Thursday, 28 May 2015

Family historians identify unknown war dead

According to a (UK) Daily Telegraph story the number of identification cases sent to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, where someone believes they have worked out who is in an unidentified grave, has risen nearly ten fold in the past decade. The increase is attributed to online availability of records, interest generated by programs like WDYTYA and the anniversaries of the two world wars. Read it here.

FamilySearch updates Ontario Civil Registration files

On 27 May 2015 FamilySearch updated the following files:

Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947, now has 2,050,112 records with 947,200 images
Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927, now has 1,382,652 records with 904,988 images
Ontario Births, 1869-1912, now has 2,094,890 records with 413,055 images

You may find glitches. The search forms ask for deceased's name and I found one death record where the page returned included this notice.

British Newspaper Archive update

It's six weeks since I last posted on newspapers added to the British Newspaper Archive. Here are the major additions, more than 5 years, in the past month.

Ashton Weekly Reporter, and Stalybridge and Dukinfield Chronicle, The 1855 - 1856, 1858, 1860, 1862 - 1864, 1866 - 1871
Berwickshire Advertiser, The 1830, 1834, 1838, 1863, 1871, 1873, 1875 – 1876, 1878, 1880, 1915, 1931 – 1949, 1951 – 1955
Birmingham Daily Gazette 1863, 1866 - 1867, 1869 - 1870
Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press 1854 - 1855, 1859 - 1860, 1881 - 1882, 1884 - 1885, 1897
Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal 1849 - 1850, 1852 - 1860, 1862 - 1871
Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian 1871 - 1876
Saunders's News-Letter 1802 - 1809, 1813 - 1814, 1817 - 1826, 1830, 1832, 1835 - 1837, 1839, 1843 - 1844, 1846, 1856 - 1865, 1867
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 1916 - 1950
South Eastern Gazette 1830 - 1842, 1845 - 1851

Ottawa DNA Interest Group

On Saturday 30 May 2015 at 9:30 am the genetic genealogy group will meet in Room 226 at the City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive, Nepean, ON.
There will be a short presentation by Bill Arthurs based on his Titus family research where he will describe the process of identifying cousins using Y-DNA along with paper records. That will leave lots of time for a round table with an opportunity for all attendees to mention any progress, challenges or queries they may have.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Historical Society of Ottawa May meeting

Go to the Society website and you might think all that's on offer this Friday is the annual general meeting. Maybe the webmaster is flagging. Or, perhaps the thought is that there's excitement enough with the AGM - perhaps earth-shaking things in store for the Society we're not being told about.

There is a presentation on the agenda. Glenn Wright will be speaking on "Controversy and Compromise: Choosing a Flag for Canada, 1964-1965"
It has been fifty years since Canada adopted a distinctive flag. In this presentation, Glenn Wright will look behind the scenes at the controversy that arose out of the decision of the Liberal government to adopt a distinctive flag for Canada in the spring of 1964 and the ultimate compromise that gave us the flag we have today. He will also introduce us to the people, the personalities and political context surrounding this significant achievement.
Copies of Bryan Cook's newly published book on William Pittman Lett will be on sale.

HSO meets on Friday, May 29, at the Routhier Community Centre starting at 1:30pm, that's 30 minutes later than usual.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

With Mocavo "You’re not the customer. You’re the raw material"

In his latest Irish Roots column John Grenham recounts the difficulties he's had getting information deleted from Mocavo, now a part of MyHeritage.  correction findmypast.  Read it here.

My apologies to MyHeritage for the incorrect attribution and thanks to Thomas MacEntee for pointing it out.

Is genetic genealogy being over-hyped?

In "The Business of Genetic Ancestry" broadcast on 26 May 2015 BBC Radio 4's Adam Rutherford took on the conflict between science and some businesses in genetic genealogy.

The programme was based on interviews with Mark Jobling (University of Leicester), Mark Thomas (University College London), Debbie Kennett (ISOGG and UCL), Julia Bell (client), Joanna Mountain (23andMe), Eran Elhaik (Sheffield University) and John Geraint (Green Bay Media).

The target of the scientists was claims about pinpointing origins of individuals based in DNA analysis. Today we don't expect everyone in any particular location to have a common unique DNA signature and the same has been true through much of human history.

Aim was taken at DNA satnav, see this Wired article and the peer reviewed article in Nature Communications.  US client Julie Matthews revealed that her test using this technique placed her origin in the Humber estuary. See Debbie Kennett's critique here. Those of us with mixed ancestry don't need much convincing the concept is fundamentally flawed. Eran Elhaik, the developer, has subsequently distanced himself from the commercial application and refining the technique.

The most pointed criticism was of DNA Cymru and the programme Who are the Welsh broadcast last earlier this year on the Welsh language TV station S4C. Read Debbie Kennett's critique here. A particular target was the claim that 3% of the current Welsh population could be DNA-associated as "Ancient Welsh." As program producer John Geraint explained when asked about the lack of  a scientific peer reviewed basic for the claim the technique is commercially confidential. DNA Cymru spokespersons had declined to participate in the program.

It's notable that three of the people involved, Mark Thomas, Debbie Kennett and presenter Adam Rutherford are associated with University College London.

The program is available at

Please don't volunteer

....... right now I can imagine leaders I know in the family history community busting a blood vessel just reading the headline.  The last thing they want is to have people discouraged from volunteering. But hear me out.

Sometimes the pleas for volunteers can go over the top - seems like they're laying a trip on you. They do have organisational roles to fill -- but don't let that make you succumb.

A poor reason for volunteering is that it's important to someone else. Life's too short to spend your free time doing things that aren't important to you. You'll probably end up regretting the decision and it may well turn into an unhappy experience for everyone.

Fortunately there are plenty of good reasons to volunteer:

- the mission and future of the organisation are important to you;
- you'll be in a position to help guide the organisation's direction;
- you'll be recognised as a leader;
- you'll enjoy the comradeship;
- you'll enjoy being of service;
- you'll establish relationships that can help you with your family history research and writing;
- you'll gain experience in something new, or enjoy contributing a skill you have mastered;
- you'll experience the joy of shared accomplishment;
- you'll have something to help keep your mind active and involved;
- you'll have something to put on your resume, if you're in the workforce, (and your obit if you're later in life!)

If you volunteer you can likely think of more.

The bottom line is to volunteer because it's important to you, not just because someone else says it is.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Roots 2015 Expert Panel

A tradition at the Quebec Family History Society Roots conferences is a closing Experts Panel session with conference speakers and VIP invitees. It's a highlight of the conference and will be again on June 21.

The panelists are:

Gary Schroder
Gary has been the President of the Quebec Family History Society (Q.F.H.S.)
since 1995 and has taught family history courses at various institutions including McGill
University, Champlain College and the Pointe Claire Public Library. As well as being the editor
of various genealogical publications, he started the All Day Genealogical Seminars at the
Q.F.H.S. Heritage Centre. He has given lectures on numerous genealogical topics at locations
from Victoria in British Columbia to Trinity College in Dublin. Gary was a Member of the
Special Advisory Board of Library and Archives Canada as well as being a Research Consultant
to the British, American, and Canadian Versions of the television program “Who Do You Think
You Are“. He has been a frequent guest on Canadian radio and television promoting the
educational value of family history research. He will be giving three presentations at Roots
Saturday June 20: How To Find and Use Church Records in Quebec
Saturday June 20: How to Find Land and Probate Records in Quebec
Saturday June 20: Cemeteries in Montreal: Where They are and How to Find Their Records

Glenn Wright
Glenn is the Past President of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa. He has served on the Special Advisory Board of Library and Archives Canada as well as being a Member of the Advisory Board of He has been a frequent speaker at genealogical and history events across Canada. Glenn has spoken on Mounted Police records, immigration, census, and vital records. One of his special interests is military resources from the War of 1812 to the Second World War. He is the author of the best genealogical guide to World War One Canadian genealogical resources, “Canadians at War 1914-1919: A Research Guide to World War One Service Records “. Glenn will be giving two presentations at Roots 2015.
Saturday June 20: Finding Your Great War Canadian Ancestors: 1914-1919
Sunday June 21: The British Army in Canada, 1758-1871: Genealogical Sources and Research Strategies

Deborah Robertson
Deborah is a Staff Member of the Point Claire Public Library. Among her many achievements she taught English as a second language to students at John Abbott College. She studied her own family history for decades and appreciate the feelings of her family being new to Montreal in the early 1900’s. These interests led her to The British Immigration and Colonization Association. Her presentation will focus on this organization and how this and similar organizations played an important role in the history of immigrants from the British Isles to Canada. This will be the topic of her Roots 2015 presentation on Saturday June 20: The British Immigration and Colonization Association of Montreal: Its People, Place, and Time

Edward Zapletal
Ed has been co-owner and publisher at Moorshead Magazine since 2008, publisher of Your Genealogy Today (formerly Family Chronicle), Internet Genealogy, and History Magazine. He has more than 30 years of experience in publishing, covering a wide variety of titles and markets. He has been researching his Czech family history for many years.
Both his paternal and maternal grandfathers worked for the Bata Shoe Company in Zlin, Czech
Republic and immigrated to Canada in 1939 when the company relocated to Batawa, Ontario near Trenton. In recent years he has travelled back to his ancestral homeland and discovered a new perspective on family history research.
He will be giving a Roots 2015 presentation. Saturday June 20: Walking in Their Footsteps, Experience Your Ancestral Village Founder of Global Genealogy

Rick Roberts
Rick along with his wife Sandra were the founders of Global Genealogy the largest genealogical booksellers and genealogical book publishers in Canada. Rick’s family history addiction began during summer vacations on his grandparents’ farm, where rainy days were spent sorting through family pictures, documents and artifacts while his grandmother told well-worn family stories. He has given a wide variety of genealogical workshops to historical and genealogical societies across Canada. He will be the Keynote Speaker on Friday June 19 at our Opening Ceremonies at the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal in the heart of downtown Montreal. Keynote Speaker: “Reflections on a Hobby That Got Out of Control“

Ed McGuire
Ed is the Past President of the Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and was an Army Officer
before joining IBM in Vermont. Ed began pursuing his family history in 1975 and has been working on it ever since. His main areas of interest are Vermont, Quebec, Ireland, and Germany as well as Genetic Genealogy. He will be giving two presentations at Roots 2015.
Saturday June 20: Connecting 21st Century Vermonters to their Quebec Roots
Saturday June 21: DNA Testing: Another Tool in Our Genealogical Toolbox

Luc Lepine
Luc is a military historian with a M.A. in history from the University of Montreal and a PH.D from the University of Quebec at Montreal as well as studying at Royal Military College in Kingston. He has worked as a Reference Archivist for the Archives Nationales du Quebec as
well as having worked for the Quebec Department of Education. He has taught history courses
for the Canadian Armed Forces as well as having given numerous presentations to numerous
historical and genealogical societies. He is the author of two books on the War of 1812, The
Militia Officers of Lower Canada 1812-1815 and Quebec and the War of 1812 as well as creating a database of over 10,000 militiamen who participated in the War of 1812. Luc will be giving two presentations at Roots 2015.
Sunday June 21: “The Military Origin of Dit names in Quebec“
Sunday June 21: “The War of 812 in Quebec: Genealogical Resources “

Jacques Gagne
Jacques had a distinguished career as an Executive with RCA
Victor and Columbia Records in Canada where he worked with major Quebec record artists like
Claude Dubois and also had the opportunity to get to know major World recording artists from
Leonard Bernstein to Tony Bennett, to Janis Joplin, to Andy Williams. After his retirement from the music industry he developed a passion for genealogy that has never abated which included creating compilations including Church records in Quebec, The Irish in Quebec, The Native Peoples of Quebec, The Loyalists in Quebec, The People of Gaspe, The Huguenots, and How Do
Find Your Ancestors in France? If your ancestors came to New France in the 17th or 18th
centuries then they probably came from “Old France“. Jacques will have a booth at our
Genealogical Resources Fair on Saturday and Sunday to answer your genealogical questions and
to show you how in the past few years a wealth of genealogical material has become available in

Lorraine Gosselin
Lorraine is a graduate of Concordia University with a BA Honours degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. After a distinguished business career with Bell Canada she has devoted a large amount of time to genealogical research. She has held numerous seminars for the Q.F.H.S. on a wide variety of genealogical topics as well as given genealogical lectures in French and in English to genealogical and historical societies across Quebec. She also writes CompuTree, the PC/Web column for Connections, the Q.F.H.S. journal. She will be giving a presentation on Saturday June 20: Exploring the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec (BAnQ) Website: A Treasure
Trove of Information.

Marilyn Gillespie
Helping people create family history photobooks is a natural progression for Marilyn who has photographed families for over 25 years as a professional photographer. In her talk, Marilyn will show you the entire process, from selecting, scanning, restoring or retouching the photos, to collecting the stories and designing the photobooks. The end result will turn your
research into a cherished family heirloom. She will be giving a presentation on Saturday June 20
“Discover How to Turn Your Photos and Research in to an Archival Photobook“

Johanne Gervais
Johanne worked over 25 years at various large companies in Montreal developing and implementing computer business systems. She became interested in genealogy while helping her husband write a book about his own family. In 2008 she left the corporate world and dedicated herself to family history travelling all over the world in search of her family’s ancestors. She specializes in tracing ancestors of French Canadian families as well as being an editor and self-publisher. She will be giving two presentations at Roots 2015:
Saturday June 20: “Self-Publishing Your Family History”
Sunday June 21: “ The French Canadian Disease “ in 1648 three sisters immigrated to New
France with a unique disease that affects one out of every 1,000 French Canadians. Find out if
you are a descendant of one of these three sisters.

Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne
Denyse is a Reference Archivist at the Montreal Branch of the Bibliotheque et Archives
Nationales du Quebec (BAnQ) and is the genealogical consultant for the Quebec version of the “Who Do You Think You Are“ television program. She was the genealogist for Adhemar the
database of Montreal Landowners and Tenants 1642-1804 for the Canadian Centre of Architecture. Also she is the award winning author of “Le Proces de Marie-Josephe Angelique“ an inquiry into a Black Slave accused of burning down parts of Montreal in 1734.
Her Presentation for Sunday June 21: Coroners Files at the BAnQ

Lesley Anderson
Lesley is has been researching her own family origins for over 40 years. Lesley has taught Computer and Genealogy classes for the Ottawa Catholic Board Continuing Education program for many years. She was the Director of Education for the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa and
has worked for for over 7 years. Lesley has given a wide variety of genealogical presentations all over the world. She will be giving two presentations at Roots 2015.
1: What's New on Ancestry-Saturday June 20
2: Searching for Your Irish Ancestors on Ancestry-Sunday June 21.

Stanley Diamond
Stanley, founder and President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal, answer questions about genealogical research in Eastern Europe as well as of course Jewish Genealogical Research. A graduate of McGill University and Harvard University, Stanley has been a speaker all over the World
on a wide variety of genealogical topics as well as being a Research Consultant on the major Genealogical programs including " Who Do You Think Are " on NBC, CBC, BBC, and ABC ( Australia ) and the " Finding Your Past " series on PBS. In 2002 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

For more on Roots2015 and the Quebec Family History Society go to

FREE live streaming from Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.

Here are the FREE live streaming presentations, 14 hours of them, being offered from the 46th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.  Most are generic, not specifically US-oriented.

Friday, June 5
FR007: Be Prepared with a Genealogy Disaster Plan - Denise May Levenick.
FR018: Five Tips for Successful Research in a New Location - J. H."Jay" Fonkert, CG.
FR019: Genetic Genealogy and the Next Generation - Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD and Paul Woodbury.
FR032: Finding and Utilizing German Church Records - Dr. Michael D. Lacopo.

Saturday, June 6
SA007: Google Tools and Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries - Lisa Louise Cooke.
SA014: Tho' They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records - Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA021: No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Ancestors - Lisa A. Alzo, MFA.
SA033: Plotting, Scheming and Mapping Online - Cyndi Ingle.
SA035: Midwestern and Plains States Level Census Records - Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.
SA047: Update: Google! Everything New that You Need to Know for Genealogy - Lisa Louise Cooke.

Sunday, June 7
SU005: Family History Adhesive: Science and Simple Tech 4 Binding Families - Janet Hovorka, MLIS.
SU015: The Hidden Web: Digging Deeper - Cyndi Ingle.
SU022: Who, What, When, Where? Using Journalism Techniques to Write Your Story - Anita Paul.
SU030: Get to Know Your Geezers - Matthew Hovorka.

To take these in you'll need to register here and then find session descriptions, speaker bios, suggested experience levels and schedule details. Remember EST is three hours later than times in the conference schedule.

In previous years I've enjoyed SCGS streamed sessions. Unfortunately travel this year means I'll miss them.

Comment. Some people organising conferences worry free streaming sessions will take away from conference registrations. SCGS, with the assistance of sponsor, continues to offer these which says to me that isn't their experience in any substantial way. I suspect RootsTech would be of the same view.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Don't miss out on BIFHSGO member discounts

There's lots of time left to register for September's BIFHSGO conference but some people like to get it done before taking off to their cottage. So, if you're a member remember you need to login in order to get the member’s conference rate.

There are two tutorial videos available to help. One demonstrates the login procedure and assists you in recovering your Login Name and Password. The other demonstrates the new online conference registration procedure (which allows you to register online and pay by cheque, Credit card or PayPal).

The Member’s Only Login video link is

 The Online Registration video link is

As a bonus when you go to the member area you'll find another saving opportunity.

Genealogy on the Cutting Edge

The following is a Primary Call for Presentations for OGS Conference 2016

The Ontario Genealogical Society’s Toronto Branch will host the Society’s annual conference on June 3-5, 2016 at Toronto's International Plaza Hotel. The Society (OGS) enjoys the largest membership of any Canadian family history organization. The conference theme, “Genealogy on the Cutting Edge”, has been selected to inspire excitement among speakers, exhibitors and attendees alike.

In keeping with this theme, we invite proposals for presentations on: (1) the latest developments in archives, libraries, museums and societies in the heritage sector, (2) recently discovered or released genealogical records, (3) newly developed genealogical databases, transcriptions or indexes, (4) innovative theoretical or methodological approaches to genealogical or historical research, including case histories, (5) cutting-edge technology and its application for family historians, whether in information management, mobile computing, genetic testing and analysis, or other emerging fields.

Most sessions will be one hour long. However, we are open to proposals for shorter "what's new" presentations, longer seminars, or multi-part lectures. Topics for interactive, hands-on workshops are also welcome (typically half-day sessions). Speakers will receive an honorarium, plus appropriate expenses and complimentary Conference registration. In early 2016 speakers will submit content for our multi-media digital “Bonus Materials” package – including, but not restricted to, traditional syllabus text files.

Please submit your proposals by e-mail. Include your full name, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, website address (if applicable) and biographical information, including recent speaking credits. For each proposal, please provide a unique title and a summary of at most 250 words, and identify the intended audience (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and A/V requirements. Multiple proposals are encouraged.


To submit proposals or ask questions, please contact the Conference 2016 Program Committee at:

A supplementary call for presentations on late-breaking cutting-edge developments will be issued closer to the event. Anyone considering this option is encouraged to provide a heads-up of what may be in the works. For more information about OGS and Toronto Branch respectively, please visit: and

Gwyneth Pearce
Secretary – Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society
Now on Facebook and Twitter @TOFamilyHistory

Internet Genealogy: June/July 2015

Here are the contents of the new Internet Genealogy issue with the articles I found of particular value bolded.

Col. Joseph B. Dorr’s Vases
Constance R. Cherba researches the life of Civil War Colonel J.B. Dorr, and locates a missing heirloom through some persistent online searching

ONLINE ESSENTIALS: Four Webhosting Basics for Family Researchers!
Tony Bandy offers some advice to get started on building your family history website

Bagging a Live One
Mary Kircher Roddy suggests connecting with cousins you never knew you had to increase your chances of research success

Genealogy Apps for Your iPhone or Android
George G. Morgan explores the world of apps for genealogy available for iOS and Android devices

The Confederacy’s “Treasury Girls”
David A. Norris looks at how records of women who worked as treasury clerks during the Civil War are easy to find

Online Safety: Protecting Your Data
Carol Richey looks at seven defensive steps you can take now to protect your valuable data

Online Resources for Finding World War II Ancestors
Jennifer Holik offers tips and strategies for starting the research on your World War II military ancestor

How Do You Put Out a Genealogical Wildfire?
Robbie Gorr emphasizes the need for family historians everywhere to be vigilant about citing their sources

Diane L. Richards looks at websites and related news that are sure to be of interest.
(Comment: Sure to be of interest except if you don't have US ancestry!)

The Internet Archive Picture Collection 
David A. Norris examines a great source for historic pictures you can use to supplement your research

Family Tree Builder: Now for Mac!
Tony Bandy looks at the Mac release of MyHeritage’s popular Family Tree Builder

The Back Page 
Tell Your Story… Change the World!
(Comment: I can't resist posting a link to a TED talk on which this article is based. . Be aware of the comments on the smartphone app mentioned before downloading it.)

Advance notice: Voices from the Dust – Ottawa’s Rootstech

A date for your diary, Saturday, June 20th, 2015, 1:00pm to 5pm

That's when the Ottawa Stake Family History Centre offers its annual Voices from the Dust – Ottawa’s Rootstech Family History Conference.

Speakers and Workshops this year are:

Sarah Chatfield – Researching Your Family History at Library and Archives Canada
Romaine Honey – Genealogy Resources and Services at the Ottawa Public Library
Gloria Tubman – Parish Records a Resource for Family Historians
Magdalene Carson – Your Family History in Book Form as an Enduring Heirloom
Ken McKinlay – Doing Family Tree Research in Your Pajamas
Kyla Ubbink – Keeping the Past: Storing and Preserving Family Archives and Memorabilia
Brenda Bowman – Learn FamilySearh Indexing
Shirley-Ann Pyefinch – A Place for You and Me!
There will also be selected recordings from this year’s Rootstech conference.