Stephen P. Morse


One-Step Webpages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools

The One-Step website started out as an aid for finding passengers in the Ellis Island database.  Shortly afterwards it was expanded to help with searching in the 1930 census.  Over the years it has continued to evolve and today includes about 300 web-based tools divided into 16 separate categories ranging from genealogical searches to astronomical calculations to last-minute bidding on e-bay.  This presentation will describe the range of tools available and give the highlights of each one.

One-Step Webpages: A Hodgepodge of Lesser-Known Gems

This is a sequel to the Potpourri talk (see abstract for that talk).  There are too many utilities on the One-Step website to be covered in a single talk, so many of them found their way to the cutting room floor when the Potpourri talk was being edited.  However several of those are quite useful.  This talk describes those gems that you might not otherwise be aware of.  They range from problems with genealogical searches to problems with identity theft to problems with DNA.

What Color Ellis Island Search Form should I use?
[This talk is now retired. Searching for passengers in the Ellis Island database is covered in the Potpourri lecture.]

In April 2001 the Ellis Island ship manifests and passenger records went on-line.  A few weeks later the One-Step Ellis Island website was created to make this resource easier to use.  Since that time the One-Step site has been greatly expanded to include new search capabilities and an array of color-coded search forms.

This talk will describe the evolution of the website from both a historical and a practical perspective, and provide a beacon for navigating through this color maze.

Searching the Ellis Island Database with Fewer Tears
[This is an earlier version of the preceding talk]

Playing Hide and Seek in the US Census
[This talk is now retired. Accessing the census for all years is covered in the the Potpourri lecture. The 1940 census is covered in the 1940 Census lecture.]

Even before the 1930 Census was unlocked on April Fool's Day 2002, researchers began wondering how they were going to locate people's records.  The lack of indexes was going to present a real challenge.

Several solutions to this problem have since evolved.  The One-Step Census website presents a street aid for searching by address.  A similar aid exists on the NARA website.  And commercial websites have developed extensive indexes which are available for a fee.

The One-Step website has since been expanded to include address searches for other years as well (1900 to 1940), and name searches for all years.  This presentation describes and contrasts these various solutions of searching in these census years.

Searching the US 1930 Census with Fewer Tears
[This is an earlier version of the preceding talk]

The 1940 Census: Searching with and without a Name Index

When the 1940 census was released in April 2012, it did not have a name index. So finding people in the census involved searching by location instead. Now that a name index is available, there are still many reasons for doing locational searches.

The census is organized by Enumeration Districts (EDs), so the location needs to be converted to an ED before the census can be accessed. The One-Step website contains numerous tools for obtaining EDs. This talk will present the various tools and show circumstances in which each can be used. It will also demonstrate a tutorial quiz for determining the best tool to use in each specific situation.

Navigating the New York Census with Fewer Tears

There were several state censuses taken in New York starting from 1790.  The most valuable for genealogical purposes are the 1905, 1915, and 1925 censuses because that was a time of large influx of immigration.  There were numerous assorted aids for navigating through those censuses, but they were often hard to use, covered only specific years or boroughs, and were not available at all libraries.

The One-Step website rectifies that situation by putting a universal finding aid on line that covers all the boroughs of New York City in each of the three census years.  This presentation describes the One-Step approach and contrasts it to the previous methods.

The History of the Geography of New York City

New York City has undergone numerous changes in its geographical boundaries over the years. An understanding of these boundaries is important in order to know what archive to search in when looking for vital records.

This talk shows the changes to New York City's geography, and describes the difference between New York City and the City of New York. The origin of the counties and their changing boundaries, along with the early geographies of Brooklyn and Queens are presented. And finally the consolidation of 1898 that created the City of New York and defined the five boroughs is discussed.

Creating One-Step Search Tools

Many people or organizations have tables of data (e.g., name lists) that they would like to make searchable and share over the Internet.  This normally involves technical skills in designing html-based search forms and programming skills in developing search engines.  Even experienced programmers find this to be a time-consuming process.

This talk presents a tool that allows you to simply describe your data and it will then automatically produce the desired search form and search engine for you.  All that's left for you to do is upload these items to the web and then sit back while others access your database.

Deep Linking and Deeper Linking: How I get the most out of existing Search Applications

Deep linking provides a means of optimizing the information extracted from existing third-party websites in general, and from search applications in particular.  Various means of deep linking are introduced such as URL editing, using search forms, and placing a man in the middle.  These are the very techniques that are used by many of the tools on the One-Step website.

Then the tables are turned and methods of blocking others from deep linking to your website are described.  The legalities of deep linking are also discussed.

The purpose is not to make you an expert at improving other people's websites.  Rather it is to expose you to the techniques that were used on the One-Step website and give you a better appreciation for what is there and how to use it.  As such, no knowledge of webpage programming is required.  However, if you have such knowledge you will be able to apply the ideas presented here yourself.

Phonetic Matching: An Alternative to Soundex with Fewer False Hits

Searching for names in large databases containing spelling variations has always been a problem.  One solution, known as soundex, is to encode each name into a number such that names that sound alike will encode to the same number.  The search would then be based on finding matching numbers, which results in finding all names that sound like the target name.

The "sounds-alike" criteria used in soundex is based on the spelling, with no regard to how the name might be pronounced in a particular language.  The phonetic encoding described here incorporates rules for determining the language based on the spelling of the name, along with pronunciation rules for the common languages.  This has the advantage of eliminating matches that might appear to "sound alike" under the pure spelling criteria of soundex but are phonetically quite unrelated.

This work was developed jointly by Alexander Beider and Stephen Morse.

From DNA to Genetic Genealogy: Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

The study of genetics that started with Gregor Mendel's pea experiments in 1865 has now entered the genealogy field with Megan Smolenyak's coining of the term "genetealogy" in 2000.  To understand the genealogical aspects requires an understanding of some of the basic concepts.

This talk introduces genes, chromosomes, and DNA, and goes on to show how DNA is inherited.  That knowledge of inheritance can be used for finding relatives you didn't know you had, learning about your very distant ancestors and the route they traveled, and determining if you are a Jewish high priest (Kohan).  Examples presented include Genghis Khan's legacy, the Thomas Jefferson affair, and the Anastasia mystery.

DNA and the Animal Kingdom: Evolution and Genealogy in the Natural World
[This talk is now retired. The material is not covered in any other lecture.]

DNA and genealogy is not limited to people. The applications to the animal kingdom will be presented and demonstrated using a live animal.  This is a brief optional supplement to the above DNA talk, and given at the same time.  It is presented by Megan Morse, an animal handler and wildlife educator at Wildlife Associates in Half Moon Bay.

Genealogy Beyond the Y Chromosome: Autosomes Exposed

Classical genetic genealogy deals with the Y chromosome and the mitochondrial DNA.  The Y chromosome test is for males only and traces the direct male lineage.  The mitochondrial DNA test is for everybody and traces the direct female lineage.

Recent advances in genetic genealogy make it possible to trace all lineages by testing the autosomes.  Although the autosomes can be used to find ethnic mixes as well as recent cousins, it has some limitations.

The Julian Calendar and its Importance to Genealogists

The Julian calendar is important to historians because it was used worldwide for over 16 centuries, and in various parts of the world for another three centuries after that. It's important to genealogists because it was used to record events in many countries as recently as the early 1900s.

Converting from Julian-calendar dates to our current Gregorian-calendar dates appears to be straightforward. But a deeper look shows the subtle issues involved, such as double-dating, undetermined year starts, and birthdates that change over time.

This talk presents the Julian calendar by first giving a historic perspective of the Roman calendars from which it was derived. It then explains the workings of the Julian calendar, and the reforms that were made to convert it to the more accurate Gregorian calendar. It describes the implications of these reforms, and problems that they can cause for genealogists and historians.

Jewish Calendar Demystified

The Jewish calendar is important to genealogists because Jewish vital records use the Jewish dates.  This includes not only birth, marriage, and death certificates, but tombstone inscriptions as well.

The Jewish calendar is both a solar and lunar calendar, with the months being synchronized to the moon and years to the sun.  As such, the rules governing the calendar can be a bit daunting.  This talk presents the calendar in an easy-to-understand -- and sometimes tongue-in-cheek -- fashion.  The aim is not to make you an expert in computing Jewish dates (we have programs that do that) but rather to give you an appreciation for what's involved in such calculations.

Topics covered include the 19-year calendar cycle, the origin of time, errors in the Jewish and secular calendars, and the use of Hebrew letters to represent dates on tombstones.

Ketubah: The Jewish Marriage Contract and What it Really Says

Vital records (birth, marriage, death) have always been a valuable source of family information and sought after by genealogists. The Jewish Marriage Contract (Ketubah) is no exception. The information in the Jewish record actually complements the information in the civil record: the civil record typically identifies the bride and groom by giving their family names whereas the Jewish record gives their fathers’ names instead.

There is a basic difference between the civil and religious marriage records in that one focuses on the union and the other on the termination of the union. This talk discusses what is contained in the Jewish marriage contract, tells what it really means, and provides information that can be useful to family historians.

Case Study: Genealogy of Renee Kaufman

This lecture presents a case study using the One-Step Webpages as well as other websites to develop a family history. It illustrates how, with a minimal amount of initial information, an entire genealogy can be obtained. It also shows how to obtain records in spite of name misspellings, and how to avoid accepting wrong information.

Finding Presidents and their Ancestors in the Strangest Places

We are used to looking for our ancestors in ship manifests and in census records. We have mastered a variety of tricks for finding people in spite of name misspellings and incorrect birthdates. You might think that US presidents are a breed apart from our ancestors, but they are not. They also arrived on ships and have come face-to-face with the census taker.

This talk will show you how to search for presidential records, and you will see that it is no different than searching for ancestral records. We will encounter some of the same problems with both searches, and we'll see how these problems can be solved.

Intel Microprocessors: The Early Years (Evolution of the 8086)

The microprocessor era started with the introduction of Intel's 4004 and 8008 in 1971 and 1972.  These early microprocessors were somewhat of a novelty and not taken seriously.  But by 1974, when the 8080 came on the scene, the computer industry began to take notice.

The 8086 was the natural evolution of these early processors.  It came out in 1978 and was intended to be a stop-gap measure while a high-end processor was being developed.  But to everyone's surprise, the basic architecture and instruction set of that stop-gap measure has lived on in all Intel processors up through the pentium processors of today.  That instruction set has been embodied in every IBM-compatible PC, and has been executed by more instances of computers than any other instruction set in history.

The evolution that went from the 4004 to the 8086 and beyond is described in this talk.  An early version of this talk was delivered numerous times in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  It has now been resurrected from the mothballs and spruced up with entertaining graphics so it can once again be presented to audiences.

Stephen P. Morse

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