leszczynski ! Grand-Uncle Frank (aka Franciszek was 75 in 1940, and was the god-father at my aunt Catherine’s birth in 1914 and was from my great-grandfather Tomasz’s first wife, Julianna). He is a Naturalized citizen on/before 1940, after having filed in 1931 (Declaration of Intent). Why he is living with a family of Pawelczak as a lodger is a question. After all, he has two half-siblings living nearby, including my grand-uncle Michael whom he was living with when he filed the Declaration of Intent in 1931. So why live at 819 Oliver Street in North Tonawanda (Niagara County, NY) with the Pawelczaks — which he & the Pawelczaks did since 1935 according to the census data?

I still need to find Frank’s death certificate and death notice (if possible) and his Naturalization papers (Erie County or more likely Niagara County).

Ancestry on 5th-June-2012 also released indexes and images of the NY State Census for 1892, 1915, 1925 (previously they had done 1905, partially?).

NY Censuses & 1940 US Census both making my research in NY state a little more complete.

State Censuses

Family Tree Magazine had a nice “Cut & Save” chart on State Censuses (not the US Federal Census). Here is my Cut/Saved images of the States and their Colonial or Territorial or State Censuses that are available … somewhere.

Alabama .. Minnesota

Mississippi .. Wyoming

June 24, 2012

Big Data – Every Minute Of Every Day …

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

20120622-094344.jpg     Every minute of Every day,  you and I and the rest of the Internati produce data, big data in some kind of Internet colony. We email or blog or even a Facebook post or a 140 character tweet. Being genealogists we search databases and post trees with their connections and images like the 1940 US Census pages that hold our family members. And every day we post more data to the Internet. That is what the picture shows.

The pace of Big Data is increasing too.

Who backs up the Internet? Who archives the web? The “Wayback Machine” seems to record our civilization’s record so this work may last as long as Babylon’s cuneiform or Egypts hieroglyphs. Or will it? I know the Library of Congress is wrestling with Archival Issues of Digital works.

What is the disaster recovery plan of a sun spot interference or another magnetic burst? Books will survive and be immediately available but what about digital works? How do we backup all of this data exlposion?

May 21, 2012

Post Office Department – Stanczyk’s Mailbag — #Polish, #Genealogy, Kuc, Kucz, Swiniary

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

From the Post Office Department

From Stanczyk’s Mail Bag

Email From:   Barbara

I have been trying to do research in Pacanow but have not been very successful.  My Grandmother — Maryanna Kuc(z) is from Oblekon.  I wrote to the parish there — Parafia p.w. Najswietszej Maryi Panny Krolowej Swiata but never received a reply.  Perhaps they just couldn’t find any information.
My Grandmother:      Maryanna Kuc(z)
Born:                        March 15, 1886
Baptized                   March  25, 1887
Immigrated to USA:    September 1912
Father:                      Benedict Ku(z)
Mother’s first name:    Marianna
She had a sister Eva (born 1895)
 & a brother Jozef  (born 1893) both came to America.
I think she had other siblings but have not been able to find any records from Poland at all i.e. Marriage of parents, birth or baptisms or death of her parents.  I know her father was alive in 1912 when she came to America.
If you can help or shed any light on how I could obtain the information I am seeking, I would be extremely grateful.
Keep up the excellent work on your blog.
Thank you for any information in can provide and Thank you for your blog,  I learn a lot from it.
I had told Barbara that I would search the Swiniary indexes that I have pictures of to see if I could find anything for her. When I searched my indexes, I found that her family name is spelled most as she had it: Kucz, but I did find one example where the priest wrote Kuć. There was also another family Kuzon, but I do NOT feel like they are the same family as her Kucz/ Kuć. Since this was from the era 1829-1852 the records were in Polish. I found one marriage index in the Swiniary parish:
1836 Franciszek Kuć marries Maryanna Duponką   [this is not your great-grandparents, but probably related]. 1836 was the only year that I had a marriage index picture.
1830-1840 no Kucz/ Kuć births in the indexes.
1841 Jozef Kucz birth record #23
1842 Maciej Kucz birth record #21
1843-1845 no Kucz/ Kuć births in the indexes.
1846-1849 I had no indexes (or pictures thereof)
1850 no Kucz/ Kuć births in the indexes.
1851 I had no indexes (or pictures thereof)
1852 Stanislaw Kucz birth record #28
I think I have seen Kuc in the surrounding parishes (Biechow & Pacanow).
First off, I checked the LDS website ( I wanted to see what microfilm they had. Your birthdates: 1886, 1893, 1895 are rather late (most LDS microfilm stop around 1884). Here is their inventory for Swiniary (you want “Akta urodzeń“, for births):

Family History Library Catalog (Place Search): Swiniary

Akta urodzeń 1686-1811 — małżeństw 1668-1863 — zgonów 1686-1811 –  INTL Film [ 939952 ]
Akta urodzeń 1797-1811, 1826-1865 –  INTL Film [ 939951 ]
Akta urodzeń, małżeństw, zgonów 1812-1816, 1818-1825 –  INTL Film [ 939949 ]
Akta urodzeń, małżeństw, zgonów 1878-1884 –  INTL Film [ 1808854 Items 9-15 ]

Akta zgonów 1797-1839 –  INTL Film [ 939950 ]

That is all the LDS (aka Mormons) have in their Family History Library that you can rent microfilm from. Next I checked the Polish National Archives via PRADZIAD . They did have books/microfilm for the date range you are seeking. Here is the contact info for the archive that has the data you seek. You would need to write them in Polish and they will write you back with their findings and instructions for wiring their bank the money they require (all in Polish).



Archiwum Państwowe w Kielcach Oddział w Pińczowie – akta przeniesione do AP w Kielcach
28-400 Pińczów, ul. Batalionów Chłopskich 32
tel: (41) 357-20-02
fax: 357-20-02

I hope this helps you out!


May 4, 2012

BIG Genealogy — #Genealogy, #FamilyTree, #GEDCOM

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

When Stanczyk, wrote the title, he was not referring to or any other endeavor by genealogical companies from the western USA. No, Stanczyk is fascinated with numbers .. of people.

Yesterday, this jester wrote about the Confuscius Family Tree. It is commonly accepted to be the largest genealogy (family tree). But I had to wonder … Why?

It is an old genealogy, dating back to Confucius’ birth in 551 BCE. It is now 2012, so we have a genealogy that is 2,563 years old. My much beloved wife/kids are Jewish. In the Hebrew calendar we are presently in the year 5772. Despite my having been to a Jewish Genealogical Conference and meeting a man who told me his genealogy went back to King David. [This jester resisted the rude/snarky comment that if he researched using both Old & New Testaments he could push his research back to Adam.]

I also did not ask him to show me his documentation, but assuming he could, his genealogy would have been another 500 years earlier (~ 1050BCE) and therefore this tree mathematically speaking (assuming there are other Judeo-Christian couplings before I & my wife) his tree had the potential if you could/would follow all/many branches and not just the direct lineal trunk you have a tree with approximately 100 generations (adding another 17 generations to the 83 for Confucius). This assumes a generation is 30 years. Now if we look at Confucius and see 2560 years = 83 generations, we see an average of 30.84 years per generation — so 30 years per generation is not a bad estimate.

What genealogy could be older still? Well according to the Bible we record the Jewish peoples in Babylonia. So perhaps we can extend King David and/or one of his citizens back to King Hammurabi of Babylonia — that would yield another 650 years (~1700BCE) or about another 22 generations. Let me see if Confucius’ family tree is about 2 Million for 83 generations we get about 24,096 people per generation. So by adding 39 more generations then Hammurabi’s Family Tree should contain approximately another 940,000 people. So come on Iraq produce your family tree of nearly 3 Million people!

What genealogy could be older than that? There is a quote that goes something like, “History knows no time when the Egyptians were not highly developed both physically and intellectually.” True enough, recorded history does go back furthest in the Pharaohnic dynasties. That takes genealogy back to the first dynasty King (Pharoah) Menes, who sure enough had a son who wrote about Astronomy [source: Timechart History Of The World, ISBN 0-7607-6534-0 ]. That takes us to approximately, 3,000 BCE, another 1300 years/44 generations/1.06Million people! Ok, since there is no recorded history earlier than that, we will not have a properly sourced genealogy older than this. So people who are Elizabeth Shown Mills devotees turn your heads away …

What genealogy could possibly be older than that? I read that the indigenous peoples of Australia have an oral history of 48,000 generations! The aboriginal people of Australia date back to about 50,000 BCE, which would be 52,000 years ago/1734 generations/41.8Million people in their family tree. That’s not 48,000 generations, but that is more than twice as much as genealogy researchers test using their FAN24.ged file which has 24 completely full generations with 16.8Million pseudo people.

Now that is what I call BIG Genealogy. But where is that family tree (not FAN24.ged)? Why has no genealogy older than Confucius’ genealogy been found and carried forward to the present day? Is it possible that such a family tree exists?

–Email me!

Related Blog Articles …

Random Musings” (10-March-2010, see musing #2)

April 22, 2012

Alytus / Olita – Udrija / Baksiai — #Polish, #Lithuanian, #Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Recently, Stanczyk was asked about a Pennsylvania family and if I could find their ancestral villages, so they could make a family pilgrimage to get in touch with their Genealogical Roots.

See the red annotation (circle / underline) near the map center. This is region as shown from a 1757 map of the Polish / Lithuanian Commonwealth.

One of the immediate points of this region needs to be made explicit. Obviously, it was a part of the Lithuanian Duchy before, then Part of Poland, it became part of Prussian-Poland partition, then part of the Russian Empire, before becoming Lithuania in modern times.

That much border re-drawing causes a lot of languages / archives to come into play. Records can be expected to be found in Latin, Lithuanian, Polish, German, Hebrew/Yiddish and Russian.

The region is known in various languages. So I sought out JewishGen ShtetlSeeker to help me learn all of the various names and here is the pop-up if you hover over the Alytus name:

Most researchers will want to take note of it as Olita in Suwalki wojewodztwo (when in the Polish Kingdom) or as Oлита (Russian/Cyrillic) in Troki uyezd, Vilna gubernia.

Family Search has microfilm for both Catholic and Jewish metrical books:

Lithuania, Alytus – Church records (1)
Metrical books, 1797-1873
Lithuania, Alytus – Jewish records (1)
Metrical books, 1835-1914

Pradziad has some archival records too. Their records are for Jewish metrical records in the year range: 1835-1872 .

Obviously, if you visit the locale, then parish records may exist in Udrija or Baksiai parishes/synagogues in the Alytus region of Lithuania. Besides the Catholic records, there may also be Lutheran records too.

A more modern map (Olita/Alytus) can be found on the Polish map site . Please NOTE this is a large / detailed map. The area of this article is in the left-center area on the river.

April 2, 2012

1940 Census Preparations – Pays 1st Dividend

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon


Found his grand-uncle Michael Leszczynski (deputy sheriff) at 5071 Broadyway, Depew, Erie County, NY in the 1940 US Census. He was in ED 15-37, on SHT 6-A (line 4 was Michael and his wife Felicia was on line 5). Click on the link if you have access to

Kudos to for getting their 1940 US Census working in short order. Their Image Viewer is excellent, very fast.

April 1, 2012

1940 US Census – Here’s What Enumeration Districts I’m Researching

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

2nd-April-2012 (72 years are up)

Here is Stanczyk’s initial research list before there are complete indexes.

Enumeration Districts (EDs)

By State/County:

MI-Wayne-Detroit84-590,  84-710,   84-583,  84-584,  84-586,  84-1246,  84-1471

MI-Macomb — 50-70A

MI-St Clair — 74-14

NY-Erie-Depew — 15-37

OH-Lucas-Toledo — 95-217,  95-221

PA-Philadelphia — 51-22


MI — Eliasz, Epperly, Gawlik/Gawlikowski, Gronek, Kedzierski, Vespek, Wlecial/Wlecialowski

NY — Leszczynski (Frank, Michael, Teofil)

OH — Eliasz, Mylek, Sobieszczanski

PA — Solomon

Related Spreadsheet

Related 1940 Census Info (EDs, etc)

March 30, 2012

Ancestry Adds 1940 US Census ED Maps — #Genealogy, #1940, #Census

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, saw that released/updated the 1940 US Census, Enumeration District Maps. It actually says ‘and Descriptions’ in its database title, but for the life of me I did not see any textual descriptions nor any images of words other than Legends and stray comments on hospitals, asylums, nunneries, etc (which were interleaved in the whitespace of the maps).

I queried on the ED I got from Steve Morse’s One-Step website (unified census page) that let me convert 1930 EDs into 1940 EDs. I used ED 84-590 (where I expect to find my grandmother and her children — including my father).

I did an exact search on 84-590 and Ancestry showed me an option for either the city map or the county map. While the county map was interesting, the city map of Detroit was what I was after. I clicked on the link to view the city map for ED 84-590, but what I got was page 1 of 46 pages (not the page where 84-590 was). Well I “gutted it out” and browsed sequentially through all of the pages searches from one corner to the opposing corner reading each and every ED until I found ED 84-590 on page number 40.

That kind of brute force search was not a total waste. I did confirm 84-590 was correct ED that I should search on Monday when they release the 1940 US Census. I was also able to confirm my Vespeks ED as either  84-1246 or less likely (since it is for the prior address) 84-1252. Perhaps my dedicated readers will note that this is the one ED (it gave 84-1244 or 84-1245 — which were close) that was wrong in Steve Morse’s webpage lookup. The fault as I said before was not Steve Morse, but the US government providing inaccurate mapping of the 1930 ED to the 1940 ED, but the description of the EDs on Steve Morse’s lookup image did give me a look at the other descriptions nearby and I was able to divine that 84-1246 should be the one I search. Well this also points out the value of Ancestry’s new database. I was able to look at ED Map and confirm that 84-1246 was correct ED and that 84-1244/1245 EDs were near misses to the known address I had.

I was also able to verify that ED 84-583/584 would probably contain my Galiwks and Wlecials [assuming they are in enumerated in Detroit and not at the Macomb county farm address]. I could see how close they were to  St. Adalbertus church and the the last known addresses I had and how they were all closely clustered in the same area (not obvious from the addresses).

My only complain is that Ancestry should take you to the correct page for your ED and not force you to do a brute force, page-by-page search. Detroit was a LARGE city in 1940 — imagine NYC, LA, Chicago or Philadelphia where were (and still are) larger than Detroit; Those would be awful searches.  For my friends that have Polish family in Hamtramck, not to fear, there are only four pages to comb through. For the few people that I have emailed through the last few months about CHENE St project, just go to image/page 40 of Detroit (or click on the link) you are near my grandmother’s ED. says you have 2 days and about 16 hours (and counting) to ready yourself for the 1940 US Census. Good Luck!

March 18, 2012

Dziennik Polski Detroit Newspaper Database App Search Page

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon


was finally able to use his training from Steve Morse’s presentation at RootsTech 2012 to create a One-Step Search App for the Dziennik Polski Detroit Newspaper Database.

To search on 30,920 Polish Vital Record Events, just go to the new Dziennik Polski Detroit Newspaper Database App Search page (on the right, under PAGES,  for future reference).


For more background on the Dziennik Polski Detroit Newspaper click on the link.

You can search on the following fields:

Last Name – exact means the full last name exactly as you typed it. You can also select the ‘starts with’ radio button and just provide the first few starting characters. Do not use any wild card characters!

First Name – exact means the full first name exactly as you typed it. You can also select the ‘starts with’ radio button and just provide the first few starting characters. Do not use any wild card characters!

Newspaper Date – exact means that you need to enter the full date. Dates are of the format:

06/01/1924 (for June 1st, 1924). Format is MM/DD/YYYY. Leading zeros are required for a match.

You can use ‘contains’ radio button to enter a partial date. The most useful partial is just to provide the Year (YYYY). Do not use any wild card characters!

Event Type – exact means the full event type. This is not recommended. You SHOULD select the ‘starts with’ radio button and just provide the first few starting characters. Do not use any wild card characters! Uppercase is not required.

Valid Events Types: BIRTH,  CONSULAR,  DEATH,  or MARRIAGE

Indexer – exact means the full indexer exactly as you typed it. You can also select the ‘starts with’ radio button and just provide the first few starting characters. Do not use any wild card characters!

The Indexer is meant to be informational only, but you could conceivably want to search on this field too, so it is provided.

March 10, 2012 Broken ? Is Your GEDCOM Export OK? — #Genealogy, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, wants to know if anyone else is having problems Exporting their GEDCOM from

 This is what I see when I try to export my gedcom from the tree settings screen. It never gets past 0% complete.

I have tried to submit a Help Ticket for technical support and so far I have not received any response. What gives Ancestry?

I can still work on my tree and updates appear to be saved. I can synch to the Ancestry App (on the iPhone) and the changes are there too. 

March 3, 2012

Google’s Chrome Browser For Genealogy — #Genealogy, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

     Stanczyk was a big Mozilla/Firefox browser user. On Mac or Windows it did not matter. So it was a shock that I switched to Chrome (Google’s browser).

I did so mostly on Google’s promise that “microdata” would be another widget that would greatly enhance the search experience for genealogy data. I waiting on that feature — still am waiting.

On Tuesday I mentioned Virtual Keyboard 1.45, for entering your diacriticals through your browser into say Today, I was reading Kathy Judge Nemaric’s blog – “Dead Reckoning” [nice name for a genealogy blog] and she mentioned an extension to the Chrome Browser. It is called Ancestry Family Search Extension 2.4 .

     Open up a new Tab (Ctrl-T works) and click on Chrome Web Store. In the “Search Store” field, type in “Ancestry Family Search” and press the Enter key to bring up the extension (see on the left).

Click on the Add to Chrome button and then click on the Install button in the dialog box that pops up to confirm your wish. Once you have installed the extensions into your Chrome browser, it will show like the following screen:

Now you are ready to reap the rewards of that hard work. Go to and perhaps open up your family tree on an individual you are working on. Now your browser’s address bar has a new  “widget”. Next to the STAR widget you have been using to Bookmark pages is a new widget shaped like a TREE.

See the red circle (and arrow)? Just click on that and it will bring up a new window on top the current TAB in your browser with (in my case) Tomasz Leszczynski result set from the Family Search databases. If you click on one result, then a new TAB will open to the exact record in Family Search.

This is a very nice synergy between the two websites. So I am thinking, that if Google produces their microdata widget, that 2012 will be the year of the widget in Genealogy and perhaps the year of the CHROME browser too.

There is one microdata Schema Explorer browser extension already in the Chrome Web Store. But you will want to wait for Google’s which will use the website: . I am guessing Google will use this website to develop schemas to guide its browser.

2012 is shaping up to be a very good year for genealogy and to switch to CHROME!

February 28, 2012

Dying For Diacriticals … Beyond ASCII — #HowTo, #Genealogy, #Polish

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk mused recently upon a few of the NAMEs in my genealogy:

Bębel, Elijasz, Guła, Leszczyński, Kędzierski, Wątroba, Wleciał, Biechów, Pacanów, Żabiec

If you want to write Elijasz (or any of its variants) you are golden. But each of the other names require a diacritic (aka diacritical mark). Early on, I had to drop the diacritics, because I did not have computer software to generate these characters (aka glyphs). So my genealogy research and my family tree were recorded in ASCII characters. For the most part that is not a concern unless you are like John Rys and trying to find all of the possibly ways your Slavic name can be spelled/misspelled/transliterated and eventually recorded in some document and/or database that you will need to search for. Then the import becomes very clear. Also letters with an accent character (aka diacritic) sort differently than  letters without the diacritic mark. For years, I thought Żabiec was not in a particular Gazetteer I use, until I realized there was a dot above the Z and the dotted-Z named villages came after all of the plain Z (no dot) villages and there was Żabiec many pages later! The dot was not recorded in the Ship Manifest, nor in a Declaration of Intent document. So I might not have found the parish so easily that Żabiec belongs to. I hope you are beginning to see the import of recording diacritics in your family tree.


The rest of my article today teaches you how to do this. Mostly we are in a browser, surfing the ‘net, in all its www glory. After my “liberal indoctrination” (aka #RootsTech 2012), I have switched browsers to Google’s Chrome (from Mozilla Firefox) browser. Now I did this to await the promised “microdata” technology that will improve my genealogical search experience.  I am still waiting,  Mr Google !!!   But while I am waiting, I did find a new browser extension that I am rather fond of that solves my diacritical problem: Virtual Keyboard Interface 1.45. I just double-click in a text field and a keyboard pops-up:

Just double-click on a text field, say at . Notice the virtual keyboard has a drop down (see “Polski“), so I could have picked Русский (for Russian) if I was entering Cyrillic characters into my family tree.

But I want to keep using my browser …            OK!  Now I used to prepare an MS Word document or maybe a Wordpad document with just the diacriticals I need (say Polish, Russian, and Hebrew) then I can cut & paste them from that editor into my browser or computer application as needed — a bit tedious and how did I create those diacritical characters anyway?

I use  Character Map in Windows and Character Palette -or- Keyboard Viewer  on the MAC:

Now if I use one of these Apps, then I can forgo the Wordpad document  ( of special chars. ) altogether and just copy / paste from these to generate my diacritical characters.

What I would like to see from web 2.0 pages and websites is what Logan Kleinwaks did on his WONDERFUL website. Give us a keyboard widget like Logan’s, please ! What does a near perfect solution look like …

Logan has thoughtfully provided ENglish, HEbrew, POlish, HUngarian, ROmanian, DEutsche (German),  Slavic, and RUssian characters. Why is it only nearly perfect? Logan, may I please have a SHIFT (CAPITAL) key on the BKSP / ENTER line for uppercase characters? That’s it [I know it is probably a tedious bit of work to this].

Beyond ASCII ?

The title said  beyond Ascii. So is everything we have spoken about. Ascii is a standard that is essentially a typewriter keyboard,  plus the extra keys (ex. Backspace, Enter, Ctrl-F, etc.) that do special things on a computer. So what is beyond Ascii? Hebrew characters (), Chinese/Japanese  glyphs (串), Cyrillic (Я), Polish slashed-L (Ł), or Dingbats (❦ – Floral Heart). You can now enter of these beyond ascii characters (UNICODE)  in any program with the above suggestions.

Programmer Jargon – others  proceed with caution …

The above are all UNICODE character sets.  UTF-8 can encode all of the UNICODE characters (1.1 Million so far) in nice and easy 8bit bytes (called octets — this is why UTF-8 is not concerned with big/little endianess). In fact, UTF-8‘s first 128 characters is an exact 1:1 mapping of ASCII making ascii a valid UNICODE characters set. In fact, more than half of all web pages out on the WWW (‘Net) are encoded with UTF-8. Makes sense that our gedcom files are too! In fact UTF-8 can have that byte-order-mark (BOM) at the front of our gedcom or not and it is still UTF-8. In fact the UTF-8 standard prefers there be no byte order mark [see Chapter 2 of UNICODE] at the beginning of a file. So please FamilySearch remove the BOM from the GEDCOM standard.

If FamilySearch properly defines the newline character in the gedcom grammar [see Chapter 5, specifically 5.8 of UNICODE] then there is nothing in the HEAD tag that would be unreadable to a program written in say Java (which is UTF-16 capable to represent any character U+0000 to U+FFFF) unless there is an invalid character which then makes the gedcom invalid. Every character in the HEAD tag is actually defined within 8bit ascii which can be read by UTF-8 and since UTF-8 can read all UNICODE encodings you could use any computer language that is at least UTF-8  compliant to read/parse the HEAD tag (which has the CHAR tag and its value that defines the character set). Everything in the HEAD tag, with the exception of the BOM is within the 8bit  ascii character set. Using UTF-8 as a default encoding to read the HEAD will work even if there is a BOM.

February 27, 2012

#PA #Genealogy – Access To Vital Statistics — Public Access, Privacy Law, PA Act 110, SB 361

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

PA Act 110 – Public Records (formerly known as Senate Bill 361)

This bill amends the Act of June 29, 1953 (P.L. 304, No. 66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of 1953, to provide for public access to certain birth and death certificates after a fixed amount of time has passed. This legislation provides that such documents become public records 105 years after the date of birth or 50 years after the date of death.

This is a mixed bag, but at least its consistent. I wish it was 72 years  (like the census) instead of 105. Also the 50 years after death is way too long. Dead is dead. Maybe you could make a case for 5-10 years. By doing greater than 30-35 years you are forcing genealogy research to skip generations since the current generation would die before gaining access. Genealogists will have to will research plans to children in PA.

The indexes (I hate the word indices) are here: Birth Index (1906 — so far that’s it) | Death Index (1906-1961).   By the way, you will need the American Soundex of the last name as this is how the records are sorted:  American Soundex of Surname, followed by alphabetical on FirstName. Use Steve Morse’s Soundex One-Step page.

February 16, 2012

GEDCOM “RailRoad Tracks” (aka Graphic Syntax Diagram) – #Genealogy, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The above diagram is what Stanczyk had been jabbering about since the #RootsTech conference. Isn’t that much easier on the eyes and the grey matter than a complex UML diagram? Who even knows what a UML diagram is or if it is correct or not?

What does it say is in a GEDCOM file (ex.  Eliasz.ged)?

A HEAD tag  optionally followed by a SUBmissioN Record followed by 1 or more GEDCOM lines followed by a TRLR tag.

ex. gedcom lines  that can be “traced” along the railroad tracks at the top.

 1 SOUR Stanczyk_Software
 1 SUBM @1@
 2 VERS   5.5.1
 0 @1@ SUBM

OK Stanczyk_Software does not exist, but was made up as a fictitious valid SOURce System Identifier name. The GEDCOM file (*.ged) is a text file and you can view/edit the file with any text editor (vi | NotePad | WordPad | etc.). I do not recommend editing your gedcom outside of your family tree software, but there is certainly nothing stopping you from doing that ( DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME). If you knew gedcom, you could correct those erroneous/buggy gedcom statements that are generated by so many programs — that cause poor Dallan Quass to ONLY acheive 94% compatibility with his GEDCOM parser.

Have you ever downloaded your gedcom from ANCESTRY and then uploaded it to RootsWeb? Then you might see all those crazy _APID  tags.   It is a custom tag (since it begins with an underscore  — GEDCOM rules dear boy/girl).   It really messed up my RootsWeb pages with gobbledygook. I finally decided to edit one gedcom and remove all of the _APID tags before I uploaded the file to RootsWeb. Aaah that is SO much better on the eyes. Oh I probably do not want to re-upload the edited gedcom into ANCESTRY, but at least my RootsWeb pages are so much better!   The _APID is just a custom tag for ANCESTRY (who knows what they do with it) so to appeal to my sense of aesthetics, I just removed them — no impact on the RootsWeb pages, other than improved readability. [If you try this, make a backup copy of the gedcom and edit the backup copy!]

Now obviously the above graphic syntax diagram is not complete. It needs to be resolved to a very low level of detail such that all valid GEDCOM lines can be traced. It also requires me/you to add in some definitional things (like exactly what is a level# — you know those numbers at the beginning of each line).

I have a somewhat mid-level  graphic syntax diagram that I generated using an Open Source (i.e. free) graphic syntax diagrammer, as I said in one my comments, I will send it to whoever asks (already sent it to Ryan Heaton & Tamura Jones). You can get a copy of Ryan Heaton’s presentation from RootsTech 2012 and compare it to his UML diagram (an object model). I think you will quickly realize that you cannot see how GEDCOM relates to the UML diagram — therefore it is difficult to ask questions or make suggestions. A skilled data architect/data modeler or a high-level object-oriented programmer could make the comparison and intuit what FamilySearch is proposing, but a genealogist without those technical skills could NOT.

I am truly asking the question, “Can a genealogist without a computer science degree or job read the above diagram?” and trace with his finger a valid path of correct GEDCOM syntax [ assuming a whole set of diagrams were published]. The idea is to see how the GEDCOM LINES (in v5.5.1 parlance FAMILY_RECORD, INDIVIDUAL_RECORD, SOURCE_RECORD, etc.) are defined and whether or not what FamilySearch is proposing something complete/usable and that advances the capabilities of the current generation of software without causing incompatibilities (ruining poor Dallan Quass’s 94% achievement). Will it finally allow us to move the images/audio/video multimedia types along with the textual portion of our family trees and keep those digital  objects connected to the correct people when moving between software programs?


GEDCOM files are like pictures of our beloved ancestors. They live on many years beyond those that created them. Let’s not lose any of them OK?

February 13, 2012

Blog Bigos …

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk added a new Page (Tech Diary) to record my technology doings.

While doing that and reading from my blogroll (and emails), I discovered some history about the “defacto standard GEDCOM” (wiki: GEDCOM ). Now I strongly recommend you start from “defacto” link rather than the wikipedia link.

  • RootsTech 2012 – had two GEDCOM presentations by Ryan Heaton (FamilySearch, GEDCOMX project).
  • RootsTech 2012 – had one open source GEDCOM parser presentation by Dallan Quass. Dallan was quite remarkable in his efforts to achieve a 94% commonality amongst 7,000 different GEDCOM files. Dallan Quass has a GitHub project for his Open Source GEDCOM parser.
  • Modern Software Experience (Tamura Jones) had a couple articles that caused me to write this article. His most recent GEDCOM article that caught my eye was:  BetterGEDCOM (2/2/2012). I also noticed he had a GEDCOMX article from 12/12/2011. These two articles provide a good discussion. I also noticed that the BetterGEDCOM project had their own project blog. [also see his Gentle Introduction to GEDCOM  article].

I believe those provide the most recent current thoughts on GEDCOM (that I have not penned).

  • I have been studying GEDCOM v5.5 (the last GEDCOM standard).
  • I produced a partial Graphic Syntax Diagram of GEDCOM v5.5 [what I had been calling “Railroad Tracks”] just to demonstrate how I thought this diagram was a better vehicle to communicate the standard [than say UML object models].
  • I could not resist making slight tweaks to GEDCOM v5.5 even in my preliminary studies. Mostly so we could discuss GEDCOM in a readable fashion (i.e. whitespace for formatting, and comment lines ) or because the language cries out for consistency (i.e. requiring the HEAD tag to be a zero level, just like the TRLR tag).

My  Graphic Syntax Diagram of GEDCOM v5.5 was produced using an open source tool. It is partial and still high level. I did put in a construct so that you can clearly see all 128 standard tags. The Graphic Syntax Diagrammer is an excellent tool. I will have to offer the author a suggestion for the PNG images that it outputs. I need to take my diagram and manually edit it to make the drawing a better fit for 8.5″ x 11.0″ (aka A1) paper. I need to graphically wrap the railroad tracks and to add page breaks so that the image is itself usable for viewing/discussions. I will offer this sample drawing to any interested parties — including emailing the edited product to Ryan Heaton and Dallan Quass [who since they did not request it — can feel free to ignore it].

My goal is to make minor tweaks to  GEDCOM v5.5 via this diagram [not programming] and try and get DallanQ to produce a one-off parser for it (call it, say GEDCOM 5.5.999) and hope that my tweaks will not lower Dallan’s hard work of achieving 94% compatibility. If it turns out to have virtually no effect on Dallan’s 94% compatibility in his Open Source parser, then I can think about  getting some software vendors to utilize the enhancements (via end user requests), since they are trivial, just to move the standard forward and to open an interest in the vendors to looking at how we create a new Open Standard for GEDCOM.


Thanks to Tamura Jones, I now know I need to update my diagram to GEDCOM v5.5.1 first


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