Current Affairs

State of Tennessee Breaks Ground on a new Library and Archives Building

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Speaker Beth Harwell, and Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill, officially broke ground on the new home of the Tennessee State Library and Archives on Monday.

Drawing of the new Tennessee Library and Archives Building

A GIS Mapping Project to Accurately Document Every Grave in a Waxahachie Cemetery

A Geographic Information System (GIS Software) is designed to store, retrieve, manage, display, and analyze all types of geographic and spatial data. It stores data on geographical features and their characteristics. Surveyors and cartographers use GIS technology extensively. The same technology cn be used to document cemeteries. Waxahachie, Texas is one of the latest cities to use GIS technology to document history at the Waxahachie City Cemetery.

The mapping project will record biographical information of each person buried as well as the location of each grave. This information will then be put into an interactive map that residents can view through the city’s website. The result will be a map that will have a look similar to a Google map. It will be an aerial view that will show the terrain of the cemetery. The map will show the different sections and allow people to zoom in and out.

Rising Seas Could Submerge the Jamestown Settlement

Sea-level rise this century may threaten Jamestown in Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas; the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which launches all of NASA’s human spaceflight missions; and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States, a new study finds.

These iconic locales are some of the more than 13,000 archaeological and historical sites on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the southeastern United States that rising sea levels will endanger this century, researchers in the new study said.

Details may be found in an article by Charles Q. Choi published in the LiveScience web site at http://bit.ly/2zIFlac.

Philadelphia City Archives Relocating/Closing Through August 2018

The following notice was received from the IAJGS Records Acess mailing list:

Philadelphia City Archives are relocating effective December 15, 2017. However, they have to temporarily close to the public to facilitate their relocation. They will be closed through August 2018. During the closure period they will continue to fulfill requests for copies of deeds, but not for historical research and/or academic research purposes. They will reopen their new location to the public on September 1, 2018. The new address is 456 N. 5th Street in Philadelphia. Information on where to mail deed requests and how to contact their office is on the notice available at: http://www.phila.gov/records/pdfs/External%20Archive%20Notice.pdf

Sephardi Community Launches Genealogy Service

The organisation representing Britain’s Sephardi Jews this week launched a genealogy service to help descendants of Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago gain Spanish and Portuguese passports. The Spanish and Portuguese (S&P) Community launched its internet-based ancestry tracking service as Brits worried about the impact of Brexit look for ways to get EU-qualifying passports.

Details may be found in an article in the Times of Israel web site at: http://bit.ly/2zyJ3U4.

Can You Find a Relative of Charles Manson?

Cult leader Charles Manson doesn’t appear to have any relatives on file with prison officials, meaning his body is likely to be left in state custody following his death on Sunday night. This sounds like a challenge for genealogists: find his nearest living relative.

Admittedly, not many would want to admit being related to the 83-year-old murderer serving nine life sentences at California’s Corcoran State Prison.

Charles Milles Manson was born with the name Charles Milles Maddox on November 12, 1934. According to Wikipedia, his mother was an unmarried 16-year-old with various names. She is listed as Kathleen Manson-Bower-Cavender, née Maddox (1918–1973). Manson was born in the General Hospital, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His birth name was first listed as “no name Maddox”. Within weeks, he was called Charles Milles Maddox.

Even After Death, Social Media Still Connects Loved Ones

The Voice of America web site has an interesting article about the online memorials left by recently-deceased computer users. The article states:

“Social media is turning into a vast graveyard for profiles of owners who have passed away, leaving them unattended or as standing memorials. And some experts are urging social networks to do more to help users prepare for their digital deaths.

“There are millions of them – pages that remain on social media sites, and in some cases, automatically update after their owners’ death.

“Memento Mori” Auction to be Held Tomorrow, November 15

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s article on Memento Mori Photography. By coincidence, this morning I received an announcement of an auction for one of America’s largest collections of Memento Mori art. The auction includes pictures as well as paintings, brooches, rings, and other objects that commemorate people who had died. This may be the largest collection of mourning art ever offered for sale.

WARNING: The auction is being held TOMORROW: November 15. I only received notice of it today.

Gold “Stuart crystal” mourning slide, England, late 17th century

The collection comes from the Museum of Mourning Art, owned by the late Anita and Irvin G. Schorsch. Following the deaths of the couple in 2015 and 2014, the Museum was closed and the entire collection is being offered for sale at auction.

Quoting from the auction house’s description:

Ancestor Network Moves to Establish Branch in Northern Ireland

The following announcement was written by the folks at Ancestor Network:

Belfast and Dublin, 17 October 2017 – Because of growing demand from people of the Irish Diaspora with Ulster roots, as well as demand from solicitor firms and heir hunting firms for specialist genealogical researchers in the six counties, Ancestor Network Ltd (www.ancestornetwork.ie) has announced today the establishment of its Northern Ireland branch and the opening of its new Belfast office (www.ancestornetwork.co.uk). The branch is headed by Michael Rooney, a native of Northern Ireland, who is the Permanent Representative and Lead Genealogist for Ancestor Network in Belfast. The registered address of the Northern Ireland branch is 138 University Street, Belfast, BT71HJ, Northern Ireland.

Ancestor Network is the first Irish genealogy research, advisory and publishing company to establish offices in both the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland.

“CG®” Officially Registered with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The following announcement was written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists®:

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) obtained official registration of its “CG” mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and was assigned Registration #5280660. This registration offers several legal benefits such as

  • the right to use the federal registration symbol ® for CG,
  • a legal presumption of ownership of the mark and the exclusive right to use it nationwide,
  • the right to bring a federal lawsuit against infringers and recover damages and attorney’s fees, and
  • a means of stopping “cybersquatters” from registering a domain name using the mark.

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Museum Looking for Votes to Win Funding to Preserve Newspapers

The Yarmouth County Museum and Archives wants to fund the digitizing of newspapers in the Archives’ possessions. Some of the newspapers, dating back to 1836 (the first newspaper printed in Yarmouth), have become so fragile that they have been retired from research use. The hope is to preserve the newspapers by scanning them and placing the digital images online, then placing the paper copies into hermetically sealed storage to reduce further damage caused by frequent handling. Even better, once the images are online, anyone will be able to research the newspapers without a need to travel to Nova Scotia.

You Can Help Fund the Work of Raleigh’s Photo History Detective

The State Archives of North Carolina collects photographs as an important and popular part of the Archives’ mission. Proper identification is key to their accessibility and usefulness. A significant number of the photographs in the collections are only marginally labeled, and some are completely unknown. The State Archives is raising money via an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the work of local historian Karl Larson, who is instrumental in the research and identification of the unidentified photographs in the holdings.

As of the time these words are being written, $7,267 has been raised from concerned citizens such as yourself. That is 81% of $9,000 goal.

Update: Library of Virginia Reading Room Closures… the Rooms Are Open Once Again

This is an update to an article I published last year on 1 November 2016, still available at: http://bit.ly/2wRWxwK. There have been major changes since that article was published.

The Library of Virginia’s web site now states that the Reading Rooms are now open again to researchers Monday through Saturday, 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Details are available at: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/about/visit.asp.

Tensions Flare Between Descendants, Landowners over Access to Family Cemetery in Tennessee

The families of the Bell Town Cemetery have been denied access to their loved ones’ graves by an adjacent property owner.

The small plot of land in Cheatham County known as Bell Town Cemetery has more than 30 graves, including two World War I veterans, three World War II veterans and five generations of Joyce family members.

The cemetery has been used by African-Americans since the emancipation. But, recently, the peace has been disturbed. The families of the deceased can no longer access the burial ground. Tension has escalated to the point where sheriffs have provided escort to older family members wanting to visit graves of parents, grandparents and siblings.

Family Tree DNA asks for your Your Help for Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

The following brief announcement was written by the folks at Family Tree DNA:

Family Tree DNA is based in Houston, where Hurricane Harvey devastated the city and surrounding areas. As members of the community and corporate citizens, we are donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of all tests (including upgrades and paid transfers) during the month of September toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. A banner at our home page will display the cumulative amount raised and will be updated twice daily. The snip below is from today.

The banner shown above may be too small to read on some screens. You can view a larger version by clicking on the above image or by going to https://www.familytreedna.com.

Advice to White Supremacists: You Might Not Want to Test Your DNA

UPDATE: This news story is mushrooming. The original news article listed in the article below was knocked offline for a while, probably because thousands of people were accessing it simultaneously. It is back online now but may disappear again due to all the publicity and thousands of people reading the article. However, dozens of other news services have since picked up the story and now it is one of the top trending articles on the Internet.

You can find dozens more stories about this by starting at: http://bit.ly/2wWKhr6

The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend speak for themselves. The various news media are full of stories about bigotry, racism, and fringe far-right political activities that resulted in murder and also in a lot of embarrassment to the American people. However, there is one genealogy issue that might affect the motivations of these extremists:

Are these white supremacists really “all white?”

I suspect that many white supremacists won’t like to learn the truth.

A geneticist at the University of California at Los Angeles ran a project for months that culminated in the presentation of a paper in Montreal this week at the annual gathering of the American Sociological Association. It seems that DNA testing of many members of one white supremacy organization indicates that a number of those who were tested have mixed racial ancestry. In other words, these white supremacists are not 100% white.

Update on “What is Going On at the Northamptonshire Archives and Heritage Office?”

Last week I published an article entitled What is Going On at the Northamptonshire Archives and Heritage Office? I described an abrupt reduction in services announced by the Northamptonshire (England) Record Office. The article also mentioned an online petition asking the folks at the Northamptonshire Archives and Heritage Office to cancel the announced reduction in hours. The article is still available at: http://bit.ly/2hxafOu.

Now there is an update and it appears to be good news: the Northamptonshire County Council reportedly has dropped the plan to reduce available hours!

I am guessing the 3,862 signatures collected on the petition so far may have influenced the management at the Northamptonshire Archives and Heritage Office just a bit.

In an addition posted to the online petition’s web site, Mary Ann Lund wrote:

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

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.”