The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy
Newsletter and is copyright 2000 by Richard W. Eastman.
It is re-published here with the permission of the author.
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Topics of Interest to Online Genealogists
Vol. 5 No. 30 - July 22, 2000
- Retrospect Publishing's Pennsylvania CD-ROM Disks
This week I had a chance to use one of the new CD-ROM disks for
Windows produced by Retrospect Publishing of Alexandria, Virginia.
This small company is producing CD-ROM disks containing electronic
reprints of hard-to-find books, directories and other genealogy
resources. The company produces a number of CD-ROM disks, one
county per disk. The CD-ROM that I tried is called, "Butler County
(Pennsylvania), the early 20th Century and Before." Quoting from
the company's Web site:
The over 1200 bibliographic sketches in the 1909 County
History provides a treasure-trove of family history that often
goes back several generations. The wealth of information and
names does not stop at the sketches; it only begins, for there
are countless names included in the special interest chapters.
These include the development and founding of boroughs and
townships of Butler County along with chapters on the
newspapers, lawyers, doctors, oil men and soldiers of the
county. Whether you are searching for the names of
Revolutionary War Soldiers who settled in Butler, or are
trying to locate rural neighbors in the Agricultural Directory
which includes over 1800 names and map locations of Butler
County residents, you are bound to learn more about the people
and places that comprised Butler County during this period.
The Butler County, Pennsylvania CD-ROM contains electronic images
of the pages from three printed books:
20th Century History of Butler and Butler County, PA (Richmond Arnold Publishing Company; 1909)
American Agriculturist Farm Directory and Reference Book
for Butler County, PA
(Orange Judd Company; 1916)
1900 Centennial Letter - To the Children of Butler County,
(Simeon Nixon; 1900)
The CD-ROM contains the images of the original pages along with a
proprietary Windows search engine developed by Retrospect
Publishing. Installation was simple: double-click on SETUP.EXE and
follow the instructions. The total installation time was less than
one minute. The installed software is called "Retrospector" and
works only with the Retrospect Publishing CD-ROM disks. It seems
easy to use.
The left side of the screen displays three tabs: Contents, Search
and Bookmarks. The Contents tab lists all the books on the CD-ROM,
along with a list of the major sections or chapters of each book.
You can jump directly to any section of any book by clicking on
its name in the Contents tab. The Search tab allows you to search
for individual words in the books. You may search for up to three
The Bookmark tab allows you to save your place in a book so you
can easily return to it later. It also provides a place for any
notes you may want to make and will allow you to attach a label to
a spot in a book or to a note.
The software combines the best of both worlds: actual images of
the original books are displayed on the screen, and yet, unlike
many other CD-ROM disks of scanned images, the user also can
search on every word in the books. I quickly did a search for my
own last name. The Retrospector software identified 11 "hits." I
found that I could click on any of the "hits" and almost
immediately view the appropriate page containing that name. While
the word itself was not highlighted, a green bar in the margin did
show the approximate location of the word that I had searched for.
This green bar is very helpful for quickly finding the desired
I also found that adding my own notes to a page was easy. On any
page, I could right-click and select Bookmark. I was then prompted
for a label and for the text of the notes. After I entered the
appropriate data, a yellow highlight appeared in the margin. Even
better, the new Bookmark and labels are now shown in the list of
bookmarks on the left side of the screen. It is easy to return
time and again to bookmarked locations and text notes.
Printing a page is just as easy. Each page is documented as to its
origin by additional text on the bottom of the page, such as,
"Copyright 1999 Retrospect Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Pennsylvania Retrospective Series: Butler County - The Early 20th
Century and Before; County History." If the page contains a
bookmark, the label and text of that bookmark are also printed.
The Butler County, Pennsylvania CD-ROM will be of interest to
anyone with roots in that county. Keep in mind that the data on
this CD-ROM comes from history books, not from long lists of
births, marriages and deaths. Many prominent citizens will be
mentioned, along with some of the not-so-prominent. I especially
found the history of the Civil War units from Butler County to be
quite interesting as the information included complete lists of
all the soldiers from Butler County.
All of Retrospect Publishing's Pennsylvania CD-ROM disks require
an IBM PC or compatible with 486 or higher CPU, 16 megabytes of
RAM memory, 4 megabytes of hard drive space, Windows 95 or 98, a
CD-ROM drive and a VGA display capable of displaying at least 256
colors. I was disappointed to find that the software does not work
on Windows NT or Windows 2000. [ Note: The
software is now compatible with Windows NT, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, and 7 ]
The Butler County, Pennsylvania CD-ROM sells for $39.95 plus tax
and shipping. The same company also sells similar CD-ROM disks for Allegheny,
Beaver, Fayette and
Westmoreland counties.Still other
counties will be covered in future releases. [
Note: Berks, Chester,
Mercer and Washington
Counties as well as Monongahela Valley
available] For more information,
look at: http://www.retrospectpublishing.com
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