Who Do You Think You Are?The two-time Emmy nominated series WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? returns Sunday, July 26, at 9/8c. Every season has revealed some fascinating family history discoveries of celebrities. At the same time the series provides instruction to everyone interested in genealogy on how to uncover their roots.

Geneabloggers says some the celebrities featured in the upcoming season include:


Tom Bergeron, who is aware of his French Canadian roots on his paternal side, but wants to know what brought his ancestors to North America. He goes as far back as his 10x great grandmother to find the answer.

Bryan Cranston, who comes to discover an unfortunate pattern amongst the men in his family.

Ginnifer Goodwin, who sets out to learn about her mysterious paternal great grandparents, whom her father, regretfully, does not know much about either.

Alfre Woodard, who strives to find out more about the paternal side of her family, and explores how her surname came to be.

Additionally, TLC will air the U.S. premiere of J.K. Rowling’s episode of the series, where the best-selling author sets off to uncover her maternal French roots. She finds that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records reveal a surprising twist.

Ancestry, the leading family history company, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities to help make discoveries possible and build out the story of each episode.

Sandy on July 1st, 2015

The Ancestry.com blog posted information on their newly updated privacy policy as follows:

“At Ancestry, we value and respect our customers’ privacy and we have standards in place to protect the integrity of the data our customers entrust to us. So, we want to be clear about a policy change we are making.

As of today, we are updating our privacy statement to clarify what information we may use and share in an effort to further research in fields such as human evolution and migration, population genetics, health, ethnographic diversity and genealogy. We feel we can contribute to discoveries about the intersection of family history, health and genetics that could benefit our members and society at large.

Please visit our updated privacy statement here.

What this means to you:

We will not share information with third parties for research unless the information has been anonymized or aggregated so that individuals cannot be reasonably identified. Personal information such as names and addresses are kept confidential.

We will not share information from private trees for research purposes unless you have agreed to participate by signing our informed consent.

Your Privacy Settings:

While the majority of our customers choose to keep their trees public for the benefit of discovering, sharing and collaborating with the Ancestry community, you do have the option to make your tree private.

New customers are prompted at registration to mark trees as ‘public’ or ‘private’.

Existing customers can log-in and follow the directions here to make their family tree private.

If you have any questions or concerns, please visit our privacy center here.”

Sandy on June 29th, 2015

Fleet_Street._By_James_Valentine_c.1890The Findmypast blog says:

Just how murky is your past? Are there wrongdoers in your family tree? Perhaps you’re the descendant of legal eagles and lawmakers.

Whether your family history contains vice or virtue, over our Crime and Punishment month we’ll be giving you the opportunity to find out more than ever before, with blogs, articles and videos to help you research your criminal ancestry.

Launched to coincide with our release of almost 2 million crime and punishment records – made available online for the first time only on Findmypast – our Crime and Punishment month explores the seedy underbelly of our family histories.

In addition to our helpful blogs and videos, there’ll be stories of the criminals amongst our record collections, fun games and quizzes and case studies of the amazing criminal ancestry discoveries made by our users.

Links to Dickens’ London

Examples of the stories we’ll be exploring in our records include the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ character Mademoiselle Hortense from Bleak House is included in the new records. Maria Manning and her husband Frank, were sentenced to public execution for killing Maria’s lover Patrick O’Conner. Dickens watched the hanging and was consequently driven to campaign against capital punishment and immortalise Manning in his fiction.

The new records uncover fresh detail on petitions and pleas to stop the hanging, including a letter from a member of the public, asking the Home Office to acquit Frank because he was only doing what “any red blooded man would do.”

Most of the requests were for Frank’s life to be spared. However, surprisingly, the records show us a long petition for clemency for Maria in French, from a lawyer who had apparently known her in her youth. These pleas fell on deaf ears as the married couple were hanged together outside Horsemonger Lane Gaol, London in 1849.

Stay tuned throughout this month for more burglaries, murders, embezzlements and other crimes and misdemeanours than you could rattle a chain at.

Start a free trial today.


Sandy on June 26th, 2015

One of the most enlightening classes during my college days focused on historiography (writing history). It was very difficult task to write history without bias. As evidenced by most television channels and newspapers, our news media fails miserably in the quest to report unbiased truth.  Many go out of their way to lie and, after the damage is done, issue apologies.

If history is written by the victors, as Winston Churchill allegedly said, then what of the losers; how is their tale told? Ruins in most nations offer alternative history and  tell the story of a constantly shifting balance of power. They tell us how even mighty armies and steadfast institutions can topple in the shifting sands of time. Ruins depict forces, often way beyond our control, that continue to shape our lives to this day. The ruins speak to the history of losing side.

Click on History Extra to read another fascinating article by writer Dave Hamilton author of Wild Ruins the first ever guidebook to Britain’s ruins.  In the article Hamilton shares seven of his favorite ruins and explains their historical significance.

Britains 7 most amazing ruins.


archivesandrecsrodsadminofusAccording to Nextgov.com  the Archives of the United States of America has been hacked—indicative of the same hack that extracted private information of past and present federal  employees.  This breach is a very serious violation. What’s next? The Power Grid?

See below:

The National Archives and Records Administration recently detected unauthorized activity on three desktops indicative of the same hack that extracted sensitive details on millions of current and former federal employees, government officials said Monday. The revelation suggests the breadth of one of the most damaging cyber assaults known is wider than officials have disclosed.

The National Archives’ own intrusion-prevention technology successfully spotted the so-called indicators of compromise during a scan this spring, said a source involved in the investigation, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the incident. The discovery was made soon after the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team published signs of the wider attack — which targeted the Office of Personnel Management — to look for at agencies, according to NARA.

It is unclear when NARA computers were breached. Suspected Chinese-sponsored cyberspies reportedly had been inside OPM’s networks for a year before the agency discovered what happened in April. Subsequently, the government uncovered a related attack against OPM that mined biographical information on individuals who have filed background investigation forms to access classified secrets.

The National Archives has found no evidence intruders obtained “administrative access,” or took control, of systems, but files were found in places they did not belong, the investigator said.

NARA “systems” and “applications” were not compromised, National Archives spokeswoman Laura Diachenko emphasized to Nextgov,  “but we detected IOCs,” indicators of compromise, “on three workstations, which were cleaned and re-imaged,” or reinstalled.

“Other files found seemed to be legitimate,” such as those from a Microsoft website, she said. “We have requested further guidance from US-CERT on how to deal with these” and are still awaiting guidance on how to proceed.

It will take additional forensics assessments to determine whether attackers ever “owned” the National Archives computers, the investigator said.

Diachenko said, “Continued analysis with our monitoring and forensic tools has not detected any activity associated with a hack,” including alerts from the latest version of a governmentwide network-monitoring tool called EINSTEIN 3A.

EINSTEIN, like NARA’s own intrusion-prevention tool, is now configured to detect the tell-tale signs of the OPM attack.”

“OPM isn’t the only agency getting probed by this group,” said John Prisco, president of security provider Triumfant, the company that developed the National Archives’ tool. “It could be happening in lots of other agencies.”

Prisco said he learned of the incident at a security industry conference June 9, from an agency official the company has worked with for years.

“They told us that they were really happy because we stopped the OPM attack in their agency,” Prisco said.

The malicious operation tries to open up ports to the Internet, so it can excise information, Prisco said.

“It’s doing exploration work laterally throughout the network and then it’s looking for a way to communicate what it finds back to its server,” he added.

Homeland Security officials on Monday would not confirm or deny the situation at the National Archives. DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee referred to the department’s earlier statement about the OPM hack: “DHS has shared information regarding the potential incident with all federal chief information officers to ensure that all agencies have the knowledge they need to defend against this cybersecurity incident.”

The assault on OPM represents the seventh raid on national security-sensitive or federal personnel information over the past year.

Well-funded hackers penetrated systems at the State Department, the White House, U.S. Postal Service and, previously in March 2014, OPM. Intruders also broke into networks twice at KeyPoint Government Solutions, an OPM background check provider, and once at USIS, which conducted most of OPM’s employee investigations until last summer.

On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the OPM incident that, among other things, will examine the possibility that hackers got into the agency’s systems by using details taken from the contractors.

Sandy on June 24th, 2015

Fold3 has new content to offer family historians who have New York ancestors as follows:

Do you have New York ancestors? If so, take some time to explore Fold3’s new collection of New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts.

Like its title suggests, this collection, from microfilm at the New York State Archives, is made up of abstracts compiled from original muster rolls for New York volunteer units (mostly infantry but also some cavalry, artillery, engineers, and USCT) from the Civil War. In addition to information on individual soldiers, the collection also may contain regiment information—including lists of officers—and the occasional unit history. The information in the collection is organized by regiment, then soldier surname.

Information on the abstract forms may include the soldier’s name, date of enlistment, age, place of enlistment, grade, company, regiment, reason for leaving, promotions, participation in engagements, wounds, and physical appearance. Miscellaneous documents related to the soldier’s service are also occasionally included with their abstract, such as enlistment papers,certificates of dischargereversals of desertion chargesgrade adjustmentsname clarificationsmustering out notifications, and many others.

Let’s take a look at an example of one of the muster roll abstracts and see what we can learn:

From Andrew Langmade’s abstract we see that he was born in Yorkshire, New York, on 24 May 1848 to parents William and Laura. A farmer by trade, on 12 December 1861, at age 21, Langmade enlisted at Yorkshire for a period of three years. He was mustered in on either 26 or 29 March 1862 as a sergeant in Company K of the 105th Infantry. He served in the battles of Antietam and Second Bull Run and was promoted in either October or December of 1862. In March 1863, he was transferred to Company K of the 94th NY Infantry. He was taken prisoner at Gettysburg in July 1863 but wasn’t paroled until August 1864. He was finally discharged 26 April 1865.

You can find all sorts of fascinating details in the New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, such as that Urbane Lyon played in a brigade band, that Alexander Klaucke enlisted under an assumed name, that George Dore was awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing a Confederate flag, or that Robert McLaughlinwas held as a prisoner of war at the infamous Andersonville Prison.

Want to begin looking for your New York Civil War ancestors? Get started searching or browsing the New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts here.

Sandy on June 22nd, 2015

The list of history’s Hot 100 for 2015 results arose from voting by readers of History Extra conducted over a six week period. The readers and historians were asked to nominate the historical figures in whom they are currently most interested. An intriguing  caveat was that the individuals  nominated had to have died before January 1, 1985. Based on the historical figures I personally find most fascinating, the top 100 was surprising. Perhaps you will have the same reaction. Click on the link below to take you to the site:

History Hot 100 2015

waterlooThe 200 anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo was celebrated this week and History Extra has once again come through with an interesting article in question and answer format. I remember singing a song as a child about Waterloo which was one of the world’s most famous battles.  It ended the Napoleonic Wars and led to Napoleon Bonaparte’s abdication followed by decades of international peace in Europe.

In  their new book, The Battle of Waterloo Experience, historians and journalists Peter and Dan Snow tell the story of the battle of Waterloo – one of history’s most dramatic military encounters. If you are interested in purchasing the book, I’ll provide the like as soon as it becomes available in the United States.

The authors answer 10 key questions as follows:

” Q1: Why does waterloo matter?

A: Waterloo was the battle that finally and decisively ended the ambition of the French Emperor Napoleon to dominate Europe and shaped the continent during a hundred years of relative peace until 1914. It brought to an end a terrible war that had raged on and off for more than 20 years.

France had decisively lost the struggle for global mastery, and a victorious Britain went on to build the largest empire the world has ever seen.

Q2: What caused the battle?  

A: In early 1815 Britain and her allies – Austria, Prussia and Russia – thought Napoleon was finished: he had been defeated and forced to abdicate a year earlier. But he bounced back from exile in February 1815 and astonished the allies by advancing fast toward Brussels, in Belgium.

 Q3: Who were the protagonists on either side?

A: The overall commanders at Waterloo were two of the greatest generals of all time. Britain’s Duke of Wellington had never lost a battle in 12 years of war. Napoleon Bonaparte had in his time crushed every army in Europe except Britain’s.

 Q4: Was the duke’s army all British? 

A: Only a third of Wellington’s army was British. Most were from the German states with some units from the Netherlands.

 Q5: Who were the men and how were they treated?

A: British soldiers got paid about £20 GBP ($31.73 USD) a year but only saw about half that. They were fed a pound of beef a day, and a pound-and-a-half of bread. They got a daily ration of a pint of wine or a third of a pint of gin or rum. The average age that we can calculate was around 27 – the youngest soldiers were 17; the oldest were 44.

Q6: What sort of battle was it? 

A: The battle was one of the last great contests fought at close quarters. The main weapon in both armies was still the musket. It had an effective range of little more than 50 yards.

 Q7: How did Napoleon perform?

A: Napoleon was a shadow of his former self at Waterloo. He was not in good health, and his leadership was poor.

Q8: Was Napoleon short?

A: No. He was in fact 170cm or 5’7″, which was the average height for a male at the time.

 Q9: Should we regard Waterloo as a great British victory?  

A: Waterloo was not just a British victory. The Duke of Wellington would have been hard pressed to win without the timely assault of Marshal Blucher’s Prussians on Napoleon’s right flank. Besides, two thirds of his own army was made up of allies from the rest of Europe.

 Q10: How many casualties were there?

A: It was a bloody battle. A veteran eyewitness said he had never seen “carcasses so heaped upon each other”. Some units lost two thirds of their men.

Overall, the British lost 17,000 who were reported killed, wounded or missing – around a quarter of the army. Napoleon may have lost as much as a third of his men.

Sandy on June 15th, 2015

John_Signs_the_Great_CharterThe 800 year old Magna Carta is the foundation of our U.S. legal system and has been quoted recently by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

On June 15, 1215,following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule, King John put his royal seal on the Magna Carta, or “Great Charter.” The document, essentially a peace treaty between John and his barons, guaranteed that the king would respect feudal rights and privileges, uphold the freedom of the church, and maintain the nation’s laws. Although more a reactionary than a progressive document in its day, the Magna Carta was seen as a cornerstone in the development of democratic England by later generations.

John was enthroned as king of England following the death of his brother, King Richard the Lion-Hearted, in 1199. King John’s reign was characterized by failure. He lost the duchy of Normandy to the French king and taxed the English nobility heavily to pay for his foreign misadventures. He quarreled with Pope Innocent III and sold church offices to build up the depleted royal coffers. Following the defeat of a campaign to regain Normandy in 1214, Stephen Langton, the archbishop of Canterbury, called on the disgruntled barons to demand a charter of liberties from the king.

In 1215, the barons rose up in rebellion against the king’s abuse of feudal law and custom. John, faced with a superior force, had no choice but to give in to their demands. Earlier kings of England had granted concessions to their feudal barons, but these charters were vaguely worded and issued voluntarily. The document drawn up for John in June 1215, however, forced the king to make specific guarantees of the rights and privileges of his barons and the freedom of the church. On June 15, 1215, John met the barons at Runnymede on the Thames and set his seal to the Articles of the Barons, which after minor revision was formally issued as the Magna Carta.

The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses and dealt mainly with feudal concerns that had little impact outside 13th century England. However, the document was remarkable in that it implied there were laws the king was bound to observe, thus precluding any future claim to absolutism by the English monarch. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, which stated that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” This clause has been celebrated as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus and inspired England’s Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

In immediate terms, the Magna Carta was a failure–civil war broke out the same year, and John ignored his obligations under the charter. Upon his death in 1216, however, the Magna Carta was reissued with some changes by his son, King Henry III, and then reissued again in 1217. That year, the rebellious barons were defeated by the king’s forces. In 1225, Henry III voluntarily reissued the Magna Carta a third time, and it formally entered English statute law.

The Magna Carta has been subject to a great deal of historical exaggeration; it did not establish Parliament, as some have claimed, nor more than vaguely allude to the liberal democratic ideals of later centuries. However, as a symbol of the sovereignty of the rule of law, it was of fundamental importance to the constitutional development of England. Four original copies of the Magna Carta of 1215 exist today: one in Lincoln Cathedral, one in Salisbury Cathedral, and two in the British Museum.

Dale-Earnhardt-JrI couldn’t pass up this article featured in USA TODAY featuring NASCAR’s most popular driver of the number 88 car. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is excited about planning a trip to Germany to explore his roots:

CONCORD, N.C. — On Monday, after competing in this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will embark on a treasure hunt.

Earnhardt will fly to Germany in hopes of tracing his family’s lineage, which dates to more than three centuries ago there. It will be the driver’s first visit to Europe other than a 24-hour stay in Monaco to shoot a Jay-Z video in 2006.

“I’ve got some specific areas narrowed down I want to go see and some buildings I want to go see that I know my family was somewhat connected to,” Earnhardt told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday during an appearance for Amp Energy. “They left Germany in 1744, so all this stuff we’re going to see or get close to is more than 300 years old.”

Amy Reimann, Earnhardt’s girlfriend, will join the trip along with his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and brother-in-law L.W. Miller. They’ll be guided by German native Martin Friedrich, who is in charge of information technology at JR Motorsports.

“I’m excited,” Earnhardt said. “My sister is super nervous. She doesn’t leave the house for that long of time without her kids, so she’s super nervous. So I want to make sure she has a good time, and Martin is going to make sure we’re enjoying ourselves and not insulting anybody or driving on the wrong side of the road.”

Genealogy has been an ongoing hobby for Earnhardt, who became passionate about researching his family history in 2012. He located the gravesites of ancestors in North Carolina — relatives who were born as far back as 1809.

But to go further up the family tree, Earnhardt realized he’d have to travel overseas. The Earnhardt name — though pronounced differently (“Eh-ren-heart”) and spelled various ways — has been found handwritten in German books and bibles.

The ‘d’ in Earnhardt was added when the family arrived in the United States, he said.

Earnhardt consulted a North Carolina genealogist to confirm some of his findings “so I don’t go to Germany for no reason, or I’m standing in the wrong area or talking to the wrong people,” he said with a chuckle.

The driver enjoys the process more than anything. When he plays video games, for example, it’s not the actual game or race he likes as much as building a team from scratch.

“I like to manage,” he said. “That’s sort of a game, building your genealogy. Having to think and manage and remember and trace back all that stuff. It’s fun. Really enjoyable.


Sandy on June 13th, 2015

The huge rise in popularity of curry among all social classes has seen it emerge as Scotland’s other national dish. Surprisingly new evidence shows that it was being enjoyed by the wealthy elite over 200 years ago, as curry powder was being sold by an Edinburgh grocer in 1798.

The grocer, John Caird, informed customers through the Edinburgh Evening Courant that he “has just received a parcel of REAL INDIA CURRY POWDER in the original package.” It was selling at 2/6d (two shillings and sixpence a canister–12 pennies =one shilling).

This is just one of the fascinating revelations about Scotland’s changing relationship with food over four centuries uncovered in a free exhibition opening today at the National Library of Scotland. A 16th century recipe for marmalade, by the Countess of Sutherland, is also on show at the National Library of Scotland (NLS) for the first time.

Lifting the Lid: 400 years of food and drink in Scotland is being staged during Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink. It will help visitors understand more of how their ancestors lived and how their diet links to what we eat today.

The main ingredients for the exhibition come from the rare collection of recipe books, dating from the 17th century to the 1940s, that are held at the National Library. These were mostly written by female members of wealthy families as memory aids to record favorite dishes and new culinary experiences rather than the everyday meals that would be served. They are supported by other striking information in published recipe books, household accounts and inventories, tradesmen’s bills, menus, visitors’ journals, maps and amateur and government films about food.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see what is thought to be Scotland’s first ever recipe book – John Reid’s The Scots Gard’ner – which was published in 1683. Although principally a book for food growers, it also includes tips for cooks on preparing meals.

The exhibition tells of old Scottish measures such as a chopin (two pints), a mutchkin (just under a pint), a peck (two gallons) and a forpet or lippie (half a gallon).While some foods such as Cullen skink, crannachan and clootie dumpling have lived on, others like powsowdie (a sheep heid’s broth), crappit heids (haddock heads and livers) and cruddy butter (a type of cheese) have all but disappeared in the mists of time.

“The written records we have are mostly for the wealthy,” said curator Olive Geddes, “but the exhibition also looks at the role of the cook from the ordinary housewife and domestic servant to the professional chef. The social and economic significance of food will also feature. How far has social convention dictated what was eaten by whom and when?

Source:  Herald Scotland

Sandy on June 12th, 2015
Woodcut showing a man being de-loused

Woodcut showing a man being de-loused

Once again, History Extra has come through with a great article worthy of sharing. It’s a terrific site. See below:

From microwaves to dishwashers, today we enjoy a multitude of modern conveniences. Spare a thought, then, for the medieval housewife. How did she cook? Where did she shop? Where did her clothes come from?

Here, writing for History Extra, Toni Mount, author of The Medieval Housewife and Other Women of the Middle Ages, reveals what life was like for a typical housewife in the Middle Ages.

“A woman’s work is never done!” as my mother used to say in the 1960s, when she cared for our family of five and assorted pets, while working as a school dinner lady. Yet this claim was expressed centuries earlier when the Tudor writer and poet Thomas Tusser wrote in his A Hundreth Good Pointes of Husbandrie in 1557:

Some respite to husbands the weather may send,
But housewives’ affairs have never an end.

We can only imagine the drudgery of struggling to do the washing, cooking and cleaning when every task had to be done from scratch – before the linen could be washed, the housewife had to make the lye (the medieval equivalent of detergent) to soak it in, and before dinner could be cooked, the fire had to be lit. The medieval housewife also had to churn butter, brew ale and tend livestock, as well as spin and weave cloth to make clothes for the family.

These tasks had been carried out by housewives for centuries, but how do we know this, Read the rest of this entry »

Another great resource. The following write-up was posted on the Library and Archives of Canada blog on June 10, 2015. You just need to follow the commonsense rules:

It used to be that the only way of getting copies of archival documents was a bit of a tedious process. Flagging the pages you wanted copied, filling out the form, handing in the information to the Consultation staff, and then waiting the 30 business days for the copies to be made. If you were not someone who was from the Ottawa-Gatineau area, you would then have to wait for the copies to be mailed out to you. If you were in the National Capital Region, but not a regular visitor, you might have to make a special trip to 395 Wellington Street to pick up your copies. Now the process can be much quicker if you choose. If you have a camera or a smartphone, you can now take digital images of our collection, rights and restrictions permitting. Once you have the material you wish to copy, simply check in with the Consultation staff, who will provide you with a quick form to fill out. You will need to provide the full reference number for the box or volume, along with your user card number and your name. The staff will verify restrictions of the documents and provide you with a green copy of the approved form. Here are some of the key points to remember about what is required from a technical standpoint of your camera or smartphone.

  • You must have a wrist strap, neck strap or tripod.
  • No flash can be used.
  • Photos cannot be taken before permission is given.
  • Your green permission slip must be visible at all times.
  • You can request a weight or book wedges to help you photograph larger items instead of forcing the items open.

There are also a few tripods available with either a camera mount or a smartphone mount, but they are loaned out on a first-come, first-served basis. You can see the Consultation staff for these as well. If you cannot come in during service hours and still wish to take photos, you can either fax in your filled out form (613-992-5921) or scan and email it to the following address: consultationtext@bac-lac.gc.ca, indicating your date of visit and which lockers have been assigned to you. You can get a copy of the form in person during service hours or by contacting the Consultation staff at the above mentioned email address. This service is also available in Genealogy and Reference Services during their service hours.

Sandy on June 10th, 2015

Benjamin-FranklinOn June 10, 1752, one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, flew a kite during a thunderstorm and collected a charge in a Leyden jar when the kite was struck by lightning, enabling him to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning.

This amazing man’s interest in electricity began in the mid-1740s, a time when much was still unknown on the topic, and spent almost a decade conducting electrical experiments. He coined a number of terms used today, such as, battery, conductor and electrician. He also invented the lightning rod, used to protect buildings and ships.

He was born on January 17, 1706, in Boston, to a candle and soap maker named Josiah Franklin, who fathered 17 children, and his wife Abiah Folger. Franklin’s formal education ended at age 10 and he went to work as an apprentice to his brother James, a printer. In 1723, following a dispute with his brother, Franklin left Boston and ended up in Philadelphia, where he found work as a printer. Following a brief stint as a printer in London, Franklin returned to Philadelphia and became a successful businessman, whose publishing ventures included the Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanack, a collection of homespun proverbs advocating hard work and honesty in order to get ahead.

The almanac, which Franklin first published in 1733 under the pen name Richard Saunders, included such wisdom as: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Whether or not Franklin followed this advice in his own life, he came to represent the classic American overachiever. In addition to his accomplishments in business and science, he is noted for his numerous civic contributions. Among other things, he developed a library, insurance company, city hospital and academy in Philadelphia that would later become the University of Pennsylvania.

Most significantly, Franklin was one of the founding fathers of the United States and had a career as a statesman that spanned four decades. He served as a legislator in Pennsylvania as well as a diplomat in England and France. He is the only politician to have signed all four documents fundamental to the creation of the U.S.: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783), which established peace with Great Britain, and the U.S. Constitution (1787).

Benjamin Franklin died at age 84 on April 17, 1790, in Philadelphia. He remains one of the leading figures in U.S. history.

Couldn’t resist this one. What a victory!! Who’s a good boy?

Sandy on June 5th, 2015

donutsOn the first Friday of June each year, National Doughnut Day is celebrated by the Salvation Army who created it in 1938 to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.

Many doughnut stores in the United States offer free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day. In 2009, small doughnut vendors as well as large national franchises offered free doughnuts in the United States.

It all started in 1938 as a fund raiser for the Chicago Salvation Army. The focus was to help the needy during the Great Depression, and to honor the Salvation Army women of World War I, who served doughnuts to soldiers.

Shortly after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, “the Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that “huts” that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service, would serve the needs of US enlisted men. Six staff members per hut should include four female volunteers who could “mother” the boys. (The canteens/social centers that were established by the Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers were called “huts”.)”

About 250 volunteers went to France and because of  difficult logistics in providing freshly baked goods from huts that were established in abandoned buildings near the front lines and two brilliant Salvation Army volunteers hatched the idea of providing doughnuts.

The doughnuts were an instant success and soon many soldiers were visiting the Salvation Army huts. It is said that the origin of the term “doughboy” was created by the provision of doughnuts to US enlisted men in World War I. It is likely that the term was resurrected and became better known because it was used as early as the Mexican-American War of 1846-47.

The Salvation Army still uses National Doughnut Day as a fundraiser.

Sandy on June 4th, 2015

Lascars-2The family history web site Findmypast is a great resource for researchers as the following recent addition to its database clearly illustrates:

Last week’s Findmypast Friday marked the release of over 157,000 additional England & Wales Merchant Navy Crew, Lists 1861-1913. Consisting of crew lists and agreements taken from British Merchant vessels, these new additions contain the details of individuals from some of Britain’s earliest Asian communities and one of the most overlooked groups in British maritime history, the Lascars.

Lascars were sailors and militiamen from the Indian subcontinent who served on board British ships between the 16th and 20th centuries. The history of Lascars in Britain’s Merchant Navy can be traced back to the early days of the East India Company.

Despite long and hazardous voyages, the Company transported millions of tons of valuable goods such as tea, sugar, coffee, silk, cotton, spices and porcelain each year. Conditions were harsh, sickness common, and death rates were fairly high. Many sailors died at sea and many more chose to desert once they arrived in India, frequently leaving ships under-manned for their return voyage. The Company needed men to replace these sailors, and Lascars were employed in their stead.

Lascars and the East India Company Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on June 4th, 2015

The following press release comes from WikiTree. I urge you to visit this free site and learn what they have to offer. They keep it simple and, depending on your needs, you are likely to find relevant information.


June 3, 2015 Contact: Eowyn Langholf, ​eowyn@wikitree.com 3 June 2015​:

This week the WikiTree community reached a major milestone: 10 million profiles on our shared family tree. Since its founding in 2008, WikiTree has grown steadily but carefully. Although the community’s mission is to connect the entire human family on one tree ­­ ultimately including billions of people ­­ WikiTree prioritizes collaboration​and accuracy​. Over 200,000 genealogists​have added profiles to WikiTree. Many of them share ancestors. Rather than create duplicate ancestor profiles, they work together on the same profiles. When duplicates are created accidentally, they’re merged. WikiTree’s most recent enhancements for accuracy center on the integration of DNA testing. More than 15,000 members have taken DNA tests for genealogy and are using WikiTree’s DNA features to confirm or reject genealogical connections. The ultimate goal is to use DNA to confirm each connection on our shared family tree. Members are already marking certain family tree connections at “Confirmed with DNA” and DNA­ confirmed indicators have started appearing in family trees and in WikiTree’s Relationship Finder, the tool that shows the connection between any two people. About WikiTree WikiTree: The Free Family Tree has been growing since 2008. Community members privately collaborate with close family members on modern family history and publicly collaborate with other genealogists on deep ancestry. Since all the private and public profiles are connected on the same system this process is helping to grow a single, worldwide family tree that will eventually connect us all and thereby make it free and easy for anyone to discover their roots. See http://www.WikiTree.com

The following April 2015 news release comes from ancestry.com regarding their new resource that will feature high-quality video courses spanning a variety of family history topics; Expert guidance to help both experts and novices:

Ancestry, the world’s leading family history service, has launched Ancestry Academy, a new educational resource that offers high-quality video instruction from family history and genealogy experts. Covering a wide range of topics of interest in family history research, including Native American ancestry, online US census research, and DNA testing, this new educational content will help anyone, no matter their knowledge, better research and understand their family’s unique history.

“Whether you are just beginning your family history research or an expert genealogist, nearly anyone can learn something new from the terrific lineup of expert instructors featured on Ancestry Academy,” said Laura Prescott, Director of Ancestry Academy. “Our goal is to deliver the best online video instruction library of family history courses to as many people as possible to provide an educational and rewarding experience while researching their family history.”

Ancestry Academy courses are divided into smaller lessons enabling self-paced learning, and an easy to use navigation helps members identify topics within a course simply. There is also an opportunity to evaluate your proficiency on a subject through optional tests available after completion of a course.

“Ancestry Academy is a natural next step in our effort to provide the best in education and resources for people interested in researching their family history,” said Brian Hansen, Vice President of Emerging Businesses at Ancestry. “This new resource, combined with the Ancestry Learning Center and other educational content on Ancestry.com, will provide quality family history education to help every person discover, preserve and share their family history.”

While premium courses will help educate on some of the more popular how-to conversations in family history research, other courses on Ancestry products and websites will also be available free of charge for anyone with a registered account to Ancestry.com. Currently, there are 15 courses available on Ancestry Academy, with plans for new courses to be added each month on an ongoing basis. Unlimited access to all Ancestry Academy courses is available for  $11.99 a month, $99.99 a year, or as part of the Ancestry World Explorer Plus subscription.

To learn more about Ancestry Academy, visit www.ancestryacademy.com.

Sandy on June 1st, 2015

emeliaAccording to Discovery News, the search for Amelia Earhart’s long lost aircraft will resume this month in the waters off Nikumaroro, an uninhabited South Pacific atoll in the republic of Kiribati, where the legendary pilot might have died as a castaway.

Called Niku VIII, the expedition will be carried out by a 14-person team of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating Earhart’s disappearance.

“The team will fly to Fiji and begin the five-day, thousand mile voyage to Nikumaroro on June 8. We anticipate two weeks of search operations — June 13 to June 26 — before sailing back to Fiji,” Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, said in a statement.

TIGHAR will return to Los Angeles on July 1 – one day before the 78th anniversary of Earhart’s last, fateful flight on July 2, 1937.

The tall, slender, blond pilot mysteriously vanished while flying over the Pacific Ocean during a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

The general consensus has been that the twin-engined Lockheed Electra had run out of fuel and crashed in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere near Howland Island, Earhart’s target destination.

But TIGHAR researchers believe Amelia suffered a different fate.

The group is testing the hypothesis that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan made a forced landing on the smooth, flat coral reef at the western end of Nikumaroro, at the time called Gardner Island.

There, they sent radio distress calls for nearly a week before the plane was washed into the ocean. Gillespie believes they might have survived as castaways for weeks.

The hunt for the plane wreckage is supported by new research which suggest that a piece of aircraft debris recovered in 1991 from Nikumaro is, with a high degree of certainty, the first physical evidence of Earhart’s plane.

The 19-inch by 23-inch piece of aluminum was identified as the patch installed to replace a window on Earhart’s Lockheed Electra aircraft during eight-day stay in Miami, which was the fourth stop on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

“The preponderance of the evidence indicates that battered hunk of aluminum is a true Amelia Earhart artifact,” Gillespie told Discovery News.

To search the wreckage TIGHAR will rely on a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) equipped with high-definition video and scanning sonar run by Advanced Remote Marine Services of Katy, Texas.

Operating on the west end of the atoll, the ROV will examine an “anomaly” that emerged from analysis of the sonar imagery captured off Nikumaroro during TIGHAR’s last expedition in 2012.

A straight, unbroken feature uncannily consistent with the fuselage of a Lockheed Electra, the anomaly rests at a depth of 600 feet at the base of a cliff just offshore where, according to TIGHAR, the Electra was washed into the ocean.

The same area is shown in a grainy photograph taken by British Colonial Service officer Eric Bevington three months after Amelia’s disappearance. The picture appears to show the wreckage of one of the aircraft’s main land gear assemblies on the reef edge.

During the two-week search, divers will also look for aircraft debris at shallower depths.

Meanwhile, an onshore search team will seek to identify any sign of a possible initial survival campsite established by Earhart and Noonan while the plane was still on the reef.

“The campsite, if there was one, should have been in an area closest to the plane that provided good shade and was reasonably accessible. Useful objects from the plane may have been brought ashore and left behind when Earhart and/or Noonan moved on after the plane was lost to the sea,” Gillespie said.

He noted that such part of the atoll was never cleared or developed when the island was later inhabited.

“This leaves us with a good chance that objects might have survived undisturbed,” Gillespie said.

His team had previously found a castaway encampment on the south-east end of the atoll in an area called the Seven Site that may have been used by Earhart and/or Noonan after their plane was washed away.

Gillespie believes Earhart died there, her body largely consumed by the site’s numerous hermit and coconut crabs. All was left were 13 bones, a few artifacts, and the remains of her cooking fires.

Bits of physical evidence also included a small cosmetic jar appearing to be as one holding Dr.Berry’s Freckle Ointment, a concoction once used to fade freckles (Earhart disliked having them).

The Seven Site is indeed where a partial skeleton was found in 1940 but subsequently lost. The bones were reported to belong to an individual “more likely female than male,” “more likely white than Polynesian or other Pacific Islander,” and “most likely between 5 feet, 5 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches in height.”

 “Twenty-seven years of research, including ten archaeological expeditions to the island, have produced a preponderance of archival, photographic, analytical, and artifact evidence suggesting that our hypothesis is correct,” Gillespie said.

But he admitted that a “smoking gun” object, if it still exists, may or may not “be discoverable with the assets we can bring to bear.”

“This expedition is nothing more, and nothing less, than an attempt to build on the preponderance of evidence that has already established Nikumaroro as the most likely answer to the Earhart riddle,” Gillespie said.

Preparation for the new expedition comes with good news for TIGHAR, as a lawsuit linked to the Earhart search was dismissed.

Filed by Timothy Mellon, the son of philanthropist Paul Mellon and a major donor to TIGHAR’s 2012 expedition, it alleged that the Delaware aircraft preservationist group found the Electra wreck in 2010 but hid the discovery to raise money for future expeditions.

“The court firmly dismissed Mellon’s charges. Finally, one of the most bizarre episodes in the Earhart saga appears to have come to an end,” Gillespie said.

The new expedition, TIGHAR’s eleventh to Nikumaroro, is expected to cost around $500,000. Funding has been raised through charitable contributions from TIGHAR members, corporations, foundations, and from the general public via Facebook.

Discovery News will follow the expedition with daily updates.”


CuneiformThe following information was published on Historyextra.com. Please visit the site to learn more. It’s fascinating.

“Distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, cuneiform script is the oldest form of writing in the world, first appearing even earlier than Egyptian hieroglyphics

Now, the curators of the world’s largest collection of cuneiform tablets – housed at the British Museum – have written a book exploring the history of cuneiform. In it, they reveal why the writing system is as relevant today as ever.

Here, Irving Finkel and Jonathan Taylor share six lesser-known facts about cuneiform…

 1) Cuneiform is not a language

The cuneiform writing system is also not an alphabet, and it doesn’t have letters. Instead it used between 600 and 1,000 characters to write words (or parts of them) or syllables (or parts of them).

The two main languages written in Cuneiform are Sumerian and Akkadian (from ancient Iraq), although more than a dozen others are recorded. This means we could use it equally well today to spell Chinese, Hungarian or English.

 2) Cuneiform was first used in around 3,400 BC

The first stage used elementary pictures that were soon also used to record sounds. Cuneiform probably preceded Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, because we know of early Mesopotamian experiments and ‘dead-ends’ as the established script developed – including the beginning of signs and numbers – whereas the hieroglyphic system seems to have been born more or less perfectly formed and ready to go. Almost certainly Egyptian writing evolved from cuneiform – it can’t have been an on-the-spot invention.

Amazingly, cuneiform continued to be used until the first century AD, meaning that the distance in time that separates us from the latest surviving cuneiform tablet is only just over half of that which separates that tablet from the first cuneiform.

 3) All you needed to write cuneiform was a reed and some clay

Both of which were freely available in the rivers alongside the Mesopotamian cities where cuneiform was used (now Iraq and eastern Syria). The word cuneiform comes from Latin cuneus, meaning ‘wedge’, and simply means ‘wedge shaped’. It refers to the shape made each time a scribe pressed his stylus (made from a specially cut reed) into the clay.

Most tablets would fit comfortably in the palm of a hand – like mobile phones today – and were used for only a short time: maybe a few hours or days at school, or a few years for a letter, loan or account. Many of the tablets have survived purely by accident.

4) Cuneiform looks somewhat impossible…

Those who read cuneiform for a living – and there are a few – like to think of it as the world’s most difficult writing (or the most inconvenient). However, if you have six years to spare and work round the clock (not pausing for meals) it’s a doddle to master! All you have to do is learn the extinct languages recorded by the tablets, then thousands of signs – many of which have more than one meaning or sound.

5) … but children master it surprisingly quickly

Children who visit the British Museum seem to take to cuneiform with a kind of overlooked homing instinct, and they often consider clay homework in spikey wedges much more exciting than exercises in biro on paper.

In fact, many of the surviving tablets in the museum collection belonged to schoolchildren, and show the spelling and handwriting exercises that they completed: they repeated the same characters, then words, then proverbs, over and over again until they could move on to difficult literature.

 6) Cuneiform is as relevant today as ever

Ancient writings offer proof that our ‘modern’ ideas and problems have been experienced by human beings for thousands of years – this is always an astounding realisation. Through cuneiform we hear the voices not just of kings and their scribes, but children, bankers, merchants, priests and healers – women as well as men.
It is utterly fascinating to read other people’s letters, especially when they are 4,000 years old and written in such elegant and delicate script.

Irving Finkel and Jonathan Taylor are the authors of Cuneiform (British Museum Press, March 2015). To find out more, click here.

To learn more about the world’s largest collection of cuneiform tablets, which contains more than 130,000 examples of cuneiform writing, click here.”


Sandy on May 23rd, 2015

Sandy on May 22nd, 2015

Great-EmigrationOn May 22, 1843, a massive wagon train, made up of 1,000 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle, set off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri. It was known as the “Great Emigration,” and the expedition came two years after the first small party of settlers made the long, overland journey to Oregon.

After leaving Independence, the giant wagon train followed the Sante Fe Trail for some 40 miles and then turned northwest to the Platte River, which it followed along its northern route to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. From there, it traveled on to the Rocky Mountains, which it passed through by way of the broad, level South Pass that led to the basin of the Colorado River. The travelers then went southwest to Fort Bridger, northwest across a divide to Fort Hall on the Snake River, and on to Fort Boise, where they gained supplies for the difficult journey over the Blue Mountains and into Oregon. The Great Emigration finally arrived in October, completing the 2,000-mile journey from Independence in five months.

In the next year, four more wagon trains made the journey, and in 1845 the number of emigrants who used the Oregon Trail exceeded 3,000. Travel along the trail gradually declined with the advent of the railroads, and the route was finally abandoned in the 1870s.

As of Friday, May 15, 2015, Findmypast has 2.5 million Irish records available from Dublin Workhouses and more as follows:

“This Friday sees the release of over 2.5 million Irish records from the Dublin Workhouses. This fascinating collection sheds light on the (often hard to trace) poorest members of the population at one of toughest points in their country’s history. We’ve also released over two million newspaper articles, Nottingham baptisms and burials, and Australian Northern Territory Birth, Marriage and Death records.

Dublin Workhouses Admission & Discharge Registers 1840-1919

Containing over 1.5 million records, the Dublin Workhouses Admission & Discharge Registers 1840-1919 list the details of those who passed through the workhouses of the North and South Dublin Unions. Levels of poverty in Ireland were far higher than in England and the workhouse was an inescapable part of life for many Dublin families.

Each record includes a transcript and an image of the original document. Entries list arrivals at the workhouse with details of their age, occupation, religion, any illnesses or infirmities, other family members, original parish and condition when they arrived (usually describing clothes or cleanliness).

Dublin Poor Law Unions Board of Guardians Minute Books

Containing nearly 900,000 records, the Dublin Poor Law Unions Board of Guardians Minute Books from the National Archives of Ireland contain fascinating records of meetings held by the Board of Guardians of four Dublin workhouses.

Each record contains a transcript and an image of the original handwritten minutes. The amount of information contained in the image can be considerable, including correspondence and contracts but also individual cases that came before the Board.

Dublin Poor Law Unions Board of Guardians Minute Books Browse

Thanks to Findmypast’s partnership with The National Archives of Ireland, it is now possible to browse through pages of Board of Guardians Minute Books from four Dublin Workhouses; the North Dublin Union, the South Dublin Union, Rathdown Workhouse and Balrothery Workhouse.

British newspapers

Over 2,285,544 million new articles have been added to Findmypast’s collection of historic British newspapers. The latest additions include 11 brand new titles, and updates to existing titles include over 109,000 new articles from the Newcastle Journal and over 92,000 Birmingham Daily Gazette articles.

The total collection now stands at 124,529,375 articles from 338 different titles covering 245 years of British history (1710-1955).

Nottinghamshire baptisms

Over 5000 records have been added to our collection of Nottinghamshire baptisms. The records cover the years between 1538 and 1980, and the total collection now includes over 852,000 records.

Records can include the child’s name, religious denomination, church, baptism date, residence, parent’s names and father’s occupation.

Nottinghamshire burials

Over 14,000 burial records have been added to our collection of Nottinghamshire parish records, bringing the total Nottinghamshire burials to over 254,000 records.

The amount of information in each record varies, though many will include a combination of the deceased’s name, religious denomination, age at death, burial date, burial place, and any additional notes.                       

Northern Territory Birth Index 1870-1918

The Northern Territory Birth Index 1870-1918 comprises approximately 1,780 entries from an index of births registered in the Northern Territory, Australia, between 1870 and 1918.

Each record includes a transcript listing the child’s name, date of birth, parent’s names and registration details, and many include additional details.

Northern Territory Marriage Index 1870-1913

The Northern Territory Marriage Index 1870-1913 records comprise approximately 710 entries from an index of marriages registered in the Northern Territory, Australia, between 1870 and 1913.

Each record includes a transcript of the original source material. The amount of information listed varies, but most records will include the couple’s full names, their year of marriage, place of marriage and registration details.

Northern Territory Death Index 1870-1913

The Northern Territory Death Index 1870-1913 records comprise approximately 3,200 entries from an index of deaths registered in the Northern Territory, Australia, between 1870 and 1913.

Each record includes a transcript that lists the deceased’s name, date of birth, date of death, residence, registration details and place of death. The level of detail listed regarding the place of death varies. Some only specify the region, while others record particular camps, hospitals and even telegraph stations.”

The following sad news comes from the Associated Press:

“LAS VEGAS (AP) — B.B. King, whose scorching guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname King of the Blues, died late Thursday at home in Las Vegas. He was 89.

His attorney, Brent Bryson, told The Associated Press that King died peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 p.m. PDT. He said funeral arrangements were underway.

Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg confirmed the death.

King’s eldest surviving daughter Shirley King of the Chicago area said she was upset that she didn’t have a chance to see her father before he died.

Although he had continued to perform well into his 80s, the 15-time Grammy winner suffered from diabetes and had been in declining health during the past year. He collapsed during a concert in Chicago last October, later blaming dehydration and exhaustion. He had been in hospice care at his Las Vegas home.

For most of a career spanning nearly 70 years, Riley B. King was not only the undisputed king of the blues but a mentor to scores of guitarists, who included Eric Clapton, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall and Keith Richards. He recorded more than 50 albums and toured the world well into his 80s, often performing 250 or more concerts a year.

King played a Gibson guitar he affectionately called Lucille with a style that included beautifully crafted single-string runs punctuated by loud chords, subtle vibratos and bent notes.

The result could bring chills to an audience, no more so than when King used it to full effect on his signature song, “The Thrill is Gone.” He would make his guitar shout and cry in anguish as he told the tale of forsaken love, then end with a guttural shouting of the final lines: “Now that it’s all over, all I can do is wish you well.”

His style was unusual. King didn’t like to sing and play at the same time, so he developed a call-and-response between him and Lucille.

“Sometimes I just think that there are more things to be said, to make the audience understand what I’m trying to do more,” King told The Associated Press in 2006. “When I’m singing, I don’t want you to just hear the melody. I want you to relive the story, because most of the songs have pretty good storytelling.”

A preacher uncle taught him to play, and he honed his technique in abject poverty in the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the blues.”

national-library-of-scotlandIf you’re interested in what was going on in the lives of your ancestors during the 19th century tenure of The House of Lords, the Parliamentary Papers will soon be available online at the National Library of Scotland (NLS). This is their first digitized collection of these valuable historical documents and will be produced in partnership with a company called ProQuest .

The NLS announcement is laid out below:

Launching later this year, the project will allow those who are not able to access the documents in their physical form to broaden their research into this resource. Enhancing the growing corpus of historical papers that ProQuest have digitised – including the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers – this new collection will improve research outcomes for scholars of British history, British government, political science, history and more.

The papers encompass wide areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy, providing evidence of committees and commissions during a time when the Lords in the United Kingdom wielded considerable power. Most importantly from a legislative perspective, this collection will include many bills which originated and were subsequently rejected by the Lords – rich indicators of the direction and interests of the Lords that have been largely lost to researchers.

There are very few surviving copies of this important historical collection because of the way the documents were originally printed and stored.

The content has similar indexing and editorial controls to ProQuest’s House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, enabling it to be fully cross-searchable with the new House of Lords Parliamentary Papers (1800-1910). This new content will bring together a complete picture of the workings and influence of the Parliament of the United Kingdom during their pivotal role in 19th Century history.

Dr John Scally, Scotland’s National Librarian, said: ‘More British Prime Ministers served in the Lords in the 19th century than in the House of Commons, despite the progressive dwindling of the influence of the upper chamber. This is a fascinating period in our history and digitisation will make these important papers available on any screen anytime, anywhere.  This partnership with ProQuest is part of our commitment to open up our collections to as many people as possible.’

Susan Bokern, vice president product management at ProQuest, added: ‘The research value of the House of Lords Parliamentary Papers is of international significance. As an addition to ProQuest’s comprehensive and diverse collection of government databases, researchers are even more empowered to analyse global perspectives of key political outcomes of the 19th century and beyond.’

If you’d like to visit the sites, the related links are as follows:  ProQuest , National Library of Scotland

On May 13, 1846, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votedin favor of President James K. Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas.

Under the threat of war, the United States had held back from annexing Texas after the it won independence from Mexico in 1836. But in 1844, President John Tyler restarted negotiations with the Republic of Texas, culminating with a Treaty of Annexation. The treaty was defeated by a wide margin in the Senate because it would upset the slave state/free state balance between North and South and risked war with Mexico, which had broken off relations with the United States. But shortly before leaving office and with the support of President-elect Polk, Tyler managed to get the joint resolution passed on March 1, 1845.Texas was admitted to the union on December 29.

While Mexico didn’t follow through with its threat to declare war, relations between the two nations remained tense over border disputes, and in July 1845, President Polk ordered troops into disputed lands that lay between the Neuces and Rio Grande rivers. In November, Polk sent the diplomat John Slidell to Mexico to seek boundary adjustments in return for the U.S. government’s settlement of the claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico and also to make an offer to purchase California and New Mexico. After the mission failed, the U.S. army under Gen. Zachary Taylor advanced to the mouth of the Rio Grande, the river that the state of Texas claimed as its southern boundary.

Mexico, claiming that the boundary was the Nueces Riverto the northeast of the Rio Grande, considered the advance of Taylor’s army an act of aggression and in April 1846 sent troops across the Rio Grande. Polk, in turn, declared the Mexican advance to be an invasion of U.S. soil, and on May 11, 1846, asked Congress to declare war on Mexico, which it did two days later.

After nearly two years of fighting, peace was established by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848. The Rio Grande was made the southern boundary of Texas, and California and New Mexico were ceded to the United States. In return, the United States paid Mexico the sum of $15 million and agreed to settle all claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico.

I’m a big supporter of our police force throughout the country and believe they should receive great respect and thanks for putting their lives on the line daily.

However, the following news is over the top.  Just in case you are unaware, police management are choosing to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database, which is owned by Ancestry.com.

Please read the following article written by Jay Syrmopoulos published in Mint Press News. You can find more information about Mr Syrmopoulos below.

“Would you find it frightening— perhaps even downright Orwellian — to know that a DNA swab that you sent to a company for recreational purposes would surface years later in the hands of police? What if it caused your child to end up in a police interrogation room as the primary suspect in a murder investigation?

In an extremely troubling case out of Idaho Falls, that’s exactly what happened.

Police investigating the 1996 murder of Angie Dodge targeted the wrong man as the suspect, after looking to Ancestry.com owned Sorensen Database labs for help. The labs look for familial matches between the murderers DNA and DNA submitted for genealogical testing after failing to find a match using traditional methods.

According to The Electronic Frontier Foundation:

The cops chose to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database (now owned by Ancestry.com), which claims it’s “the foremost collection of genetic genealogy data in the world.” The reason the Sorenson Database can make such an audacious claim is because it has obtained its more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented multi-generational family histories from “volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.” Some of these volunteers were encouraged by the Mormon Church—well-known for its interest in genealogy—to provide their genetic material to the database. Sorenson promised volunteers their genetic data would only be used for “genealogical services, including the determination of family migration patterns and geographic origins” and would not be shared outside Sorenson.

It’s consent form states: Read the rest of this entry »

ve-day1On  May 8, 1945, seventy years ago, both Great Britain and the United States celebrated Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi Germany.

The eighth of May spells the day when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms: In Prague, Germans surrendered to their Soviet antagonists, after the Soviets had lost more than 8,000 soldiers, and the Germans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, near Berlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark–the German surrender was realized in a final cease-fire. More surrender documents were signed in Berlin and in eastern Germany.

The main concern of many German soldiers was to elude the grasp of Soviet forces, to keep from being taken prisoner. About 1 million Germans attempted a mass exodus to the West when the fighting in Czechoslovakia ended. They were stopped by the Russians and taken captive. The Russians took approximately 2 million prisoners in the period just before and after the German surrender and more than 13,000 British POWs were released and sent back to Great Britain.

Pockets of German-Soviet confrontation continued into the next day. On May 9, the Soviets lost  600 more soldiers in Silesia before the Germans finally surrendered. As a result, V-E Day was not celebrated until the ninth in Moscow, with a radio broadcast salute from Stalin himself: “The age-long struggle of the Slav nations…has ended in victory. Your courage has defeated the Nazis. The war is over.”

captain-kidd-treasure-silver-barCaptain William Kidd was either one of the most notorious pirates in the history of the world, or one of its most unjustly vilified and prosecuted privateers. For all the legends and fiction surrounding this character, his actual career was punctuated by only a handful of skirmishes, followed by a desperate quest to clear his name.

Born in Dundee, Scotland, January 1645, Kidd named the city as his place of birth and said he was aged 41, in testimony under oath at the High Court of the Admiralty in October 1695 or 1694. His baptism documents were research and found to list Dundee as the city of his birth. His father also a seaman, Captain John Kyd, who was lost at sea.

William Kidd was first employed by British authorities to hunt pirates, but legend says that he turned himself into a ruthless criminal of the high seas.

According to Discovery News, a team of American explorers yesterday claimed to have discovered silver treasure from the infamous 17th-century Scottish pirate in a shipwreck off the coast of Madagascar.

“Marine archaeologist Barry Clifford told reporters he had found a 50-kilogram (110-pound) silver bar in the wreck of Kidd’s ship the Adventure Gallery, close to the small island of Sainte Marie.

After looting a treasure-laden ship in 1698, he was caught, imprisoned and questioned in front of the British parliament before being executed in Wapping, close to the River Thames in 1701.

The fate of much of his booty, however, has remained a mystery, sparking intrigue and excitement for generations of treasure-hunters.

Clifford, who was filmed by a documentary crew lifting the silver bar off the sea bed, handed it over to Malagasy President Hery Rajaonarimampianina on Sainte Marie. Soldiers guarded the apparent treasure at the ceremony, which was attended by the US and British ambassadors.

“We discovered 13 ships in the bay,” Clifford said. “We’ve been working on two of them over the last 10 weeks. One of them is the Fire Dragon, the other is Captain Kidd’s ship, the Adventure Galley.”

Independent archaeologist John de Bry, who attended the ceremony, said the shipwreck and silver bar were “irrefutable proof that this is indeed the treasure of the Adventure Gallery.” Robert Yamate, US ambassador to Madagascar, said the discovery was a boost for the country.

“This is a fantastic find that shows the hidden story of Madagascar,” he said. “This is great for tourism… and it is just as important as historical preservation.””

I’ve recently discovered Dick Eastman’s Privacy Blog and it’s a good place to visit for some sage advice from an expert.  On the off chance that you haven’t heard, Mr. Eastman is also the owner/writer of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

That said, I’d like to share a recent Privacy Blog article on the subject of secure banking which is on everyone’s mind when they execute online transactions and, if online security isn’t on your mind, it should be. See below:

Have you ever wondered how secure your computer is? Well – believe it or not, hackers may be watching your computer and recording your every click! Any electronic device with on-line access can be vulnerable. Most hackers steal information from your computer’s usage history. That is, a hacker can log into your computer today and find passwords and other personal information you entered days or even weeks ago.

Another problems is the security “holes” in your computer’s operating system and especially in the web browser you use. Internet Explorer on Windows has the worst security history of any web browser but none of the others are perfect.

Finally, usage of an insecure Internet connection can be tapped by hackers. Using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection is good but using a Tor connection is even better. Some people prefer to use I2P encrypted networking, another highly secure option. (Information about SSL encrypted connections may be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_Layer_Security while information about Tor network may be found at https://www.torproject.org/ and information about I2P may be found at https://geti2p.net/en/.)

There are easy (and cheap!) solutions to keep your movements from being tracked. The recommendations may sound complex and expensive but I can tell you how to implement very high security at no cost or, if you don’t want to do any techie work at all, at very low cost. You can get “another computer” without buying any hardware. My recommendations are: Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on May 5th, 2015

cinco_de_mayoCinco de Mayo (May 5th) is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, but in the United States it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Unfortunately, last year it heralded unrest and we got a glimpse through the media of not so great political activism. We can only hope that tomorrow’s celebration will be what it is meant to be, a joyful celebration of the rich heritage of the Mexican people.

What is the history of Cinco de Mayo?

During the course of the French-Mexican war General Ignacio Zaragoza and his poor and outnumbered Mexican army defeated the French army intent on capturing a small town in east-central Mexico called Puebla de Los Angeles. This was a great moral victory for the Mexican government, symbolizing the country’s ability to defend itself against a threat by a powerful foreign nation.

When Benito Juarez became president of Mexico in 1861, the country was in financial ruin and defaulted on debts to the European governments. As a result, France, Spain and Britain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement of their money.

Britain and Spain struck a deal with Mexico and withdrew. France ruled by Napoleon, decided to use the situation to acquire Mexico.

It was late in 1861 that a well-armed French navy stormed Veracruz, the large French military force drove President Juarez and his government into retreat.

The French thought victory would be swift and 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out on a mission to attack Puebla do Lost Angeles. At his new northern headquarters, Juarez pulled together a rag-tag force of 2000 loyal followers and sent them to Puebla.

Led by Texas-born General Zaragoza the Mexicans fortified the town and prepared for the arrival of the French army. And, on the 5th May, 1862, Lorencez drew his army well-provisioned and supported by heavy artillery and began their assault from the north.

The battle lasted from first light to early evening and the French finally retreated with a loss of 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans were killed.

Although this was not considered a major strategic victory in the overall war against the French, the victory at Puebla enhanced Mexican resistance and 6 years later the French withdrew.

Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon in 1864, was captured and executed by Juarez’ forces.

Puebla de Los Angeles, the site of Zaragoza’s historic victory, was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza in honor of the general. And, today the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla is celebrated by Mexicans as Cinco de Mayo—a national holiday in Mexico.


Sandy on May 1st, 2015
Electricity Plant

Electricity Plant

In her new book, Great Victorian Discoveries: Astounding Revelations and Misguided Assumptions, Caroline Rochford examines some of the incredible findings made across the world between 1875 and 1895. After reading this blog post you might want to purchase the book I’ve provided a link to purchase from Barnes and Noble,

In an article for History Extra, she shared some of her highlights:

“The Victorians lived in an age when knowledge could be shared faster than ever before. New railways and steamships had made it easier for intrepid explorers to visit regions of the world hitherto unseen by western eyes; telephones enabled communication across vast distances, and speedier printing presses ensured the delivery of the latest news to almost every household in the land. Meanwhile, those with a thirst for knowledge were able to read about the astounding discoveries of natural historians, who published thrilling accounts of the strange new plants and creatures they’d encountered during their forages.

Indeed, modern technology had kick-started an information revolution in every field of science. With the aid of photography, microscopes and other new contraptions, researchers were happening upon daily discoveries that promised to change the way the world worked. These many remarkable discoveries were described in the pages of forgotten Victorian compendia, which revealed the wondrous experiments and bizarre theories of the great – and not-so-great – minds of science, engineering and natural history.

1) The four-legged bird

Since the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, mankind has been captivated by the theory of evolution. In 1885 an American naturalist, Edward Morris Brigham, took great pleasure in announcing the discovery – made in 1881 – of an astonishing type of bird that lived by the banks of the Amazon River: the creature’s most incredible characteristic was that it was born with four feet. Read the rest of this entry »

Digital Life says:

The entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland – 400,000 films amounting to the most important source of Irish family history – is to be made available online this July.

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has been working to digitise the microfilms for more than three years under its most ambitious digitisation programme to date.

Announced in December, the archive of parish register microfilms will go live on 8 July.

The parish register records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,091 parishes throughout the island of Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.

The most important source of information on Irish family history:

“This is the most significant-ever genealogy project in the history of the NLI. The microfilms have been available to visitors to the NLI since the 1970s,” explained Ciara Kerrigan, who is managing the digitisation of the parish records.

“However, their digitisation means that, for the first time, anyone who likes will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.”

Typically, the parish registers include information such as the dates of baptisms and marriages, and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses.

The digital images of the registers will be searchable by parish location only, and will not be transcribed or indexed by the NLI.

“The images will be in black and white, and will be of the microfilms of the original registers,” explained Kerrigan.

“There will not be transcripts or indexes for the images.

“However, the nationwide network of local family history centres holds indexes and transcripts of parish registers for their local areas.

“So those who access our new online resource will be able to cross-reference the information they uncover, and identify wider links and connections to their ancestral community by also liaising with the relevant local family history center.”

Sandy on April 28th, 2015

Breitbart News has conducted research of the publicly available U.S. Census records showing that movie star has another nine slaveholder ancestors from Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Only last week, “Affleck admitted that he successfully pressured Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates to edit his Georgia slaveholding ancestor, Benjamin Cole, out of an episode of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” that featured his family history.

This brings the number of Affleck’s known slaveholder ancestors to 12, who owned a total of 214 slaves.

James Henry Alexander, Affleck’s 4 times great grandfather, owned 50 slaves in Holly Springs, Marshall County, Mississippi, at the outbreak of the Civil War, according the 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedules.”

While I’m sure Ben Affleck was totally surprised by the revelations, I can only say that no reasonable person would ever blame him for the actions of his ancestors. Many folks uncover “stuff” in their family history research that they wish they hadn’t found,  but moved on with acceptance. In Ben’s case it was in a public forum.

If readers would like to read the complete article click on the link Brietbart News where you can form your own opinion of the article.


I’m Scottish born and spent my formative years living in the historic Scottish town of Stirling, with it’s splendid castle, home to Scottish royalty. Growing up in an area literally steeped in history did leave its mark later on.   We listened as children with pride to stories of the legendary William Wallace, King Robert the Bruce, and the Stewart kings.

The part of our history that always grieves me is the fate of Mary, Queen of Scots and the heinous treatment she was subjected to at the hands of barbaric individuals who were supposed to look after her.  I’ve read varying accounts of her execution, all of which I found troubling some sugar coated focusing on her positive attitude towards her fate and others are, to say the least, gristly and I suspect the latter tales are likely a more accurate account of the event.

Her four ladies-in-waiting witnessed first-hand the most eventful periods in Mary Stuart’s life, accompanying her everywhere and enjoying some of the lavish court entertainments so important to 16th-century monarchy. Many have wondered  what happened to the four girls appointed to be companions and, later, ladies-in-waiting, to the Queen of Scots.

There was a Scottish Ballad written about the four friends of the ill-fated queen. Mary queen of Scots end is well- known and it is often wondered what became of them.

Before I point you to a link with an article written by Melita Thomas, editor of Tudor Times on the fate of these ladies, I invite you to listen to the Scottish ballad (mentioned above) written about the four friends all with the first name Mary . The Corries version of the “Yest’re’en the Queen had four Marys” is haunting and a perfect prep for the story. The link is below the video:

Click on the link Mary, Queen of Scots: what happened to her ladies-in-waiting? to read the article.

Here’s the latest information on new records at Findmypast via Alan Stewart’s “Grow Your Own Family Tree“:

Australia: New South Wales

“Containing over 29,000 records, the New South Wales Goal Photographic Books 1871-1969 consist of entries of prisoners from 14 different gaols around the state. The records are particularly fascinating as they contain not only transcripts and scans of the original prisoner entry listings themselves, but also the mugshot photographs of individual inmates. The original series, held by the State Records Authority of New South Wales, was created as per the ‘Gaol Regulation’ which was proclaimed in the New South Wales Government Gazette on 19 February 1867. This required that description books be maintained to keep track of incoming and outgoing prisoners. Each record includes a transcript and image.

“The New South Wales Government Gazette Indexes 1832-1863 consist of over 1.2 million transcripts containing rich details of life in Australia’s most populous state. The information recorded was of an administrative and bureaucratic nature and can reveal details of your ancestor’s property, occupation, transactions and other useful biographical information. Each record includes a transcript of the original document.


“Containing over 156,000 records, the Essex Wills Beneficiaries Index 1505-1916 was compiled over a 15 year period by researcher Thora Broughton. The index records all people mentioned in a will, with the exception of witnesses and those with the same name as the testator – therefore not only beneficiaries and relatives appear but also executors, trustees, occupiers of property and adjacent landowners and so on. Each record contains a transcript and an image of the index.

Yorkshire: Craven

“Containing over 4,000 records, Craven’s Part in the Great War 1914-1919 was designed to serve as a memento of the part that the district of Craven in Yorkshire played in the Great War. The memorial itself is divided into two main sections. The first is a nominal roll containing names, ranks and regiments, while the second section is a roll of honour includes including photographs supplied by the families of the deceased. Each record includes a transcript as well as an image of the original document.


“Over 5.3 million articles and 15 new titles have recently been added to our collection of historic British newspapers. The collection now stands at over 124 million articles from across England, Scotland and Wales and covers 245 years of British history from 1710-1955. New to the collection is the national title, The Daily Telegraph from 1871. There’s also new additions from other cities and towns around the country including Nottingham, Fife, Yorkshire and London. Substantial additions have also been made to existing titles, including the Fife Herald and the Derbyshire Courier.”

For Earth Day, please listen to  “Nature’s Greatest Mimic” imitate the sound of chainsaws destroying its habitat:


I loved the Star Wars trailer (see below) and am looking forward to seeing the movie. It’s packed with action shots, storm troopers and favorite characters for both Star Wars fans (like me) and all moviegoers. It’s family-friendly entertainment.

The main theme of the preview comes from the series’ hero Luke Skywalker, who says, in homage to “Return of the Jedi,” that the Force is strong with his family.

“The force is strong in my family,” he says. “My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power, too so Skywalker’s genealogy will play a role. Wait until you hear Han Solo say to his Wookiee friend, “Chewie we’re home.”

Sandy on April 17th, 2015

Fold3 by Ancestry is offering free access to their Civil War collection through April 30, as follows:

April was a big month in the American Civil War. Not only did the conflict begin in April 1861, but this year marks the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant, as well as Lincoln’s assassination, in April 1865. In commemoration of the Civil War and Confederate History Month, Fold3 invites you to explore all records in its Civil War Collection for free April 13th to 30th.

There are currently over 43 million records in the Civil War Collection, including everything from military records to personal accounts and historic writings.

Soldier records include (among others):

Other record types include things like photographs, images of artifacts, and original war maps. Items such as the Lincoln Assassination Papers, Sultana Disaster documents, letters to the Adjutant General and Commission Branch, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, and the 1860 census are also contained in the Civil War Collection.

Confederate-specific records in the collection include documents like:

Join Fold3 in its commemoration of the Civil War and Confederate History Month, and discover information on famous participants as well as your own Civil War ancestors through documents, photos, and images that capture the experiences of those involved in America’s deadliest conflict. Get started searching the Civil War Collection here.

first-wonder-woman-drawingWith rumblings that the first sketch H.G. Peter’s Wonder Woman is headed for the auction block, there is, as far as my research goes, one person who says that it’s not. The link to the article is provided below.

Many of comics iconic heroes are so old now that items from their beginnings are very difficult to find.  The Wonder Woman sketch,  recently recovered from Peter’s estate, was featured in December 1942’s All Star Comics #8. Certainly, a rare glimpse into the history of one of the most iconic female superhero’s ever.

You’ll see from the sketch above that Peter’s original sketch idea isn’t far off from Wonder Woman’s final costume.  Here sandals were swapped out for boots, her belt is more plain and her top covers her midriff rather than leave it exposed.

The amazing concept illustration is in pencil, ink and crayon, and measures 13# x 18.75″.  This genesis drawing was made for the creator of Wonder Woman,  Dr. William Moulton Marston, and actually dates back to 1941. Written on this priceless artwork are comments and feedback by Peter and Marston containing details and opinions on Wonder Woman’s developing fashion statement.

A transcription of the follows:

“Dear Dr. Marston, I slapped these two out in a hurry. The eagle is tough to handle – when in perspective or in profile, he doesn’t show up clearly — the shoes look like a stenographer’s. I think the idea might be incorporated as a sort of Roman contraption. -Peter”

“Dear Pete – I think the gal with hand up is very cute. I like her skirt, legs, hair. Bracelets okay + boots. These probably will work out. See other suggestions enclosed. No on these + stripes – red + white. With eagle’s wings above or below breasts as per enclosed? Leave it to you. Don’t we have to put a red stripe around her waist as belt? I thought Gaines wanted it – don’t remember. Circlet will have to go higher – more like crown – see suggestions enclosed. See you Wednesday morning – WMM.”

Wonder Woman is one of the most beloved female superheroes of all time and, if it really is on the auction block, this rare one-of-a-kind illustration is a priceless artifact for collectors and historians willing to bid boldly.  I’ve read that five figures would be a smart start for the bidding.

The excellent History Blog says that it’s not for sale and states that the blog post is factually accurate. If you’d like to read the story click on the link here is the first Wonder Woman drawing.  

Sandy on April 10th, 2015

aspcaA little soul in the form of a cat took up residence in our back yard a year ago. After a several weeks of giving her some tasty morsels, we discovered that she had been declawed, her vocal chords tampered with and abandoned to the outdoors to fend for herself. She is now part of the family. Sadly, in this country where people are supposed to care for their animals, there are some folks who are not so great.

One hundred and forty-seven years ago today, April 10, 1866, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was founded in New York City by philanthropist and diplomat Henry Bergh.

President Abram Lincoln had appointed Bergh to a diplomatic post at the Russian court of Czar Alexander II in 1863. It was actually in Russia that he was horrified to witness workhorses being beaten by their peasant drivers.

On his journey back to America in June 1865 he visited the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in London and was determined to secure a charter to incorporate the ASPCA in the United States and to exercise the power to arrest and prosecute animal abusers.

Bergh pleaded the case on behalf of “these mute servants of mankind” at a meeting on February 8, 1866, arguing that protecting animals was an issue that crossed party lines and class boundaries. He said, “This is a matter purely of conscience; it has no perplexing side issues. It is a moral question in all its aspects.” Several dignitaries signed his “Declaration of the Rights of Animals.

Henry Bergh’s impassioned tales of the horrors inflicted on animals convinced the New York State legislature to pass the charter to incorporate the ASPCA on April 10, 1866. It was nine days later that the first effective anti-cruelty law was passed in the United States, permitting the investigation of complaints of animal cruelty and to make arrests.

Bergh was a familiar face on the streets and courtrooms of New York and regularly inspected slaughter houses. He worked with the police to close down dog and rat fighting pits.

Unfortunately, slaughterhouse abuse, dog-fighting, cock-fighting and other cruel activities are still going on today. In November of last year a video was released showing the abuse of turkeys being prepared for slaughter in a North Carolina turkey farm.

Click on the graphic on top left to donate or click on the link ASPCA.

Sandy on April 6th, 2015

Have a Happy Passover!

What is Passover? Passover is an eight-day festival celebrated in early spring from the 15th though the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan and commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from a life of slavery in ancient Egypt.

The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt that was ruled by the Pharaohs.

In the story of the Exodus (Exodus 23:15), the Bible tells that God helped the Children of Israel escape slavery in Egypt.  According to the Bible the Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with blood of a spring lamb and the Angel of Death, upon seeing this, would know  to “pass over” the first-born in these homes.

In the Hebrew Bible, Passover is called the feast of unleavened. The commandment to keep Passover is recorded in the Book of Leviticus 23:5 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month between the two evenings is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days; in the seventh day is a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work.


Sandy on April 5th, 2015

Sandy on April 3rd, 2015

Sandy on March 31st, 2015

How time flies. On March 31, 1999, the writing and directing brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski released their second film, the mind-blowing science-fiction blockbuster The Matrix.

Born and raised in Chicago, both brothers dropped out of college and started a house-painting and construction business before they got into the film industry. They collaborated on two screenplays, the second of which was made into the action movie Assassins (1995), starring Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas. A year later, the Wachowskis wrote, directed and executive-produced their debut film, Bound. Critics praised the relatively low-budget crime thriller, about lesbian lovers who steal from the mob, and it became a cult hit.

The brothers’ next project, however, brought them to a whole new level. Filmed for $70 million, The Matrix was a stylish, innovative and visually spectacular take on a familiar premise–that humans are unknowing inhabitants of a world controlled by machines–central to films such as Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Matristarred Keanu Reeves as a computer hacker who learns that human-like computers have created a fake world, the Matrix, to enslave the remaining humans while keeping them in the dark about their dire fate. Guided by the sleek, mysterious Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss), the hacker is dubbed Neo and told he alone can play the crucial role in deciding the fate of the world. Packed with slow-motion camera tricks and references from a myriad of sources–including comic books, the Bible, Lewis Carroll, Eastern philosophy and film noir–The Matrix also stunned viewers with its Hong Kong-style fight scenes, choreographed by the martial-arts master Yuen Wo Ping and performed with the help of invisible wires allowing the characters to fly through the air. Greeted with enthusiasm by computer-gaming fanatics and mainstream audiences alike, The Matrix earned a staggering $470 million worldwide and won four Academy Awards, for Best Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound.

The Wachowskis had always envisioned The Matrix as a trilogy, and they shot back-to-back sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, in Australia. Released six months apart in 2003, as often happens, they were generally agreed to be less successful than the original film. All in all, however, the franchise–including a best-selling video game, Enter the Matrix–earned the production company, Warner Brothers, more than $1 billion. The Wachowskis, meanwhile, became famously reclusive, refusing to promote the Matrix sequels or give interviews. The air of mystery surrounding the brothers was exacerbated by rumors that Larry Wachowski had undergone a sex change and was living as a woman, Lana Wachowski. As reported by Fox News, Joel Silver, producer of the Matrix films, emphatically denied these reports in a 2007 interview.

As a follow-up to their phenomenal success, the Wachowskis wrote and produced for Animatrix, a series of short films based on The Matrix, and wrote and produced the provocative action thriller V for Vendetta (2006). In 2008, the brothers returned to directing (as well as writing and producing) with Speed Racer, a film adaptation of the Japanese anime series by the same name.

FamilySearch has added to its collections more than 5.8 million indexed records and images for Australia, Canada, Hungary, Russia, South Africa, and the United States. Notable collection updates include 2,435,483 indexed records from the Canada Census, 1911 collection; 2,069,202 indexed records from the Australia, Queensland Cemetery Records, 1802–1990 collection; and 310,900 images from the Russia, Tula Poll Tax Census (Revision Lists), 1758–1895 collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

Searchable historic records are made available on FamilySearch.org through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at FamilySearch.org. Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at FamilySearch.org.

Click on FamilySearch.org to see the table of new records.

The following press release comes from the Globe Newswire:

“SALT LAKE CITY, March 25, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Knowles Collection, a quickly growing, free online Jewish genealogy database linking generations of Jewish families from all over the world, reached its one-millionth record milestone and is now easily searchable online. The collection started from scratch just over seven years ago, with historical records gathered from FamilySearch’s collections. Now the vast majority of new contributions are coming from families and private archives worldwide. The free collection can be accessed at FamilySearch.org/family-trees.

The databases from the Knowles Collection are unlike other collections in that people are linked as families and the collection can be searched by name, giving researchers access to records of entire families. All records are sourced and show the people who donated the records so cousins can contact one another. New records are added continually, and the collection is growing by about 10,000 names per month from over 80 countries. Corrections are made as the need is found, and new links are added continually.

“With the Knowles Collection so visible at FamilySearch.org, researchers will have the chance to compare their Jewish family histories against the collections of FamilySearch, giving families more opportunities to expand, preserve, and share them,” said Todd Knowles, a Jewish genealogy specialist at the popular Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and founder of the popular Knowles Collection.

The popular Knowles Collection started from Knowles’s desire to know more about his Jewish ancestors. “My search for my great-great-grandfather Morris David Rosenbaum, a Polish Jew, eventually led me to begin compiling the genealogical records of the Jewish people,” recounted Knowles. “The genealogy of Morris David Rosenbaum became the backbone of the Knowles Collection.”

Knowles began by following Rosenbaum from Poland through England to the United States. Knowles discovered the Mordy Collection in England, which had been compiled by Isobel Mordy from Middlesex, England. “She had literally used individual scraps of paper to compile 150 individual pedigrees, with over 7,500 records,” said Knowles. Mordy’s work was very important, but because of the complexity and numbering system of her collection, searching it was difficult, so Knowles decided to make it electronic.

“Mordy did not have access to the Internet or the resources we have available to us today to fill in sources and gaps,” said Knowles. So Knowles used the tools available to him at FamilySearch.org, such as census records, probates, synagogue records, and cemetery records, to begin publishing more than 10,000 Jewish names hailing from the British Isles. Eventually, his collection of Jews of the British Isles grew to 40,000 names.

Today, Jewish communities worldwide are adding their own records to the popular Knowles Collection online. The Knowles Collection has grown from Jews of the British Isles (now with 208,349 records), to Jews of North America (489,400), Jews of Europe (380,637), Jews of South America and the Caribbean (21,351), Jews of Africa, the Orient, and the Middle East (37,618), and the newest one, Jews of the Southern Pacific (21,518).

“So many of our ancestors left their native lands for new homes. That diaspora [scattered colonies of Jews] are now in six different searchable databases in the Knowles Collection,” said Knowles, “These collections show how universal our families are.”

Knowles said many difficulties exist in Jewish genealogical research. “The records of one family may be in hundreds of places. Very few records are in a central archive. The records collection at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is the largest outside of Israel,” Knowles says.

There has always been an interest in family history among Jews. With the advent of the Internet and electronically accessible databases online, that interest is growing rapidly. “Jews are doing family history like crazy,” Knowles says. “Rabbis have kids doing their family history before their bar mitzvahs. Everyone has a desire to know who they are and where they came from. Once you spend a little time looking at your family’s past, you will find a fascination you never thought possible.”

The Knowles Collection can be accessed at FamilySearch.org (click Search, and then click Genealogies). If you would like to add your Jewish family records to the collection, Knowles says that the easiest and best way to add records to the collection is contact him at knowlescollection.blogspot.co”

Sandy on March 21st, 2015

I’d like to share the following article by Dick Eastman who writes the best of the best genealogy blog Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter: 

Overheard at a genealogy conference recently (repeated from memory so the wording might not be exact):

Person #1: “I won’t put my genealogy information online because I am afraid someone might steal it.”

Person #2: “Where did you obtain all that information?”

Person #1: “From freely available public records, including census records, birth and death records, newspapers, and such.”

OK, now let me add my own comments and questions: All of those records are always available to everyone else. What is person #1 trying to hide?

You may refer to the information you collect as “my ancestry” or “my records,” but that doesn’t mean that you own the information. In fact, most genealogy information in the U.S. and Canada is freely available to everyone in the public domain. Nobody can claim that data as their own.

Yes, there are exceptions for new interpretations or for any analysis that you create, but the names, places, and dates are always public domain and typically are already available elsewhere to anyone who cares to take the time to look. Since it is already freely available elsewhere, I see no reason to try to hide the information. You certainly cannot claim ownership of names, dates, and places. It isn’t “your” information!

I won’t publish names or other information about living individuals for several reasons, but I have freely published information online about my deceased ancestors. Anyone who wants the information is free to copy it. The concept of “protecting my genealogy information” strikes me as laughable, as long as we are not talking about living persons. If anyone wants to learn about my ancestry, or yours, they can do so in the same manner that I did: one record at a time. In fact, I hope they do so and, if they find anything I overlooked, I hope they tell me!

Information about one’s ancestry is freely available everywhere in books, microfilms, old records in various archives, and sometimes online. “Protecting” it from others strikes me as a waste of time.

England’s Immigrants 1330-1550, a fully-searchable database containing over 64,000 names of people known who migrated to England during the period of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation.

The information within this database has been pulled from a wide selection of published and un-published records – taxation assessments, letters of denization and protection, and a variety of other licences and grants. It offers an invaluable resource for family historians and genealogists  interested in the origins, destinations, occupations and identities of the people who chose to make England their home during this turbulent period. You will find further information on the sources when you visit the website. I found some interesting results and can say that the site is well worth exploring

The database allows users to search on a wide range of criteria, and to display the information retrieved in a variety of useful and innovative ways, including tables, graphs, charts and maps. For experienced users, the basic data can also be downloaded for further manipulation in other software applications. For guidance on using the database, please click here.

The database can be searched immediately by entering a name, place or term into the ‘Quick Search’ box above, or, for a more streamlined search, simply click on ‘Advanced Search’ and follow the instructions to select the specific information fields you wish to explore.

This project is managed by the University of York, in collaboration with The National Archives and the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Click on England’s Immigrants to visit the site.

QueenslandNew additions to the Findmypast database are the Queensland, Australia, immigration records. They include:

Queensland, Brisbane Register of Immigrants 1885-1917

Containing over 48,000 records, the index was compiled from Registers of Immigrants per Ship Landed at the Immigration Depot at Brisbane. These records were maintained and used by the immigration department. The purpose of these registers was to record the arrival of immigrants on each ship that landed at Brisbane’s Immigration Depot. Each record includes a transcript. The amount of information listed varies but most records will include the immigrant’s name, date of arrival, ship name, state and county.

Queensland Naturalizations 1851-1904

Containing over 12,000 records, the index was compiled from various records created by the Supreme Court of the Brisbane, Rockhampton and Townsville districts, the Colonial Secretary’s Office and the Government Residents Office. They included correspondence, naturalization files, certificates of naturalization and associated papers, and oaths of allegiance that were sworn by ‘aliens’ who were in the process of being naturalized. Each record includes a transcript. The amount of information listed varies but most will include the individual’s name, year of application, file number, item ID, state and country.

Queensland, Maryborough Registers of Rations Issued to Immigrants 1875-1884

The index contains over 7,000 records and was compiled by the assistant immigration agent within the town of Maryborough in Queensland, Australia. Assistant immigration agents were responsible for providing information and services to immigrants in the area, for example relating to accommodation and rations at immigration depots. They also publicised the arrival of ships in the local press, and processed ships’ passenger lists and other records as well as statistical information for the government. This index consists of registers which recorded the rations that were issued to immigrants. Details were listed on these registers for single girls, single men and married people alike.

Queensland Nominated Immigrants 1908-1922

The index was compiled from the Card Index to Personal Files for Nominated Immigrations, 1908-1922. It contains over 45,000 records which were created and used by the immigration department of the Australian state of Queensland. These cards record information about individuals who were nominated or sponsored to migrate to Queensland between 1908 and 1922. The cards also detailed the information of applicants who were rejected, who later returned to their country of origin or elsewhere, and even those who simply made inquiries about immigrating to Queensland. In many instances, one member of the family would initially make the journey alone, then nominate other family members later to join them in Queensland. Each record includes a transcript. The amount of information listed varies, but most will include the immigrant’s name, age, year of birth, year of arrival, ship name, the name of their sponsor, state and country.”

If you find it difficult to remember your passwords you’ll be interested to know that Yahoo has recently taken the first step towards eliminating them by introducing an on-demand feature that has users logging on with computer generated passwords. I’m wondering if this will work and, of course, we shall see.

“If you’re one of those people who’s constantly resetting online passwords because you can’t remember what they are, you can thank Yahoo for having just taken the “first step” to getting rid of them.

The company has introduced a type of password on-demand feature that allows users to log into their accounts by having computer-generated passwords sent directly to their smartphones whenever they want to access their accounts, Business Insider reported.

It’s a essentially a hybrid two-step verification process that ultimately makes users’ accounts more secure. Anyone looking to hack a user’s Yahoo account would also need access to that person’s phone to receive the computer-generated password.

Yahoo listed the steps users can take to enable the optional on demand password feature on its Tumblr blog. Here’s how to set up it up:

  1. Sign in to your Yahoo.com account.
  2. Click on your name at the top right corner to go to your account information page.
  3. Select “Security” in the left bar.
  4. Click on the slider for “On-demand passwords” to opt-in.
  5. Enter your phone number and Yahoo will send you a verification code.
  6. Enter the code and voila!

Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on March 17th, 2015

a -st-patricks-day-poemsEver since St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 A.D in Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, many legends have been passed down. As the patron saint of Ireland he is said to have baptized hundreds of people in a day. He explained the Holy Trinity using a three-leafed shamrock.

What is known about St. Patrick comes from his autobiographical confession Confessio, written in Latin around the year 450 A.D. It is a unique record of life at that time. St. Patrick was born in Britain (some say probably Scotland and some say probably England) and sold into slavery at the age of 16 by Irish raiders.

For the six years that followed he worked as a herder in Ireland where he found comfort in religious faith. Following the advice heard in a dream one night, he escaped and managed to find a passage on a ship to Britain and was eventually reunited with his family.

In another dream an person named Victoricus gave him a letter called “The Voice of the Irish”, where felt that he heard the voices of Irishmen pleading to return to their country and walk among them once more.

After studying for the priesthood, he was ordained a bishop and arrived back in Ireland in 433 to begin preaching the Gospel. Many thousands were converted and churches were built around the country. He lived for 40 years in poverty, teaching, traveling and working tirelessly.

Since the day St. Patrick died, the Irish have observed the day as a religious holiday, attending church in the morning and celebrating with food and drink in the afternoon. (Most are familiar with an Irish Wake—a celebration of life and a passing to the next.) Through the centuries these celebrations have evolved.

The first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in the United States when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762.

As time passed, the parades not only became a show of unity and strength for the persecuted Irish-American immigrants, but also a celebration of the wonderful Irish heritage.

Today, March 17, is celebrated internationally and millions of people around the globe wear something green, watch parades, listen to Irish music and drink bear. When I lived in New York I loved the green bagels—a truly cross-cultural event! Everyone loves to be Irish on St. Paddy’s Day.

Sandy on March 13th, 2015

The following article written by Trevor Hammond for Newspaper.com can be used universally. That said Newspapers.com is a wonderful resource for family history researchers:

If a simple search on Newspapers.com for an ancestor’s name isn’t returning the results you want, try including wildcards or Boolean operators in your search.

Wildcards are great if there are multiple spellings or possible misspellings of a name. Two common wildcards are the question mark [?] and asterisk [*].

Use a question mark to replace a single letter. For example, if the person you’re searching for has the surname “Johansen” but you aren’t sure if it’s spelled –son or –sen, you can search [Johans?n], and that will return results for both “Johanson” and “Johansen,” as well as other variations.

Use an asterisk to replace multiple letters. If you think there might be a double S in the surname “Johansen,” searching for [Johan*n] will return results for “Johansen” and “Johanssen,” in addition to “Johanson,” “Johansson,” and other possible spellings.

Boolean operators can help you focus your search. Two common ones are “or” and “not.”

Use “or” between your search terms to return matches that have either (or both) of your terms. For instance, if you are searching for news stories that mention either William Johansen or his brother, John, you can search for [“William Johansen” OR “John Johansen”] and the search will return results with matches for just William Johansen or just John Johansen, as well as results with both names.

Use “not” between search terms to help eliminate irrelevant results. If you are searching for “William Johansen” but you don’t want to see any results that also talk about his brother, John, you can search for [“William Johansen” NOT “John Johansen”], and that will get rid of any matches for William that also mention John.

So if you’re having trouble finding the right person in your search results, try using wildcards or Boolean operators!

Sandy on March 11th, 2015

The following information comes from the National Genealogical Association (NGS):

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) announces the live streaming of ten lectures from its 2015 Family History Conference, which will be held 13‒16 May 2015, in St. Charles, Missouri. NGS members and others across the United States and overseas, who are unable to attend the conference in person, are invited to sign up for these live streaming lectures. Details of the live streaming program can be found on the NGS Conference website athttp://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/live-streaming/.

NGS has selected some of the most popular topics and nationally known speakers for the two featured tracks. Registrants for live streaming can sign up for either track or the bundled package that includes both tracks.

  • Track One: Viewers will be able to view five lectures on “The Immigration & Naturalization Process” from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, 14 May 2015. The lectures will cover immigration and naturalization records, uncovering the immigrants’ story, and useful hints on how to discover their home town.
  • Track Two: Five “Methodology Techniques” lectures will be live streaming from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. on Friday, 15 May 2015. They will address methodology techniques for use with historical context, forensic genealogy, and DNA, as well as problem solving using a combination of resources.

Registration for live streaming will close at midnight 29 April 2015. All registrants will receive an electronic version of the NGS 2015 Family History Conference Syllabus. Registration is discounted for NGS Members.

TrackSelection IncludedFormats MemberPrice Non-Member Price Track Descriptions

Track One or Track Two

Live Streaming and three months access to Track One or Two   $65.00     $80.00

The Immigration & Naturalization Process.  Five lectures on Thursday, 14 May 2015, or Methodology Techniques. Five lectures on Friday, 15 May 2015.

Bundled Package Track One and Track Two

Live Streaming and three months access to both tracks $115.00 $145.00

The Immigration & Naturalization Process.  Five lectures on Thursday, 14 May 2015, and Methodology Techniques. Five lectures on Friday, 15 May 2015.

NGS has selected PlayBackNow to broadcast the live sessions and to provide the recorded sessions for later viewing. Instructions for viewing the live streaming will be sent to registrants before 13 May 2015.

Tracks One and Two are among the more than 25 tracks and 150 lectures that will be open to those who attend the four-day conference in person. Conference attendees may also benefit from purchasing the NGS live streaming package by registering for either track or the bundled package, which they will be able to view after they return home. By selecting different presentations while attending the conference, they can expand their overall conference experience. They will have ninety days following the conference to view and repeat the live streaming sessions (through 16 August 2015).

Reminder: The discounted Early Bird registration will close on 30 March 2015.

Sandy on March 7th, 2015

Very moving please watch and listen, it will be your gain. This event did indeed spread outrage around the world. Beautifully narrated:

Sandy on March 4th, 2015

Fold3 has a great website. I like to share the following interesting article featured on the Fold3 blog:

In early March 1918, soldiers with the flu began reporting to the infirmary at Camp Funston, an army training camp in Kansas. Within three weeks, 1,100 men at that camp had also come down with the flu. It was the start of a pandemic that would kill as many as 100 million people worldwide.

Though commonly called the Spanish flu (because of a highly publicized outbreak in Spain), it likely began in Haskell, Kansas, where it spread to Camp Funston and from there to the rest of the worldWartime conditions, like troop movements and overcrowded cantonments, accelerated and aggravated the spread of the virus, which proved to be much deadlier than the normal flu, in part because of a particularly tough strain of pneumonia that often accompanied it.

The Spanish flu afflicted cities across the nation and around the world, but since it disproportionately hit young adults in their prime, the military felt its effects strongly. The US Navy would later estimate that 40 percent of its men had gotten the Spanish flu, while the Army reported 36 percent. Of the three waves of the flu (March–June, September–November, December–March), the second wave was the deadliest for both civilians and for the military. In fact, between September and November, the flu killed about as many soldiers as World War I did in that same time period.

The Spanish flu affected the war itself as it ravaged the armies of both the Allies and the Axis. While many soldiers were sick for three days or so and then began to recover, a substantial number either developed the deadly pneumonia as well or contracted a version of the flu that could kill in as little as 24 hours. For every soldier that died, another four or five were too sick for weeks afterward to carry out their duties. Military attacks and operations on both sides had to be postponed because of the huge number of soldiers incapacitated by the flu.

Despite failed attempts by the medical community to control the virus, the pandemic eventually began to die down on its own, with the worst of the third wave finished in the United States by the end of March 1919. By 1920, the danger was finally over.

Learn more about the Spanish flu pandemic on Fold3. The WWI Officer Experience Reports are an especially good source for first-hand accounts about life in the military during the flu pandemic.

I remember growing up there was discussion as to whether marmalade was first made by the English or the Scots. The real thing is so delicious, I’m sure it really doesn’t matter.

As published today in The Herald, Scotland:

They’ll be choking on their toast in deepest middle England this morning as news spreads that marmalade’s reputation as the quintessentially English spread so beloved by Paddington Bear has been well and truly shredded because for the first time ever, the clear winners of this year’s World Marmalade Awards are Scottish.

The news will no doubt cause a stir, as the true origins of whether marmalade originated in England or Scotland has been the subject of heated debate for centuries.

Clan Hamilton came top in the new Stirring of the Clans category; the Army Veterans Charity in Auchincruive, Ayr, has won the gong for its entry in the Military category; and Wemyss House in Bayfield, by Tain, Ross-shire, has come first in the B&B category. All three won Double Golds, beating stiff competition in a record overall total of 2000 marmalades submitted from England, Wales, the US and the Far East.

The judges – a select group of food historians, food writers and Women’s Institute members – declared the Hamilton Honey marmalade by Catie Gladstone, a member of clan Hamilton from Dumfries, to be “rich and smooth, and a breath of Scotland’s misty lands”.

The military veterans – under the guidance of horticultural therapist Victoria Brown – proved that traditional Seville orange marmalade still holds it own against exotic newcomers made with pomelo grapefruit, lemons, blood oranges or blackcurrants, some with added seaweed, lemongrass, cardamom, lemongrass, sake and espresso. Wemyss House’s fine cut sample was “powerfully flavoured”. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on February 27th, 2015

mr-spockLeonard Nimoy, known worldwide as Mr Spock in the original Star Trek television series, has died. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, told the New York Times he died of of pulmonary disease, which he attributed to a smoking habit he had ended 30 years ago. He was hospitalised in Los Angeles earlier this week.

Nimoy co-starred with William Shatner on the original Star Trek TV series from 1966 to 1969. His half-human, half-Vulcan character was a perfect counterpart to Shatner’s Captain Kirk in the series, which spawned several films and later TV reboots. He appeared as “Spock Prime” in the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness, in which actor Zachary Quinto took on the role of Spock.

He last tweeted on Monday, closing as he often did with Spock’s familiar line, “live long and prosper (LLAP)”:


Sandy on February 26th, 2015

Some interesting news from the Associated Press, February 26, 2015:

NEW YORK –  Barnes & Noble is keeping its Nook Media digital business after all.

The bookseller had planned to combine Nook and its college bookstores into a single company separate from its retail operations.

Barnes & Noble’s retail operations, which include its bookstores and the BN.com business, have been outperforming Nook. Barnes & Noble spent years investing heavily in its Nook e-book reader and e-book library, but they struggled to be profitable.

The biggest U.S. brick-and-mortar bookseller said Thursday that keeping Nook and the retail operations together would better serve digital customers.

The separation is expected to be finished by August’s end. Barnes & Noble Education, a separate, publicly traded company, will house the college business.

Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc. surged $1.73, or 7.1 percent, to $25.98 in morning trading.

The Genealogist is a UK based website with a constantly expanding database. Their most recently added Tythe maps will give family researchers insight into where their ancestors worked and lived in the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Leicestershire. Other counties will soon follow.  See below:

Many family historians want to get an insight into where their ancestors worked and lived. Now they are able to search for their forebears within the fantastic resource that is the comprehensive collection of Tithe records for England and Wales online at TheGenealogist. In partnership with the National Archives they are making it possible for family history researchers to search over 11 million records from across England and Wales in the early part of Queen Victoria’s reign and to view theses valuable original apportionment documents with linked maps all on one website.

Created in a period from 1837 to the early 1850s Tithe records were the result of one of the largest surveys into the usage, ownership and occupation of land in England and Wales since the Domesday book.

Tithes, originally one-tenth of the produce of the land, were paid to the church and, after the Reformation, to some lay tithe owners as well. These “lay impropriators” were often landowners that historically gained the rights to the tithe rent payments on the redistribution of monastery lands in Henry VIII’s time. When this land appears, in the 19th century records, then the sums payable to the successor landholders will be listed within the apportionment records and so you may find that an amount of rent was destined to go to the vicar and another sum to a non-ecclesiastical landowner. In the example below the landowner, Lord Berners, is also the lay impropriator and so, in theory at least, he paid himself as well as the vicar!

The Tithes Commutation Act of 1836 finally abolished payment of “goods in kind” and instituted a plain fixed annual monetary payment based on the land value. The aim of the government was that, over time and with inflation, this tithe payment would diminish to nothing but a mere token amount. But first the government had to discover the value of the land holdings across the country so that it could carry out its plan. To do this a grand survey was undertaken and the result was tithe apportionment records and their accompanying maps.

As soon as the Act of Parliament was passed the surveying started. Taking about 15 years to carry out, with the first completed tithe maps and apportionments beginning from 1837.

Three copies of the tithe records were made. One would have been sent to the Parish to be kept safely, but in most cases the accompanying maps were so large that they would not fit in the parish chest. They ended up stored elsewhere in the church; even propped up against a wall and so many were lost or damaged.

The second went to the Church of England diocese with authority over the parish and the third set of tithe apportionments and maps were sent to the Tithe Commissioners in London. This is why copies from the whole of the country are now housed in The National Archives (TNA) and it is these that are now available to search on The Genealogist.


Sandy on February 22nd, 2015

I know this post is not about genealogy, but it could mean a lot of family historians could stick around to tell their story and make a difference. As usual it’s a maybe, although it does come from a good source, Rutgers University via Gizmag cite Rutgers as the source. If you can understand my intro then you’ll enjoy the article. Read on:

An ingredient found in extra-virgin olive oil called oleocanthal has been known as a compound capable of killing a variety of human cancer cells, but how this process actually played out was not understood. Now, a team of researchers has uncovered not only how oleocanthal destroys cancer cells, but that it is able to do so while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Paul Breslin, a professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University, had thought that oleocanthal killed the cancer cells by targeting a key protein in cancer cells that triggers apoptosis, a process that sees dangerous or damaged cells self-destruct by upsetting the balance of ions in the cell membranes. In investigating this theory, he teamed up with David Foster and Onica LeGendre, two cancer biologists from New York City’s Hunter College to more closely examine the process.

“We needed to determine if oleocanthal was targeting that protein and causing the cells to die,” says Breslin.

What first surprised the scientists was how quickly the oleocanthal destroyed the cancer cells. While apoptosis requires between 16 and 24 hours to take effect, the oleocanthal was killing off the cancer cells within 30 minutes to one hour. This led the team to believe that there were some other factors at play.

What they discovered was that the oleocanthal was piercing the cancer cell’s vesicles, the containers that store the cell’s waste. By puncturing these “dumpsters,” as Breslin describes them, it creates an outpouring of enzymes that then cause the cell to die.

“Once you open one of those things, all hell breaks loose,” says Breslin.

And when it came to the healthy cells, the researchers found that they remain completely unharmed. While the application of oleocanthal caused a temporary halt in their life cycles, after 24 hours they returned to normal.

With the testing thus far carried out in the lab, the researchers say that they will now look to establish the effects of oleocanthal on cancer cells in living animals.

The findings were published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Oncology.

Source: Rutgers University

Sandy on February 16th, 2015

As a follow up to my previous post, I’d like to share an article What to you get from DNA testing? written by Betty Malesky for the Green Valley News and Sun, which touches on how far we’ve come since it all started in 1985. I found her comment in the article, “Back only 10 generations you have more than 1,000 ancestors, but you will not share DNA with many of them”. The article is short but makes several good points. In my personal opinion, Ms. Malesky’s article will serve to remind you that it’s a good idea to understand exactly what you’re getting before you purchase one of the tests.  See below:

Since the birth of DNA testing in 1985, DNA and genealogy have been linked as if the two were inseparable friends.

You can do effective genealogical research without ever hiring a DNA test. In fact, the farther back you go in your family tree, the less useful DNA testing is. Back only 10 generations you have more than 1,000 ancestors, but you will not share DNA with many of them.

Ancestry advertises DNA tests for $99 to: “Get personalized details about your ethnic origins. Discover more about your story with advanced DNA science from the experts in family history.” These “details” may tell you your ancestors came from a particular country, but will not help you find a specific location without more research.

Ancestry says you can: “Connect with new relatives,” but this will only be true if those particular persons you are related to have also had Ancestry test their DNA.

Family Tree DNA is the oldest and largest of the genealogical testing facilities. It advertises: “We have 713,416 records —the largest ancestry DNA database in the world!” Their YDNA test, used to track the male line genetically, costs $169.

Both Ancestry and Family Tree are in the business of testing and make no claims beyond the chance to connect with others in your same line. Another player in the testing market, 23andMe, is more interested in selling your DNA data than it is in matching you with a family member.

23andMe has tested more than 800,000 persons. Besides submitting a test sample, those being tested are asked to complete a questionnaire pertaining to details of their lives. The company has used these questionnaires to build a giant database of genetic information now for sale to other companies. Read the rest of this entry »

The following news release comes from Ancestry.com at the RootsTech conference with a new story centric website and groundbreaking advancements in AncestryDNA that will revolutionize how people discover their ancestors:

(PROVO, Utah) – February 11, 2015 – Ancestry, the world’s leading family history service, is ushering in the next generation of family history, with the debut of an updated story centric website, groundbreaking advancements in AncestryDNA that will revolutionize how people discover their ancestors, and the anticipated addition of nearly 1 billion new records to the largest collection of historical records online in 2015.

“We’re incredibly excited about all the amazing things we have in store for our members this year,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry. “In 2015, we’ll be launching some of the most innovative new features and services in our company’s history.  We think these additions are going to make Ancestry an even more powerful resource for our existing users, while also making family history easier, more accessible, and more fun for those just getting started.  We’re also proud of our commitment to continue investing in new content.  Our 2015 content roadmap will be anchored by our expected fall release of more than 170 million Probate and Wills images, one of the most exciting, engaging, and interesting content collections we’ve ever published.”

Over the next year, Ancestry will introduce breakthrough features and compelling content – made possible by powerful advancements in science and technology – that will give you an easier, richer and more engaging way to discover and tell your family story, and make your family history journey easy and engaging, through a highly customized, relevant and historically rich experience rooted in discovery and storytelling.

Major Product Developments

A new and improved Ancestry website will make it easier for anyone to discover and tell the rich, unique story of their family, through new features and site enhancements that will reinvent the ways Ancestry members create and showcase their family story.  The new site experience is currently in limited Beta and will be demonstrated at RootsTech on Friday, Feb. 13 at 1:00 pm MT (Room 151) as well as at the Ancestry booth. Visitors to the Ancestry booth will be able to opt in to participate in the Beta.

Ancestry mobile will introduce a full search feature in the iOS app that will empower users to access 15 billion historical records and hints anytime, anywhere in the native app environment. The intuitive interface will make both simple and advanced searches easier, while the presentation of search results will also help you quickly identify and prioritize the most important results, making search less complicated.  The Ancestry mobile team will showcase version 1 search in the Ancestry booth and discuss search and other mobile features in length during an FGS class, “Ancestry’s Mobile World,” on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 1:00 pm MT.

Ancestry will also remain committed to providing the best in educational resources with the launch of Ancestry Academy in April. The new resource will offer how-to tutorials and historical guidance to help experts and novices alike. Released as a limited Beta this week, Ancestry Academy will be showcased via demo in the Exhibit Hall on Friday, Feb. 13 at 3 pm MT. Those interested in participating in this Beta should stop by the Ancestry booth for more information.

Continued Growth for AncestryDNA

With a database of over 700,000 genotyped members, AncestryDNA has generated over one billion cousin connections to date.  In 2015, we project this database to grow to exceed well over one million genotyped members, resulting in even more and higher quality cousin matches. Read the rest of this entry »