30 November 2011

Elgin Papers digitally preserved

According to a press release from The National Records of Scotland, "Significant letters which provide a fascinating insight into one of the pivotal figures in Canadian history have been digitally preserved under a joint project between The National Records of Scotland (NRS) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC)."

"The papers of Lord Elgin, (Governor General of Canada from 1847-1854), include thousands of textual and graphic images of the documents accumulated by the Earl and his family during their stays in North America. Also available on the website is a catalogue of papers relating to his diplomatic career in Jamaica, China and India. These papers, still held by his descendants in Scotland, have been catalogued by the National Records of Scotland as its contribution to the project."

"LAC completed item-level descriptions for 2,225 textual and graphic records which link to the 11,570 images which LAC digitised for the website."

Read the press release, which does not (yet?) appear on the LAC website, at: www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/11/30102132

LAC and the broken parliamentary system

In the past few days I've provided comments on the LAC 2011-2012 Department Performance Report.  Now it's time to put those into perspective.

One year ago today Daniel J. Caron appeared before a parliamentary committee and was questioned about the client consultation process at LAC, and newspaper digitization, amongst other things. The session was unsatisfactory. Read the transcript at http://goo.gl/yRVl3

One year later and nothing has changed. Meaningful client consultation is nowhere to be found. LAC looks as if it's further withdrawing from it's mandated responsibilities to provide a national collection, not just a governmental and legal-deposit-based non-governmental collection. The newspaper collection appears to be in real jeopardy, and not just the prospect of a modern digitized collection but now even the legacy collection.

A recent column in the Ottawa Citizen put the problem in a larger context by pointing out that the existing parliamentary oversight process under which such performance become acceptable, is broken.
MPs are not doing their jobs - can't do their jobs - to exercise the power of the purse by going over federal spending estimates line by line. Both the auditor general and the parliamentary budget officer have called for urgently needed reforms to the system, and Clement has promised improvements.
"It's designed basically to be confusing," says Kevin Page, the parliamentary budget officer.
"We have no expenditure control mechanism in Canada," says Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. "You've been to the committees. Nobody has the estimates open in front of them. It's almost an empty ritual."

TNA on digitized information

On November 8 I emailed The (UK) National Archives with a freedom of information request. I'd read the claim that "Over 80 million of our historical documents have been digitised and published online."

I asked four questions, repeated below with the answer received:

1) Is this 80 million individual pages or full documents?

The 80 million figure is full documents (not images). Due to different calculation models used for different record types the accuracy of this figure is approximately 80%.

2) What percent were digitised under a cooperative arrangement with a commercial or other partner?


3) What percent are census records?


4) What are the other major (top 10) record sets digitized and what percent of the 80 million do they each represent?

Series - %
1. WO 363 - 26.2 (Soldiers' Documents, First World War 'Burnt Documents')
2. WO 364 - 7.7 (Soldiers' Documents from Pension Claims, First World War)
3. WO 97 - 6 (Royal Hospital Chelsea: Soldiers Service Documents)
4. PROB 11 - 2.91 (Prerogative Court of Canterbury and related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers)
5. WO 96 - 2.16 (Militia Attestation Papers)
6. HO 2 - 1.3 (Aliens Act 1836: Certificates of Arrival of Aliens)
7. BT 26 - 1.26 (Inwards Passenger Lists)
8. BT 27 - 1.16 (Outwards Passenger Lists)
9. WO 372 - 0.97 (First World War Medal Index Cards)
10. ADM 188 - 0.67 (Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services)

I'm surprised the census records are only marginally larger than the "Burnt Records". 

The top 11 represent three-quarters of the digitized records; there must be a long tail of smaller databases.

I'm impressed that a question asked on 8 November received a response from TNA before the end of the month.  

29 November 2011

British Newspaper Archive launched

The much anticipated launch of the British Newspaper Archive happened today with a media campaign. 

For those of us not in the UK, videos on the company Youtube channel, posts on  Facebook and Twitter give an insight, including this image of an impressive scanning operation.

I'll post in more detailed later. In the mean time read what Audrey Collins has to say on her blog The Family Recorder.

Comments on LAC 2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report - VI

Library and Archives Canada Program Activity 1.4: Internal Services, is a catch-all, "groups of related activities and resources that are administered to
support the needs of programs and other corporate obligations of governmental organizations."

Expenditures for this program activity of $32.4M exceeded authorities of $30.8M meaning expenditures 5% over authority and 6% below the previous year.

What did our tax dollars buy?

Better coordination of internal services roles including capital planning and
information technology services; develop and pursue talent management strategies; enhance corporate planning, finance and reporting processes and tools. All were stated to be mostly met.

Apparently LAC:
  • "gained a clearer sense of where we were and what we needed to do to get the most impacts from our IT investments." LAC "intend to use the results in 2011–2012 to define, describe and align an updated corporate IT architecture." One wonders how the recently announced decision to move most IT services into one central department, Shared Services Canada, will impact on these directions.
  • "focused on creating and implementing the communications strategy needed to build collaboration with all stakeholders with an interest in the work of LAC ...  much of this took place through LAC outreach. For example, the Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada and senior management made many presentations at meetings and conferences." Only one presentation, and that a short welcome at the opening session of the BIFHSGO conference, was made to the organization's single largest client group -- family historians.
  • through the "LAC Stakeholders Forum. The Canadian documentary heritage institutions that took part in the Forum reached a consensus that the task of managing Canada’s documentary heritage is too complex for any one institution to pursue in isolation." Concensus! This is at variance with the view of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, represented on the Forum, that challenges the notion that "LAC’s key role extends only to the management of legal deposit and the preservation of the federal government records."
There are more, such as initiatives in internal communications, on which an outsider is in no position to comment.

TNA podcast: 'A low artful wicked man': poverty riots and bread, the response of government to the crises of the 1790s

If I mention the Paul Carter is one of the presenters in the podcast experienced family historians will recognize it as needing no further recommendation from me.

Here's the TNA summary:

The 1790s was a watershed decade in British history with the continuation of population increase and industrialisation, series of poor harvests and war with France. These factors led to a 'crisis' in the matching of food production and import of the cereal crops that were the staple diet of the poor. This talk looks at the background to the situation and at records that reveal the government's attempts to address both the food shortages and the riots that broke out as real want and scarcity took hold in many districts. Paul Carter is the Principal Records Specialist Manager for the Modern Domestic Team. He has a broad range of interests in 18th and 19th century British history. Julie Halls has worked at The National Archives for almost three years. She is currently a member of the Modern Domestic Records team in the Advice and Records Knowledge Department.

28 November 2011

Ancestry adds London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1925

New on Ancestry, from the London Metropolitan Archives, this is a large collection, 240,110 indexed document images.

"Freeman are: a man who did not have to pay trade taxes and shared in the profits of his borough, a person free of feudal service who had served their apprenticeship and could trade in their own right, and anyone who was a member of a City Guild. "Freedom of the Company" meant that a person had earned freemen status within the company or guild and could then apply for Freedom of the City."

The database typically contains name, date of indenture, parent or guardian name, county/place of residence, master's name.

I notice a case in a family related by marriage to mine in which a son was admitted as a Freeman of the Drapers Company by virtue of being born while his father was a Freeman in the company.

23andMe Cyber Monday special

23andMe will offer a special discount only on Cyber Monday, November 28, 2011, with $25 off via Facebook and Twitter only, or go directly to https://www.23andme.com/store/cart/ to order.

The usual price is $99. A monthly subscription cost of $9 continues to apply, or regular $399 without a subscription obligation.

A reminder than Family Tree DNA are also offerring various holiday specials until the end of the year.

Seeking relatives of two Ottawa airmen of WW1

The Ottawa Citizen has a story Britons watch over graves of two Ottawa airmen, fatalities in WW1, that offers a worthwhile challenge to anyone interested in exercising heir tracing skills.

Voices from the past

A couple of paragraphs from David Warren's column in Sunday's Ottawa Citizen worthy of contemplation.
We learn, with any luck as we grow older, that we do not, cannot, live only for ourselves. We live through family, good friends, colleagues, and neighbours; we live for our future, and theirs, of course. But also, the past is not yet done with us.
We are, so long as we breathe in this world, spokesmen for others. The ghosts of those who made us as we are, live on inside us; we embody them. Our eyes still see for them, and our tongues are guided by many mentors. All knowledge comes through love - all - and without love, everything is empty. The living remain plural, and everything we know is owed to former loves. Even those centuries dead, recalled only from reading, continue their orations in the Parliament of our soul; and we live to vindicate them.
Read the fill article at: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Voices+from+past/5773673/story.html#ixzz1eukyfQ9z

27 November 2011

Cemetery quick hit

November additions at Interment.net include abstracts for:

Saint James Cemetery, Athboy, County Meath, Ireland

The Gore Cemetery, Clanbrassil, Oneida Township, Haldimand County, Ontario.

Comments on LAC 2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report - V

Library and Archives Canada seems confused about it's Program Activity 1.3: Making the documentary heritage known and accessible for use, the component most visible to clients.

Expenditures for this program activity of $32.4M exceeded authorities of $30.8M according to information on page 20 of the document. But go back to page 10 and the story is different. There expenditures are $21M and authorities $22.8M. So are expenditures 5% over authority or 8% below? If the latter it represents a 14% decrease from the previous year.

In view of this discrepancy will taxpayers have much confidence in LAC achieving this program activity's expected result "Canadians are aware of LAC as an authoritative, innovative source of content and expertise related to Canada’s documentary heritage"? Or does such a discrepancy exhibit LAC's idea of innovation?

What did our tax dollars buy?

The targets against which performance is measured are:
  • 75% of clients who contact us online, or by mail are satisfied with their responses.
  • 60% of clients find what they are looking for.
I wonder why an organization would be satisfied to achieve 25% (20% in 2011-2012) of clients being dissatisfied, and 40% unable to find what they seek?

The document gives examples of initiatives being undertaken under this program activity. For example, the document states "When people request digital copies of First World War files, we place those files online for other clients to view, increasing our digital content."

I requested a digital copy of the CEF file for BARNETT, JOHN ALFRED DERBY very nearly one year ago, on 2 December 2010. I was given access to an electronic copy within the target time frame and was told it would be linked online within a matter of weeks, not months.  A year later there is no sign of it appearing for other clients to view. A query to LAC several days ago has so far gone unanswered. 

This looks like outright deception.

LAC's decision earlier this year to reduce its service standard for such a fundamental service as the production of documents at 395 Wellington belies any claims that client service is improving.

26 November 2011

Statistics Canada to make all online data free

According to Embassy magazine "All of Statistics Canada’s standard online products, including the census, socioeconomic and geographic data, will be offered to the public for free starting February 2012. "

Read the article at http://goo.gl/CGjnb

That's good news for impoverished researchers looking to add statistical backing for their studies. For the family historian seeking context Stats Can already offers their 1983 publication Historical Statistics of Canada for free at http://goo.gl/XCEgc

Comments on LAC 2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report - IV

Library and Archives Canada's Program Activity 1.2: Managing the documentary heritage of interest to Canada is LAC's largest and central for family history. The records we seek have usually had to be continually stored and curated for many years, a cost that is often marginalized by neophyte clients.

Expenditures for this program activity of $48M compare with authorities of $68.3M, 30% less. Allowing for $11.8M reprofiled to 2011-12 for a delayed project that's still a 12% decrease.

12% is also the decease from the previous year expenditure, a larger decrease than the 9% for LAC overall.

Human resources employed for this program activity were 101% of those planned.

What did our tax dollars buy?

The expected result was "The management of our holdings are improved to
enhance long-term access and to better reflect the Canadian experience."

Under performance status LAC states it has mostly met the target in that it "Reduced intake of non-regulated published works. " Mostly met means it achieved 80-99% of target.

Had this target been in place in previous years it is doubtful if treasures of the LAC collection, such as the Topley photographs, portrait collection, Lowey collection, or the donation made by the Government of the UK on the occasion of the centennial in 1967 would now be in the collection - or if acquired would have meant that LAC would have fallen further short of this misguided target.

This direction being taken by LAC is a deliberate neglect of it's first mandate, to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations. That mandate is NOT to preserve ONLY governmental information, or ONLY documentation collected under legal deposit.

In three years acquisitions from the private and political sector have decreased about 20%. Thankfully LAC's target was only "mostly met."

Even the existing collection is not safe. LAC states it "began to examine approaches for the systematic review of the relevance of our existing holdings." LAC seems ready to "de-accession" holdings by offering them to other organizations, and if there are no takers junking them. This could include substantial elements of the newspaper collection.

Will clients be consulted before such destruction of elements of the national collection, and Canada's documentary heritage, is decided?

There are several other performance indicators listed, to review them all would make this as impenetrable a summary as the original document. One does wonder how "Progress on a new Collection Storage Facility" could be classified as "Met all" when $11.8M was not spent in the year allocated!

25 November 2011

OGS Conference 2012

Likely some of these names, speakers at the 2012 version of the Ontario Genealogical Society annual conference, are familiar:

Phil AinsworthLesley AndersonRuth Burkholder
Sharon CallaghanLisa Louise CookeJane L. Down
David HemmingEvelyn KolishJane E. MacNamara
Fran MurphySerge PaquetGuylaine Petrin
John D. ReidRick RobertsLois Sparling
Chris WattsJoseph WearingMeldon J. Wolfgang III, F.G.B.S.
Glenn WrightStephen Young

This is one conference I won't miss from start to finish, even though I'm scheduled for only one presentation.

Find full details of the conference at http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2012/

All events and the onsite accommodations at the conference site at St. Lawrence College are in close proximity. Sorry exercise enthusiasts, you won't expend many calories moving between the venues.

Comments on LAC 2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report - III

The first of four program activities at Library and Archives Canada is Managing the disposition of the Government of Canada (GC) records of continuing value.

Expenditures for this program activity of $10.5M exceeded authorities of $7.3M by 44%.

While expenditures decreased by 7% from the previous year. That was a smaller decrease than the 9% for LAC overall.

Human resources employed for this program activity were 189 FTEs, 17% above the planned level.

What did our tax dollars buy?

The expected result was "Relevant GC information is managed by federal institutions in a manner that is coherent and that demonstrates accountability to support the rights, obligations and privileges of Canadians."

More specifically LAC conducted "Recordkeeping training, awareness building, support and guidance activities" and "support(ed) the Assistant Deputy Minister Task Force on the Future of Federal Library Service."

The performance indicator was the "Proportion of institutions that receives or maintains an “acceptable” or “strong” in the information management report card."

LAC considered it exceeded the standard, but the document is silent on what had to be done to attain that standard.

Under the heading Lessons Learned we read that "our lessons learned concerned the necessity to engage and collaborate with federal departments and agencies." Nothing startling there -- perhaps a lesson LAC will one day learn regarding its client relations.

Not explicitly in this document, but in the corresponding section of the departmental Report on Plans and Priorities for 2011-2012, is this section:

Benefits for Canadians
Implementation of the new recordkeeping regime across the Government of Canada will allow Canadians to exercise their rights as citizens to have access to government records of business or archival value.
A focus on retaining only records of business or archival value and the use of digital tools will facilitate preservation and resource discovery of the records that are retained, enabling timely responses to access to information and privacy requests under Program Activity 1.3.
The commitment to store only records of ongoing business or archival value will enable federal institutions, including LAC, to control document storage conditions and costs.

This begs the question as to which records are of business or archival value? In days gone by we have already experienced cases where an archivist did not see value in records that were of value to the family historian. Will the updated regime be more or less likely to retain such records?

24 November 2011

LAC has a blog

Following hard on the heels of a new Government of Canada Web 2.0 policy announced recently Library and Archives Canada has launched a blog, as a pilot project. Here's the announcement:

Gatineau, November 24, 2011 — Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of our new blog, a project developed by the Resource Discovery Sector.
Monitored and answered by multidisciplinary teams, the Library and Archives Canada Blog provides useful tips and recommends tools to help you discover your documentary heritage and navigate the LACwebsite.
We invite you to discover our rich and varied holdings through the blog. This four-month pilot project is just one of a number of modernization initiatives that focuses on providing you with quick and easy access to the LAC collection. The blog also connects you with LAC and other people who share an interest in Canadian history.
Join in the conversation at:
For more information, please contact us at blog@bac-lac.gc.ca.
So far there are two posts, an opening welcome post and "Published Histories: Discover what individuals or military units did during the war."


An article in the Ottawa Citizen on the government Web 2,0 (social media) policy ends with this opinion
.. social media is interactive, and it remains to be seen how the government will “listen” to Canadians or how responsive it will be. He argues it could be dangerous if it’s used simply as a way for the government to get information out or make policy announcements without the filter of the media.
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/told+social+media+face+page+rule+book/5762876/story.html#ixzz1egByFHvm

DNA interest group meeting

The regular quarterly meeting of the BIFHSGO DNA Special Interest Group will be held at Library and Archives Canada at 9:30 a. m. this coming Saturday, the 26th of November.

This will be a special on-line presentation and question period by Elise Friedman of Myrelatives.net, a consultant with Family Tree DNA. Read more about Elise here.

This is a first online presentation for our DNA Special Interest Group. All are welcome, just be aware that the presentation will NOT be at the introductory level.

Comments on LAC 2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report - II

The LAC 2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report is akin to an organizational Annual Report. It's full of tables, diagrams and dense text. There are just two photographs, one of which is a head shot of the responsible minister.

The Library and Archives of Canada Act came into force in 2004 entrusting LAC with a mandate to:
• preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations;
• serve as a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social, and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society;
• facilitate in Canada co-operation among the communities involved in the acquisition, preservation, and diffusion of knowledge; and
• serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.
To fulfill this mandate LAC was in FY 2010-2011 granted by parliament a spending authority of $129M, and actually spent $112M, or 13% below the authority.

The report sub-divides the spending into four program activities. The extent to which spending in each is more or less than the overall 13% below figure is an indicator of the emphasis LAC management is giving its various activities.

Program Activity 1.1 – Managing the disposition of the Government of Canada records of continuing value. Actual expenditure $10.5M, Total authorities $7.3M, 44% above

Program Activity 1.2 – Managing the documentary heritage of interest to Canada. Actual expenditure $48M, total authorities $68.2M, 30% below.

Program Activity 1.3 – Making the documentary heritage known and accessible for use. Actual expenditure $21M, total authorities $22.8M, 8% below.

Program Activity 1.4 – Internal services. Actual expenditure $30.8M, total authorities $32.4M, 5% below.

The figures are stark evidence of the stress LAC management is placing on "Government of Canada records", largely at the expense of "documentary heritage of interest to Canada." That's true even af alter allowing for $11.8M reprofiled to 2011-12 for a delayed project in Program Activity 1.2.

The concerns of the library community when LAC was formed, that their interests would become subordinate to those of the archival community, appear to be becoming increasingly justified.

Tomorrow we'll start looking at the individual program activities.

23 November 2011

Newspaper digitization

A short post on the US Library of Congress blog Unbreaking News You Can Use: The National Digital Newspaper Program should be required reading for leaders of Library and Archives Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

via EOGN

Comments on the LAC 2010–2011 Departmental Performance Report - I

Have many folks been awaiting the 9,243 word opus which constitutes Library and Archives Canada 2010–2011 Departmental Performance Report, unpublicized, likely unloved, tucked away in an obscure corner of the LAC website here?

The DPR is one rare way to get an insight into what's going on in LAC, but be prepared to wade into and look beyond the bureaucrat-speak.

It isn't an easy read. According of the Gunning Fog index one would need 16.74 years of formal education, that's a Master's degree, in order to easily understand the text on the first reading. The Flesch Kincaid grade level is 14.29.

Those statistics come from analysing the document text using http://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp.

It also identifies nearly 150 sentences, often multiple sentences, to consider for rewriting to improve readability.

Tomorrow, if I manage to penetrate the baffle-gab, and hopefully have a reply to a question for clarification on what seems to be an outright deception sent to LAC two days ago, I'll have comments on the substance.

Ancestry London records update

Ancestry indicate there was an update to their dataset "London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812" on Tuesday.

Explore Suffragettes' records: 100 years on

A bit late with this one, but the UK National Archives have posted a news item:

One hundred years ago today, the Suffragettes of the Women's Social Political Union, armed with stones and hammers, tried to storm Parliament as their campaign for women's right to vote entered a new, more militant phase.

Read it at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/640.htm

22 November 2011

Shopping in Ottawa

Phil Jenkins has a nostalgic item Shopping Down Memory Lane in Monday's Ottawa Citizen worth reading. He suggest's Lapointe's Fish is the oldest continuously operating business in Ottawa, 144 years old.

It might be interesting to compile a list of long-lasting Ottawa businesses. There's no lack of resources.

City directories go back more than 144 years, and there are newspapers older than that, both on microfilm, at the downtown Ottawa Public Library.

LAC also has them, perhaps more than the OPL, although these days you never know if some dolt LAC bureaucrat has decided to "de-accession" most of them, saving only a few so we know what a city directory and newspaper looked like.  That seems to be the way LAC is going.

Let's not overlook the new City Archives near Centrepointe; and the collection in the library at the Bytown Museum.

It may perhaps be that the longest established business isn't in Ottawa's downtown area but in one of the rural communities that now enjoy, or otherwise, being part of the larger City of Ottawa.

Cleveland (N Yorkshire) FHS free online lists

A variety of lists compiled by the Cleveland FHS are online at

They include emigrants (Harper is included), photographers, and records relating to railways, mining, crew lost in a storm on Friday, April 14th 1815 at Runswick (Bay), and others.

via the Andover FHG November newsletter http://www.andoverhgs.org.uk/#/newsletter/4534868822

21 November 2011

WorldVitalRecords.com aquired by MyHeritage.com

A posting by Leland Meitzler on GenealogyBlog tells of the acquisition of WorldVitalRecords.com, and its less well know parent FamilyLink, by Israeli company MyHeritage. 

Read the post at http://www.genealogyblog.com/?p=15368

Innovative mappings of London

If you share my fascination with maps, and have London ancestry, check out
http://mappinglondon.co.uk/ to sample some of the creative things that can be done these days.

Look at the city's ethnic diversity today at http://names.mappinglondon.co.uk/. What would it have looked like in 1881?

Amongst the modern maps are a few enhanced historic maps, such as John Snow's 1854 Cholera map, and this (apparently incomplete) murder map.

via Debbie Kennett on Google+

Reliable and current information on heraldry

Looking for leads on heraldry? On October 12 Robert D. Watt, former Chief Herald of Canada gave a presentation to the BC Genealogical Society.

A handout on "Selected web sources for reliable and current information on heraldry: sources, images, history, applications, further contacts" is available as a pdf at:


20 November 2011

4 useful mapping resources

On Friday evening I took the opportunity to attend the monthly meeting of the Bracknell and Wokingham Branch of the Berkshire FHS.

The speaker was Jeanne Bunting, a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists whose talk was advertised as "Maps, Directories and the Census". As she explained, she cut out the part of the talk that dealt with the census as the techniques she had previously described were now largely redundant owing to indexing.

There was a handout with 30 resources, websites and books. It has a copyright notice so this will just touch on some of the websites mentioned I hadn't encountered before.

A Google add-on; just click on a point on a Google map and it returns latitude and longitude, and tags for Flickr and RoboGEO (a commercial facility for geocoding digital photos.) Originally you could enter an address, but that facility is now disabled.

A way to create Google maps from an array of addresses, intersections, cities, states, and postal codes and other data. You can vary the plotting symbol depending on a data value. Free, there's a Pro edition if you need more capability.

According to the company blurb:

"a few clicks suffice to add points of interest to any geographic area of your choosing and benefit from the power of a professional application.
Simply download your maps to display them on your local computer, share them or publish them on you website, for free."
A commercial version with ability to save maps online is available.

From the Ordnance Survey, quality maps with detail on geographic features and topography.

There's no substitute for exploring these to see if they meet your needs. But, in many cases you'll find the capabilities of My Places at maps.google.com will meet your mapping needs.

A nice touch at the meeting was to be greeted by one of the society leaders, the program chair I think. I also appreciated the single sheet handout, printed on both sides, that briefly introduced the topic of the evening's meeting, summarized the previous one, listed forthcoming event, and on the reverse highlighted new resources and developments.  It can be done online, but taking away a piece of paper, with scrabbled notes on the evening talk, seemed like a especially tangible benefit of having attended.

TNA Podcast: Exploding the mysteries of the Bomb Census

In this shortish presentation Andrew Janes explains how you can research details of bombing incidents using the maps, photographs and other records originally made for the Ministry of Home Security's Bomb Census, which are now held at The National Archives. Important sources for researching Second World War bombing are also held in archives elsewhere and the talk shows how this additional information can help you to build up a much richer picture of an incident. 

You may be interested in the Google mapping of V2 rocket sites, rockets which killed 9,000 Londoners in 1944, at http://londonist.com/2009/01/london_v2_rocket_sitesmapped.php

19 November 2011

More New Brunswick records

Earlier in the year FamilySearch added a collection New Brunswick, County Deed Registry Books, 1780-1941. It has just been updated, with no indication of what extra is added.

In February when the file was initially added some folks commented they had difficulty accessing the records. All seems well for now me, but then it was at the time. With good original indexes available these are A major resources for New Brunswick researchers.

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick is THE major resource for the province. In the last couple of months they have added 35,000 images of death certificates from 1921 to 1928, all accessible through good a search facility. These are wonderfully comprehensive, including parents name and place of birth - to be used with caution.

It shouldnt be a popularity contest

That`s a comment that was made to me when discussing the selection of advisers to Library and Archives Canada some months ago.

The sneer which which the comment was rendered set me back. Democracy is such a drag! Presumably the person speaking had a better idea on how members of parliament ought to be selected, and political party leaders.

So I was interested to run across an election about to commence within the Library and Archives advisory community, for the City of Montréal users on the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec Board of Directors. Voting will be online between Tuesday November 22 at 10:00 and Sunday November 27 at 5:00 pm.

Interestingly only one of the 16 candidates chose to present any information in English; he also repeated it in French and Spanish.

18 November 2011

Feds announce $122.5 million for Edmonton museum

The Royal Alberta Museum will receive a major injection of cash, mostly for infrastructure, for its renewal project according to a press release - http://goo.gl/rXMC0

How does your society perform? 2010 comparison of Canadian genealogical and FHS finances

Each year organizations federally registered as charities in Canada for tax purposes are required to file T3010 returns with the Canada Revenue Agency. Part of the return, including financial information, is available on the Revenue Canada website.

Below is an update of the information posted on this blog in October last year, with the 2010 data, 2009 is in parenthesis. Go to http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html and search for "genealogical" or "family history" to see the complete returns.

In summary, of these ten societies seven have net assets exceeding $100,000. By far the largest is OGS with net assets exceeding $2M.

Seven societies reported a surplus of revenues over expenditures. OGS moved from having the largest surplus in 2009 to having the largest deficit in 2010 despite a 33% membership fee increase.

On average for the ten societies net assets are 3.29 (2.88) times expenditures.

The detail below indicates cases where societies receive government funding and indicate expeditures in management and administration where available.

The Alberta Genealogical Society had total assets of $182,379 ($148,681), and liabilities of $16,699 ($24,352). The total revenue was $164,205 ($141,098) of which $38,839 ($76,817) was received from the provincial government. Expenditures totaled $122,859 ($142,518) of which $93,089 ($114,692) was for occupancy costs. The total expenditure on management and administration was reduced to $13,083 from $65,590 in the previous year report.

The British Columbia Genealogical Society had total assets of $199,265 ($190,521) and liabilities of $8,613 ($7,490). Total revenue was $38,585 ($33,868). Expenditures totaled $30,964 ($27,754). The amount spent on management and administration was not reported for 2010; it was $11,351 in 2009.

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa had total assets of $82,687 ($76,722) and liabilities of $30,732 ($28,490). Total revenue was $51,471 ($51,090) of which $17,985 ($17,855). Expenditures totaled $46,264 ($38,964) with $5,181 ($4,764) spent on management and administration.

The Manitoba Genealogical Society had total assets of $37,279 ($45,448) and liabilities of $10,647 ($15,083). Total revenue was $46,036 ($57,240), $20,330 ($20,502) from memberships. Expenditures totaled $49,794 ($58,222).

The New Brunswick Genealogical Society had total assets of $183,269 ($177,755) including $104,321 ($99,350) as inventories and $74,325 ($74,536) as cash, bank accounts and short-term investments. Total liabilities were $10,430 ($12,014). Total revenue was $40,598 ($39,361) including $22,752 ($24,972) for memberships. Total expenditures were $33,501 ($37,098) including $20,370 ($22,159) for advertising and promotion.

The Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia had total assets of $303,274 ($301,042) and no reported liabilities for either year. Total revenue was $32,549 ($23,058) of which $13,850 was from memberships. Total expenditures were $30,317 ($42,912). of which $11,385 ($12,052) was spent on management and administration.

The Ontario Genealogical Society had total assets of $2,484,562 ($2,574,939) of which $1,526,629 ($1,682,525) was held as cash bank accounts and short-term investments. Liabilities totaled $299,241 ($391,261). Total revenue was $588,037 ($641,731) including $320,678 ($286,328) from memberships. That's a 12% increase in the total as a result of a 33% individual fee increase.  $32,564 ($27,188) was received from governments. Expenditures totaled $644,944 ($628,220) of which $106,596 ($97,800) was spent on management and administration.

The Québec Family History Society had total assets of $62,120 ($54,811) of which $56,958 ($48,993) was held as cash bank accounts and short-term investments. Liabilities totaled $17,480 ($10,514). Total revenue was $49,083 ($49,625) the largest component of which, $33,371 ($34,893) was for memberships. Expenditures totaled $48,740 ($50,679) including $22,822 ($22,571) for occupancy costs. There were no costs for management and administration but $17,950 ($16,341) was reported for office supplies and expenses.

The Saskatchewan Genealogical Society had total assets of $100,126 ($124,741) including $82,697 ($104,644) in cash, bank accounts and short-term investments. Liabilities totaled $117,710 ($126,108) including $111,506 ($101,719) of deferred revenue. Total revenue of $229,058 ($240,414) included $137,227 ($132,619) from government sources. Expenditures of $245,275 ($261,701) included $172,835 ($174,927) for management and administration.

The Victoria Genealogical Society had total assets of $197,975 ($211,023) and liabilities of $57,349 ($74,150). Total revenue was $53,836 ($40,232) including $0 ($18,650) from government sources. Expenditures totaled $32,490 ($36,629).

Find My Past TV: Mutiny on the Bounty

Thursday evening's episode on Yesterday TV (a UK cable channel) featured the mutiny on HMS Bounty. Descendants of Capt William Bligh, Master John Fryer and senior officer Fletcher Christian who lead the mutiny explored the story.

This was an event which looked back much further in time than in the previous four episodes. Although the show showed each of the three descendants ancestors in the 1911 census on FMP, as in the previous episodes, that left a considerable gap to get back to the Bounty ancestor, a gap FMP databases were not able to bridge.

Not knowing much about this event I enjoyed the story. The reactions of the three descendants were more spontaneous than in previous episodes.

17 November 2011

Canadian Library Association straddles the fence

In response to the Canadian Association of University Teachers campaign on Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Library Association adopts a conciliatory position. CLA suggests diasatisfied with the present situation when it  refers to its:

 "long-standing position to advocate to government for the position of Librarian and Archivist of Canada to be filled by an individual who holds library or archival professional qualifications."
Read the CLA post at http://goo.gl/XVPTv

Canada's National Online Library

This article from Macleans http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=e14487580 speaks volumes, in its silence, about the neglect by the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in supporting, let alone leading, efforts to digitize some of Canada's oldest and more important historical documents. It's an effort that should include historical newspapers, something that other many countries are moving ahead on with national level funding.

New Ancestry image viewer

Ancestry have introduced a new image viewer, still in beta, which I had a chance to preview a few weeks ago. Although I was a bit unsure in my evaluation as I'd just shifted my internet service provider to a faster service I liked what I saw.

The description of the new viewer is at http://goo.gl/S737Y. There are still some issues, which is why its in beta. Give it a try.

Family Tree DNA sale

The following is an announcement from Family Tree DNA sent to project administrators.
As we approach the holiday season, we feel having one BIG promotion for a sufficient amount of time best supports our volunteer Administrators, in their effort to recruit new members. Current members will also benefit by having simultaneously reduced prices for upgrades.
Effective immediately this promotion will end on December 31, 2011.
We hope that this will give a big boost to your projects!
New Kits                          Current Group Price              SALE PRICEY-DNA 37                          $149                      $119Y-DNA 67                          $239                      $199mtFullSequence           $299                      $239SuperDNA (Y-DNA67 and FMS) $518                           $438Family Finder                     $289                      $199Family Finder + mtPlus  $438                      $318Family Finder + FMS              $559                      $439Family Finder+ Y-DNA37  $438                      $318Comprehensive (FF + FMS + Y-67) $797             $627
12-25 Marker                      $49                       $3512-37 Marker                      $99                       $6912-67 Marker                      $189                      $14825-37 Marker                      $49                       $3525-67 Marker                      $148                      $11437-67 Marker                      $99                       $79Family Finder                     $289                      $199mtHVR1toMega             $269                      $209

A worthwhile opportunity if you've been wavering over taking a test, or encouraging a relative to take one.  

OGS Kingston and Quinte branch meetings on Saturday

Kingston Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society will host Paul Van Nest of the Civil War Roundtable Group to speak about Canada and U.S. Civil War connections on Saturday, 19 November, 2011 at 10 a.m. Details at: www.ogs/on.ca/kingston

Three hours later the Quinte Branch of OGS will hold its Annual General Meeting with a presentation on Researching Canadian WWI Records Using Online and Traditional Resources by Rick Roberts of Global Genealogy. Details are at: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canqbogs/meetings.htm
Global Genealogy will have books and material for sale.

16 November 2011

Online checkout in real life

Having been through the agony of the Air Canada online reservation system recently this hit a chord. I hope it doesn't give LAC management any ideas

A visit to the Wellcome Library

I blogged about the Wellcome Library back in September and put a visit there on my to do list for my next trip to London.  That happened on Tuesday.

The library is a short walk on Euston Road from the British Library, and even closer to the Warren Street underground station where I exited off the Northern Line. Euston Square underground station is yet closer.

The library forms only part of the institution The Wellcome Trust. I had limited time. There was much ìn the building I didn't explore including the bookstore and cafe on the ground floor.

On the second floor (it would be the third in North America) is the main entrance to the library where I registered as a reader. That took filling out a form plus two pieces of identification, a passport and driver`s licence worked, and I ended up with another plastic card with my photo on. There was no charge.

The main purpose of the visit was to get the card, valid for three years, so I could access their registered patrons-only online resources, including the 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Illustrated London News Historical Archive : 1842-2003, and Times Digital Archive.

I had previously identified an item in the collection I wanted to look at which required some time to retrieve. I browsed the collection. Recall that it`s a library based on an original private collection on the history of medicine. What did I find of genealogical interest?

Register of Nurses, the first dated 1916/23
Medical Register, 1859-2003 (broken)
Medical Directory, starts 1846, 1870-2012
Midwives Roll, 1901-1978/79
Physiotherapists Register 1963-1964 ; 1970-1974
Opticians Register 1960-63

plus, numerous parish register transcriptions.

My most surprising find was a run of the Journal of Family History.  The current editor is from the History Department at Carleton University! It's an academic definition of Family History, more the history of the family, full of articles that may be of interest in putting context to your own family history. An example is this article by Sandra Rollings-Magnusson in the most recent issue:

Flax Seed, Goose Grease, and Gun Powder: Medical Practices By Women Homesteaders in Saskatchewan (1882-1914) 
Various studies conducted over the past three decades have highlighted the social, political, and economic impact that women homesteaders had on the western prairie region. Their involvement on the family homestead, whether taking part in subsistence and domestic chores or as workers in the fields, was a necessary aspect of the development and success of family farming and an agriculture-based economy in Western Canada. This paper reveals details of another aspect of family labor that often fell on the shoulders of women, that is, the provision of medical care needed to ensure the health of themselves, their spouses, and their children. Given the labor-intensive nature of the frontier lifestyle, the associated physical hazards, the number of disease-susceptible children in the region, and the scarcity of medical institutions and personnel, women were often called upon by their families and neighbors to deal with outbreaks of disease, injuries, and health crises. Using survey data collected by the Saskatchewan Archives Board in 1955 to illustrate the nature of the work performed, this paper argues that women's health care labor efforts were vital to the preservation of homesteading families in the prairie region.

15 November 2011

Find My Past TV show

While in England I've had the opportunity to view four one-hour episodes of the TV programme Find My Past - http://www.findmypast.co.uk/content/find-my-past-tv/about.html

Three people, family members of three people who had a part in a historic event in British history, are taken on a journey to help them understand the significance of the event and the role their family member played.

It's broadcast on Yesterday, a UK commercial "cable" channel.

I saw episodes on the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Titanic, the Battle of Britain, and, the last, D-Day. The last was the most interesting.

There is perhaps 20-30 minutes of good television in each hour; lots of recaps after each commercial break, a meeting of the three family members in the final segment which seems rather artificial, and family members whose reactions only occasionally seem authentic.

Nevertheless, I'll probably watch the next one, on the Mutiny on the Bounty.

TNA presentation: Anxiety, dread and disease: British ports 1834-1870

I attended a presentation by Sarah Hutton, the final one during a week of lectures exploring the diversity of the TNA collection.

The graph, not shown during the lecture, shows that the port city of Liverpool experienced a death rate much higher than usual from 1846 to 1849 during the Irish potato famine. In 1849 5,308 deaths were attributed to cholera.

Lack of familiarity with the disease engendered dread, especially because of its  rapid and painful development.
The progress of the illness in a cholera victim was a frightening spectacle: two or three died of diarrhoea which increased in intensity and became accompanied by painful retching; thirst and dehydration; sever pain in the limbs, stomach, and abdominal muscles; a change skin hue to a sort of bluish-grey. http://www.victorianweb.org/science/health/health10.html
Liverpool's economy depended on trade and so was vulnerable to health threats from outside brought in by travelers. 

Sarah Hutton presented two case studies of how local communities reacted to such external health threats, often in a manner disproportionate to the nature of the threat.

The presentation should eventually be available as a podcast, if the persistent coughing of one audience member isn't too distracting.

14 November 2011

Ottawa Branch OGS November meeting

Date:           Tuesday, 15 November 2011: 7:00 p.m.
Location:     City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive
Topic:          The Street Arab – The Story of a British Home Child
Speaker:      Sandra Joyce, author
Contact:        http://ogsottawa.on.ca
Everyone welcome. Free refreshments. Free parking.
On 26 November, Sandra  will talk about the background of,  and read a selection from, “The Street Arab – The Story of a British Child”, at the Collected Works Bookstore and Coffee Bar, located at 1242 Wellington Street East in Ottawa, from 7 to 9 PM. There will also be a book signing.

The Connacht and Munster Landed Estates database

Irish researchers may be interested in "a comprehensive and integrated resource guide to landed estates and historic houses in Connacht and Munster, c. 1700-1914" at http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie:8080/LandedEstates/jsp/.

You can search by estate, family (2,700) and house (4,500 including images). There is a map of the locations. 

A tip of the hat to Jane MacNamara for pointing me to the website for this project and commenting that the list of "Reference Sources" which has some wonderfully obscure titles. I surfed around and chanced on:

- a project "Death and Funerary Practices, 1829-1901" to digitise, preserve and disseminate a substantial hand-written, local history collection of nineteenth-century newspaper obituaries, hedgestone inscriptions and maps of burial grounds dating from Catholic Emancipation to Queen Victoria’s death (1829-1901).

- a flickr set of photos of Munster, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/sets/72157625431868193/

13 November 2011

Family history and genealogy society library survey results

Thanks to the 75 people who came to the survey opened up a couple of weeks ago. With the caveat that there's no way the survey is scientific or representative of anything but the views of those responding, here are the results.

90% of respondents belong to a society that has a physical library.

40% had used it during the past month, and a further 8% within three months. That's much greater usage than observed at the Ottawa City Archives, which hosts the OGS Ottawa Branch and BIFHSGO libraries.

More than twice as many respondents had access to a library that is strictly for reference than those with access to a library which lend materials.

More than twice as many people viewed the physical library as an important service offered by the society, twice as many as saw it as of marginal benefit.

11 of 14 (78%) of respondents who had access to a virtual (online) society library answered they had used it during the past three months. That compares to 48% for the physical library.

 The comments left were:

1 I have used a family history library often in the past but less so now I'm doing more overseas research with my own references.

2 I wish they were open for longer hours. I would gladly pay a small fee/per use if the Society publications were digitized & available online.

3 The library is under-utilized and I believe a campaign to publicize it would be helpful.

4 Our society donated its collection to our county library HQ which has an extensive facility. the county library also has a large collection from the National Gen. Society.

5 The OGS virtual library is under construction.

6 Our library at city archives is most valuable and substantial. Jim L

7 The on-line information is limited but still very useful for research about the area.

8 If the society had a home it might built a library, it meets at a public building. Like the idea of a virtual library.

9 Wish I had more time to browse the collection!

10 Distance and time to get there are factors in not using a physical library.

11 We are fortunate our OGS branch library is housed within our public library. Our holdings are catalogued along with the pub. lib. holdings. Our books are accessible to the general public all the hours the library is open. In exchange, library committee branch members are required to reshelve books in this room. It's a wonderful branch library!

12 I have just relocated from Montreal to Vancouver and will retain my QFHS membership and also join the BCGS next week. I fully expect to use their library too.

13 Victoria Genealogical Society in Victoria BC has a marvelous Resource Centre. Check it out at www.victoriags.org

14 Virtual library to me means full text of books, journals and while there is some of that for OGS and BIFHSGO I am saying that it doesn't fit my definition. Getting volunteers to run the libraries is the challenge. I currently volunteer and there have also been few genealogy clients to serve. I'm beginning to think that there is less benefit than I used to.

15 Brilliant, but more digitisation would be good, especially when it comes to national libraries as, for example, the society of genealogists is based 3 hours away and not open on days I can visit!

16 Some of the books the QFHS has are old enough and rare enough that I consider it a great advantage to have "free" access to them.

New book notice: Ancestors and Relatives: Genealogy, Identity, and Community

Author: Eviatar Zerubavel
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Release date: November 9, 2011
240 pages
ISBN-10: 0199773955
ISBN-13: 978-0199773954

Publisher's blurb:

Genealogy has long been one of humanity's greatest obsessions. But with the rise of genetics, and increasing media attention to it through programs like Who Do You Think You Are? and Faces of America, we are now told that genetic markers can definitively tell us who we are and where we came from.

The problem, writes Eviatar Zerubavel, is that biology does not provide us with the full picture. After all, he asks, why do we consider Barack Obama black even though his mother was white? Why did the Nazis believe that unions of Germans and Jews would produce Jews rather than Germans? In this provocative book, he offers a fresh understanding of relatedness, showing that its social logic sometimes overrides the biological reality it supposedly reflects. In fact, rather than just biological facts, social traditions of remembering and classifying shape the way we trace our ancestors, identify our relatives, and delineate families, ethnic groups, nations, and species. Furthermore, genealogies are more than mere records of history. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, Zerubavel introduces such concepts as braiding, clipping, pasting, lumping, splitting, stretching, and pruning to shed light on how we manipulate genealogies to accommodate personal and collective agendas of inclusion and exclusion. Rather than simply find out who our ancestors were and identify our relatives, we actually construct the genealogical narratives that make them our ancestors and relatives.

An eye-opening re-examination of our very notion of relatedness, Ancestors and Relatives offers a new way of understanding family, ethnicity, nationhood, race, and humanity.

12 November 2011

FreeBMD November update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Thursday 10 Nov 2011 and contains 208,303,224 distinct records (264,209,871 total records). Major gaps in the 1940s are being filled in and new ground being broken in the second half of the 1950s.

1851 census of England, Wales, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands at FamilySearch

FamilySearch have already added or updated 76 databases in November, many for the US and a lot for Italy. 

Courtesy of Findmypast there are now 18,341,933 records for the British Isles (minus Scotland and Ireland). These are searchable transcriptions of name, age,
gender, birthplace and relationship to head of household. There is a link to the record image at the commercial Findmypast site. Note that neither the place of residence nor the exact reference is given.

FamilySearch now has similar databases for each census available except 1871. 

Ancestry London records update

The following London database updates are announced by Ancestry.co.uk. 

London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921
London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812
UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849
London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906
London, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980
London, England, Poor Law Records, 1834-1940

The number of records in each database is given, but not how many are new, or it could be just an update to the explanatory material.

Opinion: on self-serving LAC

Sometimes I wonder if I'm overly harsh on LAC, then I read this:


11 November 2011

The house at Ors

On my next visit to the Great War battlefields of France and Belgium I'd like to take in a new stop, a shrine to war poet hero Wilfred Owen

Read an article from the Daily Telegraph at http://goo.gl/0IG0e and from the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15659821 (perhaps the video won't play outside the UK).

A Remembrance Day Tribute to a Namesake

Private John Reid, Regimental Number 3032933, was like thousands of others we honour on 11 November, just doing his duty with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

His death was no spectacular "over the top" action. He was "Killed instantly by enemy shell fire while moving forward with his battery to take up positions south of TILLOY during a heavy enemy bombardment." Tilloy-les-Mofflaines is a village 3 kilometres south-east of Arras.

According to his  CEF Burial Register card, available on Ancestry.ca, he died on 4 October 1918 while serving with the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps.

According to his Commonwealth War Graves Commission record he was "Son of the late William and Agnes Wilson Reid; husband of Francis McDougall Reid, of Forest Hall, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, England." and is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial.

His attestation paper, completed in Toronto on 14 January 1918, gives a present address for him and his mother "Mrs Agnes Riley" in Fairpoint, Ohio. Birth information given is 20 Sept 1891 in Glasgow, Scotland. He was occupation merchant and had previously served for 2 years with the 8th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

His CEF Commonwealth War Graves Registration card gives his next of kin as Mrs F Reid of Forest Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne. On the back it names Mrs Agnes Riley and Mary Wilson (grandmother), both of Amsterdam, Jefferson County, Ohio.

If we speculate that Mrs Agnes Riley was his sister then there is a Scottish census entry (Ancestry transcription) that fits most of the available information, a John C Reid born in Glasgow, father William, mother and sister both named Agnes, as well as another sister named Margaret.

Scientific Amercian1845-1909 archive free online for November

Read what your ancestor read. Free access to digitized issues of Scientific American, starting with Vol 1, Number 1, for November 30, 2011.

Find it at: Scientific American, 1845-1909

Navy List additions to Ancestry

I'm told that Ancestry have found a technology that produces searchable copy from published material that they now find satisfactory, something that wasn't previously the case.

On line in time for Nov 11 are three issues of the UK Navy List, http://goo.gl/qg82F, which contain information on the careers of  commissioned and warrant officers of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service, Coast Guard, and other naval entities. 

The issues now online are for October 1908,  April 1914, and  November 1914. 

10 November 2011

Remembrance: free military record access

Everyone can freely access Ancestry's collection of WW1 records until November 13.

BIFHSGO November Meeting

The BIFHSGO meeting closest to Remembrance Day often features a presentation with a military connection.

On November 12 BIFHSGO member and local author Brooke Broadbent will present a story from his family history Moonrakers at Peace and War.

As has been the case now for several years, but maybe not much longer, the event is in the auditorium at Library and Archives Canada. It will be preceded at 9am by an education session on Online Books given by society president Glenn Wright.

Further information is at http://www.bifhsgo.ca/

09 November 2011

Find My Past adds Cheshire collection

Newly added at findmypast.co.uk, 10 million records for Cheshire which span the period 1538-1910:

These are transcriptions and images of the originals.

To come "very soon" are Chester Wills and Probate records and Land Tax Records to complete the Cheshire Collection.

UK trade union, employers' and trade association archives

The University of Warwick Modern Records Centre hosts:

 "an unrivalled collection of UK trade union, employers' and trade association archives. ...  The Centre has produced an occupational guide to its sources, although family historians should note that many of the unions listed have not deposited membership records at the Centre."
From blacksmith to woodworkers, 30 trades are covered. There are sometimes multiple unions for each trade. For example, 29 union archives for printing and paper workers.

Most of the information is not online. A few items are, such as "Obituaries from the Fortnightly Returns of the Operative Society of Masons, Quarrymen and Allied Trades of England and Wales." There is an index for 19,600 entries from 1836-1900 giving surname, first name, location, age at death, relationship to member, date of Fortnightly Return, date of death, cause of death and other information.

Thanks to Ken Mcleod for the info, via Glenn Wright

Accountability at LAC

A short item from UK author Daniel Pink at http://www.danpink.com/archives/2011/11/call-my-cell
shows an example of a restaurant owner who prominently displays his personal cell phone number for clients to call if their dining experience didn't measure up.

That's accountability.

Accountability is something LAC has not been accused of lately. The bad press LAC is getting is in part attributable to lack of dialogue with clients.

Contrast the situation at LAC with that at The UK National Archives. Go to http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/get-involved/have-your-say.htm for links to TNA's User Advisory Group, User Forum, and disclosure on complaints received and the action taken. There is a straightforward complaint procedure documented at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/contact/complaints.htm

In addition the head of the organization holds a well advertised open consultation event on at least an annual basis.

That's accountability.

So what's the situation at LAC? A "What's New" item in later August at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/whats-new/013-538-e.html informs that:

in May 2011, LAC convened a Stakeholders Forum, comprised of approximately 40 individuals representing national library, archival and historical research communities and organizations.
Apparently only some partners, not clients, are stakeholders. There is the barest information on what was achieved by the meeting.

In the final paragraph of the What's New item there is an undertaking to "look for creative ways to engage all of its stakeholders and client groups in this ongoing consultation process." This is to be evaluated in the first quarter of 2012.  So what has happened? How will the evaluation involve the clients in deciding if the consultation process is satisfactory?

There doesn't seem to be a specific way to register complaints for LAC.  The Contact Us tab at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/contact/index-e.html lists ways to request service online, including public inquiries telephone numbers leading to a eight option menu, none of which relate to complaints.

Under the heading "Live Chat Service" it reads:
Within the modernization process, Library and Archives Canada is undertaking the development and implementation of a Thematic Blog pilot project for October 2011. This project will run for three months. For this reason the chat service will not resume at present. Please follow the development of this new communication tool under “What’s new” on our web site.
It's past October and there's nothing posted under "What's New" yet!

Where's the accountability?