(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:

Yonkers, NY Birth and Death Records Go Online For First Time

Reclaim the Records claims another victory for genealogists! The following is from the Reclaim the Records announcement at:



Hello again from Reclaim The Records! We hope everybody has been hunkered down safely and soundly for the last few months, maybe working on some genealogy from home with some of the records we’ve helped release online over the past few years. Well, we’re back to announce some great new records you might want to check out while you hunker in your bunker. And as always, these new records we’ve acquired and published are totally free.

After literally years of negotiating and haggling (although luckily stopping short of yet another lawsuit), we are pleased to announce the first-ever publication of tens of thousands of late nineteenth and early twentieth century births and deaths for Yonkers, New York. We’ve photographed the alphabetical indices, and for most years we were able to photograph the full birth and death registers, too!

And none of these record books had ever been available to the public to use or browse before, not even on microfilm at a library. And the people listed in these records were generally not in the statewide birth and death indices that we previously acquired and published for New York.

These photos are all new, and they’re gorgeous:

Click on the above image to view a much larger version.

Announcing: ORA, the Online Repository Assistant

This is very interesting. Here is a new offering created by John Cardinal, a well-known software developer who focuses on creating software tools for genealogists. His past accomplishments include Family History Hosting as well as companion programs for use with The Master Genealogist (TMG) (from Wholly Genes Software), Second Site, and the TMG Utility. Now John has created a new product that looks like it will be a very useful tool. Here is the announcement from John:

Narragansett, Rhode Island, June 17, 2020 – Family History Hosting is pleased to announce ORA, a web browser extension combined with a Windows program to help you extract data from the web pages of your favorite online repositories and capture the information in your preferred genealogy program. ORA has several features that will save time, reduce errors, and increase the consistency of your data entry.

ORA works with the Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Opera browsers when used under Windows and supports these online repositories:, FamilySearch, Find a Grave, Findmypast, General Register Office (UK),, and Nova Scotia Genealogy. More repositories will be added with each update.

The Genealogy Guys and Vivid-Pix Announce Society Grants Program and New Unsung Heroes Program Nominees

The following announcement was written by the Genealogy Guys and Vivid-Pix:

The Genealogy Guys Podcast, the world’s oldest genealogy podcast, and Vivid-Pix, makers of the acclaimed RESTORE photo and document image improvement software, announce a new Unsung Heroes Program and a call for nominations for Unsung Heroes Awards.

The partners created the Unsung Heroes Awards in 2019 to encourage, acknowledge and celebrate members of the genealogy community who lead the way in digitizing, indexing, and transcribing photos and documents, for use by researchers around the globe. They have added a brand-new Unsung Heroes Societies Grant Program for societies to obtain a scanner and high-quality software to make digitization projects a reality. They have also adjusted the Unsung Heroes Awards Program eligible nominees and the contents of the prize package.

Announcing the 400th Anniversary Edition of “Of Plimoth Plantation”

The following announcement was written by American Ancestors|New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts:

Native American Historian and American History Experts
Offer a Groundbreaking Look at
the Most Important Eyewitness Account of the Mayflower Story

A Newly-Annotated Edition of
Governor William Bradford’s Account of Plymouth Colony,
Published by American Ancestors and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Provides New Perspectives on Colonization and Conflict

May 21, 2020—Boston, Massachusetts—In this first-of-its-kind edition of Bradford’s account of the Mayflower’s journey, its arrival in 1620, and life in the New World—published this week by American Ancestors and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts—Wampanoag, American, and Dutch scholars set the record straight about the impact of the arrival of 102 passengers to what they would call Plymouth Colony. This new book offers a fresh perspective on what took place over the first years of settlement—particularly the interactions between the Pilgrims and the Native people—in time for this year’s 400th anniversary of one of the most impactful events in world history.

A Correction to the Correction Concerning the New Prime-Time Television Series “The Genetic Detective”

CeCe Moore

On April 16, I published an announcement at of a new television series: The Genetic Detective, starring well-known genetic genealogist CeCe Moore. I simply copied-and-pasted the announcement sent to me by ABC News. The announcement stated:

“Moore Takes on Her First-Ever Cold Case – the Double Homicide of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg – in Series Premiere, Tuesday, May 26 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC”

I will refer to that as “the original announcement.”

On May 15, I received a second announcement from ABC News that announced a change of date for the premier. It repeated the original announcement and then added some more information. (I will refer to that as “the second announcement.”) I copied-and-pasted the second announcement into this newsletter at This new announcement repeated the original announcement and then added a new section labelled “AIRDATE CHANGE” that announced:

Surnames Dictionary is Free During Lockdown

An online dictionary explaining the meanings and origins of more than 45,000 British and Irish surnames is being made accessible to all in the hope that it might help bring families separated by Covid-19 closer together.

For one week only, people will be able to tap into the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland for free and find out where their surnames – and thus perhaps their ancestors – came from.

If nothing else, it might be a welcome break from the virtual family quizzes and bingo games that have stood in for face-to-face contact so often during lockdown.

American Ancestors│NEHGS and the Boston Public Library to Look at “How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are” in a Virtual Event

The following announcement was written by American Ancestors│NEHGS:

Journalist Libby Copeland Talks about The Lost Family Wednesday, May 20, at 6 p.m. EDST in a Virtual Event Series Titled “American Stories, Inspiration Today” Providing History, Inspiration, Intelligence on the American Experience for This Unprecedented At-home Time

Talks Are Free – Online Registration Now Open

May 14, 2020—Boston, Massachusetts—On Wednesday, May 20, at 6:00 p.m. EDST, journalist Libby Copeland will discuss the impact of DNA testing on the American family in a presentation of her new book, The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are. The evening event will include a conversation with Amy Dockser Marcus, a health and science reporter for the Wall Street Journal, who has reported in depth on the topic.

The Ontario (Canada) Ancestors Conference will be held as an Online Virtual Conference on June 6 & 7, 2020

The Details may be found at

A list of all the other genealogy cancellations and postponements received to date may be found at

MyHeritage Project Documenting Remote Tribes Grabs Webby Award Nomination

According to an article in the CTech web site at,7340,L-3817071,00.html:

A web project documenting the lives of isolated tribes around the world, created by Israeli genealogy company MyHeritage Ltd., has been nominated for a Webby Award for corporate social responsibility, MyHeritage announced Saturday.

Called Tribal Quest, the project was also selected as an honoree in the Best Use of Photography category, the company said.

The MyHeritage team in Tel Aviv. Photo: Shmulik Elbo

MyHeritage Announces New Colorization Settings for MyHeritage In Color™

MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has announced that you can now customize the settings for MyHeritage In Color™ to achieve even better results for your colorized photos. Quoting from the announcement:

MyHeritage In Color™ is an automatic colorization feature that brings your old black and white family photos to life using sophisticated machine learning technology. It has become one of our most popular features recently, with nearly 11 million photos colorized in less than 3 months!

We are pleased to announce that it is now possible to customize the colorization settings of MyHeritage In Color™, to improve its results even further.

The quality of automatic photo colorization depends on many factors, such as the quality of the original photo, its resolution, lighting, contrast, sharpness, and so on. In most cases, MyHeritage In Color™ will produce excellent results. However, in some cases there is room for improvement. Adjusting the settings allows you to fine-tune the colorization process, giving you more control over your final image and resulting in a higher-quality colorized photo that you’ll be more than proud to share.

This beautiful couple, Jacquie and Norman Levy, were photographed together in 1947 in Denver, Colorado in this black-and-white photograph:

The 2020 Hooked on Genealogy Tour has been Canceled

The 2020 Hooked on Genealogy Tour, due to leave New Zealand/Australia in May, has been cancelled. However, if the CoronaVirus pandemic has significantly subsided, a shorter tour to Salt Lake City might be scheduled in September, 2020. Stay tuned!

The full list of all Genealogy Cancellations and Postponements Due to Coronavirus may be found at: Want to have your event’s cancellation or “virtualization” added to this list? Click here.

National Genealogical Society is Providing Free Access to NGS Monthly Archives Through 31 July 2020

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

During this time when so many Americans must stay at home, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) is offering non-members free access to five years of NGS Monthly. Starting immediately through 31 July 2020, everyone interested in family history can read insightful articles in our digital publication archive.

Edited and authored by Aaron Goodwin, an award-winning genealogist, NGS Monthly’s articles help researchers of all levels. The articles offer family historians invaluable insights on methodology and digestible recommendations on genealogical research by considering the techniques of skilled researchers and scholars, and how they solved difficult research problems. Topics often examine valuable lessons in case studies published in the scholarly NGS Quarterly to help readers understand how to apply new concepts to their own work.

Database with 26 Million Documents on Nazi Victims, Survivors is now Available Online

The Arolsen Archives, based in the German town of Bad Arolsen, announced that the recent addition to its database was completed with its partner, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem. This database can be a valuable tool for finding lost Jewish relatives.

Billed as the world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims and survivors of Nazi persecution, the Arolsen Archives reached a “milestone” on Tuesday by publishing 26 million documents to its online database, including new information on forced laborers and deported Jews.The new uploads included data on the deportations of Jews, Roma and Sinti from the former German Empire, Austria, Bohemia and Moravia, reported The Jewish Chronicle.

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research to be held Virtually

The Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research will be held virtually on Sunday, 26 July – Friday, 31 July 2020. For the first time in IGHR’s 58-year history, they will be holding the institute sessions virtually for the entire week with the same quality of instruction. For more information visit

The 4th Celtic Connections conference scheduled for July 31 in Chicago has been Canceled

Illinois – Chicago – the 4th Celtic Connections conference scheduled for July 31 in Chicago has been canceled.

A list of all the other genealogy cancellations and postponements received to date may be found at

Announcing a New Method of Publishing Genealogy Cancellations and Postponements Due to Coronavirus

When most medical experts and many governments declared social distancing procedures and cancellations of all group meetings, I decided to maintain and publish a list of all genealogy-related cancellations, postponements, and conversions to virtual events. I have since published that list in this newsletter and have updated it every few days.

A flood of notices was received most every day for the first few weeks as many organizations scrambled to do “the right thing.” I have kept busy updating and republishing the list every few days. Thankfully, the number of such notices has slowed to a trickle in the past week or so.

I no longer see a need to keep updating and republishing the very long list. In its place, I will now publish two things:

The National Archives of the United Kingdom is Making Digital Records Available Online Free of Charge for as Long as Kew is Closed to Visitors

NOTE: This announcement was written by The National Archives located at Kew, Richmond, Greater London, England TW9 4DU, and should not be confused with the national archives of any other country.

Here is a quote from an announcement from The National Archives’ web site:

“We are making digital records available on our website free of charge for as long as our Kew site is closed to visitors.

“Registered users will be able to order and download up to 10 items at no cost, to a maximum of 50 items over 30 days. The limits are there to try and help manage the demand for content and ensure the availability of our digital services for everyone.

Reclaim the Records Wins Long-Running Lawsuit for Missouri Birth Index and Death Index

Reclaim The Records has won again! The following announcement was written by Brooke Schreier Ganz, the President and Founder of Reclaim The Records:




Hello again from Reclaim The Records! We’re your favorite little non-profit organization that picks fights with government agencies, archives, and libraries for better public access to genealogical records and historical materials. And we’re back in your mailbox today to announce that we’ve just won yet another lawsuit! And oh boy, did we win this one! 🎉

MyHeritage LIVE 2020 has been Postponed!

MyHeritage has been planning its annual users conference that is held every year in a different world city. This year’s event was scheduled to be held 25 and 26 October in Tel Aviv. (See my earlier article at for the details.)

Due to all the issues with the CoronaVirus pandemic, MyHeritage today issued the following announcement:

We’re writing to let you know that in light of the global situation, MyHeritage has made the decision to postpone MyHeritage LIVE 2020.

We were really looking forward to seeing you in Tel Aviv, but ultimately, your safety is paramount. While we certainly hope things will be getting back to normal by the end of October, there is no guarantee that will be the case, and we want to be sure you’ll have plenty of time to change any plans and reservations you have made.