The Year Was 1936

The year was 1936, and the world watched as Nazi forces marched into the Rhineland. Following World War I, areas along the Rhine River were designated as a demilitarized zone by the Treaty of Versailles to serve as a kind of buffer between Germany and France. On March 7th, Hitler defied the treaty and troops rolled into the area unopposed, once again stirring fears of war.

Despite this aggressive move, the Nazis were putting on a show for the world and in August of 1936, the Summer Olympics were held in Berlin. Anti-Semitic signs were removed, and eight hundred Roma were detained near Berlin. There were fears for the safety of Black athletes competing in these games in the heart of Nazi Germany. Despite the whitewashing, Hitler’s views on anti-Semitism and racism were well known by this point. He had hoped that his “Aryan” Olympians would dominate in the games that year, and indeed they did, taking the lion’s share of the medals in those games. But Afrian-American athletes dominated in the Track and Field competition, undermining Hitler’s Aryan views.

Jesse Owens won four gold medals, beating the popular German track star, Luz Long, who had actually given him a tip that helped him to qualify. Long went on to publicly congratulate Owens after the event. The German crowd also gave Owens a standing ovation for his outstanding performance. Owens would later say, “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment.”

The German crowds gave Owens a standing ovation too. Sadly, Jesse Owens’ reception in his home country was cooler. After his initial return to a ticker tape parade, there was no invitation to the White House, and no endorsements. Following the parade, he had to take the freight elevator to a reception in his honor at the Waldorf-Astoria. He made some money through self-promotion, racing against horses, motorcycles, and people. He found success in starting his own Public Relations firm.

In Spain, 1936 marked the start of the Spanish Civil War. Following the abdication of the monarchy in 1931, there had been unrest among the ruling factions and in 1936, a military coup under the leadership of General Francisco Franco would begin. Franco’s troops received support from Germany and Italy, while the Republican government forces turned to Russia for aid. In 1939, Franco’s forces would prevail and he would go on to rule Spain until his death in 1975.

A number of significant weather events marked the year 1936 in the U.S. In Pittsburgh, following a year with heavy snows, March brought with in heavy rains, and when a storm dumped 1.75 inches on St. Patrick’s Day, causing the largest flood in Pittsburgh history. The downtown area was inundated and sixty people were killed in the flooding with another two hundred wounded.

Then in April a huge system moved through the Southeast sparking seventeen tornadoes that caused widespread wind damage and flooding. Two hundred and sixteen people were killed in Tupelo, Mississippi (the fourth deadliest tornado on record), and two hundred and three people perished in another twister that struck Gainesville, Georgia, making it the fifth deadliest tornado.

While the “Dust Bowl” years were winding down, they would not go out quietly. The summer of 1936 broke heat records across the North American continent. More than five thousand deaths are attributed to the heat in the U.S. and in Canada another 780 people perished. Ironically, that summer had followed one of the coldest winters on record. For more information, try a search for the name of your ancestors city, state, or province, and the words:
 heat wave 1936

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Photo Corner, 08 September 2008

Louis Emundo, his wife, Susan, daughter, Antoinette and her siblings, 1921 New York CityContributed by Katherine Joyce
This photo is of my grandfather, Louis Emundo, his wife, Susan, daughter, Antoinette (my mother-standing up), and her siblings.  This family picture was taken around 1921 in New York City.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Herbert HetheringtonContributed by Allan Williams
This is a photo of my partner’s grandfather, Herbert Hetherington, aged eight years in 1890 outside his mother’s pub, ‘The Cromwell View’ in Brightside Bierlow, Sheffield.  He grew up to become a bricklayer lining the furnaces in the steel mills there.

The Genealogy Guys to Celebrate 150th Episode!

The Genealogy Guys.bmpI was talking to our friend George Morgan this weekend and I was thrilled to hear that The Genealogy Guys Podcast will celebrate its 150th episode this coming week! Co-hosts George G. Morgan and Drew Smith published the first episode of the weekly podcast at on 4 September 2005. Since that time, the free podcast has become the longest continuously running, regular podcast in the world. 

A typical podcast includes genealogy news, responses to listener e-mail, and discussions of interesting genealogy-related topics. Book reviews and interviews are often a part of the mix. The casual style of the podcast makes you feel like you’re in the room with George and Drew, and The Guys are sometimes joined by The Genealogy Cats: Tosca, Fletcher, and Rex the Wonder Cat, who like get in a meow in every once in a while.

The Guys produce an episode each week and publish it to the Web. People can go to the podcast website to listen to current and all past episodes. You can also subscribe to the podcast at sites such as and other webcatcher sites on the Internet.

The landmark 150th episode will be available early next week and they tell me it will include a couple of surprises to veteran listeners. Ancestry is one of the sponsors of the podcast and this episode will include an interview Drew did with The Generations Network CEO, Tim Sullivan. This podcast is going strong, and George and Drew plan to keep on going.

Congratulations to George and Drew on their 150th episode!  We look forward to hearing many more episodes!

500 Years of London History to Launch Online-77 million Names chosen to host City of London’s historical ‘London records’- largest collection in existence 

The most comprehensive collection of historical London records, covering 500 years of the city’s history, is to be made available online for the first time. Following a lengthy tendering process, Ancestry has secured the exclusive online rights to digitize and host key records from London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) and Guildhall Library Manuscripts.

LMA’s historical record collection, which is owned and managed by the City of London, is considered to be of international importance, particularly given London’s prominence at the centre of the British Empire for almost 300 years from the mid-1700s.

As the City of London’s official partner, Ancestry will be responsible for providing global access to The LMA Collection. Original images of all historical records will be available on, the UK’s leading family and social history website, and more than 77 million names searchable using key information such as name, date and place.

Dating from the early 16th Century through to 2006, the collection details the lives of both princes and paupers. Included are parish records, school records, electoral registers, wills, lists of workhouse labourers from the Poor Law ledgers and a comprehensive list of those granted ‘Freedom of the City’.

The collection will take several years to index and image. Until now, those wishing to view records have had to visit LMA or the Guildhall Library, both based in Central London. Collection records have featured on Who do you think you are? episodes about the family histories’ of Patsy Kensit, Barbara Windsor and Stephen Fry.

Online access to LMA records has long been anticipated by family history enthusiasts in the UK and internationally: it will allow millions of people with ancestors who lived in or passed through London at some point in time to trace their roots, whether it be to the City’s slums or its more affluent boroughs.

The first records will launch on in early 2009, with the following prioritised for launch in the coming year:

Parish records – records from more than 10,000 Greater London parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials dating from the 1530s to the 20th Century
Poor Law documents – relating to the administration of poor relief, including workhouse registers from 1834 onwards
London school admissions – records from 843 individual London schools dating from the early Victorian times through to 1911, providing admission and personal details for millions of London students

Josh Hanna, Senior Vice President of Ancestry, International comments: “Ancestry is thrilled to be selected as the City of London’s official partner in hosting The LMA Collection, especially as these records have such broad appeal and significance to so many around the world.

“In advance of participating in the tender process, we asked our members in the UK and elsewhere what they wanted and their overwhelming response was for the LMA records – even more so than for the 20th Century censuses.”

Dr Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Director of the City of London’s Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Library, comments: “It has always been the City of London’s goal to make these important collections available to the wider public through digitisation and so we are delighted to announce Ancestry as our official partner in bringing 500 years of London’s history online.” Launches Global Public Indexing Initiative and Announces First Collaboration with the Federation of Genealogical Societies Introduces the World Archives Project to Preserve and Provide Online Access to Historical Records

Philadelphia – Sept. 4, 2008 –, the fgs2008.bmpworld’s largest online family history resource, today launched the World Archives Project, a global public indexing initiative designed to give individuals everywhere the opportunity to help preserve historical records. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is the first organization to partner with during this beta phase of this new venture, enlisting genealogists and family history enthusiasts to help test the software and prepare it for a more public release.

Now in public beta, the World Archives Project allows individuals to transcribe information from images of original historical records and to create indexes that will remain accessible for free on and on Ancestry’s localized sites in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Sweden, and Italy. Active contributors* will soon be able to access all original images that are part of the World Archives Project. Organizations can also partner with the World Archives Project and sponsor indexing projects. will donate a digital copy of the sponsored index and images back to partnering organizations.

“As a global society, we are falling further and further behind when it comes to digitizing historical records,” said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of “The World Archives Project allows us to work collectively as a community to preserve and to digitize records that will otherwise surely be lost to the wear and tear of time. By providing free access to these indexes on the world’s most popular family history website, we will provide millions of people with access to records that might help them unlock new clues about their ancestors.”

Already, several thousand individuals have joined the World Archives Project private beta, indexing Wisconsin Mortality Schedules and Nebraska State Censuses. Participants provided feedback and recommendations for this public beta release. Continue reading