Retrospect Publishing - Pennsylvania Genealogy Books on CD-ROM 

The following article is from The Historical Society of Berks County Email Newsletter,  
and is copyright 2003 by George M. Meiser, IX,  It is re-published here with the permission of the author.

The Historical Society of Berks County Email Newsletter
Historical Society of Berks County PA,
Centre Avenue, Reading, PA 19601

4/12/2003 – The Historical Society of Berks County: Historical Society News Bits

Historical Society of Berks County
940 Centre Avenue
Reading, Pennsylvania 19601
Phone 610 375-4375 Fax 610 375-4376

George M. Meiser IX

New CD of Montgomery's 1909 annals a real treasure!

After spending some 20 hours exploring the ins and outs of the new CD of M. L. Montgomery's (1909) 2-volume "Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County," I can state without fear of contradiction that this CD is an absolute treasure. EVERY library in the county should have a copy, as should every genealogist and local history buff---provided, of course, they have a computer!
In the early evening of the day the CD arrived, I was so taken with its format and capabilities that I sat transfixed, unable to take my eyes from the monitor. Hours passed by like minutes. Countless facts of great interest were wrested from their hiding places, buried within bios of obscure people one would never ordinarily read. It's astonishing how many valuable references there are to old-time forges, furnaces, early mills, and canal sites that don't appear on the pages devoted to those topics.
A check in Montgomery's index for breweries yields nothing, yet do a search for brewery, brewer, or breweries and you find 64 leads. Several family cemeteries that had heretofore escaped my notice-and which do not appear in the cemetery books--- appeared casually within biographical sketches. This is the type of information having a searchable CD reveals. No paper index is so revealing.
In regard to those individual biographical sketches, be aware they number some 4,000! Add to that the fact that there are over 50,000 names on this single CD. Yes, every bit of information found on the 1.723 pages has been included.  Absolutely nothing has been omitted!
As I sampled all the CD's features, I couldn't help but marvel at its ease of use. In view of the fragility of the original volumes' pages and the fact you are physically dealing with two cumbersome books, there is no way any mortal can move from page
42 to 1646 in the blink of an eye. And with no damage to 94-year-old sulfated paper.
As was the case in Retrospect Publishing Co.'s previous CD, of Montgomery's 1886 Berks history, the type is crystal clear--even at the greatest magnification. Text is read with great ease.
One of the most appealing and useful features of this CD is the bookmarking arrangement. When you click on "bookmark," a big box appears with two windows. In the top one you compose a label., i.e., "unknown Lesher cemetery near Virginville." In the larger window below it, you can type notes. At the bottom is an acorn that you drag to the page you're reading and drop same on the line you wish to consult later. Yellow highlighting marks the spot.
As one of the most appealing aspects of Montgomery's 1909 set is the great number of high quality portraits, I was eager to see how they would look on the monitor. According to the index, Isaac Spatz appears on page 1048, which I typed in the window. Only his bio appeared. I tried another person with the same result. Had Retrospect omitted the portraits because of possibly not reproducing well on a contrasty medium?

Then it hit me. Looking at the volumes in CD form, one is not aware that portraits are all on unnumbered pages, either before or after the respective biographical sketch. Accordingly, you can't type in the portrait page! If a bio is on page 483 and you want to see the accompanying picture, you type in 483. When that printed page appears, you simply go up to the tool bar and hit either "Next Page" or "Previous Page" and the portrait shows up....beautifully. Hit "Print" and you have a splendid replication.

As stated at the outset, this CD is a treasure.  [Go to Disc Page]

To get a copy [ Click here to go to the Order Form ], send a check for $54.90 (includes postage) to "Retrospect Publishing" at 1307 Warrington Place, Alexandria, VA 22307 Request "Annals by Montgomery, 1909" (Item B-182).

[ Hyperlinks added by Retrospect Publishing ]

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