30 May 2010

ACR Omnibus Edition 30 May 2010

Lots of new databases to highlight in this issue, but to begin let's mark the passing of Sister Marianna O'Gallagher on May 24th, 2010 at the age of 81 years. The daughter of the late Dermot I. O'Gallagher and the late Norma K. O'Neil she was an expert on the Irish in Quebec and had spoken and published on the topic with BIFHSGO.

In this issue

Deceasedonline adds Aberdeen Cemeteries
Ancestry adds London, England, Non-conformist Registers, 1694-1921
Ancestry updates Ontario Births (1869-1909), Deaths (1869-1934) and Deaths Overseas (1939-1947)
LAC Announces Updated Database: Soldiers of the First World War - CEF
LAC Client Statistics
TNA Podcast: Tracing marriages in 18th century England and Wales: a reassessment of law and practice

Deceasedonline adds Aberdeen Cemeteries
Newly available at deceasedonline.com

Nellfield Cemetery, Aberdeen
7,813 burials, dated 22 December 1856 to 18 August 1892 are available as burial register scans in various formats with up to 23 entries per scanned page;

Old Machar Churchyard, Aberdeen
181 burials, dated 5 October 1863 to 30 March 1907, are available as burial register scans up to 38 entries per scanned page;

St Clement’s Churchyard
6,731 burials, dated 1 January 1855 to 1 February 1928, are available as burial register scans with up to 34 entries per scanned page.

Grove Cemetery
149 burials, dated 9 March 1905 to 21 November 1983, are available as lair register scans.

In total Aberdeen City Archives will be making available approximately 190,000 burial records over the next 6-8 weeks. Other cemeteries to be added are: Allenvale Cemetery (1875-1966); John Knox Churchyard (1837-1894); Nigg Cemetery (1878-1923); St Nicholas Kirkyard (1824-1965); Spital Churchyard and St Peter’s Cemetery (1769-1972); and Trinity Cemetery (1882-1940).

Ancestry adds London, England, Non-conformist Registers, 1694-1921
This major new data collection contains baptism, marriage, and burial registers from 1694-1921 for many Non-Conformist churches in the greater London area. I counted 511 of them, from Acton Green Wesleyan Methodist Hall to Zion Chapel http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1906

Ancestry updates Ontario Births (1869-1909), Deaths (1869-1934) and Deaths Overseas (1939-1947)
General availability of Ontario birth, marriage and death registrations is restricted until after an embargo period. every year another year of records becomes available. Ancestry routinely plays catch-up.

LAC Announces Updated Database: Soldiers of the First World War - CEF
Library and Archives Canada has started a program to add digitized copies of the service files to the existing attestation papers database to make CEF records more accessible. It will help preserve the originals and to avoid copying the same file more than once. This is something suggested at the LAC Services Advisory Board more than a year ago for files that are being scanned in response to a specific request.

The LAC announcement explains that for files that have not yet been digitized, most of them, you can order photocopies or scanned images. The cost is the same. When a photocopy or digital copy is requested, the complete file will be scanned and the digital images will be added to the database the next time it is reloaded. In this way, all Canadians can help contribute to the preservation of our country's military heritage.

LAC Client Statistics
For fiscal year 2009-2010 the usage was:
In person: 54,265
Telephone: 32,243
Written (mail, e-mail, webforms): 89,755
Web visits: 17,709,491 (9,393,911 visitors; 149K page views)

TNA Podcast: Tracing marriages in 18th century England and Wales: a reassessment of law and practice
Rebecca Probert considers the Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753 which marked an important development in the history of marriage by putting the requirements for a valid marriage on a statutory basis for the first time. But what was the situation before 1753, and what practical impact did the Act have on popular practice? This thorough reassessment of law and practice is of particular relevance to those tracing their ancestors. First, the universality of formal marriage increases the likelihood that a record of an ancestor's marriage will exist somewhere; secondly, parish-level studies provide us with a clearer idea of where one may need to look for a marriage; and, thirdly, success or failure in tracing a marriage can be set within the context of the marriage law and practice of the time. www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/tracing-marriages-in-18th-century.htm

26 May 2010

ACR Omnibus Edition 26 May 2010

In this issue:

Go Ask Your Father
Ottawa City Archives Progress
Chapman Shipyard (NB) History
DNA Test Concern
International Coalition on Newspapers
DNA SIG Meeting

Go Ask Your Father
I borrowed this 2009 book by Lennard J. Davis from the Ottawa Public Library, It's the story of one man's obsession with finding his origins through DNA testing. His mission is to find out whether his biological father was the man he knew as his father, now deceased, that man's brother, or perhaps someone else.

Who in the genetic genealogy community has not dreamed that they might be able to drill down into the grave of a long deceased ancestor and get a DNA sample? With the capability to discover and recover DNA from degraded samples ever increasing, as illustrated by the recovery and sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, is that dream becoming closer to reality?

While that didn't happen in this case what did was at least as good. I was very surprised to learn that a sample of his father's flesh was found, more than 20 years after his death, preserved in paraffin at a local hospital. With the permission of the next of kin, his elder brother, Davis was able to access that sample for a DNA test.

I won't give the story away except to say that in the author's opinion the results of the DNA test were conclusive.

The strength of this book is Davis' description of the chase. I especially liked the various narratives he developed about his ancestry which changed as additional information became available. Less successful was his description of the basic science, perhaps because it's old hat to me. It was easy enough to skip those sections.

Ottawa City Archives Progress
Taken on Saturday May 22 through the fence off Tallwoods, just east of the Library technical services wing, the photo shows the basic structure of the archives wing now in place with interior construction supports removed. There was no work going on that day perhaps indicating the project is on schedule with no need for work over the long Victoria Day weekend.

Chapman Shipyard (NB) History
The Internet Archives now includes a March 2006 document "Application for Historical Site Designation Robert Andrew Chapman and Robert Andrew Chapman Shipyard," and application to Canada's Historical Sites and Monuments Board. Robert Andrew Chapman (February 2, 1835 – September 2, 1918), a descendant of a family of Yorkshire origin, operated a shipbuilding business in Rockland, New Brunswick, where 31 wooden sailing vessels were launched between 1860 and 1883. The document includes family history of the Chapman family, a listing of the ships built and their history.

DNA Testing Concern
Last week there was an announcement of availability of a DNA testing service, quickly withdrawn, sold over-the-counter at US drugstore chain Walgreens. The product, called Genetic Health Report, purported to test for more than 70 health issues, including predispositions to Alzheimer's, breast cancer, and diabetes. The situation is summarized at:

The report refers to a letter sent to heads of three DNA testing companies by the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce asking for information on various aspects of their genetic health service. A copy is at:

Although the concern at this time is regarding health-related services, not genetic genealogy, a March 2008 Congressional Research Service report did express concern about claims of ethnic origin determined from genetic testing, notably for African origins. http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RS22830_20080312.pdf

International Coalition on Newspapers
The ICON Database of International Newspapers is a free online resource for bibliographic information on newspapers published outside of the United States at http://icon.crl.edu/database.php. A search for Ottawa found 53 records. The site also has links to past, present, and prospective digitization projects of historic newspapers at http://icon.crl.edu/digitization.htm

DNA SIG Meeting
The Ottawa DNA/genetic genealogy interest group will be meeting on Saturday 29 May at 9:30am at Library and Archives Canada. As well as the regular round the table session I will be demonstrating results from 23andMe's Relative Finder and Family Tree DNA's Family Finder. All welcome. No charge.

23 May 2010

ACC Omnibus Edition: 23 May 2010

Anglo-Celtic Connections is listed as one of the 50 Best Blogs for Genealogy Geeks by OnlineUniversities.com. Read the full list at: www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2010/05/50-best-blogs-for-genealogy-geeks/

In this issue:
Royal Mail War Memorials
NARA Creative, LAC Boring
LAC adds Form 30As, digitized but unindexed
TNA Podcast: the story of the Jews in England, 1066 - 1290
Web Tip
Editorial - Gedcom in the Genome

Royal Mail War Memorials
Royal Mail is thought to be the second largest custodian of war memorials in Britain, behind only the Church. A database at http://catalogue.postalheritage.org.uk/dserve/bpma_docs/memorials.html lists known memorials, mostly for the Great War. It does not index names. There are images of some of the memorials where you can read names. The site is worth browsing, especially if you have a Royal Mail employee ancestor.

NARA Creative, LAC Boring
Under the heading "Jeopardy!" at the National Archives, Dick Eastman carries an article about US National Archivist David Ferriero who will "will put on his best Alex Trebek impersonation and quiz audience members on their historical knowledge. http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/05/jeopardy-at-the-national-archives.html

LAC adds Form 30As, digitized but unindexed
310 microfilms, T-14939 to T-15248, in series RG 76 C1j are now available for viewing on the LAC website. Form 30A relates to arrivals by ship, mostly in the timeframe 1921-1924, one per passenger:

Each Form 30A usually included the following details:

  • name of ship;
  • date of sailing;
  • port and date of arrival;
  • name;
  • age;
  • occupation;
  • birthplace;
  • race;
  • citizenship;
  • religion;
  • destination; and
  • name of the nearest relative in the country from which the immigrant came.
While there is no name search capability the entries are in quasi-alphabetical order. Refer to the help file at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/microform-digitization/006003-130-0003-e.html?PHPSESSID=2a7k8oqp299ii26bfvnsmlpst5 to identify the film you need to search.

Ancestry.ca subscribers and those with access to Ancestry Library Edition would be advised to try Ancestry's name index.

TNA Podcast: the story of the Jews in England, 1066 - 1290
Following a long break for the UK election TNA is now posting podcasts. In Dependence, intolerance and expulsion: the story of the Jews in England, 1066 - 1290, Adrian Jobson and Sean Cunningham relate the story from William the Conqueror inviting Jews into England to the Edict of Expulsion in July 1290 under Edward I. The time period covered is too early to be of interest to most genealogists. The presentation also suffers from not having access to the visual aids. www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/

Web Tip
Want to capture information from the web for your own use, perhaps to include in a family history or a presentation? Most people know you can do a screen grab using the PrtSc button on a PC. Windowa 7 has a Snipping Tool that does a better job and allows you to capture just part of the screen. But neither of these methods allows you to capture parts of the page outside those displayed. Lifehacker has a post on how to do this. Some interesting alternative means are mentioned in the comments. Read it at: http://lifehacker.com/5540656/capture-full-page-screenshots-entire-web-pages-as-a-continuous-image

Editorial - Gedcom in the Genome
DNA is the most natural of genealogical records. Half your DNA comes from your father, half from your mother. In turn their DNA came from their parents. Although it's a genealogical record it doesn't contain names as we are accustomed to seeing in genealogical records, just unique DNA sequences.

In these days of genetic engineering that could change. You've probably read about the announcement of the creation of a new organism with a synthetic genome, capable of reproducing itself, made by a group headed by J Craig Venter. What didn't get as much mention was that he inserted a segment of DNA with the names of 46 scientists on the project and several quotations written out in a secret code and saw them reproduced in the daughter cells.

The quotations were: "To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life," from James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; "See things not as they are but as they might be," which comes from American Prometheus, a biography of nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer; and Richard Feynman's famous words: "What I cannot build I cannot understand."

Can the day be very far in the future when science will offer the opportunity to insert a parent's name, and perhaps their whole known ancestry, into the DNA of the egg or sperm used for in-vitro fertilization?

19 May 2010

ACC Omnibus Edition: 19 May 2010

In this issue:

Resource Discovery at LAC
Massive New Newspaper Digitization in the UK
Irish 1901 Census
LAC Wrong on Copyright
First World War British Seamen Medal Cards
FreeBMD Database Update
New Online Education Opportunity
Reflections on the OGS Conference
Marriage Kills Women

Resource Discovery at LAC

As I was entering the building at 395 Wellington on Monday a group of students were being led to Exhibition Room A for the Lest We Forget experience. I was told an average one group each week come to the building throughout the year. Evidently Lest we Forget is not dead; it may have had a near death experience.

I was in the building to meet with Alison Bullock, Director General of Services, to explored the name change from Services to Resource Discovery Sector at LAC. She mentioned that LAC recently did a one-hour videoconference with three schools in Saskatchewan, an example of the type of initiative they are taking to make LAC more visible and bring its services to a more national audience, not just those like the students I saw who can travel to Ottawa.

Here are some of the changes happening at LAC.

A search engine optimization initiative is being pursued to try and make LAC resources more visible to Google and other search engines. Further efforts are being made to improve navigation on the site.

Building on the success of the Canadian Genealogy Centre, management is establishing teams, not as ambitious as the CGC, on specialist topics such as Military and Aboriginal, drawing on expertise from across the organization.

Evidently newspapers is not one of these priorities; its an area where LAC seems almost entirely asleep - see the item below. The only good news on newspaper digitization was on the Canada Gazette where, with the exception of a few issues which have not been found, digitization is expected to be complete and online by around the end of July.

As previously announced by LAC a newsletter is being established, the first issue to appear in June. Also in June expect to see a wiki established. Podcasts are being seriously considered.

Approximately 1,000,000 images have been digitized that are not online owing to a bottleneck in linking them to the site, a problem which is being worked on.

I probed on digitization partnerships. An announcement of opportunity about two years ago identifying a range of resources for which LAC would be interested in pursuing partnerships led to only expanding the existing arrangement with Ancestry.com. LAC has tasked a director general to further explore digitization partnerships, especially with other government departments. I hope they don't overlook the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

A focus of stakeholder consultation has been with the library, and archives/historical communities. Expect to hear more on consultation with a broader spectrum of users in coming months.

Massive New Newspaper Digitization in the UK

The following is from a press release from the British Library and brightsolid at http://blogit.realwire.com/?ReleaseID=18717

The British Library’s Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, will today announce a major new partnership between the Library and online publisher brightsolid, owner of online brands including findmypast.co.uk and Friends Reunited. The ten-year agreement will deliver the most significant mass digitisation of newspapers the UK has ever seen: up to 40 million historic pages from the national newspaper collection will be digitised, making large parts of this unparalleled resource available online for the first time.

Spanning three centuries and including 52,000 local, regional, national and international titles, the British Library holds one of the world’s finest collections of newspapers. Each year the Newspaper Library at Colindale is used by 30,000 researchers in subjects ranging from family history and genealogy to sports statistics, politics and industrial history. This vast resource is held mainly in hard copy and microfilm, necessitating a trip to the north London site for people wishing to use the collection.

Irish 1901 Census
The 1901 Census of Ireland, digitized in a project in cooperation with Library and Archives Canada, will be freely available for viewing from 3 June. See www.census.nationalarchives.ie/about/futureplans.html for more information.

LAC Wrong on Copyright
It seems as if the copyright debate in Canada is eternal. The government proposes new legislation, consultation goes forward, there is debate in Parliament, then Parliament is prorogued and the whole process starts again. Genealogists who followed the census debate, which seemed to go around the same circle, know that continual vigilance is required.

Michael Geist www.michaelgeist.ca/ from the University of Ottawa follows developments closely and is concerned that the government seems ready to reintroduce draconian legislation bowing to pressure from well-funded US interests.

Ottawa lawyer Howard Knopf on his Excess Copyright blog http://excesscopyright.blogspot.com/2010/05/library-and-archives-canada-lac-that.html points out that LAC has become a party to excessive requirements which fail to recognize long established fair dealing in academic publication. I rather suspect that the LAC is just following instructions of its Department of Justice lawyers. Could this be another example of those lawyers implanting a requirement without troubling Parliament to enact legislation?

First World War British Seamen Medal Cards
You can search and download over 155,000 cards recording the award of campaign medals to merchant seamen in the First World War. These cards record the award of the British War Medal and the Mercantile Marine Medal. The cards are from the catalogue references BT 351/1/1 and BT 351/1/2.

The records were used to record the issue of medals to individual seamen. All recipients of Mercantile Marine Medals were automatically entitled to the British War Medal and the index additionally records its issue.

via Scottish Genealogy News and Events http://scottishancestry.blogspot.com/2010/05/merchant-navy-ww1-medal-cards-online.html

FreeBMD Database Update
The FreeBMD Database was updated on Tuesday 18 May 2010. Major additions this update are from 1935-1948 for births, 1934-1949 for marriages, and 1936-1943 for deaths.

New Online Education Opportunity
The following is from a press release from The Society of Genealogists & Pharos Teaching & Tutoring

A new joint programme, the distance learning Certificate of Family History Skills and Strategies (Intermediate) is being offered by The Society of Genealogists, in conjunction with Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd.

Following successful pilot courses last year, the Society and Pharos have teamed up to make available a full course of instruction, with assessment, to any interested genealogist anywhere in the world. First modules in the Skills and Strategies programme will be offered in September 2010. It will be possible to complete all 10 modules in an 18 month period.

The modules are listed here in alphabetical order:
Apprenticeships & Guilds
Employment Records
Lists & Sources from Georgian England
Migration in the British Isles
Military Ancestors
Nonconformity in England and Wales
The Poor, the Parish and the Workhouse
Victorian Crime & Punishment
Wills and Administrations
17th Century Sources

Tutors include the well-known authors and genealogists, Gill Blanchard, Liz Carter, Else Churchill, Simon Fowler, Sherry Irvine, Michael Isherwood and Stuart Raymond. All have made significant contributions to the world of family history and bring a wide array of records knowledge and teaching experience to the online classroom.

The Skills and Strategies course is suitable for genealogists who have had at least two years experience in family history research in England & Wales and have mastered the fundamentals of census, civil registrations and parish registers but who now wish to move on to new records and a greater understanding of research methods and skills. Students choosing to take all ten modules as a full programme with assessments leading to the Intermediate Certificate can sign up now at an introductory price of £450. This represents a saving of £42.90 on the full listed price. Each module is monitored by the Society to ensure excellent standards of content and teaching.

Students may, alternatively, choose not have work assessed and to take any arrangement of individual topics. Courses taken individually without assessment cost less. To find out more or sign up for this great learning opportunity, visit http://www.pharostutors.com/

Information abut the course and a link for bookings can also be found on the Society of Genealogists’ website at http://www.sog.org.uk/

Reflections on the OGS Conference
Comments about last weekend's OGS conference are appearing. Seems folks were too busy enjoying the event to post!

"I really enjoyed the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference. It was great to meet some of my Facebook Friends. I have quickly read all the posts of the last two days but FB doesn't show anything for the previous two days, since I left. It is strange to go four days without any Internet. Now must get back to work tomorrow."

"I agree, ..... , about the terrific conference we just had here in Ontario, and meeting some Facebook friends too. My netbook crapped out on me after Thursday so I was in FB (and emai)l withdrawal for the whole weekend. Not that there was any time to notice!

"It was a wonderful conference. The only one I remember when there wasn't a certain level of low-level whining/moaning about something in the background. (I mean this nicely, as I was often one of the people doing it). Nothing but positive remarks about everything."

Marriage Kills Women
Data from almost two million Danish couples shows that the greater the age difference from her husband, the lower a wife’s life expectancy. The best choice, to break-even, is for a woman to marry a man of exactly the same age; an older husband shortens her life, and a younger one even more so.

Marrying a younger woman increases a man's chances of surviving longer.

The results are detailed in a press release from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany, at www.demogr.mpg.de/en/press/1813.htm

16 May 2010

ACC Omnibus Edition: 16 May 2010

Welcome to the first posting in the revamped Anglo-Celtic Connections. I'm experimenting with an omnibus edition incorporating items I would previously have posted separately . You won't get them quite as quickly, but only have to visit once.

Items in this edition are:

Resource Discovery at LAC
Long Lost Family
NGS Award to Anglo-Celtic Roots
OGS Ottawa Branch Meeting
Family Search Pilot Resources
OGS Conference Tweets

Resource Discovery at LAC

In a previous posting I mentioned that Services have disappeared from the LAC organization chart. I asked for an explanation of the change and have been offered a meeting. More on this soon.

In advance of the meeting I'm informed that the reorganization, announced internally on March 16, 2010, is a realignment to strengthen each of LAC's core functions: acquisitions; collection management and resource discovery.

"Resource discovery covers how Canadians access their documentary heritage. As such, it goes beyond the strict notion of services to Canadians as it also includes how we promote what we have and how we can better serve the greater public and key user communities. On the last point, it also encompasses description that meets the needs of users."

Long Lost Family

ITV in the UK will be airing a six episode series next fall featuring people being reunited with living relatives they have been trying to track down.Each episode will be 60 minutes.

The show is produced by Wall to Wall, the independent production company behind the long running BBC genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?.

Read more at www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/may/13/davina-mccall-nicky-campbell-itv

NGS Award to Anglo-Celtic Roots

As mentioned in a previous posting, Anglo-Celtic Roots, the newsletter of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, edited by Chris MacPhail of Ottawa, was the first place winner for major genealogical society newsletter in the annual competition held by the National Genealogical Society in the United States. Here's a photo of Chris receiving the award from NGS President Jan Alpert. The award was presented at the opening session of the NGS annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 28.

OGS Ottawa Branch Meeting

Library & Archives Canada on Tuesday 18 May at 7.30 p.m. is the venue for a presentation by four volunteers from the Rideau Township Archives. Owen Cooke, Carol Lindsay, Susan McKellar, George Tupper will describe the history of Rideau Township Archives, Branch of City of Ottawa Archives, on genealogical resources and published works in the library, original documents and community outreach programs.

FamilySearch Pilot Resources

Especially if you research ancestors in Norfolk, England, you'll probably be interested in the images of parish records available through FamilySearch. Go to http://pilot.familysearch.org and click on "Search or browse our record collections". Click over Europe on the map and scroll down on the list to United Kingdom. Then click on England, Norfolk Parish Registers and scroll down in the left hand panel to the parish of interest. There are lots of them. I plugged a couple of holes in my Norfolk ancestral information. It's a great resource, no name index but you're looking at images of the originals.

This site hosts an ever growing collection from around the world, well worth browsing, bookmarking and revisiting.

OGS Conference

I was surprised at how little coverage there was of the OGS Conference in Toronto this past weekend . Perhaps there were no announcements to cover, but judging by the published presentation summaries there was no lack of good content. No doubt they'll be more follow-on reporting. Here are the tweets, and one Facebook post I noticed.

- At the OGS conference. If you're going to learn about Ont. land records, Fawne Stratford-Devai is the one to talk to. Woman's amazing!

- Too bad there's no hashtag for the OGS conference. I would have liked to follow along.

- Luxegen is wishing she was at OGS in Toronto this weekend

Brian Gilchrist posted on Facebook "This weekend I am attending the Ontario Genealogical Society conference in Toronto ... over 725 delegates (so far!) and walk-ins tomorrow and Sunday for sure."


Dave Obee: Thanks to everyone involved in the Ontario Genealogical Society conference in Toronto, which was possibly the best-organized conference I have ever attended. And thanks to the special people -- Paul Jones, Rick and Sandra Roberts, John Philip Colletta, Brenda Dougall Merriman, Sharon Murphy, Ed Zapletal, Rick Cree, Stephen Young, Lisa Louise Cooke, Elizabeth Lapointe, and about two dozen more!

13 May 2010

Time for a change

I'd like to thank my friends, on Facebook and elsewhere, for their birthday greetings.

For some months I've been contemplating changes to the blog, and now is as good a time as any, possibly better a time than most, to make them. I've seen monthly page views on the blog climb to over 10,000 in the last two months. Seeing numbers increase has been exhilarating, but there's more to life, and to blogdom, than those numbers.

Expect the focus to stay on family history and related events in Ottawa, and the UK link, but the frequency of posts to decline. The blog will retain its purpose as described on the masthead "An independent view of family history resources and developments with a British-Canadian perspective, from Ottawa, Canada's Capital for more than 150 years."

You're welcome to stay on for the ride and see how things develop?

12 May 2010

A welcome present

Much to my surprise the folks at MyHeritage have listed Anglo-Celtic Connections amongst their top 100 "hidden gem" genealogy sites. I recognize some of those other hidden gems. Take some time to visit a few on the list at http://blog.myheritage.com/myheritage-coms-top-100-genealogy-sites-2010/

11 May 2010

Great Western railway shareholder index now complete

The following is from a press release from FINDMYPAST.CO.UK

Over half a million GWR records available to search
Full colour scanned images of the original pages from the ledgers
Shareholders include Charles Dickens, William Ewart Gladstone and Lewis Carroll

Today findmypast.co.uk, a leading UK family history website, has made available for the first time online the full Great Western Railway Shareholder Index (GWR) along with colour images of the original records.

The index includes over 570,464 records covering the period from 1835 to 1932 recording 440,000 shareholders and related parties, such as executors and spouses. The records indicate when the original shares went through a change of ownership. The availability of the index on findmypast.co.uk has been achieved in partnership with the Society of Genealogists, who previously held the original paper index at their London headquarters. The index dates from when the GWR was created in 1835 and continues through to 1932. The records contain some famous names such as Charles Dickens, William Ewart Gladstone and Lewis Carroll, under his real name, Charles Ludwidge Dodgson.

The Society of Genealogists originally produced its GWR Shareholder Index from ledgers created by the Great Western Railway. The original ledgers were compiled by the company for transactions relating to all shareholdings which changed hands other than by simple sale. In the records the name of the shareholder is given together with an address, the names of the other parties (executors or legatees for death; husbands for marriages), dates of death, probate, marriage or another event. The purpose of these records was to record change of ownership of the shares, the death of the original shareholder being the most likely cause of an event.

The infamous Great Western Railway was built along a network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts linking London to the West Country and Wales. Bristol merchants were desperate for effective transport links to London, to prevent the emergence of Liverpool as the country's second port. In 1833, the famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was appointed chief engineer. He also became a shareholder, appearing in the index following his death from a stroke in 1859.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk, said: “By working with the Society of Genealogists, we have been able to make these extraordinary and unique records available to all for the first time through the findmypast.co.uk website, giving people the opportunity to explore another area of their family history.”

Else Churchill, Genealogist at the Society of Genealogists adds: “The Society of Genealogists is delighted to make these fascinating and unusual records available to the public through findmypast.co.uk. Projects such as this will allow us to continue to preserve these and other rare records for future generations.”

The majority of events within the index are deaths in England and Wales. However, other events also caused shares to go through a change of ownership. They are as follows: Death 94% Marriage 1.4% Power of Attorney 0.8% Change of Name 0.8% Lunatics 0.1% Bankrupts 0.07% Others 2.83%

Most events relate to individuals in England and Wales, but there are also a significant number of Scottish, Irish and overseas records: England & Wales 93.6% Scotland 4% Ireland 1.4% Overseas 1% For more information log on to www.findmypast.co.uk

Are these NARA issues also LAC's?

The April edition of Information Today included an article A New Mission for the Librarian Archivist at NARA, an interview with David Ferriero, the recently appointed 10th Archivist of the U.S.

I was interested to read it as noted Toronto genealogist Brenda Dougall Merriman recently drew my attention to a Dick Eastman item in which he commented on Ferriero:

"He seems very interested in finding new and better ways of serving the agency's users."

"Unlike blogs supposedly written by a lot of other bureaucrats, this one is not full of puffed up press releases. David Ferriero apparently writes these articles himself and they seem to be full of interesting ideas and comments."

Two items in the interview caught my eye:

Q: When you arrived at NARA, what short-term challenges did you find?

A: I found seven main short-term challenges:

Item 6 on the list was: The engagement of our stakeholders in meaningful ways

Q: How are we progressing in digitizing legacy collections, paper, photos, and others?

A: We have partnership agreements with three commercial organizations to help us digitize major portions of our records. The agreements and overall digitization strategy can be found on www.archives.gov/digitization. It is an approach that the agency had taken before I came. They decided that the only way they could accomplish this task is to partner with Ancestry.com and others. I have concerns about these arrangements. The stakeholder community also has concerns. To the best of my knowledge, we have not investigated raising money or asking for money to do the digitization ourselves. This is open territory.

These challenges at NARA also exist at LAC, but are they are being addressed seriously? NARA has the advantage that Ferriero came to his leadership role from outside the organization without a history with decisions that may need rethinking.

Read the Information Today interview, and part 2 linked at the botton of that page which mentions LAC, at www.infotoday.com/IT/apr10/Drake.shtml

10 May 2010

Searching Australian cousins?

Do you have relatives who went to Australia? I do. It seemed to be a part of a family spread your bets strategy as siblings went to the USA as well as stayed in the UK. I've remarked before on the online resources provided by the National Library of Australia, especially digitized newspapers. Now they have a simple gateway to books, journals, magazines, diaries, letters and newspapers. Find it at: http://trove.nla.gov.au

Thanks to Christine Jackson for the tip.

While I'm blogging about Australian resources, Ancestry recently added Queensland, Australia, Passenger Lists, 1848-1912, and updated the Australia and New Zealand, along with most other, Obituary Collections.

09 May 2010

Ottawa City Archives milestone

This was the new Ottawa City Archives building on Friday, 6 May 2010 prior to the official topping off on that day. Friends of the City of Ottawa Archives President John Heney commented on the spacious accommondation which we look forward to enjoying in 2011.

08 May 2010

Top baby names in the US

The US Social Security Administration has released their annual list of the most popular baby names of 2009.

Top 10 for Boys and Girls

1. Jacob
2. Ethan
3. Michael
4. Alexander
5. William
6. Joshua
7. Daniel
8. Jayden
9. Noah
10. Anthony

1. Isabella
2. Emma
3. Olivia
4. Sophia
5. Ava
6. Emily
7. Madison
8. Abigail
9. Chloe
10. Mia

The following tools may be of interest.

1) Lists of Popular Baby Names Back to 1879 (Up to Top 1000 Names)
You can use this database to access a list of up to 1000 names including the 2009 rankings.

2) Popularity of a Name
See how a named has changed in popularity over time.

If you're wondering about John, it was the most popular boys name until 1923, fell out of the top 10 in 1986, and is now 26, down 6 positions in one year.

via Resource Shelf at www.resourceshelf.com/2010/05/08/new-lists-rankings-the-most-popular-baby-names-of-2009-u-s-and-database-of-name-rankings/

1940 map of the UK

Quite a nice zoomable UK map is at http://nls.tileserver.com/

07 May 2010

LAC downplays Services

How well is LAC doing on digitzation? That was one of the questions posed at the House of Commons Committee on Canadian Heritage on May 4 to LAC representatives during a hearing on the committee study of Emerging and Digital Media: Opportunities and Challenges.

LAC was represented by Daniel J. Caron, Librarian and Archivist of Canada and Jean-Stéphen Piché, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Resource Discovery Sector. (The name change to Resource Discovery Sector was apparantly made on 1 April without any announcement. Is there a message in the disappearance of "Services"?)

Here are some Q/As from the hearing roughly transcribed from the English audio stream.

Q. Where are we at with respect to digitization of documents with respect to other countries?

A. That's a question I can't really dare answer. We're quite advanced though with respect to our library. We have made great progress, but its unequal throughout the world. There are many documents that are produced, and there are strategies for that, but there's not a lot of digitization. What is happenning though is there's an emerging strategy. Something is happenning throughout the country, but I'd say overall we're well positioned.

Q. (with respect to digitization) do you have the necessary funding?

A. Yes, today we have very good support. It's going to be done on a collaborative basis with colleagues so with respect to what we are doing now, I would say that the main challenge will be dealing with digitization. Digital conservation, that is something we will have to confront eventually, but we are working with what we have and we will continue to work on that.

Q. What's the situation with respect to 395 Wellington where I know you've had some real disasters with sprinkler systems that have opened up and endangered our heritage: is that settled?

A. Yes we've worked very closely with Public Works but it's going to be looked at more closely and we want to have an extension of our building in Gatineau. It will be a building with high density shelving and storage and where those documents that could have been damaged will be stored more safely.

Q. You mean the building at 395 Wellington cannot be salvaged?

A. It's not really a site for conservation, it's a site for consultation - it's a reference establishment.


It was refreshing to hear the admission that there's not a lot of digitization going on at LAC, just a lot of studies. It appears there won't be any real digitization without funding partners and with LAC unwilling to devote its own resources, Canada will fall further and further behind countries like the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand marching ahead with impressive newspaper digitization programs.

The announcement that LAC is seeking to extend its conservation facility in Gatineau was news to me. People looking for service at 395 Wellington can expect to have to wait even longer for document delivery as more documents are moved from that building to Gatineau.

06 May 2010

Now that the UK election is over!

British law places restrictions on government announcements during a General Election. For the (UK) National Archives this was interpreted as a virtual embargo on any announcement. While presentations held in the building at Kew continued no new podcasts were placed online. We have a backlog of these to look forward to.

The folks from Findmypast warned me to expect delays in release of digitized and indexed Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records too. It's a cooperative program with TNA. It didn't take long to add 97,515 records of men who were pensioned out of the British Army between 1873 and 1882.

Read more about these records at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/media/news/news-item.jsp?doc=CHEPmay.htmle>

Popular surnames in blog reader communities

Surname distribution is always an interesting thing to browse, and PublicProfiler.org at http://www.publicprofiler.org/worldnames has a good presentation.

Dick Eastman discussed facts about his name from the utility, and also mentions Area Search that displays the most common surnames and forenames for any geographic area in its database.

Two thirds of the visitors to this blog are from Ontario so to the left are the top surnames in the province. I was surprised to see the overwhelming predominance of European names. For Ottawa the surnames are a bit more cosmopolitean: ADAMS, NGUYEN, HILL, TESSIER, ABDI, ADAM, O'BRIEN, PHILLIPS, YOUNG, AARON. For Toronto the mix is quite distinct: AARON ,BAXTER, IBRAHIM, IQBAL, OMAR, XIE, DWYER, EPSTEIN, ACOSTA, UDDIN.

The second most common province for visitors to this blog is British Columbia, a long way back of Ontario. The surnames are shown to the left. The Vietnamese name NGYUEN is prominent as in Ottawa. In Courtenay, which I'm looking forward to visiting in September and has more visitors to the blog than anywhere else in BC, the most common surnames are: CASCANETTE, CUNNINGHAM, PAECH, ANNAND, APPS, BRYCE, BRYDEN, BURTT, BUSSE, CASCANETTE. Folks from Vancouver, where I also plan on visiting, won't be surprised that its profile looks more Asian.

via Dick Eastman at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/05/find-the-popularity-of-your-surname-on-publicprofilerorg.html

BIFHSGO May meeting

BIFHSGO Hall of Fame member Patricia Roberts-Pichette is the speaker on Saturday at the Society monthly meeting at Library and Archives Canada. Based on her ongoing research, Patricia will present "Changing Canadian Attitudes to the Settlement of British Home Children, 1869-1928", especially apt as 2010 has been declared the Year of the British Home Child by the Government of Canada.

Find more information on the presentation at www.bifhsgo.ca/events.htm. The meeting starts at 10am. There is no "pre-BIFHSGO" presentation this month.

04 May 2010

Ottawa Public Library extends closure

The Ottawa Library system has been closed since Monday for a computer upgrade. An extension of the closure is announced as below.


The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) will remain closed on Wednesday, May 5 and Thursday, May 6 because of technical challenges beyond our control related to a recent computer system upgrade.

All OPL branches will open on Friday, May 7 as usual.

Q. Why does OPL need to remain closed on May 5 and May 6?

A. We encountered unforeseen challenges while transferring data from the old system to the new system which means that the new system will not be operating until late in the day on May 6. OPL staff cannot check in or check out items for Library users until the new system is operating.

Q. When will the Library reopen?

A. All OPL branches will open on Friday, May 7 as usual.

GRO certificate cost, and price

There's a new issue of Peter Calver's LostCousins Newsletter online. It's full of good information.

The General Register Office responded to Calver's Freedom of Information request with the following summary of the costs relating to their certificate service.

Special paper and printing of the certificate ... 16p
Mailing a certificate ... 23p on average
Staff costs, IT, property costs, depreciation, bank charges, and 'support services' ... £8.86

As the organization is operating in a monopoly situation it, or rather its managers, have no motivation to explore whether reducing the cost of a certificate would increase demand so that they would make more money as Calver suggests.

Other items in trhe newsletter are:

Now We Are Six
GRO reveals costs - at long last
What will the largest surname study reveal?
Party leaders find their past
Researching Scottish Family History
Anyone still using credits?
Recording 1911 Census source information
Google works wonders
Royal Marine medal roll now online
FamilySearch beta site
Why I prefer old-style Ancestry searches
Findmypast heads down under
Peter's Tips
Have you tried…?

Read the newsletter at http://lostcousins.com/newsletters/may10news.htm

03 May 2010

Family Tree DNA launches Family Finder DNA testing

After a gradual rollout to existing customers Family Tree DNA www.familytreedna.com announced on May 3 that their autosomal DNA test, marketed as Family Finder, is openly available. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/family-tree-dna-launches-family-finder-dna-test-using-affymetrix-microarray-technology-2010-05-03?reflink=MW_news_stmp

The test price is $289 US.

The Family Finder test uses "automated GeneTitan Instrument and Axiom Array Plates" technology from Affymetrix, www.affymetrix.com.

According to the press release the test is capable of assessing nearly 570,000 genetic markers, including many that "are relevant to genealogy" and the equipment can process more than 760 samples per week. If they can process orders at that rate their database will grow rapidly. Will they announce and update the size of this database as they do for their other major tests?

Interesting data has been posted by a Canadian who took autosomal tests from both FTDNA and 23andMe http://cerbere.ca/dnamiller/compRFtoFF.htm

He found FTDNA's Family Finder reported 547,956 SNPs on the 22 autosomes, while 23andMe's Relative Finder reported 561,791 SNPs. The data from the two companies merged totalled 911,515 SNPs

Jenkins on Heney

I open the Ottawa Citizen on Mondays in anticipation of Phil Jenkins reflections on the local scene from his arts and heritage perspective. Today half his column is devoted to the new book John Heney & Son: The Canadian Saga of an Ottawa Irish Family.

As someone with an interest in DNA and family history I was particularly taken when Jenkins' wrote "I suspect that somewhere in our memories we carry a summation, a DNA scrapbook, of the biographies of our ancestors and John, as someone in a family usually does, has felt them stir, and in chasing them down has given us a well-etched cameo of Ottawa in words and wonderful photographs, particularly of the early days of Bytown."

Like Jenkins I attended the launch of John Heney's book, John being the great-great grandson for the man for whom the book is titled, and also a BIFHSGO member. I scanned the first chapter of my autographed copy and reserved the rest for summer reading.

Read Jenkins' article at www.ottawacitizen.com/news/From+trees+coal/2979303/story.html

See more on Heney's book at www.gsph.com/index.php?ID=552&Lang=En

Jane's Walk in Ottawa

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the organizers of Jane's walk in Ottawa, and especially those who guided the three walks that I took in on Saturday and Sunday.

Named for Jane Jacobs, "Jane's Walk is about getting close to your city, about getting out and observing, meeting your neighbours, discovering new areas, and learning about the urban landscape, streetscape, buildings, parks, public art and monuments, and the details of daily existence that weave together into the fabric of our urban existence."

The Social Lives of Statues was a walk conducted by University of Ottawa PhD candidate Tonya Davidson. Beginning at the National War Memorial she guided us past a series of monuments on Elgin Street, in Confederation Square Park, and surrounding City Hall. This tour included the Boer War and North-West Rebellion monuments, the National Aboriginal War Veterans’ Memorial, the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, and Enclave: The Women’s Monument. She did an excellent job exploring the contexts within which each monument was created, details of their unveiling, and how they have been engaged throughout their lives including the surprising wandering existence of some of the older statues.

Apartment613 Blog Walk was an exploration of some of Bank Street's businesses. Billed as a series of live "blog posts" by apartment613 editors featuring local business leaders it featured smaller businesses, including some I would never likely have entered otherwise. Although it was interesting the tour was less satisfactory than the other two as more so than other walks it left it to the participants to draw together experiences from the individual business visits.

Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cemetery: sacred space, social space and a lieu de mémoire (place of memory) by Jean Yves Pelletier was a tour of the older sections of the National Capital Region’s largest Roman Catholic cemetery which has close to 124,000 people buried there and some 35,000 monuments. Pelletier is author of a 2009 book on the cemetery’s history which includes short biographies of many well-known people buried there. In many ways this was the most successful of the three tours, largely because of Pelletier's in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm for his topic. I was surprised that there is no Friends organization for the Cemetery, and as a consequence a lack of historical interpretation, and perhaps greater vulnerability of the monuments than at the adjacent Beechwood Cemetery.

An overall impression, and an encouraging one, was the relative youth of both the guides and many of the participants.

02 May 2010

New from MAPCO

I've blogged before about the interesting products of MAPCO. David Hale recently added an improved version of Smith's New Map Of London c1828.


Ottawa's first military casualties

Today, 2 May 2010, marks the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Cut Knife Hill during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. Amongst the casualities were John Rogers and William Osgood of the Ottawa Company of Sharpshooters. They are memorialized by the Sharpshooter statue which now stands near Ottawa City Hall and the Cartier Square Drill Hall.

A new website giving a graphic impression of the Rebellion history from a Metis perspective is at www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansk/Metis/index.html

01 May 2010

Norfolk Resources

The Rootsweb Norfolk list has recent posts identifying the following Norfolk resources:

Found at the Internet Archive:

Bircham Newton, 1562-1743 http://www.archive.org/stream/parishregisterb00howlgoog#page/n1/mode/1up

Bradenham West and East, Necton, and Home Hale http://www.archive.org/stream/historytopograph00cartrich#page/n4/mode/1up

Cromer and Shipden http://www.archive.org/stream/cromerpastpresen00ryew#page/n5/mode/1up

Great Yarmouth, St Nicholas, List of Individuals Buried in the Church http://www.archive.org/stream/sepulchralremini00turn#page/n24/mode/1up

Marsham, 1538-1836 http://www.archive.org/stream/parishregisterm00pargoog and

Norwich, St George of Tombland, 1538-1707 http://www.archive.org/stream/firstparishregis00norw#page/n7/mode/2up

Norfolk Parish Registers, Volume 4, Marriages - Barton Turf 1558-1812;
Hedenham 1559-1812; Weeting St Mary's 1558-1749; Weeting All Saints
1561-1653; Weeting All Saints & St Mary's 1653-1656; Weeting All Saints
1659-1748; Weeting All Saints & St Mary's 1749-1812; Carleton Rode 1560-1812; Burham Sutton with Ulph 1653-1837; Hickling 1657-1812; Bedingham 1561-1812; Gresham 1690-1812 http://www.archive.org/stream/norfolkparishreg04phil#page/n13/mode/1up

History of the Parish of Starston http://www.archive.org/stream/someaccountofpar00hopp#page/n7/mode/2up

History of the Parish of Thompson http://www.archive.org/stream/somematerialsfor00crab#page/n7/mode/1up


The Ketts of Norfolk, A Yeoman Family http://www.archive.org/stream/kettsofnorfolkye00kett#page/n5/mode/2up

Records of the Norfolk Yeomanry Cavalry 1780-1908 plus 43rd and 44th South
Africa War 1900 http://www.archive.org/stream/recordsnorfolky00harvgoog#page/n21/mode/1up

White's Gazetteer of Norfolk (1836?) http://www.archive.org/stream/historygazettee02whitgoog#page/n7/mode/1up

The Nelsons of Burnham Thorpe, A Record of a Norfolk Family (published
1911) http://www.archive.org/stream/nelsonsburnhamt00matcgoog#page/n11/mode/1up

Pedigree of the Upwood Family of Lovell's Hall, Terrington St Clement's,
Norfolk http://www.archive.org/stream/pedigreeoffamily00mann#page/n5/mode/2up

Norfolk Directory 1851-1852 with Portsmouth http://www.archive.org/stream/norfolkdirector00forrgoog#page/n6/mode/1up

Life of Dr William Gunton, born at Aylsham, Norfolk, on 29th October 1791 http://www.archive.org/stream/sketchoflifeofdr00sunde#page/n5/mode/2up

Tuthill Family of Tharston, Norfolk http://www.archive.org/stream/tuthillfamilyoft00aker#page/n5/mode/2up

The Official Papers of Sir Nataniel Bacon, of Stiffkey Norfolk, Justice of
the Peace 1580-1620 http://www.archive.org/stream/officialpapersof00bacorich#page/n7/mode/2up

The church bells of Norfolk - where, when and by whom they were made http://www.archive.org/stream/churchbellsofnor00lest#page/n3/mode/2up


A transcription of the Norwich Census of the Poor, 1570, at www.welbank.net/norwich/1570/ containing details of their families, residence and employment of more than 800 poorer residents of the city. Unfortunately there is no citation of the source, except mention of "the Public Record Society." That may be the Norfolk Record Society http://norfolkrecordsociety.org.uk/ which advertises a 1971 publication by the same name, and also other other publication worth reviewing if you have deep Norfolk roots.