MyHeritage Announces a DNA Day Sale through April 25


This is an excellent chance to save on a DNA test for yourself… or give two or three of them to others.

Click here to learn more.

(US) Department of Commerce Announces Changes to Limited Access Death Master File (also called the Social Security Death Index, or SSDI)

The following report was written by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee and published originally on the IAJGS Public Records Access Alert mailing list:

The (US) Department of Commerce announced that effective April 1, 2018 the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) implemented upgrades to modernize and enhance access to the Limited Access Death Master File (LADMF). One of the changes is their new website accessible at: https://ladmf.ntis.gov/  You will have to register at the site to familiarize yourself with and the new subscription options.

You may recall that when the proposed  certification to the LADMF was announced, genealogists basically could not be certified as they could not  meet the onerous requirements for business security and the cost of subscriptions. The submitted testimonies by various genealogical groups, including the IAJGS and the Records  Preservation and Monitoring Committee (RPAC) of which IAJGS is a sponsoring member fell on “deaf ears”.

The remainder of the notice sent to IAJGS is copied in its entirety below as it is not posted to their website:

Findmypast Publishes More of The National Archives’ Collection of British Army officers’ Widows’ Pension Forms

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • British Army officers’ widows’ pension forms spanning the years 1755 – 1908 indexed online for the first time
  • Over 13,000 records, including transcripts and scanned images of original documents, now available to searchLeading British family history website, Findmypast, today announces the publication of a new online collection of British Army Pension records held by The National Archives.

    Indexed online for the first time, British Army Officers’ Widows’ Pension Forms 1755 – 1908, spans more than 150 years of British military history and contains over 13,000 transcripts and scanned images taken from The National Archives series “WO 42: War Office: Officers’ Birth Certificates, Wills and Personal Papers”.

SLIG Scholarship Opportunities

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

SLIG is pleased to announce that applications are currently being accepted for the following SLIG scholarships.

SLIG Jimmy B. Parker Scholarship: Named in honor of Jimmy B. Parker, this scholarship recognizes those who have “demonstrated commitment to genealogical excellence and community involvement”. Parker’s legacy of more than 50 years of service serves as the guideline for the application essay detailing how attending SLIG will help the applicant enhance their ability to serve or prepare them to give back to the genealogical community.

The Genealogy of First Lady Barbara Bush

The following was written by the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

As America Mourns Barbara Bush, Genealogists at New England Historic Genealogical Society Announce She Was Related to Ten Presidents,  Including her Husband, and to Prince William

April 19, 2018—Boston, Massachusetts—As the nation mourned the passing of one of its most-beloved American First Ladies, the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) remembered Barbara Pierce Bush, a woman whose life will be noted as one of only two in the nation’s history to be both the wife and mother of an American President, and who was related to ten presidents (including her husband and son) and to European royalty. Her funeral is set for Saturday.

Ancestry Names Margo Georgiadis Chief Executive Officer

The following announcement was written by Ancestry.com:

Appointment Concludes Six-Month Global Search

Interim CEO Howard Hochhauser to Return to Role as CFO and COO

LEHI, Utah and SAN FRANCISCO — April 19, 2018 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Margo Georgiadis as Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors. Georgiadis will join the company on May 10, 2018. Most recently Georgiadis served as Chief Executive Officer of Mattel, Inc. and prior to that as President, Americas, at Google Inc. Georgiadis will succeed Howard Hochhauser, who has served as interim CEO since October 2017 while the Board conducted a comprehensive six-month search for a permanent CEO. Hochhauser will return to his role as Ancestry’s CFO and COO.

“I am thrilled to join Ancestry at a dynamic period of accelerated growth and innovation,” said Georgiadis. “Ancestry is incredibly well-positioned for continued success and rapid expansion, as millions of consumers around the world embark on their journey of self-discovery with us. I am excited to help realize Ancestry’s mission to connect the world and enhance our consumers’ understanding of who they are and where they come from. In partnership with the world-class Ancestry team, together we will seek to drive the company to new heights.”

April 25 is National DNA Day in the U.S.

National DNA Day commemorates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) began celebrating DNA Day annually on April 25th after the 108th Congress passed concurrent resolutions designating it as DNA Day. The goal of National DNA Day is to offer students, teachers and the public an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the latest advances in genomic research and explore how those advances might impact their lives.

The Great Famine Voices Roadshow in the USA and Canada

For over a century and a half shame and silence were the most common Irish responses to the calamity of the Great Hunger. A million dead, a million fled was the old saying, but concern over igniting further strife in the present (a particular concern during the Troubles) kept a lid on most discussions of it. But now a new roadshow coming to the USA and Canada plans to give voice to the descendants of famine era Irish immigrants, many for the first time.

The roadshow is being funded by the Emigrant Support Program of the Irish government. Thanks to a new initiative from the both the National Famine Museum in Strokestown Park and The Irish Heritage Trust, a series of free open house events will be held in the USA and Canada where descendants of Irish emigrants and the general public are welcome to come together and share their family memories and stories of coming to America, especially during the period of the Great Hunger, which was 1845 to 1852.

Never Throw Away Records of People!

The Home Office destroyed thousands of landing card slips recording Windrush immigrants’ arrival dates in the UK, despite staff warnings that the move would make it harder to check the records of older Caribbean-born residents experiencing residency difficulties.

Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised to Caribbean leaders over deportation threats made to the children of Commonwealth citizens, who despite living and working in the UK for decades, have been told they are living in the UK illegally because of a lack of official paperwork. The reason there is “a lack of official paperwork” is because the paperwork was destroyed by the government, not the fault of the immigrants or their children.

Who Owns a Cemetery?

An article in the Cowley (Kansas) CourierTimes highlights a frequent question: Who owns a cemetery?

Actually, in many parts of the U.S., most cemeteries have clearly identified owners. Municipal cemeteries are owned by the town or city. The local Catholic cemetery is obviously owned by the Catholic Church and other cemeteries may be owned by other religious organizations, fraternal organizations, while some others are owned by corporations or by non-profit cemetery associations. However, there are thousands of other cemeteries where ownership is not clearly defined.

One such case is the small, rural Liberty Cemetery in Arkansas City, Kansas.

SLIG Calls for Proposals

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

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) continues to reach out to advanced, experienced teaching professionals in the genealogical community for new course content, presentation, and publication proposals.

The following Calls for Proposals are now open:

SLIG 2020 Course Proposals: SLIG offers courses on local, state, regional, and international topics taught at an intermediate level or above; specific record types, skills, methodology, and related technologies or strategies are preferred at a high-intermediate to advanced level. Courses with hands-on learning opportunities are encouraged as well as those that fill educational needs not addressed elsewhere. The deadline for course proposals is August 1, 2018; inquiries are accepted at any time.

The MyHeritage DNA Quest Pro Bono Project helping Adoptees is now Global

Last month, MyHeritage launched the DNA Quest, a new pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. The initiative, initially launched in the USA only, received an amazing response. More than 10,000 applications were submitted so far to receive free DNA kits, from the quota of 15,000 free DNA kits pledged by MyHeritage, worth more than one million dollars.

Being that the deadline for submissions is the end of April 2018 and there are still about 3 more weeks to go, and in light of the many requests MyHeritage has received from the community to expand DNA Quest worldwide, the company decided to increase the scope of the project, from USA-only to global. This means that people are now eligible to participate in DNA Quest regardless of their place of residence and regardless of where the adoption took place.

You can read more in the MyHeritage Blog at https://blog.myheritage.com/2018/04/dna-quest-goes-global.

The DNA Quest website may be found at: http://www.dnaquest.org.

Libraries and Archives Canada Introduces Co-Lab, a Tool to Collaborate on Historical Records

Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing as “… a sourcing model in which individuals or organizations obtain goods and services, including ideas and finances, from a large, relatively open and often rapidly-evolving group of internet users; it divides work between participants to achieve a cumulative result.”

Crowdsourcing seems to be a great tool for genealogists to work together for the benefit of all. I have written often about the use of crowdsourcing in genealogy. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+crowdsourcing&t=hb&ia=web for a list of my earlier articles about crowdsourcing.

Now Libraries and Archives Canada is inviting everyone to “transcribe, add keywords and image tags, translate content from an image or document and add descriptions to digitized images using Co-Lab and the new Collection SearchBETA.”

The new project is described this way:

Cherokee Family Research Center to Host a Conference

The Five Tribes Ancestry Conference will be presented June 7-9 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma. The conference is the first of its kind and is endorsed by the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, whose mission is to unite the tribal governments of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek and Seminole nations.

Details may be found in the NewsOK web site at: http://bit.ly/2JV0J1G.

Third Annual Armenian Genealogy Conference to Take Place on June 9 in New Jersey

The Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey will sponsor and host the third annual Armenian Genealogy Conference on June 9. According to organizers, the conference will help Armenians delve into their family roots by offering research methods for beginners and advanced genealogists as well as topics of interest to scholars of various disciplines. The main morning session will give an overview of current state of Armenian genealogy as well as the available records from around the world.

Other sponsors of the annual conference include the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Houshamadyan.org, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archive, and the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society.

Additional details on the conference and speakers as well as the registration form can be found at: http://bit.ly/2J5kMZQ.

Congregational Library and Archives Hidden History Project

The Congregational Library and Archives’ “Hidden History” project is locating and digitizing New England church records from 1630 to 1800 and putting them online for free.

According to the project’s web site, “Congregational church records are an unparalleled source of information about the religious activities of the early colonists, and about many other aspects of early American life. The Congregational Library and Archives, in partnership with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale is currently preserving these records and making them available to the public.”

Five Days Left to Register Online for NGS Conference

If you are planning to attend the annual conference of the National Genealogical Society, this is a reminder that there are only a few days left to pre-register for the NGS Family History Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2‒5 May 2018. Pre-conference registration ends 20 April. On-site registration and check-in will be available beginning at 12:00 noon, 1 May, in the DeVos Place Convention Center.

Details may be found at: http://bit.ly/2JQj2F6.

Hands On with a 256 Gigabyte Flash Drive

Flash drives have been around for 15 years or more. Sometimes called “thumb drives” or “jump drives” or “memory sticks,” these tiny devices have become one of the most useful devices a computer user can own.

A flash drive is a data storage device about the size of a tube of lipstick that includes flash memory with an integrated USB interface. It is typically removable, rewritable, and much smaller than a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM disk. Flash drives are rugged, can withstand normal handling, and are impervious to magnetism. As a result, they make great devices for storing data. They are often used for making backup copies of important information as well as for transporting files from one computer to another. As such, they have largely replaced floppy disks (remember those?) and CD-ROM and DVD-ROM disks.

There are many reasons for the success of flash drives, but perhaps the single biggest factor has been the increase in storage capacity of these tiny devices. The first USB flash drive was sold in the U.S. by I.B.M. in the year 2000. Called the DiskOnKey, it held just eight megabytes of files. That was considered to be huge at the time, more than 5 times the storage capacity of the floppy disks that it replaced.

Of course, the storage capacity started increasing as manufacturing techniques became refined. Today, flash drives that will store 256 gigabytes are common at reasonable prices. That’s 32,000 times the storage capacity of the first flash drives that were considered to be huge at that time! However, in less than 10 years, the flash drive’s storage capacity has increased to 256 gigabytes and more.

Unlike a few years ago, it is now possible to back up an entire hard drive to a flash drive! In fact, it is possible to purchase a flash drive with 2 terabytes of storage capacity; however, prices for the 2-terabyte flash drives are not cost-effective for most consumers. Prices escalate quickly for the few flash drives that will store more than 256 gigabytes. For instance, Amazon sells the Kingston Digital 2TB DataTraveler Ultimate GT flash drive for $1,386.93 U.S. at https://amzn.to/2HyRyTX. For home computing purposes, 256 gigabytes seems to be the practical limit for today’s flash drives.

NOTE: Do not be fooled by shady vendors offering to sell one terabyte or two terabyte flash drives for bargain prices of $10 or $20. Those are scams! For details, read my earlier article, Beware the Flash Drive Scam, at: https://blog.eogn.com/2016/09/07/beware-the-flash-drive-scam/.

I recently purchased a VisionTek 256-gigabyte USB 3.0 SSD Pro flash drive and have fallen in love with it. I thought I would describe my experiences with it.

The VisionTek 256-gigabyte flash drive costs $141.78, a price that is significantly higher than external hard drives of the same storage capacity. However, that strikes me as a modest price when you factor in the ease of use, much faster speed, and much smaller size compared to external hard drives.

This 256-gigabyte flash drive works well with all the recent versions of Microsoft Windows. (That’s not true of all high-capacity flash drives.) The flash drive was formatted at the factory in Microsoft’s Windows NT File System (NTFS) format. As such, all Windows systems produced in the past 10 or 15 years will work with this flash drive.

However, I wanted to use my new flash drive on my Mac. While Macintosh systems can read NTFS-formatted disks and flash drives, a Mac cannot write to them without installing third-party software in the Mac that adds the capability to both read AND write NTFS formatted devices. When I first plugged the VisionTek 256-gigabyte flash drive into my Macintosh system, I could not write to it.

I had a choice. I could either reformat the flash drive in the Macintosh HPFS format (which means it will no longer work on Windows systems), or I could purchase and install one of the third-party NTFS drivers for Macintosh produced by any of several companies. (See https://www.howtogeek.com/236055/how-to-write-to-ntfs-drives-on-a-mac/ for details.) I decided to pay $19.95 and install Paragon NTFS for Mac. The installation process was painless and was completed in a minute or two. I now have the capability to read AND write to this 256-gigabyte flash drive from any modern Windows system and from my own Macintosh system – but not from other Macs that lack a third-party NTFS driver.

When shopping for a high-capacity flash drive, I wanted one with a USB 3.0 interface. While there are high capacity USB 2.0 or USB 2.1 flash drives available at lower prices, the slower speed of those devices can be a major drawback when copying hundreds of gigabytes through a USB port. A USB 3.0 connection transfers at roughly ten times the speed of USB 2.0 or USB 2.1 (4.8 Gigabits per second for USB 3.0 versus 480 Megabits per second for USB 2.0). Do you really want to wait 10 hours or more to fill a high-capacity USB 2.0 flash drive? See https://www.diffen.com/difference/USB_2.0_vs_USB_3.0#USB_3.0_Highlights_and_Benefits_over_USB_2.0 for more information.

Of course, high speeds can only be obtained if the computer being used also has USB 3.0 ports. The USB standard is backwards-compatible; this means that plugging a high-speed USB 3.0 flash drive into a computer that has USB 2.1 ports will work reliably, but it will be throttled down to the lower speed.

If you own a USB 3.0-compatible computer or think you may be upgrading to such a faster computer within the next year or so, you probably will want to only consider high-capacity flash drives that support the USB 3.0 standard. When purchasing lower-capacity flash drives or when only copying a few files at a time, the speed differences will be less noticeable. In my case, my laptop and desktop computers and even my cell phone all have USB 3.0 connections.

Once I unpacked the VisionTek 256-gigabyte USB 3.0 SSD Pro flash drive, the first thing I noticed is that it is bigger than my other flash drives. See the picture below for a comparison with an older 16-gigabyte flash drive that I already owned. However, the larger size doesn’t seem to be a factor as it easily plugs into the same USB ports on my computers that I have used previously. The larger size doesn’t appear to be enough of a difference to interfere with USB connectors or flash drives that are plugged into adjacent USB ports on my computer.

The new, high-capacity flash drive is also a bit heavier than the older flash drives I have used at about 2.5 ounces. To be blunt, I wouldn’t even notice the difference unless I was holding the old flash drive in one hand and the new flash drive in the other. Any time you are talking about items of 3 ounces or less, the differences are trivial.

The VisionTek 256-gigabyte flash drive appears to be very well made. I suspect it will withstand heavy abuse. However, like almost all other flash drives, it is not guaranteed to be waterproof. I once destroyed an older flash drive when I accidentally sent it through the laundry!

So, how well does it work?

In short, the VisionTek 256-gigabyte flash drive worked perfectly in my testing, once I installed the NTFS driver in my Macintosh. Windows users shouldn’t encounter any problems at all. The first thing I did after unboxing it was to plug it into my iMac and copy about 162 gigabytes of documents, digital pictures, and videos. The entire copy required 36 minutes. Had I used a flash drive with a USB 2.1 interface, I suspect the same file copy would have required 5 hours or more.

The VisionTek 256-gigabyte flash drive did become warm while copying all the files at high speed. However, I would describe it as “warm,” not “hot.” I didn’t feel the heat was a problem.

Summation

I am pleased with the 256 gigabyte flash drive. I already copy all my data files to a file storage service in the cloud, but having an extra backup is always a good idea. Besides, when traveling, I now can take the backup with me in a device that weighs 2.5 ounces. I also installed the NTFS driver in my laptop MacBook Pro so that I could use the same flash drive in it.

There is a downside to the small size and light weight of the flash drive, however. At the price of this thing, I would hate to lose it! I have had other flash drives that “disappeared” from my pocket. While inconvenient, I don’t lose too much sleep over losing a $20 flash drive. (My files are encrypted so that nobody else can read them.) However, at $141.78, I am going to keep a close eye on this flash drive!

The VisionTek 256-gigabyte USB 3.0 SSD Pro flash drive is not the only high-capacity flash drive available. I did not perform a side-by-side comparison with devices made by other manufacturers simply because it would have cost too much to purchase multiple drives and test all of them. However, I suspect my experience was similar to using any of the other competitive flash drives.

You can learn more about the VisionTek 256-gigabyte USB 3.0 SSD Pro flash drive by starting at https://duckduckgo.com/?q=VisionTek+256-gigabyte+USB+3.0+SSD+Pro&t=hf&ia=products. I purchased mine from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2HbmAjH but you might find lower prices by shopping on other sites.

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. Here are the articles in this week’s Plus Edition newsletter:

(+) Preserving Data: Separating Facts from Fiction

How can I Store my Digital Photos Forever?

DNA Quest by MyHeritage Goes Global

Book Reviews: 6 Books by Joseph Lee Boyle

COSLA: eBook Feasibility Study for Public Libraries

Recent Updates to the Calendar of Genealogy Events

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

Ireland, United Kingdom, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin

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.