Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Record Hints Expand on has continued to expand their record hints on their own family tree program. I have found these hints to be very helpful in extending my English family lines.

They have recently added a hints notification to each ancestor's profile page. As is the case with English research, there are many people with the same name and very similar families. It is important to focus on the locations of the events suggested. Here, Mary Ann Bryant and her family are from Rolvenden, Kent, England and she emigrated to Australia and then to America where she got married and lived in Utah. So, none of these particular hints apply to my ancestor. But others have been very helpful. Here is an example of two very useful hints.

Don't become discouraged with hints that don't apply to your ancestors. They are more helpful than making a scatter-gun approach to searching for records.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ancestry Closes Investment Deal

There are some puzzling comments in the May 23, 2016 announcement from that Silver Lake Partners and GIC have successfully completed their previously announced investment transaction. The results of the investment action are outlined in the press release as follows:
As a result, Silver Lake and GIC each hold equal minority ownership positions in the company. The Permira funds, Spectrum Equity and Ancestry management, including President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan and Chief Financial and Chief Operating Officer Howard Hochhauser remain as meaningful equity investors and, along with GIC, continue to own a majority of the Company.
The amount of the investment is not disclosed but the two new investors are said to have acquired "substantial equity stakes in Ancestry at an enterprise value of approximately $2.6 billion." This could be read to imply that the amount paid was the $2.7 billion. But a better reading of the statement would be that the total amount invested was based on a valuation of of $2.7 billion. I would base this guess on the First Quarter 2016 Financial Statement that shows LLC with a value of approximately $1.6 billion dollars. See LLC Reports First Quarter 2016 Financial Results.

The question of who owns LLC now is partially answered by the following statement from the May 23rd press release.
In connection with the closing of the transactions, the Company announced an expanded Operating Committee including: Mike Bingle, Silver Lake; Stephen Evans, Silver Lake; Jason White, Silver Lake; Eric Wilmes, GIC; Alex Moskowitz, GIC; Andrew Skrilow, GIC; Vic Parker, Spectrum Equity; Tim Sullivan, Ancestry; and Howard Hochhauser, Ancestry.
Silver Lake and GIC each have three representatives on the "Operating Committee." This is what an LLC has instead of a Board of Directors. The management of the company is defined in its Limited Liability Company Agreement. Spectrum and each of the LLC principals have one position. It is rather simple to figure out that with 9 positions, a controlling decision is going to take at least 5 votes. Together, Silver Lake and GIC can control the company. Either of them would have to have at least two of the other investors to take control. It appears that the future direction of the company will be up to whether or not Silver Lake and GIC agree as to any major change in strategy. Tim Sullivan and Howard Hochhauser can exert a lot of control if it turns out that Sliver Lake and GIC are at odds.

What does this mean for those of us who are using the program regularly? There is one very enigmatic statements in the press release: "In addition, Ancestry today closed the previously disclosed employee tender offer." This is clarified somewhat in a Form 8-K filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and further designated, "CURRENT REPORTPursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934Date of Report (Date of earliest event reported): April 1, 2016 (March 31, 2016)." That report states:
In connection with, and contingent on the closing of the Investment, Parent intends to offer a liquidity opportunity to employees who own shares or vested options. Parent and certain affiliated entities will offer to purchase from such employees any or all vested shares or options at the same value per share as paid in the Investment. The closing of the employee tender offer is expected to be approximately simultaneous with, and will be conditioned upon, the closing of the Investment, though the expiration of the tender offer is expected to occur before the closing
Essentially, the equity positions of the employees is being bought out.

What will this mean in the future? We will just have to wait and see.

Latin Legal Terms for Genealogists -- Part One

As I have sometimes noted, the legal system of the United States is very conservative. The procedures, causes of action and much of the legal terminology dates back hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Much of what we call "the law" in the United States is directly descendant from the English Common Law system. One very obvious indication of the conservative nature of the law practice is the persistent use of Latin terms, not just Latin derived but the actual terms in the Latin language. They no longer teach Latin to new lawyers but in most cases, when someone starts out in law school, they are immediately faced with a seeming deluge of Latin terms and phrases.

As genealogists researching back in time in any European country, we eventually find records written completely of partially in Latin. However, if you are researching court records, including probate, personal injury, criminal or any other type of action, you may still run into Latin. I can say from experience that after a while, the Latin phrases become so familiar I forget they are in a non-English language. The words and phrases have become part of my "English" vocabulary.

Here is the list with my perspective on the usage. A literal translation of the phrases usually does not help in understanding how the term is used in the law. In addition, some of these phrases have become so common that they have passed into ordinary usage. Sometimes the common use of the words differs from their technical, legal usage. I have no intention of listing every Latin legal term ever used. For anything not on this list see Black's Law Dictionary.

Here we go.

et al. -- literally "and others"
This is one of those terms that has passed into common usage. It is an abbreviation of et alii which translates as "and others." In the law it is used as a common abbreviation in the heading of legal cases filed with the court to avoid listing all of the parties every time a pleading is filed.

et cetera, etc. -- literally "and other things"
The abbreviation of this term is extremely common and its usage in legal cases clearly parallels its usage in common English speech. It now is usually used for "and so forth" or in a list to indicate that the whole list is not included.

et seq. -- literally "and the following things"
Another common adoption into commonly spoken English, the term in the law is used to show that the the following items (unwritten) are caused by the first one listed. It is also used by lawyers to include numbered lists, pages or sections after the first number is stated as in being used for "and the following sections (of the law). It is roughly the equivalent of "and so forth." It is an abbreviation of et sequens meaning "and the following ones."

et uxor or et ux. -- literally "and wife."
In the not too distant past and in some places today, the husband and the wife were considered to be one person and the husband was the one. This is not a commonly spoken term in English. It is not used too often even in legal documents.

a priori -- literally "from earlier"
In a legal sense this term is used to refer to the existence of one or more causitive events.

ab initio -- literally "from the beginning"
This term refers to the fact that some legally enforceable provision in a deed, contract or agreement is in force from the time the document was created.

ad hoc -- literally "for this"
In common usage, but from a legal standpoint is refers to an unsupported argument or one that has no foundation. In genealogy, most online family trees would be ad hoc creations.

post hoc, ergo propter hoc -- literally "after this, therefore because of this"
Sometimes used in common speech but more common in philosophy and law. This could be said of much of what passes for genealogical research online. More commonly, genealogists use the phrase "same name, same person." The phrase can refer to any unsubstantiated argument or proposition.

sui juris -- literally "of his own right"
The phrase is used to refer to someone who is legally competent to manage their own affairs.

in absentia -- literally "in absence"
Said of a legal action such as a trial, court hearing, sentencing or other proceeding conducted without the presence of a necessary party. Usually applied when a party has voluntarily failed to appear in a scheduled hearing or trial.

That should get you started. Here is link to a much longer list.

Friday, May 27, 2016

8 inch floppies, trans-atlantic cables, fair use and genealogy

The juxtaposition of several news stories caught my attention. A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Pentagon was still using 8 inch floppy disks as storage media for its nuclear defense program. This technology pre-dates even my ancient entry into computers. The details of this travesty are outlined in the GAO Report to Congressional Requesters, May 2016, Information Technology, Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems. Here is a quote outlining the problem.
Federal legacy IT investments are becoming increasingly obsolete: many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported. Agencies reported using several systems that have components that are, in some cases, at least 50 years old. For example, Department of Defense uses 8- inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces. In addition, Department of the Treasury uses assembly language code—a computer language initially used in the 1950s and typically tied to the hardware for which it was developed. OMB recently began an initiative to modernize, retire, and replace the federal government’s legacy IT systems. As part of this, OMB drafted guidance requiring agencies to identify, prioritize, and plan to modernize legacy systems. However, until this policy is finalized and fully executed, the government runs the risk of maintaining systems that have outlived their effectiveness. The following table provides examples of legacy systems across the federal government that agencies report are 30 years or older and use obsolete software or hardware, and identifies those that do not have specific plans with time frames to modernize or replace these investments.
These issues directly impact genealogy when you look at the list referred to in the quote. A recent issue in the genealogical community involved and continues to involve the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). You should note that both the Department of the Treasury and the Social Security Administration are on the list of agencies with outmoded computer systems. The problems with the alleged use of the SSDI to avoid taxes may not be a privacy issue at all but rather a symptom of incompetence on the part of both agencies.


Next we have a news article highlighting the fact that Facebook and Microsoft are Laying a Giant Cable Across the Atlantic. The article also points out that Google already has undersea cables that go from the West Coast of the United States to Japan and from the east coast to Brazil. The article states,
Facebook and Microsoft are laying a massive cable across the middle of the Atlantic. 
Dubbed MAREA—Spanish for “tide”—this giant underwater cable will stretch from Virginia to Bilbao, Spain, shuttling digital data across 6,600 kilometers of ocean. Providing up to 160 terabits per second of bandwidth—about 16 million times the bandwidth of your home Internet connection—it will allow the two tech titans to more efficiently move enormous amounts of information between the many computer data centers and network hubs that underpin their popular online services.
Google is already into the cable business as this quote shows.
The project expands the increasingly enormous computer networks now being built by the giants of the Internet as they assume a role traditionally played by telecom companies. Google has invested in two undersea cables that stretch from the West Coast of the United States to Japan, another that connects the US and Brazil, and a network of cables that connect various parts of Asia. Rather than just leasing bandwidth on undersea cables and terrestrial connections operated by telecoms, the likes of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are building their own networking infrastructure both on land and across the seas.
The fact that these large private corporations are making huge investments in information technology highlights the fact that the United States Federal Government has mis-directed much of its bloated budget and is not even attempting to remain competitive with the large companies. 

More about genealogy. The FamilySearch Blog has posted its "What's New on FamilySearch -- May 2016" post for the month. Heading the list of newly released features is the following statement:
Family Tree: Possible System Outages 
We only have a few new features this month because we’re working on significant improvements to FamilySearch. While the improvements are being tested, there may be a few times when the system will not be available. We have scheduled times when few users access the system. We hope you will be as excited about the improvements as we are. You’ll hear more in future editions of What’s New.
We have been experiencing those "outages" for some time now. One of the main issues faced by FamilySearch is the unanticipated growth in the usage of the website. FamilySearch has kept up with the technological changes, but it has the same concerns as the other big online companies in its ability to move information around the world. Its updates are aimed, in part, at the slow down in response of the website due to the demand exceeding the ability to supply information. It is a good problem to have, but only if the entity addresses the issues. Apparently FamilySearch is on the side of the other large online companies and not following the example of the U.S. Government. 

Recently I wrote about the lawsuit brought by the Author's Guild against Google where Google prevailed on the issue of fair use. Well Google just won another huge fair use lawsuit. A news article on is entitled "Google beats Oracle -- Android makes "fair use" of Java APIs." The gist of the story is that Google was being sued by Oracle who was claiming a violation of Oracle-owned copyrights to the Java programming language. The article states.
Following a two-week trial, a federal jury concluded Thursday that Google's Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use." The verdict was reached after three days of deliberations.
This is a landmark decision and, along with the Google Books ruling, strikes a blow for opening information to the world, genealogists included. In contrast to my previous post about the lack of digitization and the inaccessibility of the U.S. National Archives, we can see that there are a few bright spots on the horizon.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Surviving an Avalanche of Genealogical Data

I belong to a rather exclusive club of those who have survived being carried down a mountainside in an real avalanche. So I know first-hand how it feels to be swept along at high speed and be completely out of control. I am also in a position to know, first hand, about the avalanche of genealogical data that is sweeping all of us down my present metaphorical mountain.

I survived my real avalanche experience due, in small part, to some advance knowledge and preparation. But I am not yet sure if I am going to survive the information avalanche or anyone else will either.

Most people do what all sensible mountain climbers do when faced with an avalanche danger, they stay out of the mountains. Most genealogists do exactly the same thing: they ignore the reality of the amount of available information and spend their time picking at the sides of the flow or standing in valley and watching it from a distance.

OK, enough of that analogy and its metaphors. Whether we like it or not or even realize it, we are daily being presented with a huge amount of newly digitized genealogically pertinent data online. But that newly digitized data is only a small part of the huge collections waiting to be added to the pile. I was talking to one of my friends yesterday (yes I do have one or two friends left after writing online for years) about the U.S. National Archives and all its branch archives around the country. Like any other government agency, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration keeps track and reports about its holdings. Unfortunately, they only report from time to time and the current report is now six years old and dates back to 2010. But even this antiquated report can give us an idea of what they have and what has been digitized. I realized that one way to get an overall idea of the data avalanche was to take a snapshot of one of the largest information institutions in the world: the United States Government.

The statistics from the U.S. National Archives are on linked on a webpage entitled, "Statistical Summary of Holdings." I pick on this one archive for two reasons. One, the U.S. National Archives is huge and two, they do a miserable job of making all their stuff available. What do the archive statistics show?

Before looking at the data and to understand what the statistics are saying, you need to refer to a page of abbreviations (really acronyms) called, "Abbreviations Used in the Statistical Summary of Holdings." This points out an interesting point. Many people visualize the National Archives as the building in Washington, D.C. with the Declaration of Independence. This list, however, paints an entirely different picture.

Units of the Office of Records Services--Washington, DC

NWCT1 Textual Archives Services Division--Archives I
NWCT2 Textual Archives Services Division--Archives II
NWCS-C Cartographic and Architectural Records
NWCS-M Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Records
NWCS-S Still Picture Records
NWL Center for Legislative Archives
NWC Access Programs
NWME Electronic and Special Media Records Services

Units of the Office of Regional Records Services

NR Office of Regional Records Services
NRABA National Archives and Records Administration - Northeast Region (Boston)
NRAN National Archives and Records Administration - Northeast Region (New York City)
NRBPA National Archives and Records Administration - Mid Atlantic Region (Center City Philadelphia)
NRCAA National Archives and Records Administration - Southeast Region
NRDA National Archives and Records Administration - Great Lakes Region (Chicago)
NREKA National Archives and Records Administration - Central Plains Region (Kansas City)
NRFFA National Archives and Records Administration - Southwest Region
NRGDA National Archives and Records Administration - Rocky Mountain Region
NRHLA National Archives and Records Administration - Pacific Region (Laguna Niguel)
NRHSA National Archives and Records Administration - Pacific Region (San Francisco)
NRIA National Archives and Records Administration - Pacific Alaska Region (Anchorage)
NRISA National Archives and Records Administration - Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle)
Other Units of the National Archives and Records Administration
NL Office of Presidential Libraries
NLDDE Dwight D. Eisenhower Library
NLFDR Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
NLGB George Bush Presidential Library
NLGRF Gerald R. Ford Library
NLHH Herbert Hoover Library
NLHST Harry S. Truman Library
NLJC Jimmy Carter Library
NLJFK John F. Kennedy Library
NLLBJ Lyndon B. Johnson Library
NLMS Presidential Materials Staff
NLRNS Richard Nixon Library
NLRNS Richard Nixon Library - College Park
NLRR Ronald Reagan Library
NLWJC William J. Clinton Presidential

Affiliated Archives

USMAU.S. Military Academy, West Point
USNAU.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis

For those of you genealogists out there who are experienced in "working in the National Archives," how may of you have visited all of these facilities and done research in each one? Do you realize that each of these branches has its own unique records?

Now to the numbers. Oh, before we get to the numbers we need to recognize that the records are held in "Record Groups." Here is a list of the Record Groups.

Record Groups 001 - 100
Record Groups 101 - 200
Record Groups 201 - 300
Record Groups 301 - 400
Record Groups 401 - 500
Record Groups 501 - 581

The links for each record group will take you to the webpage for the statistics for that group and there is more.

Alphabetic Index of Donated Materials Groups
Statistical Summary of Donated Materials Collections

One other thing I need to mention, all of the statistics from the National Archives are in cubic feet of records, not the number of individual records. How may records are there in one cubic foot of records? Here is the answer from the National Archives.
The quantity of records in the custody of each unit.
  • The quantity of paper-formatted textual records is expressed in cubic feet only.
  • The quantity of microfilmed textual records is expressed both in cubic feet and in items (number of microfilm rolls, according to size and polarity; number of microfiche cards).
  • The quantity of nontextual records is expressed both in cubic feet and in items appropriate to each medium.
  • The quantity of artifacts is expressed both in cubic feet and in items.
Now do you really expect me to add up all of the numbers? Well, I am not going to. But I can give you an example of one tiny part of the list in one tiny section of the National Archives.

0015 Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs
TOTAL: 82,094.647 cu. ft. 246,570 items

By the way, these records are summarized as follows:
A record is evaluated. The creator of a record proposes to the National Archives how long it should be kept. Some records are destroyed (for example, a receipt for the purchase of pencils), while others are kept permanently in the National Archives (such as executive orders). Records schedules are set up to determine how long all Federal records are to be kept by the Government. Only 1–3% of all records are kept permanently, but the total number of documents in the National Archives number in the billions, and the number keeps growing.
How many of these records are available online? The list is actually available and is current as of January 11, 2016 on the page entitled, "Microfilm Publications and Original Records Digitized by Our Digitization Partners." The actual number of digital records is a vanishingly small percentage of the total number of records but the list is very long.

Now, think about it. This is just one archive. There are hundreds of archives across the United States and thousands around the world. There are tens of thousands of libraries, universities and colleges with record collections. There are thousands of private collections of documents. There are billions upon billions of records online and more going on each day. 

When you are in an avalanche, can you really say you have looked at every snowflake? Please do not tell me you have searched everywhere for your ancestors. You have no idea how many records there are in the world, much less the United States. 

Can we survive? Well, the answer is yes as long as we don't get hung up on riding along at high speed. Perhaps I can help and maybe those who think they know it all can take a step back and admit that they are just barely able to focus on one small part of the total number of records and get on with doing more research. Perhaps, the next time you hire someone to do "research for you in the National Archives (or anywhere else for that matter) you realize that they are probably only talking about the main Washington, D.C. facility and would need more money and more time to search everywhere else. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Comments on the Changing Times of Genealogy

Our main focus as genealogists is information. We gather, evaluate, disseminate and store information. It seems to me that if what we are doing is working with information, we should be very much involved in the technological changes involving manipulating and working with our subject matter. In other words, we should be actively embracing the information revolution.

Current online and computer technology is part of what is now referred to as the "Information Revolution." Quoting from the University of Missouri article entitled, "The Information Revolution:"
The Information Revolution is a phrase we use to refer to the dramatic changes taking place during the last half of the 20th century in which service jobs (ranging from high technology, highly skilled professions to low-skill jobs like short-order cook) are more common than jobs in manufacturing or agriculture. The product of skilled professionals is the information or knowledge they provide.
I am perfectly familiar with selling information. I was hired by thousands of clients who paid me for what I knew. All I ever produced were words and ideas; hundreds of thousands of pages of the stuff and years of speaking.

Now I find myself immersed in the very narrow and specialized area of genealogical information. What I see is that that genealogist are "way behind the curve" in adopting and adapting to the new technology. Part of what I write about in this blog is how the new technology is evolving and how the changes in that technology impact genealogy and genealogists. It is not just important to use the technology: it is also important to understand how it is affecting and will affect what we do as genealogists. I am often reminded of the the Bob Dylan song that I have quoted before, "The Times They are a Changin'"
Come gather 'round peopleWherever you roamAnd admit that the watersAround you have grownAnd accept it that soonYou'll be drenched to the boneIf your time to youIs worth savin'Then you better start swimmin'Or you'll sink like a stoneFor the times they are a-changin'
I realize that the context of the song has changed dramatically, the message is the same. We either keep up with the changes, in this case, technological changes, or we lose out and metaphorically, sink like a stone.

Because of my technological background, I am constantly seeking a faster and more efficient way to do my work. Over the past two years, with the fastest Internet connection in the country, Google Fiber, and now one of the fastest computers available at a reasonable price, I have been looking to streamline my information handling methodology to match the technology. My attention has focused on three devices (all Apple by the way): my iPhone, my relatively newly acquired iPad Pro and now my very new iMac.

Part of my focus has been on integrating online resources into my work flow to avoid moving paper as much as possible. Ideally, I would like to go from original source documents, through all the steps of analysis and evaluation to integrating the newly discovered information into my database without once touching paper (unless the original is on paper or whatever).

Why is paper a problem? That question addresses the crux of the issues involved. In our existence on earth, we find ourselves in a web of family relationships. For thousands of years communication has been limited to people being present or the written word. Today, after a hundred years or so of technological development. I can sit at my desk and essentially write to the entire world in an instant. If I were limited to writing on paper, that could never happen. It would take a huge production and distribution industry for me to be heard.

Now match that with genealogy. Genealogists, until very recently, worked on "their" family. That concept has now changed. We now work on "our" family. There is no "my" family or "your" family. We are all part of one huge world family and the technology lets us see and experience those worldwide relationships instantaneously. But for the most part, the genealogists do not grasp this expansive view of our interrelationship. They still have their noses firmly glued to paper or what is worse, its electronic equivalent. So far, genealogical processes and methodologies have been focused almost entirely on reproducing paper technology. We need to start swimming in the world of online, completely collaborative, expansive and progressive technology and stop trying reproduce our paper world in a digitized format.

Here is one example concerning the genealogical work flow. In searching for information on a specific ancestor, I identify a place where that ancestor lived or some other event occurred. I begin to search for possible source documents that may have originated at or near the time my ancestor lived in a specific location or the event occurred. With those limitations in mind, I begin to sweep online and in catalogs to locate anything that might relate to that date and place. I then begin to methodically review every single source of every kind that might contain the information I am seeking.

On a very local and personal basis, I can go to the section of the Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library and search the shelves, looking at each of the books and pulling everything that might be relevant for inspection. When I did this recently, I found a book that had transcribed the court records of one of my ancestor's probate case. I walked over to a table with the book and pulled out my iPhone and took a photo of each of the pages where there was information about my family. I also took a photo of the cover and title page of the book. I then used the iPhone to upload the images to my Google Drive account. Google has 1 Terabyte of storage for free. When I got home, I downloaded the images from the Google Drive and then created a source citation in the Family Tree program and uploaded a copy of the information in the probate file to the Memories program. That information then formed the basis for adding a source citation to that ancestor's Detail page.

The key here was the ability to move the images of the book pages to the "Cloud" or Google Drive directly from the camera (my iPhone) to my computer and then into the Family Tree. This is the type of methodology I have been focusing on. In a true sense, the information that was locked up in a few copies of that book has been liberated and is now part of an online stream that can be viewed, evaluated and integrated by anyone in my family who cares or is interested.

Part of this process is severely limited by the availability of online, digitized sources. Obviously, if I had the probate files available online, there would be no need for the trip to the Library or searching the stacks. There are background issues of file format, file size, data transfer speeds, file quality transferability and other issues, but these are some of the same issues we have with all online files.

What makes this possible is the ability to move information digitally. But at every step of this process, we have impediments to moving the information. We have genealogists who claim ownership to their jointly held family information, we have governments that limit our ability to gather information about families. We have prejudice and other issues that block us from gathering information and we have a whole world that seems determined to destroy our families and prevent us from finding our information. We cannot own information we can only try to control it. We can persecute those who want it. We can destroy records but we have no real ownership over information. Why then do we, as genealogists, think we own the information about our families?

Right now, information about my ancestors, my part of the human family, is spread all over the world in bits and pieces. The real effect of the information revolution is that more and more I am able to find and incorporate all those bits and pieces into an organized whole that can then be viewed, corrected, analyzed, evaluated and disseminated to everyone.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Note on the Copyright Issue

In my last post, I quoted a restriction I found on a book in the Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library. Here is the quote again for reference.
No part of the publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means whatsoever, whether electronic, mechanical, magnetic recording or photocopying, without prior written approval of the Copyright holders, excepting brief quotes for inclusion in book reviews. Privately printed in the United States of America.
As an afterthought, I decided it might be helpful to point out some of the reality of making a statement such as this. First of all, the book was nothing more or less than a direct transcription of old mid-1800s Vermont probate files. There was nothing added, no comments, to explanations, nothing. There is now question that once a work is in the public domain, there is no way you can impose your own copyright claim on the once-public domain work. The word "work" in copyright law includes this book. See Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code, Circular 92 Chapter 1: 101. For an excellent summary of the entire copyright law see Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States.

The next, more serious issue is that the statement made in this book is inaccurate, misleading and just plain wrong. The Doctrine of Fair Use cannot be abrogated by a written provision in the publication. Taken literally, this provision would not allow you to read the book. Arguably, your brain is a retrieval system. This is type of ignorant overreaching that gives researchers fits and gives copyright law an even worse reputation than it already has.

Just so there is no misunderstanding. The book is nothing more than a copy of a public domain document. There is no legal argument at all that would produce copyright coverage for this book.