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  • 12 Jun 2024 8:50 AM | Anonymous

    Pam Cooper, a county historian said to be passionate about genealogy and who secured troves of historical data and tools for as many people as possible to discover their family histories and learn about the place they call home, died last week at age 74.

    Before it was a $5.5 million industry with family histories and DNA profiles available as gifts and monthly subscriptions, genealogy, or learning about one’s ancestry and the creation of family trees were acts of individual detective work through historic records and newspaper clippings housed in court offices and public libraries.

    Pam Cooper

    By the end of her three-decade career, Pamela “Pam” Cooper was credited with having transformed what was an Indian River County library bookshelf corner in 1986 into what at the time of her retirement in 2016 was an over 33,000-volume archive center and genealogy department, considered one of the “top three small genealogy departments in the country.”

    “She built that from basically nothing,” said Marlis Humphrey, president of the Florida State Genealogical Society.

    You can read a lot more in an article by Corey Arwood, published in the tcpalm newspaper’s web site at:

  • 12 Jun 2024 8:33 AM | Anonymous

    Prior to the opening of a research center and artist residency dedicated to Pablo Picasso, a museum will be established in downtown Paris. The digital site provides users with unrestricted access to the museum's extensive assortment of artworks, articles, conferences, podcasts, and interviews.

    A significant number of items, including around 19,000 photographs, have not been made available to the general public.

    Over the next few years, about 200,000 words from Picasso's workshops will be digitized and made available online.

    Picasso was born in 1881 in Spain and resided primarily in France throughout his lifetime, ultimately passing away in 1973. In 1992, the family consigned his archives to the French state. The Paris museum will inaugurate a new exhibition titled "Picasso: Consuming Images".

    The exhibition juxtaposes numerous renowned pieces by Picasso with the influential historical artists who served as his inspiration, such as Poussin, Rembrandt, Delacroix, Goya, and Matisse. Additionally, it showcases various additional images and themes that Picasso incorporated into his work.

    According to curator Cecile Godefroy, Picasso was exposed to a plethora of novel pictures and artworks that he personally visited in museums in Paris throughout his formative years.

    However, she noted that his assimilation of pictures extended far beyond the realm of academia. She explained that his captivation with postcards, art magazines, photography, television images, cinema, comic strips, and advertising foreshadowed the overwhelming influx of images that we now see in the era of social media.

    You can view the assortment of artworks housed in the Picasso Museum in Paris through an online platform: here.

  • 12 Jun 2024 8:24 AM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release written by the Illinois State Museum:

    Museum historians will record oral histories with travelers, businesses, highway builders, and others

    SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois State Museum is seeking individuals to share their personal experiences with the original Route 66 in Illinois, including travelers, businesses that operated along the route, workers who built the highway, and others.

    Route 66 will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2026. Historians from the Illinois State Museum will record and share oral histories of people who can recall their connections to the historic roadway, which operated from 1926 until decommissioning in 1985.

    "These interviews will help illustrate the significance of this important transportation achievement," said Erika Holst, the museum's curator of history.

    Specifically, museum historians would like to interview:

    • People who have memories of driving on Route 66 or traveling the highway with family or for business.
    • Those who were involved or whose families were involved in operating restaurants, hotels, or auto service businesses along the route.
    • Anyone who participated in the building, maintenance, or rerouting of the Mother Road.
    • First responders who worked along Route 66.
    • Those who have any other firsthand experiences with Route 66 to share.

    "This project also gives us an opportunity to preserve memories of Illinois citizens for posterity," said Amanda Bryden, registrar for the history collections of the Illinois State Museum and Illinois historic sites.

    Anyone who has experienced Route 66 in one or more of these ways and would like to be part of the project can contact Route 66 project coordinator Judy Wagenblast at The oral history project is funded in part by the National Park Service.

    Interview participants will be asked to sign a permission form granting legal rights to conduct and preserve the interview. Monetary compensation is not offered. Video recordings of the interviews and transcriptions will be made available to the public in an online database as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Historic Route 66 in 2026.

  • 11 Jun 2024 10:03 PM | Anonymous

    The data watchdogs of the UK and Canada will investigate genetic testing company 23andMe over a data breach in October 2023.

    Hackers gained access to personal information of 6.9 million people, which in some cases included family trees, birth years and geographic locations, by using customers' old passwords.

    One of the things the joint taskforce will investigate is whether adequate safeguards had been put in place to protect such data.

    "We intend to cooperate with these regulators’ reasonable requests," 23andMe said in a statement.

    The data stolen in October did not include DNA records.

    23andMe is a giant of the growing ancestor-tracing industry, offering genetic testing from DNA, with ancestry breakdown and personalised health insights.

    The company was not hacked itself - but rather criminals logged into about 14,000 individual accounts, or 0.1% of customers, by using email and password details previously exposed in other hacks.

    The criminals downloaded not just the data from those accounts but the private information of all other users they had links to across the family trees on the website.

    At the time, 23andMe said it informed affected customers and made them change their passwords and update account security.

    According to the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the data stored by 23andMe "can reveal information about an individual and their family members, including about their health, ethnicity, and biological relationships".

    It said this means it is "essential" for the public to trust the service.

    The joint investigation between the data watchdogs will look at the size of the hack and its potential harm to users as well as whether adequate safeguards were in place.

    It will also look into how 23andMe reported the breach, and if the firm followed the correct processes in the UK and Canada.

    "In the wrong hands, an individual’s genetic information could be misused for surveillance or discrimination," said Canada privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresene.

  • 11 Jun 2024 9:20 AM | Anonymous

    The genealogy company has digitized and published 38,000 newspaper articles from between 1788 and 1867—before Black Americans were counted as citizens in the U.S. census.

    Thanks to the rise of commercial genealogy platforms, millions of Americans are now researching their family histories. However, for many Black Americans, the process can be challenging, if not impossible, because of insufficient documentation describing their enslaved ancestors.

    Now, a newly released database of historic records may help fill in some of those gaps. This week, Ancestry published 38,000 newspaper articles containing the names, ages, physical descriptions and locations of more than 183,000 enslaved people in America.

    “Sometimes data can feel impersonal, but what this significant number really represents is over 183,000 formerly enslaved individuals—people who may not have been named or recognized since the original newspaper publications,” Nicka Sewell-Smith, a genealogist and senior story producer for Ancestry, tells Smithsonian magazine.

    The collection, called “Articles of Enslavement,” is free for anyone to access online. Ancestry has already digitized more than 18 million records related to formerly enslaved or newly emancipated individuals, drawn from sources such as the Freedmen’s Bureauand the United States census.

    The newly published documents, which cover the years between 1788 and 1867, could help Black families across the country who are interested in tracing their roots. Black Americans were counted as citizens on the census for the first time in 1870, and records from before that year are scarce. “Ancestry tracing often leads to dead ends, uncertainty and more questions, especially when it comes to identifying the enslaved,” as Tracy Scott Forson wrote for Smithsonian earlier this year.

    As such, to find information from before 1870, Black families need documents other than census records—which the new Ancestry collection might be able to help with. More broadly, the documents could also provide historians with new insights into chattel slavery in the U.S.

    “By piecing together individual stories, researchers can construct a more detailed picture of the lived experiences of Black Americans, enriching our collective understanding of history,” says Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, a scholar of Africana studies at Morehouse College, in a statement from Ancestry.

    Some of the newspaper articles describe the buying and selling of enslaved people. Others are more like classified ads, with enslavers offering rewards for the return of runaways.

    For example, in 1788, an enslaver named David Hawkins published a short piece in the Poughkeepsie Journal offering a $10 reward for the return of two enslaved men, Prime and Nathaniel Rockwell, who’d absconded near Goshen in Orange County, New York. The article described each man’s appearance, clothing and age.

    You can read more in an article by Sarah Kuta published in the Smithsonian Magazine web site at:

  • 11 Jun 2024 8:56 AM | Anonymous

    Wiener Library teams up with Leo Baeck Institute to search for collection of 60,000 precious books looted by Nazis from The Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin

    A new exhibition has launched at London’s Wiener Holocaust Library.

    Produced by the Leo Baeck Institute, The Library of Lost Books runs until 10th July. The first project of its kind, it tells the story of an important German-Jewish institution, from its role as a vibrant space for learning to a victim of Nazi crime.

    The Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin (Hochschule des Judentums 1872 – 1942) was dedicated to the study of Jewish history, culture and religion.

    Considered one of the largest and most important Jewish libraries in the world, it welcomed scholars such as Rabbi Dr Leo Baeck and Franz Kafka. Its collection included books in languages including German, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Hungarian, Latin and English. In 1942 the Nazis targeted it for destruction.

    During the Holocaust the Hochschule’s unique library of books was looted by the Nazis and scattered across the globe.

    One last group photograph: lecturers, students and staff of the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in the reading room of their library, summer 1938. Pic:

    The new pop-up exhibition at the Wiener Library reveals the complex journeys looted books took in the aftermath of the Shoah. It forms part of an international project which aims to commemorate and educate about the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies.

    Alongside a series of online and physical exhibitions, the project also includes a global citizen science project to trace the 60,000 lost works. So far books have been found in Germany, the Czech Republic, Israel, the USA, and in Britain.

    You can read more in an article by Michelle Rosenberg published in the Jewish News web site at:

  • 10 Jun 2024 4:05 PM | Anonymous

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

    Registration for SLIG 2025 will open on June 22, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. MDT.

    Registration for SLIG Spring Virtual 2025 will open on June 22, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. MDT.
    If you don’t already have an account with our registration system, please create one BEFORE registration opens on June 22. We recommend doing this at least 24 hours before registration opens – in other words, please do this ASAP! You can set up your account at the SLIG registration page by clicking the link below. Download the SLIG Registration Guide here.

    Course Offerings

    Course 1: Organizing, Preserving, and Disaster-Proofing Your Family Archive
    Annette Burke Lyttle, MA, CG

    Course 2: Ethics and the Genealogist
    Gary Ball-Kilbourne, MDiv, PhD, CG, CGL

    Course 3: Advanced Techniques: Material Culture Research
    Gena Philibert-Ortega, MA, MAR

    Course 4: Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy
    Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

    Course 5: African American Genealogy Methods and Strategies
    LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, FASG

    Course 6: Advanced New England Research: From the Colonial Period to the Early 1900s
    D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, FUGA

    Course 7: Italian Genealogical Research, Methodologies, and Sources
    Suzanne Russo Adams, MA, AG

    Course 8: DNA Dreamers: Integrating DNA Evidence to Resolve Complex Cases
    Karen Stanbary, LCSW, AM, CG, CGG

    Course 9: Advanced Genealogical Methods
    Paul K. Graham, CG, AG

    Course 10: Guided Research and Consultation
    Craig Roberts Scott, MA, CG, FUGA

    Course 1: Reconstructing Ancestral Neighborhoods & Networks
    Kimberly T. Powell and Gerald H. Smith, CG

    Course 2: Researching Women from 1860 to 1950
    Gena Philibert-Ortega, MA, MAR

    Course 3: A Century of Change: The Emigrant-Immigrant-Migrant Experience in the U.S., 1825–1925
    Pamela J. Vittorio, MA, PLCGS

    Course 4: The Art of Writing a Research Report
    Debra A. Hoffman, PLCGS

    Course 5: Bring ‘Em Back to Life: Writing Our Ancestors’ Stories
    Annette Burke Lyttle, MA, CG

    Course 6: Tracing French-Canadian Ancestors and Telling Their Stories
    David S. Ouimette, CG, CGL

    Course 7: Becoming an Accredited Genealogist Professional: The Why, the What, the How
    Lisa Stokes, AG

    Course 8: BCG Certification: Understanding and Meeting Standards
    Angela Packer McGhie, CG, FUGA, and Karen Stanbary, LCSW, AM, CG, CGG

    Tips to Ensure Registration Goes Smoothly

  • 10 Jun 2024 11:21 AM | Anonymous

    There is a very interesting human interest story on the CNN web site at:

    When Elana Milman published an autobiography last year about her lifelong quest to find her birth parents, she had accepted she would never know the identity of her father.

    But thanks to a DNA test and some serious “genealogical detective work,” Milman, a 77-year-old retired teacher born in a displaced persons camp in Bergen-Belsen, has just returned from Poland, where she had an emotional meeting with the brother she didn’t know she had until earlier this year.

    Growing up on a kibbutz in northern Israel, Milman had no idea her mother and father were not her birth parents until she was six, when she recalls a friend shared the “very big secret” he had heard.

    “I remember this feeling like yesterday, like a kind of stab in my tummy,” Milman, a retired teacher, told CNN on a video call.

    When confronted, her parents admitted that they had not brought her into the world but said they loved her and were raising her to have a “wonderful life.”

    Over the years, whenever she tried to discuss it, she was told: “When you grow up, you’ll know.”

    It was only in her 30s that Milman finally discovered her birth certificate, which – after some meticulous research – led her to her birth mother in Canada.

    The birth certificate showed she was born Helena Lewinska to a Polish-Jewish woman called Franziska Lewinska in 1947 at the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp, close to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp of the same name.

    However, in 1948 she arrived in what was then Palestine – just months before Israel’s independence – as part of a group of unaccompanied children from war-torn Europe. She was adopted by a childless couple, Eliezer and Hulda Rosenfeld, from Kibbutz Merhavia, near Haifa.

    Against the odds, Milman eventually tracked down her biological mother, who had married and changed her name, in Canada and even spent a year there with her family. The pair grew close over several years and although her mother, known as Franka, shared much about her wartime past before she died in the 1980s – how she survived the Holocaust by escaping from the Warsaw Ghetto and living on the other side of the city under a false identity, and how her parents and siblings perished at the Nazis’ Treblinka extermination camp – she refused to divulge the identity of Milman’s father.

    He was listed as Eugeniusz Lewinski on Milman’s birth certificate, but her research hit a brick wall as she found no evidence of anyone by that name.

    “Every time I quizzed my mother – like, what happened to her during the war and who was my father – she gave me different stories,” she told CNN. “When I bugged her too much, she said ‘the only thing I can tell you is that he was a very good singer and dancer – and very handsome.’”

    Last year, Milman – who has four children and 10 grandchildren – published an autobiography aptly entitled “When you grow up, you’ll know.” In an interview with an Israeli magazine at that time, she said she had come to terms with never knowing who her father was.

    Little did she know that Gilad Japhet, founder and chief executive of genealogy platform MyHeritage, would read the article and pass it to his research team, asking “can we help?”

    With Milman’s consent, they embarked on “genealogical detective work,” according to Roi Mandel, MyHeritage’s director of research.

    There were few clues to go on and it seemed as if Lewinska had, for whatever reason, given the “father” on the birth certificate the male version of her surname to create the impression they had been married.

    But then Milman took a DNA test, which proved crucial. It showed she was 50% Ashkenazi Jewish and 50% Eastern European and revealed a match with a Polish woman living in France. They shared 2.3% of their DNA – meaning they had a set of great-grandparents in common.

    The Polish woman could not explain the connection but she had a small family tree, which MyHeritage built upon using its extensive database of historical documents and with the help of a professional researcher who trawled the archives in Poland.

    “Luckily for us, the DNA test and the small match found for Elana with a Polish user was the little clue we needed,” Mandel told CNN in an email.

    “The research took six months, as part of which we mapped the family, mapping eight pairs of great-grandparents, and delved into each branch and its male descendants. We marked the potential candidates, who were in the right place, at the right time and of the right age.”

    That time, the researchers estimated, was somewhere between April 24 and 28 in 1946, leaving them with six prime suspects.

    Fortunately, they struck lucky first time, after deciding to focus on a man who shared a first name with the birth certificate entry: Eugeniusz Gorzkoś.

    Mandel’s team subsequently found and reached out to Gorzkoś’s son, Juliusz, a 72-year-old retired veterinarian in northern Poland.

    Shocked but intrigued, he agreed to a DNA test, which proved that he and Milman were half-siblings.

    Elana, right, and her biological mother Franziska (Franka), center, with her husband Yoseph Bursztajn and her other children, Mike and Diane, in 1981.

    Elana, right, and her biological mother Franziska (Franka), center, with her husband Yoseph Bursztajn and her other children, Mike and Diane, in 1981. 

    The pair first “met” at a virtual reunion facilitated by MyHeritage in March. Speaking through an interpreter, Milman told her brother that learning her identity had been the “project of my life.”

    There is more to the story in an article by Lianne Kolirin at:

  • 10 Jun 2024 7:24 AM | Anonymous

    Genealogy business Finders International has been sold to private equity firm Pelican Capital in an undisclosed deal. The sale will see Managing Director Danny Curran step away from the business he founded 27 years ago, with current deputy MD Simonne Llewllyn stepping up to become Finders International’s first CEO.

    Since launching in 1997, Finders has grown to become the largest genealogy business in the UK with offices in London, Edinburgh, and Cardiff, and has expanded internationally to Dublin, Ireland and Sydney, Australia. It employs more than 130 researchers and support staff and using proprietary built technology has successfully completed more than 10,000 missing beneficiary cases, working with the legal profession, councils, the NHS, and members of the public.

    “Having started Finders International as a sole trader in 1997 and grown the Company to become the force it is today, I feel it’s the right time for me to sell. It has been a privilege to work with amazing people, solve complex cases, reunite estates with rightful heirs, and bring families back together. 

    “I’m leaving the business in really good shape, with a fantastic team in place and plenty of opportunity to expand and develop. With Simonne as CEO, an experienced and accomplished leader, along with the strategic input from Pelican Capital, Finders is positioned well for future growth.”

    said Curran, who appeared on the BBC’s Heir Hunters which ran for 11 series from 2007 to 2018.

    Pelican Capital is a private equity firm founded in 2020. It says it invests in profitable companies that need up to £30m of equity to facilitate ownership change and drive growth, giving management teams access to the benefits of private equity capital ‘with a more personal approach than traditional private equity firms.’  The acquisition is expected to fuel further growth initiatives for Finders International.

    Newly appointed CEO, Simonne Llewellyn, joined Finders more than 20 years ago and has been its Deputy MD for the last 13 years. She has been a driving force within the research and management teams over recent years, and brings her collaborative management style and empowering leadership skills to the position.

    “I am delighted to take up the position of CEO. It is a very exciting time for the business and, with the backing of Pelican Capital, it is an extremely positive move for Finders generally. There are clear opportunities to expand and develop further and I look forward to achieving these alongside the Finders team, our stellar board of directors and the support of Pelican Capital.”

    Richard Morrison, Partner at Pelican Capital adds

    “With our entrepreneurial background, we understand what it means to build a business, so it was clear to us from the beginning that Danny had built something unique. Over the last 27 years, Finders International has grown from a startup into a market leader, and has developed a brilliant reputation amongst its clients. We are excited to partner with Simonne and her team in their ambitious plans to continue this growth, both organically and potentially by acquisition.”

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