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  • 11 Jun 2024 9:20 AM | Anonymous

    The genealogy company has digitized and published 38,000 newspaper articles from between 1788 and 1867—before Black Americans were counted as citizens in the U.S. census.

    Thanks to the rise of commercial genealogy platforms, millions of Americans are now researching their family histories. However, for many Black Americans, the process can be challenging, if not impossible, because of insufficient documentation describing their enslaved ancestors.

    Now, a newly released database of historic records may help fill in some of those gaps. This week, Ancestry published 38,000 newspaper articles containing the names, ages, physical descriptions and locations of more than 183,000 enslaved people in America.

    “Sometimes data can feel impersonal, but what this significant number really represents is over 183,000 formerly enslaved individuals—people who may not have been named or recognized since the original newspaper publications,” Nicka Sewell-Smith, a genealogist and senior story producer for Ancestry, tells Smithsonian magazine.

    The collection, called “Articles of Enslavement,” is free for anyone to access online. Ancestry has already digitized more than 18 million records related to formerly enslaved or newly emancipated individuals, drawn from sources such as the Freedmen’s Bureauand the United States census.

    The newly published documents, which cover the years between 1788 and 1867, could help Black families across the country who are interested in tracing their roots. Black Americans were counted as citizens on the census for the first time in 1870, and records from before that year are scarce. “Ancestry tracing often leads to dead ends, uncertainty and more questions, especially when it comes to identifying the enslaved,” as Tracy Scott Forson wrote for Smithsonian earlier this year.

    As such, to find information from before 1870, Black families need documents other than census records—which the new Ancestry collection might be able to help with. More broadly, the documents could also provide historians with new insights into chattel slavery in the U.S.

    “By piecing together individual stories, researchers can construct a more detailed picture of the lived experiences of Black Americans, enriching our collective understanding of history,” says Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, a scholar of Africana studies at Morehouse College, in a statement from Ancestry.

    Some of the newspaper articles describe the buying and selling of enslaved people. Others are more like classified ads, with enslavers offering rewards for the return of runaways.

    For example, in 1788, an enslaver named David Hawkins published a short piece in the Poughkeepsie Journal offering a $10 reward for the return of two enslaved men, Prime and Nathaniel Rockwell, who’d absconded near Goshen in Orange County, New York. The article described each man’s appearance, clothing and age.

    You can read more in an article by Sarah Kuta published in the Smithsonian Magazine web site at:

  • 11 Jun 2024 8:56 AM | Anonymous

    Wiener Library teams up with Leo Baeck Institute to search for collection of 60,000 precious books looted by Nazis from The Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin

    A new exhibition has launched at London’s Wiener Holocaust Library.

    Produced by the Leo Baeck Institute, The Library of Lost Books runs until 10th July. The first project of its kind, it tells the story of an important German-Jewish institution, from its role as a vibrant space for learning to a victim of Nazi crime.

    The Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin (Hochschule des Judentums 1872 – 1942) was dedicated to the study of Jewish history, culture and religion.

    Considered one of the largest and most important Jewish libraries in the world, it welcomed scholars such as Rabbi Dr Leo Baeck and Franz Kafka. Its collection included books in languages including German, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Hungarian, Latin and English. In 1942 the Nazis targeted it for destruction.

    During the Holocaust the Hochschule’s unique library of books was looted by the Nazis and scattered across the globe.

    One last group photograph: lecturers, students and staff of the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in the reading room of their library, summer 1938. Pic:

    The new pop-up exhibition at the Wiener Library reveals the complex journeys looted books took in the aftermath of the Shoah. It forms part of an international project which aims to commemorate and educate about the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies.

    Alongside a series of online and physical exhibitions, the project also includes a global citizen science project to trace the 60,000 lost works. So far books have been found in Germany, the Czech Republic, Israel, the USA, and in Britain.

    You can read more in an article by Michelle Rosenberg published in the Jewish News web site at:

  • 10 Jun 2024 4:05 PM | Anonymous

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

    Registration for SLIG 2025 will open on June 22, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. MDT.

    Registration for SLIG Spring Virtual 2025 will open on June 22, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. MDT.
    If you don’t already have an account with our registration system, please create one BEFORE registration opens on June 22. We recommend doing this at least 24 hours before registration opens – in other words, please do this ASAP! You can set up your account at the SLIG registration page by clicking the link below. Download the SLIG Registration Guide here.

    Course Offerings

    Course 1: Organizing, Preserving, and Disaster-Proofing Your Family Archive
    Annette Burke Lyttle, MA, CG

    Course 2: Ethics and the Genealogist
    Gary Ball-Kilbourne, MDiv, PhD, CG, CGL

    Course 3: Advanced Techniques: Material Culture Research
    Gena Philibert-Ortega, MA, MAR

    Course 4: Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy
    Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

    Course 5: African American Genealogy Methods and Strategies
    LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, FASG

    Course 6: Advanced New England Research: From the Colonial Period to the Early 1900s
    D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, FUGA

    Course 7: Italian Genealogical Research, Methodologies, and Sources
    Suzanne Russo Adams, MA, AG

    Course 8: DNA Dreamers: Integrating DNA Evidence to Resolve Complex Cases
    Karen Stanbary, LCSW, AM, CG, CGG

    Course 9: Advanced Genealogical Methods
    Paul K. Graham, CG, AG

    Course 10: Guided Research and Consultation
    Craig Roberts Scott, MA, CG, FUGA

    Course 1: Reconstructing Ancestral Neighborhoods & Networks
    Kimberly T. Powell and Gerald H. Smith, CG

    Course 2: Researching Women from 1860 to 1950
    Gena Philibert-Ortega, MA, MAR

    Course 3: A Century of Change: The Emigrant-Immigrant-Migrant Experience in the U.S., 1825–1925
    Pamela J. Vittorio, MA, PLCGS

    Course 4: The Art of Writing a Research Report
    Debra A. Hoffman, PLCGS

    Course 5: Bring ‘Em Back to Life: Writing Our Ancestors’ Stories
    Annette Burke Lyttle, MA, CG

    Course 6: Tracing French-Canadian Ancestors and Telling Their Stories
    David S. Ouimette, CG, CGL

    Course 7: Becoming an Accredited Genealogist Professional: The Why, the What, the How
    Lisa Stokes, AG

    Course 8: BCG Certification: Understanding and Meeting Standards
    Angela Packer McGhie, CG, FUGA, and Karen Stanbary, LCSW, AM, CG, CGG

    Tips to Ensure Registration Goes Smoothly

  • 10 Jun 2024 11:21 AM | Anonymous

    There is a very interesting human interest story on the CNN web site at:

    When Elana Milman published an autobiography last year about her lifelong quest to find her birth parents, she had accepted she would never know the identity of her father.

    But thanks to a DNA test and some serious “genealogical detective work,” Milman, a 77-year-old retired teacher born in a displaced persons camp in Bergen-Belsen, has just returned from Poland, where she had an emotional meeting with the brother she didn’t know she had until earlier this year.

    Growing up on a kibbutz in northern Israel, Milman had no idea her mother and father were not her birth parents until she was six, when she recalls a friend shared the “very big secret” he had heard.

    “I remember this feeling like yesterday, like a kind of stab in my tummy,” Milman, a retired teacher, told CNN on a video call.

    When confronted, her parents admitted that they had not brought her into the world but said they loved her and were raising her to have a “wonderful life.”

    Over the years, whenever she tried to discuss it, she was told: “When you grow up, you’ll know.”

    It was only in her 30s that Milman finally discovered her birth certificate, which – after some meticulous research – led her to her birth mother in Canada.

    The birth certificate showed she was born Helena Lewinska to a Polish-Jewish woman called Franziska Lewinska in 1947 at the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp, close to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp of the same name.

    However, in 1948 she arrived in what was then Palestine – just months before Israel’s independence – as part of a group of unaccompanied children from war-torn Europe. She was adopted by a childless couple, Eliezer and Hulda Rosenfeld, from Kibbutz Merhavia, near Haifa.

    Against the odds, Milman eventually tracked down her biological mother, who had married and changed her name, in Canada and even spent a year there with her family. The pair grew close over several years and although her mother, known as Franka, shared much about her wartime past before she died in the 1980s – how she survived the Holocaust by escaping from the Warsaw Ghetto and living on the other side of the city under a false identity, and how her parents and siblings perished at the Nazis’ Treblinka extermination camp – she refused to divulge the identity of Milman’s father.

    He was listed as Eugeniusz Lewinski on Milman’s birth certificate, but her research hit a brick wall as she found no evidence of anyone by that name.

    “Every time I quizzed my mother – like, what happened to her during the war and who was my father – she gave me different stories,” she told CNN. “When I bugged her too much, she said ‘the only thing I can tell you is that he was a very good singer and dancer – and very handsome.’”

    Last year, Milman – who has four children and 10 grandchildren – published an autobiography aptly entitled “When you grow up, you’ll know.” In an interview with an Israeli magazine at that time, she said she had come to terms with never knowing who her father was.

    Little did she know that Gilad Japhet, founder and chief executive of genealogy platform MyHeritage, would read the article and pass it to his research team, asking “can we help?”

    With Milman’s consent, they embarked on “genealogical detective work,” according to Roi Mandel, MyHeritage’s director of research.

    There were few clues to go on and it seemed as if Lewinska had, for whatever reason, given the “father” on the birth certificate the male version of her surname to create the impression they had been married.

    But then Milman took a DNA test, which proved crucial. It showed she was 50% Ashkenazi Jewish and 50% Eastern European and revealed a match with a Polish woman living in France. They shared 2.3% of their DNA – meaning they had a set of great-grandparents in common.

    The Polish woman could not explain the connection but she had a small family tree, which MyHeritage built upon using its extensive database of historical documents and with the help of a professional researcher who trawled the archives in Poland.

    “Luckily for us, the DNA test and the small match found for Elana with a Polish user was the little clue we needed,” Mandel told CNN in an email.

    “The research took six months, as part of which we mapped the family, mapping eight pairs of great-grandparents, and delved into each branch and its male descendants. We marked the potential candidates, who were in the right place, at the right time and of the right age.”

    That time, the researchers estimated, was somewhere between April 24 and 28 in 1946, leaving them with six prime suspects.

    Fortunately, they struck lucky first time, after deciding to focus on a man who shared a first name with the birth certificate entry: Eugeniusz Gorzkoś.

    Mandel’s team subsequently found and reached out to Gorzkoś’s son, Juliusz, a 72-year-old retired veterinarian in northern Poland.

    Shocked but intrigued, he agreed to a DNA test, which proved that he and Milman were half-siblings.

    Elana, right, and her biological mother Franziska (Franka), center, with her husband Yoseph Bursztajn and her other children, Mike and Diane, in 1981.

    Elana, right, and her biological mother Franziska (Franka), center, with her husband Yoseph Bursztajn and her other children, Mike and Diane, in 1981. 

    The pair first “met” at a virtual reunion facilitated by MyHeritage in March. Speaking through an interpreter, Milman told her brother that learning her identity had been the “project of my life.”

    There is more to the story in an article by Lianne Kolirin at:

  • 10 Jun 2024 7:24 AM | Anonymous

    Genealogy business Finders International has been sold to private equity firm Pelican Capital in an undisclosed deal. The sale will see Managing Director Danny Curran step away from the business he founded 27 years ago, with current deputy MD Simonne Llewllyn stepping up to become Finders International’s first CEO.

    Since launching in 1997, Finders has grown to become the largest genealogy business in the UK with offices in London, Edinburgh, and Cardiff, and has expanded internationally to Dublin, Ireland and Sydney, Australia. It employs more than 130 researchers and support staff and using proprietary built technology has successfully completed more than 10,000 missing beneficiary cases, working with the legal profession, councils, the NHS, and members of the public.

    “Having started Finders International as a sole trader in 1997 and grown the Company to become the force it is today, I feel it’s the right time for me to sell. It has been a privilege to work with amazing people, solve complex cases, reunite estates with rightful heirs, and bring families back together. 

    “I’m leaving the business in really good shape, with a fantastic team in place and plenty of opportunity to expand and develop. With Simonne as CEO, an experienced and accomplished leader, along with the strategic input from Pelican Capital, Finders is positioned well for future growth.”

    said Curran, who appeared on the BBC’s Heir Hunters which ran for 11 series from 2007 to 2018.

    Pelican Capital is a private equity firm founded in 2020. It says it invests in profitable companies that need up to £30m of equity to facilitate ownership change and drive growth, giving management teams access to the benefits of private equity capital ‘with a more personal approach than traditional private equity firms.’  The acquisition is expected to fuel further growth initiatives for Finders International.

    Newly appointed CEO, Simonne Llewellyn, joined Finders more than 20 years ago and has been its Deputy MD for the last 13 years. She has been a driving force within the research and management teams over recent years, and brings her collaborative management style and empowering leadership skills to the position.

    “I am delighted to take up the position of CEO. It is a very exciting time for the business and, with the backing of Pelican Capital, it is an extremely positive move for Finders generally. There are clear opportunities to expand and develop further and I look forward to achieving these alongside the Finders team, our stellar board of directors and the support of Pelican Capital.”

    Richard Morrison, Partner at Pelican Capital adds

    “With our entrepreneurial background, we understand what it means to build a business, so it was clear to us from the beginning that Danny had built something unique. Over the last 27 years, Finders International has grown from a startup into a market leader, and has developed a brilliant reputation amongst its clients. We are excited to partner with Simonne and her team in their ambitious plans to continue this growth, both organically and potentially by acquisition.”

  • 10 Jun 2024 7:03 AM | Anonymous

    This announcement was made several years ago but I apparently missed it at the time:

    The Tennessee State Public Library has put a database of family Bibles online and available for searching by the public.

    State Librarian Chuck Sherrill told The Chattanooga Times Free Press early Bibles served as the place where families marked milestones such as weddings, births and deaths.

    The database of 1,500 Bibles may serve as a treasure trove for genealogists and historians, a record of a time when Tennessee was wildly dangerous and human life seemed especially small and fragile.

    Sherrill said among the Bibles in the database are one from 1538 and a book dating to 1753. In Tennessee, birth certificates were not required until 1908 and, to this day, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will accept a family Bible’s list of births as one proof of citizenship for those with no birth certificate.

    “On the U.S. frontier, the family Bible might be the only book in existence for 100 miles,” Sherrill said. “Those early Bibles did not have lined pages inside where you could record births, deaths and weddings the way modern Bibles do. Families inserted pages or wrote on the flyleaves of their Bibles. When families recorded the important events in their lives in the sacred book, it gave them a sense of permanence. These were books that were meant to be handed down through the generations.”

    Southern Adventist University history department head Lisa Diller said historians are often fascinated by comparisons of information in family Bibles to government data.

    “(The Bible information) shows how people saw their family structure and what they thought was important to their identity and the family group,” Diller said.

    Sherrill cautions that researchers using the family Bibles should know that the information was not fact-checked.

    Historians have noted anomalies in the way different ethnicities and races use family Bibles. Some families altered wedding dates to protect the privacy of children born out of wedlock, for example, while Quaker families dispensed with that subterfuge.

    Veteran genealogists observe that some Bibles offer more detailed family trees of the spouse with whose family owns the most land or the most widely respected name, she says. Some family Bibles offer a cause of death which differs from the one listed on the public record. Was the family hiding a secret or did the government want to avoid a panic about a possible flu epidemic?

    “Those kinds of discrepancies are interesting; were there things that people didn’t want written down?” Diller said.

    Page Goodman, floor manager at LifeWay Christian bookstore near Hamilton Place, found some family Bibles that had entries for “Blessings, Times of Hardship, Answered Prayers and a photo album.” One Bible had a place where the hair and eye color of newborns could be noted.

    “I’d say this is a recent trend. Most Bibles focus on births, deaths and weddings in the pages for family history,” Goodman said.

    An index to the Bibles may be found at:

  • 10 Jun 2024 6:50 AM | Anonymous

    All hail John Grenham, professional genealogist, database creater, author and all-round good egg.

    Following the removal of Dublin City Council's 'Heritage Databases' from the platform, John has today uploaded his own back-up copies (he created them) of five of the most genealogically useful databases to his Irish Ancestors site.

    They are:

    • Dublin Voters 1938-1957
    • Dublin Municipal Voters 1899, 1908-1915 
    • Dublin Graveyards Directory 
    • Dublin Cemeteries - burial registers from Clontarf, Drimnagh and Finglas
    • Dublin Freemen to 1774

    These databases are now free to search and view at this page:

    This is a temporary step while DCC overcomes its compliance issues. See John's blogpost – Some of me oul' darlin' databases are back online – for more details.

  • 10 Jun 2024 6:40 AM | Anonymous

    As fire tore through downtown Copenhagen's Old Stock Exchange in mid-April, many people in the Danish capital rushed toward the flames and emerged carrying paintings, sculptures, and other important items from Denmark's cultural heritage.

    Seven weeks on and with about half the 17th-century building destroyed — including its iconic dragon-tail spire — Denmark's Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt said that more than 90% of the building's cultural objects had been rescued from the fire.

    ''People from the fire brigade, employees, and volunteers just coming out of the streets were helping to save the artworks,'' Engel-Schmidt told The Associated Press in an interview. ''More than 350 artifacts and paintings were saved from the fire."

    Engel-Schmidt said some items couldn't be saved, including a sculpture too heavy for rescuers to lift, and artworks painted directly on the building's walls. The sculpture was a copy of work by Danish neo-classicist artist Bertel Thovaldsen of King Christian IV who died in 1648. The monarch is credited for having had the Old Stock Exchange built.

    The saved objects are now stored in a modern, air-conditioned National Museum warehouse in Vinge near Frederikssund, about 35 kilometers (22 miles), northwest of Copenhagen. The facility is surrounded by fences, moats, and thick concrete walls.

    ''Some of the 170 paintings are being restored right now,'' Engel-Schmidt said. ''Others are in a very good quality and will be on loan to different museums in the months to come so the public and the Danish people can enjoy them again.''

    You can read more in an article by James Brooks published in the web site at:

  • 10 Jun 2024 6:33 AM | Anonymous

    The following is a Ka Ipu Makani Cultural Heritage Center News Release:

    Ka Ipu Makani Cultural Heritage Center’s Moaʻe Molokai Digital Repository is excited to announce the release of over 1,300 newspaper scans from the 1950s. Supported by a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, these scans include 287 issues from the Ka Leo o Molokai and the Friendly Isle News.

    Ka Leo o Molokai, printed in English, graced the island’s readers weekly from Dec. 8, 1950, to Nov. 11, 1955. Sponsored by the Molokai Chamber of Commerce and managed by the Molokai Civic Group Advisory Board, it operated under the guidance of Dorothy Tanner and Louise Borsella, with Marie Horner at the editorial helm. Though some debate its status as the island’s inaugural paper, its significance remains unquestionable.

    Following in its footsteps, The Friendly Isle News took up the torch, also in weekly editions from Nov. 18, 1955, to Jan. 1957. Owned and edited by Marie Gallard, it continued the tradition of capturing the essence of Molokai life. Both publications provided vivid depictions of Molokai’s residents during this period, highlighting their roles in plantation work, the burgeoning local business scene, and the vibrant community activities. From church services to sports tournaments, and the evolving landscape of towns like Kaunakakai, Maunaloa, and Kualapuʻu, these newspapers served as invaluable chroniclers of the island’s history. Their preservation through digitization by Ka Ipu Makani for inclusion in the Moaʻe Molokai Digital Repository ensures that these snapshots of island life endure for future generations to explore and appreciate.

    The scans are available on the Moaʻe Molokai Digital Repository website, Community members are also encouraged to follow @kaipumakani on Instagram for sneak peeks and insights into the newspaper collection.

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