Latest News Articles

Everyone can read the (free) Standard Edition articles. However,  the Plus Edition articles are accessible only to (paid) Plus Edition subscribers. 

Read the (+) Plus Edition articles (a Plus Edition username and password is required).

Please limit your comments about the information in the article. If you would like to start a new message, perhaps about a different topic, you are invited to use the Discussion Forum for that purpose.

Do you have comments, questions, corrections or additional information to any of these articles? Before posting your words, you must first sign up for a (FREE) Standard Edition subscription or a (paid) Plus Edition subscription at:

If you do not see a Plus Sign that is labeled "Add comment," you will need to upgrade to either a (FREE) Standard Edition or a (paid) Plus Edition subscription at:

Click here to upgrade to a Plus Edition subscription.

Click here to find the Latest Plus Edition articles(A Plus Edition user name and password is required to view these Plus Edition articles.)

Complete Newsletters (including all Plus Edition and Free Edition articles published within a week) may be found if you click here. (A Plus Edition user name and password is required to view these complete newsletters.)

Do you have an RSS newsreader? You may prefer to use this newsletter's RSS feed at: and then you will need to copy-and-paste that address into your favorite RSS newsreader.

Latest Standard Edition Articles

  • 30 Dec 2020 10:58 AM | Anonymous

    The following is an excerpt from an announcement written by the Texas State Genealogical Society:

    The Texas State Genealogical Society announces a Call for Presentations for their 2021 TxSGS Family History Conference “Connecting Generations.” This event, slated for October 1-2, will be held virtually. Selected presentations will be included in a TxSGS Live! two-day event with live Q&A; other presentations will be recorded for an On-Demand program available for replay for 90 days after TxSGS Live! The deadline for proposals is February 28, 2021.

    The full Call for Presentations may be found at:

  • 30 Dec 2020 10:40 AM | Anonymous

    The following is an excerpt from an announcement written by FamilySearch:

    Investigate on FamilySearch this week 4M new parish and civil registrations for Eure France (1526-1902), plus additional Catholic Church records from Bolivia (1566–1996), the Dominican Republic (1590–1955), Peru (Yauyos-Cañete-Huarochirí, 1665–2018), Puerto Rico (1645–1969), Mexico (Yucatán 1543–1977), Venezuela (1577–1995) and more for US collections (AR, CA, GA, IL, IN, MS, and WA).

    Search these new records and images by clicking on the collection links below, or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.)

    The full announcement is too long to post here. However, you can read the full text at
  • 29 Dec 2020 11:42 AM | Anonymous

    In the 3 Nov 2020 of this newsletter, I published Can You Find the Name and Family of a Nameless Hiker the Internet Can’t Identify? That article is still available at

    The "unknown hiker" has now been identified.

    Mostly Harmless, a man whose emaciated body was found in a tent by day hikers in Florida. Harmless had hiked from New York to Florida and there was food and money in his tent, but no identification. The police were unable to identify him and many people on the internet took up the challenge and tried to find out who he was, all to no avail.

    He has now been identified as Vance Rodriguez, a technology worker originally from Louisiana but in recent years based in Brooklyn, New York. He was identified by several of his (former) personal friends from years ago who had read the story online. A previous DNA test on the body conducted by an outside lab showed that Harmless had Cajun ancestry. All of his (previous) friends confirmed that Rodriguez not only exactly fir the description of thee body but that he had mostly Louisiana Cajun ancestry.

    His cause of death is still unknown, even after the autopsy.

    You can read the latest update in an article by Jason Nark published in the web site at:

  • 29 Dec 2020 11:39 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

    Start out the new year by virtually attending FamilySearch Family History Library Free Online Webinars.  The January 2021 line-up includes sessions on Denmark JurisdictionsArkivDigital Basics (Swedish records), How to use the Swedish National Archive Website (Riksarkivet), Nordic Paleography (Handwriting), How to find people in the Norsk Slektshistorisk Forening (Norwegian Genealogical Society) and beginner sessions on United States Military Records, using the FamilySearch Catalog, and the Research Process. Two sessions for Spanish speakers are Guiando tu educación: Usando el centro de aprendizaje de FamilySearch (Using the FamilySearch Learning Center) and Diferentes Apellidos, Diferentes Ancestros (Different Surnames, Different Ancestors).

    No registration is required for these online webinars. See the table of classes below for more details.

    If you cannot attend a live event, most sessions are recorded and can be viewed later at your convenience at Family History Library classes and webinars

    All class times are in Mountain Standard Time (MST).

    Mon, Jan 4, 10:00 AM MST Using the FamilySearch Catalog (Beginner) Yes
    Tue, Jan 5, 10:00 AM MST Submitting Names for Temple Work (Beginner) Yes
    Sun, Nov 7, 10:00 AM MST The Research Process: An Introduction (Beginner) Yes
    Sat, Jan 9, 9:00 AM MST How to Use the Swedish National Archive Website, Riksarkivet (Beginner) Yes
    Sat, Jan 9, 10:15 AM MST How to Find People in the Norsk Slektshistorisk Forening (The Norwegian Genealogical Society) (Intermediate) Yes
    Sat, Jan 9, 12:30 PM MST Figuring out Denmark Jurisdictions (Beginner) Yes
    Sat, Jan 9, 1:45 PM MST ArkivDigital Basics (Beginner) Yes
    Sat, Jan 9, 3:00 PM MST Nordic Paleography – Understanding Common Abbreviations and Symbols (Intermediate) Yes
    Tue, Jan 12, 11:00 AM MST Guiando tu educación: Usando el centro de aprendizaje de FamilySearch (Beginner) Yes
    Thu, Jan 21, 10:00 AM MST Introduction to United States Military Records (Beginner) Yes
    Tue, Jan 26, 11:00 AM MST Diferentes Apellidos, Diferentes Ancestros (Beginner) Yes

    Visit Classes and Online Webinars for more information.

    About FamilySearch

    FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • 28 Dec 2020 10:36 AM | Anonymous

    MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has released a major new "release of Genetic Groups, a long-awaited enhancement of ethnicity results on MyHeritage DNA. With this very exciting addition, the resolution of MyHeritage’s ethnicity breakdown increases dramatically to 2,114 geographic regions, providing more depth and resolution than any other DNA test available today, and complementing the current 42 top-level ethnicities. This is a huge milestone for MyHeritage and a great step for millions of people fascinated by family history and curious to learn more about their origins."

    The bottom line is that MyHeritage's Genetic Groups can display your family's genetic history in visual images that are much more detailed than anything else I have seen previously.

    To be blunt, I cannot describe the new enhancements properly in words. Instead, I will point you to the announcement in the MyHeritage Blog. It not only describes the differences properly, it also includes numerous images of the Genetic Groups in use.

    A lot more information about MyHeritage's Genetic Groups may be found in the MyHeritage Blog at:

  • 28 Dec 2020 10:30 AM | Anonymous

    Search over 4 million newly added Catholic Church records on FamilySearch this week from Mexico (Hidalgo 1546–1971, Zacatecas 1605–1980, and Campeche 1638–1944), and Germany (Württemberg 1520-1975), plus 4 million more records in the Find-A-Grave Index, and expanded collections for Brazil, DR Congo, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Guatemala, Peru, S. Africa, and the United States (CA, HI, MS, NJ, TX, UT, and WA).

    To search these new records and image, go to Also, to search ALL the available records (more than 8 billion free names and record images), go to

  • 25 Dec 2020 9:19 PM | Anonymous

    Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated the day after Christmas Day, thus being the second day of Christmastide. Though it originated as a holiday to give gifts to the poor, today Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday. It originated in the United Kingdom and is celebrated in a number of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire. Boxing Day is on 26 December, although the attached bank holiday or public holiday may take place either on that day or one or two days later (if necessary to ensure it falls on a weekday).

    A full description of the history of Boxing Day and its modern celebration may be found on Wikipedia at

  • 23 Dec 2020 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    Who are the Melungeons? The answer is not simple. In fact, nobody seems to know exactly.

    Wikipedia states, "Melungeons (/məˈlʌndʒən/ mə-LUN-jən) is a term for numerous 'tri-racial isolate' groups of people of the Southeastern United States. Historically, the Melungeons were associated with settlements in the Cumberland Gap area of central Appalachia, which includes portions of East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and eastern Kentucky. Tri-racial describes populations thought to be of mixed European, African and Native American ancestry. Although there is no consensus on how many such groups exist, estimates range as high as 200."

    A typical Melungeon in Appalachia

    Different claims about Melungeon origins have been made but none seem to be proven. According to an article by Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman preserved in

    "The original definition of Melungeon referred exclusively to one tri-racial group; the descendants of Collins and Gibson and other related families of Newman's Ridge, and the Vardy Valley in Hancock County, Tennessee. Alternate DNA research supports additional ancestries: Semitic , Turkish and Moorish. Some theories speculate that the Melungeons were descended from Spanish or Portuguese explorers, shipwrecked sailors, or even from the "Lost Colonists" of Roanoke Island in Virginia. In the past, self-described Melungeons have referred to themselves as "Indians" or "Portuguese." Most of the white neighbors considered the Melungeons as a mixture of black and Indian, or white, black and Indian."

    Whatever the origins, the Melungeons are a rather large group and many people in Appalachia claim to have Melungeon ancestry. However, when these people start to research their family trees, they usually find roadblocks after going back 100 years or a bit more.

    The same article claims:

    "Melungeons were mainly isolated in the Appalachian mountains of Northeastern Tennessee. The Melungeons found themselves caught in the middle; they were neither white nor black; but they were free. Nevertheless, they suffered discrimination, in varying levels, because of the color of their skin. The hills of Tennessee provided a place for them to live freely without the adverse criticism of the colonies and the plantation owners. It seems as though they could upgrade their status through their appearance and being a good citizen. Many fought in the Civil War on the Union side, a few on the Confederate side and some became slave owners."

    A Melungeon family in the early 20th century

    Even DNA analysis does not prove the origins of the Melungeons. Many DNA tests have been administered and the list of ancestral origins of those tested includes most all of Europe, the Middle East, and many widely dispersed locations in Africa.

    You can learn more about Melungeons in the same article mentioned earlier: Melungeon Genealogy by Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman published at The article also lists many common Melungeon surnames: The obviously Irish name Collins, the English name Gibson, and other names of unknown origins: Powell, LeBon, Bowling, Bunch, Goins, Goodman, Heard, Minor and Mullins.

    You can also find many more articles about Melungeons by searching for the word on your favorite search engine.

    One of my favorite topics is the accents of Melungeons and many others in Appalachia. Is the unique Appalachian dialect the preserved language of Elizabethan England? Left over from Scots-Irish immigrants? Or something else altogether? The accents are not limited to Melungeons. Instead, the speech patters have been found throughout Appalachia.

    Make sure your computer's loudspeakers are working, and then go to The Legendary Language of the Appalachian “Holler” at

    You can also watch many videos about Melungeons on YouTube by starting at:

  • 22 Dec 2020 4:19 PM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This is an update to an article I published several years ago. I have changed hardware since then and have updated my procedures. This article reflects the changes.

    I keep my computers and genealogy material in a small room in our house. I am sure the folks who built the house intended this room to be a child's bedroom, but there are no children in the house, so I have converted it into something I call "our office." I bet many people reading this article have done the same with a spare room in their homes.

    bookscanningI have several computers and a 27-inch wide monitor in this room, along with a VoIP telephone, a high-speed fiber optic Internet connection, a wi-fi router, two printers (inkjet and laser), two high-speed, sheet-fed scanner, an older flatbed scanner, several external hard drives used for making backups, oversized hi-fi speakers connected to the computers, and various other pieces of computer hardware. Luckily, these are all rather small, and advancing technology results in smaller and smaller devices appearing every year. I occasionally replace aging hardware, and the newer devices are almost always smaller than the old ones. However, I have a huge space problem: books and magazines. They don’t seem to be getting any smaller. My older books still take up as much room today as they did years ago.

    "My office" has two bookcases that are each six feet tall and four feet wide, along with two smaller bookcases and a four-drawer filing cabinet. Pam and I share this "office," so we have two desks, each laden with computers and printers. We squeeze a lot into a ten-foot-by-twelve-foot room.

    I don't want to count how many books I have purchased over the years, but I am sure it must be several hundred volumes. I don't want to even think about the bottom-line price. I only have space in my four bookcases to store a tiny fraction of them; the rest are stored in boxes in the basement. Out-of-sight books are books that I rarely use. "Out of sight, out of mind." I probably wasted my money by purchasing all those books as I rarely use most of them. I may have looked at them once, but I rarely go back to them again and again.

    While four bookcases sounds like a lot of storage space, I filled them all years ago with books, magazines, software boxes, and stacks of CD-ROM disks. I don't have room for any new purchases unless I first remove some of the items I already have and move them to boxes in the basement. Nowadays, I have more books and magazines in the basement than I do in the office.

    My newly-purchased books and all the genealogy magazines I receive used to end up being stacked on the floor, on my desk, and in most any other nook or cranny I can find. The place was out of control, and I realized that I needed to find a solution. "I used to have a desk, and I am certain that it is still here... someplace. I think I saw it last year."


    In the past few years, I have learned a few lessons. Since there is no space left for storage, I now prefer to obtain all new magazines in electronic format. Not only are they easier to store, but they are also easier to search.

    I might want to look something up in the future. Of course, my computer can find words inside electronic files much faster than my fingers and eyeballs can find anything in the printed pages of hundreds of magazines. Many times I have said to myself, "I read an article about that a few years ago. Now, where was that article?" A search on a hard drive will find the information within seconds, but a manual search of books stored in boxes in the basement is rarely successful. Depending on the file format used, I can often find specific words or phrases inside a few thousand files within seconds. Try doing that with printed books!

    However, those magazines are the smaller problem. My biggest problem is books, hundreds of them. I cannot afford to go back and repurchase all of the books again in electronic format. What should I do?

    I mulled that question over for quite a while before I realized that there were only two possible solutions:

    1. Get a larger house


    2. Digitize the existing books and all future acquisitions, then get rid of the printed material

    I cannot afford the first solution, so I went with the only option left: digitize the existing books and all future acquisitions. The decision became easier when I purchased my first scanner and then even easier when I purchased a newer scanner: a high speed unit with a built in sheet feeder. I can insert up to 50 unbound pages at a time, press a button, and both sides of each sheet of paper is scanned within 5 minutes.

    I am now in the slow and tedious process of cutting apart every book and magazine that I own and scanning every one of them. I am performing this task on a "time available" basis. I try to scan 50 or more pages a day, but I must admit that I haven't been able to do that every day. In the past year, I have only managed to digitize about twenty books and maybe 100 old magazines. At the rate I am going, the project will take many years to accomplish. However, I feel that I have no choice.

    I expect to retire in a few years, and I don't want to think about "downsizing" by moving into smaller living quarters. If I don't start solving this problem now, I will face a far larger problem within a very few years.

    A few years ago, I moved into a Winnebago motor home full time and lived there for two years. During that time, I learned a lot about downsizing!

    I later sold the motor home and purchased a second home in the sunbelt where I can spend my winters without shoveling snow or worrying about falling on ice and breaking a hip, such as a friend of mine did last winter. Life is great in the sunshine!

    However, this move creates two new problems. The first is a repeat of the problem I mentioned earlier: my winter home is small, and I don’t have room for hundreds of books and magazines. The second problem is an even bigger one, however: there is no way I can duplicate everything on paper and keep duplicate copies in each home!

    Eventually, I decided this is the best solution for my multiple bookshelves and numerous cardboard boxes in the basement:

    The primary reasons that I have not yet been able to scan many books and magazines are: (1.) time required and (2.) my inertia! It seems I can always find something more interesting to do today than cut apart books and scan them.

    The first scanner I purchased is a great device, but it was never designed for speed. It can only scan one side of one page at a time. I need something faster and something that has an input tray that will accept a stack of pages and will scan both sides of each page automatically.

    To address this problem, I went out and purchased a sheet-feed scanner. I can insert up to 50 pages at a time, push a button, and relax for about a minute while the scanner digitizes both sides of every page and then deposits all the pages in an output tray. I check the electronic scan to make sure it worked properly, and then I throw away the paper.


    Yes, I throw away the paper. As a long-time genealogist, I am used to saving every scrap of paper. However, I soon realized that this was no longer necessary when I had a duplicate copy of everything, a copy that is easier to search than paper. Once digitized, almost all the pages go into the trash bin or into the shredder.


    I believe there are no copyright issues involved, even with the newly-published material. I am making copies solely for my personal use and have no plans to ever share any of the newer books and magazines in digital format with anyone else. Current U.S. copyright laws allow for making copies for one's personal use, and I think most other countries have similar provisions. I can legally share electronic copies of out-of-copyright printed books, but anything that still falls under copyright laws will always be used solely for my own personal use.

    The Process

    One trick that I learned recently concerns the many out-of-copyright, reprinted books that I own. Before cutting them apart, I first look on Google Books and at The Internet Archive and then search on Googleh to see if someone else has already scanned a copy of the same book and made it available online. If so, I simply go to the appropriate web site, find the electronic version of the book, click on DOWNLOAD, and save the entire book to my hard drive. Then I simply throw away the printed book that I have. If someone else has already scanned the book, there is no need for me to duplicate the other person's effort!

    So far, about half of the out-of-copyright books that I have checked have been found in The Internet Archive, in Google Books, or in at least one of the other online web sites specializing in out-of-copyright books.

    I must admit that I had emotional difficulties when I first cut the pages out of some of my "valuable" books. That is, those that I felt were valuable, regardless of their actual replacement cost. Cutting pages out of the New England Historic and Genealogical Register or out of that family surname book that I paid $150 to purchase years ago is a gut-wrenching experience. Even tougher is the prospect of throwing the pages out in the trash after they have been scanned. However, I really feel I have no choice: I cannot afford the storage space, especially if I will never look at the printed version again. After all, I can find information faster and easier in the digital (scanned) version.

    The emotions subside after cutting apart the first three or four books.

    I used to try to give away the old books after I had digitized them and saved them on my hard drives with backup copies stored elsewhere. I found several problems, however. Local libraries don't seem to want these cut-apart books;

    1. Most libraries already have space problems of their own and are already throwing away lesser-used books by the hundreds. The last thing they want is more old books, especially if the book is already available in electronic format.
    2. Major genealogy libraries typically don't want the books either as they usually already have copies of the books that I am digitizing.
    3. Almost no libraries and most private individuals don't care for books that have had the pages cut out of the binding.
    4. Many libraries and most individuals will say, "No, thank you, but could I have a copy of the electronic (digitized) copy?"

    I find that recycling these books in the trash is far more effective than trying to find new homes for the unbound copies.

    There are a handful of books that I will never cut apart: the Eastman family Bible printed in 1828, the signed autobiography of Lorenzo Dow (a distant relative of mine) published in 1838, my high school yearbook, and a very few others. However, the remainder of them are being sliced. I don't hesitate to slice reprinted books or magazines. I had an Exacto knife for the purpose but I soon "upgraded" to a paper cutter. I refer to this process as "meeting the guillotine."


    I have converted most of my magazine subscriptions to e-subscriptions. Don’t send me paper! For the few subscriptions that are not available in electronic format, I now read the printed magazine for the first time WHILE I am cutting the pages apart and feeding them into the scanner.

    Which scanner should I use?

    For a while I thought about purchasing a bunch of scanners and evaluating them in a side-by-side comparison article in this newsletter. I soon gave up on that idea because (1.) there are a lot of scanners available, and comparing would be both expensive and time consuming. Also, (2.) it’s already been done!

    If you are thinking about purchasing a new scanner, I would suggest you first look at the many online reviews. I started first with PC Magazine's online reviews several years ago. It seems to be updated every year so the latest edition is The Best Scanners for 2021 and may be found at

    NOTE: Admittedly, I recently ignored the magazine article and purchased a new scanner that has not yet been reviewed: a Raven Plus Pro scanner that scans and digitizes both sides of 60 pages per minute. I suspect it will be reviewed in next year's update of The Best Scanners for 2022.


    Obviously, I also have to make sure these documents are well preserved in their digital format. Can you imagine the emotions if I spent hundreds of hours scanning several hundred old books and then threw the originals away, only to have a hard drive crash?

    In fact, I keep a MINIMUM of four copies: the original copy is kept on the Macintosh's hard drive; a backup copy is kept on an eight-terabyte external hard drive that plugs into the Mac's USB connector; a second backup copy is kept on various USB "jump drives" and a third backup copy is kept on an off-site backup service “in the cloud” on the Internet that automatically backs up any new files or newly-changed files from the Mac's hard drive once every fifteen minutes.

    Right now I am also keeping a fourth copy on my laptop computer and a fifth copy on another computer in my office by using a middle-of-the-night process that automatically copies files across my in-home network.

    Every spring and every fall, before moving to my other seasonal home, I also make backups of everything to another USB hard drive and take the new backups to the computers at the other location. I guess that is a sixth copy. I can even carry my entire digital library, along with a suitcase and a few other things, in my 2-seat sports car when driving north to south or in the other direction.

    no_uhaulIf I was to carry my entire library when it was all in print, I would be renting a large U-Haul van twice a year!

    I am not sure if I will continue with the fourth, fifth, and sixth copies, however. If those disk drives fill up, I might reconsider the process. A "belt and suspenders" approach is a good idea, but I am not sure that I need three belts and three sets of suspenders! I make fourth, fifth, and sixth copies right now simply because I happen to have the disk space available.

    flashdriveThere is an unexpected side benefit: the jump drives (also called flash drives) slip into a pocket and is barely noticeable there. When I go to genealogy conferences, to a library, to a courthouse, or to a cousin's home, I am carrying my digitized library with me. My present 512-gigabyte jump drive has sufficient space to store thousands of books and magazines. Someday I will have my entire library with me in my pocket, although that might require two or three jump drives at today's technology. On the other hand, jump drive capacity is likely to continue growing faster than I can scan old books. If I want to check a book or magazine that is in my home library, I can pull a jump drive out of my pocket, insert it into my laptop or a friend's computer, and check on it quickly. In contrast, can you imagine carrying around an entire library of printed books and magazines?

    If copyright laws allow, I can even provide legal copies of an entire book to a friend by simply clicking and dragging a file onto my friend's computer or by sending it to him or her in e-mail. I can legally do so with the out-of-copyright books that I own.


    Converting one's library to all digital files can be a gut-wrenching task. Admittedly, slicing “valuable” books is an emotional challenge. However, once the available physical storage space is used up, one is left with few choices.

    How do you store your collection of books and magazines? Do you have them all neatly stored on shelves and organized? Can you find what you want quickly? How about future purchases? Where will you put those? Can you carry all of them with you on a trip? And what if you move? There’s a saying that “you can’t take it with you,” but you might be able to keep your printed resources for as long as you need them – and make them much more useful – if you convert them to digital files.

  • 21 Dec 2020 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    This is a quick note to let you know I plan to take this week's holiday weekend off. Don't look for any new articles to be published here from Thursday through Sunday, December 24 though 27.

    I will take this opportunity to wish you and your family an excellent holiday! And I hope you are on Santa's "Nice List."

    - Dick Eastman

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software