Current Affairs

Century-Old Photos Found In Stolen Car

The recovery of a stolen car has led to another mystery. Century-old items were found inside, but cannot be linked to any current theft case. Colorado Springs police say they found a black memory box inside the car containing photos, postcards and letters. Some of the photos date back to 1918.

The Colorado Springs Police Department crime analysts were able to trace the family to Elbert and Englewood, both in Colorado. They’ve come up three family names connected to the items: Moberly, Peterson and Smith. But now they’ve hit a dead end: detectives haven’t been able to link the box or family names to any current stolen property.

Can a genealogist help?

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center’s Renovation to Begin in Early November

fortwaynelibraryThe Allen County Public Library’s board of trustees has approved a $138,541 contract to reconfigure about 2,000 square feet of the downtown library’s second-floor Genealogy Center.

Staff members say that the space, as originally designed, no longer meets the needs of the way family history researchers do their work today. New technology means that more family history research is being done online with digitized records resulting in less need to access the same records on microfilm.

14 Volumes of Genealogical Lists of Irish-Jewish Families Presented to Dublin City

Fourteen rare volumes of genealogical lists of Irish-Jewish families in Ireland were presented to Dublin City Council’s Library and Archive today. The volumes were gifted by Stuart Rosenblatt, President of the Genealogical Society of Ireland. The set of 14 volumes presented by Stuart to the people of Dublin at Dublin City Library & Archive, is one of only five sets, and therefore is of immense rarity.

The Hunt for Heirs of a Photographer’s Collection Potentially Worth Millions

Vivian_MaierHere is a genealogy story in the making. Vivian Maier was an amateur street photographer whose brilliant work catapulted her to worldwide fame only after her death. The negatives of her photographs are now probably worth millions. Vivian had no children so the fortune should go to her closest relative: her long-lost brother Charles. However, he died nearly 40 years ago in a small town in central New Jersey. It is unknown if he had any children.

Genealogist Ann Marks, a former executive at Dow Jones & Co., said she hoped that going public with the information would prompt those who may have known Charles to come forward and shed more light on the Maier family history, perhaps staving off what could be a protracted legal fight in the slow-moving probate court. “To me the search to find heirs is as interesting as Vivian herself,” Marks, 57, said from her Long Island home.

FamilySearch opens a new Seattle Family Discovery Center

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

High-tech “Museum of You” concept for center guides visitors to discover, share, and preserve their histories and memories.

BELLEVUE, WA—FamilySearch International announces the grand opening of its Seattle Family Discovery Center, the first to open outside its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Based in Bellevue, the center offers interactive experiences for visitors of all ages to discover, share, and preserve family histories and memories. It is free to the public. Find out more online at

At the Seattle Discovery Center in Bellevue, Washington, Trace Farmer of Seattle, Washington, discovers 4,586 people share his first name while using the “Discover My Story” experience.

At the Seattle Discovery Center in Bellevue, Washington, Trace Farmer of Seattle, Washington, discovers 4,586 people share his first name while using the “Discover My Story” experience.

Visitors to the center are provided with a tablet computer as a personal guide to interface with large touch screens, where they learn more about themselves, view family origins, and discover how ancestors may have lived and even dressed. Data used for the interactive experiences is drawn from online data at and select partners.

Certificate of Irish Heritage Abandoned

CertificateofIrishHeritageThe Certificate of Irish Heritage was perhaps a good idea even though it always was a bit controversial. It was basically a scheme for the Irish government to raise a bit of money from Irish descendants around the world. The certificates were issued to descendants of Irish citizens who don’t qualify for Irish citizenship themselves, but are willing to pay up €40 (about $44.50 US) for a piece of paper to prove their Irish roots, or €120 (about $133 US) with a frame.

More than 82,000 FamilySearch Volunteers “Fuel the Find” for People Worldwide

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

Family Search LogoSALT LAKE CITY UTAH–A total of 82,039 volunteers helped to “Fuel the Find” during FamilySearch’s Worldwide Indexing Event, held August 7-14, 2015. Though short of the goal of 100,000 participants, the effort produced a number of remarkable achievements, among them an 89% increase in non-English language indexing activity. Volunteers produced more than 12.2 million indexed (transcribed) and 2.3 million arbitrated (reviewed) records during the weekly event (See infographic). As with all records indexed by FamilySearch indexing volunteers, those indexed during the global event will be made freely searchable at

For the Worldwide Indexing Event, FamilySearch sought volunteers who could decipher records recorded in a variety of languages, with a focus on French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Volunteers from all over the world exceeded expectations by processing over 2,183,212 non-English records including 1,380,684 in Spanish, 147,568 in Portuguese, 226,734 in French, and 116,835 in Italian.

Millionaire Property Developer Used Children’s Gravestones to Build a Patio

Here is another “misuse of tombstones” story. You would think people would have more common sense than to desecrate graves.

Kim Davies took tombstones from a derelict chapel and cemented them to the walls of Llanwenarth House in Abergavenny, South Wales, where Cecil Frances Alexander penned the famous hymn. Planners were horrified when they saw the ‘decorative stone plaques’ had been used as part of a gaudy £1m makeover to the Grade II-listed home, turning it into a ‘palace for an Iron Curtain dictator’.

One of the 150-year-old gravestones was even engraved with the names of three brothers and a sister who all died while under the age of four.

Wanted to Rent: New Home for 19,000 Arizona Genealogy Research Documents

A couple of weeks ago the Secretary of State of Arizona, who oversees the State Library, made a decision to close the the Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection on July 31. It is (or was) a vast collection of more than 20,000 volumes and file folders full of research notes, many of them irreplaceable. The decision was made with no public hearing or time for comments from Arizona citizens.

The Secretary of State apparently made the decision without knowing where all the books, and other volumes could be stored. The collection is now in limbo. (See my earlier article at for details.

Now the Arizona secretary of state’s office and genealogists are seeking a home for 19,000 books, files and documents that have not made the move to the state’s new genealogy library. And they’re racing against an Aug. 31 deadline to remove the collection from its longtime home on the third floor of the state Capitol addition.

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.”

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”!

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.

Genealogy Department to Open at Salem (Oregon) Public Library

The public is invited Saturday, Aug. 8, to an open house for the new genealogy department at Salem Public Library. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. on the first floor behind the information desk, where the genealogy department is located.

The genealogy department, staffed by volunteers from the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society, will officially open Monday. If you live in the Salem area and are interested in being a genealogy volunteer, the the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society would love to talk with you!

The Secret of Erikoussa: The Reunion

Three months ago I wrote at about how MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has been working closely with Emmy Award winning writer, producer and author, Yvette Manessis Corporon. About a year ago Yvette published a book called When The Cypress Whispers. The book is fictional but some of it is based on true stories she grew up hearing from her grandmother, including the secret of the Greek Island of Erikoussa.

When the Nazis invaded Corfu, most of the Jewish citizens were killed, but a tailor by the name of Savas (shown here) was able to escape with his three daughters, and a girl called Rosa, to the nearby Island of Erikoussa. Savas had customers and acquaintances on the island, but what was incredible was that the entire island joined forces – at risk of death – and gave refuge to Savas and his girls, and kept their identity secret from the Nazis, for the duration of the war.

Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage Founder and CEO, found the descendants in a true example of genealogy detective work at it’s finest.

A Proposal to Solve the Relocation and Downsizing of the Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection

Warning: This article contains personal opinions!

Two days ago, I republished an article from Judy Russell’s blog, The Legal Genealogist, entitled “Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection is Threatened.” The article explained that a “major genealogical collection is under major and imminent threat of being lost.”

The article also stated, “Unless something changes — and fast — the Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection — a vast collection of more than 200,000 volumes, many of them irreplaceable — is about to be lost to public access.” (Note: The number of books affected was later adjusted to 20,000.)

According to an article by Mary Jo Pitzl in today’s AZCentral at, a news site owned and operated by the Gannett Company, closure is no longer a threat. It is to be a fact. She writes:

Are There 9,000 Unmarked Graves in Huntsville’s Slave Cemetery?

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

Near Huntsville, Alabama’s downtown business district, Glenwood Cemetery is an oasis of green, with neatly manicured grass and groupings of shade trees. It’s a large cemetery: 1,148 tombstones mark burial sites of slaves, as well as the city’s most prominent black citizens. But Huntsville Cemetery Director Joy McKee believes the number is only the tip of the iceberg and there could be as many as 10,000 people buried in Glenwood. With the help of the community, she plans to find out who they are.

Cemetery Worker Stole Veterans’ Gravestones to Pave Garage and Shed Floors

A worker at the Rhode Island Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery was accused of stealing more than 150 granite gravestones to pave the floor of his garage and shed, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island and federal court documents. The worker, Kevin Maynard, 59, was charged with felony theft of government property after the Rhode Island State Police got a tip.

Maynard was arraigned in U.S. District Court on Monday, where he pleaded “not guilty.”

Wanted: A New Home for News, Data and Information from San Diego’s Past

The San Diego Daily Transcript, which has covered local business, law and real estate for 130 years, announced Wednesday that it will cease operations next month. The final edition will be published Sept. 1, and the newspaper will close Sept. 21, publisher Robert Loomis said.

Loomis also said, “We hope a local university or library will accept the donation of our past editions and possibly even the web database so the news, data and information from the past can be a resource for future San Diego researchers and business people,” Loomis said. “It has been a great ride, one more time, our sincere thanks to our employees, and the many advertisers and subscribers who have supported us during the last 130 years.”

Winnetka, Illinois, Library To Close Genealogy Room

The Winnetka-Northfield Public Library Board of Trustees on July 20 voted unanimously to close the library’s genealogy room, despite protests from residents and people from neighboring communities. While the genealogy collection has been a fixture at the library since 1963, the library will close the room for good on July 30 with plans to relocate the collection outside of the library.

Details may be found in an article by by Emily Spectre in the Daily North Shore web site at

A Scavenger Hunt in the Cemeteries

Here is an idea for your local genealogy society or local historical society: a scavenger hunt.

John McVicar of Cambridge, Ontario, created an elaborate scavenger hunt of gravesites and monuments of famous people buried across Cambridge. He knew it would grab the interest of a few fellow genealogy and local history enthusiasts, but he didn’t think over 200 people would get involved.

It was so successful that McVicar has now pieced together two scavenger hunts: one in Cambridge and another one using cemeteries in Kitchener and Waterloo. Participants are asked to find the monuments or gravesites listed in the scavenger hunt guide and answer the accompanying questions.


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