Wednesday, 21 August 2019

BIG NEWS: NGS and FGS to merge

The following is a news release issued simultaneously today. 21 August 2019 by FGS and NGS.
In a historic move, the boards of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announced today their intent to merge. The two organizations, both non-profit leaders in the dynamic genealogy industry, will form one consolidated group that will continue to operate as the National Genealogical Society. Both boards approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this week and jointly announced the news at the Opening Session of the FGS Family History Conference in Washington, D.C. this morning. 
Leaders of both organizations believe this merger will serve the genealogy community by improving the support of both individual members and societies in the pursuit of genealogical excellence. 
The organizational structure of NGS will be modified to increase functions that support genealogical societies and family organizations. Digitization projects of genealogical importance such as the War of 1812 pensions will continue. The two organizations will continue to operate independently while all details of the merger are completed, no later than October 1, 2020. 
Faye Stallings, President of FGS, said: “We are excited about this opportunity to combine with a premier organization that has been in operation since 1903. This will allow for improved and expanded services to help support societies.” Ben Spratling, President of the NGS, commented, “We look forward to continuing the strong legacy of FGS as a ‘gathering point’ for family historians and societies all across the nation.”
The merged entity will operate under the name National Genealogical Society which is the stronger component.
To be resolved is the path forward for organizations outside the US which have memberships in FGS.
Canada has no national genealogical organization but there is a precedent in other fields for Canadian branches of another nation's organization eventually becoming strong enough to form an independent national organization.
The UK might also consider the benefits of a similar amalgamation for the Society of Genealogists, Family History Federation (formerly Federation of Family History Societies) and perhaps some smaller organizations.

CAA does family history in Scotland

"Genealogy travel is a trend on the rise as people look to the past to understand their present."
CAA Magazine, Fall 2019 issue explores this through the eyes of Adam McCulloch who recounts his exploration of his Scottish ancestry. His supposed ancestor, Sir Godfrey McCulloch was executed in Edinburgh on 26 March 1697. From the Scotlands People Centre the trail leads him to Dumfries and Galloway, and on to Glasgow. Along the way, he retraces the ancestral journey and meets a McCulloch family historian.
According to the article, 50 million people worldwide claim Scottish heritage; the resident population is 5.5 million.
More than 3.5 million international visitors came to Scotland last year, 620 thousand from North America. The Scottish National Tourist Office is quoted as estimating that 34% of the Canadian visitors came to explore their ancestry.

Six FREE Webinars on 6 September 2019

The US Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) will host six free webinars live from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 6 September 2019.

11 a.m Eastern time. Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG®, CGL℠, “Reasonably Exhaustive Research: The First Criteria for Genealogical Proof.”

12:15 p.m. Eastern time. Martha Garrett, PhD, CG®, “Finding Immigrants Who ‘Disappeared’: A Research Approach Based on Recognizing and Challenging Assumptions.”

1:30 p.m. Eastern time. Judy G. Russell, JD, CG®, CGL℠, “Share and Share Alike: The Rules of Genealogical Privacy.”

3:30 p.m. Eastern time. Karen Stanbary, CG®, “Details of New and Modified DNA-Related Standards.”

4:45 p.m. Eastern time. Melinda Henningfield, CG®, “How to Write a Case Study that Meets the New Standards for DNA: As Codified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.”

6:00 p.m. Eastern time. Rick Sayre, CG®, CGL℠, “Reconstructing an Entrepreneurial Woman’s Life: From Family Intrigue to Water Rents.”

Find out more and register at

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Visiting Dead Relatives on Google Street View

A fortnight ago I was checking out an address on Google Street View. There was an image of the friend I was to visit just leaving his house. It was pixilated but he was still recognizable.

In an OK Whatever blog post Jessie Schiewe recount instances where images of a recently deceased relative had been captured.

RootsTech London — an international event

Count em! The presenters at RootsTech London, 24-26 October 2019 come from 16 countries.

It's organized by FamilySearch —  so the largest number (27) comes from the USA.

The same number are from the UK, 20 from England, 5 from Scotland and 2 from Wales. There are 20 from the European Union (after BREXIT), 5 each from France and Germany.

Outside the UK the British Commonwealth has three each from Australia and Canada, a Commonwealth total of 33.
CountryNumber of Speakers
United States27

Legacy Family Tree Webinars this week

Tuesday 20 August (8 pm ET)
Ten Tools for Genealogical Writing by Harold Henderson
Genealogists love to research, but writing it up – not so much. First, we need to read good writing (any kind). Then, practice writing in two separate compartments: write as it comes, and return later to fix or edit. Don’t worry about beginnings or endings; they will emerge over time. Seek out helpful critics, never wait until the last minute, and be ready to learn from editors.

Wednesday 21 August (2 pm ET)
Bullet Journaling for Genealogy by Shellee Morehead
There are so many wonderful technological tools for getting more out of your genealogical research time, but how do you choose which ones are going to work best for you? Are you struggling with making time for your research, staying on track for your projects, or just want to unplug and plan? If any of these situations sound like you, perhaps putting pen to paper might be the way to go. The bullet journal method is an excellent, analog way to organize your research plan, and stay on track towards your research goals.

Friday 23 August (2 pm ET)
Introduction to Forensic Genealogy by Kelvin L. Meyers
An overview of forensic genealogy and the role of the genealogist in these types of cases. We will discuss some of the major types of cases in which a forensic genealogist may be involved, such as guardianship, oil and gas, unidentified and unclaimed persons, and probate. The role of the forensic genealogist as an expert witness will also be discussed.

Monday, 19 August 2019

North Lanarkshire, Scotland, Poor Law Applications and Registers, 1849-1917

Ancestry is working to add records for North Lanarkshire drawing on original data from the North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre, Motherwell.
This collection of applications and general registers, added on 15 August, is 230,468 records from institutions in Bothwell, Cambasnethan, Dalziel, New Monkland and Shotts.
The index gives name, birth date, admission date, admission place, and relatives. In the linked images find:

  • Name of applicant, including the maiden name of women
  • Age and/or birth date
  • Birthplace, including the county of birth (compulsory from 1865)
  • Religion (from 1865)
  • Dependants, including children’s names, ages, places of birth
  • Marital history
  • Names of applicant’s parents and parents-in-law, confirming where born and if still alive
  • Previous addresses

Ancestry updates England & Wales, Civil Divorce Records

There are now 81,843 records of civil divorces between 1858 and 1918 in England & Wales on Ancestry.
From 1858 divorce no longer required a private Act of Parliament — divorces were handled by a Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes.
You will find the following details:

  • name
  • gender
  • spouse
  • spouse’s gender
  • type of record
  • petition year
  • date and place of marriage
  • names and birth details of children
  • copy of marriage certificate.

What I did not find in a case I looked at is whether the divorce was granted.

LAC Co-Lab update

Here's an update on Co-Lab projects since last month.

Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 is 29% complete (18% last month)
Legendary Train Robber and Prison Escapee Bill Miner is 98% complete (97% last month).
Personal Diary of the Baroness Macdonald - Lady Macdonald is 94% complete.

War Diaries of the First World War: 1st Canadian Division is 94% complete (94% last month).
The Call to Duty: Canada's Nursing Sisters is 85% complete.
New France and First Nations Relations is 28% complete (was 33% last month and 39% the previous!).
Rosemary Gilliat (Eaton)’s Arctic diary and photographs is 39% complete.
Japanese-Canadians: Second World War is 61% complete.
Letters from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine/Laurier is 98% complete (was 100% last month).

The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918–1919.
Correspondence between Sir Robert Borden and Sir Sam Hughes.

One of the indicators for the LAC Three-year plan 2019-2022, released earlier this month, is the number of records enhanced by user contributions in the Co-Lab crowdsourcing tool. The indicator is to be released quarterly as is the indicator number of images digitized via DigiLab.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Eric Moore RIP

Long-time BIFHSGO and Ottawa Branch OGS member Eric Moore passed on Saturday 3 August at age 90.

Until recently a regular attendee at BIFHSGO meetings he had been active in the community having served as President of the Friends of the (Central Experimental) Farm (1997-2004) and on the Board of the Council of Heritage Organizations of Ottawa.

A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday 7 September at 11am at St. Basil's RC Church on Maitland and the Queensway.

Condolences to his wife Louise and family.

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

Q/A on Heritage Minutes

Using City Directories in Your Genealogical Research
A blog post by Alan Campbell, Ambassador, Ontario Ancestors [The Ontario Genealogical Society]

About Find A Grave
The Wild West for chronicling the dead?

Historical Directories of England & Wales
The University of Leicester Historical Directories collection provides access to scanned images and full-text of 689 trade and local directories for England and Wales from the 1760s to the 1910s.
The same content is now available in Ancestry UK, City and County Directories, 1766 - 1946 and the University recommends this means of access to genealogists with an Ancestry subscription or access via their local library.

Why Use a Chromosome Browser
Diahan Southard emphasizes that 98% of the time you do not need a chromosome browser to do successful genetic genealogy work and that triangulating segments on more distant matches, like third and fourth cousins, can be problematic.

400 years of slavery
In August of 1619, a ship appeared near Point Comfort, a port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists.

Why we can’t just blame rising inequality for the growth of populism around the world
Check out Ireland, and Canada.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Library and Archives Canada, by Guy Berthiaume

Published in Alexandria: The Journal of National and International Library and Information Issues, on the eve of his retirement Guy Berthiaume lays out his vision for the next ten years at LAC.

In conclusion, he writes:

The widening of national libraries’ base of clients and the willingness of those clients to act as partners are creating a posture that corresponds exactly to what Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan predicted more than 50 years ago when he wrote: ‘There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew’. I believe these are the phenomena that are going to inform the foreseeable future of Library and Archives Canada.
As a former weather forecaster, I'm cautious about predictions. Looking back 10 years how well would one, even someone with the expertizes and experience of Guy Berthiaume, have done at predicting today's situation? What will be the impacts of artificial intelligence, automated transcription of handwritten documents, developments in concerns about privacy and undoubtedly many unknown unknowns?

British Columbia Sessional Papers collection online

One hundred and six years of British Columbia’s governmental papers are now available to anyone with a wifi connection and a device.
The British Columbia Sessional Papers, an annual collection of selected papers tabled in the Legislative Council of British Columbia and the Legislative Assembly is now publicly accessible through UBC Library’s Open Collections.
The greatest likelihood of finding a resident is in the voter's lists, search at for "entitled to vote" and the district.
This is an initiative under the British Columbia History Digitization Program.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Findmypast adds Queen's Birthday Honours, Colonial America, Peterloo records

Britain, Knights Of The Realm & Commonwealth Index 
Records dating back to pre-15000 are now updated with over 14,000 additional records reflecting additions from the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Maryland, Index To Colonial Probate Records, 1634-1777
Transcripts and original record images of more than 107,000 probate records prior to the first Maryland State Constitution.
Maryland, Wills and Probate Records 
Based on the General Index of Wills of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, 1633 to 1900, compiled by Margaret Roberts Hodges from original indices, the collection of records were published by the Carter Braxton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Manchester, Peterloo Witnesses and Casualties, 1819 
Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre on 16 August 1819 at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, this new collection containing more than 1000 names. The records showing whether a person was injured and how; such as, “right elbow and head cut severely” also includes witness statements like, “saw constables hitting [John] Lees with truncheons and a broken flagpole. The records were created from the database by Peter Castree.

Ancestry corporate news

Under the headline " Owners Aim to Extract $900 Million Payout With Loan" Bloomberg report that "An investor group led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and private equity firm Silver Lake Management LLC is looking to pull out more than $900 million from the company through a special dividend mostly funded by new borrowings. They are also seeking approval for another one-time distribution before year-end."

Read the full story at

Tip on the hat to Susan Courage for the link.

WDYTYA Magazine September 2019

There are three feature articles in the September WDYTYA magazine, likely available free online in Canada through your public library Press Reader subscription.

WW2 Army Ancestors: a seven-page guide to records revealing the heroes in your family tree. It covers service records, war diaries, medals, the Home Guard and Prisoners of War. My experience in obtaining service records
Canadian Catch: Why English fishermen crossed the Atlantic and made their fortune catching cod in Newfoundland. History but precious little in the way of genealogical resources.
The Magic Of Music: How music hall smashed the class barrier to offer truly mass-market entertainment.
And much more.

Genome Mate Pro Workshop

Jason Porteous, Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, explain how to use Genome Mate Pro and other advanced tools such as Borland Genetics which allow you to partially/fully phase your DNA test results.  More information.
At Nepean Centrepointe Library, 2 pm on Saturday 17 August.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Ancestry adds North Lanarkshire Electoral Registers

This new collection is of registers listing names and residences of people in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, who were eligible to vote in elections between 1847 and 1969. The 714,769 entries are for:

Airdrie: Annotated List of Parliamentary Electors: 1856-1857; List of Females Entitled to Vote, Fourth Ward: 1886-1887; List of Parliamentary Electors: 1851; List of Voters: 1847; Parliamentary Register, Wards I-V: 1900-1901; Register of Voters: 1905-1906, 1910-1911; Voters´ Roll, First Ward: 1880-1881.
Coatbridge: Register of Electors: 1919-1920, 1920-1921, 1925,1925-1926,1929-1930, 1930-1931, 1931-1932, 1935-1936, 1945-1946.
Coatbridge and Airdrie: Register of Electors: 1955-1956, 1960-1961, 1964-1965.
Motherwell: Register of Electors: 1935-1936.
Motherwell and Wishaw: Register of Electors: 1939-1940, 1945-1946, 1950-1951, 1968-1969.

Just a few more hours, that's all the time you've got

The early bird BIFHSGO conference registration discount ends at 11:59 pm on Friday, 16 August.

Nuff said?

Not quite.

As Kathy Wallace wrote in an email to BIFHSGO members:

"We have an exciting Marketplace this year with some new vendors selling unique items, especially for genealogists. DNA kits will be on sale from Ancestry, Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage.

Visit our Research Room where you can access – FOR FREE – subscription websites such as Ancestry, British Newspaper Archives, Findmypast, Genealogy Québec: Drouin Institute, Genes Reunited, MyHeritage and TheGenealogist."

Epsom Cemetery Burials 1871 to 1950, and Canadian connection

Volunteers of the Epsom & Ewell Local and Family History Centre have transcribed the burial register of the Ashley Road Cemetery, Epsom, Surrey, close to Epsom Racecourse and the Surrey Hills AONB.

Divided into 26 alphabetical files by surname with no entries for X and most listed under U being Unknown - newborn infants, the transcription contents are Last Name, First Name(s), Description, Age at Death, Place of Death, Date of Burial, Grave No., and Register No. / Comment.
Start at and click on the surname initial of interest.

The cemetery contains 232 Commonwealth War Graves Commission graves or memorials, including for 62 men who served with Canadian forces during the First World War.

Having found this cemetery transcription, via a Facebook post by Paul Featherstone of the Guild of One-Name Studies, I went poking around the Epsom and Ewell History Explorer website. there's a collection of History Centre Newsletters with interesting items, many related to queries received. There's also a search function which gave 241 hits for "Canada" and 21 for "Ottawa." Beware — Rabbit Hole Ahead.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Gravestone Photographic Resource is an individual initiative, mainly English resource, with over 1,120,000 names from English grave monuments and 1,573,000 worldwide. To date, in 2019 70,000 names have been added.

Coverage includes three counties with more than 100,000 names each — Yorkshire, Suffolk, and Norfolk.

St James' Church burial ground, Coundon, Durham, was added on 13 August 2019 with 708 graves and 1,600 person records.

Derek C Hopkins RIP

Brossard, Québec resident and friend Derek Hopkins passed on Tuesday night at the Charles Lemoyne hospital while waiting for surgery for a heart condition.

An engineer by background, a retired employee of Pratt & Whitney, his technology skills were expressed in his genealogical interest in databases and DNA. His greatest contribution to family history was likely as leader of the SCAN2 syndicate that transcribed a major portion of entries in FreeBMD. Derek was the co-author of a number of indexes to church and cemetery records for Québec, and author of an index to Abney Park Cemetery in Hackney, London, England.

Derek was a board member of the Québec Anglophone Heritage Network, a past Vice-President of the Québec Family History Society (QFHS), a member of the Society of Genealogists (SOG) of London, England, and the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO).

Born in England on 12 November 1934, he was educated at Loughborough College of Technology (University).

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

RootsTech London Keynote Speakers

Now I can post it; great news for those of us going to RootsTech London.

Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) will be the keynote speaker for RootsTech London on Thursday, 24 October. 

Dan Snow's genealogy: he is the youngest son of Peter Snow, BBC television journalist, and Canadian Ann MacMillan, managing editor emeritus of CBC's London Bureau; thus he holds dual British-Canadian citizenship. Through his mother, he is the nephew of Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan and also a great-great-grandson of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

He is a frequent presenter of history TV shows in the UK. Check YouTube for some of his presentations.

For Friday's Keynote well known British genealogist Nick Barrett, Director of Senate House Library at the University of London, best known in the UK as a genealogical consultant for series 1 to 4 of the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are? as well as his books.  He is teamed up with Stephen Rockwood CEO of FamilySearch International.

As previously announced, on Saturday the Keynote will be given by Donny Osmond.

Maybe one of them will invite a woman on stage as a guest. It would be a pity if with 70% of genealogists being women none of the theme sessions included a woman.

RootsTech London adds speakers

Fourteen additional names have appeared on the list of speakers for RootsTech London. Most, not all, are associated with Ancestry. Two are from Canada.
Lesley Anderson (C)
Brad Argent
Pooran Bridgelal (C)
Joe Buggy
Peter Drinkwater
Eamon Healy
Celia Heritage
Michala Hulme
Ursula Krause
Simon Pearce
Gregg Richardson
Janette Silverman
Ruth Tennen
Darris Williams

The complete gallery of speakers, the good, the bad and the ugly, is at

Construction begins on Library and Archives Canada’s new preservation facility

Left to Right: Albert Iwasaki, Representative of Plenary Properties Gatineau;
 Scott Hamilton, Director General Real Property, Library and Archives Canada;
Steven MacKinnon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and Member of Parliament for Gatineau;
Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada;
Anick Ouellette, Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer, Library and Archives Canada

For the record, on Monday 12 August, Library and Archives Canada began construction on its new 12,900-square metre preservation facility in Gatineau.

Read the press release.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Tracing ancestors who lived or worked in China

Desk Hong Lists in safe at
Shanghai Library,
Zikawei Rare Books Library
 (Xujiahui), April 2015
An online research tool launched by the University of Bristol is helping researchers track down information about men and women of many different nationalities, professions and ages, who lived and worked in China between the 1850s and 1940s.

The free database contains 60,000+ records drawn from:
British Supreme Court for China, Intestate memo books register
British Supreme Court for China, Probate records, Index
Cemeteries database
China Navigation Company Staff
Chinese Maritime Customs Service
Civilian internees of the Japanese
Customs Service Outdoor Staff Register, Shanghai 1870s-1880s
Shanghai International Settlement, Death Registers, 1873-1877
Shanghai Municipal Policemen
Shanghai’s refugees, 1944

via the Cambridge Family History Society July Newsletter.

Ancestry updates Find a Grave content

Last Thursday, 8 August 2019 Ancestry updated their Find a Grave holdings:

UK and Ireland6,343,674
Australia and New Zealand5,151,146

You can also search directly at Find a Grave which claims to cover over 180 million memorials, many more than Ancestry's Find a Grave collection, in 494,048 cemeteries and 241 different countries.