Friday, 27 May 2016

Findmypast adds Battle of Jutland collection

To mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland (31 May and 1st June 1916) Findmypast has compiled the names of British Royal Navy & Royal Marines who participated.
This new collection which has 38,931 records has been specially created from various service records from The National Archives. The largest part, 29,865 records, is from series ADM 188. Find details about those TNA records at Other series used are ADM 159: Royal Marines, service records, ADM 196: Royal Navy officers, service records, ADM 240: Royal Naval Reserve officers, service records and, ADM 377: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, ratings’ service records. The collection also uses transcripts created by Naval and Military Press.

Also new this week, of Irish interest, are 5,000 additions to the Ireland, Poverty Relief Funds 1821-1874 collection, and Irish micro-credit scheme which now totals 690,724 records as well as additions to the Irish newspaper collection.

OGS Conference 2016 in perspective

A week's time will see hundreds of genealogists and family historians gathering at the International Plaza Hotel, near Toronto International Airport, for the Ontario Genealogical Society annual conference. What will they hear? I've taken the titles and summaries of all the presentation and submitted them to word and phrase analysis.

Omitting stop words here are the most frequently appearing words in the titles and in summaries, with number of mentions:

RankTitle WordsRankSummary Words
1genealogy (16)1family (56)
2new (12)2records (45)
3research (9)3research (43)
3family (9)4genealogy (43)
5dna (8)5dna (33)
6history (6)6history (29)
7records (5)7online (23)
8tools (4)8genealogists (20)
8genetic (4)9resources (17)
8digital (4)9information (17)
9genealogical (17)

Here are the most mentioned two word phrases in the titles and summaries:

RankTitle PhrasesRankSummary Phrases
1what's new (9)1family history (22)
2family history (6)2genetic genealogy (10)
3new at (5)3social media (7)
4your family (4)3autosomal dna (7)
4new in (4)

Notice the prominence of DNA and genetic genealogy, along with the word new, in keeping with the theme of genealogy at the cutting edge. The lack of the words Ontario or Canada, is surprising even though a large majority of the presenters are Canadians, including many Ontarians.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

ONS demeans family history

My bedtime reading last evening included the report on the proposed questions for the 2021 census of England and Wales from the Office of National Statistics. I'd seen red when I read

ONS does not intend to collect any information requested solely for genealogical purposes.

It's not as if genealogist's didn't register interest. Of 1,095 responses to the consultation 592 were identified as being from genealogists. But only 12 of 279 from genealogical organisations.

The information the genealogists wanted collected, and that was rejected, is place of birth and maiden or former name.

Why the rejection. The weighting scheme used in the evaluation places a premium on the current use of the information, so the 100 year embargo on release of individual census data places a whole segment of society as beyond the pale. Apparently the ONS believes they should do nothing, take not the smallest extra step, with a view to adding to the historical value of their products.

While I slept Peter Calver of Lost Cousins was at work issuing an extra of his newsletter that arrived in my inbox at 4:15 a.m. EDT. You can read his more detailed analysis at

New at LAC

I stopped in briefly at Library and Archives Canada on Wednesday to be greeted by quite a hubbub in the sunken lobby. The source was a large number of school-kids there to see the exhibition Alter Ego: Comics and Canadian Identity featuring reproductions of art by Canadian comic book artists and of some of Canada’s superheroes. The exhibition also features comics about Canadian history, as well as selections from Canada’s contribution to the genre of biographical and realist comics. It runs through the summer. It was certainly good to see the attention being paid and enthusiasm for the exhibit by the youngsters.

After registering I proceeded to put materials that could not be carried to an upper floor in a locker, only to find the area has been reorganised. Lockers have been moved to both sides of the area previously reserved for coats as indicated by signs.

Part of the area where lockers were previously is now used for food and drink vending machines.

Adjacent areas are set up with tables and chairs with a good view outside where one can also go to relax on a fine day. That's not quite the facility to encourage social interaction one would hope for, the fifth floor cafeteria is still missed, but certainly more pleasant than the immediately previous arrangement in an enclosed room.

Ottawa Branch OGS May Meeting

At the meeting on Saturday 28 May, 13:00 – 15:00 Robin Cushnie will speak about the Osgoode Township Museum, a repository for indigenous Native and pioneer relics, artifacts, historical documents, and other articles of historical and genealogical significance.

The usual venue, City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive (Room 115), Nepean, ON and followed by a computer special interest group meeting.

You can also take advantage of a 10:30 am Genealogy: Back to Basics session, "Intro to FamilySearch & The Ottawa Family History Centre" with Shirley-Ann Pyefinch.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

British Home Children with no Canadian descendants

Continuing exploration of the basis of the oft quoted statistic that 10% (sometimes more) Canadians have a British home child ancestor, I've been looking for information on immigrants who did not have Canadian descendants.

John Sayers pointed me to a table published by Fegan Homes, that brought roughly 3,226 boys to Canada between 1885 and 1939.

It's a tabulation of boys Fegan brought to Canada between 1885 and 1908, a total of 1,861 boys.
Of those the organization had lost track of 856 as they were past the age when Fegan's had any further responsibility.

Of the remaining 1,005 about two-thirds were in Canada comprising those with a known address and those who had "gone of the North West" - likely using the farming skills they had developed to take up a land grant. The remaining one third had either returned to England (15%), gone to the USA (13%) or died (5%). While its possible some of the one-third may have had children who remained in Canada likely the majority did not.

If these figures are typical, and they may not be in which case I'd appreciate knowing the evidence, then the basis for calculating the number of British home child descendants in Canada could be significantly less than the 100,000 home children typically quoted.

Incidentally, if you're interested in the Fegan boys there's a database on the BIFHSGO website at under Home Children.

HSO AGM and presentation on Caledonia Springs Spa

This Friday, 27 May sees the Historical Society of Ottawa Annual General Meeting, sweetened by a presentation on Caledonia Springs Spa: Eastern Ontario's Hidden Secret by Hugh Reekie.
The event starts at 1:30 pm (30 minutes later than normal) at Routhier Community Centre, 172 Guigues Street at Cumberland in Ottawa.

Family Tree DNA to change how it assigns matches

Information has been posted by genetic genealogy uber-bloggers Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Kennett on a change coming at Family Tree DNA.
The Family Finder autosomal test will use new criteria to identify matches. Blaine has a nice flow diagram explaining the new criteria, but the bottom line is "Most people will see only minor changes in their matches, mostly in the speculative range. They may lose some matches but gain others."
If you want to be on the safe side you can download your present matches in CSV or Excel spreadsheet format from the bottom of your match listing.

Accidental Infant Death?

The 1880s saw growing concern at the high and rising number of deaths of children under one year old from suffocation in bed, routinely dismissed as accidental at Coroner's inquest hearings. Nationally 134 per thousand live births in 1881 rose to 174 in 1890.
In Bethnal Green in 1887, it was reported the 5 out of 6 infant deaths investigated were found to be suffocation cases in one room home in which entire family had to sleep in one bed. These deaths were said to be the result of a sleeping parent, or much older child, rolling on top of the smallest and accidentally killing them. Press reports noted that such  incidents were more common on Friday nights and Saturday mornings and Saturday nights and Sunday mornings and that this suggested that heavy drinking was a factor in the fatality.
Was there a darker explanation? How to be rid of an unwanted infant knowing that a Coroner's jury would be highly unlikely to pass any other verdict than accidental death?
It's likely a coincidence that this is following the August 1883 eruption of Krakatoa which sent a veil of dust into the stratosphere. Although, according to Wikipedia, average Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 °C (2.2 °F) records for England don't show especially cold winters.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

BYU Family History Library on YouTube

James Tanner, best known for his Genealogy's Star blog, is part of a team from the Brigham Young University Family History Library placing genealogy videos on YouTube.

His latest is Using the Google Goldmine for Genealogy, a gentle overview of some of the most useful resources from Google. I perhaps flatter myself thinking that I know as much as the average genealogist about the Google constellation of resources, but I had to pause the video to explore a couple of the resources James mentioned.  At just over an hour you need to set aside time to get the value from it.
Videos have been added to the BYU FHL collection for over a year. You might want to browse through the collection to see if any of the others address you genealogical concerns, or, as James mentions, search more generally on YouTube to see if you can save $300 by learning how to change the battery on your Prius.

SCGS Free Presentations Online

The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree is once again this year streaming live a selection of free presentations. The schedule is below:

Friday, June 3
FR008  German Immigrant Waves: Contrasts and Sources - James M.Beidler

FR018  Problems and Pitfalls of a "Reasonably Shallow" Search  - Elissa Scalise Powell, CG®, CGL®

FR027  Tracking Migrations and More: The Records of Old Settlers Organizations - Paula Stuart- Warren, CG®, FMGS, FUGA

FR035  Principles of Effective Evidence Analysis - George Goodloe Morgan

Saturday, June 4

SA009  Getting Started with Eastern European Research - Lisa A. Alzo, MFA

SA018  Be Your Own Digital Archivist: Preserve Your Research - Cyndi Ingle

SA022  German Names: Their Origins, Meanings, and Distribution - C. Fritz Juengling, PhD, AG®

SA032  Using Military Pension Files to Fill Gaps in Family History - J. H. Fonkert, CG®

SA037  Maximizing Your Use of Evidence - Thomas Wright Jones, PhD, CG®, CGL®, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

SA052  German Genealogy on the Internet: Beyond the Basics - Michael D. Lacopo, DVM

Sunday, June 5

SU009  The Firelands, the Connecticut Western Reserve and the Ohio Territory - Peggy Clements Lauritzen, AG®

SU010  Avoiding Shiny Penny Syndrome with Your Genealogy - Tessa Ann Keough

SU027  All Aboard: Staying on Track with Your Research - Barbara M. Randall

SU031  U. S. Passport Applications - Debbie Mieszala, CG®

They are free but you do have to register. See full details at

If you're at the Ontario Genealogical Society conference happening at the same time you won't be missing any UK, Irish or Canadian Jamboree presentations, there are none being streamed,

QFHS Offers Scan and Save Workshop

On Saturday, 28 May from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Marilyn Gillespie and Deborah Robertson are offering a Scan and Save Workshop at the Quebec Family History Society Heritage Centre and Library, 173 Cartier Avenue, Suite 102, Pointe-Claire

The hands-on workshop will cover:
What scanner should I use?
How do I use my scanner for the best results?
How do I save the files and find them later?
and much, much, more.

Participants are invited to bring a handful of photographs under 8x10 inches to scan,
a memory stick to take them home and your questions

Fees are $20.00 for QFHS members, $25.00 for non-members.
Reservations at 514-695-1502 or

Monday, 23 May 2016

The Lethbridge Census

In Canada the next census we'll see is that of the Prairie Provinces taken on 1 June 1926 and scheduled for release in 2018.

In looking for news on that I found reference in the Lethbridge Herald of 8 December 1916 to a municipal census being conducted by the Board of Trade. The article headed Another 1900 Names Go on Census Lists mentions the total of 3,800 names. Does is survive somewhere in a backroom of Lethbridge?

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada is still running TV commercials encouraging people to complete the present census. It may be part of the planned campaign, I hope so and not an indication returns are coming in slowly.

Many "British Home Children" Were Not Children

According to Library and Archives Canada "Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement."
According to an abstract for a presentation at OGS conference 2016 "Ten percent of the current Canadian population is descended from the up to 120,000 British children sent to Canada . . ."
The figure of 10%, or thereabouts, is frequently quoted although I've never had the basis satisfactorily explained.
Those figures depend on how one defines a child. Most estimates appear to be based on names and statistics recorded for those who came to Canada under programs operated by an agency, the most notable of which was Barnardos.
A common dictionary definition defines childhood as extending from infancy to puberty. A definition in terms of age is more administratively convenient with ages 14 and later 16 being applied consistent with the school leaving age. There is confusion between the state of being a child and a minor still legally under the care of a parent or guardian.
Library and Archives Canada's Home Child Records database at givess surname, given name(s), age, ship and year of arrival. There are limitations on the number of results you can view for a search. To explore how many would legally be considered children under various definitions I examined  a sample of immigrants with last name Smith who arrived between 1869 and 1899. There were 769 in total with ages given for 746 of them. Results are shown in the table.

AgePercentCumulative percent

This indicates that 39% of young immigrants in the LAC database arriving in the period were over the then current school leaving age of 14.
As a group the term "young immigrants" as used by Marjorie Kohli as the sub-title to her book The Golden Bridge, is more appropriate than children.