Friday, 26 February 2021

LAC Technical difficulties: Collection Search

On Thursday working on a tight timeframe, I was repeatedly greeted with no access to files I'd previously accessed, Instead there was the message "​Collection Search is currently unable to display some images. You may also experience slowness or unexpected errors. We are working actively to resolve these issues."

Imagine going to Amazon or Google and getting the same message. The part of the Government of Canada providing computer services to Library and Archives Canada is generally doing an appalling job at providing service. Even in normal times, response is oh so slow. 

What's you experience?

Agree or disagree?

It is possible I'm getting cranky given the time of year and constraints on movement?

Please post a comment about your experience with LACs online services.

Ancestry updates Nova Scotia, Canada, Black Loyalist Directory

Known as the "Book of Negroes" dating from 1783, Ancestry has updated the resource originally online there in January 2018. 

It provides the names of 3000 black refugees registered on board the vessels in which they sailed from New York to Nova Scotia between 23 April and 30 November 1783.

Ancestry provides a summary of the entry in the book and a link to the Nova Scotia Archives where you can find images of the original at

For more background refer to the article Behind The Book of Negroes from Canada's History.

MyHeritage can bring your photos to life

MyHeritage continues to add to its capabilities to enhance old photos. Following on improving the quality and colourization, now your still photos can move.

As a trial, here's Thomas D'Arcy McGee who was assassinated on Sparks Street in Ottawa,7 April 1868

Visit the Deep Nostalgia™ page or visit the My Photos section of your MyHeritage family site to try it out.

Ottawa Branch OGS Monthly Meeting

Saturday 27 February, 1 pm

Title: My Methodology Then and Now: In Search of Paul Barber, a Former Kentucky Slave
Speaker: Tom Barber

Born a slave in Kentucky, Paul Barber became a respected horse trainer and one of Ottawa's first permanent Black residents. Paul's grandson, Tom Barber, will talk about his early research methods and how his methodology has advanced his search 

A section of Clarence Street that runs east of Beausoleil Drive is called Barber Street in tribute to Paul Barber.

Register in advance for this Zoom meeting:

All Ottawa Branch monthly presentations are open to the public at no charge.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Which Family Tree Software?

Ancestral Quest, Family Historian, Family Tree Builder, Family Tree Maker, Gramps, Heredis, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, TreeView, and more.

The one you prefer is likely the one you're accustomed to, not necessarily the best. They all do the basics well ... in that respect, they're a commodity. Each has different bells and whistles.

Or you may be happy with a tree in the cloud offered by the larger genealogy companies, the shared trees offered by FamilySearch and WikiTree.

I received an email with a discount offer from RootsMagic, supposedly the most popular genealogy software in the US. It's an offer they link to RootsTech, although the company isn't in the marketplace.

You'll get RootsMagic 7 Download and Getting the Most Out of RootsMagic 7 eBook (a $45 value) for only $20!

Plus, you will receive a free download of RootsMagic 8 when it is released (currently in Community Preview). This means that you can reserve a future copy of Version 8 at today's lower Version 7 price!

You should find the offer at

To be clear, I'm not recommending RootsMagic over any other software; it is frequently mentioned favourably in reviews. 

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

MyHeritage to be purchased by US equity firm

The Times of Israel and businesswire are reporting that US private equity firm Francisco Partners has purchased MyHeritage in a deal valued at over $600 million.

Read the articles at 

According to Wikipedia "Francisco Partners is an American private equity firm focused exclusively on investments in technology and technology-enabled services businesses.[3] Founded in August 1999 and based in San Francisco and London, Francisco Partners Management L.P.[4] has raised approximately USD $14 billion in committed capital.[5] The firm currently has five active funds[5][6] and roughly 50 current portfolio companies,[7] including Verifone,[8] Renaissance Learning, Bomgar, GoodRx, Quest, BluJay (formerly Kewill),[7] ClickSoftware Technologies,[9] SmartBear Software,[10] and SonicWall.[11]"

Recent FamilySearch Historical Record Collections Updates

Here are the recent updates for Canada and the UK.

CountryTitleTotal RecordsUpdated
CanadaBritish Columbia Naturalization Records, 1859-19261709018Feb
CanadaNova Scotia Church Records, 1720-200119561023Feb
CanadaOntario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-198915083820Feb
EnglandCambridgeshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1538-198364612323Feb
EnglandEssex Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-19719391323Feb
EnglandGloucestershire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1642-199612931222Feb
EnglandHerefordshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1583-1898128416323Feb
EnglandHertfordshire, Marriage Bonds, 1682-183773323Feb
EnglandLancashire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1746-179912421Feb
EnglandLincolnshire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1574-18853380723Feb
EnglandMiddlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988145583523Feb
EnglandNorthumberland Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-192029006323Feb
Great BritainWar Office Registers, 1772-1935101134819Feb

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

This Week's Online Genealogy Events

Choose from free online events in the next five days. All times are ET except as noted. Assume registration in advance is required. Check so you're not disappointed.

Tuesday 23 February 11 am: Cross Oceans with Catholic Records, by Jen Baldwin and Lisa Lisson. for Findmypast

🇨🇦 Tuesday 23 February 2 pm: Virtual Genealogy Drop-In, from Ottawa Branch of OGS and The Ottawa Public Library. Join here.

Tuesday 23 February 2 pm: Bringing your family photos to life on MyHeritage, by Keren Dotan for Legacy Family Tree Webinars

Tuesday 23 February 2:30 pm: Digging into the (US) Agricultural Schedules, Cynthia Theusch for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Centre.

Tuesday 23 February 2:30 pm: Canadian Genealogical Treasures, by Dave Obee for Wellington County Branch OGS. 
Register at:

Thursday 25 February 11 am: LGBT Genealogy. by Jen Baldwin and Stewart Traiman for Findmypast

Thursday 25 - Saturday 27 February: RootsTech Connect

🇨🇦 Saturday 27 February 1 pm: My Methodology Then and Now:  In Search of Paul Barber, a Former Kentucky Slave, by Tom Barber. Ottawa Branch OGS.  

Monday, 22 February 2021

Monday Memories: Books

Collectively the books you have on shelves, stored in boxes in basements and attics have a story to tell. What do they say about your interests and how those have changed through the years?

The oldest in this collage is an illustrated guide book to my hometown published in 1914, a gift from my brother.

There's a copy of the 1965 original edition of The Magnus by John Fowles I purchased as a student in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Several relate to weather and weather history from which I graduated into history more generally, family history and genealogy in particular. Those include my book on The Ottawa Sharpshooters and Researching Canada's Home Children.

Lots in my collection are books I haven't read, something I felt better about after reading Building an antilibrary: the power of unread books.

What story do the ensemble of books in your home tell about your journey through life?

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Upload your DNA Data to MyHeritage and Get FREE Access to All DNA Features — Limited-time Offer!

Between 21-28 February 2021 those who have tested with other services can access all advanced DNA features on MyHeritage, absolutely free!

MyHeritage allows you to upload your DNA data from other providers and get DNA Matches for free, but normally a one-time unlock fee of $29 (or a Complete plan with MyHeritage) has been required to access the advanced DNA features — and that includes the Ethnicity Estimate and the new Genetic Groups.

For a limited time, MyHeritage is waiving the unlock fee. You can now upload your DNA data to MyHeritage and get access to your Ethnicity Estimate, Genetic Groups, and other advanced DNA tools such as the Chromosome Browser, AutoClusters, and Theory of Family Relativity™ — absolutely free!

These features will remain free forever for DNA kits uploaded to MyHeritage during this week.

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

Federal Cabinet recognized for 'Outstanding Achievement' in Government Secrecy

A New Canadian Visual Search Engine

How to Become a Publisher
I came across this after reading a review in Saturday's Globe and Mail of The Third Man: Churchill, Roosevelt and Mackenzie King which comments "The book badly needed another pass by a proofreader." The website of the Canadian publisher, in its second year, Sutherland House, has a series of "How to" articles—How to Write a Book— What Should You Write About—How to Handle Disaster—that inform and entertain. 

Pandemic boredom sparks record drive to prove Loyalist roots

The photo
Responding to comments from those who didn't like two new portraits I tried on the blog I changed it again. What do you think? The new one was taken by Barbara Tose in December 2019. Thanks to Barbara for permission to use it. 

England’s Stonehenge was erected in Wales first

Black History Month

Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole
A NYT opinion piece argues critical thinking, as we’re taught to do it, isn’t helping in the fight against misinformation.

Thanks to this week's contributors: Anonymous, Barbara, BT, btyclk, Gail B, Sophronia, S4Ottawa, Unknown

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Monday: Toronto Branch OGS Monthly Meeting: Evernote

Monday, 22 February, beginning at 7:30 p.m. the Toronto Branch featured speaker is Linda Yip. She will explain the dos and don’ts of filing, and demonstrate how the Evernote application can help bring order to your computer files — and make it easier to keep track of the documents you come across in your family history research. 

Linda Yip is a writer, photographer, storyteller and professional genealogist. She is also a former executive legal assistant who’s seen and used many different filing methods over the years. Linda feels Evernote has made her a better genealogist.

A short presentation by Melanie Parker will follow on Toronto and the T.O.N.I. Project. Discover what this free Ontario name index is all about and how Toronto Branch is helping it grow.

Click to register for the free meeting

The Best Database for Somerset Resources

In a genealogy Q/A session you can rely on being asked which is the best database. I was asked about Ancestry, Findmypast and MyHeritage at the BIFHSGO open house on Friday.

The answer is that for England they all have the common databases national in scope, and each have strengths in particular counties. In deciding which is best you need to dig into their holdings for your area of interest.

As an example I looked at Somerset, for which MyHeritage has no coverage, for titles with more than 1,000 records.

Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1531-18124,462,551Ancestry
Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-19142,943,017Ancestry
Somerset Baptism Index2,140,273Findmypast
Somerset Marriage Index1,713,126Findmypast
Somerset, England, Marriage Registers, Bonds and Allegations, 1754-19141,521,727Ancestry
Somerset Burial Index1,517,693Findmypast
Somerset, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1914585,287Ancestry
Somerset Banns Index258,480Findmypast
Somerset, England, Gaol Registers, 1807-1879101,284Ancestry
Somerset Monumental Inscriptions80,052Findmypast
Somerset, England, School Registers, 1860-191447,047Ancestry
Somerset Electoral Registers, 1832-191431,783Findmypast
Somerset Monumental Inscriptions (Full)24,260Findmypast
Somerset England, Evercreech Parish 1538 - 189017,099Ancestry
Wells, Somerset, England, Bishop's Transcripts, 1594-173615,917Ancestry
Somerset & Dorset Notes and Queries, 1890-198010,092Findmypast
Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset, 1888-1899, 1905-19063,349Ancestry
Somerset Registers & Records1,970Findmypast
Somerset Medieval Will Abstracts, 1385-15581,616Findmypast
Somerset, England, Church of England Confirmations, 1843-19131,504Ancestry
Parish Apprentices For Somerset1,245Findmypast

Ancestry has 9.7 million records, Findmypast 5.8 million so on the face of it for Somerset your chances are probably better with Ancestry. But you need to dig deeper as you may find one service has images of the original record that are lacking in the other.

People often overlook TheGenealogist. For Somerset it contains information in 1,185 Somerset titles listed separately by parish and for baptisms, marriages and burials.

While FamilySearch has nothing for the county in the Records collection, as always, check the Catalog where you'll find 171 titles online you may be able to browse, if they're open outside Family History Centres and affiliate libraries.

Digging deeper there are sites like the online parish clerk and Dusty Docs for Somerset. Those are just examples. Google can help.

Not to be overlooked are the online archival resources in the county such as at Bath Record Office: Archives and Local Studies and and indexes from the Somerset Archive via the South West Heritage Trust.

Findmypast Weekly Update

1. The title Britain, Marriage Licences is augmented with "over 100,000 new additions from the Diocese of Durham dating all the way back to the 16th century."

However, filtering the collection for "Diocese Of Durham Marriage Bonds 1590-1815" shows 87,468 transcript records. Also, I didn't find "an image of the digitized volume of marriage licences," as mentioned in the collection description, for these Durham additions.

FamilySearch has a title England, Durham Diocese, Marriage Bonds & Allegations, 1692-1900 which provides images of the original record.

2. Searching Cambridgeshire, Licensed Victuallers finds 44,605 results,  A typical transcription record gives:

• Name of licensed victualler
• Date of licence
• Sign – this is the name of the public house, as displayed on the sign outside
• Premises address – usually the town or village in which the alehouse was situated
• Place – this tends to be a district or hundred within which the premises were located
• Name(s) of the person(s) providing surety with the names of the victualler and typically two surities for each record.

The records are from the Cambridgeshire Archives in Ely with transcription by members of the Cambridgeshire & Huntingdonshire Family History Society.

3. A title United States, Black Loyalists evacuated, 1783, otherwise United States, Inspection Roll Of Negroes, 1783, includes 3,008 records. The information given is First name(s), Last name, Birth year, Where from, Status, Slave owner, Destination port.

Saturday webinars

A last-minute reminder of two OGS webinars today, both by speakers I can recommend.

🇨🇦 Saturday 20 February 10:30 am: The World War One Letters of George Gallie Nasmith: A Genealogical Adventure, by Patty McGregor for Kingston Branch of OGS.

🇨🇦 Saturday 20 February 1 pm: Portable Genealogy: You Can Take It With You, by Bob Dawes for Quinte Branch of OGS

Friday, 19 February 2021

FamilySearch Updates

FamilySearch continues reporting updates to UK records, these since 16 February

England, Herefordshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1583-1898,  1,279,436 total records
England, Lincolnshire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1574-1885, 21,502 total records
England, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988, 1,450,089 total records
England, Gloucestershire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1642-1996, 129,287 total records
England, Northumberland Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1920, 287,697 total records
England, Essex Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1971, 93,601 total records
England, Hertfordshire, Marriage Bonds, 1682-1837, 448 total records
England, Lancashire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1746-1799, 104 total records

Co-Lab Updates for February

Here's my monthly Library and Archives Canada progress report on its Co-Lab Challenges since last month.

War Diaries of the First World War: No. 2 Construction Battalion is 26% complete and new

Canadian National Land Settlement Association is 94% complete, 90% last month.

Molly Lamb Bobak is 86% complete, 77% complete last month

Diary of François-Hyacinthe Séguin is 98% complete, 92% complete last month.

George Mully: moments in Indigenous communities, remains 2% complete.

Correspondence regarding First Nations veterans returning after the First World War remains 99% complete.

Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 is 96% complete, 84% complete last month.

Legendary Train Robber and Prison Escapee Bill Miner remains 99% complete.

Japanese-Canadians: Second World War, remains 61% complete.

The Call to Duty: Canada's Nursing Sisters is 94% complete, 93% last month.

New France and First Nations Relations, is 100% complete. 78% last month.

Projects that remain 100% complete are no longer reported here.

There's more being accomplished through Co-Lab than the Challenges. 

Why doesn't LAC give publicity to other things becoming digitized through Co-Lab? 

Last week I wanted to refer back to a letter in the Sir John A. Macdonald fonds available as four images. Clicking on the first image I found there is a blue Contribute button that allows you to transcribe it, which I did for the first two pages containing the information I needed. 

How many items are available to contribute? 

Why isn't the capability better known? 


Thursday, 18 February 2021

More Digitization?

University of Wyoming Libraries and the Wyoming State Library have partnered to launch the Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection online.

This collection of historic newspapers combines the digital holdings of both institutions with a new interface that is more robust, providing easier, customizable searches and better results. More than 800,000 pages are now available, with new content added monthly. To search the Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection, go to

Good for Wyoming. What about Canada? 

Sadly, I wasn't surprised to receive the following properly bureaucratic response from LAC Media Relations to a query about LAC digitization.

Over the next few years, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will continue its multi-year effort to digitize some of the most heavily used segments of its reference collection to support digital access both on-site in our new joint facility, and for our clientele outside of the National Capital Region. Collections include our finding aids, city directories, photographs, and newspapers. Material that is free from copyright restrictions is regularly added to LAC’s website, a process which will continue up to and also after the opening of our new location in downtown Ottawa.

Don't let the verbiage fool you: LAC is investing less on digitization now than it has in the past.

Families of the 1918 Pandemic

Brigham Young University's Family History Technology Lab researchers teamed up with FamilySearch to produce a database of 1918 influenza deaths. Researchers used handwriting recognition software to read the cause of death from death certificates. 

The database includes people who died from influenza in 10 states (Delaware, Massachusetts, Idaho, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah), with seven states more in progress. 

To search for a person you need to select a state, then a county. That produces a table of name, lifespan and cause of death. Clicking on the name reveals a nicely-formatted panel with personal and contextual information.

Explore other projects of the Brigham Young University's Family History Technology Lab.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

BIFHSGO Open House

Today, Wednesday 17 February at 7:30 pm, you are invited to join some of us from the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa for an Open House on Zoom. 

It's open to all with an interest in family history, not just members, especially those with ancestry in the British Isles. You can ask questions about Ontario Land Records or PowerPoint Presentations with the presenters and chat with Board members and special interest group leaders. 

If you can't make that there's another opportunity, twice the fun, on Friday 19 February 2:00 pm,

Wednesday 17 February 7:30 pm Register
Friday 19 February 2:00 pm Register

Resumption of LAC copy services and on-site consultations

O​n 22 February, following Ontario easing health and safety restrictions, Library and Archives Canada will resume its copy services and gradually reopen the research and consultation rooms at 395 Wellington Street.

New reservations starting the week of 8 March can be made starting 22 February. Researchers who had reservations in January that were cancelled due to the closure will be contacted shortly to reschedule between 23 February and 5 March. There is no mention regarding microfilm access which was closed prior to the current lockdown.

Find out more at