31 December 2011

Thanks to contributors for 2011

Thanks to everyone who helped and encouraged this year by posting comments, questions, providing information, or publicizing the blog, including;

Aillin, Alison, Amy, Angela, Ann, Anne, Anonymous, Astrid, Audrey, Bankie, Barb, Barbara, Belinda, Bill, Bob, Brenda, Brian, Bryan, Canadarod, Cannuk, Carol, Caroline, cassmob, Chris, Christine, Darryl, David, Debbie, Del, Dick, Don, Dorothy, Ed, Elisabeth, Elizabeth, Ellen, Emerging Writer, Eric, Family Tree Sleuth, Geniaus, Glenn, Gordon, Grandma Shirley, Jean, Guido, Gwyneth, Harry, Heather, Helen, Hugh, Ian, ibks, iw.gen, J, J Brian, Jane, Janet, jennywrennz, Jenny4275, Jeri, Jim's Girl, Joan, Joanne, London Remembers, Judy, Julie, Ken, kewbird, Kirsty, Laura, LDC, Leighann, Lesley, Linda, Lisa, Liz, Louis, Lynda, Lynne, Malcolm, Marcus, Margaret, Marian, Marion, marjorea, Mary Anne, Mary Caroline, M C Moran, Mel, MerRhosyn, MHD, Mick, Mike, Nathan, Nicki, Old Census Scribe, Pam(ela), Pat, Patricia, Paul, Penske, Persephone, Peter, Phil, Pierce, PJAdams1994, Randy, Rick, Ros, Roy, Sandra, Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, Sharon, Sherry, Shirley, Stephanie, Steve, Susan, Thomas, Tom, Tony, treesrch, Unknown, Wallace, wanderinggenealogist, Wayne, William.

Also, a blog is nothing without readers. Thank you and a Happy New Year to all.

Yuletide R&R favourites - 7

In celebration of Ronnie Corbett being awarded the CBE, to go with his OBE, in the New Year's Honours List

Churchill in Ottawa

Churchill in Ottawa, 31 Dec 1941
A postscript to the post yesterday on Winston Churchill's "Some chicken. Some neck!" speech. BIFHSGO friend Anne Sterling sent this photo of Churchill taken by her father Thomas Story Sterling.

The hat is distinctive.

According to the Montreal Gazette of 1 Jan 1942, which also has a picture of Churchill in the same hat, it was sealskin and presented to him on 31 December, the day after his speech, by the Parliamentary Press Gallery during a press conference at Rideau Hall. He was reported to have appreciated it as he had noticed the cold, the temperature that morning was 5F, -15C.

30 December 2011

Yuletide R&R (not)

This isn't a favourite but appropriate to the season for those whose bathroom scales are telling them they had an overly indulgent Christmas.

Ottawa's Yoni Freedhoff proprietor of "a multi-disciplinary, ethical, evidence-based nutrition and weight management centre" has "12 resolutions that will help steer you towards a healthier lifestyle, whether you've got weight you'd like to lose or not. 12 resolutions that are each in and of themselves extremely straight forward and doable. Some might involve doing, others simply thinking, and if any of them don't seem useful to you, skip on to the next."

and, also via the Weighty Matters blog this Jib Jab retrospective video.

Want a last minute tax deduction?

In the US, according to a seven-year study by Network for Good of online-giving behavior, 22 percent of all online gifts to charities are made in the last two days of the year. These two days of giving cap off the month of December when charities receive one-third of all their online donations. http://goo.gl/6LrgA

Canada isn't the US, but consider making a last-minute online donation and help the federally registered charity of your choice.
  How? First check out the organization website. I didn't find many genealogy/family history societies that could accept a donation online, but maybe your's is one.

I look to the charities I support to be effective. My guide is Charity Intelligence Canada, which for whatever reason only names one Ottawa charity, The Ottawa Food Bank (pdf). Cash goes a lot further than the food you drop off in the supermarket collection bin, and you get a charitable receipt.

There are many other options, local, national and international. Remember to help your good cause before the end of the year if you can.

Some chicken

Congratulations to the Ottawa Citizen on this article remembering the landmark "Some chicken. Some neck" speech by Winston Churchill in Canada's Parliament 70 years ago today.

This was the occasion on which Yosef Karsh took his photograph of Churchill scowling, a photo that is now housed with the Karsh collection at Library and Archives Canada .

It's remarkable that LAC, supposedly one of Canada's major memory institutions, seems to have amnesia about this anniversary for which it holds an important artifact. No mention on the LAC website.

Could it be LAC's management is embarrassed that under the present organization  collection policy the Karsh photographs might not even qualify for accession.

Some chicken leadership.

29 December 2011

Yuletide R&R favourites - 6

On Tuesday at Carlingwood Mall I ran into DWP, a BIFHSGO members, regular reader and frequent comment contributor, who commented on some the Yuletide items posted recently. He mentioned that some aren't much to do with Yuletide. True. They're really just for a change of pace, and to get through the quiet period when there's nothing much new genealogically to report.

I mentioned to DWP a cache of the 10 best TED videos for 2011, As it says in the ReadWriteWeb blog where they're posted, they are "uniformly interesting, educational, inspiring, and enjoyable. If you haven't spent much time (or any) checking out TED videos, you should"

Start at http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_best_10_ted_talks_of_2011.php

Coming in 2012 from Ancestry.ca

Here's the list of new Canadian records coming in 2012 from Ancestry.ca

Canada Voters Lists, 1938–1980
WWI Honours and Awards Citation Cards
Updated Birth, Marriage and Death Records—British Columbia, Nova Scotia

Short, the voters lists are the highlight. They were promised for 2011, will they actually be delivered in 2012?

28 December 2011

TNA podcast: Preparing the 1911 census for digitisation

Are you one of those who enjoys the movie about the making of the movie almost as much as the movie itself? If so this podcast explaining the work that went into getting the 8 million schedules in 34,934 volumes constituting the 1911 census of England and Wales onto the web will be of interest.

You'll learn about the process from its start in 2004, the arrival of the grubby and unboxed volumes at Kew, assessment of the task, selection of a contractor, condition of the material and treatment undertaken to deal with problems, to the digitization process and post processing storage of the originals.

The PowerPoint slideshow used during the presentation by Anna Bulow, TNA's head of preservation, at Census Day at Kew on 1 October 2011 can be downloaded. That makes it so much easier to understand the presentation than the typical TNA podcast devoid of the visual aids.

See it at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/preparing-1911-census-for-digitisation.htm

Coming in 2012 from Ancestry.com

A 12 item list of expected products and improvements for 2012 arrived from ancestry.com

1. Announcing the 1940 U.S. Federal Census—the 72-year wait is over
2. A fully-indexed 1911 UK Census, plus more U.S. state censuses
3. Additional U.S. birth, marriage and death records
4. New U.S. and international church records
5. Millions of new occupation-related records
6. Clearer images plus new census technology showing more details
7. Direct access to more Ancestry Hints that can lead you to new records
8. Free family tree apps for Apple, Android, Kindle Fire and NOOK
9. New ways to connect and grow your tree with help from social networking sites
10. New answers in your DNA
11. Ancestry Hints from new historical record collections
12. Tips and instruction directly from the pros at Ancestry.com

There's more detail at http://goo.gl/pAJC5

Did you notice there's nothing for Canada, and only one item for the UK?  So did I.

I'm told by my favourite Ancestry person there will be a press release coming with a similar list for the international components of Ancestry.  Stay tuned.

Remember these are plans which can go awry. A year ago we were promised, see http://goo.gl/i4vqr, Canada: Voter records, 1935-1983, which are still to appear.

27 December 2011

Coming in 2012 on Findmypast.co.uk

Here's information from findmypast.co.uk on what's forthcoming.

Big improvements to our family tree: you'll love what we've got planned
1881-1901 Scottish censuses, giving us the most complete England, Wales and Scotland census collection

Three million crime, courts and convicts records, in partnership with The National Archives

More local record collections, including Wales, Westminster, Canterbury and Hertfordshire

Electoral rolls 1832-1928, in partnership with the British Library

New tools to help you organise your research

Maritime birth, marriage and death records, which will add to our already comprehensive BMD collection

A new and improved help & advice section

Elizabeth Lapointe's Canada's best genealogical resources

Elizabeth Lapointe's GenealogyCanada blog is running a series on best genealogical resources in the lead up to its 4th blogiversary on January 2.

Postings feature the following topics -

Dec 26 – List of Books for the Holidays
Dec 27 – African-Canadian Societies
Dec 28 – French-Canadian Societies
Dec 29 – Canadian Archival Societies
Dec 30 – Ontario Genealogical Groups
Dec 31 – Most Popular Pages of 2011
Jan 1 – Happy New Year!
Jan 2 – Our 4th Blogiversary!

Find the blog, one that's on my regular visit list, at GenealogyCanada.blogspot.com

26 December 2011

Yuletide R&R favourites - 5

I wonder why I enjoyed this?

That's not very seasonal is it?  Does this get closer to the true spirit of Chrsitmas?

OGS Toronto Branch - winter 2012 courses

The Toronto Branch of the OGS has announced its winter 2012 lineup of family history courses. The Branch will be presenting four courses in February and March 2012, with a view to providing practical information for researchers with a variety of interests and a range of experience:

Family History Writing
This course is designed for individuals who want to make progress with organizing and writing up their research for personal or public use. Instructor: Gayle Dzis

Sharing Networks for Genealogists
This new half-day workshop will offer new ideas and approaches to sharing genealogical data on-line safely and effectively. Instructor: Marian Press

Creating a Family History Blog – for Genealogists
This new course will be taught in a computer lab. It will provide all the information necessary to find and read blogs, but will concentrate on how to build one's own blog to share family research. Instructor: Marian Press

Exploring the Baldwin Room's Manuscript Collection
This advanced course will explore the important Canadian manuscript collection housed in the Baldwin Room at the Toronto Reference Library, with hands-on examination of several manuscript fonds. Instructor: Jane E. MacNamara

For program details, speaker biographies and information on how to register for Toronto Branch courses, visit www.torontofamilyhistory.org/courses.html.

via Gwyneth Pearce

24 December 2011

Family Chronicle: Jan/Feb 2012 issue

The first 2012 issue of Family Chronicle, the flagship publication from Toronto-based Moorshead Magazines, arrived in my mailbox on Thursday. Its theme, although with just two articles, is the War of 1812.

The War of 1812: An Introduction
David A. Norris gives a basic overview to the genealogical records of the "forgotten war"

George Kuck and the War of 1812
Guylaine Petrin chronicles her research into a British loyal subject and veteran of the War of 1812.

There will be more in one of the company's increasingly frequent, and popular, special publications. The latest "Tracing Your Irish Ancestors" is just released. "Tracing your War of 1812 Ancestors," is coming in May. That's just in time for the annual Ontario Genealogical Society conference with its theme "Borders and Bridges: 1812-2012" which commands a full page ad in this issue.

Regular contributor Emily Anne Croom has two articles:

Remembering Their Time: Sherman's March, 1865
Emily A. Croom looks at one family's Civil War experience

Who Was Theodocia's Mother?
Emily A. Croom documents her quest to discover the name of her great-aunt's mother.

For those of us getting ready for next September's BIFHSGO conference there are two Scottish theme articles:

Tartan Tangles: Unravelling Scots With the Same Names
Amanda Epperson, Ph. D. chronicles her research process for tracing your Scottish ancestors
Scottish Case Study: The Nelson Family
Diane L. Richard chronicles her search for her Scottish ancestors

And there's more.

Look for the magazine at newsstands or subscribe through http://www.familychronicle.com/.

Yuletide R&R favourites - 3

'Tis the season ... to bring out the classic films on TV. Here, via Persephone's Post it Notes from Hades blog, two amazing movie dance routines you likely won't otherwise see. Even my nephew who is posts on Facebook about Dubstep might appreciate these. Both are tacked on to vocal numbers so, especially in the second, be a bit patient.

23 December 2011

Infant mortality in 19th-Century Montreal and Liverpool

A study from Concordia and McGill Univerities finds French-Canadian (Catholic) children in Montreal experienced a disproportionate number of deaths if weaned early. You can read the press release below.

Does this hold true in Britain?
Lacking the resources and SSHRC research grant of the Montreal investigators, are there any clues? 
Looking at the records on FreeBMD in the Liverpool registration district from 1866, when age at death started to be recorded, to 1890:
For children with first name Patrick 2530 births were registered and 657 deaths for infants age 0. Likely these would be dominated by Irish Catholics.  
For first name George, 4216 births of children were registered, assumed Protestant, and 1040 deaths for infants age 0. 
In both cases it's an appalling infant mortality around 25%, with Patrick having a nearly 2% higher infant mortality than George, hardly convincing, perhaps indicative.

Newspapers at the time linked infant mortality to working mothers who were not able to continue breast-feeding their child. A study in Staffordshire reported in the Liverpool Mercury of September 27, 1894 found infant mortality was one third higher for working than non-working mothers.

The press release
Montreal, December 20, 2011 —Breastfeeding increased infant survival rates in 19th -Century Montreal in two major ways, according to research from Concordia University and McGill University. Mother's milk protected vulnerable infants from food and water contaminated by fecal bacteria, while breastfeeding postponed the arrival of more siblings and that improved the health of mothers as well as their subsequent children.

Published in the journal Population Studies, using data gathered from Montreal's civil burial records and the 1881 Census, the study examined how poverty, poor sanitation, disease and various cultural factors affected death rates among newborns and children.

"Infant feeding practices, such as how long to breastfeed, at what age to introduce food supplements and in what season to wean, all influenced infant survival and all were subject to cultural tradition," says first author Patricia Thornton, a professor in the Concordia University Department of Geography, Planning and Environment.

Cultural groups that stopped breastfeeding earlier and especially before the summer when rising temperatures, dry weather and falling water table made contamination worst, were also more likely to have their next child more rapidly and less likely to limit their family size. This caused both the mother's and her next child's health to suffer.

"Poverty, high population density, room crowding and contagious diseases all affected death rates among children, yet these effects were nuanced by cultural identity," says co-author Sherry Olson, a professor in the McGill University Department of Geography.

The cultural factor
Studying 19th - Century health in Montreal was compelling for Thornton and Olson, since the city featured three well defined cultural groups: French Canadians, Irish Catholics and Protestants from Great Britain and Ireland. Each group had their own residential and occupational profile.

"Cultural factors eclipsed economic status as factors that influenced infant death rates," says Thornton. "Even though most French and Irish Catholics lived in similar working class conditions, the positive effects of later marriage and longer breastfeeding among Irish Catholics protected their infants and children, while French Canadians' infants were negatively impacted by early weaning."

According to the study, French Canadian women were weaning earlier, having more children and waiting less time between babies. What's more, French Canadian infants who survived their first year were more likely to suffer from bouts of intestinal diarrhea that could render them more vulnerable to common childhood illnesses.

Poverty and disease
Economic status, environmental conditions and neighbourhood characteristics all had an impact on newborns' and children's health and lifespan. High population density and crowded conditions helped the spread of contagious diseases and along with the presence of horses, and their impact on sanitation, all played a role in health.

"While French Canadian children bore a disproportionate share of urban deaths," says Thornton, "those who reached the age of 10 were as likely to survive as others and much more likely to survive than Irish Catholic men."

Why Montreal?
"The exceptional quality of records in Montreal provides a rare opportunity to study a North American metropolis in 1881, and to demonstrate the effects of poverty on infant and child mortality, as well as mortality over a lifetime," says Olson, noting, Montreal is one of few industrial cities where high-quality registration permits the examination of mortality with respect to a wide range of social and environmental factors.

"In the city of Montreal in 1881, the presence of three cultural communities from different economic backgrounds makes it possible to observe the way social settings affected survival over a lifetime," says Thornton.

The Master Genealogist 8 and Family Tree Builder 6.0

At Tuesday evening's meeting of the OGS Ottawa Branch Mike More mentioned in passing that the latest version of The Master Genealogist has been released. I googled it.

To the left is what I found on the home page of Wholly Genes, the company behind The Master Genealogist, the background showing computer code with with expressions like "Runtime error in /Merchant2/4.24/modules/util/DEN_TINYCART.mvc". 

It's fixed now, but catered to my previous prejudice that this is a program for techies, not the average genealogist. 

A review for version 7 summarizes, "The Master Genealogist genealogy software is designed for only the most serious genealogists who approach family history with discipline and highly technical skills. This is not a family friendly program. Heirloom projects give way to statistical reports. There are higher ranked programs that are powerful, easy to use and more inviting."

Is the new version 8 any more user friendly?

I've not reviewed it, but judging by the information available, I don't think so. To get a demo you're asked to download an executable file with all the alarm bells that sets off. Why not on YouTube? Read the features and you're blessed with reams of technical detail, enough to deter anyone but those with the most "highly technical skills."

It's also a program the company seems to want to keep a secret. Aside from the announcement on the company website I could find no other mention of version 8 on the internet including social networks.

That's in contrast to the release of version 6.0 of the Family Tree Builder software announced on the My Heritage blog. There's lots of coverage.You can download a free version. It's not a program I've tried; I'm already confused enough with having different versions of my genealogy database on Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker!

22 December 2011

Alternative source for pre-1858 Welsh wills

FamilySearch have added a collection of abstracts of pre-1858 wills and administrations for the dioceses of Llandaff (1575-1839), St. Asaph (1760-1790), and St. David's (1610-1858). There are 71,262 images browseable by diocese and year. These are abstracts, not the original probate images. A wiki entry on the collection is at http://goo.gl/vJ6Fw

The National Library of Wales have a more extended collection of Welsh wills, with original images. See the posting at http://goo.gl/rkl6o

News from OGS Ottawa Branch

I attended the final monthly meeting of the branch for 2011. It was a question and answer session with a panel, preceded by announcements.

Mike More will become co-Chair of the Branch, sharing duties with Heather Oakley, starting in 2012.

Mike More will be stepping down as Region 8 chair in 2012, and running for OGS vice-President.

Although many board positions remain vacant Tania Jones has stepped forward to organize the program.

Starting in January Branch monthly meetings will be held on a Saturday afternoon at the Ottawa City Archives building, 100 Tallwood Drive. The day will vary depending on facility availability. Check the website at www.bytown.net/

John Patton announced that a new CD publication of BMD announcements from three early Ottawa newspapers will be available from the Branch early in the new year.

Present at the meeting was Al Lewis, whose Bytown of Bust website of "Immigration and Settlement in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, Canada, in the 1800's, Including the Cities of Ottawa and Hull / Gatineau" at www.bytown.net/ is an essential area resource. 

Yuletide R&R - Christmas fantasy

Via Digital Buzz, animation from the PNC Financial Services Group, their annual Christmas Price Index the form of the “Index Express”, an amazing Christmas train scene created by hand, delivering an animated experience helping to educate consumers on the price of everything in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” carol.

21 December 2011

Ancestry update Ottawa's Beechwood cemetery records

One of the major additions to the Ancestry database this year for those of us with an Ottawa interest was the Beechwood Cemetery Registers, 1873-1990. The file is now updated, although as usual we're not told what's added or changed.

Ancestry have added few other smaller items: 
  • Halifax And Its Business : Containing Historical Sketch And Description Of The City And Its Institutions 
  • An Historical And Descriptive Account Of British America, Vol. 1 - 3
  • Emigration To Canada (1872) 
  • Emigration To Canada (1875) 

Yuletide R&R favourites - 2

From the official website of BBC History Magazine, "Those meddling bureaucrats..."

It includes this old one " European heaven: Where the British do the policing, the French do the cooking, the Italians do the lovemaking and the Germans do the administration. European hell: Where the policing is French, the cooking British, the administration is Italian and the lovemaking is German." 

20 December 2011

Scotland's top baby names for 2011

Jack and Sophie continue to reign in Scotland, that's for 2011 baby name registrations to late November from the General Register Office for Scotland.

Jack remains as the most popular name for baby boys; Lewis, James and Logan remain in second, third and fourth places respectively. Ethan is up 6 places to 5th.

For the seventh consecutive year Sophie is the most popular girls' name.  Lily climbs seven places to second place. Ava stays in third. Olivia is fourth while Emily and Lucy tie for fifth.

The top 50 names accounted for 45 per cent of the boys and 43% of the girls.

The full lists of all first names registered and analysis of trends may be downloaded as a pdf from http://goo.gl/rXluD. 

Dick Eastman on "The Family History World in 10 Years Time"

If you're interested in the future of genealogy, or family history, I recommend taking an hour to listen to this presentation given earlier this month by Dick Eastman to the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, Inc.
The full title of the presentation is the Family History World in 10 Years Time: Changing research trends, a changing audience, and being "online all the time" with handheld devices.

The video is available until January 14th, view it here.  Use the password "MSOG". 

It's an audience friendly presentation. I don't think Dick has everything right, and suspect he agrees. Prediction is a precarious business. Perhaps as a former weather forecaster I can say that with some authority! 

I think Dick missed out in not mentioning DNA until asked during the question period; made no mention of newspapers even though he pointed out that younger genealogists are more interested in stories than pedigrees, and neglected to mention the possibility of computer interpretation of handwriting.

Dick certainly challenges some of the lethargy and myopic approaches that pervade some of our societies. I recommend taking the time to view it.

1871 Scottish census transcription new at findmypast.co.uk

Hard on the heels of their Scottish 1861 census transcription, findmypast.co.uk have now added the 1871 census. That makes 1841-1871 available through FMP with later year transcriptions promised in 2012.

19 December 2011

OGS Ottawa Branch December Meeting

From the Ottawa Branch website at http://ogsottawa.on.ca/?cat=6
Date:           Tuesday, 20 December 2011: 7:00 p.m.
Location:     City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive
Networking (AKA Juice and Cookies) 7:00 to 7:30
7:30 Upcoming Events and Announcements
7:45  Questions and Answers: Get answers to your genealogical questions from our panel of experienced members, with help from the rest of the audience. They may even have the correct answer. :-)   We will start with a case study of the research of new member Cindy Enright and some of this may help your line of investigation. We will then open the floor to the membership for questions. Among our panel will be:
  • Dorothy Meyerhof;: UEL/Lineage Societies:
  • Jim Stanzell: War of 1812: ;
  • Mike More: The Master Genealogist: software
  • Charles Godwin: general computer questions
  • John Patton: research in Leeds & Grenville Counties
Contact:        http://ogsottawa.on.ca
Everyone welcome. Free refreshments. Free parking.

Chris Paton commits blogicide

I admire the genealogy blogging and writing that Chris Paton does.  Since I first discovered his Scottish GENES blog, I don't think that was the original name, I've witnessed Chris working hard to bring us news from Scotland with frequent excursions to Ireland and England.  He has built his business through books, columns and lectures.

Some while ago he polled his readers asking if he should expand the scope of the blog beyond Scotland, and then had to report his blog readers didn't want that. I felt at the time that wasn't Chris's preference, so wasn't surprised when a little later he opened another blog, British GENES. Often the same items ran in both.

Now Chris has announced he's closing Scottish GENES and will post every thing that would have been in Scottish GENES there, at www.britishgenes.blogspot.com.

Read more about this change at the last post on Scottish GENES.

The link in the left hand column is now to British GENES so you can go there directly for my site.

18 December 2011

Canada150 update

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum was the venue last Monday, 12 November, for a consultation session with about 25 representatives of various organizations in the heritage community. I was invited as a blogger; I'd better earn my invitation!

This Canada 150 project invites Canadians to share their family and community histories. The project will officially launch on 1 July 2012 giving five years to achieve its ambitions targets.

The MC for the event was Paul Jones, well known to Ontario genealogists, a Board member of Canada's History, a national charity devoted to public history. 

We were welcomed by Denise Amyot, President and CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation. She announced that starting in 2014, in the 150 weeks leading up to the 150th anniversary, the Museums Corporation will be placing online a select group of 150 objects, one a week, and invite Canadians to tell their stories related to them. She also remarked that the Science and Technology Museum was established in 1967 as a Centennial initiative, commented they are still in temporary location, and mused that it would be a good 150th anniversary initiative for the museum to be installed in a permanent location.

In the mid-1990s Harry van Bommel, project founder, had a vision of celebrating Canada's sesquescentennial through stories Canadians told about themselves, their families, communities and organizations of which they are part. 

On 1 July 2017 he envisions the Canada 150 collection of 1.5 million stories, short and long, presented to the Governor General on our behalf as our gift to Canada. Replicating the enthusiasm of 1967, as well as the Olympics, it would be an inclusive project, the largest nation-building historical exercise in our history. 

Memorable beyond 2017 it would constitute an accessible and easily searchable collection so that the children of today, in 30 or 50 years, will be able to see what they wrote about themselves and their communities. People would be able to type in any search term and perhaps find an item of relevance to them, likely written by someone else who shared an experience such as attending the same school.

Harry van Bommel sees the bulk of the material being photographs with a story attached that people can upload to a common website. It would also include digital versions of family collections such as scrapbooks, photograph albums, films and videos, and more conventional digitized family histories. Material need not be newly created as long as it was available in the digital collection.

Canadians are ready to celebrate. A 2010 poll of 1000 Canadian found that 49% of respondents thought it very important to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, 32% thought it was somewhat important, 37% were very interested in participating, 42% somewhat interested.

This project to date is completely volunteer, there is no budget. There is the beginning of a database of people who want to write their stories, and who want to help. People from all kinds of communities have expressed interest and the start of a contact list which needs to grow further. There's a website at www.canada150.ca, a blog, a Facebook page, and a very nice logo courtesy of Canada's History society. It's also at www.canada150.com, .org and .net

Accompanying the vision are a draft business plan, rough budgets, and an examination of lessons to be drawn from the 1867 Centennial and the Vancouver Olympics which were presented in some detail at the meeting.

Before moving into small group discussion Paul Calandra, MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage encouraged the initiative while presenting his thoughts on the coming 150th birthday celebrations. He spoke about the need for planning well in advance, a mistake with the 125th anniversary, and enthusiastically about making the celebration even more successful than the Centennial. The House of Commons committee on Canadian Heritage is holding hearings on celebrating the sesquescentennial and is due to report before summer 2012.

Group discussions were on the topics
  • How to get organizations involved in Canada 150 using their current resources
  • How to expand the board and tap into other communities
  • Finances
The results of those discussions are input to the project board.

This project is grassroots, not a government initiative. That's just as it was in 1967 as expressed in this TED video.

I admire the initiative Harry has shown. No small thinking there.

I'm hoping that Library and Archives Canada will find it a worthwhile contribution to the event to offer to archive and continue to make available the 1.5 million items contributed. A major part of LAC's lexicon these days is "trusted digital repository." Maintaining the project archive would be no small contribution.

One can see the result when continuity of availability, such as provided by a major national memory institution, is not part of the plan with the 1986 BBC Domesday Project. Produced in a proprietary videodisc format it became unreadable when the BBC computer went the way of the dodo. It has been made available again, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday , thanks to a substantial recovery effort and provides snapshots of community life at the time.

More genealogy site rankings

Uberblogger Dick Eastman got me in trouble. Not that I mind.

Any time Dick, at eogn.com, mentions my blog, which he's done a couple of times previously, I get a spike of visits.  This time he saw my posting on the rankings of genealogy sites and pointed out that his site ranked the highest of any non-data site in the list. Thanks for the mention and kind words Dick. All I did was call them as I see them on Alexa.

How did it get me in trouble? While I do call them I see only what I look for, the sites I find valuable for the mandate of this blog. Read it at the top of the page


There are lots of genealogy sites, good genealogy sites, that don't fall in the scope of my independent perspective. That's particularly the case with many US sites. A couple of their proprietors politely contacted me pointing out the lacunae. That probably wouldn't have happened if Dick hadn't noted his ranking.

One that cropped up, they didn't contact me, is archives.com (Alexa rank 8,477). I'd thought it only has US data, but see they also have BMD index and census transcriptions for England and Wales so it will get into the regular table. In fact it ranks above eogn.com (40,852) so Dick will lose his unlucky 13th spot in the genealogy sites list.

Two other sites, genealogytoday.com (118,669) and mocavo.com (134,126) come in above anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com (159,611) dropping it three places.

Other sites not in the original list ranked above 1,000,000 by Alexa are:

scotlandspeople.gov.uk 221,617
thegenealogist.co.uk 292,373
britishgenes.blogspot.com 292,914
olivetreegenealogy.blogspot.com 377,772historyextra.com 377,773
bi-gen.blogspot.com  559,298

There are probably others, Suggestions welcome for any Canadian, UK or international site that ranks better than 1,000,000 by Alexa.

17 December 2011

Ancestry adds more of the Tyler Collection (East Kent)

From the Tyler Collection of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies Ancestry now has online a 303,872 record index of East Kent parish records, 1538-1874. This collection was indexed from Frank Watt Tyler's notebooks through the Ancestry World Archives Project.

Ancestry had added images from the Tyler collection back in April, see

Does anyone know more about Frank Watt Tyler?  It appears he was most active in the 1930s and was for several years the Hon. Sec. of the Kent Archaeological Society.  There are 306 entries of items in the FHL catalog associated with his name.

There are several letter he wrote in The Times. He may have been in the insurance business. One of his letters, published on 3 October 1929 regarding "An Ancient Fire Policy", mentions a man whose full baptismal name was "If-Christ-had-not-died-thou-hadst-been-damned Nicholas Barebones, the son of "Praise-God Barebones."

A likely looking death index record for a Frank W. Tyler is in the Bridge registration district in 1952 giving his age as 81.

FMP adds Napoleonic war records

New to findmypast.co.uk three types of Napoleon-era military record:

  • Army of Reserve 1803: 26,314 records of soldiers who were part of the 1803 England and Wales Army of Reserve
  • Regimental indexes 1806: 97,463 regimental records of Napoleonic era soldiers from 1806
  • Foot Guards attestation papers 1775-1817: 9,309 records of soldiers' attestations to the 1st Foot Guard between 1775 and 1817

Jill Chambers, who supplied these index records, has further information at http://www.britisharmyresearchnapoleonicwars.co.uk/

16 December 2011

Yuletide R&R favourites - I

I'm planning on posting a series of items during the festive season as folks are busy with preparations, news becomes scarce and the number of visitors to the blog declines.

I'll repeat some of the favourite YouTube items, classics of British comedy with some nostalgia items thrown in, posted last year. I also plan examples of more creative videos discovered.

This first is the classic which lead off this series last year from the British comedy duo "The Two Ronnies"

Genealogy site rankings

Here, using Alexa.com, are the global rankings for a selection of genealogy-related websites as of 15 December 2011. In parenthesis find the rankings at not quite equal intervals back to six and a half months ago.

Ancestry.com's stock may be dropping but it's climbing in the rankings to its highest place ever in this set. Ancestry.ca moves up one slot in the table.

Myheritage.com, the top genealogy social networking site, slips marginally but the company recent acquisition worldvitalrecords.com made a major advance.

Legacyfamilytree.com moved above familytreemaker.com

Since the last update 41 rankings have increased, 6 declined.
ancestry.com 974, (1,021), (1,103), (1,076), (984)
myheritage.com 3,565, (3,359), (3,524), (4,573), (3,886)
familysearch.org 6,449, (7,208), (8,497), (9,138), (9,120)
geni.com 7,262, (8,456), (7,768), (7,068), (8,086)
genealogy.com 10,948, (11,105), (12,295), (12,691), (12,190)
ancestry.co.uk  11,912, (12,737), (15,944), (17,199), (17,243)
archives.gov 15,462, (17,162), (17,366), (17,053), (18,209)
nationalarchives.gov.uk 17,613, (18,074), (21,600), (21,801), (18,550)
findmypast.co.uk  33,005, (42,383), (68,220), (69,394), (81,411)
ancestry.ca 38,158, (44,332), (54,036), (51,631), (42,325)
23andme.com  39,859, (45,204), (41,077), (38,146), (41,700)
genesreunited.co.uk 40,501, (42,547), (50,347), (51,699), (46,279)
eogn.com 41,458, (69,059), (135,238), (123,589), (150,226)
genealogyintime.com 46,671, (87,791), (615,133), (839,046), (784,440)
familytreedna.com  54,402, (59,819), (57,972), (67,246), (80,397)
worldvitalrecords.com 86,886, (130,933), (205,946), (250,031), (175,547)
cyndislist.com 99,715, (112,034), (116,532), (101,523), (86,990)
freebmd.org.uk 111,912, (129,726), (178,177), (204,998), (212,655)
jiapu.com 122,212, (116,716), (129,664), (176,217), (168,666)
familytreemagazine.com 115,214, (164,353), (296,260), (309,746), (201,288)
legacyfamilytree.com 145,810, (220,038), (325,569), (334,563), (273,131)
genuki.org.uk 152,152, (167,623), (177,305), (194,673), (193,436)
familytreemaker.com 152,372, (180,222), (216,098), (198,889), (161,170)
anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com 160,633, (280,037), (1,407,276), (1,624,999), (2,418,382)
rootsmagic.com 189,045, (320,252), (528,067), (469,630), (372,173)
americanancestors.org 193,880, (327,065), (568,638), (413,274), (276,418)
geneabloggers.com 262,399, (331,231), (671,941), (635,502), (438,407)
cwgc.org 275,362, (332,427), (304,733), (307,860), (527,236)
genealogywise.com 316,862, (397,010), (702,073), (895,754), (525,834)
lostcousins.com 340,183, (674,248), (2,427,784), (1,815,516), (2,677,921)
automatedgenealogy.com 350,302, (376,823), (471,773), (452,499), (296,376)
ogs.on.ca 448,452, (757,331), (1,487,132), (1,440,397), (1,289,655)
globalgenealogy.com 554,157, (681,424),(1,101,224), (1,019,853), (830,338)
ngsgenealogy.org 561,996, (439,639), (292,785), (507,702), (770,719)
sog.org.uk 773,042, (957,333), (1,050,849), (965,288), (708,746)
scottishancestry.blogspot.com 914,280, (1,134,859), (1,414,288), (-), (-)
whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com  923,728, (1,037,678), (1,023,413), (993,634), (994,049)
family-tree.co.uk 943,801, (1,593,687), (2,407,513), (1,684,518) (1,836,425)
ffhs.org.uk 958,864, (1,215,275), (1,201,950), (1,210,668), (1,267,779)
deceasedonline.com 1,279,069, (1,318,500),  (2,452,985), (1,902,137), (1,648,569)
rootsuk.com  1,443,015, (1,677,033), (2,030,679), (2,724,618), (1,340,610)
familychronicle.com  1,475,946, (2,192,955), 2,763,979, (2,224,075), (1,881,611)
bcgcertification.org 2,221,113, (2,010,085), (2,329,800), (1,874,498), (1,601,646)
bifhsgo.ca 2,483,731, (2,045,032), (2,541,927), (4,938,796), (7,145,992)
genealogicalstudies.com  2,933,768, (2,654,497), (1,555,150), (1,328,035), (1,093,695)
bcgs.ca 3,525,820, (4,749,980), (3,361,982), (3,459,358), (3,313,414)
arcalife.com 3,725,178, (4,398,434), (2,803,254), (2,343,474), (2,356,437)
internet-genealogy.com   3,598,927, (6,471,779), (10,981,334), (10,510,651), (3,234,636)
qfhs.ca 8,062,969, (10,593,990), (12,118,104), (9,884,139), (6,654,860)

These are all genealogy-specific sites. There are many other general sites we all use, including for our family history investigations.  Click the links to see the latest lists of top sites globallyin Canada and in the UK.

15 December 2011

British Newspaper Archive - update

On release of the British Newspaper Archive we were promised 8,000 new pages a day. They've been doing better. From 9,695 pages added the first day they averaged 9,853 pages per day in the first two weeks of December.

There are now 176 titles in the collection, 52 issues of the Coventry Herald and 53 of the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald have been added. 77 other papers have issues added, the largest number being for:

 London Daily News  2840
 Aberdeen Journal  2221
 Hampshire Telegraph  1932
 Derby Mercury  1278
 Nottingham Evening Post 1184
 Worcester Journal  1183
 Norfolk Chronicle  835
 Bristol Mercury  800
 Morning Chronicle  760
 Freeman's Journal  727

On average there are 5.7 pages per issue in the added issues indicating a lot of four page papers at this stage.

Ottawa City Archives

When Councillor Maria McRae said "Ottawa has a garbage problem" she wasn't referring to Council's approval of naming the building at 100 Tallwood Drive for James Bartleman. It would have been appropriate to the process. With one vote in the negative, that of Rainer Bloess, Council approved the product of a highly flawed commemorative naming process.

While this is a distant concern for many readers I'll take the opportunity to wrap up the story for those who may be curious.

At Wednesday's Council meeting Rick Chiarelli championed the proposal for the mayor.

A few council members expressed reservations, and concern about the process.

Rainer Bloess found the process sufficiently flawed to speak and vote against the council committee recommendation.

David Chernushenko express concerns with the whole commemorative naming process, although he didn't see the actual recommendation as enough of a problem to vote against it.

Bob Monette contemplated a vote against while being most concerned about finding a place to commemorate former City Librarian Claude Aubrey. He received assurances from Jan Harder, Library Board Chair, that a suitable building to bear his name would be found.

What I saw at the meeting was Council showing team solidarity, which is good for the community most of the time. When you find yourself on the wrong end of position championed by the issue leader determined to have his way by riding roughshod over public opinion, in this case the mayor, one endures the consequences.

The commemorative naming process needs an overhaul.

Meetings were held in secret despite assurances they were not automatically in camera.

The official public consultation result was manipulated by ruling the majority of responses non-compliant, even without recourse to hanging chads.

No account was taken of the petition signed by 115 people showing more people opposed to the proposal than all who responded to the official consultation. Petitions are always a feint hope but a last resort to put the public opinion on the record when the official consultation process is so grossly manipulated to provide the result desired.

The consolation is that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Thanks to the efforts of many Ottawa enjoys a serviceable, if architecturally mundane, archives is at 100 Tallwood that will serve for many years to come.

14 December 2011

Queen's Diamond Jubilee plans

To mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Charles, Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit Canada.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh intend to travel as widely as possible across the UK.

More on the plans for travel by Royal family members are at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16174233

TNA podcast: Untold histories: black Britons during the period of the British slave trade, c. 1660-1807

Life for the 'average' black person in England before and into the Victorian age wasn't what you might imagine.  There was never slavery in England, as there was in Scotland; that's according to Dr Kathleen Chater in this podcast from a lecture given during TNA's recent Diversity Week

According to Chater most were quietly getting on with their lives, seeking employment, getting married and raising families. Despite the obstacle that blacks were rarely identified as such in official records, and it takes a lot of work to uncover their life histories, glimpses into their lives can be found buried in The National Archives' vast collection. The presentation contains anecdotes about some colourful individuals.

Listen from http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/untold-histories-black-britons.htm

Ontario Senior Achievement Award for the Preservation of History

Have you ever looked at the Historic Images Gallery at www.mississauga.ca/historicimages? It’s a project of the Mississauga Library System, Museums of Mississauga, and two offices of the City of Mississauga, Planning & Heritage and Administration & Cemeteries.

Dorothy Kew played an important role in the development of the site and continues to work on it as a part-time librarian in the Mississauga Library System. She is the proud recipient of an Ontario Senior Achievement Award for the Preservation of History. The Honourable David Onley will present the awards on December 14, 2011 at Queen’s Park.

Congratulations to Dorothy.

via Liz McQuaigLibrarian, Arts & History Department, Mississauga Central Library

13 December 2011

My Ottawa Morning interview

On Tuesday morning I had the pleasure, despite the early hour, of being interviewed on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning program by the new host, Robyn Bresnahan, on the petition drive I've undertaken regarding naming the building housing the main City Archives at 100 Tallwood Drive.

Here it is, for the record: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Radio/Local_Shows/Ontario/Ottawa_Morning/1366095551/ID=2176229230

Barbara Clubb retires

Today marks the retirement of long time Ottawa city Librarian Barbara Clubb.

Barbara has provided exceptional leadership for the City's library system.

One of the challenges she leaves for her successors is the question of a new main city library.  In her final report to the Library Board she provides, toward that end, a concise summary of major library developments in other cities in recent years, including photographs showing the type of landmark architecture Ottawa so sorely needs.

I'd like to offer appreciation for Barbara's service and wish her well for the future.

WW1 digitized microfilms from LAC

Library and Archives Canada announces availability of over 127,000 new images for the:

These are unindexed, but the files are in name order with a key to the name range on each digital microfilm found under the corresponding help file.

No investigation of a Canadian WW1 casualty is complete without searching these files, facilitated now with online availability. 

12 December 2011

Early Victorian London

I caught the tail end of an interview Eleanor Wachtel, one of the treasures of CBC radio, had on Writers and Company with Claire Tomalin in anticipation of the bicentenary of the birth, and her new biography, of Charles Dickens.

Asked about her favourite Dickens book Tomalin avoided the issue, the first mentioned of several being Sketches by "Boz," Illustrative of Every-day (London) Life and Every-day People published between 1833 and 1836, so they're not strictly Victorian. The episode should be coming soon on iTunes. Read the book from here.

Only a few hours later I came across a review of The Blackest Streets: The Rise and Fall of a Victorian Slum by Sarah Wise on the Post It Notes from Hades blog. Persephone describes it as "a very readable account of the neighbourhood behind St Leonard Shoreditch which, for about one century, had the reputation of being the dirtiest, poorest, and most dangerous place in London," but only gives the book three stars out of five.

CAUT video on LAC

A short You Tube message from the Canadian Association of University Teachers about the dangers of Library and Archives Canada's direction.


11 December 2011

More on naming the Ottawa main archives building

A previous post summarized the situation regarding finding a name for the building which houses the new main City Archives.

This late in the process options for further input are limited. However, the city policy is clear: "The City of Ottawa is committed to citizen engagement and supports petitions as one tool for citizens to have input into Council’s decision making process."

At Saturday's meeting of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa a petition was circulated, not formally endorsed by the Society, regarding the naming.

Whereas: the building housing the main city archives at 100 Tallwood Drive is proposed to be named for James Bartleman, who has made substantial contributions to Canada and Ontario; and
Whereas: that building should be named for a person or persons with a strong connection to the history and heritage of Ottawa, a criterion not met by the proposal.
I/We the undersigned, petition the Council of the City of Ottawa:to seek a more suitable name through a fully open and transparent process.  
The petition is signed by 103 people with perhaps a few more coming.

During the city official consultation period 86 responses were received, of which 39 were disqualified as not focusing on the intended purpose of the consultation, at least to some extent. That would include responses that proposed another name.

Of the remaining 47 responses in the city consultation 32 supported the Bartleman proposal. In this petition more than three times that number found it inappropriate to the function of the building.

The issue of naming the building is on the agenda for the Ottawa City Council meeting on Wednesday, 16 December.

No books

I don't normally cover items from Leland Meitzler's Genealogy Blog as it's usually US-centric, but the item Book Venders Banned from the RootsTech Exhibit Hall is of more than US interest, a sign of the times.

It refers to a note from RootsTech's Exhibit Hall Coordinator that:

"RootsTech exhibit hall is for technically related products and services. We are purposefully not accepting applications from genealogical studies, book publishers, book resellers or arts and crafts dealers."
This appears to continue the trend I sensed last year from the conference  - nothing to learn from the past, no room for the conventional. Reminds me of the Dot Com bubble days when we were told the old ways of evaluating stocks no longer applied.

Best use all tools at your disposal, and use them together.

10 December 2011

Recent improvements to public services at LAC?

Recent days have seen an increase in LAC communications. I'll quote the latest item in full, they likely won't mind!

Recent improvements to public services at Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is committed to providing services and tools that allow you to discover, engage with, and share your documentary heritage. Thanks to client feedback, we identified service issues and discussed how best to address them. Here are the resulting improvements for 2010-2011.

Better search: We made some changes to the LAC website so you can access our rich and varied holdings quickly and easily. You will find helpful tips on how to use the Archives Search tool in our Search Help section.

New research guides: We added research guides to the LAC website to help you find materials on a range of topics, including Canadiana keyword searching in AMICUS the national catalogue of published materials; internment camp records; and ethnocultural groups. Most of these are available at:
More records online: We digitized many more resources, which are now available to you on the LAC website. These include materials in popular research areas, such as genealogy, family history, and military history. Access the complete list here.

Access to previously restricted materials: Recent legal decisions enable us to grant more public access to important collections: Second World War Service Files and all photographs in private collections to which donors or copyright holders allow access "for archival purposes."

Canada’s history and heritage is just a click away.
This is welcome progress over the past two years, 2010-2011. It's good communications to remind people of the things the organization has achieved, perhaps things overlooked when announced the first time around. 

Unfortunately not everything goes smoothly when you check it out.  I tried the Archives Search and got the response

Archives Search Result

We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please try again later. Library and Archives Canada regrets the inconvenience.

The wording on the Second World War Service Files suggests there's information on other's aside from those who died during the conflict.  Not the case, and even for those the information online is little different from what's been available elsewhere for years.

That's from LAC. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission site, online for many years, gives:

From LAC you get the reference, RG 23, and the volume. You do not get the Grave Memorial Reference and Cemetery given by the CWGC.

LAC have started to add the complete service files for WW1 soldiers as scanned copies are requested, and paid for, by clients. I got a notice a few days ago that my great uncle's file is finally linked. Progress. 

09 December 2011


I'm celebrating.

Yesterday this blog passed half a million page-loads. Thanks to all who have visited.

08 December 2011

Ancestry adds 1911 census of England

It's taken a while but Ancestry announces they have the 1911 census for England, as well as Wales, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, indexed and online.

Taken on the night of Sunday, 2 April 1911 the original information is a form, one per household, giving name, relationship to head of family, age at last birthday, sex, marriage details (including number of children), occupation (for people age 10 and over), birthplace, nationality, infirmity (deaf, blind, lunatic, etc.; infirmity information will not be available until 2012 for privacy reasons), postal address

There are forms to institutions such as hospitals, prisons, and workhouses. Men on Royal Navy and merchant marine vessels were counted, as were the families of military personnel stationed overseas.

Find it at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2352

Don't forget to check the corresponding record in the census summary book, also on Ancestry, with information on the type of property (such as a house, flat or shop), and statistics on the local population.