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Latest Standard Edition Articles

  • 8 Feb 2021 12:08 PM | Anonymous

    Here are the words that no genealogist, historian, or archivist ever wants to hear: a major archive with many original documents, most of which have never been copied or digitized, is on fire and the fire has been burning for many hours.

    Firefighters in Kraków, Poland have been battling a blaze that broke out in the city’s archives for 36 hours.

    The fire started on Saturday evening and, according to a spokesman for Małopolska fire brigade, it is difficult to predict when it will be extinguished.

    The city’s archives contain about 20,000 linear metres of documents.

    Temperatures in Kraków presently are below zero which certainly must be a problem for firefighters.

  • 8 Feb 2021 11:41 AM | Anonymous

    Anyone interested in the future of genealogy research by using DNA or anyone interested in how their already-submitted DNA information will be used by 23andMe will want to read a new article by Alistair MacDonald and Amy Dockser Marcus.

    I wrote recently (at and at about 23andMe's planned upcoming merger with Virgin Group’s VG Acquisition Corporation, along with an additional $250 million from new investors, British billionaire Richard Branson and 23andMe Chief Executive Anne Wojcicki. The new article now describes the future business plans.

    NOTE: Richard Branson is best known as the founder and CEO of Virgin Airlines but he also owns several other corporations as well.)

    In short, 23andMe has already seen a decline in revenue. (I know that several other companies in the DNA business have the same problem.) The basic problem is that testing a person's DNA is usually a one-time event. Most customers take the test once, read the results, and then move on to other interests.

    This is unlike the genealogy business and thousands of other businesses where customers interact with a company once, become interested, and then return again and again to conduct more business with that company. Think about MyHeritage,, Findmypast, TheGenealogist, and several other genealogy businesses. Most of their customers try their service(s) once, become interested, and then return time and time again to look for more information. In the business world, this is often referred to "recurring revenue."

    In contrast, 23andMe's PRIMARY business typically resulted in a one-time visit: sign up, take the test once, read the results, and never return again. That's a business problem, especially once the potential customer base becomes saturated: most of the people who might be interested in taking a DNA heritage test probably have already done so. There is little repeat business. (Of course, there will always be a few newly-interested potential customers but the number of such new customers seems to be declining.)

    As stated in the article, "The deal would help fund 23andMe’s transition away from the slowing consumer DNA-testing market toward the potentially more lucrative health market."

    The new plan for 23andMe seems to be focusing on generating new business by encouraging on existing customers (plus obviously attracting as many new customers as possible) to answer research questions and identify people who might want to participate in clinical medical trials. Customers signing up for medical trials results in more revenue for 23andMe.

    In short, I see this as a rather good business plan: providing additional (and optional) services for both new and existing customers.

    Are you a diabetic? Do you have high cholesterol? Do you have some other inherited medical problem? If so, you may be VERY interested in 23andMe's new business plans.

    You can find the (rather short) article at and read it at no charge. However, that first article then links to a much longer article in the Wall Street Journal that provides more details. The article in the Journal is available only to those who have a paid subscription to that publication.

  • 5 Feb 2021 10:55 AM | Anonymous

    DNA company 23andMe is now planning to go public, as described in my earlier articles at and at

    Now a new article by Brian Sozzi and published in the Yahoo!finance web site provides a lot of information about how all this came to be, thanks to a $25 million (U.S. fund) investment from multi-billionaire Richard Branson plus an additional $25 million from 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.

    Branson believes:

    “And 23andMe, just their drug development side could shorten the development [time] of a new drug by as much as two and a half years, which makes coming up with new drugs that much quicker,” said Branson. “And I think 23andMe can lead to people having a healthier lifestyle.”

    Richard Branson

    You can read the article at:

    It appears to me that 23andMe will now focus less on genealogy and DNA identification of ethnicity and instead will focus primarily on medical issues and the development of new drugs.

    Or did I read too much into this latest announcement? You decide.

  • 5 Feb 2021 10:49 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    With new and exclusive records from New York, Shropshire and Yorkshire, where will your past take you this weekend? Here's what's new on Findmypast this week.

    New York Catholic Parish Registers Browse

    You can now explore this important collection page-by-page along with recent new additions from Harlem, The Bronx, Yonkers and Ulster County. Over 244,000 Images taken from microfilm and original registers from over 200 parishes are available to browse.

    Including births, baptisms, marriages, confirmations, communions and deaths, these exclusive records are an excellent resource for tracing your Catholic roots. As well as providing essential dates and locations, many records will also reveal the names of your ancestor’s parents (including mother’s maiden name) or spouse. 

    Check the parish list to see which churches' records are only available in this browsable resource. And remember, if you're looking for a specific record, you can also search for baptisms and marriages.

    Shropshire Quarter Sessions Rolls Index, 1831-1920

    Exclusive to Findmypast, discover if your Shropshire ancestors faced their local judge in these new court indexes. A wide variety of administrative record types are included, such as appointments, bastardy papers, inquests, oaths of allegiance and petitions, as well as the whole panoply of records surrounding criminal cases.

    Each record consists of a transcript that, along with the defendants name and the date of their hearing, provide all the information required to identify a specific record within this time period. The original documents can only be consulted at the Shropshire Archives.

    To help you make the most of the records, Findmypast have compiled this handy list with each document type, their abbreviations and a brief description on where you'll find them.

    Yorkshire, Ecclesall Bierlow Workhouse Admissions 1883-1915

    Covering parts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire, this collection can help you trace relatives on the breadline. In these transcripts, you'll discover birth dates, occupations, dates of admission and more. The index has been created by the Sheffield District Family History Society who have transcribed original admission registers held by the Sheffield Archives.

    The Ecclesall Bierlow workhouse was first built at the Sharrow Moor. It originally housed between 60 to 80 inmates but expanded significantly over time to include an asylum block, vagrants’ wards, laundry block, and children’s cottage homes. It also had space for boys’ training workshops in tailoring and shoemaking. By 1896 it could house up to 600 inmates and admitted roughly 5,000 each year with a weekly average of 100 admissions.


    Findmypast’s local newspaper archives continue to grow. Brand new to the collection this week are:

    While additional papers have been added to nine existing titles, including:

  • 4 Feb 2021 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    One week ago, I published an article suggesting that Consumer DNA-testing company 23andMe Inc. is in talks to go public through a roughly $4 billion deal ..." (You can see that article at Now the acquisition has been completed.

    According to an article today an the Bloomberg News Service:

    "Consumer DNA-testing company 23andMe Inc. has entered into a deal to merge with VG Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company founded by billionaire Richard Branson."

    "The agreement values the Silicon Valley company at $3.5 billion, with Chief Executive Officer Anne Wojcicki and Branson each investing $25 million into a $250 million private investment in public equity offering.

    "Other investors include Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Altimeter Capital, Casdin Capital and Foresite Capital. Current shareholders of 23andMe will own 81% of the combined company, with the deal expected to close in the second quarter of 2021. A merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, allows 23andMe to go public without the uncertainty or holding an initial public offering."

    There is more to the article, including comments from 23andMe Chief Executive Officer Anne Wojcicki, at:

  • 3 Feb 2021 1:17 PM | Anonymous

    In the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, everything online was free. That is, all information posted online was available to everyone free of charge. Of course, in those days there wasn't much information available that would have warranted a fee or a paid subscription. The brief information we found online in those days was generally worth just about what we paid for it: zero.

    As the years went by and technology improved, many commercial companies found methods of providing more and more information online. The investment required to provide this information quickly escalated: paid authors, web servers, high speed Internet connectivity, disk farms and more all cost money. Those who made the investments necessary to provide highly relevant information expect to be reimbursed for their expenses. Most also expect to make a modest profit in the same manner as newspapers and magazines have done for more than a century. Few corporations function as a charity; most expect to pay their bills by charging for their products and services. The world of Internet publishing is no different from that of traditional publishing: the expenses are real and bills must be paid.

    I am amazed at the folks still believe “everything on the Internet should be free.” Those who believe that are ignoring basic facts of business life. The problem is compounded when the discussion turns to the publishing of public domain information, such as birth records, marriage information, death records, pension application files, and more.

    Comments posted to message boards, blogs and elsewhere often decry the “loss” of public domain information. Some misguided individuals even seem to believe that if a commercial company publishes information from the public domain and then slaps their own copyright on the web pages that the information is no longer public domain. Such assumptions are false and misguided.

    In fact, information that was free in the past remains free today and will always be free. In the United States, this is dictated by Federal law. That is true now, it has always been true, and will always be true unless Congress changes the laws. Until then, public domain information will remain free to all of us in the same manner as always.

    By Federal law, public domain information has always been available to all of us free of charge. All we ever had to do was to travel to the location where the information is available, be it in Washington, D.C. or some other archive. The information is free although we might have to pay a modest fee for photocopying. If we don't want to pay a photocopying fee, we always have the option of transcribing it by hand. That free access is not changed by the simple act of some web site placing the information online. By Federal law, that information will continue to be available free of charge to anyone and everyone who wishes to travel to the location where the information resides. There is absolutely no change to this free access.

    What *IS* changing is that we now have more methods of obtaining that information. While we can continue to access it at no charge in the old-fashioned way, we now have new avenues – specifically, online. Companies that seek out this free information and then invest a few hundred thousand dollars in scanners, servers, data centers, high speed (and expensive) connections to the Internet backbones, programmers, support personnel, and all the other expenses are allowed to charge a fee for that access. However, the old-fashioned, in-person free access remains exactly the same as before: free.

    Let me draw an analogy: water is free. If I want water, I can go to the local river or lake with a bucket and get all the water I want at no charge. Another option is for me to place a barrel in my yard to capture rain water. I have always been able to obtain free water and I can still do so today, should I wish to do so. But if I elect to use a more convenient method, the local water company spends money laying pipes under the street and across my lawn to my house. I then have to pay a fee for that higher level of service. The same is true here: the genealogy information remains free, but most of us understand that we have to pay a fee for the expensive "pipes" that deliver that information conveniently to our homes at our convenience.

    For me and for most other Americans, it is cheaper to pay for online access than it is to take a trip to Washington, D.C. or Salt Lake City or to some other library or repository as I used to do. Using one of the new online services actually REDUCES my expenses. I am very thankful that commercial services make the information available for a modest fee so that I no longer have to pay exorbitant travel expenses. (Have you priced automobile gasoline or airline tickets lately?)

    I am appalled that some people apparently still expect a company to spend money gathering free records, spend money scanning it, spend money building data centers, spend money buying servers and disk farms, spend money on high-speed Internet connectivity, spend money for programmers, spend money on customer support personnel, and spend money on advertising to let you know that the information is available, and then expect that same company to make the information available free of charge!

    One simple fact remains: those who spend money making information available to all of us are allowed to recover their expenses plus a reasonable profit. Those who wish to not pay for these “pipes” are free to obtain their information in the same manner that we have been obtaining it for decades. If you don’t care for the new option, simply use the old method. You are free to choose whatever you want, but please don’t complain about new, more convenient options that some of us appreciate.

  • 3 Feb 2021 1:09 PM | Anonymous

    Found on a grammar school test paper: "A census taker is a man who goes from house to house increasing the population."

  • 3 Feb 2021 11:53 AM | Anonymous

    Here is the latest announcement from FamilySearch:

    Discover new family connections this week on FamilySearch in Argentina, Entre Rios, Civil Registrations 1860–1965,  the Norway 1870 Census; and United States ships passenger lists (Texas, Port of Del Rio 1906–1953, California, San Francisco [Chinese] 1882–1947, and Washington, Seattle 1890–1957), plus expanded country collections for Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, S. Africa, Uruguay and the US (AZ, CA, CO, IL, MA, TX, VA, and WA),   

    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 list of newly-added record collections is long; too long to list here. However, you can find the full list at:

  • 3 Feb 2021 9:18 AM | Anonymous

    The following press release was issued by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

    FALLS CHURCH, VA, 3 FEBRUARY 2021—The National Genealogical Society (NGS) issued a call for poster sessions for the SLAM! Idea Showcase scheduled for 18 May 2021. This event is just one of several new components of the week-long virtual NGS Family History Conference, 17─21 May 2021. The showcase will promote information sharing and collaboration among genealogical information providers.

    Societies, libraries, archives, and museums (SLAM) as well as other organizations such as universities are encouraged to submit virtual "posters" as PowerPoint presentations with voiceover or other videos (in mp4 format), or other media to illustrate their creative and innovative projects or programs.

    Posters will be available for viewing by attendees. Presenters will also be able to discuss their posters live in a chat room with participants. The Showcase will include a live-broadcast main stage event featuring select posters. NGS will select three of the top posters for cash awards.

    NGS will accept poster submissions through 15 March 2021. Submission requirements and an online submission form are posted on the NGS conference website.

    Take advantage of the discounted Early Bird registration fee, plus member discounts, when you sign up by 15 March 2021.

    *Note: Due to ongoing mandates in Virginia in regards to COVID-19 and our concern for the well-being of our attendees, exhibitors, volunteers, and staff, NGS is unable to host an in-person conference in Richmond, Virginia in May 2021.

  • 2 Feb 2021 5:10 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release written by the folks at Ancestry:

    LEHI, Utah and SAN FRANCISCO -- February 2, 2021-- Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Deborah (Deb) Liu as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the company’s Board of Directors, effective March 1.

    Liu joins Ancestry from Facebook where she most recently created and led Facebook's Marketplace product group. Prior to Facebook, Liu held leadership roles at eBay and PayPal. Liu is actively involved in promoting diversity and women in technology and co-created the Women in Product​ nonprofit. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Intuit Inc.

    “It’s an honor to join Ancestry. I’m excited to help craft the company’s next chapter, accelerating growth in Family History subscriptions and AncestryDNA by bringing the product to more people around the world,” said Liu. “I have tremendous admiration for Ancestry’s rich history and powerful mission to empower journeys of personal discovery to enrich lives. Finding and sharing our family history and understanding the challenges and triumphs our ancestors faced helps u​s feel a greater sense of connection and belonging and ultimately realize our shared humanity.”

    “Ancestry already leads the field in its category but still has the potential to attract many new customers and grow its business still further,” said Mark Thompson, chairman of Ancestry’s Board of Directors. “In the course of an extensive search, it became clear to all of us that Deb was the perfect next CEO of Ancestry. She has a proven track record of product innovation and deep experience in building global consumer technology platforms. She is an outstanding leader able to inspire and motivate teams to achieve their goals.”

    David Kestnbaum, a Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, and Sachin Bavishi, a Managing Director at Blackstone, said: “Deb is a terrific leader with a very strong track record of driving innovation and growth, as well as building world-class product and technology platforms. We are excited about Ancestry’s future and look forward to partnering with Deb as she leads the company into its next phase of growth.”


    About Ancestry

    Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, empowers journeys of personal discovery to enrich lives.​ ​With our unparalleled collection of more than 27 billion records and over 18 million people in our growing DNA network, customers can discover their family story and gain a new level of understanding about their lives​.​ For over 30 years, we’ve built trusted relationships with millions of people who have chosen us as the platform for discovering, preserving and sharing the most important information about themselves and their families.

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