Posts By Dick Eastman

The History of Digital Photography

Digital photography is so new you might not think it would have any history. An article by Allison Marsh and published in the IEEE web site will prove you wrong.

Photo: George Eastman Museum
This 1975 digital camera prototype used a 100-by-100-pixel CCD to capture images. Digital photography didn’t enter the mainstream for another 20 years.

Author Marsh starts at the beginning with the world’s first digital camera created in a laboratory 46 years ago, then mentions many of the highlights since then.

Historical Record Collections Added to MyHeritage in June 2020

The following is an extract from a much longer and more detailed list in the MyHeritage Blog:

We just added 8.3 million historical records in June from six new collections from the U.K., Spain, and New Zealand. Four million records from a World War I medal index were added from the U.K. Three collections from the Vitoria Diocese in Spain were added: a baptism index, a marriage index, and a death index. In addition, two collections from New Zealand were added: a World War I service index and an index of early settlers. This update brings the total number of historical records on MyHeritage to 12.5 billion.

Here are more details on each of the new collections:

Test Your Dog’s DNA

I have written before (at about testing a dog’s DNA. However, I noted this morning that Amazon has a dog DNA testing kit from the same testing company on sale for $99. If you want to check your dog’s heritage, this might be the time to do so.

The advertisement states:

BCG and Legacy Present a Free Webinar

The following announcement was written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG):
Thursday, August 6, 2020, at 8 p.m. Eastern
“Preparing a Portfolio: Applying to Become a Certified Genealogist®


In this live webinar, three trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®(BCG) will share various pathways to certification. They will discuss the process of becoming a board-certified genealogist, explain portfolio elements, and answer questions from participants. Certification is based on the evaluation of a portfolio of work products with specific elements, and indicates competence in research, analysis, kinship determination, and reporting skills. Successful applicants are entitled to use their credentials as Certified Genealogists (CG) as post-nominals.

The webinar presenters are LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, Angela Packer McGhie, CG, and Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA. LaBrenda is the BCG President, Angela is Vice-President, and Richard is the secretary and immediate past president.

A Message from MyHeritage

Click on the above image for more information.

National Genealogical Society’s 2020 On-Demand! Now Available

The following announcement was written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

FALLS CHURCH, VA, 7 JULY 2020—Individuals interested in researching their family history can now purchase educational webinars at the National Genealogical Society’s Virtual Family History Conference. NGS 2020 On-Demand! offers three packages of ten, twenty, and forty-five lectures for purchase and streaming on As a bonus, every package also includes twenty-six, free webinars.

Once an individual purchases a package, he may choose from more than eighty-five sessions that cover a comprehensive range of topics, including DNA, ethnic heritage and women, immigration and migration, records and resources, religion, and research techniques and methodology. To learn more, download the Sessions Guide for the full list of webinars.

New Free Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of 6 July 2020

FamilySearch added 2M more indexed obituaries this week to United States collections, along with 300K Brazilian civil registrations and 200K English church records. New records added for Canada, Chile, Finland, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, S. Africa, and Sweden.  United States additions included: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Virginia.

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

(UK) National Archives Announces Reopening of Reading Rooms on July 21st

The following was written by; Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

The (UK) National Archives announced that on July 21st the reading rooms in Kew will reopen after being closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Archives will be providing limited access to parts of the building and our services will operate differently for the time being.

They are introducing new systems:

The Best Free Family Tree Templates for Microsoft Word and Excel

Want to create your own printed Family Tree reports? Do you have Microsoft Word and Excel or any word processor or spreadsheet program that can handle Word and Excel documents? If so, you will be interested in “41+ Free Family Tree Templates (Word, Excel, PDF)” on the Template Lab website.

The site includes blank, fill-in-the form templates that you can use to make some gorgeous looking reports. Best of all, they are available free of charge.

Data of Over 61,000 Turkish Jewish Gravestones Online in New Database

An ambitious project has been launched online, documenting Jewish gravestones in Turkey.

The project, entitled World Beyond: Jewish Cemeteries in Turkey 1583-1990 contains the details of over 61,022 Jewish tombstones spread across Turkey, which makes it one of the largest tombstone databases in the world – covering over 400 years of Turkish Jewish life.

The project is part of The Turkish and Balkan Jewry Documentation Project of the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center of Tel Aviv University. The researchers hope to also include cemeteries across Greece, Albania and Bulgaria.

You can read more in an article by Alex Winston in The Jerusalem Post at

Findmypast Celebrate Independence Day 2020 With 17 Million New US Records

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

   Millions of new marriage records from Indiana, Massachusetts and Oregon

    • New military records covering the Revolutionary War, Civil War and First World War including photos, physical descriptions, service histories and biographical details
    • New and exclusive Yorkshire Parish Baptisms and British newspapers also available to search 

In celebration of 4 July 2020, leading family history website Findmypast has added more than 17 million new records from across the United States to their ever-expanding collection of family history records. This includes:

United States Marriages

Over 16 million new additions covering the states of Indiana, Massachusetts and Oregon have been added to the collection. United Stats Marriages now contains more than 246 million records spanning 450 years of American history and, when complete, will form the largest single online collection of its kind.

TheGenealogist Launches New Parish Records

The following announcement was written by TheGenealogist:

TheGenealogist has added over 85,500 individuals to their Parish Records for Worcestershire to increase the coverage of this English county.

Released in association with Malvern Family History Society this is an ongoing project where high quality transcripts of Parish Records are made available for family history researchers to find their ancestors.

    • 54,948 individuals have been added to the Worcestershire baptism records
    • 8,703 new individuals join the marriage records for this county
    • 3,558 individuaTheGenealogistls newly released for Worcestershire banns of marriages records
    • 18,293 individuals added to the burials records for Worcestershire

Registration is Now Open for the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Virtual Family History Conference

The following announcement was written by the Federation of Genealogical Societies:

(+) Possibly the Best (?) Document Scanner for Home and Office Use

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

I have gone paperless!

Actually, I have been on a mission to be paperless for several years. However, a new scanner allows me to do more than before with less hassle and at higher speeds than ever before.

I decided to go paperless several years ago. Since then, every piece of paper that enters my house, whether I carry it in or it is delivered by the postal carrier, gets examined promptly. With anything that requires action, such as paying bills or scheduling a trip to the grocery store, I force myself to handle it as soon as possible, usually within minutes after opening the envelope. Any paper that needs to be saved for any reason gets scanned and saved in my secure cloud file storage services, and the paper is then immediately shredded and sent to recycling. Finally, any piece of paper that doesn’t require action and isn’t worth saving, such as advertising “junk mail,” goes to the shredder within minutes after its arrival without being digitized.

Life without paper is great!

A few days ago, an Amazon driver delivered my new scanner. I must say that I am pleased with it. If it isn’t the absolute best document scanner for home and office use, it certainly must qualify as one of the best. Indeed, it is undoubtedly the best document scanner that I have ever used. Admittedly, I have only used a dozen or so document scanners at home and at work in the past few years, but this scanner outshines all the others. It cost more than I had planned to spend; but now that I have used it for a while, I am very happy with the purchase.

Best of all, I don’t even need a computer to scan and the new scanner will save all sorts of documents!

Scan to Cloud

The Confederates Who Moved to Brazil

Many citizens of the Confederacy disappeared from public records at the end of the Civil War or soon thereafter. Of course, record keeping was spotty at best in the turmoil that followed the defeat of the Confederacy. If you can’t find your relatives during that time, you might be tempted to say, “Oh well, he (or she) probably died in the war.” Don’t be so sure.

Americana is a small city about 100 miles from São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. The town was settled by disgruntled American Confederates after their side lost the Civil War. Descendants of the original settlers still live there today, and most of them still speak English with a strong southern drawl.

Map showing the location of Americana, São Paulo, Brazil

After the Civil War, many families from the old South were left landless and destitute. They probably hated living under a conquering army of Yankees. Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II realized this group of disenchanted Americans could be a solution to one of his problems: how to develop the sparsely-settled areas of his country. He was especially interested in developing the cultivation of cotton, a crop well-known to the former Confederates. He provided incentives to people who knew how to raise cotton, offering land at twenty-two cents an acre with four years credit and passage to Brazil for thirty Yankee dollars. Each family was encouraged to bring a tent, light-weight furniture, farming supplies and seeds, and provisions to last six months.

Florida Becomes First State to Enact DNA Privacy Law, Blocking Insurers From Genetic Data

Florida on Wednesday became the nation’s first state to enact a DNA privacy law, prohibiting life, disability and long-term care insurance companies from using genetic tests for coverage purposes.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1189, sponsored by Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor. It extends federal prohibitions against health insurance providers accessing results from DNA tests, such as those offered by 23andMe or AncestryDNA, to the three other insurers.

Sprowls, the House speaker-designate, called the legislation a “major victory for Floridians” that “will make Florida the leader in the nation in protecting our residents and our citizens’ genetic information” when it was adopted by the House, 110-0, and the Senate, 35-3.

New Free Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of 29 June 2020

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

Discover your ancestors at FamilySearch this week in over 2.5M new indexed New York Land Records; along with new obituary and church census records from Utah, and Native American records from Oklahoma. Explore expanded world collections from BoliviaBrazil, Canada,  England, France, Peru, S. Africa,  and  Venezuela among othersSearch new vital records for California, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio,Pennsylvania and Louisiana as noted below.

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

An Obituary for a House?

If deceased people can have obituaries published, why can’t a house have the same thing when it “dies?” In fact, that has been done.

A house at 1720 Julian Street, Denver, Colorado was demolished quietly on the afternoon of June 8, 2020. She is believed to have been aged somewhere between 121 and 135 years—her origin story is certainly complicated.

The “obituary” for 1720 Julian, written by Katie Rudolph, may be found in the Denver Public Library’s web site at:

My thanks to newsletter reader Harry Ross for telling me about this obituary.

“I Have My Family Tree Back to Adam and Eve”

This is another bit of fiction that needs to be wiped out. I have often heard people (I won’t call them “genealogists”) at various times make the claim they have traced their family tree back to Adam and Eve. Of course, the “documentation” is always sketchy.

Robert C. Gunderson was a Senior Royalty Research Specialist, of the Church Genealogical Department, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). He was an expert in medieval genealogy and started the Royalty Identification Unit in 1972. He passed away in 2003. However, before his death, Gunderson once was asked if such research was possible. He replied:

“The simplest answer is No. Let me explain. In thirty-five years of genealogical research, I have yet to see a pedigree back to Adam that can be documented. By assignment, I have reviewed hundreds of pedigrees over the years. I have not found one where each connection on the pedigree can be justified by evidence from contemporary documents. In my opinion it is not even possible to verify historically a connected European pedigree earlier than the time of the Merovingian Kings (c. a.d. 450–a.d. 752).

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.

Given the events of the past month with genealogy web sites 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.