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  • 26 Jul 2021 12:09 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by the Israel Genealogy Research Association:

    Jerusalem, July 25, 2021

    In 2012 the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) took it upon itself, to prepare databases from materials available in Israel that include the Ottoman period through the early years of the State of Israel to be accessible on our website. In 2019 IGRA decided to widen its focus to include materials of genealogical interest for North African Jewish communities, and the Jewish communities in countries of the Middle East such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and others. That additional material will be mainly based on materials in archives in Israel such as the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP), the Central Zionist Archives (CZA), the Council of the Sephardi and Oriental Communities of Jerusalem (part of the Jerusalem Municipal Archives), the National Library of Israel, the Historical Archive of Rehovot, Yad Ben-Zvi, the Montefiore Endowment in London, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and databases donated by Jeff Malka from SephardicGen, Dov Cohen, Nagi Georges Zeidan, and Sarina Roffe.

    Over 100 volunteers have worked on this collection in the last 10 years. Most volunteers have worked on transcription, and some have worked on proofing, transliteration, and scanning. We thank them all for the time they have devoted.

    A small part of the IGRA collection has come to us through private donations from people who have prepared the files for their own use. Our latest contribution was found in the FDR library. It was a list of people in the United States applying to the British Mandate government to grant certificates for people in Hungary to immigrate to Palestine. The list was dated 1944.

    IGRA has material from more than 60 archives and libraries around the world. The list can be seen here: Our collection has been tagged as belonging to 15 different types, enabling the researcher to choose the types of material relevant to his/her search. Only after you have searched for a name, will the website show the types of records the collection has for that name. The following chart is of the types of records in the collection as of June 2021.

    On the side of IGRA's All Israel Database page, there are various filters allowing you to focus on specific parts of the collection. They are to be used after you have done your search by name. The filters are:

    • Record Type
    • Top Surnames in Your Search (limited to 10),
    • Top Given Names in Your Search (limited to 10),
    • Filter by Localities in Israel,
    • Filter by Countries (in those cases where the file deals with people outside of Israel),
    • Filter by Record Years (The materials of the last 70 years can only be included if they have been made public),
    • Filter by Record Sources,
    • Filter by Record Repositories,
    • Filter by Record Databases

    IGRA does its outmost to allow the material to be searched both in Hebrew and English. Our search engine allows you to search either with exact results or phonetic matches. The rules of transliteration we follow may not always show the name as you think the names of the person were spelled. It is best to search in both Hebrew and English.

    You can begin your search after registering to the website. Use of the search engine registering to the website is free, but details and available scans can only be seen if you have a paid subscription.


  • 23 Jul 2021 5:46 PM | Anonymous

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

    Warning: This article contains personal opinions.

    I was surprised and a bit dismayed this week when I read about the discovery of a lot of old records at a county courthouse. Local archivists spent thousands of hours sorting, filing, and organizing the documents. They repaired damaged documents and worked hard to preserve all the documents for examination by future historians, genealogists, social scientists, deed searchers, and others.

    Such efforts are commendable. A handful of people labored intensely so that many others will be served in the future. Then I read one more line: the archivists also microfilmed the records. Microfilmed? My heart sunk. Hey folks, this is the twenty-first century!

    Microfilm is so “nineteen eighties.” Today we have better and cheaper methods that will serve many more people.

    In case you haven’t noticed, microfilm is disappearing. In fact, it is almost impossible to purchase a new microfilm camera today, and microfilm readers are slowly disappearing. What’s more, the parts and expertise to repair that equipment are costly when you can find them. I expect that we will have microfilm readers available in libraries for another ten years or so as usage dwindles and the equipment wears out. Eventually, such readers will be available only in (a few) museums.

    Even worse, who has a microfilm reader in their home these days? How will future genealogists and others access these records? They will need to travel cross country at great expense to examine the originals in person. While microfilms may exist, nobody will be able use them.

    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/10770749.

    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 Jul 2021 5:22 PM | Anonymous

    I had to smile a bit today when reading an article in the Boston Globe about the "problem" of incomplete birth certificates. It seems the city of Boston has many birth records from years ago where the baby's name is simply recorded as “baby girl” or “baby boy.” The reporter wrote, "A generation ago — when more families had six or more children — babies without official first names were surprisingly common. Overwhelmed new parents would leave the hospital without completing birth certificate paperwork."

    You can read more in an older article by Andrew Ryan in the Boston Globe at: The same article tells how to amend a record and add a first name by providing documentation.

    Actually, the "problem" is not unique to Boston nor to any particular area of the United States. An experienced genealogist probably can tell you of numerous other, similar examples. I have seen it many times, especially in the case of my mother and her siblings.

    My mother’s birth record at the town clerk’s office in Ashland, Maine, records her first name as “baby girl.” All of her older brothers and sisters in the family were recorded as “baby girl” or “baby boy.” However, the younger siblings (of the 16 children) are recorded with their correct first names. The same is true for many, many other families in the same town, recorded in the same records.

    When my mother had to obtain her first Social Security card, it was a minor problem. Since there was no birth record showing her true first name, she had to get affidavits from several people who remembered the event. That wasn’t hard for her as her mother (my grandmother) was still alive at the time and she gladly submitted an affidavit saying that she remembered the event well! Apparently, all of my mother's older brothers and sisters had to do the same when they applied for Social Security cards.

    I have heard a number of different stories about why this practice was common and some of those stories contradict the other stories. As a result, I don’t know what the truth is except that, after reading the town clerk’s records and the records of other town clerks in the area, I do know it was a common practice in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Boston officials estimated that in the 1950s, roughly 1 of every 25 birth certificates lacked a first name.

    I will disagree with one statement in Andrew Ryan's article in the Boston Globe: "Overwhelmed new parents would leave the hospital without completing birth certificate paperwork." In the case of my mother, her siblings, and my grandmother, there was no hospital involved. The nearest hospital was more than 20 miles away, a difficult trip at any time of the year and impossible during the winters in northern Maine where 3 or 4 feet of snow was common and the (dirt) roads were never plowed in the winter. (My mother was born in late March when show in northern Maine was still 3 or 4 feet deep on the unplowed roads.)

    My grandmother gave birth to all 16 of her children at home. I suspect many of your ancestors did the same.

  • 23 Jul 2021 4:59 PM | Anonymous

    My grandfather owned a horse and a farm wagon, roughly the 1890s equivalent of the pickup truck of today. He traveled around the farming village where he lived at 3 or 4 miles per hour. When he needed to travel a longer distance, such as to the nearby city, he rode a train that reached speeds as high as 35 mph. Granddad never bought one of those new-fangled automobiles.

    My father was of “the modern generation.” His first car was a well-used Model A Ford, and he went on to own an assortment of Fords, Plymouths, DeSotos, and Dodges over the years. Oh yes, one year when he worked a lot of overtime in the local factory, he bought a Cadillac. He drove most everywhere he wanted to go. He drove 50 or 60 miles an hour most everywhere. I don’t remember him ever taking a train.

    Of course, I am of a still more “modern age,” and I love sports cars. I have owned a number of them, and I presently own a Corvette that is fast. Very fast. I am told it will travel 195 miles per hour although I cannot vouch for that from experience. Prior to that automobile, I owned others capable of similar speeds.

    I used to commute to the city every day and sometimes drove a very powerful and very fast sports car to work every day, traveling down the local superhighway during the height of the rush hour. Many times I averaged 3 or 4 miles an hour for extended periods of time. The traffic into and out of the city often crawls at that speed for hours.

    Driving a 6-speed manual transmission isn't much fun in stop-and-go traffic. I eventually gave up on driving the car to work. I started taking the train. The local commuter rail averages 35 mph on a daily commute.

    I am more like my grandfather than I want to be.

    Recently a researcher compared the travel times in the city of London through the years. He noticed that the amount of time it took to go from point A to point B in horse-and-buggy days was the same as it was after automobiles became common. Then he noticed that the time required today to travel the same routes is actually worse during rush hour than it was in horse-and-buggy days.

    Newer and more efficient mechanisms attract throngs of people who then clog the system. The results nullify the improvements. The large amount of horse manure in the streets has been replaced by airborne hydrocarbons; both are unwanted byproducts of our transportation systems of the day.

    Are we really better off?

  • 23 Jul 2021 4:44 PM | Anonymous

    Thanks to the permanence of stone tablets, ancient books and messages carved into the very walls of buildings by our ancestors, there’s a bias in our culture towards assuming that the written word is by definition enduring. We quote remarks made centuries ago often because someone wrote them down – and kept the copies safe. But in digital form, the written word is little more than a projection of light onto a screen. As soon as the light goes out, it might not come back.

    "How would you adjust your efforts to preserve digital data that belongs to you – emails, text messages, photos and documents – if you knew it would soon get wiped in a series of devastating electrical storms?

    "That’s the future catastrophe imagined by Susan Donovan, a high school teacher and science fiction writer based in New York. In her self-published story New York Hypogeographies, she describes a future in which vast amounts of data get deleted thanks to electrical disturbances in the year 2250.

    "In the years afterwards, archaeologists comb through ruined city apartments looking for artefacts from the past – the early 2000s.

    “I was thinking about, ‘How would it change people going through an event where all of your digital stuff is just gone?’” she says.

    "In her story, the catastrophic data loss is not a world-ending event. But it is a hugely disruptive one. And it prompts a change in how people preserve important data. The storms bring a renaissance of printing, Donovan writes. But people are also left wondering how to store things that can’t be printed – augmented reality games, for instance."

    You can read more about the dangers of losing current information in an article by Chris Baraniuk and published in the BBC web site at:

  • 23 Jul 2021 3:42 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    Findmypast Friday: new records from Scotland, Australia & Canada

    Search new Scottish deaths & burials, Australian passenger lists, Canadian black history records and a huge updates to our collection of historical newspapers.

    Does your family tree have roots in Scotland, Ireland or Australia? Dig deeper with thousands of new records and newspapers that could reveal valuable details about the lives of your ancestors.

    Scotland, Modern and Civil Deaths & Burials 1855-2021

    Do you have relatives that died in Scotland? Search over 62,000 new additions to discover the details of their death, burial, residence, occupation and next of kin in this growing national collection.

    Now containing over 3.3 million records, this vast collection has been compiled from a number of sources, including local government burial indexes held by various councils and archives, volunteer & local family history society transcriptions, modern records of funeral homes and civil registers.

    Australia, Inward, Outward & Coastal Passenger Lists 1826-1972

    Discover your ancestors' immigration to Australia and their travel with over 25,000 new additions to a collection of passenger lists and migration records that contain movement to, from and around the country.

    Each record includes a transcript and many also include an image of the original record. Passenger lists vary widely in size, length, and level of detail, as there was no standardised format. Some record only a minimum of information about the passengers, while others are quite detailed.

    Canada, Black Nova Scotians 1784-1837

    Search for Black and mixed race ancestors in this new collection from the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia.

    The records are varied and naturally give varying amounts of information, depending upon who created them and for what purpose, and relate to this Black history in all its complexity. You will find individuals who escaped slavery in South Carolina and Virginia, but also the slaves of British Loyalists. You will find those who merely passed through, living their lives for a few years before moving on elsewhere.


    Findmypast's newspaper collection continues to grow. This week's massive update sees one brand new paper, the Newark Herald (1873-1949), join the archive while updates have been made to 48 existing titles, including;


  • 22 Jul 2021 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    The Social Security Administration's Death Index (SSDI) can be a boon to beginning genealogists. The Social Security number is the most valuable piece of information when seeking a number of other documents. It is essential for ordering paper copies of original death records, obituaries, and more. The SSDI is the first step in obtaining this information.

    The Social Security Death Records information has not been updated for several years. However, the majority of genealogists are looking for information about people who passed away several years ago so that lack of current entries is usually not a huge drawback.

    If you can only trace your U.S. ancestry back to your grandparents or possibly great-grandparents, the Social Security Administration can help you find where they were born, the names of their parents, and more. The SSDI can be especially helpful for those researching immigrants as the data often shows where the individual was born in "the old country." Sometimes it will show the exact location of the town or a country that no longer exists, although that is not guaranteed.

    The Social Security Administration was created by an act of law in 1935 as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal program. The act laid out a retirement system for many Americans, although not all. The act also created a new governmental agency to manage the program. The Social Security Administration has since become one of the largest agencies in the U.S. Federal Government.

    The Social Security Administration's Death Index (SSDI) originally was a database of deceased persons who received Social Security Benefits. The Social Security Administration started computerizing records in 1962. This made it possible to produce an index of people who had Social Security numbers and are deceased. Most death records prior to 1962 were never computerized and therefore do not appear in the SSDI although a few exceptions do exist. Some online Web sites advertise that the data they possess will contain information about deaths "as early as 1937," but that claim is a bit misleading; 99.9% of the information is for 1962 and later.

    Initially, the Social Security Administration only recorded the deaths of individuals who were receiving retirement benefits from the Administration. Those who died before reaching retirement age were not listed. Neither were those who had different retirement systems, such as railroad workers, school teachers, and other municipal, state, and federal employees. In the 1970s the railroad and many other retirement systems were merged into the Social Security system. Deaths of those retirees then started appearing in the SSDI.

    In the late 1980s and after, all deaths in the U.S. were reported to the Social Security Administration and recorded in the SSDI. You can find deaths of children and non-retired adults listed for the 1990s and later, but not for earlier years.

    Because legal aliens in the U.S. can obtain a Social Security card, their names may appear in the SSDI if their deaths were reported, even if the death occurred overseas.

    The online SSDI databases contain the following information fields:

    Social Security number


    Given Name

    Date of Death

    Date of Birth

    Last Known Residence

    Location of Last Benefit

    Date and Place of Issuance

    You can access the Social Security Death Index at no charge on a number of Web sites, including the following:

    New England Historic Genealogical Society

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) offer the Social Security Death Index on their popular Family Search site at

    Keep in mind, however, that the online SSDI database is only an index -- an abbreviated listing. The Social Security Administration holds additional information that can be a genealogical jackpot. The index listing of an ancestor is merely your ticket to this jackpot.

    From 1936 on, anyone who has applied for a Social Security Card filled out an application form (SS-5) that the U.S. Government keeps on file. This application form (SS-5) contains the following information:

    Full name

    *Full name at birth (including maiden name)

    *Present mailing address

    Age at last birthday

    Date of birth

    *Place of birth (city, county, state)

    *Father's full name "regardless of whether living or dead"

    *Mother's full name, including maiden name, "regardless of whether living or dead"

    *Sex and race

    *Ever applied for SS number/Railroad Retirement before? Yes/No

    *Current employer's name and address

    *Date signed

    *Applicant's signature

    The items marked with an asterisk are not available in the online SSDI database but are available in the original SS-5 applications.

    The SS-5 form is obviously much more valuable to the genealogist than the limited information shown in the online death index. The Social Security Administration can supply photocopies of the original Social Security application form (the SS-5) to anyone who requests information on a deceased individual. You can obtain a photocopy of the SS-5 form by writing to the Social Security Administration.

    The SSA charges $21 for each individual SS-5 copy if you can provide the Social Security number of the deceased person, $29 if you cannot provide the number. (A computer extract is available for $16, but those extracts do not include the names of the individual's parents nor the place of birth.) The SSA is not in the business of doing genealogical research and cannot, by law, expend Social Security Trust Fund money for purposes not related to the operation of the Social Security program. The $21 fee is intended to offset the cost to the government whenever SSA provides information from its files for non-program purposes.

    To obtain the photocopy of the original SS-5, you must fill out Form SSA-711, the "Request for Deceased Individual's Social Security Record," available at

    There is a fee of $21.00 U.S. for most records requests. Send your request and check to:

    Social Security Administration


    P.O. Box 33022

    Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022

    If you want to obtain the SS-5 forms for more than one person, it is suggested that you mail multiple forms individually (in different envelopes) and include separate checks. Be patient. You may have to wait several months for the response to your request(s).

    Social Security Numbers

    It is interesting to note that you can tell where a Social Security Number was issued simply by looking at the first few digits of the number. This does not tell where the person was born, only where he or she was living when the number was issued. Nonetheless, it can be a valuable clue as to where to look for additional information.

    The Social Security Account Number (SSAN) is divided into three sets of digits. For example, let’s take 123-45-6789. The 3 digits in the first group indicate the state or territory in which the number was originally issued. The second group of 2 numbers is used to define the people within the state. The third group of 4 digits is simply issued in numerical sequence.

    The following list shows the area indicated by first 3 digits:

    001-003 New Hampshire

    004-007 Maine

    008-009 Vermont

    010-034 Massachusetts

    035-039 Rhode Island

    040-049 Connecticut

    050-134 New York

    135-158 New Jersey

    159-211 Pennsylvania

    212-220 Maryland

    221-222 Delaware

    223-231 Virginia

    232-236 West Virginia

    237-246 North Carolina

    247-251 South Carolina

    252-260 Georgia

    261-267 Florida

    268-302 Ohio

    303-317 Indiana

    318-361 Illinois

    362-386 Michigan

    387-399 Wisconsin

    400-407 Kentucky

    408-415 Tennessee

    416-424 Alabama

    425-428 Mississippi

    429-432 Arkansas

    433-439 Louisiana

    440-448 Oklahoma

    449-467 Texas

    468-477 Minnesota

    478-485 Iowa

    486-500 Missouri

    501-502 North Dakota

    503-504 South Dakota

    505-508 Nebraska

    509-515 Kansas

    516-517 Montana

    518-519 Idaho

    520 Wyoming

    521-524 Colorado

    525 New Mexico (also 585 below)

    526-527 Arizona

    528-529 Utah

    530 Nevada

    531-539 Washington

    540-544 Oregon

    545-573 California

    574 Alaska

    575-576 Hawaii

    577-579 District of Columbia

    580 U.S. Virgin Islands

    581-585 Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa

    585 New Mexico (some 585 numbers)

    586-699 Unassigned

    700-729 Railroad Retirement Board

    730-899 Unassigned

    A few Social Security Numbers beginning with a 9 have been issued, but these are very rare.

    Whether you’re just getting starting on your family research or picking up on details of lines of descent, Social Security Death records can provide you with information and leads that speed and validate your findings.

  • 22 Jul 2021 4:57 PM | Anonymous

    Here is a tip for everyone who uses the World Wide Web: You can control font sizes.

    I often receive e-mail messages from readers stating that the fonts on or other web sites are too big or too small. As you surf the web, you will undoubtedly find some sites that have fonts too big or too small for your monitor.

    Are you aware that YOU control the font sizes as displayed on your screen?

    When I ask, I find that some people are using tablet computers with 5-inch display screens, others are using14-inch monitors, still others are using 32-inch monitors, and still others use everything in between as well. Resolution sizes vary from 800-by-600 pixels to very high resolutions. No wonder these folks have problems with fonts; there are so many different monitors and video cards in use.

    Font sizes specified by web designers are only the default values. The default values are compromises as it is impossible to select one size of font that is appropriate for all sizes of monitors, all resolutions, and the vision preferences of all users. In all cases, YOU are the one who has the final control of the font sizes displayed on your monitor.

    For the majority of Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, Linux, and other computers, to INCREASE the font size, hold down the CONTROL key (Macintosh users hold down the COMMAND KEY) and then press the PLUS Key. Press the Plus key more than once to increase the font size more than once.

    For the majority of computers, to DECREASE the font size, hold down the CONTROL key (Macintosh users hold down the COMMAND KEY) and then press the MINUS Key. Press the Minus key more than once to decrease the font size more than once.

    This works on the majority of web browsers but it is always possible that the web browser installed in your computer might be an exception. Check the documentation (help files) to see what the keystrokes are for your web browser.

  • 21 Jul 2021 3:22 PM | Anonymous

    University of New Orleans history professor Mary Niall Mitchell is collaborating with New Orleans public school teachers, museum directors and other community leaders to develop a K-12 curriculum using Freedom on the Move’s (FOTM) database of advertisements seeking runaway enslaved people.

    University of New Orleans history professor Mary Niall Mitchell is a lead historian for the digital database Freedom on the Move and director of the Midlo Center for New Orleans Study at UNO.

    The digital database, which Mitchell is a lead historian, is the largest digital collection of newspaper advertisements for people escaping from North American slavery. Culled from 18th- and 19th-century U.S. newspapers, the ads, placed by enslavers, are used to document the lives of people escaping bondage.

    The goal of the public engagement history pilot program, according to FOTM historians, is to take learning “into the streets, to help students engage with the histories of enslaved people that can be tied to both the environment and the particular topography of the city of New Orleans and its environs.”

    Following classroom instruction students will explore New Orleans and the region to visualize the social, spatial and cultural histories of enslaved people and then develop their own public-facing projects, including maps, visual art, spoken word, digital and video pieces.

    FOTM received a nearly $150,000 grant in May from The National Historical Publications and Records Commission, an arm of The National Archives, to create a pilot program that could be replicated nationally.

    With cost sharing from UNO and its partners, the pilot engagement program is a $300,000 project, said Mitchell, who is also director of the Midlo Center for New Orleans Study at UNO. The Midlo Center is administering the grant.

    The pilot program is expected start in the fall of 2021 with professional development training.

    The collaboration brings together historians, curriculum innovators, teachers, museum professionals and urban planners with the support of the Midlo Center, community spaces and artists.

    Each of the groups will play a vital role in helping students engage with the advertisements in the FOTM databases and the stories of enslaved people that it contains.

    You can read more in an announcement published in the University of New Orleans web site at:

  • 21 Jul 2021 3:09 PM | Anonymous

    Several times a year for almost three decades, D.C. resident Calvin Osborne has suited up in a Civil War uniform to reenact the stories of Black soldiers who fought for the abolition of slavery.

    Ever since he saw the 1989 movie “Glory,” about one of the Union Army’s first Black regiments, Osborne said he has felt a calling to honor Civil War troops of color.

    “That movie shook my soul,” said Osborne, 59, who is the associate director of the D.C. Office of Federal and Regional Affairs. “Until that time, I didn’t know that Black soldiers had fought for their own freedom.”

    Osborne joined the District’s Black Civil War reenactment group, Company B, and is now president of the volunteer organization. He said he has found purpose in researching the lives of Black Civil War soldiers, most of whom were once enslaved.

    But then last year, he found out about an even more personal connection to the Civil War: He learned his great-great-grandfather, William Lacy, had escaped slavery at age 14, then fought in the Civil War.

    You can read more in an article by Cathy Free published in the Washington Post at:

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

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