Private Group Works to Identify America’s War Dead

Opportunities to finally identify America’s war dead — including some from World War II who have been missing for more than 70 years — and return them to family members abound as the Department of Defense prepares to overhaul its troubled national recovery efforts, according to advocates for missing service members who gathered for a conference in Washington, D.C. Friday.

More than 83,000 servicemembers are still listed as missing from War World II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and other conflicts, according to the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office.

Family Roots Publishing, including Leland and Patty Meitzler, to Move to Orting, Washington

The many friends of Leland and Patty Meitzler will be interested to learn they are moving back to their home town and will be taking their business with them. Dale, Tara and the grandchildren are going with them. As Leland wrote in his announcement, “They say you can never go home again, and sure enough, we can’t get the 50-acre farm back. But we can come close.”

Details are available in Leland’s Genealogy Blog at

Woman Obtains a College Degree 75 Years After Graduation by Paying the $5 Graduation Fee

This is one for the history books. Jessie White was supposed to graduate from Beal College in Bangor, Maine, in 1939, but a $5 transcript fee kept her from receiving her degree. Now 99 years old, White was finally awarded her degree in stenography and bookkeeping this week in a special ceremony hosted by the president of Beal College, Alan Stehle.

You can read more and watch a video at

Fred Kuplicki and about 40 Volunteers to Document about 9,000 Headstones in an east-side Detroit Cemetery

Fred Kuplicki is nearing the completion of a 23-year-old project, in conjunction with the Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan, to uncover, identify and compile a digital, photographic database of burials at the cemetery. He and about 40 volunteers are bringing their digital camera/phones to the cemetery to photograph about 9,000 headstones dating to the cemetery’s founding circa 1889. His meticulous research during that time, aided by a few other volunteers, has helped to recover lost records for burials spanning to the late 1880s.

You can read the details in an article by Patricia Montemurri in the LSJ web site at

Wouldn’t YOUR genealogy society like to undertake a similar project to benefit other genealogists?

The History of Memorial Day

Monday in the United States is Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who died in our nation’s service. The origins of this day of remembrance are in doubt, with more than two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War.

Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

It is believed that the end of May was chosen for the first Memorial Day because ” flowers would be in bloom all over the country.”

Long-lost Relative finds the Hilton Siamese Twins Decades after their Death

A sad, but fascinating, story about Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton involves a genealogy search by a relative who had never known previously that she was related to the once-famous twins. Daisy and Violet were conjoined twins, born in England in 1908. They were brought to America as infants and became entertainers in vaudeville for a number of years. They spent their later years working side-by-side in the produce department of the Park-N-Shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

On May 1, a British couple entered the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Public Library and asked librarian Shelia Bumgarner for the file on the Hilton twins. That started an investigation into the long-secret family of the twins.

Richard III’s Family Descendants Lose Battle over Reburial in Leicester

Descendants of the family of Richard III, the last king of England to die on a battlefield, have lost a legal battle over where his recently discovered remains should be reinterred.

Three high court judges ruled that the twisted and traumatised skeleton found under a council car park should remain in Leicester, and said it was “time for King Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest”. The judges rejected the claim of distant relatives from the Plantagenet Alliance that justice secretary Chris Grayling was under a legal duty to set up a wide-ranging consultation over the reburial site.

Details may be found in an article by Caroline Davies in The Guardian web site at

Scotland’s Ancient and Once-Proud Clan Strachan has been Reunited

For 186 years, Scotland’s ancient and once-proud Clan Strachan has been fading from history without a leader. On April 11 in Edinburgh, Scotland, James Strachan of Temecula, California, and Dennis Strawhun of Carlsbad, California, convened a gathering of Clan Strachan Society members from around the world to appoint a new commander in chief.

Strachan said he was inspired to look into his family’s Scottish heritage when his grandfather died in 1996. After years of study on Clan Strachan, he shared his research on a website at in 2003. Two years later, Strawhun discovered the website during his own family tree search. After a few emails, the two strangers agreed to meet at an Irish pub in Escondido, and when they came face to face they were shocked at their physical resemblance.

Details may be found at

Here is Your Opportunity to Own a Historic Collectable: the Propellor from the SS United States

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Would you like to own a very unique piece of history? If so, you can bid in an auction for a piece from the luxury passenger liner built in 1952 for the United States Line. The ship is the largest ocean liner constructed entirely in the US, the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction, and, even in her retirement, retains the record of the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed.

The SS United States Conservancy is looking to sell a massive propeller sitting on its deck in Philadelphia. The purchaser will be responsible for removing and transporting the four-blade, 18-foot diameter, 60,000-pound propeller.

Ancestors from the West Indies – A Historical and Genealogical Overview of Afro-Caribbean Immigration, 1900–1930s

Damani Davis has written an excellent introduction to researching ancestors from the West Indies. The article has been published by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and is now available to everyone on the NARA web site at no charge.

Davis writes:

“The ancestors of most Americans either immigrated to the United States, served in the military (or married a veteran who served), or were at least counted in one of the decennial censuses. Consequently, the most relevant federal records for genealogical research are those that document these three activities.

“This generality, however, does not always apply to the ancestors of African Americans. Immigration records, in particular, have no immediate relevance for researching enslaved ancestors who were transported to America via the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Since enslaved persons were considered “chattel,” or property, they were not recorded as immigrants.

Eastern European Family History Conference

The following announcement was written by the organizers of the Eastern European Family History Conference:

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Registration is now open for the 2014 Eastern European Family History Conference to be held in Salt Lake City, August 12-15, 2014.

Hosted by the Foundation for East European Family History Studies (FEEFHS), the conference will feature courses on Russian, German, Polish, and Jewish research, Germans of Russia, and the Austrian Empire, which includes modern-day Austria, the Czech Republic, and parts of surrounding countries. Other presentations will focus on research essentials, specialty records, preparation for on-site research, and advanced techniques.

Featuring nationally recognized speakers, the conference program is structured to provide a strong foundation for those new to Eastern European genealogical research as well as more advanced information for the seasoned researcher. Pre-conference workshops “Finding the Village of Origin,” “Learning Cyrillic,” and “Ask the Experts,” provide opportunity for additional instruction and assisted research specific to individual needs. While all researchers are welcome, this program is most appropriate for those with a working knowledge of basic family history research principles and some research experience.

GEDCOM Explained

I frequently mention the acronym “GEDCOM” in this newsletter. This week a reader wrote to me with an excellent question: “What is GEDCOM?” I realized that I haven’t explained this buzzword in a long, long time. So, here is a brief, non-technical explanation of the term for the newer subscribers to this publication.

GEDCOM is an abbreviation that stands for GEnealogy Data COMmunications. In short, GEDCOM is the language by which different genealogy software programs talk to one another. The purpose is to exchange data between dissimilar programs without having to manually re-enter all the data on a keyboard.

To illustrate the importance of GEDCOM, step back in time with me for a moment.

A Long List of Digitized Newspapers Online

Larry Parker wrote recently to describe an online resource that he discovered. While not well organized, the resource can be a gold mine for anyone research ancestors. Larry writes:

“I stumbled on a google listing for part of a website which hosts scanned, old newspapers from Geneseo, Illinois, where my great great grandparents had lived between 1855 and 1900. The newspaper page images are somewhat searchable. I say somewhat due to what I consider to be poor quality images, without grayscale. (Advantage Preservation calls those starkly black or white images “bitonal”. I call them crappy looking.) Every pixel seems to be either black or white. However, the scanned newspaper pages were usually readable.

Legacy Tree Genealogy Celebrates 10 years

The following was written by the folks at Legacy Tree Genealogy, Inc.:

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Legacy Tree Genealogy, Inc. is celebrating 10 years as a Salt Lake City based genealogy research firm. They’ve helped hundreds of clients with everything from finding living cousins to becoming members of the Sons of the American Revolution or linking to Russian nobility, and clients keep coming back for more. Creating great relationships with clients as their genealogy unfolds makes this kind of work incredibly rewarding and fun.

TheGenealogist Adds Searchable Records of British and Commonwealth POWs from World War I

The following announcement was written by the folks at TheGenealogist:

TheGenealogist uniquely has launched over 80,000 fully searchable records of British and Commonwealth prisoners, of all ranks, captured in the Great War. Many thousands of Allied servicemen were taken prisoner in the First World War and comprehensive records have been notoriously difficult to find with many related  records being destroyed in the 1930s and the World War 2 Blitz of 1940. The new records provide access to records of all servicemen taken prisoner between 1914 to 1918.

Search all Ranks from The Great War.

Update: MyHeritage Will Offer Free Access to Military Records over the Memorial Day Weekend

On May 19, I wrote at about MyHeritage’s offer of FREE access to millions of US military records. The free access will be available to search from May 23 to May 26.

This is a reminder that the free access is available NOW at

Military records are valuable resources that provide insight into the lives of those who have served in the armed forces, as well as their families. With these records, users can learn about their ancestors and honor their memory and service to their country. Check it out!

New Online Collection of Civil War Records Released in Observance of Memorial Day on FamilySearch

Paul G. Nauta has published an article in the FamilySearch Blog concerning new updates to the free Civil War historic record collections online. He writes:

The new landing page provides a quick overview of the vast array of historic records and aids for those researching casualties and veterans of the Civil War. Collections include: Collections include: Union and Confederate pension, prisoner of war, cemetery, National Soldier Home, and census records. Families can also freely preserve historic photos, stories and correspondence of family members who served in other periods of the armed forces for future generations at

West Valley Genealogical Society & Library Used Book Sale

The West Valley Genealogical Society & Library of Youngtown, Arizona is a nonprofit 501 (3) c private library with more than 14,000 books in its library. The library sells duplicates in order to obtain funds for purchasing new books. This might be a good chance to pick up a few books at bargain prices.

You can find the list of available books for sale at

FamilySearch Adds More Than 3.1 Million Images to Collections from Brazil, Canada, France, Indonesia, Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, and the United States

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

FamilySearch has added more than 3.1 million images to collections from Brazil, Canada, France, Indonesia, Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 268,969 indexed records and images from the new Brazil, São Paulo, Immigration Cards, 1902–1980, collection; the 350,087 images from the Indonesia, Jawa Tengah, Mungkid Citizenship Records, 1985–2013, collection and the 517,928 images from U.S, California, County Marriages, 1850–1952, 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 at

Malawi’s Lone Conservation Officer Seeks to Save His Country’s Heritage

Most of us appreciate what the government has done to preserve the country’s heritage, including keeping records of its residents throughout the years. Imagine a country that doen’t do much to preserve its heritage. Malawi is a country nestled between Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and Mozambique to the east and south. For almost 20 years, the country had had no trained conservator overseeing preservation, conservation and restoration. Now the country has exactly one person who is struggling to preserve important records along with baskets, drums, wood carvings, masks, dinosaur bones, ceramics, Iron Age tools, 19th-century forts used during the slave trade and the richest concentration of rock art in Central Africa