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Encyclopedia of Genealogy

Encyclopedia of Genealogy
[ A project of Richard Eastman ]


I have spent some time building a new online service that I think genealogists at all levels will find useful. In fact, I'm pretty excited about it.

The Encyclopedia of Genealogy serves as a free compendium of genealogical tools and techniques. It provides reference information about everything in genealogy except people. Look to the Encyclopedia of Genealogy to provide explanations of how to look up your family tree. It will also provide explanations of terms found in genealogy research, including obsolete medical and
legal terms. In addition, it will describe locations where records may be found. Within a few months, this online encyclopedia will describe how to research Italian, German, Polish, French-Canadian, Jewish, Black, Indian, and other ancestors. In short, the Encyclopedia of Genealogy will serve as your standard genealogy reference manual.

NOTE: This encyclopedia is not a place to find all the ancestors of John Doe or all the descendants of John and Mary Smith. The World Wide Web already has many online message boards that perform that function well. Instead, the Encyclopedia of Genealogy serves as a clearinghouse of genealogy techniques: where to find records, how to organize the data found, what the terminology means, and how to plan your next research effort.

The Encyclopedia of Genealogy will grow through the addition of articles written by genealogists such as yourself. In fact, YOU can help by adding content: your own knowledge and expertise can help others. If you see anything in this encyclopedia that is incorrect, YOU can change it! If you see anything that is incomplete, YOU can add to it! If you note anything that is
missing, YOU can add it! This encyclopedia will succeed because people like you contribute nuggets of information. When enough "nuggets" are added, the Encyclopedia of Genealogy will become a goldmine of information, and all genealogists will benefit.

The Encyclopedia of Genealogy is a bit "skeletal" at this time (2004). It only has about 200 articles right now. I can envision it growing to 5,000 or more, if you and each of your friends can contribute just a bit of your expertise.

Future articles that are needed include:

Information about your local genealogy society (Several societies already have info pages within the Encyclopedia of Genealogy, but there is room for many, many more such pages.)

Immigration records explained

The details of each decade's census records explained

Individual articles on how to research Italian, German, Polish, French-Canadian, Jewish, Black, Indian, and other ancestors

Any other subject that users feel to be pertinent and useful to other genealogy researchers

To see examples of some of the articles that have already been written, go to the Encyclopedia of Genealogy, and search for any of the following articles:


Board for Certification of Genealogists,

Census Record

Dawes Rolls

Dutch Genealogy

Family History Library


Henry Numbers

Missouri Birth and Death Records

The above articles are excellent examples of the sorts of information to be found within the Encyclopedia of Genealogy.

This new Encyclopedia is built on wiki software: a collaborative website system where, in general, any person can edit any page. For more information about wiki software, look at Wikipedia at
http://www.wikipedia.org and at Wiktionary at http://www.wiktionary.org.

The goal of the Encyclopedia of Genealogy is to create an information source in encyclopedia format that is freely available to all genealogists. The license used grants free access to the
content in the same sense as free software is licensed freely. This principle is known as "copyleft." That is to say, Encyclopedia of Genealogy content can be copied, modified, and redistributed, so long as the new version grants the same freedoms to others and acknowledges the authors of the Encyclopedia of Genealogy article used (A direct link back to the article satisfies the author credit requirement.). Encyclopedia of Genealogy articles, therefore, will remain free forever and can be used by anybody, subject to very minor restrictions, most
of which serve to ensure that freedom.

Here are a few comments from the people who helped beta test the Encyclopedia of Genealogy:

Congratulations Dick! I believe history is in the making. If I'm correct you have just started what will become the primary on-line genealogical reference.

Richard, I think this is absolutely fantastic. You might add an explanation that if someone deletes information from an article that should be there, the theory is that someone else will put it back in, or if someone adds something wrong or out of date, it can be corrected. So it is something of a "self-correcting" system.

GREAT JOB. The skeleton shows promise. I can't wait for all the flesh to come.

Dick: Just changed your "Contribute to the Encyclopedia of Genealogy" page (it's to its) and can really share your satisfaction of being able to edit some of my pet grammar peeves. This is one powerful piece of work! Thanks so much for carrying through on the wikipedia system to create a site especially for genie people.

First use leaves a very positive experience. Just last night I thought I should order a Civil War Service Record but put it aside because I wasn't sure of which form to use. I used this as
a test for the "Encyclopedia" and now have an order placed to send me the required forms.

On the whole a very good concept.

Perhaps you can now understand why I am excited about this concept of an online genealogy encyclopedia, created by many authors. Now I would like to invite you to try it. Again, the
Encyclopedia is available to all, free of charge.

To try the Encyclopedia of Genealogy yourself, go to

You might want to read the FAQ (Frequently-Asked Questions) pages at

Please note that the Encyclopedia of Genealogy's URL at
http://www.eogen.com is almost the same as this newsletter's URL at http://www.eogn.com. That is not accidental. The free
Encyclopedia of Genealogy is sponsored by this newsletter, and the two are intertwined in several ways.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: - Dick Eastman, Author of "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter"
Dick Eastman is employed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, serving as Assistant Executive Director for Technology. He is a frequent presenter at major genealogy conferences. He has published articles in Genealogical Computing and Family Chronicle magazines and for a number of Web sites. He was an advisor to PBS' Ancestry series and appeared as a guest in one of the episodes. He is a past Director of GENTECH and of the New England Computer Genealogists. Dick is the author of YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer published by Ziff-Davis Press. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Due to the volume of e-mail received, he is unable to answer every e-mail message received.

Click here to read Dick's 1999 excellent review of my "Acadian-Cajun Family Trees" CD-ROM

Dick Eastman - 2011


Biography of Dick Eastman

Dick Eastman has been involved in genealogy for more than 30 years. He has worked in the computer industry for more than 40 years in hardware, software, and managerial positions. By the early 1970’s, Dick was already using a mainframe computer to enter his family data on punch cards. He built his first home computer in 1980.

In the mid-1980s, Dick actually went knocking on the door of a rising online star called CompuServe to propose a genealogy forum: a move by which he built a community of family historians over the next 14 years. At the same time, he preached the benefits of technology to an even wider audience of genealogists, including national and international genealogical organizations, and of course, GENTECH, an organization that helped him to spread his message.

In late 1995, before most people had heard of the World Wide Web, Dick had a conversation with Pam Cerutti and expressed an interest in creating a weekly newsletter that he could e-mail to genealogists all over the world. Pam replied, "You'll need an editor." Dick agreed, and Pam instantly became that Editor.

On January 15, 1996, the two launched Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter as an e-mail publication and announced it to 100 surprised friends and acquaintances.

The weekly newsletter has since grown into a daily publication, still available in e-mail but also now available on the World Wide Web. The present newsletter is read by more than 60,000 genealogists all over the world. Other guest authors occasionally publish articles in EOGN.com as well.

The newsletter also expanded to two versions: a free version supported by advertising at http://www.eogn.com and a subscription-based Plus Edition at http://plus.eogn.com. The Plus Edition has more articles, focusing on the more in-depth topics. The Plus Edition also contains no advertising.

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter has also expanded to offer more online services to the genealogy community, including a discussion forum (at http://www.eogn.com/forum), an online genealogy encyclopedia (at http://www.eogen.com), and two online genealogy bookstores: one for North America at http://www.RootsBooks.com and another for the United Kingdom at http://www.RootsBooks.co.uk. The two bookstores sell thousands of genealogy and history-related books, CDs, and software.

If you have suggestions for further improvements to the EOGN.com services, please call us or drop us a note. Contact information may be found at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy//contact-us.html


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