14 October 2009, Vol. 12, No. 10
Table of Contents
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
The Darkroom
You Found It
Subscriptions, Submissions,
Advertising, and Reprints
RootsWeb Resources
RootsWeb Helpdesk
Check here for frequently asked questions about RootsWeb.
RootsWeb Newsroom
Check here for the latest RootsWeb news.
RootsWeb Store
Check here for the latest in genealogy books, software, photos, and more.
RootsWeb Review Archives
Check here for previous editions.
Using RootsWeb

By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime; it’s a passion."

Demystifying Copyrights

Copyrights may be the single most misunderstood topic on the planet, and unfortunately, genealogists are prone to asserting copyrights improperly. 

Many assume copyrights are all about writing. They are applied to writing, but are more specifically about rights – e.g., the right of an author establishes copying guidelines for intellectual property.

We see copyrights applied to music, photography and elsewhere – but often, they are misapplied. You may be surprised to learn which items can’t be copyrighted:

  1. dates
  2. facts
  3. slogans
  4. short phrases
  5. conversations
  6. modifications of another’s work
  7. domain names
  8. public domain items
  9. antique treasures, such as old books and diaries

Before you wonder if I am a copyright lawyer, I’m not.

I learned this and more from the United States Copyright Office, which states,

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.”

I recommend the FAQs (frequently asked questions), some which are excerpted:

Can I register a diary I found in my grandmother’s attic?
You can register copyright in the diary only if you own the rights to the work, for example, by will or by inheritance. Copyright is the right of the author of the work or the author’s heirs or assignees, not of the one who only owns or possesses the physical work itself. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Who Can Claim Copyright.”

How long does a copyright last?
The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code).”

How much of someone else’s work can I use without getting permission?
Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words... or percentage of a work...”

How much do I have to change in order to claim copyright in someone else’s work?
Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. Accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another’s work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner’s consent...”

The website discusses copyright registration, which is useful, but not mandatory. And since authors have varying ideas as to the conditions under which works can be reproduced, I recommend stating your intentions upfront.

RootsWeb Review does this at the end of each issue.

“Permission to reprint articles from RootsWeb Review is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, provided:

  1. the reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; and
  2. the following notice appears at the end of the article: Previously published in RootsWeb Review: [date, volume, number]

If you have questions or wish to tell us about reprints, we’d love to hear from you. Now, isn’t that easy?

And if you’d like to establish your own "upfront" copyright guidelines, explore Creative Commons, a non-profit organization.  It provides:
tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry.”

Many RootsWeb users, such as Jon Anderson, use Creative Commons. At the bottom of his webpage, click the icon for permissions to share and adapt his research.

Jon’s reasons for using Creative Commons are interesting.
“Personally, I put everything I do with family history under one of these [Creative Common] licenses because my purpose for doing genealogy is to connect people to their ancestors. I want the records I work on to become freely available, even when people can no longer contact me. Traditional copyright is very ownership-based and over time, records become locked up in copyright and not available. People move, eventually pass on, and unfortunately sometimes their records pass out of accessibility with them. By using the Creative Commons licenses, I can grant people the level of freedom to use my work, and to use it in new ways, without it being necessary for them to track me down and get special permission every time. Of course, most of the time people are grateful and contact me anyway.”
Editor’s Comments: We receive many emails monthly regarding copyright infringement based on other members copying information from their trees or sites. As Mary notes, information such as dates, names and places are not copyrightable. If you choose to publish your research publicly you are allowing others to utilize that information. On a related note, in WorldConnect there is an option to allow others to download a gedcom file of your tree – if you choose to allow others to copy your tree you are implying consent for them to utilize this information and to add it to their tree. On the other hand, there are a few items I want to mention that are protected under copyright law; notes that the tree owner makes about family members or research, or an authors evaluation about their research. A basic rule of thumb for what is protected is, if the content is the individual’s personal thoughts, their intellectual property, it is protected by copyright law.
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Genealogy Tip

By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime; it’s a passion."

WorldConnect’s Privacy Options

When uploading a GEDCOM to WorldConnect, it is best to protect the privacy of living individuals. This is set with the “Living Person Options” under “Tree Settings”, which will clean or remove living individuals using a cutoff year. When there is no birth or christening date, an approximation is calculated.

Cutoff Year 1908

The remove option shows no indication of the person in the file.

The clean option alludes to a living person -- but without personal information.  For example, a file that previously looked like,

ID: I2800
Name: John Hitchcock b. 17 APR 1912 Boston, MA
Sex: M.

would now look like,

ID: I2800
Name: Living Hitchcock
Sex: M.

Sometimes, it’s desirable to remove other persons, such as centenarians.  Use the “Individuals To Remove” box to enter ID numbers, followed by options which affect the individual and descendants.

Individuals to Remove:
I23202#”Removed by request.”

In the examples, “,L” marks a person as living, “,R” indicates removal, “*” applies an option to the descendants, and “#” precedes a comment.  The following examples were excepted from WorldConnect’s Help Desk article “Protecting the Privacy of the Living”.


Results in


removes individual I0001


removes descendants of I0001


removes descendants of I0001, and adds a comment to the entry — for example, a comment reading "this person requested that they be removed"


removes individual I0001 (top line), and
his/her descendants (second line)


marks individual I0001 as living


marks descendants of I0001 as living

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A Brick Wall Tumbles

I read about the FamilySearchLabs mailing list in the Rootsweb Review. Curiosity prompted me to browse the group archives.  The mention of new items on Family Search Labs prompted me to go there to take a look.

I’ve been searching, searching, and searching for a way to confirm the name of my husband’s great grandmother. She disappeared from her family around 1894, after the death of her son. According to my husband’s 95 year old aunt her name was never spoken in the family so she didn’t have a clue what it might be. The aunt’s mother was only about 11 years old at the time her mother left and was allegedly told that she went west with a wagon train and no one ever heard from her again. I decided a while back that was just a family tale probably containing shreds of truth but not the whole story.

My husband’s grandmother died in San Antonio, TX during the flu pandemic in 1918. I’ve been trying to find a death record for her for several years. I even had someone in Texas do a look up to no avail.  I’d been told by a number of different sources that since she died at home there may not have been a death certificate or record because the state wasn’t absolutely requiring them at that time. One of the new items on Family Search Labs is Texas Deaths 1890-1976 so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a look. I came straight out of my chair when I not only found the record but also a copy of the original certificate which contains ta-dum - her mother’s maiden name!

Many thanks to the mailing list and to FamilySearch Labs.

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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Losing Family Treasures

When a spouse dies and the remaining spouse remarries, there is always a big chance that the treasures will not be passed down to the family. My grandmother died when she was quite young, 53 to be exact. My grandfather remarried to a lady who tried to cut him off from his family.  When he died at the age of 95, her daughter helped get rid of many mementos and told many of my grandfather’s children & grandchildren that none of the things existed anymore. I’m not talking about anything of real monetary value.  The missing items included my grandmother’s churns that she used when they lived in the country, and a clock that had been handed down in my grandfather’s family. The clock now resides in a step son’s house, we believe because my grandfather’s will disappeared.  When our step grandmother died a few years later (she was also in her 90’s) her daughter came in from the distant state that she lived in and quickly divided and disposed of many things, including family pictures that she found interesting.

My advice to anyone who is in this type of circumstances is to distribute items to whom they should go before the second spouse is in the picture.  Maybe you could suggest to "let me help you get things out of the way". This may sound a little callous, but people that come into a family as the "2nd family" can also be very callous. I have the scars on my heart to prove it.

Name withheld

Conflicting Census Data

The "Duplicates in Census Research" submission in last month’s RootsWeb Review reminded me of a bizarre census mixup I found in my own searching. I read the 1860 census of Johnstown, NY first on film, and was relieved when my great-great- grandfather Michael Talbot was in jail only for robbery, noting that the man above him on the census was in jail for rape.

Later when looking up actual census records in Johnstown, I looked again at the entry for my gggrandfather and lo and behold - the two men’s convictions had been reversed and now Michael was listed as being in jail rape. I soon verified this by finding court records in the basement for Michael. When I mentioned this discrepancy to one of the clerks she said it was impossible, I must have misread the first census.  

Much later, in Salt Lake City, I found that the LDS Library had copies of both the state census records and the Federal ones.  Sure enough, the Johnstown one, where the census data was first recorded, had it correct and the Federal one, which had obviously been transcribed in order to send to Washington, had the crime data reversed

Cynthia Biasca

Duplication in the Census

I ran across an interesting possible duplication between the 1881 England and 1881 Canadian censuses.  There is a George Stephen, age 52, born in Scotland, (later Lord Mountstephen with the Canadian Pacific Railroad) with wife Annie, (Naturalized British Citizen) born in Corfu, and servant Mary McGee, (Lady’s Maid) age 20, born in Quebec, Canada listed as living in St. Margaret, London, England and in St Antoine Ward, Montreal, Quebec.  This was before the days of the Concorde.

Alex Dow in the UK

Have a story, question, genealogy resource, or tip you’d like to share with RootsWeb Review readers? Send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the editor or of RootsWeb.com.

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What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
New User-contributed Databases at RootsWeb


Submit Your Genealogical Data to a RootsWeb Database.

New/Updated Freepages by Individuals

The Guymer Website  covers the Guymer and Gymer surnames starting in England and spreading to Canada, United Stated and Australia.

The Rider/Ryder Homepage lists the descendants of John Rider and Freelove Hill of Rhode Island.

If you have a new or substantially revised freepage at RootsWeb and would like to see it mentioned here, send the URL, the title, and a BRIEF description, including major surnames, to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

If your genealogy- or history-related site is located somewhere other than RootsWeb, you can add the link to RootsWeb here.

Request a Freepage (Free Web Account).

New/Updated Websites by Counties, States, and Historical Societies

AHGP = American History and Genealogy Project
DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
UDC = United Daughters of the Confederacy
USD 1812 = United States Daughters of 1812
USGW = United States GenWeb Project


  • akweb — Alaska Genealogy and History
  • alcalho2 — Calhoun Co (AL) AHGP
  • alchero2 — Cherokee Co (AL) AHGP
  • alclay — Clay Co (AL) AHGP
  • alclebur2 — Cleburne Co (AL) AHGP
  • aldekal3 — Dekalb Co (AL) AHGP
  • aletowah2 — Etowah Co (AL) AHGP
  • alicudc — UDC Interment Committee (AL)
  • aljacks2 — Jackson Co (AL) AHGP
  • alpfcdar — Peter Forney Chapter (AL) DAR
  • alrando2 — Randolph Co (AL) AHGP
  • arrvgs — River Valley (AR) Genealogy Society
  • arucgs — Union Co (AR) Genealogical Society
  • catulare — Tulare Co (CA) AHGP
  • gabarto2 — Bartow Co (GA) AHGP
  • gacatoos2 — Catoosa Co (GA) AHGP
  • gachatt2 — Chattooga Co (GA) AHGP
  • gadac — Georgia Society Daughters of the American Colonists
  • gadad2 — Dade Co (GA) AHGP
  • gahhs — Habersham Co (GA) Historical Society
  • gawalkahg — Walker Co (GA) AHGP
  • inrcdar — Rushville Chapter (IN) DAR
  • lacpcdar — Clairborne Parish Chapter (LA) DAR
  • miphdar — Piety Hill Chapter (MI) DAR
  • msdhcdar — David Holmes Chapter (MS) DAR
  • msscghs — Scott Co (MS) Genealogical and Historical Society
  • mstcdar — Tallahala Chapter (MS) DAR
  • njcjhcdr — Capt Joshua Huddy Chapter (NJ) DAR
  • nymahdar — Mahwenawasigh Chapter (NY) DAR
  • nywyomi2 — Wyoming Co (NY)
  • okkgs — Kiowa Co (OK) Genealogical Society
  • paccdar — Cumberland Co (PA) Chapter DAR
  • papunxsu — Punxsutawney (PA)
  • sccwhdar — Captain William Hilton Chapter (SC) DAR
  • scjbkudc — Joseph Brevard Kershaw Chapter #205 (SC) UDC
  • sdbuffal — Buffalo Co South Dakota (USGW)
  • sdhand — Hand Co South Dakota (USGW)
  • sdminergw — Miner Co South Dakota (USGW)
  • tndevrow  — Devrow (TN)
  • txbucha2 — Heastones of Buchanan Co, MO
  • txgcgs — Bear Creek (TX) Genealogical Society and Library
  • txjacscv — Jesse Anson Camp #282 (TX) Sons of Confederate Veterans
  • txsocvet — Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans
  • utwashin — Washington Co (UT) USGW
  • wahugue — The Huguenot Society of Washington State


  • ausshfhg — St. Helens (Tasmania, Australia) Family History Group
  • autwcfhh — Tweed Gold Coast (Australia) Family History Heritage
  • mxmssdar — Mexico State Society DAR

Some of these Web pages might not be accessible yet. They are created by volunteers, so if one that interests you isn’t up yet, please check again in a few days or next week.

Note that the ~[tilde] before the Web account name is required.
For example, the Calhoun County (AL) AHGP website is at

Request a Freepage (Free Web Account).

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists

New Regional Mailing Lists

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists

  • BRICK-WALLS — A list for all genealogical dead end research, when research hits a brick wall and not anything is known beyond these barriers.  We want to share techniques, ideas and possible solutions to get beyond those walls.

To find or subscribe to a mailing list, or to search archived posts to more than 30,000 RootsWeb-hosted genealogy mailing lists, go here.

Request a Mailing List.

The Darkroom
My great grandmother, Mary Arminta “Minta” Musick HAGER, the daughter of Mary Collins and her partner, Abe Musick, was born 16 Oct 1865 and died 16 Oct 1948. She was married to James Morgan Hager on 02 Dec 1878 at White House, Johnson Co., KY.

If you look closely you can see she is holding a pipe in her hand. The ’bulge’ in her apron pocket is her tobacco tin.”

Nancy Sparks Morrison

For a chance to see your ancestor’s photo in the RootsWeb Review, send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com. Make sure to include your name and a brief description of the photograph.

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You Found It
More Gotobeds

The family of Gotobed was quite popular around the Cambridgeshire, Essex area of England and was at its zenith about 1881 with 349 people in the census.

Three Gotobeds that I like are the questioning, May Gertrude Gotobed, born in 1877 and the echoed reply of, Gertrude May Gotobed, born in 1900 and 1905.

Thanks to John Court
Stick To It

While searching through a reel for information on my family tree, I saw the funniest last name I ever saw. Stickingbottom.   

Thanks to Esther Meerschaut

One of my Maine ancestors is named Agreen Crabtree.     

Thanks to Harriette Hanna Perkins
An Iowa Union

Fertile and Manley are neighboring small towns in North Central Iowa. Some time ago, the local newspaper announced the engagement of young local couple : "Fertile Girl to wed Manley Man."

Thanks to Don Woodley

Found a funny name or humorous tidbit in old records, or an amusing entry in census, parish, church, or other records? Send these and other genealogy-related humor/humour items to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

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Permission to reprint articles from RootsWeb Review is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, provided:

  1. the reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; and
  2. the following notice appears at the end of the article: Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 14 October 2009, Vol. 12, No. 10
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