This year, the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society spring seminar featured Halvor Moorshead publisher of Family Chronicle Magazine, the History Magazine and Internet Genealogy. While Halvor came from Stouffville, Ontario, Canada, he started out by saying his mother was Norwegian and his father was an American of English, Welsh, German and French blood. Because of this, he said he knew next to nothing about Canadian research. He also introduced his wife as an infidel (she is not a genealogist). He had a wonderful English accent and cautioned us to listen carefully because of the accent. He was actually born in England and lived there for several years while he was growing up.
I was really looking forward to seeing Halvor Moorshead at the seminar as I have been a Family Chronicle subscriber for years and Internet Genealogy subscriber since the first issue. I was even mentioned in an article in one issue. I had also sent in an article for the first book on Brick Wall solutions as had Marion and Earl. The seminar was to be in the meeting room of the main library in Spokane. About a month before the seminar, I noticed in the libraries monthly newsletter, a small blurb stating all the Spokane libraries would be closed on May 5th for a training day for all the librarians. That was the day for our seminar at the library. A quick E-mail to our local program director verified we were to have the first floor and the parking garage all to ourselves all day May 5th. It worked out well.
Before the seminar started, Halvor wandered through the crowd greeting people who had come for the seminar. His first session was on The Internet 2007 What's New and What's Coming. As he started, he gave the URL of the articles and notes he used in the handout. He began by telling us that we used to always say to interview your oldest relatives; then start back from there. That is unchanged, but today many new records appear on the internet daily. Look up the census for your family, check out Proquest Heritage Quest, Ancestry and Automated Research. Learn to use Google effectively. One example is to put your ancestor in Google followed by his date of birth three dots and date of death (example Hansen 1870...1961) and Google will search between those dates for Hansen hits. This is a way to cut down the huge number of hits if your surname is common.
Next was the session on Researching Old Newspapers Online, He said there is no way to know how many pages are online but Internet Genealogy's estimate is 200 million pages and every word can be searched. Two to five million pages are being added each month. He also explained the Smith, Sanders, and Moorshead Rule for estimating the number of names in a database. Smith surname has about 1 percent of any database, Sanders about 0.1 percent and Moorshead about one in a million. So if a database says it has 5 million names it should contain 5 Moorsheads, 5000 Sanders and 50,000 Smiths. Try it out. It does seem to work. Not exact each time but close.
After lunch, Halvor's third topic was The Web 2.0. This was about sharing and community building, Blogs, RSS, Podcasts, and Wikis. A Wiki is the program used to create something like Wikipedia. It allows anyone to change the website to add or edit information on the website without getting the webmaster to do it for you. Is this a good thing or will bad people trash it?
I think many people have accessed Wikipedia online and it is now about ten times bigger than the Encyclopedia Britannica online and still growing. We may see a huge online family tree Wiki with millions of genealogists contributing. Google Books and the Million Book Project from the Carnegie Mellon University are scanning 1200 to 3000 pages an hour. Data storage is no longer a problem. Soon we will have a TeraByte hard drive (a TeraByte is equal to 1000 GigaBytes). The whole Library of Congress 29 million books will fit on 17 to 20 TeraBytes.
The last session was on Dating Old Photographs, and he explained the technical processes but warned that this can be misleading sometimes. He showed an ad for a photographer from an 1890s newspaper. In the ad it said the photographer made copies of old photographs. Thus, if you had a 30 year old tintype and he made a copy on a cabinet card you might think the photograph was from the 1890s not from the 1860s when the first photograph was taken. Check the hairstyles, ladies dresses, poses. All these are clues to help you date a photograph.
Halvor Moorshead is an excellent speaker. If you get a chance to hear him speak, be sure not to pass it up.