Posts By Dick Eastman

Today is the 125th Anniversary of Lizzie Borden’s (Possible) Act of Murder

Lizzie Borden

One of the more fascinating murder stories in the U.S. occurred 125 years ago today.

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Shortly before noon on August 4, 1892, the body of Andrew Borden, a prosperous businessman, was found in the parlor of his Fall River, Massachusetts, home at 92 Second St. The police were called and they started investigating the rest of the house. They soon found the body of Andrew Borden’s wife, Abby Borden, discovered in an upstairs bedroom. Both had been hacked to death with a hatchet.

While all the neighbors were shocked by the gruesome deaths, many in Fall River were perhaps not entirely surprised that Andrew Borden had met an untimely end. Frugal to a fault, he was a self-made man who had become the head of one of the town’s largest banks and was a substantial property owner. At the time of his death, his estate was valued at $300,000 (equivalent to roughly $8,000,000 today). The dour businessman had also made many enemies on his rise to the top. In fact, it appears he had no friends outside the family.

Early rumors in the days following the murders speculated that Andrew and Abby had perhaps been killed as revenge for Andrew’s shady business dealings.

New Season of PBS Genealogy Program, “Finding Your Roots” Starts October 3

Genealogists in the United States will want to mark their calendars for October 3, 2017. That will be the date of the first episode of the new season of Finding Your Roots With Henry Gates, Jr.

The 10-part series traces the ancestry of influential people from a variety of backgrounds and careers. The program focuses on the melting pot of cultures that has shaped the history of the United States, especially focusing on the various ethnic groups that live within our country. Most episodes explore the ancestry of three guests.

Celebrities who will learn about their ancestors in this season’s episodes include: Ana Navarro, US Senator Bernie Sanders, Larry David, Garrison Keillor, Mary Steenburgen, Scarlett Johansson, Ted Danson, Aziz Ansari, Bryant Gumbel, William H. Macy, and others

​​40,000 ‘Lunatics’ – the Scottish Indexes Genealogy Website Enables People to Discover the True Lives of their Ancestors

The following announcement was written by the folks at Scottish Indexes:

4 August 2017

Glasgow, Scotland – Today Scottish genealogy website www.scottishindexes.com move another step closer to their goal of indexing all historical Scottish mental health records from 1858 to 1915. This release means the index now has 40,000 entries from across Scotland and includes people from every walk of life.

John Rae Thomson – Facts Indicated by Others – “His mother states…that the boys hooted & ran after him in the street crying “daft Jock”. 

These historic mental health records give the story behind the facts. A census record may tell you that your great-grandmother was in an asylum, but not why she was there and that’s what we really want to know. This project, lead by Scottish Indexes, is supported by a growing team of volunteers.

Over 4 Million New & Exclusive United States Marriage Records Available to Search This Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

There are over 4.4 million new records available to search this Findmypast Friday, including:

United States Marriages

Over 4.3 million new records covering Nevada and California have just been added to our collection of United States Marriage records. Exclusively available at Findmypast, the new additions have never before been released online and mark the latest phase of our efforts to create the single largest online collection of U.S. marriage records in history. Covering 360 years of marriages from 1650-2010, when complete this landmark collection will contain at least 100 million records and more than 450 million names from 2,800 counties across America.

Each record includes both a transcripts and an images of the original documents that will reveal the date of the marriage, the full names of both the bride and groom, their birthplaces, birth dates, ages, residence as well as fathers’ and mothers’ names.

Scotland, Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), Poorhouse records 1859-1912

MyHeritage Acquires the Legacy Family Tree Software and Webinar Platform

Major news in the genealogy software marketplace! MyHeritage has acquired Millennia Corporation, makers of the popular Legacy Family Tree genealogy desktop software and well-attended genealogy webinar platform, Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

The following is a quote from the MyHeritage Blog:

We’re delighted to announce today that we’ve acquired Millennia Corporation, makers of the popular Legacy Family Tree genealogy desktop software and well-attended genealogy webinar platform, Legacy Family Tree Webinars. This is our 9th acquisition to date. We consider Legacy’s products to be highly complementary to our wide range of features and services. The acquisition will introduce MyHeritage users to Legacy’s valuable genealogical webinars, and will also provide Legacy’s hundreds of thousands of users with improved resources and access to new services.

Legacy’s webinars, which have been around since 2010, have become the most popular source of education in the genealogy industry. Viewers enjoy talks accompanied by presentations and tutorials on a wide variety of genealogy content from the comfort of their own homes while learning from speakers who are leaders in their field, such as Judy G. Russell, Blaine Bettinger, Lisa Louise Cooke, and Thomas MacEntee. Topics include genealogical research methodology, DNA, historical records, and more. The webinars will continue to feature diverse and high-quality educational content. The webinar platform will also enjoy infrastructure upgrades to support larger audiences.

What is Going On at the Northamptonshire Archives and Heritage Office?

The Northamptonshire (England) Record Office reportedly has made drastic reductions in their services, all without any public consultation. My information is all second-hand. However, I am told that the Record Office management announced last week that they are cutting free access to the public search room to three mornings a week. Previously, it was open three days per week.

Free access is now available only on Tuesday-Thursday mornings, 9am-1pm, and on 7 Saturdays in the year.

If anyone wants to use the archives outside those hours they have to pay £31.50 an hour (roughly $41.37 US per hour).

As you might expect, this announcement caused an uproar amongst genealogists, historians, and others who use the services of the Northamptonshire Record Office. There is an online petition to Save Northamptonshire Record Office at http://bit.ly/2u54klq.

The page for the online petition states:

The History Of Westborough – a CrowdSourced Collection of Historical Digital Photographs

The folks at the Westborough (Massachusetts) Public Library had a wonderful idea: let’s ask local residents to bring in their old photographs taken around town over the years and scan them. Then we will add them to Digital Commonwealth to keep these images safe for years to come.

Old Ford Truck – Click on the above image to view a larger version

The project apparently has had great success.

The idea of the program was to bring out the history of Westborough that is hidden away in attics, basements, or in plain sight, and make it available to the world.

Other Westborough Public Library collections available in the Digital Commonwealth include historical town administrative records, documents relating to Westborough’s participation in the American Revolution, records from the Lyman State Reform School, and a World War II Memorial Scrapbook.

Wouldn’t this be a great project for YOUR town’s library or historical society or some other civic-minded group?

Westborough vs Shrewsbury – 1939 – Click on the above image to view a larger version

Israeli Grandfather Who Thought Family Perished in Holocaust Discovers 500 New Relatives

Here is a wonderful story about what genealogy and DNA can do for families.

By the time Alex Kafri tried to investigate whether anyone on his father’s side had survived the war, there was no one left to ask. He had always assumed that aside from his parents and sister, he was alone in this world. His mother’s entire family, he knew for a fact, had been wiped out during the Holocaust. Although his father never discussed the family members left behind in Lithuania, Kafri was given to believe they had fared no better.

Imagine his surprise, then, when he suddenly discovered many living relatives on his father’s side. A huge number, in fact. After meeting 500 members of his newfound family members at a reunion in London last week, Kafri is still pinching himself in disbelief.

The FGS Preserve the Pensions Project Announces Resumption of Document Conservation at National Archives, Digitization soon to Follow

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

Austin, Texas – The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is pleased to announce National Archives staff have recently resumed document conservation of the War of 1812 Pension files covering surnames M(Moore)-Q. Document conservation is the essential first step in digitizing these files. Our digitization partner, Ancestry.com, has scheduled image capture of these newly conserved documents to begin the second week of September 2017. As capture resumes, new images will be added to Fold3.com on a rolling basis. The Federation and the dedicated volunteers of the Preserve the Pensions project have worked tirelessly for well over a year to negotiate a resolution to the work stoppage. This portion of the project plan is expected to be completed by third quarter 2018.

International African American Museum receives $500k donation from Michelin

The International African American Museum announced a $500,000 corporate investment from the Michelin Corporate Foundation. According to a statement released by the museum, there now remains $12.5 million in private fundraising left to go before they reach their goal.

“Michelin has long exercised its leadership in South Carolina since opening its first plant here more than four decades ago,” said Moore. “This generous gift fortifies and expands Michelin’s commitment to our state and further demonstrates its value for diversity.”

Announcing the 1775 Dublin Directory Database

The following announcement was written by the Irish Genealogical Research Society:

The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) is pleased to announce the launch of another online resource. It is a database index to Wilson’s Dublin Directory, forming part of the 1775 edition of The Treble Almanac, which was published from 1787 to 1837.

As the name suggests, The Treble Almanac is comprised of three separate directories:

Ancestry Appoints Evan Wittenberg as Chief People Officer

The following announcement was written by the folks at Ancestry.com:

LEHI, Utah and SAN FRANCISCO, July 31, 2017 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced that Evan Wittenberg, most recently the Senior Vice President of People at Box, Inc., has joined the company in the new position of Chief People Officer. Wittenberg brings an extensive track record of helping world-class organizations grow and foster their talent while evolving their cultures to support continued expansion.

“There is no higher priority at Ancestry today than our ability to attract and grow the world’s best talent. Very few people can match Evan’s history of leading so many great organizations through change and growth, and fewer still can come close to his track record of success,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer of Ancestry. “I am incredibly proud of the team we have built and of their ability to create a company, brand and products that resonate with millions around the world. Evan will play a critical role in helping us continue to grow and develop the great people we have while attracting the high-caliber talent we need to lead us into tomorrow.”

Israel State Archives Deadlocked by Legal Restrictions

An interesting legal problem has arisen in Israel. In fact, the Israel State Archives is almost at a standstill. In most cases, genealogists and family historians are not allowed to look at the various documents stored at the The dispute centers on who is empowered to allow researchers, or anybody from the general public, to access and read unclassified documents kept at the archive – the entity that deposited the material (such as the Foreign Ministry or Israel Police) or the State Archives itself, which holds the material.

State Archivist Dr. Yaakov Lazowick recently stated, ““A week ago, we really stopped the services of the Archives, according to the instructions of the attorney general. To a great extent (not completely), we have stopped providing service. A researcher who wants to see a file will now have to wait for two months, or half a year or two years. The last is the most likely.”

You can read more in an article by Ofer Aderet in the Haaretz news service at: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.804409.

Book Review: The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide
By Claire Santry. Family Tree Books. 2017. 238 pages.

For years, Ms. Santry avoided research of her Irish ancestors because she believed that a 1922 fire had destroyed all Irish records. Once she realized the myth for the obstacle that it was, she launched her family search.

She believes Irish research it a whole lot easier nowadays, what with the availability of online records, along with the myriad libraries and archives that still hold valuable old registers. Ms. Santry’s experience led to writing the Irish Genealogy Guide which she promises “will give you a thorough grounding in genealogical techniques and point you towards the records you need to search, both in the United States and in Ireland. It’s full of tips, essential explanations about the collections, and strategic advice.”

The book is comprised of:

New Historic Records on FamilySearch: Week of July 31, 2017

The following announcement was written by the folks at FamilySearch:

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, (1 August 2017), FamilySearch added new historic records this week from the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Paraguay, are now available! Search these new free records and new US records from California, Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah. Search one of the new collections by clicking on the links in the interactive table below.

MyHeritage Surpasses 8 Billion Records on SuperSearch

How big is the number 8 billion? 8 billion seconds is 2,222,222 hours, 92,592 days, or 253 years. According to recent surveys, the world population will hit 8 billion people in 6 years time, Americans check their phones 8 billion times per day, and across the United States, drivers were stuck in traffic for 8 billion hours in 2015. It’s also the number of historical records that MyHeritage now has available on SuperSearch™!

This is a significant milestone for the company. You can learn more in the MyHeritage Blog at http://bit.ly/2uUSXxD.

What I Use Now for Backups

I write frequently about the need to make frequent backups of any computer information. After all, you don’t want to lose what you worked so hard to create, do you? I guess I haven’t written about it in a while as a newsletter reader sent a note today asking, “How about an update on what you use for backup now??”

This is my reply:

Well, I never backup to ONE thing! Having only one backup is almost as dangerous as having none. I don’t believe in placing all my eggs in one basket. I always make at least three backups of my desktop system and store them in at least three different locations. I probably backup more than that on my laptop computers.

I back up everything on my desktop computer’s hard drive to an external hard drive that sits beside the computer. I use TimeMachine software for that, a great backup program that is included with every Macintosh. That’s the fastest backup I have and it works automatically all day and night, making backups of all new files automatically within minutes after I create them. I never have to remember to make backups as TimeMachine does all that automatically. Several other companies produce similar software for Windows.

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.

IAJGS Conference in Orlando is a Success

I spent much of last week at the annual conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. This conference serves as an annual reunion of top Jewish genealogists and newcomers alike. The conference is held in a different city around the world every year. This year’s event was held in Orlando, Florida on July 23 through 28. Count them: that’s 6 days of conference!

Walt Disney World Swan Resort

The conference was held at the Walt Disney World Swan resort, a top-notch venue for a conference. Than again, it is a Disney property so you expect it to be good! I don’t think anyone was disappointed.

The conference included 369 events, including 225 lectures and panels, 33 films, 42 BOF/SIG (Birds of a Feather/Special Interest Group) meetings, 19 computer workshops, an excellent computer lab, and more than a dozen breakfasts and luncheons.

60+ sessions were live streamed over the Internet and also will be available on demand (for a fee) until 1 November 2017. If you were unable to attend in person, you can learn more about watching many of the presentations by going to http://live.iajgs.org.

The Demise of CDs and DVDs

Alas, poor CDs and DVDs, we hardly knew ye.

Have you purchased any software lately? How about digital images of an old genealogy book? Did you obtain them on a CD or DVD disk? If so, keep that disk. It is already an antique and probably will be a collector’s item before long.

Twenty years ago, we all purchased software on floppy disks. Perhaps ten years ago, software was usually delivered on CD-ROM disks. When was the last time you purchased software that was delivered on a CD or even a high-capacity DVD-ROM disk? Yes, there are a few companies that still deliver software that way, but the number of such companies is dwindling.

Most software these days is delivered electronically, usually by means of a file download. Even Microsoft is now delivering Windows 10 by software download.