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  • 29 Oct 2020 7:45 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:


    The original All Souls Day — which eventually morphed into Halloween — is celebrated in many traditional Christian societies as a day to honor the memories of one’s ancestors. What better way to honor your ancestors than to learn more details about their lives and discover their stories?

    That’s why we’re opening all our death-related historical record collections — death, burial, cemetery, and obituary records — up to the public for free access during Halloween weekend, from October 29 to November 2!

    Search the free records now

    Death, burial, cemetery, and obituary records are key resources for family history information. Death certificates are typically issued within days of a death and can contain many details about a person’s life, such as their age at death, place of birth, parents’ names and origins, and the cause of death. The name of the person who provided these details may also be mentioned, and this can also be an important clue that can help you locate new relatives.

    Burial and cemetery records can supplement death certificates and offer additional information, while obituaries may provide rich details about the person’s life: their interests, profession, passions, and connections in the community.

    MyHeritage offers 153 collections in this category, containing 548,923,579 records in all. Normally, most of these collections are free to search, but require a paid MyHeritage plan to view fully and save the information to your family tree. But during this limited-time offer, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all the records in these collections absolutely free.

    This is a perfect opportunity for everyone to access and enjoy these records! So dive right in and see what you can learn about your ancestors.

    Search the death, burial, cemetery, and obituary records now

  • 29 Oct 2020 11:05 AM | Anonymous

    The Halloween season is perhaps the best time to reflect upon the injustices suffered by our ancestors. For instance, take the witchcraft hysteria of Hartford, in what is now called Connecticut.

    Yes, this was in 1642, 45 years before the infamous witch trials a bit further north in Salem, Massachusetts. According to Wikipedia.org, the Connecticut Witch Trials, also sometimes referred to as the Hartford witch trials, occurred from 1647 to 1663. The exact number of witchcraft trials is unknown but a total of 37 total cases have been documented, 11 of which resulted in executions. The execution of Alse Young of Windsor in the spring of 1647 was the beginning of the witch panic in the area, which would not come to an end until 1670 with the release of Katherine Harrison.


    Some of the better-known victims included:

    Alse Young probably was the first person executed for witchcraft not only in Connecticut, but likely in the whole of the American colonies. On May 26, 1647, she was executed in Hartford.

    Mary Johnson was the first recorded confession of witchcraft. She worked as a house servant and was accused of theft in 1648. After extensive torture and interrogation, Johnson confessed to "familiarity with the devil". She also confessed to having sexual relations with "men and devils" and to murdering a child. Her execution was delayed as she was pregnant during her imprisonment in Hartford. Johnson was executed June 6, 1650.

    Katherine Harrison was a former maidservant of Captain John Cullick and the widow of Wethersfield's town crier.She became a wealthy citizen of Wethersfield, Connecticut after she inherited her husband's estate, worth one thousand pounds. Between 1668 and 1669, Harrison was accused of witchcraft. The accusations against her included breaking the Sabbath, fortune telling and using black magic, as well as appearing in spectral form to people. Harrison's trial faced many complications: the first jury never reached a decision, and the second found her guilty, but the magistrates disagreed as most of the evidence was spectral, which relied solely on the accuser.In May of 1670, Harrison was released from prison, and banished from the Connecticut colony; she and her family relocated to New York.

    You can read a lot more about the Connecticut Witch Trials online, including in Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_Witch_Trials. If you are interested in the details of these witch trials, start with the lengthy list of citations at the end of the Wikipedia article.


  • 29 Oct 2020 10:46 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

    The FamilySearch Family History Library's November 2020 line-up of free webinars feature Latin Handwriting Seminars (five sessions), classes emphasizing Scottish researchSwedish Genealogy, and Norwegian Emigration, a Spanish language seminar, "Registros Migratorios"  (Migratory Records), and Quebec Notarial Records. Other beginner classes include using the FamilySearch Catalog, and Family Search Mobile apps.

    No registration is required for these online webinars. See the table of classes below for more details.

    If you cannot attend a live event, most sessions are recorded and can be viewed later at your convenience at Family History Library classes and webinars

    All class times are in Mountain Daylight Time (MDT).

    DATE/TIME CLASS WEBINAR
    Mon, Nov 2, 10:00 AM MST Using the FamilySearch Catalog (Beginner) Yes
    Tue, Nov 3, 10:00 AM MST Using the FamilySearch Mobile Apps (Beginner) Yes
    Thu, Nov 5, 3:00 PM MST Swedish Genealogy Files: Mystery of the Unknown Father in 1800 (Intermediate) Yes
    Mon, Nov 9, 10:00 AM MST Latin Handwriting Seminar, Day 1 (Intermediate) Yes
    Tue, Nov 10, 10:00 AM MST Latin Handwriting Seminar, Day 2 (Intermediate) Yes
    Wed, Nov 11, 10:00 AM MST Latin Handwriting Seminar, Day 3 (Intermediate) Yes
    Thu, Nov 12, 10:00 AM MST Latin Handwriting Seminar, Day 4 (Intermediate) Yes
    Fri, Nov 13, 10:00 AM MST Latin Handwriting Seminar, Day 5 (Intermediate) Yes
    Fri, Nov 13, 2:00 PM MST Sjeleregister (Index of Literacy and Religion) for Norway (Intermediate) Yes
    Mon, Nov 16, 1:00 PM MST Skimming the Surface: A Look Into Quebec Notarial Records (Intermediate) Yes
    Tue, Nov 17, 11:00 AM MST Registros Migratorios (Migratory Records in Spanish) (Beginner) Yes
    Fri, Nov 20, 2:00 PM MST Pre-1867 Emigration for Norway (Intermediate) Yes
    Mon, Nov 30, 8:30 AM MST Using the Wiki and Scotlands People for Scots Research (Beginner) Yes
    Mon, Nov 30, 10:00 AM MST Scotland’s ‘Lost’: Researching Non-Church of Scotland Ancestry (Beginner) Yes
    Mon, Nov 30, 11:30 AM MST Och Aye! Understanding Scottish Words and Phrases (Beginner) Yes
    Mon, Nov 30, 1:00 PM MST Scotland Probate Records (Beginner) Yes

    Visit our website for more Classes and Online Webinars.


    About FamilySearch

    FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • 29 Oct 2020 9:39 AM | Anonymous

    Nate Berg has published an article in the Fast Company web site that will interest many genealogists. He describes his latest project as a virtual reality trip through your home town 200 years ago. However, if it was me, I'd be more interested in seeing my ancestors' home towns of 200 years ago.

    Old fire insurance maps of several major U.S. cities have already been converted to virtual reality. The map, called “rǝ,” is a project Raimondas Kiveris has led through his research into artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google. Though still in a very early form, the map is functional enough to offer a glimpse of what someone would have seen on a city street decades in the past.

    The map was created using historical fire insurance maps, a rich source of information for the built environment that includes precise information about building ages, sizes, heights, roof shapes, and even materials. The map creates simplified 3D models of these buildings, and the time slider allows a user to see, for example, Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle nearly devoid of buildings in the 1870s and almost fully developed in the 1920s.

    Eventually, with enough visual data contributed, Kiveris says the map will be able to create lifelike representations of entire neighborhoods that could be good enough to use as the setting for video games or even movies. “If it’s not possible today, it will be possible in five years,” he says.

    You can read a lot more about this project at: https://bit.ly/34BCxxy.

  • 29 Oct 2020 9:22 AM | Anonymous

    Do you or someone you know have lots of files saved on floppy disks? A lady contacted me recently and asked how she could read her old floppy disks that she had saved from many years ago. It seems her present computer does not have a floppy disk drive in it. I suggested she do something NOW to save the disks. Before long, floppy disks will be about as useful as buggy whips.

    Actually, there are THREE separate problems:

    The first problem is that floppy disks were never designed for long-term storage for years and years. The manufacturers usually stated ten to twenty years' life expectancy for floppies if they were stored in ideal conditions. A typical residence isn't ideal.

    In addition, floppy disks have always been highly sensitive to dust, condensation and temperature extremes. As with any magnetic storage, it is also vulnerable to magnetic fields. If the disk isn't stored in optimum conditions, the data will disappear because of these vulnerabilities. In many cases, data will disappear from floppies in much less than ten years.

    The second problem is the one my correspondent mentioned: she no longer owns a floppy disk drive. In fact, most manufacturers stopped including floppy disk drives on new computers years ago. Luckily, you can still purchase external, “plug-in” floppy disk drives today although they are becoming rare.

    If possible, see if someone you know owns an older computer that includes both a floppy disk drive and some method of copying information from floppy disks to some other media. Possibilities are to transfer across a network, transfer on the Internet, copy to a flash drive, or maybe to "burn" to a CD-ROM.

    If you cannot find an older computer, you can purchase an external USB floppy drive that plugs into the USB port of most any modern Windows or Macintosh computer. The drives typically cost $10 to perhaps $30. You can see a selection of USB 3 1/2-inch floppy disk drives for sale today at https://duckduckgo.com/?q=floppy+disk+drive.

    If you have an even older 5-1/4-inch floppy, your search will be more difficult. Very few of the older disk drives were ever manufactured with a USB connection. However, if you are willing to open the computer and bolt in an internal floppy drive, you might still be able to find a few on eBay.

    The third, and possibly the biggest, problem of all is the information stored on the disk. Even if the data has not disappeared, and even if you can copy the files to more modern media, can you find a program today that will read the files created by a program ten or twenty years ago? For instance, if you have files created by Roots 3 (a popular genealogy program of the 1980s), you will have difficulty finding any program today that will read information stored in that old format. To my knowledge, Roots 3 files can only be read by Roots 3 or later versions of the same program. Unfortunately, no program today can read Roots 3 files. The same is true for data saved in old versions of Personal Ancestral File, Family Tree Maker, or genealogy programs that have since disappeared from the marketplace, such as The Family Edge or Generations Grande Suite.

    My advice:

    1. Copy the files NOW! Whatever is stored on a floppy disk may disappear at any time. Save it while you can. Copy the files to modern media.

    2. Attempt to open the files with a modern word processor or genealogy program or even a simple ASCII file viewer, such as Windows Notepad. If you are lucky, you may be able to read the information.

    3. If you cannot read the files, post messages on online forums asking for assistance from anyone who still has an old computer with the old software installed. For instance, if you find someone who still has Roots3 installed on a computer someplace (and if they also have the optional Roots 3 program that creates GEDCOM files), they could import your data and then export it in GEDCOM format. The information then can be read by any modern genealogy program.

    Whatever you do, don't get trapped in the obsolescence problems again. Copy your data often to whatever new media has recently become available.

  • 29 Oct 2020 9:09 AM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

    I recently received an email message from a reader of this newsletter in which she bemoaned the quality of genealogy information found on the Internet. She went on at some length to say that the information found online is full of inaccuracies, is posted by people who don't know what they are doing, and that "all genealogy information found on the Internet should never be trusted."

    I was sympathetic to what she wrote until that last part. NEVER be trusted?

    I will be the first to agree that there is a lot of inaccurate SECONDARY information on the Internet. But let's not overlook the fact that the Internet also brings us images of ORIGINAL source records as well.

    Want to see the record of your great-great-grandparents in the U.S. Census? Click with your mouse and look at the IMAGE of the original entry without leaving your home. Want to see a naturalization record? IMAGES of many of them are available online. Would you like to see granddad's World War I Draft registration form that lists information about parents? The IMAGE of the original document is available online. Want to see an obituary? Several online services provide IMAGES of the newspaper obituaries. And how about the Southern Claims records, many of which were never available before on microfilm? IMAGES of each record are now available online.

    Yes, the Internet certainly is a mix of good and bad news, but let's not condemn everything. Looking at images of original source records on the Internet makes us better genealogists than those of us who used to be limited only to transcribed (secondary) sources. We have much more information available today than ever before. Some of it is good information, such as IMAGES of original records. Other information found online is questionable, such as secondary information contributed by someone else. Let's not condemn everything simply because some of it is bad.

    We do have an education problem. We need to educate newcomers as to what information is immediately believable versus what information requires independent verification. This education process must be active on all genealogy sites, including this one, and must continue forever as new genealogists join us. However, I will suggest that this requirement for education should not stop us from looking at images of original records.

    There is an old saying that pops to mind, something having to do with babies and bathwater.

    Looking forward ten or twenty years, I suspect that eventually all of us will focus primarily on images of original records, as found on the Internet. As millions and millions of additional images come online, the references we all enjoy will continue to improve. I see that as a great advance in genealogy scholarship.

  • 29 Oct 2020 8:31 AM | Anonymous

    Arielle Pardes has posted an article that perhaps none of us want to think about but perhaps we all should consider the options.

    "A startup called Memories lets you record videos to be sent posthumously—one of many companies seeking to give you more control over your ending.

    "Midway through his thirties, Tom Ainsworth realized he was going to die. Of course, he always knew. Death comes for all of us—those are the rules. But when his own father passed away, in 2011, and then his close friend a few years later, it suddenly hit him over the head like a cartoon anvil. One day he, too, would leave everything he loved behind. Not right away. Or, maybe right away. Who could know? He had to start preparing.

    "In 2014, Ainsworth created a memorial page for his dad on Skymorials, a sort of digital cemetery. “I was one of the first users ever,” Ainsworth says. Now, he’s the CEO. The company, based in Melbourne, Australian, has since rebranded as Memories; its users go there to mourn loved ones on digital memorial pages and offer condolences with things like virtual flowers. (Ainsworth wasn’t sure people would pay money for that until he saw his kids spending egregiously on new Fortnite skins.) Memories also hosts digital “vaults” for living people to store things like precious photos, videos, and life stories, which can be shared after their passing. Kind of like Dropbox but for the dead."

    Think about it. What do YOU want for your end-of-life? You can read the full article at: https://www.wired.com/story/death-startups-memories.


  • 29 Oct 2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous
    The following announcement was written by Ancestry.com:

    Ancestry®️ has been the leader in family history for more than 30 years, developing innovative research tools and adding new content to our unparalleled historical record collections that enable people around the world to discover more about their family’s past. Today, Ancestry is excited to launch the first phase of the Newspapers.com™ Marriage Index collection, powered by cutting-edge technology. We trained machine learning algorithms to comb through more than 600 million pages of digitized newspapers to extract and identify key names, relationships and other facts from marriage and engagement announcements in historical newspapers via text classification. 

    Powering More Family History Discoveries

    The Newspapers.com Marriage Index collection adds to the world's largest, searchable digital archive of newspaper published historical wedding announcements. Since the early 1800s, newspapers across the country have been publishing rich information about engagements, marriage license applications, wedding announcements, and more. 

    In addition to the names of the couple, these records often provide rich details about family members, including ages, residence and parents’ names. By indexing these data and records in ways that would take humans a great deal of time, we are continuing to empower journeys of personal discovery, and our members can now easily search these indexes with just one click. 

    What You Can Find in the Index

    The first phase of this release contains information from over 200 million records from over 50 million lists and marriage announcements dating from 1800-1999. List marriage announcements were usually a weekly list of couples that had applied for a marriage license that week, and contain basic information about the couple. Non-list marriage announcements might include brief or detailed write-ups with more information about the wedding. We expect the remaining names from the lists and marriage records from 2000-present will be published on Ancestry in 2021. Over the next year, we anticipate completing the collection for a total of up to 300M marriage announcement records from newspapers on Newspapers.com.

    The first phase of the Newspapers.com Marriage Index is now available on Ancestry to all subscribers and the original marriage announcement articles and images are available on Newspapers.com. Members with a Newspapers.com Publisher Extra subscription have a 1-click option to view every full announcement on Newspapers.com. Some announcements may be accessed with just an Ancestry All Access or Newspapers.com Basic subscription. Certain newspapers require a Publisher Extra subscription as certain newspapers require additional licenses to view their content.

    How to Search for a Marriage Record in the Newspapers.com Marriage Index collection

    • First, from any page on Ancestry, click on the “Search” tab (located at the top of the page) and select “Card Catalog” from the drop-down menu.
    • Then, on the left side of the page under Filter By Category, click “Birth, Marriage & Death.” 
    • On the left side of the page under Filter by Category again, click “Marriage & Divorce.”
    • From the search results, click “Newspapers.com Marriage Index, 1800s-1999.” 
    • Begin your search by entering a name of someone who was married in 1999 or earlier.
    • Add any additional details you may have available about the individual, such as birth date, wedding date, gender, etc. Every detail increases the likelihood of finding the correct announcement.
    • Hit “Search” and review the records that appear.
    • If you find a record relevant to your family, hit “Save” and add the record to someone in your tree.  
    • Even if you’ve searched for family members in our marriage records collection before, we’re always adding more records to our site, and we encourage you to search again, as you may notice a new record waiting to be explored.

    The Newspapers.com Marriage Index collection is available now to help empower even more new family history discoveries. You can begin searching here.

  • 27 Oct 2020 11:26 AM | Anonymous

    Roberta Estes has been a professional scientist and business owner for many years. She also writes a blog that focuses heavily on DNA issues. Now she has written about some bad news from 23andMe. She writes:

    "Did you test with 23andMe prior to August 2017? If you were among the millions of customers who tested in the decade between 2007 and 2017, you tested on the V1-V4 chip.

    "Unfortunately, 23andMe has made the decision to no longer provide ethnicity updates for customers who have NOT tested on the current V5 chip.

    "Moving to the V5 chip is not an upgrade – it’s a completely new test that customers must purchase and spit-to-submit again. This means that if your family member that you purchased a test for died, you’re just out of luck. Too bad – so sad.

    "Last week, 23andMe published this article detailing their new ethnicity improvements. Everyone was excited, but then the article ended with this spoiler at the very bottom."


    You can read at lot more in Roberta Estes'  full article at: https://dna-explained.com/2020/10/26/more-losses-at-23andme-including-no-ethnicity-update-for-v2-v3-or-v4-chip-customers/.

  • 27 Oct 2020 11:13 AM | Anonymous

    The following was written by FamilySearch:

    Discover your heritage in the 1801 Census for Norway this week on FamilySearch, and new Indexes to Massachusetts Town Births, ca. 1630–1905 and Massachusetts Town Deaths, ca. 1640–1961, plus new records for Brazil, Canada, DR Congo, Ecuador, England, Germany, Peru, S. Africa, Venezuela, and other jurisdictions in the US (See Bureau of Land Management Tract Books 1800–ca. 1955, New Jersey Naturalization records from various countries 1905–1944, plus more records for AL, AZ, HI, IA, MS, TX, UT, VA, and WA).

    Search these new records and images by clicking on the collection links below, or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

    The full list is very long, too long to list here. You can find the latest list at: https://media.familysearch.org/new-free-historical-records-on-familysearch-week-of-26-october-2020/.

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