Posts By Dick Eastman

NGS Announces a New Course in the American Genealogical Studies Series: Beyond the Basics

The following announcement was written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

NGS_LogoARLINGTON, VA, August 17, 2015: The National Genealogical Society proudly announces the release of its newest American Genealogical Studies course, Beyond the Basics. This course joins The Basics and Guide to Documentation and Source Citation in the series of online courses developed by NGS to help those interested in discovering their roots.

Beyond the Basics offers advanced genealogical training. During the course, you will learn how to conduct a more systematic genealogical investigation as you build your family tree. Its modules are designed to challenge you as you learn how to read, write, decipher, and cite numerous genealogical documents. You will expand your proficiency by collecting, interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating genealogical information. You also will hone your skills as you write genealogical reports.

Longreads Website “The Social Historian” Officially Launches

The following announcement was written by Barbara J Starmans:

August 16, 2015 – The Social Historian at is a longform story website featuring social history themed articles from across the centuries and around the world.

What is Social History?

Social History is not concerned with politics and wars, or kings and presidents, but rather with the lives of ordinary people. It is a view of history from the bottom up, rather than from the top down.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Breaks Ground for First-of-Its-Kind St. George FamilySearch Library

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

Family Search LogoST. GEORGE, UT (AUGUST 15, 2015)—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its nonprofit subsidiary FamilySearch International broke ground today on a first-of-its-kind facility in St. George, Utah. When complete, the state-of-the-art St. George FamilySearch Library will offer incredible free ancestry research services and fun, family-friendly experiences that invite personal and family discovery. Elder Allan F. Packer of the Church’s First Quorum of the Seventy presided over the groundbreaking ceremony along with local civic and faith leader guests. The new facility is projected to open in the fall of 2016.

MacFamilyTree 7.6 and MobileFamilyTree 7.6 Have Been Released

Synium Software has released a major new version of MacFamilyTree 7 and MobileFamilyTree 7. Both offer a new source management, the person analysis report, and a new fractal ancestor chart. In addition to these new features, version 7.6 also comes with lots of other improvements.

According to the announcement:

MacFamilyTree 7.6 is a free update for all customers of MacFamilyTree 7 and can be downloaded or updated at the Mac App Store. For new customers MacFamilyTree 7.6 is offered with 50% and sells for just US$24.99 until August 30th. Same applies to MobileFamilyTree 7.6, which is a free update for all MobileFamilyTree 7 customers and US$7.99 for new customers.

Buy MacFamilyTree for US$24.99:
Buy MobileFamilyTree for US$7.99:

New source management (Mac & iOS)

Attention Wisconsin and northern Illinois Genealogical and Historical Societies: Marquette University is Throwing Away Large Microfilm Collections!

The Wisconsin Genealogical Society’s Facebook page states: “Attention Wisconsin and northern Illinois genealogical and historical societies with your own libraries!! Marquette University is discarding large microfilm backruns of the Chicago Tribune (1849-2009), the New York Times (1857-2009), the Washington Post (1978-2009), and the Times of London (1785-2015). Rather than just dumping these films into a landfill, we’re trying to find a good home for them. They are FREE for the hauling.”

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) to Publish The Mayflower Descendant with Winter 2016 Issue

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

August 14, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has announced that, as the result of an agreement with the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants (MSMD), NEHGS will assume a ten-year stewardship of the venerable journal The Mayflower Descendant. First published in 1899 by George Ernest Bowman, under the auspices of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, the journal is one of the most highly respected scholarly journals in the field of genealogy. NEHGS plans to continue twice-a-year publication, winter and summer, available by subscription, with a winter 2016 issue to be published at the end of the 2015 calendar year.

An editorial board of NEHGS experts will manage publication of the biannual journal, working in collaboration with leading scholars in the field ensuring that the high standards of the journal are maintained.

New Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

This week’s Findmypast Friday marks the release of fascinating British army records from the War of 1812 and the First World War, baptism records from the English county of Northumberland, a list of Scottish Presbyterians who signed the National Covenant to defend their faith during the 17th century, a valuable Irish census substitute and the first ever Australian census.

Northumberland Baptisms

Over 39,000 records have been added to our collection of Northumberland and Durham parish records. The records not only reveal your ancestor’s name but also the names of their parents’, their occupations and where they lived. The records include baptisms from Presbyterian, Independent, Wesleyan, Methodist and Anglican parishes. The collection now contains records from over 350 parishes and villages.

British Army, Casualty Index War of 1812

Forces War Records Releases New Online Database of British Prisoners Of War Held in Japan or Japanese-Occupied Territory

On the eve of the 70th VJ day anniversary, Forces War Records has released a new online collection of 56,000 records listing the Imperial Prisoners of War held in Japan (Original Source: Transcribed from the National Archive reference WO392/23-26 British Prisoners Of War Held In Japan Or Japanese-Occupied Territory). The following announcement was written by Forces War Records :

In 1945, 37,583 British and Commonwealth soldiers were released from Japanese captivity and Forces War Records has their details.

During the course of the Second World War, over 140,000 Allied soldiers were captured by the Armed Forces of the Empire of Japan. These men were kept in barbaric conditions, utilised as forced labour, tortured for information and used for medical experiments. Japan, while a signatory of the 1929 Geneva Convention, never ratified it and thus ignored it. Treatment of Allied prisoners was so poor that over 30,000 died in captivity. Many of the guards responsible were subsequently tried for war crimes.

(+) Why Reinvent the Wheel?

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

WARNING: This article contains personal opinions.

One thing that constantly puzzles me is why do genealogists keep re-inventing the same wheels? In fact, we have the tools today to reduce this duplication of effort immediately and perhaps to even drive it to zero within a few years. If we do that, the result will be peer-reviewed, high-quality genealogy information available to everyone.

For decades, the standard method of genealogy research has been to look at original records as well as compiled genealogies, looking for information about each ancestor, one fact at a time. In modern times, we typically have used IMAGES of the original records published on microfilm and, more recently, images that appear on our computer screens. We then supplement these original records with compiled genealogies from many sources, including printed books, online web sites containing user-contributed information, and even GEDCOM files found online. Experienced genealogists also understand the importance of VERIFYING each piece of information, regardless of where it was obtained. Yes, even original hand-written records made at the time of an event may contain errors.

Compiling a genealogy typically requires hundreds of hours of work, sometimes thousands of hours, sometimes great expenditures of money, and, when original records have not been easily available locally, we often spend significant amounts of money on travel.

To be kind, I will simply say that the results have been variable. Some skilled and careful researchers have produced accurate and carefully documented genealogies. Other genealogists, typically those with less-than-perfect research skills or motivation, have produced compiled genealogies containing errors. A few have produced genealogies that I can only describe as “fairy tales.”

An Easy Way To Send Confidential Information Online

One of my interests is security and today I wrote An Easy Way To Send Confidential Information Online. However, it is not a genealogy article so I will not publish it in this genealogy newsletter. If you have an interest in sending secure email messages, you might want to read my article in the PrivacyBlog at

More than 1,000 biographies posted on

The following is a press release from

More than 1,300 biographical sketches are now freely accessible at Each biography identifies the original source, long out-of-print books such as Paddock’s History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, published in 1906 by Lewis Publishing Company in Chicago.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Lewis and other publishing companies sent representatives across America to compile local histories and interview area residents. To finance the printing, representatives sold pre-publication copies. These volumes are sometimes known as “mug books.” Those wanting to see their biography in print had to purchase the book in advance.

DNA said to Prove President Warren Harding had Love Child

Thanks to DNA, it is time to correct the history books. Genetic tests have solved one of the enduring mysteries of presidential history and offer insights into the secret life of America’s 29th president.

I won’t go into all the details as you can read the full story at However, the story does raise two questions for genealogists:

1. Will future technology prove something that we would like to keep hidden today?

2. How many of the genealogy records we have collected today erroneously list the wrong biological parent?

Organize Your Cloud-Based Services with ExpanDrive

I have been using a number of cloud-based file storage services for years, including Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, SFTP, Amazon S3, and a few others. Keeping all these services organized has been a bit of a problem. After all, each service has its own user interface, and switching from one to another requires at least a few seconds to refresh my memory of how each service operates. Now I have found a piece of software that treats each service as a separate drive on any Windows or Macintosh computer. I can also use multiple accounts on the same cloud service. If I have multiple Google Drives (say, one for me and one for my friend and one for my daughter and maybe another account for work) I can access all of them from my computer simultaneously.

ExpanDrive lets you access a wide array of remote server types as if they were local USB drives. You can then open, edit, and save files to these remote services from within your favorite programs, even when they are on a server half a world away. All of your present applications installed in your computer can transparently use that remote data.

Another use of ExpanDrive is to save space on a computer whose hard drive is getting full. I’ll explain that in a minute. to Issue Third Dividend Since Sale to Permira in 2012

In business news, has announced refinancing of credit facility. Permira, the European private equity firm, appears to have gotten back nearly all of its investment in LLC after nearly three years. said on August 10 that it is in the market with $835 million in loans that it plans to use to repay debt and fund a cash dividend to its shareholders (along with paying fees and expenses).

Do You Speak Like Your Ancestors? If You are from Raleigh, the Answer is “Probably Not.”

For more than half a century, the familiar Southern accent has been fading in Raleigh, North Carolina. Its disappearance has been so slow and so subtle that locals may not even have noticed. But for Robin Dodsworth, an associate professor in sociolinguistics at NC State, the decline tells the story of rapid social change across the urban South.

Dodsworth discovered that the vowels of speakers born between 1920 and 1950 were remarkably stable. Then, in the middle of the 20th century, Southern linguistic features began to steadily decline. But why?

Twile Converts Family Trees into Visual Timelines

The following announcement was written by the folks who produce the Twile cloud-based service:

The online genealogy tool now supports GEDCOM import to automatically create a timeline of a family’s history

Sheffield, UK, August 10, 2015 – Twile ( has added a GEDCOM import feature to its online genealogy product, which lets family historians create timelines of the events in their ancestors’ lives.

“GEDCOM support has been the number one request from our users, many of which have family trees with thousands of people on them – they really didn’t want to manually add them all into another tool,” said Twile co-founder, Paul Brooks.

GEDCOM (which stands for Genealogical Data Communication) is a standard file format for migrating family tree data between different genealogy software services.

Another Interesting Obituary: Dorothy McElhaney

I have published several humorous obituaries in past newsletters. However, a newly-published obit for 104-year-old Dorothy McElhaney is interesting for different reasons. Obviously written by Dorothy before her death, it is more of a celebration of her life.

You can read the obituary at

Online Petition to Save the “OLD” “Classic” User Interface

An on-line petition has been started that is directed to Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of The petition pleads for the retention of the Classic/Old interface, at least as a permanent option for people who prefer it.

The online petition states (in part):

Dear Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer, CEO@

We, the undersigned, hereby sign this petition to acknowledge that we, do not like the look, style, color, and format and prefer the use of “Classic” versus NEW ancestry.

We the undersigned who have signed, liked or shared the following are NOT resistant to change. The recent change of “Classic” to NEW ancestry is the worst change that has ever made to its website. HELP SAVE Ancestry~com “Classic”!

New FamilySearch Collections: Week of August 5, 2015

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

This week millions of indexed birth, marriage, and death records from Italy and Mexico were published online. These free collections are the direct results of the online indexing volunteer community. Discover your ancestry reaching back as far as the 1500’s in new collections such as the Italy Bari Civil Registration (State Archive) 1809-1908,  Mexico Distrito Federal Catholic Church Records 1514-1970, and Mexico Guanajuato Catholic Church Records 1519-1984. Explore the full list of new collections online below.

Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland Student Records are now Available but Not Online

Starting in 1901 under a Trust Deed signed by Andrew Carnegie, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland aims to provide “funds for improving and extending the opportunities for scientific study and research in the Universities of Scotland.” The Trust has provided grants to students wishing to attend university. Until the introduction of government grants, the Carnegie Trust was the main source of support for students of low income backgrounds. As such, the Carnegie Trust splayed an important role in increasing social mobility and educational attainment for generations of Scots.

The trust always kept index cards recording the details of its grant recipients and recently has created a database with the scanned cards. Each record provides the name, place of residence, course studied and university attended as well as the total amount paid on behalf of the student to their university.


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