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On the Road Again

By the time you read these words, I should be on my way to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend an all-day conference on Saturday presented by the Albuquerque Genealogical Society.

I am traveling with an iPad and a laptop computer, a wireless cellular modem, and wi-fi networking as well, so I should be able to post new newsletter articles while I am traveling. However, my experience when traveling has shown that the biggest problem usually is the lack of time available. I expect to be busy! As a result, you may not see as many new articles posted here as usual for the next days.

NEHGS announces the Publication of Deborah Child’s, Soldier, Engraver, Forger: Richard Brunton’s Life on the Fringe in America’s New Republic

The following announcement was written by the folks at the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

April 23, 2015 – Boston, Massachusetts – New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) announces the publication of the latest work by Deborah Child.

In this richly illustrated biography, the author follows in the footsteps of Richard Brunton, a British grenadier who fought in the American Revolution before deserting in 1779. A trained engraver and diesinker, his primitive but charming works include some of the earliest pre-printed family registers in America. Despite his many talents and efforts, he was never able to make an honest living from his craft. Instead, he spent years living on the fringes of society, forging and counterfeiting currency, until his death in a New England almshouse in 1832.

Melissa Etheridge featured on Who Do You Think You Are? Sunday on TLC

The season finale of Who Do You Think You Are? features singer Melissa Etheridge as she goes on a journey to uncover her father’s maternal roots. The episode airs this Sunday, April 26 at 10/9c on TLC.

Melissa finds French Canadian ancestors who were shaken by a scandalous lawsuit, a turbulent relationship entangled with tragedy and an adventuresome ancestor who prospered in colonial America.

Catch a sneak peek of the episode at: http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/who-do-you-think-you-are/melissa-etheridge/

Phase 2 of the Yorkshire Collection and new POW records available to search this Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

This Findmypast Friday marks the release of over 5 million parish records in the second phase of Findmypast’s Yorkshire collection and over 43,000 prisoner of war records released in partnership with the National Archives to coincide with the centenary of the Gallippoli landings. This week’s new additions also include Australian military and land survey records, Irish local government records and newspapers and the United States BillionGraves Index.

United States Billion Graves Index

The United States Billion Graves Index contains 9 million cemetery records from right across the United States. Findmypast’s partnership with BillionGraves aims to make available all the cemetery records held on their site for free. BillionGraves is the largest resource for GPS-tagged headstone and burial records on the web, with over 12 million headstone records. This index will be regularly updated throughout the year and pertains solely to U.S. headstones. Each entry has a transcript, which includes a link to an image of the headstone with GPS details. The amount of information varies, but transcripts will usually include the deceased’s name, birth date, death date, cemetery and a link to an image of their headstone.

Yorkshire Records

The Secret of Erikoussa

MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has been working closely with Emmy Award winning writer, producer and author, Yvette Manessis Corporon. About a year ago Yvette published a book called “When The Cypress Whispers”. The book is fictional but some of it is based on true stories she grew up hearing from her grandmother, including the secret of the Greek Island of Erikoussa.

When the Nazis invaded Corfu, most of the Jewish citizens were killed, but a tailor by the name of Savas was able to escape with his three daughters, and a girl called Rosa, to the nearby Island of Erikoussa. Savas had customers and acquaintances on the island, but what was incredible was that the entire island joined forces – at risk of death – and gave refuge to Savas and his girls, and kept their identity secret from the Nazis, for the duration of the war.

Free or Nearly Free Cell Phone and Wi-Fi Telephone Calls

Earlier this week, I published a brief article in this newsletter (at http://goo.gl/8oF3Nn) about a new cell phone service from Google. I mentioned that I thought it was overpriced at $20 to $30 a month or more. For more than two years, I have been using a similar service from a small-time cellular service provider that provides essentially the same service. I usually pay $10 a month for unlimited voice minutes and text messages but occasionally upgrade to $25/month for a week or two when traveling and expect to use the wireless data plan frequently. When I return home, I then “downgrade” to $10/month again. The service has proven to be very reliable and I am happy with it.

I also found this to be a great tool for placing free calls back home when traveling internationally, instead of paying the normal, outrageous international roaming charges often associated with using cell phones when traveling in foreign countries. I used this cell phone several times last week while in England to call back to my family in the U.S. at no charge.

Ancestry Launches Ancestry Academy, Educational Video Courses for Family History Researchers

The following announcement was written by the folks at Ancestry:

New resource will feature high-quality video courses spanning a variety of family history topics; Expert guidance to help experts and novices alike

(PROVO, Utah) – April 22, 2015 – Ancestry, the world’s leading family history service, has launched Ancestry Academy, a new educational resource that offers high-quality video instruction from family history and genealogy experts. Covering a wide range of topics of interest in family history research, including Native American ancestry, online US census research, and DNA testing, this new educational content will help anyone, no matter their knowledge, better research and understand their family’s unique history.

“Whether you are just beginning your family history research or an expert genealogist, nearly anyone can learn something new from the terrific lineup of expert instructors featured on Ancestry Academy,” said Laura Prescott, Director of Ancestry Academy. “Our goal is to deliver the best online video instruction library of family history courses to as many people as possible to provide an educational and rewarding experience while researching their family history.”

The Reincarnation Machine: Who Might You Have Been in a Past Life?

Who were you in a previous life? To help you find out, Slate Magazine scraped tens of thousands of people from Wikipedia and built the Reincarnation Machine. Type in your birth date, and the machine will match you to somebody who died on your birth date or close to it. Then, it will match that person to somebody who died close to his or her birth date, and so on through history. Were you Elvis Presley? Lyndon Johnson? A Welsh stage actress? Type your birth date at http://goo.gl/BuiAb6 to find out!

Yeah, like I almost believe this stuff. I still want to see the documentation!

Ancestry.com to Offer Free Access to Australian, New Zealand, and Commonwealth Soldiers to Commemorate the Anzac Day Centenary

Ancestry.com will open the site’s New Zealand and Australian military history collections, and UK collections with information on Commonwealth soldiers, until 2am Monday (27 April). The site has more than 12 million individual military records pertaining to Kiwis and Aussies, including who enlisted where and when, who served in what capacity and what happened to them. Many records also show addresses, occupations and next of kin.

The databases to be made freely accessible include:

(+) How to Host a Successful Huge Genealogy Conference

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I attended a great genealogy, history, and heritage conference this past week with thousands of attendees. I have been to the same conference in the past, as well as to other genealogy conferences that attracted up to 20,000 or so attendees. I also attend some conferences that attract from a few hundred to perhaps 1,000 attendees, all held by organizers who would like to attract many more people.

When I compare the larger events to the smaller ones, I am struck by the fact that there is not a lot of difference in the amount of effort required of the organizers. Attracting 1,000 attendees appears to require about as much work as attracting 15,000. The conference organizers simply do things a bit differently, and the result attracts larger crowds.

I thought I would share my observations. Perhaps these remarks might help increase the attendance of your next conference.

Practice Makes Perfect

Ancestry.com First Quarter 2015 Financial Results: Revenues $164.6 million, Up 7% Year-Over-Year; Up 8% on Constant Currency Basis

Ancestry.com today released the company’s financial numbers for the first three months of 2015. “Our first quarter results reflect the strengthening business trends we began to see last fall, highlighted by strong Adjusted EBITDA growth and 104,000 net subscriber additions since the end of 2014,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. “We are executing well in the core business and execution will remain a major theme in 2015 as we focus on content acquisition, product enhancements, continued momentum at AncestryDNA, which now has a database of genotypes from approximately 850,000 people, and the penetration of targeted new international markets.”

Some of the highlights:

Book Review: Elements of Genealogical Analysis

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Elements of Genealogical Analysis
By Robert Charles Anderson
New England Historic Genealogical Society. 2014. 168 pages.

Robert Charles Anderson secured his place in the pantheon of genealogical greats when he became Director of the Great Migration Study Project. Supported by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the published volumes titled the Great Migration Series represent a set of colonial biographies that anchors New England research. His Santa-Claus beard belies a suffers-no-fools independence and an intellect that his admirers immediately pronounce as “genius.” The American Society of Genealogists, limited to a lifetime membership of fifty Fellows, received Mr. Anderson as one of its own in 1978.

Mr. Anderson discovered his own New England roots some forty years ago. His investigations broadened beyond his own family to encompass the biographies of the New England colonists. The Migration Project subsequently issued:

Google’s new Project Fi: A low-cost Cell Phone Service

As rumored for months, Google today announced its new cell phone service. At first glance, it looks good and is very low-priced compared tot he major U.S. cell phone providers. However, a comparison shows that several of the low-cost cellular providers already offer better deals.

Google’s new cell phone service, called Project Fi, is not yet available to everyone. It is available only in an invitation-only basis. Next, it works only on Google’s (expensive) Nexus 6 Android phone. It will not work with any other cell phone. Service will be made available through both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.

The big advantage of Project Fi is that it marries together normal cell phone networks and wi-fi networks. When you’re connected to wi-fi, for example, all of your voice and data activities will use that network. If you are not in range of a wi-fi network, the software in the cell phone automatically switches the call and data to Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks. The service costs $20 per month for unlimited voice minutes. If you want data, you will be charged an additional $10 per gigabyte that you use.

In other words, it works just like the cheaper cell phone service that Republic Wireless has offered for more than two years now.

Indiana Genealogical Society Now Has More Than 1,500 Databases Online

This is an excellent example of what an active genealogy society can accomplish. This week, the society proudly announced that it now has more than 1,500 databases on its website at http://www.IndGenSoc.org! These databases are from all 92 counties, plus numerous statewide collections. Some are available to the public and others are accessible to IGS members only.

If you have Indiana ancestry, you want to check out the announcement at http://indgensoc.blogspot.com/2015/04/igs-now-has-more-than-1500-databases.html.

Family History on Your Wrist: Introducing Ancestry’s Apple Watch App

Writing in the Ancestry Blog, Aaron Orr has announced a new app from Ancestry: the Apple Watch App.

I haven’t seen the app yet, although my Apple Watch IS on order. However, after reading Aaron Orr’s article, it appears that it is not a full-blown, general-purpose genealogy application. That shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, just how much can you do on a tiny watch face?

Reunion 11 for Macintosh and ReunionTouch for Apple iOS Devices Now Available

A major update for Reunion is now available. Leister Productions has released Reunion version 11 for Macintosh and also ReunionTouch for iPad/iPhone. Reunion 11 includes the following changes:

  • Syncing with mobile devices has been completely revamped in Reunion 11. No more need to manually sync changes. Working via Dropbox, everything synchs immediately.
  • New Islands Sidebar lets you locate “islands” in your family file. Islands are groups of people linked to each other, but not linked to people in other islands.
  • Visual clue for family notes, pictures and events appears in the marriage fields in the family view.
  • Relationships are now identified “on-the-fly.” As you add, delete, link, or unlink people in your family file, their relationship to the current source person appears instantly. No need to re-calculate relationships for the same source person.
  • Thumbnails window for browsing images linked to people, families, and sources. Makes it easy to see all pictures in one place.
  • Book creator automatically generate a PDF book, complete with page-number indexes of people and places. Includes source documentation, a multimedia browser, surnames, table of contents, multiple column content with text wrapping around images, custom headers and footers, cover pages, graphics, and more.

And much more. The full list of changes may be found at http://www.leisterpro.com/doc/version11/newfeatures/newfeatures.php.

Guinness confirms Confucius Family Tree as World’s Largest

The genealogical line of the ancient Chinese sage Confucius has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest family tree in history, containing the names of more than 2 million descendants, according to the latest edition of the Confucius genealogy book published in 2009.

According to those who have looked at the book (in Chinese), the Confucius Genealogy appears to contain many source citations and supporting documentation.

FamilySearch Adds More Than 4 Million Indexed Records and Images for Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, England, Italy, South Africa, and the United States

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

FamilySearch has added to its collections more than 4 million indexed records and images for Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, England, Italy, South Africa, and the United States. Notable collection updates include 700,220 indexed records from the US, Alabama, County Marriages, 1809–1950 collection; 461,167 indexed records from the US, Montana, Cascade County Records, 1880–2009 collection; and 380,334 indexed records from the Brazil, São Paulo, Immigration Cards, 1902–1980 collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

Local BMD Summary Page Enhancements Announced

The following announcement was written by the folks at the UKBMD & Local BMD Project:

Background:
———–
Just under 15 years ago the first of a growing series of websites was opened – the Cheshire BMD. Over time other areas of the country joined what has become known as the “Local BMD Project” and began placing their local register office birth, marriage and death indexes online. Links to all of these local BMD websites can be found under the UKBMD website on its Local BMD page.

New Features:
————-

HistoryLines Announces Official Launch

I mentioned HistoryLines last January when the site was in beta test. See http://goo.gl/7bB1Bm for the earlier article. Now HistoryLines is out of beta and fully open for business. The following announcement was written by the folks at HistoryLines:

Oswego, IL, USA – April 20, 2015

HistoryLines, a leading provider of historical solutions for genealogists and educators, today announced the official launch of historylines.com, a new website for users interested in genealogy and family history. The site allows anyone to better understand the lives of their forebears by describing the historical events and cultural influences that surrounded their lives. Users see their relatives in historical context with a personalized timeline and map, and can read a detailed, editable life sketch based on when and where their ancestor lived in history.

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