Long Life Runs in the Family, Study Shows

When you look at the birth and death dates on your family tree, you are looking into a "crystal ball" of sorts for your own life. A new study by the Boston Medical Center and Boston University Medical School proves that those with long-living relatives tend to live longer than the general population, according to Reuters Health. Among 444 families with at least one member who lived to be 100 or older, siblings of centenarians had about half the risk of dying throughout their lives compared to those without centenarians in the family. Scientists will continue to focus on these long-living families to find the genes that give them a survival advantage.

Underground Railroad Rolls Forward


It's a big week for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The official groundbreaking will take place Monday, June 17, on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. And just days ago, Cincinnati-based GE Aircraft Engines announced it will contribute $1 million to the center's fund-raising campaign, which now totals $76 million. GE will also donate thousands of battery-powered lights for the groundbreaking event.

"On Monday at dusk, our 500-member community choir will cross the Suspension Bridge from Kentucky to Ohio, GE candles lighting the way," says Freedom Center President Ed Rigaud. "The choir will walk, singing, toward thousands more people with lighted candles, symbolizing the journey so many took to freedom. It will be an awe-inspiring sight to behold." The free festivities begin at 7 p.m. on the riverfront, and will include an appearance by Muhammed Ali, food and craft vendors, information on historic sites, storytellers, African dance lessons and more.

Adding to the excitement is a new partnership between the Freedom Center and the University of Cincinnati, which will create an online library of Underground Railroad-related materials. Archival collections to be digitized include oral history interviews, maps, articles, photographs and correspondence. The first collection will be online by the end of this summer, according to the university librarian.

The center will open in mid-2004 to celebrate the history of the Underground Railroad, as well as raise awareness of the ongoing struggle for freedom today around the world. Learn more at


Yee-haw! National Cowgirl Museum Opens


Women of the American West have a new home to celebrate their spirit and history. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame opened its new building in Fort Worth, Texas, last week in the heart of the city's cultural district. US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was one of five women inducted in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, honored for her pioneering presence as the Supreme Court's first female justice. O'Connor grew up on a cattle ranch in the high desert of Arizona and New Mexico, and counted cowboys among her best friends. Previous Hall of Fame honorees include Sacajawea, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Annie Oakley. Visit the museum online at


Storage of Original Census Schedules


The census marshals were instructed in 1790 through 1820 to deposit the census returns with the clerks of the district courts within their districts. Congress passed a law in 1830 requiring the states to return the original 1790 through 1820 census schedules. Only the states of Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and the two districts of present-day Maine and Massachusetts complied with the law.

All census manuscripts were in the custody of the secretary of state until 1849, when they were transferred to the secretary of the interior. They were stored in a fireproof vault in the Patent Office until June 1904, when they were transferred to the Census Bureau.

When fire destroyed most of the 1890 census in 1921, the records had been scattered within the Commerce Building. The 1790 through 1820 and 1850 through 1870 schedules had been on the fifth floor; the 1830, 1840, 1880, 1900 and 1910 schedules had been in the basement vault; and the 1890 census had been piled in the corridors of the basement. A New York Times editorial on Jan. 12, 1921, charged that Congress had ignored warnings of a fire hazard and pleas to appropriate funds for proper storage facilities.

By 1930 a new fireproof vault had been completed for storage of all census records at the Census Bureau.

-Excerpted from Your Guide to the Federal Census by Kathleen W. Hinckley, $21.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher, Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at


Pointing the Way to Historic Lighthouse Preservation

Lighthouses are more than just beacons for ships these days; they're also national treasures. That's why Interior Secretary Gale Norton kicked off a new program this week that will transfer ownership of historic lighthouses from the US Coast Guard to various federal, local and nonprofit organizations. "This program recognizes the cultural, recreational and educational value of these structures by transferring them to the best possible stewards, both public and private, for long-term preservation," Norton says. Tybee Island lighthouse near Savannah, Ga., and St. Augustine Light in Florida are among the first of 300 to be transferred under the program. Learn more about the country's historic lighthouses at

Houston Library to Keep Evening Hours

If you were horrified to hear that budget cuts might mean fewer evening hours at the popular Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research in Houston, Texas, you can relax now. Just a few weeks after the library proposed to go from three evenings a week to one, Houston City Council member Annise Parker introduced a budget amendment to restore the hours. It passed the Fiscal Affairs Committee unanimously and was approved by the mayor, so the cuts will not be made, Parker's assistant confirmed.

Don't Cut Out the Fat


A tip from Marjorie Osterhout of Seattle, Wash.:

"If you are lucky enough to have a lot of family photographs to put in albums or scrapbooks, think twice before cutting them up! I have a family scrapbook that was very carefully and lovingly assembled by a relative. Unfortunately, she cut out the close-ups of people from the photos, put the cutouts in the scrapbook (sometimes in collages) and discarded the backgrounds. It looks fancy and it's obvious she put a lot of work into it, but I could just cry when I think of all the wonderful clues and details that were destroyed (other people in the background, cars, kitchen utensils and house addresses).

"Scrapbooking can be a wonderful way to preserve photos and memories. But it's best to do that by adding to the photos rather than taking away!"

Editor's note: Get highlights from Family Tree Magazine's guide to safe scrapbooking at