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  • 5 Nov 2020 7:40 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by the folks at WikiTree:

    5 November 2020 : This week the WikiTree community reached a major milestone: 25 million profiles on our collaborative family tree.

    Since its founding in 2008, WikiTree has grown steadily but carefully. Millions of duplicate profiles have been merged and mythical ancestries have been deleted. WikiTree’s unique community culture prioritizes quality over quantity through careful genealogical sourcing and a commitment to accuracy.

    Of the 25 million profiles currently on WikiTree:

    • 21 million are connected to each other in a single web of family relationships. These connections show that all of humanity is one family. Visitors to WikiTree can explore how any two of the 21 million people are related to each other.

    • 7.4 million have DNA test connections. These connections indicate that one or more genealogists have taken a DNA test and are willing to compare test results in an attempt to confirm the profiled person’s family relationships. The ultimate goal is to use DNA to confirm all the relationships on our tree.

    • 750,000 represent registered members who have added or edited family profiles.

    • 167,000 are serious genealogists who have signed the Wiki Genealogist Honor Code. WikiTree has three levels of membership. All memberships are free and enable members to collaborate on family history in private and public ways, but only Honor Code signers have full editing rights.

    About WikiTree

    WikiTree is a 100% free community-based website that has been growing since 2008. Community members privately collaborate with close family members on modern family history and publicly collaborate with other genealogists on deep ancestry. Since all the private and public profiles are connected on the same system this collaboration grows one tree that connects us all and makes it free and easy for anyone to discover their roots. See http://www.WikiTree.com.

  • 5 Nov 2020 9:19 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    ·         Findmypast are encouraging their community to uncover the stories behind the names on war memorials to mark Remembrance Day 2020 

    ·         The Findmypast Community are encouraged to share their finds on social media using #RememberTheirStories 

    ·         Over 103 million military records will be free for everyone to view from November 5 until November 12   

    5 November 2020 

    To mark Remembrance Day 2020 Findmypast have launched a new campaign to encourage their community to discover the stories behind the names etched on war memorials.  

    In order to keep the legacies of these fallen heroes alive, Findmypast are asking their community to find out more about these men and the lives they led. Family historians are encouraged to use Findmypast’s comprehensive military records to do their research and unlock the stories behind the names before sharing their amazing discoveries on social media with #RememberTheirStories. 

    To support this campaign and to mark Remembrance Day, Findmypast are putting all their military records free between the 5th and 12th November. Family historians will then be able to search more than 103 million world military records for free until 10:00 GMT 12th November.  

    The free access will also give budding family historians the opportunity to uncover more about the military heroes in their own family as well. 

    To find out more about the #RememberTheirStories campaign, watch this video 

    https://youtu.be/kAfVyufgA8s 

  • 4 Nov 2020 9:14 PM | Anonymous

    Still another company has left the microfilm business: Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection some time ago. As part of the plan to save the company, Kodak management has announced the company will no longer manufacture cameras. Actually, Kodak previously had stopped the manufacture of film and cameras that use film. In recent years, Kodak has only manufactured digital cameras, and those, too, are now being dropped. The company is dropping all film products, including microfilm. The changes will have a major impact on genealogists.

    For years, genealogists, historians, and many others have relied on records recorded on microfilm. Some years ago, as the volume of paper created by government and industry became too great to store economically, government and industry welcomed microfilm, microfiche, and other micro-imaging techniques. Indeed, these tiny images have served us well. Millions of cubic feet of paper records have been compressed by microfilming and have been stored in much smaller filing cabinets.

    If microfilm had never been invented, the Social Security Administration alone would have needed to build dozens of warehouses for records storage and also would have needed to hire an army of clerks to sort, file, and retrieve those pieces of paper. The cost of all that would have been in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The conversion to microfilm and microfiche literally made record storage possible.

    Now we are seeing another conversion: from micro-imaging to even smaller digital imaging. Indeed, storing millions of documents on computer disks requires even less space than does microfilm. Fewer records storage warehouses need to be built and fewer clerks need to be hired. Digital records, even with multiple off-site backups, require significantly less space than do microfilmed records and a LOT less space than the same records stored on paper.

    Of course, digital imaging has other benefits as well. If properly scanned and stored, high resolution digital images can be sharper and easier to read than those stored on microfilm. Digital images can have less "fuzziness." In addition, distribution and display is much easier with digital images than images on microfilm. Microfilm readers are rare in homes and in many offices while low-cost computers are available most everywhere, even in a purse or briefcase. When was the last time you carried a microfilm reader in your purse or briefcase?

    For years, one of the big arguments against digital imaging was that of the storage media. The argument has been phrased, "Who will be able to read floppies in 8-inch, 5 1/4-inch or 3 1/2-inch formats twenty or fifty years from now?"

    Now we are seeing the same argument being used against the use of microfilm: who is going to be able to read microfilm or microfiche twenty or fifty years from now? That will be long after the last microfilm viewer has been relegated to a museum.

    To be sure, a microfilm or microfiche image can be viewed by using a strong magnifying glass and a bright light source. However, I have to ask: "Have you tried that?" It will work for one or two images, but I don't know of any genealogist who will sit and view hundreds of images on a single reel of microfilm by using a magnifying glass. Possible or not, viewing microfilms with a magnifying glass isn't practical for more than a few minutes.

    At Archives II in College Park, Maryland, the National Archives and Records Administration maintains a museum in the Department of Special Media Preservation. Here you’ll find a recording device that uses coils of thin steel wire instead of tape. There are 70,000 18-inch glass discs, each with two hours of enemy radio broadcasts from World War II. They play on a Memovox. There are 1800 reels of push-pull movie sound-tracks using equipment that has been obsolete for more than fifty years. There are a quarter million optical discs—the cutting-edge technology of the 1980s—that depend on software and hardware no longer on the market. All of these technologies are less than a century old, and yet the materials may be gone.

    The clay tablets from ancient Sumeria can still be seen today, but one has to wonder what percentage of the media survived. Perhaps millions of such clay tablets were created. We can never be sure. All we have today is a few dozen examples.

    Medieval manuscripts on animal parchment are perfectly readable (if you can red the handwriting), and paper correspondence from the Renaissance is still in good condition. Of course, we can assume that many of the originals were destroyed by fire, floods, earthquakes, wars, insects, and human indifference. How many of the originals still survive? Again, we will never know, but we can guess. I'd suggest that the majority of medieval parchment documents did not last until the twenty-first century. I'd guess that only a tiny percentage survived.

    We can go on and on. What is the shelf-life of an 8-track tape? How about the formats used? Do you remember WordPerfect? FoxPro? Netscape Navigator? Where have you gone, MS-DOS? CP/M? TRS-DOS?

    Alexander Stille points out in his book The Future of the Past, "Books printed on modern acidic paper are turning to dust. Black-and-white photographs may last a couple of centuries, while most color photographs become unstable within thirty or forty years. Videotapes deteriorate much more quickly than does traditional movie film. And the latest generation of digital storage tape is considered to be safe for about ten years, after which it should be copied to avoid loss of data."

    Eureka! Alexander Stille has found the answer.

    Let's examine the last part of that last sentence: "...AFTER WHICH IT SHOULD BE COPIED TO AVOID LOSS OF DATA."

    For centuries, the only effective method of preserving data has been to copy it to new media (disk, tape, paper, parchment, or whatever is available) while the original was still readable. Indeed, the more important documents have been copied often. Items copied frequently include the Bible, the Magna Carta, and similar documents. We all enjoy such documents today not because the originals are preserved, but because they were copied time and time again.

    I will suggest that the secret of "preservation" is not to preserve, but to copy frequently. We might also want to keep the originals, but keeping readable copies becomes even more practical. Always copy to the latest storage methods in common use today. Also, we want to copy images of the originals, not create transcriptions.

    Of course, there will always be a few exceptions. When looking at a Rembrandt painting, we want to view the original, not a modern-day reproduction. However, I will suggest for most all birth, marriage, and death records and other records of a similar nature, a high quality image of the original will suffice. In fact, today's digital technology can produce much higher-quality images than old-fashioned microfilm.

    Who cares if a record was copied to 5 1/4-inch disk some years ago? The important thing is to have that record later copied to 3 1/2-inch disk, later still to CD-ROM, and later still to whatever new technology becomes available at the time.

    The same is true for file formats. That old image may have been stored in BMP format, a file format that has almost disappeared today. Again, that is no problem if, and only if, someone copies it to .JPG or .TIFF or whatever-is-popular-today.

    The big question in my mind is this: who will become the caretakers of our information? In past years, we called them "preservationists." Now, as the technology improves, we will perhaps call them "information caretakers."

    Indeed, we already have thousands of "information caretakers." They already work at the National Archives, at museums, at MyHeritage.com, at Ancestry.com, at FamilySearch.org, at many libraries, and even at some of the larger genealogy societies. We already have thousands of "information caretakers" who are presently creating digital images of important records. They also are making the off-site backups, and they are converting older digital images to even more modern media as the technology improves. As the cost of storage continues to drop, we will see even more commercial companies compete with MyHeritage.com, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Google, and others to provide information to us, whenever and wherever we want it.

    Some of these new "information caretaker" companies will charge fees. Others will do so free of charge although they will have to find some method of gaining revenue so that they can continue to pay their bills and stay online to provide the service. In all cases, the bottom-line costs will be lower than doing the same with microfilm.

    I suspect we will not wonder for long "who will be the information caretakers?" We already have thousands of them, and even more are getting into the business daily.

  • 3 Nov 2020 11:07 AM | Anonymous

    UPDATE: This project has been filled. 

    Progeny Genealogy reports they have now received more than enough volunteers.

    Progeny Genealogy is looking for a few Beta Testers to help with final testing of a new product to be announced soon.

    If you use a Macintosh and you would enjoy helping the company find bugs and shortcomings in the beta test version of the unannounced Charting Companion for Macintosh. (Shush! It's a secret!) The new program is a plug-in for Family Tree Maker for Macintosh. It will also read RootsMagic and GEDCOM files.

    In order to be a beta tester, you must have:

    MacOS 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave) or 10.15 (Catalina)

    AND ONE OR MORE OF THESE :

    Family Tree Maker 2019 (24.0.1.252) for Mac

    OR

    RootsMagic

    OR

    Anything else if you would like to test the GEDCOM export

    If you would like to volunteer, contact the company at https://progenygenealogy.com/customer-support/contactus/ and mention "Beta testing" in your message, and indicate which macOS version and genealogy software you use in your message.

  • 3 Nov 2020 10:54 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

    What a month! In October, 60.4 million historical records were added to MyHeritage in 7 collections from Norway, Wales, Portugal, and Germany. The collections include births & baptisms, marriages, deaths & burials, and passenger lists. With this month’s update, the total number of historical records on MyHeritage is 12.7 billion records. 

    Here are more details about each of the collections:

    Norway Church Records, 1815-1938

    An index of births & baptisms, marriages, and deaths & burials from 1815 to 1938. 42,248,250 records Search collection now

    Wales, Parish Births and Baptisms

    An index of births and baptism records in Wales from 1538 to 1920. 8,242,549 records Search collection now

    Wales, Parish Marriages and Banns

    An index of marriages and banns in Wales from 1539 to 1935. 3,480,047 records Search collection now

    Wales, Parish Deaths and Burials

    An index of deaths in Wales from 1539 to 2005. 3,149,924 records Search collection now

    Portugal, Madeira, Index of Baptisms, 1738-1910

    An index of baptisms from the island of Madeira, Portugal from 1738 to 1910. 1,676,377 records Search collection now

    Portugal, Madeira, Index of Marriages, 1574-1940

    An index of marriage records from the island of Madeira, Portugal from 1574 to 1940. 871,318 records Search collection now

    Germany, Bremen Emigration Lists, 1920-1939

    An index of passengers from the port of Bremen, Germany from 1920 to 1939, 737,505 records Search collection now

    A much more detailed description of each collection may be found in the MyHeritage Blog at: https://blog.myheritage.com/2020/11/historical-record-collections-added-in-october-2020/


  • 3 Nov 2020 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    The man on the hiking trail went by “Mostly Harmless." He was friendly and said he worked in tech. After he died in his tent, no one could figure out who he was.

    In April, 2017, a man started hiking in a state park just north of New York City. He then headed south on the Appalachian Trail and then continued on a series of hiking trails in Florida. He seemed pleasant, talked with many people he met along the trails, but apparently never told anyone his true name or even his origins. He became known as “Mostly Harmless,” a reference to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    He said he didn't have a cell phone or any other high-tech device even though he told some people he had worked in the tech industry and he wanted to detox from digital life. He didn't carry credit cards but always seemed to have a lot of cash in his pocket.

    On July 23, 2018, two hikers in Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve found “Mostly Harmless” dead in his tent. Investigators were unable to understand how or why he died. There were no indications of foul play, an autopsy was unable to determine his cause of death. He had more than $3,500 cash in the tent. He had food nearby, but he was very slender, weighing just 83 pounds on a 5'8" frame. He had no tattoos or other unusual markings. His fingerprints didn’t match those of anyone else on file. His DNA didn’t match any in the Department of Justice’s missing person database or in CODIS, the national DNA database run by the FBI.

    The case of identifying the mysterious man soon spread like wildfire on the internet. Even GEDMatch, a database of DNA samples that people have submitted voluntarily, was consulted but there was no close relative found of “Mostly Harmless.”

    This sounds to me like a good challenge for genealogists. We are all experienced searchers looking for unknown people. Usually, we search for our unknown ancestors but the same skills often can be used to find other unknown individuals as well.

    Interested?

    You can read much more about “Mostly Harmless” in an article by Nicholas Thompson published in the Wired web site at https://www.wired.com/story/nameless-hiker-mostly-harmless-internet-mystery/ as well as in hundreds of other websites.

    Can you determine who “Mostly Harmless” really was?

  • 2 Nov 2020 8:48 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

    FamilySearch added 2.8M more records this week to its Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records 1626–2001 collection, and significant additions to Fiji, Vital Records 1900–1941 and Bolivia, Catholic Church Records, 1566–1996. Collections were also expanded for Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, Peru, Puerto RicoS. Africa and the United States (California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, and Washington).  

    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 fill list is very long, too long to list here. However, you can find the full list at: https://media.familysearch.org/new-free-historical-records-on-familysearch-week-of-2-november-2020/:

  • 2 Nov 2020 8:08 PM | Anonymous
    The following announcement was written by Fold3:

    We’ve added a new collection of WWII records from Germany. The Germany, Military Killed in Action 1939-1948 collection contains index cards for about 2 million German soldiers killed during WWII.

    Researching German WWII soldiers can be tricky because many service records were destroyed during the war. 1939, the High Command of the German Wehrmacht began operating an information center for war casualties and prisoners of war. Initially, the agency was called WASt (short for Wehrmachtsauskunftstelle für Kriegsverluste und Kriegsgefangene). In 1946, it was renamed Deutsche Dienststelle für die Benachrichtigung der nächsten Angehörigen von Gefallenen der ehemaligen deutschen Wehrmacht (German Office for the Notification of Next-of-Kin of Members of the Former German Armed Forces who were Killed in Action). The name is commonly shortened as Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt). In 2019, that service became part of the German Federal Archives as the newly established Department PA (Information on Personal Data related to World Wars I and II) and is based in Berlin-Reinickendorf.

    The index cards in this collection contain information that can help research German soldiers who were killed in WWII including:

    • Name
    • Birthdate and Birthplace
    • Unit, Reserve Unit, Identification Number, Rank
    • Date of Death, Time of Death, Place of Death, and Type of Casualty
    • Burial Date, Location, and Grave Number (if known)

    These records are written in German but can be interpreted using the following example:

    Explore these index cards in the Germany, Military Killed in Action 1939-1948 collection on Fold3 today!

  • 2 Nov 2020 8:31 AM | Anonymous

    The following is an announcement from the Irish Genealogical Research Society:

    The Irish Genealogical Research Society is pleased to announce the inauguration of its Wallace Clare Award, through which it intends to celebrate outstanding, long-term contributions to the development of Irish genealogy worldwide. In this initial year the award is being presented to four recipients, all of whom have made a significant impact on aspects of the study of the genealogy of the people and diaspora of Ireland. 

    Reflecting the global spread of Irishness, two of the recipients are from the USA and one is from Argentina. The fourth person is honoured posthumously for a major one-name study that involved records from many countries. The four inaugural recipients are Marie E. Daly, from Massachusetts; Christina Hunt, from Pennsylvania; Guillermo MacLoughlin, from Buenos Aires; and the late William D. O’Ryan.

    Marie E. Daly

    Marie has been researching, lecturing, and writing about Irish genealogy since 1976, the year she made her first visit to Ireland. In 1983 she helped found the Massachusetts-based TIARA (The Irish Ancestral Research Association) and she served as president for its first three years. She joined the staff of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston in 1987. Over three decades she worked in the posts of Chief Financial Officer, Director of Library Services and Senior Genealogist. She led NEHGS’s Irish research programs for decades. Along the way she edited TIARA’s Newsletter, contributed to gravestone transcription projects, wrote in NEHGS’s publications, Register and Nexus, lectured at conferences in New England and Ireland, and worked on her own family history. With Judith Lucey, she wrote NEHGS’s Genealogist's Handbook for Irish Research, published in 2016. She retired the following year but she continues to pursue local and family history, serving as a board member and municipal commissioner on a number of genealogical and historical organisations.

    Christina Hunt

    Chris is a dynamo in Irish genealogy. She is the moving force behind the Ireland Genealogy Projects (IGP) founded in 2000 and which encourages others to contribute a wide variety of genealogical information and data: church records, directories, gravestone inscriptions, memorial cards, newspaper obituaries, wills, etc. Since 2012 she has been the overall manager for the entire project, overseeing the collation and digitization of many useful records for the worldwide Irish genealogy community. Under her guidance IGP has grown to be a serious provider of free online Irish genealogical data. In order to help promote the Project, in 2012 Chris set up a number of IGP county pages on Facebook, through which thousands of people on a weekly basis learn and exchange knowledge about Irish genealogical research and history.

    Guillermo MacLoughlin

    Guillermo's unique contribution to Irish genealogy lies in his long and influential position amongst people of Irish descent in Argentina and his involvement in Irish-Argentine relations. Argentina has one of the most proud and active Irish Diaspora in the world, where at least half a million Argentines have Irish ancestors. Guillermo is sixth generation Irish in Argentina. His father's family is entirely of Irish descent and originates in Glascorn, five miles from Mullingar, in Co. Westmeath, and his mother's family is a mix Irish and Spanish descent. He is a public accountant, an economist, a historian, but not least an expert genealogist and a long standing member of the IGRS who has lectured widely and whose research has appeared in many publications. Since 2009 Guillermo has held the position of director and editor-in-chief of The Southern Cross, an Argentinian newspaper founded in 1875, covering Irish current affairs, cultural and social matters, and issues of historic and genealogical interests. Guillermo’s association with The Southern Cross dates back to the mid-1970s when its then editor encouraged him to write local histories relating to the Irish community in Argentina. Guillermo has since gone on to map the story of the Irish in Argentina.

    William Delmar O’Ryan (1915-1969):

    This award is made posthumously. Up until his death Bill O’Ryan had over the course of a number of decades amassed a huge quantity of genealogical material relating to the surname Ryan, O’Ryan or Mulryan from around the globe. This was helped by the fact that Bill worked for the US Foreign Service, which facilitated him travelling overseas. Wherever he visited he attempted to acquire Ryan biographical, historical and genealogical information, no matter how brief. Some of the places where he gathered data include Argentina, Canada, Chile, England, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Tenerife, USA, Vatican State, and the West Indies. After Bill’s death, at a relatively young age, a letter was found in which he hoped that the IGRS would benefit from his work. He had been a member of the IGRS since 1963. His collection ran to seven filing cabinets stuffed with paperwork which, as his son, Rick, and daughter, Josephine, said on accepting the Award for their father, was achieved “with a typewriter, carbon paper, pen and stamps as well as his many visits to libraries around Europe and the world”. A digital copy of Bill’s material has been donated to the IGRS which will in due course become available on the Society’s website.

    The Wallace Clare Award

    The Award is named in honour of Rev. Wallace Clare (1895-1963), a Catholic priest and keen academic who founded the IGRS in 1936. This was as a response to the great conflagration of 1922, which consumed almost the entire contents of Ireland’s Public Record Office. Fr. Clare was the author of the first ever work on Irish ancestral research, A Simple Guide to Irish Genealogy, published in 1937, and he was the first individual to be elected a Fellow of the IGRS. Since its foundation, the Society has gathered together an invaluable collection of transcripts and abstracts compiled from documents subsequently destroyed in the fire. It is the world’s oldest membership organisation devoted to the study and pursuit of Irish genealogy.

  • 2 Nov 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    From an article by Heather Morrison and published in the MassLive web site:

    "Salem’s typically filled with ghost tours, visitors walking through cemeteries and other haunted happenings. This year, however, the city is discouraging visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    "But that doesn’t mean people can’t still discover the stories behind the well-known city.

    "The city of Salem has been working with Laserfiche, a software company, for about three years to preserve some of its oldest documents, creating an online database for the public to search."

    Later in the same article:

    "Another reason many come to Salem is to gather information about someone’s family history or genealogy.

    “They can go and look at the original land grants information. They can track to when that became a parcel. They can track when that became a house. They can track the changes in the ownership of that house, various permits that were issued for that house or property, various other actions that happened over time,” Killen said. “And they can do that all safely at home. They don’t need to come to Salem. They don’t need to come into an office. They don’t need to interact with one or more potentially several staff members.”

    You can find the full article at: https://bit.ly/2HRhfTN.

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