News From the Library of Congress


A couple of interesting emails about one of my favorite places – the Library of Congress – popped into my inbox this morning.

First off, the LOC’s fabulous newspaper site, Chronicling America, has just posted it’s 10 millionth page:

The site now features more than 10 million pages – 74 terabytes of total data – from more than 1,900 newspapers in 38 states and territories and the District of Columbia. The site averaged nearly 3.8 million page views per month last year and is being used by students, researchers, journalists and others for all kinds of research, from family history to in-depth analysis of U.S. culture. The headlines, articles and advertisements capture the life and times of the American people, shining new light on historic events as they unfolded.


The Library is celebrating the milestone with a series of 10 lists featuring interesting and off-beat content from the online archive presented in weekly blog posts beginning Oct. 8 with “Cat Tales.” Other topics will include “Medical Advances Gone Wrong,” “Coffee ‘Facts’” and “End of the World.” Sign up for the blog at and follow the fun on Twitter at @librarycongress #ChronAm #10Million.

That’s an awful lot of scanning, when you think about it! And oh boy, I can’t wait to read those posts about “Medical Advances Gone Wrong.” How ’bout you? 😯

You can read the entire press release at Online Resource of Historic Newspapers Posts 10 Millionth Page.

Second, did you know that the Library of Congress is on Instagram? Neither did I, but they want us to follow!

It is a great time to follow the Library on Instagram. If you haven’t been to our Main Reading Room, it is a feast for the eyes – and the camera. Our own photographer, the very talented Shawn Miller, will be capturing and posting images.

This coming Monday, the LOC will open its Main Reading Room for their traditional Columbus Day Open House, giving people chance to take pictures of the historic room (apparently not everyone gets free run of the place, like Nicholas Cage did in National Treasure). So if you’re in town, post your Library photos on Instagram using the hashtag #LibraryOpenHouse. They will pick three favorites to feature on their blog next Wednesday.

Read the rest of the post, Going Inside the Library on Instagram. And don’t forget to follow the follow the LOC. (If you feel so inclined, you can also follow me on Instagram, although I am nowhere near as interesting as the LOC!)



In the Blink of an Eye…

This morning, I logged into Facebook, fully expecting to see the usual cat memes and photos of food. Instead, I saw that one of my genealogy colleagues – and one of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet – had unexpectedly lost her husband.

The news was like a throat-punch. 

I can’t even imagine how devastating this must be for her and her family.

As genealogists, we spend so much of our time looking for the dead. But as we all know, they’re not going anywhere.

So my message to you today is: let us not forget to spend time with the living and let them know how much we love them each and every day. We never know when tomorrow might be too late.


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Image from Pinterest.

P.S. Love you, Dad!



Are You #CyberAware?

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

In addition to marking the beginning of Family History Month, October 1 was also the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). The stage is set for a massive global effort to impact millions of Internet users on the importance of online safety and security.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance founded and now lead NCSAM. All digital citizens – from consumers and small- and medium-sized businesses to multinationals, educational institutions and nonprofits – will be encouraged to increase their awareness about safe Internet use.

With more than one billion data records compromised worldwide1 and 348 million U.S. Internet users’ identities exposed in breaches during 20142, NCSAM is calling for intensified vigilance from Internet users everywhere to protect their personal information. Check out NCSA’s infographic, “Securing the Internet is our Shared Responsibility,” to learn more about themes, tips and how to get engaged.

“It’s virtually impossible to manage our lives and responsibilities without relying on the Internet. It is the foundation under much of what we do – from shopping to monitoring health and home to turning in homework and keeping in touch with friends and family ‒ we depend on being connected 24/7,” said Michael Kaiser, Executive Director, NCSA. “As much as we have come to rely on technology, we do so with the understanding that it is not risk-free.

Cyber threats and data breaches continue and the loss of personal information, privacy, and the real world consequences of the impact of cyber incidents have everyone’s attention. National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a collective effort by government, industry and civil society to ensure everyone is taking steps to be safer online. This starts with actionable advice for everyone, such as turning on two-factor authentication on email accounts, not clicking on suspicious links, using public WiFi wisely and thinking twice about posting personal information online.”

To bridge the knowledge and action gap, NCSA is asking Internet users everywhere to be more #CyberAware by making at least one STOP. THINK. CONNECT. practice a part of their everyday, online routines:

  • Keep a clean machine: Keeping all web-connected devices ‒ including PCs, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets ‒ free from malware and infections makes the Internet safer for you and more secure for everyone.

  • Get two steps ahead: Turn on two-step authentication ‒ also known as two-step verification or multifactor authentication ‒ on accounts where available.

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, posts and texts are often the ways cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.

  • Think before you app: Review the privacy policy and understand what data (such as location and entry to your social networks) the app can access on your device before you download. Delete apps you are no longer using.

  • Make a better password: Improve your defenses by making passwords that you can remember and are hard to guess for others. Preferably use numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and symbols that are different for all accounts.

  • Post only about others what you would have them post about you. It’s the golden rule on the Internet, too.

Please visit the National Cyber Security Alliance website for more tips on how you can be #cyberaware.

Protect your identity, as well as your precious photos and years of family history research.



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This modified press release is brought to you by the National Cyber Security Alliance.



Best Bytes for the Week of 2 Oct 2015

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Barring a slip in the bathtub or a piece of Skylab falling on his head, Simon Cowell is expected to live to the ripe old age of 95.

According to this article, Mr. Cowell has taken a DNA test from an undisclosed company in L.A., which has provided him with this promising life-span report. “They take your blood and DNA, then give you back a sheet of paper which says ‘We think you’re going to be alive until xxxx'”

Now, that may or may not be good news to you, but I’m pretty sure that it’s fabulous news to him. After all, the 55-year-old Cowell has a 19-month old son (making me Not the Oldest Parent in the World). Knowing that he will possibly live long enough to see his descendant graduate from college, get married, and have kids must be very reassuring for him.

We should all be so lucky.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, knowing how long one has left to live could inspire one to get off one’s fanny and do the things one keeps saying one will do, but never quite gets around to. Like travel to the Motherland. Write that family history book. Go hang-gliding.

On the other hand, knowing one’s expiration date might cause one to slip into a deep depression, especially if said date is rapidly approaching, thus squandering one’s time left on earth.

So my question to you is: If you had the chance to find out how long you are expected to live, would you do it? 



Los Californianos to Meet

Dobson's Map

Are you a descendant of a person of Hispanic heritage who arrived in Alta California prior to the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848? If so, you would likely be eligible for membership in Los Californianos!

From the group’s website:

The early Hispanic settlers of Alta California were called Californios or Californianos. Los Californianos was organized by their descendants to preserve the Hispanic heritage of Alta California (history, music, culture, infrastructure, etc.), and to help other descendants compile their Hispanic genealogy.

Los Californianos will be holding its quarterly “Meet and Greet” Historical Conference next month, October 23-25, 2015, at the Hotel Mission de Oro in Santa Nella, California. The gathering will also include a visit to the Milliken Museum, as well as a beginner/intermediate genealogy class focusing on use of the Early California Population Project (ECPP).

For more information about Los Californianos, please visit their website. I could not find the meeting registration form on their website, so I have uploaded a copy here.


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1789 map of N. America showing California when it was part of New Spain from Dobson’s Encyclopedia from Wikipedia Commons.

Many thanks to Sheila Ruiz Harrell for sharing this information in the California Genealogy & Genealogists Facebook Group!



Announcing Publication of One of the Most Important Genealogical Resources on New England

I received this press release from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) this afternoon. This one will be going on my wish list. :-)

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The Great Migration Directory

Study Estimates 95% of All People in New England Enumerated in First U.S. Census Trace Their Ancestry to Great Migration Immigrants

September 22, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has announced the publication and release of the latest work by Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Directory, Immigrants to New England, 1620–1640: A Concise Compendium. A nationally celebrated scholar of early American immigration, history, and genealogy, Anderson has served as Director of NEHGS’s Great Migration Study Project since its beginning in 1985.

This new publication from NEHGS, in a series of works documenting the Great Migration, is a complete survey of all individuals known to have come to New England during the Great Migration period, 1620–1640. Because previous works focused on the migration through 1635, this new work covers individuals not included in previous Great Migration compendia. Each entry provides critical  data, including identification of the head of each household, English or European origin (if known), date of migration, principal residences in New England, and the best available sources of information for the subject. The product of decades of painstaking research, The Great Migration Directory is one of the most important genealogical sources ever published for New England.

Under the leadership of Robert Charles Anderson, the Great Migration Study Project has aimed to compile authoritative genealogical and biographical accounts of every person who settled in New England between 1620 and 1640. The project has produced important findings on migration patterns, early records, life in seventeenth-century New England, and more.  A number of volumes of research have been published by NEHGS throughout the life of the project—segmenting immigrants and their profiles by arrival date or other category.  This new publication—for the first time—brings the names of all immigrants together into a single volume. 


The Great Migration Sample Entry


The Great Migration is the term used for the movement of Europeans, mostly English men, women, and children, to New England between the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620 and the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1640. During that period, according to Anderson’s research, about 20,000 immigrants crossed the Atlantic—approximately 4,500  families—most of them between 1634 and 1640. Anderson noted, “It has been estimated that of all the people who were in the 1790 Census in New England, 160 years later, 95% traced their ancestry to the people who came in that 20-year period.” In twelve volumes published over the last two decades, the Great Migration Study Project has presented detailed genealogical and biographical sketches for nearly half of these immigrants, covering the years from 1620 to 1635.

Anderson explained, “This new volume, The Great Migration Directory, takes a different approach from previous work, providing concise entries for all immigrant families for the entirety of the Great Migration, from 1620 to 1640. Each entry contains the best treatment of that immigrant in the secondary literature, providing citations which provide evidence for the statements made in the entry.”

NEHGS Publishing Director Penny Stratton stated, “Perhaps what makes this new publication so valuable to researchers is the methodology to tighten the accuracy of the list of those included in the directory, employing a three-step process, which he thoroughly details in this text.” Over the years, other authors of genealogies have erroneously deduced that certain individuals immigrated during the Great Migration. Referring to those inaccuracies, Stratton continued, “Anderson’s work in The Great Migration Directory includes only those for whom clear evidence exists of their arrival by 1640.”

The Great Migration Directory, Immigrants to New England, 1620–1640: A Concise Compendium is available through The Bookstore at NEHGS, with easy access through the website of New England Historic Genealogical Society at (490 pp., $64.95)




Kay and William Freilich to Present “Genealogy and the Law” Lecture at DAR Library

DAR Library

Those of you in the near the DAR Headquarters in Washington, DC, may be interested in this upcoming, free lecture:

The DAR Library is pleased to welcome, this coming Saturday, September 26, Kay Haviland Freilich and William B. Freilich as they continue our new Lecture Series with their work Genealogy and the Law. Kay Freilich brings her vast knowledge and background in genealogy, as an awarding-winning certified genealogist, certified genealogist lecturer, and a Fellow of the National Genealogical Society to this wonderful guide written with her husband, lawyer William Freilich. The two authors combine their respective backgrounds to deliver an indispensable guide every genealogist, regardless of level of experience, should own and consult for their own research.

Read the rest of the story on the Today’s DAR blog.

This event is open to the public. Registration is appreciated, but not required: register online or by calling 202-879-3287.

Pick up a copy of Genealogy and the Law: A Guide to Legal Sources for the Family Historian at


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Photo of the DAR Library by the blog author, 2011.



Andersonville Prisoners Finally Get Closure

Andersonville Prison


Like so many others, my great-great grandfather William H. Swatzel fought for the Union in the Civil War, was captured, and died as a prisoner at the infamous Andersonville Prison.

And like so many others, he was unceremoniously buried in the trenches, side-by-side with his dead comrades… a simple, wooden marker as the only reminder that he lived.

Today, my great-great-grandfather and the 13,000 soldiers who died at Andersonville Prison will finally get the long-overdue funeral they deserve:

Music, remarks, wreaths and the procession of a caisson bearing a wooden casket will give those who exhaled their last breath in the putrid air of an overcrowded Civil War prison the dignity and funeral they never received when their gaunt remains were carted off to the burial ground.

More information at the sourcelink.

Events at Andersonville will continue through Sunday. Check out the Andersonville National Historic Site Facebook page for videos and photos of the weekend’s events. Today’s Commemoration Ceremony is over, but you can view it online here thanks to C-SPAN/American History TV.

May William Swatzel, and all who suffered at Andersonville Prison, finally rest in peace.


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Sourcelinks: ‘Funeral for 13,000’ Andersonville prison dead brings closure (hat tip to my Facebook buddy Patricia Hein), and Funeral for 13,000.

Photo: Andersonville prisoners and tents, southwest view showing the dead-line, August 17, 1864, from Wikipedia Commons.



Best Bytes for the Week of 18 Sep 2015

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Twice this week, I have made amazing, breakthrough finds in my own family history. Ancestors who surely were beamed here by aliens have real, human families after all. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited. And still processing – mentally, and evidence-ally – what I’ve found.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve been so consumed by amazing finds that my brain cells are fried, and I really have nothing interesting or clever to say here in this spot.

Oh, except for this: Never assume that you’ve looked at a source “enough.” Go back on occasion and look again. And again. Keep re-looking until you get that “a-ha moment,” even if it takes decades.

Patience and persistence, my friend. Don’t give up. 😀





Help Find this Vietnam Veteran’s Family

US Army Vietnam Veteran

Can you help?

A new member of the California Genealogy & Genealogists group on Facebook posted today about a veteran named Ronnie Lee Toler, 66, who passed away on 26 August 2015, in Dickson, Tennessee. He is scheduled to be buried with military honors on Monday, 21 September, at the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Mr. Toler was born in Marysville, California, on 17 February 1949, to the late Jewel Dean Toler and Bonne Hayes Toler.

He was a Vietnam veteran, having served in the United States Army from 1974-1975, and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal.

Sadly, after 3 weeks of searching, the funeral home has been unable to locate any of Mr. Toler’s family. Clothes for his burial were donated by the local community.

If you knew Mr. Toler, his family, or can locate any living relatives who might wish to know of his passing, please contact the Dickson Funeral Home as soon as possible.

People living in the local area are invited to join his funeral procession at 8:15 a.m. on Monday morning to pay their respects to this American hero.


UPDATE 9/19/15: According to this sourcelink, the funeral home has apparently found a few “estranged” members of Mr. Toler’s family, who are either unable or unwilling to attend his funeral. On the bright side, the funeral home is paying for the entire cost of his funeral, and any donations they receive on behalf of Mr. Toler will be donated to a veteran’s fund. Additionally, @gencarter says that 50 bikers will escort his body to the cemetery on Monday. #bikersrock

Whatever transpired during this veteran’s lifetime, it is good to know that he will be buried with the honor and respect that he deserves for his service to our country.


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Sourcelinks : Veteran will be laid to rest Monday morning and Update on Mr. Ronnie Lee Toler and Dickson funeral home hosts free funeral for unclaimed veteran



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