Need help with that genealogy problem—that “brick wall”—that has stymied your research? FamilySearch has announced its new, free service called Virtual Research Strategy Sessions. Research specialists are available to offer assistance and useful suggestions to anyone needing such help. Visit and learn more, including languages offered, how to book a session, how to prepare and access such a session, and additional research and translation help.

You will receive a booking confirmation via email with details about your strategy session, a calendar invite, and a link to your Zoom meeting. You will also receive reminder email(s) prior to your meeting. Please do not book more than one sessions in any given week.

OCR explained

Libraries and government agencies use Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, to convert lengthy documents to a text format that can then be read, indexed, or stored for subsequent use. An explanation of this process can be found at , as reported recently in Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

WikiTree Community still free

“WikiTree is a 100% free community-based website that has been growing since 2008” and recently surpassed 25 million profiles, representing 750,000registered members who have added or edited family profiles. Read Eastman’s article on this collaboration at and click on his link to the website ( Learn how “all of humanity is one family.”

12 best German genealogy websites

James M. Beidler’s article in Family Tree Magazine, “The 12 Best German Genealogy Websites,” at , provides a useful list of links for anyone researching German ancestry. Only three of them require a paid subscription (, My Heritage, and Archion) and thus this article should be carefully studied.

Each site’s usefulness depends on the topic being researched. For example, CompGen is “a Category 5 hurricane of useful tools, including databases and primers about German-speaking areas and record groups; …[registration] is not required to access the site’s databases.”

Lessons learned from 1918 flu

People around the world are suffering from the current pandemic. However, much can be learned from the previous epidemic in 1918 that killed 50 to 100 million people globally. Read Kristen Rogers’ CNN article at and learn what science has taught us “about ending pandemics.”

US Marines ssed Navajo Code in WWII

During World War II, The US Marine Corps used Navajos as code talkers to send and receive messages in Navajo code that the Japanese could not break—thus providing military secrecy and shortening the war. The National Archives’ Prologue Magazine (Winter 2001, Vol. 33, No. 4) at features an article about these special veterans. In 2001 President George W. Bush presented the Congressional Gold Medal to the 29 Navajo code talkers for their wartime contributions. More recently the National Archives has posted a blog, “Unbreakable: Remembering the Code Talkers,” at . We all need to remember these special veterans.

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing

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