The latest press release from is as follows:

PROVO, UT–(Marketwired – Dec 26, 2013) – As the holiday season comes into full swing, many of us will start to spend our days surrounded by loved ones, sharing stories from holidays past and making memories that will be shared for holidays to come. With many generations under the same roof, it is the ideal time to start a conversation about your family’s unique history – and New Year’s is the perfect time to take all you have learned and begin your family history journey!, the world’s largest online family history resource, makes it easy for people to discover, preserve and share their family’s history through millions of records, historical documents and images. “As families get together during the holidays, it is a great time to start learning more about the generations that came before you,” says Michelle Ercanbrack, Family Historian at “Our hope is that can help people not only discover more about the people in your family tree, but your family’s story, including when and where your ancestors lived, the jobs they had, the size of their families, and the events that helped shape not only them and their families, but the time period in which they lived.”

Making family history your New Year’s resolution is as easy as 1-2-3: Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on December 22nd, 2013

The best of the best Billy Graham:


Sandy on December 18th, 2013

728x90 e-Newspaper USA Today

I’d like to share the following article published in USA Today with a focus on blocking 23andMe from spreading awareness of the benefits of genetic testing. It’s suggested that the FDA is worried that by giving Americans more access to more information regarding their genomes they might get too much medical care. See below:

“The Food and Drug Administration has ordered 23andMe to cease all marketing. This blocks 23andMe from spreading awareness of the benefits of genetic testing just as many Americans might, for the first time, have considered giving away the company’s $99 saliva home-testing kit for Christmas.

OUR VIEW: Ensure that genetic tests are accurate

The FDA worries that giving Americans more information about their own genomes might lead some to get too much medical care — or not enough. The letter claims a false positive for a breast or ovarian cancer risk factor “could lead a patient to undergo prophylactic surgery, chemoprevention, (or) intensive screening … while a false negative could result in a failure to recognize an actual risk that may exist.”

But are Americans really so foolish with their own health? The FDA can’t cite a single example of someone actually being hurt because of 23andMe. Indeed, 23andMe has peer-reviewed research showing that its customers are no more likely to over- or under-estimate their risks.

Worse, the FDA says nothing of 23andMe’s benefits. The company has slashed prices 90% since 2007. At $99, its comprehensive test is cheaper than getting tested for many single risk factors by Old Medicine companies.

Even more important, mass-marketing 23andMe could change the cultural paradigm of medicine: The more people get tested, the more will ask their doctor about their results, and the more doctors will have to start incorporating personalized genomics into their practices.

When I got tested in 2011, I was the first to ask my doctor’s office about genetic results. Exasperated with the transition to electronic medical records, they weren’t eager to deal with yet another change. But the more patients ask, the more doctors are listening. That’s what the Internet has done in countless industries: Force old dogs to learn new tricks. It’s never pretty, but the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

But the FDA doesn’t care about these benefits — only that someone might, theoretically, get hurt. It wants 23andMe to spend years jumping through bureaucratic hoops, which means delaying the inevitable shift in how medicine is practiced.

Government has a role in protecting consumers from inaccurate testing and misleading information. But if medical innovation is to thrive, the FDA should bear the burden of showing that services such as 23andMe do more harm than good. Thus far, it hasn’t.

Berin Szoka is the president of TechFreedom, a Washington-based think tank focused on policy issues raised by disruptive innovation.”

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More news from

FamilySearch has added more than 1.2 million indexed records and images to collections from BillionGraves, Bolivia, Germany, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 512, 388 indexed records and images from the BillionGraves Index, the 230,873 images from the U.S., North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers, 1712–1970, collection, and the 79,078 indexed records from the Germany, Prussia, Pomerania Church Records, 1544–1945, 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 »

Sandy on December 15th, 2013


Countdown to Christmas:

“WestJet airline employees pulled off a wonderfully orchestrated Christmas surprise for a flight full of Toronto passengers that left many in tears, including the guy who stupidly asked for socks and underwear while everyone else got something much cooler.”


Sandy on December 13th, 2013

The latest from British Origins:

Poor Law records are a major source for those interested in both local and family history and touched almost every aspect of the lives of those who had fallen on hard times or whose predicaments drew them to the attention of the parish officers.

The parish officer / overseer of the poor was expected when necessary, to feed, clothe, house and find work for his poor inhabitants. He apprenticed pauper children and diligently pursued the fathers of illegitimate children born in the parish. But ultimately he protected his parish from the claims of paupers who were not his responsibility.

These poor law abstracts (summaries) contain a complete summary of the details contained within each entry and includes all details including names and places plus incidental information such as relationships and occupations where found in the original documents.

Poor Law abstracts include: Apprenticeship indentures, Bastardy examinations, Indemnity bonds, Quarter sessions and appeals, Settlement examinations and removal orders, Vagrant removal orders, Workhouse admission and discharges. See some examples below:

Settlement Examination
6 Jun 1783 Settlement examination of Mary ALDRIDGE (X) wife of John. On 22 Aug 1768 married husband at Shoreditch & lived together 6 years & has 3 children, 2 of which are now in St Giles poorhouse. In Easter week 10 years ago last Easter her husband left her. 8 years ago she received a letter from her husband who was then in Virginia, America and she has not heard from him since. Since her absence she has had 2 children Mary (5) & Hannah (3) & she is now pregnant again & Edward BOWMAN a journeyman shoemaker is the father of the 2 children and the one she is pregnant with.

Vagrant’s Removal Order
1 Apr 1765 Vagrant’s Removal Order of Elizabeth WALMSLEY from Cirencester. Gloucestershire. Examination of Sarah MAY (X) who swears that her maiden name was WALMSLEY & has been wandering with her husband & her sister Elizabeth (10) & subsisted for some time by begging. Her sister was born in St Giles Cripplegate & her father is dead after which the child was maintained for some time by St Giles Workhouse.

Bastardy Examination 
29 May 1821 – Bastardy examination of Sarah wife of Henry BROMWELL delivered that day of male bastard & has charged Thomas BROMWELL who works at 4 Coleman Street as father & that on 7 Nov 1822 was delivered of another bastard child named Thomas and Thomas BROMWELL is also the father of this child.

 Search London Poor Law Abstracts 1581-1899

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Sandy on December 12th, 2013

Today at a press event in New York, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom has announced that the photo-sharing service is introducing private photo-sharing and messaging feature called Instagram Direct.

The feature provides the ability to send images to users, instead of broadcasting your photos publicly. According to new reports the  photo-sharing network’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, stated that Instagram is not about photography, but about communication. “If we were about photography, we’d be built into cameras,” Systrom said at a press conference in New York today. “But, we’re not built into cameras. We’re built into phones.”

Users will be able to send photos or videos directly to up to 15 people at a time. To share the image privately, you can use the one-to-one button at the bottom of the screen. You’ll be able to tell when the person has seen the photo by showing you a checkmark, similar to how Facebook messaging alerts you that someone has seen your message.

Click on Instagram Direct to learn more.


Sandy on December 10th, 2013

Alan Stewart says:

The computerisation of Presbyterian Church baptisms, marriages and deaths for County Armagh has been completed.

Armagh Ancestry has added records of the following churches to the online research database:

  • Ahorey Presbyterian (Baptisms 1832-1843);
  • Armagh 2nd Presbyterian (Baptisms 1825-1864);
  • Armagh 3rd Presbyterian (Baptisms 1837-1864);
  • Clare Presbyterian (Baptisms 1824-1837 + Marriages 1828);
  • Creggan Presbyterian (Baptisms 1835-1871 + Marriages 1837-1844 + Deaths 1860-1926);
  • Eglish Presbyterian (Baptisms 1854-1866 + Deaths 1858-1893);
  • Portadown 1st Presbyterian (Marriages 1838-1859);
  • Lislooney Presbyterian (Baptisms 1835-1865);
  • Loughgall (Cloveneden) Presbyterian (Baptisms 1840-1872);
  • Middletown Presbyterian (Baptisms 1829-1873);
  • Richhill Presbyterian (Baptisms 1854-1869);
  • Tandragee Presbyterian (Baptisms 1835-1865 + Marriages 1835-1845);
  • Ballenon Reformed Presbyterian (Baptisms 1810-1877 + Marriages 1859 + Deaths 1849-1889).

You can search these records at the Armagh Ancestry website or at Roots Ireland, which covers most of the counties of the Republic of Ireland and all of those in Northern Ireland.

Armagh Ancestry intends to computerise the remaining Church records and hopes to add more records in the coming months, including those from the Church of Ireland (Anglican), Methodist, Baptist, and Congregations


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Sandy on December 7th, 2013

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.

Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.

The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.



Hot on the heels of the failure of the  fingerprint security problem with the iPhone, Apple has recently been granted a patent  by the USPO that uses facial recognition technology to control a computing device, such as, an iPhone, iPad or Mac, allowing for a more secure and productive operating environment.

Apple was issued a patent by the USPO on Tuesday (see AppleInsider) that describes a system for using facial recognition and detection on a mobile or desktop computing device. Reports say that this could work a lot like the Android face-unlock option, which has been criticized for its fallibility. It is also designed to prompt activity and uses facial expressions as input for controlling the device.

This technology could be used not only to protect data on an iPhone in a locked state, but also to determine how much information is shared on the lock screen for a user.

If a person receives an incoming call and their iPhone recognizes them then the caller ID and information from the user’s contacts app will be displayed. If the caller is not someone the phone has listed as a user of the device, it’ll block all that data. Also, with emails or messages, it could potentially scrub the content of any actual info until there’s a positive recognition match for the rightful user.

In a desktop computing environment, the recognition might be used to analyze user behavior over time as they sit in front of their Mac, determining when to trigger actions, such as, screen savers, enter a movie mode, or switch audio devices in preparation for a something like a Skype call.

I mentioned in a recent post that Apple has just acquired PrimeSense, the Israeli company that helped create the original Microsoft Keinect’s motion sensing capabilities, so it’s possible to link the two, although the Apple patent pre-dates the deal.

This technology, however, could provide a way to permit users access to things like Siri from the lock-screen without compromising privacy at the same time be able to use some of the assistant’s more useful convenience features.

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Sandy on December 4th, 2013 has just published the following records if you are looking for records in Northumberland, Devon, and Thames and Medway.  See below:

We’ve just published some brilliant new parish records so now it’s easier than ever to trace your ancestors’ baptisms, marriages and burials.

Further details of the records are as follows:

Northumberland & Durham marriages – 28,163 records – click here to see places covered (PDF)

Devon baptisms – 11,735 records – click here to see places covered (PDF)

Devon burials – 2,387 records – click here to see places covered (PDF)

Thames & Medway baptisms – 2,080 records for Cliffe At Hoo, 1775-1851

Thames & Medway marriages – 260 records for Cliffe At Hoo, 1775-1919

Thames & Medway burials – 1,652 records for St Helen’s Church, 1775-1851

Any of you with ancestors from these areas will be keen to get searching these records straight away.

Search parish records now

According to Reuters:

(Reuters) – Apple Inc has bought Israel-based PrimeSense Ltd, a developer of chips that enable three-dimensional machine vision, the companies said on Monday, a move that signals gesture-controlled technologies in new devices from the maker of iPhones and iPads.

An Apple spokesman confirmed the purchase but declined to say how much it spent or what the technology will be used for. Israeli media said Apple paid about $350 million for PrimeSense, whose technology powers the gesture control in Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Kinectgaming system.

Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” an Apple spokesman said in an e-mail.

A spokeswoman for PrimeSense said: “We can confirm the deal with Apple. Further than that, we cannot comment at this stage.”

It was the second acquisition of an Israeli company by Apple in less than two years. Apple bought flash storage chip maker Anobit in January 2012.

PrimeSense’s sensing technology, which gives digital devices the ability to observe a scene in three dimensions, was used to help power Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect device.

The Israeli company has licensed the technology to Microsoft but it is unclear how that deal changes with Apple’s acquisition of PrimeSense, which provides the technology behind Kinect’s visual gesture system.

Apple and Microsoft have other licensing deals between them. Microsoft did not return a call seeking comment.

Analysts are expecting PrimeSense’s technology to show up in Apple devices in about 12-18 months from now, potentially in the often-speculated device for the living room such as a television, dubbed iTV by fans.

“While we have not had any more evidence of an iTV coming in the next 6 to 12 months, some sort of living room appliance is in Apple’s future and gesture technology could be critical,” Peter Misek, analyst with Jefferies said in a note to clients.

Apple’s interest in PrimeSense was first reported in July by Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist.

Below is an up-to-date announcement from the National Genealogical Society (NGS):

ARLINGTON, VA, 2 DECEMBER 2013: Registration is now open for the National Genealogical Society’s thirty-sixth annual family history conference, Virginia: The First Frontier, which will be held 7–10 May 2014 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and the Marriott Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia was home to an ever-changing frontier. From Jamestown to Kentucky its people moved ever forward looking for new frontiers and it is this spirit that the conference celebrates as we move to new frontiers in research. The conference will open with Sandra Treadway, Librarian and Archivist of Virginia, who will address the issues that research institutions face as they enter the digital frontier and how they are working to meet the ever-changing needs of their patrons.

Continuing its goal of providing quality educational opportunities to its participants, the conference will again feature the Board for Certification of Genealogists’ Skillbuilding track, Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on November 29th, 2013

hanukkah-candlesThe  first day of Hannukah and Thanksgiving happening on the same day is a rare event—so rare that it won’t happen again until the year 79811,  this is according to a calculation by Jonathan Mizrahi, which has garnered national attention.

Starting on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. It coincides with late November or late December on the secular calendar. This year the first day of  Hanukkah was yesterday (Thanksgiving Day) November 28, 2013.

It all began in 168 B.C.E. when the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. Many of the Jewish people were afraid to fight back because of the kind of payback that would take place.

One year later in 167 B.C.E. the emperor Antiochus forced the Jewish people to worship Greek gods and made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. Jewish resistance started in the village of Modiin near Jerusalem, when a Jewish High Priest called, Mattathias, was ordered to bow down to an idol and eat the flesh of a pig. These practices are forbidden to Jews. Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward to take his place, Mattathias killed the villager as well as the Greek officer. His five sons and the other villagers then killed the remaining soldiers.

More people joined the resistance against the Greeks, which eventually led to the Jews retaking their lands. After regaining control they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem, which had by this time been spiritually defiled. Intent on purifying the temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days, they were dismayed to find that there was only enough oil for one day. They lit the menorah anyway and a miracle happened—the oil lasted the full eight days.

The miracle of the Hanukkah oil is celebrated every year when Jews light a special menorah known as a hanukkiyah for eight days. The Hanukkah menorah has eight candle holders in a row with a ninth, which is a helper candle called a shamash, placed in the middle and set above the others. Starting from the left side one candle is lit, using the helper candle, on the first night, two on the second and so on until all the candles are lit on the eighth day.

A gift is exchanged between friends and family on each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Another Hanukkah tradition is spinning the dreidel which is a game played with a four-sided top with Hebrew letters on each side. Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is also traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes. Latkes are delicious pancakes made out of potatoes and onions, which are fried in oil and then served with applesauce.

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Sandy on November 27th, 2013

happythanksgivingBy 1916, United States citizens were referring to Thanksgiving Day as Turkey Day, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, the Pilgrims might not have eaten turkey at all. According to historians, the Pilgrims ate wildfowl, corn, and venison.  Turkey first claimed its place as the Thanksgiving bird in the 1700s when Founding Father Alexander Hamilton stated, “No Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.”

As for stuffing, the Pilgrims lacked access to flour or ovens, so bread-based stuffing was not on the first Thanksgiving meal menu. However, the history of stuffing was around and dates back to the Roman Empire, where the recipe appears in the Roman cookbook De re Coquinaria. Although stuffing large birds was common in the Pilgrims era. Today, Americans rarely cook large birds except on Thanksgiving and stuffing is not often prepared without turkey.

Cranberries are native to North America and were eaten by Native Americans along with pumpkins long before the first Thanksgiving. Cranberries became a crucial part of the New England harvest once the settlers began eating them in the mid-1600s. Cranberry sauce was not referenced for another 50 years in historical records, sealing their role in the Thanksgiving celebrations in 1864, when Ulysses S. Grant ordered cranberries to be served to soldiers as part of their holiday meal. A company now known as Ocean Spray began canning and selling cranberry sauce in 1912.

You might be interested (or reminded) to learn that neither white potatoes nor sweet potatoes were part of the first Thanksgiving dinner because they hadn’t arrived yet in North America. White potatoes are native to South America and sweet potatoes are native to the Carribean. Sweet potatoes were actually brought to the United States from Europe and became very popular in the south—humid growing conditions suited the orange potato and were often substituted for pumpkin pie. Sweet potato casseroles were introduced to marshmallows in 1917 by Angelus Marshmallows in a book intended to promote marshmallows as an everyday cooking ingredient. Although marshmallows didn’t catch on with other dishes the pairing of the sweet pototo and marshmallows were immortalized as a Thanksgiving favorite.

Turkeys and pumpkins are native to North America. However it was unlikely to have been baked into a pie because the Pilgrims did not even have access to ovens and probably ate boiled pumpkin. Recipes for pumpkin pie appeared in English cookbooks around 1670 and in American cookbooks in 1670. They didn’t appear in French cookbooks until 1951. Pumpkin pie is a popular way to conclude a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with a sweet dessert.


The following Warning Letter dated November 22, 2013, was sent to Ann Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, Inc., regarding the marking of the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service without marketing clearance and approval in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. I’ve left off the address, which you can find on the FDA website: 

Document Number: GEN1300666
Re: Personal Genome Service (PGS)

Dear Ms. Wojcicki,

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is sending you this letter because you are marketing the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS) without marketing clearance or approval in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act).

This product is a device within the meaning of section 201(h) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(h), because it is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or is intended to affect the structure or function of the body. For example, your company’s website at (most recently viewed on November 6, 2013) markets the PGS for providing “health reports on 254 diseases and conditions,” including categories such as “carrier status,” “health risks,” and “drug response,” and specifically as a “first step in prevention” that enables users to “take steps toward mitigating serious diseases” such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and breast cancer. Most of the intended uses for PGS listed on your website, a list that has grown over time, are medical device uses under section 201(h) of the FD&C Act. Most of these uses have not been classified and thus require premarket approval or de novo classification, as FDA has explained to you on numerous occasions.

Some of the uses for which PGS is intended are particularly concerning, such as assessments for BRCA-related genetic risk and drug responses (e.g., warfarin sensitivity, clopidogrel response, and 5-fluorouracil toxicity) because of the potential health consequences that could result from false positive or false negative assessments for high-risk indications such as these. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sandy on November 22nd, 2013

50 years ago today.


Sandy on November 22nd, 2013

identitytheftKannon Yamada has written a simply excellent article, How to Get Your Identity Stolen in One Easy Step.  It really is a must read for everyone.

In the article Mr.Yamada explains how to take care of your personal information in a way that is easy to follow and a real eye opener with a few surprises for all of us.

You’ll learn that stealing someone’s identity doesn’t take a lot of intelligence, or a lot of effort. You’ll also learn about Ophcrack  a Linux-based Live USB/CD that recovers passwords without users having to understand much about computers. Then there’s Recuva a tool that can undelete data you’ve sent to the recycling bin, even after emptying it. Recuva  exploits a loop-hole in how operating systems erase data in order to preserve performance. Information isn’t deleted after you clear the recycling bin.

There’s plenty more. To read the article click on How to Get Your Identity Stolen in One Easy Step. You might also want to bookmark Kannon Yamada’s blog, it’s packed with useful information.

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The following news release from looks back at the assassination of President John F.  Kennedy in their new online historical record collection:

PROVO, UT–(Marketwired – Nov 20, 2013) –, the world’s largest online family history resource, today released for the first time online 6.5 million new birth and death records from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Spanning nearly a century (1890-1980), the collection includes the state’s entire public archive of death records, including a newly-rediscovered certificate for President John F. Kennedy, as well as those involved in the investigation and reporting of his assassination, which rocked the nation 50 years ago this month.

“Stories can be gleaned from every record we put on, whether it’s an ancestor’s personal story, or an important moment in our nation’s history,” said Dan Jones, Vice President of Content Acquisition at “For example, just a few records in the newly-available Texas collections paint a picture of the events surrounding JFK’s death. These records can provide a similar level of insight to those with Texas family histories, who will find great amounts of information in these record sets.”

The president’s death certificate describes the weapon used, injuries inflicted, location of injuries, and duration before death, which is noted as only “minutes.” Evelyn Lincoln, the president’s personal secretary, is listed as the informant — the person responsible for positively identifying the body of her former Commander-in-Chief. Read the rest of this entry »

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The latest announcement from NGS regarding the 2014 Family History Conference is as follows

NGS is pleased to announce the program for the 2014 Family History Conference is now available in a sixteen-page Registration Brochure, which can be downloaded at The online version of the program is also available on the conference website at Conference registration opens on 1 December 2013 at  A number of special events have limited seating, so register on 1 December or as soon as possible thereafter if you plan to attend these events.

The conference will be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and Marriott Hotel located in downtown Richmond, Virginia, 7–10 May 2014. Conference highlights include a choice of more than 175 lectures, given by many nationally known speakers and subject matter experts about a broad array of topics including records for Virginia and its neighboring states; migration into and out of the region; military records; state and federal records; ethnic groups including African Americans, German, Irish, and Ulster Scots; methodology; analysis and problem solving; and the use of technology including genetics, mobile devices, and apps useful in genealogical research. Read the rest of this entry »

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On November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.

The Gettysburg Address as read by Johnny Cash

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The latest news from is shared below:

FamilySearch has added more than 3.2 million indexed records and images from Austria, BillionGraves, Brazil, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 1,157,399 images from the Brazil, São Paulo, Immigration Cards, 1902–1980, collection, the 324,226 images from the new South Africa, Eastern Cape, Estate Files, 1962–2004 and South Africa, Western Cape, Estate Files, 1966–2004, collections, and the 71,367 indexed records from the U.S., Minnesota, Naturalization Card Index, 1930–1988, 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 November 15th, 2013

The following article was published in Bloomberg online news that Google Books achieved a major victory in federal court yesterday when Judge Denny Chin ruled that its digitization of more than 20+ million books is a fair use under the United States copyright laws

Google Inc.’s (GOOG) project to digitally copy millions of books for online searches doesn’t violate copyright law, a federal judge ruled, dismissing an eight-year-old lawsuit against the largest search-engine company.

Google Books provides a public benefit and is a fair use of copyrighted material, Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan ruled today. The project, which has scanned more than 20 million books so far, doesn’t harm authors or inventors of original works, Chin said.

“Google Books provides significant public benefits,” Chin wrote. “It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders.”

Chin’s decision comes more than two years after he rejected a proposed $125 million settlement in the case filed by The Authors Guild, which represents writers. The group sued in 2005 alleging that Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, infringed copyrights by scanning and indexing books without writers’ permission.

Paul Aiken, the Authors Guild’s executive director, said in a statement today that the ruling is a “fundamental challenge” to copyrights and that his group plans to appeal.

Fair Use Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy on November 13th, 2013

On November 13, 1850, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is born in Scotland.

Stevenson studied civil engineering and law, but decided to pursue a career as a writer and began publishing essays and travel pieces. His decision alienated his parents, who expected him to follow the family trade of lighthouse keeping. The family wasn’t reconciled for years.

In 1876, Stevenson fell in love with an American woman named Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne, who was separated from her husband. When she returned to San Francisco in 1879, Stevenson followed her. The couple married and returned to Scotland in 1880. Stevenson published a collection of essays in 1881, and Treasure Island, one of his most popular books, in 1883. In 1885, he published the first version of the popular nursery-rhyme book A Child’s Garden of Verse. In 1846, he published Kidnapped, and in 1886 he published Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

In 1888, the family set off for the South Seas, seeking a healthier climate for Stevenson’s tuberculosis. The family finally settled in Samoa, where Stevenson died in 1894.

According to TechCrunch, Google is today releasing another update to Gmail. Google users will now be able to skip the downloading process with email messages with just a click.  You can view and save your files directly to Google Drive without leaving your inbox.

This change is being made a day after the rollout of the new “Quick Actions” buttons, which gives you easier interactions with email messages, with just a click. The Google Drive integrations are also designed to speed up users’ interactions with attached files.

Gmail users will begin to see new thumbnail previews for files at the bottom of their email messages. This includes photos and videos, as well as office documents, PDFs, and spreadsheets.

When you click on one of the files previews will then display the item in a full-screen image format. From here, you can basically interact with the file itself right from your Gmail inbox, with no need to first download then launch the file using desktop software.

If you do need to save the item for later viewing, just click on the Google Drive button that appears when you hover over the preview. From the window that appears, you can click to save the file to your Drive, even choosing the folder where the item should be stored.

If you still feel more comfortable with the old-school “download” route, don’t worry, an arrow button will allow you to continue to do things in the traditional way.

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As Veteran’s Day draws near (Monday, November 11) hear in the U.S., Canada, and the UK, it’s a time to remember those who fought and died in conflicts across the globe.

To honor the approaching centenary of the First World War the British National Archives is offering a way to research this war and the people involved by launching a dedicated First World War portal where researchers and family historians can explore all of the National Archives’ First World War resources in a single place.

Listed below are the resources you might find useful in your research:

First World collections online 

Explore some of the most popular First World War record series, including medal card indexes (WO 372), prisoner of war interview records 1914-1918 (WO 161) and RAF Officers’ service records (AIR 76).*
From January 2014 a digitized records series will be launched including, the unit war diaries (WO 95).

First World War service and pension records has a wealth of the National Archives military records to search, including surviving service records from 1914 to 1920 (WO 363) and pension records from 1914 to 1920 (WO 364).*

And women went too… Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot on the heels of yesterdays much talked about Twitter’s big public launch, an article in Forbes titled The Twitter Guide for Professionals Who ‘Just Don’t Get It’ written by Tim Maurer, provides some interesting context on what Twitter is all about.

I actually do “get” the value of Twitter at the same time am still unsure if I’d like to be a part of the machine—human nature being the way it is, it’s not all rainbows, sunshine and pots of gold. Although I do think it’s a more productive use of your time than Facebook maintenance.

In case you don’t really know what Twitter is, it’s a communication medium where messages are sent and read and the catch or, the good thing, is that messages are limited to no more than 140 characters—keep it pithy.  More often than not, you’ll find a link to a URL in these short sentences. It’s a great source of information and, if you have nothing to communicate, it’s still a convenient  way for scanning and receiving quality information.  If you have a couple of days where you don’t have anything to say, Twitter allows you to open an account and just start following the people who interest you. You can also stop following them too.

Click on the link The Twitter Guide for Professionals Who ‘Just Don’t Get It’ to read Mr. Maurer’s article. It provides an interesting perspective on what it’s all about—some self-promotion too, but that’s okay.

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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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