Friday, 24 January 2020

The Maturing of Genetic Genealogy

News that DNA testing company23andMe is laying off 100 people signals the heyday of DNA testing coming to an end.

CNBC reports that 23andMeCEO Anne Wojcicki cited a variety of factors, including both recession fears and privacy concerns.

Leah Larkin detected a slowdown in sales in September 2018. The lack of announcements on the number of kits sold in recent months has been noticeable. And pricing has become highly competitive.

None of this means that genetic genealogy is any less useful, just that companies that have relied on sales in an expanding market to support service will have to adjust their business model.

Look for announcements on takeovers in the coming months.

Deceased Online adds Two Black Country Cemeteries

Deceased Online announces that Uplands Cemetery, Smethwick, with records from May 1890 to August 2001 and Wood Green Cemetery, Wednesbury with records from April 1868 to September 2011have been added to their database.

The records, from the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, comprise digital scans of the original burial registers and grave details for each of the graves and their occupants. Uplands also includes a map showing in which section the grave is located.

Sandwell records available to view on Deceased Online total 344,700 including those from:

Fallings Heath Cemetery
Heath Lane Cemetery
Oldbury Cemetery
Rowley Regis Cemetery
Rowley Regis Crematorium
Sandwell Valley Crematorium
Tipton Cemetery

Thursday, 23 January 2020

GRO adds twenty years of birth indexes

If looking for civil registrations of births in England and Wales between 1984 up to 2004 you now have an additional option — the government's own index accessible after free registration from

The site already had birth indexes from 1837 to 1919. FreeBMD's birth index covers most of the gap from 1920 to 1983 so there is now almost complete free coverage to 2004.

As for the subscription sites, Ancestry has index records to 2007; Findmypast to 2006; MyHeritage and TheGenealogist to 2005.

The GRO, which also has a civil registration death index online from 1837 to 2019, is currently working on a rolling programme to put all of its indexes online.

Ottawa Branch OGS January Meetings

There's a distinctly Scottish theme to meetings at the City Archives, 100 Talwood Drive, on Saturday 25 January.

At 9:30 AM the Scottish Genealogy Group will meet. It will morph into the regular Ottawa Branch 11:30am lunch bunch presentation and discussion when Ken McKinlay will talk about using Family Search, Ancestry and Findmypast in conjunction with Scotland’s People to reduce the costs of researching your Scottish ancestors. 

At 1 PM the social period will be followed by a presentation McNab: Conflict and Settlement in the British Colony of Upper Canada by David Mulholland.
McNab, a novel of dramatized history, portrays the lives of 19th-century immigrants struggling with personal, political and social challenges in their new home. Entrusted with the settlement of a township in 1825, Chief ArchibaldMcNab brings crofters (farmers) over from the Highlands. He tells them he owns the land, and tries to impose the Scottish feudal system. Led by Donald Cameron, the story depicts the settlers’ sixteen-year fight against the tyranny of their Chief.
David Mulholland began his writing career as an advertising copywriter in private radio. He went on to work as a researcher, story editor and interviewer for CBC Public Affairs television, a general-assignment reporter and music reviewer for the Ottawa Citizen, a syndicated country-music columnist, a part-time stand-up comic with Yuk Yuk’s, and a speechwriter for a number of departments in the federal government.

At 3 PM Jason Porteous will hold the first of a regular DNA Tools workshop in this timeslot. Genome Mate Pro is a key tool for DNA research but he will also share how to do both visual phasing (chromosome mapping) as well as actual phasing of your raw DNA files into maternal/paternal kits etc. to use in reconstructing common ancestors etc. Bring your laptop.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Legacy Family Tree Webinar Today: New Tools and Ideas in Research

Today, Wednesday 22 January at 2 PM ET, D. Joshua Taylor will present New Tools and Ideas in Research.

The field of genealogy is constantly changing and evolving.  Each day new techniques, resources, and tools are developed to assist in the quest for one’s ancestors. Learn technological developments (including gadgets and gizmos), newly discovered resources for genealogical research and more.

Find out more and register here.

If you miss the live presentation you can still catch it free for one week on replay.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Book Review: Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry through Church and State Records

Delving into Scottish records of interest to the family historian you soon realize that Scotland is a jurisdiction of its own. Despite some similarities to the rest of the UK practices and terminology vary. This book, inspired by a series of short guides author Chris Paton produced for Australian company Unlock the Past, leads the reader through the Scottish record jungle.

The chapters are:
1. Research Resources
2. Civil Registration
3. Church of Scotland Records
4. Other Church Records
5. Where Were They?
6. Land Tenure
7. Inheritance
8. Law and Order.

The chapter titles are mostly self-explanatory. Chapter 1 details the major Scottish research resources, both physical and online. Chapter 5 captures the census, national registration, valuation, tax, maps, statistical accounts, and more.

The book could easily be used as the basis of self or group study or as a reference. It has a comprehensive table of contents and index.

Despite there being no map included, in common with most Pen and Sword books I've reviewed, I have no hesitation in recommending this book for beginner and intermediate readers or those looking for a reference.

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry through Church and State Records (Paperback)
A Guide for Family Historians

By Chris Paton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 162
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526768421
Published: 20th November 2019

Family Tree Live

Thre's an impressive programme scheduled for the second annual Family Tree Live event coming in mid-April to London's Alexandra Palace.

If you're thinking of a spring trip to Britain why not include a day or two to check out what's new, and hear some of Britain's top speakers. Find the whole program at

And it's not just Britain's top speakers, Calgary's Wayne Shepheard will be there giving two presentations. It's good to see a Canadian on the program — last year there was a presentation by Christine Jackson.

Creating a Memorable Meeting Experience

How are you enjoying the snow and cold?  For those who shovel and shiver rather than ski and skate there's still the compensation of bright days with the sun reflecting off the snow. There's also the start of a new season of my favourite CBC radio program — Under the Influence, with Terry O'Reilly.

The latest episode How the Raptors turned hockey country into basketball nation gives examples from sports of how to get fans in the stands — you can't count on a winning season. Terry concludes it all comes down to one critical thing: creating a memorable experience that fans crave.

Are your family history meetings memorable experiences? I thought about meetings I attended in the past year. Undoubtedly my most memorable was RootsTech London.

But I hear you say — local genealogy groups don't have the budget of RootsTech or a major league sports team.

What they do have is the opportunity to get more personal. Does your society welcome visitors and new members making sure they don't stand by themself looking lost and have more than a perfunctory interaction with an experienced member?

Do your meetings always follow the same routine? Have you tried shorter presentations? TED talks are 20 minutes or less. The Walrus events have 7-minute presentations. Have you tried panel sessions? Is there music?

What has been your society or group experience with innovative approaches? Was it successful? Can you think of other approaches?

Monday, 20 January 2020


Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society has opened registration for the 35th


3-4 April 2020

On Friday evening Thomas MacEntee will deliver the Pat Horan Memorial Lecture — Privacy, DNA, and Genealogy: Handling the Double-Edged Sword

On Saturday morning in Session 1 choose between:

How Do I Know What I Don’t Know—Fast Tracking Your Genealogy Education
Thomas MacEntee
Researching in Your PJs
Ken McKinlay

In Session 2 the choices are:

What’s Been Done: Using Someone Else’s Genealogy Research
Thomas MacEntee
What’s New at FamilySearch
Shirley-Ann Pyefinch

After lunch break, in session 3, choose between:
Great Expectations: Silver Spoon and Short Straw Migrants to Canada
Glenn Wright & John D Reid
“Not One of Your Holiday Games”: Personal Name Selection and Usage in Upper Canada
Bruce Elliott

In session 4 the choice is:
You Use WHAT for Genealogy? Wonderful Uses for Unusual Tools
Thomas MacEntee
Is There a Federal Civil Servant In Your Family Tree? Sources and Research Strategies
Glenn Wright

Find out more and register at the NEW Ottawa Branch website:

How the Irish Public Record Office burned

A blog post from John Grenham reviews a book by Michael Farmer, The Battle of the Four Courts: the first three days of the Irish Civil War which he assesses as a meticulous work of micro-history that assembles the story hour-by-hour  weighing maps and photographs against eye-witness accounts to reconstruct an utterly convincing version of what happened.

He concludes "The simple fact is that neither side cared a damn about the records. They were young men prepared to kill or die for their beliefs about the future. What did the past matter?"

LAC Co-Lab update

Here's the monthly update on Co-Lab challenges projects as of 19 January.


Correspondence regarding First Nations veterans returning after the First World War is 26% complete (16% last month)

Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 is 61% complete (57% last month).

The Call to Duty: Canada's Nursing Sisters is 89% complete (86% last month)


George Mully: moments in Indigenous communities 0% (new last month)

Legendary Train Robber and Prison Escapee Bill Miner is 98% complete

War Diaries of the First World War: 1st Canadian Division is 94% complete.

Rosemary Gilliat (Eaton)’s Arctic diary and photographs is 40% complete (44% last month)

Japanese-Canadians: Second World War is 61% complete.

New France and First Nations Relations is 33% complete.

Letters from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine/Laurier is 98% complete.


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 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, 19 January 2020

TheGenealogist adds to Norfolk Parish Records collection

This release of Norfolk parish records accessible with TheGenealogist’s Diamond subscription includes 330,000 individuals from baptisms, 100,000 from marriages and 95,000 from burial records. The transcripts are linked to images of the original.

The parishes added are:

Aldeby, Ashwellthorpe, Aslacton,
Bacton, Banham, Billockby, Bracon Ash, Brampton, Brancaster, Breccles,
Buckenham, Bunwell, Burgh St Margaret, Burnham
Caister, Carleton Rode, Castle Rising, Clippesby,
East Dereham, East Tuddenham, Eaton Christchurch, Eaton St Andrew, Edgefield, Erpingham,
Gayton Thorpe, Gaywood, Gissing, Great Massingham, Great Moulton St Michael with Little Moulton, Great Witchingham, Great Yarmouth, Great Yarmouth St Nicholas,
Hassingham, Heigham Holy Trinity, Heigham St Philip, Hethel, Hockering, Honingham, Horsham St Faith, Horsham St Faith & Newton St Faith,
Martham, Mile Cross St Catherine, Mulbarton,
New Buckenham, New Catton, New Catton Christ Church, North Elmham, North Lopham, North Tuddenham, Norwich Lakenham, Norwich Pockthorpe St James, Norwich St Augustine, Norwich St Clement, Norwich St John De Sepulchre, Norwich St Paul, Norwich St Stephen,
Poringland, Postwick,
Redenhall With Harleston & Wortwell, Rollesby, Runcton Holme with South Runcton and
Shelfanger, Southrepps, Stoke Holy Cross, Stow Bardolph, Swaffham,
Tatterford, Thetford St Cuthbert, Thetford St Peter, Thorpe Hamlet St Matthew, Thorpe Market, Toft Monks,
Watlington, Winfarthing, Wreningham & Wymondham

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

Impersonating an Egyptian?
From a tweet, a list of 19 crimes for which the punishment of transportation over the seas includes this curious entry as #5. Some commenters suggest Egyptian was the origin of gypsy (traveller), but why impersonating rather than being? Despite the appearance, the list may not be official.

Do You Know What's On Your Phone?
From Free Technology for Teachers, delete unused apps from your smartphone of free up storage, reduce risks and extend battery life.

Environment Tops Risks for Global Economy in 2020
Ahead of the organization's annual meeting in Davos, the World Economic Forum has published its annual Global Risks Report. For the first time, the top five most likely risks are all environmental as are three of the top five risks with the greatest impact. Investors are divesting holdings in fossil fuel companies which once led the economy and world stock markets. They now lag.

Shining a laser through a light bulb can reveal the structure of DNA (video)

Google Research: Looking Back at 2019, and Forward to 2020 and Beyond
A long and fairly technical read. Google Timelapse is one of the projects mentioned.

Thanks to this week's contributors
Ann Burns, Arthur Owen, BT, Btyclk, Claire Santry, CM, G.B. in St. C., judylynne, Mike Stapleton, Shirley, Sophronia, Susan Campbell — as well as Unknown and her cousin Anonymous.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

FreeBMD January Update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday17 January 2020 to contain 273,156,074 unique records (272,823,605 at previous update.)

Years with major additions, greater than 5,000 records are: for births 1964, 1984-88; for marriages 1964, 1969, 1984-87; for deaths 1984-86 and 1988.

Findmypast adds to Kent and British Army Records

Kent Baptisms
Over 3,000 records from the parishes of Saint Peter & Paul in Ash-next-Ridley and Keston are added. There are now records from 503 Kent parishes in this title, over 3 million records from 1192 to 1998.

Kent Marriages and Banns
Search more than 7,000 new additions covering the parishes of: Ash-next-Ridley, SS Peter & Paul; Eltham, St John the Baptist; Keston; North Cray, St James; Plumstead, St Nicholas; Swanscombe, SS Peter & Paul. There are now 498 parishes in this title, over 2.4 million records from 1502 to 1997.

Kent Burials
7,000 records from the parishes of Saint Peter & Paul in Ash-next-Ridley, St Martin in Cheriton and St John the Baptist in Eltham. There are now 485 parishes in this title, over 2.6 million records from 1316 to 2010.

There's are Findmypast Kent parish lists, separate for baptisms, marriages and burials, here.

British Army Service Records
Over 2,000 new Scots Guards service records covering 1799 to 1939 have just been added. For officers the records go back to 1642. Each record in this title comprises a transcript, and most include several black and white images (ranging from 1-100) of the records of your ancestors who served as officers and other ranks in the British Army.

The total Findmypast British Army Service Record collection is over 8.1 million items.

Friday, 17 January 2020

History of English Places App

"The History of English Places is a map-based app for discovering the rich history of places in England. Information is drawn from the Topographical Dictionary of England (Lewis, 1848) and the place-by-place histories of the Victoria County History (VCH), published between 1901 and the present day.

In the free version, you can navigate the historical first-ever edition of the Ordnance Survey map and use the location pins to explore the 13,713 short nineteenth-century descriptions of England’s villages, towns and cities.

A monthly or annual subscription is available that allows access to detailed entries on taken from 175 volumes of histories produced by the Victoria County History project."

Lost Children of the Carricks: Defying the Great Irish Famine to Create a Canadian Legacy

A new documentary film offers a personal story of the gruelling journey made by immigrants who arrived from Ireland in the mid-19th century and how these stories have carried down through the generations that followed those who survived the trip.

Lost Children of the Carricks will premiere at Concordia University's D.B. Clarke Theatre on January 24, as a fundraiser for the Canadian Irish Studies Foundation.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

ScotlandsPeople Major Outage

The following notice is posted at

Due to essential maintenance, the ScotlandsPeople website will be unavailable from 16:30 GMT Friday 17th January and will be operational again on Tuesday 21st January.

Largest Canadian Genealogy Databases

Following on Tuesday's post on the Canadian census, here's a list of the largest Canadian "genealogy" databases, arranged by the number of records, for holdings of Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), and MyHeritage. It's for all databases with more than 2 million records. It is possible LAC may have additional databases that could fall within the criteria but there is no convenient catalogue listing.

Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-198095,335,143Ancestry
Canadian Phone and Address Directories, 1995-200237,866,987Ancestry
Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968 16,789,307Ancestry
Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1637-1935 16,529,462Ancestry
Canada Phone and Address Listings13,326,736MyHeritage
Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1826-19379,357,444Ancestry
1921 Census of Canada8,800,634Ancestry
1921 Census8,788,483LAC
1921 Canada Census8,683,491MyHeritage
Canada, Obituary Collection, 1898-Current8,507,084Ancestry
Canada, City and Area Directories, 1819-19068,299,563Ancestry
Quebec Marriage Returns, 1926-19977,901,443MyHeritage
Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-19357,276,372Ancestry
Canada Census, 19117,246,159FamilySearch
1911 Census of Canada7,223,678Ancestry
1911 Census7,204,838LAC
Canada Census 19117,157,334Findmypast
1911 Canada Census7,157,334MyHeritage
Ontario, Canada Births, 1858-19136,484,503Ancestry
United States, Canadian Border Crossings6,150,580Findmypast
Canada, Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current6,103,062Ancestry
U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s5,430,203Ancestry
U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-19605,395,724Ancestry
1901 Census5,371,315LAC
1901 Census of Canada5,343,565Ancestry
Canada Census, 19015,343,565FamilySearch
1901 Canada Census5,213,095MyHeritage
Ontario Births, 1869-19125,200,361MyHeritage
Canada Census 19015,167,205Findmypast
1891 Census4,833,239LAC
1891 Census of Canada4,790,154Ancestry
Canada Census, 18914,787,225FamilySearch
Canada Census 18914,539,639Findmypast
1891 Canada Census4,539,588MyHeritage
1881 Census of Canada4,281,168Ancestry
Canada Census, 18814,281,160FamilySearch
1881 Census4,278,327LAC
Canada Census 18814,273,931Findmypast
1881 Canada Census4,273,931MyHeritage
Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-19223,907,325FamilySearch
Ontario, Canada, Deaths and Deaths Overseas, 1869-19473,888,625Ancestry
Canada Census, 18713,519,941FamilySearch
1871 Census of Canada3,516,910Ancestry
1871 Census3,485,761LAC
Canada Census 18713,292,788Findmypast
1871 Canada Census3,292,788MyHeritage
1861 Census3,112,269LAC
Ontario, Canada, Roman Catholic Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-19233,071,603Ancestry
Canadian Headstones2,982,451FamilySearch
1861 Census of Canada2,958,892Ancestry
Saskatchewan, Canada, Residents Index (SRI), 1800-20122,948,436Ancestry
Canada Census 18612,764,253Findmypast
1861 Canada Census2,764,253MyHeritage
1851 Census2,312,919LAC
Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s2,255,689Ancestry
Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries2,137,853MyHeritage
Ontario Births, 1869-19122,081,426FamilySearch
Ontario Birth Index 1860-19202,076,046Findmypast
Canada, Prairie Provinces Census, 19262,073,271FamilySearch
Census of the Prairie Provinces, 19262,067,393LAC
Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-19472,050,112FamilySearch
Canadian Obituaries, 1997-20172,035,945MyHeritage

It's entirely possible I missed some, perhaps in other sources — please let me know in a comment.

It's easy to get fixated on large databases. Experienced searchers often find a small database, if it targets the time, place and type of record of interest, can be the one that breaches a genealogical roadblock.

OGS Kingston Branch Monthly Meeting

On Saturday 18 January the monthly meeting of the Kingston Branch is a presentation Aye, Your Roots; What Is "Behind" Your Name by Gord Sly, Curator of the Frontenac County Schools Museum.

Geoffrey Allen will be the speaker for the 9:30am short presentation History of the Working Class.

Visitors are always welcome, and there is lots of free parking available at 56 Francis St. Coffee is on at 9am.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Dick Eastman Celebrates

Congratulations to genealogy uber-blogger Dick Eastman who celebrates 24 years of "blogging" today.

His involvement actually pre-dates blogs — it was originally called a newsletter and he has a 24-year record of posting, continuing week-in, week-out through travel and health issues.

Dick was one of the inspirations for my blog. Read his celebratory post here.

WDYTYA Magazine: February 2020

Here's a full table of contents for the latest issue, just available on Press Reader through the Ottawa Public Library and other subscribing institutions in North America.

Transcription Tuesday
How you can be a family history hero on 4 February
Mayflower 400
Discover your link to the pilgrims who settled the USA
Death Record Success
Transform your family tree with 10 expert tips from Who Do You Think You Are? researcher Laura Berry
Let It Snow
Felicity Day reveals how our ancestors coped

Best Websites
Don't miss these resources for researching the clergy
Explore Victorian London with  poverty maps
Ancestors at Work
Old your relative work as a docker?
Focus On
Paul Bake reveals how you can use the records of local courts quarterer sessions to uncover your ancestors' lives

Reader Story
Teacher, balloonist', newsagent. farmer writer of musical comedy Steve Parker's relation Robert Layer-Parker was a man of many trades, but fell foul of the law
My Family Album
Gill Hulse from Dorset shares some beloved family photographs fro, the 19th and 20th centuries.
Eureka Moment
How Martin Gething researched the inhabitants of Lawrence of Arabia's cottage in the early 19th century
Family Hero
"I discovered a high society scandal in my family,” says John Porter of his inspirational Hungarian cousin

Your ideas, comments and advice
All the latest developments and recond releases
What's On
Ths morths everts, including a course on heraldry
WDYTYA? Magazine Shop
Back issues, magazine storage and a wall chart
Off The Record
A tale from the archives shows that crime is relative
The Big Picture
Making Britain’s first parking meters, 16 June 1958
Our expert genealogists solve your queries
Your Projects
The trails highlighting Woking’s hidden Muslim heritage
Gem From The Archive
Journals from a Cumberland country house, 1908-13
Behind The Headlines
The major events of 1860-1869
Around Britain
Find Kent kin with our guide to the best resources
Behind The Scenes
How WDYTYA? traced Katherine Ryan’s Canadian roots

Books & Digital Picks
This month's family history inspiration
Radio and TV
All the must-see/hear programmes