Sunday, 3 May 2015

Dr Guy Berthiaume at the City of Ottawa Archives

On the evening of Thursday 30 April 2015 Dr Guy Berthiaume Librarian and Archivist of Canada gave a talk with title Something old, something new: Access at the heart of LAC’s mandate at the City of Ottawa Archives to a meeting sponsored by the Friends of the City of Ottawa Archives and the Archives Association of Ontario Eastern Chapter. Here are some items I noted.

In Canada, unlike in a few other countries, the experiment of putting the National Library and Archives together has been successful, and the winners are the clients. You get archival and library material in one location, unlike in London or Paris.  (Not mentioned was that this was true before the organizations were amalgamated)

The First World War (FWW) digitization initiative was cited as one of the most ambitious initiatives for making such records accessible to the public online, something increasingly being demanded by clients. LAC has the largest and most significant collection of FWW records in Canada - official records and medals, journals, photographs, art, music and letters. Taken together they tell compelling stories of the men and women who served.

The types of records most requested from LAC, according to a recent survey, are for genealogy followed by those for the FWW. They beat out rare books, cabinet documents and events.

Digitization imaging of the CEF service files responds to the top two areas identified in the survey and is the most ambitious such project ever undertaken by LAC. 400 lbs of fasteners have been removed from the documents (there was some discussion on what to do with them - melt down for "medals" for those who did the work, sell as scrap, cast into FWW souvenirs for sale.)

The four key commitments made when Dr Berthiaume joined LAC were reviewed and progress to date reported. He spoke about public programming, both at 395 Wellington, hobbled as this may be by the decision of a previous Librarian and Archivist to turn over the ground floor of the building to Public Works, and through partnerships where LAC materials are loaned to other institutions. Examples are the loan of a copy of the Canadian Bill or Rights and the Proclamation of the Constitution Act signed by the Queen to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg; for an exhibition of Daguerreotypes being mounted at the National Galley of Canada this fall; and half the items in an exhibition for Canada150 at the Museum of Civilization Canadian Museum of History.

Tribute was made to the Friends of LAC for their financial contribution for acquisitions and their continuing support as ambassadors for LAC.

In closing he stressed again that it's vital that members of the various organization that are part of the heritage community work together.

There were questions related accessibility at 395 Wellington, exhibition space at 395, interlibrary loan, microfilm loan and the last-copy policy; the poor state of microfilm readers at LAC; access to subject expert archivists, acquisition policy (national ve provincial and territorial vs local), the digital challenge, administrative records of the Ottawa Hospital, and accessibility to items stored offsite.

After questions Dr Berthiaume mentioned consultations taking place shortly toward development of a three-year plan. There are no details. I will post as they become available. Stay tuned.

Texts of such talks, about one a week are given, are sometimes posted at

Talks were also given by Ottawa City Archivist Paul Henry and Archivist John Lund. Stay tuned.

"No one on the planet is a true native"

A worthwhile read from the Wall Street Journal

Ancient DNA Tells a New Human Story
Armed with old bones and new DNA sequencing technology, scientists are getting a much better understanding of the prehistory of the human species, writes Matt Ridley

Food for Thought for Genealogy Societies

In An Open Letter to Genealogy Societies blogger Susan Petersen vents on seven frustrations with some of our organizations. Hopefully not all apply to any one society.

Have you been driven to quit a society because of one of these? What about other reasons. I've quit when membership had served its purpose after I joined for a specific purpose such as in conjunction with a conference discount. I've also quit because the society didn't give value for money to remote members.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

May Backup Nag

It wasn't until I started this post that I remembered I hadn't started my monthly hard drive backup. It's not too late..

Just do it.

Exploring the History of British Health Care

The King's Fund, an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England, is digitising all of its publications since its foundation in 1897. About half are available with the remainder to be imaged later this year.

None are of them are of general genealogical interest. I found a couple in the digital archive which although dated may be useful background for those with ancestors or relatives who were involved with health care.

The development of the London Hospital System, 1823-1982
Rivett, Geoffrey
This history begins with the foundation of the Lancet in 1823, and ends in 1982 with the restructuring of the National Health Service, when the management of hospitals in isolation from other health services had ceased.

Sources for the history of nursing in Great Britain
This is a guide to researching the history of nursing covering the research method and the major readings in the discipline of history which will help anyone interested in the history of nursing to develop that interest in the ways most appropriate to them.

Friday, 1 May 2015

New Datasets from Findmypast

This Friday`s regular updates at Findmypast are:

England and Wales, The Society of Friends (Quaker) Births 1578-1841 contain 234,534 records, both a transcript and an image of the original documents. Post 1776 birth records contain the date of birth, place of birth including the locality, parish and county, the parents’ names, often including the occupation of the father, the child’s name and the names of witnesses.

England and Wales, The Society of Friends (Quaker) Marriages 1578-1841 contain over 90,710 records, a transcript and an image of original material. Post 1776 marriage records include the names and often occupation of the father of both bride and groom as well as the signatures of all witnesses present – frequently quite a long list with family of the bride and groom listed separately. These later records will also sometimes record the form of words spoken by the bride and groom in their vows.

England and Wales, Society of Friends (Quaker) Burials 1578-1841 with over 258,790 records contains a transcript and an image of original material. The amount of information varies, most list the name of the deceased, their date of death, the name of the grave digger and the family member who signed the agreement for interment.

Surrey, Southwark, St George The Martyr Workhouse Records, 1729-1826 has 21,781 results Each record includes a transcript of details taken from the original records, details vary. Most include: Name, Year, Event date, Narrative (notes in the minutes which may include: age, condition at arrival to the workhouse, names of relatives or spouse, clothing allowance; or if they are staff, wages paid), Occupation, Archive, Archival reference, volume number and folio.

I omitted mention of last weeks Friday additions, updates to Yorkshire parish records

Yorkshire Baptisms,1538-1914, now with over  1.9 million records including images of the original registers.
Yorkshire, Bishop’s Transcripts of Baptisms,  1578-1914, now with over 2.5 million records
Yorkshire Banns, 1653-1930, now has over 365,000 records of marriage banns.
Yorkshire Marriages,  1539-1930 now contain over 915,000 records
Yorkshire, Bishop’s Transcripts of Marriages, 1534-1899 now has over 1.2 million records
Yorkshire Burials, 1538-1989 now contain over 1.4 million records
Yorkshire Bishop’s Transcripts of Burials 1578-1972 with over 1.9 million records

These Yorkshire records are variously sourced from the Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York, Doncaster Borough Council, The East Riding Archives & Local Studies Service, North Yorkshire County Record Office, Sheffield City Council Libraries Archives and Information Services and, Teeside Archives.

Benchmarks Update for April

It was an average month for genealogy websites, as many sites gained as declined in Alexa rank. Coverage of was initiated with the April rank at 205,767, higher than all the society websites except

Alexa Rank.

Website         30-Apr         31-Mar
myHeritage.com5,0684,775,29116,325          47,758          48,901

cyndislist.com40,58038,632          57,000          61,318
qfhs.ca3,026,7173,203,250        469,233        441,720

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Robert Fitzroy and Origins of Weather Forecasting

Today 30 April 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the death by suicide of Robert Fitzroy, pioneer of weather forecasts in Britain. There's a good read about him from the BBC at The birth of the weather forecast.

More on the 1939 Register for England and Wales

On 24 September 1939 enumerators distributed forms which were compiled into a register of the population of England and Wales. The forms were collected on 29 September. Although it was not a census much of the information collected was census-like. Information in the record is Address; Surname; First Forename; Other Forename(s)/Initial(s); Date of Birth' Sex; Marital Status,Occupation, whether a member of the armed forces reserve (although that was not captured consistently.) For those in an institution there will be an indication of the person's status.

As there was no census in 1941, taking the regular decennial census was hardly a priority, this is particularly valuable information. Also the 1931 census was destroyed so this is the only thing close to as census between 1921 and 1951.

Findmypast in partnership with The National Archives are publishing the 1939 Register online. Digitization of 7,000 volumes with 40,000,000 entries is in progress. The originals are paper copies, not microfilm, so the image quality is good.

Good news is that the collection is substantially complete, no known missing pages, and organized with occupants of a house together. The cost to access is undetermined. Will it be part of the regular Findmypast subscription? Let's hope so but if not it will certainly cost less that the current £40.

Not so good news is that there is a legal embargo on availability of records for living people under 100 years of age. Findmypast will screen records to identify the deceased and open records if a person can be proved to be deceased. This will be particularly valuable for those who emigrated and died overseas.

There will be an indication of when people in a household have been redacted.  Also members of the Armed Forces were not listed as they had already been called up for military service. However, membership of Naval, Military or Air Force Reserves or Auxiliary Forces or of Civil Defence Services is available if collected.

Behind the scenes the project is a substantial employer with people conserving the originals since late summer last year, scanning, indexing and quality control.

The database should be available "towards the end of this year."

I'd like to thank Jim from Findmypast for filling in some of the gaps in information available on this dataset.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

British Medical Directories coming to Ancestry

The Wellcome Library has announced the start of a project to digitize some of its family history materials in partnership with
The digitized images will be freely accessible through the Library website and will become available from early 2016.

The published journals included in this project are:

- the Medical Directory
- the Midwives Roll
- the Medical Students’ Register
- the Medical and Dental Students’ Register
- the Dentists Register.

Also to be digitized are the Queen’s Roll from the Queen’s Nursing Institute archive (Library ref. SA/QNI/J.3) and membership records from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy archive (Library ref. SA/CSP/D), as well as a manuscript dated 1658 that contains the names of witches in Scotland (Library ref. MS.3658).

Irish genealogy takes a big step forward on Wednesday 8 July

THE source for Irish Genealogy News, Claire Santry, has posted NLI announces date for launch of RC registers' website. Silicon Republic posted Irish genealogy resource with 400,000 Catholic parish records to go online.
The NLI website will be displaying images, unindexed except for the parish, which have previously been available on-site in Dublin.

FamilySearch adds Saskatchewan Cemetery Transcripts

Added to the sources for Saskatchewan burials are 164,737 index records covering 1850 and 1994 at FamilySearch. These are transcripts of tombstones from various unidentified cemeteries in the province made available by the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society.

There are other, better sources.

Ancestry has 274,801 records in an All Saskatchewan, Canada, Burial Index, 1802-2011.

There's a Rootsweb hosted Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project with entries from over 3,300 cemeteries.

An SGS database has over 500,000 records of individuals buried in cemeteries and/or burial sites in 299 rural municipalities in the province but the results returned by the free search are not very informative.

Want to be a better Ontario genealogist? Here's how.

From Sunday June 7, 2015 at 5:30 pm to Friday June 12 you can undertake guided research at Toronto's almost annual Genealogy Summer Camp,

Designed mainly for out-of-town family historians with Ontario roots, this unique program takes researchers to different archives and libraries each day. Each day starts with a tutorial or tour of the venue, followed by your own research with our guidance. Spend less time finding the archives, and more time finding information.

Jane E MacNamara, who is the leader, tells me there are still a few spots left. People are already coming from BC, AB, NY, PA, as well as Ottawa and the GTA.

Find out more here and consider adding on an extra day on Saturday the 6th for the OGS Toronto Branch Genetic Genealogy Workshop.