Will the relative who sent an anonymous comment please send an email contact address and I'd be happy to supply additional information. As comments are moderated it will not be posted.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Malcolm Moody at Archive CD Books Canada alerted me to yet more Canadian newspaper content appearing on the World Vital Records (WVR) service. The press release is here.
As pointed out before, this is mainly content that has been freely available from paperofrecord.com. The largest part of the digitized collection now being added is the Temiskaming Speaker, 1905-2001 (9.4 million names) and not now at Paper of Record.
World Vital Records continues to grow its offerings through its strategy as a consolidator, putting together a package of materials previously available elsewhere. For example, Archive CD Books Canada's collection of CDs searchable on the WVR site and the UK census collection from Find My Past.
Monday, 29 September 2008
29 September 2008, the 250th anniversary of the birth of Admiral Lord Nelson at Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, is being celebrated in the county and across Britain.
He was Britain's greatest naval hero, and known for his handicaps. His lost arm and eye are legendary well beyond Britain.
There is the story of prisoners, a mix of civilian and military, captured from a ship sunk during WW2. The civilians were to be released, the soldiers sent for incarceration in POW camps in Germany. A passenger was suspected by the Germans to be a soldier. Desperately he pointed to his obvious glass eye and said that it proved his civilian status, in response to which a German asked if anybody had ever heard of Nelson.
An article in the Eastern Daily Press mentions that the frail Admiral suffered a catalogue of other injuries and illnesses at sea before his death at Trafalgar in 1805. As well as musket ball wounds, he was also beset by malaria, scurvy, dysentery, heart-stroke, toothache and - unhelpfully for a naval man - seasickness.
Read more about Nelson here
Sunday, 28 September 2008
The correct answer to the Whose Relatives -III posting is NDP head honcho Jack Layton. Ancestors on his father's side had last names Biggers, Carter, Craddock, England, Farmer, Gibson, Gilbert, Grimmett.
John Gilbert "Jack" Layton is the son of former PC cabinet minister Robert Layton(1925 - 2002) and Doris Steeves. Through his mother's line he's related to, although not descended from, a Father of Confederation.
His great grandfather was Philip Edward David Layton, a blind activist immigrant to Montreal from England, son of Philip Layton a London-based "artist in wood," born in Northamptonshire.
Saturday, 27 September 2008
The early registration deadline is approaching for the Toronto Branch of OGS workshop GENEALOGY IN LONDON.Most English people have ancestors or relatives who lived at least some of their life in London; and there are certainly records of your English ancestors in London wherever they lived. This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity if you live within striking distance of Toronto. You save $5 if you register before October 3. Be sure to reserve a spot before the registration reaches its limit.
The lead-off speaker is Else Churchill, Genealogy Officer of the Society of Genealogists in London, with a plenary presentation on London’s World of Genealogy. We chose Else as the keynote speaker for the BIFHSGO conference some years ago. I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to hear her again.
After that you have to make a choice, mostly a difficult choice, between two sessions. The information on the presentations and speakers is here, along with registration details.
You may notice a presentation Bereft of Life, They Rest in Peace. But Where? by some guy named John D Reid, about finding burials in London. Do you recognize the allusion to popular culture in the title? Click here and listen carefully around 2:30.
I'm especially keen to attend Alison Hare's presentation The Time of Cholera. Alison gave a fascinating short talk about London’s cholera epidemic of 1854, and her ancestor who was a victim, some years ago for BIFHSGO. This will be her first presentation on her much more extensive, and trademark careful research on the epidemic and victims previously only identified by initials. It's one I wouldn't miss, even if I do have to go to Toronto to hear from an Ottawa-based colleague and miss out on a presentation by Phillip Dunn, Senior Consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, in the parallel session.
The workshop is on Saturday, November 8, 2008 at the North York Central Library Auditorium, 5120 Yonge Street, Toronto, by the North York Centre subway station.
Friday, 26 September 2008
I must confess, I was wrong. In an earlier posting I complained that CBC TV ignores Canadian history. But last Thursday, in full prime time, CBC TV aired a program "The Mystery of Champlain."
It was shown as an episode of DOC ZONE, a series that "explores the major stories of our time" and ... "bring(s) viewers a sweeping panoramic view of what matters most to Canadians."
Thank you CBC TV for latching on to the real story which has so many of us preoccupied.
While the pundits would have us believe Canadians are hotly debating the elections, north and south of the border, an economic crisis and what to do about global climate change, only CBC TV DOC ZONE programmers are perspicacious enough to realize that the issues gripping the nation are the mystery of what Champlain looked like, and how he managed to compile such accurate maps.
I should never have complained. Better to ignore Canadian history than spend good money on this miserable effort more likely to drive people away than interest them.
Microfilm is part of any serious genealogist’s life. We love it as it allows us to inspect images of original sources, often far from where the originals are housed and at an affordable cost.
It's also part of our nightmares. We hate it for the cumbersome readers, the ways it can be incompatibly wound on the reel, the spindle that won't fit the hole in the centre, sequential only access, eyestrain, and nausea induced by scrolling images.
What’s the future of microfilm?
The Genealogy Blog at GeneaNet has an interesting article which, in a nutshell, says microfilm has a future, but largely as a storage medium, not a distribution medium for use at the consumer level.
It can't happen fast enough.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
The National Library of Scotland has a collection of over 6,000 maps, high-resolution and zoomable for the Kingdom. You'll find whole country maps starting in the 16th century, county maps, town maps and views, marine and Admiralty charts, military, Ordnance Survey and estate maps. Even areas associated with some of my English ancestry, from the debatable lands, north of Hadrian's Wall but not in Scotland, is well represented in the collection.
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
During her lectures at last weekend's BIFHSGO conference Sherry Irvine stressed the value of seeing your ancestors in the context of social trends of the time. One of the free resources that she pointed to, previously unknown to me, is back issues of the journal Local Population Studies.
First published as a newsletter and magazine in 1968, it evolved to become a more formal journal. "It is published bi-annually and is the world's only journal on matters relating to population within a local or community context. Its emphasis is on Great Britain, but occasional articles about other local communities are published."
Expect a real mixed bag of articles. Was an ancestor named Victoria? Find out about the trends in the use of the Queen's name here. What was the population, and personal, impact of a major mining disaster on a small coal mining community in 1860s Northumberland?
It's worth browsing the tables of contents. Unfortunately the series is not computer searchable.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Prior to the BIFHSGO conference Chris Watts and I went to Upper Canada Village, and on our way out stopped for a cup of tea at the cafe by the entrance. It demonstrated well what's wrong with most North American tea, including only having stewed, not fresh boiling water available to make it.
If you don't know how to make a good cup of tea take a look at this 1941 film or, if you use teabags try this 1955 film.
These are two of nearly 200 British offerings on YouTube from the British Film Institute.
Thanks to Ridge Williams for the tip (on the BFI films, not the tea).
Monday, 22 September 2008
I've never enjoyed a family history conference so much as the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa conference this past weekend.
The four out of town speakers, Sherry Irvine, Chris Watts, Marian Press and Gary Schroder all attracted large and attentive audiences, answered lots of questions at the end of each of their sessions and in the hallway afterwards.
For those in Toronto, don't miss Chris Watts presentation this (Monday 22 September) evening for the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.
Presentations by local experts Jeffrey Murray, Jane Down, Lesley Anderson, Alison Hare and Glenn Wright were also well attended. I want to especially thank Lesley Anderson who not only made a conference presentation but also chaired a session, took a turn at the consultation desk and gave another talk at the pre-conference seminar. Lesley is seemingly tireless, volunteering at the Ottawa Family History Center, teaching genealogy and computer skills for the Ottawa Catholic School Board and serving as consultant for Ancestry.ca.
Others who spoke at pre-conference sessions were June Coxon, Elizabeth Kipp, Jeanette Logan and Rick Roberts.
Many attendees went away with copies of Finding Your Canadian Ancestor's, Sherry Irvine's book, co-authored with Dave Obee, signed by Sherry and purchased from the largest stand at the marketplace, that of Global Genealogy.
I discovered a few new (to me) resources at the conference that I'll mention in upcoming posts.
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Friday, 19 September 2008
It was a long long time ago. Before 9/11. Before 7/7. Before George W. Bush became US President and Stephen Harper became a Canadian political party leader. Before filming of the Harry Potter books started. Before even the dot com bubble burst, a firm called Maritz conducted a poll that found 60 percent of Americans are interested in their family history. That was in 2000 and interest in genealogy was up 15 percent from a similar poll in 1996.
On 17 September 2008 the Sidney, Nebraska, Sun Telegraph, took that stale poll information and ran an article with a headline "Genealogy Becoming America's Number 1 Hobby."
It's time the genealogical community stopped propagating this false, or at best outdated message. Dick Eastman penned a column on this in 2006. One of many good points he made is that "If genealogy were truly as popular as our nation's interest in sports, at least one genealogy magazine would have a circulation similar to that of Sports Illustrated." He goes on to name Newsweek, Oprah Magazine, Boating Magazine, Field & Stream, This Old House, Travel & Leisure Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, Popular Mechanics, various movie fan magazines as more popular.
At the time Dick was writing I could go to my local Chapters bookstore and buy a copy of Family Chronicle, Family Tree, or Your Family History (Tree). Today there's not a single genealogy magazine on sale at Ottawa's South Keys Chapters store.
It does no good to pretend we're still living in the world of 2000, if the situation described was ever the case. Dick points out reasons why that portrayal may not have been reliable in the first place.
There are plenty of real advancements in family history to make it appealing and maintain interest. Access to resources, especially online, was never so easy. Technology has given us a tool to decipher the natural genealogical record inscribed in our genes, and we're becoming better at reading that record by the day. Local newspapers and books are being digitized and made searchable. There are more educational opportunities than ever. More people than ever have researched their, and other's family history, compiled it and are making it available to others. Family history is in no danger of disappearing just because it may not be the #1, 2 or 3 hobby. Companies and organizations that are nimble enough to move along with advances will prosper, unlike those who continue to live in that perhaps mythical long past world.
Thursday, 18 September 2008
For those still wondering, the correct answer to the Whose Relatives -II posting is Stephen Harper, who has, according to Ancestry.com, the following notable relatives:
Robert L Borden, Jonathan Swift, Millard Fillmore, James A Garfield, R B Bennett, B F Skinner, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spencer Tracy, Walt Disney, Gerald R. Ford, "Wild Bill" Hickok, Walt Whitman, Norman Rockwell, Joseph D. Ball (American serial killer), W. G. Grace, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and George Orwell.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
I shall be bringing my copy of Finding Your Canadian Ancestors by Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee to the BIFHSGO conference this weekend to ask Sherry to sign it. It already has Dave Obee's signature. It's a book I highly recommend. Even though the cover reads "A Beginner's Guide," as Sherry told me, we thought it unlikely Ancestry would publish another Canadian genealogy book so aimed to be more widely useful than to just beginners.
If you don't yet own a copy of Finding Your Canadian Ancestors Global Genealogy is bringing in a supply of this, and Sherry's other books.
The conference looks like a hit, from Sherry's opening Don Whiteside lecture in the Library and Archives Canada Auditorium starting at 7:30pm on Friday, admission to that is free, to the prize draw at the closing session on Sunday afternoon with prizes donated by Ancestry.ca, World Vital Records, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, and other products and services.
It's also a great social opportunity. I hope to see you there.
A panel on the LAC homepage, a consultation on services, just disappeared. No problem over that. It had been showing for some while and was getting stale; but was the consultation effective in soliciting the desired feedback?
Michael Geist has an insightful posting Public Policy Consultations No Field of Dreams stimulated by the release last week of the results of a CRTC public online consultation on new media. He comments that "by Internet standards the consultation failed to attract a large audience" Geist points to the following aspects of consultation 2.0:
- government consultations should resist the temptation to centralize the discussion within a single online forum;
- online public consultation needs more than a briefing document and a place to discuss;
- officials should engage in the consultation by participating in the resulting discussion;
- government must improve its response to public feedback.
If you only use the web as an alternate means of transmitting a consultation document, and receiving written comment, you're missing out on much of the potential. But that extra potential moves public servants, especially senior ones, from a familiar situation in which they feel comfortable, and exert considerable control, into something much less predictable.
Monday, 15 September 2008
Ancestry.ca has now launched online the indexed official collection of Canadian ship records - the Canadian Passenger Lists: 1865-1935. There is a launch event in Toronto on Tuesday.
This indexing has been a significant and protracted effort for Ancestry; the initiative was launched in May 2007.
Indexing was done from microfilm originally made in the 1940s and 1950s. It's often difficult to read and sometimes the ink had already faded before the records were filmed. Unfortunately that's the only option for a source; the original records were not retained. To be realistic expect problems with the indexing. I found Slater mis-transcribed as Sister.
Despite these problems I already found new information for my family, my great uncle and his new wife returning from San Francisco to Victoria, enroute to Tisdale, Sask.
The records released contain one significant gap, some of the years between 1919 and 1924 when an individual Form 30A was used. Different ports adopted Form 30A at different times. At the moment you'll still have to use microfilm for those cases. Ancestry will eventually be digitizing those records too.
In total more than 5.6 million people from across the world immigrated to Canada during this time period. According to Ancestry 37% of all Canadians today are direct descendants of those in this historic collection, plus many US citizens whose ancestors travelled via a Canadian port, or lived for a while Canada before moving south.
Thinking of getting a Y-DNA (male line) test for genealogy? Prices are plummeting. Have they got a deal for you!
At Ancestry, for limited time, half price. A 33 marker Y-DNA test for $74.50, a 46 Y-DNA marker test for $99.50.
At Family Tree DNA, for new clients, a sizzling summer sale until 30 September. Get a 37 market Y-DNA test for only $20 more that the regular 12 marker group rate, or get a free mtDNA test with the regular group rate for a 12 marker Y-DNA test ($99).
FamilyBuilder: a new company mainly into social networking for genealogy, offers a 17-marker Y-DNA test for $59.95.
Before going for the lowest price, remember, you need more than just the analysis, a series of numbers that mean little to the average person? You want to know the significance for your genealogy.
If you have a relative, or suspected relative, with a Y-DNA result to compare your result with, perhaps to verify or disprove a common paternal ancestor, a basic analysis from any reliable company will suffice.
But, if you're looking to find people yet unknown to you whose Y-DNA matches yours, favour a company with a significant database of existing clients. Having completed your analysis their computer will attempt to find genetic matches for you. The larger the database, and the more people who test, the more chance of finding a match or close match.
Family Tree DNA claim on their web site that 9 out of 10 genealogists choose that company. That claim seems to be uncontested. As of 14 September 2008 FTDNA have 135,124 Y-DNA records in their database.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
I devoured the new issue of Anglo-Celtic Roots, the quarterly chronicle of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, in one sitting on returning from September's monthly meeting. What was so enthralling was a series of articles on home children, many of them stories of adversity overcome.
Some people choose to look upon the saga of Canada's home children as one of social injustice. They focus on the sense of abandonment the child had to live with, for some mistreatment, hardships, and various difficulties along the way, which is the reality. The situation these children were in in Britain when they were orphaned or given up by an overwhelmed parent or next of kin is also reality.
Referring to conditions in Britain one of the articles expresses it "The life of an orphan could be brutal indeed and the benevolent societies, that we in retrospect are very critical of, came into being because of horrendous conditions some orphans and abandoned children lived under." Given the options of the day, not the desirable ones wishful thinkers might pretend, immigration to Canada under the auspices of a benevolent society, appears in most cases to have offered the least undesirable path.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
First broadcast on History Television Canada on 13 September 2008, the story is of a 70 year old man, an immigrant to Canada from Ireland in his childhood, looking for an elder brother who was left behind. Traditional records research localizes the area in Ireland and shows that the brother left behind was born before the mother married. The search for the brother is only successful when a newspaper article recounting the Irish brother's search for his birth family is stumbled upon. They are reunited in Ireland.
In the episodes of this third series aired so far the format has been simplified, and in my view improved. Concentrating on a single story per 30 minute episode, minus time for ads, provides more time to understand the people involved, explore their story and appreciate the research resources employed. One thing that has been lost is the web support to each episode which is now just a bare paragraph.
Else Churchill, Genealogist with the Society of Genealogists, made a presentation "How the Society of Genealogists can help you" at the National Archives (Kew) on September 2nd. It's now available as a podcast.
One piece of news to me was that SOG members will have a dedicated members only section on the web site starting sometime in the 4th quarter.
Else Churchill is a featured speaker at a forthcoming conference in Ontario. More later.
Friday, 12 September 2008
The first meeting of the 2008-2009 season, 13 September 2008, features a presentation "Mount Hermon Cemetery, Quebec, Tombstone Inscriptions", by member Gordon Morley.
Located in Sillery, Quebec, the cemetery contains the graves of many prominent British settlers. The talk describes the cemetery and its history, the recording project and some interesting inscriptions. The material is drawn from the recent publication of the Societe de genealogie de Quebec.
The meeting is, as usual, in the Auditorium of Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa and gets underway at 10am.
The Castle and Regimental Museum, Monmouth, holds the records of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia). The Regiment was formed in the sixteenth century.
You can search nearly 7,000 entries for men who served with the Regiment, and antecedent regiment names, covering the period 1786-1817, 1872-1887 and 1914-1916.
A second database at the site, just 968 records, covers related records held elsewhere.
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Browsing in the stacks at LAC I see so many uninspired family histories containing masses of good information -- but mostly deadly dull -- only a genealogist could love them.
If you aspire to something more, something the family will want to keep and read, and are within striking distance of Toronto, consider attending the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (OCAPG) one day seminar "Writing A Narrative Family History" with guest presenter John Colletta. It's just over two weeks away. Registration is going well but there's still space for a few more folks.
John Colletta, a knowledgeable genealogist and experienced speaker based in Washington, DC., both entertains and educates.
The event takes place at the North York Central Library in Toronto. See http://www.rootsweb.com/~onapg for detailed information about this Saturday 27 September event and follow the instructions to register.
Thanks to Brenda Dougall Merriman for bringing this to my attention.
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
A press release arrived from Pharos Teaching and Tutoring and the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History announcing new cooperative online courses.
Pharos instructor Sherry Irvine, who will be leading some of these courses, is the keynote speaker on the evening of Friday 19 September 2008 at Library and Archives Canada for the opening of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa conference.
Come to Friday evening's event free, starting at 7:30, and listen to Sherry presenting "Genealogy with Wings: Reflections of a family historian in an age of techno-enthusiasm.
Where there's a will there's a way. I learnt today of a way around the problem of searching in the WW2 Killed in Action database for items that are not indexed. Academic researchers or school teachers doing a local history project looking, for example, for all soldiers in the database where Ottawa is mentioned, can contact LAC and ask them to perform a search and send the results. This is done using the genealogy enquiry form at www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/022-300.001-e.html. At present the turnaround time for genealogy queries is running around two weeks.
This is clearly a work-around. You don't get results as quickly as if you could search yourself, but you should get results.
When I asked why they wouldn't open the database for our own online searching I was told it would make it too easy for unscrupulous data miners to steal the database. No comment! There's also a concern that as the free form field's have not been quality controlled spelling and other inconsistencies may give misleading results.
The political ad starts by showing the famous slogan "Lest we forget."
However, given actions of the Harper government toward Canadian history, one could be excused for questioning Harper's sincerity.
People who want to learn about their relatives, or those from their community, who served in past wars find some of the best information preserved in the pages of newspapers, especially local newspapers. Cutting $11.7 million from the Canadian Memory Project, and other funds that support newspaper digitization as the Harper government has done, is at odds with making real that other well known phrase "we will remember them."
In a previous posting I asked which Canadian political leader could claim as relatives Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Louisa May Alcott, J M Barrie, Tom Landry, Queen Elizabeth II, George W Bush, John Wayne, Frank Lloyd Wright, Helen Keller, Lucille Ball, John Cage.
Following the refusal to allow her into the leader's debates she may feel more like Rodney "I don't get no respect" Dangerfield, but according a family tree found at the Ancestry.com web site Elizabeth May, Green Party leader, may have it over the others when it comes to high profile relatives.
Through her maternal grandfather, Thomas Hazelhurst Middleton, Elizabeth is said to be 9th cousin to President George W Bush, and 10th cousin twice removed to Queen Elizabeth II.
There's a bit more doubt about her being 8th cousin 3 times removed from Maurice "Rocket" Richard, but the possibility can't hurt her chances in Quebec.
Sorry to say the relationship to John Wayne suggested by Ancestry doesn't stand inspection - there goes the Western vote!
Some of the other relationships look a bit suspect too. Ancestry does warn that the data is unchecked, only based on that submitted by clients so the relationships may not be reliable. Don't hire the band to play "Hail to the Chief" or saying "Your Majesty" yet.
That can work both ways. There could be a relationship to Sarah Palin.
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
I missed the announcement of a new round of Trillium Grants in early August, but an article in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder drew attention to a $47,500 grant to La Regionale St. Laurent Historical and Genealogical Centre. It will be used to create an electronic database of the books and documents currently being housed at their Anthony Street location.
Amongst other grants awarded in the most recent round is:
The Dominion Institute
$150,000 over two years for the Veteran Appreciation Project that trains educators and youth to document oral histories of World War II veterans. Stories will be preserved in an interactive on-line archive and will commemorate remembrance in Ontario.
Of local interest:
Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum
$75,000 over one year to help renovate this important historical site and bring it to acceptable City of Ottawa fire standards.
The press release quotes Minister Aileen Carroll: “The McGuinty government recognizes the numerous benefits that arts, culture and recreational programs bring to our communities.”
Which current Canadian public political figure has, according to Ancestry.com, the following relatives?
Robert L Borden, Jonathan Swift, Millard Fillmore, James A Garfield, R B Bennett, B F Skinner, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spencer Tracy, Walt Disney, Gerald R. Ford, "Wild Bill" Hickok, Walt Whitman, Norman Rockwell, Joseph D. Ball (American serial killer), W. G. Grace, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and George Orwell.
Post your guess as a comment.
Monday, 8 September 2008
Google has made it official.
"For more than 200 years, matters of local and national significance have been conveyed in newsprint -- from revolutions and politics to fashion to local weather or high school football scores. Around the globe, we estimate that there are billions of news pages containing every story ever written. And it's our goal to help readers find all of them, from the smallest local weekly paper up to the largest national daily.
Today, we're launching an initiative to make more old newspapers accessible and searchable online by partnering with newspaper publishers to digitize millions of pages of news archives."
The initiative is a partnership with Proquest and Heritage, so, as with Google Books, you will be able to search for free but in most cases getting anything more than a link, or perhaps a snippet, will cost.
The article mentions an initiative with The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph to bring the newspaper’s archives – the oldest in North America – to the world over the coming months.
A quick check didn't reveal any of the Paper of Record content. Perhaps they're holding it so they have something "old" to add.
Which current Canadian political party leader has, according to Ancestry.com, the following relatives?
Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Louisa May Alcott, J M Barrie, Tom Landry,
Queen Elizabeth II, George W Bush, John Wayne, Frank Lloyd Wright, Helen Keller, Lucille Ball, John Cage.
Post your guess as a comment.
Those within striking distance of the University of Guelph have access to what looks like an interesting program for their Centre for Scottish Studies 40th Anniversary Colloquium on Saturday 28 September. Genealogists will be particularly interested in hearing Scotland`s Registrar General, Duncan Macniven. More info at: http://www.scottishstudies.
Sunday, 7 September 2008
With a Canadian federal election now underway it's that once in four year opportunity to let your MP, and MP wannabes, know about the issues important to you. Why not ask about an issue relevant to your interest in genealogy?
When they, or their representative come knocking don't hesitate to raise an issue because it's not making national headlines -- MPs have to represent us on all issues, not just those the parties or the media choose to highlight.
Why not ask about digitization, copyright and the census?
Are you happy that the present government has reduced funding by $11.7 million for the Canadian Memory Fund plus additional funding cuts for other programs that digitize Canadian content? Under this policy Canada is falling behind the pace of our major trading partners, the United States, European Union, Australia, New Zealand and China, who have aggressive digitization programs. In this day and age if you don't exist digitally you don't exist. The rising generation of students expect to find information online and have little patience for old fashioned technology, and why not when other countries show it can be done?
Bill C-61, amendments to the Copyright Act, disappeared when the election was called but the Conservatives have indicated they intend to reintroduce the bill. Will your candidate commit to full public consultations before the introduction of any new copyright bill? In this way the fight can go on to protect current provisions for fair dealing, and to introduce measures to allow the use of orphan publications without an eternal search for the copyright holder.
The long fight for release of historic census data was won. The 1911 and 1916 census schedules are now freely available. But the release was only gained when an unpalatable compromise was accepted. Despite there never having been a complaint about privacy and the census, release of basic census data (name, age, occupation, place of birth and the same information for family members) in the next century is now subject to a veto by the person submitting the data. The veto means that, unlike in the UK and US, historians will not have access to a statistically sound Canadian population sample and genealogists will miss out on an invaluable record. Will your candidate agree to a full review the issue after the 2011 census?
Of Saturday night's two History Television Canada Ancestors in the Attic episodes, one was new, one a repeat from the previous series.
The new "Lost Brothers" episode saw Robbie McCauley, a young great grandson of Ada Girling, a Barnardos home child, seeking a sibling's descendants. Being TV the searcher goes to London and gets to look at the original of the 1891 and 1901 British census records, not just the monochrome images which is the fate of ordinary researchers. It's interesting to see that the originals survive with their colour markings -- a pity we don't have colour images online.
On reviewing the Barnardo file for his great grandmother McCauley determines that she was prohibited from any further contact with her brothers by a "patron." The program presents this as a capricious act. I would have liked to know more about the patron and the circumstances at the time before being so damning.
The eventual success in tracing a descendant was attributed to Toronto researcher Peter Goddard, who made the same key breakthrough in the repeat episode broadcast. Unfortunately Mr. Goddard, a Londoner by birth, died recently.
Saturday, 6 September 2008
Season 3 of Ancestors in the Attic begins tonight (Saturday) with back to back episodes on the History Television (www.history.ca) starting at 8 pm. Show personnel were only informed today about the new scheduling.
Thanks to Brenda Dougall Merriman and Fawne Stratford-Devai for passing this on.
Local Ottawa history professor, Bruce Elliott, sent me a comment on this new offering from LAC worth passing along.
"Why is this index searchable only by name? Users other than genealogists would like to access this material other ways. There are many community war commemoration projects under way, and it would be useful to be able to search this index by place as well as by name. Given that the place of residence is in the screen that appears in response to a search, a keyword rather than a name search would be more serviceable."
The proposal appears to meet all the criteria; simple, cheap, quick and popular. So why not LAC?
One of the recent podcasts in the series from TNA was on The Fleet Registers or irregular marriage registers of 17th and 18th century London. Presented by Audrey Collins it is one of the best I've listened to recently, suffering only from not having the visuals that were used at Kew.
Toward the end of the presentation she makes reference to the forthcoming release of a database.
It's now available.
The September newsletter from S&N Genealogy announces the availability of the database for these legal but clandestine or irregular marriages performed without benefit of the usual constraints of the Established Church.
The registers, held by TNA, have been digitized and indexed. Fleet marriages which occurred between 1667 and 1777 are estimated to account for up-to a third of the marriages that happened in the country during their peak.
According to the announcement there are about 800,000 people named in the marriage records and about 2400 people mentioned in baptismal records. This makes it a substantial set of records that cover the period . A proportion of these will be duplicates due to the nature of the way these are recorded in different documents.
The records can be freely searched online by visiting the official National Archives Non-Conformist site at www.BMDregisters.co.uk
Payment is required to look at the full details or image of the original documents.
The records are also included as part of TheGenealogist.co.uk Premium Subscription which allows credit free access to the records.
Friday, 5 September 2008
I like this story from Science Daily about a researcher who photographed 2,500 17th century documents from a Swedish archive, producing some 25,000 images in total, which would have been the equivalent of $15,000 worth of photocopying. He did it entirely with the archives cooperation.
It illustrates how technology is gradually eroding the natural conservatism of libraries and archives which are recognizing that for research purposes it makes sense to let clients use their own flash-free digital camera on out of copyright material, and even limited extracts of in-copyright material .
If the institution where you research is still resisting this trend, don't give the front-line person a hard time. They just enforce the rules handed down from on high. Instead write to the head of the institution. If enough people did that ... Frank Sinatra describes the consequences in a song from my youth here.
Thursday, 4 September 2008
This week Ancestry is adding digitized Canadian books to their collection - see the list so far below.
They're mostly quite obscure and localized, but maybe you'll be lucky and find something relevant to your genealogy. For more of this type of material don't forget to check out ourroots.ca, the Internet Archive, Google Books and material from Archive CD Books Canada available to subscribers to worldvitalrecords.com.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
The following is a press release from Ancestry.ca
London, UK – 4 September, 2008 – The most comprehensive collection of historical London records, covering 500 years of the city’s history, is to be made available online for the first time. Following a lengthy tendering process, Ancestry[i] has secured the exclusive online rights to digitize and host key records from London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) and Guildhall Library Manuscripts.
LMA’s historical record collection, which is owned and managed by the City of London, is considered to be of international importance, particularly given London’s prominence at the centre of the British Empire for almost 300 years from the mid-1700s.
As the City of London’s official partner, Ancestry, which has a global network of nine family history websites, will be responsible for providing access to The LMA Collection. Original record images and more than 77 million names searchable using key information such as name, date and place, will be available on Ancestry.ca, Canada’s No.1 family and social history website.
Dating from the early 16th Century through to 2006, the collection details the lives of both princes and paupers. Included are parish records, school records, electoral registers, wills, lists of workhouse labourers from the Poor Law ledgers and a comprehensive list of those granted ‘Freedom of the City’ .
Ancestry.ca spokesperson Karen Peterson comments: “This collection is particularly exciting for the family history research industry because it breaks what we call the ‘1837 barrier’, which is the year official record keeping began.”
“Again, advances in technology will enable so many people, who previously were not able to physically find and search through these rare records, the ability to do so with ease.”
The collection will take several years to index and image. Until now, those wishing to view records have had to visit LMA or the Guildhall Library, both based in Central London.
Online access to LMA records has long been anticipated by family history enthusiasts around the world: it will allow millions of people with ancestors who lived in or passed through London at some point in time to trace their roots, whether it be to the City’s slums or its more affluent boroughs.
The first records will launch on Ancestry.ca in early 2009, with the following prioritised for launch in the coming year:
· Parish records – records from more than 10,000 Greater London parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials dating from the 1530s to the 20th Century
· Poor Law documents - relating to the administration of poor relief, including workhouse registers from 1834 onwards
· London school admissions – records from 843 individual London schools dating from the early Victorian times through to 1911, providing admission and personal details for millions of London students
Dr Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Director of the City of London’s Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Library, comments: “It has always been the City of London’s goal to make these important collections available to the wider public through digitisation and so we are delighted to announce Ancestry as our official partner in bringing 500 years of London’s history online.”
The records will be available to Ancestry’s World Deluxe Members. Many Canadian genealogical societies and local libraries will also have access to the records through their organisational membership.