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  • 18 Nov 2020 9:40 PM | Anonymous

    I'd like to let you know that you might not see new articles every day in this newsletter for a couple of weeks. I am traveling off to visit relatives over the Thanksgiving holiday. It will be an extended stay: I am leaving about a week early and will be staying a week after the holiday on November 26.

    A part of the time I will be in the north woods of Maine at a cabin that is not too far from the border with Quebec province. The cabin is some distance from the nearest paved road and is missing some of the conveniences we normally expect these days: no electricity, no running water, and no central heating. No, there isn't even a thermostat on the wall. I am also told that cellular phone coverage is not reliable there so I may really be incommunicado for a few days.

    In other words, it is similar to the house where I grew up in central Maine.

    Even the Thanksgiving dinner will be similar to what some of our ancestors enjoyed: cooked in a wood-burning stove. This should be interesting!

    I will only be in the cabin for a few days but will escape to a modern home with modern conveniences for the rest of my stay.

    I will be traveling with a laptop computer so most days I should be able to connect to the internet and perform business as usual. There probably will be exceptions for a few days, however.

  • 18 Nov 2020 8:33 PM | Anonymous

    The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

    Two Revolutionary War Privateers. (St. Paul, Minn.: Two Trees Roots.) 2019. 412 pages.

    Here is the Revolutionary War as experienced by two brothers, Ship Captains William and Joseph Packwood, patriots who commandeered their sailing ships across trade routes running out from the American Colonies to the centers of commerce on the Caribbean Islands. Their ships carried goods including arms and gunpowder, war materiel that was distributed into the armies of George Washington in support of the cause of rebellion.

    The authors accessed and read an extensive archive of original letters written by the Packwood captains that give account of their businesses, daily activities, events of the day, and their families. The authors transcribed the letters in their original style, then wrote transliterations. There are numerous maps, illustrations, and photos accompanying the texts, and a glossary and index.

    The book begins with background information about the American Revolution and the private citizens whose pirating naval activities, as commissioned and authorized by the Second Continental Congress, harassed the British Navy in aid to the patriotic cause. As British commercial shipping was effectively disrupted, the privateers recovered fortunes that helped finance the revolution.

    The Packwood brothers lived and sailed out of New London, Connecticut, a deep-water port situated near enough to New York City to attack British headquarters. Beginning chapters outline the genealogies of Captains William and Joseph Packwood, and offer brief biographies of key individuals.

    The authors intersperse the letter examples with descriptions of contemporary events making it easy to understand the Packwood events within the broader picture of New England history.

    It’s an interesting, well-written book, flawless in its documentation, and certainly of interest to a New England history buff.

    And especially of interest to the Packwoods, to hear the voices of their ancestors coming through the letters.

    Two Revolutionary War Privateers may be purchased from the authors at

  • 18 Nov 2020 8:00 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by the State Archives of North Carolina:

    The State Archives of North Carolina is excited to announce a new way to browse our digital collections – through a tool called CollectionBuilder. You can view our pilot project, a digital collection titled She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers, by following this link:  

    CollectionBuilder is exciting because it allows us to take items that were already digitized and living in the North Carolina Digital Collections (NCDC) and present them to you in new ways. Our She Changed the World pilot project pulls from various digital collections and includes state publications, photographs, letters, oral histories, posters, and more all relating to the subject of women’s history in North Carolina. Think of it almost like a digital exhibit, using a curated selection of records from our collections to highlight a specific topic. In this case, our topic is NC women’s history in support of the DNCR initiative She Changed the World

    An example of an item page in our She Changed the World collection pilot project using CollectionBuilder. 

    While NCDC is great simply because of the sheer amount of material it contains (over 90,000 items!), we know it can also be overwhelming to navigate when you are searching for a specific subject across our many digital collections. It is our hope that we can create more CollectionBuilder exhibits about a variety of topics to help you discover relevant materials quickly and easily. Within the site itself, you can browse items randomly or search through them by subject, location, or timeframe. Just use the black bar at the top of the page to choose a different way to browse.  

    Use the black bar at the top of the page to choose different ways to browse items – in this case, we are looking at a word cloud of subject terms. 

    This project was completed in collaboration by the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina. The CollectionBuilder platform was developed by faculty librarians at the University of Idaho Library, and we couldn’t have gotten our project up and running without their help. If you have any feedback or questions about this collection or the platform, please drop us a line at  

  • 17 Nov 2020 8:24 PM | Anonymous

    In many shopping malls across America, you will see pushcart vendors selling reproductions of coats of arms, claiming to be the "proud history and heritage of your family name" or similar words. These merchants sell coats of arms on parchment paper, suitable for framing. They also may sell coats of arms on t-shirts, sweatshirts, golf jerseys, stationery, coffee mugs or even key chains.

    Similar "businesses" exist on the Web. A number of Web sites proclaim that they can sell you "authentic" copies of your family’s coat of arms. One Web site says, "What is your Name? What was it's origin? Was it taken from the name of a village? Was it taken from the Bible? A clan name? An Occupation? An ancient landmark? Who were your historical namesakes who bore your fine family name in the homeland of your ancestors?" Sometimes they also claim to sell "gifts of lasting heritage."

    I have one thing to say to these con artists: "Balderdash!"

    Actually, that’s not my first choice of response, but, after all, this is a family newsletter.

    The study of coats of arms is called heraldry. Those who control the issuance of arms are the heralds. Typically, each country in Western Europe as well as in England, Scotland, and Ireland has an office of the heralds, sometimes called the Kings of Arms. The heralds are empowered to decide who is authorized to display a certain coat of arms. If you do not have authorization from the heralds, you are not authorized to display any coat of arms. That authorization must be on paper, signed, and made out to you personally, not to your entire family and never to everyone of a certain surname.

    Most Americans seem ignorant of one very basic fact: in Western Europe and in the British Isles, there is no such thing as a "family coat of arms." A coat of arms is issued to one person, not to a family. After that person is deceased, his eldest heir may apply for the same coat of arms. Again, when he dies, his eldest heir may apply. The rules for determining who is eligible to display a coat of arms are very similar to the rules for becoming King or Queen of England. However, even the proper heir cannot display the coat of arms until he or she has received authorization (been confirmed) by the heralds. At any one time, only one person may rightfully display a coat of arms.

    According to the American College of Heraldry, "While Americans are usually fascinated by the beauty of heraldry, they are rarely familiar with its meaning and traditions and, therefore, often misunderstand and even abuse this rich cultural heritage. They seldom understand that a coat of arms is usually granted, certified, registered or otherwise recognized as belonging to one individual alone, and that only his direct descendants with proven lineage can be recognized as eligible to inherit the arms. Exceptions to this rule are rare."

    The American College of Heraldry also says, " It is highly inappropriate for one to locate the arms of another person sharing the same surname, and to simply adopt and use these arms as one's own." My interpretation of this is that, if you are displaying an unauthorized coat of arms, you are impersonating someone else.

    You can read more on the American College of Heraldry web site at

    The College of Arms in England (the heralds for English, Welsh, Northern Irish, and Commonwealth families) says (at, "There is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.

    Despite these warnings, many vendors are making money by preying on Americans’ ignorance of the topic. The pushcarts you see in shopping malls typically are franchise operations. One pushcart owner told me that he paid $6,000 for a "franchise" to sell this stuff. The so-called franchise did not include a protected territory; another franchisee was free to set up business in the same area. For the $6,000 investment, the franchisee receives a computer with a database containing thousands of surnames and so-called "family coats of arms," a high-quality printer, a supply of parchment paper (actually not parchment but simply paper that has been treated to look like parchment), and a supply of coffee cups, key chains and other paraphernalia. These franchisees reportedly receive no training in the study of heraldry. The ones I have talked to didn’t recognize the term "College of Arms."

    The Web sites aren’t much better. The ones I have looked at seem to have carefully-worded claims. Instead of saying, "your family’s coat of arms," they will say something like "your historical namesakes." Okay, "namesakes" doesn’t mean "ancestors," but it still will be misleading to many people. When a Web site proclaims, "your historical namesakes," most people will think that means "my family." However, if argued in court, the wording on the Web site would probably be considered correct. In short, I doubt if these companies will be shut down for misrepresenting their wares as they are very careful in their choice of words.

    The next time someone offers a copy of your "family’s coat of arms," ask them for the documentation. They won’t have any. If a friend of yours is displaying a coat of arms on his stationery or on his fireplace mantel, I suggest you simply walk away smiling. There’s no sense in upsetting a good friendship. But don’t be as gullible as your friend. And please, please do not display your "family’s coat of arms" on your genealogy Web site unless you have been confirmed by the heralds, Okay?

    If you would like to learn more about the serious study of heraldry and any rights you might have to display coats of arms, there are a number of Web sites devoted to the truth. Here is a short list of some of the more reputable ones:

    The Augustan Society at:

    The American College of Heraldry at:

    The Baronage Press at:

    British Heraldry: and especially the article on "Regulation of Heraldry in England" at

    The College of Arms (the official repository of the coats of arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families and their descendants) at:

    None of the above sell printouts on parchment paper, t-shirts or key chains. Some of them do sell books and magazines devoted to the study of heraldry, however.

    Anyone who claims to sell "your family coat of arms" is a rip-off.

  • 17 Nov 2020 10:20 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

    FamilySearch added millions of Massachusetts Vital and Town Records 1626–2001, Ohio Grave Registrations (for soldiers) 1810–1955,  Iowa County Deaths 1880–1992, plus indexes for Rhode Island births / deaths from 1639–1900, while expanding United States collections for CA, CT, IA, MD, MS, NC, OH, TX, VA, and WA. Country collections added 2.3M records for Canada, England, FijiFinland, Germany, Guatemala, Mexico, Norway, Peru, and the UK. Discover your family connections for free at

    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 full list of all the newly-added digital records is very long, too long to fit here. However, you can see the list of this week's updates at:

  • 16 Nov 2020 11:27 AM | Anonymous

    Just in time for the holidays, MyHeritage has just announced the launch of the new MyHeritage gift memberships.

    You can now give someone special the MyHeritage Complete plan, the company's best plan for family history research. To celebrate the launch, gift memberships are now available with a 50% introductory discount.

    With many people spending more time at home and looking for meaningful activities to enjoy, the MyHeritage gift membership makes the perfect holiday gift and is sure to delight a dear family member or close friend.

    The gift membership provides access to all features and all 12.7 billion historical records on MyHeritage.

    What’s included?
    You can choose to give either a 1-year or 6-month gift membership. Gift memberships are one-time and do not renew.

    The gift membership includes the following benefits of the Complete plan:

    • Unlimited family tree size and unlimited photo storage
    • Access to MyHeritage’s 12.7 billion historical records
    • Automatic Record Matches for the family tree
    • Automatic Smart Matches™ to millions of family trees
    • Instant Discoveries™ consisting of Person Discoveries and Photo Discoveries
    • Tree Consistency Checker that identifies mistakes and inconsistencies in the family tree
    • Unlimited use of MyHeritage In Color™ and the MyHeritage Photo Enhancer

    You can learn a lot more in an article in the MyHeritage Blog at: as well as in the video below:

  • 16 Nov 2020 11:16 AM | Anonymous

    US vice president-elect Kamala Harris’ ancestry is 50% from India, a fact that is well-known in the ISA. However, less well known is the possibility that president-elect has relatives in the same country.

    CAUTION: The relationship is not proven. It should be considered to be a POSSIBILITY, not a proven fact.

    A plaque commemorating 19th-century British ship captain Christopher Biden has become a popular selfie spot in the eastern city of Chennai since the US election, and a Biden family in western India says that it has become “exhausted” by calls since their namesake staked his claim to the White House.

    Joe Biden has well-documented Irish ancestry (see my earlier article at, but he also spoke of possible Indian connections on a trip to Mumbai in 2013 when he was vice president. Joe Biden said in a speech that he had received a letter from an Indian Biden after becoming a US senator in 1972, suggesting that they could be related.

    According to the Reverend J. George Stephen, the Bishop of Madras, "We’ve come to know the records of two Bidens — William Biden and Christopher Biden — who were brothers and became captains of the East India Co on merchant ships in the 19th century.”

    Stephen said that “while William Biden died at an early age, Christopher Biden went on to captain several ships and eventually settled down in Madras,” which is now known as Chennai.

    If Joe Biden does have an Indian ancestor, Christopher is considered the most likely candidate, said experts who have studied family records.

    There are also Bidens in Mumbai and Nagpur in Maharashtra state who could be descendants of Christopher Biden, one of eight children of a John Biden who could be the common link.

    You can learn more in a syndicated article from the AFP/India news agency at

  • 16 Nov 2020 11:15 AM | Anonymous
    The following announcement was written by Vivid-Pix:

    Vivid-Pix “Gathering Traditions” Shows How to Connect While Distant 

    Create Holiday & Reunion Time Capsules for Genealogy & Reminiscence

    Vivid-Pix BOGO Buy One/Gift One for Free Holiday Promo 

    Lets You Give the Gift of Restored Memories  

    Savannah, GA, November 10, 2020 – Vivid-Pix www.vivid-pix.comthe leading provider of AI-powered image restoration software, understands that Thanksgiving and the holidays are not going to be the same this year, with families and friends unable to get together or share holiday traditions physically due to CDC social distancing guidelines and travel quarantine restrictions. Vivid-Pix has an answer to help stay connected: hold these events virtually and create time capsules with Vivid-Pix’s “Gathering Traditions,” easy-to-implement tutorials at: to relive past holiday gatherings and for future reminiscing.  

    Vivid-Pix Educational Tutorials on Creating Time Capsules 

    Vivid-Pix Gathering Traditions online education teaches how to create holiday and reunion time capsules for genealogy and reminiscence at: Classes include step by step directions on: 

    • How to use Zoom.
    • How to record today’s feelings for tomorrow’s reminiscing.
    • How to share an image on Zoom and relive yesteryear’s fun and laughter.
    • Using Gallery View to capture togetherness conversations.
    • Using Speaker View to record individual feelings.
    • How to “interview” older family members to ensure involvement and engagement.
    • Fun activities for young and young at heart to enjoy remotely by Zoom or when physically together.
    • How to improve cherished photo memories.

    Vivid-Pix, Reunions Magazine, Dear Myrtle, and Kenyatta D. Berry, PBS Create Virtual Reunions and Time Capsule Education 

    Vivid-Pix is partnering with Kenyatta D. BerryReunions MagazineDearMYRTLE, and Cousin Russ to provide free, valuable how-to information.  “These tools will help families during the holidays and create time capsules for past and future connectedness,” said Rick Voight, CEO, Vivid-Pix. “By working with reunion and genealogy experts, this education series can be used for virtual reunions and gatherings, as well as creating genealogy interviews and capturing traditions to hand down to future generations.” 

    Perfect Time to Use Technology to Discover New Family Stories  

    As host of the Genealogy Roadshow on PBS, Kenyatta D. Berry has brought genealogy into the homes of millions. “Family stories and oral history is often critical and one of the most enjoyable parts of the genealogy journey. It’s important to interview older family members, close relatives, and family friends. While we are at home, this is a great time to use technology for these interviews, to discover new family stories and share photographs. I hope this education series inspires everyone to create their own time capsule,” described Kenyatta D. Berry.  

    DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ have helped genealogy societies, institutes, and individuals with their research journey through Zoom education. “During this time of social distancing, fun family stories and traditions can be shared and recorded via Zoom. Why not create virtual time capsules and save the recordings for future generations?” said Pat Richley-Erickson, DearMYRTLE. “Photographs, traditions, and reminiscing can be shared, so that these stories that might otherwise be lost can brighten our lives today and enrich the lives of future generations tomorrow.” 

    Discovering Your Roots Can Brighten the Holidays and Enrich Future Generations’ Lives 

    Edith Wagner, Reunions Magazine’s editor, has been on the frontline of countless events cancelled and postponed. She said, “Reunions and gatherings of all kinds have been upended this year and we don’t know how long it will last. Deprived of physical contact, reunions cleverly found a way to ‘gather’ on Zoom and now you, too, can learn these techniques to assemble your family or group in substitute reunions. Shaking hands, hugs, and kisses will have to wait, but smiles, laughter, and excitement don’t have to!”

    Vivid-Pix BOGO Buy One/Gift One for Free – Great Gift for the Holidays 

    In addition, in order to provide a fun holiday activity, relive past holiday memories, and provide a great gift for yourself and loved ones, Vivid-Pix is offering a Buy One/Gift One Promo for Vivid-Pix RESTORE photo and document restoration software. With a purchase of RESTORE Windows/Mac software for $49.99, Vivid-Pix will send a free gift coupon of the software so you can send to a friend or family member and together you can share the gift of memories for the holidays. For more information:  

    New Version of RESTORE Launched - AI Powered Vivid-Pix RESTORE Restoration Software Fixes Images with Just One Click 

    Vivid-Pix RESTORE patented AI software automatically restores faded old black and white, sepia, and color photos and documents; and provides image organization, editing, and saving. Now available, Vivid-Pix just launched a new version of RESTORE in September 2020 that improves a wider variety of image formats; metadata tagging for research, transcription, and sharing of family stories; and Crop/Recalculate to hone in on specific areas that need fixing – details essential for genealogists and family historians.  

    The U.S. Patent Office has awarded two patents to Vivid-Pix for its image processing techniques used to automatically correct images. The new version of Vivid-Pix RESTORE is available now for Mac and Windows for $49.99 at:  with a 10 Free-Fix Trial without a credit card required at: See Vivid-Pix RESTORE in action at: For more information, see the website at:

    About Vivid-Pix 

    Vivid-Pix was founded by Rick Voight and Randy Fredlund, who have a combined 47 years of experience from Eastman Kodak Co. They brought Kodak’s “You Press the Button, We Do the Rest” philosophy to the design of Vivid-Pix RESTORE AI software. For more info, see:

  • 16 Nov 2020 9:51 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was posted on the IAJGS Public Records Access List and is republished here with permission:

    The National Archives of Australia (  has signed contracts for the bulk digitization of more than 650,000 Second World war service records.

    This is a four-year $10 million (Australian) contract of which 220,000 have already been digitized.

    This project will ensure Australians can access almost one million of these records digitally by 2023.  This builds on the already digitized records of those who served in the First World War

    To search by name is not difficult. Enter the name and select either World War 1 or World War 11 in the category filter. The digitized item column will indicate if a digital copy of a service record is available.To learn more go to:

    Thank you to Gail Dever and her blog Genealogy à la carte for informing us about these newly digitized records.

    To read the previous postings about Australia’s National Archives go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at: You must be registered to access the archives.

     To register go to: 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

  • 16 Nov 2020 9:37 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by The Genealogy Guys:

    The Genealogy Guys Learn subscription education site is on sale from October 15 through December 31, 2020 for $69 for your first year's subscription (new members only). This is our lowest price of the year! 

    Genealogy Guys Learn currently offers 26 video and 26 written courses with new content added every month. Courses range from beginning to advanced topics. We also provide links to books and printed materials as well as links to helpful websites. (For a complete current list of courses, visit The Genealogy Guys Blog entry at dated November 15, 2020.)

    Learn from The Genealogy Guys, producers since 2005 of the longest-running genealogy podcast, expert researchers and presenters, and prolific authors!

    Our regular annual subscription is $99 and the sale price of $69 is a $30 savings! This sale is only in effect until 11:59 PM Eastern U.S. time on December 31, 2020. Take advantage of this great price by going to the website at, click the red Enroll Now box at the bottom of the screen, fill in the information requested, and add the code Holiday2020 for your discount. 

    Fill the coming year with new knowledge and make some great new discoveries!

    Happy Holidays!

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