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 »

On February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.

Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”

For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.

In truth, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.” One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Legends vary on how the martyr’s name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day.

Gradually, February 14 became a date for exchanging love messages, poems and simple gifts such as flowers.

Sandy on February 9th, 2015

If you’re a family historian looking for ancestors in Ulster, Northern Ireland, Ulster Ancestry looks like an interesting and useful resource. I’ve been hearing about the Scots-Irish, especially in North Carolina for several years so the following article written in Ulster Ancestry explains a lot. I grew up in Scotland learning about Irish names in Scotland and Scottish names in Ireland because people moved around according to where they found employment.  After a couple of generations they claimed Irish or Scottish roots. It comes as no surprise to me that with the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, the Scots-Irish, in interesting contrast to many of their Scottish cousins, were among the most determined adherents of the rebel cause.

See below:

“I love Highlanders, and I love Lowlanders, but when I come to that branch of our race that has been grafted on to the Ulster stem I take off my hat in veneration and awe” Lord Rosebery

Let us begin by asking a simple question-who are the Scots-Irish?  Simple questions very rarely have simple answers, and the answer to this one is more complex than most.  Much depends, moreover, on where in the world it is posed.  In Britain the term is virtually unknown, and most people would assume that it meant some kind of hybridization between the Irish and the Scots.  Only the Protestant communities of Northern Ireland would generally recognize what is meant, though very few would now accept the designation for themselves, preferring to be described as British or Ulstermen.  Only in North America, where the term was invented, would one be likely to encounter an immediate recognition; but even here there are problems.  Many of the descendents of the original Scots-Irish settlers would happily wear kilts and tartan on commemorative days, though this would have been a shock to their ancestors, who took particular trouble to distance themselves from all things Celtic and Gaelic.  The task of this article is to attempt what is always a dangerous endeavor: the separation of myth and reality, and thus uncover the roots of one of the most remarkable branches of the Scottish-and Irish-race.

The story begins with an ending. Read the rest of this entry »

concord-ncMany people have heard of Concord, North Carolina because of NASCAR and the Charlotte Motor Speedway which is actually in Cabarrus County’s Concord and home to Hendrickmtorsports and others. What you might not realize is Concord as a beautiful and historic place to live. I recently came across the following article, which appeared in Living Places and would like to share it with you. Please also note the highlighted link Living Places so that you can visit the online publication often:

“The North Union Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2012, The Gombach Group.

The North Union Street Historic District comprises nearly 200 properties in a twenty-block area just north and west of Concord’s central business district. The district takes its name from the six-block stretch of North Union Street between Grove and Buffalo Avenues, a broad residential thoroughfare with a canopy of mature oak trees lined by many of the district’s (and the city’s) finest residences. The North Union Street Historic District experienced most of it development during the 1880-1930 period, during which Concord transformed itself from a small courthouse village of barely one thousand inhabitants into a major textile manufacturing center of 12,000 people and gave birth to Cannon Mills Company, one of the nation’s largest textile firms. The growth of North Carolina towns such as Concord created significant urban middle and upper classes for the first time in the state’s history, and the history of the North Union Street Historic District also reflects this development. The North Union Street area was the preferred residential neighborhood for Concord’s leading industrialists, merchants, and professionals, and Concord’s impressive growth in population and wealth found its finest architectural expression in the houses and six churches of the district. Fine examples of every major architectural style of the period — Greek RevivalItalianateSecond EmpireQueen AnneColonial Revival, Bungalow, and Jacobethan Revival — may be found in the North Union Street Historic District, as well as more representative examples of these architectural idioms. At the north end of the district is the Odell-Locke-Randolph Cotton Mill, already listed in the National Register, whose expansion set Concord’s economic progress in motion at the end of Reconstruction. The North Union Street Historic District has remained desirable to the present day, and retains one of the finest collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth century residential architecture in North Carolina.

Cabarrus County was established in 1792. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on February 5th, 2015

Launched in 2013 Founders Online, is a tool for seamless searching across the papers of our Founding Fathers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton.

Our Archivist of the United States (AOTUS) David Ferriero’s most recent blog post has written that since 2013 the database has grown to a fully searchable tool with over 165,000. This is quite an accomplishment since it includes thousand to documents that have not yet appeared in the published volumes.

The site has had nearly 750,000 unique visitors—an average of over 42,000 people each month.

We continue to hear remarkable stories about how researchers are using the site and the surprising items they’ve found. Here are some unique uses of the content found on Founders Online:

Founders Online is cited in Harvard’s Arnoldia magazine article, “The Pawpaw, a Forgotten North American Fruit Tree”.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art used Founders Online to conduct research for their catalogue of American silver in their collection.

Users can also search Founders Online for Oaths of Allegiance during the Revolutionary War. One noteworthy oath is the one taken by Alexander Hamilton when he was Washington’s Aide-de-camp.

Please click on Founders Online to search the database. Also click on AOTUS National Archives to keep up-to-date with the useful information published by Mr. Ferrerio.

I’d like to share an article published on Daily Finance that I think everyone should read. You can also click on Daily Finance to see the video. The stores that sell these supplements are, Target, Wal-Mart,,Walgreens, and GNC. Prepared to be amazed at the perfidy of the companies that manufacture the herbal supplements for these giants:

Testing of herbal supplements sold by major retailers including Target and Walmart revealed that 79 percent have no trace of the herbs on the products’ labels, according to an investigation by the New York State Attorney General.

The testing led Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to send letters to GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens to halt the sale of their store brand herbal supplements including Echinacea, Ginseng, and St. John’s Wort. Walmart’s products fared worst in the testing, the attorney general said, with only 4 percent containing DNA of the herbs on the product labels.

“This investigation makes one thing abundantly clear: the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements,” Schneiderman said. “The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry. Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal.”
Not only are consumers being duped, he said, but it is also dangerous to use supplements when they contain ingredients that aren’t on the label.

Unlike drugs, which are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and subject to testing and clinical trials, herbal supplements are largely unregulated. Even still, many supplements have been recalled by the FDA when they’ve been found to be dangerous.

The industry has also found itself taken to task by the Federal Trade Commission over the years, typically over claims the supplements could achieve certain results — like weight loss — when there was no supporting evidence.

“Consumers already had ample reason to doubt most of the claims made by herbal supplement manufacturers, who have precious little scientific evidence indicating these herbs’ effectiveness in the first place,” said David Schardt, senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “But when the advertised herbs aren’t even in many of the pills, it’s a sign that this poorly regulated industry is in desperate need of reform. Until then, and perhaps even after then, consumers should stop wasting their money in the herbal supplements aisle.”

Here are some of the findings of the the Attorney General’s testing by retailer:


  • Six “Herbal Plus” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, ginseng, garlic, echinacea and saw palmetto.
  • Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: garlic. One bottle of Saw Palmetto tested positive for containing DNA from the saw palmetto plant, while three others didn’t. The remaining four supplement types yielded mixed results, but none revealed DNA from the labeled herb.
  • Of 120 DNA tests run on 24 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 22 percent of the time.
  • Contaminants identified included asparagus, rice, primrose, alfalfa/clover, spruce, ranuncula, houseplant, allium, legume, saw palmetto and echinacea.

Target (TGT):

  • Six “Up & Up” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, valerian root, garlic, echinacea and saw palmetto.
  • Three supplements showed nearly consistent presence of the labeled contents: echinacea (with one sample identifying rice), garlic and saw palmetto. The remaining three supplements showed no DNA from the labeled herb.
  • Of 90 DNA tests run on 18 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 41 percent of the time.
  • Contaminants identified included allium, French bean, asparagus, pea, wild carrot and saw palmetto.

Walgreens (WBA):

  • Six “Finest Nutrition” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, ginseng, garlic, echinacea and saw palmetto.
  • Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: saw palmetto. The remaining five supplements yielded mixed results, with one sample of garlic showing appropriate DNA. The other bottles yielded no DNA from the labeled herb.
  • Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 18 percent of the time.
  • Contaminants identified included allium, rice, wheat, palm, daisy and dracaena (houseplant).

Walmart (WMT):

  • Six “Spring Valley” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, ginseng, garlic, echinacea and saw palmetto.
  • None of the supplements tested consistently revealed DNA from the labeled herb. One bottle of garlic had a minimal showing of garlic DNA, as did one bottle of saw palmetto. All remaining bottles failed to produce DNA verifying the labeled herb.
  • Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 4 percent of the time.
  • Contaminants identified included allium, pine, wheat/grass, rice mustard, citrus, dracaena (houseplant) and cassava (tropical tree root).


The following notification comes from the British National Archives:

“We are pleased to announce that our partners at Findmypast have published the Poverty Relief Loans records (record series T 91) from our collection online for the first time.

The Irish Reproductive Loan Fund was a privately funded micro credit scheme set up in 1824 to provide small loans to the ‘industrious poor’ – those most affected by poverty and famine.

This collection of almost 700,000 records, which spans the period of the Irish Potato Famine, provides unique insight into the lives of those living in Ireland during the time. The handwritten ledgers and account books reveal the changing fortunes of Irish ancestors and their subsequent movements in Ireland and across the world.

These records are now available to search and download online giving everyone the opportunity to research individuals and families to find out more about where they lived, their financial situation, their social status, and more.*

You may also be interested in our research guide, which includes information on how to trace Irish ancestors in birth, marriage and death records. “

TheGenealogist has added thousands of Missing in Action records to their database. The news release is as follows:

TheGenealogist has released over 800,000 records to their growing military collection, including 574,666 Killed in Action records, 226,214 unique Missing in Action records, and 13,967 other records.

Researching a soldier from among the Killed in Action records of World War I, we can find the famous war poet Wilfred Owen (Second Lt. W.E.S. Owen of the Manchester Regiment) who was shot and killed in November 1918, the news of his tragic death reaching his parents as the Armistice bells were ringing.

Scrolling to Military Records on TheGenealogist site, we select “Casualty Lists” from the drop down menu. Under status we then choose “Killed” and enter the name of our ancestor, such as W.E.S. Owen in this example, and the results will appear for us to choose from.


The second class of newly released records on TheGenealogist is for those for Missing in Action. This was the status given to soldiers such as John Kipling, the son of the famous writer Rudyard Kipling.

Killed at the battle of Loos, John Kipling’s body was not found until 1992, although some historians now dispute that the identification of his body had been done satisfactorily and that a different officer is buried in the grave now attributed to him. If this is so,then John Kipling is still Missing in Action.

Kipling had written to his father before the battle asking for an aluminium identification disc, “with a string through it”. Officially issued British identity tags of the time were made of fibre and so didn’t always survive well in battle. Read the rest of this entry »

On, January 25th every year Scots all over the world gather to celebrate the birth of Scotland’s Bard, Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796).

Robert Burns, born in Alloway, Ayreshire, Scotland, is also known as the Ploughman Poet.  His popularity back then (and now) is probably due to the fact that he wrote in the same way the Scottish people spoke. He had empathy for the plight of others (including creatures great and small). His works give a unique and vivid insight into the social circumstances of his era—the aspirations and trials of “the brotherhood of man” were vividly depicted.

Although he lived in near poverty most of his life Burns gained entrance to the homes of the wealthy. Despite being a humble farm worker, he was well educated.  He read Shakespeare and could read and write in French and Latin. He was also a competent fiddler and could sight read music.

Burns was not a heavy drinker, although his works might suggest that this was the case. His health and his wallet didn’t allow it.

Robert Burns succumbed to a form of rheumatic fever, which would have been treatable today, on 26th July, 1796, the same day that his wife gave birth to their ninth child, Maxwell. He was still a young man at 37 years of age and it is said that his early demise was probably hastened by a course of sea-bathing in icy waters.

He was a prolific writer and wrote hundreds of poems and songs, which have become cherished around the world and continue to resonate over two centuries later.

I have so often heard people remark, “so much for the best laid plans of mice and men” and have occasionally often wondered if they knew those words originated from Burns’ poem “To a Mouse”.

While he was plowing (ploughing) one of his fields, he disturbed a mouse’s nest. It was his thoughts on what he had done that led to his poem. If you’d like to click on the video below to hear the poem and witness some of the realism that is as meaningful now as they were in Burns’ time.

Sandy on January 22nd, 2015

Findmypast.co.uk has added an impressive line-up of Irish newspapers to their collection. This news release has a list of recently added publications:

New Irish newspapers continue to be added to our collection all the time and the first month of 2015 has been no different. Since our update last month, we added over 1.1 million new newspaper articles, including 10 new titles. The new additions include 4 new Dublin newspapers as well as 3 from Munster, 2 from Connaught and 1 from Ulster.
The Irish Newspaper Collection now stands at over 5.3 million articles and 60 different titles. They cover 152 years (1749-1900) of history in the cities, towns and villages of Ireland.

Explore Irish newspapers

As well as the 10 new titles added to the collection recently, a further 34 existing publications have had additional articles and years added. This includes substantial updates for The Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent (98,917), Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet (89,397) and Wexford Independent (86,781).

Here’s of the latest newspapers to join the collection and the years’ they covered as of 19 January 2015:

Dublin Courier – 1766

Dublin Evening Post – 1780, 1829

Dublin Observer – 1831, 32, 34

Dublin Weekly Herald – 1838-42

Galway Patriot – 1836-39

Roscommon Journal and Western Impartial Reporter – 1829-43

Skibbereen & West Carbery Eagle; or South Western Advertiser – 1867-70

Vindicator – 1839, 41-46

Waterford News – 1848-49

Wexford Conservative – 1832-46

Remember to keep checking back on the site as we add new newspaper articles all the time.

If you’re struggling to write your family history and imagine the life your ancestors led, explore how they grew up, were educated, dressed, and married, the new website History Lines could give you a jump start.

Personally, I’ve often wondered how events and cultural influences of the day affected my ancestors daily lives. History Lines helps you to view your family in the context of historical events that were bound to part of their conversations and how they viewed what might happen in the future. This new web could help you to experience life in your ancestor’s shoes and gain an understanding of how events and cultural influences shaped their  lives.

History Lines creates a carefully-crafted personal history of your ancestor and tells the story of your ancestors in a whole new way.

I think the potential is so good and I’ve shared some of the information what it’s all about straight from the site. Please click on the links I’ve added to visit the site where you’ll find that beta version is live and people are being added as fast as possible. See below:

How is History Lines Different?

When you write personal histories of your ancestors, you start the arduous process from scratch with a blank sheet of digital paper. There’s a better way!

History Lines gets you started with a well-written story that provides all of the relevant historical and cultural background to describe your ancestor’s life in surprising detail. You take it from there.

Many family historians want to add personal details about their ancestors that they’ve accumulated through their own research. All of the content on History Lines is editable, allowing you to add or remove to your heart’s delight. You’re in control.

Another important aspect of the History Lines experience is the accuracy of the historical information.

We employ academically trained historical, sociological and anthropological researchers. And we utilize a system that requires our researchers to double-check each others’ facts. In addition, all our sources are cited using rigorous reference principles and format. You can quote us on that!

History Lines is a unique family history research and discovery resource that is in active development now. It will be publicly available within the next few weeks as a beta site. When we launch initially, we’ll have data covering several countries and centuries. We’ll expand from there.

Our ultimate goal is to provide a detailed and fascinating story for every person who has ever lived on planet Earth.


Sandy on January 19th, 2015

Instead of today’s pettifogging, please keep the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. alive in the way this great man intended:


scotland-ocean-predator,jpgI remember growing up in Scotland finding fossilized shells in the Ochil hills (quite a distance above sea level) near Stirling, an area about as far from the ocean as is possible to be in that country. I also heard talk of a discovery of a fossilized whale type creature in a former peat bog in the same area and thought it might be of interest to share a recent article in Discovery Online. The write-up describes an ocean predator that lived about 170 million years ago, labeled Scotland’s first known native marine reptile at the top of its food chain. Perhaps the tales of the Loch Ness monster, Nessie, doesn’t sound so crazy after all.

See below:

The formidable ocean predator, described in the latest issue of the Scottish Journal of Geology, might have munched on dinosaurs and sharks, since both also lived at or around what is now the Isle of Skye. The predator was an ichthyosaur, meaning an extinct marine reptile that had a pointy head, four flippers and a vertical tail. Together, these features made such animals look like sinister dolphins.

A group of paleontologists working in Scotland studied the remains of the newly discovered ichthyosaur, named Dearcmhara shawcrossi. Dearcmhara –[/i ]pronounced jark vara — is Scottish Gaelic for “marine lizard.” The species is one of just a handful ever to have been given a Gaelic name.

“Believe it or not, this is the first distinctly Scottish marine reptile species that has ever been described, and our paper is the first paper on ichthyosaurs from Scotland,” project leader Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences told Discovery News.

Remains of the animal were found at the Isle of Skye’s Bearreraig Bay, Read the rest of this entry »

Former 1st lady Laura Bush will be keynote speaker at the increasingly popular conference RootsTech 2015, in Salt Lake City, Utah, describing generations in one particular of the country’s most well-known families. Her life in the Whitehouse, including her viewpoint on difficult post-9/11 days and the importance of family members will be discussed. RootsTech is the “largest family members history conference in the world.,

Bush is a mother, grandmother and best-promoting author, founder of the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., and chairwoman of the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.

Our former First Lady will be joined at the Februay 12-14 conference by daughter Jenna Bush Hager, who is at present a contributor for NBC’s “Currently Show” and editor-at-substantial for Southern Living magazine. Hager is also the mother of Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager.

“As we celebrate households across generations this year, I can’t think of more fitting guests to have join us,” Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, which hosts the RootsTech conference, said in a news release. “This will be quite memorable.”

FamilySearch, the host organization for RootsTech, is a genealogy arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The following information on Genealogy Roadshow comes from Ancestry.com. The fascinating line-up will make interesting viewing:

From descendants of the infamous pirate Blackbeard to heroes of the Holocaust, PBS’ GENEALOGY ROADSHOW uncovers family secrets in the series’ second season, which premieres Tuesday, January 13th at 8:00 p.m. ET and airs Tuesday through February 24th.

Genealogists Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco combine history and science to uncover stories of diverse Americans in and around St. Louis, Philadelphia and New Orleans.  Each individual’s story links to a larger community (and in some cases, national) history, to become part of America’s rich cultural tapestry.

Below are episode descriptions for each of six episodes:

New Orleans – Cabildo (January 13th at 8:00 p.m.). A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the famous Cabildo, home of the Louisiana State Museum. A couple whose ancestors hail from the same small Italian town explore the chance they may be related; a woman is desperate to find out who committed a gruesome murder in her ancestor’s past; a home held by one family for more than a century renders a fascinating story; and a woman discovers the difficult journey her ancestor took on the path to freedom from slavery. To see the complete schedule click Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on January 8th, 2015

Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. Today he would have turned 80.  His musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager.

Thanks for the memories…

timecapsulcontentsCNN reported experts at a Boston museum opened up a 1795 time capsule buried by Sam Adams and Paul Revere in front of live-cameras Tuesday, January 6, 2015. It was buried by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere in 1795.

The more than 200-year-old antique — thought by experts to possibly be the oldest unopened time capsule in the U.S. — was located in a granite cornerstone at the Massachusetts State House by workers repairing a water leak.

Experts were then called in and the artifact was removed and taken by police escort to the Museum of Fine Arts to be X-rayed, according to WBZ-TV.

The Boston Herald reported that officials want to examine the capsule’s contents via X-ray Sunday before actually opening it up.

The latest news from ScotlandsPeople is as follows:

The 1914 births reveal how patriotism gripped parents of babies after Britain declared war on 4 August. The final few months of 1914 witnessed a new fashion for naming boys Kitchener after Lord Kitchener,Secretary of State for War. Field Marshal Lord Kitchener’s face adorned thefamous recruiting posters after the outbreak of war. He was responsible forincreasing the British Army from six regular and fourteen divisions to seventydivisions by the creation of the ‘New Armies’ named after him.

Among the 123,394 births in 1914, we found 21 boys given the first or middle name of Kitchener, including John Kitchener Hay, born 13 December 1914. His mother Beatrice registered her son’s birth, because herhusband John was already in uniform as a lance sergeant in the Royal ArmyMedical Corps. A spirit dealer’s assistant in civilian life, John Hay survivedthe First World War, resumed working as a barman and died in Dundee in 1926,aged 43.

We also identified three girls who were given Kitchener as a middle name; all were born in 1916, the year that Lord Kitchener perished when HMS Hampshire was sunk off Orkney. Between 1914 and 1918 a total of 73 Scottish children were namedKitchener, and 9 boys named Horatio Herbert, the Field Marshal’s first names. Nofewer than 43 boys were named Jellicoe during this period, after Admiral JohnJellicoe, Commander of the Fleet and, from 1916, First Sea Lord. Read the rest of this entry »


We’ve been hearing a lot about the sophisticated calendars and writing systems of the Maya and also about their ritual sacrifices. We still, however, don’t know what caused their civilization to collapse around 900 A.D. Although it has been suggested before that a drought hit the Mayans, the new results do strengthen the case.

A team of researchers from Rice University and Louisiana State University could be one step closer to cracking the mystery, thanks in part to evidence from a massive sinkhole located in the Caribbean Sea call the Great Blue Hole located off the coast of Belize. It was made popular by the legendary conservationist Jacques Cousteau who visited and declared it one of the best scuba diving sites in the world.

The team analyzed sediment samples from the Blue Hole and examining  the variations in color grain size, and layer thickness. Also examined were samples from a body of water attached to the mainland called the Belize Central Shelf Lagoon. The differences in the samples ratio of titanium to aluminum between the two locations helped provide an estimate for rainfall levels.

Low levels of precipitation and a drop in the frequency of tropical cyclones from 800 to 900 A.D. was revealed in the Yucatan peninsula. This suggests the region was hit by a major drought at the time .

The analysis also indicated that another major drought hit the region between 1000 and 1100 A.D., around when the Maya city of Chichen Itza is believed to have fallen.

To learn more click on the video below:

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Sandy on December 31st, 2014

Happy New Year from SpittalStreet.com

Sandy on December 28th, 2014

I’d like to share a charming account of William Morrison a native of Scotland who arrived on Ellis Island on the steamship Caledonia more than a hundred years ago. Mr. Morrison was a coal miner and was, according to his papers, en route to Matherville, Ill. The article appeared in QCOnline.com and was written by Stephen Elliott:

“ALEDO — The tattered, old document in the Mercer County Courthouse opened a small window of one man’s life.

His name was William Morrison, 32. A native of Scotland, he traveled across the Atlantic on the steamship Caledonia more than a century ago.

According to his naturalization papers, Mr. Morrison arrived on Ellis Island and declared his intentions to become a United States citizen. The papers, certifying his arrival, note that Mr. Morrison would live in Matherville, Ill.

He was a coal miner.

His is just one of the thousands of documents Mike and Viola Walter, of Manhattan, Kan., have spent months researching and preserving. As part of FamilySearch, they are one of 275 couples around the world providing digital imaging of probate estate files along with naturalization records.

In 2013, Mercer County Circuit Clerk Jeff Benson signed an agreement with FamilySearch. The genealogical organization has digitally captured images of the county’s probate records from 1840 to 1930.

They will be available online for anyone seeking information on their ancestors, Read the rest of this entry »

Whether North Korea was, or was not, the cause of the cyber attack last week at Sony Pictures in response to “The Interview” is, in my personal opinion, only the tip of the iceberg. Now we have Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Live and Sony Corp’s PlayStation networks experiencing user connection problems on Christmas Day and beyond, for which a hacker group called Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility. I think we can all “get it” that these criminals find it easy to hurt people and dumb comments from Sony executives are irrelevant in the scheme of things—just more fodder for the likes of Al Sharpton (he owes $4 million to the IRS and nobody cares–oh well)  and the AGOTUS. And, apart from the loss of revenue and embarrassment caused, as I mentioned,  it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

A few months ago, I called my congressman from North Carolina, Richard Hudson (R) regarding our fragile National Grid and the potential hacking problems that could cause a problem of catastrophic proportions. It’s probably one of two calls I’ve made since 1970, but thought it was important enough to raise awareness to push forward with a congressional bill that had been shunted to the side. I have mention (tongue-in-cheek) that after talking via telephone with the “bulldogs at the door” I received a form letter from my congressman’s office about the Ukraine (a totally different subject, eh) with a fake signature to boot.

I will add that this year we learned about series of high-profile security breaches, from the aftermath of the Target and Home Depot hacking, to a number of attacks on other national retailers, which included  Michaels, Goodwill and Neiman Marcus. Don’t forget too that there was the massive breach at JP Morgan Chase, which compromised personal information of more than 83 million households.

Despite being shut out of most movie theaters across the country, The Interview starring Seth Rogen made $15 million via online downloads.

I’m uploading the following re-posts from SpittalStreet.com in the hope that anyone reading this blog will  think about seriousness of an escalating situation where mischief makers can hack in to anything they want, the first from June 2013 and the question of the National Grid 2014:

Hello Xbox users: Have you heard the latest about Microsoft’s great patent application?

We’ve been hearing a lot about the lack of privacy these days and this one is very big (très grand, muy grande). You may remember the concerns that people have raised over Smart TVs being ripe for exploitation that would permit hackers to watch you watch TV, or one of the less nefarious concerns that allowed the Smart TV to recognize when you left the room by dimming the screen to concern energy. Not a problem?

Now Microsoft has a new patent application (still an application not yet granted), which describes how the Xbox One console has the ability to monitor your body, eyes, and heartbeat to determine if you’re actually watching advertising then reward you for it with Xbox achievements.

The patent is called “Awards and achievements across TV ecosystem” and describes camera sensors monitoring the eye movements and heartbeats of TV viewers. The console will know if you’re in the room when an ad break is on. It will also be able to know if you’re actually watching the ad or if you’re doing something else. Don’t bother to try gaming the system by turning off the lights, the Xbox will be able to monitor you, even in the dark.

What they’re saying is people need to be bribed to sit still and watch a commercial. The patent application gives the explanation, “With the proliferation of digital video recording devices, advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to introduce their advertisements to viewers.” I say, try creating better ads. There are a few good ones out there.

The general idea behind this Pavlovian approach could be the fact that a rewards system might seem a natural progression for gamers—the concept of advancing the plot to unlock the new weapon that gives one the ability to shoot the bad guy in the cojones could  be defined as a reward.

Microsoft is not alone.  Intel is now bringing this technology into people’s living rooms. The company has developed a camera-equipped set-top box that tracks viewers of its anticipated Web TV service.  Like the Microsoft concept, the box monitors direction of gaze, so it can tell if you’re paying attention to the ads or not.

And, Jell-O recently used this technology to create a vending machine that detects people’s ages to dispense  free snacks exclusively to adults. If a child approaches the vending machine an alarm sounds and the machine asked the child to step away.

This is all considered intelligent marketing. However, if you’re not experiencing the gee-whiz (or WTF) factor yet, you might want to consider it, because it is all likely advance to the next level.

National Grid: Major Blackout hits Northeast United States

I can hardly believe eleven years have passed since the major power outage in the Eastern States. A difficult situation for all who experienced it, everyone should realize that our National Grid is vulnerable.

The Shield Act H.R. 2417 explains what needs to be done to ensure our safety. Given the horrendous situations taking place overseas and here in the U.S., I personally believe the vulnerability of our National Grid should be taken very seriously. By the way the Russian National Grid is not vulnerable. Please remember that it’s not only our Latino friends entering through the our open borders, there are also some very bad people walking into this country who don’t have our best interests at heart.

The history of  the August 14, 2003, event is laid out below:

“On August 14, 2003, a major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Beginning at 4:10 p.m. ET, 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes. Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as Toronto and Ottawa, Canada. Yes, our friends in Toronto and Quebec Canada were also affected.

Although power companies were able to resume some service in as little as two hours, power remained off in other places for more than a day. The outage stopped trains and elevators, and disrupted everything from cellular telephone service to operations at hospitals to traffic at airports. In New York City, it took more than two hours for passengers to be evacuated from stalled subway trains. Small business owners were affected when they lost expensive refrigerated stock. The loss of use of electric water pumps interrupted water service in many areas. There were even some reports of people being stranded mid-ride on amusement park roller coasters. At the New York Stock Exchange and bond market, though, trading was able to continue thanks to backup generators.

Authorities soon calmed the fears of jittery Americans that terrorists may have been responsible for the blackout, but they were initially unable to determine the cause of the massive outage. American and Canadian representatives pointed figures at each other, while politicians (oh yes!) took the opportunity to point out major flaws in the region’s outdated power grid. Finally, an investigation by a joint U.S.-Canada task force traced the problem back to an Ohio company, FirstEnergy Corporation. When the company’s EastLake plant shut down unexpectedly after overgrown trees came into contact with a power line, it triggered a series of problems that led to a chain reaction of outages. FirstEnergy was criticized for poor line maintenance, and more importantly, for failing to notice and address the problem in a timely manner–before it affected other areas.

Despite concerns, there were very few reports of looting or other blackout-inspired crime. In New York City, the police department, out in full force, actually recorded about 100 fewer arrests than average. In some places, citizens even took it upon themselves to mitigate the effects of the outage, by assisting elderly neighbors or helping to direct traffic in the absence of working traffic lights.

In New York City alone, the estimated cost of the blackout was more than $500 million.

Sandy on December 23rd, 2014

John Robert “Joe” Cocker, OBE (Order of the British Empire) was an amazing English rock and blues singer who burst on the scene in the 1960’s. He was born May 20, 1944 in the industrial town of Sheffield, England and died December 22, 2014 in Crawford, Colorado.

Sandy on December 19th, 2014

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

The following useful information published on Ancestry.com’s blog has the potential to help you research and view your ancestry in a whole new light:

We’ve launched our latest free research guide for the great state of Montana. Here are five things you might not know about Montana.

  1.  When settlers began arriving in Montana in earnest in the 1860s and 1870s, popular routes were by steamboat up the Missouri River or on the Bozeman Trail, a spur off of the Oregon Trail. In the 1880s railroads were added to the routes available to settlers.
  2. Throughout the years, Montana has had booms of gold, silver, and copper. Its wealth of mineral reserves earned the state the nickname, “The Treasure State.” Other nicknames include Big Sky Country, the Land of Shining Mountains (another nod to the state’s precious mineral abundance), and the Stubtoe State (earned by its rugged terrain).
  3. The copper boom in Butte in the 1880s led to a struggle for leadership in the industry and was led by William A. Clark, Marcus Daly, and F. Augustus Heinze – the “Copper Kings.”
  4. Three wars between the U.S. and Native American tribes were fought in Montana Territory in the late 1860s and 1870s – Red Cloud’s War, the Great Sioux War of 1876, and the Nez Perce War. The Battle of Little Bighorn (a.k.a., Custer’s Last Stand) was fought during the Great Sioux War of 1876.
  5. Women won the right to vote in Montana in 1914, six years ahead of 19th amendment. Just two years later in 1916, the state sent two women, Maggie Smith Hathaway and Emma Ingalls, to the state legislature, and Jeanette Rankin to the U.S. House of Representatives – the first woman elected to Congress.

Want to learn more about the “Treasure State?” Download our free state research guide for Montana.

Check out the free guides for other U.S. states as this collection nears completion.

Learning about the history and what resources are available for the places your ancestor lived can give your research a solid boost. Our state research guide series includes historical background, a chronology, helpful information on census and vital record availability, highlighted collection for that place on Ancestry.com, and links to important resources beyond Ancestry.com.”

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Sandy on December 17th, 2014

Happy_HanukkahStarting on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. This year Hanukkah began at sundown yesterday, December 16, 2014. 

A miracle happened  in 168 B.C.E. when the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. Many of the Jewish people were afraid to fight back because of the kind of payback that would take place.

One year later in 167 B.C.E. the emperor Antiochus forced the Jewish people to worship Greek gods and made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. Jewish resistance started in the village of Modiin near Jerusalem, when a Jewish High Priest called, Mattathias, was ordered to bow down to an idol and eat the flesh of a pig. These practices are forbidden to Jews. Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward to take his place, Mattathias killed the villager as well as the Greek officer. His five sons and the other villagers then killed the remaining soldiers.

More people joined the resistance against the Greeks, which Read the rest of this entry »

Continuing my previous post about the precarious situation brought about by human predators. Brought to us by CNN news the Northern white rhino is teetering on the brink of extinction with only five left worldwide.

I’ve been a fan of James Rollins amazing Six Sigma novels for several years and I think his latest, The Sixth Extinction (Sigma Force), is the best to date—at least until his next book is published.

At the start of each book Rollins publishes informational nuggets of truth vs. fiction to get the juices flowing.  In this his latest novel he starts with “Notes from the scientific record” and at the end we are usually informed what is fact and what is fiction in his narrative. The proverbial saying, “truth is stranger than fiction” is fitting here and carries a message to everyone.

The “Notes from the scientific record” launches the story by giving the reader a huge hint about the apocalyptic narrative. They serve to remind us that life on this planet has always been a balancing act, a complex web of fragile inter-connectivity and easily collapsible. I hope readers take the real warning message to heart and be motivated to learn more.

Mass extinction has occurred five times in earth’s geological past and the following three are mentioned in the author’s “Notes…”:

  • A hundred million years ago most marine life died off
  • Hitting both earth and sea at the end of the Permian Period, 90% of the world’s species almost ended all life on earth
  • The most recent extinction took out the dinosaurs, ushering in the era of mammals and altering the world for ever.

These events, however, were caused by climate changes or shifts in plate tectonics.  It’s thought that an asteroid eliminated the dinosaurs. Now we are close to another cataclysmic event caused by humans, which is much worse than any other. To quote Rollins, we areneck-deep in a sixth mass extinction. Every hour, three more species go extinct, totaling thirty thousand a year. Worst of all, the rate of this die-off is continually rising. At this very moment, nearly half of all amphibians, a quarter of all mammals, and a third of all reefs balance at the edge of extinction. Even a third of all conifer trees teeter at that brink.

There is a report released in May by Duke University regarding human activity that has driven species into extinction many times more since the arrival of modern man.

The Sixth Extinction is aptly named and a great reminder that we should be paying attention to the truth.

The book cover summary is as follows:  “A remote military research station sends out a frantic distress call, ending with a chilling final command:  Kill us all!  Personnel from the neighboring base rush in to discover everyone already dead-and not just the scientists, but every living thing for fifty square miles is annihilated:  every animal, plant, and insect, even bacteria.

The land is entirely sterile-and the blight is spreading.

To halt the inevitable, Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma must unravel a threat that rises out of the distant past, to a time when Antarctica was green and all life on Earth balanced upon the blade of a knife.  Following clues from an ancient map rescued from the lost Library of Alexandria, Sigma will discover the truth about an ancient continent, about a new form of death buried under miles of ice.

From millennia-old secrets out of the frozen past to mysteries buried deep in the darkest jungles of today, Sigma will face its greatest challenge to date: stopping the coming extinction of mankind.

But is it already too late?”

To purchase from Amazon click on the link  The Sixth Extinction (Sigma Force)


christmas-truceI’ve traveled around the world about three times during my life. Many years have passed since those days, but it’s safe to say I’ve journeyed extensively in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the South Pacific, Australia and Central America and more. I’ve always found regular folks to be friendly and kind to people visiting their countries—the people governing some of these countries tend to differ.

The following article written by Trevor Hammond of Newspapers.com speaks to the truth of my comment as folks remember the 100th anniversary of the legendary Christmas Truce during World War I (WWI). The Christmas Truce was the informal cease-fire between enemy soldiers in what was called No Man’s Land between the trenches. They socialized with each other, sang carols, exchanged small gifts, buried the dead, and even played soccer and posed for photographs together:

On Christmas Eve of 1914 and the following day, an amazing thing happened along the Western Front. The rank-and-file soldiers spontaneously arranged informal cease-fires with enemy soldiers in the trenches opposite them and, in many cases, met in the No Man’s Land between the trenches to socialize with each other, singing carols, exchanging small gifts, and burying the dead (and in some instances, even playing soccer or taking photographs together). While these impromptu truces by no means involved the entire Western Front, they were widespread, especially between German and British soldiers (though in a few places French and Belgian troops as well).

Reports of these spur-of-the moment cease-fires didn’t hit the newspapers until December 31, but once the news broke, stories of the individual Christmas truces began appearing in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps one of the more surprising discoveries to come out of the Christmas truces, both for the Allied soldiers and newspaper readers back home, was that despite stories of German atrocities, the enemy soldiers in the trenches were just as human as they were. “The Germans opposite were awfully decent fellows [. . .] intelligent, respectable looking men,”reported one soldier. “I really think a lot of our newspaper reports must be horribly exaggerated.”

Not everyone supported the truces, however. High-ranking officers on both sides frowned down on the truces once they heard about them but were largely unable to stop them. Some lower-ranking soldiers disapproved as well, such as one who, upon returning to the trenches to find that the Germans had erected lit Christmas trees, remarked, “I was all for not allowing the blighters to enjoy themselves, especially as they had killed one of our men that afternoon. But my captain [. . .] wouldn’t let me shoot.”

Though the truces had to end and the fighting start up again after Christmas (with some truces reportedly lasting through the New Year), the men involved would always remember the Christmas of 1914. “It will be a Christmastime to live in our memory,” wrote one soldier, while another observed that “the recollection of it will ever be one of imperishable beauty.” But perhaps this soldier’s impression summed up the experience best: “All this talk of hate, all this fury at each other that has raged since the beginning of the war, quelled and stayed by the magic of Christmas.

Newspapers.com is a tremendous resource where you can find many articles and accounts about the Christmas Truce or search for   for other topics that interest you.

If you want to learn more about the Christmas Truce please click on Global Research.

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Sandy on December 8th, 2014

On December 8, 1980, John Lennon’s (former member the The Beatles) peaceful domestic life on New York‘s Upper West Side with his wife Yoko Ono and their son Sean was shattered by 25-year-old Mark David Chapman. Psychiatrists diagnosed Chapman as a borderline psychotic. He was instructed to plead insanity, but instead he pleaded guilty to murder. He was sentenced to 20 years to life. In 2000, New York State prison officials denied Chapman a parole hearing, telling him that his “vicious and violent act was apparently fueled by your need to be acknowledged.” He remains behind bars at Attica Prison in New York State.

John Lennon is memorialized in “Strawberry Fields,” a section of Central Park across the street from the Dakota landscaped by  Yoko Ono landscaped to honor  her husband.

I think it’s safe to say John Lennon is in a better place now. Love you John.



pearl harbor bombedToday is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault.

This surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

Any diplomatic negotiations with Japan brroke down and President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable. Nothing, however, had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor.

It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Because of this  the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.

Most of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

After his brief and forceful speech, Roosevelt asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1.

The sole dissenter (interesting) was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.

The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.

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RichardIII2So, what else is new?  We’ve been hearing about royal scandals for a long time now but this one could have an interesting outcome.

DNA tests have confirmed that the ancient bones found under a car park in Leicester are those of Richard III – but they also point to a sex scandal in his family tree. Genetic analysis of the last Plantagenet king and samples from five living relatives has raised questions about the legitimacy of Henry VIII and other famous English royals.

The BBC said, “Analysis shows that DNA passed down on the maternal side matches that of living relatives, but genetic information passed down on the male side does not infidelity is the most likely explanation.”

The tests show that somewhere along the male line, dating back more than 500 years, there was a least one “false paternity event” – meaning that a king may have been cheated on.

The discovery potentially undermines either Richard III’s claim to the throne or that of Henry VIII and the entire Tudor dynasty, depending on which side of the family tree the infidelity occurred.

However, the BBC says scientists would not be drawn on what it might mean for the current royal family. Apparently the breakage was statistically more likely to have occurred in the part of the family tree which does not affect royal succession because more links in the chain exist there.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, shows that there is at least one illegitimate male in the chain of 19 generations between the 5th Duke of Beaufort, who died in 1803, and Edward III, Richard’s great-great grandfather from who the male line is descended.

Historians have identified two prime suspects based on contemporary rumours: Richard Earl of Cambridge – who was Richard III’s paternal grandfather – and John of Gaunt, whose ancestral line led to Henry VIII and the Tudors. I had actually read about the love story of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster (also spelled Catherine) was she had been the his lover for many years before their marriage.

I wrote an article on this blog who archaeologists excavated the Leicester car park, a long-reputed burial site of Richard III, in 2012. A forensic study of the remains showed that Richard III had a curved spine and had suffered 11 wounds at the time of his death. At that time they were unable to say if this was actually King Richard.

Now, statisticians say they are 99.999 per cent certain of the identity of the remains following the DNA analysis, which also revealed that Richard III was likely to have been blue-eyed with blond hair as a child.

Edmund Tudor’s son Henry VII took the throne from the House of York after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, ending the Wars of the Roses.

Since I’ve read the book many times, I can highly recommend Anya Seton’s  Katherine

Another good read Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster.

If you’re interested in reading more about Richard III lost burial place click on The King’s Grave: The Discovery of Richard III’s Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds.

In the interest of full disclosure—If you purchase any item through this blog by clicking on the links or the icons on the right,  I earn a very small commission. I do this to help keep Spittalstreet.com alive.

The following news release comes from the National Genealogical Society(NGS):

Registration is now open for the National Genealogical Society’s thirty-seventh annual family history conference, Crossroads of America, which will be held 13–16 May 2015 at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri. Conference highlights include a choice of more than 150 lectures, given by nationally known speakers and subject matter experts on a broad array of topics. The conference will open with The Tales of Pioneer Paths: Rivers, Roads & Rails given by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, a full-time professional researcher and educator, and former APG president.

Continuing NGS’s goal of providing quality educational opportunities to its participants, the conference will feature a variety of lectures for all skill levels from beginner to advanced.  Lecture topics covered at the conference will include: researching in many Midwestern states; national and regional migration paths; land, military, immigration, and naturalization records; ethnic and religious groups including African American, German, Irish, Jewish, Native American, Polish, and Scots-Irish; methodology, analysis, and problem solving; and the use of technology including genetics, mobile devices, and websites useful in genealogical research. The Board for Certification of Genealogists’ Skillbuilding track will again be an integral part of the conference and presented over the four days of the event.

Registration is currently open.  To register online, visit the Read the rest of this entry »


WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services. It is an online library catalog that lets you look up items in libraries around the world and perfect for family historians, genealogists and everyone else. The items available include books, electronic documents, journals, microform, and audio and video recordings. Best of all its available to everyone free of charge and access is provided on the Web, where most people begin their search for information.

By using the WorldCat.org catalog, you can search for popular books, music CDs and videos—all of the physical items you’re used to getting from libraries. You can also discover many new kinds of digital content, such as downloadable audio books. You may also find article citations with links to their full text; authoritative research materials, such as documents and photos of local or historic significance; and digital versions of rare items that aren’t available to the public. Because WorldCat libraries serve diverse communities in dozens of countries, resources are available in many languages.

In a nutshell you can:

  • Search many libraries at once for an item and then locate it in a library nearby
  • Find books, music, and videos to check out
  • Find research articles and digital items (like audiobooks) that can be directly viewed or downloaded
  • Link to “Ask a Librarian” and other services at your library
  • Post your review of an item, or contribute factual information about it

To learn more about this amazing resource click on WorldCat and any of the other links in this post. Email updates are also available.



winston churchillWinston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, was born at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England, on November 30, 1864, one hundred and fifty years ago.

Churchill came from a family with a long history of military service and joined the British Fourth Hussars upon his father’s death in 1895. During the five years that followed, he carved an illustrious military career, serving in India, the Sudan, and South Africa, and distinguishing himself several times in battle.

In 1899, he resigned his commission to concentrate on his literary and political career and in 1900 was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP from Oldham. In 1904, he joined the Liberals (Viscount John Morley of Blackburn, was his mentor), serving in a number of important posts before being appointed Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, where he worked to bring the British navy to a readiness for the war he foresaw.

In 1915, in the second year of World War I, Churchill was held responsible for the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns, and he was excluded from the war coalition government. He resigned and volunteered to command an infantry battalion in France. However, in 1917, he returned to politics as a cabinet member in the Liberal government of Lloyd George. From 1919 to 1921, he was secretary of state for war and in 1924 returned to the Conservative Party, where two years later he played a leading role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill issued unheeded warnings of the threat of German and Japanese aggression.

After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Churchill was called back to his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and eight months later replaced the feckless Neville Chamberlain as prime minister of a new coalition government. In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that the British people would “never surrender.” He rallied the British people to a resolute resistance and expertly orchestrated Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin into an alliance that eventually crushed the Axis.

In July 1945, 10 weeks after Germany’s defeat, his Conservative government suffered an electoral loss against Clement Attlee’s Labor Party, and Churchill resigned as prime minister. He became leader of the opposition and in 1951 was again elected prime minister. Two years later, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his six-volume historical study of World War II and for his political speeches. In 1955, he retired as prime minister but remained in Parliament until 1964 and died the following year 1965.

Churchill was an amazing writer and his quotes an inspiration to many. His quotations are timeless if you’d like to purchase a book dedicated to his timeless quotation click on the link Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations.


Sandy on November 26th, 2014

ahappythanksgivingBy 1916, United States citizens were referring to Thanksgiving Day as Turkey Day, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, the Pilgrims might not have eaten turkey at all. According to historians, the Pilgrims ate wildfowl, corn, and venison.  Turkey first claimed its place as the Thanksgiving bird in the 1700s when Founding Father Alexander Hamilton stated, “No Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.”

As for stuffing, the Pilgrims lacked access to flour or ovens, so bread-based stuffing was not on the first Thanksgiving meal menu. However, the history of stuffing was around and dates back to the Roman Empire, where the recipe appears in the Roman cookbook De re Coquinaria. Although stuffing large birds was common in the Pilgrims era. Today, Americans rarely cook large birds except on Thanksgiving and stuffing is not often prepared without turkey.

Cranberries are native to North America and were eaten by Native Americans along with pumpkins long before the first Thanksgiving. Cranberries became a crucial part of the New England harvest once the settlers began eating them in the mid-1600s. Cranberry sauce was not referenced for another 50 years in historical records, sealing their role in the Thanksgiving celebrations in 1864, when Ulysses S. Grant ordered cranberries to be served to soldiers as part of their holiday meal. A company now known as Ocean Spray began canning and selling cranberry sauce in 1912.

You might be interested (or reminded) to learn that neither white potatoes nor sweet potatoes were part of the first Thanksgiving dinner because they hadn’t arrived yet in North America. White potatoes are native to South America and sweet potatoes are native to the Carribean. Sweet potatoes were actually brought to the United States from Europe and became very popular in the south—humid growing conditions suited the orange potato and were often substituted for pumpkin pie. Sweet potato casseroles were introduced to marshmallows in 1917 by Angelus Marshmallows in a book intended to promote marshmallows as an everyday cooking ingredient. Although marshmallows didn’t catch on with other dishes the pairing of the sweet pototo and marshmallows were immortalized as a Thanksgiving favorite.

Turkeys and pumpkins are native to North America. However it was unlikely to have been baked into a pie because the Pilgrims did not even have access to ovens and probably ate boiled pumpkin. Recipes for pumpkin pie appeared in English cookbooks around 1670 and in American cookbooks in 1670. They didn’t appear in French cookbooks until 1951. Pumpkin pie is a popular way to conclude a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with a sweet dessert.

Sandy on November 23rd, 2014

Antartica Beyond-Endurance-Map-of-route

The story behind one of the world’s most epic survival stories is to be displayed in an archive at the National Library of Scotland. If the account was written as fiction many folks would find it hard to believe. The epic tale of the crew’s survival is real and has become the stuff of polar legend.

The archive tells the hundred year old (centenary) story of legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-17 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to cross Antarctica from sea to sea, via the South Pole on board the ship named Endurance.

The story is told through an archive display, named Beyond Edurance, comprises contemporary newspaper cuttings; maps and plans; photographs; fundraising appeal information; scientific papers; and books that were subsequently written about the expedition including several for children.

On the expedition the Endurance ship became trapped in ice and crushed, forcing the men to scramble on to ice floes where they remained for months. They eventually made it to a rocky outpost called Elephant Island but were still 900 miles from safety.

Shackleton and five others set off in a small lifeboat called the James Caird—named for the Scots jute baron who was the major sponsor of the expedition—to try to raise the alarm at a whaling station at South Georgia.

Landing on the southern shore, they finally faced a 36 miles trek in freezing conditions across mountainous terrain to reach the station on the northern edge of the island.

The remaining men on Elephant Island were rescued on 30 August, 1916, almost two years after the expedition first assembled. You can understand why this true story has been labeled “the greatest survival story of all time.”

The display relies heavily on the archive of the Scots geologist Sir James Mann Wordie who was a member of the Trans Antarctic expedition and later became one of the most influential figures in polar exploration of the 20thcentury.

Although the men were never far from danger, there were periods when serious work could be done. Wordie made use of this time to produce scientific papers about the ice and geology of the area that added greatly to geographic understanding of the polar region. Some of these papers are included in the display.

“The personal collection of books and papers once belonging to Wordie form the heart of the polar collections at the National Library and items from them are included in the display. He became chairman of the Scott Polar Research Institute, president of the Royal Geographical Society, and master of St John’s College, Cambridge. In these and other roles he shaped numerous polar expeditions, following a successful model of small, seasonal trips that has largely been followed down to the present day.”

Click on the link to Amazon.com to purchase the book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage it comes highly recommended.

Patrick_Leigh_Fermor_in_1966The archive of an Indiana Jones-like Scottish adventurer is to be made available to the public by the National Library of Scotland for the first time.

Papers belonging to Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor (11 February 1915 – 10 June 2011) will appear on the website of the National Library of Scotland. Fermor, also known as Paddy Fermor, was an author and soldier who played a prominent role behind the lines in the Cretin resistance during WWII

Sir Patrick was a decorated war hero and traveller who once set off to walk from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul, and lived a life of adventure. He was once described as as “a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene.”[

The treasure trove of documents includes his correspondence, manuscripts, diaries, notebooks, passports, sketches, photographs and research papers.

Graham Stewart, who catalogued the documents, said there had already been a lot of interest in the archive.


An interesting study from Ancestry.com shows that online family history research has increased 14 times in the past 10 years. See below:

Multi-Country Study by Ancestry.com Examines Changing Family Structures to Show Closer Bonds Between Children and Grandparents; Longevity and Birthrates Lead to Increase in Vertical Families

PROVO, UT–(Marketwired – November 19, 2014) – Over the past decade, online family history research has grown in the United States by 14 times, with two-thirds (63%) of respondents in a recent study reporting that family history has become more important than ever. They also say that this growth is motivated by a belief that knowing more about the past is a key part of understanding who we are.

Announced today by Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, the new findings are part of the first chapter in its Global Family History Report, a multi-country study that examined trends in the family — both past and present — across six developed countries: the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and Sweden.

According to the study, the relationships between younger and older family members have strengthened, with relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren growing closer in the past 50 years.* Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents reported feeling closer to older relatives, with half of older relatives saying they had drawn closer to young relatives as a result of learning more about their family.

“This shift back to vertical family structure is really interesting,” said Michelle Ercanbrack, family historian at Ancestry. “Vertical family structure, meaning multiple generations interacting with one another, was common historically because nuclear families often lived under the same roof. The rise in multigenerational relationships today has everything to do with advances in technology and medicine. As grand- and great-grandparents live longer and stay connected with social media, there are now unprecedented opportunities to engage with younger generations and pass on family stories.” Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on November 20th, 2014

The latest news on DNA matching improvements is as follows:

We’re excited to tell you about some major improvements we’ve made to help you find your possible relatives with AncestryDNA.

AncestryDNA scientists have innovated new and better ways to identify family relationships by comparing DNA between AncestryDNA members. Now, AncestryDNA is almost 70x more likely to find distant relatives, and all existing AncestryDNA members will see improved results.

What this means for you:

More accurate — Each of your DNA matches will be more accurate and is more likely to be related to you. You can feel confident that you share a recent ancestor (up to 5–10 generations).

Less is more — Because DNA matching is more accurate, some people who you matched before will no longer be on your list. So you’ll see fewer matches, but each of the ones you have will be more likely to result in a new family discovery.

This innovative way of DNA matching lays a foundation for new DNA features.

Best part — you don’t need to provide a new sample. We simply compare your DNA results again to everyone in the database using our new matching algorithms and give you an improved, higher-confidence list of DNA matches.

Check out your matches and see more detail around the confidence levels for each match.

Here are a few of the ways we were able to improve DNA matching: Read the rest of this entry »

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Twitter has started to let users search through every tweet publicly sent from the globally-popular one-to-many messaging service since it launched in 2006. The company has built a searchable index of billions tweets posted using the service known for its real-time torrent of messages.

Twitter said, “Since that first simple tweet over eight years ago, hundreds of billions of Tweets have captured everyday human experiences and major historical events.”

As you might imagine a great deal of effort has been invested in this complicated implementation. To learn more about the process, click on Building a complete Tweet index.