Links, 8.02.10

Aaaandddd …. it’s August, which is kicking off on a surprisingly cool note where I live. I’m sure we’ll be broiling appropriately in no time. Meanwhile, what’s going on?

Crossing the pond: Here are lots of good pointers on finding your ancestral European village, if that’s where your genealogy trek is leading you. And it’s true, one of the basic challenges is making getting the name right — aren’t those vaguely remembered village names a joy to unravel?

Changing identities: On the topic of names, the Los Angeles Times reports on an initiative by French Jews to reclaim their true family names, which were changed in the years after World War Two to make them sound more Franco-phonic. What felt like a pragmatic move to refugees in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust is oppressive today to some descendants: “It doesn’t feel right,” says a grandson of one emigre from Poland. “It says nothing about my family or our history.” H/t to Dick Eastman.

Updating software: MacWorld reviews the highlights of the updated (version 6) Mac Family Tree. The place name/event merging capability sounded nice. So did the Web Research portal.

Inspiring filmmakers: The New York Daily News has a neat profile of Ken Taylor, whose life overseeing operations at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery provided background for Zac Efron’s character in the recently released Charlie St. Cloud. Taylor started out at Green-Wood as a high-schooler cutting grass in the summertime. Now he lives there, in a 130-year-old Gothic caretaker’s brownstone.

Rescuing a marker: One more quirky cemetery story! In Iowa, intrepid researchers reconnect a headstone with its rightful grave, more than a century after it was ordered. Apparently the stone was commissioned but never paid for, and languished in a basement until the 1970s, when it was discovered and drifted around a bit (including a stint in a garden) before finally being researched and set upon its intended gravesite.

Anyone do anything interesting for Lammas? If you missed it, you can at least sing the song. Have a nice week!

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