IN THIS EDITION -- February 14. 2002

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Grave Invasions

 

All across the country, the final resting places of our ancestors are being vandalized, built over, raided and desecrated. What the heck's going on? In Lake O' the Pines, Texas, relic hunters are digging up Caddo Indian burial sites to find prized ceramics, according to Knight Ridder. The small vessels buried with the Caddos fetch hundreds to thousands of dollars, and weak laws in Texas prevent solid protection of these unmarked graves. A similar problem happened in Hanover County, Va., where police are investigating whether the remains of Civil War soldiers were removed from their graves and stripped of valuable artifacts. The Richmond Times-Dispatch says four boxes of remains-minus such items as cloth, buttons and buckles-were found reinterred near Cold Harbor Battlefield Park.

In McKees Rocks, Pa., more than 100 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery remain toppled and damaged nearly three months after being vandalized, the Associated Press says. What's the holdup in fixing the headstones in one of the oldest and largest Jewish cemeteries in the Pittsburgh area? The synagogue attached to the cemetery and its insurance company haven't determined who's responsible for the $250,000 repairs. At the same time, a Jewish Cemetery in Chicago may be the future home of condos. The owner of the Jewish Graceland Cemetery Co. is trying to sell the land, complete with graves, for $2.25 million, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Meanwhile, a Civil War-era cemetery in Cincinnati may soon be the site of a construction company's office building. Though the land is littered with bones and broken headstones, and local residents claim their relatives are buried there, the cemetery's original burial records have been lost or destroyed, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. City officials say they can't stop the building's construction unless they can prove that people are buried on the land.

Sadly, these are just a few recent examples of grave invasions. To learn more and do something about the problem, visit Saving Graves at www.savinggraves.com.

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President's Budget Calls for National E-Archives

In a year of tight budgets and a focus on domestic security, President George Bush still called for a $4.5 million budget increase for the National Archives and Records Administration's Electronic Records Archives. This program is developing solutions to preserve and make accessible federal records in the digital age. The e-archives will be able to preserve any kind of electronic records, free them from the format they were created in, retain them indefinitely and allow researchers to read them now and in the future. Bush also includes $655,000 to help NARA bridge the electronic record gap and $2.9 million for additional security at NARA locations nationwide.
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What to Do about Damaged Photos

 

Q: Can I do anything about torn, faded or otherwise damaged photographs?

A: Many companies specialize in restoring old photographs. While they can at times seem to work miracles, they cannot replace lost portions of the picture. Photos that are very faded can, in most cases, be restored to good contrast and the contrast increased with wonderful results. Many computer programs can "repair" photos after they are scanned into the computer. Never do anything to an original photo that cannot be undone!

If you have the only copy of a family photograph and it is in good condition, you can have a photographer take a photo of it and make a negative. You can then have copies made from the negative to share with other relatives or to frame for display. Be careful to avoid hanging original photographs where the sun can fade or damange them. I have even had color laser photocopies made of some old photographs and framed the copies. You cannot tell the difference between the original and the copy once it is framed. Even old photographs that are black and white have some sepia tones, or an aged patina to them. A color copy will look as old as the original.

-Excerpted from The Genealogist's Question & Answer Book by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk, $18.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at www.familytreemagazine.com/store/display.asp?id=70528.

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Portland, Maine, to Highlight Its Ethnic Heritage

 

It took a controversy over who founded the city, but Portland, Maine, is now planning to examine its ethnic roots and showcase them with public art. The Portland City Council created a stir last year after accepting a statue of George Cleeve, whose descendants claim that he was the city's founding father. Some residents were concerned about recognizing Cleeve as the sole founder, the Portland Press Herald reports, because Native Americans lived there before he arrived in 1633 and because he settled the community with others (including his family). Some were also concerned he may have had a slave at the time.

The city ended up turning down the statue, and decided instead to form an advisory committee to study how ethnic groups such as Native Americans, Italian-Americans, Franco-Americans and African-Americans helped shape Portland. The committee's findings will figure into new guidelines for the Public Art Committee, which will coordinate its efforts with historical and ethnic groups.

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Get Organized!

 

A tip from Patricia Munton of Boone, Iowa:

"I found that if you spend a little money organizing your family information, you will reap the rewards later.

1. Buy a file box or cabinet depending on how much info you have.
2. Buy manila file folders.
3. Buy hanging file folders.
4. Starting with you, create a family file for each family. In your file will be you, your spouse and children. Parents' file will be your mom, dad and siblings.
5. Label the folders by parents' names or by fathers' names and birth dates.
6. Label hanging folders by surname and place file folders in hanging file.
7. Place all folders in box or cabinet.
8. Place any documents that pertain to each member in that folder.

"For further assistance, place a pedigree chart and family group sheet in each folder pertaining to each specific family.

"Now you are ready to research. When you go to a library or look for sources, work on one family at a time and take out that specific folder. This has saved me an immense amount of time because it helps me focus and not get off track. Genealogy can be time-consuming, but it doesn't have to take forever. You will start finding results sooner once you focus."