Dr. Wendy Richter Named as State Historian and Director of the Arkansas State Archives

The following is an announcement written by the Department of Arkansas Heritage:

Dr. Wendy Richter

Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), today named Dr. Wendy Richter as state historian and director of the Arkansas State Archives (ASA), a division of DAH. Richter previously served as director of the Archives, when it was known as the Arkansas History Commission, from 2005-2012. She has over 35 years of experience in archival records and research, specifically in Arkansas history. She will begin work on May 14 at a salary of $87,095.

“The work of the Arkansas State Archives is very important, and I look forward to Dr. Richter’s leadership of the organization and its mission of maintaining the historical records of our state,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Her understanding of and scholarship in Arkansas history are an extraordinary gift to our state.”

Human Longevity, Inc. Hires Former Ancestry Executive, Scott Sorensen, as New Chief Technology Officer

Scott Sorensen has been the Chief Technology Officer at Ancestry, Inc. for 16 years. He is now leaving the company for a new position. The following announcement was written by Human Longevity, Inc.:

SAN DIEGO, March 19, 2018 — Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI) – the genomics-powered health intelligence company – announced today that Scott Sorensen is joining the leadership team as Chief Technology Officer, reporting to J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO.

Sorensen joins HLI from Ancestry, a leader in family history and consumer genomics products and services. He held a variety of positions during his 16-year career at Ancestry starting as Director of Engineering and culminating as CTO. He was integral in developing the strategy and vision to transform the family history business into a genomics business. He directed the development of scalable, reliable technology platforms and architecture – and created processes for engineers and scientists to collaborate and deliver solutions to clients effectively. He also helped prepare the technology organization for IPO and PE transactions.

Nicki Peak Birch, CG, Retiring as Executive Director of BCG

The following announcement was written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

Nicki Peak Birch, CG, longtime Executive Director of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), has elected to retire this year at the end of her contract, 30 June 2018. The Board has selected Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, as the new Executive Director.

Nicki Birch, a Virginia resident, was certified in 2007 and became the Executive Director in 2010. She was the sixth person to hold the administrative reins in BCG’s 50-year history, following Richard E. Spurr (1964-73); Donna R. Hotaling, CGRS (1973-82); John Frederick Dorman, CG Emeritus (1982-96); Marty Hiatt, CGRS (1996-2001); and Lynn C. McMillion, CG Emeritus (2001-2010).

Alan Mann, R.I.P

Many genealogists who spent time a few years ago at Salt Lake City’s Family History Library will remember Alan Mann. He had various assignments there over the years but probably is best remembered as the supervisor of the Automated Resource Center at the Family History Library. He also was a frequent speaker at many genealogy conferences around the country.

Sadly, Alan’s brother, Steve Mann, posted the following to Facebook last night: “My brother, Alan Mann, passed away last night after a 5-year battle with cancer. He worked for more than 25 years for FamilySearch. He went all over the world teaching.”

There is more to Steve Mann’s message. You can read it at:

Dr. J. Christopher Young, R.I.P.

The genealogy world lost another valuable member recently. The following is an extract from the web site:

“Dr. J. Christopher Chris Young passed away on January 29, 2018, from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Nearly 2 million living Foreign Protestants descendants have lost one of their most passionate and prolific advocates of the historical and genealogical study of these reliant and creative initial 1,453 immigrant settlers to Lunenburg in 1753 who were so important to the economic and cultural development of not just the Nova Scotia and Canada, but all of North America.

“Chris’ Foreign Protestants family heritage (Jung & nee Corkum) fueled his passions in applying his exceptional analytical and writing skills to further extend the heritage discovery and preservation efforts of Dr. Winthrop Pickard Bell’s historical book The “Foreign Protestants” and the Settlement of Nova Scotia. Chris spent thousands of hours completing Dr. Bell’s unfinished goal of developing a registry of the 1st 1,453 immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, and the Montbeliard region of France and Holland who landed on June 7, 1753 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada. Chris’ editing efforts yielded not only the Register of the Foreign Protestants of Nova Scotia (ca. 1749-1770), but also Maps Associated With Lunenburg County Family History. Both were published in 2003.”

2018 Lackey Scholarship Winner Announced: Linda MacIver

The following announcement was written by the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records Alumni Association:

The Genealogical Institute on Federal Records Alumni Association (Gen-Fed Alumni) announces, with great pleasure, the recipient of the Richard S. Lackey Scholarship for 2018, Linda MacIver of Boston, Massachusetts. Awarded yearly, this scholarship covers tuition and some other expenses for the week long seminar, the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed). The scholarship application specifies an “experienced researcher employed in a paid or volunteer position in the services of the genealogical community.”

John Sittner Jumps into 2nd Congressional District Race

Many of us who have been in the genealogy world for a long time will remember John Sittner. He was the founder of Ancestry Publishing, a company that he later sold and soon after the company name was changed to John now has a new interest: he has filed paperwork to run for Congress as an independent candidate in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.

Sittner, who is also the owner of Ethos Investments, a real estate investment firm, filed paperwork last week ahead of his candidacy. Sittner previously was director of Olympic opportunities and planning for Salt Lake City leading up to the 2002 Winter Games.

Sittner will be challenging 3-term incumbent Republican Chris Stewart in November. Democrats Shireen Ghorbani, Randy Hopkins, and Misty Snow also plan to run for the same Congressional seat.

Gary M Smith, R.I.P.

Gary and Diana Smith

The genealogy world has lost another very good friend. Gary M Smith has passed away. He was a well-known and popular speaker, often speaking at genealogy meetings large and small along with his wife, Diana Crisman Smith. Together, they were were well known for their activities supporting the Genealogical Speakers Guild and the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE). They also sponsored several genealogy cruises in the past few years and I was fortunate enough to be invited on board as one of speakers on some of their cruises.

We are going to miss you, Gary.

You can read more on Diana Crisman Smith’s Facebook page at:

Corrections to the Previously-published Ancestry of Meghan Markle

The name of Meghan Markle is all over the news these days. The American actress, model, and humanitarian recently became engaged to Prince Henry of Wales. Several news services have published articles about her mixed British and American ancestry. I published articles pointing to the news stories earlier at and at

John Wells is a long-time genealogist who has studied one of the families in Meghan Markle’s family tree. He believes he has found errors in the recently-published claims of her Ragland ancestors and he has the documentation to prove his information is based on original sources. If you have an interest in Meghan Markle’s ancestry, you undoubtedly will want to read John Wells’s report at:

Announcing Two New Additions to Past & Present Pathways

The following announcement was written by the folks at: Past & Present Pathways

Tina Sansone and Roccie Hill are proud to announce two new additions to Past & Present Pathways. Past and Present Pathways is a genealogical research, history writing, DNA analysis, and family history editing company. The company formed in 2016 with Tina Sansone, Roccie Hill, Carla Love Maitland and Sheri McNeil Savory. Each are independent researchers that support each other. The two newest additions are Sheri Beffort Fenley and Diane L. Giannini, CG. Both are members of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG).

How Tom Tryniski Digitized Nearly 50 Million Pages of Newspapers in his Living Room

Tom Tryniski has been mentioned several times in this newsletter. (See for a list of past articles about him and his work.) Anyone who has looked at Tom Tryniski’s web site at probably has been impressed by the site’s collection of 27 million historic newspaper pages available to everyone, free of charge.

Now the Columbia Journalism Review has also written about Tom’s work, saying (amongst other things):

“TOM TRYNISKI DOES NOT LOCK HIS DOORS. He spends most days sitting in his living room in Fulton, New York, 30 miles northwest of Syracuse, in front of two jumbo computer monitors, looking something like a security guard, but friendlier. He appears young for 68—skinny, with a head of white hair and an energetic demeanor. He wears a uniform of jeans and a slim-fitting T-shirt, but no coat in the chilly fall air. When we talk, he is almost always smirking.

Pat Gooldy, R.I.P

Pat Gooldy, well known as the owner of Ye Olde Genealogie Shoppe, passed away recently in Indianapolis and was buried 20 December 2017. There is no obituary and nothing on FindAGrave. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ray Gooldy.

Pat wrote a number of genealogy articles as well as at least one book: Manual for Indiana Genealogical Research. She also compiled and edited, with Charles M. Franklin, the Index to Testators of Indiana Wills to 1880.

Ray and Pat Gooldy opened Ye Olde Genealogie Shoppe in 1974, providing exhibits, lectures, classes, publications and other genealogical services. Their first major genealogical seminar was in Decatur, Illinois in 1975 and they continued to display and/or lecture at dozens of events until Ray’s death in 2002.

Genealogy Inspires Georgia Man to Get Back On Bicycle to Visit Sites of His Ancestors

A scare with traffic kept D. Gordon Draves off of his bicycle for 25 years. Learning about his ancestors got him back on. For the past three summers, the 71-year-old East Point resident has embarked on ambitious bike trips in the hopes of learning about his family’s history. Even places that didn’t turn up much in the way of documentation still paid off, Draves says. “It really just feels good to follow in the footsteps of your ancestors.”

You can read an interview with D. Gordon Draves in the AJCePaper at

By the way, I have to insert a personal comment here:

MyHeritage CEO Gilad Japhet Tells the Stories of His Ancestors Who Were Victims of the Holocaust

In honor of International Holocaust Memorial Day, commemorated on Saturday, MyHeritage’s CEO and Founder, Gilad Japhet, wrote a very personal blog post in dedication of his family and others who perished in the Holocaust. He wrote the article in memory of his ancestors who were victims of one of the most tragic human experiences this world has ever witnessed.

Japhet writes, “My passion to learn more about my Chwojnik ancestors was key to my personal interest in genealogy, which began when I was 13 years old.”

Almost all genealogists attempt to learn of the difficulties and successes of their relatives. Those of us with families who were not affected by the Holocaust have difficulty understanding the horrors that other families endured. Gilad Japhet’s blog post helps provide some understanding of those terrible years. You can read his words in the MyHeritage Blog at:

Emily Anne Croom, R.I.P.

Emily Anne Croom was a well-known genealogy expert, a prolific author, and frequent public speaker. She passed away January 21, 2018 in Bellaire, Texas.

Emily’s interest in family history led her to write her first genealogy book, Unpuzzling Your Past. That was followed by several more books, including: The Genealogist’s Companion and Sourcebook, The Sleuth Book for Genealogists. Strategies for More Successful Family History Research, and A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors which she co-wrote with Franklin Carter Smith. She also wrote numerous magazine articles that were published in some of the leading genealogy magazines.

Emily certainly left behind a first-class legacy that has helped many genealogists, especially those who are new to family history.

Boston Historian and Author Honored with NEHGS Lifetime Achievement Award

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

New England Historic Genealogical Society Honors One of Its Own—William M. Fowler, Jr.— with NEHGS Lifetime Achievement Award

In a Tribute to the Renowned Historian and Biographer, Mayor Martin Walsh Proclaims January 25th William M. Fowler, Jr. Day in City of Boston

January 26, 2018—Boston, Massachusetts—On Thursday, January 25, 2018, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) honored the vision and leadership of renowned historian and author William M. Fowler, Jr., a tireless contributor to the appreciation of American history, on the same day that Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh proclaimed William M. Fowler, Jr. Day through-out the City of Boston. At a NEHGS Family History Benefit Dinner in Boston last evening, Fowler was presented with the NEHGS Lifetime Achievement Award and hailed for his many contributions in the fields of history and biography.

The Humorous Obituary of Terry Ward

I admire this man’s lifestyle. Terry Ward of DeMotte, Indiana, passed away January 23, 2018. I don’t know who wrote his obituary but, whoever it was, that person has a sense of humor. Amongst other things, the obituary states:

“Terry Wayne Ward, age 71, of DeMotte, IN, escaped this mortal realm on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018, leaving behind 32 jars of Miracle Whip, 17 boxes of Hamburger Helper and multitudes of other random items that would prove helpful in the event of a zombie apocalypse.”

“Terry died knowing that The Blues Brothers was the best movie ever, (young) Clint Eastwood was the baddest-ass man on the planet, and hot sauce can be added to absolutely any food.”

Bruce Harrison, R.I.P.

The genealogy world has lost another of our prolific authors and publishers. Bruce Harrison passed away several months ago although I only learned of his passing this week.

Along with Kristine, his wife and business partner, Bruce Harrison was the founder of Millisecond Publishing Company. He was the indefatigable developer of the Family Forest CDs, a collection of family histories of celebrities, politicians, historical figures, etc.

He and Kristine published detailed family connections of notable people throughout history and up to modern times. Many genealogists discovered their family connections to kings, queens, presidents, athletes, and to Hollywood movie stars, thanks to the products produced by the Harrisons. The products obviously were a labor of love for the Harrisons.

Eric Shoup Appointed As CEO of Peerspace

Many people in the genealogy businesses know Eric Shoup. He spent six years leading Ancestry’s product team as Chief Product Officer. His friends and former co-workers will be interested to learn that Eric has a new position: CEO of Peerspace, a company that helps businesses to rent out their location or office to other businesses or individuals.

According to Peerspace’s announcement: “Shoup joins Peerspace with over twenty years of experience building products and growing tech businesses. Most recently, Shoup served as COO of Scribd and previously spent six years leading Ancestry’s product team as Chief Product Officer. Prior to that, he spent five years at eBay, where he had responsibility for several of eBay’s marketplace products.”

Mary Ann Schulz, R.I.P.

UPDATE: An article describing the life of Mary Ann Schulz may be found at:

A genealogist, Mary Ann Schulz, and three other people were murdered on New Year’s Eve by a deranged New Jersey teen-ager with an assault rifle.

According to her obituary, “Not only was Mary Ann our family historian, she shared her expertise and passion for genealogy with anyone and everyone. She served on the Executive Board for the Monmouth County Genealogy Society, and was actively involved in the German Special Interest and Memoirs Groups, and Publicity Committee. Mary Ann co-founded the African-American Special Interest Group and worked tirelessly on the area’s cemetery restoration projects.”