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Genealogy Blog

14 November 2013

Rare Depiction of Jacobite Heroine Flora MacDonald For Sale at Bonhams Edinburgh

A portrait of Flora MacDonald, a heroine of the Jacobite risings, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the Battle of Culloden is to be sold at Bonhams Scottish pictures sale in Edinburgh on Thursday 5 December.

It is estimated at £7,000-10,000. Following his defeat at Culloden on 16 April 1746, Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - fled the field and went into hiding. Pursued by the army of George II, whose claim to the British throne he had challenged, the Prince took refuge on the Hebridean island of Benbecula, which was under the control of the government.

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6 November 2013

Rescued From Saddam, Iraqi Jewish Archive Finally On Display

In May 2003, just days after American-led coalition forces ousted Saddam Hussein, a group of US soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha were searching the headquarters of Saddam’s fearsome intelligence service for signs of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Submerged under four feet of water in the building’s basement, they instead happened upon five centuries’ worth of books and documents relating to Baghdad’s erstwhile Jewish community.

The thousands of waterlogged materials were quickly rescued and placed outside, but immediately began accumulating mold in Iraq’s powerful summer heat and humidity.

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4 November 2013

National Museum of Australia Acquires Earliest Melbourne Cup Trophy

The 1866 Melbourne Cup won by The Barb is the earliest known Melbourne Cup in its original state. First run in 1861, the Melbourne Cup was a cup in name only, with prizes including a gold watch and cash purse.

The first official trophy cup was awarded in 1865. The 1865 trophy was sold by its owner, who reportedly found it unattractive. It was rebranded and presented as the Flemington Hunt Club Cup. The 1866 trophy is therefore the oldest Melbourne Cup in original condition. The National Museum of Australia acquired the 1866 cup in 2012.

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31 October 2013

National Archives in Washington To Display Trove of Iraqi Jewish Books; Conflict Over To Whom They Belong

The tattered Torah scroll fragments, Bibles and other religious texts found in a flooded Baghdad basement 10 years ago testify to a once-thriving Jewish population that’s all but disappeared from Iraq.

Recovered from the Iraqi intelligence headquarters and shipped to the United States for years of painstaking conservation was a literary trove of more than 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents that are being digitized and put online. A sample of that treasure is being displayed for the first time this fall at the National Archives in Washington.

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28 October 2013

Lee Harvey Oswald’s Wedding Band Goes For $108,000 At Auction

Lee Harvey Oswald’s gold wedding band, which he left in a cup on a dresser the morning he assassinated President John F. Kennedy, sold at auction for $108,000 in Boston on Thursday.

The ring was among nearly 300 items linked to the former president, who was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, that were auctioned by RR Auction, The Associated Press reported. The auction house said Oswald’s ring, which has a tiny hammer and sickle engraved on the inside, was sold to a Texas buyer who wished to remain anonymous.

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22 October 2013

Rare Copy of First Ever Printed British Newspaper Which Includes Article on Bubonic Plague Death Toll Is Up For Sale

A rare copy of the first ever newspaper printed in Britain is to be auctioned nearly 350 years after it came off the press. The Oxford Gazette was published on November 7, 1665, at a time when London was in the grip of the devastating bubonic plague.

It was the first newspaper in the world to be printed in English.The two-page first edition contained an eclectic mix of news including military and naval engagements, debates in the House of Commons and overseas dispatches.

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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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