9 March 2011, Vol. 14, No. 3
Table of Contents
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
Volunteer Opportunities
The Darkroom
You Found It
Subscriptions, Submissions, and
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.”

Beyond the Obvious: Web Browsers and Search Engines

Web browsers and search engines are phenomenal tools -- and invaluable to us as genealogists.

They process requests, suggest websites with lightning speed, and allow us to make general or restrictive queries. As discussed in “Using Search Engines to Search RootsWeb and Other Genealogy Sites” (RootsWeb Review 05 March 2008, Vol. 11, No. 10) most search engines have Advanced or Option menus, where you can,

  • group keywords
  • direct queries to specific websites
  • direct to those written in specific languages, or
  • eliminate or require search terms to be included.

If you wish to avoid the menus, commands can be entered from the Search Bar. For instance, a specific website can be searched through the site command, and eliminating or requiring search results, can be done through the use of Boolean operators, such as AND, OR and NOT. (Plus (+) and minus (-) symbols are acceptable substitutions for AND and NOT.)

  • “George Washington” NOT President
  • “John Adams” -Quincy
  • site:rootsweb.ancestry.com “Mary Harrell-Sesniak” AND “Joan Young”
    This finds RootsWeb pages where we (the RootsWeb Review columnists), are mentioned together. If you changed AND to OR, then it would return pages where either of us are listed.

Another favorite for some browsers, is the Filetype command, allowing you to search for specific types of documents, such as graphic types and PDFs (portable document formats).

  • Martha Washington filetype:pdf
  • Martha Washington filetype:png[portable network graphic type]

And some allow you to specify date ranges, as in this Chrome example, which searches for Harrell obituaries published between 2009 and 2011.

  • daterange:harrell obituary 2009-2011

Finding Information without Opening Webpages
There is so much more to browsers and search engines than what is found in the search menus – and what is exciting, is that many don't require you to open external sites!

Bing, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Yahoo and others have numerous built-in commands. Not only can most perform math and define terms, but some display stock prices, flight schedules and the current weather.

These examples work in Chrome and many others:

  • define:Ahnentafel
  • quote:ACOM[ticker symbol for Ancestry.com]
  • movie “Just Go With It”
  • time Philadelphia
  • weather Salt Lake City
  • Atlanta Boston [displays flights and some fares between two cities]
  • (4*12)/3 [multiply 4 times 12 then divide by 3]
  • 4^2 [calculate 4 to the 2nd power]

To learn more on these and other features, such as metric conversions, see the "Google Search Basics" link at the end of this article. Capitalization doesn't matter, but some browsers require punctuation, such as a colon or a plus. If you forget and enter a query with the wrong syntax, your browser will most likely interpret the request correctly or suggest the proper format.

Browser Built-ins
Many genealogists alternate between browsers, since one may return different results or have a feature not available elsewhere.

Try setting a priority of one search term over another.

  • genealogy prefer:Ohio

Or set your search to find a term in a title, text or address bar (e.g., URL of a webpage). The Universal Resource Locator is where you typically enter a www or http web address.

Since commands vary from browser to browser, try these examples.

Safe Searching
Many developers are starting to provide environments for safe searching, so you don't inadvertently open an adult site or one with malware (malicious software).

To find this feature, search the browser for a Safety, Tools or Options menu. In general, settings may be set to strict, moderate or filters that you set yourself. If you can't locate the feature, try Google's safesearch command.

  • safesearch:female photography

Hopefully this will inspire you to expand your searches. Since updates are frequent, be sure to review help menus and see expanded explanations at these websites.

Bing's New Operators Explained

Google Search Basics and More Search Help

Firefox Browsing Basics

Internet Explorer Readiness Toolkit

Introducing Safari 5

Yahoo Search Help Basics

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Genealogy Tip

By Joan Young

Are Your Genealogy Posts Getting Lost in the Forest?

Everyone has considered the age-old question "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?" Both sides of that issue can be debated with valid arguments. However, when it comes to family history research there can be no debate about the difficulty in posting queries or data that will help interested people find your posts. This is especially true when your message concerns ancestors with surnames (last names) that are also common words or given names (first names). When you are researching surnames such as FOREST, LANE, ROBINS, or ROBERT, make use of all available options at your disposal at the time you post the message, and also when searching for existing posts. If you are not careful with common-word surnames your message will be like the tree that falls in the forest and no one will see or hear it.

Some pointers that may help you when posting and searching are:

1) Post your queries in places such as the RootsWeb/Ancestry message boards where the database offers a dedicated surname field. Enter only the surnames found in your query in the surname box. Enter the surnames in a manner that will enable proper indexing for future searches. If you enter: ROBERT(S) or LANE/LAINE your surnames may not be found in a search unless someone were to enter the names exactly as you wrote them which is unlikely. Enter the surnames and variants individually with a comma and space to separate them: LANE, LAINE, ROBERT, ROBERTS. Do not enter any characters or symbols, dashes or slashes, which may cause the searcher to miss your entries or may introduce non-surnames into the search field. The words "and" "or" "etc." and "family" are not surnames and should not be entered into the surnames box. Properly entered surnames in a dedicated field will yield only surnames and no extraneous words in a search.

While most researchers will perform a search to find your message, some people prefer to browse through all messages on a board scanning the posts for items of interest. Commas separating surnames make it easier for researchers who browse to find names they are seeking. Your VAN WINKLE ancestors might be mistaken for separate surnames VAN and WINKLE unless you make use of commas as delimiters. Surname box entries listed: LANE, VAN WINKLE, ROBERT, ROBERTS make it clear exactly which surnames are included in your message. Don't let your VAN WINKLEs sleep for another twenty years.

2) If you are posting your query or data in a database that has no dedicated surname search feature (such as the RootsWeb mailing list archives), be sure to include as much information about your ancestor as possible to help others find your message. For example: if your query concerns James ROBERT of Perth, Australia be sure to include the full name and location in your post. Many search engines permit searches for full names such as: "James ROBERT" or perform Boolean searches for James NEAR ROBERT, or James AND ROBERT, or even "James ROBERT" AND Australia. Try various combinations of search criteria to find the maximum number of posts.

3) Make use of online databases for posting or uploading your family tree. Family Tree databases such as RootsWeb's WorldConnect will always have a search engine that finds the surnames included in your tree and not similarly-spelled extraneous words.

After reading the above information, are you having second thoughts about your existing RootsWeb message board posts? Here's an additional tip: you can now edit (or delete) your own posts on the boards. So, do a search for your posts and fix errors in surname entries, or remove obsolete queries and post an updated message. Don't let your queries be like the fallen tree in the empty forest never to be seen or heard from again.

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Emigration Record Found

I am of retirement age now, but as a youth I remember my paternal grandparents speaking in German when they didn't want me to understand what they were saying. Decades later, in a discussion with my father I asked how long ago our family had immigrated, citing their command of the German language. My father couldn't say, but began reciting the family tree from memory, and I started writing. And my interest in genealogy was born. Later, I was able to confirm that every detail he gave me was dead on, even tracing my family back into the 1700's in Germany. But I was never able to pinpoint the immigration to America.

In your 9 Jan 2008 Rootsweb Review you gave the address of the newly opened German Emigrants Database in Bremenhaven. There (for a small fee) I was able to find my gggfather’s date of arrival in Baltimore, who was with him, their ages, where in Germany they had previously resided, the name of the ship they arrived on, and his listed occupation.

Thank you for giving the information that was able to end a 20 year quest.

Thanks to Roger Schumacher
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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
Bleed-through Is Not Always Bad

The 9 Feb 2011 issue of the RootsWeb Review had a good tip on using a black backing sheet when photocopying a two-sided document, to avoid bleed-through in the copy.  Sometimes, however, the bleed-through itself can be a valuable hint.  You may receive a photocopy of a document and WISH you had the reverse side.  If there is bleed-through on the photocopy, try reversing it in a Photoshop-type application (or hold it up to a mirror), and the back side may become readable.  This also helps verify the correct page order in multi-page documents.

Thanks to Janet Wright

Simple Searches = Better Results

Over 20 yrs. ago when I was in college I was told that, in reality, the computer only had the intelligence of a 2-3 year old. Thus any time you search for something "dumb it down" to talking to a small child.

For the surname, Driver, I wrote in the search engine - ancestors of the surname Driver. No commas, etc. I got a page full of them.  Using – family surname Driver – also works.

The last name, Search, was harder still. Brainstorming for a dumb down phrase, we came up with the idea of using a common first name in front of the surname. Thus we put it exactly like this in Google - ancestors of "Mary Search". The quotes were put on the first & last name. BINGO! We got quite a few. Then we changed it to John, James, etc. Search & added more.

Using this method on just about anything will amaze you how much more you'll get of what you really want on the first page of your search results.

Thanks to Sylvia McClelland-Morrison
Cemetery Listing Solves Mystery

My grandparents died when my father and his brothers and sisters were still young, so they did not have a lot of information about the family. Someone outside the family told my aunt that they had another brother who had died in an accident when he was two or three years old, but the family was never able to confirm that. After my father died in 1994 at the age of 86, I did a lot of research, unearthing tons of information, but nothing about another child. 

Every so often I put my grandfather's name in Goggle search, and just last month when I did that, to my amazement, it popped up in a USGenWeb Cemetery listing for Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in Bienville Parish, LA. I knew that my grandfather, after he was married,  had attended college in Mt. Lebanon and was amazed to find a cemetery listing, "Richard,  son of Rev. R .T.D. and Mrs. Carpenter born May 10, 1900 and died on Feb 6, 1903.”  I had found the missing child. Thanks to GenWeb, I had not only confirmed the story of another son, I had his name, date of his birth and death. Sadly, all of his siblings are gone. Because my father named my brother after my grandfather, the name of that baby boy, Richard, lives on in our family.  

Thanks to Anne Eiland

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


Request a Free Web Site Account.

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

CD17C = Colonial Dames of the 17th Century
DAC = Daughters of the American Colonists
DW1812 = US Daughters of the War of 1812
SUVCW = Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
UDC = United Daughters of the Confederacy


  • azpgs — Phoenix Genealogical Society (Arizona)
  • cagha — California Genealogy and History Archives
  • ilshs — Sheffield (Illinois) Historical Society
  • kypulas2 — Pulaski County (Kentucky) Military and Newspaper Transcriptions
  • orjbdar — Juniper Butte (Oregon) DAR
  • pamucsuv — Mt Union Church Camp # 502 (PA) SUVCW
  • tncgmdac — Colonel Gideon Macon Chapter (TN) DAC
  • tnwilli3 — Williamson County (TN) ALHN
  • txeccd17 — Embassy Chapter (TX) CD17C
  • txjs1812 — James Smith Chapter (TX) DW1812
  • txttrudc — Terry's Texas Rangers UDC
  • utllsc — Logan (Utah) Library Special Collections



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. These sites are accessible at www.rootsweb.com/~xxxxxx, where xxxxxx is the account/site name.

Note that the ~[tilde] before the Web account name is required.
For example, the California Genealogy and History Archives web site is at

Request a Free Web Site Account.

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists 

New Regional Mailing Lists

  • AUS-NSW-MACLEAY-RIVER — For discussion of local and family history research in the Macleay River and Kempsey region of New South Wales, Australia
  • DEL-ALFOLD — Mailing List for the genealogical research for the region of Dél Alföld or Southern Great Plain of Hungary.  This region covers the counties Bács-Kiskun, Békés & Csongrád.
  • EL-DUNANTUL — Mailing List for the genealogical research for the region of Dél Dunántúl or Southern Transdanubia in Hungary. This region covers the counties Somogy, Tolna, and Baranya.
  • ESZAK-ALFOLD — Mailing List for the genealogical research for the region of Észak Alföld or Northern Great Plain of Hungary.  This region covers the counties Hajdú-Bihar, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg.
  • EXCELSIOR-SPRINGS-MUSEUM — A mailing focusing on the history & genealogy in Excelsior Springs, Missouri (located in both Clay & Ray Counties,
  • KOZEP-DUNANTUL — Mailing List for the genealogical research for the region of Közép Dunántúl or Central Transdanubia in Hungary. This region covers the counties Fejér, Komárom-Esztergom, and Veszprém.
  • KOZEP-MAGYARORSZAG — Mailing List for the genealogical research for the region of Közép-Magyarország or Central Hungary.  This region covers the county Pest which includes the capital city Budapest.
  • KWAZULU-NATAL-SOUTH-AFRICA — Focus is on the South African province of Kwa-Zulu Natal (pre-1994 called Natal).  Covering families settling and living in the area, wars in the region and other relevant historical events.
  • LUHANSKA-OBLAST — Mailing List for the genealogical research of Luhanska Oblast in Ukraine.
  • LVIVSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogist research of Lvivska Oblast in Ukraine.
  • MYKOLAIVSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogist research of Mykolaivska Oblast in Ukraine
  • NORTHERN-CAPE-SOUTH-AFRICA — All links and interests regarding the Northern Cape of South Africa, whether people, settlers andhistory.
  • NYUGAT-DUNANTUL — Mailing List for the genealogical research for the region of Nyugat Dunántúl or Western Transdanubia in Hungary. This region covers the counties Zala, Vas, and Gyor-Moson-Sopron.
  • POLTAVSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogical research of Poltavska Oblast in Ukraine.
  • RIVENSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogical research of Rivenska Oblast in Ukraine
  • SUMSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogical research of Sumuska Oblast in Ukraine.
  • TERNOPILSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogical research of Ternopilska Oblast in Ukraine.
  • VINNYTSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogical research of Vinnytska Oblast in Ukraine.
  • VOLYNSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogical research of Volynska Oblast in Ukraine.
  • ZAPORIZHSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogical research of Zaporizhska Oblast in Ukraine.
  • ZHYTOMYRSKA-OBLAST — Mailing list for the genealogical research of Zhytomyrska Oblast in Ukraine.

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists

  • None

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.

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Volunteer Opportunities

Are you looking for an opportunity to give back to the genealogy community?
Check this section to learn more about some of our hosted projects and other projects you can participate in.

The World Archives Project is helping to keep the world’s stories alive. You can too by typing information from historical records into searchable online collections that are available to the public for free. Learn more.

New projects to Key:

United States African American Newspapers, 1823-1915

Poland Jewish Prisoners of War in Lublin 1939-1941

For a complete list of projects to key, and search click here.

If you know of genealogically related volunteer opportunities please email Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

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The Darkroom

My father, Robert E. Blaschke, is pictured in 1917 with his two older siblings, Dorothy on the left and Raymond on the right.  These sepia toned studio photos seemed to be quite the thing at that time, affordable even to middle class families.  The haircuts for both
boys and girls were similar, and the "family suite" added to their charm.  Robert is probably wearing his christening gown.

Thanks to James Blaschke

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
Old Uncle Dozey

I'm descended from a Johnson family on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in which there were several generations of men named Affradozi Johnson.  The first of the line was married there in about 1710.  One of the last was my great-great-great grandfather's brother who is referred to in an 1852 letter I have as "Old Uncle Dozey".  Certainly paints a picture, doesn't it? 

Thanks to John Mark Lambertson
A Chuckle in Divorce Papers

My grandmother-in-law would answer no questions about her first husband, whom she divorced in 1913, when my father-in-law was a toddler. So I had to go searching without any support from her!  I tracked down the petition of divorce, and learned that her complaint stated that the defendant had been guilty of gross neglect, failed to provide her with a home (they were compelled to live with her mother), failed to provide her with any money and that she was compelled to work all of their married life (a total of 4 years) except for a 6 month period when the baby was born. All that the defendant contributed to the support of their family for the necessities of life during their marriage was a sum total of $20.  My husband commented that he could hear her "voice" in the language of the complaint.  He said it sounded just like his Grandma!

Thanks to Robin Campbell

My father's mother was Willie.  Her sister was Love America (Lovey).  Their surname was Syphrett or Seifert.  The family was originally from the Alsace-Lorraine along the French-German border. 

Thanks to Lyndall Maxwell
Calling the Team

My paternal grandmother, Mary Maude (Leas) Hoelscher, was answering someone's question about her family and her siblings.  It was very unlike her to say something like this, so even though I was small at the time, I remember her answer.   "I swear my dad gave us our names and it sounds like you're calling a team of horses".  Claude, Maude, Mabel and Mayme were the children of John Sherman and Mary Belle (Curtis) Leas in the late 1890's.

They may have had names that sounded like horses, but they sure were good hardworking people.

Thanks to Connie (Hoelscher) Fairchild

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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  2. the following notice appears at the end of the article: Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 9 March 2011, Vol. 14, No. 3
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