26 September 2016



link to this site to see some of the collection...

Mark Michaelson has collected more than 10,000 photographs of men and women of all races and ages, taken after their run-ins with the law...The New York-based art director and graphic designer said he has always been drawn to 'Wanted' posters, but noted when he came across his first mugshot, 'it was love at first sight'...

From murderers, pimps, hookers, thieves and miscreants, these are the faces of the many who were captured on camera at the lowest points of their lives.

And while many people would say mugshots of the past hold a certain curiosity, one man confesses what started as an initial fascination turned into an obsession.

Mark Michaelson has collected more than 10,000 photographs of men and women of all races and ages, taken after their run-ins with the law.

10 September 2016


Since my recent post about my senior citizen friend who had a well lived 90 plus years on this earth, word has reached me that a friend from the 1990's died a few months ago, though very little is being said as for the details, she left a son and husband.  A neighbor I posted about last year in my story about senior citizens, girlfriends, and good neighbors, has also died.

Walking the dog the other day, my senior citizen neighbor who had been in a nursing home recuperating when her roommate had a bad motorcycle accident and went into a coma last year, came over to me to tell me he had died.  She was rattled and I was shocked.  This man had really pushed himself to get well enough to go back to work and keep his job after being a coma for a month, and so swollen with edema that the physical therapy had to wait.  The macho type who liked to ride that motorcycle on the freeway between the cars, it had been difficult for him to accept taking a Paratransit van back and forth for a few months.
His motorcycle remained in front of the drive and a biker friend of his would come over on the weekends to help him get back on it.  His coworkers had donated their vacation time to him so that he could remain out of the office for a longer time than usually allowed, and over time, slowly, he had overcome much.  He had been through a lot of medical procedures and tests and was well enough to relax by going camping.  Now he had been found dead while out camping.  Likely his heart gave out, but since he was not at home or in the hospital, there will be the usual scientific probing called an autopsy.

DEATH RECORDS are public records.  Public does not mean that the details of a persons death are as easy to access as what used to be called a "police blotter," and is the report of crime and arrests in an area.  However, anyone can send away for a death record, usually to the county in which the person died and for a small fee.  Some states have you state or prove you are a close relation such as a child, sibling, parent, or spouse.  Some don't.  In some cases the death record a person can get only states that in fact the person has died, and that person would be named and a birth date and death date, no details.  In others you get a copy of the paperwork filed, usually with a doctor's signature, stating the cause of death.

For those of you who want to collect the DEATH RECORDS of your relatives not only because of genealogy interest, but for medical history, perhaps inclinations towards genetic issues in the family that DNA testing may or may not prove, here are some considerations.

1) Doctors are not and never were all equal, and the further you go back, the more likely it is that the doctor did not know what is known today by medical science.  Prior to X-rays and the sophisticated tests possible today, doctors did their best, but the full sum of their knowledge and education may have been lacking.  In other words, the diagnosis might be speculative.  (Remember that barbers - hair cutters - used to be surgeons - and that included pulling teeth!)

2) Poor people often did not call doctors, or called them only in emergencies.  This lead to more speculative diagnosis as well.  So consider the diagnosis.  For instance, if the record mentions broken bones or a pregnancy related death, it's probably correct.  However, cancer was not well understood, and might be called "tumor" or "long illness."  "Long illness could also be TB, or many other diseases.)

3) Currently, if you are a close family member and your loved one is being autopsied, before you give permission, be sure to state that you want a copy of the report.

4) FUNERAL HOME records and CEMETERY RECORDS tend to repeat the information on the DEATH RECORD.  You never know, however, when more details might be given.

5) Consider doing  some research about the state of the art in medicine, treatment of the disease at the time, and so on, in order to put the report into a historical perspective.

For instance, death by TB was considered so frightening that some health departments in the United States issued booklets to the citizens, advising them not only to cover their nose and mouth and wash their hands, but stated that the children on a mother with TB could not be raised by her.  (Many children were born with TB because their mothers were infected.)

DEATH and DEATH RECORDS always remind me of an old Italian proverb that goes like this, "After death, the King and the Pawn go back into the same box."

01 September 2016


I'm an unconventional genealogy researcher and writer. I'm working on a book about my adventures in this field, a book that's alternatively spiritual! I have at least two decades of experience as a genealogy researcher. I started with interviewing my own relatives years ago. I use books, maps, family artifacts and records, microfilms, and specialty databases, at private and governmental archives, museums, libraries and historical societies... And of course there is now the amazingly impactful Internet...