Sandy on December 23rd, 2014

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

Sandy on December 19th, 2014

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sandy on December 17th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But is it already too late?”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sandy on December 8th, 2014

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

In a nutshell you can:

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sandy on November 26th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Sandy on November 23rd, 2014

Antartica Beyond-Endurance-Map-of-route

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandy on November 20th, 2014

The latest news on DNA matching improvements is as follows:

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

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

What this means for you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FamilySearch adds more than 3.7 million indexed records and images to Australia, Canada, Isle of Man, South Africa, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 1,395,009 images from the Canada, Nova Scotia Probate Records, 1760–1993 collection; the 396,405 images and 396,405 indexed records from the US, BillionGraves Index collection; and the 389,387 indexed records from the South Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801–2004 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 worldís historic genealogical records online at A table with the details is listed below:  Read the rest of this entry »

The National Genealogy Society (NGS) has released the following information on its full conference program on the 2015 conference in St. Charles Missouri from 13-16 May, titled Crossroads of America:

ARLINGTON, VA, 12 November 2014: The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is pleased to announce the 2015 Family History Conference program is now available in a sixteen-page registration brochure, which is downloadable at The online version of the St. Charles NGS Family History Conference program is also available on the conference website at Registration opens on 1 December 2014.

The conference offers a number of workshops, tours, and social events that have limited seating. To secure tickets to these events, register on opening day, 1 December 2014, or very soon thereafter at

The St. Charles, Missouri Convention Center is the site of the 13-16 May 2015 Conference. The Conference features nationally known speakers and subject matter experts for more than 150 lectures given on a broad array of topics. Topics include records that highlight research in Midwestern states; national and regional migration paths; land, military, immigration, and naturalization records; and ethnic and religious groups including African Americans, Czech, German, Irish, Jewish, Native American, Polish, and Scots-Irish. Also covered is methodology, analysis, and problem solving; the use of DNA testing and genetic genealogy; the use of technology including mobile devices for genealogy, and websites useful in genealogical research.

The registration brochure provides details Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on November 10th, 2014

Barnes & Noble

History is full of dramatic tales that are well known and oft repeated. Some of the incidents might not be what we think, such as Joan of Arc, or Jack the Ripper. History Extra gives us some insight into what we get wrong. See below:

1) A lost Romanov princess
When Tsar Nicholas II and his family were brutally murdered by Bolshevik soldiers in 1918, the world looked on in horror. After the shootings, however, rumours surfaced that the tsar’s youngest daughter, Grand Duchess Anastasia, may have escaped.

Several women later came forward claiming her identity, most famously Anna Anderson, on whom the 1956 film Anastasia was based. Escape seemed possible when the bodies of only three of the four daughters were discovered in a mass grave in 1991.

Even today, theories as to Anastasia’s fate persist. Sadly, what many don’t realise is that the body of the fourth Romanov daughter was discovered in 2007, finally putting to rest any hope of survival.

2) The doctor of death
Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen became one of Britain’s most infamous murderers when his wife Cora’s body was discovered in the basement of their home, in 1910. He was later arrested, tried, found guilty, and executed.

So far, so familiar. What very few people realise, however, is that 2007 DNA testing on the body in the basement proved not only that the victim wasn’t Cora, but that it was male. The evidence showed that Crippen was innocent of the crime he was hanged for. Interestingly, two weeks before execution, he wrote: “I am innocent and some day evidence will be found to prove it”.

3) Trial by public opinion
Lizzie Borden, who famously “took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks”, has been labelled a murderer for more than 120 years.

Husband and wife Andrew and Abby Borden were found dead in their Massachusetts home by Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie, in 1892, having each been struck several times with a hatchet. Lizzie, a seemingly respectable Sunday school teacher, soon became the prime suspect due to her hatred of her step-mother and desire for financial freedom. Her trial in 1893 caused a media sensation.

Though Borden was acquitted, her local community showed a level of suspicion that has never abated. Certainly, she looked guilty, but we forget she is technically innocent.

4) Richard III: kindly king or treacherous uncle? 
Detractors of this most infamous king claim that when Richard III was granted guardianship of his brother Edward IV’s sons in 1483, he repaid him by declaring the boys illegitimate, stealing the crown, and having his charges killed.
Read the rest of this entry »

This is most definitely hot off the press. Listen carefully:

steve-mcqueenOn November 7, 1980 (34 years ago), the world lost actor Steve McQueen, one of Hollywood’s leading men of the 1960s and 1970s. The star of star action thrillers, such as,, Bullitt and the Towering Inferno died at age 50 in Mexico where where he was undergoing an experimental treatment for cancer.

In 1979, McQueen was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer often related to asbestos exposure. It was later believed that the ruggedly handsome actor, who had an affinity for fast cars and motorcycles, might have been exposed to asbestos by wearing racing suits.

Mr. Terrence Steven McQueen was born on March 24, 1930, in Beech Grove, Indiana. After a troubled youth that included time in reform school, McQueen served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1940s. He decided to study acting and began competing in motorcycle races. He made his big-screen debut with a tiny role in 1956’s Somebody Up There Likes Me, starring Paul Newman. McQueen went on to appear in the camp classic The Blob (1958) and gained fame playing a bounty hunter in the TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive. The series originally aired on CBS from 1958 to 1961.

During the 1960s, McQueen built a reputation for playing cool, loner heroes in a list of films that included the Western The Magnificent Seven (1960), directed by John Sturges and also featured Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson; The Great Escape (1963), in which McQueen played a U.S. soldier in World War II who made a daring motorcycle escape from a German prison camp; and The Sand Pebbles (1966), a war epic for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination. McQueen played a detective in one of his most popular movies, 1968’s Bullitt, which featured a spectacular car chase through the streets of San Francisco. That same year, the actor portrayed an elegant thief in The Thomas Crown Affair.

In the 1970s, McQueen was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors and starred in hit films such as director Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway (1972) with Ali MacGraw, to whom McQueen was married from 1973 to 1978; Papillon (1973), with Dustin Hoffman; and The Towering Inferno (1974), with Paul Newman, William Holden and Faye Dunaway.

In the summer of 1980, McQueen traveled to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, where he underwent an unorthodox cancer treatment that involved, among other things, coffee enemas and a therapy derived from apricot pits. On November 6, 1980, he had surgery to remove cancerous masses from his body; he died the following day. His final films were Tom Horn and The Hunter, both of which were released in 1980.

We miss you Steve McQueen.


Sandy on November 6th, 2014

What has been described by a Forbes article as a pernicious piece of Apple  focused malware succeeded in raising awareness this week.  It may have infected as many as 356,000 users in China. The malicious malware is called WireLurker. Although all are based in China, where the malicious WireLurker code was hidden inside 467 OS X applications on the unofficial Maiyadi App Store it should be taken seriously.

“The malware first infects Mac OS X machines, from standard desktop Macs to MacBooks, and then infiltrates all other iDevices, from iPhones to iPads, by installing rogue apps on them when they’re connected by USB. And unlike previous strains of iOS malware, it doesn’t need the device to be jailbroken. Palo Alto Networks, the company that has investigated and given a name to WireLurker, calls it a “new breed of threat to all iOS devices”. Qū Chāo, a developer at Tencent, initially observed WireLurker at the start of June.

It’s little surprise so many downloaded WireLurker, given it was packaged inside seemingly legitimate apps, including some big name games – Sims 3, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 and Angry Birds to name a few. They were unofficial, pirated versions of the games, however. And those who did get infected, who were only trying to get knock off copies of those titles, likely had various pieces of data stolen from their Apple devices, including the machine’s ID number and Wi-Fi addresses it used.”

The entire article is well worth a read and comes with a flow chart that gives an interesting visual on how it was done. Click on Forbes to learn more about it.


The latest from is a very interesting collection of Native American records.

See below and note the number of records marked FREE:

If your American ancestors make the settlers at St. Augustine and Jamestown look like a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies, we have good news. We just added 11 new databases to our American Indian collections, and we now have the most extensive online collection of American Indian records available, including U.S. Indian Census Rolls, 1885–1940. Even better, you can now search all of our American Indian records at once from the new American Indian page. Our new research guide will give you strategic pointers for getting your research underway, and AncestryDNA can help you investigate your Native American roots.


Although it’s only the beginning of November, it’s already off with Halloween and Thanksgiving (sadly for some) and on with Christmas and Hanukkah.  Retailers have had Christmas items on display since the back-to-school stuff went on clearance.

Does your family historian love to read? It was great to discover that there’s genealogical fiction in the world of mystery writing. Based in London, England, author Steve Robinson has created a series of mysteries featuring professional genealogist, Jefferson Tayte who seeks his own mysterious ancestry as well as the research he does for his clients.

His latest release, The Lost Empress, and fourth book in the series begins on a foggy night in 1914, when the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route between Canada and England. With a loss of life comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania, her tragedy  has strangely been forgotten.

When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress’s victims, a British admiral’s daughter named Alice Stilwell, he has to travel to England to understand the course of events that led to her death.

The protagonist Tayte is expert in tracking killers across centuries. In The Lost Empress, his unique talents draw him to one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history as he unravels the truth behind Alice’s death amidst a backdrop of pre-WWI espionage.

This is the fourth book in the Jefferson Tayte mystery series but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. All lovers of mystery books will enjoy getting to know Jefferson Tayte.

To purchase from Amazon click on The Lost Empress (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery)

To purchase from Barnes & Noble click on The Lost Empress

To purchase from alibris click on The Lost Empress


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Sandy on October 31st, 2014

samhainThe Celts, those interesting and mysterious folks who lived about 2000 years ago in what is known today as the United Kingdom and Ireland, celebrated New Year on November 1st. They believed that on the night before New Year the boundary between the worlds of the living and the world of the dead became blurred. It was at this time, on the night of October 31st, when they celebrated Samhain, that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The Celts believed that the presence of spirits made it easier for the Druids, who were Celtic priests, to predict the future. Samhain was celebrated with the wearing of costumes (typically made up of animal heads and skins) and prophecies of the future. They also extinguished their hearth fires and built huge bonfires, where people gathered to burn crops and offer animal sacrifices to the Celtic deities. After the ceremonies, they re-lit their hearth fires to protect them through the winter.

By A.D. 43 the Romans had conquered the bulk of the Celtic territory and during the course of the next 400 years the ritual of Samhain evolved to combine two festivals of Roman origin. One was Feralia, a day in late October when Romans commemorated the passing of the dead. The other was to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Her symbol is the apple, which might tie in with the “bobbing” for apples tradition enjoyed by “children” of all ages at Halloween.

When the 800′s rolled around, the influence of Christianity had spread to Celtic lands. And, it is generally believed that, in the 7th century, Pope Bonafice IV attempted to replace the Samhain festival of the dead by designating November 1st as a church-sanctioned holiday labeled All Saints’ Day to honor saints and martyrs. It was also called All-hallows or All-hallowsmas. Later on, around A.D. 1000, the second day of November was labeled All Souls’ Day to honor the dead. The All Saints Day festivity was similar to Samhain with bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and demons. The combination of all three celebrations was called Hallowmas. The eve of Samhain started to be called All-hallows Eve and eventually Halloween.


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I’ve just received the following details from Family Tree DNA. If you have tests on or 23andMe it’s worth investigating:

Family Tree DNA is now allowing people that have taken an AncestryDNA™ or 23andMe© (V3) test to transfer their raw data to the Family Finder database for FREE by visiting!

That’s right!  Pass this news along to your friends and family members that have tested with or 23andMe so they can discover new matches in the world’s largest genetic genealogy database for FREE!  

Note: Autosomal raw data cannot be transferred to an account that already has Family Finder

What’s in it for You?

After transferring, you’ll get your top 20 matches, complete with their surnames and relationship predictions.  You don’t have to do anything after uploading your data to see these matches.  You’ve got nothing to lose!

You can unlock ALL of your matches and myOrigins results for free by recruiting 4 other relatives or friends to transfer their results using a link we’ll provide!

To access detailed instructions and learn more about  the program click on Discover New Matches For Free.” 

Sandy on October 26th, 2014


If you love Jane Austin’s books and Mr Darcy here’s another great find from the BBC’s History Extra:

Whether it’s breakfast at Northanger Abbey, tea and cake at Mansfield Park, or one of Mrs Bennet’s dinners to impress, food is an important theme in Jane Austen’s novels.

And now, Austen fans can recreate the dishes featured in the author’s works, thanks to new bookDinner with Mr Darcy.

Written by Pen Vogler, the editor of Penguin’s Great Food series, the book also features dishes Jane and her family were known to have enjoyed.

Here, we’ve selected our top five Jane Austen recipes. Dinner with Mr Darcy by Pen Vogler is published by CICO Books


Flummery is a white jelly, which was set in elegant molds or as shapes in clear jelly. Its delicate, creamy taste goes particularly well with rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries. A modern version would be to add the puréed fruit to the ingredients, taking away the same volume of water.

1⁄2 cup/50g ground almonds
1 tsp natural rosewater (with no added alcohol)
A drop of natural almond extract
11⁄4 cups/300ml milk
1 1⁄4 cups heavy (double) cream 1–2 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar 5 gelatin leaves

1) Put the gelatin in a bowl and cover with cold water; leave for 4–5 minutes

2) Pour the milk, almonds, and sugar into a saucepan and heat slowly until just below boiling.

3) Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatin leaves and add them to the almond milk. Simmer for a few minutes, keeping it below boiling point. Let it cool a little and strain it through cheesecloth, or a very fine sieve

4) Whip the cream until thick, and then fold it into the tepid mixture. Wet your molds (essential, to make it turn out), put the flummery in (keeping some back for the hen’s nest recipe below if you’d like) and leave to stand in the fridge overnight

5) To serve: If you don’t have a jelly mold with a removable lid, dip the mold briefly into boiling water before turning out the flummery

“To make Flummery Put one ounce of bitter and one of sweet almonds into a basin, pour over them some boiling water to make the skins come off, which is called blanching. Strip off the skins and throw the kernels into cold water. Then take them out and beat them in a marble mortar with a little rosewater to keep them from oiling. When they are beat, put them into a pint of calf’s foot stock, set it over the fire and sweeten it to your taste with loaf sugar. As soon as it boils strain it through a piece of muslin or gauze. When a little cold put it into a pint of thick cream and keep stirring it often till it grows thick and cold. Wet your moulds in cold water and pour in the flummery, let it stand five or six hours at least before you turn them out. If you make the flummery stiff and wet the moulds, it will turn out without putting it into warm water, for water takes off the figures of the mould and makes the flummery look dull.” ELIZABETH RAFFALD,THE EXPERIENCED ENGLISH HOUSEKEEPER, 1769

Pigeon Pie Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on October 24th, 2014

apples-historyofThese slices of history arrived via the BBC History Extra magazine:

With one a day said to keep the doctor at bay, apples are today one of the nation’s most popular fruits. But the lunchbox staple also has a curious history – here, on National Apple Day, food historian Joanna Crosby reveals 9 things you probably didn’t know about the history of apples…

1) The apple originated in the so called ‘fruit forest’ of Eastern Europe

The fruit would have been smaller and more bitter than the apples we eat today. Travellers through the forest would have eaten the larger, sweeter apples, and started the process of selection, spreading pips across Europe and north into the Baltic regions.

 2) In the Christian tradition the apple is associated with Eve’s disobedience, right? Wrong

She ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and so God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. But the fruit is not described as an apple in any of the texts – the apple was put into the story by artists.

 3) Apples don’t grow true from a pip – each apple pip grows up into a unique tree

The only way to get exactly the same apple is to graft a piece of apple wood onto a piece of rootstock. The ancient Egyptians knew how to do this, as did the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The Celts were also aware of how to cultivate apples, so sweet apples existed in Britain before the Romans arrived.

 4) Royalty have always loved apples

Henry VII paid huge sums for individual apples, and Henry VIII had an orchard in Kent with many different varieties, and he imported French gardeners to look after them. Meanwhile, Catherine the Great loved Golden Pippin apples so much she had them brought over to her palace in Russia, each one wrapped in real silver paper.

Queen Victoria was also a fan – she particularly liked baked apples. A canny Victorian nurseryman called Lane named a variety ‘Lane’s Prince Albert.’ This apple is still in cultivation.

 5) Apples are a linked to fairyland Read the rest of this entry »

A recent news release from revealed some very interesting and unexpected statics between occupation and home ownership since 1900:

PROVO, Utah, October 15, 2014 – Members of the armed services are among the least likely to own a home in the United States, according to a new analysis by Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource. Ancestry recently analyzed 112 years of U.S. Federal Census data to better understand the connection between occupation and home ownership across the nation over the last century. As of 2012, optometrists have the clearest line of sight to home ownership at 90%, while dancers and dance instructors have the lowest home ownership rate at just 23%.

Occupation has had a major impact on home ownership rates since 1900. While the typical size of a profession’s paycheck is an important factor in the rankings, it’s not the only one.  There are many instances of a profession having a higher rate of home ownership than another that typically pays more. Some interesting findings from 2012:

  • Public service often pays off in terms of home ownership rates, except if you are in the armed forces.Fire fighters ranked #7 at 84%, and police officers and detectives #12 at 79%, compared to lawyers and judges who ranked #20 at 78%. Teachers were higher than economists (#45 at 74% versus #97, 64%).
  • Janitors and sextonshad a rate about double that of waiters andwaitresses (54% versus 27%).
  • It turns out that all artists are not starving. Sixty-three percent ofartists and art teachers own homes, which is almost twice as high as dancers and dance teachers, which have the lowest rate of home ownership among any profession. Higher rates of home ownership were also seen among musicians and music teachers (62%), entertainers (57%) andauthors (63%).
  • Some skilled professions that include many unionized workers had fairly high rates of home ownership, such aselectricians at 73%, plumbers at 70% and power station operators at 87%.
  • Sixty-two (62) percent ofeditors and reporters owned homes in 2012, which is higher than almost every other analyzed decade.

Home ownership rates were at just 32% in 1900 and have Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on October 22nd, 2014

This month we acknowledge our National Archives and Archivist of the United States (AOTUS) David Ferriero enthusiastically celebrated the month long occasion by visiting his old high school in Beverly, Massachusetts. What Mr. Ferriero does to encourage students to become acquainted and interested our national treasures is wonderful.  A couple of days ago he described the experience at Beverly on his NARA blog as a fitting way to celebrate:

“Beverly (MA) High School is a happening place!  Last week BHS graduate Angie Miller, an American Idol finalist visited.  And the day after, AOTUS spent the day—the first time since June of 1963!

As I said many times during the day, it was not the same Beverly High School that I left.  I was tremendously impressed with the seamless integration of technology throughout, the active participation of the students in the learning experience, and the excitement of the students hosting a visitor from Washington.

I got to visit classrooms, chop onions and garlic in a culinary arts class, and speak to hundreds of students in an afternoon assembly.  I wanted to make my time with them as meaningful as possible so suggested that we do some crowdsourcing of questions in advance.  Lots of great questions arrived which sorted neatly into four categories:  the records, the job, the institution, and personal questions. Read the rest of this entry »

Apple has announced that customers can start making payments with the touch of a finger as of today October 20, when Apple Pay becomes available in the U.S. to Iphone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,as well as the IPad  iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 users in stores will be able to use Touch ID on their devices for Apple Pay within apps.

The new service will be enabled by a free software update to iOS 8.  Apple’s Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services said, “Our team has worked incredibly hard to make Apple Pay private and secure, with the simplicity of a single touch of your finger. The reaction to Apple Pay has been amazing. We continue to add more Apple Pay-ready banks, credit card companies, and merchants, and think our users will love paying with Apple Pay.”

Similar to Google Wallet, if you’re wondering what Apple Pay is or wondering if your credit cards are compatible with the service, click on the Forbes article Apple Pay Is Here And It’s Going To Be Great: Why The Skeptics Have It Wrong it answers key questions to which folks need answers before making a decision. Security is likely to be the key.

Sandy on October 20th, 2014

The notorious Red Scare kicked into high gear in Washington on October 20, 1947 (67 years ago), as a Congressional committee began investigating Communist influence in one of the world’s richest and most glamorous communities: Hollywood. Has the situation flipped?  Our Government is now actively using the entertainment industry to promote their agenda for different reasons using the words of the big money folks in entertainment who are probably not “Red” but certainly a deep pink. Some of the social issues are just fine, I’m thinking of economic issues here.

Unfortunately, when people can no longer afford to buy tickets to movie theatres and sometime soon could be unable to purchase a video to watch a movie at home. The big paychecks will go away for actors, directors and writers as our economy sputters and dies—a sad reality, especially for people who work hard to be successful. Now, harking back to  the situation in 1947 and First Amendment rights…

After World War II, the Cold War began to heat up between the world’s two superpowers—the United States and the communist-controlled Soviet Union. In Washington, conservative watchdogs worked to out communists in government before setting their sights on alleged “Reds” in the famously liberal movie industry. In an investigation that began in October 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) grilled a number of prominent witnesses, asking bluntly “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Whether out of patriotism or fear, some witnesses—including director Elia Kazan, actors Gary Cooper and Robert Taylor and studio honchos Walt Disney and Jack Warner—gave the committee names of colleagues they suspected of being communists.

A small group known as the “Hollywood Ten” resisted, complaining that the hearings were illegal and violated their First Amendment rights. They were all convicted of obstructing the investigation and served jail terms. Pressured by Congress, the Hollywood establishment started a blacklist policy, banning the work of about 325 screenwriters, actors and directors who had not been cleared by the committee. Those blacklisted included composer Aaron Copland, writers Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker, playwright Arthur Miller and actor and filmmaker Orson Welles.

Some of the blacklisted writers used pseudonyms to continue working, while others wrote scripts that were credited to other writer friends. Starting in the early 1960s, the ban began to lift slowly. In 1997, the Writers’ Guild of America unanimously voted to change the writing credits of 23 films made during the blacklist period, reversing—but not erasing—some of the damage done during the Red Scare.

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Sandy on October 17th, 2014

Apple has just unveiled the iPad Air2. As far as I can see Apple Says New iPad Is 18% Thinner; iMac Includes Sharper Resolution

Apple’s new iPad Air will give old iPads a body image problem. Apple reports that the new iPad is a fashionable 18% thinner and includes a sharper resolution. The thickness of the iPad mini remains the same. There’s also a new anti-reflective coating that allows users to view outside without reflections from the sun. Among other features it also boasts a sharper resolution.

Apple’s growth has lagged because other entrants into the market are producing quality products and are often cheaper—the same more for less. Also iPad owners are holding on to the an older model, which continues to serve their needs. Amazon’s Kindle is more than enough for many users.

The following article on the new product was written by Daisuke Wakabayashi for the Wall Street Journal. There’s also a video to view. See below:

“With its tablet sales slumping, Apple Inc. unveiled new iPads with incremental improvements that aim to prod companies to replace older tablets and personal computers.

Apple’s iPad Air 2 is 18% thinner than its predecessor, includes a more powerful processor and graphics engine, and is equipped with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint reader. Touch ID allows users to buy items within apps using the Apple Pay payment service, and acts as a security feature. Read the rest of this entry »


I hope you managed to take a look at yesterday’s entry about the Family Search library. Today, I’d like to pass along the latest addition of more than 9.2 million records to the database. On October 7th more than 2.8 million indexed records and images were added to Belgium, Canada, Columbia, Ghana, Spain and the U.S. click on news to see the entry.

The October 15 news release is as follows:

FamilySearch Adds More Than 9.2 Million Indexed Records and Images to Belgium, India, Slovakia, and the United States

FamilySearch Adds More Than 9.2 Million Indexed Records and Images to Belgium, India, Slovakia, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 2,694,665 images from the Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592-1910, collection; the 2,785,409 images from the US, New Jersey, State Census, 1915, collection; and the 2,155,570 indexed records from the US, Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001, 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 worldís historic genealogical records online at

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Collection Indexed Records Digital Images Comments

Belgium, East Flanders, Civil Registration, 1541-1910

0 100 Added images to an existing collection.

Belgium, Hainaut, Civil Registration, 1600-1913

0 93,053

Added images to an existing collection.

Belgium, Liège, Civil Registration, 1621-1910

0 230

Added images to an existing collection.

Belgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-1912

0 34

Added images to an existing collection.

Belgium, West Flanders, Civil Registration, 1582-1910

0 593

Added images to an existing collection.

India, Hindu Pilgrimage Records, 1194-2014

0 66,869

Added images to an existing collection.

Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592-1910

2,694,665 0

Added indexed records to an existing collection.

US, Maryland, Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999

0 101,700

Added images to an existing collection.

US, New Jersey, State Census, 1915 2,785,409 56,710

New indexed records and images collection.

US, New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1785-1950



Added images to an existing collection.

US, Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001 2,155,570 0

Added indexed records to an existing collection.

US, Ohio, Cuyahoga County Probate Files, 1813-1932 0 133,597

Added images to an existing collection.

US, Pennsylvania Obituaries, 1977-2010 931,932 96,921

New indexed records and images collection.

United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934

32,477 0

Added indexed records to an existing collection.

Sandy on October 15th, 2014

The publication Standard Examiner has an interesting article declaring to readers, among other interesting information, that genealogy is the second largest hobby in the world. This is amazing considering how many hobbies are out there.

The Ogden Family Search Library houses  the second largest family history library in the United States and maybe the world.

The reason the LDS church has placed such a large emphasis on family history lies in the biblical scripture Malachi. The book of Malachi talks about the hearts of the fathers turning to the children, and the hearts of the children turning to the fathers.

The Ogden library receives books from all over the U.S. with the most recent ones coming from California. The books are studied and cataloged, once certain criteria has been established they are unbound and scanned. (The idea of destroying a book makes me shudder.)

The digitized copies go to Orem, where they are indexed and placed on accessible to anyone in the world with Internet access.

To read the entire article click on Ogden houses second largest genealogy center.

Sandy on October 14th, 2014

The Hawaii state archives are going digital. Soon, from the comfort of your home you can check records that include your genealogy and marriage licenses. Take a look at the video below:

Sandy on October 13th, 2014

canada-thanksgiving2Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

In Canada, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October to celebrate the harvest and other blessings of the past year.

It’s a statutory holiday in most areas of Canada with the optional exceptions of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Labrador, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Companies regulated by the Canadian Federal Government, such as, the telecommunications and banking sectors do recognize the holiday regardless of its provincial status.

Canada probably did it first

English explorer Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew first gave thanks in Newfoundland in 1578, a date widely accepted as the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America. Like Columbus who discovered the West Indies instead of India, Frobisher had hoped to find the Northwest Passage to the Orient but still wished to celebrate a safe passage in the New World.

The frequently cited American Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts was celebrated 43 years later in 1621 and is more controversial. The Pilgrims are said to have gathered to celebrate God’s gifts and a good harvest and the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive, might or might not have been invited to the party.

There’s no Black Friday in Canada

Canada’s biggest shopping day of the year is Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Imagine Black Friday, but with thousands of people returning disappointing gifts. There are sales and lines and, like here there are often tussles in the aisles. This year, some Canadian retailers are jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon to bring home the Canadian bacon and keep border town residents from traveling to the States for holiday shopping.

Each year, American retailers sell massive amounts of inventory on Black Friday (maybe not this year), the day after Thanksgiving, and again on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving (started in 2005). Crazy people referred to as dedicated shopper spend their vacation days camping out in front of stores for up to a week before Black Friday. This can be dangerous—as soon as the store doors are opened the event can probably be likened to the Calgary Stampede.

OorwillieThe National Library of Scotland (NLS) has come up with a wonderful way to teach elementary school children the lowland Scots language. See below:

Jings, crivvens … Oor Wullie’s teachin’ the bairns

Oor Wullie — one of Scotland’s most famous characters — is helping children to learn Scots in an online educational initiative developed by the National Library of Scotland.

The ‘Oor Wullie’s guide tae Scots language’ website launches today (October 8) aimed at primary schools across Scotland. It has been produced in association with Oor Wullie publisher DC Thomson and will help six- to 11-year-olds become familiar with the richness of the Scots tongue, as well as helping to breathe new life into the language.

It takes a fun approach to the subject and tells children of the enjoyment in store ‘learnin and playin wi’ oor Scots language. You can use some awfy braw words like drookit and scunner’.

The website has been developed with input from pupils and teachers at a number of Scottish schools. The Scots Language Centre, the Scottish Language Dictionaries, the National Trust for Scotland and the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum are all partners in the project. Launching the website in Edinburgh today, Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Scotland’s Languages, said: ‘As someone who has grown up reading about Oor Wullie’s adventures, I am delighted to be one of the first people to try out the website. Scots is a fantastic language with brilliantly descriptive words like driech, slitter or wheesht. Each of these may have a comparable word in other languages, but translations just don’t capture how expressive and illustrative the original Scots is.

‘The last census showed an incredible 1.5 million people have some knowledge of Scots or uses it regularly which is a wonderful achievement when you consider that many people from previous generations were discouraged from using it. This site brings together a huge amount of expertise and the activities allow pupils to express themselves in a fun way that shows how popular Scots is across the country.’ Read the rest of this entry »

The following is the latest update informs of the growing collection of Oregon newspapers from

This month we’re highlighting our growing collection of papers from Oregon. Although this state’s collection is already at over 500,000 pages across 24 newspapers, is planning on adding thousands more pages in the near future through our partnership with the University of Oregon.

The newspapers in our Oregon collection showcase a wide range of interests, politics, and priorities—from reports on hometown and state news, to promotion of local industries, to advocacy of women’s rights, to support of political parties, whether Whig, Independent, Democrat, or Republican.

The two oldest newspapers in the state—the Oregonian and the Oregon Statesman—can both be found on Both dating back to the 1850s, these papers give you the chance to see what life was like in Oregon before it gained statehood. For example, this editorial from an 1856 issue of the Statesman discusses the difficulties of receiving mail by coach during the rainy season.

One particularly unique title is the New Northwest. This paper was founded by suffragist Abigail Scott Duniway to promote the rights of women, hoping to address economic, social, and political injustices while also covering topics of everyday interest to women readers. In one issue of the paper from 1871, a critique of the harsh lifestyle of farmers’ wives lies side by side with a rousing pro-temperance piecean update on the activities of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and a poem about the beauties of Oregon penned by a female contributor.
Another interesting niche paper is the Sumpter Miner. Though this paper contains some local news, it largely focuses on mining, the industry that caused the town of Sumpter to boom (and eventually bust). Case in point, in the very first issue of the paper (dated 13 September 1899), three of the four articles on the front page mention mining in some way or another.

Right now, has papers from 14 Oregon cities: Ashland, Astoria, Burns, Enterprise, Grants Pass, Joseph, Klamath Falls, Medford, Ontario, Portland, Salem, St. Helens, Sumpter, and Toledo. So if you have ancestors that hail from those cities or the surrounding areas, you just might find information about them in the newspapers, like this tidbit from the Burns Times-Herald about what happened to Mr. E.W. Lewis, a local horse breaker, when he tried to go on vacation.

Get started browsing Oregon papers here. Or use our Search box for more specific queries.

Sandy on October 10th, 2014

The following announcement comes from the Irish Family History Foundation:

The Irish Family History Foundation is pleased to announce that the website has become a Subscription based service, giving users access to search an index of over 20 million Irish records and to view the details of the records. (Subject to our terms and conditions). While we do not have all Irish records on our site we add new records at regular intervals. Please check our online sources lists to see what we have currently available.

There are 3 types of Subscription available: 1 month, 6 months or 12 months. You can avail of a Single Payment Subscription or Continuous Membership.

If you already have a Pay Per View account with existing credits remaining that you purchased in the last 12 months under our previous service of Pay Per View credits (and our previous terms and conditions) you can continue to use them to search and view records on the site until they are used up. However, the Pay Per View service is being closed down and no further purchases of credits can be made commencing 24th September, 2014.

If you wish to use the Subscription Service we will facilitate you in converting the remaining Purchased Credits in your account against the value of any of the three subscriptions offered. However, on conversion of your paid credits into a Subscription your Pay Per View free search credits will also expire.

To visit the site click on

IcelandersAccording to reports Icelanders are “the world champions of human genetics”.  A commercial for a phone company even depicted a couple waking up after a one-night-stand showing a scene where they both pick up their smart phones and log into a family-tree website to check their genealogy. So, why would they do this?

There are only 320,000 people who live in Iceland, with most descended from a small clan of Celtic and Viking settlers. Therefore, many Icelanders are distant (or close) relatives and sometimes too close.

An article in The Atlantic discuses how to avoid incestuous and the University of Iceland has even created an app that allows users to check their phones together to determine whether or not they share a common ancestor.

For almost a thousand years, careful genealogical records had been kept in the Islendingabok, (Book of Icelanders).  Back in 1997, Icelandic neurologist Kári Stefánsson along with developer Fridrik Skulason created a web-based version of Islendingabok to offer his countrymen 24/7 access to their family trees. Census data was soured along with church records and family archives to encompass 95 per cent of Icelanders who have lived within the past three centuries. It is now one of the most popular sites in the country.

As a result of the great job Icelanders have done in tracing their family histories, Stefánsson and his colleagues at Decode (a genetics firm he founded) have a rich trove of data for experiments. This is where it gets really interesting. So far it has been discovered how specific genetic mutations affect a person’s chances of having everything from from Alzheimer’s to blond hair. Stefánsson has also identified a certain cancer causing mutation that’s much more common in Iceland than in America, and he’s uncovered a genetic component to longevity. To top it off, “most recently, he and many co-authors found that a certain mutation introduced in Iceland in the 15th century is the primary driver of Icelanders’ risk of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscles thicken.”

Click on The Atlantic to read the entire article and follow some interesting links.

To register for the free webinar click on

Barnes & Noble

FamilySearch adds more than 183 million indexed records and images to Belgium, China, Czech Republic, England and Wales, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Ukraine, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 66,586,112 indexed records from the England and Wales, Birth Registration Index, 1837–2008, collection; the 6,142,790 images from the US, Missouri, Probate Records, 1750–1998, collection; and the 1,019,409 images from the US, Washington, County Records, 1803–2010, 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 worldís historic genealogical records online at

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. To see the collections click on the link:   Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on October 5th, 2014

What are the Devil’s Footprints? What happened to the Mary Celeste? Did Richard III murder the princes in the Tower? Is the Shroud of Turin the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth? These are some of the biggest historical mysteries of all time.

Listed below are nine of those unsolved mysteries investigated by Dr David Clarke, who researched 1,000 years of public records at the British National Archives in search of answers. Those mysteries are discussed in Clarke’s book Britain’s X-raordinary Files.

1) The Mary Celeste

What became of the crew and passengers of this British-American brigantine remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the sea. The name has since become synonymous worldwide with derelict ‘ghost ships’.

The Mary Celeste was found drifting 400 miles east of the Azores by the crew of another cargo-carrying vessel, the Dei Gratia, on 5 December 1872. The leader of the boarding party told a British board of inquiry at Gibraltar he found the ship was “a thoroughly wet mess”, with possessions left behind and the lifeboat missing.

No trace of Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs, his wife and their young daughter or the seven experienced crew members has ever been found. Many ingenious theories have been put forward by writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle to explain what happened to them. My favourite comes from a 1965 episode of the BBC series Dr Who, where the frightened crew jump overboard when the Daleks materialise on the ship while chasing the occupants of the TARDIS.

2) Jack the Ripper

The true identity of this Victorian serial killer continues to elude us 126 years after the gruesome killing spree in London’s East End in 1888. In the latest development, an ‘armchair detective’ claims DNA evidence from the shawl of one of the five known victims has identified Polish émigré Aaron Kosminski – one of a list of key suspects – as the man also known as ‘Leather Apron’, or ‘the Whitechapel Murderer’.

A small cottage industry, Ripperology has grown up around the murders with investigators such as Patricia Cornwell and Russell Edwards sifting through surviving evidence in search of a ‘prime suspect.’ Among the wild theories that have become legends is one that depicts Jack as a deranged surgeon who killed the women as part of a conspiracy to protect a member of the royal family.

Professor William Rubinstein describes this story as “palpable nonsense from beginning to end”. He believes it is the very elusiveness of the solution that continues to make the Ripper mystery so attractive to writers and historians.

3) Kenneth Arnold’s ‘flying saucers’ Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on October 3rd, 2014

Yom Kippur2014Today at sundown, is the beginning of the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּפּוּר or יום הכיפורים.) It’s the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews.

The most heard greeting for the Jewish New Year season is “May your name be inscribed in the Book of Life”. According to Jewish tradition, each person’s fate for the coming year is inscribed in the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah.

In Christianity as well as in Judaism, The Book of Life is the book in which God holds the name of every person who is bound for Heaven. And, according to the Talmud the Book of Life is open on Rosh Hashanah and its opposite for the wicked the Book of the Dead is open on this date as well.

For this reason extra mention is made for the Book of Life during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur particularly called the Days of Awe.

During those 10 days of awe, Jews reconcile with friends, colleagues, family members and enemies. It’s a time to forgive and move on. On the principle that if we can’t forgive others, how can we expect God to forgives us.

There is fasting on Yom Kippur and a horn called a shofar (שופר‎), traditionally that of a ram, is used in synagogue in services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

“In terms of the Gregorian calendar, the earliest date on which Yom Kippur can fall is September 14, as happened in 1899 and will happen again in 2013. The latest Yom Kippur can occur relative to the Gregorian dates is on October 14, as happened in 1967 and will happen again in 2043. After 2089, the differences between the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar will result in Yom Kippur falling no earlier than September 15. Gregorian calendar dates for upcoming Yom Kippur holidays are:

  • 2014:   October 3-4
  • 2015:   September 22-23
  • 2016:   October 11-12
  • 2017:   September 29-30

The Jewish calendar date begins at sundown of the night before. Therefore all Yom Kippur observances begin at sundown on the first secular date listed, and conclude the following day at nightfall.


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In science fiction, invisibility capes can make kids invisible, but up until now, scientists have only been able to hide certain wavelengths of light, which have part of the visible spectrum (The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye, none of us can see. Now researchers at the University of Rochester have used simple easily obtainable components to hide objects in the visible spectrum of light, as in “now you see it; now you don’t”.

Although this system doesn’t work fully to hide you from the bad guys, it could eliminate blind spots in vehicles or let surgeons see through their hands during delicate operations.

The idea behind cloaking is to manipulate light waves to force them round an object like sending river water around a stone. Often, scientists use high tech, exotic meta-materials that are costly to develop to manipulate part of the spectrum that can’t be seen by the human eye, or only work when one looks directly at the object being cloaked. If you shift, you might see the object or background shift around, which gives away the trick.

John Howell, a professor of physics at the University of Rochester, and graduate student Joseph Choi, has combined four standard optical lenses in a way that keeps the object hidden, even as the viewer moves side to side.

Right now, the set up is not perfect. The cloak bends light and sends it through the center of the device so that the on-axis region cannot be blocked or cloaked.

The cloaked region is shaped like a doughnut but have already devised slightly more complicated designs that solve.

The researchers published their results in the journal Optics Express. They’ve also published a recipe for a do-it-yourself cloaking device at home.

To read the entire article or try it out, visit Phys.Org here and scroll to the bottom of the page. Take a look at the fascinating video below too:

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FamilyTreeNowThe following information about the new free genealogy site comes with a thank you to Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter:

A new genealogy site has appeared within the past few days at It is billed as being completely free for everything. The site is in beta and claims to have “billions of historical records, including census (1790-1940) records, birth records, death records, marriage & divorce records, living people records, and military records.”

I took a look at the site and was impressed. It doesn’t have everything that the well-established commercial web sites have, but the price tag of free will appeal to many.

I performed a few searches of the U.S. census records, death records (all apparently are from the Social Security Death Index), and marriage records. I found all the records that I expected to find, namely for records I had already found on various for-pay web sites. In all cases, it appears that the transcribed records are available on but I could not find images of the original records.

The search seems to always start with a name. To perform a search, you must first enter the name of the person whose information you seek. Experienced genealogists know that when searching for an elusive ancestor you often start by not looking for a name but by looking for records from a particular county or perhaps military records or some other record collection. That is very useful when you are suspicious that the transcribed version may have not spelled a name correctly. I did not see the capability to search by record set on

I was surprised to see many listings for living people online, including myself. The records I could identify were from telephone books, birth records, and other public information. I am not an attorney but I believe that information is already in the public domain and therefore is legal to publish. (I’ll invite contradictions from anyone with a legal background. Please comment at the end of this article.)

The site has no advertising at this time, something unusual for a free online service. I wouldn’t be surprised to see advertising added at a future date. After all, the owners have to pay the bills somehow!

I do not see any names listed for the owners although the “About Us” page states, “ was launched in 2014 by some technology veterans who like taking services that typically cost money and making them free so everyone can use them. We have great offices in Roseville, CA where we draw up new features on our giant whiteboard wall and generally try to have a good time while also working really hard.”

An aggressive search on Google does uncover the web site’s owner, however. It is not a name I recognized as a person who has long been active in the genealogy community.

All in all, I did find quite a bit of useful information on As a brand-new online site that is still in beta, you can expect it doesn’t have everything available yet and lots of improvements and additions will probably be added in the future as users offer their feedback.

You can see for yourself at

The latest news from Findmypast is as follows:

Today we’re delighted to announce that we’ve published  four million parish records in partnership with the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium. We’ve worked with six Yorkshire archives to make these records available online for the very first time. This collection comprises beautiful scanned images of the original handwritten registers from 1538 to 1989, alongside fully searchable transcripts of the original documents.

The first phase of this landmark project, released today, includes nearly a million parish records from North Yorkshire County Record Office, Doncaster Archives and Local Studies, East Riding Archives and Local Studies Service, Teesside Archives and Sheffield Archives and Local Studies, as well as over 3 million parish records and Bishop’s Transcripts from the Borthwick Institute for Archives (University of York), which cover the whole of Yorkshire including West Yorkshire. Further Yorkshire parish records will be released in 2015.

As the provenances of the records are defined by historical, rather than modern boundaries, areas now outside of today’s Yorkshire are also covered, such as County Durham. On completion this will be the most comprehensive online repository of Yorkshire family history records anywhere in the world.

Famous Yorkshiremen found in the records Read the rest of this entry »

The following update comes from DeceasedOnline. There are several useful links on this update:

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is a large local unitary authority in Southern Lancashire immediately to the north of Bolton (within Greater Manchester) and sandwiched between the Boroughs of Chorley, Rossendale and Hyndburn and south of Ribble Valley. Besides the substantial town of Blackburn, the area includes the notable towns of Belmont, Chapeltown, Darwen, Edgworth, Hoddlesden and Tockholes. The Council area has a population of around 150,000 and has a history strongly associated with cotton, textiles and the industrial revolution. Blackburn itself is a former mill town since being one of the UK’s leading textile areas of production starting in the 18th Century through to the mid-20th Century. This in turn led to considerable technological innovation and engineering. The area is so strongly linked with the production of cotton products that it was nicknamed ‘Cotton Town’.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council manages three cemeteries and a crematorium. These are indicated below together with the date range of records available on Deceased Online:

  • Blackburn Cemetery (aka Whalley New Road): 1859 – 1997
  • Darwen Cemetery: 1861 – 1998
  • Pleasington Cemetery: 1969 – 2001
  • Pleasington Crematorium: 1957 – 2003

In most instances, the records comprise: Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on September 29th, 2014

$10 Off at the A&E Shop

On September 29, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to divide control of occupied Poland along the Bug River—the Germans taking everything west, the Soviets taking everything east.

As a follow-up to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, (also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact), that created a non-aggression treaty between the two behemoth military powers of Germany and the U.S.S.R., Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, met with his Soviet counterpart, V.M. Molotov, to sign the German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty. The fine print of the original non-aggression pact had promised the Soviets a slice of eastern Poland; now it was merely a matter of agreeing where to draw the lines.

Joseph Stalin, Soviet premier and dictator, personally drew the line that partitioned Poland. Originally drawn at the River Vistula, just west of Warsaw, he agreed to pull it back east of the capital and Lublin, giving Germany control of most of Poland’s most heavily populated and industrialized regions. In return, Stalin wanted Lvov, and its rich oil wells, as well as Lithuania, which sits atop East Prussia. Germany now had 22 million Poles, “slaves of the Greater German Empire,” at its disposal; Russia had a western buffer zone.

On this same day, the Soviet Union also signed a Treaty of Mutual Assistance with the Baltic nation of Estonia, giving Stalin the right to occupy Estonian naval and air bases. A similar treaty would later be signed with Latvia. Soviet tanks eventually rolled across these borders, in the name of “mutual assistance,” placing the Baltic States into the hands of the U.S.S.R. for decades to come. These “treaties” were once again merely the realization of more fine print from the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, giving Stalin more border states as buffer zones, and protecting Russian territory where the Bolshevik ideology had not been enthusiastically embraced from intrusion by its western neighbor, namely its non-aggression partner Germany. The highly vulnerable Baltic nations had little to say about any of these arrangements; they were merely annexed.

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Tom Morris golfing shop St. Andrews Scotland

The latest from the informative resource Scotland’s People:

Among the hundreds of thousands of Victorian Scots who can be found in the latest year of Valuation Rolls to be released on ScotlandsPeople are two of the most celebrated sportsmen of the era, the golfers Old Tom Morris and his eldest son Young Tom.

Valuation rolls for 1875 covering the whole of Scotland have become available, enabling searches for property owners, tenants and occupiers across Scotland from 1875 to 1920, and often revealing valuable information about the inter-census years. The latest addition comprises over 900,000 index entries and almost 72,000 digital images taken from 141 volumes of Valuation Rolls.


Old Tom Morris

All the Rolls are fully searchable by name and address, and researchers can investigate people living, working and playing all over Scotland – from country estates to city tenements, castles to crofts, and factories to golf courses. Researchers at the National Records of Scotland were particularly interested to spot 17 golf clubs and societies around Scotland – from Ayrshire to Aberdeen – plus three Golf Inns.

Tom Morris father and son were not only renowned professional golfers, but Old Tom was also a sought-after maker of golf clubs and balls at his shop in St Andrews, where he was helped by his sons. His family was also prospering. Young Tom was already a successful professional player, having won the Open three times by the age of nineteen, and was newly-married. In early 1875 his daughter Elizabeth also married, but the year turned out to be the family’s ‘annus horribilis’, when tragic personal loss followed professional success.

Using the newly-available Valuation Rolls, and records of births, deaths, marriages and wills that are already on ScotlandsPeople, archivists at the National Records of Scotland have pieced together the sad tale of Old Tom and his family. ‘Old Tom Morris’s Terrible Year’, a special display at the National Records of Scotland, enables visitors to learn more about this remarkable story of repeated family loss and extraordinary resilience as Old Tom outlived all his children and their spouses.Old Tom continued his business and designed many golf courses in Scotland and beyond. When this elder statesman of Scottish golf died in 1908 at the age of 86, as the result of an accidental fall in the New Golf Club in St Andrews, only his grandchildren, Elizabeth’s children, survived him.

Tim Ellis, Registrar General and Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said:“The Morrises helped Scotland’s golfing reputation to grow across the world, and we are using the outstanding historical resources of the National Records of Scotland to mark the Ryder Cup with a tribute to two remarkable Scottish sportsmen. The release of the Valuation Rolls for 1875 enables people worldwide to take a virtual peek into addresses throughout Scotland between 1841 and 1920 on the ScotlandsPeople website. This is part of the commitment of the National Records of Scotland to provide access to the key records that researchers want.”

The Valuation Rolls can be searched along with statutory registers, old parish registers, Catholic registers, census records, wills and testaments and coats of arms on the ScotlandsPeople website, at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh, and at local family history centres in Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Hawick and Inverness.

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Sandy on September 24th, 2014

After an amazing Season 1, Season 2 on PBS with Henry Louis Gates Jr. looks like another winner:

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The latest update from Fold3 is as follows:

One of Fold3’s newest titles is the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies. Like its name suggests, this collection contains the two navies’ official reports, orders, and correspondence from the Civil War. If you’re interested in the Civil War, this is the go-to title for contemporary, first-hand information about the Northern and Southern navies.

Originally compiled by the Navy Department, the Official Records of the Navies are organized into two series: Series I, with 27 individual volumes, and Series II, with 3 volumes and an index. Series I documents all wartime operations of the two navies, while Series II deals with statistical data of Union and Confederate ships, letters of marque and reprisal, Confederate departmental investigations, Navy and State department correspondence, proclamations and appointments of President Davis, and more.

It took about 40 years for the Navy Department to finish compiling the records, with work officially beginning in 1884 and the final volume of Series II being published in 1922 (and the index in 1927). Because of the massive number of pages contained in the Official Records, Fold3 is still working on getting all of it up on our site. At last check, the project was three-fourths complete (but at least you won’t have to wait 40 years!).

A few interesting finds in the Official Records of the Navies include the following:

  • Union account of the Battle of Gloucester Point, the earliest engagement between the Union navy and the Confederates
  • Confederate report on the Battle of Hampton Roads, the first battle of ironclad ships
  • letter from a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy detailing the death of a fellow lieutenant during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, the battle in which the Confederacy lost its last seaport

Beyond historical information, the Official Records of the Navies can be a good place to look for any of your ancestors who served in either navy during the war. Take a look through the extensive 457-page index, and you’ll get an idea of just how many thousands of names are mentioned in the records. Even if you don’t find your specific ancestors, you’re almost guaranteed to find information about their commanding officers or the ships they served on, helping you to round out your general knowledge of what those ancestors’ lives were like.

Get started browsing through the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies here, or do a search instead.

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Dear Scotland,

I thankfully don’t have any skin in the game and will view the outcome of the Scottish Independence vote with interest from afar. Please vote with your heads and not your hearts. Remember, a marriage is with the heart, a divorce with the head.

That said, a little bird told me those North Sea oil wells are starting to run dry. I did, however, resent Prime Minister Cameron’s threatening tones that you can’t change your mind and come back. So no welcome return of the “Prodigal Son” and no “Will Ye No Come Back Again?” will be part of the Scotland’s future if the “yes” vote wins.

To be fair to Prime Minister Cameron, I did not hear his entire speech, only a sound bite.  The sound bite is a device frequently used by the media and too often serves to influence an outcome.  The name Cameron is representative of one of the largest and important Scottish clans (okay, I know his last name doesn’t mean an undying love for the “wee bit hill and glen”).

Take a look at the cartoon video below and enjoy. Even The Simpson’s are interested in the outcome.

Yours aye,



PERSI is an amazing resource for family historians and genealogists. If you haven’t heard about it before I’d like to share the following explanation with you from

The Periodical Source Index, or PERSI, is the largest subject index to genealogy and local history periodical articles in the world.[1] Created by the staff of the Allen County Public Library Foundation and the ACPL’s Genealogy Center, PERSI is widely recognized as a vital tool for genealogical researchers. PERSI indexes articles in 11,000 periodical titles (including 3,000 defunct titles) published by thousands of local, state, national and international societies and organizations, arranging 2.25 million entries by surname or location and 22 basic subject headings. An important tool for genealogists looking for new avenues of investigation, PERSI’s usefulness is not limited to family history researchers. Local historians and academics, archaeologists and demographers, as well as students from elementary to graduate school and beyond, will all find PERSI an important asset in their research.

The PERSI project began in 1986 with efforts directed at indexing both “current” issues, to be published in annual volumes, and “retrospective” issues, to be published in a 16 volume set covering 1847-1985. The Family History Library made the 16 volume set available on microfiche, but the print volumes provided the principal access for researchers until Ancestry began to briefly issue CDs containing the entire retro set, all annual volumes, plus additional pre-1986 material.

In 1997, the last year for which an annual print volume was produced, PERSI was made available as an online database at However, it is no longer available at that site.

PERSI is searchable at (Available only to organizational subscriptions)

Under the auspices of the ACPL Foundation, the project currently employs a staff of eight, including a full-time supervisor and assistant supervisor, as well as part-time encoders (indexers), editors, and request fulfillment personnel.

PERSI is also available and searchable at” 

Click on to access and learn a lot more about this phenomenal resource.


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Sandy on September 14th, 2014

On September 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key penned a poem which was later set to music 117 years later in 1931 became America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The poem, originally titled “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the sight of a lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, as reflected in the now-famous words of the “Star-Spangled Banner”: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

Francis Scott Key was born on August 1, 1779, at Terra Rubra, his family’s estate in Frederick County (now Carroll County), Maryland. He became a successful lawyer in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and was later appointed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

On June 18, 1812, America declared war on Great Britain after a series of trade disagreements. In August 1814, British troops invaded Washington, D.C., and burned the White House, Capitol Building and Library of Congress. Their next target was Baltimore.

After one of Key’s friends, Dr. William Beanes, was taken prisoner by the British, Key went to Baltimore, located the ship where Beanes was being held and negotiated his release. However, Key and Beanes weren’t allowed to leave until after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Key watched the bombing campaign unfold from aboard a ship located about eight miles away. After a day, the British were unable to destroy the fort and gave up. Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry and quickly penned a few lines in tribute to what he had witnessed.

The poem was printed in newspapers and eventually set to the music of a popular English drinking tune called “To Anacreon in Heaven” by composer John Stafford Smith. People began referring to the song as “The Star-Spangled Banner” and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson announced that it should be played at all official events. It was adopted as the national anthem on March 3, 1931.

Francis Scott Key died of pleurisy on January 11, 1843. Today, the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1914 is housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

jfk-weddingOn September 12, 1953, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, the future 35th president of the United States, married Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island. Seven years later, the couple became the youngest president and first lady in American history.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was born into a prominent New York family in 1929, and became an avid horsewoman and reader. In 1951, after graduating from George Washington University, Jackie, as she was called, took a tour of Europe. That fall, she returned to the U.S. to begin her first job as the Washington Times-Herald’s “Inquiring Camera Girl.”

Shortly afterward, she met a young, handsome senator from Massachusetts named John Kennedy at a dinner party in Georgetown. They dated over the next two years, during which time Jackie mused at the idea that she might actually marry a man who was allergic to horses, something she never thought she would have considered. In 1953, the two were engaged, when Kennedy gave Jackie a 2.88-carat diamond-and-emerald ring from Van Cleef and Arpels.

“Jack,” as Kennedy was called, and Jackie married on September 12, 1953, at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. Jackie wore an ivory silk gown made by Ann Lowe, an African-American designer. The Catholic mass was attended by 750 guests and an additional 450 people joined the wedding reception at Hammersmith Farm. The couple danced to the Meyer Davis Orchestra’s version of “I Married an Angel.” Davis also performed at Jackie’s parents’ wedding and at Kennedy’s inaugural ball.

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Sandy on September 11th, 2014


Sandy on September 10th, 2014

Right up there with our own National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), with it’s amazing collection of resources, take a look at the British National Archives. Whether you’re looking for ancestors or want to learn more about British History to helps you understand your ancestor’s life experiences, it’s probably the best resource.

Did you know?

If immigrants arrived in Britain from Ireland or the British colonies they were called Britons. If they came from elsewhere (including Scotland before 1707!) they were called aliens.

Take a look at the latest updates from the National Archives:

Naturalization and Alien registration

Search our Naturalisation case papers 1801-1871 (HO 1) and Aliens’ registration cards 1918-1957 (MEPO 35) for people who have made Britain their home.* Our research guide has lots of advice for how to get the most from these records.

Passenger lists

Trace people coming into and leaving the country. Search our Outgoing passenger lists 1890-1960 (BT 27) with our partners at and our Incoming passenger lists 1878-1960 (BT 26) with our partners at* See our research guide for advice on researching passengers.

Begin your journey of Discovery

We’ve launched a new version of Discovery, which now enables you to search, browse and tag millions of record descriptions for archives across the UK, as well as our collection. Start your journey of exploration now!

My Tommy’s War: An Eastender in the Lancers (Part two)

In November 2012 we launched our popular My Tommy’s War blog series following members of staff as they research First World War ancestors. Read the update to the very first blog or see the full list of blogs to get hints and tips for how you too can discover your ‘Tommy’.

The National Archives on your bookshelf

Choose now from a range of books featuring our records. From secrets of our collection to our stunning maps, there’s a book to suit all interests.

Looking for records of a naturalized Briton

This is a brief guide to finding records of a naturalized Briton. It is intended to help you find information about somebody who came to Britain in the past.

For information on how to obtain a copy of a certificate of British nationality between 1 January 1949 and 30 September 1986 or a naturalisation issued between 1 January 1981 and 1 January 1986 please read Certificates of British citizenship instead.

Sandy on September 9th, 2014

If you’re looking for ancestors in Northeast England, Durham Records Online provides records from County Durham and Northumberland for genealogists and historians.

The latest updates with links are as follows:


independence-poll-scotlandAccording to Bloomberg News, executives at Scotch whisky suppliers Pernod Ricard, maker of The Glenlivet single malt, and Diageo are among those concerned about the economic consequences of a vote for Scottish independence on September 18, 2014.

The following article written by Peter Evans for the Wall Street Journal is timely. This is probably a case where Scots might want to vote with their heads, not their hearts, and think it all through:

LONDON—As polls narrow ahead of a referendum on Scottish independence, business leaders once confident Scotland would remain part of the U.K. are starting to get jittery.

“Two weeks away from the Scottish referendum, let’s hope we’re not actually going full-circle, that common sense prevails and that we’re going to continue to draw strength from our long-standing union,” said Michael Rake, chairman of telecom giant BT Group BT.A.LN -0.38% PLC and deputy chairman of Barclays BARC.LN -1.95%PLC, in a speech in London on Wednesday.

Mr. Rake, who is also president of the Confederation of British Industry trade body, reflects a growing concern among major figures from the corporate world that Scots could vote for independence on Sept. 18.

A poll released by YouGov on Tuesday showed a surge in support for Scottish independence, giving a boost to the “yes” campaign and its leader, Alex Salmond, currently head of Scotland’s semiautonomous government.

The YouGov poll showed that the margin of voters opposed to independence over those in favor has shrunk to six percentage points, from 22 points less than a month ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on September 7th, 2014

Ray Liotta has an interesting has an interesting perspective on being adopted.HHe shares how he met his birth parents and biological siblings in his 40s:

i-quitWe the people”are finally getting smarter and let’s hope we all remain smart through the November elections. Take a look the epic resignation letter below written by a Congressional staffer that has finally come to light via the New York Daily news with the original posted on Jezebel. Don’t forget to click on the link to below to see the entire resignation letter. I wonder if you’ll be surprised:

The unnamed former aide, who quit in May, goes on to detail a series of outrageous episodes involving his former bosses, but he doesn’t divulge the names of any of the current or former lawmakers.

A fed-up Capitol Hill staffer who recently resigned went out with an epic bang, penning a fiery, no-holds-barred letter that took to task several current and former lawmakers.

The unnamed aide, who ends the blockbuster note with a celebratory “F–k you people,” claims to have worked in Washington for “nearly two decades,” in both “unpaid and underpaid” capacity, and said he or she had finally “f—–g had it” with the job.

“I’ve been in this business for almost 20 years, and I’ve put up with a lot of s–t. I know that’s not a surprise, but the s–t I’ve endured is its own level of crazy,” wrote the staffer, who shared the May 9 resignation letter with

“After nearly two decades of unpaid and underpaid work, student loans for two degrees, late nights, playing therapist/nanny, dealing with angry phone calls, and always being on call like a sleep-deprived Florence f—–g Nightingale, I got tired of hearing ‘You’re not dedicated enough’ one last f—–g time,” the person wrote, going on to detail a series of outrageous — and hilarious — gripes.

One member of Congress, for whom the author interned, was so wrought with anxiety over constituent complaints, the letter stated, that he could break into a panic attack merely over a letter that had negative feedback.

“From a donor, a lobbyist, another member, aliens, his dog, whoever,” the former aide wrote. “A nasty call from a constituent, which is completely normal, could have him anxious for days if he knew about it.”

Another of the author’s employers allegedly called a staff meeting about shoe attire just days before Congress was set to vote on the 2008 bailout bill known as TARP.

“What was the pressing issue in my office? What did we have to have a staff meeting about ASAf—–gP? Appropriate shoe attire,” the former aide wrote. “An individual who was about to vote on one of the most historic pieces of legislation didn’t have the courage to face his own staff to discuss his discomfort of heel height.”

Yet another outrageously flawed candidate had such a shoddy memory that he couldn’t remember the names of any of his staffers, calling all the men “Shane” and all the women “Kelly,” according to the note’s author.

“The candidate didn’t know the difference between snot in his nose and the s–t in his pants,” the letter read. “This guy couldn’t remember anybody’s name, despite multiple reminders and working with us for almost a f—–g year. While most people think that’s normal for a politician, keep in mind that 15 people like me moved their lives across state lines to work 14 hour days for his semi-literate a–. And the pay was less than minimum wage.

The author closes the note with a simple, but biting, valediction: “F–k you people.”

The author never divulges his or her name or the names of those he worked with, but his disclosures could suggest why so many Americans view Washington, D.C. as so dysfunctional.

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