Monday, 31 January 2011

London changes through the years

Look at these two films of London. The first from 1903, the second from 1913. What changes do you you notice?






What happenned to all the horses?

Did you notice how almost everyone is wearing a hat? By 1927 there were a few hatless men.



In 2008 practically none.

Interment.net: new wine in old bottles

It's easy to forget those sites we checked out long ago. Some sites get regular additions of new information which won't come to you automatically, you have to visit and search again.

Interment.net is a huge site of international cemetery transcriptions.  Information for 10 cemeteries has been added during January. If you haven't checked lately perhaps its time to do so.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Changing names

Thomas Mapother, William Adams, Marion Morrison, Reginald Dwight, and Henry Deutschendorf. Can you match them to the stage names Elton John, Will.i.am, Bob Hope, Tom Cruise, John Wayne, John Denver, and what is the one missing?

People in the entertainment industry don't usually go out of their way to hide their original name. Anything for publicity.

Others change name for convenience, sometime literally. William Redfield (1789 - 1857), founding President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, took the middle initial C, which he said stood for Convenience, to distinguish him from two namesakes.

More commonly people get tired of explaining or spelling a name unusual in the country to which they migrated. Perhaps the name given at birth falls into disrepute, like Adolf.  They change name as a condition of inheritance, and then sometime change it back.   Others do so to evade a shady past. Repeat criminals trail a string of aliases.

In Britain a name can be changed simply by starting to use the new one. There is also a formal legal procedure, change of name by deed poll. A Microsoft Word document on the HM Courts Service website (not accessible when I tried it) describing the process is here. The total cost quoted is £64.43, mostly for advertising. The most recent London Gazette notice I found, on 21 January 2011, was: former name Ryan Connor Maximilian TOWNSEND changed to Ryan Connor Maximilian TOWNSEND-COPE. 


To find such an announcement from the past search the London Gazette archive, or Edinburgh or Belfast Gazettes as appropriate. You may also find such notices in newspapers, notably the Times of London.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Double-barrelled names

In his latest Irish Roots column for the Irish Times noted Irish genealogist John Grenham reflects on some of problems, past and future, of double-barrelled surnames. It attracted my attention when he mentioned ‘William Leigh Clarke’ and questioned whether it referred to two forenames or one two-part surname.

I've recently been researching William Clare whose spouse was last name Leigh. Children followed in breathtaking succession, each given the middle name Leigh. By 1832 when the seventh son came along they seemingly ran out of inspiration and named him Septimus.

Octavius followed and rose to prominence in the legal profession. At his second marriage he adopted the double-barrelled surname Leigh-Clare. While I doubt it was for the convenience of future genealogists he did also keep the middle name, becoming Octavius Leigh Leigh-Clare. He subsequently served as a MP.

He proudly named his son after himself adding Cedric as first name. Cedric Octavius Leigh Leigh-Clare was commissioned during the Great War and served as a senior official in the GPO.

You can have too much of a good thing. Subsequent generations of the line reverted to the surname Clare while keeping Leigh as a middle name.

Need to make a transcription?

Regular reader Ellen Morris drew my attention to a posting on the blog FAMHIST: Family History Thoughts and Links. It describes a helpful utility for making transcriptions, and as it happens it's one I used just last month and had meant to blog about -- why are there so many other interesting things happening?

Transcript is free software for the PC. The operation is simple. It splits the screen horizontally so you display an image for transcription in the upper panel and type the transcription in the lower. I recommend trying it.

The operation is well described in detail at http://famhist2.blogspot.com/2011/01/transcript-for-genealogy-transcriptions.html.

Friday, 28 January 2011

FreeBMD January Update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Thursday 27 January 2011 and currently contains 196,409,162 distinct records (250,226,877 total records).

Major additions are between 1942 and 1953.

Radio Scotland: Digging Up Your Roots

Harry Liston, a regular reader, emailed pointing out the genealogy podcasts on the BBC, specifically the Digging Up Your Roots series from Radio Scotland. I've listened to segments previously but, likely as my Scottish roots remain obscure, my attention drifted.

One of the regular experts on the show is Dr Bruce Durie, Course Director for the Genealogical Studies program at the University of Strathclyde and author of a recent book Scottish Genealogy

The podcasts are available for 30 days after broadcast at http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/genealogy and on iTunes.

Norfolk Online Access to Heritage

Those of us with Norfolk ancestors are fortunate to have superior online genealogical resources, such as FamilySearch original record images mentioned recently here.

Norfolk researchers also have a single search interface from Cultural Services at Norfolk County Council, the Norfolk Online Access to Heritage.   Specify a search and it queries a variety of sources from the Library Service, The Norfolk Record Office and Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service returning a list of hits found in the various collections. They include catalogue entries, maps, aerial photographs, probate listings and, directory images.  A complete list of data sources is at http://www.noah.norfolk.gov.uk/databases.aspx

A database I found particularly useful includes original images of wills proved and letters of administration granted in the period 1800-1858 in the courts of the Bishop of Norwich (the Consistory Court), the Archdeacons of Norfolk and Norwich and the Dean and Chapter of Norwich.

Will you be getting your genealogy magazine online?

To the list of things I learned this week I've added the knowledge that Internet Genealogy magazine, published by Toronto-based Moorshead Magazines, is also available online. Editor Ed Zapletal says that most people prefer to read a hard copy edition, either by subscription or newsstand purchase. To my surprise he told me online subscription has always been available and you can also purchase individual issues from the website at http://www.internet-genealogy.com/.

Individual edition purchase online, delivered as a pdf, would likely be of interest to someone who sees a must-have article in the table of contents, which you can find online at http://www.internet-genealogy.com/issue_contents.htm, or people outside North America where there is no newsstand distribution.

There's a lot of buzz in the magazine industry about making content available electronically on eReaders. I've tried a newspaper subscription on a Kindle and although the content was there, mostly, I missed the visual stimulation of colour and graphic design. I didn't miss all the advertizing in the hard copy version, and the enclosed flyers, nor having to go to the door at the coldest part of the day to collect it.

Tablets, such as the iPad, will presumably address the presentation issues. I read that the industry is presently wrestling with Apple over subscription issues (money) which will get done when the market gets big enough and competition kicks in.

After that will come the question of how the product will change to take advantage of the capabilities of the technology. Just as newspapers and magazines evolved with pictures and colour as technology permitted, when you have an interactive and audiovideo capability will clients be satisfied with a simple electronic version of the paper product?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Black History Month

Ancestry.ca have issued a press release at www.ancestry.ca/about/default.aspx?section=pr-2011-01-26 marking Black History Month and throwing the spotlight on the contributions of Black Canadians in times of war.

There's an interesting back story. The accepted historical wisdom has been that Blacks served in support roles in the Canadian forces in WW1. Aided by the data now being digitized and made available online researchers are establishing that Blacks also served and died in combat roles. It's an example of how history is in the process of being rewritten thanks in part to the online availability of records.

As illustrated by US President Obama many Blacks have a mixed racial background, including ancestry from the UK and Ireland. The Ancestry.ca release reminds us of their contributions to the great causes of our past.

Irish references from Ottawa

Looking for sources for Irish family history?

The active Irish Research Group in Ottawa, supported by members of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa and the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, have prepared comprehensive lists of Irish references for the family historian. It includes recommended websites.

There are two documents - one for the Republic, the other for Northern Ireland. They can be found at:

http://www.bifhsgo.ca/pdf/Irish%20Family%20History%20Guides%20and%20Information%20Sources.pdf

and

http://www.bifhsgo.ca/pdf/Northern%20Ireland%20Family%20History%20Guides%20and%20Information%20Sources.pdf

via Christine Jackson.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

HSO January Presentation

The next meeting of the Historical Society of Ottawa features a presentation by Barry Padolsky "The Canadian Museum of Nature: Renewal of the Victorian Treasure". The meeting, on Friday, January 28, starts at 1pm at the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Gigues Ave in Ottawa.

Lost Cousins Blog

As usual the most recent issue of the Lost Cousins newsletter is full of useful tips, and some opinion. It includes a useful article on why FreeBMD can be a superior option for searching England and Wales civil registration than Ancestry. It has to do with the way Ancestry does searches with middle initials and names which is less user friendly than FreeBMD.

By the way, you are also less likely to run into geography problems with FreeBMD, although I did once found a case where the partners in a marriage were transcribed as being married in different counties.







Happy first anniversary LAC

It's exactly a year ago today that LAC last posted an item under Important Announcements, although undated item on dates of routine IT maintemance could be more recent.

Other much more recent announcements have been posted under Media Room and What's New (Unimportant Announcements?)  Even there, the sole exceptions being a press release Library and Archives Canada offers the Free Thinking Society to reschedule Iranium screening in February, which is playing catchup in a way forced by Minister Moore, and a What's New note on interruption of web services, there is nothing new in the past month.

Is LAC Communications in a long winter hibernation? Why give the false impression that nothing is happening?

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Burn's Night

A tip of the hat to those celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Scotland's national poet Rabbie Burns.

Scots the world over, native, expat and those more distantly connected, celebrate with a Burn's Night Supper. I attended one in Portugal a few years ago celebrated in traditional style with the climax of the meal being haggis and Scotch.

The Scotch was great!

Backspacing Ottawa

I was impressed with the number of people who came to read yesterday's item on Listed Buildings in Britain.

While Canada doesn't have a similar system built heritage is valued, at least by some. That's witnessed by the numbers coming out on Heritage Ottawa's walks, Jane's Walk and interventions at City Council when heritage structures are threatened.

Along those lines Bytown Museum Director Mike Steinhauer and Museum development director Francesco Corsaro have started Backspacing, a monthly feature hosted at http://spacingottawa.ca, which exists to improve understanding of the urban landscape. You'll find other good reading there too.

Backspacing "explores the stories of an evolving city and its residents from its early days as Bytown to present day Ottawa." It signals the museum Board's intention to move toward telling Ottawa's story more broadly than the previous focus on the Rideau Canal and early Bytown.

The first article is on The “Grand Dames”: Ottawa’s historic apartment buildings

TNA Podcast: Damaged, disturbed and dismembered: disability and war in the 20th century

In this talk from last autumn Dr Julie Anderson reviews the treatment and attitudes toward servicemen (mostly) who suffered debilitating injuries in the two World Wars. There is no specific reference to record sets although a couple are hinted at. 

I was especially interested in her description of the treatment and relatively favourable reception given to blinded WW1 servicemen, such as my great uncle. With no disfigurement apparent they did not shock when appearing in public.

The podcast is available from: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/damaged-disturbed-dismembered-disability-and-war-20thcentury.htm

Ancestry ditches experts

The following is an announcement from Ancestry.com

Over a year ago Ancestry.com created Expert Connect as a way to expand its service offerings and provide additional assistance for members through an elite group of professional genealogists and researchers. Through this service, customers were given the opportunity to hire genealogists to retrieve records, perform research or simply acquire expert advice.
Though this service has been a positive experience, Ancestry.com has decided to focus on other business priorities, so as of March 18, 2011, Expert Connect will no longer be a service that Ancestry.com will offer to its members.
Both experts and members currently involved in Expert Connect have been notified of this update. We encourage members to finish out existing projects with experts they have located through the Expert Connect service and if needed, continue relationships for future projects they may have.
Comment:


For Ancestry it obviously wasn't enough of a money spinner, They continue to be entrepreneurial in trying new things and ruthless when they don't pan out. What's next, DNA?


Maybe there's a niche market for a Rate Your Genealogist service akin to Rate Your Professor

Monday, 24 January 2011

British Listed Buildings Online

It must be a rare community in Britain that doesn't have at least one officially recognized "listed building."

These are designated buildings and structures "of special architectural and historic interest,"  much more diverse that the typical tourist destination, or Stately Home that Noel Coward sang about.

Listed are just under 500,000 man-made structure that survives in something at least approaching the original state. Most structures on the list are buildings. Others are bridges, monuments, sculptures, war memorials, and even milestones and mileposts.

In England and Wales buildings of exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important are rated as Grade I, about 2.5% of all listings.

Grade II* constitutes particularly important buildings of more than special interest, about 5.5% of listed buildings. Reydon Hall, childhood home of the Susanna Moody and Catherine Parr Trail, shown in this image from Library and Archives Canada, is Grade II* listed

Grade II buildings, 92% of all listed buildings, are nationally important and of special interest, the most likely grade of listing for a private residential building.

The grading system is different in Scotland.

www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/ is an online database where you can browse for listed buildings by country, county and parish/locality. Each has official listing data, you can view the location on a map, and, where possible, see it in Google Streetview and Bing Birds Eye View. Some have added comments, information and photos submitted by users.

There's also a search page but be aware that geography in the site is in some cases, shall we say ... creative.

LAC targets cultural organizations

For organizations which have always considered LAC as a partner a throw away line in a January 19 press release Library and Archives Canada offers the Free Thinking Society to reschedule Iranium screening in February has potentially substantial implications.

"Over the years, LAC has offered space, when available, at its 395 Wellington Street facility to a variety of non-profit organizations, cultural organizations and professional associations of librarians and archivists. LAC is currently reviewing the use of these spaces by non-governmental organizations."
Could it be that LAC's strategic approach to dealing with the bad press it received recently is by eliminating all use of the building facilities by cultural organizations?

A very nice surprise from BBC WDYTYA magazine

Imagine how I felt when I saw this image staring back at me from Audrey Collins' blog The Family Recorder.

BBC Who Do You Think You Are magazine is one I only get to see on trips to the UK so it was a complete and utter surprise to have the blog recognized. Thank you BBC WDYTYA.

I'm getting an increasing number of tips from readers which helps me provide you better coverage. Please keep them coming

Audrey's blog posting notes that Chris Paton's blog Scottish GENES ' is selected as the Professional's Choice. Chris' blog is one I rarely miss and borrow from occasionally; the same with Audrey's.

This gives me a chance to remind those with Scottish interests that Chris will be lecturing for OGS Toronto Branch on 18 June 2011. There's more information at www.torontofamilyhistory.org/Scottish2011.html

Wouldn't it be nice to get Audrey here before too long!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

You can't rely on LAC status reports



Here's the status report from the LAC website as of 4:30pm on Sunday 23 January 2011.







And here's the message received for the past 24 hours when any search is attempted.

LAC web services: as there appears to be no support on weekends please note the suggested addition to this message when sent outside regular work hours.

WDYTYA (BBC): Boris Johnson

As recommended by commenter Cannuk on the Stephen Fry WDYTYA episode posted last day, here, in six YouTube parts, is the episode for now Mayor of London Boris Johnson.











Wikis as Genealogical Information Tools

The Toronto Branch of OGS has a presentation by one of their own, Marian Press, on Monday 24 January 2011.

Many organizations are doing the Wiki thing. A wiki is a web site that allows individuals to collaboratively build content. As a result the content may continue to change and is always a work in progress. This lecture will cover the technology of wikis, the location of the major genealogy wikis and how to contribute to them, as well as providing information on how to use freely-available software on the Internet to establish one’s own wiki.

Marian will be presenting one of several courses and workshops Toronto Branch has scheduled in the next few months. See the list at http://www.torontofamilyhistory.org/courses.html

Marian is scheduled to be in Ottawa in March for a BIFHSGO monthly meeting presentation.

A unique Canadian mortality dataset

On 20 January FamilySearch added an indexed dataset, the Canada Census Mortality Schedules, 1871.
Although relatively small, only 45,371 people, it's a unique record set only available online at FamilySearch.

The 1871 census of Canada was nominally taken on 2 April, 1871. "Honest, intelligent, well-instructed and painstaking" enumerators visited each dwelling to record information; the process took a few weeks. They were instructed to enquire of every family whether any death has occurred in the family or house during the last twelve months, including deaths of newly-born infants, and if so enter information in Schedule 2, Return of Deaths.

The first ten columns of the form are similar to those of the regular census and are transcribed. The other two columns are not transcribed: column 11 indicates the cause of death in layman's terms;  column 12 was available to note anything of "special interest" or where there was "a particular explanation to be made."

Of the death reported 3,568 were for infants born in the census year (January - 2 April); 9,437 were born the previous year; 3,342 in 1869; 2.159 in 1868; and 1,168 in 1867.

At the other extreme are two deceased who passed away at the wonderful age of 120.

Jane McKay's entry is shown in the image. There is also an Ontario death registration showing the same age. Had I found a burial registration giving the same age would you accept it as meeting "the rule of three?"

The other is a man named only as Mosquito from the Tuscarora (Indian Reserve) e, South Brant 15, Ontario, with no corresponding Ontario death certificate.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

WDYTYA (BBC): Stephen Fry

Although Stephen Fry is one of the best known people on BBC television, funny, thoughtful, interesting, he's little known in Canada and the US. That's our loss, a reflection on the sad state of North American television.

More evidence, if it were needed, is the half-hearted effort the CBC made three years ago with a Canadian version of Who Do You Think You Are?

Below, in six segments on YouTube, is the Stephen Fry episode of WDYTYA. It's a bit dated, it shows him going to the now shuttered Family Records Centre, but the lessons are timeless.











Success: LAC digitization on demand

 On Thursday I received a follow-up call from Wendy Papenburg of LAC regarding linking a CEF service file, one I paid to have digitized, on the LAC website. I had been following the procedure in a LAC November 18 information note.

Wendy explained that there are no impediments to the file I ordered being linked, that will happen with all full CEF files requested, and these constitute about a third of all digitization requests. The time frame to get the process in operation will be weeks to a few months.

I was also told that not all digitized files produced will be linked online, either because only a partial file was digitized or the file is not cleared for general public access.

Apparently the digitization service at LAC has been more popular than anticipated. Staff are struggling to keep up with an unanticipated volume of requests. Although not cheap the service is much less costly than the trip to Ottawa for most people, and the quality of the digital images I received was excellent.

If you have a family member who served in the CEF consider giving meaning to the words "Lest we forget" by sponsoring digitization of their service file. It will be a lasting memorial that they served
their country and be there as a continuing  educational resource.

Burke’s Family Records

Do you have British nobility in your family tree?  The new offering on Ancestry.com of Burke's Family Records with information on the junior houses of British nobility, seemed likely to have content on my illustrious ancestors at around page 1500 of this 655 page volume.

So to test it I looked for another family I've been researching.

According to the Ancestry description "Burke’s Family Records has information on "the “cadets” or younger sons of a noble family (who) did not usually receive inherited lands or titles and their descendents were often overlooked by lineage records of the peerage (titled British nobles). Details of family origins, surnames, events, and locations are recorded for about 300 British cadet lines; some are accompanied by coats of arms. At the beginning of the work is an index of pedigrees and alliances."

I tried this indexed database by searching for the name Gurney. It's one that occurs in documents some BIFHSGO  colleagues and I have been investigating. The search turned up the name William Brodie Gurney Littlewood which attracted my attention as Littlewood is another name that occurs in those documents. He married a woman whose noble ancestry is documented in Burke's Family Records.

It turned out he was born in the Bahamas around 1855, married twice in England, and was a solicitor with death registered in Bournemouth in 1929.

Out of interest I googled the name and found there was a person William Brodie Gurney (1777–1855), a famed English shorthand writer and philanthropist of the 19th century according to Wikipedia. Is this a case of the Bahamian Littlewood family paying tribute to Gurney because they admired his philanthropy, shorthand, or perhaps there was a family connection?

In any event, there is no seeming connection to Canada, which is where the documents being investigated were found, so it looks like yet another blind alley.

Another digitization of  Burke's Family Records, by the Allen County Public Libraryis available without the cost of an Ancestry subscription, from the Internet Archive.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Finding Ontario marriage records online

New online at the FamilySearch website as of 14 January are 363,464 indexed Ontario marriage record transcriptions between 1869 and 1927.

As illustrated in the image on the left the transcription is reasonably complete and contains a sufficient source information to allow you to go directly to view the original record on microfilm.

This is the second Ontario marriage database on FamilySearch. Ontario Marriages, 1800-1910 has just 28,574 records for a few places, taken from the 1998 CD set "North America Vital Records Index."

If you have access to the Ancestry Canadian collection, either through subscription or one of many a public access sites, such as your local public library, then you have ready access to a broader range of sources for Ontario marriages.

Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1926 is a collection of approximately 3.2 million marriages the majority of which are from Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1926 (MS 932, Archives of Ontario) and include images of the original record.

As discussed in a recent post and comments, you may have difficulty specifying a location for this database. Suggestions are to try entering the location as a keyword, or use Ancestry's "Old Search" form.

Ancestry also lists  Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967 with 1,327,293 records; Ontario, Canada, County Marriage Registers, 1858-1869 with 158,063 records; and some smaller databases.

Don't overlook other sources for marriages, usually not online. Anglican and United Churches have marriage registers, usually available at some centralized archive. Local newspapers often carried a marriage announcement with a list of attendees, and sometime extended descriptions of the dresses of the bride and other ladies attending.

































































































































Coming in 2011 on findmypast.co.uk

From the Findmypast blog, a look ahead to the company's forthcoming additions:

As other websites start the lengthy process of making the 1911 census available, you can enjoy access right now to the full and complete 1841-1911 census collection on findmypast.co.uk. We’ll also be adding the 1841-1901 Scottish censuses to findmypast.co.uk this year to expand our collection even further.
Unbeatable birth, marriage and death records. Once we fully name index our death records, overseas BMDs and BMDs at sea (in the next month or so), you’ll benefit from the most comprehensive online BMDs resource available. No other website makes finding BMDs quicker and easier.

Millions more parish record updates, published in association with the Federation of Family History Societies. We will add thousands of new parish records to findmypast.co.uk every month - ours is the most extensive parish records collection anywhere online. Look out for 3 million new Derbyshire parish records coming soon.

We’ll make your searching easier: soon you’ll be able to effortlessly record your progress by saving records you’ve already viewed. We’re also making big improvements to our census searches.

We’re redesigning our family tree to include lots of fantastic new features.

We’ll launch exciting new records in association with The National Archives: Militia records, merchant seamen records and crime, courts and convicts records.

Our hugely anticipated project with The British Library continues: digitising up to 40 million historic pages from the national newspaper collection. This is the most significant mass digitisation of newspapers ever in the UK.

Welsh parish records from the Welsh archives which include images of original parish registers.

TNA Podcast: Titanic: the official story

Using documents from The National Archives, copies of which are shown at  http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/titanic-the-official-story.htm, James Cronan takes us through the history of the ship, from its construction and launch to its fateful end.

James Cronan is a records specialist in diplomatic and colonial records. His interest in all things Titanic stems from the fact that his great-grandfather was a crewman on board the stricken ship. He has worked at The National Archives for 17 years, at Chancery Lane, the Family Records Centre and Kew.The talk was given before an appreciative audience on 15 April 2010.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Minister Dad

The item below is by Laura Payton from the Ottawa Sun, Eye on the Hill column, 19 January

I love this quote from James Moore, the heritage minister, about his conversation this morning with Daniel Caron, librarian and archivist of Canada (that’s his actual title), at Library and Archives Canada. Moore phoned up after LAC cancelled a screening last night of an anti-Iran documentary.
Moore’s only a couple of years older than me but this quote feels very much like when your father is teaching you a life lesson and making it very clear what behaviour he expects.
“As soon as I contacted him this morning and I laid it out to him what my views were, and what our government’s views are, that we believe in free speech, we don’t believe in buckling to the Iranian embassy and we don’t believe in buckling those who want to threaten people with whom they disagree, and that the movie will go ahead and he’ll honour the agreement with Mr. Litwin. As soon as I made that clear to him, he agreed immediately and the movie will be re-shown. And it will be shown in the original location at Library and Archives Canada.”
I can see why Caron agreed.

1916 census update

Ancestry.ca have the only name indexed 1916 Canada census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. They now indicate they've updated it. If you searched it before and didn't find the person you were looking for, or suspected some information was missing, give it another try.

Lucky Norfolk

Family Search has just added the following images, organized by parish, not name indexed, to the Norfolk county parish register collection:

England, Norfolk Archdeacon's Transcripts, 1600-1812 *  Browse Images
England, Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941 *  Browse Images
England, Norfolk Marriage Bonds, 1557-1915 *  Browse Images
England, Norfolk Monumental Inscriptions, 1600-1900's *  Browse Images
England, Norfolk Non-conformist Records, 1613-1901 *  Browse Image
England, Norfolk Poor Law Union Records, 1796-1900
 * Browse Images
England, Norfolk Register of Electors, 1844-1952 *  Browse Images

Exploring these treasurers will take some doing. You'll need to set aside a block of time and learn the use of the viewer.

Glaswegian ancestors?

A lot of work has gone into the free Glasgow West-end Addresses and their Occupants 1844-1915 website at www.glasgowwestaddress.co.uk.

Look to it for details of who lived at each address in the city's West End district through time. It also has street views which it might be interesting to compare with those on Google Street View and Bing Maps Bird's Eye View.

via Chris Paton's Scottish GENES (GEnealogy News and EventS)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Contrasting Views on Finding Meaning in Genetic Genealogy

Family roots: newer DNA tests uncover hidden Jewish Bloodlines is from the Jewish Daily Forward, from which the image is also taken.

The article attributes to 23andMe geneticist Mike Macpherson the statement that about 2% of the 40,000 people of non-Ashkenazi European descent who have used the company’s platform show some reliable signature of Ashkenazi heritage in their DNA.

More surprising to me was the statement attributed to Bennett Greenspan, president and CEO of Family Tree DNA, that many people who learn of Semitic ancestry through DNA often end up converting to Judaism. Seemingly for them their DNA test has a profound impact.

Contrast that with the views expressed in The meaning(lessness) of genetic genealogy posted on the Daddy, Papa and me blog that genetic (or any for that matter) genealogy is not all that particularly meaningful. "Focusing on my genetic genealogy will give me part of the picture of who I am ... but I can get a broader, deeper and more meaningful understanding of who I am by studying history."

It seems to me this latter article is rehashing the nature versus nurture, genetics versus environment, debate. Why not let's just accept that both are important.

The more interesting question to me is alignment. What are the relative merits of having someone with a particular genetic makeup raised in an environment in which the associated culture is dominant. Are such people likely to be better adjusted? Or will they be at a disadvantage living in an evermore globalizing Society?

Ottawa Branch OGS: Genealogy Week

What are you doing from July 10th to 15th?  The Annual Genealogy Week, now in its third year, is just announced by Ottawa Branch of the OGS. It's a rare opportunity for those who realize that they need to dedicate some time to advancing their Canadian family history exploration, and would like to do so with expert assistance. Share your challenges, and successes.

The event this year is being coordinated by Mario Lapointe who says in a press release:

"Genealogy Week will be great for the seasoned researcher as well as those just starting on their journey of discovery. Ottawa and Gatineau have many archives and facilities to research your Canadian family. You will attend first-class lectures as well as receive unprecedented guidance from archival staff and local researchers.”

Wherever your ancestry is in Canada there are likely resources at Library and Archives Canada that will help in your search. For many this will also be a first opportunity to experience the new Ottawa City Archives, of special interest to those with Ottawa roots.

You may see one or more familiar names on the speaker list.

For more details, or to join the mailing list for updates, please visit <www.ogsottawa.on.ca>, follow on Twitter <http://Twitter.com/GenealogyWeek>, or simply send an email to <genealogyweek@ogsottawa.on.ca>.

Education and Ontario Family History

There's a new OGS/Dundurn Press publication in The Genealogist's Reference Shelf series. Education and Ontario Family History: A Guide to the Resources for Genealogists and Historians is by Marian Press.

I've not had a chance to review it.  Here's the blurb from the Dundurn website.
Many family researchers with Ontario roots discover they have ancestors who were teachers. Those with no teachers in the family may have ancestors who were part of the Ontario education system as students. Today there are numerous varied resources available to find information on teachers, pupils, schools, textbooks, and curricula in historical Ontario.


Education and Ontario Family History outlines the resources available for education from about 1785 to the early twentieth century, not only for genealogists, but also for other historians with an interest in educational records. Many historical resources are currently being digitized, and Ontario and education are no exceptions. These electronic repositories are examined in author Marian Press's book along with traditional paper and archival sources.
A 144 page paperback, ISBN 978-1-55488-747-7, the cover price is $19.99. I see it selling for $14.43 at Amazon.ca.


 Marian will be the speaker at the March BIFHSGO meeting.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Ottawa Branch Meeting Cancelled

Tonight's  (Jan 18) meeting of the Ottawa Branch of OGS is cancelled, reportedly owing to a security issue at Library and Archives Canada.

Bless you Ancestry, but …

In the holiday classic movie It's a Wonderful Life George gets to see how his community would have developed had he never lived. Imagine genealogy today without Ancestry.com and its companion websites.

In Canada name indexes to several censuses are only available online due to the efforts of Ancestry. It's the only source for indexed Ontario civil registration records online, for the Drouin collection online and the complete available incoming passenger lists. In the UK they were the first company to make available the fully indexed civil registration indexes, and have provide records from the London Metropolitan Archives.

It may be that without Ancestry other organizations would have eventually digitized these. I doubt that without the competition from Ancestry other companies would have been motivated to go so far, so fast.

Now we come to the but ...

While you likely have additional databases you'd like to see added there are also things the company could do to add value to the existing records.


Improving the quality of indexes is a continuing issue, one that everyone recognizes, and also one where the magnitude of the challenge is appreciated by anyone who has participated in indexing projects.



Leaving indexing quality aside, what else?

I've mentioned before the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941. It's the most useful database from the UK Ancestry added in 2010, and hopefully they will extend the record and fill in the gaps.

It would be helpful to make these records full text searchable. Only the name of the deceased is indexed at present. There is always one more name in each record, of the executor, and often more. Full text could be achieved through OCR where the text is of good quality, often the case.

For the Canadian records my greatest aggravation is with geography. This was brought home to me again in doing the research for the recent A, H. Fitzsimmons article.

It was relatively easy to find the death registration for Harriet Fitzsimmons


Searching for other Fitzsimmons deaths in Carleton County I found this was not possible as the county is not recognized. Searching on Ottawa, Ontario, provided many hits if I didn't specify the location to be exact, including many outside Carleton County; and when an exact search was specified no hits were found. This seems to be a general problem with Canadian county searches.

What's your experience? How can Ancestry improve the value you get from their existing databases?

Trajectories: The Experience of Three British Families’ Immigration to Canada, 1832-1920

The following is a notice from the Ottawa Historical Association.

Please join the OHA for its third public lecture of its 2010-2011 season.  Dr. Gillian Leitch of CDCI Research will speak on "Trajectories: The Experience of Three British Families’ Immigration to Canada, 1832-1920" on Thursday, January 20, at 8pm at the Faculty of Arts and Social Science Lounge, Dunton Tower Room 2017, Carleton University.  The lecture is free and all are welcome to attend.

Canada in the 19th Century was marked by massive British immigration.  This presentation seeks to understand the British immigrant in more intimate terms- as families.  It will present three British families (one English, one Irish, and one Scottish) as examples of families who emigrated in the nineteenth century.  It will explore the relationship they had to one another as family members (family identity) and the creation and maintenance of family networks in the new world and the old, encompassing not only the original immigrants, but the ensuing generations of these families.

Gillian Leitch’s PhD thesis "The Importance of Being English?: Identity and Social Organisation in British Montreal, 1800-1850" at the Universit√© de Montreal, explored the expression of national identities of Montrealers of British origin, through their public celebrations, commemorations and voluntary associations.  This presentation was a part of research conducted as a Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.  She is currently a Senior Researcher at CDCI Research Inc.

For more information, please e-mail contact@ottawahistoricalassociation.com. The Ottawa Historical Association gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of History and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Carleton University.

Help save a London workhouse

The following information was forwarded by a BIFHSGO member.
 
There is a campaign in Fitzrovia to save a 230 year old Georgian former workhouse which is the last of its kind in central London.
 
As Charles Dickens lived just nine doors away for some years as a child, it is thought to be the model for the workhouse depicted in Oliver Twist. It has been re-discovered that this house is still standing and it will be commemorated for the Dickens bicentennial celebrations next year.
 
Many of you in your researches find ancestral connections to workhouses. This particular example is typical of the late eighteenth century but is now very rare. We very much hope that you will support this effort.
 
Please forward this petition to your contacts and mailing lists.
 
 
There is space to contribute a comment.
 
#1092,  "As an archivist at the City of Westminster Archives Centre, I know the importance of workhouses in the history of London. I believe that it is important for these buildings from the old St Paul Covent Garden, latterly Strand Union, Workhouse to be preserved as a memorial."
 
If you are stuck for something to write:
 
+ Please insist that the whole complex/campus of buildings is saved and not just a facade in token or a small plaque as a memento. This site gives a tangible link to the past beyond what can be found in books. We want to preserve and restore the lot to pre-twentieth century standing.
 
+ You could also berate Camden Council for its policies which fall short of protecting OUR heritage adequately.
 
+ Emphasise the appeal to tourists/visitors to London
 
Thank You!
 
 
General information about workhouses here: http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?Strand/Strand.shtml 
 
 
"The building at 44 Cleveland Street [was] Originally built between 1775 and 1778, it has been a workhouse for most of its life, only later on becoming a part of the Middlesex Hospital.

The building stands in Cleveland Street pretty much unchanged since Georgian Times and it is a rare living testimony to those bleak institutions as a whole, rich in architectonical as well as historical curiosity.

Following the closure of the Middlesex Hospital (south-west of the Cleveland Street Annexe) complete demolition and redevelopment of the former workhouse has been proposed: the building in the new plans is yet another large development out of character with the surroundings. A planning application has already been submitted and the answer in favour or against is imminent, and so is potentially its demolition.

Time is really upon us all to save this Georgian property: for too long this property has been overlooked and judged only on the basis of its functionality. In reality, its aesthetic is austere and rigorous and yet it sits extremely well in between the elegant neighbouring period properties, and its ties with social and medical history are extraordinary, making of it a London landmark."

Monday, 17 January 2011

Benefit from contributing to Ancestry's World Archives Project

The Ancestry weekly newsletter for 16 January 2011  points out that people who contribute to the World Archives Project can get more than just the satisfaction of contributing.

" ,,, active contributors to the project who key 900 records or more per quarter will have access to all of the images that are part of the World Archives Project--not just those that they have helped index. In addition to that, they receive a 10 percent discount on the renewal of their Ancestry.com U.S. Deluxe membership and 15 percent on the renewal of their World Deluxe membership."

Ottawa Branch OGS January Meeting

Tuesday, 18 January 2011: 7:00 p.m.

Library & Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa: Room 156

Topic: The Eyes That Shone; From Ireland to Canada

Speaker: author Phil Donnelly, a book about growing up in Ireland during the 40’s & 50’s. Mr. Donnelly will speak about his book and a program titled Heritage Tierworker which encourages and helps people write their stories.

The classic purpose of an archive

Following on yesterday's TNA podcast post, a presentation (linked here) given by TNA Chief Executive Oliver Morley to the 2010 UK Society of Archivists conference is interesting.  

His remarks are recommended reading for this interested in the future of archives. He states "The classic purpose of an archive still holds true ... to be collectors and preservers, and to provide access to the records in our care."

The text focuses on the themes of transparency, preservation and access.

Think about how things are different in Canada.

On transparency all the comment necessary is in this article.

On access, in view of recent discussion re LAC I was particularly taken with the following:

"On site access remains a crucial area of business for archives. It is vital that we work with our business partners to ensure they recognise that a small, regular group of committed researchers working to contribute through their research, whether its historical research, social sciences or using information and data in new and innovative ways, are just as important as reaching out to millions through a huge
digitisation like the 1911 Census project.

Of course these large-scale digitisation projects are not the answer for everyone; they are not the only answer even for The National Archives. Delivering high quality services onsite must remain a priority."

Sunday, 16 January 2011

100 years ago: A H Fitzsimmons

One of Ottawa's longest established businesses, A. H. Fitzsimmons claims to be the city's oldest realtor, serving the community since 1878.

The Ottawa Citizen for 17 January 1911 contains a sad notice of a stillborn son to Mr and Mrs A H Fitzsimmons at 64 First Ave in the Glebe, and of the death of Mrs Harriet Fitzsimmons, nee Nunn, age 33 of the same address, wife of A H Fitzsimmons. The death was also covered in a short obit.

The family entry in the 1911 census is rather mashed. but shows Mrs Prodrick, sister-in-law in the home.

According to an Ontario marriage certificate on 24 June 1919 Alexander Henry Fitzsimmons (42), widower, marries Annie Nunn (47) born in Suffolk. England. However, the announcement in the Ottawa Citizen has the wife's last name as Prodrick, daughter of the late Charles Nunn.

The marriage seems to have worked out, to the extent that in the Citizen's 10 June 1935 report of the marriage of Winnifred Harriet Fitzsimmons, Mrs Fitzsimmons is named as the mother.

The moral of the story: don't always believe what you read in official certificates or newspaper reports. 

NGS Quarterly Index Free Online

The National Genealogical Society Quarterly is widely regarded as the premiere genealogical periodical in the US. Now you can search, by title or author, or browse nearly a century of its tables of contents free online at http://members.ngsgenealogy.org/NGSQSearch/search.cfm .

NGSQ caters to a domestic clientele. The occasional item, and that often a book review, will have Canadian content identifiable by the title.  You can also find articles authored by Canadians, or Canadian residents. Try Aitken, Hare, Hinchliff, Irvine and, Merriman.

I have to agree with Randy Seaver's comment on his Genea-Musings blog "Every society with a research-oriented publication should put their Tables of contents online so that search engines can find articles. It's a win-win - at a minimum, the society may sell an issue or gain a member. The searcher gets help with his or her research."

TNA Podcast: Challenges facing the (UK) National Archives

Dr Andrew Foster from the (UK) Historical Association conducts a friendly interview with Oliver Morley, Acting Chief Executive of the (UK) National Archives. They talk about the strategic challenges faced by TNA in difficult economic times in the UK. The interview was recorded on 29 November 2010.

This is a topic unlikely to be of interest to the genealogist visiting the blog for resources to further their research; nevertheless, there is reassurance in finding that Oliver Morley comes across as someone who knows his topic and is able to communicate it in fairly straightforward terms.

Although TNA faces the same technological challenges as other similar institutions it is relatively well placed to weather government cutbacks owing to measures, including Monday closing, taken in 2010.

Find the podcast at http://bit.ly/fa2vTS

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Elizabeth Shown Mills comes to Toronto

Have you been counting down the days. Today's the day, registration is now open.

"The Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Canadiana Department, North York Central Library (Toronto Public Library) are pleased to present this opportunity to hear one of the foremost genealogical educators of our day. We promise a full day of stimulation for your personal or professional genealogical pursuits."

The event is in North York, 2 April 2011.

You can read about Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FAGS, FNGS, FUGA and the presentations she will be giving at: http://www.ocapg.org/shown_mills.html

You can also register from that page through a link to GenealogyStore.com. If you already have an account there don't try to create another one from the same email address, as I did having forgotten the existing one, or you'll be greeted with a cyber-babble exclamation.

Space is limited and I understand quite a few registrations from non-members of the Ontario Chapter of APG have already come in.

More on OGS fee increase

Following on the blog post here of 4 January OGS President Nancy Trimble has issued the following notice to members, dated January 13, 2011. My comments follow.
=============
Erroneous Publication of an OGS Fee Increase

Just after the holidays, there was an erroneous statement published on a private blog that is causing concern. It was claimed that there is discussion within the Society of a further fee increase and that there was a notion to require OGS members to also be a member of their local branch.

On behalf of the Board and the Executive, I would like to inform our members that neither of these ideas has been discussed at this time.

As one of the Board's responsibilities, fees are discussed at least once a year. Any fee increase recommended must then be approved by the membership. The Board is not recommending a change to the fee structure for 2011. The fee will remain the same as in 2010.

As to requiring members to be a member of their local branch, this has not been recommended nor discussed.

I hope that this explanation clarifies all concerns. If there are any further questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me (president@ogs.on.ca) or the Executive Director (ed@ogs.on.ca).President, Ontario Genealogical Society.
==============
Comment

I remain confident in the source used for the original post.



That post did not state that discussions on fee increases, or on requiring a branch membership, had taken place at a Board or Executive meeting. Such discussion between senior society members can and do take place outside such meetings, the case here. By the time the issue gets to the official meeting the conclusion may essentially be fait accompli.


The statement that "The Board is not recommending a change to the fee structure for 2011" is self-evident as collection of 2011 fees is well underway. The OGS statement makes no such undertaking for 2012 fees. Would OGS members prefer efficiencies be found in operations rather than a fee increase?  Time will tell.

Ottawa Scottish Genealogy Group Meeting

The next Ottawa Scottish Genealogy Group meeting will be on Monday, January 17th 2011 at 7:00 PM in Room 154 at Library and Archives Canada.

Doug Gray will give a presentation about the various research facilities he used for family history on his recent trip to Scotland. He will show websites that were useful on this trip where he did research in the Boarders, Angus and Edinburgh including the ScotlandsPeople Centre.

From Joanne Payne comes notice of a website with information about the parishes of Dumfriesshire and the Johnstone Family: http://www.pbase.com/image/131514919

via Bob Lamoureux

Friday, 14 January 2011

Over 22,000 new London docklands baptism records at findmypast.co.uk

The findmypast.co.uk flood of new parish records this week continues with an updated London docklands parish baptisms collection, all pre-1820, with 22,645 new records.


Here is a breakdown of these new records:

Church and area
Date range
Number of records
     
St Matthew, Bethnal Green
1799-1819
12,605
St Dunstan, Stepney
1608-1628
10,040

This brings the total London docklands baptisms on FMP to 503,711.

Good news from the Archives of Ontario

The following is a notice from the Archives of Ontario regarding extended hours of operation:
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We are pleased to announce that the Archives of Ontario will be extending its hours of operation. Effective February 8, 2011, we will offer extended hours of service to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Select services will be available during the extended hours, including: registration, reference services, microfilm viewing and printing, and viewing of previously ordered materials. Orders placed during extended hours will be processed on the next business day. The Exhibit Gallery will also be open.

We are extending our hours of operation to better meet your needs and enhance your experience at the Archives of Ontario. By extending our hours we also hope to attract new audiences and further showcase Ontario’s public and private archival records.


If you have questions about this initiative, please don’t hesitate to contact Ms. Keisha Banhan, Senior Manager Archives Services, at < keisha.banhan AT ontario.ca>.

Michael Geist: Ottawa awol but others busy digitizing Canada’s heritage

A Toronto Star article by University of Ottawa Law Professor Michael Geist commenting that "In the absence of national leadership, a loosely connected coalition of local and provincial digitization initiatives have begun to take shape."

Read the article at http://www.thestar.com/business/article/921290--ottawa-awol-but-others-busy-digitizing-canada-s-heritage

J Brian Gilchrist at Quinte Branch of OGS

Saturday 15 Jan 2011 sees the annual Crouse-Wanamaker Lecture presented at the Quinte West City Hall Library by noted Ontario genealogist J Brian Gilchrist.

More information is at www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canqbogs/meetings.htm

Even more parish records from Northern England

They've done it again. Yesterday I blogged about 126,000 new parish birth and marriage records (transcripts) from Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire at findmypast.co.uk. Now FMP have added a massive 447,108 new parish baptism transcripts for the period 1600-1997 covering 324 parishes in total.


And this time you can view a list of these parishes (PDF). Keep up the good work FMP, I'm still looking for my Cumberland ancestors in this collection!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Rick Roberts on DeceasedOnline.com

If you research burial records in England, and some in Scotland, you should know about DeceasedOnline.com

It's a site I've mentioned before as cemeteries get added. Now Rick Roberts of Global Genealogy has written a helpful free article on the site for the Global Gazette.

Spotlight on Northern England baptism and marriage records

Findmypast.co.uk continues to add parish records, the latest from Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire. These are courtesy of the Northumberland & Durham Family History Society

16,383 Durham baptismal records have been added from the parishes of St Andrew, St Helen & St Peter. They span the period 1773-1959.

110,584 marriages from all five counties are added for the period 1521–1989.

While the FMP announcement gives the names of the churches it fails to give the name of the community. How many churches going by St Andrew are there in these counties?

Ancestry updates England, Alien Arrivals, 1810-1811, 1826-1869

Another update, this time to a data collection containing lists of aliens (non-British citizens) arriving in England between 1810 and 1869.

Unfortunately there's no indication of the magnitude of the update.

TNA sources are:

FO 83/21-22: Lists of aliens arriving at English ports, August 1810-May 1811; 2 volumes of original lists created under an act passed in 1793 “for establishing regulations respecting Aliens arriving at this Kingdom, or resident therein, in certain cases”
HO 2: Certificates of alien arrivals, 1836-1852; 236 volumes of original certificates arranged by port of arrival
HO 3: Returns of alien passengers, July 1836-December 1869 (with a gap from January 1861 to December 1866); returns made of alien passengers on ships arriving at British ports as required by the Aliens Act, beginning in 1836; formerly known as Lists of Immigrants; also includes some papers on the drafting of the Act, its administration, and proposals for its revision
CUST 102/393-396 Accounts of aliens arriving at London (July-November 1826) and Gravesend (October 1826-August 1837); arranged by certificate of arrival number

History Television CRTC licence renewal

(Warning - this post is of interest mainly to Canadians, and contains opinion)

Are you happy with Canada's History Television channel? If not, or if so, you have a rare chance to express your opinions to the CRTC at a time when it is especially open to viewers' comments.

Shaw Media, the company behind specialty cable channel History Television (previously History Television Canada) has submitted documentation for renewal of its licence. This is part of a broader process for licence renewal of many channels.  A public comment period is now open, with submissions due before January 28, 2011 in advance of public hearings starting on April 4, 2011. The process is described at http://www.shawmedia.ca/about/licenceRenewal.asp where you can also find links to information from the company.

As part of the process the company is seeking a reduction of its Canadian programming expenditure (CPE) requirement from 40% to 29%.

In its submission the company addresses a comment from CRTC staff that "past complaints have been filed against the History Network in regards to the broadcasting of certain programs that did not meet its nature of service definition.”

The company responds that it invests heavily in original productions, commissioning approximately 100-120 new hours of Canadian programming each year and pointing to series such as Finding the Fallen, and Ancestors in the Attic, the two part miniseries Battlefield Quebec and specials such as The Last Soldier, Storming Juno and Death or Canada.

It also comments that in airing programs such as M*A*S*H  and Ice Road Truckers it strives to offer programming that is both entertaining and provides some relevant historical significance.

I have reviewed the material in the company submission and its earlier reports, the History Television website, and considered my own viewing experience. Comments have to be based mainly on history as there is little in the document that reflects new initiatives, other than a promise of a History Project.

My views are the following:

1. History Television is a highly profitable business. In 2009 it had total income of $49,692,444, higher than in any of the previous four years. Total expenditures were $22,428,203, lower than in any of the previous four years. Advertising revenue alone more than covered the total expenditures. Operating margin exceeded 50%, up from 32% in 2005.

2. History Television relies largely on US produced and themed content. A one day sample, starting at 6am on Tuesday 11 January 2011, had 17 hours out of 24 with US themed programs. That fosters US hegemony. The programming offered contains little Canadian content and fails to reflect the diverse origins of Canadians and its conditions of licence which require "a special emphasis on documentary and dramatic programs related to Canada’s past."

Even if substantially enhanced Canadian content is unaffordable, which given the profitability is highly questionable, there is no lack of other international content to draw on, from Who Do You Think You Are? now produced in the UK, Ireland and Australia as well as the US, to numerous BBC productions, such as A History of the World drawing on 100 objects from British museums, which, with imagination, could be augmented with Canadian content.

3. History Television programming emphasizes military and action themes, and largely fails to reflect other aspects (political, literature, music, art, science, technology) of Canada's (and the world's) history.

4. History Television already has one of the lowest CPE requirements amongst channels in its category (termed Category A .) In proposing to invest even less on Canadian programming on the channel the company is falling further behind in nurturing and supporting Canadian historical research and media production. The proposal to require a group CPE, rather than individual station requirements, will be to the detriment of those interested in Canadian historical programming.

5. History Television's licence virtually precludes the development of any competitive channel. However, much of the programming now on History Television could also be shown on other channels. The Commission has an obligation to ensure Canadians with an interest in history, content creators and viewers, receive the maximum possible benefit from programming from the one licensee in the history niche.

In summary, History Television is a profitable speciality channel now well into its second decade of operation. It should be providing a higher level of benefits to Canada's historical interest community.

The above may become an intervention to the CRTC; comments appreciated.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Literary Review of Canada criticism of LAC

The Jan/Feb issue of Literary Review of Canada contains an opinion piece National Archives Blues: Is a precious Canadian asset being digitized to death? by Susan Crean.

I had the opportunity to speak with Susan some months ago, and again after Christmas when she told me the article would be appearing.

She reflects on long experience using archives. The article is a worthwhile read and only 14 paragraphs. I won't attempt a summary except to say Amen to "the real treasures are the archivists, the clue givers."

Unfortunately, in focusing on digitization as an enemy the article goes astray.  Is there any historical researcher, academic or family historian, who has not benefitted from digitized materials?

Not so long ago the digitized newspaper collection of Paper Of Record, which was purchased by Google, was taken offline. There was uproar. Graduate students instantly lost the online archive, an asset they could use with minimal expense, needed to complete their dissertation research. Arrangement were soon made to make the resource available again.

The article hits closer to the truth when it laments "LAC’s narrowing focus and the approach to digitization that seems to assume one size can be made to fit all."

The buck stops, as always, with the leadership, in this case the Librarian and Archivist of Canada who is seemingly disinterested in meeting and listening to the views of public clients, and focused on those of the Ottawa government elite. As Susan writes, LAC has "disappeared behind its website and into a fog of MBA speak." Just look at the pathfinder papers produced a year ago, in contention as a groundbreaking cure for insomnia, with a promise of consultation which has been desultory at best.

While digitization can benefit many it doesn't meet all needs. And some of those it doesn't, described in the article, are just those that bring out the sparkle in Canada's history and produce high quality research articles that lead to books and TV programs that can, or could, illuminate Canada to a much broader audience.

Unfortunately when it counts its clients LAC marginalizes that broader audience, the secondary users who receive services that are only possible because of the work of the specialist "elite" researcher community. If LAC did value those secondary clients it would surely show it, and its dedication to the oirganizational mission, by making appropriate provision for that small cadre of researchers, and a greater effort to nurture its in-house archivist and librarian expertise on whom those people rely.

New Ottawa City Archives Update: 11 Jan 2011




Work on the exterior of the new Ottawa City Archives and Library distribution centre continues in cold conditions. The brown panelling to the right is new since my last visit but doesn't appear to be the final layer.  



Windows appear more substantial since my last vist, and three flagpoles now grace the north side.










This close up of the archives wing shows a stepladder inside, where I'm informed archives staff have already begun some work. There's no noticable progress to cover the blue and white insulation.