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USCIS Proposes Fee Increases for Genealogy Records

The following message was posted to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies,  (IAJGS) mailing list by Jan Meisels Allen and is republished here with her permission:

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced through the Federal Register that they intend to increase the request fees charged by them, including for genealogy services.  Currently, the G-1041 Index Search Request is $65 and form G-1041A Genealogy Records Request is $65. The USCIS proposes to raise the fees to $240 and $385 respectively.  These are a 269 percent and 492 percent change respectively (if I did my math correctly).  They are based on the projected costs and volumes of the genealogy program. The search fee is non-refundable if nothing is found in their search. The projected costs include a portion of Lockbox costs and an estimated staffing requirement for genealogy workload.

New Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was  written by Findmypast:

British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers’ Medical Records

Over 36,000 new additions from the National Archives in Kew are now available to search. These highly detailed records include images of original documents and will reveal when and where your ancestor was wounded, the nature of their injuries, where they were treated and how long they were. Service details and other additional notes may also be included.

The medical records were collected by the Medical Research Committee and then given over to the British Museum during the First World War, 1914 to 1918. The records were used for statistical research. In 1931, Thomas John Mitchell and G M Smith published History of the Great War, based on official documents. Medical services: Casualties and medical statistics of the Great War from the data gathered from these medical records.

United States, Official Army Register 1861-1865

New Free Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of 11 November 2019

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch.org added Chilean (1821-2015) and South African (1886-2010) cemetery records. More historical records added from American Samoa, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, England, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, PeruPortugal and the United States of America (including over 600,000 Charleston, South Carolina records (1732 – 1872) and Native American Census Rolls (1885-1940)).

Search these new records and images by clicking on the collection links below, or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

FamilySearch Celebrates 125th Anniversary

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch, aka Genealogical Society of Utah, has been helping to create family connections for 125 years. What began as a humble state family history society over a century ago, today has blossomed into a global organization that continues to help millions of people make inspiring family connections. FamilySearch, formerly the Genealogical Society of Utah, is celebrating the commencement of its 125th Anniversary today. The international nonprofit is grateful to have played a part in the meteoric rise of consumer interest in family history and helping to enrich the lives of millions of people in ways that were not anticipated in the beginning.

Online Telephone Directory Collection of Interest to Genealogists

The Library of Congress’ collection of telephone directories represents the following states and localities: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the city of Chicago. The dates of the directories span most of the 20th century. The Library’s United States telephone directory collection consists of 8,327 digitized reels of microfilm; of these, about 3,500 are presented in this collection. The remainder of the collection may be requested from the Microform Reader Services (LJ 139).

You can read more about this online collection at https://www.loc.gov/collections/united-states-telephone-directory-collection/about-this-collection/ while the catalog of available directories and much more may be found at https://www.loc.gov/collections/united-states-telephone-directory-collection/.

My thanks to newsletter reader Michelle Cadoree Bradley for telling me about this online resource.

Native American Genealogy in the New York City Area

The following is an excerpt from an article by Natiba Guy-Clement published in the Brooklyn Library’s web site at ft

Tribal leaders and historians from Canada, Delaware, Oklahoma and the Lenape Center here in New York, engaged with us about their history, customs and traditions. From Chief Chester Brooks, the oldest chief in attendance, we learned about 7 generations of his family bloodline that he was able to recite to us from memory. This was quite a privilege for me to witness, the oral recitation of family ties that takes genealogists time and effort to compile. I learned that it was borne out of the aftermath of colonization, since many families were decimated or reduced very quickly, it was necessary to know who your family was to prevent intermarriage. Other Tribal representatives shared their stories about the present conditions of their respective groups and talked about their efforts to educate newer generations about their history and culture.

My Not-So-Evil “Twin Brother”

I have long been a fan of the television series “The Curse of Oak Island” that is now in its seventh season on the History Channel. I think I have seen every episode of the program. I also have had a long-term interest in another possibly related topic of European adventurers roaming around North America in the 1300s.

The travels of these Europeans in North America is unproven, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence. I find the subject interesting. For details, see my earlier articles, “Was the Westford Knight also on Oak Island? and “Update: Was the Westford Knight also on Oak Island?”

Because of my investigations into the Westford Knight, I even had a very brief appearance in one of “The Curse of Oak Island” episodes last year.

I also have been a technology geek for years and have written a number of articles in this newsletter about genealogy uses of GPS devices, ground penetrating radar, and other high-tech methods of finding graves, ancestors’ homesteads, and other locations of interest to genealogists and historians.

Imagine my surprise last night when I watched the latest episode of “The Curse of Oak Island.” One person on the show looked strangely familiar. He is also a high-tech geek and is very involved in GPS and ground penetrating radar.

Do you see a resemblance between us?

The National Library of Israel and Google Together Will Digitize 120,000 Historic Books and Place Them Online

I suspect that at least some of these books will provide names and other information about families, especially those families that have been dispersed by the Holocaust.

The National Library of Israel (NLI) and Google have announced that 120,000 books from the library’s collection will be uploaded to Google Books for the first time as part of their collaboration.

The books that are expected to be uploaded will, according to NLI, include all of the library’s out-of-copyright, royalty-free books which have not yet been digitized. Around 45% of the books are written in Hebrew script, in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and other languages of the Jewish world. The rest of the works are in a variety of languages, including Latin, German, French, Arabic and Russian.

Genetic Genealogy can Help Solve Cold Cases. It can also Accuse the Wrong Person.

According to an article by Nsikan Akpan, William Brangham, and Rhana Natour published in the PBS News Hour web site:

“From a law enforcement perspective, the case for using genetic genealogy is strong. But experts are also flagging concerns about what the method means for people’s legal and DNA privacy.”

Here is a quote from further in the same article:

“Genetic genealogy — in truth, any forensics dependent on DNA — can fall prey to the same human biases that plague other aspects of law enforcement. Close relatives or even non-relatives can be accused of the crime if care is not taken with how the genetic genealogy is interpreted.

“It happened to Michael Usry.”

23andMe’s Stance on Protecting Customers’ Data

The following is from an article by Kathy Hibbs, 23andMe’s Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, as published in the company’s blog:

“A Florida judge recently issued a warrant granting law enforcement access to search the database of GEDmatch, a small publicly accessible DNA and genealogy research site. Allowing law enforcement access to GEDmatch’s nearly one million users should trouble anyone who values people’s right to privacy.

“It certainly troubles us here at 23andMe.

“Perhaps just as disturbing is GEDmatch’s apparent lack of scrutiny and challenge of the validity of the warrant issued.

Ancestry Says, “Your Privacy is our Top Priority”

From an article by Ancestry’s Chief Privacy Officer, Eric Heath, published in the Ancestry Blog:

“Your privacy is important to us. That’s why we want to share our position on a recent event where a Florida judge issued a search warrant to allow law enforcement to search all of GEDmatch, an open data personal genomics database. Following the issuance of the search warrant, GEDmatch opened its database of nearly one million users — beyond those who had consented to such access — within 24 hours. Ancestry believes that GEDmatch could have done more to protect the privacy of its users, by pushing back on the warrant or even challenging it in court. Their failure to do so is highly irresponsible, and deeply concerning to all of us here at Ancestry. GEDmatch’s actions stand in stark contrast to our values and commitment to our customers.

The State Archives of North Carolina is Looking for Transcribers

The following is an announcement from the State Archives of North Carolina:

TranscribeNC, the crowd sourced transcription program by the State Archives of North Carolina, has reached a milestone. Over the last six months, over 100 volunteers have dedicated their time to complete over 1600 page edits. The local draft board project will close on November 30. You still have a chance to make history!

Beginning in December, TrasncribeNC will debut new projects focusing on WWI letters and diaries and women’s history. More information coming soon!

If you or someone you know is interested in keeping some of NC’s important stories alive, please go to https://fromthepage.com/ncdcr-ncarchives for more information.

The ‘Baby Killer’ Drug

It is a wonder that any of our ancestors survived childhood and then went on to have descendants, including you or me.

A 19th century ad for Winslow’s Soothing Syrup shows happy children and a resting mother. The morphine-laced patent medicine was invented in Maine and sold by Bangor druggist Jeremiah Curtis. It made him a millionaire and killed an unknown number of children.

Geni Introduces Consistency Checker to the World Family Tree

The following announcement is an excerpt from a much longer article posted to the Geni Blog:

Today we are excited to introduce the new Consistency Checker to Geni’s World Family Tree. The Consistency Checker will constantly monitor changes to profiles in the family tree to detect common errors or inconsistencies and bring them to your attention so that you can make the necessary changes to improve the quality and accuracy of the family tree.

This helpful tool checks for 26 types of inconsistencies, ranging from obvious issues, such as a child born before their parent, to more subtle problems, such as an event after death. It offers you a fast and easy way to fix mistakes to ensure that the most accurate information is found on Geni profiles.

And it is available to everyone for free!

Plus Edition Newsletter Has Been Sent

To all Plus Edition subscribers:

A notice of the latest EOGN Plus Edition newsletter was sent to you a few minutes ago.

The following articles are listed in this week’s Plus Edition email:

(+) Scanning Old Books

Forget Paper. Forget Hard Drives. Forget CD and DVD Disks. Forget Most Everything Else. For Long-Term preservation, Use a Piece of Glass.

The Free Scanner App You Probably Already Have Installed

Have You Used the FamilySearch Digital Library?

Book Review: Who Was Ann Gregg?

MyHeritage Education: New Content to Master Your Genealogy Skills

Warrant Issued Permitting Police Full Access to GEDmatch Database

Help Wanted: Looking for Former TMG Users to Help Test a Future Version of Family Historian

The Wikipedia Of Graves: Israeli App CemoMemo Brings Cemeteries Into The Digital World

Don’t Want to Lose (Parts of) Your Genealogical Data?

Genealogy at Sea! July 2020

(+) Scanning Old Books

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

Genealogists love old books. Many of us would love to scan some of these books for our own use or to make them available to others when copyright laws allow. Scanned books can easily be distributed on CD-ROM disks or via online web sites. The only difficult part is the scanning of the original books.

Almost any scanner can be used to make images of old books. However, using a desktop “flatbed” scanner purchased at the local computer store has significant disadvantages. For one thing, these units are designed for scanning photographs and other individual sheets of paper. They do not work well for bound books. Trying to place a bound book onto the glass plate of a typical inexpensive scanner can damage the book’s binding. In addition, words printed near the center binding will not be flat against the glass, causing “curling.” That is, the images of the words seem to curve away from the reader. If OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software is used, the words near the center binding are difficult to decode and will lead to high error rates.

Recent Updates to the Calendar of Genealogy Events

The following pages have recently been updated in the Calendar of Genealogy Events:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio

Some of the above changes may have been deletions of past events.

All information in the Calendar of Events is contributed by YOU and by other genealogists. You can directly add information to the Calendar about your local genealogy event.

Have You Used the FamilySearch Digital Library?

Here is a quote from https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/:

“The Family History Library sponsored by FamilySearch is the largest genealogical library in the world. The Family History Library is actively digitizing its family histories, local histories, and other collections to make them searchable and available online to researchers worldwide. Together with other world-renowned genealogical research partner libraries, the Family History Library is pleased to make its collections and its partners’ collections available together in the new online digital library.

“The FamilySearch Digital Library offers a collection of more than 440,000 digitized genealogy and family history books and publications. Here, you can dive into family histories, county and local histories, genealogy magazines, gazetteers, and even medieval histories and pedigrees! “

Indeed, I have used the FamilySearch Digital Library a number of times and have been pleased with the results. Of course, I probably could have achieved the same results had a I purchased airline tickets to Salt Lake City, spent money on taxis or Uber, spent money in hotels and restaurants for a few days, and paid whatever other miscellaneous expenses are incurred on a multi-day trip. Besides that, such a trip also involves an “investment” of several days of my time. There has to be a better way.

FREE Access to All Databases on AmericanAncestors.org from Tuesday, November 12 through Tuesday, November 19

The following announcement was written by American Ancestors:

Who: American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society, the world’s oldest genealogical organization, and the most respected name in family history.

What: Fall back into family history research with FREE access to more than 1.4 billion searchable names on AmericanAncestors.org between Tuesday, Nov. 12 and Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Anyone can access the many research databases by registering as a FREE Guest Member at AmericanAncestors.org/Free-Billion.

AmericanAncestors.org contains some of the most important online databases for researching American ancestry, with more than 1.4 billion names in records covering 18 countries. Many databases include original content created by experts and scholars, including: