Rainy Day Reads

So much good stuff to read this weekend — but the weather was near-perfect around here, and I couldn’t keep my mind on my text. So I waited to post these until today, which is gray and drizzly, ideal reading weather.

• A 97-year-old Holocaust survivor leaves a multimillion-dollar estate, but no will and no heirs, reports The New York Times in an especially poignant story. Hiring a genealogist is among many tasks facing a public administrator in sorting out the largest unclaimed estate in New York history. (NYT)

• Also from the Times, a look at New York City’s archivists, who occasionally (gasp!) emerge from their lairs to compare notes at the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York. Reporter Alison Leigh Cowan notes that archivists are not to be confused with librarians, or record managers, or conservationsists. Got that? (NYT)

• A dispatch from South Jersey’s shores of the Delaware Bay, where rising seas are making an inexorably stronger impact: “I refuse to give up one house, one lot, one piece of land. These towns are 200 years old. It’s a special place. We’ve got to preserve it.” (Philly.com)

• Finally, a bit about the Bevington Object. Said object is a teensy dot in a wallet-sized photo of Gardner Island in the South Pacific. Analysts think it’s a piece of the landing gear from the Lockheed Electra flown by Amelia Earhart on her final, doomed journey. Why and how this fits in to the current state of Earhart theory makes for some very neat reading. This article is a couple of months old, I freely admit. But it is photo-nerd (and evidence-nerd) nirvana! Don’t make me cry for neglecting it before now.  (TIGHAR.org; h/t Actuarial Opinions)


Straphanger history, GIF-style

Readers of this blog might have noticed that I have a lot of ancestral ties to Brooklyn. With this comes a long and honorable heritage of subway ridership.

And my oh, my, subway geeks will LOVE this animated map depicting the evolution of the New York City subway system.

It’s a terrific reminder of how something so synonymous with NYC was not always a part of city life.

(via Atrios)

Follow Friday: Mail I Wanted To Read

As part of my ongoing Quest For New Directions, I have become very stern and pruned a number of subscriptions, loops and lists because the mailbox was becoming something I felt vaguely ill about opening every morning.

Now I feel much better. And here are some nice things that were in the mailbox.

• A primer on house histories by a very nice expert on them from my neck of the woods. Read all about why people are interested in them, and what are the key questions to ask when doing one.

• The ongoing good news about efforts to resurrect Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. A RAOGK Wiki has some basic information. There are also two Facebook pages, one for USA-based requests and one for international requests.

• OT but good to know – Internet security tips for small businesses. We tend to think of Internet security problems as something huge and global, but they can affect people at every level. (Disclosure: I know the author from my local chapter of Women in Communications, always a source of interesting news and ideas.)

• The DNA study of Melungeons – a classic example of DNA sleuthing brushing away preconceptions and achieving new insights, though not without some difficult feelings. But I like the quote from sociologist D. Reginald Daniel: “All of us are multiracial. It is recapturing a more authentic U.S. history.”

Links, 3.21.12

Tracings: Well, if Wanda Sykes’ story is anything to go by, it’s going to be an addictive journey with Finding Your Roots, the new PBS exploration from Henry Louis Gates Jr. that debuts this Sunday. Research for the show traced Sykes’ roots clear back to 17th-century Virginia, “an extraordinary case,” according to historian Ira Berlin. The New York Times has more fascinating details.

Choices: If you sense a major shift in your computer universe, and maybe even your genealogy software, here’s a useful overview of the more popular choices. But what I really liked were the tips on auditioning new genealogy software before you take the leap.

Echoes: Here’s a tidbit of interest for Titanic (and insurance?) buffs: Letters From a Lost Liner, an overview of a National Archives collection of documents pertaining to the claims filed against the White Star Line after the disaster. One story they tell concerns some long-forgotten minor players in the great drama — the mail clerks assigned to the liner’s Sea Post Office, who died safeguarding more than 3,000 sacks of mail aboard the doomed ship.

Irish Links Edition, 3.16.12

Please Order Your Green Mini-Bagels by Friday, read the sign in my local bagel bakery a few days ago.

“Thanks for the warning,” I muttered darkly. I went home complaining about how many shades of wrong that was, all of them green, only to be interrupted by the offspring.

“Green bagels? They’re great! We had them at the class party last year,” said the younger one.

“Can we get some for lunch tomorrow, Mom?” asked the older one.

It was almost enough to make me pack black pudding in their lunchboxes, I tell you. But green-tinted foods are the cross we bear here in the States on St. Patrick’s Day. A non-negotiable symbol, however much I’d wish otherwise. Therefore, I take refuge in seasonal blog posts that are blessedly free of green food dye.

• Speaking of non-negotiable symbols, here’s a shamrock story from a Tipperary storyteller.

Findmypast.ie has seasonal appeal, a fine excuse for me to poke around over there again.

Irish Genealogy News updates us on the National Archives of Ireland’s catalogue of calendars of grants of probate of wills and letters of administration, 1858-1912.

• Deborah at Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors posts a touching video of a re-interment service in Pennsylvania for victims of the Duffy’s Cut debacle of 1832 — a horrifying story of cholera, violence and neglect among impoverished railroad workers. It is good to know that at least some of the dead from this long-ago disaster have been given a ceremonial burial.

• Tonight GeneaBloggers Radio has a dynamic panel of experts (more about them here) to talk about Tracing Your Irish Roots. Check out the show (at 9 p.m. Eastern).

• And if you are still indecisive about your St. Patrick’s Day celebration plans, let the Archaeologist help! Make some brown bread. Or even slumgullion, if the supermarket is sold out of corned beef. Learn how not to sing The Wild Colonial Boy. We are nothing if not helpful here.

Just don’t ask us to pour you any green beer. Please.

Links, 3.7.12

Sad aftermath: So many stories of destruction from the recent devastating tornadoes in the Midwest. Springfield (Ill.) columnist Dave Bakke writes a poignant piece about a ruined church and the hole it leaves in a small town’s past.

Vigilance pays: A man charged with stealing dozens of memorial vases (with bronze stripes)  from a cemetery in Port Angeles, Wash., was turned in by the alert owner of a metal recycling business, who became suspicious when the vases were offered to him for sale. Well spotted.

Risky legacies: Interesting article about medical researchers using a Family Tree Mortality Ratio to analyze risk of sudden death through inherited cardiac arrhythmias.

Links, 2.15.12

Apologizing: Very interesting article in the Deseret News about the LDS addressing the case of a church member “who last month had a posthumous proxy baptism performed for the parents of famed Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal.” Said church member’s access to the church’s genealogy database has been suspended, and an apology issued.

Prognostications: At Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver posts some thought-provoking words from Jeffrey Bockman (among other things, a past president of the Illinois State Genealogical Society) on The Future of Genealogy.

Generationally Speaking: Oh, thank you, Dick Eastman, for pointing out this exceptionally cool extended generation story! It is almost better than the one about John Tyler’s grandchildren!  U.S. News and World Report has a story on the last two Civil War pensions still being paid, both to children of veterans. The recipients are reportedly in poor health. The article notes that the last Civil War veteran died in 1956, aged 109, and the last Civil War widow died in 2003, aged 93.