Current Affairs

C.E. Brehm Memorial Public Library in Mt Vernon, Illinois to Expand Genealogy Department

The C.E. Brehm Memorial Public Library collects materials reflecting the general migration patterns of people in Southern Illinois. The primary focus is on Virginia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as Southern Illinois. Of secondary importance are materials covering other migration routes through Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. Now the Genealogy Department will be moved into a new, larger facility.

A Change in Access to the State of Maine’s Vital Records

The following announcement was written by the Maine State Archives and is available to all at

Per state law, all vital records – such as notices of birth, death and marriage – dating from 1892 to the present day, are no longer available at the Maine State Archives.*  The records dating from 1892 – 1922 were previously held at the Archives, but have now been digitally scanned, allowing the Vital Records office to issue these documents. As of May 1, 2015, Data, Research and Vital Statistics at the Vital Records office will issue ALL vital records from 1892 to present.

The Maine Department of the Secretary of State, Maine State Archives will continue to issue non-certified copies of documents prior to 1892.

Apple is Reportedly Teaming Up with Scientists to Study Your DNA

This is somewhat of a follow-up to yesterday’s article questioning what you want to happen to your stored DNA sample. Apple is reportedly planning to work with scientists to collect DNA for genetic research, as a part of its ResearchKit platform.

ResearchKit collects data from patients via the iPhone, and is said to be a secure portal. People with certain conditions can opt in to participate in various clinical studies and surveys (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) that can be evaluated and analyzed by medical researchers. The goal is to ultimately improve patients’ health and the ability to care for them. Indeed, those are lofty goals.

Woman Sentenced for Digging Up Father’s Grave for ‘Real Will’

Apparently the probate court did not satisfy this woman’s belief that she was shorted in her share of the inheritance after her father died in 2004. She dug up her father’s grave in a scene a prosecutor compared to an Edgar Allan Poe story. She wanted to find her father’s “real will” but found only vodka and cigarettes. The woman has been sentenced to 1 ½ to three years in prison.

Details may be found in the Washington Post at

It is a macabre story at best. However, I have to ask one question: why were there vodka and cigarettes in the casket?

Announcing the Formation of the Barbara Adams Genealogy Research Center in Sidney, Ohio

Dr. Richard Adams, along with his father, Dick Adams, announced Thursday afternoon that the family is donating $100,000 for the new Barbara Adams Genealogy Research Center, which will be located in the Ross Historical Center in Sidney, Ohio. During the same press conference, it was announced that the Shelby County Genealogical Society (SCGS) will have a permanent home at the historical center.

Experts to Use Ground-Penetrating Radar to Search Forgotten Cemetery

On May 30, an anthropology professor and students from Lawrence University in Appleton, will search an abandoned and mostly invisible cemetery in Fulton, Wisconsin, looking for graves using ground-penetrating radar technology. There are no records of anyone being buried on the property, which a previous landowner gave to the town as a cemetery in the 1840s.

Sometime in the early 1930s, after the land was designated a cemetery, whoever owned the nearby farmland started tilling the graveyard and planting crops. The remaining tombstones, if any, apparently were removed and destroyed.

You can read more in an article by Jake Magee in the GazetteXtra at

Follow-up: Mother Gave Birth to her Own Brother and Sister

I published an article in the April 9, 2015 newsletter about a woman who is a surrogate mother for her own mother, giving birth to her own half-brother and half-sister.

The picture (shown above) is a bit confusing when it describes the relationships. Newsletter reader Tim Lyons posted a comment at the end of the article:

“Genograms seem to be the best way to show the family tree. There are ‘standard’ symbols for surrogacy in Genograms suggested by the Multicultural Institute (available here: However, these do not seem particularly convenient in this case, as well as the problem that it is not actually clear what the solid and dotted lines represent (perhaps you have to pay for their new pdf).

Updated: Security Guard is Shot at U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters

Final Update: The two-hour ordeal seems to be over with one security guard dead, the perpetrator and one policeman wounded. The incident apparently happened following a domestic argument between a man and a woman and apparently had nothing to do with the Census Bureau.

Details may be found in a Washington Post article at


Update #2: Washington, D.C. police say the suspect who shot the Census Bureau headquarters guard also led police on a chase through the District of Columbia, firing at police on the wild trip. The suspect was eventually shot by police and reportedly was seriously wounded.

The incident reportedly started as an armed kidnapping. Police are now piecing together the details.


Update #1: FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident at the Census Bureau headquarters has “ended” and a loudspeaker announcement declared the all-clear at the facility.

Other authorities say a suspect was shot on H Street NE in the District after a dramatic chase and shootout there.

Still developing…

Mother Gave Birth to her Own Brother and Sister

OK, this gets confusing. Pay attention.

Ellen Bown, a woman from England, gave birth to all three of the children in the picture below. But only one, Maddy, is her ‘official’ child.

This graphic explains the complicated biological and adoptive relationships that are present in Ellen Brown’s (far right) family.

When it comes to Alex and Ruth, Ellen acted as a surrogate for her own mother, Jenny. Ellen used her own eggs, fertilised with her stepfather Tony’s sperm. So, biologically, twins Alex and Ruth are teenager Maddy’s half-brother and half-sister. But legally — having been adopted by Ellen’s mother Jenny and stepfather Tony a week after their birth — they are now her aunt and uncle.

Which brings with it another mind-boggling twist. Restores Access to Records

Irish Genealogy, a website at created by the Irish Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, offered people born or married in Ireland the ability to search for civil records such as birth certificates as part of their research into their heritage. The site was abruptly shut down last July after privacy advocates objected that the site displayed too much personal information including dates of birth and mothers’ maiden names, information which is frequently used as security questions for accounts such as online banking. See my earlier article at for the details.

The Irish Government has always insisted no laws were broken as all of the index books on the website can be legally viewed “offline” at the General Register Office’s research room on Werburgh Street in Dublin.

“I Un-Friend You and I Un-Marry You”

A New York County Supreme Court judge ruled that 26-year-old nurse Ellanora Baidoo can serve divorce papers to her soon-to-be ex-husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, via Facebook. The ruling is one of the first of its kind, and it comes at a time when even standard e-mail is still not “statutorily authorized” as a primary means of service, the judge wrote.

The Burger-King Wedding

I’d like to introduce you to the future Mr. and Mrs. Burger-King. It seems that Joel Burger and Ashley King of Illinois are getting married, finally uniting the two warring families of the fast food kingdom and bringing peace to our land. No, this isn’t a joke. A Burger-King wedding is happening. This should be an interesting entry in some genealogy databases! Details may be found at

I thought it was a nice touch that the engagement photos were taken at a local Burger King fast food restaurant.

Have Polish Ancestry? You may be Able to Obtain Polish (and European Union) Citizenship

Thanks to Poland’s liberal citizenship laws, thousands of people of Polish descent born in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Israel, South Africa and many other countries hold dual nationality and an EU passport. There are many advantages of having Polish citizenship now that Poland is a part of the European Union. With Polish citizenship, doors to living, studying and working in Europe are open.

An article in the Australian Times states:

America’s “National Library” is Woefully Out of Date According to the Government Accountability Office

The federal government’s watchdog agency released a critical report Tuesday on the Library of Congress’s long-standing failures to manage the complex computer systems that are vital to its mission. The result of a year-long investigation by the Government Accountability Office, the report reveals a work environment lacking central oversight and faults Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

Man Killed by Falling Headstone

You need to be careful in cemeteries. They are dangerous places.

A man decorating a gravesite for Easter died Monday morning when a headstone fell on him in Pennsylvania. Police say Stephen Woytack, 74, of Scranton was the man killed at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Throop. Throop police say Woytack was kneeling beside his mother-in-law’s headstone as his wife was on the other side, tying a cross on with string. The stone fell on Woytack, killing him. Contract Worker at National Records Center in St. Louis Fired for Mishandling Draft-Card Information

An employee of who was working at the Federal Records Center in St. Louis was fired for allegedly throwing out draft-card information, a federal administrator said.

Bryan McGraw, director of the National Personnel Records Center, said Friday that his staff recovered all the papers, some of them from a trash can. The incident on March 12 prompted the federal agency to halt contract work by Ancestry Inc., which operates as, at St. Louis and four other sites.

Details may be found in an article by Tim O’Neil in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at

Participate in the #1000pages Transcription Challenge from the US National Archives

David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, has challenged all history enthusiasts and citizen archivists to participate in the Transcription Challenge this week. The goal is to transcribe more than 1000 pages of historical documents.

Transcribing is fun, but also an important open government activity.

You can read more in David Ferriero’s blog at, then visit the Transcription Challenge webpage at for more information.

Free Genealogy Advisory Service in the National Library of Ireland 2015

The following announcement was written by the folks at Eneclann and at the Ancestor Network:

Eneclann and Ancestor Network achieve a ‘Texas Hat-trick’

Eneclann and Ancestor Network  are delighted to announce their return to the Genealogy Service in The National Library  from Wednesday, 18th of March 2015 for a fourth year running.

Our panel of genealogists will work alongside the Library’s own dedicated staff members – Fran Carroll and Christina McDonnell – to deliver the service.

Student Seeks to Return Identities to British War Evacuees

Claire Halstead is a PhD student at the Department of History, The University of Western Ontario. She is researching British children who were evacuated to Canada during the Second World War. She has created a database which traces 1,532 children who came through the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) and an additional 1,600 who came as ‘private evacuees.’

Roughly two million British children were displaced during the Second World War, shipped from London to Commonwealth countries where they would be safe from bombings. As part of Operation Pied Piper, the first wave of evacuations saw 660,000 children, mothers and hospital patients, as well as 100,000 teachers, moved in just three to four days. By the war’s end, the population of Greater London dropped from 8.7 million to 6.7 million.

Library and Archives Canada survey – sondage à Bibliothèque et Archives Canada

The following was written by the folks at Library and Archives Canada:

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is conducting a usability study of our to gather information about how visitors use our website. This study includes a question about digital content available on the LAC website. Please note that the identity of respondents is strictly confidential.

The study can be accessed at: until March 6th.


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