30 September 2010

LAC Joins WorldCat

Quietly, with no announcement, library catalog data on more than 1,300,000 publications at Library and Archives Canada have been made available through WorldCat.

WorldCat, the world's largest network of library content and services, lets you search the collections of thousands of libraries around the world. By specifying your location you can identify the nearest source for an item of interest - you don't have to guess which organization might have it, then find and search its catalog individually.

You can access WorldCat through a conventional web browser, mobile browser or an iPhone app.

Interestingly, the recent interim report on LAC's "Exposing Union Catalogue Metadata Via Third Parties" pathfinder project, posted on September 10, makes absolutely no reference to this initiative; LAC again leaves clients in the dark.

29 September 2010

Cousin Confusion

Dick Eastman disturbed a hornet's nest with a blog posting "There is no such thing as a half-cousin"

One of my pet peeves is a term that I see online over and over: someone claiming to be a "half first cousin" or a "half second cousin once removed" or something similar. Sorry folks, but there is no such thing as a "half first cousin."
He is careful to restrict his argument to US usage only, citing Black's Law Dictionary which defines first cousins as: "The children of one's aunt or uncle." 

Dick goes on to point out that "it says "aunt OR uncle," not both. All that is required is to share one aunt or one uncle, not both."

With this definition you could be first cousin to someone with whom you have no bloodline relationship. Your mother's sister marries a man who becomes your uncle. She dies and he remarries and has children. They are your first cousins!

Dick's article has drawn more than 50 comments.

One references an article by Elizabeth Shown Mills which analyzes kinship and includes a glossary of terms where one finds: "Half Relationships: Those that stem from a half-sibling kinship. For every lateral or collateral relationship a "half" equivalent exists. For example:
Half-aunt/uncle: The half-sibling of one's parent.
Half-first cousin: The child of a half-aunt or half-uncle."

Another references the Oxford English Dictionary: "Half-cousin is defined as "The child of one's father's or mother's cousin; a second cousin. Sometimes applied to the child of one's own cousin, or to the cousin of one's father or mother."

This definition implies a half-cousin is the same as a second-cousin.

Respected genetic genealogist Ann Turner comments that "The distinction between full and half cousin is certainly meaningful in the genetic context. Now that autosomal DNA testing is available, it's useful to know that full first cousins share 12.5% of their DNA, while half first cousins share 6.25%."

Obviously there's confusion. Best to check on the convention being used if unsure.

Like many commenters I'll continue to use half-first cousin for a relative who shares one grandparent.

TNA Podcast: The Kitchen Front: domestic life in the Second World War

Sarah Hutton reveals "how documents held by The National Archives can reveal a fascinating picture of the domestic lives of ordinary people living through the Second World War." She highlights resources in series: ED - evacuation; MH - emergency medical services; HLG - civil defence; HO - bomb censuses; INF - propaganda; BT - transportation of food and rationing

Listen here

28 September 2010

CVFHRG Event - 25 September

British Columbia genealogists from Campbell River, Powell River, Port Alberni and Nanaimo and places in-between, and even one from Maple Ridge, converged on a wet and windy Courtenay last Saturday for an all-day seminar.

Activity got underway on Friday evening with an informal dinner at the White Spot restaurant where about half the 93 people who attended on Saturday listened to a friendly debate between myself and Lesley Anderson, an Ancestry employee, on whether given an extra $200 to spend on family history you should use it to buy an Ancestry subscription or a DNA test.  

Lesley gave presentations on "Census records online – A goldmine of information ",  "Directories – What are they and how to use them" and "Searching Effectively on Ancestry." I presented "Early 20th Century British Immigrants to Canada", "Your Family History in Newspapers Online" and "Some lesser-known websites for British family history."

There was a hiccup in the proceedings when the power went out. As one person commented, the presentations were so exciting we blew the power. It was restored in time for shortened versions of the final two presentations to be given.

Kudos to the CVFHRG organizers Norma O'Toole and Bob Scales for the fine organization and arranging the extra goodies participants took away, including some great prizes. 

Here is the personal selection of lesser-known websites for British genealogy which I did not get a chance to present but were given as a handout. Newspaper sites are not included.

Calendar for any year, date of Easter, moon phase
UK religious holidays, Regnal years, old/new style dates
Institute for (Place) Name Studies
Weather in history, summaries
British Meteorological Office, monthly wx station data
PublicProfiler, surname distribution
Population reports for UK and Ireland from 1801- 1937
Historical Hospital Admission Records Project (formerly Small and Special)
Sources for some Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Somerset, Sussex,  Warwickshire parishes. 
East End London, Thames Watermen & Lightermen ($)
Dictionary of Victorian London
Resouces for the Medway area of Kent
British History Online
Huge collection od digitized documents ($)
The National Library of Wales
International collection
A growing collection of cemetery burial records ($)
Free digitized city directories
Black Sheep and others indexed ($)
What’s that medal?
The Coalmining History Resource Centre
C of E Children’s Society online archive
Information on workhouses across Britain
Summaries of more than 100,000 trials
Victorian Crime and Punishment
Leigh Rayment’s Peerage Page
Guild of One Name Studies
Society of Genealogists
Misc database links


27 September 2010

"The Women in Our Past" Workshop Early Bird Deadline

A last minute reminder about the 30 September deadline for early bird registration for OGS Toronto Branch's Workshop - The Women in Our Past: Strategies and Resources for Researching Female Ancestors.

The workshop itself is on November 6th at the North York Central Library.

Further information at http://www.torontofamilyhistory.org/women.html .

26 September 2010

Another Change at OGS

The following is an announcement from the Ontario Genealogical Society.

The Board of the Ontario Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah Newitt as Assistant Executive Director. She will become Executive Director next April, on the retirement of the current Executive Director, Dr Fraser Dunford.

Sarah, age 28, has been the Society’s librarian for the past year. She holds a BA in German from Queen’s and a MLIS from McGill. She has worked in a number of libraries in Ontario and in Montreal. She has had a life-long association with Girl Guides. A native of Mount Albert, Ontario, she has lived in Japan, India, and Germany.

She inherited family history projects from her Father’s Father and her Mother’s Mother (a project that requires fluency in German). One of her ambitions is to prove a suspected UEL link.

25 September 2010

Ancestry Updates London Records

Ancestry have placed online additional  records from the London Metropolitan Archives.

London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921
London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906
London, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980

If you missed your ancestors in the previous release they may be in this update.

Death of John Becker

Genealogists in Ontario will be saddened to learn news of the death of John Becker, former editor of the OGS journal, Families.

Details of his obituary are at: <http://genealogycanada.blogspot.com/2010/09/passing-of-john-becker-editor-ogs.html>.

Reflection on BC Women Politicians

In the talks I've given on Early 20th Century British Immigrants to Canada while in BC I've used Nancy Hodges as one of the case studies. She was a journalist, BC politician, first woman appointed Speaker of a legislature in the British Commonwealth, and fifth woman appointed to the Canadian Senate.

I took advantage of being in Victoria to find out more about her. That included visiting the legislature building where I was allowed to see a photo of her in an area not normally open to the public. The photo hung on a wall opposite a window. A major reflection meant a photo full on was impossible so I moved to one side. There was still a reflection; it rather adds to the picture.

M Diane Rogers let me know that the honour of first chairing the BC legislature fell to Mary Ellen Smith (nee Spear), another British immigrant, who was Acting Speaker on one occasion in February 1928.

Ross Bay Cemetery

Victoria's 28 acre Ross Bay Cemetery is a pleasant 30 min. walk from downtown. It contains graves of many of Victoria's earliest and most notable residents, including early premieres of the Province.

The only grave I saw with any popular tributes was that of Emily Carr, well-known Canadian artist, shown in the photograph.

The cemetery contains the grave of one father of Canadian Confederation, the Hon. John Hamilton Gray, originally from New Brunswick. There's an Ottawa connection there as he was related to one of the soldiers in the Ottawa Company of Sharpshooters who served during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion.

My visit was made more pleasant by a brochure produced by The Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria highlighting some of the more historically interesting people buried at Ross Bay.

There's a database of the burials at Ross Bay at http://web.victoria.ca/archives/rosssearch.asp

24 September 2010

More Unindexed London Poor Law Records Online

Ancestry announces they have added to their browse file for London Poor Law records, a file they call "London, England, Poor Law Records, 1834-1940".  The records are held at the London Metropolitan Archives.

Records were previously available for the boroughs of: Camden, Greenwich, Harringay, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, and Westminster

Boroughs added are:  Barnet, Chelsea, City of London, Enfield, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulhan, Hillingdon, Holborn, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, Poplar, and Southwark are added.

Note that Harringay no longer appears. I suspect they are found under Enfield which has mainly Creed Registers surviving.

LAC releases Upper Canada Land Petitions online

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has  announced the launch of a new online database, “Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763–-1865).”

This database provides access to index information on more than 77,000 references to individuals who lived in present-day Ontario between 1783 and 1865.

The actual petitions are not online.

Upper Canada Land Petitions for grants or leases of land and other administrative records often contain an applicant's story detailing services, losses and sufferings during the American Revolutionary War or the War of 1812. They may also contain discharge certificates, letters of introduction from prominent individuals in Britain, reports by the Surveyor General or the Attorney General on technical and legal matters, and some lists of settlers by region.

The database is available at: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/upper-canada-land/index-e.html

BIFHSGO September Meeting

The presentation this Saturday, 25 September, 2010 is "Shearman Godfrey Bird and Amoui Chun Bird: from Colonial Canton to Pioneer Ontario"

The speaker is Naomi Ridout. For additional details on the speaker, and information on the presentation, check out the background here.

As usual, the presentation will be in the auditorium of Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, starting at 10 AM.

23 September 2010

CVFHRG Presentations on September 25

A last reminder that I share a full day of presentations to the Comox Valley Family History Research Group with my Ottawa friend and colleague Lesley Anderson on Saturday September 25.

See the website at http://cvfamilyhistory.org/Seminar2010.htm and the brochure linked from it for more information.

Ancestry to acquire Footnote

A press release from Ancestry.com

PROVO, Utah, Sep 23, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Ancestry.com Inc. announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iArchives, Inc. and its branded Web site, Footnote.com, a leading American History Web site, for approximately $27 million in a mix of Ancestry.com stock, cash and assumption of liabilities. This acquisition will provide the company with a complementary consumer brand, expanded content offerings, and enhanced digitization and image-viewing technologies.
iArchives digitizes and delivers high-quality images of American historical records of individuals involved in the Revolutionary War, Continental Congress, Civil War, and other U.S. historical events to Footnote.com subscribers interested in early American roots. iArchives has digitized more than 65 million original source documents to date through its proprietary digitization process for paper, microfilm and microfiche collections.
"Footnote.com is highly complementary to Ancestry.com's online family history offering," said Tim Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. "By promoting Footnote to our Ancestry audience, we hope to expand its reach among researchers who care about early American records. iArchives also brings outstanding image-viewing technology and content digitization capabilities that will improve our leadership position in bringing valuable historical records to the market. We welcome the iArchives team to the Ancestry.com family."
Upon completion of the transaction, iArchives will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ancestry.com. As part of the transaction, Ancestry.com currently expects to issue approximately 1.0 million shares of common stock. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions and is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Comment:  In these economic times this type of acquisition is hardly surprising. Watch out for World Vital Records! 

2010 Ottawa United Way Campaign

A few years ago it was my privilege to be part of a City advisory group recommending distribution of social funding to Ottawa-based organizations. One of the participants was from the United Way. I recall being impressed with her knowledge of local social organizations and contributions to the discussions when it came to ensuring that allocation of resources took into account funding from other sources.

Today is the launch of the 2010 United Way campaign in Ottawa. Please do you part to make it a success at  http://www.unitedwayottawa.ca/, or help the campaign in your community.

Here's an overview of Ottawa's, and our issues.

22 September 2010

HSO: September Presentation

The next meeting of the Historical Society of Ottawa features a presentation by Ron Elmer "Salvaging Memories from Oblivion". The meeting, on Friday, September 24, starts at 1pm at the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Gigues Ave in Ottawa.

21 September 2010

Ancestry adds Chalmers' General Biographical Dictionary

According to the Ancestry information blurb:

"This database includes all 32 volumes of Alexander Chalmers’s General Biographical Dictionary, which, according to its subtitle, contains “an Historical and Critical Account of the Lives and Writings of the Most Eminent Persons in Every Nation; Particularly the British and the Irish. From the Earliest Accounts to the Present Time.” Entries are alphabetical by name. Ancestry World Archives Project volunteers have indexed all 32 volumes by name, birth dates, and death dates to improve database usability."
The original was published about 200 years ago so don't look for anyone more recent.

If you don't have access to Ancestry digitized editions are available free on Google Books and the Internet Archive.

Understanding Genetic Genealogy

DNA testing company have a primer on Ancestry at 23andMe: What Can You Learn? which may be helpful if genetic genealogy still puzzles you. Posted so far is just the first part.

Roots 2011

Mark your calendar. I just got notice, with an invitation to speak, from Quebec Family History Society President Gary Schroder that their Roots 2011 conference will be "taking place on Friday, Saturday, Sunday June 3,4,5, 2011 at the fully air conditioned Samuel Bronfman Building of McGill University." The reference to fully air conditioned brings back memories for those of us who were in a steamy Montreal at their last conference.

20 September 2010

Using Archives to Add Rich Historical Content

This month's OGS Ottawa Branch presentation is by John J. Heney, President, Friends of Ottawa City Archives, and author of John Heney & Sons, The Canadian Saga of an Ottawa Irish Family.

I've been reading John's book over the summer and have been impressed by the number of resources he has been able to draw on. His ancestors certainly got around, from Gaspe to the Yukon, and had an important hand in Ottawa's development.

The meeting, jointly with Sir Guy Carleton United Empire Loyalists’ Association, is on Tuesday 21 September, 2010, 7:30 p.m. in room 156 at Library and Archives Canada

19 September 2010

Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada: A Researcher's Guide

Ontario genealogist Janice Nickerson has just published a book Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada: A Researcher's Guide.

According to her Facebook posting ``It's about the justice system in early Ontario (1791-1841) and provides a social history of how the justice system worked at the time, including all the personnel involved and the courts, jails, etc. It also includes inventory listings of records you can use to research your own ancestors' involvement with the justice system - whether as a victim, witness, accused criminal, juryman, justice of the peace... etc.

There`s more information, and the opportunity to order, at the publisher`s (Dundurn Press) website.

BC Genealogy News

I enjoyed Saturday with an enthusiastic and knowledgable group of family historians at an event organized by the British Columbia Genealogical Society. Obviously Society President M Diane Rogers wasn't as tired as I was afterwards and had time to make a long post mentioning the event and summarizing some news and issues from the local scene - and beyond. Worth a read at http://canadagenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/09/british-columbia-historical-vital.html

I`m told they`ve had to move the CVFHRG seminar, where I`ll be sharing the pleasure of making presentations with Lesley Anderson next Saturday, to a larger venue.

2010 Shannon Lectures

Each year Carleton University, Department of History, organizes a lecture series on Canadian Social History. It's open to all.

In 2010 the theme is "Storytelling, Storytellers and the Social Effects of Stories."

The first lecture in this year's series is on September 24 with Julie Cruikshank speaking on “The Afterlives of Stories.”

There's some homework suggested as a preparation for the series. Find it, together with full information about the lectures in the series which run through to a special evening session on November 26, at: http://www2.carleton.ca/shannonlectureseries/schedule/

18 September 2010

City of Benares Disaster Anniversary

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the torpedoing of the SS City of Benares carrying 90 children being evacuated to Canada under a program operated by the Children's Overseas Reception Board. Thirteen children survived, six having spent seven days in a life boat before they were rescued.

In total 1,532 children arrived in Canada under the CORB program. More than twice as many children of well-off or well-connected families had already come to Canada through private arrangements.

17 September 2010

FreeBMD Appoints Executive Director

The following press release was received via The Federation of Family History Societies..

FreeBMD is delighted to appoint Dr Nick Barratt as its new Executive Director, with a remit to drive the project forward and examine new ways of making an even greater contribution to the world of family history.
On his appointment, Dr Barratt said: 'This is a fantastic opportunity; I'm a long-standing admirer and user of the datasets and transcriptions that FreeBMD have been producing over the last ten years, and I look forward to making a contribution to the continued success of the project.'
Trustees Camilla von Massenbach and Ben Laurie commented: 'Due to the enormous efforts of thousands of transcribers, the FreeBMD database now contains about two hundred million unique BMD index entries and FreeREG and FreeCEN are significant online resources, all freely accessible on the Internet. The trustees wish now to build on this base and welcome Dr Barratt and his extensive expertise to join the team.’

Genealogy Podcasts at 40,000 ft

I took advantage of the flight out to BC on Thursady to catch up on some genealogy podcasts downloaded to my iPhone. I've got out of the habit of listening to podcasts lately.

First up were two episodes from The Genealogy Guys, George Morgan and Drew Smith. One was recorded at the most recent FGS conference, mostly consisting of a Q&A session with a heavy emphasis on problems involving the mid-Atlantic states. As I don't have any research interest there, or in the US in general, it was rather a loss for me. The other episode included some technology tips with recommended websites including dropbox.com, evernote.com and treeseek.com.

Treeseek is one I didn't know. I confess the statement on the main page "We do all the work for you, by obtaining your genealogical information from FamilySearch" didn't encourage me to look further.

I then listened to a few episodes of the Genealogy Gems Podcast from Lisa Louise Cooke. It so happened she had been a speaker at the most recent OGS conference in Toronto and had taken advantage of being there to interview a number of Canadians. I particularly enjoyed the interview with Janice Nickerson speaking on her experience as lead researcher for the Canadian version of Who Do You Think You Are. There was another good interview with Dave Obee who gave a once over lightly introduction to Canadian history needed to understand the context for Canadian genealogy.

The was also a two-part interview on forensic linguistics, an unlikely but intriguing topic. The idea is that we have characteristics of our communication, written and spoken, which we pick up from our family and as we go through life from usage in the places we live. Usage of the phrase "devil's strip" in Akron, Ohio, was an example given. Analysis of our, and our ancestors communications (letters and recordings) can give clues about background.

The only disappointing episode was a video from the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree last June when the sound quality was so poor I found it impossible to listen to.

I also listened to the most recent TNA podcast "Sailors, storms and science" which discussed the use of ships logs in climate change research. It appears that there are often weather observations, recorded as often as hourly, in ships logs. That's in addition to anything else that impacts on the operation of the ship. Obviously if your ancestor was on board one of these you have a very rich resource for understanding their experience while aboard. The collection for Royal Navy ships, 120,000 logbooks, is held at TNA.

Overall I found the podcasts a good way to pass the time during the long flight from Ottawa to Vancouver. I'll continue to listen to TNAs podcasts, even though they heve less emphasis on family history these days, and probably pay more attention to the Genealogy Gems Podcasts in the future.

New Ottawa City Archives Update

There was plenty of activity onsite at Tallwoods and Woodroffe on September 15th. This photo taken from the south shows the various layers of the walls on the archives wing.

This close up of the work at the east end of the archives wing, nearest Woodroofe Ave, shows bricks piled and a few layers in place forming the exterior cladding.

I was surprised there were still no windows installed, but there's hope. These Quebec-registered Prelco trucks were being unloaded. Prelco has supplied glass for many prestige projects, as indicated at the company website here.

The Vital Link: Prescott, the River, and the War of 1812

Victor Suthren, writer, seaman, historian specializing in North American colonial history of the 18th Century and past Director of the Canadian War Museum is speaking in the Prescott Bicentennial Lecture Series this coming Sunday, September 19th, on the subject of "The Vital Link: Prescott, the River, and the War of 1812."

The event starts at 2:00 PM at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Prescott, ON. Admission $10.


16 September 2010

My BCGS Seminar

A last reminder about my all day seminar on Saturday organized by the British Columbia Genealogical Society.

For further information go to www.bcgs.ca or see my blog posting at http://anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com/2010/08/presentations-at-bcgs-on-september-18.html

This seminar will be at the Scandinavian Community Centre, 6540 Thomas St., Burnaby, BC.

Friends of LAC Book Sale

Another milestone event in the Ottawa is the annual Friends of Library and Archives Canada Used Book Sale. A small group of volunteers work year-round collecting and sorting donated books. Along the way they find many books of special interest, some special enough to add to the LAC collection, some that are diverted to special causes.  This year the venue is again the St Laurent Shopping Centre, and the dates 17, 18 and 19 September. The best books go early so is it's best to be there for the opening at 9:30am on Friday.

Ancestry adds UK Prisoner Records

Two new databases are now online from Ancestry.  

UK, Licences of Parole for Female Convicts, 1853-1871, 1883-1887
Contains documentation surrounding the licences to be at large given to some 4,400 female prisoners. The records can be searched by:

  • Year of the licence
  • Name
  • Estimated birth year
  • Court and year of conviction
The database includes images of the records themselves, which make up a file on the convict. Their contents varies but can include next of kin, religion, literacy, physical description, a medical history, marital status, number of children, age, occupation, crime, sentence, dates and places of confinement, reports on behavior while in prison, letters or notes from the convict, and (from 1871 forward) a photograph.

UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849
This collection consists of registers and letter books of prisoners on convict prison hulks in England between 1802-1849. A hulk is a decommissioned ship. The collection contains a letter book relating to the establishment of hulks written from 1847-1849 and the registers of prisoners on 19 different hulks between 1802-1849. The registers contain:
  • Name
  • Date received
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Date convicted
  • Where convicted
There a brief post on these records at The (UK) National Archives website here.

    15 September 2010

    Preserve Your Family History

    Most of us are concerned about preserving the family history we've built up so the article posted by Dick Eastman at http://bit.ly/cUIPGW caught my eye.  The new, free service at www.backupmytree.com, looks like its worth trying.

    The fact that it's free means you may have a nagging doubt that the business model will prove sustainable. While I wish it success I suggest you be prudent, don't rely on it for more than short-term backup; it could disappear. 

    It's pretty easy these days to copy your family history files to USB detachable storage. The watchword for preservation is diversity - spread many copies around - distribute copies to family and friends for safe keeping, and put one in your safety deposit box if you have one.   

    No doubt USB storage will go the way of the eight-track tape some day so an even better strategy for preservation is publication. If you can get family history stories in a magazine, even your local family history society magazine, many copies will be distributed and the chances of it being preserved are increased, especially if copies go to trusted repositories like the Family History Library, Society of Genealogists, Allen County Public Library and your local public library.

    Canada, Selected Service Records

    Ancestry.ca in cooperation with Library and Archives Canada have placed free online 200 selective service records samples, part of the “Lest We Forget” educational effort which allows students to discover the stories of Canada’s fallen through primary documents.

    Files for First World War veterans include approximately 20 pages of documents for each soldier that can deal with enlistment, training, wounds and medical issues, and correspondence, both military and personal. It gives a good idea of what's available in hardcopy, much more than the online attestation paper. 

    Files for the war dead of 1939-1945 are typically much more complete containing:

    • Enlistment records
    • Medical and dental charts
    • Evaluation reports
    • Medal and promotion entitlements
    • Letters (personal, military, and recommendations)
    • Wills
    • Inventory of personal effects
    These documents can include a wide range of details:
    • Birth information
    • Physical descriptions
    • Occupation and employment
    • Education
    • Names of parents, siblings, spouse, and children
    • Addresses for family
    • Military units, squadrons, or names of ships served aboard
    • Cause of death, burial details, and estate records
    • Grave locations
    • Requests regarding survivor’s benefits

    14 September 2010

    OGS Toronto Branch Courses

    As the most active, and likely the OGS Branch with most members, it's not too surprising that Toronto Branch offers an extensive program of courses and lectures in addition to regular monthly meetings. All can be seen at the branch website at www.torontofamilyhistory.org. Here are the upcoming courses this fall.

    Basic Genealogy and Family History
    Designed for those just beginning to research or looking to upgrade basic research skills, this course will cover terminology, types of sources, the use of on-line resources, libraries and archives, and record keeping - to help you "think like a genealogist".
    8 sessions (Tuesdays), 28 September - 23 November - Instructor: Jane MacNamara

    Researching British Forces in Canada Before 1871
    This new course, designed for family historians, introduces techniques and resources for researching British forces in what is now Canada, up to 1871.
    2 sessions (Saturdays), 25 September - 2 October - Instructor: James F.S. Thomson

    Researching Canadian Military Records Using Online and Traditional Resources
    Discover which Canadian military records are available for different time frames and for different military conflicts, where they are and how to access them, with tips for interpreting Canadian military documents.
    1 session (Saturday), 9 October - Instructor: Rick Roberts

    Beyond the Basics
    Have you lost momentum in your genealogical research? Struck a "brick wall"? This discussion-oriented course will offer you an opportunity to examine your research assumptions, rethink your analysis and generate new research goals and tasks.
    4 sessions (Wednesdays), 20 October - 10 November- Instructor: Ruth Burkholder

    Publish Before You Perish
    This course will outline the steps required to publish your family history in a printed book format - from organizing material to designing a layout to choosing a publisher and marketing your book.
    2 sessions (Saturdays),13 November - 20 November - Instructor: Nancy Conn

    If you're not in the Toronto area, but you're drooling over these offerrings, why not let your society executive know its the kind of program you'd like to see available in your area. They may not be able to do it the same way Toronto does. Maybe they can do better! You do need to ask though.

    September FreeBMD Update

    The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday 10 September 2010 and currently contains 190,255,893 distinct records (242,443,660 total records). The new records this update are mainly between the years 1938 and 1951.

    The FreeBMD project continues to advance. Ancestry.co.uk already offers a full BMD index.  FindMyPast.co.uk gets ready later this month to add a full marriage index to the full birth index already available. Meanwhile the costly official Identity and Passport Service initiative is once again foundering on the rocks of bureaucracy. See the announcement at www.ips.gov.uk/cps/rde/xchg/ips_live/hs.xsl/1090.htm

    13 September 2010

    New Content on The Regimental Rogue

    I did a posting recently about The Regimental Rogue. Michael O'Leary sent a note that he has now added seven more parts to the section on Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War.

    These are nice additions to the information available online.

    I advise you not read the section on the wounded and sick before meals.

      12 September 2010

      The Belfast Newsletter

      One of the resources mentioned by Dr. William Roulston, Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation, during two of three of his talks I caught at the BIFHSGO conference just ended, was the Belfast Newsletter. It started publishing in 1773 and is still a going concern.

      According to information from the Belfast newsletter index website at www.ucs.louisiana.edu/bnl/

      "it was published thrice-weekly during the 18th century, in issues of four pages each. During its time, the Newsletter was seldom equalled in the breadth and quality of its coverage of local and international events.

      Every significant word and date in the 20,000 surviving pages of the newspaper was indexed, but not all of the newspapers are still available. In fact, only about one-quarter of the newspapers for the years from 1737 to 1750 have survived, although the run of newspapers is nearly complete from 1750 through 1800 (Click here for a list of surviving newspapers). The final database of information contains nearly 300,000 items of news and advertisements."
       While the results you will get are an index, an electronic version of the newsletter may be available at a university library local to you. The University of Ottawa Library has a subscription.

      BIFHSGO Conference - Day 2

      I got to hear only one full presentation, plus my own, at the BIFHSGO conference on Saturday. William Roulston, Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation, gave an Introduction to Irish Genealogy. He tried to dispel the idea that researching Irish ancestors is pointless owing to the destruction of records in 1922, used County Down to illustrate the land divisions used in various records, and pointed to some of the records that survive and the sources, including Griffith's Valuation at www.askaboutireland.ie

      Bruce Elliott spoke on The Religious Press as a Data Source on Immigrants and Immigration. He spoke largely of the Methodist press which carried a large number of death notices, obituaries and memorials which evolved in traditional format, length and religiousity through the 19th century. As Methodism gradually became a dominant denomination in Ontario statistics derived from these notices become increasingly representative of the community at large.

      My afternoon presentation Your Family History in Newspapers Online filled the room and exhaused the supply of handouts. It's the same presentation, with slight modifications, I'll be giving for BCGS next Saturday and CVFHRG the following Saturday.

      After my presentation I heard Nuala Farrell-Griffin speak on Irish Research and the Internet. She covered many sites but spoke with particular enthusiasm about the Leitrim-Roscomon Genealogy web site at www.leitrim-roscommon.com/index.shtml

      The organizers ran out of conference program booklets, a mark of the large number of people who have registered for the event.

      Canadian Health Obituaries Index

      Known by some as the "Dead Doctor's Database" look to this collection from McGill University for obituaries or death notices of Canadian medical personal that appeared in various medical journals between 1844 and 2000. http://osler.library.mcgill.ca/cfstand/

      Thanks to Ken McLeod for mentioning this during the BIFHSGO conference.

      11 September 2010

      Internet Extra

      The Firefox browser is gaining in market share. I've just checked the statistics and find that Firefox 3.6 is now the most popular browser for people visiting this blog - 28%. Perennial winner Internet Explorer takes the next two places with the versions 8.0 (24% ), 7.0 (21%). The others trail, below 10%.

      There's an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude towards browsers. Most people stick with what they know, which is usually the Microsoft Internet Explorer product. There's a learning curve to switching browsers that most people want to avoid. But if you should become dissatisfied with your browser, as a satisfied Firefox user for many years I certainly recommend it.

      Ever innovative Google will soon release a new interface showing results as you type a query. You can try it before it's officially released at: http://www.google.com/webhp?sclient=psy. I tried it by searching for Anglo-Celtic connections and got as far as Anglo-Ce before the blog appeared on the screen as an option. If the result you're looking for is the first on the list just press the right arrow key to go directly to it.

      BIFHSGO - Day 1

      I arrived at Library and Archives Canada at around 6pm to find the marketplace buzzing, with some people already having benefited from a pre-conference seminar and/or tour of the facility at 395 Wellington.

      Glenn Wright seemed pleased to have his new book Canadians at War 1914-1919 in hand. Publisher Rick Roberts looks almost as pleased as he holds the soft cover version. Glenn has the hardcover edition which is usually of most interest to libraries.  

      The evening presentation was preceeded by a reception giving people an opportunity to meet and greet with speakers and other attendees.

      The auditorium had a good crowd well before the meeting was called to order. As BIFHSGO President Glenn Wright opened the meeting, introduced J-S Piche to bring greeting from LAC. He mentioned that 7 million new records should appear on the LAC website before Christmas. 

      Glenn then introduced Mark McGowan, the Don Whiteside Memorial Lecturer, who spoke on In Search of the Famine's Forgotten Social History and the Making of the Film ""Death or Canada".  Judging by the applause the talk was widely appreciated.

      10 September 2010

      The Friendship Paradox

      The latest, 10 September, Lost Cousins newsletter available here has an intriguing item on the Friendship Paradox.

      According to the paradox, "if you pick someone at random, the chances are that most of their friends have more friends than they do - or to put it another way, most people have fewer friends than their friends do."

      To explain by example, suppose there are three people, one is friends with the other two, but they aren't friends with each other. So two people have one friend and one has two friends.The total number of friendships is four making an average number of 4 friendships/3 people, or an average 1.333 friendships. Two have fewer than that, one has more.

      Peter of the Lost Cousins newsletter extrapolates the paradox claiming that "When you discover a 'lost cousin', the chances are that person not only knows more cousins than you do, but it is likely to have more relatives on their family tree."

      I have doubts about the extrapolation, just as someone who had worked at making friends, rather than a random person, would be less likely to find s/he had less than the average number of friends, so a genealogist who had worked assiduously on his/her family history would not be as likely to make a contact with a lost cousin who had more information than they did.

      There's an interesting extension of the friendship paradox more relevant to genealogy in one of the references to the friendship paradox item on Wikipedia.

      “Why (did) our mothers had more children than women in her generation did.”  There are 12 children whose mother had 12 children, but there is only one child whose mother had one child.  And, of course, there are no children whose mother had no children.  Yet there is only one woman who had 12 children.  So if we ask around how many children everyone’s mother had (or how many siblings we have), we get the erroneous impression that our mothers were much more fertile than they actually were."

      Ottawa and Canadian History Night

      Wednesday evening saw the launch of Dave Mullington's latest book, Charlotte: the last suffragette in a crowded Exhibition Room A at Library and Archives Canada. After a brief introduction Dave told some anecdotes about Charlotte – former Ottawa mayor Charlotte Whitton – and then recounted her life in brief.

      Following questions there was a wine and cheese reception organized by the Friends of Library and Archives Canada while Dave busied himself signing copies, available from the publisher, General Store Publishing House at http://bit.ly/92ZIpl
      I started reading the book when I got home late and was quickly drawn into the book by Dave's easy writing style. 

      My late return was due to a detour to see the impressive sound and light show on Parliament Hill, well worth a visit if you can catch it before it ends on Sunday. It starts at 9:30pm.