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

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

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

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

 1) Cuneiform is not a language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Cuneiform looks somewhat impossible…

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

5) … but children master it surprisingly quickly

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

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

 6) Cuneiform is as relevant today as ever

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

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

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


Sandy on May 23rd, 2015

Sandy on May 22nd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Dublin Workhouses Admission & Discharge Registers 1840-1919

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

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

Dublin Poor Law Unions Board of Guardians Minute Books

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

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

Dublin Poor Law Unions Board of Guardians Minute Books Browse

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

British newspapers

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

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

Nottinghamshire baptisms

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

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

Nottinghamshire burials

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

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

Northern Territory Birth Index 1870-1918

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

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

Northern Territory Marriage Index 1870-1913

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

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

Northern Territory Death Index 1870-1913

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

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

The following sad news comes from the Associated Press:

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

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

Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg confirmed the death.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The NLS announcement is laid out below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to The Electronic Frontier Foundation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, usage of an insecure Internet connection can be tapped by hackers. Using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection is good but using a Tor connection is even better. Some people prefer to use I2P encrypted networking, another highly secure option. (Information about SSL encrypted connections may be found at while information about Tor network may be found at and information about I2P may be found at

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

Sandy on May 5th, 2015

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

What is the history of Cinco de Mayo?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sandy on May 1st, 2015
Electricity Plant

Electricity Plant

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

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

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

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

1) The four-legged bird

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

Digital Life says:

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

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

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

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

The most important source of information on Irish family history:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandy on April 28th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australia: New South Wales

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

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


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

Yorkshire: Craven

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


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

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


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

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

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

Sandy on April 17th, 2015

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

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

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

Soldier records include (among others):

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

Confederate-specific records in the collection include documents like:

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

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

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

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

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

A transcription of the follows:

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

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

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

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

Sandy on April 10th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandy on April 6th, 2015

Have a Happy Passover!

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

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

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

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


Sandy on April 5th, 2015

Sandy on April 3rd, 2015

Sandy on March 31st, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Searchable historic records are made available on 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 Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at

Click on 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

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, 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, 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 (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”

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 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 can be used universally. That said is a wonderful resource for family history researchers:

If a simple search on 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 at

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 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 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 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 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

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 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 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.