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AfriGeneas Genealogy Technology Forum

Computer guru's tools unearth families' roots

Computer guru's tools unearth families' roots
By Toshio Suzuki
Jewish Review


The personal computer has become one of humanity's common threads, saving and storing all of our current pertinent information, while genealogy is our never-wavering link to the past. One man who works in both of these past and present mediums is Stephen Morse, the upcoming speaker for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon.

Back in the 1970s, when the Silicon Valley campus of Intel didn't even have a cafeteria, Stephen Morse was busy defining the instruction set for the Intel 8086 chip, one of the integral stepping-stones that facilitated the creation of the personal computer.

"The breakthrough of the 8086 was that it was Intel's first 16-bit processor that could handle one megabyte of memory," said Intel Fellow John Crawford, who worked with Morse in the late 1970s.

Flash-forward to the 21st Century and Pentium Processors are used for some of the most complex and mundane daily tasks, even looking up detailed ancestral records.

During the past several years Morse has created more than 130 Web sites dedicated to making it easier to access genealogical records. The first site he created was a new database for sifting through the imperfect Ellis Island immigration records.

"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time since I was trying to locate an ancestor when the Ellis Island database first came on line," said Morse in an email interview from Tel Aviv. "I was getting nowhere using their form and realized that my time would be better spent developing my own. Two hours later not only did I have the form working but I also found the ancestor I was seeking."

When Morse made his initial Web site accessible to the general public, family historians and scholarly genealogists from around the globe instantly became smitten with his one-step research platform. In 2003, Morse was named the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies' Outstanding Contributor to Jewish Genealogy.

"I absolutely love his Web site, I use it for all kinds of stuff," said Jan Robinson, Genealogical Forum of Oregon president.

Robinson explained the difficulty surrounding the Ellis Island records, which originated with foreign names being recorded and spelled the way the person holding the pen heard it. Robinson is referring to, which besides Ellis Island information has language and calendar converters, census and naturalization records, ship manifests, Siberian refugee camp records and many other location-specific Web sites.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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