IN THIS EDITION -- January 10. 2002


Court Order Shuts Down Government Web Sites


Have you tried logging on to the Bureau of Land Management's land records site recently? How about one of the many National Park Service sites, the database of Civil War Soldiers and Sailors, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs' site? No, you're not crazy, and your Web connection is just fine. These sites aren't loading because last month, a federal judge ordered the Department of the Interior to shut down its Internet sites until the department improves its computer security.

The order comes out of a long-running lawsuit alleging federal mismanagement of Indian trust funds, according to the Washington Post. US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth found that the DOI's computer system made those funds (worth about $3 billion) vulnerable to outside hackers. Until department officials come up with a way to adequately protect the money, all DOI Web sites will remain inaccessible, with the exception of US Geological Survey sites. "We are working aggressively and diligently with our information technology staff to seek an acceptable way to restore operations," says J. Steven Griles, the DOI's deputy secretary.


Mail Delivery Resumes at National Archives


Months after anthrax was discovered at one of Washington, DC's main post offices, mail is once again moving through the Brentwood facility, which serves the National Archives and Records Administration. From October to December, record requests to NARA and completed orders from NARA were held in the facility pending anthrax test results. Now that the results have been found negative, requests will finally be sent on to NARA and orders will be mailed to customers. On NARA's Web site at, a statement says NARA will send postcards to customers acknowledging receipt of their requests. It also asks customers not to send duplicate requests if they haven't received their orders yet.


Basic Strategies for Finding Your Irish Ancestors


* Be careful in looking for variations in Irish given names and surnames because they may be spelled inconsistently.
* If you only know Ireland as the place of your ancestor's origin, concentrate on records in the country where he or she settled to find at least a county in Ireland, the names of brothers and sisters, and ideally the mother's maiden name.
* If you know the county of origin, you have a number of options. You can write to that county's heritage center to request a search. You can continue your immigrant research to get a more specific place name than the county. Finally, you can search Irish records to see if you can narrow your family's origins further.
* Once you have a parish name, make sure you know what kind of parish it refers to (church or civil). Then you can search church records, tax records, censuses, and census substitutes for your Irish parish to find out what townland your ancestors were living in.
* Knowing your ancestor's townland of residence makes available a myriad of records that can help to reconstruct the lives of your ancestors, even to the point of identifying the exact plot of land they lived on.

-Kyle Betit and Dwight Radford, authors of A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors


Whoa, Nelly! 1901 UK Census Site Overwhelmed


The United Kingdom's Public Record Office wasn't ready for the immense, instant demand for its latest online offering. When the digitized version of the 1901 UK census at launched last Wednesday, 50 million people tried to access the Web site. The PRO doubled its servers for the site, but was still not able to handle most of its users. Now the site has been taken offline for at least a week while technicians try to beef up the site's capabilities. PRO officials shouldn't be surprised at the census' popularity: The same outpouring of interest happened when and launched their enormous family history databases online.


Try Another Angle


A tip from Joseph R. Bosone of Billings, Mont.:

"My grandfather came to the United States in 1891, settled in the coal mining area of Gunnison and surrounding mining towns in Colorado. We had this information, but were looking for my grandmother and four children, who came after him. According to a census record we had, they supposedly came to the US in 1897, so we researched in that time frame, and came up empty.

"We looked high and low for my grandmother, using the surname 'Bosone,' and found nothing. I remembered reading somewhere that Italian women (and other European women) not traveling with their husbands often used their maiden names. I typed in the name 'Sandri' and found my grandmother, my father, two aunts and an uncle-the five persons that we had been looking for. However, they did not come to the US in 1897, but in 1901. The census records we had were in error, showing 1897. I am sure it was an honest mistake, possibly due to a language barrier, or perhaps the enumerator was just not up to it that particular day. On the ship's manifest, it said they were going to meet her husband and the children's father, Francesco Bosone, in Gunnison, Colo., and included the name of a mining company in Baldwin, Colo., Alpine Coal Co."