How A 4-Year-Old Auschwitz Survivor Finally Found His Family

Menachem Bodner, a twin survivor of the Mengele experiments, lost his entire family when he was just a little boy. For 68 years, he did not know what had happened to the rest of his family. He is still searching for his twin brother, but recently found his first cousins in California thanks to a persistent genealogist.

About a year and a half ago, Ynet published the story of Menachem Bodner, a twin survivor of the Mengele experiments, who after 70 years, thanks to a persistent genealogy researcher, discovered his real name, his place of birth and the fact that he has distant relatives living in Israel.

Recently, thanks to a DNA test and a research of his roots in the United States, he also found cousins he never knew he had, and held a video chat with them from California last week.

In addition, for the first time in his adult life, he received a picture of his parents, who were erased from his scarred memory in Auschwitz and who he had not seen since the family was sent to the camps by the Gestapo.

New Project Hopes to Find Out How Many Irishmen Died in the First World War

The Irish War Memorial Records, which list the names of 49,400 men who died in the first World War, are to be updated. The Government is to combine with Google and the In Flanders Fields museum in Ypres to update the records, which were first created in 1922. They hope the project will give a more accurate picture of how many Irishmen died in the war.

The records represent an attempt to catalogue all those who died, but they include non-Irish soldiers who died in Irish regiments and exclude many Irishmen who died in non-Irish regiments. There are also many double entries and errors. The records were digitised and released last year. They are available at, but many of the individual records after nearly 100 years are flawed or incomplete.

You can read the details in an article by Ronan McGreevy and also watch a video in the Irish Times web site at

Fold3 Offers Free Access to the World War II Collection Until November 30

The Fold 3 Blog reports:

“In honor of Veterans Day, Fold3 is offering free access to our World War II Collection November 10-30. Explore the records of the war that shaped America’s “greatest generation”—and look for your family’s own WWII heroes along the way.

“Whether you’re interested in historical aspects of the war or are searching for specific individuals who fought in it, Fold3’s WWII Collection likely has what you need.”

You can read all the details at

Official Launch of StoryPress 3.0

The following announcement was written by Mike Davis, Founder and CEO of StoryPress:

We are proud to announce the official launch of StoryPress after almost a year of design, development, beta testing and a commitment to excellence.

StoryPress has rapidly evolved over the past 12 months, from a simple storytelling application to a true social network of stories. We believe this extra social context is the perfect finishing touch to StoryPress and will make creating and watching stories even more fun and personal, because the stories you will see are based on who you choose to follow.

It is available for both iPad and iPhone and you can download it today by clicking here.

Find Your Family’s World War I Veterans in New, Free Military Collections Online on FamilySearch

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 10, 2014 — Veterans’ Day is a time to recognize the veterans in our lives—to honor their service for our country and show them that we appreciate their sacrifices made in our behalf. “The Great War,” World War I, began 100 years ago and later ended on November 11, 1918. In commemoration of Veteran’s Day, has announced the addition of three free World War I collections containing information on the millions of American and British citizens who served and registered for military service between 1914 and 1920. These vital genealogical resources were made available in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington DC, The National Archives in Kew, Surrey, England, and

These resources include the free United States World War I Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918. This collection “acts like a national census,” notes FamilySearch collection manager Ken Nelson, “because it includes over 24 million records representing almost half of the male population of the United States at the time.” Out of those who registered, approximately 4.8 million served and 2.8 million were drafted.

How to Find a Revolutionary War Patriot

After earlier skirmishes, the American Revolutionary War started with the battle between British troops and local Massachusetts militia at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, on 19 April 1775. It ended eight years later with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. If you have been able to trace your ancestry in America back to those years, you have an excellent chance of finding at least one ancestor who had some type of service related to the Revolutionary War effort.

In fact, your ancestor may have been a Patriot or a Loyalist. We don’t celebrate the efforts of Loyalists very much in the United States, but go north to Canada and you will find that Loyalists are well documented and honored as heroes. They are especially honored for their contribution to the development of Canada. Perhaps one Canadian in ten has a Loyalist ancestor, and many people with English blood who live elsewhere – in the United States, in commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand, or in nearly any other country round the world – are also of Loyalist descent. Visit the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada web site at for more information.

If you have already documented your U.S. ancestry to 1760 or earlier, you already have an excellent chance of finding either a Patriot or a Loyalist in the family tree. Boys as young as 16 were allowed to serve, so any male ancestors born in 1760 or earlier are possible veterans. You can even find a few younger boys who served as drummers or assistants in the Revolutionary War and later were credited as veterans, even though they were not considered soldiers during the war itself.

Announcement: The Surname Society

A new society has just been announced: The Surname Society. It sounds like a competitor to the already-existing Guild of One-Name Studies. It should be interesting to see if the new organization grows and becomes popular.

Here is the announcement:


The founder members are delighted to announce the launch of The Surname Society – the online society for individuals, groups and associations with an interest in surname studies, regardless of their location in the world, the surname they are studying, or their level of research expertise.

Focusing on single surname studies, the society meets the needs of researchers in the world of family history and genealogy as it evolves in the 21st century. The Surname Society’s vision is to connect like-minded people by providing facilities which enable members to share knowledge, data and good practice with others. The society allows members to register both worldwide and limited studies and is entirely online. Collaboration is facilitated and encouraged as it is the core ethos of The Surname Society.

(+) Make a Google Will

This is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. Please do not forward this article to others without the author’s permission.

What happens to all your online data after your demise? What will become of your email messages, your personal blog, the files in Google Drive or Dropbox or any other cloud-based file storage service? How about the pictures stored in Picasa or the videos you uploaded to YouTube? Will they be lost forever, or is there a way for your family and friends to access them after your demise and to save their own copies?

Many of the online services we use every day have no contingency plans for a deceased customer’s heirs to take over the account and save whatever is online for posterity.

In most cases, the online service(s) you use will never know that you have passed away. Most services simply delete your account and all information in that account after some months of inactivity. For free accounts, the exact number of days varies from one service to another; but, all of them will eventually delete your account and information if you do not log in for an extended period of time. For paid accounts, your information will be preserved online for as long as someone keeps paying the bills. Once the bills go unpaid, the information will eventually be deleted.

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

Irish Genealogy, a website at 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 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.

Search Historical Newspaper Archives with

Elephind can be a great FREE resource for anyone who wishes to search old newspapers. The purpose of is to make it possible to search all of the world’s digital newspapers from one place and at one time. allows you to simultaneously search across thousands of articles using key words and phrases.

Elephind presently contains 141,831,915 items from 2,704 newspaper titles. You can find a list of libraries that have contribute their archives on the site by clicking on “List of Titles.” Clicking on any library’s name displays the newspapers in that collection. is much like Google, Bing, or other search engines but focused only on historical, digitized newspapers. By clicking on the search result that interests you, you’ll go directly to the newspaper collection which hosts that story.

Of course, newspapers can be a great resource of genealogy information. Birth announcements, marriage announcements, court news, and more can be searched within seconds. If your ancestor was a merchant, you probably can also find his or her advertisements placed in the newspaper.

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.

New Family History 4 Beginners Discussion Board

Peter Smith has formed a new discussion board, called Family History 4 Beginners. It is a totally free service with experts on hand to guide everyone through their family history efforts. The goal of the discussion board is to offer an environment where everyone can feel safe and welcome.

The discussion board runs on pb Pro Boards, a discussion board hosting service. It does have advertising. After all, they have to pay the bills somehow. When I looked at the site, there was one ad per page and that one ad never looked intrusive.

Genealone 1.4.1 Has Been Released

Genealone is a product that allows you to build your own genealogy website. David Nebesky, the producer of Genealone, has announced the release of Version 1.4.1:

Several bugs have been fixed.

Two new color schemes (earth colors and turquoise) have been added.

A new layout with proportional width and user bar on the top has been

New features:

Announcing GEDCOM File Finder

Louis Kessler writes:

I am releasing a freeware program I am calling GEDCOM File Finder. You can find it at:

It’s a nice little program that does just one thing: It finds and classifies all the GEDCOM files (or GEDCOM variants) on your computer. It is simple and only has one screen, allowing you to set the starting directory, filter the filename and include files that contain some desired text. Then it displays important information about the files it finds, and allows you to load any file with your default program that opens .ged files (usually your genealogy software), or let you use your default text editor to view the GEDCOM file directly.

You’ll find it useful if you have more than a few GEDCOMs on your computer.
… or if you forgot where on your computer you put some of them.

Free Access to ArkivDigital’s Swedish Records this Weekend, November 8-9

This is late notice but I just learned of it a few minutes ago. ArkivDigital is offering free access to its huge collection of Swedish genealogy records this weekend, 8 and 9 November.

You will need to register with the site and to install the special viewer software that is required to view records on ArkivDigital. You can learn more at

Book Review: Starr Roll 1894 (Cherokee Payment Rolls)

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Click on the above image to view a larger version

Starr Roll 1894 (Cherokee Payment Rolls). Three volumes.
Transcribed by Jeff Bowen. Published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore. 2014.

The Starr Roll contains the names of the recipients of the payout by the federal government to Indian members of the Cherokee Tribe who had ceded their rights to access to the lands of the Cherokee Outlet (Indian Territory, now Oklahoma) to the federal government. On March 3, 1893 Congress enacted legislation authorizing payment to eligible Cherokee tribe members of $265.70 per capita. In exchange, the Outlet was opened to white settlers. On May 3, 1894, the Act of the National Council affirmed the agreement.

A Portable and Secure Hard Drive that you can Slip into your Pocket

The Western Digital My Passport Ultra is a portable drive that you can slip into your shirt pocket. Best of all, it features 256-bit hardware encryption and integrated local and cloud backup solutions that allow you to make use of your Dropbox account to create a an additional backup. It is one of the better devices available today for making backups and for carrying your information with you. From a privacy viewpoint, the Western Digital My Passport Ultra is a great portable hard drive that has the capability to encrypt everything on the drive to keep it safe from prying eyes in case it is lost or stolen.

Social Security Cards Issued by Woolworth

The following article is from

The most misused Social Security Number of all time was 078-05-1120.

In 1938, wallet manufacturer the E. H. Ferree Company in Lockport, New York, decided to promote its product by showing how a Social Security card would fit into its wallets. A sample card, used for display purposes, was inserted in each wallet. Company Vice President and Treasurer Douglas Patterson thought it would be a clever idea to use the actual Social Security Number of his secretary, Mrs. Hilda Schrader Whitcher.

(+) 30 Million Books Online and Growing

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

In 1996, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were graduate computer science students working on a research project supported by the Stanford Digital Library Technologies Project. Their goal was to make digital libraries work, and their big idea was as follows: in a future world in which vast collections of books are digitized, people would use a “web crawler” to index the books’ content and analyze the connections between them, determining any given book’s relevance and usefulness by tracking the number and quality of citations from other books. The Web crawler they wound up building was called BackRub.

A few months later, BackRub was expanded to seek more than just books. Indeed, it was modified to find everything on the World Wide Web. Along the way, the project’s name was changed to Google.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page never abandoned their dream to make books available online. In 2002, a small group of Googlers officially launched a secret “books” project.

Own Your Own DNA Machine

Spoiler alert: this machine is designed to diagnose medical problems, not to determine one’s ancestry. However, if this technology becomes available at much cheaper prices than ever before, who knows what may be announced in the future?

The Open qPCR is disrupting DNA diagnostics. The aim of the project is simple: Chai Biotechnologies wants to make this essential technology available to everyone, including doctors in developing countries, students in high school and university labs, companies in the food supply chain, and biohackers who are developing some of the most innovative synthetic biology applications.


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