30 June 2006

New Books on DNA in Announced

Bryan Sykes, author of the best-selling Seven Daughters of Eve has been at work on a new book, or rather books. Saxons, Vikings and Celts appeared on the amazon.com web site and is scheduled for release in November. Blood of the Isles is found on the amazon.co.uk site for release in September. The descriptions of the books are similar, likely different versions for the two markets. From amazon.com ....

"Saxons, Vikings, and Celts is the most illuminating book yet to be written about the genetic history of Britain and Ireland. Through a systematic, ten-year DNA survey of more than 10,000 volunteers, Bryan Sykes has traced the true genetic makeup of British Islanders and their descendants. This historical travelogue and genetic tour of the fabled isles, which includes accounts of the Roman invasions and Norman conquests, takes readers from the Pontnewydd cave in North Wales, where a 300,000-year-old tooth was discovered, to the resting place of "The Red Lady" of Paviland, whose anatomically modern body was dyed with ochre by her grieving relatives nearly 29,000 years ago. A perfect work for anyone interested in the genealogy of England, Scotland, or Ireland, Saxons, Vikings, and Celts features a chapter specifically addressing the genetic makeup of those people in the United States who have descended from the British Isles."

From amazon.co.uk ... "Bryan Sykes, the world's first genetic archaeologist, takes us on a journey around the family tree of Britain and Ireland, to reveal how our tribal history still colours the country today. In 54BC, Julius Caesar launched the first Roman invasion of Britain. His was the first detailed account of the Celtic tribes that inhabited the Isles. But where had they come from and how long had they been there? When the Roman eventually left five hundred years later, they were succeeded by invasions of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Did these successive invasions obliterate the genetic legacy of the Celts, or have very little effect? After two decades tracing the genetic origins of peoples from all over the world, Bryan Sykes has now turned the spotlight on his own back yard. In a major research programme, the first of its kind, he and his team at Oxford University set out to test the DNA of over 10,000 volunteers from across Britain and Ireland with the specific aim of answering this very question: what is our modern genetic make-up and what does it tell us of our tribal past? Where are today's Celtic genes? Did Vikings only rape and pillage, or settle with their families? And what of the genetic legacy of the Saxons and the Normans? Are the modern people of the Isles a delicious genetic cocktail? Or did the invaders keep mostly to themselves forming separate genetic layers within the Isles? And where do you fit in? As his findings came in, Bryan Sykes discovered that the genetic evidence revealed often very different stories to the conventional accounts coming from history and archaeology. "Blood of the Isles" reveals the nature of our genetic make-up as never before and what this says about our attitudes to ourselves, each other, and to our past. It is a gripping story that will fascinate and surprise with its conclusions."

I'll certainly be looking at both, which are currently listed at substantial discount to cover price.

Update: A tip of the hat to Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak for referencing this item from her blog at Megasrootsworld

28 June 2006

The Penny Illustrated

Now online in searchable digitized format, the Penny Illustrated Paper was published in London between 1861 and 1913 providing "a valuable and entertaining source of detailed information on everyday life and historical events in Britain and across the Empire." This is the result of a project of the British Library and well worth exploring.

I tried searching "Ottawa" which gave 100 hits, and "Ottawa NOT Canada" which gave 60. However, the word CANADA was spotted in one of the results latter search so the OCR may not be very reliable. Nevertheless, you will be very unlucky not to find something for any substantial community or significant event in the period.

Search from: http://www.collectbritain.co.uk/system/paper/

27 June 2006

Librarians Helping Canadian Genealogists ...

I'm adding a new permanent link to this site. Its for a blog I visited when it first appeared; they even posted one of my suggestions in the early days. Then nothing much happenned with it for a while and I kind of forgot about it. Probably losing all my bookmarks in a crash had something to do with it too. I wonder what the other useful links were that I lost?

Librarians Helping Canadian Genealogists Climb Family Trees is the blog's name. It was recommended by Marion Press in a presentation at the recent Ontario Genealogical Society Seminar in Oshawa, and one of the contributing editors was another speaker at that event -- Ryan Taylor. Updating is a bit variable but if you check it once a week you'll likely find something new in the way of Canadian genealogy news and information.

Find it at: http://canadianlibgenie.blogspot.com/

25 June 2006

Rootsweb Mailing List Archives Search

Posting queries on a Rootsweb mailing list is one of the easier things you can do to try and find your way to the other side of a genealogical brick wall. I've done so many times, and every so often receive an email about a link, or possible link. Posting is like leaving a baited fishing hook hanging in the water. You never know when someone is going to search the archives find one of your old queries.

That search process just got a bit easier. Rootsweb have an improved search engine (still in the beta) for all the Rootsweb Mailing List archives. If you're familiar with the old search engine you'll know that you first had to select a mailing list, and then search its archives year by year. Now you can search all the lists at once and, seemingly, for all years. That's a big time saver, and also an encouragement to formulating your search terms more carefully so as not to become swamped by hits. There's an advanced search tab allowing you to put several convenient restrictions on the search including specifying a particular mailing list and the poster. I can think of a few more I'd like to see, especially limiting the period searched to the past few weeks or months.

Find the new search engine at: http://archiver.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/search

23 June 2006

Bytown Museum

Here's a tip for a gentle outing in the heart of Ottawa this summer . Park at the Mill Restaurant at the west side of the Portage Bridge, watch for the 2 hour parking limit, and stroll below Parliament Hill along the edge of the Ottawa River. The path is reopened, having been closed much of last year. Even on the hottest day, perhaps even especially on the hottest days, there is a cooling breeze from the river. The path climbs as you get to the Rideau Locks, but you can look forward to refreshments thanks to the new cafe at the Bytown Museum. There are colourful umbrellas to provide shade at three tables where you can linger, or buy an ice cream and eat it as you return along the same path -- the impression is different going in the other direction -- or climb to Wellington and go westward pass the Parliamentary Precinct, the Supreme Court and Library and Archives Canada. More on what's happening at the Bytown Museum here.

21 June 2006

The New world; or, The United States and Canada, illustrated and described

I try to keep an eye out for newly scanned books appearing on the Internet Archive. "The New world; or, The United States and Canada, illustrated and described" appeared recently. It includes a fair amount about Ottawa and vicinity, including mention that the city had been recently selected as Canada's capital by Queen Victoria -- meaning the book dates from 150 years ago. The engraving of the entrance to the Rideau Canal from the Ottawa River will be familiar to locals. Also of local interest are descriptions of travel by steamer and train from Montreal and Prescott to Ottawa.

What particularly attracted me were the "Notes connected with Emigration, Land and Agriculture", 70 pages of practical advice directed specifically at the person coming from the UK. For example, its helpful to know about administrative procedure, especially if travelling with a family. At the Castle Garden terminal in New York: "After leaving the ship, you proceed in a large barge, or steamer, to Castle Garden landing. On landing, you will be shown the way into the interior of the building. Entered it, you proceed to a desk, where the "Registrar" sits, with a book before him, in which he enters your name, where you are from, and to where you are going. You are then passed on to another clerk ..... "

Download the book in pdf from http://ia310112.us.archive.org/1/items/newworldus00londrich/newworldus00londrich.pdf

18 June 2006

Better English and Welsh Civil Registration Certificates

Most people purchase certificates for BMDs in England and Wales from the General Registry Office. There is a centralized system which started in mid-1837. You can look up events in the ever improving GRO index at FreeBMD, or search quarter by quarter on the index images at ancestry.co.uk. Once you find the reference you can order online from the GRO, and pay by credit card. The system works well -- I've used it often. Even if you don't know the reference you can ask them to do a search, for a price.

Another less used option is to order directly from the local record office covering the area in which the event was registered. You don't need the GRO index number, just the name and details as close as you can give them. Most of these offices don't have a system for ordering online -- so what's the advantage? In some cases, especially for marriages and for some locations, the certificate you receive will be a photocopy of the original which includes the original signatures. That's a more reliable record than a transcription which is what you get from the GRO. Find the addresses for the local offices here.

16 June 2006

1841 Census of Scotland

Ancestry.com recently added a transcription of this census to their UK offerring. As I blogged back in March, some of these records have been available through FreeCen, but it is good to have a more complete census and one that is integrated with their search engine.

A few words of caution:

1. In the notes Ancestry point out a number of parishes and census districts that are missing;
2. Unfortunatly these are only transcriptions, with no ability to view the original record;
3. As with the 1841 census of England and Wales, the information is not as extensive as in later years -- there is no indication of how people in a home relate to each other;
4. Birthplace information is sketchy.

12 June 2006

Is Interest in Genealogy Declining?

It never occurred to me to even ask the question until I checked out Google Trends, and tried it out with a search for "genealogy".

As you can see above, the number of searches for the term on Google is in steady decline, although the number of news stories is if anything slightly increasing.

Then I tried limiting the search to queries from UK sites. The peak in late 2004 is, I think, associated with the first series of the popular BBC2 TV program "Who do you think you are?". The less pronounced peak in late 2005 and early 2006 is the second series of the program. Despite these peaks the overall trend is down.
The system seems to give realistic results. Try searches for tsunami or Katrina to see the response to a sudden onset catastrophy, or to " global warming" for an issue that's heating up! A search on ancestry, the service we love, and company we love to hate, shows no overall decline with a big uptick in searches in early 2006. Try these searches here.

11 June 2006

Teachers Registrations in England and Wales

British Origins (www.britishorigins.com) announce that teacher registration information, for over 100,000 people who taught in England and Wales between 1870 and 1947 , have been added to their web site. More than half of these are women.

From 1914, many teachers in England and Wales (and elsewhere) registered with the Teachers Registration Council. The original registration records for the period up to 1947 (after which registration was abandoned) were deposited with the Society of Genealogists (www.sog.org.uk)

Registration started in 1914, but people who were already teaching registered so records cover teachers who started their careers from the 1870s on.

The records provide the following information:
o teachers name (and for married women teachers often their maiden name as well)
o Date of Registration
o Register Number
o (Professional) Address
o Attainments
o Training in Teaching
o Experience

Members of the Society of Genealogists will be able to use their free quarterly access to the origins database to access this information.

05 June 2006

Ottawa Events Next Weekend

June 10-11 will be busy days for genealogists in Ottawa.

On Saturday June 10 the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa has Lucille Campey as guest speaker at the last meeting of the season. Lucille will speak on The Pioneer Scots of Lower Canada: 1763-1855 which is the title of her new book which will be on sale, the fifth in a series on the Scots in Canada. Lucille will be introduced by Mike More, BIFHSGO member and Chair of the Ottawa Branch of OGS. The presentation starts at 10am in the auditorium of Library and Archives Canada.

That same afternoon the Family History Centre of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will host a Family History Fair at 1017 Prince of Wales Drive. Presentations will be by: Sylvie Tremblay, Michel Béland, Olivier Bilodeau, Glenn Wright, Lesley Anderson, John Sayers, Brenda Bowman, Wayne Walker, Shirley-Ann Pyefinch and Ana Ghia-Pereira. To Register (free) Call: 613-224-2231 during business hours.

On Sunday, June 11 at 2PM Beechwood Cemetery holds their annual Historical Tour. This year's theme is "The Ottawa Sharpshooters and Ottawa’s Military Heritage". Many of those helping to animate the tour are Society BIFHSGO members. Even life-long Ottawa residents are sure to learn something to interest and surprise.

02 June 2006


If you're looking for context for British and Irish immigration to Canada check out this publication, available as a more than 1300 page book, or online at < www.multiculturalcanada.ca/mcc/ecp/ >. The entries on the English and on Irish Protestants were written by Carleton University History Professor, abs BIFHSGO Hall of Fame member, Bruce Elliott. There are also chapters on Irish Catholics, Scots and Welsh.