History

The Online History of the Royal Australian Air Force

Military aviation was first pioneered during the First World War. During that war, both the armies and the navies of all the major combatants operated aircraft. Late in the war, however, when it was realized that aerial fighting was a distinct form of warfare and not just an adjunct to land or sea operations, some nations formed specialist air forces. Combining the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps, Great Britain formed the Royal Air Force in 1918. The four squadrons of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) remained part of the AIF. In 1920, the remnants of the AFC became the Australian Air Corps, which in turn became the Royal Australian Air Force on 31 March 1921.

The Australian War Memorial contains an online collection of material to help you in your family history research as well as on a variety of topics concerning the wartime experiences of the brave men and women who served in Australia’s military forces.

Boston Public Library’s 78rpm Records Come to the Internet

This won’t help you discover your ancestors but will help you learn about the music they enjoyed. Following eighteen months of work, more than 50,000 78rpm record “sides” from the Boston Public Library’s sound archives have now been digitized and made freely available online by the Internet Archive.

Art Tatum

I am sitting here listening to It Had to be You by Jazz legend Art Tatum. The fidelity is what you would expect from a 78 rpm record made in 1944. That is, it is definitely low fidelity. However, it is obvious that Art Tatum was a keyboard maestro.

You can learn more about this new Boston Oublic Library’s additions to Archive.org’s collection of old music at http://bit.ly/2V5xVsm while the collection itself may be found at: https://archive.org/details/78rpm_bostonpubliclibrary.

 

TranscribeNC is Now Available from the State Archives of North Carolina

The following is copied from the TranscribeNC web site:

TranscribeNC, a transcription project hosted by the State Archives featuring 5 collections, is now live! We are recruiting volunteers to spend a little time helping to transcribe its first project — county draft board records of men who were drafted or enlisted during World War I.

“This project is critical to telling North Carolina’s story,” says Randon McCrea, digital archivist for online programming, who is heading this initiative, along with archivist Anna Peitzman. “Each of these archival collections—WWI draft lists and travel diaries—personalize the human experience and keep this state’s legacy alive. When complete, the WWI information will be of importance to veterans, their families, and communities.”

Other transcription projects will also be made available.

3,000 hours of Oral Irish History Available Online

An Ireland-based oral history organization, Irish Life and Lore, invites educators, students and those with an interest in Irish history and folklore to browse its rich archive of audio material and books.

Founded in 1990 by Tralee-based oral historians Maurice and Jane O’Keeffe for the purpose of preserving oral history across Ireland, Irish Life and Lore has compiled, cataloged and archived over 3,000 hours of audio material, arranged into Oral History Collections.

Each themed collection captures a version of the past, which represents the views and sentiments of Irish communities and explores aspects of historical experience that are rarely recorded. Many important topics are covered in the collections, including the Irish revolutionary period, the arts, sport, literature, emigration, local history, folklore, family history and much more.

The online oral history archive may be found at: https://www.irishlifeandlore.com. All individual recordings are available for purchase by download for €6.99 ($7.90 US) or on CD for €15 ($17 US).

Lost Photos Mystery Solved

Two weeks ago police in Glasgow issued an unusual lost property appeal. A collection of old photos, perhaps treasured family memorabilia, had been found at a department store. Solving the mystery revealed an unexpected link to one of the darkest moments in the history of the BBC.

The photographs had been found in Glasgow’s John Lewis store last year and handed in to police. With no-one coming forward to claim them and thinking they may have sentimental value, officers posted them on social media.

Newspapers and websites picked up the story and soon a team of amateur sleuths and genealogists were working on the puzzle. It wasn’t long before the mystery began to unravel. Much of the detective work was skillfully provided by genealogist Sue Wright.

You can read the interesting story by Calum Watson in the BBC Scotland News website at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-47359945.

My thanks to newsletter reader John Rees for telling me about this interesting story.

We Are The Roots: Black Settlers and Their Experiences of Discrimination on the Canadian Prairies

The following announcement is from the Genealogy à la carte blog by Gail Dever at http://genealogyalacarte.ca/?p=27135:

Winner of the 2018 Alberta Historical Resources Foundation 2018 Heritage Awareness award, We Are The Roots is a documentary that tells the stories of African American immigrants who settled in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the early 1900s.

Thousands of advertisements were distributed by the Canadian Government via posters, pamphlets, and in American newspapers, encouraging Americans to move to the “Last Best West” where 160 acres of land could be purchased for a registration fee of $10.

Freedom on the Move launches Database of Fugitives from American Slavery

This new database will help many genealogists seeking their slave ancestors. Even better, if you already have information about a slave ancestor who escaped, or attempted to escape, those bonds, you can contribute the information you have in order to help future genealogists, historians, and others.

Freedom on the Move (FOTM) is an online project devoted to fugitives from slavery in North America The site’s owners are enlisting the help of the public to create a database for tens of thousands of advertisements placed by enslavers who wanted to recapture self-liberating Africans and African-Americans.

The ads were placed in newspapers by enslavers trying to locate fugitives and by jailers wanting to return captured fugitives to the enslavers claiming them as “property.” The ads offered monetary rewards and included a wealth of personal details about the fugitives’ appearance, mannerisms, clothing, speech, family members, places of origin and destinations. The insights the ads provide into the experiences of enslaved Africans and African-Americans are especially valuable because so little information about them as individuals has been preserved.

Do You Remember the Slide Rule?

It wasn’t all that long ago that engineers, astronauts, mathematicians, and students proudly carried the original pocket calculator. I had one and thought I was proficient at it. Sadly, I misplaced it years ago.

The slide rule was a simple device with one sliding part that could do complex mathematical calculations in moments. Multiplication, division, roots, logarithms, and even trigonometry could be performed with ease. But as technology marched forward with sophisticated computers and graphing pocket calculators, the lowly slide rule was forgotten.

Tracing the Founding Fathers of Tristan da Cunha

Would you like to create a pedigree chart for this extended family?

Tristan da Cunha is a remote group of volcanic islands in the middle of nowhere. It is in the south Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1,511 miles (2,432 km) off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa. That is roughly half way between South Africa and Brazil The main island has 278 permanent inhabitants who all carry British Overseas Territories citizenship.

See Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristan_da_Cunha for more information about Tristan da Cunha.

The island, which boasts rich and detailed historical and genealogical records, has a population of just 300, believed to have descended from 15 ancestors – seven men and eight women who arrived on the island between 1816 and 1908. The current population of 278 individuals reportedly are all descended from only seven females and eight males.

Remains of Explorer who put Australia on the Map found under Euston Station

Archaeologists excavating an abandoned burial ground under Euston Station in London have uncovered the remains of the Royal Navy explorer Captain Matthew Flinders, who led the first expedition to circumnavigate Australia in 1802 and gave the country its name. Identified by a lead plate on his coffin, Captain Flinders’ grave is one of 40,000 human burials that are being relocated to make way for the HS2 high-speed railway’s London terminus.

Today is Thomas Crapper Day!

thomas-crapperThomas Crapper was a plumber in the late 19th century who founded Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. in London. He is widely (but erroneously) credited with invention of the flush toilet.

Thomas Crapper’s date of birth is unknown but a record exists of his baptism in Thorne, Yorkshire, on September 28, 1836. He died January 27, 1910 so that date every year is dedicated to his memory because of all he did for England and the rest of the world.

Actually, Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet. It was invented by John Harington in 1596 but it never achieved much success commercially. Most people had never seen a flush toilet until after the 1880s. Crapper improved the design and used his skills as a shrewd businessman and salesperson to make it extremely popular. His company, Thomas Crapper & Co, owned the world’s first bath, toilet and sink showroom, in King’s Road, London, England.

Cullman County, Alabama, Historic Photographs Online

Wallace State Community College’s Genealogy online collection features photographs from Cullman County’s past for the public’s use. Wallace State’s Library has collected many other photographs over the years including an entire defunct newspaper’s archives. Those images will join the other collections on the Wallace State website at wallacestate.edu/library/genealogy.

Croom Family Reunion 1930

The David Rumsey Map Collection Places a 42×38 foot 1940 WPA San Francisco Model Online

“But my computer monitor isn’t big enough to display that!”

Seriously, if you have ancestors in San Francisco or have any other interest in the city as it existed in 1940, you will be interested in the scale model of San Francisco.

Thousands of Ottoman-Era Photographs from Turkey are now Online

If you have ancestors from Turkey, you will be interested in a new online collection of photographs. The digitization project focused on photographs from the nineteenth century until World War I (Series I–VIII), resulting in 3,750 individual records of digital files.

Pierre de Gigord Collection of Photographs of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, 1850-1958

French collector Pierre de Gigord traveled to Turkey and collected thousands of Ottoman-era photographs in a variety of media and formats. The resulting Pierre de Gigord Collection is now housed in the Getty Research Institute, which recently digitized over 12,000 of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographs, making them available to study and download for free online.

Report on Josh Duhamel’s appearance on “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. star Josh Duhamel was the celebrity guest on this week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?. He found some unnerving information about one of his distant ancestors, including interrogation and torture.

Duhamel traveled to England to investigate the extraordinary life of his twelve times great-grandfather, Thomas Norton. A visit to the Tower of London, the U.K. College of Arms, and Cambridge University resulted in Duhamel examining numerous original documents written in the 1500s.

You can see a bit more of the program in the following video:

World War I Newspaper Clippings, 1914 to 1926, are Now Available Online

Quoting from the Library of Congress web site:

“The massive collection, World War History: Newspaper Clippings, 1914 to 1926, is now fully digitized and freely available on the Library of Congress website. The 79,621 pages are packed with war-related front pages, illustrated feature articles, editorial cartoons, and more. You can search by keywords, browse the content chronologically, and download pages.

AT&T More-or-Less Accurately Predicted the Future in 1993

In 1993, AT&T produced a series of television advertisements that surely seemed like science fiction at the time. The company proclaimed that in 25 years (that’s in 2018), AT&T would help you watch the movie you wanted to watch at any time that is convenient to you, attend a meeting remotely from your home, have telephone communications on a wristwatch, keep an eye on your home when you are not at home, and even get directions from your car. Indeed, such things were unheard of only 25 years ago.

Yet today we accept Netflix, GoToMeeting, Apple Watch, GPS devices, and many other “science fiction” capabilities as common, everyday services.

You can watch the AT&T ads in a YouTube video (who ever dreamed of YouTube in 1993?) below or at: https://youtu.be/a2EgfkhC1eo.

There were a Number of Thanksgiving Celebrations in North America Prior to 1621

As you sit down to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner, please don’t make the mistake of referring to the Pilgrims and “the first Thanksgiving.” They weren’t the first.

Spanish documents show the first recorded meal between European colonists and Native Americans happened on the grounds of what is now the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. However, that may or may not be considered as a meal of “thanksgiving.” They fact that they ate together doesn’t automatically qualify as giving thanks.

It is believed that the first recorded Thanksgiving celebration was held in April 1598 in Nuevo Mexico, about 25 miles south of what is now El Paso, Texas (which puts it in present-day Mexico, not the U.S.)

I wrote about that many years ago in the November 25, 2002 edition of newsletter which is still available at: http://www.eogn.com/archives/news0247.htm.

The Real Story About Thanksgiving You’ve Probably Never Heard

Millions of American schoolchildren are taught that the Pilgrims landed at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. Many of the Pilgrims died in the first few months. However, almost a year later, the Pilgrims celebrated a feast of thanksgiving to celebrate their bountiful harvest from their first year of crops.

That part of the story is true. Almost everything else we have been told about the Pilgrims’ early years  is either false or misleading.

The story actually begins in 1614, six years before the Pilgrims landed in modern-day Massachusetts. An Englishman named Thomas Hunt kidnapped Tisquantum from his village, Patuxet, which was part of a group of villages known as the Wampanoag confederation. Most of today’s history books mistakenly refer to Tisquantum as “Squanto.”

Civil War Facial Recognition

Photography was a new technology at the time of the U.S. Civil War. An estimated 40 million photos were taken during the Civil war – although only four million are believed to remain today. Many have been treated as heirloom photos by families ever since. Still others are valuable for their historical value. One problem is that many of the people shown in the old photographs have never been identified, until now.

In a marriage of the latest technology and 150-year-old technology, computerized facial recognition techniques are now identifying many of the people in the old photographs.

Computer scientist and history buff Kurt Luther created a free-to-use website, called Civil War Photo Sleuth, that uses facial recognition technology to cross-reference vintage photographs with a database and hopefully assign a name to unknown subjects.