Sunday, September 01, 2013

TV marketing 101

For those genealogists out there who keep lamenting on some genealogy mailing list, message board, or Facebook group that WDYTYA should be using ordinary people instead of celebrities for their subjects, I would put these questions to you:

If you would watch the show regardless of who the subject was, meaning that WDYTYA would get your viewership whether or not they used celebrities, then which do you think would attract more *non*-genealogists to watch the show: celebrities or non-celebrities? And if you rationally respond "celebrities", then why would you expect WDYTYA to act in such a way as to reduce the size of their potential viewing audience?

Sunday, August 11, 2013


There are a lot of different ways to document one's ancestry in a blog.  One way is to dedicate each posting to a different surname, starting with the most recent generations and working backwards in time. 

In this posting, I'm documenting what I know about my direct Smith ancestry.  Much of it comes from personal knowledge, then census records, christening and marriage records, and newspapers. 

My father was George Thomas Smith, born 8 November 1917 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, died 3 November 1999 in Richland County, South Carolina, and is buried in Newberry Memorial Gardens in Newberry County, South Carolina.  Apart from the time that he was stationed at various locations during World War II, Dad lived his life before 1960 in Essex County, New Jersey (primarily Newark before the war and in East Orange after the war).  He married my mother, Altha Corinne Martin, on 31 January 1943 in Newberry, Newberry County, South Carolina, at Epting Memorial Methodist Church.  He moved the family (Mom, my brother Jeff, and me) from East Orange to Newberry in early 1960, and he lived the rest of his life there.  He graduated from East Side High School (Technical track) in Newark in 1936.  He originally worked for Reynolds Metals prior to 1960, learned from the RCA Training Institute (funded by the GI Bill) how to repair radios and televisions, and then set up his own radio/TV repair business in Newberry which he continued until his retirement.  He was originally raised Catholic but attended Methodist churches after his marriage. 

My grandfather was William Henry Smith, born 21 September 1889 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, died 9 February 1961 in Irvington, Essex County, New Jersey, and is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Essex County, New Jersey.  He married my grandmother Rachel Weinglass on 19 July 1911.  

My great-grandfather was Charles Henry Smith, born 30 May 1859 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, died 22 April 1906, and is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Essex County, New Jersey.  He married my great-grandmother Mary Ann Bannon on 4 January 1880 in Newark. He was responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Newark-based M.A. Smith Glass Bending and Beveling Company, later known as the American Glass Bending and Beveling Company.

My great-great-grandfather was James Smith born about 1825 in Ireland and died November 1872 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. His burial location is unknown.  His jobs included being a "boss carpenter" and working in a zinc works. The county of his birth is unknown, although at least one newspaper article claims that he was from County Mayo in Ireland.  He married my great-great-grandmother, Mary Ann Reilly, in 1850 in Newark.

At this point, my biggest Smith brick walls are:
  1. Where is James Smith buried?
  2. Where in Ireland is he from?
  3. Who were his parents?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Any Toodledo users out there?

I'm beginning work on an article for FGS FORUM magazine on the subject of using Toodledo for genealogy-related purposes. If you're a Toodledo user, I'd be interested in hearing from you.

Friday, July 12, 2013

FHISO featured on the Mocavo Fireside Chat

Michael Leclerc of Mocavo interviewed me for the most recent Mocavo Fireside Chat.  I talk a lot about FHISO.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Drew Smith Appointed Chair of FHISO


Date: 8 June 2013

Family History Information Standards Organisation, Inc. (FHISO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Drew Smith as the first Chair of FHISO, effective 1 July 2013. Drew is currently the Organisational Member Representative to FHISO from the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS).

“I am deeply honored to have been given this opportunity by the FHISO Board,” Drew said. “As someone who has made a career in information technology and librarianship, I recognize the critical importance of information standards, and as a long-time genealogist, I understand the needs of the world’s genealogy product and service vendors, repositories, societies, and individuals to collaborate and to share family history information. I look forward to leading an international effort to support the creation of these essential information standards.”

“We are excited to have Drew join us in this leadership role, as it marks a significant milestone in transitioning the organisation from its formative state into an operating standards development body,” said Robert Burkhead, FHISO Acting Chair and Technical Standing Committee Coordinator. “Drew's knowledge and experience in the industry will serve FHISO's membership and the entire community well.”

Individuals from FHISO member organisations expressed their own praise and support for Drew’s appointment. “Drew brings an excellent synthesis of a genealogical librarian and an active player in the larger family history community, and I look forward to working with him in his new role,” said D. Joshua Taylor, Lead Genealogist and Business Development Manager – North America for brightsolid online publishing, the creators of

“Having worked with Drew in various organizations and committees, I believe he is the perfect choice to chair FHISO at this formative time,” said Bruce Buzbee, President of RootsMagic, Inc.  “I have seen firsthand his organizational skills and leadership qualities in groups where members may have very different opinions or somewhat different goals.”

Loretto (Lou) Szucs, Vice President of Community Relations for, had this to say: “Having known and worked with Drew for more than fifteen years, I can’t think of anyone who is better qualified to serve as the first Chair of this important new organization. Drew has consistently shown his outstanding leadership skills in working with family history organizations, libraries, and other historical and technology organizations. As the world’s largest online family history resource, with more than 2.5 million subscribers and more than 11 billion records online, is proud to be a founding member of FHISO.”

“The appointment of Drew Smith as Chair of FHISO sends a strong signal to all wait-and-see organisations,” said Bob Coret, founder of Coret Genealogie. “FHISO is becoming a strong organisation which, with the recent Call for Papers, is leading the way in developing genealogy and family history information standards. As a Founding Member of FHISO from the Netherlands I'm pleased to hear that Drew Smith also embraces the non-English part of the genealogical community, which reflects the international character of FHISO.”

Drew Smith is an Assistant Librarian with the Academic Services unit of the University of South Florida (USF) Tampa Library, and serves as the liaison librarian to the USF School of Information. He has taught graduate-level courses in genealogical librarianship and indexing/abstracting, and undergraduate-level courses in web design. Drew earlier worked for academic computing departments at USF and at Clemson University (South Carolina).

Drew is a Director of FGS (2008-2013), chair of its Technology Committee, and “Rootsmithing with Technology” columnist for its FORUM magazine. He is past Secretary of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). Drew is President of the Florida Genealogical Society of Tampa and has served on the board of the Florida State Genealogical Society. He administers the GENEALIB electronic mailing list with over 1200 genealogy librarians as subscribers, a list he founded in 1996.

Drew has been the co-host of The Genealogy Guys Podcast since September 2005, and together with George G. Morgan has produced over 250 one-hour episodes. Drew is author of the book Social Networking for Genealogists, published in 2009 by Genealogical Publishing Company, and with George is co-author of the upcoming book Advanced Genealogy Research Skills, to be published in September 2013 by McGraw-Hill. Drew has written extensively for NGS NewsMagazine (now NGS Magazine), Genealogical Computing, and Digital Genealogist.

Drew holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Master of Science in Industrial Management from Clemson University, and a Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from USF.


FHISO is a standards-developing organisation bringing the international family history and genealogical community together in a transparent, self-governing forum for the purpose of developing information standards to solve today’s interoperability issues. To learn more about FHISO, visit To become a member, visit
FHISO General Enquiries,
FHISO Membership enquiries,
FHISO Media Relations, Anthony C. Proctor,

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sometimes you get what you ask for (re: history of American genealogy)

In April of 2012, I posted a review of a recent book about the history of genealogy in the United Kingdom.  At one point I wrote: "Perhaps a book on the topic of the history of American genealogy remains to be written."

And apparently it now has.  A few weeks ago, the book Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America by Fran├žois Weil appeared, and I just discovered that it had.  I've bought the Kindle version and I'll bring you a review soon.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Technology That Isn't Digital

George reminded me over the weekend that I hadn't updated this blog in a year, and this morning, I saw something that looked like a perfect topic to talk about, namely, the use of non-digital technology for genealogical research.  What prompted this was a blog posting this morning on a blog that I read, namely, UncluttererThat posting highlighted some new products, and I was especially taken with two of them: the Staples® Better® Binder with Removable FileRings™, and the Rubbermaid® All Access™ Organizers storage containers. I can imagine using both of them for my genealogical filing.

The Better Binder idea seems to solve my endless internal debate on whether to use binders or file folders for my organization. At the moment, I have been compromising by using 3-tier stand-up racks made by Eldon® and plastic folder for my current projects, and then transferring the contents from the plastic folders to regular folders and placed in a 4-drawer file cabinet when the project is archived.

Now I'm thinking about using Better Binders (different colors for different research projects) and transferring the ones I'm not active with to my file cabinet.

As for the All Access Organizers, this would be a good solution for the garage and closets, especially for things that aren't file-able papers.  I have a lot of loose office supplies in my home office closet that would benefit from this.

Anyone out there using either of these products?