Current Affairs

FamilySearch Photo Duplication Services to be Discontinued

According to a recently-updated wiki page at https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Photoduplication_Services:

“Photo duplication Services will be discontinued as of December 5, 2014. As of this date, existing orders will be completed, but new orders will not be accepted.

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 http://www.breakingnews.ie/showbiz/monty-python-track-tops-funeral-charts-651879.html.

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.

How to Find a Lot of Personal Information about Anyone

Subtitle: How Anyone can Find a Lot of Personal Information about You

NOTE: This article is being cross-posted both here and in my new Privacy Blog as this subject seems applicable to both.

Numerous online sites have been available for years that sell personal information about you or about anyone else in the United States. However, one site seems to take this “service” to new heights: InstantCheckmate.com. The service isn’t free, but it is low-cost. The service is available to anyone with a credit card and an Internet connection.

Instant Checkmate collects and sells an amazing amount of information about U.S. residents, including criminal records, court appearances (even where the person was judged innocent or if the case was dropped), charitable contributions, sex offender databases, information you provided on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more), professional and business licenses, real estate transactions, and even appraisals of real estate owned, voter registration records, employment records, marriage records, birth records (including birth records of the children of the person in question), residential addresses, and more.

When I did a search on my own name, Instant Checkmate found all sorts of information about me, including my FAA-issued pilot’s license.

Question: Do you want others to know all about you?

Généalogie et archives Saint-Laurent has Moved to the Cornwall (Ontario) Public Library

Généalogie et archives Saint-Laurent was established in 1986 and operated from the Nativity Church basement. It is the only genealogy centre in this region. It was funded by donations and memberships. Earlier this year, officials with the Généalogie et archives Saint-Laurent signed a lease agreement with the Cornwall Public Library, with the approval of city hall, that will allow for more than 15,000 documents and associated paraphernalia to move to its new home in the massive basement on Second Street West.

Irish Minister Admonishes the Data Protection Commissioner over the Handling of Her Department’s Genealogy Site

Irish Genealogy, a website at http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/en created by the 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. After the country’s data protection commissioner warned that potentially sensitive personal details were available to all, the Irish government closed part of the site. You can read about that incident in my earlier article published July 21, 2014, at http://goo.gl/NXG5U8. Now Irish Minister Heather Humphreys has expressed concern at how the Data Protection Commissioner handled the issue relating to her department’s genealogy site.

While civil records on births, marriages and deaths are public records, they had never before been searchable in such an extensive way online for free. Billy Hawkes, who was data protection commissioner at the time, said his office had been consulted about the genealogy site in the context of putting up registers over 100 years old. But the presence of “live” records up to and including 2013 had come as a “total shock” to his office.

Create a Permanent Living Legacy that Memorializes the Passing of a Loved One

Here is a different kind of “cemetery.” Well, not so much a cemetery as a memorial. The goal is to directly rehabilitate and rebuild the dying ocean reefs and, in turn, add new habitat to the marine environment. For families and individuals that choose cremation, Eternal Reefs offers a unique memorial choice that replaces cremation urns and ash scatterings with a permanent environmental living legacy.

MyHeritage’s Institutional Service is now Available at all local FamilySearch Family History Centers and Libraries

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

FamilySearch and MyHeritage announced today that the MyHeritage Library Edition™ is now available for free at every FamilySearch Family History Center and Family History Library in the world. MyHeritage’s new institutional service is a powerful online service that provides libraries and educational facilities with instant access to centuries of history in billions of global historical documents.

FamilySearch operates more than 4,700 Family History Centers in 134 countries. The centers are dedicated family history spaces, open to anyone with an interest in genealogical research. Visitors enjoy free access to historical records and personal assistance from staff to help them in their search for information.

Create a Customized Genealogy Family Tree Board Game

Luanga Nuwame doesn’t play games. He creates them. His latest offering is a new Family Tree Board Game Course. The online course costs $39 and will provide families step-by-step instructions on how to create a board game featuring all immediate family members and ancestry.

Quoting from the online course’s web site:

“There is always more you can learn about your loved ones and now there is a fun and personalized way to do that! More importantly, current and future generations will learn more about you and your immediate family in a way that will be cherished and enjoyed through get-together interaction.

“This course kit will provide you with the instructions to complete a family tree board game that will honor YOUR family members and linage based on the direct feedback of those you care about. The final result will be a time capsule, scrapbook and game all in one!

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Proposes to Expand Requests for Tombstone Markers on Behalf of Deceased Veterans

On October 1, 2014, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published, in the Federal Register, a proposed rule to amend the existing definition of eligible applicants by expanding the types of individuals who may request headstones or markers on behalf of decedents. The amendment addresses concerns that the existing applicant definition is too restrictive and results in identified Veteran gravesites going unmarked.

Mesoloft will Scatter Your Ashes from the Edge of Space

Some people choose to honor the memory of a lost loved one by doing something creative with their ashes. What’s more creative than taking their remains to the very top of the Earth’s atmosphere and releasing them? That’s what Mesoloft is offering to those who want to say goodbye in a way that no one will ever forget.

Mesoloft makes it possible to honor the dream and memory of your departed loved one by lifting the cremated remains of a beloved family member into the magnificent beauty of near space, almost twenty miles above our planet. Once released, the ashes will soar and drift in the upper reaches of the earth’s atmosphere for weeks and months circulating the globe. Over time the ashes will return as dust to earth, settling on mountain tops, desert dunes, oceans, lakes, and rivers. Some will pass through clouds, returning to the surface of the planet in the form of raindrops or snowflakes as water vapor condenses on the particles of ash.

Research at DAR Library Now Free to the Public

The following announcement was written by the folks at the DAR Library:

The DAR Library, one of the country’s premier genealogical research facilities, is now FREE to all researchers. In October, the entrance fee for use of the Washington, D.C. family history library was eliminated as part of ongoing efforts to make the extensive DAR genealogical resources more accessible to the public.

“We are so pleased to be able to now offer the DAR Library resources free of charge,” says Eric Grundset, Director of the DAR Library. “We invite and encourage anyone who may have been deterred in the past by the usage fee to come visit and explore our vast holdings. You never know what you may be able to discover about your family at the DAR Library.”

Wells Fargo Unit Banks on Family History

Want to have professional genealogists prepare a complete family history profile for you, showing your ancestry back at least four generations? The report will include a dossier of pictures and historical documents, from naturalization papers to passenger lists. The reports are available at no extra charge.

Well, there is one hitch: the private bankers at Abbot Downing, Wells Fargo’s advisory for clients, will do this only for customers who have $50 million in assets or more.

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth receives $500,000 to support Portuguese-American Archives

A $500,000 bequest from Otilia Ferreira will be used to create a fund for scholarships and Luso-American research at UMass Dartmouth. Ferreira announced the gift at the five-year anniversary of the Ferreira Mendes Portuguese-American Archives on October 9, according to a university news release.

In 2005, Ferreira made the lead gift to help create the archives which is now the largest collection of historical material documenting the experience of Portuguese immigrants in the United States. The holdings include genealogical records, newspapers, books, recordings, family photographs, scrapbooks and correspondence that document social history.

Indiana to Digitize 13 Million Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates

The Indiana Commission on Public Records has approved a contract with Ancestry.com to digitize more than 13 million birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage records, Gov. Mike Pence announced Thursday. The birth and death certificates date back to the early 1900s, according to a news release, and the state’s marriage records are from 1958 through 2005.

The digitized versions of those records older than 75 years will start becoming available to Hoosiers in 2015, the release said, with completion expected by 2016.

Buy Your Very Own Connecticut Village

Do you have ancestors who lived in Johnsonville, Connecticut? If so, you might want to commemorate their lives by purchasing the entire village. Of course, you don’t have to have ancestral connections. Anyone may now purchase the abandoned village for “only” $800,000. If you know anything about Connecticut real estate prices, you might agree that is a bargain. Of course, it is a “fixer upper.” The property has been deserted for years.

Part of East Haddam, Conn., Johnsonville—120 miles southwest of Boston, 30 minutes from Hartford—was once home to the bustling Neptune mill (destroyed in 1972 by a lightning strike), which harnessed power from the Moodus River for twine production. In the 1960s, the village inhabitants left the area. Today, it is an abandoned 19th century village with eight structures of historic significance, including including a general store, carriage house, and the mansion of village namesake Emory Johnsonn.

BCG Welcomes New Officers and Reconfigures a Requirement

The following was written by the Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

BOARD FOR CERTIFICATION OF GENEALOGISTS DISCUSSES CERTIFICATION, WELCOMES JEANNE LARZALERE BLOOM, CG, AS NEW PRESIDENT

Genealogists seeking board certification will have a clearer idea of portfolio requirements following the October 12 meeting of the trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists in Salt Lake City. The Board also welcomed a new executive committee and two new members. Several trustees volunteered for a newly enlarged marketing committee. Trustee Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, made a generous donation to fund a full year of BCG’s new free public instructional webinars.

To emphasize the fact that not all who apply for certification take clients, the fifth required item in an application portfolio will now be called “Research Report Prepared for Another” rather than “Research Report Prepared for a Client.” The item’s requirements remain the same: research and report on a genealogical problem authorized by someone else that does not involve the applicant’s family, showing “analysis of the problem, in-depth and skillful use of a range of sources, and recommendations for further work based on your findings.”

Hawaii State Archives Go Digital

Hawaii’s state archives are going digital. Soon, from the comfort of your home you can check records that include your genealogy and marriage licenses.

Paper state government records have been preserved at the archives for decades. However, for years now the government has gone paperless for many documents and that became a problem. A team is now working on how to store the digital data properly to make it available for everyone online.

Travelling the World by Digitizing Cemeteries

This sounds like a great project that will benefit many other genealogists. Michael Kerr and his wife, Sabrina Rowe, decided to leave the comfort of their home, and bicycle across Europe, stopping to photograph entire cemeteries on the way. All the photos are being shared with the community for free on MyHeritage and on BillionGraves.com.

Michael and Sabrina have always wanted to travel, but they craved a deeper experience than just a short vacation that they were normally able to take once a year. In May 2011, they packed up and stored the contents of their Montreal apartment, and embarked on their journey. They planned to travel by bike to improve their fitness, and to enable them to see beautiful surroundings more easily.

Combating IRS Refund Fraud: The Next Profile in Courage?

The following was written by Fred Moss of the Records Preservation and Access Committee, a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies:

The continuing vulnerability for the IRS online filing system to refund fraud by identity theft has been much in the news in recent days.

It was the focus of the CBS 60 Minutes broadcast Sunday evening, the 21st of September which featured interviews ranging from the fourth IRS commissioner in the last two years, film clips from the Congressional testimonies of his predecessors, and “expert” testimony from a former identity thief.

http://www.cbs.com/shows/60_minutes/video/RzmZGQTr7RPHG2pfxMj4ufrsdTRnQXPd/biggest-irs-scam-around-identity-tax-refund-fraud/

The broadcast also anticipated the public release on Monday, the 22nd of September of a Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) Report responding to a request from key members of Congress entitled: “Identity Theft – Additional Actions Could Help IRS Combat the Large, Evolving Threat of Refund Fraud.”

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-633

What GAO Found

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