Friday, 17 April 2015

Lost Cousins Newsletter: Special Show issue

Peter Calver, who organized the Genealogy in the Sunshine event I was at last month in Portugal, has sent a show special (the show being WDYTYA? Live) of his Lost Cousins Newslatter containing such interesting information that I'm posting about it as soon as possible.

The contents are:

Great news: half-price Findmypast offer extended EXCLUSIVEIs there an extra census due for release in 2022?
The token books of St Saviour Southwark
Who Do You Think You Are? Live - in pictures
Ancestry offer free access to immigration records ENDS MONDAYMore tithe records and maps online
Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland
Get 20 free credits at ScotlandsPeople
Derbyshire records at Findmypast
Iceland's groundbreaking DNA study
I found my first DNA cousin....
....And maybe my second?
A fairy-tale tree
Checking your data is now so easy
Big data reveals trends in mediaeval longevity
See your ancestors in colour COMPETITIONThinking of publishing an ebook?
Peter's Tips
To read the newsletter, go to or else, highlight it, copy it, then paste it into your browser).

Findmypast adds Derbyshire Records

Derbyshire, moves into the Findmypast spotlight with a collection of index parish records. Baptisms for 1538-1910 has 692,955 entries; Marriages for 1538-1910 has 775,447; Burials for 1538-1910 has 519,760.

There's no list of parishes but this index is sourced from FamilySearch where there are images of the original records from the Church of England. Record Office in Matlock. You need to be a registered FamilySearch patron to view these originals online.

WDYTYA? Live Day 1 Report

Thanks to a BIFHSGO member, who shall remain anonymous, who emailed me with impressions of day one of the event. My comments in red.
I sat outside the venue, Hall 2, from just before the doors opened at 9:30 a.m., until 9:40, sipping a coffee. There was a queue outside the door which snaked down the hallway, several persons deep. It must have held about 2,000 people behind velvet ropes. There were benches against the wall for any people having mobility issues. Staff went down the line, selling programs for 2 pounds each. When the line began to move into the HaIl, I sat and watched in amazement that within ten minutes, that whole line of people had been processed through reception, the velvet ropes had been removed, and the benches had been stacked and removed. I spoke to one of the staff, who agreed that, yes, they are expert in moving large groups of people with no fuss, no muss. Thumbs up for organization!
Inside, it's almost like being in an airport hall. Huge enormous overhead space, wide aisles, and acres of genealogy and other vendors from the SoG itself and of course, WDYTYA magazine, to a big "Ask The Experts" area where one can have personal time with experts from many fields.
On the ground, there is very good signage by the SoG, which have taken over running WDYTYA (the conference) for the company. The signage is consistent, attractive, and accurate. There were four separate SoG workshop areas. Though they were physically distant from each other, there were no real sound barriers between those areas, which in some cases made it hard to hear what was going on in some locations. One had to know to go first to the workshop counters to ask for tickets to attend special interest workshops. Of course, most were already gone by the time I got there, at about 10:00.
I was interested to see that Rebecca Probert had taken a stand, to sell her books. I introduced myself, telling her that I had heard her speak last year. On Amazon there is a big selection of her stuff. I was especially interested to see one title called Nutcases: Family Law Revision Aid and Study Guide. She really knows her stuff! I'll be attending one of her sessions tomorrow.
There are seven different workshop locations available to everyone. Four for SoG, one each for TNA, The Genealogist, and Family Tree DNA!  That's outstanding! And some people complain about three parallel session at the BIFHSGO conference.
I attended a first session by Dr. Eran Elhaik on DNA  Geographic Population Structures and Ancestry Information Markers, speaking about how it is possible using algorithms developed by himself and his colleagues, to pinpoint 100% of DNA to a continent, 86% to a country, and in some cases, about 76% to particular village districts, but ONLY within the last 1,000 years. This is not available yet commercially; the scientists are hoping to be able to drum up some investment money as a result of this kind of promotion, in order to be able to find a way to do such analyses which are commercially feasible. But it sure sounds good! I'm wondering how this is different from what the companies already provide and if so how that's possible.
Janet Few's first session was packed with people. There were overflows of people standing around the workshop area to hear her. And, as usual, she knocked my socks off. She spoke about making sense of a small group of your family, perhaps just one family in one period of time, and how knowledge of the contexts in which people lived could be developed with the introduction of such diverse info. as
- who was King?
-was there a war on?
-was something significant going on, perhaps such as the 1851 Exhibition?
-what was significant in art, literature, health, and religion?
She mentioned all sorts of ways to find such information, from the Shire Book series, to TNA's currency equivalents site to even suggesting that one search for Estate Agent's records of house sales online, to locate where one's ancestors lived and gain insights from that! I sure never thought of that last one! I notice Janet has posted on her own experience on day one at
In this expanded format with seven sets of possible workshops of interest, well, there is more that's educational and enjoyable here than when I was last at the event in 2012. 

LAC Progress on the Government Record Backlog

The following note was posted on the LAC website on 12 April

The 2014 Fall Report of the Auditor General of Canada examined whether Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has fulfilled its responsibilities for acquiring and preserving government documentary heritage from federal institutions, and for facilitating access to these records for current and future generations. LAC accepted the Auditor General’s recommendations. In the fall of 2014, LAC approved a plan to eliminate a backlog of 98,000 containers of Government of Canada documentary heritage by December 2015. A report on results of the backlog reduction project is provided on a monthly basis to LAC’s senior management. Here is an overview of progress made as of April 10, 2015.
The overview consists of a single chart showing 63% completed, 37% remaining.

Kudos to LAC for posting this report.

I would have liked somewhat more information - What's been done? How is it now accessible? What's remaining? Is the part that's been completed typical of the remainder? I'm reminded of the ninety-ninety rule in software development
"The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time."

Another reason to volunteer with your FHS

During National Volunteer's Week at last Saturday's BIFHSGO meeting everyone who volunteers with the Society was asked to stand --  a goodly number did, but not a majority -- and were recognized. Do you know a non-profit, including family history society, that's not looking for volunteers?
New research from Johns Hopkins University "suggest that retirees who take part in meaningful social activity can prevent shrinkage in their brains’ memory centers and avert age-related cognitive problems."  There are benefits both ways.
Read the story Senior Volunteers Ward Off Brain 'Shrinkage' at
And in case you think an extra round of golf would be just as effective, check out this article from Deric's Mindblog which concludes:

"there is no evidence for an increase in relative risk reduction in cognitive decline as a function of increasing levels of physical activity."

Thursday, 16 April 2015

WDYTYA? Live Underway

Twitter is buzzing with news from Who Do You Think You Are? Live which seems to be busy on its first day. This image, via a tweet is from a Society of Genealogists.
presentation, this one to a packed house by Janet Few who will be at BIFHSGO's September conference as well as giving a remote presentation at the OGS conference in Barrie.

Every year Findmypast puts on a special promotional effort, this time, to mark the initiative to place online the British 1939 National Registration, they have a Tea Room with period costumes for the waiters and waitresses. Apparently the Findmypastries are rather tasty! See the Vine video below.

There are specials.
The May issue of Family Tree magazine is available in web edition for just 99p during the event. Go to
Ancestry has free access from the 16th to the 18th to over 21 million records from Birmingham & The Midlands. Criminal, Parish & more at

Soldiers of the First World War Digitization Update for April

As of 15 April, 143,613 of 640,000 files are available online on the Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database.
A month ago, on March 13, 129,271 files were available so 14,342 files were digitized during the month. At that rate the digitization would be complete in another three years and it will have taken about as long to complete the digitization as it did to fight the war.
LAC informs us that they are "digitizing the service files systematically, from box 1 to box 10686, which roughly corresponds to alphabetical order. Please note that over the years, the content of some boxes has had to be moved and, you might find that the file you want, with a surname that is supposed to have been digitized, is now located in another box that has not yet been digitized. The latest digitized box is #2057, which corresponds to the surname “Cussons”."

Ancestry links Gloucestershire, England, Gaol Registers, 1815-1879

Ancestry identifies them as "Web", a name index with links to, in this case the Gloucestershire Archives Genealogical Search for gaol records from Gloucestershire County Council.

You can click on the link to pay and look at the official record, but, before doing so I suggest searching with the name and year to see if there's a newspaper article on the case at the British Newspaper Archive or Findmypast's newspaper collection.

I tried a search on Reid and found a Michael Reid committed on 8 Aug 1860. The newspaper search found an eight paragraph article in the Gloucester Journal for August 18, 1860

Kingston and Quinte Branch OGS April Meetings

On April 18, 2015 Kingston Branch of OGS will hear Janet Connor will speak on the topic "Social Media and Internet Sites for Genealogy - for Beginner to Advanced." She will discuss the use of different types of social media such as blogs, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc. for use in your genealogy research.

The meeting starts at 10 am in the Wilson Room (second floor) of the Central Branch, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, 130 Johnson Street, Kingston

On the same day Quinte Branch of Ontario Genealogical Society will feature a digital presentation by Geoff Rasmussen from the Legacy Webinar Library to learn about the 2014 innovations in Legacy Family Tree 8 software.

This session will cover:
~ Origins reports
~ Migration reports
~ Migration mapping
~ Instant duplicate checking
~ Potential problem alerts and gaps
~ Enhanced sourcing
~ Enhanced chronology view
~ New wall charts
~ Shared events
~ Expanded color coding

and much more.

The event starts at 1 pm at Quinte West City Hall Library, 7 Creswell Drive, Trenton, Ontario

Wednesday, 15 April 2015 adds Canada, Imperial War Service Gratuities, 1919-1921

It's only 17,702 records, but what records!

"This collection contains records of Canadians who fought in British Imperial services (navy, army or air) instead of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during WWI and received payments (gratuities) after the war was over. Recipients had lived in Canada before the war and returned there afterward. The payments were equal to what the soldier would have received as a member of the CEF and depended on rank, length of service, etc.
Documents typically provide name, residence/address, year of registration, beneficiary, rank, and unit. The listing of a beneficiary is particularly helpful because this may be a spouse or next of kin."
It should be emphasized that these records relate to those who served in the British forces so will be of particular interest owing to the destruction of First World War British military records during the Second World War.

One record I looked at, for John Campbell Wright Reid included correspondence from the 1960s including the date of his death in the USA.

The records originate at Library and Archives Canada.

Second World War Canadian Unit Diaries and Col. C. P. Stacey

You may not be aware, I wasn't, that there are extensive war diaries for every unit of the Canadian forces during the Second World War. If your relative was on land, sea or air, even at one of the many Canadian bases of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, there should be a diary for his or her unit at Library and Archives Canada. Start the search at It may not mention your relative but will recount the unit experience.

That these diaries were maintained is largely due to one man, Historian Col. C P (Charles Perry) Stacey whose contributions are being celebrated in a display History in the Making – C. P. Stacey and Canadian Military Headquarters, at Canada House in London. It is created by the Canadian War Museum in co-operation with the Canadian High Commission.
Read more about the display in this article from the War Museum and about Stacey in this wikipedia article.

Thanks to Glenn Wright for the tip he managed to send even while busy putting last minutes touches to the presentations he's given this coming weekend for a conference of the Alberta Genealogical Society.

Note: Col C P Stacey is no relative of Col Stacey of Chicken Cannon fame.

Perth Historical Society Meeting Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Rare Man - A Rare Flower
The Purdon Conservation Area Story

For the Perth Historical Society April meeting, Rhodena Purdon Bell presents the story of the Purdon family's 1840s farm that evolved into one of Lanark County's Seven Wonders - the Purdon Conservation Area. It is unusual, to find an original homestead in the same family for almost two hundred years - and even more unusual that their land would become a famous conservation area.

The Purdon ancestors arrived from Scotland in 1821 and settled on 300 acres near McDonald’s Corners in the township of Dalhousie. Rhodena’s father, Joe Purdon left his mark on this land in many ways. He was a skilled carpenter, and came to be famous for his handmade boats, a Purdon boat, and for his hand-fashioned oars. But the most innovative and dedicated work in his lifetime, was the collection and protection of the exquisite Lady’s Slipper Orchid – a flower he found, in his childhood, growing near his one-room schoolhouse in the 1930s.

Joe Purdon discovered that orchids aren't particularly attractive to pollinating insects, and their cycle takes 15 years from pollination to flowering, so he painstakingly hand-pollinated plants for decades. He also thinned the brush to let in more sunlight and dismantled beaver dams to control the water level. Under his care, the colony grew from a few dozen plants to over 10,000 blooms. Today, the Purdon Conservation Area attracts thousands of visitors from far and wide, who make the trek to see these rare orchids and one of our County's most important natural sites.

Six generations later, Rhodena Bell carries on her family’s traditions, as the keeper of the original farmhouse and surrounding homestead, providing a pristine holiday place at the rustic cabins that her father built at Purdon Lake. She has also ensured that the love of their heritage has been passed on to her two children – the seventh generation.

The location is Perth's Royal Canadian Legion, home of the Hall of Remembrance, 26 Beckwith Street E., Perth, Thursday 16 April at 7:30pm
(Toonie donation)

Thanks to David Taylor for the information

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

FamilySearch adds Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538-2010

This FamilySearch database of Cornish and a few Devon records of baptisms (to 1910), marriages (to 1935), banns, and burials (to present) looks like an update. The database presently contains 202,325 images which appears to have been recently updated by 171,083 records.

Most of the records are for parishes in Cornwall.

Altarnon, Antony, Baldhu, Blisland, Boconnoc, Bodmin, Bolventor, Botus Fleming, Boyton, Bradoc, Breage, Budock, Calstock, Camborne, Camelford, Cardinham, Carnmenellis, Charlestown, Colan, Constantine, Cornelly, Crantock, Creed, Crowan, Cubert, Cuby, Cury, Davidstow, Duloe, East Looe, Egloshayle. Egloskerry, Falmouth, Feock, Flushing, Forrabury, Germoe, Gerrans, Godolphin, Gorran, Grade, Gulval, Gunwalloe, Gwennap, Gwinear, Halsetown, Hayle St Elwyn, Helston, Herodsfoot, Hessenford, Illogan, Isles of Scilly, Jacobstow, Kea, Kenwyn, Kilkhampton, Ladock, Lamorran, Landewednack, Landrake with St Erney, Landulph, Laneast, Lanhydrock, Lanivet, Lanlivery, Lanreath, Lansallos, Lanteglos by Camelford, Lanteglos by Fowey, Launcells, Launceston St Thomas, Lawhitton, Lelant, Lesnewth, Lewannick, Lezant, Linkinhorne, Liskeard, Little Petherick, Lostwithiel, Ludgvan, Luxulyan, Mabe, Maker, Manaccan, Marazion, Marhamchurch, Mawgan-in-Meneage, Mawnan, Menheniot, Merther, Mevagissey, Michaelstow, Millbrook, Minster, Morvah, Morval, Morwenstow, Mullion, Mylor, Newlyn East, Newlyn St Peter, North Hill, North Petherwin, North Tamerton, Otterham, Padstow, Par, Paul, Pelynt, Pencoys, Pendeen, Penwerris, Penzance Madron, Penzance St Mary, Penzance St Paul, Perran-ar-worthal, Perranuthnoe, Perranzabuloe, Phillack, Philleigh, Pillaton, Port Isaac, Porthleven, Poughill, Poundstock, Probus, Quethiock, Rame, Redruth, Roche, Ruan Lanihorne, Ruan Major, Ruan Minor, Sancreed, Sennen, Sheviock, Sithney, South Hill, South Petherwin, St Agne, St Allen, St Anthony in Meneage, St Anthony in Roseland, St Austell, St Blazey, St Breock, St Buryan, St Cleer, St Clement, St Columb Major, St Columb Minor, St Day, St Dennis, St Dominick, St Endellion, St Enoder, St Erme, St Erney, St Erth, St Ervan, St Eval, St Ewe, St Gennys, St Germans, St Gluvias, St Hilary, St Issey, St Ive, St Ives, St John, St Juliot, St Just in Penwith, St Just in Roseland, St Keverne, St Kew, St Keyne, St Levan, St Mabyn, St Martin by Looe, St Martin in Meneage, St Mawgan-in-Pydar, St Merryn, St Mewan, St Michael Penkevil, St Minver, St Neot, St Pinnock, St Sampson, St Stephen in Brannel, St Stephens by Launceston, St Stephens by Saltash, St Stithians, St Teath, St Tudy, St Veep, St Wenn, St Winnow, Stoke Climsland, Stratton, Talland, Temple, Tideford, Torpoint, Towednack, Tregony, Treleigh, Tremaine, Treneglos, Treslothan, Tresmere, Trevalga, Treverbyn, Trewen, Truro, Truro St George, Truro St Mary, Truro St Paul, Tuckingmill, Tywardreath, Veryan, Warbstow, Warleggan, Week St Mary, Wendron, Whitstone, Withiel, Zennor.

Don't forget that Cornwall has an active online parish clerk program.

There are just a couple of parishes from Devonshire.

St Giles on the Heath, Werrington

Find the Devon online parish clerks at

FamilySearch update Ontario Marriages

There are now 1,382,652 records in the FamilySearch Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927 collection, an increase from 1,136,379 records when I last posted on this collection in October 2013. The collection has an extra year, to 1928, and also includes some scattered earlier marriages, as early as 1801.

WDYTYA? Live News

The UK's biggest family history event, Who Do You Think You Are? Live gets underway on Thursday in it's new location in Birmingham. It's the go to place for British, especially English and Welsh, family historians.

As well as the many stands from commercial and non-commercial organizations a major attraction is the Society of Genealogists Workshop Programme which runs four parallel sessions from 10 am to past 5 pm. Speakers who have already been to Ottawa include Else Churchill, Audrey Collins, Janet Few, Kirsty Gray, and Debbie Kennett.

There are others I hope we can have in Ottawa in the future including Rebecca Probert. Fortunately I was able to hear the two talks she's giving at Genealogy in the Sunshine last month. I recommend attending her presentations if there are still seat available. If not you may be able to find standing room. Rebecca will also be selling her books including a new one. Stop by and wish her success in her new role, and this is the news, as department head of the School of Law at the University of Warwick, as of next September.

Maurice Gleeson, who will be a speaker at OGS Conference 2015 and the Toronto Branch OGS Genetic Genealogy event on 6 June has posted that he will be be placing videos on presentations given at the Family Tree DNA presentation area during WDYTYA? Live on YouTube.

Why not Watson for Genealogy?

A couple of worthwhile blog posts on the future of genealogy came my way over the weekend courtesy of Randy Seaver's weekly roundup Best of the Genea-Blogs.

Expanding Our View of What is Possible in Genealogical Research by James Tanner caught my attention with:

"Huge online programs have begun using sophisticated search algorithms to find source hints with digitized documents. For many new genealogists, finding their ancestors is just a matter of rapidly reviewing and evaluating documents suggested by the programs. Of course, as always, there are the detractors who claim that using the technology is somehow unacceptable, but the changes will come even more rapidly in the future. The old way of doing genealogy that I used thirty years ago is gone."
The Future of Genealogy - 6 Predictions by Louis Kessler attracted my attention with the following in the 4th prediction "Down with Standards. Up with APIs."
"We don’t want to transfer just data anymore. We want to connect the information available at the online repositories and online services to what we have and make corrections, add conclusions and connect the conclusions to their evidence. In other words, we want our data AND our reasoning AND the evidence behind our reasoning to transfer and connect seamlessly with the online resources."
"Once there is a company big enough that connects to everywhere by linking to all these APIs, it will becomes hugely popular, and the genealogical world will take another giant leap.
That company does exist, its called IBM and it has a technology called Watson - the same one that beat the two top champions of the long-running TV program Jeopardy in 2011. Watson can only have improved in the intervening four years. It's already at work in financial services, marketing and medical applications. A smart genealogy company would seek a partnership with IBM rather than reinventing the wheel."

Monday, 13 April 2015

Tobacco to win the war

100 years ago today, 13 April 1915, the Ottawa Journal in conjunction with the Montreal Gazette was promoting a subscription program to support our troops in Europe.  People were asked to send one dollar, or 25 cents to provide a parcel of comforts for the troops - in the parcel -- tobacco.
The 25c parcel had 50 cigarettes and 4 ounces of smoking mixture, some matches and a postcard addressed to the donor. The dollar pack had in addition one briar pipe, one rubber-lined tobacco pouch, one tinder lighter.
I suppose if the German poisonous gas didn't get you the tobacco smoke would -- eventually. But not before the tobacco companies had made a good profit from the addicted survivors.
How times have changed.

Norm Christie and ‘missing’ soldiers from the Battle of Vimy Ridge

A recent worthwhile read is Robert Sibley's article from the Nationl Post Ninety-eight years later, historian finds ‘missing’ soldiers from the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
I'm certainly in favour of identifying the remains of 44 Canadian Scottish soldiers who "died in one of the great battles of the war" (Vimy Ridge) and that "we should do them the honour of recovering their bodies." 
However the comments attributed to Christie, that the notion of Canada as a nation of peacekeepers is an ideological fabrication, do no honour to our military. Nobel Peace Prize winning Prime Minister Lester Pearson, who served during the First World War, is the name most associated with peacekeeping.There's no need to denigrate peacekeeping to promote valuing war-time service. Peacekeeping too is an important part of Canadian history.
This government could well afford to fully fund the recovery project Christie promotes, if it chose. By not doing so is Christie condemning the present government's neglect of Canada's military history - something of which they've rarely been accused? Perhaps if the article had been published anywhere other than that particular newspaper it would have had a more even perspective.