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  • 26 Apr 2021 7:23 PM | Anonymous

    Today the U.S. Census Bureau released the first results of the 2020 U.S. Census. No, today's statistics will not tell you the names of your relatives nor any information about where anyone lived. You will have wait to wait another 72 years for that information. (I can hardly wait until the year 2092!)

    What today's report did reveal was the TOTAL number of U.S. residents counted, as specified by the U.S. Constitution. We are now 331 million strong! (The exact number is 331,449,184.)

    That 7.4% increase was the second-slowest ever recorded. Experts say that paltry pace reflects the combination of an aging population, slowing immigration and the scars of the Great Recession, which led many young adults to delay marriage and starting families.

    Today's report also delivered (1) analyses that compare the first census results to other ways of measuring the population, and (2) metrics that provide insight into the census operations.

    “Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, the completeness and accuracy of these first 2020 Census results are comparable with recent censuses,” said Census Bureau Acting Director Ron Jarmin. “We had numerous quality checks built into collecting the data, and we have conducted one of the most comprehensive reviews in recent census history during data processing. We are confident that today’s 2020 Census results meet our high data quality standards.”

    The census release marks the official beginning of the once-a-decade redistricting battles. The next few months should be interesting as our two largest political parties fight gerrymandering battles.  (See Wikipedia at for a rather detailed description of the creation and history of gerrymandering.)

    Today's numbers generally chart familiar American migration patterns but also confirm one historic marker: For the first time in 170 years of statehood, California is losing a congressional seat, a result of slowed migration to the nation’s most populous state, which was once a symbol of the country’s expansive frontier.

    One other factor in today's report caught my eye: Congressional seats. Texas was the biggest winner — the second-most populous state added two congressional seats, while Florida and North Carolina gained one. States losing seats included Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia

    If New York had counted 89 more residents, the state would have kept its seat and Minnesota would have lost one.

    You can learn a lot more at the 2020 Census: Operational Quality Metrics at:

  • 26 Apr 2021 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    The following is an extract from the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee mailing list and is republished here with permission:

    The Maryland Legislature passed HB 240 ( and is on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature.  The bill is entitled: Criminal Procedure- Forensic Genetic Genealogical DNA Analysis, Searching, Regulation and Oversight. Considering the margins by which it passed both chambers of the legislature it appears to be veto-proof: House of Delegates 136:1 and Senate by 40:0.

    Included in the legislation is the requirement that laboratories performing SNP or other sequencing tests must be licensed by October 1, 2022 and that genetic genealogists must be licensed by October 1, 2024.  It also stipulates that a laboratory using sequencing techniques using a direct-to-consumer or publicly available open data personal genomics database has to provide notice to its users and the public that law enforcement may use its service sites to investigate crimes or to identify unidentified human remains.

    The laboratories performing SNP or other sequenced-based testing and the genetic genealogist must be licensed by the Office of Health Care Quality.  Informed consent is required in writing and the person obtaining informed consent must have training from a bioethicist approved by the Office of Health Care Quality and the informed consent must be documented by video or audio recording.

    The bill also goes into detail about third-parties such as they are not the suspect in the investigation, how they were identified through a search of a direct-to-consumer or publicly-available open data personal genomics database as a potential relative and more. The bill also calls for destruction of the sample under specified circumstances. 

    The bill requires an annual report to the governor , the General Assembly and is publicly available by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. 

    Judy Russell’s excellent summary of the bill may be found at:

    Scroll down to below the National DNA graphic half-way down the page. 

    Note the bill ONLY addressed genealogists working with the police or on a police-related case.

    A similar bill was introduced in 2019 but did not get out of the Legislature.

    Jan Meisels Allen
    Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

  • 26 Apr 2021 9:49 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    From the Second World War to the house next door, there are endless potential discoveries on offer this Findmypast Friday.

    Here's everything you need to know about what's new this week at Findmypast.

    1939 Register

    Where were your relatives at the outbreak of the Second World War? Find out with a newly-opened tranche of over 95,000 records from 1939.

    Findmypast regularly open previously redacted 1939 Register entries making Findmypast's version the most up-to-date one available online.

    British Army, Royal Engineers 1900-1949

    The first phase of this new collection sees transcripts and images of over 92,000 tracer cards, mostly from World War 2, published online for the first time.

    Tracer cards track a soldier's movement within and between regiments. The records can reveal names, army numbers and dates of birth and enlistment, all useful detail for fleshing out your family tree

    Surnames from A-H are included in this first release. More records will be added over time. Combine this new collection with Royal Engineers Journals 1939-1945 to gain even more insight into this regiment's wartime exploits.

    British Army, Coldstream Guards 1800-1947 Image Browse

    Now available to browse page-by-page, delve into a range of different records to uncover details of those who served in this famous regiment.

    The collection includes:

      • Casualties 1939-1947
      • Courts Martials 1800-1815
      • Decorations and Rewards 1914-1918 and 1939-1948
      • Discharges 1884-1947
      • Enlistments 1884-1947
      • Missing in Action 1939-1945
      • Nominal Roll of 1st Battalion men serving in Sudan 1932-1933
      • Officers’ Record of Services 1861-1915
      • Shanghai Defence Force 1927-1928
      • South African Campaign 1899-1902
      • Succession Book of 2nd Battalion officers 1797-1926
      • Succession Book of Officers 1826-1936
      • Record of Campaigns 1854-1895

    As well as browsing through the records in this new addition, you can also pinpoint military ancestors in Findmypast’s searchable collection.


    Findmypast have released four brand new papers and added thousands of pages to seven existing titles. Fresh to the site are:

    While coverage has been expanded for:

  • 23 Apr 2021 6:50 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

    Communicating in the cemeteries??? No, I am not referring to communications with or amongst the “long-term residents” of a cemetery. Instead, I'm writing about communications for visitors to a cemetery. Namely, the genealogists who visit a cemetery looking for information about deceased relatives.

    When searching for tombstones of ancestors and other relatives, I generally try to visit a cemetery with a friend or two. We mentally divide the cemetery into sections, and then each person searches through his or her section alone. The other friends are doing the same in a different section. I have done this many times and suspect that you have, too. Having two or more people involved increases the enjoyment of the search as well as the safety of everyone involved.

    There are disadvantages, however. Upon discovering a particular tombstone, you may have to shout to the other person to make them aware of your discovery. In a large cemetery, the other person(s) may be some distance away, making shouting impractical.

    The need for communications may vary. Of course, you want to notify your friends if you find a tombstone for one of their relatives. However, there are many more serious needs for instant communications. If someone steps into a gopher hole and twists an ankle, he or she may not be able to walk for help. In some areas of the country, snakebite is a serious concern. Perhaps you want to ask everyone else a critical question, such as: “Does anyone else feel like taking a break and getting a burger?” Finally, a simple request for bug repellent could be serious in some situations. Whatever the need, you should have instant communications capabilities when you are in a cemetery and are separated from your friends.

    There is no perfect communications solution that I know of. However, with a bit of advance planning, you can select the solution that works best for you. In fact, there are at least three solutions. Two of them are closely related. I will call them Solution #1, Solution #2a, and Solution #2b.

    Solution #1 – Carry a Cell Phone

    Probably the simplest and most effective solution in most cases is for everyone in “the hunt” to carry a cell phone. After all, cell phones are so common today that almost everyone owns one of these tiny communications devices. For many cemeteries, each person simply carries a cell phone, and you can call each other at any time. Indeed, if this works for you, I'd suggest you and your friends exchange phone numbers before visiting the cemetery.

    The biggest disadvantage is that each cell phone user must be within range of a cell tower to work. If you are out of cell tower range, your cell phone becomes as useless as a brick; you can't even call anyone located 100 feet away. It would be more effective to yell at the other person. Cell phones can only talk through cell towers, not directly from one cell phone to another.

    Most all urban areas have great coverage by cell phones. However, there are numerous exceptions, especially in rural areas..

    Perhaps I should mention that cell phones don't work very well for many of the cemeteries where my ancestors are buried in rural cemeteries in northern Maine, far outside the range of cell towers. Sometimes, I think those ancestors planned it that way!

    In one northern Maine hilltop cemetery where I have spent a lot of time, cell phones work well. However, if I drive down the hill to the next cemetery about a mile away, all cell phones display “no bars,” indicating no useable signal. Cell phones are useless in the valleys of that area. While there are a few hilltop cemeteries in Maine, it appears that the majority of cemeteries in the area are built alongside a river bank, typically the lowest point of elevation within miles! In short, the cemeteries you wish to investigate may or may nor be within cell phone range.

    Another disadvantage is that cell phones are normally one-to-one communications. That is, if three, four, or more people are working together to investigate one cemetery, there is no easy method to call all of the others at the same time. Conference calls are theoretically possible, but not common when you only need to communicate for a few seconds, such as to ask, “Does anyone have bug repellent?”

    The remainder of this article is reserved for Plus Edition subscribers only. If you have a Plus Edition subscription, you may read the full article at:*)-Plus-Edition-News-Articles/10343753.

    If you are not yet a Plus Edition subscriber, you can learn more about such subscriptions and even upgrade to a Plus Edition subscription immediately at

  • 23 Apr 2021 11:40 AM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This is an updated version of an article I originally published several years ago. A newsletter reader recently questioned the life expectancy of digital files versus paper. I referred him to my earlier article but noticed that it was a bit out of date. I have now rewritten part of the original article and am republishing it today.

    I often write about digital products for use in genealogy. Here is a comment I hear and read all the time: “I am going to keep my files on paper to make sure they last for many years, longer than digital files.”

    Wrong! Properly maintained, digital files will always last much, much longer than paper or microfilm. Let’s focus on the phrase, “properly maintained.”

    Documents printed on paper will last 25 to 100 years, sometimes more, depending upon the type of paper used, the ink that is used, the binding, storage conditions, and so forth. Ink fades, toner fades even more quickly, and the stuff that substitutes for real ink in inkjet printers fades the fastest of all. Paper darkens. While archival quality paper may last for a century or more, the much more common acid-based paper will start to deteriorate win 10 years or so. Exposure to light, humidity, and variable temperatures only hastens the degradation of the printed words and images.

    Anything you create today on paper probably will last your lifetime if properly cared for. However, it probably will not be readable by your great-great-grandchildren.

    Anything published on microfilm will last 200 or 300 years, if stored in optimum climate-controlled conditions and if the microfilm is never used. (Microfilm is fragile and scratches easily with use. If used often enough, the scratches will eventually make the microfilm unreadable.)

    Storing paper or microfilm for archival purposes also assumes the storage location will be preserved. That is, there will never be a fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, tornado, burst water pipe, a roof collapse, or even human error. Of course, that is impossible to guarantee.

    In the past few years, I have reported about losses of paper documents in major archives around the world because of earthquakes, fires, floods, and similar disasters. For a recent example, see my story earlier this week at

    Even then, I only report the major stories, those where millions of documents are lost. I don’t know how many people lose their personal papers due to disasters or human error, but I suspect the number is large.

    Ideally, all paper and microfilm should have multiple copies made and stored in different locations in order to protect against local disasters. However, that is usually too difficult and too expensive to be practical. No matter how good the storage conditions, paper and microfilm have a life expectancy measured in seconds when a fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, or tornado hits the building. Even a simple burst water pipe can destroy millions of paper records. That has happened many times in the past and undoubtedly will happen again.

    Luckily, digital files will last forever and will not deteriorate from use if proper precautions are taken. Simply make multiple copies of each file and store those copies in DIFFERENT, widely-separated locations. Luckily, that doesn’t cost much with digital files and only requires a few minutes of your time.

    Of course, in order to last forever, the files also must be copied to new media every few years, and the file format must be updated (converted) to new formats, as needed. For instance, if copies are stored on CD-ROM disks, those copies need to be re-copied to newer forms of storage as the technology changes. If images are stored in JPG format, they do need to be converted to new formats as newer formats become available. Data that is “maintained” properly in the latest formats on the latest storage devices will remain visible forever.

    We have a great example of the wisdom of data format conversion. When the Social Security Administration first started computerizing death records, the information was recorded on 80-column punch cards. However, not many people have punch card readers on their computers at home these days and yet we can still access those records today. How is this possible? Simple. After five or ten years or so, the records were copied from 80-column punch cards to 3/4-inch magnetic tape. A few years later, before 3/4-inch magnetic tape became completely obsolete, the records were copied to the more modern storage on 1/2-inch magnetic tape. A few years later, before 1/2-inch magnetic tape became completely obsolete, the records were copied to the more modern storage of disk drives. Still later, those 1/2-inch magnetic tapes and disk drives were copied time and again, each time to more modern media.

    Not only were single copies made, but multiple copies were made and stored in different locations. Unlike paper, a single disaster is not going to destroy all the copies of the computerized records. One fire at one Social Security Administration facility is not going to destroy all copies of millions of records, as happened to the paper records stored at NARA’s military personnel records in St. Louis in 1973. (See for details.) Nothing is ever guaranteed, but I would bet that the Social Security Administration’s computerized records stored in several different locations will last a lot longer than did the paper records at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973.

    For relatively small amounts of money, digital files can have two, three, five, or even ten copies made and each copy can be stored in a different location, even overseas.

    Luckily, all well-run data centers have been doing all this for years. The Social Security Administration is but one example. Others, including NASA, the military, almost every corporation, and even schools and non-profits, keep up-to-date multiple copies of their important data and they store those copies in different locations to protect against fire, floods, tornados, and other local disasters.

    Data maintenance and preservation is a well-established practice that is already in use in thousands of data centers today. You can easily do the same at home.

    The answer lies in making frequent copies, something that is easy to do with digital files but much harder with paper or microfilm. Both paper and microfilm can be copied, but each new paper or microfilm copy suffers from a bit of degradation. That is, the copy is never as good as the original. If you have a copy of a copy of a copy, the loss will be significant.

    To see this, write or print something on paper. Anything. Then make a photocopy of it using any standard photocopy machine. Then make a copy of the photocopy. Then make another photocopy of the latest photocopy. Do this about ten or more times, each time making a new photocopy image of the latest photocopy.

    The result will eventually be unreadable.

    Digital files, however, do not suffer from degradation. Each bit and byte is the same to a computer, no matter how many times it gets copied; so, the quality of a copy of a digital image will be just as good as the original. If you make copies of the copies, they, too, will be exactly as clear and readable as the original. Go through a similar exercise with digital images, copy the copy, then re-copy the result, and so on through ten “generations.” Unlike copying paper and microfilm, the result of copying ten generations of a digital image will be a new image that is exactly the same as the original. There will be no loss or degradation.

    To be sure, putting a digital image on the shelf and leaving it there, unattended, does mean it will become obsolete within a few years. Luckily, no well-run data center ever does that. Using proper data maintenance techniques that have been proven over the years, digital data can last forever.

    While this is common practice in data centers, it is not so common in our homes. Yet you can easily do the same for any data or images you store digitally.

    Make frequent copies. Make sure you have multiple backups, stored in different locations. Store a copy on your computer, store another copy on an external hard drive, store another copy on a flash drive, store another copy in the cloud on some Internet backup service, give a copy to your relatives, and so on. You can never make too many copies. Make sure you store them in a number of places many miles apart.

    There is a phrase that most archivists use that seems appropriate: L.O.C.K.S.S. That stands for “Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe.” The archivists are correct. They also know to store those copies in widely-separated locations.

    You also need to convert each file to more modern formats, as needed. For instance, if you created word processing files thirty years ago using WordStar (a popular word processor of the time), those files need to be updated to a more modern program’s format. The most common word processor format of today is DOC files, originally used with Microsoft Word and now also used by almost every word processor on the market. Luckily, it is still easy today to convert WordStar files to DOC format using any of a number of different programs but that will not be true forever. The files need to be converted while conversion software is still available.

    DOC files are becoming obsolete and the newer format is DOCX. Are you converting your personal DOC files to the new DOCX format? That is still easy to do with most all of today's word processors but I am not sure it will be easy to do 20 or 30 years from now. You might start converting your DOC files now!

    The same is true for all those photographs you have stored as digital files. JPG and TIFF are the most popular formats today, but those will change someday. When the time comes, convert your files to whatever replaces JPG and TIFF. There are a number of programs available that will convert large numbers of image files to a different format, and some of them are available free of charge. With such programs, batch conversions of a few hundred or even a few thousand digital files usually are easy to accomplish within minutes.

    If you care about your information and pictures, make sure at least one younger relative has the same interest you do and will carry on after you are gone. Ideally, you should more than one such interested relative. When it comes to your family history, this human backup complements your file backup. In fact, you know those multiple backups and multiple locations I mentioned? It might be a good idea to give copies of all those files NOW to the people you entrust to maintain the information in the future. Having copies at their multiple locations is one more method of insuring that backups will remain available.

    With very little effort and planning, you can easily emulate the best practices of most modern data centers. Digital data preservation is much easier than many people think – and it’s certainly easier, cheaper, and more effective than preserving paper or microfilm.

  • 23 Apr 2021 10:49 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    ·         Launched in response to user feedback, this major update enables users to hunt for street names across all UK census records in one simple search 

    ·         Improved search introduces a raft of new features and paves the way for future updates  

    ·         Designed to enhance user discoveries by making it easier to locate ancestors and explore the history of a home 

    Leading family history website Findmypast has announced the launch of a new and improved address search designed to enhance the research of both family and house historians.  

    Launched in response to customer demand, the new address search covers all UK censuses from 1841 to 1911 and introduces a raft of new tools and features. 

    Based on feedback provided by users, it has been specifically designed to help locate missing ancestors, build a more complete picture of their lives by discovering friends, relatives and neighbours or trace the occupancy of a specific address.  

    Available to all via , the update includes the following new features:  

    ·         Easy access: users can now access address search from the homepage menu in two simple clicks 

    ·         Search by address across all UK censuses: whereas previously only individual censuses could be searched by address, users can now perform a single search across all 187 million records via the “select all” drop down menu 

    ·         Set a search radius: Findmypast's new radius slider enables users to return a range of street matches from the centre of an entered location - particularly useful for long streets that span more than one location 

    ·         Easy search edits: users can change street names and locations while viewing household results to narrow down or expand their search   

    ·         Locate misspelt streets: street names can vary depending on how enumerators originally recorded them. To combat this, Findmypast have added a ‘spelling variants’ tick box to help users locate such addresses  

    ·         Clearly displayed households for each street: when search results present a number of similarly spelled streets, researchers can use the total number of households listed to easily determine which street to start investigating 

    ·         Search on mobile devices: it is now much easier to see all the information on one screen 

    ·         View house numbers more easily: Findmypast have moved enumeration numbers to the far right of the results page to avoid confusion with house numbers - especially beneficial when scrolling on mobile 

    ·         Access search tips: Findmypast have included tips on how to formulate a search, hacks to help dig out missing streets or houses, and recommendations for other useful resources available on the site 

    As well as enhancing the research of those looking to learn more about the lives of their ancestors or explore the history of their home, these improvements lay solid foundations for future updates and new features.  

    Findmypast will continue to seek out and act on the feedback of users to deliver the best possible experience for all. All users are invited to share their feedback on the Findmypast Forum, on social media or by contacting Findmypast's dedicated customer support team 

  • 21 Apr 2021 5:38 PM | Anonymous

    The following is an announcement from DigitalNC:

    Over 2000 issues of The Commonwealth, a paper published in Scotland Neck, are now on DigitalNC.  The issues span 40 years, from 1882 to 1922, adding a lot of coverage in our newspaper collection from the coastal region of the state. The very first issue, published August 24, 1882, is included in this batch, stating it was an “uncompromising Democratic journal.” The paper had a definite editorial stance supporting the Democrats both statewide and nationally and attacking the Republican party, which was the party of Black and white in North Carolina, while the Democrats were against any efforts at integration.  This editorial stance continues into the 20th century, with an interesting gap in publication the week of the coup in Wilmington in 1898, but the following week had an editorial in support of the actions taken by the white supremists in the city.  By the 1920s, more of a focus on news and less of an editorial bent seems evident, with their tagline being “All the News in a Nutshell.”

    Front page of the Commonwealth newspaper

    To view more newspapers on DigitalNC, visit our North Carolina Newspapers collection.  

    Digitization of this newspaper is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

  • 21 Apr 2021 11:44 AM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This is a follow-up to an earlier article, University of Cape Town (South Africa) Library Destroyed by Fire, published two days ago at

    A wildfire that burned vast areas of Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain, historical landmarks and a university library that houses priceless collections of African antiquities was largely under control late Monday, and evacuees were allowed to return to their homes in the area.

    The fire was about 70 to 80 percent contained, although there was a danger it could flare up again because of strong winds, said Philip Prins, fire manager for Table Mountain National Park. The blaze began Sunday morning near the memorial to colonial leader Cecil Rhodes and quickly spread uncontrolled beneath Devil’s Peak in the national park, in an area popular with weekend hikers and cyclists.

    By Monday, winds approaching 30 mph had pushed the fire toward densely populated areas above downtown Cape Town, forcing the evacuation of residents living along some edges of the park. Well-known tourist sites such as the Table Mountain aerial cableway and the nearby Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden were temporarily closed.

    “The library is our greatest loss,” the university’s vice chancellor, Mamokgethi Phakeng, told a local radio station. “Some of these cannot be replaced by insurance, and that is a sad day for us.”

    It is believed that very few of the items in the library have been duplicated by electronic methods and saved elsewhere.

    You can

  • 21 Apr 2021 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    Anyone who knows Jill Ball will be interested to know she has been featured in an interview published on the FamilySearch web site.

    Anyone who doesn't know Jill Ball is missing out on a delightful experience. You can partially correct that now by obtaining a bit of information about her genealogy-dominated life from an article written by Debra Woods and published at

    I have met Jill Ball several times and can verify that she is a delightful person to know. I am sure her many worldwide acquaintances will agree.

    This is "recommended reading." Again, you can find the article at

  • 21 Apr 2021 10:59 AM | Anonymous

    This sounds ideal for a highly-skilled genealogist who wishes to find a work-from-home position. However, be aware that a very high level of genealogy expertise is required. The job opening specifies "Two or more years' professional experience in genealogical research."

    Quoting from a help wanted ad in the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) web site:

    The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) has openings in the Department of Genealogy and Research Services. These positions will work remotely as part of a team to process membership applications, by evaluating lineage information and documentation for completeness, validity, and correctness. Experience in professional genealogical research and methods is key to this role.

    Required Qualifications & Skills:

    Two or more years' professional experience in genealogical research.

    Demonstrates proven experience resolving conflicting evidence and same name problems.

    Experience working with original and compiled sources, both original hard copy and digital documents, as well as knowledge of advanced internet search techniques, including wildcard usage.

    Demonstrates strong writing skills; able to clearly explain complex research problems and provide recommendations for further research.

    Demonstrates advanced proficiency in word processing (Microsoft Word & Adobe PDF) software, and on and offline database and lineage software.

    Attention to detail; experience in proofing and editing, as well as excellent time management and organizational skills.

    Communicate and respond to supervision effectively using video conference applications (Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc).

    Preferred Qualifications:

    Candidates with experience in advanced genealogical methods.

    Experience with lineage society applications a plus.

    Proven track record of remote productivity a plus.


    Finalists will be asked to provide a sample analysis of genealogy or family research submitted in narrative form.

    There is more background information about the General Society of Mayflower Descendants available at

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

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