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dave obee Everton's Genealogical Helper

Written in 2004, before the magazine was revived with Leland Meitzler as editor, and before it died again.

By Dave Obee

If you've been working on your family history for a few years, there's a good chance you've heard of Everton's -- and probably even used the company's major product, the bi-monthly Genealogical Helper.

For about half a century, the Helper was the single most important commercial publication for genealogists. Everton's also played a key role in the development of our pastime, serving as a reliable source of microfiche machines and early computers. Remember all those ads for the Kaypro?

Genealogical Helper was never the most beautiful publication on the market, with a heavy emphasis on advertising and listings and little regard for design or eye-pleasing layout. The arrival of new genealogical publications such as Ancestry, Family Tree, Heritage Quest and Family Chronicle put a bit of pressure on the Helper, though, and the publishers tried to hang on to the business as best they could.

There were big changes a couple of years ago, with the Genealogical Helper evolving into Family History Magazine, and taking aim directly at the competition. (They reduced advertising and added colour, which is much more expensive than black and white. Do the math -- without a huge increase in sales, the gamble was sure to fail.) Behind the scenes, the Everton family lost control of the operation, with some veterans of Utah's high-tech industries taking over.

So far, their gamble has failed. Everton's -- or Family History Network, as they preferred to be called -- has ceased operations for now. Both of the company's Web sites have gone dead, and the July-August issue of the magazine was not published.

All of Everton's assets, other than its building, have been donated to the city of Logan, Utah. The Everton's collection of books -- about 70,000 volumes strong -- is to go to the Logan Public Library.

How will this affect genealogists? The first concern is the Handybook for Genealogists, which is an essential guide for research in the United States. The city of Logan will now own the intellectual rights to the book. Let's hope it continues to update the Handybook, which is now in its 10th edition.

Two veteran Everton's employees have started a new online genealogical weekly, called GenWeekly.com. So we will still be able to get some of the information that Everton's provided.

We wouldn't normally mourn the loss of a company, because in business, outfits come and outfits go. But the Genealogical Helper has been a friend of genealogical researchers since 1947. Let's hope it's not gone for good.

Posted July 14, 2004


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