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OneGreatFamily Guest Newsletter

September 21, 2007

Family Dashboard: Featuring The New Details Page

In This Issue:

Family Dashboard: Details Page

Featuring The New Details Page

Continuing with our overview of the new features available on Family Dashboard, this week we will discuss the new Detail Page. When you are browsing through Family Dashboard, some widgets will have a link in the bottom right hand corner, often labeled >More, like this:

In other cases, an individual item in a widget may be a link as well. In either case, clicking on the link brings up a page with more detail on it.  For example, I clicked on the "Merges performed this week" link in the General Statistics widget and here is the Detail Page that popped up:

In the middle of the Detail page is an area that looks like a list.  This area contains all the applicable data, whereas the widget often just contains a few sample items.  So, for example, the Sample Surnames only lists three random surnames, whereas the Detail page actually lists every surname in your family tree.

There are several new features about the Detail Page that you will find very valuable:

Sort by Column: You can sort your list by any column.  In this case that includes: Surname, First Name, Birth Day, Birth Place, Death Date or Death Place. To sort by a column just click on the column heading. An arrow pointing down means the list is sorting First to Last, whereas an arrow pointing up means the list is sorted last to first.  If you want the opposite sort order, just click on the column heading again and it will switch.  In the image below you will see that the list is sorted by Birth Place.

Jump To Link: Because some lists are quite long, there are a couple of aids to help you find a specific ancestor.  Notice the list of the alphabet in the header of the list.  Click on a letter and your will jump directly to the page in the list where that letter starts.  Please note that the letter may start somewhere on the page, not necessarily at the top.  So you might have to scroll down the page in order to find the first of that letter, but you are on the correct page.

You can also enter several characters into the “Other” Box to try to more accurately jump to the right page.  For example, if there are a lot of Birth Places that start with an S, it might be faster to type “Suf” to get to Suffield. 

Finally, note that this Jump To list is created depending on the type of data you are sorting on.  For alphabetical data, the alphabet is displayed.  For dates, years throughout the range are displayed. 

Relationship Calculator, Migration Calculator and Genealogy Browser: Each individual listed has a group of 3 boxes on the far right side.

The Relationship Calculator shows the relationship between this person and the anchor chosen on the Family Dashboard main page. The Migration Calculator will show a map of the migration from the person selected to the anchor chosen. The Genealogy Browser button will show this person in Genealogy Browser™.

If you have not yet seen the new Family Dashboard™ we encourage you to do so by visiting: Also explore the new Details page and see how easy it is to find interesting information about your ancestors.

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OneGreatFamily Tip: Family Dashboard Press Release

Family Dashboard Announcement

A couple of weeks ago the new Family Dashboard went live to OneGreatFamily members. Today we released an official statement to the public announcing Family Dashboard. You can view the Press Release by visiting:

We are also grateful for the great review that well known genealogist editor Dick Eastman wrote about Family Dashboard. Here are some of his comments:

"The service has matured into a great product that will please many genealogists."

" has a slogan: "Enjoy your family tree." Indeed, the company has produced a product that helps you do just that."

To read the full review by Dick Eastman, please visit:

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Handwriting Hints

By Kimberly Brown, Family Historian

Paleography is the study of old writing. Anyone who has tried reading old documents knows how difficult it can be to decipher old handwriting. Paleography skills are essential to genealogists who are reading census records, wills, marriage and death certificates, and other original documents.

Original documents are better sources of information than indexes or abstractions. Go to original documents to get your genealogical information, but remember that indexes can be a useful tool for interpreting old handwriting. If what you think the document says matches with what the indexer recorded, it is probably correct.

If you are unsure about a handwritten word that you find in a document, look at how the letters are formed and trace the strokes on a piece of paper. You may get a better idea of what the word is. You can also try looking at how the same letters are formed in other words. For example, if you are looking at a San Francisco census record and you are unsure if a surname is Lorenson or Sorenson, look at the S in San Francisco and see how it compares. Be careful of double-S words. The leading S in a pair was often written in elongated fashion, and it looks similar to a backwards letter F.

Pay attention to the context of the words. In a WWI draft card, under the physical description section, it asks for hair color. A word that may look like “clark” is actually “dark” and refers to dark hair. By examining a word’s context in a document, you can almost always figure out what a word means.

Be wary of abbreviations, because the abbreviations that are in use now were not used in times past. You can’t assume that MI stands for Michigan when it could be referring to Mississippi. Likewise, many names were abbreviated in old records to save space and paper. For example, a common abbreviation for the name William was “Wm.&rdquo Illiterate ancestors may have abbreviated their name with their initials or just an “X” rather than writing out their names.

If you are stumped by a word in a document, have someone else look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. They may notice or understand something that you originally missed. If you are still unsure of what a word or name says, write down all the possibilities and try to confirm the information in another document. Deciphering handwriting can be difficult at first, but it becomes easier and easier the more you try it. Examine everything that you see carefully, and soon you’ll be doing paleography like a pro.
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One Great Genealogy Site Award

The Ellis Island Archives

Four out of ten Americans have an ancestor who came through Ellis Island - that is a lot of people! More than 22 million passengers and members of ships' crews entered the United States through Ellis Island and the Port of New York between 1892 and 1924. Information about each person was written down in ships' passenger lists, known as "manifests." Manifests were used to examine immigrants upon arrival in the United States. Now you can search these millions of records for information on individual Ellis Island passengers by visiting

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    Managing Editor: Heather Matthews
    Contributors: Heather Matthews, Rob Armstrong and Kimberly Brown
    Editor: Eric Hoffman

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