Current Affairs

Find a 2020 US Census Complete Count Committee in Your Community

Would you like to improve the accuracy of the 2020 US census? If you do, I am sure future genealogists will appreciate your efforts.

Irish island of Arranmore is Looking for New Residents from the United States and Australia

Here is an opportunity to study your Irish ancestry: move to Ireland.

Actually, you would have to move to Arranmore, a tiny island 5 kilometers off the coast of County Donegal, Ireland. The island is twinned with Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. In the 1800s, families evicted from Arranmore relocated to Beaver Island and most of the residents who live on Beaver Island today can trace their roots back to Arranmore.

While Arranmore is a tiny place, it boasts very high-speed Internet access, enough musicians and good Irish whiskey to keep a party going well into the night, the best diving in Ireland on your doorstep, seafood to rival the tastiest New England chowder, and a daily commute that will never exceed five minutes. It sounds dreamy.

Update: Libraries without Librarians

NOTE: This article contains personal opinions and beliefs.

I have been reading the comments in my earlier “Libraries without Librarians” article at https://blog.eogn.com/2019/06/10/libraries-without-librarians/ and I believe that many of those newsletter readers have ignored a couple of basic facts when posting comments. I am moved to remind everyone of the facts that I believe are relevant.

Several people have expressed reservations about homeless people, vagrants, and other unwanted individuals having access to the unmanned library and by possible criminal activities by these individuals. Indeed, on first reading, that also was my concern. However, let’s look at the facts.

As stated in the earlier article:

“Self-service libraries are common in Europe”

“In North America, it’s still a novelty. Just five library systems — eight libraries total — have implemented it since 2016.”

“Officials at Bibliotheca, the leading company in North America that sells the required software, counts more than 750 libraries globally as users.”

The fact is that more than 750 self-service libraries are already using this business model today and are doing so successfully.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration Considers Blockchain to Verify Records Amid Rise in Deepfake Videos

From an article by Jory Heckman published in the Federal News Network:

“The National Archives and Records Administration is exploring whether blockchain technology can help records management officials keep track of their vast stores of information, following the successful rollout of the emerging technology elsewhere in government.

“Eric “Kyle” Douglas, a records management policy and program support specialist for NARA’s chief records officer, said the future for blockchain looks promising, and could play a role in authenticating digital copies of its images and videos.

Libraries without Librarians

Several Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota) library systems are considering an “open libraries” model that would give patrons access to books, computers and other resources by themselves at times when the library isn’t open and staffed. Two west metro libraries already use the idea on a small scale.

The setup relies on technology — via a central management system — to let people enter the library, check out items and log onto computers — all while video monitors record their actions. There’s a phone connected to a central library or an on-call librarian so patrons can ask questions. Automated systems announce when the library is closing, flick the lights off and on and can even operate amenities like a gas fireplace on a schedule.

Man who said he Hears Voices has been Charged in Fire Outside the U.S. National Archives

A previously unidentified person started a fire outside the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., on April 25. Some damage to the exterior wall was reported. (See my earlier article at http://bit.ly/2Vtcaan for the details.) Now a man who said voices told him to “burn buildings down” has been arrested in connection with the arson fire.

He was identified as Jacob Leroy Wallace, 32, who had no fixed address, D.C. police said.

Arsonist Starts Fire at the U.S. National Archives

The following is an announcement from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):

An unidentified person started a fire outside the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, at about 8 p.m. yesterday, April 25. No one was injured, and the building sustained some damage to the exterior wall.

The arsonist placed a gas container on the left side of the building on Pennsylvania Avenue and lit it on fire. Security officers discovered the blaze and unsuccessfully attempted to put it out, but a fire department responded and was able to extinguish the flames. Facilities staff are cleaning the area today.

State Library of Pennsylvania Relocating for Two Plus Years While Undergoing Renovations

The following announcement was written by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee and posted to the IAJGS mailing list:

The State Library of Pennsylvania has announced their historic Forum Building and the Office of Commonwealth Libraries will close for renovations and be temporarily relocated to buildings within Harrisburg’s Capitol Complex. Relocations –see below—will begin in May 2019. The renovations will begin in September 2019 and the expectation is that the renovation will be complete by the fall of 2021.

The Office of Commonwealth Libraries, which includes the Deputy Secretary/Commissioner of Libraries and staff, will relocate to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126). The Bureau of Library Development will also relocate to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society Open Boston’s Mayflower 400th Anniversary Commemorations with Tributes to Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation

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

April 17, 2019—Boston, Massachusetts—American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS)—the oldest and largest genealogical society in America—today held the first of a series of events in the U.S. commemorating the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower with a festive ceremony at their headquarters on Newbury Street in Boston, Massachusetts.

An imposing replica of the Mayflower, the ship that carried the Pilgrims to the new world in 1620, was christened the Boston Mayflower and placed in the organization’s front courtyard to commemorate the significance of the event in the nation’s history. Unveiled adjacent to it was an artistic tribute to the people and culture of the Wampanoag Nation, the Native Americans who met the Pilgrims after their arrival in Plymouth harbor.

Saskatchewan Provincial Archives to Move into CBC Building

Saskatchewan archivists are preparing to move millions of documents into a new home, after the province took ownership of CBC’s Regina broadcasting centre to allow the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan to consolidate its massive holdings.

Genealogical Detective Work Solves Looted Art Mystery

The founder and CEO of MyHeritage, Gilad Japhet, obviously has a number of interests. Besides being a lifelong genealogist, he also has an interest in returning stolen goods. His company, MyHeritage, has a history of returning looted assets confiscated during WWII to their rightful owners.

Japhet points out that one of his company’s driving forces is to do good, and to place particular emphasis on conducting pro bono projects worldwide.

You can read about one of the recent successful returns of looted artwork stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners in the MyHeritage Blog at: https://blog.myheritage.com/2019/02/genealogical-detective-work-solves-looted-art-mystery/.

How to Remotely Watch RootsTech 2019 Salt Lake City

The following announcement was written by the RootsTech organizers:

If you are unable to attend RootsTech 2019 in Salt Lake City, you have two remote viewing options. Some of the show’s sessions will be streamed live for free at RootsTech.org (see the broadcast schedule below)! If you want more, you can purchase a Virtual Pass to view additional sessions from the conference. RootsTech 2019 in Salt Lake City runs February 27 to March 3, 2019. Go to RootsTech.org to view the entire schedule of events.

The RootsTech daily general sessions will be broadcast live and for free. They include keynote addresses by Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, Patricia Heaton, popular actress from Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle, Saroo Brierley, whose incredible family reunification story which inspired the movie, Lion, and Jake Shimabukuro, world renowned ukulele master.

In addition to the select free classes broadcasted, RootsTech is offering a Virtual Pass, which provides access to 18 online recorded sessions from the conference. You can watch playbacks from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone device whenever and however you’d like—for just $129. Go to Virtual Pass for more information.

Indian Man to Sue Parents for Giving Birth to Him

A 27-year-old Indian man plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent. Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel told the BBC that it’s wrong to bring children into the world because they then have to put up with lifelong suffering.

Obviously, his parents should have asked his permission first.

If you want to read more about this bit of stupidity, look at the article by Geeta Pandey in the BBC News web site at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-47154287.

Volunteers Needed to Transcribe an Edwardian Book of Railway Accidents in a Day

The following announcement was written by the folks at the University of Portsmouth (in Hampshire, England), the Modern Records Centre, and the National Railway Museum:

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth, the Modern Records Centre and the National Railway Museum (NRM) are looking for volunteers to help transcribe a book of railway worker accidents spanning 1901–1907 in just 24 hours. The project is one of three that have been chosen as part of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine’s annual Transcription Tuesday event, which this year takes place on 5 February 2019.

Transcription Tuesday was launched in 2017 by Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, to encourage family and local historians to get involved in transcription projects. “The internet has transformed family history,” said editor Sarah Williams, “but the documents that are going online need to be transcribed or indexed to make them searchable, and for many projects the only way that is going to happen is with the help of volunteers.”

Heather Yvonne McLean of New Zealand awarded Queen’s Service Medal

Mrs. Heather Yvonne McLean has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to genealogy and historical research. According to the announcement:

Heather Yvonne McLean has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists since 1972 and has been an active member of the Society’s local groups in the Bay of Plenty, namely Tauranga, Te Puke and Katikati.

Mrs McLean’s key contribution has been the transcribing of headstones in the cemeteries of the Bay of Plenty over the course of 30 years for the benefit of family historians and researchers. She has volunteered two days a week with the Tauranga Family History Library since its inception in 1993 and volunteers every Wednesday at Tauranga City’s Cemetery Records office collating death and cremation notices.

No More Room at National Archives of Iceland

What do you do when the National Archives runs out of room to store documents? That’s the question being asked now in Iceland.

National Archives of Iceland

The National Archives of Iceland (ÞSK) have temporarily stopped receiving government documents due to a lack of shelf space, RÚV reports. Representatives say the government has known about the situation since at least January, but has yet to solve the problem.

When Mining Destroys Historical Cemeteries

Mountain top removal (MTR) mining has transformed the landscape of Appalachia, making gorges where mountains once were. MTR is a form of surface mining that extracts coal from mountain summits and ridges. The non-coal part of the mountain, referred to as “overburden,” is bulldozed into neighboring valleys. Sociologists James N. Maples and Elizabeth A. East describe MTR as “total ecosystem destruction.” Certainly the practice has tremendous environmental costs, particularly in terms of poisoning local water sources, flooding, and as the coal is burned, global warming. But as Maples and East reveal, MTR also has a cultural cost: this kind of mining erases the history of the region by destroying historic mountain cemeteries.

Be Careful What You Donate to Charity, Such as a Valuable 1776 Newspaper

A quick eye by Goodwill workers in South Jersey turned up framed pages from an original 1774 Philadelphia newspaper with an iconic “Unite or Die” snake design on the masthead. It is believed to be one of the four known copies that exist.

The frayed Dec. 28, 1774, edition of the Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser boasts three items signed by John Hancock, then president of the Provincial Congress, who pleads for the Colonies to fight back “enemies” trying to divide them.

Relatives Sought for Remains found at Detroit’s Cantrell Funeral Home

269 containers of cremated remains were found at the Cantrell Funeral Home in April by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs after launching an investigation into the east-side funeral home.

There, investigators found two embalmed bodies left in caskets in the garage since the end of 2017. A third body also was found, held by Cantrell from January to April while families paid for the services, and “more than 20 bodies awaiting final disposition,” were covered in mold, LARA said. Officials found a box of fetal remains on Aug. 29. An anonymous letter led them to the remains of 11 infants on Oct. 12. It’s unclear why the remains were left at the funeral home, some for as long as two decades.

Detroit police are investigating the alleged wrongdoing. In the meantime, police and other authorities are attempting to locate relatives of the deceased in order to dispose of the bodies in accordance with the wishes of families.

13 Pages from the Missouri 1880 US Census Population Schedule Long Thought Lost have been Discovered

The following announcement was written by the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office:

Jefferson City, Mo. — Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, in collaboration with the Missouri Historical Society, today announced the discovery of 13 pages from the 1880 U.S. Census Population Schedule. Identified by the staff of the Missouri State Archives, a division of Ashcroft’s office, the pages record the households of the 99th Enumeration District in Perry County, including the name, age, marital status, occupation, level of education and more for 633 individuals then residing in the county’s Union Township.

“Discoveries like this are extremely rare,” Ashcroft said, “and we are thrilled to now provide access to these records previously unavailable to genealogists, historians and archivists alike.”