Saturday, March 29, 2008

I came across this article from the Associated Press today. Sleuthing as a calling? A very interesting twist on searching for the dead.

Amateurs solve mysteries of the unnamed dead
Volunteers use modern technology to put names to unidentified bodies
updated 1:03 p.m. ET, Sat., March. 29, 2008

LIVINGSTON, Tenn. - Four days a week, Todd Matthews earns $11.50 an hour working for an automotive parts supplier. After work he drives half a mile to his little beige house on a hill where he spends the next seven hours immersed in a very different world.

The faces seem to float from his computer — morgue photographs, artist sketches, forensic reconstructions — thousands of dead eyes staring from Web sites as though crying out for recognition. John and Jane and Baby "Does" whose bodies have never been identified.

His wife, Lori, complains that Matthews, 37, spends more time with the dead than he does with the living. You need a hobby, she says, or a goal.

Click here to continue reading the rest of the article.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Voice from the Past

I caught this article from Reuters. Quite interesting.

Experts find oldest voice recording, from 1860

Person singing French folk song is 'like a ghost singing to you'

updated 6:13 p.m. ET, Thurs., March. 27, 2008
By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON - U.S. audio historians have discovered and played back a French inventor's historic 1860 recording of a folk song — the oldest-known audio recording — made 17 years before Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Long-Standing Easter Tradition is Still Being Observed

I was interested to read the following article on today Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Web site. This is a tradition I fondly remember from my childhood.


Blessing of baskets an enduring rite
Sunday, March 23, 2008

In the waning hours of Lent, baskets of every type, shape, heft and color lined the base of the communion rail at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.

Bishop David Zubik lifted his hand and 130 people rose from the pews for a Holy Saturday ritual in the Eastern European tradition -- the blessing of the Easter basket.

He spoke of "unleavened bread and bitter herbs," of the sacrificial lamb's relationship to Christ as the lamb of God, of eggs as symbols of the resurrection and admonished the congregation to "remember those who suffer hunger and want."

As he edged his way along the line of baskets, sprinkling them with water from a gold bowl, he blessed loaves of leavened bread and twisted rolls, lamb, ham, sausages, horseradish and pickled beets, cheese, butter and dyed eggs, all under scrunched cloth napkins, crocheted potholders and checkered hand towels.

He blessed several at a time, sturdy hemp and wicker baskets, some natural, some painted, tall rectangular baskets and shallow oval ones with big handles, children's pastel baskets stuffed with shredded cellophane Easter grass and wide baskets full of flowers.

Joe and Kay Littell, of Bloomfield, brought three baskets of food they said they would eat that evening, including egg cheese, kielbasa and nut rolls.

"It's just us," said Ms. Littell, who is Slovak-American. "In the past, everybody in the family came to Grandma's, but after she died, everybody did their own thing," including lots of nieces and nephews who live all over.

John and Nevenka DePasquale, of Glenshaw, brought their three young children for the blessing of their basket.

Ms. DePasquale said in her native Croatia, her family had their baskets blessed every Holy Saturday. Her husband said it is "our family tradition now" but the first at St. Paul.

After the service, Bishop Zubik said the particular foods sacrificed for Lent are ones with direct reference to Christ's life, death and resurrection.

"The lamb is the biggie," he said. "Christ is our lamb." Bread is significant in the Eucharist, the wine significant of the blood Christ shed, the yolk of the egg a sign of new life, he said.

"The season of Lent used to be a lot more strict," he said. People really did forego eating meat, eggs and dairy, and their sacrifice made their senses sharper when Easter came.

"They thanked God the fast was over, yes," he said, "but also for everything that they had."

Diana Nelson Jones can be reached at or 412-263-1626.
First published on March 23, 2008 at 12:00 am

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

I received this lovely Slovak Easter greeting from a colleague! Tomorrow, I will enjoy a traditional Slovak Easter breakfast (with a few modern variations): Ham, Klobassy, Hrutka, Beets and Horseradish, Hard-boiled eggs, and bread (I'll have raisin-walnut bread instead of traditional paska this year -- no time to bake it, unfortunately). Easter always brings back fond memories of my mother and grandmother and all of the wonderful times we shared as a family. I miss them and those times very much!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

RootsWeb to be "Transplanted" to

This announcement has been making its way to all the major Genealogy Blogs--so I thought I would post it here as well.

Please direct all inquiries to:

RootsWeb Announcement
March 13th, 2008 by Tim
As you know, The Generations Network has hosted and funded the RootsWeb online community since June 2000, thereby maintaining RootsWeb as the world’s oldest and largest free genealogy website. TGN remains committed to this mission and believes that RootsWeb is an absolutely invaluable and complementary resource to, our flagship commercial family history site. We believe in both services and want to see both communities prosper and grow.

As part of this goal, we have decided to “transplant” RootsWeb onto the domain beginning next week. This move will not change the RootsWeb experience or alter the ease of navigation to or within RootsWeb. RootsWeb will remain a free online experience. What will be different is that the Web address for all RootsWeb pages will change from to Again, the RootsWeb experience is not changing.

The decision to host RootsWeb on is being made for one primary reason: we believe that the users of each of our two main websites can be better served if they have access to the best services available on both. Simply stated, we want to introduce more users to RootsWeb and vice versa.

Today, despite the fact that and are the two most frequently visited family history sites on the Web, only 25 percent of visitors to visited RootsWeb in January 2008, while only 20 percent of visitors to RootsWeb visited (according to Comscore Media Metrix). We think we will serve our users best by doing a better job of letting them know what is available on both and RootsWeb. Hosting RootsWeb on is the first step towards making this happen, but we will absolutely look for more and better ways down the road to advance this goal.

Hosting RootsWeb on will also make it easier for us to make changes and improvements to the RootsWeb experience in the future.

All old RootsWeb URLs will continue to work, whether they are bookmarks or favorites, links to or from a hosted page or URLs manually typed in your Internet browser. We will have a redirect in place so that all old URLs will automatically end up on the appropriate new RootsWeb URL. You will never need to update your old favorites or links unless you want to. We have worked to make the transition as seamless as possible for our users, and this change should have a minimal impact on your experience with the site.

RootsWeb will remain a free online experience dedicated to providing you with a place where our community can find their roots together. If you have questions regarding this change please email them to

Tim Sullivan,
The Generations Network, Inc.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Five Strategies for Finding Female Ancestors

For the month of March (National Women's History Month) I have focused pretty exclusively on researching the females in my family tree. Here are some tips:

Having trouble locating your female ancestors? Women are often harder to find. Prior to the twentieth century, most historical records were created for and about men. Property was usually listed under the man’s name, and men ran the majority of the businesses and controlled the government. Few women left diaries or letters, especially immigrant women who spoke little or no English.

1.Check all records for her husband, especially tax, property, and naturalization records. Also check records for siblings. Look for clues in photographs, newspapers, yearbooks, bridal books, employment, convent, military, and other records.

2. Consider the possibility of more than one marriage and multiple burial markers.

3. Learn naming practices and patterns and note regional, cultural, and religious influences. For example, Elizabeth (English) vs. Alzebeta (Czech & Slovak) vs. Erz├ębet (Hungarian). Investigate different endings for female surnames (e.g. in for Slovaks, add an –ova, to a woman’s name when searching databases or European records).

4. Be aware of spelling variations, and handwriting/transcription errors when searching census, immigration or vital records.

5. Create a timeline to place the woman’s life in historical context. Specialty software programs such as Genelines can assist with this task: .

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fearless Females in Your Family Tree?

Since it is National Women's History Month, I thought I would focus my research during March on my female ancestors. What strikes me most about the women in my own family tree is their strength in adversity, and their determination. My mother was the best role model a daughter could hope for, and the more I learn about what my grandmothers and great-grandmothers had to endure, the more grateful I am to have the opportunities I do. So, here's to Verona, Elizabeth, Maria, Anna, Ilona, and Barbara.

Who are the fearless females in your family tree?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Dream of... Ancestors?

Do your ancestors ever appear to you in your dreams? I quite often have dreams about my parents--these don't surprise me because I think about them every day. However, recently I had a dream about my Uncle John. I can't remember the context of the dream, but I do remember two things: I could see his face clearly and he said to me "What can I do for you dear?" The strange thing is I haven't been actively been doing any research on him (he passed away in 1995). His birthday is this month, however, so maybe somwhere in my subconscious I was thinking of him.

I'd like to know if anyone else has had a dream about an ancestor that was interesting, surprising, puzzling, or that helped you with a research breakthrough. I try not to read too much into things--but every once in awhile I have an experience that makes me wonder.