Current Affairs

Thomasville (Georgia) Genealogical Library to Relocate to Thomas University

Thomas University’s Main Campus will soon be the home of the Thomasville Genealogical, History and Fine Arts Library. Formerly located on Broad Street in downtown Thomasville, the library will be relocated to the Eugenia P. Smitha Building on TU’s Main Campus at the intersection of Pinetree Boulevard and Millpond Road.

Two Women, Same Name, Same Date of Birth, Same Social Security Number

If you find that someone else is using your Social Security Number, the first thing you think of is identity theft. However, that’s not always true. Ask two different women in Florida. Joanna Rivera and Joannie Rivera only recently discovered the problem, according to a report this week, but in the meantime it’s caused no end of trouble for them. Credit applications have been denied; tax returns have been rejected.

1990, two Florida hospitals created the same record for two babies with similar first names, the same last name and the same date of birth, and the administration gave them both the same Social Security number.

Stolen Ontario Parish Safe is Returned

Good news! While thieves broken into St-Joachim Catholic Church in Chute-à-Blondeau, Ontario, in late September and carried away the safe, that safe has now been recovered. Bad news: the church’s parish registers kept in the safe have been damaged.

The safe contained a small amount of money and all the church’s hand-written parish registers, including christening and marriage records. In some cases the missing papers traced the same families for 130 years as generations lived, married and died there. See my earlier article about the theft at

On Friday, police in Grenville, Quebec, found the safe lying in a ditch. It wasn’t in good shape after being forced open, and was also lying in water. The hand-written record books were soaked.

Could new European Digital Privacy Laws Hurt Holocaust Genealogy Research?

European draft legislation aimed at protecting citizens’ private data in the digital age may pose a threat to Holocaust research, according to an international body tasked with promoting remembrance of the Holocaust. The EU’s preliminary General Data Protection Regulation, which is expected to pass into law this year, is part of a comprehensive European push for privacy protection that has included initiatives such an online “right to be forgotten” and efforts to keep the digital lives of Europeans on local servers.

Stafford, England’s William Salt Library to become a £4m Archive

The William Salt Library in Stafford town centre, a charitable library run on behalf of the William Salt Library Trust, is to become part of a new £4 million records and history centre under proposals to be discussed next week. The contents of the library will be moved to the neighbouring Staffordshire Record Office which is being extended under the scheme. Both buildings are due to be refurbished and a link created between them where community activities, family history workshops and exhibitions would be held.

Win a Kindle from MyHeritage

From the MyHeritage Blog:

Do you have a family history discovery story that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it!

Looking deeper into your roots and learning more about your family’s past can help strengthen family connections and uncover previously unknown relatives. Many of our users have shared what they’ve uncovered and learned about their families, using MyHeritage.

Take a look at our featured stories to see some incredible discoveries. Barbara followed a MyHeritage SmartMatch to uncover her mother’s side of the family and, as a result, received priceless family correspondence. Brian was able to use MyHeritage to trace his family tree back to 690 AD and he discovered that his ninth great-grandfather was, in fact, The Duke of Argyll!

Missing: a 40-year-old Time Capsule Missing In Brevard County, Florida

Attention all residents and former residents of Indialantic, Florida. If you remember where the time capsule was buried in 1976, the Hoover Middle School alumni would like to talk with you.

A tiny time capsule, filled with a 8 mm camera, newspaper clippings and more school mementos from the mid-1970s was buried on the former junior high school property to commemorate the nation’s bicentennial year. They planned on opening the time capsule in 1996 — 20 years after it was put in the ground. There’s but one problem: the time capsule isn’t buried where they thought it was.

Ancestral Background can be Determined by Fingerprints

Really? That seems unlikely but a study at North Carolina State University finds that it is possible to identify an individual’s ancestral background based on his or her fingerprint characteristics — a discovery with significant applications for law enforcement and anthropological research.

The First Digital Archive on Moon

I have written before about the need for off-site storage but I never meant this far off-site! Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Lunar Missions Ltd, the company behind the global, inclusive, not-for-profit crowd-funded Lunar Mission One, have signed a deal to send the first digital storage payload to the Moon. The payload will support Lunar Mission One’s ‘Footsteps on the Moon’ campaign, launched yesterday, which invites millions of people to include their footsteps – in addition to images, video and music – in a digital archive of human life that will be placed on the moon during Astrobotic’s first lunar mission.

The announcement at gives very few details but the words “invites millions of people to include their footsteps” sure sounds like they will accept genealogy information.

An Ontario Parish Has Its History Stolen

Three thefts from churches in Hawkesbury, Ontario have occurred this summer. The most recent theft occurred at the St-Joachim Catholic Church. Thieves stole a safe from the church. It contained a small amount of cash but, more important to genealogists, it also contained the church’s parish registers. It’s all the files of the parish, including christening and marriage records. In some cases the missing papers traced the same families for 130 years as generations lived, married and died there.

Rachelle St-Denis-Lachaine, a longtime resident of Chute-à-Blondeau and volunteer at St-Joachim Catholic Church, said, “These are the parish registers. It’s all the files of the parish, and there are also registers with marriages. These are our memories in these books. There are copies in the archdiocese in Ottawa, but it’s all the baptisms since the 1880s. The baptisms, the marriages, the funerals, so it’s basically the entire history of Chute-à-Blondeau that was in there.”

The Massachusetts State Archives is Running out of Room

The Massachusetts State Archives’ modern building, erected in 1986 with the expectation that it would exhaust its space within 25 years, is bursting at the seams. Officials say the two-story facility at Boston’s Columbia Point has simply run out of room to store the state’s most valuable and timeless records. Even worse, Massachusetts has received failing grades from government watchdogs who complain that public records requests are often must met with lengthy waits and exorbitant costs for the material.

My Interview on Radio Sputnik

RadioSputnikLogoI recently had the honor of being interviewed on the Russian radio network called Radio Sputnik. Co-hosts Svetlana Ekimenko and Victor Erofeyev and I discussed how easy it is to research your family tree on the Internet, the accuracy of the information found online, and we also speculated a bit about why people are motivated to find information about their ancestors. You can listen to the 14+ minute interview (in English) at

New Brunswick’s Oland Murder Trial Focuses on the Family’s Genealogy

This sounds like a murder-mystery novel except that it is a true story. A murder trial in Saint John, New Brunswick is describing a twisted tale of relationships and rivalries, with the family’s genealogy possibly playing a significant role in the events leading up to the murder.

Richard OlandAt the time of his death, the jurors have heard, Richard Oland (shown to the right) had $37 million in investments, the lion’s share of which came from the 2006 sale of his shares in Moosehead Breweries Limited to his brother Derek. Dennis Oland is accused of murdering his own father with an axe.

The father and son reportedly shared a love of the Oland family history. In fact, Richard Oland’s body was found next to some documents son Dennis Oland may have delivered on the day of the murder, documents Dennis found during his recent genealogical research or on his recent trip to England.

The Moose Amongst the Headstones

Having lived in Nashua, New Hampshire, I can say that I am not surprised at this story. A moose was spotted in a cemetery only about a half mile from downtown Nashua and apparently didn’t want to leave.

Nashua moose in cemetery

The moose was spotted wandering through Edgewood Cemetery in Nashua on Tuesday morning.

These large animals are dangerous to humans, especially in this time of year, the mating season. They have been known to charge humans for no apparent reason in the fall. This one apparently was not weighed but adult males typically weigh about 1000 pounds (450 kg). Despite that size, they can run as fast as 35 miles per hour. You don’t want an animal of that size charging you!

Follow-up: Century-Old Photos Found In Stolen Car now Returned to Owner

This is a follow-up to my earlier article at about a stolen car recovered by Colorado Springs police. The police found a black memory box inside the car containing photos, postcards and letters. Some of the photos date back to 1918. The police have now located the owner of the memory box.

Crime analysts did a genealogy search using names on the photographs. They traced the family to Elbert and Englewood with names including Moberly, Peterson, and Smith. The Colorado Springs Police Department is now returning the box to the owner.

Arizona State Library and FamilySearch Agree to Partner to Make Genealogy Information Accessible

FamilySearch_LogoThis is the apparent happy ending to a recent fiasco involving the genealogy collection at the Arizona State Library. See my earlier articles at and at for the history of this problem.

Arizona-State-ArchivesFamilySearch has now agreed to provide scanning and digital hosting services for 5,000 books at no cost to the State of Arizona. In return, FamilySearch will make the digital images of the books freely available online for research globally. Once scanning is complete, the original copies of the books will return to Arizona. Scanning is expected to take about six months to complete.

Discovering Your Family History: 7 Unique Technologies

As mentioned in the MyHeritage Blog, “MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet recently presented a keynote address to hundreds of attendees of the IAJGS 2015 conference in Israel. He discussed Seven Unique Technologies for Discovering Your Family History.

“His talk is a great introduction to understanding MyHeritage technologies, Smart Matches, Record Matches, Newspaper Matches and Instant Discoveries. Gilad described new technologies that MyHeritage has recently released, such as Global Name Translation, as well as new technologies that we are about to release.”

Privacy Issues for Family Historians

The MyHeritage Blog has published an article I wrote: Privacy Issues for Family Historians. It discusses some of the things genealogists need to be aware of before publishing their family trees online. As I wrote at the beginning of the article:

“Genealogists often face conflicting requirements. We want to publish our own family information online in hopes that others will see it and recognize connections to their own family. Those other genealogists then can contact us, and we can collaborate to expand the known family trees of each of us. The problem is that today’s news is full of alarming articles about identity theft, fraud, and similar illegal acts. While some of the news articles describe real threats, others are published as “scare tactics” that magnify smaller issues to sound as if there are imminent dangers for all of us. Alarmist articles often strike unnecessary fear into the hearts of those who do not understand the difference between major and minor threats.”

The Meramec Valley (Missouri) Genealogical and Historical Society (MVGHS) and the Meramec Valley History Museum Have Merged

Both the Meramec Valley Genealogical and Historical Society (MVGHS) and the Meramec Valley History Museum were official committees of the city of Pacific, Missouri. Following approval by the city, the funds and history collections of the two organizations will be combined. Going forward, the history museum will be operated as a subcommittee of the genealogy society.

Details may be found in an article by Pauline Masson in the eMissourian at

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?


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