Former Findmypast CEO, Elaine Van Der Berg, Moves to Amazon Web Services

Elaine Van Der Berg is well-known in the genealogy community as the former CEO of Findmypast. Her friends and acquaintances will be interested to know that she has a new position at Amazon Web Services in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her new role involves assisting European public sector clients.

Elaine has had an international career with Dell, and other technology companies, before returning to Scotland to work as managing director of G2G3, part of Capita, and then at Brightsolid.

The National Genealogical Society Welcomes Nancy Peters and Allen Peterson as its New NGSQ Editors

The following announcement was written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

FALLS CHURCH, VA, 3 JANUARY 2019—The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has named Nancy A. Peters, CG®, CGLSM, and Allen R. Peterson, CG, as co-editors of its National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ). They take the reins of editorial responsibility for this prestigious publication from retiring editors Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, and Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG, FNGS.

“It is an honor to serve as co-editor of the NGSQ,” said Nancy Peters, of Aiken, South Carolina. Allen Peterson of Katy, Texas, concurred, noting, “The NGS Quarterly is among the most scholarly genealogical journals in the United States and in the world. Nancy and I are determined to maintain the high standards set by our predecessors.”

Heather Yvonne McLean of New Zealand awarded Queen’s Service Medal

Mrs. Heather Yvonne McLean has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to genealogy and historical research. According to the announcement:

Heather Yvonne McLean has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists since 1972 and has been an active member of the Society’s local groups in the Bay of Plenty, namely Tauranga, Te Puke and Katikati.

Mrs McLean’s key contribution has been the transcribing of headstones in the cemeteries of the Bay of Plenty over the course of 30 years for the benefit of family historians and researchers. She has volunteered two days a week with the Tauranga Family History Library since its inception in 1993 and volunteers every Wednesday at Tauranga City’s Cemetery Records office collating death and cremation notices.

NEHGS Provides a Look at Famous Relatives of George H. W. Bush

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

As Tributes Pour in Celebrating the Life of the 41st President, Genealogists at New England Historic Genealogical Society Provide a Look at Famous Relatives of George H. W. Bush

Boston, Massachusetts—December 5, 2018—As tributes pour in following the death of George Herbert Walker Bush, genealogists at New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), who have long studied the ancestry of all U S presidents, shed light on the extensive family background of the beloved 41st U S President. The world- renowned genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts, NEHGS Senior Research Scholar Emeritus, has documented the family history of the late President Bush extensively:

The Missing Mayflower Pilgrim

Tamura Jones is an Englishman living in Leiden, the city in the Netherlands where the Pilgrims lived from 1608 until 1620, before crossing the Atlantic and creating a new settlement called Plimoth Plantation (usually spelled “Plymouth” these days). As the saying goes, “the rest is history.” Today, millions of Americans and people in numerous other countries count themselves among the descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Not all the Pilgrims’ family trees have been well researched and published. For instance, Tamura Jones has been researching Pilgrim Moses Fletcher’s descendants for ten years. Tamura has now published an overview of his findings, although not all the details. At least, he hasn’t published all the details just yet. The research is not finished and ready for publication today. However, he lists a Twitter account at @LeidenPilgrims to monitor to learn about future research developments and the future publication of his final report.

His overview focuses on Pilgrim Moses Fletcher but also mentions a number of other Mayflower passengers. As he wrote in the report:

A Different kind of Obituary: Madelyn Linsenmeir, 1988-2018

I have published a number of humorous obituaries over the years. However, a newsletter reader sent an obituary to me today that isn’t humorous, but sad. Nonetheless, I will suggest that everyone, genealogists and non-genealogists alike, should read this one.

Yes, it is sad. It is also important in these times in which we live. Please forward it to anyone and everyone that you love and perhaps you are concerned about their lifestyles.

The obituary for 30-year-old Madelyn Linsenmeir may be found at:

A Very Unusual Obituary

I have a “hobby” of collecting humorous obituaries and have published several of them here in past newsletters. However, the obituary of 71-year-old Rick Stein of Wilmington, Delaware, is a new one for me. It is different from the other obituaries in many ways.

I won’t spoil it here but I will say that if you want to read a most unusual obituary, go to

Disclaimer: It is long but is well worth the read.

Texas Tech Archivist and Historian Monte Monroe appointed Texas State Historian

Monte Monroe

Monte Monroe, archivist at the Southwest Collection and a history professor at Texas Tech, has been named the Texas State Historian.

Monroe was appointed to the position by Gov. Greg Abbott, and he was sworn in as the state’s fourth historian this week. He’s the first state historian from West Texas, the first archivist in the position, and the first from a major public university. It’s these unique traits that Monroe says will give the state a new perspective.

You can read a lot more about Monroe’s appointment and his statements regarding the preservation of Texas’ historical documents in an article by Matt Dotray in the Lubbock Online web site at:

Clan Buchanan Gets Its First Chief in 337 Years, after a Genealogist Keeps Promise to Find the Rightful Heir

For centuries, millions of men and women around the world have waited patiently for the rightful chief of their ancient Scottish clan to be found. But for the last 337 years no one has been able to verify a claim to the title for the Clan Buchanan. That was until a genealogist promised his grandmother he would solve the mystery before he died.

John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan, 60, who owns Cambusmore Estate near Callander, has been accepted as head of the clan thanks to the work of genealogist Hugh Peskett.

You can read the full story in an article by Francesca Marshall in The Telegraph at as well as in the official Clan Buchanan web site at:

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

Cyndi Ingle Honored with the Prestigious Prince Michael of Kent Award

The Society of Genealogist’s former patron was Prince Michael of Kent, after whom the Society has named a prestigious award (created in 2000). The award is granted periodically to a person or organization which has made an outstanding contribution to genealogy. The latest recipient of this honor is Cyndi Ingle, well known for he Cyndi’s List web site, one of THE go-to-places for genealogy.

Amelia Bennett (on the left) presents the Prince Michael of Kent Award to Cyndi Ingle (right).

The presentation of the award on 12 September 2018 was made on board the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship by Amelia Bennett, a trustee of the Society of Genealogists, in front of a large group of genealogists on a cruise to Alaska.

Obituary for Laura G. Prescott

A few days ago, I published a message (at from the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) announcing the passing of long-time APG member and former president, Laura Prescott. Many of her friends and acquaintances might also want to read the more formal obituary, apparently written by her family, that is now available at:

Russ Henderson, R.I.P.

Russell L. Henderson

The National Genealogical Society has received word that Russell L. Henderson, former Director of Communications for the Society, passed away on August 26, 2018 at his home in Alexandria. He was born on December 2, 1942 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to Blair and Sara Henderson.

Russ was raised in a military family and he followed in his family’s tradition with a military career of his own. He retired as a US Army Colonel after 27 years of service in Korea; Vietnam; Naples, Italy; Heidelberg, Germany; and various locations stateside.

A portion of Russ’ education was in England and he traveled through Scotland several times, often researching his Scottish heritage. He was a founding member and Editor of An Canach, the quarterly newsletter of the Scottish Clan Henderson Society of the United States and Canada. He was a familiar face at many genealogy conferences.

You can read Russ Henderson’s obituary at:

Laura Prescott, R.I.P.

It is with great sadness that I report the news about a long-time friend and former co-worker: Laura Prescott. She was one of the smartest and most delightful people I ever knew. She was enthusiastic about everything she did and nearly everyone she ever met. She was an expert genealogist, an educator, a past president of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and an all-around nice person. Laura was most recently the director of’s Ancestry Academy. She also was mentioned frequently in this newsletter over the years.

Laura’s humility, integrity, and hard work will continue to inspire those who knew her for many years to come.

The following was written by the Association of Professional Genealogists:

Wheat Ridge, Colo., 30 August 2018 – The Association of Professional Genealogists is saddened to learn of the death, on 26 August 2018, of Laura G. Prescott. APG extends condolences to Laura’s family and many friends on her passing, especially to her two adult children, Kate Duffy Tarvainen and Nate Duffy, of whom she was so proud, and her granddaughter, Margaret Tarvainen, who brought her such joy.

Dr Brian Trainor, R.I.P.

The following sad announcement was written by the Ulster Historical Foundation:

We are sorry to have to bring you the sad news of the death at the age of 90 of our esteemed colleague Dr Brian Trainor, Emeritus Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation.

Dr Trainor’s funeral will be on Tuesday, 28 August. More details can be found here

The office will be closed on that day and also on Monday, 27 August for the Bank Holiday.

We express our deepest sympathies to his family at this time.

FamilySearch CGO David Rencher is Named the New Family History Library Director

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

David Rencher, FamilySearch CGO, New Family History Library DirectorSalt Lake City, Utah (22 August 2018), FamilySearch International announced today that David Rencher, AG©, CG, FIGRS, is the new director of the popular Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. He succeeds Diane Loosle, who is fulfilling other leadership needs. Rencher will continue to serve as FamilySearch’s Chief Genealogy Officer. The library is open to the public free of charge

This is not Rencher’s first time at the helm of the Family History Library, which opened at its current location in 1985 and serves hundreds of thousands of guests yearly. He was the director from 1999 to 2002. Interestingly, Rencher’s career in family history started 40 years ago as an Irish reference consultant at the library. His return to the library at this time allows the previous library director, Diane Loosle, to fill a growing need in FamilySearch business development, where the two will work together.

George G. Morgan Joins the Writing Team at The In-Depth Genealogist

The following announcement was written by the folks at The In-Depth Genealogist at


The In-Depth Genealogist is pleased to announce a new contributor to the monthly digital magazine, Going In-Depth. George G. Morgan of The Genealogy Guys Podcast has joined the writing team and will be sharing his expertise in a column called Genealogy, by George.

George G. Morgan is president of Aha! Seminars, Inc., and an internationally recognized genealogy expert who presents in the U.S., Canada, England, on cruise ships, and though webinars. He is the co-host of the longest running genealogical podcast, The Genealogy GuysSM Podcast, with thousands of listeners around the globe. His company also produces the Genealogy Connection podcast, and The Genealogy Guys Blog.

In the Future, You Might Live Forever Online

Gregg Pascal Zachary is a professor of practice in Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation. He is now talking about what you might leave behind forever, after your death. For better or for worse, everything you post online as well as everything that others post online about you might be collected in one place to represent you, forever.

Considering the drop in price of data storage hardware in the past few decades and assuming that trend continues for a long time, we can assume that every scrap of information about you can be preserved in the future for approximately the price of a postage stamp.

In an interview published in the ASUnow web site, Zachary says:

Announcing the Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship

The following announcement was written by the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (affectionally known as “SLIG”):

In recognition of the professional accomplishments of our friend and colleague, Laura G. Prescott, and her contributions to the area of education in genealogy, a scholarship for tuition to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) has been established. The scholarship will be funded through tax-deductible donations.

Laura is known throughout the genealogical community for her passion for genealogical education in the areas of teaching, writing, research, and more. She worked for the New England Historic Genealogical Society for seven years before starting her own research business, was a lecturer at conferences, seminars, and workshops at all levels, and has written articles on a wide range of genealogical topics for the field’s journals. She served as president of the Association of Professional Genealogists and was director of Ancestry Academy, Ancestry’s collection of educational webinars presented by leading genealogical educators.

US Census Bureau Director Nominated

The following announcement was written by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, Inc. (IAJGS) Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

This is a critical time for the US Census Bureau. They have been without a permanent director for a year and there is much consternation about issues revolving around the 2020 census regarding adequate funding, potential undercounting of certain groups, and especially the added question regarding citizenship which was added at the request of the Department of Justice. Several lawsuits are pending regarding the citizenship question.

On July 18 Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the Permanent Census Bureau Leadership team. The White House announced their intent to nominate Dr. Steven Dillingham to be the Director of the US Census Bureau. Dr. Dillingham currently serves the Director of the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning for the Peace Corps.

Another Humorous Obituary

“Michael James Sweetack was born in Fond du Lac Wisconsin on May 27th, 1974 to Stanley and Debra Sweetack.

“He died on July 5th, 2018, leaving behind 8 packets of Szechuan sauce, a whole lot of debt, one 10 euro note, and other various things that could very possibly be used to make concentrated dark matter, the fuel for accelerated space travel- regardless of the issue with relativity.

“He was preceded in the death by approximately 101 billion other people and…”

There’s more. You can read the entire obituary at