30 November 2010

More Northern Ireland Wills online

 It's St Andrew's Day, and the Ulster Scots are grabbing the attention!

The following is from the Northern Ireland Executive

Approximately 100,000 images of probated wills have been made available online for the first time.
This is the culmination of a project by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) to index and digitise early wills from the three District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry between the years 1858 and 1900.
Speaking today about the Wills application, Culture Minister Nelson McCausland said: “One of PRONI’s key goals is to digitise key cultural resources and make them easily available to a worldwide audience. This free of charge application will therefore be of enormous assistance to anyone trying to trace their genealogical roots and will be of particular help to those wanting to begin their research from the comfort of their own home.
“In recent years there has been a huge increase in people researching their family history and trends have shown that a large number of these people are from outside the UK. I am sure this new application will be of particular interest to this international audience.”
Wills are one of the most used archival sources by both family historians and solicitors. The images have been linked to an existing searchable index which allows researchers to view details such as name, dates and the abstracts taken from the original entries.
Future digitisation plans include the addition of further pre-1858 will indexes to the PRONI Name Search facility. These indexes from Northern Ireland dioceses, will list the names of people who had wills probated as early as the seventeenth century – pushing the possibility of family and local history research further back in time.
Looking ahead to next year’s opening of the new PRONI headquarters, the Minister added: “I recently had the privilege to visit the stunning new PRONI headquarters at Titanic Quarter. This much needed £30million investment in our cultural infrastructure was provided by the Northern Ireland Executive. The new state-of-the-art facility will open to the public early next year and will protect Northern Ireland’s irreplaceable archives in a safe and secure environment.”

Find PRONI at www.proni.gov.uk/

Free access to Ireland's Southern Star newspaper archives

A digititally searchable archive of The Southern Star, a newsaper serving Cork since 1892, is now free at: http://www.irishnewsarchive.com/Default/Skins/SST/Client.asp?Skin=SST&enter=true&AppName=2&AW=1290492002718

The blurb on the paper mentions that "The Southern Star archives are a wonderful resource for all those interested in family genealogical research with their detailed births, deaths (obituaries) and marriages. The provincial press was also far less censored by the British authorities than their national equivalent. As a result they give both the professional and amateur historian a unique perspective of Ireland’s turbulent past as well as the local impact of major national and international events."

The image is an excerpt from the paper, part of a letter written by Carroll Levis from London in 1946 seeking genealogical information. It mentions his ancestor, a detective in the Vancouver Police who was murdered in 1914. Information on that incident is at http://www.vancouverpolicemuseum.ca/FallenOfficers/richard_levis.html

29 November 2010

Book Review: Genealogical Standards of Evidence

Cover for Genealogical Standards of Evidence
Canadian genealogy guru Brenda Dougall Merriman gives as her objective, in the introduction to this book, to "explain how the genealogical community developed standards of evidence and documentation, what those basic standards are, and how you can apply them to your own work."

Chapter 1, The Background, deals with the somewhat checkered history of genealogical investigations, methodology, resources and access, and skillbuilding, the latter items dealt with in more detail in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 2, Genealogical Research Standards, is the heart of the book, Sections with headings such as sources, information, evidence, analysis of evidence, Genealogical Proof Standard, citation of sources, elucidate, using a simple case study, the modern approach to establishing a credible genealogy. 

There is a section titled "Checklist of Genealogical Sources" which you can use to test whether your search has been "reasonably exhaustive." The omission of DNA sources in this list, and elsewhere in the book, reflects an unfortunate delay in the professional genealogical community catching up with today's technological reality.

Chapter 3, Learning and Practice, details resources available that will allow you to improve your skills, each with an address, telephone number, and website as appropriate.

Chapter 4, Some Illustrated Examples, reproduces a variety of Canadian documents and gives a brief explanation of the information one can infer from them.

At the end are a reading and reference list containing books, Internet and articles; and endnotes.

This is the book if you're looking for a short guide to help you in adhering to the American professional genealogy canon as taught (and perhaps applied) in Canada. It will find a place in my personal library.

Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians, by Brenda Dougall Merriman is, a 120 page paperback, published for the Ontario Genealogical Society by Dundurn Press (March 2010), ISBN 978-1554884513, and is widely available from retailers online (Google it for a convenient source) as well as perhaps your local OGS branch.The cover price is $19.99

OGS Seeks Nominations for Society Officers

The Ontario Genealogical Society is seeking nominations from members, Branches and Regions for two individuals to serve as Secretary and Vice-President, Finance. The individuals will serve two years terms and sit on the Executive Council which manages, supervises and co-ordinates the activities and programs of the Society on behalf of the Board and reports to the Board. More information is at www.ogs.on.ca/home/nominations.php 

28 November 2010

Internet Genealogy: Dec 2010/Jan 2011

As I write this it's dark, cold, with late November snow likely to be here until April. Those are conditions conducive to settling down to some reading, not liable to put you in a good frame of mind. It was with this as background I opened up the latest edition of Internet Genealogy.

The first article in this issue is "Genealogy Software for the Apple Mac!" by magazine editor Edward Zapletal. I don't use the Apple Mac.

The second article is "Jury Records and Your Genealogy" by David Norris. It describes the situation in the US which is not relevant to my research.

The third article is "Need to "Finnish" Your Genealogy Research?" by Diane L Richard. None of my ancestors were from Finland.

And so it goes. Irish American newspapers, foreign archives websites, D. A. R, a resource for Swedish genealogy, the Irish linen trade.

In my mind it's getting colder and darker outside.

Then I found relief in an article, unlikely titled  "Sighthill 95 and Other Adventures" by Melody Reitsma. She pursues her family history on the ground in Scotland. It seemed an unlikely article for Internet Genealogy as it contained rather little in the way of Internet resources, but enjoyable nonetheless.

See the full table of contents here, or from http://internet-genealogy.com/.

27 November 2010

Canada's great 19th-century philanthropists

The BBC is broadcasting a 3 part TV series starting on BBC2 next Monday on Britain's 19th-century philanthropists and social engineers. They call then "do-gooders."

The people to be featured are mentioned in the latest BBC History Magazine: William Wilberforce, (Jane) Ellice Hopkins, Lord Shaftesbury, Mary Carpenter, W T Stead, Robert Owen, Frederick Charrington, Thomas Barnardo, Octavia Hill and William Gladstone.

I'd heard of Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, Barnardo and Gladstone. The others I had to Google - most had Wikipedia pages, linked above..

It got me to wondering, who were Canada's do-gooders in the 19th century? 

Regrettably Canadians don't have the BBC to help with such questions. And to expect it from the CBC would be laughable.

Global Genealogy Bestsellers

Sandra Roberts from Global Genealogy sent a list of the company bestsellers, books you might want to consider as a gift for your favourite Canadian genealogist.

1. Canadians at War, 1914-1919: A Research Guide to World War One Service Records, by Glenn Wright

2. United Empire Loyalists, A Guide to Tracing Loyalist Ancestors in Upper Canada, by Brenda Dougall Merriman

3. Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century: A Guide to Register Style and More, 2nd edition,
by Michael J. Lecler and Henry B. Hoff

4. Destination Canada, a genealogical guide to Immigration Records, by Dave Obee

5. Whence They Came, Irish Origins From pre 1900 New Brunswick Death Notices
by Peter Murphy

Sandra mentions some of their other popular products this season are:

- Family Tree Maker, including the new Mac edition, manuals for same,
- eBooks on CDROM  (especially Story of Renfrew),
- 2-1/2 in. diameter Magnabrite magnifiers at $19.95.

More information, and order at www.globalgenealogy.com

26 November 2010

Book Review: Conserving, Preserving, and Restoring Your Heritage

The objective of this book is to guide you through some basic preservation techniques and preventative conservation practices for artifacts commonly found in family collections.

The first half discusses different types of artifacts, each in a separate chapter. They are: paper, parchment and vellum; books; paintings and other framed works of art; still and moving pictures; textiles; wooden objects; bone, horn, and ivory; plastic and rubber; glass and ceramic; silver, coins, and medals; and digital media.

Each chapter contains sections on preservation concerns and prevention conservation. There are also suggestions on when to call a conservator, often only when restoration is needed.

I have some World War One medals from both my grandfathers which have sat neglected in a cardboard box in a drawer for many years. I was interested to see if this book would give me any useful guidance on how I should be treating them in the future. Apparently most military medals were issued with a bright surface and should be maintained that way. Unfortunately the books contains no instructions for the construction of a time machine.

I should always have been wearing clean white cotton gloves when I've handle them to prevent the transfer of all oils and salt from my hands. Woe is me. Were these medals only lightly tarnished they could be cleaned with a polishing cloth, whereas more heavily tarnished medals need the attention of a conservator.

As for preservation, the book informs that medals were often awarded or presented in boxes or small cases where they should be kept. Again, it's too late for that.

The second half of the book is written as 15 appendices dealing with specific activities such as what information to put in an accession list, surface cleaning of books, and treating infestations in textiles by freezing.

At the back of the book are a glossary, references and further reading, and a list of suppliers. I was a bit surprised that of the 15 items in the reference section only two were websites.

The presentation of the material is straightforward. Don't look to it for anecdotes on how a particular conservation challenge was handled. It would be a useful reference for anyone with a family artifact collection, not only genealogists. Folks with larger and varied collections will find it especially useful. Others with more modest collections may find that even at only 174 pages it may be hard to justify its space on the bookshelf.

Conserving, Preserving, and Restoring Your Heritage, by Kennis Kim, a 174 page paperback, published for the Ontario Genealogical Society by Dundurn Press (Mar 15 2010), ISBN 978-155488462, is widely available online (Google it for a convenient source).

    Black Friday DNA Genealogy Special

    23andMe is offering for a very limited time it's Complete Edition DNA Test for $99 US. That's both the health and ancestry editions which gives full access to the data.

    There are some extras. Shipping of the test kit and of your saliva sample back to the company sample via FEDEX adds $49.95 US for Canadian residents. You also have to sign up for their Personal Genome Service at $5/mo for 12 months.

    This is offer ends today on Cyber Monday

    WW1 and WW2 Internment Camps in Canada

    The following is an announcement from Library and Archives Canada.

    Ottawa, Ontario, November 25, 2010—Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new guide to its collection of documents on internment camps in Canada during both world wars (1914–1918 and 1939–1945).

    This guide describes the extensive collection of governmental and private records generally consisting of textual documents on paper or on microfilm as well as publications about internment camps located on Canadian soil. The guide is available at the following address: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/the-public/005-1142.27-e.html

    There appears to be scant information on people who served as staff and guards at these camps.

    Five new books on the Genealogist's Reference Shelf

    Looking for a present for a genealogist? The OGS/Dundurn Genealogist's Reference Series has five books which wouldn't have been a gift last year as they all have a 2010 publication date. In alphabetical order by author:

    Conserving, Preserving, and Restoring Your Heritage
    A Professional's Advice
    By Kennis Kim

    Genealogical Standards of Evidence
    A Guide for Family Historians
    By Brenda Dougall Merriman

    Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada
    A Researcher's Guide
    By Janice Nickerson
    Genealogy and the Law in Canada
    By Dr. Margaret Ann Wilkinson
    Publish Your Family History
    Preserving Your Heritage in a Book
    By Greg Ioannou and Susan Yates

    They each be ordered from the Ontario Genealogical Society or Dundurn Press at the cover price of $19.99, or at a substantial discount from amazon.ca and chapters/indigo.ca.

    I'll be reviewing at least some of them on the blog as other things permit. Keep coming back, or sign up for email notifications of all blog postings or the RSS feed.

    Ancestry updates 1851 Census of England

    Ancestry announce that they have updated the 1851 census for England, but as usual, fail to let you know whether it's major or minor and where the additions are focussed. The information given here
    makes Lancashire a good bet. Consider revisiting previously unsuccessful searches.

    25 November 2010

    Copying/transcribing a large format old deed

    You never know what challenges you're going to face as a genealogist. A BIFHSGO member brought me an old deed and asked if I'd help find it a good home. She had rescued it many years ago when her church in Quebec was clearing out its storage and didn't see much need to keep a document from Cheshire.

    I asked for help at the last BIFHSGO meeting and a couple of people volunteered.  How much could we find out about the people and places named in the document? How did a Cheshire deed find its way to a Quebec church?

    The first thing to do, it seeemed to me, was make a copy so that we didn't risk damaging the original.  Make a copy ... sounds easy.

    It's 75 by 57 cm, three sheets with information on five sides. The sheets are attached at the bottom and folded twice in both directions. A colleague who investigated commercial copying services got estimates near the GDP of a small country. However, she seems to have found a solution.

    While this was underway The Ancestry Insider was working on a similar problem, and blogged a solution involving photographing in segments and stitching them together.

    Seems like one way or another we'll have a solution to the copying.

    Does anyone have any tips on transcribing from a large format document computer image?

    HSO: November Presentation

    The next meeting of the Historical Society of Ottawa features a presentation by Cameron Truman "150 Year History of Watson's Mill". The meeting, on Friday, November 26, starts at 1pm at the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Gigues Ave in Ottawa.

    24 November 2010

    Family Tree DNA upgrade discount

    The following information was received, via the Little Bytes of Life blog, from the folks at Family Tree DNA. It applies ONLY to people who have already had their Y-DNA tested with FTDNA.

    *   *   *
    As we enter the Thanksgiving weekend, we would like to extend to you a one-week promotion for upgrades:

                       Current Group Price      SALE PRICE

    Y12-37                   $99                              $69

    Y12-67                  $189                            $149

    Y25-67                  $148                            $109

    Y37-67                   $99                              $79

    To order this special offer, log in to your personal page and click on the special offers link in the left hand navigation bar. ALL ORDERS MUST BE PLACED AND PAID FOR BY MIDNIGHT DECEMBER 1st 2010 TO RECEIVE THE SALE PRICES.

    What does OGS mean by primary?

    NOTE: OGS has changed the page so the following posting is no longer applicable. It remains here for purposes of record.

    On their front page the Ontario Genealogical Society state that "OGS has been a major source of primary genealogical research material for more than 40 years."

    To this amateur family historian, as opposed to certified professional, primary has the connotation of original record, and as far as I know with some very limited exceptions, such as Independent Order of Oddfellows records. OGS holds none of these.

    I consulted a credentialed professional genealogist and learned that "Primary information is basically firsthand information, i.e. information from someone who was there. Secondary information is information that has been repeated from one person to another."

    Most of the material OGS supplies is transcriptions and falls in the latter category. Removing the word primary, leaving just "genealogical research materials", would convey the value of the information from OGS without overstating the case.  

    23 November 2010

    Too many magazines or not enough genealogists?

    This is the newstand at the W H Smith local to where I'm staying in England. The genealogy magazines are: Your Family Tree, Your Family History, Practical Family History, Family History, Family Tree, and Who Do You Think You Are? Although Practical Family History ceases publication with the December issue that still leaves five newstand genealogy magazines, including two relative newcomers, for a domestic population of 61.1 million. That's one per 12.2 million people.

    In the US and Canada, with a total population of 345 million, the newstand genealogy magazines are Family Tree, Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy. One magazine closed within the past year and nothing new has come on the market. That's one magazine per 115 million people.

    Why the roughly 10:1 ratio with much less choice in newstand genealogy magazines in North America than the UK? It can't all be due to better marketing, can it? Is there scope for further newstand magazines in North America. Or can we expect further contraction in the UK market.

    She had no children. She had many.

    Jasia of Creative Gene has encouraged everyone who has contributed to the Carnival of Genealogy to write an entry for the 100th edition. I think I've only contributed once but have read other's contributions more often more often than not finding the Carnival interesting.

    The topic for the century edition is "There's One in Every Family." The challenge for me is the standard set by people like Brenda Dougall Merriman. I take consolation that sometimes numbers count more than quality.

    Marie was my aunt. As a genealogist I should be precise. She was my first cousin once removed. She had no children. She had many.

    Born in Lancashire in the midst of the Great War she was raised, often in poverty, mainly by her mother. That was a lifestyle common in many a seamen family. Life at sea with a family to support was one that Marie's cousin, my father, who'd followed his uncle to sea, tried for a few months after WW2 and found wanting.

    Marie trained as a teacher and took one of her first jobs in the Channel Islands. It was a small community in the days when discipline in schools was the watchword, and kids knew it. Settling into a happy routine didn't quite happen. In June 1940 Germany occupied the Channel Islands. Marie, her mother and sister, barely escaped to England, allowed just one piece of hand baggage each.

    Then things turned grim.

    Her father, an Irish national, was the captain of the Irish-registered "Kerry Head" in August that year when it was attacked by a German aircraft in neutral Irish waters. There was damage but ship and crew were saved. The ship was repaired and continued in coastal trade.

    Then, in October, amazingly, the same thing happened, but with dire consequences, ship sunk,  all 12 crew lost.

    Marie and her sister Elsie found work in village schools in Devon. Afterwards she took a couple of teaching assignments in the US, one in Baltimore, enjoying the stimulation of a different environment. When the opportunity came she jumped at the chance to teach at the Texaco school in Trinidad where she eventually became head teacher, enjoyed international travel and a cottage on Tobago. She took particular pride in the school Christmas concert in which she collaborated with a talented colleague in producing original songs for the production.

    In retirement she and her sister, already terminally ill, returned to the UK. She travelled including visiting in Ottawa, studied, earned the degree of which she had long dreamt, and volunteered in a local charity shop and at her church.

    One of the last times I stayed with her at her home in Dorset was in 2001. I timed it so I could be recorded as a "visitor" in the census that year. Will future genealogists make the family connection?

    In her Carnival contribution Brenda gives her view that "Part of the family history fabric for me is to see a pleasing characteristic or skill appearing in one generation after another as a recurring sort of genetic inheritance." 

    When I look at the array of teachers like Marie found in my family tree it seems Brenda must be onto something.

    22 November 2010

    Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE Announcement

    The following is a press release from Event Industry News:

    BBC Magazines Bristol has today announced that it has purchased a majority share and taken over the management of Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE, the UK’s largest family history event.

    Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE was launched in 2007 by consumer event specialists Brand Events, and Wall To Wall, a Shed Media company and the production company behind the successful Who Do You Think You Are? television programme, which is now in its eighth UK series. The annual event is held at Olympia, London, and last year attracted over 14,000 visitors.

    BBC Magazines Bristol, the award-winning specialist interest arm of BBC Magazines and publisher of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine,will now be responsible for the production and management of Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE in conjunction with Wall To Wall. Brand Events will act as consultants for the 2011 event.

    Andy Healy, Show Director of Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE and Publisher of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to further help genealogists, from beginners to experts, delve deeper into their own stories. The event has been so successful over the past four years, it’s incredibly exciting to be taking it on at such a buoyant time for this industry.”

    Claire Hungate, Commercial Director of the Shed Media Group, commented: “Brand Events have done an amazing job of launching the show and establishing it as the biggest genealogy event in the UK and we very much look forward to building on that success and further developing the show’s reach with BBC Magazines Bristol.”

    via  geneabloggers.com

    British Home Children: Their Stories

    The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa 
    is pleased to announce the launching of 
    a commemorative book celebrating
     2010 Year of the British Home Child.

    A collection of stories and images by first and second generation descendants,
    some of which are first-hand accounts of the Home Child’s experience.

    Saturday 18 December 2010, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.
    Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St., Ottawa, Exhibition Hall 'A'.Free parking on large lots east of the building.

    There will be refreshments, some readings from the book, and copies available for sale on site, 

    RSVP - bifhsgo@gmail.com - by 12 December,
    giving your name and number of people in your party including yourself.

    The UK National Archives Catalogue Day

    The annual Catalogue Day was held at the Kew on Friday19 November. About 50 people (my guess) attended, including staff and two clients from outside the UK. Most of the presentations were short, 20 minutes. Two were more substantive of which I only was able to attend the first, on Resource Discovery, by Tim Gollins who is TNA's Head of Digital Preservation and Resource Discovery.

    Gollins described himself as a computer/information technology geek, but did a good job presenting the material in a non-technical way. He explained that he views the resource discovery challenge as the scientific one of connecting clients needs with the organization's information, projected through a computer interface.

    The original TNA online catalogue, PROCAT, was developed in 2000 with eight million entries and has grown to 11 million. Although the interface has changed the catalogue today is built on PROCAT and its departmental hierarchy.

    In ten years the technology explosion has changed client expectations and presents further challenges.
    - the volume of data is increasing. With an average 45 facts per catalogue entry there are 500,000,000 facts in the catalogue, and millions more when other data such as Documents Online are included.
    - the user base is more widely distributed. For every document ordered in the reading rooms 221 are now ordered and delivered online.  That's up from about 170 a year ago.
    - the construction of the current catalogue system is inflexible. Add-ons and a proliferation of tools leads to confusion for users.
    - search systems technology has changed radically in the past decade.
    - funding limitation are placing a premium on economies of scale. Paradoxically a uniformity of approach can lead to increased flexibility for users at lower cost.
    - the public policy agenda, "big society", "transparency".

    A catalogue, a means to find a resource, should be as simple and comprehensive as possible and present a coherent and consistent view of the collection reflecting a user viewpoint.

    Gollins explained that the aim of their resource discovery initiative is to provide a facilitated discovery browsing approach, much as in online shopping, where information can be filtered based on the terms the user understands. In his view these are subject, place and people.

    On subject, Gollins contrasted TNA's objective with Google's which is to find the one hit sufficient to answer a request in a "good enough" manner. TNA needs to be comprehensive identifying all relevant resources. For them "good enough" isn't. The approach is through taxonony, which seems to means tags.
    On place, they are working on map interfaces as a means to browse and filter information. The work is at an early stage.
    On people, they are looking to tune the search system to respond to people's names, both for the prominent and not so prominent.

    TNA have a substantial cataloguing team working to improve the data on which resources discovery is based and are looking to find ways to enlist users to contribute (big society).  They hope to build communities around records and open up data in bulk to allow geeks to create new interfaces and build mashups.

    I asked about the compatibility with initiatives in archives elsewhere, nationally and internationally. While there is some conversation internationally TNA believe they are ahead of their counterparts. I would expect that making data available in bulk would be some indication that anything they develop should be amenable to integration on an international scale. It would be unfortunate if the archival community did not eventually work toward an international catalog(ue), just as WorldCat is doing for bibliographic information, so that the client does not have to identify which organization holds the information they seek as a first step in the search.

    Several of the shorter presentations referred to the TNA Labs website at http://labs.nationalarchives.gov.uk/wordpress//?WT.hp=la in particular the UK History Photo Finder. It has a map interface. I wasn't successful in getting it to work (it is a Labs application so that kind of glitch is to be expected.)

    I was very sorry to have to miss the talk "Views from the bottom, Voices from below: Poverty and Punishment, Law and Lunacy" by Paul Carter and Sarah Hutton.

    Finally, I'd like to commend TNA on holding this event, and for their other initiatives to communicate two-way with their clients, an initiative other organization would be well advised to follow.

    21 November 2010

    Ancestry.ca wins recognition from Canada's History Society

    The following is a press release via Canada Newswire.

    McGill University Professor Desmond Morton Wins 2010 Pierre Berton Award

    WINNIPEG, Nov. 3 /CNW/ - Steady scholarship, dry wit and an appetite for public debate are the qualities that have made Professor Desmond Morton this year's winner of the Pierre Berton Award, Canada's History Society announced today. Desmond Morton's incisive analysis and quiet chuckle have raised interest in and knowledge of Canadian history from coast-to-coast. 
    The author of over 40 books on military, political, and labour history in Canada including two enduring popular works: A Short History of Canada and A Military History of Canada, Desmond Morton has also been an active and generous mentor, contributor, and advocate within the historical community.  He continues to be a sought-after media commentator providing historical context for contemporary events and public policy debates. 
    The Award selection committee noted that the Pierre Berton Award particularly recognizes Desmond Morton's tireless advocacy of accessible Canadian history. He once facetiously suggested that Canadian history be banned from schools as 'unfit for young minds. Then, of course, those "young minds" would grab a flashlight and read it avidly under the covers.'
    "We are delighted to honour Desmond Morton," said Deborah Morrison, president and C.E.O. of Canada's History Society. "He cares deeply about how history is taught in our classrooms and how it is remembered in our communities.  His career reflects his strong commitment to helping bridge between academic research and popular understanding of our past."
    In accepting the honour Desmond Morton commented, "This is a gratifying award to receive, since Pierre Berton was the master of history performances as well as popular writing. I am humbled to be put in the same category."
    The Pierre Berton Award is Canada's top history prize, recognizing excellence in bringing Canada's history to a wider popular audience.  Past awards have honoured the initiatives of writers, filmmakers, television broadcasters, and non-profit organizations. 
    The History Society also acknowledged the work of four other exceptional nominees who were short-listed for the prize:
    Ancestry.ca as a part of the world's largest online aggregator of historical records provides Canadian families with an unprecedented breadth of resources to begin their exploration of Canada's history with the stories that intrigue them the most - those of their own families and descendents. Lively, participative, and personal, Ancestry.ca is quite literally weaving more connections between Canadians and their pasts.
    Dan Francis has been a freelance writer exploring for over 35 years all aspects of Canadian cultural history, and publishing for children and adult audiences alike. Among many notable projects he's been involved The Encyclopedia of British Columbia remains one the most important books written about the province. Indeed Dan Francis is one of the most important historical writers in Canada today.
    J'ai La Memoire Qui Tourne is an unprecedented multi-media project developed by Les Productions de la Ruelle in collaboration with the French television network Historia. Rooted with a television documentary series that traces the history of 20th century Quebec by weaving together family films and videos, the project culminates with a vast website, coproduced with Turbulent Media and the support of the Bell Fund, featuring more viewer-contributed content and a robust set of educational resources.  J'ai La Memoire Qui Tourne is a game-changer for how Canada's stories are told in popular media.
    Bernard Zukerman's curiosity about the Canadian people and events has brought some of Canada's best historical drama to film and television screens. His filmography includes features about Dieppe, the Dionne Quintuplets; Victor Davis, hockey player's rights in Canada, Colin Thatcher, as well as the forthcoming CBC television movie about political rivals John A. Macdonald and George Brown. A natural story-teller, Zukerman's contributions to bringing Canada's history to movie theatres and television are unparalleled.

    TNA Podcast: The London Gazette - not just the brave and the bankrupt

    Audrey Collins, genealogy specialist at the (UK) National Archives, in a presentation from last August, speaks on the many ways the London Gazette may be helpful in researching family and local history.

    Listen from here.

    20 November 2010

    London as you never saw it before

    Having spent the day on Friday at the UK National Archives in Kew and the British Library I was more than interested to come across an amazing 80 gigapixel London panorama, "so big it would measure 35m long and 17m tall if printed at normal photographic resolution" according to http://newslite.tv/2010/11/17/london-skyline-becomes-largest.html.

    View it at http://www.360cities.net/london-photo-en.html

    The book of Glasgow anecdote (1912)

    This book by Malloch, D. Macleod (Donald Macleod) has been digitized to the Internet Archive by the University of Toronto Library.

    In his introduction the author hopes that "any who read this book will find in it much information about Glasgow which is interesting, and many stories of Glasgow citizens which are amusing." Can it achieve this in 2010, 98 years after publication? It should certainly be interesting if you have Glasgow roots. Amusing is a matter of taste, Try this sample.

    An Englishman and a Scotsman chanced to meet at a football match, and, contrary to tradition, the Englishman had a bottle while the Scotsman had none.  A few minutes after the game had started a good run was made by one of the visiting forwards. " Good run,"  said the Scotsman. " Fine," said the Englishman, and applied his lips to the bottle, ignoring Sandy's thirsty glances. Later on a goal was scored. " Fine goal," said Sandy. " Grand," said the Englishman, taking another draught, but still not offering it to his neighbour. " I presume you're a bit o' a fitba' player yoursel' ? " said Sandy. " I am," was the proud reply. "I thocht sae," said Sandy. "You're a grand dribbler, but you're no good at passing."

    Book reviews by BBC History Magazine

    If you're considering a book on British history a source of inspiration is the free book review archive available at the BBC History Magazine website at www.bbchistorymagazine.com/, click on Books in the horizontal menu strip. They review many books I didn't know, and won't likely find in North American bookstores. Google the title for a supplier or check out Amazon.co.uk.

    Other content at the BBC History Magazine site includes a podcast, blog, email newsletter and features.

    19 November 2010

    Family History for the Older and Wiser

    Checking Waterstones in the local shopping centre where I'm staying in England I found a new 340 page paperback genealogy book, published by Wiley, for the University of the Third Age. If you're not familiar with Britain's U3A movement it comprises "self-help, self-managed lifelong learning co-operatives for older people no longer in full time work, providing opportunities for their members to share learning experiences in a wide range of interest groups and to pursue learning not for qualifications, but for fun."

    Family History for the Older and Wiser: find your roots with online tools by Susan Fifer is an August 2010 publication. Divided into five sections, it takes you through the steps required to research and write your UK family history using online sources. The organization is familiar: Getting Started; Basic Genealogy (civil registration and census); Online Sources (FamilySearch, Ancestry, the National Archives, other sources), Recording Your Research (spreadsheets, genealogy software and especially Personal Ancestral File, family photos); Sharing Your Research (presentations, publishing).

    The strong computer orientation of the book, evident from the title, continues right from the start of chapter one which gives the equipment needed as a computer, printer, Internet access. It assumes little computer background, for example, giving information on how to use a web browser for those who have avoided that to date. The treatment of civil registration emphasizes FreeBMD and for the census the FamilySearch 1881 transcription and the information you can get for free by manipulating the 1911 census site. It takes you through step by step using examples.

    There is a glossary, including some terms you don't expect in a genealogy book like tag and ppi, and an index.

    One failing is some uneveness in how up-to-date it is. There is no mention of the Irish 1901 or 1911 censuses being free online although some more recent resources are covered. Also, not a failing but an inevitability for anyone writing about Internet resources, one the author mentions, is that websites change.

    This is one of a series of "older and wiser publications," very much in the style of familiar "Dummies" books, all similarly computer-oriented. For the complete list of their books, and to preview part of the genealogy book, go to www.pcwisdom.co.uk/view/0/index.html

    The cover price is £12.99 with online stores selling at a near 40% discount, and a Kindle edition at £7.83 or $9.99 in the US Kindle store. However, the images are too small to permit seeing any detail on the Kindle.

    Unless you're familiar with the UK situation, or have read the book, you may not be sure about some of the questions. For example:
    Which of the following is the best proxy (in genealogical terms) for a birth certificate?
    a) Credit card
    b) Driving licence
    c) Passport
    d) School leaving certificate

    Anyone struggling to get going on the computer researching English family history will find this book valuable, but one can't help but reflect that an instantaneously editable web-based presentation would be better adapted to the changing nature of the online world.

    Kith and Kin Blog and Links

    The Kith and Kin blog only started very recently but Luke Mouland already has 42 followers for what he terms "genealogical wafflings."  There is also a list of links, some of which were new to me.

    18 November 2010

    Modernizing Textual Reprography Services at LAC

    An announcement is posted by Library and Archives Canada that as of November 15, 2010, a service providing copies of various textual records in digital format for download from the website will be offerred. In certain cases the digital image will then be made freely available.

    As I recall, this has been the subject of a trial using WW1 service files for some months. While there will be a saving to the client on shipping costs it appears the reproduction cost will remain unchanged as will the time to deliver --- 6-10 weeks for regular service.

    LAC New Tools for Immigration Records

    The following is an announcment from Library and Archives Canada.

    Ottawa, November 18, 2010 – Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the launch of new tools to facilitate the consultation and use of its immigration records, one of the largest and most consulted by genealogists. Transcriptions of headings of different forms used to record the names of immigrants arriving in Canada between 1865 and 1935 are now accessible on the Library and Archives Canada website. Links to different databases and websites offering nominal indexes or digitized images of immigration records have been regrouped on a single web page.

    These pages can be accessed at the following addresses:

    Immigration Records Headings:


    Immigration Records Indexes:


    Over 14,000 memorial inscriptions added by findmypast.co.uk

    Findmypast.co.uk have added 14,262 Middlesex memorial inscriptions from 1399 to 1992. Find them in the Middlesex parish burials collection.

    More British Library Records for WorldCat

    After you've checked your local library catalogue where do you look next for that elusive book? Mayve Amazon, or ABEBooks if you want to buy it, but increasingly the answer is WorldCat.  To find out why, and about 12 million new bibliographic records added from the British Library, read the press release.

    DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 17 November 2010—OCLC is pleased to announce that the British Library has added 12 million bibliographic records to WorldCat, the world's largest online resource for finding library materials.
    OCLC staff worked closely with British Library staff to add the records over a four-month project. As a result of the cooperative effort, OCLC and the British Library have enhanced the process to add these valuable records to WorldCat for the benefit of researchers worldwide.
    According to the British Library, WorldCat is an increasingly important resource used to expose its holdings worldwide, and for supporting a number of its core services including resource sharing and document delivery.
    "We are delighted to be able to display the richness and diversity of the British Library's collections via WorldCat," said Neil Wilson, Head of Metadata Services, British Library. "Increasingly, users want to start their research by searching as many library resources as possible and WorldCat addresses this need. By making our resources visible via such systems we can greatly increase awareness of the Library's services and reach a far wider audience."
    Prior to this latest data load, some 4.5 million British Library records had been added to WorldCat over the last 25 years. Not only has this volume now effectively tripled, but the quality and accuracy of the records has been significantly enhanced. Ongoing automated batch loads will further improve the quantity and quality of British Library records in WorldCat.
    "OCLC is very proud of its relationship with the British Library," said Jay Jordan, President and CEO, OCLC. "The ongoing cooperation between this prestigious research institution and OCLC over the years continues to yield enormous benefits for library users and scholars around the world."
    WorldCat is a database of bibliographic information built continuously by OCLC libraries around the world since 1971. Each record in the WorldCat database contains a bibliographic description of a single item or work and a list of institutions that hold the item. The institutions share these records, using them to create local catalogs, arrange interlibrary loans and conduct reference work. Libraries contribute records for items not found in WorldCat using the OCLC shared cataloging system.
    Since 1971, 200 million records have been added to WorldCat, spanning more than 6,000 years of recorded knowledge, from about 4800 B.C. to the present. This unique store of information encompasses records in a variety of formats—books, e-books, serials, sound recordings, musical scores, maps, visual materials, mixed materials and computer files. Like the knowledge it describes, WorldCat grows steadily. Every second, library members add seven records to WorldCat.
    Once records have been added to WorldCat, they are discoverable on the Web through popular search and partner sites, and through WorldCat.org.
    The OCLC cooperative has a long tradition of working with national libraries around the world to facilitate shared cataloging, record exchange, digitization, resource sharing and document delivery. A map displaying national libraries with records in WorldCat is on the OCLC Web site.
    About the British LibraryThe British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is one of the world's major research libraries, holding over 150 million items in all known languages and formats: books, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings and much more. While it holds more items in total, its book collection is second only to the American Library of Congress. The Library's collections include around 14 million books, along with substantial additional collections of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 300 BC.
    About OCLCFounded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 72,000 libraries in 171 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalogue, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search WorldCat on the Web at www.worldcat.org. For more information, visit the OCLC Web site.

    OCLC, WorldCat and WorldCat.org are trademarks/service marks of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Third-party product, service and business names are trademarks/service marks of their respective owners.

    Looking Ahead

    Last week was my final speaking commitment for the year. I don't anticipate being on my hind legs before an audience until early April, in June for the Quebec Family History Society Roots 2011 event, and then in August with a couple of talks for the Toronto Branch of OGS.

    A major commitment until September is as co-Chair of the BIFHSGO conference, 16-18 September. The theme is England and Wales, and especially London. I'm taking the lead in developing the program. More news as things develop, major speakers are already identified but nothing is confirmed yet.

    The door is also open to proposals for other presentations likely to hold the interest of members including: writing and preserving family history; social networking; technology and genetics/DNA discoveries; case studies that illuminate social trends and illustrate good genealogical practice. More information here. The deadline for submissions is the end of January.

    Another conference commitment is serving on the program committee for the OGS 2012 conference in Kingston.

    One or two genealogical events away from Ottawa are in my plans. The RootsTech meeting, Feb 10 - 12, 2011 in Salt Lake City and Who Do You Think You Are Live, Feb 26-28 in London are both tempting but a bit too much to do both in the same month.

    I'm also considering either a non-genealogical project or writing a book I've been contemplating for some months.

    Anglo-Celtic Connections, passing 2,000 posts this month, will continue indefinitely.

    The Internet Archive and the World in 1880

    I was surprised to find that only one out of ten people in a class I recently spoke to admitted to knowing about the Internet Archive. For city directories and parish register transcriptions alone its worth knowing about, and replete with other useful resources for the genealogist.

    Try it out by going to www.archive.org/details/texts and searching on a town name of your interest.
    The search doesn't get into the body of the text. Do do so click on the title of the book of interest, then click on "Read Online" in the left hand column, then search from the box at the top of the right hand column.

    The University of Toronto continue to add digitized books to the Internet Archive. I recently found The universal assistant and complete mechanic : containing over one million industrial facts, calculations, receipts, processes, trade secrets, rules, business forms, legal items, etc., in every occupation, from the household to the manufactory (1880). This was the world our ancestors lived in.

    17 November 2010

    The Genealogy of British Pub Signs

    Here's something a bit different, patterns in the names and signs of British pub. Read the article here, from the culture site The Dabbler which is worth browsing, or go straight to the pdf of the "family tree"

    MAPCO completes Stanford’s Geological Library Map Of London And Its Suburbs 1878

    I've pointed before to the detailed London maps available free online from MAPCO. The latest is a reproduction and adaptation for convenient web access of Stanford's Library Map Of London And Its Suburbs; Or, Geological Library Map Of London 1878 available at http://london1878.com or through MAPCO's London Map page at http://archivemaps.com

    Don't be confused by the colouring on the map which is the Geological, not Genealogical.

    Please Thank Your Volunteers

    The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa has been seeking a new editor for its quarterly Chronicle called Anglo Celtic Roots. Chris MacPhail, who's been doing that job for some years, and winning awards in the process, is wanting to step down. I was pleased to hear that the board has accepted Elizabeth Kipp's offer to guest edit the spring issue in a trial run. I know few people who work harder and more deliberately on the family history tasks they take on, as evidenced by Elizabeth's blog.

    Not-for-profit organizations, which most genealogical and family history societies are, rely on volunteers like Chris and Elizabeth to fill all kinds of roles. A very few larger societies have paid staff. Mostly societies run through a combination of a long-term volunteer effort by the few, very often board members and a handful of others. We treasure the people like Jeanette Arthurs, Doug Hoddinott, and Betty Warburton in BIFHSGO, who have served as board members and continue to contribute over many years.

    I learned the other day that Mike More, who first became Chair of the Ottawa Branch of OGS when Bill Clinton was President, has announced he is relinquishing that position next year. Mike took on the role of OGS Regional Chair earlier in the year, in which capacity he sits on the OGS Board and has much to contribute at the provincial level.

    Most people, for various reasons, choose not to contribute in a continuing role. However, short-term, often event oriented, contributions from a larger number of society members are just as valued. An hour or two a month, or half a day a year, is a fine way to make the organization that much more successful, and has real impact in helping keep fees down.

     Our friends in the US are approaching their Thanksgiving celebration. Whether you're in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and a few other places this blog is read, why not take the next available opportunity to thank a volunteer in your local society. Thanks are infectious. The more you give, the more you get.

    16 November 2010

    TNA Podcast: Royal Hospital Chelsea: Soldiers' service documents

    TNA military records specialist William Spencer gives a short overview of the Royal Hospital Chelsea: Soldiers' service documents in WO 97, one of The National Archives' most popular record series now digitized on findmypast.co.uk.

    This series holds detailed and comprehensive military records of over 1.5 million soldiers who served in the British Army between 1760 and 1913. This talk, recorded on November 9, reveals the enlightening information found in the records, for anyone with ancestors who served in the army during this period.

    The average file has four pages. FMP has discovered one of 54 pages which details the bureaucratic and long winded case of Matthias Quinton’s pension claim.

    Quinton was born in Limehouse, London and joined the Royal Artillery on 28th October 1889 aged 18 years and seven months. He saw service at home and in Gibraltar and was discharged after three years because of medical unfitness. During his service, Quinton was tried and imprisoned for 42 days for ‘using insubordinate language to a superior officer’. His record states that ‘when brought before Major W H Smart RA, his commanding officer, and when asked what he had to say in his defence, he replied “Sweet FA” in a highly disrespectful manner’.

    Heritage Ottawa Free Public Lecture

    The History of Kanata

    Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Ottawa Public Library Auditorium, 120 Metcalfe St., corner of Laurier Ave. West 

    William Teron, the founder, planner and builder of the first major phase of Kanata, will present his garden city and Silicon Valley concepts and their development within Canada’s national Capital.

    Info: 613-230-8841 or www.heritageottawa.org

    15 November 2010

    Oxfordshire Wills Online at Origins.net

    Over 300 years of indexes to Oxfordshire Wills are now online at Origins.net

    This dataset indexes all the surviving probate records of the bishop and archdeacon of Oxford for the period 1733 to 1857, and of the Oxfordshire Peculiars for 1547-1856.

    The digitised images are presently not online. They will be available within the National Wills Index in early 2011, but meantime hard copies may be ordered online on Origins.net.

    Information typically found in wills is:

    • Names of heirs and beneficiaries
    • Relationships
    • Places of residence and origin of testators
    • Places of residence of the heirs and beneficiaries
    • Properties and whether freehold, copyhold or lease
    • Occupations
    • Debts owed and due
    • Business arrangements
    • Executors
    • Witnesses
    • Inventories of personal property
    • Personal comments about heirs and beneficiaries
    See subscription options here starting at 7 pounds for 72 hour access.

    Lost Cousins Canada Special

    The following is from the latest Lost Cousins Newsletter:
    Were any of your relatives in Canada in 1881? Until Christmas you will be able to contact anyone you're matched with through the Canada 1881 census (normally you'd have to subscribe, wait for our next free weekend - which won't be until the end of the year).

    Tip: it doesn't matter where your ancestors came from or what language they spoke - so long as you have relatives who were recorded on that census I can search for your living relatives.
    Entering people in the database is fairly easy once you've got the hang of it. You may find someone else has already claimed your relative and you can connect. Otherwise just sit back and forget about it -- until someone else enters a match. That's what I'm doing.

    I've entered 122 relatives (none in Canada) and so far no matches. It's likely I don't have many to find. My ancestral families seem to have been smaller than average. I only had two first cousins, whereas most people seem to have more. One person at my talk in Vancouver in September said they had 81 ... wow.

    New Ottawa City Archives Update: 12 November 2010

    While most of the windowa are now in place there are still a few at the lower level and a column at south end, dark in the photo, to install. 

    The parking lot to the west of the building is already paved and in use by the construction team.

    The exterior finish remains to be installed on the east face of the archives wing.


    Here's a reminder of the appearance of the site 12 months ago.

    14 November 2010

    RIP Suddie "Bill" Mumford

    Calgary-based genealogist Suddie "Bill" Mumford passed away yesterday. I only knew him through his widely-read Genealogical Software Report Card. Dick Eastman has an appreciation, and link to an official obit, here

    ACOM (Ancestry) first anniversary and stock offer

    ACOM, the stock of Ancestry.com, has now been listed for trading for one year. From an issue price of $13.50 it has risen to close on Friday at $26.49, a 96% increase. It traded as low as $12.80 and up to a recent high of $28.38.It now has a market capitalization of $1.18B

    Compared to ACOM the performance  of the stock of Google looks anemic.

    On Friday Ancestry announced it will be making a secondary offering of 3,795,955 shares of common stock at a price of $26.00 per share.  These are not new shares.
    "... certain of the Company's stockholders intend to offer 3,564,842 shares of common stock for sale and grant the underwriters the right to purchase up to 534,726 additional shares, solely to cover over-allotments, if any. Ancestry.com is not selling any shares of common stock in the offering and will receive no proceeds from the sale. The secondary offering will not result in dilution of shares currently outstanding. Ancestry.com expects to incur non-recurring professional fees and costs of approximately $1 million in connection with this offering, which will negatively affect the company's adjusted EBITDA for the quarter and full year ending December 31, 2010."
    This suggests to me that a major shareholder sees the major gains in the stock to have occurred and that they can best use their funds elsewhere.

    On the other hand, website Motley Fool, sees Ancestry as a potential takeover target for Google.
    "Subscription revenue for an online service would be welcome at Google, and if there's a free ad-based model to be had, there's no one better than Google to make it happen."

    Ottawa Scottish Genealogy Group Meeting

    Monday, November 15th sees the next meeting of the Ottawa Scottish Genealogy group.  Irish expert Jim Lynn will be joining the group to talk about the Ulster-Scots. The meeting will start at 7:00 pm in Room 154 at the Library and Archives Canada. 

    There will also be a Silent Auction of Scottish books.

    13 November 2010

    Cumbria BMD

    There's a recent addition to the growing list of Register Office websites with indexes of locally registered births, marriages and deaths. Cumbria BMD presently contains data for the Barrow-in-Furness Registration District, 258,958 births, 84,845 marriages and 145,401 deaths. Further districts are promised "in the near future."

    People sometimes ask why they should bother going to the local district site when the GRO has compiled an index for all of England and Wales, and much of it is now available at FreeBMD

    First, there are well documented deficiencies in the GRO index. It's one step further removed from the registration with the consequent scope for errors and omissions. Always go to the local index, where available if you can't find an event you expect.

    Second, the information available is slightly different. On the upside, entries are available for more c=recent events than on FreeBMD, and for marriages you get the names of the marriage partners and the church or register office where the ceremony occurred. On the downside, you don't get the quarter, only the year the event occurred, and no age at death is given in the index.

    Cumbria BMD is part of the UKBMD group of Family History and Genealogy web sites.

    Ottawa Branch OGS November Meeting

    Bruce Patterson, Saint Laurent Herald & Registrar, Canadian Heraldic Authority, Government House, Ottawa will speak on "Heraldry in Canada and how to obtain a Canadian Coat of Arms" on 14 Nov 2010, 7.30 p.m. at Library & Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa: Room 156

    12 November 2010

    Worth Watching - the Muninn Project

    An international, interdisciplinary project to investigate innovative uses of First World War Records, the Muninn project launched the web interface to its catalog on November 11, 2010.

    As described here, the project aims to take as many digitized First World War records as possible to create a huge database, then extract the written data using advanced computer technology, and turn the resulting information into structured databases. Data from Library and Archives Canada is already ingested.

    For genealogy the interest is in exploring computer extraction from handwritten records, initially from forms of which there were lots in WW1.

    While you can search the database online the results to date are primitive.

    Some of the research projects identified are:

    • Institutional Reconstitution – create a digital model of the armed forces
    • Social History Database – providing useful datasets for social historians of the early Twentieth Century
    • Modelling Infectious Disease – using medical records pertaining to the Spanish Flu and STIs we could model the transmission of infectious diseases through the armed forces
    • Crises and Medical Language – linguists would like to analyse the impact of medical emergencies on bureaucratic language.
    This project involves the universities of Western Ontario, Cambridge, Waterloo, Hull, and Carleton and Brown Universities.

    1801 and 1811 Nominal Censuses for Ealing

    They're almost as rare as hen's teeth - pre 1841 nominal censuses in England and Wales. Occasional examples do survive usually in local archives and libraries.

    The parish of Ealing. Middlesex, is a case where the original schedules of the 1801 and 1811 census survive and are held by the Ealing Local History Centre.

    Over 5,000 people are counted in each census. As usual in early censuses only the heads of households are named.

    View a transcription, and comprehensive analysis of the data, at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jonga/census1intro.html

    11 November 2010

    Toronto Branch of OGS launches new database of war memorials

    The following is information received from OGS Toronto Branch:

    The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society is honoured to mark Remembrance Day 2010 with the launch of For King and Country, a new on-line database of war memorials in Toronto schools.

    Many Toronto schools display lists of former students and teachers who volunteered for active service during the two world wars. A much smaller number of memorials exist for other conflicts. Some name only those who died, but most include all who enlisted.

    The Toronto Branch of the OGS has taken on the ambitious project of transcribing and indexing these memorials. The product of this work is a searchable database, For King and Country, which will be a valuable resource for students of local, social, military, educational and family history.

    The Toronto school memorials take a wide variety of forms, including books of remembrance, bronze plaques, photo displays, sculptures, stained glass, bronze bells and special plantings, but most are hand-lettered lists, framed under glass. Many of these lists were designed by Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson and are headed "For King and Country". This heading inspired the title of the Toronto Branch project.

    While other records exist to document military service, school memorials connect the young men and women who volunteered to their family and friends, and show us the impact of war on their communities. For King and Country also offers a new source of information about the history of the schools themselves, with links to other useful school and community websites.

    For King and Country is a work in progress. The database now includes just over 20,000 names, drawn from memorials in 50 elementary and secondary schools, and those numbers will continue to grow. At the moment, the focus of the project is on the nearly 600 schools of the Toronto District School Board, but memorials from Catholic schools, private schools and post-secondary institutions will be added in the future. Users can search the database by surname, forename, school and/or keywords and access a full transcription for each entry.

    To explore this new database, visit www.torontofamilyhistory.org/kingandcountry/.

    For more information about the For King and Country project and how to contribute, contact: Martha Jackson at kingandcountry@torontofamilyhistory.org.

    For more information about the Toronto Branch and how to become a member, e-mail info@torontofamilyhistory.org or leave a message at 416-733-2608.

    Catholic Registers Online from SOG

    The Society of Genealogists’ family history library in London contains a large number of Catholic register transcripts. One, a baptismal registers of the Portuguese Embassy Chapel, 1663-1844, is now available on the Members’ Area of the Society’s website,

    A free basic search of the registers can be made here  but you will need to become a Society member to view the full entry.

    BIFHSGO November Meeting

    The feature presentation this Saturday, 13 November, 2010  at 10am is "In Flanders Fields: Researching and Remembering the Dead of the Great War" by Society President Glenn Wright. 

    The presentation will take a look at some of the common, and not so common, resources for documenting those who died in the First World War, as well as information on the creation of cemeteries and the major Canadian and British memorials to the missing in France and Belgium.

    As usual, the presentations will be in the auditorium of Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street. Discovery tables and refreshments will be available prior to the meeting.
    Another of the popular "Before BIFHSGO" education talks will also be given , starting at 9:00am, with
    Hall of Fame member Doug Hoddinott demonstrating merging online Ancestry data into a Family Tree Maker file

    10 November 2010

    Poppy Paranoia

    CBC News is reporting that The Royal Canadian Legion has told an Ottawa-based internet news site to stop using its poppy image to commemorate Remembrance Day. Read more at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2005/11/08/legion-bourque-poppy051108.html#ixzz14sz9lY3s

    To me that is most regrettably short sighted. It would seem that to mark the day online one needs to go further afield, Fortunately the British Legion is not so myopic, and using their image is a reminder of the large number of CEF servicemen who originated in the UK.

    A New Genealogy Magazine

    There's been so much contraction in the family history magazine market this year, it's good to read of a new entry in the market. Inside History is published in Australia for the ANZ market.

    You can read about it at the Inside History Blog at http://insidehistorymagazine.blogspot.com/

    The 100th Carnival of Genealogy

    In our decimal world 100 holds a certain distinction. It's satisfying to reach that milestone, one I'd like to achieve when just one more person becomes a follower of this blog. Look left.

    Another person in the genealogy blogosphere working on 100 is Jasia of the Creative Gene blog who runs the Carnival of Genealogy. If you're not familiar with the Carnival have a look here. Jasia is asking for blog postings for the 100th issue, and has set a goal of 100 of them.

    Although I once, many moons ago, submitted an item for the Carnival it's oriented more toward family history stories, not niche news which is my aim at Anglo-Celtic Connections.

    So can we help Jasia? She's looking to those who've already contributed to previous Carnivals. While I doubt she'd reject newcomers with their own blogs I'd be happy to host a guest post here.

    Persephone -- that includes you as you're already blogging this month. You may already have it with your story on Harry Grattridge although not every family has one so notable.

    Here's the call from Jasia.

    Call for Submissions! As I mentioned in a previous post, I am asking all who have participated in past editions of the COG to participate in the 100th edition. It's a FAMILY REUNION! There will not be the usual cap of 30 submissions for this edition. Instead there will be a floor of 100! I will not attempt to write comments nor choose a featured author this time around. I'm asking all of you to help me out here and make my dream come true. I would like to have 100 or more submissions from my friends, my COG family members, for this 100th edition. It's a tall order, yes. It hasn't been done before and therein lies the challenge. Can it be done? Only your time and efforts will determine that. I know there are many more than 100 authors who have participated in the previous 99 editions of the COG. I need at least 100 of you to step up and write a blog post to submit to the COG to make my day, my week, my month, and my blogging career. I don't know how many past participants are reading this edition so I'm hoping you'll help me get the word out. Please share this info on FaceBook, Twitter, GeneaBloggers, Second Life, your own blogs, mainstream media, the 4 major TV networks, genealogy conferences, and wherever past COG participants may gather!

    And the topic for the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is... "There's one in every family!" Bring your stories of colorful characters, unique heirlooms, mouth-watering recipes, most dearly beloved pets, whatever! Interpret as you like. Every family has "special" individuals, you know, the ones with a green thumb, the black sheep, the lone wolf, the blue-ribbon cook, the story-teller, the geek! I know you have treasured recipes and amazing heirlooms you've yet to share! Tell us about them and become a part of history in the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy! The deadline for submissions is December 1st.

    Submit your blog article to the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form. Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blog carnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

    UK Medals Rolls Online

     Here's another selection of databases made available by Ancestry in the lead up to November 11.

    UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949
    Lists of more than 2.3 million officers, enlisted personnel and other individuals entitled to medals and awards commemorating their service in campaigns and battles for the British Army between 1793 and 1949. It excludes WWI or WWII medal and award rolls.

    UK, Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972
    Lists of more than 1.5 million officers, enlisted personnel and other individuals entitled to medals and awards commemorating their service with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines between 1793 and 1972, and including WWI or WWII service.
    UK, Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920
    25,000 citations for recipients awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Includes Canadians awarded this, the second highest military honor for non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel. If you don't have Ancestry access try searching gazettes-online.

    09 November 2010

    Findmypast.co.uk adds 233,000 new Australian burial records

    The following an announcement from findmypast.co.uk is noted here as many people born in Britain, and likely more than a few in Canada, are likely to be found in this large database. Run those searches for your strays.
    We have just published 223,160 burial records for Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney, Australia, on findmypast.co.uk 

    These records cover the period 1798 to 1999. This information has been made available online thanks to a mammoth project by the Society of Australian Genealogists, a member of the Federation of Family History Societies.

    In 1981, SAG began a project to publish online the details from all the gravestones in Rookwood Cemetery. The scale of this task can be appreciated by the fact that the cemetery covers more than 777 acres and is widely regarded as the largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere.

    Find your ancestors in these records by searching our parish burial records. Select 'New South Wales' from the county list.

    What will these records tell me?

    When you search these records, in most cases you will be provided with the following information about your ancestors:

    First and last names
    Date of death
    Age at death
    Inscription on gravestone
    Plot No
    Cemetery, place, county and country

    A bonus feature of these records is that in many cases, your results will show you any associated records. This means that you can often find other family members and make family connections that may not otherwise have been possible.

    In most cases, the associated records will comprise the following information: name, date of death, age at death and inscription on the gravestone.

    Find out more about these Rookwood Cemetery records, including the history of the cemetery and the records.

    Search the Rookwood Cemetery burial records today to find your ancestors.

    TNA Podcast: Forgotten WW2 tragedy

    More casualties than in the Titanic, Lusitania and Empress of Ireland disasters combined. More than killed on 9/11.

    As we approach Remembrance Day TNA is timely in posting a podcast from a talk given on the anniversary of the 7 June 1940 sinking of HMT Lancastria while evacuating troops from St Nazaire in France.

    The talk, by Janet Dempsey, recounts the circumstances and attempts to explain why so many who were lost will never be accounted for.

    It's one of the more memorable TNA podcasts I've heard. Listen at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/loss-of-lancastria.htm

    08 November 2010

    More on "Lest We Forget" Workshops

    The following is a press release from Library and Archives Canada.

    OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 11/08/10 -- Today, Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, and the Canadian War Museum are officially announcing a collaborative agreement for the delivery of Lest We Forget workshops across Canada. These workshops allow students to consult and research primary source documents by looking through the military service files of Canadian soldiers, doctors or nurses who served in the First World War or who were killed in action in the Second World War.

    Under the terms of the collaboration, librarians and other trained individuals across Canada will be able to organize and deliver Lest We Forget workshops using the online tools provided by Library and Archives Canada.

    On November 8, Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council will be making a launch announcement at the Burlington Public Library. Additional announcements will be made at the Canadian War Museum on November 9 and at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street on November 10.

    The workshops will be held in four libraries across the country as well as at the Canadian War Museum. Current collaborating libraries include the Burlington Public Library, the Fraser Valley Regional Library, the Winnipeg Public Library, and the Toronto Public Library.

    "We are delighted to see that our Lest We Forget project is being expanded," said Dr. Daniel J. Caron, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. "This new collaboration with the Canadian Urban Libraries Council and the Canadian War Museum will allow students from across Canada to experience a Lest We Forget workshop with a trained facilitator."

    "The opportunity to bring the popular Lest We Forget workshops and have access to these historical files in our buildings is one we are most excited about," notes Carole Lague, Chair of the Canadian Urban Libraries Council.

    "Educating museum visitors and students about the service and sacrifice of Canada's servicemen and women is a vital part of our mandate," stated Mark O'Neill, Director General of the Canadian War Museum. "We are pleased to be part of this collaboration, and to make our resources available to the Lest We Forget project."

    Plans are already under way to expand the workshops to other public libraries and to school boards that wish to participate in the Lest We Forget project.

    The general public can visit Library and Archives Canada to access or to request copies of the military service files of Canadians who served in the First World War. Library and Archives Canada is in the process of forming collaborative agreements to digitize the remaining military service files and to enhance the overall accessibility of these documents for the general public.
    Comment: The initiative is announced, although apparently no workshops have yet been held, for four institutions plus the War Museum. LAC is not mentioned as a venue, something that the organization came under criticism for earlier in the year.