Sunday, 1 February 2015

OGS Conference 2015

Program information for the end-of-May OGS Conference 2015 is now available at
Conference Chair Patti Mordasewicz and colleagues have organized an attractive program with something that's bound to please every OGS member, and many others. What are the highlights?

Following the Friday Workshops Kirsty Gray will give the opening keynote “If We Could Turn Back Time.”

Saturday starts with a plenary panel session moderated by Thomas MacEntee which will give everyone the opportunity to hear views from top conference speakers; Richard M. Doherty, Dr. Maurice Gleeson, Kirsty Gray, and Dave Obee on challenges, concerns and opportunities related to tracking our ancestors and leaving behind our own tracks to follow.
Among the presentation that day is a streamed-in talk by Dr Janet Few who will speak on Uproar and Disorder: the Bible Christians of North Devon and their impact upon nineteenth century Canada. The after-dinner speaker on Saturday evening is Dr. Maurice Gleeson, that's my tip for the "not to miss."

On Sunday Dr Janet Few, who was a hit at the 2014 BIFHSGO conference, and is #1 Rockstar Genealogist for Britain and the Commonwealth, will give a second remote presentation "Putting Your Ancestors in their Place: an introduction to one-place studies." There's plenty more, but I'll show my bias by highlighting a streamed in presentation "Doing Family History Research from Your Home" by BIFHSGO Director Ken McKinlay.

Click to see the full programs for Saturday and Sunday.

Poll: Conference or Seminars?

This has been a topic of debate in BIFHSGO. The society runs an annual conference each September, the next is September 18 - 20, 2015. Last year was by most measures the most successful ever. With multiple presentations in the same time slot attendees can usually find something of interest. Folks often find more than one presentation appealing meaning making a choice. It's not like a box of chocolates where you can go back and select your second, and third choice another time until you're staring at an empty box. In the unlikely event you can't find something of interest there's the marketplace where you can browse and buy or a research room where you can access commercial databases and advice for free.

Instead of an annual conference some organizations, such as the Toronto Branch of OGS, hold several one day events. That's in addition to half day events and short courses. The next day-long one is Finding Your Upper Canada Ancestors on Saturday 11 April followed by Genetic Genealogy on 6 June. For me the Upper Canada one is of zero interest; genetic genealogy may well bring me to Toronto. With these events you don't get the substantive marketplace or research room you enjoy with a conference.

There's also the middle ground. The Quebec Family History Society have held "Roots" conferences roughly every three years, the next is 19-21 June. QFHS has an active program of theme workshops throughout the year.

The effort in organizing a conference with more than 200 people is substantially greater than that required for a one day event. Most organizations run a program of monthly meetings, which in BIFHSGO's case can attract almost as many attendees as the conference, with a lot less detailed planning than is applied for the conference and this likely applies for a seminar series.

What's your preference? Please add your voice by answering this poll, or leave a more detailed response as a comment.

Benchmarks Update for January 2015

15 sites in the survey improved in rank during the month, 13 declined. Every site ranking better than 40,000, except which dropped marginally, saw improved ranking. The largest percentage gainers were and

Alexa Rank.

Website 31-Jan-15 31-Dec 3,445 3,591 698 740 5,079 5,105 18,586 19,287 5,649 6,673 17,594 17,521 64,259 70,310 376,722 437,933 21,345 22,110 10,022 11,148 59,159 52,225 41,444 38,496 55,761 58,419 160,251 155,676 80,168 81,203 17,767 17,750 40,848 35,149 64,967 63,079 402,008 445,215 674,668 867,879 2,980,096 3,937,595 5,469,547 4,206,665 412,460 403,376 367,827 404,747 128,051 110,060 1,213,653 1,120,531 729,188 668,105
anglo-celtic-connections 302,127 267,312

The British Newspaper Archive now has 9.95 million pages available online and should reach the landmark 10 million pages very soon. There's a huge list of latest additions at

Did I miss something significant? If so please post a comment with statistics if applicable.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Genealogical and Genetic Ancestors

Here is an informative article comparing the number of genealogical ancestors you have at any generation with the number of genetic ancestors. The short answer is you get DNA from about 2 to the power n ancestors n generations back, up to 8 generations, then about 68 additional ancestors for each generation after that.
A section of Miscellaneous observations at the end of the article explains how it's possible for a child to share more DNA with a cousin than either of his parents have in common with that cousin. why it's much easier to not be inbred according to genetic ancestors than by genealogical ancestors.

via Tweet from Debbie Kennett

Dalhousie Libraries’ University Archives Online Collections

Halifax's Dalhousie Libraries’ University Archives has digitized the university yearbooks and calendars.
The yearbook collection, available as pdfs for browsing and searching, runs from 1927 to 1975. If you or a family member graduated from Dal you'll likely find them there, with a photo.
Calendars are from 1855/56 to 1950/51, also as pdfs
Also online as pdfs is the entire archive of Dalhousie Gazette, one of North America’s oldest student newspapers.
Looking for a name? It appears that while you can search across the entire corpus of each collection you need to download the issue identified and then search it using the pdf search.
There are a few other collections, view the list at

Friday, 30 January 2015

Findmypast Friday Additions: Essex and Warwickshire

Continuing to build its collection of parish register transcripts, this week Findmypast has added over 845,000 parish records from Warwickshire and over 600,000 from Essex.

Warwickshire baptism Index, 1538-1900, contains 242,700 records
Warwickshire marriage Index, 1538-1900, contains 439,940 records
Warwickshire burial index, 1538-1900, contains 163,200 records although more than 1,200 have no name or identifying information associated. A few others include a description such as A Poore Wayfaring Man, A Stranger, A Traveler Woman From Brooks. More have only a first name.

Essex baptisms index, 1538-1900, contains 247,271 records
Essex banns Index, 1754-1950, contains 25,904 records.
Essex marriage Index, 1538-1900, contains 136,952 records
Essex burial Index 1538-1900 contains 192,135 records and has fewer anonymous entries than Warwickshire, but still with its share of entries lacking a name but with a description such as A Nurse Child, A Poor Man, A Soldier.

This week Findmypast has also released records of Kindertransport, the British scheme to rescue Jewish children from Nazi occupied regions, over 425,000 births, marriages and deaths from Tasmania, Australia and, the Ohio Obituary Index, 1814-2013, referencing over 2.7 million obituaries that were printed in Ohio newspapers.

Newly Digitized City Directories from Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada announces on their blog availability as pdfs of 152 new directories for the Ontario cities of Hamilton (1853-1900), Kingston (1865-1906)  and London (1856-1901) and for the counties of Southwestern Ontario (1864-1900). They are available at

They form part of a new version of the online database Canadian Directories.

The Legacy of Winston Churchill

Today is the 50th anniversary of the memorial service and burial of Sir Winston Churchill. There's a very nice tribute in the form of a Gresham College lecture by Professor Vernon Bogdanor which opened my eyes to his contributions that go way beyond his WW2 leadership.
A YouTube video of the events of 30 January 1965 is at

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Migration To, From and Within the British Isles

Exodus: Movement of the People was a conference organized in September 2013 by the Halstead Trust. A legacy is a series of short articles on various aspects of immigration, emigration, migration, stories of immigrants made good and on the present Relics of Empire.

You may be interested in the articles on Palatine Migration into England,  Short Sea Migration to the UKDiaspora in the East End, The Silk Weavers of Spitalfields, Migration to the UK in Pre-history,

Some of those with a Canadian connection are: Newfoundland "the other Ireland", Empire Settlement Schemes After WW1, The Great Migration of Canada, Assisted Emigration from Ireland, Barnado's Emigrant Children, The Female Middle Class Emigration Society, Irish Diaspora and the Typhus Epidemic of 1847, Fur Traders in Canada, the Hudson's Bay Company, Britain's Child Migrants, The Petworth Project, Emigration to Upper Canada in the 1930s. The Absurd and the Brave, From Yorkshire to Nova Scotia: reflections on a Migration ,,, and more

Acid-free, permanent or archival?

All papers are not created equal is a short blog post from Library and Archives Canada that may be helpful when you're standing in the store selecting the paper best for your applications.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Second Reading of Bill C-626 to reinstate the mandatory long-form census

I've previously mentioned Bill C-626, An Act to Amend the Statistics Act, which would reinstate the mandatory long-form census.  That Bill is on the order paper for debate in the House of Commons at second reading on Thursday, January 29.

I read that there is broad support for reinstatement from social science researchers across the country, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Medical Association.

Nation-wide on Wednesday January 28 a social media campaign is launching aiming to get this issue trending to bring mainstream media attention to the government's cancellation of the long-form census. If you support the aim of the Bill it would be helpful if you'd like or retweet any posts you see, or even better act on some of the suggestions at

Early English Books Texts Free Online

When I read that "the texts of the first printed editions of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton as well as lesser-known titles from the early modern era can now be freely read by anyone with an Internet connection" I was doubtful about the genealogical relevance. Now available through the University of Michigan Library are the texts of more than 25,000 manually transcribed documents from the first 200 years of the printed book (1473-1700).

It got a bit more interesting when I read the collection includes "thousands of less famous texts which offer unexplored avenues for discovery. Gardening manuals, cookery books, ballads, auction catalogues, dance instructions, and religious tracts detail the commonplace of the early modern period; books about witchcraft and sword fighting document its more exotic facets."

Still not convinced I did some searches and came across this item from 1698:

A BLACK LIST Of the NAMES, or Reputed NAMES, of Seven Hundred Fifty Two Lewd and Scandalous Persons, who, by the Endeavours of a SOCIETY set up for the promoting a Reformation of Manners in the City of London, and Suburbs thereof, have been Legally Prosecuted and Convicted, as Keepers of Houses of Bawdry and Disorder, or as Whores, Night-Walkers, &c. And who have thereupon been Sentenced by the Magistrates as the Law directs, and have accordingly been Punished (many of them divers times) either by Carting, Whiping, Fining, Imprisonment, or Suppressing their Licenses. All which (besides the Prosecution of many Notorious Cursers, Swearers, Sabbath-breakers, and Drunkards, not here incerted) hath been effected by the Society aforesaid.
There is no genealogical information, just the name and the behaviour which earned them a perpetual remembrance in the book.

If your ancestry is more noble you may be interested in this from 1675-6:
The baronage of England, or, An historical account of the lives and most memorable actions of our English nobility in the Saxons time to the Norman conquest, and from thence, of those who had their rise before the end of King Henry the Third's reign deduced from publick records, antient historians, and other authorities. 
Read more about the collection at and search from

QFHS: Roots 2015

The 2015 edition of the periodic Quebec Family History Society Roots conference will be held in Montreal from June 19 to 21, 2015.

The keynote speaker on Friday evening is Rick Roberts from Global Genealogy who will speak on
Genealogy: Reflections on a Hobby That Got Out of Control

Featured speakers over the weekend are Lesley Anderson, Teacher and Consultant,; Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne, Historian and Archivist; Johanne Gervais, Computer Specialist and Genealogist; Marilyn Gillespie, Professional Photographer; Lorraine Gosselin, Lecturer and Genealogist; Luc Lepine, Author, Military Historian; Ed McGuire, President, Vermont, French-Canadian Genealogy Society; Deborah Robertson,, Librarian and Genealogist; Glen Wright, Author, Lecturer; Edward Zapletal, Publisher, Family Chronicle Your Genealogy Today, Internet Genealogy, & History Magazine.

And, not forgetting Gary Schroder, President, Quebec Family History Society who has done much of the work to organize the conference.

For further information and to register go to