28 December 2006

New Year Greetings

Postings here are still suspended while I recover from Christmas, a bout with a cold, and catching up with reading the books received. One book, Homo Britannicus: the Incredibile Story of Human Life in Britain, by Chris Stringer, is keeping me busy exploring the new findings about the oldest inhabitants of England who lived more than half a million years ago in a place not far from while I was raised in East Anglia.

13 December 2006

2009 Partial Release of the 1911 Census of England and Wales

Good news. According to an announcement on their web site, The National Archives is developing an online 1911 census service, covering most parts of the census.

"We are actively investigating the possibility of launching this digital service in 2009. Over two kilometres of census records, containing the details of 35 million UK ancestors, will be digitised. This will provide an online service, across most fields of the census, enabling researchers anywhere in the world to search and download digital scans of images from the census. As with our current online census services it will be both address and name searchable. It is anticipated that it will be available from 2009. ... The full 1911 census won’t be released until 2012. "

The City of Ottawa Archives Need a Home

The following is the text of a message sent from John Heney, President of the Friends of the City of Ottawa Archives to the Mayor and City Councillors.

You will shortly have before you a budget item of the utmost importance for the preservation of the city's heritage that is held in our Archives.

This is not just about an improved facility. It is about the City's Archives having a home at all. The matter has been neglected for years. Now the situation is dire. More troubling is the fact that a workable answer to this crisis may slip through our fingers in the next few weeks if Council does not fully appreciate the problem and the urgency involved.

Under the speeded-up budget process, the detailed recommendations now being prepared by City staff and the dedicated Archives Steering Committee will only reach you after you have taken some initial decisions on the shape of the City's budget. To lift the Archives out of its facilities crisis, it is imperative for Council to make an initial commitment to the project, which will then be fleshed out with fiscally prudent, concrete proposals to Council soon thereafter.

The City budget directions and long-range financial plan

must include firm support for the funding necessary for
a main branch for the Archives.

All municipalities must maintain an archives/records function as mandated by provincial law. In Ottawa's case it is important to note that:

  • The Archives main branch lost an ideal, central location on Stanley Avenue and has since endured two moves, of no overall benefit, first to 111 Sussex Drive and then again, within that same complex.
  • It is leasing space from its federal landlord there, and it must also pay for offsite storage of some 80 percent of its holdings at several sites. Funds continue to leak from municipal coffers for inadequate accommodation, with no return on investment.
  • A fire in a rented storage facility this summer resulted in damage and loss of archival holdings. This underlines the fact that the Archives situation cannot continue to be left unaddressed.
  • The major increase in City records resulting from amalgamation has not been adequately addressed.
  • Inadequate space and unsafe conditions continue at 111 Sussex Drive, with the Archives hanging on to little more than a gentleman's agreement for the period following December 2007.

Please ...

Support a home for the Archives in the budget process !

In cleaning up the Archives' sorry state of affairs, Council will show prudent fiscal leadership. This is a chance for the City to create a facility that makes long-term sense, on a site where future expansion can be accommodated.

Ottawans deserve an outcome that they can be proud of, as residents of a city and a capital. Your support will be crucial in the coming weeks.


As a member of the Friends I too am concerned about the future of the City Archives. Few people are aware that a city archives is provincially mandated under the Municipal Act of Ontario in order to preserve a record and assist accountability in municipal government.

12 December 2006

Black Sheep Index

At the BIFHSGO monthly meeting on Saturday well over 100 enthusiastic members heard five presentations at the annual Great Moments in Genealogy session. It was gratifying to hear of progress made as a result of connections made at Society meetings. Some attributed their success to serendipity. When people tell me about lucking into a resource I recall the remark, attributed to Louis Pasteur, that "chance favours the prepared mind."

A resource new to me was mentioned by presenter Robert Brown. The Black Sheep Index is part of a commercial web site at: www.lightage.demon.co.uk/. It has indexes of 200,000 British villains and victims from newspapers and journals etc. There are also police, Great War, World War II, mining, railway, ships, publicans, church and medical indexes.

You can order copies of the articles indexed from the web site, but you might want to investigate if you already have access to the document or article. I found a reference to my great uncle who died in WW1, but the reference is likely to the citation for his Military Cross that I already have. In the example given in the presentation, from the railway index, the article returned was from the Times Digital Archive. There is public access to that electronic archive in Ottawa through Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. The year given in the index will help speed up the search.

11 December 2006

Announcement on NEW Society of Genealogists' Family History Show

After several years in the same location with the same format the Society of Genealogists' in the UK is breaking the mold with their annual Family History Show. SOG have previously taken advantage of partnerships with successful companies in the field. This takes it much further. The full announcement is copied below. Congratulations to SOG for trying something new.

Society of Genealogists' Family History Show

is to join forces with

Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE

The hugely popular BBC TV series, renowned for taking celebrities on a journey to discover their ancestral roots, is branching out into the event field to create Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE. The Event leverages the UK’s strongest history brand in launching the first national, history show, with personal heritage at its heart.

The Event will take place at the National Hall, Olympia, London from 5-7 May 2007 and will incorporate the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show. And with an expected audience of around 15,000 visitors it will be the biggest event of its kind by far. The Society of Genealogists and organisers Brand Events will work together on this event, to offer a single, compelling proposition to exhibitors and visitors alike. Other major partners have already signed up, including The Daily Telegraph and The National Archives.

Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE will attract established historians as well as people new to the subject and will offer visitors the opportunity to meet more historians than ever before, in workshops as well as one-to-one. The line up includes leading genealogist and house historian Nick Barratt. Nick, a staunch advocate of bringing history to the masses and inventor of the term ‘personal heritage’ has been working closely with Brand Events in the development of
the show. House historian Jonathan Foyle, family history specialists Guy Grannum, Paul Crooks, Else Churchill, Mike Gandy and many more will be there along with military, lifestyle and many more historians. There will be in depth information on how to begin exploring personal heritage and advice on the best use of the technology available, as well as a wealth of product and information for those already some way into their journey.

Wall to Wall, the production company behind the programme, has partnered consumer event specialists Brand Events to create the new event. Brand Events has an incredibly successful track record in bringing new, sustainable event concepts to market, such as The Vitality Show, The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show, La Dolce Vita, MPH’06 and Taste of London.
Exhibitor bookings already made for the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show will be honoured, with huge opportunities available for greater involvement. All exhibitors will be contacted individually over the next few days and weeks to make individual arrangements.

"We are delighted to be sponsoring this event. Living history and genealogy are a fascination for our readers and 'Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE' will give visitors the opportunity to delve into this topic with the support of some of the field's most respected experts."
Will Lewis, Editor, The Daily Telegraph

“We know that Who Do You Think You Are? has inspired millions of people to explore their family history. We’re thrilled to be working with Brand Events to give people a whole new experience in the form of this exciting live event.”
Alex Graham, CEO, Wall to Wall Media

"The National Archives are very pleased to be a major partner in "Who do you think you are? Live. We look forward to showcasing our expertise and resources to bring history to life for the show's visitors."
James Strachan, Director of Public Services & Marketing, The National Archives

“The Society is delighted with this opportunity to bring the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show to a bigger audience. An expanded show will enable the genealogical community, local societies, record holders and exhibitors to reach the wider family history interest. The Society of Genealogists, along with its show sponsor Findmypast.com, looks forward to working with Brand Events and our exhibitors to make this 15th Family History Show the best ever.” June Perrin, Acting Director, Society of Genealogists

“I’m very excited to be involved in this innovative and pioneering show. Bringing history to the forefront on such a large-scale is a challenge but we are working with a great team that combines expertise and talent that will no doubt succeed in every way. I’ve always felt that personal heritage is close to all our hearts and this is a great platform for historians such as myself to address audiences that don’t know where to go for help! It’s great to be involved from conception to completion.”
Dr Nick Barratt, Genealogist and Historian

“It is tremendously exciting to have the opportunity to leverage this strong brand in the event arena. With an estimated 3 million exploring their family history and many more with a passion for broader history subjects, I am confident this will be another block buster!” Nicola Meadley, Director, Brand Events

For further information contact:
Nicola Meadley, Director, Brand Events, 020 7471 1080
Jay Kauldhar, Show Manager, Brand Events, 020 7471 1080
Charlotte Campion, Sales Executive, Brand Events, 020 7471 1080
Fi Kahn, Speaker Coordinator, Sticks Research Agency, 07956 166700

10 December 2006

Thought for the day

Typos (and grammatical errors) are very important to all written form. It gives the reader something to look for so they aren't distracted by the total lack of content in your writing.
- Randy K. Milholland

08 December 2006

Old genealogy dogs learning new tricks

A few months ago, on a Skypecast, Dick Eastman expressed skepticism about the benefits of DNA for genealogy. Later on his blog he reviewed a draft of the new book Saxons, Vikings and Celts, by Bryan Sykes. I detected a change in attitude then. Now he has come around and is initiating an Eastman surname project.

He isn't the only one. Two friends in their 70s, people who've been working on family history for many years, recently consulted me about getting their own DNA analysis, one through the Genographic Project, the other through a Family Tree DNA regional project. Another friend asked about books on DNA and genealogy, a great Christmas gift for a genealogist.

It's learning new tricks that keeps us old genealogy dogs going.

Great Moments in Genealogy

Tomorrow, Saturday 9 December, the BIFHSGO monthly meeting is a perennial favourite. Members will recount thrilling breakthoughs, unusual twists in the trail, and in at least one case this year blind luck, in pursuing their family history research. For many it's (!) a not to be missed event. All welcome in the Auditorium at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, starting at 10 am.

07 December 2006

Anglo-Celtic Roots - December 2006

One of the advantages of being on the Board of BIFHSGO is getting the quarterly chronicle early. It's distributed at the Monday evening Board meeting, you don't have to wait until the Saturday monthly general membership meeting.

In addition to the regular columns and features the new issue includes a first, a pair of articles by Tad and Terry Findley - a married couple. They explore Tad's maternal line, which becomes quite an international tour. Written in the first person the articles well conveys the sense of discovery you get as the chase takes unanticipated turns - from Trinidad to England, Scotland, Ireland, the US, Canada and Venezuela.

Also in this issue is part nine of Patricia Roberts-Pichette's series on Middlemore Homes, this one describing the early history in Nova Scotia. A shorter item by Caroline Herbert reports on the trip she and Patricia took last September to a Middlemore Home Children reunion in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

We are frequently told that the quality of Anglo-Celtic Roots is one reason people join, and stay with BIFHSGO. Feeling left out? You can reserve your own future copy by joining the Society. Download a BIFHSGO membership form here. How about a subscription as a Christmas present?

05 December 2006

Another Box?

I think, I think I am, therefore I am, I think.

Of course you are my bright little star,
I've miles
And miles
Of files
Pretty files of your forefather's fruit
and now to suit our
great computer,
You're magnetic ink.

I'm more than that, I know I am, at least, I think I must be.

from In The Beginning by Graeme Edge of the Moody Blues

Will you be another box amongst many with nothing but official data to mark your existence?

Plan on leaving a family history legacy.

Ancestry Adds 1851 and 1861 Census of Scotland

Now indexed and searchable, the 1851 and 1861 census transcripts are the latest additions to ancestry.co.uk. However, images of the originals are not available,likely as copyright clearance could not be obtained.

Don't forget that there are often public access locations where you can access ancestry, including the Ottawa Public Library and Ottawa Family History Centre.

These databases augment the 1841 census of Scotland, also available through ancestry, and the 1881 census which is on CD at the BIFHSGO library and Family History Centre. Don't forget to check FreeCen which has census data transcriptions for several Scottish counties for 1841, 1851 and 1861 at a price that's hard to beat.

04 December 2006

Ryan Taylor and Ancestors in the Attic

Last Saturday, 2 December, there was a memorial service for well know Canadian genealogist Ryan Taylor. A large number of family, friends and colleagues from as far away as the Allen County Public Library crowded into a room at the University of Toronto to remember Ryan. His brother related stories from his earliest days; former colleagues spoke of his contributions, and also his more arcane interests including Queen Alexandria. All were sad to lose someone who gave so much, and could have contributed so much more had he lived.

You can read a collection of Ryan's short articles at the Global Genealogy web site:

At the reception after the service it was good to talk to some of the folks Ryan was acquainted with from Ancestors in the Attic. I was surprised to learn that comments on the episodes in this blog are being read by them. I hope the opinions expressed on violations of good genealogical research technique, especially cavalier use of the IGI documented in previous posts, will be heeded.

The program appears to be attracting good advertising. Some of that revenue should be returned to improve the research, and so the educational value of the product.

You don't agree, one way or the other! By special request I've turned on commenting so you can respond.