Digital Files May Last Much, Much Longer than Paper or Microfilm

NOTE: This is an updated version of an article I originally published several years ago. A newsletter reader recently questioned the life expectancy of digital files versus paper. I referred him to my earlier article but noticed that it was a bit out of date. I have now rewritten part of the original article and am republishing it today.

I often write about digital products for use in genealogy. Here is a comment I hear and read all the time: “I am going to keep my files on paper to make sure they last for many years, longer than digital files.”

Wrong! Properly maintained, digital files will always last much, much longer than paper or microfilm. Let’s focus on the phrase, “properly maintained.”

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Scholarship Applications Now Being Accepted

The following announcement was written by the organizers of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy:

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Association, is pleased to announce that essay entries for the Jimmy B. Parker Essay Scholarship are now being accepted.

The scholarship recipient will receive full tuition to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy 2016. The scholarship will be awarded to the individual whose essay and application reflect a commitment to genealogical excellence and community involvement. Past winners are Debra Hoffman of New Windsor, Maryland​;​ Susan LeBlanc of Gladstone, Oregon​;​ and Patti Gillespie of Decatur, Texas.

New Findmypast Friday Records

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

This week’s Findmypast Friday marks the release of over 1.4 million cemetery Index records from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia and New Zealand. Over 1 million fascinating 18th century British Apprenticeship records and over 186,000 parliamentary papers from the Australian State of Victoria have also been released.

BillionGraves Cemetery Index records

Over 1.4 million cemetery index records from six different countries have been released in partnership with BillionGraves. With over 12 million headstone records, BillionGraves is the largest resource for GPS-tagged headstone and burial records on the web. Findmypast’s partnership with BillionGraves aims to make available all the cemetery records held on their site for free. These latest addition include;

FamilySearch Adds More Than 9.8 Million Indexed Records and Images for Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Jamaica, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the United States

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

FamilySearch has added to its collections more than 9.8 million indexed records and images for Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Jamaica, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Notable collection updates include 2,983,594 indexed records from the Croatia, Church Books, 1516–1994 collection; 57,446 indexed records and 1,785,969 images from the Jamaica, Civil Registration, 1880–1999collection; and 1,087,758 indexed records from the Costa Rica Civil Registration, 1860–1975 collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free

Book Review: Genealogy and The Law

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Genealogy and The Law
A Guide to Legal Sources for the Family Historian

by Kay Haviland Freilich & William B. Freilich
Published by the National Genealogical Society. 2014. 119 pages.

The law and its application to genealogy have become more and more a topic of interest to genealogists. Credit Judy Russell and The Legal Genealogist with her “Oh-My-Gosh-Isn’t-This-The-Most-Interesting-Law” blog accounts that draw us into her world of making sense of applying law to genealogy situations, both explanatory and amusing.

Genealogy and The Law is the latest in the Special Topics Series of books published by NGS. The authors, Kay Freilich has taught the Law Library course at the Samford Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research, and William Freilich holds his JD from Villanova University and is retired from corporate law practice. The two authors have written a very nice introductory, and also useful for the experienced researcher, particularly the Citing Your Sources chapter, book that covers the whys and where-fors for considering the aspects of law in your research.

Introducing the Redesigned MyHeritage Mobile App

MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has updated both the company’s Android and iOS mobile app with a new look to improve your family history experience. The enhanced app enables families around the world to build their family tree, instantly discover ancestors and relatives, and preserve and share their legacy, all with a better looking and more intuitive interface.

More than 4 million people have previously downloaded the MyHeritage app, and its usage is growing worldwide. Within the last 3 months, the app was selected by Google as a featured Android app in more than 100 countries, making MyHeritage the first company in the family history industry to receive such a recognition.

The Family History Researcher Academy is 2 Years Old

The following announcement was written by the folks at the Family History Researcher Academy:

Having first launched its English/Welsh family history course online back in May 2013, it has gained many satisfied customers who have completed their studies and learned where to search further for their elusive forebears.

Complied by Nick Thorne, who has experience of researching ancestors for private clients and of working on various projects for one of the leading British genealogical research websites, this course has had tremendous feedback from those who bought the training. Nick has contributed articles for publication, in various U.K. family history magazines, on genealogy websites and he also writes a blog called “Help Me With My Family Tree” under the pen name of The Nosey Genealogist.

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.

(+) One Week with the Apple Watch

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

Last week I wrote about the Apple Watch that I had just received. That article is available at Now that I have been using the Apple Watch for the past seven days, I thought I should write an update.

The new watch undoubtedly is Apple’s most personal product ever. As such, opinions about it will be highly subjective. Some people love the idea of a powerful communications device on the wrist while others will hate it. I suspect the average person is ambivalent.

Forces War Records’ World War One Hospital Registers Collection tops 250,000 Records

The following announcement was written by Nicki Giles at the Forces War Records:

Forces War Records is delighted to announce that 250,000 records have now been transcribed from our “Military Hospitals Admissions and Discharge Registers WW1” collection, coded MH106 by the National Archives. That’s a long way from the 30,000 records available at the time of the collection’s October 9th 2014 launch, as is being evidenced by a number of reports of families now finding their relatives in the collection. Customer Pete Bailey was intrigued to find out that his grandfather had been shot in the face in WW1 in 1918, and said the medical data was the only record on Harry Mullard that he’d been able to find on websites, and that he’d be interested to find out where Harry had fought.

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? Is Sharing Customer DNA Data With Police

Is this a privacy issue? An article by Jay Syrmopoulos for the Free Thought Project at says: “Would you find it frightening— perhaps even downright Orwellian — to know that a DNA swab that you sent to a company for recreational purposes would surface years later in the hands of police? What if it caused your child to end up in a police interrogation room as the primary suspect in a murder investigation?”

The Birth Certificate of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge

You won’t see many birth certificates like this one, at least not in my family. The father and mother of the newborn child have occupations listed as “prince” and “princess.”

Click on the image above to view a larger version.

Ghostly Voices From Thomas Edison’s Dolls Can Now Be Heard

In 1890, the Edison Phonograph Company manufactured dolls with wax cylinder records tucked inside each one. When cranked, each doll recited snippets from nursery rhymes. This was fabulous technology in 1890, a time when most people had not yet heard of phonograph records or any other method of reproducing sound. Sadly, Edison’s dolls were a flop; production lasted only six weeks. Children found them difficult to operate and more scary than cuddly. The purchase price of ten dollars also was much higher than what most families of 1890 could afford.

Google Power Search: How to Search Just One Web site

There’s a lot more you can do with Google than just search the Internet. Instead of searching the entire Internet, you may be more interested in seeing search results from just one web site. To do this, go to and enter the word “site:” followed by a colon (:) followed immediately (with no space) by the web site’s address. Next, add a space and then the word(s) you wish to search for. It should look something like this: search-term

Notice the web site’s address is given without the letters “http”, without the colon, without the slashes and without “www.”

For instance, perhaps you only want to search the web site of the Indiana Genealogical Society at to see what databases the society has for Pike County, the county where your ancestors lived. To do so, go to and enter: “Pike County”

Virgin Islands Records to be Digitized

The Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pa., has received a $37,982 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conserve and digitize 120 linear feet of archival records documenting Moravian mission work in the Caribbean – specifically the territory now known as the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The records are significant because they contain a treasure trove of information about the enslaved population in the Caribbean, information that is critical to many people doing genealogical research in the territory.

Details may be found in an article in the Virgin Islands Daily News at Board Member Dave Goldberg Dies in Freak Accident

Dave Goldberg was a high-energy individual with many talents. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard and spending a few years at consulting firm Bain & Company and at Capitol Records, Goldberg struck out on his own in the early 1990s. He founded Launch Media, one of the first companies to venture into streaming music online. He then became chief executive of SurveyMonkey in 2009 and is credited with taking it from a 12-employee company to a 500-employee enterprise valued at $2 billion.

Goldberg later became a member of the Board of Directors of “For someone who was involved in so many things, there was never a time that I felt a call or e-mail to Dave was an inconvenience to him,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive of (According to Sullivan, Goldberg was a user long before he joined the company. He liked to explore his family history with his mother, Paula.)

US Geological Survey adds a New Online Map Viewer and It is a Good One!

The US Geological Survey has an online collection of more than 178,000 maps, dating back to 1880. They cover the entire country. Best of all, they’re free to download. However, the digital images were not always of the highest quality and the search software for finding maps was confusing, at best. All that has now changed with the introduction of a new online map viewer.

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.

(+) Tracing the History of Your House

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

Perhaps you have spent a lot of effort studying your family’s history. However, have you ever considered studying the history of the family’s home – either the home in which you live or perhaps the ancestral home in which your parents or grandparents lived? To be sure, many families may have lived in the same house, sharing the joys and tragedies of family life throughout the years. Are you curious who they were and perhaps what their experiences were? Who built your house? When was it built, and by whom? What did it cost? Who were the previous owners and residents? What did the interior and exterior originally look like? Those questions can usually be answered by a bit of investigation. In fact, you can create a social genealogy: facts about the owners and residents of the house.

House research is quite similar to genealogy research, often looking at the same records: old maps, deeds, and books. Through research, you can discover who lived in your home and probably what they did for a living. In short, you become a house detective.


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