Rare 2,000-Year-Old Roman Documents Found in London Mud

Paper does not last for thousands of years but wood apparently can do so, if it is buried in mud. Researchers from Museum of London Archaeology uncovered more than 400 wooden tablets during excavations in London’s financial district for the new headquarters of media and data company Bloomberg.

So far, 87 have been deciphered, including one addressed “in London, to Mogontius” and dated to A.D. 65-80 – the earliest written reference to the city, which the Romans called Londinium.

U.K. National Maritime Museum and the Crew List Index Project Announced

The National Archives of the United Kingdom has a new crowdsourcing project beginning in June:

Merchant 1915 Crew List Index project

“Building on the success of the Merchant 1915 Crew List Index project, we have once again joined forces with the National Maritime Museum (NMM) and the Crew List Index Project team (CLIP) to create a new free-to-search database resource relating to all the Royal Navy officers and ratings that served in the First World War – Royal Navy First World War Lives at Sea – based principally on service records held by The National Archives.

Immigration Animation

In this animated clip from Max Galka, historical immigration flows to the U.S. in different time periods are illustrated. Look at the video player below or at https://youtu.be/RnIOyTXReto.

Ireland Recognizes 1847 Gift from Choctaw Nation During Potato Famine

In 1847, less than 16 years after the Trail of Tears, the all but penniless Choctaw Nation donated $170 – nearly $5,000 today – to complete strangers starving in the Irish Potato Famine. 168 years later, the Irish have not forgotten.

During the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s, more than a million people perished in Ireland when a blight decimated potato crops that served as the primary food source for almost half the population, but primarily the rural poor.

Genealogy Project Reconnects Chinese Youth with History

More Chinese youth are getting involved in a genealogy project that aims to record and preserve family histories, China Daily reported. Organized by a nonprofit called the Beijing Yongyuan Foundation, the annual project engages college students to compile videos of family histories being told orally and to present the final output as a short documentary. A professional panel then judges the entries.

The genealogy project encourages Chinese students to interview older family relatives and to document their life experiences, especially during world War II when the country suffered terribly at the hands of Japanese invaders. Many stories revolve around the Rape of Nanjing. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre for more information about the horrific mass killings in Nanjing.

“Ancestors, Family, and Associates in the War of 1812 Records“ is now available on Ancestry Academy FREE of Charge

This is a great video and should appeal to anyone with an interest in one of the lesser-known wars of the United States. Today’s announcement from the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions team states:

“The War of 1812 was America’s ‘Second Revolution’ – little understood by many in America how precarious the survival of the new nation was. This segment enlarges the student’s understanding of the causes of the war and how the Napoleonic War on Europe’s continent distracting the British military may very well have saved the nation. Ending in 1815 with the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, the war directly led to the penning of our nation’s national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner and propelled Battle of New Orleans’ famous General Andrew Jackson to the Presidency of the United States, serving as its seventh president. To place an ancestor in the context of history, this segment paints the landscape of the social climate during the War’s four year course – 1812 to 1815.”

Ancestors, Family, and Associates in the War of 1812 Records is available at https://www.ancestry.com/academy/course/war-of-1812?ref=searchbar.

The Preserve the Pensions Blog at http://www.preservethepensions.org/blog also states:

Ancestry.co.uk Adds the Ireland Courts Martial Files (1916-1922)

On Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, a small group of Irish Volunteers occupied the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The volunteers also secured several other key locations throughout the city including the Four Courts and City Hall. From a military perspective, the Easter Rising was a complete failure. But it was the events that followed that ensured the effects of the Rising would alter the course of Irish history. It is within this context that the Courts Martial Files play such an important role.


Martial Law was declared in on the 25th of April 1916 in an attempt to maintain order on the streets of Dublin. This was later extended to the whole country. During the aftermath of the Easter Rising, and during the years of the Irish War of Independence individuals were arrested under Martial Law if suspected of being pro-independence and committing treason to the Crown.

Under Martial Law individuals were tried without a defence council, without a jury and the trials took place in private chambers. Members of the public and members of the press were not allowed to be present at the trial.

US Women in World War I in Photographs

The US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has released an online collection of photographs showing the role of women in World War I and their impact on the Women’s Rights Movement of the early 20th century.


As stated in NARA’s Unwritten Records Blog:

At the outset of World War I in 1914 women were not allowed to serve in the military. They were not even allowed to vote nationwide. Prior to the U.S. entering the war, most women were relegated to domestic life as wives or servants. Some worked in textile manufacturing, retail, government, and education. Many wanted more and saw the war as an opportunity for women to prove their worth. The suffragist movement was in full swing as tensions with Germany escalated following the sinking of the passenger ship RMS Lusitania in 1915 and the interception of the Zimmerman Telegram in 1917. The United States entered the war in 1917, immediately drafting nearly 3 million men into military service and drawing unprecedented numbers of women into the workforce.

Women on the Home Front

The Real Colonel Harland Sanders

Alan Bellows has published a fascinating mini-biography of “Colonel” Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. The story certainly changed my mental image of the Colonel. You might be interested in reading the article at http://www.damninteresting.com/colonels-of-truth.


This Is How People Sent Emails Back In The ’80s

I do remember home computers in those days and I do not miss them! If you were using online home computers in the 1980s, this video from the archives of Thames TV is a reminder of how we used to send and receive email messages long before the invention of the World Wide Web. Ah, the sweet sound of a dot matrix printer.

My favorite line from the video is when the television interviewer asked, “Why did you buy a computer?” I cannot imagine anyone asking that question today.

This interview was first shown on Thames TV’s computer programme ‘Database’ in 1984. You can view at https://youtu.be/szdbKz5CyhA or in the video player below:

The Truth About St. Patrick

March 17 is celebrated by millions of Irish descendants every year. They all know the “facts” about Saint Patrick. Or do they?

St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, and he wasn’t born in Ireland. Patrick was probably born in what is now England, Scotland or Wales around A.D. 390. Most agree that St. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in the British Isles. Therefore, Patrick himself was a Roman citizen even though he was born somewhere in what is now Great Britain. He was living in Scotland or Wales (scholars can’t agree which) when he was kidnapped at age 16 by Irish raiders and sold as a slave, reports Catholic Online. He spent years in Ireland herding sheep until he escaped. He eventually returned to Ireland where he spread Christianity.

St. Patrick did not bring Christianity to Ireland. Christianity was introduced into Ireland by a bishop known as Palladius before Patrick began preaching in Ireland. However, St. Patrick apparently had more success at converting the Irish to Christianity than did Palladius.

Intriguing History of ‘Paris Siege’ Letter

When A. Mesnier wrote to his mother in December 1870, Paris was under siege. The Prussians had surrounded the capital, food supplies were running low and temperatures had dropped below freezing. Mr Mesnier wrote of his hopes for victory and his frustration at being unable to enlist. The letter was flown out of Paris in a “ballon monté”, a hot air balloon, the only way to communicate with the rest of France. That had to be an early example of “air mail!”


Iowa History is at Risk

If you live in Iowa, have Iowa ancestry, or have any other interest in Iowa history, you will want to be aware of a situation described by Tyler Priest in an article in the Des Moines Register. Priest writes:

“The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has mismanaged the [Historical Society of Iowa] for years, but recently the situation has become dire. Because of budget austerity and shifting priorities, public service hours at both the Iowa City and Des Moines research centers have been reduced to only three days a week. The source of the problem is that DCA leaders have diverted scarce funds away from hiring archivists, librarians and catalogers, in favor of administrators, public relations managers, and marketers who lack the training and commitment to guarantee the society’s longstanding mission ‘as a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy.'”

Tyler Priest then goes on to describe the physical condition of the collections:

The Lives of Our Ancestors: the Moral Threat of Bicycles in the 1890s

Today we typically think of bicycles as toys for children or as exercise machines for adults to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. Yet out ancestors often had very different opinions about bicycles. As Michael Taylor explained in a 2010 paper, Protestant authorities saw cycling as a significant threat to morality, and tried to mold the sport into a Christian activity. The Women’s Rescue League of Boston even claimed that, following the closing of brothels, prostitutes were riding bikes to reach their clients.


Become a Space Archaeologist and Locate Historical Sites

Sarah Parcak, a scientist, professor, Egyptologist, anthropologist, and the 2016 winner of the $1 million TED prize, is encouraging everyone to become Space Archaeologists.

Parcak spends her days scrutinizing satellite imagery of Earth for clues that could lead to long-buried historical artifacts. She has been profiled by several national news outlets like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She enjoyed perhaps her biggest platform yet when she delivered the keynote at TED’s annual conference. During her TED speech, she said, “I want to find every archaeological site in the world.”


Parcak plans to do this by turning everyone—including you—into space archaeologists. Using an idea that’s already had success in biology and chemistry, Parcak wants to turn the act of searching for archaeological sites into a game on your phone.

Exact Location of Hangings of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 has been Identified

salemwitchtrialhangingsProctor’s Ledge has now been identified as the exact location of the gallows used to execute 19 innocent people during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. The site was confirmed as the hanging site last week by the Gallows Hill Project, a group of seven scholars who spent the past five years pinning down the exact spot. The rocky, wooded area has grabbed attention from not only visitors who want to grab a picture, but news crews and even direct descendants of some of the victims.

Whisky, Haggis, Golf and Other Things that Aren’t Actually Scottish

This article is going to upset a lot of people with Scottish heritage! Writing in The Scotsman (a web site that presumably knows about all things Scottish), Alison Campsie claims that history books prove:

  • Bagpipes probably came from Egypt. The earliest written references to bagpipes have been found in Greece, where the instrument is known as the piovala.
  • The first written record of whisky drinking was actually made in Ireland in 1405 while the earliest documented record of distilling in Scotland was made in 1494.
  • There is strong evidence to suggest that golf was actually an import from northern Europe.
  • The origins of the humble haggis is believed to have been from England before making its way to Scotland. Food historian Catherine Brown said Burns claimed the pudding as Scottish with his 1786 Address to the Haggis because it was a thrifty contrast to the flamboyant French cuisine popular in Edinburgh at the time.
  • Archaeological finds have suggested that tartan – or plaid – was found in both Central Asia and Austria long before it was first woven in Scotland.

Did Ancient Romans Visit North America about 1,400 Years Before Columbus?

Many undocumented stories tell of Europeans and Asians who visited North America prior to 1492. Now a popular television program claims to have found proof that Roman ships visited North America, possibly prior to 100 AD.

The evidence will appear soon on the History Channel’s popular series Curse of Oak Island, now in its third season. Historic investigator J. Hutton Pulitzer, who has previously been featured on the show, has put a large white paper together with a group of academics from the AAPS (Ancient Artifact Preservation Society). Pulitzer claims to have evidence of a Roman sword found submerged just off Oak Island – and what is believed to be a Roman shipwreck.

The History of the Hearing Aid

Man uses an ear trumpetYou must admit that some of today’s technology advances are very useful. Take hearing aids, for instance. Today’s micro-miniature hearing aids can hide inside the ear canal. A few sightly larger ones with more capabilities hide discreetly behind the ear. Hearing aids worn by our ancestors were not always so discreet.

The earliest known hearing aid, called an ear trumpet, was described by Belgian scientist and high school rector Jean Leurechon in his book Récréations-Mathématiques, in 1624. The book described how to make your own ear trumpet as there were no manufacturers of the device at that time.

Jamestown Dig named One of Archaeology Magazine’s Top Ten Discoveries of 2015

Nearly 20 years after unearthing the lost remains of America’s first permanent English settlement, Jamestown archaeologists have attracted world attention again with one of Archaeology Magazine’s Top Ten discoveries of 2015. This is the third time the project has made the list since uncovering the town’s historic 1608 church in 2010.

Excavations of four burials at the 1608 Jamestown Church site in James Fort. Burials (left to right) JAMESFORT-APV-2993B, JAMESFORT-APV-2992C, JAMESFORT-APV-3046C, and JAMESFORT-APV-170C. Preservation Virginia performed excavations between November 18 and November 21, 2013. Dr. Douglas Owsley, Curator, and Kari Bruwelheide, Museum Specialist, from the Division of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History performed in situ analysis of the burials.

Excavations of four burials at the 1608 Jamestown Church site in James Fort. 

So far, four bodies have been found in unearthed graves. Best of all, their identities have been determined. In addition to the Jamestown and Smithsonian scientists, the team included genealogists from Ancestry.com, who compiled a list of colonists buried between 1608 and 1610 — then pinpointed their ages at their time of death. That list was then compared with the forensic data gleaned from an exhaustive study of human remains which revealed biological ages and social status of those bodies. As a result, the team has identified the four of bodies as: