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Plus Edition

The Coronavirus is New, But Not Much Different from Viruses Suffered by Our Ancestors

The news stories these days are full of articles about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections. I won’t repeat them here, but I will point out that this is nothing new. Our ancestors frequently suffered with similar and often much worse epidemics.

About a month ago, before the Coronavirus had become much of a problem in the US, I published a Plus Edition article entitled Epidemics. In the introduction, I wrote:

“Our ancestors lived in fear of epidemics, and many of them died as the result of simple diseases that could be cured today with an injection or a prescription.

“If you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors disappeared during a certain period in history, you may want to investigate the possibility of an epidemic. Many cases of people disappearing from records can be traced to dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area.”

You can read that article at https://eognplus.com/2020/02/24/epidemics/. A Plus Edition user name and password are required to read it.

Of course, one of the more recent epidemics (“only” 102 years ago) was the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1920. It infected 500 million people around the world, or about 27% of the world population of between 1.8 and 1.9 billion. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. Some historians and epidemiologists have theorized that the flu originated in Kansas while others believe it started in the close quarters of the trenches and military encampments of World War I. Whatever the origins, the Spanish Flu quickly spread worldwide.

Frederick (Friedrich) Trump (or Trumpf)

Then as now, the virus showed no favoritism. After a one-day illness, on 30 May 1918, Donald Trump’s grandfather, Frederick Trump (or  Friedrich Trumpf in the original German) succumbed to a case of pneumonia that would later be identified as a complication of the “Spanish flu.” In fact, the President’s grandfather was one of the first domestic casualties of the world’s worst modern pandemic, which ultimately killed millions.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Trump

The death toll from the Spanish Flu was undoubtedly worsened by the efforts of President Woodrow Wilson’s administration to talk down the health risk. Even President Wilson could not avoid the contagious disease; he became ill in the midst of the World War I peace talks held in Paris. In April 1919, Rear Admiral Cary T. Grayson, personal physician to the President, wrote to a friend, explaining that: “These past two weeks have certainly been strenuous days for me. The President was suddenly taken violently sick with the influenza at a time when the whole of civilization seemed to be in the balance.”

The extent of President Wilson’s illness was not revealed to the American people, however. Instead, to maintain confidence in the President, Grayson informed the press that it was merely a cold caused by the “chilly and rainy weather” in Paris.

Sound familiar?

An interesting history of the Spanish Flu, as observed in Chicago, can be found in an article in the Chicago and Cook County Cemeteries web site at: https://chicagoandcookcountycemeteries.com/2020/03/15/bring-out-your-dead-chicagos-1918-flu-epidemic/.

The article provides an interesting historical perspective of the experiences of our ancestors in the days before penicillin and other modern drugs.

Over 8,000 Chicagoans died in a matter of months despite signs placed in theaters, streetcars and elevated trains to warn against the danger of spitting, coughing, and sneezing. Undertakers and cemeteries were overwhelmed. There were orders that wake attendance be limited to 10 people at a time. Public funerals were totally prohibited for a time.

Yes, life and death from diseases and viruses is not a modern peril. In fact, it was far worse in “the good old days.”

(+) Epidemics

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

The rampant spread of disease was common in the days before penicillin and other “wonder drugs” of the twentieth century. Our ancestors lived in fear of epidemics, and many of them died as the result of simple diseases that could be cured today with an injection or a prescription.

If you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors disappeared during a certain period in history, you may want to investigate the possibility of an epidemic. Many cases of people disappearing from records can be traced to dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area.

Some of the epidemic statistics are staggering. For instance, the influenza epidemic of 1918 and 1919 killed more people than did World War I. Any major outbreak of disease was accelerated by a total absence of sanitary procedures and lack of knowledge. In Europe during the Middle Ages, the homes of the citizens often had roofs and walls made of straw, floors of dirt, and dwellings where animals were kept inside. The city streets, if that’s what you could call them, often were barely wide enough for a single cart to pass, and they were perpetually covered with mud, garbage, and excrement. For lack of heated water, people rarely bathed, and fleas were commonplace. It is a wonder that anyone survived under these conditions!

North America had fewer problems in the early days of European settlement than their relatives across the Atlantic. In the seventeenth century, the relative isolation of many colonies tended to limit the impact of epidemics. One study of seventeenth-century colonists in Massachusetts shows an extraordinarily healthy population as measured by statistics on average length of life, mortality and morbidity rates, and infant mortality. Male residents of the first settlements lived into their seventies and eighties while their English counterparts were dying in their mid-thirties. Similarly, colonial women in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who escaped death during childbirth also lived long lives. At the same time, early settlements in warmer areas had more difficulties with epidemics. The first generations of settlers in the Virginia colonies were plagued by malaria, yellow fever, and other epidemics. Yet New England had very few problems with the same diseases.

Smallpox, an acute viral disease that disfigures its victims, was perhaps the most fearsome illness of the colonial period. Introduced to the Americas by European colonists, the disease had an especially devastating effect on Native Americans who, because of their lack of contact with the virus, had virtually no immunity to it. Native American populations throughout the colonies were all but wiped out.

The remainder of this article is for Plus Edition subscribers only.

There are three different methods of viewing the full Plus Edition article:

1. If you have a Plus Edition user ID and password, you can read the full article right now at no additional charge in this web site’s Plus Edition at https://eognplus.com/2020/02/24/epidemics/. This article will remain online for several weeks.

If you do not remember your Plus Edition user ID or password, you can retrieve them at https://www.eognplus.com and click on “Forgot password?”

2. If you do not have a Plus Edition subscription but would like to subscribe, you will be able to immediately read this article online. What sort of articles can you read in the Plus Edition? Click here to find out. For more information or to subscribe, go to https://blog.eogn.com/subscribe-to-the-plus-edition.

3. Non-subscribers may purchase this one article, without subscribing, for $2.00 US. You may purchase the article by clicking herePayment can be made with VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card, or with PayPal’s safe and secure payment system.  You can then either read the article on-screen or else download it to your computer and save it.

(+) Convert your Old Videotapes to DVD or to Digital Files Before They Deteriorate!

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.

Now is the time to copy your old VHS tapes to digital DVD media. Over a period of many years, some of us have collected boxes of videos in whatever formats were available at the time.

One problem with stored videos in boxes is signal deterioration. For the remainder of this article, I will write “VHS videotapes,” but the same is true of the 8mm and Hi8 videotapes that came along later. All of these tapes are recorded in an analog format, and the information recorded on the magnetic tape will deteriorate and become “noisy” over a period of years. This noise will appear as “snow flakes” that show up momentarily within the displayed video images. Colors may also fade. Most VHS tapes will start to degrade after just five years.

As the signal deteriorates even more with passing years, the pictures eventually will become so weak that vertical synchronization is difficult to maintain; the displayed image will flicker and roll. After a few more years pass, the data recorded on the videotape becomes so weakened that the video is no longer watchable. Your videos of long-past family events will be lost to future generations.

The life expectancy of VHS videotapes varies widely, depending on the quality of the tape used, the heat and humidity of the storage location, the amount of stray electromagnetic fields in the storage location, and also how many times the tape is replayed. Every time an analog videotape is played, a bit more signal is lost. You can expect to keep VHS videotapes for at least ten years, although it may deteriorate a bit in that time. A high quality videotape that has been properly stored will probably last twenty-five years or more. Of course, this assumes that VHS players will still be available in twenty-five years, an unlikely event. In fact, it is difficult to purchase a new VHS player today, other than a few devices that have both VHS and DVD drives in them that are designed to copy from VHS to DVD.

Of course, you can always copy the VHS videos to new VHS tapes. If you have older videos recorded on videotape of unknown quality, it would be a good idea to copy it to some sort of high quality storage media right now. That will help preserve what you already have. Still, copying to new VHS videotape creates three problems:

The remainder of this article is for Plus Edition subscribers only.

There are three different methods of viewing the full Plus Edition article:

1. If you have a Plus Edition user ID and password, you can read the full article right now at no additional charge in this web site’s Plus Edition at https://eognplus.com/2019/12/29/convert-your-old-videotapes-to-dvd-before-they-deteriorate/. This article will remain online for several weeks.

If you do not remember your Plus Edition user ID or password, you can retrieve them at https://www.eognplus.com and click on “Forgot password?”

2. If you do not have a Plus Edition subscription but would like to subscribe, you will be able to immediately read this article online. What sort of articles can you read in the Plus Edition? Click here to find out. For more information or to subscribe, go to https://blog.eogn.com/subscribe-to-the-plus-edition.

3. Non-subscribers may purchase this one article, without subscribing, for $2.00 US. You may purchase the article by clicking herePayment can be made with VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card, or with PayPal’s safe and secure payment system.  You can then either read the article on-screen or else download it to your computer and save it.

Plus Edition Newsletter Has Been Sent

To all Plus Edition subscribers:

A notice of the latest EOGN Plus Edition newsletter was sent to you a few minutes ago. Here are the articles in this week’s Plus Edition newsletter:

(+) What is the Purpose of a Genealogy Program?

Ancestry.com is under Fire as new DNA Algorithm Drastically Changes the Ethnicity of Some Users

Follow-up: Ancestry.com is under Fire as new DNA Algorithm Drastically Changes the Ethnicity of Some Users

See Long Hidden Historic Photos of the Gritty, Compelling Lives of Tough Maine Fishermen

Archival Grant Opportunity: Historical and Archival Records Care Grants in Pennsylvania

Churchyards become Lawns in Sweden as Tombstones are typically Removed after 25 Years

Multnomah County (Oregon) Estates, Wills and Guardianship Abstracts 1852-1901, 1904, 1908 are Available from the Genealogical Forum of Oregon

New Free Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of April 29, 2019

New Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday

Donn Devine, R.I.P.

Prediction: The Dead Will Take Over Facebook in the Next 50 Years

Press Release: New Records Reveal Those Imprisoned for Debt in England

Press Release: SLIG Announces New Scholarship Opportunities

Press Release: The Genealogy Squad Facebook Group Announced

Leonardo’s Hair to be DNA Tested

American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society Present Lifetime Achievement Award to Dan Rather

A Genealogy Cartoon about Queen Victoria and Her Relatives

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

Recent Updates to the Calendar of Genealogy Events

NOTE: If you are a Plus Edition subscriber and yet you did not receive the email notice in your in-box, take a look in your spam folder. It probably is there. Most email programs have (optional) filters that you can specify to make sure future Plus Edition notices get sent correctly to your in-box. For instance, GMail users can find instructions at https://blog.eogn.com/2014/09/07/how-to-make-gmail-always-place-this-newsletter-in-the-in-box-not-in-the-spam-folder/. Most other email programs have similar capabilities.

To all non-subscribers:

If you would like to read this week’s Plus Edition newsletter, you can sign up for a subscription by looking at the menus to the right and clicking on “Subscribe to or Renew the Plus Edition Newsletter.” Once you subscribe, you will be given immediate access to the Plus Edition web site and will be able to read the latest Plus Edition newsletter, along with the two previous weekly Plus Edition editions.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Dick Eastman at https://blog.eogn.com/contact-dick-eastman.

(+) Is Your CD-ROM Data Disappearing?

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Genealogists are generally concerned with long-term data preservation. A lot of genealogists believe that the only method of preserving data is to print the information on paper. Yet, many of us have handled old pieces of paper that are decaying, crumbling, or fading to the point that the information is not readable. In fact, most paper manufactured in the past 75 years or so contains acids that will hasten the deterioration of the information you wish to preserve.

Even worse, the inks and laser printer toner we use today will fade in a few years, even if the paper survives. I already have papers in my filing cabinet I wrote or photocopied 25 or 30 years ago that have faded quite a bit. Some are already difficult to read because of faded ink or photocopy toner. Those papers probably will be unreadable in another 25 or 30 years.

As we have seen recently in several places around the world, paper is especially fragile. Paper documents are easily destroyed by fires, floods, earthquakes, mold, mildew, or building collapse. On several occasions, valuable paper documents have been lost forever due to simple burst water pipes.

In archivist circles, the preferred solution is to “digitize data so as to preserve it.” However, even digitizing requires some serious precautions and planning. In the past few years, the common choice for long-term digital data storage was CD-ROM or DVD-ROM disks. However, the technology has only appeared in the past three decades; so, we do not yet know if these devices will store data for a century or more. Some studies indicate that the information may not last that long. In fact, there is proof that some CD-ROM disks may not reliably last even one decade! Perhaps one out of every ten disks will become unreadable within ten years with a higher percentage suffering the same fate over 20 or 30 years.

Perhaps of even greater concern is the fact that CD-ROM and DVD disks are slowly disappearing. Many laptop computers and more than a few desktop computers of today do not contain CD-ROM disk drives. Even Netflix has switched from renting movies on CD-ROM disks that are mailed to the customers to online “streaming video.” Almost all music today is rented or purchased from online services, such as from iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, Spotify, or other subscription-based services.

Record stores, CD-ROM stores, and video rental stores have almost disappeared. When was the last time you rented a movie on a DVD disk?

Other companies are doing the same: online distribution is replacing CD-ROM distribution of data, audio, and video media.

The remainder of this article is for Plus Edition subscribers only .

There are three different methods of viewing the full Plus Edition article:

1. If you have a Plus Edition user ID and password, you can read the full article right now at no additional charge in this web site’s Plus Edition at  https://eognplus.com/2019/04/01/is-your-cd-rom-data-disappearing/This article will remain online for several weeks.

If you do not remember your Plus Edition user ID or password, you can retrieve them at https://www.eognplus.com and click on “Forgot password?”

2. If you do not have a Plus Edition subscription but would like to subscribe, you will be able to immediately read this article online. What sort of articles can you read in the Plus Edition? Click here to find out. For more information or to subscribe, goto https://blog.eogn.com/subscribe-to-the-plus-edition.

3. Non-subscribers may purchase this one article, without subscribing, for $2.00 US. You may purchase the article by clicking herePayment can be made with VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card, or with PayPal’s safe and secure payment system.  You can then either read the article on-screen or else download it to your computer and save it.