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Darned Undertaking

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable. Records say the darnedest things!

Kenneth H. Rich was the undertaker. He was also the decedent. Weird.

Kenneth H. Rich of Kokomo, Indiana was his own undertaker.

After 30 years as an undertaker, Kenneth retired just 7 weeks before his doctor started treating him for interstitial nephritis. Less than 6 weeks later, Kenneth was gone. His son, Robert, took over the family business. Six years after his father’s passing, Robert had his first born son. He named him Kenneth.

Reader Naomi Martineau shared this record with me. Thanks, Naomi!

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“Roots Less Traveled”, a new television series co-produced by Ancestry® to debut on NBC April 4

We’re excited to announce we have a new television show debuting on NBC which features real people and their personal discoveries! From the comfort of your own couch, you can tag along each week as Roots Less Traveled follows a pair of family members​ who bond over their joint quest to learn more about their Read More

The post “Roots Less Traveled”, a new television series co-produced by Ancestry® to debut on NBC April 4 appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

Monday Genea-Pourri – Week Ending 25 May 2020

Here are the highlights of my family history and genealogy related activities over the past week:

1)  Moderated and hosted the Chula Vista Genealogical Society DNA Interest Group meeting on Wednesday, 20 May in a Zoom meeting, with 12 in attendance.  I discussed the new AncestryDNA Tree icons and the changed DNA Match screen with a ThruLine; the MyHeritageDNA Theory of Family Relativity update, along with how I write Notes and use the chromosome browser; the CeCe Moore TV show on 26 May; ethnicity estimates and communicating with AncestryDNA matches.  In the second hour, the attendees discussed their challenges and successes.

2)  Participated in the San Diego Genelaogical Society DNA Interest Group Zoom meeting on Saturday, 23 May.  Colin made two presentations – an Overview of recent DNA features, and on GEDmatch.
3)  Participated in today’s Mondays With Myrt on Zoom.  We learned how to set up the Closed Captioning using Streamer and tested it out.  

4)  Watched the Family Tree Webinar Fridays in May: Your Questions Answered LIVE—More DNA with Diahan” by Diahan Southard.

5)  Wrote and posted a biographical sketch of 7th great-grandfather #542 George Stearns  (1688-1760) for my 52 Ancestors biographical sketch on Friday.  

6)  Transcribed the 1783 Will of Nathan Brigham (1693-1784) of Southborough, Mass. for Amanuensis Monday.  

7)  Continued sorting out the Seaver families in Philadelphia in the 1850-1900 time frame.  Wrote a series of blog posts about some of them.  Added events and sources to many of them with Ancestry Hints.

8)  Added Notes to about 26 more AncestryDNA matches with cM values, relationships and known common ancestors.  Added one AncestryDNA ThruLine to the RootsMagic family tree database.  Reviewed new DNA matches on AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA, FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe.  

9) There were several sessions working in the RootsMagic software program to match with and update FamilySearch Family Tree profiles for Seaver families and my ancestral families, with occasional additions to the RootsMagic profiles. I have matched 35,807 of my RootsMagic persons with FamilySearch Family Tree profiles (up 134).

10)  Used Web Hints and Record Matches from Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast and FamilySearch to add content and sources to my RootsMagic profiles.  I now have 57,656 persons in my RootsMagic file (up 148) , and 121,180 source citations (up 579).   I TreeShared with my Ancestry Member Tree two times this week updating 341 profiles, and I resolved 881 Ancestry Hints.  I’ve fallen behind on the Ancestry Record Hints with 131,309 to be resolved, but I work on them almost daily.    

11)  Updated my presentation on “Using Collaborative ‘BIG’ Family Trees” for the CVGS program on Wednesday in a Zoom meeting.

12)  Wrote 20 Genea-Musings blog posts last week, of which two were a press release.  The most popular post last week was Did Sarah Giberson Marry Two Seaver Men? – Part I with over 458 views.  

13)  We are still fine here at the Genea-cave, hunkered down and not going out much.  I went to the grocery store on Tuesday and Friday and it wasn’t too busy.  I picked some weeds and am still thinking about mowing the back yard again.  I pushed Linda in the wheelchair up and down the block on Sunday.We watched the church choir and pastor’s sermon on YouTube on Sunday.  Other than that, it was stay-at-home on the computer doing genealogy, eating and sleeping, plus reading ebooks on my laptop while watching TV.


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Arming America: How “the Controversy Arose”

As I described yesterday, in 2002 Emory University asked three outside scholars to investigate charges of “failures of scholarly care and integrity” against Michael Bellesiles, author of Arming America.

Those scholars were academic heavyweights: Stanley N. Katz of Princeton, Hanna H. Gray of the University of Chicago, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich of Harvard. They had the assistance of a graduate student who visited archives in Massachusetts, checked other sources, and reran calculations.

That committee filed their report (P.D.F. download) in July. Emory University released it in October. On the same day, Bellesiles resigned.

In his interview last year with Daniel Gullotta for the Age of Jackson podcast, Bellesiles made some comments about that report and other criticism of his book. I decided to assess those remarks against the historical record.

Bellesiles told Gullotta:

The controversy arose because seventeen years ago, there was a flood in Bowden Hall at Emory University in Atlanta, which severely damaged the offices of numerous professors in the history and philosophy departments, including mine. Most of the original notes for my book Arming America were destroyed in that flood. And within days, opponents of the book picked up on this loss to argue that I had never conducted the research supporting three paragraphs in the book that concern probate records.

The sprinkler-pipe flood happened in April 2000, nineteen (not seventeen) years before this conversation. Arming America was published in early September 2000, so “opponents of the book” couldn’t have responded to the flood “within days” because the book didn’t yet exist. But of course we may not recall exact details of a difficult time.

Here’s the sequence of events as best I can recreate it. Bellesiles published a paper on gun ownership in early America in the Journal of American History in 1996. Its evidence included travel accounts and probate inventories. Clayton E. Cramer, a graduate student with whom Bellesiles had corresponded about gun laws, then wrote to the journal listing other travel accounts that contradicted the paper’s findings. Bellesiles replied by dismissing Cramer’s criticism as politically motivated.

Meanwhile, Bellesiles had agreed with the Knopf division of Random House to publish what became Arming America. The July 1999 Economist reported on the upcoming book. In December, Charlton Heston, president of the National Rifle Association, sniped at Bellesiles’s work. The editing and production process on the book must have also begun in 1999. That sprinkler pipe burst in April 2000, making news only in the Emory community. In that same month, the New York Times reported on Bellesiles’s intriguing conclusions.

Arming America was officially published in September 2000, receiving prominent and mostly positive reviews in the mainstream press. As early as 30 August, Prof. James Lindgren of Northwestern University wrote to Bellesiles with questions about his research since he’d been working on the same questions using probate inventories. On 19 September, Bellesiles sent Lindgren an email saying, among other things, that the office flood had destroyed his notes. That appears to have been the first link between the burst pipe and the probate data, and it came from Bellesiles himself. (Subsequently, the Emory committee found, Bellesiles made a “disavowal” of some other statements in those 30 August and 19 September emails to Lindgren.)

The first public mention of that flood’s effect on the debate that I’ve found was a draft of Lindgren and Justin Lee Heather’s essay “Counting Guns in Early America” dated 28 December. Some critics of the book were indeed skeptical of Bellesiles’s explanation about the loss of his probate data—some had to be convinced there even was an office flood. But Lindgren and others accepted, if only for argument, that Bellesiles had indeed counted probate records on yellow pads as he described and included that in their analyses of his work. That was sloppy technique and the numbers still didn’t add up, they said.

But that aspect of the book wasn’t where the “controversy arose” first. Cramer had objected to Bellesiles’s conclusions back in 1997. After the book appeared, Cramer expanded on his criticism, finding more omitted and distorted sources. As a software engineer, he used his expertise with computers to set up webpages sharing those findings. Unfortunately for the appearance of political leanings, Cramer located his pages within the website of the Golden Gate United National Rifle Association, making it easy for Bellesiles and his defenders to dismiss the complaints.

Cramer, as a graduate student in California, didn’t have the resources to try to replicate most of Bellesiles’s probate research in the east. But he found plenty of other details in Arming America to criticize. Lindgren and his team had already worked in some of those probate archives, so they could analyze what data Bellesiles reported and find discrepancies. Eventually formal reviews in scholarly journals voiced more doubts, though most didn’t appear until late 2001 or 2002, after Arming America had received the Bancroft Prize.

I’ve always been struck by how Lindgren’s critique carried much more weight than Cramer’s. According to Bellesiles in his interview with Gullotta:

Now, I think the reason they picked on the probate records is because those are the most obscure of all the materials I use, that pretty much require you to go to the individual archives in order to examine them. It’s not something that could easily be verified by going to a good research university library.

Except that Cramer found a lot wrong with Arming America by “going to a good research university library.” Bellesiles’s ongoing emphasis on the book’s small section about probate inventories gives the false impression that no one had found other problems with the book.

There are better explanations of why Lindgren’s criticism got more traction within the academic world than Cramer’s. Lindgren was a professor at Northwestern. Cramer was a graduate student at Sonoma State University. Lindgren wasn’t a proponent of gun ownership in contemporary America while Cramer was. Lindgren’s argument rested mostly (but not wholly) on numbers. Cramer’s critique was largely about words, which can seem more open to interpretation. But isn’t quoting words out of context just as inaccurate as reporting a false count of wills?

Whatever the reason, we can see that Emory University gave more weight to the Lindgren critique. All five of the questions it tasked the outside committee with examining involved “probate records” of some sort. Furthermore, the committee noted that its mandate covered “ONLY” those questions. (In Appendix B, Part 3, the research assistant did address discrepancies with travel narratives that Lindgren had noted, but disagreed with parts of his assessment.)

TOMORROW: Bellesiles’s comments on the committee’s conclusions.

Long Live the 25th March, 1821

New Free Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of 18 May 2020

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch added 7 million new land, obituary, death, and divorce records this week to United States collections. Additional indexed records and images were added for American Samoa, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Niue, Peru,Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sweden, and Venezuela. Other United States records were added for AZ, CA, GA, IA, ID, LA, ME, MI, MO, MT, NC, NE, NM, NY, OKOH, ORPA, UT, VAand WI. 

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.

Country Collection Indexed Records Digital Images Comments
American Samoa American Samoa, Vital Records, 1850-1930 1,587 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection (Some Restrictions Apply)
Argentina Argentina, Santa Fe, Catholic Church Records, 1634-1975 4,163 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Austria Austria, Vienna, Jewish Registers of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1784-1911 27,317 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Brazil Brazil, Bahia, Civil Registration, 1877-1976 216 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Brazil Brazil, Minas Gerais, Civil Registration, 1879-1949 3,341 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Brazil Brazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-1999 6,447 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Canada Canada, New Brunswick, County Register of Births, 1801-1920 3,805 0 New indexed records collection
Canada Nova Scotia Deaths, 1864-1877 44 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Chile Chile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-1928 8,575 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Chile Chile, Cemetery Records, 1821-2015 87,220 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Miscellaneous Records, 1921-1980 43,564 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
England England, Derbyshire, Church of England Parish Registers, 1537-1918 23,084 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
England England, Devon, Plymouth Prison Records, 1821-1919 13,495 0 New indexed records collection
England England, Essex Parish Registers, 1538-1997 2,540 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
England England, Gloucestershire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1642-1996 32,012 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection (Some Restrictions Apply)
England England, Northumberland Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1920 50,490 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
England England, Yorkshire Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1613-1887 15,961 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Germany Germany, Baden, Church Book Duplicates, 1804-1877 43,378 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Germany Germany, Saxony, Church Book Indexes, 1500-1900 32,709 0 New indexed records collection
Ireland Ireland, John Watson Stewart, The Gentlemen’s and Citizen’s Almanac, 1814 17,266 0 New indexed records collection
Italy Italy, Benevento, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1810-1942 155,594 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Italy Italy, Brescia, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1797-1943 78,275 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Italy Italy, Salerno, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1806-1949 32,447 31,969 Added images and indexed records to an existing collection
Niue Niue, Vital Records, 1818-1994 6,939 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Norway Norway, Oslo, Akershus Prison Records, 1844-1885 808 0 New indexed records collection
Peru Peru, Ayacucho, Civil Registration, 1903-1999 21,552 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Peru Peru, Diocese of Huacho, Catholic Church Records, 1560-1952 260,438 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Peru Peru, Huánuco, Civil Registration, 1888-1998 43,196 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Peru Peru, Municipal Census, 1831-1866 2,188 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Peru Peru, Piura, Civil Registration, 1874-1996 878 0 New indexed records collection
Peru Peru, Prelature of Yauyos-Cañete-Huarochirí, Catholic Church Records, 1665-2018 8,842 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1805-2001 2,202 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
South Africa South Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801-2004 3,530 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
South Africa South Africa, Civil Death Registration, 1955-1966 11,402 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
South Africa South Africa, Civil Marriage Records, 1840-1973 25,065 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
South Africa South Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Vital Records, 1868-1976 1,668 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
South Africa South Africa, Natal Province, Civil Deaths, 1863-1955 6,505 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Sweden Sweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records, 1546-1927 62,560 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Arizona Deaths, 1870-1951 10,345 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Arizona, Birth Certificates and Indexes, 1855-1930 12,687 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994 31,236 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States California, Geographical and Name Index of Californians who served in WWI, 1914-1918 27,306 0 New indexed records collection
United States California, Los Angeles, Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery/Crematory Records, 1884-2002 2,114 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States California, Los Angeles, San Gabriel Cemetery Association, Cemetery Index 1872-2003 162 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States California, San Mateo County, Colma, Italian Cemetery Records, 1899-2011 24,576 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1961 35 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Florida, Fort Lauderdale Crew Lists, 1939-1945 13 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Florida, Pensacola, Passenger Lists, 1900-1945 845 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Georgia, Chatham, Savannah, Laurel Grove Cemetery Record Keeper’s Book (colored), 1852-1942 631 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Georgia, Columbus, Linwood and Porterdale Colored Cemeteries, Interment Records, 1866-2000 2,564 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Hawaii, Hawaiian Islands Newspaper Obituaries, 1900-ca.2010 243 0 New indexed records collection
United States Idaho, Jefferson Star, County Cemetery Records, 1800-2000 79,733 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Iowa, Buchanan County Obituaries and Cemetery Records, ca.1796-1988 47,028 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Louisiana, Orleans Parish Death Records and Certificates, 1835-1954 43,485 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Maine, Alien Arrivals, 1906-1953 199,010 0 New indexed records collection
United States Michigan, Detroit Manifests of Arrivals at the Port of Detroit, 1906-1954 323,121 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Michigan, Saginaw County, Biographical Card File, ca. 1830-2000 1,895 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Minnesota, Hennepin County, Minneapolis, Layman Cemetery Burial Records, 1860-1926 418 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Mississippi, County Marriages, 1858-1979 22,553 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Missouri State and Territorial Census Records, 1732-1933 34,501 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Montana, Silver Bow County, Cemetery Indexes, 1880-2003 5,954 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Nebraska, Lancaster County, Wyuka Cemetery Burial Permits, 1883-1999 1,754 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States New Jersey, Mercer County, Veteran’s Service Office, Grave Registration Records, ca. 1770-ca.1979 92 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States New Mexico Alien Arrivals, 1917-1954 17,240 0 New indexed records collection
United States New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946 103,000 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States North Carolina, Center for Health Statistics, Vital Records Unit, County Birth Records, 1913-1922 20,874 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States North Carolina, Wilmington, Cemetery Records, 1852-2005 5,836 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Ohio, Toledo, Historic Woodlawn Cemetery Index of Burials, 1877-1955 43,409 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Oklahoma, Tulsa County, Rose Hill Memorial Park Interment Records, ca.1915 – ca.1982 1,204 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Oregon Death Index, 1971-2008 1,063,054 0 New indexed records collection
United States Oregon Divorce Index, 1991-2008 340,289 0 New indexed records collection
United States Pennsylvania Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880 1,205 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Rhode Island, Providence County, Providence, Swan Point Cemetery Records, ca.1846-ca.1950 701 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Texas, Grimes County, Marriage Records, 1951-1966 218 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States United States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-2011 1,827,447 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975 3,868,777 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Utah, Brigham City Family History Center, Obituary Collection, 1930-2015 10,622 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Virginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics, County Marriage Registers, 1853-1935 5,258 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Holy Cross Cemetery, Interment Records, 1909-1979 12,887 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Venezuela Venezuela, Archdiocese of Valencia, Catholic Church Records, 1760, 1905-2013 306,392 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
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.

Monday Mailbox: Browsing Ancestry Database Images

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

The database “Pennsylvania Wills and Probate Records 1683-1993,” offers the subscriber a “Browse this collection” window which works perfectly for all Pennsylvania counties except for Philadelphia County. The list of available images for Philadelphia County never shows up anymore—it did when the database was first launched. Perhaps because it is such a huge amount of data, it cannot load properly. Because the list of digitized probate files for Philadelphia County can only be accessed by clicking on a link from this “Browse” function (administrations, etc), it is now not possible to access those files since there is no dropdown menu.

If you know someone at Ancestry who could correct this, I know many researchers would be grateful.

With thanks,

Sandi Hewlett

Dear Sandi,

I’ll see what I can do.

In the meantime, there is a workaround. There are two ways to access the browse capability of an Ancestry collection. One is the browse you have identified on the collection page. The other is accessed via the breadcrumb path at the top of the page, underneath the title when viewing an image. If you can find a way to see any image, then you can browse to any other image. You can get to an image via browsing one of the other counties that works, or by searching for a common name. Or do this:

1. Start at

2. Underneath the collection title at the top of the page, click on “Administration Files, 1764.”

3. Select from the available options.


—The Ancestry Insider

Series Premiere Airdate Change: ABC News Presents New Prime-Time Series “The Genetic Detective”

I wrote about this new television series about a month ago at However, there has been a change announced since then. Originally slated for a May 19 launch, the series will now roll out on Tuesday, June 2.

The following is a new press release written by ABC News:


CeCe Moore

Investigative Genetic Genealogist CeCe Moore Helps Police Uncover a Criminal Suspect’s Identity Through Crime Scene DNA, Research and Revolutionary Technology

Moore Takes on Her First-Ever Cold Case – the Double Homicide of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg – in Series Premiere, Tuesday, May 26 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC [Update: now rescheduled to June 2.]

ABC News presents a new prime-time series, “The Genetic Detective,” that follows investigative genetic genealogist CeCe Moore and her work with DNA technology company Parabon NanoLabs. In the series, Moore and her team are revolutionizing crime solving by working with police departments and accessible crime scene DNA to help trace the path of a criminal suspect’s family tree, uncover their identity and bring them to justice. “The Genetic Detective” premieres Tuesday, May 26 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. [Update: now rescheduled to June 2.]

For the past decade, Moore, a self-trained genetic genealogist, has pioneered genetic genealogy techniques utilizing a growing body of genetic data in conjunction with traditional genealogical records to help adoptees find their birth parents and to solve family mysteries. Since 2018, Moore has used her unique research skills to transform the face of crime solving, helping to identify more than 100 violent criminal suspects.

“I had a growing passion for genetic genealogy and I recognized its power very early on. Yet at the time, in 2010, there was no such thing as a professional genetic genealogist so I had to blaze my own trail in order to make this my full-time career,” said Moore. “I knew the potential these techniques had for solving mysteries – really, for any type of human identification. Whether it is an adoptee looking to find their birth parents or helping law enforcement track down a potential suspect, this process provides answers in a new way and helps a family move beyond something that’s painful or has been burdening them.”

In the series premiere titled “The Case of the Missing Lovebirds,” Moore works with Seattle’s Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and takes on her first-ever cold case as a genetic genealogist – the double homicide of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg. The young couple disappeared in 1987 after taking a ferry from Vancouver to Seattle and were later found miles apart, gagged, bound and brutally murdered. With a smattering of clues, but no real leads, the case was cold for 30 years. The episode includes interviews with Jay’s parents, Gordon and Leona Cook; Tanya’s brother, John Van Cuylenborg; Snohomish County law enforcement retired Sheriff Rick Bart and Detective Jim Scharf; and radio reporter Hanna Scott.

“The Genetic Detective” will also examine the murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley with Indiana’s Fort Wayne Police Department; the double homicide of mother and daughter Sherri and Megan Scherer with the New Madrid County Sheriff’s Department in Missouri as well as the murder of Genevieve Zitricki with the Greenville Police Department in South Carolina; the 1996 murder of Angie Dodge with Idaho Falls Police Department in Idaho; the Ramsey Street Rapist with North Carolina’s Fayetteville Police Department; and the 2018 rape of 79-year-old Carla Brooks with Utah’s St. George Police Department.

“The Genetic Detective” is a co-production with ABC News and XCON Productions. Carrie Cook and Marc Dorian serve as co-executive producers for ABC News. Christine Connor is executive producer, and Christopher K. Dillon is co-executive producer for XCON Productions. CeCe Moore is producer.



“Hunt for the Runaway Killer” – Investigative genetic genealogist CeCe Moore works with the New Madrid County Sheriff’s Department on the 1998 murder of Sherri and Megan Scherer, a mother and daughter from New Madrid, Missouri. As the investigation takes Moore and detectives on a series of unexpected detours across the country, they uncover the identity of a previously unknown serial killer and Moore ends up meeting with the killer’s daughter. The episode features interviews with Steven Scherer, son and brother to the victims; law enforcement from New Madrid and Greenville, South Carolina, and Memphis, Tennessee; the killer’s daughter Deborah Brashers-Claunch; DNA expert Ruth Montgomery; and TV reporter Kathy Sweeney. A new episode of “The Genetic Detective” premieres TUESDAY, JUNE 2 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC.

“The Genetic Detective” is a co-production with ABC News and XCON Productions. Carrie Cook and Marc Dorian serve as co-executive producers for ABC News. Christine Connor is executive producer, and Christopher K. Dillon is co-executive producer for XCON Productions. CeCe Moore is producer.

A note from Ancestry’s CEO

To our community, As the global effect of COVID-19 continues to evolve, Ancestry is committed to the health and safety of our employees and members and serving our community. Our hearts go out to anyone in our worldwide family who may be affected by COVID-19.  I believe it’s important that we approach this time of Read More

The post A note from Ancestry’s CEO appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

Wednesday CoronaBuzz, May 13, 2020: 35 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Apologies. Family stuff. Also I’m really tired. Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. Please be careful. I love you.


From HAW Hamburg and a press release translated from German to English: COVID-19: HAW Hamburg coordinates database with therapy literature. “In order to provide medical personnel with information on the latest literature on the subject of COVID-19, HAW Hamburg has launched the project “COVID-19 Scientific Research Database on Treatment Options” (COVID-TREAT). As part of the project, scientific literature on the treatment of COVID-19 is collected and made available online. Almost 30 universities and research centers have so far joined the concept.” When I went to the landing page of the database, it was in English.


GlobeNewswire: JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles Launches Virtual Programming Featuring Their Most Popular Series on Manga Art, Food, Film & Flower Arranging (PRESS RELEASE). “JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, the premier Japanese cultural destination in the heart of Hollywood, is launching a virtual program featuring their most popular education and entertainment workshops, including expanded content, to enjoy at home during its temporary closure.” Cooking, Manga, flower arranging…

Wanted in Rome: Rome: Keats-Shelley House launches digital archive. “The Keats-Shelley House Museum and Library in Rome has launched its new digital collections of manuscripts and art celebrating the lives and works of the Romantic poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The launch of the museum’s new website and online collection coincides with the start of Keats-Shelley 200, a three-year programme of events, exhibitions and activities in the UK and Italy in celebration of the poets’ extraordinary works.”

New Jersey Family: We’re Giving You Exclusive Access to A New COVID-19 Book for Kids. “Stories have always been an important teaching tool for our kids. When it comes to explaining COVID-19 to children, we could use more resources. Thanks to a grant from Northwestern University, teachers can download a free copy of The Class That Can: Coronavirus by Riya Jain and JJ Vulopas. The book features the ‘Class That Can,’ a group of third graders who are remotely learning during the novel coronavirus. The class is excited to learn from their teacher, Mrs. Can, and her friends Kenneth Fox, MD and Ruchi Gupta, MD, both of whom are real-life pediatricians.” It looks like all you need to do is submit your name and email address BUT I cannot find any privacy policy beyond the statement, “We respect your privacy,” which, um, yeah.

Texas Education Agency: TEA Offers Free Tool to Parents and Schools to Diagnose How Much Their Students Learned This Year and To Help Educators Plan for the “COVID Slide”. ” To further support student learning and an understanding of student progress even as students are educated from home for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, TEA has launched free, optional end-of-year (EOY) assessments that school systems and parents can choose to administer. This optional test does not take the place of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), which Governor Greg Abbott cancelled this year due to COVID-19. The optional EOY assessment gives parents and educators access to a powerful tool that shows what their students have learned and where they can improve their knowledge and understanding of key subject matter heading into the 2020-21 academic year.”


USPTO: USPTO launches platform to facilitate connections between patent holders and potential licensees in key technologies. “The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today unveiled a new web-based intellectual property (IP) marketplace platform, Patents 4 Partnerships, to provide the public with a user-friendly, searchable repository of patents and published patent applications related to the COVID-19 pandemic that are indicated as available for licensing.”


Hong Kong Tatler: Maskne Is Real: Face Mask Breakouts And How To Prevent Them. “Tatler reached out to top dermatologists to get their professional tips on how to prevent and treat ‘maskne’—redness, irritation and acne caused by face masks. Turns out, derms knew exactly what we were talking about, first hand—because most of them wear face masks all day long. Here’s what we learned.”

Refinery29: All The Virtual Graduations Happening This Month — & How To Watch. “The Class of 2020 is going to be honored with some seriously star-studded ceremonies this graduation season. While in-person events have been cancelled due to the pandemic, there won’t be a shortage of fanfare to celebrate this year’s seniors. Among the headliners: Lady Gaga, Oprah, and even the Obamas. Ahead, here are all the virtual graduation ceremonies — including events hosted by YouTube, Natty Light, Facebook, and more — happening this season so you can plan and bookmark accordingly.”


Bloomberg: Trump’s Virus Drug Whim Costs Millions, Even as the Mania Wanes. “President Donald Trump has stopped talking about the decades-old antimalarial drug he once touted as a ‘game changer’ for Covid-19, but it won’t be as simple for the rest of the health system to just move on. When Trump first began touting the drug in mid-March, a frenzy ensued as hospitals, patients and doctors raced to secure supplies. Many believed even if the drug didn’t turn out to be an effective coronavirus treatment, it might be able to ward off infection. But as quickly as pharmacies were drained of the pills, the tide has now turned against hydroxychloroquine and its chemical cousin, chloroquine.”

NBC News: Jared Kushner’s highly scrutinized ‘Project Airbridge’ to begin winding down. “‘Project Airbridge,’ the medical-supply delivery program championed by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, is being essentially grounded, according to coronavirus task force documents obtained by NBC News. The program, created to speed the overseas air shipment of medical supplies that would take longer to ship by boat, became a lightning rod for criticism because of its unorthodox use of federal funds to underwrite shipping costs for private companies, the massive no-bid contracts it delivered to those companies and its failure to deliver all of the goods the White House credited it with.”

AP: As Trump urges reopening, thousands getting sick on the job. “Even as President Donald Trump urges getting people back to work and reopening the economy, an Associated Press analysis shows thousands of people are getting sick from COVID-19 on the job. Recent figures show a surge of infections in meatpacking and poultry-processing plants. There’s been a spike of new cases among construction workers in Austin, Texas, where that sector recently returned to work. Even the White House has proven vulnerable, with positive coronavirus tests for one of Trump’s valets and for Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary.”

Reuters: Exclusive: UK coronavirus outbreak kills at least 20,000 in care homes – Reuters calculation. “In the eight weeks to May 1, there were 37,627 people who died in care homes of all causes in England and Wales, according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Based on a comparison of the average of weekly deaths in care homes in the same period over five years, Reuters calculated that excess deaths have totalled over 19,900 in England and Wales. These figures update a Reuters calculation one week ago, published in a Special Report, that estimated the excess deaths to be at least 12,700.”


Vox: The economy is in free fall. So why isn’t the stock market?. “Earlier in the coronavirus crisis, Wall Street had a meltdown. Stocks plunged amid fears of the disease’s spread and its potential impact on the global economy, sometimes to the point that trading was halted altogether to rein in the chaos. But in recent weeks, the market has been doing okay. It’s not at the record highs it was in mid-February, but it’s not bad — the S&P 500 is hovering around where it was last fall. And given the state of the world — a deadly global pandemic with no end in sight, 30 million Americans recently out of jobs, an economy that’s fallen off of a cliff — a relatively rosy stock market is particularly perplexing.”

TechRepublic: As COVID-19 quarantines continue, US residential power consumption changes. “As millions of US residents work from home and stay at home under COVID-19 pandemic quarantines, electrical power generation companies are responding by adjusting power schedules to meet a different set of power needs. Part of what’s helping to make those changes are the latest automated digital smart meters used in homes and small businesses, which are allowing power companies to respond to changing power usage patterns in real time.”

The Atlantic: It’s Cool to Look Terrifying on Pandemic Instagram. “I am alone in my apartment, as always, and I’ve just replaced my left eyeball with an orange springing out of its peel. A mile away, a friend, also home alone, is taking her seat—every seat, actually—at the table in The Last Supper, yelling as the camera pans down the row of disciples and her face replaces that of one man after another. Another friend is watching a mouse dressed as the Pope dance across her kitchen floor. A third is smiling while a strange man wraps his arms around his throat.”

Inside Higher Ed: Protecting Art in College Collections. “University-owned museums are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in different ways. Like most other units of their universities, they’re closed to the public, having moved their programming online. And like most everyone else in academe, museum staff are planning for lots of different reopening scenarios and waiting to see what comes next.”

The Conversation: Coronavirus closures could lead to a radical revolution in conservation. “In the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, social media was flooded with reports of animals reclaiming abandoned environments. According to one widely shared post, dolphins had returned to the canals of Venice. While many of those stories have since been debunked, conservationists are providing legitimate reports of cleaner air and water, and wildlife reclaiming contested habitats. With widespread closures of parks and conservation areas around the world, could this be an opportunity to transform the way we manage and use these protected environments?”


Daily Herald: 2 Utah County businesses told staff to ignore COVID-19 guidelines, resulting in 68 positive cases. “Nearly half of the employees of a Utah County business tested positive for COVID-19 after the business instructed employees to not follow quarantine guidelines and required staff who had tested positive to report to work, according to a written statement from county executives.”

BuzzFeed News: Twitter Will Allow Employees To Work At Home Forever. “Some Twitter employees will never return to their office. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey emailed employees on Tuesday telling them that they’d be allowed to work from home permanently, even after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown passes. Some jobs that require physical presence, such as maintaining servers, will still require employees to come in.”

The Daily News: Livingston among counties sent more than 1,600 damaged COVID-19 test kits by state DoH. “Nearly 300 faulty COVID-19 testing kits were sent by the New York State Department of Health to Livingston County last week – among an estimated 1,600 sent to 12 counties, the New York Post reported Monday evening. The kits would have been used to test residents and staff of the three nursing homes in Livingston County, Public Health Director Jennifer Rodriguez told The County News Monday night.”

New York Times: A Coronavirus Mystery Explained: Moscow Has 1,700 Extra Deaths. “Ever since the coronavirus took hold globally, researchers have been puzzled by Russia’s mortality rate of only about 13 deaths per million, far below the world average of 36 in a country with an underfunded health system. With the arrival of data for April, however, the mystery appears to be clearing up.”

BloombergQuint: China’s Disinformation Campaign Targets Virus, Researcher Says. “An army of bot accounts linked to an alleged Chinese government-backed propaganda campaign is spreading disinformation on social media about coronavirus and other topics, including an exiled businessman, according to a London-based researcher. The accounts have been used to promote content attacking critics of the Chinese government and to spread conspiracy theories blaming the U.S. for the origins of virus, according to Benjamin Strick, who specializes in analyzing information operations on social media websites.”

Daily Journal: AP Exclusive: Chicago morgue coping despite surge in deaths. “The Chicago area’s chief medical examiner starts her day with a numbers problem: how to manage three times the number of deaths as before the coronavirus pandemic with the same number of pathologists. On a recent morning when The Associated Press got exclusive access to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office for the day, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar scanned a list of 62 new death cases. The average last year was 20 a day.”

The Verge: The Internet Archive is warning users about debunked ‘zombie’ coronavirus misinformation. “The Internet Archive is alerting users when they’ve clicked on some stories that were debunked or taken down on the live web, following reports that people were spreading false coronavirus information through its Wayback Machine.”


Washington Post: The last time the government sought a ‘warp speed’ vaccine, it was a fiasco. “The federal government has launched ‘Operation Warp Speed’ to deliver a covid-19 vaccine by January, months ahead of standard vaccine timelines. The last time the government tried that, it was a total fiasco.”

New York Times Magazine: He Was a Science Star. Then He Promoted a Questionable Cure for Covid-19.. “When diagnosing the ills afflicting modern science, an entertainment that, along with the disparagement of his critics and fellow researchers, he counts among his great delights, the eminent French microbiologist Didier Raoult will lightly stroke his beard, lean back in his seat and, with a thin but unmistakable smile, declare the poor patient to be stricken with pride. Raoult, who has achieved international fame since his proposed treatment for Covid-19 was touted as a miracle cure by President Trump, believes that his colleagues fail to see that their ideas are the products of mere intellectual fashions — that they are hypnotized by methodology into believing that they understand what they do not and that they lack the discipline of mind that would permit them to comprehend their error. ‘Hubris,’ Raoult told me recently, at his institute in Marseille, ‘is the most common thing in the world.’ It is a particularly dangerous malady in doctors like him, whose opinions are freighted with the responsibility of life and death. ‘Someone who doesn’t know is less stupid than someone who wrongly thinks he does,’ he said. ‘Because it is a terrible thing to be wrong.’”

BBC: Coronavirus: Ventilator fire blamed for Russia Covid-19 deaths. “A fire at a St Petersburg hospital has killed five coronavirus patients in an intensive care unit. The blaze was apparently started by a short-circuit in a ventilator, Russian news agencies reported. The fire was quickly put out and 150 people were evacuated from the hospital, the country’s emergency ministry said. It is not clear how many people have been injured.”


Washington Post: This veterinary lab is the linchpin in one state’s covid-19 testing approach. “Akhilesh Ramachandran emailed Oklahoma’s public health laboratory just days after the novel coronavirus hit the state in March. As a manager of a veterinary school diagnostic lab, he knew lots about rapid, high-volume testing for viruses — in animals. He offered his facility as a ‘backup’ for human testing, he said, figuring officials ‘might say, “You guys do 100 samples, and we’ll do the rest.” ‘ But within weeks, the Oklahoma State University lab — which typically tests for diseases such as rabies in dogs and respiratory ailments in Oklahoma’s large cattle industry — was running more human covid-19 tests than any other lab in the state.”

Politico: Hydroxychloroquine shows no benefit against coronavirus in N.Y. study. “A decades-old malaria medicine touted by the president as a coronavirus treatment showed no benefit for patients hospitalized in New York. There was also no noticeable advantage for patients that took the drug paired with the antibiotic azithromycin, according to hotly anticipated research published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Carnegie Mellon University: U.S. Schools’ Online Learning Directives May Exacerbate Existing Educational Inequalities. “In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing directives across the United States have led to school closures. Many K-12 school districts have moved toward online instruction, but not every student has access to the Internet. A new study examined the factors that determine whether children and youth can participate in distance learning. The study found that low-income and non-White children and youth have less access to the Internet than their peers, as do children and youth who live in areas where low-income and non-White children score lower on math tests. The study’s findings can inform policy.”


Deccan Herald: In a first, murder suspects produced before judge via Google Duo. “In a first, Bengaluru police used Google Duo, a video-calling app, to produce two murder suspects before the court. The suspects had escaped from Karnataka in a goods auto and were caught in Telangana, police said.”


The Verge: Hackers are impersonating Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet for phishing scams. “Hackers have registered domains posing as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet-related URLs, according to a new report from Check Point Research. As significantly more people are using these videoconferencing services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the domains could be used to pose as official links, potentially tricking people into downloading malware or accidentally giving a bad actor access to personal information.”


Politico: Trump touted reopening. Privately, his team sounded alarms. “President Donald Trump boasted on May 1 that his success in responding to the coronavirus pandemic has made ventilator, test kit and mask shortages a thing of the past, and that much of the country is ready to quickly send people back to work…. But that same day, his own health and emergency management officials were privately warning that states were still experiencing shortages of masks, gowns and other medical gear, according to a recording of an interagency meeting between FEMA and HHS officials across the country, conducted by conference call, which was obtained by POLITICO.”

Washington Post: A whistleblower paints a shocking picture of the White House bungling the covid-19 response. “THE UNITED STATES pumped some $50 billion into the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, founded in the aftermath of 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, to prepare for and stockpile medical countermeasures to a biological emergency, natural or man-made. When the emergency came, however, the Trump administration foundered. The former director of BARDA, Rick Bright, has made public a whistleblower complaint that depicts confusion and ineptitude at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees BARDA.”

ProPublica: What Happened When Health Officials Wanted to Close a Meatpacking Plant, but the Governor Said No. “The dismissed warnings in Grand Island, documented in emails that ProPublica obtained under the state’s public records law, show how quickly the virus can spread when politicians overrule local health officials. But on a broader scale, the events unfolding in Nebraska provide an alarming case study of what may come now that President Donald Trump has used the Defense Production Act to try to ensure meat processing plants remain open, severely weakening public health officials’ leverage to stop the spread of the virus in their communities.”

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