Online Slave Registers from Curaçao Allow Descendants to Find Ancestors

The National Archive of the Netherlands is putting the names of 21,000 people who lived as slaves in the former Dutch colony of Curaçao online, enabling their descendants to find out about their ancestors.

The new list if names went online on Tula Day, which celebrates a major uprising in the island led by resistance fighter Tula in 1795. Tula and his fellow rebels demanded freedom, inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution and the successful slave uprising in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti; at the time, a French colony). The revolt was suppressed by the Dutch colonial authorities and Tula and his fellow fighters were tortured and executed.

Someone Upscaled And Colorized The Oldest Recorded Video In History

Want to know how people REALLY dressed in the 1880s? Now’s your chance!

The Roundhay Garden Scene, a black-and-white film that lasts for two seconds, was shot in Leeds in 1888 and is the oldest surviving film in existence. And for the first time, it’s been upscaled to 60 frames per second.

Upscaled with an ensemble of neural networks Louis Le Prince’s footage, Roundhay Garden Scene, shot in October 1888. And for the first time, it’s been upscaled to 60 frames per second. I find it interesting that the “video” was not recorded on film. Instead, each image was recorded on a glass plate in much the same manner as still photographs of that era.

Researchers Say They Know What Happened to Roanoke’s ‘Lost Colony’

The English colonists who settled the so-called Lost Colony before disappearing from history simply went to live with their native friends — the Croatoans of Hatteras, according to a new book.

“They were never lost,” said Scott Dawson, who has researched records and dug up artifacts where the colonists lived with the Indians in the 16th century. “It was made up. The mystery is over.”

Here’s What Happened When Students Went to School During the 1918 Pandemic

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

This isn’t the first time leaders have struggled with deciding whether or not to keep schools open in a pandemic. Our ancestors faced the same issues. During the influenza pandemic in 1918, even though the world was a very different place, the discussion was just as heated.

The 1918-1920 Spanish Flu pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans, before it was all over. If you had an ancestor who died in the years 1918 through 1920, there is a very good chance that he or she died of the Spanish Flu.

While the vast majority of cities closed their schools, three opted to keep their schools open — New York, Chicago and New Haven, according to historians.

The results were not good in those school districts.

‘Kiss via Kerchief’ and Other Dating Advice from the 1918 Flu Pandemic

I am not so sure this is a good or even a satisfying solution. However, according to an article by Hannah Frishberg and published in the New York Post website:

“So that’s why they call it hanky-panky.

“Many Americans have broken quarantine to have sex, determining celibacy a worse fate than possibly contracting COVID-19. But let us learn from the history books: The 1918 Spanish flu took 675,000 lives in the US and 50 million worldwide. Back then, star-coughed lovers did their best to safely express passion.

“One tactic thought to render kissing safer was smooching through a handkerchief, or hanky.

You Can Help Nazi Victims’ Families Learn Their Fates in Online Archive Project

From an article by Renee Ghert-Zand in The Times of Israel website:

“Thousands answer crowdsourcing call to assist Germany’s Arolsen Archives in making 26 million newly digitized historical documents searchable by anyone online.

Document from Sachsenhausen (Courtesy of the Arolsen Archives)

“A huge crowdsourcing project to memorialize the victims of Nazi persecution is bringing together thousands of volunteers from across the globe who are locked down during the international coronavirus crisis. The “Every Name Counts” project, based out of Germany’s Arolsen Archives (formerly the International Tracing Service), aims to make 26 million recently digitized primary historical records searchable.”

The Confederates Who Moved to Brazil

Many citizens of the Confederacy disappeared from public records at the end of the Civil War or soon thereafter. Of course, record keeping was spotty at best in the turmoil that followed the defeat of the Confederacy. If you can’t find your relatives during that time, you might be tempted to say, “Oh well, he (or she) probably died in the war.” Don’t be so sure.

Americana is a small city about 100 miles from São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. The town was settled by disgruntled American Confederates after their side lost the Civil War. Descendants of the original settlers still live there today, and most of them still speak English with a strong southern drawl.

Map showing the location of Americana, São Paulo, Brazil

After the Civil War, many families from the old South were left landless and destitute. They probably hated living under a conquering army of Yankees. Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II realized this group of disenchanted Americans could be a solution to one of his problems: how to develop the sparsely-settled areas of his country. He was especially interested in developing the cultivation of cotton, a crop well-known to the former Confederates. He provided incentives to people who knew how to raise cotton, offering land at twenty-two cents an acre with four years credit and passage to Brazil for thirty Yankee dollars. Each family was encouraged to bring a tent, light-weight furniture, farming supplies and seeds, and provisions to last six months.

In the 1918 Flu Pandemic, Not Wearing a Mask Was Illegal in Some Parts of America. What Changed?

Red Cross volunteers wore face masks during the flu pandemic of 1918.

Most of our ancestors wore medical masks every day in 1918 through 1920. I remember my father describing those days when he was a 10 to 12-year-old. My mother was still a toddler in 1918 to 1920 and did not remember the masks herself but she relayed to me a number of stories her older relatives had told later while she was growing up. Your ancestors undoubtedly wore masks as well, both in the U.S. and in most other countries. The 1918/1920 Spanish Flu pandemic killed millions worldwide and most people in most countries wore masks and took other precautions, such as what we now call “social distancing.”

Seattle policemen wearing protective gauze face masks during influenza epidemic of 1918 which claimed millions of lives worldwide (Photo by Time Life Pictures/National Archives/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The Three Stooges Become Census Takers

Census enumerators (census takers) have a difficult job at best. Can you imagine Larry, Curly or Moe interviewing local residents?

In a 1940 movie, No Census, No Feeling, The Three Stooges obtained jobs as census enumerators and were to be paid four cents per name recorded. I watched the movie today and now I understand some of census records I have looked at in the past. I think this is the threesome that visited my great-great-grandparent’s house!

You can watch The Three Stooges at their best, or worst, in No Census, No Feeling at http://dai.ly/xqlsm6.

As you watch the movie, you might want to know a bit of trivia:

You can now Tour the Revolutionary War Yorktown Battlefield Virtually

Do you have an interest in the Yorktown Battlefield? Perhaps you had ancestors there. In any case, you can now check out the location –– virtually.

“The Yorktown Tour Guide is your complete guide to Yorktown, Virginia – site of the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War and witness to George Washington’s decisive victory over General Lord Charles Cornwallis,” according to the app’s description.

The tour guide app has three different tours with a total of 21 stops from the historic town to the battlefield and allied encampment with photos and historical facts, according to the news release.

Unmasking Pandemic Masks, Then and Now

An article in the MyHeritage Blog shows that we are not the first to have problems with a pandemic. We are also not the first to require face masks when in public places. Our ancestors had similar, sometimes worse, exposures to epidemics.

Click on the above image to view a much larger VERSION

Quoting from the MyHeritage Blog:

“As people around the world begin to emerge from sheltering in place, they find themselves in a strange new reality: one where half of our faces are hidden. Though they are here to protect us, the presence of masks can pose some new challenges — and the way we choose to cope with those challenges is just one expression of how we adapt to our new post-lockdown world.

Online Photo Archive Brings Romania’s History Back to Life

If you have ancestry from Romania, you probably will be interested in learning more about the lives of Romanians from an online collection of historic and modern photographs. The free archive that publishes analogue pictures donated by the public is filling a void in Romania’s collective memory – and creating a ‘mosaic of its history’, its founder explains.

A group of men from Sic, in the Transylvanian county of Cluj in 1982. Photo: http://www.azopan.ro / Szoleczki Laszlo

Remember the Fluoroscope?

Here is a walk down memory lane for anyone old enough to remember the fluoroscope, an x-ray device that was available in thousands of shoe stores worldwide. It also had several proprietary names, including the Pedoscope, X-ray Shoe Fitter, and the Foot-o-scope.

Fluoroscopes were once a common sight in shoe stores. Thousands of the devices were installed in the mid-20th century. Eventually, customers, shoe salespeople, and medical authorities alike finally realized that a shoe store isn’t the best place for a boxful of radioactive isotopes.

I well remember my mother taking me to Reed’s Footwear and Clothing store where we and Bill Reed (the owner of the store) all looked at live x-ray images of my feet inserted into new shoes in the store to see if the shoes fit properly or not.

The History of Memorial Day

Monday in the United States is Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who died in our nation’s service. The origins of this day of remembrance are in doubt, with more than two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War.

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day

Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

It is believed that the end of May was chosen for the first Memorial Day because ” flowers would be in bloom all over the country.”

OpenSFHistory is an Online Archive of more than 50,000 Historic Images of San Francisco and the Bay Area

OpenSFHistory, an online archive of over 50,000 historic images of San Francisco and the Bay Area, recently launched a project to integrate modern-day S.F. with its historic past. With walking tours halted and most historic sites closed, the folks behind the site are hoping their “guerrilla history posters” will give residents a little entertainment and education.

Church and 22nd as it appeared in June of 1916. The construction of the J-Church line can be seen on the right.

10 Letters We Dropped From The Alphabet

In my earlier article, How Do You Pronounce “Ye”?, available at https://blog.eogn.com/2020/05/12/how-do-you-pronounce-ye-2/, I discussed the thorn, a letter that used to be in the English alphabet (and in the alphabets of several other European languages) but has since been dropped and is no longer used (except it is still popular in the Icelandic language).

In the article, I wrote, “Yes, the letter thorn was one of the 27 (or more) letters of the English alphabet back in the Middle Ages.” Now a YouTube video explains the many lost letters that no longer exist in the modern English alphabet.

How Do You Pronounce “Ye”?


Many of us have encountered “ye” in old documents. Of course, we have all seen tourists shops labeled as “ye olde” something-or-other. How many of us know how to pronounce that?

For years, I assumed it was pronounced as it was written. I would pronounce it as “Yee Old.” I was a bit surprised later to learn that I had been wrong. Instead, The words above are correctly pronounced, “The Old English.”

What looks like a “y” is a written character deriving from the old English letter, “thorn,” representing the “th” sound. No, it is not the letter “y,” it is the letter thorn.

Virginia Beach Man Finds a Receipt for the Sale of Four Slaves in 1858. He Now Wants to Find Their Descendants.

About 15 or 20 years ago, Andy Ott, as typical, bought a couple of volumes from an antique store. As typical, a folded piece of paper remained stuck in its pages. One side of the light blue paper contained a perfunctory notation: “Bill of Sale from Daniel Fisher. $1300”

The other side contained a passage that still haunts Ott.

How They Tried to Curb Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918

Many of our ancestors had an experience in 1918 that is remarkably similar to what we are experiencing today: a raging worldwide pandemic, face masks, stay-at-home isolation requirements, politicians who ignored the problem for far too long, hospitals that were quickly overwhelmed, bogus claims of “cures” that didn’t work, and more. Perhaps we should study history in order to make sure it doesn’t repeat or to (hopefully) reduce the impact of today’s Covid-19 pandemic.

Click on this image to view a much higher resolution version.

The event our ancestors went through is now called the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 and 1919. In fact, there is one overpowering need to study the history of the Spanish Flu: after the pandemic of 1918 started dying down, a second wave of the disease, in the autumn of 1918, proved to be far more deadly than the first. By studying history, we may be able to avoid a second wave of the Covid-19 disease that is “far more deadly than the first.”

Spending a Lot of Time at Home? Take the Archive Challenge and Help Preserve History!

Here is an excellent challenge from the American Folklife Center, as described in the Library of Congress web site:

At the American Folklife Center, we know it’s been hard for those of you who are cooped up at home in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most of the staff live in areas under stay-at-home orders, and have been working from home for weeks. And although some cities and states are starting to open up a little, we have a feeling it will be a while before we’re going out to concerts, theaters, jams, or open mics to perform or enjoy live music and performing arts.

Billy Bragg took the Archive Challenge in 2017!

But guess what? At the Library of Congress, we have an amazing online archive of folk music and folklife which you can explore right from home, and we’d like to offer a suggestion: why not learn a song, tune, poem, or story from the archive, make a recording or video of yourself performing it, and post it online? Or make a work of art based on one of our photos, or write a story or poem based on our materials. We’d love to see what you come up with! Folks from all genres and creators of all art forms are invited to interpret a field recording, video, photo, or manuscript from the AFC Archive. You don’t need to be a professional in order to participate!