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Joan Griffis’ Illinois Ancestors Column is 18 Years Old

Newspaper genealogy columns have been around for years, but most haven’t had the longevity of Joan Griffis’ Illinois Ancestors column. She’s been writing the column for the News-Gazette of Champaign, Illinois.

She says “Time flies when you’re having fun.” You can now read her column online. Its always excellent. Check it out.

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The 21st-Century Genealogist

A week chock full of genealogy classes got its start this morning with a class given by Joseph Shumway at the BYU Family History Tech Conference. Joseph works for ProGenealogists, an company. The title of his talk was “Life of the 21st Century Genealogist – What do they do, and what do they need in the future?” His lecture was geared to the fact that he was speaking to a room full of folks who were involved in technology issues. In the audience were people who could develop products that would enhance research.

Following are notes I took during the presentation:

What Do Professionals Do?
The demographics of who is doing genealogy is shifting. Only a few years ago, most amateur genealogists were retired folks. Today, the majority seems to be middle-aged, and pre-retirement folks – with a growing number of very tech-savy younger people 25-40. These people are expecting genealogy results to be more cloud-based, and available on mobile devices.

How Beginners and Amateurs Approach Research
How does a pro approach research?

Most professionals gained their research experience by researching their own families, in most cases with no normal formal education in genealogy. Most are part time, and work independently and grow their businesses through word of mouth.

However, there are credentials available – AG (Accredited Genealogist, and CG (Certified Genealogist). BYU also offers a BA in Family History & Genealogy. Various universities offer certificate programs.

What Kinds of Clients Do Pros Serve?

  • Newbies who don’t have time or the expertise.
  • Avid genealogists with a brick-wall.
  • Lawyers who need help with missing heirs.
  • Media-historical TV programs and documentaries.

The Changing Face of Genealogy
Historically – genealogy was for old people. For the most part, that was true.

Now … Interest is by middle-aged pro-retirees. They are more tech-savy. There are also more folks 25-40 interested – with more tech-savviness.

A more tech-savy user base means:

  • An expectation for more cloud-based, mobile options. Period.
  • They want better ways to share and collaborate with others.
  • They want more fun and interactive ways of sharing their ancestors’ stories. They aren’t so interested in how they found it, but what were their ancestor’s lives like? Do we have pictures? What did they do? What did the documents actually tell us?

The typical beginners’ or amateurs approach:

  • Interested in very linear research – person’s parents, etc.
  • They focus on on records like: Census Records, Vital Records, Cemetery Records on Find a Grave.
  • They are easily stumped if records are not clear cut. – They may make incorrect assumptions

The professional approach:

  • Can draw conclusions from circumstancial evidence.
  • Will follow family associates and neighbors.
  • Work on neighborhood reconstruction.
  • Build upon historical context using boundary changes, courthouse fires, laws of the time, wars and such.
  • Study and map out land records.

The professional need more tools, such as:

  • More in-depth timelines.
  • Better land-plotting technology.
  • More intuitive research tracking tools.

Shumway gave a very interesting lecture – and presented a good argument for using professional services – although I don’t think that’s necessarily what he set out to do.

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Stephen Colbert’s Irish Ancestry


My friend, Megan Smolenyak, recently wrote an article published in Irish America Magazine, and picked up at Irish She’s done a lot of research on his family, and in the article, she digs into it.

The following teaser is from the article…

“I had already snooped into Stephen Tyrone Colbert’s past and discovered that he was about as Hibernian as they come. Fifteen of his 16 great-great-grandparents were either born in Ireland or of Irish heritage, and rather remarkably, their descendants continued to marry only with other Irish Americans for three generations until Stephen himself slightly disrupted the flow when he wed Evelyn “Evie” McGee.”

Read the full article.

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The Official RootsTech 2015 Live Streaming Schedule Has Now Posted

The “official” RootsTech 2015 Live Streaming Schedule has now been posted. According to the website, “Several sessions at RootsTech including the general keynote sessions on Thursday, and Saturday will be streamed live on the home page of After the conference, recordings of these sessions will be posted on the website for a limited time.”

Take a look. It seems 14 sessions made the cut.

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Notes on Curt Witcher’s Lecture at the BYU Family History Tech Workshop #Genealogy

Witcher Curt

Kurt Witcher gave a fascinating lecture entitled “The Future of Family History – What do we really want?”

Following are my notes:

Curt says he likes to look down the path of what’s needed and upcoming for genealogists. He thinks its the best of times for genealogists, with millions of them being helped by the technology folks.

More people are now engaged in genealogy. More records & stories are available. More opportunities are out there for genealogists.

Curt feels its important to inform, educate and enlighten others – and that everyone out there has a story. The idea that “I am somebody” is popular in education, and beyond. This plays into genealogy and family history.

More people than ever are involved in genealogy. According to Ancestry, “Interest in Family History has doubled since 2008, and will again by 2025.”

21st-ers – those who are doing their genealogy the tech way – and it’s all about the experience. Its got to be fun, with enjoyment and success.

The retiring generation is much more tech-savy than those before. Curt used the MyHeritage ad that I blogged about a while back as an example of the “It’s Got To Be Fun” idea.

Curt feels there are great needs in the genealogy field.
Integrated Library Systems are needed. Libraries hate tech upgrades, as the library usually ends up being the beta tester.

Massive Quantities of Data are coming available.

OCLC WorldCat is wonderful, but it can’t get to all the data in the library’s catalogs.

We need better searches of library catalogs, as well as digitized electronic books.

Big Data & the Handling of Data
We need the family names, with geographic locations and time period, with an analysis of the results on family groupings.

How about if we could could post “My family data” – the whole file – and check against innumerable databases? How about being able to search across other’s files, using facial recognition software, and find folks?

How about software that identifies the car or the mountains in the background?

Greatest needs:

  • Intergrated Library Systems
  • Searching in complex contexts
  • Translating, transmitting, sharing, preserving.

Is it unreasonable to think we might be able to port all of our data from a program?

There’s got to be millions of miles of super-8 film… Things need to be more easily migratable. Hardware/Software systems are needed. There are millions of slides, audio tapes… etc. setting out there with deteriorating data. We need to get things transferring ASAP.

Greatest opportunities
Mobile and wearable – we needs quick convenient ways of capturing the stories. What can be developed that can help us unobtrusively obtain oral history?

  • If they are watching us, and we know they are, why can’t we watch us?
  • What about 24-7 GPS?
  • How about the use of Drones?

How can we apply science and virtual reality. How about holograms of our ancestors? Can I meet my ancestors through science?

What Can DNA Tell US?

Curt feels that if we use the technology, we can learn much about our ancestors. We need more searchable digitized books and records and access to these documents. The more digitizing that’s done, the better.

This was an amazing lecture, and one that got a room full of tech folks thinking… thinking… thinking…

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The Lightening Talks of the BYU Family History Technology Workshop #Genealogy

The Lightening Talks just finished here at the BYU Family History Technology Workshop. Presenters had about two minutes to tell us what they were working on in the tech field. Wow! What a fascinating session. Following are the sessions given, with my notes. It’s not a perfect listing, in that I could not always get presenters names. But it’s a list of new and upcoming apps (broadly put) I’m sure I will refer back to a lot.

Ancestorcloud – Wesley Eames
Put a request for out there and collaborate with others. Coming later in the year.

Historylines – Jeff Haddon
A site to take an existing tree, and figure out what an ancestor’s life was like, using historical events. Plots lifespans of the family on the map and describes peoples lifestyles, Editable.

Request research to be done, anywhere in the world. Onsite people can bid on a micro-task doing research.

Per Trees – Charles Glancy
Improve edits on Family Tree. Declare persons and relationships in a Watch List. You are made a reviewer for all changes

Generasi – Jed Wood
Time” is typically missing in family tree views. A timeline is added to the view on the side of the page, which covers several generations.

Soal – Sounds of a Lifetime – Nathan Brakke
Photos don’t tell the whole story. No voice lasts forever. Record the sounds. This can be shared via twitter, facebook, etc.

Poppy Prose – Ian Davis Ian was next to me at the table.
A story-centered approach to family history. A team of writers help users to write their story.

Family Feats – Aaron Shelley
Feat focuses – like immigration, military service, pioneers, etc. These items are added to Family Tree.

GenMarketplace – Matthew Faulconer
Identifies research opportunities – jobs are posted with changeable – rather silent auction style prices.

Historic Journals – Doug Kennard
Has an archive where people can share. Also has Mormon databases.

Family History Technology Lab – Dan Rodriewicz
Automatically finds ancestors and relatives

Relative Finder – connect instantly, share resources – coming soon.

Scanstone – Glen Chidester
Seeks to automate extracting the data from headstones. Starts with the smartphone. Take a picture, process, recognize the text with a live look-up Teh program then transcribes the data and looks to see if it’s in Find-A-Grave.

One Page Genealogy – Jessie Young
Print your entire family tree on one page. User customizable – can be downloaded as a pdf for printing.

Robert Ball – Where Am I From?
Charts where the family is from generation by generation – page by page – you can see what percentage of a nationality you are quickly. Shows historically correct historical boundaries.

Joel Thornton with FamilySearch
A New Relationship viewer for FamilyTree
also – Viewing Closest Relatives in the MyRelatives View in FamilySearch and Family Tree.

Timeline Enhanced Portrait Charts
Joohan Lee – from Korea
Traditional Fan Chart has text only.
Shows different pictures by generation, using a slider. Associates pictures with names. Easily used on an Android.
Using data from the FamilySearch website. Ios and Windows versions.

Virtual Pedigree – Curtis Widdington
A program the collapses and expands the pedigree as one looks at it.

Grandma’s Pie
Uses FamilySearch Family Tree. It makes an interactive pie showing where the family is from.

Auto-zoning newspaper articles for OCR systems – Alan Cannaday, FamilySearch
Remove clutter
Post-clutter removal
Remove noise
Word Zoning is then done, then article zoneing, making corrected zones so the OCR can be done better.

Record Linkage Confidence Through Top Match Score Analysis – Peter Ivie, University of Notre Dame
The program scores data-matches automatically.

3-D Graph Cut:Extending Min-Cut Segmentation to Handle Overlap of Cursive Handwriting in Tabular Documents – Brian Davis
Dual assignment segmentation. Be able to separate overlapping letters.

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The Strange Case of the Man Without an Identity

The following teaser is from an article posted in the January 30, 2015 edition of


RICHMOND HILL, Ga. – The man at the center of a mystery that’s lasted more than a decade may not want to find answers. Genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick has been trying to solve the case of Benjaman Kyle since 2008: “I’m not sure Benjaman’s really interested in finding his identity or not.”

Forensic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick ran two DNA tests on Benjaman, hoping they would offer clues into his past.

One test, on Benjaman’s Y DNA lineage, provided a connection to the last name Powell. The second test linked the mystery man to the mountains of the western Carolinas.

But why has no one come forward to say they know Benjaman?

Read the full article.

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Live Streaming Sessions Available From RootsTech 2015


I am now in the Salt Lake City area, awaiting a week of conferences, starting Tuesday morning. RootsTech 2015 itself runs from Thursday Through Saturday. There are 20 of the sessions advertised as being available for live streaming from Note that as of this moment, I still don’t see a page and/or links at the RootsWeb site for the live streaming, but I’m sure that’s coming.

See the Press release for times and details.

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To Celebrate the Publication of Vol. 50 of the German Map Guides, Vol 1-48 are on sale for 25% Off!

Pfalz-Cover-200pwTo celebrate the publication of the 50th volume of the German Map Guide Series, Family Roots Publishing Co. is again offering all individual soft cover books, Volumes 1 through 48 at 25% off! That makes them just $26.21 per book (reg. $34.95). This sale runs through Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Note that “sets” of the books are not included in this sale.

The reduced price promotion does not include Volumes 49 and 50, for Pomerania which are also in print, but just came into publication in the 3 months. However, we are including the FREE PDF eBook download mentioned below.

BONUS PDF eBook Download!

As a bonus, FRPC will throw in a free immediate PDF download of Leland Meitzler’s popular eBook, German Genealogy Research Online – Tips and Links with every book purchased.

Written in English by Kevan Hansen, the volumes were principally written to help family historians resolve where their family may have gone to church – and left vital records behind that may be seen today. The series is still in production. In many cases, even the smallest places are listed in this series – some with as little population as one person! These places are as of about 1870. If the place existed prior to that date, it will most likely be listed. If the place was named after that date, the chances drop.

The online description of each book includes an index listing every town found in that book. To search across the entire database for any particular German town, Click here, enter the name of the town in the Search Box, click on “Description Only,” and then click Search. Note that many town names can be found in multiple books, as there are often multiple towns by any paricular name.

Each volume of the series does the following:


  • Identifies the parish where an ancestor worshipped based on where they lived.
  • Gives the FHL microfilm number for the family’s parish records.
  • Identifies nearly every city, town, and place that included residents.
  • Visually identifies church parishes for Lutherans & Catholics in each district.
  • Identifies adjoining parishes in case an ancestor attended an alternate parish.
  • Aids in area searches, particularly across district or regional borders.
  • Provides visual identification of search areas in which to look for a family.
  • Helps in determining proximity of one area to another.
  • Aids in determining reasonable distances of travel from one area to another.
  • Identifies population centers in each parish.
  • Identifies archives, repositories, and other resources.
  • Aids in identification of the location of minority religions. 

Books covering the following old German states are now available:












  • Pomerania (2 Volumes)











The following volumes are not yet in print:

  • Province of Posen, Kingdom of Prussia (2 vols.) 
  • Province of Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia (3 vols.) 

Again, Family Roots Publishing Co. is offering all soft cover volumes of the Map Guide to German Parish Registers, Volumes 1 through 48 at 25% off! That makes them just $26.21 per book (reg. $34.95). This sale runs through Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 at Midnight EST.

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Registration Launch on Wed., 11 Feb 2015, for the FGS 2015 Regional Conf. in Syracuse, NY

The following is from FGS. Note that registration opens on Wednesday!


The second New York State Family History Conference will take place in Syracuse, NY, September 17–19, 2015 and bring together hundreds of researchers from across the country who want to learn about their New York roots.

NEW YORK, NY, February 11 — The Central New York Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society are cosponsoring the 2015 New York Family History Conference. This year’s event will also be a Federation of Genealogical Societies Regional Conference.

The three-day conference will be held September 17–19 at the Holiday Inn & Conference Center Liverpool, just outside Syracuse, New York. It will attract hundreds of researchers—both amateur and professional—and top experts in the field.

Nationally known speakers, Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL, The Legal Genealogist; Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, FASG; David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA,; Curt B. Witcher, Allen County Public Library; D. Joshua Taylor, and President, Federation of Genealogical Societies; Dick Eastman, author and publisher; James D. Folts, Ph.D., New York State Archives; Henry B. Hoff, FGBS, editor of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register; Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., The Genetic Genealogist; Ed Donakey,, VP of FGS; Eric G. Grundset, Library Director, DAR Library; Jim Ison, CG,; Matt Knutzen, New York Public Library; Jen Baldwin,; and, New York-specialist, professional genealogists Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG, FGBS; Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS; Terry Koch-Bostic and Jane E. Wilcox will give lectures.

Registration opens on February 11 at the FGS​ ​2015 conference in Salt Lake City and online. The registration fee for the three-day conference (excluding meals and printed syllabus) is $140 for the first 75 registrants (available through March 31 or until sold out); members of the CNYGS or the NYG&B receive a $25 discount. Purchase tickets in the online store at

The conference responds to the rapid growth in interest in family history research and, in particular, the demand for information about families who lived in New York State.

Attendees will have an opportunity to advance their skills in researching New York families, to build general skills and through 30 lectures in three parallel tracks and learn ways to build their local genealogical and historical societies through the FGS Focus on Societies day. In addition there will be three luncheons and a dinner, all with riveting speakers; and open-to-the-public Society Showcase; and exhibits by vendors and societies. The conference program and exhibitor information may be found on the conference website,

New York State poses numerous challenges for even the most experienced family history researcher. The New York State Family History Conference will break down research barriers and provide a forum that brings people together to share their research knowledge and problem-solving experiences and to collaborate on key research issues.

Sponsors of the conference include the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the Capital District Genealogical Society,,, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the New York Public Library, the New York State Archives and New York State Library, and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.

About the CNYGS
​T​he Central New York Genealogical Society was formed in 1961 for the purpose of preserving, publishing and sharing genealogical information and resources. Towards that end, it has published Tree Talks, a highly respected quarterly which contains abstracts of significant records from upstate New York counties and is fully indexed, annually. The CNYGS holds six meetings yearly, and members engage in record preservation projects to preserve and report information for the future. Its official website is located at

About the NYG&B
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has been a primary resource for research on New York families since 1869. The Society’s mission is to help people of all backgrounds find their places in American history through family history and genealogy. The NYG&B offers educational programs, including a biennial, three-day statewide conference, of which the NYG&B is a co-founder; two essential quarterly publications, including its scholarly journal, the NYG&B Record; and extensive resources online at In January 2015, the NYG&B published its monumental, 856-page New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, the first and only comprehensive guide of its kind in the United States.

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies across the United States and in other nations. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through a variety of online resources; through its FGS FORUM magazine published quarterly; and through its annual national conference which provides societies and family history enthusiasts four days of excellent learning opportunities including one full day devoted to society management — all delivered by nationally recognized speakers, educators, and regional experts. To learn more about FGS, its member societies, and its upcoming conferences, visit Find FGS on Facebook, on Twitter @FGSgenealogy and on the FGS Voice blog at

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German Map Guide – Pomerania II, RB Stettin & Stralsund, Shipping This Week

Map Guide to German Parish Registers – Kingdom of Prussia, Province of Pomerania II, Regierungsbezirk Stettin and Regierungsbezirk Stralsund, by Kevan Hansen, was printed last week and is now at the bindery. FRPC will be shipping the soft-back editions on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. The hard-back books will ship one week later. This finishes the 2-volume Pomerania portion of the series.

The series only has 5 volumes to go! We will be printing 5 more books dealing with the Provinces of Posen, and Silesia in the coming months, with expectations of the series being finished in August of 2015.


Published by Family Roots Publishing Company, Volume 50 of the German Map Guide series was published in February of 2015. This volume includes a total of 2,525 places – mostly towns, found in the Kingdom of Prussia, Province of Pomerania, Regierungsbezirk Stettin and Stralsund, and is 230 pages in the length. This book also includes a master index to Volumes 49 through 50, which covers all of Pomerania. Written in English by Kevan Hansen, the volume was principally written to help family historians resolve where their family may have gone to church – and left vital records behind that may be seen today. This is the fiftieth of a series covering all of Germany. The series is still in production. In many cases, even the smallest places are listed in this series – some with as little population as one person! These places are as of about 1870. If the place existed prior to that date, it will most likely be listed. If the place was named after that date, the chances drop.

Each volumes of the series does the following:

  • Identifies the parish where an ancestor wor
  • Gives the FHL microfilm number for the family’s parish records.
  • Identifies nearly every city, town, and place that included residents.
  • Visually identifies church parishes for Lutherans & Catholics in each district.
  • Identifies adjoining parishes in case an ancestor attended an alternate parish.
  • Aids in area searches, particularly across district or regional borders.
  • Provides visual identification of search areas in which to look for a family.
  • Helps in determining proximity of one area to another.
  • Aids in determining reasonable distances of travel from one area to another.
  • Identifies population centers in each parish.
  • Identifies archives, repositories, and other resources.
  • Aids in identification of the location of minority religions.
  • The following places are found in this volume.

    Click on the links to order:

    German Map Guide Volume 50 – Soft Cover (Item #FR0099)
    ISBN-13: 978-1-62859-024-1 ISBN-10: 1628590246

    Guide Volume 50 – Hard Cover (Item: FR00100)
    ISBN-13: 978-1-62859-025-8 ISBN-10: 1628590254
    Library of Congress Control Number: 2014950978

    • (Amt Ückermünde)
    • (Eggisiner Anteil)
    • (Mützelburger Anteil)
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    • Adlig Bartelshagen
    • Adlig Boltenhagen
    • Adlig Millienhagen
    • Adlig Neu Sarnow
    • Adlig Tribsow
    • Adolphshof
    • Agneshof
    • Ahlbeck
    • Ahrendsee
    • Ahrendsee-Rubekow
    • Ahrenshagen
    • Ahrenshoop
    • Akademisch Boltenhagen
    • Akademisch Neuendorf
    • Albertinenhof
    • Albertshof
    • Albrechtsdorf
    • Allodial Boltenhagen
    • Alt Buchholz
    • Alt Damerow
    • Alt Dargsow
    • Alt Falkenberg
    • Alt Fanger
    • Alt Gatschow
    • Alt Grape
    • Alt Güstelitz
    • Alt Kenzlin
    • Alt Kosenow
    • Alt Leese
    • Alt Lendershagen
    • Alt Libbehne
    • Alt Lienken
    • Alt Plestlin
    • Alt Prilipp
    • Alt Reddevitz
    • Alt Regentin
    • Alt Sallenthin
    • Alt Sanitz
    • Alt Sassitz
    • Alt Seehagen
    • Alt Sommersdorf
    • Alt Storkow
    • Alt Süllitz
    • Alt Tellin
    • Alt Tessin
    • Alt Tetterin
    • Alt Tonnin
    • Alt Ungnade
    • Alt Zarrendorf
    • Altdamm
    • Alte Ziegelei
    • Altefähr
    • Altendorf
    • Altenfliess
    • Altenhagen
    • Altenkirchen
    • Altenpleen
    • Altensien
    • Altenwedel
    • Altenwillershagen
    • Altes Kamminer Chausseehaus
    • Althagen
    • Altheide
    • Altkamp
    • Altmühl
    • Altstadt
    • Altwarp
    • Altwigshagen
    • Alvinshof
    • Am Walde
    • Amalienhof
    • Amt Kolbatz
    • Amtswiek
    • Andershof
    • Angerode
    • Anklam
    • Anklamer Fähre
    • Anklamer Hassanteil
    • Anlagen
    • Annenhof
    • Appelshof
    • Ardshagen
    • Arkona-Vitte
    • Armenheide
    • Arndtshain
    • Arnimswalde
    • Arnsberg
    • Ascherdamm
    • Aschersleben
    • Aschersruhe
    • Auerose
    • Augustwalde
    • Ausbau Kühlenhagen
    • Axelshof
    • Baabe
    • Babbin
    • Bahn
    • Bahnhof Bahn
    • Bahnhof Borckenfriede
    • Bahnhof Dennin
    • Bahnhof Ducherow
    • Bahnhof Hoppenwalde
    • Bahnhof Labes
    • Bahnhof Leopoldshagen
    • [Read the rest of this entry…]

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1915 SS Eastland Disaster Film Footage Surfaces


The following excerpt is from the February 8, 2015 edition of the Chicago Tribune:

For years, Ted Wachholz had all the evidence he needed to believe that film footage of the 1915 SS Eastland disaster on the Chicago River existed, except maybe for the film itself.

The chief historian of a group dedicated to the capsizing that killed 844 people could cite newspaper clippings that refer to recording equipment and archived photos that show movie cameras on tripods.

That changed Saturday morning, when the founder of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society woke up to links on the group’s Facebook page to footage posted by a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

See the film footage itself.

Read the full article.

Thanks to my friend, Linda Petrasek, for the heads-up.

Leave a Comment & The Black Vault in Tussle Over Digitized UFO Document Copyrights


It seems that and The Black Vault are in a dispute over The Black Vault‘s posting of the US military’s Project Blue Book documents, which Fold3 (an subsidiary) digitized. Note that Fold3 does not require a subscription to access the documents they digitized, making them free on the Internet. The following excerpt is from Motherboard.Vice.Com:

For 15 years, UFO enthusiast John Greenewald has been collecting material related to the US military’s Project Blue Book investigation into unidentified flying objects and publishing it online through his website, The ​Black Vault.

But last week, he was forced to remove hundreds of thousands of decla​ssified records due to a copyright claim from an unlikely source: the genealogy site’s subsidiary Fold3 has digitized the publicly available records, which are mostly things like letters describing UFO sightings (including drawings on occasion); the standard questionnaire the Air Force sent in response; and any conclusions the military could draw; and made them available on its website for browsing.

The company claimed that it therefore owned the digital reproductions of the records, and that Greenewald’s site was infringing on its copyright by publishing the materials, according to a statement from Gr​eenewald…

Read the full article.

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New British Merchant Navy WW1 Medal Index Cards & Dorset BMDs available to search at FindMyPast

The following news release is from Alex Cox at FindMyFast.


Every Friday, thousands of new records are released on our dedicated Findmypast Friday page to explore over the weekend. This week’s new additions include over 157,000 British Merchant Navy, First World War Medal Index Cards 1914-1925, over 165,000 Dorset baptisms, over 105,000 Dorset marriages and over 176,000 Dorset Burials.

The British Merchant Navy First World War Medal Index Cards, 1914-1925, contain over 157,000 records. During the First World War, Merchant Navy seamen, who had served at sea for at least six months and who had served on at least one voyage through a danger zone, were entitled to the Mercantile Marine Medal. The Medal was awarded by the Board of Trade, a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Recipients of the Mercantile Marine Medal were automatically entitled to the British War Medal and those who were invalided out of the navy during the war were entitled to receive the Silver War Badge.

Each record is a transcript of the original medal card and contains a link to purchase and download an image of the original record card from The National Archives. Medal cards tell you which medals were awarded, details of the seaman’s career in the Merchant Navy and their discharge number.

The Dorset Marriage Index, 1541-1937, contains over 105,000 records spanning nearly 400 years of the county’s history. 150 parishes and 105,248 names are recorded in the Dorset Marriage Index. The index begins after 1538 because in that year the Church of England mandated that all parishes keep records of baptisms, marriages and burials. Each record includes a transcript of the original document. The amount of information in each can vary but most will list the couple’s names, marital status, age, marriage date and place of marriage.

The Dorset Burial Index, 1538-1986, contains over 176,000 records spanning almost 450 years of Dorset history. The records list the details of burials conducted in 128 different cemeteries and churchyards across the county.

The Dorset Baptism Index, 1538-1912, contains over 165,000 records dating from the 16th century. Parish records are a great resource for tracing your family before civil registration started in 1837 as they can contain important information such as the names of the child’s parents. Each record contains a transcript of the original source material. The amount of information listed may vary but generally records will include the child’s name, date of birth, place of birth, mother’s name, father’s name and the father’s occupation.

About FindMyPast
Leading family history website Findmypast was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003, winning the Queen’s Award for Innovation. Findmypast has subsequently digitized many more family history records and now offers access to over 2 billion records dating as far back as 875 AD. This allows family historians to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military, census, migration, parish, work and education records, newspapers as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records. The company runs the official 1911 census website for England & Wales in association with The National Archives and has digitized several other record sets from the national collection. Findmypast has also partnered with the British Library in a 10 year project to safeguard the future of the world’s greatest local newspaper archive.

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Extensive Collection of New Zealand Cemetery Records Now Available Online

The following News Release is from


More than 1.6 million records spanning two centuries from 1,400 cemeteries across the country digitised and made accessible to all

• Almost all New Zealand cemeteries are represented in this collection
• Database has taken more than 2,000 volunteers since the 1960s to compile
• Ancestry providing free access to more than 35 million records, including this cemetery collection, this Waitangi Day weekend

Auckland, 2nd February, 2015 – A database of 1.6 million cemetery records which has taken more than 2,000 volunteers over four decades to produce is now available online on Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource.

Digitised by Ancestry from original headstone transcriptions by The New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG), the New Zealand Cemetery Records 1800-2007 is a hugely valuable resource for anyone wanting to discover more about their New Zealand family history.

Each record typically contains details such as name, birth date, death date, and cemetery name and plot location. They may also provide insightful details about a spouse, cause of death, military dates, an epitaph, or even a description of the headstone.

NZSG began transcribing the details on the headstones in the late 1960s and over the last four decades they have recorded information from headstones at almost every cemetery in New Zealand.

Inaccessibility made accessible
The records include transcriptions from many prominent cemeteries throughout the country as well as inaccessible graves from remote locations such as the Raoul Island Cemetery. The island is located 1000km north of New Zealand and is both geographically isolated and publicly inaccessible, as one can only visit with a landing permit from the Department of Conservation.

Chatham, Quarantine and Stewart Islands also feature in the collection, along with many private cemeteries that would otherwise not be accessible to the public.

A walk through New Zealand’s history
Stretching from 1800 to 2007, the records cover a large sweep of New Zealand’s history, including some fascinating and tragic episodes such as the Taraura Shipping Disaster. The SS Tararuawas a passenger steamship that struck the reef off Waipapa Point in Southland on 29 April 1881. Only 20 of the 151 people on board survived, with many of those who perished lain to rest in the remote Tarura Acre cemetery, near New Zealand’s first lighthouse which was subsequently built as a result of the disaster.

Free access this Waitangi Day long weekend to 35 million NZ records
To help New Zealanders learn more about their family histories over the Waitangi Day long weekend, Ancestry is opening up free the New Zealand Cemetery Records 1800-2007, as well as all of its New Zealand online databases – totalling more than 35 million records. The open access campaign will start on Friday 6th February from 12.01am through to Monday 9th February at 11:59pm, at

Ben Mercer, Content Director at Ancestry says “We are delighted to add this vital collection, which includes some of the earliest New Zealand records, to our already comprehensive New Zealand family history resource online. Each headstone has a story to tell that may unlock further discoveries of your ancestors’ pasts.

“This Waitangi Day, we’d encourage Kiwis to learn more about their ancestors by talking to older family members who may help kick-start the journey into your past.”

Gay Williams, President of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) says “The records were compiled by individual volunteers from the NZSG who would often drive and in some cases ferry to a number of geographically isolated areas in New Zealand. It would often take days if not weeks to transcribe a single cemetery. Many cemeteries get damaged over time. We have transcribed headstones that have fallen over, been destroyed by earthquakes or vandalised, as well as those which time has made unreadable, preserving this information for future generations.”

You can search over 35 million New Zealand records for free this long weekend at:

Ancestry ( is the world’s largest online family history resource with more than 2 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 15 billion records have been added to the Ancestry sites and users have created more than 60 million family trees to the core Ancestry websites, including its flagship site and its affiliated international websites, such as Additionally, offers a suite of online family history brands, including,,, as well as the AncestryDNA product, sold by DNA, LLC, which, along with its core Ancestry websites, are all designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

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