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The History of Groundhog Day

groundhogEvery February 2nd, residents of the United States turn their attention to the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A group of men in top hats put a groundhog on a log in front of hundreds of people and wait for it to notice or not notice its own shadow. If Phil the groundhog sees his shadow, we’re supposed to have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see it, winter is supposed to end earlier.

NOTE: A groundhog is also known as a woodchuck. It is a member of the family of rodents known as marmots.

A rodent in Pennsylvania, watched by men in top hats, can tell what the weather will be like for the next several weeks? Sounds strange to me! Actually, it is based upon the traditions of some of our ancestors.

The Great Molasses Flood of January 15, 1919

Today is the 100th anniversary of one of the biggest twentieth-century disasters in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Genealogists normally like to study the current events of the times in which our ancestors lived. Wars are easy to study as they are well documented in history books. Yet other calamities of bygone times are often not so well known and documented.

One great disaster in the early twentieth century was the great Molasses Flood of January 15, 1919, in Boston, Massachusetts. This sounds humorous until one reads that 21 people died when an eight-foot high wall of molasses rolled down Commercial Street at a rather high speed. Two million gallons of crude molasses can move quickly when warmed by the sun. The result was an explosion heard many miles away.

Boston Post of January 16, 1919

More than 144,700 Worcestershire Baptism Records added to TheGenealogist and a Further 20,000 Individuals on Headstones

The following announcement was written by the folks at TheGenealogist:

TheGenealogist is releasing the records of 144,793 individuals added to their Worcestershire Baptisms (in Partnership with Malvern FHS) and an additional 20,000 individuals on headstones from the UKIndexer project where volunteers help their fellow genealogists by indexing and/or photographing the monumental inscriptions in churchyards and cemeteries.

  • Discover dates of ancestors’ baptisms
  • Glean names of parents of those baptised in Worcestershire
  • Headstones give dates and name details of those buried and sometimes familiar relationships
  • Memorials can reveal information not recorded elsewhere for ancestors

St. Giles – Imber

Information About Family Members is Available Wherever You Find It

There is one recent heartwarming story about two brothers who unexpectedly were told about a YouTube video of their father, filmed in 1952 and then converted to a digital video much later. It provided an insight to their father’s life several years before the births of the brothers.

There’s no genealogy information in the video for you or me but it does show a wonderful gift to the two brothers. It also teaches all genealogists to keep looking for information about relatives in the most unusual places.

A Day at the Genealogy Library

Copyright by Dave Carpenter and CartoonCollections. Please do not republish elsewhere. Published in eogn.com with the permission of the copyright holders.

You Can’t Call the Mormons “Mormons” Anymore

The Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The president of the Mormon church reiterated Sunday that he wants members, the media and others to use the faith’s full name, saying nicknames are “a major victory for Satan.” Addressing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ twice-yearly conference in Salt Lake City, Russell M. Nelson said the church’s name “is not negotiable.”

The name of the religion based in Salt Lake City is now officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All future references to the church, including its millions of genealogy records and its genealogy library in Salt Lake City, should use the full name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

ISFHWE Excellence-In-Writing Competition Winners Announced

The following announcement was written by the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE):

The International Society of Family History Writers and Editors is proud to announce the winners of the Excellence-in-Writing Competition. All entries were exceptional this year. Submission details for 2019 will be announced soon. For any questions on the competition, email competition@isfhwe.org.

Please note there were not many submissions this year; some categories are not even represented. We hope next year you will consider submitting and showcasing your writing skills.

Category 2 – Articles

Korean War 65th Anniversary Commemoration aboard USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum

The following announcement was written by the USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum:

ALAMEDA, CA – The USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum is honored to host a commemoration marking the 65th anniversary of the end of the Korean War on Saturday, July 28, from 11 a.m. to noon. This event will include a slide presentation, a variety of guest speakers, and recognition of those who served in Korea.

The Museum opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. General admission applies, free admission for veterans and Museum members.

Happy Canada Day!

This video from Canadian Heritage seems most appropriate this weekend.

Happy Birthday Canada!

(US) National Archives Publishes FOIA Advisory Committee Report

The following is a message sent by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies’ Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

US Archivist David S. Ferriero announced the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee completed its final report and recommendations. The report may be read at https://www.archives.gov/files/final-report-and-recommendations-of-2016-2018-foia-advisory-committee.pdf. The committee took 2-years to complete its work. While there were government officials, FOIA government officers, lawyers, history professors, and consumer advocates there were no genealogists on the committee.

Some of the issues the recommendations are directed at include: promoting the proactive disclosure of records, improving agencies’ ability to identify responsive digital records, and reinforcing that FOIA is everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of full-time FOIA professionals.

TheGenealogist adds more records to its new 1921 census substitute

The following announcement was written by TheGenealogist:

With the 1921 census still some years away from public release, TheGenealogist has added to its 1921 census substitute. This resource covers a large number of county directories which have been transcribed to produce a searchable resource. This appears under Census Records as the 1921 Census Substitute on TheGenealogist and they encompass a period currently not served by a published census. With this release the total records are boosted to 1.75 million heads of household.

Tomorrow is World Backup Day

I have written many times about the need for genealogists and most everyone else to make frequent backups of their important data, pictures, and videos. (See http://bit.ly/2pQTv6o for some of my past articles about the needs for backups.) Therefore, I will call your attention to the fact that April 1 (no fooling!) is World Backup Day.

Whatever else you may be reflecting on this weekend, take a moment to think about what you would do if you suddenly lost your genealogy data due to a software bug, malware, theft, fire, flood, or even (yes, it happens!) human error. Instead of storing it all in one place (like your computer), you keep another copy of everything somewhere safe.

Call for Proposals Deadline Extended for NGS 2019 Family History Conference

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

FALLS CHURCH, VA, 26 March 2018—NGS has extended the submission deadline for speakers—as well as organizations interested in sponsoring lectures—to submit lecture proposals for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2019 Family History Conference. All proposals must be submitted electronically at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/call_for_proposals 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday, 6 April 2018.

The conference, Journey of Discovery, will be held in St. Charles, Missouri, 8-11 May 2019. Typically, this annual conference attracts between 1,800 to 2,000 family historians and genealogists as well as more than eighty exhibitors and sponsors. NGS promotes its conferences nationally and in regional markets as well as through online social media.

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

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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