IN THIS EDITION -- May 16, 2002


Software Releases: Hot Off the Press


When it rains, it pours! Several genealogy software companies have just come out with a crop of new tools and upgrades to help you with your computerized family history research. Whether you want to get organized, display your research or simply get started, these new software programs may be just what you need:

· GENContacts
After all the phone calls, letters, e-mails and faxes you've exchanged during your genealogy search, it might be tough to keep everything straight. Whom do you need to call? Who owes you a letter? When did you last hear from that person? This new correspondence management software is supposed to help you manage all your genealogy communication and create reports by contact, category and project. It works on Mac- and Windows- based operating systems and costs $59.95. To order, call (800) 443-6325 or visit

· Charting Companions
If you use Ancestral Quest, Ancestry Family Tree or Legacy to keep track of your genealogy research, you have a new option when it comes to charting your family tree. Progeny Software released three new versions of its charting companion software to work with those particular programs. Create ancestor, descendant, hourglass, fan and bow-tie charts using the data you've entered. These companions require Windows 95 or higher, 32MB RAM and 12MB of free disk space. Download each for $19.95 from or order the CD-ROM for $24.95 plus $5 shipping by calling (800) 565-0018.

· The Master Genealogist 5.0
A new version of this family history project manager will be released on Tuesday, May 21, as a download from Wholly Genes Software is calling TMG 5.0 a "complete rewrite" with improved interface (right-click menus), long file names, support for the mouse wheel and dozens of new and enhanced features. Upgrading from TMG 4.x is $30; from Family Tree SuperTools, it's $59. For new users, TMG 5.0 will cost $79.

Capturing a Century of Women


A tip from Joan Peachey of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada:

"A few years ago, as we moved into the 21st century, I realized that my five little granddaughters, all born in the 1990s, would know little of the ways of the women who lived their lives mainly in the 20th century: my grandmother, my mother and me. I thought it would be a good centennial project for me to write something of the lives of these women to pass on to the little girls, who will be the the 21st century women in the family. I began with my grandmother, and found as much of her history as possible, then using pictures of her and her family tried to piece together a story, to turn her into a person for them, rather than just a few dates and pictures that had no meaning.

"I can't believe how the project has expanded and what fun it has turned out to be. I soon realized that I should also include the women from my husband's family, and so involved my mother-in-law. She began to write her own story and after a few months, decided the whole thing would be easier if she had a computer. One of her grandsons got her all set up and she is now totally involved, writing her story, as well as learning to use a computer at age 88. I recently showed one of the stories to my oldest grandaughter, and she was totally enchanted to think that her great-great-grandmother came across the ocean on a ship the year after the Titanic went down, to marry her beau, who had emigrated the previous year. She knew about the Titanic so there was something she could relate to, with this lady who was born more than a hundred years before her. My own mother raised her family of six children, alone for five years, while her husband was away in Europe fighting in World War II. This is another amazing story, waiting to be told. I am so glad that I started this project and so glad that these stories will be known to my grandaughters, the women of the new century."


Philadelphia Touts Multicultural Heritage


Philadelphia has more than just the Liberty Bell to offer visitors, and a new Web site by the city's multicultural tourism organization shows you just how much more. The Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress recently launched to attract people of color to the city. The site features African-American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American aspects of the City of Brotherly Love, including:

* the world's first African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) church, Mother Bethel A.M.E.
* Chinatown's 50-plus ethnic restaurants
* the Latino community's "center of gold," or el centro de oro, in what has become known as the "Fifth & Lehigh" district of the city
* United American Indians of the Delaware Valley Museum

Learn more about Philadelphia's multiculural visitor attractions and events at


Name Changes at Ellis Island


Q: Were names actually changed by immigration officials at Ellis Island?

A: No documented case proves that any immigrant's name was changed by Ellis Island officials. The passenger lists were prepared at the port of departure, using the papers the emigrant provided. The blank lists were provided to the shipping lines by the United States and were to be filled in as the passengers boarded the ship. Names were copied from the documents carried by the emigrants. On board the ship the officials were required to document any births or deaths that occurred during the passage. Once the ship arrived in New York harbor, the first-class and cabin passengers disembarked at a pier, and the steerage passengers were transported by ferry to Ellis Island (or Castle Garden, depending on the time frame) for processing. Numerous pictures of immigrants who had slips of paper bearing numbers attached to their clothing appear in the many books on immigration. These numbers corresponded to the list number that the immigrant appeared on. Officials asked the same questions that were asked when the passengers boarded the ship. The officials were instructed merely to verify the answers and had no need to write any names down-they were already recorded on the list.

If an immigrant appeared to be ill or of questionable character, was a woman traveling alone, or perhaps gave different answers than what was recorded on the list, she might have been detained. Her name would have been transcribed onto the list of detained passengers, usually at the end of the passenger list (for New York records only), and a record of all inquiries regarding that individual was maintained. A woman traveling alone was detained until a male relative showed up to get her. Many times the detained passenger list states the name and relationship of that male relative; in such instances you will have even more information.

-Excerpted from The Genealogist's Question & Answer Book by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk, $18.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher, Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at