Saturday, 30 August 2014

Newspaper news

What do Australia, Finland, Russia, Vietnam and the United States have that Canada doesn't? The answer, according to this blog post, historic/old digitised newspaper sites that offer public text correction/transcription. Pioneered by the National Library of Australia on the Trove site crowd-sourcing OCR correction is catching on.
Meanwhile OCR capabilities for old newspaper digitization are improving slowly. A paper from UC Berkeley claims to achieve a word error rate of 25.6 compared to 49.2 for ABBYY Fine Reader a widely used commercial product.

Will parliament return the long-form census?

Lots of genealogists will cheer to learn that Ted Hsu, MP for Kingston and the Islands, has put forward a private member’s bill to protect the independence of Statistics Canada and reinstate the long-form census. Now that we know the replacement survey cost more to provide less statistically valid data data it only makes sense.
Or does it? Another Ottawa Citizen article reports that Statistics Canada is exploring compiling a virtual census from a variety of databases. Although a couple of censuses away, and if privacy concerns can be addressed, the agency leaders believes major costs could be saved - although no consideration of genealogical requirements appears to have been given.

BIFHSGO Conference: Debbie Kennett blog

Debbie Kennett who is coming to the BIFHSGO conference, 19-21 September writes a blog characterized as "The day-to-day activities of the Cruwys/Cruse one-name study with occasional diversions into other topics of interest such as DNA testing and personal genomics."

If you subscribe you won't be overwhelmed with posts, just three in August so far. Two of them are DNA related; the emphasis has shifted from the Cruwys name at the start in April 2007 to genetic genealogy now. Following Debbie's blog is not a great way to keep up with developments in genetic genealogy - with a British perspective.

Find the blog, plus information of Debbie's books and publications, at

Friday, 29 August 2014

WDYTYA: Minnie Driver and Brendan O'Carroll

Less than 5 min. into Wednesday evening's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on cable channel TLC actress Minnie Driver found her way from Los Angeles to London and the hidden story of her father's Second World War heroism while in the RAF. Researching his parents, and tracing forward to descendants of living siblings illustrated how much easier genealogical searching is in England and Wales with open access, at a price, to national BMD records than in Canada or the US where they are held on the sub-national level and subject to long embargo periods.

The BBC episode on Thursday evening took place in Ireland and featured comedian Brendan O'Carroll trying to get to the truth behind the 1920 murder of his grandfather during the civil war just prior to independence. It was a fascinating if not very typical Who Do You Think You Are? episode, more like CSI. To O'Carroll's surprise the identity of the likely murderer, according to IRA sources, was revealed. One criticism, a segment showed O'Carroll supposedly searching a newspaper on microfilm, an almost laughably casual approach, flipping through images which in most cases would lead to missing vital information.

BIFHSGO conference: Paul Milner blog

Paul Milner who is coming to the BIFHSGO conference, 19-21 September, writes a blog which highlights British Isles research, resources and book reviews, and occasionally his own ancestors.

Recent Posts have included a three part series on search techniques for the findmypast website, the Guardian newspaper collection of Untold Stories of World War One and, a book review of Tracing your Army Ancestors. Second Edition, by Simon Fowler.

These and earlier articles, back to February last year, are found at

Think Rootstech 2015

Registration for Rootstech 2015 is open. The event runs February 11–14 in Salt Lake City, Utah and will be even better as it teams up with The Federation of Genealogical Societies 2015 conference to offer "two great conferences in one great venue."
Despite the hype that it's a global conference, and there are many attendees from outside the US,RootsTech, like FGS, is US-dominated. There's lots that isn't county-specific.

If you need convincing check out nineteen videos from the 2014 Rootstech.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Free Ancestry Labour Day weekend access

The following is from .

"In honour of Labour Day, from August 28 to September 1, is offering free access to all FamilySearch API records, which includes 1 billion records from 67 countries (nearly 200,000 records and more than 2 million images from Canada), so Canadians can discover more about their family’s working history. Visit

Clara Florence Webster rarely spoke about her life during WWI, and it wasn’t until her granddaughter Laurie Marshall was an adult that she shared her remarkable story with her. Until then, Laurie had no idea how brave her grandmother was.

A young woman in her early twenties, Clara helped the war effort by working in a munitions factory. Clara along with the other women in munitions factories in England, also known as munitionettes, produced 80 per cent of the artillery shells and bombs used by the British Army. Clara was one of the 1.6 million British women to join the workforce between 1914 and 1918. In Canada it is estimated that 35,000 women entered the work force during the war in occupations that were generally the domain of men.

Clara and the other women faced many dangers while working in the factory including working with poisonous substances and regularly being interrupted by blackout protocols. During a blackout the factory would go into immediate shutdown and all lights, machinery and assembly lines would be turned off. The women would have to remain completely quiet because the German Zeppelins overhead were specifically looking for them in hope of locating and bombing the factories building artillery. A boring day at work for Clara was a good day!

“I am still in awe of my grandmother and the risks she took during the First World War. She was so brave to put herself in so much danger, but she worked in the munitions factory because it was a job that needed to be done,” said Laurie Marshall. “ has helped me discover so many little details about her that I never knew such as her birth, marriage and immigration stories.”

Clara immigrated to Canada in 1927, paying her own passage and with just $150 in her pocket. Two days after her arrival she married Thomas Steele in Simcoe, Ontario."

Family Tree DNA End of Summer Sale on Y-DNA Tests and Upgrades!

The #1 piece of advice for those contemplating a DNA test with Family Tree DNA is to wait for a sale. They come along frequently. There's currently a sale on Y-DNA tests including upgrades, combo tests and the Big Y test. It ends 3 September. See the details at

BCG offers webinars

The following is from an announcement by the (US) Board for Certification of Genealogists at
"The Board for Certification of Genealogists believes in education and would like to share with the public some of the expertise represented in BCG through a series of webinars.
Open to everyone who wants to improve their skills, these live webinars are set for 8 pm Eastern for the following dates:
Monday, September 22, Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, will present "Fine Wine in a New Bottle: Guidelines for Effective Research and Family Histories." Updated, retitled, and reorganized, genealogy standards first published in 2000 are now available in a new edition. The webinar will describe the changes and what they mean for all family historians. Dr. Jones teaches at three genealogy institutes, co-edits the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and is the author of Mastering Genealogical Proof.
To register for the September 22 webinar, please use this link:
On Wednesday, October 15, Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, will explain "Kinship Determination: From Generation to Generation." Requirement 7 of the BCG certification application asks for a Kinship Determination Project in which the applicant writes a three-generation narrative and explains how the relationships are documented. All genealogists do this regularly while placing relatives with their appropriate connections in the family tree. A familiar speaker at conferences across the country, Judy will coordinate the Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis course at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in 2015.
To register for the October 15 webinar, please use this link:
Look for future announcements on other upcoming webinars on this blog. You may sign up on the sidebar for email notifications when a new post is written."

New and Updated on Ancestry

Recent British changes on Ancestry are:

- Warwickshire, England, Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1535-1812 is updated to contain 1,020,588  records linked to images of the originals. That's a decrease of about 4,000 records from the update in early May! The records are from the Warwickshire Anglican Registers. Warwick, England: Warwickshire County Record Office.

- 1891 Wales Census updated to contain 1,760,678 records. The images are from The National Archives of the UK (TNA).

- a new dataset: UK, Select Cemetery Registers, 1916-2012 contains indexed data from 16,093 burials at Magdalen Hill Cemetery, Hampshire, England. Images of the original register of burials are linked. "During World War I and World War II, Winchester was home to the regimental depots of the Royal Hampshire Regiment, the Rifle Brigade, and the King's Royal Rifle Corps. The cemetery has a war graves plot, and more than 37 World War I soldiers and 65 World War II soldiers are buried in the cemetery."

- Web: UK, Campaign Medals Awarded to WWI Merchant Seamen, 1914-1925. Search these records held at TNA with link to the originals at TNA's Discovery site.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Findmypast adds 62,625 new English parish records

New transcripts of baptism and burial registers have been added to findmypast for Cheshire, Sheffield and North West Kent parishes.
Read the details at

Think Ahead: Global Genealogy at the BIFHSGO conference

A newsletter arrived from Global Genealogy with information on their products, especially new publications for Eastern Ontario, many at prices much lower for pdf versions than hardcopy.

It reminded me that Global has been the most faithful exhibitor at the conference and always comes with a wide selection of products. If there's something you particularly want from them, and would like to save on shipping costs, Rick and Sandra are always willing to bring items from their stock by request.

See their complete selection of products at and while you're there sign up for the newsletter, so you don't miss out on news and sales.

BBC on Canadian expedition aims to find Franklin's lost ships

A BBC Radio 4 item -

"It is one of the great mysteries of the heroic age of Victorian exploration: what happened to Sir John Franklin, 129 men and two ships that set out in 1845 to chart the North West Passage through the Canadian Arctic and simply vanished? Clues to the expedition's fate, and the bodies of some of Franklin's men, have been found. But not the ships themselves.

Nick Higham speaks to members of a new expedition, jointly mounted by the Canadian government and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the most intensive effort yet to find Franklin's ships."

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

TNA blog post: The day the White House burned

Between the US burning of York (Toronto) and the Battle of New Orleans (We fired our guns and the British kept a'comin) British forces burned Washington DC.
Read a blog post on the 200th anniversary at

Imagine: DNA analysis at a family history conference

Walk into any major family history conference and you'll see a research room with free access to commercial genealogy and newspaper databases. If you're fortunate you'll walk out with new leads on your ancestors. For most of us that was unimaginable 20 years ago.
What you can't do, yet, is walk in, spit in a tube, and walk out with a list of possible relatives based on a DNA analysis. Imagine finding yourself linked to a cousin also at the conference. It's not a question of if, but when that will come.
You likely will not want to read the article Sequencing at sea: challenges and experiences in Ion Torrent PGM sequencing during the 2013 Southern Line Islands Research Expedition but if the capability existed in 2013 to perform real-time DNA sequencing on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean how far down the road can it be to human genome sequencing in a conference environment?

Findmypast adds Victoria, Australia, passenger lists

Looking for a British stray? Inbound passenger lists to Victoria (Australia), 1839-1923 and outbound from Victoria 1852-1915 are now available on findmypast

"Provided by the Public Record Office in Victoria after two decades of work carried out by volunteer transcribers, these records mean that our inbound to Victoria 1839-1923 passenger list records now total 2,125,578, while our outbound from Victoria 1852-1915 records stand at 1,753,919."