Archive for ‘Internet’

March 2, 2012

Diacritical Redux – Ancestry GEDCOM — #Genealogy, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

As Stanczyk, was writing about the GEDCOM standard since #RootsTech 2012, I began to pick apart my own GEDCOM file (*.ged). I did this as I was engaged with Tamura Jones (a favorite foil to debate Genealog Technology with). During our tête-á-tête, I noticed that my GEDCOM lacked diacriticals???

What happened? At first I thought it was the software that Tamura had recommended I use, but it was not the problem of that software (PAF). So I looked at the gedcom file that I had imported and the diacriticals were missing from there meaning, my export software was the culprit.

I looked at the GEDCOM’s  HEAD tag and the CHAR sub-tag, and it said “ANSI” [no quotes] was the value. That is not even a valid possible value! According to the GEDCOM 5.5.1 standard [on page 44 of the FamilySearch PDF document]:

CHARACTER_SET:= {Size=1:8}

Who is this dastardly purveyor of substandard GEDCOM that strips out your diacriticals (that I assumed you have been working so hard to add since my aritcle on Tuesday,  “Dying For Diacriticals“)? I’ll give you a HINT, it is the #1 Genealogy Website  — Yes,  it is ANCESTRY.COM !

Now what makes this error even more dastardly is that the website shows you the diacriticals in the User Interface (UI), but when you go to export/download the diacriticals are not there in the gedcom and unless you study things closely, you may be oblivious (as Stanczyk was for a long time) that these errors have crept into your research. I also found a spurious NOTE that I cannot find anywhere on anyone in my tree — which gets attributed to my home person (uh, me). This is very alarming to me too !!!

Tim Sullivan (CEO of, I expected better of you and your website. I entrusted my family tree to you and that is what you did with my gedcom? Now I did some more investigating and I found that Ancestry does not strip ALL diacriticals. My gedcom had diacriticals in the PLAC tags and in NOTE tags. But NOT (I repeat NOT) in the NAME tags.

So Tim [pretend there is a shaky leaf here] , if you or a reputation defender or some other minion skims the Internet (for your name) here is what  I hope You/ will do:

  1. Do NOT strip diacriticals from the NAME tag !!!
  2.  Fix the Export GEDCOM to create a gedcom file with diacriticals in NAME tags
  3. Fix the Export GEDCOM to create a valid CHAR tag value: UNICODE, UTF-8, ASCII, ANSEL. I put them in my prioritized/preferred order [from left-to-right]. I hope you will not use ASCII or ANSEL.
  4. Run a GEDCOM validator against the gedcom file your Export GEDCOM software creates to download and fix the other “little things” too  (Mystery NOTEs ???).
February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday – What You May Want To Do on the iPhone? — #Mobile, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Here’s an interesting App (Flipboard — don’t forget to add this blog to your Flipboard pages !!)

Also, I know there are some tech types amongst the readers and those who use Big Tech in their genealogy. Try this URL (web link) to Tech Visualizer

— Stanczyk

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 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday – What Do You Do On Your iPhone? — #Mobile, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Here’s what I do …

Home - 1st Screen -- most used Apps

2nd Screen - Social, Genealogy, & Informed

3rd Screen - Some Tools & Some Classes

There’s still 3 more screens and part of another that I’ll spare you from …

What do you do on your iPhone?


February 19, 2012

Meme: #RootsTech — #Genealogy, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

A while ago, Stanczyk bemoaned iOS5. Therefore, I owe it an update …

  • Portable Genealogy is sound – Ancestry App better than ever
  • The Camera App in iOS5 does have a zoom. In fact if you use the familiar “pinch-gesture” you can zoom in/out and the old zoom slider appears too. Also you can use the Volume Up button (on the side of the phone to take a picture — helpful when the camera is rotated.
  • Just having the iPhone was very useful during the #RootsTech conference as my note taking device. Until iPad2(3) arrived(s) and it has both WiFi/G3 (LTE) I would have been without blogging capabilities in the Salt Palace convention center when its WiFi would go down. I utilized the #RootsTech App (for iPhone & there was one for Android too).
  • In the library it was my digital  camera.
  • In fact the ImageToText App came in handy to OCR an image of text for me
  • I used the Ancestry App to enter the transcribed text from the microfilm images right into the evidence (note area) of the app of an indivividual and attached the iPhone picture too.
  • In one case, I was able to get an immediate shaky leaf as a result of my data entry — much to my disbelief (and it was correct). So I could do an immediate on-site analysis and do further microfilm searching as a result.
  • I used the Bump App to swap contact info with one genealogist. I cannot wait until all genealogists become mobile-enabled and lose my business cards altogether. Hint to RootsTech Vendors you should use Bumps too to collect user info. Why do I have to drop a business card into a fishbowl??? Do a BUMP,  get a chotsky (swag). Leave the fishbowl for  the Luddites.
  • Are you a Slavic (Czech, Pole, Russian, etc.) genealogist? Then you must be dying for diacriticals. You could add an international keyboard. But why? In iOS5, just press and hold down the ‘ l ‘ key and up will come a list including the slashed-l. Just slide your finger over onto the slashed-l to enter that. Likewise, for entering ‘S, E, A, Z, C, N, etc.’ too — works upper/lower case. Of course if you have German ancestors, you can get your umlauts too in the same fashion. That trick is a Latin Alphabet data entry trick (sorry Cyrillic or Hebrew readers — try the International Keyboard trick).
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

February 12, 2012

GEDCOM Standards – Where Genealogy Meets Technology — #Genealogy, #Technology, #Standards

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, has been churning since about November of last year (2011).  I have a number of ideas rummaging around my brain for genealogy apps. For over a quarter century, I have been a computer professional and used and/or developed a lot of  programs using a myriad of technologies. At my core, I am a data expert: design it, store it, query it, manage it, analyze it and protect it. It being the data.

Before going to #RootsTech 2012, I knew GEDCOM was the core of our hobby/business/research. GEDCOM is our defacto standard. It is how data in exchanged between us and our various programs. I say defacto because as a standard goes it is not a very open standard (one organization “owns”   it, and  the rest of us go along with it). It also has not changed in about decade and a half; So Ryan Heaton was correct in calling it “stale”. It does still work .. mostly. Although if a standard does not progress then you get a lot of proprietary “enhancements” that prevent the interchange of data completely — since one vendor does not know how to deal with another vendor’s file in totality.

At present, GEDCOM maxes out at version 5.5, although there are various other variations you might  see. But 5.5 was the last standard version. I counted 128 total tags and a provision for creating non-standard tags (they start with an underscore).

[Mike thanks to Tamura Jones! Even though GEDCOM v5.5.1 was never finalized, it IS the defacto max version of GEDCOM. GEDCOM v5.5.1 added 9 tags, removed the BLOB tag, so we now have a total of 136 tags.   — I will need to update even my high level graphic syntax diagram]

Tags are like:

INDI,   FAMC,   FAMS,   SOUR,   REPO,   HEAD,   TRLR    etc.   -or-      ALIA,   ANCE

The first bunch is familiar and are probably in your family tree (if you ever exported the GEDCOM file). The ALIA tag is one that Dallan Quass said was universally used wrong by all programs. After seeing its definition, I can see how it  is confusing.  As for the ANCE, tag I do not recall seeing any program letting me do any functionality that might utilize this tag. This tag is probably one of those tags that Dallan said is not used at all.

I looked at the “MULTIMEDIA” section of the standard. It looks like it is woefully out of date and probably not used at all (at least not in any standard way), which is probably why our pics, audio, and video (or any other media file like PDF, MS Word) do not move with the GEDCOM. Has any program ever used the ENCODING/DECODING of a multimedia file? The standard seems to imply a buffer of only 32K (for a line) and even if you used a large number of  CONC tags strung one after another you need 100 lines to store a 3.2MB file in-line in the GEDCOM. I do not think I have seen that in a GEDCOM. They probably stored these binary large objects (BLOBs) outside the gedcom and refer to their path on the computer/network.  I did some noodling. I have 890 MB (or approximately  890,000 KB) in pictures and scanned source documents for about 1,000 people in my family tree. So I use nearly a gigabyte (1GB) for my family tree and all other multimedia — and I do not have any audio or video!  So I use almost 1MB/person.

If we did have this magical new GEDCOM standard that could carry all of our multimedia from one GEDCOM program to another GEDCOM program, the copying would take a long time. If I uploaded/download it to/from the Internet, I might incur an overage on my ISP’s usage charges, if this were technically feasible!   Imagine if I did this multiple times a month (as I got updates). I am beginning to understand why no vendor has tackled the problem. I would also like to store PDFs and other documents besides GIF/JPG/PNG which can be displayed on the Internet web pages natively in a browser. Those are not a part of the existing GEDCOM standard. Let me sling some jargon — I’d want to store any file type that there is a MIME type definition for,  that I can currently embed in emails,  or utilize in Java programs or that the HTML5 standard will allow for multimedia.

The GEDCOM 5.5 was in its infancy on dealing with character sets. It was predominantly ASCII with some funky ANSEL coding of characters to handle latin alphabet diacriticals, although it is not clear how I would do the data entry for those and it looks incomplete. It did mention UNICODE, but only cursory and just to remind us that the lengths in the GEDCOM standard were in  ‘characters’ not bytes –which was correct. Although those multibyte characters (say in Hebrew, Russian or Japanese or Chinese) would quickly use up the 32K byte line buffer  limit, which would effectively become about 8K characters per line. In fact, GEDCOM 5.5 says it will only deal with LATIN alphabets and leave Cyrillic, Hebrew and Kanji for some far flung future. Stanczyk  is Slavic, I need UNICODE to represent my ancestor’s names and places. Fortunately, I do not feel the need for Cyrillic (Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Macedonian, etc.) or I’d be out of luck. I’ll just use the Polish version of those names in their ‘Latinized’ forms.

Oh that is another area the standard needs to be enhanced. NAMES. Dallan mentioned that Personal Names do not get a thorough treatment in the standard (I am refusing to read the data model and I am a Data Architect). Location Names get almost no treatment — they do give you a place to store your locations  (PLAC tag). What language should I use, after all my ancestors are from POLAND for God’s sake. Besides the obvious Polish, I have German, Russian and Latin to deal with and being American I prefer English. Slavic names often do not translate well. For example Wladyslaw is Ladislaus in Latin, but in English there is no equivalent — maybe that is why my ancestors use ‘Walter’ instead. But the point is, how should I store the name? Can I store all of the equivalents and search on any of them? Nope.

Damn, Russian is Cyrillic.  GEDCOM doesn’t deal with non Latin alphabets;  And even though I can read the Russian genealogy records, I ‘d rather not nor would I want to try and do data entry that way either. Besides, the communists reformed the language in 1918 (making War & Peace considerably shorter in Russian); That reform eliminated several characters. Most modern software is not aware of the eliminated characters  much less able to generate them. This whole Language/Unicode/Name thing is complicated and I have not even mentioned the changing borders or the renaming of cities in different languages or over time or their changing jurisdictions. I cannot fault GEDCOM for all of these woes. I have them in my own research and I have not yet found any satisfying way to  handle them. I find it helps to have a very good memory and keep these things in my head — but there is no backup for that.

How are we ever going to arrive at the vision Jay Verkler put forth at #RootsTech?  GEDCOM needs to become an open standard. Once it is standardized again, then it needs to become modern again and deal with the current technology, so we can get around to the tough problems of conforming: names, places, sources/repositories, calendars/dates  and doing complex analyses like Social Network Analysis as a way to gather wayward ancestors into a family for which we lack documentation to prove (Genealogically). I hope the future includes Bieder-Morse phonetic matching and can deal with folding diacritical characters into a base character (ex.  change ę into e) for searches.

FamilySearch, if you are going to register GEDCOM tools, then please do a few more things for the NEW standard. First, make each vendor add to an APPENDIX the name and complete definition of their NON-STANDARD tags, in case anyone else wishes to implement or deal with them. Put a section in the header (HEAD tag) that lists all NON-STANDARD tags (just once each) along with its vendor so that someone else can go look at the standard and see what these tags mean and possibly implement the good ones. Forget that two byte thing before the HEAD tag. Just make the HEAD tag ‘s  CHAR sub-tag indicate the character set (ANSI | ANSEL | UNICODE ).  Please administer a #RootsTech keynote to vote on annual changes to the GEDCOM standard. Provide a GEDCOM validator and also a GEDCOM converter webpage to allow users/vendors to validate/convert their gedcom file(s).

Make multimedia be meta-data and allow users to define “LOCATIONS” where multimedia files can be found using either a PATH or a URL (or a relative path / URL). Make it a part of the standard that the meta-data must move, but the multimedia files can optionally stay put. Multimedia should be able to be placed on a LOCAL/NETWORK, or on the INTERNET or on a multimedia  removable volume(s) [thumb drives, CDs, DVDs, etc.]. Make the multimedia “LOCATIONS” editable so a user can switch between LOCAL/NETWORK, INTERNET, or REMOVABLE including using some of each type of LOCATION. Allows these files to exist or not (show “UNAVAILABLE” or some equivalent visual clue, if accessed and they do not exist).  The mapping between an Individual (INDI) or a family (FAM) or some other future GROUP and its multimedia file(s) must move as a part of the meta-data (even if the multimedia file(s) do not). That way the end-user need only edit his LOCATIONS meta-data (and ensure the files are in that/those location(s)) when he runs the software.

Define an API for GEDCOM plug-ins so that new software can access the GEDCOM without parsing the gedcom file. The API should give the external plug-in a wrapped interface to the underlying data model without having to know the data model, just the individual, family, or location, or a name list of individuals, families, or locations. This will allow new software to provide additional functionality to a family tree or to provide inter-operability between trees/websites. Obviously security/privacy rules would limit this kind of  plug-in access.

That’s Stanczyk’s vision of the GEDCOM future!

February 9, 2012

RootsTech 2012 Post Conference To Do List — #Genealogy, #Conference, #RootsTech

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has his work cut out for him…

I guess this is what happens when you come back from a conference. Your juices are flowing and you cannot wait to get to work on using the new knowledge you acquired to further your aims.

You can see the impact that Steve Morse had and Dallan Quass, Ryan Heaton, FamilySearch Cross Platform, Amy Johnson Crow, my Family History Library research results, Brooke Ganz and Google had upon me.

I have to admit Jay Verkler had a HUGE impact upon me, but I do not see what I can do about his vision???

Did you go to RootsTech 2012? If so, please comment/email on what you are doing.

February 5, 2012

Google Me Some Shiny New Genealogical Data

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Google was at RootsTech 2012. Google was a Keynoter, Google was a Vendor and Google was a presenter. Google was in the house. The tech gear had some Android devices in the audience too.

Only Apple had more technology there. Unfortunately, it was among the users, developers, and presenters. Tim Cook bring Apple to RootsTech 2013!!! Your customers deserve Apple to give the same presence as Google. As I said in my last article, iPads, iPhones, MacBooks (mostly Pro, but some Air) — the attendees were so tech laden you would have thought Ubiquitous Computing had arrived. Isn’t there a recession? Where did all these tech warriors come from? These were users a bit more than developers. Bloggers were numerous, most wore Mardi Gras beaded necklaces so they were recogizable. Then you had secret bloggers such as Stanczyk. Everyone was a genealogist. Users encouraged Vendors/Developers with praise and requests for more/better technology. Oh and make the tech transparent.

But this is about Google. Before the conference I had written the Google tech off as too low brow to bother with. Then Jay Verkler showed up — who is apparently the Steve Jobs of genealogy. He was the Keynoter on day one. Stanczyk is a genealogist and I have been to genealogy conferences before. These are usually staid affairs. Genealogists are … how should I put it … umm, old. It is not unusual to see octogenarians and nonogenarians (90’s). But the energy in the auditorium of 4,200 conference attendees was electric. These were not stodgy, Luddites. Notebooks and pens were almost nonexistent!! People were excited and very much anticipating — what, I do not think we had a clue, but expectations were off the charts.

Jay did not disappoint. He was personable and masterful in his presentation skills. Mr Verkler is a Visionary like Steve Jobs and the audience knew it and responded. It was Jay who weaved the vision which everyone now wants ASAP. He brought up Google and my eyes were prepared to glaze over. I did not even record the Google execs’ names [shame on me]. They were good! They had prepared for RootsTech and they showed brand new tech and also Microcode. I do not have words to express what I saw, but everyone in the audience wanted it.

Google showed Microcode which would be a Google Chrome plug-in and appear as a widget/icon in the address bar that can do amazing search/exchange tricks in a Web 2.0+ way. It would utilize in some unspecified way to do this genealogy magic. It was beyond amazing. Google created a genealogy plug-in!! Google is apparently also coordinating in an API-like way to transfer these search result magics into other websites like FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc. that put this magic into the beyond amazing realm.

Firefox and Safari take note if you do not want to see a massive shift to Chrome. I am pretty sure all genealogists will use Chrome when Microcode widget arrives.

February 5, 2012

Is GEDCOM Dead? Date/Place of Death, Please?

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The RootsTech Conference is living up to its name. Everywhere there was a sea of: iPhones/Androids, iPads (in huge numbers), and laptops. Even the very elderly were geared up. Google, Dell, and Microsoft were at RootsTech. — why not Apple, especially since their customers were present in LARGE numbers??? [note to Tim Cook have Apple sponsor and show up as a vendor.]

According to Ryan Heaton (FamilySearch), “GEDCOM is stale.” He went on to speak about GEDCOMX as the next standard as if GEDCOM were old and/or dead. They were not even going to make GEDCOMX backwards compatible! In a future session I had with Heaton I asked the Million dollar question, “How do I get my GEDCOM into GEDCOMX”? After a moments pause he said they’d write some sort of tool to import or convert the existing GEDCOM files. Well that was reassuring??? So they want GEDCOMX to be a standard but FamilySearch are the only ones working on it and they have not had the ability to reach out to the software vendors yet (I know I asked).

My suggestion was to publish the language (like HTML, SQL, or GEDCOM). I asked for “railroad tracks“, what we used to call finite state automata, and what Oracle uses to demonstrate SQL syntax, statements that are valid with options denoted and even APIs for embedding SQL into other programming languages. Easy to write a parser or something akin to a validator (like W3C has for HTML).

Dallan Quass  took a better tack on GEDCOM. His approach was more evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. He collected some 7,000+ gedcoms


and wrote an open source parser for the current GEDCOM standard (v5.5). He analyzed the flaws in the current standard and saw unused tags, tags like ALIA
that were always used wrong, custom tags and errors in applying the standard. He also pointed out that the concept of a NAME is not fully defined in the standard and so is left to developers (i.e. vendors) to implement as they want. These were the issues making gedcoms incompatible between vendors. He said his open source parser could achieve 94% round trip from one vendor to another vendor.

Now that made the GEDCOMX guys take notice — here was their possible import/conversion tool.

The users just want true portability of their own gedcoms and the ability to not have to re-enter pics, audio, movies over and over again. RootsTech’s vision of APIs that would allow the use of “authorities” to conform names, places, and sources would also help move genealogy to the utopian future Jay Verkler spoke of at the keynote. APIs would also provide bridges into the GEDCOM for chart/output tools, utilities(merge trees), Web 2.0 sharing across websites / search engines / databases (more utopian vision).

GEDCOM is the obvious path forward. Why not improve what is mostly working and focus on the end users and their needs?

FamilySearch get vendors involved and for God’s sake get Dallan Quass involved. Publish a new GEDCOM spec with RailRoad tracks (aka Graphic Syntax Diagrams) and then educate vendors and Users on the new gedcom/gedcomx.    Create a new gedcom validator and let users run their current gedcoms against it to produce new gedcoms (which should be backward compatible with old gedcom to get at least 94% compliance that Quass can already do)!

Ask users for new “segments” in the railroad tracks to get new features that real users and possibly vendors want in future gedcoms. Let there be an annual RootsTech keynote where all attendees can vote via the RootsTech app on the proposed new gedcom enhancements.

How about that FamilySearch? Is that doable? What do you my readers think? Email me (or comment below).

       Do Not use UML models to communicate the standard. It is simply not accessible to genealogists. Trust me I am a Data Architect.

Tags: ,
January 30, 2012

Genealogy This Week … #Genealogy, #Technology, #Polish, #GroundHog

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

To Stanczyk, it appears that 2012 has gotten off to a sluggish start (genealogically speaking). How about for you genealogists (email or comment)? Well that is all about to change !   Lisa Kudrow‘s Who Do You Think You Are?, returns this Friday with Martin Sheen as the subject.

RootsTech 2012 kicks off this week too. Did you notice, they have an app (its free) for that? Even better they will STREAM some of the conference for the benefit of all genealogists !   Kudos to Roots Tech — All Conferences (genealogical or not should do these two things: app and stream conference proceedings). This should definitely jump start genealogy.

Read these blogs. Yes, I am telling you its ok to read other blogs than this one. These people are “official Roots Tech bloggers”.

I discovered that I missed one of my holiday blogs (in my backlog) about the happy married couples in Pacanów parish from 1881. So I will post the names of 40 Happy couples and what record # (Akt #) they are in the Pacanów parish church book.  This is two years after my great-grandparents got married, but there is still a Jozef & Mary who are getting married (Jozef Elijasz). I once had to sort out the two Jozef Elijasz from 1879 and the one from 1881 who all married women named Mary in the village of Pacanów! Genealogy is hard.

Oh and Punxsutawney Phil will make an appearance this week and offer his weather prognostication skills (I really think his predecessor Pete was much better and more alliterative too). I am pretty sure Phil & Pete are German, so you will need a German genealogy site for their lineage. Quaint tradition (Pennsylvania), dragging a Ground Hog from its home to ask him about weather. I think Bill Murray’s movie captured it well. So be careful what you do this week, or you may be repeating it a few times.

January 27, 2012

Pathways & Passages – Journal of PGSCT&NE — #Polish, #Genealogy, #Society

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, thinks he just got the new issue of Pathways & Passages. I’m not certain because it says 2011 on the cover and in the page footers. But of course, who doesn’t have a hard time writing the new year on their checks.

That aside, their column, “Online Resources” was particularly good this issue (whichever it was, Summer 2011 -or- Summer 2012).

For the PA Polonia …

They had two online resources. For Schuykill County, PA (moje zona has family from that county — in fact I stumbled upon this site a few years ago). So I can state it is a very good from my own experience.

They did mention Lackawanna County, PA (but did not give the URL — so off to Google for you). There are marriages: 1885-1995 and an index to wills.

The Next Online Resources …

Passaic County, NJ – Naturalizations.  This turned out to be an EXCELLENT find! I found a Jozef Zwolski  whose ship manifest I had found before. Now Jozef was a brother of Roman Zwolski and both of these men are sons Jan Zwolski & Petronella Elijasz ! They happen to be from both Biechow & Pacanow parishes. Joseph’s Declaration of Intent was listed and you could view the image (and download a PDF of the document)! So I now have a birthday for Joseph and it matches up well to his ship manifest and his residences in Russian-Poland match up well too — so I am pretty convinced I have my ancestor.

Joseph apparently served in WWI and is taking advantage of privileges as a citizen soldier to become an American.

Antwerp Police Immigration Index. This last resource given, I would not have thought to look into (not having any Belgians in my direct lineage). But apparently, if you stayed longer than normal before your passage to American (from Antwerp port), you had to register with Antwerp Police. A good many Polish must have fell into that category. I did not find any of mine, but did find some whose last names match those in my family tree. If you do find your ancestor — you have a name and a village to ascertain that you have the correct person. But you will gain a birthday. This is another nice database from

I am glad I belong to some of the various Polish Genealogical Societies — these little resources sometimes pay big dividends.

January 23, 2012

2012 1st Quarter – Genealogy Website Rankings — #Genealogy, #Rankings, #Website

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Welcome to Stanczyk’s  2012 First Quarter Genealogy Website Rankings. I know I am a week early — c’est la vie! Since my last rankings an array of rank postings [uh, pun partly intended] have appeared. Stanczyk has also received exactly one request for inclusion in his rankings, from .. Tamura Jones about his website: [#58 on the new Rankings]. He also has a worthy Twitter page too. Keep sending in recommendations — I will keep thinking about them or including them if they are worthy. I liked Tamura’s stuff so MUCH, that I added his genealogy page to my blogroll [Modern Software Experience at the right].

I really liked the survey from the Canadian website: Genealogy In Time. I added their magazine/website (#13)  as well to my rankings.  I found them because they produced an excellent Genealogy Website Ranking (mid January 2012), that included a very thorough discussion of their methodology. They neglected a few Polish Websites that SHOULD have made their list. Also they list in all of its many global incarnations and this eats up an unnecessary number of the top 125 poll slots.   But aside from those minor criticisms, their rankings is very GLOBAL and very good. Who knew there was a Chinese (make sense, considering their billion plus citizens and their excellent genealogical records) genealogy website or a Finnish website too in the top 125???

OK, Stanczyk will keep his Rankings  list, because of the emphasis on Polish / Slavic genealogical websites. Stanczyk also has many in the range 100-125 that are very useful though not popular enough to be the Genealogy in Time Rankings. However, the Genealogy-In-Time-Poll, makes a very useful tool in another way. They have graciously included the website links (URLs) of each site, making it rather easy to build a genealogical Favorites/Bookmarks list that is broadly useful. Stanczyk admits to his list being somewhat selective in the lower 1/3 in order to be more valuable to Polish Researchers (in particular to English speaking, though not exclusively so). On a personal note, this blog you are reading is in the top 5.8Million (of all websites world-wide) and is #120 on my Website rankings — come on readers give me a boost, please!

Needless to say, all website rankings I read, agree on the top 20-40 websites (putting aside the multiple listing of

Here is a snippet of the Rankings and the rest are on the Rankings Page:

December 18, 2011

Polish Resources – Cobbled from and Family Search – #Polish, #Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, put together a couple of pieces to make a NEW and useful Polish Genealogy database. First off, my email box had a weekly email from  This week’s Weekly Discovery is a boon for Polish Genealogists …

U.S. and Poland, Catholic Parish Marriage Index, Polish Genealogical Society of America,

Ok, the above link takes you to Ancestry’s newest database index ( .  Which as the Link Name suggests is a Polish Catholic Parish Marriage Index. I was excited until I discovered that it was really just a re-issue of the ‘s  database: . So if you are not a subscriber to Ancestry, you could just go to PGSA and use their database and get the same results. The PGSA even gives an LDS Microfilm #. So Stanczyk took note of an Anna Eliasz marrying Leon Zielinski in 1910 and the LDS MF#: 1578072 . I made a vow to look that record up in the LDS microfilm. So I was in the LDS Library Catalog verifying the microfilm # was correct and LO and BEHOLD (why is it always LO and BEHOLD — and not just BEHOLD), the Library Catalog says the images are online!!! They even provided a link:

Now thankfully the database did specify 1910 and that the church was St. Stanislaus Kostka and even the Page# 204 was helpful. I used those pieces of info and the Family Search link to go to their web page:

  • Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925

I selected the St. Stanislaus Kostka (Chicago) to go to the web page:

From there,  I picked Marriages, 1910-1915 (you need a free login to use their databases) and browsed the images until I got to page# 204 (which was actually image # 109 of 897) and on the left hand page was Leon Zielinski & at the bottom Anna Eliasz marriage record from the church. I got the actual date and parent names (including mother’s maiden name). See below …

I am not certain that Anna Eliasz is a relative or not because it did not provide the parish where Anna was born (and I seriously doubt Anna was born in Chicago in 1882). Her mother’s maiden gives me hope as that name does appear in my ancestral villages, so now I will have to find an Anna Eliasz birth record (or not) in Biechow/Pacanow parishes with parents Jan Eliasz & Mary Jurek.


The point of today’s article is that by joining the index in (or and using the index data with the browseable images from I was able to pull a new Church Parish record quite easily without leaving my house. It is the combination of the two resources from two separate websites that make a new and very useful tool. What do you think?


If you have Chicago ancestors (and in particular Polish ones) then you have an early Christmas or Chanukah Present. Drop me a comment of thanks, will ya?

Merry Christmas & Happy Chanukah and just in case,  Happy Holidays to the rest of my readers.


December 2, 2011

Family Search Website – Free Central / Eastern European Records – #Genealogy, #Slavic

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk was checking out the family search  European Holdings for Slavic record counts / images to see what progress was made up through 2011.

It is good if your heritage includes the Germanic peoples or locales which were previously under their dominion. Do not get me wrong. I am thrilled that there  now over a million Polish records/images online or indexed at

Records Percentage
Austria 196,940 0.37
Czech Republic 85,469 0.16
Germany 50,998,675 96.98
Hungary Browsable Images Only 0.00
Poland 1,002,155 1.91
Russia 303,146 0.58
Slovakia Browsable Images Only 0.00
Ukraine 14,143 0.03

We have the ability to better. Please consider volunteering as an indexer. You can start and stop and start again, your  volunteering at any time. Find out more at Every little bit helps. Stanczyk managed to do over 150 records this year. Genealogy is collaborative. Helping each other, we also help ourselves. Please pitch in — make this part of your Random Act of Genealogical Kindness efforts.

November 21, 2011

Roots Tech – Ancestry App v 3.0.1 – #Genealogy, #Technology, #Meme

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Yesterday (20th-November-2011), Stanczyk’s iPhone flagged his attention that his App had an update available (Version 3.0.1).

What’s New in Version 3.0.1

  • Now the App has Shaky Leaves! The “Shaky Leaf” hints point you at possible new discoveries.
  • A simple merge tool helps toadd new relatives & info to your family tree
  • A new in-app purchase option with special  pricing  for
  • This new version also automatically adds information to photos
  • It allows you to change your tree privacy settings in the App
  • Adds an integrated user feedback & support feature
  • Its faster and more stable (Time will tell)

I tried it on a new tree with a few people. When I download the tree and used Roots Magic 4.x to display the Gedcom, I still get a tree without the proper family linkages. This bug appeared before iOS5 and still persists. I do not get it on my older pre-iOS5 trees that existed on (before the bug). This bug is not an Ancestry App bug. So early adopters will not see this bug unless you create a new tree and download the Gedcom file for use in another family tree program. The tree appears just fine on and also in the Ancestry App. I am not certain what is happening in the GEDCOM format of the file. I can use Roots Magic 4.x on older trees (downloaded Gedcoms) and the family relationships are fine.

So I am leaning towards this being an bug (not a Roots Magic bug).

There was NO mention of whether this makes the Ancestry App iOS5 compatible. It says, it requires iOS4 or later to run the App. It is a 15.9MB download so it takes a bit of time and bandwidth to download. Still it is under the 20MB that forces an iTunes on the computer download. Synching works fine in both directions, so you can create or modify your family tree on the web or in the smartphone App and both sides stay in synch. Because you update to 3.0.1, your entire tree will need to be downloaded. If you get to be about 1,000 people this does take a noticeable amount of time. For 100 people trees or less the delay is miniscule.

Download the new version. Portable Genealogy is back. But please Ancestry, can you fix the Gedcom issue, so I do not need to see people complaining on the Ancestry-app-mailing-list any more? Your website should work interoperable with other genealogy programs that support the GEDCOM standard or Ancestry should remove the feature “Supports GEDCOM”.

October 28, 2011


by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

mi·nu·ti·a(e) –

a minor or trivial detail(s,  trifles)

Stanczyk has been mired in minutia or since it is a plethora of minutia, then perhaps minutiae is appropriate. However, I like the sound of minutia, while  minutiae sounds like a Japanese anime character. You see, I am mired in a mountain of minutia — even my writing has been infected by the minutia.

I Tweaked the Blog Again …

  1. I deleted a redundant page and now have the TABs (really menus, although not properly used that way) at the top. Down the side I now have: About StanczykGazetteers, &  Maps
  2. Gazetteers is now complete (or at least no longer under construction) and is a credible resource to start your work on gazetteers.
  3. The other two pages had slight tweaks to them.
  4. I am evolving the top TABs (Dziennik Polski, Biechow, Pacanow, etc.) in true menus, with menu items. I hope this will organize my materials for faster finding and utilization and to provide for more content, easily found and to make better use of that scarce real estate at the top.

Keep your eyes peeled.

Roots Technology …

Stanczyk has been trying to get his Roots Tech organized and ready to be deployed. As you know technology is slippery as an eel and hard to master/muster into a kind of electronic Swiss knife. My focus is portable genealogy — taking my research & tools with me into the field (uh, libraries, archives, churches/synagogues, courthouses, vital records offices, and cemeteries). So the smartphone and the cloud have been an emphasis. My latest tool in my bag of tricks is the iPhone app: ImageToText . This little application allows you to take a picture of a page of text, it recognizes the text (in the picture just taken), and then you can email that text to yourself (or anyone else really). So now you do not have to scribble down that paragraph of text or that page from a city directory. Just (1) start ImageToText, (2) Take a picture, (3) Send an email. What comes to your mailbox is NOT the image but OCR’ed (OCR is optical character recognition) text in the body of the email message. I like that a lot.

LDS Films Online …

I have mentioned this a couple of times before. It was a concept that was coming. It came. OK I tried it, but I could not use the first implementation because they could NOT return a list of MY Family History Centers (why would I want to order a microfilm that was only for other states, i. e. UT). Ok ,they have finally fixed their problems and I can now report that My Account is working. So go to  and create an account, set it up and start ordering microfilm. – Keep this handy (Bookmark it / Make it a Favorite). This is the link to your Microfilm/Account Dashboard.

read more »

August 9, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Useful Websites … #5 Online Databases in Poland

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is a Data Architect by trade. So if it is one thing I love it is databases. This posting is all about some online Polish Databases. The Parish Church Books is a website that collects and indexes and keeps it up to date . It points you to the website, but it is written from a Poland point of view. So I have decoded the website index and made them into LINKS (URLs) so you can click on them and go to the resource from their list. Enjoy!

Parish Church Books

The above Polish website (from Poland and in Polish language) attempts to gather in one place index all interesting projects where Church Parish Indexes are being collected in online databases. This page is updated often. This makes it an excellent website for your bookmarks/favorites (or add it to delicious).

Index of Databases




Pomorskie TG

The Pomorskie Genealogical Society (Pomorskie TG) website needs some explanation. It has a menu named “PomGenBase“;  Click on menu, then on the submenu, “Search PomGenBase” and click on the final submenu (one of five: Christenings, Marriages, Deaths,  Cemeteries or Monuments) to search.

Poznan Project


June 27, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Useful Websites … #4 Genealogical Societies in Poland

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, continues with his favorite websites in Poland. I hope you speak Polish or at least have mastered using Google Translate .

Pay especial attention to: Polskiego Towarzystwa Genealogicznego (Polish Genealogical Society). They have valuable databases online and their forums have experts, some of whom speak English and generally all of them are friendly and knowledgeable. Stanczyk once found a Polish genealogist who had ancestors from the same villages as mine. This fine lad (Jacek) from Krakow even shared images from church books with me and he was amenable to being a genealogy researcher for me on a trip to an Archive! I also found some distant cousins who traded emails with me on the website’s email facility and that was helpful. One of my grandfather’s cousins was a member of Haller’s Army (aka Blue Army)  and I was able to find his record amongst the fallen in one of their books, which answered why he was no longer found in any US census or in any US death record [since he had died in World War I overseas in Poland’s post WWI battle with Russia]. These snippets of info have been able to enrich my family tree. Finally, they have a database of parishes that is invaluable.

Take a look and see what you find …

Genealogical Societies (Some w/ Heraldic Info) WebSite
Bydgoskie Towarzystwo Heraldyczno–Genealogiczne
Galicyjskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
Kaliskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
Lubelskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
MaloPolska Towarzystwa Genealogicznego
Opolskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
Ostrowskiego Towarzystwa Genealogicznego
Polskiego Towarzystwa Genealogicznego (Polish Genealogucal Society)
Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
Śląskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
Suwalskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
Świętokrzyskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne “Świętogen”
Towarzystwo Genealogiczne Centralnej Polski
Towarzystwo Genealogiczne Ziemi Częstochowskiej
Towarzystwo Genealogiczno – Heraldyczne w Poznaniu
Warszawskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne
Wielkopolskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne „Gniazdo”
Heraldic Societies in Poland WebSite
Polskie Towarzystwo Heraldyczne
Związek Szlachty Polskiej

Let me know what you find!

June 26, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Useful Websites … #3

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

To recap, please look at Stanczyk’s little graphic. We have covered, Poland’s Digital Libraries (Biblioteka Cyfrowa), and now number three in our series:  .

If you want to trace Polish genealogy a good many skills are required of the researcher. The ability to read a map or a gazetteer is critical. Where is Babcia’s village?  So is good for locating today’s existing villages/towns/cities. If you use Google Maps, then the basic concept should be familiar to you. But Stanczyk likes because you lookup the village. To lookup a placename you enter the village in the field with the title ‘Miejscowość’ in the pink dialog box with the title, ‘Pokaż na mapie’ (‘Show on Map’). Finally, you press the button named, ‘Pokaż’ (Show). That is it. The village appears, assuming it still exists and you are fortunate enough to spell it correctly. If the placename you entered is a common one, then you may see a list of choices to examine and pick from. That is it and you have located dziadek’s (grandfather’s) home town. Of course, you have probably done some extensive research to get to this point. But now you have the lay of the land of your ancestral village. The radio buttions by ‘Zebliż’ change the zoom of the map; so adjust to your needs. All this is well and good and mostly just like Google Maps, except the ability lookup by name. But there have been a few new tricks added to this wonderful tool.

It already gave you the population (ex. 1275 osób, like for Pacanow). You need not enter the diacriticals. It also gave you woj. ,  pow. ,  and gmina. Which you may think of as  state, county, and township/borrough. Write these down, you will need them over and over again. Sadly, these levels of administration have changed since your grandparent’s time. You also get a postal code and telephone prefix in case you seek out family in the mother country. If that were all it would be a useful tool. But as I said, they have enhanced this web application. There is a valuable drop down named, ‘Przydatne punkty’ (“Useful points’). It only allows you to pick one selection. I find ‘kościoły’ (Churches) and ‘cmentarze’ (Cemeteries) the most useful to a genealogist. A word to the wise. The symbols that pop-up on the map (if any,  at your zoom level) are woefully incomplete. So the church you are seeking may not show, as in my case. But I am hopeful that they will keep adding to his valuable resource. This option is akin to that of ‘search nearby’ in Google Maps. Originally, I did not use Google Maps for Poland or Ukraine because it was woeful in listing villages and its ability to search nearby was no good for countries that did not have English as their primary language. But I see today that those issues have been resolved by Google. But still gives you the population and administration levels and other demographics that Google has yet to provide. Stanczyk does have to praise Google in one way. The ‘little yellow man’ that you can place on most US roads to get a web-cam still panoramic view of the location is replaced with little blue ‘dots’ where you can drop him and see photographs from that spot (Which Pacanow seemed to have many). So I guess you should use both and to geo-locate your ancestral village. To get  the spelling correct, perhaps you can use JewishGen’s (also now in Shtetl Seeker tool to help you get the spelling correct. Alas, that is another useful website for another day….

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