FamilySearch has added more than 1.2 million indexed records and images from Brazil, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 442,32 images from the Italy, Bologna, Bologna, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866–1942, collection, the 241,897 images from the India, Hindu Pilgrimage Records, 1194–2013, collection, and the 244,840 images from the Mexico, Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Miscellaneous Marriage Records, 1605–1910, 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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napoleonAccording to AP a copy of Napoleon’s will soon be up for auction on tomorrow in Paris’ Drouot Auction house, giving unusual insight into Napoleon’s final days.

The original letter penned in Napoleon’s own illegible hand on April 16, 1821, is in France’s national archives and unavailable for purchase. The copy written by a close advisor is expected to fetch about $162,000 (120,000 euros).

The frail Napoleon new his time was almost up when he penned his will and asked that his ashes be scattered along the river Seine among the French people he loved. When he started to write his will he said to a friend, “My son, it’s time I go, I feel it.”

Napoleon expert Pierre Gheno said, “This document is very special in the great mass of documents produced in Napoleon’s era Napoleon always writes in a factual way. But here we see emotion, saying that he wants his ashes to be scattered on the banks of the Seine (river) among the beloved French. He knew he was dying.

As it turned out, Napoleon’s ashes weren’t scattered along the river, but were transferred to Paris’ Invalides monument some two decades after his death in 1840. Historians say that the new king ignored the will’s wishes and delayed bringing Napoleon’s remains back to Paris out of fear his legacy was too linked with the French Revolution.

The will also calls for his remaining possessions to be distributed among his close friends in exile on the island of Saint Helena and shows how little Napoleon had during his punitive six years of captivity at the hands of the British following his defeat at Waterloo in 1815.

The once-feared man, who conquered half of Europe, had nothing more than a few jewels, sculptures, porcelain crockery and the odd painting at the time of his death.

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The following press release from the National Archives and Records Administration regarding a new exhibition opening Friday, November 8 on the Iraqi Jewish artifacts—See below:

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.

Click on the link to read Washington Post reporter Michael Ruane’s  rave review of the project. Also click on the video below to see a preview:

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Sandy on October 31st, 2013

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

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

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

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Sandy on October 30th, 2013

halloween-myheritageAs I’ve often mentioned on, gravestones and obituaries are useful tools to add meaningful and hard to find information to your family tree.

Obituaries are among the few places that usually include a woman’s maiden as well as her married name together. This makes it easier to track down female ancestors. They also often include information on the persons appearance, their talents, all part of how they will be remembered.

As Halloween approaches MyHeritage is bringing you new tricks and treats to help you find out more about your ancestors in the form of 5.5 million gravestone records and obituaries newly added to SuperSearch.

Click on blog to learn more about it.

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The National Archives is hosting the 9th annual forum on communications with former White House photographers on October 30th at 7 p.m. The event will be webcast live on the National ARchives UStream channel. The link is available on the following press release from NARA:

Washington, DC…On Wednesday, October 30, at 7 p.m., the National Archives hosts the Ninth Annual McGowan Forum on Communications. This year’s special program focuses on “Communicating the Presidency: Presidential Photographers.” The event will be webcast live on the National Archives UStream channel.

This public program is free, and no advance registration is required. It will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.

This program is presented in partnership with the White House Historical Association and the White House Correspondents’ Association and is made possible through the generous support of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, Inc. and the Foundation for the National Archives.

Communicating the Presidency: Presidential Photographers

What is it like to photograph the most powerful person in the world? Read the rest of this entry »

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A new website is in the launch stage to request volunteers to record all the Welsh place-names. I tried the site today and it doesn’t appear to be ready yet. Keep trying.

Alan Stewart says:

October 22nd 2013 saw the launch of a new website which hopes to harness the power of volunteers to record all the place-names of Wales as they appeared on Ordnance Survey maps at the end of the Victorian period. is a ground-breaking collaborative project, developed jointly by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, The National Library of Wales, University of Wales and the People’s Collection Wales.

Visitors to the website are being asked to study historic mapping of Wales, published by the Ordnance Survey between 1899 and 1908, and to record the location of all text shown on the maps: the names of towns, villages, woods, farms, rivers, springs, mansions – everything! There is even a competitive element to this mildly addictive process; the more place-names recorded by a volunteer, the higher his or her position in the Contributors’ Chart. Read the rest of this entry »

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billion-year-data-storageIf you’ve been worried about how to preserve your digital records, you may soon be able to purchase a new optical disk that could store data for up to a billion years. To some this may seem hubristic, to others definitely not.

According to the latest gizmag report, a researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands has developed a new optical memory device made out of tungsten and silicon nitride that could store data for extremely long periods of time—up to a billion years.

Hopefully planet earth will not be hit by a huge asteroid or a future weapon of war that will permanently shut down the power grid between now and a billion years hence. ABC might also decide to shut down Castle, which would definitely cause a cataclysmic event.

Many of us have already discovered through experience that hard drives are very susceptible to external magnetic fields and mechanical failures with a lifespan not much longer than 10 years—too often less. Similarly, CDs, DVDs and flash drives, most definitely have their own Achilles’ heel.

Jeroen de Vries, a researcher at the University of Twente decided to solve this problem by designing his own data storing device. The materials he chose were tungsten, which can withstand very high temperatures, encased in silicon nitride, which is highly resistant to fracture and warps very little when exposed to high levels of heat.

Information is stored inside the device by etching QR codes in tungsten—these are easily decoded by today’s smartphones. It’s a very durable method because the information is still even “when up to seven percent of the date has been compromised. Each pixel of the code has also within it a second set of much smaller QR codes, with pixels of only a few microns in size.”

The researcher tested the device by heating it to a temperature of 400˚F (200˚C) for one hour and saw no visible degradation, which according to the model simulates one million years of usage and only showed some signs of deterioration when it was heated to around 820˚F (440˚C). Even after the additional heat, the tungsten was not harmed and the data was still readable.

The experiment was limited to exposure to high temperatures and, according to the researcher, may not be entirely accurate. De Vries does say that if a very stable place can be found to store the device, such as a nuclear storage facility, then the disc and the data it contains still has all the requisites to last for extremely long periods of time, on the order of millions of years.

Online backup will likely be around for a while. At the same time it’s a good reminder not to rely to heavily on flash drives, etc.

Sandy on October 25th, 2013

New online records of Scottish Property Valuation Rolls for 1920 are scheduled to be released on Monday October 28, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. The news release from ScotlandsPeople is as follows: 

‘Homes fit for heroes’? New historical records offer a fascinating snapshot of Scottish society in the wake of the First World War

The names and addresses of more than 2.6 million people living in Scotland during the post-WW1 period will be published online at 10am on Monday 28 October, as records of Scottish properties in 1920 are released on, the government’s family history website.

Comprising over 76,000 digital images taken from 169 volumes, these new records – known as Valuation Rolls – cover every type of property in Scotland that was assessed as having a rateable value in 1920. As the records contain details for the owners and occupiers of properties, they will offer genealogists and historians fresh insight into Scottish society in 1920.

Each Valuation Roll entry on the website is fully searchable by name and address, with the records listing the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property – in many cases occupations are also included. As the Rolls include all types of property, from castles and mansions to crofts and tenements, in turn, the records also include people from across the whole social spectrum.

The Rolls also reveal some fascinating trends in Scotland’s social history at this time, such as the building of the first council housing estate, and the growth of urban allotments and gardens cultivated by working-class gardeners to achieve self-sufficiency. The Rolls also reveal the widespread disposal of land by owners who faced new tax and other burdens from 1918 onwards, and the opportunities for tenant farmers to buy their own farms.

Researchers at the National Records of Scotland have also been spotting celebrities (and family ancestors of famous people) Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on October 23rd, 2013

Crista Cowan (The Barefoot Genealogist) offers a simple plan on the blog about how to get more from your AncestryDNA test.

If you find a lot of cousin matches and are not sure how to make the connection, Christa has offered a very commonsense approach. There are six points with explanations along with a Common Ancestors chart pictured below that you can print out to help you remember the hierarchy.

See below:

  • Remember how cousins are connected to you
  • Do you have dates attached to each of your ancestors? If not, how you can estimate the birth years .
  • Go back through your family tree and make sure you use the drop-down list to enter birth locations for each of your ancestors.
  • Some people don’t know how to attach their DNA results to their online tree so it looks like they have “No Family Tree.”
  • If someone has a private tree, especially if they are a close match (4th cousins or closer), send them a message and ask for permission to view their tree for a couple of days so you can work with them to discover your connection.
  • Be patient! More than 200,000 people have taken the AncestryDNA test and more people are taking the test every day.

Click on the link to access the blog.


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Scara-BraeAccording to an official report, rising sea levels are threatening the existence of Orkney’s island’s famous Stone Age village of Skara Brae.

A draft management plan for the protection of the Stone Age site chronicles coastal erosion as “a threat to the long-term survival” of the subterranean village.

The report, compiled by Unesco, Historic Scotland, RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and Orkney Islands Council, said the site is at “significant risk from a variety of climate-related factors”, such as, “increases in storminess and sea level rise and consequent increases in coast erosion; torrential rain and flooding; changes to wetting and drying cycles; and changes to flora and fauna.”

Skara Brae settlement is estimated to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old and is the main attraction of Heart of Neolithic Orkney and was made a World Heritage site by Unesco in December 1999.

In addition to the village, the historical site includes Maeshowe, the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness and other nearby sites. Unesco said, the monuments “proclaim the triumphs of the human spirit in early ages and isolated places” and “stand as a visible symbol of the achievements of early peoples away from the traditional centers of civilization”. This is certainly true because the weather can be wild in the north of Scotland and the islands during the winter months.

For the past 100 years, a specially erected sea wall has been the main barrier against serious storm damage and erosion to the village.  Unfortunately, has been undermined by waves over the years and is in need of major repairs, and archaeologists now fear that rising sea levels may prove too much for it.

Skara Brae was discovered in the 19th century because of a cycle of severe weather. In the winter of 1850 a storm-battered Orkney and a combination of gale-force winds and extremely high tides stripped the grass from a large mound, then known as “Skerrabra” and revealed the outline of a number of stone buildings.

“According to the latest figures, 46 per cent of people who visit Orkney each year go to Skara Brae. The number of cruise ships stopping there is increasing each year, making the site integral to the island economy.”

Since it has lasted for thousands of years, I hope we can assume that something will be done to prevent the loss of the amazing Stone Age village.

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I hope you follow the link to the Spitalfields Life website. The website displays a collection of pictures taken of Old London, England, taken by the Society of Photographing of the Relecs of Old London held in the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute.

As the gentle author on the Spitalfields Life website stated, “It gives me great pleasure to look closely and see the loaves of bread in the window and read the playbills on the wall in this photograph of a shop in Macclesfield St in 1883. The slow exposures of these photographs included fine detail of inanimate objects, just as they also tended to exclude people who were at work and on the move but, in spite of this, the more I examine these pictures the more inhabited they become.”

The photographs are amazing. Take an authentic look back in time.

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Sandy on October 20th, 2013

Deceased Online says:

“On Wednesday 9th October we changed some aspects of the way the Deceased Online (DOL) website works. For most users the differences in day-to-day use of the website will be minimal, as the changes are limited to the way documents are priced and how you pay for them. Effective prices will not change.

Summary of changes to pricing

  • Instead of 10 pence Credits, you now purchase Vouchers for varying Pounds Sterling amounts. These are similar to store vouchers and book tokens and except you don’t have to spend the whole value in one go.
  • The cost to view records is now shown in Pounds Sterling, not credits.
  • If you buy higher value vouchers, extra bonus amounts will be added to your account, which will be used towards the cost of viewing documents.
  • The tax point has been moved to the time of purchase of viewings, with a receipt available on demand for each viewing, via your viewing history.
  • Any existing credits in your account have been converted to vouchers at the full face value of 10p each, even if you paid less for them originally due to volume discount .

These changes are explained in more detail here.

We trust you will find the transition straightforward, but don’t hesitate to use the new website help pages and FAQs if you have any questions.

Other changes Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on October 18th, 2013

Save 20% on A&E Orders!

On October 18, 1867, the U.S. took possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia for $7.2 million. This works out to less than two cents per acre.

The Alaska purchase comprised 586,412 square miles and in case you didn’t know it’s  about twice the size of Texas. The deal was led by William Henry Seward, secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson.

Russia wanted to sell its difficult to defend Alaska territory, which was remote and sparsely populated, to the U.S. rather than risk losing it in battle with a rival such as Great Britain.

Negotiations between Seward (1801-1872) and the Russian minister to the U.S., Eduard de Stoeckl, began in March 1867. The American public, however, believed the land to be barren and worthless and dubbed the purchase “Seward’s Folly” and “Andrew Johnson’s Polar Bear Garden,” and many other derogatory names.

Some animosity toward the project may have been a byproduct of President Johnson’s own unpopularity. As the 17th U.S. president, Johnson battled with Radical Republicans in Congress over Reconstruction policies following the Civil War.

Andrew Johnson qas impeached in 1868 and later acquitted by a single vote. In spite of this, Congress eventually ratified the Alaska deal. Public opinion of the purchase became more favorable when gold was discovered in a tributary of Alaska’s Klondike River in 1896, sparking a gold rush.

Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, and is now recognized for its vast natural resources. Read the rest of this entry »


Sandy on October 16th, 2013

Followers of this blog certainly know is not a political platform. That said, like most of the citizens of great Republic I’m concerned about what’s been happening these past few weeks regarding the Debt Ceiling and the Affordable Care Act (affordable to whom?–throw ’em all out) and decided to draw attention to yet another ongoing situation.

The folks at Fight for the Future and Demand Progress released a great five minute video about how the NSA spies on the public, narrated by actress Evangeline Lilly (the video also relies heavily on fair use to make its point).

The video debuted in New York City last night and was broadcast from Washington Square Park in Manhattan. If you haven’t been closely following the news, it’s consice an easy to understand summary of what’s going on regarding our 4th Amendment rights. Check it out

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One of my go-to sites the has published the following up-to-date newsflash from Business Wire regarding a landmark alliance between MyHeritage and FamilySearch that includes the exchange of technological innovation and historical records to benefit users:

“TEL AVIV, Israel & SALT LAKE CITY, Utah–(BUSINESS WIRE)– MyHeritage, the popular online family history network, and announced today the signing and commencement of a strategic partnership that forges a new path for the family history industry. Under this multi-year partnership, MyHeritage will provide FamilySearch with access to its powerful technologies and FamilySearch will share billions of global historical records and family tree profiles spanning hundreds of years with MyHeritage. This will help millions of MyHeritage and FamilySearch users discover even more about their family history.

FamilySearch will provide MyHeritage with more than 2 billion records from its global historic record collections and its online Family Tree. These records will be added to SuperSearch, MyHeritage’s search engine for historical records, and will be matched with family trees on MyHeritage using its matching technologies. MyHeritage users will gain access to an unprecedented boost of historical records and family tree profiles, which are key to researching and reconstructing their family histories. This reinforces MyHeritage’s position as an international market leader, with gigantic assets of family trees and records, which are the most globally diverse in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on October 14th, 2013

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

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

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

Canada probably did it first

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

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

There’s no Black Friday in Canada

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

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


Sandy on October 11th, 2013

I can’t say this has happened to me, but if you’ve ever been appalled to see yourself or your friends in a Facebook ad, then you’re going to be more upset over Google’s new Terms of Service (TOS).

Google updated its TOS today to allow an adult user’s profile name and photo to appear in reviews and advertising starting today November 11.

This means that your friends, family and many others will see your Profile name and photograph—also the reviews you share. The company did say, “This only happens when you take an action (things like +1’ing, commenting or following) –- and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with.

Their current intention can be likened to Facebook’s Sponsored Stories who argue that these ads are more effective because it includes friends, acquaintances and family members in the promotion and captures the reader’s attention the way traditional ads don’t.

These endorsements will now be culled from Google+ and Google Play. If you follow a brand on Google +, the company might use your information as an ad for that brand. If you give an app a good review on Google Play it could also be used.

Google is targeting adults over 18 and is currently giving the users ability to opt out. You may not be aware that Facebook friends’ endorsements also show up in Bing searches. Bing highlights those friends as people who “know something about” what you’re searching for.

Click on the link to read Google’s Terms of Service Update.

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468x60 USA Today First 2 Months for $25

We all make mistakes, even the Vatican. The following article appeared in USA Today:

What would “Lesus” do? He would probably spell-check his work.

The Vatican has reportedly withdrawn from sale around 6,000 medals of a new papal medal inscribed in error with the word “Lesus” instead of “Jesus.”

Four of the medals, which went on sale Tuesday, had already been sold. It has been suggested that because of the error these could become valuable.

The medals were made by the Italian State Mint and should have carried the inscription: “Vidit ergo Jesus publicanum, et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi, ‘Sequere me.'”

This roughly translates as, “Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, ‘follow me.'”

Instead, someone named “Lesus” saw the tax collector.

The correct phrase in Latin is one that inspired Pope Francis to become a priest.

Social media users cracked jokes about this new religious figure, “Lesus” Christ. “I blame the Lesuits,” said one tweet.

The Catholic News Service posted the following picture on Twitter and to be honest non-Latin scholars could possible think the error was a Latin character “L” for “J” :


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a-rare-jewishprayerbookA prayer book considered to be the Jewish equivalent of an early complete edition of the Christian Book of Common Prayer has recently been discovered.

This rare Hebrew text dates back to the 9th century and predates the world’s oldest Torah scroll.  The book as 50 pages and is 4.3 inches long and 4 inches wide and an archaic form of Hebrew text is written on the aged parchment pages.

The prayer book is reported to fill the gap between the Dead Sea Scrolls and other discoveries of Jewish texts from the ninth and tenth centuries.

The pages are filled with 100 Jewish blessings, prayers, hymns and poems for various occasions  and discusses topics such as the apocalyptic tale o the End Times and the Passover Seder. Essentially what the Jewish community is in touch with on a daily basis.

The important find is historical evidence supporting the backbone of Jewish religious life.

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The free genealogy electronic magazine Irish Lives Remembered is a great and well-presented resource. The October issue is the 17th edition and available for download for family researchers and genealogists across the globe. There are interactive links throughout the magazine and it can also be downloaded to PDF format.

Click on Irish Lives Remembered to visit the website to read or download the magazines. You will also find copies of previous issues.  This month’s issue features The Irish in Maine USA and Tracing the Irish in New South Wales (Australia)

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Sandy on October 7th, 2013

Another amazing free resource for researchers looking for ancestors in Devon, England:

This index has been created as a combined project by and the Devon Wills Project (DWP). DWP is a collaborative project involving the Devon Family History Society, the Devon Record Office, GENUKI/Devon, and the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office to compile a consolidated index of pre-1858 Devon wills, administrations, inventories, etc.

The majority of wills and administrations of Devon people were proved or granted in either in Devon itself or in London. The originals of those wills proved in London (very nearly all at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, “PCC”) have survived. However many probate records for the county of Devon and Diocese of Exeter including the Exeter Principal Registry were destroyed by enemy action in 1942, when the Probate Registry was destroyed in the bombing during the Exeter Blitz of WWII. Thus the overall aim of this index is to create a finding-aid to enable the researcher to determine what probate materials were originally recorded and most importantly what documents have survived (original document, copy or abstract) and where they can be located.

Sources currently online
The current index includes over 132,540 records of probate documents compiled form the following sources:

  • Index of the Wills and Administrations relating to the County of Devon proved in the Court of the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple, 1563-1858
  • Calendar of Wills and Administrations relating to the counties of Devon and Cornwall, proved in the court of the Principal Registry of the Bishop of Exeter, 1559-1799, and of Devon only, proved in the Court of the Archdeaconry of Exeter, 1540-1799. British Record Society Vol 35 (1908)
  • Calendar of Wills and Administrations relating to the counties of Devon and Cornwall, proved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Exeter, 1532-1800. British Record Society Vol 46 (1914)

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The first 140-character message from Twitter was sent in March 2006 and, since then, the company has become a game-changing communications tool, making news from public figures and ordinary citizens.

Twitter appears to be having a difficult time going public. I do understand that Twitter is a fire hose and beyond the CNNs, Kardashians, and other personalities Twitter does have accounts of questionable legitimacy. According to research some Tweeters are robotic spammers and some are smartly programmed accounts blasting tweets designed to find their way to search results or discussion threads.

Let’s face it there are formidable cyber bullies out there who operate under the guise of “fans” or “friends” to celebrities and other regular folks, whose main purpose in life is to cause hurt and humiliation.  This grey market is bad news for Twitter like buying and selling Twitter accounts that have a following—fake accounts.

Some of the advertisers stated that Twitter plans for a public offering that 218 million followers isn’t a big enough audience. The service will need significantly more users plus a larger sales force to win more spending from their mass market clients.

The senior VP of media at Digitasi (a digital ad firm) reportedly told the Wall Street Journal, “Scale still matters…How consumers embrace Twitter and tap into it or tune it out is going to be critical.” Personally, I think consumers are starting to tune out most advertising these days because it borders on harassment. I actually turned the TV off in the middle of a show yesterday because of a very annoying foreign language commercial.  You might guess which one.

The advertising issue is a problem for Twitter as it moves to raise $1 billion in a public offering. The company raised $317 million in revenue in advertising in 2012 compared to Facebook’s reported $4.3 billion.

Facebook still has more heft but, given the comments I’ve heard about Facebook, this could soon change. Many busy people think easier to make time for Twitter without the time-consuming maintenance of Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Duck Dynasty Halloween Costumes

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

The news release is as follows:

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

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

“Find A Grave is an amazing phenomenon supported by a passionate and engaged community of volunteers around the world,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of “We at are so excited…honored really…to take on the responsibility of supporting this community. We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website, will retain its existing policies and mode of operation, and look forward to working with Jim Tipton and the entire Find A Grave team to accelerate the development of tools designed to make it even easier for the Find A Grave community to fulfill its original mission to capture every tombstone on Earth.” plans to bolster the resources dedicated to Find A Grave to launch a new mobile app, improve customer support, introduce an enhanced edit system for submitting updates to memorials, foreign-language support, and other site improvements.

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

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sandy on September 26th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandy on September 25th, 2013

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

300,000 new Royal Household records added

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among other interesting items, it refers to Laurel and Hardy’s links with Scotland and Oliver Hardy’s Scottish roots. There’s also a link to the news story in BBC News Highlands and Islands, referred to in the newsletter. is a terrific resource and, as  I’ve mentioned before, you can pay as you go and actually download copies of the records at no additional charge. The Scots were amazing record keepers.

The excerpt from the newsletter is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sandy on September 19th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can learn more in the following news release:

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

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

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Sandy on September 17th, 2013

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Sandy on September 15th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sandy on September 13th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Sandy on September 13th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The press release is as follows:

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

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The following is the latest press release from

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

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

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

BillionGraves says:

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

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


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

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

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

Hello, Read the rest of this entry »


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

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

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

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

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

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 Read the rest of this entry »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A press release from Ancestrycom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandy on August 23rd, 2013 has added 125 million new newspaper articles covering 1753-2012 from worldwide sources.  Newspaper articles are handy since they contain stories that ordinary records don’t have. They also help family historians to understand what was going on during the time their ancestor was alive.

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

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

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

Search World Records Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The following information comes from

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

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

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

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

Sandy on August 21st, 2013

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

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

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

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

You can read more in an article in the by John Garvey in the Newbury Weekly News web site at” 

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: