Posts By Dick Eastman

Wellcome Library funds a new Partnership to Digitize 800,000 pages of Mental Health Archives

The following announcement was written by the Wellcome Library in partnership with the Borthwick Institute for Archives, London Metropolitan Archives, Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives:

The Wellcome Library will partner with the Borthwick Institute for Archives, London Metropolitan Archives, Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the project, which will bring together documents from the York Retreat, St Luke’s Hospital Woodside, Crichton Royal Hospital, Gartnavel Royal Hospital and Camberwell House Asylum. These collections will be added to the Wellcome Library’s own collection of archives from public and private mental health institutions, including the records of Ticehurst House Hospital in Sussex, which provide a rare insight into the running of a privately run asylum.

The project will mostly focus on records dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, and will touch on the movement away from institutional care as the 20th century progressed. Patient records and case notes, photographs, administrative documents and registers will be digitised, creating an extensive online archive that will be a valuable resource for historical research.

A Popular Song for Funerals: Monty Python’s Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

A study by The Co-operative Funeralcare of songs played at 30,000 funerals in the U.K. showed that traditional hymns, football anthems and classic pop songs top the list of the “funeral music chart.” The most popular song amongst the pop songs? Monty Python’s Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, a song from The Monty Python movie, The Life of Brian.

Details may be found at

Was the First Thanksgiving Held in Florida?

Did the first Thanksgiving held in the New World happen in Saint Augustine, Florida on September 8, 1565? One person with significant credentials in history claims Thanksgiving started decades before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

“The first Thanksgiving that involved a feast and lots of local food and inviting the local people, the Timacuan Indians here in St. Augustine to be part of it, and that’s our Thanksgiving,” says Kathleen Deagan, Ph.D., the distinguished research curator emerita at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. “Most of us associate our early history and our founders of the English colonies of Jamestown and of Plymouth, and really the first settlement was here in St. Augustine in 1565.”

Dr. Deagan continues, “It never ceases to astonish people the first thanksgiving meal was smoked meat and fish. Ham. Garbanzo beans. Red Wine. Olives and Olive oil. There wasn’t any corn as far as we know, no turkeys, no mashed potatoes, no pecan pie for sure!”

Rabbi Abraham S. Goldberg, R.I.P.

The recent attack by Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem took several lives. One of the murder victims was Rabbi Abraham S. Goldberg who was very active on JewishGen and a person who helped many people research their lineage.

You can read more in an article in the JewishGen Blog at

St. John’s Cemetery, Albany, NY – Interments 1841-1887 now Online

The latest addition to the transcription projects on the website of the Troy Irish Genealogy Society, are the recently discovered interment records of 12,731 individuals from the long closed St. John’s Cemetery in Albany New York. St. John’s Cemetery was located on Delaware Avenue in Albany, New York. To see these records on the TIGS website, click on PROJECTS and then ST. JOHN’S CEMETERY, ALBANY, NY – INTERMENT RECORDS.

It had been widely reported that the interment records for this cemetery, covering interments starting over 173 years ago, had been lost or destroyed. However, in a recent chance conversation with the Historian at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, New York, it was discovered that the mostly intact St. John’s interment book was in the possession of a retired cemetery employee and the book was promptly recovered.

Irish Artifacts Infographic Summary

Ireland has an incredibly vibrant history that is rich in history and culture. Particularly symbolic for the Irish is the many Celtic symbols and emblems used across many traditional Irish Artifacts and crafts.

Paul Murphy, Managing Director of Murphy of Ireland, has created an infographic that explores the most prevalent and perhaps most popular artifacts along with an overview of Celtic design. These Artifacts range for the Aran Jumper to the Claddagh Ring, and the Tin Whistle to the Tweed Waistcoat and Cap. It takes an in depth view of the origins of these Artifacts, how they were made, and the many alluring and interesting facts that surround them.

Did you know for example that the hands on a Claddagh ring symbolise friendship? Or that Irish children would gather flowers, berries and even turf to dye the cloth that was woven into tweed waistcoats and cap? You might be surprised to know that the typical Aran Jumper has 100,000 carefully constructed stitches taking upwards of 2 month to complete.

Click here to view the full-sized infographic.

NOTE: Your web browser may try to compress the image to make it fit into the browser’s window although that is not true of all web browsers. If the image is too small to read, you can enlarge the window by “zooming in” on it. To do so, display the image on our screen. Windows users then can hold the CONTROL key down and press “+” several times to make the image appear larger. Macintosh users may do the same by holding don the COMMAND key and and pressing “+” several times to make the image appear larger.

To “zoom out” to normal size, hold the CONTROL (or COMMAND) key down and press the minus key (“-“) several times.

You can also learn more about Murphy of Ireland at Murphy of Ireland has been selling high quality Irish clothing for over 75 years. Irish tweed jackets, vests and caps have been a staple part Irish culture for generations.

UK Enhanced Procedure to Obtain Copy Wills and Grants of Probate

The following was written by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the International Jewish Genealogy Society’s Public Records Access Monitoring Committee and is used here with her permission:

Sometimes it pays to contact your elected official! The following information was shared with me by David Lewin in London, England sent to him via his member of Parliament. Justice Minister thanked David for his suggestions to improve the service for the provision of copies of documents resulting in the new changes below.

UK Justice Minister Chris Grayling announced effective September 30 that the Probate Service launched an online probate search facility. Customers can now access probate records from 1996 to the present day for a fee of £10 and order a copy of the grant which will be provided in 10 days. When an order is placed the customer will receive notification by email that the order has been received and when the document is available for download a further email will be sent. Payments may be made by debit or credit card.

Talk to Your Family This Holiday Season

Many of us will be enjoying dinners and other festive occasions with our relatives during the next few weeks. I would suggest this is a great time to compare notes with the relatives. Indeed, older members of the family may know a few tidbits of genealogy information that you have not yet found. However, there is another, more serious, reason for comparing notes with relatives: family health hazards.

Compiling a family tree can offer more benefits than discovering stories of war heroes or family dramas; science and preventive medicine are getting a look in, too. The skeleton in the cupboard could be a genetic predisposition towards disease that, once uncovered, might provide potentially life-saving indicators. Claims Online Family History Research in United States Has Grown by 14 Times in the Past Decade

The following announcement was written by the folks at

PROVO, UT–November 19, 2014 – Over the past decade, online family history research has grown in the United States by 14 times, with two-thirds (63%) of respondents in a recent study reporting that family history has become more important than ever. They also say that this growth is motivated by a belief that knowing more about the past is a key part of understanding who we are.

Announced today by, the world’s largest online family history resource, the new findings are part of the first chapter in its Global Family History Report, a multi-country study that examined trends in the family — both past and present — across six developed countries: the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and Sweden.

AncestryDNA Announces Enhanced DNA matching and a Beta for DNA Circles

This morning AncestryDNA announced some major updates to its available services. DNA Circles is the name for what was previously known as DNA match groups. This is being launched in beta as the technology is still in its early days. The help section of DNA Circles has lots of information on how this works and the company also will be posting an overview for everyone to read shortly.

You need to have a subscription (any level) and a public tree linked to your DNA results in order to see your own DNA Circles. You will be able to download your old DNA matches for a limited time.

You can read more in the Ancestry Blog at

Here are some screen shots to illustrate the new DNA features. Click on any of the following to view larger versions:

(+) Follow-Up: A Tablet Computer that Runs Windows 8.1 for $99

Yesterday I published a Plus Edition article (at describing my experiences running Windows 8.1 and a standard Windows genealogy program on an 8-inch tablet computer. Apparently, the other retailers are not sitting idly by. Now two more brands of tablet computers with almost identical specifications are being offered at the same price. All of these tablet computers run Windows 8.1 and are capable of running almost any Windows programs, including all of today’s Windows genealogy programs.

(+) A Tablet Computer that Runs Windows 8.1 for $99

This is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. Please do not forward this article to others without the author’s permission.

Want a small tablet computer that slips into a purse or (a large) pocket and yet can run RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Family Tree Builder, Family Historian, Microsoft Office 365, Internet Explorer, PowerPoint, Angry Birds, or almost any other Windows program? Sound too good to be true? What is your reaction if I tell you that you can buy this tiny powerhouse for $99? Even better, you can purchase it from one of the “big box” retailers near you.

I recently purchased this 8-inch tablet computer that runs Windows 8.1 and have been using it for a while. I am generally pleased with it although it does have some drawbacks. Then again, at this price, I am willing to live with a few shortcomings.

That’s right: it is a handheld tablet computer that fits into a large pocket or a purse. It runs the full version of Windows 8.1, not a normal tablet operating system such as Android or Apple’s iOS or even Microsoft’s dummied-down tablet operating system called Windows RT. This tiny tablet computer includes the full version of Windows 8.1 and can run (almost) all normal Windows programs. You can purchase it for $99 or for $149. I’ll explain the two prices in a moment.

Follow-up: President of Turkey says Muslims Discovered America

Three days ago, I wrote (at about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claims that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there. Now the president has ordered Turkey’s educational institutions to adopt a policy of highlighting the contribution of Islam to global science and arts, including the discovery of the Americas.

He also slammed criticisms from columnists and cartoonists mocking his claims that Muslim sailors discovered the Americas and constructed a mosque in Cuba centuries before Columbus. However, he did not acknowledge numerous claims that still other Europeans and orientals were visiting the Americas long before the 12th century.

Twitter’s Entire Archive of Public Tweets is now Indexed and Searchable

Twitter has announced via its engineering blog that it’s making its entire public tweet archive searchable to everyone. Previously it had only made the archive accessible to select partners.

Twitter’s search engine will index roughly half a trillion tweets, including every public Tweet since 2006. The move means historic tweets will now be accessible to everyone through Twitter’s public search.

You can read the details in Twitter’s Engineering Blog at

Collin County, Texas, Clerk’s Office wins National Recognition for “Genealogy Corner”

Collin County Clerk Stacey Kemp and her staff have been awarded the 2014 Best Practices Award from the National Association of County Recorders, Elections Officials and Clerks (NACRC), according to county officials. The award was for Genealogy Corner, an online, publicly accessible archive that offers a wide variety of online research tools for anyone interested in the history of Collin County.

More than 8,000 licenses, dating from 1884 to 1949, have been scanned and indexed, and are now searchable online, including:

A New Fad Sweeps the Country in 1870s

We all know about popular fads: the hula hoops of the fifties, the pet rocks of the seventies, and body-piercing jewelry of the present time. The young people generally embrace fads with open arms while older generations wring their hands and wonder what the younger generation is coming to. However, we generally do not think about fads in the times of our ancestors. A quick bit of historical study shows that our ancestors were just as enthusiastic about new ideas and fashions as are any of their descendants. Some of these fads had far-reaching effects on future generations. In fact, some of us might not be here today had it not been for one of these fads.

One item that we take for granted today is the bicycle. Yet this two-wheeled device was all the rage when first introduced in the late 1870s. To be sure, two-wheel conveyances had been invented much earlier but were rarely seen. In 1790, Frenchman Chevalier de Sivrac conceived the idea of a crude form of a bicycle, consisting of a wooden beam with wheels attached below each end. It had no pedals; the rider pushed along the ground with his feet. It had no steering capability. Even worse, it had no seat. The rider simply sat on the beam. Apparently de Sivrac built only one of these, and it was soon relegated to a storage shed. Later models improved on the earlier design with a cushioned seat of some sort. In 1813, Baron Charles de Drais of Saurbrun, Germany, introduced a bicycle that was similar to Sivrac’s model but with a swivel head to aid steering.

(+) How to Use, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, and Other Online Resources for Free

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

Are you curious about your family history but don’t want to pay $20 a month to join or $10 a month to use MyHeritage or other commercial services? You don’t have to! Your local public library or a nearby Family History Center may offer a free membership that provides access to census data; military, court, land, vital, and church records; directories; passenger lists; naturalization papers; and more for ancestors from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. In some cases, you may be able to access some of these huge online databases from the comfort of your own home.

Orange County, Florida, Public Library’s Genealogy Collection is Moving to the West Oaks Branch

Planning to do some genealogy research on your “snowbird” trip to Florida this winter? You might want to know that research in the Orlando area will be a bit limited for a couple of months.

The Orange County (Florida) Library System provides library services to about 1.25 million people, including everyone in the city of Orlando. The library’s large genealogy collection will soon be moved to its new home at the West Oaks Branch Library and Genealogy Center, 1821 E. Silver Star Road, Ocoee, FL 34761.

Smart PDF Scanner Pro for iPhone

Click on the image above to view a full-size PDF image of the same page

You can find a dozen or more apps for the iPhone as well as for Android cell phones and tablets that can be used as replacements for desktop scanners. Some of them can save the images as PDF files. I have several such apps installed on my iPhone and have been pleased with them. However, a new product called Smart PDF Scanner Pro claims to be the best of the bunch.

Obviously, almost every new product claims to be better than any of its competitors. However, I installed Smart PDF Scanner Pro on my iPhone and, after an hour or so of testing, I must say it is a good one. Click on the image to the right to view a full size PDF image created with the new app. This would be a good app to take with you on your next visit to a genealogy library or archive.

The Smart PDF Scanner Pro app features “Advanced Image Processing” that automatically detects the page edges and corrects for perspective. Pick full-color scans, grayscale, or black-and-white for maximum legibility. FlashAssist can take perfect scans even in poor lighting conditions. You can even change the correction and enhancement settings later.

President of Turkey says Muslims Discovered America

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this claim but it is interesting. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there.

“Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus,” the conservative president said in a televised speech during an Istanbul summit of Muslim leaders from Latin America. “Muslim sailors arrived in America from 1178. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast.”


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