Best Bytes for the Week of 28 August 2015

Best Bytes: News nuggets you can use.

What’s Hot

Ancestry Collaborates with Gannett to Digitally Archive More Than 80 U.S. Newspapers

New Funding support for Digital Public Library of America facilitates a push to serve all 50 states by 2017!

Registration is open for the 11th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy 

Mark your calendars: National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair, October 21-22, 2015

Free access to this weekend

See Your DNA Matches in a Whole New Way

The Future Will Bring Automated Indexing Tools – #BYUFHGC

Scanfest is Coming!


Down Time

The website will undergo scheduled maintenance on Saturday, 29 August 2015, from approximately 02:00 a.m. to 06:00 a.m. (EDT). During that time, some portions of the site may be unavailable. 

Due to equipment maintenance, the Library of Congress websites (including,, & others) are unavailable. They are expected to be available again by the evening of Sunday, August 30.


Cool Stuffs

Instagram Now Supports Landscape and Portrait Format Photos

160 Years of Hurricanes in One Incredible Infographic

Microsoft Snip annotates screenshots with voice notes and scribbles

Google Chrome to Silence Annoying Auto-Play Videos

Google Map Maker returns to the US, UK and over 40 other countries

Remembering the Windows 95 launch: A triumph of marketing

Twitter is rolling out desktop notifications for direct messages

LG Made A Full-Size Keyboard For Mobiles That Folds Into A Stick To Fit In Your Bag

This is What Victorian ‘Photoshopped’ Photos Look Like Up Close


In the News

West Waco Library mold issue to cost city $81,452

Breeched Cannon Discovered at Revolutionary War Site

Hurricane Katrina Turned My Family’s Odds and Ends Into Heirlooms

New Research Shows DNA Can Be Altered by Trauma, Passed On to Offspring



Help Wanted

Share Your Knowledge: Write for FGS FORUM is hiring a social media specialist in London and in Dublin

Trust, but verify; or There goes 1/16 of my family tree

Call for Topics: WACKY Wednesday


ProGen alums are needed to help in various volunteer positions. Check your email for more info, or contact



First World War bracelet mystery solved after 30 years

Cousins! Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton revealed to be distant cousins as family trees show they share same set of royal ancestors


From the Blogs

The ONE Absolute BEST Way to Find More Ancestor Articles in Historic Newspapers Online

Book Giveaway! Jacob Killman, Loyalist

Where are all the photos?

How do I research someone I know little about?

WordPress To Go

Born to Be Wild: How to Use Wildcards in Searches

Looking forward to part 2! A Copyright Casualty — Part I

dictionaries for everything!


The Last Byte

Earlier today, genealogist Joy Neighbors – who you may know from the cemetery blog A Grave Interest – published a humorous article on the website. Titled “THE JOY OF GENEALOGY: Beware the seven dastardly deeds of genealogy,” the article discusses genealogy’s 7 “dastardly deeds,” which Joy compares to the Catholic religion’s cardinal vices, or The Seven Deadly Sins.

Growing up a Catholic, I can certainly remember hearing the priest talk at church about the cardinal sins. Even my mother and grandmother tossed them around from time to time: “Sloth is a sin, you know. Go clean up your room right now!” You mean I could go to Hell for having a messy room? (Apparently not, but it makes God really unhappy.)

Joy’s article is clever, but also contains some grains of truth. I, for one, will admit that I am guilty of #7 – Gluttony. I mean, who doesn’t want MORE ancestors, or to talk about genealogy just a bit MORE at every family gathering? TMI with genealogy? How is that even possible? 😎

From which Dastardly Deed of Genealogy do you suffer? C’mon, be honest!



All I Really Need to Know (About Genealogy) I Learned in Kindergarten #tbt


My daughter hasn’t been a baby for a long time, as she is so fond of reminding me. But… as my mom used to tell me, and as I now tell my own daughter, “You will always be my baby, no matter how big you get.” Moms, you know what I mean. It’s like that Elizabeth Stone quote, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Well, my heart went to 4th grade this week. And I’m pretty sure it was harder for me than it was for my daughter.

So I decided to share a post that I wrote back in 2011 when my only descendant went to her first day of Kindergarten. I hope you enjoy it. :-) 

*   *   *



My daughter starts Kindergarten tomorrow. As you might imagine, our household is all abuzz with excitement: new backpack, new lunch box, new clothes, pencils, erasers, crayons, glue sticks. Everything is in readiness for The First Day of School.

This mom has mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’ll get a few hours to myself each week. My daughter has been with me pretty much 24/7 since she was born. I’ve loved being with her, but sometimes I’d really like to use the bathroom without having company.

On the other hand, this marks the moment that my baby is no longer my baby.

That’s hard to swallow.

Over the past few weeks, I couldn’t help remembering my own time in Kindergarten, thinking about how my daughter’s experience will be so different from mine.

And as I thought about the whole Kindergarten experience, I began to realize just how basic and important the lessons learned during that time are, and how they can apply to almost anything in life.

Even genealogy.



Share everything. Genealogy only works when you share. Keeping it to yourself won’t help you.

Play fair. Don’t take things from other people without giving credit where credit is due.

Don’t hit people. Even if they’re hogging the copier at the library.

Put things back where you found them. Unless there’s a sign telling you to put them somewhere else.

Clean up your own mess. Those boxes and piles aren’t going to organize themselves.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours. That tree you found on, the Find A Grave memorial that’s already been posted, a public profile… Ask first. Most people will say yes if you ask nicely.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. If you swiped that photo off Find A Grave and posted it without asking or giving attribution, it’s never too late to apologize. Unless you’ve already been reported for copyright infringement.

Wash your hands before you eat. And before you handle very old documents or artifacts. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to wash them afterwards, too.

Flush. If you don’t need it, get rid of it. Or scan it so it takes up less room.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. A cookie break is always a good idea. Period.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. All genealogy all the time might be fun, but it makes Jill a dull girl. Do something different once in a while to refresh yourself and clear your head.

Take a nap every afternoon. Especially if you stayed up all night looking for ancestors.

When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Go to genealogy conferences, society meetings… get out in the world and meet other genealogists. They really are nice people, and they like to help. And have fun.

Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Never forget the wave of emotion that came over you when you stood at the door of your great-great-grandparents ancestral home. Or the excitement of finally finding your grandfather’s grave after 20 years of searching. Or the thrill of meeting a new cousin… who happens to own the family Bible. These are the wondrous moments that fuel and feed us.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we. To put it bluntly, genealogy is the finding of dead people. We all know that. But don’t forget that YOU will be named on a death certificate too, one day. Live a wonderful life worthy of remembering. And back up your data in a format that can be passed on to future generations.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK. LOOK EVERYWHERE. Not everything is on the internet. Look in libraries. Look in Family History Centers. Look in county courthouses. Look in cemeteries. And look at what you’ve already got multiple times. As your knowledge and awareness change, your interpretation will also change. You can see the same things with new eyes and maybe find answers that were right in front of you the whole time.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

And genealogy.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.


Fulghum, Robert. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. New York: The Random House Publishing Group, 1986. The words in bold are his; the others are mine.



California Vital Records: Get Them While You Still Can

california_vital_recordsIn my Friday BestBytes column, I posted a link to an article titled “States ration birth, marriage, death certificates after paper company suddenly closes,” which discusses the closure of Sekuworks, an Ohio paper company, and the impact this closure is having on the ability of several states to provide copies of vital records. 

In California, the closure is severely hampering the ability of counties to issue “authorized” copies of vital records, which are used to establish the identity of the person named in the record (“informational” copies are not used to establish identity). California law requires that authorized copies of vital records be printed on special paper using the “intaglio” printing process… which only one company in the United States – the one that just closed – is able to provide. There is one other company in the world which could provide this service, but that company is in Canada, and it would likely take months for this company to get up to speed to meet California’s needs.

This morning, the California State Genealogical Alliance (CSGA) shared a post on it’s blog (originally written by Jan Meisels Allen) on this very topic, bringing up another important issue: there are currently NO bills being introduced in the California State Legislature to address this problem. That’s right, none. And the California Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on September 11, the last day for any bill to be passed in 2015.

As California genealogists, and/or genealogists who do research in California, we might want to consider writing to our legislators to encourage them to take action on this problem before it becomes critical. You can find your California legislator’s contact information here.



Best Bytes for the Week of 21 August 2015

Best Bytes: News nuggets you can use.

What’s Hot

NGS Announces a New Course in the American Genealogical Studies Series: Beyond the Basics

More than 82,000 FamilySearch Volunteers “Fuel the Find” for People Worldwide

2016 Jamboree – Call for Presentations

Forensic Genealogy Institute Announces Dates for 2016 Event

August is the Right Time to Tell Your Senators About Your Record Access Concerns

California is being hit the hardest: States ration birth, marriage, death certificates after paper company suddenly closes

Kentucky’s new genderless marriage licenses might pose problem for genealogists

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Announces Appointment of Christopher C. Child as Editor of the Mayflower Descendant

ICYMI: Inmates Indexing Genealogy Records


Cool Stuffs

Finally! A Super Easy, Visual Way to Organize Your Genealogy Data

Edit Any Photo on the Internet with Polarr’s Plugin for Chrome and Firefox

Google Photos Introduces “Rediscover This Day” To Help You Reminisce

Dropbox saves URLs you drag and drop on the web and PC

Hey Soldier, What’s Your Name? Crowdsourcing IDs in Old Group Photos [TUTORIAL]

Highlight Important Areas of Document Images

Mega-Search … an option for getting search results from just genealogical web sites


In the News

Sandyston woman wants her archives back

Dig uncovers British fort’s stone walls in Lake George, N.Y.

State funeral for forgotten 1916 rebel after DNA testing confirms identity

DNA proves President Harding fathered child out of wedlock and

DNA Shows Warren Harding Wasn’t America’s First Black President

Russia Wants Rachmaninoff’s Remains Back

Historic Century Inn burns in Washington County; rare flag saved



Lost piece of family history returned after 4 decades

Woman’s detective work reunites Charlotte family with old photos

DNA test brings Florida man ‘home’ to St. John Valley

German man who fled Czechoslovakia during Second World War returns to his family home after 70 years and discovers the possessions his father hid in the roof are still there


Help Wanted

Department of Interior, Indian Affairs — Hiring a Genealogist

Are these men the same person: Mystery Monday – Possible Simon spotting

This gentleman is looking for members of his U.S. Army WWII unit with whom he served in 1942/43.

This week’s Findmypast “Community Conversation” centers around a specific passenger list… does anybody have advice for Jean?


From the Blogs

Mystery Monday, Do You Have a Mystery?

Twile Converts Family Tree Data into Visual Timelines – Post 1: GEDCOM Upload and

Twile Converts Family Tree Data into Visual Timelines – Post 2: Photo and Document Upload

So, you’ve found all of the digitized records available online. Now what?

Tuesday’s Tip: Maybe those online trees aren’t ALL bad …

19 August 1692, Five People Hanged for Witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts

Digitization Options for Family Photos Including Slides, Film Negatives, and Home Movies

For Those Who Change E-Mail Addresses… And For Those Who Don’t

The Origin and History of New Hampshire’s Daniel Webster Highway

Sad and sweet: Dollhouse Grave Markers


The Last Byte

Earlier this week, there was an article on Genealogy’s Star titled The Almost Lost Art of Handwriting — Reading Old Scripts, in which the author,  James Tanner writes, “From time to time I have commented on the erosion of the teaching of cursive writing in schools across the country and I am sure that there is still a steep decline in the ability of today’s children to use handwriting at all, much less to any passible [sic] level. As genealogists, we are confronted with the need to read handwritten documents, in fact, the whole culture of FamilySearch Indexing is organized around the idea that there is still not an adequate way to read handwriting by computer and that human intervention is necessary.”

He goes on later to say, “Do I think children should be taught to write cursive? Whether I do or not, I do not think that learning to write in cursive helps you very much to decipher old handwriting. Deciphering old handwriting is a completely different skill that requires quite a bit of work and experience.”

Many of you know that I homeschool my daughter, and as such, I choose what is important for her to learn instead of letting a teacher or the school district decide. And I have chosen to teach her to read and write in cursive. We actually started last year in 3rd grade, and much to my surprise (and hers) she rather enjoyed it. I told her from the beginning that I was not concerned with how neatly she could write – after all, my cursive writing is fairly tragic – but I did feel it was important for her to be able to 1) read cursive, and 2) sign her name in cursive. My daughter was so excited the first time she could read a greeting card from Grandma and Grandpa all by herself… how could I not give her that valuable life skill?

Do I agree that deciphering old handwriting is an entirely different skill? Perhaps. But I feel it is a skill that has its foundation in the knowledge of cursive. And we need to give our children this basic skill if we want them to carry the torch as the genealogists of the future.

What do you think? Do kids today still need to learn the “lost art of handwriting?”



Some Good News (Sort of) for the Prado Dam Mural

Image courtesy of Rory Murray,

Back on March 5th, I wrote about the possible removal of the Prado Dam mural, an iconic symbol of America’s bicentennial, and something I remembered fondly from my childhood.

On August 5th, the Corona City Council unanimously voted to support the restoration of the Prado Dam mural. This means that all five cities surrounding the mural, as well as the Orange County Water District, and the Corona-Norco Unified School District, have all united in support of restoring the Prado Dam mural to its original, patriotic glory.

In early June, a U.S. District Court judge issued a restraining order halting any actions on the mural’s removal for at least a month, after one of the creators of the mural filed suit. The order came just 12 hours before the mural was slated for removal by the Army Corps of Engineers. A federal judge is expected to decide the fate of the mural on August 19th.

If you haven’t already signed the petition to save this piece of Southern California history, please visit Save The Largest Patriotic Mural In America. Over 19,000 people have already signed.

For up-to-date information, please visit Friends of the Prado Dam Mural.

* Image above by Rory Murray.



Best Bytes for the Week of 7 Aug 2015


Best Bytes is an eclectic collection, in no particular order, of things I thought were interesting during the past week. I hope you find something to enjoy here!


What’s Hot

#FuelTheFind: FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event starts today!

Save 20% on AncestryDNA

Update Firefox Now

Apple to patch serious security hole in Mac OS X

Public Comment Sought by NARA on Partnership Agreements with and Fold3

Finding Your Roots Returns (Season 3)

300 years of [Irish] parish records now online

35,000 North Carolina Pension Confederate Applications 1901-1946 Going Online


Cool Stuffs

How the US Military Helped Invent Cheetos

Digi-Know . . . Hey Siri Takes Hands-Free to a New Level

This interactive map crams in American literature’s greatest road trips

Ireland’s remotest spots and hidden wonders are coming to Google Maps

Mapping Radio Legend Art Laboe’s LA Through the Years


In the News

Ohio Genealogical Society Announces New Lineage Society Doubles its Online Library to More Than 80,000 Digital Genealogy Books

Researchers lament Arizona genealogy library’s sudden downsizing, relocation

Iraq Digitising Baghdad National Library Archives In Face of ISIS Threat

Digital database breathes new life into newspaper archives

Forgotten Plymouth history discovered in family mementos

Ancient Humans Had More DNA Than We Have Now

‘Roots’ author Alex Haley’s grandmother’s tombstone vandalized with racial graffiti


Help Wanted

Call for Panelists: What Did SHE Say? Study Group 1

What is it? (This may already have been solved)


From the Blogs

Searching With 23andMe

Using Amazon for Genealogy

From the Readers: Keeping Watch Over Me

The Early History of Manchester New Hampshire’s Hesser Business College (now Mount Washington College) and the Hesser Family

The Value of Special Collections

On the Road Again: Presidential Visits to the West, Part I


The Last Byte

Do you print your photos or just keep the digital versions on your computer/device? I used to print more often, but for several years, I have just been too lazy busy. I almost never print anymore. In fact, the last time I printed any photos was 2 months ago for my daughter’s school photography exhibit. Before that… I have no idea. I discovered the hard way that photo paper – even properly stored – does not age well. Sadly, I must have thousands of digital photos just languishing on my computer’s hard drive or in the cloud. My walls are in desperate need of some family faces.

According to PetaPixel, “Canon has launched a lighthearted new advertising campaign for its PIXMA line of printers. Titled “Never Again,” the series of short 30-second advertisements imagine disastrous moments in life when printing out a photo or document could have saved a person from a lifetime of mental trauma and regret.” A couple of these, in particular, really hit home for me (No, not the one with the 2 boys looking at the camera!).

Read: Canon’s Humorous ‘Never Again’ Ads Show Why You Should Print Your Photos.

Note to self: Time to invest in some new photo paper.



#FuelTheFind with FamilySearch Indexing (I’m IN)!

Today marks the big kick-off for the FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event, which lasts from August 7 – 13, 2015. Wherever you are in the world, you can download a batch of documents from FamilySearch Indexing, and “pay it forward” for future genealogists who might just be waiting for that particular document you indexed. The goal is for 100,000 people to participate in one week, and help is especially needed with records in French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.


Also, don’t miss the indexing fun with the DearMYRTLE online community. Myrt will be hosting several Hangouts devoted to this project, and is looking for volunteers to talk about some of the breakthroughs you’ve experienced using indexed records. She also offers suggestions on how to get started indexing, and how YOU can help #FuelTheFind. Check out the DearMYRTLE Blog for updates.

Note to DAR members: Be sure to enter your time in the Celebrate America! tally of hours because you are most certainly doing a service to the genealogy community! :-)

Note to SL-APG members: Please be sure to keep track of your time for our annual project reporting!



My Dog Knows “Evidence Explained” is on Sale!


Apparently my little doggie wanted to help me share the news: Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, Third Edition – the NEW one, in other words – is currently for sale at for more than $10 less than the list price!

Mine just arrived in today’s mail (thank you, Amazon Prime!), so I have yet to check it out. For some odd reason, my dog jumped up on the couch and sat right down next to it. Dogs just know a good thing when they see it, I guess! :-)

(Hat tip to Tami Glatz for the head’s up on the sale!)



Free Talking Book Program: BARD Mobile App for Android


I thought this latest news from the Library of Congress was rather fascinating:

People who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability may now download talking books to their Android phone or tablet, if they are registered with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in the Library of Congress.


The Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) Mobile app is now available through Google Play for devices running Android OS 4.1 or later. The free app allows readers to download talking books from their NLS BARD accounts. Access to BARD is provided through local cooperating libraries. BARD contains nearly 65,000 books, magazines, and music scores in audio and braille formats, with new selections added daily.


“The BARD Mobile app allows searching, downloading, and reading books and magazines on one fully accessible, mainstream device,” NLS director Karen Keninger said. “It’s a library in your pocket.” NLS released a BARD Mobile app for iOS devices in 2013. The addition of an Android app “will give on-the-go access to an even larger number of patrons,” Keninger said.

My husband has a family member who is losing his vision due to macular degeneration. It makes me very sad because he was the family genealogist for many years and can no longer see well enough to do any research. My husband seems to have taken up that mantle now, but we miss the contributions and insight from his cousin. :-(

Read the rest of the article here.



Debbie Gurtler Lectures on Finding Hispanic Ancestors

Debbie GurtlerDebbie Gurtler will present two free lectures on resources and research techniques for finding your Hispanic ancestors from Spain, Mexico, or other Latin American countries on Saturday, July 11, 2015, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2107 Santa Barbara Street, Santa Barbara, California, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00.p.m. 

Debbie graduated with honors from Brigham Young University with a BA Degree in Family History. She worked for several research firms in Salt Lake before beginning her present employment at the Family History Library where she is currently the supervisor of the International Floor. She is fluent in Spanish and presents classes in both English and Spanish. Her areas of research specialty include Spain, Latin America, Brazil, Portugal and the United States. She is also familiar with the research basics for Quebec, France, and Italy. In addition to Spanish, her language expertise includes the ability to read documents in Portuguese, Italian, French, and Latin. She is an Accredited Genealogist® for the United States, Mid-south region and Spain. She is a commissioner on the board of ICAPGen where she serves as webmaster. She is the mother of three and the grandmother of three.

She also worked with a team of genealogists on the ancestry of Tim McGraw for the NBC program “Who Do You Think You Are,” and has taught various Hispanic research beginner and methodology classes at conferences and in the Family History Library in both Spanish and English.

Registration: 8:15am to 9:00am. Register here for FREE.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society and the LDS Family History Center of Santa Barbara. You do not need to be a member to enjoy this wonderful, free presentation.

For information, contact or visit



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