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  • 7 Jan 2021 12:15 PM | Anonymous

    Bryan Clifford Sykes, a British geneticist, and an Emeritus Professor of human genetics at the University of Oxford, passed away last month. He was one of the first scientists to describe the process of using DNA to research one's ethnic ancestry.

    In 2001, Sykes published a book for the popular audience, The Seven Daughters of Eve, in which he explained how the dynamics of maternal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) inheritance leave their mark on the human population in the form of genetic clans sharing common maternal descent. He notes that the majority of Europeans can be classified in seven such clans, known scientifically as haplogroups, distinguishable by differences in their mtDNA that are unique to each group, with each clan descending from a separate prehistoric female-line ancestor. He referred to these seven 'clan mothers' as 'daughters of Eve', a reference to the mitochondrial Eve to whom the mtDNA of all modern humans traces.

    Due to his book and his public speaking, a dozen or more "genealogy DNA companies" were formed and soon after that thousands of genealogists took DNA tests. Even this newsletter soon started writing about genealogy DNA research soon after his first book was published.

    In his 2006 book, Blood of the Isles (published in the United States and Canada as Saxons, Vikings and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland), Sykes examined British genetic "clans". He presented evidence from mitochondrial DNA, inherited by both sexes from their mothers, and the Y chromosome, inherited by men from their fathers.

    Sykes died on 10 December 2020. His obituary may be found in The Guardian at

  • 7 Jan 2021 11:01 AM | Anonymous

    The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

    German Immigrants in American Church Records
    Volume 19: Missouri (excluding St. Louis County)
    By Roger P. Minert. (Orting, WA: Family Roots Publishing Co.). 2016. 761 pages.

    Roger Minert is a masterful and prolific author, organizer, compiler, and teacher of German genealogy. This prodigious series of volumes alone would earn him a magnificent gold star on the Genealogy Walk of Fame—if there was one. (I nominate the plaza and sidewalk in front of the Family History Library.)

    Eighteen years ago, at Brigham Young University, Mr. Minert assumed professorship for the department of Germanic family history. For his students enrolled in the course on German paleography (the study of ancient writings and inscriptions), Mr. Minert required that they study and extract data from German-language documents of certain American churches.

    Their first practicals examined the American Protestant—principally Lutheran—church records of Indiana congregations populated by predominantly
    German immigrants. The church pastors, commonly themselves of German background, were already familiar with church ledgers and forms pre-printed in the German (Gothic) typefaces, into which they hand-wrote the names of parishioners and the dates of the church events using the native German script notation they had learned and used in Germany.

    These particular records are difficult to read and decipher for the novice researcher who has no background nor study in the German and Latin old-style texts and scripts. The BYU students interpreted and extracted the data of all persons possibly born in the Germanic areas of Central Europe, especially those church record entries that indicated the names of ancestral towns of origin, a potentially sole and very important resource for a family researcher.

    The church records project expanded to include the states of Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Missouri. These many volumes can be found on the Family Roots Publishing website where they are described in detail.

    I looked at Volume 19: Missouri (excluding St. Louis County) where I found no Catholic church records; listed are predominantly Evangelical Church, Lutheran Church, and Reformed Church congregations. There is a huge every-name index including 5879 surnames. There are 18,563 entries from 68 churches and 25 counties. This volume is the first of seven volumes for records in the state of Missouri.

    Some examples from the Appleton City Trinity Church, Appleton City, St. Clair Co., Missouri:

    Albert Finke b. Lichtenstein, Sachsen (kingdom) 13 June 1877; son of Ernestine Finke. Ref: pp. 74-75.
    Johanna Steffens b. Bremervörde, Hannover 31 March 1877; dau of Henrich Steffens and Elisabeth Wieselhahn. Ref: pp. 74-75.
    Adelheid Steffens b. Barchel, Bremervörde, Hannover; dau of Hinrich Steffens and Elisabeth Wiesehan. Ref: pp. 76-77.
    Dorothea Schumacher b. Germany 29 July 1891. Ref: pp. 82-83.
    Anna Maria Radell b. Baden (grand duchy); dau of Johannes Radell and Friederike - -; m. Appleton City, MO 14 November 1869, Johann Friedrich Breitwieser. Ref: pp. 130-131.
    Jacob Koenig b. Unterniebelsbach, Württemberg; son of J. Koenig and Regine Bodemann; m. Appleton City, MO 15 July

    Mr. Minert informs me that when the project began, he excluded the Catholic church records as they rarely mentioned German home towns. Now, with their current project in Kentucky, Catholic church records are being included in the search. But by far the greatest number of Catholic entries have only “Germany” as an immigrant’s place of origin. Nevertheless, Catholic records will be included from now on as their project continues.

    Such an epic work!
    The editor, compilers, students, and publishers have shaped a remarkable legacy.

    German Immigrants in American Church Records Volume 19: Missouri (excluding St. Louis County) by Roger P. Minert is available from the publisher, Family Roots Publishing Co., at The ISBN number is 978-1-62859-093-7.

  • 6 Jan 2021 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    I don't read articles like this often. In fact, this probably will be the last one mentioning the death of a widow of a U.S. Civil War veteran:

    Helen Viola Jackson, the last known widow of a Civil War soldier, has died. She was 101.

    Helen Viola Jackson in an undated photo although obviously taken many years ago.

    Jackson's death was confirmed in a statement by the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival, which revealed that she died on Dec. 16 at Webco Manor Nursing Home in Marshfield, Missouri, where she had been living for many years.

    Though she kept details of her life mostly private, Jackson recently disclosed to her minister while working out the details of her funeral that she had married James Bolin, a 93-year-old Civil War veteran, when she was 17 years old, the statement read.

    At the time, Jackson had been providing daily care for Bolin, a widower who served as a private in the 14th Missouri Cavalry through the Civil War.

    James Bolin died on June 18, 1939. Helen Viola Jackson never Jackson never claimed his pension and she also never remarried.

    You can read more in an article by Joelle Goldstein in an article published in the website at:

  • 6 Jan 2021 10:32 AM | Anonymous

    And now for something completely different...

    This announcement appears to have little to do with genealogy except that the fact that genealogy powerhouse MyHeritage is sponsoring a world-famous automobile, truck, and motorcycle race. (The same company also sponsors this not-so-world-famous genealogy newsletter.) The cross-country race will take place over 12 days in Saudi Arabia. 

    Here is the announcement:

    LEHI, Utah--As the international market leader for exploring family history and finding relatives, MyHeritage develops innovative search and matching technologies and has a global database of historical records to help millions of people connect to their family history. Sponsoring a team led by a father-son duo is par for the course for MyHeritage. The company has a long history of partnering with top athletes, sports teams, and cultural figures to reveal their family history, forge connections with their relatives, and underscore the importance of knowing one’s roots.

    Danny and Omer Pearl founded the Pearl Racing Team out of their passion for motorsports. The team has competed for many years in the SSV category, racing in numerous international competitions.

    The Dakar Rally is considered the toughest and most grueling off-road competition in the world. This is the second year the competition is being held in Saudi Arabia, following its relocation from South America, where it was held for the last decade. The race spans more than 7,000 kilometers and 12 days over the challenging and beautiful Saudi terrain. This year’s race departed from Jeddah and will traverse the entire Arabian desert in a circular course. Each day the team will navigate under the most extreme conditions, using a Road Book produced by the rally organizer.

    “As leaders in the field of exploring and discovering family history, we are thrilled to support a team that includes a father and son who are competing in one of the world’s most difficult competitions,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “Particularly during these challenging times, we appreciate the significance of supporting family members coming together in bold and creative ways, working as a team to achieve the impossible. Just like the Dakar, family history can be an enjoyable and adventurous journey.”

    “It is with great pride and excitement that we enter this legendary race,” said Omer Pearl. “We believe that determination and perseverance yield results, and our family bond is one of the driving forces behind our success. We hope that our efforts will inspire more families to team up and work together to pursue their dreams.”

    The Dakar Rally is taking place between January 3–15, 2021.

    About MyHeritage

    MyHeritage is the leading global discovery platform for exploring family history. With billions of historical records and family tree profiles, and with sophisticated matching technologies that work across all its assets, MyHeritage allows users to discover their past and empower their future.

    Launched in 2016, MyHeritage DNA has become one of the world’s largest consumer DNA databases, with more than 4.6 million customers. Since 2020, MyHeritage is home to the world’s best technologies for enhancing and colorizing historical photos. MyHeritage is the most popular DNA test and family history service in Europe., the leading global platform for discovering your past and empowering your future, announced today that it is sponsoring a racing team in the 2021 Dakar Rally — the elite off-road endurance competition currently taking place in Saudi Arabia. The MyHeritage team comprises driver Danny Pearl, a veteran of off-road racing, and navigator Charly Gotlib, who has participated in the Dakar Rally more than 30 times over the years, and has received an honorary distinction of Dakar Legend from the race organizers. The team is managed by Omer Pearl, Danny’s son. In recent years, Omer has managed the Pearl Racing Team in different competitions around the world. The team is named the MyHeritage Team and is competing in the Dakar’s Lightweight Vehicle category.

  • 5 Jan 2021 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    About a third of all cancer cases can be blamed on inherited genes, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It’s the biggest and longest study yet done to examine the family links to cancer and it finds that certain types of cancer seem to have very strong genetic links — testicular cancer and melanoma, especially.

    The overall findings are not a big surprise. They support earlier findings that show about a third of all cancer cases can be blamed on faulty genes. Most of the rest are due to so-called lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and lack of exercise.

    Details may be found in an article by Maggie Fox published by NBC News at

  • 5 Jan 2021 3:40 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

    We are pleased to announce the publication of two important collections from the French department of Nord: Nord Civil Births, 1820–1915 and Nord Civil Deaths, 1820–1935. The collections together comprise 13.7 million historical records and feature a detailed searchable index that is only available on MyHeritage.

    The French Republic began collecting civil vital records in 1792, the very same year the new republic was declared. In August 2019, we released the France, Nord Civil Marriages, 17921937, a collection of 5.4 million marriage records. Our two latest collections, Nord Civil Births, 1820–1915 and Nord Civil Deaths, 1820–1935 complete our set of vital record collections from Nord during this period in French history, and together comprise 19.1 million records. If you have family from the department of Nord, the most populous department in France, these collections are sure to provide you with a wealth of information on your French ancestors.

    Here are more details about each of the new Nord collections.

    France, Nord Civil Births, 18201915

    This collection of 6.7 million records consists of civil births in Nord from 1820 to 1915. While other sites may have similar data listing the name of the child and the event date, the MyHeritage collection uniquely includes the birthplace, as well as the names of both parents, including the mother’s maiden surname.

    Births were usually recorded by the child’s father a few days after the child’s birth. If the father was absent, a relative or friend typically registered the birth in place of the father. Marginal notes may be found if a correction was made for an illegitimate child. If a child died at birth, you might only find them in the death registers instead of in the birth registers.

    Search France, Nord Civil Births, 18201915

    France, Nord Civil Deaths, 18201935

    This collection of 6.9 million records consists of civil deaths from the French department of Nord from 1820 to 1935. Like Nord Civil Births, 1820–1915, the MyHeritage index for Nord Civil Deaths, 1820–1935 features additional details not found in other indexes. In addition to the name of the deceased and the date of death, the collection includes the birth date, birthplace, and the names of the parents and the spouse when applicable. 

    Deaths were usually recorded within a day or two of the passing in the same town or city where the person died. Typically, these records will have two secondary individuals mentioned, with at least one of them being a close relative of the descendant.

    The collection also includes records of untimely deaths such as stillborns and the deaths of soldiers, though these records should be read with some caution. Because the records were subject to the details the informant provided, which was sometimes a few years after the death event, these records can contain some misinformation.

    Search France, Nord Civil Deaths, 18201935


    The new Nord Civil Births, 18201915 and France, Nord Civil Deaths, 18201935 alongside the previously published Nord Civil Marriages, 17921937 provide new avenues of information for those seeking to learn about their French heritage. The Nord collections on MyHeritage are the best you will find on any website.

    Searching the Nord collections on MyHeritage is completely free. If you have a family tree on MyHeritage, our Record Matching technology will notify you automatically if records from these collections match your relatives. To view these records or to save records to your family tree, you’ll need a Data or Complete plan.

  • 5 Jan 2021 3:05 PM | Anonymous

    The following is an excerpt from a very long announcement written by FamilySearch:

    Check out this week on FamilySearch 8M new parish and civil registrations for Isere, France (1540–1900), 2M Catholic Church records for North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (1580–1975), 350K Borough (1519–1905) and Tax and Valuation records (1897–1949) for Devon, Plymouth, England; plus additions to collections for Brazil, PeruS. Africa, and the United States (California, Maryland, MississippiWashington) US Bureau of Land Management Tract Books (1800–c.1955). 

    The full announcement is too long to be published here. However, you can read the full announcement at: or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

  • 5 Jan 2021 2:38 PM | Anonymous

    The following was first published in the IAJGS Records Access Alert mailing list and is republished here with permission:

    The IAJGS Records Access Alert previously informed its readers that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) approved closing its facility in Seattle—without any public input. The sale is  due to the recommendation for sale by the Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB) and approved the sale by the Office of Management and Budget. See: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the PBRB will offer the buildings early this year for an expedited sale in a single portfolio. 

    As reported by ABC News, Washington, Oregon and two dozen Native American and Alaska Native tribes and cultural groups are suing the federal government to stop the sale of the National Archives building in Seattle. The sale would force the relocation of invaluable historical records thousands of miles away—to Riverside, California and Kansas City, Missouri.

    The PBRB is selling the property under a law aimed at unloading excess federal property. The lawsuit disputes that contention saying the building is anything but excess. The documents included in the building are used for research from everything from tribal history to Japanese internment during World War ll and fur seal hunts on remote Alaskan islands.  While the federal government says they will digitize many of the items that could take excessively long periods as these documents are not currently digitized. 

    The sale is opposed by all 8 US Senators and many US Representatives from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State. 

    For more information see:

    Thank you to Barbara J. Mathews, CG CG, FASG, President of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council for sharing the article.

    To read the previous IAJGS Records Access Alert postings about the Seattle, WA NARA Building pending sale and removal of documents to 1,000 miles and more away, go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at:  You must be registered to access the archives. To register for the IAJGS Records Access Alert go to:  You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized. It is required to include your organization affiliation (genealogy organization, etc.)

    Jan Meisels Allen

    Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

  • 4 Jan 2021 12:58 PM | Anonymous

    FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in December of 2020 with over 28 million new indexed family history records from all over the world. New historical records were added from Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Guatemala, Kiribati, Mexico, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Samoa, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Zambia, and the United States, which includes  Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

    Find your ancestors using these free archives online, including birth, marriage, death, and church records. Millions of new genealogy records are added each month to make your search easier.

    The full list is very long, too long to publish here. You can find the full list at:

    Don’t see what you’re looking for? Check back next month and, in the meantime, search existing records on FamilySearch.

  • 4 Jan 2021 12:50 PM | Anonymous

    Since 2008, GenSoftReviews has had users write 5,874 reviews for the 1,041 different genealogy-based programs listed at the site. Every year, the reviews are summarized and published online. While somewhat unscientific, the result is a list of the genealogy programs that others are using and an analysis of which ones were the higher-rated programs.

    NOTE: The word "programs" includes the cloud-based programs including: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding© ("TNG"), Genealogie Online, GedSite, and others.

    As written in the summation, "The goal of GenSoftReviews is to encourage developers to build genealogy software that their users like. Congratulations to the award winners. You have a majority of users who are willing to praise you for your software."

    You can find the 2020 GenSoftReviews Users Choice Awards at and many details of the programs listed at

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