Where Old, Unreadable Documents go to be Understood

Where can you decipher that difficult-to-read document or letter found in your genealogy research? A transcriber on the Isle of Man can decipher almost anything.

According to an article by Sarah Laskow in the Atlas Obscura web site:

“On any given day, from her home on the Isle of Man, Linda Watson might be reading a handwritten letter from one Confederate soldier to another, or a list of convicts transported to Australia. Or perhaps she is reading a will, a brief from a long-forgotten legal case, an original Jane Austen manuscript. Whatever is in them, these documents made their way to her because they have one thing in common: They’re close to impossible to read.

On the Road Again

This is a quick notice to let you know there may not be as many articles as normal posted in this newsletter in the next few days. I am presently in a hotel room in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from now through the end of the week. I am attending the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. See http://bit.ly/2vZWqM0 and https://www.fgsconference.org for details about the conference.

I hope to write about the conference events that I see and attend. Stay tuned!

Ancestry Insider Is Shutting Down

Another blog bites the dust. (Or is it “bytes the dust?”) The Ancestry Insider blog provided an unofficial, unauthorized view of Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org for more than ten years. You can read the announcement at: http://www.ancestryinsider.org/2017/05/a-fond-farewell.html.

New Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

There are over 7.6 million new records available to search this Findmypast Friday, including;

United States Marriages

Over 6.7 million new additions covering 127 counties across 18 states have been added to our collection of United States Marriages. The release includes significant updates for the states of Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon and marks the latest step in Findmypast’s efforts to create the single largest online collection of U.S. marriage records in history.

The records include transcripts and images of the original documents that list marriage date, the names of the bride and groom, birthplace, birth date, age, residence as well as fathers’ and mothers’ names.

Devon, Parish Registers Browse

The EOGN Dinner after RootsTech


My personal highlight of RootsTech every year comes a couple of hours after the conference ends. I normally host a dinner for readers of this newsletter and their guests. This year was no exception. About 50 of us descended on the Radisson hotel’s banquet facilities and had an informal evening of conversation, food, and camaraderie. Some attendees also won door prizes, including books, subscriptions, genealogy software, a discount on a future genealogy cruise, and an iPod Touch.

I thought I would share a few photos taken at the dinner:

OldNews USA Wins Top Honors at RootsTech 2017 Innovator Showdown

This was a major contest this week with big prize money! The following was written by FamilySearch:

oldnews-usaOld news, it seems, is actually “new” news. Very innovative news in fact. Today at RootsTech, the world’s largest family history technology conference, OldNews USA took top honors in the 2017 Innovator Showdown, walking away with $95,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. OldNews is an android app designed to help users quickly discover their family in historical US newspapers. The app uses the Library of Congress “Chronicling America” collection of more than 11 million newspaper pages from 1789 to 1922 to deliver its results.

New Records Available to Search This Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

findmypast_logoOver 3.4 million new records are available to search this Findmypast Friday, including;


Rutland baptisms

Rutland baptisms contains over 140,000 records spanning the years 1538 to 1916. The records cover 50 parishes throughout the English county and will allow you to discover your ancestor’s baptism date, baptism place, parents’ names, and parish.

Rutland banns

There are over 24,600 banns records covering the county of Rutland in this collection. The records span from 1653 to the 1931, cover 49 parishes and will allow you to see if your ancestor was married via the ancient legal tradition of Banns.

Rutland marriages

American-French Genealogical Society inducts Four into Hall of Fame

The American-French Genealogical Society of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, held its 14th annual Hall of Fame Induction on Oct. 14, in its headquarters in the Franco American Center, 78 Earle St.

The four inductees honored this year were Paul Bourget of Woonsocket, businessman, author and Civil War Re-enactor; Lucie LeBlanc Cosentino, of Methuen, Mass., Acadian Genealogist and lecturer; Leslie Choquette, author and director of the French Institute at Assumption College of Worcester, Mass.; and Duke Robillard of Pawtucket, internationally-known blues guitarist.

National Genealogical Society Seeks Nominations for the 2017 National Genealogy Hall of Fame

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

At the NGS Conference in the States, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last May, the National Genealogy Hall of Fame welcomed Marsha Hoffman Rising, a well-known scholar, educator and author whose leadership enhanced and guided many genealogical institutions for which she served. She was nominated by the American Society of Genealogists and she became the thirty-first member to be so honored.

Would your society like to honor a genealogist whose unique, pioneering, or exemplary work lives on today? Perhaps there was a notable genealogist in your state or county whose name should be memorialized in the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.

Use a Zello Walkie-talkie at Genealogy Conferences

Zello-Push-to-TalkI performed a bit of an experiment this week. At the the FGS conference in Springfield, Illinois, a couple of my friends and I used the Zello (rhymes with “hello”) app on our iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows cell phones to keep in touch with each other. Of course, we could have simply called each other on the phone or sent text messages to each other, but using a walkie-talkie app offered several advantages.

Walkie-talkies are a perfect way to keep in touch with friends or to find friends who may be somewhere in the crowd or back at the hotel. I have experimented with several walkie-talkie apps and have settled on Zello as the one that works best for me.

Best of all, Zello is FREE for personal use. Yes, you probably already have a free walkie-talkie. Well, I guess technically it is not really free but rather is available at “no extra charge” as you have already paid for the phone. You probably will find other uses for Zello after you return home as well.

FGS Announces the Completion of Fundraising for Preserve the 1812 Pensions Project

The following announcement was written by the Federation of Genealogical Societies:

Springfield, IL –Today at its annual conference, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announced the receipt of a historic $500,000 anonymous contribution to the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions fundraising project. The unprecedented donation, which came from outside of the genealogical community, will be matched by Ancestry.com, and in total provide $1 million to the project. Those funds, along with crowdsourced funds from the genealogical community have provided more than $3 million dollars to the project. With these donations, FGS officially has announced the completion of fundraising for “Preserve the Pensions,” the landmark community fundraising project.

The largest fundraising effort ever initiated for a single genealogical record set, Preserve the Pensions involved donations from more than 4,000 individuals and 115 genealogical and lineage societies. Each donation was generously matched by Ancestry.com.

Board for Certification of Genealogists and Legacy Family Tree Webinars Form Webinar Partnership

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

The Board for Certification of Genealogists and Legacy Family Tree Webinars are excited to announce a new partnership. Legacy, host of the webinar series at FamilyTreeWebinars.com, will now also serve as host, producer, and publisher for future BCG webinars. This arrangement will produce and promote high-quality education in genealogy standards and methodologies by one of the leading creators of genealogy webinars.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars is a leader in the field of webinar production and management. BCG is excited to bring this level of technical quality and experience to its webinar series, which offers educational opportunities on topics of certification, genealogy standards, and methodologies.

Why Was the Information Removed from Online?

NOTE: This is a slightly updated version of an article I published about a year ago. A couple of newsletter readers have sent messages to me in the past few days expressing dissatisfaction with records that were available online but recently have disappeared. I am offering this republished article as an explanation about why we should not be surprised when that happens. I will also offer a suggestion as to making sure you keep your own copies of online records that are valuable to you.

Two newsletter readers sent email messages to me recently expressing dissatisfaction that a set of images of vital records has been removed from a popular genealogy site. Indeed, removal of any online records of genealogical value is sad, but not unusual. Changes such as these are quite common on FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, Fold3, FindMyPast, and many other genealogy sites that provide old records online. Removal of datasets has occurred dozens of times in the past, and I suspect such things will continue to happen in the future. I thought I would write a brief explanation.

Baby Boomers Recognition Day

If you are a baby boomer, August 17 is your day! Baby Boomers Recognition Day is being celebrated on August 17, 2016. It is a time of merriment, revelry and appreciation for the many contributions made by Boomers to our society.

Baby Boomers Recognition Day

According to the Baby Boomers Recognition Day web site at http://babyboomersrecognitionday.com/:

Do you remember those younger days when we danced, enjoyed life, and rocked the world? Everyone paid attention to us and what we were doing. Celebrating that fun-loving side of ourselves is what happens on the days leading up to August 17, 2016.

The Boomers Recognition Day Coalition is a voluntary network of Boomer sites, blogs and active individuals who are working together to promote this day of celebration and enjoyment of life by Boomers everywhere.

Call for APG Sponsored Lecture Proposals – 2017 FGS Conference in Pittsburgh, PA

The following announcement was written by the Association of Professional Genealogists:

APG_logoDEADLINE – Friday, 17 June 2016

APG will be sponsoring a lecture at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to be held August 30 through September 2, 2017.

We invite members to submit proposals for an advanced presentation that would be of interest to experienced genealogists. We are specifically seeking dynamic and innovative proposals that will provide an exceptional learning experience for both members and non-members of APG. It is preferred that this conference be the first time the presentation will be given at the national level.
We welcome and encourage newer speakers, but if you do not have a lot of speaking experience outside of your local area, we suggest you include a recommendation from a well-known genealogist or speaker who has heard one of your presentations, and/or a link to an online video or clip from a past presentation.

Call for APG Luncheon Lecture Proposals – FGS 2017

The following announcement was written by the Association of Professional Genealogists:

DEADLINE – Wednesday, 15 June 2016.

APG will be sponsoring a luncheon at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to be held August 30 – September 2, 2017.

On the Road Again

By the time you read these words, I should be in en route to Anchorage, Alaska, to be a tourist for a few days and then to make presentations at the Anchorage Genealogical Society meeting on Saturday, April 30.

As usual, I will be traveling with an iPad and a laptop computer along with other gadgets that should keep me in touch with the newsletter. Connectivity should not be a problem but available time is usually the biggest impediment. I suspect I will be busy from before daybreak until well into each evening so you probably will see fewer articles posted here than normal in the next few days. However, I do hope to post a few new articles in the midst of the travels.

If you are in or near Anchorage next Saturday, April 30, come join us at the Anchorage Genealogical Society meeting. See http://www.anchoragegenealogy.org/eventListings.php?nm=120 for details.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in Birmingham, England – Day 1

The opening day of Who Do You Think You Are? Live! turned out to be almost exactly as expected. The hallways and aisles were crowded with thousands of genealogists. I didn’t get a headcount for today but the rumor mill says that more genealogists purchased tickets in advance of this year’s conference than the number who did so last year.

I took a lot of pictures today. As I write these words, my camera is struggling to upload all the pictures to the eogn.com web site over a very, very slow wi-fi connection in the hotel. I don’t believe it will finish until after I fall asleep tonight. Maybe tomorrow…

Despite the picture I posted yesterday showing exhibit stands being built, everything looked 100% ready this morning when the doors opened at 9:30. That’s another thing I like about Who Do You Think You Are? Live!: the Brits have very civilized start times for their conferences. None of them start at 8 AM! As you might guess, I am not a “morning person.” 8 AM comes early, 9:30 is more manageable.

Findmypast and Federation Of Family History Societies Renew Online Partnership

The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast:

  • Findmypast and Federation of Family History Societies announce 10 year renewal of their exclusive partnership
  • Over 48 million records released in partnership since 2007Leading family history website Findmypast and the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) have today announced that their exclusive partnership has been renewed for a further 10 years.

Findmypast and FFHS originally joined forces in 2007. Since then, over 48 million FFHS records have been transferred to the Findmypast website to join a growing collection of over 8 billion records.

Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island Offers Video about Hebrew Naming and How to Read Hebrew Headstones

The following announcement was written by the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island:

JGSLI LogoThe Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island (JGSLI), winner of the IAJGS 2015 Outstanding Publication Award for its You Tube Channel, is pleased to announce its latest video, “How to Read a Hebrew Headstone.”

Hebrew headstones provide arguably Jewish genealogy’s most important advantage, patronymic names. This video will help you find this valuable information, whether you can read Hebrew or not. With all the difficulties we have with Jewish genealogical research; name changes, country and town name changes, missing or destroyed records, using patronymics is an advantage we should all be using.