Elizabeth Petty Bentley has just released a revised and expanded Fifth Edition of the Genealogist's Address Book, produced by Genealogical Publishing Company (GPC). I have used earlier versions of this book a number of times in years past to find addresses or just to find societies devoted to specific interests, such as Italian, French-Canadian and other ethnic heritage groups. This week I tried the same thing with the latest version and found it to be much easier to use.
The Genealogist's Address Book serves as a sort of national Yellow Pages for the genealogist. Classified by subject, cross-referenced and alphabetized, it contains the key sources of genealogical information, giving names, addresses, phone numbers, FAX numbers, e-mail addresses, web sites, contact persons, and the business hours of more than 25,000 libraries, archives, genealogical societies, historical societies, government agencies, vital records offices, professional bodies, religious organizations and archives, surname registries, research centers, special interest groups, periodicals, newspaper columns, publishers, booksellers, services, databases, and much, much more.
Every new edition of the Genealogist's Address Book that has appeared always has been a bigger and thicker book than the previous version. This week I tried the 2005 edition and had a pleasant surprise: it is now a tiny little thing that weighs a half ounce. The reason for the smaller size is that this "book" is now a CD-ROM. That's a good thing as I noticed that the "book" now contains the equivalent of 2,684 printed pages!
The other pleasant surprise is that the 2005 edition costs a lot less than did the earlier editions. It sells for $39.95 while a printed book of more than 2,600 pages probably would cost $75 or more.
The CD-ROM version of the Genealogist's Address Book was created with Adobe Acrobat and works equally well on Windows and Macintosh systems. While the producing company does not list Linux as a supported operating system, I was able to read this book on CD on a Linux system without difficulty.
Use of the Genealogist's Address Book is simple: insert the CD into a Windows or Macintosh computer and wait a few seconds. The autorun feature then displays a menu of selections.
NOTE: AutoRun was probably enabled when your Windows computer was brand new although I do know some people have turned that off. If autorun does not function on your computer, you can still load this CD by using Windows Explorer to open the disk and then to browse the contents. If the CD does not automatically start, select "Run..." from the START menu, then type in "x:\autorun.exe" (replace "x" with the drive letter of your CD-ROM drive) and click OK.
Use of the CD is equally easy on Macintosh. On Linux, I had to use a file manager to explore the CD's contents and then open the primary Adobe Acrobat PDF file, using Adobe Acrobat Reader for Linux.
Navigating the Genealogist's Address Book is simple. The opening screen displays a table of contents on the left side of the display. However, I quickly learned to use the search button. I clicked on SEARCH and entered: NEHGS, the abbreviation for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The first occurrence of those letters appeared on the screen within two or three seconds. Then I clicked on "Find Again" and the next occurrence of the abbreviation appeared less than a second later. I did this again and again to find the dozen or so occurrences of that abbreviation in the book. What could be easier?
Of course, I could probably do the same thing with the previous printed version. However, with the CD-ROM version I could search for "Boston" just to see all the addresses listed there, something that would have required hours to manually search each page in the previous edition. With the CD-ROM version, I was able to step through all occurrences of the word "Boston" in a minute or so.
Looking at the Table of Contents, I noticed that the Genealogist's Address Book is divided into four major sections:
- National Addresses
- State Addresses
- Ethnic and Religious Organizations and Research Centers
- Special Resources (such as the lineage societies, adoption birthparent search organizations, computer interest groups and more)
The CD also contains an extensive "back of book" index. If printed, the index alone would be 258 pages!
While it is super easy to find information in this new product, I was a bit disappointed to discover that it is impossible to copy-and-paste addresses from the "book" to another program. The normal Windows or Macintosh copy function is grayed out and has been disabled. When I write reviews of CD-ROM disks, I normally copy-and-paste a bit of information from the disk into my review in order to illustrate the sort of information to be found. I was unable to do so with this CD.
The only method of copying information from this CD-ROM resource is to do so manually; find what you want in one window, open a new window in the application you wish to copy to and then re-type it by hand.
I did find it simple to print pages from this CD-ROM with one caveat: don't click on PRINT and then ignore the options. It seems that the default is to print all 2,684 pages! To be sure, if you accidentally click on OK without noticing the options, you can always stop the print job later. However, you might print quite a few pages before you find the proper menu options to cancel a print job. This is a trivial issue: after you click PRINT, make sure you select CURRENT PAGE to print just the one page you wish. You can also print a range of pages, such as pages 888 through 891.
The Genealogist's Address Book is based on a written survey of thousands of organizations and institutions across the country and supplemented by information from printed and Internet sources. I cannot begin to describe the sorts of addresses to be found as it seems to have everything. Want to find the local state chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution? It is here. Want to find French-Canadian genealogy and heritage societies? You can find a couple dozen of them listed. Would you like to find the FAX number of the National Archives and records Administration's regional Library in Fort Worth, Texas? You can find that listed as well.
The new 4th edition of the Address Book has been exhaustively revised and contains thousands of new entries, and with changes to approximately 75% of the existing entries, the new edition updates addresses and associated details. It includes hundreds of organizations that are new to the scene or overlooked in previous editions, contains an advertising supplement, and has a complete index of genealogical libraries, societies, and institutions, as well as an exhaustive (also unique) index of periodicals and newsletters.
This is a massive amount of labor compressed into a single CD-ROM disk. I cannot imagine the labor that went into creating this reference. The postage bills alone must have been huge. I would hope that the author used e-mail whenever possible.
I will point out that this is a US-centric publication; it is a reference of U.S. addresses. I didn't search each page but, in casual perusal of this book, I did not see any addresses for organizations outside the U.S.
The Genealogist's Address Book should work on any modern computer. The system requirements are listed as:
i486 or Pentium processor-based personal computer
Microsoft Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 5 or later operating systems
32 megabytes of available RAM on Windows
32 megabytes of available hard-disk space
Acrobat or Acrobat Reader 5.0 with Search
Apple Power Macintosh or compatible computer
Mac OS software version 8 or later
12 MB of available RAM
12 MB of available hard-disk space
Acrobat or Acrobat Reader 5.0 with Search
As mentioned earlier, the disk also worked well on my one-time experiment in Linux. I used Adobe Reader 5.0 for Linux on a Xandros Linux 3.0 system. I suspect the book will work well on all Linux systems that have a supported version of Adobe Reader available although I did not have a variety of systems to experiment with. Keep in mind that Linux is not supported by the publisher.
I like the conversion of this book to CD-ROM. First, a 2,684 page book contains a lot of information but probably is cost-prohibitive to print on paper. Very few of us can afford to purchase thick reference books of that size. Next, it is easier to store. Finally, it is actually faster to find information on this disk than in a printed book. To be sure, it does require a few seconds to locate and load the disk and then for the Adobe Reader software load. However, after that, you can find all occurrences of a name within seconds, something that could be tedious and time-consuming in a printed book.
Elizabeth Petty Bentley is to be commended for producing this great new reference book. It should prove to be very popular in genealogy libraries and for in-home use alike. The Fifth Edition of the Genealogist's Address Book, produced by Genealogical Publishing Company, retails for $19.95. It should be available from any bookstore if you specify ISBN#: 0806315806. It is available for sale on Genealogical Publishing Company safe and secure online store.
I wonder if this is a new trend for Genealogical Publishing Company? I haven't talked with anyone at the company, but I realize that they are a major producer of thick genealogy reference books. I would not be surprised to see more books from this company produced on CD-ROM in the future. The lower prices would be good news for all genealogists.