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One of these, please…

Today is Giving Tuesday.

A day not to get like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but a day to give — to support a program or a group that is near and dear to our hearts.

It’s described as

a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.1

And oh… there are so many worthy programs and groups in the genealogical community that so much need our help and our support.

I could write for hours and not begin to catalog them all.

But I’m only going to highlight two.

Two that are very special to me and that I can unhesitatingly say will benefit the entire genealogical community if you join me in supporting either — or both! — of them.


First and foremost, and this will come as no surprise — Preserve the Pensions.

I’ve written about this before,2 and I’ll keep writing about this until every last one of these precious documents has been digitized and put online. The War of 1812 pension files are among the most requested and used records at the National Archives here in the United States.

They are rich in details of military service, chock full of original records evidencing births, marriages and deaths, and among the best genealogical treasures that our National Archives has to offer. In part because of their age, in part because they are so often requested by researchers, however, these are also among the most fragile genealogical treasures that our National Archives has to offer — and in desperate need of permanent preservation.

That’s where Preserve the Pensions comes in — it’s crowdsourcing the digitization of these records in glorious full color scans that will then be available online — forever — free.

Every page costs about 45 cents to digitize. So every dollar we contribute to Preserve the Pensions pays for a bit more that two pages. But that dollar is matched by, so that we’re really getting close to four and a half pages for every dollar.

This is one of the worthiest causes in all of genealogy and it’s one I’m choosing to support today. You can just click on the image above and it’ll take you right to the donation page.


Second, with tears in my eyes but a smile on my face, I’m choosing to donate to the memory of John Martino, one of the very best of our community, whose death yesterday came as a blow not just to those of us fortunate enough to have met John but to all of us.

Let me quote from Terry Koch-Bostic, president of the New York Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and a trustee of the National Genealogical Society:

John’s … enthusiasm, sense of humor and special brand of warmth will be missed by all who knew him. … (He) is a hero of mine. He had a great love of history and genealogy, as well as spunk, conviction and vision. Leading the charge, John along with Don Eckerle and Bob Boeckle, motivated thousands of volunteers from (the German Genealogy Group, the Italian Genealogy Group), the Long Island Genealogy Federation and beyond to create the free, digitized indexes to databases for New York City (1847 to 1948) and Long Island vital records and naturalizations (over 16 million records). This monumental project is still ongoing after more than ten years. These indexes have given family historians all over the United States and the World much needed clues to find their family’s records.

In 2014, John, Don and Bob were recognized for their work by the National Genealogical Society. They were presented the NGS 2014 Award of Merit at the NGS Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia.

Right up to his last days, John wanted to be involved in his team’s ongoing projects. He wouldn’t rest, always thinking of all the work to be done.3

And, Terry writes: “Please consider making a donation in John’s name … to continue the work he loved and we have greatly benefited from.”4

Oh yeah. Absolutely. Clicking on the image above here will take you to the donation page for the German Genealogy Group and continue the work in which John was so instrumental.

Let’s go out on a high note, of giving and sharing. A real high note for the year — maybe even a C note!5

And, by the way, if things are just too tight financially at this time of year, consider giving a little of your time. One option: volunteering to help with one of those New York database projects by contacting Don Eckerle through the German Genealogy Group.

It’s #GivingTuesday.

Let’s do this.


  1. What is #GIVINGTUESDAY?,” #GivingTuesday ( : accessed 30 Nov 2015).
  2. See most recently Judy G. Russell, “The last quarter mile,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 19 Sep 2015 ( : accessed 30 Nov 2015).
  3. Terry Koch-Bostic to NY APG members, email, 1 Dec 2015.
  4. Ibid.
  5. That’s $100, by the way — C stands for “centum,” the Latin word for 100. Yeah, I know, I know, getting old… But that’s what I’m committing today, to each of these.
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