13    Nov 20110 comments

Genealogy News: North America – 13 November 2011

This week’s edition includes an archaeological find, more on a new book, NARA’s citizen archivist dashboard,  Canada’s Veterans’ Week, a Canadian newspaper digitization project, new FamilySearch records and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s new website.

Follow the links for each item to find more information and read the complete articles.


-- In the US, Veterans Day was observed on November 11, and there is a MyHeritage Blog post devoted to this important day.

-- In Canada, Veterans’ Week was observed November 5-11.  For full coverage of this remembrance week, see the Genealogy Canada blog, authored by Elizabeth LaPointe. She has done a masterful job of spotlighting organizations, institutions and websites connected to veterans in a series of posts. If you have Canadian family that served, her resources may assist you to find information.

Canadian Veterans Week will remember those Canadians who are, and have been, members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Veterans Affairs Canada, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/veterans-week, is asking us to "Make remembrance more than something you feel. Make it something you do".


In December, the National Archives and Records Administration plans to launch the online Citizen Archivist Dashboard. Volunteers will be able to tag, transcribe and write articles about scanned NARA documents.

An initial 300 documents will be posted for transcription and coded by color to indicate length and difficulty in deciphering handwriting. Volunteers will also be able to tag words and images, making the document easily searchable. Learn more at the link above.


Author Eviatar Zerubavel ("Ancestors & Relatives: Genealogy, Identity & Community," Oxford University Press, 2011) has posted an edited excerpt of his new book on Salon.com, titled "Why do we care about our ancestors?" It claims that our interest and "obsession" with ancestry, transforms our concept of identity.

Such deep obsession with ancestry (“progonoplexia”) is by no means a distinctly modern fad. Indeed, it goes back thousands of years to Hesiod’s Theogony and the Bible. Nor is it a peculiarly Western phenomenon, as evident from various forms of ancestor worship all over the world. Traditionally aristocratic, however, it is nevertheless becoming increasingly democratized. Over the past several decades, the range of Americans exhibiting interest in genealogy, for example, has clearly expanded “from those claiming descent from the Mayflower or from Southern aristocrats, to include the descendants of African slaves and immigrants.” Our current fascination with genealogy has also been getting a tremendous boost from the growing popularity of genetic ancestry testing.”

The book is on my wish list!


History - and genealogy - is supported by archaeology, confirming that certain peoples were in specific areas. Fascinating 16th-century Spanish artifacts found under a Native American village in the state of Georgia suggests that an expedition led by conquistador Hernando de Soto reached the area. The find could change the map of his march (1539-41) into North America.

Organized by the Fernbank Museum of Natural History (Atlanta, Georgia), the expedition found glass beads, iron tools, brass and silver ornaments from the mid-1500s.

According to independent archaeologist and project leader Dennis Blanton: "For an Indian in the South 500 years ago, things like glass beads and iron tools might as well have been iPhones.”


This week, 6 million records from 20 countries and many US states (another 2 million records) have been posted at FamilySearch. If you are searching family in Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Engand, Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, Phiippines and the US (California, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), take a look. Record types include birth, marriage, state and territorial censuses and tax records, Canadian vital records,military, religious, probate, houses of worship and more. Sign up for updates via email so you won’t miss announcements of interest.


Earlier this month, the NY Genealogical and Biographical Society launched its new website. Among new features (most available only to members): All eLibrary collections can now be browsed and readers may print multiple pages. The site contains unique records and digital publications, as well as newly created guides to using resources, and 13 of a projected 62 guides to research in the state’s counties.

The collection is searchable by every word and the search engine is based on a index to more than 1 million names from The Record. Full digital access is available only to members, but some features are available to non-members. Click the link above for more information.


More than 45,000 newspaper pages revealing British Columbia (Canada) history – from 1865-1924 - are now available online at the British Columbia Historical Newspapers Project.

The University of British Columbia project, led by the UBC Library’s Digital Initiatives unit, features digitized versions of 24 historical province papers. View, search and browse them - for free - here. Download single pages or entire issues.

The UBC Library has 21 branches and divisions, and is the largest library in British Columbia. Its collections include more than 6 million volumes, nearly 551,000 e-books, more than 846,000 maps, audio, video and graphic materials, and more than 97,000 serial titles.

Do tell us if you have used these resources. What have you discovered? Tell us via comments below and share your experiences.

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