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# Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Tips for Playing the Genealogy Odds in Las Vegas
Posted by Diane

Do you plan to seek your genealogical fortune at next week's National Genealogical Society 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas?

The conference, May 8-11, offers opportunities to take classes; shop for genealogy books, software, subscriptionwebsites and more; collaborate with other researchers; and take local history tours.

Valley of Fire State Park

Nearly all of present-day Nevada was in Utah territory from after the Mexican-American War until 1861. The discovery of gold in California in 1848, and silver in Virginia City's Comstock Lode in 1859, sent miners rushing through the area, leading to the formation of Nevada Territory in 1861. Nevada became a state three years later.

As the Comstock Lode dwindled during the 1880s, Nevada entered a depression that lasted until new mineral deposits were found in 1900. The railroad and federally funded irrigation projects helped, too.

Nevada legalized gambling in 1931. The Las Vegas Sun has more local history here.

If you plan to play the genealogy odds during your trip to the NGS conference (or from home), improve your chances with these Las Vegas research tips.

Local repositories you can visit in person and/or online include: These tips and resources also will help you find Las Vegas and Nevada ancestors:
  • Statewide birth and death certificates begin in 1911, and marriages and divorces don't start until 1969. These, of course, document many couples from other states who wed in Vegas (and perhaps then changed their minds about too-hasty vows). Many counties have marriage and divorce records back as far as 1862; nearly all began birth and death registration in 1887.
  • Got miners in your family tree? The Nevada Historical Society in Reno has mining company records including payrolls, customer lists and an “accident file” of miners killed in work-related mishaps before 1900.

Research your genealogy across the USA with Family Tree Magazine's newly updated State Research Guides e-book.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Research Tips
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 13:59:50 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 26 April 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 22-26
Posted by Diane

  • The Online Historical Directories website, which lists links to old city and other directories, has been updated with links for Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Check out the updates here.
  • Michael Savoca, a college junior from Toms River, NJ, has won a $500 grant for genealogy research and education from the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Grant program, as well as registration for the upcoming Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. Michael has assisted with records for the Gente di Mare Italian website, been an active member of several online genealogy forums, and volunteered at his local FamilySearch Center. He also has researched his Croatian family history on site in the village of Zablaće.

    The grant, awarded annually since 2010 to a genealogist aged 18 to 25, is named for the mother of The Family Curator blogger Denise Levenick.

Genealogy books | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 26 April 2013 16:38:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Geni Adds Smart Matches and Record Matches from
Posted by Diane

Family tree site, acquired by MyHeritage last November, has now implemented's Smart Matching and Record Matching features.
  • Smart Matching automatically searches for matches to your tree in other trees on (note that trees don't yet get matches in trees).
  • Record Matching compares the profiles in your tree to the historical records at MyHeritage, and alerts you when a relevant document is found. It also automatically creates a citation when you confirm a record and add it to's World Family Tree.
You can see the Record Matches and Smart Matches in the profiles on your tree, as well as in your Merge Center, where you can review and confirm or reject them.

You must have a SuperSearch data subscription to access Smart Matches. You'll be able to see some Record Matches for free, but you'll need to have a SuperSearch subscription to see full information on records that are included in's premium record collections.

You'll find a detailed how-to for using Smart Matches and Record Matches on the blog.

Learn more about the different subscriptions here.

Here's's FAQ about its acquisition of Geni.

Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:58:51 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Online Genealogy Milestones for WikiTree, FamilySearch and Us!
Posted by Diane

Two—no, make that three—genealogy organizations have reached milestones this week:
  • WikiTree, a genealogy community with a goal to build a free worldwide family tree, now has 5 million ancestor profiles. The site's founders say its "slow-growth" approach—encouraging the careful addition of profiles over "bulk" uploads—makes this milestone an important one. 
You can hear from WikiTree founder Chris Whitten in the January 2013 Family Tree Magazine Podcast, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke. 

Browse or search the profiles by surname here. If you want to build a tree there, start with the "How WikiTree Works" page.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | Sales | Social Networking
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 12:49:33 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Awww, Shucks. We Like You, Too!
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine has reached 10,000 likes on Facebook! We're thanking our Facebook fans by sharing a coupon code good for 15% off your next purchase, plus free shipping if used before May 1. Sales | Social Networking
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 12:45:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
New Value Packs: New England Genealogy and Census Research
Posted by Diane

If you have New England ancestors, or any US ancestors, at least one of these value packs from Family Tree Magazine will help you discover more about them.

They're both bargain-priced at, and even better, they both qualify for free shipping:
  • The New England Genealogy Value Pack gathers tools for researching your family tree in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. You'll get webinars, our newly updated State Research Guides, webinars and the Researching your Colonial New England Ancestors book.
Get all the details on the New England Genealogy Value Pack here.
  • Want search strategies for hard-to-find relatives in the census? Techniques to go beyond your basic names, ages and relationships, and mine census records for clues to your ancestors' everyday lives and which records you should look for next?
Our Census Research Value Pack has video classes and books to improve your census research skills. Get all the details on the Census Research Value Pack here.

census records | Sales
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 12:11:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 19 April 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 15-19
Posted by Diane

Version 7 also lets you use the sites Record Matching service, which automatically searches MyHeritage collections and trees for your ancestors (you'll need a subscription to view some results). Other updates include a more graphical look and support for 40 languages, including Chinese and Korean. Read more details on the MyHeritage blog.
  • There's a new database of burials at Hart Island, the public burial ground ("potter's field") for New York City. The earliest recorded burial there dates to May 1881; however, the database covers burials since 1977.
  • A new PBS series called "Genealogy Roadshow" is looking for people with family history mysteries to be on the show. Check out the casting call here; the deadline is May 12.
  • Heredis is having a sale through April 28 on its family tree software for PC (37 percent off, at $24.99) and Mac (33 percent off, at $39.99). Find out more about the software at the Heredis website.

Cemeteries | Genealogy Software | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, 19 April 2013 14:41:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 18 April 2013
Two Genealogy Databases to Search While They're Free
Posted by Diane

You have a couple of days left to take advantage of these free database offers from sites where you'd normally need to subscribe or hope your library subscribes:
  • has made its marriage records collection free to search through April 21 at midnight ET. These records are great sources for female ancestors' maiden names and sometimes the couples' parents' names, in addition to the marriage date and place. You'll need to register for a free account, if you don't already have one, to view records.
  • ProQuest's Historic MapWorks Library Edition (link to it from this page) is free to at-home users through April 20 in honor of National Library Week. Here, you can browse by place or search for an address, keyword or GPS coordinates to find old landowner and other maps. (The landowner maps aren't indexed by name here, so you need to search for the place and then find the person's name on a map.) You can download maps and overlay the maps with Google maps to pinpoint the modern location.

    I searched for Colerain township in Ohio, in hopes of finding the location of my Depenbrock relatives' farm—and I found it. This is part of an 1884 township map; I've highlighted the farm.

The Depenbrock property borders on the land of my great-great-grandmother's brother's wife's family. | Free Databases | Land records | Research Tips
Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:33:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 16 April 2013
New Adds Photo Feature and More
Posted by Diane

The "Coming Soon" banner on the website since last month's RootsTech conference has been replaced by this:

FamilySearch just flipped the switch on several site enhancements and a polished new look. FamilySearch's announcement says the site enhancements will "allow visitors to collaboratively build their family tree online, preserve and share precious family photos and stories, and receive personal research assistance—all for free."

Besides the recently released FamilySearch Family Tree, new features include:
  • Photos and Stories: Upload photos of ancestors, share them through social media, tag them and add them to profiles in your tree.
  • Fan Chart: Turns your FamilySearch family tree into an interactive fan chart, or lets you add your tree to FamilySearch as you create the fan chart
  • Live Help: Call or chat with a FamilySearch volunteer online, or find a FamilySearch Center/Family History Center near you
I clicked on the photos area, and it looks like FamilySearch is using an invitation system to avoid overloading the site. I got a message that all of today's invites are taken, and to check back at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

What do you think of the new

Tuesday, 16 April 2013 13:36:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Introducing the 2013 Family Tree 40 Genealogy Blogs!
Posted by Diane

Seeking genealogy news, help understanding your family tree software, essential research advice, or simply the feeling that someone shares the family history journey you've embarked on?

All these and more are available from the bloggers on the 2013 list of the Family Tree 40 top genealogy blogs. Congratulations to these dedicated researchers and writers!

To quote Family Tree Magazine's contributing editor David A. Fryxell, who wrote about the Family Tree 40 in our May/June 2013 issue (on newsstands and at April 30), "Let’s tip our collective hats to those bloggers who stick with it and keep sharing their wit, wisdom and family history finds with us ... In making this year’s selections, we paid particular attention to that stick-to-itiveness standard." And "We love blogs packed with information, but we also adore those brimming with the blogger’s personality."

You can read about the Family Tree 40 and click through to each blog from They're arranged into these categories:
  • Good advice (genealogy tips and how-tos)
  • Tech support (reviews and instructions for genealogy technology)
  • Gravestone matters (tombstone photos, cemetery research tips)
  • Heritage help (researching ancestors of specific ethnicities and national backgrounds)
  • Shop talk (genealogy news and new products)
  • Story time (the bloggers' personal research and family history)
We also encourage genealogists to look beyond our list to find genealogy blogs that might help answer their research questions, illuminate an ancestral hometown, or bring entertainment to a ho-hum day. The combo of research needs and blog-reading preferences is different for every genealogist, and we all can be thankful that topics and writing styles in the genealogy blogging community are just as varied.

Here are a few ways to find genealogy blogs you'll love:
As the main blogger here at the Genealogy Insider blog, I know how hard it can be to find the inspiration—and the time—to put up a post every day or several times a week. I give personal props to the Family Tree 40 and all the genealogy bloggers out there. Thanks for the work you do!

Family Tree 40
Tuesday, 16 April 2013 12:58:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, 12 April 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 8-12
Posted by Diane

  • Subscription genealogy website announced on Facebook that its collection of marriage records will be free April 17-21 (so you have a few days to plan your research). You'll need to register for a free account to view the records.
  • ProQuest offers databases you can usually use only in libraries that subscribe to the services, but during National Library Week this week, you can try out several of the databases at home for free. The one I see that most genealogists will be into is Historic MapWorks Library Edition, which contains maps dating back to the 1700s. I found my Depenbrock family's farm in Colerain Township, Ohio, on an 1884 land owner map in less than 5 minutes! Go here to link to this and the other free databases. | Free Databases | Land records
Friday, 12 April 2013 14:54:33 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 11 April 2013
Your Ancestor's SS-5: Get It Before It's Too Late
Posted by Diane

It's time to look up your 20th-century ancestors in the Social Security Death Index and request their Social Security number applications (SS-5s) if you haven't already.

Threats to close the Social Security Death Index are resurfacing with a vengeance: President Obama's budget proposal would give the Commissioner of Social Security license to grant or deny access to the SSDI and our ancestors' SS-5 forms. It makes the records' availability subject to a bureaucrat instead of the Freedom of Information Act.

Other genealogy bloggers have expertly explained why there are more effective ways to prevent tax fraud and protect the identities of taxpayers, while also meeting the needs of genealogy hobbyists and those who use Social Security records to identify survivors of deceased servicemembers and unclaimed persons. Read more from:
I'll explain what the SSDI is and why it's important to genealogy: The SSDI is a computerized file of deceased individuals whose deaths have been reported to the Social Security Administration. It contains mostly deaths from 1962 and later, though my great-grandfather who died in 1949 is listed.

You can search the SSDI on websites including and (which excludes recent deaths) and order your ancestor's SS-5 for a fee from the Social Security Administration under the Freedom of Information Act.

Once you find an ancestor in the SSDI, you can request his or her SS-5, which requests parents' names, among other information. This is the only record I've ever found giving my great-grandfather's mother's name.

Here's how to order your ancestor's SS-5.

Public Records | Vital Records
Thursday, 11 April 2013 12:31:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
5 Strategies to Overcome Genealogy Brick Walls
Posted by Diane

Today I'm sharing five strategies for dealing with tough genealogy problems in the spirit of next week's Genealogy Brick Wall Buster's online workshop.

The workshop runs April 19-26 and offers Family Tree Magazine's best advice for overcoming research obstacles, plus the opportunity to get expert advice on your brick wall from professional researcher Lisa A. Alzo.

  • Bend the rules of genealogy that say to "work backward one generation at a time." Skip a generation, identifying your ancestor's grandparents by using what you know about his cousins or aunts and uncles; then maybe you can work forward to the missing link of his parents.
  • For immigration brick walls, search passenger lists for friends and neighbors the person might have traveled with, then examine the list for your ancestor's (possibly garbled) name. If you can't find a town of origin, use censuses to see if his neighbors are from the same country, then study those folks. Here's how an immigration brick wall came tumbling down for me.
  • Once you've exhausted the census and other common sources, try less-obvious types of paperwork your ancestors might have left. Land records are one example. Is your brick-wall ancestor mentioned in school records, occupational records, meeting minutes or old manuscripts? Use your imagination, your library and online catalogs, such as FamilySearch's and the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections.
  • Our contributing editor David A. Fryxell advises, "As Sherlock Holmes liked to lecture Dr. Watson, 'When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.' So consider even unlikely possibilities when confronting your brick walls: Could there have been two men by the same name in the county at that time? Might your third-great-grandfather have married his cousin? Maybe your great-grandmother remarried between censuses, thus changing her name." 
Click here to see the program for the Genealogy Brick Wall Busters workshop. After you complete your registration, you can submit your brick wall to Lisa via a form in your confirmation email.

Family Tree University | Research Tips
Thursday, 11 April 2013 10:48:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Help Us Get to 10,000 Likes! (There's Something in It for You)
Posted by Diane

Why should you help Family Tree Magazine get to 10,000 likes on Facebook? Here are three reasons:
1. I've always wanted to be popular.
2. If the "Microsoft Word Will Never Understand That My Name is NOT a Spelling Mistake" page can get 161,707 likes, we can get 10,000.
3. When we hit 10,000 likes, we'll post a coupon of our fans' choosing! Vote in our Facebook poll for either 30% off a Family Tree University course or 15% off your entire purchase at
Visit Family Tree Magazine on Facebook  to vote for your favorite deal and share it with your friends.

Genealogy fun | Sales | Social Networking
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 14:56:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 09 April 2013
Genealogy Video Tip: Finding Old Land Records in Illinois
Posted by Diane

Our Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar Thursday evening, April 11, picks up where our Illinois Genealogy Crash Course left off, introducing you to more-advanced, lesser-known genealogy resources ito trace ancestors in Illinois.

In this video tip from the Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar, presenter David A. Fryxell gives you resources for finding land records in Illinois, from the days of French, then British, then Virginia jurisdiction, through the public domain lands era, to more-recent deed records.

You've still got a couple more days to register for the Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar! Learn more about the webinar and sign up at

Land records | Research Tips | Videos | Webinars
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 14:55:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Intro to Genetic Genealogy Testing Crash Course
Posted by Diane

Is a DNA test the answer to your genealogy prayers or a waste of money? Well, it depends on the test you take and how you use the results. Blaine Bettinger, aka The Genetic Genealogist, will help you understand how to use genetic genealogy as part of your family history research in our Intro to DNA Crash Course webinar on April 25.

If you've:
  • considered taking a DNA ancestry test
  • been overwhelmed by the options for genetic genealogy tests to take and testing companies to use
  • wondered about the differences among Y-DNA, mtDNA and autosomal tests
  • thought that genetic genealogy probably isn't worth it for your research, anyway
  • taken a test and been unsure what to do with your results
... this webinar is for you.

Participants in the Intro to DNA Crash Course webinar will be able to ask their genetic genealogy questions in a Q&A session during the webinar. They'll get a copy of the webinar slides, access to watch the webinar again as often as desired, and our genetic-genealogy guide Research Strategies: Going Beyond Surnames.

Here are the webinar details:
  • Date: Thursday, April 25
  • Starting time: 7pm EST/6pm CST/5pm MST/4pm PST
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Price: $49.99 (sign up by April 18 to save $10!)
Register for the Intro to DNA Crash Course webinar here.

Genetic Genealogy
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 14:11:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 05 April 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has added 23.9 million indexed records and images to the free, with new browsable image collections from Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, England, Italy, Mexico and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 19.2 million document images from the new collection United Kingdom, WWI Service Records 1914-1920; 2 million index records from the collection US WWI Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; and almost the 931,000 index records from the collection US New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1925-1942. Search or browse these databases from the chart here.

  • In case you missed it (and were wondering), Irish genealogy research company Eneclann has researched Tom Cruise’s roots. The actor's real last name is Mapother, but Cruise actually is a family name. His great-grandfather, born in 1876 to Mary Pauline Russell Cruise and her second husband Thomas O’Mara, took the surname of his half-siblings and thus became Thomas Cruise Mapother I. Read more and download a copy of the family tree here.

Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | German roots | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 05 April 2013 13:44:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 04 April 2013
10 Tips for Researching Genealogy in Court Records
Posted by Diane

I'm pretty excited about our new Mastering Genealogy Research in Court Records course from Family Tree University. I've found this to be one of the most intimidating areas of genealogy research, but also one of the most rewarding—my court records finds have included an ancestral divorce filing in Texas and a revealing divorce case in Kentucky.

Mastering Genealogy Research in Court Records instructor Sunny Jane Morton shared these tips for a productive visit to the courthouse (and why you might not need to make a special trip to the courthouse, after all). The first session of this class starts April 8, and if you want to register, you can use code FTU0413 to save 20%.
  •  If you're traveling to a courthouse or another repository to research county-level records, download and fill out a Research Repository Checklist. It'll help you plan your visit, bring appropriate materials and leave extra stuff behind. Bring this checklist with you to the courthouse, along with a County Research Resources worksheet (available to course participants) listing which office has which types of records and what records you’re looking for.

  • Arrive as early as possible in the workday. You never know how much time your research will take.

  • Dress professionally but in comfortable, washable clothes. You may be on your feet a lot of the day in tight, hard-to-reach or dusty spaces. Yet, you'll get the respect you deserve as a researcher when you look presentable.

  •  Carry a minimum of materials with you. There probably won't be a secure place to set up a laptop computer or table space where you can spread out your notes.

  • Confirm copying policies ahead of time. You may be permitted to use a wand scanner or the digital camera on your phone, or you may have to buy a copy card. Some places permit only taking notes.

  • When you need to ask the staff a question, think of the most direct way to ask. Don’t share your family history. Say, “Where would I look for an index to probates or intestate proceedings for 1912?”, not “My great-grandfather died in 1912 in Chester Township and I think my great-grandmother was the executor of the estate….”

  • Be observant. In addition to the records you came for, keep an eye out for clues to other court records about your family.

  • Be thorough. If you don’t find what you expect to, ask a clerk a specific question. “Where else other than deed books might I find someone disposing of land between 1843 and 1846?” You might be shown a separate book of sheriff’s sales if your ancestor fell behind on taxes.

  •  If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask politely whether someone in the county offices has a lot of experience with the historical records. If that person is available, he or she may be able to tell you whether an ancestor could have married by banns, or how likely it was that African-Americans would've had their deaths reported or estates filed during the Jim Crow years.

  • Finally, not every court record requires a trip to the courthouse. You might discover that records you need are microfilmed or digitized at the state archives or In some cases, a combination of online research, microfilm rental and requesting copies from the courthouse will suffice.

court records | Family Tree University | Research Tips
Thursday, 04 April 2013 09:25:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 02 April 2013
Insider Secrets & Unique Records for Genealogy Research in Illinois
Posted by Diane

Hit a brick wall in your genealogy research into your Illinois ancestors? Or you just need a little push beyond basic records to take your family tree to the next level?

We're about to introduce you to sources that can help you dig deeper into your Land of Lincoln family tree.

In our Insider Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar, Family Tree Magazine's founding editor David A. Fryxell will 
  • take you on a tour of unique record sets including court records, tax records, military rosters and more.
  • show you how to navigate the Illinois State Archives
  • share resources for cluster and collateral searches in Illinois
  • offer advice on the  Illinois research problems from webinar attendees (submit questions in advance or during the webinar)
Plus, webinar participants will receive Family Tree Magazine's newly revised Illinois State Research Guide and our Chicago City Guide. Participants also get a PDF of the presentation slides and access to view the recording again as often as desired.

Click here for more information about the Insider Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar. Register on or before April 8 to save $10!

Update: Webinar registrants also can save $15 on our State Research Guides CD or eBook, with guides to researching genealogy in every US State.

Editor's Pick | Webinars
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 13:49:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Civil War Confederate Records Free on Fold3 in April
Posted by Diane

Got Southern ancestors? Military records website Fold3 has announced that to commemorate Confederate History Month, it's offering free access to all of its Confederate records for the entire month of April.

Those free records include:
  • Confederate soldier service records
  • Southern Claims Commission records: claims filed by Southern citizens for property seized by Union troops
  • Confederate Amnesty Papers: Confederates' applications for pardon to President Andrew Johnson
  • Confederate Citizens File: claims filed with the Confederate government by Southern citizens
  • Union Citizens File: Union Army records of provost court papers, orders, passes, paroles, claims for compensation, etc.
  • Civil War subversion investigations
  • Confederate Casualty Reports
  • Confederate Navy Subject File: papers including paymasters' vouchers relating to ships, personnel and more
You'll need to register for a free Fold3 account in order to view the records. Start searching Fold3's Confederate records collection here.

Civil War | Military records
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 13:02:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]