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  • 26 Oct 2020 8:55 AM | Anonymous

    From an article by Caleb Williams of Brigham Young University:

    "Ashlyn Taylor, a Brigham Young University student working for the Center of Family History and Genealogy, starts her day by clocking in and jumping on the computer to track genetic heritage through census data and DNA analysis.

    "Once a week, Taylor joins a call with Dr. Brian Shirts and his team of researchers at the University of Washington to chart progress on research goals for a very specific project: ending preventable hereditary diseases, like cancer, using family history.

    "While conducting genetic testing, Shirts discovered the same MSH2 gene variant in two individuals that shared no obvious relationship. Wondering if there was some genetic component, a staffer conducted genealogical research and discovered that these two were third cousins.

    "Through extended family history research, dozens of descendants from the same common ancestor were identified and received preventative screening and care for cancer."

    You can read the full article at:

  • 23 Oct 2020 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    Warning: This article contains personal opinions.

    I was driving down the road recently, listening to a local news station on the car radio. The newscaster was interviewing a so-called security “expert” about proposed legislation supposedly designed to prevent identity theft and credit card abuse. This “expert” claimed that we needed legislation to prevent access to birth records by “unauthorized” individuals. Sound familiar? Yes, we have heard and seen this song-and-dance act before. This guy wants to lock genealogists out of the records that we have used for the past century or so. The so-called “expert” claimed that the Internet makes it too easy for someone to find your mother’s maiden name, and that, of course, is the foundation of all security systems, right?

    Let me press the button for that obnoxious sounding buzzer. BZZZZZ! Wrong answer!

    I started laughing so hard that I almost drove off the road.

    The problem isn’t easy access to your mother’s maiden name; the real problem is dumb security systems that depend upon public domain information for so-called security. Hey, if it needs to be secure, can’t you guys come up with a better key phrase than your mother’s maiden name? Sheesh, even I can do better than that!

    The only purpose for asking your mother’s maiden name is to create a “passphrase” that you can remember in case the company ever needs to identify you in the future. In reality, it doesn’t need to be your mother’s maiden name. They could just as easily use your great-great-grandmother’s maiden name or the name of your First Grade teacher or your favorite song or your pet’s name or your gym locker number. The only requirement is that it is something that you will be able to recall instantly at any future date and that it is not known to others.

    Any institution that uses the mother's maiden name as a "security tool" is really behind the times and needs to quickly hire a real security expert, not some yahoo who uses fuzzy thinking. Even novice security managers would immediately change that policy.

    In the United States, mothers’ maiden names and other personal information are available from numerous public sources. That information has always been in the public domain. The invention of the Internet did not really change anything. A mother’s maiden name could easily be discovered fifty years ago, and the same is still true today. Anyone who uses a mother’s maiden name “for security purposes” obviously doesn’t know much about security.

    I have refused to do business with a couple of companies that insisted upon using my mother’s maiden name as a security identifier. I don’t want to do business with any company with such a lame security policy. I advise you to do the same: boycott companies that have inadequate security policies.

    However, if you really need to do business with a company that insists upon using your mother’s maiden name for “security” purposes, please remember that you can always create a fictitious name on the spot. The bank doesn’t care what name you give them; all they want is something to enter in the blank space on their form, something that you can recall later. They couldn’t care less if it is the correct name or not. By using a fictitious name, your security will not be compromised by a Web site, by a minimum-wage employee at an insurance company, or by a criminal’s surreptitious visit to the state Vital Records Department.

    When I last created a new account and was asked for my mother’s maiden name, I answered "Fudpucker."

    I guarantee two things: (1.) I can remember that, and (2.) nobody is ever going to find that piece of information online unless they happen to read this article. The name of Fudpucker fits my needs perfectly as well as the needs of the company I was dealing with at the time. Oh, to be sure, I did get a strange look from the clerk filling out the form, but who cares? She wrote it down, and the name Fudpucker remains a part of that company’s records. I do feel much more secure than I would feel if I had used the correct name.

    By the way, Fudpucker was NOT my mother's maiden name.

    I would suggest that you do the same. You can use the same funny name that I chose or some other name you can easily remember. It makes no difference. You might use the maiden name of some ancestress from 200 years ago. Will the company care? No. Will the criminal care? Yes! You just protected your privacy far better than any dumb piece of legislation restricting access to birth records can ever accomplish.

    If an elected official or other bureaucrat tries to limit access to vital records, please feel free to send them a copy of this article. Tell them it’s time to wake up and look at the real issues and to stop trying to protect a maiden name policy that is ineffective to begin with. Then vote against that politician in the next election. You don’t want a backwards mentality like that in public office!

    "If you send a damned fool to Washington, and you don’t tell them he’s a damned fool, they’ll never find out." -- Mark Twain, 1883

    A smarter politician would sponsor a bill to prohibit financial institutions from using a mother’s maiden name or any other piece of public domain information for security purposes. But, then again, when did you ever see a smarter politician?

  • 23 Oct 2020 1:05 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

    We are pleased to announce the publication of three important Welsh historical record collections on MyHeritage: Wales, Parish Births and Baptisms; Wales, Parish Marriages and Banns; and Wales, Parish Deaths and Burials. The collections consist of 14.8 million indexed historical records and cover over 450 years of Welsh history. High quality scans of the original documents will be added very soon. These collections are the only source of genealogical information in Wales before the 19th century, making them an invaluable resource for anyone researching their Welsh heritage. 

    Here are more details about the new Welsh collections:

    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

    In 1537, the Church of England mandated the keeping of parish registers of all births and baptisms, marriages, and deaths in Wales. For nearly three centuries these records were the only vital records documented in Wales. In 1837, civil registrations of births & baptisms, marriages, and deaths were required throughout all of England and Wales. These records are already on MyHeritage and can be found in our U.K. collections.

    Unlike most countries where civil registrations replaced parish records, Wales parish records continue to be recorded. These collections contain records as recent as 2005, making the Wales Parish collections some of the longest spanning collections on MyHeritage.

    Parish baptisms, marriages, and burials were all recorded in a single volume until 1774, at which point the law changed to require a separate marriage register and another one for marriage banns (proclamations of an intent to marry). Standardized forms for these registers appeared in 1812. 

    The amount of information in registers varies from parish to parish. Later records generally give more complete information than earlier ones. Some early parish registers are in Latin. A few very early registers are in Welsh or have occasional entries in Welsh. Local dialects may have affected the spelling of names or places. 

    The records may use the patronymic naming system. This system started in Wales in the 15th century and continued through the mid-18th century. In Wales, this usually involved adding ‘ab’ or ‘ap’ between the child’s first name and the father’s first name. For example, Dylan ap Lewis is Dylan son of Lewis.

    The collections aren’t limited to members of the Church of England, and other religious denominations often registered life events with their local parish. 

    Wales, Parish Births and Baptisms

    There is a lot more information available in the MyHeritage Blog at:

  • 23 Oct 2020 12:56 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    Explore over 200 years of history this Findmypast Friday.

    Warwickshire Burials

    Spanning 1874-2016, Findmypast have added over 90,000 additional burial records from Birmingham.

    The Birmingham cemeteries and crematoriums covered in these latest updates are:

    • Handsworth Cemetery, 2008-2011
    • Key Hill Cemetery, 1937-2009
    • Lodge Hill Cemetery, 1905-2011
    • Lodge Hill Crematorium, 1951-2011
    • Quinton Cemetery, 1874-2011
    • Sutton Coldfield Cemetery, 1906-2011
    • Sutton Coldfield Crematorium, 2012-2016
    • Warstone Lane Cemetery, 1950-2007
    • Yardley Cemetery, 1894-2011
    • Yardley Crematorium, 1952-2008

    Burial records can reveal useful information about your ancestors including their names, ages, when they died and where they were laid to rest. Importantly, they sometimes also feature the names of other family members.

    Scotland, Forfarshire (Angus), Dundee Death Index 1990-1993

    Listing those who died in Dundee in the early ‘90s, discover essential family tree information with this useful collection. Areas covered include:

    • The City of Dundee
    • Invergowrie
    • Longforgan
    • Lundie
    • Liff & Benvie
    • Birkhill
    • Muirhead
    • Auchterhouse
    • Mains and Strathmartine
    • Tealing
    • Kellas
    • Murroes
    • Monifieth North
    • Burgh of Monifieth

    You can use the records to discover names and addresses, along with birth and death dates.

    Scotland, Ayrshire Census & Population Lists 1801-1831

    Discover Ayrshire ancestors, their ages, addresses, occupations and more with this early 19th-century resource.

    Before the 1841 census, enumerators mainly provided statistical returns. Some of them, including those in Ayrshire, also kept lists of householders and their details. Find out more about the history of the UK Census with our go-to guide.


    Burton Observer and Chroniclecovering 1911-1949 and 1951-1979, and Boxingcovering 1909-1912, are brand new to our newspaper collection this week.

    Findmypast have also updated six papers with extra editions as follows:

    • Civil & Military Gazette (Pakistan) from 1894, 1906 and 1910-1912
    • Halifax Evening Courier from 1914, 1935-1937 and 1944-1958
    • Daily Mirror from 1945 and 1952
    • The Halesworth Times and East Suffolk Advertiser from 1887 and 1900-1926
    • Bromyard News from 1955-1960
    • Marylebone Mercury from 1938


  • 23 Oct 2020 12:42 PM | Anonymous

    According to an article by Daisy Yuhas, published in the NBC News web site:

    Many factors boost a child's chance of success in school — like having wealthy parents who can afford tutors. But recent research has raised another possibility — one that is discomforting to many — the idea that scientists might someday be able to spot the genetic markers associated with academic performance.

    To do this, researchers are turning to a relatively new genetic approach called the polygenic score, which assesses a person’s likelihood for a specific future based on a combination of genetic variables. It’s a research technique that some scientists are using to assess obesity or cancer risk, for instance. Now, researchers are exploring this approach in non-medical contexts, like academic or athletic success.

    However, scientists are urging caution with the use of this new study. The accuracy of this new genetic approach is not yet proven.

    You can read the full article at

  • 22 Oct 2020 8:12 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies:

    The 41st Annual IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will take place in historic Philadelphia, PA, Aug. 2- 5, 2021.

    IAJGS has also announced that the Call for Proposals is now open until Nov. 19.

    Close to 1000 participants are expected from across the US and around the world.

    The conference will feature more than 100 speakers, with more than 250 sessions covering virtually every aspect of Jewish genealogy.

    We are encouraging genealogists, both new and veteran speakers, to submit proposals for topics they are interested in presenting,” said Judi Missel, lead co-chair. Proposed abstracts which meet one of the following theme categories are encouraged, along with other broad topics in Jewish genealogy as well. The Conference tracks are: Early Jewish Settlers of the Americas, Innovative Methodology, Keepers of the Shoah Memory, Beginners, DNA Insights for Genealogy, and Heritage and Cultural Material.

    Presentations will be 45 minutes, with 15 minutes for Q & A. In addition, non-traditional presentations can be submitted for Computer Labs, Panels and Poster Sessions.

    Deadline for submitting proposals is Thursday, Nov. 19. Details on the Call for Proposals can be found on The Conference Facebook Discussion Group is at

    Programs at the Conference will be geared from first-timers to conference veterans, and will include lectures, lunches, computer labs, and networking through Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Birds of a Feather (BOFs). An Exhibitor Hall and Resource Room will include genealogy experts, mentors and archivists for a one-stop research experience at the conference site.

    Planning for the Conference is now in progress and details of the conference, including registration, will be posted on the conference website: as they become available. Hotel reservation information will not be available until January.

    The Conference is hosted by IAJGS, an umbrella organization of more than 93 Jewish genealogical organizations worldwide. The Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGASGP) is the local co-host. Fred Blum, a past president of the Philadelphia Society is Conference co-chair. “We are excited to host this year’s Conference in Philadelphia, a city with a vibrant Jewish community and an abundance of historical attractions and genealogical resources,” he said.

    The IAJGS coordinates and organizes activities such as its annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and provides a unified voice as the spokesperson on behalf of its members.

    The IAJGS’s vision is of a worldwide network of Jewish genealogical research organizations and partners working together as one coherent, effective and respected community, enabling people to succeed in researching Jewish ancestry and heritage. Find the IAJGS at: and like us on Facebook at

  • 22 Oct 2020 1:23 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by TheGenealogist:

    TheGenealogist are launching the complete set of all Anglican records for Wales held by the consortium of Welsh archives on 23rd October. This release contains 8 million Parish Records, listing over 14.5 million individuals, with images of the original registers.

    Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist said:

    We are very excited to be releasing parish records for all 13 historic Welsh counties.” He went on to say:

    We’re thankful for the input of Welsh records experts from the archives, to make sure that we have accurate parish and place names. This will make it much easier for researchers to find records that they may have experienced difficulties with trying to find elsewhere.

    TheGenealogist’s keyword search makes it surprisingly easy to find the record you’re after and SmartSearch allows you to find families in the registers.

    These records compliment our nonconformist records for Wales which include Methodists, Quakers and more, giving researchers the ultimate resource for finding their Welsh ancestors’ vital events.”

    This release includes all historic Welsh counties:-

    Anglesey, Brecknockshire, Caernarfonshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Merionethshire, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire, Pembrokeshire and Radnorshire.

    Kim Collis, West Glamorgan County Archivist, says on behalf of all the Welsh archives contributing their parish records:

    We are delighted that TheGenealogist is releasing these records to a wider audience. Being able to access them from the comfort of your own home, especially during the current situation, is of great benefit.

    For this release, we’ve painstakingly gone through the metadata, improving all the place names in this record set, recording chapels of ease, parent parishes of modern parishes, and variant spellings in the English and Welsh languages. This will mean that searches for your ancestor in the parish records, which previously might have turned up no results, will have a much greater chance of finding them for you.

    If you’ve previously struggled to find your ancestors’ Welsh Parish Records, I’d really encourage you to search these records.”

    To find out more about Welsh Parish Records and this release, visit

    This release has been made possible by the participation of the following archives:-

    Anglesey Archives, Carmarthenshire Archive Service, Ceredigion Archives, Conwy Archive Services, Denbighshire Archives, Flintshire Record Office, Glamorgan Archives, Gwent Archives, Gwynedd Archives Service, Pembrokeshire Archives and Local Studies, Powys Archives and West Glamorgan Archive Service.

    Ruth Jones will be searching for her Welsh roots in
    Who Do You Think You Are? airing on Monday 26th October on BBC One in the U.K. TheGenealogist has found her ancestors in this new collection. Read about it here (WARNING: Contains spoilers)

  • 21 Oct 2020 3:05 PM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This is a slightly updated version of an article I published several years ago. A newsletter reader sent a message to me recently expressing dissatisfaction with records that once were available online but recently have disappeared. I am offering this republished article as an explanation about why we should not be surprised when that happens. I believe that every genealogist should understand why this happens so this article bears repeating every year or two. Please feel free to republish this article in newsletters, message boards, or forward it in email messages as you see fit.

    I will also offer a suggestion as to making sure you keep your own copies of online records that are valuable to you.

    A newsletter reader sent an email message to me recently expressing dissatisfaction that a set of images of vital records has been removed from one of the very popular genealogy sites. Indeed, removal of any online records of genealogical value is sad, but not unusual. Changes such as these are quite common on FamilySearch, MyHeritage,, Fold3, FindMyPast, and many other genealogy sites that provide digital images of old records online. Removal of datasets has occurred dozens of times in the past, and I suspect such things will continue to happen in the future. I thought I would write a brief explanation.

    In almost all cases, information of genealogical value obtained from government agencies, religious groups, museums, genealogy societies, and other organizations is provided under contractual agreements. The contracts specify what information is to provided, how it is to be made available, and what price the web site has to pay to the provider for the records. All contracts also have a defined expiration date, typically 2 years or 3 years or perhaps 5 years after the contract is signed.

    When a contract nears expiration, the two parties usually attempt to renegotiate the contract. Sometimes renewal is automatic, but more often it is not. Maybe the information provider (the government agency, religious group, museum, genealogy society, and other organization) decides they want more money, or maybe they decide they no longer want to supply the data to the online genealogy service. For instance, in the time the information has been available online, the information provider may have learned just how valuable the information really is. The information provider may decide to ask for more money or may even refuse to provide the information any more since the provider may have a NEW plan to create their own web site and offer the same information online on their own, new website for a fee.

    Sure, that stinks for those of us who would like to have the information everywhere; but, it makes sense to most everyone else. I am sure the budget officer at most any state or local government archive thinks it makes sense.

    Every contract renegotiation is different, but it is not unusual to agree to disagree. The contract ends, and the web site provider legally MUST remove the information from their web site. The same thing frequently happens to all the other online sites that provide old records online.

    Moral of this story: If you find a record online that is valuable to you, SAVE IT NOW! Save it to your hard drive and make a backup copy someplace else as well. If there is no option to save, make a screenshot and save it on your hard drive or some other place where it will last for many years. Just because you can see the record online today does not mean that it will be available tomorrow.

  • 21 Oct 2020 1:02 PM | Anonymous

    From an article published in the City of Boston's website:

    "In the archives of the City of Boston’s Historic Burying Grounds Initiative, 11 fully intact gravestones lie ready to be placed in the correct burying ground. We’re looking for historians, researchers, and genealogists who may have records that indicate where the person was originally interred. If you have information that could help, please contact

    "The gravestones and fragments were removed from the site over several decades during the 20th century. Some gravestones had fallen over and others had previously broken and the fragments were lying on the ground. They were removed in order to save the gravestones from further deterioration or theft, in the hopes they could be repaired at a later date and put back in the site. Some of the gravestones were not well labeled, or the labels had deteriorated.

    "Some gravestones were returned to us a few years ago from storage at the Bostonian Society. They had been found during street repair work downtown and were given to the Bostonian Society for safekeeping. An article from the Boston Daily Globe from September 14, 1907 describes how many gravestones were "unearthed during the past 75 years  in various places in the business section of the City." These gravestones were used "to make covers for cesspools, wells, and chimneys."

    You can read the full article, including names of the deceased and pictures of the tombstones at:

    My thanks to newsletter reader David Dearborn for telling me about this story.

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