Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post-Confucianism and colonialism

There has been quite a lot of discussion about post-colonialism (though I'm still not quite sure what that is), but it seems that Korean post-Confucianism is taking on elements of colonialism, as more and more Koreans adopt Western feminism, and reject the values of confucian society that stressed the importance of family and blood ties.

donga.com[English donga]:
Heo La-geum, professor of women’s studies at Ewha, says she often sees students who do not use their surnames in her classes. “In certain cases, people used the surnames of both parents to protest the patriarchal family system, but some criticized that using the surname itself is jus sanguinis,” she said.

“Since Korean culture has been heavily influenced by the Confucian practice of stressing blood ties, some are trying not to use their surnames as part of a cultural campaign.”

Some Asian societies, however, have not yet adopted surnames, as we have seen in some Sri Lankan cricketers, who simply have one name.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Genealogy Software Reviews

A rather useful web site I came across the other day is Genealogy Software Reviews.

It lists over 550 programs with about 700 reviews, and you can add your reviews of the programs you like best, or those you hate most, or anything in between.

So if you've heard of a program and would like to try it, come here to see what other users have had to say about it, and if you do try it, have your say as well.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records

About twenty years ago the Genealogical Society of South Africa had a cemetery documentation project, which I was involved in for a while. The moving spirit behind it was Peter Holden, who was concerned about the deterioration of gravestones, which because of weathering and vandalism were being lost, and their information along with them. There were many farm cemeteries and no one knew where they all were, so he wanted both the graves and cemeteries to be documented.

Martin Zoellner and I worked on a computer program to make it easy for people to enter information on graves and cemeteries, either on a laptop at the cemetery itself, or from notes at home, and these could all be submitted to a central database.

The scheme got bogged down in a debate on whether the documentation should be an index of names and dates only, or a full transcription of the inscriptions. I favoured the full transcription because it wouldn't entail a second trip to the cemetery to get the full inscription later, and by the time one made the second trip it could have deteriorated even more. Eventually I got bored with the debate and lost interest in the scheme, but I know quite a lot of gravestones were recorded, and put on the NAAIRS computer of the Archives. Peter Holden died, and I don't know what happened to it after that.

Now I've come across a scheme that seems to do what I had in mind -- record graves anywhere and everywhere, with volunteers contributing as much as they can.

Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records:
Find Graves.
Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials, add 'virtual flowers' and a note to a loved one's grave, etc.

I know there are several local schemes for recording cemeteries, and some of them are on the web. But with this you don't have to record entire cemeteries, you can just contribute a few graves you have recorded. Of, if you wish, you can contribute bulk transcriptions, and they provide a spreadsheet template that you can download to use for the transcriptions.

Perhaps South African genealogists could take over where Peter Holden left off, and indeed go back over some of the ground to record full transcriptions where only indexes were recorded the first time around. It is something that local genealogical societies could do as a project, or individuals can do in their spare time.

Why do online newspapers never tell you where they are?

This snippet appeared in The Spokesman-Review. OK, in this example there are enough contextual hints to tell you that the paper is probably published in the US state of Washington, possibly in a town called Kettle Falls, but why doesn't that information appear in the masthead or its electronic equivalent?

Jim Kershner’s This day in history - Spokesman.com - Dec. 3, 2010:
From our archives, 100 years ago

Women’s suffrage was less than a month old in the state, but the effects were already far-reaching.

And Kettle Falls was apparently in the forefront.

“Kettle Falls is believed to be the first town in the state of Washington to name women as members of the city council,” said the Spokane Daily Chronicle.

Two women, identified only as Mrs. E.B. Growdon and Mrs. T.L. Savage, had been appointed the day before as members of the council.

I was interested in the article because Growdon is one of the surnames I am interested in, but very often in such articles there aren't enough contextual hints to work out what place it is referring to.

And of course I'd like to know who Mrs E.B. Growdon was (if it was 100 years ago, she must be dead by now). And, knowing American customs, the "E.B." is probably her husband's initials and not her own. They may have given women votes, but their own names didn't come for another 70-80 years or so. So it probably doesn't refer to Mrs Eddy Beachler Growden of Alaska.

So I check my records. Yes, we have an E.B. Growdon. He was Edmund Blair Growden (1826-1850), but he was born and buried in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. But he also had a son, Edmund Blair Growden (Growdon and Growden spellings are interchangeable), born six months after his father's death, so he never saw his father and his father never saw him. He died in September 1926 and was buried at Colville, Stevens County, Washington, USA. So perhaps his wife was a candidate, or one of them.

One wife was Amanda H. McNeal, and the other was Mahallia H. Groom. Either of them could have been the Mrs E.B. Growdon referred to in the article. Or it could have been someone else altogether. Well, Jim Kershner, if you read this, it could answer your question, or at least give a hint. But I'm not registering with a Username and Password for a once-off comment in the Spokesman-Review of maybe some town in Washington USA, which I'll probably never have cause to read again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The speeding up of family history

Family history is speeding up, so that it is now hard to keep up.

We got started on this in 1975, a week after we were married. An old college friend of mine, Alan Cox (who was, sad to say, murdered in Pakistan a few years ago) came to visit us, and mentioned that he was involved with ancestor hunting, and I said I'd always wanted to get into that, and asked him how. So he said, "Have you got an aunt?" so we went off to visit my aunt Doreen Maxwell, whom I hadn't seen for 10 years, and she let us see her parents' (my grandparents') marriage certificate, and my grandfather's date of birth. Alan said that when he got back to England he'd send me the birth certificate, and after about three months it arrived.

That gave us his parents, and with the help of books from the Durban library (I found Gerald Hamilton-Edwards's In search of ancestry very helpful), I ordered my great grandparents' marriage certificate by post, and then there was another six-week wait for it to arrive. It was quite a leisurely pursuit. Each piece of information was absorbed and digested while waiting a few weeks for the next one to arrive. We began to do the same thing with other branches of the family too, but there was still a long wait.

Local South African records had to wait. I was banned to Durban, and the archives were in Pietermaritzburg and out of bounds. I did get special permission for a holiday in Cape Town and so we followed the bits we had got from Val's grandmother, and found a whole bunch of Deckers, Falkenbergs and Kochs on Val's side, and Growdons on mine, in the Anglican parish registers in Queenstown. We went on to Cape Town, looked in the archives, where we tied some of them together. On the way back the car broke down in East London, which meant a lengthened stay there (for which we had to get special police permission) and we hired a car and drove around East London visiting relative's we'd never known we had when we left home. One of the most interesting was Lil Falkenberg, who got quite interested herself, and contacted all her cousins and got stuff for us. Back home, it took us several months to digest that.

That was all 35 years ago.

There were no personal computers, no Internet (at least not in South Africa), and we were chasing up only a couple of dozen family members.

Now we have over 15000 in the family tree, and it keeps growing. This year we've discovered several new ancestors on "brick wall" lines that we were stuck on before. And with more genealogical records available on line than ever before, it's possible to chase up the descendants. And the descendants keep multiplying. The little kids that Lil Falkenberg listed for us have now grown up and have kids of their own.

Last night we got a phone call from someone in America who asked about a branch of the faily we hadn't looked at for years. They'd seen it on a web site. We looked at what we had on that branch and saw that all those cute little toddlers we had recorded are now in their 30s and 40s, and some of them have kids of their own. We'd tried writing to some, or looking them up in the phone book, but often they'd moved away. But now there is Google, and some of them have web sites or on Facebook or other social networking sites, and you can e-mail them and get a reply within a day, rather than waiting weeks or months as we did when we started. There's so much more to do, and the information comes in so much faster, so that both the volume and the speed are increasing exponentially.

I thought when I retired I'd have more time for family history. I'm beginning to wonder if I've got more family history than I've got time for.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Trying out Tumblr and Posterous

I've been trying out Tumblr and Posterous.

You've probably never heard of them, but they are quick 'n dirty blog hosting sites that let you share stuff with a minimum of fuss and bother.

If you're toying with the idea of starting a family history blog, but don't want to get into all that computer nerd stuff, one of these may be just what you're looking for.

If you frequently e-mail family and friends to share photos, cartoons, urban legends, family news and photos, then try sending the stuff to Posterous or Tumblr instead. No fuss, no bother, and either of them will turn it into a nicely-formatted blog.

I've started using Tumblr for general stuff, and Posterous for family history stuff, just to see how well they work, and I invite you to have a look and see what you think, and perhaps start one of your own. It's as easy as sending an e-mail. You don't have to be a computer nerd to use them, though from what I can see it is mostly my computer nerd friends that have discovered them.

Anyway, if you'd like to look at mine they are at:

For general stuff there's Marginalia on Tumblr.

For family and family history stuff there's Hayes family updates on Posterous.

though there is quite a bit of overlap as I try them out with some of the same things.

I've noticed a few things.

Posterous handles photos a bit better than Tumblr.

If you e-mail a photo to posterous, it makes the subject line the heading, and the body of the e-mail the body of the post. Just make sure to type #ends where you want the text to end, otherwise it might include all sorts of unnecessary details.

Tumblr handles documents better than Posterous.

I posted a pedigree chart to both, and Posterous handles it via Scribd. It's OK, but the Tumblr one looked better on screen and was easier to read.

But check them out for yourself and make up your own mind.

I don't think either is a complete replacement for "proper" blogging sites like blogspot.com and wordpress.com, because they lack several features of those. For example, neither of them seem to support the widgets (or in Blogger-speak, gadgets) that you'll find in the right margin of this blog, with links to things like MyBlogLog, Webrings and the like. I find those useful for surfing particular kinds of blogs, like genealogy blogs, for example, so I'm not planning to abandon this blog, or my Wordpress one which deals more with our own family.

But for quick-fix family updates and sharing your research discoveries, family news and photos, Tumblr and Posterous are ideal.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lost genealogy web sites

It's now a year since Yahoo! closed down Geocites, which was one of the very first social networking sites. It consisted of a series of themed virtual communities where people could build web sites based on particular themes. A lot of people put their family history on Geocities sites, and some of them died, and some forgot about their sites and no longer updated them. Yahoo! took over Geocities, ran it dowen, and then closed it, and some us were worried that a lot of the information there might be lost.

But some sites have archived at least some of what was on Geocities, so it isn't all lost. One of them is Reocities, which managed to salvage quite a lot. Another is Oocities, though ZoneAlarm flags Oocities as suspicious, I'm not sure why. Oocities has saved several family history sites that were on Geocities, including our own. Of course they will never be updated, but what was there has been preserved. And Reocities has done the same.

And there are some other possibilities for searching for lost web pages and other information: Your Growing Tree- Research Adventures & Thoughts:
I started using Archive.org in my job as a paralegal. It has archived versions of websites that I use in patent citations. The other side of Archive.org is that it archives almost anything...for free. I find live concerts from my favorite band here, and more importantly....books with info for my research. For example- If you look up 'History of Butler County' it brings up several books from the 18-1900's that are searchable and downloadable. These books have had a huge amount of information about the one family that I am researching.

So just when you thought all was lost, something may be found.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Build A Better GEDCOM

A group has been formed to build a better GEDCOM (GEnealogy Data COMmunication). GEDCOM has been used for about 25 years or more to transfer data from one genealogy program to another, regardless of the native data storage format of the sending and receiving programs.

Build A Better GEDCOM - Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:
Tuesday Nov 9, 2010. Alexandria, VA. A group of genealogists and programmers have established a workspace called Build A BetterGEDCOM for developing better data exchange standards to facilitate sharing between researchers using a variety of technology platforms, genealogy products and services.

'Genealogy software users are painfully aware that sharing data with other researchers is difficult since the existing GEDCOM (GENealogy Data COMmunication) file transfer script hasn't been updated in 14 years. In the meantime genealogists have incorporated tools with expanded capabilities reflecting changing technology,' says Russ Worthington, a genealogy software power user and popular genealogy lecturer.

They have started a wiki for discussion of the problems and the process, which seem a good way of doing things.

One of the things I think is important in this kind of exercise is not to overlook the old standard.

Whatever the limitations of the older GEDCOM formats, they worked.

Even if a new standard is developed, people keeping their data in older programs will not be able to export their data in the new format, and so may actually find it more difficult to exchange data with other genealogists if a new standard is developed. It might turn out, for example, that new programs would import data from older GEDCOM formats, but only export it in the new format, and some might not even use the old format at all. The purpose of GEDCOM is to facilitate data exchange, but one must be careful that it does not end up being counterproductive, and actually limiting data exchange. A limited but universal standard is better than a less limited but incompatible one.

I still use a program, Family History System (FHS), that uses two old forms of GEDCOM. One is the original GEDCOM, which no other program uses, and so FHS only uses it to export and import it to itself. It is the only one that exports and imports all the data to and from FHS. The other one is GEDCOM 2, used by PAF 2.x, which does not export all the data, but exports the main lineage-linked families and notes.

The oldest GEDCOM standard is not compatible with the newer ones. But compatibility is the main thing. It is better to be able to exchange some data than no data at all.

Woman given legal rights to remains of long-lost relative discovered on display in university

One of the things about family history is that you never know what you might find. Some of the skeletons in the closet can turn out to be quite literal.

Woman given legal rights to remains of long-lost relative discovered on display in university | The Sun |News:
A SHOCKED wife researching her family tree found she was related to a killer - still hanging from a NOOSE.

Gobsmacked Mary Halliwell was furious to discover the skeleton gruesomely displayed in a university cabinet 189 years on.

She launched a battle to be declared legal owner of the remains - and won.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry

It seems that the most popular boy's name in Britain is now Mohammed, or variants thereof. I wonder how long that will last. For most of the 19th century the most popular boy's name was undoubtedly William, which made things confusing for genealogists, though towards the end of the 19th century there seemed to be more variety. Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry | Mail Online:
Mohammed has become the most popular name for newborn boys in Britain.

It shot up from third the previous year, overtaking Jack, which had topped the list for the past 14 years but was relegated to third spot.

Olivia topped the list for little girls for the second year in a row, behind Ruby and Chloe.

A total of 7,549 newborns were given 12 variations of the Islamic prophet Mohammed’s name last year, such as Muhammad and Mohammad.

I wonder about the popularity of Harry -- is that a result of the influence of Prince Harry, or Harry Potter, perhaps. And the popularity of Olivia for girls and Oliver for boys (Oliver would be top if you don't include the variant forms of Mohammed). Many of the top names on the list look like ones that might have been popular about 120 years ago. I had great aunts with names like Ruby. Anyone for Gladys or Agnes?

Another thought -- why do people refer to them as "baby" names. Are people likely to change them when they grow up? Forty years ago the most popular girl's name in the UK was Tracy/Tracey. But that "baby" name is now the name of a lot of middle-aged women. Tracy was quite popular in South Africa too. But I once looked through the baptism register of St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church in Durban North, an upper middle-class suburb, and found the most popular girls names were Jacqueline and Michelle. I wonder if they have now given birth to a bunch of Olivias and Rubies.

The variety, or the lack of it, can make a difference to genealogy. One branch of our family lived in the inland parts of the Western Cape, and there was a sustom there of giving the eldest son the same name as his father, and then calling him "Boet" to distinguish him from his dad. And so you would have a hard time distingishing between people in a small village, where four cousins, born within a few years of each other, are all called Ockert Tobias. A friend of ours said he had an uncle whose first names were Nikolaas Johannes, and his father's had been that, and his grandfather's before him. But since they tended to get called by their initials, his cousin had been registered at birth as Enjay, which both continued the tradition and broke it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Isle of Axholme

A few years ago we travelled to the UK and visited churches in villages where ancestors lived, and in some places found family tombstones.

One of the places we visited was Crowle, in the Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire, where my Vause family came from. We couldn't find any Vause tombstones in the churchyard, though there were a couple for the Bunyee family, and some members of the Vause family married Brunyees.

So we took some photos of Brunyee tombstones, but many of them were illegible, and most of the names didn't seem to connect with those in our family tree.

But for family history researchers with family members in the Isle of Axholme, Christmas has come early, as the Axholme Ancestry web site has just made 7000 tombstone photos available, and you can search them.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bagot family forum

In the past few weeks I've had quite a lot of correspondence with people researching the Bagot family, and we've had a fruitful exchange of information.

As a result of this, and to facilitate further exchanges, we've set up a Bagot family forum on YahooGroups, and invite other Bagot researchers to join us there. The forum is intended mainly for people who are interested in or descended from Bagot families in north Lancashire and surrounding areas. In addition to the usual exchange of messages informing people about new discoveries, there are facilities for file exchange and creation of databases.

There are various spellings of the name. Bagot is the most common, but Bagott, Bagett, Bagat and other variations are quite common.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Tintagel churchyard

No members of our family in this picture of Tintagel churchyard in Cornwall. we had some how were born here, but none, apparently, who died here. The war memorial may be of interest to some.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recording sources and documents

A few weeks ago I met Dennis Allsopp for lunch. Dennis lives in Australia, but visits South Africa occasionally on business, and one of his interests is developing the Genota family of genealogical note-taking software.

He had read my blog post on Keeping track of paper files | Hayes & Greene family history and decided to take up the challenge of developing a replacement for the Research Data Filer (RDF) program that used to be bundled with earlier versions of the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) lineage-linked program.

One of the problems with RDF is that it's a DOS program and it's a schlepp printing reports from DOS programs with Windows printers. But, as I noted in my earlier post, I've still found no better way of keeping track of paper files.

So if Dennis manages to develop a newer program that will do what RDF does, I'll be interested. I suppose the biggest challenge will be to get it to import the old RDF data.

Developing that might take quite a while, but in the mean time I played with Dennis's Genota Forms program and gave him a sample form template for entering information from South African deceased estate records. That could make it a hit with Southern African genealogists, as South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe use similar methods of handling deceased estates (called probate in other places).

Thursday, September 09, 2010

South African genealogy and family history: Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you are a newcomer to South African genealogy, you may have a lot of questions. Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:


If you're asking this on the Internet, presumably you have access to a web browser, and one of the best places to begin with South African genealogy is right here: http://home.global.co.za/~mercon/


The short answer is: You can't. South African census returns are routinely destroyed after statistical information has been abstracted, so South African genealogists don't use them.


One of the best places to begin is the records of deceased estates. These usually have a Death Notice, which should (but sometimes doesn't) give you the names of the parents, spouse and children of the deceased, or if the deceased was unmarried, the names of brothers and sisters. They have the wills, if any (except in the Cape, where wills and estate accounts have been filed separately from death notices in the older estates), and the estate accounts. The older ones are in the archives and have
computer indexes, and you can search the indexes on the web here: http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs_content.htm, but be sure to read the introduction and explanatory text before searching.


First, they are not a good place to start looking. They are incomplete, and all over the place. If you want to know if some relative went to South Africa and died here, look in the deceased estates, not the shipping lists. In most cases, shipping lists
are a last resort, or a means of providing "filler" information to round out the family history. Secondly, if you do want to try shipping lists, you need to know where your ancestor came from, and roughly when. If the answer is Germany 1859, the shipping lists have been published (Werner Schmidt-Pretoria, Deutsche Auswanderung nach Sued-Afrika im 19 Jahrhundert). Some other shipping lists have also been published, but they are fragmentary.

If you are looking for ancestors who emigrated to Southern Africa in the period 1890-1925, one possible source is South Africa magazine. This was published in London. The Johannesburg Public Library and the National Library in Tshwane have incomplete runs.

You could try other libraries too. They published lists of passengers embarking at British ports for South Africa, and embarking at South African ports for the UK (and sometimes other places). South Africa magazine is a useful source, if you can find it, as it also has birth, marriage and death announcements, and other personal news, usually of the richer members of society.

Some of these have been transcribed by Ellen Stanton, and can be seen here: http://www.genealogyworld.net/ellen/shipping/index.html

Some other passenger lists and other useful stuff are available
at: http://www.genealogyworld.net/


With the deceased estates. See:


I did a search on the archives: what do the funny things like DEPOT and VOLUME mean?

See the warning above: Be sure to read the introduction and explanatory text before searching. If you didn't, go here now:



With some difficulty. First, to apply for one, you need to know the information you probably want to get from the certificate. That's Catch 22. Catches 1-21 are almost as bad. Birth certificates are expensive. They take a long time to get. The indexes are not open to the public so you can't ask someone else to look them up. For more information, and applications forms, see:


The good news is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS, Mormons) has microfilmed some of the registers, so that if you want the information in the register, as opposed to an official certificate, you can try there.

If you want to know what the LDS has, go to their web site:

http:// www.familysearch.com
http://www.familysearch.org ,

Click on LIBRARY, click on FAMILY LIBRARY HISTORY CATALOGUE, click on PLACE NAME enter South Africa Click on Civil Registration Click on HERE right at the bottom so
you have a printable copy.


Marriage certificates are of little use to genealogists in South Africa. They do not give the names and occupations of parents. They are as difficult to get as birth certificates.

For more information on getting marriage certificates see:


Your best chance of seeing a marriage certificate, however, is if the couple got divorced, and you find a copy in the divorce records. SOME divorce records are in the archives, and you can find them here:


The archival references to divorces will sometimes speak of "illiquid cases" or "opposed applications", and sometimes there will be both. Make sure you order the right ones. They can be quite useful. Sometimes you can really get the dirt on your
ancestors from these things - private detectives' reports on how many times they committed adultery, where and with whom, for example. Also, names and ages of minor children and who got the custody.

If you still want a marriage certificate (or birth certificate), you need to apply to the Department of Home Affairs, Private Bag X114, Pretoria, 0001. Before they can issue a certificate, they usually want to know the kind of information you probably hope to get from the certificate. Marriages were registered nationally from 1923 to 1976, and after 1994. Between 1976 and 1994 some "homeland" marriages may have been registered separately. Before 1923 registrations were in the different provinces, and before 1910 in the different colonies. Before 1902 it was in the different republics and colonies. You still apply to the same place, but bear in mind that older registers are kept in the archives, and for a certificate to be written they have to be transferred from the archives to the Department of Home Affairs and then returned. This can take a long time.

Also check the information above under "Birth Certificates" on how to find out if any of the marriage registers have been filemed by the LDS Church.

Before about 1895 in many places marriages were only recorded in church registers.

The situation is a lot more complex than described above, and the complexities are things you can ask about on forums like the South Africa list, but the general description should give you some idea of the kind of questions that might be worth asking.


With difficulty. There are well over 8000 separate religious denominations in South Africa, and many people change denominations 3 or more times during their lives. People move to a new town, and join a new denomination or religion, or become agnostics or atheists. The records of these denominations are all over the place too. Some of the older and larger denominations have centralised their records, but most have not. They are kept in local churches and can be damaged or destroyed by damp, acid paper or ink, insects, mice, fire or flood, or simply being tossed out in an over-zealous clean-up. Some of the smaller denominations keep very poor records. Forged marriage certificates are common, especially in rural areas. If you know what denomination your ancestors were, and where they were living, when children were born or they were married, you can ask some specific questions on the SA Genealogy list like "Where are the Wesleyan Methodist Registers for Colesberg in the period 1860-1880?"

But general requests for look ups in church registers without mentioning a particular denomination, time and place are unlikely to get a useful response.


Department of Defence
Private Bag X289
0001 South Africa

Tel 012-322-6350 ext 227
Fax 012-323-5613

The more info you can give the faster they can find details.

They have a card index for military personnel who served in WWI and WWII. These give the service number, which can be used to find fuller service records.


Turn your web browser to:


it's the on-line phone book.


Try asking on the African Genealogy mailing list.


Go to: http://home.global.co.za/~mercon/sagen.htm

and follow the links!

This FAQ file is maintained by:

Steve Hayes
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/stevesig.htm
E-mail: hayesstw@gmail.com

Suggestions for additions or improvements are welcome.


Monday, September 06, 2010

America Before Pearl Harbor - Early Kodachrome Images

Family and social historians might find some of these old photos interesting, even if you don't live in America. Daily Kos: America Before Pearl Harbor - Early Kodachrome Images:
When we think of America during the Great Depression, we often picture it in shades of grey. It was a grim era and nearly all of the photographs we see are in black and white.

When I was at school we used to have a lot of old National Geographic magazines, going back to the 1920s. I think they were from an old collection donated by one of the parents. They had lots of colour photos from all over the world, but in those days relatively few were Kodachromes.

Kodachrome (which I believe has just ceased production after more than 70 years) was a subtractive process film, and in developing (which could only be done by Kodak) the metallic silver was replaced by colour dyes. This made it practical for small format cameras (called miniature cameras in those days), like 35 mm.

Most of the pictures in the old magazines seemed to be taken on Dufaycolor, which was an additive process film (and thus more like digital cameras today). It had red, green and blue dyes pre-printed on the film base in a pattern of blue and green squares and red lines, with the silver emulsion put on after that. The film went in the camera backwards, with the emulsiion facing away from the lens, and when developed, the silver went according to the red, green and blue filters it was exposed to. So when projected, the colour was reproduced. It worked fine on large format film, but on small format the pattern of lines and dots was noticable, and subtractive films like Kodachrome won in the miniature camera market.

But I saw Dufaycolor film advertised in a photographic magazine, and ordered some from England when I was still at school to try it out. The colour seemed much more accurate, but it only let through a third of the light of subtractive films, so when projected the slides looked rather dim. But for reproduction in magazines like the National Geographic it worked fine.

Earlier colour photos for reproduction in magazines were made by three-colour separation
s negatives, and their colour is far more accurate today than the faded dyes of subtractive film like Kodachrome. For more on this see here, with some fascinating photos from an even earlier period -- Russia before the First World War.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Index of newspaper transcriptions

Sue McKay transcribed a lot of newspaper material replating to Southern Africa, which can be searched at the sGSSA site here. Now Anton Dil had provided a list of some of the names recroded there, which can be useful so you can know what to search for.

Zambia & Rhodesia Genealogy leads...: A-G Index to Sue Mackay's postings:
We are all indebted to Sue Mackay for her tireless transcribing of newspapers at Kew. I am trying to do my bit by providing a kind of an index to these pages. You can search the EGGSA pages I'm using here, but to use the search engine you have to guess at the name you're looking for. As we all know, names are often not what you imagine they will be - spellings change and there are typos or misspellings. Algorithms like Soundex only go so far to remedying this.

Thanks to Sue and Anton for providing this service to genealogists.

Connected Histories: Sources for Building British History, 1500-1900 | Institute of Historical Research

This looks as though it will be a useful resource once it gets going.

Connected Histories: Sources for Building British History, 1500-1900 | Institute of Historical Research:
Early modern and nineteenth-century Britain is one of the times and places in history for which the largest number of digital sources is available. These have been created by universities, archives and commercial providers, and are accessed by tens of thousands of individuals each day. But many are under-exploited, and researchers are hampered in the way they use these materials by their distributed nature and the variable forms of tagging and structure present in each resource. Connected Histories provides the next stage in meeting historians’ needs by addressing the requirement to access historical resources in a single, consistent way; and in a manner that moves beyond simple keyword searching to a forensic and semantically-driven approach.

The article goes on to say

Using metadata and other available background information, the project will create a search facility that adapts to each resource (depending on whether and how the data is tagged, and on the text structure) to allow searching across the full range of chosen sources for names, places, and dates, as well as keywords and phrases. Background information about the search results will be delivered to the end user, and a facility to save and export search results for further analysis will also be provided. An online collaborative workspace will allow users to document connections between sources. The search facility will be expandable as new digital resources become available.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A fresh start for this blog

I'm revamping this old family history blog, which has been dormant for a couple of years, and turning it into a general family history and genealogy blog. Our personal family history research will still mostly be on our other blog, which is on WordPress, which is better for things like posting family photos.

This blog will be for more general posts on family and local history and genealogy. News, information about resources, family history software, or background interest about places of interest, and especially the areas we are interested in -- southern Africa, the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The blogroll will reflect this, though I'll also be happy to link to any halfway decent genealogy blog that displays the "Recent Viewers" widget from MyBlogLog and/or BlogCatalog.

Reviving this blog

I've been thinking of reviving this blog.

I stopped adding to it about two years ago when Google were making all kinds of changes to the Blogger software, and there were more and more bugs in it. Like a lot of other bloggers, I moved this blog to WordPress, which seemed more stable.

Now the Blogger software is much improved, and for some purposes has some advantages over WordPress, and so it might be worth reviving.

But our main family history blog is still Hayes & Greene family history, so please check that as well.