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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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Managing an Online Study Group

Over the past 8 years, DearMYRTLE has hosted various types of online study groups. We might have a guest instructor or we’d take one chapter a week from a book like Mastering Genealogical Proof or Genealogy and the Law. Once, with a particularly difficult chapter, a second week was given that extended the entire course by one week. Although we’ve happily used a variety of virtual meeting platforms, currently Cousin Russ and I recommend the Zoom Webinar format rather than Zoom Meetings if the audience is public as we wish to provide tighter control. Although this description of  how we set up and manage our online DearMYRTLE genealogy study groups is long and detailed, most items are quick and easy. These events prove both fun to produce and educational for all participants. Our process can be boiled down to these basic points.

  • The Host (DearMYRTLE) creates and promotes the virtual event and opens it 15 minutes before the live event.
  • The Co-Host (Cousin Russ) assists the Host by keeping the meeting running smoothly and bringing in comments where an attendee cannot use a mic or webcam.
  • The Instructor/Moderator pushes content. Sometimes this is also the Host.
  • Panelists have been chosen in advance and provide weekly homework to enhance the discussion of a chapter in a book. 
  • Attendees may interact via typed text or where available via mic and/or webcam

Here’s a partial list of various DearMYRTLE study groups archived on DearMYRTLE’s YouTube Channel.


  • Host – usually also the instructor/moderator
  • Co-Host
  • Instructor/moderator
  • Guest instructor – rather than handouts, guest instructors add items to the shared Google Sheet. See for example from the GreekGen Study Group Shared Google Sheet
  • Panelists – active participation in the conversation
  • Attendees – typed chat participation, optional Q/A.


  • A virtual meeting platform, currently Zoom
    — Zoom Webinars provide for a dedicated set of panelists, while attendees may pose questions and type in the chat. Confirmation email after registration and 3 reminder emails automatically sent to all registrants 1 week, 1 day and 1 hour before the scheduled event.
    — Zoom Meetings allow everyone to enter at the same level – with the ability to turn on their own mics and web cams. Confirmation email after  registration is the only notice the attendee will receive with his personal URL for joining the scheduled event. This option works fine in an institute format, but not where the general public may attend.
  • Webcams
  • USB Headset with earphones and mic
  • Wired internet connection
  • Creating Google Docs: For DearMYRTLE Study Group Homework (video)


The Host uses a Google Form for prospective panelists to sign up. Ten are selected. Most usually attend, but as few as six provide a good discussion when others are away due to illness or family responsibilities.


Since our study group sessions are to be recorded, we cannot not use the author’s examples. All panelists view a short copyright and fair use video featuring The Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell titled
Study Group Copyright Guidelines.



  • Each study group series has a secret Google Group or Facebook Group created by the host who invites the co-host and panelists to participate.
  • Homework assignments are posted there.
  • Panelists may report illness or a conflicting appointment.
  • Questions about the chapter or homework are discussed there.
  • The link to the final compiled homework is posted in advance of the class session so panelists may review everyone’s contribution and understand the flow of the discussion by how the instructor/moderator arranged the submissions.


  • The instructor/moderator and panelists read the chapter in advance of each session.
  • Panelists submit a chapter’s homework two days before the session.
  • Each week’s homework assignment is to take a single concept from the chapter and provide a multi-page report about how that concept related to a specific project in one’s personal research. Images of the ancestor(s) and related document(s) are to be included.
  • The instructor/moderator compiles homework submissions in logical order into a single document, makes notations, scans and uploads the final pages to Google Docs. 
  • — The link is shared with the panelists a day before with viewing participants in the secret back channel.
    — The link is shared with attendees by the Co-Host several times during the session to accommodate late arriving attendees.
  • Amazingly, though specific chapter sub-topics are not assigned, little overlap in homework has occurred.

The host, co-host, panelists and instructor/moderator meet 30 minutes before the first class session to:

  • perform sound and web cam checks
  • clarify the anticipated flow of the discussion

Thereafter, a green room of 15 minutes is adequate before the class session goes live. 


  • The Host or Instructor/Moderator shares the full-screen branding graphic before the event begins.
    — The graphic is on a second screen, readily shared at the beginning and end of the event.
    — In another setting, the graphic could be added to a PowerPoint slide deck in the first and last position.
    — The combined homework in Google Doc is opened full screen, but minimized until a 1-minute welcome is completed.
  • Attendees view the panelists and the instructor/moderator’s shared screen of the combined homework during class discussions.
  • Each panelist shares his thoughts while his homework with the instructor/moderator notes is displayed on the shared screen.
  • The instructor/moderator invites conversation among other panelists.
  • The co-host brings in comments typed by attendees.
  • If in Zoom Meeting format, the attendee could turn on his webcam alerting the instructor/moderator that he wishes to speak next.


  • Since the screen, not just a window, is shared, the instructor can seamlessly open up a website mentioned to clarify a way point citation or demonstrate a search.
  • When additional books or software are mentioned, the instructor/moderator provides a view to the product on the web for colorful brand recognition.
  • Using a blank word processing program the instructor/moderator may, for example, 
    — copy/paste a submitted citation
    — follow suggestions by panelists and attendees to add, remove or rearrange citation elements, color coding certain points for emphasis.
    — Note this works best with at least 20 point Arial at 200% magnification in MS Word. Anything smaller was difficult to read. Anything larger and its impossible to view a typical full citation.


  • Sometimes applying an idea from the chapter provides before and after scenarios for a panelist to describe.
  • Panelists are surprisingly candid about admitting where their blind spots are and how the chapter provides a breakthrough in research.
  • Amazingly little overlap in homework topics occurred.


  • The host sets up the meeting or webinar registration, in our most recent years using Zoom.
    — The host creates a 16:9 promo graphic and distributes it with the link through various social media channels, currently the DearMYRTLE Facebook Group and Twitter.
    — If it’s a Zoom Webinar, the Host creates the list of panelists with their email addresses so Zoom can send “panelist invitations. This permits the panelists to join the green room before the attendees arrive. Attendees arrive when the Host hits the broadcast button.
  • The Host starts the virtual meeting, first in green room mode. 
    — If a Zoom Webinar the panelists plan to arrive 15 minutes earlier using their individual panelist invitation URLs. The Host changes the status of one from panelist to Co-Host.
    — If a Zoom Meeting, all attendees are in a waiting room. From the list, the Host admits the intended Co-Host, changing his status from attendee to Co-Host and other panelists are admitted before the attendees.
  • The Host adjusts setting for simulcasting to YouTube or Facebook as desired.
  • If the virtual study group session is to be recorded, the Host adjusts settings to record locally or in the Zoom cloud and hits the record button.
  • Activates polls.
  • Sets parameters for Zoom breakout rooms, either assigned or random, and activates them.
  • The Host may visit any breakout room.
  • Activates the white board, though attendees must be advised who may use it.
  • Reverts back to the branding graphic as the instructor/moderator briefly concludes the meeting.
  • Presses the stop record button.
  • Presses to end meeting for all.

To put it plainly, everyone needs a “Cousin Russ”. 
🤗 A Zoom Co-Host has the same authority as a Host within the event itself. He cannot schedule events on the Host’s account.

He serves as the technology expert in any type of virtual meeting or webinar by

  • Informing the group of software updates, currently Zoom, Chrome and Windows 10, on the morning of the event.
  • Providing a count-down clock so the meeting starts and ends on time.
  • Reminding the host to turn on branding before the event starts.
  • Admitting attendees to a Zoom Meeting one by one or in groups.
  • Assisting anyone with sound or video issues in voice during the green room or via typed chat later.
  • Monitoring and muting attendee sound interference.
  • Monitoring and muting attendee video.
  • Monitoring chat.
  • Banning if necessary.
  • Hosting for the 10 minutes allowed before shutdown if the Host gets bumped out of the virtual meeting.

Though this description of DearMYRTLE study groups is long and detailed, it can be boiled down to this:

  • The Host (DearMYRTLE) creates and promotes the virtual event and opens it 15 minutes before the live event.
  • The Co-Host (Cousin Russ) assists the Host by keeping the meeting run smoothly and bringing in comments where an attendee cannot use a mic or webcam.
  • The Instructor/Moderator pushes content. Sometimes this is also the Host.
  • A Panelist has been chosen in advance and provides homework to enhance the discussion of a chapter in a book.
  • Attendees may interact via typed text or where available via mic and webcam. 

If you value the interactive genealogy education provided in DearMYRTLE webinars, please consider donating. THANK-YOU in advance. 

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     🙂
Your friend in genealogy
Twitter: @DearMYRTLE
Second Life: Clarise Beaumont

Best of the Genea-Blogs – 3 to 9 May 2020

Dozens of genealogy and family history bloggers write thousands of posts every week about their research, their families, and their interests. I appreciate each one of them and their efforts.

My criteria for “Best of …” are pretty simple – I pick posts that advance knowledge about genealogy and family history, address current genealogy issues, provide personal family history, are funny or are poignant. I don’t list posts destined for daily blog prompts or meme submissions (but I do include summaries of them), or my own posts.

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week:

How to Analyze Genealogical Sources: Part Five by James Tanner on Genealogy’s Star.

Virtual Genealogy Education Opportunities by Diana Elder on Family Locket.

But I Don’t Know Where in Ireland? by Donna Moughty on Irish Family Roots.

Tuesday’s Tips:  Gettin’ By with Help From Our Friends – Dan Earl by Cheri Hudson Passey on Carolina Girl Genealogy.

Beyond Dig Deeper Into Family History by Claudia C. Breland on Genealogy and Online Research Claudia c. Breland.

Genealogy Blog Party Ceebrate National Photography Month by Linda Stufflebean on Empty Branches on the Family Tree.

Facebook for Genealogists: Finding Old Posts by Julie Cahill Tarr on Julie’s Genealogy & history Hub.

Not the First … and Not the Last by Dave Robison on Old Bones Genealogy of New England – Blog.

In Praise of Tax Lists by Michael Grow on Vita Brevis.

Finding Enslaved Ancestors Using DNA by Sunny Morton on Your DNA Guide.

How To Analyze Your Genealogy Research by Amy Johnson Crow on Amy Johnson Crow.

European Ancestors – Researching Italian Roots by Julie Goucher on Julie Goucher ~ Angler’s Rest.

Three Big Lessons From Genealogy by John Gilbert IV in Ever Widening Circle.

Searching the Library of Congress Virtually by Gena Philibert-Ortega on Legacy News.

Connecting the DNA Dots by Jacqi Stevens on A Family Tapestry.

Here are pick posts by other geneabloggers this week:

 Friday’s Family History Finds  by Linda Stufflebean on Empty Branches on the Family Tree.

 Friday Fossicking, 8th May 2020 by Crissouli on That Moment in Time.

This Week’s Creme de la Creme — May 9, 2020  by Gail Dever on Genealogy a la Carte,

 Saturday Serendipity (May 9, 2020) by John D. Tew on Filiopietism Prism.

Readers are encouraged to go to the blogs listed above and  read their articles, and add the blogs to your Favorites, Feedly, another RSS feed, or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also – all bloggers appreciate feedback on what they write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me! I currently am reading posts from over 900 genealogy bloggers using Feedly, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.


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After James Otis “behaved very madly’

On 8 May 1770, 250 years ago today, Bostonians gathered for one of their annual town meetings.

Every March, the white men of the town elected its selectmen and other officials for the coming year. Every May, a smaller section of those white men, those who owned more property, elected the town’s four representatives to the Massachusetts General Court.

For the last few years the town had reelected the same four men:

But Otis was no longer in his right mind. He’d gotten into a coffee-house brawl with a royal official in September, suffering a bad head injury. For a while he appeared to recover, but in March, in the wake of the Boston Massacre, he had broken windows in the Town House.

Then on 22 April, the day after Ebenezer Richardson was convicted of murder for shooting at a crowd from his window, the merchant John Rowe wrote this in his diary:

This afternoon Mr. Otis behaved very madly, firing guns out of his window, that caused a large number of people to assemble about him.

Personally I’d stay far away from Otis’s house in that situation, but people might have felt safe once he’d emptied his guns. In any event, the man’s family subdued him and bundled him away to a doctor’s estate in the country.

One item of official business at the May town meeting, therefore, was:

The Honble. James Otis Esq. having by the advice of his Physicians, retired into the Country for the recovery of his Health.

Voted, that the Thanks of the Town be given to the Honble. James Otis Esq; for the great and important Services which as a Representative in the General Assembly through a Course of Years He has rendered to this Town and Province; particularly for his undaunted Exertions in the Common Cause of the Colonies from the beginning of the present glorious Struggle for the Rights of the British Constitution. At the same Time the Town cannot but express their Ardent Wishes for the recovery of His Health, and the continuance of those publick Services that must long be remembered with Gratitude, and distinguish his Name among the Patriots of America Voted, that the Gentlemen the Selectmen be a Committee to transmit to the Honble. James Otis Esq. an attested Copy of the aforegoing Vote

Otis’s departure meant that there was now an opening for the town’s fourth representative.

By a happy coincidence, there was also a prominent Whig politician in Boston who’d been shut out of his usual legislative seat the previous year. James Bowdoin (shown above as a young man) had served in the Massachusetts house back in the 1750s before rising to a seat in the Council. In that body he had led the opposition to Gov. Francis Bernard. In May 1769, the legislature chose Bowdoin for the Council again, but this time the governor “negatived” or vetoed him. Bowdoin therefore had had no official political role for a year.

Bowdoin had used that free time to publicize the letters of Gov. Bernard that leaked from London. After the Massacre, Bowdoin was the principal author of the town’s report on the shooting. So voters knew what he had done for Boston.

The official tally in the records was that out of 513 total votes the top candidates were:

The Honble. James Bowdoin Esq. – – – – – 439
Honble. Thomas Cushing Esq. – – – – – 510
Mr. Samuel Adams – – – – – – – – 510
Honble. John Hancock Esq. – – – – – 511

It’s possible that Bowdoin’s lower number meant there was another candidate or two but clerk William Cooper kept that man’s name out of the record.

(I don’t know if there’s any significance to the way those tallies appear in the minutes, from the lowest to the highest vote-winner. John Rowe attended the meeting and recorded the same numbers in his diary, but he listed Hancock second. In the next couple of years, there was no similar pattern in the order of votes recorded.)

TOMORROW: More town business.

Friday CoronaBuzz, May 8, 2020: 32 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. Please be careful. I love you.


Denbighshire Free Press (UK): National bereavement service rolled out for mourners during coronavirus lockdown. “An end-of-life charity has launched a national bereavement service to support people struggling with losing loved ones during the coronavirus lockdown. People finding it difficult to grieve will be able to access up to six weeks of support over the phone from a dedicated volunteer trained by the Marie Curie charity.”


WOWT: Nebraska sets up new education portal; state making headway in COVID-19 unemployment claims. “Dr. Matthew Blomstedt, Nebraska’s commissioner of education, on Thursday unveiled of a new website… that will house all the new materials and resources for the upcoming academic year. He said the site will also have details about new protocols for schools and examples of how education will move forward for summer and fall. It will also provide professional learning tools as well as a webinar series on how teachers can make effective use of online learning tools.”

Hindustan Times: Milan’s La Scala opera house ‘re-opens’ via Google virtual tour during coronavirus lockdown. “Milan’s famed La Scala opera house on Thursday unveiled a virtual journey through its ornate premises and rich archives via Google Arts & Culture, with serendipitous timing as theaters throughout Italy and the western world remain closed due to the coronavirus.”

TechRadar: Google launches a new Read Along app to help you with homeschooling. “If you’re stuck at home trying to keep the kids entertained and educated, you’ve now got one more online resource to draw on – Google just launched a Read Along app for Android that helps kids over five with their reading. The app has previously been launched in India under the name Bolo, but is now available much more widely, across 180 countries and in nine languages.”


Pacific Business Journal: Restaurant database now includes new section for farmers markets, local food producers. “Hawaii Agricultural Foundation continues to expand its efforts to support the food industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, the nonprofit launched a new addition to its Food-A-Go-Go platform, Food-A-Go-Go Farms, in an effort to help local farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Just as Food-A-Go-Go lists restaurants that are open for take-out, delivery and pickup, the new database compiles info on farmers markets and local growers. Food-A-Go-Go Farms also features other food producers in two categories — Aloha Inside for food products made in Hawaii, and Local Inside, which refers to products made with local ingredients.”

Workday Minnesota: New Website Documents Accountability Track Records of CARES Act Recipients. “The non-profit Good Jobs First launched COVID Stimulus Watch. The website is a database of public traded companies awarded federal loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. The data collected shows that at least 16 of those corporations pay their workers less than the national median household income level. Five pay wages so low they fall below the poverty line for a family of four.”

ABC 11: Free legal clinic aids NC small businesses, nonprofits affected by COVID-19. “The N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center has partnered with law firms across the state and the nonprofit group, Lawyers for Good Government Foundation, to offer a remote legal clinic for pro bono legal consultations. Businesses are matched with an attorney who provides 45 minutes of free, confidential legal advice for issues dealing with the coronavirus crisis and small business.”

Harvard Gazette: Real-time data to address real-time problems. “Called the Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker, the tool was created as a public resource to help policymakers assess the effects of the downturn in different regions of the U.S. with the most up-to-date information possible. With a more complete and current picture of the nation’s economic standing, policymakers should then be able to make evidence-based decisions as they move to reopen the nation. The tool provides lawmakers real-time analysis of data such as consumer spending and job postings, which normally takes them several weeks to get.”

The Hindu: Calcutta University’s digital collection goes online. “In what can be seen as a sign of the times to come, when social distancing may just become the new normal, the University of Calcutta has placed the entire digital collection of its library online so that physical visits are no longer necessitated and the world at large benefits from it. The decision of the University, set up in 1857, has placed in public domain countless articles, journals and dissertations, including issues of The Calcutta Review dating back to 1844 and Tagore Law Lectures dating back to 1870. Now anybody, anywhere in the world, can access them any time.”

SunHerald: Mississippians can now buy meat, produce directly from farms amid COVID-19. Here’s how.. “Mississippi has a new website where people can buy a side of beef, a basket of blueberries or a jar of honey direct from the rancher, farmer or beekeeper. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson announced Thursday the Mississippi Farm Marketplace website and two other initiatives to make sure people in Mississippi can get fresh food during the coronavirus pandemic. He signed an order during the morning press conference that immediately allows farmers to sell a portion of an animal, such as a side of beef, directly to consumers.”

Federal Housing Finance Agency: FHFA Announces Tools to Help Renters Find Out if They are Protected from Eviction. “To help renters find out if they are protected from evictions during the COVID-19 national health emergency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) have created online multifamily property lookup tools. The property lookup tools allow renters to find out if the multifamily property where they reside has an Enterprise-backed mortgage. Under the CARES Act, renters living in a property with an Enterprise-backed mortgage are covered by a temporary eviction moratorium.”

1060AM KYW: New website aims to showcase kids’ experience with pandemic through artwork. “The site, Quarantined Kids, was created by Lauren Rowello to give kids a space to express themselves through their art. ‘Sometimes I’m reading a little about what the kids are going through, but it’s always told from the adult’s perspective. It’s a parent or a grandparents or a reporter telling the story and this is really a space where the kids are going to tell it themselves,’ she said.”


First Draft: How to analyze Facebook data for misinformation trends and narratives. “There is a mountain of data that can help us examine topics such as the spread of 5G conspiracy theories or where false narratives around Covid-19 cures came from. It can help us analyze cross-border narratives and identify which online communities most frequently discuss certain issues. While Twitter’s public data is accessible through its Application Programming Interface (API), it can be much more complicated for researchers to access platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Facebook-owned platform CrowdTangle is the most easily accessible tool to handle three of the most important social networks — Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit — and it is free for journalists and researchers.”


NBC News: ‘What are we doing this for?’: Doctors are fed up with conspiracies ravaging ERs. “At the end of another long shift treating coronavirus patients, Dr. Hadi Halazun opened his Facebook page to find a man insisting to him that “no one’s dying” and that the coronavirus is “fake news” drummed up by the news media. Hadi tried to engage and explain his firsthand experience with the virus. In reply, another user insinuated that he wasn’t a real doctor, saying pictures from his profile showing him at concerts and music festivals proved it.”

CNET: Zoom eyes security boost, acquiring secure messaging platform Keybase. “In an effort to shore things up after a string of security issues, video conferencing platform Zoom has acquired secure messaging service Keybase.”

Ausdroid: Google introduces new features to Lens to especially help those working from home. “COVID-19 has caused businesses of the world to quickly adapt to the new way of life and as these businesses evolve and pivot into online spaces we, the consumers and users, are seeing some great new innovations. Google is one such company, fast tracking many features from virtually all of their products to help us all in our times of need. Google has today added new features yet again to one of their products, this time Google Lens has been enhanced with some handy additions. Today’s additions are designed to help users be more productive in their new work from home environments.”


NPR: ‘1st Time To See It Like This’: Petra Tourism Workers Long For Visitors To Return. “In the ancient city of Petra, Jordan’s best-known tourist destination, bird song echoes against the multicolored rock and the elaborate monuments instead of the din of tour groups and souvenir sellers. The coronavirus pandemic has done what war did not — bring this Middle Eastern country’s vital tourism industry to a dramatic halt, and with it, the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers.”

AdWeek: Social Media Is Providing a Sense of Community for Those Targeted by Racist Attacks During the Pandemic. “Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, I’ve felt fearful of a possible confrontation due to my ethnicity, to the point of holding in a cough to divert unwanted attention. And I am sure there are many others who share similar or worse experiences. With more incidents being shared online, Asian Americans are using social media more than ever to organize and fight against bigotry.”


Reuters: Exclusive: Iran hunts for grains as coronavirus compounds economic woes. “Iran is scrambling to buy millions of tonnes of wheat, corn and soybeans to shore up its reserves, Iranian officials and traders said, despite President Hassan Rouhani’s assertions that the coronavirus would not endanger food supplies to the Middle Eastern country worst hit by the pandemic.”

ABC4: Kroger to provide free COVID-19 testing to frontline associates. “Kroger Health announced Monday that the company will begin offering free COVID-19 testing to frontline associates based on their symptoms and medical need, according to a release.”

Washington Post: Faith activism amid pandemic spans causes and denominations. “One religious leader appeared with nursing home workers seeking safer conditions. Another broadcast a roundtable with colleagues in three states. Another talked about a campaign he helps lead that’s raised more than $1 million for masks and hand sanitizer. In one 24-hour period this week, three prominent people of faith from different denominations pushed for more aid to workers and areas most acutely affected by the coronavirus. All three are leaders in the black church –- underscoring the outsized pain the pandemic has exacted on communities of color -– but Christian advocacy on behalf of lower-income populations struggling with the virus is a diverse and nationwide cause.”

Hindustan Times: Facebook, Google will let most employees work from home through 2020. “Covid-19 outbreak forced employees working in companies across the globe, including the ones in Google and Facebook, to work from home. Now, the two companies have announced that they would let most of their employees work from home through 2020.”


Reuters: Colombia’s coronavirus app troubles show rocky path without tech from Apple, Google. “Colombia has removed the contact-tracing feature in its official app for informing residents about the novel coronavirus after experiencing glitches, but aims to rebuild using potentially more reliable technology from Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, a government official told Reuters.”

New York Times: Travel From New York City Seeded Wave of U.S. Outbreaks. “New York City’s coronavirus outbreak grew so large by early March that the city became the primary source of new infections in the United States, new research reveals, as thousands of infected people traveled from the city and seeded outbreaks around the country. The research indicates that a wave of infections swept from New York City through much of the country before the city began setting social distancing limits to stop the growth. That helped to fuel outbreaks in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and as far away as the West Coast.”

BuzzFeed News: These Detailed Maps Show How COVID-19 Is Spreading In Five Major Cities. “COVID-19 has hit urban America hard. The country’s 15 largest metro areas account for just one-third of the nation’s population, but more than 60% of coronavirus cases and deaths. But even within hard-hit cities, the novel coronavirus has spread unequally — largely sparing some neighborhoods, while devastating others, according to a ZIP code-level analysis of case counts from five major cities by BuzzFeed News.”


Found on YouTube: one of those rare Mr. Rogers parodies that doesn’t go for salacious laughs but sticks to deadpan satire. Mr. Rogers’ voice is not great but Lady Elaine, X the Owl, Queen Saturday, and Henrietta are perfect. Extremely well done and highly recommended. Lady Elaine encourages panic buying during quarantine – Mister Rogers Neighborhood parody.


People: Pa. Researcher Making ‘Very Significant Findings’ in Coronavirus Killed in Suspected Murder-Suicide. “A University of Pittsburgh researcher on the cusp of ‘very significant findings’ tied to COVID-19 infections was shot dead Saturday in what police say appears to be a murder-suicide. Ross Township police discovered the body of Bing Liu, 37, a research assistant professor in the university’s School of Medicine, in his home with gunshots to his head, neck, torso and extremities, according to a statement from the department obtained by PEOPLE.”

NBC News: 3 McDonald’s workers hurt after customer attack over coronavirus limits, Oklahoma police say. “Three workers at an Oklahoma City McDonald’s were injured Wednesday by gunfire and a scuffle that appeared to have started because the restaurant’s dining area was closed for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, police said. Two of three were injured by gunfire and the third was hurt in a scuffle, said Lt. Michelle Henderson of the Oklahoma City Police Department.”


MediaMatters: A coronavirus conspiracy theory film attacking vaccines has racked up million of views and engagements on YouTube and Facebook. “A film featuring a known anti-vaxxer pushing conspiracy theories and false claims about the novel coronavirus, including attacking vaccines, has racked up more than 9 million views on YouTube. Additionally, the video and its reuploads have tallied more than 16 million Facebook engagements. The spread of the film — called ‘Plandemic’ — through reuploads on YouTube shows the platform’s continuing issues with enforcing its policies against coronavirus misinformation during this public health crisis.”

Washington Post: Arizona halts partnership with experts predicting coronavirus cases would continue to mount. “Hours after Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, accelerated plans to reopen businesses, saying the state was ‘headed in the right direction,’ his administration halted the work of a team of experts projecting it was on a different — and much grimmer — course. On Monday night, the eve of President Trump’s visit to the state, Ducey’s health department shut down the work of academic experts predicting the peak of the state’s coronavirus outbreak was still about two weeks away.”

Daily Beast: Trump Wants a Quick Reopening. Data His Own White House Is Examining Shows It Could Be a Disaster. “One of the studies that the Trump administration is relying on as it moves ahead with plans to reopen the U.S. economy warns that even if states take the necessary steps to ease social distancing restrictions, counties across the country—both big and small—will see a significant spread of coronavirus.”

New Hampshire Public Radio: Glitch On State’s New COVID-19 Testing Website Displayed Patient’s Personal Info. “The new state website where people can sign up for coronavirus tests got off to a rocky start today. Some visitors to the online portal Thursday morning found the form already filled in – with someone else’s personal info.”

CoronaBuzz is brought to you by ResearchBuzz. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment, send resource suggestions, or tag @buzz_corona on Twitter. Thanks!

Findmypast Launch Vast New Photographic Collection in Celebration of VE Day 2020

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    • Findmypast publish new online photographic archive in partnership with the UK’s largest news publisher Reach plc
    • Over 10,000 original images from WWII, many which have never been published before, will offer vivid new insights into a nation at war
    • The Findmypast Photo collection will scale over the coming years to include millions of images taken between 1904 – 2000, covering all aspects of British life ranging from sports, education, places of work and daily life to politics, national and local events
    • The collection is now available for anyone to search for free from May 8th to May 15th, in celebration of VE Day 2020

Leading family history website, Findmypast, has announced the launch of a ground-breaking new project in partnership with Reach plc. 

Digitised and published online for the first time as a complete standalone collection in celebration of VE Day 2020, the Findmypast Photo collection is made up of more than 10,000 original images from Reach’s archives. Managed through Reach PLC’s content licensing agency, Mirrorpix, this huge vault of press photography dates from the earliest years of the 20th Century up to the present day and is one of most significant photographic records of British history in the world.

A van-load of beer passing through Piccadilly Circus. The expression of some of the men sitting on top suggest they have tasted a drop. 8 May 1945.

The collection consists of original images from press photographers who documented the 1939-45 conflict at home and overseas for nine national and regional titles, including the Daily Mirror, Scottish Daily Record, Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo during the years of the Second World War.

Many of these images have never before been published, providing new opportunities to explore how families and communities experienced the war. Original image descriptions created by the photographers still survive and much of this information has been indexed and made fully searchable on Findmypast. This enables users to bring the past to life with ease, speed and accuracy by searching thousands of images by keyword, date, and location as well as by category, such as the Armed forces, World War 2, Evacuees, Home Front, Sport, Life Events, Work or Schools.

Interest in online family history continues to grow and there are now more tools and resources for tracing ancestors than ever before. Despite this, discovering images relevant to an individual’s family tree remains challenging with very few resources available online.

Findmypast and Reach PLC aim to change this by providing public access to these never before seen photographs. The Daily Mirror built its brand on being Britain’s daily photographic journal and has been documenting the nation’s social history for over 100 years. Now, for the first time, anyone can step back through time to see people, places and events as they were more than 70 years ago.

In digitising this valuable photographic record and making it available to the public, Findmypast and Mirrorpix are not only expanding the nation’s understanding and interpretation of historical events, but also conserving them for future generations.

Today’s release forms the first phase of a vast collection that will continue to grow as Findmypast and Reach publish additional material covering a wide variety of dates, locations and themes. In time, the Findmypast Photo collection will expand in scope and scale to include millions of images taken between 1904 – 2000, covering all aspects of British Life ranging from sports, education, places of work and daily life to politics, national and local events.

Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast said: “Findmypast’s mission is to help as many people as possible to discover how they’re uniquely connected, not only to each other but also to defining moments from our history. The 75th anniversary of V.E Day is a momentous occasion that will inspire many to question their own connections to the defining moments of history. Genealogy allows anyone to personalise the past, and in providing access to these valuable never before seen images, we look forward to helping users create more magical moments of discovery that can shape their futures and add greater meaning to the connections they make. 

Jim Mullen, CEO of Reach plc said: “Every minute of every day, our newsbrands are serving hundreds of communities across the UK, publishing the news that matters to them, their friends and their families. Every single one of those communities has multiple deep connections to the story of VE Day and the years leading directly up to it. Our newsbrands covered those events as they happened and by publishing our VE Day collections with FMP today we’re able to share those stories once again, re-connecting people to their own family history. Stories that perhaps they had forgotten or maybe never even knew, until now.

Speaking from personal experience I can say that any journey to the Reach archives is a wonderful adventure into the past. Our collections are home to tales of the people, places and events – great and small – that shaped modern Britain. Those tales are just waiting to be discovered and Reach are delighted that from now on we can share that adventure with all of you.

The Findmypast photo collection is completely free to search and explore from May 8th to May 15th. To learn about the collection and what it contains, please visit:

Erroneous AncestryDNA Genetic Community

North American Genetic Communities map from AncestryDNAReader Clytee Gold wrote me about an apparently erroneous AncestryDNA Genetic Community assignment. One of her two communities is “Mormon Pioneers in the West.” (First, I am jealous that she has two community assignments.) She is rather positive that none of her ancestors were ever Mormons. She has done extensive research and has never found any connection to the Church. As there are still pockets of prejudice against members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this assignment could be highly offensive to some people. Coincidentally—or not—it is not offensive to Clytee. Forty years ago she joined the Church and moved to Utah. She is, literally, the “Mormon Pioneer in the West” of her family.

I’m not qualified to explain how this misassignment occurred, but fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Perhaps experts among my readers can correct me. Clytee gave one possible explanation:

The only thing I can figure out is that is based on OTHERS testing (guess that makes a community – who else took the test to compare to), and that somewhere, 5-6 generations back a sibling of a great-great something of mine joined the church in Denmark in the late 1800’s and came to Utah as a “Mormon Pioneer in the west” and populated the west and there are lots of descendants who took the DNA test.

Ancestry has explained that they use an algorithm called community detection to detect groups of individuals with a large number of interconnections. I think of it like large DNA Circles that don’t require common ancestors. The Mormon Pioneers community contains 89,000 testers. Just like a DNA Circle, Ancestry states a confidence level for your membership in the genetic community. My connection to the Mormon Pioneers community is “Very Likely.”

Ancestry says they then examine the Ancestry Member Trees of the genetic community “to learn about the historical forces that may have brought their ancestors together.” Of course, some testers don’t have trees, some don’t include all their ancestors, some have ancestors without complete location information, and some have complete garbage in their trees. I assume Ancestry looks for common locations in 25-year increments. If they find a large number of ancestors who lived in the same place at the same time, they look into the history of that time period and why there was a large number of individuals there. Then they give that community a name.

For example, the sweet spot for one genetic community is centered on Massachusetts in 1725-1750 (shown on the map, below left). Ancestry chose to name that community, “Settlers of Colonial New England.” Another centered on Utah at a much later time period, 1875-1900 (below, right). Ancestry called this one “Mormon Pioneers in the Mountain West.”

AncestryDNA genetic community map for Settlers of Colonial New England, 1725-1750. AncestryDNA genetic community map for Mormon Pioneers in the Mountain West, 1875-1900

I assume Ancestry can follow the group forward and backward in time, up and down the member trees. This provides additional touchpoints to compare against historical sources and decide if they have correctly identified and named the genetic communities. Moving forward in time gives an interesting view on migration that may not be available from other demographic sources. This may truly be groundbreaking demographic tools. For example, look at the 1900-1925 map (below) of the descendants of early residents of Chihuahua and Durango. If I am interpreting the map right, by that time they were as likely to be living in El Paso as Chihuahua. (The large circle over central Texas represents ancestors whose member trees didn’t specify where in Texas they lived.)

AncestryDNA genetic community map for early residents of Chihuahua and Durango, 1900-1925

Moving backwards in time gives an interesting view on where the Mormons who settled in Utah came from. In the period 1825-1850, most were living in England, with a fair number in Denmark. (See map, below.) The surnames associated with the Mormon pioneer genetic community further point to Denmark:

Jensen, Christensen, Larsen, Hansen, Allred, Nielsen, Olsen, Sorensen, Nielson, Rasmussen, Christiansen, Madsen, Peterson, Anderson, Barney, Leavitt, Child, Andersen, Petersen, and Jorgensen

AncestryDNA genetic community map for Mormon Pioneers in the Mountain West, 1825-1850

Once they are sure they have identified the genetic community, Ancestry can take information from history books about that group and display it next to the migration map. However, the information may not apply to your ancestors who didn’t participate in the chain migration. That is how Clytee may have been put in a migratory group that her ancestors didn’t participate in. She told me her ancestry:

My father was half Swiss (4 generations from the immigrant to Missouri) and half German (5 generations from the immigrant to Missouri).  Mother half Norwegian (2nd generation from the immigrant to Iowa) and half Danish (2nd generation from the immigrant to Iowa).

I think the conjunction on Denmark is more than coincidence. Clytee’s Danish ancestors didn’t have to join the Mormon church for her ancestors to share DNA with those that did. I don’t think it had to have been a sibling in genealogic-time, either. I think Ancestry is looking at shared DNA in a closed community with hundreds of years of intermarriages.

There is a possibility that the genetic community Ancestry has identified is actually more specific than “all Mormon pioneers.” Ancestry may have identified DNA of Mormon pioneers of Danish origin. Look back at the dominant surnames for this genetic community. Does it look more English or Danish?

There are other possibilities. Remember the mention of confidence level? Clytee may not belong to the genetic community at all. Her DNA may just be a statistical anomaly. Remember the mention of garbage trees? Ancestry may be running calculations overwhelmed by erroneous information.

GIGO. Garbage in—garbage out.

Thank you, Clytee, for your message.