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  • 23 Feb 2024 4:55 PM | Anonymous

    The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will host a panel discussion on “Artificial Intelligence: The Intersection of Public Access and Open Government'' Thursday, March 14, at 1 p.m. ET. This program is being offered during Sunshine Week, an annual nationwide celebration of access to public information.  The event will be in person at the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and livestreamed on the National Archives YouTube Channel.   

    Pamela Wright, NARA’s Chief Innovation Officer, will moderate a panel of open government and transparency experts who will discuss artificial intelligence and how it intersects with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and access to information. Panelists include Gulam Shakir, NARA’s Chief Data Officer; Abigail Potter, Senior Innovation Specialist at the Library of Congress Digital Innovation Lab; Eric Stein, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Global Information Services at the U.S. Department of State; and Bobak Talebian, Director of the Office of Information Policy of the U.S. Department of Justice.

    Immediately following the program, the National Archives will make available for viewing documents related to the Freedom of Information Act. 

    More about past Sunshine Week at the National Archives programs is available here:

    Moderator and Speakers: 

    Pamela Wright became NARA’s first Chief Innovation Officer in December 2012. She leads staff responsible for agency-wide projects and programs in the following areas: innovation, digitization, web, social media, online description, and online public engagement. Ms. Wright previously served as the agency's Chief Digital Access Strategist (2009–2011), where she pulled together the web, social media, and online catalog staff into an award-winning integrated team for improved online public access, and as the manager of the Archival Research Catalog (2005–2008), where she led staff responsible for developing and implementing policies, processes, systems, and standards relating to the description of records. She served as the agency representative to the White House Open Government Working Group from 2010 to 2017 and serves on advisory boards for the Digital Public Library of America and the Library and Archives Canada. In 2022, Ms. Wright was selected by President Biden as a Distinguished Executive in the Senior Executive  Service. Ms. Wright holds undergraduate degrees in history and English from the University of Montana as well as a graduate certificate in project management from George Washington University. 

    Abigail Potter is a founding member of the Library of Congress Labs team and has led a program of digital experimentation with an emphasis on practical and human-centered outcomes. Since joining the Library of Congress in 2005, she’s helped build capacities in local, national, and international networks for mass digitization, digital preservation, web archiving, and machine learning. In the past year she led the creation of the LC Labs AI Planning Framework, the NLP vendor evaluation guidance from the General Services Administration's AI Community of Practice, and is the current co-chair of the AI 4LAM Secretariat (AI for Libraries/Archives/Museums). Ms. Potter, who has a background in digital publishing, earned her bachelor of arts degree from Western Michigan University and her master of arts degree from the University of Michigan.

    Gulam Shakir has been NARA’s Chief Technology Officer since May 2020. In this role, he continues to establish agency-wide enterprise technology architectures and provide program level IT strategic direction to mission-critical programs. Some of Mr. Shakir’s recent achievements include exploring options for the transfer of electronic records from various cloud sources, providing secure access to partners in external agencies, migration of legacy applications to the cloud, and advising on the modernization of legacy applications that process requests to veterans’ records. As NARA's Chief AI Officer, Mr. Shakir is leading AI-related pilots to improve search within the National Archives Catalog to detect personally identifiable information (PII) within NARA records before public release, and to create AI-assisted first draft of descriptive metadata for NARA’s records. In the past, he has served as NARA’s Chief Data Officer and as a system architect within Information Services since 2016. Before joining NARA, Mr. Shakir served in various technical leadership roles at DataXu, Inc.; Marchex, Inc.; and IBM Corp. He has a master of science degree in computer science from West Virginia University. 

    Eric Stein is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Global Information Services (A/GIS) at the U.S. Department of State. In this role, he is the Department’s Senior Agency Official for Privacy. He is a career member of the Senior Executive Service. Prior to serving as the A/GIS DAS, he served as the Director of the Office of Information Programs and Services at the State Department. This office is responsible for the Department’s records management, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Privacy Act, classification, declassification, library, and other records and information access programs. Mr. Stein has served in key leadership roles involving the Department’s improvement of records management and agency-wide FOIA initiatives. He also serves as co-chair of an interagency FOIA technology working group led by the Department of Justice and NARA. Mr. Stein served as an intra- and interagency coordinator on the State Department’s efforts to mitigate the WikiLeaks incidents. During this assignment, he also served as the Department’s point of contact for Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) mandated by Executive Order 13556, tribal consultations and other cross-cutting, Department-wide programs. Mr. Stein received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Boston College and a master of arts degree in politics (American government) from the Catholic University of America.

    Bobak (Bobby) Talebian began serving as the Director of the Office of Information Policy (OIP) of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in February 2020. OIP is responsible for developing policy guidance for executive branch agencies on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), providing legal counsel and training to agency personnel on the procedural and substantive aspects of the Act, and for overseeing agency compliance with the law. OIP also manages the Department of Justice's obligations under the FOIA. This includes adjudicating administrative appeals from denials of access to records made by DOJ components under the FOIA or the Privacy Act of 1974; handling initial requests for records of the Offices of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, and Associate Attorney General as well as other Senior Management Offices; providing staff support for the Department Review Committee, which reviews DOJ records containing classified information; and handling the defense of certain FOIA matters in litigation. Mr. Talebian is a graduate of Kenyon College and the University of Tennessee College of Law where he served on Law Review.

  • 23 Feb 2024 9:57 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by the folks at

    With over 13,000 new Roman Catholic records to explore, what surprising stories will your research uncover?

    We're in West Yorkshire this week, with updates to three Roman Catholic record collections. We've also added a brand new Yorkshire newspaper title, and updated 25 existing publications with even more pages for you to explore.

    Here's a full rundown of all that's been added this Findmypast Friday.

    Roman Catholic parish baptisms

    First up, we've added a total of 8,814 baptism records from St Mary's Batley parish in Leeds to our Roman Catholic parish baptism collection. 

    Leeds parish baptism record

    A baptism record from 1913.

    With both images and transcriptions available, these new additions cover 1853 to 1914. They may just help to shed light on the early lives of your Leeds ancestors.

    Roman Catholic parish marriages

    We've also added Roman Catholic marriage records for the parish of St Mary's Batley, Leeds. Spanning 61 years, there are 3,012 new images and transcriptions to explore.

    Roman Catholic parish burials

    Rounding off our trio of Leeds updates is Roman Catholic parish burials, to which we added 1,379 records from St Mary's Batley. 

    You can discover both images and transcriptions for these new records, which also span over 60 years, from 1853 to 1914.

    Discover over 200,000 new pages

    The Yorkshire-based Ripon Gazette joined our newspaper collection this week. We also updated 25 of our existing titles, bringing you a total of 201,657 new pages.

    Here's everything that's been added to our newspaper archive this Findmypast Friday.

    New title:

    Updated titles:

    • Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, 1994, 1996
    • Banbury Guardian, 1930, 1938, 1964
    • Biggleswade Chronicle, 1969
    • Blackpool Gazette & Herald, 1950
    • Bo’ness Journal and Linlithgow Advertiser, 1884, 1888
    • Brechin Advertiser, 1973-1981
    • Broughty Ferry Guide and Advertiser, 1963-1973, 1982
    • Buchan Observer and East Aberdeenshire Advertiser, 1930-1960, 1975-1984
    • Dalkeith Advertiser, 1969-1975, 1977-1978
    • Leicester Chronicle, 1864
    • Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, 1908
    • Maidstone Telegraph, 1970, 1985
    • Market Harborough Advertiser and Midland Mail, 1869-1891, 1893-1897, 1899, 1953
    • Mearns Leader, 1976-1980
    • Melton Mowbray Times and Vale of Belvoir Gazette, 1894-1896, 1898-1905, 1932-1942, 1974-1981, 1985-1989, 1991
    • Morpeth Herald, 1993
    • Motherwell Times, 1977, 1979-1982
    • Northampton Chronicle and Echo, 1989, 1991
    • Northampton Mercury, 1986
    • Pateley Bridge & Nidderdale Herald, 1991-1992
    • Retford, Worksop, Isle of Axholme and Gainsborough News, 1954, 1974-1975, 1982
    • Shetland Times, 1987-1999
    • Southern Reporter, 1986
    • Suffolk and Essex Free Press, 1981
    • Sunday Post, 1951-1964

    Join us for a very special Friday Live...

    On 23 February, our very own Rose Staveley-Wadham will be joined on Friday Live by historian Suzannah Lipscomb. They'll be taking a deep dive into researching and writing about female ancestors and discussing the importance of remembering the stories of the women within our family trees. 

    Suzannah Lipscomb

    Whether you're an expert or a genealogy newbie, this exciting session is not to be missed. 

    We added four brand-new South African record sets last week. Don't miss out - discover the full releasehere

    More on this topic: 

    Birth Records

    Historical Newspapers

  • 23 Feb 2024 9:47 AM | Anonymous

    The following is an announcement written by the folks at TheGenealogist:

    Family history website TheGenealogist has announced today an exciting new feature as part of their powerful Map Explorer™ tool. For the first time, you can explore 1861 census records for England, Scotland and Wales seamlessly connected to contemporary maps with pins revealing the parish, thoroughfare, or even the very building where your ancestor lived. This enhancement adds a fascinating layer to your research and exploration.

    Charles Dickens location in the 1861 census displayed on Map Explorer™ 

    Family historians and house historians will now find it easier than ever to locate a person in the official population count from 1861. With one click, you can view a historic map with a pin indicating where a person was living in that year. 

    You can then go on to see the routes your ancestors would have used to visit shops, local pubs, churches, places of work, schools and parks. You can also find where the nearest railway station was, important for understanding how our ancestors could travel to other parts of the country to see relatives or visit their hometown.

    The 1861 Census joins previously released 1871 to 1911 censuses and the 1939 Register, which are all linked to TheGenealogist’s innovative Map Explorer™. This means that with just the click of a button, you can travel in time through 7 decades of records to discover future occupants and see how an area changed.

    Most of the Greater London area and other towns and cities can be viewed down to the property level, while other more rural parts of the country can be identified down to the parish, road or street.

    Read TheGenealogist’s article: Where the Dickens Are They? to discover more and see an interesting case study:

    Save Over 50% on our Diamond Personal Premium Package

    To celebrate this latest release, TheGenealogist is offering its Diamond Personal Premium Package for only £98.95 a saving over 50%.

    This offer includes a lifetime discount! Your subscription will renew at the same discounted price every year you stay with us.

    To find out more and claim the offer, visit:

    This offer expires at the end of 23rd May 2024

    About TheGenealogist

    TheGenealogist is an award-winning online family history website, who put a wealth of information at the fingertips of family historians. Their approach is to bring hard to use physical records to life online with easy to use interfaces such as their Tithe and newly released Lloyd George Domesday collections. 

    TheGenealogist’s innovative SmartSearch technology links records together to help you find your ancestors more easily. TheGenealogist is one of the leading providers of online family history records. Along with the standard Birth, Marriage, Death and Census records, they also have significant collections of Parish and Nonconformist records, PCC Will Records, Irish Records, Military records, Occupations, Newspaper record collections amongst many others.

    TheGenealogist uses the latest technology to help you bring your family history to life. Use TheGenealogist to find your ancestors today!

  • 22 Feb 2024 8:16 AM | Anonymous

    The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will help provide access to important records related to Puerto Rican history. NARA will work together with the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP/Institute of Puerto Rican Culture) to increase access by digitizing pertinent records in the National Archives’ holdings. 

    refer to caption


    Deputy Archivist of the United States William J. Bosanko (sitting, left) and Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP) Executive Director Carlos R. Ruiz (sitting, right) hold the signed Memorandum of Agreement between the two organizations. Standing behind them are ICP General Archivist Hilda T. Ayala Gonzáles and Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Executive Director Luis Dávila Pernas. National Archives photo by Susana Raab.

    Deputy Archivist of the United States William J. Bosanko signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ICP Executive Director Carlos Ruiz Cortés on January 30, 2024, outlining the National Archives’ intent to support the ICP’s digital archiving efforts. The ICP is part of the government of Puerto Rico and has the mission of researching, preserving, promoting, and disseminating Puerto Rican history and culture.

    You can read more in an article by Kristin Phillips published in the National Archives News at:

  • 21 Feb 2024 3:31 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release issued by WikiTree:

    Feb 21, 2024 – WikiTree, the free genealogy community and collaborative family tree, now hosts the largest free database connecting African-American families.

    African-Americans are underrepresented in genealogy. Slavery tore apart families and remains an ugly genealogical brick wall for many Americans. In 2020, a group of volunteers led by genealogist and author Emma MacBeath came together on WikiTree to create the US Black Heritage Project. Its mission: make it easy for descendants of enslaved ancestors to discover their roots and connect with family members.

    Over 200 professional genealogists and amateur family historians have donated thousands of hours of research time to the Black Heritage Project. As of today, they have created over 282,000 African-American family member profiles. These are all available to the public, entirely free, on An African-American who comes to WikiTree now has a good chance of finding their ancestors, cousins, and connections across the entire 32,000,000-person global family tree.

    “WikiTree is the perfect place for us to connect families who have been left disconnected for generations," says Emma MacBeath. "There is nothing like this project out there. There are many projects working on groups of families or large document sets. But no one else is combining document processing with tree building in a public one-world tree like WikiTree. Best of all, our information is freely available to everyone."

    Despite these accomplishments, WikiTree’s generous volunteers say they are just getting started. This month – Black History Month in the US – a new project was announced: The US Black Heritage 1880 Project. Its goal: create a connected WikiTree profile for all 6.6 million Black Americans enumerated in the 1880 US census. Anyone can help this project. Click here to volunteer.

    WikiTree has been growing for 16 years, from the grassroots up. Our community now includes over one million members and over 37 million profiles. Our tree is considered the most accurate and trusted global tree because of WikiTree’s collaborative culture, sourcing requirements, and incorporation of DNA. See this 90-second animated explanation.

  • 21 Feb 2024 3:20 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release issued by the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy:

    The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy is now accepting applications for Hive Minders for Fall Virtual 2024.

    Hive Minders help our virtual classrooms function smoothly, addressing challenges that arise. If you are comfortable with technology, consider applying to serve during one of the courses offered during SLIG Fall Virtual 2024.

    Hive Minder job responsibilities include:  

     • starting Zoom for each weekly class session;

    • managing closed captioning, breakout rooms, polls, and recordings;

     • assisting faculty and students with light tech and announcements;

     • taking attendance with the provided Airtable attendance tracker;

     • keeping SLIG staff aware of classroom and student issues or concerns.

    Hive Minders receive:  

     • a tuition waiver for the course for which they serve as Hive Minder;

     • training to be a Hive Minder;

     • a Hive Minder reference packet;

     • assistance and support from SLIG's Virtual Coordinator, Tech Assistant, and Director for emergencies and questions.

    Courses offered during SLIG Fall Virtual 2024 may be viewed here.

    To apply to be a Hive Minder during SLIG Fall Virtual 2024, please complete the application at this Airtable link. The deadline for applying is May 1, 2024. All applicants will receive notification via email whether they have been selected.

    A call for Hive Minders during SLIG 2025 and SLIG Spring Virtual 2025 will arrive in April.

    Did we mention that Hive Minders receive a tuition waiver?

  • 21 Feb 2024 10:06 AM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release issued by the (U.S.) National Archives and Records Administration:

    Kansas City, MO

    The National Archives at Kansas City is pleased to announce that its exhibit space will reopen on February 20, 2024.

    The public space at 400 West Pershing Road will be open to the public for self-guided tours Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time. 

    At the exhibit entrance, visitors will experience the We the People exhibit featuring records from the holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City. Alongside the stories of the great and powerful, the exhibit features facsimile records that give insight into the lives of ordinary people. Nearly all Americans can find themselves, their neighbors, their ancestors, or their community in the records of the National Archives. Interactive displays include flip books and a station where visitors can make rubbings of famous signatures from Kansas City holdings.

    “The exhibit at the National Archives at Kansas City highlights valuable archival holdings and local history,” said Archivist of the United States Dr. Colleen Shogan. “I’m thrilled that the exhibit space will now be more accessible to everyone seeking to learn why records matter and how they impact our lives.”

    The exhibit closed to walk-in visitors at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, though researchers with appointments to the research room were able to visit the space starting in January 2022.

    Visitors to the exhibit space are welcome to use the public access personal computers with connections to genealogy resources. The research room remains open by appointment only, and researchers can email to schedule appointments.  

    For more information, visit For media inquiries, please contact the National Archives Public and Media Communications Office at 202-357-5300 or

    About the National Archives at Kansas City

    The National Archives at Kansas City is home to historical records that date from the 1820s to the 2000s that were created or received by federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. There are also records from across the country, including bankruptcy cases, court of appeals records, and patent case files. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit

    About the National Archives

    The National Archives and Records Administration is the nation's record keeper. It safeguards and manages the official records of the U.S. Government, ensuring the documentation of our nation's history. For more information, visit

  • 21 Feb 2024 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release issued by the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA):


    The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) issued a statement to the Ministry of Justice (the MoJ) formally objecting proposals in regard to the storage and retention of original will documents. The MoJ consultation document outlined proposals to destroy these documents following digitisation.

    The statement outlined the membership's collective experience of the significant risks associated with digitisation projects, including errors of omission. If the originals are destroyed, that data is lost forever. While AGRA welcomes digitisation as an alternative means of access, it is not a replacement for original documents.

    There can be no dispute that the original will, with the signatures of the testator and witnesses, will be the most accurate version. However, the majority of digital images currently supplied to researchers are not images of the original will, but of the office copy of the document. These office copies do not have the original handwriting or signatures of the testator and other parties. AGRA raised the need for more clarification as to which documents are held by the MoJ, where they are held and which, if not all, of those documents are proposed for digitisation and/or destruction.

    Most of all, AGRA condemned the proposed wilful destruction of potentially historically valuable documents and records. This would represent a major loss to the cultural and historical heritage of England and Wales. The proposal that original wills of notable individuals will be retained does not take into account those whom history retrospectively reclaims as such.

    Wills are not merely records associated with the legal process of a person's decease. Each will is a unique and personal document, which can reveal so much more about an individual, their family, land and property and their life, than can be accounted for in pounds, shillings and pence.

    AGRA regards the proposed plans to end the storage of wills as equivalent to an act of cultural vandalism and urged the MoJ to withdraw their proposals.

    The statement, issued by Gill Thomas, Chair of AGRA, was undersigned by AGRA Fellows, Members and Associates.


    We encourage everyone with an interest in this issue to respond to the consultation by 23rd February at 11.59pm (GMT), to write to your MP raising your concerns and to sign the following petition:

    To respond directly to the MoJ's consultation, please email:

  • 20 Feb 2024 6:25 PM | 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 suspect it will be of interest to many readers of this newsletter.

    The iPhone's ease of use makes it a great choice for older folks who want a smartphone, and there are plenty of options to make iOS easier to use and more accessible. Whether you're setting up a phone for your great uncle (or you're the great uncle!) we have a pile of great tips to share.

    1. Consider Enabling Assistive Access 

    Assistive Access is a feature introduced in iOS 17 that greatly simplifies the iOS experience. While designed for people with cognitive disabilities, it's also a good choice for seniors who only need to use the essential functions of their devices.

    A trusted person can set up Assistive Access to show only the apps that their loved one needs, which then run in a simplified format. This might be too drastic a step for tech-savvy seniors, but it's worth a look if the user doesn't want to be overwhelmed with apps and menus they won't use anyway.

    See our guide to Assistive Access on iPhone to learn more.

    2. Use Display Zoom

    You can read much more in an article by Ben Stegner published in the web site at:
  • 20 Feb 2024 2:20 PM | Anonymous

    Applications are now being accepted for several scholarships available to participants in upcoming SLIG events. The deadline for each scholarship is May 1, 2024. Summaries are included below.  Click on each scholarship title for links to additional details and application procedures.

    UGA Jimmy B. Parker Scholarship

    The UGA Jimmy B. Parker Scholarship provides a guaranteed seat and full tuition to one course of choice at either SLIG 2025 or SLIG Spring Virtual 2025. This scholarship will be awarded to an individual who has demonstrated commitment to genealogical excellence and community involvement.

    Laura G. Prescott Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Scholarship

    The Laura G. Prescott Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Scholarship provides a guaranteed seat and full tuition to one course of choice at SLIG Fall Virtual 2024, SLIG 2025, or SLIG Spring Virtual 2025. Applicants may be of any age or skill level but should exhibit a passion for genealogy, appreciate the importance of education and standards in our field, and serve the community through volunteerism.

    SLIG Scholarship for First-Time Institute Attendees

    The SLIG Scholarship for First-Time Institute Attendees provides a guaranteed seat and full tuition to one course of choice at SLIG 2025. Applicants should meet these qualifications: (1) never have attended, nor will be attending, any of the national genealogical institutes prior to SLIG 2025; (2) have previously sought to improve their genealogical education through formal or informal means; (3) have an intermediate or above level of research knowledge and skills, and are ready for an in-depth learning experience; and (4) have identified a SLIG 2025 course that meets their ongoing educational objectives.

    SLIG Foundations Scholarship

    Formerly the SLIG Intermediate Foundations Scholarship, the SLIG Foundations Scholarship provides a guaranteed seat and full tuition to the Foundations: The Research Process course offered at SLIG Fall Virtual 2024. For more information about this course, click this link. Applicants should meet these qualifications: (1) have a strong working knowledge of basic genealogical research principles and have had several years of experience applying those principles using a variety of record sources to identify ancestors and confirm relationships; (2) have utilized a variety of formal and informal educational opportunities to obtain and strengthen knowledge, and now feel ready for an in-depth, curriculum-based learning experience; (3) have time available each week during the course to spend at least three hours in class sessions plus five to ten hours to complete homework; and (4) have reviewed the course description and outline to identify how this course will help meet their educational objectives.

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