Current Affairs

London FamilySearch Centre Microfilm Collection is Transferring to the Society of Genealogists

The following announcement was written by the Society of Genealogists:

The London FamilySearch Centre microfilm collection, which is currently temporarily located at The National Archives, is transferring to the Society of Genealogists in Clerkenwell. The move reflects a partnership between the Society of Genealogists and FamilySearch to ensure that the microfilm collection continues to be available to family historians. The London FamilySearch Centre will continue to provide its research support services at the National Archives.

The collection of about 57,000 microfilms complement the SoG’s remarkable library of genealogical sources and both bring together, in one place, an unparalleled resource for family history researchers in the UK. Having been carefully curated over many years, the FamilySearch Films include many thousands of copies of original church and local records from the United Kingdom and Ireland; probate records for England and Wales before and after 1858 and selected items for Caribbean research.

Naturalization Index CrowdSourcing Project on the SeekingMichigan.org Web Site

This sounds like a great new project: “The Archives of Michigan is pleased to announce the launch of a digitization and indexing project to make naturalization records from nearly 70 Michigan counties freely available online. In a partnership with FamilySearch, and with the support of the Michigan Genealogical Council, the Archives of Michigan is asking you to help transcribe key genealogical information from the records. Once completed, the collection – including both the images and index – will be freely available only at Seeking Michigan.”

The project uses FamilySearch’s indexing software which is probably the best available software for the job.

You can learn more about this new project from the SeekingMichigan.org web site at: http://seekingmichigan.org/naturalization.

My thanks to newsletter reader Kim Wickman for telling me about this project.

Spring Forward into Daylight Saving Time

Most of the United States will “spring forward” this weekend, as we enter Daylight Saving Time at 2:00 a.m. – which will immediately become 3:00 a.m. – Sunday morning. There is a lot of history connected with Daylight Saving Time.

Benjamin Franklin proposed a form of daylight time in 1784. He wrote an essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” to the editor of The Journal of Paris, suggesting, somewhat jokingly, that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning, making use of the natural morning light instead. This 1784 satire proposed taxing window shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise. Despite common misconception, Franklin did not actually propose Daylight Saving Time. In fact, clocks were not synchronized in Europe at that time; each owner of a clock would set it to whatever time he or she thought was correct. Standardized time did not occur until railroads became popular. Train schedules had to be planned for designated times.

The National Archives (of England and Wales) Fees are Changing

On 1 April 2017, the fees charged by The National Archives at Kew, Richmond, Surrey, for research, paper and digital copies of records, and some other services, will change.

The National Archives is allowed to charge for the statutory services provided under the Public Records Act (1958). However, the agency is not permitted to make a profit on these services but is expected to recover actual costs.

A summary of the new pricing structure, in effect from 1 April 2017, is available at: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/summary-of-costs-april-2017.pdf.

For reference purposes, the older summary of prices that has been in effect for a year is also available at: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/summary-of-costs-feb-2016.pdf.

Genealogy and History Reportedly Will Suffer if the New Jersey State Archives Moves

In an article in the NJ.com web site, Daniel Klein of the Jersey Journal warns that a relocation of the New Jersey State Archives could be detrimental for everyone. He writes:

“Some disturbing news for researchers working on the New Jersey genealogy came to light this week. The State of New Jersey has proposed a plan which will affect the New Jersey State Archives office in Trenton and move some operations to an alternate location due to a five-year renovation to the New Jersey State House. The current Archives building, which also houses the New Jersey Historical Commission and the State Council on the Arts, will be used to house the Governor’s office as renovations take place.

Clallam County Genealogical Society Research Center in Port Angeles, Washington, Closed Temporarily because of Weather Damage

Melting snow and rain led to a leak at the Clallam County Genealogical Society Research Center at 402 E. Lauridsen Blvd. in Port Angeles that damaged the facility’s ceiling, carpet and a conference table. The center is temporarily closed for repairs.

Fortunately, the damage did not spread to any local historical documents or artifacts. The leak happened in the center of the conference room. All of the books in the shelving and archives in file cabinets were up off the floor and did not get wet.

Funding for new Indiana State Archives in Jeopardy

According to an article in the Indiana Genealogical Society Blog:

“Planning for the new Indiana State Archives building in Indianapolis (which the Indiana General Assembly approved $25 million for in spring 2015) has been at a standstill for the last few months. Recently a deal fell through to pay for it by selling the state’s cell-phone towers. Your help is now needed to ensure that it gets fully funded.

Genealogy and Seniors

Kimberley Fowler has written an introductory article that describes some of the reasons why senior citizens are often attracted to genealogy. She writes:

“Retirees across America are leaving their families an unconventional legacy — knowledge of their family’s ancestral roots. In the age of the internet, ancestry and genealogy research has increased with additional access to online historical records.Genealogy and Seniors

“Older adults who are retired and have time on their hands are taking advantage, making “genealogy the second most popular hobby in the U.S., after gardening,” according to Time.”

You can read the full article in a Place for Mom blog at: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/1-30-17-genealogy-and-seniors.

Ancestry’s CEO, Tim Sullivan’s Message Concerning the Recent Restrictions on Immigration

With the recent political climate, Ancestry’s CEO sent an email to the entire company. Tim also wanted to share it with others. Feel free to share this as well:

The last 48 hours in the U.S. have been both heart-breaking and outrageous. Of immediate importance is the status of our Ancestry employees and/or their families. We do not believe that any of our employees are currently affected, but if we are wrong, please let us know immediately, and we will do everything we can to help.

Our company values decency, works hard to embrace diversity, and is very familiar with the difficulties that families all over the world have endured for centuries in their attempts to stay together and to improve the lives of the next generation. We are a company that lives history, so we’re familiar with the ugliness that we’re witnessing right now. We’ve seen how families were impacted by the quotas on Chinese immigration less than a hundred years ago, by the refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the horror of Nazi Germany, and by the absurd detainment of Japanese Americans during that war. Today, it is broadly understood that these policies each left a black mark on our history and ran counter to the fundamental values of openness and inclusion that are our country’s strength.

School Time Capsule Buried 25 Years Ago is Missing

This a bit of a follow-up to my Plus Edition article, (+) Save Something for Future Generations: Create a Time Capsule, published a bit more than a week ago at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=42480:

Students and faculty at the Lieser School in Vancouver, Washington, buried a time capsule in 1992. It reportedly contained bits of memorabilia from that year. Instructions were left to open the time capsule in 25 years: 2017.

lieser-school-time-capsule

The time capsule was opened last week on January 27. Inside, Leiser School students and alumni found … nothing.

New U.S. Budget Blueprint May Affect Genealogists

Madge Maril, Associate Editor of Family Tree Magazine, has written a brief article in the magazine’s blog that warns of the proposed loss of one of genealogy’s major tools: the free Chronicling America newspaper search website, used by many genealogists to find information about ancestors and other relatives in local newspapers.

The Chronicling America web site is a service of the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH), an independent federal agency funding humanities programs in the United States. Madge Maril points out the new administration’s federal budget blueprint proposes elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities. If that passes, the Chronicling America newspaper search website probably will go offline.

You can read Madge Maril’s article in the Family Tree Magazine Blog at: https://goo.gl/0b0Zlz.

Plymouth (England) History Centre is Now Under Construction

The Plymouth City Council took a big step towards providing a brand new home for its archive collections when Councillor Sam Davey, the Deputy Lord Mayor, put the first spade in the ground to start construction of the Plymouth History Centre.

The new facility will be an extension to the existing Central Library and house a host of material from the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, South West Film & Television Archive and South West Image Bank. It is part of a project which will also join together the existing Museum and Library buildings and convert accommodation at St Luke’s church into a high quality exhibition and events space.

High Winds Damage Cemeteries in Colorado Springs

This must have been some storm! City officials closed all cemeteries in Colorado Springs, Colorado, indefinitely because of the damage caused by the wind.

Evergreen cemetery has nearly 50 trees toppled. Many hit and damaged headstones below. “There’s a lot of 100 year old graves, 140 year old graves that there’s nobody to contact,” said Manager Jody Sanchez Skamarak.

Family Tree Website Reveals Personal Address, Family Information

Snopes.com reported on a family tree website that is causing a lot of alarm to the general public as it reveals a lot of personal information.

FamilyTreeNow.com claims to be a family history and genealogy web site but seems to be primarily a site that publishes public information about individuals. In fact, there are a number of other web sites that do the same (Spokeo, Intellius, BeenVerified.com and perhaps a dozen or so others) for a fee but FamilyTreeNow.com provides basic information free of charge.

The website allows anyone to enter a person’s name and then displays whatever personal information the web site knows about people of that name. In many cases, results show personal information along with the names, ages and addresses of people they are related to.

NEHGS and the Boston Archdiocese to Cooperate in Building the Nation’s First Extensive Database of Church Records

The Boston Archdiocese is partnering with the New England Historic Genealogical Society to create the nation’s first extensive database of church records to help people trace family histories.

The plan is to create a searchable database of millions of baptisms, marriages, ordinations and other pivotal life events recorded from 1789 to 1900 at more than 100 Boston and Eastern Massachusetts parishes — a project that could take up to 10 years and cost an estimated $1 million, which will be paid for with proceeds to a Historic Catholic Records Fund the society is launching.

Details may be found in an article by Marie Szaniszlo in the Boston Herald newspaper at https://goo.gl/rSAUeo as well as in the project’s companion website at: https://catholicrecords.americanancestors.org.

Complaints Filed After Logging Operations Damages Historic Illinois Cemetery

Local genealogists and archaeologists are concerned about logging damage in an historic black cemetery between Millstadt and Centreville, Illinois, that has graves from the 1800s and early 1900s, including those of Civil War soldiers. They’ve complained to local authorities about logging trucks driving through the hilly, overgrown property, known as St. George Cemetery, and knocking over, breaking or moving headstones, some a century or more old.

“It’s history, and it’s being destroyed, and nobody seems to care,” said cemetery researcher Judy Jennings, of O’Fallon, a member of the St. Clair County Genealogical Society.

Best Genealogy Organization of 2016: MyHeritage

MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has recently been named as the “Best Genealogy Organization of 2016” by Tamura Jones, a widely respected blogger and reviewer. The review states: “MyHeritage did what it should be doing: improve their products and services to deliver increased value to their users.” You can read the full review at http://www.tamurajones.net/GeneAwards2016.xhtml.

Tamura Jones also named:

  • Best Genealogy Product of 2016
  • Best New Genealogy Product of 2016
  • Best Genealogy Organisation of 2016
  • Best New Genealogy Organisation of 2016
  • Best New GEDCOM Technology

and also:

  • Worst Genealogy Product of 2016
  • Worst New Genealogy Product of 2016
  • Worst Genealogy Organisation of 2016

All of the above may be found at: http://www.tamurajones.net/GeneAwards2016.xhtml.

Jump-Start Your Personal History Writing with #52Stories Project

This sounds like an interesting project. I just learned about it so I haven’t tried it yet. However, you might have an interest. Quoting from the FamilySearch Blog at: https://goo.gl/GkGmvD:

Because it’s human nature to think of our lives in terms of beginnings and endings, the new year gives us the perfect opportunity to make sure we are making the most of that dash, filling in the details of our lives so our loved ones and our posterity are not left wondering what happened in between.

All of us are “in the dash.” But, you may be thinking, “I’ve got plenty of time to record my life story for my posterity. Why start now? Why this year?”

Here’s why: because, in addition to the value of leaving a legacy, great personal and family benefits also arise from personal reflection and journaling.

A Christmas Request, Answered a Century Later

This is a Christmas story with just a tiny genealogy twist. At least, it involves family.

Mary McGahan was buried in Mount St. Mary Cemetery in Flushing, Queens, New York 37 years ago. Sadly, her name was never added to the tombstone, apparently because her family could not afford the stonecutter’s fee.

By a strange twist of fate, a stranger who never knew Mary or her family found a poignant letter to Santa in the fireplace of his Hell’s Kitchen apartment 17 years ago. It had been written by Mary nearly a century earlier, when she lived as a child in the same apartment, and became the impetus for an article in The New York Times a year ago about serendipity and Christmas.

For Millions of Immigrants, a Common Language: WhatsApp

I don’t believe my immigrant ancestors had anything like this! However, immigration is a lot different nowadays.

Jan Koum is an immigrant and the founder of a multi-billion dollar company that has more than a billion users. He was a teenager when he and his mother moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1990s, in part to escape the anti-Semitic tide then sweeping his native Ukraine. His mother worked as a babysitter and swept floors at a grocery store to survive in the new country; when she was found to have cancer, the family lived off her disability payments.

Sad as that story is, it also is typical of the difficult experiences many immigrants have had for centuries. However, there is success in the story also: Mr. Koum founded a company called WhatsApp that lets users send text messages and make phone calls free over the internet. Because it’s free, has a relatively good record on privacy and security, and is popular in so many parts of the world, WhatsApp has since been used by millions of immigrants who, whether by choice or by force, have left their homes for the unknown.