28 February 2011

FreeBMD February Update

The FreeBMD Database was last updated on Sun 27 Feb 2011 and currently contains 197,904,633 distinct records (251,982,964 total records).

Afflicted with taphophilia?

Is the word taphophilia in your everyday vocabulary, a word that trips off your tongue?

Taphophilia is a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries, which might involve epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art and history.

Taphophiles are frequently able to help family historians, it pays to be nice to them.

Recently New Zealand's Clareville Cemetery Taphophile Group helped me find out a bit more about my relative James Lewis, a photographer and inventor from Lancashire who is buried at Claireville, and even helped put me in touch with distant cousins in Australia.

How about declaring Taphophile Day in recognition of the service they provide?

27 February 2011

WDYTYA: Kim Cattrall, and comment

The current popularity of family history, illustrated by the millions of viewers of WDYTYA, is because the program tells good stories about well known people.

Actress Kim Cattrall's episode, shown in the US Who Do You Think You Are? series on NBC and CITY TV in Canada on Friday evening, was a great story. It was a light edit of the UK version. I noticed a deletion, some different voice-overs explaining some of the English references for a US audience, and a bit of sub-titling to clarify words said in a British dialect.

The research behind the discoveries in England was quite simple for anyone who knows their way around the data sources, which obviously the family did not.

Technological tools and good genealogical practices, while essential for genealogical practitioners, are of passing interest to most WDYTYA viewers. That's reflected in numbers; compare the 3,000 people who went to Rootstech in Salt Lake City earlier in the month to the 15,000 to 17,000 expected at WDYTYA Live in London this weekend, many of them crowding in to sessions to hear celebrities.

Contrary to some of the rhetoric surrounding Rootstech, any local family history society that forgets the primacy of people finding out family stories, and focuses solely on technology, is doomed to a niche existence.

Six England and Wales census transcripts now free

FamilySearch.org now have transcripts of all England and Wales censuses from 1841 to 1901, except 1871, free online.

34,136,242 records from 1901 were added on 24 February; 19,178,973 from 1861 on 23 February. You can purchase access to original images through a link to Findmypast.co.uk.

Did I mention searching and viewing the transcripts is free.

26 February 2011

Save on registration for Gene-O-Rama 2011

The end of the month, and  the deadline for early-bird registration for the annual Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society Gene-O-Rama event, 1-2 April, is rapidly approaching.

Speakers this year include Fawne Stratford-Devai, Lesley Anderson, Shirley Ann Pyefinch, Doug Hoddinott, Gilles Magnan and, Kyla Ubbink.

Go to http://ogsottawa.on.ca/ for more information and a link to online registration.

Use of LAC Public Space

The following is an announcement from Library and Archives Canada.

LAC allows organizations to hold their events at 395 Wellington Street. This is in addition to the use of the public space for LAC and other Government of Canada events. For 2011, LAC is at full capacity and not accepting any new reservations.
LAC is currently reviewing the use of public space at 395 Wellington Street. As such, LAC cannot accept reservations for 2012. An announcement as to the use of public space in 2012 will come later this year.
Comment: Many cultural organizations, including genealogical, film, music and others have used LAC for meetings for many years. Change happens, but should not occur without the stakeholders with a longstanding relationship  being consulted in a meaningful way.

25 February 2011

Oliver Morley appointed to head TNA

As seems to have been anticipated, the official announcement has been made that Oliver Morley, who has been acting as head of The (UK) National Archives for a year, has now been appointed permanently to the role, the official title being Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives.

Prior to assuming the acting role he had been TNA's Director, Customer and Business Development. He first joined the organization in 2008 prior to which he had been with Thomson Reuters.

Oliver Morley has a youthful appearance, one veteran genealogist while commenting favourably on his period as acting head, mused that he looked as if he should still be in short trousers.

Follow the link to hear Oliver Morley interviewed late last year on The Challenges Facing The National Archives.

Ancestry in prison

UK, Licences of Parole for Female Convicts, 1853-1871, 1883-1887 is the latest database from Ancestry.co.uk containing original document images on 4,400 female UK prisoners between 1853 and 1887. There are also about 500 photographs for files from 1871 onward.

The records can be searched by:

  • Year of the licence
  • Name
  • Estimated birth year
  • Court and year of conviction
Contents vary 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.

Access information from Ancestry at http://bit.ly/hzfXIX and an article in The Guardian at http://bit.ly/hS1Q5P

ScotlandsPeople extension of validity period and increase in cost of credits

The following is an extract from a press release from ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk

We are pleased to announce that from 1 April 2011, any credits purchased will be valid for one year rather than 90 days. Remember that you do not lose any un-used credits when the period of validity has expired; when you buy more credits they will simply be added to your existing credits.

Since we launched ScotlandsPeople back in 2002 we have kept the cost of 30 credits to £6. We also launched the provision of Extracts for modern statutory records back in 2008 and the cost of an Extract purchased on line has remained at £10.

From 1 April 2011 the cost of 30 credits will rise to £7 and the cost of an Extract will rise to £12. These changes have been necessary to help fund the flexibility and availability of our services as well as fund the cost of providing an Extract and were approved by the Scottish Parliament through the Registration Services (Fees) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2010.

Please note that it will still cost 1 credit to view up to 25 indexes and 5 credits to view an image of the statutory or census records. It will also cost 5 credits to view the page for the forthcoming 1911 census when it is released on 5 April 2011.

We believe that the ScotlandsPeople website is unrivalled for the range of records available to help people trace their Scottish ancestry. However, in order to maintain our quality service it has been necessary to increase our costs.
Thanks to Hugh Reekie for passing along this information

Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England 1845

Ancestry have added a version of this sometimes interesting reference for places in your English family history. You can learn basic geographic facts of the time for many, but not all, places.  

Various editions of the Lewis dictionary are available free through the Internet Archive (texts) and Google Books.

 Find the Ancestry version at: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2186

A day at TNA

On Thursday I spent the day at the UK National Archives following some research interests, attending a lecture and taking part in a special tour.

I had ordered a legal document from the 1850s, related to an investigation of some indentures rescued almost half a century ago from being trashed as a church in Quebec was being cleared. I'd ordered well in advance and there was a three day delivery period on the records. Their permanent storage is in an old salt mine in Cheshire which supposedly provides ideal environmental conditions. Apparently fish aren't the only things that can be preserved by salt!

Although I didn't get to read the legal file in detail I did take photos for later examination.

After lunch I took a quick peek in the bookstore, flipped through Chris Paton's book on Scottish genealogy which shared selk space with several others on the same topic, then went upstairs to attend a presentation by Bruce Durie, course director for genealogical studies at the University of Strathclyde. He also has a book on that shelf.

In a talk which was both information and entertaining Durie spoke on Scottish testaments (wills). As mentioned on the blog recently, he is lecturing in Guelph on April 1, and based on what I heard at TNA it's a session I would highly recommend.

Afterwards I was invited to join a tour of TNA for US visitors in London for the WDYTYA event. The tour was organized and conducted by Audrey Collins, seen here on the first floor at TNA (second floor in North American terms) speaking to a tired looking Dick Eastman, he only got off the plane nine hours earlier, and President Laura G Prescott of the Association of Professional Genealogists, with Craig Scott CG from Heritage Books, Inc looking on.

According to TNA staff the building was busy, as it often is on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and extra busy as it was also UK half-term (spring break), there was a tour group from the University of Strathclyde and people going to WDYTYA.

24 February 2011

New Zealand cancels census

A press release from the New Zealand Government following the tragic earthquake in Christchurch..
"The Govt has confirmed the census has been cancelled.
“This is not the time to go door to door asking New Zealanders for information when they’re dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake,” says Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson.
“It’s unthinkable that we would ask this of people. It would be an unfair burden and distraction at a time when they are grieving.”
Govt statistician Geoff Bascand says Statistics NZ will be investigating the "feasibility of alternative options".
The census has been cancelled only twice before – in 1931, during the Great Depression, and 1941, during World War II.


Comment: It's strange that the census would be cancelled, not just postponed.

Thanks to Marian Press for the information.

LAC abdicates responsibility

In a legal hearing on the release of documents relating to security monitoring of former New Demoscratic Party leader and "Greatest Canadian" Tommy Douglas, Paul Champ, lawyer for The Canadian Press, claimed that Library and Archives appears to have relied entirely on security service (CSIS) advice, abdicating its responsibility to weigh the alleged risks to national security against public interest in historically significant documents.

Judge Simon Noel also expressed concern that an appropriate balance had not been found, leaning too far toward protecting secrecy around decades-old intelligence and insufficiently toward the public right to access to historically significant materials as an asset to society.

Government lawyer Gregory Tzemenakis announced that additional materials from the Douglas file would be released, so confirming that the balance had been inappropriate. Nevertheless large part of the Douglas file is still being withheld. 

The hearing is covered by various media reports including from CTV News at http://bit.ly/ejvzOz

Comment: Part of LAC's mandate is to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. Instead, all too often, its approach is that by default information should not be released. Instead the burden of proof should rest on those who would deny access, and not just for documentation on historically significant figures like Douglas. Records relating to ordinary Canadians of interest for family history, such as 75 year old passenger lists, should be being made available by LAC.

TNA Podcast: Follow that lead: from census entry to Google maps

Chris Watts, whose genealogy presentations are always informative, explores locating a family in one of the census returns and finding out where the property in which they lived is located, and what it looked like?

Unfortunately the sound quality on this presentation from the 6th of May 2010 is very variable, and the talk is much less useful without the visual aids used during the live presentation.


Bunhill Fields Cemetery Given Grade I Protected Status

Bunhill Fields Cemetery, just off City Road, is also one London's most hallowed burial grounds, containing the tombs of some of England's greatest writers.

It is now listed as Grade I which puts Bunhill, the pre-eminent graveyard for Nonconformists in England, in the top 10% of England's 106 registered cemeteries, and makes it part of an elite group of seven grade l registered cemeteries in London.

Bunhill is on this map of London cemeteries, and about half a mile from the Society of Genealogists building.

View London Cemeteries in a larger map

The new listings include those of John Bunyan (Grade ll*), author of Pilgrim's Progress, Daniel Defoe (Grade ll*), author of Robinson Crusoe, and the visionary poet and artist William Blake (Grade ll), whose works include Songs of Innocence and Experience and whose poem Jerusalem became the popular hymn

 The full information from English Heritage is at: Oasis of City Calm: Bunhill Fields Cemetery Given Grade I Protected Status

23 February 2011

NBC announces a third season of WDYTYA

Another, third, season of the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? has been booked by NBC.  

A press release notes that "Season two of "Who Do You Think You Are?" is off to a solid start, averaging a 1.4 rating, 5 share in adults 18-49 and 7.0 million viewers overall over its first two weeks, making it NBC's #1 Friday series so far this season in total viewers. Over those opening two weeks, "Who Do You Think You Are?" was #1 in the time period in all key female demos while scoring NBC's highest 18-49 and total-viewer results in the Friday 8-9 p.m. (ET) slot since October 8. Upcoming episodes will feature Kim Cattrall, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lionel Richie, Ashley Judd and Steve Buscemi."

Read the press release at http://bit.ly/eP7DOq

Clifford Duxbury Collier - RIP

News of the loss of a Toronto-based librarian, archivist and genealogist, who made significant contributions to the Ontario Genealogical Society. Thanks to Brenda Dougall Merriman for the information.
COLLIER, Clifford Duxbury - Cliff died peacefully at Toronto Grace Hospital, February 21, 2011. It is fitting that he passed away on Family Day - he leaves a large and loving family of friends, along with a rich legacy. Born in Toronto in 1929 to Percy and Mary Alice (Duxbury) Collier, Cliff was a passionate Canadian and Torontonian. He played an important role in Canada's dance history. In the 1940's he joined Boris Volkoff's pioneering Canadian Ballet Company, and he later performed with the Ottawa Civic Ballet. Cliff taught at dance schools in Toronto and London, ON; choreographed many high school musicals; published works on Canadian dance resources; and inspired young dancers through his talent, enthusiasm and kindness. In his forties, Cliff fulfilled a dream by enrolling at York University, going on to earn a master's in library science. He established himself as an archivist and records manager, working for two royal commissions. Cliff was a proud member of the Ontario Genealogical Society. He lectured, created the society's library database, and served as education coordinator for the Toronto branch. An enthusiastic Janeite, he was actively involved in the Toronto chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America and was an authority on dance in the Regency period. For many years, Cliff shared his volunteer time between the genealogical society and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. Cliff touched countless lives in innumerable ways. He will also be remembered as an avid cat lover. Special thanks to St. Michael's Hospital, whose staff added quality to Cliff's last years; and to Toronto Grace Hospital, which allowed him to leave this world with the same gentle dignity that defined his life. Donations in Cliff's memory may be made to either hospital or to an animal rescue organization. An online guestbook is located at www.thestar.com A memorial gathering will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2 to 4 p.m., at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 34 Isabella Street, Toronto.

Victoria Cross Library to Ontario`s Prince Edward County

The news of the transfer of this unique collection from the UK is reported in the Kingston Whig Standard.

AMELIASBURGH -- One of the most prestigious military libraries is now calling Prince Edward County home.
National Defence Minister Peter MacKay was in Ameliasburgh last week with MP Daryl Kramp to complete the transfer of the Victoria Cross Library from Britain to the Marilyn Adams Genealogical Research Centre.
"This is a historic day for this community and there is much living history here," he said. "Which is why I am so grateful for the work you are doing -- to preserve, to promote, to educate -- not only about (the military history) of this community, but the entire country as well."
"The Victoria Cross Library: The Facts Behind the Men Behind the Medals" was compiled by UK historian Tom Johnson and, according to Ian Reilly, president of 7th Town Historical Society, contains 1,356 books, "some very small and others very large."
Read the remainder of the article here.

Thanks to Stephaine Stone for correcting my geography, Prince Edward County, NOT Prince Edward Island 

HSO February Meeting

The next meeting of the Historical Society of Ottawa features a presentation by Anna Bilsky "A Common Thread: A History of Jews in Ottawa". The meeting, on Friday, February 25, starts at 1pm at the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Gigues Ave in Ottawa.

Workshop with Dr. Bruce Durie

On 1 April 2011 Scottish Studies in the Department of History at the Univeristy of Guelph is sponsoring a genealogy workshop with Dr. Bruce Durie.

Durie is course director of Genealogical Studies at Strathclyde University, author of Scottish Genealogy, and a frequent contributor to the BBC Radio Scotland program "Digging Up Your Roots."

The session is in the MacKinnon Building, 132, from 10am - 3pm, is free but email < scottish@uoguelph.ca > to reserve a space.

22 February 2011

Behind the new Ottawa City Archives

Entering off Tallwood, to the west end of the new building, is the distribution centre for the Ottawa Public Library where materials will be taken to be moved between library branches.

Note that exterior cladding is still not in place.

Three loading docks, nominally two to the left for the OPL system and one for the Archives, seem only to be waiting for cleanup to be ready for service.

These photos were taken on 21 February 2011

Which genealogy social network?

There is a bewildering array of genealogy-themed social networks on the web, and even debate about what constitutes such a network. According to Cyndi's List:

Social networking for genealogy most often refers to the ability to build, share, and interact with online family trees. However, the breadth or depth of the online tools vary across the board. Some tools also offer other features of social networking such as sharing photos or creating calendars and timelines.
Your need may be best met by a site that emphasises one particular aspect, so there's no one size fits all site. Perhaps a general social network site, or a genealogy mailing list such as one of the Rootsweb sites, will best meet your need.

Here is my selection of top sites from Cyndi's social network category sorted according to Alexa ranking.
The Top Five

My Heritage Alexa Rank: 3,363;  Compete Rank: 1,398
Israel-based MyHeritage.com claims to be the most popular family network on the web. It operates in 36 languages, 50 million members, over 700 million profiles, 17 million family trees, 103 million photos and 50 employees.

Geni  Alexa Rank: 7,498; Compete Rank: 4,016
Based in Los Angeles, California, Geni claims to be the leading collaborative genealogy platform with users from around the world working together to build a single, comprehensive family tree currently containing nearly 50 million ancestors and living users and over 100 million profiles.

Family Link  Alexa Rank: 34,888; Compete Rank: 1,946
Provo, Utah based, the company is headed by CEO and Board Chair Paul Allen, a serial genealogy entrepreneur (Ancestry, WorldVitalRecords). It claims to have "60 million users already using the #1 social family network" with 500 million family connections, 20 million monthly active users and 3.6 billion indexed names.

Genes Reunited  Alexa Rank: 37,111; Compete Rank: 102,782
Ranked as the No.1 family website based on market share of visits among all UK websites in a July - December 2010 survey, it currently has over 10 million members worldwide and over 750 million names listed. It is part of Brightsolid, which also boasts Findmypast.co.uk and has the franchise for scotlandspeople.gov.uk.

Genealogy Wise Alexa Rank: 466,548; Compete Rank: 109,205
Recently acquired by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, managing director Louise St Denis, leading Canadian genealogical entrepreneur, the site has 23, 878 members. The site is distinct in leveraging its link with the Institute, including by offering a free course on Social Media for the Wise Genealogist covers social media tools vital to today’s genealogical research including social networking sites, RSS, bookmarking, and more beginning on March 15th, 2011. To register, see the National Institute’s website at www.genealogicalstudies.com.


Efamily, incorporates Famiva  Alexa Rank: 925,537; Compete Rank: 925,314
Living Genealogy (beta)  Alexa Rank: 2,388,939
Lost Cousins   Alexa Rank: 2,458,434; Compete Rank: 705,620
Arcalife Alexa Rank: 2,462,500; Compete Rank: 1,268,739
My Great Big Family  Alexa Rank: 2,661,144; Compete Rank: 987,782

Burial records for Canada's National Cemetery added by Ancestry.ca

You can now search burial records at Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery which is Canada's National Cemetery, National Military Cemetery and RCMP National Memorial Cemetery.

The information is quite comprehensive, but remember that the informant for burial information is not always well placed to have exact details. Here's what Ancestry have to say about the records:

The five burial ledgers digitized in this database document interments at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario, from 1873 to 1990. The ledgers also contain names for some people who died before 1873 (as early as 1821) whose remains were later moved to Beechwood.
Beechwood Cemetery was established in 1873 on a rural site outside of Ottawa. Though it began as a Protestant cemetery, it grew to reflect the multicultural character of Canada itself and now includes a Chinese and other ethno-cultural sections.
In 2001 the cemetery became the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces. The RCMP National Memorial Cemetery was established at Beechwood in 2004. And in 2009 Beechwood was designated the National Cemetery of Canada. Beechwood is the last resting place of statesmen, veterans and war dead, historical and sports figures, as well as “everyday” Canadians, including plumbers, farmers, housewives, and waiters.
The interment records are indexed by name, death date, birth date, birthplace, and parents' names. Depending on the year, ledger pages may also include the following information:
  • last residence
  • occupation
  • gender
  • disease or cause of death
  • date of interment
  • place of interment
  • funeral director or undertaker
  • informant (relative or friend)
  • informant’s relationship to the deceased
Please note that interment records are spread over two pages in the ledger books. When viewing the images, be sure to browse to the next image to find additional information about the deceased individual.

Some of the prominent people buried at Beechwood are:
Sir Robert Borden: 8th Prime Minister of Canada;
Tommy Douglas: politician, voted "The Greatest Canadian";
Sir Sandford Fleming: Scottish-born Canadian engineer and inventor who proposed the global system of standard time zones;
Sir Cecil Spring-Rice: British ambassador to the US during WW1

Here is his entry, across two pages:

He was author of the words used for the hymn I Vow to Thee My Country (sung at the funeral of Princess Diana)

21 February 2011

Family Chronicle: March-April 2011

TOP MONEY SAVING SITES FOR GENEALOGY! featured on the front cover of the new issue of Family Chronicle is an article I turned to soon after my subscription issue dropped in my mail box.

Gena Phillibert Ortega gives money saving suggestions for accessing commercial databases. The access is free, you'll likely have to travel locally to obtain it. She also recommends software and education resources which are free with web access. Money saving travel, restaurant and even grocery shopping tips, all useful if you're pursuing your family history away from home, round out the article. Family Chronicle provides a sample here.

Gena's article is on page 8. I'd first turned to page 6 to see in print my review of Glenn Wright's book "Canadians at War" which the editor's subhead termed a "fantastic new resource."

Browse the full table of contents for this issue, which has articles by George G Morgan, Leland K Meitzler and Leslie Albrecht Huber and many others, at http://www.familychronicle.com/

20 February 2011

Map your voice

From the British Library comes Map Your Voice. Follow the link and click on a red dot on the map to play a clip of a person in that location reading a short children's text. Click a green dot to hear six words "controversy, garage, neither, scone, schedule, attitude" spoken by people, often not natives of the area.

How did your immigrant ancestors pronunciation change? From my own experience pronunciation can shift fairly quickly to that of the community in which you are immersed. When I moved to Colorado in the 70s I soon found myself saying zee rather than zed, and equally quickly changed back on return.

You can also contribute your own recording.

Map your voice is part of the British Library's Evolving English exhibit online.

Elizabeth Shown Mills in Toronto

A reminder about the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists' event with Elizabeth Shown Mills on 2 April at the North York Central Library (Toronto Public Library).

You can read about Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FAGS, FNGS, FUGA, one of the America's most influential genealogists, the presentations she will be giving and find a link to register at: http://www.ocapg.org/shown_mills.html

I have my reservation and hope to meet other blog reads, and writers, there. I will also be celebrating with a posting on a little known benefit of the Genealogical Proof Standard at around the time of the event.

19 February 2011

Rosie O'Donnell in Montreal for WDYTYA

The third in episode in the second US series of Who Do You Think You Are? saw US personality Rosie O'Donnell's journey of exploration of her mother's ancestry take her to Montreal.

She was first in a Catholic church where she examined original parish records. The same information might well be found online through the Drouin collection.

Then she went to l'ANQ, the Archives Nationales du Québec, where she examined census records. It was a site chosen for visual impact as it is not the repository of the originals. Anyone could examine that source online.

The final Montreal stop was the Grande Bibliothèque where she found the one record of the place of birth for her ancestor, in a newspaper death announcement on microfilm, which was localized the place to search in Ireland.. This is likely the one source not yet available online, a realistic reflection of the situation regarding digitization of Canadian newspaper records.

The census record showed some children of the family born in Ireland, some in Canada. The baptismal records of the children in Ireland allowed her to discover the exact parish of origin and an entry in Poor Law records showing the family being emigrated to Canada from the workhouse.

All in all the show showed O'Donnell following a reasonably convincing trail of investigation. It would be nice if for once they would mention the actual amount of effort needed, as well as showing the obligatory few turns of the microfilm handle by the Star.

Deceased Online adds Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, cemetery burial records

The following is from deceasedonline.com

Approximately 40,000 burial records from Cheshunt and Hoddeson in the Borough of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, are online, comprising burial register scans, associated computerised indexes and an ever increasing number of memorial images. Cemetery maps showing the exact location of each grave are expected to be added in the future. These records cover all burials dating back to 1855 when the first cemetery was opened.

View Broxbourne Cemeteries on Deceased Online in a larger map
Cheshunt, Bury Green Cemetery
25,291 burials, dated 7 December 1855 to 25 February 2003, are available as burial register scans in various formats with between 10 and 20 entries per scanned page. In addition 2,100 recent burials are available as computerised data only.

Hoddeson, Ware Road Cemetery
11,221 burials, dated 16 February 1883 to 20 February 2003, are available as burial register scans in various formats with between 10 and 20 entries per scanned page. In addition 1,100 recent burials are available as computerised data only.
Also included are 34 burials from St Monica's Priory that were re-interred at Hoddeson Cemetery on September 15th 1969.

18 February 2011

54,722 new Lincolnshire parish marriage index records on findmypast.co.uk

From the Lincolnshire Family History Society, via findmypast.co.uk, come 54,722 marriage record indexes for the period 1700 to 1837. The 139 parishes included are: 



Measuring worth

Today's value of an amount of money from the past, perhaps in a will or salary, has been delved into a couple of time on the blog. At the last BIFHSGO meeting member John Chatterley handed me a printout of pages from < www.measuringworth.com >.  The source looks to be worth bookmarking.

Prominent on the site first page is "Measuring Worth Is a Complicated Question." I believe it, and one measure of the credibility of the information presented is that the principals are both Professors of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, backed up by a seemingly credible advisory board of academic economists. Did I really write credible and economist in the same sentence!

The content of interest to most of us will be THE CALCULATORS and DATA SETS
£3.90 using the retail price index
£4.03 using the GDP deflator
£8.65 using the average earnings
£9.96 using the per capita GDP
£11.50 using the share of GDP

Seems like there's plenty of scope, a factor three over half a century, for debate.

Unfortunately there is no Canadian data at the site.

Visitors' parking at The (UK) National Archives

Here's a pleasant surprise, in these times when prices are escalating and services being cut in the U, TNA is deferring the implementation of parking fees. Here's the press release, just in time for my next visit.
In 2009, we announced our intention to charge for our visitors' car park as part of a wider savings exercise. However, we delayed the implementation date as we were dissatisfied with the technical solution offered to manage our car park bookings, as it did not meet our rigorous customer service standards. The technical problems have now been resolved but the intervening 18-month period since the original announcement has provided an opportunity to reassess our financial position, and we have therefore decided to extend the free parking period.
We will keep the situation under review. However, assuming there are no new external pressures, we anticipate the free parking period will continue for 12 months.

17 February 2011

Quarrier Children from Glasgow

There will be a presentation entitled “Scottish Home Children”, to be given by Lorraine & Gordon Reoch - who are both BIFHSGO and St Andrew's Society members, from Vernon, Ontario  - on Sunday 20th February at 2.30pm, at The Olde Forge Community Centre,  2730 Carling at Richmond in Ottawa. Details are shown below. 

A Scots tea will be provided afterwards. No charge for the presentation; a $5 voluntary donation for the 4 pm tea is suggested. Reservations appreciated - Hugh or Frances Reekie  - 613-728-5343 - h.reekie at ieee.org

Scottish Home Children  

The story of William Quarrier, his determination to help others, and the story of four home children that he sent to Osgoode Township, Ontario.  The four children - three boys and a girl - were orphaned at an early age and sent to Quarrier homes in Glasgow, Scotland.  Their next journey was to Canada -  with over a hundred other boys and girls.  Some placements were great -  but some left a lot to be desired.

Complaints about archives

How easy is it to register a complaint about an archives you use, in the physical or virtual world? The question was provoked by reading a user consultation report from the UK National Archives - see the item as part of a meeting agenda here.

As it isn't practical to visit various archives I went on a virtual world tour to investigate online means of filing a complaint.

The (UK) National Archives
The TNA front page has a link "Have your say". There you find the information that:

Your views are important to us.
You can give us your feedback in a number of ways.
If you have any questions, suggestions or complaints about our services, please use our contact form.

The comments form has several mandatory fields. Complaints are acknowledged within three working days and responded to fully within ten, where possible. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response, they can escalate the issue, including the option to submit it to an Independent Complaints Reviewer."

National Archives of Scotland 
The "Contact Us" link on the main page brings up a page near the bottom of which are links to avenues for various complaints which include clear service standards.

Library and Archives Canada
Clicking on the :Contact Us" link on the LAC front page leads to a page, toward the bottom of which is a sub-heading "Comments."

It states that "To submit a comment on the content of this site, or to report a technical problem, please contact webservices@lac-bac.gc.ca." Clicking that link opens an email page with your default email address and the LAC address already entered. No service standard for feedback is given.

(US) National Archives and Records Administration
There are three "Contact Us" links from the organization front page which lead to a page stating "The National Archives welcomes your questions, comments, suggestions, compliments, and complaints as one critical way to continuously improve our services to you."

Scrolling down on that page, or clicking the link in the left hand column, provides a form in which complaints may be registered. You have the option of providing contact details if you want a response. NARA was the only archives that seemed ready to accept anonymous feedback. There is no indication of a service standard for response.

National Archives of Australia
"Contact Us" is found in a drop down menu from "About Us."  This leads to a page with the text "You are welcome to give us feedback about this website. It leads to a page "We welcome your comments and suggestions" and a form which cannot be sent anonymously. There is no indication of a service standard for response.

Archives New Zealand 
A complaints procedure is documented on the web site under "Our Services." There is no procedure for online complaints. There is a clearly documented procedure for mailing complaints with a service standard specified.

Archives of Ontario
From the main English archives page there is a prominent link from "Feedback" and another link from "Contact Us." A service standard for acknowledgement within two working days is given but there is no indication of a standard for a substantive response.

Comment:  While it was not difficult to find out how to file a complaint on the websites for all the archives visited only the two UK sites indicated a service standard for a substantive response to online complaints.

Quinte OGS Branch February Meeting

Quinte Branch of OGS hold their Annual General Meeting as part of their monthly on Saturday February 19, 1 pm at the Quinte West City Hall Library, Trenton. There will also be an open discussion on "how fellow genealogists handle the tidal waves of notes, documents and electronic ways to store things. How much should we keep and where do we keep it?"

The following Saturday, 26 February there will be a one day course on Family Tree Maker 2010 given by Wayne Wickson at Loyalist College, Belleville.

Information on these events is at: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canqbogs/meetings.htm

Saturday 19 Feb 2011 Quinte OGS Branch Meeting & AGM

Drowning in paper? Have your ancestors' lives taken over your den and your dining room table?

Come to our monthly meeting for an open discussion on how fellow genealogists handle the tidal waves of notes, documents and electronic ways to store things. How much should we keep and where do we keep it?

Venue: Quinte West City Hall Library
7 Creswell Drive, Trenton, Ontario
1:00 pm
Saturday 26 Feb 2011 Loyalist College, Belleville

Family Tree Maker 2010, One Day Course
Instructor Wayne Wickson

16 February 2011

Bank of England Wills Extracts Index can now be searched on findmypast.co.uk

Findmypast.co.uk have just completed the final addition of records from the Society of Genealogists, 60,523 Bank of England Wills Extracts.

"These records cover the period 1717-1845. They contain extracts of wills of those who died with monies in public funds, as well as abstracts of orders made for stockholders who went bankrupt or were declared 'lunatic'.

One of the best features of these records is that they cover a wide social demographic, from servants to gentry, making it possible to find ancestors from a broad range of backgrounds. The records cover every part of the British Isles and the Colonies and there are also several hundred Dutch fundholders in the index.

This record launch completes our exciting project to publish over 9 million Society of Genealogists records on findmypast.co.uk."

There is more information on these records at www.findmypast.co.uk/content/sog/wills-extracts

Comment: There are relatively few entries from the North of England.

Momentum building for release of Irish 1926 census

The Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations campaign for release of the Republic's first census after independance has received a boost. Fine Gael included in its manifesto for the General Election that it would "examine the feasibility of releasing the 1926 census to stimulate genealogy tourism.”

While a committment to examine isn't a strong endorsement just getting a mention in a platform is progress.

Read more at < www.cigo.ie/news.html >.  There is an  online petition at < http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/1926C >.

Leave a Legacy

On 11 May Canadians will be asked to count themselves in again by completing the short-form census.

Even though the form is considered, even by this government, to be non-obtrusive you will still have to indicate a positive decision about making your 2011 Census information available in 2103 (92 years after the census).

Genealogists and family historians understand the importance of the census. Please encourage your relatives and friends to make a positive decision.

Societies, family history businesses and fellow bloggers can help by encouraging their members, clients and readers to Leave a Legacy. and Tick Yes.

Guild of One-Name Studies: special offer

The following is a press release from the Guild of One-Name Studies

The Guild of One-Name Studies is to offer a special extended membership to new joiners at the forthcoming Who Do You Think You Are? Live show being held in the UK at the Olympia, London on Friday 25th to Sunday 27th February 2011.

Normally membership of the Guild costs £15.00 and covers a period of up to a year with renewal on 1st November 2011. This special extended membership will cost £20.00 but will include a full year's extra membership, renewal not being due until 1st November 2012. The aim of the scheme is to attract more new members and to encourage these members to stay with the Guild for longer and to appreciate and utilise the various benefits available to members.

For people who cannot attend the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show, the special offer of an extended membership will be made available to them for a week from when the show opens on Friday 25th February 2011 on the Guild website at: www.one-name.org/specialoffer.html


For those of us not in the UK some of the benefits, like meetings, are not so important.

I asked Elizabeth Kipp, who is Eastern Canada Regional Representative for the Guild, what she finds to be the main benefits of her membership.

Elizabeth mentioned member access to an excellent forum to share ideas, online databases contributed by members, and a journal of excellent articles four times per year. For those into DNA for genealogy, like Elizabeth, the Guild co-ordinates with DNA testing companies to set up one name yDNA studies.

You can reach Elizabeth at:   < kippeeb at rogers.com >.

15 February 2011

Eastman on RootsTech

After the over-the-top tweets and other opinions expressed about the recently-concluded RootsTech event in Salt Lak City, Dick Eastman has an enthusiastic yet factual summary. Worth the read at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2011/02/3000-genealogists-at-the-rootstech-conference-with-pictures.html

Roots 2011

With the wind roaring, temperature dropping and most of us ready to see the back of winter, it seems like a good time to look ahead a few months to one of the landmark Canadian genealogical events of the year.

I'm referring to the Quebec Family History Society ROOTS 2011 conference being held June 3- 5 at McGill University.

The QFHS folks have a reputation for putting on a conference with substantive presentations and a pleasant social atmosphere. I'm giving two presentations, as are my BIFHSGO colleagues Lesley Anderson and Glenn Wright, so I'd only be slightly biased in thinking the 2011 edition is sure to live up to its reputation?

There is an opening event at the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal where Louise St. Denis will speak "from the heart" on "It's a Wonderful Genealogy Life  ~ Dreams do come true!" Now that the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, of which Louise is Managing Director, has expanded the enterprise by taking over the genealogy social network Genealogy Wise I expect this talk to be especially interesting.

Find details of the conference, and online registration, at http://www.qfhs.ca/roots_2011_program.shtml

Heritage Ottawa’s Bob and Mary Anne Phillips Memorial Lecture

Changing Approaches to Theory and Practice in the Conservation Field: A Willowbank Perspective

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm
The Old Fire Hall, 260 Sunnyside Ave., east of Bank St.

Willowbank school in Queenston, Ontario offers a new direction for professional training in conservation. Julian Smith, one of Canada’s best known conservation architects, will discuss the school’s philosophy and its use of a cultural landscape framework to shape emerging trends in the conservation field.  Free admission. 

This lecture is Heritage Ottawa’s Sixth Annual Bob and Mary Anne Phillips Memorial Lecture.
Info: 613-230-8841 or www.heritageottawa.org

14 February 2011

OPL: there's an app for that

If you're an iPhone or iPod Touch user you can now download a free app for Ottawa Public Library system services. Search the catalog, find the nearest branch that has a copy, reserve and renew books - you can do most things possible on the web catalog.

The app was developed by Bibliocommons. Ottawa is only the second library system to install it, after Edmonton which was the testbed.

Apparently apps for other platforms are on their way.

Rootstech seen distantly via tweets

The Rootstech conference in Salt Lake City is over. Participants are dispersing. All I'm seeing is favourable comments, people committing to return, and folks who didn't go saying they intend to next year.

I've been casually following the event on Twitter, a few blog posts, and watched one webinar that fit into my schedule.

I doubt that I was able to read about more than a fraction of the many technological goodies on display and the announcements. One that did especially catch my attention, through tweets from Audrey Collins , was a session on "Digitizing the British Newspaper archives" given by Chris van der Kuyl who is CEO of Brightsolid. 

Paraphrasing Audrey's tweets, in a project the company sees as high risk it will be digitizing material from the British Library newspaper repository for pre-1902 regional and specialist newspapers.  Five specialist scanners will digest a page in 16 seconds, up to size A0, 24-bit colour, 400dpi, 8k pages a day, 1.6 TB a day total. They are seeking feedback from the genealogy community.

Hopefully Audrey will eventually have more detail on her blog The Family Recorder

It's passing strange that the information conveyed from one Brit to another in Salt Lake City.

There were a number of tweets along the lines of "technology will kill off societies", "with more of these types of conferences and virtual access, genealogy societies are becoming extinct", "if your society is producing a print publication, you are delivering an inferior, outdated product". and "Get on the bus or be left in the dust."

There's a kind of group-think that takes hold when self-selected enthusiasts gather. They're inclined to see the world the same way, and hearing interesting ideas eloquently expressed leads the group further along the selected pathway.

Let's not forget that there are many members of local family history societies who are not technology mavens and don't want to be. Even more are interested in technology as a tool to use in pursuing their family history passion, not as a passion in and of itself. Family history societies that go overboard on the technology part of IT and lose sight of the fact that it's the genealogy part most of us are interested in, risk seeing a substantial reduction in membership as people are turned off.  

For the time being providing hard copy print publications are essential, not an "inferior outdated product." The joy of today's technology is that there's no reason why societies can't provide a choice between electronic and hard copy publication versions.

For another distant view of Rootstech, one with a more analytical view, see Randy Seaver's article here.

Ottawa Branch OGS February Meeting

Tuesday 15 February 2011: 7:00 p.m. Room 156

Library & Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa: Room 156

Topic: It Happened in Canada, Book two

Speaker: Author Emily-Jane Orford, will speak about her recent book, which takes a unique look into the lives of extraordinary Canadians.

13 February 2011

OGS members invited to join new British Home Children SIG

The following is an announcement from the Ontario Genealogical Society.
Last year, 2010, was the year of the British Home Child. Over 100,000 orphaned children were sent to Canada between the 1860s and 1930s.

Many Ontario genealogists have found they have a family connection with a home child and many more will learn this as they continue their research.

As OGS commemorated the year we developed the idea of forming a Special Interest Group (SIG) focused on the British Home Children.

This group is now starting up and we're looking for all interested people to join in and share their skills and enthusiasm to continue the growth of the group.

The British Home Child SIG has been formed with the following tentative goals in mind.
To bring together genealogy researchers who have like interests in British Home Children (BHC) to share their research experiences.
To encourage possible descendants of BHC to investigate their ancestry.
To raise awareness of the history and contribution of the BHC in Canada.
To identify resources for research on individual BHC.
To identify resources for research into the social conditions in the UK and Canada which influenced the lives of the BHC

If you are interested in meeting others who share your interest in Home Children, or if you have ideas to shape this group further please contact OGS Vice President Shirley Sturdevant at vp@ogs.on.ca to find out how to get involved.

Comment: Everyone can take advantage of the long-running Rootsweb Britishhomechildren mailing list including checking out the archives at:



Other significant websites for homechildren resources and links are: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tweetybirdgenealogy/homechild.html
and www.bifhsgo.ca

BIFHSGO February Meeting

Mentioning breaking attendance records is getting to be routine for BIFHSGO meetings. Saturday's attendence of 225 was another instance. Although the auditorium at Library and Archives Canada can hold quite a few more the lobby looked crowded for the pre-meeting social get together.

The forenoon talk was based on the book "Beneath my Feet: the memoirs of George Mercer Dawson" which is a posthumously written "autobiography" channeled through Phil Jenkins and based on a collection of Dawson's letters. Jenkins, kept the audience in turn and often simultaneously informed and entertained with the back story, a description of Dawson's family background, reading extracts from the book and recounting interesting asides.

The picture shows Jenkins donating a copy of his book for the BIFHSGO library to librarian Betty Warburton.

For my geographically challenged friends

Speaking to a group of friends after yesterday's BIFHSGO meeting I was surprised to learn that despite having posted frequent updates on the progress of the new City of Ottawa Archives building at Woodroffe and Tallwood some of them don't know where that is. Assuming that they were sufficiently geographically savvy to find their way home and check out this posting, perhaps this map will help.

View New Ottawa City Archives in a larger map

12 February 2011

Book Review: Education and Ontario Family History

The latest book in the Genealogist's Reference Shelf series from Dundurn Press and the Ontario Genealogical Society is a guide to Ontario educational resources for genealogists and historians by Marian Press.

Marian is one of the best-known genealogists in Ontario, a frequent lecturer in the province, including at BIFHSGO next month. It would be hard to think of anyone better placed to write this volume as she is also a longtime librarian at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education..

If someone of interest for your family history was in the Ontario education system, as student or teacher, you'll benefit from consulting this book. Its six chapters are:
  1. Where the Resources Reside
  2. Students in Ontario Schools
  3. Schools
  4. Teachers and Teaching
  5. Curriculum and Textbooks
  6. Post-secondary Education

As a librarian Marian knows about bibliographies, and there's no lack of sources given both for books and archival material. As an internet expert Marian knows about online sources and the book includes numerous references to Internet Archive materials.

I know little about Ontario education, the modest amount I know, particularly in the Ottawa area, is well covered. There are some interesting diversions, always welcome when reviewing a reference book, such as mini-biography of John George Hodgins. The only thing missing, in common with several other volumes in the series, is an index.

A generous Google preview extract is linked from the Dundurn Press page for this book at www.dundurn.com/books/education_and_ontario_family_history,

Ontario professionals in the genealogical and allied historical communities will want to have ready access to this volume. Others in the Ontario genealogical community will want to browse to understand the vast amount of material available and consult it from a reference collection when the occasion demands. It would be a poor genealogical library, or significant public library, in the Province that did not keep a copy in their collection.

The cover price is $19.99. It sells for $ 14.43 at amazon.ca.

Disclosure:  This review is based on a copy provided by Dundurn Press.

Top 50 websites?

"Government sites, general reference sites, newspapers and sites like Wikipedia and Google were excluded."

This line from the listing of "50 helpful genealogical websites," selected by Kory Meyerink of ProGenealogists.com and published in the Mormon Times, explains why this seems like an odd mixture. They are certainly far from the top sites that I use, several I've never heard of, likely owing to their US orientation..

Here are the top 20.

Rank — Website — Coverage/content (past rankings)
1. Ancestry.com $ - Ancestry.com is the leading genealogical data site and includes articles, instruction and reference help. (1>1>1)
2. MyHeritage.com - Focuses on genealogy community building and networking. (3>3>3)
3. FindAGrave.com - This database of 57 million cemetery inscriptions adds about a million per month and often includes tombstone photos. (7>7>7)
4. FamilySearch.org - This major data website sponsored by the LDS Church includes the IGI, census records, the library’s catalog and a growing collection of historical records from throughout the world, along with instruction and reference help. (4>5>5)
5. Genealogy.com $ - A major data site, includes family trees, instruction and reference help. (5>2>4)
6. Geni.com – Free, with the world’s largest collaborative family. (31>8>18)
7. MyFamily.com - Hosts family websites for sharing photos, genealogy and more. (33>5>5)
8. FamilyLink.com $ - One of the most popular Facebook applications helps people identify and network with their family and search billions of records. (2>80>72)
9. RootsWeb.com – One of the largest, free, user-contributed data sites, includes 575 million names in family trees, also instruction and reference help. (6>4>2)
10. AncestorHunt.com – Free genealogy search engine linking to free data. (11>11>12)
11. AccessGenealogy.com – Millions of names in 250,000 pages, along with links to free data; especially useful for Native American information and some data. (13>14>13)
12. SearchForAncestors.com - Interactive directory of free genealogy websites and data. (12>19>21)
13. GenealogyBank.com $ - 1 billion exclusive records from 4500 newspapers and historical books. (19>31>41)
14. USGWArchives.net – A large collection of free data, arranged by state and searchable across the entire collection. (8>not ranked)
15. CyndisList.com – The best subject catalog of genealogy webpage links. (14>17>15)
16. Interment.net - Transcribed and indexed cemetery inscriptions. (16>16>16)
17. OneGreatFamily.com $ - A family tree sharing and collaboration website. (9>11>9)
18. GenealogyToday.com - Includes instruction, reference articles and some unique data collections. (10>12>11)
19. SurnameWeb.org – A collection of surname website links; online since 1996. (48>62>26)
20. FindMyPast.co.uk $ - (Back in) 650 million British records of many types (formerly FindMyPast.com). (57>46>50)
Note: $ - website requires a fee for services.

Read the rest here.

11 February 2011

30 million English deaths, burials and marriages added to FamilySearch

On 10 February FamilySearch added the following:
England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991 15,078,612 records
England Marriages, 1538–1973 15,673,510 records

The general source information is "derived from digital copies of originals housed in various repositories throughout England." To find the specific source search the source film number in the Library catalog. Perhaps one day they'll make it a direct link.

Also added are:
England, Cheshire Non-conformist Records, 1671-1900 157,094
Wales Deaths and Burials, 1586-1885 1,296

    Genealogy times are they a-changin'?

    I was impressed to learn that 3,000 people are attending the Rootstech conference in Salt Lake City this week. Although it's the conference's first year, it already has an attendance larger than any other US genealogy conference.

    What this means, and the way times are changing, was crystallized for me in the following tweets:

    • Many seem to want a simpler way to handle sources. ESM too complicated and lengthy.
    • Many agree ESM "too academic" for regular genealogy research.
    • How many HS grads do you expect to use Masters level citations?
    • I'm surprised how many people in the Sources session don't know who Elizabeth Mills is.
    On the one hand there's academic genealogy, characterized by the Genealogical Proof Standard with its careful step-by-step, even exhaustive, approach to developing the best possible genealogy, and fastidious emphasis on citations.

    On the other is technological genealogy, characterized by a NASA-like further, faster, cheaper approach and by Ancestry.com with its ad "you don't have to know what you're looking for, you just start looking."

    Let me give you an example of where it seems to me the GPS failed and technology succeeded. A great-great-grandfather of mine did a run from the UK never to be heard of again. Even the promise of an inheritance didn't tempt him back, although likely he never heard of it.

    He could have gone anywhere in the world. The GPS says I must make a reasonably exhaustive search. In this case does it mean I must search everywhere in the world?

    What happened was I searched every new database that became available. One day it was US military records on Ancestry, I put in the name and there he was. If I'd been searching before technology made that possible I would probably have checked out Canada and Australia before going to US records with the only result being a little great deal of wasted effort.

    10 February 2011

    Registration now open for Scottish Family History Workshop in Toronto

    The following is an announcement from the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

    The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society will be co-hosting a full day Scottish Family History Workshop with the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library on Saturday, 18 June. Designed for experienced family historians, the workshop will feature presentations by Chris Paton from Ayrshire, Scotland, as well as Toronto Branch members James F.S. Thomson and Marian Press.

    Full program and registration details are now available on the Toronto Branch website at www.torontofamilyhistory.org. Register soon to take advantage of early-bird discounts and avoid disappointment - space at this workshop is limited.

    Comment.  For Toronto-based folks on a limited budget and whose research has a Scottish focus this looks like a better bet than the OGS conference in Hamilton

    A special find

    On my way to Library and Archives Canada for a meeting I found myself walking from the bus with Wayne W Walker, formerly Director of the Ottawa Stake Family History Centre who introduced me to family history research at the FHC many years ago. He told me he was working on a personal project concerning WW1 servicemen and servicewomen from his native Digby County in Nova Scotia.

    in 1998 Wayne told one of the most intriguing family history research stories I have ever heard. It was printed in Anglo-Celtic Roots, BIFHSGO's quarterly chronicle, and is available as a Classic on the BIFHSGO website, under the title A Special Find, for your enjoyment.

    BIFHSGO February Meeting: Down the Line: Tracing Dawson's Canadian Adventure

    On Saturday 12 February 2011 come to Library and Archives Canada to hear a free public presentation by noted area author and musician Phil Jenkins.

    This presentation, Down the Line: Tracing Dawson's Canadian Adventure, will trace the emigration of the Dawson family of Edinburgh, first to Nova Scotia in 1820, then subsequently to Montreal and Ottawa. The family produced several world famous environmental scientists, including John William Dawson and George Mercer Dawson, the subject of the speaker’s most recent book, “Beneath My Feet”. Several family members are living in the National Capital region. The researches into George Dawson were particularly fascinating, including reading a 5,000 item collection of his letters housed in the McGill archives.

    Read more about Phil, who was born in Britain, and his interests at http://www.philjenkins.ca/

    The presentation gets underway at 10am. Genealogists are welcome to attend a 30 minute pre-presentation session at 9am on Ancestry Online Family Trees.

    09 February 2011

    Ancestry updates the 1841 census of England

    As usual, Ancestry tells you there is updating, but not where.

    In the discussion of this dataset Ancestry do mention that some of the images are in colour to improve legibility. Maybe that's what's new. That's not something Find My Past has done for 1841, although if memory serves they have to be given credit for raising the bar by being the first company to make colour images available.

    Strange newspaper names

    The BBC ran an article on the 10 most unusual newspaper names and followed up with a list of 50 strangest newspaper names contributed by readers.

    In the Ottawa area the champion in that race must be the Low down to Hull and back news. published since 1973 from Chelsea, Quebec and for which there is an archive collection at LAC.

    08 February 2011

    CVFHRG - 8 February meeting

    A last minute reminder that the topic for this evening's meeting of the Comox Valley Family History Research Group is "Dating Old Photographs." The presentation is by Linda Hargreaves starting at 7:00 pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1901 20th St., Courtenay

    NIGS new Initiative

    Many of us are familiar with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies and it's managing director Louise St. Denis.  I'm pleased to see the Institute taking a new direction, as announced in a press release referenced by Randy Seaver.

    (Toronto, February 7, 2011) Louise St. Denis, Managing Director of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, has announced that the Institute has acquired the website, GenealogyWise (www.genealogywise.com). The Genealogy Community Director of GenealogyWise, Gena Philibert Ortega, has also officially joined the Institute. She can be reached at (genwise@genealogicalstudies.com).

    "I would say that GenealogyWise is a great fit with the National Institute's goals. GenealogyWise is a place to connect with new found cousins, share resources, and learn more about genealogy. As part of the National Institute, GenealogyWise members will benefit from the opportunities that the National Institute provides," said Gena.

    GenealogyWise is the social network for genealogists. This is the place to network with other researchers, and make discoveries about your family history.

    You can join or create surname, locality, or topic groups. The Group feature allows you to collaborate, share, and ask questions of other members.

    You can also join the Chat Room for a quick question about research, a chat with fellow genealogists, or attend one of our educational presentations. As well, you can post a blog entry or a forum question from the GenealogyWise homepage. This is a great way to share your knowledge on a genealogy topic or to ask a question.

    To date, there are over 23,000 members online.

    A new feature will be added - the Live Meeting. GenealogyWise members will be able to access Live Meetings onsite, and this will open up more education opportunities to members that the Institute has to offer.

    You can read the full release at Randy's blog.

    I had an inking something like this was possible some months ago. As Randy points out GenealogyWise was formerly a companion site to WorldVitalRecords. That might be another site to watch as a possible acquisition.

    Sex at The National Archives

    In the UK February is Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans History Month.  The most recent TNA podcast features Dr Louise Chambers speaking on "Fictional Obscenities; Lesbianism and Censorship in the Early 20th Century", a talk presented last autumn. She uses case studies and documentation from TNA to investigate the societal approach to what were originally termed invert sexual tendencies.

    The talk mentions genealogy and while there is no reference to sources likely to contain information on individuals in your family tree the attitudes towards people now referred to as part of the LGBT community may help throw light on the lives of your ancestors involved.

    Access the talk, and a caution on language, here.

    Educational success in families

    I can't recall where or when  I heard the quote that one learns despite the educational system rather than because of it. It's facile. We all have teachers to thank for our educational achievements, but a recent study reported in PLOS One, Added Value Measures in Education Show Genetic as Well as Environmental Influence, indicates a grain of truth. It gets back to the old nature vs nurture debate.

    Here's the abstract from the article by Haworth et als.

    Does achievement independent of ability or previous attainment provide a purer measure of the added value of school? In a study of 4000 pairs of 12-year-old twins in the UK, we measured achievement with year-long teacher assessments as well as tests. Raw achievement shows moderate heritability (about 50%) and modest shared environmental influences (25%). Unexpectedly, we show that for indices of the added value of school, genetic influences remain moderate (around 50%), and the shared (school) environment is less important (about 12%). The pervasiveness of genetic influence in how and how much children learn is compatible with an active view of learning in which children create their own educational experiences in part on the basis of their genetic propensities.
    Would this bear out in your family history? Do smart parents in your family tree who placed an emphasis on bringing out the innate abilities of a child raise them to succeed despite the educational environment - one room schoolhouse or costly private school?  What about the children of less intelligent parents but raised in a community, like Scotland, that put an early emphasis on education?

    07 February 2011

    Ronald Reagan ancestry

    I finished watching a PBS American Experience episode on former US President Ronald Reagan and coincidently stumbled on an article by John Grenham in the Irish Times of 31 January. He uses Reagan as an example of the hazards of drawing conclusions about connections too readily.

    Take the Irish ancestry of Ronald Reagan. The earliest documented ancestor is Michael Regan, who married in England in 1852 and recorded his father as Thomas. The English 1851 census (very fortunately) gave Tipperary as his place of origin and his age as 21. So far, so good. The researchers who searched Tipperary parish registers did indeed find a Michael, son of Thomas Regan, baptised in Ballyporeen in 1830. But at least 20 of the 53 Catholic parishes of Tipperary have no records for the years around 1830. Both Michael and Thomas are unimaginably common forenames and there were at least 60 Regan households in the county at the time. So it is perfectly likely that more than one Michael, son of Thomas, was baptised in the relevant period.