Posts By Dick Eastman

23andMe Expands into the UK

DNA testing firm 23andMe had to stop offering its medical testing in the U.S. because of pressure from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA apparently doesn’t believe that consumers should have direct access to medical information concerning their own bodies. Instead, the warning letter sent to 23andMe stated that such information should only be given to medical professionals. 23andMe continues to provide genealogy DNA information to customers, however.

23andMe earlier announced the company will start offering all services in Canada. Now the company has also been approved to provide both medical and genealogical DNA services in the U.K. These governments apparently are interested in having their citizens monitor their own health issues.

57,000 Photo Studio Negatives in Richland, WA to be Destroyed

Get them while you can! Much genealogical information will be lost unless it is claimed now by an interested party.

Negatives from photos shot by professional photographers between 1950 to 2007y donated to the REACH Center in Richland, Washington, from 1950-2007, are being deaccessioned. All unclaimed negatives will be destroyed. The center has extended the deadline to December 5 after receiving more than 500 requests for photo negatives within two days of a Monday Tri-City Herald story about the negatives.

New York City Publishes Online 17th Century ‘New Amsterdam’ Historical Manuscripts

The following announcement was written by New York City’s Department of Records and Information Services:

Municipal Archives launches project to digitize collections, beginning with the New Amsterdam historical manuscripts

Access the New Amsterdam digitized collection at www.archives.NYC

NEW YORK—As the first step in its efforts to digitize and make available to the public the historical records of New York City government, the City’s Department of Records and Information Services (DoRIS), announced today that it is releasing its first online collection of 17th Century historical manuscripts, showing the early development of the City’s government: ordinances drawn from the Records of New Amsterdam for the period of 1647 to 1661, and their corresponding translations, maintained by the Municipal Archives and Municipal Library.

Book Review: Alex Haley’s Roots An Author’s Odyssey

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey
by Adam Henig. Self published. 2014. 110 pages.

This is a brief biography of Alex Haley.

Sixty pages are devoted to Mr. Haley’s success as a writer for Reader’s Digest, Playboy magazine, co-author of the Autobiography of Malcolm X, and very significantly, Roots, the book and the miniseries, whose impact was seminal on the renaissance of interest in family history. And not to pass unnoticed, Roots‘ unflinching saga of slavery brought home the incalculable tragedy of human bondage.

Mr. Henig focusses on events after the triumph of Roots. Haley’s difficulties with the press, the accusations of plagiarism, and the challenges of flaws in his genealogy, were all factors that contributed to Haley’s troublesome last years of life. Mr. Henig references the events through newspaper accounts, interviews with those who knew Haley, and Haley’s papers.

Unlock the Past Cruises Schedule 2015–16

Want to take a genealogy cruise? Unlock the Past Cruises has many available to choose from. The following was written by Unlock the Past Cruises:

Adelaide, South Australia, 1 December 2014 – Unlock the Past Cruises announces its 2015-16 program of seven history and genealogy cruises – all now booking. Discover more about your family history in great company while visiting great destinations. All who book a cruise during the remainder of 2014 and 2015 are in a draw for $6000 worth of prizes. In addition there are more great prize opportunities on each cruise!

From Fremantle, Western Australia on the Astor, 19-24 January 2015, a cruise commemorating the departure of the convoys carrying the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and New Zealand Expeditionary Force (later to be known collectively as the ANZACs) in late 1914. Noted Irish and military historian, Richard Reid, will be the lead presenter.

Baltic cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse, 11-25 July 2015, visiting northern Europe, St Petersburg and Scandinavia – departing Southampton and visiting Bruges (Belgium), Berlin (Germany), Tallinn (Estonia), St Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden), and Copenhagen (Denmark). Apart from fantastic ports of call learn from a great team of presenters including Cyndi Ingle and Paul Milner (United States), Chris Paton and Janet Few (UK), Shauna Hicks and Carol Baxter (Australia) and many more.

Biggest Digitization of Irish Genealogy Records to Begin

The National Library of Ireland is to digitise more than 400,000 images of Catholic parish register microfilms and publish them online for free. In what is being described as the most significant ever digitisation project for Irish genealogy, the microfilms will be available online for free from the National Library of Ireland (NLI) by the summer of 2015.

The records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,091 parishes throughout the island of Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.

“This is the most ambitious digitisation project in the history of the NLI, and our most significant ever genealogy project,” said Colette O’Flaherty, head of special collections at the NLI.

View the Only Video of Mark Twain in Existence

Thomas Edison once said, “An average American loves his family. If he has any love left over for some other person, he generally selects Mark Twain.”

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or Mark Twain, would have been 179 years old yesterday. Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, but spent his later years in Redding, Connecticut. The only known film of Mark twain is available on YouTube at

Registration Open for the National Genealogical Society’s 2015 Family History Conference

The following announcement was written by the National Genealogical Society:

2015 Family History Conference
St. Charles, Missouri, 13–16 May 2015

Crossroads of America

Arlington, VA, 1 DECEMBER 2014: Registration is now open for the National Genealogical Society’s thirty-seventh annual family history conference, Crossroads of America, which will be held 13–16 May 2015 at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri. Conference highlights include a choice of more than 150 lectures, given by nationally known speakers and subject matter experts on a broad array of topics. The conference will open with The Tales of Pioneer Paths: Rivers, Roads & Rails given by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, a full-time professional researcher and educator, and former APG president.

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

(+) The Problems with OCR

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

Much of the genealogy information available on the World Wide Web is obtained from old books, published many years ago. With today’s technology, vendors are finding it easy to scan the books and to convert the pages into computer text. The results are placed online and the text becomes searchable in Google and other search engines, as well as each site’s own “search box.” The conversion from printed pages to computer text can be performed at modest expense and the information derived can be valuable for many genealogists. There is but one problem: it doesn’t always work very well.

Scanning a page from a book creates a picture of the page. However, a picture is not easily searchable. The image is similar to taking a picture with a digital camera: while it is easily readable by a human eye, the computer cannot “see” the words in the picture. A conversion process, called Optical Character Recognition, is required.

Magicians Want to Restore and Maintain Harry Houdini’s Vandalized NYC Gravesite

Nestled next to the late Lewins, Blums and Levys in a spooky old cemetery in New York City lies the final resting place of America’s most legendary magician, interred under a granite monument that bears his stage name in bold letters: Houdini.

It is an impressive tribute to the man who grew up as Ehrich Weiss and died on Halloween of 1926 of complications from appendicitis. Over the years, the site has been venerated, vandalized, thieved and forsaken, but a group of magicians now wants to officially end the mystery of who will care for the grave.

You can read more at:

Never Underestimate the Power of Small Good Deeds

Here is a photograph of a short letter to a UK newspaper is one of the most shared images in the world today. It’s on the front page of viral photo hosting service Imgur, where it has been viewed thousands of times in the last three days. It’s not clear when the letter was originally published.

The Boston Directory, 1789 to 1900, to be Digitized and Placed Online

The Boston Athenaeum has digitized its collection of Boston city directories. John Norman published the first such directory in 1789 under the formal title of The Boston Directory. Containing, A List of the Merchants, Mechanics, Traders, and others of the Town of Boston; in Order to enable Strangers to find the Residence of any Person. The 1789 Directory also included a map of Boston, lists of public offices, lawyers, medical professionals, bankers, and lists of the names and homes of engine-men (firefighters).

The Boston Directory appeared in 1789 and was published irregularly until 1825, when annual publication started.

You can

New York State Military Museum is Digitizing World War I Harlem Hellfighters Regiment Records

The 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters, was an infantry regiment of the United States Army that saw action in World War I and World War II. The Regiment consisted of African-Americans and African Puerto Ricans and was known for being the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Details about the regiment may be found on Wikipedia at and at

The New York State Military Museum is now digitizing the unit’s post-World War I records. The cards are from 1921 to 1949 and include names, ages, addresses, birthplaces, occupations and enlistment dates.

Scottish Institute 2015: October 18 – 25

The Scottish Institute provides a unique learning opportunity for professional and semi–professional genealogists who may or may not conduct research for clients with Scottish Ancestry. It will be held in Edinburgh on October 18 through 25.

This Institute is a small group experience, limited to 15 registrants. The Institute is for Professional and Semi-Professional genealogists who may or may not conduct research for clients with Scottish ancestry.

The week will offer speakers on several topics including the holdings of the GRO, NAS (combined as the NRS), palaeography, National Health archives, maps, newspapers, the holdings of the NLS, court records and the efforts of the Maxwells at Scottish Indexes, ancestral tourism and the Scottish Genealogy Network. The full agenda may be found at

Using WorldCat to Find Genealogy Books

WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services. It is an online library catalog that lets you look up items in libraries around the world. The items available include books, electronic documents, journals, microform, and audio and video recordings.

Best of all, WorldCat is available to everyone free of charge. WorldCat libraries provide access to their catalogs on the Web, where most people start their search for information. By using the catalog, you can search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world.

Polish Town Plans to Turn Jewish Cemetery into an Apartment Complex

A town in central Poland has prepared a development plan that will turn a Jewish cemetery into a residential complex with underground parking. The City Council in Grodzisk Mazowiecki held a public discussion on the plan on Monday. Following the meeting, Mayor Grzegorz Benedykcinski suspended action on the plan pending clarification of the cemetery’s boundaries. An historic cemetery gate with Hebrew inscriptions from the 19th century remains on the site.

The Jewish community of Warsaw and local activist Robert Augustyniak, who is not Jewish, have protested the plan.

Details may be found in an article in the Jerusalem Post at

COSCA Appoints Dr. Bruce Durie As Its Official Seannachaidh

The following announcement was written by the Council of Scottish Clans & Associations:

The Council of Scottish Clans & Associations is delighted and honored to announce the appointment of Dr. Bruce Durie, BSc (Hons) PhD OMLJ FSAScot FCollT FIGRS FHEA as COSCA’s Seannachaidh. Dr. Durie will be consulting on a range of genealogical and ancestral questions and projects for COSCA and its members.

“As Scottish Americans we celebrate our collective and personal heritage with great energy” said Susan McIntosh, President of The Council of Scottish Clans & Associations. “Having an accurate and complete understanding of people and events long past is critical in distinguishing serious pursuit of ethnic heritage from mere hobby. Bruce Durie brings an unquestioned professionalism and depth of knowledge on a huge range of topics and disciplines that are important to almost every Scottish American.”

Regarding his appointment and the opportunity to work more closely with COSCA, Dr. Durie stated “I am, for the record, chuffed to little mint balls and genuinely honoured”. Bruce’s unrivaled professional qualifications, his depth of knowledge, readiness to help and remarkable wit have made him a favorite of Scottish Americans.

Heredis for Windows and Macintosh available for 50% Off

The folks that produce Heredis genealogy software are having a sale to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Heredis and also to celebrate Christmas. The Windows and Macintosh products are both available at 50% off.

Heredis for Windows 2014 is now available for US$19.99 instead of US$39.99

Heredis for Windows 2014 – UPGRADE for anyone using an earlier version of Heredis for Windows sells for US$9.99 instead of US$19.99

Buy a Chromebook and Receive 1 Terabyte of Free Google Storage for Two Years

Are you thinking of storing a lot of files in a cloud-based file storage service, such as Google Drive? Here’s a deal for you: buy a Chromebook.

Google is now offering one terabyte of storage FREE of charge for two years to anyone who purchases a new Chromebook laptop computer and redeems the offer by January 31, 2015.

Get your calculators out and do the math: one terabyte of storage on Google Drive normally costs $9.99 per month. Multiply that by 24 months for a total of $239.76. Let’s round that up to $240 for simplicity’s sake.


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