Retrospect Publishing - Pennsylvania Genealogy Books on CD-ROM 

The following article is from Genealogical Computing:  A Quarterly Journal,  
and is copyright 2002 by MyFamily.com, Inc.  It is re-published here with the permission of the Editor.

Genealogical Computing 


Review by Elissa Scalise Powell, CGRS
Winter 2002, Volume 21.3, pp 42-44

 


The Pennsylvania Retrospective CD-ROM Series  

Allegheny County

The 19th Century and Before

Reviewed by Elissa Scalise Powell, CGRS

CD A121. Published by Retrospect Publishing; 1307 Warrington Place; Alexandria, VA 22307. 2000. CD-ROM. System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/2000  [or XP]; 486 or higher IBM PC or compatible, 16 MB RAM, 4 MB Hard Disk Space, CD-ROM drive VGA display with 256 colors. $39.95.

www.RetrospectPublishing.com

Allegheny County - The 19th Century and Before is one of a series of Pennsylvania county resource CD-ROMs from Retrospect Publishing. This incarnation of the oft-reprinted A. Warner & Co.'s 1889 History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Part I and Part II), and R. L. Polk & Co.'s 1897 Allegheny County Directory includes a search engine capable of going beyond proper names. Warner's 1,534 page History records many historical narratives and biographies. Polk's 734 - page Directory lists not only people throughout the county with their occupations, but also property values, telephone numbers, and the location of every hamlet.
The opening screen allows the table of contents to be viewed or for the selection of "Search" or "Bookmarks" mode. A navigational tool bar controls movement from item to item, sizing the page and creating annotated bookmarks. Each book in Warner's two-volume set is treated separately and all three books have a background notes section that should be read. It was here that the notes for the Polk Directory indicate that pages 1, 2, 25 and 26 are missing from the original.
The Search mode allows three levels of complexity: simple, moderate, or advanced. A Simple search allows up to three single words to be located near one another. The word "grave" occurs 18 times in all three books, and "stone" occurs 195 times, but the combination does not appear near each other as denoted with a results count of 0. A Moderate search allows the user to choose one or all books to search, and to have multiple search words near other multiple search words, e.g.: "cemetery or graveyard" near "Saint or St." yields " St. Mary's cemetery." An Advanced search allows wildcard searches and exclusions, and the definition of proximity. Setting the proximity to 100 words and searching for "Wise" and "Reel" captures the maiden name of Elizabeth Wise within the biography of her husband Casper Reel.
The Search mode allows three levels of complexity: simple, moderate, or advanced. A Simple search allows up to three single words to be located near one another. The word "grave" occurs 18 times in all three books, and "stone" occurs 195 times, but the combination does not appear near each other as denoted with a results count of 0. A Moderate search allows the user to choose one or all books to search, and to have multiple search words near other multiple search words, e.g.: "cemetery or graveyard" near "Saint or St." yields " St. Mary's cemetery." An Advanced search allows wildcard searches and exclusions, and the definition of proximity. Setting the proximity to 100 words and searching for "Wise" and "Reel" captures the maiden name of Elizabeth Wise within the biography of her husband Casper Reel.
A margin bar highlights the selected area of the page and is retained when printed. The search words are printed perpendicularly in the right margin and the name of the book at the bottom of the page. A problem with my HP LaserJet 1200 not printing prompted a consultation with Retrospect Publishing's e-mail Help Desk. I received prompt attention in a courteous and thorough reply. By choosing an older printer driver, I was able to use my newer LaserJet, although the source citation ran off the margin due to a different font size.
The searchability of these books is a great boon for those who might have roots in Allegheny County. The ease of installation and intuitive use of the searching software allows the user to get right to business. This incarnation of these books puts them into a highly usable form that every researcher of pre-1900 Allegheny County should own.

[ Clarification added by Retrospect Publishing ]

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