Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Small Sign of Progress at LAC

Sean Graham, frequent researcher at Library and Archives Canada and PhD candidate in history at the University of Ottawa, tweeted out this photo of a new carpet installed in the second floor south reading room at 395 Wellington.

Sad to reflect that expectations of the institution sank so low that new carpet is tweetworthy.

The room has been underused for years. Let's look forward to the space becoming more functional, not just storage for obscure open shelf reference materials as previously.

New and Updated Southern Hemisphere Commonwealth Records at Ancestry

Got relatives who went south? These records on Ancestry may be of interest.

There are now 5,157,166 records in the updated Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922 comprising incomplete records for:

New South Wales — 1788-1910
Northern Territory — 1870-1910
Queensland — 1829-1910, 1915-1919
South Australia — 1842-1922
Tasmania — 1803-1910
Victoria — 1836-1910
Western Australia — 1841-1905
The information available varies. Some early index records give the mother's maiden name, some later ones only the father's and give only a range of years in which the birth fell.

For New Zealand there's a new database with 9,537 records from Who's Who in New Zealand and the Western Pacific, 1908, 1925, 1938 linked to images of the publication. Many of those included are originally from the UK.

Eastern Cape, South Africa, Estate Files, 1962-1971 has 425,696 records new to Ancestry sourced from FamilySearch. You can browse the files year by year; there is no name index and they don't appear to be in alphabetical order.

Try BIFHSGO on Facebook and Twitter

Did you notice these symbols in the right hand column of the BIFHSGO web site? They are the icons for BIFHSGO's presence on social media sites Facebook and Twitter.
Go ahead and try clicking on an icon. It won't bite!

f for Facebook gets you to a page which has news items added most days. 308 people, perhaps more now, likely genealogist friends, have clicked that they Like the site.

The little bird is for Twitter, the 140 character social network. Since July 2011 when BIFHSGO started on Twitter there have been 846 posts and 306 people follow it meaning that posts, mostly in association with monthly meetings and the annual conference, automatically appear in your Twitter feed.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Macleans on "Why are our national archives being locked from public view?"

An opinion piece by Anne Kingston in Macleans rehearses the familiar and sorry story at Library and Archives Canada. Few would argue with the article's view that Daniel Caron left the organization reputation shattered, its credibility in ruins. New management under Guy Berthiaume is working on restoration but can't do so alone.

Accepting recent recommendations from the Auditor General and sage advice from a Royal Society Expert Panel is encouraging. Even more so would be recognition from Minister of Canadian Heritage Shelly Glover that previous cuts went too far.

$80 million can be found for the Science and Technology Museum. $110 million is promised for the National Arts Centre. Both address structural deficiencies. The pressing deficiencies at aren't in the buildings but in the programs at LAC. A meaningful gesture toward restoring credibility in the organization's role in preserving and sharing Canada's documentary heritage would speak volumes. Not doing so would equally send a clear message about the Harper government.

Ancestry updates Canada, City and Area Directories, 1819-1906

There are now 8,299,563 indexed records in this predominately 19th century directory collection. Coverage reflects population.
In the West there's a single directory for Alberta, Calgary (1885), and a province wide directory for Saskatchewan (?) for 1888. The are 15 directories for Manitoba communities, mostly Winnipeg, and 25 for British Columbia with best coverage province-wide and for Victoria.
In Central Canada coverage is best: for Ontario for Toronto, Ottawa, London and Hamilton; in Quebec for Montreal and Quebec City.
Atlantic Canada has good coverage for Saint John (New Brunswick) and Halifax (Nova Scotia) with spotty coverage elsewhere. Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island are covered by six directories each.
Finally 13 are categorized as Canada and Multi-province which like the province wide counterparts are selective of high status individuals and businesses in their coverage.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

WDYTYA? Live: 16-18 April 2015

Thinking about a family history research trip to the UK in 2015. Consider timing it so you can take in the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, 16-18 April.
The schedule of presentations organized by the Society of Genealogists is now posted with lots of names familiar to me scheduled to speak: Dave Annal, Gill Blanchard, Else Churchill, Jackie Depelle, Janet Few, Simon Fowler, Michael Gandy, Julie Goucher, Kirsty Gray, John Hanson, Celia Heritage, Sharon Hintze, Doreen Hopwood, Debbie Kennett, Rosemary Morgan, Eric Probert, Rebecca Probert, Alec Tritton, There will also be celebrities, stands from commercial and non-profit organizations to browse and an opportunity for one-on-one consultations with experts.
Check out the full details at

BIFHSGO Conference Call for Presentation Proposals

The 21st Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference will take place September 18 - 20, 2015. I'm told it will most likely be at Library and Archives Canada again. Conference themes are:
Scotland - family history
Photographs in Genealogy
Technology for genealogy (i.e hardware, software, apps, websites, databases, social media and DNA analysis tools)
The call for speakers is open until January 31, 2015. Proposals for lectures, workshops, seminars and panel sessions are sought. Submission details are at

Monday, 15 December 2014

Progress on digitization of LAC Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database.

LAC announced on Monday that 101,452 of 640,000 files are available online via the Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database.
The previous total, on November 18, was 78,914 of the 640,000 files available online. 22,538 files added in 28 days is a rate of 805 per day.  If continued at that rate the digitization would be complete in about October 2016.
While initially it appeared the files were being digitized in alphabetical order lately I see no obvious pattern in the order they're being selected.

Anglo-Celtic Roots Winter 2014

The 44 page Winter 2014 issue of BIFHSGO's quarterly chronicle is hitting mailboxes and supermailboxes full of the usual assortment of news and articles.
It includes the only article I've contributed this year, aside from the regular Cream of the Crop column with Ken McKinlay. Canada's 1914 War Dead looks at some of those who gave their lives in the first few months of the war when the Canadian Expeditionary Force had not yet arrived in France. Did you know three Canadians were killed in a battle in the South Pacific in November 1914?
There are two other military articles, by Betty Warburton and a writing competition piece by Brenda Turner.
Anne Renwick, another successful author in the writing competition, writes about an ancestral home and Wendy Crome on DNA.
Anglo-Celtic Roots is a BIFHSGO benefit of membership.

Call for Speakers – Genetic Genealogy Day in Toronto

"Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society is planning a one-day workshop on 6 June 2015 on Genetic Genealogy and its uses in family history research. We are looking for speakers who would like to be take part. The workshop will deal with the main types of DNA testing that are used by genealogists as well as how the results from genetic testing are used in conducting or supporting genealogical research. We hope to offer lectures for audiences at the beginner level as well as for people with a more advanced level of knowledge who have used DNA testing.

You’ll find our detailed call for presentations at The deadline to submit a proposal for this workshop is Saturday, 17 January 2015."

Thanks to Gwyneth Pearce, Secretary of Toronto Branch, for the tip.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

BIFHSGO's Last Monthly Meeting at LAC

Approaching 395 Wellington on Saturday morning, 13 December 2014, with banners restored in front of the building.

The Secret Bench of Knowledge is out in all weathers.

Terry and Tad Findlay arrived early as Terry was one of the speakers at the Great Moments event. He spoke of their travels to push back Tad's Kent ancestry.

Brian Glenn gave a "Before BIFHSGO" Education Talk explains the key dos and don’ts for a good PowerPoint presentation.

BIFHSGO President Barbara Tose prepares to give opening announcements and remind of the change in meeting location made necessary by a steep price increased imposed by Public Works and Government Services Canada. Two members were so keen on the move they went there a month early!

There was an appreciative crowd in attendance.

Program Director Jane Down introduced and thanked the four presenters.

Brenda Turner recounted the journey researching her ancestry many of whom found final resting places in West Templeton Cemetery.
Ian Browness revealed some out-of-the-ordinary sources he discovered in his talk A Lost Brother Re-discovered.

Sandra Adams explained why a search for Henry Shelverton, a name you'd think would be easy to research, was a challenge as he spent time hiding under an assumed name and how she discovered his whereabouts.

Those not at the meeting could still benefit from the advice tweeted out:

Stuck looking for info on lost ancestors? Remember to search Google Books for the names. Those old books can be a #genealogy treasure trove.

Can't find them in the census? Expand your search by looking for the family using first names only and leaving off the surname.

Always keep searching even when you think there is nothing more to find so you too can have a great moment! Thanks to our wonderful speakers.