Meet Dick Eastman: Author of Online Genealogy Newsletter

Dick Eastman profile

“Even if I tried … I could never have planned the life I’ve led or encountered the incredible experiences I have had in my life to this point.”

Those words are Dick Eastman’s, author of the Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

“My life has not been a planned event. It just kind of mushroomed,” he says.

Dick Eastman’s Early Years

Dick Eastman was born and raised in a small town in Maine. There was one thing he did plan: he decided he did not want to live in a small town anymore. His high school graduation was held on a Friday. The next day, Saturday, Dick moved out of that small town.

Dick Eastman when he was a young boy in Maine.

Since then, life has never been boring for Dick. He has owned 5 houses in 58 years and moved every year or two. He has even raced automobiles and flown airplanes (although he gave up flying after landing upside down on a pine tree)!

After moving out of his small town, Dick joined the military and ended up working on computers. He eventually worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), where everything he did was classified. He loved his work—he just couldn’t talk about it. Dick eventually left the military but stayed with computers. He flew around the country fixing computers and managing companies that fixed computers.

Dick Eastman in 2009 with a computer.

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

In the early days, there were few computers, and they kept getting smaller and smaller. Somewhere along the line, Dick Eastman was introduced to FamilySearch. Dick thought it would be a good idea to start an online service to help people with their genealogy. “I had no grandiose plan. I just wanted to have fun with it, or I would never have done it,” he recalls.

When Dick started his newsletter, he went with CompuServe because they were the largest online service at the time. He was one of the first genealogical presences online. Dick’s distribution method for his newsletter was through email, which was relatively new back then. He started his genealogy section and sent out mass emails. Back in those days, he spent most of his time on computer basics. He gave introductory lessons on how to sign in. “Nowadays everyone knows what to do. They are so much more knowledgeable so I am able to cover other topics,” he says.

Dick Eastman still relies on word of mouth to promote his newsletter. He enjoys meeting all kinds of people through technical means. “I started going to major national conferences and eventually decided to have a booth at one of the conventions,” he recalls. “We were located in a back corner of the exhibition hall. Little by little, people heard about me and got interested in what I was doing.”

Dick Eastman talking into a microphone at a conference

As the newsletter continues to grow, Dick is still not a planner. He writes about whatever interests him at the moment. He often chooses his topics when they pop across his desk, or a new idea may flash into his mind after he reads a press release. Occasionally, Dick will change directions with his writing when he receives an email asking how to do something specific. Dick is happiest living for the moment, and his newsletter reflects that sentiment.

Dick Eastman Helps Others with Their Genealogy

Dick has helped many people with their genealogy. He has received varied responses from many grateful individuals. The most common is “Thank you, thank you, thank you—so much!” In this line of work, Dick Eastman has had many rewarding experiences and incredible finds.

For example, Dick remembers, “A lady came online, and I was doing my best to help her. We eventually figured out she was my cousin twice removed. I grew up with her grandfather.”

“Another woman that I was in a jam session with online in Massachusetts had ancestors she had traced back to a Manning family in approximately 1696,” Dick continues. “I was leaning back in my chair trying to help her out. I gazed out the window and saw a Manning family plaque on the building. Here I was sitting on her ancestors’ land, and they still owned the building! She was thrilled to be able to continue her search. I was left a bit stunned.”

Recent photo of Dick Eastman in a hat

Continuing to Share the Blessings of Family History

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter is the culmination of Dick traveling a path he never envisioned. Dick leads a busy life infused with traveling back and forth from a new home he recently built in Florida to Maine to visit his daughter. But the biggest consumer of Dick’s time is his genealogy. Every individual Dick has helped will forever be grateful for the road that led Dick to FamilySearch. His knowledge and willingness to share will forever be considered a blessing to all of Dick Eastman’s current subscribers and also to the people he has yet to meet and help.

About the Author