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  • 27 Dec 2023 8:15 AM | Anonymous

    Now this is something I think I am going to use A LOT! The following is from the MyHeritage Blog:

    Many genealogists want to write detailed biographies of their ancestors and relatives, and add these biographies to their family tree, but cannot find the time to do it. If you can relate to this pain, we finally have a solution for you! We’re happy to introduce AI Biographer™, an exciting new feature that’s exclusive to MyHeritage. With a single click, it automatically compiles a Wikipedia-style biography article about a person’s life. It uses details from matching historical records and family tree profiles, and curates the information into a beautiful, well-written article that will make you proud.

    Beyond the time it takes to write a biography manually, sometimes facts in the family tree or data from historical records can seem dull. But when combined with the broader historical context, they can often tell a deeper and more colorful story. AI Biographer™ automatically creates a compelling life story for an ancestor or relative using facts from genealogical sources on MyHeritage and enriches it with information from the web, saving you time and creating a document that you can easily share with your loved ones. This is especially useful for creating biographies about the billions of individuals who were not famous, and therefore do not appear in Wikipedia.

    AI Biographer™ is available on the MyHeritage website on desktop and mobile web browsers, and will be added to the MyHeritage mobile app in the future.

    How it works

    AI Biographer™ uses MyHeritage’s acclaimed matching technologies to curate historical records and family tree profiles that pertain to a specific ancestor or relative, together with automated third-party Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology powered by OpenAI. An AI Biography™ can be created within your family tree on MyHeritage, and also from historical records found via AI Record Finder™, our exciting new AI chat-powered search engine. All information from the relevant records is then compiled into an article that is enriched with photos and scanned documents, and in some cases, additional information from the web. The resulting biography includes the person’s immediate family, describes the main events of their life, and includes rich historical context and the origins of their surname. Each biography is a unique narrative that can be shared with family and friends, and saved for posterity.

    When created from a family tree, an AI Biography™ is added to the family tree as a media item and tagged with the individual’s name. When a family tree is exported in GEDCOM format, the biography is referenced, ensuring that the enriched biographical information remains an integral part of the family tree. We will soon add the option to regenerate biographies whenever new information becomes available.

    AI Biography™ Example

    You can read a lot more at:

  • 27 Dec 2023 7:53 AM | Anonymous

    A new monument honoring Black Revolutionary War soldiers is being planned for the Maryland State House grounds.

    The monument stems from a proposal by Steven X. Lee, an adjunct history professor at Stevenson University and author and founding director of the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museumin Baltimore County.

    “Mr. Lee worked with the archives to create a proposal that was put before the State House Trust and unanimously approved to honor African Americans who served in the Revolutionary War in a figural monument that will be located in the general location of the historic front of the State House, where the statue of Roger Brooke Taney once stood,” said Elaine Rice Bachmann, state archivist.

    Lee is the author of “The Story or Mr. Thomas Carney,” a Black Revolutionary War soldier born in 1754 on the Eastern Shore.

    The monument will be the State House Trust contribution to the state’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States.

    You can read more in an article by Bryan P. Sears published in the web site at:

  • 27 Dec 2023 5:08 AM | Anonymous

    Every year, the Supreme Court’s nine justices fill out a form that discloses their financial connections to companies and people. Using ProPub;ica's new database, you can now search for organizations and people that have paid the justices, reimbursed them for travel, given them gifts and more.

    The database may be found at:  

  • 26 Dec 2023 6:42 PM | Anonymous

    Angela Saucier, 68, experienced an 'emptiness' after being separated from her newborn daughter, but being reunited with Winona Nagy, now 49, 'just felt right'

    Angela Saucier always hoped she would one day reunite with the "beautiful" baby girl she was forced to give up for adoption — the daughter she held for mere minutes before she was taken away at the hospital.

    It's a memory she has kept close to her heart for the past five decades.

    "I didn't have her at all," 68-year-old Angela tells The Messenger. "When I signed the papers, they let me hold her, and that was the only time I got to touch her."

    "Then the emptiness came after she was gone, and it left a big hole, but I knew she was perfect, and she was beautiful," she continues.

    On Dec. 9, after 50 long years, Angela was finally able to hold her daughter for the first time since their brief time together in the hospital.

    It was a moment that only happened after Angela's daughter, Wesley, received an alert from the genealogy website MyHeritage that she was related to a woman named Winona Nagy, her long-lost half-sister.

    "I can't put into words how it felt to put my arms around her and to have her hugging me back," Angela says of her reunion with Winona, now 49, in Texas.

    You can read more in an article by Jason Hahn  published in the Messenger web site at:

  • 26 Dec 2023 6:25 PM | Anonymous
    What began in 2022 as a one-paragraph public records request has morphed into a full-blown court fight over who owns digital copies of Pennsylvania’s historical records.

    Are they the property of the commonwealth? Or are the documents — which include birth and death certificates, veterans’ burial cards, and slave records — fully controlled by a private company?

    That question has pitted a New York City-based professional genealogist against the Pennsylvania agency in charge of a vast array of historical documents and artifacts, as well as, an online genealogy company used by millions of people to search for family and other records.

    The genealogist is Alec Ferretti, a director at Reclaim The Records, a nonprofit that pushes governments to make genealogical information more broadly available.

    The state agency is the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), which in 2008 contracted with Ancestry to digitize a sweeping list of historical documents and make them available on the company’s website. Those records also include naturalization documents, prison records, and Civil War border claims and muster rolls, according to the contract.

    Those digitized records, according to PHMC’s website, are free to Pennsylvania residents who create a user profile with Ancestry.

    Ferretti, however, isn’t a Pennsylvania resident.

    So in September of last year, Ferretti asked PHMC for all records the state agency turned over to Ancestry. He also asked for the metadata on the digitized documents, as well as any indexes Ancestry created for them.

    PHMC denied the request, saying it had no responsive records in its possession. Ferretti appealed to Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, an independent state agency that’s the first stop in deciding most disputes over access to government information.

    According to legal briefs in the case, PHMC said that documents Ancestry eventually digitized encompassed a huge amount of data — approximately 45 terabytes — that would have cost the agency roughly $300,000 annually to maintain. So it chose to have Ancestry house the scanned records for the state.

    Copying those records, indexes, and metadata, as Ferretti requested, would be considered a breach of its contract with Ancestry, PHMC argued.

    Ferretti countered that Ancestry could at the very least transfer the data using USB hard drives. He noted that because he doesn’t live in Pennsylvania, he would have to pay a subscription fee to the company to access the records. He also argued that though Ancestry houses the documents and their data, the state is their “legal custodian.”

    Ownership of the commonwealth’s physical records is not contested. Those are available to Pennsylvania residents and nonresidents alike at the state archives in Harrisburg.

    The Office of Open Records sided with Ferretti early this year, but the battle didn’t end. PHMC appealed to Commonwealth Court. Soon after, Ancestry stepped in, arguing that its work digitizing and indexing the records is proprietary. It also argued that though the company agreed under the contract to license copies of the digitized records back to the state, it owns the work product, and said it didn’t get a chance to weigh in on the initial Office of Open Records case.

    You can read more about this case in an article by Angela Couloumbis published in The Morning Call web site at:

  • 26 Dec 2023 9:55 AM | Anonymous

    If you are unfamiliar with Boxing Day, you might want to read the Wikipedia description at:

  • 26 Dec 2023 9:43 AM | Anonymous

    I recently read this word online but did not know it’s meaning. As a genealogist, I am a bit ashamed that I did not know the meaning of the word.

    According to


    grand-fam-uh-lee, fam-lee ]SHOW IPA

    nounplural grand·fam·i·lies.

    a family in which one or more children live with and are raised by their grandparent or grandparents: Grandfamilies exist because of absent parents, and the circumstances behind that can vary greatly from one case to the next.
  • 26 Dec 2023 8:25 AM | Anonymous

    I have written frequently about the preservation of tombstones. Apparently, one person did not “get the word.” A rather old article in the Los Angeles Times, describes how one well-intentioned person has caused potential long-term damage to many Civil War tombstones. He thought he was helping preserve the tombstones but his efforts had the opposite effect. Not only did he not realize the damage he was causing, he even received commendations from cemetery officials, Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

    For three years, Gene-o Platt cleaned tombstones, removing fungus and lichen. He then brushed several layers of white-pigmented sealer onto the Georgia marble tombstones. Using drills and grinding tools, he also enhanced worn lettering and then painted them gold. He invested thousands of hours and dollars in the project, hoping his example would be copied nationwide.

    What Mr. Platt did not realize is that the sealer will cause the marble to deteriorate from the inside out because moisture in the rock can't escape. In addition, black lithochrome paint should be used for lettering, not gold.

    The Veterans Administration, which owns Civil War tombstones, bars sealer from being applied to its monuments, said Mike Nacincik, a spokesman for the VA's National Cemetery Administration.

    You can read more about this story in the Los Angeles Times' web site at.,1,5766355.story?coll=la-editions-orange&ctrack=1&cset=true.

  • 26 Dec 2023 8:14 AM | Anonymous

    Here is an article that is not about any of the "normal" topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, I Found this to be interesting and think that you might also.

    Holding online meetings and seminars can be a great time saver and money saver. If you wish to conduct a class or seminar, hold a society meeting of a few people, or even control someone else's computer for troubleshooting purposes or most any other purpose of displaying information on a remote computer, you can choose from dozens of screen-sharing products available today. However, some of the available online meeting products can be quite expensive. I have recently been experimenting with a low-cost and even no-cost product with the easy-to-remember name of ""

    With, you can hold an online seminar or meeting with up to 250 participants at no charge; extra features are available for a reasonable fee. provides a meeting space that happens wherever and whenever you need it. is an instant screen-sharing application that allows others to see the material you wish to present. It can be available on a moment's notice at no charge and with no registration required. 

    The free version of allows all participants to see what you are seeing on your screen. You can also use an online chat feature to send and receive text messages (normally entered on the keyboard) to a single participant or to all participants at once. You can also send files to any one participant, but not to all participants at once. You can even transfer control of your computer to anyone participant in the session.

    With, the required software downloads automatically at the time you join the meeting. There is no requirement to download or install software in advance. doesn't provide the audio directly, but it does provide an easy method of conversing via telephone calls by dialing telephone numbers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Hungary, or the Netherlands. Once connected to the conference call by telephone, each participant enters the number of the online session and then is connected to everyone else in the session. Participants can talk and listen by telephone while watching the on-screen session on their own Windows or Macintosh computers. Each caller does pay any applicable toll charges to connect to the nearest teleconference phone number. Sounds played on the presenter's computer are not shared with meeting participants.

    Of course, there is no requirement to use a telephone conference call. Instead, participants can simultaneously use the service while also talking via a Skype conference call or other free VoIP conference call service. However, Skype cannot provide audio to hundreds of simultaneous users. Anyone conversing on Skype also will not hear those conversing on normal telephones. All participants need to be on Skype or on normal telephones, there is no mixing and matching of them together.

    Upgrading to the paid pro version of adds the following features: A permanent personal link that becomes your own "meeting room." You can tell others, "This is where you will find me."

    Meetings can be scheduled in advance and email invitations sent that will add the session to the recipients' iCal or Outlook calendars.

    The ability to have multiple presenters, although only one person can be presenting at any given moment.

    A lock on the door. Anyone who wishes to join a pro session must request access. The moderator then can grant access or not, as he or she wishes. (With the free version, anyone can join if they know the URL.) uses 256-bit SSL encryption. That's the same technology used by online banks and shopping sites – in fact, by anyone who cares about online security. As a result, unwanted participants cannot "listen in" to pro version meetings. (Free version meetings are also encrypted, but an unwelcome visitor can join in if he or she can discover the URL or meeting number.)'s free service is also a great method of troubleshooting a problem on someone else's computer. Do you have a technologically-challenged relative in a distant city who needs computer assistance? Have that person start a free meeting by sending him or her an email message containing the URL. The remote relative clicks on the URL to start an online meeting, then gives you control of their computer. Even though you are many miles away, you can move the mouse, click on icons, and type on the keyboard as you both watch the action on your respective computer screens. You probably will also want to be talking with the other person via a telephone call or via Skype, although that isn't absolutely necessary. 

    Starting a meeting is simple: go to If you are creating the meeting, a meeting number will be assigned to you. If you wish to join a meeting already in progress, enter the appropriate meeting number.

    The free service is very easy to use and doesn't require a credit card or even an email address. The pro version, however, will require both a credit card and an email address in order to create an account

    For more information, or to hold an online meeting of up to 250 participants, go to

  • 26 Dec 2023 7:32 AM | Anonymous

    What Is the Public Domain?

    Creative works that are not protected by copyright are said to be in the “public domain”, a vast commons of material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction. While works can be dedicated to the public domain (by the creator forgoing their copyright), most are in the public domain because they are old enough for their copyrights to have expired. However, different countries and jurisdictions have varying laws about how and when copyright expires, meaning there exist, in effect, many public domains, despite the tendency to talk of “the public domain” as a singular entity.

    How do I know if a work is in the Public Domain?

    For works made prior to 1870 or thereabouts, it is generally safe to assume they are in the public domain the world over. But as we move toward the present, the status will start to vary according to the idiosyncrasies of copyright law in different jurisdictions, meaning a work might be in the public domain in one country but not in another. While copyright law can be frustratingly complex, most countries are covered by one of three main types of copyright term for historical literary and artistic works:

    a term which lasts for 70 years after the creator’s death (relevant in UK, Canada, most of the EU, and South America);a term which lasts for 50 years after the creator’s death (relevant to most of Africa and Asia);

    a term which lasts for 95 years after the publication of a film or book, including any artworks featured within (relevant solely to the United States).

    Within these basic frameworks there are, however, subtleties and exceptions. Determining if an artwork is out of copyright in the US can be particularly tricky, depending as it does on when (if at all) the artwork was first “published” (a term which itself is not clearly defined). To find out more about the ins and outs of US copyright law, we recommend this excellent chart from Cornell University and this tool from the Copyright Advisory Network. For the UK and the EU, you can try this handy set of flowcharts from Law Flow (from 2011, but this shouldn't affect the status of historical works). For info on all countries, see this useful set of pages on Wikiedia Commons.

    Digital copies of public domain works

    When we encounter a historical public domain work online it is in the form of a digital copy. While the underlying work itself is free from copyright, the digital copy can sometimes be subject to additional claims of copyright (or restrictions applied to its use). Rights and licences applying to historical works found online can therefore be broadly divided into two categories:

    The rights status of the underlying work, by which is meant the original work itself (the words of a book, the actual physical painting or drawing, a musical score, etc.).

    The rights status of the digital copy, by which is meant the digital reproduction of the original work (usually a scan or photograph).

    Whether there should be such a distinction between the originals and their digital copies is hotly debated, and many doubt if it is legally valid to apply copyright to a basic reproduction of an out-of-copyright work. In 1999, in the US, a landmark case (Bridgeman v. Corel) ruled that exact photographic copies of public domain images could not be protected by copyright in the US because the copies lack originality.

    You can read more about this topic at: .

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