28 February 2009

FreeBMD updated

March 1st is St. David's Day after the patron saint of Wales.

The FreeBMD Database, which includes Welsh registration districts, was updated on 28 February 2009 and now contains 163,651,860 distinct records (210,829,317 total records).

Battle of Wills - Film Preview

An open invitation.

Dr. Lilly Koltun, Director General of the Portrait Gallery of Canada, invites you to a screening of Battle of Wills, a film by Anne Henderson. Part historical mystery, part science-fiction thriller, this documentary tells the compelling story of the Sanders portrait, a painting whose Canadian owner claims it is the only image of Shakespeare taken from life.

Sunday, March 1, 2009
Doors open at 7:00 p.m.
Screening at 7:30 p.m.
Panel discussion at 8:30 p.m.

Panel members include filmmaker Anne Henderson, portrait owner Lloyd Sullivan, scientist Dr. Marie-Claude Corbeil and Dr. Lilly Koltun.

Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Encourage your friends, family and colleagues to join us at this free event.

Coffee and conversation follow the screening and panel discussion.

Limited parking on site. Street parking available nearby.

27 February 2009

Death of Mike Brede

The local genealogical community is very much saddened to learn of the death of former OGS Regional 8 Director Mike Brede. Although he only serving in that role for a short while he championed the initiative which saw Kingston chosen as the venue for the OGS annual conference to be held in in 2012. Mike passed away yesterday after an arduous battle with brain cancer.

More of Mike's life here.

TNA podcast on RAF Service records

27 January 2009 saw the presentation of a talk on RAF Service records, now available as a podcast, by TNA military specialist William Spencer.

The talk covers the records of the Royal Air Force and predecessor organizations the Royal Engineers Balloon Section, the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. There are peculiarities to the records for people whose service bridged the transition in 1918. For WW2 records are still with the Ministry of Defence and available only to the ex-serviceman or next-of-kin.

As with Spencer`s previous presentations, this is another example of a topic that would benefit from the visuals being available.

26 February 2009

New Zealand BDMs

You can search for birth, death and marriage historical records here for that family cousin whose ship out of Britain headed south to New Zealand. The site has a search facility for NZ:
  • Births that occurred at least 100 years ago
  • Stillbirths that occurred at least 50 years ago
  • Marriages and eventually Civil Unions that occurred 80 years ago
  • Deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago or the deceased's date of birth was at least 80 years ago.
In New Zealand registration of births and deaths was introduced in 1848, and in 1854 for marriages.

The free searches return index entries with names, year, and date of birth for deaths, but no location information.

You can order and pay online to have a research hardcopy mailed at about the cost of a UK certificate. Other formats are also available.

The site seemed to work pretty well, as long as you type in dates in the right format.

25 February 2009

1916 Canadian census

Ancestry.ca have made available an indexed version of the 1916 census for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, linked to original images.

Here's the press release:

Ancestry.ca ANNOUNCES WORLD-FIRST ONLINE LAUNCH OF 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta

More than 1.7 million names indexed and fully searchable - 38,000+ images of original documents (Toronto, ON – Feb. 26 2009)

In a world first, Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, today launched online the 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, which contains 1.7 million names and more than 38,000 images of original Census pages in an indexed and fully searchable format.

From 1906 to 1956, a separate Census was taken for the Prairie provinces five years after every national Census, providing a more complete picture of Canada’s west at this time. By law, the collection was kept private for 92 years and this is the first time ever that Canadians can view these important records online.

Family and social history enthusiasts can search the collection by first and last name, residence, place and year of birth, by father, mother and spouse’s name. This Census was also the first ever in Canada to ask about military service, providing much more detailed information about one’s ancestors. In addition to recording basic population and demographic statistics, the Census recorded primary migrant communities, which originated from England, Ireland, Scotland, the U.S. and Russia. In fact, 1916 was the year that the famous Doukhobors - a group of Christian Russian immigrants that would come to play a great role in building the Prairies - first arrived in Alberta.

Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, Ancestry.ca, comments: “The 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is a fascinating and valuable snapshot of the Canadian Prairies and the people living there during a time of tremendous significance in the shaping of our country. “Not only are Census records one of the most vital resources for family history researchers but they help paint a picture of the times in which these people lived and the many challenges they overcame.” 1916 was a milestone year in Canada’s history, especially in the Prairies. On January 28, women in Manitoba were finally given the right to vote; this was the first time that right was granted in Canada, and thanks to the efforts of great women such as Nellie McClung, who appears in the 1916 Census living in Edmonton, Alberta. It was also in 1916 that Canadian troops fought in some of the most significant battles of the First World War - the Battle of Mont Sorrel and the Battle of the Somme, in which Canada’s heroic role helped pave the way for a future Allied victory.

Many Canadians will be able to find ancestors in this collection and Census records are excellent for narrowing down individuals and families in a particular place and time. But family history enthusiasts can also scan the 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to see if they are related to notable Canadians from the Prairie Provinces, including:
· Nellie McClung - One of the most important leaders of Canada's first wave of feminism, she is still remembered for her role in the women’s suffrage movement. McClung appears in the Census living in Edmonton with her husband Robert and their five children. · Tom Three Persons - A famous Blackfoot Indian bronco rider, he broke many bronco records and was the first native person to be the world’s bucking horse champion. Persons appears in the Census living with his wife, Wolf Long Face, on the Alberta Blood Indian reserve near Hanna, Alberta.
· Chief David Crowchild - As a young adult, Crowchild worked in the rodeos and at Indian fairs in Alberta. He became a Chief in 1946 and stood as the Tsuu T’ina People’s leader for seven years from 1946 to 1953. He appears in the Census living with his parents on the Sarcee Indian Reserve near Edmonton, Alberta.
· Sarah Ramsland - Born in Minnesota, Ramsland moved to Buchanan, Saskatchewan after she was married and became famous for being the first woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. She is found in the Census living with her two children and husband, Max.
· W. O. Mitchell - A famous author of novels, short stories and plays, he was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 1914 and later settled in High River, Alberta. Mitchell is best known for his 1947 novel, Who Has Seen The Wind, which has sold close to a million copies in Canada. Two year-old William Ormond Mitchell appears in the Census living with his parents and older brother John, in Weyburn.
· William “Bible Bill” Aberhart - Born in Kippen, Ontario in 1878, he later moved to Calgary, Alberta to teach. Called “Bible Bill” for his religious preaching, Aberhart helped found the Social Credit Party, which had power from 1935 to 1971. During this time he served as the Premier of Alberta, Minister of Education and Attorney General. He appears in the Census living in Calgary with his wife and two children.

The 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is available through a 14-day Free Trial at Ancestry.ca.

More on Paper of Record newspapers

Unfortunately it appears finding of Paper of Record (PoR) newspapers at World Vital Records (WVR) reported here yesterday is not as good as it looks.

An entry in Google News Help reports "To look at a newspaper (on WVR), a subscription needs to be paid. .. I did a search on the Yukon World, one of the two Yukon newspapers once on the PoR website. My search on a name I knew would be in the paper turned up four hits. Great! I then clicked on one of the finds to "find out more" and what did I find? I was transferred to the same Google webpage one is taken to when you go to the Paper of Record database. And, just to make sure, I did a search on the advanced search facility on Google and came up with no entries for the Yukon World. Exactly the same outcome since the closure of the PoR website."

It appears that WVR was providing a consolidated gateway to PoR content for their subscribers which got broken when Google closed the PoR website. If you have a WVR subscription please share your experience with accessing these newspaper databases.

Unusual first name Ocean

While transcribing I found the name Ocean Fisher.

I checked FreeBMD and found Ocean Rolls, Ocean Hazard, Ocean Bridge and Ocean Strand.

Gene-o-rama reminder

OGS Ottawa Branch holds its annual Gene-o-rama from March 27 to 28, 2009. Save $6 by registering by 28 February. Further information and online registration here.

24 February 2009

Found -- Paper of Record newspapers

It turns out some of the papers, not all, formerly available through Paper of Record are now available through the World Vital Records subscription service. Why couldn't Google provide that information upfront?

Friends Reunited future looks shaky

The pioneer UK social networking site Friends Reunited has been worth knowing about for genealogists with UK interests. Several years ago I used it to locate the siblings of a second cousin, found through Genes Reunited.

British press reports are that owner ITV is considering selling Friends Reunited as a cost-cutting measure. Last April the site moved from a subscription model to advertiser supported, you can see the jump in search volume, but that was shortly before advertising collapsed. Read more here.

The reports suggest that Friends Reunited by itself may be a difficult sell, but could be more attractive if packaged with Genes Reunited which claims to be "The UK's no.1 family history site with 9 million members.

23 February 2009

Google must walk the "Don't be evil" talk

There's a storm brewing at Google and genealogists are involved.

It was started when Google, having acquired the Paper of Record content of Ottawa company Cold North Wind Inc, chose to take down that site before fully integrating the files into Google's newspaper archive. Papers from several locations are no longer available and "The Google Results are in no way comparable to what Paper of Record presented."

Here are some comments from Google News Suggestions since discussion started at the end of January:

"I was soooo disappointed to find that I could not access the archives for The Temiskaming Speaker. It included a wealth of information for my family tree research."

"I too am very disappointed that this service has been discontinued. I used it quite often when I was doing geaealigical (sic) research."

"None of this content is available (newspapers from Mexico) as of today."

"I was making very precise and detailed use of the two Yukon (Canada) newspapers in the database, which were providing me with information not available otherwise to me here in Australia. ... I turned my attention elsewhere for a couple of weeks and when I returned I find the present mess."

"I was in the middle of a doctoral dissertation using obscure Canadian newspapers, when suddenly the whole system got pulled out from under my feet. It's outrageous -- it is certainly making me a dedicated enemy of Google -- until now I thought they were kind of a good thing, but this is sheer cultural rapine piracy!"

"Google, what you have done to Paper of Record is pure evil" Don't be evil is one of Google's credos.

"Google has shown that the academic community cannot rely on them when they pull content at a whim. It is scary to think that Google can manipulate and control content this way."

Google's official response is:

"Google acquired content from paperofrecord.com. We're currently working on the most effective way to search and browse this valuable content. We're doing our best to find a solution to include as much of the acquired content as possible.

While a lot of this content has been made available through Archive search, we're still refining processes to include incompatible newspaper images in our index. We're also working with certain publishers to acquire the rights to display their content. All of this takes time, and we appreciate your patience. We're constantly making improvements to ensure the best user experience."

The response fails to address why the the Paper of Record interface can't be restored until Google can replace it with one at least as good. Even with its limitations, and there were plenty, Paper of Record was the half a loaf that was better than none.

If you miss the Paper of Record material let Google know by posting here.

Thanks to Willis Burwell for the storm alert.

22 February 2009

Couldn't genealogical societies learn to share nicely?

Newspapers are in trouble. There's even a website called Newspaper Death Watch.

Last Friday they ran an article New York Dailies Try Sharing Nicely

"Five New York newspapers have banded together to exchange content in the largest such arrangement since the share-nicely craze began last year.

No details were forthcoming, but the group issued a press release quoting top editors at all the participating papers making head-slapping “Why didn’t we think of this earlier?” statements."

If newspapers can do it why not genealogical society magazines?

21 February 2009

reCAPTCHAS for genealogy

An interesting story in The Walrus about how we're all helping transcribe digitized old books and newspapers using CAPTCHAS and reCAPTCHAS (the distorted text we have to transcribe to get access to some websites).

"Human Resources: The job you didn't even know you had" / by Alex Hutchinson. In The Walrus, Vol. 6, no. 2 (March 2009), p. 15-16.

Thanks to Linda Reid for the lead.

20 February 2009

LAC Services Advisory Board Meeting

The Library and Archives Canada Services Advisory Board will be meeting by teleconference on Friday 27 February. Congratulations to LAC on getting the documentation for the meeting posted on the LAC web site a week in advance of the meeting. You may review it here. I'd be pleased to receive and pass along any substantive comments.

Closure of FamilyHistoryOnline

The Federation of Family History Societies announced last fall it is closing its FamilyHistoryOnline service. FFHS found it could not operate a competitive service. Much of the content is already also available findmypast.com. More transfers are expected. The website at www.familyhistoryonline.net will close at noon (GMT) on Monday 2nd March 2009.

No new memberships to FamilyHistoryOnline are being accepted. According to a FFHS FAQ arrangements have been made to convert the outstanding balance on partially-used vouchers to findmypast.com credits at end of the FamilyHistoryOnline service.

Not all the data currently at FamilyHistoryOnline is being transferred so if you have outstanding credits you might want to check to see if there's a database of interest that will be dissappearing. FFHS have promised to indicate the transfer status on the list of databases included here.

19 February 2009

An overlooked 19th century UK census

In the UK any genealogist beyond the beginner stage knows that censuses started to be taken in 1801, were taken every ten years with that of 1841 being the first with nationwide nominal information available. In Canada the decennial census starting in 1871, and since 1851 in the prior colonies. Quinquennial censuses for 1906 and 1916 are available for the rapidly developing Prairies provinces.

Much less well know is that a quinquennial censuses was taken in London, England, in 1896. It was for much the same reason as those for the Prairies -- rapid growth.

The census aimed to record all people alive at midnight on Sunday March 29 - Monday March 30. It included name, relationship to the head of family and sex.

First results were reported in The Times of Thursday, May 28, 1896. The population of "registration London" or "the administrative county of London" was 4,411,271. It turned out that this additional census information showed the mid-1896 population was actually less than estimated based on extrapolation of the 1881 and 1891 censuses, not the result expected.

The count was an underestimate of the normal population. Some people in Soho were said to have walked the street at night rather than be enumerated. Also missing were the Queen and some members of the royal family who were on vacation in France. They were recorded in the French census taken at the same time.

You can read the census statistics by London parish starting here. Unfortunately, and undoubtedly why it's overlooked, the nominal records appear not to have survived.

18 February 2009

A Call for Genealogical-Based Stories for a New Television Show

This message is posted, as received, for those with US genealogy interests, and those interested in developments in TV genealogy.

My name is Agustina Perez and I am a Producer of a new television series called, "What's My Story?" Our series is currently in the development phase and will revolve around the genealogical-based stories belonging to the everyman (and woman) as opposed to celebrities or known personalities. In fact, we are in the process of avidly searching for participants to be featured on our series. Our goal is to find participants from diverse backgrounds who are genuinely interested in undertaking a real journey of discovery -- one that explores their family tree, uncovers their family history and unveils fascinating and poignant facts about the social history surrounding the lives of their ancestors.

I am writing to you this afternoon because we need your assistance in locating engaging participants (to be featured on show) with compelling family questions or mysteries. Perhaps there are some clients that you are currently working with who would like to or wouldn't mind having their quest documented on film? Or perhaps you've come in contact with potential clients who have intriguing family stories/questions but who do not have the resources (time or money) to delve into their family history. As far as story parameters are concerned, we would like to find stories that can be filmed within the U.S. (for the first season.) However, if you know of interesting stories that venture into international territory, please send them our way and we may refer to them once we begin the second season. Also, at this point, we are only interested in going three to four generations deep, principally due to the availability of archival photos and footage to visually augment the stories.

Lastly, we are seeking to hire genealogists on a contract-basis to assist us with our research tasks. If you are interested in working with us, please email me with your availability from March until August 2009, your contracted rates, and if you would be interested in being an on-camera guest/expert. If you are not interested in being contacted by our show, please email me and with a request to be removed from this group list.

Our goal is a rather ambitious one. We would like to receive 500 stories by the beginning of next week. Hence, we could truly use the muscle of the grassroots mechanism. If you are a member of another genealogical association, please pass the word along. We have a website noted below for people who may be interested in applying to be on the show.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. I look forward to potentially working with you in the future.

Agustina Perez Producer, BYU Broadcasting What's My Story? 510.449.4307 http://www.byub.org/whatsmystory/
"After all, everyone wants to be remembered."

17 February 2009

Newspapers -- LAC digitization priority

LAC have posted a new section on their web site which "shares information on digital initiatives at LAC." There's a lot on information on strategy, and also insight on what the organization is working on digitizing.

The digitization plan for 2008-2009, presumably nearly complete, includes:

1. Mass Digitization Plan - 2008-2009

  • Department of Indian Affairs, School Files Series (1879-1953)
  • Yousuf Karsh photos
  • Office of the Governor General of Canada, Despatches received and sent, British North America (Parts 1 and 2) (1784-1923)
  • Sir John Sparrow David Thompson fonds
  • Sir Charles Tupper fonds
  • Canadian History books, FC classification (1900-1925)
  • Department of External Affairs' Special Task Force, Front de libération du Québec - October Crisis
  • Privy Council Office, Cabinet Conclusions (1976)
  • Hansard (1901-1993)
  • Hallen Family fonds

2. Finding Aid Conversion Plan - 2008-2009

  • Canadian National Railways, Maps, plans and drawings for railway stations and buildings in Ontario and Québec (1853-1972)
  • Registrar General Index (1651-1841)
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King fonds, Correspondence (J1) (1889-1921)
  • Department of National Defense, Canadian Military Headquarters and Army Historical Section, Historical reports (1940-1964)
  • Proclamations issued by the Governor, Québec, Lower Canada and Canada East (1766-1860)
  • Department of Public Works, Registers to contracts, deeds and leases (1879-1964)
  • Privy Council Office, Registers of despatches (1867-1911)
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Photographs (1875-1995)
  • Québec Gazette, Index
  • Sir John Thompson fonds
  • Public Archives of Canada, London Office index

For the longer term the LAC digitization strategy 2009-2014 states that the focus will be on the following broad content areas:

  • finding aids,
  • newspapers,
  • audio-visual materials on obsolete supports,
  • government publications,
  • Canadian books in the public domain, and
  • government records and private archives which support LAC services and programs.

16 February 2009

Celebrate Heritage Day at Ottawa City Hall

Tuesday February 17, 2009, the third Tuesday of February, is Heritage Day in Ottawa.

Come and help celebrate Ottawa's local heritage, and let your Mayor and Council know that local heritage is important and worth supporting.

Location: Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Street West, Ottawa. Ceremonies start at noon.

15 February 2009

A classic research error

Brenda Dougall Merriman's most recent blog post is a recommended read recounting how "Way back when, I made a classic research error in my initiation to family history." We can all learn from our mistakes, and the wise learn from the mistakes of others. Thanks for sharing this Brenda.

14 February 2009

Believe or not, J K Rowling's genealogy on Ancestry

An article in the February 8 Sunday Telegraph mentions that Harry Potter creator J K Rowling's ancestry includes the marriage of her great-grandfather Louis Volant, a WW1 hero, to Eliza Mary Ann Smith. They were married in Gorleston, Norfolk, on January 22 1900. According to the Telegraph Eliza's father worked for the Coastguard.

The story caught my attention as Gorleston was my home as a child.

On ancestry.co.uk, checking the 1901 census, the couple is found in Gorleston with Eliza's birthplace shown as Kessingland, Suffolk, England about 1875. In the 1891 census she is the eldest daughter of seven children of Henry and Elizabeth Smith. Henry's occupation is timekeeper. From the birthplaces for the children the family moved from Kessingland to Gorleston ca 1895.

In 1881 Eliza is living as niece in the home of Frederick and Mary Holt at the Swan Inn, Barnby, Suffolk. The inn is still operating and a recent review suggests some decent local food may be had.

For those who believe that everything on the Internet must be true there's an alternate Ancestry version of the family tree. The Gibbons Family Tree has Harry Potter with Living Rowling as the mother, Adolph Hitler as the father, Pope John Paul I as the maternal grandfather and Mother Theresa as his wife!

13 February 2009

The Time of Cholera

BIFHSGO's February monthly meeting features Alison Hare speaking on "The Time of Cholera"

Longtime BIFHSGO members may recall a Great Moments presentation by Alison some years ago about her ancestor who died in London’s cholera epidemic of 1854. This presentation takes the story of Dr. John Snow, the Broad Street water pump and a map, much further by identifying many of the forgotten victims using lesser known resources and careful research technique.

The meeting is at 10:00 a.m., 14 February 2009 at Library & Archives Canada 395 Wellington Street

At 9:00 am BIFHSGO President Mary Anne Sharpe will host a discussion "Charting the Future" a opportunity for members to discuss and influence future directions for the society.

12 February 2009

LAC opens doors wide for collaborative digitization projects

The Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) "in order to identify collaborative opportunities for the digitization of its diverse collections. Arrangements could include digitization and/or the creation of nominal indices or other research tools.

This RFEOI is intended to enable LAC to identify the extent of interest by outside parties in non-monetary arrangements. In parallel, LAC may undertake mass digitization projects using its in-house resources or contractors on a fee-for-service basis."

Appendix B of the RFEOI, not available online without registration but copied below, details the range of materials available, which is very wide.

This initiative to open up the collection should appeal to commercial organizations, including Ancestry, whose present arrangement with LAC is probably a model. FamilySearch and a limited number of other not for profit organiztions, perhaps even including OGS with their Trillium grant, could benefit.

I'm wondering if there will be any interest in newspaper digitization.

Appendix B

Collections available for digitization Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) collection consists of publications and archival records of interest to Canada. It is a national treasure of inestimable value; it spans the entire history of Canada, and comprises materials in all media from all parts of the country, as well as records and publications of Canadian interest from outside the country.

The collections available for digitization are:

Genealogical material: LAC has thousands of reels of microfilm and millions of pages of original material that is of interest to the genealogy community.

Books and periodicals published in Canada, or with content of interest to Canadians: These include volumes from LAC’s general collection and comprise approximately 1.3 million book titles, and approximately 110,000 periodicals titles (e.g. magazines, scholarly journals).

Newspapers: LAC has over 3,300 newspaper titles comprising approximately one million reels of microfilm and an additional 150 newspaper titles in original print format only. This collection includes dailies, as well as Aboriginal, and ethnic titles.

Government of Canada Publications: LAC holds material published by the Government of Canada: approximately 390,000 titles mostly in original book format, and some on microfilms. This collection includes the Canada Gazette, Sessional Papers, Parliamentary Committee proceedings, and Royal Commission reports.

Government of Canada Records: LAC houses government records that document decisions and directions taken pre- and post Confederation. This collection includes Orders-in-Council, Cabinet Conclusions and Residential School records.

Private textual records: LAC holds open private textual records, including the records of former Prime Ministers and other politicians. As well, this segment of the collection includes records of various social, cultural, and ethnic organizations; of unions and businesses; and of musicians, artists and arts organizations.

Audio-visual holdings: LAC has extensive audio-visual holdings in its collection as well, including approximately 50,000 hours of obsolete video recordings (including 2” quads, 1” C tapes, ¾” cassettes, D2 cassettes, Betacam and Betacam SP) as well as audio recordings (including ¼” acetate tape, 78 rpm discs, acetate discs). The audio-visual segment comprises productions from both the private and the public sectors. The audio component includes musical and spoken-sound recordings.

Maps: LAC houses hundreds of thousands of maps, charts and plans, including geological maps, township plans, sectional maps, topographic maps, aeronautical charts, and early cartography; as well as hundreds of atlases and 40 globes.

Photographs: LAC has an extensive photograph collection with millions of photographs from government and private sources.

Theses: LAC holds approximately 300,000 theses on microfiche from Canadian universities.

11 February 2009

Could the economic downturn be a genealogy opportunity?

With RRSP savings sinking, and general economic uncertainty, people are starting to rediscover family history. Folks are taking out the family files they put on the back burner and finding many no- and low-cost resources online that weren't there only a few years ago. Compared to the cost of travel and shopping, staying at home and researching family history is a bargain.

FamilySearch and Library and Archives Canada's Canadian Genealogy Centre continue to open up new resources. You can sign up for a free two-week trial subscription to Ancestry.

Some companies are sharpening their pencils and offering discounts. For example, recent customers and subscribers to the Global Genealogy eNewsletter can get 15% off on purchases until Saturday night, February 14th at midnight from Global Genealogy. Even if you're not presently an eNewsletter subscriber you can sign up online, here, then place an order the same day and receive the discount. Just put "Customer Appreciation" in the Special Instructions box in the final online check out screen.

Whither OGS Families

A package with OGS Newsleaf and the February issue of Families arrived on Tuesday.

In Families I was interested to find an article "Newspapers: A Gold Mine of Information," a topic on which I shall shortly be lecturing. It had items I shall borrow for my talk, but also notable omissions.

I also read J Brian Gilchrist's article "Eternal Rest Interrupted - Elmbank Roman Catholic Cemetery" about relocation of graves from the Toronto International Airport site, not that the topic is a particular interest but then any article by Gilchrist is a good bet to be interesting.

The remaining major articles didn't appeal to me - not everything in any magazine does.

There were two letters to the editor. One commented that the previous issue had "too many long family stories and not enough sources for us to check." The other was complimentary about the development of the publication, grateful for the treatment received as an author, liked the diversity of topics in the last issue and expressed a preference for more shorter articles.

A plea from the editor under the heading "Volunteers Wanted," a familiar refrain, suggests I'm not alone in seeking something different. It asks if recent issues have too narrow a focus -- the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

To that I'd have to say yes, but go further and suggest that the answer may require a more fundamental rethink of the publication.

There's no lack of talent amongst OGS members. Many articles by members appear in commercial magazines. I see them all the time in the Moorshead family of magazines which at least pay something, although not very much, and likely reach a wider audience. Why would an author publish an article in Families they could be paid for?

Families seems to consider its remit strictly Ontario, although many members have interests much further afield and would likely welcome good material from elsewhere? Has Families considered reprinting articles from publications of other genealogical and family history societies? That's one thing that could have been facilitated by an association of Canadian societies, but which OGS appears to have done nothing to encourage.

Beyond that is the question of whether technology means the days of this type of magazine are numbered. Many of us subscribe to genealogy databases, while others choose a pay per view option. Similarly, maybe people would prefer to have a choice between subscribing to Families and paying to access individual articles online. Some of the considerations are discussed in this recent article.

10 February 2009

Some Hampshire and Suffolk burials online

Start the search here for data from some Hampshire cemetery registers, from Bishopstoke, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, Fareham, Locks Heath, Portchester, Sarisbury, Stubbington and Titchfield.

For the Waveney District Council of Suffolk start here for listings of burials at cemeteries in Beccles, Belle Vue Park, Bungay, Halesworth, Kirkley, Lowestoft, Southwold and Wrentham.

All are free.

Information returned is typically: cemetery, grave, surname, name, burial date, address, age and for some occupation.

Commemoration Week?

This week sees the bicentennials of the births of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

In Ottawa can we spare a moment to remember Archibald Lampman, termed Canada's finest 19th-century English-language poet, who died 110 years ago, on 10 February 1899.

The frost that stings like fire upon my cheek,
The loneliness of this forsaken ground,
The long white drift upon whose powdered peak
I sit in the great silence as one bound;
The rippled sheet of snow where the wind blew
Across the open fields for miles ahead;
The far-off city towered and roofed in blue
A tender line upon the western red;
The stars that singly, then in flocks appear,
Like jets of silver from the violet dome,
So wonderful, so many and so near,
And then the golden moon to light me home--
The crunching snowshoes and the stinging air,
And silence, frost and beauty everywhere.

09 February 2009

Happy Birthday Les

TNA podcast on Irish land records

Sharon Hintze from the London (Exhibition Road) Family History Centre gave a TNA lecture on 20 January 2009 now posted as a podcast . The talk covers Tithe Applotments, Griffith's Valuation including the assessment books. It also mentions the Registry of Deeds, Irish Flax Growers Lists, Return of Owners of Land and records catalogued under Voters Lists. None of these document ages or families but may be the only record option available.

Listen here.

08 February 2009

British and Irish Architects

Chris Paton blogs that "the Irish Government has funded a new online database of interest to those with architects in their ancestry. The Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940 at www.dia.ie can be searched by the name of the architect in question, or by the work he created."

Chris also mentions that Scottish architects can be researched online, at www.scottisharchitects.org.uk, which covers 1840-1980.

There does not seem to be an equivalent site for English or Welsh architects. There is some limited information at www.lookingatbuildings.org which serves as "an introduction to architecture with pages on Building Types, architectural styles and traditions and building materials and methods of construction, and an expanding guide and introduction to buildings in seven of England's cities. Research tools including glossary, links, an index of architects and their works and a guide to further reading on all aspects of English architecture."

Genealogy Gripe Week - Review

There were more comments posted to items this past week than ever before on the blog. Most items hit a sore spot with somebody, not just me!

The item about a petition to open the civil registration records got most hits. Some may have thought from the title that these records are being opened, not just petitioned to be opened. The petition remains open, now with over 2,500 signatures.

Apparently Ancestors magazine still doesn't want subscriptions. You can get a bit further in the subscription process than when I first tried, but it's no progress to enter all your information only to receive the message "Error! Click here to return to the homepage."

There was some good news about LAC service problems. An archivist is going through all the orders where issues have been found to try and identify the problems. She was only up to surnames beginning with L when I spoke to her on Friday. Nevertheless, every time I visit some other issue seems to surface. On Friday I found out that if you send an item for photocopying then the whole box has to go along with it. you can't have the file put in a different box keeping the remaining available to you. Perhaps there's a shortage of boxes. Of course, this wouldn't be an issue if LAC found a way to provide as standard the same reasonably rapid photocopy service provided elsewhere.

Comments identifying additional uses of the Internet for genealogy were added, now many more than mentioned in The Beaver column.

On the TNA podcast one comment agreed with the difficulty of following the talk without the visuals, and then went on with her own suggestion that I add a direct link to the audio on my blog. A suggestion isn't exactly a gripe -- but turnaround is fair!

07 February 2009

Congratulations John L Sayers

Helping celebrate genealogy gripe week.

John Sayers is a gentleman, a dedicated genealogist known far and wide for his work on home children. His many other contributions to family history in Ottawa have included cemeteries coordinator for OGS Ottawa Branch, longtime volunteer with the local Family History Centre, and running the England discovery table at BIFHSGO monthly meetings. He was named to the BIFHSGO Hall of Fame in 2001.

Posted on the OGS Ottawa Branch web site is information that John is to be recognized with an Ontario Heritage Trust award to be presented at 9:30 am on Thursday April 2, 2009 at the Community and Protective Services Committee at City Hall.

So what's to gripe about?

I'll be away and miss the event. Two other people well known in the local heritage community will also receive awards. Who are they?

06 February 2009

Civil registration, and beyond

Helping celebrate genealogy gripe week.

The most recent podcast from The National Archives is by Audrey Collins who takes a look at civil registration, and reveals some of the little-known facts and stories behind the records. You might not learn much to help in your research.

At least one myth gets debunked and you'll gain an appreciation for the people pushing the pen that wrote the indexes.

My gripe -- lack of visuals to go along with the audio.

05 February 2009

How genealogists use the internet

Helping celebrate genealogy gripe week

In his latest genealogy column in March issue of The Beaver columnist Fraser Dunford identifies four, and only four, genealogical uses of the Internet. They are:

1. to look at original documents;
2. to search indexes;
3. to look at prepared genealogies;
4. and to contact others who are interested in the same families as you.

Contrast this with a list I found through Stephen Abrams blog which had a bar graph of online activities of internet users worldwide. They aren't specifically genealogy but most have application to genealogy. I certainly check the weather forecast online before deciding about going to genealogy meetings at this time of year.

Here's a longer list specific to genealogy/family history: getting news about new resources; getting news about meetings, conferences and workshops; registering for genealogical events; online genealogy education; ordering books, magazines and other published genealogical resources; consulting library or archive catalogues; reserving a computer to consult databases at the local library; ordering certificates; discussing genealogy; viewing transcribed or abstracted material; viewing maps; finding photographs; backing up genealogical data; organizing speakers for meetings, conferences and workshops; accessing cloud resources, e.g. "Google documents"; accessing and writing blogs.

Dunford takes far too narrow a view, and in doing so misses much of the importance and potential of the internet for genealogy.

04 February 2009

More on service problems at LAC

Helping celebrate genealogy gripe week

I finally managed to get to LAC on February 3 during full service hours, only to find the slip for the material I ordered on 20 January annotated "cannot find this reference, see archivist."

Nothing else was done with it. No effort to contact me by email or telephone, both of which LAC have on file.

Talking to others I learn this lack of communication is standard LAC practise. That's appalling for a service organization. How much effort would it take to pull up the client email address and send a prompt notification that there's a problem?

Added at 12:30 pm -- As promised yesterday while talking to the duty archivist, I received a call from LAC to say these boxes have arrived.

Ancestors magazine doesn't want subscriptions!

Helping Celebrate Genealogy Gripe Week

I post fairly regularly on items drawn from Ancestors, a UK magazine published in association with The National Archives. It's a good source. I subscribed for the past year, even though the cost for an annual subscription, with airmail delivery, is a sky high 66 pounds.

You`d think at that price they`d bend over backwards to get you to renew.

I tried to get into the web site without success several times -- no page was loaded. On Saturday my request was caught in the Google “This site may harm your computer.” error.

Later that day I did connect. Clicking on `click here to subscribe now`and `subscribe` returned to exactly the same page. In fact every internal link returns to that same page. There was no way to enter a subscription!

Also their RSS feed is broken, and it's not accepting subscriptions.

Another renewal option would be to mail a form to the company, but that's with the risk of giving out a credit card number, including the security code. No thank you.

03 February 2009

1891 Canadian census free online at LAC

Helping celebrate Genealogy Gripe Week

No gripe on this one. Kudos to LAC and Ancestry.ca

Now there is free access online to an indexed 1891 Census of Canada through the LAC web site here.

The indexes are linked to digitized images of original census returns which list the name, age, country or province of birth, nationality, religion, and occupation of Canada's residents at the time of the 1891 Census. More detailed information is here.

LAC acknowledges the contribution of Ancestry.ca.

Open access to registers of Birth, Marriage and Death from 1837 to 1908

Helping celebrate Genealogy Gripe Week

A long time gripe of many a genealogist is the cost of obtaining full information on civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales. To obtain the information you have no option but to buy a certified copy of the certificate. Most of us just want the information, not a certificate.

Now there's a petition to open the civil registration records under the 100 year rule. It reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to allow full and open access to registers of Birth, Marriage and Death from 1837 to 1908.

The further explanation reads "Having full and open access to the registers of births, marriages and deaths from 1837 to 1908 will make it easier for genealogists to research the records and ensure they get the copies they require. If copies were put on the internet this would simplify the process. These records are over a hundred years old and should now be accessible to all with a small fee to cover the cost of copying the originals.|

The petition, which may be signed online by British residents and expats, already has over 650 signatures. If you qualify please consider signing the petition, but don't expect any fast action.

Find the petition at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/OpenBMDrecords/

Also on England and Wales BMDs, FreeBMD updated their database on 30 January - now with an amazing 162,001,022 distinct records and working on index entries for the 1930s.

02 February 2009

LAC open, but not for service

Helping Celebrate Genealogy Gripe Week

With the bus strike it has been a trial getting to Library and Archives Canada. Parking, challenging at the best of times, has been a headache. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky, found parking in a one hour zone and was able to submit an order. Having waited to take the order form into the fishbowl the clerk looked at me, pitifully, and told me, with strained regulation civility, that I should put it in the box outside. This didn't seem to allow for delivering the material to a storage locker, but I didn't worry as I believed I could come back and collect the material during the new open hours on a Saturday.

I made it in last Saturday, but when I got to the 3rd floor found there was no retrieval service, even for pre-ordered materials which are presumably waiting behind locked doors on the same floor. The only Saturday service available is digital copying self-service and microfilm reproduction.

If you scrutinize the service and opening hours on the LAC website here, and your eye doesn't zoom past the asterisk, you can read that limitation on Saturday service. My eye was moving too fast.

Why does it have to be that way? It would be really helpful if the asterisk note stated explicitly, and clearly, the parts of regular service that will not be provided on Saturday as well as those that will. Asterisks make sense in black and white printed material, but it doesn't cost extra to add colour on the web so why not highlight the limitation in service in colour.

Better yet would be to provide that Saturday service.

01 February 2009

Ancestry England & Wales, Birth Index: 1916-2005

Helping Celebrate Genealogy Gripe Week

I`m not sure whether to gripe, cheer or stay quiet about this one!

On January 28th Ancestry announced on their recent genealogy database page the
England & Wales, Birth Index: 1916-2005. I tried it and found my own birth index entry by a direct search -- no scanning through a page, or series of pages, it might be on.

A little later I tried again and the same search didn't work. I even tried contacting Lesley Anderson, Ancestry guru, who couldn't get it to work as a direct search.

It now appears to be working again - somewhat! Will it remain so?

This should be, a very nice facility. It's like they completed the task for FreeBMD.

Your search should be able to include the mother's maiden. Then finding index entries for siblings should be easy, if one of the father's or mother's surname isn't too common, especially if you can limit the date range and location. You need to go to the advanced search to force an exact match.

Unfortunately at last try the system was still flaky. I found a birth, but could not find it again when the mother's maiden name was entered even though it showed up on the digitized record.

Naturally if the entry is missing in the original GRO record, as for one of my brothers, you're out of luck.

Genealogy Gripe Week

Most people in Ottawa are getting pretty fed up. January saw no thaw this year. There were several dumps of snow. No public transit made things difficult for everyone, and virtually impossible for some. Even with the strike settled it will takes weeks for bus service to return to normal.

Having a full load of gripes, what better time to vent!


With the authority invested in me, by the powers that be, I declare this

Genealogy Gripe Week