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  • 29 Jan 2021 11:21 AM | Anonymous

    The following is an email message posted to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) Public Records Access Monitoring Committee mailing list and republished here with permission:

    The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the US Department of Homeland Security, posted in the January 29, 2021 Federal Register a notice about the preliminary injunction to its previously posted final rule and court orders effective September 29, 2020 and October 8, 2020. These injunctions were previously reported by the IAJGS Records Access Alert. While the predominant part of the original final rule was to increase fees for the immigration an citizenship benefits, genealogists were most interested as the fees for an index search and search request were being increased from $65.00 each for Form G-1041, Genealogy Index Search Request, when filed online as $160 and $170 when filed on paper and a fee for Form G-1041A, Genealogy Records Request, when filed online as $255 and $265 when filed by paper.

    The notice which may be read at:

    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-01-29/pdf/2021-02044.pdf  states the Department is complying with the terms of the two US District Court orders and is not enforcing the regulatory changes set out in the final rule. The USCIS will continue to accept the fees that were in place prior to October 2, 2020 and follow the guidance in place prior to October 2, 2020 to adjudicate fee waiver requests as provided in the Adjudicator’s Field Manual.  Any further guidance and updates regarding the litigation will be posted on the USCIS website:

    https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-response-to-preliminary-injunction-of-fee-rule  on an ongoing basis.

    To see previous postings about the USCIS and the fee increases,  go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at:  http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/private/records-access-alerts/. You must be registered to access the archives.  To register go to: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/listinfo/records-access-alerts  and follow the instructions to enter your email address, full name and which genealogical  organization with whom you are affiliated   You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.

    Jan Meisels Allen
    Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

  • 28 Jan 2021 4:24 PM | Anonymous

    From an article in Bloomberg News:

    "Consumer DNA-testing company 23andMe Inc. is in talks to go public through a roughly $4 billion deal with VG Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, according to people familiar with the matter.

    "A deal could be announced in the coming weeks if talks are successful, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information was private. Discussions could still fall apart, the people said.

    "In funding rounds in both 2018 and 2020, 23andMe had a $2.5 billion valuation, separate people familiar with the matter said. A merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, would allow 23andMe to go public without the risk or uncertainty of holding an initial public offering."

    There is more information in the full article in the Yahoo web site at: http://yhoo.it/2MdLxTh.


  • 28 Jan 2021 4:15 PM | Anonymous

    If you are using DNA to help identify your ancestry, you will be interested in the latest announcement from MyHeritage. According to the announcement in the company's blog at https://blog.myheritage.com/2021/01/genetic-groups-new-user-interface-improvements/

    Last month, we announced the release of Genetic Groups: a long-awaited enhancement of MyHeritage DNA ethnicity results which accurately identifies ancestral origins with an incredibly high resolution of 2,114 geographic regions. This new feature gives users the chance to take a deep dive into their ancestral origins and discover the paths their ancestors traveled. Our users across the globe have been raving about Genetic Groups.

    We promised further updates to this feature very soon, and we’re pleased to announce that the first set of updates has arrived. This update includes the addition of a Timeline Widget that allows you to follow the migration pattern of a Genetic Group over time — and a more detailed, better organized Top Places section, where you can see where members of a Genetic Group have lived during a given time period.

    Timeline Widget

    Since the launch, each Genetic Group has had a drill-down page with specific genealogical insights, including a description of the group, a heatmap showing the top places where the group’s members lived during different time periods, common ancestral surnames and given names in the group, the most prevalent ethnicities among the group’s members, and other Genetic Groups that have close affinity to the group.

    Now, there is also a Timeline Widget (with a black background color) that allows you to switch easily between the different 50-year time periods when looking at migration patterns. This replaces a basic drop-down element that we had previously. The Timeline includes at its top right, the new option to play an animation that automatically cycles through all the periods and updates the heatmap automatically. In other words, the Timeline allows you to observe your Genetic Groups’ migration patterns more easily, either manually or with animation.

    Timeline animation for the Genetic Group “Mormons in USA (Utah and Idaho) and in Canada”
    Timeline animation for the Genetic Group “Mormons in USA (Utah and Idaho) and in Canada”

    The announcement goes on with a rather detailed explanation and includes numerous screen capture images. You can read the full announcement at: https://blog.myheritage.com/2021/01/genetic-groups-new-user-interface-improvements/.


  • 28 Jan 2021 4:14 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

    The free FamilySearch Family History Library Webinars for February 2021 include beginner classes in African American Records and Strategies, an Overview of FamilySearch, the FamilySearch Catalog, and US Immigration records, plus one special Spanish language session entitled "El amor es ciego, pero el sacerdote no: la infinidad de información en las actas matrimoniales" (Love is blind, but the priest is not: the endless information in marriage certificates). February's schedule is notably abbreviated to support the 1,000+ free exciting sessions that will be available at RootsTech Connect 2021, a three-day virtual family history conference beginning February 25, 2021.

    If you cannot attend a live Family History Library webinar, 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 Standard Time (MST).

    DATE/TIME CLASS WEBINAR
    Mon, Feb 1, 10:00 AM MST Using the FamilySearch Catalog (Beginner) Yes
    Tue, Feb 2, 10:00 AM MST Overview of FamilySearch (Beginner) Yes
    Thu, Feb 4, 10:00 AM MST The Tired, the Poor, and the Huddled Masses: U.S. Immigration 1820-1954 (Beginner) Yes
    Tue, Feb 16, 11:00 AM MST El amor es ciego, pero el sacerdote no: la infinidad de información en las actas matrimoniales (Intermediate) Yes
    Thu, Feb 18, 10:00 AM MST African American Records and Strategies: Post-1865 (Beginner) Yes


    Visit Classes and Online Webinars for more information.

    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.

  • 27 Jan 2021 10:48 AM | Anonymous

    During the month of February 2021, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering three virtual programs streamed live on the Web. Two of these programs will be presented in commemoration of National African American History Month, an annual observance celebrating the invaluable contributions that the Black community has made to the culture and history of the United States. All programs are free and open to the public.

    Go to the following for additional information and reservation instructions: https://history.delaware.gov/2021/01/21/hca-african-american-history-month-2021.

  • 27 Jan 2021 10:37 AM | Anonymous

    An Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot that lets you interact with dead loved ones sounds like something straight out of science fiction. But if technology in a patent granted to Microsoft comes to fruition, interacting with a chatty 3D digital version of the deceased could one day become de rigueur.

    The patent, titled 'Creating a conversational chatbot of a specific person," details a system that would access images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages and the like to "create or modify a special index in the theme of the specific person's personality." In some cases, images and video could be used to create a 3D model of the person for extra realism.

    It's an especially provocative notion when you consider the patent's suggestion that the tech "may correspond to a past or present entity."

    You can read more in an article by Leslie Katz in the C|Net web site at: http://cnet.co/3iSbqEf.

    It sounds a bit creepy to me! Then again, if someone could set up a chatbot of my great-great-grandfather, I have a few questions I'd like to ask him!


  • 27 Jan 2021 10:24 AM | Anonymous

    What happens to your digital assets when you die? This includes online assets previously uploaded by the deceased: photos, music, videos, email messages, and other digital content that are hosted on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and stored by tech giants like Apple and Google.

    Now the state of Pennsylvania allows estate executors to take control of the deceased person's online assets.

    The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), enacted on July 23, 2020, gives executors, administrators, trustees, holders of power of attorney, and guardians legal authority to manage and access electronic records, including email and social media accounts of decedents and incapacitated individuals. RUFADAA also creates a legal framework for third-party digital content platforms or custodians that process or store electronic records when releasing records to the estate fiduciary.

    You can read a lot more in an article by Cozen O'Connor in the JDSUPRA web site at: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-law-gives-pennsylvania-executors-6944745/.


  • 26 Jan 2021 8:23 PM | Anonymous

    I learned in school that our ancestors came to the New World in the 1600s in search of religious freedom. While I still believe that to be true, I now believe the full story is a bit more complex than the reasons given in grammar school textbooks.

    Religious freedom certainly was a motivation for Puritans, Pilgrims, Quakers, and others from England, but thousands of other immigrants were members of the established church in England and had no interest in other theologies. Immigrants from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and other countries had similar reasons. What motivated them?

    Perhaps the simplest answer is that living in England or in the European continent was very difficult at the time. The upper classes lived comfortably, but the majority of citizens had difficulty eking out even a mere subsistence. Starvation was not unknown, and even those who did eat regularly had diets that most of us today would reject. Without refrigeration or modern canning techniques, even those with some financial security had monotonous diets in the winter and early spring. The thought of eating turnip soup three times a day for weeks on end seems appalling today but was common in the 1600s. The Irish more likely ate potato soup every day.

    Fish and meat were available but often at prices that were beyond the reach of most city dwellers. Their country cousins perhaps had a slightly better diet of meats and vegetables that they produced themselves, but country dwellers typically lacked other comforts of life. In the winter, there was no available fresh produce, regardless of where you lived. The only vegetables that were available were the root crops that could be stored for months: potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc. Cabbage, while not a root crop, also stores well and was frequently available.

    Perhaps today we do not appreciate the appalling conditions under which our ancestors lived. Imagine, if you will, a city on a warm summer day in which there were no sewers and no source of fresh water. The primary mode of transportation was by horse-drawn carriages and wagons, so horse manure was everywhere in the streets. Even so, the odor from human wastes must have been far stronger as chamberpots were typically dumped into the streets and alleyways. (Sewer pipes were largely unknown at the time.) Most residents did not bathe regularly, did not wash their hair, and never brushed their teeth.

    Of course, modern medical care was unknown, and medical ignorance was universal. These people did not know why they breathed air, how the digestive system worked, why brushing one's teeth was important.

    Most of England's water was heavily polluted. Most citizens did not drink water, instead preferring weakly-brewed beers and ales, even for children. At least the beers and ales were usually safe to drink, unlike the water.

    There was relatively little in the way of forests for food or for lumber, as most forests had been cut years earlier for timber and for firewood.

    Without proper food preservation techniques, we can assume that most of the food our ancestors consumed had a high germ count. Without clean living quarters or clean water, we can also assume that most of our malnourished ancestors were ill a high percentage of the time. It's a wonder that any of them survived and had descendants!

    Speculators and adventurers of the time wildly advertised living conditions in the New World as a Utopian experience. While the claims were partially true, those with a financial interest in attracting new immigrants were quick to embellish the facts. After all, there were no "truth in advertising" laws at the time.

    We now know that many of the early settlers starved to death or died of diseases linked to malnutrition. Within a year or so of their arrival un the New World. Yet the reports sent back to England spoke glowingly of fertile fields and forests that were full of game for the hunter. The seas were described as full of fish available to anyone.

    William Wood in his 1634 book, New England Prospect, wrote:

    Unlike England's undrinkable water, New England's is "so good many preferred it to 'beer, whey, and buttermilk and those that drink it be as healthful, fresh and lusty as they that drink beer.'"

    Winters, he claimed, were milder than in England, summers hotter but "tolerable because of the cooling effect of fresh winds." Oh, and food was plentiful: "deer, available for the taking; raccoon, as good as lamb; grey squirrels, almost as big as an English rabbit; turkeys, up to 40 pounds."

    Hmmm, have you ever eaten raccoon? Or squirrel? To the semi-starved residents of England, those meats must have sounded like a feast.

    You can read William Wood's book, New England Prospect, on Google Books at: https://www.google.com/books/edition/New_England_s_Prospect/chF3xjKvGMcC?hl=en.

    I have focused on the people and the lifestyles of England simply for convenience; those records and books are easy to read for modern-day English speakers. However, the lifestyles and the motivations were similar in Ireland, Scotland, and all throughout Europe.

    In fact, some of our ancestors did make the difficult trip over the Atlantic for religious freedom. However, probably a much larger number made the trip for adventure and for greater financial opportunities. More than a few made the trip with the hope of being able to eat regularly. After all, life was none too pleasant in "the Old Country." Many believed that life would be much better in the New World.

    I certainly am glad that they made the trip!


  • 26 Jan 2021 1:04 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

    Find your roots at FamilySearch in 2M new, free, Pennsylvania Historical Society (Births and Baptisms 1520–1999, and Congregational Records 1620–1991), plus 1.6M New Zealand Obituaries 1844–1963, new collections for Australia, NSW Immigrants 1828–1890England, Devon Parish Chest Records1556–1950Germany, Saxony Catholic Church Records 1621–1976 and expanded collections for Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, S. Africa and the US (CA, GA, IL, MA, MS, 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 remainder of this announcement is lengthy, too long to list here. However, you can read the full announcement at: https://media.familysearch.org/new-free-historical-records-on-familysearch-week-of-25-january-2021/.
  • 26 Jan 2021 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by the Family History Federation and Parish Chest:

    The Family History Federation and Parish Chest are hosting their second FHF REALLY USEFUL Family History Show on Saturday 10th April.

    Following the format of the extremely popular first show, there will be a raft of top presentations on genealogical topics along with access to family history societies and commercial vendors. New for April will be a number of workshops.

    Regular announcements providing further details will appear on the show website and associated media.

    https://www.fhf-reallyuseful.com

    WATCH THIS SPACE for announcements and updates!

    This is THE show for unique opportunity to visit many family history societies for access to local expertise and information, and other organisations providing supplies for the family historian.

    BOOK NOW and do all this from the comfort of your armchair at home!

    Early-bird booking costs just £7.50 per person!

    After 31st January, it will cost £10 per person

    BOOK NOW to visit the festival of Really Useful things for family historians!

    www.fhf-reallyuseful.com


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