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Genealogy Blog

21 October 2013

Mata Hari's Netherlands Birthplace Destroyed In Fire

The house in the Netherlands in which exotic dancer and WWI spy Mata Hari was born has been destroyed in a fire. One person was killed by the fire on Saturday evening as it engulfed several buildings in Leeuwarden, about 140km (87 miles) north of Amsterdam.

Local media said the victim was thought to be a 24-year-old man who had lived in a flat in the buildings. Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in August 1876, to a shopkeeper and a Javanese mother.

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17 October 2013

Texas State Archives Exhibiting Gov. Connally’s Clothing When He Was Shot With JFK In 1963

Your eyes instinctively seek the holes in the vintage 1960s black wool men’s business suit. The white cotton dress shirt with now-faded blood stains more vividly illustrates the horror of a half century ago.

Emergency room staff at Dallas’ Parkland Memorial Hospital removed the clothing from seriously wounded Texas Gov. John Connally, in the rush to save his life from the same burst of gunfire that also had left President John Kennedy mortally wounded.

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10 October 2013

George Washington’s 1789 Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Heads To NYC Auction

President George Washington’s 1789 proclamation establishing the first Day of Thanksgiving is set to be auctioned in New York City. The document will be sold Nov. 14 at Christie’s. The only other known copy of the proclamation is at the Library of Congress, the auction house said.

The proclamation, which set the first national day of thanksgiving for Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789, is estimated to sell for $8 million to $12 million. It’s being sold by a private American collector.

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Mummified Head May Not Belong to King Henry IV

A mummified head identified as that of the French king Henry IV three years ago may not belong to the monarch after all.

In 2010, researchers used digital facial reconstruction on the head, which had been in the hands of private collectors, to identify it as the "good King Henry," who ruled France from 1589 to 1610. The king, according to historical legend, was exhumed and posthumously beheaded in 1793 during the French Revolution.

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Violin That Was Played To Calm Passengers As Titanic Sank Undergoes CT Scan To Prove Authenticity Before Going To Auction

The violin played by the bandmaster of the Titanic as the ship was sinking is finally being auctioned for an estimated £400,000. The historic instrument, which underwent a CT scan to prove it is the real deal, is expected to make a world record sum for a piece of Titanic memorabilia at the British auction, which is attracting huge international interest.

The wooden fiddle has been forensically proven to be the one used by Wallace Hartley as his band famously played on to help keep the passengers calm during the disaster.

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7 October 2013

70 Years After Stealing Photograph, World War II Soldier Returns It To Its Owner

Jim Williams, World War II soldier, stole a framed portrait from a girl he went on a date with in 1943 and took it with him when he went fight in the South Pacific. 70 years later, a 92-year-old Williams returned the portrait to the also 92-year-old Ruby Hazen.

Jim Williams of Springfield, Ill., says he went dancing with the young woman who was then Ruby Ruff in 1943 in Portland, Ore. They were both 22; he was in the Coast Guard.

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3 October 2013

Lost Portrait of Britain's Wealthiest Woman Aquired by National Portrait Gallery

A lost portrait of one of the UK's earliest feminists has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait, which is of Lady Anne Clifford by William Larkin and was painted in 1618, was recorded only in Clifford's diary entries until it was discovered eight years ago in a German private collection by gallerist Mark Weiss.

The Gallery bought the portrait for £275,000, £70,000 of which was given by the Art Fund and more than £45,000 from private donations.

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25 September 2013

Could Your Family Photos And Letters Help Researchers Examine 1916 Easter Rising?

Members of the public are being called upon to dig out old family letters and photographs, to help researchers better understand life in Ireland around the time of the 1916 Easter Rising.

From love letters to correspondence about politics or everyday life, families are being urged to submit letters written six months before and after the Easter Rising. The Rising was an armed insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter week, 1916.

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'Most Damaged' Charter In State Archives Gets Restored, Returned To Chesterfield, Massachusetts

After being found in a state of advanced deterioration at the State Archives, the original Chesterfield Town Charter has been meticulously restored and copies of the document given to as a gift to the town courtesy of state Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, and state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst.

Kulik and Downing presented a copy of the fully restored charter to the Select Board Monday afternoon, joined over speakerphone by Rosenberg. Several residents also attended the presentation.

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24 September 2013

Funds for Richard III's Tomb Are Pulled Because The Proposed Modern Design 'Doesn't Befit a Warrior King'

A bitter row has erupted over the planned tomb of Richard III after a historical society announced it is withdrawing £40,000 in funding because members are unhappy with the design of the tomb. Leicester Cathedral announced proposals for the £1.3m raised tomb last week, which the Richard III Society has branded 'too modern and stylised'.

The Cathedral, which is set to be the final resting place for the king, responded by saying it will not change the plans for the tomb to secure the donation.

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23 September 2013

WWII Soldier's Letter Reaches Daughter After Seven Decades

A World War II soldier's heartfelt letter to his daughter has finally reached her, seven decades after it was written.

Peggy Eddington-Smith received the letter penned by her father, Pfc. John Eddington, as well as his Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, during an emotional ceremony Saturday in Dayton, Nev., about 40 miles southeast of Reno. The father she never met wrote the three-page letter shortly after she was born and shortly before he died in Italy in June 1944. He sent it while stationed in Texas, just before he was sent overseas.

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16 September 2013

Millions go to Preserve Historical Archives At University of South Alabama

Millions of dollars from a local family will go to preserve historical archives. The University of South Alabama Board of Trustees honored the Marx family for their donation of three million dollars to the USA Library.

Two million will benefit the future library project. One million will help renovate the library’s third floor. The library will bring its USA photo archive from Springhill Ave. back to campus. That way, historical photos can be easily accessed by students, researchers and the public.

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9 September 2013

Urinating WWII Great Dane's Medal Sold

A medal awarded to a dog in World War II for extinguishing a bomb by urinating on it has been sold at auction for £1,100. The 1941 Blue Cross medal was found in a property clearance in Bristol along with a painting of Great Dane Juliana.

A plaque on it describes how the dog put out an incendiary bomb dropped by the Luftwaffe on her owner's home. "This was clearly a Great Dane with a great bladder," auctioneer Philip Taubenheim said. Mr Taubenheim, of Wotton Auction Rooms, in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, said it was a "remarkable story".

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Canada Archives Missed Chance at Bargain Manuscripts

Canada’s cash-strapped national archives may have missed a chance to buy rare maps and manuscripts at bargain prices because years of austerity have severed its special connections with auction houses and private sellers. That’s the lesson being drawn by senior staff at Library and Archives Canada after the agency paid about three times the pre-sales estimate as winning bidder at a spring auction for the Sherbrooke collection.

The rich bounty of Canadian maps and manuscripts from the early 1800s cost the agency about $720,000, including taxes and shipping. Bonhams, the house that conducted the auction in London on June 19, had estimated the value somewhere between $160,000 and $230,000, plus a buyer’s premium.

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4 September 2013

Library of Birmingham, England: Official Opening of £189m Building

The £189m Library of Birmingham, which houses a collection of one million books, has opened. The library has more than 200 public access computers, theatres, an exhibition gallery and music rooms.

It was officially opened by Malala Yousafzai, the teenager shot in the head in Pakistan by the Taliban for championing women's rights. She was treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and now lives in the city.

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