Sandy on August 19th, 2013

Two hundred, searchable volumes covering  350 years of history have now been made available online at 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 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 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

PROVO, Utah, Aug. 6, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — 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 “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 continues to build its business for the long term,” said Bruce Chizen, Chairman of the Operating Committee of “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 » 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

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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 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

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

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

PROVO, Utah, July 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Inc. (the “Company”), a wholly owned subsidiary of 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. 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 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, 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 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 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 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 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
  • 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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Sandy on July 8th, 2013


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Sandy on July 5th, 2013

Summer is here and it’s time for monster lovers to be scared “witless”  by their favorite supernatural beasts.

Many years ago in Creative Writing 101, our professor instructed the class to draw on the classics for our own inspiration. This has been accomplished over and over again by writers and movie makers with great success.  Take a look at some of the monsters that have been a constant source of colorful creativity:


Are probably the oldest monsters of folklore. There are many descriptions on dragons and giant serpents. Many of the most developed dragons hail from the Chinese cultures and for hundreds of years, rural Chinese made tea from dinosaur bones actually believing they were from dragons.

In the Bible’s Book of Isaiah a monstrous sea serpent dragon called Leviathan.  there are many variations on dragons and giant serpents. The Bible’s Old Testament describes Leviathan, a monstrous sea serpent dragon. Some of the most developed dragons come from Chinese culture. For centuries some rural Chinese dug up (and made tea from) dinosaur bones, believing they were from dragons.

The West is rich in dragon folklore. Legends tell the story of St George, the patron saint of England, who slew a fearsome dragon. While dragons are ancient, they are more popular now than at any other time in history, appearing in role-playing games such as “Dungeons and Dragons” and popular films such as “Lord of the Rings.” I love the little dragon in HBO’s“Game of Thrones”.


I’ve heard that Canada has more lake monsters than any other country, boasting no fewer than a dozen. The one I’ll mention here reputedly lives in British Columbia’s Lake Okanagan and is one of the world’s top 10 monsters. The monster is called Ogopogo (an old music hall song) is unique because Indians in the region used to make live sacrifices to a water spirit in the lake to protect them as they crossed in boats near the home of Ogopogo, Monster Island.

As with Scotland’s Loch Ness, many eyewitnesses continue to report odd things in the lake. John Kirk, expert on Ogopogo and president of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, there is apparently better evidence for the existence of a monster a mysterious monster in Canada’s Lake Okanagan than at Loch Ness (Hmm, some might not agree). Read the rest of this entry »

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More from

The jurisdiction of the Consistory Court extended over the whole of the Archdeaconry of Chichester, comprising the Deaneries of Arundel, Boxgrove, Midhurst, and Storrington, and thus covered the western part of the County of Sussex.

The index to over 22,100 wills recorded in the Consistory Court of Chichester 1482-1800 is now available to search on the National Wills Index. This index – originally published in 1915 as British Record Society Volume 49 – includes names of testator / testatrix, place, often occupation and document reference, which will help you locate the original document at West Sussex Record Office.

This supplements Chichester Consistory Administrations 1555-1800 which already forms part of the National Wills Index.

The National Wills Index is the largest online resource for pre-1858 English probate material, containing indexes, abstracts and source documents, most not available anywhere else online. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on July 4th, 2013

Sandy on July 1st, 2013

Happy Canada Day! For my Canadian relatives and everyone else.


TLC is airing a brand new season of “Who Do You Think You Are?” with eight episodes featuring celebrities on a journey through their own history. There’s an interesting lineup of celebrities:

  • Christina Applegate
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Cindy Crawford
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • Chelsea Handler
  • Chris O’Donnell
  • Jim Parsons
  • Trisha Yearwood

The premier airs on July 23 and runs for eight one hour episodes.

To learn more about it and view the promo video, click on ZAP2it.

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Family Search continues to impress with their rapidly growing free records collection. The most recent update is listed below: 

FamilySearch has recently added more than 1.1 million images from Austria, England, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 96,841 images from the new U.S., New Hampshire, Cheshire County, Probate Estate Files, 1886-1900, collection, the 60,505 index records and images from the England, Cheshire Non-conformist Records, 1671-1900, collection, and the 21,650 index records and images from the new U.S., Wisconsin, State Census, 1865, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

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

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Where to Buy Native American JewelryNative American jewelry is rich in history and creativity and the newly launched website discussed below by PRWEB in their news release is worth exploring:

(PRWEB) June 25, 2013. A new website offers an in-depth look at authentic Native American jewelry. Collectors and lovers of Native American artisan jewelry can now visit in order to get the latest news and resources on shopping for pieces, as well as general articles and information regarding jewelry appreciation.

Authentic Native American jewelry is hot right now,” says website spokesperson Mary Flynn. “Every day, the website is inundated with requests from jewelry collectors and admirers who are interested in learning the history and traditions behind various pieces of artisan jewelry. The world of authentic Native American jewelry is rich with incredible history and creativity which makes collectors swoon.”

People are drawn to Native American jewelry for many reasons. Some people are fascinated by ancient pieces which have been discovered over the years, while others are interested in the pieces being put out by the current Native American artisans who are putting a modern twist on ancient familial and cultural traditions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chief Crazy Horse

On June 25, 1876 Native American forces led by Sioux Chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeated the U.S. Army led by George Armstrong Custer in a bloody battle close at Little Bighorn River in southern Montana. Those brave leaders of the Great Plains Sioux tribe strongly resisted the mid-19th-century efforts of the U.S. government to confine their people to reservations.

In 1875, after gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. This betrayal motivated many Sioux and Cheyenne tribesmen to leave their reservations to join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana.

By the late spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Native Americans had gathered in a camp along the Little Bighorn River in defiance of a U.S. War Department order to return to their reservations or risk being attacked.

By mid-June, three columns of U.S. soldiers lined up against the camp and made preparations to march. Twelve hundred Native Americans turned back the first column on June 17. Five days later Custer’s 7th Cavalry was sent to scout ahead for enemy troops and on the morning of June 25, Custer approached the camp and made the decision to go forward rather than wait for reinforcements.

By mid-day on June 25, Custer’s 600 men entered the Little Bighorn Valley. Sitting Bull rallied the warriors and saw to the safety of the women and children, Read the rest of this entry »

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Mary Queen of Scots signature on an invitation to the baptism of her son James (the future King James VI) in 1566

The latest newsletter from ScotlandsPeople discusses further information to be found in the 1895 Valuation Rolls. It also features the top 5 Tee-Names and information about the Mary Queen of Scots exhibition of NRS documents at the National Museum of Scotland.

Tee-names (nothing to do with a golf) are community nicknames for people in north-east Scotland and sometimes Fife, Argyll and Gairloch. If you have difficulty in locating an ancestor you might want to consider a tee-name. It’s a quirky (not uncommon in Scotland) feature of the 1895 Valuation Rolls. If your ancestor had a tee-name, you might learn something about a character trait or physical characteristic.

The newsletter is below:

In the launch newsletter for the 1895 Valuation Rolls, we featured several examples from the Rolls – i.e. Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and some famous Scots. As these proved to be popular, we thought we’d highlight some more examples from the 1895 Rolls.

This first example makes us think of the scene from the Alfred Hitchcock film, ‘Rear Window’, where it’s possible to see everybody who lives in a block of flats going about their business. The tenement address for this VR entry is 21 Carnegie Street in Edinburgh, and it’s fascinating to see all the different people who lived in this tenement block in 1895, and their occupations, some of which no longer exist or have a different name. We hasten to add that we do not believe there was a murder there in 1895. Read the rest of this entry »

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England’s has a remarkable National Wills Index database that you can search FREE of charge. The following newletter discusses their extensive collection along with an explanation of the value of wills to the family history researcher:

Between 1541 and 1836 the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry was extensive, covering the entire counties of Staffordshire and Derbyshire, north Shropshire and north Warwickshire. The bishop of Lichfield and Coventry had jurisdiction over probate in this area, which was exercised through the Lichfield Consistory Court.

The index to over 28,300 wills and testamentary documents recorded in the Lichfield Consistory Court 1650-1700 is now available to search on the National Wills Index. This index – British Record Society Volume 125 – includes names of testator / testatrix,occupation and place of abode, which will help you to locate the original document at Lichfield Record Office.

The National Wills Index is the largest online resource for pre-1858 English probate material, containing indexes, abstracts and source documents, most not available anywhere else online.

Search the National Wills Index Free of charge

The value of wills to the family history researcher Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on June 20th, 2013

Sir John Sherbrooke

The largest known collection of War of 1812 documents consisting of letters, maps and other papers has been purchase at auction in London, England, by the Library and Archives of Canada for $573,000.

The acquisition once belonged to Sir John Sherbrooke, the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, who conquered Maine for the British during the War of 1812.

The collection raised almost twice as much as was expected and includes  hand-drawn maps from the early 1800s illustrating major Candadian cities, such as, Halifax, Toronto and Montreal in their infancies.

Also in the collection is a letter written by Sherbrooke to Major General Robert Ross congratulating his trips of Canadian and British soldiers for their success in successfully burning down the White House in August 1814.

John Sherbrooke went on to become governor general of British North America. Sehrbrooke, Quebec is named after him.

When he left Canada, Sherbrooke took his maps and papers back to Britain, where they had been sitting in three wooden boxes in family attics for nearly 200 years.

This is a national treasure for the Canadian people since the archives chart Canadian history at a key point and the birth of Canada as a nation.

If you’d like to learn more and view some videos of the event, click on CBC News.

Tags: , , , , has recently added some fascinating Lincolnshire records:

Leading family history website has today made available online records showing the life and times of some of the most famous figures in the largest county in east England, Lincolnshire.

The handwritten registers from Lincolnshire Archives date back to 1538 and span more than 300 years; they provide insight into baptisms, marriages and burials from 103 parishes across Lincolnshire, from Laughton to Gedney Hill.

Some of the incredible details include information on the baptisms of scientist Isaac Newton and poet Lord Tennyson, famous for the Lincoln inspired Victorian ballad, “The Lady of Shallot”. The records also include information on the burial of famous hangman William Marwood, renowned for inventing the “long drop” technique that ensured the prisoner’s neck was broken instantly at the end of the drop, considered to be a kinder way to be executed.

Debra Chatfield, a family historian at, said: “The Lincolnshire parish records include fascinating information about some of our most noteworthy and infamous figures, not just from Lincolnshire’s history, but the whole of British history.

“Publishing them online so that Read the rest of this entry »

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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.


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 and search the latest records listed below: Read the rest of this entry »

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The following announcement comes from

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 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

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

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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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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 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, 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 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 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 – The Generations Network.  Currently the project is freely hosted by, 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.


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 »


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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