Friday, 27 March 2015

FamilySearch adds United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920

Now available from FamilySearch, sourced from The National Archives, Kew, Surrey. come 43,542,691 images, name indexed, the records from:
WO 363 (War Office: Soldiers' Documents, First World War "Burnt Documents") surviving records of service for non commissioned officers and other ranks who served in the 1914-1918 war and did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of war in 1939 and
WO 364 (War Office: Documents from Pension Claims, First World War) service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who were discharged from the Army and claimed disability pensions for war service between 1914 and 1920 and did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.

FreeBMD March Update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday 20 March 2015 to contain 245,478,955 distinct records. That's an increase of 669,185 records since the February update. Years with major (more than 5,000) additions are: for births 1958, 1963-4, 1966. 1971, 1973-4; for marriages 1952, 1965-6, 1968, 1971-5; for deaths 1971-4.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Ancestry adds Bexley, Kent, records

Sourced from the Local Studies & Archive Centre, Bexleyheath, come the following Church of England records, with image originals:

Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985, 49,848 records
Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1558-1812, 27,113 records
Births and Baptisms, 1813-1925, 67,801 records
Marriages and Banns, 1754-1935, 61,801 records

and also, from the municipal cemeteries of Bexleyheath, Erith and Sidcup:
Cemetery Registers, 1879-1985, 53,843  records

Alan Lomax Archive Online

If you know anything about folk music and folklore you know the name Alan Lomax. An American, he recorded thousands of songs and interviews with folk artists from around the world. They're now online at including material from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Gene-O-Rama: 27-28 March

A reminder that the evening of Friday March 27 & all day Saturday 28 is the almost annual Gene-O-Rama organized by the Ottawa Branch of OGS.

This year the lead speaker is Janice Nickerson; details of the program and speakers are at

As usual there will be a marketplace with lots of goodies to purchase, displays by representatives of local non-profit heritage societies and a computer research room.

According to the Environment Canada forecast we should avoid the snowstorm that plagued the event last year so making your way to the Confederation Education Centre, 1645 Woodroffe Ave. Ottawa should be routine.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Historical Society of Ottawa Meeting: March 27

This Friday Bob Garcia is the invited speaker on ­ "The Best Laid Plans of the Royal Engineers: proposed and lost fortifications of Kingston, 1827­-1903"

The presentation will give an overview of the efforts of the Royal Engineers to provide suitable fortifications to protect Kingston, the military depot for Upper Canada, the Royal navy dockyard, and the southern entrance to the Rideau Canal in case of a war with the United States. The execution of their plans was often affected by the political situation back in Britain.

Bob is an historian with Parks Canada’s Cornwall office, with research responsibilities for Parks operated national historic sites across Ontario. He joined Parks Canada in 1991 as a member of the interpretative staff at Fort Malden National Historic Site. Bob has a bachelor’s degree in history from McGill University and a Master’s in library and information science from the University of Western Ontario. He is a past president of the Essex County Historical Society and has had a long ­time interest in Canadian military heritage.

The location is the lounge of the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Guigues Street at Cumberland in Ottawa.

Dr Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People

A blog post from the Wellcome Library reveals that these almost legendary pills were:

Originally produced and patented by Dr William Frederick Jackson, a physician in Ontario in 1866, the international success of the pills was due to the marketing skills of the Canadian politician, Senator George Taylor Fulford.
According to Ancestry William Frederick Jackson was born about 1853 in Brockville, Ontario
and died on 29 January 1935 in Leeds, Ontario. His father was William Hayes Jackson and his mother the delightfully named Polyanna Beach. His death notice in the Ottawa Journal of 30 January 1935 makes no mention of the pills. He is said to have been an associate of Alexander Graham Bell in the invention of the telephone and a graduate of McGill University where he was a fellow student of William Ostler.

A wikipedia article on George Taylor Fulford, also Brockville-born, gives further details on his involvement with Dr Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People and reports he was the first Canadian fatal automobile accident victim.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Presentation to Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto

This is rather last minute but if you're in Toronto on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 8:00 pm I'm sure you'd be welcome to come to my presentation to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto.

In DNA Tests for Genealogy: Not Just for Men: What’s New in Genetic Genealogy, I'll start by giving an overview of DNA testing for those with no experience and then discuss the application of autosomal DNA tests for the more advanced. To keep it right up to date I've added a couple of slides from the People of the British Isles project report published last week in Nature.

The presentation will be at Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Avenue, Toronto with doors opening at 7:30 p.m.

Terrible Terminal Two

Now back from my trip to England and Portugal and starting the process of recovering from the return journey. This was the first time I'd been through the new Terminal Two at Heathrow. If heading on a genealogy, or any other trip via Heathrow - beware.

Certainly compared to the old Terminal Three to which I've been accustomed the new one is spacious. Unfortunately the space is used in a feast or famine manner. You're forced to use the check in machines, even if you checked in online, to print a baggage tag. The machines are so user friendly they station lots of staff in the area to help you figure them out. Isn't that enough of a clue to Air Canada that they aren't part of good customer service, but maybe that's not important.

Following that you're directed through one of those back and forth cattle corridors to drop off your bags and go through a second passport check. That part of the Terminal Two experience is all too familiar to airline travelers. That's also true of the security check, another cattle-worthy experience.

The particular agony at Terminal Two is the exercise regime. According to the signs it's a 15 minute, repeat 15 minute, walk from the check in to the gate. No wonder these days travelers dress like they're going for a hike, at Terrible Terminal Two they are. There are moving walkways but the time indicated to get to the gate must include those and walking along them. Why couldn't Heathrow take the tip from Gatwick and Atlanta and install a train for such a distance - it can't be any less than between Gatwick's North and South Terminals.
That walk is also required on arrival, even worse coming as it does after a mostly sleepless overnight flight.
One day a major air terminal will rethink the process and focus it on the traveler experience, not just the cost efficiency for the airline and terminal operation. But I'm not expecting that day to come anytime soon at Heathrow.

I never thought I be sentimental about the old Terminal Three with all its faults.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine: April 2015 issue

Given the magazine's title you expect lots of coverage of the WDYTYA? Live coming up in Birmingham, April 16-18 at the National Exhibition Centre. We get it in a eight page section dedicated to the event. Cutting through the hype, and the grumbling about the location from those whose ambit never wanders north of the M25, it appears attendees will enjoy an experience which will be pretty much a continuation of that of the previous years at London's Olympia.
Most of the exhibition area is dedicated to companies and nonprofit organizations showing what they have to offer. Ancestry is the biggest and will continue to offer open access to their website with staff experts on hand to provide help in getting the most out of the service. All the other major commercial companies will be present including Family Tree DNA which will again offer its own lecture theatre. One of their presentations I expect will have standing room only will be by Turi King, the leader of the project that identified the skeleton the in Leicester car park as Richard III. That's one I'll be sorry to miss.
There are lots of other good presentations in a programme organized by the Society of Genealogists by celebrities and genealogy celebrities including Else Churchill, Audrey Collins, Janet Few, Kirsty Gray, Celia Heritage, Debbie Kennett and Rebecca Probert. There are even a few men speaking!
This is supposed to be a review of the magazine, not the event, so lets's not overlook the other content.
The article featured on the cover is searching pre-1837, when civil registration started in England and Wales By Pam Ross. The task gets increasingly difficult as you move back in time. Parish records of baptisms, marriages (banns and licences), and burials are the most common sources, especially helpful if used to reconstruct families. Wills, military records, apprenticeships, poor law, manorial records and early newspaper are all included in this useful overview.
I was surprised to read in the editor's introduction that Chris Paton was the author of an article on DNA. Chris is a prolific author but DNA is not one of the topics I've seen him delve into previously. In fact the author is Chris Pomeroy, an established author on DNA topics. He looks ahead on where DNA testing for genealogy is going quoting extensively from Debbie Kennett. I think he jumps the gun a little on dismissing STR testing of Y-DNA which in my view still has life in it, but is right on in looking forward to the time when we'll have a readout of our full genomes, and although he doesn't say so, hopefully fully phased so we'll know which of each chromosome pair came from which parent.
Other articles worth scanning include the top five websites for researching aristocratic ancestors by Jonathan Scott and an article by regular contributor Alan Crosby on tax records.
Read the complete table of contents at

Monday, 23 March 2015

Genetic Genealogy at OGS Toronto Branch

The program is now available and registration open for OGS Toronto Branch's June 6, 2015 all day event on genetic genealogy. Here's the promo from
Are you wondering what genetic genealogy is all about? Or have you already had some DNA tests done for yourself and your relatives but don’t know what the results mean? Do you already use DNA testing effectively but would like to learn more? If any of these questions apply to you, this one-day workshop on genetic genealogy may help you to advance your knowledge of this fascinating and rapidly changing field of research.
The topic of genetic genealogy is broad so our primary focus will be on the main types of DNA testing that are used by genealogists as well as how the results from genetic testing are used in conducting or supporting genealogical research.
Speakers are, in alphabetical order:

Sue Fenn, Maurice Gleeson, Grant Karcich, Ken Parks , David Pike, John D Reid, Linda Reid,  Susan Reid, James F.S. Thomson.

I shall be presenting the talk Did DNA Prove The Skeleton Under The Leicester Car Park Was Richard III? which I gave in Portugal last week.

I anticipate the day will sell out. Don't hesitate --- ensure a seat and grab the discount for early registration.