D. C. Thomson Company, Ltd., is a Scottish publishing company based in Dundee, best known in Scotland for comics. They are also known as the owners of brightsolid one of the first Internet Service Providers. D.C. Thomson also publishes The Dundee Courier, The Sunday Post, Oor Wullie, The Broons, The Beano, The Dandy and Commando. United Kingdom Family History researchers first met brightsolid on ScotlandsPeople, FindMyPast UK, and more recently in North America.

I’ve written about this dynamic company before. If you’d like to read my article click on Brightsolid organization voted best in genealogy for 2011.

The decision to reinforce the family history focus by changing the name of brightsolid  to DC Thomson Family History had been made by Annelies van den Belt the new CEO. The October 1 news release is as follows:

The new CEO of brightsolid online publishing, from today known as DC Thomson Family History, has announced a new strategy and organisation structure.

Annelies van den Belt has revealed that the business will be renamed DC Thomson Family History, to align with its Dundee-based media company owner and to focus on its core business, leading digital family history brands: findmypast and Genes Reunited. Read the rest of this entry »

FamilySearch (remember it’s free) has recently added more than 10 million indexed records and images from England, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 2,829,077 indexed records from the U.S., Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891–1943, collection, the 1,452,770 indexed records from the Mexico, Distrito Federal, Civil Registration, 1832–2005, collection, and the 572,243 indexed records from the Hungary Catholic Church Records, 1636–1895, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

Searchable historic records are made available on FamilySearch.org through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. Read the rest of this entry »

Duck Dynasty Halloween Costumes

If living well is the best revenge, then Rod Stewart has long since avenged the critical barbs he’s suffered through the years. Still active in his fifth decade as a recording star, he can point to nearly three dozen pop hits and nearly 40 million albums sold as proof that he’s done something very right. Yet all of his commercial success wouldn’t silence those purists who believe that Rod Stewart wasted the greatest male voice in rock history by putting it to use in service of disco anthems and an endless string of generic adult-contemporary ballads. Whatever one’s opinion about Stewart’s musical choices few could deny the pure perfection of his performance on one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Maggie May,” which became Rod Stewart’s first #1 hit on this day in 1971.

Ancestry.com announced yesterday that they had acquired Find A Grave, Inc., the online cemetery database. This is big news. They have been buying smaller players in the genealogy business and Find A Grave has a huge database of memorials and photographs.

The news release is as follows:

PROVO, Utah, Sept. 30, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ancestry.com LLC announced today it has acquired Find A Grave, Inc., the leading online cemetery database.

With over 100 million memorials and 75 million photos, Find A Grave has amassed an unparalleled collection of burial information. Over the past 18 years, it has grown to become an invaluable resource for genealogists, history buffs and cemetery preservationists. Find A Grave will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com, and will continue to be managed by its founder, Jim Tipton.

“Find A Grave is an amazing phenomenon supported by a passionate and engaged community of volunteers around the world,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry.com. “We at Ancestry.com are so excited…honored really…to take on the responsibility of supporting this community. We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website, will retain its existing policies and mode of operation, and look forward to working with Jim Tipton and the entire Find A Grave team to accelerate the development of tools designed to make it even easier for the Find A Grave community to fulfill its original mission to capture every tombstone on Earth.”

Ancestry.com plans to bolster the resources dedicated to Find A Grave to launch a new mobile app, improve customer support, introduce an enhanced edit system for submitting updates to memorials, foreign-language support, and other site improvements.

“Ancestry.com has been a long-time supporter of Find A Grave. They have been linking and driving traffic to the site for several years,” said Jim Tipton, founder of Find A Grave. “Burial information is a wonderful source for people researching their family history and I look forward to working with Ancestry.com to help continue our growth and accelerate the pace of improvements.”

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Lloyds-coffee-houseIt was announced yesterday, that the world’s oldest running newspaper Lloyd’s List will stop the presses and go digital only after 279 years.

The paper, known as The List, was started by Edward Lloyd the owner of Lloyd’s Coffee House in London, England, in 1734 started as a notice pinned to the wall of the coffee house. It was a reliable but cryptic source of information for merchants’ agents and insurance underwriters who frequented the coffee shop and used the shipping news.

Today, as well as shipping news, Lloyd’s List covers marine insurance, offshore energy, logistics, and global trade laws. For the shipping industry it is often considered its conscience and the international casualty reports continue to be one of the publications most important features.  The digital version on the Internet will be updated frequently with this information.

A survey found it had only 25 customers who still wanted the printed version, so The List will print its last edition in December of this year. Readers and subscribers moved to its digital offerings, which include a website and apps for smart phones and tablets.

Although little has changed in the paper’s 279-year history, The List has followed the natural evolution of other printed publications. Instead of reading it in Lloyd’s Coffee House people can read it digitally in any coffee shop in the world.

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I’d already noticed that Google is much improved at offering direct answers to questions? Yesterday, Google celebrated its 15th birthday and told the world about their latest search algorithm update—Hummingbird.

Hummingbird’s impact affects almost 90% of sites worldwide, so that makes it the biggest update since 2009—Caffeine.

A few weeks ago, they quietly flipped the switch on their new search, which focuses on parsing searches as heterogeneous questions, I find it interesting that the change was only mentioned yesterday(9/27) at an event hosted in the garage that Larry Page and Sergey Brin rented as Google began to be successful. Google was founded in 1998.

Other things announced include a tweak to Google’s Knowledge Graph to allow it to handle comparison questions like,“Which is better for me fresh veggies or canned veggies?”, as well as Push Notifications for Google—Now on iOS.

It has been reported that there were plenty of questions from the audience on how it all worked but Google avoided getting into technical details. Although they did say that this was the biggest overhaul to their search engine since Caffeine in 2009.

The video below explains what Hummingbird is and tells you what to do if it affects your site’s ranking:

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After more than 150 years, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has opened the Fred W. Smith National Library to allow as all to study George Washington. I find it curious that there wasn’t a Presidential Library dedicated to the first president of this country before, but there is now.

I’d like to share Steph Solis, USA TODAY article with you. I like USA TODAY a great place to go for up-to-date well-written news reports, which is why I made the decision to become an affiliate. See below to read the article:

It took awhile, but the nation’s first president finally has a presidential library.

“No president in American history deserves the honor of a presidential library more than our first chief executive — nor is there a better story to tell,” says Ann Bookout of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which owns and operates the Washington estate outside Washington, D.C., in Virginia.

The association worked to build the library, called the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

The $106.4 million cost was raised in private funds from 7,000 donors, including $38 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. Under its chairman, former Las Vegas Review-Journal executive Fred W. Smith, the foundation has sponsored several projects related to George Washington.

The 45,000-square-foot library is scheduled to open Sept. 27 next to the Washington home on the Mount Vernon estate.

It will have dozens of rare artifacts that belonged to the first president, including his handwritten notes about books like A New System of Husbandry, and thousands of books, manuscripts and electronic materials about Washington.

The George Washington library is not part of the presidential library system, which is a network of 13 libraries run by the National Archives to house papers and other important materials of every president since Herbert Hoover.

“There is a national belief among ordinary citizens that having a library for the benefit of George Washington is an important thing,” Curt Viebranz, president of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, said at a news conference Thursday.

The three-level structure includes a general library with thousands of books, journals, audio-visual materials and other files on Washington and his work. Within the building are three vaults of rare volumes, 105 of which belonged to Washington, a reading room for manuscripts, conference rooms and a broadcast studio. There is a residence for visiting scholars.

Viebranz says the library is the culmination of a more than 150-year effort to restore Washington’s personal library collection and preserve his materials. It is also meant to promote discussion about Washington’s leadership and character. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on September 26th, 2013

If you’ve purchased online and paid for your purchases through PayPal, you’ll be interested to learn that Ebay’s PayPal has bought Chicago-based payments gateway Braintree in a cash deal worth $800 million. Braintree was on sale with Square and PayPal both in acquisition discussions for the company.

The idea is to combine Braintree with eBay’s PayPal payment operation and eBay President and CEO, John Donahoe is reported to have stated “Braintree is a perfect fit with PayPal… Bill Ready(CEO of Braintree) and his team add complementary talent and technology that we believe will help accelerate PayPal’s global leadership in mobile payments. Together, we expect that PayPal and Braintree also will accelerate our leadership in supporting developers who are creating innovative solutions for next generation commerce startups.”

The purchase gives eBay access to Braintree’s Venmo. Venmo is an app that allows consumers to make payments on smartphones and tablets, an area in which EBay wants to be more involved.

Shares of EBay, 40 percent of whose revenue last year came from PayPal, rose as much as 4.4 percent on the Nasdaq today, September 26.

PayPal, has 120 million users and has dominated online payment services for about a decade. Its growth has been only moderate in recent years as a result of increased competition on mobile devices from smaller but more versatile rivals.

Braintree clients include online hotel booking service Airbnb and the online restaurant booking service OpenTable Inc. The expectation is to process about $12 billion in payment volume this year.

Braintree, backed by venture capital firm Accel Partners among others, provides merchant accounts, payment gateways, and billing and credit card storage.

It’s a corporate shot-in-the-arm with the purchase of Braintree and the deal brings on fresh talent to rejuvenate innovation.

Paypal acquired IronPearl this past spring and could take on Stripe in acquiring more business in the area of online checkouts.

Sandy on September 25th, 2013

If you’ve heard mention during family discussions of an ancestor who worked for British royalty, you may find the addition of 300,000 Royal Household records at Findmypast.co.uk a useful resource. See below:

300,000 new Royal Household records added

It’s time to find out if your ancestors worked for royalty as we’ve published more than 300,000 Royal Household staff records. We’ve made these records available online for the first time ever, in association with the Royal Archives.

You can now search over 380,000 staff records stretching from 1526 to 1924 to discover detailed information about your ancestor’s time in service, such as name, occupation, age, length of service and salary. In some instances you may even find their signature.


janeaustenringKelly Clarkston (American Idol winner) was described as being forced to sell a $250,000 gold and turquoise ring, once owned by English novelist Jane Austin. Forced is probably a strong word to use since Kelly was reportedly very gracious about her London auction purchase being thwarted.

Ms Clarkson is a fan of the 19th-century author and purchased the ring for five times more than the reserve price of about $48,000 (£30,000).

So what happened? The U.K. government imposed a temporary export ban on an item that is considered to be a national treasure. The ring had been in Austin’s family for 200 years and lawmakers hoped enough money could be raised to purchase it from Clarkson and place it on public display.

On Monday, Jane Austen’s House Museum declared that it had raised the money needed to math Kelly Clarkson’s bid. Clarkson agreed to re-sell the ring which will be kept at the museum—the house where Austin lived the last eight years of her life until her death in 1817.

Kelly Clarkson said in a statement, “The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it at Jane Austen’s House Museum.”

Jane Austen lived from 1775 until 1817, and died aged. Her literary achievements,  such as, “Pride and Prejudice,” “Emma,” and “Sense and Sensibility” have made her one of the most widely read writers in history.

In June of this year, the Bank of England announced that from 2017 Austen’s face will succeed that of Charles Darwin on the country’s £10 note.

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laurelandhardybbcI’d like to share part of the most recent newsletter from ScotlandsPeople that arrived in my inbox today.

Among other interesting items, it refers to Laurel and Hardy’s links with Scotland and Oliver Hardy’s Scottish roots. There’s also a link to the news story in BBC News Highlands and Islands, referred to in the newsletter.

ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk is a terrific resource and, as  I’ve mentioned before, you can pay as you go and actually download copies of the records at no additional charge. The Scots were amazing record keepers.

The excerpt from the newsletter is as follows:

We saw this news story about the connections that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had with Scotland, and thought it might interest people.

Stan Laurel (aka Arthur Stanley Jefferson) made his stage debut in Glasgow (not always an easy-to-please audience) at the Britannia Music Hall in 1906. The Jefferson family moved to Glasgow in 1905 (sadly, the Jefferson family just missed being recorded in the 1905 Valuation Rolls and left before the 1915 VRs were recorded), and lived there for a number of years before returning to the north of England. It was in Glasgow that Stan became highly adept at playing ‘hooky’ from school – we think the school records for Stan would be interesting reading. Sadly, Stan’s mother, Margaret (‘Madge’ – nee Metcalfe), died during the family’s time in Glasgow. Aged only 50, her death certificate from 1908 states that the cause of death was ‘alcoholism’ and ‘general debility’. (N.B. when viewing this large image on the website, just click on the image to enlarge it even further.) Read the rest of this entry »

Genealogy Roadshow is premiering it’s new series on PBS on Monday September 23, solving family history mysteries.

Fall episodes will take place in Detroit, Nashville, Austin and San Francisco, featuring folks who have interesting family history claims, stories or questions submitted, explored and solved by professional genealogists.

Some participants believe they are distant cousins to famous historical figures or modern celebrities. However, many are looking for more information about a specific ancestor. Others need verification on family legends, such as hidden heritages, blood feuds and even murders.

You can read more about the series by clicking on Desert News.

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A new online website has been set up by England’s North Yorkshire County Council thanks to the rising popularity of local and family history and to TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are?

E-shop customers will be able to buy research packages to help them investigate their family tree, their community etc. The online store is also making hundreds of historic maps, photographs, postcards available to North Yorkshire family history researchers.

Count Chris Metcalfe, executive member for the archive service, told “The Press” a Yorkshire newspaper: “This is a great way to own a piece of North Yorkshire’s history. By launching this site, we’re bringing family and local history to thousands more people. It’s a really exciting project, making our amazing collections and specialist services much more accessible to everybody, wherever they are in the world.”

The website makes a pleasant visual impact and is an interesting place to visit. Click on North Yorkshire County Record Office online shop to view. 

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Sandy on September 19th, 2013

Here we go again with yet another privacy issue—Or, is it? The most recent squawk is about the new fingerprint recognition feature on the iPhone 5s. I think it’s safe to accept the reality that as we enjoy the latest innovations in technology we’re giving up yet another slither of our personal privacy.

Fingerprint recognition is not new, but it is one of the new attributes of the iPhone 5S (on sale tomorrow) and, given concerns swirling around our digital activity these days, the thought of handing over our fingerprints to Apple via the latest iPhone is bound to have some people nervous.

Users have to register their print with the device to be able to unlock the phone by placing their finger or thumb on the button. This unique fingerprint is meant to provide additional protection against hackers or thieves.

Can we trust Apple or any other company using the same technology with our fingerprints? And, given my latest online malware experience, could those aggressive and relentless hackers discover new ways to trick the phone’s sensor.

The experts say that  it’s unlikely? Joe Schumacher, a security consultant to CNN said, “There should always be some concern with new technologies or functionality that has such a large base of users…The fingerprint reader is more of a sales tactic than a strong security enhancement.

Some folks have voiced their fears on Twitter and other social media that Apple armed with a future database of millions of thumbprints could turn over some customers’ prints to the NSA if ordered by the government. In spite of assurances from Apple that users’ fingerprint information will be encrypted and secured inside the phone’s new A7 processor and not on Apples’s servers backed up in the iCloud. Still, that Apple was reported to have been part of the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program and hands over user information when mandated by the government is perplexing.

I’ve read plenty of comments about the new fingerprint feature and will share a couple. See below:

Dino Dai Zovi, co-author of “The iOS Hacker’s Handbook,” told CNN Money that if he were trying to hack an iPhone 5S, he would first try to lift prints from elsewhere on the device “and figure out how to replay those to the sensor to log in to the person’s phone.”

WSJ Spreecast: Mayank Upadhyay, Google’s Director of Security Engineering: It costs around $200,000 to build a device that could copy and employ a fingerprint, Upadhyay said. It’s more likely a thief will just reset the phone.

To be sure, fingerprint sensors don’t prevent a phone from being stolen, but they do help secure the data. If a phone is reset, the owner’s data is still private. Meanwhile, the additional time it takes to hack into the phone increases the data’s security — the extra hurdle buys the owner additional time to recognize the phone is missing and remotely wipe the phone’s contents before the thief can access the data.

Fingerprint scanners set “the bar of, say, a four-digit pin at the minimum, and that’s the way we should be looking at it,” Upadhyay says. “It’s an increase in usability, while maintaining at least as much security as a four-digit pin.”

Apple and Android offer features for users to wipe the phone’s contents remotely. In the new version of iOS 7 coming Wednesday, Apple has made it even more difficult for thieves to reset and reactivate stolen phones by tying those actions into iCloud.

If you need to upgrade, or you just like to keep up with the multi-sensory experience of new technology, I don’t think there’s going to be a radical change in your personal security—it has already been compromised. It might you feel cool or smarter for about fifteen minutes, but it’s fun to open the box and not so much fun to have to read the user manual.

I also doubt that type average thief who’s going to steal your phone can afford the expense of purchasing the technology with the ability to lift thumb or finger prints. All they’d need to do is reset it. If Apple has made if even more difficult to reset and reactivate stolen phones, then as Andrew Carnegie said, “All is well since all grows better.”

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DaVinci's codex on the flight of birdsLeonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was so much more than painter of the world famous The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa.  Da Vinci is considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and one of the most diversely talented human being to ever have lived.

In addition to being a painter and sculptor, da Vinci was an architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. Art historian, Helen Gardner is quoted as saying, “The scope and depth of his interests were without precedent…his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote”.

Leonardo conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, an adding machine, and the double hull, also outlining a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Although only a few of his designs were even feasible during his lifetime,  da Vinci made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics that he did not publish.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wilber and Orville Wright’s historic first flight, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex on the Flight of Birds will be on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., from September 13th through October 22nd, as part of the Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age exhibition.

This is really a great opportunity to view first-hand one of Da Vinci’s most important notebooks in the context of the history of human flight.

Click on An Extraordinary Journey: The History of Leonardo da Vinci’sCodex on the Flight of Birds to learn more about it even if you can’t make the trip.

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The Family History Library (FHL), in Salt Lake City, Utah, the largest family history library in the world has named Diane Loosle as its new director. Congratulations to Ms. Loosle for being the first woman to hold this job. Diane has exciting plans, for the FHL and says a top priority for her as director of the Library will be to study its role and that of 4,700 family history centers around the world and how to make them discovery centers for people of all ages.  

You can learn more in the following news release:

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch today announced that Diane C. Loosle is the new director of its flagship Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. She will have the responsibility of leveraging the skills of the genealogical community more efficiently to meet the growing needs of a broader worldwide audience. Loosle is a 19-year veteran of FamilySearch, a professional genealogist, experienced research consultant, patron services specialist, and business leader. FamilySearch is a growing, worldwide nonprofit organization focused on providing quicker and more affordable access to genealogical records and related services.

Loosle says a top priority for her as director of the Library will be to study the role of the Family History Library and 4,700 satellite branches worldwide called, family history centers, and how to make them discovery centers for people of all ages, not just a research facility. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on September 17th, 2013

New regulations allow New York animal lovers to spend eternity with their pets. According to The Daily News Reports, officials have finalized worked out rules allowing pet cemeteries to accept cremated remains of humans. Note that it’s the humans who go to the pets, and they can’t advertise human burial services.

Back in 2011, New York’s Division of Cemeteries put a halt to human burials following an Associated Press story about the practice. They later relaxed the ban on a limited basis and started working on permanent rules.

The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in New York’s Westchester County gets five or six requests a year from humans who want to have their ashes buried with their pets.


“GenealogyInTime Magazine” is located in Ottawa, Canada. It’s a wonderful online research tool for family historians and the fifth largest free genealogy website in the world.

I’ve found it to be a great informational resource and it’s so much more than an online magazine as you’ll discover when you visit the site.

This week, a significant upgrade of 532 million records was added to the genealogy search engine making it an even more powerful way for people to connect with their ancestors.

Click on GenealogyInTime to perform a database search and explore the site.

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Sandy on September 15th, 2013

A brand new library has opened in Texas well stocked with 10,000 e-books and 500 e-readers, apparently looks like an Apple store but really is a library.

Located in San Antonio’s Bexar County and named BiblioTech, the $2.4 million 4,000 square-foot pace opened to the public on Saturday. Interestingly, the library was built with $1.9 million in county tax money and $500,000 in private donations. It has a modern orange-hued look and, in addition to the e-books and e-readers, they have 48 computer, 20 iPads and laptops. There’s a children’s study area and a Starbucks-style café. Patrons will find no printed material.

According to Time U.S., it’s not the first time a public library has tried to go bookless. “In 2002, the Tucson-Pima Public Library system in Arizona opened a branch without books. But after just a few years, the library phased in printed materials. Its patrons demanded them.”

Personally, I think the time is now for the bookless library to gain traction, at least for young patrons. For folks like me who own an e-reader, but still like to hold and smell a real book, libraries and brick and mortar book stores will still be around for a while.

A number of public libraries have already undergone radical transformations to cater to the needs of its patrons, and this includes moving and consolidating book collections to build collaborative, digital spaces that adapt to new technologies.

In the Time U.S. article the question was asked, “Is a bookless library still a library?” Even if the collection is actually a huge digital database, it’s still a collection of books and reference material, housed in a building, and can be considered a library.

Click on Time U.S. if you’d like to read the article.

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Sandy on September 13th, 2013

book-of-lifeToday 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. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on September 13th, 2013

Is this the beginning or the beginning of many problems? Has the long-awaited day arrived? Let’s hope they can borrow the “Lessons Learned” project files from Facebook.

Twitter has a 200 million user microblogging service and is a great platform for all including family historians. The service has filed for its initial public offering and was appropriately acknowledge with a simple tweet:  “We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO,” the company said in a tweet on Thursday. “This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.

Twitter’s grape vine type announcement is a twist on the new confidential IPO process made possible by the recent JOBS act, which gives companies leeway to make their initial fillings with the SEC without public analysis.

It has been noted in several articles that Twitter is taking advantage of a JOBS filling indicates that the company’s annual revenue is less than$1 billion. Companies above that threshold can’t use the JOBS process. This is the first time that a company has acknowledged the initial S-1 filing in public using the “secret” IPO process.

Interestingly, on Monday, Twitter bought MoPub, the mobile ad exchange startup in a deal manly composed of Twitter stock.

It’s going to get interesting because many people prefer communicating through Twitter to the convoluted time-consuming Facebook.

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I personally considered Dell computers to be a quality product then something happened. Today’s news is probably great for the user community and, of course, the shareholders.

Based on a preliminary vote tally from the special meeting of stockholders on Sept.12, 2013, Dell stockholders have approved the proposal in which Michael Dell, Dell’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, will acquire Dell in partnership with global technology investment firm Silver Lake Partners.

The press release is as follows:

“Dell today announced that, based on a preliminary vote tally from the special meeting of stockholders, Dell stockholders have approved the proposal in which Michael Dell, Dell’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, will acquire Dell in partnership with global technology investment firm Silver Lake Partners.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The following is the latest press release from Ancestry.com:

PROVO, Utah, Sept. 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ancestry.com Inc. (the “Company”) today announced that its indirect parent company, Ancestry.com Holdings LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (the “Parent”), intends to sell subject to market conditions, in a private placement to qualified institutional buyers under Rule 144A and to non-U.S. persons under Regulation S of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), $250.0 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes due 2018 (the “Notes”). The Parent intends to use the net proceeds from this offering to pay cash dividends on, and/or make other payments in respect of, the Parent’s equity interests.

The Notes have not been and will not be registered under the Securities Act or the securities laws of any state and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements under the Securities Act and any applicable state securities laws.

Neither this press release nor the information contained herein constitutes an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the Notes, nor shall there be any sale of the Notes in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. Any offer of the Notes will be made only by means of an offering memorandum. Read the rest of this entry »

BillionGraves says:

This is another huge milestone for BillionGraves and we can’t thank you enough! This is no doubt due to all your hard work during these last few months! Thank you for all your countless hours traveling to cemeteries, cleaning off headstones and taking pictures.

There is still so much more to do (including over 25,000 records still to transcribe) so keep up the great work! You are all amazing!

Search BillionGraves.com  

About 10 weeks ago the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided that “isolated human genes cannot be patented.” 

The decreasing cost of genetic testing can allow laboratories to provide more affordable options for everyone. However the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patents on over 20% of human genes. Apparently, this is unconstitutional and these gene patents will make it difficult or impossible for many people to know there risks.

In an effort to make the public aware of what is happening, the following email arrived in my inbox from Family Tree DNA President, Bennett Greenspan:

Hello, Read the rest of this entry »


The following press release regarding an agreement to deliver valuable historical content over the next five years between ancestry.com and International Family Search was published yesterday:

PROVO, Utah, Sept. 5, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ancestry.com and FamilySearch International (online at FamilySearch.org), the two largest providers of family history resources, announced today an agreement that is expected to make approximately 1 billion global historical records available online and more easily accessible to the public for the first time. With this long-term strategic agreement, the two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records from the FamilySearch vault.

The access to the global collection of records marks a major investment in international content as Ancestry.com continues to invest in expanding family history interest in its current markets and worldwide. Ancestry.com expects to invest more than $60 million over the next five years in the project alongside thousands of hours of volunteer efforts facilitated by FamilySearch.

“This agreement sets a path for the future for Ancestry.com and FamilySearch to Read the rest of this entry »

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In a smaller update, FamilySearch has recently added more than 260 thousand indexed records and images from Guatemala, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 102,461 images from the new U.S., Indiana, Naturalization Records and Indexes, 1848–1992, collection, the 45 images from the Italy, Mantova, Mantova, Censuses (Comune), 1750–1900, collection, and the 36,417 indexed records from the U.S., Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718–1957, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

Searchable historic records are made available on FamilySearch.org through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace Read the rest of this entry »

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trisha-yearwoodIt’s always refreshing when regular folks who aren’t looking for royal connections still find an fascinating genealogy.

Last night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured country music start Trisha Yearwood who discovered that her ancestral relatives stole wounded and killed “several fat bucks” from English royal hunting grounds in the 1700s.

Comment from Trisha Yearwood, “Awesome. OK, so the three brothers are thieves … I think we can pretty much rule out that I’m going to find out that I’m royalty,” Yearwood says with a laugh. And the man tracking her genealogy agrees: “I think you’re right.”

If you missed last night’s (Tuesday, September 3) episode you can view it and other episodes by clicking on the TLC link.

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MyHeritage is offering genealogy researchers free access to their records. See below:

Labor Day weekend is here – a time to celebrate the contributions made by workers from the labor movement. It’s also time for families to get together and enjoy the last bit of summer with barbecues, parades and reunions.

In honor of the holiday, we’re providing free access – from August 31 through September 2 – to all US Census records.

Spanning every decade from 1790-1940, the US Federal Censuses are the nation’s most important set of records. They cover some 650 million names and include all scanned images of the original census documents.

An invaluable tool for family history research, census records are a rich source of information documenting almost everyone in a given country during that year. The full collection of US census records is available on SuperSearch, our online database with over 4 billion historical records.

Our Record Matching technology has also been unleashed on the US Census records so you’ll automatically receive notifications of records that match profiles in your family tree. With these historical records you can learn more about your past and ancestors, and perhaps discover additional family members you never knew about!

Why not find out more about your family heritage this Labor Day? Search now to start learning about your American family and past. This free offer ends September 2, so hurry and start searching today!

We wish you and your family a wonderful Labor Day weekend. How will you be celebrating?

A press release from Ancestrycom:

PROVO, Utah, Aug. 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ancestry.com Inc. (the “Company”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com LLC, today announced that it has completed its offer to exchange (the “Exchange Offer”) up to $300,000,000 of its outstanding 11.00% Senior Notes due 2020 for up to $300,000,000 of its new 11.00% Senior Notes due 2020 that have been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

$300,000,000 in principal amount of the 11.00% Senior Notes due 2020, representing 100% of the outstanding 11.00% Senior Notes due 2020, was tendered and received prior to the expiration of the Exchange Offer at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, August 26, 2013. The Company will issue certificates for the registered 11.00% Senior Notes due 2020 as soon as practicable.

This press release is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities. The Exchange Offer was made only by means of a prospectus dated July 26, 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Award winning actor Kevin Spacey gave a talk in Edinburgh, Scotland, making so much sense that I’ve decided to share it on this blog.

The major message of the presentation was “…give people what they want, when they want it, in the form that they want it in, at a reasonable price and they’ll be more likely to pay for it rather than steel it.”

How many times have you been upset when the powers that be decided to take your favorite show off TV and you wonder if you were the only fan only to discover that everyone you know enjoyed it too. Spacey spoke alluded to this saying that the networks need to get better at giving people what they want.

I’m so sick of reality shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and many others of that ilk. “People want good stories, whether they’re in movies, TV shows, video games or something else, and the entertainment industry has a real opportunity to deliver it.” As the Brits would say, “hear-hear”.

He spoke about the success of his TV show House of Cards that he released via Netflix with all episodes coming out at once and the ridiculous loops that the networks go through wanted to make them go through with the “pilot season”.

The following video makes an excellent point and I hope (but doubt) that the networks will listen.

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Can you Imagine, a Canadian dentist Michael Zuk who purchased John Lennon’s molar in 2011 has reportedly begun sequencing Lennon’s DNA as the first step to creating a clone set out by scientists who propose to clone a woolly mammoth.

Please do not do this! Although a clone would turn out looking like John Lennon. A clone would have a different life experience, those experiences that contribute to making us who we are as humans would be very different and probably catastrophic.

Sandy on August 23rd, 2013

Findmypast.co.uk has added 125 million new newspaper articles covering 1753-2012 from worldwide sources.  Newspaper articles are handy since they contain stories that ordinary records don’t have. They also help family historians to understand what was going on during the time their ancestor was alive.

Full details of what this extensive record release is as follows:

  • 4,322,702 Canadian newspaper articles 1872-2012
  • 144,845 Chinese newspaper articles 1850-1926
  • 1,019 Danish newspaper articles 1884-1936
  • 54,361 French newspaper articles 1848-1979
  • 573,759 German newspaper articles 1948-1999
  • 1,304,344 Jamaican newspaper articles 1834-2012
  • 589,460 Japanese newspaper articles 1920-1999
  • 560 South African newspaper articles 1904-1945
  • 119,462,212 million American newspaper articles 1753-2012

These records are included in a World subscription and can also be accessed through the use of PayAsYouGo credit

Search World Records Now

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Millions of school records covering every region of England and Wales from 1870-1914 are going online. This will be a significant source of information for family historians.

The following information was posted on the UK and Ireland Archives and Records Association (ARA) website:

Contracts have been signed by ARA and brightsolid after agreement was reached to digitise records from a large number of archives operating under the new National Digitisation Consortium

Now the high-level contracts are signed, all archives which declared an interest to take part are being contacted about their formal sign-up to the deal.

The National Digitisation Consortium was an Association of Chief Archivists in Local Government inspired initiative and has been an active but complex project since the merger which formed the ARA. In the first project under the Consortium framework, 120 English and Welsh archives are expected to come together to achieve the digitisation of pre-1914 school registers. Millions of names will be searchable.

The Consortium is seen as an important way for the sector to work together to ensure the best possible revenue deal for individual archives.  ARA and brightsolid are now determined to move the project forward as quickly as possible.

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The following information comes from FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch has recently added close to 1.5 million indexed records and images from Chile, Honduras, Jamaica, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 953,730 indexed records from the Jamaica, Civil Registration, 1880–1999, collection, the 242,722 indexed records and images from the U.S., Louisiana, New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820–1945, collection, and the 239,119 indexed records from the Chile, Civil Registration, 1885–1903, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

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

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 FamilySearch.org or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

U.S., New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1925–1942 Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on August 21st, 2013

The following article appeared on Dick Eastman’s blog Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter today and serves as a warning to anyone considering hiring one an organization such as the one mentioned in the article to find missing or unknown heirs:

World Wide Genealogy Ltd (formerly Beneficiaries Ltd) of Reading, England, was convicted of 10 counts of fraud by false representation and will have to pay back more than £200,000 ($313,000 US dollars) to the family of Charlotte Cook.

NOTE: Heir hunters are individuals or corporations that attempt to find missing or unknown heirs, entitled to deceased people’s estates before the British Treasury lawfully collects the money. The heir hunters normally are paid a rather high percentage of the inherited funds. World Wide Genealogy Ltd demanded a 40 per cent share.

The company was convicted of 10 counts of fraud by false representation on July 11, ordered to repay its victims more than £200,000 and fined £25,000 after the probe by West Berkshire and Wokingham Trading Standards Service.
Councillor Dominic Boeck, West Berkshire’s executive member for Trading Standards, said, “These were fraudsters preying on innocent victims in a particularly distasteful and calculated manner. It will send a clear message to companies that they cannot mislead and lie to people while asking them to hand over potentially large sums of money.”

You can read more in an article in the by John Garvey in the Newbury Weekly News web site at http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/2013/heir-hunting-firm-guilty-of-fraud.” 

Sandy on August 19th, 2013

Two hundred, searchable volumes covering  350 years of history have now been made available online at Findmypast.co.uk. The news release is as follows:

Great news for those of you with Canadian relations! We’ve added 71,000 pages of books covering nearly 350 years of history from all corners of Canada to our World Collection including:

  • Military records
  • Religious records
  • Occupational records
  • Immigration records
  • Business directories
  • Published genealogies
  • Civil registrations

This is primarily a Canadian resource, although its scope crosses over various nationalities and US territories with titles such as Sketches of Irish soldiers, The Scotch-Irish of California, and German-Canadian folklore.

Search Canadian Records Now

Sandy on August 16th, 2013

TARDISTARDIS means “Time and Relative Dimension in Space”. It’s the time machine and spacecraft in the science fiction television program Dr. Who and all its spin-offs.

When the program Dr. Who was first developed in 1963 by the BBC, I was watching and loving it and so was my dad. The story is about the adventure of a time travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in his TARDIS, a watchful time travelling space ship.

When the program was being developed in 1963, in order to keep the Doctor’s time machine within budget, it was decided to make it resemble a blue British police box (telephone kiosk used by the police). The inside of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior and can blend in with its surroundings. Using the ship’s “chameleon circuit” it transported the Doctor to anyplace tardis-eggin time he wanted to go.

Although the idea began as a creative ploy to save time and money on props, TARDIS became a genre convention in its own right as the old-style police box was phased out of use. As a result, TARDIS has become the show’s most consistently recognizable visual element.

So what has Google done?  Enfolded in one street-view image of what appears to be a police box, a Google Maps Easter egg actually allows you go inside the TARDIS.

Google Maps users who search for “police telephone box, England” are transported to the iconic blue police box on the Earl’s Court Road in London and looks like/is TARDIS. Users can virtually explore the inside the main room (not the Doctor’s library or River Song’s swimming pool).

To make it easy and fun for you to view, click on Tech Crunch to follow the directions provided by Greg Kumparak.

The following is a press release from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):

Washington, DC…The National Archives marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with a featured display of an iconic image from the march, a special program and film screenings of THE MARCH, James Blue’s 1964 film that documents this event.

The display and programs are free and open to the public, and will be held at National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which is located on the National Mall and is fully accessible. For programs in the William G. McGowan Theater, attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.

Featured Display:
East Rotunda Gallery from August 20th through September 9th, 2013
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the National Archives presents an iconic photograph Read the rest of this entry »


Tonight at 9/8 central  “Who Do You Think You Are? is featuring  Zooey Deschanel  (New Girl).  Zooey journeys to Pennsylvania for to research her Quaker roots. If you aren’t able to watch or record the show, the episode will be available for viewing on the TLC website.

Sandy on August 12th, 2013

Good news for Canadian genealogists and family historians.  Access has been granted to 1921 hand-written census data made available by Ancestry.ca last week thanks to the Library and Archives Canada. The release comes a few days before Statistics Canada will make public a final ste of data from the 2011 National Household Survey on August 14, which shows income and housing and top paying jobs in the country.

Keep in mind that the National Household Survey is statistical information and researchers won’t get to see an individual’s information from the 2011 survey until 2103. All this is provided that survey participants agree to release their names and other identifiable information to future generations.

Click on Canada.com to learn more.

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The “frying Pan” was the first electric lap steel guitar created by George Beauchamp in 1931 and manufactured by Rickenbacker Electro. The instrument earned its frying pan nickname because of its circular body and long neck.

The acoustic guitar was a staple of American rural music in the early 20th century mainly in black rural music such as the blues. The electric guitar was the instrument that revolutionized jazz, blues and country music making the rise of rock and roll possible. It was recognized by the U.S. Patent Office August 10, 1937—76 years ago.

George Beauchamp developed a method for transforming the sound of a vibrating guitar string into an electrical signal that was amplified and re-converted into audible sound at a much greater volume. The electric guitar has sealed its place in the transformation of popular music.

There’s a rich history attached to the electric guitar, but I’ll keep it pithy. Please enjoy the video of While My Guitar Gently Weeps with George Harrison and Eric Clapton. FYI—also on stage on stage Jeff Lynne guitar (former ELO), Mark King bass, Elton John piano, Ringo Starr drums, Phil Collins drums, Ray Cooper percussion:

spanish-towerI couldn’t let this one pass. The 47 story skyscraper in Spain set to be the tallest residential building in the European Union has an interesting problem that is causing a lot of red faces. Although there is an elevator reaching the 20th floor, floors 21 through 47 has a problem there’s no elevator and residents will need to take the stairs.

It’s hard to imagine a 650-foot luxury high-rise under construction in the resort city of Benidorm being built without an elevator that goes all the way to the top of the building. Trying to get home by climbing the stairs is only part of the problem. Can you imagine trying to move into your apartment between 21 and 47?

The architects have managed to come up with a reason for the admission. The Temo was originally designed as a pair of 20-story residential towers and later upgraded to add the extra 27 floors. There was a big rush to move the project along and someone—likely a lot of someones—neglected to design  and allocate space for an elevator.

After working 25 years in corporate IT I’ve seen my share of interesting events—this one takes the cake.

The latest press release from Ancestry.com:

PROVO, Utah, Aug. 6, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ancestry.com LLC, the world’s largest online family history resource, announced the appointment of Janice Chaffin and Brad Garlinghouse to the Company’s Operating Committee, increasing the Committee’s size to seven members. The Company has already reported these appointments in its Registration Statement on Form S-4 as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We are pleased to welcome Janice and Brad to our Operating Committee,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. “Together, their deep experience spans leadership of top consumer-facing software and Internet service businesses, providing a strong complement to our focus on providing individuals innovative ways to discover, preserve and share their family history online.”

“Janice and Brad’s extensive industry and board expertise will provide valuable contributions to our Operating Committee and help offer insightful guidance as Ancestry.com continues to build its business for the long term,” said Bruce Chizen, Chairman of the Operating Committee of Ancestry.com. “They have a clear understanding of our industry and we expect their well-rounded perspective to strengthen our already valued Committee.” Read the rest of this entry »

Ancestry.com has added Registers of Clandestine Marriages and of Baptisms in the Fleet Prison, King’s Bench Prison, the Mint and the May Fair Chapel, which includes details on:

  • Rules of Marriages
  • Who performed Clandestine Marriages
  • What you may find in the records
  • What You May Find in the Records

The contents and format of the registers may vary slightly, but they will typically include the following details:

  • Full names of the couple (in some cases a maiden name may be absent)
  • Marital status
  • Residences (generally parishes)
  • Occupation of the groom
  • Minister’s name or initials

The collection also contains about 2,800 records of clandestine baptisms.

To find more details on these records, click on Ancestry.com.

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Upfront with NGS has just kicked off a four part series on DNA testing and its genealogical uses. Although the first DNA tests were done in 1999, DNA testing for genealogy was still in its early stages it didn’t the consumer market place until a few years ago. And, according to the National Genealogic Society this is all thanks to Bennett Greenspan who is now President of Family Tree DNA.

In the beginning there were more questions than answers. Now we are able to know which pieces came from which ancestor and where we came from both individually and from which subgroups?

This new series from NGS will be a worthwhile experience for all who are interested. To get started click on DNA Testing for Genealogy 101 – What Can It Do For You?? Part 1

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Sandy on August 3rd, 2013

Bessie Jones was born February 8, 1902, and died July 17, 1984. A gospel singer from Smithville, GA, she learned her songs from her grandfather a former slave born in Africa. Bessie was a founding member of the Georgia Sea Island Singers. Click on the video below to hear her sing—So Glad I’m Here:

For a continued worthwhile experience, click on the link to listen to the African-American Sacred Musin from the Florida Folklife collection, Shall We Gather at the River.  Among this collection you can also hear Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers sing Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

One of my all-time favorite poems is Ozymandias. It was written by Percy Bysshe Shelly and first published in the British magazine The Examiner in 1818. The central theme of Ozymandias is the inevitable decline of all leaders, and of the empires they built, however mighty in their own time.

English Romantic poet  was born on August 4, 1792 in Sussex England and, as in  most wealthy families, was Educated at Eton (boys had/have to be registered at birth or before to be able attend Eton) and Oxford. He was expelled from Oxford because he refused to admit to writing a controversial essay.

Not long after that, the 18 year-old Shelley eloped with 16 year-old Harriet Westbrook, daughter of a tavern owner. Shelley and Harriett loved on a small income from their families and had two children together.  Shelley became a follower of the radical reformer William Godwin and fell in love with Godwin’s daughter Mary. The two fled to Europe in 1814 and married after poor Harriet committed suicide two years later. Shelley was denied custody of his and Harriet’s two children.

Shelley’s inheritance did not pay all the bills and the couple spend much of their married life abroad to escape Shelley’s creditors. While living in Geneva Read the rest of this entry »

This is a terrific magazine and it’s free. The July issue (14th edition) of Irish Lives Remembered Genealogy eMagazine is now available online to read or download free of charge from www.irishlivesremembered.com. This edition is packed with 72 pages of family history resources and stories to help trace your Irish ancestors with a special focus on Tracing Your Donegal Ancestors.

Click on the Irish Lives Remembered to start reading.

FamilySearch has recently added more than 1.1 million images from Belgium, Nicaragua, Spain, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 379,887 index records and images from the U.S., North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663–1979, collection, the 301,441 index records and images from the U.S., North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762–1979, collection, and the 125,530 index records from the new United States, National Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel Files, 1954–1970, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

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

TLC has picked up Who Do You Think You Are? It airs every Tuesday at 9/8c yesterday’s episode featured  Christina Applegate and the entire show is now available on TLC. You can watch it on your computer, tablet or television and even smart phone.

Click on TLC to visit the site and view Christina’s experience.

You can also view Kelly Clarkson’s entire experience at the same location.

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Dwight-D-EisenhowerMany people think the phrase “In God We Trust” began with the Founding Fathers. The phrase was actually signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 30th, 1956 a mere 57 years ago. Does this make a difference? I don’t think so, but many do. Two years prior to that the phrase “under God” was inserted into the pledge of allegiance and some might think that because it wasn’t a decision made by the Founding Fathers that it should be left out.

“In God We Trust” became the nation’s official motto and it was then mandated that the phrase be printed on all US paper money. Although it is true that the phrase has been placed on U.S. coins since the Civil War when religious sentiment reached a peak. President Eisenhower’s treasury secretary, George Humphrey, suggested adding the phrase to paper currency as well.

The first paper money with the phrase “In God We Trust” was printed in 1957 and since then religious and secular groups have argued over the appropriateness and constitutionality that mentions “God” because the founding fathers were dedicated to maintaining the separation of church and state.

Presidential biographers insist that Eisenhower embraced religion but never intended to force his beliefs on anyone.  At a Flag Day speech in 1954, he explained why he wanted to included  “under God” in the pledge of allegiance: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

The chapel-like structure near where he and his wife Mamie are buried on the grounds of his presidential library is called the “Place of Meditation”—intentionally nondenominational.

The following is the latest press release from ancestry.com:

PROVO, Utah, July 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ancestry.com Inc. (the “Company”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com LLC, today announced that it is offering to exchange (the “Exchange Offer”) up to $300,000,000 of its outstanding 11.00% Senior Notes due 2020 (the “Outstanding Notes”) for up to $300,000,000 of its new 11.00% Senior Notes due 2020 (the “Exchange Notes” and, together with the Outstanding Notes, the “Notes”) that have been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. The Exchange Offer is being conducted pursuant to the terms of the Outstanding Notes.

The Exchange Notes to be issued in the Exchange Offer will be substantially identical to the Outstanding Notes, except that the Exchange Notes have been registered under the federal securities laws, are not subject to transfer restrictions, are not entitled to registration rights and will not provide for the payment of additional interest under circumstances relating to the timing of the Exchange Offer.

The Exchange Offer will expire at 5:00 pm, New York City time on August 26, 2013, unless extended by the Company. Valid tenders of the Outstanding Notes must be made, and may be withdrawn at any time, before the Exchange Offer expires. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on July 25th, 2013

tonto-and-lone-ranger-stillAccording to reports, the Lone Ranger movie is a bomb. That said, I very often don’t agree with the critics so I won’t know if I personally think it’s an expensive failure until I get to see it.  The only opinion I can give is that Tonto’s makeup is amazing.

Ancestry.com recently researched the family history of Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp who are both descendants of real American freedom fighters but Hammer not Depp is the one with Indian blood. Armie Hammer is descended from Cherokee Chief Kanagatucko and Johnny Depp’s 8th great grandmother is Elizabeth Key, the first African American slave to sue for freedom.

The ancestry.com press release is as follows:

PROVO, UT:  Before there was the Lone Ranger and Tonto, there was… Elizabeth Key and Chief Kanagatucko? New research from Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, reveals both Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp — the leading actors of Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Lone Ranger” — are direct descendants of two real American freedom fighters. Read the rest of this entry »

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reevu-motorcycle-helmet-hudAs you’ve probably noticed I add technology to this blog because we all use it to do almost everything. This one might be a stretch but it’s really cool.

Motorcycle helmet trailblazer Reevu has designed what it believes is the world’s first commercially available intelligent helmet with a built-in heads-up display (HUD). Although it won’t be available for another 18-24 months, with the first version of the Intelligent HUD helmet racetrack focused. Reevu has experience in rear-vision capabilities, which place the company in an excellent market position.

Although there isn’t much in the way of details, it has been reported that the HUD information will be displayed as an overlay on the helmet’s rear vision system and not the main visor. Bikers will still need to flick their eyes up to read it but a whole lot better than moving the whole had down to read the speedometer on some motorcycles.

The HUD will connect to the motorcycle’s diagnostics system and the images will display information such as RPM, fuel consumption data, indicator signals and other items.

It’s really something for bikers to look forward to in the not too distant future. As you can see from the graphic it looks like a really neat sci-fi design.

Reevu is looking at a price tag of “US $1076 (UK£700 Sterling)” for the intelligent helmet.

Read the entire article on gizmag.

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prince william and kateBritain’s royal baby is about to be born and the media from all over the world have been hanging out for about three weeks outside the London hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate) is currently giving birth.

Just to keep us from getting bored, Discovery News has just published the following interesting and amusing list of 10 things you might not know about the future monarch:

1) Genealogists say the baby will be distantly related to Dracula, the 15th century prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s famous vampire. Experts have also traced the family tree back to an Islamic sultan who is believed to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed.

2) Finland has gifted William and Kate with a special ‘baby box’ received by all expectant mothers in the Nordic country, which includes infant clothing, bra pads and even condoms.

3) By custom, earlier royal births were witnessed by the interior minister, in order to ensure that the heir was legitimate. Luckily for Kate, this tradition ended in 1936. Read the rest of this entry »

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Native_American_Tribes_Wall_MapA small delegation of Native Americans from the Sioux Nation and the Lakota people, along with Native Americans living in Hawaii, very recently arrived in the Ukraine. The reason for the trip was to permit Native Americans to discuss their historical path of blood, pain and tears, to freedom take with the Ukrainians.

The visit was at the invitation from The Kiev Times and the PRNewswire release is as follows:

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2013 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is being released by the US-Ukraine Observer:

At the invitation of The Kiev Times and the American Spiritual Diplomacy Foundation, a small delegation of Native Americans from the Sioux Nation, more specifically the Lakota people, and Native Americans living in Hawaii, recently arrived in Kiev. The Sioux Nation was represented by their chief, Joseph Brings Plenty; his son Cole Brings Plenty; and Evelyne Serais, a native of France now living in the United States, who has devoted her life in service to Native Americans. Kaiulani Kahalekai, a princess and spiritual leader of native Hawaiians flew directly from Hawaii to Kiev. Those representing Native Americans were joined in Kiev by the leadership of the Spiritual Diplomacy Foundation: Messrs. Mikhail Morgulis, Frank Abernathy, and Mark Bazalev.

The idea behind the trip was to allow Ukrainians and Native Americans to take part in discussions about freedom, keeping in mind the significance Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on July 19th, 2013

Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) has a great sale that ends on June 26th as follows:

“Time is ticking!

Still Time to Start a DNA Success Story!

Family Tree DNA customers are achieving genetic genealogy success with Family Finder tests. Recently, two men, Dr. George Urban and Stuart Ungar, discovered their family connection through DNA testing after being separated by immigration from war torn Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. In an interview Dr. Urban said his match was like, “opening the door for somebody who rings the doorbell and you find out that you … are actually remote relatives.”

Order your new Family Finder, Y-DNA, mtDNA, or a Family Finder upgrade before midnight Central Time on July 26, 2013. Start your next success and open doors to discovery at sizzling hot prices!

Get Started Today Order Now

DNA testing reveals connections to the past and to each other…Read More

Ancestry.com is offering Free access through July 21st to explore their updated New England collection comprising four centuries of pride, tradition and your family stories.

Featured collections are:

There is also a free download of a guide to help you find information in records dating back to the 1600s

Click on Ancestry.com to reach the page.

So many people have told me that I should have a Twitter account and, for various reasons, I’ve stopped short at actually doing this. The temptation to respond to negative tweets with an equally negative comment that I might regret is always present—Alec Baldwin is a good exampleJ.

A recent spam report pointed out that Twitter had the largest underground economy for buying and selling fake followers. Apparently there is a whole seedy underbelly to Twitter that most people knew nothing about. It’s has been described as the shadowy Twitter follower black market with shifty websites and Twitter accounts offering thousands of followers or retweets for just a few dollars for each transaction.

Twitter has ended the Auto Follow in the best interest of its users with a blog post quietly announced the change just before the July 4 holiday.

To learn more about it click on Tech Crunch.

Click on the link Underground Twitter Economy to read the article about the buying and selling of fake followers.

If you’re planning to open a Twitter account be sure to read “The Basics on Keeping Your Account Secure” before you start tweeting.


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Sandy on July 17th, 2013

I’m passing along a recent announcement about the digitization project undertaken by Findmypast.uk and U.K The National Archives to make available online First World War Royal Air Force and Royal Flying Corps records. The following blog post comes from Alan Stewart’s Grow Your Own Family Tree:

Around 360,000 First World War Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Flying Corps (RFC) records are to be made available online.

The family history website Find My Past UK and The National Archives (TNA) have announced a joint project to digitise hundreds of thousands of service records of First World War RAF and RFC airmen. (Officers’ records are already online at TNA’s website.)

Find My Past says: “The contract to digitise this record set, known as AIR 79, was awarded by The National Archives following a competitive tender process. It is estimated that, once digitised, the collection will comprise 360,000 transcripts and 800,000 scanned full-colour images dating back to 1912. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Archival Research Catalog (ARC) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is being permanently retired on August 15, 2013.

Since you can still search descriptions and digital content using the Online Public Access search. Online Public Access has all of the descriptions and digitized content that was in ARC as well as the ability to search archives.gov and the web sites of the Presidential Libraries.

Search results are grouped into categories based on information relevant to your search, such as:

  • Digital copies of records
  • Descriptions of records
  • Web pages on Archives.gov
  • Web pages on the Presidential Libraries’ websites


Over the next few weeks NARAtions: The Blog of the United States Archives will be sharing information and tips for using Online Public Access.

Click on Online Public Access to search the database.

Also click on NARAtions to visit the Blog of the United States Archives to learn more and leave comments and questions about the new system.

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About 230,000 burial and cremation records for the West Yorkshire area of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council have been made available at Deceased Online as follows:

Bereavement Services, Wakefield Council, Block B, Town Hall, Normanton, West Yorkshire WF6 2DZ

Approximately 261,000 burial and 134,000 cremation register records are being made available over a period, with a mixture of register scans and computerised records. Cemetery maps indicating the section where each grave is located are in preparation now. Cemetery maps showing exact grave location and selected digital photographs of headstones and memorials are expected to be added later.

Initially approximately 142,700 burial records are online for the 19 cemeteries managed by Wakefield Council. As detailed below, for some cemeteries all burials are provided, and for others this is generally restricted to data from 1986. Supporting scans are generally available up to 2005.

Approximately 82,600 cremation records are for the sites at Pontefract and Wakefield are now available online.

The Council plans to complete the collection of data provided online as soon as resources permit.

Data is provided up to 13 February 2013.

Altofts Cemetery – Church Road, Altofts, Normanton

Opened in 1878, around 6,500 burials have taken place of which around 4,400 records are available. Record availability is very inconsistent prior to March 1930. Data includes grave references. Computerised records are provided for more recent entries.

Alverthorpe Cemetery – St Paul’s Drive, Alverthorpe, Wakefield

Since 1955, around 3,100 burials have taken place of which all records are available. Data includes a majority of grave references. Computerised records are provided for more recent entries.

No data is currently available prior to 1955.

Castleford Cemetery – Headfield Road, Castleford

Opened in 1857, around 37,900 burials have taken place of which all records are available. Data includes some grave references. Computerised records are provided for more recent entries.

Crigglestone Cemetery – Standbridge Lane, Crigglestone, Wakefield

Opened in 1882, around 5,900 burials have taken place of which all records are available. Data includes some grave references. Computerised records are provided for more recent entries.

Featherstone Cemetery – Cutsyke Road, North Featherstone

Opened in 1874, around 16,600 burials have taken place of which all records are available. Data includes grave references. Computerised records are provided for more recent entries.

Ferrybridge Cemetery – Pontefract Road, Ferrybridge, Pontefract

Opened in 1924, around 1,800 burials have taken place of which all records are available. Data includes grave references. Computerised records are provided for more recent entries.

Hemsworth Cemetery – Cemetery Road, Hemsworth

Opened in 1896, around 13,700 burials have taken place of which around 3,600 records are available. Record availability is very inconsistent prior to February 1986. Data includes grave references. Computerised records are provided for all records.

Horbury Cemetery – Dovecote Lane, Horbury, Wakefield

Opened in 1897, around 8,500 burials have taken place of which all records are available. Data includes some grave references. Computerised records are provided for more recent entries.

Knottingley Cemetery – Womersley Road, Knottingley

Opened in 1859. Since 1883 around 11,800 burials have taken place of which all records are available. Records are currently unavailabe prior to August 1883. Data includes some grave references. Computerised records are provided for more recent entries.

Normanton Lower Cemetery – Cemetery Road, Normanton Read the rest of this entry »

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When I first heard that usage data in the form of browsing history was being monitored a couple of years ago,  my first reaction was that mine would be of little interest to the powers that be since it would likely be considered innocuous.  That was a mistake.

Here’s the latest. AT & T is considering selling your usage data—location, web browsing history, etc.) to advertisers. The plan was noted in a preview of an upcoming change to their privacy policy (one of these pamphlets you receive in the mail to inform you by law how they use your information).

AT&T points out that other companies, like Verizon, have been doing this for a while. This apparently makes it all okay. Facebook and Google do similar things. Keep this in mind when using Facebook and Google at the same time keep in mind that you are paying money for companies like AT & T to provide service to be able to communicate with others for business or pleasure.

The only upside, if that’s possible, it’s that AT & T is promising to anonymize and aggregate the data before they sell it. Does this make you feel better? Apparently anonymizing large chunks of data doesn’t really work. They’re just going to use it to show you “more relevant advertising”. Read the rest of this entry »

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ellis-island-nyplI’d like to point you to an article published on The New York Public Library blog dated July 2, 2013, and written by Philip Sutton, of the Milstein Division of United States History titled Why Your Family Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island (and One That Was).

The article points to the always persistent stories about names being changed at Ellis Island. It turns out that this is untrue. It is a myth that persists in the genealogy and in family lore, that family names were changed at Ellis Island during the years between 1892 and 1954. Blogs, essays and books have proven this yet the myth continued in a recent issue of The New Yorker. There was only one instance where a name was changed, but you’ll have to read the fascinating article to find out how it happened.

Names were changed, but not at Ellis Island. Inspectors never wrote down the names of incoming immigrants, the list of names came from the manifests of steamship arrivals.

Click on Why Your Family Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island (and One That Was) to read the article.


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