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Family History & Genealogy Research

Archive for September 2011

Review: History for Genealogists

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Judy Jacobson’s History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors is an expansion of the time line concept that I wrote about in my 2009 article, Estimating Dates. The first part of Jacobson’s book provokes questions about where your ancestors were, what were the conditions there, when they left, why, and how they went. The overall focus is toward how a United States genealogist might work, however, so you might consider this if you live elsewhere. A number of discussions include military and other violent upheavals, persecution and crime, and disease. One chapter considers people who didn’t leave records for several reasons, including some early cultures in North America, such as the Melungeons. The chapter on how they might have gone considers transportation methods and the next chapter considers North American migration trails.

Almost half of the book consists of lists of events around the world, including Asia, the Asian Pacific Islands, and the Indian subcontinent. The events are organized by major land-mass and chronologically, although there is overlap between them.

The copy in hand is 5.5″ × 8.5″ although the Genealogical Publishing Company website advertises it as 8.5″ × 11″. With the smaller version, set entirely in a sans serif face (Arial/Helvetica), the text was harder to read. The footnotes are even smaller and missing proper italics on the titles mentioned. Make sure you get the larger size.

Written by N. P. Maling

23 September 2011 at 14:36

How to do footnotes online – Piggin.net

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Jean-Baptiste Piggin’s site is a style guide to online presentation of materials such as footnotes, wills and deeds, and just about any other complex text. He has an overall style guide to help you into the rest of the site, and explains and shows, with excellent detail, how to set up footnote materials, how to add definitions to obscure terms, and present that information well.

Written by N. P. Maling

22 September 2011 at 13:29

Posted in Blogging

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Updated: Brief Genealogy of the Maling Family

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I’ve just discovered that some sites are still linking to the long-gone geocities.com site. geocities was closed by Yahoo in the summer/fall of 2009, so all of the links from other sites to that domain are broken.

My site in particular should be considered obsolete and inaccurate. Please contact me if you desire to know whether anything you use from that site is still correct. Please also remember that the material on that site is copyrighted.

As an update, I’ve edited and updated the ‘introduction’ from that site, and made it into an article for your reference. It is a PDF document, designed to be printed front-to-back, or double-sided, to save paper. Here is A Brief Genealogy of the Maling Family.

Written by N. P. Maling

21 September 2011 at 13:27

Follow Friday: Seattle Genealogical Society President’s Blog

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Written by N. P. Maling

16 September 2011 at 15:42

Posted in Blogging, Genealogy

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Notes on Copyright Issues

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Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. None of the information in this article shall be construed as anything other than information and my opinions on that information. Any advice given or perceived to be given is merely based on my own common sense.

Information pertinent to family history and genealogy researchers is fact-based. Facts include information from common sources such as newspapers, publicly available vital records (the Social Security Death Index, for instance), and other researchers’ published and unpublished materials—materials such as oral histories and reports. Facts are not copyrightable.

Genealogy is mostly based on research in and interpretation of old materials, containing pertinent facts, the majority of which were created over 120 years ago. Because of this material’s age, the information in it is in the public domain and is free for use by any and all. The simple statements of exclusion by age and type of material in the U. S. Copyright Act laws provide that there is no fear of infringement by a modern-day genealogist.

More recent information from other genealogy researchers may be copyrighted, however, and must be properly handled through a permissions process and attribution. As an example, if I were to publish a family history, and wanted to use my grandfather’s family history research or the diary of his travels as source material, I would need to get his permission; either from him, if he were still alive, or his legal representative, if he were deceased. In any case, the material also needs proper attribution to avoid a plagiarism charge.

Fair use issues also appear with published and unpublished materials that are under copyright protection. If the material is in the public domain, there is no legal requirement to attribute it to anyone. Ethically, however, one does need to be reasonable in the use of such material. As with use of copyrighted information, what constitutes fair use of any information is a subjective decision applied by the federal courts. A number of measures and guides are available to assist genealogists and other researchers, but if a legal issue over fair use arises, it is the judgment of the court that decides. Other organizations may also pass their own judgment on fair use and plagiarism; the results of their judgment could be harsher than that decided by a court.

Determining what is protected by copyright and what is not can be difficult, especially with the increasing commercialization of genealogically relevant materials. For instance, Google has posted millions of pages of public domain books on their website. The images of those books are copyrightable works of art. My interpretation, however, is that the images are not original since they were created by a fairly non-unique method, contain no significant content original to Google, and are merely representations of works existing elsewhere (i.e., a tourist’s photograph of the Eiffel Tower). Google acknowledges this latter item by providing links to library and commercial bookseller resources next to their images.

Because it is the factual information contained in those images that is of interest to genealogists, there is little reason to credit Google as the source rather than the original creator of the information; the images themselves are not really necessary to creating a quality family history. Using photographs or other images contained in these resources, on the other hand, might cause problems. In this case, one can simply find a librarian willing to copy the necessary pages of material, or one can borrow or buy a copy of the book and use the images from that copy and cite it directly.

By relying only on the graphical representations provided by Google, or any other site that provides such images (ancestry.com comes to mind), one does run the risk of using a flawed resource since a part of the whole document may be missing or unusable for some reason. It is best to cross-check this type of resource against another, independently created resource. Two different copies, one from archive.org and one from books.google.com, scanned and uploaded by different people, might be compared to make a reasonable assessment of a resource’s completeness. Better yet, find a real, physical copy.

By incorporating the information from online images of books, or other such images, and citing the creator of the information in one’s own work, whether or not for publication, a genealogist is creating an original, copyrightable work of his or her own. When this sort of transformation occurs, the genealogist gives new meaning and interpretation to the facts provided, and the resulting material is probably a valid fair use of the previously published material. The unique, newly created material surrounding the facts, is copyrightable and protected information, not the facts used as supporting material.

A number of online resources were used in creating this article. They are, in no particular order, since the resources are essentially common sources themselves:

Cornell University’s LII website
The Stanford Copyright & Fair Use Center website
The U. S. Copyright Office website

My interpretations of the copyright and fair use laws and their interpretations by others is based on common sense. If I am wrong in a particular aspect, please contact me with a correct interpretation.

The original content of this article is

© 2011 N. P. Maling

Written by N. P. Maling

16 September 2011 at 15:21

Posted in Genealogy

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Announce: White Center News Extracts, 1943-1949

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White Center News Extracts, by N. P. Maling, just published, is a collection of newspaper birth, marriage, death, and other entries from The White Center News, a Seattle neighborhood newspaper, covering a 6-1/4 year period. The newspaper, published on Fridays (with variations) had a coverage area including the 35th Avenue, Arbor Heights, Beverly Park, Boulevard Park, Burien, Cedarhurst, Dumar, Delridge, Five Corners, Hazel Valley, Highland Park, Mt. View, Riverton Heights, Seahurst, South Park, Sunnydale, Three Tree Point, and White Center neighborhoods. There is also news from West Seattle, to the north of these neighborhoods.

There are forty pages of listings. Information given includes the primary person’s name; the event; the event date; optional age at death; the parent(s), spouse name, or comments; the publication date, and page number.
White Center News Extracts is available at Lulu.com for purchase as a print or download item.

Written by N. P. Maling

13 September 2011 at 19:19

Posted in Newspapers

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Sunday’s Obituary – Arthur W. Fox, 2 Jan., 1940 – Juneau, Alaska Territory

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ARTHUR W. FOX FOUND DEAD INVALENTINE BLDG.

Remains of Juneau Attorney Discovered in Forenoon in His Rooms

Arthur W. Fox, well known Juneau attorney, was found dead this forenoon in his room in the Valentine Building, where it is believed he had passed away about 24 hours before. He was seen Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock outside of the building by Mrs. Ruth Marshall.

Born in England, Judge Fox was 64 years of age. He came to the United States in the nineties. Living for several years in California, he was purser on a ship which operated between San Francisco and Australia.

In 1902 he came to the Territory and lived in both Hyder and Ketchikan before taking up permanent residence in Juneau in 1922. He was employed by the Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. for some time after coming here and was also connected with the Pacific Coast Steamship Co. He was City Clerk for two years and was Deputy Clerk of the Court at one time. Judge Fox served as United States Commissioner at Hyder, Ketchikan and in Juneau, holding this position the last time during Judge Justine W. Harding’s term of office. He was admitted to the bar in 1910 and for the past several years had his law office in the Valentine Building.

Mr. Fox was well known and respected in the Territory. He was a member of Mount Juneau Lodge No. 147, Free and Accepted Masons, a member of the Order of Eastern Star and was affiliated also with the Elks Lodge in this city.

No living relatives are known and the remains are at the Charles W. Carter Mortuary.

An inquest was being held at 3:30 o’clock this afternoon.

Juneau Alaska Empire, 2 January 1940, page 1, column 5

PDF version of Arthur W. Fox’s obituary.

Written by N. P. Maling

11 September 2011 at 09:35