30 April 2011

Canadian Army Newsreels

The War Amps, in cooperation with the Library and Archives Canada  and veterans of the Canadian Army Film Unit, has  available a six DVD set containing more than 20 hours of footage from 106 newsreels filmed and produced by the CAFU during the Second World War.
The CAFU front-line cameramen were soldiers first. In addition to camera instruction, they received infantry training and took guns into battle along with their 35 mm movie cameras to record the Canadian infantry in action, notably during the invasion of Sicily and D-Day.
The newsreels, popular in home front movie theatres, also feature the daily routines of the soldiers behind the lines, life on the home front in Canada and historic footage of politicians and generals from the Allied and Axis countries.

This, and many other Canadian military related DVDs, are available from the War Amps at 

Genealogy in London

Else Churchill from the Society of Genealogists has prepared a summary of a 20 April meeting of invited representatives of the London area genealogy community to update the family history community on issues affecting the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), Here are highlights.


LMA will close on Fridays and will be open only one Saturday a month. This will take place from November. Longer opening hours on Wednesdays, meaning late night opening to 7.30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, are being added. 


Many C of E parish registers, Board of Guardian Records, School and Nonconformist registers from the LMA collection are now online through the partnership with Ancestry.co.uk. The Guildhall Library and LMA Collections of Poll Books and the Overseas Returns are in progress. London wills, numbering near 400,000, are coming. Parish confirmations, Middlesex transported convict records, Surrey Marriage Bonds and Allegations, London Land Tax and London Poll books will be included. 

City livery company records deposited the Guildhall Library are being negotiated. 

2012 will see the inclusion of the City and Tower Hamlets Cemetery records and some Session Records.


A service lift at LAN is to be refurbished between November and December which will affect the production
of records. Avoid making a visit in this period and give lots of notice using the advanced ordering facility on the online catalogue if you do plan a visit. 

29 April 2011

Delay in opening of new Ottawa City Archives

Construction work is ongoing on the exterior of the new Archives building at Woodroffe and Tallwood. A call to the archives, where I listened to a message that they expect to be open by the end of April, received a prompt response that they now do not expect to be open for another two weeks. With construction continuing safety on the site could be an issue for public access.

The Art of Mourning in Ottawa: ReVisioning Victorian Bereavement Artefacts

The following is a notice from the Bytown Museum

Saskatchewan-born, Ottawa-based artist and academic Cindy Stelmackowich will present the findings of her artist-in-residence project at the Bytown Museum. During the winter of 2011, Ms. Stelmackowich unearthed and researched a wide range of Victorian mourning artefacts from the Museum's collection. From her study of these artefacts she intends to create new artworks that will highlight the intimately-charged visual languages of mourning, mortality, beauty and death.

Mourning artefacts in the Bytown Museum's collection comprise a wide range of decorative, domestic and public memorabilia, and include hair wreaths, veils, clothing, jewelry such as lockets, bracelets and earrings which incorporate hair, and decorative items such as memory ware jugs.

The Bytown Museum's acting curator, Judith Parker, inaugurated the residency program in 2011 to facilitate access to the Museum's significant collection. The residency program supports innovative research and creative interpretation of this important cultural repository that reflects Ottawa's early history.

· Public talk given by artist Cindy Stelmackowich
· Saturday 30 April, 2011, from 2 - 3 pm
· In English
· Bytown Museum. Free admission

West Yorkshire baptism records added by findmypast

Find 211,905 West Yorkshire parish baptism records added at findmypast.co.uk

Number of 
Almondbury All Hallows
Dewsbury All Saints
Huddersfield St Peter
Kirkburton All Hallows

28 April 2011

A portrait miniaturist in the family?

Edition 13 of the Family and Local History Handbook has an article by Australian genealogist Sandra Hargreaves on "The History of Portrait Miniatures." Portrait miniaturists were eclipsed with the arrival of photographers in the mid nineteenth century; prior to that there were many of them in the UK, perhaps someone in your family tree.

The focus of the article is on an unrelated Hargreaves, Thomas (1774-1846), who was sufficiently prominent to have a listing in the Dictionary of National Biography.

An interesting web site at http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/paintings/miniatures/index.html includes a directory of some prominent miniaturists, but not Hargreaves. Neither is he mentioned in the blog referenced at http://portrait-miniature.blogspot.com/.

I was drawn to the article as a practitioner of that art is in a distant branch of my family tree, William Derby (1786–1847). He and his son Alfred Thomas Derby(1821–1873), shown in a stylish self-portrait, are both also in the DNB but not in the other references above.

And a note on a development since I wrote the above, one where superior service deserves mention. I noticed a genealogical  error in some material on Alfred Thomas Derby on the National Portrait Gallery website, emailed them reporting the matter and received two replies within the hour, the second saying the matter is corrected in their internal database and will migrate to the public website.

The first genealogical society

I have been on a bit of a kick looking at genealogical history. An article from the July/August 1999 issue of Family Chronicle magazine deals with the early history, up to the founding of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 1845. Read it at: http://www.familychronicle.com/HistoryOfGenealogy.html

I was surprised to read that "The New England Historic Genealogical Society was chartered in that year, two full years before a similar society was begun in England."

Thanks to lots more digitized material available since 1999 that statement has to be revised. The Morning Post (London, England), Wednesday, March 11, 1846; has an item on the London Genealogical Society. An article from Punch, of which the first part is shown, is also from 1846.

The NEHGS retains bragging rights by a small margin. 

27 April 2011

Changes to the English Records program at the National Institute of Genealogical Studies

The following is extracted from a press release from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS).

English Studies Director, Dr. Penelope Christensen, has announced her retirement from NIGS. Dr. Christensen has been the Director of the English Certificate Programme ever since she founded it in 2000. She is starting her well-deserved retirement to concentrate on completing her family genealogy books, doing some traveling, and tending to her beautiful garden. 
Kirsty Gray, residing about 40 miles (64 km) outside London, England, has been appointed the new Director of English Studies. In her new position, Kirsty will be reviewing and updating the record courses from Census and Civil Registration to the much more advanced records such as Land, Property, Education, and Court Records. 
Kirsty grew up in Dorset and studied at the University of Reading (England) and Ottawa University (Canada), was awarded a Master's degree in Chemistry in June 2000, then took up genealogy professionally while training to be a teacher in 2002. Kirsty is an author, having written for the magazine Practical Family History and currently writing for Family Tree Magazine and Your Family Tree on various topics for beginners to more advanced levels. A sought-after lecturer, her knowledge, and her energetic and infectious personality wows audiences across the UK. 
After serving as Secretary of the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS), she took on the role of Chairman in April 2010, and is credited with “turning the Guild around and bringing it back to life.”
For more information on NIGS see: www.genealogicalstudies.com

HSO April Meeting: Mike More presentation

The next meeting of the Historical Society of Ottawa features a presentation by Mike More, Chair of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, on "The Descendants of Roger Billings of Milton, Mass".
The Billings family arrived in Canada soon after the American Revolution and took up land NW of Brockville, Upper Canada. From there a son, Bradish Billings, made his way to Gloucester Twp on the banks of the Rideau River becoming one of the first settlers in what is now the capital of Canada. Mike, who is a distant Billings relative by marriage, will speak on the project he has underway for the City Archives.
The meeting on Friday, April 29, starts at 1pm at the Routhier Community Centre, 172 Gigues Ave in Ottawa.
If not able to get to the meeting you may still be interested in the information available on line on the extended Billings family at http://www.ogsottawa.on.ca/billings/. Mike's compilation is from a variety of sources, many derivative. He warns that not all have been verified and researchers should check the originals whenever possible.

Tyler Collection of Misc Notes and Pedigrees of Kent Families

This addition to Ancestry is "a collection of books that were compiled by Frank Watt Tyler of vital records for families from East Kent. It is called the Tyler Collection because he put together 3,240 books from parish registers for baptisms, marriages, and burials. Some books also contain a family tree or a family history."

The collection, of which only 11 are listed, is a motley one: C.C. depositions; Conveyances and leases; Correspondence with Rev Dr Arthur Adams, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Cranbrooke file and misc;  Extract of Acts Books; Fourth and Last Supplement to Notices of the Ellises of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1881;  Indentures;  Kent Families Part 1; Kent Families Part 2; Kentish Gazette - obituaries; Misc Pedigrees.

There is no name indexing which is what we expect from Ancestry's subscription service when manuscript items are added to the collection. Here clicking on the title leads to an image of the front cover of a browsable file. Often you have to scroll across to see the information, a clumsy arrangement with seemingly little thought given to the convenience of the client.

26 April 2011

Hall of Names

Whenever I see one of those display stands selling family crests I act like the priest and the Levite, and unlike the good Samaritan, and pass by on the other side.

At the Ottawa Historical Association meeting last Thursday I learned that most of these kiosks are franchise operations of Kingston, Ontario-based Swyrich Corporation, operating as Hall of Names: http://www.hallofnames.com/

According to the web site Hall of Names was founded in Toronto researching family surnames in 1971. It now has "over 300 Hall of Names software licensees world-wide and countless more sub-licensees. This product line employs an estimated 500 people world-wide and is blended into hundreds of other products." A recent application by David Richardson, cited as general manager of Swyrich, to join the Kingston Chamber of Commerce states that the company as a whole has 14 direct employees.

Would that make it Ontario's most successful genealogy-related enterprise? The corporation website has an Alexa traffic rank of 1,868,816 which places it below genealogicalstudies.com at 1,093,695,

ogs.on.ca at 1,289,655, and just above familychronicle.com at 1,881,611. 

For potential franchisees the company website advertises that Hall of Names features: Great Impulse Sales, Appeals to All Ages, Appeals to All Walks of Life, Authentic Histories, Full Color Coats of Arms, Excellent Profit Potential, Over 1,000,000 Surname Histories, 50,000 First Name Histories, 35,000 Scottish Clan Histories, 24,000 Irish Sept Histories, and more.

At the OHA meeting I asked how the company had managed to avoid the type of legal problems that Halbert encountered. The reply was they avoided making exaggerated claims, as indicated in the following item from their FAQ:
Question: What information does a history contain? 
Answer: The history begins with the earliest record of the surname and then follows the family as it branched through the Old Country and subsequently through the New World. The history lists the names of the earliest settlers as they migrated to North America, modern notables of the family name and variations in spelling.
Note that there is no claim, at least on the website, that the material supplied has special relevance to the client aside from the common name. One wonders whether folks making those impulse purchases appreciate the nuance.

Introduction to English and Welsh Family History Research

At each BIFHSGO monthly meeting there are discovery tables, one each for England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland where resource publications and advice from experts are available. What hasn't been available recently is a local lecture series or workshop where members, and others, can get instruction on the basics with a focus on England and Wales, Scotland, or Ireland.

This September, as a pre-conference session, BIFHSGO will be offering "Introduction to English and Welsh Family History Research," a 2-1/2 hour session to be given by Linda Reid who has offered a similar session for OGS Toronto branch. Linda, who is a retired librarian and Family History Centre volunteer, was coming to the conference to make two presentations anyway so it seemed like an ideal opportunity to benefit from her experience.

The session is aimed at those who are starting to research their English or Welsh family history, and will be of interest to those who need a refresher to learn about the online resources that have become available. It will cover the basics: civil registration, the census, parish registers and, time permitting, probate records, a topic Linda will be covering from a different angle in a conference session.

Find out more about this session, other pre-conference sessions, as well as the conference proper and how to register, at www.bifhsgo.ca

25 April 2011

A Corner in Ancestors

Do the names Eleanor Lexington or Francis Cowles mean anything to you? They would if you were into family history in the first two decades of the 20th century in the US, or a casual reader of one of a string of newspapers. The "A Corner in Ancestors" column was the "Who Do You Think You Are?" of its day inviting readers into a corner of the world of family history.

The columns were a weekly feature in many US newspapers. Stories profiled a particular surname typically giving the origin, mentioned immigrants in the US colonial period, and often tracing or attempting to trace back to the British Isles. Historical notables carrying the name were sure to be included. In the later period of the run there was also often a social network section, then it was called "To Correspondents," as in this example from the 2 January 1916 Syracuse Herald.

Here are some examples published under Eleanor Lexington's byline from through Google News Archive Search: Drake, FreemanGrantHolmes, HortonJohnsonLaw, LawrenceLewisMeadMorgan, OakesPrattRidleySavageScottSmith, Wallace

At first the column had no running title. Only later does Eleanor Lexington appear to have adopted "A Corner in Ancestors," subsequently taken over by Francis Cowles. Some of his articles are: BatesBlakeBurwellCalvertCareyKingSwift, Worthington.

Many more can be read through Google News Archive Search on a pay-per-view basis. There is also a compilation of some of Eleanor Lexington's work, Colonial Families of America, published under her real name Frances M. Smith.  In all of these watch out for the qualifying phrases such as "Tradition has it", "probably", "may be," and notice the temporal discontinuities between, likely, unrelated individuals for whom records happen to have survived.

If you clicked one or more of the above names, perhaps because it's in your family tree, you will have demonstrated why these columns had a long run. If you actually read one you'll appreciate that although they may be amusing in small doses the value for an individual's family history is marginal.

Family Chronicle: May/June 2011 issue

This is a special Civil War issue - and I almost made the mistake of ending my comment there for all the involvement my ancestors had. Checking the issue index, which has 13 items listed, only four suggest they are on the Civil War so I read further

Up front is Jean Wilcox Hibben who "sings the praises" of doing your research on the road. It's an easy three page read about RVing for the genealogist; actually not quite three pages as one of them has an ad for the BIFHSGO conference.

Closing the issue is another item to "sing the praises," by Thomas MacEntee whose energy must be limitless given the number of things he's into. This is on the FGS conference next September in Illinois.

In between, leaving aside the Civil War items, there are items on the hazards of using other people's research; a case study based on material found in an Ontario attic; uncovering the story of a murderer; a search for 20th century Irish adoptee, and advice on hiring a professional genealogist from Janice Nickerson.

24 April 2011

Knowledge Ontario funding requests denied

The following item was posted on the Knowledge Ontario website on Monday, April 18th, 2011

Knowledge Ontario has been informed by both the Ministry of Tourism and Citizenship and by the Ministry of Education that our funding requests have been denied. This is, of course, a large disappointment. This news will raise questions and concerns in the Knowledge Ontario community, but this possibility has already been considered as part of the future funding scenarios we have been working on since January. KO will now engage its partner organizations and all those who offer KO services in framing the possibilities and fleshing out the details as we go forward.
The board and staff of Knowledge Ontario continue to be buoyed by the extraordinary support and encouragement we have received in putting forward these funding requests. We also acknowledge the acts of advocacy and support that so many of you undertook on behalf of Knowledge Ontario. We are tremendously grateful.
While this is difficult news, there is more to say and our story continues. More in the following days and weeks.
Comment: While Knowledge Ontario has a low profile in the genealogical community their initiatives, such as their contribution to these newspaper digitization projects, are noteworthy. I have written to premier McGuinty, my MPP, lamenting this ill-advised decision.

Concerning Genealogies

Thursday evening's Ottawa Historical Association meeting introduced me to several people from genealogy's history. One was Frank Allaben (1867-1927), Director of the Genealogical and Biographical Department of The Grafton Press in New York.

Allaben wrote Concerning Genealogies: being suggestions of value for all interested in family history. It was influential, even being quoted in the 1940s by a elder of the LDS Church. How does his view in 1904 differ from that today?

 In the first chapter, Ancestor Hunting, Allaben writes that:
 "... it is doubtful if the whole range of hobbies can produce anything half so fascinating as the hunt for one's ancestry. This combines the charm and excitement of every other pastime. What sportsman ever bagged such royal game as a line of his own forebears? What triumph of the rod and reel ever gave the thrill of ecstasy with which we land an elusive ancestor in the genealogical net? If any proof be needed of the fascination of this pursuit, behold the thousands who are taking it up! The nooks and crannies of civilization are their hunting-grounds—any corner where man has left a documentary trace of himself. Behold them, eager enthusiasts, besieging the libraries, poring over tomes of deeds and wills and other documents in State and county archives, searching the quaint and musty volumes of town annals, thumbing dusty pages of baptismal registers, and frequenting churchyards to decipher the fast-fading names and dates on moss grown tombstones, yellow and stained with age, or cracked and chipped by the frosts and rains of many seasons!
A tidal wave of ancestry-searching has indeed swept over the country. Genealogical and biographical societies have been organized. Periodicals have sprung up which confine themselves exclusively to this subject. Newspapers are devoting departments to it. The so-called patriotic societies and orders have become a host, with branches in nearly every State. They count their members by tens of thousands, their rolls are steadily increasing, and new societies are constantly being organized. There is scarcely an achievement in which our ancestors took part which has not been made the rallying-point of some flourishing society. All these draw life and nourishment from the mighty stream of genealogical research. We must prove that we have had ancestors, and that one or more of them had the distinction celebrated by the particular organization at whose door we knock for admission. 
Librarians and the custodians of public records bear witness to this great movement. The libraries have become wonderfully popular, thronged by multitudes who have enrolled themselves in the army of amateur genealogists."
Looking back, courtesy of a Google Ngram for the terms genealogy and family history, the use of the term genealogy was in decline in publications. The term family history increased until WW1. My interpretation is that Allaben's perspective was coloured by the interest in family history, not genealogy. 

In the second chapter, The Joys of Research, Allaben writes "that having decided to trace back our own lines, we naturally turn first to the living members of our family."
He continues mentioning various manuscript sources, such as records of marriages, births and deaths, church registers, family bibles, and tombstones. He emphasizes the importance of taking thorough notes of the facts with clear information on the source.

He continues to "initiate the reader into a cunning stratagem of the old campaigner."
We often run across a paper or paragraph which we can see at a glance is a " find." We do not read it through, but simply skim over it to make sure of the portion which we desire, and then begin the work—nay, the delightful pastime—of copying it. What a pleasure it is, absorbing the contents, line by line, as we transfer it to our archives! And there is a bit of solid wisdom in this method, for the chance of errors in copying is less when the interest is at fever heat than when the work is done in a mechanical way.
In the third chapter, Compiling, Allaben first comments that " failure to weave our facts into a readable story, after having collected them, is almost unthinkable." He proceeds to:
"warn against pernicious ways, even though it should involve criticism of many of the genealogical books which have appeared in print. The truth is that in the great majority of such works we look in vain for the proofs of the statements made."
He continues for most of the chapter with the familiar arguments for citing your sources before returning to the importance of writing an interesting narrative.

In the next two chapters he discussed clan genealogy, finding all the descendants of an individual", and  "the Grafton genealogy" which is his term for finding the ancestors of an individual. This leads into the discussion in the remainder of the book on the materials and techniques the company is promoting.

Aside from the style of writing, and changes due to technology including the Grafton-specific material, this book could just as well have been written a century later. 

You can read the whole of Concerning Genealogies in the Hathi Trust Digital Libtary at http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/005819512. You do have to read it online as there seems to be no way for a non-academic affiliated reader to download the book. 

23 April 2011

FreeBMD April update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Sat 23 Apr 2011 and currently contains 200,297,431 distinct records (254,805,469 total records).

The database surpassed the 200 million mark with this update. Most additions are from the decade starting in the mid 1940s.

TNA Podcast: criminal records of our ancestors from the 18th and 19th centuries

It's welcome to have online availability of this talk from 10 February 2011 by Jeff James who is Director of Operations and Services at The National Archives. In this day and age it's refreshing to have a manager showing a disciplinary knowledge of the organization's work. 

Using three individuals, the podcast takes researchers through the various stages of the criminal justice system of the period and focuses on the various records created, from the commission of a crime, through the court processes and on to the records of punishment.

He makes the point that as criminal cases were crimes against the Crown, pardons were at (delegated) royal discretion.  They were common in the period in question. Thousands of felons convicted of a capital crime, of which there were many, had their sentences reduced.

The England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892, available with a free index at Ancestry and taken from TNA Series HO 26 and HO 27 are mentioned as a good starting point covering cases handled at the Assizes courts.

I enjoyed this talk more than many in the podcast series. It's available at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/criminal-records.htm

A tribute to the English nation

Celebrate St George's Day ...

22 April 2011

OGS Toronto Branch English Family History Workshop: call for speakers

The following is from OGS Toronto Branch seeking additional speakers for an event on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day (expect fireworks). Lesley Anderson and I are scheduled to speak and there is additional presentation space now available so the branch decided to become more ambitions and ask for other proposals. I suspect they are focusing on providing opportunities for people from Toronto and the surrounding area.

April 16, 2011



NOVEMBER 5, 2011

North York Central Library Auditorium

5120 Yonge Street, Toronto

The Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch and the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library will be co-hosting a one-day workshop for family historians with English ancestors.

This workshop was originally planned to feature popular speakers, John D. Reid and Lesley Anderson from Ottawa. John and Lesley developed a very interesting plenary-style program for us and we were all set to announce it when it became necessary to reschedule the event. In so doing we have acquired a larger venue, making it possible to expand upon John and Lesley’s program.

You are invited to submit proposals for lectures on any aspect of English genealogical or social history research. Workshop attendees will be most interested in lectures emphasizing sources and research techniques that might prove useful in their own research.

Each session will be one hour long, including five or ten minutes for questions. Presentations should be illustrated—we can provide a computer projector or an overhead projector. Speakers will also be expected to provide a handout of supporting material (up to four pages) which we will photocopy for all registrants.

Speakers will be paid an honorarium of $100 per lecture, plus $25 to cover incidental expenses.

Please submit your lecture proposals by e-mail. Before you start developing your proposals we recommend that you request a copy of the outline of John and Lesley’s program so that you can avoid duplicating their presentations. Please keep your proposals brief and informal, at this point. (We may ask for more details later.) Be sure to include your mailing address, phone number, and a brief bio.


For more information about the Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch, please see: www.torontofamilyhistory.org.

To submit proposals or ask a question about the event, please contact the Education Committee, c/o Chair, Diana Thomson at courses@torontofamilyhistory.org.

News of other OGS Toronto Branch events, including Chris Paton's Scottish Family History Workshop on June 18, is at www.torontofamilyhistory.org.

Book Review: A Better Place

A Better Place: death and burial in nineteenth-century Ontario
Susan Smart
Dundurn Press
ISBN 978-1-55488-899-3 (softcover) $19.99/£12.00

Over the years funeral practices have changed. Ontario pioneers might have been buried on the family farm with arrangements handled by the family with support of family and friends. With 19th century development came the adoption of commercial funeral practices with Victorian and US Civil War influences evident and increasingly larger cemeteries further removed from the community centre. The evolution is described by York Region genealogist Susan Smart in the first and major section of this book Death and Burial. You will discover the type of experienced your Ontario ancestor might have had in bereavement with care taken to differentiate between denominations, both Christian and Jewish practice. The discuss is quite comprehensive, the only missing element I noticed was any discussion of gravestone iconography.

Genealogical Implications, the much shorter second section, focuses on the types of record that may be helpful in researching Ontario death and burial. Here there is a significant omission. No mention is made of the Civil Registration death records indexed at Ancestry.ca. Instead the convoluted official procedure with two indexes is described. But with Ancestry widely available, including free at almost all libraries in Ontario, why would any sane person not try the name indexed records first?

The book has charming period prologue and epilogue, a timeline, glossary, notes and a bibliography, but lacks an index. You're sure to learn something of interest from this attractively presented volume.

Note that the book I reviewed had 234 on the last numbered page, not the 208 pages mentioned in some online bookstore listings, including at Waterstones and Tesco in the UK. It's available at a discount from amazon.ca.

In case this topic strikes you as excessively morbid, here are two items surrounding death likely to bring a smile to your face: brown boots, a Stanley Holloway monologue from the mid 20th century; and an irreverent celebration of a compatriots life in this John Cleese eulogy from 1989.

William and Kate need not apply

Ancestry isn't being slow in getting into the hype surrounding the forthcoming royal wedding. Royal genealogy has been a staple on the Internet for years, and Kate Middleton's ancestry, including her criminal ancestry, has been the subject of professional genealogists scrutiny. With all that they have nothing to research, poor things, another disadvantage being royalty, and won't need to take advantage of Ancestry.co.uk's offer of free access (with registration) to the company England and Wales marriage indexes.

Most of the period from the start of civil registration is well covered by FreeBMD, which I, and those conducting nearly 200,000 searches yesterday, prefer to Ancestry's version. However, if you're searching from the 1940s onward Ancestry is a good option.

21 April 2011

Survey results on people in your family tree

I posted a poll a few days ago about the characteristics of people in your family tree. Scroll down to see the results. The questions are almost a duplicate of a poll done a year ago by Media Profile for Ancestry.ca. Their sample was just over 1,000 people; here only 63 responded, relatively small but much larger than the last time I tried a poll.

Here are my conclusions

1. The percent of people reporting royalty or links to royalty is little different from the previous result even when the question is made specific to those descended from royalty (10%). I was doubtful it was so large, and stand corrected.

2. The present results show a much higher percentage of people who have found a living relative with whom they weren't previously in contact.

3. With the exception of pirate and sports person, the present results show respondents having a greater knowledge of people with specific characteristics, such as war hero, bigamist, criminal, adulterer and politician, in their family tree than in the previous survey.

4. There are fewer people who answered "none of the above" than in the previous survey.

It seems likely that the people answering this survey have researched their family history more intensively than in the survey for Ancestry.ca.

Thanks to those who responded to the survey.

Update 29 April 2011. The survey is now closed.


If you have Prince Edward Island ancestors there's a new heritage resource in development that you may find helpful. The Island Archives Centre at the University of PEI, with partners, will protect and offer access to all of PEI's contributions to local and national heritage digitally.

Several of resources I tried to access were not available, whether temporarily or because they're not yet available, but I was able to access and search the archive of The Guardian (1880-1921), PEI's paper of record.

20 April 2011

Become part of history on May 2 - Columns - Opinion - The Journal Pioneer

Become part of history on May 2 - Columns - Opinion - The Journal Pioneer

DNA Heritage demise

The following notice appears at www.dnaheritage.com
As of April 19 2011, DNA Heritage has ceased its operations and is in the process of transferring the domains DNAHeritage.com and Ybase.org to Family Tree DNA.
All the tests in progress will be processed by our current lab and the results will be delivered to our customers.
In order to ensure the continuity of the existing surname projects Family Tree DNA will study the best options to integrate our customers' results into their database.
Once Family Tree DNA decides on the option(s), our customers will be given the opportunity to opt-in to their database.
Family Tree DNA has a notice on the company website repeating the above and adding:
Given that the vast majority of the DNA records use 12, 37, 67 markers, and the 43 marker test from DNA Heritage includes only 25 markers in common with Family Tree DNA, you will be better off buying the standard 37 or 67 markers test from Family Tree DNA. This way you will be able to compare to the over 200,000 Y-DNA samples in the Family Tree DNA database.

Aside from very pricey Oxford Ancestors, DNA Heritage was the only UK based company in genetic genealogy. The company suffered from never being able to develop the size of client database needed to compete with the sector leaders. My own experience with the company was never receiving a reply to a query.  

Although the company has a significant financial base, one wonders whether DNA is a field that Ancestry.com will continue to pursue. They also have a relatively small database, and a track record of divesting out of unprofitable business lines.

As FTDNA once offered, and presumably still have clients who tested 25 markers, their comment on how former DNA Heritage clients would be "better off" seems odd.

Ottawa Historical Association: Public Lecture, April 21

The Ottawa Historical Association issues an open invitation for its fifth and final public lecture of its 2010-2011 season. The speaker this month is Dr. Forrest Pass and his lecture is entitled “Strange Whims of Crest Fiends: Family Crests and Family Histories in Nineteenth-Century North America.” It will take place on Thursday, April 21, at 8pm at the Faculty of Arts and Social Science Lounge, Dunton Tower Room 2017, Carleton University. The lecture is free and all are welcome to attend.

The lecture traces popular North American concepts of the relationship between genealogy and heraldry to a “crest craze” that swept the eastern United States during the late nineteenth century. Once the preserve of descendants of well-established colonial families, so-called “family crests” were adopted by the new rich as symbols of their new status; they proudly displayed coats of arms on their silverware, stationery, coaches, and even their household pets. The proliferation of heraldry aroused some anxiety among those Americans who saw in it the insidious mark of aristocracy, but it also created a new industry in the production of family crests and family histories. As a result, new popular conceptions of family history and family heraldry emerged that explicitly reflected North American economic conditions and cultural values.

Forrest Pass holds a doctorate in History from the University of Western Ontario and is currently Saguenay Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority. His research interests include the relationship between visual symbols and identity formation at the national, regional, and family levels.

For more information, please e-mail contact@ottawahistoricalassociation.com.
The Ottawa Historical Association gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of History and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Carleton University.

via Bruce Elliott

Liverpool church records at Ancestry.co.uk

If your family history is in Liverpool this could be the best day of the year for you! 

Ancestry have added parish records, both Catholic and Church of England, for Liverpool area parishes. These are indexed records with the actual record image linked which most often contains more information than indexed. The coverage includes the time of the Irish Potato Famine when huge numbers of Irish settled in or passed through Liverpool.

There are more than 30 Catholic parishes for baptisms and marriages, and 17 burial ground and cemeteries.
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, Catholic Baptisms, 1802-1906
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, Catholic Confirmations, 1813-1920

The larger number of Anglican church records include those in Bootle, Edge Hill, Everton, Liverpool, Toxteth Park and more, and some 30 churchyards and cemeteries for burials.

A quick look at the records failed to find a baptismal record for my great grandfather despite him being recorded as born in Liverpool in 1837 in three successive censuses.

19 April 2011

Ancestry update of Australian BMD indexes solves a Canadian problem

Ancestry.com announce an update to their Australia BMD indexes; Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922Australia Death Index, 1787-1985 Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1949. As always with these Ancestry updates, you never know how major. Even a minor update can end a long search.

One of the lose ends I've been pursuing from the Ottawa Sharpshooters project I conducted with BIFHSGO colleagues ending in 2005 is the death of William Henry Pardey.

William Henry Pardey was born in Ontario ca. 1862, the son of William Pardey and his English born wife Elizabeth Armstrong (ca. 1830–1886). From just prior to Confederation in 1867 Pardey’s mother, for the second time a widow, ran a boarding house on Wellington Street in Ottawa, close to the present-day location of the Supreme Court.

During the 1885 North West Rebellion, William Henry Pardey served as Lance Corporal with the Sharpshooters and took part in the Battle of Cut Knife Hill. He is listed in the 1887/88 Ottawa city directory, after his mother’s death, as a boarder at 118 Queen Street, and employed with the Militia Department.

In 1892 a William Henry Pardey married Mary Jane Daves-Covich at Christchurch, NZ. In 1921 and 1925 Pardey is listed in the Christchurch telephone book as manager with Canada's Massey Harris Co.

Information I received from a relative on his wife’s side of the family is that the couple likely retired and died in Australia, having had no children. 

The Ancestry update lists the death of a William Henry Pardey in Perth, Australia, in 1927. A search of the Australia Trove site of digitized newspapers revealed a clipping from the Perth Sunday Times showing him as a long-time employee of Massey Harris and with death given as 10 February 1927. 

I'd want some more evidence to be convinced this is the same William Henry Pardey as served with the Ottawa Sharpshooters.

OGS Ottawa Branch April Meeting

Walking With Angels: Some Procedures for Documenting Cemetery Burials and Photographing Tombstones is the topic for the next branch meeting in room 156, Tuesday 19 April, 7:00 p.m. Library Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St. Ottawa Ontario. The speaker is David Walker; author and The Master Genealogist expert.

If you missed out on purchasing Time Traveller's Handbook, by Althea Douglas, when the supply became exhausted at Gene-O-Rama, a few copies will be available at the meeting at $21, saving on postage. My review is here.

Celebration of English heritage

Today is Primrose Day an occasion I blogged about in 2009.

This week we also celebrate the Queen's birthday, on Thursday, and St George's Day on Saturday.

Celebrate English heritage with Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire) Duck, Cornish Pasty, Cumberland Sausage, Devon Clotted Cream, Double Gloucester Cheese, Lancashire Hotpot, Red Leicester Cheese, Lincolnshire Sausage, Newcastle (Northumberland) Brown Ale, Norfolk Dumpling, Somerset Cider,
Sussex Pond Pudding,Wiltshire Ham, Worcestershire sauce.

Doesn't look like a very balanced meal. No veggies! Additions gladly accepted. And yes, some of the places are not now in the old counties.

Deceased Online adds Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire records

To the 40,000 burial records of Broxbourne Borough Council in Hertfordshire I blogged about here www.deceasedonline.com have just added nearly 30,000 burial records from Dacorum Borough Council.

The records are for Heath Lane Cemetery (1878-2010) and Woodwells Cemetery (1960-2010) in Hemel Hempstead; Tring Cemetery (1894-2010); and Kingshill Cemetery, Berkhamsted(1947-2010)

For Cambridgeshire 1,900 records for Sawston Cemetery from the local Parish Council are added to the collection which already includes 175,000 burial and cremation records for the City of Cambridge.

Coming soon...

Many more records for Scottish areas

18 April 2011

TNA Podcast: Festival of Britain

In this short podcast TNA staffer Briony Paxman explains the records of the 1951 Festival of Britain Office in WORK 25 which documents all stages of the organisation and planning.

If the Festival is only a name to you get a better idea of it in the Pathe Newsreels here and here. Rain combines with monochrome film to give a less than exciting perspective on the event.

Photos at http://www.flickr.com/groups/festivalofbritain/pool/show/ give a better impression, including of venues away from the main South Bank site.

John does genealogy!

The site mentioned is not the only, or even first site I'd direct people to, but couldn't help but watch this video all the way through!

17 April 2011

Scottish directories

Chris Paton points out that the National Library of Scotland, in conjunction with the Internet Archive, has digitised over 700 Post Office directories for Scotland - 600 are accessible through the NLS website at www.nls.uk/family-history/directories/post-office, the rest on the Internet Archive directly at www.archive.org. The cut off point for the collection is 1911/12.

Read Chris' full blog post at http://goo.gl/NGCxC