A Message from MyHeritage

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Why a Data Breach at a Genealogy Site Has Privacy Experts Worried

From an article by Heather Murphy and published in the New York Times:

“GEDmatch, a longstanding family history site containing around 1.4 million people’s genetic information, had experienced a data breach. The peculiar matches were not new uploads but rather the result of two back-to-back hacks, which overrode existing user settings, according to Brett Williams, the chief executive of Verogen, a forensic company that has owned GEDmatch since December.”


“Scientists and genealogists say the GEDmatch breach — which exposed more than a million additional profiles to law enforcement officials — offers an important window into what can go wrong when those responsible for storing genetic information fail to take necessary precautions.”

You can learn a lot more in the article at: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/01/technology/gedmatch-breach-privacy.html.

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often. (My computers automatically make off-site backups of all new files every few minutes.)

Given the events of the past month with genealogy websites laying off employees and cutting back on services, you now need backup copies of everything more than ever. What happens if the company that holds your online data either goes off line or simply deletes the service where your data is held? If you have copies of everything stored either in your own computer or stored in a different company’s online service, such a loss would be inconvenient but not a disaster.

(+) Is Your Genealogy Society Growing or Shrinking?

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

I am fortunate in that I travel a lot and am often asked to speak at local genealogy society meetings. I meet a lot of members and officers of these societies, and I hear a lot of stories about each society’s successes and failures. A few stories seem to be repeated over and over by multiple societies although I do hear a few exceptions. By far, the most common stories I hear are that a particular society is struggling and is slowly becoming smaller and smaller. A few societies report the opposite: they are steadily growing in both membership and in services.

What is the difference? I don’t have all the answers, but I do see a few common factors amongst the stories I hear.

A Changing Environment

Updated: Ancestry.com Hit With $250 Million Auto-Renew Suit In California

Ancestry.com violated California law by automatically renewing memberships without consumers’ clear permission, according to a proposed class action removed to California federal court Wednesday. The proposed lawsuit seeks over $250 million in restitution.

Information is available at https://www.law360.com/articles/1296611. Unfortunately, that is a website that provides information about lawsuits for a fee although a 7-day free trial is available.

UPDATE: Further details of the lawsuit and the complaint appear to be accessible on this website.

The Annual Scottish ViC (Virtual Conference) Has Expanded

The following announcement was written by the organizers of the Scottish ViC (virtual conference):

In response to a poll of past ViC attendees, the ViC will be divided into three separate one-day events.

Saturday November 28, 2020: HIGHLAND RESEARCH DAY

Lorna Steele will present on the holdings of the Highland Archives
Alison Diamond will present on the records held by the Duke of Argyll at Inverary Archives
Karly Kehoe will present on the Highland Scots of Nova Scotia
Alexander Thomson will present on the Cromarty Emigrants and the Ships That Took Them
Paul Nixon will present on Scottish Regiments
Robert Howie will be giving a virtual tour of Edinburgh highlighting the places associated with the Jacobites

The Political Graveyard – Find a Politician in Your Family Tree

No, this is not an article about the upcoming presidential campaign, although a few snide remarks do pop to mind. In fact, a web site called The Political Graveyard describes itself as “The Internet’s Most Comprehensive Source of U.S. Political Biography,” or “The Web Site That Tells Where the Dead Politicians are Buried.” If you had an ancestor in politics, you might find this to be an interesting and useful site.

Cite This For Me

Genealogists often don’t understand the need when they begin but soon find it is important to cite their sources. After all, someday you will ask, “Where did I find that?” If you were smart enough to record the source citation at the time you recorded the other information, your question is easily answered. You will find many other genealogy uses for source citations as well.

Cite This For Me is a FREE extension for the Chrome web browser that will automatically create website citations in the APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard referencing styles at the click of a button. Simply browse to the page you wish to cite and click the button to generate a correctly formatted citation. You may then copy-and-paste the citation into your document, or add it to your online bibliography for safekeeping until later. Cite This For Me also comes with a Google Chrome extension.

Book Reviews: New and Updated “At a Glance” Guides

The following reviews were written by Bobbi King, the Book Reviews Editor for this newsletter:

New and Updated At a Glance Guides

The At a Glance guides are published by the Genealogical Publishing Company. Meant to be quick-read references, the guides are four-page laminates, 8 x 11 in size, authored by experts on specific topics. There is a wide range of guides available at the GPC website.
Here are brief descriptions of some updated guides newly published in 2020.

German Genealogy Research, Updated Edition
by Ernest Thode.
There are segments on German history followed by sections on research tips:

  • German Emigration, including the reasons for leaving homelands and the eras of peak migrations;
  • Passenger Lists, including lists of websites and German archives where online lists may be found;
  • Unlocking German Family History, including background and online sources related to German places, surnames, given names, and dates, the most noble being a description and link to the ever-valuable Meyers Gazetteer;
  • German Record Sources, including information about and where to find church and civil registration records, the German Center for Genealogy which has Germany’s largest genealogical collection, the Berlin Document Center which documents the regime from 1920 to 1945, village heritage books and histories that list village residents, military archives, censuses, and references for further reading;
  • Other Online Resources, including additional website urls for finding German information.

Scottish Genealogy Research, Updated Edition

The Digitisation of Historic Royal Australian Air Force Documents

The Australian public will soon be able to access a trove of significant Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) documents, many of which have been locked away for one hundred years.

The public will gain online access to approximately 191 bound volumes of documents – including the signatures of first Chiefs of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams and Air Marshal Stanley Goble.

You Can Help Nazi Victims’ Families Learn Their Fates in Online Archive Project

From an article by Renee Ghert-Zand in The Times of Israel website:

“Thousands answer crowdsourcing call to assist Germany’s Arolsen Archives in making 26 million newly digitized historical documents searchable by anyone online.

Document from Sachsenhausen (Courtesy of the Arolsen Archives)

“A huge crowdsourcing project to memorialize the victims of Nazi persecution is bringing together thousands of volunteers from across the globe who are locked down during the international coronavirus crisis. The “Every Name Counts” project, based out of Germany’s Arolsen Archives (formerly the International Tracing Service), aims to make 26 million recently digitized primary historical records searchable.”

Why Was the Information Removed from Online?

NOTE: This is a slightly updated version of an article I published four years ago. The subject arose again recently so I decided to republish this for the benefit of newer readers who did not see the earlier article. I also updated some of the text to better describe newer developments.

Several newsletter readers have sent messages to me expressing dissatisfaction with records that were available online at one time but have since disappeared. I am offering this republished article as an explanation about why we should not be surprised when that happens. I will also offer a suggestion as to making sure you keep your own copies of online records that are valuable to you.

Two newsletter readers sent email messages to me recently expressing dissatisfaction that a set of images of vital records has been removed from a popular genealogy site. Indeed, removal of any online records of genealogical value is sad, but not unusual. Changes such as these are quite common on FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, Fold3, Findmypast, and many other genealogy sites that provide images of old records online. Removal of datasets has occurred dozens of times in the past, and I suspect such things will continue to happen in the future. I thought I would write a brief explanation.


New Free Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of 27 July 2020

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch added new free indexed collections of immigrant arrivals for San Francisco, California 1903-1918, and additional voter registrations for Boston, Massachusetts 1857-1920. Examine more records added for Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Norway, Peru, Spain, S. Africa, and Venezuela. Find your family in 2 million more United States newspaper obituaries and additional records for CA, HI, ID, IL, IA, LA, MS, NE, NC, OH, PA, TX, UT, VA, WA, and WI.

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

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 latest Plus Edition newsletter is available at: https://eognplus.com/news/thisweek.htm

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

(+) How to Improve Your Productivity with Two or More Monitors

Book Review: Delaware Genealogical Research Guide

The 1890 U.S. Census: Not Everything Was Destroyed

Your Genes May Influence Your COVID-19 Risk, According to a New Study

Gedmatch is Investigating After Users’ DNA Profile Data was Made Available to Police

Family Tree Maker Software Producer Exposes Data on 60,000 Users

Security Alert: Malicious Phishing Attempt Detected, Possibly Connected to GEDmatch Breach

Ancestry Security Team Confident Family Tree Maker Vulnerability Has Not Impacted Ancestry’s Systems

(Updated) Trump Signs Order Targeting Undocumented Immigrants in the US Census

Announcing the Family History Federation’s “Really Useful Family History Show” on Saturday 14th November

Announcing the Family History Federation’s “Really Useful Family History Show” on Saturday 14th November

The following announcement was written by the Family History Federation (FHF), a genealogy organisation in the British Isles::

The FHF Really Useful Family History Show
Saturday 14th November 2020

The Family History Federation (FHF) is excited to launch the FHF Really Useful Family History Show which will take place on Saturday 14th November featuring member societies and much, much more.

In announcing the Show, FHF Chairman, Steve Manning, said: “Irrespective of whether you’re an uncertain ‘newbie’ or seasoned enthusiast, this is the one 2020 happening you must not miss! Why? Because the Family History Federation is totally focussed on delivering a ‘Really Useful Family History Show’ to ALL our visitors!”

Genetic Impact of African Slave Trade Revealed in DNA Study

A major DNA study has shed new light on the fate of millions of Africans who were traded as slaves to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries.

More than 50,000 people took part in the study, which was able to identify more details of the “genetic impact” the trade has had on present-day populations in the Americas. It lays bare the consequences of rape, maltreatment, disease and racism.

Elise C. Cole Joins the Ontario Genealogical Society to Ensure the Society Is Informed and Compliant With Copyright Law and Best Practices

The following announcement was written by the Ontario Genealogical Society:

Elise C Cole

Ontario Ancestors – The Ontario Genealogical Society is pleased to announce that Elise C. Cole will be joining our team to ensure that the Society is informed and compliant with copyright law and copyright best practices. We have worked closely with Elise before, most recently in her role as Program Co-Chair for the 2020 Conference Advisory Committee.

We are thrilled that she has decided to take on this challenging, but rewarding, role with our organization. Having someone with her experience and expertise, will assist the Society in making sure that we are always employing best practices when it comes to copyright, as this is one of our top priorities.

The 1890 U.S. Census: Not Everything Was Destroyed

Beginning U.S. genealogists soon learn that the 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building on January 10, 1921. I wrote about this recently in What Really Happened to the 1890 U.S. Census? at https://bit.ly/32PUQyz.

Photo of the 1890 U.S. census taken after the fire.

Many people who would like to see these records just shrug their shoulders and move on.

A short search on the World Wide Web, however, soon reveals that not all of the records were destroyed.

Rare New Records Available to Search This Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    • New records from both sides of the Atlantic added to Findmypast’s growing collections
    • Includes the oldest newspaper published on the site to date, stretching coverage back the 17th century
    • Also includes a rare collection of social history records – rediscovered by the Coventry FHS after being lost for nearly 100 years

An eclectic mix of records from both sides of the Atlantic are available to search this Findmypast Friday, including;

Warwickshire, Coventry Pawnbroker Tickets 1915-1923

TheGenealogist Now Offers New Records to Help Find Your Australian Cousins

The following announcement was written by TheGenealogist:

New records help find your Australian cousins

TheGenealogist has added to its Australian records a set of new resources which can be used to find ancestors who lived in this country in the past. These name rich resources are sourced from a diverse range of historical books and directories which can be useful for finding out information such as where ancestors lived and what their occupation was.

Use these records to:

Book Review: Delaware Genealogical Research Guide

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Delaware Genealogical Research Guide
Fourth edition. Published by Delaware Genealogical Society. 2020. 171 pages.

This society publication is one of the best-looking and well-crafted state research guides to come across my desk. The glossy cover exudes “old” with the image of an old historic and yellowed 1757 map of Delaware counties with neighboring Maryland and southern New Jersey. “Old” is perfectly suitable for the state acknowledged as the First State by way of Caesar Rodney’s urgent horseback ride through the dark of night to be the first delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence. (That’s him racing across the Delaware state quarter.) Delaware is our second-smallest state, with only three counties that record the lengthy history of Dutch, Swedish, and English governance going all the way back to 1609.