Today I am kicking off a periodic series of interviews with folks in the genealogy community. Some will be well known, some not so well known, but they will all have something I believe will be valuable for you, my fans to read about. So here we go ……
I think this first guest interviewee needs little introduction and I thank him for agreeing to be our first!: It is Dick Eastman!
Scott: Onward ToOur Past Interview Guest Please sign in!
What is your name, your company name, title, and preferred contact method for our fans:
Guest: “The name is Dick Eastman. Well, it is really Richard but nobody calls me that. The only “title” I can think of is “author” of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter. Contact is most reliable if anyone goes to the newsletter’s web site at http://www.eogn.com and clicks on “Contact Dick Eastman.” Email also works most of the time but I have found that a small percentage of all legitimate email messages get blocked by spam filters, even though the messages are not spam.”
Scott: Dick, What is your genealogical specialty and how did you come to it?
Dick Eastman: “For genealogy specialty, I am most experienced at researching northern New England ancestors and those in nearby
Quebec, New Brunswick, and . That is because of my own ancestry; I have spent more time researching those areas than any other. Nova Scotia
Since I also spent my life in the computer industry, I also have some expertise in the use of computers for genealogy purposes.”
Scott: How long have you been focused on genealogy in your career?
Dick Eastman: “I started researching my own ancestry in a causal manner more than 30 years ago. However, I became “serious” about 25 years ago.”
Scott: You mention your newsletter, how much does it cost, how does someone subscribe?
Dick Eastman: “Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter is available in two versions. The Standard Edition is available to everyone free of charge. It can be found at http://www.eogn.com and also you may subscribe by email or by an RSS newsfeed.
The second version, called the Plus Edition, includes everything that is in the Standard Edition plus one, two, or sometimes three extra articles each week. These “extra articles” typically are the longer, more in-depth articles. Many of them are how-to articles although there are some exceptions. The Plus Edition costs $5.95 for a 3-month subscription or $19.95 for a 12-month subscription.
You may subscribe to either edition by visiting the web site at http://www.eogn.com.”
Scott: What is your favorite part of genealogy?
Dick Eastman: “Meeting people, be it at local societies and meetings, or even in libraries and courthouses. Genealogy research is traditionally a “lone effort” and yet I find some of the most interesting people are genealogists.”
Scott: You are famous for your subscriber dinners. Do you really enjoy them as much as it seems?
Dick Eastman: “Absolutely! These dinners started as very informal events. Another fellow and I met each other for the first time at a genealogy conference years ago. We went out to dinner together on Saturday evening, after the conference ended. Next year, at the same conference, we met again and I asked if he would like to have dinner again on Saturday evening. He replied, “Certainly but I have a friend with me this year. May I include him also?” The three of us had a grand time. The next year there were 4 or 5 of us and then in following years the number of attendees grew and grew. I now host three or four such dinners per year in various cities. We have had as many as 75 genealogists go to dinner together.”
Scott: What do you think about the explosion in the popularity of genealogy?
Dick Eastman: “I am delighted. Thanks to technology, researching one’s family tree is now easier than ever. Thanks to popular television programs, more people than ever are motivated to do so. I see it as being good a good thing: the more people who research their own heritage the more we all benefit.”
Scott: “What do you, personally, think the ‘next big thing’ might be in genealogy?”
Dick Eastman: “Collaborative databases, available online everywhere, all the time. Waiting for companies and societies to place original records online will require many, many more years before everything is available. It will also require the expenditure of millions of dollars. A much faster, more practical, and less expensive method is for individuals to copy the results of their own research efforts to online databases. We all can benefit from the research efforts of other genealogists.
Of course, there will always be inaccuracies, the same as we have always had in printed books. Every good genealogist soon learns to verify each bit of information found. That will continue to be true in user-contributed databases as well as in all other genealogy information found anywhere else. Never believe anything, anywhere until you have verified it!”
Scott: Do you still spend time on your personal genealogy/family history?
Dick Eastman: “Sadly, not as much time as I would like. I tend to be busy with writing newsletters. Also, I performed all the “easy searches” years ago and found all the genealogy information about my ancestors that is easily available. When I research my own family tree these days, I am usually spending time looking at esoteric sources of information, not simply looking at census records or genealogy books that I already checked 25 or 30 years ago. The opportunities to search these esoteric resources are rare, but especially enjoyable when they do happen.”
Scott:If you had a magic wand and could make one genealogy dream come true, what would that be for Dick Eastman?
Dick Eastman: “Grant me another 50 years of life so that I could finish my research!”
Scott: We all have our pet peeves. What is your pet peeve with genealogy?
Dick Eastman: “Discovering that many people are gullible and will believe anything that they read or hear. Some people do not have the interest to “do it right.” They will not verify information. I constantly see personal genealogies that contain “fairy tales.” That is, these databases contain claims of 3-year-old mothers giving birth, 85-year-old mothers giving birth, children born years after a father’s death, or even years before a father’s birth. Don’t these people read their own findings?”
Scott: What is the most fun you have ever had with genealogy?
Dick Eastman: “Traveling on a cruise ship with several hundred other genealogists, attending a “genealogy seminar at sea.” Genealogy cruises are always a great mix of genealogy learning, visiting exotic ports of call, and a pampered life on a cruise ship.”
Scott: Dick, what have I missed that you would like folks to know about you, your work, etc.?
Dick Eastman: “My work is a lot of fun for me, but it is only one person’s efforts in a sea of millions of genealogists pursuing something they love. While I may stress the importance of verifying the accuracy of information found and of “doing it the right way,” let’s not lose sight of the main purpose of genealogy research: having fun. Learning about and understanding one’s own heritage is an enjoyable experience that provides great satisfaction. The enjoyment and satisfaction will remain for the rest of your life.”
Scott: I’d like to express our very special thanks and appreciation to Dick for his time in conducting this interview for Onward To Our Past.
I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!
Onward To Our Past,