Gary Mokotoff, EditorVolume 12, Number 8 | February 27, 2011
Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
Hungarian Archives To Destroy “Immoral Documents of an Immoral Regime"
Bence Rétvári, the Hungarian Parliamentary Secretary of State, has requested legislation to destroy the files of those persons spied upon by the Hungarian government when it was under communist control. He is quoted as saying, “A constitutional state cannot preserve personal information collected through unconstitutional means, because these are the immoral documents of an immoral regime.”
Specifically, the law will allow persons who were spied upon by the former communist regime’s secret police and Ministry of the Interior to remove files produced on their activities from the Historical Archives of Hungarian State Security. It has not been stated what will happen to those files where there is no request, for example, if the person is now deceased.
Sadly, immoral documents are part of every country’s history. The FBI has had a history of keeping track of “questionable” people throughout its existence: socialists, communists, union organizers, and possible Nazi collaborators during World War II. There is even a FBI case file on Martin Luther King.
All these documents provide historical evidence of the acts of previous governments. How extensive were the acts of the Hungarian secret police? Was the evidence inadequate and led to wrong conclusions? What happened to the people for whom there are case files? All this information should be preserved.
There is, of course, the privacy issue. Most governments have a simple solution to that problem. They limit record access for a certain number of years to a period of time when privacy is less of an issue.
A description of the Hungarian issue can be found at http://hungarianarchives.com/the-issues/
Genealogy webinars (web-based seminars) are a popular way to become educated in aspects of family history research. Here are some examples:
Elise Friedman will continue her webinars on DNA and genealogy with six programs in March. Most are associated with the products of Family Tree DNA at http://familytreedna.com.
• Tuesday, March 1 - Genetic Genealogy for Beginners: DNA is the "Gene"
• Tuesday, March 8 - Genetic Genealogy Demystified: Reading and Understanding Your Family Tree DNA Results, Part 1: Y-DNA
• Thursday, March 10 - Starting and Managing a Family Tree DNA Project
• Tuesday, March 15 - Genetic Genealogy Demystified: Reading and Understanding Your Family Tree DNA Results, Part 2: mtDNA
• Tuesday, March 22 - Genetic Genealogy Demystified: Reading and Understanding Your Family Tree DNA Results, Part 3: Family Finder
• Thursday, March 24 - Conquering the Paper Monster [How to organize your genealogy data–Ed.]
Cost is $10 each, except for the free beginner webinar on March 1. Additional information, including registration, can be found at http://www.relativeroots.net/webinars/
Southern California Genealogical Society is offering webinars at no charge. There will be two in March:
• March 5. Social Networking – New Horizons for Genealogists. How social networking is being used by genealogists and family historians of all ages.
• March 16. Tell Me About When You Were a Child. Learn how to prepare, schedule, and conduct an effective family history interview
Previous webinars are archived and available to SCGS members only. Additional information can be found at http://www.scgsgenealogy.com/JamboreeExtensionSeries2011.htm
Ancestry.com has a number of webinars focusing primarily on how to use their products. Monday, February 28, 2011 there is a program on “First Steps #2: Tips for Successful Searches” (on Ancestry.com). March 9, “First Steps #3: Now What? How To Use Your Discoveries To Make Your Next Big Find. Additional information is at http://learn.ancestry.com/LearnMore/Webinars.aspx.
For other webinars, Google the keywords “webinars genealogy.”
Tenth International Conference on Jewish Names
The Tenth International Conference on Jewish Names will be held at Bar-Ilan University in Israel on March 22, 2011. The complete program of lectures and discussions is shown at the Israel Genealogy Society site at http://tinyurl.com/4lddwqn
A sample of the talks include:
• Jewish Names in the Modern World
• The Notion of "Jewish Surnames"
• Sepharad and Exile
• Different Sources of Personal Names
• Names in Eastern and Western Jewish Communities
• Names in Modern Israel
• Jewish Toponyms
NARA Plans Budget Cuts
Those planning to attend the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Washington, DC, this summer may find that the National Archives and Records administration (NARA) is running a leaner operation. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero has issued a statement that he plans to reduce the staff of the NARA’s library facilities in their main building and College Park facility. Additional information can be found at http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2011/nr11-80.html.
Ferriero, in another statement, indicated he will be closing the NARA facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That announcement can be found at http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2011/nr11-82.html. These reductions are in response to across-the-board budget cuts by the U.S. federal government. NARA’s budget is being cut by 8.2%.
Who Do You Think You Are? Renewed for Third Season
Based on viewer interest in just the first two weeks of its second season, the U.S. version of the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? has been renewed for a third season. NBC states the show has had seven million viewers overall in its first two weeks, making it NBC's #1 Friday series so far this season in total viewers. The announcement can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/4ltq938.
Influence of Ancestry.com on the Public’s Perception of Genealogy
We are all aware of the tremendous impact Ancestry.com has had on greater access to the records of our ancestors. But there is another impact the company has had on genealogy: the public’s perception of family history research.
For much of my genealogy career I have had to give a long explanation to people regarding what genealogy is all about. A typical response was something like “Oh, you mean family trees.” I was recently asked by a person what I did as an occupation, and when I said “genealogy publishing,” the response was “Oh, you mean Ancestry.com.”
The great amount of advertising Ancestry.com has done and the show Who Do you Think You Are? has changed the public’s perception of genealogy from a hobby for little old ladies in tennis sneakers to a legitimate pastime for millions of people.
Ancestry.com’s financial results for the year 2010 show the growth of interest in family history research. The company reported that their subscriber base grew by 31% compared to 2009. More significantly, the fourth quarter of 2010 represented more than half of this growth. They expect the number of subscribers to grow to 1.5 million by the end of the first quarter of 2011 and to 1.7 million by the end of this year. The report showed advertising and marketing expense was up 53% compared to 2009.
You can read the complete financial report at http://ir.ancestry.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=552742.
1911 Census of Scotland
The Registrar General for Scotland has announced that the 1911 census will be available at http://www.ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk on April 5, 2011. The images of the original summary books include the name, address, age, occupation, birthplace and marital status of everyone counted in the 1911 census, as well as details about their children. For the first time, the census images will be presented in full color. Additional information can be found at http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/Content/Help/index.aspx?r=546&2066.
The 1911 census for England and Wales is located at http://www.1911census.co.uk/.
Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands located at http://www.joodsmonument.nl/?lang=en is a memorial to more than 100,000 Dutch Jews murdered in the Shoah. Information about each individual includes name, date and place of birth, date and place of death and the address where they lived. In some cases, additional information is provided such as familial relationships. A search engine allows you to search on any of the data fields. There is provision to add additional information about the person.
A description of the website can be found at http://www.joodsmonument.nl/page/274281.
Exactly 200 people took advantage of the discount offer we made last week to purchase Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition at a 70% discount. The books will be in the mail this week. American purchasers can expect to receive the book in 1–2 weeks. Non-American purchasers in 3–4 weeks.
Reminder: American Israelite 1859–1867 DVD at a Discount
February 28 is the last day Nu? What’s New? subscribers can get the DVD, “American Israelite July 1859-June 1867,” at a discount. The DVD provides digital images of the newspaper during that time period with a search engine. The price of the DVD is $120, but Nu? What’s New? subscribers can purchase it for only $99 until February 28. Information is available on the home page at http://www.israeliteonline.com.
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