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  • 17 May 2021 9:45 PM | Anonymous

    I have known Jan Allen for a number of years and must say this award is well-deserved! The following was written by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council:

    "Massachusetts Genealogical Council Awards the Third Annual Shirley M. Barnes Records Access Award to Jan Meisels Allen, Chair of the Public Records Access Monitoring Committee of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and Sponsoring Member of the U.S. Records Preservation and Access Coalition."

    (VIRTUAL: 1:00 PM, May 16, 2021) At the Society Fair of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, the Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) awarded its third annual Shirley M. Barnes Records Access Award to Jan Meisels Allen, the chair of the Public Records Access Monitoring Committee of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. The award is an engraved book clock, a replica of the award presented to Shirley Barnes July 14, 2007, upon her retirement as Civil Records Director of MGC.

    WHO IS JAN MEISELS ALLEN? Since 2003 Jan has been the chairperson of the Public Records Access Monitoring Committee (PRAMC) of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS). She served on the IAJGS Board of Directors from 2004-2013. Since 2004 she represents IAJGS as a sponsoring member on the Records Preservation and Access Coalition (RPAC). In 2015 she was awarded the IAJGS Volunteer of the Year award. In 2013, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) awarded Jan the President’s Citation. In addition to her international and national work, she has served the boards of local Jewish genealogical societies in California. She continues to research her own Polish, Hungarian, and Galician roots. Jan’s work for records access is seen in her frequent Records Access Alerts on behalf of PRAMC. In recent years, Jan’s support of MGC in her letters citing law and precedent have been instrumental in our successes.

    WHO WAS SHIRLEY M. BARNES? A little slip of a woman, frequently donning an inviting smile, and a big "Save Massachusetts Records" button, Shirley M. Barnes was committed to advocating for record preservation and access. Weekly she rode the commuter rail from Concord to Boston to walk the statehouse, visiting with legislators. Her work brought about the 1983 Massachusetts vital records law which mandated the transfer of vital records to the state archives in five-year intervals. After 25 years of dedicated service as MGC's Civil Records Director, Shirley tirelessly stayed on the board, mentoring her successors, until recently, attending meetings became a physical challenge.

    THE SHIRLEY M. BARNES RECORDS ACCESS AWARD: The Massachusetts Genealogical Council, at the annual meeting on February 17, 2019, established an annual award to be given in memory of Shirley M. (Armstrong) Barnes at a luncheon, held in odd years at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference and in even years at the MGC Annual Seminar. The award will recognize people who emulate Shirley's volunteer spirit and whose dedication to records access has made a significant impact for genealogists. See for more information.

    MASSACHUSETTS GENEALOGICAL COUNCIL: The Massachusetts Genealogical Council is an umbrella organization of Massachusetts genealogical and historical societies and libraries. We provide educational seminars and conferences to the members of those organizations. We also monitor legislative and administrative activity that might impact genealogists and historians.

  • 17 May 2021 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    The following article was written by Nancy Battick and originally published in The Piscataquis Observer newspaper and web site. The article is republished here with the kind permission of the author.

    By Nancy Battick

    My husband and I are in the process of renovating parts of our 196-year-old farmhouse. You don’t realize how much you can accumulate until you tackle something like this.  

    Over the years our house has been the repository for various relatives including parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and who knows how many others. Out of loyalty I’ve kept many things I didn’t really like, want or need. After all, they’re family pieces and letting them go is hard. I feel guilty, though the more I shift things out of the house the less guilty I feel. I know family members expected me to keep and treasure their unwanted items forever, but I can’t anymore.

    And then there are my genealogy records. I started genealogy before personal computers and genealogical software existed, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Everyone kept paper records. With the advent of personal computers and genealogical software I dutifully entered the genealogical information and filed the original material as a backup. Then I had so many files I divided them by family surnames. 

    As I acquired more I organized them into binders by individual family members, mainly because the software was limited and you couldn’t scan in a great deal of material. Now it would take the rest of my life to scan everything into my software. Not happening. So I’m faced with a lot of binders, way over a hundred. Each relative has a family group sheet, original records, photos if they exist and so on.  

    Then there are the family physical items, large and small, such as the berry set given to my grandparents when they married in 1905. The set was from my grandmother’s aunt and is the only item of hers anyone in the family has. Pretty but never used, it takes up space in one china cabinet — but if I ever have to seriously downsize what happens to that? What do I give up to keep it? Or the large crayon portraits of my great-grandparents and grand-aunts and uncles? My husband has his mother’s afghan crocheted by her uncle, a Catholic priest. My stepsons won’t want it. What to do with it?

    As genealogists you will probably have to face the same sort of decisions I’m trying to resolve now before I get older and may have to move into smaller space. I certainly don’t want someone else making these decisions for me.     

    Letting go is hard. I’ve sent things out of the house recently and I know Mom, a Depression baby who kept everything, would be appalled, but what else to do? 

    If you’re also facing this kind of task, my advice is don’t throw everything away. Keep what you use, need, or value highly. In my case it’s still too much and I’ll have to wrestle with my conscience but eventually just let things go.  

    We all have to do it no matter how painful it can be. But as for my genealogy, it remains where it is.  

    Nancy Battick is a Dover-Foxcroft native who has researched genealogy for over 30 years. She is past president of the Maine Genealogical Society, author of several genealogical articles and co-transcribed the Vital Records of Dover-Foxcroft. Nancy holds an MA in History from UMaine and lives in Dover-Foxcroft with her husband, Jack, another avid genealogist. You can contact Nancy at

  • 14 May 2021 4:19 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

    WARNING: This article contains personal opinions.

    For decades, the standard method of genealogy research has been to peruse original records as well as compiled genealogies, looking for information about each ancestor, one fact at a time. In modern times, we typically have used IMAGES of the original records published on microfilm and, more recently, images that appear on our computer screens. We then supplement these original records with compiled genealogies from many sources, including printed books, online web sites, and even GEDCOM files online or on CD-ROM disks. Experienced genealogists also understand the importance of VERIFYING each piece of information, regardless of where it was obtained. Yes, even original hand-written records made at the time of an event may contain errors.

    Compiling a genealogy typically requires hundreds or thousands of hours of work, sometimes great expenditures of money, and, when original records have not been easily available locally, additional time and money on travel.

    To be kind, I will simply say that the results have been variable.

    The remainder of this article is reserved for Plus Edition subscribers only. If you have a Plus Edition subscription, you may read the full article at:*)-Plus-Edition-News-Articles/10504599

    If you are not yet a Plus Edition subscriber, you can learn more about such subscriptions and even upgrade to a Plus Edition subscription immediately at

  • 14 May 2021 3:43 PM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by TheGenealogist:

    TheGenealogist is marking the anniversary of the famous Royal Air Force Dambusters raid on the Ruhr Valley dams in May 1943 by releasing a massive tranche of fully searchable RAF Operations Record Books (ORBs) including those ORBs for the famous No 617 Squadron giving an insight into their lives.

    Wing Commander Guy Gibson and his crew boarding their Lancaster bomber

    With a release of 1,550,018 records, bringing the total to 6,748,021 these new diary-like RAF documents paint a picture of the goings on in a squadron on a day-to-day basis for those units under British control.

    These are uniquely fully searchable by:-

      • Forename and Surname

      • Squadron

      • Date Range

    Using keywords users can also search for Service Number, Rank, and Duty, Aircraft type and location where the fields appear in the record. This makes it possible to easily find your Royal Air Force ancestors and discover more about their war time activities on the base and in the air.

    See the usefulness of these contemporary daily diary entries in a short video that spotlights the famous leader of No 617 Squadron, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, V.C., D.F.C. and Bar, D.S.O. and Bar as he and his unit prepare for their mission to drop the bouncing bombs on the German dam targets.

    The Operations Record Books are for squadrons primarily from after the First World War, although there are a few early squadron records from 1911 to 1918. These ORBs follow the daily happenings in the air and on the base, and frequently name the brave aircrew who battled against the odds.

    You can use the collection to follow an airman’s war time experiences from these fully searchable Air Ministry operations record books which cover various Royal Air Force, Dominion and Allied Air Force squadrons that came under British Command. The AIR 27 records allow the family history researcher a fascinating insight into their relatives serving in a number of wartime air force units, as can be seen in the video and article that shines a light on Wing Commander Gibson and his squadron.

      • See the wartime operations of air crew

      • Discover pilots, navigators, radio operators and gunners mentioned in the diaries

      • Find airmen receiving an Honour or a Medal

      • Note the names of squadron members wounded, killed, or who did not return

      • Fully search these National Archives records and images

    Find out more about the AIR27 recordset here:

    This release expands TheGenealogist’s extensive Military records collection for Diamond subscribers.

    To take a deeper look into these records read TheGenealogist’s feature article and see how 617 Squadron recorded the famous Dambuster operation in the ORBs from the time.

    About TheGenealogist

    TheGenealogist is an award-winning online family history website, which puts a wealth of information at the fingertips of family historians. Their approach is to bring hard to use physical records to life online with easy to use interfaces such as their Tithe and newly released Lloyd George Domesday collections.

    TheGenealogist’s innovative SmartSearch technology links records together to help you find your ancestors more easily. TheGenealogist is one of the leading providers of online family history records. Along with the standard Birth, Marriage, Death and Census records, they also have significant collections of Parish and Nonconformist records, PCC Will Records, Irish Records, Military records, Occupations, Newspaper record collections amongst many others.

    TheGenealogist uses the latest technology to help you bring your family history to life. Use TheGenealogist to find your ancestors today!

  • 14 May 2021 7:47 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    Discover remarkable war stories and more with Findmypast’s latest Friday releases. This week’s update includes new and exclusive WW2 service records, updates to Findmypast’s British medal collection, colour photos of thousands of Norfolfk headstones and memorials along with a whole host of new newspapers.

    British Army Service Records

    Search exclusive Scots Guards' service records from the Second World War and beyond. Some documents even include photos.

    Ronald Tillotson from Dewsbury enlisted in 1938. View his full record.

    The records range from a couple of pages to complete service histories documented over many different types of army forms. This is the first time this important collection has been digitised and published online and it's only available at Findmypast.

    Britain, Campaign, Gallantry & Long Service Medals & Awards

    Discover decorated military ancestors in thousands of new medal records. The latest additions cover:

      • Indian General Service Medals 1854-1895, 1908-1935 and 1936-1939
      • China War Medal 1900
      • Second China War Medal 1857-60
      • General Service Medal 1918-1962
      • India Medal 1895-1902

    You can focus your search on any of the above awards by selecting it from the 'Medal type' filter on the search page. The records can reveal important details for tracing someone's military past including service number, rank and regiment.

    Norfolk, Churchyard Graves and Memorials Image Browse

    See if you can spot your Norfolk relatives’ graves or memorials in thousands of unique colour photos.

    Gravestones and memorials can be full of useful family tree information. View this photo in detail.

    Norfolk resident Louise Cocker provided these amazing photos. Louise's mission is to document all of the graves and memorials in her home county and we'll be adding more to the collection over time. Could you take on a similar challenge in your area? Photograph your local cemetery and give the snaps to your local family history society. Genealogists the world over will be forever grateful.


    Six new papers from England, Scotland and Ireland have been published on Findmypast this week along with substantial updates to 17 existing titles. Brand new this week are;

    While coverage has expanded in;

    Make amazing discoveries for less with a 20% discount on all subscriptions

    There is still time to claim a 20% discount on any 1 and 12 month subscription but hurry, offer ends May 15th!

  • 13 May 2021 8:04 PM | Anonymous

    The following book review was written by this newsletter’s Book Review Editor, Bobbi King:

    A Taylor Double Ancestry

    By Arthur Orison Taylor (1923); edited by E.F. Vogt (2021).
    Self-published. 2021. 215 pages.

    It’s a generous person who edits and publishes another author’s work. Particularly when the original manuscript was typed and handwritten nearly a century ago, crafted onto one hundred fifty-eight fragile onionskin papers, spent decades in storage, with an expansive hand-notated diagram that charts twenty-eight generations of ancestors. The chart is reprinted in the back of the book with its meticulous hand lettering and rigorously-drawn connecting lines, truly a family gem of a document.

    The original author of this Taylor genealogy is Arthur Orison Taylor, born in 1858 and died in 1948. He assembled the ancestries of his father’s and his mother’s families, both his parents being born coincidentally with the same surname; hence the title of the book: A Taylor Double Ancestry. The record was safeguarded by his family, passed down to his granddaughter, then to her daughter and husband Lynn Munroe Vogt and Eugene Francis Vogt, who thus became the curators of the family genealogy.

    The Vogts have painstakingly edited through all the material, checked as many sources as they could, and published A Taylor Double Ancestry. The book is divided into two parts: Part I is about the paternal Taylors, and Part II is about the maternal Taylors. The two parts are divided into chapters, with each chapter devoted to one surname. There are fifty-two surname-chapters with descriptive narrative, charts, and reference notes.

    All the book’s content is of the author’s 1923 work, none of the editors’ own, except for the editing and footnoting. So the information reflects work done in 1923, and backwards from that date. The only current information is a genealogy descendant chart for the author, Arthur Orison Taylor, which illustrates his descendants up to today. So you won’t find much information about the Taylors after 1923, but there is plenty to read about for all the generations previous to this time.

    The fruition of the Vogts’ work honors the original author and contributes to an enduring Taylor legacy.

    A Taylor Double Ancestry, written by Arthur Orison Taylor with editing and updates by E.F. Vogt, is available from a number of online book stores. You can find many of them by starting at:

  • 13 May 2021 11:55 AM | Anonymous

    A web site you looked at some time ago may have since been deleted. If you want information from that now-unavailable web page, did you know that you might be able to find the information from an online archive?

    An article by Mark Hill has been published on the Discover Magazine web site that describes the Internet Archive and its subsidiary, the Wayback Machine. It also describes how to use them.

    You might want to read the article now. In addition, I would suggest you bookmark that page so that you can find it in the future anytime you have a need to retrieve data from a no-longer-available web page.

    NOTE: As explained in the article, not all web pages are archived forever. However, millions of pages have already been archived and many more are being added every day.

    You can read all this and more at:

  • 13 May 2021 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    Would you like to hold dual citizenship? Namely in your present country plus another country? (In these turbulent times, that is strongly recommended. See for dozens of articles about legally obtaining multiple passports.) Does your DNA test indicted that you have ancestry from Sierra Leone?

    If so, you will be interested in this announcement from

    WASHINGTON, May 13, 2021 --, the Black-owned pioneers of genetic ancestry tracing for people of African descent, today announced an unprecedented partnership with the Sierra Leone government through the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and its facilitating agency The Monuments and Relics Commission that formalizes a citizenship offering for customers whose ancestry trace to the fifth most peaceful country in Africa.

    On April 29 in State House, Freetown, President and Co-founder Dr. Gina Paige and Sierra Leone Minister of Tourism Madam Memunatu Pratt marked the occasion in a special Agreement Signing, presenting 59 Sierra Leone passports to the inaugural recipients under the new partnership. The Agreement was signed in the presence of Sierra Leone's President His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, who underscored his commitment to the partnership.

    "We welcome you to acquire land, live in our communities, invest, build capacity and take advantage of business opportunities," said President Bio during the citizenship conferment ceremony.

    From Your DNA to Your Passport's Partnership Director and an architect of Ghana's Year of Return Diallo Sumbry worked closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs to foster the relationship and establish core guidelines for the now official program. The first step is to obtain an authentic Certificate of Ancestry featuring a special Seal validating Sierra Leone ancestry. With a second trip to the country scheduled for this fall as part of the Family Reunion trips, people interested in getting started can submit a request at

    "This partnership is perhaps the most significant milestone for African Ancestry since we created a way for Black people to trace their African roots using DNA 18 years ago," said Dr. Gina Paige. "It has transformed the total experience of what it is to be an customer," said Paige. looks to expand the program to the more than 30 countries in Africa where they trace ancestry in the coming years. Visit for more information.

  • 12 May 2021 2:44 PM | Anonymous

    What killed grandma?

    If you find a death certificate for great-great-grandma and it lists the cause of death as "Hectical Complaint," you probably will ask, "What's that?"

    Yes, I had to look that up. Luckily, there is a one-page "dictionary" on USGenNet that can be a very useful tool for any genealogist who is reading old documents. It shows old medical terminology and then shows the modern-day name for each.

    You can find Old Disease Names Frequently found on Death Certificates at

    My thanks to Pierre Clouthier of Progeny Genealogy Inc. for pointing to that page.

  • 12 May 2021 12:24 PM | Anonymous

    This is an extract from an article by Lisa Kanarek:

    Our elders have rich stories to share. There’s no better time than now to sit down and hit Record.

    Getting Started

    First, don’t assume that your subject will agree to be interviewed. Last year I asked my mom to let me record her life story. Her response? “No. I don’t have anything to say.” It turns out that her attitude is common.

    There are times when you find someone who says, ‘No one wants to hear my story,’” says Kate Carter, founder and CEO of LifeChronicles, a nonprofit that records life stories of seniors and seriously ill patients. She suggests telling a loved one, “This would mean so much to me and to future generations of our family.” By making it about the family, it takes the pressure off the person being asked to share their memories.

    There is much, much more in the article. You can read the entire article at:

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