Current Affairs

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.”

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.

Grace A. Dow Memorial Library in Midland, Michigan Sustains $1.5 Million Flood Damage

Here is still another example why we cannot depend upon paper documents alone to be accessible in the future. Homes, streets, businesses, parks and city buildings in Midland, Michigan got soaked in a flood several weeks ago. In the city alone, more than 1,000 homes had some type of damage. Of interest to genealogists, the hardest hit city building was the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library. The early estimate puts clean up and repair work for the library at $1.5 million.

The library had never flooded before.

Hard Drives and Storage Space Continue to Become Cheaper and Cheaper

The following isn’t directly related to genealogy but it is related to something that concerns all genealogists: storage of information that we have found. Today, it is easier and much, much cheaper to save information in our own computers or in the cloud than ever before. Saving things in digital format is also much, much cheaper (and safer) than storing paper. However, there are signs that consumers are saving less and less these days.

For the past 35+ years or so, hard drives prices have dropped, from around $500,000 per gigabyte in 1981 to less than $0.03 per gigabyte today. See http://www.mkomo.com/cost-per-gigabyte-update for details.

Somewhat surprisingly, manufacturers are selling fewer disk drives to consumers these days than they used to. Consumers are not downloading and saving as many files as they used to, be it text information, music, videos, or anything else. Why not? It appears that the primary reason is that all those things are increasingly more available upon demand in the cloud. There is less need than ever to save things yourself when you can retrieve those items again and again in the future at any time. Even better, the version you retrieve in the future may be updated or be an enhanced version, such as a higher-resolution image or video or contain higher-fidelity sound.

Live Cannonball (or is it a Mortar Shell?) from the Battle of the Plains of Abraham found in Old Quebec

A cannonball fired by the British during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 has been unearthed at a building site in Old Quebec. The rusted, 90-kilogram projectile was unearthed during excavation work last week at the corner of Hamel and Couillard streets and still contained a charge and gunpowder.

One person took the cannonball back to his home, and noticed it still contained a charge. A team of army munitions technicians was dispatched from CFB Valcartier to collect the ball and neutralize it.

Fire Damages Eckhart Public Library in Auburn, Indiana

Fire caused extensive damage to Eckhart Public Library early Sunday morning, July 2. The fire appears to have been intentionally set. The damage will force the 106-year-old main library building to close indefinitely, according to the library leaders.

The library’s entire collection of DVDs and audio books was lost. However, the library’s digital collection of eBooks and downloadable audiobooks remain available along with the many online databases. Luckily, the library’s extensive genealogy collection appears to have been spared.

Details may be found at http://bit.ly/2vooPdb and at http://www.epl.lib.in.us.

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) Announce Collaboration

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

NEHGS to Digitize the Fifth Generation of Mayflower Descendants from GSMD “Silver Books” and 50 Years of Mayflower Quarterly

Mayflower Databases to Be Searchable on AmericanAncestors.org

GSMD Members to Enjoy Discounts on Membership in New England Historic Genealogical Society

July 13, 2017—Boston, Massachusetts—New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has partnered with the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) to bring invaluable genealogical resources to their members. New searchable databases—to be found on AmericanAncestors.org—will be created from authenticated Mayflower Pilgrim genealogies and from 50 years of published Mayflower passenger scholarship from the Mayflower Quarterly as the program advances. In addition, GSMD members will enjoy generous discounts on new memberships in NEHGS, the founding genealogical organization in America.

BYU-Idaho Genealogy Library to Relocate

On July 18 the Family History Center in the David O. McKay Library at Brigham Young University-Idaho will be shutting down. Everything in the present genealogy library will be moved to the Rexburg Family History Center.

The Family History Center has been in the McKay Library since the 1960s.

You can read more in an article by Adam Jacobs in the (Rexburg, Idaho) Standard Journal web site at: http://bit.ly/2suD7qN.

Australians Provide Fake Names Amid Census Privacy Fears

In the 2016 census, many Australians provided fake names and withheld their date of birth. A sharp drop in the number of respondents allowing authorities to keep their data archived for 99 years was also noted.

The first batch of data from last year’s bungled census was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday with authorities insisting the information collected is useful. Privacy concerns plagued the half-billion-dollar exercise in the lead up to Census night on August 9 with several politicians, including independent senator Nick Xenophon, vowing to risk a $180-a-day fine by refusing to provide their names and addresses.