The following is a press release from the National Archives and Records Administration on the recent launch of the Founders Online website:

Washington, DC…The National Archives today launched the Founders Online website. This free online tool brings together the papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison in a single website that gives a first-hand account of the growth of democracy and the birth of the Republic.

Founders Online was created through a cooperative agreement between the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives, and The University of Virginia (UVA) Press.

In announcing the launch, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero was joined by University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan, NHPRC Executive Director Kathleen M. Williams, and George Mason University Professor of History Cynthia A. Kierner. National History Day student winners searched the records of the very beginnings of American law, government, and our national story. Read the rest of this entry »

genome-unlocking-lifes-codeThe Smithsonian is a great place to visit and the latest exhibit “Unlocking Life’s Code” will not disappoint.

Sixty years have passed since Crick and Watson showed the world the double helix structure of DNA. Great strides have been made in this area and the exhibition shows us how the genetic revolution continues to change our lives and understanding of the human story for health and for family history.  

The news release is as follows:

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, in partnership with the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health, opens “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” June 14—a multimedia exhibition that explores how the genomic revolution is influencing people’s lives and the extraordinary impact it is having on science, medicine and nature.

The exhibition looks at the complexities of the genome—the complete set of genetic or hereditary material of a living organism—and chronicles the remarkable breakthroughs that have taken place since the completion of the Human Genome Project 10 years ago. With cutting-edge interactives, 3-D models, custom animation and engaging videos of real-life stories, the exhibition examines both the benefits and the challenges that genomics presents to modern society.

“Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” will be on view at the National Museum of Natural History through Sept. 1, 2014, when it will begin a tour of venues throughout North America.

“Genomic research is a vital tool for exploring the mysteries of the natural world, and it is an important part of Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on June 12th, 2013

iOS-vs-AndroidHas Apple branded too well? While this may be true with their proprietary operating system, there are so many devotees it really won’t matter regardless of any comparison with the Android platform. Or, will it?

Apple is certainly ahead of the field in the smart phone race and, according to many, it will always have a problem appealing to most of the techies out there. The major reason being that iOS is often seen as an unfriendly product when it comes to compatibility and some great “stuff” won’t ever appear in any device not created by Apple.

Android is an open source system and seen by developers as having a user friendly platform that plays well with others. Most people believe that the can buy an Andoid device and use with any other device they want without having to worry about compatibility. This makes it better than iOS.  Perhaps.

Open source means that anyone with the knowhow can make changes to the basic functions and capabilities of the Android system. This allows app developers to work more easily with the platform and potentially create a huge breakthrough on how it all works. Millions can work together to make Android better while Apple remains within its own boundaries.

According to reports iOS is a bit unwieldy and the exact opposite is true with Android because it doesn’t require the in depth knowledge required by iOS so more people can make apps faster with Android.

Personally, I think the big turn off for people in regards to Apple products is the price.  While there are definitely people happy to pay for an Apple product—I wonder why?—this limits who will actually buy them.  With this mindset I suppose iOS used in Apple will probably reach a limited about of people. Except that everywhere I turn people are carrying iPhones or sending out an email from their iPad.

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The following is the latest news from the popular family history website Genes Reunited:

Today leading family history website Genes Reunited published new records including the Bank of England Wills Extracts from 1717-1845 and the London Probate Index from 1750-1858.

The Bank of England Wills Extracts is a fantastic resource for family historians containing over 60,000 entries giving an insight into the period 1717 – 1845. This latest record set contains extracts from the wills of those who held money in public funds as well as orders made for stockholders who went bankrupt.

From today people interested in uncovering more about the lives of their ancestors can visit www.genesreunited.co.uk and search the latest records listed below: Read the rest of this entry »

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The following announcement comes from FamilySearch.org:

FamilySearch is pleased to announce the first Tree Share Certified applications for Mac OS X and iOS computers and mobile devices, MacFamilyTree and MobileFamilyTree.  Charting Companion for FamilySearch is now Tree Access Certified.  “Certified” means the product is compatible with FamilySearch.org and has features that conforms to our strict standards of quality.

Tree-Access-Iconor Tree Access (tree read only) indicates that FamilySearch Family Tree data can be read from the partner’s application.

Tree-Connect-Iconor Tree Connect (tree read and writing of sources) indicates that you can attach references about your ancestors to records, images, stories, and other media found on the internet. These attached sources of evidence can be viewed by anyone using FamilySearch Family Tree.

Tree-Share-Icon or Tree Share (full tree read and write) indicates that you can reconcile tree data between the partner’s product and Family Tree. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sandy on June 6th, 2013

dwight-eisenhower-gives the orderThe term D-Day is often used as military jargon for the day an event will happen, for many it is when we think of June 6, 1944. On that day the World War II Allied powers crossed the English Channel to land on the beaches of Normandy, France. This started the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control.

Within three months, the northern part of France was freed and the invasion force prepared to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces arriving from the east.

Since Hitler’s armies controlled most of mainland Europe, the Allies know that a successful invasion of Germany was critical to winning the war.

Hitler also knew this and was anticipating an attack on northwestern Europe in the spring of 1944. He  had hopes of repelling the Allies from the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts. This would have given him time to throw the majority of his forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east and achieve an overall victory.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history, Read the rest of this entry »

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ss-ozamaWhen we go to the movies or watch crime shows on TV featuring all manner of theft and gun running its easy to forget, with all the modern technology,  that gun running and smuggling has being going on for a very long time.

A ship wreck has been found off the coast of South Carolina’s Cape Romain in about 40 feet of water and positively identified as the SS Ozama by underwater archaeology pioneer and treasure hunter Dr. E. Lee Spence. Dr Spence also found the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley, previously written up on this blog, as well as, the SS Georgiana and many other significant shipwrecks.

According to Dr. Spence, the SS Ozama is in surprisingly good condition with most of the ship relatively intact and sitting upright.

The vessel was built in Scotland in 1881 as the steamer Craigallion and in 1884 was used to tow one of the great dredges from New York to the construction site of the Panama Canal in Central America.

Craigallion was wrecked in 1885 in the Bahamas, salvaged and renamed Ozama after the river in Santo Dominco  Dominican Republic, a regular port of call.

Ozama has a colorful history, which includes mutiny, extensive gun running , paper money smuggling and possibly gold, to Haiti.

In addition to reports by the New York Times of gun running to Haiti, another article reported that $300,000 in paper money to Haiti with the first tranche of $1,000,000 meant to replace a previous issue.

Spence, whose work is being funded by British company United Gold Explorations Limited, told Discovery News “Whatever is still there, we have good reason to believe at least some of it will be intact, as I have already brought up some unbroken china.”  He is hoping to find gold, but the team will thoroughly map the wreck and try to determine its structural integrity before digging in.

The original article tells an interesting tale. To learn more, click on Smuggler’s Shipwrecked Steamer Found.

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U.K. based Deceased Online says the registers for the Cemetery are held at The National Archives (TNA) and Deceased Online digitally scanned all of these within the TNA building in Kew, South West London. Continue reading to learn the history of Brompton Cemetery and see the list of famous people interred, including Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst:

Brompton Cemetery, consecrated by the Bishop of London in June 1840, is one of Britain’s oldest and most distinguished garden cemeteries. The cemetery is Grade I Listed on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. The 39-acre (16 hectare) site lies between Old Brompton and Fulham Roads in South West London, on the western border of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, then a distant suburb but now a populous and diverse community in the heart of London.

Brompton Cemetery is one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ London cemeteries constructed during the 1830’s and 1840’s to relieve overcrowded burial grounds. The others are: Abney Park, Highgate, Kensal Green, Nunhead, Tower Hamlets and West Norwood. Brompton is the first and only of these to have had all its records digitized and made available through any website, Deceased Online. We do hope to add others in the near future. Read the rest of this entry »

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FamilySearch has added more than 7.3 million images this week from Austria, Brazil, China, Honduras, Luxembourg, Peru, Portugal, Switzerland, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 5,766,135 images from the new U.S., Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620–1986, collection, the 337,367 images from the new Honduras, Civil Registration, 1841–1968, collection, and the 191,701 images from the new U.S., Hawaii, Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900–1953, 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 »

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Sandy on May 30th, 2013

Knowing how to stay safe and secure online is a problem and most of us think it’s close to impossible. Whether you’re a Google user or not, or leery of Google’s methods, their new Good to Know site offers quick tips with simple and sound advice.

Take a look at the valuable list of topics below:

How you can stay safe and secure online

How you can protect your family online Read the rest of this entry »

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electra-sonar

For Bill.

According to reports, a sonar image captured off an uninhabited tropical island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati could be the remains of Amelia Earhart’s plane Electra. She was was piloting the plane when she vanished on July 2, 1937, during her attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), has been investigating Earhart’s last flight for a long time and have images that show an anomaly resting at the depth of about 600 feet in the water off Nikumaroro island, 350 miles southeast of Earhart’s target destination, Howland Island.

Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR told Discovery News, “It is truly an anomaly, and when you’re looking for man-made objects against a natural background, anomalies are good,”

Perhaps after all, TIGHAR has conclusive results. The number of artifacts recovered by the team during 10 expeditions indicate that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, made a forced landing on the islands smooth, flat coral reef, becoming castaways, and eventually died there.

To read the article click on Discovery News.

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LACOn May 21 Dick Eastman published an article on in his blog  Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter about the political scandal brewing in Canada along with the resignation of Daniel Caron, head of the Library of Archives Canada (LAC) after billing taxpayers nearly $4,500 for personal Spanish lessons. Click on http://goo.gl/ll53g to read Mr. Eastman’s article.

Caron’s departure comes amongst numerous other claims of improper management at LAC.

Eastman’s follow up article on May 24, pointed to Kimberly Silks blog post at http://goo.gl/KsuPw, which describes the issues, the tasks at hand, and how Canadians can take action to save and greatly improve the Library and Archives Canada.

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scottish-lion-rampantThe following news release regarding the launch of the 1895 Valuation Rolls comes from ScotlandsPeople:

New records reveal a colourful picture of Victorian society in Scotland

The names of more than two million Scots from the late Victorian age will be published today, as records of Scottish properties and their owners and occupiers in 1895 are released on ScotlandsPeople, the government’s family history website.

Called the Valuation Rolls, the records give an insight into Scottish society during that period, and will be a major resource for genealogists.

The records comprise more than two million indexed names and over 75,000 digital images, covering every kind of building, structure or property in Scotland that was assessed as having a rateable value.

The Valuation Rolls include people from right across the social spectrum, from the wealthiest proprietors to the humblest property owners and tenants of Scotland’s urban housing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Thank you for your service. “…the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.”

 

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Spittal_fromBonnieIn case you haven’t noticed, genealogical research is very expensive. In today’s environment when people really need to get something for free,  I’ve taken a look several sites that will certainly help you get started:

I haven’t prioritized them in a numbered list because they’re all useful for different reasons. I’ll be researching some more and will add a special page on SpittalStreet.com for free resources.

Family Search 

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world and is used by millions of people. It’s a nonprofit organization and has successfully connected families across generations. The good work is carried out be a truly dedicated team of volunteers to help people discover who they are by exploring where they came from. They have been doing this work for over a 100 years and I can’t say enough good things about their efforts. If you’d like to volunteer click on the link to the website.

World GenWeb Project 

“The WorldGenWeb Project was created in 1996 by Dale Schneider in an effort to answer the growing needs of genealogists world-wide who were trying to research their ancestors online. Dale’s original goal (as is ours today) was to have every country in the world represented by an online website and hosted by researchers who either live in their own country or who are familiar with their country’s resources.

Shortly after the WorldGenWeb Project debuted on the Internet in October of 1996 (it was first located on Dsenter.com) volunteers were recruited to host country websites. By the close of 1996 many of the larger countries in the world had websites online, thanks in part to the early success of it’s sister project, The USGenWeb Project (which went online in June of 1996). Throughout the next year, our project continued to recruit volunteers and became firmly established as an online resource for international genealogists.  From 17 September 1997 till 16 April 2008 the WorldGenWeb Project was hosted by Rootsweb.com – The Generations Network.  Currently the project is freely hosted by FamilyLink.com, Inc.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Washington, DC…On Friday, October 11, 2013, the National Archives will unveil a new exhibition, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. Government efforts to preserve these materials. Located in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, “Discovery and Recovery” is free and open to the public and runs through January 5, 2014.

In both English and Arabic, the 2,000 square foot exhibit features 24 recovered items and a “behind the scenes” video of the fascinating yet painstaking preservation process. This exhibit marks the first time these items have been on public display.

Background

On May 6, 2003, just days after the Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, a group assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.

The water-logged materials quickly became moldy in Baghdad’s intense heat and humidity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Memorial Day in the US is May 27, and millions of Americans will remember the men and women who died while serving in the US Armed Forces.

MyHertige is providing free access to its database on May 27 through May 28 as follows:

In honor of this special day, we are proud to provide free access – through May 28 –  to our most popular collections of US military records.

Search now

Journey back in time to some of the most important conflicts in world history that not only impacted families in the US, but millions of families worldwide.

Formerly known as Decoration Day – later changed to Memorial Day and observed on the fourth Monday of May – traditions include placing flowers on graves of fallen soldiers, flying flags at half-mast from dawn until noon, parades, picnics, fireworks and more..

The observance originated following the Civil War, but was extended after World War I to honor all those who died in battle while serving in the US military. Read the rest of this entry »

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SmilingCatWhat a deal for David Karp! Tumblr made 13 million last year and Yahoo just acquired the company for 1.1 million dollars. This grand purchase  is an effort to attract younger users and bring Yahoo back from the edge of the abyss.

We are told that nothing will change at Tumblr, they are not turning purple. Okay, it’s interesting to note that 11.6% of the content is porn. If mom didn’t know this before she will certainly know now.

The following article appeared in Bloomberg today:

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) is preparing to unveil updates to the company’s Flickr photo-sharing site today, amid reports that the board has approved a $1.1 billion acquisition of blogging network Tumblr Inc.

Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer will detail changes to Flickr at a press event in New York, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Yahoo’s directors authorized a purchase of Tumblr yesterday, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Mayer has been tweaking Yahoo’s services and adding features designed to win back users and advertisers who have fled the Web portal in favor of competing sites such as Facebook Inc. (FB) and Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG) Improvements to Flickr in December helped Yahoo top 300 million monthly mobile users, up from just 200 million at the end of the last year. An acquisition of Tumblr would add a social network of 108 million blogs that’s popular with a younger audience. Read the rest of this entry »

leap-motion-controlGoogle recently celebrated Earth Day by releasing Google Earth 7.1 with some great new features. The first of three interesting areas is actually mentioned in my previous post, Marvel Comics Dazzler character’s checkered career—her talent is now a reality.  The most notable feature with version 7.1 is Leap Motion support where you navigate Google Earth with simple hand gestures. The Leap Motion Controller priced at $79.99, is scheduled to start shipping in mid-July.

“The Leap Motion Controller senses how you move your hands, the way you move them naturally. So you can point, wave, reach, and grab. Even pick something up and put it down.”

Click on Leap Motion Controller  to see some other fantastic features such as:  Slicing fallen fruit, steer cars, fly planes, build 3D objects, or simply browse the web.

There are more 3D City Views in Google 7.1 mainly for New York City, but other U.S. cities with 3D coverage are: Read the rest of this entry »

Debut_of_Dazzler

First appearance of Dazzler

Marvel Comics super heroine Dazzler (Alison Blair) is usually associated with the X-Men first appearing in Uncanny X-Men in 1980.

As a mutant with the ability to convert sound vibrations into light and energy beams, Dazzler was originally developed as a cross-promotional, multi-media creation between Casablanca Records and Marvel Comics but the association was dropped in 1980.

Her career could be considered checkered. The character was originally commissioned as a disco singer, shifting to other musical categories including adult contemporary and rock. After starring in the Marvel Comic solo series Dazzler in the 1980’s for 42 issues and a four issue limited series called The Movie, she co-starred The Beast a four-issue limited series called Beauty and the Beast. Dazzle later joined the cast of the X-Men then briefly appeared with the spin-off group Excalibur before rejoining X-men.

After her return to X-men, the character went on to a notable run as an X-Men member before disappearing completely for much of the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

When the New Excalibur was launched Dazzler returned to monthly publication as a prominent cast member for the first time in over fifteen years.

When Marvel canceled New Excalibur (sounds like the annual TV Fall lineup with either joy and disappointment for hard-working actors), Dazzler was brought back as a supporting character in Uncanny X-Men.

Although Marvel published a one-shot Dazzler special in 2010, the good came news for the character in the 2012 series, X-Extreme E-Men which features Dazzler as the leader of a dimension-hopping X-Men team.

The character has earned her place in comic history and perhaps inspired Canadian startup company, Thalmic Labs, to come up with a computer interface that allows the wearer to control computers and even drones with the wave of an arm.

The control is programmed in an armband that reads electrical activity in the forearm muscles as the user gestures. Gesture control is becoming more and more common thanks to the Kinect and cameras that track users and translate their body motion into a computer command.

PR_record-detective_ENThe following press release comes from global family history network MyHeritage announcing a technology breakthrough that turns brick-walls into new leads:

PROVO, Utah & TEL AVIV, Israel–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 13, 2013–

MyHeritage, the popular family history network, today announced the launch of Record Detective(TM), the first technology of its kind to automatically extend the paper trail from a single historical record to other related records and family tree connections.

Record Detective(TM) turns historical records into smart objects that determine which people they are about, and conducts further research about them. Records found in MyHeritage’s digital archive, SuperSearch, will now include a summary of additional records and individuals in family trees relating to them, thanks to the Record Detective(TM) technology. This will provide users with new information and clues to take their research to new directions.

Examples of how Record Detective(TM) benefits users: Read the rest of this entry »

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Genes make up only 2 percent of the human genome, and researchers have argued in recent years that the remaining 98 percent may play some hidden, useful role.

dnastructureApparently in the plant world, junk DNA really is just junk. While the findings published in the Journal of Nature yesterday May 12 do concern a carnivorous plant, they could have implications for the human genome as well—maybe not.

Scientists have known for decades that the vast majority of the human genome is made of up DNA that doesn’t seem to contain genes or turn genes on or off.  This black hole of dark DNA consists of genetic parasites that copy segments of DNA and paste themselves repeatedly in the genome or is made up of fossils of once useful genes that have now been switched off. I would interpret this as being part of evolution.

The findings while researching the carnivorous “bladderwort” plant suggest junk DNA really isn’t needed for healthy plants—and that may also hold true for other organisms, such as humans.

It is, however, still a mystery why some organisms have genomes bloated with junk while other genomes are studies in minimalism.

“One possibility is that there was some evolutionary pressure to strip the genome of extra material. But that’s unlikely given that similar plants with huge genomes don’t seem to fare badly.”

To read the entire article click on Live Science.

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I’ve often said during the light-hearted conversation on the subject of eccentricity, “It depends, of course, on ones definition of normal.” Do you have your share of nuts on your family tree?

Christopher Guest pioneered the “mockumentary” on film and his latest comedy Family Tree, which starts tomorrow, promises to be entertaining and filled with eccentric characters.

Just when you think the television mockumentary format may be reaching oversaturation, I have a funny feeling family history researchers will find this one will touch their funny bone.

The show revolves around a sad Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd) who has simultaneously lost his job and his girlfriend. Tom is floundering along life’s “dragway” until he receives an unusual bequest from his Great-Aunt Victoria to research his family history.

Victoria passes along a mysterious box containing a collection of mementos from his family’s complicated history. Instead of seeing it has a box of odds and ends, he decides to see it as the start of a journey to reconstruct the family tree and learn the truth of his family’s checkered past to understand his own.

There are several eccentric characters including Tom’s sister, Bea (Nina Conti) who is a few  knives short of a full dinner service. Bea walks around wearing a monkey hand puppet called Monk, an outgrowth of her childhood therapy that has clung to her in adulthood.

There’s a sense within Family Tree that the key to unlocking one’s identity is to take a deep dive into the past, no matter how convoluted or confusing the results may be. Viewers will find it interesting to see how many branches Tom is willing to climb to get his answers and just how many nuts he’ll discover up there.

Click on the video below to see the trailer:

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uv-of-edinburghSome up-to-date news from ScotlandsPeople:

The University of Edinburgh is looking to create an online archive that contains stories told by Scots-Italians about Italian emigration to ‘Scozia’. 

This 
exciting project will be organised by Professor Federica Pedriali, who is the director of the ‘Italo Scots Research Cluster’ at the university. Although Scots-Italians are one of the oldest immigrant communities in Scotland, amazingly, this is the first time that the idea of creating an archive of their stories has been proposed. 

If you would like to get involved in the project, you can contact Professor Pedriali and her team at the
the Italo Scots Research Cluster.

Also, if you are “Using the 1895 Valuation Rolls to break through an ancestral brick wall – please get in touch!
We’re currently working on the 1895 Valuation Rolls (VRs), which we plan to launch shortly on the ScotlandsPeople website.
 

We’re hoping that the 1895 Valuation Rolls will help those customers whose ancestors appear in the 1891 Census, but ‘disappear’ by the time of the 1901 Census. So we’re looking to find a couple of interesting examples that we can highlight when we launch the 1895 VRs. In short, we’d like to try and find these ancestors for you, by searching the 1895 Valuation Rolls.

So if you think that the 1895 Valuation Rolls might well contain a missing ancestor of yours, then please drop us a brief email at press@scotlandspeople.gov.uk. Thank you!

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Sandy on May 5th, 2013

cinco_de_mayoCinco de Mayo (May 5th) is a considered a minor holiday in Mexico, but in the United States it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. As part of my after the day job, I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to adult immigrants. My students loved to discuss the history and culture of Cinco De Mayo, even those who didn’t have Mexican roots.

When Benito Juarez became president of Mexico in 1861, the country was in financial ruin. When the Mexican government defaulted on debts owed to the European governments of France, Britain and Spain they sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew.

This was not the case with France, ruled by Napoleon III, who decided to take the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. The well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz and landed a strong French force that sent Juarez and his government into retreat.

The French General Charles Latrille de Lorencez thought that his 6,000 troops guaranteed a swift French victory in Mexico. President Juarez managed to round up a rag-tag force of 2000 loyal men, led by Texas born General Zaragoza, they prepared for battle at the small town of Puebla do Los Angeles, in east-central Mexico. Read the rest of this entry »

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thomas-edisons-voltage-regulator

Thomas Edison

Technology affects every aspect of our society and according to the Brookings Institution the most productive periods in the United States occurred during the early 20th century and the Great Depression.

Patents are the DNA of inventions, and the most patents (per capita) were registered in 1883, 1885, 1890, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1931, 1932 2010 and 2011. They established new industries, businesses and economies.

Listed below are  some of the inventions from those years, which includes Apple CEO Steve Jobs

1883 Thomas Edison’s Voltage Regulator:

Megastar-inventor Thomas Edison has claimed more than 1,000 patents, including the phonograph, light bulb and Voltage Regulator that was key to the development of radio, television and computer transistors.

1885 Machine Gun:

American-born British citizen Hiram Maxim invented a self-powered portable and fully-automatic machine gun that changed warfare. Its effects on society and the constitutional right to own it are still being debated today.

1890 Stop Sign:

William Phelps Eno proposed the first set of traffic rules and signs in an article published in Rider and Driver, although the first actual sign didn’t appear until 1915. Read the rest of this entry »

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The following is a press release from MyHeritage via Geneabloggers.com:

PROVO, Utah & TEL AVIV, Israel – May 1, 2013: MyHeritage, the popular family history network, today announced that it has added the entire collection of U.S. Federal Censuses conducted each decade from 1790 to 1930 to its growing database of billions of historical records.  Combined with innovative technologies and affordable prices, MyHeritage makes it easier and more accessible than ever to illuminate the lives of one’s ancestors during this fascinating period in American history.

Among the nation’s largest and most important set of records totaling around 520 million names, the Censuses provide information about individuals residing in the U.S. including age, address, education, occupation, place of birth, race, native language, marital status, relationship to head of household, neighbors – and more. Family history enthusiasts can now search the indexed images of the U.S. Censuses at http://www.myheritage.com/research and discover the legacy of former generations between 1790 and 1930 in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

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FamilySearch.org made big news last month when it re-launched a new website. The result as in any other upgrade is confusion among many users. This includes its online trees program with an empahsise on the new photo and story uploading features plus very nice looking fan chart.

What you might want to consider is Family Tree Magazine’s live seminar scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 9th.  If you register before May 5, you can get it for $39.99 quite a bargain if you want to learn sooner rather than later on from Family Search. After May 5 the price goes up to $39.99.

The schedule is below: Read the rest of this entry »

Origins.net has an impressive database of wills. Wills are a terrific source of information before the census started in 1841 and make it easy to find your ancestors. They uncover relationships that you may never have thought to look for.

See below to understand the potential value of this type of information from Origins.net:

Wills can provide an extraordinary amount of information about your forebears, but most people probably have never had the chance to delve into these documents to see what they can learn. But now Oxfordshire wills from the 16th century up to 1858 – over 30,000 of them – are available online, at www.origins.net.

Simply Register or Login to search the Indexes and uncover some of your family’s hidden gems.

What can the original wills tell me? 
Prior to census returns, meaning before 1841, wills can be the best source of family relationship information. The list of what you may find is impressive.

Names of heirs and beneficiaries
Relationships
Places of residence and origin of testators
Places of residence of the heirs and beneficiaries
Properties and whether freehold, copyhold or lease
Occupations
Debts owed and due
Business arrangements
Executors
Witnesses
Inventories of personal property
Personal comments about heirs and beneficiaries

The potential value of this information in furthering your research is high, particularly if more commonly consulted records such as parish registers have drawn a blank. The information in wills goes beyond immediate family, many wills name nieces and nephews, godchildren, husbands of sisters and wives of brothers and distant kin. Usually the relationships are defined and the place of residence may be stated.  

One example is that of a Banbury bacon seller: Read the rest of this entry »

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Ancestry.com says:

Early this morning the World Archives Project community achieved a huge milestone- 100,000,000 records keyed! The record count started in June 2008 and we reached 100,000,000 records early this morning.

The 166 indexes created through the World Archives Project are free for anyone to search. If you would like to join our community of contributors and play a role in helping others find their ancestors you can learn more here.

Thank you to the thousands of contributors who have given of their time to key these records!

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Sandy on April 29th, 2013

Deceased Online is a wonderful database with new records added on a regular basis. Unfortunately, as of April 22nd they have had to raise the rates: 

For over 4 years we have managed to keep our document viewing prices fixed at a low rate, even reducing some of them. Unfortunately, due to increased costs, we can’t hold off price increases any longer. However we do feel the new prices will still be very reasonable when compared with other commercial genealogy websites. 

The increases apply only to viewing register page scans or computerised register records; all other prices will remain unchanged. The minimum purchase has been raised in line with this. 

The good news is that we are doubling the discounts on quantity credit purchases for a while. And more special offers will be available in due course.

The price increases will help us to get more records onto the website sooner, which we are sure you will applaud, and to develop the website to incorporate some of our users’ excellent ideas. 

Note that searching the database is still free, and you don’t have to spend any money until you are fairly certain that you have the right person. 

The price changes will come into effect at 12:00 GMT (13:00 BST) on Monday April 22nd. The new rates can be viewed
here. The website will be unavailable for an hour or two from this time while it is being updated.

We hope you agree that Deceased Online offers excellent value for access to its unique database of burial, grave and cremation records, and hope that its ever-increasing rate of expansion will soon bring more records of interest to you.

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Bill Wilson-age 24

Bill Wilson-age 24

The Peace Corps program in the United States was established by an Executive Order issued by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961, and authorized by Congress on March, 1961.

Australia, under the heading of “External Affairs”, administered an organization similar to the Peace Corps. As part of this arrangement, Bill Wilson, a member of my extended family, went to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to teach school.

Life-long friendships were formed, laying the foundations of a truly remarkable legacy. When Bill arrived there in 1952, PNG was in the very early stage of the road to independence.

The following article, Friendship—two peoples join by mutual experience, was written by Barbara Short. The article describes Bill’s experience and discusses two of his students:

(1) the highly respected late Sir Alkan Tololo, who rose to become High Commisssioner to Malaysia, to Australia, chancellor of the universities in Port Moresby, Lae and Vudal and member of boards that served the nation and,

(2) Sir Paulias Matane, who served as the first Papua New Guinean Ambassador to the United States following the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“TIM COSTELLO, CEO of World Vision, is calling for more young Australians to visit Papua New Guinea and become friends with the Melanesian people, to take time to get to know them and for an effort to be made to understand each other’s culture, dreams and aspirations.

One young Aussie who did just this back in 1952 was Bill Wilson (pictured) from Perth, Western Australia, then aged 24. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on April 24th, 2013

I’m a huge fan of Superman and recently discovered that he has a fascinating history.

The character was created by two Cleveland, Ohio, high school students, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, in 1933.

It was especially interesting to learn that Superman was originally created a bald clairvoyant villain disposed to world domination. The character first appeared as a short story in a “fanzine” published by Jerry Siegel, in 1933, called Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization #3  and titled “The Reign of Superman”.

Later in 1933 Siegel changed the character to that of a hero bearing no resemblance to the clairvoyant evildoer. Superman was remodeled on a combination of the silent film star, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (May 23, 1883 – December 12, 1939), his bespectacled alter ego, on movie star and producer Harold Lloyd (April 20, 1893 – March 8, 1971), and Joe Shuster.  

The name “Clark Kent”  was created from the first names of movie stars Clark Gable and Kent Taylor. Lois Lane was modeled on Joanne Carter who became Siegel’s wife.  

The character was sold in 1938 to Detective Comics, Inc.  (later DC Comics) and Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) subsequently airing in various radio serials, television programs, films, newspaper strips and video games.

You can recognize him (just in case you come from another planet) in his blue costume, red cape and a large red and yellow “S” shield on his chest.  

He was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton and was rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father Jor-El only moments before Krypton’s destruction. He was adopted by a Kansas farmer and his wife and named Clark Kent.

He started to display superhuman abilities at an early age which he resolved to use for the benefit of humanity when he became an adult. Superman lives in the city of Metropolis and as Clark Kent he is a journalist of the city newspaper called the Daily Planet.

Very early “Clark” started to display superhuman abilities and upon reaching maturity he resolved to use them for the benefit of humanity. Superman lives and operates in the fictional American city of Metropolis. As Clark Kent, he is a journalist for a Metropolis newspaper called the Daily Planet.

With the success of his adventures, Superman helped to create the superhero genre and establish its primacy within the American comic book.

Click on the video below to see the trailer of Superman: Unbound , scheduled to be released “June 14, 2013, on Blue-Ray, DVD, On Demand and for Download.” Looks great for 5 to 100 age group.

Superman: Unbound is  “Based on the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank 2008 release “Superman: Brainiac,” SUPERMAN: UNBOUND finds the horrific force responsible for the destruction of Krypton – Brainiac  descending upon Earth.”

Man of Steel is coming to movie  theaters on June 14, 2013.

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ScotlandsPeople says:

All the statutory birth, marriage, and death indexes for 2012 have been made searchable on the ScotlandsPeople website. By law, all births in Scotland have to be registered, and local authority registrars send the original register pages to the National Records of Scotland (NRS) for permanent preservation in paper form. NRS then arranges for the pages to be digitally imaged for public access via ScotlandsPeople. In addition to searching names in ScotlandsPeople, you can learn more about the changing popularity of names using other resources of the National Records of Scotland.

Exploring changes in naming conventions in Scotland – babies’ names in 2012
graphic for babies namesYou can gain a fascinating insight into the most popular and unusual names for babies registered during the period from January to November 2012 by looking at “Babies first names 2012″ on the National Records of Scotland website.

For the eighth year running, Sophie is the most popular girls’ name, and Jack the favourite name for boys. Emily, Olivia, Ava, Lucy and Sophie make up the top five girls’ names, while Lewis, Riley, James, Logan and Jack make up the top five names for boys. Read the rest of this entry »

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When we think of our ancestors who traveled here to North America and others who journeyed to Australia and New Zealand we are reminded of how brave they were. Although for folks in Scotland and Ireland in the1700s and 1800s the New World was likely worth the risk as well as for good people who had no choice in the decision.

FindMyPast has added millions of new records as follows:

Over the past six months, we’ve added hundreds of millions of records from right across the English speaking world – from Australia, New Zealand, the United States & Ireland – to our World collection, and made them accessible through upgrade to a World subscription or through PayAsYouGo credits.

These records include: Read the rest of this entry »

picts

One of the biggest surprises in the well-known ScotlandsDNA project is the fact that 10 per cent of Scottish men are directly descended from the Picts.

The fate of the tribe of fierce and enigmatic people who fought with Rome’s legions has been historically surrounded in mystery and they were assumed to have simply disappeared. Because of ScotlandsDNA project’s discovery, this version of history has been updated and it’s now believed they were outrun by political events and became assimilated by incoming Scots invasions from Ireland

The Picts were actually a confederation of tribes (like the modern clan system) who lived north of Scotland’s Forth and Clyde region, beyond the reach of the Roman Empire. They constituted the largest kingdom in Dark Age Scotland and successfully kept both Romans and Angles at bay. They were a dominant force in what is now Scotland for about 600 years.

The recently discovered DNA marker R1b-S530 suggests that 10 per cent of Scottish men are direct descendents of the people known as “Picti” (painted ones) by the Romans.

After testing this new Y-DNA marker R1b-S530 in more than 3,000 British and Irish men, Dr Jim Wilson, chief scientist at ScotlandsDNA project discovered it is ten times more common in those with Scottish grandfathers than those with English ­grandfathers.

“While ten per cent of more than 1,000 Scottish men tested carry R1b-S530, only 0.8 per cent of Englishmen have it.

About 3 per cent of men in Northern Ireland carry the ­lineage, but it was only seen once in more than 200 men from the Republic of Ireland.

It is believed the presence in Northern Ireland is due to the plantations of Lowland Scots in the 16th and 17th centuries. This is a pattern usually seen with markers that appear to be ­restricted to Scotland.”

Dr Wilson, is also a senior lecturer in population and disease genetics commented to the Scotsman newspaper that R1b-S530 is a very Scottish DNA marker and there is a huge difference between the Scots and the English. He considers this is a clear sign that while people do move around, a core group has remained at home in Scotland.  

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Sandy on April 18th, 2013

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA).

I’m a little late with this blog post since National Library Week is usually celebrated during the second week of April. Nevertheless I’d still like to remind everyone of the importance of our libraries as resources for people need help, whether it be a literacy program, homework, or access to computers.

Although the video below is mainly for young people, please be reminded that there are adults out there who need the adult literacy programs provided by our public libraries:

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The latest release from FamilySearch is as follows:

FamilySearch has added 2.4 million indexed records and images this week from Brazil, German, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Peru, Ukraine, the United States, and Venezuela. Notable collection updates include the 1,033,852 images from the new Netherlands, Bibliothéque Wallonne Card Indexes from ca. 1500-1858, collection, and the 449,478 images from the Germany, Brandenburg, Berlin Probate Records from 1796-1853, 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 »

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Sandy on April 17th, 2013

Family Tree Builder 7.0It’s FREE.

After completing a successful two-month beta program with power users, MyHeritage Family Tree Builder 7.0 has been released. It’s the latest version of the world’s most popular free genealogy software.

This software is used by millions of people around the world and My Heritage says it’s the best version they’ve ever released.

Family Tree Builder 7.0 is reportedly packed with exiting new features and improvements to make documenting and sharing your family history easier.  

This latest version now has full sync two-way publishing, which enables you to access your family tree securely from your smart phone or tablet device, edit and grow your family tree, and add photos to it anytime and anywhere.

All additions and changes will sync back to your Family Tree Builder software on your computer.

To learn more about it, see some great screenshots, and download the new version, click on My Heritage.

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Sandy on April 16th, 2013

After announcing the launch of their new website a couple of months ago, the British Society of Genealogists website is now online.

The news release is as follows:

The Society of Genealogists website www.sog.org.uk   has been refreshed and rewritten. The Website contains all the information you would expect to find about the SoG and its remarkable Library along with a new Learn section which includes Record Guides for popular genealogical sources and Hints and Tips on researching your family history, not only in the SoG Library but generally.

The new website enables readers to Search SoG Records which means you can search SoG Online Data from its Library (previously known as MySoG) as well as find links for searches in the Society’s Library Catalogue and various lists of names from the Library’s Document Collections of Research Notes, Roll Pedigrees and Members Birth Briefs.

News from and about the Society of Genealogists and the Genealogical Community can be found in the new Society of Genealogists Blog within the new website so don’t forget to bookmark the News pages on our website or subscribe to the RSS Feeds and of course you can find all our latest news broadcast on Twitter and Facebook as usual. Read the rest of this entry »

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internet-privacy22When it comes to advertisements, there’s a fine line between nuisance and blatant invasion of privacy. When they’re related to something you’re searching you might expect to see ads, but having them follow you around the web is definitely stepping out of line.

Yes, your behavior is monitored. They track your behavior on the Web which websites you visit, what you buy and which links you click.

Thanks to technology that lets companies track and share information about visitors to their websites. An ad you see on one site might appear on another. This is because of the content you searched or the items you purchased and is called “behavioral targeting”.

Behavioral targeting helps advertisers cut their budgets by delivering ads only to people they think are likely to be interested in their message.

What do they do?  A website creates a profile of your behavior and then shares it with other sites you visit that are in its network. They do claim that none of your personal information, including your name, age, gender or location, is released. An anonymous profile is created simply based on your actions online—Really? In addition to more complex issues, it may limit the choices you have and even possibly the prices you are offered.

There are some things you can do. Read the rest of this entry »

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The latest press release form the United States National Archives and Records Administration regarding the FY 2014 budget is as follows:

Washington, DC April 10,2012, President Barack Obama sent to Congress his Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for the Federal Government, which includes $385.8 million for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The requested amount for NARA is a slight decrease from the FY 2012 funding level of $391.5 million. NARA’s FY 2013 budget is approximately $371 million, including sequestration cuts.

“Our budget is a responsible plan that supports critical agency priorities while continuing to reduce our overall spending levels. NARA’s budget request reflects difficult decisions that are necessary to maintain our vital mission and continue services to the public in an austere budget environment.” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero.

In FY 2014, NARA is requesting $370.7 million for the Operating Expenses appropriation. This is a net decrease of about $2.6 million from the FY 2012 funded level. Within the lower funding level, NARA’s budget realigns some efficiency savings in facility operations and information technology to focus on increasing public access to historical electronic records and modernizing Government records management practices.

NARA’s request also includes $4.13 million for the Office of Inspector General, a slight increase over FY 2012, and $8 million for Repairs and Restorations to NARA-owned buildings, a 12percent reduction from FY 2012 funding. Our request for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grants program is $3 million, which is a 40 percent reduction from FY 2012 funded levels.

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Sandy on April 10th, 2013

henry-bergh-aspcaA little soul in the form of a cat took up residence in our back yard about a month ago. After a several weeks of giving her some tasty morsels, we discovered that she had been declawed, her vocal chords cut and left outside to fend for herself. Definitely abandoned and not feral. Sadly, in this country where people are supposed to care for their animals, there are some folks who are not so great.

Yesterday, she suffered the indignity of a visit to the vet to make sure she was okay to bring into the house to live with our cat Sam. We’ve called her Annie to mark the 36th year of the Broadway musical Annie, which opened at the Alvin Theatre in 1977.

I’m being a trifle non sequitur at this point—maybe not. It’s probably the reason I’m about to write about the history of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and not the passing of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher…

One hundred and forty-seven years ago today, April 10, 1866, the ASPCA was founded in New York City by philanthropist and diplomat Henry Bergh.

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

suspended-coffeeAlthough it may sound like the latest publicity trend, suspended coffee is definitely a heartwarming idea  first born in the cafes of Naples, Italy.

The idea is for customers to be able to put down coffee money for a homeless person. A customer-in-need can then later ask if there is a “suspended coffee” available and have a hot drink without having to pay for it.

Suspended coffee has gone viral in a big way, but some say it seems unlikely that the tradition will gain traction in trendy coffee houses here in the United States. If the word is spread, our local cafes may take up the act of kindness and start “suspending” coffees.

Starbucks has a list of reasons why this is not a good idea—of course!  Not so great for the poor souls who really need a cup of hot coffee and have no money to buy one. Click on Starbucks Melody to see the reasons. You might agree.

Click on Facebook to take learn more about it. Snopes says it’s real. What better to make you feel good as you start your day.

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new_york_public_libraryThe contents of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums will be launched online on April 18 and 19, 2013, by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to all Americans—free of charge. It will eventually become available to the rest of the world.

The news release from DPLA is as follows:

New York, NY / Cambridge, MA — The New York Public Library (NYPL) is partnering with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to provide additional online access to thousands of historic materials archived at the Library’s iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. As part of this cooperative partnership, NYPL will contribute images and data from two of its significant collections chronicling American history: The Thomas Addis Emmet Collection documenting the founding and early years of the United States and The Lawrence H. Slaughter collection of English maps, charts, atlases, globes and books relating to Colonial North America.

“As one of the leading providers of free educational resources to all, The New York Public Library is honored to participate in a project that will engage users across the country, and make our collections even more accessible to the masses,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “The Digital Public Library of America will open up a new world of information to students of all ages and interests, and allow NYPL to share its deep background of materials in American history and culture.” Read the rest of this entry »

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As part of an effort to create a library collection of George Washington’s favorite reading materials, two books belonging to Washington long held at the National Library of Scotland will soon be returned to Mt Vernon.

Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland, will soon arrive in the United states to return them.

The two volumes date from 1795 titled, “Official Letters to the Honorable American Congress, Written, During the War between the United Colonies and Great Britain, by His Excellency, George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Forces.”

The books were donated 75 years ago to the National library of Scotland by the family of Hugh Sharp, a Dundee book collector and jute manufacturer.

Mr. Salmon will return them to Mount Vernon at a formal ceremony which includes bagpipe music. The books will be housed in the dapper “Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon”, which is expected to open in September.

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jesse_jacksonOn April 4, 1968, shortly after 6 p.m. Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot on the second story balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dr. King was in town to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. The 39 year old civil rights leader was pronounced dead on his arrival at a Memphis hospital.

During the month before his assassination, Martin Luther King had become increasingly concerned with the problem of economic inequality in America and organized a Poor People’s Campaign to focus on the issue. This included an interracial poor people’s march on Washington. In March 1968 Dr. King traveled to Memphis to support Memphis to support poorly treated African-American sanitation workers. A workers’ protest march led by King ended in violence and in the death of an African American teenager.

On April 3 in Memphis, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last sermon saying, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised-land.”

One day after speaking those words, Dr. King was shot and killed by a sniper. He was shot by James Earl Ray, who was described as a two-bit criminal.

Scotland Yard investigators arrested Ray at London airport while he was attempting to fly to Belgium and ultimately to Rhodesia, (now called Zimbabwe) which was then ruled by an oppressive and internationally condemned white minority government.

Ray was extradited to the United States where he plead guilty to King’s murder to avoid the electric chair. He was sentenced was 99 years in prison.

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The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has published the following announcement:

PRONI is pleased to announce the release of a new local and family history digital resource. In conjunction with FamilySearch, PRONI has digitised the Valuation Revision Books, 1864-1933. These are now available on the PRONI website.

The application provides a fully searchable placename index to the Valuation Revision Books (VAL/12/B) covering counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. In total, c.3,900 volumes were digitally captured, with over 440,000 images now available to view online.

The digital application is searchable by Placename (City, County, Parish, Townland) or PRONI Reference. The cities of Londonderry and Belfast have been indexed to Street and Ward level. Streets can be found by using the free text search.

Of the c.3,900 original volumes, 44 have not yet been scanned. These remaining volumes will be added to the database at a future date.

The database can be viewed by clicking on the following link: http://www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/val12b.htm

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Sandy on March 31st, 2013

happyeaster

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 www.origins.net.

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: news@okgensoc.org.

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 http://georgiaarchivesmatters.org/. 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 http://www.fgsconference.org 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, findmypast.com, Ancestry.com, Archives.com, 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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