Sandy on March 30th, 2013

According to the latest reports, there’s a recently published book giving evidence that the Shroud of Turin is not, after all, a medieval forgery. It could, in fact, date from the time of Christ’s death.

Scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy have dated the shroud a few centuries before and after the life of Christ (300 BC and 400 AD). The tests have no doubt revived the debate about the true origins of one of Christianity’s most prized relics. I can hear the skeptics getting started already.

Many people believe that the 14ft-long linen cloth, which carries the imprint of the face and body of a bearded man was used as was the custom at the time, to bury Christ’s body when he was lifted down from the cross.

The Vatican has never said whether it believes the shroud to be authentic or not, although Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did say that the enigmatic image in the cloth “reminds us always” of Christ’s suffering.

The most recent analysis is published in a new book, “Il Mistero della Sindone” (The Mystery of the Shroud), authored by Giulio Fanti, a professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University, and also by journalist Saverio Gaeta.

The scientists used infra-red light and spectroscopy (the measurement of radiation intensity through wavelengths) to analyze fibers from the shroud, which is kept in a special climate-controlled case in Turin.

Mr Fanti said that his results were the result of 15 years of research.

A previous study in 1988, conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona, declared the shroud to be a clever medieval fake dating it from 1260 to 1390. However, those results were, in turn, disputed on the basis that they had been skewed by contamination from fibers of cloth used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages.

A viewing of the The Shroud of Turin, thought by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, is reported to be televised today, Holy Saturday on Italian State TV, It is said to be former Pope Benedict XVI’s parting gift to the Catholic Church.

Click on the video below to learn more about the telecast. Also click on Il Mistero della Sindone to learn more about the book.

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Sandy on March 28th, 2013

The following information from British Origins arrived in my inbox today:

Over 389,000 South London (Surrey) burials for the period 1545-1905, with a handful (18) up to 1957 plus one as late as 1980, are available for searching on

The South London Burials Index contains surname and forename, age where given in the register, year of burial, parish and additional info / notes, which may include information such as addresses, parents names and other personal details.

South London Burials Index is part of British Origins Greater London Burials 1545-1909 which indexes over 558,000 burials in the City of London, Middlesex and South London (metropolitan Surrey) parishes.

The indexes are covered by two searches:

  1. Middlesex & City of London Burials Index 1560-1909
  2. South London Burials Index 1545-1905

This collection can help you locate individuals who were living in Greater London at a particular time, i.e. before the date of their death. Read the rest of this entry »

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By offering a low cost DNA test, Family Tree DNA aims to expand reach of DNA testing to encourage further exciting discoveries about human origins.

Today’s press release is as follows:

HOUSTON, March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Gene By Gene, Ltd., the Houston-based genomics and genetics testing company, announced that a unique DNA sample submitted via National Geographic’s Genographic Project to its genetic genealogy subsidiary, Family Tree DNA, led to the discovery that the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree is potentially as old as 338,000 years.  This new information indicates that the last common ancestor of all modern Y chromosomes is 70 percent older than previously thought.

The surprising findings were published in the report “An African American Paternal Lineage Adds an Extremely Ancient Root to the Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree” in The American Journal of Human Genetics earlier this month.  The study was conducted by a team of top research scientists, including lead scientist Dr. Michael F. Hammer of the University of Arizona, who currently serves on Gene By Gene’s advisory board, and two of the company’s staff scientists, Drs. Thomas and Astrid-Maria Krahn.

The DNA sample had originally been submitted to National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the world’s largest “citizen science” genetic research effort with more than 500,000 public participants to date, and was later transferred to Family Tree DNA’s database for genealogical research.  Once in Family Tree DNA’s database, long-time project administrator Bonnie Schrack noticed that the sample was very unique and advocated for further testing to be done. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on March 26th, 2013

Passover begins today.  It’s an eight-day festival celebrated in early spring from the 15th though the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan and commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from a life of slavery in ancient Egypt.

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

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

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

The video below explains Passover with clarity: Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on March 25th, 2013

feedlyGoogle has announced the end of Google Reader. Okay, I know I’m a little late with this one but some people are seriously bummed and growing anxious about a replacement.

The reason for shutting it down is probably because of cost and maintenance when the company is busy focusing on their Google+ social network platform, which is having a difficult time competing with Facebook.  I’m sure they are hoping that the millions of  former Google Reader users will switch to Google+.

Now is the time to consider your alternatives including deciding if you still need a reader.  For now, I have already switched to Feedly, which I already like better than Google reader. I’ll consider my options again later on.

Feedly is free and has been around for a while. Unfortunately, it only works with Firefox and Chrome so IE users will not be using this one. iOS, Android, Kindle, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are supported. You need to install a plug in, so if you have a locked down computer it won’t work for you. It is however a social media tool and lets you share things with your friends. If you have a Google ID you can seamlessly migrate all your information from Google Reader.  Click on how to get the most out of Feedly on your desktop to see an array of options available.

Listed below are three more alternatives:  Read the rest of this entry »

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cavepaintingsThe history of comic art is clever and fascinating and I have to confess when I eagerly awaited the delivery of my comic books as a small child, it was all about the hero and not so much about the amazingly creative art and storytelling.

The famous paintings in the caves at Lascaux, France, are the earliest form of “sequential art. They mostly depict animals and were an illustrated chapter of a prehistoric tribe’s hunt for food.

Sequential art (a term coined by comic artist Will Eisner in 1985) is the an art form that uses a series of images in sequence, in other words graphic storytelling to impart information. The most familiar example of sequential art is comic books and comic strips where the graphic art is a printed array of art and balloons.

Artists in Greece used friezes and vases as a medium to tell stories, using sculpture instead of color.

Only five codices of Mayan culture remain today, so the major source of pre-Columbian sequence art are the paintings on pots, urns, plates, and other utensils.

Trajan’s column in Rome, Italy, dedicated in 113AD to commemorate Roman Emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian wars is an amazingly well preserved early surviving example of a narrative told through the use of sequential pictures.

Michelangelo’s (Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564) famous painting covering the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is  the largest sequential story of the Bible in picture form.  The painting took four years to complete (1508–1512).

To reiterate, comic artist Will Eisner (March 6, 1917 – January 3, 2005) actually created the term “sequential  art” in 1985 in his book, Comics & Sequential Art: Principles & Practice of the World’s Most Popular Art Form!. Eisner analyzed the art form into four elements, design, drawing, caricature, and writing.

Scott McCloud, enhanced the explanation in his books Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form.

I will be writing more about comics as we know them today, so stay tuned.

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Genealogical societies in Oklahoma and Georgia are asking for support. Family historians and genealogists who need access to records in these states should think about supporting the efforts of genealogists to keep records available.

As reported in the MGC Sentinel, “in Oklahoma, a law enacted in 2011 limited access to all vital records to those people named in them. The regulations caught up to the law recently with serious repercussions, particularly for death records. If you have been denied a death record from Oklahoma in the last two years, please send a description of your experience to this email address:

In Georgia, there continues to be serious concern about the ability of the Georgia State Archives to remain open to researchers. Right now the state legislature is considering two bills. One would move management of the archives from the Secretary of State’s office to the University of Georgia System. The other, put forward by the Provost of UNC, would add bring the archives’ budget up just enough to assure that critical staff would continue employment.

People who support the Georgia Archives have started their own blog at Look at the post, Archives Update: On To The Senate for information about who to contact in support of the increased budget and the administrative move.”


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The Federation of Genealogical Societies says:

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has joined the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, as well as other organizations, in an effort to ensure continued access to records for the genealogy and family history communities.

The coalition, in a letter dated March 19, 2013, is urging Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah) to take a leadership role on important issues involving technology, privacy and genealogy records access. These include:

  • updating the laws and regulations governing the use of the “Death Master File” of the Social Security Administration and its commercially available Social Security Death Index (SSDI); and

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RootsTech is upon us again. Since its inception two years ago it has quickly become the largest paid family history conference in the United States. It is take place once again in theS Salt Palace ConventionCenter in Salt Lake City on Mar 21-23 and this year with an increased focus and appeal to beginners.

Attendance is expected to exceed last year’s event, which attracted more than 4,000 registrants and was seen by more than 50,000 viewers of live streaming sessions.

To see the complete schedule click on Week-at-a-Glance. On the left side-bar on the Week at a Glance section you will see links to  view of areas of interest as follows:

  • Main Schedule
  • Keynotes
  • Getting Started
  • Developer Day
  • Story@Home
  • Workshops
  • Pass Comparison

Click on the link Live Streaming Schedule to view the live stream agenda.

The fast-paced video below cleverly generates enthusiasm and anticipation of a wonderful conference:

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Sandy on March 16th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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National-Library-of-WalesNewspapers from the “Land of Song” are now online for researchers free of charge. One of Britain’s most important libraries,The National Library of Wales (NLW), has a new website, launched in beta, featuring Welsh Newspapers Online.

You can currently search and access over 250,000 pages from 24 newspaper publications pre-1910. The collection will grow to over a million pages, as more publications are added during this year 2013.

Here’s a copy of the news release:

1,000,000 pages of Welsh history to 1910 online, free of charge.

The National Library of Wales’ Welsh Newspapers Online resource will be launched by Huw Lewis AM, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, at the Pierhead building, Cardiff on Wednesday 13 March. Read the rest of this entry »

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fgs_logoThe following is a news release from the Federation of Genealogical Societies opening their online registration for their annual conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana”

“Journey through Generations” – A Conference for the Nation’s Genealogists

March 8, 2013 – Austin, TX. Online registration is now open for the 2013 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, scheduled for 21-24 August 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Register at by 1 July 2013 for an early-bird discount. This year’s conference theme is “Journey through Generations,” and the local hosts are the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) and the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana (ACGSI).

This year’s FGS conference offers an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in researching their family history. This conference will offer over 160 educational sessions on records, strategies, and tools for genealogists of all levels. Ten different sponsored luncheons will provide opportunities for networking.

Session sponsors include FamilySearch,,,, Fold3, Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild, National Archives and Records Administration, and the Indiana Historical Society.

Conference Highlights Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on March 12th, 2013

Okay this is not historical, but it is hysterical:

“CONCORD, N.C. – Pepsi has unveiled the video it shot at Troutman Motors and Philip Morris here in Concord in February.

The video, which is promoting Pepsi Max, features NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon in disguise taking a test drive of a new Camaro.

Gordon takes the salesman for a wild ride through the Troutman Motors lot, into Philip Morris, including racing along the top of a loading dock.”


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As readers will see from my blog posts, I’m not a political animal.  Being fully aware of the small reduction percentage resulting from sequestration, is cutting the hours at our National Archives absolutely necessary Mr. President?  Closing the “The People’s House” to visitors too! This line spoken by Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet seems appropriate, Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

The following notice is posted in the National Archives blog:

Starting on Friday, March 15, the National Archives will reduce public hours at two locations in the Washington, DC, area as part of actions it is taking due to sequestration.

These reductions will affect exhibit spaces and research rooms at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and research rooms at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

In the past, the National Archives offered extended hours for exhibit spaces from March 15 through Labor Day, when the building stayed open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.  We will no longer offer these extended hours. Exhibit spaces at the National Archives Building in Washington DC will remain open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week, year round. Please note that the last admission will be at 5:00 p.m.

Research rooms at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, are normally open to researchers six days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. three days a week (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday).  We will no longer offer these extended hours. The research rooms will remain open to researchers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, year round.

In announcing the reduced hours, the Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said “We don’t take these reductions lightly. We are working hard to achieve our mission and minimize disruptions to the services we provide to the public.”

Thanks for your patience and understanding as we adjust our hours and work to serve researchers and visitors.

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stonehedge-analysisAccording to British researchers Stonehenge may have been started as a giant burial ground for elite families around 3,000 B.C.

New studies have been made on cremated human remains  indicated that about 500 years before Stonehenge as we see it today, a larger stone circle was built at the same site as a community graveyard.

“These were men, women, children, so presumably family groups,” University College London professor Mike Parker Pearson, who led the team, said. “We’d thought that maybe it was a place where a dynasty of kings was buried, but this seemed to be much more of a community, a different kind of power structure.”

Archaeologists have studied the cremated bones of 63 people and believe they were buried around 3,000 B.C. with the original markers of blue stones. The  earlier enclosure measured about 300 feet across and could have been a burial ground for about 200 or more.

Analysis of the remains of a Neolithic settlement near the monument appears to show that  thousands of people traveled from as far as Scotland to the site, bringing their livestock and families for huge feasts and celebrations during the winter and summer solstices.

Team leader Pearson said the latest study suggested that Stonehenge should be seen less a temple of worship than a kind of building project that served to unite people from across Britain.

If you’d like to read more about the latest theory, click on Discovery.

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The latest update from the world’s best known free website is as follows with images are added to their existing collection:

FamilySearch added an additional 10.5 million indexed records and images in the last two weeks. The largest portion of this update includes the 8,613,673 images added to the New York Probate Records from 1629 to 1971, increasing this collection’s images by 63 percent. Other notable collection updates are the 699,800 indexed records and images from the Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Immigration Cards from 1900 to 1965, and the 307,448 images from the Peru, Lima, Civil Registration from 1874 to 1996. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

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

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I’ve mentioned many times on that the National Library of Scotland (NLS) is an amazing resource for everyone. Although Scotland was just about the poorest country in the western world it led the world in education.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, women did have to overcome significant obstacle to pursue scientific interests during an era where universities had only started accepting women and other societies continue to exclude them.

The news release that follows gives information on ‘Scottish women of science: Celebrating trailblazers from our past” and gives details about the current exhibition celebrating 11 women of science chosen among a list of many more. Click on all links to learn more about these remarkable women:

 “The enduring legacy of some remarkable Scottish women of science — most of whom remain largely unknown today — is being celebrated at the National Library of Scotland.

They include: Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on March 5th, 2013

Progeny Genealogy has an interesting lineup of family tree charting software, which gives the ability to create beautiful charts of your family history in records time.

Probably the most interesting in the line-up, which includes timeline charts and family maps,  is Progeny 3D Family Tree. It’s the only program with the ability to display your family tree in three dimensions giving you a whole new insight into your roots. Photos of your relatives—if you have them—brings the tree to life.

When you visit the site you can see samples and there’s a how-to video to show how easy it is to navigate.  You can publish your tree on the Internet in X3D or VRML format (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) and the software reads:

  • Family Tree Maker
  • Personal Ancestral File
  • Legacy
  • Ancestral Quest
  • Roots Magic

There’s a robust informational systems requirements chart which covers a lot of key areas.

Currently you can purchase a download for $29.95 US—the regular price is $34.95 US.

I’ve always found printing a problem but with this 3D software you’ll likely achieve a great visual impact on your computer screen, and if you have the technology a big screen TV.

If you’d like to take a look at the site and view the instructional video, click on Progeny Genealogy.

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The following is a news release dated March 1, 2013, from regarding millions of new Yorkshire, England parish records:

We’re very pleased to announce our project to publish millions of Yorkshire parish baptism, marriage and burial records on

Spanning the years from 1538 into the 20th century, the records cover parish church registers and bishops’ transcripts from most of Yorkshire. We estimate there to be 15 million records, which will include images of the registers, as well as transcripts.

We’ll be making the records available online for the first time, in association with the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium, which comprises six Yorkshire archives. Together these archives hold the parish registers for a large proportion of Yorkshire.

This will be the largest online collection of Yorkshire records and will be a real boost to anyone tracing their Yorkshire ancestors. We’ll bring you more news about this project as soon as we can.

Our parish records collection contains millions of records from all over England and Wales and we add new records every month.

How many ancestors have you discovered in our parish records?

Search Parish Records Now.

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Cece Moore of Your Genetic Genealogist says:

I am so pleased to be able to say that the support for the inaugural independent genetic genealogy conference has exceeded my most ambitious aspirations. My appreciation goes out to Professor Gates, Dr. Wells and all of our wonderful speakers for graciously and enthusiastically accepting my invitation to be part of this groundbreaking event. (You can register here.) The press release announcing the exciting addition of Professor Gates to our schedule follows:



 It’s rare that a new type of event is introduced to the genealogical community. The Southern California Genealogical Society and the International Society of Genetic Genealogy are proud to announce such an event.

“Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2013” is a one-day conference designed to fully explore the application of genetic genealogy in researching family history. It will be held Thursday, June 6, 2013, at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport, Burbank, California. Registrations are open now and an early-bird registration discount is in place through April 30.

“We are so excited that this new conference will break new ground in genetic genealogy gatherings,” said SCGS president Alice Fairhurst, who helped to found the society’s DNA interest group and has been actively applying DNA in her own genealogy research. “Family History and DNA” differs from other DNA events in several ways. Read the rest of this entry »

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librariesThe  satirical shows on late night TV could have a field day with this one. The point of view in an article I’m about to share with you is so blatantly self-serving that it’s almost humorous. Although we have a problem with library budgets in the US, the critic in this case is a best-selling children’s author and whose books are the seventh most-borrowed children’s writer in the UK.

Terry Deary says that libraries “have been around too long” and are no longer relevant. This  horrible writer writes “Horrible Histories”. He says they are a drain on taxpayers and authors. Hmm. See what I mean?

He claims that he’s not attacking libraries, just the concept of entitlement that allows people to read books for free at the expense of authors and council tax payers. “This is not the Victorian Age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature.” I’ve got news for Deary——we still have impoverished people all over the world who rely on their public libraries for literature, research and other important stuff to improve the quality of life.

Unlike other authors throughout the U.K. who have come together to protest the closures of their local branches, Deary remains adamant about his point of view. As you can probably imagine,  Deary has been getting a lot of hate mail. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on February 28th, 2013

FamilySearch keeps getting bigger and better and it all makes life more interesting from the end user’s point of view. The following is the latest news via the FamilySearch blog:

FamilySearch is pleased to announce that and Legacy Mobile are the new certified Tree Access applications for February 2013. TenGenChart and Legacy Mobile are Tree Access certified. “Certified” means the product is compatible with and has features that conform to our strict standards of quality.

Family Search Icon-Access The Tree Access icon indicates that you can read FamilySearch Family Tree data from within the vendor’s application.

FamilySearch Icon-Connect1The Tree Connect icon indicates that you can attach references for records, images, stories, and other media about your ancestor. These attached sources of evidence can be viewed by anyone using FamilySearch Family Tree.

TenGenChart is Tree Access certified. With one click, FamilySearch users are able to create circular 10 generation pedigree charts for themselves or a family member. The site also permits a user to upload a GEDCOM5 file to seed the chart. This amazing technology is easy to use, always free, and creates huge 46×36 inch charts. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on February 26th, 2013

Scottish_royal_coat_of_armsThere’s a scam out there that has been going on for a surprising number of years—probably around 30. The pitch comes from folks who claim to be following strict heraldic guidelines. For a nominal fee, they will provide detailed research and will mail out your family Coat of Arms or family crest, all with a speedy turn-around-time Yet another case of Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).

Unless you have special circumstances, there is no Coat of Arms. In Scotland, if your last name is Bruce, Buchanan, McDonald, McMillan, Forbes, etc., you might have a clan crest on display, but that’s different. Coats of arms were never given to families, so there is no family coat of arms.

Coats of arms were given by a monarch to a person to identify him in batter at a time when suits of armor made them indistinguishable when the visor on the helmet was closed.  The coat of arms was painted on the shield and embroidered on the loose short coat worn over the armor called a “surcoat” and enabled identification of friend or foe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Edinburgh's Greyfriars Bobby

Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Bobby

Another useful and interesting free online resource comes to the web from Edinburgh Library and Information Services. It’s a great way to explore Scotland’s capital city’s past through stories, images and historical maps from the collections of libraries.

This aggregate of resources is the largest collection of material about the Scottish capital city in the world and includes rare or unique items.

Find your way around the map like a regular Google map. Click and drag to pan around, and use your mouse wheel or the zoom control on the left to zoom in and out. There are some features that automatically adjust the zoom level and map boundaries for you.

You can: Read the rest of this entry »

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The following is a news release from regarding an innovative test new available to the general public providing analysis your genetic ethnicity, living relative matches, and further insight into family history research:

(PROVO, Utah) – February 21, 2013–, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced the public availability of its AncestryDNA test to U.S. residents. This easy-to-use, comprehensive test provides consumers with their genetic ethnicity and the unique opportunity to connect DNA results directly to any applicable family trees, matching test takers with other close or distant family members. Combined, these features provide the most complete snapshot of one’s family history that has ever been available.

Interest in using DNA to explore family history is growing. In a 2012 Harris Interactive survey, 56 percent of Americans—more than 110 million people—stated they would be interested in taking a DNA genealogy test. This number is 14 percent higher than the previous year. For many, this interest in family history extends far beyond American soil. Nearly two out of three respondents told Harris that learning about their family’s roots outside the U.S. is one of the most important benefits of researching family history. Read the rest of this entry »

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scottish-lion-rampantPeople of Medieval Scotland is a wonderful free resource that you might want to take a look at if you have Scottish ancestry or an interest in Scottish history.

The database holds all information assembled about every individual involved in actions is Scotland from documentation written between the death of Malcolm III on 13 November 1093 and Robert I’s (Robert the Bruce) Parliament at Cambuskenneth on November 6, 1314.

The boundaries of Scotland changed around the time of King Robert the Bruce, therefore, for the sake of consistency, the database covers all the territory that had become part of Scotland by the death of Alexander III—The Isle Man and Berwick are included but the Orkney and Shetland Islands in the North are not.

The database draws on over 8600 documents from the time frame are directed by one or more individuals to others by name or in general terms to structure the database according to the formal aspects of the documents with potential to be used as a way of researching the way social relationships were mediated by the documents themselves as well as a source of information.

There’s so much more to explore and I found the website a truly fascinating. It’s filled with information for historians and genealogists alike.

Click on People of Medieval Scotland to visit the site. I’m also adding the link to my Blogroll. also has a blog post on this subject plus the following interesting links to several family trees:

  1. The Scottish Royal Family, 1093-1286
  2. Descendants of Earl David of Huntingdon, 1093-1286
  3. The English Royal Family
  4. Manx Royal Family

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After all the buzz, Microsoft is finally removing Hotmail and switching people to Outlook. The migration is expected to be completed by the early summer.

Microsoft is hoping that Outlook will blow a hole in Gmail’s market dominance. This is really big considering there are about 350 million people still using Hotmail.

Outlook’s myriad of little touches, such as its sweep-up facility, which washes spam clean away and its highly sociable character have made it a popular alternative on the free mail front.

I have to say, compared to Aol, the big rival Gmail handles it very well. It’s an understatement to say the spam reaching your free Aol account is horrendous. And, they don’t want to talk to you about it unless you pay for the service.

If you want to make the switch from Hotmail to Outlook now all you need to do is to click on the Settings button then Convert to Outlook.

If you’d like to take a look and compare Outlook to your existing email account at Google or Yahoo etc., Read the rest of this entry »

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Another interesting launch from Findmypast of a new  collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales from 1770–1934 as follows:

Today we launched our ‘Bad Boys’ collection – the largest collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales to be published online, in association with the National Archives (U.K.).

Use the promotional code ‘criminalfor 20 free credits to test this amazing collection out.

Over 2.5 million records dating from 1770-1934 will be easily searchable and provide a wide variety of color, detail and fascinating social history, chronicling the fate of criminals ranging from fraudsters, counterfeiters, thieves and murderers and their victims.

With this new addition, World Subscribers will have access to mug shots, court documents, appeal letters, registers from the prison ‘hulk’ ships used when mainland prisons were overcrowded. The first 500,000 of criminal records are now available to search on, and the remainder is to be online soon. Read the rest of this entry »

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USSMonitor1862Built at the Continental Iron Works in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York, the USS Monitor (called the cheese box on a raft) was the first ironclad warship to be commissioned by the United Sates navy during the American Civil War. Her participation in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, was her most famous, where she fought with the casemate ironclad CSS Virginia of the Confederate State Navy.

Monitor also took part in the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff later that month and remained in the area until she was ordered to join the blockaders off North Carolina in December. The Monitor foundered while being towed during a storm off  Cape Hatteras on December 31, 1962.

The following is a news release from Washington NNS with news of a March 8 ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to inter the remains of two heroes recovered and honor others who perished on the USS Monitor when it sank:

WASHINGTON (NNS) — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Feb. 12 that remains recovered from the USS Monitor will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

A ceremony will be held March 8 to honor the two unknown Sailors. Read the rest of this entry »

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FamilySearch has added 19 new collections as follows:

Included are 19 new collections: 7 from Napoli, Italy, 7 from the United States, 4 from Germany, and 1 from Netherlands. Among these collections are the United States Draper Manuscript Collection from 1740 to 1960 (more information can be found here), the Germany, Brandenburg, Bernau bei Berlin Jewish Records from 1688 to 1872, and the United States Revolutionary War Rolls from 1775 to 1783. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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The following is the latest release of valuable new records from ScotlandsPlaces:

“ScotlandsPlaces has now launched the Perthshire and Sutherland Ordnance Survey name books. Also recently release were the 18th century dog tax, cart tax, and carriage tax.

Two more OS name books now available

15th February, 2013: ScotlandsPlaces has just released two more Ordnance Survey name books:

  • Perthshire, 1859-1862
  • Sutherland, 1871-1875

More resources will be added in the coming months including the Ordnance Survey name books for Perthshire, Morayshire, and Sutherland, as well as more historical tax rolls.

More historical tax rolls now available Read the rest of this entry »

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killing-lincolnBill O’Reilly the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor along with Martin Dugard have authored the story of how one gunshot changed our country forever.

In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America’s Civil War finally came to an end after a series frightening battles. President Abraham Lincoln’s terms for Robert E. Lee’s surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln’s dream of healing a divided nation. With the former Confederates permitted to rejoin American society. One man and his accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of government, were not appeased and assassinated Lincoln.

The following is a news release from Business Wire about the National Geographic Channel’s airing of Killing Lincoln on Monday, February 17the at 8 p.m. ET/PT:

”BALTIMORE–(BUSINESS WIRE)– National Geographic Channel, mediahub/Mullen and Millennial Media (NYSE: MM  ) , today announced a new mobile advertising campaign around the upcoming world premiere of the network’s first original factual drama Killing Lincoln, based on Bill O’Reilly’s best-selling book and airing Sunday, February 17th at 8pm ET/PT.The one-day promotion is designed to drive consumers to tune in to the documentary, and using Millennial Media’s Mobile Audience Solutions, the campaign will be targeted specifically to audiences using home Wi-Fi networks, ensuring that consumers will most likely be near a TV. The campaign will also run exclusively on tablets, allowing National Geographic Channel to reach the growing base of consumers who are using tablets to complement their television watching experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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aaaaSt Malachy 2Although the Catholic church regards the prophecy as a forgery, we are currently living in times where some  see the Irish Saint Malachy’s prophecy as so significant that it’s considered hindsight.

St. Malachy was a 12th century Irish Archbishop of Armagh,  who predicted, from a prophetic vision, that the next Pope after Benedict will be the last, known as Peter the Roman (Petrus Romanus),  who will guide  us through trials and tribulations leading to the destruction of Rome and the time where Gods people will be judged. “In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit [i.e., as bishop]. Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people. The End.

Some believe that it all refers to an Italian pope who would take Peter’s name but this is not necessarily the case. After all Polish Karol Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II and German Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI.

In 1139, Malachy went on a pilgrimage to Rome to give an account of his affairs. It was during the return trip that he received a vision about the future that included the name of every pope, totaling 112 from his time, who would rule until the end of time. Is the Catholic church about to nominate the last prophecy.

His predictions are taken very seriously. As one report states: ” In 1958, before the Conclave that would elect Pope John XXIII, Cardinal Spellman of New York hired a boat, Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on February 11th, 2013

In these days of difficult personal finances, I’ve been on the lookout for interesting free resources for genealogists. You might want to take note for the record that The Google + hangout is becoming increasingly popular and a very informational meeting place and I was very impressed by the amount of digitized newspapers for genealogical purposes that are now available online and searchable free of charge.

Kenneth R. Marks of The Ancestor Hunt has put this information on his blog. It’s truly must share information and includes an 18 minute video clip which provides some great instruction plus 5 important links. I lost track of time looking at the links and recommend them as a tremendous assets.

The 5 links to are listed below:

Historic American Newspapers – Library of Congress

Penn Libraries - Historical Newspapers Online

Lawson Research Services (Leslie Lawson) – Newspaper Links of Old

Online Historical Newspapers Website (Miriam Robbins)

Wikipedia Online Newspaper Archives

Click on the video below to hear Kenneth detail the various sources and their search methods.

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The latest FamilySearch news release is as follows:

FamilySearch added 8.5 million new, free indexed records and images this week to its collection. Included are 2,897,940 additional index records and images for the new New York State Census of 1855 collection, the 1,070,807 index records and images from the Texas Birth Certificates collection from 1903-1935, and the 554,541 images from the Italy, Catania, Diocesi di Caltagirone, Catholic Church Records collection from 1502-1942. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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dnastructureTo celebrate the first anniversary of their DNA testing program, MyHertitage is offering significant discounts to make DNA tests more affordable for all their users.

A year ago they teamed up with Family Tree DNA and from experience and research I think they are currently the best (FTDNA). See my original article click on: MyHeritage the world’s largest family genealogy network now offers DNA testing.

The discounts are available for a limited period and if you’ve been considering having a test for a while, now is the time. Although I have to mention, the Y-DNA 12 marker test is a starter test regardless of vendor and won’t really tell you much. The Family Finder test is a good deal at the low cost of $169 instead of $289.

MyHeritage says:

For a very limited time, we’re offering the Family Finder test at the low cost of $169 instead of $289. Additionally, we’re offering a 10% discount on all DNA tests (other than Family Finder) for our Premium subscribers and 15% off for our PremiumPlus subscribers.”

The Family Finder test uses autosomal DNA from your mother and father approximately within last 6 generations.

A significant price reduction is also offered on the Comprehensive Genome test US $598 down from $797. This test is the most comprehensive and highest resolution DNA test.

To learn more about the DNA tests and what you can expect, click on MyHeritage All DNA Tests.


Sandy on February 8th, 2013

As an update to my blog post on the new collection of British newspapers I’m adding this link to their interesting podcast where you can listen to Josh Taylor discuss what you can expect with the collection.

Click on British Newspapers at  to listen and learn more about it.

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The following news release comes from Findmypast:

Throughout the next 10 years, approximately 8,000 new pages will be digitized every day and every new addition will be included in existing subscriptions.

The British have always had a particularly voracious appetite for newspapers, especially during the 19th century when nearly every town in the country had its own newspaper. From the man who decided to walk around the world in an iron mask to the coronation of Queen Victoria, British newspapers have captured every aspect of people’s lives.

The British newspapers are part of an exclusive partnership with the British Library to digitize 50 million pages over the next 10 years.

Until now, if you wanted to use these newspapers you’d have to travel to Colindale in the UK and call up the bound volumes or microfilm reels and  Read the rest of this entry »

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In addition to my blog post yesterday on the identification of the remains of Richard III of England, I’m adding a couple of videos regarding the role that DNA played in the amazing discovery. We have come so far in the science of DNA in the past couple of years I’m in awe of what can be done. See below:

Professor Kevin Schürer, the University of Leicester’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, discusses how direct descendants of King Richard III’s family were traced, whose DNA could then be used to identify the remains found under a council car park in September 2012 as those of the King. See below:

Dr Turi King from the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics and Dr Jo Appleby from the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History discuss the scientific processes and techniques which will be applied to the skeleton found under a council car park in September 2012, techniques which will subsequently confirm the remains as those of King Richard III. See below:

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RichardIIILead archaeologist Richard Buckley said today that the remains found beneath a social services car park in Leicester, England are “beyond reasonable doubt” the remains of Richard III the last Plantagenet King of England who was killed in battle in 1485.

The remains bore the marks of ten injuries inflicted shortly before his death. It was a horrible death according to reports of “humiliation” injuries. The skeleton showed marks of ten injuries.

Richard III was known as the hunchback king and the remains showed evidence of curvature of the spine and

Richard, was rendered by William Shakespeare as a monstrous tyrant who murdered the two princes in the Tower of London and died at the Battle of Bosworth Field, by an army led by Henry Tudor.

The discovery will certainly rewrite history. Click on Capital Bay to read today’s report and see some interesting photos of the skeleton.

Also click on One Page News to see video commentary.

The Family History Library has a policy change for patrons requesting copies from the library in Salt Lake City, Utah, as follows:

Please note the following change in the policy for patrons who are requesting copies from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

All requests for information copied from films, book pages, CDs, marriage, death or birth certificates, wills and/or deeds, etc. will be copied in digital format and emailed to patrons in a zipped PDF or JPG file format. There is no charge for this service if we are able to email to information to patrons.

If a patron does not have an email address, we can mail the information to the patron using the US Postal Service.  However, as much as possible, we will rely on emailing all requests for information through the internet. If patrons do not own a computer or do not have an email address, they can request to have the information emailed to their local Family History Center, where they can print the information at the center.

Patrons should request copies by emailing their request to  All requests MUST include the following information: Read the rest of this entry »

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New England town maps are more useful to genealogy researchers than county maps. now has maps showing each town and the town’s neighbors in New England , New York, and Canada. Thanks to Wiki contributors eventually maps will be clickable by town so a click on the map will take users to the page detailing the records of the town.

So far Wiki maps have been added for:

  • Connecticut:  8 county maps with 169 cities or towns
  • Massachusetts:  14 county maps with 351 cities or towns
  • New Hampshire:  10 county maps with 13 cities, 221 towns, and 24 unorganized townships
  • Rhode Island:  5 county maps with 8 cities and 31 towns
  • and most of Maine:  12 of 16 county maps with 22 cities, 435 towns, 33 plantations, 424 unorganized townships, and 3 Indian reservations.

Similar Vermont maps might be added in the future.

Click on New England town maps in the Wiki to learn more including some facts learned about New England towns and lessons learned by the author of the blog post.

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davidson_north carolinaGeneral William Lee Davidson died in combat against General Cornwallis February 1, 1781

On February 1, 1781, American Brigadier General Davidson died in combat attempting to prevent General Charles Cornwallis’ army from crossing the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

General William Lee Davidson, the son of Ulster-Scot Presbyterian immigrants to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The family moved in 1748, two years after William’s birth, to what was then known as Rowan (now Iredell) County, North Carolina.

At that time Davidson’s North Carolina militia, comprised between 600 and 800 men, set up camp on the far side of the river, hoping to thwart or at least slow Cornwallis’ crossing. The Patriots stayed back from the banks of the river in order to prevent Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tartleton’s forces from fording the river at a different point and surprising the Patriots with a rear attack.

As the story goes, “At 1 a.m., Cornwallis began to move his troops toward the ford; by daybreak, they were crossing in a double-pronged formation–one prong for horses, the other for wagons. The noise of the rough crossing, during which the horses were forced to plunge in over their heads in the storm-swollen stream, woke the sleeping Patriot guard. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on January 30th, 2013

I’ve recently found a wonderful free digital magazine called Irish Lives Remembered Genealogy. It’s published by Irish Lives Remembered which is a free to join Genealogy Community.

Each edition is has 70 pages, is interactive and created to enhance the research experience for anyone looking into their Irish heritage. It doesn’t matter if you’re a genealogy enthusiast, a beginner, or just interested in Irish heritage, you’ll find something of interest.

The site has genealogy forums for every county in Ireland and allows people to upload questions about their searches and communicate with others who may be able to help them in their research.

The genealogy community has volunteer members from around the world who actively contribute to the forums.

Click on Irish Genealogy Magazines – FREE to view to download the magazine. The January issue is available along with many back issues.

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I’ve discussed the demise of the brick and mortar book stores a couple of times on this blog along with the lawsuits regarding price gouging in the world of eBook publishing.

Barnes & Noble didn’t do well this year, including coming up short during the December sales. They are currently examining the reason for the shortfall but most people think Amazon is the cause along with the economy and necessities versus nice to have.

In 10 years the company plans to have about 450 to 500 retail stores, closing down as many as 20 stores per year over the next 10 years. This is down by 189 to 239 stores that exist today.

The company inked a partnership with Microsoft last year around its NOOK digital reader business and, unlike Border’s, isn’t planning to toss in the towel and believes their business model is sound. You’ve probably noticed that the store has upped the ante on selling merchandise other than books and has sections clearly marked to cater to early childhood development.

Sales of the NOOK eReader have also been down but will probably stabilize as long as they can keep the cost of eBooks down. The recent tax imposed on credit card purchases will likely impact even Amazon when it comes to online sales.

We all like choices, so keep up the good fight Barnes and Noble, Alibris, and Abe’s Books.

Sandy on January 28th, 2013

The following news release from brightsolid is about the launch of the 1905 Valuation Rolls on the ScotlandsPeople website. Images, case studies, background information and statistics for this launch can all be accessed at the ScotlandsPeople Media Website on January 31. The case studies contain interesting and quirky stories about famous Scots who appear in these historical records. The case studies also include interesting stories about some of the details contained in these historical property records:

From tenements to palaces – these records offer a fascinating snapshot of Scotland during the Edwardian era and are a major new genealogy resource

Over 2 million names of Scots included in the property records for 1905 are being released today online for the first time via ScotlandsPeople, the official government family history website. The new records, known as the Valuation Rolls and comprising over 2.4 million indexed names and over 74,000 digital images, cover every kind of building, structure or property in Scotland which were assessed as having a rateable value. Read the rest of this entry »

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has an updated and improved Genealogy website which includes a new “Genealogy Notebook” section that’s a gateway to the history of the service providing research guidance, records requests and other useful services, such as:

  • Providing help to researchers to avoid errors casting them extra time and money
  • Ensuring that people requesting information are able to define which Genealogy Program service would be most beneficial to their focus
  • Helps researchers find information about “Arrival” and “Nationality” records organized by date and provides information about USCIS topics and events.

Click on Genealogy Notebook to access the website.

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In addition to my previous biographical post on Robert Burns, I’d like to share the wonderful 1932 rendition by Peter Dawson of “The “Star O’ Rabbie Burns” often sung at a Burns Supper. The words are printed below :


There is a star whose beaming ray
Is shed on ev’ry clime,
It shines by night, it shines by day
And ne’er grows dim wi’ time.
It rose upon the banks of Ayr,
It shone on Doon’s clear stream –
A hundred years are gane and mair,
Yet brighter grows its beam.

Let kings and courtiers rise and fa’,
This world has mony turns
But brightly beams aboon them a’
The star o’ Rabbie Burns.

Though he was but a ploughman lad Read the rest of this entry »


Sandy on January 25th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Findmypast Ireland will allow free access tomorrow to honor Irish Family Family History Day. TA joint venture with Eneclann, and the Findmypast (brightsolid) network that started in the UK has now spread to the United States, Australia and New Zealand, Findmypast Ireland, online has records dating from the mid-1800s to the late 1950s. This is a robust collection of records.

The site has recently added 21 million birth, marriage and death certificates to its records bringing the total to more than 60 million

Tomorrow, January 24 the site will open up the online records free of charge to promote its first Family History Day. A promotion code will be released as part of the free access for family researchers.

The event is promoted to include the United States, the UK, Australia and Canada. “With so much attention on Ireland due to The Gathering Ireland, our website will prove a very useful source for the many millions of people with Irish ancestry around the world,” said Cliona Weldon, General Manager of Findmypast Ireland.


Bus has added two sets of records this month, the UK Civil Divorce Records 1858–1911 and UK, Civil Divorce Records, 1858-1911and UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960. The details are as follows:

Historical Background

Divorce in the UK changed in 1858 when the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act took effect. Among other things, this law removed divorce from the jurisdiction of the church and made it a civil matter. Though divorce still remained primarily a privilege of the wealthy, it no longer required the intervention of Parliament as it had in days past. Women were also given more access to divorce if they could prove both adultery and an accompanying cause such as cruelty, desertion, or bigamy. Later reforms would give women more control over property they brought into a marriage and more custody rights.

Records in this database were generated by civil divorce proceedings that followed the Matrimonial Causes Act. The National Archives describes them as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on January 21st, 2013

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Sandy on January 18th, 2013

The Department of Human Services in Albert Lea, Minnesota is planning to digitize about five million pages worth of old adoption records, some from the late 19th Century.

As we know, with all the resources available these days, looking into your past has become one of our favorite pastimes.

It’s not quite so simple for people who were adopted and leaders in Minnesota are hoping to make things easier for people who were adopted to find their roots.

Even if adopted parents are great it’s natural for people to be curious about who and where they came from. It can sometimes be about a health issue that turns out to be genetic. And, this was the case with Stephen Helleksen who has a family of his own and is hoping his past will help him to learn more about his family’s health.

If you’d like to read about the new digital project and know more about Mr. Helleksen’s story click on Digitizing the Past. There’s also an interesting video in the article.

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RootsTech 2013 is shaping up to be a memorable event. This year Story@Home is offering a two-day conference during the event with workshops and performances by award-winning storytellers, performers, and speakers will help you explore ways to use the power of story in your home.

“RootsTech is a unique conference focused on helping individuals learn and use the latest technology to get started or accelerate their efforts to find, organize, preserve and share their family’s connections and history.”

The following press release today comes from

December 17, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY-RootsTech, the largest paid family history conference in the United States, is pleased to announce the addition of Story@Home, a two-day conference offering classes and workshops dedicated to the art and inspiration of connecting generations through stories. Story@Home will enrich the RootsTech experience for anyone interested in learning how to preserve and share their personal and family stories. Read the rest of this entry »

ObamaandSalazarThe following news announcing the resignation of Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior,  was delivered to my in-box today:

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that he will return to his home state of Colorado, having fulfilled his promise to President Obama to serve four years as Secretary. Secretary Salazar has informed President Obama that he intends to leave the Department by the end of March.

“Colorado is and will always be my home. I look forward to returning to my family and Colorado after eight years in Washington, D.C.,” said Secretary Salazar. “I am forever grateful to President Obama for his friendship in the U.S. Senate and the opportunity he gave me to serve as a member of his cabinet during this historic presidency.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on January 14th, 2013


After some bad publicity circulated about AncestryDNA, it looks as though the company is making progress moving things in the right direction. The company reporting that their autosomal DNA test is one of the best on the market and they are continuing to improved their ethnicity prediction models by deciphering the unique language of the human genome. They are also employing some of the top geneticists and acquiring the latest technology to help determine what the human genome can tell us.

AncestryDNA says there is no genetic dictionary, but they are building one by analyzing the genetic signature of people who have a long cultural history in a specific country or region, have spoken a certain language, and practiced a single religion.

I’m wondering at this point if there are “industry standards” in this midst of all this discovery, especially since it means big business to everyone involved. To be more specific I’m wondering if all companies participating in this type of research are identifying each discovery with their very own identifiers.

That said, there’s a lot more to the story and I encourage readers to read the interesting and well-written article on the Ancestry blog, which offers hope for more accuracy in the field of ethnic predictions. This is good news.

Click on Ethnicity Prediction: Learning to Speak Genetics.

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The following is a news release from the Department of Veterans affairs on their partnership with Ancestry. com to index historic burial records:

WASHINGTONThe Department of Veterans Affairs has partnered with the internet-based genealogy research firm to bring burial records from historic national cemetery ledgers into the digital age.  The effort will make the collection—predominantly of Civil War interments—accessible to researchers and subscribers undertaking historical and genealogical research.

“We are excited to be able to share this wealth of primary documentation,” said VA’s Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Steve L. Muro. “With the help of, we have opened the doors to thousands of service members’ histories through the information contained in these burial ledgers.”

From the 1860s until the mid-20th century, U.S. Army personnel tracked national cemetery burials in hand-written burial ledgers or “registers.”  Due to concern for the fragile documents and a desire to expand public access to the ledger contents, VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) duplicated about 60 hand-written ledgers representing 36 cemeteries using a high-resolution scanning process. Read the rest of this entry »

myheritageThe recently released mobile app from MyHeritage version 2.0 has some great new features that enable the user to build and edit their own family tree, add and share information, and have it all at your fingertips anywhere you decided to go.

It’s available for iPad, iPhone, and Android smartphones  and tablets in 32 languages.  It’s optimized for each platform using cutting-edge HTML5 and SVG technologies.

You can download the new app, free of charge, from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

If you happen to own the older version MyHeritage says that the new app will upgrade seamlessly and will not affect your data.

The 1.0 version was introduced in December 2011 and has reached 1.35 million installations. The first version was a read-only family tree and photo sharing. In April 2012 version 1.2 added a mobile friendly SuperSearch to allow users to search billions of historical records on-the-go.

This new version has some very impressive features. To access the download for the various devices and see more about what it can do, click on MyHeritage.

The British National Archives is the official archive and publisher for the UK government, and for England and Wales.  They are the guardians of some  iconic national documents, dating back over 1,000 years.

This year the UK National Archives will begin the move towards releasing records when they are 20 years old instead of 30. During 2013 the National archives will receive records from 1983 and 1984 and will be transferred each year until 2022 for records from 2001 and 2002..

In 2013 the government will begin its move towards releasing records when they are 20 years old, instead of 30. During 2013 The National Archives will receive records from 1983 and 1984. Then, two further years’ worth of government records will be transferred to us each year until 2022 when we will receive the records from 2001 and 2002.

This change is a key part of a transparency agenda and will result in historical material being open to the public much earlier than under current arrangements. The intention is to strengthen the democracy through timely public scrutiny of government policy and decision making. Read the rest of this entry »

trakdot-thumbThere’s a newly launched gadget on the market which tracks your luggage during a trip that should allay some of the lost buggage fears every time you check one in at the airport. It’s called the Trakdot Luggage Tracker from GlobaTrac LLC and acts like a homing beacon to monitor and locate your bags anywhere in the world in real time with Apple, Android, or SMS-capable mobile devices.

The idea is to enable you to keep track of your bags as you make your way through different airports to ensure that your luggage is actually moving along with you. The Trakdot gadget is slightly larger than a deck of cards and powered by two AA batteries. It can easily fit inside a bag and stays charged and you’ll already have an idea that AA batteries have a reasonably long life.

Users register their devices on the Trakdot website and toss it in their bag. Location updates via SMS texts or email. A single device can be linked to multiple phones or one phone linked to multiple devices. Your luggage can be monitored in real time from the Trakdot website or with a free app. There’s another app that can alert users when their luggage is close to arriving at the airport baggage claim.

The company-owned GSM frequency to detect its location has been approved by the FAA and there’s an effective security measure just in case someone grabs your luggage from the baggage claim by mistake.

This is a neat device and I was surprised to learn that one device costs US$49.95 with a a one-time activation fee of $8.99 and a service fee of $12.99 per year.

Click on Globatrac to learn more about it.

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Sandy on January 7th, 2013

Thomas-Jefferson3John Meacham’s book, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, is amazing. It’s a brilliant biography, of a great president, politician, an extremely complex personality and a multidimensional thinker.

Thomas Jefferson was a man who hated confrontation but still able to move men and collect and distribute ideas. He learned from his mistakes and through his understanding of power and human nature to prevail.

He was passionate about just about everything, including  his family, women, science, books, architecture, horticulture, friends, Monticello, Paris and, most of all, America. Jefferson persisted over and over, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision—the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America.

The author has cleverly crafted the biography to allow the reader to see Jefferson’s world as Jefferson himself saw it and how he found a way to endure and succeed in the face of rife partisan division, economic doubt, and external threat.

John Meacham brilliantly illustrates Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic and likely the most successful in all our American history.

If you’d like to consider purchasing the book click on Thomas Jefferson, The art of power.

It has been said that  Jefferson that he would most likely be diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome. There’s a long list of famous people who fall in to the same category. See my earlier post Historic figures who showed autistic tendencies.

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I’ve written several times that any database implementation as large as would take time—lots of it. Family Search has a lot to offer free of charge.

The latest news is the update of their search process with two new features to help user focus their search to achieve meaningful results. One is to restrict results by record location and type and another to search the FamilySearch catalog with multiple search parameters.

For more information and instructions click on the

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Sandy on January 3rd, 2013

Family Tree Magazine says:

Tracking down state-level genealogy records—births, marriages, deaths and more—can be exhausting work, but each year it gets easier and easier as more state historical societies and archives digitize collections and post them online for you to browse or search. They’re also offering more indexes, guides and other tools to help you get your hands on state repositories’ offline records. We commend these ambitious organizations and individuals for providing all of us with these genealogical gifts that keep on giving throughout the year.

In selecting this year’s best state websites, we looked especially for databases (at least one per state) where you can search for your ancestors’ names. Some sites also have digital images of original records, and several of the sites regularly add new searchable documents. So have at it: Open up your laptop, unwrap your web browser and start enjoying your new favorite genealogy websites

As a quick reference for return visitors to, I’ve included a link to the article in my Blogroll listed alphabetically under Top 75 State Website Resources on the inside right side-bar.  You can also click on Top 75 State Websites of 2012 to access the Family Tree article.


Scientists have analyzed rocks from Western Australia and discovered traces of bacteria that might have existed 3.49 billion years ago—a mere billion years after our planet formed.

If the find upholds the scrutiny that usually faces claims of fossils this old, it could move scientists one step closer to understanding the first chapters of life on Earth. The discovery could also aid in the search for life on other planets.

According to Nora Noffke, a biogeochemist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia,  these traces of bacteria “are the oldest fossils ever described. Those are our oldest ancestors,” Noffke, was part of the group that made the find and presented it last month at a meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Unlike dinosaur bones, the newly identified fossils are not petrified body parts. They’re textures on the surfaces of sandstone thought to be sculpted by once-living organisms. Today, similar patterns decorate parts of Tunisia’s coast, created by thick mats of bacteria that trap and glue together sand particles. Sand that is stuck to the land beneath the mats and thus protected from erosion can over time turn into rock that can long outlast the living organisms above it. Read the rest of this entry »

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For people looking for Scottish Ancestors ScotlandsPeople has now released the following BMDs for 1912, 1937, and 1962:

Images from statutory register of births for 1912, the statutory register of marriages for 1937 and the statutory register of deaths for 1962 are now available to view on the ScotlandsPeople website. We hope that you enjoy using these new images, and that the post-Hogmanay lull is the ideal time for it!