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  • 3 Jun 2024 7:54 AM | Anonymous

    On Tuesday 11th June at 2pm British Summer Time, Else Churchill will be presenting a free talk “Focus on the SoG Genealogical Treasure and Collections” which this month will focus on family papers, letters and diaries in the document collections. 

    You can book your free place at: https://members.sog.org.uk/events/653fd3a433d2260008c5cca1.

    The talk will be recorded so if you cannot attend it live you can still catch up later.


  • 31 May 2024 8:41 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

    One of my ongoing projects involves digitizing most every document that I may possibly need in the future and then having it available at my fingertips at any time. You might consider doing the same. Today's technology makes it simple to have all your required documents available whenever and wherever you need them.

    For instance, I had a doctor's appointment recently, and the doctor asked what medications I was taking. The problem is that I have difficulty remembering names of medicines that look like a mumbo-jumbo collection of random letters. I can't remember the names of my present and past prescriptions. Instead, I grabbed my ”smartphone,” touched an icon for my notes program, entered "prescriptions," and then touched SEARCH. A second or two later, a list of my prescribed medications appeared on the screen of the cell phone, which I was able to show to the doctor. Total time elapsed: about twenty seconds. That's not bad considering I was in the doctor's office at the time. It wasn't practical to go home and retrieve a list of medications.

    If the doctor wanted a copy for his records, I could display the list on the smartphone's screen, press SHARE, select EMAIL, and then send it to the doctor's office's email address. That's easier, faster, and produces better results than making photocopies! If the doctor wants a hard copy, he can print out the email message. Luckily, my doctor runs a paperless office; he doesn't save any paper. Everything in his office is digital. I like that doctor!

    I have also written several times about my ongoing efforts to digitize most all the genealogy books and magazines in my collection. Indeed, I am not limiting this to genealogy material; I am attempting to digitize most everything I might need ever again: receipts from both online and offline purchases, birth certificates, maintenance schedules for the automobiles, insurance policies, the user’s manual for the  refrigerator, my appointment book, my address book, my driver’s license, my ham radio license, my pilot's license, a scanned image of my passport (encrypted before being stored), lists of URLs (addresses) for web sites of interest, family photographs, insurance policy information, an encrypted list of all my credit cards with the card numbers, expiration dates, and the toll-free numbers shown on the back of each card, eyeglasses prescription, and most all other pieces of paper that arrive in the mail, except for the advertisements. Actually, I have even been known to scan an advertisement or two in cases where I wanted to keep the information. 

    I even scan my incoming bills although I don't receive many of those in the old-fashioned U.S. mail anymore. Almost all my bills now arrive by email and, of course, I save those as well.

    A few years ago, when a winter ice storm caused a tree branch to fall onto the brand-new fence that had been installed at home a few months earlier, I quickly snapped some pictures with my cell phone's camera and filed those pictures in my documents folder. When filing an insurance claim (which I also scanned), I printed the pictures and included them with the claim. I also saved a digital copy of the entire insurance claim, including the pictures. As the old saying states, "a picture is worth a thousand words." Those were words I didn't have to write on the insurance claim; the pictures show everything.

    Some years ago, I placed a motor home in storage for a couple of months. The clerk at the storage facility asked for a copy of my motor home insurance policy. I normally wouldn't be carrying insurance policies with me everywhere I go but in this case I did have an electronic copy of every insurance policy in my private area “in the cloud.” I pulled the cell phone out of my pocket, retrieved the images of the insurance policy from the cloud, and asked the clerk, “What's your email address?” He told me and I sent the document to his address, again with my cell phone. Within seconds, he had a copy of the insurance policy in his in-box and he could print it, if he wished to do so. Total elapsed time? About a minute or so.

    I find multiple reasons for scanning receipts. First, it's always nice to have receipts available at your fingertips in case there is a question about payment. Even more important, having these documents quickly available greatly simplifies the preparation of income taxes every year. 

    By the way, the Internal Revenue Service now PREFERS digital images or receipts and of income tax forms. The IRS doesn't have room for millions of filing cabinets to save all that paper! If you do supply all your info on paper, do you know what the IRS does with it? Yes, the IRS employees immediately scan everything upon receipt and then either return the paper to you (if you are at an audit in the same room as the IRS employee) or else the IRS employee throws your paper away!

    Storing thousands of documents requires a bit of disk space. Luckily, that space is now cheap. One-terabyte disk drives now sell for under $40. (That’s cheaper than purchasing an old-fashioned filing cabinet.) This project would have been impossible 15 years ago. It would have been difficult and expensive 5 years ago. Yet it is easy and inexpensive today. Even better, I also store duplicate copies of all the same files “in the cloud” in a highly-secure manner plus additional backups on a local hard drive connect to my computer's USB port. In fact, the documents stored “in the cloud” are encrypted and therefore are more secure than the copies kept on my computer's hard drive. 

    Credit card numbers, bank account information, my driver's license, my passport, and more are all strongly encrypted before being stored, even if stored in my computer's hard drive. Even the employees of the cloud-based file storage services cannot read my more sensitive files. Only I have access to the encrypted information. That's a lot more secure than trying to save printed documents!

    If my local hard drive ever crashes, I have multiple backup copies. In addition, the cloud-based copies are available wherever I am, as long as I have a data connection available on my cell phone, tablet computer, or laptop computer. I now have instant access to tens of thousands of documents wherever I am, even documents I saved 5 or 10 years ago. Just try to do something similar with paper documents!

    To make the process work easily and effectively, I also need software that stores the various documents and retrieves them quickly when needed, wherever I am. That software must be able to store and retrieve images as well as text, and do so quickly. Being able to retrieve information when at home is nice, but I find it much more important to be able to retrieve the same information when I am at a doctor's office, a dentist's office, the auto mechanic's, or the accountant's office. In fact, I also often retrieve information when standing in the aisle of a retail store. I even keep my grocery list in digital format and can retrieve it at any time, whether in a grocery store or while standing in my kitchen cooking dinner or anywhere else.

    The process is simple. 

    The remainder of this article is reserved for Plus Edition subscribers only. If you have a Plus Edition subscription, you may read the full article at: https://eogn.com/(*)-Plus-Edition-News-Articles/13364383(A Plus Edition password is required to access that article.)

    If you are not yet a Plus Edition subscriber, you can learn more about such subscriptions and even upgrade to a Plus Edition subscription immediately at https://eogn.com/page-18077
  • 31 May 2024 3:05 PM | Anonymous

    The General Records Office (GRO) holds the records from 1837 and includes the civil birth, marriage or death records for England and Wales has increased the price of the documents.  The price increase is not large:

    £2.50 for a digital image of a record, the GRO now charges £3. Currency exchange daily at the time of this posting one-pound sterling was equal to $1.27 (USD). 

    You can order certificates online or write to:

    General Register Office
    PO Box 2
    Southport
    PR8 2JD

     For records in Scotland contact the National Records of Scotland: https://www.gov.uk/national-records-of-scotland

    For records in Northern Ireland go to:  General Register Office for Northern Ireland.

  • 31 May 2024 3:01 PM | Anonymous

    The skeletal bones discovered in a plastic bag in California in 1985 have been positively identified as belonging to a lady who was born during the American Civil War and died more than a century ago. This identification was made by a laboratory that collaborates with law enforcement agencies to solve unsolved crimes around the United States. 

    In October 1985, a plastic bag containing partial skeleton remains was discovered near Channel Islands Harbor, located just west of Los Angeles. This information was provided by Othram, a laboratory that specializes in forensic genetic genealogy, in a news release. At that time, it was ascertained that the bones belonged to a female individual who had been in the age range of 35 to 50 at the time of her death. However, no other details were accessible. The case was investigated by officers from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. 

    The case remained unsolved for several decades. In 2016, data on the case was inputted into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, and a facial reconstruction was created using clay. Othram stated that despite the "extensive efforts" undertaken by law enforcement, no matches were found when a publicly published photo of the reconstruction was used to generate new leads. 

    In May 2023, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office-Cold Case Unit collaborated with the county medical examiner's office to send the forensic evidence from the case to Othram. The laboratory located in Texas utilizes DNA evidence and various forms of analysis, such as forensic genetic genealogy, to assist in the identification of remains, including those discovered in this particular case. 

    Othram scientists have successfully created a DNA extract and performed forensic-grade genome sequencing. This advanced technique allows for the creation of a comprehensive profile using only a little DNA sample. Using the DNA profile, the company's genetic genealogy team initiated thorough research, resulting in the discovery of fresh leads. 

    Investigators established contact with probable relatives and then obtained a reference sample of DNA from a potential family member. The DNA sample enabled law enforcement to conclusively determine that the remains belonged to Gertrude Elliott-Littlehale, a person born in 1864 and deceased in 1915. 

    Othram said that Elliott-Littlehale's burial site had been desecrated and her grave had been looted. The company did not provide a specific timeframe for when the grave was desecrated, but they mentioned that the skull had been removed and the resting place had been substantially disturbed. According to the United Nations' Environment Programme, plastic bags similar to the ones found with Elliott-Littlehale's remains were initially introduced in the 1960s and 70s, and then became widespread in the 80s. 

  • 31 May 2024 1:22 PM | Anonymous

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

    The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) is thrilled to announce that the esteemed Dr. John Colletta will briefly come out of retirement to teach alongside Karen Stanbary and her faculty in Karen’s new SLIG Fall Virtual 2024 course, "Memorializing Your Family History––From Intimidation to Empowerment!!!"
    Dr. Colletta, renowned for his passion and energetic teaching style, captivates audiences with his vivid storytelling! Despite official retirement, he has graciously agreed to participate and lead several sessions, bringing his enthusiasm for teaching and writing to this exciting new educational course!  

    About John Philip Colletta, Ph.D.

    For 40 years John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., has been helping family historians discover and write the stories of their ancestors. After working at the Library of Congress and teaching programs at the Smithsonian Institution and National Archives, he became a popular lecturer at NGS and FGS national conferences and a faculty member of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (U. of Georgia) and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. His publications include many articles, both scholarly and popular; two manuals, Finding Italian Roots and They Came in Ships; a murder mystery/family history, Only a Few Bones(the second edition includes instruction on how to write narrative family history); and a great course titled “Discovering Your Roots” available from The Teaching Company. The recipient of professional awards and honors, Dr. Colletta resides in Washington, D.C., where he earned his doctorate at the Catholic University of America.

    Seats for this course will sell out quickly! Register today at https://slig.ugagenealogy.org/cpage.php?pt=594


  • 30 May 2024 6:03 PM | Anonymous

    A MAJOR expansion of the site where Ireland’s national archives are held has begun this week.

    The state-of-the-art upgrade of the archive repository at the National Archives on Bishop Street in Dublin 8 is designed to “future-proof the records of the State over the coming decades in a purpose-built, modern archive building”.

    Costing €37m, the redevelopment project, which is due to be completed in 65 weeks, is being funded by the Department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and is being delivered in partnership with the Office of Public Works.

    It falls under the National Cultural Institutions investment programme as part of Project Ireland 2040.

    Speaking as the project started on May 22, Culture Minister Cartherine Martin said: “I am delighted to be here today as work begins on transforming the archive repository at the National Archives.

    “We saw, during the Decade of Centenaries, the vital role the National Archives plays in preserving the precious records of the State.

    “The expansion and conversion of the Bishop St building to a modern, state of the art, secure and environmentally-controlled repository, complying with internationally accepted archival storage standards, will provide an increase of two-thirds in the total storage capacity of the National Archives.”

    She added: “This is significant project for one of our Cultural Institutions and ensures the National Archives can meet its evolving needs in a sustainable and future-proofed manner.”

    The collections held in the National Archives total over 50 million official records dating from the 16th century to records relating to the modern Irish state.

    Currently the Archives team are working on the public release of the 1926 Census, the first census of the Irish Free State, which will be released in April 2026.

    The main collections of the National Archives are kept securely at buildings on Bishop Street, Dublin 8 where there are also public reading rooms, office accommodation and archival storage.

    However, despite its very large footprint, the Bishop Street building – which was formerly the site of a Jacobs biscuit factory - has been unable to take records at volume since 2013.

    The re-development will accommodate over 300,000 archive boxes in a purpose-built, dedicated archival repository, designed with ground works, foundations and services that offer the potential to develop future archival storage vaults if required over time.

    You can read a lot more in an article written by Fiona Audley and published in the Irish Post web site at: https://bit.ly/45679ot

  • 30 May 2024 5:56 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

    The Library Digital Opportunity office (LDO) at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has a new Texas Public Libraries Speed Test Dashboard, available now. Texas public libraries and their patrons can see how their internet upload and download speeds stack up against the rest!

    The dashboard allows users to filter results by region, population and income levels. Data is also visualized with a zoomable, interactive map. This new tool was recently completed by LDO Data and Project Coordinator Promise Madu.

    “In today’s digital era, libraries need to be prepared to fulfill their patrons’ needs, Madu said. “A speed test dashboard empowers libraries to track their performance and strive towards meeting the standards required to offer dependable, high-speed internet access to everyone who depends on them, thereby bridging the digital divide.”

    Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) increased the standards for what constitutes “broadband” to 100 Mbps download. Through the State Library’s annual speed test tracking, LDO has determined that a significant number of Texas’ public libraries fail to reach the previously set minimum threshold of 25 Mbps download.  As federal legislation prioritizes fiber technology, LDO has set 1,000 Mbps, or 1 Gbps, as an aspirational goal for all libraries seeking to support their communities and support their own digital opportunity services and programming.

    With LDO’s speed test results, individual libraries can determine if they are below the FCC’s minimum standards for households and for libraries their size, as well as raise awareness of the new benchmarks. This could assist them in requesting funding assistance to improve their connectivity and help them work towards providing a more consistent quality of service. 

    Leading the charge on these new initiatives is LDO’s Digital Opportunity Program Coordinator, Henry Stokes. “Public libraries are often a community’s only source of free internet. They are also the best potential option for learning the necessary skills to make use of the technology required to access the internet,” he said. “Libraries have a long history of providing frontline support for their patrons’ digital opportunity needs—whether it’s publicly available computers, fast Internet access or digital literacy training.”

    LDO intends to use the speed test data to inform our upcoming collaboration with the Texas State Broadband Development Office (BDO), supporting their statewide efforts to track outcomes in the categories of availability and affordability of fixed broadband technology to advance state policy priorities such as economic and workforce development, education access and advancement, health improvement, and civic engagement.

    Texas public libraries are encouraged to contribute to this project by completing TSLAC’s annual Public Library Speed Test, running through May 31. Data will then be updated to reflect 2024 speeds. The test only takes a few minutes. More information is available at www.tsl.texas.gov/speedtest

    View the Texas Public Libraries Speed Test Dashboard at https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/ldodashboards/viz/TestDataLib/Dashboard1. Learn more about TSLAC’s support of technology and digital opportunity in Texas public libraries by visiting the LDO website at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/tech.

    screenshot of dashboard showing map with colored dots representing libraries, compliance stats bar chart patron numbers bar chart, and internet speed by county list



  • 30 May 2024 9:28 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by MyHeritage.com:

    We’re excited to announce the addition of 11.6 million new Nordic newspaper pages to OldNews.com, the innovative website for historical newspapers, by MyHeritage. OldNews.com enables genealogists, researchers, and history enthusiasts to search, save, and share articles about people and events throughout history. 

    The new content includes historical local, regional and national newspapers, periodicals and gazettes from SwedenFinlandDenmarkIcelandNorwayGreenland, and the Faroe Islands, with articles dating back to 1666, but mostly from the 19th century.

    The new Nordic content has been indexed and is searchable on OldNews.com. It has also been added to MyHeritage, with the full images for the newspaper pages available on OldNews.com via direct links from MyHeritage.

    Exploring Nordic Newspapers

    Newspapers are essential for genealogical research as they can contain rich information about people and the events in their lives through stories, obituaries, and other vital record substitutes such as birth, marriage, and death notices. Additionally, society pages and stories of local interest can contain detailed records of activities and events in the community and often provide more information about the people involved that bring your family history to life, as well as provide insight into the historical context. 

    If you have Nordic roots and are exploring your family history, you’ll find these Nordic newspapers incredibly useful. We’ve gathered them from various sources into one place, making it easier than ever to search through them.

    The Power of OCR Technology 

    At OldNews.com, all of our new content is scanned using the latest optical character recognition (OCR) technology and enhanced with sophisticated algorithms developed in-house by MyHeritage.  

    While most of the publications on OldNews.com use the standard Roman typeface, the Nordic newspaper collection includes several publications that feature the more complex Fraktur font. Thanks to our OCR technology, even these more intricate fonts have been indexed with high accuracy. This enhancement greatly improves your chances of uncovering new and exciting finds that might have eluded you in your previous searches.

    You can read a lot more in an article in the MyHeritage Blog at: https://bit.ly/3R7hue2

  • 29 May 2024 6:50 PM | Anonymous

    Here is an article that is not about any of the "normal" topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, I have written often about Chromebooks, the low-cost and very useful computers. Here is the latest news about Chromebooks:

    Google announced on Tuesday that it will incorporate Gemini and AI capabilities from its other devices into Chromebook Plus laptops. This includes a limited number of models from Asus and HP that are currently available, as well as new models from Acer. New features, such as Google's "Help me write" tool and the capacity to create custom imagery with generative AI, will be supported by these and future Chromebook Plus laptops. The Magic Editor on Google Photos is also being ported to Chromebook Plus, and it has already begun to appear on older Android devices.

    Gemini was previously announced by the company as a feature that would be integrated with the Chrome desktop browser. Consequently, it is unsurprising that it has been incorporated into the Chromebook Plus, which is a more powerful (and costly) version of the Chromebook. The Gemini icon has been incorporated into the app shelf by Google to facilitate quicker and more convenient access. In addition, it is providing a complimentary 12-month subscription to Google One AI Premium to individuals who purchase a new Plus laptop. This subscription includes access to Gemini Advanced, 2TB of cloud storage, and Gemini incorporated with Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

    Google is also introducing new features that are compatible with both Chromebook Plus and standard Chromebooks. These features include a QR code setup process that enables your Android phone to directly share your Wi-Fi and login credentials with your new Chromebook, the capability to create GIFs from screen recordings, and a built-in view of Google Tasks.

  • 29 May 2024 6:34 PM | Anonymous

    The Heinz History Center has recently introduced a novel digital archive that provides comprehensive information about the endeavors of a Pittsburgh resident in aiding Jews to evade the Holocaust. The Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the History Center established the archive, which contains over 500 letters from the records of U.S. Congressman Henry Ellenbogen.

    Ellenbogen was born in Austria and later came to Pittsburgh. He successfully completed his education at the Duquesne University Law School. He occupied a position in the U.S. House of Representatives and fulfilled duties on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas from 1938 to 1977.

    Ellenbogen received correspondence from Jewish individuals seeking refuge during the initial stages of Nazi governance. Immigrating into the U.S. necessitated obtaining an affidavit from an American citizen as mandated by the American government.

    The newly established digital collection, made feasible by a generous contribution from Ellenbogen's daughter, chronicles this procedure.

    "The digitization of these significant letters, made possible by the Ellenbogen family's generosity, will enable Holocaust researchers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond to gain a deeper understanding of how a Pittsburgh resident's actions aided Jewish individuals in escaping Nazi-controlled Europe," stated Eric Lidji, the director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives.

    The primary objective of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives is to gather, safeguard, and offer accessibility to the recorded history of Jews and Jewish communities in Western Pennsylvania.

    You can read a lot more about this new digital archive at: https://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/research/rauh-jewish-history-program-archives/.

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